More Bad Weather; Bailing Out Whole Towns

This Cyclonic Blizzard has wreaked havoc in Nebraska, but “our” President is worried about the “phony Dossier” and is slamming John McCain (RIP) rather than offering concrete help to bail out the farmers and ranchers whose farms are under water or the towns which have been destroyed.

Meanwhile, a woman in Columbus, NE, is attempting to garner support and sympathy by claiming to be one of “the deplorables” living in a “fly over” zone.

Dear friends outside of our Nebraska bubble: we are hurting. We are flooding. As in—half the state under water. Entire towns under water. Massive structures/bridges/roads are floating away. Dams breaking. Rivers jammed with and without ice are overflowing. In our town, we are an island. No ways in or out right now. And this is not a problem that only our town has—there are too many around us to mention. The devastation is simply indescribable. Lives are being lost. Livelihoods are being washed away. 

We are a “flyover” state. We are the “deplorables.” We are “not for everyone.” We are not newsworthy and I have yet to see or read one article on national news about our devastation. That’s heartbreaking because I can’t begin to describe the stories of heroism of farmers trying to save their animals, strangers helping strangers, and rescuers fighting extreme elements to save lives. But I can tell you this, we are strong. We pray. We care about one another. We help our neighbors. I’m proud to be from here. I’m sad to know that it’ll take years to recover from this. But the sun is out today and the winds have calmed (compared to yesterday, at least). The next few weeks and months will be rough and we can all really use your prayers and support. 

These pics are around our town, Columbus, NE. Personally, our home is not indanger.

When I read that yesterday I wanted to get in my private jet and set this woman straight. I wanted to shake her and say, “Look, Sweetcheeks, if this is what you believe, you have a bigger problem than a wet basement.” The message behind her message is, well…

I happen to know Columbus, Nebraska well. That’s the first thing. Second, “the deplorables” was a deplorable comment made by Hillary Clinton during her campaign for president in 2016. Many of us who voted for her didn’t like her and found that comment deplorable. It was one of the reasons I had to hold my nose when I filled in my ballot. Third, the woman who wrote this is claiming to be a victim because she lives in a “fly over state” and is a Trump voter. So much of what’s wrong with this country is laid out in her plea for help.

She is REALLY a victim of a historic storm that was likely caused by climate change which President Trump denies even exists.

That doesn’t change the fact that Nebraska is one of those places many Americans don’t know much about. I lived there for the six happiest years of my childhood and yesterday, reading of these floods in towns that were once familiar to me, I felt very sad. Nebraska really IS the “breadbasket of America” — cattle, corn and wheat make up large parts of its economy — and our diets. In my memory, the people are far from “deplorable.”

My Nebraska hometown — Bellevue — is on the Missouri River (one of the biggest rivers in the US) and is in danger.

This Nebraska woman’s politicized plea for help is, to me, even sadder than the flood waters. They will subside. People will have lost a lot by the time that happens, but what this nation has lost in the entrenched divisiveness among the citizens is not going to subside with the help of gravity and a few sunny days.

Hitler Strikes Again

I inadvertently got in a “debate” on Twitter about the meaning of “globalism.” This happened after I saw a video clip of a young de-brained black woman who said Hitler’s nationalism was OK until Hitler got into globalism. Globalism = the invasion of Poland, etc.

“I think that the definition [of nationalism] gets poisoned by elitists that actually want globalism. Globalism is what I don’t want,” Owens said. “Whenever we say ‘nationalism,’ the first thing people think about, at least in America, is Hitler. You know, he was a national socialist, but if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, OK, fine.” 

She continued, “The problem is that he wanted — he had dreams outside of Germany. He wanted to globalize. He wanted everybody to be German, everybody to be speaking German. Everybody to look a different way. That’s not, to me, that’s not nationalism. In thinking about how we could go bad down the line, I don’t really have an issue with nationalism. I really don’t. I think that it’s OK.”

She’s a spokesperson for a far right student group, the Turning Point. I dug a bit to see who they are. WTF? I am aghast.


So for these dweebs-in-training “globalism” is the same as world domination. The ONLY good thing about their — I’ll be kind — “misapprehension” is that they don’t seem to think world domination is a good thing.

Hitler emoticon

Mentioning Hitler in any positive way is a sure way to get attention. (Insert Hitler emoticon) and push any shred of thought right out of the brain. She got the knee-jerk reaction to Hitler to which she was playing. “Hitler!” = “Holocaust!” not “Hitler!” = “World conquest!” The protest the young woman garnered was focused on the extermination of Jews and Romani (which she never mentioned or defended), not on her egregious take on globalism (which was her point).

We just walk back and forth in mental trenches…

SO…I posted that globalism is not world domination; it’s an extenuation of the belief that we are, besides citizens of our respective nations, citizens of the world.

The storm that ensued from that sagacious philosophical position was scary. I quickly deleted and retreated. I saw that many people don’t get it that the boundaries of our nations are man-made things.

The world we live in now gives far too many people a platform with which to proclaim their ignorance.

I began seeing myself as a citizen of the world when I was a teenager. It was kind of a romantic notion (not “warm and fuzzy” as one of the Twitter assailants said, mistaking me for one of the squishier liberals). I saw myself as Richard Halliburton in my Seven League boots. To me, being a citizen of the world meant leaving the known and pursuing the unknown.

Globalism — being a citizen of the world — means understanding that what happens in another nation affects me and vice versa. This isn’t a new thought. It’s why the US landed on the beaches of Normandy. In my immediate reality, in this tiny town in the middle of nowhere, “globalism” means that the local Waste Management company is not offering recycling. Because of Trump’s trade war with China, China isn’t buying our trash right now with which to make Patagonia’s expensive recycled products.


Quotidian Update 43.2.a

Well, that break didn’t last long. It appears my NOT writing a daily blog while drinking my coffee in the morning disturbs the balance of life on Planet Martha. I get it. It corresponds with the rawhide pencil moment of my dogs’ lives, and it’s part of Dusty’s morning coffee (cup). Dogs are creatures of habit, but it might go deeper. I think it might be ritual.

Yesterday I cleaned out the art-room/studio/play room and assessed my art supplies. I guess during the working years I amassed supplies ahead of “someday.” Someday is now. I’m going to have to start manufacturing artwork and not watercolors on paper that take up no space and use almost no materials. I have to get into the oil paints and start turning out Elvis portraits. Tout suite!

The big news (in two days, you can’t expect a lot) is that I got my tax refund and paid for my skis. For the last several days, while the local mountains have been dumped on, we’ve had a melt. I was out there with Bear day before yesterday. The tracks looked OK, but we had more warm temps yesterday. The cross-country skiing is good up at Wolf Creek, the local ski area, but I don’t have anyone to go with and since it’s off to the side of the mountain, in the woods, and not patrolled. I don’t feel so good about going by myself.

In political news, I watched part of the State of the Union. What I do not understand is WHY that man doesn’t care about or respond to the fact that more than half the people in this country despise (fear? loathe?) him. He doesn’t seem to recognize that there’s a legitimate parallel America doing its best to function beside his bizarro America. He doesn’t get that he’s (ostensibly) the leader of THAT America, too, and owes them (us) a debt of responsibility.

As I looked at the sea of representatives from all over the country I thought that one side represents the future and the other the past. I can’t say I like the face of either side, and, even more significant, I am sad that there are “sides.” I’m tired of the ignorance. Socialism and Freedom are not opposites, for example.

OH well…

In other news (cheerier) on my dog walk yesterday, I found this note on the sidewalk. It had white ribbon and had been attached to a scarf that had been tied around a slumbering flowering crab apple tree.

I have to go paint something.

Burn, Baby, Burn…

57% of California forest is under the “control” of the federal government: the rest is in the control of corporations and Native American tribes. So, the question is, is Trump copping to the reality that budget cuts, a reduction in EPA funding and regulation, a reduction in federal woodland employees and the persistent denial of the realities of climate change by the Republican Party have all contributed to California wildfires?

He tried passing the buck, only to learn that the buck stopped with him.

I lived in California for thirty+ years. The number and size of wildfires grew each decade I lived there. Between 2003 and 2014, when I moved back to Colorado, I lived in Descanso, a small town at the edge of North America’s southernmost rain forest. This forest covers the Cuyamaca Mountains in San Diego County and has America’s southernmost indigenous redwood trees.

In 2003, the largest wildfire in California history (until last year), the Cedar Fire, swept through those mountains burning hundreds of thousands of acres, destroying an entire town, and killing people. It is the third deadliest fire in California history. (The two most deadly happened in 2017 and 2018. Think about that.)

The Cedar Fire began as a signal fire set by an ignorant dumbass hunter who was lost in tinder-dry chaparral, and wanted his friend to find him. If you look at the featured image, behind the biggest mountain in the photo (Mt. San Miguel which isn’t actually very high) is the forest near where I lived. The forest where I lived is about 50,000 wilderness acres, all of which burned. The Cedar Fire also burned through parts of San Diego all the way to the ocean, a total of 273,246 acres burned. I was evacuated from home for more than a week.

California fires for the past two years have been worse but bad is bad, right?

“I think people have to see this really to understand it,” Trump said in his visit to the site of the recent Camp Fire.

I got news for you, sweet cheeks. MILLIONS of people in California HAVE seen it, and they understand it fine. Those of us who lived in fire-vulnerable towns on the edges of the forests (some towns were — as mine — more than a hundred years old and hadn’t burned) were scrupulous about controlling fuels on our property. Not just that, when a “normal” fire started (as happened twice while I lived in Descanso, California) people in the town and volunteer firefighters were able to extinguish the fires before they could become dangerous. These fires were a water heater explosion, random cigarette butt thrown by a tourist into a dry field. We were not stupid nor were we unprepared or inexperienced. Besides THAT the volunteer fire departments of these towns issues warnings and tickets for people who do NOT clear their property. 

Still, the clearest property in the world
will NOT stop a fire going 80 mph.

He went on to compare California to Nordic nations (hang on while my head explodes):

“Other countries do it differently, it’s a whole different story,” Trump said, citing purported comments from the president of Finland on how the Nordic nation deals with its forests.

He said they engage in “raking and cleaning things and they don’t have any problem.”

California has 33 million acres of forest, according to a University of California web page. Federal agencies overseen by the Trump administration own and manage about 19 million acres of that total.

“I perhaps wouldn’t compare Finland and California climate-wise…” tweeted Veli-Pekka Kivimäki, a Finnish defense researcher. “And besides, 80% of the country [Finland] is classified as forest land. We don’t exactly manicure all of it.”

Beyond that, Mr. “President,” fire JUMPS from tree-top to tree-top. Fire jumps freeways and lakes. A fire in motion does whatever it damned well pleases. 

Moving back to Colorado, I was shocked to see people actually stacking firewood BESIDE their houses! How much more reckless could they be, right?

“…when he was asked by Fox News in an interview set to air Sunday whether climate change played a role in the number of serious fires, he said: ‘Maybe it contributes a little bit. The big problem we have is management.’ He added that he was surprised to see images of firefighters removing dried brush near a fire. “This should have been all raked out.”

By whom, dickwad?

How many BLM guys does it take to rake out 250,000 acres of forest — roughly the number of acres burned in two of California’s recent fires. Add to that the man power needed to clear out beetle kill oak and pine? What IF there had not been, essentially, decades of increasing drought?

“We’ve never seen anything like this in California,” Trump said.

Yes, actually, California has. Year after year, worse every year. And not just California. Washington State, Oregon, Alaska, Montana, Colorado, the entire WEST is burning along with Greece, Spain, Italy, IRELAND (for Chrissakes), Australia, parts of Africa — it’s a pretty long list of tragedies just like this. 

In August 2017, the northern hemisphere firemaps looked like this:

I am sure that these fires have something to do with careless people, flying cigarette butts, a spark from an electric wire or a car passing by, they have more to do with climate change. Wet fuel isn’t fuel.

The data tell the story: Six of California’s ten most destructive wildfires on record have now struck in just the past three years

…scientific evidence clearly shows that climate change is exacerbating California’s wildfires in different ways:

1) Higher temperatures dry out vegetation and soil, creating more wildfire fuel.

2) Climate change is shortening the California rainy season, thus extending the fire season.

3) Climate change is also shifting the Santa Ana winds that fan particularly dangerous wildfires in Southern California.

4) The warming atmosphere is slowing the jet stream, leading to more California heat waves and high-pressure ridges in the Pacific. Those ridges deflect from the state some storms that would otherwise bring much-needed moisture to slow the spread of fires.

I am not a climate scientist, but I read. And I know how our lives are different now from fifty or sixty years ago, not just my life, but the lives of people all over the world. Economic development isn’t free and the costs are not just financial. China in its rush to become a developed nation (and it was /is/has been a rush) said straight up that it would be interested in environmentalism when all its people had the necessities for a comfortable and prosperous life. It has reached this goal and has taken steps to ameliorate some of the damage its development has caused, but it could be too little too late. But, in my personal opinion anything at any time practiced consistently can help. 

What doesn’t help is having a president of one of the largest, most influential nations and economies in the world deny the need for human beings to step up — or keep stepping up — to diminish the contribution of human beings to the destruction of our world through climate change.

2015 special report in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society found that “An increase in fire risk in California is attributable to human-induced climate change.” And a 2016 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that human-caused global warming doubled the area burned by wildfires in the western U.S. over just the past 30 years.


I love this planet. It made me, it feeds me, it helps me continue living, my friends are all here, I find it beautiful.

I loved California. Part of my heart will always be there.

I’m grateful that where I live now, in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, alternative energy sources are not only available, but help the economy in one of the most economically depressed areas of the United States. I was recently given the choice by my electric company to choose where my electricity comes from and it is now all solar generated. 

San Luis Valley Solar Farm, Mosca CO

Opportunities like this are happening all over the world. I don’t think our government should drag its heels denying a reality that’s all too real to millions of people. 

Monte Vista Skies

Polar Bear Yeti T. Dog has had a proclivity for getting car sick which makes her a bad bet for my hiking buddy. This morning I decided to drive my ballot to the county seat and put it directly in the County Clerk’s box. What if I gave Bear the chance NOT to get sick on a 28-mile round trip jaunt?

Tricked her into getting her leash on (she knows when we’re supposed to go and when it might be a vet trip) and off we went.

There’s a storm coming over the mountains, already snowing hard at the summit of Wolf  Creek Pass and at the ski area, so the sky was in the early stages of storm drama. Fantastic.

Bear didn’t get carsick, and I didn’t want to go home. The Sandhill cranes are still here, so we turned down the road to the refuge. One of the signs on this road is an Amish Buggy warning sign.


The first time I saw this I thought it was a joke, but it’s not. There’s a (comparatively) large Amish community in Monte Vista’s rural area. Over the weekend, one of these buggies was hit by a pickup, and the horse was injured. I see no reason at all for a pickup to hit an Amish buggy.

So we got to the refuge and there were many cranes off in the fields. They’re on their way to New Mexico and I can imagine they know a storm is coming at least as well as I do. I took Bear to a viewing area where there were no cranes. She deserved a reward for riding 50 miles without getting sick, and I wanted to photograph the sky. We had a lovely walk and a big flock of cranes flew overhead, calling and cooing and bringing joy to my heart.

cranes 2

I just LOVE them.



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Njal, the Viking Mouse

I can object until I’m blue in the face but it makes very little (if any) difference. I object to a lot of things. Currently I’m objecting to the presence of a tiny field mouse in my house, but he doesn’t care. He is not attracted to the peanut butter or minuscule fragments of popcorn in the numerous traps set all around his habitual stalking area. I’m beginning to think he likes me. I’m wondering if, at night, he curls up with Bear to sleep. He’s a daring little guy. I’ve named him Njal for the ill-fated but virtuous hero of my favorite Icelandic saga.

I object to most of what’s going on in Washington right now and I voted my objection. Easiest ballot I ever filled in. I didn’t have to think about anything since my goal is simply to contribute to restoring the balance of powers. I know how powerful my vote is, too. I’m one tiny person in the middle of a large (in area) rural Colorado county. Oh, the power!!!

I once objected to things vociferously and strenuously, but that was before I was 40. I still had the impression that people were listening to me and waiting eagerly for my opinion. Years teaching taught me that is NOT the case. It was a relief letting the weight of the world fall from my shoulders and, instead, lifting the little piece that belongs to me, barely bigger than this little audacious hungry grey rodent.

Meditation on Justice

Justice is a made-up thing, one of the best things humans have attempted, IMO. It is designed to make up for the injustices of nature. Since justice is administered by humans, it’s not perfect, but its imperfections reflect the very imperfections in humanity justice exists to rectify. Laws were formed that all people could follow and a rule of law to establish justice in the case of a law being violated. The people administering justice are supposed to know the law well and have the ability to detach their own biases, beliefs, and experiences from the whole shebang.

That can’t be easy.

Justice is a very wonderful thing. There was never any need for humans to come up with it. Nature works in the opposite direction. It doesn’t give the weak and alien a chance at all. I guess when we decided to form the uber-organism of a society, we began to see survival as something beyond an individual thing. You’ll have to ask Lamont or Dude on that one. I don’t remember the moment myself 😉

I got justice this year. Medical science had found a way to rectify my weakness so I’m not going to be left behind when the tribe moves on, and I won’t be stealing food from the young.



Metal joints — justice


There is injustice here, too. By sheer luck (and possibly some merit) I was born into an upper-middle-class family with parents who both had college educations. I was also born with a pretty good mind and an extremely strong will which helped me compensate for some learning disabilities (and no one had learning disabilities in the 50s and 60s). My family also happened to have been from the Great American West where few people lived (or live now). I consider this good luck — the tensions of highly populated areas were not part of my childhood.

On the other side, why did my dad have to die at 45? Why was my mom a nutcase? Why was my brother self-destructive? Why am I left here with no family? What the fuck? Fate’s injustices were made up for by a large and loving extended family. This is an example of why justice is represented by a balance. The philosophy I grew up with is, “You gotta’ take the bitter with the sweet,” “Count yer’ blessings,” and “Keep on keeping on.”

I think every day we struggle for justice in one way or another. We want people to listen to us and hear what we’re really saying. We want to be respected for the person we are.

I’ve been — out of the corner of my eye — watching all the stuff involved in the appointment of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. I will now weigh in.

First, when the Republicans (I believe illegally) obstructed the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice during Obama’s last year in office, they asked for what’s happening now. They’re getting a species of justice but it might be called revenge. Not having the votes to make any impact on anything Mr. Trump and his minions choose to do, they have resorted to dirty politics, and it’s just the kind of dirty politics that will deflect attention from things that (I, anyway) think are more important such as tariffs on Chinese goods. I think they’re playing into the Repub’s hands in their ire and search for justice. I think it’s awful.

Second, men vs. women. I grew up during the 50s –> now. I was inappropriately hit on by a wide variety of men from my college poetry professor to a kid in one of my classes. In between those two? I don’t want to detail this at all. As a friend and I were talking the other day, it was a different time. That kind of behavior — and the fact that it was more or less considered “OK” — is one of the reasons behind feminism. But back then I think we mostly went around with the idea that the only reason a man wanted to hang around a woman was on the off chance that he could “do her.” It wasn’t and isn’t true, but it was a common defensive posture.

On the other side…

There was a time in my life when my eyes were completely open to sexuality in the workplace. One was the office Christmas party at the large law firm where I worked. The woman who ran the one and only word processor (it was the late 70s), a formerly hot chick now in her late 40s, too much make-up, slinky clothes, cheap nylons, teased hair dyed strawberry blond, emphasis on the strawberry, showed up that day even more decorated with robin’s-egg-blue eyeshadow and jewelry than usual. That day I learned (in the lady’s break room) that she had been the “mistress” of one of the partners years before and had not let go. Her hope was to re-ignite the relationship — which I think she did that afternoon, if only temporarily.

The other was when I had my annual performance review and I was told (by the smarmy, nasty, ugly, polyester-pants-clad office manager) that the only reason I had the job I had was because one of the associates had recommended me. The law firm had the idea that in order to get him to go with them (he was a judge’s son) they had to hire me. They thought the judge’s son was boinking me. He wasn’t. We’d met when he attended the law school where I was working. He respected my work and thought I’d be a good paralegal. It really WAS that simple. But the culture was what it was. The undercurrent in that place was a lot like Madmen. 

Our rationale for all of this was “all men are pigs.” I would add (though we never did), “and some women, too.”

Sex is NOT rational which is why there are laws about it. It’s that justice thing again.

We don’t live exactly in that world anymore, but many of us HAVE lived in that world which makes justice difficult. The response of some is, “That’s how it was.” The response of others (younger women? angrier women?) “That’s not to be borne!” Both are right. That’s how it was and no, it’s not right. That it’s not right is WHY we’ve worked to change our world.

Which brings me to what’s going on now with the appointment of Judge Kavanaugh. This is politics. This is retribution. The guy deserves a fair hearing. I don’t like him. I don’t like anything about politics in this country right now. It’s all of a very corrupt and angry piece to me and justice doesn’t enter in.

“Are we THERE Yet?”

Milestones are important for kids. You see them on bedrooom walls, doorways, closets. “Look, mom, I used to be only THIS tall!” But even old folks such as myself have some good milestones. Monday will be the 8 week milestone post-op from my hip replacement. That actually means something in terms of what I can do. I don’t know what yet, but I’m sure someone will tell me.

I’ve had a lot of those types of milestones in the past two months. The milestone of no longer having bad bones in my hip, the milestone of not needing to wear TED hose (my fave), the milestone of being done shooting myself in the abdomen with blood thinners, the best milestone of bringing the dogs home from the boarding kennel.

Right now the mountains to the east of me are burning and they are burning fast. People live up there — some people I know — so that adds to the fear. The fire has grown quickly — from a few hundred acres two days ago to tens of thousands of acres this morning. These are milestones no one needs.

I am bewildered again by humanity and particularly the leadership in this country. That fuckhead in the White House is more worried about us understanding there was no “collusion” than by the fact that the southwestern part of the nation he allegedly leads is in a desperate drought or by the possibility that people could do something to mitigate the change in climate that I, this one little person, this tiny irrelevant self, has witnessed in my lifetime (his lifetime, too.) I know there have always been forest firest. I KNOW it’s part of nature’s way, I know there are trees (redwoods for one) that need fire for the seeds to open and germinate, but NOT on the scale we witness now. Not just that — walking the dogs yesterday, soon after I hit our little trail I stomped out a still burning cigarette butt.

So the mountains burn — several fires in Colorado right now just as there were in Montana, Washington and California last year — and peoples’ lives displaced and humanity as thoughtless as ever.

In other news, I spoke with the woman who’s helped me edit two of my other novels about where to go with The Schneebelis Go to America and it was a GREAT conversation. Now I have direction and it looks like I might reach the milestone of finishing it in a way I can live with. 🙂

Here is my “milestone” for next Monday (hopefully).



Short hike to Elephant Rocks


Up top is my milestone for marking “You’re not really much of a cripple any more.” Hiking along San Francisco Creek. Who knows how far, but it’ll be fun.

Random Quotidian Rambling, Surgery and Politics

I’m going to visit my dogs today. I had big dreams of bringing them home yesterday, but that was impossible. I had hopes of bringing them home next week, but those dreams are fading fast. I’m not steady on my pins, can’t clean house easily, can’t bend over (to put their food dish down), can’t walk them, can’t carry a bag of dog food, can’t hold Dusty back from charging the front door etc. etc. I did get a pooper-picker-upper that I don’t have to bend over to use. I am now thinking that I can get them in ten days, on the one-monthiversary of my surgery.

I’m still very tired. Yesterday I had physical therapy, and then a friend dropped in for a visit. After that I needed a two hour nap. 🙂

The post-surgery brain is an interesting world. Yesterday I had to figure out how to empty the recycling bin in my kitchen without lifting or bending over. That ended up me using my reacher/grabber to take stuff out and put in a paper bag that I could then carry out back to the recycling can. It sounds like a smart solution, and it was, but it revealed how messed up my brain has been from this whole thing — one of the pieces of paper was a check for $65 I’d endorsed. Apparently I’d put the stub in my wallet and the real money in the recycling. It has a little protein powder on it, but I can still deposit it.

There’s a lot of hard and serious work going on in my body right now. The acetabulum is trying to grow into the new piece that was installed. It’s been glued in, but the real healing is when my own bone grows to hold the implant. It takes about three months. This can be messed up and I don’t want it to be.


In other guilty news, I’m watching the President create truth. It’s truly amazing. Because I was taught (meaning it was hammered into my head by my teachers and professors) to be skeptical, find primary sources and do research in more than one place, it’s just my nature NOT to believe anything until I see it corroborated by more than one source, hopefully sources that are relatively unbiased. SO…when I see Trump quoting Fox News (exclusively) I’m not fooled (or even interested). I know what he’s doing every time he decries “false news!” He’s calling out to his supporters to reject a story that might have been published by several different sources (a symptom of facts) but isn’t what he wants people to know or believe. I’ve always been aware that he does this on purpose. Nonetheless, this stunned me:

(Leslie) Stahl said she and her boss met with Trump at his office in Trump Tower in Manhattan after the 2016 election in advance of a recorded sit-down interview for “60 Minutes.

“At one point, he started to attack the press,” Stahl said. “There were no cameras in there.”

“I said, ‘You know, this is getting tired. Why are you doing it over and over? It’s boring and it’s time to end that. You know, you’ve won … why do you keep hammering at this?'” Stahl recalled.

“And he said: ‘You know why I do it? I do it to discredit you all and demean you all so that when you write negative stories about me no one will believe you.'”

As Mueller’s infinitely long and convoluted investigation continues, and people lose interest in it, and the economy is (allegedly) strong, and Trump continues to fulfill his campaign promises, it is less and less likely that anyone will care whether he lies or not. His behavior is that of a guilty person, but people who believe they are doing better financially now than they were 2 years ago aren’t going to care.

It’s not just the media that Trump discredits in this way. He’s gone after any group who stands up not in opposition to him but in support of the truth. Yesterday James Clapper explained that the FBI was investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election, ultimately something that would protect the legitimacy of the election. Yet, Trump is calling it “Spygate.”

On Tuesday, James Clapper, the former Director of National Intelligence, went on “The View” … to talk about President Donald Trump and the intelligence community.

During that interview, this exchange happened between Clapper and co-host Joy Behar:

BEHAR: “So I ask you, was the FBI spying on Trump’s campaign?”

CLAPPER: “No, they were not. They were spying on, a term I don’t particularly like, but on what the Russians were doing. Trying to understand were the Russians infiltrating, trying to gain access, trying to gain leverage or influence which is what they do.”

BEHAR: “Well, why doesn’t [Trump] like that? He should be happy.”

CLAPPER: “He should be.”


Meanwhile, the NFL mandates that players must stand for the National Anthem, taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood is nearer to being cut off, kids have been killed in school (again? still?). Is it that an unborn fetus is more important than a high school kid on the brink of his/her life and future that the gumint can “protect” one life and ignore the losses of others? Never mind that abortion is not Planned Parenthood’s main job. I — and many of my students over the years — visited Planned Parenthood for such important things as free HIV testing. I don’t know. I don’t expect sense any more.

There’s a great phrase in Spanish, Jodidos pero contentos — all fucked up but OK. I’m kind of there. With the surgery, the drugs, the brain weirdness, the slow-motion life, the regaining of skills and abilities, the national situation looks foggy, distant and gray. What really matters is that I sleep on my back, don’t bend forward more than 90 degrees and get my dogs home as soon as I safely can. I can’t influence the gubmint, I can’t change the minds of his supporters or effectively do anything but show up to vote in November. I only have to show up at my mailbox so that’s no big deal. I do wish some other party (or even the repubs) would step forward with something positive because an anti-Trump campaign is not going to win seats in Congress.

First Amendment vs. Facebook

A long, long time ago in a faraway land known as Colorado lived a girl who was worried about what we now call “the environment.” The term wasn’t in use yet and it always kind of bothered the girl, anyway. She went away to college — to a woman’s college in Denver that was funded mostly by the American Baptist Convention. They had given her $25k to go to school there. It paid for housing, food, tuition. Everything.

She wanted to be an artist when she grew up (against the advice of the US gubmint [who picked up part of the tab for her schooling] and her mom). Their advice to her was that she become a journalist.

Being a freshman, just 18, right out of high school, she knew practically EVERYTHING and had COMPLETE confidence that before she graduated she’d have fixed most of the major problems in the world.

Her sculpture teacher assigned an “earth” sculpture project after they had had a fieldtrip to the big state University in the next town and saw a lot of earth sculpture. The girl was VERY happy. She had a plan. She was going to get some cedar fenceposts, some plastic flags like were used at used car lots and a real estate for sale sign. She would erect it by the art building. She sketched it, and planned it, and hornswoggled the guy who wanted to get her in bed to drive her out east of the city (probably where DIA is now).

So the night before the project was due, she dug the postholes. She planted the poles. She acquired the flags. She got the For Sale sign and scraped off all the words, but it still looked like what it was. She did her project, never, never thinking what it might mean to passers by and not knowing that the school was in big financial trouble and THAT’S why it had lately changed its name from Colorado Womans College to Temple Buell College. Temple Buell had money, but also an ego the size of the buildings he designed.

When morning came, all that remained were three holes. She was called into the office of the President and lectured. No one asked her what she had meant; it didn’t matter to them that her sculpture was a representation of the last open land on the earth, a small triangle of open “space.” The president asked the young woman, “What on earth were you thinking?” And explained the financial situation of the college and told her that people had called asking if the college were for sale.

She’d raised a big problem for the college because of a situation about which she had NO idea. It was — for her — the first glint she had of her comparative size in the universe.

What we don’t know, probably at any time in our lives, is that we DON’T KNOW, but this is especially true at that juncture in our lives. Teaching post-adolescents for as long as I did, I got to witness thousands of examples of a kid being one person at age 18 and a completely (almost) different person at age 21. This is a time of rapid brain development and awakening in a lot of young people. Unfortunately, many of us freeze in that moment. For whatever reason — hating school, not having had the chance to further our education, not having a basically inquiring mind, maybe a million reasons — we don’t grow past that point of strong, adamant and ignorant opinions. We BECOME our beliefs and don’t ask questions.

I didn’t do that. I know I didn’t. Does it make me “better” than other people? I don’t know. It does make me different than some. Mental and intellectual flexibility matter to me, partly because of my — oops — that young woman’s experience with the post holes, the cedar fence posts, the plastic flags, the sign and the college president. I loved my college. I didn’t want to put it in any danger, but I was a kid and the big picture was not yet open to me.

Yesterday, on Facebook, in one of the local groups to which I belong, a photo was posted of a work of art at the nearby university, Adams State. It’s a piece of protest art. It stimulated a LOT of noise, but I see it as the kind of thing EXACTLY a young person would do. People generally seem to have their minds made up about things and their “responses” are knee jerk reactions, but it did stimulate a few thoughtful responses. The work ITSELF is pretty bad. It was a response to this topic from a critical thinking class:

…make something that challenges ‘the assumptions or principles relating to or inherent in a sphere, theory, or thing, especially when concerned with power and status in a society.”

So a teacher challenged students. The piece displays ignorance, passion and a LITTLE knowledge. (Sorry I don’t know know and couldn’t find the name of the artist.)




My comment on the thread was:


Of course, there was reaction against what people THOUGHT I said (normal for social media) but there was comprehension, too.

It is the work of a post-adolescent who feels strongly about the direction politics in this country is taking. It really pissed people off, and showed me, again, what’s wrong with social media. NONE of these people would even have KNOWN about this work without Facebook. It would have done its job on a university campus, maybe have been written about in the campus paper. Unlike the young woman in the story above, this student is going to imagine his/her size in the universe is pretty big, that his/her feelings are very important, that he/she has said something meaningful and worth fighting for. The “artist” might think he/she is finished with the idea and has mastered it. That’s not the best lesson.

I hate social media because it brings out the worst in people. It makes people defensive and aggressive. A complex topic like this one deserves more than just, “I’m not sending my kid to ASU!” or “Disrespecting veterans,” or, the worst, “This is why China euthanized an entire generation.”

But the paradox of America that I will never understand is Freedom of Speech. People love it, want it, value it, until someone says something they don’t like.