Welcome to this week’s “zine.”
by Mark M
Observations and Thinkings, Vol. P (2006)
Ain’t it funny how “pieces” of All That Is don’t even like one another?
Oops. Don’t look here.
And don’t read this.
Worry is negative faith.
People who don’t dye their gray hair are exhibiting a sign of maturity.
Perspective makes parallel lines appear to meet.
It’s 61 or half a dozen of the other.
To have and to haven’t.
How sweet it is/n’t:
Glucose, sucrose, lactose, fructose, morose…
Kentucky Fried Poultry
Turmoil is not a very good lubricant.
I’m not trying to apply any torque to your arm.
I’m keeping my head down — but then it’s hard to keep my nose clean.
It looks like I’ve been politically corrected.
I’m looking forward to getting away with that.
Where there’s smoke, there may be 2 sticks rubbing against one another.
Be so joyful your cup runs over and makes a big mess.
Laugh and the whole world laughs with you; cry and it laughs just as hard.
It was only slightly magnificent.
Hitler dictated letters to his secretary. He was a dictator after all.
Nazi – not see
Governments are not known for truthfulness.
“I am not afraid to die for I have discovered that God is tiny.”
Maybe good things happen to bad people because God is so tiny?
Materialist accidentalism (the foundation of evolutionary thought and how life arose from inert chemicals) is science’s bitter pill.
No wonder many people — with weirdly evolved emotions (that get in the way of good science and other things) — resist.
In matters of theory and speculation, to not admit the possibility of error shows a lack of imagination, not to mention modesty.
None are as blind as a blind horse that cannot tell a nod from a wink.
Children should be seen when not heard.
There is no fool like an old codger.
And she’s buying a staircase to heaven.
If talk is cheap, e-mail is even less expensive.
It didn’t work out. She was really on the ball, whereas he was really off the ball.
Nostalgia is forgetting the glass really was only half full.
Perhaps one of the reasons we are here is to learn how to forgive.
Perhaps one of the purposes of life is to convince one’s self one is actually happy.
Glass is half full, gratitude journals, and all…
If there are winners to life, it is those who are happy.
About the Author
Though the author has neglected to pass on his genes, he is fit to be untied.
Neal Rohrer is a Kenosha-area native and resident who draws and paints. He doesn’t like Jackson Pollock.
Five questions with Kenosha artist Neal Rohrer.
Q: What type of art do you do?
A: I make oil paintings — mainly still life objects. My style is somewhat photorealistic. I also like to do the occasional cat or dog portrait.
Q: What artists have influenced you?
A: I’m fairly obsessed with Vincent van Gogh. I am continually trying to break free of my tight brushstrokes and introduce more observable technique. I tend to analyze Rembrandt as well.
Q: How long have you been painting?
A: I have been an illustrator for books and advertising over the years, but started oil painting only two and a half years ago, after first starting with acrylic. I noticed the artists I admire on Instagram were all using oil, so I decided I better move over to that for the deep lustrous color and smooth blending.
Q: What are you painting now?
A: Another attempt at looser brushstrokes — painting a hard chrome object but with broader strokes than I usually do. I’ll get it one day.
Q: What do you see yourself doing with art in 5-10 years?
A: I am sticking with oils. There is so much that I still need to learn. Artists I admire are able to indicate volume of shape with direction of brush stroke, just to identify one challenge that could take a year.
When I’d put out my chapbooks, my name for the “publisher” (just me) was “The M Press.”
Back in 2005, Neal approached me with an idea presented below.
Each statement had an illustration he did to go along with it. Too many to scan, sorry.
Written and Illustrated
I saw a need amongst the lonely guys who are without a girlfriend. Now, for just 50 cents, they can experience the full spectrum of what feminine love has to offer. I hope they don’t find it overpriced.
Thanks for asking me to a movie. Let’s see that new Hugh Grant film!
You’re so nice. My old boyfriend was beyond jerk!
I want our first time to be special. No means no.
I’m so drunk! How ’bout if I stay at your place tonight, big boy?
I’ll just leave my toothbrush here at your place.
I made a special meal just for you! Tofu sprout cakes and herbal soy infusion!
I can’t believe you forgot our one-week anniversary!
You think YOU’VE had a hard day? Sit down and listen to mine!
Thanks for listening to me go on and on about what a pain my old boyfriend was.
I don’t want to worry you, but I’m “late.”
DON’T TOUCH ME! I’VE GOT PMS!!!
Mom, Dad, this is my new boyfriend!
Do you hear that noise my car is making? Could you take a look at it this weekend?
My ex-boyfriend said he wants to give it another chance, so I’m breaking up with you.
(c) Neal Rohrer
Now this little story begs for a male counterpart version.
To this end, a buddy of mine and his girlfriend tried to help me come up with one, but, admittedly, it probably is not the equal to Neal’s story (which is not to say men can’t be equally problematic!). And we have no illustrations.
I just got home — let me watch the game!
Where’s my dinner?
Not THAT again! We had that 3 weeks ago!
I forgot our anniversary? It’s just a day. I still love you.
I need to go hang with my bros.
Damn! My truck is not LOUD ENUFF!!(!)!
I never told you this, but I got “fixed” about 5 years ago.
I’m not coming home tonight.
At the Racine Public Library in late July, skimming the nonfiction new books titles (I only very rarely read fiction, maybe that shows), I saw a rock ‘n’ roll auto-bio by Jean Beauvoir (ghost-helper, John Ostrosky) called Bet My Soul on Rock n Roll: Diary of a Black Punk Icon.
The author’s name seemed vaguely familiar and a quick glance at the dust jacket immediately told me why: he played bass in the Plasmatics, a punk band.
Wow, they haven’t crossed my consciousness in decades!
Jean Beauvoir writes of playing for Gary U.S. Bonds at, like, age 15, even how he was given the role of bandleader by Gary which was challenging cos the band members weren’t very keen to take direction from someone so young.
A next career stop was playing bass in the Plasmatics where I must have seen him when they came to Milwaukee at the Palms, ca. 1980, but who’s paying attention to him even though he’s black with a blonde Mohawk when rather buxom front-woman, Wendy O. Williams, is coming on stage wearing only whipped cream as a top and it largely ends up getting sweated off, and doing things like taking a chainsaw to an electric guitar and such-like.
The band got roughed up afterwards by really kind Milwaukee vice squad cops who only broke Wendy’s nose.
They made a big splash with an appearance on Fridays (ABC’s effort to compete with NBC’s Saturday Night Live) where they displayed their antics. I missed that show. I watch/watched so very little TeeVee.
He ended up leaving them hoping to release a solo album and ended up playing for all kinds of people along the way, and at one point two famous people, one surnamed Jackson, the other first-named Prince, are vying to get him into their respective bands.
He was kind of paranoid that Prince’s offer would sort of have the effect of buying him out, and so he turned Prince down.
He also turned down Michael which reportedly left Michael furious.
In the foreword, written by Kermit Blackwood, there is a dialogue:
“Why would Jean turn down Michael Jackson?!”
“Can you name a bass player that Jackson used?”
“There you have it.”
So, as I mentioned, he played for a lot of people and did solo stuff.
The only others that interest me, however, were the Ramones (he produced Animal Boy in 1986) and Debbie Harry.
I wasn’t interested enuff in Steven Van Zandt, Justin Timberlake, Lionel Richie, Nona Hendryx, or a music spot in a dumb Sylvester Stallone action flick called Cobra to have read those parts of the book. And I’m certainly not interested in Kiss*.
For me, it was mostly downhill for him after the Plasmatics, but for him, most likely at least more money with his subsequent career moves.
He said his bass playing in the Plasmatics was often actually pretty complex, and, later, touring solo, he several times had to take “Masterplan” off the set-list cos whoever is playing bass backing him couldn’t hack it. He said the part “was like something from Motown played at five times the original speed.”
He said sometimes blacks would give him grief for his blonde Mohawk, as the color wasn’t seen as natural, but never whites. This was back when he was virtually the only black to cultivate a look like that. Nowadays, such is near commonplace.
The U.S. Two(?)-Party System
NOTE: The opinions that follow are not necessarily at all the views of ArtRoot, the Racine Literacy Council, nor the generous grant funders, the Osborne & Scekic Family Foundation, but are instead entirely my own.
“The U.S. is governed by the two factions of the Business Party.”
“There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat.”
Until Trump was running for the Republican nomination in 2016, I had hardly ever paid any attention to the guy. But seeing in the campaign how, for instance, he openly insulted his rivals, learning about him bragging about grabbing women, and so on and so forth, ad nauseum, it hardly seemed he was in any way worthy of the job (actually, perhaps most major party candidates aren’t to begin with, but that’s another story; he took unworthiness to a new, all-time low). So when it turned out he managed to win the Electoral College and, hence, the presidency, I hardly liked it, but I naively hoped he’d rise to the occasion as president and not be quite such a miscreant, or maybe rise part way? (After all, there were reports that he was initially stunned to have won, apparently not expecting to.)
Then I hoped his Republican fellows would turn on him (strength-in-numbers-style) since he was/is so far beyond the pale (a number of them such as Lindsey Graham having previously sharply criticized him), give him the 25th Amendment treatment or something. (From Day 1 of his presidency, he was in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution which is a fancy way of saying he was taking what in effect were bribes via, for instance, Saudi Arabia, say, or another nation renting a block of rooms in one of his hotels even if they were not bothering to occupy any.)
A number of Republicans, such as Lindsey Graham, as I noted, who initially condemned the idea of a president Trump completely fell in line behind him once he won and started engaging in his infamous behaviors and the more than 30 000 documented public lies during the course of his presidency, the rate of which increased through time.
Then when he clearly lost in 2020, given how Gore who did win the popular vote in 2000 but was told to get over it, I expected the Republicans to take their own medicine and do the same, but…
This is because the Republicans are a nakedly, utterly fanatical party.
Back when they were impeaching Clinton for lying about extramarital sex (grounds for divorce but not impeachment as one writer then put it), I was wondering why they were on him so, since, in the wry words of Michael Moore, “Clinton was the best Republican president we ever had.”
I thought maybe if he offered to join their party and not just act like them in so many ways that maybe they would lay off.
But then it occured to me why they were on him so despite later public opinion much favoring the idea of impeaching George W. Bush compared to public sentiment about impeaching Clinton:
They are entirely through-and-through fanatics. Republifascists, in the word of writer Paul Street.
McConnell forbids any confirmation hearings for Obama’s Garland pick as coming too close to the 2016 election and then turns around and totally rushes the confirmation of far closer to the then election of Amy Coney Barrett leaving us with a Supreme(ly Fascist) Court with the fanatical decisions it is making.
The complete and utter lack of getting over it led to all the denial of losing the election, that it was supposedly stolen from Trump who had a longstanding habit of calling other people “losers” when here it was time for him to wear the label, culminating in the January 6th insurrection which we all well know about and, despite the seven people who died and the more than 100 police officers who were hurt, the Republican National Committee declared it “legitimate political discourse.”
(I think it’s interesting to contemplate whether Trump would have been happy to “have a beer” with the typical insurrectionist that day. Apparently, he was quite happy to have them literally fight for him, but sitting down to pal around with them? It’s hard for me to imagine. Many of them had financial problems such as mortgage foreclosures, bankruptcies, lay-offs, and such. And they thought Trump would do something for them? Oh, yeah, they no doubt felt Trump was doing something for them with his anti-immigrant policies.)
Will any higher ups, including perhaps Trump, whose Teflon coating is much thicker than Reagan’s, ever actually go to prison for January 6?
Merrick Garland can act now; he doesn’t need to wait for the completion of the investigation by the United States House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack (but more power to them!).
We can only hope Trump et al. will be legally held accountable, but there is the saying that while the Republicans go for the jugular, the Democrats only go for the capillaries.
Here is a short list of Democrat capillary-going (it’s not for nothing that the late political philosopher Sheldon Wolin called the Democrats “an inauthentic opposition“):
LBJ says nothing when he learns very shortly before the 1968 election that Nixon treasonously went behind his back to the Vietnamese promising them a better deal if he were to win the presidency if they would drag their feet on LBJ’s peace talks with them.
Failure to impeach Reagan for the Iran-Contra law-breaking.
Failure to impeach George W. Bush for his crimes. “Impeachment is off the table,” Nancy Pelosi infamously said when impeachment would have been a fine comeuppance for the theft of election 2000 — remember, for instance, that there was vote-counting interference in the form of relatively well-dressed interferers in an incident called the Brooks Brothers riot; for all the election 2000 Nader-blaming — actually, a very arguable point; for instance, some Republicans voted for Nader; some wouldn’t have voted if Nader weren’t on the ballot, etc. — one absolutely cannot blame Nader for failure to impeach George W. Bush like Nancy did.
All that Bush bad, his wars and so forth, happened over the live bodies of Democrats.
Failure to impeach Trump with any more than two articles (both concerning Trump interfering with supplying weapons to Ukraine since he wanted dirt on Biden’s son; Nixon had three) when Nader was proposing 12 and the group RootsAction.org was proposing 25 (and then Nancy Pelosi rushingly wanted it all over by Christmas of that year; I hope she afterwards had some happy holidays).
Biden, so far, doing nothing to end the filibuster, to discipline Democrats(?) Manchin or Sinema, or to expand the Supreme Court which is now clearly right wing.
The Republicans showed, what was it? for nearly a year? that they were not concerned that there be 9 justices because with their refusal to have confirmation hearings for Merrick Garland, there were only 8 justices.
I’d say it’s clear the Republicans are the GEP, the Greater Evil Party, but the Democrats are entirely feckless.
Even if we accept that there are two distinct parties in the U.S., note that two parties are only one whole party more than a one-party state.
Just two parties feeds into the simplistic, dualistic notion of good vs. evil: if one party is good, the other party must be bad.
Actually, the left-right spectrum is overly simplistic. The Libertarians have come up with a short quiz that puts you, based on your answers, onto a square, two dimensional. My “score” has me as a progressive (surprise!), but with a bit of a libertarian leaning.
My late mom was politically liberal, but very conservative about premarital sex, for instance. Her location on the square would have been different.
Actually, my ideal is anarchism, no government, cooperation-based.
From Notes on Anarchism by Noam Chomsky: “Guerin quotes Adolph Fischer, who said that ‘every anarchist is a socialist, but not every socialist is necessarily an anarchist.'”
And now for a little on what Sheldon Wolin says we have in the U.S.: inverted totalitarianism.
Inverted totalitarianism is, in a nutshell, rule by corporations.
Corporations which, in the U.S., have the rights of persons, but which feel no obligation to have an actual allegiance to the U.S. Their only allegiance is to their $hareholders.
With the Supreme Court ruling that money is $peech, a corporation’s megaphone is way way bigger than yours as an actual, flesh-and-blood person.
Here are two examples of inverted totalitarianism at work in Wisconsin:
The Foxconn con, only destroying wetlands and forcing people to relocate under eminent domain.
A Gov. Tony Evers example: signing an ALEC bill to outlaw environmental protests.
And U.S. “healthcare” amounts to a racket, corporations profiting off peoples’ illnesses.
What was derided by the Republicans as Obamacare originated in 1989 with the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank and was instituted by the very Republican Mitt Romney in Massachusetts when he was governor there.
It was a plan to leave no corporate health insurer behind instead of having a single-payer system which is too socialistic for the profit-hungry establishment.
Once Obama “touched” this plan, however, the Republicans did an about face and pronounced it poison with all their attempts to repeal it.
Campaign promise Biden is most dedicated to keeping:
Joe Biden to rich donors: “Nothing would fundamentally change” if he’s elected. When you think of it, what a thing to say at a time when Trump was president!
A study found citizens have little effect on policies.
Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens by
Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page
Summary: “Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.”
Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (net worth, $200 000), a DSA member, sensibly tweeted: “It is absolutely ludicrous that members of Congress can hold and trade individual stock while in office. The access and influence we have should be exercised for the public interest, not our profit. It shouldn’t be legal for us to trade individual stock with the info we have.”
The Post observes: “From 2007 to 2020, the speaker and her spouse raked in between $5.6 million and $30.4 million (the rules don’t even require exact disclosure) from just five Big Tech firms: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft.”
Microsoft has been one of Pelosi’s top campaign contributors, donating $113 822 to her since 1989.
Pelosi would better serve the people by restraining these enormous corporations, not personally profiting from them.
Viable third parties are desperately needed for there is no far left in the U.S., but there assuredly is a far right.
At least no one who is far left has any appreciable political power. So, effectively, or ineffectively, there is no U.S. far left.
It’s perfectly true the typical Democrat is to the left of the typical Republican, but the typical Democrat is at best a centrist. That’s how “far left” they are, no matter what the Republicans say.
And I have pointed out that the Democrats are an inauthentic opposition.
A person on the true left is a Green or a socialist.
Even Bernie Sanders’ “socialism” is rather soft.
On many domestic issues, the Republicans and Democrats sharply disagree, except when they don’t.
Take abortion, for instance, Hilary Clinton’s running mate, Tim Kaine, was not strongly pro-choice. Imagine, but for the infernal Electoral College, Hillary would have been the first woman U.S. president and she picks for Veep an abortion rights waffler. That made her a waffler by association.
And here is Biden in 1974: then-Senator Joe Biden stated in regards to Roe v. Wade, “I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far.” He went on to say, “I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.” A few years later in 1982, Biden was one of only two Democratic lawmakers who supported a constitutional amendment that allowed states to overturn Roe v. Wade and pass their own laws on abortion.
Actually, for all their fighting, when it comes to foreign policy, the Dems and the Repubs become virtually indistinguishable.
For instance, there were more drone strikes under Obama than under his appalling predecessor George W. Bush. And there were more drone strikes under Trump than Obama.
Noam Chomsky: Obama’s Drone Program: ‘The Most Extreme Terrorist Campaign of Modern Times’; famed linguist takes aim at western hypocrisy on terrorism.
To Biden’s credit, I understand he has not increased use of drones even further, thank God.
Trump abandoned the Iran nuclear deal saying it was a horrible deal, but he never bothered to point out exactly what made it so. It only had the participation of the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, and Germany.
Biden has not restored it.
Both parties keep raising military spending, euphemistically called “defense” spending, with the Pentagon never being audited.
Most years, it “only” takes close to half of each federal tax dollar.
And horrifically high charges by military contractors, headline news in the Reagan era, never went away, but only got worse:
The Pentagon Inspector General’s office has uncovered more than 100 overcharges by contractor TransDigm alone, totaling $20.8 million.
The overpriced plastic toilet seat covers that cost $640 in the 1980s now cost $10,000.
We all paid $2,286 for a landing gear that should have cost $10.
$8,124 for a bevel gear that should have cost $445.
The Pentagon plans to buy more than 2,400 F-35 planes. DoD found 800 unresolved defects in the plane.
The high-tech helmet for flying them costs $400,000 each.
An F-35 costs $38,000 an hour to fly.
The U.S. spends eight times on “defense” what Russia spends.
When Tammy Baldwin first ran for senate, at a fundraiser, I got to briefly speak to her, and I said the military budget is way too high and she agreed with me.
But her actions in this regard speak louder than her words, and she wants to bring the F-35 plane to the Madison area.
Yet when it comes to the military, it seems no one ever asks: “Where are we going to get the money for that?” But this question is the first to arise when it comes to proposing something for the common good.
Here’s a reason for big military budgets: At least 15 lawmakers who shape US defense policy have investments in military contractors. The politicians hold posts on either the House or Senate armed-services panels. They’re investing their money in defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Boeing. Potentially profiting off oversight duties is indefensible, ethics watchdogs say.
The House of Pelosi just passed a $840 billion Pentagon spending bill, which more Republicans (62) voted against than Democrats (39). For perspective, the Pentagon appropriation is nearly 20 times larger than the amount ($44 billion) the Biden administration requested to confront the biggest threat to the planet: climate change.
The Department of Defense is concerned with climate change — while contributing enormously to it.
“According to Brown University’s Cost of War Project, the Pentagon’s greenhouse gas emissions exceed those of many industrialized nations, such as Denmark, Sweden and Portugal.
“It was 118 degrees in Siberia!
“U.S. military spending surpasses China, India, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, the UK, Japan, South Korea and Brazil combined!”
–CODEPINK action alert of Thursday, July 21, 2022
The U.S. has 800 military bases around the world.
Is there one foreign base in the U.S.?
I submit, with all those bases around the globe, with all that money thrown at the problem of “defense,” and with what the U.S. presidents have gotten away with when conducting all their wars, Hitler himself would seethe with envy.
Viable third parties are desperately needed, but the Democrats and the Republicans have erected virtually impossible hurdles for them to have any success.
Presidential debates, for instance.
In 2000 the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) established a rule that for a candidate to be included in the national debates, he or she must garner at least 15% support across five national polls of the CPD’s choosing. This rule has been controversial as it has effectively excluded U.S. parties other than the two major parties.
The “For the People Act” had good things in it but also things that hurt third parties. Such as:
In addition to quintupling the money presidential candidates must raise to access presidential primary public matching funds (to account for inflation? the Dems aren’t doing that for the minimum wage, now are they?), other poison pills in H.R. 1 would:
Abolish the general election campaign block grants that parties can access by winning at least 5% of the vote in the previous presidential election. HR1 would eliminate this provision that was created to give a fair shot to alternative parties that demonstrate significant public support. [Excerpt from a 17 Mar 2021 Green Party e-mail]
Repubs try to suppress voting; Dems try to suppress candidates.
The Dem suppression of candidates is pretty ruthless.
So it looks like we are stuck, barring an actual, literal revolution.
Does it really have to come to that? Pitchforks?
A general strike! Nonviolent, of course.
I stumbled on this word in the dictionary, gherao, which means “encirclement,” and it denotes a tactic used by labor activists and union leaders in India; it is similar to picketing. Usually, a group of people would surround a politician or a government building until their demands are met, or answers given.
I’m not sure where I stand on this; it seems to flirt with violence.
There is plenty to read here about nonviolent revolution.
Incidentally, re the environment, if you donate to the big enviros, you help pay the exec $alaries as follows:
Carter Roberts, World Wildlife Fund: $1.09 million
David Yarnold, Audubon: $855K
Fred Krupp, EDF: $824K
Gina McCarthy, NRDC: $800K (FY 2020)
Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife: $569K
Andrew Sharpless, Oceana: $492K
Abigail Dylan, EarthJustice: $459K
Collin O’Meara, National Wildlife Federation: $392K
Ken Kimmel, Union of Concerned Scientists: $358K
Mike Brune, Sierra Club: $300K
Gene Karpinski, League of Conservation Voters: $224K
Annual Compen$ation of the Top 30 Employees of The Nature Conservancy (based on tax filings for FY 2018): $912,000, $738,000, $710,000, $628,000, $592,000, $538,000, $473,000, $467,000, $430,000, $419,000, $416,000, $411,000, $409,000, $404,000, $401,000, $392,000, $390,000, $389,000, $385,000, $379,000, $375,000, $374,000, $370,000, $368,000, $363,000, $356,000, $349,000, $337,000, $335,000, $261,000.
Next week (subject to change): Those Beatles, Socialist Frank Zeidler, The United Nations, Watergate Alternative
Boilerplate: As part of my community project as Racine Writer in Residence, I hereby invite Racine-area people to send me prose or poems of 250 words or less for me to consider for inclusion in my posts as a “guest appearance.” So far, there have been no responses. So, former Racine Writers in Residence, I want to explicitly include you in this invitation. If you want, also send a photo and a very short “bio.” You will retain the copyright for the material you submit. Send to m.mk at att.net with “Racine WiR” in the subject line. Thank you.
Don’t hide your light under a bushel-sized basket; it is recommended that you let it shine.