Thursday, April 28, 2011

Just in case we had any doubts......

Okay,okay.....I didn't really want to get back to The Donald any time soon.  But, he was in our neck of the woods yesterday, and his statement at the airport was just too tempting.  He made his grand entrance in his sleek, dark helicopter, with his name emblazoned on the side in huge letters....Jon Stewart said, "...just in case he loses it"...and it was both astonishing and very revealing, not just for the self-congratulatory and egotistic b.s. that we've come to expect from him....but, for its clear indications of who Donald Trump really is.

You may recall a posting here a while back, in which I laid out the nature of NPD, i.e., Narcissistic Personality Disorder. In case you missed it, here are some of the widely recognized symptoms associated with this condition:
  • Believing that you're better than others
  • Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
  • Exaggerating your achievements or talents
  • Expecting constant praise and admiration
  • Believing that you're special and acting accordingly
  • Failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings
  • Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
  • Taking advantage of others
  • Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
  • Being jealous of others
  • Believing that others are jealous of you
  • Trouble keeping healthy relationships
  • Setting unrealistic goals
  • Being easily hurt and rejected
  • Having a fragile self-esteem
  • Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional
Having read these, I believe you might recognize that MOST of them easily apply to Trump.  It's too easy to simply dismiss him as a buffoon.  Nah.  He's ever so much more than that.  He's actually so marinated in his self-image and self-adulation that he is potentially dangerous.  He has already bluntly stated that we should be, "....getting something in return",  for our willingness to engage in our military operations.

Some of us have, perhaps naively, assumed that the United States has been fighting in order to combat Islamic terrorism, to restore order and at least some semblance of democracy in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our best intention is not and has never been to 'profit' from these situations; it has been to get rid of despotic regimes and to hand the people of these countries back a society that is hopefully one in which people can live without fear of a government that terrorizes them, kills them at will and forces them to live in misery.  I do recognize that we have become mired in both of these situations...but, at least we have been willing to operate from a higher principle than, "What's in it for us?"  If you ask front-line military personnel from either campaign why they are there, the almost ubiquitous answer one receives is something akin to: "We're here to help these people."  And, they have been willing to make sometimes terrible sacrifices to do that.

But Trump doesn't see the world through the same lens that most Americans do.  He sees it all as a kind of Monopoly board game in which the one who accrues the most capital is not merely the 'winner' but is now the dominant power and is always willing to use that power to increase one's own wealth.  He has already stated, in so many words, that we should be getting Libya's oil if we are going to make a sacrifice to help them rid themselves of their own narcissist, good ol' Muhamar El Nutjob. 

It boggles the mind to suppose what a man like Donald Trump would do if he actually were to hold a position of any actual power.  This guy makes people like poor Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann look like the junior varsity of NPDs. They may be self-deluded and far out there, but Trump has massive resources and the ruthlessness to use them in any way that he can get traction.  His incessant use of the 'birther' non-issue is proof of that. Now he's off and running on whether or not the President should have gotten into Harvard. His NPD almost guarantees that he'll stop at nothing to have his way.

And, more and more, it is becoming apparent that he will indeed throw his hat in the ring, attempt to battle his way through the GOP minefield and become president of these United States.  This is the stuff of a Kurt Vonnegut Jr. novel, folks.

It is going to be an interesting time over the next months. If we fall asleep at the wheel and allow someone of his ilk to suddenly emerge as our will be just exactly what we deserve.

I am praying that common sense will prevail.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Well, spring is at least trying.....

Finally, our goldens are running out of places to take their elaborate 'snow baths' when we go in the woods each morning.  It has seemed to take forever this year for the snow to melt, and now the woods are in a kind of limbo, between the dead of winter, and exploding with life.  There is a kind of almost sullen feeling to them.

But, it is getting warmer each day, with brief exceptions, and I heard 'peepers' for the first time the other, I know that any day now the grand transition from greys, tans, browns and evergreen shades of green, to the fresh and even brilliant greens of spring is going to happen.  And, when it does, it will happen in a rush. The mosses will perk up, become a much more emerald shade of green.  Little shoots will push up through the soggy mass of dead leaves, elbowing aside any and all impediments....and then the flowers will appear almost everywhere you look.  The Trillium will be among the first, but there will be a virtual carpet of tiny blue and yellow blossoms in many places.  It feels good.

Of late, I have not wanted to write on this blog.  In the absence of being inspired by my love of the woods and all that lives therein, I have felt beset by events and people in the 'un-real' world around us. When I realized that my last several posts were all about people I consider to be among the lowest of the just seemed too negative.

In these times, apparently, it is the hour of the idiots to take the stage.  The Trumps, Bachmanns, Palins (though I am thankful that she is quickly fading from any serious role in the public arena) and all the other clowns out there, are here for a reason.  As Farid Zakaria mentioned on his own blog, the birther stuff is simply and undeniably "coded racism", and he asked:  would it be out there if Barack Obama was white and named Jim Smith?  The answer to that--for anybody with a brain--is NO. The Donald has now stooped to questioning if Barack Obama should have gotten into Harvard.  Of course, the fact that the President graduated Magnum Cum Laude and was head of the Harvard Law Review...well, we'll just ignore that.

So, I am coming into a place of accepting that we are living in a time when Greed--yes, with a capital 'G'--is coming into the fore.  Congress is doing the bidding of Big Money, siding with those who would plunder Americans for all their worth.  The cast of characters that the GOP is looking at for the 2012 presidential race, is so loaded with people who want to push this agenda that it will be almost impossible for them to single out a rational candidate who actually puts the well-being of Americans--other than the rich--first.

So, be it. Let it all unfold however it will.  Those of us who clearly see what is happening to our country will turn out once again, and we will vote for the man who has disappointed us on so many levels, but is still a country mile better than the hairballs who will oppose him.

My father was a life-long horticulturist.  His special interest was in growing roses, really stunning ones. One day when I was perhaps 8 or 9, he called me over to a rose-bed and said, "Look at this."  He turned over a leaf on one of his prize rosebushes and it was covered with very pale small insects. "Those are aphids." I was a little puzzled because I knew he wasn't just showing me some bugs. He went on:" They live on these leaves and produce a nectar, and the ants 'farm' them.  They come around and actually 'milk' the aphids, and make sure that they are going to keep the ants can take it from them."  I do not actually have enough clarity of hindsight to know if Dad was knowingly teaching me a life lesson, or not.  But, he was very clear about the fact that the ants used the aphids for their own well-being and great benefit. I didn't get the impression that he thought this was pretty clever and 'hooray' for the ants. He was simply observing that the aphids were kind of like cows.  This stuck with me all these years.  And, only recently have I become aware that this is how 'Big Money' views and uses the middle-class.  We produce, and increasingly, we are being milked of what we do produce. Whether it is the amazingly userious profits of the pharmaceutical, credit, energy or medical and insurance industries...or simply the fact that the current business ethic has now fully morphed from: "a good product at a fair price", into "squeeze 'em for all their worth".

Everywhere you look you will find companies that are becoming very creative in how they strip you of your money.  Example: we bought a sub-compact Honda Fit.  We wanted a basic mode of transportation with as few bells and whistles as possible. We just don't give a damn about all the gewgaws on a car.  As it turns out, this little buggy comes--no choice--with a very clever system called TPMS, i.e. Tire Pressure Management System. The assumption is that you are too stupid to make sure your car has enough air in the they make sure a little light goes on on the dashboard to tell you that.  Well, it so happens that the sensors for each wheel cost over a HUNDRED BUCKS, and if you want to get rid of them the little light will always be on....and one person told me his mechanic wouldn't pass his car's inspection if it was.  So, just one more of the myriad ways in which a company now has you on the hook for something you DIDN'T EVEN WANT.

This is us being the aphids, folks.  The corporate 'ants' are milking us and we're almost utterly passive in the face of it.  Most people would ask, "What choice do we have?"  And, I will answer that in some detail in a subsequent posting.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Seriously?? ......The DONALD?? ......for President???????

 When it was announced that McCain had picked Sarah Palin for his running mate....I was thunderstruck.  I absolutely could not follow his reasoning, and when I did try to do that, it simply made no sense.  As it turned out, of course, his sense of what Americans could stomach was indeed deeply flawed.  A large number of people who might have otherwise voted Republican simply could not accept the reality that such a dim-witted, whack-job would be literally, "...a heart beat" from sitting in the Oval Office.  And, so I suppose we should be thankful that McCain proved himself to be such a lousy judge of us.

But, when I read yesterday that the most recent poll of Republican potential candidates had Donald Trump tied for first place with Mike Huckabee.....I think I just about fried some transistors in my brain.  Phrases like, "You have to be kidding....", "Naw, say it ain't so, "...none of them suffice to express my disbelief and especially my consternation.  You see, somehow I have managed to cling to the notion that a person who sits in a position of such influence and power should also be a person of character, which is why I was so pleased that Barack Obama was apparently more than just another Harvard lawyer.  It turns out, he's a Grand Compromiser who is in danger of selling the very people who were so overjoyed that he was elected....down the river.  He may well become a one term president because the people who were his 'base' in '08 are now watching in disbelief as he repeatedly draws lines in the sand and backs-up as the Tea Baggers and the other minions of greed step over each line.  Pretty soon he will be standing on the banks of the Potomac with nothing else to give away.

But, in the case of 'The Donald', we are confronted with a persona that has seemingly forever been synonymous with GREED, with vanity, arrogance, a truly ridiculous comb-over, and has acted like a petulant bad-boy with rotten manners.  In short, if you look in the dictionary under 'bombastic', you find a picture of Trump.  He is already showing how much of a whacko he is by insisting on fiddling the tune that all the 'birthers' want to dance to.  So, Trump is stomping his foot, rasping out this scratchy tune and the idiots are all doing a crazy dance around the campfire.  He has been taped saying, "When I am president nobody will laugh at the United States anymore"...or something very close to that.  Exactly what he means by that is anybody's guess...but, I would suggest that he means that under his wise leadership we will re-assume our rightful role as the planet's ONLY SUPERPOWER.  Really?   Is this who we want to be going forward.  Wouldn't it better if we were seen as a source of strength and kindness to the world community?  And, by 'strength' I mean appropriate support not just purely military might.  We have that in spades and I believe the rest of the world is becoming just a bit leery of it, and even resentful and afraid.  So, yeah, Donald, let's make sure those other countries all know that we're the baddest mofo out here on planet earth.

Puhleeeze!!!!!  We can deal with our foes as necessary.  We don't need a bully with a bad comb-over in the White House shaking his fist and sneering.  What we need to become, and could easily become is a beacon of compassion to our friends and allies, and a reluctant user of this Big Stick that we have already been using with some abandon in the last decade.  For us to regain our self-image as 'the guys in the white hats', we need to remain calm, act with wise and restrained yet appropriate force, and identify ourselves as a member of a worldwide community of nations.  This blue-green ball floating through space is now in fact a neighborhood of sorts....and there is no place for a bully.  So, why would we elect one?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tower to Charlie Sheen.........Pull up!!!

I haven't been able to back-track to the source of that comment in the title, but it struck me as perfectly reflective of Charlie Sheen's present situation.  He was shouted down by his audience in Detroit last night, many of whom demanded their money back.  Others just walked out on him.  The title of his travelling road show is "Violent Torpedo of Truth....Losing is not an Option".  But, apparently he is indeed losing IT.....what?  His freaking mind.

Have you noticed that we have a tendency to stare at car accidents when we are driving by...when common sense and even common decency indicates that it would be both better for us, and more respectful to the victims if we looked away.  But, no, we gawk...almost unanimously.  Perhaps we're just having a 'better him than me' kind of moment, or perhaps pathos is just so dramatic that we cannot resist scooping up an eyeful.  But, in any case, we rarely resist looking.  And, it feels like that is what we're doing as Charlie Sheen is spinning wildly out of control, headed for the wall.

A few years ago, the winner of the Daytona 500 crossed the finish line......upside down, backwards and ON FIRE.  At the time, I thought to myself that nobody will ever top that for sheer drama....and it scored off the scale on my 'irony' scale as well.......because he was driving the Jack Daniels car.  But, Charlie Sheen is not a car; he's a human being.  His arrogance, gall, conceit, anger, truculence...all push us towards just watching as he goes down in flames. Maybe we even give in to the temptation to say--quietly under our breath, perhaps--"Well, he's brought this on himself."  And, of course, this is true.  But, as I listen to his over-the-top pronouncements, his wildly egotistical rants.....I am hearing the words and seeing the face of someone who really is losing his sanity.  It may be hard to find a sympathetic place to view him from...but, we are watching a person whose mind is throwing itself against the bars of the cage that imprisons it.  He has become ever more dramatic as the whole scenario unfolds...and rather than attribute it to his long-term addiction to alcohol and apparently drugs as well, I am sensing that those are merely exacerbatory, not causal.

This is a person who has met with sensational success in his professional life.  He has been put on a pedestal by fans, and I am sure by the sycophants who surround him and make a handsome profit off of his career as well.  Like Tiger Woods, in a very real sense--if you listen to what he's telling us--he has come to see himself as a demigod.  His ego has become so monstrously inflated and hugely powerful that it will neither be subdued nor denied.  So, he is on a wild ride....on the back of one bad-ass big lion.  And, I personally am beginning to feel that I don't want to be looking when he hits the ground.

Just a thought..... 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Buyers' Remorse.......over a Governor.

My home state of Maine has been in the national media a lot lately.  But, if you are also a Mainer, or have noticed these news tidbits, you will know that it is not for any reason that Maine's citizens are proud of.  In fact, it has become an almost ubiquitous feeling of embarrassment here.  In last fall's elections, the Tea Baggers pushed hard for their candidate, and the Dems and Indies split their votes between two other candidates, with the result being that we elected Paul LePage for governor.

Unfortunately, a governor is not something you can take to customer service and return for a full refund.  If it were, we'd have done that by now.  It turns out that LePage is not merely a far right conservative, he's also somewhat of, uh, well, er, uh....okay, I am going to put it in terms that even he could understand: he's an asshole.  I am just calling a spade a spade here...or rather a sphincter a sphincter.

During the gubernatorial campaign  LePage told a group of fishermen, who were complaining over federal regulation of their fisheries, that he'd tell the president to, "...go to hell."  And decent Mainers turned red all across the land.  But, that was just the beginning.  After taking office LePage was asked why he refused to acknowledge the NAACP around the upcoming celebration of MLK Day.  He told the reporter that the, "....NAACP can kiss my butt."

When questioned as to whether he agreed that the suspect chemical Bisphenol A should be removed from drink containers, LePage--in his cute and whimsical way--retorted, " what if women grow little beards?" At every opportunity LePage has labelled those who disagree with him, in his infinite wisdom, as 'idiots' or some other term that clearly evinces his inability to engage in a civil discourse about the issues facing our state.  He is crude and he is a bully whenever he has a chance to be. 

The latest flap to be reported across America, has been his order to take down a multi-panel mural in the state Department of Labor offices that depicts the history of the labor movement in Maine.  It is actually a very well painted and pleasing visual telling of what working people have gone through in order to earn rights and respect.  Maine is a working class state, historically speaking.  It's bedrock has always been those who sailed out of her harbors to harvest fish and lobsters, or worked in the forests to harvest timber.  Maine has a long-standing history of mill towns that sat astride rivers in order to use their motive power to turn the engines of industry.  Lewiston and Auburn, Biddeford, Saco, Rumford, Jay, Thomaston...and more...were all towns that grew up around mills that were operated by generations of textile workers, shoemakers and papermakers.  The shipbuilders at Bath Iron Works built more navy destroyers during WWII than existed in the entire Imperial Japanese Navy. 

It is no exaggeration to state plainly that working men and women built Maine...and they also endured the predations of corporations who would keep them poor and have them work in unsafe conditions unless the workers had organized.  It is the same all across America.  One can look at the history of just about any industry and find that the owners and the bosses have never paid any more than they absolutely could get away with.  And working conditions were most often abominable until workers and the government insisted that they be made safer.  It is still dangerous to work in a paper mill and I personally know of people who have been trampled asunder by 'the company', tossed aside like so much trash when they were injured on the job.

This is not conjecture; it is simply how managers have behaved.  Paul LePage has been one of those managers.  He ran for governor on the premise that if he could make the chain of discount stores he managed, Mardens, profitable, then he could do the same thing for the fiscal affairs of Maine.  But, what he brought to the highest office in the state with him, is a profound disrespect for anybody who disagrees with him, or who questions his actions.  He doesn't dismiss his opponents with any modicum of politeness, he does so with terms of profound disrespect, and evinces a boorish arrogance as he does so.

Paul LePage, simply put, is an ongoing embarrassment to the great state of Maine......and, by any reasonable criteria..... he's just a great big nasty old ASSHOLE.  Had to say it again.  Wish I could say it to his face.