Wednesday, May 01, 2019

AN OBSESSION


I am in OCD overdrive lately, mostly over worrying about how I am going to make it through the next school year (likely my last year of full-time work) in one piece both physically and mentally.  When I get like this over extended periods of time, I self-medicate, and not necessarily with drugs and alcohol…  I find collecting compact discs and vinyl records to be more helpful.  I have an extensive collection, and I love to wallow around in it. 

 

The big thing now is an obsession with Robert Pollard, both with his music and his art.  The problem with that?  He is so prolific in his various guises, including solo artist, front man for Guided by Voices, or with his side projects (such as Circus Devils, Boston Spaceships, and Ricked Wicky) that it is difficult to keep up with his output.  On the other hand, I love a good challenge.

 

Pollard apparently does little other than write poetry, write music, record music, and do his collage art.  I am not sure how many albums he releases per year, but I am going to guess it may be eight or ten?  In addition to that, he releases seven-inch 45 rpm singles from nearly every album.  If there are about 20 items a year to collect, that can run into some money.  So far?  I have about a dozen LPs, about 100 CDs, and roughly 25 45’s.  All of the Pollard-related music on CDs is in one area on one shelf of the collection, which sits inside a large cupboard…  and inside the cupboard door there is a checklist.  Heh!  As I add more of the items from the list to my collection, I revise the list, reprint it, and put up the revision.  I have it down to a science.   

 

As of now, I still have 13 LPs, five CDs, 36 7” 45 rpm records, and three other singles that are available on either CD or 7” 45 to be acquired…  and several of the remaining items on my list were made in such limited quantities that they are now true collector’s items, costing between $100 and $200 each.  The “Blue Balls Lincoln” vinyl EP by Cash Rivers and the Sinners?  That will cost you about $150.  “Suitcase 3”, a collection of demos thrown together into an out-of-print four-CD set?  Try about $150.  Time to start saving some money.    

 

And that is just the music.  What about the art?  Pollard does fascinating collages, mostly produced from found materials in the form of pictures from old magazines, sometimes put together on paper, sometimes on old book covers.  The resulting works have a rather ethereal and often hallucinogenic quality.  The works are collected in a series of quality paperback books in his “Eat” series.  "Eat" is an inexpensive way to collect his artwork, as the books cost $10 to $15 each, and I believe the latest one released was number 15 in the series.  He also sells his artwork online, and it is priced anywhere from $100 to $1500 and up per original item.  Time to save some more money, if the ultimate goal is to have an original piece of Bob’s collage art.  And that’s an ultimate goal of mine.   

 

Pollard is basically a modern-day Renaissance man.  He comes from a regular American background, was a star athlete in high school and college, and worked as a grade-school teacher until his musical career started taking off.  He got it going a bit later than most rockers; now in his early sixties, he has not slowed down for a moment.  When I use Google to find out “How many songs has Robert Pollard written”, Wikipedia says the number is over 2,000.  You are not likely to find him placed prominently under “most prolific songwriters” though, because he is part of the “alternative” or “indie rock” scene, and always has been. 

 

Many people know who Robert Pollard is, but he just is not everyone’s cup of tea.  In fact, if his music was to randomly happen on the radio, many people would change the station.  Sometimes the playing is off key, or his vocals do not quite sound smooth, soothing or pitch friendly.  He uses psychedelic poetic imagery that contains bluster, testosterone, sentiment, cocksureness, sadness, joy, and all sorts of word combinations that are there just for the sound of the words, with any apparent meaning apparently being damned.  His lyrics tend not to be ones that people will easily remember well enough to sing along with, unless they are truly rabid fans (like me). 

 

To some, Guided By Voices, Inc. might seem like a cottage industry for Robert Pollard’s vanity projects.  Why have I become obsessive about collecting his stuff?  Mainly because he is one of my favorite artists of all time when it comes to both lyrics/music and visual art, he is still alive, and his stuff is all still out there and collectable.  I know Bob consumes a lot of alcohol; anyone familiar with his work and who has seen him perform knows it.  I do not know about how much has been consumed in the way of drugs, although some of his imagery is fine psychedelia. 

 

Who knows how long he will continue to live, be vibrant, produce consumable items, and keep not giving a fuck?  I do not know the answer to that, but for an obsessive-compulsive collector such as myself, the whole of Robert Pollard, his world, and his resulting work represents a real dream come true.  I hope he can “keep it in motion” for a long, long time. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

AN ADDICT CONFESSES, AND ATTEMPTS TO CONFRONT


I have not been blogging on a regular basis for a long time, like over two years... but I have been considering using this as a way for honing my writing skills.  Bear with me, my little guinea pigs.  I may be here more often than you would like, if you are even here to notice.  I hope you will stop by once in a while. 

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My life on social media was fun, and it was addictive.  Maybe coming back to this blog represents a marginal return, but I have been off Facebook for a year or so now, and for the most part it has been good for me.

 

When I was doing Facebook, I spent at least an hour a day with it, sometimes two hours or more.  It was nice to see what so many people were saying and doing.  I checked in on whichever of my friends I happened to think of.  That part was fine but it was time-consuming.  When I got to posting things on my own page it seemed like I was doing it mostly for the purpose of entertaining others, seeing how many “likes” I could generate, and as one friend described it, “The John Evans method of Facebook:  just keep throwing stuff up on the wall and see what sticks”.   All told, my Facebook time gradually became sort of a desultory exercise.  

 

Another thing was odd.  I am a junkie when it comes to politics, and I did not want to post many political things on my own page because I tend to shy away from conflict, yet I had no problem with going to other people’s pages and arguing politics on their turf.  It was almost exclusively on pages where I agreed with that particular friend’s leanings.  Somehow, that just did not feel right.  Was I staying in a secure, safe place?  A bubble?  I felt the need to escape. 

 

How many “likes” would my posts generate?  What purpose did getting those “likes” serve?  Was I seeking a sort of validation?  Was I taking something simple and making more out of it than necessary?  Possibly.  Even if so, did I need that kind of worry and headache?  No.         

 

Before I left Facebook I posted a message to let my friends know I would be leaving, and that they could reach me through email messages, Messenger, or phone calls.  Almost a year later, someone I have known since we were both babies sent me a sad note on Messenger about how she had been “unfriended” by me.  I unfriended or blocked several people while I was a Facebook user, but she was not one of those.  I explained to her that she simply had not checked out my page often enough to know what I was up to.  As we like to say online, “LOL”.    

 

It got to where I was spending so much time on Facebook that I became uneasy, and the last straw was the slew of revelations about the loss of privacy on the platform.  I believe Facebook started as a great idea, as a place where people could congregate online, be friends, and have discussions.  As it has turned out, Facebook is still good for those things.  I believe it has also turned out to be a tool for spreading negativity, hatred, and disinformation, and we have plenty of that already in today’s world.  I noticed the general tone getting nastier, and nastier, and nastier.  People say things to others online that they would never say to a stranger on the street.  Despite most of my Facebook friends using the platform for the best of purposes and intentions, it was time to split.  As for Twitter?  I have never done it, and I never will.

 

I have worked to leave many of those things behind.  I am out of the loop now when it comes to quite a few things that are going on in Facebook World, but I know who my real friends are.  I do not have much problem staying in touch with them, and I do make that effort.  All I have to do is reach out, and I can do it without hosting a Facebook page.  And I have a page with Instragram, for having fun and for sharing pictures with others.  You can always feel free to come check it out. 

 

Some would argue that everyone should be involved with Facebook, because everyone being online all the time is where our future is heading.  Well… call me an old fud.  I am fine with that characterization, as I would rather just not try to dive into a future that is evolving faster than my head can satisfactorily follow.

 

Despite all of this, I am thinking Facebook and social media in general are not the social culprits in America nowadays as much as our smartphones are when it comes to the deterioration of our society.  Phones are ubiquitous.  Ten years ago, it was not so bad, but now it seems like nobody can live without the phones.  People have them out everywhere, all of the time, myself included.  I am not on Facebook, but now I am constantly looking at news, following ball games, messaging people, and playing word games.  Still too much time on the phone, and not enough time really communicating with other people, playing musical instruments, reading books… it makes me feel diseased, as if I am not fulfilling my potential as a human being.

 

As a Speech-Language Pathologist, I have spent my career in an attempt to help others gain or regain interpersonal communication skills.  Sometimes electronic devices are necessary for helping people communicate with each other, but I have always shunned their use in teaching communication skills, particularly with kids.  As our society’s face-to-face communication skills are diminished and de-emphasized, so deteriorates our society.  It is no small wonder to me that our country now has a president such as Trump… a true product of our society’s dumbing-down over the past 20 years, in my opinion.  And, perhaps sadly, I believe smartphones and social media have accelerated our dumbing-down process.          

 

I'll change the subject here (but not really), by asking "What will you be doing this summer? "   

 

I will spend time on my smart phone, because it is an addiction I simply cannot seem to conquer… but I also plan to be outside in our back yard doing some gardening, going for frequent walks, going for drives in the local countryside, reading a number of books, playing some music, doing some writing.  I might record some songs, which is something I have not done in a long time. 

 

Perhaps most importantly, I will have some good face-to-face conversations with family and friends.  For me, that is real communication.    

WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS


Given that I basically don’t blog much at all any more, I doubt many people will read this.  So, it’s basically just some cathartic blabbering.  But if you happen to stumble across it, enjoy, if you can. 

 

Many of us on the left undoubtedly found the Mueller Report profoundly disappointing due to the lack of explosive content many of us hoped to see about the president.  Being a lefty is not easy these days.  We want what is best for the country, and that means we want the president to do well.  On the other hand, when the guy currently in office is such a drag on the country, we don’t believe he is the best person to have running things.  We believe he is tone-deaf to the needs of the American people, that he is mostly just out to preserve himself, to get revenge on people, to punish people… he is pretty much an incompetent narcissist. 

 

I believe we all should remember that the Mueller Investigation began as a probe into Russian influences on our electoral process, and that every American should be glad it was undertaken for that reason.  Our president should have had no qualm, because it was designed to help us find ways to preserve the integrity of our election process and protect it from foreign influences, particularly those from an adversarial nation such as Russia.  The investigation included a look at whether or not there were people here in America facilitating the supposed Russian interference, and that was one of the conclusions:  Russia interfered, and is likely to continue to do so.

 

Many conservatives view the investigation as a pretense to try to pry the president from office.  The way I see it, the president did not have to involve himself in the investigation if he was innocent of any of the things the left claimed he was doing.  However, the Report describes numerous instances of the president attempting to end the investigation.  Why?  He has been afraid of something, and due to the redactions in the Report, we will probably never know the whole story.  But it seems that his acquiescent behavior, particularly toward an adversarial autocrat such as Vladimir Putin, invited investigation.  Stating that he trusted Putin more than his own intelligence community obviously invited questions.  Why is he so willing to bend over for Vladimir? 

 

I used to go around and around here and on Facebook with a certain fellow who used to laugh at how “Putin is running circles around Obama”.  Looking back at Obama’s presidency, it can be argued by some that he allowed certain conditions around the world to escalate, and I will admit that I am disappointed if he knew about Russian election interference and did little to end it.  On the other hand, I submit that Putin actually is running circles around our current president, and that our president’s supporters seem blind to it.  It seems this could be because they don’t care what our president says or does, as long as the GOP can “own the libs”.

 

Back to the Mueller Report.  It does not indict the president for anything.  As far as we know, there is no concrete or “smoking gun”-style evidence of the high crimes and misdemeanors necessary for impeachment.  However, the wording of the Report suggests that none of it exonerates the president, and that whether or not he is actually exonerated is something Congress can decide.  While numerous conservatives are dancing in the end zone celebrating the president’s “exoneration”, they are in a state of denial over his attempts to obstruct an investigation into the Russian influence in our electoral process.  They are in a state of denial over the lies of the president and his press secretary.  They are in a state of denial over the way the president and his team believe that it’s OK to push the envelope to the absolute limits of the law, no matter in what areas, no matter how unethical, as long as they can “own” the other side.  It is all about the “winning”.

 

America does not win with such a leader.  Our nation can only wait things out, in hopes that our 2020 presidential election process will produce a winner who holds a sense of common decency toward all Americans. 

 

And while the Mueller Report doesn’t end the Trump presidency, it greatly tarnishes it, at least for anyone who is paying attention.  Many Americans don’t like the president to begin with, myself included.  If more people stop to think about him, especially in light of the findings in the Report, they also may start liking him less. 

 

I always thought political conservatism included strong feelings for preserving American values, and in many cases, Christian values.   To Trump supporters, I would suggest re-reading the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, then asking yourselves how many of these things he actually does and doesn’t do.  Some things are documented.  He lies.  He is an adulterer.  He tends not to pay people for services rendered, which amounts to stealing.  He abuses his power of speech by bearing false witness against others.  He covets.  Sure, all of us are guilty of breaking some of these rules from time to time, but I tell the truth to others, I am faithful to my spouse, I pay people to whom I owe money, and I don’t proliferate falsehoods about other people.  I am far from pure, but I try hard to be a decent human being.  I don’t see our president trying to do the same, and I am not sure he has the ability to even make an effort.  It just doesn’t seem to be in his makeup. 

 

Does the president comfort those who mourn?  His response to Puerto Rico’s current situation suggests not.  Is he merciful?  From the tenor of his tweets, I think not, unless it is toward people who do his bidding.  Does he believe the poor are blessed?  I believe he thinks the poor are worthless tools who for use as workers to bear the weight of our society.  Does he treat others as he would wish to be treated?  I do not think he does.  His immediate response when criticized is not to brush it off, but rather to seek revenge… and, ultimately, to whom are we supposed to leave revenge?  If president Obama had not openly joked about Trump and roasted him at the White House Correspondent’s Dinner eight years ago this month, would Trump be trying quite so hard to undo anything and everything related to Obama?  I think he might still be, but likely without as much vigor.

 

The Mueller Report reinforces many of the things I (and others on the left) believe about Trump.  The left wing should not feel celebratory; that would be for when Trump is finally out of office.  But those of us who don’t like Trump regardless of our political or religious affiliations should feel vindicated if we are among those who view him as an unethical, corrupt, narcissistic liar.  The Report reinforces the idea that “this is not normal” for America, and that we are indeed at a crossroads.  Are we witnessing the end of the American Experiment, or do we want it to continue?  For those who are interested and who are willing to listen, the Report provides a blueprint, if you will, for a roadmap to follow as we try to rebuild our deteriorating nation.  The Report reminds of what we do not want to be as Americans. 

 

Impeachment?  I have to laugh at that notion.  Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here.  Trump and his team are savvy enough to know that if the Democrats tried impeachment, the Senate would never support it because the Senate, until we can change its makeup, is in Trump’s pocket.  The best (and I believe only) way to rid ourselves of Trump, and to prevent others such as him from being elected in the future?  Trust our process, and work to protect it.  Cast our votes for those who will protect our right to vote rather than those who wish to suppress it.  Vote for people who actually want to “drain the swamp” rather than for those would allow swamp denizens to proliferate at the nation's expense.  Vote based on the person’s character; in this case it is easy to find someone with more character than the president.  Let's look for a candidate who represents national interests as well as our own. 

 

I suggest conservatives abandon Trump in 2020, instead considering a candidate such as William Weld, or anyone else who might emerge as a challenger.  Maybe John Kasich, should he decide to run?  Nearly anyone besides Trump will be a candidate of good character, at least by comparison.  Use the results of the Mueller Report as one of the tools in making your decision.  Do not use what conservative talking heads tell you to think about the Report.  Instead, look at what the Report says, and then decide.  Do not be fooled by Trump.  For him, the “winning” is not as much about “owning the libs” as it is about his own enrichment and self-preservation.  I am certain you can do better than voting for him a second time.  If you did not vote for him the first time?  Good for you!      

 

I suggest liberals/progressives also search for candidates of character.  Even more importantly though, I suggest we not bother with impeachment right now, as Elizabeth Warren is suggesting we should do immediately, but rather use the House majority to pursue investigations of the president and his administration based on information the Mueller Report provides.  If evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors pops up?  Go for it!  If we play our cards correctly, this administration will further tarnish itself at an exponential rate.   


Whatever any investigations should reveal, I believe that through the results of such probes it should become increasingly evident to America that Donald Trump is taking us down the toilet and that he does not really give a shit about anyone but himself.   His actions merit investigation.  If you don't agree, you might not be paying attention. 

 

No, “this is not normal”, America... and we are better than “this”.   

Thursday, February 23, 2017

TRUMP STUFF


There is simply too much going on to keep up with when it comes to Donald Trump’s presidency.

 

Several things stick out so far:

 
The Republicans in the House and Senate don’t appear too concerned about Russia’s tampering with our elections and with our government.  They don’t appear concerned with Trump’s erratic behavior, odd statements, and trouble focusing on his job.  The reason?  I believe it is because they are still too excited about enacting their agenda.  They will not be eager to put our country first, as they still see Trump as their vehicle for getting things done, such as cutting into the social safety net, giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, rolling back civil rights, overturning Roe v. Wade, rolling back government regulations in every area possible, and maybe even cutting into Medicare and Social Security.  I think it will take an issue that truly threatens national security or represents an obvious threat to our form of government before the Republicans begin to turn away from Trump.  It will be interesting to see how much of their agenda gets rammed through before they admit people such as Trump and his cohorts are a clear and present danger to America. 

 
Impeachment?  The Democrats might as well not bother with this unless something is revealed that represents such a smoking gun that even the hardest-core Republicans can’t overlook it.  The left would most likely not have the votes in the Senate to convict anyway.  I believe it is better to continue to try and build a stronger Democratic party now, which means finding new leadership as soon as possible and getting things organized. 


The face of the Democratic party needs to be someone new.  It can’t be Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi, or anyone who has been tarred and feathered in the right-wing media for the past 20 or more years.  It also needs to be someone who is dedicated to the party platform, but who is also dedicated to finding ways to reach moderate voters who are dissatisfied or concerned about Trump.  Simply expecting people to embrace the Democrats because they are not Trump is not going to get the job done.  The Democratic party has to appeal to voters.


Trump’s battle with the media is only succeeding to a point.  He continues to fire up his base, who have been fed the “liberal media” myth for decades, but he is not convincing enough others (yet) that the media is actually the “enemy of the American people”.  The media may be his enemy, yes, but if so it is for the benefit of the entire country.  We need to support our media, and continue to speak in support of our First Amendment rights.  This will require vigilance as well as action. 


Prediction:  Trump will not last two years in office.  It won’t make any difference to those Republicans hell-bent on ramming through their agenda anyway, as Mike Pence will still be in charge of implementing it.  And if not Mike Pence, it will be Paul Ryan.  I believe Trump will resign, either under pressure due to scandal, or due to not being able to do his job because his personality doesn’t allow him to.  Also, Republicans will get re-elected in 2020 unless Democrats get off their asses and do something.  So for now, let’s be vocal, let’s communicate often with our elected representatives, and let’s continue to keep the real news up front in the media.  The GOP has shown us how easy it is to manipulate America, and it has been easier with help from outside the country.  We need to be on the alert, and when we see something we know is not right, we need to be loud about it.   

 

TIME FOR SOME BASEBALL!


I’m cautiously optimistic about the Seattle Mariners this year.  That is, I think they will be a bit better than last year, which means they may be good enough to get into the playoffs for a change.  The playoff drought has lasted a while, and it’s well past time that my team made a post-season appearance.

 

What makes it different this time around?

 

For starters, the team returns its best players from 2016.  When the Mariners dished out a $240 million contract to Robinson Cano a few years ago, many wondered if this was such a great move.  In terms of his age and likely drop-off in skills by the end of the ten-year deal, it didn’t seem like a good investment at first.  As things have turned out, Cano has been a leader for the ball club, both on the field and in the clubhouse.  His strong work ethic and easy-going style have helped make the Mariners into a team that has fun as they go about their business, and he backs it all up with a great glove and a stellar bat.

 

Nelson Cruz is back, and this year it looks like he will mainly be the designated hitter.  While his glove is not bad in right field, he no longer has the range or skills needed to keep him from being a liability at times.  His bat will still be in the lineup on a daily basis, though.

 

Kyle Seager continues to be as steady a third baseman as you will find in the majors.  He has Gold Glove skills in the field, and he hits consistently well. 

 

And while the team has been terrible at base running in recent years, it looks like there is now some help coming.  The new shortstop, Jean Segura, is coming off of a career year with the Arizona Diamondbacks.  He should slot into the order as the new leadoff hitter.  Jarrod Dyson was acquired from the Kansas City Royals, and he also adds speed, along with good outfield defense.  Returning center fielder Leonys Martin is a good defensive player who can also help charge up the offense at times. 

 

General Manager Jerry DiPoto smartly brought in veteran catcher Carlos Ruiz to help incumbent catcher Mike Zunino along.  Zunino is still a “project”, but it appears a stint in the minors last season has helped him develop into a better major-league hitter.  Zunino’s defensive skills are already major league caliber.  If his bat should falter this season, Ruiz brings a hitter’s eye, as well as defensive skills that remain quite adequate despite his age. 

 

First base, corner outfield positions, and utility roles should comprise most of the battles during Spring Trianing for the M’s this year.  Daniel Vogelbach was acquired from the Cubs in trade for pitcher Mike Montgomery last season, and at age 22 has yet to make his mark in the majors.  The organization has concerns about his ability to field his position, so DiPoto has brought in veteran Danny Valencia to help man first base in case Vogelbach is not ready.  Valencia has been a decent hitter throughout his career. It remains to see how he will fit in as a team member, as this has apparently been difficult for him in the past. 

 

Several young, athletic outfielders will be vying for playing time alongside Martin and Dyson.  Seattle is high on Mitch Haniger, acquired via trade this winter in the same deal that brought Jean Segura to the M’s.  The organization knows Haniger has good defensive skills, and they believe he can hit for power and for average.  Early indications are that he will see a lot of time in right field.  Others who could play outfield roles for the team this year are Ben Gamel and Guillermo Heredia.  While neither was particularly impressive in stints with the team in 2016, both are young and have good minor-league track records.

 

Utilitiy player Shawn O’Malley was fun to watch with the Mariners last year.  He is a gutsy player who epitomizes this year’s team motto, “Whatever it takes”.  This spring he will have competition from Taylor Motter and Mike Freeman for the jack-of-all-trades role.

 

In 2016, the Mariners had tough times here and there with their pitching.  Injuries played a major role, as did inconsistency.  Felix Hernandez, usually the Mariners ace starter, had a down year in 2016.  He underwent a strenuous conditioning routine over the winter, and results have been positive so far.  He will be joined in the rotation by two holdovers from last year, lefty James Paxton and righthander Hisashi Iwakuma, and two newcomers, veterans Yovani Gallardo and Drew Smyly.  All five of these starters have experienced success at the major league level, and the Mariners hope Safeco Field will provide a pitcher-friendly environment for everyone.  Paxton has appeared on the verge of breaking out the past few seasons, but he has been derailed by nagging injuries.  Iwakuma has been unspectacular most of the time, but has been a fairly reliable pitcher.  If the guys in the rotation are all pitching well, look out.

 

The bullpen is a bit of a question too, although as a former major league reliever, DiPoto seems to know how to assemble a workable group of relievers.  In 2016, righty “Electric” Edwin Diaz rose from AA ball to become the Mariners’ closer.  He was a raw rookie and he had his ups and downs, but he was mostly reliable in his role.  He and fellow AA right-handed pitcher Dan Altavilla hit 100 miles per hour on the radar gun on a regular basis.   Altavilla impressed with the Mariners at the end of last season.  From among Steve Cishek, Tony Zych, Ariel Miranda, Chris Heston, Evan Scribner, Nick Vincent and a number of others, DiPoto and manager Scott Servais will assemble a bullpen that can get the job done.

 

While the Mariners added speed, defense and pitching during this winter’s Hot Stove League, they also added some organizational depth at the AAA level.  The team now has some options in Tacoma should any of their players get injured or falter in the majors.  Look for youngsters such as pitchers Rob Whalen and Max Povse, acquired from Atlanta, to help with pitching if needed.  If Gamel and Heredia are not on the major league roster to begin the year, they will be playing regularly in Tacoma, possibly alongside outfielder Boog Powell, catcher Tuffy Gosewitch, and others who have major league experience.  Relievers who don’t make the Mariners pitching staff will likely log a lot of innings in AAA, and Miranda and Heston have both been starting pitchers in the majors.  If the M’s need to call someone up, there should now be plenty of options. 

 

What does this all mean? 

 

The team improved itself in terms of speed, defense, and on-base percentage, and possibly in terms of starting pitching, all without decimating its major league roster or minor league system.   After an 86-win season in 2016, look for the Mariners to win at least that many again this year.  I’m thinking more like 89 or 90 wins…  and that ought to be enough to get them into the playoffs, at least as a wild card team. 

 

Whatever it takes! 

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

TRUMP LEAGUE

A new idea for making the Trump regime more fun.  Get your dice ready!

GAME #1 - Where, and how soon, will we see "Boots on the Ground"?  Roll one die for each list.

1 - Iraq
2 - Syria
3 - Libya
4 - Yemen
5 - Iran
6 - other

1 - within three months after Inauguration
2 - 3-6 months
3 - 6-9 months
4 - 9-12 months
5 - 12-24 months
6 - during the last two years of the administration


GAME #2 - Match the appointee with the position!  Roll one die for each list. 

1 - Rudy Giuliani
2 - Trey Gowdy
3 - Chris Christie
4 - Newt Gingrich
5 - Ted Cruz
6 - other

1 - Attorney General
2 - Secretary of State
3 - Department of Education
4 - Environmental Protection Agency
5 - Chief of Staff
6 - Ministry of Propaganda


GAME #3 - Who will be the press secretary?  (just roll the die one time)

1-Kellyanne Conway
2 -Katrina Pierson
3- Jeffery Lord
4- Corey Lewandowski
5-Scottie Neil Hughes
6-Kayleigh McEnany



On the first game, my result was Libya, in 6-9 months.  My second result was Trey Gowdy for Attorney General.  For #3, I got Kellyanne Conway. 

TRUMPENSTEIN






Observations and predictions, after digesting some of the initial shock...

 
Pretty lousy election last night.  Maybe Trump won’t be all that bad, though I can’t imagine how he could really be very good at all.
At least the stock market hasn’t started tanking yet.  Heh! 
The Republicans will be like kids in the candy store.  The first 100 days will be brutal.  

No more Affordable Care Act, probably with nothing to replace it right away. 

Fast-track approval of some new far-right Supreme Court justice chosen by Trump to replace Scalia, plus another one if Ginsberg doesn’t make it through at least the next four years. 

Tax cuts enacted for the wealthy, so the rest of us will pay even more of the burden. 

Cuts to safety net programs.  Paul Ryan’s budget enacted. 

Defunding of Planned Parenthood, Public Broadcasting, and whatever else they don’t like. 

Lots of cronies (Giuliani, Gingrich, etc.) appointed to powerful positions. 

Heavy-handed pressure or worse on unfriendly media outlets and certain offending employees. 

Restrictions on the internet (no more net neutrality). 

Federal crackdown attempts on medical and recreational pot where it has been legalized. 

Republicans will attempt to undo Roe v. Wade, and to undo as much of the New Deal as possible. 

No luck getting anywhere on overturning Citizens United. 
Trump will run the country as a CEO, with Pence and others doing the bulk of the work.  Trump will be the figurehead; he will articulate policies, others will carry them out.  Pence will be as powerful as Cheney was, but won’t have as much success at pulling the president’s puppet strings. 
The wall won’t get built, and if it does, it won’t do anything much to stop people from entering from Mexico.  Obama’s Cuba progress will be rolled back.  We will get along better with Russia…  heh!  Trump will get lots of pressure to undermine NATO.  He will try to start trade wars.  And we will find ourselves in a war somewhere, with troops on the ground.    
Police violence will continue.  Minorities will continue to become more disenfranchised.  Oil pipelines will be built wherever they can be built, and there will be continued fracking.  Protestors will be dealt with in brutal ways.  Gun sales will continue to go up.  Militias will increase, and there will be more occupations like the one by the jerks at Malheur (there would have been more such occupations anyway, but a Trump win will only embolden the militias). 


Wildlife refuges, particularly in northern Alaska, will once again be under threat.  Attempts will be made to do away with the Environmental Protection Agency. 

It is the Democratic party that needs to do a post-election autopsy this time, and it needs to be done with lots of thought.  The emphasis needs to be on how to connect with rural voters, as well as with any others who weren't enthused this time around.  A better candidate might have done the trick this time, but then again I'm not so sure it would have.     
BUT…     
Polls showed 56% of people are either scared or concerned with the idea of a Trump presidency…  the GOP will be able to stay in power for a while by keeping people afraid, but I think things will gradually come around to where people realize they don’t have to put up with some of the far-right crap.  If we see a "revolution", it won't come from the "tea party" types, but from the rest of Americans.    
If Democrats have any sense at all, the DNC will quickly tear itself down and build back up, installing people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as leaders.  Look for a better performance from Democrats in the midterms in 2018, as intensive turn-out-the-vote efforts will prevail in some House and Senate races despite GOP attempts to restrict voting.  Some exciting presidential contenders will emerge for the left.    
By 2020 people will be pretty fed up with the Republican party.  By that time, the GOP will have trashed dozens of things the left (and many on the right) hold dear.  By then, the Dems will provide a better candidate that isn’t flawed like Clinton, and people will get enthused and get behind him or her.  And then, we will have to see if America makes the same mistake it did in 2004 by re-electing a consummate doofus.
Back to pot:  apparently Trump doesn’t have a problem with the medical aspects of it.  But if Pence is going to be the one doing all the work… and with him being the puritan he is… who knows what might happen.  It may be time to stock up, just in case!  J  Pot votes passing in CA, ME, MA, and NV might make it less likely that we’d see a fed crackdown on recreational sales and use, as it's in something like eight states now, and all up and down the West Coast.  It may be too late for crackdowns now.  Chris Christie is the one who’s such a hard-ass on pot, and I doubt he’d get any kind of powerful appointment after the Bridgegate thing…  but you just never know with the GOP. 
And I have doubts Trump would try and do the Mussolini thing.  I’m actually thinking it may be more of a mixed bag.  He may have some centrist tendencies, and he might do some things that are OK with people on both sides of the political fence.  He might even actually try to reach across the aisle.  But Pence will probably be whispering far-right crap in his ear.  The thought of Trump as the puffed-up figurehead running America, Inc. with Pence doing the dirty work is pretty frightening.  Trump may not have any real agenda to advance, but Pence will do whatever he can to advance a religious conservative agenda.  I’m starting to think Pence is possibly more dangerous than The Donald.
We can all hope the pragmatist in Trump comes out, that he pisses off a lot of people who voted for him by changing his mind or not following through on stuff he said during the campaign, and that maybe he won’t actually be too horrible.      
And I don’t believe Bernie Sanders would have beaten Trump, either.  To all those Bernie fanatics who are saying “We told you so”, all I have to say is “And so we will never know for sure, will we?” 
And when they say “But all the polls showed he had a better chance against Trump!” then I’ll say “Yeah, but that’s what the polls said about Hillary too, once she got the nomination…  why don’t you ask her about the trustworthiness of polls?”

I’m not sure I will ever be able to take comfort in polls again after this!  Meh...

Forgot to mention climate change, too…  efforts to slow it down are bound to take a huge hit now, and our attention-challenged public will probably start forgetting about it.  We can hope that isn’t the case. 
Whatever happens, I am relieved this election cycle is over.  I just wish it would have turned out better.


The next four years won’t be pretty, but we will survive.  The smiling face of a baby this morning at work reminded me that there is still a lot of good in the world, and that we need to teach our kids values, not ideologies.






 
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