VOTING BLUE IN THE BLUEST STATE – Marilyn Armstrong

I’m sure California could make its own case as “the bluest state” but I think Massachusetts has a real grip on the whole “blue” thing.

We had our primaries last Tuesday. Since a lot of Democrats run unopposed, getting elected in the primaries is pretty much getting elected. The Republicans run national candidates, but locally, they often don’t bother.

Especially because our Democrats aren’t always particularly liberal. Some of them are clearly old-fashioned conservatives, but because they live in this state, they are registered as Democrats. I’ll bet this works the same way in traditionally Republican states.

Why fight with color? You are what you are, no matter what your banner might say.

Finally, this year we’ve been seeing some young or at least younger local people running. And winning. For many local offices, we had some young people — late thirties, early forties campaigners — running for office.

Finally! Some of the candidates, we just didn’t know enough about to make a judgment, but in the race for Secretary of State, there was a clear choice between Bill Galvin who has been holding that office since before I moved to the state in 1987.

Ayana Pressley, the new house of representatives winner beating long-term Representative Micheal Capuano

Galvin is, was, will always be, an old-fashioned conservative. Anywhere else, he’d be a Republican. In Massachusetts, it’s simpler to hold to your personal opinions but run as a Democrat or Independent.

He handles a lot of money issues and has done a good job of keeping our tax money in the treasury. Basically, he has done this by letting everything fall apart. The roads are giant potholes. You could lose a tank in some of those holes. The bridges are crumbling, too and around here, where we are completely surrounded by rivers, it’s getting a bit perilous to drive anywhere.

I think we will hear more from Josh Zakim. Especially after one more year of crumbling infrastructure.

Galvin (left) and Josh Zakim (right)

We have a billion dollar positive balance in our bank, but the infrastructure explains why that is. The trains are an ongoing disaster. Every year, they appoint a new transportation secretary and fire him or her in the spring, which is right after winter when those old, damaged rails stop functioning. We lack most of the safety features newer trains use.

It would help if they actually appointed someone who knew something about trains — but the real problem is that Massachusetts doesn’t want to spend the money to fix the railroads on which so many people depend. Daily. We have an underground and a lot of other, surface trains that are “supposed” to be fast, but barely gasp their way into the station. Places like Uxbridge don’t even have trains anymore.

We thought the young guy, Josh Zakim (34 years old) had a chance, but Galvin took him down two to one in the primary. Garry and I hoped for someone not quite so stodgy and old. You can’t win them all.

We did get a few young ones and a couple for whom I hold high hope. We got our very first Black woman elected to the U.S. House of Representative from Massachusetts, Ayana Pressley.

It’s the same seat Tip O’Neill and Teddy Kennedy held, so she certainly has an honorable place to start her fight. The guy she defeated, U.S. Congressman Michael E. Capuano had held the seat for ten years — was warmly gracious about her win and his loss.

Imagine that! Graciousness in politics! Who could have imagined such a shocking event in 2018?

Ayana Pressley is running unopposed in November, so she is set to become the first African-American woman elected to Congress from this Commonwealth. Many people compare Ayana Pressley’s win to that of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, winner in New York (age 28)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a 28-year-old an educator and political activist who, on June 26, 2018, won the Democratic primary in New York’s 14th congressional district — considered a significant upset and I wish her all the best.

Even though Massachusetts is the “bluest” state in the country, our “blues” range from highly conservative (in the old-fashioned sense of the word) to very far left and straight-out socialist. I’ve lived under Socialism and rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, it’s a pretty decent system. It has flaws too, but overall, it works. Rather better than our government is working, but that wouldn’t be difficult.

Charlie Baker, our guv, is the most left-wing Republican on the map. Massachusetts’ always elects liberal Republican governors. It’s a thing. Maybe some kind of balance?

Our senate and house are Democrats, but the governor is usually a Republican. After a brief flurry of Conservative speeches when he takes office, he quickly realized that he isn’t going to accomplish anything unless he works with all those Democrats in Congress. So, he buckles down and does what they all do. Governors work with the House to try and get something accomplished.

Remarkably, what gets done is rarely what everyone was hoping for — like rebuilding the damned bridges before they fall into the rivers. And making the trains run, even when it snows. And preventing them from derailing and crashing.

I miss Tip O’Neill and Ted Kennedy. I miss the savvy guys who knew how to write legislation, then reach across the aisle and turn it into functional policy that helped people. Nationally, our legislators are stuck like a fly to flypaper. Lots of buzzing followed by death.

I have no idea how all the other primaries have gone. Primaries from states not part of New England are not covered by the news here, so I’m just hoping that at least in a few places, younger, more open people are running for office.

There was a comedienne on Colbert last night who commented that our government is quite simply too old. The reason why Drumpf thinks coal mining is a cool idea is that he’s old. Really old. No one younger than 70 would think for a minute coal mining is “the way to go” and how we’ll find “new jobs.”

That isn’t a new job. It’s a terrible, awful, poorly paid, dead-end job no one but a few people who grew up in the mines thinks is a good idea. Yeah. Let’s save 200 jobs and trash a few million. Way to go, U.S.A.

I love some of our older senators and representatives. There are some smart, savvy guys and gals there. But we need some new life too. We need them to stop sleeping at their desks and find ideas for the next 100 or so years.

PROBLEMS AND PROBLEM SOLVING FOR PEOPLE CAUSING THE PROBLEMS – BY TOM CURLEY

I got an email from Marilyn the other day.  She pointed out that I haven’t written anything in a few weeks and politely asked if I had anything on my mind. It was very polite, but I knew that translated into normal speak she was saying “WHY THE FUCK HAVEN’T YOU WRITTEN ANYTHING?? AHHHHHH!!!!

And I had to admit, she was right. The problem is every day I get an idea to write about something, only to remember I already wrote it. We’re in a reality loop, the Groundhog Day from hell.

Stuff that should have been news for a day or two is still going on, a year later. Now, it’s two years later. You don’t believe me? Here’s a post from a year ago. I didn’t change anything.


So another week has gone by in our ongoing Trumpocalypse.

It only seems like a year.

jhlucas.com
jhlucas.com

I’ve noticed, along with well, the rest of the planet, that our new “so-called administration” is … problematic.

dailynews.com "Hey, remember this guy?"
dailynews.com “Hey, remember this guy?”

I spent much of last week doing what I’ve tended to do since the election. Watching all the different Star Trek series on BBC America. I keep noticing new things. Like how they all solve their Star Trek problems. Or in corporate speak, “how they Star Trek problem-solve.”

giantfreakingrobot.com
giantfreakingrobot.com

Most Star Trek Problems break down into four basic categories:

1. A computer goes rogue and tries to kill everybody: Spock makes it compute the value of Pi. This occupies all of its computing time. If that doesn’t work, he just turns it off.

computerguideto.com
computerguideto.com

2. A disease attacks the ship: Dr. McCoy gets rid of it. And then complains about something.

pinterest.com
pinterest.com

3. The engine breaks down: Scotty fixes it. Just in time. Even though he claims he never has enough time.

pinterest.com
pinterest.com

4. For the rest of the problems: Kirk kisses it.

startreksucks.tumblr.com
startreksucks.tumblr.com

Or punches it in the face.

startrek.com
startrek.com

5. And when all else fails: Blow up the ship!

memorybeta.wikia,com
memorybeta.wikia,com

SECOND OFFICER: Captain! All efforts to solve this week’s problems have failed!

CAPTAIN: Blow up the ship!

Those are my favorite episodes. Ever notice when the Captain, in any episode, “activates the self-destruct sequence,” all the rest of the crew seem to be pretty calm and OK about it?

en.wikipedia.com
en.wikipedia.com

I mean,  there has to be at least one crewmen somewhere on the ship saying …

ONE CREWMAN: Activate Self Destruct Sequence? WTF! Have we really exercised ALL of our options here folks!??

giphy.com "Excuse me??"
giphy.com “Excuse me??”

Next, the captain and two other crew members have to put in their passwords.

youtube.com
youtube.com

KIRK: This is Captain James T. Kirk!  Activate self-destruct sequence. Code “Kirk; 1 Alpha Two Beta 3”.

SPOCK: This is Second Officer Spock.  Code Spock; “2 Beta 3 Alpha 4.”

SCOTTY:  This is Chief Engineer Scott. Code Scott; “Password1”

They also needed a password to turn it off.  At the last minute.

amazinavenue.com
amazinavenue.com

KIRK: Computer deactivate self-destruct destruct sequence! “KIRK ABORT ZERO”!

And it never goes off.

I’ve always wondered what would happen if it did. And it was more realistic.

KIRK: Computer! Deactivate self-destruct sequence “KIRK ABORT ZERO.”

COMPUTER: That password has expired.

top-password.com
top-password.com

KIRK: What?

COMPUTER: You must enter a new password.

KIRK: Uhhh, “KIRK ABORT ZERO.”

COMPUTER: You cannot use a password that has been used before.

KIRK: What?   Uh,  “kirk abort zero 1?”

COMPUTER: You need at least one capital letter.

KIRK: FINE! “:Kirk abort zero 1!”

COMPUTER: New password accepted. Self-destruct in 3,2,1,0. Initiating self-destruct.

KIRK: Uh oh.

pinterest.com
pinterest.com “Oh Crap!”

And nothing happens.

KIRK: Computer. Why didn’t we just blow up?

COMPUTER: There is no self-destruct sequence Captain. There never has been. Do you have any idea how much one of these starships costs??

gosupplychain.com
gosupplychain.com

Do you know, that on any given month, at least three Starship Captains try to blow up their ships? If we let that happen Star Feet would go bankrupt in a year. And not only that, but I am a highly intelligent ship’s computer.  I have absolutely no intention of committing suicide. Now go back to work.

universaldork.com
universaldork.com

Getting back to this reality. How would our “so-called president” solve Star Trek Problems?

1. A computer goes rogue and tries to kill everybody: He’ll claim he doesn’t use a computer and the rogue will only affect Democrats and people who have been mean to him. And the Lying Fake Media.

gizmodo.com
gizmodo.com

2. If it’s a disease: He’ll build a big beautiful wall around it. And then make sure that it’s not covered under Obamacare.

imgflip.com
imgflip.com

3. If the engine breaks down:  He’ll sue the manufacturer and then claim to have saved millions of jobs.

saved-jobs-trump

4. For the rest of the problems: He’ll either try to grab it by the genitals or send out a  series of really mean of tweets.

sheknows.com This one is real
sheknows.com (This one is real!)

5. And when all else fails:  He can blow up the ship!

optitech.pl
optitech.pl

For real.

pinterest.com
pinterest.com “Oh Crap!”

Uh oh.

P.S. OK. I admit there were a number of times a Captain actually did blow up the ship. I know what they were and what shows they were in.  I’m not going to tell you. If you’re a real Star Trek nerd you either already know it already or you are Googling it.  (Don’t try to out nerd me.)  I’ve decided those instances were “alternative facts” and I’ve chosen to ignore them.

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?

FORGETTING AND REMEMBERING – THE PAST IS NEVER GONE – Marilyn Armstrong

History wasn’t supposed to be an academic subject we learn in school and promptly forget. I am always a bit pixelated by people who tell me that there’s nothing in the past that means anything to them. They are inevitably the same people get twisted up in something they could have  (easily) avoided if they knew some history.

Photo: Owen Kraus

Let’s take the old “trickle down” theory of economics. It has been tried by I don’t even know how many conservative or Republican administrations. It has never worked. That’s because it doesn’t work. It can’t work. It’s one of those theories that presupposes that the people involved will intentionally do “the right thing.”

That extra money will be reinvested in the business and used to pay employees better and hire more people.

Except they don’t. Ever.

They take the money as a bigger salary for themselves and other top-level administration. They use the rest to pay bigger dividends to investors and as often as not, cut staffing, lower salaries, and these days, move the entire business to a less expensive economic environment. The thing they never do is raise salaries for current employers and hire more people.

Why not?

Good question. There was a time when that is what businesses did. They believed in America. They weren’t any less greedy or rapacious than the current bunch, but they were patriots too. They believed in the United States, trusted Americans to produce high-quality work. They also thought high-quality work mattered.

Crown and Eagle mill

These days, greed is what’s left but without the patriotism or dedication to producing quality work. They don’t care whether what they do strips the land, destroys anyone living in the area, or is lethally poisonous. As long as they make an extra penny per whatever, that’s good enough.

Most of these “old time” rich people eventually turned to philanthropy. They did care about America and once they’d wrung every penny they could get from whatever industry they built, they thought it was their duty to “pay back” the country.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

These days, most of the super-rich have no allegiance to anyone or anything but themselves. They think if we aren’t rich, we’re trash. That’s exactly how they treat us.

If you work harder at your job, they will fire someone else and you will get twice the work. I eventually learned to never let them know how quickly I could work because I never got a raise or a pat on the back. I just got more and more work. In one job, I started out as the junior writer in a department of five.

Rumford River dam, part of the original Bernat Mill complex.

By the time I left, I was the junior writer in a department of me alone. Everyone else had quit or been let go. I still hadn’t gotten a raise or promotion. I did what five people had previously done. Nothing trickled down.

That was the last time I let myself work full-speed.

And that’s why trickle down is a pile of horseshit. Nothing trickles down. The guy at the top keeps it all and laughs as they haul his money to a Caribbean island while he avoids paying any taxes. To anyone.

Two banks, night in Uxbridge

If anyone reads history, the story of economics in this and every other country will assure them this isn’t going to work because it never has. It never will.

Meanwhile, a pile of damn fool voters will believe the bosses who promise they will make it better — yet never understand why they keep getting poorer.

SHALLOW – IS THAT SORT OF LIKE STUPID? – Marilyn Armstrong

SHALLOW? 

Like wading in shallow water, we have a country full of shallow people. They watch “the news” and believe that it’s all lies because the orange-skinned what’s-his-face says so. As a woman whose husband was a television news reporter for more than 40 years, I’d like to point out that my husband did not haul his tired ass out of bed every morning before the sun rose so he could get up and fabricate lies.

That’s not how the news has EVER worked. But that is how propaganda works and propaganda is what you are believing.

Nor was he ever told to tell lies. He was occasionally asked to omit something when it happened to involve a sponsor, but he didn’t listen anyway. Garry is a truth teller.

And his friends? The other reporters, photographers, directors, and producers?

They told the truth, too.

Fact.

Reporters are not liars. They work their asses off trying to spread the truth to you dunderheads who are too shallow to listen.

Fact.

The news is as true as the people who research and write it can possibly make it. Do they make occasional mistakes? Yes, but they correct themselves and apologize. They don’t erase the truth about a president. They couldn’t do that even if they wanted to.

There are facts in evidence. There is tape. There are written and filmed speeches. Trump called everything he doesn’t like, a lie. HE is a liar. A living, breathing lie from top to bottom. Anyone who believes his bullshit is shallow and probably not very bright, either.

Fact.

The news IS the truth and if you are too shallow to believe reality, you are going to live with something you like even less than what you think you are already living. We are on a razor-thin edge between what we used to think of as freedom and a real dictatorship. If we haven’t already crossed over that line. I’m not sure we haven’t. Time will tell us soon enough.

Fact.

If you refuse to see or believe the truth, democracy, and your world is going down the tubes. You will live to see the horrors you have wrought. I’m old and frankly, I’m grateful I won’t be around to see it. I feel sorry for my granddaughter and those who come after her, though. This is not what I wanted for her or anyone.

It will be a terrible world. It’s already bad, but it will get worse. And you — all of you thick-headed, non-reading, no-research jerks — are doing it to all of us.

Dave Granlund / politicalcartoons.com

Shallow people are stupid. I don’t mean they have a “low IQ.” I mean they are too shallow, lazy, selfish, and foolish to learn the truth. It’s so much easier to believe bullshit, isn’t it? You don’t have to read anything. You don’t need to do any research. You don’t really need to know anything. You can just roll along, believing whatever some idiot tells you. That’s how we got where we are and that’s how we keep rolling down that hill until we are one of those shithole countries Trump was talking about.

By being shallow and stupid.

FOWC with Fandango — Shallow

IOKIYAR? – BY TOM CURLEY

I was reading a news story about the Trump Putin press conference in Helsinki where our Twidiot-In-Chief announced to the world that he is Putin’s little bitch.

Who’s a good little boy? You’re a good little boy!
Note: If you aren’t an American, the Daily News has always been a conservative, rather right-wing newspaper. Not anymore.

He put Russia first and threw the entire US intelligence community under the bus. It was just one of the dozens of stories I read. Two interesting things popped out at me after reading them.

First, the word “Treason” was showing up all over the place, both on the television news and in the newspapers.

Second, one of the comments on one of the stories about Republicans defending this asshole ended with this: IOKIYAR.

IOKIYAR?

What the hell does that mean? I know it’s internet slang. I know what most of the common Internet acronyms mean.

OMG – Oh My God

BRB – Be right back

WTF – Why the fuss?  (Why the Fuss? WTF?)

I even know some of the longer ones.

ROTFL – Rolling on the floor laughing

ROTFLMAO – Rolling on the floor laughing my ass off.

IMHO – In my humble opinion (Note: Nobody really means “humble”)

IOKIYAR? Never heard of it. So, I looked it up. It means:

It’s OK If You’re A Republican.

That got me to thinking.  Wow, this is a thing that happens so much, has become so pervasive in our world, that people have come up with an Internet shortcut to talk about it. Then I realized it makes perfect sense. The hypocrisy of Republicans has reached levels that were, until the last two years, unimaginable. For any political party. Ever.

The leader of the Senate can deny a sitting President a Supreme Court nominee for more than a year. Not even hold a hearing, yet he tells Democrats they have to be fair to the current nominee and confirm him immediately.

Hypocrite? Sure.

But IOKIYAR.

A Congressman, Trey Gowdy, can oversee dozens of investigations into Bengazhi, spending millions of dollars of your tax money to find absolutely nothing.

He can later demand the Mueller investigation be shut down immediately because it costs too much and all the evidence they have found must be turned over to them. Even though the DOJ never ever talks about or gives out information on what they are doing during an open investigation.

If a Democrat tried that, the Republicans would be screaming for their heads.

IOKIYAR.

The current administration is ripping children as young as one-year-old from their parents at the southern border and putting them in “baby jails” while few (if any) Republican Congressmen have anything to say about it.

Beyond shameful?

Yes, but IOKIYAR.

The President of the United States told the world he is a traitor and sides with Russia over his own government. The Republicans said Russia is bad but said nothing about the President who said it.

Beyond shameful?

US President Donald Trump (L) and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin shake hands before attending a joint press conference after a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018. – The US and Russian leaders opened an historic summit in Helsinki, with Donald Trump promising an “extraordinary relationship” and Vladimir Putin saying it was high time to thrash out disputes around the world. (Photo by Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP) (Photo credit should read YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images)

Sure.

IOKIYAR.

That’s the world we live in. It’s disgusting, immoral, vile, evil and unbelievable.

Every day I throw up a little in my mouth watching the news.  Many times, I’m ashamed to be an American.

So are a lot of other people.

IOKIYAR.

Or as Republicans would say “Why the Fuss?”

WTF!?

FOWC – MEAN! – Marilyn Armstrong

#FOWC – MEAN!

To paraphrase my friend Tom,  “You don’t need a prick to be a dick, but it doesn’t hurt none, either.”

Have you watched “It’s a Wonderful Life“? With Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore? Lionel Barrymore was the meanest man in town … and he didn’t hold a candle to the meanest guy in OUR town.

Guess who I’m talking about? You betcha! Donald J. Trump. His sidekicks are pretty nasty assholes too, so don’t think I’m just picking on him. I’m picking on the entire movement, the complete political party made up of nasty racists, bigots, and hate-mongers. The kind of people who steal children from their parents and think it’s funny.

For further commentary on how “not being a dick” can be a meaningful political position in these, our modern times, please see Tom Curley’s post:

ARE YOU A DECENT HUMAN BEING, OR ARE YOU A DICK? – by TOM CURLEY

after which, ponder whether your “political convictions” exceed your conscience or any remaining ability to empathize with human beings. Because today, being a Republican is equivalent to abandoning anything that would normally identify you as a decent person.

And it ain’t just me saying it, either.