Suppose astronomers had discovered a planet that had similar atmospheric conditions as Earth. Almost identical amounts of nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen and CO2, etc. And it also contained similar types of vegetation and wildlife. Further suppose that our space technology was so advanced that, although this planet was light years away, it could be reached by humans aboard a spacecraft that also could carry a large amount of necessary supplies. How many people worldwide, do you think would volunteer to be on the first spaceship destined for a one-way voyage to that  newly discovered planet. To leave Earth for good and start afresh on colonizing someplace brand new. Would it be in the millions or perhaps even the billions of volunteers. People who have concluded that peace, harmony and human decency on Earth is hopelessly compromised, and beyond redemption, and that the only hope for mankind is try again somewhere else in the universe. Of course, since we are not even close to having that degree of space technology such thinking belongs in fantasy land. Too bad.

One would have thought that after the slaughter by Islamic fanatics at Charlie Hebdo, just a few months back, the French would have been on heightened alert against further acts of terrorism. Sadly, that was not the case, as the recent massacres in Paris so vividly portray. Once again, the forces of death, destruction, misery and repression were allowed to prevail on an unarmed and unsuspecting civilian populace peacefully going about their business. Once again, Islamic-Fascist terrorists were allowed to wreck their havoc. The French have responded by launching a bombing campaign against ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria, but it’s too little, too late. Closing the barn door after the horses have escaped.

Paris was the obvious choice for the Islamic-Jihadists, since it represents everything that they are violently opposed to. The city of lights, considered by many to the most beautiful in the world, with its tree-lined boulevards, outdoor cafes, world class restaurants serving gourmet food and wine, all colorfully lit up at night, is a tribute to the vibrancy of life’s pleasures and potential. The French culture with it’s rich history of philosophy, literature, art, music and other human offerings stands in direct opposition to the Jihadist culture of death and fundamentalism. The French openly debate social, religious, and political issues; whereas the Jihadists seek to brutally terminate anyone seeking to espouse any issue that is not identical to their way of thinking. It was just one more example of where the West values life, while the Jihadists value death.

One has to go back to the Nazi horrors of WWII to find a similar enormity of evil as being perpetrated by Islamic-Jihadism. In WWII, once the world realized that Nazi evil was an all pervading bottomless pit, a determined effort was made by the Allies to destroy every last vestige of Nazism. Every last shrub of Nazi philosophy had to be yanked out by its roots. Every swastika had to be burned to ashes. Every ranking Nazi official was either killed or captured to face trial. If found guilty, they were invariably hung. That type of evil had to be destroyed for all time. And through a highly determined effort, it was. That’s not to say that there aren’t Nazi or Hitler sympathizers roaming the planet today. But by and large, they’re forced to hide in the shadows, thanks to the Allied effort during WWII.

Today, it would require a similar Allied effort through NATO to destroy this present-day fascist evil. Yes, the U.S. would undoubtably have to bear the major burden in such an effort, but it would be the only way to destroy this cancer before it continues to metastasize. ISIS likes to boast that although we may kill hundreds or even thousands of their forces every month through our bombing raids, they are easily replaceable through new recruits continually joining their ranks. ISIS has been remarkably successful in using on-line social networking to, indeed, continually attract new members. But if the core membership of ISIS was destroyed by NATO military action, there wouldn’t be any recruiters left to lure unsuspecting souls into futile battles and eventual death. The key to destroying Islamic-Jihadism lies in totally discrediting it.

The problem is, that at this juncture, there is little will to engage in a military solution to the problem. Certainly not with our present U.S. Administration nor with a majority of the American public. And even less so throughout most of Europe. Yes, it would require boots on the ground as well as bombing raids. Yes, Allied lives would be lost and a large amount of resources expended. But the thing about cancer, if you don’t cut out or otherwise destroy every last cell, it just continues to metastasize.

So, if we don’t engage in serious military action, and it appears that we won’t, at least at the present time, you might want to sharpen those high powered telescopes, and search for a planet that can sustain human life. And then hasten the space technology that would be required to travel the light years it would take for humans to reach such a planet. Maybe relocating on a new planet and starting allover again isn’t such a bad idea.












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The best example of unbridled capitalism here in the U.S., has occurred within the last 10  years in the oil and gas industry, through a process of hydraulic fracturing, or better known as fracking. This process, which uses millions of gallon of water, and a huge array of chemicals, allows energy companies to drill horizontally into shale rock in a manner that releases vast amounts of oil and gas, previously thought to be unreachable. It has supposedly been a huge economic boon to energy giants such as Exxon, as well as to local economies where this type of shale rock is located. For example, North Dakota, previously known only for its cold and snow, found that huge deposits of shale subject to fracking lay beneath its frozen tundra. Hence, energy companies have made a mammoth investment in fracking these ND deposits. Tens of thousands of new jobs were created, as the unemployment rate in that state became virtually non-existent. The same held true for Texas which already had developed an enormous oil and gas industry. Many other states similarly cashed in on the action. With new, huge oil deposits being brought to the surface, the U.S. was able to significantly cut back on importing oil, especially from the volatile Mid-East. Hundreds of thousands of new jobs were created across the country. The price of gas at the filling stations dropped significantly, helping middle-class consumers. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Well, not quite.

Due to the vagaries of the way capitalism functions, serious problems soon started afflicting the oil and gas industry. Because of all this new oil that began flooding the market, the price per barrel, which was over a hundred dollars about 2-3 years ago, has now dropped to less than $50. While this sounds great for car owners, it’s not so great for Exxon and other oil companies, as well as oil exporters such as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Russia. Who cares, as long as I can get cheap gas at the pump, might be your first reaction. Well you should care, because as a result of this world-wide oil glut, thousands of workers who thought they had secure, well-paying jobs in the fracking industry, have suddenly found themselves unemployed. The oil industry has had to significantly reduce its oil exploration and development, laying off a ton of people. And its not just energy companies. By reducing oil extraction and exploration, less orders for heavy rigs, drilling equipment and other huge and expensive machinery have also occurred, causing the producers of such heavy metal to also cutback their payrolls in order to stem the tide of red ink. Adverse reactions from cheap oil have reverberated throughout the entire U.S. and Canadian economies. Under a capitalistic system, what’s good for the goose is apparently not always good for the gander.

While the world has always experienced capitalism to some degree, this form of economic wealth distribution didn’t swing into high gear until the industrial revolution of the 19th century. Huge industrial developers  realized that vast fortunes were to be made by exploiting low and middle-class workers in the energy, railroad and other industries, as well as in the banking and securities trading markets. Most of you are familiar with the term “coolie wages” denoting minuscule amounts paid to low-income workers. But how many know that the term dates back to the middle of the 19th century when people from China and India were imported into the U.S. to perform back-breaking labor for little or no pay. Labor that most Americans didn’t want anything to do with.

Chinese workers were first imported into the U.S.during the 1849 California gold rush. These “coolies” were often victims of thugs and bigots, and were relegated into the most menial of jobs for little or no pay. They lived in the most dismal of shantytowns and ate scraps of food left over by others. Their life-expectency was obviously quite short. In 1865, more Chinese immigrants were imported to help build the Central Pacific Railroad, and were required to perform back-breaking work from dawn to dusk, while earning the most paltry of livings. Far less than what white workers earned while putting in much fewer hours. One could say that our continental, coast-to-coast railroad system was built on the backs of such coolie labor. One could also say that the very cornerstone of our capitalistic system is built on a foundation of exploitation.

Of course, over the past century and a half, the rough edges of U.S. and European capitalistic societies have been considerably smoothened by government welfare, retirement and health care programs. Although there is still significant worker exploitation, those that can’t compete (such as artists, musicians, writers, etc.) or are too old to function under a competitive, labor-intensive, meritocracy demanded by capitalism are often provided for by their government, at least to some extent. More so in Europe than the U.S., however. Those that advocate for capitalism point out that the alternative, i.e. socialism, has been a huge failure wherever its been tried. That’s true for the old USSR, Cuba, North Korea and a few other places. But the Scandinavian countries such as Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland have incorporated much socialism into their economic operations, and seem to thrive quite well. My own belief is that socialism requires people to work for the greater good; and that humans have not yet evolved to that point. They will work for themselves and their families, but not for the greater good. That will require about a few thousand more years of human evolution.

Winston Churchill once said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for every other that’s ever been tried. Substitute the word capitalism in place of democracy, and you’ve about hit the nail on the head.

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In less than 100 days, the first primary voting takes place, to nominate two people, one of which will become the next president of the United States in November 2016. It’s the good old Iowa caucus, where a relatively small handful of people will kick off the voting season by giving a leg up to the winning candidates. I’ve written several times before about how a “caucus” is so bizarre that any third or fourth world banana republic would be too ashamed to employ such a method in choosing their elected officials. Essentially, a few people show up at a usually empty school house on a Saturday, and raise their hands in approval when their preferred candidate name is called. Or maybe they’re asked to stand in an area designated as their candidate’s space, and a head count is taken. Despite the fact that Iowa is a small state to begin with, and only just a fraction of that population bothers to show up and vote in the first place, obviously doesn’t dissuade the media from over-hyping the results of that odd-ball event. The winning candidates will gain “momentum” from this absurdity.

The interesting fact about the coming Iowa caucus, however, is that the latest polls show that Ben Carson has moved into the lead. Ahead of the bloviating, bellicose, bullying that has come to signify Donald Trump’s candidacy. So much for Trump’s supposed invincibility. The reason given by the media for Carson’s lead is that Republicans in Iowa are universally bible-thumpers. Ben Carson is a Seventh-day-Adventist, which is like being a Mormon on steroids. Seventh-day-Adventists make Southern Baptists look like secular humanists.

The Seventh-day Adventist movement started in the 1840s, when a Baptist preacher named William Miller predicted that Jesus would descend and sweep up into heaven those that were his faithful followers. Miller predicted the time and place where this event would occur, and urged those who were pure of heart to congregate at that location at that time. But the kicker was, that to prove one was pure of heart, he or she would have to give away all their earthly possessions, and arrive at the designated area, penniless. Several hundred people did just that, only to be bitterly disappointed when Jesus was a no-show. Seems he got caught up in a game of Texas hold-em with the arch-angels, and completely lost track of time. You know how compelling a good game of poker can become.

Not to be discouraged, a disciple of Miller named Samuel Snow, publicly stated that Miller was essentially right; but he had just miscalculated the time and place where this great ascendency was to transpire. Using more “scientific” methods, Snow gave a new, more precise time and location when the great schlep up to heaven would occur. This time thousands of people showed up at the designated spot, also after giving away all their earthly possessions. Only to be disappointed once again. Seems that Jesus had a rough night and failed to hear the alarm clock go off, thereby missing his appointment. But proving that nothing succeeds like failure, all these shenanigans gave birth to the Church of Seventh-day-Adventists, with about 2 million adherents in the U.S. and about 20 million world-wide. And explaining why Iowa holy-rollers have a great affinity for the Carson candidacy.

The trouble is, that while Ben Carson may have been a brilliant neurosurgeon, he has had no experience in the political arena and has some incredibly naive views of of how the world spins. He has equated Obamacare with the horrors of slavery in this country. He has stated that Jews in Nazi Germany could have avoided the Holocaust if Hitler hadn’t taken their guns away. The problem was gun control, not the darkest evils of Nazism, and Hitler’s fanatical hatred of Jews. Yes, if only the Jews had kept their pistols, they could have fought off the Nazi tanks rolling down their streets to pick them up and send them off to the concentration camps. It seems that every time Carson opens his mouth, more political gaffes come tumbling out.

The rest of the Republican field seems mired down in minutiae. Jeb Bush, who at the outset was supposedly the favorite to become the nominee, has seen his poll numbers sinking faster than my blood-sugar levels when I’ve gone too long without eating. His problem is that he has to keep defending brother George’s actions as president. Especially the whole invasion of Iraq fiasco, where we’re still sunk into that never-ending quagmire to this day. Carly Fiorina surged for awhile but has fallen back now that her record as CEO of Hewlitt-Packard has been exposed. The job she was eventually fired from because of some very bad decisions. Marco Rubio, who probably would be the most charismatic Republican choice, can’t seem to attract enough big money to engage in a viable, high-profile campaign. As I’ve said many times, in U.S. politics, the winner is usually the best candidate that money can buy. If one can’t attract enough big-money interests, their candidacy is done. The rest of the Republican field is comprised of pygmies usually polling at less than one percent. Such as Bobby Jindal, soon to be ex-governor of Louisiana, who is becoming more and more despised by the people of his own state.

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton seems to pretty much have a lock on the nomination now that Veep Joe Biden is out of the picture. Bernie Sanders continues to put on a good show, but in the end, even Democrats are not going to give an avowed Socialist the nomination. The problem is, that with the FBI still investigating her email antics, i.e. putting classified, official government emails on a private server in her home, the Democrats could wind-up with a candidate that is under a Federal felony indictment. Now that would be a first in U.S. political history. Who would the Democrats turn to under that scenario.

So there you have. The latest version of the Ringling Bros., Barnum&Bailey Circus, better known as the American political landscape. Stay tuned, as the circus antics are just beginning.

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It is said that hate is so insidious, that it hollows out from the inside, the container it’s held in. Once a person invests his or her soul in hatred, it’s virtually a bottomless pit that one can rarely crawl out of. That person then becomes a mere shell of a human form, with his or her insides totally corroded and eaten away. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Mid-East, which has become an all-encompassing cauldron for the most deep-seated of hatreds and revenge-seeking. And it’s not just Arab versus Jew. It’s also one sect of Islam trying to destroy a different sect of Islam although both sects pray to Allah with the same level of devotion. For example, in Syria, almost a quarter of a million inhabitants have been slaughtered in an on-going 4 year old civil war pitting the Sunni faction of Islam against the the Shia faction. Yet both sects pray to Allah and generally follow the same Islamic trappings and customs. Similar mortal combats between Shia and Sunni are also occurring in Yemen, Iraq, and Libya. Sadly, when such hatred spills over the top of the vat, people are fated to die. Nowhere, however,  is the lust for hatred and vengeance more pronounced than in Israel and the Palestinian territories. Between Arabs and Jews. As we all know, this has led to an outbreak over the last few weeks of mostly young Palestinians mindlessly attacking  and killing Jews with knives and guns, and in turn, usually being shot dead by Israeli police. The attacks are mainly on civilians peacefully going about their business. So far the death tolls have been about 10 Israelis and 25 Palestinians; but there seems to be no end in sight. The attackers are sometimes as young as 15 or 16. Teenagers willing to so recklessly throw their lives away in an act of delusional fantasy about achieving vengeance against the hated Jews, and martyrdom before Allah. And why not? Arab children are brainwashed from their earliest age to despise Jews, and that their greatest glory would be to become martyrs by killing as many Jews as possible.

The head of the Palestinian territories, Mahmoud Abbas, recently stated that he cherishes every drop of blood spilt in Jerusalem. Arab children from ages 2 or 3 are taught that Jews are to be despised as beasts. That Hebrew rabbis seek to slit the throats of Arab children and drink their blood. That Jews are desecrating Arab holy lands by their occupation, and must be killed or otherwise be driven into the sea in order to re-purify those lands. That Allah’s greatest wish is for martyrdom to be achieved by spilling Jewish blood, and if these children succeed in that objective, a special place in heaven will be set aside for them. Virtually all Moslem political and religious figures throughout the Mid-East preach this same message; and it’s been ongoing since the end of WWII, when the state of Israel was created by the United Nations. Almost 70 years of pure, undiluted hatred and vengeance-seeking that has resulted in nothing but death, destruction and misery for both sides. Almost 70 years of a failed policy that Arab leaders refuse to disown.

The United States position in this long conflict has come to be known as the two-state solution. Have Israel give the Palestinians total control over the West Bank and Gaza, and let them form their own nation. The trouble with that premise is, that in this realm of pure hatred, it’s plainly unworkable. Israel did just that in the Gaza Strip and the result has been 3 wars and the loss of thousands of lives. As soon as Gaza was free of Israeli occupation, the people living there turned over the reigns of government to Hamas, a terrorist organization. Hamas’s first priority was to acquire thousands of rockets that could be launched against Israeli civilian population centers. As I said, they did this 3 times with the same resulting death, destruction and misery for both sides. Hamas’s second priority was to dig 30 mile long tunnels into Israel so their terrorist thugs could sneak across the border and murder Israelis sleeping in their beds. It would appear that there is just too much hatred for a two state solution to be a feasible option.

Nevertheless, the Obama Administration, with the most timid foreign policy objectives of any administration since WWII, continues to push for a two-state solution. It doesn’t seem to matter that under this administration, U.S. foreign policy objectives have been a total disaster. Obama’s failure to act in Syria, when Assad, the butcher, crossed Obama’s red line in the sand, has let to the loss of the 250,000 lives I mentioned earlier. It has led to Russian entry into that war, in behalf of Assad, with virtually no U.S. complaint. It has led to ISIS, Al-Qaida and other assorted terrorist organizations establishing an Islamic “caliphate” in huge chunks of Iraq and Syria, with the most minimal of U.S. counter-actions. To the most brutal and barbaric killings of innocents by these terrorists.To on-going civil wars in Yemen and Libya with no U.S. counter-action. To allowing Russia’s tyrant, Vladimir Putin, to slowly but surely chew up the Ukraine with hardly a peep from U.S. officials. To a deal with Iran that would supposedly prevent it from achieving nuclear bombs, in return for unfreezing about $150 billion of Iranian assets held by U.S. banks. A deal which looks more and more flawed with each passing day. And so it goes.

A two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinan conflict will never materialize because there is just too much hatred, rancor, despair, vengeance-seeking, etc. to allow such a solution. Over the next couple of decades a one-state solution may occur, with Israel absorbing the West Bank with its large Arab population. Jews would still have a narrow majority of the population in such a nation, but with Arab births exceeding the Jewish rate, that majority could easily slip away. When that happens, it would well behoove Israeli Jews to immigrate to the U.S., and move into the vast, unpopulated areas of Nevada, Montana, and other similar states.

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Pope Francis recent visits to the Americas and to the U.S. were considered overwhelming successes by most people in this country as well as those throughout the hemispheres. But there is a large contingent in the U.S., of mainly Republicans and other far-right-wing dingbats that were quite upset about many of the Pope’s remarks and, accordingly, bad-mouthed his actions. The Pope shockingly seemed to put all his emphasis on helping the poor, and his worst heresy was actually advocating to save the ecology of this planet from further desecration. My God, what was he thinking. Surely he must have known that that when Jesus walked the Earth he wore nothing but the finest silk robes embroidered with gold and expensive jewels such as diamonds and rubies. That he and his entourage would only stay in the most elite 5-star hotels. And that his preaching and sermonizing were almost always before corporate CEOs, Boards of Directors, and Hedge Fund Managers where he invariably advocated for trickle-down economics and tax cuts for the rich. No, you say? It was just the opposite? That he and his disciples wore mainly rags and slept in open fields or where some follower could provide them with sleeping quarters. That his sermons always seemed to focus on assisting the poor. Imagine that. It might explain why this pope (unlike previous ones) is so emphatic about identifying and being critical of the worst abuses of our capitalistic form of economics which so heavily tilts toward the rich. Who knows? Some people living outside of right-wing looney-tunesville might actually take his words to heart.

With yet the latest atrocity being committed at a rustic Oregon school by, once again, another deranged individual, the subject of gun control, as always, springs to the forefront. President Obama and other assorted liberals take to the podiums to, predictably decry our appalling lack of gun control legislation, while the National Rifle Association and other gun nuts say the problem is too few guns, and that any tightening of gun control laws would be a violation of their infamous Second Amendment rights. And, sadly, it’s the gun nuts that always seem to carry the day. But there is one set of statistics that need to be pounded into American heads if any progress is to be achieved. At 320 million, the U.S. comprises less than 5% of the world’s population. Yet more than 50% of all the guns that exist on this planet reside in the U.S. That explains it all. The U.S. is awash with guns so that the ensuing chaos that gun proliferation causes, comes as no surprise. A new book on gun control, just out, refers to this situation as the “wellspring of crazy.” It’s hard to top that phrase for imagery.

The main problem here is that the U.S. has a gun fetish. A fetish is a compulsion so strong, that most people that have them cannot rid themselves of it. For example, there are many sexual fetishes such as bondage, sado-masochism, spanking, etc. that are used in role playing. Most are harmless and rarely lead to adverse consequences. But a gun fetish is something else. It becomes a total exercise in fanaticism as shown in the expression of many gun owners that, “if they come after my gun, they’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead fingers.” The American gun fetish probably began when the West was being settled, and the settlers had to often fight off Indian raids or outlaws. Those threats are now gone, but the fetish lives on.

Gun advocates like to point out that those jurisdictions that do have strict gun control laws, like New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago, often have the highest crime and murder rates to go along with those laws. They aver that no matter how strict gun laws are, the bad guys will always be able to get their hands on these weapons. But that argument is superfluous. It does little good for one place to have strict gun laws, if one can merely take a short ride into the next jurisdiction and buy all the guns he or she desires. If Illinois has strict gun control, a short hop over to Indiana will remedy that situation. To be effective gun control must blanket the entire country. One other oddity to those killings in Oregon. One of those murdered was a professor that had relocated to these Oregon boondocks from N.Y. City. I’m sure he felt he was getting out one of largest crime hubs of the country, into the safety of some backwater Rubesville. Funny how fate is always determined to play out the cards it’s holding.

One last item. In the on-going, never-ending war in Afghanistan, the U.S. has just bombed a hospital run by the humanitarian organization known as “Doctors-Without-Borders.” Over 20 people were killed in this brainless, mind-boggling act of ineptitude and carelessness. We could chalk it up to collateral damage, as the war advocates proclaim. I would sooner chalk it up to futility of war in general, however, and U.S. impotence in defeating the Taliban thugs and serial killers we’ve been fighting against-14 years later since we began that war. Although there undoubtably have been wars since the beginning of mankind, the first war recorded in history occurred over 4700 years ago. Not much has changed since then, except for maybe the weaponry.

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I know it’s been a long time since I spoke to all of you, but I’ve been real busy with a lot of issues including some health concerns. Right now, however, I’m just seething over the latest shenanigans going on in the “esteemed” halls of Congress, and I needed a place to vent. So once again, our mutual friend has agreed to let me use his blog to get all the anger out of my system. And this time without his usual boring preamble. So let’s get down to it.

I see that, once again, you fucking morons in Congress are threatening to shut down the government come October 1 because of some cock-a-mamie excuse like funding Planned Parenthood. Unbelievable. You idiots are like serial killers that taunt police by sending them notes saying-“Stop me before I kill again.” You guys just can’t help yourselves. It’s like shutting down the government is in your DNA. So either by not approving new appropriations for the next fiscal year, or by not raising the debt ceiling, our government goes out of business in the next 10 days. And over what? A $500 million outlay to Planned Parenthood? Are you fucking, kidding me. A half billion dollars out of a total annual budget of some $3.6 trillion. You can take that half billion out of the petty cash accounts of most government departments. You can take that half billion out of the DOD’s coffee fund.

Yeah, yeah, I know you’re all riled up over this abortion thing, but shuttering the government is really the height of myopic stupidity. What about the people that depend on government funds for their very lives. What about people on Medicare or Medicaid or who receive disability payments. I assume you’ll put out a notice to them saying-“Please avoid getting sick while the government is closed.” I mean, who does this. Not a single country in the world, from first tier to a fourth rate banana republic does this, even if their parliaments can’t get their acts together. I get it that all you Republicans are hugely pissed off at Obama, first for the Iranian nuclear deal and now over this Planned Parenthood thingy. But look at it this way. The nuke deal with Iran is a bad accord, but it’s better than nothing. Without it, an unrestrained Iran would just plow ahead on their own and build a nuclear arsenal anyway. With the accord, it might slow them down to some extent. And denying Planned Parenthood its chump change isn’t going to do away with abortions in this country. Wake up all you willfully blind bible-thumpers-abortion is here to stay, one way or another.

Anyway, you have the Missus all agitated that we’re not going to get our monthly benefits like Social Security. You know how she worries. She already goes around saying that in order to get elected to Congress you have to have “shit for brains.” Shutting the government down will only reinforce her notions, although I imagine that no matter what, they can’t get much worse. And what about my proclivities. Just imagine how upset Sid and the boys that run the craps tables at Caesars will be, if I fail to come down and make my weekly donations. I would never be forgiven. You Republicans have already lost the black, Hispanic, Asian and any other minority voters, as well most young people. Now you’re going to piss off us older white guys, your one remaining core constituency? Smart. Really smart.

To make matters even worse, you Republicans seem hellbent on making an egotistical prick like Donald Trump your nominee for president. Trump, whose ego is larger than the Grand Canyon, figures he can just bully his way into the presidency. And I know a bully when I see one, from my experiences growing up in the rough neighborhoods of the Bronx, where failure to be tough was not an option. At least not if you wanted to see adulthood. While Trump grew up pampered in a huge penthouse on Park Avenue, and then inherited an extensive real estate empire that was built by his father.  And now he’s browbeating the asses off the Republican spineless wonders that are supposedly trying to win the nomination.

A good example was in the second debate when Trump was suddenly giving discourse on autism and any role that vaccines may play in this tragic affliction. If I had been up on that podium, I would have immediately stated something like-“Well, Doctor Trump, please do enlighten us as to your impressive medical credentials that allows you to pontificate on such a deadly serious biological matter.”  Yet not one of the other candidates had the balls for such a confrontation. Maybe Carly Fiorina has a valid excuse, but what about all the men up there.

Anyway, getting back to Congressional machinations, maybe the morons in the hallowed halls will pull a rabbit out-of-the-hat at the last minute, and do the right thing. Nobody knows, least of all, the Congressional idiots themselves. But they should know that most people are getting real tired of these foibles, and putting an end to them is long overdue. Well I guess I do feel better by venting, so I’ll sign off now before I get in any more hot water. As always I’m: Respectfully yours, Gerald P.

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A woman at a recent campaign rally holds up a huge sign that says-“Thank You Lord Jesus for Donald Trump.” Now Trump may be many things, but the one thing he’s not is a bible-thumper.  Yet, the rather large evangelical community of Christian zealots in this country do appear to be solidly in the Donald’s corner. Hmmnn. Strangely, religious fanaticism and Trump seem to fit together like hand in glove. On the opposite side, a noted Wall Street Journal columnist recently called out Trump for his demagoguery, and compared him to the late tyrannical dictator of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, who ran his country’s economy into the ground before dying of cancer in 2013. In terms of belligerence, bellicosity, and bullying, there are definite similarities between the two men. But I would more likely compare Trump to Vladimir Putin, who runs Russia mafia-style, with himself as the godfather, or boss of bosses. Those on the right who think Trump will have any respect for the U.S. Constitution, or the traditions and practices of U.S. government operations, once he reaches the Oval Office, are in for a rude awakening. Both Chavez and Putin came to power largely through the democratic process, similar to the one we practice in this country. Once in power, however, both men casually tossed aside any semblance of democracy, and became dictators for life. And now we seem to be traveling down this same road.

Of course, the unravelling of American society pales in comparison to the horrors being perpetrated in much of the rest of the world. In the Mid-East, Islamic fascist terrorism is destroying the societies of countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen, thereby creating a huge humanitarian crises. Hundreds of thousands have already been slaughtered by tyrants such as Hafaz Assad in Syria, or by Islamo-Fascist terror organizations such as ISIS or Al-Qaeda. Hundreds of thousands more, trying to escape a similar fate, have attempted to flood into Europe, the nearest port of entry that’s supposedly safe. Thousands have already drowned at sea trying to cross the Mediterranean and reach the shores of Greece, a country, by the way, that itself is drowning under the burden of unaffordable economic debt. The irony is all too transparent. From Greece, the plan for most of these refugees is to move north into the more prosperous nations of Germany and France. But the problem is that most of these European countries are relatively small, and can ill-afford to absorb the tens or hundreds of thousands of Muslim immigrants pouring into their boundaries. The prime minister of Hungry has decried this huge Muslim influx, saying that it will change the very core of Christian prevalence over the European continent. And it probably will. Political battles are going on in virtually every European nation as to whether to admit these desperate immigrants, and if so, how many.

What’s at play here is an unravelling of civilized society as we have known it. When a vacuum is created, evil appears to inevitably move in to fill that vacuum, and those opposing that evil are merely jailed or executed. That vacuum came into existence by the withdrawal of NATO from policing world affairs, primarily in Europe and North Africa. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was created originally to counter the aggressive ambitions of the old Soviet empire, consisted of military forces from primarily the U.S., but also from European countries such as Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the rest of Europe. But with the disintegration of the USSR, NATO began to wither on the vine, if it even exists today, other than on some parchment.

With huge budgetary debt piling up throughout most of Europe, as well as in the U.S., it has become expedient to attempt to achieve savings by cutting back on military hardware and troops. The military resources of virtually every European country is now just a shadow of its former self, and there has been significant decrease in this country as well. Which makes it a prime opportunity for the bad guys to move in and fill the vacuum left by the hollowed forces of the good guys. An opportunity too ripe to pass up. Thus, the Mid-East is in a process of steady disintegration, Europe is being overwhelmed by waves of desperate refugees fleeing for their lives to a continent ill-equipped to absorb them, and the U.S. is pretty much observing from a safe distance, but doing nothing.

Perhaps it’s in the very fabric of the human condition to eventually end up on a course of self-destruction. Winston Churchill once said that a lie travels half way around the world while truth is putting its boots on. The same exact thought could be made about the forces of good and evil. In the late 1930s, the good guys pretty much twiddled their thumbs while Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan nearly destroyed the world. The price paid for late entry into world events was merely in excess of 60 million human lives. Today the U.S. and its allies fiddle while the Mid-East burns. Of course, such conditions create fertile soil for demagogues like Donald Trump to plant the seeds of fear and anger on his quest to be the most powerful person in the world. Reacting out of fear or anger is a sure-fire route for those on the road to perdition. I wonder how Jesus feels, being thanked for the rise of this snake oil salesman.

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I want all of you to know that I’ve just developed this wonderful elixir that will alleviate or cure a host of various medical problems. Its known to reduce or eliminate the pain and suffering from arthritis, rheumatism, sciatica, gout, and many other maladies including diabetes and even cancer. And I’m offering this splendid tonic for only $40 for a month’s supply. It’s really too good a product to pass up. What, no takers? Well, how about this then. I also dabble in real estate and I’m willing to put on the market for a very low price, a bridge that connects Brooklyn with Manhattan. It’s the deal of a lifetime. A deal that you can’t afford to pass up. Still no buyers? Whew, tough crowd. I don’t see why people aren’t jumping to take advantage of these splendid offerings when apparently millions are buying into the same type snake oil that Donald Trump has been peddling. If anything, my promises would appear to be more credible.

For example, Trump promises that as president (a scary premise you can put together in time for Halloween), he will build a nearly 2000 mile long wall on our border with Mexico to keep out those dastardly illegal aliens. But the best part of this scenario is that he will get Mexico to pay the tens or hundreds of billions of dollars such a wall would cost. I can just imagine how this would play out. Trump calls Mexico with his request, and the Mexican president comes on the line and says: “But of course, Señor Trump. Anything for you. We’ll be delighted to furnish you the billions you need to build your wall. We’re rolling in so much cash here in Mexico that we don’t know where to spend it all.” And just like that the wall is built and paid for, almost overnight. Pure, unadulterated snake oil, yet Trump is leading in the polls for the GOP nomination.

To follow this premise to its logical conclusion, say the wall gets built and does bar undocumented migrants from entering our country through our southern border. So what’s next. Will those sneaky illegals then fly to Canada and come in through our porous, nearly 4000 mile long border to the north. Will this necessitate spending more gazillions of dollars for a wall on the Canadian border. What if the illegals get on rafts or dinghies and try to enter from the east or west coasts. More walls to erect, until we’ve totally boxed ourselves in from the rest of the world? Such is the mind-numbing blindness that Trump followers are so heavily infested with. Did I mention that Trump leads in all the polls for the presidency in 2016? At one Trump rally, a woman was holding a big sign over her head that read-“Thank God for Trump.” So let’s look past the hysteria over undocumented aliens, revved up thanks to Trump’s demagoguery and opaque salesmanship, to those pesky, deflating little items known as facts. Facts that demagogues such as Trump truly despise because they tend to deflate their hate filled balloons.

According to experts in the field, the undocumented alien population in the U.S. six years ago stood at about 12.5 million. Due to the economic swan dive the U.S. has experienced over the past 6 years, the illegal population in this country has actually declined to just a tad over 11 million. I guess many that came here figured out that conditions in this country were just as lousy as back home, and self-deported themselves, (as Mitt Romney might say), back to Latin America. With a U.S. population of some 320 million, the 11 million illegals here today represent less than 4% of the total. The fact is that the overwhelming majority of Americans have little or no contact with illegals. Another fact is that a good chunk of of the undocumented worker pool are people that entered this country legally, but who have stayed on after their visas have expired. So much for building those hideous walls.

Another demonization perpetuated by the illegal immigration demagogues concerns the status of “anchor babies.” Supposedly, pregnant  Hispanic women are entering the U.S. illegally, to give birth on U.S. soil, so that their baby has to be granted automatic U.S. citizenship according to the 14th amendment to the U.S. constitution. If the baby is an American citizen, so the argument goes, it’s all the harder to deport that baby’s illegal parents. First off, this occurs in a very few and insignificant instances. Secondly, it’s fascinating to watch all those right-wing fanatics who have been constantly berating the Obama administration for ignoring or flouting a ton of constitutional requirements, now willing to shred the clear and precise language of the 14th amendment, when it suits their purpose. I guess, in the end, it all depends on whose ox is being gored.

To be a successful demagogue several factors have to come into play. First, the aspiring demagogue must be highly skilled at salesmanship. Secondly, there has to be a small, rather defenseless minority within the country that can be demonized and scapegoated as causing the major problems that country is experiencing. That’s how Hitler was able to attain power in Germany during the 1930s. Hitler’s powerful salesmanship abilities were able to convince a well-educated, sophisticated, and cultural German populace that a small, law-abiding, defenseless Jewish minority was the cause of virtually all of that country’s ills at that time. We all know how well that scenario played out. Now Trump is in full throttle mode of demonizing undocumented Hispanics in order to become the most powerful man in the world. Once in power, he promises to have his forces go door-to-door if necessary, to round up 11 million illegals and deport them all back to from whence they came. The similarities with Nazi Germany are unfortunately all too apparent. The question is, will a majority of the U.S. populace be duped by this snake-oil salesman and grant him the power he so desperately seeks.

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Bernie Sanders, Senator from Vermont, is only the third openly avowed Socialist ever to be elected to Congress. The previous two won seats in the House but quickly faded from the scene. The most remarkable attribute about Sanders, however, is that at age 73, he still has the stamina and energy to traipse all over the country as he seeks the Democratic nomination to run for president. And he’s been drawing extremely enthusiastic crowds in the tens of thousands at various campaign rallies across the nation. Crowds that are a lot larger and far more enthused than anything Hillary Clinton has been able to generate thus far. His message of economic populism has resounded among massive segments of the population that believe they are being screwed over by Wall Street sharpies, banking institutions, hedge fund managers, and others with inside knowledge of how to manipulate the U.S. financial markets and economic systems. Basically, Bernie’s platform is one of redistribution of wealth. Take from those living in huge mansions, have private yachts and jets, drive top of the line Mercedes, etc., and give to those forced to live in rat-infested, crime and drug riddled slums, and not knowing when and where their next meal will be eaten. In effect, Bernie’s candidacy is an indictment of the very capitalist system that is the heart and soul of present day economics in the U.S.

Capitalism in this country has failed so many people for so long that massive crowds are turning to listen to Bernie’s message. Crowds that should have made the presumptive Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton, envious. Starting out as a huge underdog, recent polls show that Bernie is now within striking distance of Hillary overall, and is actual ahead of her in some early voting primary states. And why not? Bernie, even at 73, is a vigorous campaigner with a strong message for America, while Hillary is lackluster at best, during her campaign speeches. That might be forgiven where it not for the fact that Hillary has gotten herself entangled in some very messy “scandals” that have provided lots of fodder to her enemies. The latest one, of course, is her e-mail fiasco that has to be the very definition of self-inflicted wounds.

For some inexplicable reason, Hillary decided that she needed a server in her home in order to send and receive e-mails. Who does that? I have been sending and receiving e-mails on my computer for years without installing a server in my house. Beside it being prohibitively expensive, why would I need a server. Granted that Hillary’s e-mail volume vastly exceeds mine, but it still could have been handled without a server. The problem turns out to be that mixed among her private stuff, such as getting ready for Chelsea’s wedding, were also work related e-mails  in accordance with her job as Secretary of State. Critics are claiming that some of the work-related stuff was classified, some as high as top-secret. Processing classified information on a private, unsecured computer is definitely a no-no. To make matters worse, accusations are being made that she deliberately had the e-mails on her server erased so as to cover up the fact that she was processing classified info on an unsecured line. If any of this is true, we’re talking felony crime. Or, perhaps, more like felony stupidity.

Why would someone bent on becoming our first female president indulge in such risky behavior. Everyone down to the lowest mail clerk knows that any official government business, classified or otherwise, is the property of only the government, and only designated officials operating under strict rules have the right of disposal. But the Clintons, going back to their days in Arkansas, have a pattern of such dangerous undertakings. Besides Bill’s extra-marital dalliances, both Clinton’s were involved in some highly questionable financial schemes that edged right up to the line of illegality. Once in the White House, there was, of course, the whole Monica Lewinski fiasco. The only thing that saved Bill from being thrown out of office was Republican overreach. When the House voted to impeach him, Bill Clinton become a hugely sympathetic figure with the American public, and his approval ratings skyrocketed. Much to the GOP’s chagrin, its effort to have Bill removed from the White House totally backfired . A lesson they haven’t forgotten when there was some talk of impeaching Barack Obama.

Now, however, with this latest flare-up over Hillary’s e-mails, Democrats are becoming very frightened she will be inherently un-electable. That her campaign will go down in flames. This is also one of the reasons that Bernie Sanders is beginning to look more and more viable. But most people still are fixated on the fact that it is highly unlikely that a Socialist candidate can win the election. So Democratic pros are now turning to Vice-President Joe Biden to ride in on his white stead and save the day for them. Now, Biden is one of the most decent and honorable men in modern day American politics. The problem is, that besides being gaffe-prone, he’s rather colorless and endures a charisma deficiency. More importantly, however, he has suffered more tragedy in his life than most people can bear.

Many years ago, he lost his wife and infant daughter who were killed in a car accident. And just recently he lost his beautiful son, Beau Biden, age 45, to brain cancer. Beau was Attorney-General of Delaware, and every bit as decent and personable as his father. No parent should have to undergo that kind of nightmare. But the question is, after suffering such loss, would Joe Biden have the fortitude to mount an exhausting and depleting campaign for the U.S. presidency. Probably against the likes of a Donald Trump. So, as I’ve written before, the Democrats are caught between a rock and a hard place. And if they don’t figure it out soon, we could see the bellicosity and bullying of a bloviating Donald Trump in the White House for the next 4 to 8 years.

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I’ve written before about Joey, our pet cat who is now 9 years old (middle-age for cats.) Joey has white and grey fur, sparkling blue eyes, and a bushy tail that seems to be in perpetual motion whenever she’s excited. But the most distinctive feature about Joey is that she’s a non-stop kvetcher. If she’s displeased about something, we will  hear about it in no uncertain terms. I don’t believe our previous cat, who was with us for 18 plus years, meowed more than a half dozen times during that period. But with Joey, it’s just the opposite. She started kvetching the first morning after we brought her home from the shelter as a 12 week-old kitten. I understood that she was upset because for her previous 12 weeks of existence, she was surrounded by probably hundreds of homeless cats, to say nothing of her mother and siblings. Now all her little pals were gone, and there were just these two strange looming figures towering over her.

To aver that Joey is doted on, pampered, and just spoiled rotten would be a vast understatement. She lives in pleasant surroundings, is well-fed, receives “treats” periodically throughout the day, receives fresh water twice a day, has her litter box cleaned as necessary, and gets periodic out-door time in our backyard each day. If the wife and I leave her alone for a few hours, say to go to dinner and a movie, she’s a nervous wreck. We have to pet and kitchy- koo her endlessly to soothe her frazzled nerves when we return home. But still Joey is unhappy, and kvetches away to let us know about it. And why is that you might ask.

Well, it’s because we don’t allow her to roam freely over the entire neighborhood as she so desperately desires. Besides it being verboten by our community regulations, her life would be in peril because of the wildlife inherent in this area of the country. Coyotes and bobcats exist in large numbers out here in the desert, and would enjoy nothing better than tearing apart a defenseless cat for lunch or dinner. One of them already did that to a rabbit it had trapped on our front porch.  What a delightful mess that was to clean up. Unfortunately, Joey is too innocent and naive to understand such dangers, or why her out-door time is restricted to supervised periods in our fenced-in backyard. And so she continuously kvetches away.

It has struck me, however, that American society has become a lot like Joey, always kvetching about one thing or another. Poll-after-poll in recent years has shown that two-thirds or more of the population is unhappy with the direction this country is headed. Some polls show that more than 70% are saying that the U.S. is on the wrong track, or that their children will have a bleaker or poorer future than they have had. So, you might ask, what is driving this sort of pessimism. As always, one has to return to those glorious days of yesteryear (as the Lone Ranger might have put it) to find the answers. Not as far back as when people had to traipse across the entire country in horse-driven covered wagons. Just a generation or so back to the 1980s.

In the 1980s, there were no cell phones, texts, apps, or calls for Uber to pick you up, etc. If you wanted to call someone, it had to be from a land line, and would connect only if the other party was at home. Computers were mysterious gadgets only located in offices to be used for business purposes. The first home computers started coming on the market around 1980, and were bulky, clumsy hunks of metal boxes. Hardly anyone bothered to get one. The internet, if it existed then, was in it’s infancy. The operating systems for these new computers were so slow and archaic, that one was tempted to claw his or her eyes out while waiting for a transaction to be completed. Cell phones and home computers didn’t start to take off until about the mid-1990s. Cable TV was also in its infancy a generation ago. And it wasn’t just electronics. Both high and lower priced cars were usually gas guzzlers, often prone to mechanical breakdowns. Today’s cars are vastly more reliable and energy-efficient. The same is true for home appliances, which use far less electricity or gas while giving greatly improved performances. I could go on, but you get the picture. So why all the kvetching.

Well, it’s about the economy, stupid, you might say. So, if that’s true, this time we only have to go back 6 years to 2009. If you’ll remember, the economy was crumbling under the weight of a vastly over-inflated housing market. The unemployment rate shot up to 10.5%. Today, it’s down to 5.3%. It seemed as if almost the entire housing market was “underwater,” i.e. homeowner’s mortgages war far higher than the property could sell for. People, by the droves, were abandoning their homes, i.e. walking away and leaving the banks holding what became useless paper. Today, the term-mortgages underwater- is seldom used as the housing market has begun to stabilize, with reality prices headed back up. Of course, there are still serious economic weaknesses, such as stagnant wages for middle class workers, or our mounting national debt. But compared to where we were a mere 6 years ago, vast strides have been accomplished.

Well, you might further say, if it’s not the economy, then it’s about foreign affairs. Yes, the threat of terrorism from Mid-Eastern Islamic fanatics is a constant worry, as well as, a rather poorly drafted nuclear agreement with Iran. But we should be comforted by the knowledge that we have the military capability to destroy both the Islamic-Jihadist infrastructure, as well as Iran’s nuclear capabilities should we decide to so deploy our forces. Perhaps the next president might decide to do just that.

Don’t get me wrong. This country has some very deep-seated problems, which I will be the first one to attest to. Almost all my blogs have been to examine those problems, and perhaps offer-up potential solutions. It may take a lengthy span of time and evolution, but most of the serious stuff troubling us today is solvable through rationality and wisdom. So when something like 70% of Americans pessimistically believe our future in indeed dark and bleak, I can’t help but feel that they’re acting a lot like my cat Joey. Welcome to the USA, the kvetching nation.

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