A Prisoner of Paper

Ed Raymond

One Day In The Life Of A News Junkie  

A column or two ago I used Alexandr Solzhenitsyn’s novel “One Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovich” to paint a picture of Stalin’s reign of terror in the 1940s. He served an eight-year sentence in the slave-labor gulags across Russia for writing derogatory comments about Stalin in letters to friends, so he knew all about totalitarian oppression and survival in the absolutely brutal conditions. In contrast, I am an addicted slave to news each day. Each morning I scour The Forum, Minneapolis Tribune, Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, and various other outlets depending upon what’s hot and what’s not. In contrast to Solzhenitsyn, I’m having the time of my life each day. I decided to cover short hot stuff for this column.  

On King Donald

I discovered this letter in the Star Tribune by Bill Dix of St, Francis, Minnesota. I have read thousands of critiques of The Chosen One by famous pundits, but this one is the hottest I have ever read: “We fight him, we correct him, we argue with him, we reject him, we despise him, we pray for him, we analyze him and, finally, we turn him off and become quiet. Maybe now is the time we should climb up on the rooftop and scream, repeatedly, to all of America, that they are committing suicide, killing their democracy and their country, refusing to be ‘We The People’ forming a more perfect union. This is not about your damned rights, this is about the life and death of our republic. We thump the Bible, we thump the Constitution, we ignore history, we make war not peace, and day after day, we strain gnats and swallow camels.” Bill should get the Pulitzer Prize for this one paragraph.  

On Climate Change

The Washington Post covered this historic storm named Dennis formed by two hurricanes that merged in the North Atlantic. It was likely the largest storm ever stretching from Britain to Iceland and into the Gulf of Mexico for over 5,000 miles. Waves in the North Atlantic soared over 100 feet high, making it a “ship-sinking” cauldron. Winds in central Britain reached 87 miles per hour while several inches of rain flooded land, cancelled all flights--and stopped trains. An “atmospheric river” formed from the storm brought bad weather to our Midwest! Climate change deniers, put this one in your brain. Meanwhile 500,000 mussels on a New Zealand beach died of the heat on a very hot sunny day at a noon low tide.  

On Inequality—And Homelessness

A very rich Saudi Arabian from the poverty-stricken Middle East bought a LA 56,500 sq. ft. home , larger than our White House, for $120 million, which is not the most expensive house sold in LA this year. The house includes a two-lane bowling alley, a wine cellar big enough for thousands of bottles, a tasting room, a catering kitchen, a gym, and a beauty salon. The property also has a tennis court, swimming pool, a large formal garden, a circular motor court and space to park 100 limousines. Meanwhile LA has about 65,000 homeless each night. Each California school day sees 263,000 homeless students—and the United States has 1.5 million each day.  

On Injured Brains—And The Lack Thereof

When we smoked Iranian General Suleimani in Baghdad with a drone on January 8, the Defense Department said at first none of our troops were hit by a retaliatory missile strike on an Air Force base. But after one week—11. After two weeks—34. After three weeks—50. After four weeks—109. Brain injuries are certainly hard to spot. King Donald, who evidently has been severely brain-damaged since birth--and speaking on a subject he knows nothing about, said: “I don’t consider them very serious injuries relative to other injuries I have seen.” The problem is we still do not have a procedure which determines whether an injured person has a traumatic brain injury (TBI). The military has estimated that our troops have suffered 350,000 brain injuries since 2001 in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars because of all the explosive ordnance used. Some of the 109 have been returned to duty while others may never recover. Only time and discoveries will tell.  

On School Lunches

Glad to see the Fargo School Board finally got out of the “shaming” business of denying lunches and sending collection agencies after impoverished parents. Why the richest nation in the world does not supply all K-12 students with school lunch is beyond me. Most civilized countries treat children like valuable additions to the family of man instead of back-alley orphans.  

On Impeachment and Acquittal

Sometimes minorities should not get their way. Senators elected by 69 million Americans voted to convict King Donald while senators elected by 57 million voted for acquittal. Representatives who voted for impeachment were elected by 38.5 million citizens while representatives who opposed impeachment were elected by 32 million.  

On Religious Health Care

The leaders of the Hindu religion in India have suggested they have the cure for the coronavirus sweeping China and threatening the world. In that the cow is revered by Hindus and they refuse to use its meat, the leaders suggest that cow urine has many life-giving qualities and may be the solution to the problem. They also suggest rubbing cow dung on the body while chanting ‘om namh shivay’ will probably save many people. I wonder if the Vatican and the evangelical Christians have come up with treatments. The Vatican might try virus exorcisms while “Christians” like Franklin Graham and Jerry Falwell sponsor curses for “born again” viruses.  

On Being Almost Guilty and Almost Innocent

In the case of Susan Bala and her legal problems surrounding parimutual wagering and bets on racing horses, she had her conviction overturned by the 8th Circuit Court which said “the government failed to prove any of the offenses charged.” That sounds pretty conclusive, but U.S. Attorney Drew Wrigley, who was her prosecutor, said she “likely violated’ provisions of North Dakota law.” For some strange reason I believe that if her conviction was overturned because no charge was proven, she should be declared innocent as the driven snow. Since when is someone “almost guilty” or “almost innocent?” When did juries and courts come up with that? What should the punishment and pleasure be for such a condition? Perhaps 3½ days in jail and 3½ days at famous resorts? When Bumble said the “law is an ass” (I think he included lawyers!), he had a point.  

On Border Walls and Crossings

I see The Chosen One is trying to get many billions to erect his “fantastic” wall along the border. Heck, why not just send the bill to Mexico.? Evidently the guy who calls himself “THE GREAT BUILDER” was really pissed when a 37 mile-an-hour wind blew down a big section of new wall the other day. I suppose FOX News called it a 137 mile-an-hour wind. The drug cartels have used submarines, airplanes, drones, trucks, cars, boats, ships, tunnels, donkeys, goats, and humans to transport drugs across the border. I imagine Tesla reusable rockets will be used next. The last tunnel discovered in January was a doozy at 4,300 feet long, 70 feet below the surface, and complete with rail system, ventilation system, electrical cables, an elevator, and drainage systems. Even with all those efforts, the Border Patrol admits that probably 90% of the drugs crossing the border come through at ports of entry. If there is something more stupid than a border wall these days, please e-mail me.  

On National Park Funding

The superrich and our plutocrats own their privates estates and parks so they are not interested in keeping our national parks in repair for us common folk. Consequently, the estimate for deferred maintenance and construction has now reached $12 billion. Instead of fixing everything, the House has put together a bill (The Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act) to do only $6.5 billion worth—over five years! The bill has 329 House sponsors and 43 Senate sponsors. Corky and I have visited 90% of our national parks and have noticed the decay in many of them. Over 80% of Americans favor spending the $12 billion. With all that support, Congresspersons are sitting on worn-out asses doing nothing about it. My dad had a favorite expression for people like that: “They are as useless as teats on a boar.”  

On NASCAR’s Daytona

It was fascinating to watch all the right-wing Trumplicans at Daytona cheering The Chosen One in the “Beast” leading the cars around the track---all turning left. I heard a rumor that NASCAR was considering modifying all car racing facilities so cars on the track had to make politically-correct right-hand turns….(Will they move steering wheels to the right side?)  

On Second Amendment Sanctuaries

I see several rural counties in Minnesota have become a “Second Amendment Dedicated County” to the rapturous applause of supporters. I seem to recall a mass shooting near there about 15 years ago that wiped out nine people. The population of Roseau County is about 16,000 give or take. The American Psychiatric Association says about 6% of Americans go bonkers every year. That means that about 900 Roseau residents will become nutcases. Not every nutcase will grab an AR-15 and fire at will—but a few always do. These counties are also opposed to “red flag” laws. Florida passed a red flag law after the Parkland massacre of 17. Since then the law has been used to keep 3,500 nutcases from grabbing their weapons and committing atrocities. Sounds like a good deal for the general public who has to duck. What are the sanctuary limits? What about a 105 howitzer to protect a sanctuary county? Maybe a 4.2 mortar? Is it OK that 140,000 Americans are killed and wounded each year by firearms? Is that a reasonable price to pay for your firearms?                                                                                                

On A Major Nutcase

The World Mental Health Coalition, an association of mental health professionals, sent a letter to Congress on February 7 about King Donald’s mental health containing the following recommendation: “Under well-established principles of justice in the United States, a defendant who is not mentally competent to stand trial cannot be tried. We believe that Donald John Trump should not have been tried for impeachable offenses because of his apparent mental incapacities. While the Senate chose not to have witnesses, we believe that a witness who could confirm the president’s mental competence was mandatory, and therefore, in its absence, the Senate must throw out any trial results. Most of his tweets reveal a serious level of dysfunction, while others seem to carry the potential to incite violence.” The Manual of Mental Disorders used by mental health specialists to identify mental incompetence clearly labels The Chosen One as a dual sociopath-psychopath. He fills all 15 criteria for that mental disorder. If he is not nuts, then he is a vicious, vindictive, despicable, disgusting, ignorant, cowardly, pathetic jerk. Why did he attack 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, the Swedish climate change phenom and a victim of Asperger’s syndrome? Because she was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.” A psycho reacton.