The Eyes Have It!

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Once upon a time, there was a land where people could see only out of either their left eye, or their right eye. Those who saw the land through their left eye, saw a world entirely different than those who saw through their right eye. Those who saw through their left eye saw a world where  local law enforcement expressed their unstated bias by targeting those different from themselves. Those who saw out of their right eye saw a world where those same law enforcement personnel stood as the sole barrier between anarchy and themselves.

It is ironic that the same scene can be perceived so differently depending upon which eye is used to observe. Those who watch with their right eye see the entire discussion regarding COVID as little more than a hoax, and are convinced that all actions dealing with reducing the prevalence of the virus as infringements upon their civil liberties. Those who see through their left eye are prone to view the other-sighted people as selfish and stupid for not being willing to take simple steps to reduce the impact of this disease upon society.

The preferred eye also affects intake of media. Those who see with their right eye seldom stray from Fox, unless it is to migrate to one of the video networks further to their right on the broadcast continuum, like Newsmax or OANN. Or perhaps forgoing all of the medium of television in favor of the internet sites like 4CHAN or 8CHAN. Now, for those whose left eye predominates their perception, if it is television it may be CNN or MSNBC, or even those old dinosaurs of network news still purveying their preferred flavors of distilled news. Heck, even the old form of 60 Minutes received a revival this fall when their traditional interview with the candidates got blown up by the incumbent. But those who see with their left eye, also may use their ears to listen to NPR, or seek out online sources like the MSM sources of the Washington Post or the New York Times.

Those who view things through their left eye are liable to see the working poor as victims of a system weighted against their efforts, leaving it nigh unto impossible for them to succeed in today’s world. The same group would be viewed by those who use their right eye as unworthy souls who just are not trying hard enough to succeed. Indeed, the Presidential son-in-law recently made a public statement codifying this belief when he said that his father “can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful.”  Failure to succeed is only brought about by a failure to want to succeed. Nothing else could possibly cause these failures, for those who see with their right eye.

I’m not certain what is causing the schism in belief in science based upon the preferred eye. It seems a real statistical anomaly when those who see primarily with their right eye, are those who often reject the teachings and lessons of science. Indeed, some of these individuals sight has been so affected, they see the earth as flat, and as having been created for human’s consumption within the past few thousand years. Those who see with their left eye are more willing to accept demonstrated statistical evidence, so much so that it was reflected in the recent election where so many of those with the left sight believed it was risky to vote in person, so they cast absentee votes. Those same votes cast legally were viewed by those with right sight as being evidence the election was stolen, since so many of the votes counted late went for the challenger rather than the incumbent.

There are few remedies for trying to reconcile the sights of those who see with differing eyes. Whenever those who see primarily with one eye are exposed to the opposing viewpoint, their dominant eye reconfigures the images to conform with their preconceptions. Given the prevalence of ideological segregation in media selections, and in social media interactions, it is doubtful that anyone can force the other side to accept the correctness of another perspective. Even a global pandemic with its display of omnipotence against ideology cannot cause the two views to reconcile.

Given the intractable nature of the vision ailment running rampant across this nation, it seems hopeless to proclaim that there are seeds of reason seeming to sprout. The problem is, the tree of reason is a slow-growing species, and it can take generations before it has spread its branches over those who refuse to see other perspectives. We’d be better served if we depended upon the inexorable wave of demographics to cause those who see only with their right eye to become a smaller and smaller influence upon the rest of society. But somehow, even with the changes that will come about, there must be a way for those who see with their left eye, to recognize the bits of vision from the right-seers that are valid and worthwhile, and incorporate them into the vision of those who see mainly with their left eye. Otherwise, we are rejecting nearly half of the vision of humanity, and that cannot be correct.

Demographic Waves Crashing

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Over the decades, demographic waves crash upon our shore during our elections. The last four US Presidential elections offers the best evidence of the ebb and flow of these cross currents. The demographic changes showing up in the increased population of non-white residents enabled the election of the first non-white President. It cannot be overstated how much this stirred up the undercurrents of racism that were always present in this country. It was expressed overtly through pronouncements like that of Senate Leader McConnell, whose sole ambition was to make President Obama a one-term President. It was expressed covertly, through the growing popularity of racist forums on the internet, where the theory of birtherism was bandied about broadly. It finally resulted in the popularization of its most ardent proponent, and thus Trumpism was born.

The Newtonian response (to every action is an equal reaction) to the emergence of the demographic alliance expressed in Obama’s election, came in the form of the Trump campaign of 2016. In that election, the wave that emerged gathered up the scum from the bottom of the ocean of the population, and the filth that washed up upon the shore stayed in service to the new President. It represented the last, great gasp of the portion of the demographic pie that refuses to accept changes to the nation they apparently believe they, and they alone, own. The trends in the economy that preceded Trump continued during his term, and he was more than happy to accept responsibility for good things. His re-election looked secure, despite the damage he was inflicting to the nation and its reputation.

Then came that once per century occurrence, a pandemic. Much has been written about how this nation squandered the only potential advantage we had – time to respond before we were overwhelmed. The growth of the epidemic became obvious during the months of February and early March. This was truly an exponential growth rate, and strong action was needed to nip this early in the growth phase of the pandemic.

Here is where Trump’s famous gut instinct failed him. He believed that the emotional response of the population to a pandemic would cause the electorate to reject him this fall. Thus he insisted upon proclamations of strong action, and magical disappearances of this contagious virus, and even nonsensical solutions of internal irradiation and chemical cleansing, while simultaneously disavowing any responsibility for the response. The time that could have been used to produce and procure protective equipment fled, and thus we were treated to pictures of nurses wearing garbage bags in a futile effort to keep the virus at bay. As time went on, it was obvious that this President had no answer to an enemy that did not respond to bullying, to name-calling, to blame-transference. As the second peak wave receded this summer, a false sense of security boosted his ratings. But then the third peak began its inexorable rise, and once more the electorate could see that this emperor had no clothes. We will see where this third (hopefully last) wave goes since we have months to go before any effective action can be taken by the new administration.

The reactive wave to Trumpism was already in motion. The coalition of population segments necessary to defeat this President at the polls swung into action. Yet the power of the personality cult of Donald Trump held out strongly. It was only in the last few returns from urban centers in Georgia and Pennsylvania when it became obvious that Biden had an unbeatable lead. Still, those who have clung to Trump for access to power are crying that this election was stolen, and legal action can reverse this trend.

It should be obvious that since 2000, the Electoral College and the popular vote are no longer in synch. This was very nearly the third election out of six this century where the winner of the popular vote did not win the election. That is evidence of the change in the demographics we are witnessing. Though Biden won more counties than Hillary Clinton won, the vast majority of counties, even in states where Biden won, were colored red on the electoral maps of the television networks. We are seeing a schism between Norman Rockwell America, and the new America of the urban centers. The Republicans have held onto power through their machinations with redrawing of legislative and congressional districts. Some of those districts will be redrawn after the current census, but many will still favor the Republicans inside of states.  But by getting rid of the parasite-in-chief, there is an opportunity to revise government policies to be more responsive to the needs of the governed, rather than the needs of the 0.01% of the population at the top of the income and wealth statistics.

The coalition that defeated Trumpism will prove to be ephemeral, and short-lived. Any alliance that contains both Angela Davis and Bill Kristol is bound to come apart once the existential threat that bound them together, is returned into the wild. But the problems we face are truly immense, and the economic damage wrought by the pandemic will take many years to overcome. First, though, deal with the pandemic, since economic healing cannot occur until the physical healing from the covid virus happens.

It Is Finally Time

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I began this blog in early 2017. Thus the entire period that I’ve placed my words out into the ether have come during the Presidency of Donald Trump. I’ve used what wit I possess to attempt to persuade others of the utter vapidity and unsuitability of that man to hold the office of President of the United States. I’ve been accused of TDS, and of not accepting the results of the last election, and I can deal with that. I’ve also had the opportunity to share bits of life from West Virginia, and certain thoughts I’ve had on the sciences, sports, and reminiscences. But over everything hung the pall of Donald Trump.

Now we are within a day of the election where I hope there is a wholesale denunciation of the character and actions of this charlatan con-man. But even if the polls are to be believed, we still  live in a country where over 40% of the inhabitants who bother to vote, still want a continuation of the abysmal results of the last four years. That alone bothers me. It concerns me that so many Americans know so little about their past that they think only the present matters. It concerns me that so many Americans are willing to throw away hard-earned bricks of freedom in exchange for the pabulum of reality television. I am concerned that we will not find it possible to re-emerge after the election with a national sense of purpose and identity, because the 40+% who favor Trump do not share any of the vision I have about this nation’s purpose and identity.

Assuming Biden wins, some of the actions of the last four years can be reversed almost immediately. The horrendous decision to pull out of the WHO will never take place, since it wouldn’t have taken place until next July, and the Biden administration will be certain that it never happens. Some will take time. If the Republican attorney generals who brought the misbegotten suit against the ACA have their way, the Supreme Court will eviscerate that legislative act. Hopefully they will provide an interim period before the act is inactivated. The new administration will need to use that time to come up with a new legislative solution, perhaps one that incorporates many of the proposals made during the campaign.

But what will remain is the imprint of the Trump administration on the judiciary. The Faustian bargain that Republicans made with Donald Trump was to have the Federalist Society provide the acceptable list of judicial candidates, and then the Republicans would overlook all of Trump’s failings in exchange for this wholesale remaking of the judiciary. I’m old enough to remember when the radical fringe of Republicans were clamoring for the impeachment of Earl Warren, since they viewed him as the avatar of all evil in the US. Imagine declaring that schools needed to be integrated! Imagine that someone believes the Constitution requires eliminating state sponsored prayer in school!  Imagine that someone believes a person accused of a crime had a set of rights that had to be enunciated when they were arrested, and if those rights were not shared, the person could be released even if they were guilty of a crime! It was for these and other similar errors of judgment that the John Birch Society wing of the Republicans demanded the impeachment of Chief Justice Earl Warren. That smoldering fire finally re-ignited into a blaze during this current administration. The effect on the judiciary and the Supreme Court will be felt for decades to come, ensuring that the court falls further and further out of synch with the direction of the nation.

It will be interesting to see what realignment and renunciation of the previous administration occurs within the halls of Congress if Trump is defeated. Will it be possible for those Republicans who had surgically attached themselves to the generous hips of Donald Trump, to extract themselves from their current folly? Or will we see the splintering of the party into two factions: one, a populist wing based upon Trumpian concepts; and two, a wing of pragmatists who believe in conservative principles. Similarly, if the Democrats assume control of all three elective branches of the Federal government, will they be able to hold together the two factions in their party. The wing that believes, like the Trumpian wing, that the entire structure of government needs to be demolished and replaced with an idealistic new structure. Or, the wing that believes in incremental changes to the current structure, ensuring that change is more gradual.

I would not be surprised to see an eventual realignment into a three party system. One would be based upon the Trump position of isolation and America First, one would be the Democratic Socialists, and one would be the centrists who wish to tinker with the current structure. How those structural changes could be brought about remains to be seen. We’ve lived with the current two parties for over 150 years. Yet the events of the past four years has shown that it may not be possible to reconcile the disparate belief systems back into the previously defined containers.

First things first, though. If Trumpism is not repudiated on November 3, then the existential threat that is Donald Trump will have enough time to dismantle the structures and mores of our government so that we may not survive as a nation to have another election.

Even if Trump is defeated, I still worry about the damage he can do during the remaining time he has left in office. For those who are fans of Lord of the Rings, think Saruman and his deliberate attempt to spread evil in the Shire after he was thrown down. Doing destruction merely because it formed his only form of revenge. That is what I can foresee if Biden wins on November 3.

A Morning In The Life

Poor Donald. Poor, poor Donald. He’s pouting so hard you could put a service for eight on his lower lip. Imagine being confronted by REAL QUESTIONS? When deprived of his echo chamber in which he’s spent so much of his time during his presidency, he insists he has been treated worse by the press since any president since Abraham Lincoln. It isn’t easy, bearing the weight of having to battle all of the naysayers who seem to come out in droves whenever he places his head into the public sphere.

“It’s so bad out there in the world. People don’t show proper appreciation for what I’ve done for them. They blame me for this mess from China. Well, I know that if we hadn’t done things, more than 2 million would have died. And people are upset because of 200,000 dying?”  He fiddles with his remote control, forcing himself to see TV other than from his own safe zone. “There is that bitch Mika. What’s she saying? That I’m to blame for causing those spic families to be separated? Don’t they know I saved the country from their invasion? Those kids, they are so, so  much better off here where we take care of them. They probably never even saw running water in the shithole they used to live in.”

He pressed on the remote, forcing it back to his own safe zone, where Fox and Friends sat inviting him in. “No, not today. I’ve got too much to do today.” So the country was spared from a 40 minute stream-of-consciousness rant that would be dissected across the media world for the next day.

He called for his hairdresser and make-up artist. Few knew the intricate details involved with layering the remaining tendrils of hair up and over the immense bald spot atop his head. Daily it reminded Donald that he does not reign supreme over all of nature. “Just like that damn China virus. I can’t seem to make it behave either.”  He patiently sat for forty-five minutes while his hair weave was completed, and just the right shade of orange was slathered over his face, leaving his visage immaculate in its iridescence and ready for yet another day of facing his enemies. It is strange how so many of his supporters have become his bitter enemies, but then, who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? Only Donald knows. He knows better than all of them how they will all turn on him, even those like Barr who has pulled off so many masterful escapes. But now Barr cannot even deliver on indictments of those who wronged him. “We’ll wait till after the election, after I win, then out he goes too.”

“They’ve been trying for a coup for the past four years. Well, now they want to keep bringing up this COVID crap. I’ll bet anything that those bastards will stop mentioning COVID right after the election. But now I have a secret weapon. My army will never accept a result that gets turned against me after the true election day. Back when America was great, we always knew the results the same night as the election was held. And none of this namby-pamby stuff about voting by mail. These wusses that don’t want to go down and vote on election day – they are not true Americans. Only my supporters will follow my commands and vote. Who cares if they get sick afterwards? They will have done their duty to me.”  The first can of Diet Coke was drained, and he rang for another.

When his footman appeared with another can, already opened, Donald eyed the man with suspicion. “Why do you have a mask on?” he queried.

“I’m so sorry, sir. I’ll do better from now on.” The embarrassed footman tore off his mask as he backed swiftly out of the room and away from Donald’s presence.

Donald turned his attention back to the television. “I’d better respond to this idiot who keeps saying that the virus is spreading. It’s not. I keep telling them that at my rallies but they keep lying about my efforts. Imagine, saying that I’m not doing my job right. Why, no one has ever worked harder at this job than I have. Not a minute goes by that I’m not hard at work telling my people about how good a job I’ve done for them.”

He takes a swallow of Diet Coke, feeling the aspartame burn, then forces himself to stand up and amble towards the bathroom. The familiar heft of his phone in one hand, he squats down on his own personal throne, and prepares to share his wisdom with his followers.

“Your favorite President wants you to no that we will never acept an election where the result is not released on Election Day!!!! Anything else will just be inviting the Fake News to play with the results…..”

“….. and the Dumbocrats who run the cities will keep on counting votes until they win.  We can’t allow that!!!!  I need all of you to stand by for next week!!!!”

“Where are the indictments? The Biden Crime Family is GUILTY!!!! Let’s see some action out of Justice.”

“The Noble prize was RIGGED!!!!  We keep bringing peace to the mid-east. Meanwhile they award the prize to some part of the totally corrupt UN.”

Finally the remnants of the hamburger from two nights ago were deposited in the throne receptacle. Donald pressed the button, feeling the warm stream of water cleanse his lower regions. So much better to have that. It was really getting difficult to reach down there and clean it himself, and he hated to have to call for help.

He pulled on his suit jacket, and strode towards the elevator, ready to take on his busy, busy day. It was only 11:15. If those people just knew how hard he worked for them.

Let’s Subsidize Work Instead of Shareholders

Substation transformer

Looking back, there is no surprise that the result of the tax reductions passed by Republican votes in 2017 failed to rejuvenate the economy. The stated belief was that businesses would use the windfall from reduced taxation to invest in their employees, through higher wages, or invest in productive assets and expand their production base. Surprise! They didn’t. Businesses found that their analysis of the best use of the windfall was to increase stock buybacks and increase stock dividends. The main reason? There is just not justification for investing in new productivity within a mature market like the US.

Production facilities were not relocated from low wage countries, since the cost of labor greatly exceeds the benefits from lower taxation. Therefore it does not make economic sense to relocate low-value manufacturing back to the US for strictly economic criteria. It is only due to events like the supply chain interruptions from the pandemic (and to a lesser extent trade and tariff wars) that created a new incentive for bringing low value manufacturing back to the US.

What is needed is to create new incentive to build businesses that address needs within the US that are additive to the existing consumer base, rather than attempting to relocate existing production to meet stagnant demand. The best place where new demand could be created is in the energy markets and the infrastructure of the electrical grid. Somehow we must make it worthwhile to cause a market shift to use of renewable energy on a smaller scale than through citing of huge power plants, which result in inefficiencies through thermodynamic factors and through distribution from the grid. We already know that large power plants and the necessary facilities to distribute the energy are vulnerable to external shocks. A single large coronal mass ejection event from the sun could result in system wide outages for months at a time until new transformers are built and installed. Similarly, with the destabilization of international relations, use of electromagnetic pulse weaponry could cause equivalent destruction. Either way, our civilization is vulnerable to external forces that would bring us immediately back to the pre-industrial age, leading to immense loss of life.

So it makes it very clear that we need to create enough incentive to enable the decentralization of our electrical system. By doing that, we would improve our own future by reducing the potential for severe disruption. We would also create literally millions of jobs by creating a market for home energy system improvements that would use local labor to install and maintain. And our large scale manufacturing would also benefit by creating the solar panels and battery storage devices that the new grid would use.

Several years ago, we in West Virginia suffered through the aftereffects of a derecho that stopped electrical service across our region for multiple days. Living through that encouraged us to purchase a whole-house electrical generation system, powered through natural gas. Those systems have a weekly 5-minute system test where the generator runs. In my immediate neighborhood in West Virginia, I can hear three generators (including ours) conducting their tests over the course of the week. Good for us. We are assured that we cannot lose electrical power for an extended time. Or are we? Since we would all tap into the natural gas system, would it have enough capacity to handle all of us (and the others up and down the line) who have generators to handle peak demand? There is no way for us to know that except to run the full-scale test and suffer through an extended power outage. Surely this back-up generator expansion is not a scalable solution for metropolitan areas, since I am aware of no studies indicating how much gas would be available if it was being used extensively to replace standard electrical service.

Electrical service is the best example of an area where new means of producing and distributing a commodity (electrons) could be reworked to create new opportunities for investment and entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, other areas of our infrastructure are not as amenable to creating new incentives for reworking and repair. Other utilities such as water and gas are already regulated, and new fees for upgrading service are scrutinized and rarely approved by regulatory agencies. Face it, to replace water or gas lines involves huge investments, and the incentive to do that is not worthwhile for the private market to seek this as an area for investment. But it is crucially needed. Therefore if we are looking for places for government to stimulate the economy, it makes much more sense to provide subsidies for additional productive work rather than to provide tax reductions that only benefit shareholders. And I’m speaking as one who is fortunate enough to receive dividend income through my owned equities, so I am a beneficiary of the current system.

If anything has become evident during this year of pandemicmonium, it is that maintaining the ability of the consumer to keep stimulating the economy through spending is vital. If we suddenly turn off the spigots, then the result is longer term shrinkage of the economy, and a further increase in income inequality. So the types of changes I am proposing are not appropriate for this stage in the pandemic. But coming out of this mess, it is vital that we begin to plan to actually improve the state of our nation and its infrastructure, rather than accept what we had as being adequate. We now have a wealth of data to show that we’ve lived with inadequate systems, merely because it would have gored someone’s ox to fix the problems.

Tick-Tock

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The tick withdraws his mouth from the host, where he has been siphoning life blood. As his head disengages, dollars drip from his extended drill bit serving as a mouth. The tick moves on, slowly waddling down a slightly sloped ramp, until he comes to his next victim. There he engages with that next victim, another seeker of favors, and snuggles down to begin the extraction process.

The victims keep coming, willingly, as long as the favors they can procure keep coming as well. It is worth a bit of their lifeblood to enable them to carve out larger cavities in the body of the US government as their favors are translated into new contracts or new rulings in their interest. Sometimes the result of the parasitic infection is a purulent discharge coming from the body of the government, as the host rejects the outlandish demands of its parasitic free rider. But often, the burrowing of the new parasite is hidden, out of sight from those who try to decipher the acts of the government we all pay for. All of us, that is, except for the tick in chief, who pays nothing for his benefits, yet keeps feasting upon those who would request just one favor, just one contract, or just one tweet.

The tick in chief leads his progeny in learning just how to drill into a willing victim. By siphoning off a portion of the victim’s life blood, the family of the tick in chief can keep its engorged status intact. The rest of the world looks on in horror as the images of the tick in chief permeate the airwaves. No more can they revere the country the tick has invaded. Instead, they ridicule it, though the tick in chief keeps insisting that they are laughing with him, not laughing at him.

The tick in chief believes that only through displays of brute force can the rest of the population be brought into submission. Amazingly, there are many who believe that having a parasite at the top of government is just fine, they’d all like to be there sucking the lifeblood if they were ever given a chance, and the more that the parasite can do to weaken its host, the better off they will be.

The tweezers of government have proven to be ineffective at removing the tick from its host body. Though quite credible allegations were provided on multiple occasions, the tick in chief got the report on the allegations quashed by those whom the tick had appointed. And of course, his enablers glommed onto the statements about the allegations being quashed, and they never examined the findings of fact in the original reports. Thus the enablers feel gleeful as they announce complete vindication. In fact, the tick in chief truly believes he has done a good job for his host.

Unfortunately for the tick in chief, a new validation is coming soon. The host has a chance to throw off the parasite that has dominated it for nearly four years. It remains to be seen whether the tick and its many other enabled parasites have infected the host body with an illness that survives beyond the lifespan of the tick in chief. A nation infected with spotted fever or lyme disease would be preferable to one that is infected with the ongoing illness of lack of trust and belief in illogical and silly conspiracy theories. But first, we have to throw off the shackles of the tick in chief. Sometime in early November, we will see if the head of the tick in chief has been extricated from the body of the government. May it be so.

Requiem Bob Gibson

Photo from Associated Press

I came into the world on the day of The Catch. That event, now viewed in grainy black and white, where Willie Mays raced towards the fence to improbably catch the liner that seemed destined to create victory for the Indians. I remember rooting for the Yankees, because I thought they had Yogi Bear playing for them. The images of Dizzy and Pee Wee broadcasting the game of the week, interspersed with advertisements for the Ole Pro and Falstaff beer, remain embedded in my memory.

Thus it is not surprising that in the 1964 season, my allegiances switched from the Yankees to the Cardinals. St. Louis was the team I could follow on an AM radio, switching from the St. Joseph MO station in the daytime, to KMOX in St. Louis when daylight faded. Those were the days when Harry Caray and Jack Buck formed the Cardinals broadcast team, and their prose flavored my formative years. Of all of the Cardinals during those teams of the sixties, the one who stood the highest was Bob Gibson. To receive word of his passing this past week meant that my own mortality was just brought a little bit closer.

How many individuals in any sport were so dominant that they caused the rules of the game to change? Though he was not the only pitcher who shone brightly in 1968, it was his complete dominance that caused the pitching mound to be lowered from 15″ to 10″ in height in 1969. In fact, it was not surprising that he won 22 games in 1968. It was surprising that he lost 9 games that same year. Gibby was undoubtedly the best pitcher in the game, even with McLain winning 30 games that year in the other league.

How fortunate I was in those days. Even though baseball on TV was limited to only Saturday afternoon games, I saw matchups like Koufax and Marichal, Seaver and Gibson, Drysdale and Ferguson Jenkins. Even now I can remember the high leg kick of Marichal and his bewildering variety of pitches. Maybe it is a case of less being more, since back in those days, not having the cable channels feed me a baseball buffet, made me value the games I saw more highly. Now, you look back to the complete game statistics, and number of pitches thrown, and you compare it to the 100 pitch limits seemingly enforced upon all but the very best pitchers of today, and you marvel that those old-timers were able to withstand the rigors of the season without debilitating arm disorders.

But there was little doubt that the fiercest competitor among pitchers was Gibson. You need only look back to July 15, 1967, when Gibson’s leg had a collision with a liner hit by Roberto Clemente (a fierce competitor in his own right). Gibson pitched for 3 more batters, then collapsed. It was discovered that the liner had fractured his fibula. Ironically, the injury only kept him out for a couple of months, and by the time of the World Series in October, he won 3 complete game victories.

When you’ve been a baseball fan for as long as I have, there are many memories that sustain you. I’ve seen the battles between Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the 70’s, the advent of the Big Red Machine in the 70’s, the unbelievable pitching dominance of Atlanta in the late 80’s and 90’s (but only winning one championship among all of that pitching brilliance). Since I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, when the Royals emerged, I became a fan of the grit of George Brett, and the determination of 5’5″ Freddie Patek. I’ve become a fan of the Pirates over the years, even through their 20 year drought of losing teams. But the memories of the Cardinals of the 60’s, and of listening to their games on my transistor radio (remember when they told you how may transistors the radio held?), are still fresh in my memory.

Seeing pictures of those World Series in the 60’s was like visiting a foreign era. All the images were of the daytime, since the World Series was not contaminated by the need for every bit of television revenue. Seeing the mainly male crowd, almost exclusively in white dress shirts and ties, reminds me that it was not so long ago that a different ethos and culture existed then vs. now. But recalling the almost superhuman feats of Bob Gibson, brought back to me the purity of a different age.

I know now that under the surface, the image of baseball would begin to crack. In fact, it was a Cardinal – Curt Flood, who literally opened the floodgates and challenged the legal structure that bound players to teams. Thus came the age of free agency, and the loss of team loyalty, so that today you celebrate the careers of players who spend their entire playing time with a single team. With the need to pay for free agents, came the need to switch to night baseball for the Series, thus forever changing the ability of the kids to follow the events of the Series breathlessly. Even worse, the designated hitter surfaced as an attempt to appeal to the casual fan by increasing offensive stats.

Still, those of us who remember the joys of watching 1-0 games with complete games thrown by both winning and losing pitchers, were brought up short with the death of Bob Gibson.

Yesterday

In the past week, events ran at such a pace that a poor blogger was not able to keep up. I initially wrote this piece a week ago, after the “debate”, and the story about taxes from the NYT, when I believed that just maybe, a sense of reflection would have come across this President. Then came the news of the positive result for COVID, and the subsequent hospitalization. While tempting, I will not resort to cheap expressions that I feel karma has overtaken events. Still, it may be that the President has actually had the chance for reflection over the past few days, so my offering here is provided with that in mind.

My apologies to the Beatles.

Yesterday all my troubles seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay.
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

Suddenly, I’m not half the man I used to be.
There’s a shadow hanging over me.
Oh, yesterday came suddenly.

Why they had to blow,

My cover, they wouldn’t say

I did all things wrong

Now I long for yesterday

Yesterday fraud was such an easy game to play

Now I need a place to hide away

Oh I believe in Putin’s sway

Why I thought they’d know?

I’m the best, we’d be ok.

I did all things wrong

Now I long for yesterday.

Yesterday, all my dreams were part of daily play

Now I’ll need a brand new place to stay

No more TV from Fox today

Mm mm mm, mm mmm mmm mm.

Slimey to the Qth Power

I sat down on the ledge near the metro station just a couple of blocks away from Ben’s Chili Bowl. I was deep into the pleasure of a spicy half-smoke when I noticed someone (or something) plopping down beside me. Once more, my old friend Slimey appeared out of nowhere. For a 7′ tall reptile, he was able to move unbelievably silently and without drawing the attention you normally would expect from someone of his size.

“Greetings, friend” he hissed through his snout.

“Slimey, it has been far too long. What have you been doing with yourself?”  The last time I had seen Slimey, he had taken a position with a lobbying firm where he was trying to promote a fully-automated abattoir, aimed at eliminating the human interaction with the meat supply. I marveled to myself at how prescient that proposal was in light of the coronavirus outbreaks at meat packing facilities.  I asked Slimey, “Are you still with your lobbying firm?”

Slimey slowly shook his ponderous head. “No, I was unable to sell the idea about an automated slaughterhouse to the agencies. Imagine. The deep state actually thought humans were needed.”  He closed his eyes for a moment. “But in my new position, this idea has become really valuable”.

I took a bite of my half-smoke, then asked.  “What is your new position?”

Slimey’s face assumed an air of supreme satisfaction. “I’m working for Q now. I’m in charge of their next big assault into the public sphere.”

I shuddered. Q-Anon had grown in popularity by leaps and bounds, especially during the pandemic when so many folks had far too much time and far too good access to the internet where they could descend into innumerable rabbit holes. Finally, I could avoid the question no further and I asked, “What is the new Q theory?”

Slimey smacked his mouth a couple of times, then began. “There’s a new thing that Q will be reporting on. That thing with abducting the children and the elite distilling their blood to come up with their youth elixir? It just wasn’t revolting enough to draw in enough people. But this one, this one is a doozy.”  Slimey settled back onto the ledge, one enormous paw holding up his prodigious girth.

As often happened in my encounters with Slimey, I became aware of how vulnerable I was to a sudden swipe of his razor-sharp claws. Still, I summoned the courage to not be a species-intolerant person and continued the conversation. “What could you imagine that is worse than child abduction and harvesting?”

Slimey chuckled for a good half-minute before replying. Finally, he said “Imagine this. Instead of children being abducted, it is those who are wearing MAGA hats that are swept off of the streets. Once they disappeared, they are transported to one of my automated slaughterhouses, where they are stripped down to the bone. The meat? It goes to make certain sausage products.” He nodded towards the remains of my own half-smoke.  “I’m not gonna say one way or another, but you may be surprised by where we will claim this meat is going.”

I took one more look at my half-smoke, shuddered a bit, then laid it down on the ledge between us. I had to satisfy my curiosity, though. “Why do this? Why go onto such ridiculous extremes in order to keep the Q thing going?”

Slimey was glad to fill me in. “Of course, it’s the money. Do you know how much we are raking in with the social media posts? And then there’s the merchandise. Those Q posters and foam Q’s are just money plants, plants we keep on harvesting. None of this has to be true, it just has to be plausible enough to keep the clicks coming.”

For the first time in my encounters with Slimey, I found my anger and revulsion rising. “Do you mean to tell me that this entire Q thing is nothing more than an effort to make those at the top rich?”

“Why certainly. What else would it be? You don’t think any of us believe any of this crap, do you?” Slimey looked offended, tensed his limbs, and once again I took stock of the vulnerability of my position.

“I had hoped that was the case. I can’t believe that anyone with a lick of rationality would believe any of the stuff being posted in Q’s name, but after the events of the last few years, I have come to doubt my own sense of right and wrong.” 

Slimey looked satisfied with my answer. He seemed to relax back into leaning against the concrete ledge. He said, “It’s only been a few years since I moved out of the swamp, but it is amazing how much of a swamp I still find around me.

All I could do was nod in agreement.

He looked over at the remains of my half-smoke. “Are you going to eat that?” he asked.

“No. It’s yours if you want it.”

The remains of the half smoke were inhaled in that enormous snout with the reptilian teeth, paper wrapper and all.

The last episode with Slimey may be found here: evenabrokenclock.blog/2019/04/08/if-you-cant-beat-the-swamp-join-the-swamp/

You’ve Been Had (Part 3)

Treason drips off of the twitter fangs that inject his venom into the body politic of the nation. Hoax is bandied about as an explanation for anything unpleasant but true. The hypocrisy is blatantly displayed as word is disclosed about his real thoughts for those who serve and sacrifice for our country. Still, all of this matters not a whit to those who have drunk deeply of the Trump cult Kool-Ade.  They will still hold fast to their selection of someone who has shown himself to be totally incompetent at his job, as well as being so lazy he doesn’t even feign an effort at doing said job. All the while, his own words extol his own praise and discredits any attempt at criticism.

For nearly four years, we have been held hostage by the vagaries of this hulking wanna-be alpha male. All he’s learned over the years is how to bully others. That he has been successful at passing that off as leadership is beyond comprehension. Still, this year showed the logical conclusion of the folly this nation undertook when we elected a totally unqualified candidate whose sole skill was self-promotion. That self-promotion led many to believe the man was a master businessman. But, as has been said, anyone who can go bankrupt running a casino is not a paragon of business excellence. Over the decades, the failures of the Trump business plans have been strewn across the landscape.

Trump steaks, launched in 2007, discontinued in 2007. Product sold for all of 2 months.

Trump shuttle. Purchased from Eastern Airlines in 1989 for $365 million. Sold in 1991 to USAirways for about $100-110 million of Trump indebtedness.

Trump Taj Mahal – built in 1990 for $1.2 billion. Parent company Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for bankruptcy 4 times, in 1991, 2004, 2009, and 2014. All investment in this fiasco was lost.

Trump-branded buildings – due to the toxic nature of the Trump name, the affiliation with Trump has been removed from multiple buildings across the globe during the past few years. Examples include properties in Panama City, New York, and Toronto.

Trump vs. NFL – leading the New Jersey Generals, a team in the USFL, he convinced his fellow owners to go from a spring schedule, into a head-to-head battle with the NFL on a fall schedule. At the same time, the USFL engaged in an anti-trust lawsuit against the NFL, which the USFL won. Damages awarded? $1, although that was tripled under anti-trust law. The USFL folded shortly afterwards.  Now Donald did receive something of value out of this. Herschel Walker, the football star of the New Jersey Generals, spoke favorably of Donald at the 2020 Republican convention as one of his token Blacks.

Trump University – this bastardized version of a real estate / wealth management seminar provider began operations in 2005. It closed down in 2011, and subsequently was required to refund millions of dollars to its defrauded “students” who went through the seminars but obtained no useful information or skills.

The fantasy that Donald Trump spun was that of a maverick businessman who would bring fiscal discipline and a business sense to the nation’s government. Well, he was very prophetic about that – he has brought just as much business success to the nation’s balance sheet as he has brought to the properties and enterprises he owned and operated over the years. But then came the TV show, and he found the vehicle to reinvent himself. If you present yourself as a wealthy decisive businessman who could use his Midas touch to enrich anyone he came into contact with, then you could brush aside the reality of past failures. And as this nation became more and more disconnected from reality by insisting upon binging on reality TV, enough people believed to form the core of his followers.

It is not enough to decry the utter failure of this administration in dealing with its multiple crises. It instead is time to take stock of the totality of this charlatan’s work history, and pronounce the verdict on this nation upon selecting and being subjected to the governance of this gamma male.

You’ve Been Had.

This is unfortunately the third in a series of posts about Donald Trump’s administration I’ve written during his term in office. To see the other posts, see https://evenabrokenclock.blog/2017/11/20/youve-been-had/ and    https://evenabrokenclock.blog/2018/11/16/weve-been-had/.