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Posts Tagged ‘Opinion’

Bigotry

Pity the lowly bigot, who is not only a terrible human being, but also an embarrassment. Hating on an entire group — gays, blacks, immigrants — is mean, nasty, juvenile, and unjustifiable. I call that embarrassing.

Bigotry reveals a lot about the bigot. It says the hater is either dumb and suggestible or has mental and/or emotional issues.

Which is why it pains me to question whether I have a bigotry problem myself.

I like to think I’m a sensible and realistic person. But it’s a fact that I am deeply offended by — appalled, angered, outraged by — political conservatives. ALL of them. Anyone who identifies as Republican, right-wing, or MAGA.

Actually, I believe the correct acronym now is MAGAGA — Make American Great and Glorious Again. That’s the knee-slapper the Orange Gasbag used when he announced for president again.

But to stay on point, since my stated position re the GOP amounts to enmity toward the entire group, that seems uncomfortably close to bigotry. Hmm.

Let’s consider the facts. Conservatives are wrong on essentially every issue. Their beliefs are selfish and heinous to a cartoonish degree.

These people hate, resent, or are suspicious of anyone who isn’t white and Christian. They cling to their guns and religion. They’ve learned they can embrace, without consequence, outrageous falsehoods and the patently absurd. They rail about stolen elections, immigrant caravans, crisis actors, and imaginary pedophile rings.

And when you hear about Jewish space lasers or drinking the blood of infants in satanic rituals, you can be sure the source is MAGAGA-land.

Then there’s the fact that, if some conservatives don’t deserve scorn, why do they still call themselves conservatives? Have they repented, cut the ties, and walked away? They have not.

I will ponder this matter further.

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The Indifferent Half

It’s a fine thing that Raphael Warnock defeated Herschel Walker and preserved a Senate seat for the Democrats.

But it stinks that the Republicans will have a majority in the House. The return of the GOP clown car means constructive legislation will come to a halt. Instead, we’ll have idiotic investigations into such weighty matters as Hunter Biden’s laptop.

They’re Republicans. They’re incapable of positive contributions.

I had hoped Senator Warnock would win by a larger margin, but Georgia’s bible-thumpers, nutjobs, and rednecks are rigidly tribal, and they automatically vote Republican. In my county, which is 87 percent white and staunchly GOP, Walker got 21,600 votes, and Warnock got 5,800.

Herschel was a lame and embarrassing candidate, but you have to feel bad for him. He is a troubled guy who doesn’t belong in the public eye. Putting him there was cruel.

In spite of the behavior of the rednecks and MAGAGAs, however, the larger problem is that half of eligible voters don’t vote.

In a typical US election, roughly one-quarter of the electorate votes Democratic, one-quarter votes Republican, and one-half stays home.

In the 2018 midterms, 48 percent of the voting-age population voted, and 52 percent did not.

In the Biden-Trump presidential election, only 63 percent of the voting-age population went to the polls. 37 percent couldn’t be bothered.

Compare our record to Sweden’s: in 2022, 80 percent of their voting age population voted. In 2021 in Peru, the number was 84 percent. In 2020 in New Zealand, it was 77 percent.

In the US, with the right-wingers becoming more wild-eyed and bonkers every day, and the democratic process literally in peril, failing to vote is practically criminal.

In 19 countries, it IS criminal.

In Australia, voting has been compulsory since 1924. Federal elections are held every three years, and all citizens over 18 are required to vote, or at least to show up at the polls.

Since the system was instituted, turnout has never been lower than 90 percent.

I’m certainly in favor of mandatory voting in the US, but it isn’t likely to happen. Requiring people to vote would bring GOP/MAGAGA influence to an immediate halt, since far more of us are rational than not. The right-wingers would riot in the streets to prevent that.

Still, the idea of lighting a fire under the indifferent half is mighty appealing.

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If a genie appeared and offered me one wish, and I were a better man, I would ask for world peace, or to end hunger and poverty, or for all Republicans to be raptured into the sky, never to be heard from again.

But no, I would ask to be 22 years old again, tall and handsome, financially secure, and with an IQ of, say, 200.

If the genie offered me a second wish, I would ask to be able to converse with my dog Jake.

I suppose it would have to be telepathic, since dogs haven’t evolved to speak. I’m fine with telepathic.

As it is, I talk to Jake constantly. But he only comprehends my tone and certain key words. I would want the genie to allow genuine two-way communication.

Jake and I understand each other pretty well, despite not being able to have conversations. As roommates of long standing, we know the other’s likes, dislikes, and boundaries. We have our routines and rituals, most of which occur smoothly.

But there is so much more I wish we could share.

I wish I could tell him, “Jake, we can’t go for a walk this morning because I have a haircut appointment. We’ll go walking after lunch, okay?”

And “I’m sorry, buddy, I can’t share these cookies with you. Chocolate is harmful to dogs. I got you some Alpo treats instead.”

And “Dude, I’m going on a road trip, and you’d be cooped up in the car all day. I’ll leave you at the kennel so you can play with the other pooches. I’ll be back before you know it, I promise.”

And “I know the thunder is scary, but it’s only noise. And it’s a long way off. It won’t hurt you, honest.”

And “Look, pal, when I sneeze, I’m not mad and yelling. It’s an involuntary reaction to a tickle in my nose. You sneeze, too, right?”

Jake also has information to share.

Such as “Rocky! We need to go out to the front yard, right now! A cat is out there! I saw it through the window!”

Or “Okay, this isn’t complicated. Leave the toilet seats up.”

Or “Look, you don’t have to keep me on a leash at the city pond. I know I get excited around the ducks, but would I chase one down and hurt it? Don’t be silly.”

Or “Uh… I ate some stuff outside, and I don’t fell so good. I think I’m gonna be sick.”

Anyway, I’ve given this considerable thought. I would be ready, if a genie appeared.

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Your MAGA Overlords

The November 8 mid-term elections will be hugely consequential. The Republicans are perfectly willing to trade democracy for fascism, if it helps them retain power. That lunacy needs to be stopped.

The right wing already controls the Supreme Court, many lower courts, and most statehouses. If the GOP takes over the House and Senate, America won’t be America anymore. And that isn’t hyperbole.

The rest of us need to rise up and vote against every Republican, in every race, at every level of government. They aren’t worthy of a single vote.

Since the Reagan era, conservatives have been veering steadily to the right, becoming more and more a grotesque caricature of themselves. The right-wing extremists — the homophobes, racists, misogynists, bigots, fascists, white supremacists, autocrat-lovers — have gravitated to the Republican Party.

The GOP has been thoroughly unsavory for some time, but it got worse when Trump came along. With his willingness to lie like a rug and to violate any democratic norm, Donald Trump emboldened and enabled the wackos. He turned the GOP into a rancid cesspool.

Today, Republicans come in two varieties. One is the above-described extremist nutjobs. The other is the people who side with the crazies, or remain silent because of tribalism; they blindly identify as Republicans and want their team to win.

Let’s be real. The Republican Party is a collection of damaged people united by vile beliefs and determined to win by any means. They don’t believe in democracy. They believe in lying and cheating to get their way. Which tells you all you need to know about their character and integrity.

The occasional Democrat who gets in trouble — Al Franken, Anthony Weiner — always pays the price, but GOP politicians do not. And only the Republican Party would field candidates like Herschel Walker and Mehmet Oz.

The current GOP is beyond redemption. It is the party of MAGA thugs storming the Capitol to sabotage an election. It is the party of armed goons intimidating voters at ballot drop-boxes. It is the party of people evil enough to crack the skull of an old man with a hammer, while Fox News and GOP politicians vilify the old man.

We can’t reason with people like that or change their minds. But we can overwhelm them — vote them out of office, replace them with rational people, and drive the MAGA crowd underground again.

It’s a sad fact that two-thirds of eligible voters don’t vote. If enough non-voters don’t wake up and get themselves to the ballot box, this democracy may damn well be over.

And your MAGA overlords will be teaching our children to goose step.

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Ethics

Museums are wonderful things, except for their ugly history of acquiring artifacts through illegal or disreputable means. Countless items in museum collections were obtained by theft, coercion, bribery, deceit, etc.

Colonialism had a lot to do with it. For centuries, the European powers felt free to help themselves to the treasures of the countries they occupied, and regularly did.

But now, hopeful signs are appearing. Museums here are there actually are returning purloined artifacts to the rightful owners.

A new policy adopted this year by the Smithsonian Institution, the largest museum complex in the world, is especially welcome. The Smithsonian now is actively working to identify and return objects that were wrongfully obtained.

First on the list is a group of Nigerian plaques and sculptures known as the Benin Bronzes. Hundreds were stolen by the British in the 1890s, and over time, some found their way to the Smithsonian. The museum has identified 29 items as among those looted by the British and plans to return them to Nigeria.

Refreshing.

Booze of Choice

In 1994, on my first raft trip down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon, I observed that four of the five river guides drank alcohol, and all four drank the same thing: Jim Beam Original white label bourbon.

Not Jim Beam Black, or Jim Beam rye, or the bonded or single barrel versions, or any of Beam’s (yuck) fruity liqueurs. The guides drank Jim Beam Original white label.

I’ve now rafted Grand Canyon four times with two different outfitters. On all four trips, the pattern was the same: the guides who drank alcohol drank Jim Beam white label.

Every evening, after the passengers were fed and the chores were done, the guides usually gathered somewhere to relax, chat, and have a nightcap or three. The nightcap was always Jim Beam white label.

Although I didn’t inquire while on the trips, I can imagine how Beam became a thing. Maybe the alpha male guides preferred Beam — relatively cheap, fairly smooth, a reasonable 80 proof. Peer pressure kicked in, and, voilà, a tradition was born. When new guides were hired, they naturally followed the tradition.

I should mention, too, that after my 1994 raft trip, I switched from Jack Daniels Old No. 7 black label to Jim Beam Original white label. Which remains my booze of choice to this day.

Being Real

In the early 1800s, most runaway slaves in the US famously went north to freedom, but many fled south to Mexico, where slavery was newly banned. Mexico readily offered asylum, and Mexican troops were quick to confront slave catchers who pursued the runaways.

Back then, the Mexican territory of Texas was mostly populated by Anglos, and its economy was deeply dependent on slavery. Slaves not only worked farms and plantations, but also served widely as tradesmen and household servants. The economic importance of slavery was a key reason why Texas declared its independence from Mexico in 1836.

Mexico’s opposition to slavery and willingness to protect runaways isn’t well known, but it had consequences. It prompted more slaves to escape, and it aggravated friction in the US between north and south. The Civil War probably came sooner as a result.

I didn’t learn all that in school, but I know it now because I’m curious and open to the facts.

As we all should be. Conservatives get apoplectic when anyone challenges the comforting myths about America’s exceptionalism, superiority, and glorious history. As usual, the conservatives are full of it.

Fairy tales are a waste of time. Better to view the past honestly and try to understand how and why things happened. If it hurts your feelings, that’s probably a sign you learned something.

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Did I mention that my road trip to the Southwest last month was excellent? I wore shorts and short sleeves every day. Never needed a jacket, rain gear, or umbrella.

Had zero trouble finding decent lodging. Had very few so-so meals. Never got tired from driving. Came home with souvenir t-shirts from Hatch, Gallup, Flagstaff, Sedona, and Grand Canyon.

Furthermore, thanks to the record so helpfully provided by Google Timeline, I can elaborate on how the trip went down…

After dropping off Jake at the kennel, I drove south to Atlanta, then west on I-20 across Alabama and into Mississippi. I spent the first night in Jackson. Supper was an insanely delicious brisket plate at the Pig & Pint. Rating: A+

On Day Two, I continued west on I-20, crossed the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, drove across Louisiana to Shreveport, and into Texas. There, being an intelligent person, I abandoned I-20 and picked up US 84, which goes through neither Dallas nor Houston. I stopped for the night in Waco and dined at La Fiesta Restaurant & Cantina. Rating: B.

On Day Three, I followed US 87 northwest from San Angelo back to I-20, then west through Midland and Odessa. I stopped for the night in Pecos, where I enjoyed a fine meal and beverage at Javelinas Draft House. Rating: A-.

On Day Four, I picked up I-10 to El Paso, then I-25 north through Las Cruces, New Mexico. I stopped for a few hours in Hatch, New Mexico, the famous “Chile Capital of the World.” Hatch is a fun place. The smell of roasting chiles is delightful, and the gift shops carry an amazing selection of chiles — fresh, dried, cooked, candied, and pickled — and Talavera pottery.

After Hatch, I continued north on I-25 and stayed the night in Los Lunas, following dinner and a brew at Buffalo Wild Wings. Rating: B.

On Day Five, I drove north to Albuquerque and west on I-40 past the pueblos, stopping for the night in Gallup — after making the rounds of the numerous shops and trading posts. Supper was at Anthony’s A Taste of the Southwest Mexican Restaurant. Rating: B-.

On Day Six, I continued west on I-40 into Arizona. After a stop at Petrified Forest National Park, I continued to Holbrook, then Winslow, where I visited the very cool gift shop at La Posada Hotel and the “Standin’ on the Corner” statue downtown.

That night, I stayed in Flagstaff and, as is my tradition, enjoyed a draft and a brewer’s platter at Beaver Street Brewery. Rating: sadly, a C. Usually a solid A, but that’s life.

On Day Seven, after a morning of strolling around downtown Flagstaff, I drove south on US 89A through fabulous Oak Creek Canyon to the ultra-touristy, but still enjoyable Sedona. Lunch was a massive cheeseburger and a cold one at the Cowboy Club. Rating: B+.

After wandering around Sedona for a bit, I returned to Flagstaff for the night, where I enjoyed a dinner of soup, salad, and a tall draft at Lumberyard Brewing Company. Rating: A, no question.

On Day Eight, I headed north on US 89 to Cameron Trading Post, detoured over to Desert View Watchtower at the east end of Grand Canyon National Park, then went north to Page. At Glen Canyon Dam, I took photos of sad, receding Lake Powell and found lodging in Page for the night. Dinner was pizza at Strombolli’s Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria. Rating: B.

On Day Nine, I left Page and proceeded to Marble Canyon Lodge and Lees Ferry, then back through Flagstaff and west to Williams. Back in good old Flagstaff for the night, I had fish tacos, homemade chicharróns, and a nice draft at Mother Road Brewing Company. Rating: A-.

On Day 10, I drove north to South Rim Village at Grand Canyon National Park, where I had booked a cabin for two nights at Bright Angel Lodge. That day, I wandered along the rim taking photos of the Big Ditch — the same photos I’ve taken again and again over the years — and paid the obligatory visits to the village gift shops.


My cabin at Bright Angel Lodge.

I planned to have dinner at the Arizona Steakhouse, my favorite GCNP eaterie, but alas, it was open for lunch only. The other main option, the dining room at El Tovar Hotel, requires reservations, and I’m not impressed by El Tovar anyway, so I went to the Maswik Lodge Pizza Pub for a beer and a slice. Rating: maybe a C.

An hour later, unsatisfied by the puny slice, I proceeded to the Bright Angel Tavern and ordered some hot wings and another beer. Rating: B+. I ended the evening happy.

But not for long; the weather, alas, finally turned on me. The forecast for the next few days was for rain at South Rim. The prospect of a day of taking photos in the rain had no appeal, so I went to the front desk and canceled my second night in the cabin. Let some other tourist score a last-minute cancellation.

Later, back at the rim, I was rewarded by my first-ever rainbow at Grand Canyon. This is when you trot out the word awesome, people.

Okay, it was time to head back east. On Day 11, I left the rain behind at Flagstaff and returned east on I-40, back through Winslow, Holbrook, and Gallup, and stopped for the night in Grants, New Mexico. Dinner was a sirloin steak smothered in mushrooms and onions at La Ventana Steaks and Spirits. Rating: A.

On Day 12, I rolled through Albuquerque on I-40 and continued east. The truck traffic soon became too much, so I exited I-40 at Clines Corners and drove south to US 60, which I followed through Encino, Vaughn, Fort Sumner (where I stopped at the Billy the Kid Museum), and Clovis.

I then crossed into Texas and proceeded to Lubbock for the night. Supper was tacos and a draft at the Copper Caboose Restaurant and Sports Grill. Rating: B+.

On Day 13, I continued east on US 82 through Wichita Falls, and on to Paris, Texas, for the night. Dinner was a chopped pork plate at Phat Phil’s BBQ. Rating: A.

On Day 14, I passed through Texarkana and continued east on US 82 across southern Arkansas, crossing the Mississippi River at Greenville. I stopped for the night in Winona, Mississippi, and for supper had a quesadilla at Tequila’s Restaurant. Rating: B+.

On Day 15, I followed US 82 east into Alabama and picked up I-20 in Tuscaloosa. I stayed on I-20 through Birmingham, back into Georgia, on to Atlanta, and north on I-85 to Jefferson. I was home by late afternoon. Supper was a bowl of Nongshim Bowl Noodle Soup, Spicy Shrimp flavor. Always an A.

That final day of the trip was a Saturday, which was nice because weekend traffic in Atlanta usually is less awful than on workdays.

But, no, a wreck on the northern perimeter, I-285, left me trapped in a monumental traffic jam. This was my view of things for, oh, 90 minutes.

Two points in closing:

First, my hat is off to Google for shadowing me 24-7 and documenting my every move so I could reconstruct the trip via the Timeline feature.

Second, Jefferson is a pleasant, peaceful little town. We have just five traffic signals, not counting the four at the loathsome I-85 interchange. Traffic jams around here are rare and brief.

I like Jefferson. Atlanta can go scratch.

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A road trip, one could say, is like a box of chocolates.

I just got home from a two-week road trip to the Southwest, and it was supremely satisfying. All went well. I wandered far, experienced much, and dined lavishly.

Owing to the lavish dining, I returned home five pounds heavier. But I’ve since shed four of the pounds, so…

Looking back on the said box of chocolates, certain memories stand out.

The Coyote

On the morning of Day Eight, I drove north from Flagstaff on US 89 on my way to Page, Arizona. In the community of Bitter Springs on the Navajo Nation, I turned left onto US 89A, which leads north to Marble Canyon, where Navajo Bridge crosses the Colorado River.

As I made the turn, I noticed a large sheep pen beside the highway on the right. The pen was about the size of a tennis court, maybe larger. Inside were 50 to 75 sheep, grazing peacefully.

The enclosure was extra substantial. It was about six feet high, constructed of chain link, and rimmed with barbed wire. This was a serious sheep pen.

And next to the fence, stoically observing the sheep mere feet away, was a coyote.

I slowed down to get a good look. The sheep grazed peacefully, apparently unperturbed. Maybe they were accustomed to the presence of a coyote at the fence line. Or multiple coyotes.

The coyote watched the sheep quietly and never moved. How long he remained there, and whether this was a regular scenario, I can’t say.

But two hours later, when I passed through Bitter Springs again on my way to Page, the coyote had not moved one inch from his post.

Twilight Chat

Usually, when you see a uniformed ranger at a national park, he or she is surrounded by tourists and either answering questions or delivering a lecture.

But late in the evening of Day 10 of my trip, as I strolled along the rim of Grand Canyon at South Rim Village taking photos of a glorious sundown, I came upon a “lone” ranger seated on the retaining wall, quietly taking in the scenery.

She was young and either Hispanic or Native American. As I paused a few steps away to take photos, she said, “I have SO many photos of this place, and I keep taking more.”

“Me, too,” I said. “But I gave up fighting it long ago.”

“Oh, you’re a repeat visitor,” she said. “Are you familiar with some of the landforms out there — Brahma Temple, Zoroaster?”

And that started a 10-minute conversation in which we shared Grand Canyon stories.

I told her about the enlarged photo on my living room wall, taken on the Clear Creek Trail, looking up at Zoro between those massive arms. And about my hike with my sons Britt and Dustin up the “Banzai Route” to Utah Flats on top of Cheops Pyramid.

And about my raft trips and mule trips and backcountry hikes and trips to Phantom Ranch. I told her I’ve now been to Grand Canyon 29 times.

She had done all that and more. Even worked at Phantom for a time.

It’s so gratifying to meet someone who really knows Grand Canyon. Who gets it.

Zoroaster Temple as seen from the Clear Creek Trail.

Two of my favorite observations about life come from Buzz Holmstrom, a filling station attendant from Oregon who, in 1937, built his own boat and rowed it down the Colorado River through Grand Canyon. He is thought to be the first person to run the river solo.

Buzz wrote in his journal that he gained nothing tangible from the trip. His reward was simply in “the doing of the thing.”

Buzz also praised traveling solo. “I know I have got more out of this trip by being alone than if a party was along, as I have more time — especially at nite — to listen & look & think & wonder about the natural wonders, rather than listen to talk of war, politics & football scores.”

A wise man, that Buzz.

This post I wrote some years ago tells more about Holmstrom and his grand adventure. And the journal of his trip is well worth reading.

In my next post, more details about my route and adventures.

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Just Do It

Okay, it’s time. Donald Trump, the disgraceful, traitorous former president, was caught stealing government documents. Attorney General Garland needs to direct his minions to file charges. Just do it.

Here are the facts about Trump, the twice-impeached loser, and the stolen documents.

In August, after a year of politely asking for the return of missing documents, and doing a dance with the Trump lawyers, the FBI finally did the right thing, got a warrant, and raided Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s country club in Palm Beach.

There, FBI agents confiscated 20-odd boxes of documents, among which were over 100 marked secret and top secret, plus a boatload of unclassified files.

All of it was being held illegally. Under the law, when a President leaves office, his documents and emails, all of them, become the property of the US government and must be turned over to the National Archives.

Yes, a judge friendly to Trump wants a “special master” to review the confiscated documents. It was a ham-handed ruling that probably tanked her career. But the fact that Trump stole the material is not in question. He had no legitimate reason to be in possession of any government documents. He stole them.

For a year now, the conversation on the news has been about why Trump took the documents and what he did with them.

Did he sell secrets to the highest bidder? Was his goal to pay debts? Show off? Did classified information end up in the hands of foreign countries? Were people endangered or killed?

Critical questions all, and the answers eventually will surface. But the feds already have enough evidence to charge Trump with stealing the documents. And charge him they should.

Some of the documents confiscated at Mar-a-Lago were so highly classified that the FBI agents who found them needed additional security clearances to process them.

Which is why the Justice Department needs to charge and arrest Trump for theft. DOJ needs to get the process started now. Posthaste. ASAP.

After the filing of charges and the arrest, Trump no doubt would plead not guilty and post bail.

Whether he remains in the US or defects to Russia or Saudi Arabia, his trial should proceed. If he is convicted and sentenced, that’s justice being served, even if he flees and can’t be extradited.

At some point, depending on what their investigation uncovers, DOJ may bring additional charges. They probably will.

Lastly, if Trump’s Nazi goon fans object, well, we have police, national guard, and military forces that can deal with them as appropriate.

File the damn charges.

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Fully Nazified

You may be familiar with the handful of countries — Denmark, Norway, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland — rated highest in terms of health, safety, quality of life, and satisfied citizens.

The US is somewhere down around 20th place. That’s because we excel in other categories: mass shootings, bankruptcies due to medical bills, rate of incarceration, and black people killed by police during traffic stops.

When I was young, I remember thinking I was lucky to have been born an American. I was grateful and proud.

But that was then. Today, the US is a flailing, bumbling embarrassment. Thanks to the right-wing loonies and the wild-eyed, fully-Nazified Republican Party, we’re in the worst shape since the Civil War.

The MAGA crowd learned from Donald Trump, the orange gasbag, that lying and cheating are acceptable options and essentially consequence-free. (According to the records of the Washington Post, Trump lied or made misleading statements 30,573 times while President.)

In this new reality, the efforts of Democrats to play by the rules becomes a waste of time. And we are screwed unless enough normal, decent, rational people start voting en masse for Democrats, and we overwhelm the nutjobs.

In the past, Republicans were, by nature, merely the most cautious and conservative of us. They always were guarded and awkwardly weird, but largely were in touch with their faculties.

Not any more. Conservatives today are fire-breathing extremists whose creepy religious overtones are getting more unsettling. The Republican Party has morphed into a terrorist organization.

These are the people who put Trump, one of the most wretched, crooked, despicable humans alive, in the White House.

Trump is owned by, and financially beholden to, Vladimir Putin. Trump caused the death of one million people by bungling the COVID pandemic. He sent white supremacist goons to storm the Capitol and attempted a literal coup to try to remain President. We all saw it on live television, remember?

Why he isn’t already in prison is a disgrace.

The other bad news lately is about the radicalized Supreme Court and the efforts of right-wing state legislatures to ban abortions. Even when medically necessary. Even when caused by rape or incest.

AND they want to ban women from crossing state lines to get the procedure. AND they want to outlaw contraception. AND they want to end gay marriage.

The bible-thumping, neo-Nazi minority of the country will make our lives miserable, but they won’t win. The rational majority won’t stand for it.

Abortions will continue. Contraception and gay people aren’t going anywhere. Those genies are out of the bottle, folks.

So, what are normal people to do?

Vote. Vote only for Democrats in every election from now on. Do NOT vote for a single Republican in any race, at any level, period, full stop.

If you vote Republican, you reject democracy and embrace fascism.

If you vote Republican, you are no friend of this country. You want to end it.

If you think I’m being alarmist, then let’s talk about the uniquely American epidemic of gun deaths and the right-wing’s depraved obsession with weapons.

When you enter the voting booth, remind yourself that Republicans believe a 10-year-old rape victim should be forced by the government to have the baby, and Democrats think the very idea is appalling, obscene, and monstrous.

It’s that simple.

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Mystery Pig

File this story under “stranger than fiction.”

One recent Saturday, Jake and I went walking at Jefferson Middle School, where he could go off-leash and perform zoomies. Before long, we came upon an unoccupied pickup truck parked on the grass. Next to it was a wire pet cage, empty, door open.

And under the truck, cowering next to a wheel, was a piglet. It was a tiny thing, about six inches high and a foot long. A rope around its neck secured it to the truck.

Jake danced around and snuffled the piglet with great excitement, but didn’t hurt it, because, well, Jake loves all living things. The piglet seemed confused about being licked by a large animal.

Did the truck and the pig belong to someone working inside the school? Was the pig left outside because it wasn’t housebroken? A baffling scenario.

I tried to get Jake to continue our walk, but he wasn’t going anywhere. I allowed him a minute more of snuffling, then hooked up his leash and led him away. Poor Jake. So disappointed.

Why a piglet was tied to a truck next to an open pet cage on the lawn of the middle school that Saturday, I’ll never know.

Tuaregs

The Tuareg people of North Africa, nomads of the Sahara Desert since the 4th Century, are unique among Islamic ethnic groups.

Unlike in most Muslim societies, Tuareg women have high status. They control most of the property, and the lineage of families and clans is traced through the women.

Further, Tuareg men, not women, wear veils. When Tuareg men reach adulthood, they wear the tagelmust, a veil that reveals only the eyes, for the rest of their lives.

The Tuaregs believe the veils protect them from being possessed by evil spirits that enter through the nose and mouth. Why women don’t need the protection, I can’t say.

The concept of evil spirits and veils is, of course, preposterous nonsense. I rank it right up there with belief in a God who is omnipotent and benevolent, yet is okay with widespread starvation, disease, war, and suffering. That should strain anyone’s credulity.

Greek to Me

A while back, on a lark, I bought a copy of Georgia Outdoor News (GON), a monthly magazine about guns, hunting, fishing, and guns. I wanted some reading matter that was different, and GON certainly is that.

Frankly, I detest guns, and I strongly object to hunting and fishing. Guns are an abomination, and stalking and killing animals is making a special effort to be cruel. The articles and ads in GON confirm how callous and sadistic people can be toward other living things.

One particular tip that made me wince was a suggestion to fishermen: slice open your live bait so the blood in the water will attract fish.

But I digress. It was fascinating to get a peek at the world of hunters and fishermen as they talked to each other. For example, a “Fishing Reports” article gave tips on when and where to fish on various Georgia lakes. This is what one guide reported about West Point Lake near Columbus:

The herring population seems to have exploded this year. Try fishing riprap around bridges with spinnerbaits, small crankbaits and Zoom Super Flukes. Try an unweighted merthiolate Zoom Trick Worm or an unweighted Zlinky.

One other pattern is to look for fresh blowdowns with the leaves still on them. Try a Jerkbait or Zoom Super Fluke worked around the outer limbs. Lots of spotted bass are caught by casting Spot Remover heads loaded with Ultravibe Speed Craws.”

I know what riprap and blowdowns are, but otherwise, that’s just word salad. An experienced fisherman probably would get the message loud and clear.

I hope so. Better to use a Jerkbait or Zoom Super Fluke than to slice open your live bait.

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