Photos had power

I was thirteen and vividly remember the news coverage and especially the photos in this issue of Life. I also vividly remember the massacre at Jackson State about the same day but alas, there were no skilled photographers on hand and it slipped from the public memory quickly as a lot of the massacres in the South did, and still do. But Kent State was beautifully photographed in a time when photographs had an impact that they don’t today. We remember those times and we hear the music, the famous voices, and the photographs. It was a simpler time. And if you spend a minute looking at the details of this cover photo—this issue of Life was on coffee tables and supermarket stands all across America that week—you can feel the emotions welling up, the outrage and sadness, and get a hint of what so many Americans felt seeing this in 1970. Photos had power. Nowadays not so much. Digital cameras can take so many photographs they overwhelm us. Few stick in our mind. There are no school massacre photos that everyone vividly remembers. The details of the dead students just become statistics, numbers. The photos of Kent State and My Lai are iconic. If only there were photos of the victims of school shootings and mass murders that were iconic now. They’d have political power. And we’d have much stricter laws on assault weapons, not just thoughts and prayers.

Last rites.

There is no easy out of this except by winning more seats in Congress.

All of sudden abortion law in this country since the Supreme Court threw out its Roe v Wade ruling, is no longer a federal issue at all. It is entirely a matter for the states. Unless Congress were to codify those protections into federal law, there is not a damn thing President Biden can do. There is no action he can take. He can’t issue any blanket pardons. He can’t draw up and sign an executive order. I’m seeing a lot of people on Facebook and Twitter who think that Biden can save the day here, but he cannot, not on this. There is no easy way out of this except by winning more seats in congress, enough to get legislation passed. it’s not up to Joe Biden, it’s up to the voters in districts currently held by Republicans. Thus November we need to win several of those seats for this to change, while holding onto the seats we have. That is the only way to change this. As it is, yesterday’s decision stands.

Republicans for years now have been outsmarting Democrats on this stuff, and you can blame us entirely for somehow winding up with more votes but less power. We handed most of the (small d) democratic process over to them, from local government on up. We couldn’t be bothered. They made most of their gains in the 80s and 90s when so many of our people could scarcely be bothered to vote. We’ve been paying for it since. We won the presidential elections—two of the last three times this century that they won the electoral college they lost the popular vote—we win the House, we even win the Senate, but look at the state races. We’ve gotten creamed. Is it any wonder that the abortion laws in a majority of states could have been written the Federalist Society? We handed them the keys to the state governments, from the governor’s office to the legislatures.

Meanwhile, they’ve been following the same gameplan they’ve been working with since the Goldwater campaign in 1964. Seriously, this strategy first came together in 1964. It didn’t work then, but by 1980 it won the White House and began to win statehouse after statehouse. Meanwhile, our side’s voting numbers in the 80s and 90s plummeted. We’re looking at the results now of 58 years of a basically continuous conservative game plan. They certainly never kept it a secret. They even brag about it. But have we caught on yet? Is it any wonder they think we’re stupid? Are we?

Not saying it’s permanent. Millennials et al are voting in higher numbers than anybody their age has in decades, and are decidedly not voting Republican. Come back in twenty years and see what they’ve done. We boomers will nearly all be gone by then, thankfully. We talk Woodstock but we voted Trump. I can’t explain that, and I was born right smack in the middle—1957—of the post war baby boom.

Remember when Reagan said ketchup was a vegetable?

Actually Ronald Reagan didn’t say ketchup was a vegetable. And it wasn’t Reagan that didn’t say ketchup was a vegetable, anyway. It was his Department of Agriculture that didn’t say it. The ketchup bit was a sarcastic comment in I believe a Newsweek op ed that then did the 1981 analog equivalent of going viral, that is, it made it into a Johnny Carson monologue. So let’s give the Reagan Administration credit where credit is due. It never said ketchup was a vegetable. It said relish was a vegetable.

Well, it said pickle relish was a vegetable. Some line in their recommended school nutrition guidelines about a small hamburger with pickle relish being a nutritious school lunch. That little spoon full of ground up pickles being called a vegetable instantaneously became emblematic of the Reagan Administration’s approach to education and children. Or would have, except that Johnny Carson didn’t say relish. He said ketchup, which requires a little exegesis. Pickles, of course, are funny, but ground up into relish they aren’t funny at all. And even though tomatoes in themselves aren’t funny (well, unthrown tomatoes aren’t funny), ketchup is funny, through some ill understood compound of funny consonants developed in a secret laboratory somewhere in the Catskills. Hence Johnny Carson went with ketchup. He did a good Ronald Reagan impression, too, so saying ketchup in a Reagan voice must have locked it in with the tens of millions of Americans who watched his monologue every night. The fact that the condiment that turned magically into a vegetable through bureaucratic alchemy was actually pickle relish faded into the footnotes. Ketchup instantly became a Republican vegetable, pickles remained something that Democrats ate with their deli sandwich, and pickle relish, though the actual Republican vegetable, remains uncommitted, as no one called it pickle relish. They still don’t. You can put it in your hot dog without feeling the least bit political.

The Reagan Administration’s proposed USDA school nutrition guidelines that turned those ground up pickles into a vegetable were quickly withdrawn and resubmitted with no mention of pickle relish whatsoever. But that’s all irrelevant anyway, because we’d all have sworn up and down that Reagan said ketchup was a vegetable and ketchup is funnier. Nobody makes pickle relish jokes. It’s just something you put on a hot dog, like mustard, which isn’t particularly funny either. Condiment humor is a limited shtick.

If only we misremembered Reagan saying catsup is a vegetable. Catsup is really funny, funnier even then ketchup. Tomato sauce isn’t funny. Tomahto sauce is funny, though, except on kippers. That’s just disgusting.

Anyway, that’s how politics works.

About all those missing words….

Sorry there’s no more of the great gobs of prose I used to spill out all over these blogs. People have been asking. Alas, epilepsy was really fucking with the long essays, and I finally had to stop. Had to stop working too. Had to stop just about everything. It’s been a couple years now and the synapses have calmed down nicely. They seem to like being bored. Me not so much at first but I’ve adapted. So I write tiny little essays now, scarcely ever longer than a paragraph. Hence all this tinyness where vastness used to be. Little gems, I tell myself. The actual gemage might be debatable, but they’re my blogs. You can think everything you do is art if no one is editing you.

Anyway, thanks for reading and feel free to complain.


Trump and Twitter

On January 21 Twitter can ban private citizen Donald Trump for chronically and flagrantly violating its clearly stated rules, and will probably do so. The only reason Twitter has not done so is that Trump is the President of the United States. But suddenly he’ll be just another foul mouthed, lying schmuck. They’ll warn him to cool it. He’ll dare them to do something about it. They will. And why not, there will be no downside to banning him for life. Just think of all the howls of misspelled protest we’ll never hear. The threats and rage and insults with nowhere to put them. The great big empty space where Donald Trump used to be. Imagine the silence.

In case you were wondering how Donald Trump became president.


Just had a surreal debate with somebody who was incredibly bitter about Hillary losing, especially as she won the popular vote and Obama lost the popular vote in 2012. I said Obama did not lose the popular vote in 2012. He said he did. I said he didn’t and told him by how much Obama had beat Romney (just under 4%). He insisted Obama had lost the popular vote. I showed him a link to the official election results. He said so you are saying ABC was wrong and posted an article from today. In it, Donald Trump is insisting in a 2012 tweet that Romney won the popular vote. Trump was lying, of course, but no matter. This young progressive Democrat believed Donald Trump over, well, reality. In case you were wondering how Donald Trump became president.

The first five hundred pieces of Mike Bloomberg mail

I admit it, I voted for Mike Bloomberg. I think it was the last one hundred mailings that won me over. Not that I read any of them. But there were so many it just had to be presidential. Liz Warren only sent a few, which I read. She had my vote for the first five hundred pieces of Bloomberg mail. But then came that last weekend before Election Day. I forgot to get the mail on Friday and then on Saturday the mail box burst with astonishing violence. Maybe you saw it in the news. All the neighbors thought it was the coronavirus. But no, it was Mike Bloomberg mailers. They never did find the mail delivery person. Somewhere under all those pictures of Mike Bloomberg I suppose. But that was enough for me. I waited in line for a day and a half and voted for Mike Bloomberg. But next time I’m voting for Phil Swift. A little dab of FlexSeal will fix anything.

Bernie’s disastrous showing in Vermont

If you really want to see the extent of Bernie’s problem this year, compare the results of the Vermont primary yesterday with those of 2016. Not the exit poll data, but the votes themselves. He won with 85% last time, or just shy of 116,000 votes. Yesterday, with 16,000 more Vermonters coming to the polls than in 2016, he got 50%, about 80,000 votes. In a four year span Bernie lost over 35,000 voters in his home state. That is, one of every three Bernie Sanders for president supporters in Vermont in 2016 voted for someone else this time. And that in a state that is 94% white and 1.3% African-American.

You can’t lose a full third of your base in your base and expect to win the presidency.