Category: Politics

Weird Scenes #109: Constitution Much?

Weird Scenes #109: Constitution Much?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. – The Constitution of the United States of America, Amendment 1, enacted 1791, up for virtual repeal, Fall 2020.

Our Constitution is supposed to be the supreme law of our land, yet the above paragraph has never carried the full weight of law, certainly not as written. That’s a shame, as these 45 words are very specific, clear-cut, and quite elegant. They mean we can’t pass laws that favor individual religious philosophies, no matter how unpopular they may be, or laws that obstruct other religious philosophies, no matter how popular.

Freedom of religion always means freedom from somebody else’s religion: your right to exercise your religious beliefs ends where the next person’s religious rights begin, and so on to all 332,000,000 Americans. It does not say “except for Mormons, Santerians, Scientologists, Muslims, Jews, and whomever else offends the beliefs of those who run things.” Marginalizing them as “cults” is bigotry.

Therefore, Supreme Court designate Amy Coney Barrett is, arguably, the most unAmerican and most dangerous person in the nation today.

This is not because Ms. Barrett is conservative. Some of my best friends, as they say, are conservative. It is because she is fully committed to ramming her specific religious predilections down everybody else’s throats. According to the New York Times, she is a member of the People of Praise group and is accountable to a personal adviser, called a “head” if male and a “handmaid” if female. Husbands are the heads of their wives and therefore run the family. Current and former members say that these advisers direct all important decisions, including who its followers can date or marry, where they can live, whether to take a job, and how to raise their children. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #109: Constitution Much?”

Weird Scenes #108: What The Hell?

Weird Scenes #108: What The Hell?

He is the president but wants to be the king / Know what I like about the guy? Not a goddamn thing / I want to know, how can four years seem so long? / Lord have mercy, what the hell is going on? — What The Hell?, written by Elvin Bishop, 2020

It’s not Trump. History tells us most dictators and despots are deposed after a while, one way or another. Mental and emotional basket cases in major positions of power such as our president have been a dime a dozen. Unfortunately, they’re like Kleenex. Pull one out, the next one pops up immediately.

This is because a certain percentage of our population is weak and incapable or unwilling to think for themselves. They possess a powerful need to feel superior to others, so they buy into a system of venomous bigotry that marginalizes and sub-humanizes various groups of people they deem inferior because they do not possess the same skin color, religious philosophies, sexual orientation, gender and/or ethnicity as “real Americans.”

I used to think humans were basically good. Sure, we’ve all got our foibles, and there are a small handful of true deviants out there that require observation, but overall I’ve been pro-humanity. I stuck to this for two-thirds of a century. Silly me. I have been the great native naïvitist.

Then, about 63,000,000 Americans voted for Trump. “Say what?” I said. It doesn’t matter that Clinton received three million more votes than Trump. America is not and never has been a democracy. We are a republic and republics can be manipulated quite easily. The proof is in the White House right now. The proof is at the Trump rallies, the Republican QAnon fanatics running for office, the Bugaloos and their fellow agent provocateurs, and on the Supreme Court — the “highest” court in the land even now, 120 years after the Court stopped serving itself cocaine wine.

The fact is, Donald J. Trump could be shot dead at high noon on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue (instead of the other way around, which, you will recall, Trump said he could do without suffering any consequence) and we would still be left with those 63,000,000 paranoid goose-stepping hating cowards marching around this nation supporting the murder of Black people by police, the religious totalitarians who believe their so-called values and only their so-called values are kosher, the environment is doing swell, the Covid virus is a Democratic Party hoax, the liberals are going to confiscate your guns, and the people who think everybody on welfare are thieves and people not wealthy enough to afford health care deserve to die.

Yeah. Herd mentality, indeed.

The America we were taught to love and respect in school and in our houses of worship and on television barely existed on its best day. That’s what an experiment in progress is all about. It’s time to put the lie to that one. We’ve had our moments, but today America exists only as a fool’s paradise.

Watch the next five weeks as what’s left of the Republican Party lies, cheats and steals its way to cementing their dictatorship. One nation, by the people, for the wealthy, one nation under Trump and his cackling puppeteers.

I’ll vote because I haven’t missed an election yet. It’s a habit. Voting used to be an act of optimism but, today, voting is an act of rebellion. Maybe some good will come out of it; clearly, it’s worth the shot. It might be our next-to-last bullet in the chamber before that second Civil War starts.

So. Riddle me this. Who was worse, Hitler or Trump?

That one is easy. When the chips were down, at least Hitler had the decency to commit suicide.

Weird Scenes #107: Seditious or Insane?

Weird Scenes #107: Seditious or Insane?

Trouble with you is / The trouble with me / Got two good eyes / But we still don’t see / Come round the bend / You know it’s the end / The fireman screams and / The engine just gleams — Casey Jones, written by Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia, 1970

People really are little more than complicated machines. We’re made of a different type of material, but we are the result of an assembly of various parts that combine to create a unit. Now that we’ve got robots making robots, this analogy is all the more appropriate.

Eventually, all machines break down. Some vital part is going to go blooie just when you’re changing lanes on the highway. Your keyboard is going to meltdown when you’re on deadline for Pop Culture Squad. Your scalpel is going to break when you’re half-way through posterior cerebral artery. I am not trying to minimize that pain when I quote the most famous bumper-sticker of all time: “Shit happens.”

When a machine breaks down we take it to a mechanic. When a people breaks down we take it to a doctor. These days, the major difference between is the amount of liability insurance they each needs to carry.

In Manhattan yesterday, a subway train derailed after a 30 year-old man allegedly tossed metal tie plates, a.k.a. D plates, onto the trackbed right before the A train pulled into the 14th Street Station. Thankfully, no one was injured and the approximately 150 passengers were able to exit through the rear car. The front cars wound up looking like an accordion after a Gallagher concert. The miscreant was seized on the platform and held for the police to take him into custody.

Tens of thousands of passengers throughout the subway system were inconvenienced, many massively, due to the rerouting of the four different lines that use that station and the resulting back-ups on other routes. Were it to have happened today, Monday, hundreds of thousands would have been late to work at the very least. Since I’m writing this on Sunday, it’s possible repairs won’t be complete by Monday’s morning rush, so this could happen anyway.

The New York Daily News, which appears reasonable only because the other daily New York City newspaper is owned by Rupert Murdoch (the New York Times is a national newspaper having about as much to do with NYC as the Wall Street Journal has to do with Wall Street), referred to the suspect as “a laughing homeless saboteur.”

I’ll concede the “laughing” part as there were witnesses. “Homeless” was a label hanged around his neck by his appearance; there was no way to know his status at the time of arrest but “homeless” is often seen as evidence of a crime. Perhaps he was homeless, but at the time of the incident that was a presumption. The issue of who he was went unanswered.

But “saboteur?” Really? Are we being told when this man woke up Sunday morning and decided to go to the subway station at 14th Street and Eighth Avenue with the intention of screwing up people’s lives by tossing loose D plates onto the tracks? If so, why? Are we certain of that? What do we really know? Where are the confirming quotes from those who could knowledgeably comment on this seditious behavior?

The seditious part would please Trump’s weasel-shill William Barr, but the claim he was a saboteur was without justification. Did he look like the stereotypical late-19th century bomb-tossing anarchist that’s all the rage these days?

All this is very presumptuous and that’s not the way I was taught back in journalism school. Then again, very little of what I read today follows that training. Who-What-When-Where-Why? Feh. It’s so much easier to jump to clichéd conclusions. There are few fact checkers left to tell editors what a fact checker does.

Let’s take a different look at this. Perhaps this guy was not a saboteur. Perhaps he was suffering from a mental illness. His actions indicate that possibility, and rather strongly. But we rarely treat mental illness unless the patient is white and at least fairly well-off. We just toss them in prison to satisfy our morally bankrupt sense of justice which is merely a euphemism for revenge and does little to make our planet safe.

According to the American Psychological Association, at least half of those in our prisons suffer from mental health issues, and between 10% and 25% have serious mental health issues. We’ve got 2.3 million people incarcerated; you do the math.

Between our lack of journalistic ethics and our lust to jump in order to pass judgment without the tedious tasks of due process and fair play, we have reduced America to a gaggle of nattering nabobs of negativism; busybodies who want to lock our problems behind bars instead of dealing with them.

The saddest part is, this analysis explains a hell of a lot about what’s going on in America these days.

Weird Scenes #106: COVID Don’t Give A Peep!

Weird Scenes #106: COVID Don’t Give A Peep!

We had time and space and freedom, / We had love and peace to spare / Though we ran out of things to smoke and say and eat and wear / And the morning of the avalanche / The Yeti kidnapped Blanche / And took her to his cave up in the Rockies. – Colorado, by Christopher Guest, Sean Kelly, and Tony Hendra, 1973

I will concede most of us are going crazy from the COVID lockdown. For a social Darwinist like me, though, is there is a bright side. Those who are not going crazy are out infecting and being infected by their fellow science deniers. As my father often told me, “you always gotta learn the hard way, don’t you?”

Uh-oh. There goes another chunk of my bleeding heart liberal street-cred. Well, easy come, easy go.

I feel sorry for the kids, although most have made out pretty good. Every politician claims the kids are desperate to go back to a real school. Yeah, you betcha. I have no doubt a small group of tiny freaks do feel that way, but the rest are just pissed off they’ve run out of things to do and friends to do it to. It’s the parents (certainly not the teachers, as they tend to value life) who want real school to start. They feel they have earned the right to chose sanity over safety. But parents already knew they made that sacrifice the day they decided to have kids, so um tut sut, mofos. You people brought these beings into this world, and you are obligated to keep everything kosher until they are old enough to change your diapers. Revenge is a dish best served old. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #106: COVID Don’t Give A Peep!”

Weird Scenes #105: Zombie Fires!

Weird Scenes #105: Zombie Fires!

Talk with your mouth full / Bite the hand that feeds you / Bite off more than you chew / What can you do? / Dare to be stupid — Al Yankovic (Weird), 1985

When it comes to wildfires, we here in the States tend to think of California… as well we should, particularly right now. This year’s deadly conflagrations have spread to Oregon and Washington State. Or, as President Tang says, “those antifa anarchist states.” Wildfires have done a world of harm to Australia as well. And, now, Russia.

But… the arctic circle? And… zombie fires? ZOMBIE FIRES IN THE ARCTIC CIRCLE?

Wow. That one didn’t even make it into the bibles. And they sadly shit-canned the revered Weekly World News, so you might not have heard of zombie fires.

According to the World Wildlife Fund’s Arctic Program Director Peter Winsor, a zombie fire is one that starts in the permafrost layer. Those things consist of frozen soil, silt, gravel, frozen plants and animals and sand bound together by frozen water. Such layers can be hundreds of meters thick – or, in midtown Manhattan terms, about two blocks thick, which is deeper than many Broadway potholes. A good place to find permafrost is in the arctic circle, where its less likely to break down due to lower warming conditions. Those last two words are known in the writing racket as “foreshadowing.” Continue reading “Weird Scenes #105: Zombie Fires!”

Weird Scenes #104: Crossing The Line

Weird Scenes #104: Crossing The Line

Hey Jessica, you’re so funny / You’ve got teeth just like Bugs Bunny / Oh, so you think you know me now / Have you forgotten how / You would make me feel / When you dragged my spirit down? / But thank you for the pain / It made me raise my game / And I’m still rising, I’m still rising – Jessie J, written by Abrahams Kyle James and Astasio George, 2011

Whenever Donald Trump, a.k.a. the John Wayne Gacy of American presidents, does something that “crosses the line” — and this only happens on days that end in “y” — I am reminded of a classic Bugs Bunny routine. I’ll bet most of you folks already know the bit.

Bugs is being chased (and vice versa) by Yosemite Sam. Bugs stops and draws a line in the ground. “I dare you to step over that line,” Bugs challenges Sam, who then crosses the line. “How about this line?” He crosses that line as well. Bugs continues drawing lines and Sam keeps on crossing them, now by rote. Eventually Bugs draws the last line, on the edge of a cliff, and Yosemite Sam crosses it and falls to his cartoon death.

Here on Earth-Trump, the one in which we are compelled to live, we have yet to see that final scene. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #104: Crossing The Line”

Weird Scenes #103: The Fire This Time

Weird Scenes #103: The Fire This Time

Self-destroyer, wreck your health / Destroy friends, destroy yourself / The time device of self-destruction / Light the fuse and start eruption / Paranoia, the destroyer / And it goes like this. — Paranoia, written by Ray Davies, 1981

Over my life-span I’ve been to Kenosha, Wisconsin dozens of times. It’s not quite the bucolic little anti-urban town President Tang’s choir members have been saying it is, as in “That’s the real America, and they won’t stand for these uppity communist terrorists.” Not true. It is a nice, previously pleasant, city that has the honor of being in two overlapping, blue-voting metropolitan areas. You can catch a commuter train that will take you straight to downtown Chicago, you can catch a bus that will take you to downtown Milwaukee.

Or you can take a long gun, put it in a car, drive 30 minutes from Antioch, Illinois and start shooting “antifa,” just like Überfuhrer Tang asks you to do. You could do this even if you’re 17 years old. You may be too young to vote, but you’ll get pardoned well in time to participate in Tang’s third presidential election. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #103: The Fire This Time”

Weird Scenes #102: That OTHER End of the World

Weird Scenes #102: That OTHER End of the World

Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our sons and our grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty. — City planner and architect Daniel Burnham, 1891.

I’m going to try to do something different this week. I’m going to see if I can make it through this episode of Weird Scenes without once mentioning President Tang. Place your bets, folks.

For the past six months, we have been focusing on what seems like the greater evil — the COVID plague. It is the greater evil, but let’s assume — for the moment — we beat it. We survive. Make no little plans, Daniel Burnham said about 130 years ago, and I have tried to live my life by that slice of wisdom.

But… what happens the day after that? We won’t be out of the woods… except, maybe, literally. How do we keep our planet safe? Where else are we going to live?

Perhaps you’ve heard of a place called Death Valley. For those who only remember a rather crappy Ronald Reagan television series by that title, it’s actually a real place in eastern California. It’s part of the Mojave Desert, and it’s not quite the best part. The name of the town tells us most of what we need to know: it ain’t a walk in the park, it’s a vast, hotter than hell wasteland. The Timbisha Tribe still lives around there, just in case you think our First Americans are being well taken care of. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #102: That OTHER End of the World”

Weird Scenes #101 — Everyday Surrealism

Weird Scenes #101 — Everyday Surrealism

There’s danger on the edge of town / Ride the King’s highway, baby / Weird scenes inside the gold mine / Ride the highway west, baby — The End, written by The Doors, 1967

As I walked upstairs to my Scribbler’s Sanctorum to write these words, I noticed daughter was watching a hockey game. That’s hardly unusual in this house; both of us are hockey fans and unless otherwise occupied we will watch any game that has a puck and a dearth of New York Rangers fans. But instead of nodding my head in regret, I was thinking of how surreal our times have become.

I do not believe we have ever had the privilege of watching the Stanley Cup playoff games in the middle of a workday afternoon. I’m pretty damned certain we never had new playoff games aired live in August. Hockey in the height of summer just feels wrong. To be fair, so does a team in Las Vegas, where it is (as I type) 106°. And I know for a fact that the Las Vegas Golden Knights, who dress like Doctor Fate on stakes, beat the Chicago Blackhawks Tuesday night. Las Vegas, very hot. Chicago, very cold. The only thing we’re missing here is Porky Pig’s landing at Wackyland. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #101 — Everyday Surrealism”

Weird Scenes #100: Black Like He?

Weird Scenes #100: Black Like He?

I miss the old Kanye, straight from the ‘Go Kanye / Chop up the soul Kanye, set on his goals Kanye / I hate the new Kanye, the bad mood Kanye / The always rude Kanye, spaz in the news Kanye / I miss the sweet Kanye, chop up the beats Kanye / I gotta to say at that time I’d like to meet Kanye – I Love Kanye, written by Kanye West, 2016.

You may have heard of Kanye Omari West. He is a very successful rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, and fashion designer… and now, he’s a presidential candidate.

When it comes to businessmen as presidential candidates, I will say this: he is far more qualified, experienced and successful then the current clown-in-chief, President Orangeface. But he’s probably no more qualified than, oh, let’s say, you are. Or either of my cats. I’m just playing the odds here.

Don’t matter none. Orangeface has set the presidential bar so low it doubles as a sewer pipe. Yeah, West has made it onto a couple state ballots and doubtlessly will do so in a couple more — mostly swing-states, and that is for a reason.

As it turns out, major Republican campaign operators have been “assisting” West’s efforts to become our next president. You’d think they would be working for the reelection of Orangeface. Continue reading “Weird Scenes #100: Black Like He?”