Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Court of Public Opinion

There are allegations everywhere. Lot's of people are accused of doing lots of evil things and we are pressed to punish them. In western jurisprudence a person, whether an ordinary citizen, an oligarch, an aristocrat, or a world leader, is considered innocent until proven guilty. So, what are some of the charges?

Trump's people spoke to diplomats. That one's not even a crime. That's why we have diplomats.
Trump's people had financial ties to Russia. And Israel, and Saudi Arabia, and who knows where else. So? Bush was pretty chummy with the bin Ladens. Clinton got donations/bribes from a lot of shady foreign nationals. And some shady national nationals.
Russia interfered with our elections. And AIPAC doesn't? How about Sheldon Adelson? George Soros? Investigate them, hmmm?
Clinton had some debilitating disease. Well, now we're hearing that Trump has all sorts of brain diseases from Alzheimer's to Chronic Baby Syndrome (it's there. Look it up in the DSM!)
The Assad government nukes kittens. Have you looked at Yemen lately?
There are 'moderate' terrorists in Syria. Yes, and I've got a pyramid in Cairo to sell you.
Vladimir Putin eats babies (human caviar.)
Julian Assange is a rapist.

Innocent until proven guilty, or rediculous. Yes. Let's have investigations. Let's have independent prosecutors conduct transparent investigations where all of the facts are open and subject to scrutiny. Have the OPCW investigate chemical weapons releases in Syria instead of blocking legitimate investigation. Allow Assange to defend himself with guarantees that he won't be kidnapped and transferred to an American torture facility. Let the accused face his accuser and have a chance to defend himself before a jury of his peers. And let's not be so choosey on who we condemn and who we ignore. Last year all the outrage was directed at Aleppo. Today in Mosul? Nothing. No, two wrongs don't make a right. But we first must decide if it is a wrong. And why do we choose one to declare wrong and another to ignore altogether? Who decides that?

Instead we have degenerated back to the old Anglo-Saxon champion system. If my champion can defeat your champion, I am innocent. Or off the hook. Same thing. Today we have different champions. There're cruise missiles, the shiny toys of adjudication. Propaganda, or Fake News, is powerful. Guilty in the Court of Public Opinion, also known as a Lynch mob. As vigilante justice. Is that what we stand for? How are we any different from those we condemn?

If you were accused of a crime, which would you prefer? That a judge and jury consider all the evidence and demand proof? That they weigh that evidence and insist on credible witnesses that can be cross examined and validated? Or would you prefer rumors and accusations that are immediately taken as gospel by your jurors who then refuse to consider any new evidence?

Justice is blind. This is supposed to remind us not to look at appearances but to listen to the facts and the arguments and weigh them all in her scale. The scale is tipped to remind us that we can never get it 100% right. Never be sure that justice is being served. Be not so quick to mete out death in judgement!

Next time, we might be the ones tried for crimes against humanity. Which justice would we hope for?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Shoot me if you’ve heard this one

A chicken, a fox, and Donald Trump walk into the oval office. They get into an argument about who is more qualified to be president. “I am, of course,” says the chicken. “How do you figure?” says Trump. “I can keep a secret. I am so good at keeping secrets that no one even knows why I cross the road.” “Nonsense!” says the fox. “I am an expert at guarding hen houses. I’d get my fangs into your secrets in no time.” And Trump says, “Sad. You’re both a couple of losers! I’ve bankrupted four corporations in my lifetime. And to get away with it, I have a phalanx of lawyers. It’s just like the US Government. It’s bankrupt and all that keeps it going is the military. And, yes. I know what a phalanx is. I’ve had it done to me lots of times! #PhalanxMeBaby.”

The chicken and fox had to agree that Trump was right for the job. So the first thing Trump did was appoint the chicken as Secretary of Transportation and the fox as Secretary of Defense.

Chronicles of a Baby Boomer - A Philistine’s Thoughts on the Second Coming

I hear the braying of a rough beast far away,
Across the wadi, beyond the ridge.
Another road to another village, whose name I cannot say.
Beyond the olive groves, vineyards, and tents,
The limestone cities with their central squares and bazaars,
The crush of humanity that never relents.

There. Just there. Beneath that star. Can you see it?
Oh, wait. I cannot see.
The cold gears of earth and sky turn and never quit,
But hide as much as they reveal, for they turn also you and me,
And drag us, none the wiser,
Away from that we seek to see.

The widening gyre goes where it goes,
For a while widening, unrestrained.
Tis good I do not see beyond the edge’s threshold.
For a while. Some waiting time was bought.
I lived outside its widening, but the gyre widened relentlessly.
I saw it coming into view and saw my view coming into naught.

Fleeing away from it. For now,
The gyre keeps me out of reach.
But not of thought, the where or why or how,
The gyre cannot widen forever, no?
The wonder, what is on the other side?
It must relent, or slack, or slow.

The widening gyre has overcome me,
And in its wake I see legions. I see empires,
The Fertile Crescent and the brain pan of philosophy.
The mystics in their fervor dancing,
From the Middle East through Persia, India, and China,
I see vast fields of time and beyond… Nothing.

The center cannot hold because there is no center,
Only occasional pools of meaning,
That form from mind and matter,
And swirl around some imaginary point for a time.
Real and unreal. It’s nothing,
Until it is taken away. And then the anarchy unwinds.

Toward what Bethlehem is this rough beast slouching? And to do what?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Goes to Hell Joke No. 1 (They had to start some time.)

Trotsky, Lenin, and Trump go to hell. Satan says, OK. Who's the biggest sinner? I'll give one of you the keys to the Underworld!

Trotsky says, I wanted to convert the world to Communism! And give it all to the collective Soviets!

Lenin says, I wanted to create a Socialist paradise! And give it all to the all to be overseen by the all for the good of the all!

And Trump says, They just gave it all to me. #Losers.

Standard Bar Joke No. 626

Machiavelli, Orwell, and Sun Tsu walk into a bar. Donald Trump is on the telescreen.

Over Victory Gin, Mack (can I call you Mack?) says, "I have no fear of this guy. Not much love, either. Though he is amusing. I should not have underestimated the Prince Buffoon."

Ori says, "And to think I had to come up with memory holes to change the past. What a waste! Now the whole fucking country is a bunch of memory holes."

Sunny huffed. "Confucius!" he said. "In my day this used to be an art!"

So they agreed. Next time they're inviting that 'Soma' guy.


I know. I KNOW! The word Russia is a poison pill to any conversation, thought, meme, emogi, thoughtful political discourse (Ha! Just kidding. We don't have that last one anymore.)

So take this one with the requisite cracker of caviar.

Vladimir Putin was recently asked by reporters his opinion on the Trump-Russia collusion, treason, mission, quest, thing. He said, "What's that got to do with me? I'm playing hockey!" The nerve!

Dmitri Peshkov refused to address, "All that nonsense." Ya. Whatcha hiding there, Commie Peshkov?!

Sergei Lavrov said, "Are you joking? Seriously?" In reply to being told that Comey was fired and asked to comment. Smooth, Mr. Lavrov. Acting like our business is none of your business. You're fooling nobody, you know. There's no other fool you could be talking to. I know that because you're talking to Americans!

And in a coup de la crem, Russian foreign affairs department spokeswomen Maria Zakharova said, "You've been reading western newspapers again. They are only good for one thing." (God, I like her.) I have to wonder. What one thing? As additions to our woodhouse or to our outhouse? Either way they help you deal with logs.

Damn Russians.

Monday, May 15, 2017

No Girlz Aloud!

Here's a funny story. I can tell it since we are up in the Boyz Onli treehouse!

Men like boobs. If course. Duh. A friend of mine at the theater, a rather, ahem, generously endowed friend, said the other day that on Facebook someone recently commented on her, what did he call them? Oh, yes. Zeppelins! Or something like that.

Seriously? Zeppelins? Which were they, the "Led" type or the "Oh, the humanity?" type of Zeppelins? It makes a difference, you know. In her case? I'd say there was a lot of humanity there... And there...


So the next time I saw her at the theater she was talking to a few peeps. I sidled up to one of them and said, "Hey! Look at the Zeppelins on that one!"

She was too far away to slap me, which is unusual for my normal inter gender indiscretions. So. Not ever knowing how to stop a female related faux pas once I was on a roll, I went on.

"You know," I said, heedless of demonstrations to the contrary, "I'm a guy," belaboring what I hoped was indisputable. "It's my job to come up with synonyms for boobs. And most women don't even know it!" I said, less than credibly. "For instance. I can be walking down the street with a female friend," for the time being, at least. "And see a woman and say, 'Would you look at the Hunga-dungas on that one!?' with considerably less than a chance that she would."

The average female will say, "Hunga-dungas? What does that mean? Ummm. I donno. Wait! Shoes? No. Eye brows! Uh-uh. Oh, I know! Those deeply revealing, always concealing, sensually delighting, and richly inviting glorious hefts between the waiting cleft of her---shoe laces!? Gah! I just don't get it! I just can't decipher men and their subtle and sophisticated appreciation of the fairer sex!"

Yes. I know. We are just so opaque to them. Poor, poor women. They will never understand us.

But in a million years. I'd never come up with Zeppelins!

Though. It does open up a whole new aviation themed age of exploration...

Now if only we could come up with a way of comparing boobs to mountains in Wyoming.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Shave and a Head Cut

I was shaving the other day. In the shower. Part of my hygiene routine. I shaved my cheeks, chin and upper lip. Gotta get rid of the prickly sticklies. With a minimum of skin abrasions. It's always a battle between how close I want my shave and how much blood I want to lose. My blood lost, as usual.

And then I shaved my forehead. I've always had the Nixon crest. A blob of hair on my forehead with a receding hairline on either side. I called it my wiffle. Whenever I would get a haircut the barber would try to make it more pronounced for some reason. He would try to make it, you know, not ridiculous or something. He’d fail. I'd tell him to trim it. It's just a blob of hair hanging in front of my face. I’m not Carry Grant, after all. He'd cut a minuscule more off. I'd say trim it some more. He'd shave off a bit more. I'd say, fuck it. That's fine. Then I'd go home and cut it down to the scalp.

Lately the wiffle has deteriorated into two skid marks coming down my dome, like tire tracks on a snowy hill. OK. That’s enough of my dignity lost for this lifetime. Now I just shave it along with the rest of the pointless stubble on my head. I use a safety razor. You know, one with a double edged razor blade in it? It’s immensely cheaper than those Gillette ‘Track Infinity’ razors you can buy with their bewildering array of razor sharp gills and their celebrity endorsements. It works fine, for the most part. Though it does not like the continuous slope of my forward dome with its continuously changing tangent. You need an advanced degree in Calculus to figure out just how to hold the blade. This means I usually have to try several times on the upper sphere to get the dy/dx exactly right.

The other day the razor accidentally got a little loose, so the blade was kind of chattering in its holder. While I was integrating my differential, the blade shook a little loose and dragged, stuttering, across my head. It took a few passes before I realized what was happening.

Oops. Yes, I got several micro fine, hardly hurting at all but rather bloody and pronounced, scratches on one side of my head. I look like Mikhail Gorbachev.

Perestroika, anyone?

Friday, May 12, 2017

Duck and Laughter

I was too young to remember the fifties. Duck and cover. Nuclear proof school desks. Red scare. Yellow peril. Green Curry. I vaguely remember the Cuban missile crisis. They say that was the worst the tension between the superpowers has ever been. Until today. I remember the assassination of JFK like it was yesterday. JFK was the one who negotiated with Nikita Khrushchev over the Cuban crisis. He wanted to get us out of Viet Nam. To back away from the brink. So he was a Kremlin stooge. Soft on Communism. Handing away America's eggs and butter. I wonder what a 1960's era Colbert would say about that?

Johnson fixed everything.

I remember Nixon. He did some remarkable things. And one dumb thing. He opened up the doors to Communist China. Negotiated the Salt treaty with the Soviets. Eased tensions. Opened lines of communication. Backed us away from nuclear midnight. So, of course, he was a tool of Communism. Trotsky Dick!

The pointless Seventies. Another SALT treaty. The START treaties. Now we were talking. The ABM treaties. Cooperation. Mutual inspections overseen by the UN. I'll trade you some Jack Daniels for a bottle of Stoli. Sweet. Of course, we were told how collusive Carter was towards those Russians. Anyone who calls for peace was a weakling, a coward, or a traitor. Just like today! Nothing changes.

Reagan will take care of everything. He embodied the spirit of John Wayne with the courage of Andrew Jackson and the hair of Liberace. That'll show those Ruskies. Of course, he then oversaw the voluntary, though difficult, downsizing of the Soviet empire. Where's the jingoism in that? Well. Wasn't he a disappointment! Wuss.

By the time of Brezhnev, the Soviet people knew the Soviet Union was a joke. They say that's the Russians' greatest weapon. Not the one measured in millisieverts. The one measured in belly laughs. Russians have a very dark sense of humor and they like nothing better than to laugh at anything that gets in their way. Just like us. We're not that different. It's what gets them through wars and invasions and famines and stuff. By the eighties nobody in Russia took anything seriously. Not God. Not country. Not community. Though maybe family. You have to reign in cynicism somewhere, I suppose.

Here, here. I got one. A judge walks out of his chambers laughing his head off. A colleague approaches him and asks why he is laughing. "I just heard the funniest joke in the world!" "Well, go ahead, tell me!" says the other judge. "I can't – I just gave someone ten years for it!"

OK. OK. Here's another one! Q: What is the difference between the Constitutions of the USA and USSR? Both of them guarantee freedom of speech. A: Yes, but the Constitution of the USA also guarantees freedom after the speech.

I got a gulag full of them!

Funny. The Soviet people knew their government was full of shit. They didn't believe a word of the fake news, aka propaganda, that was dished out. By 1990 the whole edifice was one creak away from a collapse. How the tables have turned. And we're back to a nuclear crisis! How about that. Don't that just beat all? I always did like nostalgia. Now we're the ones hanging onto our government's every turd like it's gospel dipped in chocolate and the rest of the world is looking at us saying, "Seriously? Have you been paying attention?"

Where's a JFK to sort things out today?

OK. So. Three fake news talkers who laughed at a Senate hearing are in prison. The first one says, "I am here because I spoke out against Trump. What about you?" The second one says, "Well, I am here because I supported Trump." So they turn to the third one and ask why is he here. "Because I am Trump," he says.

OK, Comrade. I'll go quietly.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Victory Day

Today is Victory Day, Russia’s version of Memorial Day. It celebrates the victory over Nazi Germany. I watched a little of the celebration in Red Square. The Soviet Union was allied with Great Britain and the United States against Hitler. Whatever your opinions of the Russian government in 2017, we can express solidarity with Russian citizens suppressed by the Soviet regime in the 1940’s who still rose to the task of defending themselves against fascism. 27 million Soviets, mostly Russians, died in the Great Patriotic War. Every Russian family today has at least one relative, uncle, grandfather, who died in the war. Over a million people starved to death in the siege of Leningrad. The United States hasn’t been invaded by a foreign power since the war of 1812. Russians understand what war is first hand. They don’t like it but they know how to fight one.

Russia was invaded. Joseph Stalin refused to believe his advisors that the Nazis were about to invade and had no preparations. He had to scramble to assemble an army, the Red Army, provision it, arm it, and repel the Nazis. They liberated Poland, liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp, and marched to Berlin. The three allies met in Berlin, which precipitated the division of Berlin and all of Germany into East and West. Stalin, Churchill, and FDR met at Yalta. And then the Cold War happened, an odd piece of history considering that we were all allies during the war. Then we were enemies for no real reason.

The cold war is over. Has been for 27 years. Let us remember what it was like and honor the sacrifices of everyone who was thrust into it. Let us work to insure that no more wars, hot or cold, rear their hideous heads anywhere on earth again.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Let's Make Some Reality!

Turdblossem, AKA, Karl Rove (Bush II said it, not me) famously said, "We make our own reality." This was in response to the American people so readily swallowing the lies leading up to the Iraq war. That same war where Madeline Albright said the deaths of half a million Iraqi children were 'worth it.' (Suppose Putin had said that about American children? The outrage would still be with us.) Washington got a green light to lie with impunity and not even show a pathetic, weak attempt to justify it. They don't even bother to send a Colin Powell to the UN with a fake vial of Anthrax to solicit a mandate for war crimes any more. Just do it! Bombs away!

Vigilante justice. That is what the west embraces now. Mob rule. Make your own reality then make your own response. It's the old Anglo-Saxon champion legal system where if two people had a dispute they would each proffer a champion. The two champions would fight and the winning thug would vindicate his sponser. No right or wrong, just whose got the bigger goon. That's been obsolete since the Magne Carta, yet it raises its ugly head.

A chemical attack in Syria? Assad did it! No need for an investigation. No UN OPCW called in to take samples, preserve the chain of evidence, determine what happened, and conduct a transparent, open investigation subject to international audit and then make charges in the International court. No! Just gather round the sovereign state with pitchforks and torches, cruise missiles and drones! I feel angry! America smash!

World leaders, just like normal citizens, are innocent until proven guilty. That's the foundation of western jurisprudence. And they deserve a trial before a jury of their peers. That's up to the Hague.

No. Just attack. The crime is heinous (which it is) so the judgement is just (ditto) and the perpetrator is known (which he is not!) If our response is in like or worse fashion than the original offense and if we lash out against an innocent agent, that makes us the terrorists.

That's the reality we make.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Party of Hypocrisy

First it was wall murals of Trump and Putin making out. Those were supposed to be funny. Then a picture of Putin in drag with the caption, “Putin hates this, so don’t you dare repost!” Last year I heard someone criticize Trump for promising to commit a war crime (torture) when Clinton had already done one (Libya.) Clinton was given a pass. Now we have Stephen Colbert making a gay joke about Trump and Putin.

So it’s OK to be sexist and homophobic if we’re the ones doing it now? Trump’s ‘locker room talk’ is bad. Ours is good? Do as we say, not as we do, is it? No wonder the left in this country is a joke. No wonder no one listens to us and thinks we’re a wash tub of whiners. Our government no longer stands for any of the principals dear to the American people and enshrined in our Constitution, so we spend our time squabbling, finger pointing, and believing propaganda. Keep the Proles arguing among themselves.

When did we give up on credibility? When did we totally abandon respectful dialog? When did shooting the messenger become more important than heeding the message? When did we stop demanding accountability from our leaders? Speaking truth to power? Saying No! to our government’s atrocities?

Those are all among the signs of a falling empire. We can sit by and feel superior while the American Empire slides into war, ruin, and extinction. Or, maybe, we can work to cushion the blow. Take back our heritage as a republic and one country among equals. Confident within ourselves, a partner to the world, respectful of all. It was never that way, of course. Not entirely. But it was never this bad, either.

Maybe we should be asking ourselves the tough questions instead of school yard aping everyone else. I’ll start the conversation.

Why, really, did we lose?