Slight of Hand And Distractions

The magician does a slight of hand move, tricking us so we do not notice what is going on with the other hand. That is the secret of magic tricks. We get caught up in the moves, marvel at those moves, and enjoy being tricked when it is entertainment. Should we now sit back and enjoy the slight of hand tricks that distract us from what is going on in Washington now? It is not entertainment.

The internet and social media, news networks and bloggers are pumping out stories that attract our attention, titillate, outrage and maybe amuse, for a purpose. That is to distract us from the business going on in Congress. Those stories are manufactured for a purpose. It makes headlines, and like sex, it sells. We gobble it up, consuming everything that pings in our inbox, on our cell phone or Ipad.

While we use up hours and gigabytes of computer broad ban on fluff, the party in control of congress is passing all kinds of measures to roll back safety rules, enforcement of laws and regulations, and throwing away years of carefully crafted legislation that protects the consumers from predatory practices.

While that is disturbing, in the back rooms of Congress, politicians are scheming on ways to gut the Affordable Care Act, Medicare, Social Security, Medicade, and the EPA  in ways that will elicit the least amount of blowback from the citizens. Or no more than they can ignore. Laws that have been enacted to limit conflicts of interest in our politicians, enforce ethical behavior, and keep the powerful under control, are being hacked away, as we speak.

And all the while, we are bombarded with trivia, like her knees on the couch, how much ketchup is on the over-cooked steak, and who did and who did not stand up and clapped. We are being led down the garden path with blinders by the very folks who should be investigating and exposing all the bad legislation being passed as we twiddle thumbs. And they are being marginalized and demonized for what they are publishing.

The report of the FBI’s  multiple recordings of phone conversations between the candidate’s staff and Russian agents, and confirmation by those agents, should be  front page news every day. Those phone calls should be investigated, exhibited, examined in detail, with sworn testimony of those who were involved, in open inquiry, so that we can learn to what extent, if any, the Russians were involved with tampering in out elective process. This is not a political party issue. This is an American sovereignty issue. We should be demanding an impartial inquiry.

But it looks very likely that an investigation will not be held. It looks like the entire affair of a political invasion of our country by an enemy of the state will be swept under the rug, and quietly hushed up. And the very people who should be vigorously following the leads, investigating the deepest held secrets of the campaign, are being blocked, distracted, pushed to cover up the story.

Our First Amendment is under attack. We are in a downward spiral that will turn into a death throe.  Is it the final gasp of democracy?

There are a few journalist who are pursuing the story we need to expose. Maybe they will manage to do the job. We can hope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Namesakes and Other Folks

Today is the twentieth anniversary of the birth of grandson number 2, Dylan Stephen Francis. Named after his father, grandfather, great-great uncle, and four-great grandfather, he has inherited a legacy of intelligence, kindness, resourcefulness, health, creativity, industry, and love of music.

It is fitting that we celebrate his achievement of twenty years of growth and development as he enters the third decade of his life adventure.

Congratulations, Dylan.  May you enjoy a long and productive future, and prosper in good health.

Papa

 

Bumps and Potholes in The Road of Life

Today will go down in the history books as a major event in the life of the USA, marking a monumental change in our direction.  We have abruptly veered course away from the beckoning safety of the harbor and have steered toward the ship killing reef.

Years from now, perhaps sooner, the history books will relate how a once great and powerful nation, a democratic republic based on the power of the people, a radical idea in its own right, was stolen from the people and raped of its power and wealth by a small handful of demagogs. People who were able to plug into the angst and fear of those who had suffered deprivation, lost jobs, lost homes, and lost influence, amplify those fears, and focus those fears on the “system” as the source of their woes.

We have elevated to power the very ones who caused their woes, the real enemy of the people.  It is their plan to squeeze every last drop of wealth and power from the country and the people, and let the country collapse. To them, it will make no matter, as their wealth will provide and protect them. The rest of the nation does not have the privilege.

The 45th president is destined to fail as a leader of a free nation. He is destined to face the failure as the country falls apart around him. He is not able to prevent it. He and his admirers will blame someone else, another party, or those who opposed his reign, but the cause will be his, and the blame upon his head.

Unless some change is made soon, unless a correction is forced, our nation, and perhaps the world’s civilization, is doomed to a repeat of the Dark Ages.

Jim

 

 

 

 

 

What Drives The Creative Process?

On NPR’s “Fresh Air” today was a discussion of a biography of a noted and celebrated poet who was seriously bi-polar.  His many works reflect his mood swings, being forceful, raging, and ragged in his manic phase, fluid and sweet  and charming in his depressive phase.  It made me wonder if mental states affected people who are not officially bi-polar, so that their relationships with their world varied like his did, only less pronounced, less dramatic.

I seem to be more productive in creating prose or poetry when I am sad, under long term stress, or by something that causes me to be emotional, more sad, more glad. The most prolific times have been at the death of a family member or close friend, or holding my newborn, or facing the reality that my kid has grown up, leaving the nest and no longer under my wing.

Lately, I have been saddened by the actions of our new administration, of how EOs are being thrown about like chaff, seemingly without concern for the consequences or how they affect people. Or how crass our elected representatives seem to be about their determination to tear down the very programs that support and help our most needy, destroy the very fabric of our country, for profit.

Has that pushed me to be more creative, to produce more salient prose? Things I have posted on FB seems to be more reactionary than creative, a rejoining of a post from someone who has made an irrational or false statement. Nothing has recently sparked that mysterious flame of creation that some seem to have in abundance. Am I not sufficiently up or down?

Some seem to have the creative spark in spades. One friend in particular is the most creative, productive and energetic of all those I know. Actor, author, playwright, director, producer, vocalist, activist in many causes without cease. Almost always “up.” Where does all that productive creativity and energy come from? Could it arise from a bit of mania, a step above the norm, a production of the mental state, that phase of up – down like the noted poet, that affects some more than others?

If that mental state is the source, that illusive muse of rare creativity, then bravo.  As long as that is under rein, I applaud the outcome: the music, the poetry, the plays, the art. the urge to create.

Tip toe, but no,  race along the high wire, and try not to fall. And if you do, we’ll be there to catch you.

Jim

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plot Line For A Spy Novel

If we were to write a spy novel, one of those exciting mysteries with skulduggery in the back rooms of nation states, secret messages, insider agents, moles, and punctuated with personal faults, this would be a great plot line:

One nation, the major protagonist we might call Rushtanastan, is still recovering from years of economic turmoil following the collapse of a dictatorship regime based on centralized commune control, as it transforms to an open market capitalist form of economy. Beset by unfettered criminal activity and greed among a few of the surviving leaders, they set out to compete with their main adversary, a world power leader we might call Americstan, which was mostly the agent of their collapse.

Rushtanastan’s goal is to undermine the power of Americstan so that their influence on the global scene is diminished to a third world level. They realize that direct confrontation would not be feasible. Military actions would cause very negative results, to the point of their total destruction.  How to proceed?  First, they train agents and slowly infiltrate the enemy’s society, in business, education, press, military, and government. It starts at the local level, electing city, county, and state politicians, making business deals that encourage investments in Rushtanastan, and developing media outlets that look and sound patriotic.

Rustanastan spends years carefully cultivating business relations with selected Amricstan entrepreneurs, and infiltrating the upper levels of the major political organizations, and into the halls of the most secret intelligence agencies, with sleeper cells and deeply embedded agents. Biding their time until they have all the actors in place, Rustanastan uses their plants to sow doubts and fears about social ills, assaults on civil rights, orchestrates economic failures, undermines confidence in the social safety nets, shifts in demographics, and hammers on the patriotic feelings that those fears arouse. Propaganda flows from their sources to influence the unaware populace.

Fast forward two decades:     Engineering an economic collapse takes a lot of hard work and heaps of luck, but they manage to create a crisis that almost causes a world wide major depression and the collapse of smaller nations, using the greed of high-rolling investors to lure them into bogus deals backed by D- rated securities. The collapse is almost total, but Americstan manages to survive, although with severe damages. Social upheaval rolls across the land, with millions of the population suffering loss of employment and homes. The people are very unhappy, and many stay that way even after a very strong recovery over the next 8 years. Many feel left out, left behind as the economy booms. And they are correct, because it is the outcome designed into the plan.

Next, they foment civil wars in unstable countries in the Middle East, backing one against the other, funding the tribal leaders in their quest for dominance. It is a great distraction, and a dark hole into which other’s resources are dumped trying to alleviate the turmoil. It also creates millions of refugees seeking a safe haven.

Engineering an election becomes the next step, grooming a candidate, indoctrinating the support team, publishing the propaganda through their established “news” media. Rustanastan helps get their candidate elected by issuing fake news reports, paid trolls on social media, leaked emails, and constant alarming press issues. During that time they are also in quiet communications with their candidate’s staff.  They use those calls to undermine the country’s security by allowing those calls to be recorded, and eventually released, all part of the plan.

Knowing that a direct assault would be fruitless, they use their planted agents to erode Amricstan from the inside, creating doubts, fears, dividing the people into left and right, neighbor against neighbor, race against race., religion against religion, citizen against citizen.

As Americtan focuses on their internal battles, battles that  are carefully orchestrated, Rustanastan mounts military actions against weaker countries that test the will of Amricstan to resist. Each military push is designed to gain territory for expanding their economic power, and access to free export of their major resources: unrefined petroleum, methane, and seed crops.

As their plan evolves, the social erosion in Americstan continues unabated. Until masses of people in the public domain, some contrite politicians, and several uncompromised intelligent wonks investigate, tear open the curtain, reveal the culprits hiding inside Americstan and bring them to justice.

Rustanastan  responds with military threats that are supported by their closest ally, a closed country we’ll call Nordekorestan, which launch ICBMs toward Americstan, but are successfully destroyed in flight.

International agencies attack Rushtanastan with sanctions that cause their economic collapse.  The world is saved.

 

The End.

 

 

 

 

Educators Bowing to Political Will

The GOP assault on public education is showing up in local districts as administrators and their staffs are reacting to the pressure and political will by reducing support for school extracurricular activities, and cutting funding for arts.

On the local scene, a highly rated play was to be produced and performed by the high school drama club, with thoroughly researched and with prior approval of the administration, back in the Fall of 2016. When the costs were later projected to exceed the limited budget, the project was cancelled. On inspection, the cancellation was not based on the cost overage.  Several generous offers to fund the cost overrun were rejected out of hand.

On deeper inspection, a possible reason for the rejection looms. One or more of the students  were angry that they were not to be selected for the leading role, as the Director/Producer had pre-selected that role. Those students left the audition in anger, along with their mothers.  Shortly after, the Asst. Principal shut the project down.

The reason given was the over budget issue. The over budget amount was offered as a gift. It was rejected out of hand.  No other reason was forthcoming, and no discussion of the issue was permitted. Abrupt, haughty, cold rejection.

Why was the project shut down?  We can only guess at the real reason(s) behind that decision, because it wasn’t because of the funding.  Unless we accept “alternate facts”.

What seems evident is that the administration is bowing to the political pressure to eliminate arts from their programs as a curriculum, and threats from angry stage moms. The political pressure probably comes from the new folks in DC and their fellow like-minded politicians in Richmond., from whence most of the funds flow. The local pressure probably comes from the stage mom whose child didn’t get picked for the lead role. IMHO,

On the political side, it is a short sighted view that will decrease the learning, and dumb down our rising generations.  It is a long term mistake. On the personal side, it is a personal vendetta heaped on the director. There is little we can do about it until the next election.

If we get another chance to vote for change.

Jim

 

Amazing Chases, Amazing Times

In spite of all my best efforts, I have not been able to tear myself away from the streaming posts on FB, on news sites, the screaming headlines on the TV, and the CNN reports on the WH press conferences.  The constant flow of reports, news items, and inflaming headlines, along with the “alternate facts”  offered by DJT’s representatives, is compelling viewing.

Each moment there are more and more issues popping up, some from real sources with cogent and verifiable news, and most from places that must be hidden in someone’s basement hideaway.

It is more fascinating than watching soap operas, un-reality TV shows, Faux News, Mayberry RFD, and a three ring clown car circus all at the same time.  The mind whirls in the maelstrom.

Caught up in that swirling mess, I see myself getting drawn in deeper and deeper each hour. It is hard to resist responding to the awful things that are obviously false, misconstrued, and even vicious attacks on any one who expresses a thought that does not conform to the current GOP/Trump agenda. It is harder still to not post my outrage and fears.

Each day we see more and more measures to reduce the opportunity for people to express their valid concerns with the WH, or to have access to unbiased news reports. The attack is on the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and the free press, limiting who will be given information at the press conferences, and who will be able to air those conferences.

To  top it all off, the issue of numerous executive orders cancelling those of the prior administration.  I guess that is to be expected, but those repealed orders will have serious long term consequences.

I’ve tightened my seat belt for the coming ride.  In the meantime, I’ll try to cut back on the gawking at the train wreck.

 

Jim