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Halloween

“From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night, Good Lord deliver us.” (Old saying or prayer probably originated in Cornish).

“Two steps forward. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Two steps forward. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.. It’s Halloween.” (Indie Rock group The Dream Syndicate).

“Happy nightmare, Baby. Because you’re mine, all mine.” ( Kendra Smith, who actually co-founded The Dream Syndicate, then co-founded Opal, where she wrote this song).

“Not to touch the earth, not to see the sun, nothing left to do but run, run, run, let’s run” (Jim Morrison, the Doors).

When the shadows become corporeal, and the mutterings turn into screaming, where do you run to?

Halloween is fun, when you know that it is just a game, and after you have walked up and down the streets with your friends, you can go home to your house which is safe, and wake up the next day and start looking forward to the Thanksgiving holiday. But what if the nightmare does not end?

I read two Halloween stories to my girlfriend every Halloween, it is by her request. The difficult part is finding a sufficiently scary story which does not frighten her past the reading of it. I have books and books of “The Year’s Best Horror Stories,” or similarly titled anthologies, but it is hard to find great horror short fiction. Charles Dickens wrote a few. My family and I saw the great actor Emlyn Williams play Dickens for a night; and he read from memory, and acted out, his chilling story “The Signalman.” I have never forgotten it.

I saw John Astin play Edgar Allan Poe for a night, and he acted out “The Raven.” I will presume to say that I can read it better. It is mostly about expressing the right emotional tone. I had a record of Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone reading some Poe stories, and they were excellent. I also had Karloff reading Lewis Carroll’s poem “The Hunting of the Snark,” which was both whimsical and chilling.

I do not believe in vampires or werewolves or zombies. But I would not walk alone on a deserted road at night. That is mostly because of people, the kind who do terrible things to others, because they are twisted, and full of anger and hate. The horror is that the human race may contain scarier people than the various entities which they imagined, and put in storires.

There are more of these people than ever before. They read their satanic texts, which might be websites where they congregate. I don’t think they say prayers backwards, but they invent and pass on insane stories which they believe with the fervor of worshippers of evil.

A man named Elon Musk, who wants to be dictator of the world, thought it was clever to respond to Hillary Clinton’s sincere expression of commiseration and anger at the attack on Paul Pelosi, by saying, “There might be a bit more to this story.’ and providing a link to a site full of lies and libels, where in 2016 they had run a story that Hillary had died, and that a double was going to play her in the debate. And this megalomaniac amplified the lies about Pelosi, which will lead to more such incidents. Is this not more frightening than the typical horror movie?

Well, I do not want to spend Halloween scaring all of us about what is happening to this country. At least Bolsinaro lost in Brazil, there is still some hope or a semblance of sanity. It is hard to escape for even a day from the horrors around us, but to keep our sanity and sense of humanity, we must.

I was trying to find a short tale to transcribe here, but the Marjorie Bowen story was taking too long for me to finish it in time to be there in the morning. Maybe the hour it took for me to solve the Wordle was the problem! Sometimes there are eerie waltz melodies in horror stories!

I hope that everyone has a decent Halloween. If anyone wants to listen to or even put up a very good unsettling song, I would recommend “We Are the Damned” by the Nuns, and the brilliant Jennifer Miro, who combined with Jeff Olenor, her bandmate with the original Nuns, for this song. Miro is playing harpsichord, she learned classical piano, before doing a wholly different career. It is from the great album “Romania,”

I left up the part of the Marjorie Bowen story I transcribed. Apparently there was an apparition of a person from the Inquisition, who had waited for centuries to get this heretic who did not share his fanaticism. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.

THE VIGIL

I believe that I have seen and heard many ghosts though some of them were dreams.And I believe that ghosts move in and out of dreams, as they move in and out of waking hours, and the obscure reality of them dims the reality of all our days.

But this ghost was not a dream–at least not my dream. It was in Italy some years ago in a small ancient town that was lovely enough amid the olive trees and maize fields, but which I never liked. It was admirable, no doubt, but alien to me. I had no affinity with the place–with the old houses that had been palaces, with the piazza and the marble fountains said to be by Michelangelo, with the vivid gulf of sea on one side, and the range of purple mountains clothed by golden chestnuts on the other side, and the cheerful lusty people. It was all to me like a picture with which I had nothing to do. I was very lonely. and at times an incalculable sensation of desolation would overwhelm me, even in the midst of the gaiety of local life, a life from which I was utterly apart.

I have a very strong sense of place, The atmosphere of scenes, houses, streets, is usually most poignant to me–far more so than the human personalities–but there was no atmosphere about this place. It was blank of all meaning and because of that, I think, I was not happy there.

I had an “apartomento” in one of the most considerable buildings. The lower floors were inhabited by small. pompous provincial notables–shrill, busy, unimportant people– but the above was occupied by one old man of whom no one seemed to know anything. It was understood that he was poor and scholarly and disagreeable–and then one day it was said that he was dying.

It chanced that I was alone in my flat with a servant, a robust, stalwart, and kindhearted peasant.of the deepest ignorance, and she was voluble about the “poverino” dying neglected upstairs. He was, it appeared, not only friendless, but a heretic–a sin condoned in foreigners, but not forgiven in a compatriot. This old man was regarded, I gathered from the gossiping maid.,with aversion, even accursed. I could not discover why, except that he was, and had long been, cast off by the Church.

Compromising with shyness and timidity, I sent Elena, the servant. up to the flat,with offers of help. Her reply was painful.

No doctor, no priest, no friend, and Death very near. The sick man had asked for someone to watch with him that night, which he believed would be his last on earth. Elena was…

Hit it!

I’ve been reading Twitter’s comments since the debate Jawn had with Oz the other day and what has stood out to me is he is stirring in people what has been missing in our national discourse for decades.

It’s Empathy.

We all know what it’s like to be living our lives, reaching our goals or minding our own business when something levels us. It could be unemployment or cancer or a death in the family or losing your family members to MAGA or fill in the blank. And just when you think it can’t get any worse, that little voice tells you not to give up. When it happens to you and you survive it, it helps you identify with the struggles of others.

Getting knocked down and getting up again could be a unifier. Hope over despair.

Happy Friday!!

Musical Memories

Beata’s recollection of the song “Old Friends” from the Simon and Garfunkel album “Bookends,” brought back the nostalgia of a lyric which was about looking backward from an older age. I well remember the album, and the two which preceded it, “The Sound of Silence,” and “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” And that caused me to think about ’60’s music, and how much better I think it is than the pop music of today. And then to think about the various musical artists I have seen over the years in the pop and rock modes.

This is in no way an attempt to impress anyone with the concerts I have seen. I think about the artists I wish I had seen. I was not adventurous as a teenager, and there was no way I was going to travel to the Sunset Strip during that incredible musical period. A few of those groups I got to see later on, which was great, but it wasn’t the same thing. I actually saw many of my favorite artists via reunion tours, trying to make up for missing them the first time. I thought that it might be fun, in the midst of all this political tension, to think about some great music. And if Janet Gray is still following this blog, I think that she will enjoy the reminiscences.

I loved the music of the Mamas and Papas, and the first two rock albums I ever had were their “If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears,” and “Revolver” by the Beatles. My parents were thoughtful enough to buy tickets, and drive my brother and me to see the Mamas and Papas at the Hollywood Bowl, with opening act Jimi Hendrix, whom John and Michelle Phillips, who helped to manage the Monterey Pop Festival (that was something I have wished I could have seen, far better than Woodstock), had been impressed by at that event.

I did get to see concerts by Donovan and by Simon and Garfunkel at UCLA, a few years later. I have seen Judy Collins much later than that, several times, and I saw Roger McGuinn of the Byrds and Collins combine for a concert, singing a few songs together at the end.

And one of my greatest thrills was to see Arthur Lee and a new incarnation of his incredible group Love, play all their great songs, with Lee making a comeback from a down period in his career and life, and sounding as good as he ever did.

In the ’70’s, I ventured out more, by myself or with a date, to see artists like Gordon Lighfoot, and then many of the groups which comprised the so-called “L.A. Underground,” our answer to New York’s “New Wave,” in the late 1970’s. I did see the Talking Heads, an East Coast New Wave group, though we really did not see them, just hear them, because it was so crowded that one could not see the stage. From Los Angeles, I saw the Go-Go’s back before they had done an album, but I had heard them on the radio when they were more of a punk-type band which played the songs fast, before their producer slowed the songs down and they sold millions of copies of “Beauty and the Beat,” I saw the Motels, with the extraordinary Martha Davis, prowling the stage, looking beautiful, intense and edgy.

Also one of my favorite groups from that period, whom I don’t think that anyone here has heard of, Vivabeat,with a great guitarist and bass player, a charismatic lead singer, and keyboardist a and synthesizer player Marina Del Rey. Others, too, which no one outside of L.A. has likely ever heard of.

I got to see Howard Devoto of the brilliant British group Magazine, who was a solo act at that point, with opening act The Fall. That was a great concert. I saw the Simple Minds, but that was decades later, on a reunion tour, they still sounded great. And I was so excited to see a reunited Roxy Music, one of the best concerts I have ever seen, which is pretty much shown on their “Roxy Music at the Apollo” on DVD. I also got to see Blondie, with just about all the original members, a couple of times.

Jumping around, I went to a two-day event featuring ’60’s artists, twenty years later. The highlights were The Association, who always were great in concert, and a reconfigured The Animals with Eric Burdon. I saw a reunion of the groups of the “Paisley Underground” of the ’80’s in L.A., which were an homage to the ’60’s. The Bangles, Green on Red, The Dream Syndicate, unfortunately missing the great Kendra Smith, and The Rain Parade.

I finally got to see Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks a few times, what an amazing talent he was. And Johnny Rivers, Roky Erickson, and Al Stewart. I was thrilled to see Petula Clark more than once, in her ’80’s, as melodic and charming as ever. I even got to see Donny and Marie Osmond, whose music is not my favorite, but who put on wonderful concerts. I saw the reformed Jefferson Airplane/Starship, with Cathy Richardson a more than worthy successor to Grace Slick.

I haven’t gone to concerts lately, because I feel uncomfortable going to large events, with so many people refusing to wear masks. Hopefully, there will be a time before very long, when one can feel safe again at concerts, There are still a few performers I would like to see, including Paul McCartney, and maybe Bod Dylan, whom I have the highest admiration for, but who I have heard is somewhat erratic in the quality of his shows. I like Florence and the Machine, and would like to see them again. I would go to any Loreena McKennitt concert on the West Coast. I saw her three times when she was last here, and she is a treasure.

A lot of memories which I can call up in my mind, even though I never tried to record any of it on my phone.I wish I could see them again, though. Artists whom I wish I could have seen, some of whom probably did play here, but I did not know of them at the time, or was too young to venture out to see on my own, were the Seekers, Ultravox with John Foxx, Altered Images, B-People with Alex Gibson, The Doll. The Popguns are my favorite group now, but they do not often play concerts out of England.

And I will always regret not going to a concert by Broadcast on their last trip here, before the incomparable Trish Keenan, who to me evoked in music the poetic quality of an Emily Bronte or Christina Rossetti, came down with swine flu on a concert tour in Australia, and tragically died of pneumonia a few weeks later, at age 42. As I said on a radio show I got to guest host, I saw them five times, and I wish I had seen them five hundred times.

Ray Davies and the Kinks sang, ”They can’t stop the music playing on.” And they can’t, though I wish it were as good as in some of those earlier times.


We Need to Surmount the Propaganda and Gaslighting

I am trying not to watch the news, it just upsets me. The election coverage seems as if the people who own the networks have given orders to never say anything positive about the Democrats, their chances, and their campaigns. And to always use terms like “soaring inflation,” “prices at the pump,” “Americans upset and angry about the economy.”

Those are of course just phrases. They mirror reality only to the extent that one imagines they do. Gas prices are not rising, they are dropping. Inflation has been constant “year over year” for three months or so. Inflation in America is less than in almost every developed country outside of “that wildly socialist Canada.” But if the media keeps repeating Republican propaganda, they think that they can get enough people to believe it, which come to think of it, is their plan for every election. Where are the caravans? Where are Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction? Where are Antifa and Black Lives Matter doing criminal activity? Well, that fear tactic is still out there, even though Antifa scarcely exists in this country, and BLM is not being heard from. They are more figures set up to stoke fear and hatred.

And those “person on the street” interviews, which are somehow intended to be a microcosm of sentiment? An elementary school paper would do a better job than this technique of finding a few people who supposedly represent the current opinion. Two out of three who are right-wing Republicans translates to something? This really is journalistic malpractice, but they continue to do it.

The term “gaslighting” has become prevalent, though it typically gets overused. The import of the term is that, as in the movies “Gaslight” (there were two of them, and I actually like the one with Diana Wynyard and Anton Walbrook, better than the later version with Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, but that is off the point), someone tries to convince another person, or maybe many people, to doubt their own sanity. To convince them that what they see is not really there, and that they cannot trust their own perceptions.

Republicans utilize techniques in that vein, much as do totalitarian countries. What was that line from “1984,” about the Party teaching people to distrust their own senses? The Far Right here, and their allies globally, control the airwaves, and pretty obviously, they want complete control of them. They have the networks, and we see that more clearly during elections.

They also have created these so-called political sites, which pretend to be neutral, but obviously have a right-wing bias. Politico (I did not realize that it was bought by the Far Right Axel Springer), Axios,, The Hill, Real Clear Politics, fill their sites with articles which vary from the absolute pro-MAGA, to the almost more sinister pretense of the supposedly neutral story which is filled with mockery or criticism or questioning of Democrats.

Then we have the polling. It was noted by Simon Rosenberg, whom I mentioned the other day, and is worth reading, that there is a large preponderance of Republican-funded polls, which tend to flood the market, and affect the “polling averages,” and also of course skew the narrative.

Now, I don’t want to be naive and think that Democrats are actually going to win big victories in two weeks, though I wish I could really believe that. But I do think that we may be intended victims of a calculated propaganda campaign which is trying to make Republican victories seem inevitable, as well as the fault of Democrats. Everything is the fault of Democrats in their framing; they are not only going to lose, but they are going to deserve it, and there is no hope that things will get better for them. “Surrender, Dorothy.”

Seriously, when is the last time that you have seen one major news station or reporter say anything favorable about Democrats, singular or plural? It has long been this way, but it is far worse than I remember it. It was so obvious in the Bush vs. Gore campaign, horrific in the Clinton vs. Trump race, and now we are being inundated with this narrative.

I have been waking up in the middle of the night, feeling this general sense of unease and worry, as I think about how absolutely awful a Republican Congress would be, worse than even the Gingrich or the Ryan Republican Caucus. How could people be so foolish, and brainwashed, that they would actually vote to lose their Social Security and Medicare, to have the economy potentially collapse if the debt limit is not raised, and to lose any right to abortion and other social protections? If people have devolved so much, then there may be no sense in trying to convince or teach them otherwise.

But maybe enough people will somehow learn to tune them out; to figuratively escape to a place like that outside of “The City” in the movie “Logan’s Run.” One has to protect and insulate oneself from the attempted mind control, and the gaslighting. Of course, hearing that the latest tests are showing an immense drop-off in younger students’ reading and math skills, does not augur well for that.

I am not looking forward to Election Day, and I will not watch the returns, and Steve Kornacki, who probably sees himself as a “non-violent Republican,” telling everybody what a great day it was for Republicans. However, the early voting, as small as it is so far, does show some strong Democratic turnout. So there is hope; though keeping the House would be a real longshot, but holding the Senate is still possible. In any event. we all need to vote, we need to try to convince others that our side is far better, and should be voted for in every race, even far down the ticket, where Republicans use every advantage to control elections. And we cannot allow a group of evil, stupid, belligerent people who have no interest in anyone but themselves, to control everything.

Dark Fantasy

It’s the time of the year for Halloween stories. They are all over the movie stations. And I think that a couple of horror movies just came out.

I like good psychological horror stories, which are not really the ones that get made into films. I used to read a good deal of what the writers preferred to call Dark Fantasy; some very famous authors have tried their hand at that. I haven’t read those “Best Of” yearly collections for quite a while; my hunch is that the writing generally isn’t as good as it was, but maybe I am being unfair. I don’t think that the horror movies I see advertised are as good as some of the best ones I’ve seen.

Some people think that in threatening times, people don’t want to read or see fictional horror. Others say that they do, as a way of dealing with fears and anxieties. People differ in that, I think.

If I have the energy to copy down another long dark fantasy story, I will try to find one that I consider a classic, to post here. It took me a very long time to copy the brilliant Marjorie Bowen stories last year, though it was fun to do it. But right now, I am going to suggest an outline of a horror story.

There is a town, or a city, or maybe a whole country. They have fought off evil, in various incarnations. Maybe it was Jason. Or Freddy. Or maybe ghouls, who eat human flesh. Or zombies, who I think do the same, but I do not like zombie movies, so I am not sure. Or the walking dead, maybe they are another version of zombies. Flying purple people eaters I have never been discomfited by. Vampires have been so overdone, that it is rather tedious. Werewolves I feel a bit sorry for. Ghost stories can be the most frightening, because they were once people; or they may not be real, just emanations of a tortured psyche.

Well, whatever the evil that the townspeople thought that had defeated, it is back, as they knew it would be It has adapted, and become more strategical. Its goal is to somehow convince the citizens to let them in, let them rule. Why would the people do that? Well, they are never very happy, and so the life after the onslaught and defeat of the evil force, did not seem satisfying enough, so they want some kind of change. That is what evil exploits.

The wiser elders tell them that however frustrated they are with the day-to-day things, there are some aspects of their lives which are far better “But not enough!,” the people say So they are susceptible to being convinced that the evil may not have been so evil after all. At least there was some kind of order, and no hope; and after all, hope is a difficult thing, one can be disappointed, and frustrated; whereas if there is no hope, they know what to expect. And there are some people who actually like the evil entities, they admire their certainty their brutality, their absolute lack of compassion. Some of of them wish they could be like them, and they would like to become a zombie or a ghoul.

Maybe all the evil entities have joined together. They want the same thing, human flesh or souls, and they are absolutely relentless in purpose. If they work together, there will be enough for all of them, each according to his insatiable craving,

The evil forces are advancing. Many people do not try to stop them; some want to help them and let them in, thinking that maybe they will give them something in return, or that they can become one of them, and feast on humans in one way or another.

There are some of the more intelligent or aware people in the town, but they don’t warn the others. They actually seem to be trying to convince them that the people that they chose to run things are not doing a good enough job, and so the zombies and ghouls could be preferable; and besides if their leaders are not strong enough to stop them on their own, why should they try to help them do it?

They are marching, as these creatures do, slowly, steadily, destroying everyone in their path. In a very short time they will be at the walls. Can someone do something before it is too late?? If they get inside the walls, they will never get them out, it will not be like it was before. That actually gives some people a kind of strange comfort: no more fighting, no more worrying, just submission and certainty, no more ups and downs. Though some of them probably delude themselves into thinking that if they don’t like the evil entities any better than they did before, if they can remember back then, which most cannot, they can get rid of them again.

Tromp tromp tromp, and where are the sentinels, where are the warning alarms? Why are so many people just going to let this happen? Because they have been convinced that it is what they want, and so they will cheer the fiendish beings as they come on?

Well, that was an idea for a story, but I don’t think it would sell, and I would never want to see it on screen. Hollywood used to prefer a happy ending, And I certainly do.

Kudlow, Truss, Republicans, and the Media

Larry Kudlow has been an unyielding advocate of “Reaganomics,” also called “Supply-Side Economics,” which are actually Social Darwinist Economics. Kudlow would have fit perfectly in America’s Gilded Age, where a few elite people had astronomical wealth, while the rest of the populace worked sixty hours a week to keep their family subsisting in tenement slums, ten to a room; and being left to die on the freezing streets if they ever got injured at work, or lost their job for trying to improve work conditions.

Kudlow somehow manages to continue to resurface, to say the same things, like some drunken preacher in the Old West. Unlike those preachers, whom even the most ignorant townfolk finally figured out were ludicrous, Kudlow always has benefactors, the ultra-rich who own the media, and like to use him as one of their many mouthpieces.

Here is something that Kudlow said on Fox Business in late September, regarding Liz Truss and her being chosen by the British Conservative Party as their Prime Minister to replace the growingly unpopular Boris Johnson: “The new British prime minister Liz Truss has laid out a terrific supply-side economic growth plan, which looks a lot like the basic thrust of Keven McCarthy’s Commitment to America plan.”

Yes, another great victory for the economic social darwinists, just like Brexit (pushed by the same oligarchs), and before that, the Thatcherites And Kudlow was celebrating this as a prologue to the new Republican Congress he is expecting. Well, he still might get the latter, because the American voters too often do not see what is actually going on, and what is going to happen if Republicans get their hands on the economy again. But Liz Truss didn’t quite accomplish what he was exuberantly expecting. She resigned, in just about the shortest tenure for a British P.M in their history, amid public outrage at her plans and ideas.

She first pushed for $30 billion dollars worth of tax cuts, which she admitted would help the very wealthy the most, particularly since the poor pay little or no taxes. Nothing out of nothing equals nothing. The Guardian called this “Titanic economics, where the country is sinking, and only the rich get a life raft.”

Truss said that cutting taxes was better than “giving out handouts.” Various Tory MPs, have made comments about the biggest driver of inflation being the unemployed, the numbers of which group has actually gone down in the last decade. “Skivers vs. Strivers” was a term used by a former Conservative official, much like Reagan’s “welfare queens.”

This isn’t working right now; the British public was outraged at Truss’s arguing that the way to fix the economy was through tax cuts for the corporations and the wealthy; and even though she backtracked on some of it, she could not engender any confidence, so her party forced her out. They will now pick someone else as their system works; maybe Johnson will come back. I am certainly not well versed in the various players, but I would tend to think that Penny Mordaunt would be their best choice, she is quick, confident, and seems to have good credentials.

But the key for us in America, is that Kudlow’s economics has been largely discredited–except that the Republicans still believe in it; well, they probably mostly do not, but they want the money, and so they have to hide behind some theoretical facade.

Amazingly, the news today even on MSNBC, did not say anything about Truss’ failures, and how unpopular her programs were. The implication was somehow that this was bad for Biden, because both countries are suffering through inflation, and it all just shows how unhappy the people are. No mention of the fact, as gleefully emphasized by Kudlow three weeks ago, that her policies were completely inimical to those of Biden and his advisors, whose ideas derive from Keynes and Galbraith, as most Democrats’ economic ideas have. Grow the economy from the middle up. Provide good jobs, try to have a fair tax rate (Republicans’ relentless pressure from Reagan and continuing, have destroyed that). A stronger middle class, and a poorer class which has some hope, will buy things, thereby causing business to do well, and pay reasonable salaries

The rich people, the corporations, believe that they don’t need to do this. so they fight all of Democrats’ job-expanding, or infrastructure-improving programs. And now, as frightening as it is, they are actively pushing their plans to eliminate Social Security and Medicare. They won’t do it all at once, but that has always been their goal, from 1935, then 1965, and ever since then. They hadn’t been able to get away with it, but somehow their billionaire rulers and the media empires they have set up, have so perverted the dialogue, that polls show that more voters trust the Republicans on the economy, something that over a hundred years of economic history has completely belied.

It’s bad enough to have to watch this, but perhaps even worse to see what is now mostly a media which seems either to want the Republicans’ agenda to prevail, or has no understanding of economics and history, actually spin every story in favor of the Republicans. Truss. put in by the Conservative leadership to replace Johnson, whom they had put in before, is loudly applauded by Kudlow and the Fox Business mouthpieces, announces social darwinist policies, which lead to outrage in the populace, so that the Party has to demand that she resign, and this is bad for Biden?

What it should show, is that supply-side economics, with no regard for the needs of average citizens, is terribly unpopular when the people actually see it in practice. Britain is more liberal economically than the United States, but the Republican tax bill in 2017 was very unpopular even when proposed, but they passed it, anyway. Because they could. Because they are social darwinists who have contempt for everyone else, even their own loyalists.

Every single story right now is spun, even if in a gentle way, against the Democrats. Almost nothing is said about Republicans’ actual statements on the safety net. One of them has pushed for making the age of eligibility for Medicare 75, and then taking it away at 90. The cruelty of this is incredible, but that is what the Republican Party is. And the media, maybe because they make enough money to not have to worry about such things, doesn’t say a word. They also keep saying, “Gas prices rising,” when they are going down. All they have to do is look at some numbers, but that is too difficult?

I could just turn it off, and I will. But that does not solve the problem, which is that deliberately in some cases, foolishly or ignorantly in others, they are running a 24-hour commercial for Republicans. Do they think about what will happen to their viewership, if Republicans take over? Or do they think that “the battle”: “Republicans say that they are prepared to default on the nations’s debt, unless Biden makes major cuts to the safety net,” is going to compel people to watch? Not I, and I would guess, not many people who are not on the Radical Right.

The media has done this in almost every election. From Reagan’s’; to Dukakis being mocked; to Clinton being roasted about everything, including a land deal where they lost money; to Gore and Kerry being laughed at and derided; to the abhorrent treatment of Hillary, their framing always favors the Republicans. Except with Obama, for special reasons. and then maybe with Biden, because it was so obvious how horrible Trump was.

Otherwise, they are almost hopeless. I put up with some of it, but they have their fist on the scales, not just a thumb. Liz Truss resigning is a bad sign for Biden? Why? How? And we know that Larry Kudlow will be back again with his same spiel, about how much we need the social darwinist policies which he vehemently supports. Embarrassment or shame is not a feature of Republicans. Just hammer away, act as if you are always right. Just like those people in Trump’s cabal who said that he should just announce victory after the last election, no matter what the count was. I guess that Liz Truss did not have enough of those people, or maybe they are not quite as credulous or immune from facts over there.

The media has about a week left to change their narrative, but I would not expect that they will, even with “the hope that springs eternal in the human breast.” (Ernest Lawrence Thayer, “Casey at the Bat”).

Inflation, That’s The Name of Their Game

“They” is the Republicans and that large part of the media which is desperately invested in having the Republicans take back Congress. Their key word for this election is not “lawandorder” or “BostonHarbor” (I make these into one word for the pavlovian response they are meant to engender), or “crime” or “Socialism” or “emails.” It is “inflation.”

They have implanted this concept so effectively, that every one of the polls shows that this is the #1 issue on the voters’ minds. They use this term in all its intended ominousness; a creeping thing which will destroy the finances of the average American person or family.

Now, I do not intend to mock or minimize inflation as a concern, although it is interesting to contemplate that the millionaires who run the Republican Party scarcely have to worry about prices being up around 8% from last year. They’ve got tax write offs galore, many put into law in the 2017 bill which had their lobbyists running into the halls of Congress at the last minute, adding more of them, not even read by their Congresspeople who simply voted them on, as against the wishes of about 85% of the population, by polling.

But they are looking out for us! So they are telling everyone that inflation is terrible, and that they…well, they really have no plan to fix it, other than putting in more regressive tax cuts to favor the rich, and vastly reducing Social Security and Medicare. Because they have to do it! To save the economy!

Of course, the economy is actually rather strong. GDP is expected to come in at a rise of 2.3% for the last quarter, which as I recall, beat every single quarter of Trump’s’ presidency but one aberrational quarter. Also, the unemployment rate is 3.5%. The deficit (oh, how they used to worry about the deficit; they said that we must cut or eliminate Social Security and Medicare to reduce it. What a surprise, the same nostrum!), has been significantly reduced under Biden.

A note yesterday from J.P. Morgan says, “We see signs that moderating inflation is already underway, and that this cooling will become more prominent over time. Overall, we think that CPI inflation cools…to 6.8% by December, and then to 3.2% by September…” Moody’s analyst predicted inflation to be halved by around April of next year

If one happened to think that the analysts at J.P. Morgan and Moody’s are actually pro-business types, then there is good evidence that the inflation of 8.2% is transitory. Republicans don’t care, because all they want is to be able to scare the voters into letting them back into power. Then if inflation reduces next year, they can take credit for it!

Note that gas prices are going down again. And the New York Times, which has somehow become one of the Republican Party’s biggest cheerleaders, and which had as much to do with Trump winning in 2016 as almost any other entity (thanks for the six-year belated book, Maggie), has an article which says that with bulging inventories, retailers will be forced to slash prices. Prices largely went up because of supply chain disruptions; now they are eased, so prices go down, or at least unless the businesses want to make sure that the Republicans win, in which case they will even raise them, just for the headlines and the votes.

The reality is that the interest rate hikes, greater supply, and normal equalizing factors, will bring down inflation. Republicans’ goal is to keep people thinking that inflation will not subside, not until they gain power again, and can cut the taxes on the wealthy, and eliminate the safety net for the people who need it most. This makes no rational sense, but the media is happy to cover for them by never bringing this up.

Now, just consider, that if you are retired, and depend on Social Security, which was invented for that purpose, by FDR and his advisors in 1935, and which people have paid into each pay cycle for their entire working careers; and it is eliminated or vastly reduced in payments, you are far worse off than if you were getting your full check (the payments have been raised about 8% by this Administration for next year), and inflation stayed at 8%, which it will not. You will have no funds to buy anything!

And yet somehow the news about Republicans actually telling people that they are going after the safety net, does not get disseminated, so people simply do not understand. Some of this is the Democrats’ fault, of course, but where is the media? People are being… groomed? to vote for people who will take their one source of income away? It is virtually unfathomable, but that is the power of the Republican propaganda factory and its disseminators.

People continue to think that prices are soaring. No, they are not, they are 8.2% more than a year ago, and that has been true for the last three months. It is said that the average family of four spends $1000 a month on groceries. So if they spent $1000 last year, now they are spending $1082. Not ideal, but hardly terrible, given that wages rose an average of 5-6% last year, and Social Security was raised about 6%.

We don’t want ‘real wages” (wages adjusted for inflation) to go down, but this narrative that working class Americans are sinking under the weight of massive inflation, is simply wrong. And again, the key things are that inflation will substantially subside next year; and that if Republicans even just win the House, they will hold Social Security and Medicare as hostages to the threat of not raising the debt ceiling, seriously damaging the economy. That’s how they play the game (what to them is a game), and they will do it.

And also they figure that this will destroy the Biden presidency, and then they can take over everything. They have already signaled that “because there is a risk of recession,” they will greatly cut, or maybe even stop, aid to Ukraine. More bad things to come, they are salivating over them. Endless House hearings on Hunter Biden, the members of the January 6 Committee; the impeachment of President Biden, and anything else angry, spiteful, stupid, totalitarian people can think of.

Weeks away from it, unless Democrats can get voters to wake up to what is going on, and what the consequences of letting the Walking Dead into the house will be. The best I can do here is to write about it. Everyone has to try to do a little something toward averting this disaster, even if it is only voting, or telling a few acquaintances about the stakes. Even Michael Steele, former RNC Chairman, who is still a staunch ideological Republican of the Reagan type, thinks that it is beyond obvious as to what Republicans want to do, and how people are being so dumb as to seemingly be ready to let them do it.

The Republicans want power to control every aspect of your lives, and they want all of your money. The rest of it is just blather, gibberish, propaganda, the con man’s spiel. Do not fall for it! I read some encouraging thoughts from former Clinton Administration staffer Simon Rosenberg, who thinks that the outcome is not certain; one survey shows Democrats as possibly winning 214 House seats. We need at least 218, of course. But maybe some concerted efforts, and more effective messaging, can get us there?

We need a podcast

The fact that democracy is hanging by a thread and some voters are stumbling into giving up their rights to make any changes in the decades going forward should chill us all to the bone, especially for those of us who will be getting social security and Medicare at some point and don’t trust Republicans as far as we can throw them.

Voters should be terrified of that prospect, especially if they didn’t have the foresight to be born well off or manage to never encounter any employment misfortunes in their work lives.

But it’s like, “nope, we’re cool, let’s go with Throttle up!”

I don’t know why Democrats are not making this their “Message of the Year”. If it’s always the economy, stupid, then it’s going to be even more stupid when voters let the GOP gut Social Security and Medicare.

“Oh they wouldn’t do that. I’ve paid into it my entire life”. Are you sure about that? I mean, have you actually asked your congressperson and Senator? Get a commitment from them in their own blood?

Because after they’re voted in to office because the Saudis are messing with gas prices and strangling refinery output, they’re going to change the way elections are run and YOU WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE.

That’s what it’s like in Hungary and other strongman run countries. Once you let the vampires in, they screw around with the judiciary and elections and YOU CAN NEVER VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE AGAIN.

When they have everything set up the way they like it, they will stuff a sock in the mouths of the media and tinker with your retirement because they can and promises they made mean nothing because Republicans don’t even have a party platform listing their priorities and sacred cows and once they are in YOU CAN NEVER VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE AGAIN.

Want to know why gas prices are so high? It’s because the oil industry donors to the GOP are putting the squeeze on the American consumer. When they get what they want, which is to get all their election denier candidate in office, they’ll take their knees off our throats at the gas pumps. Or not. Once they’re in, they can charge whatever the market will bear and American consumers will pay for it because where else are you going to go and YOU CAN NEVER VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE AGAIN.

Do you get where I’m going with this? The republicans have put forward a lot of candidates that are hell bent on changing the way elections are run. They are broadcasting that far and wide. They aren’t trying to hide it.

Now, the typical Republican voter may think that’s great as long as the disgusting liberal Democrats can’t take over because they would almost vote for Atilla the Hun over a liberal Democrat, which is pretty dumb if you ask me because Atilla was a tyrant. But they would take the tyrant option over voting for a Democrat or voting at all in the future.

Ang verily I say unto you, we need a podcast to scare the bejesus out of those voters because WE see what’s headed their way and WE know that they should be terrified of letting election deniers into office because once they’re in, they’re going to do whatever the F{#^ they want and YOU CAN NEVER VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE AGAIN.

The Democratic Party has done a piss poor job of getting that message out. So we need to do it.

Who’s with me? I hate talking to myself.

Trump, and “Jewish People in America Who Don’t Send Him Enough Money and Support.”

It is astounding that he would say this, but it is Donald Trump, and he says whatever he wants, and he has a cult and a cabal behind him to back him up. And he is malicious, and revels in his potential power to threaten and endanger whomever he feels like attacking.

I am assuming that you have read this comment that Trump made in a post yesterday. I really hate to type it out, but I am hoping that everyone who is Jewish, or who personally or generally values Jewish values and tradition, sees this, and vows never to support, help, or vote for Trump or anyone he endorses, or who is a political figure or corporate official who supports him in any way.

Here is what he wrote: “No President has ever done more for Israel than I have. Somewhat surprisingly, however, our wonderful Evangelicals are far more appreciative of this than the people of the Jewish faith, especially those living in the U.S. Those living in Israel, though, are a different story–Highest approval rating in the world, could easily be P.M.! U.S. Jews need to get their act together, and appreciate what they have in Israel–Before it is too late!”

Do we need to deconstruct that? First, realize that although Trump is essentially insane, he has a kind of cunning which means that everything he says in print or aloud has a purpose behind it. He wants to tell his followers, and the media which reports everything he says, that Jewish people who live in the United States need to get their act together, before it is too late. Too late for what? To save themselves from another Holocaust, one that is going to be engineered here, unless the Jews do what he wants, which is to send him more money to campaign, and to disseminate his pathological statements?

The Jews are ungrateful. The Jews don’t support him like his wonderful Evangelicals. The Evangelicals are superior to the Jews living in America. The ones living in Israel love him, he says, he is the most popular person there. Maybe the Jews here should go there, and leave this country to him and the Evangelicals.

Did Trump actually say all of this? Not literally, but he never does, that is his diabolical technique. What he has done, is to have marginalized Jewish people, as if they are a distinct group, identifiable (how would he know what this or that Jewish person does?), and not loyal Americans. They had better get their act together (obey him, do what he tells them to do?), or…his friends in Saudi Arabia will try to destroy Israel? Or the Jewish people here are going to be deserving of all the virulent anti-semitism which more and more of his followers are spewing on various sites and in writings and statements?

One thing about Jewish people in this country, and in every part of the word except Israel, is that virtually all of them carry some fear of being singled out; not necessarily them, specifically, but just the general segmentation of them, the kind of thing that happened in Europe over centuries, and then culminated in the incomprehensible horrors of the 1930’s and 1940’s.

I fairly recently saw a pretty good older film, “Hotel Berlin,” which was made in 1945. It is imaginary, but based on fact. Germany is losing the war, and most of those in high places realize it, but not all .There is this hotel in Berlin where they congregate, and some plan their escape from what will be the end of the Nazi regime, to try to keep it alive in other countries. One of them talks about going to America, and pretending that they are loyal citizens, while planning a Fourth Reich.

These people are not now alive, but their descendants are. Fred Trump was a Nazi sympathizer. And there are people whose ancestors were not literal Nazis, but who admired them, loved the idea of brute power, and had a hatred of Jews, Blacks, Latinos, Gays, intellectuals, and all the other groups which the Nazis wanted to wipe out, and would have, had they won. And their descendants, literal and figurative, have not given up on that.

Anti-semitism is growing in America; it was always here, and now it is being fed by Trump; and its acolytes are becoming emboldened. They chanted, “Jews will not replace us,” at the Nazi riot and murder in Charlottesville. I didn’t know what they were talking about, until I read about the insane “replacement theory,” which is all over Europe, and various corners here, and is being propagated by Tucker Carlson on Fox Network. A gunman went into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where they were worshipping, and shot and killed eleven people.

And many of Trump’s followers wait for signals from him, just like when he told them to go to Washington, and “It will be wild,” and then to march toward the building and “fight like hell.” If Trump marginalizes Jewish people, says that they are not properly grateful to him, what will these followers take from that?

Judaism is a religion; some say that it is also historically an ethnicity; but no one is forced to practice or even identify with the religion, though most are very proud to do it. I think of various film stars who converted to Judaism: Elizabeth Taylor, Eleanor Parker, Norma Shearer, Marilyn Monroe, Sammy Davis Jr. They were drawn to some version of Judaism, not necessarily the same one. There are Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews, and Reform Jews. There are Jewish people of Ashkenazi or Sephardic heritage. They are diverse in backgrounds and viewpoints, though Judaism does generally embody a concern for one’s fellow humans, and a quest for justice and fairness.

Trump tosses all the Jewish people in America into one group. He says that they are ungrateful, they do not support him like the Evangelicals They had better get their act together before it is too late. This, like virtually everything Trump says, can be read as the rantings of a crackpot egomaniac; or seen as a deliberate attempt to inflame hatred and ostracism against any person or group whom he is angry at for not worshipping him sufficiently. Read it as you will, but never forget the Confession, later made into a poem, by the German Lutheran pastor and theologian Martin Niemoller. It starts, “First they came for the Socialists…”

The Lying Started BEFORE the Election

It remains to be seen whether yesterday’s January 6 hearing will shake any Republican voters out of their stupor about voting for any election deniers. One thing is certain though. The lying about who won the election started before the election ever happened. It was never Trump’s intention to concede.

No, Steve Bannon and Roger Stone were not kidding. Before we forget, it was Sean Hannity who texted Trump on January 6 with a “What are you doing??? You’re ruining everything. Go back to the plan to saturate the media with the “election integrity” narrative.” And that’s exactly what happened. Every Trump approved candidate running today bases their campaign on the lie that the 2020 election was stolen and that drastic measures must be taken to ensure that the people that get elected will make sure that the votes are counted properly next time. That is, voters don’t know what’s good for them so Republican legislatures and secretaries of state will “correct” the misguided elections by the little folk by refusing to certify election results and choosing new slates of electors.

What could possibly go wrong?

I very much appreciated Liz Cheney’s acknowledgement that what is at issue here was that millions of legally cast ballots would be thrown out if Trump had succeeded. One of those ballots was mine, cast here in Pennsylvania via a mail in ballot that I personally delivered to an election official almost two years ago to this day. That’s right. Mine was an early vote by mail. All perfectly legal. But my ballot wasn’t actually counted until late in the evening on Election Day. That was by design of our Republican dominated state legislature who wanted to make sure that the mail in ballots looked sketchy. Liz Cheney stood up for me and I’ll never forget it. It makes my eyes water right now as I type this. Her policy positions might be loathesome but when it comes down to it, she is defending my vote and that is the most important thing for any citizen.

One of the things that hasn’t gotten a lot of attention yet is that Trump tried to pull our troops out of Afghanistan and Somalia before January 15. He signed an executive order to do it but Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, resisted. Esper was fired and replaced by Chris Miller but by that time, the idea was scrapped. Biden gets the shitty end of that stick for pulling out of Afghanistan quickly as the its government fell. And why did it fall? This nugget from WaPo explains:

The Trump administration, in February 2020, signed a deal with the Taliban agreeing to remove all U.S. troops by spring 2021. It included a handful of concessions, including that the Taliban would hold fire against U.S. troops as they departed. The Afghan government was cut out of those discussions.

That’s right. Trump left the Afghanistan government out of the discussions. Is it any wonder that the government collapsed as the Taliban quickly took over the country? What kind of half assed agreement was this anyway? What did we or the women of Afghanistan get for Trump’s artful deal?

We don’t know if there will ever be another hearing. The committee left a lot of mysteries on the table. For instance, how involved was Ginni Thomas? The Secret Service was privvy to some of the plans for January 6. How much did they actually know and why was there such a massive intelligence failure? How complicit were members of the FBI? What role would the military play if Nancy hadn’t gotten the band back together by the evening of the 6th?

By the way, did anyone notice the contrast in the behavior of the leaders of the House? Kevin McCarthy was on the phone to Trump, begging and pleading with him to call off his dogs because his life was in danger. Nancy, on the other hand, was coordinating with the Department of Defense, Department of Justice, the Governors of Virginia and Maryland and suggesting that the national guard make their plans on the way to deployment. But what was foremost in her mind??

Ensuring that the business of certifying the election get back on schedule as quickly as possible and that Americans were assured that our government was still secure. Nerves of steel. Seriously. It’s hard to find more macho in Washington than what Nancy displayed that day, all without swearing.

The thing I noticed at once is that Nancy is a divergent thinker. She expanded her options and methodically ticked them off. And Lordy, Lordy, she collaborated. She talked to Pence to make sure he was ready to do his job, she talked to McConnell to see that the senate had a plan to deal with state objections, she got Schumer and Steny Hoyer in her huddle. They gave her ideas. She made the plays. It’s a case study in crisis management. She *was* the president while Trump sat in his ketchup stained dining room talking McCarthy into jumping off the ledge.

There will be a lot of Nancy haters. You can’t change some people’s minds no matter the evidence. But we owe her a debt of gratitude that she was able to keep calm, keep her eyes on the prize and held the government together from her secure location somewhere on Capitol Hill.

Und now ve vait. There’s less than a month until the election. There is plenty of time to ask MAGA Republican candidates like Doug Mastriano and Kerry Lake and Tudor Dixon if they still believe the election was stolen. There’s time to ask them if they have made any agreements with Trump and his allies to play a role in pulling their levers of power for the Republican presidential candidate in 2024 even if he loses their state. There’s time to pin down federal and state legislators with the same questions. Have they made any agreements with the MAGA Republicans to interfere with the certification of electors, pass new obstacles to voting? Are any of the ones currently in office and running in 2022 subject to indictment for seditious conspiracy? These are good questions that John Fetterman and Josh Shapiro should bring up in their upcoming debates with their Republican opponents. That is, if Mastriano shows up and Dr. Oz can beat the traffic on I-95 to get from Jersey to PA on time.

Will Trump comply with the subpoena to testify under oath before Congress? It would be tempting for him. Imagine the ratings. The whole country would be riveted and he’d have yet another chance to air his grievances. Better do it fast, Donald. There’s no guarantee that the committee will survive the election. All we’ll have are expectations that you’ll be indicted for one of the myriad crimes you’ve committed. It might be your last hurrah.

We won’t hold our breath.