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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.

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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.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Only a Matter of Time

Nobel economics laureate Paul Krugman tweeted on Tuesday that we have "An American first: a president who was obviously mentally ill the moment he took office. Thanks, Comey." Yesterday Arizona congressman Ruben Gallego said Trump is mentally unstable. He also said "This man is not normal. He is not acting normal. And there's nothing that he's done at this point for me that he's proven that I should work with him. And I don't think it's gonna change."

This shouldn't be news. Salon, among others, raised the question of Trump's mental state last April. In February 2016 a website called News Corpse explored the possibility that Trump is suffering from Alzheimer's Disease. Three most common symptoms of Alzheimer's were listed: Impaired judgement, loss of memory and childish behavior. The author concludes by saying "When all of this is taken into account, it seems obvious that there is a problem here that requires attention. Every day Trump validates the notion that he is mentally challenged and unfit to perform the duties of the president. His immature outbursts, his brazen narcissism, and his faulty cognition, are all indications of senility."

Peter Dreier, writing in Alternet, says "Beneath Trump’s public bravado is a deeply insecure, troubled man who is unfit to be president. This makes him a danger to the country and the world."

And, on Friday's PBS NewsHour, commentator David Brooks said Trump's behavior is that of "a 5-year-old who has an ego that needs to be fed, and the universe has to warp around his ego needs so he can feel good about himself, and everybody has to produce photos to make the monarch feel like he’s made of gold."

Talk of Trump's mental state will increase in the coming days (and months) as his behavior becomes increasingly bizarre. He has outdone himself, claiming his inauguration audience was the largest in history, when the turnout in actual historical fact was about one-third the size of Obama's 2009 inauguration. Trump even called the acting head of the National Park Service in an attempt to get him to go along with his inflated claim.

So in the first week of the new president's tenure we have a growing chorus of people questioning his sanity. He won't be around long. Bookmakers are offering 4 to 1 odds that Trump will be impeached within his first six months in office.

I think he will be gone within a month. He is not healthy - weighs about 250 pounds, prefers fast food, doesn't get any meaningful exercise, claims to live on four hours sleep every night, and is angry and blustery much of the time.

If Trump's mental condition doesn't force him to leave office, his physical health will. As the pace of his first week indicates, he has little control over himself. He will die in office. He is not a Superman, or a super man. He is a 70 year-old, overweight crazy guy with bad habits. Irascibility alone will kill him. Pushback against his goofy policies and petty claims will make him continually outraged. It is only a matter of time before he implodes.

So what next? Mike Pence will be our new president, the Constitutional designee to replace the departed president. Pence will try to continue with "Republican" criminality, but will likely face as much opposition as Trump. He wasn't elected president, and wouldn't have become vice president if he hadn't been Trump's choice.

All this instability will be within the context of our house of cards economic system. Our infinite-growth on a finite planet economic system. At a time of increasingly threatening global climate change. Donald Trump will be a bad memory very soon. We will have much greater concerns.

Here's a song. Alternate version. Eddie and the Cruisers. This song is from Trump's favorite campaign band, though he might not like the not-so-subtle message. When will we hear no more from Trump? Sing this song whenever he speaks (or tweets). I suspect many Trump voters feel this way about him now. Alternate version. The originalHere's another song. And, of course, thisSam CookeBruce Springsteen. Here's a song from The Wizard of OzMeet the new boss. The Decemberists. R.E.M. Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Green Day. David Bowie. The End is also the beginning.

A song to make you optimistic.

Here's a song for Trump. Alternate version. Alternate alternate versionHere's another. He likely wishes he could go back to New York City. Could this be in Trump's future? Or this?

Update, January 31:

There are some other reasons why Trump's time in office might be less than four years.

Update, February 9:

A congressman is calling for mental health screenings for presidents. I wish him luck.

More evidence that Trump is mentally unwell.

Update,February 18:

Mental health professionals are calling for Trump's removal from office.

Here's a petition you can sign to have Trump removed from office for manifesting a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States.

Trump or no Trump, climate change continues at full speed.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Not Our President

Below are some pictures from yesterday's Women's March at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, estimated at 75,000 people from a wide spectrum ages and backgrounds.


Here's a song. Here's another. And another. And this. Fill in your own city on this song. Trump tried to steal this song for his campaign - until Neil Young made him stop. When the truth finally comes Trump will be a distant memory. We start by imagining. And maybe even indulging in some make-believe. Bill Withers. Duane EddyLeonard Cohen.

Some might remember this song. Here's some feminist songs. Here's some more.

Read here about the Women's March in cities around the country. Here are some more pictures, around the country, around the world. Here's more. Even more. Washington, D.C., home of our illegitimate president. More nationwide. More from around the world. Even more, from CNN, great pictures. Pictures around the world from the New York Times. Small towns too.

Here's more information on the Madison Women's March.

This is hilarious. This too. SNL did a nice tribute to Obama at the end of the show last night.

Here's an update on Trump the pathological liar. His latest insistent lie, that his crowd was bigger. The poor man is obsessed with size. I wonder why. He should understand this. It's his campaign song.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

A group of "leftists" in Madison is planning to have a "candlelight vigil" on January 20 as a way of showing "solidarity" against the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as our next president. By lighting candles and standing around it is hoped that, umm, the country will come to its senses and overthrow Trump.

Or something. Trump is well on his way to self-destructing, so maybe the vigil will be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Not likely. It probably won't even be covered on local news.

I went to one of these vigils - in 2005. It was a vigil for Cindy Sheehan, the goldstar mother of a soldier killed in Iraq, who had been arrested outside criminal Bush's "ranch" in Texas. It was totally bizarre. People walking around with little candles covered by dixie cups, speaking in hushed tones, speakers speaking of Cindy Sheehan with reverence. It was a quasi-religious event for atheists and fellow-travelers. I went home and quit Veterans for Peace, something I had been planning to do, but hadn't gotten around to it. The vigil was a catalyst.

Another group is having a "Resist Trump" rally earlier in the day. This one will be a more rhetorical, fire and brimstone speechifying, stand up to the man event. It will likely have more people in attendance, but who knows? Maybe both will attract a lot of hopefuls.

I'll be watching the inauguration of TV. It will be a hoot, I'm sure. Buzzfeed posted a comparison of the entertainers at Trump's inauguration versus those at Obama's. I was expecting Trump to have Meat Loaf and Ted Nugent perform, but apparently even he has his limits. No Pat Boone either.

I'm mainly interested in seeing if Trump even shows up. As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, I believe he is a criminal sociopath, and is in early-stage dementia. The interaction of these conditions, as well as other psychological problems, make Trump an extremely erratic and unpredictable character. He is about to become president of the supposedly most powerful nation on Earth, whatever that means, or meant. The job is far beyond his capability, qualifications and experience. He will have nothing but trouble, from the proverbial "Day One." He already is under fierce criticism for his gang of crooks Cabinet appointees.

So much for Trump. He won't be around for long. What we might want to do is figure out how we got into this mess, and hopefully avoid doing it again. In various ways I have been saying for a long time that "leftists" need to get off their high horse and look at what Trump did that "Democrats" didn't.

I can make it easy. He told a story. This is what "Republicans" do. It is what Ronald Reagan did in 1984 with his "Morning in America" TV commercial. George H.W. Bush had his Willie Horton ad. George W. Bush was the "Compassionate Conservative." And now, most absurd of all, Donald Trump with his "Make America Great Again" slogan.

What did Hillary Clinton have? "Stronger Together." She might as well have had "Greater United." It was lifeless, and unlike Trump's Make America Great Again, she used the slogan only as a prop, and didn't integrate it into her campaign.

Linguist George Lakoff was interviewed in Salon last Sunday, and he related how poor "Democrats" are at doing metaphor. He also explained how Trump was able to connect with people on an unconscious, emotional level, whereas Clinton relied on facts. Emotion will trump facts any time, but "Democrats" for some reason refuse to learn this.

It gets worse the farther "left" one goes. The vigil is an attempt to add some metaphor to people's lives, but it is too little too late, and does nothing beyond making people feel connected to others.

What even the candlelight vigil demonstrates, though, is that people need myth and they need ritual. It's all fine and grand to be intellectual and atheist, but metaphor is a need in human life as great as any other. Or, as mythologist Joseph Campbell put it, "It's all metaphor."

So here we are, with the impending doom, it seems, of the Trump presidency. I don't see it that way. To me it is a time of great opportunity. The entire "Republican" party is a criminal organization at this stage of the game, and what better person to be at the head than a blustering buffoon like Donald J. Trump? He is an international laughingstock, a ridiculous excuse for a world leader, and his failure will likely - if we and the "Democrats" use this opportunity wisely - pave the way for the revolution the world so badly needs..

Come up with some metaphors. A good place to start is to tell stories about how valuable government is - how it provides roads, schools, national defense, regulation of industry, clean air, clean water, clean food, national parks, subsidies to farmers, Social Security, veterans benefits, and a host of other goods and services that the private sector cannot or will not. Do it in story. Do it in metaphor. Start today. Tomorrow we get Trump and his perverse story - if he shows up.

Here's the Morning in America commercial.

Here's the Willie Horton ad.

Advertisements that tell a powerful story began with Lyndon Johnson's "Daisy Girl" ad in 1964. He was a "Democrat."

U.S. Blues. Young Americans. Here's a song that was played ad absurdum at the "Ponderosa" in Heidelberg, Germany when I was stationed there decades ago. Here's another Guess Who song. This song was Bernie Sanders' campaign song. It worked, but, as Donald Trump accurately stated, the election was rigged. Sanders at least understands metaphor.

Here's Hillary Clinton's campaign song, a tedious tune that heard once is heard one time too many, as the Washington Post observed.

This Creedence song fits. This too. This Stevie Wonder song fits even better. Pink Floyd. Alternate version. George Harrison.

Here's some Steppenwolf, an album I had when I was a soldier. I bought it at the PX for $2.50, heh.

If all else fails, sing this.

Update, Jan. 20:

Bookies are offering odds on impeachment.

Maybe some insight can be gleaned from Trump's signature.

Here's a theme tune for Trump. Or this.


Update, Jan. 21:

Madison's version of the national women's march brought over 75,000 people. I'll have pictures in my next post.