And now for something totally non-political

As some of you know, I spent a good chunk of the time between Labor Day and Thanksgiving Day exercising long-dormant brain cells while taking classes to get my Merchant Mariner Credentials. Well, all that hard work (and yes, it was hard work) has come to fruition. Look what I received in the mail today!

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It’s just like another passport.

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Yeah, I know I look like crap, but isn’t that traditional for passport photos?

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And no, I don’t know what a wiper is. But I do seem to be missing one of the credentials I applied for, a Near Coastal OUPV endorsement. (That endorsement would allow me to do coastal boat deliveries or charters within 100 miles of shore.) I emailed the Coast Guard tonight and will follow up by phone tomorrow. The Coast Guard is actually one of the easiest Federal agencies I’ve ever dealt with (really!). Live bodies answer the phone, and they deal with whatever issue in a timely manner.

And no, I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do with this credential. It would allow me to do boat deliveries; work on commercial boats; take people out on Rinpoche and charge them for the service, or even drive The Duck. Who knows? I don’t want a full-time job, but an interesting part-time job on the water could be fun.

Watch this space.

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What will it take?

What will it take for Trumpsters to turn on their man? Will it take 20,000,000 people to lose their health insurance when Obamacare is repealed? What about the 750,000 Dreamers who came here illegally as kids? Will anyone say anything when these folks are rounded up and deported? Will anyone say anything if 3,000,000 Muslims in the USA are forced to register with some new department of Muslim affairs? Will it be the 56,000,000 people who see their Social Security benefits cut? Will it be the 54,000,000 people on Medicare who will receive a voucher and are told to get their own private insurance?

What happens if our new buddies in Russia invade the Eastern Ukraine? What happens if Russia invades the Baltic States? What happens if the evidence of Russian hacking is incontrovertible? When will people realize the Russians are not our friends? What happens if we have a war with China over Taiwan or the South China Sea? Will the millions of iphone users rise up?

What happens when it is absolutely clear that Trump and his children are selling access and favors and taking outright bribes? (They already are!) How about Trump enriching himself with his policies? He appointed a hedge fund manager as Treasury Secretary. That same guy Mnuchin is betting on the privatization of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and he went on TV to say so. Stocks in those companies doubled overnight, and Trump is invested in this guy’s funds, so he’s already made millions personally. How about that whacko National Security advisor Flynn? He’s the same guy who saw signs in Arabic in Texas on drug smuggling routes. When is he going to whisper in Trump’s ear and start a war?

What happens when the stock market bubble bursts and we have a real recession?

It’s pretty obvious that the Republicans in power aren’t going to reign him in. They’re too busy kissing his ass. It’s going to take the people to do it, but unfortunately, Americans will likely get a good fucking before they come to their senses.

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In case you’re wondering what I’ve been up to…

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It has not been fun. Two weeks ago I had a major operation to install a bunch of rods and screws in my back to fuse the vertebrae L2-L5. The discs between the vertebrae were removed and replaced with spacers, and the rods and screws hold it all together until the bone grows in between the vertebrae, fusing the discs. The rods and screws are now a permanent fixture. The purpose is to fix the scoliosis and stenosis I’ve been suffering from for the last year and a half. This has all been quite annoying. Previously, I had rarely suffered from any back problems, and I was proud of the fact that I could sling around bags of cement or drag snowmobiles out of deep snow without worry. No more. The theory is that I’ve probably had the scoliosis since adolescence, but it never caused any problems until arthritis reared its ugly head and caused stenosis. The spacers and screws and rods are meant to straighten out the spine, making more room for the spinal cord, thus alleviating the stenosis.

The operation looks like a success so far, but it will be many months before I know for sure. One thing I was not prepared for was the pain after the operation. I had kidney stones a year and a half ago; total knee replacement five years ago; and had my face re-arranged 30 years ago, so I am familiar with pain. Nothing comes close to the pain and discomfort I felt for the week after this operation. For the first several days, the anesthetic and opiates combined to give me painful hiccups. I couldn’t eat, and I couldn’t sleep. I changed from oxcycodone to hydrocodone and got a half-day’s relief until the hiccups started again. Then I went cold turkey off the opiates for a few days, and used marijuana e-cigs high in CBD to try and manage the pain. It worked well enough to make things tolerable, but the e-cigs were so harsh that I had a hard time inhaling enough vapor to be effective. Then I switched to Tramadol, an opiate I’d never heard of. Megan and I called it the death drug because one of the side effects is death. Another is suicidal thoughts. Fortunately, neither of those occurred, and the hiccups did not return.

So now I’m up and around, and eating and sleeping reasonably well. I’m still sore, but at least now the pain is not like knives in my back. It’s more like I’ve been run over by a bus.

I’ll keep you posted.

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The GOP dog finally caught the car

What do they do with it now? Repeal Obamacare of course. Replace? That’s a different matter. Setting up a free market system of insurance to cover people with pre-existing conditions without a mandate of some kind sort and federal subsidies is impossible. It doesn’t matter how many policies can be sold across state lines. Cut taxes? Of course. Increase military spending? Yup. As if we weren’t in enough wars as it is. What about the deficit? As Dick Cheney said years ago, “Deficits don’t matter.” Make Medicare a voucher system? Great idea. Wait till a 64-year-old like me tries to buy health insurance with whatever voucher the Feds decide to give me. Privatize Social Security. Yessiree! Great idea until the next market crash a la 2008. Defund the EPA? So we can have air like China and water like Flint? Cutting taxes and regulations will unleash growth unlike any ever seen, and everyone will be rich. Where has that ever happened? Oh, I forgot, facts don’t matter any more. With the death of mainstream media, we’re left with the Breitbarts of the world with the head of Breitbart in the White House. But rebuilding our infrastructure is good, right? Yeah, right. Read Trump’s proposals for private-public partnerships. They consist of public funding for roads and bridges with the revenue streams, i.e. tolls, going to private enterprise. Where is the revenue stream for a new water or sewer system? Oh, we’ll privatize that too.

But Trump will quit or be indicted for his dealings. Good news, right? Wrong. President Pence will be worse. Trump has no ideology. Pence is a true believer.

We’re fucked.

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Liberal introspection, or lack thereof

There is lots of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth out there in liberal-land about Trump’s win. I’ve done my share too. In fact, I had to go to the dentist yesterday to fix a tooth I broke on election night. True story.

But what’s starting to annoy me is the number of people, especially women, who blame Hillary’s loss on her gender. That’s way too simple and ignores the very real alienation of a big swath of the electorate. Bernie tapped into that alienation in a way that Hillary couldn’t touch, and it’s not because we’re all sexist assholes. Gender aside, Hillary is the epitome of all that’s wrong with the liberal elite. The Martha’s Vineyard elite; the Davos elite; the Social Justice Warrior elite; the Goldman-Sachs elite; the college-educated smug condescending elite. Democrats used to be the party of the working class and social justice. What the hell happened? How did the Democrats allow themselves to lose touch with what traditionally has been their core constituency? They laughed at Reagan when he was nominated almost 36 years ago. They lost, and even all these years later, they still haven’t learned the lesson.

Hillary lost, and it wasn’t because of her crappy pantsuits.

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For what it’s worth

Not much I’d say, but here’s my election forecast:

Clinton will win by more than most of the pundits and analysts are projecting. One TV talking head made a good point when the panel was discussing Trump’s hidden vote. He said most Trump voters are loud and proud, and if anything there is a hidden Clinton vote. I think┬áhe is right and she’ll win around 340 electoral college votes.

The Senate is essentially a coin flip. I’ll go with those odds and call a 50-50 tie, with the controlling vote going to VP Tim Kaine.

I think this is the least-bad outcome, but as I said in a previous post, we’re all screwed.

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The End is Near

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When Ford replaced Nixon as President he said, “Our long national nightmare is over.”

Next Tuesday, I don’t think we’ll be saying that. Along with every national election prediction organization (FiveThirtyEight, The Upshot, Princeton Election Consortium, Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Moody’s Analytics, and a few more), I think Hillary will win. They all seem to be predicting around 300 Electoral College votes. They can’t all be wrong, can they? But even if she wins, it will be a huge mess, because control of the Senate is far from certain. All of the above organizations are predicting Democratic control of the Senate, but the odds are a lot closer. If Hillary wins, but the Democrats don’t win control of the Senate, we will experience the gridlock to end all gridlock. It will make the relationship between Obama and the current Congress seem like a honeymoon. If Democrats take control of the Senate, it will only be marginally better. Things like Supreme Court Justices will be nominated and confirmed, but not much else will happen with the House firmly in Republican hands. And even if Democrats win the Senate, they’ll almost certainly lose it again in 2018. With all the talk of the disarray in the GOP, people seem to have forgotten that the Democrats aren’t in a whole lot better shape. They are a tired old party of the Establishment that has contributed a lot to the mess we’re in. Bernie at least brought in some new blood and enthusiasm, but that enthusiasm isn’t there for Hillary and the old guard.

So in the end we’ll not only be dead, but before we die we’ll all be fucked.

Maybe it’s time for some Yeats.

THE SECOND COMING

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

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