Friday, July 7, 2017

The Deplorables


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The Deplorables - someone signed me up to this group (click on the link if you want to see in more detail what they are about.) I think one of my conservative friends did it for a prank because they knew how disgusted I would be. And, yep, disgusted is a good word. So is sickened, shocked and horrified. They are Donald Trump supporters, of course - of the "he can do no wrong because he was chosen by god to be our president" variety.

They revel in being Deplorables. They vie with one another to see who can post the most vicious, vilest memes. Someone peeing in Hillary Clinton's mouth. Obama getting screwed in the butt.  A picture of Michelle supposedly trying to cover her penis. (You know she's really a man, don't you?) Naturally, they don't call them Obama and Hillary but Ovomit and Oblowjob and Obummer and Shrillary and Killary. POS, for Piece of Shit, works for both of them.

They think grossness is hilarious. You wonder if they are all 13-year-olds. Their humor isn't even sophisticated enough to be sophomoric. Among all of them there isn't a drop of subtlety or grace.

They bought into the Obama isn't really an American but a Kenyan Muslim traitor, hook line and sinker. Even when Trump himself finally gave up on the Birther theory, they kept believing because they saw that twinkle in his eye that said he didn't really mean it.

They are obsessed with the Clintons and the Obamas. The Deplorables trade in hate. They think the C's and the O's are traitors who should be locked up in Guantanamo for life. Or no, maybe burning them at the stake would be better. Their kids too. Most of them also hate immigrants and Muslims and minorities and gays and refugees and poor people. I doubt if they could even define mercy.

There is no sense trying to have a discussion with them. They know what they know and that's all they want to know. If you ask them to explain something, they ignore you. If you don't already believe what they believe, you're probably too stupid to understand anyway because you're just a moronic libtard.

My biggest question about The Deplorables is who are they and where have they been all my life? I'm 70. I've lived all around the country and worked all kinds of jobs - factory, bartender, office, salesperson. I never met people like this. Oh, there was the occasional asshole but even they weren't consistently this coarse and crude. Was it the internet that allowed them to "come out" as who they really are? Are they teachers and preachers and cooks and car salesmen? Are they parents and grandparents? Scary thought.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ugh! Bernie!

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I don't like Bernie Sanders. I didn't like him yesterday. I don't like him today and I doubt if I'll like him any better tomorrow. I don't like Mrs. Bernie either. And if there are Sanders kids, I probably wouldn't like them if I knew them either.

Bernie may not have been the biggest reason Hillary isn't president today but he was the first. (She ran into a perfect storm of Bernie, Trump, Putin, WikiLeaks,  Jim Comey and sexism - a combined force it would have been impossible for any mortal human to overcome).

Bernie was the original Dog in the Manger. He wasn't a Democrat, has never been a Democrat but he latched himself onto the Democratic party to the detriment of their real candidate, and like a leech, sucked out enough of the party's life force to make a real difference. I don't think he believed for one minute that he would ever be president of the United States (though his faithful followers did). But he parleyed his crusty old purist persona into tons of attention. The media loved him. He was such a character and he helped them bring down, Hillary down, an effort they never seemed to tire of even after three decades.

Bernie and Trump were the traveling road show, each backing up whatever the other one said. "Hillary is owned lock, stock and barrel by the big banks," said Donald. "Just so," echoed Bernie. Of course, since then all those big bankers have gone to work for the Trump administration.

"Emails!" screamed Trump. "Emails!" screamed the holier-than-thou Mr. Sanders. Trump even made a negative ad against Hillary using Bernie quotes. On the other hand, he rarely laid a glove on Sanders because he knew Bernie was no threat to him.

And Bernie kept it up, even when it was obvious he'd lost the nomination. Rather than folding his tent right then and joining forces with the rest of the Democrats, he forged on to Philadelphia. Of course, he eventually endorsed her but it was too late by then. The Bernie Bots despised her and many voted for third party candidates rather than for her.

There is plenty of blame to go around for why Hillary lost. Mostly, we seem to have gotten around to blaming her. She was too quiet; she was too loud. She smiled to much; she didn't smile enough. She didn't campaign in the right states. She didn't appeal enough to the working class. People didn't know what she stood for (I did. I knew exactly what she stood for - a minimum wage increase, improving Obamacare, climate change, more help for women and children, equal pay for equal work, help for college kids with student loans....) Why didn't a lot of other people know? Because the media and her opponents focused on emails morning, noon and night.

I was bitter then and I'm bitter now about the man who jumped into the race in an effort to brush aside the "little woman". I'm even more bitter that so many Americans fell for it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Door

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It is strange how a thing that lays around ignored for so long can suddenly make such a huge difference in your life but that is the case of The Door. It turned out to be a secret treasure.

I assume it was meant to be a storm door for the front of the house. John had bought a stack of gorgeous wood to build a new front. He had the plans in his head and when he came to Indiana and had a little time, he'd work on it. That didn't happen very often though so it mostly just stayed a stack of wood.

When he died, someone who bought some of his tools bought the wood as well.

John and LeAnn came to visit from Iowa last month. LeAnn and I mostly talked but, bless John's heart, he worked his tail off fixing things that needed fixing around here. Coming back from breakfast, he made the observation that my back storm door was looking pretty battered.

"Yeah," I said, "there used to be a storm door in the garage but I don't know if it's still there."

His handyman's eyes glinted at the thought of a more challenging project than installing support bars in the tub and balancing the float in the toilet so it would flush properly. As soon as we got home, he grabbed the garage key. The door was still there, still in it's packaging.

"John special-ordered this door in 2003," John told me.

I had figured it was just your basic white storm door but it wasn't. It was one of those kind that is all glass, trimmed in cinnamon to match the trim on the house.

John worked all day until he completed the job. When we opened the inside door to look out, something sort of magical happened. Yes, it was the same old view I'd been seeing out my back door for years - no mountain peaks, no rivers, no forests. Just an average street in an average small town but opening the vista to the size of the door gave it an entirely different feel. I could see the trees and the hill running down to Charlie Creek and my own back rolling hill with Mom and John's garden at the top.

I decided I would put bird feeders outside the door. Mom and I fed the birds for years but we gave up because the voracious Cemetery Squirrels stole every seed within 15 minutes of filling the feeders. I went to EBay and ordered two bird feeders, both GUARANTEED to be squirrel proof! Fingers crossed that at least one of them works.

Blythe helped set them up and I now have regular seeds and sunflower seeds and suet and thistle seed. I have two hummingbird feeders. She brought two lawn chairs around with a little table so there is now a kind of sitting nook out there for reading and drinking coffee and watching birds.

Mostly though, I just watch from my kitchen chair. I can watch t.v. and glance up to see who is out there.

Not only do I love it but so do all my animals. They have to squeeze together to all have their looking space and they do. I come into the kitchen to see, lined up, a black and white cat butt, a cream cat butt, a gray cat butt and a blonde Pekingese butt, all in a row, heads turning to see  who has come to visit.

I had a blue jay and a chickadee and sparrows and a hummingbird the first day the feeders were up (so far no squirrels!).

So that door sat out there, useless, for 14 years and now it has given the residents of this house a new view of the world. It's a pretty world, a sharing world, a green and blooming world.

One of the guests at my recent tea party said, "I think that door is John's last gift to you."

I'm not quite so sentimental and romantic as that but just in case she's right...."thanks, John."

(Thank you also to John Murphy who brought it out of the garage and into the light.

   


Saturday, May 27, 2017

My Wish List

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I read an article the other day that said Democrats don't have any plans of their own, all they do is bitch about Republican plans. Well, of course, that isn't entirely true. Hillary had plenty of policy plans but they got drowned out by endless discussion about e-mails.

But that's all beside the point now and I know that I've been so distraught about Trump that I am guilty of writing mostly about him for the last few months rather than what I'd like to see for America.

So, here's my wish list.

1) We have fought and wrangled and protested and debated so much about Obamacare, that I wish we'd just repeal and replace it with with Medicare for all. Rather than the endlessly complex components that go into creating the ACA, let's just make it simple. Figure out how much we all have to pay (based on income) to give every single America the ability to walk into a hospital or doctor's office and get the care they need. We know it is possible because a bunch of other progressive countries have had universal healthcare for years. Let's eliminate the middle man, which is the insurance companies. They've been the stumbling block forever.

2) Let's raise the cap on Social Security contributions and make it solvent as far as the eye can see. If you're one of those lucky people who've made a gazillion dollars thanks to being a part of the American Dream, more power to you. Now pay up.

3) I have always wondered why wages are considered more taxworthy than other types of income. Tax my neighbor down at the rich end of the block the same on his capital gains as you do me on the hours recorded on my time card. The rich create jobs by investing and building. I create jobs by consuming.

4) And speaking of consuming, let's raise the minimum wage to a rate high enough to support a family with at least some modicum of dignity. By doing so, we'd take millions off of food stamps and that would make higher-ups, who so resent having to help pay for "moochers" very happy.

5) Let's get that infrastructure thing going that both Hillary and Trump talked about during the campaign. And I mean, let's us do it. What I don't mean is for Saudi Arabia to pay Erik Prince billions to do it. We are America. Can we not afford to build our own goddam roads?

6) Let's make student loans, if not free, at least, interest-free. And while we're at it, let's do the same for vocational training. Not everyone is meant to get a 4-year degree but we'll always need plumbers and electricians and builders and mechanics.

7) But before we decide what our kids on going to do post secondary education, let's make sure they have a thorough grounding in the basics and that every child attends a school, a PUBLIC school, that is safe and sturdy and has all the resources and teachers it needs to do its job.

8) Let's encourage workers to join unions again. In every negotiation between management and labor, both parties should have representatives that have their best interest at heart. \\

9) Let's start valuing our earth again. We probably can't do away with fracking and drilling and mining in the next 10 years but that should be our goal - to turn to resources that treat land and the air and the water more gently....and to train our people for these jobs of the future rather than telling them they can still be coal miners. Do they really want their children to be coal miners if there is a cleaner healthier option?

10) Let's get out of Afghanistan. Have we made a difference in 16 years? Will we make a difference if we stay another 16 years?  What does the end game look like?

11) Far as I'm concerned, the same goes for Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen - let them all duke it out as best they can. We can't fix the whole world.

12) Let's have commonsense immigration reform. Yes, we need defined borders and we need to know who is coming across them. Yes, we need to vet all those people. But tearing families part who've done us no harm or leaving families stranded at an airport because they have a Muslim name - that's not the America I know and love.

13) Yes, let's pursue every alternative for limiting climate change.

14) The hardest one of all: let's stop hating each other. I have not a clue about how to make that happen.






Thursday, May 4, 2017

Fighting A Losing Battle

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I guess, like Hillary, I am now part of the Resistance but I don't feel very triumphant about it. I don't have any bullets or bombs, only words, and they seem like pitiful weapons against what is currently going on in my country, the sliding backward that I'm watching happen before my very eyes.

I used to believe we were the best, certainly not perfect, but the best in so many areas. We were brave and bold and creative. We invented things and then invented ways to make those things faster and more efficient and cheaper. We built things - beautiful buildings and bridges and highway systems. In order to do this, we took in people from all over the world - scientists and architects and physicians and physicists and added their expertise to our own. We forged ahead to discover technological miracles. It was the American Way.

We have never been as kind and gentle as we sometimes like to believe, Every advance in civil rights had to be fought for with protests and police dogs and billy clubs, with arrests and even murders, but in the end, the right way always won. Before it was over, women could vote and Black people could drink at the same fountains and attend the same schools and gay people could marry the partners they loved.

We believed in science and education and we believed in using those things to help our country and the world. We were always the first to arrive with aid after any disaster. We showed up with food during famines and medicines during pandemics and weapons during genocides. We took in the refugees those catastrophes left behind. We were the world's generous-hearted Uncle Sam.

We were usually ahead of every modern curve - we pioneered workers' rights and environmental progress and medical cures and advanced education even for non-elites.

No more. We are regressing in every one of those areas. Our infrastructure is crumbling even though our rich are richer than they've ever been before. We are closing the door to immigration, even deporting, not just criminals but settled, productive residents. Trump's budget drastically cuts research into cures for diseases. We are moving away from public education into for-profit schools, from which politicians get huge donations. The E.P.A's funding is being slashed in Trump's proposed budget. As I write this, the Republicans are getting ready to vote on repealing Obamacare and replacing it with something that barely qualifies as healthcare. (Guess who gets the biggest contributions from insurance and pharmaceutical companies?) Red states are passing ever harsher restrictions against voting and ever harsher restrictions against abortion and other areas of women's healthcare. The Republican Congress just passed legislation allowing employers to forego paying overtime. They passed legislation that allows companies to no longer keep track of employees who get hurt on the job. They are considering repealing the Endangered Species Act. They are considering privatizing our national parks in favor of drilling and mining. There may be an executive order today making discrimination legal based on religious grounds.

So, I'll resist in my own small way but I find it heartbreaking that all this was evidently what my fellow Americans wanted. It was totally predictable. The Republicans, now that we have given them complete control, are doing what Republicans always do. They've never tried to keep their anti-progressive views a secret. The best the Democrats can do is fight a futile rearguard action to lessen the awfulness a little.

So half me yells, "fight!" and the other half sighs and says, "fuck it."

As I watch us retract into a more fearful, smaller, sadder, selfish country.








Wednesday, April 26, 2017

When The Truth Is Too Dangerous


Image result for collusion            Image result for collusion  

I've always thought of myself as a practical, down-to-earth person. I don't generally believe in fantasies (even religious ones) or conspiracy theories. Do I think corruption exists?  Oh, absolutely, there is plenty of under-handed corruption that goes on in the world but I'm talking about big league conspiracy, the kind that form the basis for so many novels like The Manchurian Candidate. I'm talking about the kind of conspiracies that could cause a war or a governmental meltdown. I find the people who believe 911 was an inside job, the brainchild of Bush and Cheney, to be utterly ridiculous. I find the people who believe Obama was a secret Muslim, a traitor working to hand the U.S. over to the Muslim Brotherhood, to be totally nonsensical.
There was one conspiracy in my lifetime that I believe was such a case and that was the assassination of President Kennedy. I never thought we Americans were told the true story behind that tragedy and we probably never will, at least not in my lifetime.
Why? Not because our government didn't care but because the information would have been so explosive no one could have predicted the aftermath. Was it Cuba? If we'd known for sure, nothing would have satisfied the American people except blasting that island off the face of the earth. Was it Russia? Once we were forced to face that fact, there would have been nothing for it but to go to war with a nuclear state. So I believe the powers-that-be at the time decided the best course of action was to bury the truth deeply to avoid the catastrophic consequences that would have resulted from such a revelation.
I believe were are exactly at that point again. I think the evidence is overwhelming that the Trump administration colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election. There is evidence galore of the contacts between the Trump campaign and the Putin people. I believe our entire leadership knows what happened - from the FBI to the CIA to the Republicans to the Democrats. The list of Trumpers who were intimate with the Russians (and later lied about it) is beyond any possibility of coincidence. We have Stone and Manafort and Flynn and Sessions and Kushner and the Trump sons and Miller. Some of them were working for and taking money from Russia even as they worked on the campaign, such as Flynn, who the Trump administration made National Security Director, in a position to attend every ultra-classified meeting. Did they even vet him? Would he have passed inspection if they had? We don't know because they refuse to turn over any documents regarding the situation.
The story of Flynn struck me as bogus from the start. The General was fired as National Security Director for supposedly lying to Vice-President Pence but at that point, the administration had known about Flynn's contacts with Russia and Turkey for over three weeks and Pence certainly must have known because he was head of the transition team and had been given a letter by Elijah Cummings, warning him about Flynn's background. And it raises the question: if Trump knew and knew Flynn was lying to Pence, then why didn't the president inform him? I expect the answer is that Pence knew the truth all along. (Pence, our see-no-evil, speak-no-evil, hear-no-evil Number Two).
So, we are in roughly the same place as after the Kennedy assassination only this is even worse. At that time, if we'd been told the truth, we would have directed our fury outward at another country. (Although we did have militant right-wingers back then too who detested Kennedy). We are far from that same country today. We are now so divided that both sides are dug into their foxholes. We have our own news sources and we all think we know the difference between real news and "fake" news. 
One side will swear to their souls that Donald Trump is a hero, savior of the working class, sent to America directly by Jesus, being persecuted by a globalist cabal of millionaires and billionaires (except his own millionaires and billionaires, of course).
The other side, my side, believe in their hearts that he is a corrupt wannabe-oligarch like Putin, a liar and a scammer turning our country into a fascist haven as we watch. Even traitor isn't too strong a term for us.
So, this time, we would turn our on fire on each other. What does that mean? Would there be an actual revolution with blood running in the streets? Very likely. Our loathing of one another is so powerful, I don't think we would hold back. Who would the police follow? Who would the army follow? Who would win and what would the end look like?
I don't think our leaders know and I don't think they want to know. So, they all dither around and pretend they are doing serious investigation but they are really not.  They let out bits and pieces but no smoking gun. In the end, I think they will tamp it down just enough to muddle through without a civil war. They'll try to keep Trump in check. They'll hold their breath for four years (or maybe he'll get impeached for something else, like conflicts of interest, God knows, there are enough grounds) and hope that Americans come to their senses by 2020. 
Then they'll heave a sigh of relief at having dodged a lethal bullet.                                                                 


                                                     


Saturday, April 22, 2017

Retreating To Our Safe Spaces

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I've been called a snowflake more times than I can count in the last couple of years. Sentimental depictions like the one above are probably part of the reason why. Compassion is not an admired quality among conservatives. They think liberals are a bunch of squishes because they care about little kids shot in their schools and wolf families being gassed in their dens and immigrant mothers being pulled away from their terrified children and yes, the Earth itself.

Ya' gotta' be tough to make it as a Right-Winger. If you boo-hoo about things like toddlers drinking lead-laden water, you're too simpy to be considered a good conservative. If seeing birds covered in oily goo makes you sick at your stomach, you're a sissy libtard. If you worry about climate change and hungry children going without school lunches and Americans losing their healthcare, why, then you need to take your coloring book and crayons to your safe space and let the right handle the hard stuff.

They can shrug off frightened children in refugee camps and shot toddlers and deported fathers and young black boys dying in the street because, don't you know, all those people are scary and we have to think of our own self-protection. It seems to me, they are the ones who need to go to their safe space. They can build barricades around it and take their guns in with them. They can allow in only white people.

I don't consider myself a snowflake. I stand ready to face the problems of the country and the world, and deal with them but I will admit to being absolutely bewildered by what has happened to my country. I used to think the vast majority of people I knew in my youth were pretty nice. They weren't all saints or heroes but they were decent people. Now it seems that many us have gone from empathy for the world around us to completely uncaring about anyone but ourselves.

Were some people always so hateful and they just got sick of holding it in? Is what we're living through now some kind of backlash against what is considered political correctness? Have we always been this way but now social media gives us a platform to say anything we please? Some of what I read on Facebook is so vicious, it leaves me shaking my head. Who are these people? Where did they come from?

I've never been one of those "America is Perfect" patriots. We often been a long way from perfect but generally we tried to be leaders in helping the planet solve its most perplexing problems. When did we turn against education. When did science become a bad word?

Richard Nixon signed the Clean Air Act in 1970 - Republicans were environmentalists then too. Later in 1970, we celebrated the first Earth Day. Before the year was over, we created the Environmental Protection Agency and passed the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species acts. These were all popular with a broad cross-section of America.

I can hardly believe that less than 50 years later, we elected a government that is in a full-fledged retreat into ignorance. They've cut the budget and the staff of the EPA. They are once again allowing energy companies to pour their pollution into our waterways. They want sell off public lands and even privatize our national parks. They are probably going to end the Endangered Species Act. I could go on but it is too depressing.

In 2015, after years of negotiations, the nations of the world came together to sign the Paris Agreement, a pact to lower emissions and cut CO2 levels in an effort to slow climate change, which 96 percent of all the world's scientists believe is a real thing.

But the Trump Administration pooh-poohs climate change and is considering whether the U.S. should pull out of the Agreement. China, which has long yearned to be the most powerful nation on earth, is standing by, ready to take our places as the movers and shakers on climate change if we renege.

Abandoning the fight against climate change is just another way for conservatives to take their crayons to a safe space. Unfortunately, dirty air and water will follow them there.