A sundry assortment of cloudy mournings: RIP GOP

In looking into the continuing miasma of malaise filled with complete disillusionment that the GOP party has a patriotic bone left somewhere, anywhere, I’m diving in. Yes, that last sentence is a piece of work, but we’re in mourning for the dad gone all opioid addict punch drunk on money and power in our two-party system struggle towards a more perfect union.


How exciting that low friends in high places have been charged with high crimes! Money laundering, conspiracy against the United States. I’m talking Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos here.

Manafort was not so much of a surprise. And I did not know much about Gates or Papadopoulos until today when it was reported that Papa D rolled three weeks ago. Whoa! I can feel the intrigue and suspense building already.

I have a hard time keeping all the players, timelines, and plot points straight so I cross my fingers that John Grisham, Scott Turow, or Lisa Scottoline write a novel(s) that makes all these connections clear to me.  (Note to novelists: Throw in some Russian mob, some religious fanatics and white supremacists for entertainment on the side and I’ll curl up with that page turner and hot tea on a rainy day. Yes, I am shamelessly pandering for a political thriller. Even Cliff Notes on this whole shit storm would be appreciated.)

But first, back to mourning.

The reaction of Precsedense aka POTUS Trump to the news that people he barely knew were indicted in the Mueller investigation was to Tweet: ‘But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus??’

Well, I’ll take a crack at an answer. Because Crooked Hillary isn’t POTUS. Because Crooked Hillary and the Dems are not in the majority across three branches of government. And well, because there is some evidence that a foreign government messed with the election which gave you Prescedense, you continue conducting your business as if you were not head of state, and you have not released your income taxes.

Releasing your income taxes even to a select committee would go a long way toward reassuring those of us who didn’t vote for you regarding Russian interference in the election, influence in the White House.

Or impeachment.

I mourn that when I type Prescedense, dense really stands out today.


I mourn that the GOP, the party that is concerned with voter fraud is not outraged at the very real, substantive possibility that a foreign country interfered in the 2016 election.¹

As I get older, forgetfulness waxes. Remind me where I voted. Remind me who I voted for. It seems I pose a bigger threat to the GOP than meddlesome dictators abroad.


In continuing this theme of wallowing in a political morass of sadness,² I mourn that the person sitting President of the US has no self-constraint, that in his attention deficient disordered addle he dumps a can of gas, tweets to light a fire and thinks we can’t see what he’s doing.

We’re getting better at managing all the distractions and we see what you did there. We can see your lips moving, we can see the string on the dummy.

I mourn that I am in full agreement with Rex Tillerson.³


I mourn that the official portrait of the Prescedense could be used for the definition of ‘drama queen’ in the dictionary and I would not be outraged or surprised.


I mourn the cognitive disconnect of a Prescedense who can slash the advertising budget for health care insurance while offering advertising as an appropriate solution to the opioid epidemic. While this may be the sincerest form of flattery for Nancy “just say no” Reagan by ripping a page from her playbook, this problem needs a bigger stick.

And here I am again agreeing with the Tillerson moron observation.³ Egad.


I mourn that the GOP promotes life starting at conception but withholds support throughout life until death at which point they pick up again by lowering estate taxes.

And I smile that I worked the two certainties — death and taxes — into a last mournful sentence.

RIP GOP.


I stop now.

Send Kleenex.


¹ Russia. All the way up to Vlad. Vladimir Putin maybe. Prescedense has as much as admitted a bromance with the man. And his horse.

² Overwrought sentence. Oh for crying out loud. Which I guess we are. So there’s that.

³ ICYMI, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a moron.

Unintended consequences.

While waiting for an oil change for my car today, I was browsing through products on the Houzz app. Due to the ‘view in my room‘ option, I was able to electronically redecorate the waiting area. I placed new seating, a new rug. It would still probably pick up a little whiff of oil but I could see that it would be so much more comfortable.

And home now, I can visualize a pink or a maize tea kettle feature on the front lawn in the manner of a Claes Oldenburg sculpture. Or maybe it should be a large red mixer.

I should probably alert the neighbors.

And I’m pretty sure providing waiting room entertainment and whimsical lawn art considerations is not the use for ‘view in my room‘ the good folks at Houzz intended.

Oh well. Carry on.

The Lathe of Heaven

Listening to Billy Collins read the poem The Revenant on the drive to the dog’s vet appointment this morning, I was reminded of how hard it is when a pet dies. And as thoughts are bound to wander while listening to a former US poet laureate recite his poems, my thoughts meandered to the premise of The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin.

In The Lathe of Heaven, the protagonist can change reality by “effectively dreaming.” Dreams or nightmares become real.

I wondered where, what, and how would I handle the dog if I needed to prepare for a hurricane. I just don’t know, and I hope I never find out. He would be an accessory to bigger problems.

And I thought of Puerto Rico. Overnight it became a nightmare.  Life up-ended.  They have prepared for hurricanes before and (my guess) is that things return to normal in a humane amount of time. Prepare. Hunker down. We’ve been through this before. We’ll get through it again.

But this time the lathe of heaven turned. A month later? Still no power. The new normal is not normal. A very dark island. Life took a turn for the worse. Return to normal in a humane amount of time? If only ‘humane’ was in Prescedense Trump’s vocabulary. We’re pretty sure ‘normal’ isn’t.


Today I reflect on my good fortune that my own lifelong story arc has been consistent and measured improvement. Internet speeds? Check. Especially since there was no internet when I was a kid.  Only bunny ears. (See also first world problems.)

Through seasons, through the years, the landscape where I live may be modified, but it has remained intact. Food? Check . Grocery stores are stocked. Potable tap water? Check. Electrification of anything I need? A plug away, check.  If I need it, I can get it.

The Puerto Rican experience? I just don’t know, and I hope I never find out.

Drugs, history, and the Presidency.

Almost any day now, President Trump will declare a national opioid epidemic.

Or not.

I’d like to take a moment to reflect on Obama breaking into an amazing spontaneous cover of “Amazing Graze” at the funeral of South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney. In doing so, he called down grace on the nation reminding us to look beyond our own skin. He embiggened¹ us all. (Reminder: Pinckney was killed when the terroriam² Dylann Roof shot up the prayer service at the Emanual African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charlottesville.)

Meanwhile P.T. Rump offered solace to a grieving widow by way of an observation that the soldier, Sgt. La David T. Johnson, “must’ve known what he signed up for.” And to those horrified by Trump’s far from Presidential behavior, I would offer that unlike Sgt. Johnson, he had no idea what he signed up for. He is a displaced grifter. He didn’t know the audience watching center ring of the political circus expects results!

Aside: Gaslight, gaslight, gaslight, gaslight. Four (4) servicemen were killed in Niger on October 4 and due to the ongoing cage match between P. T. Rump and the office of the President of the US, or due to our collective lack of focus, or due to the daily deluge of <insert horror here news>, the Niger imbroglio was a passing blip in my news feed.

But back to drugs.

President Obama? Our very own Jimmy Carter on steroids.

Followed by President Trump. Our very own Ronald Reagan on meth.

And I really wish that comparison was funny.


¹Embiggen(v.)/embiggened(v.)/embiggening(n.): (a word mash-up of em-, big, and -en): The act of inflating items to be perceptibly larger. Especially useful when referring to esoteric and abstract embiggenings. (Hat Tip: Mr. Viva. Thank you.)

Em (prefix): ” ‘come into a certain state.’ Created to expand meanings. Can be used with many words to form new words.”

Big: of considerable size, extent or intensity

-En: forming verbs

Example: Sentencing terroriam² Dylann Roof to nine (9) consecutive life sentences without possibility for parole embiggens the hope in us that once in a while justice happens.

²Terroriam(s) (a pejorative adjective or noun, pronounced terror-AYE-am): a person (or persons) who uses unlawful violence and intimidation to impart extreme fear in pursuit of egotistical embiggening.²

Example: Terroriam Dylann Roof was given nine consecutive life sentences without possibility for parole.

There are all kinds of reasons Dylann Roof wasn’t called a terrorist.  The qualifier ‘in the pursuit of political aims‘ is present in the noun and adjective forms of terrorism. Even though Mr. Roof’s stated goal was a race war which to me seems political, according to legal scholars and white bullshit artists, his was a hate crime and he was not the picture of a terrorist.

However, as the definition of terror is extreme fear and Dylann Roof took a whole lot of time to inflict extreme fear, next to the definition of terroriam in the expanding Viva dictionary is a picture of Dylann Roof.

 

Sandra Bland, July 2015.

July 10, 2015, the police dashcam video of Sandra Bland’s arrest. (After an exchange with another driver, the action starts at 1:20 mark followed by several minutes of inaction. Return to exchange with police at 8:30 mark, escalates very quickly at 9:30.)

Sandra Bland. An African-American woman stopped by police for a traffic violation. Three days later, Ms. Bland was found hanging in a police holding cell.

Dead.

Death by traffic violation. Not in a traffic accident.  A traffic violation. Let that sink in.

Ms. Bland’s auto maneuvers look like my driving.  At 8:50 when Ms. Bland explained her speeding up and pulling over, I agreed.  “Yep, that’s what I’d do too.  Get out of the way of the flashing lights on the way to catch a criminal or help someone in need somewhere or maintain the peace. This is me getting out of your way!”

And then it turns out I am the pursued. I am the violator, the target of rollers. Well, I would be incredulous too. “What!? Me? Huh?” Up to that moment, the preamble of events, I could be the driver. I could be Sandra Bland.

But the story takes a dark, unexpected turn at the 9:30 mark. Escalation to resisting arrest for a failure to signal? A failure to douse her cigarette? She was not in a posted no-smoking zone. She was in her car. Her car. Her own car.

Failure to signal. Resisting arrest. Three days in a jail cell. Dead. Sandra Bland breaks me. Sandra Bland was an African-American woman.

I am white.

Dollars to donuts that by the 9:45 mark, smoking or not, I would have been signaling to pull onto the road. Driving along my little way a little more careful.  Ticketed or not.

Alive.

Gun control, statistics, & media click-bait.

Hmmm, so okay. I read Leah Libresco’s opinion piece because of her chops and because of its catchy title. “I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise.“¹

Leah Libresco is a statistician and I have invested mightily in statistics and big data these last few years in the form of college tuition for Frood.² With great interest I wondered what Ms. Libresco & her cohorts at FiveThirtyEight had uncovered in the three (3) months of analysis on the 33,000 lives ended by guns each year in the United States.

Her conclusion that the majority of gun deaths need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis reads like an NRA apologetic-not-apologetic explainer. And I wonder at the analysis that took three months for very smart people to reach a fairly obvious conclusion, but whatevs.

Or perhaps Ms. Libresco can be given a pass for having insufficient data. Since 1996, the CDC has suspended research on gun violence since federal monies cannot be used to “advocate for or promote gun control.” Academia holds hush-hush meetings to discuss a public health problem of the same magnitude as hypertension and liver disease²  while the NRA actively puts its dollars in the pockets of pols to ensure its role as silencer for an open discussion of gun violence as a public health problem.

Meanwhile, data on gun violence for the last 21 years has gone missing. On purpose.

Or perhaps Ms. Libresco, in concert with the Washington Post and the New Hampshire Union Leader took advantage of the Las Vegas shooting to publish a paper that diverts the discussion of assault weaponry and gun control back to singular deaths due to gun violence.  Nice redirection away from the issue at hand. I hope the click-bait traffic was worth it.  You had our attention.

Yes, we’re keen on the methods that can be used to curb individual gun deaths and violence, but after the bullets raining down from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino by a lone gunman armed with assault rifles and bump stock boosters, the questions we need answered look like “Isn’t it a bit too easy to procure weapons of mass destruction posing as ‘guns’?” and “Isn’t there something we could do to make it least as hard to obtain firearms and firearm swag as it is to obtain a driver’s license or buy a car?”


It is not legal for me to operate my car without insurance. Sure I can drive my car as long as I don’t get caught, but woe is me if I do.  Could the insurance industry help us out here? Perhaps gun owners need to have additional insurance to carry a gun.

I’m sending up a flare, but insurance isn’t mentioned in the 2nd amendment. Since gun violence and mass shootings are a tax on all of us, it would seem that gun owners should carry insurance to hold against the possibility of running a red-light so to speak. Accidentally breaking the law. Shooting the wrong dude. Shooting oneself in the foot.

My taxes pay for gun owners right to carry in the form of the 33,000 lives lost to gun deaths every year. Why do I have to subsidize your right to bear arms?*

Insurance to cover gun ownership. Hmmm, we’re back to statistics with dollars.

I just might be able to get behind that.


In answer to the question: Was the Las Vegas shooting the worst in US history?  the Washington Post unhelpfully posts a video with information on the East St. Louis Race Riots of 1917 and the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890. The implication is that these events are analogous to, and possibly worse than Sandy Hook, the Pulse nightclub, the Las Vegas Rte 91 Harvest Festival shootings and all the other mass shootings. Ugh.

Shame on you Washington Post! Just stop. Just.stop.it.

These two events and the deaths cited were not due to an individual lone gunman acting alone using rapid fire assault weapons. The East St. Louis Race Riots and the Wounded Knee Massacre were clashes between groups of people.


¹Libresco, Leah. “I used to think gun control was the answer; my research told me otherwise.” New Hampshire Union Leader. 07 October 2017 11:13 PM. Web. 10 October 2017.

² Frood. Not her real name but she knows where her towel is.

² Schatz, Bryan. “Congress Gutted Researchers’ Ability to Study Gun Violence. Now They’re Fighting Back.” Mother Jones. 20 January 2017. Web. 10 October 2017.

*This is a similar argument to the mens and religious organizations who don’t want to pay for birth control for women. It’s a stoopid argument, but I’m willing to put it forth for gun control if it would get some traction and action.  Just sayin.’