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Friday, July 6, 2018

Tourmageddon.

Idle hands do the devil's work, right? What about idle minds? Are they commandeered by some other malevolent agency? Inquiring minds want to know.

We appear to have arrived at the doldrums of summer a bit early here at the abandoned Cheney Hammer Mill in beautiful upstate New York. Just finishing up a stretch of 90-degree plus days, some of them feeling over 100 degrees with the humidity. When it gets like that, we go subterranean - down into the cavernous basement of the mill, where it's about 30 degrees cooler and wherein we have built an alternative habitat of sorts. Makeshift furniture made of bits and bobs. Marvin (my personal robot assistant) has a charging station set up down there. It's a big, dank, windowless home away from home, perfect for summer staycation.

Okay, I'm exaggerating. It's anything but perfect. It's drab as hell and it reeks down here. Even worse, there's nothing to freaking do except scratch on the walls and think about shit. That's where the idle minds come in. I don't remember if it was my idea or someone else's, but at some point we got to talking about how we haven't done a tour in years, why that was the case, and where we would go if we decided to go on the road again. Before we knew it, we were scratching out the rough outline of a 40-city tour, using a sharp piece of slate on the cellar wall. I say rough because Anti-Lincoln can't tell the difference between Jupiter and Saturn - he keeps mixing them up, putting the rings around the wrong one. You may think that's a detail, but once you're out in interplanetary space, these details matter.

Io, Lincoln? I don't know ... Okay, so .... here's the hole we dug ourselves into, at least on paper (or, rather, concrete). Two weeks of engagements in the greater Jovian system - you know, the Great Red Spot, then on to Io, Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto (we limit ourselves to the Galilean moons because, well, they're more well-rounded). As stop-over at Saturn and Titan (always a lively show). Then from there, straight out of the solar system, assuming we can rent a vessel that will handle interstellar travel. Our mad science adviser Mitch Macaphee says he knows a guy. We'll see about that.

I must confess - I'm not sold on this idea, but if it keeps my colleagues content for a couple of weeks, there will be peace in the basement. And when the heat wave breaks, then maybe I can talk them out of another tourmageddon.

Bad alliance.

We started this week with some news flash about North Korea expanding its uranium enrichment capability. NBC talking heads were all on the job, rolling out the standard script on how the North Korean commies can't be trusted, how they've done this with successive U.S. administrations from Clinton forward, and how they've rolled a feckless president Trump by flattering him, gaining a massive concession - essentially, the prestige of a summit with the U.S. president - in exchange for nothing. There's broad agreement on this point on MSNBC, for example, meaning that everyone on the network who detests Trump, from National Review editors to Democratic party strategists, are saying roughly the same thing.

With friends like these ...What emerges is the same bipartisan consensus that has driven bad foreign policy decisions through administrations of both parties for as long as I've been alive (and, in truth, longer). It feels to me very much like the assholes vs. the fuckers, and while I certainly don't want the fuckers running everything, it's hard to support the assholes and maintain my self-respect. Now, before someone accuses me of Jimmy Dore-like animus toward strategic voting (note: I always vote strategically, specifically to avert the avoidable and wholly predictable disaster that's unfolding right now), I do have a slight preference for the assholes. But what we need is a radically new approach to national security and international relations - one that would make all of those pundits shake their heads.

This means more than simply not getting ourselves into "stupid" wars. This involves a deeper realization that we do not have the right to launch wars of choice under any circumstances. Radical change means a foreign policy that focuses on what's good for people both inside and outside of our national borders, not just what's good for U.S. based corporations and the rich people who own them. It means saying goodbye to the notion of an American empire and winding down the military machine, diverting resources to domestic economic security and international disaster relief efforts. It means owning the darker chapters of our history and being accountable for them as a nation.

Whatever we do in the short term to stanch the bleeding of this increasingly autocratic administration, we must keep a sharp vision in mind of where this country should go and seek to articulate that vision to our friends, our families, our co-workers, our neighbors, and strangers we meet.  If we overcome our short-term problems in part by making common cause with people we disagree with, it's essential that we keep our eye on a better future ... one that they may not want at all.

luv u,

jp