Category Archives: Liberal ideas

The Doofus Divide

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I am trying to cut down on political notions and noodling in this blog.  It is like sugar to a humor writer.  The easy laughs are sweet, but if you are diabetic, they will eventually build up and kill you.

But between Twitter-tweeting twit-wits and Facebook false-fact fools, I keep getting drawn back in.  The gang of kids I grew up with in Iowa are seriously infected with Tea Party propaganda now that they are old coots like me, and continue to vote for Teabagger trolls (And I mean literal trolls.  Steve King, Congressman from Iowa, has green skin and lives under a bridge… and maybe eats foolish children when they try to cross) for public office.  And of course, I live now in Texas where gun-toting cowboys look at you intently to find any possible reason to shoot you and then thank Jesus if you are fool enough to give them one (like admitting to be mostly a Democrat in your political persuasion).  They want to argue anything and everything I post on Facebook.  Apparently even my bird pictures and cat videos politically offend them.

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Oooh!  This one really offends Teabaggers… especially the ones who make $25/hr or less.

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Can you pick out the Trump voters in this line?  All of them maybe?

And I am not suggesting that people who voted Republican in the last election aren’t as smart as my side.  I waited until now in this essay to say that, because the childhood friends and family members in that group who read my blog will have all stopped reading by this point.  I really don’t need to give them any more ammunition for Facebook and dinner table arguments.

But my side of the table are not wholly guilt free.

 

I regularly tweet or post things like these, innocently believing these heroes of the heart and mind have universal appeal because they champion truth and science and facts.  But I become alarmed when I learn how much Bill Nye offends them.  They tell me, “That guy is not a scientist!  He has no right to argue for climate change issues or the non-existence of God.  He’s just a TV guy.”  And, I suppose they have a point.  I mean, his extensive education and background in engineering, or his years in television promoting science to kids in research-based creative ways, doesn’t necessarily make him an expert on all science.  And Neil DeGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist.  He doesn’t have a degree in EVERYTHING.  And when I point out that their so-called experts on climate-change denial from Fox News cannot even claim to be TV weathermen, they are further put out by my brain-bashing bullying way of using my superior knowledge of science to put them down.  Okay, I get it.  I am not being careful enough of your feelings.  (Oh, I forgot, you stopped reading this a while back.)

But the point of this is, we have to stop listening to and electing stupid people, while at the same time being a bit nicer to each other.  We have to approach the discussion with the notion that you yourself may not be totally right about everything, and you may actually learn something by talking about it.  (Which is, of course, no problem for me since I really don’t know anything for certain and need to learn practically everything as if I were still four years old.)

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Okay, Bill, I get it.  I am probably wrong about that too.

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Cranky Old Coots Complain and Don’t Care

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Yes, I am a coot.  I became a coot in 2014 when I retired. I have the hair in the ears to prove it.  I sometimes forget to wear pants.  The dog is learning to hide from me on days when my arthritis makes me cranky.

So I am a practicer of the ancient art of being a cranky old coot.  I have opinions.  I share them with others foolishly. And I am summarily told to, “Shut up, you danged old coot!”  And, of course, I don’t shut up because that would be a violation of number five in the by-laws of cootism.  Obnoxiousness is our only reason for still being alive.

Lately, my group of coots on Facebook (who call themselves a “pack” like wolves, but, in truth, a group of coots is called an “idiocy”) are talking about politics… very loudly salted with firmly held opinions, beliefs, and bad words in several languages.  I mean, it’s texting each other on memes we disagree about, but we do it LOUDLY, like that, in all caps.  We also do it in such an infuriating manner because, if no one ever bothers to tell us to “Shut the hell up!”  we will begin to suspect we have actually died and gone to purgatory where we are still being obnoxious, but nobody knows we are doing it.  That is rubbing coot fur in the wrong direction.

The radical right (otherwise known as coot paradise) have been cooting up a storm about school shootings and gun control of late.  They have more or less turned their ire on me because, knowing I was a school teacher, they have seized on the Coot in Chief’s notion of arming teachers to protect schools.  Obviously a majority of old coots agree that requiring a few “volunteer” teachers to conceal carry and learn how to handle a school shooter crisis situation with a gun instead of the way teachers are actually trained and practiced on handling such a situation, is the only economical way to defend schools from crazed lunatics with assault weapons.  Of course, it is definitely more economical than hiring full time police officers to handle security because “volunteer” teachers does not mean that they are necessarily willing to do it, but rather that they are doing it without pay.  And of course they shout at me things like, “Why don’t you just admit that you are too scared and unpatriotic to carry a gun as a teacher, and cowardly allow some female teacher with a big pistol to step in and do the job for you?”  That is a very coot thing to say, and is hard to adequately counter, because if you try to argue using logic other than coot-logic, like the notion that since a majority of teachers in this country are female, you are asking women who are fierce enough to do the job (and I have known more than a few who would take it on no matter how hopeless their prospects) to take a handgun that the principal bought at Walmart with money from the Coke machine in the hall and face down a suicidal maniac with an assault rifle, you will not even be heard over the cacophony of coot braying and chest-thumping, let alone be understood.

And, for some reason, coots love Trump.  Maybe because they feel he is truly one of them.  He is older than dirt.  He has an epicly bad comb-over to hide his bald spot.  He says bad words very loudly in front of women, children, and everybody.  He says, “Believe me,” a lot, especially when telling lies.  And he’s not afraid to fart in public and blame it on the dog.  I admit to insulting Trump in front of them only because I like to see coot faces fold up in extra wrinkles, and coot heads turn various shades of angry red and apoplectic purple.

So, yes.  I am a coot.  Not proud to be one… that I can remember, but a coot never-the-less.

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And The Rain Comes Down…

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And The Rain Comes Down…

Through the wet broken window,

And a dark-colored screen,

I increasingly look down,

On a darkening scene,

On world without rainbows,

Feeling soon I will drown.

“Geez, Mickey,” you will say, “Why-ever would you write such a gloomy pessimist’s poem?”

“Because I prepare myself for the worst.  The worst in this case is that the President of the United States says the solution to school shootings is putting guns in the hands of teachers.  He wants those of us whose hands were made for using chalk on chalkboards, and hearts were made for talking to kids, learning who they are, and guiding them toward a better future, to pick up a gun and accurately take out a threat coming in with legally purchased weapons of war that can shoot more rounds faster than any weapon that the school system will be able to put in my hands.  It is a terrible idea, and he is going to make it happen just because he stupidly can.”

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One time at a middle school I taught at, a child did bring a gun to school.  It was a handgun concealed in a back pack.  He apparently meant to shoot his former girlfriend.  But, as kids will, he told friends about it.  They told a teacher.  The principal called the police and confiscated the back pack.  Not only did the target survive without being shot at, the perpetrator, after his brush with the law and time served, was able to right his boat again and sail on into adulthood, a job, a wife, and kids.  He even told me later that he was grateful to have been stopped from ruining his life, even possibly ending his life.  The problem was solved without a shooting because of teacher skills, being able to talk to kids, being approachable to talk to about problems and unsettling rumors, and knowing where to turn for the proper help at the proper time.

Of course, we were lucky on that one.  Stopping that shooter was not 100% guaranteed.  And it happened in the 90’s during the assault rifle ban.  He was immature enough and excitable enough to have killed many with a more powerful weapon.

If it were up to me to become a weapon-toting defender of the innocent, I am fully aware of how little chance I have to be successful at such a thing.  I am a lousy shot.  If I had to face down an AR-15 with the cheap school-district pistol, I would become one more obvious target that any shooter will obviously take out in seconds.  That’s the best possible outcome for the school, because my missing shot would probably hit some poor innocent bystander.

And, of course, conservative Facebook friends won’t stop insisting that teachers need to be armed.  A good guy with a gun can defeat a bad guy with a gun, you know… assuming the SWAT team doesn’t shoot the good guy, mistaking him for the bad guy.

So, even though I don’t like it, I guess I have to be prepared for schools to become battlegrounds.  Every day a shootout at the OK Corral.  I just hope Wyatt Earp is on my side.

And it really is raining outside today.  Cold, February rain… and it depresses me.

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Synonyms for Modern Republicans

I promise not to use profanity and other assorted bad words, which will probably affect the accuracy of my synonym picking.  But it is has come to my attention that people really just don’t know how to label modern Republicans.  Fortunately, I am in a position to offer you warning labels that are at least somewhat useful if you ever have to buy one in a store (assuming, of course, that you have millions to invest and reasonable prospects of using the hard-to-label-accurately products to make even more millions).

Anti-Ironical

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Yes, the modern Republican cannot identify irony.  Irony is when the opposite of what you were led to expect would happen is what actually takes place.  For instance, when a political candidate expresses the will and the plan to “drain the swamp” in the nation’s capitol, and then, when he wins, he hires a racist crocodile as Attorney General, a slimy Wall-Street snake as the Treasury Secretary, and a brainless bayou woodpecker as Secretary of Education, and the average Republican voter applauds the choices as the most expertise and experience for the job.  Who better to control criminals and thugs than a former master criminal?  And you can’t actually accuse Republicans of having a sense of humor and get away with it.  They will punish you for it.  They want to endlessly debate every political cartoon you post on Facebook.

Notzactly Generous

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If you have to ask the fateful question, “Are Republicans generous to others?”  The answer is always a resounding Notzactly!  They are willing to give great gobs of wealth to certain select individuals.  That would, of course, be the Walmart heirs, the Koch Brothers, Mark Cuban, assorted other billionaires, and, inexplicably, Jay-Z.  But when it comes to food stamps in the SNAP program, why, those lazy individuals don’t deserve hand-outs just because they cannot feed their families on the income from two full-time jobs.  They should get another job… or two, and pull themselves up by their own  bootstraps (a metaphor which apparently breaks the law of gravity, in the total absence of anyone willing to throw a rope from above).

Undoo Obama-ist

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Any idea that is tainted by snowflake commie Democratic Obama flavor must be overturned.  If the previous administration passed a healthcare reform law borrowed from the Heritage Foundation and Mitt Romney’s successful Massachusetts healthcare plan, then it is the worst disaster ever and must be repealed even if you leave the people with nothing to take its place.  If Obama changed the curtains in the Oval Office, they must be changed again for gold ones to please the orange one who took Obama’s place.  And if Obama passed a regulation to prevent pouring coal-plant waste directly into rivers, then the regulation must be de-regulated because we obviously need more coal plant waste in our rivers.  Anything done by Obama or Democrats during the last administration must now be immediately undone.

Loud-angry Voice-inators

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No matter how stupid or destructive an idea is in the modern Republican party, it can be pushed through easily because it is backed by the loudest, angriest voices spewing their gaseous brain products through the media and government platforms.  Take for instance a particularly loud and bug-eyed red-faced crank like Congressman Steve King of Iowa.  His message gets through to voters.  Everybody knows his name.  He has achieved this by saying cruel and racist things from his bully pulpit.  You probably remember how he claimed that Mexicans that had calves like cantaloupes were carrying hundred pound backpacks full of drugs across our borders.  And, of course, this is an important message to Iowans because of Iowa’s long border with Mexico.   But the message was loud and public enough to have a Tea Party impact on the national dialogue, where ideas are repeated often enough to be taken as fact, no matter how stupid and destructive they are.

So here are a few words that are synonyms for modern Republicans.  And to them, these will probably not be taken as insults, because they agree with the definitions if you explain them well enough.

 

 

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Stardusters… Canto 57

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Canto Fifty-Seven – Sizzahl’s Primary Laboratory

Sizzahl let the Senator into her sanctum with the key she rarely ever used.

“Your father had more secrets than I knew, didn’t he?” asked Makkhain with a resigned sigh.

“Yes.  Truthfully, he didn’t trust you totally because you are always so anxious to go to war over everything.  Father believed we needed to at least try peaceful solutions.”

“That is the one thing about your father that makes him a hopeless fool.  Galtorrians are a warrior people.  We solve our problems by removing the greatest threats by force.”

“But you can’t declare war on toxic chemicals and gas, and then just kill them.  Those problems are not mortal.”

Makkhain nodded.  “I did not believe that your father could reverse the pollution problem.  I thought scientists had already doomed us, making the war unwinnable.  I took steps to undermine their efforts.  I may have made a terrible mistake.”

“What did you do?”

“I targeted your father’s installations for destruction.”

“But he didn’t tell you where the atmosphere scrubbers were located.  He didn’t trust you, so he gave you misinformation.”

“Do you know where they are?”

“Of course I do.  They are operating under my direction.”

“Will you tell me where they are now that I have found you again and vowed to protect you?”

“No.  I love you, Uncle Makk, but I don’t trust you any more than Daddy did.”

“What?  Why?”

“It is too important that we keep them optimally operating.  We cannot allow them to be interfered with in any way.  The only way I won’t keep them going is if I decide our world is not worth saving.”

“Not worth saving?  What are you talking about?”

“Galtorrians are alpha predators on this planet.  They can’t be at peace because they are dedicated to killing, maiming, and destroying.  They are vicious and without morals because it is in their genetic make-up to be that way.  Creatures like us deserve to die and make way for a better, more thoughtful race of beings.”

“That’s what the Galtorrian/Human fusions are for?”

“Of course.  I will save this world… but I intend to save it for them.”

Makkhain’s lizard eyes were glowering at Sizzahl with undisguised menace and loathing.  Was this the uncle she loved?  The only relative who had ever treated her like a worthy being, and not just some brain-blossoming freak?  Or had his adventures during the war changed him somehow?

“Well, I don’t expect you to save the world for me.  I am nearly at the end of my road no matter what.”

“What do you mean?”

“When Senator Tedhkruhz finds us… and he soon will with the tracking mechanisms implanted in my body… he will slay me once and for all, and use all the information he can torture out of you to squash your father’s legacy.  Our destruction is, after all, guaranteed.”

*****

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Why Farmers Ain’t Millionaires

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A professional baseball player goes up to the plate.  A hulking six foot man goes up on a little mound and hurls a stitched horsehide sphere at him, ideally around ninety miles an hour, hoping to throw it past him three times, or, failing that, coming close enough to his head that he forfeits the next two.  If the baseball guy swings his hitty-stick at the ball and smacks it into the field in a place where nobody can catch it three out of every ten times, that man will soon be a millionaire if he isn’t one before swinging the hitty stick for the first time.

As a public school teacher it was my job to teach kids how to read and write.  It is a lot harder thing to do when you consider how teachers are expected to do that job.  You are in a classroom of up to thirty kids, no more than ten per cent of whom are self-starting and self-maintaining.  The rest are problem-filled haters of reading and wordless when it comes to writing.  You have to lead them into the land of joyous literacy.  And when you step up to that plate, if you are getting a hit only three times in every ten at-bats (as measured by beloved state tests that are inherently biased in a multitude of ways) you will lose that lovely teaching job.  You are expected to hit 8 out of 10 or higher.  And that is just to keep your job year to year even though you make less money per year than a city garbage man.  No chance you will ever be a millionaire.  And they don’t even let you use a hitty stick to do your job.

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But I promised you this rant was about farming and farmers.

My roots are in the farmlands of Iowa.  I am the result of the union of the Beyer family farm and the Aldrich family farm.  I know what farming is all about.  And we do the job of feeding the nation, and possibly the world.  But it is not an easy job.  You gamble each year that you will be able to produce corn and soybeans and possibly beef or pork, and when the harvest comes, you have to hope you can sell it for more than it cost to produce it.  Tornadoes, hail, floods, and droughts get more than their fair say in the outcome.

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So, why isn’t what the farmer does worth more?

The answer is simple.  People with money and power are the ones who control who makes money and who doesn’t.  Through speculation and commodity trading they control the price of corn and beans, and they control who makes the profit.

We do the majority of the work and take the majority of the risk.  We don’t get the majority of the rewards.  Other people than farmers decide who does, and only rarely do they decide those matters fairly.  But thus the world is.  Or rather, thus we have let it become.

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I Have No Idea

Yesterday I posted a weird picture that I haven’t used before and made myself cry gushers of tears again for the boy the picture is a portrait of.  I suppose it is a catharsis I didn’t really need.  I woke up today with a blistering headache to keep my perpetual backache company.  Could that have been caused by the crying and the blues that ensued?  Probably.

So, I have no idea for today.  My brain hurts and my heart is burned out.

I checked Facebook where I had posted this quote from Malala ;

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I wasn’t really prepared for controversy.  I should’ve been.  It is obvious from the guns versus books graphics that it would stir emotions in my liberal author and teacher friends, as well as my conservative cracker anti-Muslim friends.

My aunt, a former career teacher, responded first.  She wrote, “Like the thought.”  She was a great third grade teacher in Iowa for many years.  She loved all kids then and still does today.  I want to be like that in retirement too.

But the next response was from a former high school friend who voted for Trump and hates all the people the Republican Party orders him to hate.

“Sounds great like most sound bites. Much harder to explain and implement.”  My friend, Ali Hassenbutter (not his real name, but this will make him angry as well as protect his actual identity), likes to take jabs at me for being a liberal, and the subtext here is that, even though I was a teacher for many years, I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to education.  So, I answered him with some heartfelt teacher-ism.

“I had Egyptian and Lebanese and Arab students in my classes at Garland ISD. They are people just like us. You help them learn English. They make American friends. Americans learn that most Muslims are not terrorists. What’s so complicated about that? Unless you start slamming doors in their faces and treating them as less valuable than you are.”   I admit to maybe being a bit snarky in that last line, but sometimes he gets my goat.  (I know I should just let him have it.  I have never liked my goat that much anyway.  It smells bad.)

A fellow ESL teacher from Garland chimed in even though she doesn’t know Ali.  “And these students added spice in our classroom…  Just like they do in the USA.”  She knows all the students I was referencing.

Then one of my other Belmond classmates who knows and probably detests us both as heathens added his words of wisdom, “The real concept here is that we are in fact ALL HUMAN.”  See there?  The Bible banger gets it.  And I really appreciate when he steps in and tries to make peace.  He’s somewhat nutty at times, but his new-found religion allows him to believe like I do that we should choose love over hate as our default response, even to terrorism.

But Ali comes back with;   It takes both approaches to this problem. But then there is Berkley as a shining example of education gone off the rail.”  He’s at least trying to sound like he is listening to our comments, but then he pulls this old red hot chestnut out of the fireplace.  He offers it like the opinion of the crazy, racist uncle at Thanksgiving Dinner.

“Yes, because it was the teachers’ fault at Berkley. That poor young racist agitator from Breitbart was supposed to have a peaceful forum for spewing his hateful mouth garbage at young liberal college students, and the college administrators who granted him that right didn’t bend over backwards far enough to prevent a violent reaction.”  I know, sarcasm is the resort of the defeated.  I should be championing love over hate and freedom of speech over my personal revulsion to Milo.

My teacher friend had this to add;  “I understand the “right” instigated that incident.”

“Yes, but they wore masks to hide their identity. That makes them automatically liberals, doesn’t it? If I am able to follow Fox News Logic, anyway.”  Sez I.

And so, there we stand, at the very beginning of a month-long Facebook love/hate debate.  And I will lose.  You can argue with brick walls and score more debate points than you can arguing anything political with Ali.  And the frustrating thing is, he’s an ordinary decent human being and stand-up guy too.  Not just a dismiss-able deplorable because he voted for Trump.

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I have no ideas today.  I have a headache.  If I can’t defend Malala’s heroic logic, then I can’t even argue my way out of a bowl of chicken soup.  Doomed to drown in chicken broth.  At least I will die healthy at the bottom of that mixed metaphor.  That should be worth a laugh.

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