Tuesday, December 19, 2017


In August, 2017, I posted a survey on my blog and Facebook. The survey got 18 responses - thank you. The main question was whether or not people would see my blog if I didn’t link to it on Facebook. The results were a bit confusing; on one hand, most people said that they only go to the blog from Facebook when I post a link there; on the other hand, 10 people said they would go to my blog if it was not linked from Facebook (7 said they would not), and 14 people said they would subscribe to my blog, and get an email notice for new posts (2 said they would not).
Truth is, I rarely look at Facebook these days. I post a cartoon or blog link occasionally, and my wife tells me about things she thinks I might want to look at or know about.

I know there are a few people who read my blog regularly and who are not on Facebook. There are also people who follow me on Twitter (another "social media" place I am on, but don't use regularly). So when I write a new post, I copy the URL for it and post that on both Facebook and Twitter. This seems like a bit of overkill. This discussion leads to the baseline reason I blog, and whether or not I want people to readmyopinion. 

I started blogging on November 5, 2004, have published 417 posts, received 22,367 hits, and have 11 followers. Not very impressive, really, if my goal is to be a popular blogger. The reason I blog is stated in the very first post 13 years ago: Welcome to my blog! I've been composing editorials in my head for quite some time - perhaps since the Bush, Jr. team took office - and wished that I could publish all of these things that clutter my brain. Well, thanks to blogger, I now have my very own blog site. I hope to write often, and maybe, if anyone actually visits, have some conversations. so let the blogging begin... 

The conversations didn't happen on the blog site; few people leave comments there. Once I joined Facebook, I started putting links to my blog every time I posted. This generated some comments and "likes" from Facebook friends, and once in awhile some comments that tended towards conversation. This is all terrific; there is no reason my writing should be anything more than it is.

So the bottom line for me is this: I like to write, and this blog is a place I can put certain types of my writing and have it all in one place. If people read it, great, If people appreciate it, greater. If it occasionally stimulates some discussion, even better. But the main thing is, I write, I put it online, and it is in one place. 

I'm torn about Facebook and Twitter (I actually don't understand how some people can spend so much time on Twitter). Something about what they have become bothers me in my radical, anti-capitalist core (see footnote). Sure, the blogspot platform is Google, and that also bothers me. So I don't have a conclusion yet about staying or leaving Facebook and Twitter. I'll probably continue to be signed up, but not look very often. 

So thanks to the 18 folks who responded to my survey. The survey questions, responses and comments are pasted below. 

Footnote: by "anti-capitalist" I don't mean pro-something else. I don't like the way capitalism works in most of the world, but I think there could be different forms of it that are more equitable. This is a future discussion. 

A request to my Facebook friends.

Dear FB friends, please do me a favor and take a short survey, below, about my blog (readmyopinion). The traffic stats tell me that most readers get to it from Facebook, and this is because I post the links here. I am trying to reduce the ties between my life and the big internet entities, and I would prefer not to post links to my blog on Facebook. My blog is hosted on Google's blogspot, and I am looking at how to move to a hosting site that will not collect data from my blog.
So, if you would, the survey (you can answer in a comment by the question numbers):

1. Do you read my blog:
a) never, (0)
b) sometimes, (17)
c) often. (2)

2. If b or c above, do you go to it from:
a) Facebook, (17)
b) directly to the blog, (1)
c) both. (1)

3. Have you commented on a blog post of mine:
a) never, (1)
b) once in awhile, (15)
c) often. (0)

4. If b or c above, do you comment:
a) on Facebook, (12)
b) on the blog site. (4)

5. Would you ever go to my blog if it was not linked on Facebook? (Y or N)
(Y 10). (N 7)

6. Would you subscribe to my blog (RSS notification to your email) if it were easy to do and FREE? (Y or N)
((Y 14) (N 2) (? 1)

Any other comments appreciated. Many thanks.

- Ultimately, since I believe you write as the inspiration hits (versus like... "I write on Mondays", I tend to look to FB for you to share, and I go from there.
- I know in advance that i'm going to agree with what you write 99.98% of the time. no offense, same w/many nytimes, new yorker, atlantic opinion writers!
- I am overwhelmed with emails
- Ionly think of it when I see the link on FB.
- Facebook is definitely more likely to lure me than an email. I, too am overwhelmed with emails.
- But in truth, I think, knowing my online habits, that I'd be less likely to see the blog without the Facebook link.
- Link in an email might be best.
- (Facebook) For me fb is the primary portal to other things, the aggregating nature of it is what keeps me there and connected to many other things.
- The only places I read anything is from Twitter or FB. Submit to your social media overlords.
- Sometimes your blog helps me peel away the layers of nonsense on an issue. Always insightful and definitely appreciated!
- Yes I would to read your blog regularly.
- Agree with you on FB move. Keep blogging.


I recently received a package in the mail from the Heritage Foundation containing a calculator, a 4-color pen, and a note pad. It addressed me by name, and was from the President of the foundation, Dr. Edwin J. Feulner. He stated that he was writing to me because I am a "true conservative." Hmmm. I wrote back to him (more on that later), and a couple of weeks later I received another package from the Heritage Foundation, with another letter from the foundation President addressing me as a "true patriot." This package contained a nifty Heritage Foundation lapel pin!  I didn't know that I am a true conservative and patriot;. have I been moonlighting in my sleep?

The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank that gained prominence in the 1980's, and whose 3,000 page "Mandate for Leadership" became the Reagan administrations game plan. Read interesting things about the Heritage Foundation here.

I often read stuff by and from groups on the right so I understand their points of view. I generally don't agree with their points of view. I read the 2 letters from Dr. Feulner, and really got a good chuckle from them, as well as some insights into the other side. I decided to write a reply to Dr. Feulner, and sent it to his attention in the postage-paid donation envelope they so conveniently provided to me. I'm sure the Dr. never saw my letter. I did have fun writing it.

Here is my letter - and it was fun to wrote:

Dear Dr. Feulner: 

I received yesterday an unsolicited package from you containing: a 4-page letter, a Membership/donation form and envelope, a calculator, a pen and a notepad. 

In your letter, you said “What if they keep the calculator and you don’t hear back from them?” Well Ed, you are hearing back from me. And no, you are not getting any money from me. 

You see Ed, I am a proud member and supporter of the “radical special interests” you talk about in your letter; the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. These are organizations that you say “spread hate and fear and lies.” This is ironic, Ed, because your letter itself spreads hate and fear and lies. 

I almost agreed with your letter when you talked about “the spineless GOP leadership in Congress;” however, they are not spineless Ed, they are among the most reprehensible people on Earth, based on their goals and aspirations, but mostly on their continual kissing of the royal Trump butt cheeks.  

You tout that the Heritage Foundation has provided policy solutions to President Trump since day one…at last we know who to blame for the Trump Shit Storm!! 

And Ed, what is “gender of circumstances?” I probably would not like your answer.

Finally Ed, about those gifts you included. The calculator does not work. I looked at the back to see if it needed a battery - and there was a screw missing! Of course. The pen works; however, like the calculator, it is cheap crap made in China. This is how the Heritage Foundation supports American workers and the Trump slogan “America First.” The packaging is foam made from petroleum hydrocarbons, and this, as well as the energy and emissions costs associated with shipping these cheap items from China and then mailing them to me is a clear statement of the Heritage Foundation position on environmental issues. I wonder what the Foundation position is on human-induced climate change? Probably another question I don’t want to hear the answer for. 

Ed, I doubt that you will see this letter. But I had fun writing it. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to write more checks to the radical special interests I support, including those that provide support and services to the millions of people you conservatives are screwing. 

Yours truly,

Paul Fishman 

Monday, December 18, 2017


(Large audible sigh) It’s not easy to know where to begin or how to talk about the GOP tax plan that will probably pass this week and go to the Trump desk for his scrawl. But I have to try.

The GOP tax reform law is a very huge con. Ah yes, according to the Orangeman, it will simplify filing our taxes (a postcard-size tax return!); it will reduce everyone’s taxes; and best of all, it will stimulate the economy. So let’s start there, with that list.

Simplification. No, it will not. In fact, it will probably make the tax code more complex than it is now. This is true sausage; every special interest group unleashed their lobbyist hordes on the Capitol, and so much was kept in and then added to. When I asked our tax accountant a few days ago what he thought, he simply rolled his eyes, curled up into a fetal position, and groaned.

Tax reduction. Well, as far as I can tell, it will reduce taxes for a lot of people, at least for a few years. Many of the deductions the Trumpkins (tip of the hat to Max Boot for the term) wanted to eliminate were kept in as a result of the previously mentioned hordes of lobbyists. While some deductions or exemptions are reduced or eliminated, higher limits on others will make up for those losses. The real winners are (spoiler alert) the very wealthy and the corporations. The real losers will probably be the rest of us, once the tax reducing parts of the bill expire in a few years. Note - the tax saving measures expire for everyone except the very wealthy and corporations; theirs go on forever.

Economic stimulation. I think these GOP creeps are stimulating themselves in the back room, because there is no evidence, none, nada, that tax cuts stimulate the economy. This “trickle down” BS has been tried and failed a number of times, most recently in the State of Kansas, where the result is economic shambles. The wealthy and corporations will have more money in their money bags, and they will keep it, or, in the case of corporations, use it to reward their investors with dividends, or buy back a lot of their stock. So if you have shares in big corporations, maybe you will benefit.

Bottom Line. The new GOP tax bill is a big solution to a non-existent problem. Yes, the tax code is big and complex and needs to be reformed; however, this doesn’t do that. This GOP tax bill has two purposes, and only two:
1. Demonstrate that the GOP can acomplish something Trump promised - anything!
2. Reward the big donors to the GOP with lower taxes = cash in pocket.

Oh wait, there is one other purpose - another nail in the coffin of the Affordable Care Act (you know, one of the things that black guy accomplished that the Trumpkins are systematically erasing). The GOP tax bill has a provision that eliminates the mandate to have health insurance (or pay a fine), that will result in millions fewer people (mostly the young and healthy) opting out of health insurance, which will make it more dificult for insurance companies to offer lower premiums, which will make it more difficult for people to afford health care, and etc.

But wait, there’s more. Oh right, the deficit. You see, the GOP couldn’t figure out how to make the tax bill pay for itself. Originally, they wanted to eliminate a lot of tax deductions - for people who need them most, like families, students, poor people; the usual suspects. But they couldn’t get enough votes from their own to pass the thing, so they had to buy off the holdouts with gratuitous keep-ins. As a result, this GOP tax bill will cost us, you and me and our kids and grandkids, over one trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) over the next decade. Ah, but worry not, tax payers, the Grand Old Party has an idea - reduce those damn entitlements! You know, social security, medicare and medicaid. Cut the funds from those and bingo, the trillion dollar deficit is gone. What great governing.
I will be chucking up my lunch when I see the yellow-coifed Orangeman scrawling a seismic line on the bill, surrounded by the grinning despicables of the GOP.

May they all rot in Hell!


Monday, December 04, 2017


The GOP Tax Bill will certainly come out of reconciliation quickly and be signed into law by a grinning clown surrounded by a bevy of buttcheek smoochers. And the tax system in America will be changed.

But this bill is not really about taxes. Sure, it will benefit the wealthy and corporations by lowering their tax rates. It will benefit some percentage of the proverbial middle class, at least for a few years until those benefits expire. It will not, in the opinion of most honest economists, do a lot for wages and the economy; the high estimates of economic boost I've seen are in the tenths of a percent. The goal of this tax bill is to give a big gift to wealthy donors, including corporations, and break the social contract of the past few decades between government and citizens. 

What this bill really represents is a major victory in the decades-old culture war in the United States of America, the political and economic struggle between liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, haves and have nots. We on the liberal/progressive side of the war have to understand that we have lost a major and prolonged struggle. And we have to understand that this pendulum won't swing back our way very soon.

There is a lot of reporting coming out about the new tax bill. I have read and listened to some, and have a few take-aways. 
  • The rich will get richer, and corporate profits will get larger. The corporate tax rate will drop from 35% to somewhere between 20 - 25%. Corporations will have an incentive to bring profits they've stashed offshore back to the US. This will not result in what the GOP claims will be more jobs and increased wages, with perhaps a few exceptions. Mostly this will result in big dividends to shareholders, and big buy-backs of stock from shareholders, both benefiting people who own corporate stocks. 
    • People like me will benefit, because our retirement investments includes shares of stock in various corporations. People like the Clintons, the Obamas, and all the other people of wealth in this country, no matter their political affiliations, will benefit from lower taxes and larger returns on their investments. This does not make us happy.
  • The corporate tax reductions have no expiration date; the tax rate reductions for people with lower incomes will expire in 2025. 
  • Numerous income tax deductions available now will be gone. I don't have a complete list yet, but many people will end up paying more.  
  • A very key change, in the category of lost deductions, will be the end of the deduction for local and state taxes. This is huge. Some states have been able to increase their tax rates because of the federal deduction for these payments. This is how those states have funded increased government services. Once that deduction is gone, people in those states will start to clamor for lower taxes, smaller government, fewer services - sound familiar? And by the way, these higher-tax states are mostly those that vote Democratic. The GOP goal of smaller government at all levels will be supported. 
There are many non-tax related items in the new tax bill, of course. Pork has flowed freely on Capitol Hill. 
  • The Affordable Care Act - of course! The mandate that everyone needs to buy insurance is eliminated. This will mean that millions of people, mostly younger ones, will choose not to have health insurance, leaving the older people in our society left holding the bag. Rates will go up, services covered will go down in order for insurance companies to remain profitable, and Medicare to remain viable. 
  • The Johnson Amendment is repealed. This has kept religious organizations from being political by threatening to eliminate their tax-exempt status if they are politically active. Once the amendment is gone, we can expect to see churches jumping into politics in a big way, especially on issues like abortion, birth control and others. 
  • New taxes will be levied on private college endowments, tax deductions for the interest on student loans will be eliminated, and tuition waivers for graduate students will be taxed (waivers will be considered income). This all will hurt students, and make college even less affordable for young people from middle- and working class families.
  • The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will be opened to oil and gas development. This very large piece of pork was the price for the vote of Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who has been working hard to reverse the Obama protections of the ANWR. 
There are many more items in the new massive tax bill that we will learn about in the weeks ahead. Some things might not survive intact through the reconciliation process (getting the House and Senate versions jammed together into one bill), and new things could be slipped in. But one thing is certain, the bill will be put on Trump's desk and he will gleefully sign it, before Christmas. (Hey, just say "Merry Christmas" everyone!)

AND...the new tax bill will paint a larger target on government programs, the ill-named "entitlements" social security, medicare/medicaid, and others. The tax bill will increase the federal deficit by more than one trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) over the next ten years. In other words, the tax reductions are not paid for in the bill. To address this deficit, the GOP will step up the attacks on the programs that assist the poor, the elderly, children - you know, those who do not have any political power in America, in order to replace the money lost by lower taxes. 

Let me be clear here; this is not happening because Donald Trump is President. This has been the trajectory of the GOP for a few decades. What happened in 2016 was a grand coming together of a number of critical trends, including: widespread discontent with government; an incredible increase in the gap between the very wealthy and the rest of us; increasing power and control of government by corporations and their henchpeople; loss of jobs and stagnation of wages; permission to let prejudice out from the dark corners and into the light of day (particularly as a reaction to the first black President of the United States); a drastic widening of the gap between the perceived liberal urban elites and those good folks in the heartland; the "war on religion (Christianity)" exemplified by "happy holidays," same-sex marriage, abortion and birth control; seemingly uncontrolled "invasion" by immigrants who take jobs away from Americans (and rape and murder us!); and little green men hiding under every bed. OK, that last one is a joke. 

As I see the state of politics in America today, the conservative side, albeit a very different and radical type of conservatism, has won a series of political battles. This is the same as saying that the liberal side has lost these battles, and suffered very serious blows. Some data:
  • Republicans control 67 (68%) of the 98 partisan state legislative chambers, Democrats control 31 (the lowest number since the Civil War);
  • Republicans control both legislative chambers in 32 states, Democrats control 13;
  • 33 Governors are Republicans, the most since 1922. 
In other words, it is not just at the federal level that Democrats are in the minority. 

What went wrong for the Democrats? What went right for the Republicans? There are books on this topic, and I'll leave it for a future post, maybe, to get into these questions. I will say, however, that in hindsight I think the Democratic Party, and Democratic voters, have made a series of major blunders in strategy and choice of candidates. The Dems largely ignored the rising tide of populism, and at the last moments threw Bernie Sanders populism at the voters. Hillary Clinton was a bad choice to carry the standard of liberalism into battle, no matter how qualified she is, no matter how thick her resumé, no matter that she is a woman. Neither Clinton nor Sanders could have beaten the tide that lifted Trump to the White House. What Democrat would have had a chance? Maybe nobody. Maybe the battle had already been won. Think about it - Donald J. Trump - a foul-mouthed, buffoonish, ignorant, combative, bigoted man with zero political experience became President of the United States. And no, it wasn't Russia, it wasn't Comey, it wasn't Jill effing Stein - stop being delusional already - that lost Clinton the election, it was the people who voted for Trump, the better Electoral College algorithm, and a shit strategy by the Clinton campaign and the DNC

The pendulum of politics swings back and forth. It has swung very far from where I am, and I am not hopeful that it will get back to me before I'm just a memory. So in the meantime, I will continue to study, I will continue to comment, I will try to understand that Trump tweets and toots are mostly hot air and methane used as cover for the dirty work that is going on in every corner of the federal government. I will support liberal causes, but only those that I conclude are realistic. I will continue to support those people in my community that need a hand to keep them above water and safe. 

And I will hope that things turn out OK for my grandkids. 


Friday, October 27, 2017


What Happens in Vegas is America

A month ago.

1 shooter. 23 guns.
58 dead. 546 wounded.

Old news,
So quickly forgotten.

“This is no time to talk about
gun control” the fake leaders said.
A month later, still not the time?
How quickly we move on.

1 shooter. 23 guns.
58 dead. 546 wounded.

“Maybe we could pass a bill;
outlaw bump stocks,” said the GOP.
“Regulate bump stocks,” said the NRA.
“Oh, right, let ATF regulate them,” says the obedient GOP.
“We have no authority over accessories,” says the ATF.

Bump stock.
Political junk schlock.

1 shooter. 23 guns.
58 dead. 546 wounded.

33,000 gun deaths per year in America;
no official action.
64,000 opioid drug deaths per year in America;
POTUS says “national public health emergency.”
Double the gun deaths to become a
national public health emergency?

1 shooter. 23 guns.
58 dead. 546 wounded.
Old news; so what’s new?

© pfishman
october 27, 2017

Tuesday, October 03, 2017


This December will be the 5-year anniversary of the massacre of school children at Sandy Hook Elementary School; the toll was 20 6-to-7 year old children and 6 adults killed. During the 5 years since Sandy Hook, approximately 150,000 people in the United States died from gunshots - we average 30,000 per year. Since Sandy Hook, there have been 248 deaths in what have been labeled "mass shootings," a total of 29 such incidents, including the killings in Las Vegas last night.

Many of us, I would hope all rational Americans, were shocked beyond belief by the senseless murders of school children. Many of us, and again I would hope a majority of Americans, thought that certainly the Congress of the United States, or the Executive of our country would do something drastic to stop the carnage wrought by firearms. But nothing was done. Nothing was done after every mass shooting since. Nothing!

I sincerely believe that nothing will be done, again, following the largest mass murder in our modern history, the shootings in Las Vegas. The shooter had 20 rifles in his hotel room; many of them AR-15-type semi-automatic weapons with large capacity magazines. He had another 20 or so guns at his home. How can someone amass such a cache of lethal weapons? How can such a thing be legal? Is there no record of a single person purchasing so many weapons? These are, I know, naive questions in America.

In February, 2013 I posted on this blog about the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and my opinion that it needs to be repealed or amended in order to gain control of these lethal weapons.. Reading that post now, I can only shake my head in tremendous sorrow that I live in such a strange, dystopian world where lethal weapons are so widespread and easily obtained. I have absolutely no faith, again, that our elected representatives will do anything meaningful to control the sale and distribution of guns.

The Constitution of the United States is a remarkable document that has guided our country since its adoption. It is, however, an 18th century document that still contains ideas and sections based on 18th century knowledge, norms and aspirations. The Second Amendment is not usable today, in my opinion, because it uses language that is open to interpretation, and over the years the courts have made many interpretations. A basic fact today is that the current use of the Second Amendment, based on court rulings, is an outcome of the actions of the National Rifle Association. The NRA, over the course of decades, has lobbied Congress, paid scholars and lawyers to write legal studies and briefs, and without any doubt skewed the legal interpretation of the Second Amendment to what it is today. The result is hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries by guns over the past few decades; and it is getting worse.

In my post 4+ years ago, I argued that the only way to stop the carnage of gun deaths and injuries in America is to repeal or amend the Second Amendment. I still hold that opinion.

No politician today would dare support my proposal. Why? Are they so afraid of the NRA that they will allow the killings to go on and on and on? The answer to date has been yes.

I will send my proposal to my Senators and Congressman. I will send it to the other progressives in the Senate, such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. I will challenge them to stand up to the NRA. I will ask them if they truly believe that the NRA, and only the NRA has the best public relations people money can buy. Changing the Second Amendment would be a political battle unlike any other; but it should be fought, and could be won. As I stated above, I think most Americans understand the pain and suffering wrought by guns under our present laws. I think most Americans, given the choice of business as usual or a rational system of regulation, will choose the rational path. We have to try; the current situation is not acceptable.


posted February 10, 2013 to readmyopinion.blogspot.com

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. 

And there it is, one of the most poorly constructed popular sentences in the English language. There are two major camps in the interpretation of this amendment: 1) those who think that it gives every person in the United States a constitutional right to own and keep firearms (usually without any limitations); and 2) those who think that the Amendment means that people have a right to own weapons if they are part of a "well regulated militia."

I personally think that the Second Amendment should be repealed; this would make our national discussion of guns a lot more objective and reasonable. But I don't really think the amendment will ever be repealed, so I offer the following rewrite, to be done as an amendment to the Amendment.

A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, shall be maintained by the federal government. The right of the people to keep and bear arms, under a well-regulated set of laws and rules to protect the health and welfare of the people, shall not be infringed.

Can anyone seriously argue with that? My amendment to the Amendment allows the federal government to establish and maintain our armed forces (armed). My amendment to the Amendment also gives people in the United States the right to keep and bear guns, but within a well-regulated system that is structured to protect people (including the gun owners).

Why is this so important? Simple answer: the staunch anti-regulation folks (the NRA, other gun organizations, self-proclaimed gun rights patriots, and etc.) use the Second Amendment as a crutch for their argument against gun regulation. Read any and every statement by the NRA and anti-regulation folks and you hear the words "second amendment," "constitutional rights," "free society" and similar. One example in the newspaper today is a statement by Kevin Starrett, executive director of the Oregon Firearms Association, commenting about a recent poll on gun regulation: "What isn't important to me is how many people have decided to give up their rights." In other words, he dismisses the results that show what percentage of people favor more strict regulation of guns, based on his "fact" that we all have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms.

If we pull the Second Amendment rug out from under these gun death deniers, they will be forced to talk about real issues, and will have a much more difficult time dodging the reality of gun murder and mayhem in this country.

My next task is to look at the best way to start a national petition drive in support of my amendment to the Amendment.

Saturday, September 30, 2017


(Warning: possibly offensive language below.)

OK, I can't hold it back any longer. Sure, ranting about this guy is not productive, but at what point do we, the people of the United States of America, say "ENOUGH!"

Here is a screenshot of the Fake President's twitter feed from this morning - read from bottom to top:

Are you fucking kidding me?? This a-hole is supposed to be the President of the United States. His job is to "promote the general welfare" and be a leader in times of crisis. Instead, this Fake President blames the victims! And where is our Dear Leader this weekend? At one of his golf resorts, of course!

In the past month, the United States and our neighbors in the Caribbean have suffered devastating hurricanes, floods and wildfires. Our neighbor and close ally, Mexico, has had disastrous earthquakes. So what does the Fake President focus on in his speeches, press interactions and Twitter tweets? NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem! I'd like to see him take a knee - to the groin!

One of the mainstays of the Trump Administration seems to be a total lack of compassion. His tepid responses to huge natural disasters are evidence. His remarks about the size of the crowd that greeted him when he finally deigned to visit Houston show that his only interest is himself. His executive orders to keep refugees and immigrants, specifically Muslims, out of the country are criminal. The recent raids by his jack-booted ICE agents to snatch and deport people in sanctuary cities is one of the greatest evils imaginable. Everything he and his minions do show a complete lack of compassion. It would not surprise me to find out that there was an internal memo from the White House to all federal employees instructing them to remove the word "compassion" from their dictionaries and computers, and never use the word again.

There is no doubt that Donald J. Trump is unfit for the office of President of the United States. He needs to be removed immediately by the Congress. The man is an abomination, and presents one of the greatest dangers to U.S. security and well-being ever experienced.

Donald, you are a Fake President! You have no business being in that position. You are a self-centered, ignorant, puerile, mean, vindictive, obnoxious, greedy, unstable, compassionless, bigoted, misogynistic, bizarre shit-storm of a buffoon. You are also very likely a crook and a traitor, and should be locked up. Shame on you. Shame on us. Shame on your deplorable "base" that not only elected you, but still stands by you and defends you. Who the hell are these people??

Your fake presidency is a true test of the American system. I think we will survive; after all, we survived a Civil War, two World Wars, a Great Depression and countless other tests of our strength and resilience. We, the people, are better than you, and you will not prevail.

Get thee gone, Your Ass-holeyness! Crawl back under the rotting log from which you emerged! We do not like you!

Please donate to relief organizations helping people in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean islands, Texas, Florida and Mexico.

Monday, September 25, 2017


The big story this past weekend was that most professional athletes and many of the wealthy owners of their teams seem to understand the First Amendment, while the POTUS seems not to. Important stuff; and is anyone actually surprised?

In the meantime, lots of other very important things are happening in the USA and the world. Here at home, the wrecking ball agency Directors appointed by Trump are methodically removing the nuts and bolts that make the American system work, deregulating everything they can, for the benefit of corporate interests. These actions can set us back decades, to a time when corporations could basically do whatever their bottom line dictated, including polluting the environment, endangering the health and well-being of Americans, pulling government support for education, public health, food assistance and many other programs. Trump repeatedly calls the Affordable Care Act a "disaster;" however, the actions of his appointed hatchetmen and women are the true disaster in government.

Meanwhile, there is the rest of the world. North Korea's boyish dictator threatens the world with nuclear weapons, and Trump responds by threatening to obliterate North Korea. We should not mistakenly believe that the Generals appointed to positions of power in the Trump administration, and other high-level appointees are the "adults in the room" who will moderate Trump; they are not. Trump's nationalistic and war-mongering U.N. speech was vetted by these "adults on the room," and we have to assume received their nods of approval. This does not bode well for global stability.

In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel, who I consider to be the new "Leader of the Free World," won re-election. Her party is center-right, and her style and methods of governance promote stability and moderation. The bad news is that, for the first time since World War II, a far-right, anti-Muslim, anti-European Union party — the Alternative for Germany - won 13 percent of the vote, catapulting them into the German Parliament. Ms. Merkel will need to find a way to build a governing coalition with a new, populist and nationalist player in the mix. This election result is another indication that more people in the Western democracies are turning to the extreme right, like the voters who put Donald Trump in office.

So by all means, take a knee. But keep your eyes on the ball - the news and politics at home and abroad. Demonstrations of resistance are symbolically important, but the nitty-gritty happens within the institutions of government, and we the people have handed many of those institutions over to anti-government, pro-corporate interests (see note).
Note: not all corporations are evil; in fact, a number of them have stated, for example, that they will continue to work to reduce their impacts on global climate change, no matter what Donald Trump has to say. But Trump and his assault troops listen to a different drum beat.

Monday, September 18, 2017


 MAKE AMERICA GREAT WHITE AGAIN! We should not be fooled by the slogan on the Trump campaign posters, ads, and ugly trucker hats. The subtext was always there, but it has become crystal clear over the past 9 months of the Trump presidency. America used to be Great, when it was a nation of white men, and their wives and children, and thousands of African slaves. America was Great once the white immigrants killed off most of the non-white native people, and moved those who survived into de-facto detention camps, or "reservations" on the least valuable lands. America was Great in the glory days before the Civil War when white men owned humans as a commodity, to labor for free and be bought and sold. But America isn't Great any more.

America started to lose it's Greatness when the Confederacy lost the Civil War and slavery became illegal. But White Supremacy did not die in the Civil War, it survived in many forms, such as Jim Crow laws, segregation within public institutions and spaces, a justice system that was not just when it comes to non-white people. White Supremacy survived in the form of restrictive and nativist immigration laws and policies that primarily let non-white immigrants in if there was a need for cheap labor (Chinese, Japanese, Latin Americans, etc.), and then turned against them once their labor was no longer needed. White Supremacy survived in the form of bigotry against Americans with ancestries like Jewish, Irish, Italian and other not-the-right-kind-of-White people.  

The Great America 150 years after the Civil War is experiencing a blossoming as a result of the fertilizer applied by Trump and his ilk. Trump has given White Supremacy a green light to crawl out from under the rocks where they have been surviving and into the light of day. 

The White Supremacy march in Charlottesville, Virginia will be a landmark moment in U.S. history. Yes, there have been other marches of this sort over the years, but few have galvanized the country the way this one did. Perhaps the new technologies of social media made this event so much more than it otherwise might have been. Perhaps it was the timing, in an era of identity politics and heightened awareness of systemic bigotry. Whatever the reason, the images and videos of white men, mostly young (and some women?), carrying burning torches and Nazi flags, chanting "Jews will not replace Us!" and "White Lives Matter" have been burned into our consciousness and made most of us cringe. "Can this really be happening in America?" we say. Yes, it can, because these folks, including their president, want to Make America Great (White) Again!

Let's not mince words here; the history of America is infused with white supremacy. Many of the Founding Fathers were slave owners (some of whom envisioned a post-slavery future), and the founding documents did not consider non-whites (mostly slaves) to be part of "all men are created equal" (women were also excluded). The Confederacy fought the Civil War not to protect the philosophy of slavery, but to protect an economy based on people as commodity; cotton and tobacco were profitable only because the laborers were unpaid. And the laborers were also a profitable commodity that could be bred to meet market demand. 

The post-Reconstruction Jim Crow South carried white supremacy forward into the twentieth century, and despite the patina of tolerance, the North also embedded bigotry into every institution and aspect of government. Every chapter of American history has, in addition to truly good aspects, a subtext of white supremacy: expulsions, exclusions, detentions, internments and relocations of Japanese-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Native-Americans (and genocide); the refusal to allow Jews fleeing European fascism into the United States, and in some cases sending them back to their deaths in Nazi-controlled Europe; the treatment of African-American veterans after World War II; detention and deportation of undocumented workers who do the jobs white Americans won't do. American foreign policy is also rife with adventures (misadventures) overseas that had white supremacy undertones, actions taken against non-white populations that would never be acceptable if taken against white populations (consider U.S. actions in Vietnam, Latin America, Afghanistan, Iraq). And yes, America fought the white German Nazis and their fascist allies in Europe, but only after being attacked by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor. 

Don't misconstrue my thoughts; the United States is a light of hope in myriad ways, and I am a true patriot; however, as a society we need to understand our own history, with all its flaws and warts, in order to understand our present. The neo-Nazis and their fascist allies on parade in Charlottesville, in the White House, in the Congress, and throughout America are part of us, America. We cannot ignore them. We cannot simply write them off as nut jobs or deplorables, even if they are. We need to see them and understand who they are and what they represent; they are the embodiment of our white-supremacist history. Yes, they are us. 

We have come a long way, in many ways, as a society, as a democracy; however, we are not yet "there." We have a lot of work to do - a tremendous amount of work to do - if we are ever to achieve anything close to the idea and ideal of America. We need to grapple with and understand the Trump Era in order to repudiate and replace it. It is not enough to hate Trump; it is not enough to shout "resist" and march in the streets. It is not enough to write blog posts like this one. We need to organize. We need to work together within our communities. We need to encourage and support progressive candidates for every level of government (and run for office ourselves if we have what it takes). We need to be vocal, but not just to shout our disapproval; we need to be proactive and vocal about what we want and need and support. We need to fight back with words, with truth, with facts, and leave the street brawling to the fringe elements. Let's be smart, and then let's be smarter. 

And finally, even when we all understand the history of America, and the ugly thread of bigotry woven into its fabric, we need to stand together. We need to put identity politics into the correct frame, stop any blame and shame games, and find the common ground that we all stand upon. If we cannot work together, we cannot prevail, and the Make America Great (White) Again crowd will continue their campaigns. 

Correction (18SEP2017, 12:52PM). In the original version of this post, I mistakenly used the term "pogrom" to describe actions taken against non-whites in America. This term has been replaced.   

Friday, September 01, 2017


from "Raw Sewage" by Ron Cobb. 1970. used with permission

"Houston, we have a problem!" Yes, we do. The extent of the destruction from Hurricane Harvey, and the toll of human death and injury are not yet fully known. What we do know is that this is one of the largest natural disasters in recent U.S. history, and the areas affected will have a long and arduous recovery.

The Ron Cobb cartoon above was published almost 50 years ago, the same year as the first Earth Day. Today, 50 years later, it has the same urgent message as it did then. Have we learned what ecology is in the course of 50 years, or are we still wondering?

This post is neither intended to point fingers nor to minimize the real suffering caused by this monster storm, Harvey. It is intended to continue discussion about ecology, natural disasters, and yes, human-caused climate change.

It is not correct to assume or conclude that Hurricane Harvey was caused by climate change; climate scientists are very clear about that. It can, and should be said that some of the characteristics of this storm are directly related to human-induced climate change. Warmer ocean temperatures result in an increased amount of moisture in the air and a greater storm intrensity and more rapid change in intensity, and higher ocean levels from melting polar ice influence the extent of coastal flooding.

For Houston, rain was the major factors that caused such extensive destruction. The Houston area received 50 inches of rain during the storm, and once on the ground, that water had nowhere to go. There has been a lot of reporting in the past few days about urban planning in Houston, and the fact that Houston is the only major U.S. City that does not have a zoning code. The result is mostly unregulated development and growth - urban sprawl - with one result being more impervious surface (buildings and paved surfaces). The city also has an inadequate stormwater drainage system.

A study of tree canopy and percent impervious surface in 20 U.S. Cities, using satellite imagery from the period 2001 - 2006, found that Houston had the second greatest area of annual tree loss (2,199 acres/yr). Houston also had the second highest, behind Los Angeles, increase in impervious surface, at 988.4 acres/year (by comparison, my city of Portland, Oregon lost 124 acres/yr of tree cover, and added 130 acres/yr of impervious surface).

So, back to the question "what's ecology?" Well, as with the Ron Cobb cartoon, I reach back to another of my ecology touchstones, the book The Closing Circle, by the ecologist Dr. Barry Commoner, first published in 1971. Dr. Commoner posed four basic Laws of Ecology: 1) everything is connected to everything else, 2) everything must go somewhere, 3) Nature knows best, and 4) there is no such thing as a free lunch. I don't believe that over the past almost 50 years there has been a better, simpler explanation of a very complex topic.

Think about the Harvey impacts in Houston (and other parts of Texas and Louisiana) in relationship to each of the Four Laws. The irony is not lost on the fact that Port Arthur, another Texas city greatly impacted by Harvey, is home to a number of oil refineries, including Motiva, the largest refinery in the U.S., and the terminus of the Keystone pipeline. Our collective use of fossil fuels has been a major factor in the changing climate, and everything is connected to everything else. The interaction between Hurricane Harvey and the lack of good urban planning resulted in more flooding than otherwise might have occured - no free lunch.

The myriad explanations, or excuses, about why Houston and other Gulf cities are so ill-prepared for a major storm boils down to one thing, the hubris of humans. Voter apathy, unwillingness to pay increased taxes, the relationship between individual and corporate profits and government, and a resistance to base policy decisions on science are factors in the extent of the Harvey disaster. Let me be clear here, Harvey was a monster storm, and even the very best urban planning and preparedness would not have resulted in zero impacts to people and property. What is true is that we are experiencing rapid and radical changes in Earth's climate, and we need to be more prepared for large, destructive climate events than we are now.

The President of the United States claims that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China. Other prominent leaders in our government, included elected representatives and newly-appointed heads of federal agencies, support this wrong thinking. I will assign blame here to these people, and others like them in positions of power or decision making. Climate change induced by human activity is a fact, and the leading experts and institutions involved in the science of climate change have strongly recommended that all levels of government focus on adapting to the changes. Cities like Houston need to be better prepared for major storm events, even if it means disregarding the words and actions coming down from the nation's capitol.

"What's ecology?" Just take a look around.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


A request to my readers.
Dear Readers, please do me a favor and take a short survey, below, about my blog (readmyopinion). The traffic stats tell me that most readers get to it from Facebook, and this is because I post the links here. I am trying to reduce the ties between my life and the big internet entities, and I would prefer not to post links to my blog on Facebook. My blog is hosted on Google's blogspot, and I am looking at how to move to a hosting site that will not collect data from my blog.
So, if you would, the survey (you can answer in a comment by the question numbers):
1. Do you read my blog: a) never, b) sometimes, c) often.
2. If b or c above, do you go to it from: a) Facebook, b) directly to the blog, c) both.
3. Have you commented on a blog post of mine: a) never, b) once in awhile, c) often.
4. If b or c above, do you comment: a) on Facebook, b) on the blog site.
5. Would you ever go to my blog if it was not linked on Facebook? (Y or N)
6. Would you subscribe to my blog (RSS notification to your email) if it were easy to do and FREE? (Y or N)

Any other comments appreciated. Many thanks.


This is our world as seen from above the north pole. To most of us, this has always been an uninteresting and unfamiliar view because we don't recognize it as the world map we learned in school. The important point now is that this part of the world is becoming a new area of international competition and possible conflict. The reason: climate change.

As Arctic sea ice thins and disappears, shipping along the Northern Route, shown in the map, is becoming more feasible most of the year. To demonstrate this possibility, a new Russian ice-breaking LNG (liquified natural gas) tanker sailed from Norway through the Northern Route in 6.5 days, without an accompanying ice breaker. This is a major achievement, and signals a major increase in Northern Route shipping. Russia intends to use this route to transport LNG to Asia. You can read about it here.

The U.S., Canada and Russia are the major countries along the Arctic seas, and there is increasing competition for dominanxce of this trade route. In addition, the shrinking ice sheets are making more Arctic areas available for oil and gas exploration and development, another arena for competition between nations and corporations.

The irony is not lost on the fact that the use of fossil fuels has been the main driver of global climate change, and one result is opportunities for more oil and gas production and transportation.

The environmental impacts on the Arctic from this increase in shipping and oil/gas development can only be predicted, but we know enough to understand that there will be negative consequences.

History is filled with dreams and schemes of a Northern Route connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and many explorers have tried to find this fabled route. Now humans have found this holy grail, only because our actions have changed the climate and reduced the ice cover and thickness of the Arctic Seas.


Tuesday, August 22, 2017


Social media yesterday was filled with photos of people staring up into the sky wearing funny cardboard-framed dark glasses. There was something about it that looked familiar to me, and I realized that it reminded me of the early 3D movies that came out when I was a kid, and we all put on funny cardboard-framed glasses in the movie theater.

But yesterday wasn't a 3D movie, it was reality, a solar eclipse. Millions of people watched in amazement, wearing funny glasses, as the moon shadow covered the sun and, in the zone of totality, the world was dark for a short time. As a science geek, I keep thinking about the role of science in this event.

Before humans understood the science of astronomy, a total eclipse of the sun was terrifying. What must have gone through people's minds as they experienced this phenomenon? I also wonder how many people were blinded from watching an eclipse.

Now, because of science, we understand an eclipse. But science gives us more than an understanding. Scientists have models that allow them to calculate when an eclipse will happen, where it will be seen, the exact limits of the zone of totality, the timing at each location along the path, and so much more. I used an interactive google map yesterday to find the exact timing of the eclipse at specific locations (latitude and longitude), the duration of eclipse, the percent of obscuration, and other data.

And those funny-looking cardboard glasses? Science dictated the design of the lenses that protect human eyes from being damaged.

Science is part of everything we do today. The computer device I'm using right now, connected to the entire world through my wifi network is the result of applied research from many different science disciplines. Think about the difference in our lives now compared to a time when our ancesters were hunters-gatherers or simple farmers. (And yes, we can't not think about the two sides of science and technology use, positive and negative.)

I don't understand, and have little tolerance for people who purposefully negate the role of science in our lives. People like Donald Trump and many other elected officials who question the science of climate researchers, some even claiming that human-caused climate change is a hoax. And most Americans don't realize that the Trump administration is quietly rolling back science research programs and science-based regulations across all federal agencies, for the benefit of corporations. This anti-science movement is a real and present danger to the entire world.

We all need to look beyond the wierdness emanating from the White House (using the science-based tweet technology) and pay attention to the many ways science is being destroyed by our own president and his henchpersons. We need to let our electeds know that we do not agree with this.


Monday, August 21, 2017


In his remarks about the violent demonstration in Charlottesville, VA, President Donald J. Trump said that "I've condemned neo-Nazis, I've condemned many different groups. Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch." He offered no explanation for how he knew this to be true. 

The man in this photo is Matthew Heimbach, an American fascist, white-supremasist and neo-Nazi. He was an organizer of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA. that has now become infamous in American history. The photo was taken as he entered the courtroom to support the man who drove his car into a crowd of anti-right protesters, killing a young woman and injuring many others.

What most Americans didn't know when they saw this or other photos of this fascist was that the man pictured on the shirt, Corneliu Zelea Condreanu, was the leader of the fascist Legion of Saint Michael the Archangel and the Iron Guard political party in Romania during the late 1930's. Condreanu was behind huge pogroms in Romania that killed tens of thousands of Jews. He is now a revered figure to the fascist Heimbach and others in American and European fascist movements.

I am genetically a Jew (see footnote). My maternal grandmother immigrated to America from Romania, and my other grandparents came here from other parts of eastern Europe. The results of my recent genetic testing show that I am 96.7% Ashkenazi Jewish (the remainder, interestingly, groups with Irish/English, Sardinian, and East Asian/Native American!). So yes, I take the words and actions of fascists like Matthew Heimbach seriously; people just like him murdered people in my family and millions more of my people.

And yes, I take the the words of Donald J. Trump very seriously, and can only conclude that he, too, is a fascist.

I have nothing but enmity for the fascist Heimback and his ilk, and that includes the man who is presently the President of the United States of America. The message in recent Trumpian doublespeak is one of support for white supremacists and fascists, the so-called "alt-Right" who organized and participated in the violent Charlottesville demonstration. No rational, objective human being can defend these deplorables, but Trump does so with obvious glee and indignation. And Vice-President Pence stands "with the President" on this issue.

The fascists who marched in Charlottesville carrying Nazi flags and other fascist symbols call themselves patriots. Bullshit! Real American patriots include the more than 400,000 men and women who died, and the more than 671,000 who were wounded during World War II fighting the Nazis and their fascist allies. Carrying Nazi symbols and idolizing Nazis dishonors the true patriots of this country!

And then there is the case equivalency posed by Donald Trump comparing statues of Confederate generals and soldiers to those of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, both slave owners. Any intelligent person understands the obvious invalidity of this comparison. Washington and Jefferson helped establish a new country in a break from authoritarianism, a country with the ideal, still being fought for, that "all men [persons] are created equal." Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and other icons of the Confederacy, were part of a rebellion against the government of the United States, based on the perpetuation of slavery as a legal, sanctioned enterprise. The excerpts from the Constitution of the confederacy, below, leave nothing to the imagination:


  1. The importation of negroes of the African race, from any foreign country, other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same.
  2. Congress shall also have power to prohibit the introduction of slaves from any State not a member of, or Territory not belonging to, this Confederacy.
  3. ...
  4. No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves, shall be passed.


3. The Confederate States may acquire new territory, and Congress shall have power to legislate and provide government for the inhabitants of all territory belonging to the Confederate States, lying without the limits of the several States; and may permit them, at such times, and in such manner as it may by law provide, to form states to be admitted into the Confederacy. In all such territory, the institution of negro slavery as it now exists in the Confederate States, shall be recognized and protected by Congress, and by the territorial government; and the inhabitants of the several Confederate States and Territories, shall have the right to take to such territory any slaves, lawfully held by them in any of the States or Territories of the Confederate States.

The vast majority of Americans are not fascists. The events in Charlottesville, and the many race and hate crimes being committed in America this year, are symptoms of a disease, a disease of morality and conscience. These haters must be pointed out and shamed at every opportunity. We value free speech in America, but we do not value hate speech and speech that incites violence. Not even, and especially from a President!

Footnote: There is a common misperception that the term "Jew" refers to a religious group. While it is true that many Jewish people practice the Jewish religion, it is also true that many people who are genetically Jewish are not religious. To the Nazis in Germany, and the neo-Nazis around the world now, as well as many other anti-Semites, the term "jew" is a derogatory term used for anyone who has any familial or genetic Jewishness. When the alt-right demonstrators in Charlottesville chanted "jews will not replace us," they were not referring to people who practice the Jewish religion. Anti-Jew hate speech and violence around the world are not crimes against a religious group, they are race crimes.

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Morning in the Garden of Tranquility

Wearing shorts and a tank top, a cup of iced coffee on the wide arm of the Adirondak chair, sitting in the morning coolness of the garden; my attempt to start the day not thinking about the circus in D.C.

The sound of water falling on a large rock and dribbling into the pool below is the primary sound this early. The throbbing groan of the AC unit two houses away occupies the background. This is urban quiet.

A single ray of sunshine slices through the Italian cypress trees and illuminates the moon bridge, part of the stone temple, and the top of a feathery grass. A small breeze stirs a few mellow tones from the wind chime on the deck above.

The air in the sun ray is alive with tiny white erratic flecks - small flies that I call gnats. Their haphazard movements are somewhat hypnotic, adding a visual calming. The effect is broken, or enahnced for this ecologist, by predatory wasps and flies that speed through the shaft of light, hawking for the small living flecks.

My focus shifts outward as the city awakens. A dog barks. A truck lumbers past in front of the house. The faint roar of a jet high overhead takes a spot in my hearing. The pool of sunlight creeps towards my feet and warms the flat stones of the patio. My moment of peace is nearly over.

The temperature today will be 99 degrees. The political scandal of the moment will blast its way into my head. I will start the next task on my endless to-do list and another day will be in full bloom.

Thank you, Garden of Tranquility, for this brief moment of peace to start my day.


Saturday, July 22, 2017


I sat on the beach with nature for a very long time. It was a very low tide, and the  shallow bay was mostly mud- and sand-flats. I had no computer device in my hand, no printed material, no earphones. By pushing my tinnitus into the background, I could hear only faint or occasional sounds; the thrumming of a distant ship engine and nature itself. It was an overcast day, somewhere between cool and warm, with no breeze. I sat and watched. I sat and listened. I sat and was. 

Faint shadows appeared, and my back felt sun warmed, only for a few moments. Then cold flowed over me like a wave along the ground, and mist rose from the mudflat in front of me. I mentally hugged myself for warmth. My eyelids grew suddenly heavy, and I drifted with the mist.

Raven stopped to chat, settling on the water- and sun-worn root wad on the beach near me. I wondered what all the fuss was early in the morning when I heard him and his Clan in the roosting tree. I told him about the coyote chorus in the middle of the night before, and how I wished I had also studied their language when my brain was young and flexible. They sounded excited, maybe joyful; I didn’t know. 

Raven is wise enough to talk to me without revealing those things that only ravens should know. And so he told me of his family, where his kids were living, how many visitors they had from other clans this summer; in other words news, but nothing too important. He did share that the big fuss that morning was another of the Raven Clan political arguments, and that one of his cousins, a distant one, launched into a rant about this and that. I asked if it was about us, the humans; he demurred.

Raven left to do some foraging on the mud flat before the tide turned, and he bid me a kind farewell until we met again. I enjoy Raven. Many people think he and his kind are course, crass, verging on vulgar; but I have known him for a long time, and understand that, unlike Crow, Raven and his own are honest, kind, and very forgiving.

After a quiet interlude, Eagle glided spread-winged over my head from her nest in the fir tree on the bluff behind me. She screeched a greeting as she passed, and I knew she needed to find more food for her young ones. She soared across the mudflat, wheeled suddenly and appeared to stall, then settled on something below. I couldn’t see what she was pulling on, perhaps a fish carcass, a stranded crab, maybe a dead gull. The food item occupied her for a very long time as I watched. Several times she spread her wings and hopped a short distance, carrying the item with her. It was a series of perplexing movements - perplexing to a watching human. 

As I watched, I noticed that the area of land around Eagle was rapidly growing narrower; the tide was flowing. The tide that day was extreme, and as it rose it raced across the flats with an astonishing speed. Eagle stayed in place as the land grew narrower, finally opening her wings and jumping skyward just as the water reached her position. The light bulb lit above my head; Eagle’s strange hopping was an adjustment of her position to the highest point of ground on what to me was a pancake-flat surface. How did she do that? I’ll have to ask the next time we talk. 

Eagle soared directly towards me, and gave me a quick glance and nod as she passed overhead to the nest with her waiting, hungry children. Such a polite being, even when busy.

A sound startled me awake. It was my wife calling from the bluff above. I was still sitting in a chair on the beach. The tide had come in, the water silently rushing across the mudflat towards me, and small waves lapped the shore not far from my feet. There was no Raven, no Eagle; had it all been a dream? 

I think sometimes the boundary between awake and dreaming is fuzzy, and the real and imagined blend and separate in varying patterns. For me, this exploring of boundaries occurs most when I am alone with nature, trying to attune my dulled senses to the absence of human society inputs and the underlying sights, sounds, smells and feel of my surroundings. Deep down, I know that if I successfully cross the boundary, I can have that chat with Raven, ask Eagle how she knows certain things, understand and appreciate the music of Coyote. We humans have that ability, but most of us lost it long ago. 


Imagined or experienced on the beach of the Lummi Peninsula, Lummi Bay, lands of the Lummi Nation in Washington State. 

Friday, July 21, 2017


Dear Republican Senators: I'll be blunt here, what the hell are you doing?? I know, you want to prove to your mythical "base" that you are tough, you are true conservatives, and you keep your promises. To those ends, you have wasted countless hours over the past several years trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act - your so-called "Obamacare." And now you are at it again - you are making me gag!

Your mantra is "Obamacare is a disaster! Obamacare is a catastrophe!" NO IT IS NOT!!

Check the dictionary. Disaster: a sudden event, such as an accident or a natural catastrophe, that causes great damage or loss of life. Catastrophe: an event causing great and often sudden damage or suffering; a disaster.

The ACA is neither a disaster nor a catastrophe. The ACA is a law that has helped millions of Americans have access to health care that is covered by insurance, something they have never had for a variety of reasons. You know this, and you know this well. In fact, your "Base," such as it is, has been yelling at you to not take away their health insurance, including Medicaid that millions of them depend on.

So what is your motivation to destroy peoples lives? Keep in mind that you have a basic job description in the Constitution, and that is "to promote the general welfare." For some reason, you have misread this as saying that your job is "to promote the corporate welfare and the welfare of the super wealthy." A pox on all your houses!

You, dear Republican Senators, are playing with fire. In the early days of the Republic, folks like you would be tarred and feathered and carried through the streets on a rail. If only! You are truly despicable people who have let partisanship take sway over your responsibility to govern in ways that promote the general welfare. It is plain to all that your only interest is in your own self-promotion and some sort of vague sense of victory in political battle. For shame! You are not governing, you are playing, and your play is making life miserable for millions of people in this country.

And then there is Trump. Ah yes, the buffoon you used to laugh at, the clown you said would never be nominated by your party to be the candidate for president. And now that Trump is the president, you smile and giggle and pat him on the back and pose with him wearing your shit-eating grins as he concludes the most ridiculous and disasterous (yes, disaster) pieces of executive order or law with his seismic scrawl. Gag me again! Have you no shame? Have you no basic sense of decency? Have you no idea that you need to wipe the brown stuff off your nose and lips?

History will correctly identify you as among the least competent, least representative and most damaging legislators in our history. Congratulations.

I hope your "repeal and replace" the ACA gambit continues to burn in your faces for all to see. I hope you fail at this endeavor. And all your other schemes, too.

Disrespectfully yours....a true American



Definition of civil
1 a : of or relating to citizens civil duties
b : of or relating to the state or its citizenry; civil strife
2a : civilized; civil society
b : adequate in courtesy and politeness; mannerly; a civil question;

A civil war is raging in America, and it is composed of both civil strife and incivility. Citizens are polarized as never before in our lifetimes. Large chasms have opened between people in terms of politics and culture. The signs of this civil war are everywhere we turn; in the news, and in our daily conversations.

The current President of the United States and his minions have, through actions, words, and silence condoned and fanned the flames of this civil war. They didn't start this war; it was brewing for some time. Things came to a head with the election of Barak Obama, and it has been raging ever since, fueled by bigotry. Truth, facts, objectivity and science have become victims of one-sided and often ignorant thought. The tiny percentage of Americans who wield the most control over our politics and government have purposefully planned and enabled hate and ignorance.

Huge numbers of Americans, likely to soon be the majority, are the victims of government action and inaction. The political appointments of Directors of government agencies have been placed with one mission in mind: destroy the existing fabric of government that serves the people, and replace it with a new fabric that serves the wealthy and the corporations. The victims include women, children, non-white persons, non-Christian persons, working people, and everyone who cannot afford an education and health care.

Racism has never died in the American system, but is alive and well and thoroughly woven into all aspects and levels of government. Small incremental gains under more democratic administrations have been reversed or are under imminent threat at the hands of the present administration. Bigotry, always there but often cloaked, has emerged into the light of day as more and more people express openly what they previously only murmured quietly. It is now commonplace to see or hear about verbal and physical hate crimes and speech directed against all those who are "the other."

Immigrants and refugees are now singled out as a danger to American society, and this battlefield has even seen federal courts doing battle with the administration. One side wants to erect walls and enact laws to keep certain kinds of people (i.e. non-white, non-Christian) out; the Statue of Liberty weeps with shame.

The party presently in control of the federal government seems to be purposefully immune to the truths about their actions and plans. Health care, as an example, is a major battleground in this civil war. The controlling party has vowed for years to repeal the federal health care law that has made health care available to tens of millions of Americans who were shut out until it's enactment. Now this political party is in control of the Congress and the Executive, and gaining power in the Judiciary branch. And yet, even with this almost total control, they cannot pass a law that repeals and replaces the existing health care act. This failure is a direct result of the civil war; millions of Americans want to keep their access to health care, even though the controlling political party wants to destroy it.

Climate change, a well-known, if inconvenient truth to those in power, is an increasing cause of hardship and suffering world-wide. This is another major battlefield in our civil war, with clearly drawn battle lines. The president and his minions use their "alternative facts" to negate the truth of human-caused climate change, and have even gone as far as setting in motion a withdrawal from an unprecedented global agreement to reduce carbon emissions. With the federal government on one side of the battle line, an increasing number of cities, counties, states and corporations have dug in on the other side, declaring that they will honor and act on the Paris Accord.

Civility has also been swept aside in this civil war. Never in our lifetimes have we seen a presidential candidate openly spew hate speech directed at so many people and groups. Never have we seen a President publicly and relentlessly castigate the news media. Radio, television and internet personalities on both sides of the political divide regularly insult, denigrate and mock anyone and everyone who is on the other side of their beliefs (or the positions they are paid to espouse). People are verbally and sometimes physically attacked in public for being "the other." People on opposite sides of the political divide can only yell at and insult each other, rather than have serious and respectful conversations. This civility divide is getting wider every day.

How and when will the civil war of 2017 end? Are the results still an open question, or does one side have a winning advantage over the other? (In fact, there are likely more than two sides in this battle.) One fact is abundantly clear, the interests that presently control the federal government have the advantage of that control, as well as tremendous wealth. They will probably maintain that control after the 2018 election, which will set up a major battle in 2020. The controlling interests have at least one clear advantage right now, a monolithic block of voters who hew to a small number of conservative ideals. This voting block can and will be mobilized around this small number of ideals, and under our electoral system can maintain their controlling position.

The other side of the political divide, unfortunately, is itself seriously divided. The wedges holding these divides open include political correctness, intersectionality, accusations of bigotry, non-inclusiveness, vestiges and scars of Bernie v. Hillary, not-progeressive-enough-ism, and others. This side of the civil war lost badly in the 2016 election, and is poised to continue on the same path unless the need for serious and drastic changes are understood and implemented - a daunting task.

Future historians will pour over the records of the 2017 American civil war. The realities of their world will be a direct result of the battles being fought in this war. There is no way to predict the outcomes, but it is certain that 2017 represents a turning point in American and world history. The extent of the casualties is unknowable now; all that can be said is that there will be many over the course of ther next few generations.

Can we end this war soon? I am optimistic that so many people have become energized and spurred into political action. I am pessimistic that the so-far disjointed and leaderless efforts of one side, my side, have little chance of prevailing against the juggernaut of wealth and power on the other side. Perhaps our best hope is that the other side suffers a major implosion that leaves an advantageous opening.

Time will tell, and time is racing into the future.