#7, above, is Colin Kaepernick of the San Francisco 49ers during the playing of the National Anthem prior to its exhibition game vs the San Diego Chargers on Sept. 1, 2012.

Note he is kneeling and does not have his hand over his heart as all the civilians around him seem to be doing. This was also his appearance during the National Anthem at the three previous exhibition games on August 26, August 20, and Augiust 14. No complaints were registered until after the August 26 game.

But, oh, how those complaints have come in.

Kaepernick, in one interview, explained his rationale

I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color… To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder

One objection to Kaepernick took this form:

Martin Halloran, the San Francisco Police Officers Association president, sent a letter Monday to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and 49ers CEO Jed York denouncing Kaepernick’s “ill-advised” statements and a “naivete” and “total lack of sensitivity” toward police, along with an “incredible lack of knowledge” about officer-involved shootings.

The police union invited Kaepernick or anyone else from the league to visit the San Francisco police academy to build communication and understanding about the profession.

“I only wish Mr. Kaepernick could see the emotional and psychological challenges that our officers face following a fatal encounter,” Halloran wrote. “Some are so affected they never return to the streets. In short, Mr. Kaepernick has embarrassed himself, the 49er organization, and the NFL based on a false narrative and misinformation that lacks any factual basis.”

There are several problems with that narrative, not the least of which is that Kaepernick did not reference the San Francisco Police for misbehavior, but he well could have. The S.F.P.D. has been involved in  95 officer involved shootings in the past 15 years with 40 deaths. 18 of those shot had only knives on them and 11 were not armed at all. And since there were multiple officers with more than one shooting I’d say the emotional trauma of shooting a civilian must not be that great since there are repeat offenders and other officers do not seem to learn from the mistakes of their brethren. So spare me the sob story.

Too, Kaepernick is not the one embarrassing himself, nor should he be embarrassed but Halloran should be utterly ashamed of himself. As to “a false narrative and misinformation that lacks any factual basis.” Halloran must be playing see no evil and hear no evil all by his lonesome but he forgot the speak no evil part—because his accusation that Kaepernick operates from a false narrative and nonfactual information is so obviously itself a lie.

But one phenomenon is quite apparent in the criticism. The quarterback is accused of demeaning America and denying its greatness. But so so many of the people voicing that criticism are preparing to vote for a large incandescent yam whose very campaign slogan tells Americans their country is not great.

As an interesting aside and a corollary to the Kaepernick story, read this tale by a reporter who once protested in favor of the National Anthem by sitting down for it. Same action, different rationale.

Another curious twist is that part of  Kaepernick’s position is in total alliance with BlackLivesMatter. Protests and demonstrations have come to many cities across the country. Most have been extraordinarily peaceful but on the uncommon occasions with some violence the cry has been heard, “Hey, you black folks! You can protest better by sitting down and shutting up” So a black man decides to protest by sitting down and shutting up and that still is not good enough.

Colin Kaepernick is in excellent company.

Rosa Parks stood up against segregated buses while sitting down and her action has been immortalized as a linchpin of the Civil Rights Movement.

Ezell Blair, Jr. Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil, and David Richmond stood up against discrimination in public accommodations by sitting down on four stools at a Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth’s lunch counter.

In 1776 fifty-six men stood up against the tyranny of King Goerge III by sitting down to debate and adopt the Declaration Of Independence.

Will Kaepernick’s protest eventually carry the same import? Probably not but it is very much in the spirit of the aforesaid protests.

Colin, in my apartment I have a very comfy La-Z-Boy recliner. Stop over to watch some games, any games, and feel free to fully enjoy the recliner during the National Anthem. You’ll hear not one peep out of me if you fail to stand.



Black Lives Matter

Such has become the rallying cry for those protesting police violence against unarmed civilians, very often young black men. And the slogan and the movement represent the demand—not that black lives are to matter more than other lives—but that black lives be recognized as mattering at all. During the greatest part of the history of first the colonies and then the United States, it is obvious black lives didn’t matter one iota.

But some folks completely miss the point of Black Lives Matter. And often this is deliberate. The racist whites counter that BLM is racist itself. People who refuse to acknowledge that there are real bad cops out there who may not be racist but who operate from the standpoint that more force is always better and think so poorly of the people they are supposed to be serving that they disgrace the badge in interactions with the public on a regular basis.

Then there are the deadheads who allege BLM is anti-cop and simply masks the call to wantonly kill cops, as was done in Dallas last week with five policemen dying.

And finally, there is a widespread, though utterly mistaken, belief that Black Lives Matter is short for Black Lives Matter More Than Other Lives. So to counter that ridiculous reading of the cause they came up with the All Lives Matter slogan.

And an amazing variety of people have bought into that slogan, ranging from blacks themselves to white liberals who allow that yes, we must consider and support all life, to mainly white people who don’t give a shit about black lives and, while using this slogan as cover for a pretext of caring for everyone, really only believe that certain lives matter. And those lives that matter are the ones they deem worthy.

Receiving Welfare or Food Stamps? Your life doesn’t matter. Proof? Cuts to Welfare and Food Stamps that hurt people who need the help.

Children with inadequate diets who get at least some valuable nourishment in their schools? Their lives do not matter. Proof? Cutting meal programs in schools or changing the rules so that fewer needy children will have access to food assistance.

People with health insurance due to passage of the Affordable Care Act? Their lives do not matter. Proof? Over sixty efforts in Congress to repeal the ACA and the pledge of every major Republican Presidential candidate to replace the law with something nebulous but which will almost certainly result in fewer people wth health care insurance.

Victims of terroristic violence? Their lives do not matter. I’ll modify the “their lives do not matter” statement to “only some lives matter of people who are victims of terroristic violence”. Proof? The only outrage against terroristic violence from many in the United States comes when it is domestic—as in San Bernadino or Orlando and can be tied, however tenuously, to Islamic radicals. Or if it is terroristic violence against a European nation such as France or Belgium where one would presume the victims are white Christians or at least the majority are.

Remember when the Brussels attacks occurred? President Obama was in Cuba for an historic visit for a ball game as relations between the two nations are being normalized and followed that with a visit to Argentina where he and Mrs. Obama danced the tango at a state dinner. Right wing media was outraged.

But the following link wil provide a list of terror incidents to date in 2016 around the world, just about every day, and many many with multiple victims numbering at least double figures and many that far exceed the death toll in Brussels, but there was nobody keeping track of where Obama was because those victims had darker skin and were murdered in foreign countries that most Americans couldn’t even find on a map or globe (not that they’d do much better locating Belgium). Why? Because those lives did NOT matter so who gave a damn?,_2016

Or even back in the good old USA if its some white dude shoots up a store or church or theater or school, the right cares more about any calls to institute some controls on assault weapons than is does for the lives lost.

No, the slogan All Lives Matter is a subterfuge so that the lives that matter are only the ones deemed worthy, mostly by the right wing. I bid you beware if you are not one of their favorites. Depending upon your own personal peculiarties, at a critical point you might find that, contrary to the slogan, your life don’t mean shit.




Have you ever received an email or read a Facebook meme that begins with the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and continues on about how schoolchldren used to recite this every day–often accompanied by a picture of some random kids doing exactly that—and then lament that we’re not allowed to perform that little exercise these days?

I have seen plenty of both, mostly of the Facebook meme variety these days. My friends have learned to stop forwarding chain emails for the most part. Too many were nonsense, lies, or both, which I did not hesitate to call to their attention. Then again, maybe they haven’t stopped circulating chain emails, they’ve stopped being my friend.

Gotta account for all possibilities I suppose.

The notion expressed in such emails and memes is ridiculous. There have been challenges to the recitation of the pledge, but none has resulted in any ban on its use in schools, shopping malls, or AA meetings. The Pledge and its use have a fraught history. A summary can be found here:

Most of the recent challenges are in regards to the words “Under God” which were inserted into the Pledge in the 1950’s. Is this an “establishment of religion” as prohibited by the First Amendment? The Courts have held it is a pledge of patriotism, not religion.

So be it.

But I believe there is a much more fundamental problem with the Pledge of Allegiance. Its object is a piece of cloth, arbitrarily selected to be a symbol of the United States of America. The flag has no intrinsic value, other than the $4.99 it may cost at Walmart. It consists of 50 stars, one for each state, and 13 stripes, one for each of the original colonies. Pledging allegiance to a piece of cloth accomplishes exactly what? It is meaningless. Would we pledge to a flag if all it contained were the numbers 50 and 13, representing the corresponding numbers of states and colonies on our current flag?

The flag is a symbol. Symbols are fine. Symbols are reminders, Symbols may be inspirational. They have been used throughout hstory in a plethora of contexts. Sports team mascots are symbols. The Pirate Parrot is a playful symbol of my favorite baseball team, but the mascot cannot exist without the team, though the team certainly can exist, and existed for its first 91 years, without the Parrot.

Same with the American flag. Its creation, in various forms, was used to rally the troops fighting the British during our Revolution and has evolved since then.But which came first, America or its flag? And if the flag were no longer used, does that mean the nation would become extinct?

Thus a Pledge to an arbitrary, ephemeral creation ultimately means nothing concerning one’s loyalty to one’s country and one’s fellow citizens (not always equivalent).

Our citizens can be quite diligent and meticulous about reciting the Pledge of Allegiance in school, at public meetings or events, or, for instance, in private organizations such as the Jaycees. During my membership in that group all of our meetings began with the Pledge. But does reciting the Pledge indicate you have the best interests of the nation and your fellow citizens at heart? Not in any way, shape, or form.

In the link above about litigation, one mention is given to Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder signing legislation requiring state schools to recite the Pledge. But Snyder himself is under fire for the lead poisoning of the children of the city of Flint. He may have pledged allegiance to a piece of cloth but his electoral and statutory duties to his own constituents, part of the United States of America, were ignored. Other examples of two-facedness abound.

For that reason, I am proposing a new Pledge of Allegiance, one which expresses the ideals we claim America represents and it is not a pledge to a piece of cloth.

I pledge allegiance to the people of the United States of America, and to the nation’s peaceful place in the world, and to the goal of making not only America but the rest of the world a fit place for all human beings, not under any god since humans recognize many gods or none at all, but with the guidance of moral righteousness to treat each other decently and equally, and to work towards  truly establishing liberty and justice for all.

One needs no piece of cloth to view when we give this pledge. We can, instead, look each other in the eye. Isn’t that what we are taught to do to honestly communicate with each other?




Earlier today I blew up on Facebook. I called friends who generally share my views stupid and those who don’t stupider. Much of my heartfelt enmity is the result of the rise of Drumpf.

Why do I refer to him as Drumpf? You can thank John Oliver for that.

Immediately after my viewing of this episode I downloaded the Chrome extension that converts Drumpf to Drumpf (I have found I can’t even type the actual name here without it undergoing the transformation) on stories in my browser. It is one small consolation to see this at work in the headlines and stories I see on Slate, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, and elsewhere, even on sites that lean farther right.

I deplore the lowlghts from all the 2016 campaigns. Our Presidential  electoral process is in the gutter, dragged there by Drumpf who has been joyfully joined there by Marco Rubio  who questions the size of Drumpf’s penis; by Ted Cruz simply being Ted Cruz; by Jeb Bush forced to defend charges of being a mommy’s boy; by Ben Carson, who fell in while sleep walking; by John Kasich, who destroyed any possible claims of being a moderate by defunding Planned Parenthood; and by the millions of presumably sentient human beings who listen to all the crazy talk about immigrants and an out of control government who couldn’t pass a U.S. citizenship/civics test if it were an open book exam and the original Declaration of  Independence and Constitution were splayed in front of them.

Holding them hostage there are David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremicist groups armed to the teeth courtesy of the National Rifle Association, crazed Evangelicals who believe Drumpf somehow possesses better Christian bona fides than the Pope when The Donald is probably more likely to provide a quote from a Smokey Stover comic book than from II Corinthians when asked about his favorite Bible passage.

Let us not forget the Secret Srvice which somehow has improved its training to the point that a reporter who wanders 10 inches outside the designated journalist area at a Drumpf rally is strong armed when only a few months ago intruders inside the White House grounds stole President Obama‘s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe before being hustled to the requisite nearby mental hospital for observation.

Oh I’m not forgetting the Democrats. Their participation is in somewhat shallower waters near the curb cutouts that allow wheelchair crossing rather than in the middle of the block, but where the H2O is equally putrid. This time it is not so much the candidates themselves…Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton …hurling invectives at each other so much as it is the so-called BernieBros who have been accused of ugly misogynistic characterizations of the other camp while feminist icons Like Gloria Steinem, though using politer language, are equally sexist in how they portray young female Sanders enthusiasts.

And from these nominal Progressives come the enabling threats to withold their vote from the nominee should he or she not be the one they love to death at this moment. Enabling threats because by doing so they will practically guarantee that our next President will have a bulbous red nose, bizarre multi-colored makeup, a fright wig,  and will be making nonsense noises as he struts around the circus ring. Of course all but Drumpf will need to be fitted for this outfit.

Accompanying this flotsam down the gutter where it will eventually empty into the stream that will make the water supply of Flint, Michigan seem utterly pristine by comparison are various pundits, analysts, economic gurus, and the like offering opinions that may be parsley, rosemary, or thyme, but most certainly not sage.

Perhaps the only good that is coming from this is Spotlight. No, not the latest Oscar winning film but the harsh relentless glare focused on the entire Presidential nominating process that places premiums on a candidacy that begins within weeks after the prior election and is fueled by endless speculation, pollmongering profiteers, the need to fill cable TV news with anything but substance, and the proliferation of web sites whose sole purpose is to promulgate lies, denigrate anyone with opinions different from theirs, and disregard anything remotely likely to benefit the America they all profess to love but which they incessantly subject to virtual domestic violence while declaring their fealty between bruising blows.

Super Tuesday is an agglomeration of primaries in states and American Samoa which would be significant just for the sheer numbers of opportunities for voters to express their choices were it not for the media telling us that the issues have been decided by the primaries/caucuses already consigned to history in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina and whch have a combined poulation dwarfed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania whose own 2016 primary is not until April 26, a date by which the names of many former candidates will be not even a memory and which may represent only the merest possibility of ultimate success to the horses (asses) still in the race.

All this makes the Swiftboating of John Kerry in 2004 look more like the highest level of forensic debate by comparison.

Oh, hell. I’ll admit it. I, too have awkwardly stepped off the curb and fallen into the slime. But the murky waters are deep and I really can’t swim so I am about to drown in this torrent I am now a part of.

In splashing around for survival I might occasionally send splurges of nastiness into the open mouths of others, but they were there first voluntarily.



For the past severl years there has been a huge outcry about the federal government’s war on coal. More precisely that cry began at 12:01 p.m. January 20, 2009. In searching for images to post the one I chose is one of the few that would not be criticized as NSFW.

The rhetoric charging this has been noticeably more vitriolic and sensational here in West Virgina though even representatives of the coal industry have occiasionally let slip that other factors are more responsible for any decline in coal demand and production than anything emanating from D.C.

But I’m not here to argue that issue. What I am doing is offering a way to boost the demand for West Virginia coal, however temporarily, so that our state’s miners can be assured of an income filled Christmas season.

A great Christmas tradition is to warn little children that they will receive a lump of coal in their stockings if they have been naughty, instead of the goodies all the angelic little kiddies receive.

Let us instead deliver lumps of coal to the truly terrible children around the world who are invariably disguised as adults. I’ll give you some examples as to how this will work.

Hillary Clinton——Not necessarily her sole flaw but a lot of people consider her to be far too cozy with Wall Street bankers and the like. So to her we deliver a 500 pound bag of coal lumps, to be shared with the banker friends, likely to be used to fuel document burning fires.

Mike Huckabee——One lump of coal for each of his utterances that have belied his self–proclaimed Christianity. That could keep a dozen miners busy for weeks.

Walmart——A lump of coal for each underpaid employee or one who has been forced to work on Thanksgiving away from their family. The problem here is that Walmart will probably buy the coal more cheaply from China.

David A. Bowers——He’s the mayor of Roanoke, Virginia who issued a statement which has been interpreted by some as suggesting any Syrian refugees be held in detention camps such as were employed on our own Japanese-American citizens during World War II. He later walked that statement back, though this whole thing is so muddled that he may have simply called for the internment of Syrian refugees together with Japanese-Americans and members of the mainstream media who reported his original gaffe. I’d just as soon forget him but to Bowers for Christmas goes one 2 pound lump of coal which he can utilize to call meetings to order by hitting it with his gavel.

Vladimir Putin——Invader of Ukraine and idol of FOX News and fitness fanatics alike, will receive two large lumps of coal fashioned into ten pound dumbells which he can carry while riding his horse or used as handicaps to challenge him in his other physical activities (which challenge will undoubtedly be met. He is Vladimir Putin after all) And all this while displaying his wonderful pecs.

ISIS——Well known murderers, rapists, beheaders, and internet trollers deserving of the largest load of coal at all. The lumps they recieve will not be measured in pounds or tons but, as much as I abhor mountaintop mining, it may take the removal of one mountaintop chock full of coal to be delivered to ISIS…not in lumps but in one mass dropped from above.

Donald Trump——Where do I start? Does he merit a lump for each racist, xenophobic, misogynistic declaration? One for each unnamed source, the experts or producers of dubious or outright false claims he has made or advisers he has consulted? No, better to deliver lumps equal to the number of folks who have stated they will vote for him, each of whom deserves their own bituminous filled stocking. But we will use those lumps to replace the sand in the bunkers on his golf courses—one lump per each grain. Anything remaining will be shipped to the Board Room in Trump Tower. Thenre if he declares “You’re fired!” the coal will begin burning.

Bernie Sanders——Feeling the Bern won’t mean feeling the burn from coal. Sanders is no saint, yet his proposals for the country are spot on and achievable given the will to implement them So to Bernie goes a one ton pile of coal, but one that will be kept under pressure to change it into diamonds—with the assist of Superman, naturally. Once that occurs I’m betting we can trust Bernie to spread the wealth wherever needed.

Children——Are you kidding me? Kids have done nothing to be treated with lumps of coal. What they need and deserve in their stockings, even if they’ve never heard of Santa or Christmas, is to receive assurances they wil have food and shelter and most of all love so that they will not grow up becoming eligible for lumps of coal.




I continually react in disgust to the fearmongering generated by Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Ted Cruz in the agglomeration of news of ISIS  and Syrian refugees and Mexican immigrants and government assisted health care, or anything government assisted, and taxes and any other phenomenon they paint as an existential threat to the United States

There are many other guilty parties and not all are Republicans but this is my blog and I can pick on whomever I want.

None of those are threats…at least not in the way they are characterized.

Then we have the gun nuts, already armed to the teeth, rushing to acquire more firepower after the Paris attacks or any event they believe requires an armed response, even if the “threat” comes from people who are decidedly unarmed or thousands of miles away.

That has provoked in my mind the ear worm of the song from Fiddler On The Roof called Matchmaker Matchmaker. You can view a delightful version below. 

But my ear worm, while employing the instrumental part, has lyrics that are quite different.

And imagine the three pictured above as singing.

Fearmonger, Fearmonger
Make me a fear
Find me a villain
To attack this year
Fearmonger, Fearmonger
Look through your book
And find me a perfect fear

Fearmonger Fearmonger
I’ll bring the lies
You give me the name
Of whom to despise
Preferably brown
Bring me a cause for I’m longing to put
An innocent person down

For Carson
Make him like Darwin

For Ted Cruz
Make him want more taxing

For Trump well
He will not holler
If he were a loser at everything

Fearmonger, Fearmonger
Make me a fear
Find me a threat
Soon to appear
Night after night in the dark I’m alone
So find me a fear
Of my own

(Much dialogue between the three)

Fearmonger, Fearmonger
I have no brains
I’ve never learned
That playing with fears
Can get U.S. burned
Bring me a fear
Let me preach doom
If you don’t find
A threat this year
I will make up my own fear

With the deepest apologies to Fiddler lyricist Sheldon Harnick.



Republican presidential candidate John Kasich says he’d set up an agency with a “mandate” to promote what he calls “Judeo-Christian values” overseas to counter Islamist propaganda.

The Ohio governor says he would create the new agency to promote the values of human rights, democracy and the freedoms of speech, religion and association. Kasich says the information would be distributed in the Middle East, China, Iran and Russia, to compete with the propaganda and misinformation purveyed by Islamic militants.

And here I thought Kasich was one of the saner GOPers. He’s out of his mind. I believe there already exists such an agency. It’s called the Christian Church and Judaism. And they’ve been promoting their “values” for thousands of years.

Christian nations began both World Wars which together killed over 100 MILLION people!

A Christian nation embroiled its citizens in a four year long Civil War that sometimes literally pitted brother against brother and resulted in about 700,000 deaths.

A Christian nation pursued expansion that resulted in the deaths of most of its native population…many by disease and starvation…with perhaps at least a few hundred thousand killed by hostile action.

A Christian nation fought in an unnecessary and futile war in Southeast Asia and was responsible for—by conservative estimates—ONE MILLION deaths, the majority civilians.

A Christian nation invaded Iraq  under false pretenses and was responsible for as many as ONE MILLION deaths.

A Jewish nation illegally appropriated land from Palestinians and while claiming to act solely in self-defense kills nearly 4000 of the supposed aggressors (since 2008) while suffering fewer than 100 deaths of its own. Some defense, eh?

DAESH (ISIS) has by best estimates killed about 170,000 people. We’ll grant that Islamic terrorists as a whole perhaps can claim as many as ONE MILLION victims, but the number is probably not even close to that figure.

The deaths caused by Christian nations in these conflicts include millions of civilian non-combatants of both genders and of all ages, most notably the SIX MILLION dead in the Holocaust.

Pray tell precisely what values does Kasich expect to convey? These examples demonstrate little concern for human life. Besides the deaths millions of people were displaced…sorta like the current Syrian refugees, you know? And how many more have had their lives torn apart while suffering physical and psychological injuries is impossible to know.

Furthermore if Kasich’s creation is intended to be an official government agency he’s getting into First Amendment territory where such actions would be prohibited.

Let’s face it. Contrary to what Kasich apparently hopes to accomplish, pushing Judeo-Christian “values” is simply telling the rest of that world that violence, death, and destruction are the preferred methods in attempting to achieve geographicl-political goals.

Examining the history behind the troubling current events plainly shows those “values” are what got us into this mess.

I am invoking my inner Nancy Reagan. Just say, NO!



“We’ll always have Paris.” Those words from the movie Casablanca may have taken on an entirely new meaning on Friday the 13th. With the co-ordinated attacks in Paris by sympathizers or members of DAESH (now the preferred term for the artist formerly known as ISIS since it reportedly pisses them off), the anti-Muslim rhetoric and threats of revenge are reminiscent of the hysteria after 9/11, in tone if not quite in degree.

More bombing is needed, let’s send troops in, keep the Syrian refugees in pens not fit for the animals we slaughter for our table, shut down the mosques…all are demands made by politicians and ordinary citizens alike. Of course the one about refugees has not been said literally but the tenor of the words several governors have uttered evoke that picture as they declare no Syrian refugees are welcome within their borders.

Never mind that the cowardly murderers responsible for Paris have mostly been identified as home-grown Europeans to date, several from Belgium, and did not enter France with any refugees it may have accepted. That all still needs to be sorted out but jumping to the conclusion that the violence was due to the refugees is unjustifiable now.

And since some were from Belgium one wag suggested that Belgian waffles and Brussels sprouts be re-named in protest.

But isn’t it odd that Americans and the Western World express such outrage over Paris and promise solidarity while adding a subtle tri-color effect to their Facebook profile picture, but no such love match has been made with Beirut which saw a series of car bombings the day before Paris or with Garissa, in Kenya, where the university saw nearly 150 students murdered by terrorists last April. Do we even know what the colors of their flags are, let alone display them in empathy? And the bombings in Beirut last week were merely the latest of a series of such attacks tormenting the citizens of that city.

And really if DAESH stuck to bloodshed against fellow Muslims instead of occasionally adding some beheadings of Christians or journalists to the mix would Americans give as much a shit about them?

The reality is that DAESH, claiming a Muslim jihad as its goal, kills mostly Muslims in its poisonous quest. Many more Muslims than anyone else.

But I’m hearing echoes of the days after 9/11, when images of the carnage remained stark in our minds, and the drumbeat of naked revenge gained power, eventually leading to two wars and numerous other mis-steps that have done more to destroy American freedoms and ideals than anything any terrorist or groups of terrorists could ever hope to accomplish from their vicious tactics alone.

Tom Engelhardt is a blogger and writer whose work I have read in several on-line publications. This piece appeared in The Nation a couple of months ago.

In the essay Engelhardt writes from the viewpoint that everything Al-Qaeda hoped to accomplish by its 9/11 masterstroke has been accomplished by our own hands with wars, suppressive laws, warrantless searches, and otherwise. All have torn the fabric of our nation to a damaging degree.

I have often thought in similar terms but Engelhardt pulls it all together in a cohesive  way. I may not be totally in accord with all his opinions but the exceptions are not important for this discussion. It is worthwhile reading. If you do peruse it, make of it what you will.

My main concern post-Paris is the ugliness in the reactions of us Americans. Even usually sensible people sound as if they could be swept up in the militaristic tone taken by Trump, Cruz, Carson, et al as they pimp for votes in the upcoming primaries and caucuses.

Post-9/11 was a scary period  to me, not because I feared an attack that could touch me or my loved ones directly, but because I could smell war brewing and being transported by a runaway train whose passengers in their past rational lives would never have been talked into the inglorious adventures ahead. Yet, there they were, all the liberal dirty news rags endorsing the wars and  pretty much accepting  any imprudence that survived illogic and unreason and became policy and practice.

Though not as hot and raunchy as those regretful days, it’s getting pretty warm here as the guns are oiled, warheads are loaded, drones are programmed, and anyone with somewhat darker skin wearing headgear not conforming to the requisite sports team logo ball cap worn backwards (itself a sign of a society in decline) or trendy fedora but which instead suggests some possible religious signifigance should beware treading the streets. After all, with many yahoos out there who cannot tell their right foot from their left, how can we expect them to distinguish Muslim from Sikh?

Much of what is said is intentionally aimed at causing fear. Fear often makes one use bad judgment, especially when it is a fear that is not visible at the moment. And the fearmongers want you to be afraid, be very afraid, so they can get their way to compel America to contribute ever more carnage to the piles of stinking corpses it has already produced around the world in numbers far more than any loss we have ever suffered due to the terrorists they warn us about.

And despite the total failures of our “boots on the ground” in Iraq and Afghanistan there continues to be a call for more American boots on the ground.

You know what? I will accede to that on one condition. That condition is that those who express this demand loudest fill those boots with their own damned feet.




Of course we are not speaking of a TV series, a New Jersey Rocker, or an owner of a major league baseball franchise. That kind of leaves us with our star attraction, pictured above.

It is really so much simpler than what all of us have been working ourselves up over. “What is simpler?”, you ask? Why the appeal of Donald Trump to certain elements of the electorate.

Never mind the racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic undertones—or as some allege, overtones of Trump’s campaign for President. Never mind his long slate of accomplishments…three wives and four bankrupticies. No, what these voters are looking for is simply a boss. After all, as much as he has been criticized for actions independent of Congress (as have many of his predecessors) President Barack Obama lacks the absolute power over his realm that Trump exercises over his dominion.

But the image of Trump as a boss who gets things done seems to be very stromg with the public. The source of that image? Mostly Trunp himself, whose bluster in the campaign to date at heart consists of him telling people he will do what he says with no substance to how he hopes to accomplish this.

And, of course his legacy as host of a contrived and manipulative “reality” television series, The Apprentice, on which he was the contrivingest, manipulatingest element of all does nothing but enhance his boss image. After all, who would not want to pit several contestants against each other in rigged competitions so that, even if all performed admirably and the margin of difference between the teams was negligible, one of the team members would hear the dreaded, “You’re fired” at the end of each episode. Great televison, bad business practices.

(Full disclosure—I viewed pretty much all of the first season of The Apprentice, a few episodes of the second season, and have sporadically seen snippets of a few episodes since, especially as it morphed into The Celebrity Apprentice)

In these public endeavors Trump had no Board of Directors to contend with, let alone a recalcitrant Congress, only the sychophantic comments of long time associates/aides or adoring children.

The potential voters who have demonstrated a willingness to vote for someone perceived as a no-nonsense, accomplish at all costs boss are wallowing in self-delusion.

Deporting all illegal or undocumented immigrants is an impossible, budget busting no-go financially and as a matter of practicality in simply rounding up all the folks eligible for deportment and observing their lawfully guaranteed procedural rights, a pipe dream of the first magnitude.

And building the Mexican wall? Puh-lease!

In foreign affairs he would have the U.S. virtually bludgeon other nations to submit to our will. “ISIS, be gone!” “China, take your part of our National Debt and wipe it off your books to repay us for your financial sins against the U.S.”  And so on and so on.

Some people lie to themselves by rejoicing in Trump’s unilateral approach to politics. But upon his inauguration on January 21, at 12:01 p.m. a giant alarm clock (perhaps designed by Ahmed Mohamed?) will clang his supporters into the reality of the real political world, just as ordinary alarm clocks, on Monday morning awaken the working world from their weekend reveries.

And just as commuters find that road construction has persuaded everybody to take the usualy less-traveled shortcuts that are now clogged, so wil Trump believers find the shorcuts their idol has promised them are also clogged, but in this case due to Trump closing the main arteries that usually serve so well.

Neither Congress, the Supreme Court, nor other world leaders are “at will” employees dispatched on a whim. They will not be Apprentice applicants cowering before him, but rather strong leaders with their own power bases and paychecks not signed by The Donald. Gary Busey they ain’t.



We are rapidly, or maybe not rapidly enough, moving towards the 2016 Presidential election. The house pictured above is the residence the announced candidates aspire to inhabit. But what about their current residences? How do they compare?

We are blessed by this article which gives us pretty pictures of the house or houses owned by some of the candidates, but limited to only Trump, Bush, Clinton, and Sanders.

I have not been able to obtain photographs, but I am assured by reliable sources that the following descriptions are accurate depictions of their living spaces for some of the other candidates.

Mike Huckabee—a little warren within some evangelical church, away from the riff-raff whom he has time for only to deliver his latest irrational screed. Inside his personal area the walls are plastered with pictures of various acts of sado-masochism performed by him with waitresses from Hooters. Oh, and a portrait of Soupy Sales.

Rick Perry—His house is built to emulate the Allan B. Polunsky Unit in West Livingston, Texas which contains the state’s Death Row. Inside, Perry’s great room contains plenty of loungers with wrist, waist, and ankle straps and IV poles ready to deliver his guests’ beverage of choice.

Scott Walker—-Surprisingly he lives a very ascetic life in a bare bones home. After all, even in these times it’s difficult to fully furnish and decorate a house without objects that were union made. Obviously he has no car.

Rand PaulDesigned by renowned architect Howard Roark Paul’s home has a small but comfortable library which holds only the works of Ayn Rand…oh…and the Gideon Bible he brought home from his last national Ophthalmology Convention, aiming to use it for guidance when advising Kentucky County Clerks on their job duties.

Ben Carson—A comfortable but not ostentatious home in which his favorite room is the one where he displays mementoes of his life. Among thse are a brain preserved in formaldehyde complete with electric stimulators he can operate for old times’ sake, a sonogram of the pre-aborted fetus he later used for stem cell research, and an unused booklet of Food Stamps from his childhood.

Martin O’Malley—He lives in a house that formerly housed one of those crab shacks like you find dotting the Maryland shore. He maintains a supply of wooden mallets, a stack of old newspapers (each containing a report of one of his speeches) used to cover the wooden picnic table where his family dines, and a to-the-ceiling pile of O’Malley For President bumper stickers that no one has accessed his web site to request.

Rick Santorum—Since his unpublicized divorce and remarriage, he had to move into his new spouse’s dog house.

Chris Christie—Has houses all over the country. You can recognize them by the Dunkin Donuts logo outside.

Carly Fiorina—Her house is an nondescript suburban block and brick building, miles from public transit, part of which she leases to the local unemployment office serving laid off tech workers.

Jim Webb—A 3476 sq ft Virginia Colonial, indistinguishable from most of his neighbors save for the electric message sign in front displaying a continuous loop reading “I AM NOT THE JIM WEBB WHO WROTE THAT ATROCIOUS SONG MACARTHUR PARK. There is currently a class action by his neighbors pending in which they seek damages for the ear worm they cannot get rid of.

Jeff Boss, Harry Braun, Lawrence Lessig, Robby Wells and Willie Nelson (not the singer) , a bunch of unknowns seeking the Democratic nomination, who reside jointly in a suite at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in Weston, West Virginia.

Bobby Jindal–He used to live in a home resembling the Taj Mahal, but Trump evicted him for nonpayment of rent after he gambled all his money away in the building’s casino.

Ted Cruz—Rumored to reside just outside Winnipeg.

Marco Rubio—Lives very modestly in the rear of a Cuban sandwich shop in Miami’s Little Havana.

John Kasich—Currently living in the Ohio Governor’s mansion in Columbus, but preparing to move to a mountainside cabin on Denali. when his term expires.

Lindsey Graham—Once his objective of attacking Iran to end its nuclear program is acheived, he is going to retire from the Senate, and move into the penthouse condo he has already purchased overlooking the grandest boulevard in downtown Tehran.

Considering our options, would it be possible to change the locks at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. before January, 20, 2017?


UPDATE. The original version mis-stated Martin O’Malley’s first name as Michael. The text now reads as corrected.