Tuesday, January 31, 2017


A number of our FB friends have posted that they are boycotting Uber. I don't agree with this as a political strategy, but the larger question is why boycott anything?

The boycott has been used effectively a few times in our recent history. The United Farm Worker's Union, under Ceasar Chavez, used a boycott of Gallo wine and table grapes as a way to build public pressure on the grape/wine industry to negotiate with farmworkers to improve working conditions, pay and other benefits. The boycott campaign was well thought-out and managed, and actually helped achieve the union goals over a period of many years.

A boycott's effectiveness depends on how widespread it becomes, and how persistent. If the target is a large corporation or industry, the target will have greater staying power (i.e. money, lawyers, public relations, etc.) than a poorly organized "organic" boycott. The various social media make it relatively easy to spread the word; however, this type of home-grown boycott has little chance of success over the long-term because there is no strategy, no plan, no funding and PR campaign.

The underlying question about boycotting Uber or any other company is: "what is the goal?" The Uber boycott, apparently started by one or more persons on Twitter or Facebook, was in response to the perception that Uber's CEO is a major Trump supporter, and that Uber didn't stop service to JFK when one of the taxi companies did as a way to protest the Trump immigration/refugee Order.

But what does boycotting Uber really do? Does your deletion of the Uber app hurt Donald Trump? No, absolutely not. Does it harm the Uber CEO financially? No. If enough people do this, maybe it will have a financial impact in part of their market. But more likely your boycott of Uber will hurt the Uber drivers in your neighborhood, you know, the people who are trying to make a living by driving you around. Is this really your intent? (And btw, a bit of research shows that Lyft is heavily financed by major Trump supporters, so the boycott Uber - use Lyft meme is nonsense.)

Jumping on a boycott bandwagon is not necessarily a PC thing to do. In fact, in my opinion, it is rarely a correct thing to do. Too many people jump on these bandwagons simply because someone they know has done the same, and it is very likely that no one has taken the small amount of time needed to check facts and then think about it. It is easy, way too easy on social media, to click on something, or share something that sounds like a good idea. We all need to be more mindful. We all need to toss PC in the trash bin and be more intentional.

We are presently being played, big time, by Steve Bannon, the puppet master pulling Trump's strings. He is laughing at us. He tells Trump to ban immigrants and refugees, and the left boycotts Uber! Hilarious! We fools are doing exactly what he wants us to do - taking our eyes off the reality of his political coup and fighting among ourselves.

Let's be smart, not PC.


Friday, January 27, 2017


We Jews remember; evolution has made it part of our DNA. We have been "the other" since the beginning. We have been hounded across continents. We have been the convenient object of whips, clubs, knives, axes, torches, bullets, and the much more "advanced" technology of gas chambers. 

Those who today self-assign as Nazis, or the so much more fashionable "Alt-Right" have no claim to notoriety except as brutes. And yet. And yet. 

Those who deny the barbaric deeds of a government and it's people deny my history, my existence, and although this pleases them, they are no more than a cruel mutation.

Those who play the anti-Israel game without concern that it fans the flames of Jew hatred, because it is The Bandwagon, because it is Politically Correct, because it is "intersectionality;" well, to them I say, lucky it's not you. 

I am an atheist. I am a Jew. If Hitler's (or Trump's?) Storm Troopers knock on my door I will be hauled away with those from the synagogue, regardless, because of my genes. There are no buts. 

And now a poem. I am not a poet, but many people are. Here is one that is not apologetic. Here is one filled with anger...righteous anger! Read it, to the end. I truly hope you don't enjoy it. 


a poem by William Pillin



We, the captives of a thousand skies,
sang the airs of many peoples,
tango, waltz and leaping czardash;

but the waltz stumbles, the oboe
is poised on the brink of a scream.

We whispered madrigals of woe
in sewers and cellars.
We learned sparrow wit, hangman humor,
at the bottom of scaffolds,
at the gates of stone chimneys.

Europe, the odor of your guilt
lingers in our nostrils.
You are a perspective of walls
diminishing in cold moonlight.

Vanish from our songs!


Will your pianos haunt us to the end?
The stars in your snows, O steppes?
the sunlight bleeding gold
on the rim of a snow-foaming mountain?

Facade of roses and wings,
shall we cloak our memories in blue
because your gardens sang to the sun?

The kaftan companions of the Presence
are swept from the streets of your cities.
Our migrants kiss a new wind
scented with ancient cedars.

Farewell, the Vienna woods are no longer calling,
or the grimacing spires of Cologne,
or your gleaming cupolas, Kiev.


Your temples are Gothic stalactites,
frozen tears of eternity;
your gardens are lavender clouds;
your streetlamp shimmering buoys
of musical boulevards.

But you were never our motherland.
We were born
not on the Rhine or the Vistula
but in Abraham’s tent
on a journey from Ur to Judea.

This you never ceased to remind us;
that we are alien,
remote from you, the light of a dead star
that faintly lingers upon this planet.


We are leaving. We take little with us;
some music, a few poems.

It is well that we stand under new arches
bequeathing to our children
our praises, our celebrations.

Our Einstein will toughen the mental sinews
       of other continents.
Our Freud will plumb the dark soul of Asia.
Our Marx will rally the cadres of jungles
       and savannah.


We are leaving. No longer will you have to cross
yourself, people with pitchforks and cudgels,
as our huddled remnants trudge over your

O mother of white nights, after a millennium on
your steppes your hostages are pleading: let
us depart!

We are leaving our ancestral tombs, our shrines,
our wealth endlessly plundered by the card-
playing nobles.

We are leaving you forever, belching Siegfried,
Vladimir red-eyed from distilled potatoes!


Europe, you realm of carnivorous blondes!
Your grand canals are clogged by chemical silt,
The sculptures of your saints are eroded by
pigeon droppings.
Smokestacks spew their black spittle on the
vineyards of Chateau de Rothschild.

Elegant bushmen celebrate your Requiem Mass
with tom-toms and banjos.

Even as you revel in your utopia of pig-fat,
blood sausage and Pilsen
you look nervously over your shoulder
at the lean wolves of the east.

They will strip your flesh leaving
the bare bones of cathedrals.
What the wolves will not eat -
monuments, fountains, castles -
will be shipped stone by antique stone
to the Disneylands of America.


Basta! Genug! Assez! Dostatochno!

Farewell, blue-eyed maiden. You need no
longer exclaim on seeing the mark of
our ancient covenant: “You cheated me!
You never told me!”

Farewell, priests whose blood mysteries at
Lent goaded the tavern heroes to wield
their axes among us.

Zbigniew, whom will your children curse?
Zoltan, astride a stallion, at who will
you lash out galloping by?

You have no one to bludgeon but each other!

© by William Pillin 1975
in the abandoned music room

Kayak Books, Santa Cruz, CA

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States

Executive Order: Enhancing Public Safety
in the Interior of the United States

January 25, 2017

This Trump Executive Order is for rounding up and deporting "REMOVABLE ALIENS." They are not illegal any longer, they are The Removables!!

This Order is infuriating and outrageous. Every American should read it in it's entirity.

One paragraph is about my city, Portland, Oregon, as well as many other cities:

Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States. These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.

We are a self-declared Sanctuary City, which means our police will not act as immigration officers of the federal government. Are we violating Federal law? If so, BRING IT, you megalomaniac! We will fight you in the streets, in the courts, everywhere!

Anf then there is this:

Sec. 5. Enforcement Priorities. In executing faithfully the immigration laws of the United States, the Secretary of Homeland Security (Secretary) shall prioritize for removal those aliens described by the Congress in sections ... as well as removable aliens who:

(a) Have been convicted of any criminal offense;

(b) Have been charged with any criminal offense, where such charge has not been resolved;

(c) Have committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense;

(d) Have engaged in fraud or willful misrepresentation in connection with any official matter or application before a governmental agency;

(e) Have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits;

(f) Are subject to a final order of removal, but who have not complied with their legal obligation to depart the United States; or

(g) In the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security.

WTF? "Have been charged...where such charge has not been resolved." Guilty without being proven guilty!

"Committed acts that CONSTITUTE a chargeable criminal offense." That is ALL of us! I was speeding the other day and didn't get caught. I said something out loud in the shower that could be a treasonable statement but the FBI didn't hear me.

"In the judgment of an immigration officer, otherwise pose a risk to public safety or national security." So, in other words, some immigration officer doesn't like the way someone looks, you know, he has brown skin and therefore looks like a criminal. In that officer's judgment the guy poses a risk. And that's all that is needed to deport someone.

Folks, this is truly bad shit. This is not our America.


Sunday, January 22, 2017


Note to readers: I decided that a good way to figure out what the Trump administration is doing is to go directly to the horse's mouth (no, I'm not talking to The DOTUS), the website whitehouse.gov.  I plan to post summaries, notices, and duck-and-cover warnings from things I find under the series title: Trumpwatch, Whitehouse.gov

The Whitehouse website has a tab for Issues. Here is my summary of the issue titled: An America First Energy Plan:


Energy is an essential part of American life and a staple of the world economy. 

A brighter future depends on energy policies that stimulate our economy, ensure our security, and protect our health. Under the Trump Administration's energy policies, that future can become a reality.

And to achieve that real future, here are the steps...
  • get free from our dependence on foreign oil (a false premise)
  • drill baby drill
    • everywhere, including federal lands
  • Clean Coal!
  • non-carbon energy sources (wind, solar, etc.) are not even mentioned (!!)
  • eliminate "burdensome" regulations on the energy industry
  • eliminate "harmful and unnecessary policies," such as the Climate Action Plan (Obama) and Waters of the United States (Nixon)
  • "embrace" the shale oil and gas revolution (fracking)
  • use domestic oil and gas profits to rebuild U. S. infrastructure
  • and agriculture will benefit, too, from less expensive energy (gratuitous nod to Midwest voters)
  • gain energy independence from the OPEC cartel, helping our anti-terrorism efforts (another false premise)
  • oh, and we almost forgot, be responsible stewards of clean air and water, conserve "natural habitats (?)" and preserve natural reserves and resources
  • achieve the environmental stewardship, above, by "refocusing" the EPA on protecting air and water (not climate)
  • and "protect our health"...not mentioned again. 
If the above summary is good enough for you, you're finished reading, although I do encourage you to go to the issue page at whitehouse.gov and read the policy statement - it's a quick read.

If you want my usual fact-based opinion (after all, that's why you readmyopinion), read on!

America First is a recurring Trumpism. The Trump energy policy direction can be summarized in three words: drill baby drill. "Energy is an essential part of American life and a staple of the world economy." With this opening statement, Trump signals that the value (re: profit) of energy is an economic foundation of our country, including our global reach, and that Americans can't do without it. The "energy" in this policy is oil and gas and coal - period. Non-hydrocarbon energy sources are not mentioned in this issue statement. This is very telling.

We have two major problems regarding energy in America, according to Trump: 1) we are dependent on foreign oil, and 2) we have been held back by "burdensome regulations on our energy industry." Let's look at these two items.

1. According to the U. S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), "In 2015, U.S. net imports (imports minus exports) of petroleum from foreign countries were equal to about 24% of U.S. petroleum consumption, the lowest level since 1970." In other words, the statement is false, we are not dependent on foreign oil (and "foreign" includes the 40% of our oil imports that come from Canada).

2. How burdensome are regulations on American oil and gas production? Here are graphs of U. S. oil and gas production showing that domestic production over the past 10 years has doubled for crude oil, and increased by over 50% for natural gas. In other words, nothing, including regulation, has kept domestic oil and gas production from increasing significantly. The statement is false.

Government data also show that U.S. exports of crude oil and petroleum products have increased more than seven-fold over the past 10 years. In other words, the oil and gas industry is doing very well, thank you.

Trump wants to eliminate "harmful and unnecessary policies," using as examples the Climate Action Plan implemented by the Obama Administration, and Waters of the United States, implemented with the Clean Water Act amendments by the Nixon Administration. What exactly are these? 

The Climate Action Plan was issued by President Obama in 2013. It is a comprehensive plan that has numerous important actions, including: 
  • regulating greenhouse gas emissions
  • energy efficiency
  • renewable energy
  • natural gas
  • leading by example
  • climate resilience
  • international climate change leadership. 

As you can clearly see by the above list, these are "harmful and unnecessary policies!" Harmful and unnecessary, that is, to oil and gas and coal profits. Climate change is, after all, a hoax; although, many of Trump's cabinet appointees don't agree with that.  

The Climate Action Plan link was removed from Whitehouse.gov just after Trump was inaugurated, along wth many other links and items. (Note: if you want a copy, go to the link above and download the PDF, it might be hard to find in the future.) 

"Waters of the United States" is defined in the Clean Water Act Amendments of 1972 to include wetlands, springs, bogs, streams, rivers, estuaries and other "waters" that were placed under the Clean Water Act regulations in order to protect them. By "protect" the Act didn't mean they are off limits, rather, it regulates them in order to protect and preserve these natural resources that provide numerous benefits to fish, wildlife and human society. The concept of ecosystem services came later, and further underscored the importance of protecting these Waters. This concept of Waters has always been controversial, and has been attacked often by conservative politicians and the economic interests they represent. 

The Trump energy plan wants to utilize the untapped energy reserves in the United States, most of which are under federal lands in western states. Profits from this increased oil and gas development will be used to rebuild roads, bridges, schools and other infrastructure. In other words, with the cooperation of the agency Secretaries he is putting in place, Trump will cut a deal with the oil and gas industry to siphon off some of the future windfall profits from energy development on public lands to pay for infrastructure development. 

Trump's plan will boost national security by bringing us energy independence from the OPEC cartel, and by building "a positive energy relationship" with U.S. allies in the Gulf as part of our anti-terrorist efforts. 

Ready for facts? About 31% of the petroleum imports to the U.S. (remember, this means 31% of the 24% of our oil that we import) are from OPEC countries, including Saudi Arabia (11%) and Venezuela (9%).  Most of the remainder of petroleum imports are from Canada (40%), Mexico (8%) and Colombia (4%). Confused? How about a chart? (The chart is courtesy of the Energy Department, you know, the one Rick Perry couldn't remember that he wanted to eliminate. So yes, we still import petroleum from OPEC countries, but we are hardly "dependent" on them. 

Unfortunately, demand for oil in the U.S. is rising along with automobile sales. The Obama Administration tried to deal with this through conservation, increasing automobile fuel efficiency, and other methods; all of these will be cast aside by the Trumps. 

What about coal? Trump has promised to boost the coal industry in America. Although coal production has declined significantly in the USA over the recent period, it remains a major source of energy for generating electricity. In fact, according to the EIA, coal use might eclipse natural gas again this winter (see chart, below), primarily because coal is much less expensive than natural gas. Coal and natural gas use have been trading places for first place over the past couple of years, and this will continue based on weather and price. 

Interestingly, "by the middle of 2017, increased generation from renewable energy sources is expected to reduce the generation shares of both coal and natural gas. In July 2017, projected generating capacity from utility-scale solar and wind plants is 57% and 10% higher, respectively, than in July 2016," according to the EIA. This previous statement, however, was written prior to the 2016 election. 

The other major factor in coal production is the increase in coal use worldwide, which many estimates show increasing over the next few decades. 

And lastly: Lastly, our need for energy must go hand-in-hand with responsible stewardship of the environment. Protecting clean air and clean water, conserving our natural habitats, and preserving our natural reserves and resources will remain a high priority. President Trump will refocus the EPA on its essential mission of protecting our air and water.

So, clean air and clean water, natural habitats (as opposed to alternative fact habitats?), natural reserves and resources - not sure what these are - are thrown in for good measure. And who will do all this protecting and conserving? I guess the diminished EPA, which will be "refocused" to do this. The subtext here is that the EPA will NOT be doing anything about climate change, including the regulation of CO2, or anything else outside the protection of air and water, which means they won't be doing much at all.

As we see and understand the new Trump Administration policies, we should look for patterns of intersection. One obvious example is the Trump pick for Secretary of State, the former CEO of Exxon-Mobile. The U. S. has become a major exporter of fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal), and we can expect new international deals in which the Trump energy policy facilitates increased domestic production and sales of hydrocarbon rules abroad, with obvious windfall profits to the energy companies. 

But more about this in a future post. 


Tuesday, January 17, 2017


President-elect Donald J. Trump has a Twitter account identified as @realDonaldTrump. He uses it daily, often in the wee hours of the morning. Using tweets, Mr. Trump spreads fake news, shames people, insults people, and generally acts like an 8-year old (I actually looked up the behavioral characteristics of boys, and Donald fits closely with the 8-year old category - but more about that in another post).

I am amazed that, even before being inaugurated, Donald has managed to piss-off the GOP in Congress, the member nations of the European Union and England, NATO, Mexico, huge numbers of Americans afraid that they will lose their health insurance, and many other groups. Wow, what an accomplishment.

And he reacted by picking a fight with Rep. John Lewis, the Civil Rights icon!

Even a number of his Cabinet nominees disagreed with the President-elect during their Senate confirmation hearings, on issues such as climate change, NATO, Russia, the nuclear arms deal with Iran, and more.

Trump's approval rating is the lowest ever recorded for a President-elect.

It seems that the only friend Donald Trump has going into this new job is Vladimir Putin.

If Donald J. Trump was a presidential President-elect, he would be using Twitter very differently. In the spirit of President Obama's Anger Management Translator, I have decided to be Mr. Trump's Good Twitter Translator for this post. Here goes:

@realPOTUS-elect. Thank you NATO for your support and sacrifices fighting terrorism since 9/11! Great job! Great job!

@realPOTUS-elect. Chancellor Merkel of Germany has a heart of gold re refugees and we can all learn from her. Really great!

@realPOTUS-elect. England is our greatest friend and partner and we will always support them. It will be great!

@realPOTUS-elect. Rep. John Lewis - a great man who I respect. I look forward to working with him and finding common ground to help the American people. He's terrific. He's really terrific. We'll miss him at the inauguration.

@realPOTUS-elect. GM, Walmart and other great companies previously planned more hiring of Americans. Great example for American companies. Fantastic. Made in America.

@realDonaldTrump - see what I mean? Try it, really great, really great idea!


Thursday, January 12, 2017


I've been wondering about something since the election in November: is the Republican Congress really in alignment with Trump? Well, for one thing, do we really know what Trumpism actually is? The DOTUS-elect talks in sweeping generalities, so it's been difficult to pin down what he actually stands for and what he actually wants to do. And we should not forget that many, if not most of the GOP leadership was very much against Trump before he won the nomination.

But I do know this, the GOP has sprung into action even before Trump has been inaugurated. They are wasting no time pushing through legislation intended to be the wrecking ball of Democratic achievements. And they have very deliberately scheduled confirmation hearings for Trump cabinet appointments within a very tight timeline, and before the vetting of these nominees has been completed.

In typical Trump fashion, he held a press conference on the same day as critical confirmation hearings in the Senate, and very purposefully threw hand grenades at the press in order to divert media attention away from the hearings and focused on his press conference performance (and I use the term performance very deliberately).

And so, even before there is a President Trump, we have the Grand Old Party wrecking havoc on our nation. And let's be crystal clear here, these GOP mobsters are hell-bent on destruction, and have nothing good in mind for the rest of us.

Case in point: is anyone else as astonished as I am that after 6 years of trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Republicans don't have an alternate health care plan in mind? Seriously? You've had 6 years of whining and lying and trying to destroy the health care safety net for Americans, and you have no plan to replace it? That's not just nuts, that's evil!! You, members of the GOP Congress, are disingenuous, shallow and reprehensible people who have and are shirking the primary task assigned to you by the Constitution of the United States: "Congress shall promote the general welfare." A pox on all your houses!

Meanwhile, on the question of the GOP being Trumpist, well, it remains to be seen. The GOP Congress, like dung beetles in a pile of elephant poop, have rushed headlong into repealing "Obamacare" as quickly as they can. Do they have an alternate plan in place? Well, no, they admit, but they will come up with something within several months. But wait a minute, the DOTUS-elect has a different idea; he has stated that repeal and a new plan will be done simultaneously. Oops. Is this simply a case of mixed signals, or is there actually a disconnect between the Congressional GOP and the incoming executive?

We need to pay attention to this aspect of the new administration and the Congress. Will they be aligned, or will Trump and his GOP-led Congress continue to have different ideas? Time will tell.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017


Thank you, Mr. President! Thank you for the examples you set as our President in so many ways. We will miss you.

We watched our President's last speech to the nation this evening, and as seen on social media, we were not alone. I don't want to dwell on the sadness so many of us feel as this man and his family leave our White House. Instead, I want to talk about the message he left us, not only in his farewell speech, but in the story of his presidency.

I don't know many people who think Obama is/was a terrible President; in fact, I can only think of three. That fact goes directly to a point our President made in his speech, that we each tend to keep within our own bubbles in terms of the people we know, the news we select to read and watch, the opinions we hold. The President instructed us not to only talk with people of different opinions on social media, but to go out and meet them and talk to them in person. That sounds like a good idea, and a daunting assignment.

You see, I know that there is no way I would ever change the minds of the people I know who think President Obama is/was a bad president, and there is certainly no way they would change my mind. So what's the point of talking? Why not simply argue on Facebook and Twitter, maybe throw out some insults, get pissed off and use nasty words; after all, we are hiding behind the screen and can't be seen. But that's his point, having a conversation on social media is not having a conversation. And we truly need more conversation and less yelling in this country (and the world).

So OK, I will try to find situations in which I can sit together with people who have different opinions and have a conversation. I won't try to change their minds; I will try to listen and understand.

There is something even more important my President told me this evening. He schooled me, once again, on the process and the institutions of American democracy. And I think we all need a refresher course on this topic. Democracy is not a straight line between points a and b. It is a squiggly line that goes all over the place, sometimes in the direction I like, sometimes not. But if everything in our political lives only went my way, it would be a dictatorship, with me in charge, And if you're lucky, I'd be the benevolent type!

Everyone in my political and social bubble is feeling bereft right now. We are feeling and acting like losers, but it doesn't feel the same as the other recent times we lost. This one is different, and we think it is different because of the personality of the man who won and the ugliness he condoned, and even encouraged. We can feel the doom approaching; we can see the pieces of democracy going the wrong way - not our way - being put in place at a terrifying pace. It appears that the people being appointed to positions of power are being placed there for the purpose of tearing down, not building up. And this scares us.

But our President told us that this is the way democracy works, and I believe him because he is correct. America will survive this new period of American politics, but it won't be the same America it is today. That is how history works. Nothing stays static; change happens. But he warned us, very clearly, that in order to come out the other end of the tunnel we are rapidly approaching, we all need to participate. He chided us for our dismal record of voter turnout for a modern country, and he was correct. He told us to get on our feet and get politically active, and he was correct. After all, he taught us, democracy isn't a thing, democracy is us. We are the citizens of democracy, and the squiggly line of democracy is guided by citizens.

So we need to stop acting like losers and start acting like winners. As our beloved First Lady kept telling us, when they go low, we go high!

We are not losing President Obama; he will be in our lives for many years to come. I expect him, actually, I count on him to continue to lead by example, no longer as President of the United States, but as a citizen of American democracy. So I won't say goodby to my President, I will simply say, "Good night, Mr. President. We'll be seeing you. And yes, we will!!"