Inauguration Day

9:00 am, January 20, 2017

I sit here in the semi-darkness, wind and rain falling outside.  I have just completed reading a book on Theodore Roosevelt, a man who embodied everything I believed America was about; honesty, integrity, bravery and compassion.  I am suddenly struck with the fact that beginning today Donald Trump will be my county’s leader and I cannot hold back the sense of despair and the rush of tears that follow.

You can’t fix stupid!

“You can’t fix stupid!”  This saying, earlier popularized by comedian, Ron White, seemed to make sense.  Back then I thought it a funny remark, but believed you actually COULD fix stupid and that was through education.  Then we got the 212th to 214th Congresses that culminated with the (sort of)) election of Donald Trump.

Previously I had considered “stupid” to be synonymous with “uneducated.”  Obviously that was a poorly examined and unfounded belief and if I had taken the time to go back through history I could’ve noted that many of the pillars of science, society and politics were, in fact, “uneducated” in the sense they had no formal schooling.  In contrast, the education level in Congress is relatively high where only 5% have less than a Bachelor’s Degree.  So, I must also concede that “smart” and “educated” are two cats of a different color.

Therefore I must fall back on “Common Sense”, being  the “basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge things that is shared by nearly all people and can reasonably be expected of nearly everyone without need for debate.” (Wikipedia)  Like knowing enough not to put a sharp stick in your eye.  The key here is “perceive, understand and judge”, three elements that sadly I find many elected officials and almost all Trump supporters sorely lack.

The problem is that the leadership of our country is moving rapidly towards an educated cadre of people with no common sense and a total unwillingness to even consider facts.  Many of them are under the opinion that global warming is not occurring because “it’s raining,” believing that Anchorage gets more rain than Maui “because it’s colder.”   They trust in opinion over fact and that, at least in their perspective, opinion is always the winner.

Welcome to a new era…as long as it lasts.

Confusion? Here, there and everywhere..

Someone recently said to me, “You were born in a Christian Nation so you need to accept it.”  In fact, I didn’t ask to be born into a “Christian Nation,” it was simply a happenstance that both my parents, neither of them serious church-goers,  were citizens and lived here at the time.  There was really no requirement for me to accept the Christian faith other than having not been asked whether or not I wanted to be circumcised at birth and baptized at the age of 3 months.  Sure, I was sent to Sunday school and required to say my prayers at night but I never recall ever saying a blessing at mealtime and there were a lot of “Goddamns” from my father when the mower quit working or I spilled a glass of milk.  Thankfully genetics gave me an inquisitive mind and an IQ high enough to detect bullshit when I heard it, thus at a fairly early age I quit believing in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and an omnipotent god who watched me like a hawk, knew my every thought, and was ready to punish me for all eternity for my sins.

But what always bothered me was that almost everyone I was exposed to–family friends, classmates, teachers, scout masters—all claimed to be Christians.  So if everybody was a Christian and believed in the life and lessons of Jesus Christ, why were there Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, Evangelicals, Jehovah Witnesses, Christian Scientists, and on ad infinitum.  How come Mother Teresa, Pope Paul, Billy Graham, Jim LaHaye, David Duke, Jim Jones and Slobodan Milošević  all claimed Christianity as their religion yet each came up with vastly different concepts of what being a Christian was?   I mean if Christianity is simply following Christ’s teachings, how can the relatively simple and supposedly historical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John be bent, twisted, altered, interpreted, misinterpreted, re-written, INVENTED, to come to the wildly differing teachings of the churches.   Sure, these four guys didn’t agree with one another either but their differences were minor compared to those of the many Christian sects.

Well, I find most of the real crap the variety of “Christians” spew out to make them “different” comes from “interpretations” of the so-called Old Testament, the Torah.   And while there is ample reason to believe that none of the gospel-writers had any contact with Jesus or even lived during his purported ministry, it’s sure a lot more likely to believe them than the random collection of folk tales regarding God’s dictates to Job, Moses, Abraham, etc., etc., that are littered with magic, sorcery, punishment and death…lots of death. (A burning bush????  Give me a break!)

But… let’s say I’ve decided I should become a Christian…a true American.  I would certainly need to know just what being a Christian entails and what rules I would have to follow.  Who can provide me with valid information?  Which one of the aforementioned individuals or sects should I go to me the REAL honest-to-goodness true and no bullshit facts on the rules of being a Christian?   Should I go to the Catholic Church and confide in Father Gilbert Gauthe ?  (Oh, no…he’s incarcerated for molesting young boys).  Well, then I’ll go a step higher to Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, Archbishop of Boston (No good.  He resigned for covering up child molestations by priests).  Okay, how about Reverend Jim Jones?   (Oops, he’s dead…drank poison Kool-Aid).  Well, then maybe it should be Jim and Tammy Bakker (Ahh, they got caught scamming their parishioners and imprisoned.  Tammy’s dead but Jim now has another ministry).    ‎Timothy McVeigh ?  (No…executed for blowing up 168 people including small children).  Hey, I can go talk to Ted Haggard!  Isn’t he president of the National Association of Evangelicals? (No, not now…he had to quit because he consorted with male prostitutes and got high on crystal meth).  Of course Joseph Smith, Martin Luther and Mary Baker Eddy are all in their graves and L. Ron Hubbard of Scientology won’t talk unless I bring lots of money with me.  But someone MUST have the straight skinny…I just don’t know who?  I mean these people all follow the same Jesus Christ, don’t they?

Therefore I will remain complacent in my having no factual knowledge of where or how we came to be; in observing nature and its unarguable rules; and if, how and when the universe began or if it was just always here.  I sleep better that way.

Goodbye, America the Beautiful!

For all of my adult life I felt confident that if asked to present a list of values that make America great it would be a no-brainer.  It would have begun with honesty and truthfulness.  Close behind would have been integrity, compassion, humility and support of human rights, both here and abroad.    Of course of necessity it would have included strength and willingness to stand up to those who actively opposed our way of life or viciously subjected others to tyranny.   And finally, that the earth is a rapidly changing planet, socially, economically, technologically and environmentally and its protection in the face of human activity is essential.

That all went down the drain for me on November 8th when almost half America’s residents (those who were not too busy to vote for our future) actively voted in deference to all those qualities.  Instead they voted for a man who they accepted…lauded… to be an adept liar; who little cared of anything or anyone except growth of personal wealth; who disregarded science and fact as bothersome, particularly if it interfered with his selfish objectives; who bragged he had nothing to be forgiven for; and who claimed—and BELIEVED—he was the most intelligent being on this planet.

But that’s not the most disturbing aspect of this man’s character.  It is his anger at those who opposed him that has manifested itself in his delight in “rubbing our noses in it” by selecting the most disreputable and ill-informed members to his cabinet; those that most oppose the long traditions, laws and human rights advances of our country.   And his supporters cheer gleefully (as they do when an undetected illegal facemask grab leads to a victory for their team).  They have no ability to contemplate the irreversible effects on them as well as their country as a whole…and the world.

Their presidential choice has selected cabinet members and energy advisers who dispute and ignore the data of 97 percent of the world’s scientists regarding carbon emission-caused global warming that is not only threatening other countries but ours as well.   And others who believe our long standing tradition of public parks, forests and lands should be handed over to private entities for their “management” (which may well include foreign interests).

He has chosen a cadre of military cabinet members and advisors so as to reverse America’s long-standing tradition that civilians, not the military, control the actions of our armed forces and he brags of increasing our military might to further our economic goals.

He has selected America’s chief international representatives who in claiming to “get along” with the many aggressive dictators in other countries have shown to be eager to capitulate America’s long-standing values to them for economic benefit.

Are you scared yet?  If you’re reading this you’re likely already scared, although some of you still want to believe this is just a blip and things will all get back to normalcy in 4 years?  Unfortunately it is the nearly 50% of our voting population who doesn’t…won’t… read this…believe this; those who believe immediate and personal gratification is of a higher desire than long-term stability and world health; who would rather read Guns and Ammo, watch an NFL game, or drive their 4WD up an untrammeled hillside than to ring a bell for the Salvation Army, watch PBS, or read Time magazine.   Such is the recipe for a societal collapse and eventual extinction.

A Footnote to Genesis

Genesis 2(7 1 ) But on the eighth day, God said, “Hmmmm, I just might just need to create a failsafe in case the brain I created in humanity misfires. First, though, I’ll develop science to help humanity to understand their environment and give them the opportunity to create ways to make it better. But if that fails I’ll just flood the earth and drown the bastards. However, I’ll let a couple of them survive just to save the animals but I fear the less-intelligent, greedy ones could proliferate and occupy all the earth’s lands. Thus, to ensure a backup plan, I’ve created great pools of oil beneath the earth’s surface. Some of this will bubble up and, in time, men will discover it. They’ll find out it burns well, and eventually become slaves to it. They’ll wallow in it; sell and trade it; get drunk on it; and praise it. But, they’ll eventually discover by indiscriminately burning it they’ve eliminated the other resources that their kind and other life forms on earth require for life. It is good!”

A Snail’s Tale

Who likes seafood?   Salmon, halibut, shrimp, crab, etc.   All tasty; all from our coastal waters.   Well, take heed:

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has found that over 50 percent of the small snails they studied off our west coast showed signs of severe shell damage. Their data indicates that corrosive water off the West Coast, where it is most acidic due to high concentrations of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels, is dissolving the shells of the snail that is a key species in the coastal food chain. Salmon, herring, and other species rely on a snail-rich diet.

The scientists say the problem is going to only get worse and predict that by 2050, about 70 percent of West Coast snails could have severely damaged shells affecting their viability. The only clear fix would be to reduce carbon emissions.

Yet, the forthcoming Trump Administration claims it will “make America energy independent” by encouraging fossil fuel production and opening onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands and waters to producers. They plan to “streamline” the permitting process for all energy projects; rescind the coal mining lease moratorium; eliminate the “Waters of the US” rule; but assure us it will have “no measurable effect on Earth’s climate.”

In addition they claim to be “firmly committed to conserving our wonderful natural resources and beautiful natural habitats” and that “America’s environmental agenda will be guided by true specialists in conservation, not those with radical political agendas.” And the Tooth Fairy is alive and well.

If the snail goes, the food chain collapses. There is no “over-the-hill” solution. So, I suggest you begin to wean yourself off seafood ASAP if you believe you’ll outlive the collapse of the marine food web.

Shall we keep pretending?

Hey, let’s all go back to our childhoods and pretend!  Let’s pretend we’re home in our safe back yards, have a bunch of cardboard boxes hooked together and we’re playing house; playing dolls; playing store.  Or, we erected a blanket as a tent and we’re in the wilderness of the Amazon…explorers!  And when we tire of it or it gets too complicated we move to the hop-scotch grid; play tag; kick-the-can or just sit and read nursery rhymes.  Dinner time…then sleep…and tomorrow things were back as the same as before and life is good.

Those were the days…huh?  Safe…secure!  Well, I’m sorry to tell you, for many of us — for anyone with half a brain — pretending is over.  No one, even those of less-than average intelligence, cannot admit our country didn’t take an abrupt (backward) change in a single evening this November.  Not that the seeds of change weren’t always lurking in the background but for many of us, our pretend world didn’t want us to believe they were and we simply ignored them.  But those who kept them safe and viable just smiled…nodded…and waited.  They were just waiting for the right fertilizer to bring the seeds back to life.  Happily for them a potent brand of fertilizer emerged, an odor-free pile of dung called Make America Great Again!

Before November many of us pretended that the Civil Rights Act had done away with racial bias; we pretended that there was no viable issue regarding establishment of a National religion; we pretended that truth, honesty and respect were the foundations of our American society.   We pretended that people with guns really didn’t kill people but people with books did.  Many of us men pretended that this country understood there were actually women who were smarter than some men and deserved to be compensated (even elected) both socially and economically for it.  We pretended that our marriages weren’t going to fall apart if same sex marriage was legalized and that there might be some logic in planning for parenthood.

We really didn’t want to notice that our pretend world was beginning to crumble sometime when more and more Americans were listening to Rush Limbaugh, Jerry Falwell and Sean Hannity and it escalated when so many accepted FOX News a valid (and honest?) news media.  In 2008 we were so elated that we never considered that racial hate would blossom after the election with its undertone that America was never meant to have an African American President (although the Constitution missed that issue).  Then, in 2016 we learned that women should only be moms, homemakers and sex objects, the important stuff (wars and politics) relegated specifically to the men.  That funny-looking goof-ball Michael Moore kept warning us but we just ignored him…he dressed funny.   Yep, back to the good ol’ days.

Well, folks, the pretending is over for more than half of us.  Television and the internet (Facebook and Twitter) sure screwed that up as did all the political pundits and pollsters.  But for the other half who are now in charge you get to continue your pretending.  You get to watch Fox News and unfriend those on Facebook who don’t want to keep on with your brand of crap.  Better yet, you have been given a smorgasbord of reasons to continue to pretend.  There’s really no drought in California; there’s no floods and hurricanes in the Carolinas; no tornados in Ohio; that smoking doesn’t harm you and that the goal of the LGTB community is to convert everyone to their way of life.

You can continue to listen to those who claim we really never landed on the moon and that Sandy Hook was a liberal hoax.  You can keep telling yourselves that our economy crashed AFTER Obama was elected and hasn’t recovered a smidgen since.  Or, that illegal immigrants have taken all the really good jobs that our American citizens are just desperate for, leaving for them only the part-time positions at McDonald’s and Burger King; and that these non-Americans are responsible for nearly all the crime while contributing nothing to our society.  You can pretend that the coral reefs are indestructible; that polar bears are increasing exponentially; that electric cars are not as cool as 4WD Dodge Rams; and that there are more forests and less pollution than there was fifty years ago.  And, Golly Gee…let’s pretend that it wasn’t that a virus evolved into a new deadly strain, it was that God sent the Zika Virus to Brazil to punish the Americans for legalizing gay marriage.

But primarily, you can pretend that it’s a scientifically proven fact that the white race is superior mentally and physically (Hey, LeBron James, take that!) and, as Richard Spencer told his followers, “America was until this past generation a white country designed for ourselves and our posterity.  It is our creation, it is our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”  And, as long as you’re pretending, pretend that God will fix everything and that when something bad happens pretend it’s really that God is punishing someone (or a community) for being nice to LGBTs, or the children of illegal immigrants, or by praying to the “wrong” god.

To all of you Republican morons who want to continue with your imbecilic and self-serving pretending, I wish you a happy and well-deserved world collapse!

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)