Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category.

Hijacking the News

So one guy in a white panel truck in spain drives into a crowd and all of a sudden, there is no other news. Why is that?  They know very little, it has little relevance to the United States so why the 24/7 coverage?  Sure report it.  It could happen here.  Oh wait! It did last Saturday.  Now reasonable coverage would report it, give us updates, when the facts become known.

Also some very minor measures would end this kind of attack anyway.  How about the requirement for bollards in all outside seating or major pedestrian ways.  Did they require picture ID when they rented the van and did they make a copy of it?  Why not have cameras in these kinds of target areas so you are going to get caught for sure.

Oh, I get it, this will not stop it. No, crazy people will do crazy things whether they are religious fanatics or white supremacists.  But, really, I look at the news and try to figure out what we can learn.  Nothing here except maybe the 24/7 coverage gives them what they need, and life in a free world with nut cases roaming around can be dangerous and we need to be aware of our surroundings.

There is no prevention of these kind of attacks if they are one-off.  We really have to look at the communities they come from and hope these communities will police themselves.  But other than that, there is not much we can do.  So the news is horrified by the bodies and then shows us pictures.  Meanwhile the president tweets nonsense based upon a fictionalized story about General Pershing:

Less than an hour after issuing a measured statement in response to a deadly terror attack in Barcelona, President Trump trotted out a false, internet-created, anti-Muslim urban legend. “Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught,” the president tweeted. “There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” Trump repeatedly referenced the fabricated tale during the 2016 presidential campaign, despite it having been disproven on numerous occasions. According to the lie, U.S. General John J. Pershing threatened Muslim terrorists in the Philippines by executing them with bullets dipped in pigs’ blood and burying them among the pigs. Earlier in the afternoon, the president released a surprisingly restrained statement: “The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!”

The lead story every day should be what a sack of shit we have for President.  That the real danger to this country is a man so ignorant of facts has his had on the nuclear switch.The real question you have to ask is why anyone with integrity would stay the course with him?  If they leave he could go postal with the country, but if they stay, he may go postal with them on board.  I think they are enabling him and it is time to walk away.  That is the real news today, not another lone individual in a car killing people.  If you want to report on dead people, the numbers are much higher in West Virginia from opioid overdoses, and that is something we could do something about.

The Fantasyland We Live In

I have argued in many blogs that we have gone through the Looking Glass, and even our press treats absolute nonsense as an alternate point of view. But instead of boring you with my thoughts here I want to direct you to an article in Atlantic Magazine by Kurt Anderson on “How America Lost It’s Mind”. Here is the beginning:

The American experiment, the original embodiment of the great Enlightenment idea of intellectual freedom, whereby every individual is welcome to believe anything she wishes, has metastasized out of control. From the start, our ultra-individualism was attached to epic dreams, sometimes epic fantasies—every American one of God’s chosen people building a custom-made utopia, all of us free to reinvent ourselves by imagination and will. In America nowadays, those more exciting parts of the Enlightenment idea have swamped the sober, rational, empirical parts. Little by little for centuries, then more and more and faster and faster during the past half century, we Americans have given ourselves over to all kinds of magical thinking, anything-goes relativism, and belief in fanciful explanation—small and large fantasies that console or thrill or terrify us. And most of us haven’t realized how far-reaching our strange new normal has become.

Much more than the other billion or so people in the developed world, we Americans believe—really believe—in the supernatural and the miraculous, in Satan on Earth, in reports of recent trips to and from heaven, and in a story of life’s instantaneous creation several thousand years ago.

We believe that the government and its co-conspirators are hiding all sorts of monstrous and shocking truths from us, concerning assassinations, extraterrestrials, the genesis of aids, the 9/11 attacks, the dangers of vaccines, and so much more.

And this was all true before we became familiar with the terms post-factual and post-truth, before we elected a president with an astoundingly open mind about conspiracy theories, what’s true and what’s false, the nature of reality.

We have passed through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole. America has mutated into Fantasyland.

How widespread is this promiscuous devotion to the untrue? How many Americans now inhabit alternate realities? Any given survey of beliefs is only a sketch of what people in general really think. But reams of survey research from the past 20 years reveal a rough, useful census of American credulity and delusion. By my reckoning, the solidly reality-based are a minority, maybe a third of us but almost certainly fewer than half. Only a third of us, for instance, don’t believe that the tale of creation in Genesis is the word of God. Only a third strongly disbelieve in telepathy and ghosts. Two-thirds of Americans believe that “angels and demons are active in the world.” More than half say they’re absolutely certain heaven exists, and just as many are sure of the existence of a personal God—not a vague force or universal spirit or higher power, but some guy. A third of us believe not only that global warming is no big deal but that it’s a hoax perpetrated by scientists, the government, and journalists. A third believe that our earliest ancestors were humans just like us; that the government has, in league with the pharmaceutical industry, hidden evidence of natural cancer cures; that extraterrestrials have visited or are visiting Earth. Almost a quarter believe that vaccines cause autism, and that Donald Trump won the popular vote in 2016. A quarter believe that our previous president maybe or definitely was (or is?) the anti-Christ. According to a survey by Public Policy Polling, 15 percent believe that the “media or the government adds secret mind-controlling technology to television broadcast signals,” and another 15 percent think that’s possible. A quarter of Americans believe in witches. Remarkably, the same fraction, or maybe less, believes that the Bible consists mainly of legends and fables—the same proportion that believes U.S. officials were complicit in the 9/11 attacks.

…A senior physician at one of America’s most prestigious university hospitals promotes “miracle cures” on his daily TV show. Cable channels air documentaries treating mermaids, monsters, ghosts, and angels as real. When a political-science professor attacks the idea “that there is some ‘public’ that shares a notion of reality, a concept of reason, and a set of criteria by which claims to reason and rationality are judged,” colleagues just nod and grant tenure. The old fringes have been folded into the new center. The irrational has become respectable and often unstoppable.

…Treating real life as fantasy and vice versa, and taking preposterous ideas seriously, is not unique to Americans. But we are the global crucible and epicenter. We invented the fantasy-industrial complex; almost nowhere outside poor or otherwise miserable countries are flamboyant supernatural beliefs so central to the identities of so many people. This is American exceptionalism in the 21st century. The country has always been a one-of-a-kind place. But our singularity is different now. We’re still rich and free, still more influential and powerful than any other nation, practically a synonym for developed country. But our drift toward credulity, toward doing our own thing, toward denying facts and having an altogether uncertain grip on reality, has overwhelmed our other exceptional national traits and turned us into a less developed country.

Oh how we have passed through the looking glass and down the rabbit hole. I have argued in the past, maybe simplistically, that holding on to religion and religious beliefs means casting away your critical mind. We have believed that we can live in two worlds, the religious fantastical world, and the rational logical world. I don’t think we can. Once we admit to faith based beliefs that by definition do not have to be tested by critical thinking, our mind becomes a junk yard of what we want to believe. But Kurt takes it a step further by pointing out the foolish idea that all ideas deserve equal respect.

He probably does not do enough about how Republicans had to create an alternate reality to support their ideology and make it true. Way back in the late 60’s conservatives were cranking out carefully culled “facts” to support their view of the world. Let’s not forget that Big Tobacco led the way with their lies about cancer and cigarettes. Today it is big oil and global warming. Instead of letting reality inform us about our ideology, we let our ideology inform us about our reality. What we need to believe is more important than what is. Critical thinking got trashed. Anyway, I will get off my soap box here and let you just read the article, but it does explain a lot about how critical thinking and facts somehow got lost and now so are we. It explains how we got Donald Trump. Have a good weekend. I put a picture of my morning coffee on the front porch with my animals, who think everything I do is brilliant. Nice to have a little beauty when there is so much ugliness these days.

A Couple of Headlines and Anger

From the NYT:

Government Report Finds Drastic Impact of Climate Change on the U.S, – The average temperature in the United States has risen rapidly and drastically since 1980, and recent decades have been the warmest of the past 1,500 years, according to a sweeping federal climate change report awaiting approval by the Trump administration.The draft report by scientists from 13 federal agencies, which has not yet been made public, concludes that Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now. It directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet who say that the human contribution to climate change is uncertain, and that the ability to predict the effects is limited…Scientists say they fear that the Trump administration could change or suppress the report. But those who challenge scientific data on human-caused climate change say they are equally worried that the draft report, as well as the larger National Climate Assessment, will be publicly released. Public Works

Funding Falls as Infrastructure Deteriorates – Government spending on transportation and other public works is in decline as federal funding stagnates and state and local governments tighten their belts.Such spending equaled 1.4 percent of the nation’s economic output in the second quarter of 2017, the lowest level on record, according to Census Bureau data.

Now think about this. Scientists are finding the predicted climate change impacts even more severe than anticipated and we do nothing because of Republican climate deniers, ignorance and stupidity, and scientists have to leak the report for fear it will be suppressed. Meanwhile at home driving the roads is like going to a third world country. Our infrastructure is crumbling and we do nothing.

Thank you Republicans, and make no mistake, they are responsible beginning really in the Reagan era when they convinced everyone including clueless Democrats that government is the problem. Then they went on an ideological binge that could not be supported by reality, so they created their own fantasy reality and we get climate deniers and the trashing of science. And worst yet, we then put them in complete control of our government.

Make no mistake, I am very angry and I blame all Republicans some of whom may not hold all these stupid ideas, but facilitate those who do. I saw an interview the other day where a Trump supporter was demanding to know where Barack Obama was on 9/11. Was he on vacation? No you blubbering idiot, he was a college professor and state senator in Ohio. George Bush was President. That is what we forgive as angry about their economic situation. Well I don't. Our country is being destroyed from within by ignorance and stupidity and Republicans are the leaders of the pack. I don't want to understand or feel their pain. I want to ridicule and demean them so this kind of tolerance of stupid blatant ignorance is no longer acceptable.

We are losing our country and Republicans, all of them, are to blame. Now off to play golf. I should get at least an extra 10 yards on my drives with all the anger I am bottling up.

Cancer, Michael, and Heroes

Once in a while at an odd moment, thoughts of my cancer come flooding in. This time it was probably brought on by the fact that I go in for another PSA test and my PSA has been showing a slight rise.  Is this a new chapter? Now as far as cancer patients go, I have no complaints. While I have an incurable prostate cancer with a really high (9) Gleason score (highly aggressive), right now the treatment has put it in slow motion. So other than the side effects of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) and antiantrogen therapy to wipe out testosterone in the body (fatigue, loss of libido, some weight gain, hot flashes that never end, sore breasts), I am mostly fine. No pain, no chemo, no radiation or their horrible side effects. So it is easy to ignore it, forget your now on a fast-moving time clock, and just cruise like most of us did through our younger days. Sure, weight lifting is more of a challenge, and golf wipes me out for two days, losing weight is a bitch, but I can still do all of them. My tolerance of heat is non-existent, but I am not suffering the ravages from the treatment that most cancer patients suffer so bravely and fight so valiantly (My sister-in-law comes to mind as a close example).

But still, I know that when things start to go down hill, things are going to get tough, unless some new treatment comes along to prolong my life until I die of something else. When those thoughts come flooding in as they do sometimes, I think of the movie Michael, the archangel played by John Travolta, who was on his last trip to earth to pull off one more miracle. But he knows this is it, this is his last hurrah, he is not coming back. Michael lived life large and enjoyed the sensory pleasures of this world taking in everything life had to offer. But in a great scene, Michael has that same sense that I am sure most terminal patients all have at one time or another, about how much they love life.*

The scene is with Michael who sees a bull in the field and decides to take it on. The noble fight. Imagine the battle scene between the two when they charge at each other, full of the passion of the moment and the fight, and then Michael and the bull are both knocked out by a high-speed head butt (there might be something here being said about fighting itself and its utility). When Michael gets back to his feet with help from William Hurt, he reveals to Hurt that this is his last big blast on Earth, his last hoorah. Michael looks to the skies, eyes closed, arms up, wind in his hair, and says, “I’m gonna miss everything so much.”

That is exactly how I feel. It just could not almost be over. There is so much around me that is to rejoice in. Yeah, young love is gone no matter what, I am an old man after all, but I have a wonderful enduring love that few will ever experience. And then there is that sunset, the amazing beauty of the sun, the feeling of a breeze blowing by you, just the pure joy of living, of being, all of that is still there and the thing that comes flooding in, that soon this is going to be over. Take it in, drink it up. Stay in the moment. And then… I’m gonna miss everything so much.

But the moment I am trying to stay in will pass and I will be in another moment, one that could be brutally hard, not just on me, but for everyone around me. And that is when I think of heroes. People who just carry on when things get really tough. That is the real definition of a hero. I think of the Medal of Honor winner who was honored the other day at the White House, who was a medic who just carried on with his job risking everything for his comrades. Who does not have a hero fantasy about themselves? You know, some fantasy about you saving the world. We have a whole genre of movies these days about heroes.

I think they all miss the point. Heroes don’t have to be super. Heroes are all around us. People, who in the face of adversity, carry on. And many of them do it with such grace. Whether it is the last throes of cancer, a disability that puts them at a disadvantage in this life, a tragic loss, or simply being poor and disadvantaged. If you want to find heroes, stand in a crowd and look around. The fact that you don’t know their stories makes what they are going through and how they manage it so much more heroic. And whether they win or lose the battle is not the point, but how they nobly fought the fight.

And that is my next great challenge. Who knows, I may luck out, but then again I may not. And the challenge is to do this thing with grace and dignity, to leave those you love so very much ready to carry on without you, remembering you for your grace and dignity. This last chapter is really more about them than me. Am I up to it? I really don’t have a choice. I have to be up to it. And if I need a role model to inspire me to get me through, it is not the combat soldier, the Navy Seal, the fireman, the police officer, the usual suspects, it is a little old lady who spent her last days in pain, but carried on. It is the bravery of those around you who will have to shoulder the pain of your loss when you are gone. It is all around us and yet most of us are oblivious to it. Well, I see it, maybe because I now am forced to profoundly understand it. I just hope I am up to it.

*This is not to say that at the end, some could and should choose death when the reality of life and their disease overcomes them. I cannot help thinking of the bravery of Brittany Maynard, her husband, and her family on her journey with cancer, and giving the rest of us some modicum of control over our lives in the end. That is one amazing role model.

How Can They Get It So Wrong?

Ever noticed that when you are watching a Republican on TV rebut some obvious truth about the fallacy of their ideas they hog the microphone, and then when the other person tries to speak, they constantly interrupt? It is one of two things, they either think your ideas are so stupid and to not be worthy of listening to, or they know they are wrong and are trying to simply block the obvious facts from getting out. One of the things that I have maintained for years is that Republicans have just about everything wrong. It comes from the fact that they have this base ideology about the market place, government, and the basic nature of human beings that then results in trying to twist the world into knots to fit into that ideology, instead of questioning that ideology when it fails.

Oh, and there is another factor here, a basically fearful nature and lack of empathy that drives selfishness, and racism. Then they cloak all that in “common sense” which is code for unexamined beliefs. Look away from the actual data. It is no coincidence that this is the party that ignores science.

We saw that on display yesterday when Stephen Miller, an advisor to President Trump, aka the Village Idiot in Chief (VIC), presented the administration’s new plan for immigration which cuts immigration in half and puts into place a merit system to select “Foreign applicants who would receive a higher score if they “speak English,” can financially support themselves and have skills that “can contribute to our economy,” It is called the RAISE Act introduce by two sterling Republicans, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and David Perdue of Georgia (why is the South always implicated here?).

When Miller was pressed by reporters about where was the data that showed this would help, and not hurt us, “my god man, it is common sense”. Well actually not so much. The Washington Post had the real data this morning and the facts show that this will hurt us, and could hurt us very badly. Here are some excerpts:

A Washington Post survey of 18 economists in July found that 89 percent believe it’s a terrible idea for Trump to curb immigration to the United States. Experts overwhelmingly predict it would slow growth — the exact opposite of what Trump wants to do with “MAGAnomics.”

“Restricting immigration will only condemn us to chronically low rates of economic growth,” said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group. “It also increases the risk of a recession.”

…”This legislation demonstrates our compassion for struggling American families,” Trump said Wednesday. He believes immigrants — both legal and illegal — take jobs from Americans, even though the jobless rate in the country is incredibly low.

…In April, over 1,400 economists from across the political spectrum sent a letter to Trump urging him not to cut immigration. The letter said there was “near universal agreement” on the “the broad economic benefit that immigrants to this country bring.” Thomas Simons, senior economist at Jefferies investment firm, said a 50 percent reduction would be “absolutely harmful to an economy with a population undergoing the demographic transformation.”

You get the drift. While the basic idea of immigration reform is a good one, it is then applied in a way that hurts not helps the economy and notice that if you wipe out most immigration from low skilled workers, our agricultural economy would collapse. The point here is not to argue the RAISE act or the merits or problems of immigration reform, but to point out why the Republicans always get it wrong. They get it wrong because in reality this is all about White Nationalism born of fear and needing a scapegoat. This bill is going nowhere as there are already Republicans against it because the reductions hurt businesses in their states.

But the arguments are always interesting, eschewing data and facts in a complex issue and reverting to common sense. Note that that common sense is born in an alternate reality created to justify the continued efficacy of their ideology. In this case immigrants cause all our problems and they are mostly the wrong color. When the facts and data don’t support your ideas, create an alternate reality populated with alternate facts and bingo, the ideology is once again proven correct and everyone who disagrees is a biased elite moron. That is what was going on here and watching Stephen Miller attack the press and talk over them demonstrated for all to see (except the base who are blinded by the light) how conservatives, and in this case, White Nationalists, try to argue insanity and how they get most things wrong.

Just another day in Trump created America. Or maybe it was another bone thrown to rile up the base so when Mueller gets done, he is hoping Republicans will cower in the corner and do nothing. We will see.

Say What?

The Village Idiot in Charge never fails to deliver, day in and day out. Today he signed the Russian sanctions bill passed with a veto proof majority with this:

Trump signed the bill behind closed doors, with no press coverage. In one White House statement released after the signing, referred to as the "official signing statement," the president called some of the provisions "clearly unconstitutional."

So one could argue the merits of Congress doing foreign policy and limiting the President's tools (probably not successfully with this President), but "unconstitutional"? If you felt it was unconstitutional why would you ever sign it?

Then there is the new immigration reform bill, Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act, which would slash immigration by 50% and put in a merit system for immigrant applications:

White House staff have been working closely with Cotton and Perdue for weeks on the legislation, which would restrict how the U.S. admits immigrants and move to what Trump has described as a "merit-based" system similar to that used in Australia and Canada.

The proposal "ends chain migration," Trump said, referring to the preference for uniting family members in the current immigration system. It would implement a points-based system for awarding lawful permanent residency, or green cards.

Foreign applicants would receive a higher score if they "speak English," can financially support themselves and have skills that "can contribute to our economy," Trump said.

So don't “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” (From the Statue of Liberty). In fact based upon the State Department we don't five a flying fuck about democracy (yearning to breath free), Maybe we should rewrite the quote on the Statue of Liberty to "Give us your well to do, educated, will skills that will serve our corporate government. One might ask to show us the data that shows this the claims upon which this new policy is based, but all they could tell us was that it was obvious. I am sure that most guys who would work in my vineyard are educated, speak english, and have skills that would never get them near the back breaking work in field. Yeah, say what?

The Big Cop Out

From the NY Magazine:

Lindsey Graham, John McCain, and Ron Johnson twist themselves into a pretzel. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call,Inc.

“Four Republican senators — Lindsey Graham, John McCain, Ron Johnson, and Bill Cassidy — announced at a press conference that they would only support the Republican “skinny repeal” if they can be promised the House will not pass it into law. They described the law they are about to vote on as a disaster, and proceeded to explain why they could vote for it anyway.

Their arguments are a bundle of illogic. If there is a bill Senate Republicans would pass, they don’t need a conference to write it for them. They can pass it themselves. Why do they think a collection of House and Senate Republicans could do a better job of figuring out what Senate Republicans want to pass than the Senate Republicans could do themselves? Why not imagine their fantasy version of the greatest piece of legislation they could imagine emerging from the conference with the House, and then passing that in the Senate?

McCain made a slightly different, and even more absurd, argument. The elder statesman repeatedly called for Republicans and Democrats to work together, insisting Obamacare had failed because it had the support of only one party, and insisting bipartisanship offered the only path forward. And then he offered his probably decisive support for a bill that would prevent exactly that thing from happening. The conference committee McCain is explicitly hoping to convene would consist entirely of Republicans. It is a vehicle for a Republican-only health-care bill written through restrictive budget-reconciliation rules.

There are many Democrats and Republicans in both chambers eager to work together to shore up the exchanges. The only way that can happen would be if the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare, in whole or part, through budget reconciliation fails. McCain could have made it fail, and started bipartisan negotiations, by opposing it. Instead he is closing off the very thing he insists must happen.”

Could it get more absurd? Remember the Republicans have nothing to fix it it, only dismantle it. Once you finally admit that the free market works very poorly for healthcare, something many of them cannot bring themselves to believe after years of evidence to the show just that, they are out of ideas. Second, you have to understand how healthcare insurance, or for that matter any insurance works, by understanding that risk pools have to be expanded (universal coverage), and allowing “choice” simply reduces and aggregates risk pools into very risky and little risk, then you understand there is no Republican solution, only destruction. Tomorrow should be quite a day.

Dunkirk

Actual picture at Dunkirk on a Lorrie Dock waiting for a ship

Wow. A truly great movie. I think as the best I know combat and war, the reality was so well displayed about the human soul in desperate conditions. Don’t look for the John Waynes or frivolous violence, just the story of an army in very desperate straights. When one soul faltered, another stepped up, and oh we all falter. And the representative of the real heroes here, the people who got in their boats and went to get their army off that beach was a father, a son, and his son’s friend. And how they handled a horrible situation is a moment is quiet dignity and wisdom. What a truly beautiful movie.

From one source (Slate):

In terms of accuracy, it rates pretty highly. There are no big, glaring historical whoppers. The characters whom Nolan invents to serve his narrative purposes are realistic, and his scenes depict genuine events or hew close to firsthand accounts. And why not, since fiction could hardly outdo the drama and emotion of the reality? Nolan made clear that he intended the film to be a kind of history of an experience, and he succeeds about as well as any filmmaker could in conveying what it might have felt like to be on that beach.

That was what I thought too. It was about the experience and he nailed it. I also wondered about how many French got off and I found this:

It’s true that after the British and other Allied troops were evacuated—there was an effort focusing on the French that resulted in 75,000 rescues. But the scene of the French Army manning the sandbag barricade while Tommy escapes through them is a bit more true to life, because the fact is that many tens of thousands of French and French colonial troops fought and died as a rearguard for the escaping British.

The vast majority of the French who’d been evacuated returned to France after it came to terms with Germany. This isn’t because most were particularly fond of their conquerors or Nazism but because their country was no longer at war and their officers and government told them to come home. Besides, Germany was essentially holding the country hostage to assure their good behavior.

Now, let me just comment on the movie experience since I have not been to the movies in about six months. They are trying to create an experience you can not achieve on your couch and I believe they have arrived. The first thing I noticed was beer and wine in the lobby. Just what I need is more trips to the bathroom, but great idea. The next were the “seats”. You now can buy your tickets online and you have reserved seating (pick your seats). The seats themselves are full padded recliners operated by electric controls. The seat itself moves slightly with the action, i.e. slightly shakes as the bombs go off. Super comfortable and realistic. Then there is the sound which is now all around you including in the ceiling. It is about as close as you can get to being there.

But I think in the end a good movie experience depends on the story and the actors. There are plenty of really good actors out there, but most of the movies they make these days is for 12-year olds just off a gamer binge. But Dunkirk wasn’t one of those and there was much about the human condition. Go see it.

The Senate Republicans are Crazy Too

Why would you vote for a bill that affects 1/5 of your economy, that all versions so far have been rated as job killers (not to mention a real killer of people thrown off healthcare), and you have not even seen yet? Is there something in the water? No, wait! Democrats don't seem to have a problem see this for a bad idea. Do they drink different water?

The hope by Republicans is that something will pass that gets them past the 50 vote threshold so they can then debate away. But we still don't know what their goal is. Kill Obamacare for sure, but what is the goal for healthcare. Is it to return to before Obamacare? Is it to not throw people off the exchanges? Is it to cover just half as many. Or is it really just a way to provide money for their tax reform bill coming up?

How do you have a bill on healthcare when we are not even arguing what our goal is? Oh, and the worst part? They are flying John McCain in from Arizona to vote for it. John McCain is dying of brain cancer. Is his last act to be a Republican flack voting the party line? Is that what the Maverick's last act will be? Oh, and why would they even ask him to do that?

We know the Village Idiot in Chief is unbalanced. We know he lies continually, maybe even to himself. We know he is one of the most ignorant presidents we have ever had. In short order he is going to create a Constitutional Crisis where in normal times the two parties would work together to put the nation back in normal working order. But watching the Republicans who have created an alternate reality of facts rush down this road to satisfy a white mob who want to damage themselves by destroying their own healthcare, on has to wonder what will happen next.

Me, it is golf day and I am, like Johnny Appleseed, going to spread golf balls throughout the land. Somebody has to do it.

Commercials and What They Tell Us About Ourselves

I am thinking of three in particular and you have probably seen them.  The first one, and my favorite shows a family traveling in a car with the wife and two kids plugged into their devices so the father, driving the car, is talking to himself.  He comments about the family ignoring him leaving him lonely and being in their own space while he drives, but then notes that he is focused on the road which is why he gets a safe driving check from Allstate(?) which they don’t even know about.  He looks at his wife plugged into her device and smiles, and she smiles back and he says (which she can’t hear for her earphones), “I have a new sweet little putter you know nothing about.”  Then the commercial breaks away to hawk the insurance, but returns to family trip for this final arrow shot by the Dad into a car with his family who cannot hear him, “and sometimes I leave the lid up on the toilet on purpose.”

Now I have to tell you, no matter how many times I see this commercial, I laugh out loud.  What man has not bought himself a little prize that he keeps secret?  And really, why does the toliet seat always have to be down?  It is just hysterical that he is sharing this with his family, but they are tuned out on their devices.  But the other side of the coin is not so funny.  The way we choose our device over human interaction and you wonder what that does to us.

Okay the next one is, I think, a Geico Insurance commercial with Boyz II Men.  A woman is waiting at the Pharmacy counter to have her perscription filled and the pharmacist tells her their are some side effects to the drugs he is preparing and then he cues an A cappella group standing behind him (Boyz II Men), who in beautiful harmony, sing about some fairly disgusting side affects, including lots and lots of flatulence.  The woman turns and flees. That in itself was hysterical.  The commercial’s point is that no matter how nice you try to make it, some things are just bad.  Now there is a lesson in life and what we see going on around us almost 24/7 now.

Finally the last one, that I do not find funny, but insightful and disturbing.  A gentleman is flying in coach and the kid sitting behind him is kicking his seat.  Who has not been there?  He turns to confront the kid, and the kid just glares back.  So he gets up and wanders up to the first class section and peers in to the opulence and comfort afforded those in first class.  The stewardess in first class, with a glued on smile walks back to where he is standing looses the smile and slams the curtain shut in front of the man.  Then the smile magically reappears as she turns to radiate on those in first class.  Okay so far we have all seen something similar on one of our flights.  But then the commercial kicks in and you too can be in first class…E*Trade!

Now think about this one.  The man is in coach, which is the world we all inhabit.  There is a lack of comfort and civility so the answer is you too can get rich and ignore coach.  Screw your fellow man, just get yours and you can leave them behind.  Welcome to the 1% and the Republican Party today.  Sadly we are getting better life lessons from the commercials than we are from the shows on TV.  But only if we think about them.