Category Archives: rants

Cartoonists Trying to Save the World

Back in the 1870’s (you remember it as well as I do, don’t you?) a cartoonist named Thomas Nast basically invented the political cartoon.  Back then, a bloated New York politician and his gang of criminals were busy getting wealthy through corrupt business and government relationships.  Nast used his gift for scribbly-art satire to lampoon the buffoons and make the public laugh at the evil he exposed.  Of course, they knew about the corruption of Boss Tweed before they laughed at the cartoons, but the focus on the problem created by Nast’s magnifying glass focusing the rays of sunlight on the problem is often credited with helping to burn up the scandal.

Cartoonists had power back then.  Power over public opinion.  The power to help fairly uncomplicated (and sometimes stupid) folk to recognize the absurdity of the situation and the need for changing it.

So why haven’t cartoonists fried the Make-America-Great-Again orangutan running the country now with his brand of corpulent corruption already?  Believe me, they are trying.

They have already highlighted the way the Bozo Administration manipulates the focus of the mainstream media.  Every time media coverage begins to converge on one scandal, he creates another big, smelly media poop of a controversy to redirect their focus.

And while he is doing his big shoe dance on the tables in the spotlight, congress is doing his rich friends’ evil will in the back rooms.

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The end result of this malevolent dog-and-pony show is patently obvious.

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Unfortunately, in the 1870’s, the stupid people that Thomas Nast was enlightening had not yet achieved the profound levels of shoot-yourself-in-the-foot stupidity that Trump supporters have now mastered.  Poor and middle-class Republicans, Texans, and other dim folk continue to take the Great Pumpkinhead at his word and believe every utterance of his mouth to be sacred gospel truth.  I have had conservative friends arguing themselves into pretzel-knots to defend his policies and dastardly deeds.

But if cartoonists can’t succeed in shining sunlight on the bloodsucking vampiric old moneybags and kill him soon, his reign will become immortal and we are all gonna die.

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Seriously.  We stand at the end of a long chain of greedy b*st*rds raping and pillaging the environment for profit and not caring about the impact of their actions.  We are dooming the planet to environmental collapse because the orange-faced name-stamper cares more about short-term profits for himself and his friends than he does about whether or no his own grandchildren will have water to drink, air to breath, and a place to live cool enough that metal doesn’t melt in the sunshine.

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So, I hate to be a double-trouble downer about the whole thing, but the truth is if we are depending on cartoonists and humorists to save the world, we are in trouble.  It is not working the way it did in Nast’s day.  Cartoonists are doing their lampooning and doing it well.  But more is needed.  And if we don’t get that something more soon, then (to incorrectly paraphrase and misquote T.S. Eliot), “This is the way the world ends… Not with a whimper but a bang!”

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I Do Not Love Thee, Mr. Trump

Okay, I gave the monster a chance to prove that he wasn’t as bad as I thought he would be.  But he has proven to be worse than I thought.  We always think that if we had lived in 1930’s  Germany, we would’ve stood up to Herr Schickelgruber.  (Fun fact; Alois Hitler, Adolf’s father, was born out of wedlock to Maria Schickelgruber and later took the name Hitler from the man who married his mother.  So legally, the Fuhrer was actually Adolf Schickelgruber… a fact that humorists of the day used against him to get themselves exterminated.)  Well, now is the time to test that resolve.  There are eerie similarities between that old Fascist dictator and the incoming one. (Another fun fact; Trump’s family name was Drumpf in the old country.  His grandfather, Friedrich Drumpf came to this country at the age of 16 and English-ified his name to Fred Trump.  This is a fact I learned from comedian John Oliver.  Proof at Snopes.com  You should remember the name John Oliver.  He is both informative and funny, and when Donald Drumpf changes the libel laws to include the death penalty, Oliver will be one of the first to go.)

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I started this blog to promote my humorous science fiction novel, Catch a Falling Star, and to write humor in the gentle, toothless way I always admired in Red Skelton, George Goebel, and Jack Benny.  Self-effacing slapstick and subtle funny is funnier than insult and bite funny that is all the rage now… at least in my opinion.  But there are also things that happen that galvanize history itself, and you have to respond appropriately.  You have to take a stand.

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My entire life has been dedicated to educating kids.  I sacrificed my youth and health… and part of my sanity to it.  And now, this re-heated Twinkie with delusions of grandeur and epically bad hair has put an enemy of public education in the cabinet as the Secretary of Education.

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In fact, he has chosen cabinet officials specifically for the purpose of deconstructing their departments.

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“What?  The EPA controls nukes?  I couldn’t even remember this danged department!

His transition team represents a total contempt for the democratic duties of government to protect and empower the people who voted him in.

So, I have resolved that I will never recognize this man as my President.  I am part of the resistance that stands against him.  I will not address him as anything but Mr. Trump.  He didn’t earn the title fairly under that cloud of Russian hacking, collaboration over oil between Trump and Putin and Exxon who now runs the State Department.  He didn’t earn that title fairly when the Director of the FBI wrote a letter announcing more emails to Congress right before the election, and then later revealed there was nothing important in them.  He didn’t earn that title fairly when he failed to denounce white supremacists who supported him and after the election win were emboldened to commit hate crimes while shouting his name.  He will be the worst president in history, though I think he will be an heir to the throne of world’s most pernicious dictator that Herr Schickelgruber could be proud of.

I Do Not Love Thee, Mr. Trump!

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Finale – Why The Bad Guys Always Win

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There is ample reason to believe that rich guys always win because they have enough money and power to change what is true.  I don’t believe for a second that John F Kennedy was killed by a lone gunman.  But rich oil men, other politicians, CIA operatives who were fighting for their continued existence after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the FBI, and probably Vice President LBJ all wanted us to believe that, so it is still the official story today.  And don’t get me started on 9/11 with that whole bag of spiders and incongruous inconsistencies that Dubya refused to investigate further.

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There are a lot of evil Bond villains out there, but the 007-type superhero agents don’t really exist.  No one is thwarting the things that seriously need to be thwarted.

Converting from oil and fossil fuels to solar and other renewable energies does not profit the Moonraker schemes that are going on out there.  Some rich folks have even talked loosely about schemes to reduce the population of the planet to make the damage to the environment into a more manageable mess.  After all, what are the Georgia Guide Stones really all about?  You can look up what is actually written upon them.  It is worrisome.  And who is advocating for us, the common people in these sorts of schemes?

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The truth of it is, no matter what we do, or who is out there trying to advocate for us, the United States will not last forever.  Neither will humanity as a species. Neither will life on Earth.  Forever is simply not in the realm of the achievable.  Only destruction and renewal are guaranteed.  So, in some ways, it is okay if the bad guys ultimately win.  My life will end in the next few years no matter what.  And my children will not last forever either.  But the ending of the book does not take away all goodness and value to be found in the main text.  I have lived a good life, and not even God Himself can take that away.

That is not to say that we are without hope.  As I said, we don’t actually know who is out there standing up for us now.  There are some very good and noble people putting  immense effort into the task of securing our future.  We don’t know what adaptations and breakthroughs are yet to be made.

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Here are some things to think about.  It is statistically almost certain, given what we know now about life science, that there is life on other planets in this vast universe.  And if there is life, there is almost certainly intelligent life, some of it far more advanced than we are.  And if interstellar distances can in any way be crossed, then they already have been.  If time travel is possible, then time travelers already walk among us.  The only reason we don’t have actual proof of these things is that someone doesn’t want us to know.  It is possible that they don’t want us to know for our own good.  Not all of the most powerful and wealthy among us are evil.

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So, while it is true that bad guys always win because the system is rigged, and they are the ones who rigged it, that doesn’t mean that there will be nothing for the rest of us.  There is a limit to how much money you can actually benefit from owning.  There is also a limit to how much pain and suffering a single bad guy  can inflict upon us.  And even if they band together in large, powerful groups, there will always be more of us than there are of them.

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“Because I Said So!” (Why Bad Guys Always Win – Part 3)

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Didn’t you hate it as a kid when Mom or Dad used to pull the royal decree maneuver on you rather than give you the real explanation?  “Why can’t we get a new dog to replace the one the junkyard dealer ran over with his truck?”  “Because I said so!” 

Yes, they pull rank or site ultimate power of authority or simply bully you into letting them win the argument.  Nixon said, “If it’s the President of the United States who does it, then it is legal.”  Remember, though, that Nixon was forced to resign shortly after that.

Now, Donald Trump says, “The President can’t have a conflict of interest,” by which he means that he doesn’t have to sell off his international real-estate holdings and put his assets into a real blind trust (not one run by Ivanka).

Does he get away with it?  It will mean, according to ethics lawyers from both the Obama and Bush administrations, that he will be in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution as soon as he takes the oath of office.  So, of course he will.  Just like Mom and Dad after we buried Scamper.

Obama, as President, was forced to do most of what he did by Executive Order because he was a Democrat, and to a Republican Congress, that means he is automatically in the wrong.  Still, he managed to enforce his will with the I said so’s at least until the righteously heroic Republicans achieved their miracle victory with President-Elect Babyhands Von Clownstick.  Now, of course, his overreaching abuse of the I said so power to do terrible things, like allow undocumented children fleeing from violence and persecution to take shelter in this country, will now all be undone.

Of course, when a Republican is President, that’s different.  Republican Presidents are automatically good and patriotic and protecting the people even when they are lying to create a profitable war in Iraq to benefit Darth Cheney’s Halliburton interests.  Lonesome George the Rodeo Clown when he was President issued all sorts of Executive Orders that were not questioned even by Democrats, let alone opposed or reversed.  In the hands of a Republican President, I said so power is more absolute than Emperor Palpatine’s use of the Dark Side of the Force.

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So under President Donald J (for Joker, revealing his secret identity as a Batman villain) Trump, the “Because I said so!” will be absolute.  Rosie O’Donnell, Bill Maher, and Jon Stewart had better get used to the idea of waterboarding in Guantanamo.  We had all better get used to the idea of the White House being plated in gold leaf.  And I had better hope, having written an essay revealing the Cinnamon Hitler’s actual super power, that nobody actually reads this blog anymore.  If you would like to help ease my fears, you could always leave a comment in the comment section that includes the words, “I did not actually read this post.”

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Terrible Trumpkin Trolls

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A new Sith Lord has arisen to take charge of the new GOP Totally Dominant Empire of Evil.  He has successfully usurped the throne of power even though the Democratic candidate actually got over a million more votes than he did.

And one of the most surprising things about it is how accidentally the pieces of the Republican Empire seem to have fallen into place.

Lord Trump has benefitted from several evil and self-serving plots that the Republicans have been advancing since the rule of Lord Darth Ronny.  Reagan appointed Scalia of the Many Scales to the Supreme Court.  Scalia and Roberts (a minion appointed by Darth George W. the Rodeo Clown) created the Citizen’s United plan to bathe evil candidates in blood money from billionaires.  They also conspired to loosen the grip of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to allow voter suppression to run rampant in places like Florida, Texas, and North Carolina (two of which should’ve gone blue instead of red without the interference).  The FBI, led by Republican minion Comey, managed to keep the email scandal alive right up until the very week of the election even though they had to admit no evidence of wrong-doing was ever uncovered.  And it seems that the Russian hackery of emails and the publishing of them by Wikileaks might even be connected to statistical anomalies from districts where electronic voting machines were used.  Clinton may have lost 30,000 votes dropped by voting machines in Pennsylvania where she lost the State by 27,000.

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Of course, the victory conditions were not really set up to benefit Donald Trump.  The Republicans had intended all along to get a more competent Sith apprentice into the seat of ascendancy like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or even, if forced to, a (shudder) moderate like John Kasich.  But Trump used incendiary rhetoric to fill the downtrodden masses who are suffering from the demise of the middle class with hatred and blame-bombs, effectively turning them into a vast army of Trolls.  And, unfortunately for the rest of us, Trumpkin Trolls are much better shots than stormtroopers ever were.  All that time in the NRA paid off.

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So, simply by accidentally taking the power for himself, Lord Trump has killed us all.  Yes, I mean literally.  He will pull us out of climate-change agreements and revitalize the use of coal to turn this planet into Venus where it is more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit on the surface due to rampant greenhouse effects.

And he has plans to put racists, warhawks, misogynists, and criminals in the highest positions of power.  If you don’t believe me, investigate the background of Sith Apprentice Steve Bannon even just a little bit.   He claims darkness is a good thing.

“Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power. It only helps us when they (liberals) get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing,” Bannon said in an interview published Friday, his first outside of Breitbart since the election.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/18/politics/steve-bannon-donald-trump-hollywood-reporter-interview/

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One might imagine that Trump Ice Cream would be Nazi flavored.

I know people who voted for Trump.  They are not racists and do not share some of the hateful ideas these Trolls embrace as their own.  I imagine they feel betrayed already by Lord Trump.  If they don’t, they should.

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Trump celebrated his rise to the top of the Sith leadership with a scary Trump-head cake.  Presumably during the celebration, at some point, they ate his head.

 

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A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future

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…Except it ain’t zactly funny. Somehow we let the orangutan take over the zoo.

I did tell you the world would end because the Cubs won the series.  Now we have to pay for our excesses and mistakes.

No more Obamacare.  The monkey vowed to repeal it.  And I have six pre-existing conditions, four of which may cost me any and all health insurance.

No more Paris climate agreement.  The monkey likes to burn coal and pollute the air with carbons because it makes money and his monkey friends like it.  Global warming turns the Earth into Venus.

No more nuclear agreement with Iran.  The monkey promised to tear it up.  He hates Iran’s particular flavor of invisible sky-friend.  He believes it gives him the right to kill them, kill their families, and take their stuff.  He is an aggressive and thoughtless monkey.

And I saw this all coming.  My Bubba friends all kinda like this monkey because he says all the things they want to say and get away with… even in polite company.  There are a lot of Bubba friends in this country.  Some of them are not even angry all the time.  Some of them are not even white.

And now that the dust has settled from massive monkey tricks, voter suppression in southern states, lies from Fox News, and Comey’s “Oh-one-more-reminder-about-emails”, the White House will become the Monkey House.  I doubt this essay will get me thrown in prison.  The monkey doesn’t read… except for Twitter.  And he doesn’t understand metaphors.  And I never used his real name in this post.

But everything that’s bad in life gets worse… and then you die.  So I have a little while yet to live and love and make the best of life.  But the monkey wins in the end.

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Getting Schooled on Testing

Florida Parents Sue Over State Testing

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The war has started.  The first shots have been fired in Florida by an irate group of parents in seven different school districts.  Their children were a part of the growing wave of “test-day opt-outs” that are occurring in every State that uses a high-stakes State test to determine students’ fitness for being promoted to the next grade, consideration for accelerated programs, and evaluating teachers for competence, ability, and possible execution.  State tests have developed such power over our learning lives that students and teachers obsess about them to the point of making themselves ill with stress.

The districts being sued have all decided that since the students who opted out did not take the tests, they have therefore not passed the tests, and have no right to be promoted to the next grade level.  So, a whole lot of sweet, pig-tailed little honors students that avoided super-stressful testing are now weeping over the prospects of still being in the third grade as their BFF’s now advance to fourth grade.  180+ days of instruction with a teacher does not apparently count at all towards advancement.  State tests are sacred.

You can tell by Florida Governor Skeletor Scott’s evil grin that he is quite satisfied with how State tests are working out.  After all, State tests provide aggregate data that public schools are failing in Florida.  Emperor Perry and the Crowned Prince Gregg Abbott of Texas have used them for the same purposes in the State where I spent my career teaching.  Low performing schools are taken over and run by a State agency.  Funds are cut to public schools.  Art and band and music programs are dropped in favor of remedial teaching and repetitive basic courses.  More money is given to private schools, magnet schools, and charter schools whose test scores prove they are more worthy of spending it (especially since the wealthier kids with fewer handicaps from their background are the ones going there, while kids from lower-income groups, minorities, special-needs students, and English language learners are generally kept out).

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And, of course, State tests can weed out the teachers that the State deems incompetent, unworthy, and, well… goofy because those teachers who don’t mindlessly engage in test preparation, don’t have students who score well on tests.  The State can use this means to get rid of teachers who are too innovative, popular among their students, creative, engaging and nice.  It can promote teachers who have “good discipline” because students constantly fill out test-preparation worksheets mindlessly in their classes all day.

But the numbers are there to prove the State is right about education.  Test data exists in black and white.  How can anyone argue that numbers don’t tell us which kids are stupid and which kids are acceptable?  How can I argue it?

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Well, it helps to be able to understand the endlessly boring hours of test analysis that teachers are subjected to by school administrators panicking about how poorly they are soon to do on the high-stakes test.  I happen to be smart enough to hear and understand how the tests measure what they measure, and what they actually mean.  For example, the reading portion of the State test emphasizes certain skills over other skills.  Inference, the ability to draw conclusions from the evidence given in the text and determine what is true by logic, is given more weight in the scoring than simpler abilities like factual recall or simple spelling ability.  Scores are not a matter of the percent of questions the student answer correctly.  They are based on which skills and sub-skills the student shows mastery (80% or higher success).  A student can get 80% of all questions correct and still fail the test.  And for some students with learning difficulties, developmental delays, or English-as-a-second-language difficulties, those more valued portions of the test are still beyond their current level of functioning.  I have worked for schools that received commendations for their tests scores.  I led a middle school writing program that topped expectations on writing scores through middle school and high school. I have also worked at schools who were punished for low test scores, and worked for good principals who lost their jobs because the scores were beyond their control.

I pray that the judge in Florida will support the parents and censure both the heartless school districts and the State testing program of Florida itself.  Darth Vader’s education system should not be winning.  We need to go back to the source and learn from Jedi Master Kenobi…. or even Yoda again.

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