Sunday, September 24, 2017

Life Goes On

The smell of the freshly brewed coffee in my cup was already weaving together the synapses in my brain as I plopped into the chair in front of the television. As I settled in with my caffeine and listened to the overly attractive and surely focus group-tested lady read off the leading news, I could feel my consciousness asserting itself even though my body wanted desperately to crawl back into bed. Sleep offered nothing but a pleasant postponement of having to listen to the long worn out machinations of men who are playing a game whose purpose they can't fathom beyond the pursuit of blatant self-gratification.

As the same stories that had dominated the news for days and even weeks were read off there was a bit of perverse comfort in knowing that the shit pile called current events hadn't drastically changed since the night before. A sad commentary on life for sure, but with the nation and world being held essentially hostage by people whose psychologies never rose above that of the average schoolyard bully you take comfort in whatever form available.

The leading story that morning was the super-hurricane that had just run over the island Puerto Rico with all the compassion the current occupant of the White House can muster about anyone outside his family. Funny thing about that hurricane, being the latest in a strange line of “Once in a lifetime weather events,” a person might begin to wonder if some outside force might be amplifying them. Its almost got to the point that our elected leaders should call upon the highly educated and professional men and women who have studied climate and weather for years to look into the matter. If this change in climate is because of something humans have done it would seem a good idea to stop it and work to repair the damage.

Just as soon as the last pictures of tropical destruction faded off the screen the news lady appeared saying she would be back soon after this commercial break. That's when the nausea struck causing me to put down my coffee cup.

“This is my hair!” The now middle aged, former child television star exclaimed as if he had just discovered the location of the fountain of youth. Call it a bizarre notion given our culture, but its always bothered me that many celebrities can't seem to walkaway from the limelight even though the basis of their fame had long since faded into oblivion. This particular individual, the middle boy child of a late 1960's and early 1970's merged television family has tenaciously fought to keep some aspect of his fame. He's no lone ranger with several others in his television siblings going to equally awkward levels to stay in the public mind.

“I can wash this hair, I can style this hair, this is my hair!” He continued with all the zeal of someone who just a personal one-on-one conversation with God. I could feel the bile in my stomach bubbling as this washed up actor turned reality star talked about how much better he looked and felt since undergoing the the procedure that restored him to a full head of hair. In normal times such enthusiasm would have been reserved for developing a vaccine for polio or finishing a project that brought fresh water to a third world village.

As a middle aged man myself who is severely follicely challenged, I know all the reasons that commercial justified for having hair restored to improve their appearance or regain confidence is a thinly disguised lie. If the true reason for hair restoration was just for confidence, there wouldn't have been a need for the company to pay a twenty-something, bikini wearing lady to sit in a hot tub beside the grinning fifty-something man sporting an abnormal amount of hair on his head. As a book I just finished stated, our civilization is based on clever fictions we convince ourselves are true. But at some point men should just own up and admit that no matter our age, our chief goal never drifts far from wanting to get laid. I truly feel we would all be mentally healthier in the end if we faced that truth.

Speaking of delusions or grandeur, when the news lady returned her story was about the various speeches given at the opening of the United Nations Assembly earlier this week. Sure enough a video soon began showing America's latest joke on civilization and history at the podium wildly gesturing while exclaiming how he would totally destroy the country lead by the only other individual who rivals him at being a dangerous stooge. It is my sincerest hope that at some point in the future humans will have advanced enough to recognize the aberrant behavior in children that leads to narcissistic megalomania.

From there hopefully they could either correct it or prevent such individuals from ever holding any position of power greater than a gardener. How far should societies go to prevent such maladjusted individuals who crave power like plants need sunlight from pursing their goals? While civilized people like to say the ends never justify the means, depending of how much our personalities are govern by genetics, I'd have to say pretty damn far to prevent anything similar to “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” from ever coming to power again.

Faced with a growing weather apocalypse, crass commercialism promoted by washed up actors, and the immediate threat of nuclear Holocaust perpetrated by mutant trolls, I turned off the television and went outside to sit on my backyard deck. While I was physically able to settle in my chair my mind was still reeling from the complexities of a civilization where the various leaders are acting instinctively instead of intelligently. Seriously, it should totally freak out any reasonably sentient person that the Catholic Church has a better scientific understanding of many of the global problems we face than the leaders of most twenty-first century nations.

That was when I saw the bird feeder my wife had just purchased and had hanging for one of the backyard trees. A bird I couldn't identify and a squirrel appeared to be in some sort of staring contest on either side of the large feeder. With the feeder slightly swinging from their small jerky motions I expected one of the two to leave while the other gorged out on the seed supply. Instead they both pigged out on the seeds for several seconds before both leaving. My sighting of the two animals sharing the bird feeder wasn't anything profound but it did allow me to brush off the residual anxiety from my mistake of watching the morning news. Essentially it showed me that worrying about things won't help the situation and that despite it all life will go on. After that revelation I made another cup of coffee and enjoyed the day.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Relearning Compromise and Moderation

Memories are malleable things subject to current biases and circumstances but I can say with absolute certainty I have always entertained various liberal ideas when it comes to politics and society. Yes, I have to admit that for a short time from the mid-1990's to the early 2000's I bought into the conservative mindset. After voting for Bill Clinton in 1992 I became extremely dissatisfied with his behavior and along with the Democratic Party after several highly visible congressional scandals. I felt the party had become hopelessly corrupt after several decades controlling both houses of Congress.

There were other reasons for my rightward drift but rehashing the ancient political history of those times and my shallow membership in the “conservative movement” would be meaningless. What is important though was that my exposure to the likes of Limbaugh, and numerous other false right-wing prophets made me realize its talk about freedom and self-reliance was largely a lie. As I listened to the usual right-wing talking heads it became apparent that conservatism had quite literally jettisoned rationality and was toying with authoritarianism along with displaying a dangerous fascination with religion having a direct involvement in politics. Lets face it, both Eisenhower and Reagan were great presidents but neither would stand a snowball's chance in hell at getting nominated in today's Republican party.

Even though I had fallen to the Dark Side back during the early days of the 1996 presidential campaign I was disgusted with the blatant racism directed towards General Colin Powell on the popular radios talk shows during the time he was considering making a bid for the Republican nomination. To have General Powell, who had served his country with honor for decades, be criticized by individuals who leaned heavily on military deferments to avoid being drafted was an outrage. It wasn't long after that I became conscious of the movement by Republicans to outright reject anyone not fitting their religious and societal definition of what it means to be a true American. Yes, I was guilty of many of these sins myself and have no excuse for my horrendous behavior other than mindlessly following the crowd.

What pulled me back to sanity was Bush and Cheney's Iraq adventure that totally failed to find any of the dreaded WMD's that they assured the American people were on the verge of being given to the 9/11 attackers by Saddam Hussein. Side note: Unlike numerous Republican politicians and radio talking heads, I served in the military and know just enough about remote intelligence gathering to understand that Saddam's missing stockpile of WMD's wasn't an honest mistake. Certain pieces of information questioning whether Saddam had any WMD's were ignored or willfully suppressed while other, less reliable sources were pushed on the public through sympathetic media outlets. Throw in the acceptance of torture by the administration and a large part of the Republican party, the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on a war built on lies, along with the factors I had already noticed and I ran back to the Democrats and my true nature.

Since then Republican actions have only pushed me further left. I found it appalling and even damn scary that President Obama, a man elected with clear majorities in both the popular and electoral votes in 2008 and 2012, was treated like a criminal by an overwhelming numbers of conservatives. At the same time, those same individuals openly admired and embraced the authoritarian thug in Russia, Vlad Putin. A person that murders journalists and dissenters with a casual disregard that Stalin and Hitler would respect.

All that being undeniable to anyone except for fools, racists, and the outright stupid, I find myself increasingly disappointed with both the Democratic leadership and the rank and file members. The Democrat Party leadership seems mired in some sort of passionless limbo unable to articulate any clear route the country might take to overcome the unique challenges we face in this era. They are still terrified of being painted the the party of welfare moms constantly popping out babies to boost their food stamps and wasteful spending.

The response to this lack of a Democratic vision has been the development of a left-wing version of the Republican “Tea Party movement” by those who generally label themselves as progressive. In no way is it an exact copy but it does share the same penchant for ideological purity tests along with a total disdain for compromise. Both of those items are like cancer to a working (small D) democratic system like our elected government.

Way back in 2009 after President Obama took office I remember a lot of Democrats were whining that nothing was getting done even though they had a thin control over both houses of Congress. One person I know on Facebook and the blogosphere even suggested Obama was a Republican/corporate-controlled Manchurian candidate out to just pursue the Bush/Cheney agenda.

Here's the problem that to some self-aware individuals might sound strikingly familiar. Obama wasn't a dictator, yes, during his second term he did start issuing executive orders in an attempt to get something done in the face of a Congress that by then was heavily controlled by Republicans and that refused to work with him. But before the 2010 midterms the Democrats didn't get much done because many of them were in districts that were not politically secure or that outright leaned Republican. Their one collective desire was to get reelected and that meant they couldn't go along with every policy Obama wanted to enact.

Despite showing restraint many of these hesitant Democrats were voted out of office in 2010 anyway. But honestly a lot of that can be blamed on lazy and self-absorbed liberals and progressives who couldn't be bothered to vote while conservatives, now terrified that the Antichrist was in the White House, flocked to the polling booths. As they say, the rest is a sad history with only Putin smiling over self destructive American intransigence.

Funny thing though, all during the Obama years Congressional Republicans had scores of non-binding votes to repeal “Obamacare”, shrilly promising that if they ever regained the White House it would be killed minutes after the new chief executive took the oath of office. Fast forward to the disastrous aftermath of the 2016 election and these same Republicans honestly looked like a flock of headless chickens with their inability to not only repeal Obamacare but their mind numbing incompetence at crafting a semi-workable replacement.

Speaking strictly as an outside observer, yeah their inability on crafting a replacement and getting it approved was sheer monumental incompetence on the party leadership. But the deja vu should have been overwhelming for the rank and file Republican members of Congress from politically insecure districts or ones that usually voted Democratic. It was easy to rage against Obamacare, the rabid base loved it but when it actually came to ending the only means millions had access to healthcare those same Republicans from problematic districts had second thoughts. Oh God I admit it, I thoroughly enjoyed the whining put out by conservative talking heads disturbed that after years of promising to take healthcare away from people their party failed as badly as the proverbial lead balloon.

The one element that everyone occupying the growing partisan divide ignores is that our system of government was built on compromise. YES, it is always clumsy and often as ugly as a mutant pig but trying to govern with just one party in control simply ain't working! When you have one party trying to govern alone the results are wild swings in Congressional majorities with the opposing party using every means to undo or sabotage previous efforts when they take control.

Moderation and compromise are dirty words in politics these days, both political parties feel called by God (one quite literally and the other figuratively) to “save America” from the evil minions on the opposing side. But moderation and compromise are the only way workable solutions can be enacted. I've said it before, while I am firmly settled on the lefty liberal side of politics I am not egotistical enough to believe my opinions are the only way for our country to go forward.

Watch any of the cable news channels shows and it isn't hard to hear both conservatives and progressives say that America is on their side. That any deviation from their proscribed political dogma violates the soul of our nation. A curious sentiment given that it is similar to any number of destructive religious cults that demands the individual surrender their free will and ability to change their minds when new evidence is uncovered.

Such a thing happened the other day when I caught a conservative talk show host on television get a wild, rapturous look on his face when he got the actor Henry Winkler to agree on some point. The talk show host's response was to exclaim, “That means you are a conservative!” in the same way a preacher gets when a person becomes born again. Don't worry, I've seen many progressives (Bernie Bros) get the same way and go into a rage if someone dare suggest their policies might be unworkable or impractical.

How did the situation get this way? That's as complicated as explaining why the Roman Empire fell. Sure, it's easy to point to certain individual factors but lately I come to think we are seeing a cascade effect with many elements involved. Conservatives, who are generally white and well off financially, fear change while progressives rage against a system that, truthfully, isn't fair to the economically disadvantaged and minorities. This fear and rage dynamic plays off each other and brings out the extremes. I have to add that you can't ignore the willfully destructive individuals in our society who associate with conservative and liberal/progressive causes. Their true mission is to sow hate and discord and to burn the world down the first chance they get.

The only simple thing I can find with our collective political constipation is the fact that the only way we are going to extradite ourselves is by getting the vast number of non-voting Americans to regularly show up on election day. The only thing fear and rage accomplishes is to bring in a new congressional majority that will be ejected within an election cycle or two. Allowing the bases of either political party to dominate the nomination process for any elected office is akin to letting an emotional unstable toddler play with matches and a five-gallon jug of gasoline.

If pushed, and if I have drank enough beer, you might get to admit there is a thin silver lining in the apocalyptically dark cloud that is Trump. That abomination is such a disaster that I see a record turnout of voters for both the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential run, even if he is impeached and removed from office. There is a slim chance he might be the catalyst that reengages the members of both political parties forcing them to relearn the art of compromise and moderation. 

Ideally, I'd like to see some sort of unity ticket run for president in 2020. I don't care if the its Republican/Democrat or the other way around, I want rational government that can adapt to the news situations that appear daily both here at home and around the world. Yes, I am still a liberal Democrat but the welfare of the nation and world should transcend our petty politics.  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Short Buffett Interlude

Like an idiot, after a long and much needed hiatus I attempted to write some fiction this weekend. After pounding out over a page and a half of lackluster prose I realized it was so bad that I physically began to smell something akin to a long neglected cat's litter box coming from my laptop. So between trying to salvage that disaster and watching Hurricane Irma coverage on CNN I wasted the entire weekend. So instead I will offer up a small Jimmy Buffett video interlude.

While I'm still a fan of Buffett, I've got to admit I ain't feeling the same thrill anymore. Especially since he appears to have mostly transitioned from tropical vagabond singer/song writer/author over to some sort of high rolling resort/real estate developer going as far as offering up retirement homes to aging Baby Boomers. I guess my disappointment in Jimmy's embrace of gross capitalistic endeavors that probably threaten coastal environments that inspired his songs is a minor form of whining. But still, that makes Jimmy more part of the establishment now than the free soul whose songs once told everyone life should be taken at face value because none of us were going to get out of it alive.

Be that as it may, this seems fitting given what people in the Caribbean, Florida, and Texas have endured.

Now how about a little mid-life reflection:

Word of warning, when listening to this song with the volume up DO NOT have your car windows down while as you drive through pickup loop in front of your daughter's school. The attractive 40-something teacher directing traffic in her sundress that spring day didn't appreciate the apparent but totally unintentional  innuendo.

And finally, something to remind everyone life is short and often tragic, so we need to be nice as possible to each other and not get caught up in the bull shit.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Nomad Feet: Brookgreen Gardens and Pawleys Island

With summer quickly receding all I can say is good riddance. While my loving spouse and daughter went on an awesome trip to Scotland and then down to England I got to stay home and babysit two overactive dogs and two indifferent cats. The problem with this situation being? By now everyone should be well versed in my simmering disdain for both suburbia in general and the contemptuous but pleasant hellhole I live so I will spare you poor souls by not rehashing the sacrifices I made by keeping the home fires burning and the grass cut.

That being said several months before the two left on their glorious adventure my wife and I negotiated a series of day trips to the coast for myself as sort of a recompense for not getting a real vacation. In the greater scope of things, my little excursions were and are quite insignificant compared the their grandiose vacation, but it usually doesn't take much to keep me happy so I was okay with taking these simple day trips.

Last Saturday was my latest day trip and while my original plan to catch a tour boat in Georgetown, South Carolina that would cruise up Winyah Bay to an uninhabited barrier island didn't pan out, my daughter and I did do something else just as good. My daughter, Darth Wiggles, and I decided to hit Brookgreen Gardens down by Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.

Brookgreen Gardens is a 9100-acre sculpture garden and wildlife preserve that was once four separate plantations, whose presence on the property has largely been erased. The creation of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington their original intention was to create a winter home, but she soon decided to use the property to showcase her own sculptures. Eventually the property went public and began displaying the sculptures from many other artists. Today Brookgreen Gardens is one of the major tourists' attractions on Grand Strand and last Saturday it was a refuge for this weary knucklehead.

I didn't get the information on that sculpture but it's one of the first items you see upon starting the tour.

Didn't get the name of this one either, although I take a picture with it on every visit.

This is called "Young America" by Joseph Walter. There is a confidence and intelligence in the lady's pose that I wish our country had right now.

This is mainly a landscape picture but the sculpture on the lower left is called, "Bella and the Bug."

Part of the continuing appeal of Brookgreen Gardens is the serenity of the grounds. I can see myself sitting on the bench under that tree and reading a book. Yeah, part of why I like it is the tree itself, it has a real majesty. 

"The Saint James Triad" by Richard McDermott Miller.

"Time and the Fates of Man" by Paul Howard Manship

Just a nice scene that I really like.

And another, notice the lack of people which wasn't hard since it was still rather early in the day.

Yeah, I dig butterflies.

"Baboon" by Marshall Maynard Fredericks.

Peaceful scene.

The sculpture is entitled "Eat More Beef" by Sandy Scott. The photobomb in the background is by Darth Wiggles.

Nice scene but I didn't get any info on the statute

Cool picture of a flower.

Another nice scene.

No info, but I included it because of its depth.

Eventually, my daughter and I made our way to Pawleys Island to walk the beach. The surf was quite rough that day, so much that hardly anyone was in the water. Little did I know but a storm had formed off the coast. 

Like I said, no one was going out very deep that day. God knows, given the stupid stuff I did as a kid in the waters off Pawleys I should have drowned many times. I sure as Hell never let my own kids do anywhere near the crazy things I did. Best example is that long before I could swim all that well I would regularly go out to the point the water was way over my head. 

Just proof that I did get my feet wet. Getting down to the coast is such a  rare occurrence I often need a record of it to remember. That's all the picture I'm going to publish. 


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Boldly Going

Pondering metaphysical concepts, with regard to crazy ass theories and ideas most normal people either discount or ridicule, is something I do many times in a twenty-four hours period, much to chagrin of my fuddy-duddy wife. While I've always been a person who likes to entertain ideas outside the realm of what normal people consider, when you work third-shift like me ruminating about the fantastic or improbable has the added effect of keeping my mind entertained.

Now, I also have to admit I'm particular about what I get metaphysical about, I don't waste my time on things like Bigfoot, alien abductions, UFO's that fly around trailer parks, anything about a literal Atlantis, or supernatural entities that terrorized little children and ruin real estate values. Long story short while I camp out in left field, most of my brooding is firmly on scientific grounds. I could carry on ad nauseam about my favorite subjects, like the possibility of life existing in the watery ocean under the ice of Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. Another favorite is the future of Artificial Intelligence and how I'm ready to vote for a sentient computer to be president as opposed to the thing now living in the White House. And while I cringe when some bonehead brings up UFO's, I am always ready to discuss the current ideas about extraterrestrial intelligence and why Fermi's Paradox raises the hairs on the back my neck. PLEASE, someone ask me why Fermi's Paradox bothers me far more than it should. But remember I'm weird, marooned in a boorish suburban hell, and have no real life so my answer will be long, convoluted, and lean towards the fantastic.

But all that is for another day, right now I want to ponder the accomplishment of the Voyager 1 probe, which not only passed the forty year mark in its mission but is now the first human-made object to enter interstellar space. Launched back on September 5 of 1977 it flew by both Jupiter and Saturn before heading out into the abyss.
Due to a rather rare orbital aliment of the gas giants the planners back at NASA were able to leave the Voyager 2 probe the option of swinging by Uranus and then Neptune. For those not up on the orbital mechanics of “planets”, Pluto wasn't included on the Voyager Grand Tours because it simply wasn't in the proper position.

Which was all good because it allowed the wizards at NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory to design, build, and then launch the New Horizons probe so it could specifically visit the little runt several years later. In fact during New Horizon's long voyage to its intended destination, the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto from being a full-fledged planet to “dwarf-planet” status earning the the ire from its hordes of fans around the world while confusing the crap out of many Americans.

Personally, I think Pluto's demotion to dwarf-planet was a good thing. Any decent planet should be able to clear its orbit of all that primordial trash left over from the formation of the solar system. Then there is the fact that Pluto's orbit is highly elliptical, so much that it sometimes dips in front of Neptune's path. All told, I liken Pluto to the drunk, irresponsible redneck that moves his dilapidated trailer right next an upper-middle class subdivision. You know given this criteria, it suddenly just occurred to me that except for the dilapidated trailer and being a drunk, my neighbors could call me Pluto, or at least Ceres, another dwarf-planet that somehow sneaked into the better part of town.

Getting back on the proper metaphysical track, it should amaze every literate person that humans have made an object that is now sailing through interstellar space. The first reason for this is that it was only a little over a century ago that we hairless primates began making machines that could take us up just a few hundred feet into our own atmosphere. Yes, it will take forty-thousand years before Voyager 2 passes within a couple of light-years of a star (Ross 248) and then almost another three-hundred thousand years before it passes within four light-years of the star Sirius, but nevertheless a human-made object is traveling interstellar space. Given our rapid progress from primitive, propeller-drive aircraft made of wood and canvas to complex space probes speeding out of the solar system it isn't wrong to hope actual humans might be heading out to the stars at some point. That is if we don't destroy ourselves by allowing too many more delusional and narcissistic morons access to nuclear capable political leadership. 

Cover for the Golden Record

Which brings up the Golden Records each of the Voyager probes carry on board. Back during the planning stages of the Voyager probes a team a of scientists, lead by the great Carl Sagan decided to include a type of time capsule with each spacecraft should it be found by space faring aliens or even future humans. On these phonographic records are samples of music from around the world, greetings from different people in many languages, and different scenes of our planet. To help out any possible aliens or far future humans who might stumble across the Voyager probes the records are encased in a cover that gives “instructions” on how to play them as well as other nice tidbits of information about their planet of origin.

The mind blowing aspect of the Voyager probes and their golden records is that their expected lifespan is in the billions of years. While the chances of them being discovered by an alien civilization is so low it would be far wiser for a person to expect to win a multi-million dollar lottery, the Voyager probes are a testament to the vision and hopes of a difficult and troublesome species that on occasion could rise above its limitations. Needless to say, unless we Homo sapiens really clean up our act and get supremely creative, the Voyager probes could ultimately be the last thing in the universe that say we ever existed.

As someone who enjoys solitude way too much, I've got to say there is something chilling to think about all those countless millennia the Voyagers probes will sail through the void as our representatives. Makes me hope that one day some future intrepid human explorers will head out and bring them back home.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Power of Ideas and When They Fail

In what many will view as my ongoing efforts to be a pretentious pseudo-intellectual dick, I am now reading Yuval Noah Harari's, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Needless to say it is a fascinating and thought provoking work that essentially states that what sets humanity apart from both its now extinct kinfolk and the rest of the animals is its ability to cooperate in large numbers.

Harari states in the section entitled, The Legend of Peugeot (starting at page 28 of my copy) , that biology prevents social animals like chimps and early humans from forming groups larger that about fifty individuals. Anything larger quickly destabilizes and ruptures with the result at best being the splitting of the group, or at worse open warfare until the numbers are reduced to proper limits. If I understand this correctly, biology essentially limited cooperation to groups that were often extended families.

What got Homo sapiens out of this rut was the Cognitive Revolution that occurred about 70,000 years ago. It was at that point Sapiens evolved the ability to gossip, but importantly imagine abstract, fictional things like gods, empires, nations, money, and even human rights. Yes, even though through our civilized eyes all those things I mentioned are as real to us as the roads we drive our cars or the houses we live, they are all creations that our various groups have agreed upon as facts. I'll admit religion is a long lived sticking point but countless other gods throughout the ages have come and gone and not left any real marker of their supposed existence.

As for the rest, changes in circumstance have easily brought down the most powerful empires and nations sowing chaos in the aftermath. History has shown many times how fortunes can evaporate and that the observance of human rights can be ignored when times get slightly difficult. It was these unseen fictional concepts that allowed larger groups to form bonds of trust which in turn allowed things like the pyramids, grand cathedrals, and now in our times skyscrapers to be built, along with all the other niceties associated with civilization.

I came away from this particular section wondering about the basic concept of the United States. Recent events have shown that a certain segment of our population is fixated on the idea that we are still the same country that was founded back in the late eighteenth century. They chafe at the idea of other cultures, religions, ethnic groups, and many others sharing political and economic power here in America. This not only includes the truly evil spouting Nazi slogans, but those who portray to the world a thin veneer of civility while whining about the death of Western Civilization because northern European men are no long quite the dominate force they once were.

Literally for all the decades during the Cold War we here in the United States reveled in our shared belief that it was our ideas that set us apart from the godless commies and all those other third world, banana republic countries. We told ourselves that democracy, free enterprise, and a society that embraces liberty would be the deciding factors in our eventual victory over the Soviet Union. During those heady days we welcomes millions of helpless refugee souls telling them that if you shared our ideas that you would be welcome.

When the Soviet Union did fall apart like a badly designed piece of cheap furniture, Americans congratulated themselves on their victory. The trouble though was that success went to our heads far too quickly leaving us vulnerable to the age old human affliction of hubris. A changing global economic landscape and simple technological progress eliminated millions of jobs that had once allowed families to plan a prosperous future.

With times becoming more difficult, instead of holding true to our ideas we have fragmented with conservative traditionalists many times seeking refuge in old hates and ethnic pride. Some have even gone as far as abandoning belief in our democratic principles and liberty by openly admiring the authoritarian thug ruling Russia and even the vile evil our grandparents worked and sacrificed so much to defeat during World War Two. My fellow liberals aren't much better, while they are, relatively speaking, the sane adults in government right now the leadership is deeply entrenched and without a real vision.

I have resisted this idea, but I've come to believe part of the Democrat's problem is that they have become so enamored with “identity politics” they can't see the forest for the trees. Instead of fighting for the entire country they fly off on different crusades that fall flat from exhaustion before any real change can be made. They also have a disturbing habit of vicious infighting with many subgroups always ready to chase third party fantasies or even stay home on election day pouting about not getting their way. It is so self defeating that there is a real chance the 2018 midterm elections will be another defeat for them with the Republicans holding possibly both houses of Congress.

I will admit circumstances are working against the Democrats in the United States Senate with them having more seats up for reelection in the coming midterms than their opponents. And with the House of Representatives heavily gerrymandered in Republican favor taking it is a heavy task. This is even with the orange baboon living in the White House showing us that if we survive his delusional time in office we will have to seriously rethink the old idea that anyone can become president.

Getting back to Yuval Noah Harari book, if ideas are the glue that hold large groups together Americans appear to have an almost suicidal desire to shred ours to the point they aren't practical anymore. We regularly elect people to Congress whose only goal is pass legislation from a strictly partisan point of view. Compromise is forgotten in favor of playing to an increasingly disturbed base that views the “other side” as un-American at best.

The idea of Democracy itself is put into question with a presidential candidate able to win the office without obtaining a majority of the votes because of the electoral college. Yes, I know the reason the Founding Fathers included the electoral college in the Constitution but with two recent presidential contests decided by it with one political party on both occasion going hooray while the other fumes is not good for the country. Just imagine if the Democrats had won either the 2000 or 2016 presidential election by it, the deranged minions on the political right would be threatening civil war even more than they are now if Trump is lawfully impeached and removed from office.

If ideas are the foundation of our country it should be clear to anyone with an IQ over 75 that ours is cracking with many working tirelessly to break it apart even more. What are the answers to solve this truly existential crisis? Personally, I believe everyone is going to have to become better informed and get involved, far too many Americans are ignorant slackers who can't see beyond their own narrow interests. But mainly it is up to the Democrats, with them being the sane adults at this moment somehow they are going to have to pull their collective heads out of their asses and regain the vision that lead to nearly all the real progress this country has seen since FDR took the country out of the Depression and through the worst of the Second World War.

Personally, I have my doubts but history is full of surprises.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

A Slow Moving American Disaster

Lets be clear here, long before that walking abortion decided to run for office I always felt Trump was a supremely sleazy individual whose only real accomplishment was being born into a  rich family. That's right, he is not a self made man, he inherited big bucks from his real estate-dealing dad along with a Rolodex filled with contacts. Trump is not a Bill Gates nor Elon Musk who both have created billion dollar businesses just with their tangible intelligence and talents.

A real look at Trump's attempts at business shows a long series of disastrous failures that left him back in the 1990's on the verge of utter collapse. After some strange loans from sources that has never been revealed, Trump became nothing but a celebrity trademark little better that some talent-less rich girl whose claim to fame is just a homemade hardcore sex tape.

Lets not leave out one of the most laughable attempts at business, Trump Steaks, whose CEO, Jerry Levin said, "we literally almost sold no steaks." This delusional pussy grabber is a prime example of what happens when a population forgets substance and becomes infatuated with spectacle along with being willing hostage to their fears and prejudices. 

Trump's one true talent, besides being a bully, is being a masterful con artist who can appeal to the less educated. Trump is the epitome of the big talking, low information voter who has no real concept to the complexities that exists in government. Simply put, a failed real estate developer with no intellectual curiosity beyond dumping his current wife then bedding a younger bimbo can't conceive of the intricacies involved in international relations, healthcare, or diplomacy. When the House finally passed their version of a healthcare bill to repeal "Obamacare" several weeks ago, Trump threw a massive ceremony at the White House that gave the impression to many that he thought an actual law had been passed. Of course anyone not living under a rock while watching Fox News should know both Trump and Senator McConnell's efforts utterly failed in the senate.

Now we have Trump siding with neo-Nazis after the riots on Charlottesville last weekend. Both his lack of response on Sunday, then his forced condemnation of white supremacists that was literally a wink-and-a-nod of approval to them on Monday were surreal for anyone calling themselves the leader of this country. Now today the country was witness to one of Trump's most hate-filled, incoherent rants excusing those racist monsters. When Trump took the oath of office back in January I knew were were in deep trouble, a fact that is proven true every time some information gets out from the Robert Mueller investigation involving the Trump Campaign and Russia. Our country is in grave danger, so severe that I could not have imagined the degree things could be corrupted by that narcissistic thing occupying the White House.