Category Archives: politics

Word Salad and Idea Casserole

In a world filled with interesting and engaging ideas, I get frustrated with the constant barrage of word salad on social media tossed at me by conservative friends.  As Trump seems to be coming closer and closer to ending his administration with his own chaotic behavior, those who supported him are tossing more and more flavorless lettuce and rotted vegetables in the mix.  I have to resist the urge to throw the same thing back at them.  I do not resist such salad-making well.  Witness my attempts to alter this stupid meme from a friend;

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I admit, I kinda barfed half-digested word salad all over this one.  I get tired of debating the issues only to be insulted like this and then accused of only insulting Trump and avoiding what they call the “Real Issues”, like Hillary giving a gazillion per cent of our uranium wealth to the Russians and Obama being the one guilty of colluding with Russians.

But, enough of that.  It is time to make something healthier out of words and ideas.  I have a lot of things on my mind, and I want to get a lot of them said before I die.  So let me make some idea casserole, cooking a whole lot of very different ideas into one multivitamin dish.

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  • Trump, for all the damage he’s done, will end up being good for us if we can just survive his administration to the end.  Scar tissue is always tougher than the surrounding flesh when the wound heals.  Repairing the damage he has done will leave us stronger, wiser, and more able to cope with the root causes of the Trump phenomenon.
  • My friends and family who supported the whole Trump mess primarily to hurt people whom they feel are smarter than them and so more stuck-up and self-important than them, will eventually get back to leading more productive lives than they did before.  And they will continue not to credit the ones who actually made that happen the way they didn’t credit Obama for healing the blunders of Bush.
  • I will get back to writing gentler, non-political-type humor novels.
  • I have my novel Superchicken half-way through the final edit to publish it on Amazon Kindle.  You can see I have been playing with cover ideas.  I plan to write Sing Sad Songs next.  Also I have two more novel ideas that I will add to this casserole as separate ingredients.  And I have The Bicycle Wheel Genius, Recipes for Gingerbread Children, and The Baby Werewolf finished and ready to edit as well.
  • Here’s new idea number one; The Boy Who Lived Forever is a fantasy novel about Icarus Jones coming to stay with the Jones family of Norwall.  He has survived a house fire that killed his parents and now must evade the dragon that pursues him while trying to figure out what is wrong with him health-wise.  Could he be dying?  Or did he survive the fire because he somehow can’t die?
  • Here’s new idea number two; Kingdoms Under the Earth is a fantasy novel about Blueberry Bates, a troubled young girl, falling seriously ill, and the measures her boyfriend, Mike Murphy, and her friends have to take in a realm made of magic and fever dreams to save her.

The truth is I really can’t do anything about politics and government beyond expressing my beliefs and voting my conscience.  I need to concentrate on telling stories.  It is the one thing that still gives my life meaning through the pain, illness, and suffering.  I am not dead yet.  And, not being dead, I need to be writing.

 

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Today’s Tabula Rasa

Make no mistake about it.  I am quite capable of waking up in the morning with nothing at all in my head, no ideas, no words, no plans, no dreams…  I can be the most idiotically stupid witless twit when my brain is thoroughly drained.  But that is not the natural state of any man, and certainly not of someone like me who has lived for more than sixty years with a totally fermented head.

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So suppose I woke up this morning without remembering anything at all that I have learned about the world.  What would I do?  What would I write?  What would I think?

I think the first thing I might do if I didn’t remember anything at all about the world I find myself in, I might turn on the TV to find out what is happening, or watch cartoons, I can’t be sure I would know which should come first, if I even remember how to turn a TV on, or what a TV is…

But when I turn on the TV and look at what is really happening, and assuming I can tell the difference between Donald Trump and Donald Duck… Oh! Gonga!  My gawd!  How could it be this bad?

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Donald Duck is president.  And he gets totally angry and quacks on Twitter with that infamously hard-to-understand word-mangle of his, delivered while jumping in place and swinging his fists at the air around him.

A basset hound with a nose for clues has been tracking his every movement.  And that basset hound is a former FBI chief.  He’s very good at accurately sniffing out duck trails.

And then there is a lying and evil Keebler elf at the head of the justice department who is pursuing marijuana crimes relentlessly because he hates black people and wants to put them into the for-profit prisons he owns even though the rest of the country is deciding to legalize marijuana.

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This totally evil elf, it turns out, has been talking to Porky Kislyack, Russian spymaster pig about campaign collusion even though he swore to Senator Frankenberry in his confirmation hearing that he was guilty of nothing… that he could recall.  Hopefully the basset hound has his evil elf scent too.

And the racism and evil doesn’t end there.  Gasper the Unfriendly Ghost is still hanging out with the president, feeding him just the right duck food to create dyspeptic outrage in his duck belly.  Gasper will then spur Donald Duck on to quack more about border walls and guarding our southern border because too many Speedy Gonzaleses is a brown mouse problem in the closets of our country.  We can’t have too many queso-eaters here.

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Gasper the Unfriendly Ghost

And so, if I were to wake up with a Tabula Rasa, a truly empty head, and watched morning cartoons… or news… or whatever the heck that stuff on morning TV is…  I would be left wondering what I was going to do about it.  The options?  Certainly I probably need to vote this year.  Or I could bang myself on the side of the head with a brick and possibly knock all this stuff out of my head again, re-establishing the emptiness in my stupid head.

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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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Blue Sunrise

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I am not a politician. I am not a political writer.  But I have opinions about the policies that affect my life and livelihood.  And my opinions, though often expressed poetically, or even humorously, are based on real troubles never-the-less.

I am disturbed by the problems I see in education.  Teachers are not paid what they are worth.  Anyone with half a brain can see that, for the level of education required of them, the professionalism expected of them, and the ever-increasing responsibilities foisted upon them, they are not compensated for their work in a manner comparable to people who do the same work in the corporate world.  And those comparable workers never have to endure the conditions of a teacher’s job, overloaded with students, forced to stand and deliver to a hostile audience whose behavior you are responsible for controlling six or seven times a day, and then being evaluated by how that audience does on tests that often measure the wrong thing with financial punishments waiting for failure and rarely any rewards waiting for success.

I started teaching in 1981 in South Texas for a salary of $11,000 dollars a year. That was below the poverty line in 1981.  If I had a family at that time, we would’ve been eligible for food stamps.  The highest I ever earned was $55,000 with a master’s degree, 28 years of experience, and a summer of teaching summer school.  Some one who delivers similar forms of information to a receptive audience in a boardroom, only has to deliver maybe once per day, and is paid upwards of twice that highest amount is treated far better.

And when teachers strike in West Virginia for being the lowest paid in the country, or  a teacher complains on social media by revealing their actual yearly salary from Arizona, or a teacher is forced to move from Oklahoma to Texas for higher pay even though they were the teacher of the year in the State the year before,  there is blow-back.  There are stupid people out there that think teachers are overpaid.  They think all teachers have to do is talk to kids every day, and they have only 185 work days a year, they have the summer off, and their job is one anyone can do.  These stupid people have less than half a brain.  What makes a guy who sits in an office all day with his feet up making decisions about stocks and bonds and business deals worth thousands of dollars a minute?  Teachers, in my amateur political opinionater’s opinion, are underpaid.

To quote the Beatles’ 1969 animated movie, the Yellow Submarine, “It’s a blue world, Max.”  Unfortunately, in the world of education, the Blue Meanies are now in charge.

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Blue Waves, Blue Birds, and Red Hope

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My political opinions are worth about as much as the intestinal gas they are made of.   That being said, at least I don’t light them on fire in the manner my conservative friends with Tea Party hemorrhoids do.  Living in the Red State of Texas and being mildly liberal has forced me to listen to incessant streams of flaming insults and invective.  It seems “liberal” is a bad word in Texas.  We are apparently the primary cause of everything that’s wrong with the world.  If you just have more conservative views, like having gleeful titter-fits over tax cuts for rich folks no matter how much they will hurt the working poor in the long run, then you are a good person, and Jesus loves you, and we forgive your three divorces, unpaid alimony and child support, and that Mexican-American you killed with your concealed carry because of the Stand-Your-Ground law.

But, my intestinal gas is bubbling after yesterday’s primary elections in Texas.   Huffines lost the Republican primary to Paxton.  Why is this significant, you may ask?  Because the most corrupt and richest candidate did not win.  Texas tradition is totally upended.  And while both of them campaigned with lots of mud and bad words (yes, they actually called each other “liberals”), one of them is against both higher property taxes and reduced funding of education (which is the primary cause of higher property taxes).   Paxton at least sounds like she is for spending more money on public education (heresy to the traditional Republican view of education).  So there are signs of change in the Republican landscape.

And it appears that things are changing color in the reddest of Red States.  Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate for Ted Cruz’s Senate seat, solidified his chances in November by becoming the Democratic Party victor in the primary.  And so far his small-donor contributions have come in waves, giving him a fund-raising lead over the Republican Party’s most hated lizard-man Senator.  There is a feeling of a rising blue tide coming to sweep away Republican anchor stakes like Cruz and Pete Sessions.  Democrats may actually win despite Republican cheating through voter suppression, gerrymandering, and corrupt dark money.

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But the point of this whole long intestinal-gas-fueled display of political insight is not that I want the Red State of Texas to turn completely blue.  I think that too many liberals is just as much of a problem and a breeding ground for corruption as too many conservatives.  The biggest problem has been that the blue donkeys and the red elephants haven’t done much but hate each other and call each other names for too long.

We need two sides to have a decent debate that can hammer out the kind of decently balanced solutions that solves problems for everybody.  Texas Republicans have been in complete control for too long.  They ignore problems like equitable school funding, racial problems in law enforcement, and income inequality.  They give all their attention to smoothing the way for corporations and money-making interests.  As long as the rich guys are happy, the world is good for Republicans.  We need to balance the Republicans again with more moderate policies and beliefs.  If you look at the political platform of the Republican Eisenhower Presidency and compare that to the Democratic Obama Presidency, you can see that they are very much the same.  I think the chaos that the current Presidency has brought to the Republican Party has already produced some hopeful signs of the reversal of some of their most hostile and heartless positions.  The high priests of greed and corruption that have taken over the Republicans since Nixon are beginning to experience rebellion among their acolytes.  Republican pundits, thinkers, and operatives whom I actually respect are turning away from Trumpism and denouncing it in the mass media.  Some of them have even left the party.

But I am not hoping for the death of the Republican Party.  I am hoping for a fundamental change in who they are and what they support.  I think recent election results are strengthening that hope.  We need them to renounce their Gordon Gecko religion of “Greed is good!”  We need them to turn away from the corruption, anger, and intractable stupidity of the Tea Party.  We need decent moderate Republicans to return to prominence once again.

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How the Smurfs Averted Fascism

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Trumpy Smurf and General Kelly Smurf, his chief of staff

Right now I think this country needs a good lesson in how to avoid a fascist dictatorship.  And we can’t look to 1930’s Germany to get an example.  They didn’t avoid it.  They got Hitler even though he did not have a Twitter account to use for making himself der Fuhrer.

So let’s tell a story about fascists and infringe on copyrights at the same time by telling you a Smurf story.

There was a time in Smurf village when their local politics became entirely too polarized into only two factions.  One side was made up of the good-time Smurfs who had all the money.  They called themselves the Pub-Lickins because they liked to win elections by cheating and through massive donations from the richest Smurfs among them, and also because they loved to lick up all the liquor at the local pub.  The other side was called the Dumb-o-crats because they let the Pub-Lickins get away with every dirty trick they tried.  When Papa Smurf finally retired from running the government as a benevolent Dumb-o-crat, the Pub-lickins cheated their way into control of the government with help from Gargamel, who would later be accused of collusion to help Trumpy Smurf win the Smurf Presidency.

It didn’t take long for Trumpy Smurf to prove to be a potential Fascist dictator. The first warning sign was the way he constantly lied about everything.  He claimed Gargamel was a friend to the Smurfs.  He also said he was the biggest winner in Smurf election history, and everybody would benefit bigly from his highly profitable rule.

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Brainy Smurf, who started out as a Pub-lickin supporter of Trumpy, began to question the Trumpy ties to Gargamel.  He opened an investigation.  Trumpy then fired him.  Later Brainy was mysteriously killed and eaten by Azrael, Gargamel’s cat.

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Jokey Smurf, voiced by Stephen Colbert

Then Jokey Smurf began making fun of Trumpy relentlessly on his late night talk show.  He made fun of him mostly by accurately repeating the news about what Trumpy’s administration did and said every single day.  Azrael, Gargamel’s cat, mysteriously killed and ate Jokey too.  And Trumpy successfully proved the allegations against him false by shouting “Fake News!” very loudly and very often.

Clumsy_Smurf_2017MovieAt long last, Robert Mueller Smurf began investigating the election hack by Gargamel and the subsequent obstruction of justice committed by Trumpy with the aid of Azrael, Gargamel’s very hungry cat.  He revealed that Gargamel had secretly intercepted the ballot boxes and removed all the votes for Smurfette.  Thus Trumpy won by a margin of one vote to nothing.  Clumsy Smurf had been the only one stupid enough to vote for Trumpy.

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So, the election was nullified.  A new, fairer election was set up.  Hefty Smurf belted Azrael the cat in the head with a rock before anyone tried to vote.  Then, the election was re-done with Hefty Smurf running against Smurfette.  Gargamel was kept totally in the dark about everything having to do with the Smurf election.  Robert Mueller Smurf put Trumpy Smurf in prison for the rest of his life.  And Hefty Smurf won the election, because his backers in the Pub-Lickin Party had more money, and Hefty promised the biggest tax breaks, even though the tax relief would not help the average Smurf living paycheck to paycheck.

But at least the Smurfs managed to keep their democracy from becoming a fascist government for perpetuity.  And Gargamel eventually master-minded a plot to break Trumpy Smurf out of the mushroom penitentiary, after which Azrael, Gargamel’s cat, ate Trumpy, not so mysteriously.  Shortly thereafter, Azrael died of food poisoning.   And the Smurfs then had no more fascist dictatorship because Hefty called his rule “compassionate conservatism” which Jokey Smurf would’ve pointed out is an oxymoron, except that Jokey Smurf was dead at that point.

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Our Cartoon President

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I may have expressed this sentiment once or twice before, but I am really tired of Donald Trump.  His march toward fascist dictatorship and becoming a really incompetent Hitler 2.0 has only made me learn new bad words to shout at the TV news that I never knew I already knew before.

So, I am not going to complain about him in this essay.  Instead, I am going to praise another group of artists for complaining about him in a really well-done manner.  Yes, I am about to laud Stephen Colbert’s new Showtime Cartoon Show, Our Cartoon President.

 

Animated cast of OUR CARTOON PRESIDENT. Photo: Courtesy of SHOWTIME

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The idea for this show began on Stephen Colbert’s Late Night on CBS talk show.  He did extremely popular segments there where he interviewed Donald Trump as a cartoon character.  Colbert’s show is on TV past my bedtime, so I only manage to catch these segments on YouTube.  But I sincerely appreciate every single one I watched on computer when it made me late for wherever else I was really supposed to be and do.  It gave me chuckles and smiles about some the darkest, dirtiest things the human cartoon has done to disrupt my life in retirement.

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The characterizations as well as the cartoon caricatures couldn’t be more spot on.  The series really nails Ted Cruz as the Zodiac Killer invading the White House to steal toothpaste and use the President’s toothbrush.  Eric Trump is portrayed with a disturbing amount of politically incorrect accuracy.  The pilot episode, offered online for free, captures the killer clowns of the Trump administration so well, you really begin to wish it were these cartoon people running the country instead of the real collection of Bond villains, peanut-heads, and malevolent mooks we actually have.

 

Now, the bad news is… I can’t afford Showtime.  So the chances of watching this show are limited to watching whatever snippets get illegally uploaded on YouTube.  But I intend to appreciate the heck out of this cartoon show, and watch the free episode 1 many times.

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