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A Most Dishonorable Result

We get the government we deserve

Such quotes give scant comfort in an era when integrity means so little

During the first State of the Union Address given by President Barak Obama, when he stated that health care reform would not cover illegal immigrants, Joe Wilson, Republican Representative from South Carolina, shouted from his seat, “You lie!”

The President stopped his speech long enough to reply, “That’s not true.” But too few Americans could tell the difference between the two statements.

Social media was filled with commentary about the incident, with many saying things like “What’s the big deal? Democrats have booed Republican presidents during their addresses too.”

I knew then that if relatively literate, educated Americans do not understand how partisan booing of a President’s policies differed from a serving member of Congress declaring before the nation and the world that the President of the United States is a dishonest and dishonorable man, we were in serious trouble.

But I completely underestimated just how bad it has become.

Now, seven year later, the minority of Americans who actually vote have elected someone to the Presidency who has repeatedly proven, in absolutely verifiable ways, that he is serially dishonest and egregiously dishonorable, and they voted for him anyway.

Like so many, I failed to heed the dire warnings of Carl Sagan at the end of the last century, as he predicted how the American people might sign away their very liberty, if education in this country so deteriorated that voters were unable to distinguish fear mongering from inconvenient truths, and propaganda from reasonable assertion and argument supported by empirical evidence and verifiable fact.

But even such a brilliant wise man as Dr. Sagan could not have envisioned an American electorate unable to see the difference between the baseless character-smearing of the expert career bureaucrat proven to be the most truthful Presidential candidate in this past election cycle, and the overwhelming documentary evidence proving that the rank amateur who won the Presidency is a truly dishonest and dishonorable man unfit to serve on even a PTA board.

Like many a successful shyster, he convinced them to vote against someone else. I realize that a lot of these voters were simply unaware of what they were actually voting for.

Facts Forgotten

The Trump campaign won in part by using the technique where you accuse someone of something terrible, which cannot be disproved, and then say it louder and louder and over and over until the masses believe it must be true.

Trump’s increasing declaration that no one has ever been more corrupt than Hillary Clinton was nothing more than an outrageous insult to hurl at an opponent. It can’t even be considered an opinion, as it has no basis in fact, and was put forth and repeated without a shred of evidence presented to back up his claims.

This technique is known as “the Big Lie” and it has worked very well for many people like Trump, since Adolf Hitler published the concept in Mein Kampf in 1925.

That is not to say Trump is a Nazi. He isn’t.

Fascism doesn’t mean “Nazis.” It means “the merger between the corporation and the state.”

That is the definition of Fascism according to Giovanni Gentile, the man who invented it.

And that is exactly what the American people voted for; even if most of them didn’t even know it, including Donald Trump.

All they know is they voted for the tough-talking outsider who is going to shake up Washington – by voting into power the very corruption they thought they were voting against.

They just handed the White House and Congress to the Oil Companies whose profits are soaring but pay no taxes, the Insurance Companies that will deny them healthcare or skyrocket their premiums once the ACA is repealed, the Pharmaceutical Companies who will continue to charge them many times more for drugs than what people pay in other countries, and the shadowy firms who make most of the weapons of mass destruction in the world and grow fat by eating up more than half of every tax dollar that should be going to repair our schools, bridges, roads, and affordable healthcare in the only industrialized nation that doesn’t have it.

In case you think such statements are soft on “national defense,” you may have not noticed that the USA’s military is larger and more powerful than THE ENTIRE REST OF THE WORLD COMBINED.

A Safe Place

At 3:30 AM, after drinking more scotch than at any time my life, I posted on social media my sincere disappointment with the results of the most important election in my lifetime, and my disgust for those who would knowingly vote for Institutionalized Intolerance, Bigotry, and Brutality, which Donald Trump embraces and encouraged.

I received a private message in response to my election night reaction, asking “Do you need a blankie and a safe place?”

My impromptu reply included the following:

Oh my.

You could not be more wrong.

I have spent far too many years in a very safe place on an island off the coast of America, in the only cosmopolitan city on the continent.

From here I could feel sorry for working class women in places like Texas, who could not access safe and affordable healthcare, or even a textbook on history or science that presented the world to young minds as it really is, rather than sustaining the precious but false beliefs of those empowered to ban books and even ideas.

But my own life was relatively untouched by such things, and I grew complacent and comfortable and on the sideline far too long.

While I could be tempted to emigrate from America to the civilized world – a place that is, around the globe, horrified at what happened here on the 8th of November – that would be deserting my homeland on the brink of its worst crisis since the Civil War.

Only, this time, the winning forces belong to the bigotry-based aristocracy that grow ever richer on the masses of ignorant laborers, because they vote against their own better interests, if they vote at all.

A little over a decade ago, representatives from around the world, who really know what they are talking about, took part in a poll that named North Korea as the worst threat to world peace and global stability.

The United States of America came in second.

The Obama Administration went a long way toward repairing the severe damage to our credibility brought about by the last Republican administration, as well as overseeing an historic and remarkable domestic economic recovery from the calamity that happened during the Bush Administration, and all despite disgraceful obstructionism on the part of a hostile Congress, the like of which having never before existed in U.S. history.

So yeah, I am distraught to the point of despair that the United States of America is now going to backslide from all of that progress and set the world back decades if not a century, when very real threats like Climate Change cannot wait, rather than leading the world into a brighter future, as it once did.

As a white Anglo-Saxon male with health insurance, most any election result hardly touches my own life.

Yet I grieve for my fellow Americans who will suffer mightily as a result of this election. And that includes those who brought it upon themselves.

Well, some of them anyway.

But I grieve most for those in this once great nation that was built upon principals of enlightenment and justice for all, whose civil rights and human rights are threatened, denied, or abused, now that the Ugly Americanism of ignorance, intolerance, bigotry, brutality, and persecution have been given a green light and the reigns of power, and in many cases will almost certainly be legislated into law.

Tolerance Has Its Limits

I have never been particularly political, except in cases of notable social injustice. My life has been built upon tolerance, even for the most intolerant, who I tended to pity if not as much as their victims, except in cases of overt bigotry. But no longer.

With very few exceptions for the genuinely ignorant or those of misguided religious principals, I simply will never forgive anyone who voted for Donald Trump in knowing opposition to raising the minimum wage so families with two full-time working parents do not live in poverty, protecting Social Security and Medicare, science education standards based on actual science rather than denial or mythology, true environmental protection, truly equal civil rights and protection under the law for all Americans including equal pay for equal work and national healthcare, stopping criminals from buying firearms without a waiting period in some states to use for crimes in other states, and forcing corporations and the extremely wealthy to pay taxes equal to their income.

Those are all things you voted against if you voted for Trump.

And for those who voted thus out of concern only for their own personal greed at the expense of their fellow citizens, just so they can pay fewer taxes in a country with one of the lowest tax rates in the industrialized world, I have lost any respect I might have held for you as a human being – permanently.

 

February 25, while it lasts

There are banshees fighting yeti outside my bedroom window, as the winds whip around the corners of the 111 year old apartment building I call home, and the driving rains lash against the windows.
 
On the one hand, I am glad the banshees are winning, as this would be one serious mountain of snow, should the temperature drop below freezing.
 
But it is actually 56F on the western tip of Long Island at Midnight – IN FEBRUARY.
 
This is the second time in less than a month that we had such a storm. The last one came less than a week after a blizzard.
 
So I am a bit concerned for the planet that, you know, is our only home in the vast emptiness of what could possibly be a lifeless universe.
 
And even if it isn’t lifeless, it does not do you and me a bit of good. We cannot exactly travel to anywhere else.
 
We cannot even send one human being to the nearest desert planet bombarded by radiation that would fry Earthborn life in hours, and has no breathable air.
 
We certainly cannot send them TRILLIONS of miles, across the generations of human-life-years it would take to get anyone to where it, maybe in a very, very, very, very slight chance, might support human life, with technology we have not developed yet because the wealthiest societies on the planet throw away almost all of their Gross National Product on barbaric machinery of War, when it could have been used to reach out for the stars, or at least figure out how to keep Miami, London, Hong Kong, and New York City from becoming the under-the-sea relics they will almost certainly be before this year’s college graduates enter their retirement homes. That is, unless some things seriously change.
 
But so long as people consider vapid morons like Donald Trump as potential leaders of the Free World, well, we are doomed.
 
It really is that simple.
 
So you might as well stock up on your favorite fatty foods and delicious dainties and dig in. Because the unprecedented change in the planet’s climate is real, regardless of what wishful thinkers and blind deniers say.
 
And no, the fact that what we now take for granted as the global civilization may end up in a heap in no way means some weirdly-Caucasian Jesus is “coming back” from somewhere to save you believers from the pain of death before your natural time runs out. That is not a spot to put all your chips. Centuries of deluded folk have been there and done that, each of them sure that the end is nigh.
 
This in no way means there is no God or that Jesus isn’t all some folks say he was or is. It just means the tidy package trotted out every generation or so to rail against the changes that just cannot possibly mean anything but the impending end of the world, but don’t, is complete hooey.
 
Humans will adapt, and keep adapting long after you and I are not even remembered by name by any breathing entity.
 
But that does not mean humans will make it all that far.
 
Lizards and other things that suck in their food with their tongues while remaining low to the ground with four limbs dedicated to locomotion have a much better chance than we do.
 
And that is why I am going to make sure there aren’t any lights on in the apartment that do not need to be on, and that all the water taps aren’t leaking any drops of precious fluid.
 
And then I will have another drink, since it is my birthday.
 
And someday, no living thing on this planet will know that simple fleeting fact, let alone know the fact that this oddly truncated list of days once called February by less than a majority of the humans who lived on the itsy bitsy thin crust of a molten planet that happened to be in just the right orbit around its mid-size star to allow the stability necessary for advanced life forms like the paramecium to evolve, not to mention the big sex-obsessed apes with guns we call human beings, just by coincidence housed the 24-hour period of time wherein one of the Beatles was born.
 
And that it happened on the same day (a considerable number of years later) as the birth of the composer of this address.
 
And as that cold, unfeeling universe shrugs with a collective, “So what? Big deal,” I bow to those who have read this far and thank you. I know that I was alive when some great stuff happened, and some pretty great people made it happen. And I am happy that you are alive this very moment and may, in some small way, wish me happy birthday. You might as well, what the hell difference will it make in the long run?
 
Not much, really. But it will help another clump of animated carbohydrates, water, and empty space feel a bit less like, well, a clump of carbohydrates, water, and empty space – all of which are becoming endangered commodities, if you haven’t noticed.

Us & Them – America’s cultural divide explored – Review

Investigative commentator Trey Kay explores controversial issues in Us & Them.

A new series on iTunes, Us & Them podcasts delve into America’s cultural divide to find common ground that may help bridge the gaps perceived by Americans along both sides of even the most impassioned ideological argument.

Also available at National Public Radio

A Peabody Award winning radio journalist, Trey Kay has many years of experience interviewing people of all walks of life for various programs on NPR and New York Public Radio. For his own podcasts produced for West Virginia Public Radio, he has focused his keen ear upon the opinions and experiences of those whose core beliefs have been affected by encounters with other people different from themselves.

In some cases they began in a hostile stance against members of their own communities, because of contrary points of view regarding issues such as gay marriage and progressive trends in public school curriculums and textbooks. But these same individuals came to be more tolerant and even friendly with others they first encountered as dogmatic enemies, once they came to know them as people.

“…Trey Kay’s pleasant manner and affable speaking voice has a calming effect, but his concern for his topic comes through clearly, as does his enthusiastic curiosity about the lives and outlook of other people, so that his monologs and interviews never acquire that typical NPR sedated talking head tone. And never does he seem to ask a question and be moving on the next while his recorder takes in their response. He listens and reacts, remaining very much in the moment, which is engaging for his audience, and those he is questioning….”

Read the Full Review

April Fools!

I didn’t really mean that. Yes, I did. Not really. Yes. It is April Fools, but these stories actually true.

Even if they concern some serious fools in April.

The BBC Website has collected a series of news items that either seem too foolish to be true including:

A story in the Daily Mail tells us that the Swedish Parliament have backed a ban on unlicensed dancing in public or “illegally moving your feet to music”. Bar, restaurant and nightclub owners without permits can be fined if customers “dance spontaneously and without permission” as a result of a vote in the nation’s parliament. Police say dancing can cause fighting and disorder.

While the daily mirror reports that Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes would like to create a version of the period drama set in the decade of punk rock, flares and disco. It would feature the show’s aristocratic characters “struggling in the 1970s”, Fellowes said. He added that he had several spin-off ideas “up his sleeve”.

You find links to these and several other too odd to be true stories at http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32144005

America’s Shameful Lack of Maternity Leave

So much for Family Values, here in the old U.S.A, Unbridled Selfishness of America, where Maternity Leave is denied too many

Monday Map

Maternity Leave Map small

Greed Costs Us All

Here, in richest land the world has ever known, full of selfish people who rail against the government regulation responsible for decent wages and humane working conditions, and sold the baloney that having a social contract where everyone insures all our neighbors have proper healthcare, as in civilized nations, is somehow a bad thing, we have an appalling rank among the peoples of the world in child mortality, childbirth-related fatalities, and of course, providing proper paid leave for parents when their newborns need them most.

As per the excellent website geocurrents.info, we could learn a lot from the Finns.

“The United States ranks merely 30th in the Mothers’ Index, bested by such countries as France (16th) and Italy (17th), Canada (22nd) and United Kingdom (23rd), Israel (25th) and Belarus (26th). The relatively low ranking of the U.S. is based on several factors. One of the key indicators used to calculate the index is lifetime risk of maternal mortality. The maternal mortality in the United States is the highest of any industrialized nation: a woman in the U.S. is more than 10 times as likely as a woman in Italy or Ireland to die from pregnancy-related causes. The United States has the least generous maternity leave policy of any wealthy nation, both in terms of duration and percent of wages paid (except Australia, see the map on the left). Similarly, the U.S. does not do as well as most other developed countries with regard to child mortality. The U.S. under-5 mortality rate is on par with the figure of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Forty-one countries performed better than the U.S. on this indicator. A child in the U.S. is three times more likely to die before reaching age 5 than a child in Iceland, and twice as likely as a child in Denmark. Only slightly more than half of children in the United States are enrolled in preschool—making it the fifth lowest country in the developed world on this indicator. The United States also lags behind in regard to the political status of women: only 18% of its congressional seats are held by women, compared to 45% in Sweden and 40% in Iceland. Whether legislative representation accurately reflects the position of women in society is dubious, however, in light of such figures as 45% in Cuba, 39% in Mozambique, 31% in Guyana, 26% in El Salvador or Ethiopia, or 25% in Iraq.”

Read their full article