Category Archives: politics

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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This is How the World Ends…

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The T. S. Eliot poem “The Hollow Men” talks about the disappointing nature of human beings and ends  with a dire four lines quoted more often than any poem’s end in the history of poetry.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Now I have revealed this particular truth more than once.  I am not prescient.  I am an idiot.  And the only things I know for certain about the future are that I will die one day, and so will everyone else.  But knowing those things  is wisdom.  Especially the idiot part.

And I can see how things are progressing.  I know what people are like at their core.  If humanity is doomed to die out in the next century, or even the next decade, it will not be because of nuclear war.  It will be something sneakier, quieter, and more permanently lethal.

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It will be the fact that people are capable of heartlessness and cruelty.  Adolf Hitler turned the full power of government-focused hatred on those he defined as less than human; Jews, gypsies, gay people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the mentally handicapped.  He used that focus to burn those peoples out of existence.  But many forces in the human character rose up to shield the victims, saving some and avenging the others.  Hitler learned the hard way that he was not the end of the world… from a bullet, in a bunker, having lost an empire.

Now, the Republican clown show in the United States is turning into Killer Klowns from Outer Space.

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They show lack of concern for anything but corporate profits.  They will undo Medicare and cancel the Meals on Wheels program because, according to evil leprechauns in charge of the budget, we can’t afford to feed people, or educate people, or do anything to dry up the painful ocean of poverty capitalism is creating.  No, we must bury our pots of gold and any magic they have left in them.

They have changed the laws on environmental protections to allow themselves to profit by pouring pollutants into rivers and water supplies.  They pull out of world-wide agreements to work towards saving the environment from climate change.

They may have found a way to focus hatred through the lens of indifference.  Hitler’s mistake was in thinking most humans could be manipulated only through fear and hatred for those who were different.  Trump’s troll army has added stupidity and greed to the lenses the light can be filtered through.  And so, they may well succeed where Nazis failed.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

 

 

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Filed under angry rant, humor, insight, pessimism, politics, self pity, sharing from YouTube

Why Do You Think That? Part 3

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A taxonomy of different living beasts in our world is an important thing to keep up with.  Because they are constantly evolving, due to processes of evolution (Stop hitting me with that old family Bible, Reverend Winchuck!  It is still legal, for now, to say that word), you have to constantly change and refine your understanding of beasts and their relationships to one another.  So here I am trying talk about “Why liberals and conservatives are completely different species!”

When I look at a group of people, a crowd, a… what do you call a flock of people?  An idiocy perhaps?  They all look the same to me.  To tell which species they are, I have to hear them talk.  So I selected a couple of notable interviewees to explain what the differences really are.

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Bull Blindersly, head of the Bullish for Trump and Trumpkins Committee

The conservative I will use to represent conservatives is Bull Blindersly, who I noticed briefly had a Make America Great Again red hat on until the wind took it off his flat head.  I’ll let him tell you the difference in his own words.

“It’s easy to spot a libtard.  They have pointy little nerd heads full of stupid ideas based on statistics and encyclopedia facts and other such brainiac junk that clogs up your head.  They don’t have the common sense they were born with because they spend all their time reading and thinking and other stuff that just gets in the way.  There is a simple solution for everything in life.  The economy is healthy and grows if you give tax breaks to rich folks and job creators.  They will spend that money they have earned to improve things for everyone.  You don’t fix problems by dancing around giving away my hard-earned tax dollars to folks who don’t work hard enough.  Those people are just tempted to become blood-sucking parasites for life when you do that.  We need to build a wall around Animal Town to keep more of those kinds of people out.”

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                                                                                                                                                                  Phillip “Flip” Moosewinkle. ACLU lawyer and Dal Mation, independent media journalist

I talked to Flip Moosewinkle and his friend Dal Mation because they were protesting in front of city hall with “Not My President!” signs and other signs that indicated they were liberals because everything was spelled and punctuated correctly.

Flip; “I think conservatives talk without thinking first most of the time.”

Dal; “You have to be careful about making blanket statements like that, though.  It is not backed up by any studies I can find with Google on my i-phone.  And we want to be fair and considerate when making statements about our opponents.”

Flip; “Yes, that’s quite correct.  But a shoot-from-the-hip style of discourse is still common among those we argue politics with.  They’ll accuse us of trying to take away their rights to own guns and won’t even listen when we try to shift the conversation towards gun safety and responsible ownership.  They mostly agree with our positions when it comes right down to it, but they rarely listen to our point of view.  They would rather call us names and chant slogans.”

Dal; “True, but you have to admit they do tend to win arguments that way in public forums.  Maybe we should try some of their tactics, and try to be more forceful in making our case the way they are.”

Flip;  “Do you really want to sink to their level?  Then we’d be no better than they are.”

Dal;  “But isn’t that the point we are trying to make?  Aren’t we all the same and no one is better than anyone else?  Aren’t we trying to be fair and loving to all?”

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Doofy Fuddbugg here is an example of what a “Nolt” is.

Of course, it is at this point in the consideration of the topic that I reach the inevitable conclusion that I am dealing with two different categories of animal here.  One side is patently unfair, and the other is marginalized and ineffectual.  One side is often predatory, while the other is routinely prey.

What do I do about it?  The conservative side has purged themselves of all compromisers, liberal-leaners, and RINO’s (Republican In Name Only, not rhinoceroses).  The liberal side never wins.  (Yes, I know Obama was president, but look how easily he was erased from the public conversation when his term ended.)  There is no place for moderates any more.  To be moderate is to be isolated and headed for species extinction.    So I am a liberal now, hoping the side that is in power at the moment won’t pass a law against my continued existence.  And trying exceptionally hard to fit in with other members of my same species.

 

 

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Surviving the Reign of the Monkey King

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So the head monkey has fired the giraffe in charge of looking into the Russian banana pilfering that has everyone questioning his fitness to rule.  Rule?  Heck!  I question his continued right to own bananas!

But this post is supposed to be a reflection on surviving, not another angry animal metaphor about things that can’t be cured until the next election, or until the elephants that put the monkey in charge do something about their own addiction to bananas and work up the necessary human emotion and moral outrage to remove him as head of the zoo.

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                                                                        Steve Bannon, the idea-monkey of the Monkey Kingdom

So let me enumerate some of the thoughts that give me peace in the midst of this insane monkey-house cacophony.  (Cacophony is a good word to use around the topic of the monkey king because it has both the words “caca” and “phony” in it.)

  • Bannon is a very scary chimpanzee, but he is apparently on the outs in the court of the monkey king.  He got in a verbal kerfuffle with Orangutan Junior Kushner, and the monkey king has not recently crayoned his signature on the  poison-in-executive-order-form that Bannon cares most about.
  • Orangutan Junior Kushner is now in charge of everything under the sun.  All bananas now grow by his doings, and he can’t possibly run everywhere and poo everywhere to properly fertilize all the banana trees.  And considering the toxic qualities of the monkey king’s banana trees, we probably don’t really want them to grow anyway.
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Orangutan Junior Kushner has taken to wearing Trump-style hair.

  • The Russian banana pilfering has put all other monkey initiatives on hold.  The monkey king was planning to create monkey laws with the elephants that would prevent most other animals from having any hope of health care.  It made its way successfully through the Elephant House and was supposed to move on to the Elephant Senate to be officially stamped with the notion that providing the other animals with mythical “access” to health care wasn’t just a way to make animals pay all their money to insurance piranhas and still not be able to afford any real health care.   Now they are forced instead to talk about other banana-related things.
  •  And on the subject of bananas, the monkeys and the elephants actually have them all already.  So we don’t have to worry about having bananas.  We probably never will.  All they have left for us are the peanuts.  But they like to take and eat our peanuts too.  The good part of this is that peanuts are a healthy food for diabetics.  And, of course, you can’t die of over-eating if you cannot buy food.

So, the long and the short of it is this.  It is not hard to see the end of this struggle to survive the monkey king’s rule.  I, for one, will probably not survive.  But cutting the legs out from under the giraffe investigating the Russian banana pilfering was probably the beginning of the end of the monkey king himself.  The lions, wherever they have been hiding, will now come out and eat him.

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Pumpernickel Is More Than Just a Silly Word!

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We descendants of Germans  all understand something you all probably don’t know, and might have a hard time actually accepting.  Germans and German Americans like to simply call things what they are… but we do it with remarkably silly words so you don’t take things as seriously as you probably should.

Seriously…  Pumpernickel bread looks an awful lot like a cow pie.  Don’t know what a cow pie is?  That’s because you don’t speak Iowegian. Remember that post?  A cow eats grass, digests it for a while, bakes it in the secret methane chambers embedded secretly within every living cow, and then the old garbage shoot plops out the cow pie.  Flies love to eat it.  The grass grows fiercely after absorbing what the flies and maggots leave behind.  Yeah, that.

The bread originated in Germany where, as I have so graciously pointed out to you, they call things simply what it is.  Pumpern in German means to break wind. Nickel is a variant of Nicholas or Nick, which is the name der Teufel, err…the Devil often goes by.  So the bread is called, in its simplest translation, “Devil’s fart bread”.  Isn’t that rich?  And it tastes good too.

But what’s the point of praising pumpernickel?  Well, it brings to mind in Mickey’s mangled mish-mash of a mind an old Daffy Duck cartoon.

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Yes, the tale of the Scarlet Pumpernickel has been playing out in Monkey Town where the Great Orange Buffoon in charge of it all is busy making Nixon noises.

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“Yes, my lord, there is an investigation  into the Russian connection between your henchmen and Vladimir Putin,” said Director Comey.

“Hmmm…  Fake News!  Very Sad!” moaned the Buffoon.  “Comey, I appreciate you smearing Clinton and all you did to help the greatest most historic election ever… but you’re fired!

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“Aha!” says Comey, revealing himself to be the infamous hero, the Scarlet Pumpernickel “…now I have you, my lord! But, wait! Fired, you say?  Um, you do have the authority to fire me, don’t you.”

“Now, clear out your desk, loser!”

“Ah, but this action makes you look guilty, my lord.  Perhaps the sting of my sword of justice will prick you in the behind yet!”

“Sessions!  Defeat this loser for me!  Very sad, sick man!”

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“Me thinks you have not heard the last of the Scarlet Pumpernickel!” cried Comey as he leaped out the tower window into the chasm with a river at the bottom far below.

What happens in the next episode of the saga of the hero named after devil fart bread?  Only time will tell.

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Interesting way to introduce my latest Monkey President cartoon attempt to depict Trump… no?  You do realize he’s a German American too?

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Sometimes Humor Isn’t Funny

He isn’t the funniest late night comedian.  But he is, in my opinion, one of the top three.  I rarely watch him anywhere but on YouTube, well after the fact.  But his monologue about the birth of his son had me riveted.  Is it possible to dry yourself out completely and turn yourself to powder just by crying?  That’s what it felt like.

If you haven’t already seen it, you should.  But having a heart means you will need something to mop up the tears.  The people whose job it is to make you laugh sometimes make a more important point by making you cry.  True, I may be more affected by his story about spending time in an ER in agony over what happens next to your child because I have been there with my own children.  I have lived it.  And the story he tells brings it all back like the storm has started raining sledge hammers instead of rain.  But anyone with at least a little bit of empathy will get the point he is trying to make.

Humor is like that.  It makes you laugh to soften the pain.  But it also makes you cry because that is how it changes you for the better.

In Mark Twain’s classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,  I find a lot of things to laugh it.  The schemes of the King and Duke are ridiculous and they get what’s coming to them by the end.  Yet, I cried at the part where Huck finds the dead body of his young friend Buck Grangerford shot to death in the creek by the feuding Shepherdsons.  It was a totally brutal and senseless death.  And we learn more about the hypocrisy of slavery and its injustice and cruelty by the sadder, more painful things that happen to Jim along the journey.  Humor is meant to be weapon against the things that harm us.  And sometimes the people who harm us.

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It is relatively easy to laugh at the mutant racist orangutan we accidentally elected to lead us.  But the laughing part is not the part we need right now.

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The damage he is doing may be permanent and irreparable.  He is trying to profit off of health care reform and destroying it in ways that may kill many of us.  He may have already done permanent harm to the environment by removing regulations with executive orders.  There is reason not only to be moved to tears, but to be horrified to the point that we need to take immediate action.

Jimmy Kimmel has been through a hard thing and deserves our empathy.  But even more that that, if you heard the appeal at the end of his monologue, the tears he made us cry are reason to take action, and thank him for his courage in using his tragic moment to lead the way.

 

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Doom Looms, Dear Ones

So, now that my imminent demise by lack of affordable health care is guaranteed, I decided to celebrate by Googling the words “Doom Looms”.  The following collage of doom and oddities in image form is the result.

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This is Dr. Doom, not Trump.  Trump would never admit a flaw.

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Stephen Hawking recently declared that we will not survive as a species if we don’t move off the planet Earth within the next 100 years.

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North Korea is at least keeping Trump entertained.

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