Friday, April 21, 2017

King Donald the Last

Most of the objections to and outrage at the Trump administration can be understood in light of the concept of America, a concept that Trump and his people reject.

Briefly, the U.S. Constitution embodies a set of ideas about what kind of country the founders envisioned. Largely in reaction to Europe’s history of monarchies, and to England’s King George III in particular, the U.S. was to be, as Lincoln later described it, a country “of the people, by the people and for the people.”

The Declaration of Independence actually lists the reasons early colonists threw off the rule of England, and they all had to do with inalienable human rights, government by “consent of the governed,” and the right of the people to choose a government that will see to their “Safety and Happiness.”

This whole American concept, that government serves the people and not the other way around, was a radical departure from the thousands of years of human history that preceded it.

But the Trump crew completely reject this concept. They are secretive, self-serving, and utterly inaccessible to ordinary citizens. Trump regards himself as an absolute monarch … utterly infallible and above the law. He acknowledges no obligations to his supporters, his colleagues in government, the Constitution or tradition. He is King Donald.

Many Republicans want to turn back the clock to a time before FDR. Trump wants it back to before George Washington.

Fortunately, many Americans still remember and cherish the American concept. Many still long for real liberty and justice, and not mere words in an incoherent speech. This is why so many people have been chanting at their representatives, “You work for us!” And many government officials, perhaps even some Republicans, actually comprehend their duty to the people and the law.

May the reign of King Donald be as short as it has been disastrous.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Starfeggio

(To the tune of "DO-RE-MI")



(Apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Lord of the Things

Three branches of government with each other vie.
Seven articles of Constitution, which rarely get read.
Nine supreme justices on the Court so high.
One orange lord (who’s a closet red)
In the land of D.C., where politicians lie.

One ass to rule them all, One ass to screw them.
And those whom he fooled deserve what’s coming to them,
In the land of D.C., where politicians lie.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Going Backwards

Executive orders protecting our borders
Are really not likely to work
As it’s known through the land
That the pen’s in the hand
Of an orange-faced wispy-haired jerk

Another big goal, to revitalize coal,
Will go bust with its dust and pollution.
Energy companies can already foresee
There are cleaner and better solutions.

Republicans don’t serve the public and
They are beholden to the one percent.
This constituency donates generously
To their campaigns the millions they’ve spent.

They rob from the poor so the rich can have more
Leaving nothing for food, schools or health.
So let’s not pretend they have any agenda
But redistribution of wealth.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Revenant

Like many of you, I’ve been in shock … complete shock … over the 2016 election results. Seriously! Who could have imagined this outcome? That Arizona would vote to raise the minimum wage!

Some of the other results were pretty surprising too. But now it’s time to move on. We’ll just have to make a few minor adjustments. Specifically,

  1. Health insurance will now be awarded by lottery. The lucky winner will be entitled to full treatment for any and all health-related problems (up to a lifetime maximum of $482.37.)
  2. The Department of Defense will now be referred to as “The People.”
  3. Climate change will be given top priority in determining the President’s weekend travel plans.
  4. Former President Barack Obama will now be known as Double-O Forty-Four.
  5. The orders of magnitude 104 and 105 will be eliminated. Any number larger than 9,999 will be considered “a million.”
  6. Cell phones, music players and other mobile devices will be powered by coal.
  7. Only people wishing to enter the United States from countries containing the letter “R” will be permitted to eat shellfish.
  8. The Departments of Defense, Education, the EPA, State, Health and Human Services, Interior and Transportation will be combined into a single department, to be known as DEEPSHIT. This department will then be eliminated.
  9. There will be a wall around the red states, and Nordstrom’s will pay for it.
  10. The city of Washington, D.C. will be renamed Козырь.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Monday, March 13, 2017

We Interrupt This Blog ...

I’m not a particularly open person. Most of my social media use consists of posting what I hope are cynical, witty (some would say wise ass) remarks. And even for those, I often hide behind the pseudonym Tech Curmudgeon.

But I’m feeling overwhelmed, and I have this strange urge to come clean. Please disregard the following.

For nearly 4 years, I’ve been dealing with prostate cancer. After going through surgery, radiation therapy, and various hormone therapy drugs, I’m entering a new phase. The next treatments, sipuleucel-T, radium-223 and chemotherapy, will be less gentle but, I hope, more effective.

I’m not mentioning this to get sympathy. I’m not asking for any kind of help. I’m not even looking to promote the cause of cancer research and care (though it certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing to consider.)

I’m really just feeling … and this is going to sound corny as hell … that life is beautiful. I don’t mean in a treacly, Hallmark-card kind of way. I mean really fucking beautiful, in a dramatic way. It’s as if the very fragility of life itself, and the complete uncertainty we all must live with, are what make life meaningful. Maybe that’s existential … the meaninglessness of life is what gives it meaning.

Not everything, of course. Hatred and bigotry win no pageants. And illness is not high on my list right now.

But I’m frequently moved to tears, literally, by movies, shows and events that show people caring about each other, helping each other, behaving not just humanly, but humanely. Of course, some of that is the hormone therapy drugs, but not all of it.

Anyway, my apologies. I’ll try to go back to being cynical and, hopefully, witty now.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Situation

Let me see if I’ve got this straight ...

Thirty thousand people die each year from gun violence, but we can’t regulate guns, because the NRA believes absolutely anyone should be able to buy a gun at any time.

Forty thousand people die on roads and highways each year, but we have to be able to check our email and text messages at all times.

Climate change is destroying our planet, melting the polar ice caps, glaciers, etc., but we can’t limit CO2 emissions because fossil fuel industries might suffer, and we want to drive bigger SUVs.

Immigrants bring fresh perspectives, leading to new ideas as well as cultural expansiveness, but we can’t admit immigrants because a few completely unrelated people committed violent acts.

Thousands of people suffer and die each year from treatable conditions because of inadequate access to health care, but we can’t provide for them because millionaires and billionaires might have to kick in a few bucks in taxes.

The President of the United States is mentally unbalanced, but the only people who can do anything about it, his political party, won’t do anything because it would be embarrassing.

That about right?

Friday, March 3, 2017

This is FNN!


Good evening, and welcome to FNN. Our top story tonight ...

After sifting through reams of data collected over several decades, scientists at several government agencies have concluded that the natural environment may be hazardous. The scientists cite evidence that millions of people died before the period when humankind spent most of its time indoors. They stress that the current emphasis placed on preserving wildlife and the natural environment may be misguided.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Failure of Imagination

In 1967, Astronaut Frank Borman blamed the Apollo 1 fire that killed three of his fellow astronauts on “failure of imagination” ... the inability of the engineers on the project to anticipate the conditions that led to that fire, and to take steps to prevent it.

After the terror attacks of 9/11/2001, The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States concluded our biggest vulnerability was failure of imagination. We simply couldn’t conceive of anything as far from normal behavior as the plan to hijack planes and fly them into buildings, so there were no defenses.

This is the same weakness that stymies us now in the face of the Trump regime. Although safeguards such as the electoral college and, much later, the 25th Amendment were intended to protect against a complete lunatic occupying the White House, these were only theoretical measures. No one imagined anyone as off-the-rails as Trump and his appointees, so these measures have never been tested and re-enforced. In fact, it would take acts of enormous political will for enough electors to defy their states elections to block an obvious demagogue like Trump, and it would take even more brazenness to trigger the 25th Amendment’s removal from office mechanism. 

According to Wikipedia, failure of imagination has also been cited in such disasters as the Titanic’s sinking and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. 

Clearly, in complex and risky situations, imagination is a far more valuable asset than is usually assumed.

Support arts education.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Let Them Have It

Sometimes I think Trump opponents should drop the resistance. Just stop. Let them have it. Let Trump and the GOP have it. They already own the entire government and, by extension, the country.

When 2018 and 2020 come around, they’ll have no one but themselves to blame. They won’t be able to point the finger at protesters, or obstructionist legislators, or even the media.

If we let them have it, they’ll surely tank themselves.

But then I think … when the GOP sells off mineral and land rights to government land, we’ll never get that back.

When we build pipelines through precious land, we’ll never get that back.

When mining companies dump waste into rivers and streams, we’re not getting those back.

When we lose out on hopeful immigrants who look to the U.S. as a haven of liberty, we’ll never get them back.

When we unleash bigotry and hatred, thus losing our decency as a people, we’ll never get that back.

When we antagonize some of our most trusted allies, we’re never … well, we might get them back, but we’ll have to grovel.

And when the U.S. becomes a laughing stock around the world, completely losing its leadership position and its role as the foremost example of democracy at work … that’s never coming back.

But most of all, while social safety net programs might be reinstated in saner times, the people who, through no fault of their own, depend on these for healthcare and sustenance, may be lost forever.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Taking Back Democracy

Regardless of party allegiance, most people agree that politicians, frankly, suck. They spend most of their time worrying about getting elected and re-elected, and most of the rest worrying about their political parties. They spend more time fund-raising than anything else, and, once elected, they immediately set to work trying to secure their power through gerrymandering, voter disenfranchisement and other means. As Shakespeare’s Macbeth famously said on attaining the crown, “To be thus is nothing. But to be safely thus,” his rationale for the series of murders and misdeeds that follows.

The Constitution is very clear about the roles of the Senate and the House of Representatives, the President and the Supreme Court. But there’s not a word, not a whisper, about political parties. Yet a glance at the news anytime in the last century or more suggests that it’s all about parties … that the job of the parties is to beat the opposition, and try to reshape the laws to ensure their continued dominance. This is also true at the state level.

So how to we make government serve the people instead of themselves?

Referenda!

Most policy decisions should be made by direct voting, instead of leaving it up to elected representatives. Because as democratic as our elections are (not very!), there’s a huge disconnect between what politicians want and what voters actually want.

Politicians are like cable TV packages. You can’t pick and choose which policies, or which channels, you get. If you love to watch HBO, you’re going to have to get thirty or forty sports channel with it. If you want the smaller government candidate, you’re going to have to take abortion bans, unrestricted gun sales and a decimated environment with it.

Also, because politicians are so concerned about just getting and keeping control, they flip flop on issues as easily as the wind changes direction. It’s well known that political strategists like Karl Rove seize on wedge issues to incite voters who might not otherwise case about an election, just to help bolster one party.

Now a lot of people are going to object that having a referendum for every issue is too inefficient. How can we handle that many elections?

Of course, that’s based on the two century old model in our Constitution. In the 21st century, there’s really no reason elections can’t be done efficiently on massive scale. In fact, that should be the first order of business. We need to ensure that people who are entitled to vote can vote, and that people who aren’t can’t.

And because a referendum is about one issue, the campaigns will be trying to inform/pursuade voters about that issue. No distractions. No debates about the size of each candidate’s hands or other body parts. No bluster. (There will still be plenty of bullshit, but at least it will be focussed bullshit.)

Politicians should be like engineers … they figure out how to implement the specifications, but the specifications come from the customer … you!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The National Ditty

Irving Berlin’s timeless God Bless America sounds like a plea for divine favor, but the British national anthem, God Save the Queen, practically begs for help. Given the current political climate, we thought it might be appropriate to ratchet up the desperation of our own national ditty. So, we present …

God Save America

God save America.
We’ve plainly failed.
Our new leader
Is a tweeter
Who’s insane like a train that’s derailed.
With the terror, global crises,
And the economic slump,
God save America
From Donald Trump.