“Staying Ahead of Reality Since 2001”

“Don’t Legitimize Crooked Process,” Says Candidate

LAS VEGAS (Plausible News Service) – The day after a bruising campaign debate in which he said he may not accept the result of the election, GOP Presidential candidate Donald J. Trump has dropped yet another bombshell.

In a hastily called press conference Thursday morning, a haggard-looking Trump urged his supporters to stay home on Election Day, in protest of what he has called “a crooked process” and a “rigged election.”

“Let’s face it, folks, this whole thing has been rigged, big-time, from the get-go,” Trump declared. “You could see it last night, she had the questions, she had the answers, she had everything. It’s been the same deal all the way down the line, and you know it. She’s got the media, she’s got the voting machines, it’s ridiculous. I’m telling you, we shouldn’t legitimize a crooked process like this by even participating. It’s an insult, believe me, an insult to the American people.”

Boycotts of elections by entire political parties or ethnic groups are not unheard of in other countries, but no American major-party candidate has ever issued such a call.

Trump supporters took the news stoically. “He’s right,” said retired bookkeeper Maude Asahatter of Green Bay, WI. “I was looking forward to voting for him, but he’s right. It’s a done deal, so there’s just no point. We’ll live to fight another day.”

Eric Kneebone, a truck transmission repair specialist from Mad River, KY, was defiant. “Hillary will have a hollow victory,” he said. “She’ll go through her term knowing the American people, real American people, I mean, don’t want her there.”

GOP officials, however, were livid, fearing losses of key Congressional and Senate races. “Who does [Trump] think he is, [expletive] Samson?” tweeted Republican strategist Chuck Scheissblum. “He’s gonna bring the whole temple down on our heads!”

Slow Motion Train Wreck

Slow Motion Train Wreck
by “Blind Peanut” Nicholson

The train is approaching the curve, and the brakes have all failed
Watch carefully now, as the wheels gently lift off of the rails
The passengers open their mouths but they can’t make a sound
It’s a slow motion train wreck and it’s a long long way to the ground

Slooooooooooooooooooooooooooow motion train wreck
Slooooooooooooooooooooooooooow motion train wreck

Someone missed the signs, someone was asleep at the switch
We may never know the responsible son of a bitch
But that doesn’t matter, laws of physics have taken control
And all you can do is hold tight & pray for your soul

Slooooooooooooooooooooooooooow motion train wreck
Slooooooooooooooooooooooooooow motion train wreck

The connections are broken, the cars buckle and fly
The people inside don’t have time to think “I’m gonna die”
They’re over the edge, the ground rushes to meet them
The next thing you know, there’s St Peter to greet them

Slooooooooooooooooooooooooooow motion train wreck
Slooooooooooooooooooooooooooow motion train wreck

So now it’s all over, the wreckage crumples and burns
The experts will analyze, maybe some lessons we’ll learn
But wait, what’s that sound, what’s that noise at the top of the hill
The next train is coming, it’s coming, yes it’s coming still
(and they don’t know)

Slooooooooooooooooooooooooooow motion train wreck
(here it comes)
Slooooooooooooooooooooooooooow motion train wreck



Well, that was certainly fun while it lasted, wasn’t it?

I mean that whole “democracy” thing – you know, that illusion that we nurtured for so long – that notion that “We the People” actually had the power to select our own leaders, that they would listen to our voices, and that they cared about our needs.

This election has, like none other in our history, exposed the extent to which our attitudes, desires, and choices have been carefully, calculatedly managed and manipulated.

From the blatant and systematic squelching, both politically and in the media, of the Bernie Sanders insurgency by the Democrats, and the cynical construction of Donald Trump’s so-called “revolt” by the Republicans, to the near-absolute exclusion of alternative and third-party voices from debates and public discussion, our real rulers – call them our handlers, if you will – have finally and unambiguously tipped their hand.  

In 2016, the art and science of “attitude management,” that dark and eldritch craft brought into the modern age by Edward Bernays, has truly reached its apotheosis.

So what should we do, now that Toto has opened the curtain, and we can see the wizards working their bells and levers?

That, I can’t tell you. It’s up to you. Many of you will choose to follow your own Preferred Narratives, and either vote against the Predatory Psychopathic Narcissist by supporting the Dedicated Public Servant, or support the Iconoclastic Entrepreneurial Outsider by voting against the Corrupt Murderous Harpy, depending on which propaganda you have chosen to pay attention to.

Many of you may be thinking of sitting the whole thing out. I can’t blame you – but I have a suggestion you may wish to consider.

From where I am writing from, a few days ago in your past, Clinton seems pretty secure in her leads in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. There is no telling, of course, what surprises may yet be in store for us, but at this point I feel safe in saying that in the Presidential contest voting for third-party, independent, or write-in candidacies (see is unlikely to make a difference in the overall result.

The main message that has to come out of the Presidential election returns is this:

The present System sucks, and we the American people deserve better.

We deserve more choices, and better ones. We deserve an honest exchange of viewpoints on the issues that affect our everyday lives, not shouting matches between competing teams of scandal-mongers.  We deserve to have our divergent views heard and taken seriously, and our common values celebrated, without the dehumanization and ridicule of those who dare to be different.

Sitting out this election, even if you’re doing it as a protest, doesn’t send the right message. The System likes it when we don’t participate – it just figures we’re apathetic or lazy, and it can keep right on doing what it’s been doing.

So please, disaffected voters, come out and vote – but Vote Other. Send a message to our handlers that we reject their clumsy groping, their forcing choices down our throats, their cynical disregard for our real needs.

Or else we make Lincoln a liar, and let “government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” truly perish from the face of the Earth.

It’s Just Black (Song for 9/11)

This is the day that the great towers fell
We stared in horror at a new kind of hellNow many years later, see how much has changed
The terror that entered us left us deranged
Still fighting the war that on that day began
With no end in sight – or was that the plan?

So please don’t give me your red white and blue:
It’s just black, just black
It’s just black, just black

So if you want to honor those who have died
They gave up their lives – you can give up your pride
Stop jeering, shed tears for all who are dead
Stop lusting for triumph, seek forgiveness instead
There are holes in our souls that can never be filled
However many we conquer, however many we kill

So please don’t give me your red white and blue:
It’s just black, just black
It’s just black, just black


(2011, 2016)


Next time you’re in your favorite local grocery store, take a little stroll down the breakfast cereal aisle. Plant yourself in front of the Cheerios section – and start counting.  How many different varieties of “toasted oat cereal” do you find? Seven? Twelve?

According to Wikipedia, there are actually SEVENTEEN – including, of course, the inevitable limited-edition “Pumpkin Spice.” (There were 7 others that have been discontinued.)

Similar scenarios play out across the store, of course, in the interest of gaining shelf space and squeezing out smaller competitors. There are at least sixteen flavors of Lay’s Potato Chips, including regional variations – not counting the “Wavy” and “Kettle Cooked” sub-brands. THIRTY-EIGHT different dental hygiene products – toothpaste, that is – sport the Crest brand, including one with the catchy title of  “CREST PRO-HEALTH ADVANCED EXTRA WHITENING POWER + FRESHNESS TOOTHPASTE.”

As Yakov Smirnoff used to say, “What a country!”

Now imagine this: what would happen if one day we suddenly found that we were restricted to only two different kinds of Cheerios? And what if those choices were not, shall we say, the most popular or palatable –  Liver’n’Onions, say, or Crunchy Kale?

Consumers would be outraged! There would be chaos, riots in the aisles, cars burning in the parking lots! General Mills’ stock price would plummet! Congressional hearings would be called!

But this is pretty much the situation that most Americans settle for, each and every general election. Two parties. Two choices. Period.

(You folks in New York State have it better than most – the “fusion voting” system used in NY and a few other states at least allows you to vote for different brands, even if sometimes it’s the same product.)

How is it that in the United States of America – bastion of free enterprise, champion of consumer choice, empire of innovation – we should find ourselves in such a limited predicament?

The historical reasons are long and complex, of course, but the short answer has to do with the way we conduct our elections. In “first past the post” or “winner-take-all” systems like ours, a two-party system becomes almost inevitable, as political groups form coalitions to gain majority advantage. (The political science folks call it “Duverger’s Law.”)

There are other reasons, too. A two-party system makes it much easier to manage the range of acceptable political discourse (the so-called “Overton Window”). Outliers, innovators, and those who question basic beliefs are easily dismissed and ridiculed. Party leaders only have to say, “Vote for us, or else – THEY win!!” to avoid any serious reexaminations of their policies, or accountability to their followers.

So how many parties should we have?

The existing Democrats have at least two factions: the centrist, technocratic “Third Way” Democrats, like Hillary and Bill Clinton, and the more left-leaning Progressives (sometimes called “Wellstone Democrats”), who rallied to the cause of Bernie Sanders. (There are also conservative “Blue Dogs,” but I think they’re almost extinct.) The present, unwieldy Republican coalition – theocratic, conservative Christians, small-government Libertarians, and the Plutocrats who represent Big Business and Wall Street finance – is about to shatter under the onslaught of Trumpism, which is itself a resurgence of “America-First” Populism. Add the Green Party – postcapitalist, ecologically minded, and community-focused – and I think there’s room for at least seven, maybe more.

I believe that a true, multiparty democracy would encourage more citizens to get involved in politics, as they would be more likely to find political homes they can believe in and support wholeheartedly. It wouldn’t be a panacea – just look at Italy, or Israel – but it would be a big improvement.

And there would still be plenty of Cheerios – and granola, and even Frosted Flakes – to go around.



(Originally published in ON TRACK: The Transition Honesdale Newsletter, Fall 2012)

It might start as simply as this: “Hey, can I borrow your rake?”

Or maybe it’s like this: “Well, it’s been a great summer, my garden grew like gangbusters – but now I’m absolutely flooded with zucchini here, would you like a few?”

At moments like these, you probably don’t find yourself thinking, “Well, what do you know, we seem to be participating in some alternative form of economic transaction!”

But these are exactly the kinds of moments that, at heart, define a different kind of economy: a “sharing economy.”  In a sharing economy, goods and services are exchanged across communities and social networks, not based on monetary exchanges, but on – something else.  This “something else” has many names – you could call it “reciprocity,” “neighborliness,” or perhaps simply “relationship.” A sharing economy, unlike a market economy, recognizes that relationships have value in and of themselves.

Here’s a real-life example: my next-door neighbor and I have an informal arrangement.  He’s got a lawn mower; I have one of those spiffy ergonomically-designed snow shovels.  So, in the summertime, he mows my front lawn when he mows his – and in the winter, I dig out his sidewalk when I dig out mine.  We don’t keep track of exactly how many times he mows my lawn, or how many snow days we have – so the exchange might not be exactly equal in any given year, but it’s worked out fine for us so far.

What is needed to create a sharing economy? What makes it run? Trust among the participants is a crucial element for a sharing economy to be successful – and so is an ethos that values “access over ownership,” and confers status based not on how much wealth an individual accumulates for themselves, but how well the individual facilitates the free flow of value amongst the members of the community.

The Transition Movement, generally speaking, does not endorse one particular economic philosophy or another. It cannot be easily pigeonholed as either “capitalist” or “socialist.” (This is just as well, since its explicit aim is to help communities hold themselves together under stress, and different economic viewpoints can be one of the most sensitive of fault lines.)

That having been said, it should be clear that Transition is not about business-as-usual, but about a search for more sustainable and resilient ways of doing things than either market forces or government regulation have been able to provide so far.

Still, we are products of a mostly capitalist system here, and so it may be no surprise to find some Transition-friendly concepts beginning to show up on the radar of the American business community. As much as I might fantasize personally about Transition leading us to some kind of  post-capitalist society, where the profit motive is not quite so almighty, the fact is that along the way some folks are going to make money from the process… and that is probably a good thing.

To see what I mean, just do a Google search on the phrase “sharing economy,” and follow the links that turn up. Articles in such magazines as Fast Company and Forbes (yes, even Forbes!) speak in glowing terms of the “expanding ‘sharing economy’ trend” and highlight fast-growing “collaborative consumption” companies such as Zipcar and Airbnb.

The term “sharing economy” is very important in Transition circles – but where most Transition folks may think of informal community-based networks of individuals helping meet one another’s needs, entrepreneurs are seeing a hard truth: such networks, in order to facilitate efficient sharing on larger scales, will require organization, maintenance, administration… and investment.

In other words, they are business opportunities, serving a growing marketplace segment.

As Sarah Horowitz has written in a 2011 article in The Atlantic,

“This new shared market economy is being driven by a quiet revolution: the millions of Americans who no longer want to prop up our faltering economy with endless and thoughtless consumption. They recognize that hyper-consumption is no longer an option, both because it’s not sustainable and because they have less money to spend. Instead, Americans are starting to spend their limited income in a responsible, thoughtful, and connected way.”

So here is one place where we can actually watch the paradigm shifting. It’s not a romantic, revolutionary change, overthrowing one economic order and replacing it wholesale with another – but a gradual shift of perspective, beginning exactly where it needs to begin. Soon, even financiers and multinational CEOs may begin to reappraise some of their most basic economic assumptions.

The sustainable, resilient economic system that eventually emerges, I think, will retain some features of existing economies, though it will be based on fundamentally different values. Don’t worry, we will still need accountants, marketers, managers… and yes, even lawyers. But we and future generations will someday be able to look back, and regard today’s economic institutions with the kind of bemused bafflement we reserve today for, say, feudalism, or the age of the Robber Barons.


A growing number of websites have sprung up to facilitate and discuss the development of the sharing economy.

All I Got Left (Is Rock ‘n’ Roll)

A young man’s life
His very soul
Is sex and drugs and rock and roll
So now I’m headed down the hole
And all I got left is the Rock’n’Roll…

[1st CHORUS]
Rock and Roll (“It’s a long way…”)
Rock and Roll (“So you wanna be…”)
Rock and Roll (“Been a long time…”)
All I’ve got left is the Rock’n’Roll

The drugs wear off
Sex is done too soon
But there’s always the Dark Side of the Moon
I’ll let those tunes come fill my head
Till I am finally gratefully dead

[break: medley of immortal riffs]

[2nd CHORUS]
Rock and Roll (“Give me some old time…”)
Rock and Roll (“We built this city…”)
Rock and Roll (“Put another dime…”)*
All I’ve got left is the Rock’n’Roll

[second verse reprise]
[1st Chorus reprise]

*NOTE: other lyric snippets can be plugged in to the choruses, as long as the song has something to do with rock’n’roll