Thursday, September 30, 2021

"How Sad": The Song We Sing As America Crumbles

 I have been on mainland America for a couple of weeks.

My wife and our three cat children have been on Lopez.

We talk once in awhile and text more frequently.

And email gets into the mix upon occasion.

The cats prefer Facetime but they have become pretty adept texters.

I got a forwarded email last weekend thanking my wife for her order.

"Uh oh" I said to myself; how passive aggressive of her".

(When I am on the mainland I don't have anyone to talk to so I talk to myself.)

I had thought that the last order I had ordered and had been delivered was going to carry us through the month.

But I guess not.

At least the new order was big enough to cover cat appetites for a few more weeks - until my credit card has cycled and I could be more responsible about the care and feeding of our children.

Yesterday my wife and I talked.

There were a variety of things askew - it's the time of the year for that sort of thing - chief among them that Chewy's order had been delayed and that the order that I had bought previously and which I had thought to be sufficient to carry Cinq, Rose, Alfie and Genji (the kids feral mother) through the end of the month, and beyond was going to be gone before the new estimated delivery date for the Chewy order.

I was not surprised.

Chewy ships by FedEx.

The FedEx terminal in Portland has run out of people, trucks, planes and ideas; so, if you ship FedEx on the West Coast north of Red Bluff you don't get your shipment.

On time.

Maybe ever.

Infrastructure - human infrastructure - crumbling?

So she was going to have to go to the mainland to buy cat food on the morrow.

We have a marginal but acceptable grocery on Lopez.

So I wanted to ask why not just go to the grocery and buy some cat food?

But I knew the answer: "they only eat Fussy Cat".

Fussy Cat only comes to Lopez from shipments from

The grocery only has Fancy Feast.

Our cats left that behind years back.

When we first went to Lopez ten years ago the grocery bordered on great.

But it has followed the national trajectory since that time.

(I should mention that, at that time - when we first went to Lopez - there was Crowfoot Farms, a U-pick strawberry field, The Bay Cafe, a restaurant that competed and won with top end mainland restaurants, The Galley, a  spectacularly implemented West Coast version of a New Jersey diner and The Drug Store, a pharmacy with an old fashioned soda fountain that had about ten or twelve milk shake blenders and made banana splits;  they are all gone now.)

The grocery, like everything else on Lopez and everything else in America is declining.

But back to the story: starting this morning I have gotten a stream of texts documenting my wife's progress in her catfood quest.

I should mention that a lot of the employees of the Washington Ferry System apparently are trumpists and they are refusing to get vaccinated.

Our governor has decided that that is a firing offense.

So, in the inevitable kerflufflel that that sort of employer/employee incivility always generates, the ferries are an iffy proposition in the Salish Sea.

The biggest ferry system in (crumbling) America may or may not make a traverse at any point in time.

A hundred thousand or more citizens of Washington State are held hostage to donnie's crowd.

Back to the ferries.

They always were late, but they almost always ran.

Now we have donnie in charge of enough fringe elements to bring us down.

But back to my story.

When my wife told me she was going to America I was understandably nervous; she might get over there, but would she get back?

The cats are pretty philosophical but they need food every few days; and water is even more important.

So I kept texting throughout the day.

Here are the last few from her,

"Yakima is running late".

"Finally underway - @80 minutes late, but at least it wasn't cancelled".

To which I responded:

"I'm sorry. For you especially, but for America also as it crumbles. I heard a guy today on BBC Newshour say "you have to understand; America is a third world country with a lot of money".

Another Sort Of Booster


Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Money: One More Time; But This Is Hopeless

 The Build Back Better Bill.

Also called the Human Infrastructure Bill.

Also called the Reconciliation Bill.

Should be called the Let America's People Survive Bill.

All the republicans and two Democrats say it's way too much money.

Three and a half trillion dollars they say - unheard of, beyond possibility, drives us into the ditch right off of the road to perdition upon which we are already traveling.


This year's budget contains spending of seven hundred billion dollars - that's seven tenths of a trillion dollars - for defense.

Defense - you know, stuff like bailing out of Afghanistan and buying F35 aircraft that nobody wants.

Defense - you know, the line item in the budget that hasn't been and can't be, audited.

The republicans and the Two Democrats are fine with that spending.

By the way, that spending is just for this year.

If one can do ciphers, seven hundred billion over ten years is two times three and a half trillion.

But Ol' Mitch and the Boys are just fine with that seven trillion.

(Kinda like being willing to let the United States default. I guess the south is gonna rise again on the ashes of what the rest of us have managed to cobble together since Ol' Bob and the Boys surrendered.}

However and moreover - those people, the republicans and the democrat two, are primed to renew that amount next year, few or no questions asked, and bump it next year, and next year and next year, and ...

We all want to be safe, I guess; I think seven hundred billion uncontested and growing every year dollars is a high price tag for safety, especially when I see that most of what that seven hundred billion buys is stuff that needs to fobbed off to police departments.

(But there is probably an agenda there, so I will back off.)

I would like someone, each year, to at least argue about the amount, the nature of the purchases and the total lack of control or auditability of almost a trillion defense dollars - yearly.

The Build Back Better Bill is for ten years, so, if passed into law, it would spend three hundred and fifty billion dollars a year on us, on our kids, grandkids, their education, our education - if any of us want to go back and become less ignorant - elder care, expanded Medicare and a laundry list of stuff that a real country, particularly the richest one in history, probably ought to provide for its citizens.

The fact that providing those things can return multiple dollars on every dollar spent, and make America a real contender on the world stage in the Twenty First and beyond makes the proposition even more compelling.

And the three and a half trillion will be paid for: a lot of us make enough money feed ourselves and stay out of the poor house and pay 12 or 13 or more percent of our income in Federal Taxes every year; a lot other of us make enough money to need to build a smaller yacht to be the dingy for our 417 foot long mother craft; that group of us pay 0.98% Federal Taxes; the Build Better Bill pays for the three and a half trillion by having the big boy yacht class pay up into the measurable percent range on their income tax.

The seven hundred billion a year and escalating budget line item for random wars, tanks and AK47s for police departments and F35s is just magically there; no republicans, nor their two Democrat clones need to hyperventilate about how much money that is.

Because it's just there.

They don't need to be on record about it; it might as well not even exist.

It's just there and they can spend it.

But come on America: are y'all really that dumb?

Does stuff that really needs to be done just get blown away because Lying Mitch and the Boys plus Two are real happy with how things are - and always have been?

The Spine of Paris

 Starting, I think, at the Louvre, there is an invisible line that extends all the way to La Défense.

Things of significance that exist between those two points are built with that line bisecting them.

I always think it's fun to capture images illustrating that phenomenon.

Here is one: it starts at the Ferris wheel, through the Obelisque de Place de la Concord and through l'Arch de Triomphe.

The Grand Arch de la Défense is somewhere in the haze down the line; it sits on the line as well.

... Now Don't Get Ahead Of Me


My son sent me a link to this new item this morning.

I immediately posted it on Facebook with comment:

"Thanks to my son Joe I was a little bit ahead of this one.  I posted this on 6 September: Noel McKeehan: Adventures and Opinions: Still More About Twenty Twenty Four ( Since it's from Fox News it may just be them trying to set up a mud wrestling match, but it may be serious; they called Arizona for Biden, after all."

To which Joe responded:

"Mud wrestling match is a good call. 

"My current prediction is when it looks like she will take the GOP nod, the orange one will declare a third party using his ‘membership card’ that he is hawking. The one with the Nazi eagle on it.  GOP splits, Dems win with whomever they put up when joe declines.  Not sure it will be Harris, could be wrong."

My current last thought on this is the observation that Kamala Harris and Gavin Newsom have been career-long adversaries.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Pont Neuf

 This bridge was built by Henri IV.

It was designed to let people go back and forth across the Seine and to have unfettered views during traverse.

I think I have heard that it was the first bridge that didn't have shops and residences built all over it, like Ponte Vecchio in Florence.


For me Pont Neuf is the center of my life when I am in Paris.

Here are a few images of it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Pivot Into Decline

 Obama wanted to pivot to the Pacific.

That was smart; it was also obvious: in a couple decades China had gone from a post colonial basket case  to the second biggest economy in the world.

As the long term dominant power in that part of the world it seemed that it would behoove the United States to step in with vigor and guide things along.

A variety of things kept the Obama doctrine from being implemented.

So that was then and here we are in the now.

Now we are a decade farther down the arch of history; now our current president wants to get back to pivoting to Asia.

Again this is an obvious thing to do.

However: last time, if the pivot had taken place, China would have been a rapidly emerging giant.

Now the giant has fully emerged.

Last time the pivot would have involved keeping ahead of the emerging giant; at that time, for example we were about to complete the negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership, a trade deal consisting of Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam, and the United States; it was signed on 4 February 2016. 

But donnie didn't like playing with the rest of the kids and withdrew.

So today a powerful trade based alliance offsetting emerging Chinese trade hegemony in the Asia/Pacific Region doesn't exist.

Now the giant has fully emerged.

Now, as we pivot, we aren't trying to keep ahead of the giant (as TPP would have facilitated) we are hoping to counter the giant.

The United States didn't get where it is today by playing a counter game.

For example, from inception we marched mindlessly forward under the banner of manifest destiny: "kill, maim, move forward and take no prisoners; this place is ours".

I am not interested in engaging in a debate about the goods or the bads  of manifest destiny.

But I do know that playing the counter game is the game that the British Empire has played for most of the last century.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Let's Talk About The Money Again - Briefly

 Ol' Mitch and the Boys are up in arms because the Democrats are trying to pass a bill to spend three trillion dollars - over ten years - to convert America into a society with affordable and universal health care, affordable and ubiquitous child care, quality, affordable and accessible elder care, high quality pre-K education, high quality K-12 education, and accessible, affordable and world class quality post K-12 education, to mention some of the things that the Democrats want to provide to the people. 

They do that because they believe that with those things America will compete, prosper and prevail in the Twenty First Century and beyond.

Ol' Mitch and the Boys are agin it.


That same bunch - Ol' Mitch and the boys - are really high on spending money on "defense": they are perfectly fine with spending eight trillion dollars over that same ten years on eighteen billion dollar aircraft carriers that need to spend $400,000 to flush the toilets, to mention just one of the things eight trillion can buy these days.

Some additional random observations about the results of spending that eight trillion: the F35; it is a plane for the Air Force AND the Navy; neither service wants that plane.

But it's years behind schedule and billions over budget so it must be a good deal; the services will come to love it, I am sure.

There is no way to know who all the defense contractors are; no one has that information.

But, like termite tunnels in a house's foundation, their existence can be seen form the streams of money that flow out of the defense budget every year to - somewhere.

The Department can't be audited; nobody knows where the money goes, but we haven't been attacked by Russia so far, so it must be money well spent - so the story goes.

I think I have heard that even though there is no way to audit the Defense Department there are occasional attempts; those attempts, so far, have resulted in failure.

Ol' Mitch and the Boys think that eight trillion on Defense over the next ten years is probably not enough, but, lacking any audit information they are hard pressed to prove it.

But eight trillion on uncontrolled graft and waste looks real good to them.

Three and a half on human infrastructure is out of the question.

To learn more about what an unbelievably wastefully expensive shambles  our defense budget is listen to this podcast from "On Point" from WBUR in Boston.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

A Question To A Pretend Military Acquaintance

 I am aware that for whatever reasons you are wary about questions like this.

Perhaps that is because you know a lot more than I do about the various things I ask you about.

And I admit I don't claim to know much.

In this case what I think I know is the accumulation of stuff about General Milley that has come out of various new book releases over the last few months, and now, the new stuff from Woodward and Costa.

The question is, if all this is true, does that mean that Milley must resign, be removed or - ridiculously - be court martialed?

Or can Biden just tell the republican jackals to fuck off saying that General Milley's actions as purported, if they occurred, just show how much trouble we are in?

Too Much Money?

 Ol' Mitch and the boys don't like human infrastructure unless it's made up of masses of serfs.

"Feudalism; now that's a real economic system!" Ol' Mitch has been heard muttering in the cloakroom.

So the fact that the white racist and religion party (new logo: WR&R) doesn't want to spend any money on health, childcare, pre-K education, K-12 education or implement modest tax increases for the hyper rich is not a surprise.

But the fact that a couple Democrats are putting two more nails in the coffin of a real leap forward for most of us, and for the very future of  the United States as a prosperous and world leading nation, is a surprise, and is inexcusable.

The "minus two" take the simplistically facile approach of saying "it's too expensive".

I saw Paul Krugman interviewed recently.

He's a New York Times correspondent and 2008 Nobel Laureate. 

He told the Senate (a hopeless attempt in relation to 50 of the senators) to "do the math".

He points out that over the next ten years - the time span during which the 3.5 trillion dollars of the human infrastructure proposal would be spent - the economy will be a three hundred trillion dollar phenomenon.

So the democrats, minus two, are asking the United States to invest 1% of the economy in its people.

Serfs are chattel; healthy, smart, educated and motivated people are capital.

I can't think of a more stark statement in support of the merits of moving on the  human infrastructure proposal.

Or in illustrating the difference between Democrats (minus two) and the WR&R gang.

As counter point, note that the WR&R gang and the minus two have no problem spending 3% yearly on "defense".

On Point | Listen to Podcasts On Demand Free | TuneIn

Friday, September 10, 2021

Cinq The Cat

 A few years back a feral cat they we had supposed to be a boy turned out to be a girl.

The evidence for that fact was a plastic drainage tube that had four kittens in it.

My wife took measures that brought them into an out room of the house and she caught the mother and took her to our vet for neutering, chipping and vaccinating.

That cat is still alive and shows up twice a day for her meals, but she won't ever acknowledge that we did anything but ruin her life.

This is a picture of her with some of her kittens.

The arm that she has wrapped around the little girl in front is withered.

She is a three legged cat.

The vet said that there was no fix for it.

As I watch her sometimes flying across the meadow on three legs I marvel.

Anyway, after two or three days my wife kept hearing what sounded like a kitten mewing under the deck.

She finally pulled the access panel and looked down into the gloom and found a fifth kitten; that was Cinq,

He was nearly dead,

But the vet brought him back.

He has always been the deranged member of the three kittens - now cats - that we kept of the five.

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Guns No More In The Hands Of Nuts

 I am not a lawyer.

But I watch a lot of Public Television.

And I listen to a lot of Public Radio.

So I might know more than I think.

About the Texas rescind abortion law.

Apparently Ol' Greg and the Boys passed a law that is blatantly anti-Constitutional but delegated its enforcement to each individual citizen of Texas.

Which took the onus of enforcement from the state of Texas.

And put that onus on - nobody - as far as the law, apparently, is concerned.

And put a bounty on that delegation of enforcement.

$10,000 and legal fees.

All a citizen needs to do is to report somebody in Texas - of whatever it is that this law holds heinous, or, I think I have heard, anything that the reporter deems to be aberrant about the reported - and a cut and paste, autolaw system pops into action; the accused needs to retain counsel; the accuser needs only to await his or her bounty.

No cost, no liability.

Bounties aside, I am unable to ignore the similarities of the results of this law's enforcement to the witch hysteria and trials in Salem Massachusetts back a few years.

That society deputized hysterical people to report on their fellows when they were discovered doing witch stuff. 

This "abortion" (a legal term for certain types of laws, not the medical procedure under fire) went to the Supreme Court and they said it had novel aspects that were hard to evaluate.

So they wouldn't talk about it.

And they all went out to drink beer.

With the Rapist on the Court.

Seth Meyers asked the obvious question: what are we paying these people for?

But back to why I am writing this.

The "novel aspects" can easily be pasted into laws in other states

I say let's pass laws that ban gun ownership.

And that make it a capital offence for a policeman to kill another human being.

And that makes it a firing offence for any public service employee to make inflammatory posts on social media (inflammatory having been defined as "racist").

And that make any assertion of election impropriety that is "just talkin'" a mandatory 50 year in prison offence.

And that make vaccination mandatory.

There are so many more.

But that's enough.

So: cut and paste Texas' bounty terms and conditions into every one of THOSE laws and bash THE COURT when it says you can't have that law - even though it is Texas' law - and THE COURT has already endorsed it,

You can't have it both ways.

Unless the Rabbit Lady prevails.

Coney: Rabbit.

Various Fungi


Florida Moron Man

 Sadly he's no joke.

But he does have the command of the English language on a level with a third grader.