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Thursday, December 30, 2021

New Book! New Book!

 


I have a new story out.

It's in the latest anthology from B Cubed Press.


It's called The Miracle Man and is set in the same universe as my previous story, The Deserter. Both installments share a character -- though in-universe the tales are separated by several decades -- and it seems I am now writing stories set in this universe because I'm sitting here looking at least a few more in various stages of draft. Eventually, they may become a stand alone novel or anthology. 

What's it about? This new story? This world?

God. Death. Miracles. War. Robots. You know, the usual stuff. 

The genesis for this new story and the previous one, is Clarke's Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. 

Clarke formulated that idea when writing 2001: A Space Odyssey and it describes a lot of the third act in that work. Clarke was describing aliens that had advanced to the point where their technology could not be understood by human science. Science could not even see how it was possible to get from here to there. From our perspective, the alien civilization detailed in 2001 was, for all intents and purposes, magic.

There's an obvious corollary, thus: Any sufficiently advanced being is indistinguishable from God. 

It's a simple idea, but it's impossible for the current state of human intellect to visualize such a being. 

Which is why the gods of human religion often end up described as petulant, petty, vindictive children instead a vast all-knowing all-powerful consciousness capable of creating worlds. 

Not that any vast all-knowing intellect capable of creating worlds is likely to give much of a damn about us.

I mean, would you really want to meet such a being? 

If that being, that vast intellect a million years beyond human understanding isn't God, well, it might just well be. And when the unstoppable agents of that intelligence walk the Earth, when they part the seas and raise up mountains and level cities and do what they do without regard for human concerns, well, if they are not angels, if that's not magic, there is be no practical difference to those caught in the maelstrom.  

Now, imagine if you will, a conman, who sells salvation on the installment plan in that world, the one where Rapture has come and creatures more terrible than any in the Old Testament walk the earth for real, until one day when he meets his god face to face. 

Also, robots. 

And that, right there, is the background of The Miracle Man.

I think it might be the best thing I've written. 

Maybe you will too. 

But if you don't care for my story, well, there are 25 other ones by some really fantastic writers that you might enjoy instead. 

The new anthology is called Alternative Deathiness.


From the press release by Editor Bob Brown: 

I’m coming for you is a bad movie line. For Death it is a promise. We tend to like to avoid the concept of death, but it keeps finding us. So we put together a book.

But what to call it.

We were sick of death coming in and taking friends and family, giving no regard for us except to leer from the darkness. The answer came, in a callout to Steven Colbert: we opted for Deathiness.

Death didn’t like that.

I believe it was her fault that I found myself being carried out of the house with a couple of pulmonary embolisms and realizing that most people who were in my condition met the grim reaper.

So I resolved to change my life, be a nicer person, give up cheese products and…

Nah, I decided to invite the B Cubed family on board to talk about it and maybe have a laugh at Death’s expense.

So Death, be warned:

We’re Coming for You!

And we're doing it with these great stories:

In "The Bodies We Carry" K.G. Anderson, one of the great up and comers writing about how to make death more real.

In "The Miracle Man" Jim Wright gives another chilling look into the world he created for the Best Selling Alternative Apocalypse.

In "Instructions for My Executors" Clare Marsh treats us with a poetic look at death and what the family should do.

In "Rule 49" (perhaps my favorite) has Maureen McGuirk looking at death as a real entity and shows us their many faces.

In "Spoons," Jay Wilburn dips into a well of thought and sensitivity as he makes death into a gentle journey that is not taken alone.

And "Gallows Humor?" Michael Mansaray takes a unique look at the inevitability of death that must be read to appreciate.

"For What is a Man" is David Foster's quest for an answer to the question with no real unswer.

"Mudpaws and the Tall Thing" Frances Rowat is a touching story reminiscent of the work Mike Resnick that sees the worlds end from the perspective of a lovely dog.

"A Comedian’s Valediction Forbidding Mourning" is the wonderful Larry Lefkowitz's reminder to laugh.

"The Thing Underneath" is a wee bit of horror by James Van Pelt.

"Have You Ever Been Experienced?" is an old theme made fresh by Paula Hammond, as she shows the power of being addicted to death.

"Death’s Scout" is Mark O. Decker thoughtful poem that I'll let you read rather than read about. It's that good.

"Papercut" by Larry Hinkle will make you throw this book out the window in disgust and horror, only to stop the car and retrieve the book to read it again.

"Death's Doorway" is Diana Hauer's incredible story of those who walk beside us through that final gate.

"Missing" by Robin Pond is that story that makes you want to read a hundred more just like it.

In "Final Questions," Chris Kuriata, adds to the duties of death to in this thoughtful look at unanswered questions of the dead.

"The Borrower" by Katie Sakanai speaks to the value of the human spirit across space and time.

"Three O’Clock" is Lamont Turner's nicely done story on making the best out of a bad situation.

"To Do Right", by Cory Swanson, shows us a better way to die. A good end to life is not to be underestimated.

"Old Forgotten Grave" by Bill Camp is a familiar but comfortable reminder that all of us will be forgotten.

"Ashes," by my dear friend Lizzy Shannon is a touching look at the end of life.

"The Devil’s Backbone," by Larry Hodges, brings his trademark humor to what happens when the Devil takes on the Good Humor man.

"Written in Stone," by Lauren Stoker.

"Death," by Robert Armstrong

"The Four Horsemen (and Women) of the Apocalypse" by Sarina Dorie

"Deathventures, Inc." by Robinne Weiss

"Rest In Virtual" by Tommy Blanchard

"Loving Death in New York" is poet Alicia Hilton's look at death on the streets of the Big Apple.

"Life Long Love" by the inspired young man, Sirrus James. Not old enough to drink, but old enough to understand love.

The print version  of Alternative Deathiness is here

And the Kindle version is here

I was supposed to be at this year's World Science Fiction Convention, WorldCon, in Washington D.C. 

B Cubed Press and Bob Brown were bringing copies of Alternative Deathiness that I -- and the other writers involved -- intended to sign for interested readers. 

Unfortunately, like Bob said up above, Death herself tends to irony. 

And in my case, I had to drop out literally at the very last moment due to a death in my family. 

So, we're a little late getting to the new book, but it'll be all that much better for it. 

Enjoy. 

___

Note: if you'd like to read my other story in this universe, The Deserter, you can find print and electronic versions here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Recap: December 28, 2021

Well, well. Look at that. 

Another politician died from COVID.

A tragedy, said the news. A terrible tragedy.  

Yes, a tragedy. He leaves behind a family. Friends. A job undone. He was so young. He was in the prime of life. And now, he's dead. It's so sad. Yes, yes. So very sad. 

He was a politician, you see. 

He was an elected "leader." 

He was that species of conservative we've grown all too familiar with of late: A vocal antivaxxer, a conspiracy theorist, loudly dismissive of the severity of the disease, profit over people, and who actively campaigned against any measure to contain the pandemic.

Who am I talking about? 

What was his name? 

Is it that guy yesterday from Washington state? 

Or the one last week from Florida? 

Maybe those (several) politicians from Texas or that one antivaxxer who was elected in Louisiana but died from COVID before he could take office?

While we're at it, what about that semi-famous YouTuber, or that media personality, or those various prominent preachers?

I mean, that's the thing, isn't it? 

That, right there. 

It could be any of them. 

Every day, there's another one. Another dead idiot. Another jackass politician, another fanatical preacher, another red-faced talk show host, dead from a preventable disease after a month of sucking oxygen through a tube. 

Do the names even matter at this point? 

It's just another unvaccinated moron, drowned in his own snot. 

Another suicide by petulance. 

Do the names even matter? 


What's that? 


Oh. I see. 

I should be a better person. 

Take the high road, right? Like that. 

Have some sympathy. Think of the families. Think of how these poor deluded fools were taken in by conspiracy and delusion. Have some empathy, man. Be the better person. 

That's what you're saying. Be the better person. Don't cheer these deaths. Don't celebrate these fools killing themselves off. Don't raise up a huzzah to Darwin.

It's not their fault, right? They were led astray. 

That's what Twitter told me, when I mentioned the latest death from stupidity. 

Be the better person. 

Yeah. 

Well, Folks, you can just stop with "be a better person" bit.

Because that just ain't going to happen. That ship not only sailed, it hit a rock outside the harbor and went down with all hands. 

I am all out of fucks to give. 

I'm not going to feel bad for some obnoxious idiot politician, some loud mouthed media personality, some fanatical religious nut, who not only refused to get vaxxed, but actively tried to keep the public from the vaccine. These assholes are killing people. It's bad enough they killed themselves, but they are enthusiastically trying to take the rest of us with them. 

Deliberately causing your own death from a preventable disease isn't a tragedy.


It's evolution. 


And you can likewise stop with the "You should feel bad for his family" routine too. 

His family?

His family, forsooth. 

LOL.

These people, they don't give a shit about their families. Or you. Or anybody else. The only thing they care about is their fanatical ideology. They're willing to kill themselves for it, and they'll take you with them just to own some libs. Let's go, Brandon! Yeah! 

We're years into this now. 

And at this point if you believe Alex Jones and Sean Hannity over actual doctors, then you are a fucking moron. 

You. Are. A. Moron. 

Hell, even Donald goddamn Trump thinks you should get vaccinated. 

At this point in human history, if you're an antivaxxer, you deserve every bit of scorn, mockery, and contempt we can heap upon you. You're a plague rat. You're Typhoid Mary and you should be exiled to a remote island somewhere beyond the edge of the map and left to rot. 

You want me to care about your family when you don't? Fine. Maybe now that another idiot politician is dead from stupidity, his kids will have at least chance for a better life. I mean, hell, if he couldn't be the kind of parent who was willing to put his ideology aside for his own children, then at least maybe his selfish miserable death will serve as a lesson to his children to be better people than their asshole of an old man. 

I dunno. 

Maybe I am a callous son of a bitch, as Twitter accused me of being yesterday.

Maybe I am. 

Twenty years in the military, a couple of wars, there's been a lot of dead bodies along the way, so, yeah, maybe I am a callous son of a bitch. 

So?

So what? 

I just can't see the death of another antivaxxer as a tragedy. Not to me. Not to you. Not even to his family. 

The world is better off without these assholes. 

Folks, the world is full of tragedy. Real tragedy.

Kids going hungry in a nation where we throw food away? Yeah, that's a tragedy. 

People sleeping in boxes under a viaduct while the rich fly into space as a goof? That's a tragedy.

I live in a state that this morning is surging in COVID cases, where deaths from the pandemic are at all time high, where the hospitals are overflowing -- and thus the profits are likewise at all time high. Healthcare for profit, now, that is a tragedy. Down here in The South, every day I see kids with their teeth rotted out of their heads, because their idiot, ignorant, asshole parents bought AR-15s and $400 worth of cigarettes this month instead of dental care. That's a goddamn tragedy. 

In my lifetime, we've spent untold trillions on decades of one futile miserable war after another, wars that left millions dead, millions more maimed, and the world measurably worse off than when it started. And no one was ever held to account. All those lives, all those people, all those families, bombed, burned, maimed, forgotten, and no one politician responsible was ever, not once, held to account. That's a not just a tragedy, that's a goddamn crime. 

There are a million tragedies large and small every day in this world and you want me to feel bad because some asshole politician, a grown goddamn man, who should have known better -- AND WHO NO DOUBT DID KNOW BETTER -- but who was determined to endanger himself as a political stunt, died? 

Died from his own determined and deliberate stupidity?

These deaths aren't an accident, they are on purpose.

Why shouldn't I celebrate that death? Why not? I mean, he got what he wanted. He made his point. Right? 

Callous. You damn right, I'm callous. 

And why shouldn't I be? These selfish miserable bastards, we've tried everything

We've tried reason. 

We've tried science.

We've tried appealing to their better nature, their sense of community and duty to their fellows.

They've been babied, cajoled, begged, shamed, and finally mandated. 

But still, they are determined to die and take us with them. 

And so they do.

They die. 

Alone. Scared. Drowning in their snot. 

That's not a tragedy. 


That's natural selection. 


These people, these antivaxers, they're not heroes. 

They're not standing on principle. 

It's not about freedom. 

It's not a tragedy. 

You can't appeal to their better nature, because they don't have any. 

They're just ASSHOLES.

And the world is better off without them. 

Viruses don't give a shit about your politics or your freedom or your idiotic political beliefs.

OR my callous disregard.

Look here: either you're part of civilization and you're willing to do whatever it takes to hold it together or you're not. If you're not willing to put aside your political ideology to protect your own families, and the rest of us, from a preventable disease, if you don't care that much, then I've got no fucks to give for you. 

I have plenty of sympathy. 

I have plenty of empathy.

I bleed for every real tragedy or I wouldn't have spent most of my adult life sworn to the defense of this nation and its people. 

But not for you. 

I have no fucks to give for you. 

If you're trying to burn down civilization, if you'd rather kill yourself and everyone around you, for a political stunt, then I've got nothing but contempt for you and yours. 

You're an asshole and you deserve what you get. 

You don't like that? 

It makes you mad? 

You want empathy and respect and concern for your wellbeing? That's a two-way street. 

You first. Step up. 

Stop being an asshole. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Recap: December 22, 2021

  

I had to back out of this year's World Science Fiction Convention, WorldCon, at quite literally the last minute. 

That caused a number of people who were depending on my presence some problems. I apologize for that. 

I was really been looking forward to WorldCon this year.

I'm not a fan of crowds, even if there wasn't a pandemic going around, but I'm part of several new books, and I was excited about those stories (still am). The latest one, I think that might be good enough to win an award or two. I mean, I usually write about politics, so getting to talk about the stuff I actually enjoy writing? Well, like I said, I was looking forward to it. 

And I was really looking forward to reconnecting and spending time with old friends. Some of which I only see at scifi conventions and comic cons. 

If there was any way I could have made the Convention, I would have. 

And as you've probably noticed, I haven't posted much here this last week. 

As such, I suppose I owe you an explanation. 


My Mother-In-Law passed away. 


I was literally -- literally -- in the car, pulling out of the driveway on my way to Washington, when my son (my son and his wife are living with us at the moment, while they look for their own place) ran out of the house and stopped me. 

Mom's on the phone with the nursing home and it doesn't sound good, he said. You'd better wait a minute. 

He was right, it wasn't good. 

My wife and I left our home in Alaska five years ago and moved here to the fetid swamps of the Florida Panhandle to care for her mom, who had then been recently diagnosed with Alzheimers. 

My wife gave up her career and became a full time caregiver -- which, if you're not familiar with Alzheimers, is a damn tough job that gets tougher and tougher with every day that passes. 

Alzheimers only goes in one direction. 

And that direction is down. 

It's pretty horrifying watching someone you love slowly disintegrate, losing their memories and their self piece by piece as the days go by. 

There are a number of ideologies when it comes to Alzheimers treatment. People can get pretty ... passionate about it. But, whichever course you choose, keeping an Alzheimers patient's mind active can sometimes help to slow the progression of the disease. 

So, my wife was there every minute of every day, working to keep her mom stimulated and engaged. The oldest memories are the ones that linger the longest. So, we daily took her to thrift stores and antique shops and wandered with her among the old things from her childhood -- hoping to reinforce those happy memories. My wife took her mom to visit friends and family. They went fishing, something both women loved to do (I clean the catch and cook it, but fishing bores me to tears). It worked, for a while. 

At home, we kept the big TV in the living room tuned the Grit Channel and the Western shows from her childhood, Gunsmoke, Death Valley Days, and Laramie. She increasingly had trouble following the plot, but those shows were all pretty much the same story every episode and if you lost the thread of it, well, the next one picked up in the same place. She had trouble remembering new people, but she knew the faces of actors who've been dead for decades, even if she couldn't remember their names, and again those shows helped keep her memories intact. For a while. 

I cooked healthy meals. We took her for long walks. Because proper nutrition and exercise can also help slow the disease. 

But the operative word here is "slow."

Alzheimers only goes one way. 

Eventually she developed something called Lewy body dementia -- which means she started seeing things. Bad things. For some reason those with this affliction never see happy illusions, only terrible ones. Medication can, sometimes, lessen the severity of the delusions, but they never really go away. People with Alzheimers often become paranoid, convinced that those around them must be playing tricks on them. It's very hard, often impossible, for them to believe it's their own mind that's betraying them. They begin to lose track of time. They become combative. Agitated. The disease causes other health problems as the parts of their brain that regulate their bodies fail. They forget how to eat. They forget how to use the bathroom. They stop sleeping. They refuse to take their medication -- and eventually the medication stops working anyway. 

Being a caregiver for Alzheimers is more than a full time job. 

At first, in the early stages, you can maybe get a break every few days. They can be left alone in their rooms or in front of the TV for a short while. A friend, a family member, can take the watch for a few hours. But sooner or later, it becomes every minute of every day of every week of every month of every year. You have to be vigilant every moment. You look away, even for second, and an Alzheimer's patient can hurt themselves, can wander away into the woods or the road, can do something that endangers others and themselves. You don't get any sleep, because you have to be there, all the time. You can't even go use the bathroom, because somebody has to be there. You never get any time to yourself. None. 

There's a financial aspect too. It can cost you, a lot. 

Caring for an Alzheimer's patient can destroy marriages and families, and very often does. It can consume you, and it does. 

It takes a pretty solid relationship to keep going because it never gets better, it only gets worse. 

Then came the pandemic. And things got much harder. 

The places we'd take her, closed up. We couldn't visit friends or family. I don't know if the disease advanced more rapidly then, or if it was just coincidence, but you reach point where the disintegration begins to accelerate and you can't do it anymore. 

That's when you need professional help. 

For us that was about a year ago. 

We moved my mother-in-law into managed treatment, a facility that specializes in round the clock care for this sort of thing. They're professionals. There's a team. They're there, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in three shifts. We know she was happy there. There were people to talk to and things to do and my wife visited often (only one of us could go, due to COVID). She was well cared for, far beyond our capability at that point -- and I'm sharing this with you, because if you find yourself in this situation, caring for a loved one with this terrible disease, there comes a point where you have to make this decision and you should do it without guilt. Because it's the right thing for you both. 

But Alzheimers only goes one way. 

And there's only one end. 

And for us, for her, that was last week. 

It wasn't unexpected, but that doesn't make it any easier. 

She went without pain, without suffering, with her family around her. 

My wife and I have been together for 30 years and there's no way I'd let her face this alone -- though I'm not sure how much help I really was. We did what families do in times like this, we transported family to and from the airport, we fed people, and comforted each other, and made the arrangements, and did the things you do in times like this. 

And so that's where I was. 

That's why I couldn't make it. 

I'm sure you understand. 

Hopefully, I'll see you all in Chicago for the next Worldcon. 


Friday, December 10, 2021

Recap: December 10, 2021


The first shot in the War On Christmas.




Fox News' Christmas tree burned down. 

Fox News' Jacques DeGraff is pretty sure it was the work of the Imperial Japanese Navy: 

Somebody asked me, why are you here? I'm here because these colors don't run. 80 years ago, this week, they tried to extinguish the darkness in a place called Pearl Harbor. We didn't fold then, and we won't fold now, because we've come this far by faith. In our tradition we say, this little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine. The red, the white, the blue, and the light of America, we're going to let it shine.   

The forces of evil have declared war on little Baby Jesus! These colors don't run because the Christmas Tree is basically the American flag ... or something, anyway: Open the silos! Deploy the fleet! Get the bombers into the air! Hoist the colors! Sound the trumpet! We won't back down! USA! USA! To be honest, I'm not really certain what "extinguish the darkness" means, but it sounds defiantly patriotic and that's what counts. 

That's what counts.

When the Japanese stage a sneak attack on your ... Christmas tree, I guess?

Well, "Christmas Tree" quote unquote. Given that it wasn't really so much a tree tree as a giant metal cone with a bunch of highly flammable fake evergreen branches stuck on that exploded into flame so fast it made the Hindenburg look like your dad trying to light the charcoal grill on a rainy Friday night. 

A fake tree burns down and, goddamn, it's Pearl Harbor. It's 9/11. It's an attack on Christianity! It's liberalism run amok! It's defund the police! It's the Antifas and the BLMs! This is Joe Biden's America where no tree is safe! It's cities overrun with crime! It's...

What? 

Oh, I see. 

You think I'm engaged in hyperbole, do you? 

Heh. 

No, I'm quoting Fox News hysteria directly

According to Fox News, a homeless guy with mental health issues lights a fake tree on fire and it's a symbol of everything wrong with their world, a direct frontal attack on God himself, and apparently America. 

Never mind that Jesus himself once cursed a fig tree to death because it had pissed him off. 

But then, isn't this one hell of a metaphor for the Republican version of Christmas? 

I mean, isn't it? 

The tree is fake. And flammable. A danger to the public. A fifty foot tall glowing symbol of over-the-top commercialism that was stolen by Christians whole cloth from some ancient pagan winter festival. We gonna learn how some jolly fat man in a red suit is a stand in for Jesus next? The reindeer are The Disciples or something? I mean, they drank a lot of wine in the Bible so maybe the glowing red nose...

What? 

Okay, fine. I'll stop.

But if this was any holiday special from previous decades, the show would end with Fox News learning the true meaning of Christmas. Steve Doocey, Greg Gutfeld, and the stogie puffing ghost of Rush Limbaugh would join hands amidst the ashes and they'd sing Christmas carols with New Yorkers while Tucker Carlson tossed presents to orphans and Rupert Murdoch would lean out the window on Christmas morning and shout in his quavering Australian accent, "You boy, what day is it?" and his shriveled leathery heart would grow two sizes when he learned he hadn't missed it after all because Christmas isn't about giant exploding Nazi Zeppelins but love and kindness and Bill Murray leading everyone in a rousing chorus of Put A Little Love In Your Heart and...

Okay, FINE. I'll stop. Jeez. 

But that's the thing, isn't it? 

Christmas isn't supposed to be about who has the biggest ... Yule log. 

It's supposed to be about the birth of the Christian Savior, right? 

John 3:16. Yeah? Remember that? For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son and so on and so forth forever and ever amen and lets nail him to a cross? 

No? I'm the only one who went to Sunday School? Really?

Okay, but isn't that what these red-face seething Republicans keep telling us? Jesus is the reason for the season! Fuck you, liberals! Peace. Love. Forgiveness. That sort of thing? Charity. Giving. Putting others before yourself. Healing. Spiritual renewal. MERRY CHRISTMAS! Not Happy Holidays, you godless pinko! 

"To give up one's very self — to think only of others — how to bring the greatest happiness to others — that is the true meaning of Christmas.
-- The American magazine, Vol 28, 1889

Isn't that it? 

That, right there? Right? To give up one's very self. To think only of others. Bring the greatest happiness to others.

Do you really need a tree for that?

Do you? 

Instead of rage and chest beating and Pearl Harbor, wouldn't the real lesson of Christmas be to stand in front of the ruins of their silly fake tree and actually honor the birth of their savior? Feed the hungry. Clothe the poor. Heal the sick. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Forgive each other. Love conquers all. Judge not. Deeds, not words. You know, that sort of thing. 

I mean, their God likes to test people. What if this was the test? And they failed? 

I don't know. It's not my religion. But, you gotta wonder: what would Jesus himself have done? 

But then, these people don't really believe in their religion or the lessons of their own supposed savior. 

To them, Christmas is just another weapon they use to bludgeon those they hate. 


And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made...

-- The Sound of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Recap: December 9, 2021

 

America isn't some shitty casino in Atlantic City. 

This isn't another failed business venture. 

We're not settling out of court. 




America didn't sign an NDA with this asshole and Executive Privilege applies only to the current Executive, not the former one. 

Trump is entitled to exactly fuck all confidentiality when it comes to treason, sedition, and insurrection.

America has not only a right, but a duty to know every detail of Trump's involvement in the attempted overthrow of American Democracy on January 6th, 2021. 

If he's innocent, let him prove it in front of Congress, in front of America, in front of the world. Let him prove it, incontrovertibly, with his own records, in his recorded words, with proof, with evidence, with every document and every phone call, all of it. 

The future of the Republic demands nothing less. 

We must know. 

In the words of Republicans themselves: if they got nothing to hide, they got nothing to worry about.

At this point, a full and detailed accounting is long past due. 

If Trump, if Republicans, are innocent, then let them prove it beyond any shadow of a doubt. 

But, of course, they're not innocent. 

Are they? No, they're not. 

You know it. 

I know it. 

They know it. 

They know they can't prove their innocence, because they are guilty as hell. 

They tried to overthrow the government. Yes they did. 

They gave aid and comfort to our enemies, foreign and domestic, and they're still doing it.


They're just mad anyone would call them out on it. 


Of course, mad is what this is all about. 

Republicans tried to overthrow democracy because they're mad. 

They're mad at the idea every vote should count.

But it's more than that, they're mad at the very idea your vote, the vote a liberal, of a woman, of a black person, of a gay person, of a transgender person, of an ex-con, of a naturalized immigrant, should count every bit exactly the same as theirs. 

They're mad because women want control over their own bodies. 

They don't give a shit about "life" or any right to it. It's not about the babies. It's not about sanctity or their God and it never has been. No, it's about power, control, and forcing others to submit to their will. They're mad at the very idea of someone, anyone, especially women, defying their perceived authority because it directly makes mockery of their fundamental perception of themselves as masters of the universe. 

They're mad because people demand the right to their own identity. 

For them the world is simple, binary, black and white. Us and Them. Friend and Enemy. Good and Evil. There is Right and there is Wrong. There are no shades of gray. They are pathologically incapable of seeing the world from any other perspective than their own. Empathy is weakness. Compromise is defeat. There is male and there is female and for them there is no other possible identity and to even consider such makes them mad because they simply cannot comprehend any complexity beyond their binary worldview. 

They're mad because others want the same rights, the same privileges, they enjoy.

They are furious because they see those others as less than fully human, as if a pet or a machine rose up one day and demanded equal protection under the law. They measure their self-worth the same way they measure their manhood, as relative to others. In a nation where all are are equal, those who measure human worth as a relative value cannot tell themselves they are exceptional just for being born a certain race or a particular sex or into a privileged family, religion, or station. For these people, equality for all means they are diminished, because the very foundation of their ideology is a zero sum. The books must always balance, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, no exceptions. For them to feel superior, others must have less. There has to be someone to hold in contempt, to look down upon, to hate. Always.

They're mad because those they deem unworthy, subhuman, want to come ... here. 

For them, America is like their miserable selfish religion: it's not Heaven if everyone gets to go. If everyone is Saved, if there are no Left Behind come Judgement Day, then what's the point? The greatest pleasure of their paradise isn't life eternal in the presence of their god, but rather that they get to sit up there in the clouds safe and warm and happy and laugh at all those down below burning in eternal torment. That's how they see America, paradise, with a wall around it to keep all the people their god hates out. 

Speaking of god, they're mad because they're not allowed to impose their miserable religion on the rest of us. 

It's not that they really believe -- because if they did, well, they'd be very different people. Not one of the holy men they hold up as paragons of virtue and piety really believes. Not one of those holy men live the life they demand of us. They wallow in greed, gluttony, avarice, pride, lust, sloth, and their sermons are daily filled with wrath. No, again, it's about power, control, force. It's about bending others to their will. They're enraged when we don't live up their god's law, but they themselves never could -- or even try. 

They're mad that their children might have a better world than they did. They truly seem to believe that if their children do not suffer the deprivations and injustice they themselves did, it will somehow make the next generation soft, weak, unmanly -- because misery and injustice are the only way they can envision strength. Don't show your ass, they tell their children, meaning don't get above yourself, don't think you're better than me, if it was good enough for your father, it's good enough for you. 

Most of these people don't even know why they're mad. 

They literally have to make up things to be mad at. 


They're mad at whatever some rich guy on TV tells them to be mad at, they don't care why. 

They're mad at the war on Christmas. They're mad at the idea of electric cars. They're mad because our roads and bridges might get rebuilt. They're mad because Obama wore a tan suit and likes fancy mustard on his burger. They're mad because other nations no longer bow and scrape at the feet of America. They're mad at science. They're mad because America currently has the lowest unemployment rate since WWII and people don't have to take slave wage jobs if they don't want to. They're mad at the idea of energy that doesn't destroy the environment. They're mad because somebody told them to get a simple and easy vaccine, for free. They're mad at the idea a rich man might have to pay his fair share. They're mad about wind turbines. They're mad anyone should propose any solution to any problem that doesn't involve violence and guns. They're mad a black man took a knee. They're mad about a trade war they started. They're mad because a phony audit they demanded determined that Trump lost the election by even more. They're mad at any face, any language, any culture, any history different than their own. 

They're mad at everything, there is literally nothing that these people aren't mad about. 

They're addicted to being mad. 

They don't know how to be not mad anymore. 

Most of all, they're mad at the idea of community.

They dismiss the very idea of it. 

They hold up their miserable malformed greedy selfishness as some sort of virtue and rage in red-faced yellow-eyed spittle-flecked fury at the very idea of any good greater than themselves.

Most of these people are better off -- even now -- than the majority of human beings at any point in history. They have more freedom, more liberty, more leisure time, more to eat, more luxury, more of everything. They sit at home, screaming at the internet, watching 900 channels on their 70 inch UHD TV, smoking $400 worth of cigarettes each week, while some underpaid gig-economy Door Dasher delivers 5000 calories of Carl's Jr to their front porch, and they feel persecuted, thrown to the lions, diminished, demeaned, because Tucker Carlson told them Joe Biden wants them to have healthcare. 

Maybe that's why they're so mad. 

They don't have anything else to make them feel alive. 














Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Recap: November 30, 2021

 

prat
noun: prat; plural noun: prats
1. an incompetent, stupid, or foolish person; an idiot.
2. a person's buttocks.

This clown. 

This ridiculous, obnoxious, contemptable, capering buffoon. 

This is the face of the Republican Party today. 

This ass, right here. 


No ideas, only obstruction. 

No leadership, instead only bluster, bombast, and threats. 

Arrogantly self-righteous. Violently xenophobic. Confidently uneducated. Inordinately proud of their own miserable ignorance. Wrapped in the flag of dogmatic nationalism, mindless patriotism, and self-righteous piety. Waving a gun and their Bible -- without respect or understanding for either.  

This is what the Republican Party has become: Lauren Boebert. 

By now I'm sure you've heard about Boebert's bigoted "joke."

Boebert was in Colorado, and told her audience that she was getting into an elevator at the Capitol when she saw a Capitol Police Officer running toward the doors "with a look of fear."

Oh no! What could it be! Why was the officer afraid for Lauren Boebert? Why?!

In the story, Boebert responds to the officer's panic for her wellbeing by saying, "I looked to my left and there she is: Ilhan Omar!"

Ilhan Omar! 

A Muslim! 

Beobert dropped the punchline: "And I said, 'well, she does not have a backpack, we should be okay!'"

The audience laughed, of course. 

Hardee har har. 

Omar, who as a child refugee escaped civil war, terrorism, and genocide in Somalia, who came to America specifically because her family believed in the promise of this country, freedom, justice, civil rights, peace, equality, safety, all those things that Republicans like Lauren Boebert claim they revere, the black Muslim woman is a suicide bomber! She can't be trusted! 

She's not really an American. 

Ha ha! See? 

Isn't that hilarious? 

Because vile jokes based on racist stereotypes are goddamn funny, right? 

Well, they are to Republicans anyway. Q.E.D.


Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.
- More Maxims of Mark, Johnson, 1927


Bobo "apologized" for her "joke."

But, of course, the apology was bullshit, a trap. 

Boebert only wanted to get Omar on the phone so she could spew more hate. And when Omar hung up rather than listen to it, Republicans declared victory and bemoaned Omar's "intolerance." 

This is what bullies do. 

This is what the Republican Party has become. 

They attack and harass and terrorize those they defines as "weak," and when they're caught and called out, they declare themselves to be the real victim. 

That's what the Republican Party has become: A rabble of dimwitted goons, bullies, thugs, who perpetually play the victim and pander to the lowest, most base elements of our society. 

It's not just Boebert. 

It's Steve King's comment today. 

It's Marjorie Taylor Geene. 

It's Donald Trump.

It's Kevin McCarthy. 

It's the craven cowardice of an ideology based on hate, fear, and cheap laughs. 

And until the GOP takes responsibility for their own shitty behavior, until Republican leaders (so called leaders anyway) step up and hold members of their own party accountable for their unacceptable hate, until they expel these vile racist dimwitted pandering thugs from their caucus, then those like Lauren Boebert are the face of the Republican Party. 

Lincoln would have beaten these miserable goons with a hickory axe handle. 

Which is why those who think like Lauren Boebert murdered him. 


Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We, of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.
- Abraham Lincoln






Monday, November 22, 2021

Recap: November 22, 2021

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Senator Ted Cruz:

President Biden’s supply chain crisis won’t spare your Thanksgiving sides. Sweet Potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pies are all experiencing shortages throughout the country.

Oh. My. God! Not the sweet potatoes! 


First Joe Biden took away our turkeys and our hams. 

Now he's come for our pie!

And... boxed gravy, apparently. 

You know, I didn't want to straight up call Ted Cruz, a Senator forsooth, a goddamn pandering liar. 

I didn't. 

So I went to the cheapest, low-end grocery store in my town, the place that doesn't know how to order stuff even when there isn't a "supply chain crisis." 

And not just the lowest end store in town, but a damn low end town. This place isn't exactly a hub of commerce and transportation. Hell, I have to drive across the bay into Pensacola just to get a USB cable. So, if there's any place that the shelves ought to be bare, it's Winn Dixie in Milton, Florida. 


Except, the shelves were stocked. 

Turkeys (fresh and frozen, also various parts you could just buy out of the regular freezer if you only want a certain piece of the bird), ducks, ham in five different kinds, yams (canned and fresh), potatoes (russets, yellow, red), produce, pumpkin, condensed milk, brown sugar, broth of every kind imaginable, baked goods and about the only thing missing from this Thanksgiving bonanza was a band of Narraganset come to show you pilgrims how to plant corn in the New World. 

There was even gravy, boxed, canned, and in a jar. In five different flavors, including turkey. 

Turns out, Ted Cruz is a goddamn liar. 

But, just inside the door, there's a big florid guy in a Trump hat and some sort of shirt with eagles and flags and guns shouting into a phone: Ya'll betta git down heya! The shelves is empty!

I'm like, wut?

The shelves are empty? I could see a 1000lbs of turkeys and the guy is literally standing next to a stack of pies high enough to feed the entire nation of Rwanda. But the shelves are empty. Goddamn that Joe Biden!

I mean, this guy can literally see the shelves are not empty with his own eyes, but he's such a programmed tool that he believes Ted Cruz and Tucker Carlson over his own senses. 

These people simply do not exist in the same reality with ... well, reality. 

There was plenty of everything else too. Plenty of butter, milk, eggs, Pop Tarts, frozen burritos. Toilet paper. Tums...

The produce looked a little skanky, but it's Winn Dixie. The produce always looks a little skanky. 

Sometimes a lot skanky. 

Another aisle, another big florid dude shoves in past me and starts grabbing "family" sized bags of Doritos from the end cap. Says to his wife, "Two fer $4.95! We better stock up!" 

He filled up a cart. A whole cart. Two for $4.95. He really likes Doritos, I guess. Better get 'em before Joe Biden does. 

My point being that if you're leaving the store with a whole separate buggy full of Doritos, there ain't no "supply crisis." 


Look here, in addition to the 15 different kinds of Oreos in the the cookie aisle, they had a totally separate display at the front of the store for Christmas Oreos. 

Christmas Oreos. 

"5 cool winter designs!" no less. 

That's like 20 different kinds of Oreos. 

You could have fed the entire Plymouth Colony on nothing but bags of Oreos from this store. 

There are people, too many people in far too many parts of the world right now today struggling to get enough calories just to stay alive. But we got 20 different kinds of Oreos and Family Size Doritos 2-for-$5 and Ted Cruz is mad because he read a Yahoo News article about a shortage of ... gravy in a box. 

I don't know. 

I guess at this point we should just be glad Ted Cruz is tweeting about gravy from Washington D.C. and not Senior Frog's on the beach in Cancun. 

Anyway, I look forward to the Republican plan to fund and train more truck drivers. 


Friday, November 19, 2021

Eclipse

 

That's it.

That's my shot. 





Shot from the Florida Panhandle at the peak of the event, 10" Meade ACF autotracking telescope coupled to a Nikon Z7 using a short Starbossa Z-mount adaptor. Focus is manual via the scope controls, using Focus Peaking in the camera and a DJI drone piloting VR headset coupled to the camera via an HDMI cable. f/8 1/30sec ISO25600. 

It's now 4AM. I'm going to bed. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Announcing Alternative War




Announcing the release of Alternative War, the latest anthology from B Cubed Press




 

Announcing the release of Alternative War, the latest anthology from B Cubed Press

Past, present, and future conflict, those who fight, and what comes after. 

Some science fiction. 

A bit of historical fiction.

Some detective work. 

And a leavening of poetry. 

This mixed genre anthology features all new works from both award winning masters and new writers alike, a talented cast from literally around the globe. Jane Yolen and David Gerrold, Gwyndyn Alexander, Gustavo Bondoni, C.B. Claywell, Karl El-Koura, Rob Francis, Bruce Golden, Philip Brian Hall, James Hancock, Liam Hogan, Tom Howard, Shawn Kobb, Vlora Konushevci, Lita Kurth, Pedro Iniguez, Al Margrave, Alison McBain, D. Thomas Minton, Ann Poore, Anthea Sharp, Marge Simon, Peter B. Tracy, Jeremy Thackray. 

Forward by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, author of The Healer's War

And, oh yeah, one more: Yours Truly. 

That's right. The anthology includes my short story: The Gelding -- a tale of war, robots, evolution, and strange new worlds. 

And yes, before you ask, that is indeed my art on the cover. Thanks to Bob Brown at B Cubed for buying it. 

Available now from Amazon. 


Thursday, November 11, 2021

How The Heroes Die, Veterans Day 2021

 

Please don't thank me for my "service." I was in the military, not the "Service." Service is doing something good. Service is what the person does who fixes your car.  When the word "service" is applied to the military, it helps to justify violence as a method for conflict resolution. Like "defending our freedom," or "bringing democracy," the word "service" is used to lower the barriers of aggression. The military solution to conflict is death and destruction. That's not "service." Call it what it is - the military. If you have to hurt someone to solve a problem, you are the Problem. 
Arnold Stieber, US Army Veteran, 1970

 

I didn’t go to war so that my son could follow.

I didn’t go to war to be thanked for it.

And I certainly didn’t go to war so that I could be called a hero.

Last week, a reader on Facebook asked how I felt about exactly that, being thanked for my military service.

Specifically, I was asked if I agreed with Arnie Stieber, the Vietnam veteran quoted above.

I do.

And I don’t.

Stieber’s experience was not mine.

His time was not my time. His war was not my war. His military was not my military.

The United States and the US military have changed greatly since Vietnam – due in no small part to the efforts and activism of veterans like Arnold Stieber.  While I don’t entirely agree with his position I don’t disagree with it either. I understand completely where he is coming from and I can sympathize with his point of view and I can unreservedly grant that he earned it.

He's entitled to his position, but his position is not mine.

Not exactly.

I don't feel disrespected or diminished if my own service goes unacknowledged.

I don’t feel proud and heroic if it is.

I mostly don’t care if others acknowledge my veteran status or not.

Unlike Stieber and many of his fellows, I wasn’t compelled to serve. I had a choice, Stieber didn’t. War was my profession for more than two decades, I served as both enlisted and as an officer, I joined the military and stayed of my own volition – and that makes all the difference.

As I said in reply to the question, I don't advertise my military service but I don’t try to hide it either. 

I served in peace and in war, I wish for the former and despise the latter. 

Like Stieber, I have little use for those who glorify and promote war as a way to solve the world’s problems.

Unlike Stieber I pragmatically acknowledge that sometimes war is necessary. 

I don't march in parades and I don't go to protests. I don’t wave the flag and I don't attend reunions. 

I’m proud of my service, I treasure some of my experience and try to forget the rest of it. I miss the men and women I served with. I was damned good at what I did and there are days I wish I was still out there doing it – but most days I’m damned glad I’m not. 

No sane man prays for war.

No moral man hopes for death and destruction, not even for his enemies.

Nowadays I’m certain that my haircut and bearing broadcast my status to those paying attention - along with the fact that I often wear the ratty fading sweatshirts from my former commands and so it’s no secret that I’m a veteran. But I emphatically do not feel entitled to thanks from Americans for my military service – or whatever you call it, I’m not inclined to argue the semantics of it.  I went of my own free will and for my own reasons, America owes me nothing for it. I’d like to think America will make good on what I was promised, but I cynically don’t expect it – and more on that in just a minute.

I do not demand respect as my right nor gratitude for my service.

But if thanks are given, I will gladly accept them in the spirit offered and return the compliment. 

If a business offers me a military discount, I will gratefully accept it. If they don't, that's perfectly fine too. 

Choice, freedom to choose, the right to decide to offer thanks or not, well, that's what we were doing out there, defending that. At least that’s what I was doing, others can speak for themselves.

And if you believe in liberty, if you're willing to give your life for it, then you must acknowledge people will use that freedom however they please. Some will use it to thank you for your service.

Personally I think you're a bit of a shitheel as a human being if your response to a simple thank you is a political screed and a lecture on semantics, then again that's your right. As I said, I don’t speak for other veterans.

But me? As I said, I take thanks in the spirit offered and return the compliment, one citizen to another, and it bothers me not at all.

 

But I draw the line at hero.

 

I utterly despise the recent trend towards fawning, blind hero worship of the military.

In the same conversation described above, a commenter proclaimed all veterans “heroes.”

She gushed on and on with glassy-eyed effluvious enthusiasm about “sacrifice” and “patriotism” and a dozen other clich├ęd platitudes and ended her comment by saying that her eyes well up with tears whenever she sees a military member out in public wearing a uniform. 

I asked her not to call me a hero, but I should have just walked away – and after she condescended to tell me what a “real” veteran is, I did, because like Arnie Stieber there are things I just cannot abide.

And hero worship is one of them.

We, most of us veterans, we’re not heroes.

I certainly am not.  Oh, sure, I’ve got a box of decorations in the back of my closet, we all do. Maybe I have a few more decorations than most, a few less than others. Maybe someday long after I’m gone my son will find that box and wonder at those bits of fading cloth and tarnished metal.  Maybe he’ll read the commendations and be proud of his old man, just as I once did.  But goddamn it, I’d far rather have him boggle in horror at the idea of war, I’d far rather have war be so long forgotten that those decorations are nothing but curiosities of a primitive and violent history, one that his generation has long moved beyond.

I didn’t go to war so that my son could follow.

We are not Spartans.

We are not Romans.

We are not Nazis.

We are not, and we should not be, some military society who worships war and glorifies battle as some great heroic ideal and spawns generations of warriors. In America, mothers don’t tell their sons and husbands to come home with their shields or carried upon them.  Or a least they damned well shouldn’t.

We are a free people, we are Americans. For us there should be nothing glorious about war. 

We should honor the soldier, certainly, but we should honor the peacemakers to a far greater degree.

As I’ve said here and elsewhere more times than I can count: war is a dirty horrible business and make no mistake about it. War should be the last resort, when all else has failed and the very safety of liberty is endangered. 

War is hell. War is violent and terrible and immoral. Certainly there may be acts of heroism and valor in war, but there are also endless acts of craven cowardice and ignorant stupidity and wanton violence and vicious cruelty.  War should always be a last resort, embarked upon only under the most dire of necessity and not some goddamned glorious spectacle.

We go to war because we have to, and for no other reason.

While it’s certainly true that, as Orwell and Churchill both said, the nation sleeps snug in its bed only because rough men stand ready to do violence on its behalf, to paint us all as generic “heroes” leaches the word of meaning and power and diminishes those acts that truly are heroic and worthy of great respect.

But it’s much, much worse than that.

To paint all veterans as heroes, superior above other citizens, worthy of worship and compulsory respect, gives lie to the equality of democracy and makes such status enviable.

That, right there, is why Stolen Valor is such a thriving business.

That, right there, is why our society is a brim with military fakers and ersatz war heroes.  They show up at every parade and hang out in front of the VA, they polish their stolen medals to a golden glow and tell stolen war stories replete with glorious battles that exist only in their minds, all with false aw shucks humility and grim steely-eyed false heroism.

And they lap it up, your wide eyed unquestioning admiration, because it feeds their empty souls.

These people are parasites, thriving on our mandatory respect and wide-eyed unconditional hero worship. They exist because of your admiration, without it they would wither and die. But the damage they do is limited and they are typically found out and shamed when their duplicity crosses that of a real veteran.

Far, far worse than the posers, this national hero worship compels the dull-witted and the small and mean to join up for all the wrong reasons.

There is little worse in the ranks, and nothing worse – absolutely nothing – in the officer corps, than those who want to be heroes.

We’ve all encountered them, those of us who served.  The commanders and the lieutenants and the majors who practice their Medal of Honor acceptance speech in front of the shaving mirror each morning, the one that begins, “Thank you Mr. President, I’m sorry all my men were killed, but I’m grateful to accept this award on their behalf…”  We’ve all served under the senior NCO who dreamed of a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart and the tales of glory he would tell to the doe-eyed girls back home who would then coo over his manly scars and jump ready and eager into bed with a hero.

Those are the kind of people who get other soldiers killed.

They’re not there to defend the country, the oath means nothing to them, they crave only glory and the admiration of a grateful nation.

Writ large, this idea makes war itself desirable, for only in such a crucible can heroism be forged.


And then war becomes the norm instead of the exception.


Worst of all: heroes are not people.

Heroes are symbols, objects to be worshiped and admired and fawned over and then forgotten when new ones come along.

Heroes don’t make mistakes. 

Heroes don’t die from friendly fire. 

Heroes don’t bomb a wedding or a school by accident. 

Heroes don’t get PTSD. Heroes don’t come home broken. Heroes don’t wake up screaming covered in sweat, night after night. Heroes don’t need help. Heroes don’t end up on the street. Heroes don’t wonder where their next meal is coming from, or how they’ll pay the mortgage. Heroes don’t end up addicted to booze and drugs trying to cope with the pain. Heroes don’t mind that you look at them with uneasy fear, wondering if, when, they’re going to snap – because heroes don’t snap.

And, after the war, heroes don’t need education or retraining or help buying a house or easy access to VA medical care. In fact, heroes, well, they don’t need any of those things you promised back when you were terrified and desperate for rough men to do violence on your behalf.

Heroes just need a parade and the cheap thanks of a yellow magnet stuck on the back of your car.

Calling us heroes taints your thinking, it biases your viewpoint no differently than painting all veterans as “baby killers” did a generation ago.

Mostly we veterans are just people who came when called and did our best under terrible circumstances.

If you truly wish to honor those who put their own precious selves between home and war’s desolation, then you wouldn’t call them heroes.

Instead you’d make them obsolete.

I didn’t go to war so that my son could follow.

If you want to honor veterans, try living up to the promises you made when you called us to war. That would be a start. Make good on the medical care. Make good on the education. Make good on the support for our families. Pay up and pay up promptly. Hold your elected leaders to account and make them do it or throw the cowardly sons of bitches out of office when they won’t. That would be better than all the empty thanks and the parades and the yellow ribbons.

If you truly wish to honor all the men and women who have served this nation, who have given their lives, who stood ready to do violence in your name, then you would do your utmost to keep our children, indeed all the generations who follow, from having to make the same bitter sacrifice.

Wars are caused by unbridled hate, by intolerant fanaticism, by selfish idealism, by religious extremism, by hunger and poverty and inequality, by bigotry and greed and fear.

If you wish to honor the warrior, truly honor the warrior, then you would do those things which make war less likely.

You would elect leaders who don’t see military action as the first option, or even the second, or the third.

You would elect leaders of reason and judgment, those who are loudly and forcefully reluctant to waste the lives of their fellows and the treasury of their nation.

You would elect leaders who set the example of citizenship, who are willing to listen to each other, to compromise and work together for the good of us all, who don’t go around spewing hate and fear and glassy-eyed fanatical jingoism and simple-minded patriotism.

Yes, you build a strong and well equipped military, of course you do, for defense. You don’t go around finding excuses to use it all the goddamned time. You don’t throw more lives away for political posturing, for imagined slights, for profit, for pride.

More importantly you give equal or greater effort and resources towards those things that make war unnecessary. 

You feed the hungry, you clothe the poor, you heal the sick, you employ the able, you educate the next generation, you pay your taxes, you stop looking at your neighbors as the enemy, you give back, you invest in the future, you dream of the stars, and you remember we’re all in this together. 

If you want to honor veterans, then don’t call them heroes. That’s the easy way out.

If you want to honor veterans, then live up to the ideals they fought to defend.

I didn’t go to war so that my son could follow.

I went with the hope he would never have to.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
― Dwight D. Eisenhower, Soldier, General, President

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Recap: November 7, 2021


Republicans have declared war on Big Bird.

If you need yet another example of how utterly and absolutely insane what's left of the Grand Old Party has become, you need look no further than Ted Cruz:


Fun fact: the Australian army once went to war against emus.  Yes, emus. 

The Aussies were experienced combat troops armed with machine guns. 

Emus are giant murder chickens what look something like an ostrich crossed with Bloom County's Bill The Cat. They have dispositions that are most charitably described as a steady diet of those amphetamines' the Nazis used to make stormtroopers into murderous psychopaths. 

Spoiler: The emus won. Against machine guns. 

I don't know what species Big Bird is, but he looks a bit like a cassowary and those things will kill ya dead and then kick the shit out of what's left just for fun. 

As someone who grew up around geese, which are essentially the closest thing to modern day velociraptors, I'd say maybe rethink this attack on the big bird. 

Then again, you can sort of see Ted Cruz's point. 

I mean, Sesame Street teaches kids about reading, critical thinking, how to be nice to each other, hygiene...

...spelling...


Imagine being mad at a kid's show, because it promoted the very cornerstone of modern medicine and disease prevention by suggesting that getting a vaccine is safe, effective, not scary, and the smart thing to do. 


The US once led global efforts to develop vaccines and eradicate pandemic diseases such as smallpox and polio. Republicans were once proudly on the forefront of efforts by the US government to establish mass vaccination campaigns against common diseases here at home up to and including producing TV shows, radio programs, and written material specifically designed for kids. Hell, Donald Trump himself once touted development of this very vaccine and claimed personal credit for it. But decades of relentless hate radio, for-profit hate religion, and fanatical hate politics treated as if those are rational viewpoints instead of the fact-free lunatic ideology they are, have turned conservatism into nothing but a bunch of frothing red-faced bulging-eyed spittle-flecked raging paste-eaters.

And now they're mad at Big Bird.

Trump may be the Fool King, but Ted Cruz is their clown prince. 

Speaking of Texas and paste-eating, a contingent of what passes for the Republican Party nowadays gathered in Dallas last week for the return of...wait

JFK Jr?

Yes, that's right. The second coming of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Junior.

Son of the late president. Died in a plane crash in 1999 at the age of 38. 

That JFK Jr. 

A large bunch of QAnon believers -- which I am increasingly hard pressed to separate from the rest of Republicans and so I won't bother anymore -- showed up in Dealey Plaza, surrounding the big white X marking the spot where President Kennedy was assassinated, waiting for the Q prophesized return of John Junior. 

See, they apparently believe in a QAnon conspiracy theory which goes: Kennedy Junior faked his own death and spent 20 years in hiding so that he can reemerge in 2021 (SURPRISE!) to be Donald Trump's Vice President when Trump is reinstated (SURPRISE AGAIN!) as America's president because, according to QAnon, who is totally not just some random 14-year-old shitposter from 8-chan, everything that happened after 1871 is illegal and unconstitutional because something something My Pillow Guy gazpacho (SURPISE HAHA!) and therefore Joe Biden's presidency is totally for sure illegal and anyway once Trump is president again he'll step down and Kennedy Junior will then be president and will naturally appoint (MORE SUPRISES!) disgraced lunatic general Mike Flynn his vice president so Trump can go on to be -- I swear I am not making this up -- "King of Kings" as foretold in the Book of Revelation. 

If this doesn't work, Plan B is that Trump will have to run for president like any other schmoo in 2024 and JFK Jr will then be his running mate -- because even if Kennedy is in fact an actual desiccated corpse dead and rotting for 20 years, he'd still be more personable, charismatic, and fresher smelling than Mike Pence. 

So, anyway, there they were, in Dealey Plaza last week, waiting for Junior to arrive.

And so he did. 

You saw it, right? The moment came and suddenly there he was! Flash! Thunder! The earth split open and there he was! That's right, John Fitz Junior, back from the dead! You can see it on the tapes in glorious technicolor! There was a moment of stunned silence, then the crowd went wild with cheers! USA! USA! QANON! QANON! Ken-a-DEE! Ken-a-DEEEEE! Junior looking around, his thick dark hair perfectly styled, his handsome face splitting in a wide smile...

...to revel inch long fangs! Holy shit! There's a price for immortality and that price is the flesh of the living! OMG! OMG! RUUUUUN! Then the screams and the blood...

Well, that's how it would have happened if they let me write it. 

What's that? 

Over the top? 

Heh heh. Yeah. 

You want to talk over the top? You wanna talk horror show? You wanna talk about the flesh eating shambling undead?

Let's talk about Republican reaction to Joe Biden's Infrastructure Plan. 


There it is, Joe Biden's communist takeover of America. 

Roads are communism, folks. 

Roads. Are. Communism. 

Roads, Bridges, highways, passenger and freight railroad, public transit, transportation technology, broadband, public works, schools, airports, the electric grid, water systems, sewage systems, all communism, apparently.

And you thought the bird thing was stupid, right? 

Modern Republicanism is the most morally bankrupt of ideologies.


Call it the McConnell Doctrine. 

Republicans would rather burn the entire nation to the ground and squat in the ashes if passing legislation means all of us benefit rather than just them, just their party and ideology. 

That was why Republicans under Trump never could themselves craft infrastructure legislation -- or, for that matter, deliver their long promised healthcare plan. 

Because they couldn't figure out how to do so in a way that it only benefited them and no one else. 

The only legislation Republicans have been able to pass these last few years is that which penalized and criminalized the people they hate. They literally couldn't do anything else and they've reached the point where they never will. 

They would literally cut off their own nose just to own the libs.

The Party Of Lincoln, that Grand Old Party, has become The Party of Anti-Reality, of Trump, of Limbaugh, of unwashed, science-denying window-licking lunatics and proudly deluded fools who declare war on puppets and who gather in the street to unashamedly share their ridiculous insanity.


The very name, Republican, has become a cruel jape. 

These people are no longer defenders, or even citizens, of The Republic. 

They are the howling barbarians at the gate.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Recap: November 3, 2021

 

This morning, like you I suspect, I'm disappointed.

The election results are not what I'd hoped they'd be today, but I can't honestly say that I am surprised.

I doubt you are either. We are a year into the Biden presidency the big promises are still unfulfilled. There hasn't been enough progress, or any really. Right?  Biden hasn't been able to force through his big agenda.

Trump is out of office but things haven't really gotten better. Not really. Have they? Everywhere you look hate is on the rise, civil rights are under attack, and hysterical conspiracy rules the day.

Naturally, you're disappointed. 

Democrats are disappointed by the lack of progress and Republicans are -- to use a Republican term -- emboldened. 

Republicans are motivated. 

Democrats are not.

Now, it would be great if the previous four years had galvanized America. 

I mean, if America had looked at Trump and said, whoa, hang on, this is nuts. This isn't the future we want, this isn't the world we want to leave our kids. This hard shift towards rightwing extremism, this normalization of lunacy and conspiracy theory as fact, man, history has shown us repeatedly what happens when you go down that road. No. Stop. Back up. We're not having any of that, goddammit. 

But that's not what happened. 

Predictably, that's not what happened. 

Because to a lot of Americans, that future looked good.

Just as that future looked good to ordinary Germans in the first years of the Third Reich. 

America for Americans, right? 

Sure. Who doesn't want that. So long as you get to decide what a real "American" is. 

Democracy for all people. Sounds good. So long as you get to decide which people are "people" and which ones aren't. And so long as they vote in the manner you approve of. So long as your guy and your ideology always wins. For a lot of people, that's the kind of democracy they think they want. 

Law and order so long as you get to decide what the laws are and who they apply to -- and who they don't. So long as that civil order benefits you at the expense of others because for many Americans, rights are a zero-sum and if others get more they feel like they're getting less. Because in a society that values profit above all else, human value is relative and your self-worth is quantified by your perceived superiority to others and so if there's no one to look down on, there's no way to feel good about yourself. Capitalism sucks if everyone has the same value, and that right there is the very crux of their visceral terror at the idea of socialism. 

Peace and prosperity for all, for the whole world, so long as everyone understands who's in charge and that America comes first. So long as those of inferior humanity remember their place. So long as you are the most powerful, because might makes right and a nation's greatness is measured in the size and power of its military and thus its ability to impose its will on the world and compel respect by force

Like the Germans of the 1920s, that's the future a lot of Americans here and now in the 2020s think they want. 

Of course, that's also the future a lot of Americans don't want. 

And enough of the latter showed up in 2020 that we, maybe, changed our future. 

But Joe Biden isn't Barack Obama and his win wasn't a landslide and the future is never certain. 

Biden doesn't inspire. He's not charismatic as Obama was -- or Trump. Biden is just not that kind of guy and his win wasn't so much enthusiasm as it was a repudiation of the future Donald Trump offered America. 

But it was a close thing.

And it's not over. 

And that vision of America described up above is still very much a possibility. 

Biden made some big promises.

Democrats made some big promises.

Their hold on power right now is tenuous at best, as yesterday's election clearly demonstrated. 

But then, it always is. 

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
That quote is often misattributed to Irish statesman Edmund Burke. He never said that, or at least if he did there's no record of it among his prolific writings, but he did say something similar in his 1770 Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents: "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."

They will fall one by one in the contemptible struggle, indeed and the more things change, eh? 

Burke is right. And so is that first quote. 

The only thing necessary for America to become Germany of the 1930 is for us to do nothing. 

To do nothing because we are not inspired. 

To do nothing because we are disappointed. 

To do nothing because Joe Biden, Democrats, made some big promises and they haven't delivered. 

Of course you're disappointed. Of course you are. And of course the opposition is emboldened by your disappointment and the supposed failure of Joe Biden to deliver on his promises. Of course. 

But this is normal. It's only been a year...

What's that? 

Heh. 

Yes, I know. I know. A year is a long, long time in this age of instant gratification, in this age of Twitter and Facebook and the relentless torrent of news and information and disappointment. 

It is. 

But in the grand scheme of things, it's not that long. A lot of you were disappointed by the first year of Obama's presidency too. And Obama had a hell of a lot better support in Congress from his own party than Biden does. 

It's natural, normal, predictable, to be disappointed that Democrats have not, yet, delivered on their great promises. 

Progress is slow. Too damn slow. Of course it is. Especially in the face of fanatical resistance and partisan opposition, when you have to overcome both homegrown conspiracies and foreign influence, the machinations of dark money and invisible influence -- and especially the selfish obstruction of your own, supposed, allies. Pragmatically, you must realize that.  

Nevertheless, we want what we were promised and we're tired of excuses, tired of waiting, are we not? 


Damn right we are. 


Thus, this morning's election results were completely predictable. 

But that future does not have to be our future.  

The election results are a warning to Joe Biden and Democrats, indeed all Americans.

A warning, NOT fate.

Biden and Congressional Democrats need to deliver on their promises, big and small. 

They need to do what it takes, whatever it takes, and deliver voting rights legislation, deliver a modern infrastructure that will serve America for the next 100 years, deliver renewable clean energy independence, deliver good jobs and a living wage, deliver sane and rational international relations and foreign trade, and, yes, they must directly address Conservative concerns regarding immigration and national security (in a manner that we can all live with). 

Some of those things will take years and perhaps another Democratic term and maybe a better leader than Joe Biden, but some of that agenda must happen now (voting rights, for example), or yesterday's election will be the future of America. 

The clock is running out and it's damn easy to give in to disappointment.

But it's in that dark hour when you find out what you're really made of. 

And if you want that better future, then now is the time to be a better citizen.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Election Day

 It's election day. 

Yeah, it's an off year and, yeah, these are small local elections, and yeah, you probably don't care much. 

But these elections matter. 

If you want to keep your democracy, keep your Republic, then every election matters. And these elections, right now, today, matter even more than the big national elections. 


Right now, it's state and local politicians who are every single day,  step by steps big and small, bit by bit, relentlessly advancing the fanatical agenda of absolutism. Look to Florida. Look to Texas. Look to all those places where a dogmatic ideologue in the Governor's office and zealots in the local legislatures have criminalized women's healthcare; taken away the right to vote from those they deem to be of the wrong race, wrong income bracket, wrong political party; imposed their miserable religious ideology in the classrooms and denied your children the opportunity to learn history, science, social systems and political ideas different from their own; and have not only refused to take steps to protect the general welfare during a pandemic, but deliberately and with malice aforethought made things worse in the guise of some idiotic idea of "freedom" and the mindless shallow nationalism of the Patriot.

But you can stop them. 

Today is the day. If you want a better nation, be a better citizen. 

Get after it.