Will We Survive?

What would you do if your life partner was suddenly blown out of a window—or a cave—by an unseasonal winter hurricane, and disappeared in the tempest?

What would you do if there were no telephones, cellphones, internet, anything remotely electronic? What if most of the world’s population had died from the latest pandemic, or the  wild climate?  Or, driven homicidal, murdering others, before the disease killed them.

What would you do if you were one of the few survivors?  If your only alternative was to find wild food, or abandoned stores? 

Eve traipsed back to their home cave, with her twelve year old refugee companion, though she knew that her lover, Dawit, could not be awaiting her there. Food was. 

The hurricane was not the end of him; Dawit is Eve’s soulmate. She begins to dream….

“Will We Survive?” wrestles with how people manage, when technology has collapsed. While some may want to control everyone, like Putin, most do not. In this rocky land, a new cooperative community may form. It would be unlike the underground settlements, dominated by their billionaire owners. The undergrounders succumb to the plague through their own aggression. 

Cooperation may aid survival: terror and war destroys any chance of it.

Pardon Trump?

Some people were talking about whether Biden should pardon Trump!

Joe said: “There’s No Way in Hell I’d Ever Pardon Trump,” but that was before he became President. That was when the question was posed. 

Why in God’s name, would anyone even think that, unless they were hopeless followers of said Trump? Further, a pardon pre-supposes a crime pardoned. Trump would never openly admit that he violated the 14th Amendment, section 3, or any other crime.

The list of his past crimes, before and during his presidency are long enough, and DJT has wriggled out of every one. Why not this one?

We, the People should say, No! This grifter has gotten away with too much. No Pardon!

Pardoning Trump would put us all in danger. 

Trump should be banned from all Federal public offices, not pardoned. Donald Trump broke the 14th Amendment, as did his Jan. 6th followers and co-conspirators. All of them should be banned from Federal public office. That includes Congresspeople, etc. who have been confirmed as participants/conspirators in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection.

A pardon would be a political disaster. It might be popular with Trump followers, but it would lose votes. For those who are Trump followers, rabid right-wing Republicans, a pardon would not win their votes for Democrats, even for a pardon-compromised Biden. Democratic voters would be furious enough to stay home on election day.

More importantly, a pardon for Trump would legitimate overthrowing elections one doesn’t like. The only reason Trump insists he won the election is that he hates losing, has always hated losers, and has always insisted he was a winner.

In his mind, he just could NOT have lost. And, in his mind, that justifies seizing election machinery and changing the outcome of the election.

That’s not democracy; that’s Fascism.

Trump was never democratically inclined. He always rejected the idea that “those people” should be allowed to vote.

“Those people” being black and brown—and maybe Jews, as well. Whoever is not white, not Christian should not be considered American. They’re the only reason why those Democrats could ever win an election. Most Republicans believe that.

Fulfilling that perception, justifies racial, class, religious discrimination, and loss of citizenship, i.e the right to vote.

Further, it’s clear that Trump does not accept limitations on Presidential power, when he wields it. He is a natural authoritarian. Once elected, he’d find whatever ways he could, to keep his position for life. Elections? Just control them, like Putin, or Orban, or Hitler.

If Trump were pardoned, and then “won” a Presidential election through the rigging of the machinery his party has managed to legislate over most of the states, it would almost parallel Adolf Hitler’s rise to power in Germany in 1933.

When his party won local elections, Hitler was appointed head of state, because the ruling class thought he was popular and harmless, so they could control him—again, a parallel to Trump.

The outcome for the US, ultimately, if Trump were “elected,” could be worse than Hitler’s. Not just causing the devastation of WWII and the Holocaust, but causing, accelerating, the devastation of the world, not just Europe and East Asia, through not attempting to mitigate the global climate crisis, but denying its existence, instead.

Wouldn’t be surprised if Trump expanded private concentration camps for unwanted foreigners and non-whites as well; he’s been against all those ‘others’ all his life, a true racist.

A true disciple of Der Fuhrer.

I’m mystified as to why so many millions are smitten by this transparently obvious grifter, who’s also an economic shark, poser, clever, intentionally ignorant, unpleasant and openly mean, demands loyalty but doesn’t give it, and is erratic in his attention.

He’s a celebrity, who cashed in on his notoriety for decades. and invented new ways to make scads of money, by losing it and going bankrupt. Thereby liquidating most of his debt—not paying workers and contractors), and keeping his valuable real estate, valued to his liking.

Whether he’s a multi-billionaire, or only a multi-millionaire, he lives as if he’s the former—gold faucets, etc.

How did he earn this? Daddy gave him, literally, at least a hundred million dollars. He’s lost more than that, but also talked his way perhaps to amassing a few billions.

So, why and how does DJT become the tribune of the disaffected, and the rural out of it?

Have you ever seen another politician so entertainingly emote, use his face to express a gamut of emotions, from outrage to fear, to sneer, to bellowing his triumph, to caricaturing a  sincere smile?

Perhaps he has such a following because he’s entertaining, not because of substance, but with resentment assumed of anyone else, but especially Democrats, and ‘others.’


The real conundrum is how can you wrest the millions who support this monster from his stranglehold on them? 

Or persuade them that there can be a collective good—like wearing a mask during Covid, to not only to protect yourself, but to protect others. 

Sounds like Socialism!

What Democrats Should Do Now ?

So, here is the disaster we’re embarking on now, with disaffected voters voting for insurrectionists and unknowns, because the Democrats don’t seem to know what to do, in order to appeal to the majority.

One question is: Is there a majority? In other words, are Americans too confused, unsatisfied, angry, fearful, to even know what they want? If so, there is no viable majority.

What can Democrats do in response?

I think the best they (we) can offer is responding to recognized problems—need for income supports, family leave, higher livable pay, etc. in return for mask and vac mandates?

I’m arguing, that the only way to get control over the pandemic are masks, distancing, and vaccines, because we won’t be able to return to “normal” until the pandemic is reduced to just an inconvenience for a few.

That won’t happen, until vaccines and masking, etc. reduce cases to a few a day.

If people see that this is a successful strategy, they (enough?) will stop their wholesale opposition to anything Democrats propose, or try. And begin to see the benefits (that Republicans are blocking).

But a real problem is the differing understandings of reality.

If a stolen Presidential election is their understanding of reality (70+% of Republicans) then we have a big problem.

There does seem to be no way to disabuse such people. With Fox, OAN and NewsMax all reinforcing the “Steal” story, and the anti-everything Democrats, that leaves a lot of people convinced that only the Right is at all believable.

Then, it doesn’t matter what the Dems do, as far as those people are concerned. We will need to appeal to all the others, but ignore the Trumpists, unless we can identify a policy/or problem that could help disabuse them and gain their support.

The school problem demonstrates the complications.

If you mandate masking and vaccines?

Vaccines may be easier, to promote as a way back to normality, when masks and distancing will no longer be necessary.

One way to promote vaccines, is to offer benefits: 14 days after vaccination, no masks necessary for all recipients, nor social distancing—

Unless new surges of the virus overtake us.

That’s just happened in the UK and the EU, because the Delta variant is so infectious. It also could happen in the rejectionist states, especially in the South: Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana.…

We have to emphasize that we MUST respond to any unexpected surges of Covid. This is not arbitrary: masking and vaccines do work: they reduce the spread and severity of the disease. Pretending that there’s no problem DOES NOT WORK! Covid 19 has killed more people than any other modern disease. It is dangerous.

People and parties that promote no restrictions and no response should be held responsible for the attendant cases and deaths. In effect they have blood on their hands. A case has been made that Trump’s reluctant, inadequate response to Covid is responsible for 40,000 deaths that could have been avoided.

Biden has attempted more responsible responses, but Covid is a wily, dangerous adversary, so they’ve not all been so successful.

Mostly, that is true because states like Florida have refused to cooperate (banning mask and vaccine mandates, for example, and pretending the pandemic is nothing to worry about, compared to the costs of the response). In other words, arguing that we can’t afford lockdowns or virtual schooling. We can’t afford to prevent people from dying? Especially young kids?

Democrats should campaign on that! Governments should protect their citizens, not pretend that there isn’t a dangerous disease roaming the nation.

What we should really do is campaign against Covid 19, and put out the idea that anyone who pretends that the virus isn’t dangerous and doesn’t need to be responded to with different social rules, etc. is actually un-patriotic and dangerous to everyone, including themselves.

What, are you not willing to get a vaccine, proven safe by more than 390 million Americans? Only .0021% of recipients died (118 out of 56,245) while on these vaccines ( most likely not from the vaccines), not clear if the vaccines helped, or hindered them. How many died from not having vaccines?  In Colorado 189 unvaccinated died in August, while only 60 vaccinated died. Rejection is just acting blindly.

We can’t protect the unvaccinated, and they blame us for insisting on making people take the vaccine! And saying you have to wear masks inside.

Funny, they don’t blame the unvaccinated if their infection spreads to others, just blame the Government because we’re still subject to the spread of this deadly disease.

So, a lot of anti-vac, anti-Democrat sentiment is because the Dems can’t do magic: making the virus go away without taking the actions that would help make it go away.

Perhaps, if Democrats advance the Reconciliation bill of $1.78 trillion, and it begins to take effect, more of the disaffected will see that Democrats are actually trying to solve problems we all are aware of, while Republicans will only block almost all action of this kind, not act to make people’s lives any better.

But in order to pass the Reconciliation bill, all Democratic Senators need to vote for it, yet Manchin and Sinema are still withholding their support!

If only the Democrats in their caucus could make these two see: not only will their obstruction make it more likely that Republicans and Trump take away their majorities in 2022, but their actions, ironically, will be most damaging to their two respective states: West Virginia (flooding) and Arizona (deadly heat spells).

One thing Democrats should try to impress upon Manchin: coal is not coming back, because it’s not only too polluting, but it’s also more expensive than wind, solar, oil or gas. Therefore his efforts to protect the coal industry will ultimately be ineffective and very costly to his constituents.

If he went along with the Build Back Better bill, his constituents would be eligible for aid, tuition, etc. to learn the needed skills for the better jobs that de-carbonization will require.

It’s even possible, that by next year many West Virginians would be thankful that they can get new, better paying, much less dangerous, “green” jobs, if Build Back Better is finally passed and implemented.

And in Arizona, the BBB would provide something similar: new jobs, new skills and substantive responses to the killing heat, for example. Other Democrats should point out to Senator Sinema that someone else could campaign on that, and take away her seat, if she continues to block action on the bill. There is already a Primary Sinema organization collecting money for a candidate to run against her.

Give Don’t Worry About Why

There are so many emails asking for donations, so that the donor will help elect—progressives in my case—but the general election for Congressional and state seats is not until next November (not this November), and the donation is urgent, because of the Xth police killing, or the most recent outrage, or the Rep’s or Dem’s (depending on your email stream) outrageous bill, act, appearance, which is why you must give to us NOW.

During the past election cycle, there was a much clearer reason for donations: the urgency of defeating the other side.

Now there are, regrettably, so many PAC’s raising money in small internet pools, with a Red or Blue flavor. They have to grasp at current issues and outrages as reasons to give, so they can—fill in the blanks, do something—in the future.

Really, PAC world, you gotta come up with better answers to the question: ’Why I should give money to you, or your cause, and what are you going to do with this money?  Have a campaign bash, buy TV ads, hire regional staff?

PAC’s are organized around virtually any issue, but they’re not pushing those issues, when they’re using a current scandal to raise money. So, you must give NOW, so that your progressive (or conservative) Congressperson/Senator/Governor, etc. votes the right way to solve the issue, whatever it is. Or is thrown out if he/she doesn’t do as demanded, but using current issues, especially, the first response to their respective constituents, is damnation to the wrong-doers and then seek donations from their supporters: that’s what they’re there for.

The most twisted approach is to cite the outrage committed by the other side (whether it’s Government/or opposition) and then propose donations to elect Congresspeople, or Senators, to prevent the outrage from continuing, even if the next election is more than a year off, and its result more than two years distant.

Now, there appears to be an urgency built into the whole system of fundraising that may justify the PAC’s approach. Republicans have used their side’s polarization and extremism, kept at fever pitch by the beaten but defiant DJT, to raise huge amounts of campaign cash.

It may be true that the progressive side has to ramp up funds and organizing to counter the GOP strategy.

My argument with the strategy: it justifies massive fundraising and suggests that the issue at hand will be solved, once the fundraiser raises enough money to counter the aggressive tactics of the other side. Logically, there is a disconnect between the outrages perpetrated by the other side right now, and counting on ‘flipping’ red seats or blue seats in an election more than a year away.

Democrats appear to be at a disadvantage in this contest. The GOP can easily raise millions of dollars from a (relatively) few funders: wealthy people, billionaires and corporations. Democrats need to mount a long, tiring effort to raise competing funds from millions of not-wealthy donors like me. The small donations we can afford don’t go anywhere near the hundreds of millions easily gathered up in large fancy fundraisers.

The other disadvantages Democrats face: highly gerrymandered states and districts controlled by Republicans, and their state legislatures that (so far) appear able to pass voter suppression laws to prevent Democratic voters (Blacks, Latinx, immigrants, other ethnic minorities and the poor) from voting.

The likely result of a GOP success: elections and seats won by a minority of votes: it’s how Trump, GW Bush and HW Bush all got elected, carrying the Electoral College with fewer votes than cast for Democrats and fewer votes in states, controlled by GOP minorities successfully carrying out voter suppression of potential majorities against them.

Doesn’t look like Democracy to me.

Is there a solution? One that expands voting rights and citizen participation in their governance? The closest we’ve come, so far, is HR1/S1, a sweeping election reform bill that would ban gerrymandering and other voter suppression rules, while making it easier for people to vote: to register and to vote and for your vote to count. 

Even in my CD in NY, it was consciously drawn to be a Republican district. Our Black Democratic Congressman (Delgado) was able to overcome the gerrymander only because the District had changed enough that it is now a “swing” district.

GOP fundraisers will urgently fundraise against HR1/S1 as an existential threat to their ability to win elections with fewer votes, their ability in gerrymandering to select their voters and reject those, like Blacks and Latinx, who can be expected to vote for Democrats, instead.       

The problem is: the GOP can block S1’s passing with a simple filibuster, and there is very little likelihood that any Republican Senator would vote for it, let alone the 10 needed to overcome the filibuster.

It’s true that the filibuster was used historically to maintain segregation and racial exclusion from power, which is why there is only one solution to this problem: abolish the filibuster, or its use in bills like S1. The exception would be if there were some way, like the Reconciliation process, to overcome it. But voting is not a budgetary issue; it’s a political one. 

Whether the ruling Democrats can abolish the filibuster this session, or not, will determine whether we maintain a democratic system, or are stuck with a white supremacist system, instead.                                                                                         

Act V as in Shakespeare

The real world of politics at the moment is being described as parallels to Shakespeare in Lear and Richard III, and that now we come to the crescendo of catastrophe that is Act V in so many of Shakespeare’s tragedies. They don’t end well, the ‘hero’ doesn’t, anyway.

And the central character is Donald J Trump, who cannot, will not, absolutely refuses, to admit even the possibility that Joe Biden won and he lost. 

The heroic King cannot be wrong.

And now, he’s trying to ‘persuade’ Governors, or Secretaries of State to certify his win to the electors of their state! Proof he won: he says so. Couldn’t possibly have lost. 

There, the President of these ‘United’ States says so, so, you Governor, or Secretary, you should do what I tell you.

If that isn’t attempt to coerce election fraud, I dunno what would be.

The point is, and a few more Republicans are beginning to get this: the guy is going bananas and he could be politically radioactive. 

A prominent right-wing movement among Georgia Republicans is to campaign for boycotting this corrupt election (like the other one, remember, the one counted and recounted, and signature checked, etc, in which no fraud was found). 

We’ll see if he does more than glance at his two incumbent Senate candidates he’s supposed to be campaigning for.

After some perfunctory “wonderful” and “extraordinary” flailed towards them, endorsing them and then, he doesn’t think the way his strategists think. 

They think he should campaign for the Senators, to continue his heritage. But that would mean the unthinkable: admission of defeat.

Odds are he’ll veer full on the stolen election and it’s all rigged, because he really won.

Sort of reinforces the hardliners boycott campaign.

Democrats are keeping their fingers crossed.

And I’ve given 20’s and recurring’s to Ossoff and Warnock and I’ve got my fingers crossed, too.

But my small donations are among thousands, millions,  to support a restoration of sanity and a progressive vision for our future. While most givers are probably white, middle income or above, they are spiced by growing numbers of black and brown and women, as well as men.

Those thousands, or few millions from our side, are competing with Republican groups and funds, raising perhaps more than a billion from billionaires, corporations, interest groups….

Which kind of numbers will work, I wonder.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

So Trump went to Georgia (Valdosta in the south) for a Trump rally (hordes jammed and unmasked), even though he lost the election. He was there, nominally to boost the campaigns of Senators Loeffler and Perdue (both corrupt and craven with Trump), but he didn’t spend much time urging his people to vote for them.

Most of his time, as I predicted above, was spent complaining that he won the election; that it was stolen by “massive” cheating, that even the Republican Governor and Secretary of State are not going to defend him and that the elections were rigged. There were chants of “Stop the Steal” that he approved of. He all but implied that the January run-off would probably be rigged too. He didn’t say “don’t vote,” but he sure made a good case for it for those voters on the far right who are pushing the boycott meme.

As I wrote, yesterday, Democrats have their fingers crossed.

Another Conspiracy Theory?

The latest conspiracy theory has been put out by Dick Morris, “former Democratic strategist,” in the Clinton admin. He turned on Bill Clinton in 1999 and has been on the “other side” ever since.

He now claims that the increase in votes in cities like Atlanta and Detroit are much larger than population increases, so he claims ballot stuffing in all of them: a Democrat conspiracy. He’s now signed on with the conservative news org, Newsmax, maybe on the strength of this theory?

There is another explanation: the kind of get out the vote and mobilization that Stacey Abrams was about in Georgia was also successful in these other cities: why? In part due to the Black Lives Matter movement, mobilizing black and brown people to the polls as a response to the obvious efforts to suppress their votes. And also a response to the apparent police effort to suppress black people, period: mobilized by the killings or abuse of all the victims like Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Seems like a rational response to me: no need for a conspiracy to stuff ballots. Black and brown people may have felt impelled to vote in numbers they never had before. And political activists probably ginned them up.

Hope that works in the Georgia runoffs, too.

And not all the increase in votes in those places was for Democrats: Trump actually appears to have gained % share among minorities’ votes in these cities, as counter-intuitive as that seems.

But now, with Michigan’s and Georgia’s certification of the votes, finally, GSA’s Emily Murphy has certified that Joe is President Elect, even if DJT still refuses to concede. So, the transition can now proceed: that’s important. Trump hasn’t conceded, but at least he’s ‘allowing’ Emily to release the transition funds, etc.

So, what the hell is Trump trying to accomplish?

The likelihood is that his attempts to overturn the election results are doomed, and even his closest staff can see that, but that poses the question. Why does he continue?

I think it’s to hold onto his fame, notoriety, and the public’s attention for as long as he’s able, since public attention/adoration is what he craves, always. And to him its AWFUL that he’s been beaten by “Sleepy Joe” Biden. He still can’t wrap his mind around it, and meantime, his FOLLOWERS are raising money for his doomed lawsuits against the election. 

But he could also use that money in the future, for the other kind of lawsuits he’s already facing in defeat, the ones that have been and will be brought against him, some from NY, but also some because as ex-President he’s indictable, whereas he was given a pass during his whole term by the DOJ’s no indictment of President rule.

Trump was already crazy, I think, but this situation makes him even crazier, and possibly unpredictable and dangerous.

Will a significant portion of his 70+ million voters remain his followers, or will they abandon him, when they see he’s not a ‘winner;’ he’s a ‘loser?’

It’s a crucial question: we could be looking at the start of the equivalent of the Peronist movement in Argentina, which, long after Juan and Eva Peron, still is a major party in that country.

Peronism didn’t help Argentina. It may be one of the reasons why the country did not advance into a developed nation after WWII.

It doesn’t look as if Trumpism will enhance the USA, either. We’ve already suffered more Covid deaths and cases (and probably damage to the health of many survivors), than virtually any other country, and who knows whether Biden will be able to bring our former allies back on board, looking to the US for leadership–instead of Xi’s China.

Even economic recovery will be more difficult given the nation’s polarization, much exacerbated by Trump’s legacy.

But, at least, he won’t be leading America’s decline even further.

How do Republicans “Think?”

I received, a letter in the mail, (not personal) from Kevin McCarthy, the Republican Minority leader in the US House.

He prefaced the letter with this: “The Democrats are trying to use the Chinese coronavirus as a pathetic excuse to force their socialist agenda on the American people. Since seizing power (!) the Socialist Democrats have dragged the American people through the most partisan and least credible impeachment in American history.”

Enclosed was also a “survey” of presumably Republican voters, (I don’t know how he got my name and address, since I only voted for one Republican in my life, long ago: Jake Javits) and of course, at the end there was a suggestion for how much to donate—up to $1000.

His reason for the survey: “If we don’t act fast and unite behind President Trump’s plans to rebuild the economy and ensure for a fair election…in a fair fight against the Do-Nothing Democrats, the freedoms that you and I enjoy will be gone forever.”

What plans? might be a legitimate question. Trump has no platform, no published or stated agenda, aside for his strident Law and Order message.

As I read the letter and answered the survey (I don’t think I’ll send it), I kept on thinking: does Congressman McCarthy live on the same planet? Does he really, really believe these stories? He represents a district (Cal 23rd) that is predominantly agricultural, but is also a major oil producer, and a producer of renewable energy, but it also includes part of LA County with large military installations. 

When I started to fill out his survey, I thought to myself, he must have made up those details all by himself (an example in a survey question). 

“Do you think we should stop the Socialist “Green New Deal,” which will ban airline travel, forbid air conditioning and force people to walk to work?”

McCarthy has also renamed the opposition as the Socialist Democrats, which is kind of laughable.

Here’s one that’s even crazier: Do you oppose the Democrat-supported “Born Alive Abortions” legislation that would make infanticide legal in America?

 I figured McCarthy made that one up with the help of an Irish priest. Actually, he twisted the meaning of the latest (Republican) bill, which mandated necessary care to insure the survival of a baby, but as Senator Kaine pointed out the bill was unnecessary, because a 2002 law passed by unanimous consent had already outlawed “infanticide” anywhere in the country.

When you see the importance Trump’s/GOP’s tax scam is believed to be by people like Congressman McCarthy, it is pathetic to read this question: Do you support Republican efforts in the House to cut spending, balance the budget and reduce the national debt?

Didn’t the GOP tax cut increase the deficit? But that increased profits and wealth….

On the backs of everyone else. Billions, possibly trillions of dollars have been transferred through legislation like this: tax cuts, loopholes like the depletion allowance, financing services by regressive taxes like Sales and Excise, paid for disproportionately by the poorest of the poor.

Republicans aren’t racists, of course. It’s just that those “minorities” happen to be poor. And the R’s believe in “free” enterprise and hard work. Obviously if you’re underpaid, or under-protected from Covid, that’s your fault.

The reason for asking for donations: to “make sure we have the critical resources we need to fight against voter fraud and the Socialist Revolution led by the radical left.”

The Socialist Revolution includes?

“Bernie Sanders’ brainchild “Medicare for All,” which will cost $3.3 trillion per year and make private health insurance illegal.”

Note: none of these details are in anything but a draft bill that would obviously have to be negotiated.

“The Socialist “Green New Deal,” which will ban air conditioning in your home, make air travel illegal and impose a new 70% tax on hardworking Americans.”

Here, McCarthy adds a new wrinkle, the 70% tax, which he appears to have made up after he wrote the made up details that are in the preface to his letter—but he left out having to walk to work!

Free College for All, adding billions to our national debt for our children and grandchildren to pay.

There’s a simple solution to the putative debt noted above: repealing the Republicans’ tax cut scam that added billions to the national debt in order to enrich wealthy corporations and the very richest among us. And, by the way, only the stockholders’ wealth was increased, dramatically, since most of the resulting windfalls went to them, not investments, when corporations cashed in stocks in response to the new law.

The last part of the “Socialist Revolution” McCarthy is warning against was proposed by some leftwing activists: “Abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), putting the security and safety of Americans in danger.”

But abolition per se is not part of the Democrat’s agenda. Reform certainly is: ICE is a rogue organization encouraged by right-wing extremists like Steve Miller, Trump’s longstanding White supremacist advisor. It is likely that most Americans do not approve of forced family separations, but despite the public outrage, ICE’s separations and other outrages continue.

To underscore the importance of McCarthy’s appeal, he concludes: “That’s not all. We are not only fighting against the radical socialists in the House, like Nancy Pelosi and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but we are engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the media, who are their willing accomplices.”

In other words, everybody is against the poor, besieged Republicans, even though both the Presidency and the Senate are controlled by them—as well as Fox News, Sinclair news, and a whole panoply of rabid right-wing propaganda (“news”) organs.

After all, they have to go to battle against the “massive, well-funded Pelosi-Democrat political machine.”

I swear, these are direct quotes from the letter and survey, even though they read like a parody.

Republicans really do think this way!


Bhimbetka Caves outside of Bhopal: paintings from 4000-30,000 BC


I have seen the effects of almost unbridled growth. In India.

It isn’t pretty and it isn’t good for people, either.

With the exception of the British Empire’s cantonments, cities in India were never planned. They grew; they grow, like octopi. When I was interviewing people in Jabalpur back in 1970, I had an object lesson in what unplanned development meant. I had addresses and names, but the addresses were building numbers, not streets, because the streets were really just meandering spaces between buildings and the numbers were in order of when the building was built, not some rational numerical order down a straight street. The only way to find somebody was to ask someone who knew you, trusted you, or someone with you. 

My interpreter/informant, Shyam, an orthodox Brahmin, saw someone across what might have passed as a street. He hailed him, muttering an aside to me, “he’s a classmate—and he lives here.”

His friend came over to me, shook my hand, chuckling. “They think you are CD, or something. They send you on wild goose? chase. I will ask, and they will tell me. No worry.”

Within ten minutes, we were welcomed to my first power-weaving small business on the sample, Shyam’s friend introduced us and the proprietor looked pleased that we’d come. And he helped us find the next businessman on the sample, when we’d finished.

While new parts of cities, like the new Kochi, and the new Sagar, have relatively straight streets, there are no regulations enforced that prevent people from putting up any sign, of any size, building extensions out into the street, or shelters for unlicensed shops. In the oldest continuously inhabited city, Varanasi, there are no traffic lights. There are free-for-alls at every intersection, even ones where police try valiantly to direct traffic (they don’t succeed). Motorcycles outnumber cars, pedestrians equal motorcycles; trucks and buses vie for space; cows and bulls wander imperturbably down streets and everyone avoids them, even stops for them. Traffic stops for little else. But, at least the free-for-all at the intersections are all in extreme slow motion.

India was developing rapidly, before the pandemic: averaging over 7% growth in GDP per year, but it’s not planned, not regulated; it’s out of control. It looks like what rapid, unregulated development looks like. It’s not  pretty.

Delhi, Mumbai, even Agra, had air pollution that was visible; people had hacking coughs, some wore face-masks. Even in Darjeeling, and in Sagar in the virtual center of the subcontinent, air pollution was present. Only out in the hinterlands, far from mega-cities was the air somewhat clean (Delhi 25 million, Mumbai 23 million, even Bhopal in central India 3.3 million).

Development (via the Union Carbide explosion) killed our driver’s father in Bhopal, when he was 2, and his mother 10 years later.  (Note: the American corporation responsible never paid for the damage). Mr Asif had to quit school at age 12 to feed his remaining family.

Development is killing people every day. Many Indians expressed dismay at what was happening to their land. Houses, huts, shops, temples, mosques, churches, mega-malls, hucksters under awnings, hotels, all sprout almost spontaneously along any right of way, whether it be a straight street, a boulevard, a highway, or a meandering alley. Traffic is incessant all day, an assault of motorcycles, a flood of people, cars, trucks–many way overloaded–cows, bulls and even dogs. Opposing lanes keep shifting, but there are usually two discernible lanes, except at an intersection, where it’s a free-for-all in slow motion. Cars, buses, motorcycles, three-wheeled taxis slowly converge, cows and un-wheeled people, dart in and out between vehicles. Lanes get seriously blurred. So do the edges of the roadway.

It was in one of those free-for-alls that a motorcyclist, coming from behind, accelerating his way through what he saw as a hole in the mass of traffic ahead of him, grazed inches of skin off my arm. After a quick visit to a clinic, I wore a large bandage for about a week. I had been as far over to the side of the road as I could manage, skirting around trucks or taxis parked halfway into the road, following a guide.

In Darjeeling we had a guide, Amit, who lives in a village in the valley below. He told us that he won’t sell his ancestral home and land, but that people all around him have moved out, have become absentee landlords. All are happy to sell to any developer, as long as the price is right.

There are no regulations, or regulations enforced, that would prevent almost any kind of development, anywhere. Amit said that in the monsoon, all the drainage of the new construction wells up as sewage in the streets.

Further, climate change is worrisome: flowers blooming now that should be later, marked changes in rainfall—if the monsoon fails most will starve—warm and cold weather—Darjeeling is subtropical, but high in the hills. Our view of the Himalayas was completely blocked by clouds and mist the whole time we were there—and maybe pollution from neighboring Nepal and Sikkim added to the clouds.

When we drove from Delhi’s Ring Road to Agra, about 4 hours on the road, there was nowhere along the way, even in what looked like the pastoral Gangetic plain, heavily cultivated, that the haze of pollution went away. Most of the air pollution was from either Delhi or Agra (the latter a little over 1.5 million in 2011, probably closer to 2 million now), but a lot of pollution was from brick kiln production out in the hinterland, burning coal to feed the building boom.

Neither climate change nor development are kind to human beings, or other living things, especially when India has no control over either. The people are wonderful: kind, patient, friendly, helpful, but many expressed anxiety and helplessness about what was happening to their land.

It’s what unbridled growth looks like, like the “beautiful” modern buildings thrown helter-skelter, next to huts, tiny shops, jerry-built apartment towers along a crowded highway, or the piles of trash, some being eaten by the wandering cattle. Trash is also burning, adding to air pollution.

India is a vision of what the US could look like if Trump and the GOP are successful in eviscerating all regulations and all environmental rules.

However, there is one crucial difference: when I worked in India in 1970, the population was about 450 million (100 million more than the US now). Now, India has 1.324 billion people, almost three times US figures, and on a territory about 1/3 the US mainland.

Further, India is getting even hotter than it was already, with temperatures on the Gangetic plain frequently climbing above 120 F. How long will 1.324 billion people be able to survive there?

Will humans leave barren deserts and poisoned wastelands?

I haven’t mentioned the Modi Government, until now. Narendra Modi was (is?) a Hindu extremist, member of the RSS, a former member of which assassinated Gandhi. He organized the Bharatiya Janata Party in Gujarat as an RSS assignment. Now, the BJP rules India and most of its states. 

Modi, leading the BJP swept most of India in the 2019 election, increasing his majority, while still not carrying my favorite state: Kerala, still proudly Communist.

The BJP, like the Hindu party I encountered in Madhya Pradesh 48 years ago, is pro-business and pro-American (Nixon, then, Trump, now).

Modi reinforced his Hindu nationalist image, by locking down rebellious Kashmir, revoking state-hood and imposing Federal rule. Kashmir is 67% Muslim.

He has also posed the question, whether Muslims, anywhere in India, are really citizens, He’s set up barriers to repatriating any Muslim refugees from neighboring countries, but no barriers for Hindus. Like Trump, he divides, but it’s not “the Left” pounded by Trump, but a whole religious group,171.7 million, who date back, in some areas, to the 7th century. The rest of today’s Muslims are the result of successive Muslim conquests until the Mughal conquest (1520), its court and armies, and all those who converted for the advantages it offered them (including liberation from a low caste).

They are neither a movement, nor a race; they are a religion, but now it seems, while Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and even Christians are acceptable to the RSS’s idea of Hindutva (roughly translated as Hindu-ness), Muslims are a foreign religion. They don’t have Hindutva.

Modi has done poorly managing the pandemic. First, abruptly, closing everything down. Cases stayed low. Then people began to starve, and/or flee, or rebel. So, he opened everything up, and two weeks later, Covid exploded, in all the cities, first of all. Public health spokes-people say India is on a trajectory, with the disease, that could overtake the mismanaged US, in numbers of cases and deaths.

Modi and Trump got along; pals for two events. Modi also rules with the kind of suddenness  we’ve become familiar with in Trump. Like his retirement of the most used rupee denominations, to stop ‘black money.”

The currency “reform” didn’t work, but it wasn’t a political disaster, just an economic set-back. Modi was fighting against “black money,” so many thought it must’ve been a good thing. His charisma is somewhat (consciously?) reminiscent of Gandhi as political holy man, albeit a very skilled politician when it comes to exciting his followers, and bringing more on board.

The BJP doesn’t control the state of Kerala, Hindus, Muslims and Christians live there in apparent harmony: they have been doing so since the 7th century, even celebrating each other’s religious holidays,  but the BJP still tries to drive them apart.

As far as his economic policies go, Modi is for deregulation, (much needed in India after  the corrupt “Indian Socialism” of the Congress, bound up, literally, in red tape) (the term red tape, and the practice of tying files in it, was created by the British Raj, but the Congress government “got rid of” the red tape: changing the tape color to blue.). Modi’s also for protecting his friends, cronies and Indian billionaires. He says he’s “pro-business.”

The likelihood is that his government will continue to appeal to the super-rich, and continue to allow development to go on unregulated. But with Covid19, it’s likely that India’s huge population will be trimmed of many of the most vulnerable people.

Inequality will worsen. The environment will be even further compromised.

On a more positive note: the Communist government in Kerala built the first completely solar-powered airport, in Kochi.

LIFE AT 75 (1st Posted 2015)

“You’re old now,” my 28-year old daughter (my youngest) told me on my birthday. She’s into extreme sports.

“You don’t look old; I took you for 55.” A sample comment from people who don’t know me.

I am lucky to have relatively good health. I hike and garden in the summer, ski in the winter, but I no longer fell, haul, cut and split firewood in the winter, in part because last year I sold the forest land that was my firewood supply and didn’t replace my woods truck when it broke down.

Relatively good health depends on health care, however, and on Medicare. I’ve been treated for prostate cancer through radiation and would have had to go heavily into debt if it weren’t for good insurance coverage–and a radiologist who is a real human being.

Appearances can also be deceiving.  I’m nearly blind in one eye; I bruise ridiculously easily; I had a persistent cold for the whole month of December, and I seem to be vulnerable to every cold that comes along. Last summer,  I ended up in the hospital with acute Lyme Disease and Babesiosis. I was told that when I entered the acute disease ward, I was the sickest one there. However, at least one patient died from the ward  during my 5-day stay.

I had long-term Lyme two years before and had to have a 9-week course of intravenous antibiotics.

Do I cover up to prevent tick bites? I spend as much time outside as I can, but I do not cover up. In my experience, nothing prevents ticks from catching a ride, but clothes give them more purchase, and more places to hide (underneath them). I’ve had at least three tick bites so far this year (June, 2014), but in each case I felt them early enough (I hope) that I was able to remove them within about an hour of contact. They itch as soon as they penetrate my skin.

[added in 2020: I now wear a pre-treated pair of pants if I’m wading into high grass, where ticks are most prevalent. And recently, when I didn’t, I found an imbedded tick on my upper thigh, so I medicated]

Two winters ago (2013) I fell through ice into a lake (the property was sold in 2014) and my body temperature reached the 80’s by the time I arrived at the hospital almost three hours later. At one point, when I was fighting through the rotten ice to a raft,  I envisioned my body  being found on the lake bottom months later: no one knew I was there. I shouted bloody murder and my wife, very luckily, was walking outside with a client. Otherwise, no one would have heard me.

Another thing about being 75, is that my mother was still living, barely, at 101 and on the strength of that people assured me that I’ll live a long time yet. I wouldn’t really like to live as she did toward the end, however, unable to move, except her forearms and her neck, unable any longer to speak more than a few words. It was a long, slow death. She also had NO short-term memory. Think about that: even before her long, slow decline, she couldn’t remember me going out of the room and coming back a few minutes later.

Olga died at 101 and 10 months, in December, 2014, died from the feet first, essentially of old age. The process of dying actually took from mid-summer until early December, not something anyone would want to go through.

Life begins with crying and never ends well (good deaths are just quick and painless), but life in between may have its points. I’ve settled in a beautiful place (see picture above: a nearby hiking lookout) and there’s a lot to do in the local area: I’m learning salsa, for example; I never knew how to dance anything except the Twist before this.

Addendum: Life at 81, during the pandemic. It’s lucky we live in a beautiful place where we can be comfortably quarantined. Neither of us are sick, but from my catalogue of ailments listed above, I need to add a bout with Lyme that I think brought on a temporary Atrial Flutter, which means I have a heart condition.

So, I’m probably vulnerable if I were to get Covid19. Therefore, I’ve kept pretty close to home, only gone to the local grocery, coop, drugstore and hardware store. Always masked.

We see only a few people, and with all of those we maintain social distance. We also zoom with some of them, on special occasions.

At my age, social distancing is more pleasure than hardship. I sit outside, when it’s warm, in the evening, and contemplate the beautiful world around me.

I know I’m shrinking: shorter now than ever, from a never tall 5’ 5 1/2” to 5’ 2”. I tire more easily; short hikes seem longer, but I still do hike.

In the summer, I wear skirts/kilts most days and ankle-length tunics in the evenings—I can’t bear wearing a belt around my waist after five PM. 

Why skirts and tunics? To me they are freedom from the constraints of pants and shorts. The first time I wore a Scottish kilt, I realized how freeing it felt. I was 65.

At 81, I don’t really care what I look like, only that I’m comfortable.


Princess Olga: Uncovering My Headstrong Mother’s Venezuelan Connection is available in hardback, paperback and as an e-book. Princess Olga may be ordered on B & N, Amazon and other retail outlets. Publisher: Imagination Fury Arts. Also available here: https://www.amazon.com/Princess-Olga-Uncovering-Headstrong-Venezuelan-ebook/dp/B071W7FP3H/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=Princess+Olga%3A+Uncovering+My+Headstrong+Mother’s+Venezuelan+Connection&qid=1593367871&s=digital-text&sr=1-2

I have published two books only on Amazon Kindle. They are Attila’s autobiography Attila as Told to His Scribes, available at: https://www.amazon.com/Attila-as-Told-his-Scribes-ebook/dp/B00855M90G/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=attila+as+told+to+his+scribes&qid=1593360680&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

and I, Zerco, available at https://www.amazon.com/s?k=I%2CZerco&i=digital-text&ref=nb_sb_noss

In addition, I have two books published on Smashwords: Body Destiny, available for a limited time at $0.99 https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3328

and From Renata With Love, https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3326 available for a limited time at $0.99