DANGEROUSLY MISGUIDED SOULS

July 15, 2020

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Paula and I took our folding chairs and a thermos of wine to Monument Beach Sunday evening to enjoy the cooling breeze at the end of a sticky day. We watched in astonishment as about 50 people gathered for a religious service. They stood shoulder to shoulder, hugging, kissing, and shaking hands, while singing and shouting out words of praise. Only three wore masks, and they were taunted for being “afraid of the virus”.

My first reaction was that we were witnessing a convention of truly stupid people. But they were not stupid. These were decent, caring souls obviously enjoying close bonds with each other. They may not have mastered the art of critical thinking, and may have difficulty separating myth from reality, but they were not stupid.

More likely, they have been dangerously misinformed by a president whose every utterance contravenes reality, and by the conservative propaganda machine of talk radio and Fox News. They obviously think that the viral pandemic has either been contained or was overhyped by the press for political purposes. Maybe they truly believe that their religion protects them from harm.

Regardless of their beliefs, these people pose a severe threat to each other and to everyone else. They shop at the same stores as us, handle the same gas pumps, touch the same ATMs, and open the same doors. Perhaps they will see the light when one of them dies or suffers severe organ damage from the virus. But then it will be too late—too late for them and for the rest of us whom they have touched.


A BLEAK VIEW OF OUR ECONOMIC FUTURE

June 24, 2020

Given a preference, I would choose to write an upbeat story of an economy strongly rebounding from the effects of the Coronavirus shutdown. Unfortunately, I see nothing but huge red flags and apparent naïveté in the news, in Washington, and on Wall Street. Couple that with the mind-boggling economic incompetence and crippling trade policies of the current administration, and the immediate future looks dire indeed.

Let’s start with the health care system, which has been overwhelmed by the need to treat hundreds of thousands of Covid-19 patients, many of whom have limited or no insurance. The high demand for emergency services has forced most hospitals to postpone profitable elective tests and surgeries. At the same time, they have furloughed administrative personnel while paying overtime to front-line workers. Without massive bailouts from the Federal government, all but the largest hospitals will surely be forced into bankruptcy.

Then there is the travel industry. When the shutdown hit, air travel volume dropped 95%. Thousands of planes were parked on runways. Airlines that accepted federal bailout funds kept flying empty planes simply to keep people employed. Aircraft manufacturers shut down plants in the face of cancelled orders for new planes. Some flyers are returning, but it could be years before all the idled planes are flying again. In the meantime, expect more bankruptcies in a business that operates on slim margins.

The travel restrictions have also crippled hotels, resorts, and cruise ships. As with the airlines, these businesses are still paying for— and carrying maintenance costs of—massive infrastructure, while seeing no money coming in. Hertz has already declared bankruptcy; others are sure to follow. Bars and restaurants tend to come and go rather quickly even in good times; many if not most will not survive the shutdown.

Other small businesses, especially retail outlets, will not be reopening. Traditional retail outlets were struggling before the shutdown; some of the biggest have already folded and many more will follow. Independent contractors working for ride sharing companies have involuntarily joined the ranks of the millions of unemployed workers that will soon be defaulting on rent, mortgages, credit cards, and car payments.

Throughout all the economic chaos, the wolves of Wall Street continue to play their games of imaginary money and obscene wealth accumulation, seemingly oblivious to the economic realities of the real world. The combination of extraordinarily high unemployment, unprecedented federal debt, drastically reduced consumer spending, and widespread bankruptcies, will soon force a reality check on bankers, insurers, and speculators, likely resulting in massive stock selloffs.

In short, our society will not be returning to normal any time soon—possibly never. Instead, expect a new normal that is far less materialistic and with less economic disparity. The Coronavirus pandemic has exposed the flaws in our government, our health care, our social systems, and our economy. New systems will eventually evolve that are far more equitable and workable. They just can’t come soon enough for some of us.


KAYAKS ARE NOT TOYS

May 27, 2020

Sixteen years ago, my friend Martha and I were paddling our kayaks on Little Bay in Monument Beach. We had just finished a picnic lunch on Toby Island when we saw another kayaker in trouble. He had apparently foundered and was desperately trying to get back into his boat, but it kept rolling on him. There was a brisk wind that day, and the water was choppy.

We quickly put on our life jackets and launched our boats. It didn’t take long to reach the young man, who appeared to be in his teens. We had recently completed a day-long self-rescue class and knew what to do. While Martha grabbed the boy’s boat and paddle, I instructed him to hug the bow of my boat by wrapping his arms and legs around it. I explained how doing that would allow him to catch his breath and rest while stabilizing my kayak for what I had to do.

Martha had maneuvered the boy’s kayak perpendicular to mine, with the bow at my side. I lifted the upside-down boat to drain the water from the cockpit, then flipped it upright and brought it alongside my boat, bow to stern. I told the boy to swim around to the other side of his boat and, with one swift kick, to pull himself up and lie across both boats.

He then was able to turn and slip back into his boat, while I held it firmly from flipping. Martha handed him his paddle, and as he sat there looking somewhat stunned and probably wondering what just happened, we wished him well and paddled off, feeling like a pair of superheroes in our black wetsuits. The whole ordeal probably took no more than five minutes.

I recalled this adventure recently while reading about the woman who drowned while kayaking off the outer Cape shore. It reminded me of the many times, while paddling with a group of experienced kayakers, we would encounter people in plastic boats, with no life jackets or other protective gear, blissfully heading toward a line of rocks or a dangerous rip current.

Kayaking is a wonderful recreational activity. It’s a low-impact exercise that, when done right, will not strain muscles and provides a nearly ideal cardiovascular workout. Many of the kayakers that I paddle with are well into their 70s or older. My late friend Ralph Upton was still paddling at 94 in a boat he built when he was 85.

It is not without risks, however. A rogue wave or powerboat wake can suddenly flip your boat, so you need to know how to exit safely while upside down and how to get back in even if you are alone. You also need to be aware of wind, wave, and weather conditions. You need to know how to brace your boat against beam seas and how to launch or land in surf.

If you paddle in areas where power boats and sailboats abound, you need to know the nautical rules and understand that you may not even be visible to those sailors. If water temperatures are below 60 degrees, a T-shirt and bathing suit will not protect you from hypothermia; you need a wetsuit for that. And sun reflected off the water dramatically increases your chance of sunburn. Smart paddlers wear broadbrimmed hats and gobs of lotion.

Cape Cod is a kayaker’s paradise, with many lakes, estuaries, and protected harbors. Once you try it, you will surely come back for more. In short, kayaking is great fun but kayaks are not toys.


COFFEE SNOB

March 12, 2020

I became a coffee snob about 40 years ago. It began when I was first diagnosed with hypertension and found a correlation between coffee consumption and blood pressure. I found I could tolerate one cup per day so I became very fussy about that one cup.

I did all the right things. I bought recently roasted whole Arabica beans and ground them just before brewing. I used Melita cones and poured over water just short of boiling temperature. It was only recently, however, that I realized that most of these sacred actions have little if any effect on the taste of the coffee, but that one thing I did not do trumps everything else.

The one thing I did not do is use a burr grinder. Why, I reasoned, should I spend $100+ on a burr grinder, when my $11 Krups grinder worked just fine. Now, in the twilight of life, I know better. As our clueless president would say “Nobody knew it would make that much of a difference.”

I still buy premium coffee beans from a subscription service that ships them out the day they are roasted. And I continue to grind the beans just before I brew them with the Melita pour-over, but I do those things more out of habit than necessity now.

I really cannot taste much difference between beans roasted yesterday and those roasted a couple of months ago. I have also come to realize that coffee often tastes better if the first pour is steamy, not the so-called ideal of 195 degrees Fahrenheit.

As for the beans, I like any of the varietals grown on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro best. I have tried the rare and outrageously expensive Hawaiian Kona and Jamaican Blue Mountains beans, and quite frankly rate them on a par with Dunkin’s. My taste favors beans from Burundi, Kenya, and Tanzania.

The one overriding secret to great coffee, though, is the burr grinder. I set mine to grind just a tad courser than medium. The burr grinder produces a far more even grind than a blade grinder, which produces a wide range of particle sizes. This is important. The very find grounds tend to get more thoroughly saturated and their small size slows the brewing process, resulting in a bitter taste no matter the bean.

Burr-ground beans brew faster and produce a noticeably smoother coffee. So, I say save your money and buy coffee beans that you like from the supermarket. Try to find some that were roasted within the past 60 days. Avoid the sales prices, as they tend to be older. Peet’s House Blend is probably 90% as good as any specialty beans at half the price. Use the money you save on beans to buy a good quality burr grinder.


A DEMOCRATIC TEAM CONCEPT

(I wrote this piece on February 6, 2020 and sent it to the Cape Cod Times, but the Times did not publish it. On February 25, the New York Times published an op-ed by Thomas Friedman advocating the same team concept, with many of the same assignments that I proposed.)

You might think that Donald Trump would be easy to defeat in November, given the rampant corruption and mind-boggling incompetence of his administration. The Democrats have a broad choice of candidates, any one of whom would be a capable president. Unfortunately, not one of them seem able to stir the passions of the electorate the way our entertainer in chief does.

Joe Biden is known for his diplomatic skills, but is too closely associated with the old guard that the voters rejected last time. Bernie Sanders has an enthusiastic following among young voters, but sits too far left for their elders. Pete Buttigieg is highly intelligent, logical, and well-spoken, but lacks experience at the national level.

Elizabeth Warren has been an effective senator, but comes across as preachy. Amy Klobuchar and Tulsi Gabbard may be too middle of the road to stir things up and make the changes needed in our national government. Andrew Yang is brilliant but too removed from mainstream thinking to be president. Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer are seen as just two more billionaires looking to feed their egos.

What if, instead of each running for the top spot and losing, this group of able candidates ran as a unified administrative team? Let Bloomberg take the lead. He has a presidential bearing, speaks well, and brings proven executive experience in both public service and private enterprise. Give the vice-presidency to Klobuchar, and assign Buttigieg as chief of staff.

Have Sanders revive the old Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, but change the name to Department of Social Advancement. Biden should be Secretary of State; Warren Attorney General; and Steyer Treasury Secretary. Gabbard could be Secretary of Defense, and Yang could head the National Security Council. Bring Jay Inslee back to run Interior, Julian Castro to head Homeland Security, and Marianne Williamson as an authentic spiritual advisor.

This would be a team of intelligent and compassionate leaders who could be trusted to act in the best interests of the vast plurality of Americans who have been ignored or disenfranchised by the current administration. It would include enough people of wealth that they could restructure our tax and budget priorities without threatening our capitalist system or destroying our economy.

They could shift our defense priorities away from building the war machinery we wish we had in 1942 and toward defeating the digital intrusions that pose a real danger today. That one move alone would save enough money each year to pay for the needed social programs.

Most importantly, this team could reestablish the international credibility and respect for our country that has been so brutally squandered by Trump and his henchmen. We have the means to create a balanced economy that brings prosperity to all, protects our freedoms, and serves as a model for the rest of the world.

Running as a unified team would consolidate fund-raising, eliminate the tendency of Democrats to attack each other in the proverbial circular firing squad, and remove the need for voters to struggle with deciding which candidate to back. They are each very good at a particular role of governing; let them do what they do best.

While this may be too radical a concept to be taken seriously, we might need to begin thinking way outside the box to get this country back on track. Our government is currently broken and needs a fundamental restructuring to work by today’s standards and meet today’s needs. We just need a team of honest leaders to bring it together.


2020 PREDICTIONS

January 7, 2020

If you thought 2019 was a rough year, hold onto your seat. This year will double down on craziness. The United States government and the economy are both much closer to complete collapse than the news would lead you to believe. The November election will determine not just who will be the next president, but whether our country becomes a true democracy, continues as a plutocracy, morphs into a Christian theocracy, or devolves into a dictatorship.

There is a strong possibility that Donald Trump will be deposed before the election. He will continue to flaunt the rule of law, the constitution, and international standards until enough Republicans realize they must act to constrain him. The effects of his disasterous tariffs will begin to show in rising consumer prices across the board, and his triggering of a middle east war will push gas prices back up to the four dollar per gallon level. There is also a growing possibility that he will succumb to his poor eating and living habits, mental deterioration, or an Iranian assassin.

If he makes it to November, he could lose the popular vote by tens of millions but still retain the presidency, as he did the first time, by collecting enough electoral college votes. The Republican party has developed an extraordinarily effective propaganda machine, led by Fox News and backed up by hundreds of talk radio gasbags spreading lies, conspiracy theories, and misinformation. The Russians will continue to aid and abet this operation. At the local level, the combination of extreme gerrymandering, corrupt Diebold voting machines, and flagrant voter suppression will continue to make it difficult to compile honest results.

There is also a growing possibility that Trump will deploy nuclear weapons on Iran or North Korea, then declare a state of emergency and cancel the election. As this scenario becomes increasingly apparent, however, I believe even his most dedicated acolytes in the senate will step in to stop him.

Watch for a wild card: some event so out of the ordinary that nobody could have seen it coming. Trump’s election was such an event; there is likely to be another. Our world is changing rapidly and will eventually emerge a better place to live. But first the old ways of governing, the old economic truths, and the millennium of barbaric terrorism and war all must self-destruct. It could happen this year. To paraphrase an ancient Chinese curse, we do in fact live in interesting times.


SPEAKING SPIRITUAL TRUTH TO POWER

(Published on the editorial page of The Cape Cod Times on July 26, 2019. This piece was subsequently picked up by Marianne Williamson’s campaign committee and posted on her Facebook page, where it received more than 1000 likes and loves, and 250+ comments.)

Something most unusual happened at the first Democratic presidential debate. It was not only the number of women on stage, and it was not only the broad cultural and ethnic diversity among the candidates, although both of these are unusual by historic standards. What was most unusual this time was to have a candidate speaking spiritual truth to power.

Marianne Williamson, an author and activist, will not be our next president; she may not make it to the second round of debates. But she has broken new ground in political discourse by proposing a government of love instead of leadership by fear. Love and its opposite, which is fear, are probably the two most fundamental human emotions.

Hatred of others arises from fear, while compassion for others is the ultimate expression of love. Ms. Williamson has basically—in the simplest terms—defined the difference between Trump Republicans and the rest of the country: one group is motivated primarily by fear and hatred, while the rest of us are more likely to be compassionate in our thinking and behavior.

This has nothing to do with religion; there is already too much religion in politics. A large portion of the Trump Republican base profess to be Christians, but their beliefs, words, and actions directly contradict the teachings, words, and actions of Jesus Christ. Throughout history, religion has been the cause of conflict, while truly spiritual people have always sought peace.

What is now emerging is a fundamental truth that is understood by a growing number of people. That fundamental truth is that our planet is undergoing a monumental shift from two millennia of violent conflict, tribal thinking, and cultural differences. We are slowly but inevitably moving into a new paradigm of thinking and acting cooperatively, peacefully, and compassionately.

This shift frightens many, especially those who have benefitted from war, corruption, and the suppression and exploitation of others. It also scares people who have become comfortable with the old ways because that is all they know.

The political center is gone. There can be no more fence-sitting. Every individual now must make the choice to either strive toward an enlightened life of unity and compassion or to cling desperately to the old dark energy of fear and violence. The shift will not happen quickly. It may take several generations before the old thinking dies off enough to be replaced by the rule of peace, cooperation, and love envisioned by Ms. Williamson.

In the meantime, it is refreshing to see that we have at least progressed to the point where an intelligent, thoughtful, and articulate woman can stand on the same stage with members of the old guard and confidently state that every being on this planet is in this together, and that we need to stop fighting and begin working cooperatively for the benefit of all.


WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2019

December 19, 2018

It’s been a few years since I’ve posted my annual predictions. The 2012 shift in planetary energy has disrupted so many once-predictable trends and tossed in so many wild card events, that any attempt to predict outcomes would be no more than wild guesses.

New trends are beginning to surface, however, and some events now appear inevitable. They include major collapses in half a dozen institutions, and the emergence of a few progressive ideas that seem to have found a toe-hold in our collective consciousness.

Watch for the Trump administration, Wall Street, big pharma, big banks, the NRA, and what’s left of the Republican Party to suffer major failures. These failures are all interrelated and will build on each other. This will be a year of turmoil that will leave everyone reeling and fearful for the future.

Trump will be removed from office but, based on his past performance, is not likely to accept a plea deal and go quietly. He may have to be forcibly ejected from the White House. He will then be tried on multiple charges ranging from tax fraud to treason and could become the first U.S. President to go to jail.

Vice President Pence and members of the Trump family who have participated in the administration will all strike plea deals and resign to avoid prosecution in the face of overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing. The resulting turmoil will create a constitutional crisis that may take years to resolve.

Expect a devastating stock market collapse as the institutions unravel. The fundamentals of the economy are now strong enough to withstand a major correction, but everyone will feel the economic shock, and we are not likely to see anything resembling fiscal normalcy for a long time.

It will not be entirely bad news, though. All of the failing institutions have become too big, too powerful, and too corrupt. They are not being destroyed by outside forces; they are collapsing from their own actions. In their place we will see the first buds of compassionate society beginning to emerge.

Watch for the women in Congress to initiate unprecedented actions to restore order and change the direction of the federal government. Despite the turmoil, 2019 will see the beginnings of serious efforts to provide universal health care, equitable distribution of wealth, fair elections, and recognition that intelligence, competence, morality, and compassion are all essential requirements for individuals in leadership positions.


WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO OUR POLITICAL PARTIES?

July 4, 2018

What has happened to our political parties? The Republican Party of my youth is D.O.A.— an apparent suicide. And the Democratic Party needs immediate intensive care if it is to survive.

Despite having a minority of voters, the Republican Party has maintained power by nurturing a highly motivated base that turns out to vote. It has effectively manipulated the system through extreme gerrymandering, voter suppression, outright fraud, and control of the Supreme Court. And it is supported every hour of every day by a highly effective propaganda network, led by Fox News and abetted by a large cadre of talk radio gasbags.

The result is a party so lacking in governing ability, responsibility, ethical standards, and compassion, that it cannot continue to rule a country of basically decent people. Moderate Republicans and fiscal conservatives may eventually salvage the party but might have to start a new one to retain any voice in national government at all.

At the state and local level, the Republicans continue to do well. They control a majority of governorships and state legislatures. Even ultra-blue Massachusetts has frequently elected competent Republican governors like Bill Weld, Mitt Romney, and Charlie Baker. None of them would fit in, however, with the cadre of deplorables that has taken over the national government.

The Democratic Party, on the other hand, seems to have totally lost all contact with its base. It continues to cling to the old boy way of doing things, while its electorate storms off in another direction. It reminds me of an old political cartoon of a man breathlessly asking a bystander which way the crowd went. When asked why, he replied “because I’m their leader.”

If our democracy is to survive, its nominal party needs to take immediate action on three fronts. First, its titular leaders, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Joe Biden, and both Clintons, need to step quietly into the back room and focus on raising money. Second, Bernie Sanders needs to forget about running for anything and continue speaking to students about his vision for the country.

Third, and most importantly, the Democrats need to take a hard left turn. Think Bernie Sanders plus gun control. The new generation of voters is unlike any this country has seen in the past. They understand the futility of belligerence and war. They are more likely to think and act out of compassion than of fear.

The day will eventually arrive when we have no political parties at all. As we leave behind the barbaric millennium, we will begin to elect leaders who think and act in the best interests of the world, not just their political allies.

An overwhelming majority of people across the country wants a government that cares about everyone, not just the rich and powerful. We want good relations with other countries. We want open trade. We want health care and education to be purely public services, not for-profit businesses. We realize that this country was built by immigrants, and that its strength lies in its diversity. We recognize every person as an expression of God on earth, regardless of skin color, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. And most of all we want our votes to count.


A RIDE FOR ANOTHER DAY

June 12, 2018

(This piece was published on the editorial page of the Cape Cod Times July 4, 2019)

As I was bicycling to the end of the Shining Sea Trail in North Falmouth on a beautiful spring day, I imagined what it will be like some time in the future when the trail extends all the way to the canal. I saw the railroad tracks there today used only for the benefit of a private trash hauler and thought how much better that corridor would serve the region as a recreational trail.

Continuing north in my mind, I pedaled over the little bridge crossing Old Main Road and approached the former Cataumet railroad station. I pictured it being a popular gathering place serving not only those who use the trail but also as a year-round neighborhood center.

Crossing Red Brook Road, with Parker’s Boat Yard on my left and the historic Alden house on my right, I soon had two beautiful vistas across Red Brook harbor on one side and Red Brook pond and river on the other. Passing Kingman Yacht Center, I crossed Shore Road on another short bridge and headed toward Pocasset.

Before pedaling alongside the Pocasset Golf Course to the village center, I imagined stopping to rest at a picnic area on the site of the old South Pocasset railroad station. It took no imagination to realize this would be the most scenic rail trail of the many that I have biked throughout the northeast. But the best still lay ahead.

Not far after Barlow’s Landing Road, I envisioned pedaling across the upper reaches of the Pocasset River on the long causeway and trestle. The area east of the trail can only be seen by neighboring homeowners and an occasional paddler. It is so rife with birds and so undisturbed by development that it should be a wildlife preserve.

Continuing under the Shore Road overpass on my imaginary journey, I found a stunning late afternoon view across Little Bay and Toby’s Island. Then I pedaled past Monk’s Park and through the Little Bay Conservation Area, with its shaded trails and abundant wildlife. As I cruised through the former Camp Briarwood, I recalled the many summers that my daughters enjoyed camping there.

Emerging from the shaded path through Briarwood I was greeted by the open vista of Monument Beach and the view across Phinney’s Harbor. As I cruised in my mind to the village center, I saw that the railroad station had become a bustling year-round place of rest and refreshment for both trail users and local residents.

After crossing Back River, I passed the spot at the entrance to the Gray Gables neighborhood where President Grover Cleveland’s private railroad station once stood. That building has been fully restored and moved to a more prominent location near the historic Aptuxet Trading Post.

From here it is just a short ride to the railroad bridge and the western end of the service road along the canal. I could imagine continuing my ride along the canalside path to Sandwich, meandering through the historic village center, and connecting with an extension of the Cape Cod Rail Trail to Provincetown.

But that is a ride for another day, as is the one I just enjoyed in my imagination along the wonderfully scenic and mostly hidden coast of Bourne.


TRUMP’S REAL ACCOMPLISHMENT

January 6, 2018

(This revision of my November 12, 2016 blog was published on the editorial page of the Cape Cod Times on January 29, 2018)

While it is deeply disturbing for many of us to watch the Republican administration wreaking havoc on our nation, and truly scary to have such an incompetent president, it could be that the last election turned out exactly as it should have.

A win by either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would have meant four more years of congressional gridlock, endless investigations, and inability to get anything meaningful accomplished. Both Republicans and Democrats would continue the divisive politics that have made such a mess of our national government.

Instead we have Republicans running amok, viciously and blindly undoing any social and economic progress made over the past half century, while at the same time shamelessly doing the bidding of their financial backers.

The reality is that our government leadership has become essentially ineffective, benefitting only a small cadre of extraordinarily wealthy individuals. The election process has indeed been rigged to negate the will of the majority by manipulating voter access and flooding the news and social media with propaganda presented as fact.

The supposedly representative Congress not only does not represent the will of a plurality of the population, but blatantly acts against their best interest. And the Supreme Court has become so politicized that many of us no longer trust its judgement. We needed an outsider to barge in and tear things apart.

Obsolete institutions and policies cannot be destroyed by their rivals but must collapse of their own weight and irrelevance. Now that they are no longer the opposition party, the Republican leaders are showing that they have neither the ability nor the desire to actually govern, and need to be replaced.

As a nation, we are learning some crucial truths. We are finding it’s important to elect a president who is intelligent, well-informed, and emotionally stable. We are seeing that competence counts, knowledge counts, discernment counts, and morality counts. Most of all, compassion counts.

The Sanders campaign showed us that the generation now moving into adulthood wants a government that serves the best interest of all its people, not just the rich and powerful. They understand that the most basic role of government is not to rule the world through military and industrial might. Rather, it is to assure that no child goes to bed hungry; and that everyone has access to affordable health care, quality education, adequate housing, and the opportunity to use their talents and abilities.

Donald Trump has made a mockery of this nation’s highest office and appointed a team of department heads who are clearly bent on disbanding their agencies. He is draining the swamp by filling it with alligators. As a result, he has awakened a whole new constituency of voters who have not been paying attention or participating in the political process before.

The mid-term election coming up could see the largest voter turnout ever recorded. This insurgency is likely to overcome any Republican efforts to suppress votes or distort the results. Expect to see a flood of women replacing men at all tiers of government and in both major parties. They will inject a new level of cooperation and sanity into the governing process.

For decades we have seen a growing division between the rich and everyone else, with no concern shown for those who actually create the wealth through their hard work. Now, even the most unenlightened voters are beginning to see that their best interest lies not in the divisive politics of the past, but in the compassionate policies of the future.


POLITICAL SUICIDE

May 5, 2017

Congressional republicans, in a desperate act to appease their core voters, committed mass political suicide yesterday with their plan to kill the Affordable Care Act in order to further enrich their financial backers. They are confident that their plan will die in the Senate, but the damage has already been done.

As I wrote last November, the current government will expose the hypocrisy and mean-spiritedness of the Republican platform and agenda. Repealing the ACA will hit their core voters far harder than any other group, surely awakening some of them to reality.

Even without this desperate act, the Republican Party as we have known it for the past four decades is dead. Moderate and enlightened leaders have largely been driven out of the party. Tens of thousands of Republicans die every day of old age, frustration, or simple stupidity.

A new generation of voters is far more enlightened and compassionate, and will begin with the next election changing the face of American government. Look for the next congress to include more women, more independents, and more progressive thinkers. They will begin the big shift of government priorities from military excess and capital promotion, to expansion of programs that benefit those most in need of help.

Eventually, we will have a society that guarantees free health care, education, and equal opportunity, along with a universal basic income for everyone. Leaders will be chosen by ability, not by party affiliation, and expected to govern in the best interest of all citizens, not just the wealthy. We are a few generations away from that utopian dream, though. For now, all we can do is sit back and watch the Washington carnage.


THE UPSIDE OF A TRUMP WIN

November 12, 2016

All but maybe three or four of the people closest to me have been walking around like the living dead this week. They are shocked, scared, and trying to cope with the concept of a Donald Trump presidency. I too was stunned and depressed at first, and troubled by thoughts of the havoc another Republican administration will wreak on our nation. I have come to realize, though, that this election turned out exactly as it should have.

Don’t get me wrong. My political philosophy sits far to the left of Bernie Sanders; more like that of the Dalai Lama. Bernie would have beaten Trump in a landslide, but that outcome would not have been best for our country either. While I would love to have seen the headline BERNIE BEATS BLOWHARD BIGLY, I know that the euphoria would have been short-lived, as our country is not yet ready for a progressive government.

The reality is that a win by either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would have meant four more years of congressional gridlock, endless investigations, and inability to get anything accomplished. During that time, the Republican party would reorganize and recover, ready to mount a real campaign with a legitimate candidate in 2020.

Instead we can expect four years of Republicans running amok. Trump could be pushed aside, possibly impeached, and run out of town by his own party. Mike Pence and his congressional cronies will then go wild, repealing and undoing any social progress made by the Democrats over the past half century. The next four years will be disastrous for the country, and especially so for the frustrated and disenfranchised voters who made it all happen.

This presidential campaign has torn apart the Republican party and severely crippled the Democratic party. I expect the next four years will see the Republican party we know—and conservative political thinking in general—pretty much finished off; while the Democrats lick their wounds and rebuild as a liberal alternative, following the Sanders model of democratic socialism.

Five years ago I wrote in my book What’s Happening that obsolete institutions and policies cannot be destroyed by their opposition, but must collapse of their own weight and irrelevance. The Republicans now have free rein to demonstrate their lack of either the ability or the desire to actually govern, and the stunning level of mean-spiritedness imbued in their platform.

After four more years of even greater division growing between the rich and everyone else, and no action taken to improve the lot of those who actually create the wealth through their hard work, even the most unenlightened voters might finally see that their best interest lies not in the divisive politics of the past, but in the compassionate policies of the future.