EFFERVESCENT INGREDIENTS – Marilyn Armstrong

I should be peppy and lively. I should be able to find the ingredients to get the laundry done, to go take a few pictures. Something.

I’m too beat up to find anything remotely effervescent in me right now. It has been a grueling few months. Not always in a bad way, but still exhausting and the crazy humid heat has not helped. I also suspect that my tolerance for extremes of weather is diminishing with the years because I’m far less energetic now than I was even a few months ago.

The combination of personal crises, national calamities, climate change, and a general sense that everything I worked for and cared about is being undone in such a short time, my head is spinning. The best part of the summer has been our winning baseball team. You know life has gotten awfully rough when you cling to sports as the only positive thing happening in your world.

I sense that I am not alone in feeling this way, either.

I read a piece on Facebook the other day where some Millennial was pointing out that we — the Boomer Generation — should stop blaming them and start accepting responsibility for handing them such a crappy world.

It suddenly crossed my mind that the world into which I was born was not exactly perfection, either. These kids have no idea how it was to grow up in a world where jobs were listed under Male and Female only … and if you weren’t white, there were no jobs listed at all. To live in a world where the only birth control was “not doing it” or a condom — and you couldn’t even buy a condom if you were under 18.

The voting age was 21, but the drinking age was 18. Great combination, wasn’t it?

The rivers and air were horribly polluted. We invented Earth Day, got the Civil Rights Bill passed. Cleaned up the air. You know the air over New York and Los Angeles used to be orange? Not just at sunset but all the time from the massive amounts of pollution. The river which runs through our Valley was one of the most polluted rivers in North America. We cleaned it up, along with the Hudson, Boston Harbor, and many other places.

We didn’t do all this because the earth was a perfect place, but because we saw how bad it was becoming and fought to fix it. I don’t blame Millennials for feeling they got the short end of some stick, but that stick has been pretty damned short for a really long time. Before I was born and for that matter before my mother was born too.

Garry grew up in a Jim Crow world. I grew up in a world where most of the people “like me” had been butchered or gassed to death. I had friends die of putrid abortions performed with a wire hanger. You really don’t need to tell me that we left you an evil world. It wasn’t wonderful when we got it, either.

Pogo – Walt Kelly – 1971

Welcome to the real world. There’s been more than enough evil in the human world for a very long time. Whoever you are, whatever generation you come from, it’s time you stopped whining about whose fault it is or was. 

It doesn’t matter who caused what. Get your act together, put your shoulder to the wheel, and start pushing to make it a better place. The big bad boomer bunch did that. I’m terribly sorry it has come unglued so quickly and I don’t feel really happy watching all the things I worked for fall apart. It is shocking, horrifying, and deeply depressing.  But on the other hand, I didn’t vote for that asshole.

Regardless, I’m too old to go out and fix it. I would if I could, but me and my generation — we’ve done our part. Our effervescence is gone. The ingredients you need to fix this bad old world are yours now.

Get up and do something. Vote. Run for office. Get a decent education. Learn some history.

It doesn’t matter who made it this way. It has been working on becoming this way for hundreds of years and if you don’t get yourselves moving, it will simply get worse and your children will blame it on you.

Except you know what? If you don’t start to work on making it better, your kids’ worlds will be a whole lot worse than yours.

Are you registered to vote? Will you vote?

FOWC with Fandango — Ingredients
RDP #71: EFFERVESCENT

POLITICAL CARTOONS OF THE WEEK – Marilyn Armstrong

I collect them. Whenever I see a really good one, I save it for the next time I need something funny where humor is hard to find. This week, I haven’t done anything that warrants political cartoons, but these are all so good, I figured — why not?

Have a laugh. Show them to someone and make them laugh, too.

EVERYONE IS A LIAR EXCEPT DONALD TRUMP – Garry Armstrong

“The media always lies,” she said and I cringed.

Then, I got angry. Why do people believe a president who has never told the truth about anything while failing to believe the fact-based truth?

I’m not talking about “ultimate” truth or the meaning of life or faith. I’m talking about things that can be proven with evidence, science. Stuff caught on tape. Printed, heard, overheard, and to which testimony has been given.

I really hate it when I hear that cliché – “The media doesn’t tell the truth. They always lie.”

It demeans all the passion and belief I put into more than 40-years as a working reporter. Moreover, it demeans the careers of so many others who give their lives in pursuit of the truth. Many, literally died in pursuit of the truth.

Photo: USA Today

I am not romanticizing my career. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve gotten it wrong. It happens when you’re covering multiple stories a day, 5 to 7 days a week. With deadlines breathing down your neck.

I always tried to clarify mistakes by accepting my culpability up front and being clear with viewers. There were many days when I hated what I had to do. Usually, it was in pursuit of a truth which would be ugly, demanding, tedious — and require a good deal of soul-searching. The truth isn’t simple, or black and white. Despite what you usually see on television or in movies about reporters, there aren’t many clear “wins.”

The old days

Often, we’re lambasted for telling the truth by the same folks who call us liars. Jack Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth” line should be crayoned on the skulls of those who insist the media always lies. Those critics are the same pilgrims who gobble up the crap proffered by the current White House Tenant who wouldn’t know the truth if it bit him.

Truth is a foreign language to him. I suspect he actually believes the nonsense he spouts. To make a lie “sound true,” you first have to convince yourself it is true. If you do this for enough years, eventually you don’t even remember what the truth used to be.

I fervently wish that the people who belittle media and law enforcement spend some time, real-time — like 24/7 — on the streets. The real streets, not their cozy neighborhood. They might discover that life without the public relations filters is a different place.

They might see our world in three dimensions and begin to look for reality instead of accepting whatever propaganda or other gobbledygook is being dumped in their biased, insulated worlds. Maybe some of them would even consider (gasp) reading something.

Finally, I’m proud of what I did for a living. For 40 plus years, I fought to tell the truth.

It was a privilege.

THE ARRANGEMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Arrangement


This is one of “those words” which means so many things on so many levels it is hard to know exactly where to start.

Most typically, in my world, it is “common parlance” for a couple whose marriage isn’t going well, but who would prefer to avoid a divorce. Often, it is because they are also in business or share other important interests and a divorce would distract the world from whatever else they do.

Rich people have an arrangement. Poor people simply can’t afford the divorce.

I always thought that Bill and Hillary had an arrangement, that they agreed to continue working and living together and the deal was that they remain discreet, not humiliate one another, and keep their eyes on the importance of the work they were doing. I think Bill screwed that up and Hillary never forgave him for that.

I suspect this is the situation with many high-powered political couples. I can’t prove it, but I would be surprised to discover I’m wrong.

An arrangement isn’t inherently a bad thing. Often, the work a couple does together is more important than whether or not one or both of them is entirely faithful to the formal marriage bond. There are also couples who never bought into monogamy, so their marriage was an arrangement from the beginning.

But arrangement means other things. Spying is an arrangement. Treason is an arrangement. Most forms of corruption are an arrangement and often, an extremely complex arrangement involving many people across a vast network. It is why when such an arrangement starts to crumble, it is a shock to see exactly how many people were involved, either at the fat or short end of the deal.

Last night on Colbert (with Jake Tapper as the guest), there was much talk of “why” so many Republicans are still trying to “sell” Trump. Regardless, barring an actual putsch in our government, DJT is OUT by 2024, if he doesn’t die of hardened arteries first.

CNN’s Jake Tapper pointed out presumably these same people intend to have a career after 45 is gone. How do they expect anyone to have any faith in them?

My answer? The money. Follow the money. Trump has been laundering Russian money for a long time and there’s a lot of money involved. He is not the only one who has been “on the take.” Maybe they think if they steal enough money, they can buy faith? They’ve done it before, after all.

I’m willing to bet that many of these other Republicans have gotten their portion of the dirty money. They aren’t protecting Trump. They are trying to protect themselves, too.

I hope we get to hear every last detail of the story.

Washington is a carefully arranged town. How much money have they stolen? How much of it has been used to turn our country into a place I don’t even recognize?

AMIBIGUITY – Marilyn Armstrong

The Ambiguity of Our Times

Ambiguity. That’s when you say “I love you,” but pause afterward and think (out loud) that you used to love other people and you don’t love them anymore, so maybe loving you doesn’t really mean very much.

That’s how I feel about “Our Power President.”

He is making America great. Again. Because our previous greatness wasn’t “his” kind of great.

He has solved all our problems, yet somehow, none of them seem solved. But that’s only because the press lies all the time and refuse to admit all the important fixes he has made in the world.

Trump and Putin

Meanwhile, the kids are still living in baby jails. Kim Jun Un has a lot of rockets and no intention of giving them up. Russia is taking over the United States and our Chief Moron doesn’t seem to notice. We are going to be a new — and really BIG — satellite of Russia. Cool!

Russia is very good at taking over other countries. It’s one of their “things.” At one time, they dominated more than half of Europe and were working on Asia and Africa, until the Chinese beat them to it.

We used to be pretty good at it ourselves, but now, we bow and suck up to Putin.

Dave Granlund / politicalcartoons.com

I’d like to know why this is true. What does Putin have on Trump? It can’t just be something sexually embarrassing. It’s got to be something seriously illegal in an international kind of way. Will we ever know what it is?

Thoughts on the matter?

COVFEFE, KERFUFFLE AND A LEGEND FROM AMERICA’S COLLECTIVE NIGHTMARE – Marilyn Armstrong

The Kerfuffle About Covfefe

First, let me speculate on the old word “covfefe.” Although over the months there has been much speculation about what the originally intended word might have been (if indeed an actual word was intended at all) — “coverage” came up as a possibility. Personally, I’ve always felt “kerfuffle” was the target word.

I believe “covfefe” was supposed to mean “kerfuffle” but Our Leader can’t spell and also has not learned how to use Google to find a missed spelling. So he just throws stuff into Twitter without regard for the language. He has no regard for the constitution, so what’s another English word or three?

Kerfuffle is not easy to spell and since he can’t spell even simple words, he certainly can’t spell that one. It means “a commotion or fuss, especially one caused by conflicting views.” Kind of where the world is at. Truth be known, try writing “kerfuffle” on your phone and watch auto-correct go wacko.

Our leader, Lord Pit-of-Evil, believes he is a legend. 

If he is a legend, it is from a collective nightmare of our nation. For those of us who had nightmares concerning “the state of the state,” this is the guy we were sure we could never have to govern us because we have laws. Rules.

Our constitution has always survived the assholes. I feel obliged to remind everyone that he is not the first or only asshole to make it to the top of our political ladder. There have been others. More than one. If there were social media when Andrew Jackson was president, it would have been pretty much like this. Or worse. He personally slaughtered entire Native tribes. Unabashedly, with vigor and verve. And you don’t even want to know about his personal life.

I have saved this favorite bit of cartooning from the New Yorker for today. It is exactly how I feel.

CORPORATE VERSUS POLITICAL AMERICA – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I read an interesting article about the difference between corporate America and political America. In a nutshell, corporations’ bottom line is with the public. Politicians’ bottom line is with their donors.

Today, ironically, it seems that corporate America is more beholden to and therefore more sensitive to public opinion than politicians are. This makes sense. Corporations deal directly with the public. They function in more of a true democracy than politicians do.

Politicians have a huge and powerful layer of lobbyists, special interests and large donors that shield them from the will of the people. Or at least the vagaries of public opinion.

The result of this is dramatic. For example, Roseanne Barr makes some egregious racist and conspiracy theory tweets. Within 24 hours, her show is canceled by the ABC Network. That was done in response to and in fear of the outcry by an outraged public. The network has to placate their viewers or risk losing them.

On the other hand, Trump has frequently tweeted awful, racist and conspiracy theory comments. Each one worse than the last. Yet there have been no consequences for him. Despite great public outrage. He is protected from the effects of public opinion by his loyal Republican base and his congressional supporters. In turn, the Republican congressmen are bolstered by their large donors, including lobbyists and special interest groups. They don’t have to pay attention to the negative reactions of over 60% of the general public.

So, our political system is, in some ways, less democratic than our corporate system. Starbucks closed their stores across the country to hold a nationwide racial sensitivity training session. This was done in response to public pressure after some racist incidents at a few of their stores. Again, public opinion had a direct and immediate effect on the company’s policies and actions. In contrast, there are layers of buffer between politicians and their constituents. At least between elections.

Elections bring politicians a bit closer to their constituents, at least temporarily. But it’s still not the direct connection that corporations enjoy. You either buy the corporation’s product or shop in their store or you don’t. There is nothing between your checkbook and the company you are buying from. Even at election time, special interest and donor money can shield a politician from his voters. And can have disproportionate influence on the politician.

Take the NRA. The NRA has only five million members. Public opinion is over 80% in favor of reasonable gun control. That’s over 200 million Americans who support gun control legislation. But somehow those meager five million people wield huge sway over a majority of politicians. That’s because the NRA throws an outrageous amount of money at politicians. No matter what a politician’s constituents think or want, the NRA will get the politician’s vote if the price is right.

The Electoral College is another buffer zone between Presidential candidates and the American voter. The popular vote does not determine the president. That would be the pure democracy that corporations have to deal with.

Local politics in certain ‘swing’ states have a disproportionate influence on presidential election results. And the voters in those states have a disproportionate influence on elections. That leaves the rest of the country out in the cold.

Lately, it seems like we’re getting even farther away from the concept of democracy. Now, we have never been a pure democracy. But it seemed that the ‘will of the people’, at some points in our recent history, had more sway. Maybe I’m being idealistic. Maybe public opinion never had a major influence on elections or on politicians once in office.

But I would love to live in a country where public opinion could have a direct effect on our country’s policies. Like Roseanne losing her show within 24 hours – I would love to see meaningful gun control regulations enacted 24 hours after public opinion goes nuts over yet another fatal school mass shooting.

I don’t believe that that will happen anytime soon. But maybe if Democrats can motivate people to vote who usually don’t vote, public opinion might be able to overwhelm the ‘money talks’ bias of the political system. At least I can nurture that dream for the next five months!