Sunday, May 15, 2022

When "Thousands" are Millions

Two Pro-Choice extremists violating 18 US Code. 1507 in front of the Supreme Court “exhibiting unadulterated rage while no longer recognizing any limits of decency or civility in our political discourse.” (according to The Hill)

It should be recognized as common scheme by now that:

A.   The cops never shoot mass murderers if they’re white.  

B.   The media always undercounts demonstrations held by anyone left of Atilla the trump.

This has always been hard for me to understand. After all, they never seem satisfied to leave it to your imagination and report on the mere “thousands” attending a Super Bowl or a Rolling Stones concert in New York City. We know why, but it’s frustrating all the same. So this morning, after I and my daughter attended the HUGE pro-choice rally in D.C. yesterday, I did my due diligence and perused the “news”, looking for hard numbers, or at least fair estimates for how many people gave up their Sundays to break the law (according to The Hill) to express their outrage at five Supremes trying to take us back to the 17thCentury. No such luck.


Fortunately for my readers (you know who you are), I developed the habit of estimating crowds when I was perpetrating them for the Montana Human Rights Alliance back in the days before my wandering the Earth seeking adequate education services for my deaf daughter whom our inestimable Montana School Superintendent, Elzie Arntzen, may or may not describe as a “vegetable” not deserving of such services, as some of her honorable Republican colleagues have done in the past. 


It’s pretty easy and here’s how I figured it this time. First, here’s a pic of the march from Washington Monument, where the rally was held, and the Supreme Porch, where the march was aimed at, and concluded:

The cops had us channeled down Constitution Ave, so I had a finite area from which to make a micro-estimate of (thank you, cops). Constitution Ave is 8 lanes huge, and it was packed all the way across for the mile (plus or minus) between the presidential phallus and Porch (we were somewhere in the middle here). 8 lanes times 8 ft is 64 feet and cars are 2 passengers-width apiece (plus the extra space for the rest of the car). Suffice to say that a very fair low-ball figure for a Constitution Ave packed like it was yesterday would easily hold 100 “pro-choice extremists expressing unadulterated rage” (The Hill) per every 10 feet. Now, simply multiply that by 500 (5000 ft divided by 10 ft) and there you have it. 50,000, The magic number you’ll never see on the nightly news. 

Okay, okay. I feel your pain. "I get it", as the more fashionable marketing houses are fond of putting in "cool peoples" mouths these days. Let's do give The Hill even more than its due and admit that we “pro-choice extremists expressing unadulterated rage” are so immature as to be prone to exaggerate. So let's do cut that already-conservative figure in half...and there we have it again. 25,000 this time. A number no reasonable human being sitting on that fictitious-but-certainly-uncomfortable-ass-poking fence can argue with. That’s still (conservatively) 10 times more than the “thousands” that most people would assume attended these rallies if they merely perused Corporate Media and then believed them. 

Now let's multiply by 10 any lowball estimate you may or may not have seen about how many citizens of this country are truly outraged and ready to show it that Alito (or let’s be honest, Barrett, cuz, you know, govt. funded, top-tier healthcare) can’t have the pleasure of experiencing a terminal ectopic pregnancy.

And furthermore, as much as I generally assign The Hill to the toilet bowl of corporate propaganda, they do have journalists working for them, who occasionally let slip something useful like the following:

"Demands that Garland arrest all of the protesters (at justices' homes) is a case of the pendulum swinging too far in the opposite direction. Such prosecutions could create a massive chilling effect on free speech, even if any convictions are unlikely to be upheld. After all, protests are common at the court itself, which is covered under the same federal provision; if it is unlawful to seek to influence a pending decision through picketing “near a U.S. court,” such protests could be viewed as crimes under this interpretation."

Are we there yet? Can we move on from having any respect for these pearl-clutching A..holes and focus on saving our democracy"?

Here's my story and I'm sticking to it. We are the vast, undercounted, over-pissed-off majority. Don't forget it. Don't back down.


Wednesday, May 4, 2022

The Winner!

Here is the winner for Best Sign at today’s (May 4th) Pro-Choice demonstration in front of the “majestic” Supreme Court steps and pillars. Behind the sign is a self-assured young woman enjoying her right to A: demonstrate her knowledge of human anatomy and B: have an opinion about it. Beside her is a Wise Man (Wise Guy in the vernacular) who may or may not understand the connection between anatomy and opinion and may or may not have a problem with the way our democracy is getting flushed down the toilet bowl draining into the upside-down swamp called ‘Susan Collins In Wonderland’ (where Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dumb go to Congress and float across the mythical aisle in a pea-green boat with Tweedle-Dumber) but knows enough to bite his tongue when his opinion doesn’t match his anatomy, which is what he’s pictured doing here.


When Wise Guy showed up on the steps of the Supremes this morning, there were about half a dozen women and a couple guys holding signs. An hour or so later there was a couple dozen and shortly after that there was four, five, six dozen chanting Pro-Choicers and lots of support from the onlookers. This compared to about three flat-earthers who—wait for it—were dutifully interviewed for “balance” by the media grips and gabbers who showed up. 


Never mind them. Know this, that you are in the supermajority of Americans who not only do not want the Supreme Court to overrule Roe v. Wade but want Tweedle-Congress (and Joe Biden) to get off their asses and codify reproductive rights into law. Also know that this is the way you do it. Show up and build your voice, over and over, and over and over until the bastards can't ignore you (us) anymore.


Finally, for all you guys out there who aren’t sure about how this affects you, consider biting your tongue before you say anything really, really stupid to these totally-pissed off women.


In other words, if you can’t figure out how this pending decision is going to flush us all down the toilet bowl of wing nut libertarianism where your freedom isn't loved by those educationally-challenged bigots who love their own but want to legislate yours out of existence (google: 'fascists'), just stick to the fallback position of any sensible Wise Guy on this one:

No Uterus-No Opinion

7 P.M. update:  When I went back down to the Supreme Porch around 4:30 there were a solid 40-50 Pro-Choicers AND NO FLAT-EARTHERS IN SIGHT. When I left about 15 minutes ago (becuz I had to pee) there was a joyful, young, loud 300+ AND ONLY ONE ANTI-CHOICER WHO HURRIED THRU WITH AN INSCRUTABLE SIGN which was the only way to tell whether or not she had a date with the edge of the world which I could have told her was just south of Conner, Montana if she’d just stuck around. 


Tomorrow promises more. I’m planning to be there.


Friday, April 22, 2022

On Boomers, Founding Fathers and Cultural Relativism

The Slippery Slope

Okay…remember money? If you’re a ‘boomer’ you do. If you’re not, you still suffer from embarrassing cultural delusions whether you want to admit it or not—which is what we 'boomers' did and is where you came from, so get over it!

Either way, grab your wallet and pull out a dollar bill. Lay it on the counter and take a good look at that sly guy glancing back at you. Is that not the condescending smirk of America's mythical version of Zeus? The all-knowing, paternal metaphor for financial security? The chiseled face of money, the only path forward for what has been considered possible on this continent since that "filthy little atheist", Thomas Paine (whose face isn't on anybody's money), outlined the democratic underpinnings of the American Revolution?

We live in an age when high-quality pictures and videos are readily available at the snap of an iPhone, and, as is typical with our species, we haven't been very thoughtful about it. In fact I think this ever-devolving fascination of ours with the visual image has all but killed off whatever remnants of organic perspective on the natural world we managed to drag into the 21st Century after 50 years of the mass-hypnosis experiment conducted by television producers whose credentials on mental health or ethical-hypnosis techniques were always known to be sketchy at best.

There comes a time, though, in most cultures at least, when its hubris outweighs its paradigms, and it needs to examine and re-arrange itself in order to survive. In the old days, before climate chaos, it was fine if this didn't happen. The composting culture just went extinct and a new one took its place. But this time the slow-motion arc of human evolution isn't an option anymore's slow, and we've finally proved ourselves too stupid to manage our own destruction with enough aplomb to allow another culture to rise from our ashes. These are the times of not only climate chaos (which IMO includes the Covid debacle) but of nuclear-tipped oligarchs either warring with each other or propping each other up over resources, which is just another way of saying "money", and I think we've finally arrived. This is the point in our evolution as a species when no cultural icon is too trivial to snark at. Fair warning, but it beats feeling stupid. 

So, keeping these admittedly-arbitrary guardrails in mind, check this out:

This was the stoic fountain from which all those billions (and billions) of dollar bills sprang. It's Gilbert Stuart's 1796 portrait that Martha, who liked a previous portrait Stuart did of George, commissioned him to do for her so she could have one of her own. Stuart, however, didn't want to give up what became his best prototype (and moneymaker) to the First Lady so he never finished it, and kept it around to crank out future founding images with. Follow this story to its logical end and it's hard not to conclude that Stuart took Martha's money (which didn't include faces of George yet but whose Custis "dowry" included over 100 slaves who, along with their descendants, were never freed until the Emancipation Proclamation) but failed to deliver, placing him at a watershed moment in our country's history of canonizing cheats who can afford to get away with cheating, but never mind. No matter his intentions, his mythic image endures. Three years previous, though, in 1793, portrait artist Edward Savage had George looking like this:

Two years goes by, and in 1795 another American portraitist, Rembrandt Peale, gives us this one:

And then, later that same year, Rembrandt's father, Charles Watson Peale, did this one:

Seeing a pattern yet? If you're noticing that George's image was undergoing the same transformation our movie stars' images do today, of getting younger as they became more iconic, then you're seeing what I did when I accidentally stumbled on these portraits while walking through the American Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. 

I've been in D.C. since the beginning of the 2021-22 school year (more or less) accompanying my daughter who is going to high school on the campus of the first--and still foremost--deaf university in the world. Ironically, Gallaudet University was chartered by another American icon, Abraham Lincoln, who, coincidentally, did not get younger as his star rose. Maybe that's because Lincoln, like Tom Paine who also didn't get any iconic makeovers, actually believed in democracy, or at least his era's version of it, and acted accordingly, unlike a lot of old-time slaveholders and modern (mostly Republican) Montana politicians. In other words, I've been in D.C. most of the year instead of my beloved Montana because our once-healthy politics has been captured, hogtied and tortured by our inimical social warriors, like Montana's current Superintendent of Public Schools, Elsie Arntzen, who can't possibly give special needs kids what they need to have a decent adolescent experience because they believe Jesus was white. Really. No kiddin'.

So again, full disclosure. I'm a "boomer", as is Elzie Arntzen which, if that ridiculous insult to the future of Social Security means anything at all, means that I was:

A. Sitting at the Round Table in the school library when my 5th Grade teacher came into the room crying, informing us that President Kennedy had been shot and that school was out for the rest of the day and:

B. I was raised to believe that George Washington had false teeth made of wood and that his stern tight lips were necessary to keep them from falling out, which all of these portraits, I believe, faithfully represent. He could not tell a lie because he had to hold his teeth in. Ask any 5th grade teacher (which Elzie was in her previous life), or 18th Century portrait artist.

None of this is not to disparage false teeth, wood or 5th Grade school teachers, God forbid. All have their issues and uses. But there comes a time, maybe in these times of oligarchs and their Final Wars of Choice over money, to point out this tiny yet obvious flaw in our linear thinking that forever leads us into such debacles. Ready?

The face of money is as absolute at myths, oligarchs and 5th Grade school teachers.

            You’re welcome, and remember, you heard it here first. 


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Democracy (Socialism) vs Capitalism (Fascism): Our Choice

Today's news, once again, is all about war and nothing about climate chaos and, while climate change is yet to reach "visceral" status with our species, the atrocities of war have been consistent attention-getters ever since we started using our "smarts" to organize around it as a solution to problems. War, the vast majority of our species agree, is gruesome and no one in their right mind would want to be on the same continent as one. It's curious, then, when that supermajority dwindles to a rough plurality when it's happening on a different continent. From a distance, that wonderful, atavistic revulsion of ours to murder, rape and torture somehow morphs into a good vs evil fantasy tale. How easy it's been for the warmongers (read: oligarchs) du jour  to sucker punch us over the ages, but we're story-based critters, after all. We love our epics, which usually include a war or two to get the juices going, which is to say that the thought of war is entertaining. In fact, as anyone who's subjected themselves to a writing workshop knows, good narratives are based around conflicts and, at times, their resolution. War is conflict writ-large and ready-made. No resolutions need apply, just winners and losers. Literally speaking, though, war as a narrative devise is shallow water by definition and should long ago have become a toxic cliche but, sadly, hasn't. 

Which brings me to the Azov Battalion that has been "heroically" defending Mariupol for the last six weeks. Members of this unit, which has been fighting Russia in Eastern Ukraine since 2014, are now trapped in the city's last holdout, the Azovstal Iron and Steelworks and threatened with annihilation--in real time on Twitter and YouTube--if they don't surrender. Their plight, along with the plight of the 200,000 civilians still trapped in the city, is the current cause celebre for shaming nuclear-tipped western democracies like ours into formally entering a regional conflict against another, equally-nuclear-tipped one. So first of all, let's recap: War is gruesome and anybody in their right mind, which probably includes the vast majority of people stuck in the hellhole that is now Mariupol, wouldn't want to be anywhere near one. What's being perpetrated there by Russian forces is surely evil if there's still a meaning to that overused word and no excuses need apply. But wouldn't a meaningful definition of "evil" also include those who choose war as their natural habitat and then force others to endure it as a consequence of their bad boy choices? That definition would include the Azov Battalion which, despite protestations from jingoists to the contrary, was formed and is no doubt still buckshot through with nazis. It would also include the Neo-Cold-Warriors of the west (NATO comes to mind) who chose years ago to fight Russia "to the last Ukrainian" with the help of the Azov Battalion.

I have zero doubt that there are dozens of Netflix screenwriters drooling over plot scenarios involving impossibly-muscled Ukrainian soldiers fighting the Russian invaders to the last "patriot", with the Azovstal Iron and Steelworks, which was already a dystopian, industrial deadzone before the war, as a backdrop. I'll just say "Rambo" and leave it for you to google up. Meanwhile, climate action, the narratives of which don't generally include musclebound "patriots" with bloody assault weapons and dysfunctional wartime love affairs, is dead in the water. Our story-based minds have, once again, led us to the edge of the existential cliff in the name of War and, just like so many times these last few millennia, we're f....d. What to do?

Well, I'll admit that maybe this time it's too late for hope. But how about we give at least a thought to where we'd be as a species if we were as capable of being viscerally-fascinated by, say, epic tales of saving our planet from Climate Chaos as we are by war. I'd call such a narrative paradigm shift akin to evolution, similar to approaching the consciousness of trees, who have learned to thrive over the eons with their network of root hairs and micorrhyza that communicate and help their fellow rooted beings for the good of the Whole. They've been here longer than we have, you know, and it's the height of hubris to ignore their example. Yes of course there's competition. Over water, sunlight and other existential necessities and "duh" to that. But please consider how much more cooperation there is than competition in their--and by definition, our--natural world. They don't "compete" with each other to the point where whole forests are destroyed for the sake of feeding their oligarchys' egos. There'd be no such thing as forests and the climate we all live within, would there be? They, and every other creature on this planet including ourselves if we gave ourselves half a chance, are hardwired to cooperate as a Whole and that is why there is life--and democracy--on this Earth. Fascism (Brazil in its current iteration) is the antithesis of healthy forests and Capitalism (the U.S. in our current iteration) is the antithesis of healthy democracies. Yin and yang so to speak.

What's happening now in Ukraine--which nobody in this country ever distinguished from Russia until a few short years ago--is despicable, just as what has happened to Iraq and Afghanistan has been. A better case could be made than not that these wars could have been avoided if we weren't inflicted with such creatures as arms dealers, mercenaries and craven politicians who've taken one too many Rambo movie to heart, but the dog's out now, and he's a runner who doesn't come to call. Good luck shouting our lungs out for the next, what? hundred years or so until the hatred and trauma being perpetrated before our e-eyes cools enough to at least be stored underground into perpetuity. In the meantime, I won't be presumptuous enough to offer any suggestions out of this mess except to pray for a miracle.

Or hug a tree. To me that's one and the same.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

On Ether

Think of Facebook like Mark Zuckerberg does, as a “rarefied, elastic substance that permeates all space including the interstices between the particles of matter, the medium whose vibrations constitute light and other electromagnetic radiation.” 


Actually, that’s the old-fashioned definition of ether before atoms, electricity and the armless abelisaur were discovered, but never mind. It’s a good description for what kind of toy these billionaires think our Known Universe is to them. 


A counter-point to the world view of bastards is the way I think of Facebook: it sucks, but people live and read in that airy reality Zuckerface and his ilk presumes to dominate, which is the very reality writers presume to occupy, too. So writers gotta go with the flow, move with the rest of the circus, be one with the elephants. Fine.


Of course, neither definition is correct, but the fact that we even have to ponder such mushy mush means I am free to bend and manipulate whatever archaic universal laws exist or don’t to my own, personal will. I’m doing this not because I’ve sussed out the secret to the distance between atoms or whether Greek gods really wear loincloths, but rather because my blog, after a solid $@%##! year of refusing to function despite my hours (nay, days!) wasted clicking this and that floating button of frustration into the Elon-Musk-polluted Universe, has healed itself, or at least its attitude, and I can post on it again. Why my blog decided to work again is the stuff of conspiracy theories (if you are a 21st century Trumpian) or crystal energy (if you're a 20th century hippy). Either way, the upshot is that, instead of firing off half-baked missives about a world gone wrong to friends and other innocent bystanders as “replies”, I’m going to condense, curate and, yes, edit them into blogposts, and use those posts as my Facebook presence. Zuckerface can still make money on my “content”, and I can still post my (hopefully more-fully-baked) rants on the great bulletin board of post-pandemic human interaction. It’s liberating, I have to say, to finally enter the 21st Century, albeit kicking and screaming. Win, win, win, whether ether exists or not.


You’re welcome. 


Friday, April 23, 2021

The Long Covid

 Note: This piece was first posted exactly a year ago, and after stumbling over it while looking for something else on this blog, I thought, hell. If history is repeating itself, this piece bears repeating, too. The original title was "On False Patriotism" and I thought it was pretty clear at the time that, in the face of a bona fide global disaster, a large swath of our fellow travelers were ardently choosing to make things worse, not better and, in this country, doing so under the banner of a piece of cloth fluttering from the back of a few testosterone-propelled pickup trucks. A year later and we're still wearing masks largely because of their childish refusal to acknowledge such a simple survival concept as "the common good" and they're still the ones whining about how much they love their freedom, and how little they love yours. A lot of toxic water's been dumped under the bridge by the carriers of such insanity since April, 2020, and I suppose I should feel sorry for them by now. After all, they're obviously short a few bricks and it may not be their fault. But I don't. In fact, I think it's fair to say that, after a whole year of sustaining such unfathomable idiocy, I propose that anyone who's been doing their best to do their part all this time, worn their masks and got their shots so we can all emerge out of this Covid hell as soon as humanly possible and are still wearing their masks because of the utter ignorance and selfishness of those wrapping their bad behavior in a flag should be mightily-pissed-off by now. It's obvious, to me anyway, that that would be a very American response.

My ancestors have only been on this continent for a short time, since the 1600s. The same blood flowing in my veins has been in every major conflict that the colonists (later the Americans) have fought in since that time. I had ancestors who participated in the Revolutionary War battle where the American flag was invented, and if any hairsplitters out there want to argue the point with me then they can kiss my ass. I actually signed up for a war myself, and ended up serving four years in the Navy, but didn't go to Nam, not because I was some kind of smart, but because of the simple luck of the the other side of my family, the Irish. 

In other words, I feel I can say something about this flag thing, and here it is: I don't hate the American flag. In fact, I have every reason to love what it stands for in my own mind. But this child of pilgrims and pioneers hates what it has become in the hands of our seemingly-bottomless pit of psychopathic "leaders", and I offer up a new, colorful equation, a flaggy one (!) which is really an ancient formula reworked for us unfortunates who inhabit a more and more two-dimensional age, where colorful pictures apparently have more impact than actual thinking.



Yes, Hitler certainly was an evil man, wasn't he? But he had lots of help. In high and low places. The equally-evil men in the high places had agendas, wanted power and knew the formula for getting what they wanted.


But the low ones, the enablers? They have no excuses anymore for falling for this bullshit, do they? And they will have much to answer for in the very near future. Won't they? 

How dare they wave American flags at us? How dare they?

Sunday, March 14, 2021

News Flash: Machine Guns are Pro-Life


Sen. Jason Ellsworth (R-Ravalli County) has a machine gun pointed out his business window (above).


There is no better picture to show how 'pro-life' and 'pro-freedom' Sen. Ellsworth is, so I’m sharing it with you. Like all Republicans in Helena this session (and the last and the last and the last....) he is adamantly in favor of telling young women what to do with their bodies and threatening fellow citizens with machine guns. Add to these stellar qualities a can-do willingness to expose vulnerable neighbors to a deadly virus and you have a profile of a certified, freedom-loving patriot who is so ‘pro-life’ he's willing to point a machine gun out the window of his business to prove it. This, by the way, makes Sen. Ellsworth’s machine gun ‘pro-life’ by definition. Isn't tortured English wonderful?


There’s one other thing about Sen. Jason Ellsworth you may not know about that puts him in even higher esteem with the life-loving, freedom-shooting gang he hangs out with. He was caught bilking unsuspecting people his telemarketing company called (unsolicitied) by selling them magazine subscriptions for $3.83/month for four years and then billing them almost $50/month for almost a year and a half and then (presumably) siccing a collection company on them when they didn’t pay up. Ellsworth bilks unwary costumers If Sen. Ellsworth hadn’t made $600,000 bilking unsolicited owners of telephones he wouldn’t have been able to buy an out-of-court settlement and he would have gone to prison with a felony conviction. But that’s the kind of guy Sen. Jason Ellsworth is, and why he is held in such high esteem with all the ‘freedom-loving’, ‘pro-life’ patriots currently legislating us back to the days of the Montana Copper Kings. He’s all about ‘personal responsibility’, and maybe that explains the machine gun pointed out the window of his business. Out of 35,000 magazine subscriptions ‘sold’ to unsolicited owners of telephones, over a thousand of them complained about his company’s fraudulent practices to the Federal Trade Commission. To anyone who's had to endure unregulated telemarketing calls that promise you the moon and then sell you a hat for the price of a car, that means that a lot more than 1000 were ripped off and knew it but didn’t complain because they figured if they did he’d probably rise to the level of a state senator or something. So maybe Sen. Ellsworth is justifiably worried that one of his bilked customers might take the ‘personal responsibility’ to come visit him to discuss their ‘buyer’s remorse’, which is Sen. Jason Ellsworth’s euphemism for explaining away the not-so-perfectly legal con of bilking unsuspecting owners of phones in the name of 'freedom' and 'life'.


While I’m on the subject of ‘pro-life assault weapons’, here’s a little déjà vu. a pop-up quiz. Can you name the machine gun pictured below?

Yep. that's right. It's a Bushmaster .223, the main weapon Adam Lanza pointed at little children--and fired into the faces of. The Ravalli County Republican Central Committee, the club to which Sen. Ellsworth belongs, has been auctioning off a machine gun looking very much like this one at the Ravalli County Fair ever since, where countless local children walk by it and are impressed by how much the Ravalli County Republicans, including Sen. Ellsworth, love 'freedom' and 'life'. 

Finally, here’s Bushmaster clinical description of such a ‘life-giving’ weapon, designed soley for combat, capable of firing up to six rounds a second into a crowded classroom of little children by literally anyone who can afford to buy one online:

“With a Bushmaster for security and home defense, you can sleep tight knowing that your loved ones are protected. Bushmaster offers everything you need to ensure the safety of you and your family. Our high-quality pistols, carbines, and rifles are extremely reliable, easy to shoot, and include lightweight carbon models that are perfect for women. And with their intimidating looks, all Bushmasters make a serious impression.

Are we there yet? Can we start evolving now, or at least start talking like grown-ups?

Bitterroot Gun Garage and Telemarketing Complex