To Go or Not to Go


by Karen Topakian

President Trump will deliver his State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 30. Should U.S. Congressional members boycott or attend?

The U.S. Constitution states the president, “…shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.”

However, it doesn’t require Congressional members to attend.

If a Congress member has spent the last 12 months opposing everything the Trump administration has presented, voted against every bill, championed the opposition should s/he attend?

What does attending mean/imply/infer/signify? Does attending equal complicity with or support for this administration? Does it only show support and respect for the executive branch of our government, regardless of who’s in the White House?

Does boycotting tarnish our democratic institutions? Does it indicate disrespect for the presidency or just the current president? Does it indicate an unwillingness to comply with a 100+ year tradition to register public opposition to the president and his administration?

I hope those who don’t attend will issue a public statement and defend their position. Not cower or offer excuses, i.e. my dog ate my invitation, I had to wash my hair, I had to prepare for a colonoscopy.

Each Congress member should decide for her/himself based on conscience, principles, values and the ability to stomach the bloviating rhetoric that will spew from the Liar-in-Chief.

What should they do?

TSA Relaxes Carrion Rules

Unknownby Karen Topakian

In a surprising rule change, the Transportation Services Administration (TSA) will now allows its passengers to carry on carrion. The rule change resulted from a heated battle with hunters who never trusted their dressed mammals with baggage handlers.

“When I come back from a 7 day hunting trip in remote Alaska, I want to make sure my moose arrives in one piece,” said Ralph “Hawk-Eye” Lupkowski. “Last fall, only the legs and organs arrived on the baggage carousel. I’m still waiting for my antlers.”

Before September 11, 2001, airplane passengers were allowed to carry on as many rotting animal carcasses as would fit in the overhead compartment.

National hunting rights organizations, Ducks, Trout and Whitetails Unlimited, filed the lawsuit, when TSA first required all carrion to be placed in checked baggage.

“You let the vegetarians bring on excessively large rutabagas which could be used as weapons but hunters can’t bring on decomposing flesh?” asked Robin Raven, the attorney representing The Ruffed Grouse Society and the National Wild Turkey Federation in amicus briefs.

TSA spokesperson Wyatt Berp admitted that the hunters wore them down, “To be honest, we were tired of people with bigger guns yelling at us. We tried to explain the difference between a small personal item and a bag of bones, but they just couldn’t see the difference.”

All carrion must be packed in 1-quart zip lock bags and treated like all other carry on items.

“Since airlines don’t offer free meals, now we can chew on an animal cadaver on the cross country trip,” said Dick Snout, President of G.N.A.W. (Guys Noshing on Animals and Wildlife).

The National Association of Flight Attendants and PETA opposed the ruling.


A call to ban menstruation!

by Karen Topakian

I don’t think that Republicans have gone far enough in protecting religious freedom.

Of course, the government should ban contraceptives and abortions. Women must bear all new life at all costs. It’s our biological destiny, baby.

But why stop there?

Why not ban menstruation?

Why not outlaw the shedding of the uterine lining?

The uterus is the home that will nourish the embryo, if a pregnancy occurs. But every month, women wantonly and selfishly discard this valuable tissue only to rebuild it again next month. What a wasteful lot, are we!

How can the state sanction habitat destruction? How can the state allow women to routinely flush away this critical eco-system?

Will you join me in calling for a constitutional amendment to ban menstruation?

Which dictator will be the next to fall?

by Karen Topakian

First it was Tunisia. The Jasmine Revolution.

Now it’s Egypt. Whose dictatorship is ripe for ruin.

Today’s NY Times reports that the King of Jordan fired his government after weeks of demonstrations challenged his regime.

Who will be next?

Which Middle East despot should be watching his back for a crowd of young angry educated unemployed adults ready to demand democracy?

Could it be Syria, Yemen, Libya???

Note to dictators across the world. This is what happens when you refuse to hold open and fair elections, rig the ballot box, rule with an iron fist, make dissent illegal unless authorized by you. Beware dictators across the globe. You could be next.

Here’s my short list of where I would like to see peaceful protest overthrow a corrupt government: Chad, Myanmar, Uzbekistan. Who’s on your list?

I want an enviro lobby as powerful as the NRA!

by Karen Topakian

The New York Times reported on Wednesday that the National Rifle Association (NRA) has successfully squelched all research on gun violence performed by the National Center for Injury Control and Prevention, a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This un-performed research could, for example, help communities understand whether carrying firearms makes them safer or not.

The NRA’s representatives in Washington fought a pitched battle against public health scientists in the 1990’s. The NRA said that studying gun-related injuries and death was biased against gun owners and political. The scientists disagreed. The NRA won, essentially by removing the research funds from the CDC’s budget. Those dollars have never been put back into their budget.

That’s what I call an effective lobby.

Imagine for a moment what would happen if other “special interest” groups in the US had this same degree of clout?

What if the environmental community had enough power to limit all Federal funding of scientific studies that showed that pesticides were safe for farm workers or consumers?

Or if the anti-nuke movement could stop all funding for the DOE’s Stockpile Stewardship Program because it continued the testing and development of nuclear weapons, a violation of the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Or if the coal industry could not receive any federal funds in support of its promotion of “clean” coal?

That’s why I want an environmental lobby group that’s as powerful and effective as the NRA. What about you?

Ancient Greeks could teach us a thing or two about democracy

by Karen Topakian

On a recent trip to Greece, I once again became enamored with the political system they developed and codified 2,500 years ago. Democracy. Literally. It means people power.

Of course not all people were included in their newly developed form of governance. Only male citizens of double descent need apply. (Both mother and father had to be Athenians) No women. No foreigners. Certainly no slaves could enter this closed society. But for those who passed the test, they could reap the benefits.

Let’s look at what their democracy had to offer.

In 508 B.C, when Cleisthenes instituted democracy in Athens, he formed Council of Five Hundred, which planned the business of the public assemblies. All male citizens over the age of 30 could serve for two one-year terms in a lifetime. This allowed all citizens to participate in a direct political experience. This rule he thought would guard against citizens conspiring to abolish the system.

What a novel idea. No opportunity for professional politicians. Everyone gets a chance to serve. Sound like a good idea?

The Council seemed to act as public administrators because they “scrutinized the qualifications of officials and the allocation of funds. They looked after the construction of docks and surveyed public buildings. They collected rent on public land and oversaw the redistribution of confiscated property. Members of the Council were also responsible for examining the horses of the cavalry, administering state pensions and receiving foreign delegations. In other words, the Council was responsible for the smooth running of the daily operations of the Athenian city-state.”

Here’s another feature of their democracy that we should try.


A reverse election, whereby citizens could vote to exile a politician for 10 years. At least 6,000 citizens had to vote to oust the politician for the vote to be valid.

Imagine voting someone out of office not just in. I don’t know about you but I’ve got a short list in my head right now.

A third feature of their system that might be worth emulating: providing government subsidies to poor people for their attendance at theatrical performances and festivals. These indirect payments by the state not only subsidized the poor but also built audiences and supported the arts.

See anything here you like?

Is today the day I like big government?

by Karen Topakian

Recently my sister and I were discussing why people and elected officials rail against big government on some days but not on others.

The conversation started when I mentioned that Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana begged the Federal government to clean up the BP oil spill spilling on to his state. Big government couldn’t jump high enough or run fast enough to suit him. 

Today Bobby Jindal wants big government.

Last year he didn’t.

When he snubbed his nose at the federal stimulus money coming to his state to pay for expanded benefits for Louisiana residents collecting unemployment. That day he didn’t want Washington and its largess to pollute his state.

How do people like Governor Jindal and former Governor who quit mid-term Sarah Palin decide which days to love big government and which days to hate it?

We decided that every day when we awake we would ask ourselves if this were a day when we liked/loved big government or not. We had to predict if we wanted our trash picked up by big government, our street’s swept, our parks maintained, our street lights kept aglow, our public hospitals treating patients, our public schools educating young people,…

Our conversation then turned to when do we think our government is too big. Here’s a short list:

When it interferes with a woman’s reproductive organs and her choices about when to bear children and when to not.

When it tells public school teachers they have to teach the Christian creation myth instead of evolution.

When it decides who can marry whom.

When it sentences people to the death penalty.

When it bullies other governments and threatens them with the use of nuclear weapons.

What I hate more than big government is weak government that can’t, won’t or doesn’t stand up to corporations that destroy our planet.