Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016

2016 is a watershed year for me. It marks the year in which all that had been building since the mid Sixties for me came to a full culmination at last. It means that I no longer believe in our politicians, business leaders and government. I no longer believe in the judgment of most Americans. It does not mean I would immigrate, even if I could and had somewhere to go. My life is here. My destiny, if you will, is here. 

Awakening began with the Civil rights movement. It was clear to any with eyes to see that black Americans were being held down in society and often killed off with impunity. Dark skin and Spanish language put Latin Americans in a precarious situation also. Second was Vietnam. There was no compelling reason to waste so many lives:
Allied military deaths 282,000
NVA/VC military deaths 444,000
Total deaths 1,353,000

Simultaneously, it became more and more obvious the gains made by working Americans were being subverted, slowly at first, but more and more in evidence as decades rolled by. At first I blamed the conservative element of society for the backward movement of workers well being, because conservatives were vocal in resisting progressive change. The pushing of GW Bush into the presidency caused me to doubt more and more the Democrats for helping it and Iraq to happen.
Before Bush was Bill Clinton. 

Bill Clinton had been hailed by me as potentially the best thing to happen in my lifetime. What a disappointment. Ultimately he did more to further the conservative agenda than anybody since Reagan. He helped open my eyes regarding Democrats.

I have come to recognize that both political parties play both ends against the middle. Their biggest donors get all the benefit of their votes. The Democrats will throw the base a few liberal perks but when the chips are down their wishy washy nature causes them to retreat behind money. 

This is the year I became truly independent of both political persuasions. I will vote for a Bernie Sanders, given the chance. But not an Obama or Biden. There is no Republican I would consider.

I don't believe anymore.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Facing 2017

As I prepare myself for the new year, I think back to many things. Today I have been recalling a woman I first met about 1991. She called off of my ad for handyman work. We had just recovered from a hard freeze, an uncommon circumstance for southeast Texas. Her high sitting mobile home had been outfitted with unprotected PVC plumbing. There was not even skirting around it. The pipes had leaks. She asked me to repair them. I had not worked extensively with whole house PVC plumbing. I had no reason to think the entire exposed pipe system needed replacing, because, when I turned on the water pressure, there were just three visible leaks. I undertook to repair those leaks. That done, I found a few more leaks when I turned on the water. And again. I chased leaks all day. My bill to her was, in my estimation, not that high. But, as she told me, with great indignation, "I paid less than that to put it in new." She had to pay me by monthly installments, which I readily agreed to. The last payment was short ten dollars and I wrote that off. 

About fifteen years later, while working my job as maintenance at some apartments, I realized one day that the person living in a certain apartment was this same woman. She never showed a sign that she recognized me and I gave no clue. My memory was jogged, because she had a son living with her. He was an objectionable sort of guy, who took issue with every word out of my mouth. After repeated encounters with him, it dawned on me that he was the one that did me the same way in 1991.

She was a good woman, one who made crafts and sold them. She once gave me a wooden car her late husband had made. Our one issue with her was the incessant smoking, which carried into neighboring apartments. We had some hairy incidents over this. Eventually, she died. Her son immediately moved out, without taking anything of hers. He also refused to release the apartment, so we could empty it and rent it again. Eventually, we gained access. As we gathered all of her stuff, I could not help noting she owned several books on writing. She had worked the dream of becoming a published writer. Many objects about the rooms gave clues that proved her to be a complex person I wish I had gotten to know better in life. 

Her dreams all ended as we sent off the best furnishings to the Teams outlet in Tomball and the rest went in a dumpster. This tribute may be all that will remain to remind the world she was a fine woman.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas

I keep turning to that song, as vocalized by Bing Crosby, to be my anthem of the season. I appreciate Bing more these days than ever before. Chalk it up to nostalgia, a new appreciation of his talent - whatever. It fills me with warmth and sooths my troubled spirit. Last week, my sister and I had a divergence of opinion, which led to her disowning me, and ticking off all my bad traits and actions, ranging over the entirety of the past fifty years. I ended my last email to her by saying, "I am going to love you, whether you like it or not, and there is nothing you can do about it." It went to a seeming void, as she never replied. I possibly will not hear from her again, as she has written off other siblings in the same spirit.

Then, there is the action of today. It began innocently enough. My friend and co worker and I took a captured possum to the park for release. As we drove down the lane, a squirrel and then six deer crossed in front of us. The deer posed as we went by. I released the possum near the dumpsters, and the little guy made his dash to freedom. Our work got on track, and by lunch time I was thinking we would have a smooth time of it. As I stood by the microwave, awaiting my steaming roast chicken, a resident approached me. She was unable to get in touch with her uncle. I told the boss, and very shortly, we and the police went to his door. I was obliged to hop the patio wall, and then to break a window, so that I could crawl inside and unlock the door. Keys are useless when residents lock the upper, one sided dead bolts. He was on the bed, lifeless.

You might wonder that I was able to eat my lunch, but, I have always had to have my food, no matter the circumstances. 

I began the thread by writing about Christmas. I intend to have my joy this year, as every year. The human spirit needs holidays and aspirations for bettering life's circumstance. I compartmentalize disappointment and sorrow, separating them from my primary function of living for now in a positive way. And, so, I smile and wave, and sincerely wish one and all the best holiday possible.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Howl (2016)

I listened as they called my President a Muslim.
I listened as they called him and his family a pack of monkeys.
I listened as they said he wasn't born here.
I watched as they blocked every single path to progress that they could.
I saw the pictures of him as Hitler.
I watched them shut down the government and hurt the entire nation twice.
I watched them turn their backs on every opportunity to open worthwhile dialog.
I watched them say that they would not even listen to any choice for Supreme Court no matter who the nominee was.
I listened as they openly said that they will oppose him at every turn.
I watched as they did just that.
I listened.
I watched.
I paid attention.
Now, I'm being called on to be tolerant.
To move forward.
To denounce protesters.
To "Get over it."
To accept this...
I will not.
I will do my part to make sure this great American mistake becomes the embarrassing footnote of our history that it deserves to be.
I will do this as quickly as possible every chance I get.
I will do my part to limit the damage that this man can do to my country.
I will watch his every move and point out every single mistake and misdeed in a loud and proud voice.
I will let you know in a loud voice every time this man backs away from a promise he made to them.
Them. The people who voted for him.
The ones who sold their souls and prayed for him to win.
I will do this so that they never forget.
And they will hear me.
They will see it in my eyes when I look at them.
They will hear it in my voice when I talk to them.
They will know that I know who they are.
They will know that I know what they are.
Do not call for my tolerance. I've tolerated all I can.
Now it's their turn to tolerate ridicule.
Be aware, make no mistake about it, every single thing that goes wrong in our country from this day
forward is now Trump's fault just as much as they thought it was Obama's.
I find it unreasonable for them to expect from me what they were entirely unwilling to give."
Author unknown.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Getting Published

In past times, I tried my hand at self publishing. It was a self indulgent exercise, as such enterprises often are. I threw in every word I ever wrote, almost, with the exception of  a work I called Ollie Filbert, a novel for kids. The result was a ragged collection of stories and poems, in three unrelated volumes. I am proud of some of those tales and verses. The entire enterprise failed, which could have been predicted. Aside from the burying the best work under the weakest, I have no facility for self promotion and no money to hire publicists.

I am currently trying to wrap up a novel. At the same time, I have been peddling a short novel, titled, Beyond the Dark Water. BTDW, I am proud to say, has been picked up for publication. It is fiction based in autobiography and will be available in 2017. I have no illusions concerning money, but am very proud that somebody saw merit in this work, enough to promote it and put it in some bookstores.

I am still wrestling with the details, but I couldn't wait to share the news.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Hard to Talk Politics Anymore

I have backed off from most political discussions, while still expressing support and outrage over Standing Rock. Thankfully, the government has seen fit to move the pipeline yet again instead of attacking the ones calling themselves Water Protectors.

So many persons who ought to be allies are in such denial concerning the state of the union that I gave up trying to communicate. The ones supporting the president elect are floating in outer space somewhere. So I am sitting back, waiting for the liberals of America to coalesce yet again into a movement of clout. Whether as Green Party supporters or a newly directed Democratic Party makes me no never mind. I am dubious that the Dems will adapt, dubious that the Greens can muster the political sway, not optimistic about the midterm elections.

I hope there are a few Democrats with backbone still in office, but I don't know who they are these days. So, in essence, I am waiting to see who makes the first move next. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

"The Purple" - My Ford Ranger

When I bought my truck, I already had a Ranger. This one was for Mrs Arlo Clyde. As circumstances went, in my retirement, we decided this truck would be our sole transportation. She drives it to work every day. It sits high, has chrome wheels, is purple, is an automatic. One of the things I did when I first got it was replace the radiator. I figured I would be set, radiator-wise, for as long as I kept it. Several years later it is leaking again and I failed to get a warranty on it. I am puzzled that everything on that radiator, aside from the coils, looks like vinyl. Why did they they quit using metal? There is a hole about four inches from 
the top on one side. I feel like metal would have lasted. I have replaced a few radiators by myself, in the past, but I have the philosophy that hiring a good mechanic is cheaper and lasts better, these days. So in it goes tomorrow.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The teabaggers have two years minimum, possibly eight years, to fuck up the nation. They cannot any longer blame liberals, socialists, hippies, Obama, Benghazi and Whitewater for the nation's ills.

Monday, November 14, 2016

In Dreams

The alarm did not work this morning. As I picked it up and realized it was totally screwed up, the Mrs jumped out of bed, concerned she would be late for work. I was still lying there, monitoring her actions by the sounds, when the alarm went off. I got up and put on the coffee pot, still marveling how real that dream seemed.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

The Best Explanation I Have Seen

https://theintercept.com/2016/11/09/democrats-trump-and-the-ongoing-dangerous-refusal-to-learn-the-lesson-of-brexit/
THE PARALLELS BETWEEN the U.K.’s shocking approval of the Brexit referendum in June and the U.S.’s even more shocking election of Donald Trump as president Tuesday night are overwhelming. Elites (outside of populist right-wing circles) aggressively unified across ideological lines in opposition to both. Supporters of Brexit and Trump were continually maligned by the dominant media narrative (validly or otherwise) as primitive, stupid, racist, xenophobic, and irrational. In each case, journalists who spend all day chatting with one another on Twitter and congregating in exclusive social circles in national capitals — constantly re-affirming their own wisdom in an endless feedback loop — were certain of victory. Afterward, the elites whose entitlement to prevail was crushed devoted their energies to blaming everyone they could find except for themselves, while doubling down on their unbridled contempt for those who defied them, steadfastly refusing to examine what drove their insubordination.

The indisputable fact is that prevailing institutions of authority in the West, for decades, have relentlessly and with complete indifference stomped on the economic welfare and social security of hundreds of millions of people. While elite circles gorged themselves on globalism, free trade, Wall Street casino gambling, and endless wars (wars that enriched the perpetrators and sent the poorest and most marginalized to bear all their burdens), they completely ignored the victims of their gluttony, except when those victims piped up a bit too much — when they caused a ruckus — and were then scornfully condemned as troglodytes who were the deserved losers in the glorious, global game of meritocracy.

That message was heard loud and clear. The institutions and elite factions that have spent years mocking, maligning, and pillaging large portions of the population — all while compiling their own long record of failure and corruption and destruction — are now shocked that their dictates and decrees go unheeded. But human beings are not going to follow and obey the exact people they most blame for their suffering. They’re going to do exactly the opposite: purposely defy them and try to impose punishment in retaliation. Their instruments for retaliation are Brexit and Trump. Those are their agents, dispatched on a mission of destruction: aimed at a system and culture they regard — not without reason — as rife with corruption and, above all else, contempt for them and their welfare.

After the Brexit vote, I wrote an article comprehensively detailing these dynamics, which I won’t repeat here but hope those interested will read. The title conveys the crux: “Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions.” That analysis was inspired by a short, incredibly insightful, and now more relevant than ever post-Brexit Facebook note by the Los Angeles Times’s Vincent Bevins, who wrote that “both Brexit and Trumpism are the very, very wrong answers to legitimate questions that urban elites have refused to ask for 30 years.” Bevins went on: “Since the 1980s the elites in rich countries have overplayed their hand, taking all the gains for themselves and just covering their ears when anyone else talks, and now they are watching in horror as voters revolt.”

For those who tried to remove themselves from the self-affirming, vehemently pro-Clinton elite echo chamber of 2016, the warning signs that Brexit screechingly announced were not hard to see. Two short passages from a Slate interview I gave in July summarized those grave dangers: that opinion-making elites were so clustered, so incestuous, so far removed from the people who would decide this election — so contemptuous of them — that they were not only incapable of seeing the trends toward Trump but were unwittingly accelerating those trends with their own condescending, self-glorifying behavior.

Like most everyone else who saw the polling data and predictive models of the media’s self-proclaimed data experts, I long believed Clinton would win, but the reasons why she very well could lose were not hard to see. The warning lights were flashing in neon for a long time, but they were in seedy places that elites studiously avoid. The few people who purposely went to those places and listened, such as Chris Arnade, saw and heard them loud and clear. The ongoing failure to take heed of this intense but invisible resentment and suffering guarantees that it will fester and strengthen. This was the last paragraph of my July article on the Brexit fallout:

Instead of acknowledging and addressing the fundamental flaws within themselves, [elites] are devoting their energies to demonizing the victims of their corruption, all in order to delegitimize those grievances and thus relieve themselves of responsibility to meaningfully address them. That reaction only serves to bolster, if not vindicate, the animating perceptions that these elite institutions are hopelessly self-interested, toxic, and destructive and thus cannot be reformed but rather must be destroyed. That, in turn, only ensures there will be many more Brexits, and Trumps, in our collective future.

Beyond the Brexit analysis, there are three new points from last night’s results that I want to emphasize, as they are unique to the 2016 U.S. election and, more importantly, illustrate the elite pathologies that led to all of this:

1. Democrats have already begun flailing around trying to blame anyone and everyone they can find — everyone except themselves — for last night’s crushing defeat of their party.

You know the drearily predictable list of their scapegoats: Russia, WikiLeaks, James Comey, Jill Stein, Bernie Bros, The Media, news outlets (including, perhaps especially, The Intercept) that sinned by reporting negatively on Hillary Clinton. Anyone who thinks that what happened last night in places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Michigan can be blamed on any of that is drowning in self-protective ignorance so deep that it’s impossible to express in words.

When a political party is demolished, the principal responsibility belongs to one entity: the party that got crushed. It’s the job of the party and the candidate, and nobody else, to persuade the citizenry to support them and find ways to do that. Last night, the Democrats failed, resoundingly, to do that, and any autopsy or liberal think piece or pro-Clinton pundit commentary that does not start and finish with their own behavior is one that is inherently worthless.

Put simply, Democrats knowingly chose to nominate a deeply unpopular, extremely vulnerable, scandal-plagued candidate, who — for very good reason — was widely perceived to be a protector and beneficiary of all the worst components of status quo elite corruption. It’s astonishing that those of us who tried frantically to warn Democrats that nominating Hillary Clinton was a huge and scary gamble — that all empirical evidence showed that she could lose to anyone and Bernie Sanders would be a much stronger candidate, especially in this climate — are now the ones being blamed: by the very same people who insisted on ignoring all that data and nominating her anyway.

But that’s just basic blame shifting and self-preservation. Far more significant is what this shows about the mentality of the Democratic Party. Just think about who they nominated: someone who — when she wasn’t dining with Saudi monarchs and being feted in Davos by tyrants who gave million-dollar checks — spent the last several years piggishly running around to Wall Street banks and major corporations cashing in with $250,000 fees for 45-minute secret speeches even though she had already become unimaginably rich with book advances while her husband already made tens of millions playing these same games. She did all that without the slightest apparent concern for how that would feed into all the perceptions and resentments of her and the Democratic Party as corrupt, status quo-protecting, aristocratic tools of the rich and powerful: exactly the worst possible behavior for this post-2008-economic-crisis era of globalism and destroyed industries.

It goes without saying that Trump is a sociopathic con artist obsessed with personal enrichment: the opposite of a genuine warrior for the downtrodden. That’s too obvious to debate. But, just as Obama did so powerfully in 2008, he could credibly run as an enemy of the D.C. and Wall Street system that has steamrolled over so many people, while Hillary Clinton is its loyal guardian, its consummate beneficiary.

Trump vowed to destroy the system that elites love (for good reason) and the masses hate (for equally good reason), while Clinton vowed to manage it more efficiently. That, as Matt Stoller’s indispensable article in The Atlantic three weeks ago documented, is the conniving choice the Democratic Party made decades ago: to abandon populism and become the party of technocratically proficient, mildly benevolent managers of elite power. Those are the cynical, self-interested seeds they planted, and now the crop has sprouted.

Of course there are fundamental differences between Obama’s version of “change” and Trump’s. But at a high level of generality — which is where these messages are often ingested — both were perceived as outside forces on a mission to tear down corrupt elite structures, while Clinton was perceived as devoted to their fortification. That is the choice made by Democrats — largely happy with status quo authorities, believing in their basic goodness — and any honest attempt by Democrats to find the prime author of last night’s debacle will begin with a large mirror.

2. That racism, misogyny, and xenophobia are pervasive in all sectors of America is indisputable from even a casual glance at its history, both distant and recent.

There are reasons why all presidents until 2008 were white and all 45 elected presidents have been men. There can be no doubt that those pathologies played a substantial role in last night’s outcome. But that fact answers very few questions and begs many critical ones.

To begin with, one must confront the fact that not only was Barack Obama elected twice, but he is poised to leave office as a highly popular president: now viewed more positively than Reagan. America wasn’t any less racist and xenophobic in 2008 and 2012 than it is now. Even stalwart Democrats fond of casually branding their opponents as bigots are acknowledging that a far more complicated analysis is required to understand last night’s results. As the New York Times’s Nate Cohn put it: “Clinton suffered her biggest losses in the places where Obama was strongest among white voters. It’s not a simple racism story.” Matt Yglesias acknowledged that Obama’s high approval rating is inconsistent with depictions of the U.S. as a country “besotted with racism.”

People often talk about “racism/sexism/xenophobia” vs. “economic suffering” as if they are totally distinct dichotomies. Of course there are substantial elements of both in Trump’s voting base, but the two categories are inextricably linked: The more economic suffering people endure, the angrier and more bitter they get, the easier it is to direct their anger to scapegoats. Economic suffering often fuels ugly bigotry. It is true that many Trump voters are relatively well-off and many of the nation’s poorest voted for Clinton, but, as Michael Moore quite presciently warned, those portions of the country that have been most ravaged by free trade orgies and globalism — Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa — were filled with rage and “see [Trump] as a chance to be the human Molotov cocktail that they’d like to throw into the system to blow it up.” Those are the places that were decisive in Trump’s victory. As the Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney put it:

Follow
Tim Carney @TPCarney
Low-income rural white voters in Pa. voted for Obama in 2008 and then Trump in 2016, and your explanation is white supremacy? Interesting.
10:09 AM - 9 Nov 2016
6,225 6,225 Retweets 7,867 7,867 likes
It has long been, and still is, a central American challenge to rid society of these structural inequalities. But one way to ensure those scapegoating dynamics fester rather than erode is to continue to embrace a system that excludes and ignores a large portion of the population. Hillary Clinton was viewed, reasonably, as a stalwart devotee, beloved agent, and prime beneficiary of that system, and thus could not possibly be viewed as a credible actor against it.

3. Over the last six decades, and particularly over the last 15 years of the endless war on terror, both political parties have joined to construct a frightening and unprecedentedly invasive and destructive system of authoritarian power, accompanied by the unbridled authority vested in the executive branch to use it.

As a result, the president of the United States commands a vast nuclear arsenal that can destroy the planet many times over; the deadliest and most expensive military ever developed in human history; legal authorities that allow him to prosecute numerous secret wars at the same time, imprison people with no due process, and target people (including U.S. citizens) for assassination with no oversight; domestic law enforcement agencies that are constructed to appear and act as standing, para-militarized armies; a sprawling penal state that allows imprisonment far more easily than most Western countries; and a system of electronic surveillance purposely designed to be ubiquitous and limitless, including on U.S. soil.

Those who have been warning of the grave dangers these powers pose have often been dismissed on the ground that the leaders who control this system are benevolent and well-intentioned. They have thus often resorted to the tactic of urging people to imagine what might happen if a president they regarded as less than benevolent one day gained control of it. That day has arrived. One hopes this will at least provide the impetus to unite across ideological and partisan lines to finally impose meaningful limits on these powers that should never have been vested in the first place. That commitment should start now.

* * * * *

For many years, the U.S. — like the U.K. and other Western nations — has embarked on a course that virtually guaranteed a collapse of elite authority and internal implosion. From the invasion of Iraq to the 2008 financial crisis to the all-consuming framework of prisons and endless wars, societal benefits have been directed almost exclusively to the very elite institutions most responsible for failure at the expense of everyone else.

It was only a matter of time before instability, backlash, and disruption resulted. Both Brexit and Trump unmistakably signal its arrival. The only question is whether those two cataclysmic events will be the peak of this process, or just the beginning. And that, in turn, will be determined by whether their crucial lessons are learned — truly internalized — or ignored in favor of self-exonerating campaigns to blame everyone else.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Harris County DA Race

I find Anderson's televised ad, defending the jailing of a rape victim, disgusting. The woman was traumatized, unstable? So, traumatize her more with jail instead of quartering her in a safe environment? A hotel room perhaps? I made it a point to vote so I could cast my vote for Kim Ogg. It was the only race where I could make a real difference where I felt any remaining passion.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Why I am voting for Jill Stein


I’ve been scolded by friends and strangers, sometimes mildly and sometimes with disdain, for supporting Jill Stein in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Some of the attacks I've received publicly and privately have been surprisingly angry and patronizing. I’ve been told that I’m a patsy for Donald Trump, that I’m na├»ve, misinformed, elitist, ignorant, and worse.
This has been an unusually carnivalesque election so far, from the primary season through to the “main event”, with a premium on vitriol and mendacity, dominated by a frequently disheartening lack of profundity and objectivity from the mainstream media.
This is the poorest two-candidate race for the presidency that I have ever witnessed the corporate media/political Establishment attempt to ram down the throats of the U.S. electorate.
So, why am I voting for Jill Stein?
I previously supported Bernie Sanders because he was, on many levels, a welcome voice speaking truth to power, drawing attention to rampant institutional economic inequality, racism, corruption in the electoral system, and the urgent need to address climate change. Like a lot of people, I was disappointed when Sanders lost the Democratic Primary race to Hillary Clinton.
I hoped at that point that he might join forces with Jill Stein and the Green Party, but he declined that unique opportunity.
Bernie never spoke to the all-important issues of U.S. economic and military imperialism the way that Jill Stein has consistently done, but he was a credible voice for change in many other areas. He made his choice to get on the Hillary Clinton Democratic Party bandwagon because he appeared to feel that it would be the best way to prevent a Trump presidency.
I understand and respect his stance, shared by many other well-intentioned and thoughtful people, but I believe it is short-sighted. It is not enough to simply say “I tried, I voted for Bernie in the Democratic Primary, but now I have to get in line behind Hillary.”
The powerful few who control national politics and the mainstream media by virtue of their overwhelming economic advantages are counting on supporters of Bernie Sanders and other political alternatives to now support the two Establishment candidates.
They are counting on no real change happening in the way this country is run and how average citizens are represented. At some point the system has to be overhauled, and the weeds have to be pulled out by the root. I do not want to reach the end of my life and have to accept that I did not vote my conscience as a citizen when it mattered most.
Democracy is not a fixed thing; it is an ongoing process that must be nurtured, pruned, and actively encouraged to grow or it will gradually cease to yield meaningful progress.
Times are changing and people all over this land - especially younger voters, who are the future of our republic's continuing democratic experiment - are awake and paying attention. They did not go to sleep when Bernie Sanders largely gave up the fight for significant change in our political-economic system.
Like many that supported Bernie, I trust Hillary Clinton about as far as I can throw Donald Trump.
Jill Stein is the only candidate with a serious plan to halt climate change and switch to 100% renewable energy by 2030.
She’s the only candidate, now that Sanders is out of the race, with a plan to release students from impossible levels of debt.
She’s also the only candidate who is talking seriously about Black Lives Matter, institutional racism, and police brutality—and she has realistic and workable plans to address these social problems.
She is also taking a stand against unexamined military overspending and the irresponsible and often criminal misuse of those who volunteer to serve in our country’s armed forces.
She eloquently draws attention to the patriots who are forced to fight in illegal, immoral, unnecessary, and unwinnable wars. As she has unflinchingly pointed out, "This results in a multitude of deaths, injuries (both mental and physical) and presents a crisis of conscience situation for many in combat.
Following discharge, veterans are much more likely to commit suicide, become homeless, become dependent on drugs or alcohol, and have significantly higher rates of divorce, spousal and child abuse.”
Jill Stein knows that these are problems that have not been honestly addressed, and that it is extremely unfair that those willing to give the ultimate sacrifice for their country are not properly supported or taken care of. Unlike Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, she will never deploy troops into unnecessary or illegal combat.
She cares deeply about our country being truly exemplary - in action and not just in high-sounding words uttered by our political leaders - as a member of the family of nations. For these and other positions that Jill Stein and her running mate Ajamu Baraka hold, I strongly recommend that voters take the time to have a look at the website jill2016.com and follow Jill Stein and the Green Party on social media.
You may agree or disagree with Jill on some points, but I sincerely believe that you are doing your conscience a disservice if you ignore her well-considered and constructive proposals.
If you feel, as I do, that the issues that only Jill Stein has the courage and decency to fully address need urgently to be part of the national political discourse during this election and beyond, please donate now to Jill’s campaign for President.
Jill's campaign has been hit hard by the Clinton campaign’s fear-mongering, which has seriously driven down donations. You can help push back against these unprincipled attacks by making your defiant contribution today.
So, why am I voting for Jill Stein?
Because I have done my best to inform myself about the many important issues that face our country, because I am following my conscience as an engaged citizen and a passionate supporter of the democratic process.
Because now is the time, not later, because I will not be intimidated by those who operate out of fear of significant change, because I will not be dissuaded by those who are understandably nervous about thinking long-term, about standing firm in the eternal battle for socio-economic justice and true political freedom in this country.
Because I am proud to be part of an ongoing, centuries-old democratic experiment that ought to always stand for fairness, compassion, and strength based on common sense and human decency at home and abroad.
Because there is always hope.
Because all we need to do to help it thrive is to embrace it and cultivate it to the best of our abilities in a conscious effort to eliminate the real obstacles to liberty and justice for all.
Viggo Mortensen"

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Voting in Tomball

I drove to town at about two thirty. There was a massive crowd of maybe thirty at the location on James Street. It took perhaps five minutes in line to reach the polling officials, who demanded photo ID and registration card. (Could have sworn the court called demand for picture ID illegal, or something.) The people were friendly and helpful, all around me.

The electronic voting machine befuddled this old man, for a minute or two, but I was soon dialing that thing like a penny machine at the Lake Charles casinos. I particularly wanted to lend my support to Kim Ogg, who vows to to handle reluctant to testify rape victims other ways than by jailing them.

I voted a mix of Green and Democrat, fulfilling a vow made during Reagan's second term to never vote Republican, not ever again. My vote at the top of the ballot went to Jill Stein.  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Mail in Ballot

At my advanced age, I have been getting a mail in ballot every four years, as a matter of course. No application has been necessary. This year, they either bypassed me or the letter carrier ditched it. Getting one now would be more trouble than simply going down and getting in line. And I don't really mind doing that. It's just I got spoiled to mulling over the ballot and spending a little extra time examining the down line candidates and propositions.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Further Wasp Adventures

We resumed the war on her wasps.

What a day. I spent four and a half hours working on the neighbor's house, putting insect bombs in the attic and overhangs, killing two or three wasp nests. Then caulking all the cracks and holes across the entire end of the building at the frieze board level. We caught the wasps by surprise and got them all, but three or four sentries who waited till nearly the end to attack. We killed them all, but not before one stung my back. I can't guess how many trips I made up and down the ladder. These devils are so persistent and clever - Even though it seems like we got them every one, I have to wait and be certain.

She is my age, so I charged her a little. Not as much as I would a stranger. I actually was stung twice. Before the wasp, one of the great bees that seem to live a solitary life in the ground finally had it with our activity and stung my back also. Neither sting bothered me much. I have never been allergic. This morning, you would not believe I had been stung at all. 
Insects are incredibly aware. Consider that the sentries watched us and were smart enough to attack my back, where I was defenseless. The bee also.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Time For NaNoWriMo

November is NaNoWriMo novel writing challenge, where you sign up and vow to write 50,000 words in one month. I did it last year, but will be too involved in other projects to join in this year. My experience taught me more about writing than any classes with exercises and I recommend it to all aspiring writers. Just click on the link my blog provides and sign up.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It's not from being stupid rednecks

https://www.texasobserver.org/east-texas-trump-voters-lansdale/

Voting for Trump is about being part of a large reality show. Really.

The general view of the non-Trump supporter is that those who have chosen to vote for him are rednecks with 12 teeth, six of them in their coat pocket, and it’s possible those teeth might be on loan from someone else. The majority of these Trump supporters are listed primarily as White Uneducated Voters, which is code for “stupid redneck.” The kind of folks who kept their first grade report card because they’re proud of the D they made in conduct. (I made a C.)

However, I know a large number of people who make good money, are well-educated, appear to have a dental plan, and yet, they too are voting for Trump. To me this is as baffling as trigonometry, which until recently I thought had to do with Roy Rogers’ horse.

Thing is, the support of Trump in Texas — and I speak specifically of my region, East Texas — goes beyond the smart and the not so smart, the educated and the uneducated. It is more a result of what I like to call the happily stupid; the ones who hold stupid views by choice, not due to lack of intelligence, but due to a kind of tribalism. Facts that interfere with their version of the world are there to be ignored. It’s like putting a hat on a pig and insisting the porker is your Uncle Frank, contrary to all other evidence.

Trump has provided a dark, dank hole into which these folks can dump whatever it is they’re mad about. Even contradictory views, since Trump frequently changes viewpoint in midsentence, can happily nest there, swelling and breeding like poison fungus.

Most of what Trump is selling shouldn’t convince a distracted 12-year-old, and certainly it’s hard to see how a conniving real estate tycoon represents the average person, but those are the people he has made the greatest inroads with. It certainly isn’t due to his sterling personality. He always seems like the mean little boy whose last fun moment was beating his pet hamster to death with a chair leg.

He has said horrible things about women, people who are overweight (no mirrors at his house?), folks with disabilities, LGBT folks, POWs, Hispanics, African Americans, and the Muslim parents of a decorated soldier who died in defense of his country. He may as well have insulted ice cream and apple pie. He is a tax dodger, and has somehow tried to spin his financial losses and abuse of the system into proof that he’s a genius because he knows how to game the system. He has a false charity, a false university, and, due to his concern about the size of his sex organ, may well be filling his pants with a stuffed sock.

He always seems like the mean little boy whose last fun moment was beating his pet hamster to death with a chair leg.
But his supporters don’t care what he says or does. Trump could have unhealthy relations with a dying donkey on the White House lawn and they would see it as him being refreshingly politically incorrect, and isn’t there a chance that donkey could have illegally crossed the border from Mexico and got what it deserved?
They have decided to hear what they want to hear and dismiss the rest. But this isn’t as new as some suggest. What appeals to the Trump supporter is what has long appealed to the Republican Party. Before, it was thinly concealed, like a cheap coat of whitewash over bathroom graffiti. No longer. Now we know for certain what’s written on the wall, and what has been going on in the basement.

Trump is the Frankenstein monster Republicans have been tinkering with all these years, and now It’s Alive! and running amok. Seems to me, the only thing left now is for Trump to divorce his current wife and marry the proper Bride of Frankenstein, Ann Coulter. That way, if he wins the Republicans will have their perfect first lady.

Donald Trump
Patrick Michels
Trump appears at a campaign stop in Austin in August.
The idea that Yankees and liberal opinions are destroying the South, and in this case Texas, has long been at the core of conservative politics, for as William Faulkner once said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even the past.” For many, the Civil War might as well have been yesterday.

Republicans since the ’60s have run elections on hatred of the outsider, imagined hordes of freeloaders, or merely those who are different, working up fears of roving gangs of negro youth prowling the streets in search of mischief, along with invading Mexicans who want nothing more than to drive drunk and unlicensed and run over innocent white children. Another fear that seems rampant is women wanting to have a say over their own reproductive organs, and you might as well throw in negativity toward transgender folks who would like to use public restrooms: Hard-shell Republicans prefer they go pee-less.

It’s a jungle out there. At least, to hear the Republicans tell it. But what it’s really about, in earthier conservative circles, is a chance for people to feel important, to think they are standing on the lines of freedom, fighting back the zombie hordes. What drives these folks is fear; but for many, it’s a delicious fear.

It’s a chance for the bored and disappointed to play army, a way to justify having tons of guns and ammunition. They feel that if not for their vigilance, dead-eye aim, and concealment due to camouflaged pants and a Duck Dynasty cap, we would be standing on the edge of a precipice looking into the bowels of hell.

Guns have replaced the previous religion of Texas, which was football, and Trump is the high priest. Fear sells, and it stimulates.
This view, well sold to many, has contributed mightily to the current rabid gun culture. People I know, this is all they talk about: stopping power, how far you can sight a target, and having a stock sturdy enough to crack a skull at close quarters when you run out of about a zillion bullets.
Guns are a symbol of fear, but they are also a symbol of power, a way for the everyday person to feel important and potent, to be a participant in the great game show of life. Guns have replaced the previous religion of Texas, which was football, and Trump is the high priest. Fear sells, and it stimulates. Trump and his cronies constantly tell us, without actual facts, how bad crime is and how evil all foreigners are — especially if they dress funny — and they repeat over and over the false information that the economy is on the verge of collapse and you better build that bunker and stock up, because if you don’t, all you’ll have for protection from the certain rise of crazed liberals is harsh language.

This is a world so many conservative Republicans feel they can control. A frightened world. A world where the happily stupid, bless their little hearts, can thrive within their own fear-based mythology. A place where those with and without teeth, with and without educations, will happily pull the lever for the Great Pumpkin come Election Day.

Joe R. Lansdale is the author of more than 40 novels and 300 short pieces of fiction and nonfiction. He is Writer in Residence at Stephen F. Austin State University.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

TPP Exemplifies Why I No Longer Respect the Democrats

Ten Reasons the TPP is not "Progressive"
This link gives some good reasons to stand against our government in the matter of this and other trade agreements.

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After TPP goes into effect there are not going to be enough politicians with the integrity to overturn it for a long time. Many will make excuses, but the bullying and bribery will prevail, based on the history of these things. 

I used to laugh at the conservatives who railed against one world government. Now I see big business as constructing a global network beyond the power of governments to contain their expanding wealth and power. TPP is one of the most ambitious programs they have come up with. When the network is complete, resistance will be futile.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Spiders - Attempting Coexistence

When I worked at the apartments an exterminator told me that instead of trying to poison spiders, the way to deal with them is to remove their webs every time they put one up. They get tired of it and go someplace else. My experience: For years, every time I walk around the house, I have to remove a spider's web. Sometimes it moves a small ways, but invariably returns to the same spot. Also, in my kitchen, a spider took up residence under the wooden shelf I fixed over the sink. Every night, I run a damp cloth over the area and every morning I still feel a spider web against the back of my hand when turning on the water. But I can never spot the spider. This has been going on for months. I don't intend to kill any of them. I do wish they would heed that exterminator's advice.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Robert Reich Plea for Your Vote

Robert Reich
 
Can we have a word? I continue to hear from many of you who say you won’t vote for Hillary Clinton because, you claim, (1) she’s no better than Donald Trump, or (2) even if she’s better, she’s still corrupt, and you refuse to vote for the “lesser of two evils,” or (3) you don’t want to reward the Democratic Party for corrupt primaries that gave the nomination to Hillary instead of Bernie Sanders.
Please allow me to respond.
(1) Anyone who equates Donald Trump with Hillary Clinton hasn’t been paying attention. Trump is a dangerous, bigoted, narcissistic megalomaniac with fascist tendencies who could wreak huge damage on America and the world. Hillary isn’t perfect but she’s able and experienced. There is simply no comparison.
(2) Even if you see Hillary Clinton as the “lesser of two evils,” the greater of two evils in this case (if you see the choice in these terms) is seriously evil. You've probably had occasion in the past to vote for someone who doesn’t meet your ideals, when the alternative is someone who falls much further from those ideals. This doesn’t mean you've sold out or compromised your principles. You've just been realistic and practical. Realism and practicality are critically important now.
(3) I understand your frustration with the Democratic Party, and your reluctance to “reward” it for its bias against Bernie in the primaries. But anything you do that increases the odds of a Trump presidency isn’t just penalizing the Democratic Party; it’s jeopardizing our future and that of our children and their children. All of us must continue to work hard for a political system responsive to the needs of ordinary Americans. The movement Bernie energized must not and will not end. But Donald Trump, were he to become president, would set back the cause for decades.
There are just over 7 weeks until Election Day. My request to those of you who still don’t want to vote for Hillary Clinton: Please reconsider. It is no exaggeration to say the fate of the nation and the world are at stake.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Reminiscing the old Western Movies and TV Shows

In earliest childhood I developed an affinity for cowboy movies. The cowboys I idolized were pure of heart. They only fought when necessary and rarely shot to kill a man. Hopalong Cassidy and Gene Autry stood out for me. Roy Rogers was overly glitzy and did not match my notion of a real cowboy. Hoppy often took time during one of his adventures to have an inspirational talk with the kid in the movie. It was quite a thrill to see him, Windy and Lucky, riding in from the Bar 20 Ranch, getting involved in righting a wrong. 

As my early heroes faded there was no shortage of new ones. Gary Cooper in High Noon. Gregory Peck in The Gunfighter. Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda as Frank and Jesse James.

Westerns had grown more complex. In my opinion, the greatest western of them all was the radio and early television versions of Gunsmoke. William Conrad and Parley Baer as Matt Dillon and Chester Goode were totally believable as the tough marshal and deputy team in uncompromising tales of old Dodge City. I was disappointed in James Arness in the TV version, as being too young and smooth, but at least the early shows were faithful to the radio scripts. It gradually evolved into a soap opera. 

Gunsmoke has been touted as the ultimate in westerns for so long that the true quality of the others has been dismissed, even by fans of the other films and series. There were "adult" westerns before High Noon and Gunsmoke. They just never had the hype that made them so commercially successful. 

Then there are the spaghetti westerns. Most of them are crude and not so well told. I don't even like Once Upon a Time in the West. But, The Good the Bad and the Ugly rests atop the heap as one of the best westerns I have seen. 

I watch the reruns, daily, and pick out the bit players and lesser stars these days, often surprised at who they turn out to be. I have gained new respect for many of these actors and have learned the names of some I never even noticed when the shows were new.

I am a fierce gun control advocate, but I will love these gun toting good guys and outlaws as long as I live.