IT’S THE 50th ANNIVERSARY OF EARTH DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

Trump is an awful man. I can’t seem to find something positive to say about him and for me, that’s unusual. I can always empathize, even with very bad people (not including one ex-husband). But not Trump. For him, I can’t find a teardrop of compassion. He has no soul or conscience. He is a greedy, empty-headed abuser, liar, and racist.

Ponder the meaning of life, death, and stupidity. Ponder really hard!

Somehow, America made him president. At least a portion of voting Americans had a hand in his election as well as a lot of Russian bots. I would like to believe that not everyone knew what a complete disaster he’d be. We certainly didn’t expect the next plague, but others did. Our president fired the ones who tried to warn him this was coming and for all he knew, was already here. So here we are.

Plague spares no one. Wealth won’t protect you nor religion or politics. Prince Charles is ill but his 93-year-old mother is not. Boris Johnson was moved into the hospital today. My generation who have been dying for a while are now dying faster and more furiously. A lot of younger people are dying too. Plague is about as non-denominational as anything gets.

Many of us (sadly, including me) assumed that should Trump be elected (I had that awful feeling he would be elected), the weight of his office would force him to become a president. This didn’t happen, proving you get exactly what you vote for. It’s like marrying an abusive guy because you’re sure you are the one who will (finally) reform him.

Moral? If you elect a bad guy, making him president won’t improve him.

Previously, people (mostly) changed when they were elected to high office. Trump, on the other hand, is an ignoramus and proud of it, With an election getting close while all of us are locked down, my party — Democrats — haven’t completed their primaries or had a convention. There may not be a live convention. Exactly how we are going to choose a candidate is a bit whimsical.

A few folks wonder what there will be to govern if we won. This is one of the times when winning might not be in our best interests. We are going to be in a hot mess when the virus runs its course, which might take a lot longer than even our worst-case scenario suggests.

We can’t blame the plague entirely on Trump, but we can put a big luminescent sticker on his ghastly ass regarding the amount of damage it’s doing. His unwillingness to cope with the alarming predictions as well as his lack of concern what this outbreak would do to us — Americans — is not merely deplorable. It’s … well … breathtaking.

Pogo – Walt Kelly – 1971

It turns out leadership can only be as good as who we elect. Being a constitutional republic, we don’t have the option of voting out a bad prime minister and exchanging him or her for a nominally better one for any reason short of actual treason. We should have gone the Parliamentary route. If I go back in time, I think I’ll mention that to the “Founding Fathers.” I hate that phrase, by the way. Isn’t there something else we could call them? “Founding Fathers” is so … stiff.

Short of rewriting the constitution,  we are stuck. History will change us. Change the world. I think in 20 years, we won’t have this government. That might not be such a bad thing.

I wish I could live long enough to see how it comes together. I don’t think either me or Garry has enough decades to see how it turns out. My boomer generation won’t experience a lot of change. We are no longer part of the job market, no longer fighting for our standing in the world. Not climbing the greed and success ladder. We are pretty much done with ambition and were looking forward to some ease and relaxation before moving on.

Anyone who is still in the job market will feel the weight of it assuming the planet lets us continue to live on it. This month’s “National Geographic” magazine marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It lays out the optimistic and pessimistic views of the world to come. The pessimistic view is heartstopping. Makes the blood in your veins freeze. Even the optimistic look isn’t great. I got so demoralized, I couldn’t even look at the graphics.

This plague has blocked everything else. A new world awaits us and I hope it’s a better one. If better isn’t possible, functional might do the job.

Boomers didn’t ruin the world. We tried to improve it, but we didn’t get it done. The human race ganged up on the planet and we all ruined it together. We seem dead set to continue ruining it. Someone will need to fight to save it. Probably you guys, the ones who can’t resist a new iPhone at any price. You will have to give up a few things and do many other things differently.

Walt Kelley’s first Earth Day poster

It is hard but it’s your future. We old folks who you so eagerly blame for everything will be dead. Once upon a time, we too looked to our future and did the best we could with it. Our parents didn’t ‘get us’ at all. We look at our world and decided to change it. But for you, our time is done. We will return to the stars and the world will be yours. If you don’t fix it, you, your children, and grandchildren won’t have a livable world.

Activism isn’t easy, but maybe it’s time to detach from the toys. Earth used to be a nice place. It could be again. Good luck!

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe
Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, “The King and I” and “The Catcher in the Rye”
Eisenhower, Vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye
We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, “Rock Around the Clock”
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, “Peyton Place”, trouble in the Suez

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac

Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, “Bridge on the River Kwai”

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide
Buddy Holly, “Ben Hur”, space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go
U2, Syngman Rhee, payola, and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, “Psycho”, Belgians in the Congo

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Hemingway, Eichmann, “Stranger in a Strange Land”

Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion

“Lawrence of Arabia”, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson
Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

“Wheel of Fortune”, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law
Rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it …

Songwriters: Billy Joel
We Didn’t Start the Fire lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

UP IN THE AIR WE GO FLYING AGAIN, BUT WHEN AND WHERE IS DOWN? – Marilyn Armstrong

It is difficult to find a place to land these days. Not long ago, Garry stopped watching the news. Okay, not entirely stopped, but he has about a five-minute window before he begins to get crazy. At which point I suggest changing the channel would be a better choice than throwing things at the television. We can’t afford another TV and right now, we need one.

We’ve been watching (repeatedly) “The West Wing.” First, because Aaron Sorkin wrote (writes) brilliant dialogue, but mostly because on so many levels, it reminds me of what is wrong with MY party, ye old Democrats. How hard, as a political party, we try to make everyone happy. As a result, we end up making no one happy including ourselves.

When in power, how many toothless bills do we pass that never solve the problem they were supposed to solve because we might offend a Republican, a donor, or some Democrat who’s not on the same page? How hard do we try to be good guys, despite which our “middle of the road” path inevitably ends up with us being crushed by a truck or running down pedestrians.

Right now, our world is a hot mess. We didn’t get to this chaotic position in 2016, though for many of us November 2016 was our wakeup month. We had been heading this way for more than 200-year since the day our founders agreed that slavery — for a while — was okay. Even though they knew it was not okay, they also knew it would lead to war. They were grateful they wouldn’t be alive when the nation erupted.

Rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, our Constitution is not a perfect document.

There were and are so many things that need doing, but they never get done. In many cases, some bizarre interpretation of the Constitution is the cause.  Instead of getting money OUT of politics, the Supreme Court managed — by making corporations “people” — to infuse more money into politics.

It’s time to recognize that despite its elegant wording, our constitution needs significant updating. We need to dump the electoral college and become a real democracy.

We need to clarify the meaning of the second amendment which does not mean that anyone can carry a big gun anywhere and if they just happen to get pissed off and start killing people, their having a gun made a big difference in the body count. Guns don’t shoot themselves and people can’t shoot without guns. It’s the combination that’s so lethal. We need to reword the first amendment so we aren’t in a continuous guessing game about what it means. It’s possible we need to rewrite the whole thing in modern English.

We need to punish public bigots. We can’t control what people think but we can control what they spew from their mouths.

Someone should have mentioned that petitions to the government, while not illegal, are ignored completely and accomplish nothing.

We should have a parliamentary government. Even when it is functioning, our government is clumsy and slow. Maybe it’s time to recognize we made a mistake. These days, I feel as if we don’t have a government. Whatever this mess is, it’s not working.

ONCE UPON A TIME, WE HAD A GOVERNMENT – Marilyn Armstrong

For the past couple of weeks, Garry and I have been watching (again) all 7 seasons of “The West Wing.” Aside from being a brilliantly written show, it clarifies where we are as a nation. That we are fighting exactly the same battles today we were battling 10 years ago. They are using the same words on the show we are using now. They are fighting the same “refusnik” Senate we have been fighting. Maybe it’s worse now, but it was not much better then.

As you watch the show, it produces a lot of responses:

  1. Realizing there were actually some good television shows with great dialog.
  2. Recognizing the mistakes Democrats made, mostly by trying to be everything to everybody and never being themselves.
  3. Failing to recognize issues which needed to wait until another day would become life and death issues in less than a decade. For example, all those environmental issues they ignored or avoided because it would anger contributors or Republicans or their own members.
  4. Never really confronting the gun issue or immigration.
  5. Often doing half a job and never completely dealing with major issues.

The show is so well written that you see how and why they fail and why even the successes aren’t really successful, how many bills were essentially toothless.

Middle of the road is not a safe place to drive and this show has a liberal president who is essentially afraid to be the liberal he really is. He’s always trying to placate someone and the results leave you wondering if he really accomplished anything. When you drive in the middle of the road, you are very likely to crash into another car or truck or pedestrian.

The show is so well written you feel as if you are actually participating in a government. Our government. Because whatever is wrong with their televised version of “The West Wing,” it is a government. They try very hard to do the right thing. Even though they often don’t get where they should go, they do the best they can. They work very hard. Win, lose, or partly succeed, it was a government, though I think people on it were a bit more clever and witty than they are in real life.

It’s playing continuously on Netflix. These days, because we have been down the Obama and now the Trump path, we know where those decisions lead and why it wasn’t the right way to go. We watched the whole series during the last few weeks and when we ran out of shows, we decided to watch it again. It fills a gap in our lives. It makes us feel that somewhere in the ether, a better government awaits us.

ON THE UPCOMING 50th ANNIVERSARY OF EARTH DAY – Marilyn Armstrong

Trump is an awful man. I can’t seem to find something positive to say about him and for me, that’s unusual. I can always empathize, even with very bad people (not including one ex-husband). But not Trump. For him, I can’t find a teardrop of compassion. He has no soul or conscience. He is a greedy, empty-headed abuser, liar, and racist.

Somehow, America made him president. At least a portion of voting Americans had a hand in his election as well as a lot of Russian bots. I would like to believe that not everyone knew what a complete disaster he’d be. We certainly didn’t expect the next plague, but others did. Our president fired the ones who tried to warn him this was coming and for all he knew, was already here. So here we are.

Plague spares no one. Wealth won’t protect you nor religion or politics. Prince Charles is ill but his 93-year-old mother is not. Boris Johnson was moved into the hospital today. My generation who have been dying for a while are now dying faster and more furiously. A lot of younger people are dying too. Plague is about as non-denominational as anything gets.

Many of us (sadly, including me) assumed that should Trump be elected (I had that awful feeling he would be elected), the weight of his office would force him to become a president. This didn’t happen, proving you get exactly what you vote for. It’s like marrying an abusive guy because you’re sure you are the one who will (finally) reform him.

Moral? If you elect a bad guy, making him president won’t improve him.

Previously, people (mostly) changed when they were elected to high office. Trump, on the other hand, is an ignoramus and proud of it, With an election getting close while all of us are locked down, my party — Democrats — haven’t completed their primaries or had a convention. There may not be a live convention. Exactly how we are going to choose a candidate is a bit whimsical.

A few folks wonder what there will be to govern if we won. This is one of the times when winning might not be in our best interests. We are going to be in a hot mess when the virus runs its course, which might take a lot longer than even our worst-case scenario suggests.

We can’t blame the plague entirely on Trump, but we can put a big luminescent sticker on his ghastly ass regarding the amount of damage it’s doing. His unwillingness to cope with the alarming predictions as well as his lack of concern what this outbreak would do to us — Americans — is not merely deplorable. It’s … well … breathtaking.

Pogo – Walt Kelly – 1971

It turns out leadership can only be as good as who we elect. Being a constitutional republic, we don’t have the option of voting out a bad prime minister and exchanging him or her for a nominally better one for any reason short of actual treason. We should have gone the Parliamentary route. If I go back in time, I think I’ll mention that to the “Founding Fathers.” I hate that phrase, by the way. Isn’t there something else we could call them? “Founding Fathers” is so … stiff.

Short of rewriting the constitution,  we are stuck. My understanding of history will change us. Change the world. I think in 20 years, we won’t have this same government. All things considered, that might not be such a bad thing.

I wish I could live long enough to see how it comes together. I don’t think either me or Garry has enough decades to see how it turns out. My boomer generation won’t experience a lot of change. We are no longer part of the job market, no longer fighting for our standing in the world. Not climbing the greed and success ladder. We are pretty much done with ambition and were looking forward to some ease and relaxation before moving on.

Anyone who is still in the job market will feel the weight of it assuming the planet lets us continue to live on it. This month’s “National Geographic” magazine marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It lays out the optimistic and pessimistic views of the world to come. The pessimistic view is heartstopping. Makes the blood in your veins freeze. Even the optimistic look isn’t great. I got so demoralized, I couldn’t even look at the graphics.

This plague has blocked everything else. A new world awaits us and I hope it’s a better one. If better isn’t possible, functional might do the job.

Boomers didn’t ruin the world. We tried to improve it, but we didn’t get it done. The human race ganged up on the planet and we all ruined it together. We seem dead set to continue ruining it. Someone will need to fight to save it. Probably you guys, the ones who can’t resist a new iPhone at any price. You will have to give up a few things and do many other things differently.

Walt Kelley’s first Earth Day poster

It is hard but it’s your future. We old folks who you so eagerly blame for everything will be dead. We will return to the stars and the world will be yours. If you don’t fix it, you, your children, and grandchildren won’t have a livable world.

Activism isn’t easy, but maybe it’s time to detach from toys and discover the world. Earth used to be a nice place. It could be again. Good luck.

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio
Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe
Rosenbergs, H-bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, “The King and I” and “The Catcher in the Rye”
Eisenhower, Vaccine, England’s got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye
We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron
Dien Bien Phu falls, “Rock Around the Clock”
Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland
Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Krushchev
Princess Grace, “Peyton Place”, trouble in the Suez

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac

Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, “Bridge on the River Kwai”

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide, children of thalidomide
Buddy Holly, “Ben Hur”, space monkey, Mafia
Hula hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go
U2, Syngman Rhee, payola, and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, “Psycho”, Belgians in the Congo

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Hemingway, Eichmann, “Stranger in a Strange Land”

Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion

“Lawrence of Arabia”, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson
Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollah’s in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

“Wheel of Fortune”, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz
Hypodermics on the shores, China’s under martial law
Rock and roller cola wars, I can’t take it anymore

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
No, we didn’t light it
But we tried to fight it …

Songwriters: Billy Joel
We Didn’t Start the Fire lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

A PLAGUE? REALLY? – Marilyn Armstrong

The world is bizarre, though I think we have now passed any concept I’ve ever had of what bizarre means.

  1. I was afraid if Trump lost, the Secret Service would have to carry him bodily from the White House.
  2. I was afraid the Democrats would have an insane convention and be the laughingstock of the American political world.
  3. I was afraid the electoral college would screw us … again … or it would be a tie and then the Supreme Court would screw us.
  4. I was afraid that somehow someone weird would wind up as the Democratic candidate because we’d have a brokered convention and the outcome would be strange.

I did not anticipate an actual plague. I mean, we say stuff like “a plague on your house,” but I don’t think we mean an actual plague.

Have we time-traveled back to the 14th century? Because Trump sounds about as scientific and modern as most of the nobles of the 14th century. If they had Twitter in 1347, I think Trump’s opinions would have sounded perfectly normal. They sound crazy today, but in the 1300s, he would have made perfect sense.

The view from the Apollo 11 (NASA)

What the hell is normal? I’ve completely lost track of it. I don’t know what a normal life is like or maybe I never knew, but now that everyone is living like I’ve been living, my life seems less normal. Previously, I wasn’t afraid of going places. I didn’t necessarily want to go anywhere, but I wasn’t afraid.I’m not usually fearful. But Owen has pointed out he doesn’t want to lose both parents at the same time.

We think we are going to have an election, but we aren’t sure. We don’t know who the Democratic candidate will be, though we think probably Biden. Who knows?  We should have picked Yang. He may not have seen this whole epidemic thing, but he got the message about keeping our personal economies from collapsing.

We all knew things would get crazier. Since Trump became president, we always think this is as nuts as it could possibly be, that we’ve finally hit the bottom. The next day, something happens and you realize, nope, not the bottom. We keep digging deeper. I’m sure we’ill ultimately come out on the other side of the world, somewhere in Australia. That was my goal when I was 10. I had looked at a globe and I realized that if you stuck a pin in the world in New York, you’d be in Sydney. Or maybe Melbourne.

Funny how childhood fantasies show up in adulthood, warped and twisted yet somehow, following your childhood dreams in the weirdest way.

OUR BAD TIMES DIDN’T START IN 2016 – Marilyn Armstrong

We are having a national moment. We have our worst-ever president and his spineless, corrupt congress. We have an Attorney General who should be up on charges. We’re in the middle of an oncoming election and the Democrats seem more inclined to tear pieces off each other than cultivate voters. Our moment has so far lasted three years — a long, terrible, tormented national “moment” and if we aren’t careful, it could last a lot longer.

I’ve had to go back and look harder at our history. This catastrophe didn’t “sort of show up” in 2016. It gave us a couple of centuries of warning. We knew this calamity was lurking. We’ve been building towards it for our entire history.

American has done great things. We have also done horrendous and unspeakable things. We allowed slavery and we’ve never recovered from its taint. We slaughtered the Natives who lived here and pretend we didn’t.

We have, as most countries do, glossed over the worst parts of our history and focused on the good stuff. We have pretended our failures never happened or really weren’t that bad. We have held ourselves up as a beacon of light to other countries but behaved more like a flashlight with failing batteries.

We need to do a lot better.


One of the many important things Obama said his final speech was although we made progress, we assumed progress meant we left “the bad stuff” behind and moved on. That isn’t what happened. Even when our better selves dominated, the ugly history remained stuck. We never addressed the issue of race. We have yet to give Natives an even break.

We fought our  Civil War more than 150 years ago and although the battles stopped, the war never ended. Now that we have a straight-out racist as president, it has become painfully obvious how deeply rooted our hatred goes. It needs to change economically, educationally, and culturally.

We forget how we became the world’s major industrial power. We built our economy on the bombed-out remnants of Europe and Japan following two devastating wars. We fought, but the fighting was never on our shores. Think about Pearl Harbor and 9/11. Then imagine how different this country would be if both world wars had been fought in this country, on this continent. Who would be the great industrial power then?

This is our time to consider who we want to become. Unless we make a hard and gritty determination to not just say we are great but to also be great, we will be lost to history, a blip on the timeline.

RDP SATURDAY: BEACON

WHY WE’RE NOT GOING TO HAVE A TRUMP “COUP” – Marilyn Armstrong

What with this mess we’re watching in D.C., we wandered into a discussion. “What if Trump decides to take over the country? Like, you know, hold a military coup?” There was a time when this kind of speculation would have been ridiculous, but these days, nothing is ridiculous and anything, no matter how absurd is possible.

Then, I realized a great truth.

Trump can’t stage a coup because he doesn’t have an army. It’s true there’s a parallel between Trump and Hitler (and after he was in office, Hitler did ultimately stage a military coup), but until that point, his actions were legal. It’s important to remember that Hitler was elected. Just like we elected Trump.

But here’s a big difference. Trump has no army.

The military hates him. All the militaries hate him. All the alphabet agencies loathe him too — CIA, NSA, FBI, Intelligence Department and most of DOJ.  I’m pretty sure that none of them will take over the country because he tweets them. Hitler built a dedicated army, including the Gestapo, Brown, and Blackshirts.  Trump has no military support. No matter how rabid his supporters are, they are not a military force and this isn’t the 1700s when a rabble can take over a country with a modern military. Moreover, he has never had the support of the majority of this country’s population.

If he can’t stage a coup, there’s little he can actually do except say “Hell no, I won’t go,” but in the end, he will go. Even if the Secret Service has to carry him bodily from the White house. Which to be fair, I would love to see.

Now, or later, unless he enlists his mythical Space Force, a million tweets will not make him king.