Category Archives: Action Items

THINK TANK REPORT: EAT, DRINK, AND BE MERRY

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“Staying Ahead of Reality Since 2001”

 THINK TANK REPORT: EAT, DRINK, AND BE MERRY

 

CAMBRIDGE, MA (Plausible News Service) – In a new report to be released today, a think tank based at Harrad College suggests that the most proper and effective response to the worsening world situation may simply be to have all the fun we possibly can in the limited time we have left.

“Given the greatly increased possibility of sudden and unexpected mortality within the next 24-hour period, we are advocating a course of increased consumption of delicious and well-prepared comfort foods, along with alcohol and other enjoyable intoxicants,” said Dr. Joy de Vivre, director of the Institute for Responsible Hedonism. “Moreover, this should, we believe, be accompanied by an increase in raucous celebrations filled with laughter and music, in which we enjoy the company of our friends, lovers, and fellow humans, while we are all still able to do so.”

The report points to several factors, including war, terrorism, disease, environmental disaster, and the coming deluge of commercials for the 2018 election cycle as primary causes for what it calls “a projected severe and imminent drop in the amount of pleasure available in the world.”
Dr. de Vivre summed up the report’s recommendations. “Let us face the coming catastrophes with a song in our hearts, a drink in our hands, and hot animal passion in our beds. Don’t drink and drive, and always use appropriate protection,” she added.
The Institute for Responsible Hedonism was founded in 1967.

VOTE WITH YOUR FEET…?

December 10, 2016…

Does anyone still have any questions or doubts about what is about to happen to us here in the USA? About the kind of historical moment at which we have finally arrived?

After the election, there was a certain amount of hopeful “let’s give him a chance” rhetoric – but Trump’s Cabinet choices and public statements soon made the absurdity of such optimism very clear.

To be sure, there is one small glimmer of hope on the horizon: the idea that the Electoral College may actually fulfill the function for which the Founding Fathers designed it, and deny Trump the Presidency. (The recent news about possible Russian intervention in the election may make this possibility more likely.)

But I’m not betting on that. Nor do I expect the Sweet Meteor of Death to come to our rescue.

[UPDATE (Dec. 20, 2016): Sure enough, by all reports the Electoral College has failed. So far, so has the Sweet Meteor of Death.]

[Further update (January 6, 2017): Congress, despite attempted objections, has certified the Electoral College results. Still no sign of the Sweet Meteor of Death, either.]

So the question becomes: what, exactly, do we intend to do about the situation?

This is a matter of individual conscience, of course, and all sorts of suggestions are being put forward, from passive acceptance to guerrilla resistance. The experience of pre-WWII Germany is being examined and re-examined for clues and guidance, but the differences between the rise of Nazism and the rise of Trumpism are significant enough to render such comparisons less than useful.

Here are some of the options suggested so far:

(There are many more of these kinds of articles out there. As I find more, I’ll add them to the list… or comment below with links to similar articles you have found.)

So one can stay and fight, in whatever way, whatever that means to you – or one can flee. I’m suggesting the latter, and I seriously think that others might want to consider the possibility. As the saying goes: “Vote with your feet.”

vote-feet

Now, for myself, I should say that at this point I’m not planning on moving permanently – but I am going to go on an extended trip abroad, six months to a year, maybe more. (I’m heading to Europe to see if I can help with refugee assistance in some way.) I’m thinking that might be enough time for things to sort themselves out.

It’s a privileged option, I know. Not everyone has this choice. The only reason I can even consider it is because I just became old enough to draw funds from my woefully inadequate “retirement” money.

But more folks might be able to pull off a miniaturized version – namely, a symbolic crossing of the border on Inauguration Day, as a protest against the installation of The Donald. (Or as I like to call it, the “Dysauguration.”) Just find your nearest border crossing, and be there by 11 AM Eastern time on January 20, 2017. crowd-control

We would then cross over just before the Oath of Office is administered, and then stay for the rest of the day (or perhaps longer) before crossing back over to take up the fight.

A large enough crowd showing up at one or more of these sites, even if they cross over for only a few hours, would send a powerful message of non-support to the incoming Administration.

If you’re not near a border but you are near the coast, consider a one-day boat trip into international waters. Or maybe turn the occasion into a brief vacation to the Bahamas. Let’s create a large enough blip in border-crossing statistics to give Donald the clear signal that not everyone is ecstatic about his enthronement.

So, what do you say? See you at the Border?

 

 

 

The 2017 “PICK A FIGHT WITH THE DONALD!” Contest

The recent flap between Trump and that Steelworkers leader shows that Trump takes his politics very personally, and he seems to prefer going mano-a-mano with anyone who disses him.

I therefore propose a contest:

The 2017 “PICK A FIGHT WITH THE DONALD” Contest!!

The goal is to get The Donald’s attention (& ire) directed at you personally. The theory is that the more distracted and flustered he is, the less damage he’s likely to do by actually paying attention to matters of importance.

Prizes will be given for:

  •  Longest Twitter feud (by number of tweets)
  • Pettiest subject of debate
  • Greatest number of RTs generated (by bots or humans)
  • Best meme generated as a result of the feud
  • Most mentions of feud on major “mainstream” media

Special recognition if the feud leads to:

  • Actual mention of the feud by Trump in a public appearance
  • A lawsuit
  • A benefit concert for the poster’s Legal Defense Fund
  • A Supreme Court case
  • Impeachment

So let’s get crackin’ out there!! Winners will be announced in early 2018, if we’re still around that long.

Plutocracy Resolution

Things being what they are, I think the time has come for someone to bring forward the following resolution, or something like it, on the floors of the House and Senate:

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION
recognizing Plutocracy, not Democracy, as the guiding principle of the Government of the United States of America.

WHEREAS, a 2014 Princeton study has shown that the USA is not a democracy, but a plutocratic oligarchy; and

WHEREAS, former President Jimmy Carter has stated that America has become “now an oligarchy”; and

WHEREAS, over 50% of the members of Congress are millionaires, as opposed to 3.5% of the American public; and

WHEREAS, years of effort to create and enforce meaningful campaign finance reforms have been mostly fruitless; and

WHEREAS, the Supreme Court has done its best to render such reforms moot anyway, through its rulings in Citizens United v. FEC and other cases; and

WHEREAS, let’s face it, wealthy donors get our attention much more easily than our less-endowed constituents; and

WHEREAS, the American people seem to have given their tacit approval to the whole arrangement by repeatedly re-electing most of us; and

WHEREAS, it will be a cold day in Hell before we here in Congress would actually do something about a system from which we profit so handsomely; now,

THEREFORE, we, the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring, do officially declare and establish what everyone knows to be the truth, that Plutocracy, not Democracy, is the underlying and governing principle of the Federal Government of the United States of America.

Commemorating Rush Limbaugh

Like him or hate him, you gotta admit that few Americans have had the impact on our political and cultural life that Rush Limbaugh has had. Now that he is reaching the end of his career, as well as the end of his days on Earth, I think it’s important that his contribution be recognized in a lasting and appropriate way.

I would therefore like to suggest to the medical community that pilonidal cysts, which as you may know kept Limbaugh from serving in the armed forces, be rechristened “Limbaugh’s disease,” and the cysts themselves be referred to henceforward as “Limbaughs.”

For example:

“Geez, Doc, what is that thing? Hurts like the dickens! And what a bad smell!”
“Well, Sam, I’m afraid you have a severely infected Limbaugh.”

“I had a really bad case of Limbaughs, but the surgeon did a great job, and now you’d hardly know they were there.”

“You need to get out of your chair from time to time, or else you might get a Limbaugh.”

All things considered, I think this is the least we can do, don’t you?

Why I’m Walking in the Relay for Life

Leukemia took my Uncle John in 1970.
Melanoma took his brother Otto in 1973.
Their sister, my Aunt Rena, died from stomach cancer in 1986.
Finally, lung cancer took their brother Larry – my dad – in 2008.

Four siblings out of seven. Four different kinds of cancer. Coincidence? Genetics? I don’t know. There are so many factors that can lead to cancer, it’s hard to say. But whether or not my family history has increased my personal risk of developing cancer, it has certainly increased my awareness of it – as have the battles that other friends and relatives have fought with cancer in recent years, some successfully, some not.

Fortunately, in the last couple of generations, tremendous progress has been made in expanding our understanding of cancer, and in developing increasingly effective methods for preventing, detecting, treating, and even curing it.

That progress has been made possible, in large part, by the work of the American Cancer Society.

So when Katie Collins suggested that some of us employees at the Gatehouse NEPA newspapers might want to field a team in this year’s Relay for Life and help raise some funds for the ACS, something inside me said, “Go for it.”

The ACS knows what it’s doing. It has been attacking cancer on all fronts for more than a century. Its first task was to bring cancer out of the shadows – as the article on the ACS in Wikipedia states, “At the time of founding, it was not considered appropriate to mention the word ‘cancer’ in public. Information concerning this illness was cloaked in a climate of fear and denial.” Now it not only funds research and publishes some of the most important academic journals in the field, it conducts public education campaigns and provides important resources both to patients and healthcare providers.

And here’s one of my favorite reasons to support ACS – it’s also been in the forefront of the battle against Big Tobacco, via programs like “The Great American Smokeout” and its educational outreach efforts to curb tobacco use among young people.

Is it perfect? No. There are some valid critiques of the organization, and goodness knows there is much more work to be done, for example in the area of identifying and preventing some of the environmental factors that cause cancer. But I can’t argue with its track record, and its ability to bring members of communities together against one of the most pernicious and widespread public health threats there is.

So please join us – consider walking with our team (the “Independent Eagles”!), get involved with another team, start your own – or just donate by clicking here.  Thanks for your support!

The Peace and Justice Files: The Reign of Wayne Has Driven Us Insane

“Aw, geez, now they’re REALLY gonna try to take my guns….!”

As the news started to roll in from Newtown, CT, on December 14, I overheard that reaction – and maybe you overheard it, too, or maybe you said or thought it yourself. Let’s not rehash the heated discussions that followed the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary; those discussions, after all, have been repeated, practically word-for-word, so many times in recent years that we could probably repeat each side’s talking points in our sleep.

The guy whose mutterings I overheard isn’t a bad fellow, or a wild-eyed “gun nut” – he’s actually quite intelligent and kind-hearted. The same is true of another acquaintance of mine, who corralled me on the sidewalk a couple of days later just to make sure I understood his pro-gun viewpoints. But there’s a simple reason why one of the first responses of these otherwise reasonable men to the painful human tragedy of Newtown was to think, not just of the bereaved families or the shattered community, but of the possible consequences to their own lives, and specifically to fear the nightmare of government confiscation.

They had been trained, assiduously and over years, to think that way. And the man who trained them is named Wayne LaPierre.

LaPierre, as you probably know, is presently the CEO and Executive Vice President of the National Rifle Association (NRA), and its most public spokesman since the resignation of former NRA President Charlton Heston. LaPierre has carried on the incendiary, fear-mongering tradition of the “New Guard” that took over the NRA more than a generation ago. (For a fascinating history of the transformations that the NRA underwent during the 1970s, see this.)

In his speeches and fundraising campaigns, LaPierre has perfected the art of invoking the bogeyman. In 1995, LaPierre sent out a letter describing federal Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agents as “jack-booted thugs” that could “…take away our constitutional rights, break in our doors, seize our guns, destroy our property, and even injure or kill us.” (That letter, by the way, led former president, and NRA life member, George H. W. Bush to publicly terminate his membership in the NRA.) Here’s LaPierre in a fundraising letter after the 9/11 attacks: “Your guns are now a target in the war on terrorism, and the future of your Second Amendment rights will soon be up for grabs on the floors of the U.S. House and Senate.” (For more LaPierre gems, look here.) Each polemic, of course, is accompanied by a plea to “send the most generous contribution you can,” and when appropriate, exhortations to vote – usually for Republicans. Any suggestion of any kind of gun or ammunition control is painted as the first step in a slippery slope that ends in firearm confiscation and the enslavement of “law-abiding citizens.”

His techniques have been enormously successful for the NRA – both in terms of money and political clout – but they have poisoned the very atmosphere, and made rational discussion about guns among American citizens almost impossible. These tactics have led gun owners to adopt a kind of “bunker mentality,” and also fed the suspicions of the non-gun-owning public. They have not actually served the best interests either of gun owners or of the American public in general.

I therefore encourage you, dear readers, whatever your stance about guns, to contact individual NRA board members and urge them to dismiss LaPierre immediately. I believe that no other single action could do more to lessen the mutual fear and distrust now present in this country. With LaPierre out of the picture, we may be able to have a productive dialogue; as long as he has any say in the matter, we will only continue to rehash the same tired arguments, and replay the tragedy of Sandy Hook (and Aurora, and Blacksburg, and Columbine, and…) again and again and again.