Dozer, the Bulldog

Dozer, the Bulldog
Feeling the "Bern"

Ellie Mae

Ellie Mae
No time for gates...

Ollie Mac

Ollie Mac
My cooking assistant

Ollie and Annie

Ollie and Annie
Azorean grandmother


38 years on this mountain, come May 31st...



Papa and Ollie Mac

Papa and Ollie Mac
Priorities, Baby


Annie, my Sweetest of Apple Blossoms

My first portrait

My first portrait
"Mr. Farmer"

Mahlon Masling Blue

Mahlon Masling Blue
My friend and brother.

Mark's E-mail address

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Of Burning Flags and Crosses

Of Burning Flags and Crosses

As challenging as it was, President-elect Malproddunt managed to step on his undersized [Editor’s command: STOP!] early Tuesday morning, yet once again, as he tweeted a proposal that demonstrators who burn the American flag should suffer consequences.

Loss of citizenship and a year in jail were two suggestions Malproddunt made, but coming from a man who would rather see a cross burning than a flag, I can only scoff at his buffoonery still one more time: The man is such a contemptible entity as to make George Bush, Jr, heretofore referred to only as W, look like the Dali Lama. 

As Molly Ivins has so eloquently stated, “I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps himself up in the Constitution, over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps himself up in the flag.” How she could so accurately have described Malproddunt, before her death in 2007, defies explanation. 
A few weeks ago I posted a piece of writing entitled “Face-Punched” (, something that rocketed upwards in my statistics file until it reached the coveted Top Ten list. To me this simply means I hit a nerve; readers from both sides stopped by to take a look.

In the essay I spelled out the differences between patriots, of which I am one, and nationalists, of which the two most famous are probably Adolph Hitler and President-elect Malproddunt. This is what I wrote:

“There is much confusion over what constitutes a patriot and how that differs from being a nationalist. Succinctly put, a patriot supports his country, but recognizes that it is not perfect. A nationalist supports his country to the extreme, believing it can do no wrong, ever, and feels threatened by those who dis on his country.”

When I wrote “Face-Punched,” I got the distinct impression that folks were shocked that I would burn a flag; allow me to assure you, that nothing could be further from the truth. I love this country, though I can no longer call it mine. Frankly, I want nothing to do with what this country has become.

MY country, the one that existed when I was growing up, still featured men of honor, in charge of both political parties. These men had integrity and would never have allowed money to interfere with that. They had money but did not need to have it all.

These men still felt that American values included the family, and that meant the mom being at home to care of and guide the kids. Now that is impossible because both parents must work and the cost of daycare, plus the latchkey lifestyle of the kids, have led to a crushing decline of the family, as a meaningful unit in most people’s lives.

Either that, or else the grandparents are raising the kids.

Why must both heads of the household work? They must because the upper crust of this American stew, has gradually sucked every bit of nutritional value out of the dish. The cost of living has continued to skyrocket, the profits of the corporations, likewise, are soaring, and yet wages remain at an unconscionably low level.

27 of America’s biggest corporations paid no taxes in 2015. These rotting, bloated, obese leeches, suck the marrow out of the general population, and for what purpose? So that the wealthy who run this country can continue to rape its people and plunder its resources.

The one percent of the population, already living opulent lives of greed and excess, continue to squeeze, wrench and rip the soul out of the American population. I know this to be true, because otherwise, how do you explain a lout such as Malproddunt, being elected to this country’s highest position?

And now we are supposed to somehow draw inspiration from the symbol of greed and profit, the American flag? I no longer believe this to be true, if I ever did.

Whereas I have no wish to desecrate the flag, I do have a fierce desire to protect the rights of those who do. If I were asked to what end I served this country for close to two years of my youth, back in 1972-73, I would say it was to protect Americans’ right to dissent.

And now, in case you just woke up from a year-long siesta, is the time to dissent.

Speak up for those being intimidated in your presence, write letters to your congressional and senatorial leaders, keep informed as to the latest irrational/unjust/immoral appointments to the Cabinet of Hate and continue to passively/aggressively refuse to kowtow to an agenda of injustice.

And for Buddha’s sake, recognize that the actions of the president-elect are not those of a patriot-they are the actions of a despot.

He wraps himself in the flag of nationalism, while burning the Constitution with his bigotry and racism, and he doesn’t need any gasoline because he already has the flames from his burning cross.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Please Insert Coins

Please Insert Coins

The message is textbook hatred, written by a master of the trade, and sent to three different mosques in California, located in Long Beach, Claremont and San Jose. If there were Pulitzer Prizes for hate-infused, maggot-encrusted examples of man’s inhumanity to man, this septic nugget would settle over the trophy and ooze down on all sides, covering it with the fetid stench it rightly deserves.

Leaving some of the more colorful components out, the message includes the following day-brighteners: “You muslims (sic) are a vile and filthy people…You are evil…But your day of reckoning has arrived.”

By definition for a “day of reckoning” to arrive, some mistake or misdeed must have occurred in the past, and that’s the kicker: The only mistake the Muslim refugees ever made, was to be born in a region that has attracted the attention of powerful nations from other parts of the world, most notably, The United States.

The missive continues, “There is a new sherriff (sic) in town—President Malproddunt.” (Only the message actually had the same letters rearranged to spell the president’s name differently than I do)
The new "sherriff" (sic)

“He’s going to cleanse America and make it shine again. And, he’s going to start with you muslims. He’s going to do to you muslims what Hitler did to the jews. You muslims would be wise to pack your bags and get out of Dodge [before we come for you in the dead of night].”

And there it is, right out there for us all to see. Impassioned rhetoric aside, what some of those who support President Malproddunt want to see, is the ethnic cleansing that was so efficiently effected during World War II, in Nazi Germany. None of this beating around the bush, or treading on eggshells-let’s do to the muslims (who do not even deserve an upper-case M), what Hitler did to the jews (likewise relegated to lower-case-letter status by the writer of the odious note).

Here comes my favorite part, that sense of inclusion, “This is a great time for Patriotic Americans [upper case]. Long live President Malproddunt and God bless the USA!!

Americans For a Better Way”

As a paradigm of repugnance, the message sent to the three mosques is right up there with the Nazi emblem and the hooded KKK figure, and unfortunately, it is just the tip of the iceberg. lists fifty-five synonyms for hate and I think we’re going to see them all in action before we are through.
The venomous letter is a harbinger of hate but it does serve a purpose. The foul and malignant words speak for themselves in their clarity and purpose, leaving no room for any doubt. Individuals exist who see an opportunity to inject their agenda of prejudice and hate, into the veins of this country, particularly those in rural regions, so as to achieve a unified front against the cherished ideals the rest of us hold true.

In running for office, President Malproddunt made it abundantly clear that he did not represent all of the American people, alienating himself from multiple cultures and ethnic populations, and going so far as to promise to build a wall between US and Mexico.

The new “sherriff” would like to “cleanse America” and “make it shine again,” which begs the question, what’s this “again?” White people were not the first to live in this country, not by about 29,500 years.

Oh, yeah, I forgot, back to a time when things were separate but equal, and we all had friends who were black (or Muslim, or Jewish, or Mexican…), but hey, that’s why God invented back doors, you know? Wouldn’t want to give the neighbors the wrong impression.

At some point, in the immediate future, some entity in our [Judicial/ Legislative/Executive] system of checks and balances, is going to call President Malproddunt on his inability to carry out his legitimate responsibilities as president, and it will all come to a screeching halt.

It’s not likely to come from the Executive Branch, laugh out loud, nor is it likely to come from the Legislative Branch, where $175,000 is needed to live a somewhat “normal” life, because it is bought and paid for already. Therefore, we will have to rely on the Judicial Branch, because at least they have to function with some modicum of integrity, unlike the other two who only operate when the coins have been inserted.

Either that, or the American Civil Liberties Union will file the right lawsuit, representing laws already on the books, and the “sherriff” will have his can of Comet and his scrub brush, ripped out of his lily-white hand, and crammed right up there where the sun don’t shine.

Along with his racist ideas and his racist appointments to the Cabinet of Hate, representing our government. 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Who Spoka Da Shut-Up?

Who Spoka Da Shut-Up?

The speaker was Sister Mary Cruz, my fourth grade teacher at St. Martha’s parochial school in La Puente. I first met her in the winter of 1961, when she appeared in the back of my third grade classroom, and took up residence for the remainder of the school year.

Because Sister Mary Cruz did not speak a word of English when she first joined us, she did not talk much. All she did was observe and move amongst us kids, doing what she could to help Mrs Carrari with her 43 students.  

Why didn’t she speak English? Sister Mary Cruz and three other nuns were among those who either fled Cuba when Fidel Castro rose to power, or were given the boot. My distinct impression has always been that these gals were flung out of Cuba like so many rag dolls. Now they were our teachers.

Though I never remember Sister Cruz discussing Cuba in any way, she apparently thought the children in her native world, were more civilized than her new charges, or at least she led us to believe that. Exasperated to the point of distraction, her frequent refrain of, “Who spoka da shut-up?” has remained with me all my life. She did not like kids being mean to kids.

Those reading this who had the misfortune of being chained to a chair in a classroom of mine, know that it was an instant “two-put-ups-offense” to use that particularly degrading phrase within the scope of my quite-efficient ears; by comparison, were you to be so bold as to exclaim, “Shit!” it was an instant three-step offense, and meant a lunchtime stay with Pinkie, or later on, Richie.
"Two put-ups, please."

Your two put-ups had to be genuine-none of this your-shirt-is-too-cool malarky. Something along the lines of, “I saw that catch you made at break today-it rocked!” was more what I had in mind. Of course students resisted giving compliments, but my policy also did much to curb inappropriate language within the scope of my ears.

I couldn’t see a student texting from six feet away, but I could hear a whisper from across the playground. 

Besides, if you were simply incapable of vocalizing two compliments to your victim, you could write a 500-word essay, explaining the rationale for being polite in a classroom setting-in lunchtime detention.
I have always felt that to have an individual snap, “Shut-up!” at another, is the verbal equivalent of slapping someone in the face. Or as I used to put it, “Rudeness abounds!” Figure out a more civilized manner of expressing that sentiment, or refrain from saying anything at all.

In any case, Sister Mary went from being a silent instructional assistant in the spring of my third grade year, to being my full-time fourth-grade teacher only months later, when September of 1961 rolled around.

By the way if you think 43 is too many third graders to cram into one classroom, a couple of years down the line, my younger brother Tom was to find himself in a second grade class of 72. But hey, my folks wanted us to get a Catholic education. Apparently.

As a dutifully raised Catholic, I hated Fidel Castro because of his intolerance for the Church, just as I loved John Fitzgerald Kennedy because he was one of us. I loved Sister Cruz, too, because she was so genuine.

She played football with us and treated the boys the same as the girls, a trait I much appreciated. Sister Annunciation, my fifth and eighth grade teacher, a woman who stood at most, four feet ten inches tall, blatantly favored the girls.

I can remember the entire class just being out-of-it, snd having her lose it. “Girls, you may leave. Boys, stand alongside your desks.” As if eighth grade girls are paragons of innocence. 

I can remember two different sets of eighth grade anarchists in my sixteen years of middle school life. The first featured four boys and one girl; the second featured five girls. ‘Nuff said. 

Eighth grade girls pack their share of swag.

Sister Invencion, my sixth and seventh grade instructor, actually LIKED boys, making her my all-time number one favorite teacher. She didn’t give us preferential treatment over the girls, but that made her even better. She assessed any given situation, and held those accountable for their behavior, regardless of gender. All of the nuns from Cuba were comfortable around a lot of kids, and were most capable of sharing the warmth of their personalities. 

Warmth of personality, notwithstanding, how was Sister Cruz able to instruct her 43 fourth graders in the intricacies of the English language, when she could barely speak it herself?

In an unheard of notion in our school, we switched teachers with my sister, JT’s, second grade teacher, Mrs McDonough, a short, cold, round, terrifying woman who made us long for Sister Cruz. Naturally, Mrs. McDonough taught us English grammar while Sister Cruz taught Mrs. M’s class, religion.

If I remember correctly, JT viewed Mrs. M similarly as I did at first, but found that her bark/looks were worse than her bite, and that she was actually a fine teacher. I am equally certain that my sister never gave Mrs. M any reason to be anything but sweet towards her.

Now Castro is gone, leaving his impact on our little fledgling parish, almost a forgotten matter. 

I saw that Colin Kaepernick wore a tee-shirt with Castro’s picture on it, sharing a photo with Malcolm X, a figure who exercised much influence over Kaeprnqick as he was growing up.

Criticized for wearing the image of a man who oppressed his own people, contrary to what Kaep purports to believe, the athlete replied that he wore that shirt to commemorate what was a pivotal point in Malcolm X’s life.

Additionally, Kaep mentioned that he supported Castro’s investment in Cuba’s educational system, his universal healthcare system and Castro’s involvement in helping to end apartheid in South Africa. Anyone who knows his political views, Kaep said, would know that he did not support Castro’s oppression of the Cuban people, overall.

Regardless of how he is viewed, Castro’s actions had a direct impact on me, and for that I am grateful. I liked my Cuban teachers, I learned the basics of speaking Spanish and I formed a corner foundation piece for my discipline program as a middle school teacher: 

“Don’t speaka da shut-up!” Translation: Be respectful to your fellow students.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Let's Get This Party Started

Let's Get This Party Started

I do not write movie reviews, primarily because by the time I see a feature, it has been out for some time. Race is just such a film, having been released in February of this year, and now available on commercial television. As these matters sometimes work out, the timing is impeccable.

Jesse Owens was a childhood hero of mine, having performed his athletic feats in Berlin, in 1936, only sixteen years before I burst(!) onto the scene. I read books about him as a kid and idolized him, not for his athletic accomplishments, so much, as for the statement he made in Berlin, in the face of the Nazis.

In an atmosphere of rabid racism (Is there any other kind?), Owens took the concept that the Aryan Race was superior to all others, and rammed it down the collective throats of the Nazis, much to the delight of the world, and the German population viewing the action, all 110,000 of them.

Production on Race began in mid-2014 and was completed in 2015, long before the Republican Party had any inkling that it would feature as its primary candidate in 2016, an individual who would exhibit striking similarities in leadership, to the dictator of Germany prior to the start of World War II.

Race reveals for the viewer, themes that not only correspond to those we are contending with in the aftermath of the recent election, but concepts and ideals that are inherently ingrained in the fabric of our culture. These ideals were severely compromised during the course of the film, much as they are being compromised today, and Race is the resulting story.

As for the athletic competition, there was no suspense: Jesse Owens won an unprecedented four gold medals. We knew that going in. The drama resulted from taking the magnifying glass, and examining Owens’ role in navigating his tortuous route through prejudice and hatred, and then to revel in his victory alongside of him.

To take in this drama and not feel a stirring reaction, would be contrary to what I would expect from someone raised in our culture. As a black man, Jesse Owens faced adversity every step of the way to success in Berlin, absorbing scathing abuse at the hands of his own teammates at Ohio State (“Niggers shower after we are through…”), before ultimately being scorned by German leadership, after his record-breaking performance on the track.

It is historically accurate that even the crowd present for the events, responded enthusiastically every time Owens stepped foot on the track, and went delirious after each of his victories, lending credibility to the notion that the German people were not the persecutors of Jews, the Nazis were.

Throughout the film the Nazis, paragons of racism and hatred, were accurately portrayed as the villains they were. The entire world rose up in opposition to the eradication policies already being carried out by the Gestapo, and Germany faced the real possibility that a boycott would derail the games before they ever got started.

The film centered on efforts by Avery Brundage to smooth the path for the games to proceed according to plan. He fought hard as a sports administrator against an American boycott, facing an emotional battle from those who wanted to make a political statement to Nazi Germany, that racism would not be tolerated at the Olympics. 

Brundage’s personal feelings about racism are presented in an ambiguous manner in the film, leaving the viewer unaware that in reality, historical evidence from both 1936 and 1972, indicates that Brundage indeed, shared the Nazi view that Jews had no place in the competition.

As Olympics president from 1952-1972, Brundage was responsible for continuing the games after the murder of eleven Israeli athletes by terrorists, in 1972. Applauded by those in attendance, Brundage’s decision that the “Games must go on” later came under heavy criticism, his seemingly anti-semitic stance unacceptable to his critics.

How timely is this film? Every day a new horror story unfolds, as President Malproddunt assembles his Cabinet of Hate. Intolerance, hatred, self-centeredness, greed and a rejection of basic human rights, presented so powerfully in Race, are all part of the new regime’s platform, and once again, there is worldwide objection.

That the fraudulently-elected president is a racist, is undeniable. That he cannot possibly carry out his Constitutional responsibilities as leader, is patently obvious. That he is a fraud has just been determined in a court of law, when he agreed to pay back $25 million of the $175 million dollars, he bilked students out of in his scheme to teach his students how to get rich.

Malproddunt taught them all right; you get rich by cheating students out of their money. And this man is the person we are all supposed to look up to.

Whether I like him or not is irrelevant; I have no respect for him as a human being. He is attempting to emulate Adolph Hitler, one of the most vile antagonists the world has ever seen, and I will not stand for it, just as millions of others will not stand for it.

People wonder how the Gestapo was able to round up six million Jews, without the German people “doing something about it.” Didn’t they care? As we now know, German people who stood up for Jews, were simply rounded up with them, carted off and never seen again. 

We are not to that point here-yet-but with discussion of requiring non-Christians to register, deporting Muslims and building walls, we are not that far away. 

This is the time to raise your voice and protest that this is not Nazi Germany and we will not stand for an intolerant and illegal president. Make phone calls, write your representatives, and let’s get this party started. 

We are already more than half-way there, since opponents of President Malproddunt out-voted his supporters. What we need now is enough Malproddunt supporters, who have seen the egregious error of their ways, to join in the fight.

Unlike Hitler, who had supreme control, Malproddunt is still lining his cronies up, so there is a window of opportunity before they start showing up in the night.

When no one will be there to stand up for you.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Good Times, Those

                                 Good Times, Those

The presidential oath of office demands that whoever occupies our nation’s top elected position, “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” My question is simply, “How can President Malproddunt possibly accomplish this, when he has already made promises which would shred the Constitution, and is in the process of backing this up with appointments to his Cabinet of Hate?

I saw a meme on social media that asked the reader to harken back to a time, when Sarah Palin represented the most astro-planing candidate that we had yet seen. Good times, those, is all I can say, as we continue to ride the tsunami of hatred and bigotry that accompanies the current regime.

Growing up, I was taught about the Teapot Dome Scandal of William Harding’s administration, in 1922-23. Bribes were accepted by Secretary of the Interior Albert Bacon Fall, though no party was ever convicted of offering said bribes, in order to secure various land holding that contained…petroleum products. Fall was convicted and sent to prison, back in an era when politicians were held accountable for their actions.

Yes, Big Oil was right in there close to a hundred years ago, bribing without being caught, and tainting a Republican Administration for generations to come. Money begets power, and those with the money are always going to be lurking in the shadows.

Now we have Forrest Lucas, 74-year-old co-founder of Lucas Oil, being nominated by President Malproddunt as Interior Secretary. Lurking in the shadows? Hell, no! Spotlight City! In this manner there need be no bribe necessary to acquire entry into hallowed grounds, since the guy running the show is already on board. 

If thinking of Lucas in terms of Richard Allen Davis being appointed as headmaster of the Polly Klaas Boarding School for adolescent girls doesn’t work for you, try thinking of President Malproddunt being assigned as director for the Miss Teen America, with unconditional access to the contestants’ dressing room. You know, like back in the good old days.

I might even add the idea of the deadly cobra in charge of the henhouse, but the bottom line is I really could not have come up with a better example of questionable leadership/unscrupulous ethics, than an oil baron being in charge of our nation’s petroleum preserves. Did Malproddunt think no one would notice?
But that’s our lovable, bleach-brained president for you, the big lug. No one warned him about those pesky cobras in the henhouse. No one warned him about those vultures.
No one had to.

Vultures Steve Bannon, alt right nominee for White House Chief Strategist, and Jeff Sessions, nominee for US Attorney General, are already perched and waiting. Sessions has proven multiple times since his nomination, that he would be far better off keeping his words to himself, and having people think he is a twit, than to open his mouth, and prove them correct.

Malproddunt’s attacks on the press, his stance on Muslims, his attack of Mexicans, his arrogance when it comes to basic human rights/treatment of women, are all succinct examples of his ethical shortcomings, and his putrid grasp of the Constitution. 

A century ago, any one of the aforementioned examples, plus another twenty or so documented instances of Malproddunt’s illegal/immoral/unethical behavior, would have been more than enough to remove him from office, as the Teapot Dome Scandal proves.

Good times, those.

Friday, November 25, 2016

No "Them" in My World

No "Them" in My World

I am an optimistic person by nature, preferring to waltz through life wearing rose-colored glasses, until such time as the acrid presence of hatred becomes so malevolently fetid, that I must don a pair of goggles to navigate my path.

There’s a lot of hatred swirling about in this country.

Instead of writing funny stuff, such as “You Can’t Get There From Here,” or “The Attack of the Killer Seatbelt”,, my last five posts have been about a racist fanatic, who is trying his best to ram a white supremacist agenda down the throats of Americans. 
"The Attack of the Killer Seatbelt"
President Malproddunt, I have news for you: It ain’t going to happen-not this year and not ever. You have appointed a man as your White House Chief Strategist, your closest advisor, who has an acknowledged alternative right political agenda, a white nationalist if you prefer this term over that of white supremacist. 

You have appointed a man as attorney general who thinks groping women by the genitals is not sexual assault, and yet who finds the thirty million Americans who have indulged in cannabis, bad people. This man’s priorities are so irretrievably reversed, I sense a total disconnect with mainstream America, which is what the alt right is.

Now there is Betsy Devos, who is a billionaire with no degree in education, no teaching experience and no experience working in school environment, being appointed Secretary of Education. She has never attended a public school, never put her children into public school and believes public school teachers are overpaid. 

So, what’s not to like, right?

Is this a case of President Malproddunt not doing his homework? Er, actually, it is a case of paying back a crony for donating $9.5 million dollars to his campaign. You scratch the President’s back, and he responds by appointing you to a snazzy spot on his Cabinet of Hate.

Sure, and the list goes on and will continue to lengthen and infuriate those Americans who are preparing for a long fight. Trenches are being dug, battle lines being drawn and schedules are being juggled so that we can gear up for the peaceful protests springing up in every region of the country.

The American Civil Liberties Union has issued a statement regarding some of the President’s more egregious hate proposals; it goes like this:

“These proposals are not only un-American and wrong-headed, they are unlawful and unconstitutional. They violate the First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. If you do not reverse course and instead endeavor to make these campaign promises a reality, you will have to contend with the full firepower of the ACLU at every step. Our staff of litigators and activists in every state, thousands of volunteers, and millions of card-carrying supporters are ready to fight against any encroachment on our cherished freedoms and rights.”

Barry Vogel, a wise man who once guided our small community up here on the mountain, through a morass of hatred, said something once that impacted me greatly, “Anyone can sue anyone at any time; whether or not the lawsuits have merit does not prevent them from being filed.”

President Malproddunt can spew all of the preposterous-hate mongering proposals that he wants, delighting his legion of racist followers, but if they violate any of the five Amendments listed above, they will be shot down in flames.
Hatred personified

Hatred, scorn, malice, contempt and condescension have no place in our President’s world, if he is to represent all the people. We all know Malproddunt fell more than two million votes short of even capturing a majority in the election, and many of the folks who voted for him are beginning to realize just how atrocious their error was.

They sold the rest us down the river on a raft of racism, bigotry and hatred, and now they want to reverse the current of the river. Fine. Get on board our raft, constructed simply of love, tolerance and respect, and start rowing.

What is now a raft must become a destroyer, a destroyer of hatred and intolerance, if we are to take back our country. I am an optimistic person by nature, who has affixed goggles to his face in preparation for what is about to come my way.

I want my rose-colored glasses back because that is what this world is all about: color, diversity, and a cultural melting pot that does not reject any class of ingredients, as long as they are human beings.

When you start by culling out one culture of individuality from the herd, you’d best have the backs of the rest, because eventually they’re going to come after you: in the night, without warning and without provocation, except that you are one of “them.”

There is no “them” in my world-we are all us, and I will fight for each and every one of you, regardless of gender, color, religious affiliation, height, sexual preference, weight, color of eyes, and yes, I will even fight for Dodgers fans.

I will fight for Dodger fans the hardest because it’s simply my way of saying, “Love is the greatest power!”

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Storm Is Coming

Scarlet pimpernels from down by our pond

Storm Is Coming

As a kid I was enthralled with the French Revolution. I read “A Tale of Two Cities” and “The Scarlet Pimpernel” over and over, and the one element that captivated my attention, was the sheer savagery that the French peasants unleashed upon the Aristocracy. 

The public executions via Madame Guillotine, the chilling portrayal of old hags cackling with delight every time the blade trimmed another patrician down a hair or two, and the methodical butchering of those who had called the shots for so long, left me with a vivid impression of man’s inhumanity to man.

How much pain must the peasants have endured, and how many ways must the Aristocracy have found to crush the spirit right out of the populace, until such time that it rose up? If you crush grapes, and allow that which is extracted to ferment, you create a powerful mixture.

If you crush the spirit out of a population, what is squeezed out also ferments over time, and when conditions get so miserable as to produce a reaction, the resulting concoction is a thing of horror. 

With fifty million Americans living at-or near-the poverty level, there is vast potential for a mixture that will make Jim Jones’s Kool-Aid atrocity seem like a pre-schooler’s tea party for dolls only.

I posted a meme recently, which told the sordid story in 111 words, of what has gone wrong in this country. It goes like this:

“For nearly 50 years, as our country got richer, our families got richer, and our country got richer.
And then about 30 years ago, our country moved in a different direction. New leadership attacked wages. They attacked pensions. They attacked unions. And now we find ourselves in a very different world from the one our parents and grandparents built.
We are now in a world in which the rich skim more off the top in taxes and special deals, and they leave less and less for our schools, for roads and bridges, for medical research—and less to build a future.” Elizabeth Warren

Regardless of numbers, a populace that has had the spirit crushed out of it for too long a period of time, will correspondingly react with volatile finality. “Heads Will Roll” will become more than just the title of a popular song. Fifty million pissed off people can create a lot of havoc.

Fifty million people living in abject poverty, mom and dad both working, daycare costs rapidly draining an already meager income, latch-key kids functioning on their own with just enough Captain Crunch to get them through until the next day, it’s all adding up.

Too many people living off the shelves of Walmart, the cancer rate rising prodigiously, medication costs hiked to exorbitant prices, people desperate to provide needed health care for elderly and kids, something has got to give.

Did you know that 27 major corporations paid no taxes in 2015? How is this even possible? The tax laws are skillfully crafted to benefit the wealthy and the folks in charge of perpetuating this travesty, are the same folks who voted these laws into being in the first place.

Anyone who thinks we still live in a democracy, is fooling himself. Oligarchy is a weird word that describes perfectly what we actually have: a small group (one percent) of individuals who control the rest.

If we had a democracy, then the candidate who just surpassed her opponent by two million votes, would now be President. Unfortunately, money is power and those with the money are going to have the power. That is, until the fifty million people at-or-near-the poverty level decide to take matters into their own hands.
And when it does, people are going to remember how much pain they have suffered. They will remember freezing water rockets being fired amidst peaceful protestors in North Dakota, and they will remember how the minimum wage was raised once, during the same period of time in which the salary for Congressmen was raised nine times.

Oh yes, they will remember and when the match is lit to the fuse which dangles so provocatively, the resulting explosion will result in a new order, one in which the concept of white supremacy will be just as repugnant as it was back in 1945.

They say history repeats itself because people don’t learn the first time, and I guess they must be right. Whereas I used to wonder how Adolph Hitler could rise to power, now I know. 

Get enough folks from one segment of the poor, under-educated mass, to think it is better than another segment of under-educated mass, and you have the perfect setting. In this case, there was obviously no problem figuring out what the two sides were: racists versus the rest of us.

The racists won, electing a man who has openly spewed hatred and bigotry throughout his campaign (and life), and now this man is stacking the deck against people of color, and ANYONE who is not white, “normal” and just like everyone else.

White supremacy, as abhorrent of a concept as has ever been conceived of, will come up on the short end of the stick, just as it has done so in the past. The forces that are aligning themselves on the White House Cabinet, even as I prattle on, will only get so far before the stuff hits the fan.

Attempt to squash diversity, try to crush multiculturalism and keep shooting salvos of bleach, like so many salvos of frozen ice water being blasted into peaceful Water Protectors, amongst the general population, and the general population will eventually get fed up.
That we have regressed to this point is frightening because the control in firmly in the hands of those who have no plans to relinquish it. They pay no taxes, they hoard their money in sick fashion, and they refuse to acknowledge that the wealthy have a responsibility to pay for their entitlement. 

They have billions and begrudge a fair wage; they have billions and yet charge exorbitant prices for life-preserving medicine; they have billions and yet they want more.

And they are going to get it, more than even the French Aristocrats got, because methods of extermination are so much ore effective. Just ask the survivors of Auschwitz.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Just Show Up

Just Show Up

Civil Rights 
Anti-Vietnam War Protests
Women’s rights
Gay rights
Environmental rights
Student rights 

We fought these battles-and many more-together, from the sixties onward, in stitching the fabric of our culture into the masterpiece that it is. Now, the forces that are gathering, threaten to shred that tapestry of diversity and tolerance, that comprises our country, and turn it into the white-robed symbol of the Ku Klux Klan.

To take a “wait and see” stance is pure folly. Because actions speak louder than words, as always, we have only to evaluate the first ten days of the new President-elect’s administration, to see this principle painfully substantiated.

Let’s take a quick glimpse at post-election developments: 
Blah, blah blah...

I saw the photo of President Malproddunt holding the LGBT flag proudly, and read how this was the first Republican President to ever demonstrate such solidarity with the gay community.

I heard that the President-elect was already reversing a campaign promise to do away with Obamacare. He was said to be considering modifications.

I saw the photo of Malproddunt and President Obama in the White House, and read how the planned, thirty-minute session stretched out to ninety minutes. President Obama was said to be optimistic that Malproddunt was willing to listen.

[Editor’s note: Thirty-minute SESSION? Could we make that “thirty-minute meeting,” puh-lease?]

Malproddunt's words are fine and dandy; how about his actions, so far?

Malproddunt nominated Steve Bannon, a self-acknowledged white supremacist, as his White House Chief Strategist. Nothing like getting your agenda on the front burner, by getting an expert in there. Bannon does come highly recommended, by the way, by both the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party.

Good recommendations are so hard to come by.

Malproddunt also nominated Senator Jeff Sesssssionssss as his attorney general. This man is just as scary, having gone on record as saying that what Malproddunt admitted doing, was not his idea of sexual assault. The fact that Malproddunt admitted to taking his foul, grubby, slimy, groping, unsanitary hand, and arrogantly grabbing a woman he did not know, by her genitals, does not constitute sexual assault.

How about if it were a nineteen-year-old black male, grabbing a white woman’s genitals?

Additionally, Sessions stated that he thought it was “important that the public understand that people who smoke marijuana, are not good people.” I think at least thirty million people, right off the bat, are going to disagree.

Oil executive Forrest Lucas is favored to take over the Department of the Interior, multiple outlets have reported. This is equivalent to having Richard Allen Davis appointed headmaster at the Polly Klaas Boarding School for Adolescent Girls.
Add caption

Also being considered for the position is Sarah Palin. Yes, that one.

Actions speak louder than words, which is why I am urging everyone within the sound of my voice, to start actively planning on how you can get involved. Whatever time and energy you have, would be a grand start. We owe it to the kids to begin the process, because we're running out of time.

We have united before, successfully, and now we must do so again. I am done talking about which candidate received your vote. I no longer care. 

Because actions speak louder than words, we need to do something now. Pick a venue which allows you to devote a day of your time, to express solidarity with those of us willing to fight for survival, and just show up. Annie and I will be in Sacramento, marching, on January 21st. 

Just showing up gives our voice a megaphone.

Just show up.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Love Trumps Hate

Love Trumps Hate

Dear Supporter of President Malproddunt,

I saw the meme you posted, with the family gathered around the Thanksgiving table, giving thanks for being spared Hillary Clinton. Congratulations, by the way, on your stirring victory over the forces of corruption, as represented the Democratic Party candidate.

I was never clear how her corruption was going to negatively affect you, but you voted on principle and showed those liberals that you were not about to put up with any unsavory figures occupying the most important job in our GREAT COUNTRY.

That was last week.

Today, however, that internal smugness has been replaced with a most external fear: Why is President Malproddunt appointing Steve Bannon, an avowed white supremacist, to the White House staff, especially, as Chief Strategist?

Why? The reason would appear reasonably transparent to most of us: What better way to promote an agenda of racism and hatred, than to bring in an expert? How do I know he is an expert at hatred and bigotry? Organizations backing him include the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party. 

“Perhaps The Donald is for real,” gushed Rocky Suhayda, chairman of the aforementioned American Nazi Party. 

“Bannon will ‘push Trump in the right direction,’" suggested Richard Spencer, president of the white nationalist National Policy Institute.

You Malproddunt supporters all know what direction Spencer means, but here is something else to cogitate: This psycho, SENATOR Jeff Sessions, is quoted as saying that he does not view grabbing a vagina-not his own-as being sexual assault. I feel it necessary to clarify the previous statement, because I happen to think Senator Sessions, himself, is a-

[Editor’s plea: STOP!]  Fine. Whatever.

Moving forward, always forward, as a Malproddunt supporter, you voted with a vengeance, refusing to listen to all of those so-called intellectuals. Hell, you figured, they wouldn’t know their asses from a hole in the ground, if the hole in the ground were the Grand Canyon.

Still, YOU ARE NOT A RACIST! Not only that, you are most certainly not a proponent of violence towards those with vaginas, and you are now starting to worry. After all, you are not a hater.

Nor do I hate you, just as I don’t hate any of my extended family, but I am upset with you, supporter of President Malproddunt. I have never been one to hold a grudge, but I have never faced a situation where I must forgive someone for selling out the planet, and with it, our own sense of moral superiority.

As a nation, over the past six decades, we have dared to defy the laws of human nature, and tried to iron out the uneven minefield, which is anything to do with race, ethnicity and color. Buddha knows, the struggle goes on. 

Therefore, I can’t help it; I have to ask, are you getting worried yet?

Because you should be. You insisted throughout the pre-election period that you are not racist. I wanted to believe you but still, you voted for the man with the racist platform, and now you have to watch with the rest of us, as our country slides back down that mountain we have worked so hard to build.

I intend to continue to fight for the forward progress we have attained, and that means I will need help. I will need help from both “liberals” and from those who mistakenly voted for President Malproddunt, and were vocal about their allegiance.

You do not have to admit you were wrong and liberals were right. It’s not about ego; it’s about survival. 

So, if you want me to let go of my grudge against you, you are going to have to send me a signal. 

Let’s not make this too oblique. All you have to say to me is, “Love Trumps Hate,” and we will be good to go. Your message will be tacit agreement that, regardless of what has occurred in the past, we are on the same team now.

If you can’t do that, don’t give it another thought, because as far as you, personally, are concerned, I sure won’t. Aren’t grudges a bitch?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

True Confessions: I Am A Bad Person

True Confessions: I Am A Bad Person

“It’s important that the public understand, good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Thus spoke Senator Jeff Sessions, the individual President Malproddunt has nominated for attorney general. I would be shocked speechless, but my vocal cords self-destructed when I read that white supremacy was back in style, with the nomination of Steve Bannon, for White House Chief Strategist.

Not only is racism on the President Malproddunt’s agenda, we have a strategist to direct forward progress.

Senator Jeff’s assertion that good people don’t smoke marijuana, must be accurate, right? After all, he is a United States senator. Imagine my shock to discover at age 64, that I am not a good person. Does that make me a bad person?
It must, right? If I am not a good person, then I must be bad. I wonder what I did wrong. 

Was it my military service, with its Good Conduct and Army Commendation Medals?

Was it the seventeen years I spent in education, working with middle school students to help them keep the education spark alive until they reached high school?

Was it the three sons that I raised, who turned out to be responsible, community contributors?

Or is it possible that Dozer, my bulldog, is the reason for my not being a good person?
I got it! It's Markie who is bad...not me!

It can’t be my lengthy arrest record because I have never even gotten a ticket. 

I wonder how the estimated thirty million Americans who also indulge in cannabis, feel about being condemned as not being good people.

I mean, Senator Jeff must be impartial if he is to function as attorney general, right? His condemnation of thirty million people, really doesn’t change anything, does it? Theoretically, he could still be impartial, even with the view that people who use cannabis, are bad people.


Cancer patients who use cannabis must also be bad people. All of those famous people who have stated that they either have used, or currently indulge in cannabis, they must be bad people too. Epilepsy sufferers, those with rare brain disorders, children who have leukemia, these people are all bad people, also.

It’s amazing what you find out when individuals appointed by President Malproddunt, start opening up their mouths. Scary too.

I rely on cannabis for my mood spectrum disorder, the term most folks similarly afflicted use in place of bipolarism. I prefer the old bipolar label myself. I ain’t proud but I ain’t skeered either.

Without cannabis, I have no way of grounding myself, so I use it every day of my life. Additionally, I work long hours considering I am an old dude, and I get a lot done. 

However, in order for me to be able to spend six hours a day handling the pitchfork, working the soil over the three months of spring, I require cannabis. Different strains work for different symptoms, and the physically demanding nature of farming has one just for IT.

Clearly, though, I am a bad person. 
Maybe we could start a “Bad Persons, Anonymous” chapter, locally, so we can all get together and celebrate being bad people.

Excuse me? What’s that you say? We already have one?

Duh. Reggae on the River, 2017, coming to you next August. 

Bad people of the world unite!

Friday, November 18, 2016

President Malproddunt

President Malproddunt

Great success! You voted for President Malproddunt[s] and you are one proud ‘Merican. You showed all of those liberal, pinko, commie perverts what the democratic process was all about, and now your guy is the head honcho.

So you are basking in the glow of success, and feeling solidarity with a lot of down-home folks, who felt the same as you. You are reading accounts of protests springing up all over, including Ukiah, where high school students protested Wednesday during school hours, and you are getting annoyed.

These people are just spewing sour grapes, you think. Their corrupt kingpin got her ass spanked, and she and her sicko husband can crawl back under the rock they call home. President Malproddunt[s] is about to shake things up.

Shaking things up means Steve Bannon is President Malproddunt’s nominee for Chief White House Strategist, an acknowledged white supremacist, and a man who obviously supports Malproddunt’s racist agenda. As the Chief Strategist for the White House. Oh, did I already say that?

Whoa, there partner, you exclaim, what makes Bannon racist?

Just because Bannon’s ex-wife swore under oath, that Bannon said in 2007, “…that he didn’t want the girls going to school with Jews…he didn’t like Jews,” doesn’t make him racist! That just makes him a guy who does not want his daughters coming into contact with an entire culture of human beings.

What’s so racist about that?

I mean, it was hard for you to wrap your mind around the proposed wall between Mexico and the United States, but you assumed that was just a joke. YOU ARE NO RACIST! But a hatred of Jewish people? Act tung, that sounds so vaguely familiar, and kind of unsavory. Something on the fringes of your mind. You’ll work it out later.

Meanwhile, those liberals are a whiny bunch of sniveling losers. These protests, the planned march in Washington DC, on January 21st, and the ones in Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, and countless other venues, are just so typical of liberals.

All they need to do is give Malproddunt[s] a chance. What’s that? A chance to do what?

Well, and I hate to catastrophize, but naysayers are saying the damage that will be done in the next four years, could mean the end of the planet as we know it, in twenty years. But hey, I’m no catatrophizer. I give it fifty years at least.

I just feel bad for people who have just had babies, or who have young children. You must feel terribly ungrounded, with this threat to your own children’s personal health and safety. 

Inflicting a holocaust of brutality upon the already reeling environment, will send Mother Earth to her knees most rickety-tic, of that I can assure you. Of course, I am 64 and already out-to-pasture, so who gives a flying fuck what I have to say?

Certainly not the supporters of President Malproddunce.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tool Time

Tool Time

There are countless contributing factors to a successful relationship between two people, but three stand out to me as being critically important: There must be mutual respect, there must be a communication process in place and there must be an unshakable commitment on both sides, so that bailing out is not a viable option.

If I had to choose one only, it would be the first one, because under the auspices of mutual respect, falls everything else. If you respect one another, then you talk to one another and you have each other’s backs, things you can only do properly if you are in it for the long haul.

If you have mutual respect, then you are not being cruel, either physically or emotionally, and you use communication to solve issues as they arise. One misconception that frequently surfaces, though, when talking about relationships, is the notion that anger has no place.

That is patently incorrect because anger is a natural human response to life’s trials and tribulations. The key is how you handle your anger and how frequently it surfaces. The myth that the couple that never fights is the ideal couple, is ludicrous.

If it were indeed true, it would be the most bland association in the history of mankind. On the other hand, if anger flares up continuously, then there are deeper causes that should be investigated. 

No, there are simply times when communication has taken place, agreements have been made and then one partner decides to go ahead and break an agreement-possibly for the third, fourth or fifth time.

You have had the patient, explanatory conversation-twice-the more direct approach once, and an angry silence after that. Time goes by and things remain at a standstill until the confidence is again broken, the lame explanation presented and the pressure that has built, like that boiling water in the pan of rice, surging up just before you flip the burner down to simmer, finally blows.

There is always going to be that one time when the wood stove suddenly decides to start spewing smoke, the dog is barfing on the rug and you have to stop what you are doing, including watching the rice, to take care of business, until you hear the hissing from the overflowing water hitting the burner.

Similarly, in the relationship, patience has run out, the resolve to remain calm follows like the lamb after Mary, and the rice water doesn’t just flow placidly over the top of the rice pan-it blows the fucking lid right off the stove.

Good Buddha, justified anger, in all of its naked fury, from someone who does not express anger in that manner, is an extraordinary thing to behold. When fear is not a factor, because there has never been a reason for fear, anger becomes an emotion capable of moving mountains.

Or even capable of finally establishing a simple point, instead of having to get one’s attention with a baseball bat, metaphorically speaking. 

The fact remains that this level of anger should rarely be necessary, if the three components for a successful relationship are in place, but necessary it is, upon occasion, when all else fails. 

See, the rice won’t cook until the water boils, but if it keeps boiling, the rice won’t cook either because the water will flow out over the top of the pan and put the burner out. The secret is to get the water hot, control it, and then take advantage of that energy to produce something tasty.

So in recognizing that anger is a tool, nothing more or less, the trick is to be able to utilize the tool to its greatest degree, in the least amount of time possible, so as not to wear out the effectiveness of this device.

Then, once the anger tool is put away, you can get out the make-up sex tool, and put it to use. Unlike the anger tool, the latter has no shelf-life, and you can’t wear it out.