Monday, September 28, 2015

Blood Moon

The Bloody Moon

It is said that a Super Blood Moon is a sign of the coming apocalypse, that the “end times” are upon or at least near us.  And the more I pay attention to the republican gong show, the greater is the seeming threat posed by the end times scenarios of the Christian doomsayers.

When I observed the actions of that cretin, Martin Shkreli, who raised the price of a drug called Daraprim, used by some AIDS patients, from $13.50 a pill to $750. I thought of end times. Is this really what we have come down to . . . a nation whose capitalists thrive by punishing the poor and the sick??? Surely that event, not the hapless Blood Moon, is the sign that we are headed to oblivion.  And I’ll bet he, like many of his republican friends, really hates the Pope who keeps preaching almost as though he is an actual Christian.  Francis has some nerve, talking about Climate Change, and income inequality. How long will it be before he begins preaching about tax policy and how we need to begin once again taxing the very wealthy, who now hide their vast income through various legal and barely legal tax dodges? Even the Curia would denounce him then. Well, to be fair, the Curia seem to hate him even without such taxation preaching. I suggested that the Pope consider emptying the Vatican bank accounts and distributing the proceeds to the poor. I even wondered how much he could get for the Vatican itself—I mean the Sistine Chapel should fetch a couple of billion, right?? Think of how many folks could be fed by that wad of cash.

But in the meantime, I guess we will have to console ourselves with hating the likes of the Martin Shkreli’s of the world . . . and he is by no means alone. And we can continue tuning into the Gong Show to see who jumps off the roof next. I’m predicting the next to go will be the clown from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham. I mean, he didn’t even have the flair of that Walker Dude who left the stage to jump off the nearest available tower. Hey, I know, maybe Lindsey could jump off the Eiffel Tower, right after he addresses the French people on the true meaning of Freedom Fries.

Now, Mike Dingleberry (Huckabee to those who don’t know him that well) may take a bit longer, since he, doubtless, was called to run for the republican candidacy by no less than the Dude in the clouds.  So, he won’t acknowledge that everyone hates him for a bit longer. Those rendered stupid by religion learn really, really slowly.

The bigger question is when Dr. Ben plans to leave, and why he is running at all?  Aside from that separating brains thing, he seems to have no talents whatsoever. It’s really quite astonishing how anyone could be so talented in one relatively small (however important) subject, while remaining abjectly ignorant of all the rest of our universe (he actually still thinks the earth is only 6,000 years old).  But really, why would someone with his brain want to cope with all the crap of being President? I mean, Air Force One isn’t that wonderful.  Maybe he just loves the idea of pushing that button, unleashing the fires of hell on the earth. Scary dude is the good doctor.

I think we can all ignore most of the rest of the crowd of clowns, most of whom will quietly disappear, one by one until . . . and then there was one. And who might that be, you ask??? Why The Donald of course. Since the Presidency is the ultimate Reality Show, who better to challenge the Hillary & Bernie Show than The Donald?

Stay tuned folks.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Know Thy Enemy

In The Art of War, Sun Tzu is often quoted: “Know thy self, know thy enemy. A thousand battles, a thousand victories.
During this past year, we have been able to observe both sides of the debate regarding the Confederate flag, flown frequently throughout the South. Mostly, we observe that flag on license plates and bumper stickers. The raging arguments that occurred publically mostly concerned flying the flag on public, often statehouse grounds. Following the racist shootings by Dylann Roof at an Emanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, the flag arguments became open and vocal, with protests mounted to take down the flags.
The standard southern response to the outrage surrounding the flag has always been . . . oh the flag has nothing to do with racism; it simply is a symbol of southern heritage. But that line of argument has little basis in fact. The Confederate battle flag represented the southern rebellious armies. And what were those armies attempting to achieve? They were after the secession of southern states from the Union that would allow a new federation to be constituted. And in what way would that southern federation differ from its northern cousin? Why slavery, of course, because slavery was at the heart of the Civil War.

So, if the flag symbolizing a protest movement to retain slavery, it then follows that the symbol of the armies so engaged—the Confederate flag—is in fact a symbol concerning racism, the underlying core of slavery.

Having said all that—it has all been said before I realize—I come back to my original thought—“know thy enemy”.  Setting aside the issue of flying such racist symbols over public properties, I have now concluded that folks who display that symbol on their property are in fact announcing to the rest of us that they are openly racists. It is equivalent to someone flying the Swastika over their home, signaling that Nazi’s reside therein.  Recently, I came around a corner in downtown Concord, and saw this image.

At first, I thought, oh you little . . . .. But then I thought, well, this display provides the rest of our community with valuable information—the family living therein is telling all of us that racists reside there and we should act toward them accordingly.  It is all in the best tradition of Sun Tzu’s “know thy enemy”.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Kim Davis

Kim Davis—Yeah That Kim Davis

Kim Davis seems to bring out the stupid in people. Or maybe, just maybe, she brings out their native instincts. Ms. Davis, married four times, with a couple of kids out of wedlock, seems to hold no serious moral standards. That marriage = one man and one woman things seems to have escaped her, as did the no kids out of wedlock thing. But on Gays, she has been told by the great daddy in the sky that Gays cannot be allowed to marry. Three possibilities here. One is that she actually heard voices telling her to deny marriage licenses to Gays and Lesbians. In that case, Ms. Davis clearly needs to be on serious medication, and perhaps even placed under supervision in an asylum for crazy people.

The second possibility is that Ms. Davis read somewhere in that bible thingie that Gays are a no-no. Seems doubtful that the bible specifically mentioned Gays and marriage, but since you can find almost any position on any subject somewhere in the bible—literally the book for everyone—she may well have stumbled on some phrase that could be roughly construed to mean no Gay marriages.

The last possibility is that she has family and friends who are both very religious and strictly homophobic—probably racist too, since they often come as a package.  This last is the one I favor. Using religion to beat up on some group you hate is a common feature of organized religion.

So, Ms. Davis is a seriously flawed individual who should probably be doing some manual labor job that does not involve interaction with other humans. But, that is the least interesting aspect of this screwball issue. The more interesting issues are the ones about how other folks react, and how this case seems to bring out the core belief system of observers.

I note, as the best example, the reaction of Mike Huckabee. Mike, who seems to have few useful standards, says two things in applauding Ms. Davis’ actions (or inactions). One, Mike says that Ms. Davis is correct in following God’s dictates. If God tells her to do something, or not to do something, then she must follow that path.  Second, and even more interesting, Mike says that, if you (anyone) decide that a law is wrong, then that person (you) should ignore that law and follow your own standards of behavior. Now that is a really startling assertion for someone aspiring to be President of these here United States of America. Think of what he said—if you think a law is wrong, ignore it. Wow! In my book, that makes Mike Huckabee a true anarchist.

So, Mike does not believe in the separation of Church and State. He does not believe in the Rule of Law. And he continues to think that he should be President.  Wow, maybe Mike needs some heavy duty medication also.

The other issue raised here is the question concerning what reactions might have been had Ms. Davis worn a Burkha, and professed belief in the Prophet Mohamid. Would Mike Huckabee  have raced to embrace her, in her burkha (arguably a no-no anyway)? Would her lawyers have raced to defend her (well they are lawyers, and anything for a buck I guess)? And would the adoring crowd of evangelists still have arrived at the jail to welcome her back? Seems doubtful. That scenario would have placed the adoring folks in a position of having to decide who they hated the most—Gays, or Muslims. What a choice.

Makes one wonder . . . what would Jesus have said?

Saturday, August 29, 2015



It seems a bit too much after all.  Born into this wasteland in the middle of the Great Depression, and now heading into the twilight with at least some prospect of a Presidency composed of either morons (e.g., Ric Perry, Jeb Bush, Ric Santorum) or extremists to the right of Atilla the Hun (The Donald, Rand Paul), all of whom promise to eliminate the notion that we are a civilized, honorable nation.  Collectively, they really do seem to miss the point of America—

“Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:

I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

Instead, folks like The Donald wish to build the highest wall on earth on our southern border, and charge the Government of Mexico for its construction.  And as stupid as his ideas seem to ordinary, rational people, his competitors seem altogether too willing to follow him down that dark alley of refuse. It is as though the entire collective of republicans have been experimenting with acid prior to every public appearance.  And why are the theoretically intelligent republican commentators not frothing at the mouth at this intellectual implosion of their party? Oh, I suppose, they’re too busy mouthing off about Hillary’s mailgate scandal, or they continue to froth about Benghazigate.

But this election will reveal what the United States is really all about, and the prospects seem dim.  I keep wondering whether there isn’t a wormhole somewhere I can zip through, regardless of the likely consequences. What do the republicans now seem to stand for:
  • Elimination of the Affordable Care Act . . . apparently it is awful that we should actually be trying to provide health care to the 30 or 40 million Americans who have none;
  • Elimination of Medicare . . . yes, we want to turn Medicare into a voucher, with no guarantees. Seniors should love that, including that GOP lady who was yelling that the Government should keep its hands off her Medicare;
  • Elimination of Social Security . . . privatize it. Yeah, that should do the trick. Give all that trust fund money to the hedge fund traders and let them “manage it”;
  • Voting . . . republicans in office cannot bear the notion that everyone potentially eligible to vote should actually do so, so they will try hard to erect “challenges” to folks who might vote for the other guys;
  • No/low taxes, especially on their owners, the uber-rich . . . turns out it’s ok to tax lower income folks, just not the wealthy owners;
  • Climate change . . . hmmm . . . seems there is no such thing, so no need to be concerned;
  • LGBT communities should emigrate;
  • Women who want to plan their families should get out also . . . abortions under any circumstances will not be permitted;
  • Children born here will no longer be citizens automatically, regardless of the Constitution;
  • We should not concern ourselves overly much about why Mexican and other Latino communities keep trying to come to the USA . . . the fact they are being murdered in their home countries, or have no economic future is irrelevant;
  • We should engage freely in bombing wherever we choose, including especially in Arab, or other sub-Saharan African countries . . . bombing other folks makes us feel mighty and nothing else matters;
  • We are and should remain a Christian nation, under (a Christian) God . . . if the heathens don’t like that, they should also get out;
  • Public schooling is bad in general, so we should/will convert all public schools eventually to for-profit private schools . . . capitalism and the profit motive will automatically produce more “enlightened” citizens;
I could go on, but why . . . I’m sure that The Donald will bring back America’s Greatness, so why would we object? Remember folks, those who choose not to vote will get the government they deserve.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Science v. Killing

We watched one of the Star Talk episodes last evening, with Neil deGrasse Tyson speaking with another astrophysicist about Tyson’s interview with George Takei, about Star Trek. The interview and ensuing discussion was fascinating at many levels.

Watching Takei (Sulu to the uninitiated) speak of his early WW II experiences made me gasp. Takei’s entire family, including the three young children were basically arrested and shipped to an internment camp for the duration of the war, solely because they were Japanese-Americans. Note, please, that nothing remotely similar occurred to, say, Italian-Americans, or German-Americans. And, perhaps as bad, or maybe even worse, after the war ended, his family was simply released back into the ghettoes of America, with no money, jobs, or places to live.  When they were arrested, their entire assets and sources of income were taken away and not returned.  Thus when they were released, they had no wherewithal to continue life as it had been before the war. I have worked with one of those detainees, a remarkable woman who helped to found the Japanese-American Memorial Foundation ( .
What struck me about the discussion with George Takei, and my own discussions with Cherry Y. Tsutsumida was the calmness surrounding the discussions of this awful period of pure American racist policy. Both had moved on and become strong characters in their own right, and each contributing to our nation’s culture in wonderful ways, Cherry as a public health officer, and Takei as a prominent television actor.  Takei was just a little kid—he was interned between the ages of 5-9. Yet, here he is speaking with astrophysicist Tyson about the science of Star Trek and its impact on American life. Remarkable indeed.

Star Trek contributed not only some pretty fancy notions about future science developments, but its cast provided hope for a multicultural universe in our future.  We had Caucasian-Americans, Asian-Americans, African-Americans, Russians, Scots, aliens of several cultures, and both men and women in key roles. Racism, unlike on planet earth, seemed non-existent.  There were warring cultures, to be sure. Who could forget The Borg? Yet, there was even considerable hope for inter-species cooperation.

The science behind Start Trek ranged from the wholly plausible—personal communicators, doors that sprung open by themselves, fully humanized robots, microwave machines, laser weaponry, talking computer systems—to the not yet plausible – warp drives delivering multiple speed of light velocity, “beaming” people by disassembling and then reassembling their atomic structure in a different place and time. But the science was more fun than serious. It was the interaction among the staff and between that starship staff and other cultures that provided the most entertainment.

And remember, it was only a few years between the beginning of this show and our actual landing of men on the moon. Science was on the march. Could Mars and other planets be far behind? Indeed, could interstellar travel be far behind?

Well, it turns out that we humanoids preferred war to science—think Vietnam, and then our Middle East debacles (it would seem all enterprises in the Middle East are debacles by definition).  We do love our wars. So science has had to take a back seat to killing.

So, watching this program was an exercise in lost opportunities. We could have done so much to advance our knowledge of our universe. But we really do like killing better.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Hate as a Campaign Strategy

Hate seems to be taking hold in this land of ours. Apparently, it is now insufficient to simply disagree politically. We must hate one another. We must describe our competitors in the political arena as enemies of the land.  How has this happened? Has it always been thus?

It may be that my memory has become dimmed over the past 80 years.  I can remember vividly my first election—Eisenhower vs. Adlai Stevenson—the General who brought us victory against the intellectual Stevenson. Eisenhower won of course. How could he not? He had brought the war to a close successfully. And did he decry his opposing forces as the enemy? And did he, having won the office, decide to close down government, or privatize Social Security, or give huge tax breaks to his wealthiest donors? Well, no, instead he took the nation on an investment campaign to build a system of national interstate highways. He ran a civilized government.

And Ike was followed by JFK. Remember him? “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country” And then we had the Peace Corps, that wonderful group of activist young people who went out to places around the globe to do good. And, they did good.

Zoom forward to 2015. The GOP candidates most closely resemble a train filled with clowns, but where the clowns are no longer funny, but instead folks who seem to hate everyone who is not inside their little train.
What do they hate?

Anyone who is less white and less radical than they are, which means especially, multiracial folks, Latino immigrants, LGBT folks, trade unionists, LibDems. Oddly, at least to me, they seem also to hate the middle class. They decry the public school system, which is heavily responsible for creating a middle class, and they appear not to understand that the middle class (the 47% who Mitt Romney despises) created the America we know and so love.

We are a nation of immigrants—my grandparents landed at Ellis island and petitioned for admission to this country. Yet, Donald Trump is applauded for saying that the Mexicans here are mostly rapists, murderers, and otherwise evil folks (he allowed as how at least some of them must be normal).  And The Donald was applauded by his minions.

The most amazing thing about all this is that real Americans listen to such hate talk and applaud. Now, The Donald may not get nominated, but he does represent a sizable number of core republicans—mostly white, older Americans who hate folks not like them. The recent "debate" over the confederate flag brought out perhaps the best and the worst of us, and the worst of us seem to represent the folks applauding The Donald.

So, instead of focusing on what we need to do to keep America the great nation it became way back when, the GOP has decided to focus on hating. Mainly, of course, they are focused on ramping up the hate-machine (see Fox News) so as to keep the body faithful in full hate mode. It isn't enough to disagree with Hillary, or Bernie, or Elizabeth. No, it is entirely necessary to hate them for what they represent—all those nasty little, hateful people who are ruining America (folks like you and me).

And it makes me think about republicans madly spinning in their graves for what their party has become.  Poor old Ike. He may never rest in peace again.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Racial Terrorism

Racial Terrorism
Just when you might have thought it safe to attend a prayer meeting in church, a racial terrorist, walks in, chats for a while with the parishioners, and then shoots everyone he can, including the pastor.
Meanwhile, at the South Carolina Statehouse, the Confederate flag continues to fly at full mast.
Now, the closest analogue I can conceive is this: what if a white male walks into a synagogue during Friday prayers, shoots everyone he can find, and walks out, while the South Carolina Statehouse is flying a Swastika at full mast.  What would everyone say?

And please don't argue mental illness. See, Mr. Root is not a mentally ill loner. His act grew out of a whole support system that enabled, and even encouraged him to act the way he did. He was coldly rational, as he opened fire on the innocents in church. He even announced that he had to do it (kill Blacks) because they were taking over, raping our women, destroying everything.  He has the mindset of a Nazi during WW II. He has the mindset of an ISIS terrorist who cuts people’s heads off.  His acts were enabled, arguably by growing up within a community of racists, perhaps within a family of racists, and living in a state, South Carolina, that proudly announces to the world, “WE ARE OFFICIALLY A RACIST STATE”.

Note, it should be clear that, to me, the Confederate flag has only one meaning—“I am a racist”. Whether it is displayed on a bumper sticker or flying over the state capitol, it announces that its owner is a racist.
So, we have a young man who is raised within this environment, and then, because he needs a simple mechanism of destruction, he is provided with destructive means via the NRA insistence that everyone should own a gun to “defend” himself. So, his act, explicitly racial terrorism, is enabled by his family, his community, his state, and the NRA.  He acted the way he was driven to act.

We cannot and must not argue that this person is mentally ill. He is and was coldly rational, again, much like Nazi’s when they opened the gas valves to destroy Jewish lives.

And we probably should not allow ourselves to be distracted by an argument about gun control.  Yes, racial terrorists need guns. Rocks, or even knives, don’t work too well to kill many people at one time.  And yes, the NRA facilitates that transaction, wherein terrorists can obtain easily the means of mass destruction.  But, much as we do not spend our time arguing about the need to control ISIS’ access to weaponry, we should not be distracted here. The central issue is racism, and racial terrorism.  

We need desperately to confront that issue in our Nation.  That is the issue if we are ever again to be treated seriously as a civilized society.  Because, frankly, now, we are not such a society. We behave as a fourth world territory—welcome to Somalia-USA (apologies to Somalians everywhere).
Perhaps one short term answer is for people of color and for whites who have a social conscience to boycott South Carolina. Of course, I think the same about Florida with its stand your ground law that allowed an idiot to kill Trayvon Martin.