An American Dirge

American Tragedy SevenPonds Blog

An American Dirge


Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice

Philando Castile, Michael Brown

And on and on and on and on

Hero cops, and racist cops

Museums that recall genocide

Museums so we don’t forget lynchings

Two towers leveled, thousands lose their lives


We mourn, tears flow, and on we go.


Don’t kill my buzz

Say some.

We’re trying to have a good time here.

Life is beautiful

American is beautiful.


Dylan Roof shoots

An African American Bible study group.

Survivors forgive him.

Adam Lanza, blighted boy,

Kills 20 six and seven year olds.

A troubled shooter ends his life

And leaves a nation drenched in tears.

Stoneman Douglas, Columbine

Captive targets, grief abides

More troubled shooters

Express their ire.

Children grow up before our eyes.


San Bernardino, Orlando,

Fort Hood, Aurora, Santa Fe,

Boston Strong, and Las Vegas

A marathon, some country songs

Homegrown terrorists

America mourns and mourns.


Don’t kill my buzz

Say some

We’re still trying to have a good time here

We’re trying to pretend

(And maybe pretending

Will someday make it so)

That America is still beautiful.


Charlottesville, torches

In the night,

A President allows

Displays of spite.

Democrats are demons.

Republicans will save you

(If you are rich and white

And Christian).

A leader says, “I don’t sow hate”

But 14 Democrats get bombed,

And worshippers in Temple

Are slain in prayer.

2 more troubled shooters bound for jail.


Freedom made America shine

Now we wallow in mourning and tears,

Again and again, they seem our fate.

Can we save our father’s dreams

And stretch them to our modern needs?


Americans still say don’t kill our buzz.

We’re trying to enjoy our lives out here,

And pretending that American is still the home

Of “spacious skies” and “waving grain”

“From sea to shining sea”.


[One dirge is not enough. We may need more. It would be great if this was our last dirge, our last moment of national mourning caused by a neighbor’s loneliness, hate, or radical thoughts. People are having a harder time pretending that life in America is basically normal because the blips on their radar are starting to burst their happiness bubble. As for those of us who can’t seem to turn away, we want to understand how to find ways to cure it. If we don’t will this ever end? Isn’t America tired of reanimating itself after each tragedy? Isn’t America tired of tears yet?]






If Democrats Lose: A Trumpian Fantasy

Trumps fantasy world

If Democrats lose the fight to take back the majority in at least one house of Congress then what, a Trumpian Fantasy? Trump would like us to stop resisting, to praise every little thing about him, to smile while he does what he does. He wants the media to reflect his glory, and it might also be mandatory for Americans to attend weekly praise sessions where 45 can bask in adoration and acclaim as we attest to his genius and thank him for MAGA. He has to refill his ego regularly as his I’m-the-best tanks get empty quickly and often. When resisting gets exhausting it is almost tempting to sink back into an unquestioning limbo with a sickly smile plastered across our faces. Perhaps all will be well if we all just bow before the golden one. Small g, small o.

After all we can probably make it without coverage for preexisting conditions for 6 years and we can probably live with watching Putin preen on the world stage for a while longer. We need customers but we don’t need friends. We can probably live without any friends for 6 years. We can deal with being an exploited work force employed at the whims of the marketplace and paid as little as our employers can get away with. We can deal with a stagnant or dying economy as we lose business from abroad and become an economy that sells to and buys from only each other. That should be a really booming economy (not). Isolationism has consequences. Withdrawing from global affairs definitely has consequences. (Didn’t we already try this?) (Yes.)

I’m not so sure how we will deal with training guns on troubled migrants who arrive at our southern (and perhaps our northern) border. That might cause the smiles plastered to our faces to quiver a bit. We probably will not hear much about it anyway because a Trump-centric media will not speak of it. We will only hear rumors passed along in garbled fashion from person to person. Easy to ignore as we try to keep our heads above water in a deepening economic depression. We will only wish that abortion was legal if someone we know has to deal with an unwanted pregnancy or a dangerous pregnancy. But there will be no more demonstrations in front of Planned Parenthood buildings because there will be no Planned Parenthood buildings.

How will we whitewash a colorful America? It could be as simple as forcing brown and black folks onto “reservations” which we would only know about as these Americans disappeared from our communities. Is that smile still in place? Better not let it slip. Our leader needs ever more positive reinforcement. Have babies, have lots of babies. If they are sexually different, not safely male or female Trump will have a plan to whisk them off to another country perhaps. Our lives will be trouble free as long as we give in to whatever the leader wants and keep grinning. Unless someone decides that we are weakened enough that this would be a good time to attack. We could end up at war with almost any nation on the face of the earth. Could it be a nuclear war? Smile, a giant national security apparatus, loyal to the President is watching. Do something patriotic. Sell your beach property and go camp out on public land with a long gun until you are called upon to fight. What if 45 decides that 6 more years in power is not enough?

Donald-Trump-Dystopia-1080x675 Institute for Policy Studies

Will our “peerless” leader be happy with idolatry? He is a restless one. He does not enjoy peace and quiet. He does not crave time to contemplate the universe or even to play with his grandchildren. He is a mover and shaker. Having nothing more to move and shake will not work for him. Adulation will simply offer new scope for his creative talent for inciting chaos. It will be harder to rile everyone up. He will probably have to go ballistic, get a designer to invent a uniform just for him, go out across America in one of those military style vehicles to poke his nose into every corner of the nation to be sure of what is going on now that the media no longer does more than offer endless approval. Trump will not be able to enjoy a Trumpy America one bit because he thrives on opposition and paradox.

Be careful what you wish for because you might get it.

Photo Credits: From Google Image Searches, NYT, Institute for Policy Studies

This is a view from the cheap seats.





Mind Games

mind games Odyssey

What I really hate about lies is what they assume about our minds. Republicans are playing mind games. Republicans are trying to tell us they did the opposite of what they actually have done. They insist that we all have some kind of collective amnesia and we don’t recall how they voted or how they have treated many of their constituents. Trump insists that Democrats are responsible for things Republicans did or would like to do. We are the ones inciting violence, we are the ones paying immigrants to walk, 7,000 strong, to the border between Mexico and the US. Democrats are the ones who want to get rid of insurance that covers preexisting conditions and Medicare. Democrats are responsible for the deficit. Democrats are to blame for violent riots in California because of sanctuary cities. Wow, we are really terrible people. Except none of this is true. It is just people using Trumpian double speak to make us crazy.

Which anti-fact do we combat first? Which misdirection will hurt us the worst in the midterms? Will any of this psychobabble change any outcomes in the midterms? How many Americans believe this mumbo-jumbo? Why do I constantly feel like gnats are buzzing around my head? Isn’t it already too late to change anyone’s mind about their vote in the midterms, unless you have a bully pulpit as big as the one Trump has?

I know that there are records about this stuff, news stories, videos, interviews, panel discussions, but it has been made clear that records can be changed, edited, photoshopped, like those photos of Trump’s election crowds. This president uses mind games against his own citizens. Two more years of this sounds endless, six sounds impossible. When we look back on this 4 years or this 8 years, if we survive this Trump administration as the intact American Republic, I think that these years will seem like a big old black hole in space.

So I will reiterate one more time the reasons that we need to vote for Democrats besides the ones where we save our sanity and save Democracy at the same time. I found this meme on Facebook. It is not mine but it sums up policy differences between Democrats and Republicans in a very concise way. I tried to trace it back to where it originated because I suspect it was captured and pasted to Facebook, but I could not find the correct attribution.

fb chart key issues dems v gop

Photo Credits: Odyssey from a Google Image Search, meme shared on FB

Sinclair Broadcasting Helps Trump in Midterms

Sinclair - Living Room Trends 2018

I caught my local news on a channel owned by Sinclair Broadcasting the other night and the very thing I feared would happen is happening. Giving Trump/Trump supporters a voice on local news, allowing them to push out national news that sounds fair and balanced but that skews towards Trump, and skews right, is particularly dangerous when we are in an election cycle. Local people who insist that Fox is the best source for political news are the targets of Sinclair. They are already primed to believe this stuff. They are unaware of who Sinclair Broadcasting is and of the ways they are interfering in local news broadcasts. They find the skewed news to be perfectly acceptable because they have already been brainwashed to agree with it.

7,000 refugees walking from Honduras to the border between Mexico and the US two weeks before the midterms offers plenty of video footage to instill fear and anger in middle-class Trump supporters. These Trumpers are a percentage of Americans who already suspect, and riled by Trump, are now convinced, that immigrants steal our jobs, use benefits paid for and intended for use by citizens only, and are violent criminals who endanger American lives.

MS-13 tats - NPR

What I saw on my local news, pushed out in a must-run story from Sinclair Broadcasting was a graphic video about the MS-13 gang, resplendent in gang tattoos, ready to commit mayhem in a neighborhood near us. Such obvious fear-mongering two weeks before an election that could change the majority in the House of Representatives from Republican to Democratic could very well motivate more Republicans to go to the polls to prevent that from happening. That would be very bad for America. We have no checks on this President. We need some. A House of Representatives that skews left could give us at least a minimal check on an out-of-control President.

Local TV news used to try to give fairly balanced coverage of both candidates for a political office but Sinclair has put an end to that. This coverage does not look like it is even about the election but it is. It is wrong that Sinclair is allowed to own local stations when it is nothing but a one-sided political operative. It turns our news into propaganda. The wrongness of Sinclair is especially apparent during an election cycle. If we want news that is actual news we definitely need a blue wave. Trump is no fan of free speech unless the speech favors him.

Photo credits: From Google Image Searches, Living Room Trends 2018, NPR



Election Woes

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Confusing Voters

We are 18 days out from the 2018 midterm elections with Democrats and Republicans locked in a desperate struggle to control the Legislative branch of our Federal government. Things start to get very confusing for voters right about now. The Democrats might be turning into Socialists. The Republicans are now claiming that they are the protectors of health care in America, although they voted at least 60 times to overturn the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). We are apparently thick as thieves with Saudi Arabia right now and may be inclined to ignore the assassination of journalists by other dictatorships or “illiberal democracies” if we have advantageous economic arrangements with these nations. Apparently sword dances are also very helpful in this regard. Voter suppression is rampant because Democrats encourage voter fraud (what?). Democrats are a violent mob paid to resist by a Jewish billionaire (George Soros). And thousands of immigrants are on the way to violate our southern border and create mayhem. If all of this is true I say how could 45 allow our nation to get in such bad shape?

Health Care

Ask yourself, who is likely to offer Americans the best health care for the least amount of money, the Democrats or the Republicans? Well, first there is the evidence available for all voters to see in the various health plans that have been offered during the Obama administration and the Trump administration. Obama’s plan was demonized by Republicans for allowing “death panels” to decide who lives and who die (which never came to pass), and was declared unconstitutional by courts that skew to the right because of the individual mandate (you cannot force Americans to buy something or pay a penalty for not buying it even if it would accomplish a larger goal of bringing down the cost of health care for everyone). The Republicans ripped all the teeth out of the ACA and backed the private health insurers (so unfair to billionaires, who are considered sacred even if they are making enormous profits from people’s pain, because they provide jobs and have generous lobbyists). Red states proved their bona fides to the party by refusing the Medicaid expansion, making their poorest citizens do without to keep a greedy party in power. And yet the ACA still worked pretty well and it has provided health care for millions of Americans who never had it.

We also saw what was on offer from Republicans in the Better Care plan which was in no way better than the ACA, and would cause millions to lose coverage. The “skinny repeal” was not their finest hour either. Republicans know insurance companies do not want to cover preexisting condition without being paid big bucks (and who will pay those big bucks, government or individuals). Since all Republicans really care about is the bottom line and backing corporations/businesses, they are trying to help out the insurance companies, not the American people. We have also been learning that almost anything can be classified as a preexisting condition. And yet I hear Republicans telling voters in commercial after commercial that it is Democrats who plan to take away coverage of preexisting conditions and, incidentally, also end Medicare.

Democrats Will End Medicare (what?)

Their claim is based on a cynical argument about linguistics, I guess. They argue that if everyone has “single-payer” health insurance then seniors will lose their Medicare and coverage for preexisting conditions will prove either skimpy or outrageously expensive. Of course if we call “single-payer” Medicare-for-all their argument falls apart. Republicans think that Americans will accept a “catastrophic coverage fund” that people contribute to separately from their health care plan. That will mean that health care only covers people who are healthy. People who are sick will be covered by the catastrophic plan if there is enough money in it. I am guessing that limits will be set on how much help people can expect from this catastrophic plan and then they will be on the hook for the balance, which still may be enough to wipe out their personal finances.

Why Democrats Should Have the Con in 2018 (and beyond)

Does your head hurt? Mine does. But I am not fooled by Republican obfuscation ( in plain language, lies, truth twisting). I know that in the matter of health care the Democrats need to have the con. I don’t care if Republicans keep referring to the idea of single-payer health care as socialism. A label will not kill you; inadequate health care, or health care that excludes because it is too expensive will put many people’s lives or lifestyles at risk. Republicans do not like the government to contribute to any programs that benefit citizens. They truly believe this is not the province of government. However, as world populations increase and climate change (which is real) affects things like food supplies and clean water and rising rates of disease, the government (our taxes) may need to contribute more to our comfort and protection rather than less.

Republicans are Bipartisan (what?)

As for the nonsense in some ads that claims our Republican representatives in Congress are bipartisan it is all I can do not to throw something weighty at my TV. There are many people in America and in my community who believe that these claims are accurate. If you followed the votes on Countable or listened to any news channel other than Fox or the local channels now owned by Sinclair then you know the facts. Once in a while, when Republicans had enough votes to pass legislation without requiring everyone to vote yes they excused some congress people in contested districts to allow them to vote no so they could later claim to be bipartisan. But voting with Trump 90% of the time is hardly a valid claim to bipartisanship. In this case this is just lying. Aren’t we sick of such blatant lying? Is bald-faced lying more honest than less-obvious lying? Can lying come out of a President’s mouth and be classified as “just a game”?

Which Party Actually Serves We the People?

Democrats may not be able to deliver on their promise of “single-payer” health care right away, or family leave, or guaranteed employment programs that cover people when jobs are scarce, but they will govern in such a way as to begin to move our federal government in directions that offer more to we the people and that stop pandering to the wealthiest among us. I really have nothing against wealth but I have a real problem with stacking the deck, with the rich legislating in favor of the rich, and with hoarding. Do people not hear the vastly overconfident Mitch McConnell daring to talk about cutting Medicare and Social Security right before an important midterm election? Doesn’t it get you riled up enough to vote this old man right out of his position at the head of the majority in the Senate. Vote in a new majority, get a new majority leader and end the drumbeat against programs we pay for.

Don’t let these ads confuse you. Vote anyway. Vote wisely.

Graphic: From a Google Image Search,

Limited Government – A Terrible Idea

limited government Medium

Limited Government: The “nanny state” and Political Correctness

Republicans love to talk about limited government. It is always at the top of their wish list. But limited government is code for many different things. To some who feel that the government has become too invasive in our private lives, the old “nanny state” meme blames bleeding heart liberals for trying to wrap people in a protective bunting of rules and regulation. Perhaps it began with seat belts or car seats or work safety oversight (OSHA) but, according to some, it turned into one of those rubber band balls that stay small for a while and then grow more rapidly in size and complexity. Doesn’t really matter how it began, there were Americans who felt that these rules made them feel like they were living in a “petty” dictatorship, Authoritarianism Lite. This all seems a bit hyperbolic now given the real authoritarianism which is a constant risk in the administration of 45.

Lumped in with these safety laws were the increasing admonitions to use language that is “politically correct” or inoffensive to all of the diverse groups that make up America. Independent-minded Americans have lost it. They do not want to “knuckle under” to the free speech police. They don’t care if it serves the interests of civility and kindness and the humane treatment of others. They already agreed to call Indians “Native Americans”, but now they were supposed to say “indigenous people”. It was a bridge too far for some. These linguistic battles have not served to unite us, that’s for certain.

Now we are in a battle, fomented by GOP propaganda, of “real Americans” versus other ethnic groups, which could easily end with various “tribes” retreating to separate corners, leaving Americans with a prolonged culture war. Our electoral college gave us a President who flaunts his right to be politically incorrect, but it is taking the word civil out of civilization.

Federalism, Constitutional Purity and States Rights

However these things are not what other, often more powerful, Republicans are saying when they talk about limited government. And there are two sides to how limited government would look if Republicans actually got their wish. Idealistically Republicans say that this is about restoring Constitutional “purity”. They believe we have wandered too far from the intentions of our forefathers. The Constitution gives the federal government the right to write laws, pass laws, and pass judgment on the constitutionality of those laws. But purists (fundamentalists) say that the Constitution gives the federal government the right to rule the nation only in a few areas, mainly military concerns and foreign relations, and that all rights not designated to the federal government belong to the states.

They know the Federalists (state’s rights) faction lost their original argument to make America a loose affiliation of strong states under a weak national government back in the 18th century. Although our forefathers did decide to go with a stronger federal government today’s Republicans are reviving the old Federalist arguments, and they would like to ditch the conclusion our forefathers reached and become strict Federalists. Of course this means throwing out about two centuries of law and tradition and basically starting from scratch. It also means that states would begin to look more like independent nations. You might need a visa one day to travel to another state. It seems like a pretty extreme way to avoid public health care (and a few other things Republicans don’t like).

The first order of business of modern Federalists was to get Republicans in control of the United States government so they could dismantle it. They were aided in this by having some very rich industrialists on their side who stood to benefit from all the deregulation which would accompany this reorganization. These industrialists either formed a web of think tanks and Conservative groups or found ways to connect groups that already existed and were like-minded. Right wing groups met at yearly gatherings and eventually formulated an ideology and a plan of action to implement that ideology. Their machinations have been amazingly successful. The Republicans now own all three branches of our government.

Trump has been surprisingly helpful in this endeavor to tame the sprawl of the federal government. He has done this inadvertently because he wants to save America all by himself. He needs to be a hero. Even if he is perceived by many as incompetent or as a villain, if he just concentrates on his own followers he is the hero he aspires to be. He must have to delegate tasks within his businesses, but he does not want to delegate tasks in government. He doesn’t trust civil servants. Out of tradition and law they pursue objectives set by previous presidents. He likes to lead through placing his henchmen, who have pledged their loyalty to him and him alone, in offices that have the names of real American agencies but which no longer function as the original entities did. These agencies and offices are now are part of the Trump spiderweb and do Trump’s business. As a result he does not need to fill positions in these agencies or offices. Staff numbers are going down. It is becoming impossible to rely on civil servants completing routine tasks to keep government as we have known it functioning. Fewer government employees equals limited government. Et voila. Winning.

More About State’s Rights

State’s Rights was a battle cry of Democrats when the Democrats consisted of the people who are now Republicans, and is still the oft-repeated refrain of the Republicans since the Civil War and Reconstruction. Americans who cry the loudest about restoring the rights of states seem concentrated in the Southern and the Western states. People claim to love the rights of the poor usurped states whenever they want something that is opposed to what the majority of the nation wants.

Southerners were beaten in the Civil War but, in a sense they felt a terrible anger about it and their spirits refused to accept it. They loved their general, General Lee, they loved their Southern plantation culture; they loved their wealth and their lifestyle. They knew that the end of slavery would be the end of the plantation system. There were plenty of examples in the nearby islands in the Caribbean. That pride was so strong that it has been kept alive to this day and even romanticized by many Americans.

Justice was done but it has always been an uneasy and contentious justice and we have still made no real peace with it for many, many reasons most of which fall under the heading of racism. But when Southerners lost the Civil War and lost “their property” they went crazy and lost all humanity in a lust for vengeance and punishment. Whenever freed slaves tried to use the freedoms they had recently won, especially to vote or hold public office or own land, they were terrorized, viciously attacked and often slaughtered. Freedom has been won piece by tiny piece with spilled blood and dashed hopes.

Posse Comitatus

The Southerners balked under Federal attempts to control Reconstruction in the South. They argued that state and local government should have control over what was happening in the South. The federal government, experiencing some scandal and turmoil of its own, capitulated and gave local sheriffs power to rule their own domains. The rest of the nation then turned their backs on the mayhem that ensued.

Once that battle for power was won it has used precedent to justify some fairly rebellious behaviors. Most recently it reared its ugly head in the Cliven Bundy matter. Westerners resent that so much land has been designated as federal land, although there has not been any big rush to develop most of the land the government protects, or hoards (depending on your point of view). When the government decided to clamp down on Mr. Bundy, a rancher who grazed his cattle for free on government land that others paid a fee to graze their cattle on, Mr. Bundy refused to accept the power of the federal government and appealed to the superior power of the local sheriff that hails back to those very post-Reconstruction days that we have been talking about.

During Cliven Bundy’s confounding stand Rachel Maddow went over the historical basis for this claim written in the Posse Comitatus Law. The militia movement, which has similar roots, and which has been growing in America along with the stubborn power of the NRA, revealed itself when people showed up with long guns, lying prone on US highways pointing those rifles through concrete road barriers at federal officers. It was a shocking stand-off and the federal government backed down to avoid escalating the matter with killings. That’s some of the ideological background on limited government. Behind the bizarre ideological rationale is an ersatz economic argument for limited government

limitedgov -

The Ayn Rand Justification/Rationalization for Limited Government

With the advent of the Tea Party we began to hear new arguments for limited government. These arguments were based in money, economics, finance. America was changing. The factories which gave people good salaries without a college education had flown the coop, gone on a World Tour. People were not feeling quite so flush. Then they lost their houses in what was a scandal of bad risks by banks and the stock market, a bid for short-term profit over long-term fiscal health. The victims got spanked but the big dogs, for the most part, got off with a hand slap. They are already at their scams again.

People decided that they were unhappy with the way their taxes were being used. They had a little help from Republicans who supposedly backed the Tea Party folks, Republicans like Paul Ryan who read a seminal book by Ayn Rand in college or high school and decided that spreading Rand’s gospel suited the dilemma of those in the Tea Party and, incidentally, the goals of the Republican Party re limited government. A marriage made in one man’s mind.

I don’t like or respect Paul Ryan but even I must admit that his message caught on like a wildfire and is, even now, changing America beyond recognition. What he said that appealed to so many, was this – social government programs do not help people who are down and out, they actually hurt them. These programs keep people down and turn them into permanent dependents. We need to stop funding social programs (which would, in theory, cut taxes) – no welfare, no food stamps, no Medicaid, no Medicare, no Social Security, no federal control over or funding of education.


I always say that you can’t have socialism in a democracy because we the people pay our taxes and we say how the money will be used and that makes social programs democratic, not socialist. But the new truth is that we the people don’t contribute enough taxes to pay for the enormous military that “patriots” clamor for and for the social programs that serve as safety nets for we the people in times of trouble or need.

Without the 1% Americans are basically poor. If these miserly folks no longer want to pay taxes that will be used for people who don’t work (or can’t work) then we the people are screwed. Why we have given all these wealthy people all our money is now a moot point. The deed is done and they will use any reasoning necessary to claim that they are entitled to it. They do not mind turning America into a third world country because they plan to live above it all. All of America has now become colonized by these rich few. The right has managed to push the left to the far left and when they express fears of socialism now it is because socialism may be our only way out of  all this planned inequality.


We are clearly on a path to limited government in all its manifestations. I am guessing that we will not like it one little bit if it comes to pass. That dangerous mob, the vociferous left, created as backlash to an extreme right wing, may someday save us from the chaos of running each state as an independent entity and each local government as a fiefdom. Pick the Dems (the Dims) to save us from having to take a sad detour into “limited government”.  (I’m confused, how can you be dim and a dangerous mob at one and the same time.) “Limited government” is an outdated concept and it belongs in the oubliette of history.

Photo Credits: From a Google Image Search – Medium,

Fear by Bob Woodward – Book

Fear Washington Times

Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame) recently published his exposé of the chaos in the early days of the Trump White House called simply, Fear: Trump in the White House.If you have been paying attention to the news (not Fox) then what you are reading in this book is hardly surprising. You see Steve Bannon come and go. The James Comey drama is in there. You see the contributions of people who played a role in those early days but are now gone, like Hope Hicks and Rob Porter. Tillerson and Trump disagree about foreign policy and Tillerson is replaced by Pompeo. Some of Trump’s fears about the Mueller investigation are covered.

There was a recent article in the NYT’s written by an anonymous source who told us that Trump’s West Wing staff are so worried about Trump’s orders telling them to design documents that will solidify bad policies, orders to place those documents on his desk to be signed, that they delay producing the papers and even remove the documents if they appear on Trump’s desk. They know that Trump’s mind jumps around from one idea to the next and that if the policy document is not placed in front of him he will forget about it (for a while). This is all covered in Woodward’s book. Woodward was there so it helps us feel like we are actually in the Oval Office, flies on the wall, experiencing staff fears in real time.

One of the greatest of all the fears is the one that shows us that someone who formed his policy ideas in some earlier decade, someone as inflexible as Trump, someone unwilling to learn about in-depth intelligence and to apply it to his fondly-held theories, someone unwilling to evolve, to revise old dogma, to encompass new data controls the nuclear codes. People in former administrations did not lightly make nuclear threats in hopes that going nuclear will turn enemies into friends. We don’t usually brag that our nuclear capabilities are greater than those of our enemies although we believe that it is basically understood. Nuclear boasting might backfire and the consequences could be devastating. Sometimes threatening documents, once produced, were removed from presidential proximity before he could sign them, but the fear that surrounds any casual treatment of nuclear weapons is always there.

Bob Woodward is not just making us aware that Trump’s staff lives in fear of Trump inadequacies and belligerent nature; he is telling us that we need to be fearful of a man who is filling a position he does not understand. We need to know that he is running America on ego, calcified opinions, and praise elicited by implied threats (fear). We need to follow Bob Woodward into those rooms in our nation’s White House and watch the slapdash way that business is now conducted daily in America. His account is very readable and the actual meat of the book ends well before the pages do. What follows is a section of photos, some pretty useful end notes, and a detailed index. If you have been paying attention to an in-depth news station like MSNBC it will all be very familiar. What will be different is that this time you are “in the room where it happens”.

The children in this Rainbow Room video offer revealing and very brief reviews of Bob Woodward’s book, reviews that sum things up very well.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Washington Times

Trump’s Adolescent Behavior

adolescent trump -vox

Why does our President act like an adolescent? Why do Trump’s middle school nicknames work? Today he is assigning demeaning nicknames to the Democrats. He chuckles as he calls us the Dims (instead of the Dems). It is absolutely the move of a bully, who never enters the fray, except with this childish name-calling. He is only brave enough to poke people in their egos at a distance. Why does it work when he calls Kim Jong un “little Rocket Man”, except that here we have a case of one bully calling out another bully, so I sort of get why that works. Trump’s people love this stuff, this Roman-coliseum, lions-vs-Christians stuff. Perhaps the entire thing is like a sports game to these folks, lovers of tailgating (nothing wrong with tailgating).

Why does making fun of honest people work for this man, this crooked man, this cheater with no empathy or morals. Why was it OK with his peeps for him to make fun of a media guy with a disability? Why was it great fun to suggest that Dr. Blasey Ford did not remember enough about her own near rape. She may have been fifteen, but I bet she knows who was in that room, even if she doesn’t know where it was. Maybe she had a little crush on one of those two boys and that is why she went to a house party that she would usually have avoided. I bet that crush ended real fast. Is something wrong with me that I find this name-calling disgusting? There seem to be other people who feel the same way.

My brother was a teenager who tortured his own younger sisters. He had a group of friends. We all grew up with those boys. But then they started drinking and showing off for each other. My brother became an entertainer. He made up long nicknames which cannot and will not be repeated and reeled them off when the girls got home from school. My mother seemed helpless to stop it. These three sisters had to walk the gauntlet through those boys every day for a while. They were either reduced to tears or learned to pretend to ignore them. I believe it did psychic damage, but of course they grew up and had careers and husbands and children. Even my brother became a loving husband and father. There are scars though, on boys and girls alike.

This is bullying. It is not entertaining. It may bring laughter but at someone else’s expense. Trump is trying every trick in the book to belittle the Democrats. He must be really worried now about the 2018 midterm elections. Otherwise why would he bother to think up more nicknames. (Do our “leaders” sit around the oval office offering suggestions or expressing their approval.) But if he runs out of nastiness and rancor and fear of losing he can always resort to that chant “lock her up” because only men are innocent until proven guilty, not women.

mean trump medium

How did we get a President who is stuck in his adolescence? We deserve better. How does he get away with it all – the sexual abuse, the lies, the criminal financial behavior, the in-you-face desecration of the Constitution? I am still in shock that we have no way to ditch a bad President. If we don’t vote for the “Dims” at midterms then we are the crazy ones. All three branches of Congress should not belong to the same party. Vote to make sure that situation ends.

If we don’t win in November this all gets worse and we have to look at Mitch McConnell’s happy face some more, which is something I would dearly like to avoid.

Photo Credits: From Google Image Searches – Vox, Medium

Have Your Say in the Mainstream Media


Recently I have been motivated to comment on articles appearing in the opinion section of the New York Times. I hope some of you will get in the habit of using this unique opportunity to have your say in a paper that has such a wide circulation. Usually my offerings are approved, although they have never been a Times pick or a reader’s pick yet. I think it takes time to build up an audience that likes (or hates) your voice. There are, I have noticed, a few things that will get your response rejected. Being too radical, or saying things that could be construed as trolling are unacceptable, as is resorting to any of the words on George Carlin’s list of words you can’t use on TV (or in the media). (Look it up; it must be on You Tube.) Here’s an example of a response I wrote last week, hopped up on the Kavanaugh hearings that was not accepted by the NYT.

“Everyone talks about tribalism as if it explains away all our political differences, but it does not. Why are the policies on the right so different from those on the left. As a lefty I cannot agree to stay silent while Republicans consent to an immigration policy that looks like a Nazi pogrom. I cannot agree to policies of limited government which are really just designed to take we the people out of American democracy and turn the United States of America into a collection of loosely affiliated states. I cannot forget that the Republicans refused to even give a hearing to Merrick Garland.

I am listening to Charles Grassley stand before the Senate and accuse Democrats of conspiracy, an opinion that relies only on GOP paranoia. They always believe the other side is doing what they would do. I thought the Democrats were fine. They were brave to support their constituents when they knew they were more likely to earn insults from their peers than accolades. Kavanaugh was, I believe coached and coached badly at the White House. I don’t think he has the maturity to serve on the highest court in the land.”

I wrote this as a response to a David Brooks article about the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing where he characterizes the way Americans responded as “tribalism”, a characterization which makes everyone’s motives look inauthentic, which they are not, at least for many of us. I guess I could have said that instead of what I actually said. Anyway this opinion was ruled unacceptable.

Today I responded to a Charles Blow article which I very much agreed with and my comments were judged acceptable. Mr. Blow argues that we are actually in a war, a war of parties, a war of ideologies, a war for the kind of future we will live in.

My comment on Charles Blow’s article in the NYT.

“I would say that the words Republicans like to use as a rallying cry are “limited government”. In a nation of 350+ million limited government as they define it is a ludicrous notion. It argues for defuse governance. It is somewhat equivalent to the fight after the Civil War about who governed local law enforcement. Getting the Federal government to back off gave angry Southerners who lost the war absolute power to terrorize those who they, even after the war, considered their property. Republicans want limited government so that the individual states can do as they please, sometimes about trivial stuff like teaching creationism in schools (or leaving Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller out of textbooks), sometimes about more important issues such as who controls women’s bodies or deregulation and more.

I wrote a book warning that we were already in this war before the 2016 election (way before). The US Republican Constitution: A Nonfiction Constitutional Thriller by N. L. Brisson. It speaks more to strategies than to motives. But it does make it clear that the goal of the GOP was to control all three branches of government”

So have at it and subscribe to a newspaper so you can effectively express your views and get a bigger readership for your passionately-held opinions.

You can also send articles to the editors of most newspapers but look up their editorial guidelines first. All media sources that I have consulted say they will only accept articles that have not been published elsewhere so you can’t recycle. You must write something new.

A Plea to Support Major Media Sources

The New York Times has changed since ownership changed, even though it stayed in the family. The NYT used to be solidly liberal. Now it is trying to be a bit of everything. In fact I see more right-leaning writers on the opinion page than ever since the paper decided to present all points of view. I am sorry for this change. I know that Republicans complain that too much of the media leans left, but they are so extreme that moderate Republicans appear to them to be leaning left. I see this editorial change on the opinion page as, in part, an attempt to escape the most scathing effects of Trump’s diatribes against mainstream media. Also some Republican writers have joined the opposition (sort of). But I’m thinking the real basis for this change is money. Papers, even digital papers, are finding it hard to support themselves, pay reporters and writers and keep going. Appealing to a wider readership brings in more income and helps a paper or online journal survive. You can’t contribute your thoughts unless you subscribe.

Whenever you can afford to, go behind that pay wall and subscribe to your favorite media sources. Democracy cannot survive unless our media survives. At the very least try to subscribe to the New York Times, and, if you can, add on the Washington Post and your local paper (unless like mine it has taken a turn to the right). I also like to read The Daily Beast, Salon, The Hill and need to add The Atlantic. I have managed to pay three subscription fees so far this year, but I may not always be able to do that. If I had to pick one source it would have been the New York Times, but since the editorial changes I am not so sure about that. However, the Times still has enough to keep me somewhat happy for now.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Tennesee Press Assoc.


That Was Humiliating – Kavanaugh Hearings

brett-kavanaugh New York Post

Well that was humiliating – that whole process of confirming Brett Kavanaugh was emblematic of what happens when political parties have to go to war. Democrats are not only a minority party in the Legislative branch, they are demeaned and used as bait by a President who has no ideology but winning (for him and his team, which represents him). Democrats did what their constituents expected them to do. Since Brett Kavanaugh was actually a nomination by the very right wing Federalist Society, he is clearly on that list because he shares the right wing ideology of the President and the Republicans and will vote predictably on their behalf. Democrats do not share Republican ideology, not any of it. They have no recourse but to fight his confirmation.

During confirmation hearings the members of the Judiciary Committee and the Senate as a whole (Republicans and Democrats) typically try to get glimpses of how someone will vote if they are passed through to the courts, in this case the Supreme Court. Recent tradition, which says that nominees cannot give hypothetical verdicts or comment on current cases makes it quite difficult to learn about candidates in any great depth. Usually there is a paper trail of documents and decisions that can be researched to provide possible answers from past rulings and statements to tell us how a nominee will rule in the future. In this case all of the papers from when Kavanaugh worked in the Bush administration were withheld. Some things were known from when Kavanaugh served in the Ken Starr investigation into Bill Clinton’s consensual philandering in the oval office.

Democrats were able to score a few points against Brett Kavanaugh but he basically came off as a saintly husband and father and a well-respected judge on the federal court bench who just happened to have the same beliefs about the human condition and governance as those on the far right of American politics. The Democrats were not able to be very effective. Their points were more like little bee stings to this smiling, confident, relatively young man (who could be on the Supreme Court for 40 years or more). Even the demonstrators, who were very brave to be so assertive in front of such an intimidating group, were dealt with so swiftly that we barely knew their cause.

The Republicans are vindictive in their power. They lord it over the minority. They disparage them. They make it seem like it is pitiful for them to even try to compete with this arrogant bunch of old white men. They dump 42,000 documents on the Dems (which the Republican members have already seen) the night before the hearings. They want to humiliate the Democrats, to bring them to their knees, to make them meekly cave to the might of our nation’s last holdouts from an old, old order. Usually the rules of the game say that you treat the minority party with civility because they might be in the majority again one day. Chuck Grassley’s pretense of civility was somewhat grotesque and more than a little inauthentic. I would guess that Republicans do not think that the Democrats will ever be in power again.

Chuck Grassley, Dianne Feinstein, Patrick Leahy

Diane Feinstein, of course, had a letter from Professor Christine Blasey Ford which the Republicans and, apparently her own party members on the Judiciary knew nothing about. Perhaps she knew that the events described in that letter were like a mine buried in a very big old mine field and that there was no map of that mine field. Perhaps she did not want to ask Dr. Ford to reveal herself unless there was no other option left to the Democrats. Perhaps she withheld it, as Republicans contend, until it could serve as another way to delay the proceedings and cast more shade on Kavanaugh. We may never know.

I believed that Diane Feinstein was sincerely interested in protecting Dr. Ford, if she could, from the Republicans who would be livid in the face of her allegations, who were mostly old men with odd beliefs about men and women and even about rape. But I am a liberal so no one, except possibly other liberals, will agree with me on that. But I am sad for the way Dr. Ford’s efforts turned out. It makes her look like she either tried to help the Democrats with a really great job of acting, or that she really was just a mixed-up broad who was attacked and who just decided that it was Brett Kavanaugh because, we don’t know why.

What began as a polite pause by men who never placed any credence in Blasey-Ford’s memories, but who, because of the #metoo movement felt they had to hold their horses, however impatiently, to let her have a moment, ended up giving these men exactly the moment of derision they hoped to get, even if they did have to suppress evidence to get that tainted victory. If was clear after she gave her testimony that there were problems. So many specifics were missing and she had received no collaboration from her old friend Leland who was supposedly also present at this impromptu party. But that yearbook with all its odd entries that seemed sexual, but which we were told were about drinking, seemed to offer some backup to Ford’s portrayal of Kavanaugh’s character.

So now all we are left with is one university professor and the as-yet-unknown affects her testimony will have on her life, one humiliated elder stateswoman who tried to be kind, a bunch of nasty old men who will get their way once again and be able to subject us all to their reactionary agenda long after they are gone, and a man who will no longer have to pretend to be anything but what he is once he is confirmed to the Supreme Court. I would not want to be on this version of the Supremes. Will Kavanaugh be able to put the mean boy away or will his rulings be his vengeance?

To find out the true nature of a man who was intended to be the easiest confirmation ever to the highest court in the land, who it was felt had bona fides that made him a shoe-in, the perfect proof that the elite men of the 50’s were still being produced on an assembly line near you, but not too near you – after all you never went to Yale, or a private prep school for that matter, that was the task in front of the Democrats, and it was a Herculean task. There will, however, be no heroic outcome, no villain exposed, no pretender vanquished. Instead there may be a backlash against a minority party that just did its job. To put a topper on the whole valiant attempt we have to watch a man who should be a gracious winner, (Mitch McConnell) draw loudly in front of all of America his paranoid conclusions, besmirch the losers with unprovable judgments, and gloat. To put yet another topper on it all, we are told that it made Republicans, who smell blood, more excited to vote in the midterms. Ouch.

Photo Credits: From Google Image Searches – New York Post, The Mercury News