Tag Archives: rants

The Bitter Black Hearts of the GOP

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Yes, this is another pitiful attempt by Mickey to be a political cartoonist fighting the good fight by slaying the bad guys with really weak and awful satire.  But I can’t help it.  Just as Popeye had a powerful urge to sock goons in the puss with his spinach-fueled twister-sock,  I have to throw some derfy toonage at the vile and heartless members of the GOP (Greedy Old Perpetrators).

After all, they are easy to make fun of.  Republican job applications all start with the question, “Which cartoon Dick Tracy villain or comic book Batman villain are you most like?”

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They do things like organizing an Oversight Committee for the sole purpose of spending millions of dollars to point fingers at Hillary and shout the name of a North-African town where diplomats died basically because of budget cuts to security ( a Republican budget) and shout it loudly until people begin to think Hillary must have had something to do with it because men with heads shaped like sports equipment are shouting it so much.

And Republicans are able to do this stuff because they know how to win elections and control the government.

Basically what I am saying is that Republicans cheat.  They get to rule even though they generate fewer votes in the country.

And what do they do with that power once they have it in their tiny, tiny hands?  They use it to make more money.  The rise of the billionaire class in the last thirty years is evidence that they are insanely good at it.  Do they use that money and power to help their neighbors and better the lives of everyone?  Of course not!  Why would you think that?

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Republican priorities are obvious when you look at the first things on their agenda.  They want to roll back environmental protections and pour more pollutants into rivers and into the air.  They want to do away with Obamacare to eliminate the extra taxes that wealthy people have to pay.  They want to prevent people from immigrating from lands where people don’t have white skin, because the only part of a Republican that can be black with the full approval of their party, is the heart.  Yes, that part can be jet black and rancid.

Take that, evil Republicans!  Wait, why are you laughing?  Didn’t my satire slay you?

Oh, well, another day, another cartoon.

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Oopsie!  Wasn’t that heart supposed to be black?

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Toccata and Fugue in D Minor

Johann Sebastian Bach may or may not have written his organ masterpiece, Toccata and Fugue in D Minor in 1704.  All we know for sure is that the combined efforts of Johannes Ringk, who saved it in manuscript form in the 1830’s, and Felix Mendelssohn who performed it and made it a hit you could dance to during the Bach Revival in 1840 made it possible to still hear its sublime music today.  Okay, maybe not dance to exactly…  But without the two of them, the piece might have been lost to us in obscurity.

The Toccata part is a composition that uses fast fingerings and a sprightly beat to make happy hippie type music that is really quite trippy.   The Fugue part (pronounced Fyoog, not Fuggwee which I learned to my horror in grade school music class) is a part where one part of the tune echoes another part of the tune and one part becomes the other part and then reflects it all back again.  I know that’s needlessly confusing, but at least I know what I mean.  That is not always a given when I am writing quickly like a Toccata.

I have posted two different versions for you to listen to in this musical metaphor nonsensical posticle… err… Popsicle… err… maybe just post.  One is the kinda creepy organ version like you might find in a Hammer Films monster movie in the 1970’s.  The other is the light and fluffy violin version from Disney’s Fantasia.  I don’t really expect you to listen to both, but listening to one or the other would at least give you a tonal hint about what the ever-loving foolishness I am writing in this post is really all about.

You see, I find sober thoughts in this 313-year-old piece of music that I apply to the arc of my life to give it meaning in musical measure.

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This is the Paffooney of this piece, a picture of my wife in her cartoon panda incarnation, along with the panda persona of my number two son.  The background of this Paffooney is the actual Ringk manuscript that allowed Bach’s masterwork not to be lost for all time.

My life was always a musical composition, though I never really learned piano other than to pick out favorite tunes by ear.  But the Bach Toccata and Fugue begins thusly;

The Toccata begins with a single-voice flourish in the upper ranges of the keyboard, doubled at the octave. It then spirals toward the bottom, where a diminished seventh chord appears (which actually implies a dominant chord with a minor 9th against a tonic pedal), built one note at a time. This resolves into a D major chord.

I interpret that in prose thusly;

Life was bright and full of promise when I was a child… men going to the moon, me learning to draw and paint, and being smarter than the average child to the point of being hated for my smart-asserry and tortured accordingly.  I was sexually assaulted by an older boy and spiraled towards the bottom where I was diminished for a time and mired in a seventh chord of depression and despair.  But that resolved into a D major chord when the realization dawned that I could teach and help others to learn the music of life.

And then the Fugue begins in earnest.  I set the melody and led my students to repeat and reflect it back again.  Over and over, rising like a storm and skipping like a happy child through the tulips that blossom as the showers pass.  Winding and unwinding in equal measure, my life progressed to a creaky old age.  But the notes of regret in the conclusion are few.  The reflections of happinesses gained are legion.  I have lived a life I do not regret.  I may not have my music saved in the same way Johann Sebastian did, but I am proud of the whole of it.  And whether by organ or by violin, it will translate to the next life, and will continue to repeat.  What more can a doofus who thinks teaching and drawing and telling stories are a form of music ask for from life?

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They’re Despicable!!!

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I had promised myself to put the whole political outrage stew in the freezer for a while, and stop picking at the meat and potatoes of it before it completely poisons me.  But President Pumpkinhead is imploding so fast I may miss out before incoming Russian and North Korean and even possibly Australian missiles begin nuking the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area.  I guess I simply have to boil it a little bit more right now.

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If I were going to script it as a psycho-consensual farce and put it on the stage, I couldn’t have written it any funnier.  It seems a couple of evil geniuses have been manipulating the pumpkin-headed guy so they could achieve their own personal ends.  They are selling him invisible clothing again.  And they will get away with it, too, because they are doing it in the context of the Republican Party.  The GOP, of course, is the party that cheats in order to win.  They gerrymander voting districts.  They suppress voters that are more likely to vote for Democrats.  And they maintain a lock-grip on the House where more people nationwide actually voted for Democrats, but that comes through the voting system as a Republican majority victory.  They are, as Sylvester says so juicily, DESPICABLE!!!  (Yes, I know, the triple exclamation point thing again.)

Tweedle-not-so-dumb and his twin brother, Tweedle-evil.

It appears that now that Hatchet-face Flynn, the Dick-Tracy villain who was in charge of National Security, committed treason by promising the Russians that Obama’s sanctions for hacking the American election would be overturned as soon as Trump took over the job as big cheese in chief.  And it not only appears that Trump knew about this (or is that gnu about this?), but even said after Flynn was fired that he would’ve approved of it if he had known… even though he didn’t know… (or gnu).

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Immediately thereafter, Football-head and Bowling-ball-head on the Congressional Oversight Committee (You know, Trey Gowdy and Jason Chaffetz who brought you the Endless Benghazi Hearings Follies and Republican Musical Review) went about the business of completely overlooking any possible wrong doing by the Pumpkinhead Administration.

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A Republican friend of mine once told me that he knew that all the crooks weren’t exclusively in the Democratic Party, but that’s the only place he really wanted to look for them.  It helped him sleep better at night.

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I spent a good share of last evening being lectured over Facebook by a conservative friend about not getting behind the Trumpkin bandwagon and scooping up the horse poop so they could continue their parade of doing Republican good things for the country (where “Republican good things” is a phrase that means destroying public education, taking away my healthcare since I have six pre-existing conditions, and dumping coal pollutants into rivers and oil pollutants into the air).  Apparently my writing stuff about Pumpkinhead Tinyhands that isn’t positive is a protest which constitutes terrorism, and I need to go to some other country like Canada where the commie-ISIS dictator is a libtard idiot just like me.  I don’t  have a right to stay here if I protest the elected government and the so-called humor in my blog and Facebook posts are unacceptably un-patriotic.  Apparently you can only call black presidents Hitler without being hooted out of the country by REAL AMERICANS.

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Apparently I am wrong about this man.  I am told he does not have a bowling ball for a head.

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Green and Fuzzy Blue Brainwork

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There is reason to believe I have to reroute some of the back roads on the road map of my thinking parts.  I have been spending a lot of time in Elizabethan England lately due to my obsession with who I think Shakespeare really was.   There are a lot of dark alleys to be plumbed on that section of the map.  I really admire the Roland Emmerich film Anonymous about Edward deVere, the Earl of Oxford being the real writer behind the works of Shakespeare, but I do recognize that it is a work a fiction, and an altered-history work of fantasy fiction at that.    So I find myself not yet ready to tackle that particular essay in the Shakespeare series as yet.  More think time and creative-mixing time is needed.  I need to stop at one of the quaint little mental inns on that particular Elizabethan back road and get some much needed rest for my Elizabethan conspiracy muscles.

Meanwhile back in the real world, Trumpzilla has been busy wrecking the world I live in with a bleak inauguration speech written by Steve Bannon that works its fire-breathing magic to blacken the hearts and perceptions of people I love and care about who also happen to be staunch conservatives.  My Facebook feed is up in arms about how many people actually attended the inauguration ceremony and how unfair the media is for trying to make it seem like Trump’s celebration parade was a deserted wasteland when in reality it was… well…  what’s a synonym for deserted wasteland that won’t offend conservatives who will bend or break any truth to defend Trumpzilla’s turkey-tweets?

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But then, as I was going to QT for my morning caffeine-addict’s fix of Diet Coke, I heard Lionel Richie’s song “Say You, Say Me” playing on the radio.  Ah, the perfect metaphor.  It is a song used as the theme song from the 1986 movie White Nights about a Russian ballet star who has defected to the US during the Cold War and then was in a plane accident-incident that put him back in the Russians’ clutches.  The movie stars Mikhail Baryshnikov, an actual Russian ballet star turned defector, and Gregory Hines, the American tap dancer.  It is a beautiful movie that features amazing dance sequences, Russian conflict of interests because the dancer wants to be free and yet misses his homeland and culture, and a resolution involving intrigue and escape.  In many ways, the plot, centered around a Russian threat and dark days in a place where the sun doesn’t set, is exactly what we are going through with Trumpzilla.  But the song is about two people communicating and eventually “coming together, naturally”.

It started me thinking about the purpose of this blog.  I mean, you obviously know that this blog is really about me talking to myself about myself, if you are one of those crazy few who actually read this far through a goopy blog post like this.  I use this blog to think about myself, the world around me, and even sometimes, like now, to think about thinking.  Yet, I have a duty to the reader to reach that point where our thinking comes together, naturally.  If not, then why bother to post and publish at all?

So here’s what I think about the Shakespeare question, written in the tavern room at the inn on parchment… with a quill pen.  The real Shakespeare was a writer just like me, writing for himself.  And he discovered through the play-writing process that he had to share that writing for himself with the great wide world, because the Prospero’s magic of it could change the world for everybody.  That is the real purpose of Shakespeare’s existence, no matter who he really was.  And that is the real purpose of my existence as well, even if I turn out to be nothing more than one of the top hundred best writers that no one ever actually read.

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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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Aunty Entropy Moves In

Mother Nature’s sister is one of those rich relatives you don’t really like, but have to endure.  She tends to take charge of everything and ruin all your plans.  Yes, we do not throw a party when Aunt Entropy comes to visit.  Well, at least not the happy kind of party where everybody has fun.  Aunt Entropy has come to stay for a while and take things apart.

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One thing Aunt Entropy likes about Texas is its utter dedication to fracking and oil money.    High profit motives have continued to force oil companies to pump toxic liquids into the underground to break apart shale and push out the oil.  We have fracking to thank for lower gas prices and Fox News talking points about no longer being dependent on evil ookie-icky foreign oil.  We also have it to thank for the current condition of the foundation of my little house.  Alternating years of flooding and drought have expanded and contracted the small hill the house sits on so much that the front end of the house has all but cracked off.  The frequent Dallas area earthquakes have no doubt helped this process.  Auntie Entropy clucks her tongue at it.  “Insurance doesn’t have to pay for this because you should have invested in foundation repair long ago.  It isn’t earthquake damage, it is neglect!”  Of course, my healthcare costs over the last decade have completely prevented any notion of paying out for foundation repair.  No one would loan a deadbeat former teacher money for household repairs just because he is old and broke and decrepit.  Lovely caring woman, that Aunt Entropy.

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The fracking related sinkhole under Wink, Texas… those lines around it are roads and highways.

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The Grandbury, Texas parking lot sinkhole which formed after heavy rain and a long history of fracking.

Aunt Entropy is, after all the personification of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics in the science of physics.  To put it simply, Entropy is a process by which matter and energy progress from a beginning state all the way to a final state.  In the case of our universe, the process goes from the Big Bang of creation to the final star winking out at the end of the universe as we now know it.  Entropy means the progress we are making towards the ultimate ends of death and decay.  Every action we take leads to a consequence and a further action until we are dead.  Not just me.   Not even just you and me.  But all of us, everywhere in the universe.  This is why the little things where our lives break down make Auntie Entropy smile when nothing else will.

Here are some things that make Auntie Entropy smile;

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The Orange King with golden crown and tiny hands may be our next president.

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The hatred and self-aggrandizement that he campaigns on have taken root in the fertile soil of fear and hatred that Fox News and conservative leaders have tilled and toiled over for so long.  They are beginning to bud with flowers… if you can call weeds flowers.  And they are bound to produce poisonous fruits.

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Mickey’s car is breaking down again because of heat.  After paying over a thousand dollars to get pot-hole damage to the front tire and rim repaired, the coolant pump gave out and had to be replaced.  Now the overheating warning light comes on daily and we are forecast to have dangerous levels of heat in Texas weather for the next few days.  I am going to have to decide whether to spring for more car repair, or go see the doctor about the pain in my extremities.  I won’t be able to afford both.  Oh, my aching bank account!

My wife is overseas in the Philippines spending a month with her family after the death of her father.  But she left her green card here.  I had to express mail it to her for a large amount of postage cost and risk losing it along the way in the mail.  She might never be able to return to this country.  Well, I do see that as a bad thing, after all.

So while Aunt Entropy is visiting… or rather living here permanently, and feeding us her bad-luck salad made with equal parts misery, misfortune, and mayonnaise, we must learn to endure her wicked sense of humor and micro-managing ways.

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Boo Boo Testing

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I miss being a teacher.  But even if I was suddenly healthy enough again to return to the classroom, I would have to think twice… or three times… or twelve times about it.  I know excellent teachers who are being driven out of the education field by the demands of the job in the current educational whirlpool of death and depression.  My own children are very bright and capable, but they face State of Texas mandated tests this next couple of weeks because that’s what we do in Texas, test kids and test kids and test them some more.  If we don’t stress them out and make them fail on the first round of testing, there will be at least two more to get the job done.  And believe me, the real reason for all the testing is to make kids fail.  It sounds harsh, and like one of my loony conspiracy theories, but the Republican legislature of this State has discussed in earnest how test results prove our schools are failing, and how we must certainly need to fund more private schools and schools for profit, and stop teaching kids on the taxpayer’s dime (although they don’t really care about my dimes, only the dimes of millionaires and billionaires which we have more of in Texas than we have ever had before).  Of course, these private schools they speak of will be for the children of well-to-do families, particularly white Anglo-Saxon protestant families.  Public schools will be okay for everyone else, preferably built next to for-profit prisons where the public-school kids will move after graduation.

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Arts and humanities-type class offerings are becoming increasingly rare.  We don’t teach them to be creative any more.  We have to focus on core subjects, Reading, Writing, History, Science, and Math.  And not the high-level stuff in any of those areas, either.  We test them on the minimum competency stuff.  But we make it harder every year.  Back in the 80’s it started when Governor Mark White let H. Ross Perot spearhead a school-reform drive that began with idiot-tests for teachers.  The Mad Dwarf of Dallas was convinced that the biggest problem with Texas Education was incompetent teachers.  But we didn’t test them on classroom management skills, or skill at motivating young learners.  We took basic English tests where the teachers weeded out were mostly black and Hispanic.  I helped one very gifted Science teacher pass the test which she nearly failed three times (the limit before contract non-renewal) since she was taking her teacher test in her second language, not her first.  When they finally got it through their heads they were only weeding out the good teachers with test anxiety, they changed the tests to make them harder.  They stopped giving life-time teaching certificates and made you prove that you were not an idiot every five years.

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It was Governor George W. Bush (a Forest Gump clone with DNA mixed in from Bullwinkle the Moose and Elmer Fudd) who decided that teachers needed to be weeded by demanding that their students perform to a certain level on standardized State tests.  If you watched the John Oliver video, you have a clear idea already of the value of that.  We worked hard for a number of years to do better on the alphabet tests.  The TAAS test became passable by most of the State, including the poorer districts, and so they replaced it with the TAKS test, a criterion-referenced test that they could provide all new and harder questions for every single year.  I sat on a test review board for two years as the representative of the Cotulla District in South Texas.  I got to see some of the horrendously difficult question before they were asked.  There were very real cultural discriminations among those questions.  Why should a Hispanic child in South Texas be required to know what “galoshes” are?  And when teachers began teaching to the tests well enough to get a majority of students passing, Emperor Rick Perry, the permanent Governor of Texas after Bush, decreed we needed STAAR Tests that students had to pass in order to graduate to the next grade level.  And, of course, we had to make them harder.

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When I started teaching exclusively ESL kids in high school (English as a Second Language) that special population was mostly exempt from taking the alphabet tests.  After all, it takes at least five years to gain proficiency in a second language even for the brightest among us, and all of those students had less than five years of practice speaking English or they weren’t qualified for the program.  But scores on the TAKS and then STAAR tests were generally too high.  So ESL and Special Education Students were required to take them too.  And, although the passing standards were lower for ESL students than they were for regular students, the passing standards were ratcheted up every single year.  And we eventually did worse than the expectation.  Our ESL Department got a lot of the blame for Naaman Forest High School in Garland, Texas losing its perennial recognized school status.  (We got the blame even though our scores were high enough to be rated exemplary on the sliding scale… it was actually the low socio-economic students in Math that lost us our yearly recognition… just so you know.)  The paperwork nightmares I had to fill out for our ESL Department were one of the reasons my health got so bad I had to retire.  Healthy teachers can’t take it any more either.  We are looking at a crisis in Education in Texas.  Teacher shortages in Math and Science are already apocalyptic.  We are intentionally doing away with Art, Band, Chorus, and other artsy-craftsy things… things that are good for the brain and the self-esteem and the creative problem-solving abilities of students.  Teaching has become a nightmare.

I hope you will take me seriously over my conspiracy-theories and lunatic teacher complaints.  I have been told too often that you can’t solve education’s problems by throwing money at it (though I do not remember the time they speak of when money was actually flying through the air).  I have been told too often that teaching isn’t a real job.  You just sit around all day and talk to kids and you have the summers off.  How hard can that be?  And I have been told too many times that Johnny can’t read, and it is apparently my fault as a Reading teacher… it can’t be anything politicians have done, right?  It certainly isn’t anything that politicians have done right!

God help me, in spite of all that, I really miss being a teacher.

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