Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hispanic Hysteria

                                 Image result for fidel castro

Cuban dictator Fidel Castro is dead and the entirety of the Cuban American community of Florida rejoices. The Floridian Cubans are Republicans and "bigly" supported the election of Donald Trump. They are happy that Fidel is dead, and hope for more freedom for their families that remain in Cuba.

When Castro took over Cuba, he ousted a dictator, Batista, friendly to U.S. interests. A wave of refugees fled the island, heading to Florida and the American Dream of freedom and prosperity.

I presume that it is wilful ignorance on the part of these refugees, and sons and daughters of those refugees, that had their current champion, Donald Trump, been the President during those halcyon days of yore, their path to freedom in America would have been blocked. The anti-immigrant fervor of today would have prevented those Cuban political refugees from entering the United States. Deportations would have followed.

The Trump era is also a post-ironic era.

Hispanics, thy name is Hypocrisy.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Figures of Speech

Bravo to the company and producers of Hamilton for exercising their freedom of speech in an after show message to Vice-President Elect Pence who was in attendance that night. Cast member Brandon Victor Dixon read the prepared statement to the audience.

The backlash has been fascinating. Reverting to his uncontrolled middle of the night Tweeting, Donald Trump registered his displeasure by accusing the cast of bad manners and calling for an "apology". He has decreed that a theater is a "safe space" and the treatment of Pence was scandalous.

Pence, surrounded by a phalanx of Secret Service agents, would be hard pressed to feel "unsafe" anywhere. Now, to be sure, a Broadway theater isn't a typical "safe" public place, like a Trump campaign rally. At any number of Trump rallies, protesters exercising their free speech rights were physically attacked by Trump supporters who Trump actually encouraged. He offered to pay the legal bills for the thugs that carried out his violent wishes. At the Hamilton performance, audience booing of Pence was admonished and the prepared message was respectfully given. Pence walked out during it as though he were retreating from a Broadway Cares fund raiser.

I doubt if the recent Broadway engagement of Lewis Black would have passed muster with Trump and his dictum of Broadway theater "safe spaces". How about Lenny Bruce at Carnegie Hall? Unlikely. Trump can not stand criticism or dissent. In previous incarnations as a failed casino operator or a meaningless reality TV star, his buffoonery could be overlooked as just so much personal promotion and blather.

Now, he's the President-Elect, and his quirky twitchy manner of carrying himself just won't fly. If he is going to trample on freedom of speech and expression, his besotted followers may well go along with him. The true remaining Americans, though fewer than we ever could have imagined there being, will resist. 

No, We Didn't Take It

Twisted Sister, a band I was lucky enough to be a fan of right up until they achieved national success has just finished their farewell tour. Lead singer Dee Snider just released a solo album and here was the review of it that I posted on Amazon:

I am an old time SMF of Twisted Sister. For me, this is the album that should have been the Twisted album that would have helped the band evolve after Stay Hungry. The calcified museum piece that Twisted has been for years at various festivals was the road that would have best been not taken. Forget for a moment the personnel dramas the band had to deal with, the better thing for Twisted, and the fans, would have been to evolve. The best of the rock bands, whatever genre, become that way by, carefully, adding new influences and new directions to their music. Bowie, The Stones, Led Zep, were all bands that Twisted took from, and their multi-faceted careers should have been the example for Twisted to follow.

Twisted wasn't a heavy metal band, though they played heavy metal. They weren't a glam band, though they looked like it. They weren't punks, but they played like them, at least in the clubs. They meteoric success of Stay Hungry wound up being the end of the creative life of the band. If the band had the courage to branch out in new directions, who knows what greatness may have been achieved.

You may say that you must "give the people what they want". Pete Townshend predicted The Who would become a kind of lounge act, and to a large degree he proved precient. In a different realm, Steve Jobs said that you need to tell the people what they want. Apple's success proves that Jobs' insight is indisputable.

The fans will never push you forward. They will always clamor for "the greatest hits". Snider's "We Are the Ones" shows any erstwhile TS fans what might have been.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Non Sibi Sed Omnibus

I was sitting in a waiting room today at MSK. It was time for one of my periodic follow-up CT scans that I'll be dealing with, keeping an eye out for any recurrence of the deadly cells that took my left kidney just about this time last year.

I've had several, and I'm familiar with the drill now. The waiting room is an unremarkable room filled with an unremarkable cross section of people that, like me, have had their lives touched by some sort of cancer.

People from all walks of life are found in Memorial Sloan Kettering waiting rooms. Older folks, young adults, men and women. You see many stoic faces, and others with eyes moist with uncertainty or just revealed bad news. The common denominator is the cancer itself, whatever form it takes.

I believe that there never has been a better time to have to deal with cancer. MSK is a leading cancer center with top doctors and we have had many breakthroughs and are on the cusp of new advanced treatments. With all that, though, it remains a frightening and deadly disease.

Today, the waiting room had something I hadn't seen before. A very young patient, probably three or four years old, in a stroller with his parents. The child was wearing a facemask and was bald. Radiation? Chemo? It didn't matter but the sight of the stricken child was startling and heartbreaking.

I eyed the parents. They didn't seem to be as visibly down as I'd have thought. Their stoicism was intriguing and impressive. The boy himself looked fairly okay, in spite of the effects of his treatments. I took another drink from the chemical contrast that would light up in my body if the radiation from my scan detected any malignant cells.

It felt very weird to not feel the familiar pity I'd felt all my life whenever I'd seen a child fighting cancer. It occurred to me that the little boy and I, both touched by cancer, were in the same boat. We were both getting the treatment we needed.  I might have felt a twinge of self pity, but it was only fleeting. I still had more of my chemical dye to finish drinking.

Fortunately for me, my scan came back negative. A full year clear and feeling good about it.

I hope things go well for that little kid.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Only Following Orders


January 20 is only a couple of months away. Before you know it, Donald Trump will take the oath of office and become President. It still seems unreal.

We all saw how Trump comported himself during his campaign. We saw how he exhorted his rally attendees to spasms of violence. We've all heard his racist and misogynist rants. Soon, he will have the power of the Presidency behind his unique brand of un-American beliefs and behaviors.

My question is, what then? He has a Republican controlled Congress that will let him run amok, so long as their agenda is promoted. He will have the courts under his control. He has already telegraphed his intention to clamp down on a free press.

Who will be the ones that will carry out his program? By whose hands will the fascist ramblings of President Trump be made real?  Who will be the ones that will be merely "following orders'?

Judging by the election results, I wouldn't hold my breath holding out for America's mythical "decency".

There are dark days ahead.

Lies of the Mind

                            Image result for lies

The thunderbolt from the blue that was the election of Donald Trump has shaken so many Americans to the core. The country was told, over and over, that there was no way that it could happen. Polls were showing reams of statistics that "proved" that a Donald Trump presidency was as unlikely as the appearance of a black swan.

How could it be that everyone was so wrong? The only explanation that chastened pollsters could come up with was "We got it wrong." Oh, gee, thanks.

The "science" of polling is much like a sausage factory. You don't want to see how it's made, you just want the finished product. All manner of "adjustments" and "smoothing" are applied to raw numbers that are themselves highly random and ultimately representative of a pool of people that clearly don't represent anyone else but themselves. The idea that a small group of people can help to extrapolate the ideas, beliefs and actions of larger groups has been shown to be a fallacy. Yet, we have a huge industry and infrastructure dedicated to the furtherance of this fallacy. A whole lot of folks make a whole lot of money from polling.

We were told that President Obama has a high approval rating. The reality is that nay not be so. Exit polls give the pollsters data to explain events, but why should they have any more validity than any other poll? Who believes that those polled, a small subset of a much larger group are representative of the larger group? Who is to say that they are being truthful with the pollsters?

I never participate in polls. When the phone rings, if it is an unfamiliar number. I usually ignore it. If I even answer, and a disembodied voice answers that they are taking a poll, half the time it's just a come on for some kind of sales pitch, be it solar panels or Florida timeshares. If it's a political call, it might be just a partisan campaigner trash talking their opponent. Who could possibly wish to sift through this morass to participate in a telephone poll on the "issues of the day"? And to what end? The replies obtained in this way are as unreliable as any other bit of data could be that is collected in such a scattershot way.

We are lied to everyday. Most folks learn this as they live their lives and mature as they do. We become inured to it. We are largely unaffected because we don't believe most of the lies. The lies that hurt are the ones that are believed and shown to be wrong.

We were told that the United States is a moral country, that Americans were a generous and honest people that are basically good. We were told the President Obama is a very popular figure. We were told that Donald Trump couldn't or wouldn't win. In a society that runs on lies, boy, those last three really hurt.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

False Equivalence

                                    Image result for false equivalence

In the bitter aftermath of the Presidential election, the true difference between the Democrats and the Republicans has been put on view for all to see. The question is, does everyone understand it?

With Hillary Clinton's gracious concession speech, and President Obama's conciliatory remarks today, the Democratic Party's values are on display and the stark contrast with the Republican Party and their "values" is jarring.

When Barack Obama was first elected eight years ago, the leading Republicans circled their wagons and proudly proclaimed their intent to make Barack Obama a one-term President. Their strategy, from the very beginning of Obama's first term of office, was to famously become the "Party of No". Their goal was to block any and all legislative initiatives of the duly elected President, and his party's mandate.

The result was plain to see, six years of non-governance and obstructionism. The racist and un-American strategy went into full force after the 2010 mid-term elections, when the Republicans retook the Senate and the House of Representatives. This has extended to even the unconstitutional denial of President Obama's right to name a Supreme Court justice, upon the death of Antonin Scalia many months ago. Now that Trump has emerged victorious, he will name the next Supreme Court judge, along with the Republican majorities in Congress.

It has taken only one day for leading Democrats to offer up their cooperation with Republicans. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi have offered to work with Republicans on areas of common ground.

If this were a fairy tale, that might be a heart warming end to a contentious election with everyone holding hands and humming Kumbaya as the sun sets slowly in the background.

The terrible reality is that the Republican agenda is one of betrayal of American values and fairness. The GOP is on record as heading straight to blocking women's right to choose, taking away millions of Americans right to healthcare, regardless of pre-existing conditions, and cutting back or eliminating entitlements like Social Security and Medicare.

It is an abomination for Democrats to do anything at all to cooperate with Republicans in any of their legislative initiatives. Brain dead pundits will decry this as ignoring the "will of the people" that just elected Donald Trump and delivered to him a Republican Congress, but the fact that Clinton won the popular vote will be conveniently ignored . An imaginary "mandate" will be proclaimed to pressure Democrats to fall in line. Where was this "mandate" in 2008? "Let's not dwell on the past, let's move forward."

Two wrongs can never make a right, but this simplistic maxim holds no water in the USA in 2016. It is the duty of the Democrats to block the heinous Republican Party program in any way possible, even at the expense of continued governmental gridlock. Right wing talk radio will howl, but there will be no equivalence between Democratic obstruction in 2016-2018 and beyond and Republican obstruction from 2008-2016. The Republican goal was to block healthcare for Americans and to dispense with a haughty black community organizer that dared to ascend to the Presidency. The Democrats will be defending Americans rights, heath care, and civil liberties.

It is time for Democrats to stand fast against the Republican threat to America, its citizens and its historic values. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Shame of a Nation

Whether you promenaded around in a pantsuit with an "I Voted" sticker, or you decided that without Barack Obama on the ticket it wasn't worth the effort, at 10:15 eastern time, Donald Trump is building up a formidable lead and has a real chance to win the presidency.

The racism and misogyny is thick in America in 2016. Apparently it is more than okay to openly impugn all manner of minorities now. Blacks, Islamics, women, the handicapped, are all fair game. More voters than not are voting for the candidate that has exhibited the worst of this behavior with the most unapologetic aplomb.

Most folks claim to despise politicians and the gridlock they create in our nation's capital. Yet, corrupt incumbents are too frequently returned to office, policies are continually implemented that run counter to citizens interests, and the interests of the powerful are held in preference to the have nots.

The voting booth is the ultimate control that citizens retain to demand and command the politicians they vote for. This country has been plagued for years by embarrassingly low voter participation. The inescapable fact is that voters get the politicians they deserve, whether they vote them in or apathetically abstain, or are too easily swayed to understand what their self interests are.

Republicans have spent the last eight years claiming that the United States has lost it's standing in the world, that we are no longer a leader in the world. If the trends in tonight's voting continue as it's going, the United States will prove this supposition to be absolutely true.

Monday, October 24, 2016

You Will Know Them by Their Fruits

                                        Image result for you will know them by their fruits\

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                                                             Trump University

                                                     Multiple Casino Bankruptcies

                                                        Access Hollywood Tape

                                         Multiple accounts of sexual predatory behavior

                                                 Misogynistic behavior and language

                                                             Racist language

                                                         Xenophobic policies

                                                Partnering with enemies of the state

                                                           Paranoid behavior

                                                         Unbridled narcissist


                                                 Five children with three women


                                                Republican Presidential Candidate

What If...?

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What if Donald Trump had run as a Democrat? Would he have had the same basket of deplorables as followers? Would the Republicans have put up Lyin' Ted Cruz, Low Energy Jeb Bush, or Little Marco Rubio against him? Would Trump have beaten any of them as easily as he did in the Republican primaries?

There was a time that Donald Trump said he was a Democrat. It's not such a stretch. Could Trump have beaten Clinton and Sanders (or Biden) in the primaries? What if the Access Hollywood tape never surfaced?

I don't know, but I do know one thing. I ask a lot of nutty questions.