257 – 252

Thirty six weeks left in the race to vote/veto day. Bernie is gaining ground; coronavirus is starting to affect the world economy. Will it begin the stock market’s long decline? I’d wager so.

Mojo Pork

Mojo is a great word. Actually, it could be two different things. Mow Hoe is one pronounciation, and that’s as in mojo pork, or pork steeped in a spicy citrus sauce and braised to fork tenderness. But I’m talking about the other version, Mow Joe. When your ‘mojo’ is workin’, everything is going your way, and your path to success is clear and bright. Trump’s mojo was workin’ in the runup to 2016, and he benefitted from a host of events that led to his surprise presidency. Well, that time is now over. Who he is and what he’s done has grossly affected his karma. He’s cooked as a person and as a candidate. It will all be downhill from here.

But then there’s The Bern. His mojo, derived to a great extent from having been cheated out of his candidacy in 2016, is workin’, groovin’ and cookin’. I predict Señor Bernardo will coast to a victory, promising to bring along his fellow candidates as a Team of Rivals, per Tom Friedman’s clear direction. That means everybody will vote for him, which they were mostly going to do anyway, as he isn’t Trump. His Mojo – and his karma – are clean and pure.

What I find interesting is that Bernie is also a Jew, but he’s not the same kind of Jew in the perception of people who are ignorant of their own biases as Bloomin’ Mike. Bernie is so much more grandpa-ish and kinda cute. He’s not threatening in any way. Bloomberg is threatening, both in behavior and appearance. But Bernie will be happy to use Mike’s money to be sure everyone in the farthest reaches of the country knows to vote for him. It’ll be a soft landing, for sure.

Couldn’t resist the picture

So anybody worried about the Russians hacking the election, or Trump’s dirty tricksters trying to pull any fast ones should be assuaged. It’s gonna be Bern all the way. Trust me on this.

By the way, I still haven’t written about Bezos and Amazon. I am back to buying things from there, having taken that break in January. But lack of Chinese production will soon make things difficult for Amazon. Workers away from their production lines will but a big chink in the supply chain. So rather than talk about the now with Amazon, next time I post, it’ll be about where they’ll go. Bezos is likely on the autism spectrum, and he’s also very smart – like most autistics. He’ll be ahead of the curve. Count on it.

Luego.

258

Let’s talk about China and the Wall Street Journal. Or maybe about Jeff Bezos and Amazon. Or both! Why not?

Walter Russell Mead

Three reporters for the Wall Street Journal were asked to leave China after a professor/think tanker wrote an article published in China referring to that country as the “Sick Man of Asia”. A guy named Walter Russell Mead wrote the piece, not any of the three reporters. He likely isn’t far off in what he wrote. But that wasn’t the problem.

“Sick Man of Asia”. That phrase could best be described as sensitive to the Chinese, as it was used to describe their society in the decades between the end of the 19th century and the end of World War I. A lot of Chinese emigrated to the US during that period of unrest and tumult. They were the ones that built the railroad to the west, if you recall. But then the US passed legislation in 1923 barring immigration from China because of nationalism, racism and protectionism. It’s a time in Chinese history they’d rather forget.

Back to the article. He wonders out loud if the economic impact of the coronavirus will be enough to push the Chinese economy over the edge into some form of implosion. This perspective is very much an outlier, tho’ in these days of what feels like perpetual black swans, anything is possible. But more than likely, China will survive this latest attack. But there will be collateral damage in a further break in relations between China and the US.

But wasn’t that the point of the tariffs? That depends on who you ask. In theory, tariffs were supposed to ‘right the wrongs’ done to the US ever since China joined the WTO in 2001. The simplistic (aka Republican) view of what China has done is to destroy the rust belt by stealing American jobs, and stealing intellectual property to boot. The more complex reality is that China began its effort to become politically Red but economically a free market during the time of Deng Xiaoping. It made perfect sense. They had no capital and no educated middle class to start businesses. What they had was plenty of cheap, unskilled labor.

From the Chinese perspective, this was a win-win. Labor-expensive manufacturing moved to China from the west. Goods became cheaper, and we all flocked first to WalMart and then to Amazon to buy these cheaper goods. This created a thriving Chinese middle class, as well as wealthy individuals who were related or at least politically well connected . The price of admission for companies to use this cheap Chinese labor was that they had to share their technology. That was a win-win for everyone, right?

Rust Belt

Not from the point of view of the unionized rust belt. Products were significantly more expensive because of organized labor, and that cost was passed on to consumers. That actually negatively impacted global growth. Globalization was good for growth, but bad for high wage, low skill workers who were never going to get their jobs back.

Economic lecture is over: back to the article. Posting inflammatory headlines that antagonized the Chinese government was extremely bad timing. President Xi and the Central Committee have problems with the populace of kids in Hong Kong. They have a health crisis that originated in Wujan, but which is now spreading – likely throughout the world, but at least throughout China. They have had to quarantine millions of workers who aren’t going to work at the factories. So yes, there will be an economic impact. But they believe they’ll weather that storm, as does most of the rest of the civilized world. But Professor Mead, definitely of the right wing persuasion, just couldn’t resist writing this piece, and the editors couldn’t resist an insensitive, inflammatory headline. So three reporters are out that should be keeping us informed about the coronavirus. The law of unintended consequences strikes again. Good work, Rupert (Murdoch, publisher of the Wall Street Journal).

That’s enough – we’ll talk about Bezos and Amazon tomorrow.

259

Thirty seven weeks to go ’til no-D day, and Bloomberg is now rapidly ascending the ranks. Buti is falling, so apparently we Dems are rather fickle in our presidential likes. Wouldn’t it be really interesting if it turns out to be a slugfest between the pinko Commie Bernie and the uber capitalist Bloomin’ Onion? Talk about contrasts, eh? Generational? Not sure yet. More like the power of advertising, i.e. name recognition. Sheep!

But that isn’t what I came to talk about (it never is, right?) Charles Portis just died at age 86. He wrote True Grit and other, apparently really funny books about a variety of topics, but mostly about the human condition. But I’d like to focus on his character Mattie Ross. Recall, Mattie was the 14 year old girl in the old west in search of her father’s murderer. She knew who he was, she had money and she had an incredible gift for being both persuasive and extremely annoying to any man she met on the path to capturing her villain, Tom Chaney. She was going to do whatever it took to bring Chaney to justice – or death..

Y’all know two movies versions of the book were made, the first directed by Henry Hathaway and the second by the Coen Brothers. Joel and Ethan Coen seemed to want to pay homage to the original version, casting Jeff Bridges as the prime candidate for the John Wayne lookalike contest, and a new gal, Hailee Steinfeld as the version of Kim Darby who really was a teenager. Kim was 22 when she played the part. They also used Dakin Mathews, doing a good Strother Martin imitation as the horse trader, Colonel Stonehill.

I gotta believe Charlie had a particular gal in mind when he wrote Mattie’s character. Sadly, he was a big time recluse, so there’s no chit chat about what he had in mind. Maybe she was a niece or even a neighbor child. Charlie had a real gift for putting exquisite dialogue in her mouth that was funny, yet poignant.

The best scene in the story was when Mattie went to the horse trader to buy a pony so she could accompany Rooster in retrieving the ne’er do well Tom. She is clever, self-possessed and downright ruthless in bending the Colonel to her will. This is early enough in the story to give the reader/viewer a clue that Mattie will not only succeed in getting the marshal to track down her man, but he will end up with a genuine appreciation and affection for her along the way. But here’s the thing: Portis never uses the usual plot devices employed for female characters – especially young females – in the story. She doesn’t become a femme fatale, falling for the hero; she doesn’t learn to be ‘good’ at the hands of the men; and she doesn’t ever lose her sense of self worth, or the importance of her mission. In other words, young gals could do a lot worse in looking for a role model these days.

Charles Portis

So if you have a young lady in your family in need of this kind of guidance, I suggest you buy a copy of True Grit and encourage her to read it. Neither of you will regret it. Rest in peace, Charles Portis. Ya done good.

263 – 260

It’s day 260 and Trump revs ’em up at Daytona. A pity he didn’t get run over (just kidding – Secret Service, don’t come get me).

Sadr City, Iraq

My cousin Lee Ann’s husband Ray and I went to a writer’s gathering down in Lake Park on Saturday morning. There were six writers there who all brought something they’d created for us all to read and critique. The group was quite diverse in age, gender, topics and writing style. I provided Chapter 1 of Sadder, my memoir about Erik the Younger’s deployment to Sadr City, Iraq.

The comments were respectful and actually quite on point. They welcomed Ray and me into their little group quite warmly. It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and we intend to go back next Saturday. This tiime Ray will bring something he wrote that I’ve already seen. He’s quite good – and very funny!

Which brings me to the main topic: the piece I have to write that picks up where we left off at the house in South Miami. I’ve talked about it before, but wasn’t clear on how to put it together. Saturday night, in a dream, the word Rashomon came to me, loud and clear. I had a vague idea that it was the title of a Kirasawa movie, so I looked it up. It provided me with the answer to how to frame the story I need to write.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, but prior to writing I shall. The Wikipedia description says it’s a story about four people: a woodcutter, his wife, a samurai and a bandit. Events occurred in the past, that we don’t see. But all four of them relate the story, bending the facts to their own. Apparently it isn’t until the end that we find out ‘the real story’.

Power of the Subconscious

I look forward to seeing the movie, as well as getting started writing the piece. I don’t have a title yet; that will likely come to me in a dream as well. Amazing what our subconscious mind can come up with when we need help.

265 & 264

Dragon Lady Hillary

Yes, Bu bu bu Bernie won by a smidge over Mayor Pete..no surprise there..but the Dems are goin’ nuts, trying to ward off the guy who shouda woulda won in 2016 if the DNC – Wasserman Schultz hadn’t tilted the board in favor of the dragon lady. My motto is Trust the Process..they didn’t, he didn’t get the nod, the evilest of evil did and look where we are now. Trust the process…the voters know best. How many times do I have to say it?

Leon Czolgosz, Anarchist Assassin

I would be happy with Bernie for Pres and Mayor Pete for Vice, because Bernie won’t survive a first term and Mayor Pete will take over..and then what will happen? Maybe things will get better..but can they get worse? Likely not. So it brings to mind the story about how the corrupt machine in New York decided to get rid of that muckraker extraordinaire Teddy Roosevelt by getting him the VP slot on the ticket with William McKinley. So, as fate would have it, McKinley gets shot and killed by an anarchist, Leon Czolgosz., pronounced Joelgiss. Actually, he was shot and given medical maltreatment when the wrong assumption was made about the location of bullet #2. Seems like a recurring theme with presidential assassinations, but I digress very badly.

Here’s the thing: Teddy became president and the New York machine got decimated because of his nation-wide muckraking and personality. In other words, the law of unintended consequences was at play. It may be at play here as well. If young folk want Bernie and old folk want Mayor Pete, a combined slate with an early Bernie demise keeps everyone happy, right? I’ll vote for it.

But then there’s the unknown, Mayor Mike B. Popular assumption is he won’t play well with the African American vote because of his stop & frisk policies, with him on tape saying young black men commit crimes. Well, I say phooey to that. No matter how much money he has; no matter how many ads he runs, he won’t do better than 4th or 5th place. He won’t resonate with anybody. Then, when that becomes reality, he’ll pour money into the Bernie/Pete coalition. The media will be all over the Trump/Russia/China/rest of the evildoers’ tricks, which will be revealed as they occur.

So why won’t Bloomberg become the candidate? Not because the Republicans are afraid of him. It’s because there’s just something about his looks that makes people uneasy. He has skinny eyes, and a bunch of dough. Oh, yeah! He stirs up that primal fear of the Jew – that primal fear that goes back centuries in Europe, Asia and yes, even in America. Is he aware of that? I doubt it – he’s lived in a happy bubble for many years and thinks he’s exempt. But in the end, his money will help overthrow El Cuco (a nod to The Outsider, on HBO).

The Porcine Predictions

And then what? Will America be sufficiently sick of the sickness that currently prevails? Will those Righties left, who will likely lose the Senate majority if BernieButi wins, get the memo? Or will the movement go underground and simmer until Buti becomes the Prez – then go after him for being gay and inexperienced? Too soon to tell. But in the meantime, stay calm, be happy, and love your friends and family. Bu Da bu da bu da..that’s all, folks!

267 & 266

The New Hampshire primary is today and the expectation is that Bernie will win those delegates. In the overall scheme of things, it accounts for little, but the trend is of concern. Can Bernie beat Trump? Most Dems say no; I say he can and likely will.

Millennial hipsters

We are at a transition point where us Boomers are fading, and Millenials are in the ascendency. Sadly, we completely skipped Gen-X’ers, because there aren’t enough of them. Birth control and the VietNam war made us barren and frightened for the future. Low birth rate was the result. Sorry, my son, but you’re too late in asking. Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it (the election) away.

Enough of John Prine music. Let’s talk about something new and interesting. Coronavirus. Geez! Talk about hysteria, histrionics and bad information. My friend won’t eat at her favorite Chinese restaurant, for fear workers just got off the boat from Wuhan and are dishing up her egg fried rice. Wow. The odds of dying from coronavirus are less than 2%. That number is based on deaths in China, the epicenter of this outbreak. The odds of dying from ordinary flu are 0.1%. So in one sense, you could say that your potential for death from coronavirus is 200 times your chance of dying from the flu. But here’s the thing. There are currently 13 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US spread across 6 states. Most of those originated with someone who came here from China. There are between 22 and 31 million cases of flu this season in the US. Which statistic sounds scarier?

In spite of those facts, it doesn’t stop so-called experts from going on television to scare the bejesus out of us, using words like “pandemic” and telling people to “be careful”. Be careful of what? Wash your hands. Duh. You should be doing that anyway. Wipe the handle of the cart at the grocery store with the wipes they provide. So grocery store handles are a hotbed of germs – not door handles or kitchen faucets? Get a flu shot. Now that one makes sense, but has no effect on coronavirus.

What’s the answer? Stop paying attention to fear mongering about coronavirus. Pay attention to fear mongering about climate change. I’ve changed some of my habits. I avoid the plastic bags that come from Publix, in favor of reuseable cloth bags I carry with me. Does that impact climate change? I suppose – in a very indirect way. But it’s a start. Of course we still drive a gasoline powered, large SUV which is pouring tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So I’m waiting for the proper electric car to come out, OK? Geez, get off my back. I didn’t start the revolution – industrial, that is. Blame the British!

So what’s the answer? Live your life and let go of things over which you have little or no control. Simple..effective..and better. ‘Nuf said on that.

270 – 268

Thirty nine weeks ’til the 2020 election. Thirty nine weeks is the normal gestation period for a human baby. So I ask the question: on that magic day in November, will we birth a decent human president or a diaper baby redux, by the moniker of DtheT/impotus/Le Trumpeter? That is the question.

Why Can you Say? The Des Moines Register poll crash was a portent of things to come

All is chaos at the moment. Nobody’s talking about anything other than his ‘good week’ last week (everything being relative) and the screwups of the Dems. But thirty nine weeks is an eternity in politics, so the only thing for sure is that everything will change.

But does any of it matter, in the great scheme of things? Probably not. If history is an indicator, we’ll make it as a planet for another four hundred years and then we’ll all be dead anyway. So does it really matter which emperor succeeds the one that got bumped off by family? Oops – reverting back to Roman issues.

But here’s the thing – it’s 64.9° F in Antarctica of late. Sea level rise is gonna happen. When the ice shelves melt, all that water will have to go into the oceans, changing not only the level of water, but the salinity as well. Fish won’t like that. Do we care? We mostly eat farmed fish now anyway – tilapia, shrimp, maybe even oysters. Well, something about the food chain says there will inevitably be impacts on all mammals – not just the seals and walruses, but homo sapiens as well. Probably even in my lifetime.

Us old folk try to pretend it’s not happening, because we don’t know what to do about it, and it probaby won’t affect us anyway. Young folk know it’ll affect them, but they’re powerless to do anything about it – other than shame us old folks like Greta Thunberg tries in vain to do. So what’s the answer? Literature..the arts..we have to start paying attention in a cultural way. Hey – I did that with a play and five books – what else do you want from me?

Missin’ Kwai Chang Caine, aka David Carradine

But I’ve addressed the irrational fear of these changes, much more than the changes themselves. After finishing up the Clemmie Trumpet/therapy piece, I’ll go back to writing about the effect technology will have on society. It doesn’t get us any closer to addressing climate change – it’s just another thing to worry about. So it’s a vicious cycle, but hey – gotta get it off my chest somehow? Just bear with me – I’ll be at this for a long time, and eventually we’ll address climate change. Patience, grasshopper.

271

Just a quick reminder about the title captions for my blog pieces: there are 271 days left until the November 2020 election for the soul of the country. It’s no big deal: it’s just about everything that every American should hold sacred.

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah The Golden Haggadah, c. 1320

I have a new old friend joining the blog fray – my sweetheart, Bill Tanner, resident of Gomorrah Washington, D.C. Bill and I go way back to the library at UF where we both worked, he as a regular and me as a student. He bailed me out when my car got towed away because of a license plate issue (let’s not go into that right now, eh?) Anyway, he is a lifelong friend, even if we hadn’t talked in over 40 years. We’re talkin’ now!

But I also have another new name for y’all: get ready..ta da! Rachel Bitecofer. Who? Wha? Check out the article about her today at Politico, then follow her on Twitter and get a copy of her model results for the 2020 election. This is important, people! She is another iconoclast – like the rest of us – and attention should be paid to her prognostications. I cannot stress this enough, because as activists we need to remind the Dems that they have to do a better job this time of defeating the anti-Christ.

Dr. Rachel Bitecofer’s Electoral Map for 2020 Presidential Election

Her model predicts a 2020 electoral college victory for whoever the Democratic candidate is 279 to 197. She predicts the Dems will take back the key states that went to Trumpet in ’16, like Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. I think she’s absolutely right about that. She also says Florida votes Republican by a smidge because the old have coalesced with young, non-college educated white guys to vote what they perceive to be conservative (with a little ‘c’), but really they’re voting against their own self interests. We shall see what happens when Trumpet starts looking to cap Social Security and Medicare. That’ll get the Q-tips attention here in the Sunshine State! If Bernie’s the alternative, they’ll switch sides – and quickly. So my prognostication that Bernie will be the next president may not be far off.

Howard Schultz, former CEO of Starbucks – coffee made him a very wealthy man

She has one caveat – that no powerful third party candidate jump into the fray. She’s not talking about Bloomberg – he’s running as a Democrat. She mentioned Howard Schultz’s name, as a possibility. That would change everything – so Howard, beat it! Go away, baby. No third party candidates that will suck votes away from Grampa and give it to spawn of the Devil T-rump.

That’s it for now – I’m kinda encouraged by Dr. Bitecofer’s work. How about you?

272

So it’s the very young (Mayor Pete) and the very old (Grampa Bernie) that emerge victorious from the Iowa caucuses. Who’s third? Not Joe..it’s Loony Lizzie. So on to New Hampshire where Grampa Bernie will hold sway. It won’t be ’til South Carolina that Joltin’ Joe will finally win himself a primary. Then it’s anybody’s guess who will prevail in the spate of primaries scheduled for March 3rd. My guess is that the spread will be Bernie, Pete, Liz and then Joe, with Liz, Joe and Pete jockeying for the 2nd position. As I predicted earlier, Bernie’s gonna take this thing. Everybody loves their grampa, right? Nope. Along comes Mike – Bloomberg, that is.

Bloomin’ Onion was counting on disarray in the ranks – that’s why he skipped the first two primaries, and focused his attention and advertising money on the March 3rd states. He will quickly – or not – zoom up to the number 2 or 3 slot. From then on, it’ll be a relentless push to get the nomination. And ya know what? I’m all for it. If he’s good enough for Judge Judy, he’s good enough for little ‘ole me.

Trumpet vs Bloomin’ Onion..now that’ll be a true race where Trumpet will lose the Jewish vote (duh!) and the black vote will stay home. But Onion could win enough independents and moderate Republicans to take this thing. We’ll know if his strategy worked by the end of April. Otherwise, we’ll have poor Bernie, likely dying of a heart attack in office, and his VP, Mayor Pete, will have to assume the mantle. Wow, that’s a long shot, eh?

We’ll see how this turns out. But one thing I’m sure of: since it isn’t the most hated woman in the country running for the highest office in the land, it’ll be a horse race that will end up well. You heard it here first. Yippee Ay O Kay Yay!

277 – 273

It’s nearly ten am the day after the Iowa caucuses. And who won? Who came in second? Third? Campaigned in Iowa? Does the state of Iowa really exist? All good questions. The answer? Nobody seems to know.

Henny Penny illustration from 1916

Remind you of a fairy tale? How about Chicken Little? An acorn falls on his head and he runs around telling people the sky is falling. Today’s equivalent: the Democrats are unprepared to tally the results in a new way, and CNN declares this to be the end of civilization. Oh good grief!

This is not the end of civilization – this is a hiccup on the way to the end of civilization: the acquittal of Donald John Trump in the impeachment proceeding.

While I thought he should be acquitted, the process itself undermined confidence in the federal officeholders. On both sides of the aisle. The Democrats were accused of and looked totally partisan. The Republicans pretended Trump did nothing wrong and each will save his or her own skin by voting to acquit.

Would we have been better off if the event had never happened? Hard to say – can’t get the toothpaste back in the tube after it’s been squeezed out, something I learned in Sunday School at Plymouth Congregational Church at age 10. But the Democrats must have known the Senate would never go along with impeachment. So what was the point? They really can’t remember.

1943 Disney Propaganda Short Chicken Little

Walt Disney made a short film in 1943 on the topic of Chicken Little (yes, back to that). The fox used a psychology book to fool the fowl into running into his lair. Originally, the book was titled “Mein Kampf”, and the key elements the fox used were “If you’re going to tell a lie, make it a big one”, “undermine confidence in leadership” and “If you want to create chaos, influence the most dimwitted first.” Pure DJT the Fuehrer. He learned his lessons well from reading the man’s speeches and being tutored by Roy Cohn.

So what happens next? The Dems go on to New Hampshire, where hopefully the results of that primary will be available within a week or so after. Trump will boast of all his greatness at the State of the Union address tonight, and tomorrow he will be acquitted of all impeachment charges. We will, collectively, have created a monster.

But if there’s a lesson to be learned through current events, one only need to turn to China. The latest coronavirus is showing all the deficiencies of the Communist government, which was already weakened by the unresolved protests emanating from Hong Kong. Hong Kong has turned into a mini war zone, which may well spread to the mainland. The party is beginning to lose control.

Their actions to prevent the spread of the virus will have a significant impact on their economy – and then, to a lesser degree, the world’s economy. Censorship has not prevented information from getting out about how badly the government is handling this so-called crisis, with a 2% or less casualty rate. Media reports keep driving more fear into the populace. Gosh – back to Chicken Little. Maybe, at least for the Party, the sky really is falling.