Sunday, December 03, 2017


I have no idea how we've gotten to this point. The GOP just passed a tax bill that screws every homeowner in our state. It robs thousands from blue states to subsidize red states and gazillionaires. It removes deductions for teachers and musicians.

Because corporations need a permanent tax break. For goodness sake, they can be taxed at a rate of 35%. It's important that we reduce that to 20%. This is because a whole lot of them have contributed to GOP senators and congressmen. It looks like they were gonna cut them off if they didn't pass this.

I know some Trump voters. In another life, I played fiddle in bluegrass bands. I correspond with a banjo player from Kentucky who just loves Trump. A few days ago he told me that anyone who was a real American loved Trump. He backed off from that statement after I gave him a long list of people he was insulting (including my dad who fought in the Battle of the Bulge), But he still loves Trump. He believes Trump cares about people like him. A lot of people believe that. When they kick children and working people off of health care, well, it's all for the greater good I guess.

I don't watch Fox News, but a whole lot of people do. One of the things Ronald Reagan did was kill the Fairness Doctrine, which insisted that news be fair and balanced. Ironically, Fox News became a propaganda outlet for the GOP, and then adopted the slogan, "fair and balanced." While Reagan was President in 1984, I haven't felt like we were living the Orwell novel until very recently. Trump gets up in front of God and everybody and talks about grabbing pussy, and the good Christians everywhere make passionate arguments that he should be President and a pedophile should be a US Senator from Alabama.

In early 1984, I was in Europe. I had a friend, Klaus,  in West Berlin who I visited. He decided we should visit his friend, an English teacher from East Berlin. Klaus wanted me to smuggle eastern money in a gum package, but I told him forget it. It was a good thing because the police searched me on the other side of the border. It was pretty scary. I remember the English teacher didn't speak much English, and he showed me English books that said things like, "We need to practice our English because our friends from South Yemen are coming to visit."

It was surreal being in the east before the wall came down. There were stores the eastern residents shopped in, and then there were special stores just for us visitors. If you had western money, you could buy fresh fruit and vegetables, or Levis, or anything you wanted. The official exchange rate was one mark for one mark, but you could buy like 14 eastern marks for one west mark on the western side of the wall.

TV in East Germany was pretty boring. It was the Russian diplomat shaking hands with the East German diplomat pretty much 24/7. They had some TV tower the people called der spargel (the asparagus) which was some monstrosity designed to block western broadcasts. Still, a whole lot of East Germans managed to see TV from the west, which painted a very different picture of what was going on.

They were taught that Russia was pretty much the center of the universe. A visit there was a great luxury. You could buy all the vodka you wanted, though other things may have been in short supply. The thing that stuck with me the most was when the English teacher told me they sold Pravda on every corner. If you aren't familiar, Pravda is the Russian word for truth, and was the official communist party newspaper. He also told me that nobody ever bought it.

The problem here is a whole lot of Americans are lapping up Fox News like water. They believe the crap they spew, they accept the concept of "alternative facts," and they believe the crap that comes out of Donald Trump's twitter feed. It's pretty scary.

Meanwhile, our most prestigious press outlet, the New York Times, writes features about lovable nazis next door, and stereotypes ATR teachers as a danger to children. These are interesting times we live in.

What will it take to awaken the people of the United States of America?
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