Wednesday, December 27, 2017

President Johnson, Third of Her Name

Welcome to the White House! I'm President Johnson, newly appointed. If you're just joining us, I have been given the responsibility of running the free world. There I was, just standing in the school cafeteria, and some very earnest men in dark suits asked me to change professions. Considering that I am never deemed a "distinguished" teacher in any of my evaluations (the best I can eke out is "proficient"), I thought I'd give being president a shot. Maybe I'll be a distinguished president!

I took over a few weeks ago. Do you know how many fabulous perks go with this job? I mean, to someone who already lives in the lap of luxury, the office of president might not be so cushy. To me it's like ... wow! Take Camp David, for instance. There it sits, nestled in the mountains west of Washington, DC, easy to get to, easy to guard, and light on the taxpayer pocketbook. Nice place! So that's were I spent the holidays with my close family. Wow, you should see the tasteful upholstery on the furniture and feel the whisper-soft towels lying in handy piles around the indoor pool. I could get used to living like this!

But now it's back to work. My first order of business has been to veto -- most emphatically -- the new tax bill sent to me by both houses of Congress. They're kidding, right?  Pretty much all this thing does is pay back the donor class and corporations for all the money they've spent on elections for their flunkies. Back to work Congress! First you have to convince me that we need to cut taxes, because what I think we need is to launch a major upgrade of infrastructure ... and that will cost a lot of money.

 Remember when you send me legislation to sign that I'm an appointed president, not an elected one. I'm not beholden to any special interest groups. So there!

Another pressing issue has come to my desk. My predecessor crafted a national defense report that excised climate change as a threat to our nation. Preposterous! You want to see a world in upheaval, just let the globe get hotter and hotter. So I'm restoring climate change as a major source of international tensions, possibly posing real danger for America and her safety.

One final little bit of work today and then I'll kiss some babies and give plaques to Girl Scouts. These judicial nominees being proposed? OUT WITH THE LOT OF THEM! I want a diverse judiciary with lots of experience and no damn political agenda! Either way! They are judges, not partisans. Send me people who have not been endorsed by any think tank anywhere.

For the record, I have a Twitter account, but I do not use it. I don't intend to start.

Also for the record, I don't play golf. I've got nothing particular against it, I would just rather hike.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Solstice 2017

Oh, these dreary days, these long, long nights! We try to push back the darkness by covering our homes with lights and bringing trees inside. And apparently it works, because by this time next week, the daylight will be returning, slowly at first and then in great gobs.

I'm sure all of us would love to go to a henge and see this sight. It's not always possible, though. Well, as luck would have it, there is a way to orient yourself so that you absolutely face the rising sun over Solstice Stonehenge.

Some extremely intelligent individual (not unlike the readers of this blog) has come up with a worldwide map of every single street that aligns with the Stonehenge solstices! Imagine that! You can find the site here.

I used the site to locate my city in North America, and what did my wondering eyes behold? A series of aligned streets are clustered around my school! It's quite a coincidence, too. It's not like Camden's city founders said, "Hey, let's lay our streets out so that, if you face east on winter solstice, you'll line up with Stonehenge! There aren't very many streets in my metro area that fit the bill. What an absolute joy that the little residential streets around the Vo-Tech are among the chosen few!

Snobville has one aligned street, too. If a girl were to get up at 3:00 a.m. to go face east and commune with Stonehenge energy, that Snobville street is closest.

But day to day, while I'm working, what a joy to know that a street I can see from my classroom window aligns with Stonehenge! This boosts my spirits.

A blessed Solstice to you, whatever your path. I hope your street is on the Stonehenge alignment grid.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

We Interrupt This Presidency

It is with deep sorrow that I mark the passing of Beta Cat from the apparent world. She was old, and something went wrong inside, and you know how cats are ... she sat hunched up, eyes scrunched, ear tips cold. I took her to the vet, and they said there was something wrong inside, very wrong indeed. So Olivia came from Philadelphia, and we were both there to say goodbye.

Beta was a real yodeler, so the house is very quiet now. It's hard to even want to be at home. The holidays, never a happy time in my reckoning, will be even harder now.

Presidential duties will resume in a few days.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

President Anne Johnsoon Articulates Her Political Philosophy

My fellow Americans,

You must recall that I did not ask to be spirited away to the White House to become president in the wake of the wreckage known as Donald Trump. I was just minding my own business, standing in the Vo Tech cafeteria, watching students eat breakfast and get ready for their day.

But here I am, and the New York Times wants to know my political philosophy. So, okay, I took one philosophy course in college (pass/fail) and zero political science courses. What do I know? Well, I know more than the guy I'm replacing ... but that's a low bar indeed.

This is how I feel about democracy:

Democracy is ideally a rule by the citizens of the republic, through elected officials who compete for votes on ideological -- not personal -- grounds. In order for a democracy to work, you need two solid ingredients:

*an educated electorate, and
*a system that is free from financial taint

I would say our electorate is fairly well educated (could be better). But our system is mired in financial taint. A small number of extremely wealthy individuals exercise an out-sized influence on our elections. (I won't even get into the Russians. I'll have some choice things to say about them in due time.)

As president I want to restore America to a true democracy. In order to do it, I will need to:

*put an end to Citizens United and other inappropriate financial influence in elections, and
*discourage partisan bickering for television ratings.

There's nothing more disheartening, my fellow Americans, than knowing that wildfires are burning out of control in California, but the nightly news on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC is all yak yak yak either in favor of, or against, the president. I personally do not know anyone who thinks it's a good idea for corporations and individuals to be able to buy political candidates and market them like breakfast cereal, then prop them up so that commercial sponsors can make money from worried people watching opinionated newscasts. Our elected officials should serve the good of the nation, not the whims of the super-rich and the media conglomerates!

Now, as to the government itself, my philosophy is that you can't rack up mountains of debt for future generations. (This would, at one time, have made me a conservative.) But the way to balance the national budget is not to cut taxes for anyone. People have to pay taxes! It's a fact of life. It's expensive to run a government properly, so that every citizen gets treated with respect and compassion. (This makes me a liberal.)

My administration will absolutely and gleefully veto the "tax reform" bill that is whizzing through the house like the Road Runner on a desert highway. For now we will keep taxation as it is.

Any true reform requires negotiation and cooperation. True public servants think first of ordinary people and how they will fare, not their "donors." I'm going to curb this whole donor mess, first thing. One person, one vote. Don't like it? Book a flight and scram.

This is the word of President Johnson, third of her name!

Oh, and by the way ... from today forward, everyone will wear their underwear on the outside of their clothing! I saw that once in a movie and thought it was an awesome idea.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

The President Sneaks Out

It's been just about a week since a cluster of men in impeccable suits arrived at my urban public school and ushered me to the White House, where I was asked to serve as the president of the United States.

All sort of sudden, you know? I was still wearing my Vo Tech teacher ID when they escorted me into the Oval Office!

First thing I said was, "Take that painting of Andrew Jackson down! Put it in the attic." And it was done, just like that! Hey, I'm a school teacher. I'm used to spending five minutes just getting everyone to open their books to page 52.

Then some butler type sidled up and said, "Madame President, what would you like us to hang in the place of that painting?"

And I said, "Well, I have a picture at home with a California condor. Send for it, please. It will be the perfect backdrop for when I reinstate Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante as National Monuments in full. Oh, and while you're at it, grab my bedside Salmon of Wisdom that Olivia gave me. It will symbolize how the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge will only be drilled over my dead and rotting corpse."

It's really daunting, suddenly being expected to lead the free world. My predecessor was unprepared for the task. As for me, well, if you've ever been able to command the undivided attention of 25 teenagers, you are eminently suited to running a cabinet meeting. That's a handful of adults! Think they're going to be texting in their laps?

Speaking of cabinet appointees, I was all ready to get to work on that when I remembered that this weekend was the annual Phoenixville Firebird Festival! I go every year with my daughter, Gumby. Well, we weren't going to miss this event, no sirree.

Kind of nice that I haven't done many public appearances yet, because the Secret Service gave Gumby and me leave to do our own thing. And it was snowing! Without expending one taxpayer dollar, Gumby and I drove out to Phoenixville, had supper at Speck's Chicken, and then went in the snow to watch the citizens burn down a giant bird they had built out of plywood! It was so magical in the snowstorm! I didn't get any good photographs, because my new government-issued phone had a faulty battery.

It's customary for presidents to keep their families close by as they govern. Heck, I could give Gumby her own office, or even make her attorney general. But not my Gumby. My gentle Gumby is going to live her life completely free from the limelight, a free bird like the Phoenix!

Gumby and I tend to do the same things over and over again, without expecting or wanting different results. We go to the Firebird Festival every year. The only novelty this year was that we spent the night in Phoenixville, so I wouldn't have to drive all the way back to Washington, DC after the bird burned. On Sunday morning, I dropped Gumby off in West Philly. We always have a swell time together.

I did ask her if she wanted to work in national government. She said no thanks, she didn't want to uproot her rescue cat. He gets nervous with any change and starts pulling at his fur.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

President Johnson's First Press Conference

It has only been a few brief days since I was plucked from the obscurity of a teaching job at a public school and installed here in the White House as President Johnson the Third! Yes, Andrew, Lyndon, and now me! It's a fine American name. For the record, I'm not related to Andrew or Lyndon.

I will be appointing a presidential press secretary soon, and in fact I have a prominent person in mind for the job, if he will take it. In the meantime, I'm here to answer some questions myself! Yes ... you with the cross-eyes and sneer ... go ahead!

Sean Hannity: Johnson, is it true that you are a Satan-worshiper who kills kittens in pentagrams while plotting a socialist overthrow with Bernie Sanders?

President Johnson: You rude little man! If I did indeed worship Satan (which I most emphatically don't), it would be none of your business, or the nation's business, or anyone's business but my own! Yes, my first act as President of the United States is to declare a Church-State Separation of proportions not seen since Thomas Jefferson took scissors to the Bible! By executive order I am removing "under God" from the pledge of allegiance and restoring "e pluribus unum" as our nation's motto. Effective immediately!

Sean Hannity: What an outrage! You are a Godless communist!

Anne: Wrong again! I'm as far from Godless as you can get. Matter of fact, I glory, laud, and honor hundreds of deities from multiple pantheons and every part of the planet! See that spider crawling up your pants leg? That's Anansi. You'd better be respectful, or ...

(Sean Hannity faints. Anansi chortles with glee.)

President Johnson: This is more fun than I thought it would be, and a lot easier than teaching school! Next question?

Bob Woodward: I'm Bob Woodward from the Washington Post.

President Johnson: I know you. You rock! You were my mother's favorite journalist, and I've always felt warmth for you. What's your question?

Bob Woodward: What are you going to do about the Paris Climate Accord?

President Johnson: I'm so glad you asked! Effective immediately, I mean like yesterday, the United States is rejoining the Paris Climate Accord. Not only that, we will be taking a leading role -- as well we should -- in reducing carbon emissions by investing in clean energy sources like solar and wind. Oil and coal have served their purpose, I'm sorry to say, and the few of you billionaires who have reaped stacks and stacks and stacks from exploiting those resources will just have to live on your investments. As for workers in the coal and oil fields, this nation will re-train you somehow, so you can pursue healthy careers! Are any of you interested in construction? Because our nation's infrastructure is a global joke.

New York Times: President Johnson, could you please articulate your governance philosophy?

President Johnson: To be brutally honest, I'll have to get back to you on that. This whole president thing is new to me. But I promise to think deeply about it. Better yet, I intend to have in-depth conversations with thoughtful and decent people of both parties, as well as selected state governors and the former presidents who deserve a respectful ear. (Of course this does not include the slobbering dotard I'm replacing.) If I'm going to be president, I'm going to listen to sensible ideas and not be swayed by the crazy fringe groups or paid lobbyists. Let me just add that the salary y'all are giving me to run the free world is WAY higher than anything I've ever earned, and it will be quite enough to satisfy me, especially since it comes with health care and housing!

Reporter: But what about your years and years of blogging the most outrageous left-wing rhetoric and the most ideologically impure religious doctrines? You don't fit in any religion anywhere! You're all over the place!

President Johnson: I know. Isn't it wonderful? Gods bless America!

Monday, December 04, 2017

America's First Female President but Third Named Johnson

My fellow Americans,

My name is Anne Johnson, and I am humbled to have been asked to be President of the United States. I am here to begin a path of healing and prosperity for our wonderful, magnificent nation. I can't say why I was plucked from the obscurity of an urban vocational/technical school in Camden, New Jersey to be the chief executive, but hey ... I have a college education! And I was born here! (Anne shows her birth certificate and passport.)

I know you must have a million questions for me, but first I want you to get to know me as a person. I'll be moving in to the White House with the First Gentleman, Mr. J. He is an award-winning author with a deep respect for the Fourth Estate, seeing as how he made his living as a reporter for 30 years. I expect he will be clothed by Brooks Brothers, which now he will be able to afford to purchase new instead of at the thrift store. Mr. J will be in charge of hosting championship sports teams, the Easter Egg Roll, and  ... cough cough ... the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, which will have its budget increased ... emmmmm ... Oh, yes! Mr. J is an upright citizen, also born in the USA (shows birth certificate and passport).

My older daughter, Gumby, will continue to pursue her own artistic endeavors from her home base of Philadelphia. She requested anonymity, thank you very much, and she's not too keen about the Secret Service (nor are they keen about West Philly).

My younger daughter, Olivia, has replaced Matt Lauer on the Today Show, from which she will likely move to Saturday Night Live at some point. Please be advised that Olivia's views and mine don't always dovetail -- you know, she's young and hip, while I'm square as fuck.

Oh, shit. I forgot. Presidents don't curse in public! Sorry.

I'm sure the press (especially Fox News) will scan my background thoroughly for damaging details information regarding my oh-so-ordinary life. Up front I will tell you that I've never grabbed anyone by any appendage beyond offering a hearty handshake. The thing I'm most ashamed of in my past? I bought a parrot and kept it in a cage. Deeply regretful about that.

I smoked pot -- and inhaled -- in college. Haven't done it since. I haven't had a drop of alcohol (with the exception of New Years Day, when I'm in the Mummers Parade) in more than five years. There are no outstanding violations of the law whatsoever in my resume! Go ahead. Check it out.

So ... I will also be bringing to the White House my two darling kitties, Beta and Gamma. (There was once an Alpha, she is with Ceiling Cat now.) Beta is a senior torby, and Gamma is a fluffy orange male. Even though Gamma is three times Beta's size, it's Beta who is in charge! Between them I'm sure they will take care of all those pesky vermin problems that have only gotten worse in recent months.

One last thing before I move on to your questions. Here are my tax returns from 1980 until the present. Yes, every single year. You see, Mr. J is rather a stickler about keeping old papers piled up all over the place, and our tax returns are among them. Take a look! I have nothing to hide!

My favorite television show is American Pickers, my favorite color is taupe, and I'm a Pisces.

Any questions about my personal life?

Sunday, December 03, 2017


Every morning from 7:04 to 7:34 I stand in my school's cafeteria and supervise the free breakfast students receive. (I think the food service provides the breakfast, not the government.)

The cafeteria isn't a hot spot for trouble first thing in the morning. The students come in, get their food, eat it, and usually they leave. I find myself daydreaming sometimes as I look out over all those youngsters who probably would have skipped breakfast altogether if they didn't get it this way.

I imagine that some men in dark suits come up to me and say, "Ms. Johnson, you are urgently needed to take over the presidency of the United States of America." And off I go with them to the White House.

Do you ever think about this? What you would do if they just asked you to step in?

What would I, Anne Johnson, do?

First I would introduce the people of the USA to my two lovely cats, Beta and Gamma. Nothing humanizes a leader like a pet.


Oh, I get all kinds of good ideas about what I would do and say if I suddenly became the third President Johnson! I won't bog you down with it all. Suffice it to say that my administration would be compassionate and fair-minded and environmentally friendly, and the upholstery in the White House would all be tasteful and easy to maintain!

Beyond introducing my cats to the American people, I'm only certain of one other thing about my presidency: I would not Tweet. As a sober stateswoman and servant of the people, I would deep-six that nonsense right off the bat.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Pity Poor Beta

Trigger alert: This post describes a sick kitty cat, including symptoms.


Ordinarily you might be a tad annoyed if your cat relieved herself on one of your hoodies (albeit left on the floor all day). But if that hoodie had some wine-colored spots on it, you might look at it as a great way to find out your itty bitty kitty is ill.

Beta came to my back yard as a feral kitten, 16 years ago. She grew up feral and produced a fine litter of kittens before Olivia tamed her. We took the kittens to the shelter (they were adorable and adoptable), but we kept Beta. She's a plain Jane, getting grizzled with age.


Long story short, I got home from work Thursday evening, and Beta was clearly sick. The vet gave me a 6:30 appointment.

(I'm sure you've noticed that even if a cat is on the Grim Reaper's doorstep, they can still fight going into that cat carrier.)

Off we went to the vet, and the first question they asked was, "Is she under stress?" Apparently stress causes the scary illness she had developed.

I said, "I can't think of anything that's out of the ordinary in our house or our routine." And there isn't. Beta gets her cans and her cot, she pushes Gamma around even though he's literally three times her size, and she is adored by her people.

Beta's treatment at the vet took quite awhile. We were there two hours -- so you can imagine the $$$$$.

At the end, as I was whipping out the Care Credit card, the vet gave me a flyer about Beta's illness.

When I got home, I read the flyer.

One cause of stress listed is construction outside.

Two years ago, my neighbors across the street sold their house to a developer who  plans to build two houses on the lot. Maybe I've mentioned this before. Well, nothing at all happened for the first 18 months, but just last month a gigantic machine arrived and demolished the 90-year-old house in three hours' time. Since then the builders have poured a foundation, and the property is a mad mess.

One day about three weeks ago, I saw Beta cross the road to the construction site. (She would never cotton being an indoor cat ... I didn't even try.)

It never occurred to me until I read that flyer: The property across the street is part of Beta's territory. There hasn't been another cat or dog on that lot for about six years. The place was probably even more inviting when the house stood empty and was the same as always. And now it's gone, replaced by huge mounds of dirt, piles of gravel, and noisy men with noisier machines.

Damn! It's causing me stress! Why wouldn't it stress poor Beta?

I feel like I ought to send the vet bill to the developer, but Mr. J disagrees. He thinks I should send it to the neighbor who sold the property in a hurry, knowing that a lovely old house and a two-car garage with a full apartment above it would be razed. Who does such a thing? Those people raised five kids in that house!

Anyway, someone should pay for poor little Beta. Who owes me money?

I'm still waiting to hear back from the vet about Beta's blood work, but I'm considering that a good sign.  She seems better today ... a little bit on the nod from the opiates, but she ate her vittles and purred while I told her not to worry, our house will not be demolished.

I'll keep you posted on her progress.