Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Play It, Sam: the Last Song

Metastatic cancer of the pancreas -- the "tetchiest" kind.  Stage IV.  Has spread to the liver.  Inoperable. Untreatable.

The long last run on the downhill track.  What a hoot!  Was I all THAT great an editor? But of course!  All of my best friends, on their sacred oath, so testify.

But the athletic feats; surely they have been embellished, if only a tad? No, I really did reel off strings of 125+ mph serves.  And the slice! Oh, the wicked slice! A legend of the American Southwest.  Not to mention the three-point shooting records in every age group from 50 through 80. Or the high school records in the high and low hurdles.  Or the 350-foot home run off a hanging curve ball thrown by a future major leaguer named Tom Butters, who became the Director of Athletics at Duke University.

Was higher praise ever uttered than the words of my baby daughter, Patricia? "The  best Papa Bear," she said, "in the entire world."

Or this (from Lois): "I love you."

I rest my case.

Thanks, World, for a helluva ride.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Nature's Tears

My wife loves the little stuffed animals she receives when she contributes to wildlife protection organizations.

The most recent one represents a howling wolf, but viewed from a certain perspective it more resembles a weeping wolf.  How appropriate!

Not just scores of species are on the brink of extinction.  The shared home of every living creature, our host planet, is being murdered by the one species that fancies itself dominant.  Homo sapiens.

Such a misnomer. “Wise man.”   Better “greedy man.”  “Arrogant man.”  “Ignorant man.” “Self destructive man.” “Despicable man.”

The wolf shall weep.  For the poisoning of the water, and the air, the dying trees and plants, the vanishing prey, the lethal heat. As the great cats must weep, and the raptors, and all the creatures that fly, and those that burrow,  and those that swim; those that nimbly leap from crag to crag high on the  mountain, and those that roam and rumble and  prowl the jungles and the vanishing rain forests.  All must weep as vain, vile, war-making, greedy man first despoils and then destroys our home. Foremost among the destroyers is the loathsome creature in the White House, simpering and proud of his willful ignorance of science, of his disdain for truth. By withdrawing this country from the Paris climate accord he has assured his place in history — beside Hitler and the Holocaust in the chapter on genocide.

Forty-seven scientists have now been fired from the Environmental Protection Agency.  Its director told Congress that more dismissals will come because what's important is to stop wasting money on such profligate activities as regulations to keep water and air clean. He mocks the notion that human activity is causing climate change, despite the overwhelming weight of science to the contrary.

Protected public lands will be opened up to polluters, drillers, miners, rapists of the land. Animal habitat will be destroyed, rivers and streams befouled, irreplaceable cultural and  historical artifacts obliterated and a handful of billionaires will get richer.  Three-thousand-year-old giant sequoias  will be cut down. The unspeakably beautiful American west will become a vast wasteland.  

The wolf shall weep.

Roadrunners have built a nest in  the tree outside our door in the northeast corner of the patio. We have lived here nearly 20 years.  Never have we seen the fiercely independent roadrunner nest so close to an occupied house.  Our neighbors have a nest, too.

Drought? Habitat destruction? Climate change? All of the above.

Today one of the roadrunners hopped from the tree-nest to the stone wall around the patio.  She strutted a bit, then paused and faced east toward the Organ Mountains. These are the crown jewels of a vast new national monument, established by President Obama to protect an area of beauty, cultural significance and religious veneration for the Native American tribes of souther New Mexico.  Now the barbarians of Washington will dismantle it.

The roadrunner stood motionless on the patio wall, staring toward the mountains.  Surely she, too, was weeping.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Good Old Days of Tricky Dick

One day during the Nixon Administration I had lunch with Bob Semple, the New York Times White House correspondent, and Dan Rather, then the CBS White House reporter.

They were trying to plot a strategy for the President’s next news conference that would maneuver Nixon into a corner so that he could not avoid a follow- up question when he gave an evasive answer.  Nixon was adept at dodging  tough questions.  Reporters who sought clarification from the press secretary, Ron Ziegler, got more evasions.  The White House press corps was irate.  

Press conference?  Mere evasion? What kind of fairyland was this? Today, a substantial minority of those covering the White House are right-wing whores who not only do not care about being lied to, but are actually complicit in the lies. News conferences have virtually ceased to exist. Reporters are called into staged events where cameras and audio recorders are not allowed.  Neither is truth.

Nobody is protesting.  Even the reporters for major, responsible news organizations troop into these little bits of theater and dutifully take notes on the latest bovine excrement from Spicer or Conway or the designated liar du jour.

The New York Times recently compiled a list of just the most blatant, obvious lies uttered by the so-called president in his first five months in office.  They filled an entire page!

The people shrugged.

American media have entered into a conspiracy of silence on the work of Seymour Hersh, the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who exposed U.S. war crimes in Viet Nam and has been turning over rocks ever since, catching government sleazes and sinners in the act.

Now, so-called news outlets in this country reject his best work.  It appears in the London Review of books or, in the case of his latest truth-bomb, in a German publication. It reports in excruciating detail how Donald and his minions lied to the American people about an invented sarin gas attack in Syria.  There was no such attack and the officials knew that, from their own most senior intelligence officials.

And the people yawned.  

The highest officials in the Environmental Protection Agency ordered a scientist to lie about the dangers of weakening the Clean Water Act and when he refused, they fired him.

On and on.

In 1979 the Reaganites, the media and the armchair patriots deemed Jimmy Carter unfit to continue in office because he told a truthful tale about an angry swamp rabbit.

The current occupant of the Oval Office has told a pageful of lies about the important issues of our times — and he remains in office with a 40 percent approval rating.

In the rest of the world, 75 percent of poll respondents disapprove of or distrust him, the worst scores ever for a U. S. president.  It is not merely sad, but terribly dangerous that we cannot see ourselves as others see us.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

We Broke It, We Own It

There is only one political party in the tragi-comic, third-rate banana republic that still calls itself the United States of America.

It is an amalgam of angry white male ignoramuses, rich and powerful oligarchs and military-industrial despots, titularly headed by a perpetual adolescent devoid of ethics or morality whose mental stability is questionable.

The last vestiges of opposition are rotting in the political sewer where a moribund Democratic party went to die after declaring itself “centrist.”

Recent special elections, especially yesterday’s fiasco in Georgia, have affirmed that American voters neither want nor deserve good government.  They want only to have their mindless rage and hatred ratified by hearing it repeated by the unfit little demagogues they have put in public office.

Have recent electoral surprises in other democratic nations given a glimmer of hope to those thinking few who seek to save a semblance of our own original democratic republic? Two years ago, Emmanuel Macron’s Le Republique en Marche party did not exist.  Now Marcon is president of France and his party firmly controls Parliament with a mandate to clean up the sleaze of traditional politics.  In France, Marcon and his followers are called centrist, but in America their positions would be well to the left of the corrupt notions that now govern us. Could a brand-new party of the left pull off a Macron miracle in the U.S.? Not likely.

Once dismissed as a silly sideline act, Jeremy Corbyn, who heads the United Kingdom’s lefty Labour Party, led an electoral surge in the recent election that all but unseated Prime Minister Theresa May’s repressive Conservative coalition. Could, say, Bernie Sanders become America’s Jeremy Corbyn?

There remained in France and Britain pockets of thinking voters to whom Macron and Corbyn could address their appeals. Such voters amount to a mere handful here.  Those who still espouse an enlightened liberalism that might yet rally a redemptive revolution are dispersed, dispirited and seemingly incapable of actually organizing anything like a movement.

As a people, we are stuck with the fading, failing system of so-called government that we deserve.  We voted for it.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A New Kind of Progress

This is a country where you can be jailed for giggling when the blatant racist who is attorney general says something particularly stupid, even for him.

This is a country where a news reporter can be arrested for raising questions with the cabinet officer whose policies are likely to kill thousands of people.

This is a country where a college can lose funding because some of its students turned their backs on a secretary of education who knows no more about  education than a hog butcher knows about veterinary medicine.

This is Trumpistan, the former United States of America.
Its chief executive officer lies so serially, so obviously, that it's difficult to find kernals of truth in even his most mundane remarks.  If he says, "Good morning," staffers look out the window for signs of a hurricane.

He has no domestic policy except to destroy things that have annoyed him over the years of his perpetual adolescence, or to twist the law in ways that will ensure that his labyrinthine business empire continues to squeeze obscene profits out of everything within its reach.

See all those mountains and valleys and rivers and canyons where even the poor can afford to hike and swim and take snapshots?  Kick the little fuckers out and turn those lands over to people who know what to do with them, people like me, who will build towers and ticky-tacky, dig wells and mine coal, make us Great again.

See all those clinics and hospitals where 40 million Americans who never could afford it before are getting medical care?  Board them up and spend the money on bombs and guns to make us Great again.  Let the sick little fuckers cower in dark corners till they die.  What they deserve for not living good, right- wing lives.

See all those seedy little twerps in their shapeless tweed coats and green eyeshades, doing science to protect public health, save the planet from anthropomorphic destruction and improve the quality of life? Kick their hairless asses out into the street to sell pencils or sweep up dogshit until they get religion and learn the will of God.

See all those women of color lined up at Planned Parenthood for health care, birth control and empowerment over their own bodies? Toss their black asses back to the earthen-floored huts where they belong, barefoot and pregnant and boiling collard greens.  Give the money to cities and states to buy tanks and drones for the riot police.

See all those brown and yellow and red people, the ragheads and Pocahontases and Miguels, lining up to get handouts from our tax money? Pitch them and their squalling brats into filthy holding tanks until we can send them back where they came from, or anyplace else but here, which as everyone knows was built and made Great by white, male Americans.

Trumpistan has two kinds of media — failing and Fox.  Failing media, epitomized by the New York Times, assemble facts and package them in ways called “false news.”  Fox lies and repeats my lies and provides a forum where my minions can lie.  This is called reality TV. Fox is making America Great again.

In addition to domestic policy, the president of Trumpistan controls the country’s foreign policy.  This essentially involves making war or threatening to make war.  War makes America Great again because it makes American oligarchs richer.  Foreign policy requires the leader of Trumpistan to know the names of foreign countries and their leaders, which are often hard to pronounce.  That’s why he hires people like Tillerson and Flynn to pronounce them for him. But  you know how hard it is to get good help these days.  Take Flynn.  Take him way out on the ocean, give him cement shoes and let him learn to swim.

To do foreign policy, you’ve got to know the good guys from the bad.  Most of the best guys are dictators.  So they’ve got a little blood on their hands.  You don’t  see drug-dealers running around the streets of the Philippines, do you?  Dictators know how to run things.  They see something needs building, a tower, say, or a golf course, they just build it.  No screwing around with congress or parliament or whatever.

Here in this country, we’ve still got too many nuisances like laws and that damned Constitution.  But we’re getting there.  We’re making America Great again.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Beyond Outrage

The most loathsome animal ever to slither into the White House has now taken the presidency deeper into the sewer than it has ever been before.

By firing the director of the FBI, under the given circumstances and for such obviously phony reasons, the hollow narcissist who conned an entire country has all but acknowledged that he not only compromised his office, but he probably committed treason. Director James Comey, for all his flaws and shortcomings, was getting uncomfortably close to the smoking gun; he had to go.

Those Washington insiders who call Trump's action "Nixonian" are demeaning Nixon: not even Tricky Dick's infamous Saturday Night Massacre can touch Orange Boy's cynical sleaze in this case.Nixon abused his power by seeking to end an investigation into a tawdry domestic burglary committed by his agents to improve his chances of re-election.  He never made a dishonest dime from it.

Orange Boy is abusing the powers of the presidency to keep hidden far, far larger crimes against the people in order to engorge his personal fortune.

He has refused to divest.  He refuses to release his tax returns.  He is hiding things; big things; big, bad things.  

Already his agents and nominees to key posts have been found to have had suspicious dealings with Russia.  The racist attorney general had to recuse himself from the ongoing Russian investigations, although he gleefully participated in the decision to fire Comey.  Orange Boy’s original nominee for national security advisor, Michael Flynn, was fired because he was up to his ears in back-door foreign deals.  Two army secretary nominees had to withdraw.  Never in history has a new president nominated so many unfit people to so many high posts in government.  Far too many of them have been confirmed.  Science, public lands, public health, public services — every good thing done by or on behalf of national government for the last 80years — have been sacrificed on the altar of Trumpian greed.

And now this.  In spite of himself, our Inspector Clouseau was closing in on the ugly truth, and the little dictator fired him.

What else to expect from someone whose mentor was Roy Cohn?  Roy Cohn!  The very same Roy Cohn who earned his doctorate in demagoguery at the right hand of Joe McCarthy himself. The Roy Cohn whose bullying, cheating, dissembling  once befuddled the entire army hierarchy. The Roy Cohn whose empty legal offices in New York still reek of the graft, calumny and slime that got him disbarred.  That Roy Cohn, mentor to our so-called president.

The investigative journalist David Cay Johnston has adroitly assembled the record of how Orange Boy built his fortune through alliances with mobsters, deals with drug kingpins, platoons of labor goons, litigation, double crosses, contract reneging, cheating of little guys like laborers and small contractors.  He’s using the same methods now on an international scale.

Contrarian pundits would have us believe that the Russia investigations were hysteria rooted in old Cold War propaganda, warmed over for new times.  That is simply false.

This is serious concern about backdoor mortgaging of the presidency to a foreign power — any  foreign power — for the personal profit of the Trumps, at the risk of the national interest and security of the United States.

That smells like treason.  Of course it has to be properly investigated. By an independent prosecutor with broad powers to subpoena and require testimony under oath. Now.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

More Tales from Trumpistan

There is turmoil in Trumpistan.  Its spokesman has turned into a bowl of cheese puffs.  Its Alt-Pres. has been demoted.  In fact, Ratso Rednose has lost his seat on the National Security Council, too.  Orange Boy has ordered the First Son-in-Law to put away the knives and make nice with Ratso and the rest of the schemers and plotters.

Who's in? Who's out? Who's up? Who's down? Why cheese puffs? What happened to the chocolate mints? It's like the bad old days in Russia. Pundits are panting over the picture of the White House meeting before Orange Boy ordered the missile strike on Syria.

Who's seated where? Who's scowling? Who's smiling? Sneering? Scratching his ear? Who was fer it, who was agin it?

Why did Orange Boy change his policy? He didn't change it, he never had a policy.  Well, he has one now: his policy is not to have a policy.  

He likes military toys.  The Tomahawks worked so well that he's learning the names of all the other missiles.  He's got warships sailing thither and yon all over the eastern seas. Gotta be careful they don't bump into one another.  Aircraft carriers can't turn on a dime, y'know.

He had a "working meeting" with President Xi Jinping of China.  Big diplomatic triumph, Trumpistan crowed.  Not if you read the newspapers in China. Their guy treated the American like a scolded schoolboy, they wrote, especially if you looked at the photograph of the two men seated on a White House sofa: Orange Boy slouching in a pout, Xi Jinping upright and stern, pointing a finger at the host.  The two presidents were supposed to “work on” another problem brat in the world, Kim Jong-un of North Korea.  Fat Boy, too, likes to play with military toys and has been shooting missiles in a manner that annoys his neighbors.  Orange Boy got no promises from Xi Jinping about controlling North Korea.

So what did he accomplish?  Well, some of the TV guys said, he looked really presidential when he shot those Tomahawks into syria while eating baked Alaska with his guest.  How can a fat, pouty 70-year-old manchild with a dead orange animal on his head look presidential?  Never mind the truth.  It was the designated narrative of the day: “Looked presidential.”

Rex Tillerson, the Exxon-Mobil warlord who has been made secretary of state, defined the North Korea situation one way: “President Xi clearly understands, and I think agrees, that the situation has intensified and has reached a certain level of threat that action has to be taken.”  Nikki Haley, the addle-pated United States ambassador to the U.N. saw it differently.  Xi Jinping might be dragging his feet, but the U.S. was quite ready to go it alone using force.  Who writes the scripts for these people?

ButOrange Boy had a really big victory in the Senate, you’ve got to agree on that, right?  Got his man Gorsuch confirmed to the open seat on the Supreme court, giving the fascist wing a 5-4 majority again. And all they had to do was kill the last vestiges of democracy in the upper house, changing the rules of operation in ways that had never been attempted before.

Trumpistan stands where once there was a democratic republic.  It wasn’t perfect, and recent regimes had presided over  symptoms of decay, but at least it retained vestiges of what its founders had intended.  Every now and then sane office-holders actually engaged in serious, civil debate.

But that was then.  This is now.  Bigly.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Toys of Mass Destruction

Great Powers have been meddling in the Middle East at least since World War I.  Each meddle has made an impossibly complicated geopolitical mess even more complicated.

Now comes the narcissistic manchild of the west, taking a turn at havoc.  The Orange Boy loves toys almost as bigly as he loves himself and seeing his name in large gilt letters.  Yesterday, he turned loose 59 of them against Syria, without bothering to consult Congress, as that finicky old Constitution requires.  Wheeee!  See the bang-bangs.  I am sooooo great!

As he intended, he is now the center of attention in the world, basking in the praise of just about everyone except Russia, Iran and a few fuddy-duddies in congress who still think the Founders were serious when they invested war-making powers solely in the legislative branch of government.

What next? is the frightening question now.  Things are vastly more complicated than they were a mere two days ago.  Then we were wondering what really happened with the chlorine-sarin gas attacks in battered, shattered, civil war-torn Syria.

Orange Boy’s secretary of state, the oil baron Rex Tillerson, who knows where the crude is buried but not the hatchets, assured the world that there is absolute proof that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was behind horrible nerve-gas attack in Idlib.  Just as then Secretary of State Colin Powell assured the United Nations, the United States and the world that there was absolute proof that Saddam Hussein of Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. (False). Just as the Obama administration assured everyone in 2013 that Assad had used banned nerve gas in an assault on his own people.  (False).

Tillerson’s proof consists of radar video, not yet released to the public, clearly showing planes taking off from a Syrian air force base and dropping bombs on Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib, a province in northern Syria controlled by an alliance of rebel groups, including a powerful faction linked to al-Qaeda. Tillerson says the projectiles the aircraft dropped contained the deadly, banned gas.  Russia says they were conventional bombs that hit a building where the rebels had stored the gas.

Orange Boy
It was Russia’s President Vladimir Putin who, in 2013, brokered the deal that caused U.S. President Obama to hold off on military reprisal against Assad.  The deal called for Russia to monitor Syria’s destruction of all its chemical weapons.  Supposedly, this was done.

The air force base that Orange Boy’s toys targeted is 67 miles from Khan Sheikhoun. We are told today that our military gave the Russian military advance notice of the strike.  Even so, some Russians soldiers were still there when the cruise missiles hit. Syrian sources said only 26 of the missiles reached their targets.  Does it matter how many?  Seven people were reported killed in the strike.  One of them may have been Russian.

Today, Russia responded by announcing it would beef up its aerial presence and aerial defense support in Syria. The Kremlin suspended a 2015 memorandum of understanding  to minimize the risk of in-flight incidents between United States and Russian military aircraft operating over Syria.  That could lead to big trouble. It was Russia’s military assistance that enabled the Assad government to turn the tide in the six-year-old civil war.  It was, inch by inch, village by village, winning that war when the poison gas incident occurred. Why, then, would Assad risk everything, outraging the world by killing civilians and children with outlawed chemical weaponry that he had promised to destroy?  Doing so, an Iranian political analyst named Mosib Na’imi said yesterday, “would be a crazy move” under the circumstances.

But crazy is normal in the Middle East.

Somebody loosed the nerve gas on civilians.  Horrid pictures of dead and suffering children were on TV.

Orange Boy doesn’t read.  He gets his information from the TV.  His generals offered him a range of options — including one that called for firm insistence that Russia make good on its 2013 deal, with the implied threat of future military action against Assad.

Orange Boy chose instead to make bang-bang with his big, bad toys.

Now the world cringes.  Its diplomats and generals and political leaders ask themselves, what next in the Middle East?

Hang onto your ass.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Good Day at the Pass

They turned on the river yesterday.  It seemed like a good time to drive way across town and revisit the mountains.

For much of the year our part of the Rio Grande is a river of sand but in spring, they open the gates at the reservoirs upstream and it flows, brown and fetid, into Texas and Mexico. Near the Mesilla bridge, two cars were parked and guys were sitting in folding chairs, fishing.  Hundreds of miles to the north, the Rio Grande roars between high cliffs and anglers catch trout.  I don’t want to know what, if anything, they catch down here.

When we first drove out University Avenue almost three decades ago, Dripping Springs Road and Baylor Canyon Road were rocky, pitted, narrow passages, little better than jeep tracks.  Now almost the entire route is paved and the section that isn’t has been widened, scraped and covered with “crusher fine” gravel.  Smooth.

I presume the road improvements, and the other refinements we noted, were paid for with federal funds that accompanied the designation of the new Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National monument, which embraces the Dripping Springs recreation area, the Baylor Pass trail, the Aguirre Springs campground and recreation area, and much more. Lois wanted to photograph the golden poppy fields at Aguirre Springs.  We took the scenic route.

Poppies in the Organ Foothills
It had been so long since we last went over there that we were surprised by the enhancements the monument designation had spawned, and by the sheer beauty of being up close to the mountains.  New signs and markers have been placed at various points, with text explaining how the mountains came to be, where the old Lost Padre Mine was, the stories of the padre, the Hermit, Col. Baylor and his great Civil War victory. The new regime in Washington wants to give all these public lands back to the states and to private interests which will exploit and spoil them for a brief spree of obscene profit. The Republican who represents this district fought the national monument for a decade.  Our U.S.  senators and other saner voices prevailed, but now the people-haters and climate-deniers want to tear apart everything we’ve gained.

How, I wondered, as we paused at Organ Peak Road for picture-taking, could anyone with a soul, a brain, a shred of humanity, want to end the protections of these places? The sun was intense, the sky virtually cloudless.  Others were about, exploring and enjoying the monument.  California, Minnesota, Nevada, Iowa, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Wisconsin.  On our second or third visit here we had seen only one non-local vehicle, driven by a nurse from El Paso whose boyfriend helped us change a tire on the Jeep. Now we were part of a flow of tourists.  Tourists spend money for local goods and services.  Recent studies have shown that all of the newer national parks and monuments have been economic boons for local businesses.  Yet here, and in Utah, especially, the congressional fruitcakes of the GOP want to dismantle them and let the corporate bloodsuckers dig and drill and despoil.  Madness.

Monument money at last has enabled the Bureau of Land Management to replace the stolen marker that tells the story of Baylor Pass.  During the Civil War, a Union battalion was stationed at Mesilla,  It had its own hospital and medical staff.  Among its stores was a supply of medicinal whiskey.  One day the Pinkertons, as was their wont, reported to the Union commander that a far superior Confederate force was on its way.  The order to retreat was sounded and many of the troops, rather than letting the stuff fall into Johnny Reb’s hands, filled their canteens with whiskey rather than water. By the time they had traversed the 13 miles over hot, arid desert to the foot of the nearest pass over the Organs, most of them were sick and drunk.  Some had even ditched their weapons and gear.  When the six or seven mounted troops of the Confederate advance unit overtook them, the entire battalion surrendered to Col. John Robert Baylor’s men. The pass where these events took place is now named for the man who won this great victory.

It’s a short jaunt to Aguirre Springs from the end of Baylor Canyon Road, via U.S. Highway 70.  The road follows St, Augustine Pass from whose  7,500-foot summit one has a sweeping view of the Organs, the San Andres and the White Sands Missile Range.  The road from the highway to Aguirre Springs borders an artillery range.  Little puffs of smoke rose in the distance to the east.  We scanned the western slopes for poppy fields.

We had missed the peak season, which had come a little earlier than usual this year.  Lois, who is passionate about these poppies, spotted a few patches, glittering golden in the bright sunlight.  She made many pictures.

It was a good day.  As always in the west, we wondered how many more such days there would be before the bad guys had their way with the land.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Treason Against Mankind

Whatever remains of this nation, and this planet, four years from now, historians and scientists will sift through the ashes looking for evidence of criminality.  Which crime of Donald J. Trump will they assess to be the most serious?

Arguably, his massive destruction of environmental progress and protections.  “Treason against the human race” is how my journalist friend, Steve Klinger, aptly describes these horrors.  Absent the initiation of nuclear war, these crimes will stand as the most serious attempts ever made by a national leader to destroy the entire world.

As usual, the carnival antics of his attempt at governance will distract attention from the depths of his depravity on this and the other great issues of our time.

Who leaked what to whom and why?  Who owes his or her vast wealth to dalliances with the worst of the financial criminals in other countries? Who sold out to whom and when?  Secret sallies by corrupt congressmen in the dead of night into White House grounds to receive purloined documents. Lies to congress by appointees to head the regulatory agencies of government.  Lies to the people by a peccary in an ill-fitting suit.  Lies! Fake news!  Tweets! Sad.

Never has the democratic republic been in such a sorry state.  Never has there been such a paucity of integrity and leadership at the highest levels of government.  Never has the common man been under such relentless attack from all directions.  Never has there been such a sweeping destruction of basic human rights.  Life — air fit to breathe, water safe to drink, poison-free food in adequate supply to feed all the people. Liberty — freedom from fear of the police and of government spies and of religious hatred; freedom to speak openly in criticism of government mis-rule; freedom to worship, or not worship, as one’s conscience dictates.  The pursuit of happiness — health care for all, with women guaranteed the right to control their own bodies without government interference; public lands, wisely managed and protected for the good of all, not just a handful of greedy corporations and land-rapers; living with and loving whom one pleases; a share of the great national wealth allocated to the encouragement and development of the arts and sciences; tolerance of neighbors of different colors, traditions and values.

Day after day the populace is assaulted by new hateful executive orders, vicious new laws, rights-stomping regulations.  Our leaders open their mouths and villainy spews out.  Even the rhetoric of government pollutes air already increasingly laden with deadly elements.  The technology is so vast, so rapidly expanding, that there is no safe corner, no soothing nook, in which to find a moment’s rest, a few seconds of peace and safety.  We are encased in a vast and sophisticated apparatus of repression and it is managed by a madman.

But worst of all, this madman has chosen to make war upon the thin veneer of elements enveloping this planet that can sustain the life that has evolved upon it.  Not since the Great Extinction have so many creatures been threatened with elimination within so brief a period of time.  Never have there been so many threats to human health, vitality and existence, deliberately and maniacally exacerbated by a single man and his vile cohorts.

Once, Time magazine wondered on its cover, “Is God Dead?”  More recently, Time magazine wondered on its cover, “Is Truth Dead?”

Now it is time to wonder, “Is Civilization Dead?”  Because there will be no one left to wonder when the entire world is dead.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Try Now for Single Payer

A movement is afoot for Democrats to seize the day, to follow up the Republican defeat on Trumpcare with a single-payer health care bill.

The Democratic leadership in Congress should do exactly that.

The late Sen. George McGovern said such a bill could be written in a single sentence: "Henceforth, everyone in the United States is eligible for Medicare."

Of course the Republicans control both houses of Congress and have enough votes to defeat such a bill.  It's doubtful if enough Republicans have been singed by the fight they just lost to cross over and support single payer..  Even if that miraculously happened, Donald of course would veto the legislation.

But if the Democrats really want to serve their constituency, which, remember, is larger by three million voters than Donald's, they should make the most of this opportunity.

Donald's code after his defeat is easy enough to crack.  He said the Republicans should wait for the Affordable Care Act to "explode" and then act to create a "really great" health care plan.  After seven years of failure, there is no reason to think that they're capable of doing so. But what Donald was saying is that Secretary Tom Price will devote the entire resources of his Department of Health and Human Services to sabotaging the ACA in every way it legally can -- as well, probably, as a few ways that are not legal.  Donald will contribute nefarious executive orders to help with the sabotage.

The ACA is far from perfect.  In fact, it is loaded with flaws. These will make it even easier for the Trump/Ryan sabotage of the ACA to succeed.

It would be well for the American people to have a clear record of the Trump Republicans  having rejected a real solution -- Medicare for all -- before their sabotage succeeds in destroying affordable health care for millions of Americans.

If a vigilant press catches and exposes some of the dirty tricks, and the Democrats try to get single payer now, but are thwarted by the Trumpistas, there will be a genuine opportunity for a change of power in Congress in the 2018 mid-term elections.

And that would be at least a start toward heading off fascist despotism in this country.

Take THAT, Stupid Newbie!

The fat fraud who conned his way into the White House received a hard lesson today in how Washington, DC, works, and does not work.

Muscling congressmen, even of his own party, is a lot different than muscling the subcontractors, workers, lenders and TV whores he rolled over on his way to wealth and celebrity.

The House of Representatives said “No” to the deal he tried to fashion on a so-called health care bill.  Even though Donald had demanded a vote today, Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the bill off the floor rather than calling a vote and suffering humiliating defeat.

The alleged president’s first reaction was to blame Democrats.  Surely Alt-Pres. Bannon will come up with something better.

Meanwhile, the ruling party is in chaos.  Hard-line right wingers in congress say the Ryan-Trump bill was too much like what they like to call Obamacare.  Less extreme Republicans, sensitive to the health care needs of their constituents, realize that Trumpcare took away too many of the good things from Obamacare and offered nothing to replace them.  Where can they go from here?

Republicans have had seven years to come up with a form of health care that can replace the Affordable Care Act without harming many millions of people. Even working with the self-styled great deal-maker himself, they were unable to accomplish that.

I remember being startled when an acquaintance, a practicing physician, told me he was going to vote for Trump.  “Well,” he said, “I simply cannot stand the other candidate.  And maybe the guy will do something.  If he does ONE THING, it will be an improvement.  And if that one thing is a better health care plan, it would really be great.”

Sorry, Doc.  You wasted your vote.

Another friend, a retired physician, wondered about the effect on the 2018 congressional elections if Trump/Ryan succeeded in repealing the ACA.  That was unlikely this time around.  Even if there had been enough votes in the House to move the bill forward, it almost certainly would not have passed the Senate.

But that’s all irrelevant now.  Trumpcare is dead and the so-called president has said he wants to move on to other issues.  But, like everything he says, that may have been just blue smoke, a negotiating posture, an outright lie.

The next step remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, Donald had better find someone, anyone, willing to join his team who knows at least a little bit about how Washington works.  Or doesn’t work.