Sunday, January 29, 2017

Week One

This year is the 200th anniversary of Thoreau’s birth, and we need civil disobedience more than ever.

I completely understand why many people didn’t want Clinton to be president. But though I’ve never been someone who bothered voting for the lesser of two evils, I did this time because the vileness of Trump was not only obvious but also something that he was clearly proud of.  At election time, I didn’t understand how anyone who claimed to see Clinton’s corruption and other failings could not see that Trump’s were many times worse. But after a week of him in office, deplorable is much too good of a word to describe anyone who still supports him. This is a man whose behavior and temperament would get him fired from almost any job in the country. Psychiatrists and historians are going to get rich writing books about him and his supporters.

Looking over headlines this morning, I saw the following adjectives for Trump and his policies: cowardly, dangerous, useless, awkward, un-American, and erratic. We need lots of press coverage like that to tell the truth instead of the alternative facts. So much is happening every day that it’s hard to keep up, but we need to stay aware.

The federal employees and scientists at NPS, EPA, NASA and other agencies who are choosing truth over Trump’s agenda, and the secret service agent not wanting to take a bullet for him, are heroes and we need more of them. Every species and the planet they live on needs them. The Doomsday Clock—does anybody really know what time it is? Al Gore has arranged for a conference to replace a canceled CDC conference. Even if all the rogue and alt social media accounts aren’t run by actual employees, we need them. We need the t-shirts and patches and caps they’re all going to be selling—we need to be visible every day.

Trump wants to eliminate support for the national endowments for the arts and humanities. We need more songs and videos like the previous post, more songs like those described in a book I just started reading, 33 Revolutions Per Minute: A History of Protest Songs, from Billie Holiday to Green Day. We need more plays and movies and novels, more dance, more paintings, more support for education and libraries. The arts help people learn there is more to life than the money and power which drive Trump.

Trump wants to demean and control women’s lives, but is finding out that pussy grabs back. I looked for an inauguration day protest here but found only an evening church gathering which didn’t appeal to me. I was working on the day of the women’s march, though I would have changed that if I’d realized there was one here. 1400 people showed up in Duluth, not bad considering the many who went to DC or St Paul for larger marches. 

Honestly, in the aftermath, I thought that although the marches were great as comfort and support for those of us horrified by the election results, they didn’t really mean much because I doubted there were any Trump voters marching, and the largest were in blue states which had already had their larger vote totals declared irrelevant by our election system. But a few days later I was looking through an Amazon forum I used to be a member of, and saw many pre-march comments from middle class women whose screen names I recognized from years of conversations. They wrote about how they were afraid and nervous about going to these marches but felt they had to stand up and be counted to oppose Trump. And so I realized the value of the marches I hadn’t recognized before—we need these newcomers, and we need a lot of them.

Trump wants to directly eliminate support for Amtrak and DC’s Metro, and indirectly for all other transit systems—those city people don’t support him, and they’re not using enough oil. I expect people are going to die at Standing Rock.

Everyone’s going to have health insurance—we’ll start by taking away what they have now. Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare—the hell with those, just invest in the stock market. We need mayors of sanctuary cities and governors of blue states to be strong and creative because we’re all on the enemies list. We need Republicans who opposed Trump during the campaign to now say, “Well, we gave it a try, but this guy really is nuts and we have to stop him.” 

Trump likes to pretend he’s a successful businessman despite his string of bankruptcies. We need corporations to oppose his plans. So far, I’ve noticed complaints from FedEx, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Netflix, and Facebook, as well as smaller companies.

We need the world’s governments to oppose Trump, and we need the UN to take our name. We need more religious leaders to condemn Trump as a phony Christian. Several Republican senators and representatives have spoken against his immigration policy and that he has replaced the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence with Breitbart’s Bannon in security meetings (because Trump’s sure he already knows more than anyone else and only wants to hear from those who agree—he’s, like, smart)—we especially need more of those Republicans. We need more judges to stay his orders. When I read about that, I imagined him sputtering, “They can’t do that, I’m the king”, and firing off tweets about fake laws. Supposedly concerned about terrorism, Trump is likely going to create much more, both from abroad and from American citizens.

I could go on like this forever, because every day brings new levels of stupidity. I did reserve the site for the Old, White, and Blue blog I had mentioned, thinking that I might start it at the beginning of the year or after his inauguration, but I decided there was just too much to write about and I didn’t want to spend all my time angry or depressed trying to keep up with it.  We do need every form of resistance we can come up with—overt and covert, written and spoken, broadcast and podcast, in the streets (and airports) and online, but we do need to refresh ourselves as well. 

I’m not a flag-waver—if I had the money to finance the move, I would not be living in this country. That’s not just a reaction to Trump and the type of people who voted for him, although I certainly would have left since the election. I’ve never shared the country’s dominant values of greed and shallowness and religion, and if I’d been a few years older and drafted certainly would have gone to Canada, not Vietnam. I love the land and wildlife here which Trump and his ilk are eager to destroy, but as to the human aspect have long wished I’d been born in Europe. When I researched the continent decades ago, it seemed somewhere in Scandinavia would have been the best fit for me. But rather than moving, I took the easy way out of having as little to do with the mainstream US as possible. Now I’m paying the price for choosing to be a bad capitalist.

My preferred solution to this country’s deep division has long been that the country voluntarily split in two (or more) with each person free to choose where they lived. Whichever side you’re on, what is the point of having constant aggravation in your life? Any marriage with this deep-seated antipathy would have ended in divorce long ago. But it’s too late for that now. 

At this point, I don’t care if it’s a lone gunman or a coup, if we make his thin-skinned head explode from constant opposition, or if Daenerys rides in on a dragon—the country and the world needs to be rid of this asshole as soon as possible. I suspect most people who’ve agreed with me so far would distance themselves here and say no, no, no violence. I’d remind them that this country would not even exist if people hadn’t been willing to be violent when needed, that Thoreau gave speeches in support of John Brown, and that following the rules is what got us here.

My only ambivalence about Trump being assassinated would have nothing to do with the morality of it, just as I think killing Hitler early in his career would have made the world a better place and saved many lives. My concern would be the reaction of his supporters, but I think there will be trouble even if he lives long enough to lose in 2020, or lasts two terms until 2024. I can’t envision the lunatic ever peacefully or voluntarily leaving the White House. He’s not even content to be there via the Electoral College; he needs to keep spouting lies about voter fraud to explain why millions more people voted against him than for him.

What do you think the country will be like in 2062, the 200th anniversary of Thoreau’s death? 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Dean on Trump

“I don’t think Richard Nixon even comes close to the level of corruption we already know about Trump.”

“By nature, I am an optimist,” he told me. “But Trump as president is going to be about surviving disaster.”

Friday, December 30, 2016


I was waiting for a bus the other day ago when a couple walked near me, stopped as they looked through their pockets and bags, then started walking again.

She looked back and said, "You don't have any rolling papers, do you?"

I said, "No."

She smiled and said, "Twenty years ago, maybe?"

I said, "Thirty, maybe."


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Autobobography XII—Not Dark Yet

It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.

That quote and this post weren’t intended to be about the election, but it would certainly apply. I’ve never been someone who cared too much about other people’s opinion of me, but I have always tried to make clear that I wasn’t part of the establishment white men. I’ve mostly stuck with the appearance of my youth—jeans, beard, long hair—throughout my life, but now I’m an old white man at a time when many consider them the enemy or something to be afraid of. 

I’ve found myself wondering what t-shirt slogan would be good to adopt to reassure people. I thought of Better Dead than Red and discovered that it’s already been used in multiple versions, and let’s face it, that might make some of the gun nuts start taking target practice. Then I came up with one which at first glance doesn’t appear on the internet in this sense—Old, White, and Blue—and which works on several levels. If I were starting a new blog, that’s what I’d name it.

Now on to the originally scheduled post. I can imagine people reading this and thinking, whoa, that’s pretty damn dark! So let’s stipulate from the beginning that dark here is a synonym for dead. 

Through my life, I’ve had generally good health, usually more due to genetics than much effort on my part, and know that many better people were dead long before reaching my age. My biggest physical problem has been kidney stones. I’ve just gotten over my fifth case of them, and the first which resulted in surgery (more because of poor medical care than necessity in my opinion). It was my first surgery since I had my tonsils out. I spent a very unhelpful day in the emergency room in mid-October which I wrote about here, then out of desperation when my preferred cheaper and simpler (and successful on all previous occasions) treatment of steady IV fluids and strong painkillers was not even attempted, I wound up gassed, scoped, lasered, and stented in mid-November. I gave thanks when the incredibly painful stent was removed a couple days before Thanksgiving, though my prostate issues seem to have gotten worse in the aftermath of all this.

The only good thing about the past month was that the pain and lack of appetite brought me under 200 pounds for first time in five years. Of course, Thanksgiving and my first beers in a month put an end to that, but I’m hoping to drop back down soon.

Emotionally, life has always been a struggle for me. I remember holding a knife to my wrist as a teenager—not seriously considering suicide (and though I’ve always considered it my likely end if I live long enough, I’ve never attempted it) but thinking that it would be a relief to be rid of all the pain. Many childhoods are worse, but mine would never be described as good and I think between that and the flipside of those genetics, I never had much of a chance at an average life.

I decided while a teenager that I didn’t want children, or much else from a typical American Dream life. I never wanted a house, never accumulated much stuff other than books and records, and I always hated driving until I gave it up for good in my late twenties. My main philosophy was that I wanted to do as little damage to the world as possible while alive (not easy given how destructive our U.S. lives are).

I’ve gotten along but I never had any ambition to do anything in particular because I never really believed that it was possible for anything good to happen, so trying to reach some goal was pointless. I spent my life playing defense, trying to avoid extra pain because just getting through each routine day was difficult enough. I learned that falling in love was nice, but I wasn’t equipped to handle the breakups—almost dropping out of college during my senior year was just the first example. So I decided it was safer to try to keep myself blocked off from the only kind of intimacy where I was ever completely comfortable with another person. Nonhumans have always gotten most of my affection; I’d love to be living with a cat again but circumstances and age make that a bad idea so I get my animal fix where I can.

My former therapist (a non-MD) once offered me a referral if I was interested in antidepressants. Like almost all modern pharmaceuticals, I wanted nothing to do with them. I always knew that my depression was at least as much a worldview as a chemical issue, and though it certainly deeply and negatively affected my life I never suffered the complete debilitation that those who truly need the drugs do. My issue was closer to what a Swiss suicide clinic refers to as weariness of life—I’ve always been profoundly disturbed by the behavior of my species, and increasingly tired of seeing what I care about destroyed.

Perhaps I need to reassure that this is not a suicide note. If I were ready, I would have done myself in during the past month rather than deal with all the physical kidney pain and the ongoing embarrassing horror of the asshole who won the electoral college.

Reading, listening to music, and looking at the Lake usually keeps me content enough, but I have no interest in ever living blind, or in a wheelchair, or having major surgery. Hell, I don’t even want to work full time anymore, and I’m not at all sure I can force myself to keep earning enough to keep a roof over my head until I can start collecting social security.

I do think suicide should be a much more easily available and dignified option for people. Beyond the glaring fact that the planet needs a lot fewer humans on it, people deserve the same sort of treatment pets receive. If the time comes when I want to avoid pointless pain and decay or I can’t take seeing more of the natural world damaged, I should be able to do that on my terms simply and peacefully in my home with music and photos of my life, or looking at the Lake or the Rockies or the Atlantic. I shouldn’t have to use violence or a gun—if I kill myself, it won’t be out of self-hatred, but from disappointment.

This concludes this series of boring stories of glory days.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Getting Warmer

Four ships on the Lake this morning,

Bald eagle in a tree above, harassed by crows.

Tin soldiers and Trump is coming,

Amerikkka’s reality TV,

Kardashian VP? No need,

First lady has fake bimbo covered.

O Canada, my cries of passion,

Grab me by the penis,

Annex me! Annex me! Annex me!