Nicely Done, 84

How about a shout-out to my fellow Westsylvanians, 84 Lumber, whose censored commercial is generating a ton of commendations and criticism this morning along with those other legendary political dissidents, Coca-Cola and Anheiser-Busch. I mean, who do they think they are? McDonalds?

84 Lumber had been getting some press in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl about their mysterious ad buy. Specifically, why is a regional lumber company from Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands spending millions and millions of dollars on the most expensive media night of the year. Sources at 84 would only say that they were looking to recruit a new generation of young, career-minded, not-necessarily-college-educated employees looking to exchange hard work for stability in the new economy. So, yeah, that ad was about attracting job applicants, not about selling you nails, shingles, and plywood. They wanted to get the word out, and I think they succeeded with an ad that, with few words and in just a few minutes, sums up the best about America–and the worst of our recent, wreckless indulgence in whining nationalism.

The predictable flurry of hyperventilating anti-immigrant verbal diarrhea immediately began splashing across the internet following the release of this video, “…but, but, but it they’re illegal and illegal is illegal and my grandparents had papers and went through Ellis Island and besides they’re white and learned English and…” you know the spiel.

Do I need to point out that the immigrant in the video doesn’t climb the fence or burrow beneath it? She finds a gate–that’s symbolism, folks–even Donald Trump said his shiny wall would have a lovely gate. The best gate, in fact. Better than anyone else’s gate (and he’s the only one who can build it.)  So, yeah. There’s no ass-covering here–the huffing and posting is garden variety xenophobia–and to hell with that. The symbolism that moves me–almost to tears, and in love of this screwed up country of ours–is at the very end when we see what the little girl has been doing with all the scraps of plastic trash and disgarded material she’s gathered through her voyage. Because yeah, I want that kid as my neighbor–not some melanin-obsessed speak-english-only redneck hump shouting just because he likes the sound of his own voice.

 

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On Politics, A Mini-Manifesto

I tried for a long time to keep politics out of this blog. Okay, for a little while–but it seemed like forever. I had this idealistic dream that I could keep my mouth shut and john-birch-society-american-flag-hero-einoffensively skip through the ether, getting along with everyone in a post Rodney King dream world of sunshine, lollipops, and glistening dew on early morning spiderwebs.

That went down the crapper quickly enough, because the world is full of rednecks who think America reached its pinnacle in the moments following confederate succession, who deny racism, who think that women’s bodies autonomously reject pregnancy in the event of rape, and Presidents–a fucking President, man–who brags about his history of sexual assault with a wink and a grin that says, well, you know, those chicks were asking for it.

I never liked being called a liberal. I haven’t much stomach for the sensitivity that has become a source of both internal pride and external derision for the moral left. Our unofficial family slogan here in chez junk is “suck it up, Lizzie.” There’s a story behind that–no one here is named Lizzie–but it has been a pretty effective way to raise children. Knocked down? You get back up, wipe your tears on your sleeve, and get on with it. I appreciate the importance that the left has placed on identity, on saying the right words at the right time, on being first and foremost respectful–but it is wearying, too, and it has become clear that in focusing so much energy on not being offensive (which is different from simply being respectful) we have concentrated too much on matters of individuality and too little on those that effect the community at large.

In a manner of speaking, those are peacetime concerns. We are presently at war against a despot who would wipe his fat, pimply ass with the constitution while scheduling prime time melodramas to air him bloviating from that same wrinkled, cellulite-curdled butt. Also against us are the enablers–rational and possibly even generally good men and women who know better–who goddamn know we can be so much better–yet who sit quietly by out of loyalty to party and love of power, hitching their carts to a twitter-mad, id-obsessed madman suffering from classical Textbook narcissistic personality disorder.

I’ve been a Democrat largely because the Pennsylvania electoral system is set up so that independent and third-party voters can’t vote in primaries, which means exclusion from local elections such as town council, school board of directors, and row offices. I’ve stayed screenshot_6a Democrat because however bad it gets, Republicans also seem to be worse. (You think Anthony “Look At My” Weiner isn’t thrilled about Trump’s romp through out ugly political landscape?) Democrats also seem to have better taste in beer.

Some of this is by default. For example: I align with pro-choice and environmentalist positions because, let’s be honest, I love trees, mountains, and untrammeled desert while I don’t particularly care for people and feel very strongly that there should be less of them–and it’s an either/or thing with birth control: teach kids about effective birth control and make it readily available or stick with all this ridiculous abstinence rhetoric and keep the abortion rates where they are.

I may do a position paper sometime in the future, when I’m feeling feisty, but I’m here now to declare–unless you missed it–that for now and for the immediate future, Old Road Apples will be a Voice of The Resistance; not THE voice of the resistance by any stretch of the imagination, but one voice among many, however ragged, second-hand, exhausted, or shrill. It will remain so until the current threat is quashed, until the Constitution is again revered, and until we have leaders who put justice, reason, sanity, and morality ahead of party allegiances and private aspirations.

If you’re a conservative and thrilled with the way things are going, I urge you to stick around, engage me, and make an effort to explain to me why? Because I clearly don’t understand. If you agree with me, in whole or in part, I need to hear from you as well. It is good to know we’re not alone, as we teeter on the brink of destruction. Let’s get this fixed so I can get back to being my old self–it’s far more rewarding to mock liberalism than it is to carry its torch, but as the old saying goes, the enemy of my enemy….

 

 

 

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Resistance Hero: Beth Fukumoto

Hawaii’s Republicans responded on one of their leaders participating in the recent Women’s March in Honolulu by stripping one of their best and brightest, State House of Representatives Minority Leader Beth Fukumoto. Fukumoto, who maintains her seat, also critcized President Donald Trump during the March–an action that “party-first” Republicians just could not abide.

fukumotoThe 33-year old Fukumoto was confronted by members of the Republican Caucus who demanded that she commit to not criticizing Donald Trump under any circumstances. When she refused, she was ousted from her leadership role.

“What ended up being very problematic for me was that my caucus and others said, ‘If you want to stay in leadership, then you need to make a commitment to not criticize the president for the remainder of his term,'” Fukumoto said. “And with what we’ve been seeing in the news with the different executive orders coming out every day, I didn’t believe I could make that commitment.”

During an ensuing House floor session, she stated. “I believe it is our job as Americans and as leaders of this body to criticize power when power is wrong,”

In the aftermath, Fukumoto is considering joining the Democratic Party. Conscious of her responsibility to those who voted for her, she has contacted her constituents in order to hear their input and opinions.

“In the last couple years, I’ve watched leaders in the Republican Party become less and less tolerant of diverse opinions and dissenting voices,” Fukumoto said today in a news release. “Today, I’m facing demands for my resignation from leadership and possible censure because I raised concerns about our President’s treatment of women and minorities. I’ve been asked by both my party and my caucus to commit to not criticizing the president for the remainder of his term and to take a more partisan approach to working in the Legislature. That is not a commitment I can make. As a representative of my community, it is my job to hold leaders accountable and to work with anyone, regardless of party, to make Hawaii a better place for our families.”

“This morning, I sent a letter to my district explaining that I would like to leave the Republican Party and seek membership in the Democratic Party,” Fukumoto said. “When I was re-elected in November, I was elected as a Republican, and I want to honor my community’s choice by consulting them before any decision is made. As I articulated in my letter, I encourage my constituents to contact me with input and provide feedback. I was elected by the people of Mililani, and I am here to represent them.”

Predictably, Republican leaders resent Fukumoto’s putting morals above Party loyalty.  Hawaii Republican Party Chair Fritz Rohlfing demanded that if Fukumoto chooses to leave the party three months after being re-elected as a Republican, she must immediately resign from her seat entirely so the GOP could have time to propose replacements to Gov. David Ige.

http://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/hawaii-republican-leader-vocal-trump-opposition-ready-leave-gop-n716071?cid=sm_fb

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Resistance Hero: Jon Jarvis

15977164_1745339785794086_5892582079991499261_nRecently,  former Director Jon Jarvis made this statement about recent events involving the National Park Service:

“I have been watching the Trump administration trying unsuccessfully to suppress the National Park Service with a mix of pride and amusement. The NPS is the steward of America’s most important places and the narrator of our most powerful stories, told authentically, accurately, and built upon scientific and scholarly research. The Park Ranger is a trusted interpreter of our complex natural and cultural history and a voice that cannot be suppressed. Edicts from on-high have directed the NPS to not talk about “national policy”, but permission is granted to use social media for visitor center hours and safety. The ridiculousness of such a directive was immediately resisted and I am not the least bit 657dcea3-1dd8-b71b-0b9200567cf68182surprised. So at Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site in Atlanta should we not talk about his actions to secure the rights to vote for African Americans in the south, or is that too “national policy”? At Stonewall National Monument in New York City, shall we only talk about the hours you can visit the Inn or is it “national policy” to interpret the events there in 1969 that gave rise to the LGBT movement? Shall we only talk about the historic architecture of the Washington, DC home of Alice Paul and Alva Belmont or is it too “national policy” to suggest their decades of effort to secure the rights of women can be linked directly to the women’s marches in hundreds of cities last weekend? And as we

glacier-national-park-climate-ride-jk

Earthjustice’s Jessica Knoblauch looks across a valley towards declining snowpacks in Montana’s Glacier National Park.  http://earthjustice.org/blog/2015-july/climate-change-sparks-fires-melts-ice-in-glacier-national-park

scientifically monitor the rapid decline of glaciers in Glacier National Park, a clear and troubling indicator of a warming planet, shall we refrain from telling this story to the public because the administration views climate change as “national policy”? These are not “policy” issues, they are facts about our nation, it is how we learn and strive to achieve the ideals of our founding documents. To talk about these facts is core to the mission of the NPS. During the Centennial of the National Park Service, we hosted over 300 million visitors (now that is huge) to the National Parks and most came away inspired, patriotic and ready to speak on behalf of the values we hold most dear. The new Administration would be wise to figure out how to support the National Park Service, its extraordinary employees and their millions of fans.”

 

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I H8 National Haiku Month

haikus-are-easy-2

One reason to dread February: “National Haiku Month” and the abominations committed against this ancient form by well-meaning syllable-counters too presumptive and lazy to get it right or even give a shit.

While it may seem petty to ponder this subject as the world burns around us, “haiku” stripped of its technical and thematic elements hits my ear more sharply than fingernails on a chalkboard. It’s like hitting a piano with a baseball bat and calling it music.

I’m not suggesting that I’m any sort of master of the art. Far from it. But I do have a deep appreciation for this subtle and complex poetic tradition, and for 11/12ths of the year I don’t give it a lot of thought. And then, every February 1, my facebook feed fills up with measured grotesques, soulless and tedious evocations, self-consciously pithy (more often just banal) observations transferred into 5-7-5 syllable structure.

My wife says I should be better, that I should revel in the fact that, for a month, folks are toying with and enjoying language, and I get that, but Christ-On-A-Crutch, people. If you don’t give a happy hoot about what you’re doing, or doing it right, why do it at all?

Discuss.

https://failedhaiku.com/

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Don’t Be Sheep

…Be this guy.

august-landmesser-almanya-1936

I didn’t come up with this. It’s from a meme, and it is one of the best. More timely now than ever.

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At Least Choose Better Lies

For a guy whose obsession with “the best” and “the greatest,” President Donald Trump demonstrates a shockingly poor sense of selectivity when it comes to bald-faced lies. It would be easy to dismiss his behavior as compulsive or reactionary, off-the-cuff denials and distractions wrought by an egocentric blowhard, but this latest in a long line of flamboyant humdingers is no spontaneous misrepresentation, no middle-of-the-night twitter ejaculation.

When White House Spokesman Sean Spicer strutted to the podium and proceeded to not only angrily insist on a string of easily debunked untruths, but to lash at the media for fairly and accurately reporting facts, we witnessed a step towards Orwellian newspeak which, frankly, surprised even a cynical old bastard like me for its venom as well as its brazenness. I’d be impressed, if it wasn’t so insulting.

http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/21/media/sean-spicer-press-secretary-statement/index.html?sr=twCNN012117ean-spicer-press-secretary-statement%2Findex.html1126PMStoryLink&linkId=33646406

The question of the moment is: why lie about this?  Of all things, why, with so many witnesses, and so much documented video, so many images, choose this issue to squander the Trump  adopt the angry defense of a blatantly and easily debunked untruth? It is troubling to consider what else they might lie about, when they cling so tenaciously to something so small and petty.

A few pundits have speculated that these responses–doubling down on obvious lies–is part of a calculated strategy to systematically undermine non-partisan journalism in America, so that when Trump and his band of flying monkeys wreak truly horrible and heinous acts upon our nation the seed of skepticism has been thickly sewn, at least among his unquestioning followers. My college-age daughter observed that her twitter feed was aflame with accusations of media duplicity regarding the inaugural crowds, not to mention a throbbing anger at the audacity of the Women’s March on Washington. Her followers, a notoriously non-selective cross section of former classmates, athletic competitors, acquaintances and friends of friends collection that, by definition, amounts to a pretty broad cross-section of America, with a slightly Trumpish tilt (we live in The Thunderdome, after all), but the gullibility and/or headstrong denial in those voices is chilling. By extension, the “undermine the media” motive must be considered.

Perhaps I’m naive? I don’t believe in vast conspiracies. Small secrets on a broad scale are common enough, but the idea that a group as broad, independent, and accomplishment-driven as “the mainstream media” could perpetuate a vast conspiracy against any public figure is just absurd. These people, after all, are driven by the goal of out-truthing each other. It is an industry defined by “scoops” and it would take just a single reporter to blow the entire deal. The greater point of this argument is that Trump is so incapable of introspection that he cannot see how his own behavior is rallying the media against him, and so paranoid that he thinks conspiracy lurks around every corner. And we won’t mention the old maxim my grandmother taught me about pots calling kettles black–Trump sees duplicity because he bathes in the stuff.

Ultimately, I suspect that what is truly at work here is nothing more than externally-enabled full-blown narcissism. It is so important to Trump that he be the biggest and the greatest and best-est and the most-est that he has no reservations about sending his mouthpieces into the glare of the spotlights with simple instructions: lie! He wouldn’t be the first. The Neo-Conservative movement at its heyday was famous for the mantra of eschewing “reality-based politics,” a stratagem that advocates should talk about the world as they want it to be, not as it actually was. In short, tell the lie and deny the truth long enough and eventually the lie becomes the truth.

It is a powerful and effective tool. Minds are malleable, and Trump knows this. What will matter, in the end, is whether or not the frustration of those who are opposed to Trump becomes stronger than the dogged determination of his supporters, enablers, and lackeys to swallow whatever buffalo patties he drops in our way. And what of his credibility, and that of our nation as a whole. Allies and adversaries alike are watching and will judge him accordingly. His behavior–whether today’s senseless and petty lies, or his history of broken contracts, bullying, and strategic manipulation demonstrated as an unscrupulous real estate developer, will color treaties and deals and all comers fully understand that this is a man whose word means nothing.

 

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Denial & Schrödinger’s Cat?

It is 2:30pm and I’ve yet to look at news or Facebook today. If I can’t see it, it hasn’t happened, right? Is there some way I can apply Schrödinger’s cat to current events? For the next four years, or at least until the first indictments?

14590864_922024131232889_4980509420074041344_n

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New Years Post Delayed. Of course.

I guess I won’t be listing “Stop Procrastinating” as one of my resolutions. I do plan to up the ante on loudmouthed, opinionated rants, gratuitous Trump-bashing, and other forms of intimate journeys of self-discovery. There may be a little bit of wise-assery, too. I mean, I’m just guessing, but….

In the meantime, please enjoy this picture of Jennifer Lopez exercising her constitutional right to bear arms. jlo-bear-arms:

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Sick of The Pseudodoors.

It’s been a while since I trolled young people, and settled well into cold winter I have precious few opportunities to chase off cheese-eating cretins who try to make a shortcut out of my yard. Indeed, our university is in winter break, so I can’t even hope to menace the drunken kids who stop by our hedgerow to take a leak.

It is from this perspective that I’m wondering: what the hell is a Lumineer, and why the fuck won’t they stay out of my music player feed? Now, lots of people rip on Millennials for lots of reasons, apt and not, and I don’t want to be that guy stirring up the generational stew. I know plenty of asshats my own age, but I need to know: am I the only one to come to the rather horrifying cultural realization that Generation X is the first demographic in modern history whose children are actually begging us to turn our goddamn music down? My own flesh and blood has, just recently, complained wearily she could hear the Wild Flag jams I was using to shake snow off the roof through her head phones, and it was spoiling her Edward Sharp moment. Sigh.

If I hear one more shoe-gazing, patchy-bearded twinky strumming another acoustic barbiturate ode to something really, really, really poignant I’m going to puke on his shoes.

I get it. These coffeehouse pseudo-troubadoors (Pseudodoors?) feel things nobody has ever felt, and they feel them profoundly, deeply. Really, really, really deeply. But give me a break, man.Those Wes Anderson characters aren’t templates. For the love of the gods, buy a Sonic Youth record and figure it out. You can me miserable, melancholic, even maudlin without being so damnably dull. Watch and learn:

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