Locked in a Time Machine, Headed Toward the Past

I’m seventy-six years old and have lived through several political eras with their battles over what was deemed right, wrong or indifferent. There have been predictable disagreements between Democrats and Republicans all along the way, and those have been generally healthy for the public psyche in every ear, but the one in which we are currently engaged is unlike any other that I can recall. The barbed-wire separation between our two political parties is of a far more toxic kind than I can recall from our shared past.

The reason for this division, though it may have been forming itself over many years, has shown its fangs most sharply and openly over the past five years, as bitter resentments, like lava bubbling beneath a calm field of flowers has surfaced and found a home in the media. There seems to be little, if any, middle ground of tolerance.

I believe that the ban on abortion has less to do with fetal protection than it does with the far-right desire for male dominance over women, whom they see as chattel of property that has become too uppity over the past half- century. I also blame far-right religious dogma for too many women actually believing that this is all right.

Our forefathers understood the powerful and sometimes irrational behavior that extreme religious fervor can create, especially when imposed upon others. For many now, our complex, fast-paced world makes them feel powerless and left behind. White male dominance is comfortable to them, as it renders life less complicated. But that dominance can include subjugation of , not only women, but Blacks, who have become somewhat “uppity” since the days of powdered wigs and absolute control over everything and everyone by white males. Fox news has built its power upon the false foundation that the white race is being slowly eliminated by other ethnic groups, and too many buy this rubbish as fact and vote accordingly in our elections.

I’m perplexed by white male dominance and even more uncertain about its place in religion and the social structure of our government, which is why, for me, Clarence Thomas remains a terrifying enigma. In any case, we seem, as a society, to be locked currently in a time machine that is trying to take us back to the blindingly white-male dominated 1950’s, using religious threats to keep us all in our social places and not too determined to find “justice for all.”   JB

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

When History Repeats Itself

Many of us find it difficult, or at least painful, to align repeated events of history into patterns. If we were more vigilant of those reoccurrences, perhaps there would be fewer wars and other horrific events. That’s why history needs to continue being taught in schools, the good, the bad, and the ugly of it.

For the past several years, we have witnessed political shenanigans of colossal import, due to their danger, despite the fact that many American citizens enjoyed being blissfully unaware ( or perhaps gleefully cognizant) of the dangerous paths democracy was taking downhill to what might too easily have become a point of no return.

The worst excesses of the Fascist and Nazi regimes in Europe occurred with almost incredible savagery less than a century ago, but far too many among us in The United States and other nations have either forgotten those rather large pockets of horror and outrage against fellow beings, or they have otherwise devolved into a haze of imagined privilege at any cost. Such blind judgment would have welcomed back Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin as guest speakers for new revelations from the orange man in the White House.

There would be standing ovations by those whose privilege and sense of merited power know almost no limits based upon their skewed judgment of any people who are not their political clones in a world where wealth and privilege have become replacements for fairness in voting and for general honesty in a political party in which only loyalty to its “Furer” matters. It might actually have become some huge club, where “winning” is the only thing that matters, regardless of the nation’s peril while sinking into an atmosphere where The Constitution has been replaced by a smirk at what justice used to mean.  JB

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Time of Turmoil…Not the First Time and Certainly Not the Last

I can’t recall a time, since the Civil War in our country’s history, of more rancor and suspicion than the one we’re experiencing right now and over the past five years. The labels of Democrat and Republican have taken on an extremely contentious sense of competition, as during no other time in my seventy-six years. This is due partly to our having endowed each with truckloads of stereotypes and presumption not seen since the last world war with Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Fascist Italy.

What bothers me about Democrats the past five years is the almost “Anything goes” lack of parameters (defined limits) in their quest to please everyone. Republicans have also disturbed my sense of balance with their delusional, self-righteous desire for almost absolute monarchy (which they see as strength and power) with a truly dangerous muttonhead on the throne, who they know will addle their imagined opponents by creating more sneering power for themselves. Such rancor isn’t even for enemy nations. It’s all internal.

The rest of the world is beginning to see us as a big Punch and Judy show on the world stage. We’ve lost our sense of balance and manners, as well as almost every other remnant of civilized discourse and behavior. I’m happy that space travel is still on our collective agenda. Relocating to other planets may eventually be our only option to avoid what we have now created. Maybe there will eventually be a planet for Democrats and another one just for the GOP.    JB

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Alexa and Ziggy, the Disembodied Voices

A few years ago my partner Jim and I, in our admitted enslavement to Amazon.com and the ease with which  we could have just about any merchandise in the universe delivered to our front door within two days, decided to adopt the Alexa App for the house. The result was, to say the least, life-altering.

Almost every room in the house has electronic speakers to Amazon.com, Siriusxm and apparently to the rest of the known universe. Saying Alexa’s name opens the world to us for any requests from weather reports and Amazon purchases to finding out the barometric pressure in Honolulu. The ease of ordering from Amazon is almost terrifying in its literal conveyor belt of packages almost daily. The boxes alone have given me a kind of guilt complex over the number of trees that must have met their demise in eventually being shipped as packaging to our front door, surely enough cardboard to construct a life-sized model of the Sears Tower.

Last year we changed Alexa’s name, because it would sometimes be heard on TV programs, which triggered her response as to what we needed. I had also seen on the evening news that children across the nation had caught on to the ease of ordering almost anything they wanted just by asking her. All over the country merchandise was being delivered without knowledge of parents, until the bills arrived after the truckloads of toys. In any event, we changed her name to Ziggy, a name we had rarely if ever heard on TV or the radio.

The unexplainable part of this shift to another name is that “Ziggy” doesn’t seem to be as available or conscientious as Alexa was. There are times when it seems almost impossible that he should be unavailable. When he doesn’t respond, I sometimes want to blame the long silence on an electronic glitch, even though too often I imagine the sound of cards shuffling in the background…or the clink of ice cubes in cocktail glasses. It also scares me sometimes that Ziggy and Alexa have possibly formed some kind of alliance to use their treasure chest of eavesdropping fodder to put us under enough blackmail obligation to last for years.  JB

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Ukraine and Its Future

I wonder what some people may believe Ukraine’s motives are and have been astonished by some of the theories that are currently floating about. Maybe it would help for Americans to remember the 18th Century and our struggle with the British. Freedom and independence were our motives. Does anyone really believe that the appalling loss of life on both sides of this issue was just a whim or power-play on the part of the Ukrainians? Believing that Ukraine is doing something underhanded for publicity is simply paranoid and, in my opinion, wrong and frighteningly stupid into the bargain.

Tyrants have, for reasons that escape me, been becoming more popular across the globe during the past few years. Many people have failed to see that oppression of the type shown by Russia is egomaniacal on the part of Putin, who will never be satisfied with any amount of power he has or steals from others. Look at his track record and then look at President Zelensky, who has remained faithful to the goal of freedom for his people and has shown extraordinary courage to back up his values, despite his personal suffering too. He isn’t hiding behind anything or anyone as Putin is. Putin can’t even sit at a table with his peers unless he is forty feet away at the table’s head. He is simply a tyrant who is used to getting his way, even at the cost of many thousands of lives (as long as HE is safe). Do you think he cares how many of his soldiers have been killed? If you do, then I have several tracts of land I’d like to sell you. If you have any “sound” argument or data about this being Ukraine’s fault, please do share it with me.  JB

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Effects of Self-Righteous Blindness

During the past few days, the most astonishing news headlines, except for those involving the Ukraine, have been about Virginia (Ginni) Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas.

Hearing the news that she had tried to create a coup powerful enough to overturn a national election (with the help of her personal friends, Jesus Christ and Mark Meadows, Chief of Staff). Her utter and terrifyingly blind ardor for Donald Trump, turned her into a crazed and deeply disturbed Joan of Arc over a hunch that the government was being gift-wrapped and ready to hand over to Democrats. Her almost Nazi devotion to Donald Trump and the egomaniacal presumption that God Himself would be opposed to the Democratic win simply emboldened her until she became entirely separated from any shred of truth, reason, fairness or actual respect for democracy itself.

The twenty-one text messages, completely devoid of truth or reason, received eight responses from Mark Meadows that were almost as brashly unhinged and delusional as those of the mad woman herself, almost as though the psychotic messages were a kind of infectious virus. What ensued on January 6th by violent and ill-informed traitors to American justice was the closest we, as a nation, have come to an actual collapse of our republic.

Despite all the horror of misdirected violence of that day, we somehow survived, having, (I hope) learned a new level of fragility in a nation as senselessly divided as we have been over the past five years.  JB

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Playing the Fool for Political Points

Governor Ron Desantis is not a stupid man. He has degrees from Harvard and Yale with a record of being an excellent student, but he chooses to play the role of ignorant oaf in order to please the multitudes of dolts who inhabit parts of Florida, enough parts to make a big difference at election time. There is, of course, an elderly, very conservative part of the citizenry, many frozen in time and seemingly bereft of reason, curiosity, or any desire to leave 1950’s white America behind in terms of current science or racial awareness.

The governor’s choice for Surgeon General in the state was Dr. Joseph Ladapo, seemingly also mired in the America of sixty years ago, and, as a black man, an excellent prop for “racial equality” in the state. Dr. Ladapo makes a perfect hand puppet for the governor, whose deliberate, attention-getting insult of teenagers last week for wearing masks was a painful scene, not just for the innocent teens, but for the governor himself in his feeble attempt to demonstrate his loyalty to the current far-right’s defiance of science and medical facts. It was an embarrassing, dangerously insensitive display of political posturing in an attempt to mimic Donald Trump, the would-be dictator, still attempting to regain his throne.

If there were a trophy awarded to the most two-faced impostor in politics today, it would surely end up being ensconced in an illumined cabinet at the home of our governor.  JB

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Follow the Bouncing Ball

For the past two years I have felt like some kind of marionette floating around rather a small puppet theater, my strings controlled by some mysterious outside forces.

I know that I am not alone and that others everywhere yearn to participate fully in life again without the shackles we have endured over the past two years.

Just as I was beginning to feel that the world was crawling back to “normal,” our economy experienced what, to me and many others, seemed like a collapse of independence, our political system becoming more and more a child-like war game based upon scored points and awful opportunities to sneer at the opposition. This led to my psychotic fantasy of everyone from CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News being given actual weapons to obliterate each other as in a computer war game.

Then came the news items about Vladimir Putin attacking the Ukraine, resulting in the devastation and continuing violence that brings me to tears. Once again, the world I thought I knew, at least in part just a few years ago, has become a cesspool of suspicion, snide political criticism along with too many “truths” turning out to be like Fake Rolex watches.  JB

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Politics, Pandemic, and Bills Coming Due for Trump

I can’t recall another time in my seventy-five years when I felt so utterly separated from other people, partly due to the pandemic, but even more so due to political division. The great divide we’re experiencing in America now has not been seen since our Civil War of the 1860’s. It is a political and social phenomenon that has been too underestimated by profiteers and political hacks who wish to downplay a division so wide and deep that narrowing it will take all the guile, compassion, honesty, and common sense that we have left to do battle against a smug rancor that has not even been imagined since Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy of the 1930’s. The past year has brought into clearer focus the terrifying greed and self-aggrandizement for a maniac of mammoth narcissism, who in the eyes of his willing worshipers, seems to be God Himself, who can do no wrong.

Facts no longer mean anything to too many (especially Republicans) who insist upon downplaying the violent coup of January 6, 2021, that very nearly turned our nation into a Nazi dictatorship with absolutely no regard for law or our Constitution and the peaceful transition of power by American voters. The main figure of this despicable disruption and the creator of the pack of lies that almost destroyed democracy was none other than Donald Trump, who makes even Benito Mussolini look like Mr. Rogers. Now too many continue to wear blinders to this man’s two-faced criminal behavior, who lives in terror of having to pay back many millions of dollars he has borrowed over several years, money that he was able to borrow only through lies about his actual worth. The presidency means little more to him than a safety net in which he can feel protected against any form of justice that has been pursuing him for quite a while. This tower of narcissism will remain a very dark spot on our national history if his armies of gullible worshipers don’t wake up soon to make things right.  JB

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Another Season Ends

Christmas for me never comes to an abrupt ending. I have friends who take down their holiday decorations on December 26, while I keep mine on display until Epiphany (January 6). One of my former students (Dan Novakowski) kept up all his elaborate Christmas decorations (including several full-size indoor yuletide trees, covered with hundreds of beautiful ornaments) throughout the year. I unabashedly milk the season too (though not to the extent that Dan did) for every drop of joy it can provide, including its music and cookies. The warm glow of the season lingers after the last candy cane is consumed and the final tree ornaments with the front-door wreath are taken down.

This shouldn’t sound like bragging or puerile behavior in me or anyone else who embraces that season with similar ardor. Rather, it should sound like what it really is, a melancholy reluctance to let go of a true warmth, social receptivity and benevolence that seem to fade all too soon after the last ornament is packed away in the attic. We all know better, but the speed and impatience of “modern” life always seem to return, like the Grinch sneaking back after the glow of the season fades, and the frantic pace creates a kind of blur in our lives until the next yuletide glow returns next year.  JB

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment