Zombies Demand Healthcare

As promised, on Thursday the Senator from Coal and Tobacco released his chamber’s close-to-the-vest health care bill, and you know what? It isn’t actually a health care bill. It’s a government spending and taxation bill that incidentally screws up access to health care. Differing from the House’s American Health Care Act bill only in detail, it so severely limits Medicare spending as to totally undo almost all of the limited good that Obamacare instigated. Even the establishment-happy Senator McCaskill was moved to observe that it would remove life support from elderly and disabled Missourians and force the sick into emergency rooms in a state already losing rural hospitals. To her credit, she told off Chairman Orrin Hatch from her perch on the Finance Committee the other day, but of course nobody who matters cared.

Continue reading “Zombies Demand Healthcare”

Jam a Brand, Fan a Brand

Hardly a week passed after Donald Trump was sworn in as President when the tribute videos began pouring in from all over the world. Maybe you’ve seen some of them. They are just great. Fabulous. All of them. I mean it. So many that NPR lost track of some of the best ones when they reeled them off back in February. But you know NPR. Such losers. Should stand for Not Progressive Reporting.

One of the best tributes, which NPR overlooked for some odd reason was Iran’s. So, ICYMI, as a public service Progressive Pilgrim Review presents it here.

Continue reading “Jam a Brand, Fan a Brand”

Letter to an Erstwhile Comrade

Dear Alexander, wherever you are,

Happy birthday, comrade! How’s the struggle going out there? Tell me, cuz we need your help, now more than ever.

For reasons I could enumerate but can’t concretely substantiate, I’m writing via Celestial Post rather than virtually. I’m not sure what has made loquacious me, unlike you, fraught to propel words across the Net. Perhaps fear of blowback from the minions of ascendant reactionary forces, armed and eager to smite dissidents with Puritan vengeance. There’s no way to get through to them but one can still try to get around them. Continue reading “Letter to an Erstwhile Comrade”

Better than Winning the Lottery!

Today I received some exciting news from the Department of Homeland Security that I must tell you about! It’s not as if tidings such as this come in every day (well they do, actually, but not from the trusty Federal Government).

It seems that Mr. (Jeh) Johnson, who left his post as Secretary of Homeland Security on January 2oth, still has a desk there. He says he’s been assigned by President Trump himself to rectify cases of fraud concerning claims to assets and to track down their true owners. It seems, he informs me, that my family and I are the rightful owners of 17.5M USD sitting in a disused Wells Fargo account that a Mr. Steven Tilley—whom I don’t know—falsely claimed belonged to him. Fantastic that they caught him at it. I hope Tilley goes to prison for a long time. Continue reading “Better than Winning the Lottery!”

Channeling Molly

Newspaper columnist and Texas raconteur Molly Ivins’ mortal coil left this plane on January 31, 2007 (Oh Lord, have we been without her for a decade?), dubious that she was bound for greater glory. Alas, she never got to witness the accidental ascendance of Donald R. Trump, not that it would have surprised her. She surely would have had plenty to say about the state of affairs that allowed yet another buffoon (the last one being “Shrub,” her affectionate moniker for Bush Lite) to leave the middle class behind as he terrorized the planet.

Most of the right-wing pols who had to pull her barbs from their behinds considered her a fifth-columnist, but all she was was a dogged, sharp-tongued reporter of liberal persuasion who took down political bloviation and chicanery with devastating down-home humor. She is sorely missed, and in her absence the self-awareness of the politicking class in the Republic of Texas—if not everywhere—has sunk below irony. As Molly once said, the thing about holes is when you’re in one, stop digging. Oh sure, we have Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, and Andy Borowitz to deliver unto us outrage over political jackassery, but who remains to make us giggle by exposing political mendacity in regular columns syndicated in hundreds of newspapers? But then, does anyone read newspapers anymore? Continue reading “Channeling Molly”

Mothers 2.0

It being Mothers Day and all, here’s a shout to my two main moms. First, a salute to the wisdom and fortitude of the one who birthed me, Sophie Pincus Dutton (1910-2005). Below the fold, listen to her describe her first several jobs and how she met my father in 1940. Spoiler: She married that handsome tennis coach, Charles Dutton, after a two-year engagement and they stuck it out until he passed in 1982.

Both stories unabashedly ripped from the pages of cowbird.com.

Five minutes of Sophie’s voice talking about her early work and love life:

 

Closer now in time and place we meet Aygül Balcioglu, the mother of my daughter. Here we explain how a Muslim woman and a Jewish man happened to meet and click at a Christmas party, generating a disturbance in the Force that lasted over five years. Those kinks got worked out, mostly.

Sophie opened her home and heart to Aygül and Aygül returned the favor and often says she misses Sophie, who lived long enough to see her only grandchild turn five. (She should have had more time, way sooner. My fault. I’m an only child and was always a slow starter.)

This story takes the form of a letter to our daughter, written to help her appreciate what it took to get her here.

Aygül has taken the lead again and again in realizing our daughter’s potential to become the best person she can when I wasn’t clear on how to proceed. I treasure that, and someday, I hope, so will our kid.

I love you both deeply. You are bookends to my erratic, unlikely life who has saved me more than once from lapses of judgment and catastrophes of character. Happy Mothers Day to my two moms. You’re the best.

Go Solve Yourself

Having noted that there are seven billion human beings now weighing down the planet, most struggling for subsistence, the question that keeps corporations up at night is “How can we turn these poor wretches into consumers?” And more often than not the answer is “tether them with technology that we’ll constantly monitor and update.”

Due to the dispersed nature of talent and resources, high-tech expertise nests in niches, nooks, and crannies in all sorts of places, pursuing separate goals that may or may not be related. To maximize the market potential of up-and-coming makers and capitalize on it, corporate chiefs, technologists, government policy makers, non-governmental organizations, and academics have learned to meld minds to find ways and means to get the downtrodden up to speed in the digital economy. Many hard-striving institutions of higher learning have assumed the guise of problem-solvers-to-the-world to hone the bleeding edge of innovation to razor sharpness, and no one does it better than the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Continue reading “Go Solve Yourself”

Discuss Among Your Various Selves

Half my life is an act of revision.
– John Irving

I’m with J.I. It seems most of the second half of my life has been devoted unlearning the craft of writing. Despite having written millions of words in all manner of forms, creative writing remains tedious, if not downright torturous. When I write a short story, I can easily compile four or five drafts before it starts to look okay. My current novel underwent seven month-long revisions. Now I love to write, but this is too much. Hoping to short-circuit this busywork, I decided to perform an experiment on a human subject. I would observe myself writing to pinpoint where it bogs down by drafting a mini-scene and taking note of what I had to do to whip it into shape. Prompted by a short story I’m having trouble with, this text popped out of my head:

Continue reading “Discuss Among Your Various Selves”

Tout le monde méprise la politique

In honor of the French Presidential election and its resonance to our recent none-of-the-above presidential plebiscite, here’s a replay of my own October Surprise (with apologies to rap artists everywhere).

Come election time you’ll need some wine
to swallow the sorrow you’ll feel on the morrow
so bring the gang over to get a hangover
and to choose where to stand when the shit hits the fan

After taking the pitch, pick the creep or the witch
They say we must choose and that choice is a snooze
‘cause she’s almost adorable and he’s simply deplorable
and if he gets in the Russkies will win

Like, the media lingers on the size of his fingers
and so cheerfully rambles ‘round her various scandals
and if that nice David Brooks calls The Donald a schnook
is he not willingly chilling and shilling for Hillary?

The press treats her acidly but ignores her mendacity
and just like he’s saying, the pundits are braying
with perfidious chatter for his head on a platter
using words that were jiggered by invisible riggers

Whoever you choose you’re just gonna lose
so let’s take a gander at pols who don’t pander
with idiot tweets that ain’t got no meat
to get some advices on the roots of our crises

Now the Greens and Libs don’t traffic in fibs
but the press tunes them out, assuming a rout
without full disclosure they black out exposure
of third-party voices that offer us choices

We got Libertarians, the disestablishmentarians
who say wars are disasters and the Fed is our master
ignore Gary’s Aleppo—he’s not really a schleppo
he stands for the principle that profit’s invincible

The Green Party platform is more than reformist
and Jill isn’t green—she knows what we’ve seen
it’s one-party rule that takes us for fools
and corruption galore we can’t take anymore

So here’s to Ralph Nader and whatever crusader
will take on the system and help us resist ‘em
we’ll end the asaillance of domestic surveillance
and stop them from spending for wars without endings.

So do unto them or they’ll do unto you
there’s so much to do but do it will who?
just look in the mirror to see your new savior
and don’t kick the bucket before you say PHUCKIT

@audio: author’s voiceover of Sage of Wisdom from Exile, CCC by Seclorance