Khizr and Ghazala Khan at the Democratic National Convention, speaking about their son Captain Humayun Khan

Sad and Mad Again

I simply cannot believe that there are more than a handful of voters on the lunatic fringe who can actually bring themselves to vote for Trump, even after his disgusting, disgraceful attacks on the Khan family, whose appearance at the Democratic National Convention was one of the most powerful, moving presentations I have ever seen on television. I feel so sad for them, while I can also see their justified pride in their lost son.

However, I am well aware that there are many of my fellow Americans who, as one put it, plan to “vote with their middle fingers” in November by voting for the GOP nominee. What they do not acknowledge is that by doubling down on their support for him after his insane attacks on the Khan family, they are also giving the middle finger to a Gold Star family that deserves nothing but all Americans’ sympathy, respect and gratitude.

What evil miasma has taken over so many of my fellow citizens? I didn’t think it could get much worse than the lunatics who have repeatedly claimed that the bereaved parents of little children murdered in Sandy Hook Elementary School are actors promulgating a government fraud, and that no one was killed. This may be even worse.

I have never voted a straight party ticket in all my decades as a voter, but I will do so this fall, for the Democratic Party, to send a message to the GOP that their embrace of this wicked charlatan at the top of their ticket is beyond the pale. I hope others do that too.


Goyle losing control of Fiendfyre in the Room of Requirement, in "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows".

The Weekly Vent: Boris Goyle

Brexit, the gift that keeps on giving. So today, Boris Johnson, a politician whose success I have never, ever understood (that hair!), who led the campaign for the UK to leave the EU in a clear attempt to wrest the job of Prime Minister away from his arch-rival David Cameron, announced that sorry, no, he won’t be seeking that job after all. In other words, having unleashed the destructive forces of political and economic chaos, Boris is opting out of the hard work of restoring any kind of order.

And all I could think of was the scene from “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” when Goyle starts the Fiendfyre in the Room of Requirement, thinking he will destroy Harry, Ron and Hermione, and stands there shaking his wand while the fire rages out of control around him, consuming everything in its path. Boris thinks that he and his ambitions will make a clean getaway while everyone else is reduced to ashes, but I wouldn’t be so sure if I were he. Look what happened to Goyle.

Fiendfyre in the Room of Requirement, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Fiendfyre. Image: Warner Bros.



Congressman John Lewis and other House members sitting in on the floor of Congress to demand action on gun safety and gun control.

The Weekly Vent: A Middle-Aged Sit-In

One of my heroes, Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, has had enough with the obfuscation and obstructionism in Congress after so many mass shootings. He is leading a sit-in of fellow members of the House of Representatives. U.S. Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who led the recent filibuster on the same issues in the Senate, has stopped by to offer support. I’m glad elected officials are finally forcing a public conversation, because we just can’t go on like this. You can watch some of the sit-in on CNN.


Candles lit for victims of Orlando shooting at Pulse nightclub, June 2016.

If Martin Niemoller Were Here Today …

If Martin Niemoller were here today …

They shot the high school students. And I didn’t speak out, because I wasn’t a high school student.

Then they shot the college students. And I didn’t speak out, because I didn’t go to college.

They shot the immigrants. And I didn’t speak out, because I’m not an immigrant.

They shot the midnight movie-goers, and the public employees. And I didn’t speak out, because I don’t go to movies at midnight and I’m not a public employee.

They shot the customers at Luby’s and MacDonald’s, and I didn’t speak out because I don’t eat at Luby’s or MacDonald’s.

They shot Parisians and Texans, and I didn’t speak out because I’ve never been to Paris or Texas.

They shot Tunisians and Egyptians and tourists, and I didn’t speak out because I don’t know any Tunisians or Egyptians and I’m not a tourist.

They shot Sikhs and Jews and the Amish, and I didn’t speak out because I’m not a Sikh or Jewish or Amish.

They shot black Christians in church, and I didn’t speak out because I’m not black or Christian and I don’t go to church.

THEY SHOT FIRST-GRADERS AND THEIR TEACHERS, and I didn’t speak out because I’m not a parent or a teacher.

Now they’ve shot Latino/a and LGBT club-goers and I’m not Latinx, or LGBT, and I don’t go to nightclubs.  Who is left to speak? Will I speak out now? Will you?

#NoBillNoBreak #DisarmHate #HateWontWin

The Weekly Vent: Doonesbury Nails It

The comic strips “Doonesbury” and “Bloom County” are having a field day with this primary season, and who can blame them? The debates are like catnip to cartoonists, especially the Republican displays of cartoonish aggression. This Sunday’s “Doonesbury” is especially chortle-worthy: Doonesbury, February 14, 2016.

Doonesbury 21416

© G.B. Trudeau – All Rights Reserved.

Featured image: Reilly Butler/Flickr.

The Weekly Vent: More On Toxic Workplaces

Surprise! Stressful work environments have a measurable negative impact on employees’ health and mortality, as set forth by The New York Times: How Stressful Work Environments Hurt Workers’ Health.

Among the findings:

• Work-family conflict more than doubled the odds of an employee reporting poor mental health and increased the odds of self-reported poor physical health by about 90 percent.
• Job insecurity raised the odds of self-reported poor physical health by about 50 percent.
• Low organizational justice increased the odds of having a physician-diagnosed condition by about 50 percent.
• High job demands raised the odds of a physician-diagnosed illness by 35 percent.
• Long work hours increased mortality by nearly 20 percent.

In addition, unemployment and low job control significantly upped the odds of all of the outcomes, while adverse psycho-social situations at work – lack of fairness, low social support and low job control – were as strongly associated with poor health as concrete factors like long hours and shift work.

Continue reading

The Weekly Vent: I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!

Those of you who, like me, are actually middle-aged probably recognize the tagline for my blog. It’s from the movie “Network”, made in 1976: a satire about the powerful media, mega corporations, financial manipulation and the choice between apathy or engagement. The central figure is middle-aged broadcaster Howard Beale, who restarts his failing network career meteorically as “the mad prophet of the airwaves.” In an iconic scene, he urges his viewers on live TV to go to their windows and shout “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this any more!”

I was a teenager in 1976, and I remember the sense of malaise. We had just come through one “oil crisis” and, though we didn’t know it, were headed for another. We had suffered through Watergate and massive disillusionment. Inflation ran amok and people like my parents, middle-aged at the time, despaired as they saw savings become meaningless and the cost of living seemingly escalate beyond their reach or control. Our great cities were failing. New York City came within a whisker of declaring bankruptcy. The culture wars were brewing and the idealistic flower children of the 1960s had morphed into the narcissistic “Me Generation” of the 1970s. Things were bad.

Since then, some things have gotten better and some have gotten worse. Continue reading

Blog Feature: The Weekly Vent

Our last assignment for Blogging 101: to create a recurring blog feature. Given that this blog is here to function as my anger translator and personal Luther, it wasn’t hard to decide on one. The Weekly Vent.

Here is how Oregon State University explains vents on its site Volcano World: “Vents, of course, are the locations from which lava flows and pyroclastic material are erupted. Their forms and orientations can be used to determine many characteristics of the eruption with which they were associated.” Volcano World: Vents

So here’s the drill: every week, probably on Sunday evenings, I will post about something that made me want to scream that week. You can join me in the comments; comment guidelines apply. The purpose is not to attack, it is to vent. The forms and orientations of my vents can be used to determine what has caused me to erupt, but I promise to keep my sense of humor if you promise to keep yours.

And to those who irritate me: bless your hearts.