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While We Still Have Time

In spite of the grimness of the times in which we live, there is still hope. If you feel, like I do, that the usual discourse about matters of critical concern tends to be superficial, misguided, and false, then you might find some solace and inspiration here. I will try to offer insight and a holistic perspective on events and issues, and hopefully serve as a catalyst for raising the level of dialogue on this planet.

My Photo
Location: Madison, Wisconsin, United States

I was born in 1945, shortly before atom bombs were dropped on Japan. I served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1971. I earned master's degrees in Economics and Educational Psychology, and certificates in Web Page Design and as a Teacher of English as a Second Language. I followed an Indian guru for eight years, which immersed me in meditative practices and an attitude of reaching a higher level of being. A blog post listing the meditative practices I have pursued can be seen here.

Friday, June 30, 2017

It's Time to Start Talking Impeachment

Trump's recent tweets should be enough evidence that he is unfit for office, but of greater interest is the looming evidence of his presidential campaign's ties to Russian hackers and his funding from various Russian sources. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is indicating he wants the FBI investigation to end. Trump has been calling the investigation a hoax for months. They have something to hide. They will not be able to keep it hidden.

Still, it is instructive that Trump shows no bottom when it comes to crudity, disrespect and disgracing the presidency. If he has no lower limit in dishonoring the presidency in abusive tweets, he likely has no lower limit about anything. That anything, of course, would include declaring martial law, having his enemies put in jail, or even ordering phony military actions. He should be removed from office. I believe it is only a matter of time before his is removed. The sooner the better.

Right now it is at the fun stage, Trump making such a fool of himself he has become a national  - and international - laughingstock. The fun could end soon, though, so it is best to keep the pressure up. I hope I have been doing my part responding to his tweets. It has been enjoyable, but also is a form of self-degradation getting into the Trump cesspool.

I was mulling this over today, that it is not healthy for a person to self-slime by engaging with Donald J. Trump. It's good to have doubt. Psychopaths/sociopaths like Trump have no doubts, no qualms, no scruples. I finally decided that it is good to be a citizen, and to engage in civic action. I'm not much for joining groups, though I am technically a member of a few environmental organizations - I donate small amounts to them, making me a "member." Writing will have to do.

The tweets back to Trump are easy to do from websites that embed them. I even answered a nasty tweet from Trump's White House social media director Dan Scavino. As it turns out, his qualification for the job is that he was Trump's caddy when he was a teenager.

These are bizarre times, but there have been worse times. World War II was worse. The Great Depression was worse. World War I was worse. The Civil War was worse. The Revolutionary War was worse. In this context Trump is pretty small potatoes. We can and should easily rid ourselves of him . Let's start talking impeachment.

Here's an Impeachment song. Here's another. I'm sure some better ones will be out soon.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Fortunate Sons

If a picture is worth a thousand words, three pictures should be worth at least three thousand words. Maybe more. Whomever the president may be, his or her portrait is shown at veterans hospitals throughout the country, along with a portrait of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

The portrait reveals how the president wishes to be seen by the many thousands of veterans who pass by every day. Worthy of note is that the two most recent presidents did not serve in the military, and the president who preceded them is a deserter. He chose to include a picture of his vice-president in the display. His vice-president also did not serve in the military.

I only took these pictures in passing, didn't have the presence of mind to take one when Clinton was president. As I vaguely remember, his portrait showed him smiling. Clinton did not serve in the military, starting a new trend. All of these men sent people to their deaths, and all of them caused much death and destruction around the planet (except Trump, of course - he hasn't had enough time).

Here's a song. Here's another. And anotherFor Trump.

I suppose these various service-avoiding presidents and vice-president just weren't born to follow.

Update, June 26: The New York Times has published a list of Trump's lies since taking office.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

After Trump

Maybe I'm just seeing what I want to see, but the look in Donald Trump's eyes lately is what I call "the Alzheimer's look." It's a mix of confusion and fear, of not quite having a grasp of what is going on, groping for words, speaking in the most rudimentary, makeshift manner, far below what one expects of the President of the United

Examples are myriad of Trump's poor level of communication. His comments about the death of former prisoner of North Korea Otto Warmbier are typical: "A lot of bad things happened." He also said "It’s a total disgrace, what happened to Otto. It should never, ever be allowed to happen. He should have brought home that same day. The result would have been a lot different."

Trump didn't specify what day that same day might have been, but we can presume it was the day Mr. Warmbier was arrested. He also didn't elaborate on how the imprisonment of an American in North Korea would never, ever be allowed to happen. This is pretty emblematic of Trump's rhetorical style, but the mainstream media give him a pass, saying he's a man of emotion, not eloquence. Or variations on the theme. He's not like other presidents, blah, blah, blah.

The look in Trump's eyes reminds me of Ronald Reagan when he appeared at the funeral of Richard Nixon in 1994. He looked confused, and sometimes afraid. I couldn't find a good picture of that look, but the one on the right will do. He looks confused enough. He may have had the disease while in office.

Which is interesting, if you compare Reagan's speech while in office. Though he spoke mainly from scripts, Ronald Reagan, when he spoke spontaneously, expressed himself more intelligently and clearly than does Trump.

It might not be Alzheimer's disease, but a growing chorus of medical professionals is voicing concern over Trump's mental state.

For most in the news media, and in the ideologentsia (a word I just made up), it doesn't enter the conversation. News breakers and their pundit symbiotists depend for their paychecks on endless talk about what Trump supposedly believes and on what his "policies" are, when he has neither beliefs nor policies. Ideologues on "the left" look for excuses to call him a "right-winger." It is left (not "the left") to comedians, such as Stephen Colbert, to look at Trump the man, a deeply flawed individual with psychological problems.

We might wonder what Trump's declining mental state means for the country. In an era where there are multiple nuclear threats worldwide, it certainly portends danger and catastrophe. There are some who harp on how Trump controls "the football" that holds the "nuclear codes" that can be used to order a missile strike. He could start World War III.

I'm not so pessimistic. At least not about Trump. As far as he is concerned, I have great optimism that he will be out of office by the end of the year, and likely much sooner. Even if he is of sound mind - though evidence indicates otherwise - he is an incompetent. A bumbler, a doofus and a fraud. Though we have had some terrible presidents (Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and both Bushes come to mind), none has shown such thorough inability to perform the task at hand. Eventually his own party - at least the party to which he feigns loyalty - will see him as a liability and even a threat. They will find a way to get rid of him.

More likely, though, is that his progressing mental disease will force him to resign. If he indeed has Alzheimer's disease, it will get worse every day. That, compounded with his other mental challenges, will make Trump an embarrassment even to himself.

The departure of Donald Trump will be of little comfort. Climate change will still be getting more serious. Our unsustainable infinite-growth economic system will still be unsustainable - and closer to its inevitable collapse. The steady decline in our social structure - to say nothing of our physical infrastructure - will continue apace. Our advanced, mass commercial system is not built to solve these problems - and in our case to admit they exist.

Yet exist they do. We will face them when it is too late. Some say it is too late now. Maybe a new approach will work. Something more humble. It doesn't seem likely, but one can always hope. It will take a messiah. Or maybe Quinn the Eskimo.

Here's a song. Alternate version. Alternate alternate version. Reggae version. The Hollies. String Cheese Incident. Phish. Kris Kristofferson. A short and weak version, but The Beatles. It seems that everyone is waiting for Quinn the Eskimo. Let's hope he (or she) gets here before this happens.

Here's the story of the song. The inspiration for it is likely the performance of Anthony Quinn in The Savage Innocents, a movie about the cultural clash between a family of Alaskan Eskimos and the dominant Canadian authorities. Quinn plays the lead character of Inuk the Eskimo.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Ride the Man Down

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s I read a spree of Western novels, starting with the many works of Louis L'Amour, then Max Brand, Luke Short, and finally the legendary Zane Grey. They were all great writers. I got started on the spree by a suggestion from a friend when I lived at the Siddha Yoga ashram in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Louis L'Amour fever quickly spread among ashramites, at least among males. It was one of the more benign fads that would breeze through the facility.

I loved reading these books, and found them full of wisdom and life lessons. Many quotes stuck in my mind, and this one one from The Broken Gun by L'Amour was repeated in many of his stories: "In my dealings with criminals in the past one thing had become obvious, that all were incurable optimists, as well as egotists. They were confident their plans would succeed, and had nothing but contempt for the law and for the law abiding citizen." (p. 95)

A quote from Zane Grey's Shadow on the Trail has come back most prominently in recent months. He used the term "Ride the man down" to describe the dogged determination of Texas Ranger posses to capture a wanted criminal. They would literally run a man down on horseback, chasing him relentlessly until his horse was exhausted and could go no farther.

The entire planet is in a predicament where a lifelong criminal is the chief executive of its richest and most powerful country. All the intelligence agencies have evidence that he was elected with the help of the Russian government. The FBI is hot on the trail, and the special counsel investigating the Russian hacking of the 2016 election, Robert Mueller, is reportedly focusing his attention on possible obstruction of justice by our president, Donald J. Trump.

The Russian hacking is also being investigated by the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate intelligence committees. There are other investigations in addition to these.

The FBI investigation may be enough to bring Trump to justice. He is already attempting to undermine the probe, calling it a witch hunt, and has begun a smear campaign against Mueller. His propaganda supporters at Fox News and elsewhere are helping him.

They may succeed in discrediting Mueller and the Russian hacking investigation, but it isn't likely. Momentum is building against Trump. He is a national embarrassment, making us look like fools to the rest of the world. If we have any self-respect as a people we will help remove Trump from office in whatever way we can. He is the archetypal criminal that Louis L'Amour wrote about - an incurable optimists as well as an egotist. He is confident his plans will succeed, and has nothing but contempt for the law and for the law abiding citizen.

One way is to show support for the FBI investigation by writing to our representatives in Congress. Another is to write to local and national news publications. Social media is another avenue of discourse. Calling radio shows. Yard signs. Bumper stickers. Rallies.

Even watching TV shows like The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Late Night with Seth Meyers helps. They both have been skewering Trump weeknightly with sizzling, insightful comedic rants. Watching them improves their ratings, and paves the way for more incisive criticism across the media spectrum. It's fun too.

We can all be like Texas Rangers, riding the man down. It may seem cruel, but Trump is a dangerous evil, and driving him from office should become our national sport. Each of us, in our own LEGAL way, can ride him down. Saddles up!

Here's a song. Here's another. Leadbelly. I always liked this song. Here's a racing song. Alternate version. Waylon and Willie. Ian and Sylvia. I used to have the album. The Flying Burrito Brothers. Alternate versionHere's a history of the Texas Rangers. Gene Autry. Alternate versionRoy Rogers with the Sons of the Pioneers. More Sons of the Pioneers. Johnny Cash. Asleep at the Wheel. Here's a song for Trump. Substitute 71 for 21. Marty Robbins. More Marty Robbins. Tex Owens.  Alternate version. Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.

For some more on Donald Trump's criminal life, click here.

Here's an update on "Republican" election criminality other than Trump.

Here's a look at Trump's financial interests.

A worthy read.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Answer the Door

It should be clear by now that the "Republican" party in the U.S. is nothing more - or less - than a criminal gang, bought by wealthy donors and obsessed with power, money and fame. If it were not clear before last week's vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, it surely is now. The ongoing attempts at repeal have nothing to do with "ideology" or concern for the "American" people. They have been about spite, cruelty and dispossession of the less-wealthy in favor of the rich.

Among the crimes "Republicans" have been perpetrating in recent years are the various voter suppression activities they have engaged in, including closed polling places, purging voter registrations, blocking people from voting (Florida, 2000, likely turned the "election," elsewhere, repeatedly), and, of course, voter ID laws. In today's The Nation there is a story about how Wisconsin's voter ID law suppressed 200,000 votes in 2016, giving Trump a 22,748 margin of victory in the state.

The litany of "Republican" crimes is endless. Or so it seems. It will take a mammoth effort to unseat them, to say nothing of bringing them to justice. Chauncey DeVega wrote in Salon last weekend that the Republican party is sociopathic, something I have contended for years. He does a great job of explaining how the characteristics of sociopaths match the "Republicans" perfectly. In yesterday's column he said they are political terrorists.

Which raises a question. If the "Republicans" are such blatant criminals, what about the "Democrats?" What have they been doing for the past several decades? Are they pillars of virtue and decency who have been bravely fighting the "Republican" criminals?

The answer is of course no. At best they have been practicing Republican-lite, hoping to appear as "moderate" versions of the "Republicans" to the ever-elusive "center." The center, that is, of the mythical "spectrum" of "left" to "right" that is axiomatic in the conventional wisdom of political know-it-alls, which includes just about everyone who talks about politics.

Former Madison mayor Dave Cieslewicz wrote a column in a local paper in February, titled Lost in Wisconsin, where he raised the question of what the "Democrats" can do to return to prominence. He interviewed some local political "players" to get their views. What they tended to say was that the "Democrats" need to listen to voters.

Duh. This is a meme generated by pundits since the defeat of Hillary Clinton. When former U.S. senator Russ Feingold tried to win his seat back last year, he held voter listening sessions in every county in the state. He lost. He basically ran as himself - Russ Feingold, good guy, son of a Wisconsin shop-keeper, man of the people. He didn't say much about what he was going to do in office, except for a couple of gimmicks to ease student debt and create jobs, calling them the Badger this-or-that. He let his paid consultants control his campaign, repeating the tried-and-failed technique of triangulating - playing reliable constituencies for chumps while wooing the elusive "Center" with nothingness.

I offered my own thoughts on what the "Democrats" could to to displace the "Republican" criminals:

One thing "Democrats" might find useful is to stop saying progressive, progressive, progressive all the time without ever saying what progressive means. In other words, stop talking to yourselves and start communicating with voters. I volunteered in 2010, 2011, 2012 and, sadly, last year. Each time it was ALL about getting out the vote ("GOTV"). No attempt was made to actually communicate with people.

One of the reasons there was no attempt to communicate with voters is that there was nothing to communicate. None of the recent "Democratic" candidates for governor stood for anything except themselves. Even Russ Feingold last year fell for the consultant-driven approach of running for himself, just a nice guy who listens. And a new-found negative campaigning. He deserved to lose, and did. Now he is through. He would have been a decent senator, but his various "Badger" gimmicks and inept self-promotion doomed him to defeat. It wasn't his seat - it was OUR seat - and he lost it.

Next time maybe "Democrats" can run as if they believe in something. Instead of saying progressive, progressive, progressive to each other, they could actually push for progressive taxation. The first step would be to EXPLAIN what progressive taxation IS. It is not the same meaning as progressive, progressive, progressive. Progressive taxation means the rate of tax PROGRESSES as income (or wealth in the case of property tax) increases. Simply put, it means TAX THE RICH. When explaining it you only need to say progressive once.

The same goes for other issues. If you are going to advocate for abortion rights you need to say that abortion is not killing, and that supposed "Christians" are wrong in their posturing "beliefs" that the "Bible" forbids abortion (and a myriad of other things). Pregnancy is part of the process of creating life, not the nurturing of a life that already exists. It is a voluntary activity throughout the process, and only when completed is there a human life in existence. To say this means to stand for something. Otherwise, as "Democrats" have done in the past, it's all about hustling a constituency, getting them out to vote (GOTV).

None of this will happen, sadly, and the more likely prospect is that "Democrats" are licking their chops, counting on the meltdown of Donald Trump to have spread effects all the way to "downballots" in Wisconsin. Meanwhile, "Republicans" will continue to fake standing for something, fooling the voters, then laughing all the way to the bank. Some people never learn.

I added some things I forgot to mention a couple of days later:

I forgot to mention that "Democrats" need to consistently explain that we have a mixed economic system, which combines private enterprise working in concert with government operations. Government is necessary in a mass industrial system to provide goods and services that the private sector cannot or will not provide. Roads, bridges, public transportation, emergency services, regulation of industry, defense, the three branches of government, and more recently retirement and disability insurance, and some guarantees of health care. These government functions are paid for through taxation, which is not a burden but an obligation for citizens in a functioning civilization. As economist Jeffrey Sachs put it, no taxes, no civilization.

We haven't heard any "Democrats" say any of these things in recent decades - except Bernie Sanders - and even he didn't say enough. Again, the main reason that they haven't said these things is that they, like the "Republicans," don't have any real beliefs, and thus have no clue of what to stand for - other than what polling data, focus groups and paid consultants tell them to believe.

The advantage "Republicans" have is that they are genuine sociopaths, and know that they can disguise their true agenda of crony capitalism in emotion-triggering propaganda and scapegoating. Their ongoing scheme of skewing power and wealth to the already powerful and wealthy will continue as long as the opposition tries to play it "safe" by playing reliable constituencies for chumps while wooing the mythical "center" with nothingness.

The only way out of this is for the citizenry to rise up and "drain the swamp," so to speak, of these nothing "Democrats," replacing them with people who believe in and stand for something. Or start a new party, but that doesn't seem to be much of an option.

And so it goes. Trump fired FBI director James Comey today. The Russian hacking investigation is getting too close to home. Nixon déjà vu. To me it is a sign of Trump's desperation. It will only make things worse for him. Opportunity knocketh. We need to answer the door.

When I was volunteering with the "Democrats" to unseat Scott Walker in 2012 I tried to get the "Democratic" candidate to stand for something by writing a letter to the local daily newspaper. I tried again in 2014 with a new candidate. I failed both times.

Here's a song for Trump, but it can apply to our entire corporate-political elite.

Here's a song for us.

I sent Trump this tweet today.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Drugstore Truck Drivin' Man

Today's Salon has a story about a history professor at Yale who is predicting that Donald Trump will attempt a coup d'état within the next year. It certainly is plausible. Trump has an authoritarian manner, is a narcissist, paranoid, vengeful, a grandstanding blowhard, and has little respect for the law. As his presidency continues to fail he may do something desperate to stay in power.

He will likely fail in his efforts, as I suggested in a comment to the article:

There are some countervailing circumstances. Trump very likely is suffering from early stage dementia, and as it progresses he will not only become more erratic, but will arouse public scorn and demands for his removal from office. He also has other mental problems - paranoia, narcissistic personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder (sociopathy). He is showing himself to be a near-total incompetent in the job of president, and as such he will be under increasing pressure and ridicule as a time variable. 

Mr. Drumpf is 70 years old, weighs 250 pounds*, doesn't get enough sleep, and is often in a state of rage. These circumstances militate against his health. As president of the United States he is in a highly stressful job, indeed one of the most stressful jobs on the planet. He is not a strongman or a strong man. As his weakness is revealed he will paint himself further into the corner that he has been painting himself into his entire life. His various mental, physical and ethical deficiencies will act in a synergistic manner, each exacerbating the others.

Then there is growing planetary horror and outrage over Trump's behavior and policies. Mounting opposition will spell defeat wherever he turns.

And, of course, there is Trump's repulsive nature. He and his various minions, themselves not very appealing creatures, are not the types of people that could generate enough support for a successful coup d'état. Though Trump has surrounded himself with generals, they likely are about as loyal to him as they are to their mistresses. His generals are not the cream of the crop, and a successful coup would depend on how much leadership control they have over the upper echelons of the military, as well as the officer corps in general.

Then there is the corporate power infrastructure. Trump is a scam artist, and as such he is a threat to all legitimate enterprise. If he were to stage a coup d'état our economic system would become a total crony capitalist system, and would fail in fairly short order. The business community knows this, and would likely not support a Trump dictatorship. Then there are other countervailing factors, mainly climate change and the unsustainability of our infinite-growth economic system. A Trump dictatorship in an era of climate disruption and economic collapse would be of short duration, should he be able to overcome his mental and physical limitations, and his other challenges. We have much more to be concerned about than a dictatorship of Donald J. Drumpf.

Still, we should prepare. Increase the pressure. Spread the word. Build opposition. Sow discord among his supporters. Boycott his businesses, and the businesses of anyone who supports him. If he does stage a coup, have a general strike. He doesn't have the strength to last.

I could be wrong. I'm wrong a lot. I predicted Trump's downfall last year. I thought Bernie Sanders would win the "Democratic" nomination. This time is different. Momentum is building, not just against Trump, but against the entire direction this country is going. Trump is the best catalyst for change we have had for a long time.

*He may weigh more than 250 pounds, as the linked article from Mother Jones suggests.

From the New Yorker, How Trump Could Get Fired. To hear an interview with the author of the article, click here. From the Washington Post, When is it okay to say the president might be nuts? From the Independent, Trump impeachment a real and growing possibility.

Here's a song. Alternate versionHere's another. And another. Alternate versionCommander Cody. Here's another Commander Cody song, with Nicolette LarsonStevie Wonder.

Joan Baez was inducted into the Rock 'n Roll Hall of fame in April. Here's her acceptance speech.
A fun video.

For those unfamiliar with "American" colloquial expressions, the term drugstore truck drivin' man derives from the expression drugstore cowboy, which refers to boys and young men in the early-to-mid 20th Century who would hang out at the soda fountains and lunch counters that were common in pharmacies and department stores.

Cowboy singer at Texas barbecue, Cibolo Ranch, Texas, May, 2002The original meaning was that a drugstore cowboy would dress in the rugged clothing of a Western cowboy - a ranch hand who would herd cattle while riding a horse, brand them, protect them from predators and rustlers, and even sing to them to keep them calm.

A drugstore cowboy is a phony, a faker who pretends to be a cowboy to impress young women. Similarly, a drugstore truck drivin' man would be someone who pretends to be a truck driver, but who in reality knows nothing about how to drive one. Such as Donald J. Drumpf, president of the United States. It can also be said of him that he's a drugstore president.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Tempting Fate

It may be unwise to respond to Donald Trump's goofy tweets, but it is hard to resist. Huffington Post and other sites make it easy by  embedding his tweets in stories. Such as this one today. Too easy. Shortly after sending my reply the browser crashed.

It mattered little. I just opened another browser and sent a tweet from a different article, about Alec Baldwin tiring of his role  playing Trump on Saturday Night Live.

These were fun tweets, and I tend to do them with a sense of mirth, but sometimes it's painful. Over the weekend Trump tweeted an outrageous accusation that the previous president, Barack Obama, was wiretapping him during last fall's campaign.

This called for a response, so I heeded the call. I try not to do these tweets with malice aforethought. In this case, a mild suggestion that tweeting in the middle of the night might be an unhealthy practice for a seventy-year-old obese man who is under great stress.

Trump retweeted one of my offerings during the election campaign - to one of his sons. None since then. I can't imagine that he would read any of them, but apparently he read at least one.

I only do this if I feel I have something meaningful to say. It isn't often, and I don't use Twitter very much.  An example of more meaningful commentary is an exchange I had on Facebook a few days ago. Former president George W. Bush - he of the invasion and occupation of Iraq based on lies - appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show last Thursday to promote his book of paintings of combat veterans. I only caught the last couple of minutes of the interview, when Kimmel said to Bush "Well thank you so much for being here Mr. President. It has been a real honor."

Twitter wasn't the best way to respond to this, so I posted to the Jimmy Kimmel Show Facebook page:
Celebrities of any kind are intrinsically a mutually gratifying subculture of society. That being the case, a war criminal who stole two presidential elections can appear on a comedy show in an effort to rehabilitate his public image. It works, but it doesn't change the underlying truth that said war criminal and election thief is still a war criminal and election thief, among other things. 
Me in Heidelberg, summer 1970I served three years in the U.S. Army during the time Bush was not showing up for duty in the Texas/Alabama National Guard. I showed up, didn't desert.  Worthy of mention is that Jimmy Kimmel was more than happy to oblige in this mutual gratification ritual, which is necessary for the celebrity culture to reinforce its status. He cried on air about Cecil the Lion, but for the grand farce unleashed by Bush's phony invasion and occupation of Iraq, not so much. It's all show biz.
A woman replied with an angry diatribe, mixing resentment, her family's "100% military" history and Christianity, which I answered without anger, but with intention:
U.S. Army Specialist 5 patch
Hmm. I suppose what your litany is meant to convey is that some people are more "American" than others. My family goes as far back in the U.S. military as the Civil War (Union) and the Cavalry in Wyoming and Montana. I don't know of any in World War I, but in World War II there were several. Vietnam too (Infantry). I "served" during the Vietnam debacle, but not in it. I was sent to Germany, which was surreal enough for me. I didn't kill anyone, and wasn't killed. I call that even. Unlike Bush, I didn't desert. I was tempted a few times, but "soldiered" on. I even made rank, E5, nothing great but not bad either. I could do the "manly" too.
Here's an example.

There is more about Bush. He lied the country into the invasion and occupation of Iraq, but under the rules of "victor's justice" he will never be tried. He authorized kidnapping, torture, false imprisonment and murder. All this, I believe, was to deflect attention from his - and his regime's - active negligence in advance of the attacks of September 11, 2001. For all these crimes he qualifies as a world criminal, and no amount of paintings will absolve him of responsibility. He's a sociopath, and sociopaths have no trouble whatsoever sleeping at night.

I used to be a "Christian." The "Catholic" sect. We were taught that everyone else was going to "Hell," or at best "Purgatory." Pure invention. I walked away after graduating from a "Catholic" college. Now I'm not anything, though I tend towards Buddhist, Taoist and Yogic philosophies and practice. I'm not as diligent as I'd like, but I do what I can.

And, as I thought I made clear, a criminal former president who makes the rounds of entertainment media to show the nation his goodness very likely has an agenda lurking under the surface. A leopard, as the metaphor goes, does not change its spots. An election thief who looked the other way when warned of imminent terrorist attacks, then diverted attention by invading two countries, authorizing kidnapping, false imprisonment, torture and murder can paint himself silly if he wants, but it does not change the world crimes he committed. The best thing I can say about him is that he is a brain-damaged drug and alcohol abuser of many years, and had diminished capacity to think straight. That only mitigates. It does not exonerate.

De nada. We'll all be gone soon enough. It all evens out in the end. I've been around long enough to see that antecedents and consequences don't flow in a Western linear fashion. What happens to Bush in the grand scheme of things is not my concern. If there were any temporal justice in the present he and his cronies would be breaking rocks in the hot sun for the rest of their misspent lives. Here's a song.
We rarely know the effect of what we do. I don't expect Trump to be affected by what I write, but others might see it and get inspired to resist. The Facebook go-around might change a mind or two. I don't think of effect when I write. I just put out what I feel needs to be said. It is only afterward that I think about effect, and I don't think about it very much.  All I can do is do my best and hope for the best. Given our current predicament, we all need to do our best.

Here's a song. Here's another.

Here's one of my theme songs. Here's another. And another, not the original, but good enough. I saw her do this song live here in Madison in 2000, just an amazing performance, more lively than this one. Here's the original on Vimeo. This is another theme song. Same band. And this.

This also is one of my theme songs. Same album. And thisThis too. Can't forget Jimmy CliffAnother Jimmy Cliff. And thisThis.

This is my all-time favorite theme song. I still remember the first time I heard it, It was in May, 1967, weeks before graduating from college, while breaking up with a girlfriend. Or, more accurately, when she was breaking up with me. I remember it as a precious time, when I felt the most affection for her, and this song appeared on my rattletrap car's radio as we drove down University Avenue in St. Paul and Minneapolis.  De nada. I had a lot to learn. Still do. She might appreciate this song.

When I was in Army basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in 1968 I cleaned my rifle to this song a number of times. There must have been an "underground" radio station in nearby Waynesville, because they always played the long version - about the length of time it took to clean an M14. They also played this song a lot, and I may have cleaned my rifle to it as well. I thought there was a long version, but apparently there isn't.

21st Support Command Patch, the overall command for the 1st Support Brigade, which was the next level up for the 66th Maintenance BattalionThis was a theme song during the Kaiserslautern phase of my Army indenture in Germany. It is my favorite Hendrix song. This album was a theme, especially this song. I was only in "K-Town" for nine months, then transferred to Heidelberg, where I spent the next year-and-nine months. There were many theme songs in Heidelberg. Here's one of them. I hope YT doesn't remove it. Here's another. And this. This album. This song, but really the entire Blind Faith album. This entire album too, especially this song. This Country Joe and the Fish song. This Who song was on a greatest hits album I bought at the PX. This song was also on the album, as was this. This too, a total surprise. A couple of instrumentals became theme music, one by Quicksilver Messenger, and the other by Santana.

I got out of the Army in July 1971. This song was in the background that summer. In early 1972 I started working as a substitute teacher and took some classes at the local community college. I was getting in the groove of going to graduate school. Two songs were prominent in my consciousness that spring, one by Jackson Browne, and the other by the Eagles. This Neil Young song too. I bought two albums that spring that became my themes for transition, one by Joni Mitchell, and the other by the Allman Brothers.

When I started graduate school in Economics in the summer of 1972 this song was playing on AM radio all the time, it seemed. It fit with what I was going through at the time, and became a theme song off-and-on ever since. This isn't a theme song, but during that time in graduate school the local "underground" station played it many times. It is in my DNA. In 1973 this song appeared, and has been part of my soundtrack ever since.

Simper Fi

Salon had a story Monday about the Marines who posted nude photos of their female colleagues. I wrote a comment from my Army experience that sheds a bit of light, I hope. If you want to read it from the Salon site, click here. Or, read below:

In 1968 and early 1969 I studied the manly art of projector repair at Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey. My classmates were mostly pikers like me, but there were a couple of Marines in the class - a sergeant and a corporal. The sergeant was a "lifer," a dimwitted cliche of career NCOs. He tried to make us do pushups during our breaks. That happened once, then the Army caught wind of it, and let him know he was just another student, a guest who could easily be sent back to Quanico, Paris Island, Camp Lejeune, or wherever he came from. I think it was Camp Pendleton, of Surfer Joe fame.

The corporal was a one-termer, but had signed up for a six-year commitment, and still had a couple of years left, hence the course in projector repair, which the Marines did not have.

One day during a break the corporal told us a story of his time in Vietnam that I never forgot. He said they found out a guy in their unit was gay, and he was forced to fellate everyone in the unit, which if I remember right, was a platoon. Typically there are four squads to a platoon, and 12 men in each squad, or 48 men total at full strength. That would mean a forced oral sodomy by 48 men.

I asked the corporal if he took part in the episode. He replied "Sure! If it meant gettin' my dick sucked for free, why not?"

Such is the esprit de Marine Corps. Some might remember the boot camp scene from "Full Metal Jacket." The guy playing the drill instructor - R. Lee Ermey - had been a real drill instructor in the Marines. It wasn't an act. Army basic training was pretty crude and sexualized (I want to every swingin' dick out of that barracks in two minutes!), but the Marines are of a different order.

So it was inevitable that this would happen. With women playing an increasing role in all the armed services, they have become automatic targets for harassment, assault, humiliation and objectification. In a combat situation some will likely suffer the same fate as the gay Marine in Vietnam.

There are a few ways out of this: Abolish the Marine Corps, make it smaller, or, heaven forbid, stop having wars. If we were to put the Bush criminal regime on trial for its many war crimes, maybe our "leaders" wouldn't be so zealous about invading, bombing and occupying around the planet.

I followed that comment with another, explaining a bit about Fort Monmouth:

Most of the projector repair course was in 1968. Fort Monmouth was a fairly easy base. The service club gave out Broadway theater tickets, New York Jets football tickets, and others. A barracks-mate and I got tickets to the Ed McMahon "Snap Judgement" TV show. It was pretty ignominious, but for a private in the Army on weekend pass, good enough. Fort Monmouth was where Julius Rosenberg worked when he was spying for the Russians.

R.I.P. Clyde Stubblefield. He was the "funky drummer" in James Brown's band, "the most sampled drummer in hip-hop history." He lived in Madison for many years until he died February 18. I only saw him play once, with his great blues band. He held court from his drum kit. I still remember his smokin' version of Mustang Sally. Here's his blues band at the High Noon Saloon in Madison.

Clyde was a thoroughly decent guy, greeted people at the door. I saw him in 2010 at a forum about African American music during the Vietnam war. He toured there with James Brown. He was the voice of calm and reserve, when Madison "leftists" in the audience tried to dominate the dialogue with their various claims of "We were here stopping the war, blah, blah, blah." I walked out. In some ways he was too good for this town, though within the music culture he was a king.

At Ed Garvey's victory party. He may not have won the election, but he won the battle of integrity.R.I.P. Ed Garvey. I volunteered for his campaign when he ran for governor in 1998. I had a time on election night standing on the corner of Mineral Point and Gammon Road - next to Madison's West Towne Mall - waving a big sign with the names Ed Garvey, Tammy Baldwin and Russ Feingold on it.  Baldwin and Feingold won. Garvey didn't. I also volunteered at his law office in 1995 for the short-lived congressional campaign of Madison physician Gene Farley.

It was a great experience. Gene Farley was a true gem of a human being, as was his wife Linda. Being around them was a meditative experience. Unfortunately Farley dropped out of the race when Madison mayor Paul Soglin entered the race. Volunteering for both of these campaigns was the purest form of political activity I have ever been involved in. The "Democratic" party of Wisconsin gave no assistance to either of these campaigns. They wanted hack candidates.

Update, March 11:

The nude photo scandal is expanding beyond the Marine Corps.

Here's a song for someone I met today. Here's another. Alternate version. Alternate alternate version. Chet AtkinsHere's the original hit, though this was the first recording.

Here's a Fresh Air interview I missed, something Hitler fans might find disturbing.

Here's a song for Trump. Here's another. Woody Guthrie.