SurvJourno

All Posts (14)

[UPDATED: 08.10.2018, 9:17 PM CST]

Obviously, President Trump will know within moments of talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un whether he is serious about holding talks. As the person on other side of the table involved in the presumed talks, why wouldn't he? Trump said the following to the press as he was leaving the G-7 summit in Canada.

"I think I'll know pretty quickly whether or not, in my opinion, something positive will happen. And if I think it won't happen, I'm not going to waste my time. I don't want to waste his time."

President Trump's Opinion, Positivity and Wasting Everyone's Time

In his opinion, huh? So, him knowing whether Kim Jong Un is serious at the last minute won't be based in fact? And let's also acknowledge the "fact" that facts isn't something Trump handles well if he even deals with facts at all. We already know that he only deals with his own facts.

And when he refers to "something positive," he's obviously referring to the accomplishment of holding talks as well as convincing North Korea to denuclearize. Both of these things are positive and yet questionable. At the time that he made his statement, it was days before the summit was supposed to happen and there were still no signs or a sense that they would. It was reported on Sunday that Kim Jong Un arrived in Singapore

But in his statement when President Trump also refers to "something positive," he's made it clear time and time again that even a negative outcome would be "positive" for the administration. We've heard him say this about practically every deal that he's killed, saying that, "he'd like to make a better deal but if not, then that would be fine too." He's done this with the Paris Climate Accord and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action otherwise known as the Iran Nuclear Deal.

He did this when he referred to trade talks around the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on Saturday saying

"If a deal isn't made, that would be a very bad thing for Canada and it would be a very bad thing for Mexico. For the United States, frankly, it would be a good thing. But, I'm not looking to do that. I'm not looking to play that game."

He's taking the same position here with the summit talks with North Korea. Trump has already implied that taking military action or conducting a nuclear strike on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea would be preferred if he doesn't get his way. With someone as corrupt and incendiary as Trump, there's no reason to believe that he wouldn't genuinely see the destruction in the region as "something positive."

And yes "Mr. President," let's talk about wasting time, more specifically, our time?

I expect that in a few days my assessment on these talks will be destroyed. One of them already has as I was pretty certain that: 

  1. These talks aren't going to happen and, 
  2. Even if they did, there isn't going to be an agreement to denuclearize. 

With Kim Jong Un's arrival, it looks like the talks are certain. 

At best, President Trump will be able to sit across from Kim Jong Un for a Photo Op. That alone would be historic and not a waste of time for President Trump. 

Featured image via YouTube

Read more…

 One of the primary explanations for Republican success in Pennsylvania’s elections over the past decade has been the pronounced absence of competition. Still reeling from the scandals of 2005 and 2006 which led to the conviction and incarceration of the Democratic House leadership and separate scandals involving the most powerful Democrat in the Senate (which also led to his incarceration but somehow failed to restrict his ability to disperse campaign funds to other candidates from his jail cell), the Pennsylvania Democratic Party had become an “old boys network,” so willing to accept its role as the minority Party it didn’t even complain when its districts were gerrymandered.

            In what should be a strong message to traditional Party Democrats all across the country, the voters of Pennsylvania just announced they are done with the bullshit.  Rejecting the incumbent Lieutenant Governor, they nominated John Fetterman, the working-class Mayor of Braddock, whose campaign ads featured his constituents and few of them were white. In the races for State Legislature from the Pittsburgh region, the voters rejected two longtime incumbents, the Costa brothers, whose names had become as familiar to voters as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin; nominating, instead, two female Democratic Socialists.

            The message is clear. The People are finished with right-wing demagoguery and the flaccid Democrats who have enabled it. I’m sure Bernie Sanders is smiling.

Featured image via Flickr

 

Read more…
IMG_9971

As avid watchers of network news, many of us remember when MSNBC news anchors Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough appeared to buddy up with then, candidate Donald Trump during 2015-16 Presidential Campaign. But you wouldn't know it to watch the network now where you'll find the best and more engaging anti-Trump commentary on any news network anywhere

In fact, you could say that they're almost single-handedly laying waste to the Trump administration, bigly!

When MSNBC news anchors came out swinging

Before we time travel to June of last year, let's update this by pointing to the storm of haymakers MSNBC news anchors, sometimes turned reporters, are delivering to the administration using Michael Avenatti, Stormy Daniels' lawyer. While Avenatti has been circulating through other news networks and programs, his appearances are mostly split between MSNBC and CNN, another network that Republicans and Trump love to go after. 

Here's a brief clip with Joe Scarborough giving kudos to Avenatti.

And of course, it really doesn't matter which network Avenatti goes to, President Trump's own lawyer, Rudy Guiliani -- along with the rest of the administration, will always find some reason to go after him or the networks, all of which they've accused of creating fake news. But it makes a difference when Avenatti shows up on Morning Joe as President Trump publicly attacked both MSNBC news anchors on Twitter last June.

 

 

On the same Friday that Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough lashed back on President Trump via their program, they released an OpEd via The Washington Post about the President not being well. But it was also revealed during that time that the administration had even gone as far as to threaten the television couple with a hit piece by right-wing tabloid National Enquirer, for negative commentary. 

Michael Avenatti and friends

Of course, there's no such show... yet. But there probably should be, and perhaps with Ari Melber who has a hard-on for the law. MSNBC's The Beat with Ari Melber has been treating the case of President Trump's former personal 'lawyer' Michael Cohen like chum as of late, getting into the legalese of it all. The Rachel Maddow Show has always been more than capable and thorough on the reporting of Trump's scandals. 

But the way that MSNBC news anchors will be able to have all the glory of the ultimate takedown of the big orange baby in the White House is by securing exclusivity with Avenatti's biggest reveals because, since Avenatti and his client Stormy Daniels are publicly going after Trump. As a consequence, the Mueller investigation seems to have intersected with their case and giving the appearance that they're working together, most certainly in going after Michael Cohen.

At one point with Morning Joe, -- which is seen in the clip above -- brought up the fact that Avenatti tweeted an image of a disc.

In an interview with the lawyer, Mike brought it up again and he promised to do an entire show on it when it was ready to be revealed. Thus far, the reports on the corporations and the money that was flowing in Cohen's direction has been revealed by Avenatti himself, while news media outlets scramble around to try and verify it. But, if that's not secure enough, more recently, Avenatti did speak with MSNBC news anchors about a possible connection between Michael Cohen and Qataris, who were taking an elevator in Trump Tower. 

Read more…

The Evangelical Whisperer

I may have mentioned in prior posts that I was raised to be a Conservative Republican Evangelical.  (I can only imagine how disappointed my progenitors would have been if they’d lived long enough to see how I turned out.)  I know how to talk to these people.  While I fully understand one doesn’t encounter many of them on sites like this, I offer my comments with Evangelical translations, nevertheless, with the hope The Lord will guide someone to these words and he will open the eyes of others.  Let us begin… 

The systematic controlled erosion of American Democracy undertaken by a foreign adversary, the Russian government of Vladimir Putin, was born from a deep understanding of the depth of American racism among the least educated members of our society.  They didn’t randomly choose members of the NRA and the Evangelical Church as the victims of their assault.  They knew where to find the racists.  And they understood the “whiteness” of the purposefully ignorant was far more important to them than their national heritage.  They also recognized the Republican Party had maintained power for forty years by appealing to the most xenophobic instincts of the American working class. 

The Lord made all of us, not just the white people. I wasn’t sure so I checked on Billy Graham’s page and it’s true.

“Racial prejudice is a sin in the eyes of God,” 

it says.

“And the Bible should never be used to defend it. God created the whole human race and Jesus Christ died to redeem people from every race.” 

So, I guess that’s settled. Living in a country ruled by a black man, as you did for eight years, can be tough for people who believe they are superior to him in the eyes of The Lord because “blackness” is a curse placed upon a grandson of Noah for his sexual perversions.  (Billy Graham says it didn’t happen like that. He didn’t make the offspring of Ham black.  He just made them slaves. Whew, that was a close one.) 

But we have to remember God made Obama, too. Like everything, He did it for a reason. And we have to remember America is His favorite country – I know ‘cause there’s lots of songs about it – and it took Him almost 6000 years after the original creation to make a country just like He wanted it. God didn’t like Russia much during the Cold War. It’s hard to believe He’d want them to mess up His favorite country just because they elected a black man when He made the black man, too.

I know what you’re thinking. “If we elect allow someone to lead just because The Lord made him, too, we might as well elect a dog as our President. Or Rick Santorum.”  I guess if you’ve already eliminated intelligence as a requirement for leadership, as you obviously have, you might as well. At least it wouldn’t be Putin’s dog. 

            Traces of the efforts to impress and influence the Evangelical community remain on Internet sites, including a 2010 blog entitled “Why the West Fears Putin,” which includes the following assertion: “Putin has real world power which cause the liberal media to fearfully ignore or warp his image. Like a Good Christian King, he leads a nation to Christ…The liberals don’t want Russian’s Christianity to spread and re-Christianize Europe.  Liberals, like most Democrats in America, would hate Russia if they inspired and renewed Christians throughout the world.”  And arguments based on faulty reasoning like this one sound profoundly reasonable to undereducated voters who have been victimized with the same approach by American Republicans for forty years.  (After all, why can’t someone who steals power and murders his political adversaries be called a “Good Christian King?”  Sounds spot on to me.)  The conclusion that must logically be drawn is not necessarily that the Republican Party has been conspiring with the Russians for nearly a decade to maintain its grip on power.  But one cannot avoid concluding both groups of power-hungry usurpers are attempting to appeal to the same constituency. 

            If your loyalty to a white Russian ever exceeded the loyalty you felt toward to a black American democratically elected as your President – and your name isn’t “Lebowski” – you might be a racist.  If you believe Vladimir Putin is the modern personification of a “Good Christian King,” you might as well get yourself a sign that says, “Exploit me.  I’m too uninformed to know better.”  Surely you understand not all white men are holy.  Remember Michael Moore? 

            Consciously or not, the Republican agenda emphasizing blind nationalism and “traditional values” over public education and informed opinion has created an entire generation of Americans whose underdeveloped minds could be twisted to the point where they developed fawning respect for a Russian dictator and desired nothing more than to have one of their own. 

            You may worship dictators and still call yourself a Christian.  But please refrain from calling yourself an American in the presence of those of us who still worship Democracy.

Read more…
Information Control in Republican Oligarchy

 This site is important.  If not for it and others like it, you would only read what they want you to read.

            By now, you are undoubtedly familiar with the latest conservative ploy to control information – buy the story rights and bury the story.  Trump accuser Karen McDougal was victimized by this approach when she sold the rights to the story of their affair to the National Inquirer (and she might not have so much as complained when the story didn’t run if they’d paid her as much as they promised.)  And as the modern day American versions of Joseph Goebbels continue to buy up the traditional media, more and more information and non-traditional political opinion is being buried in the root cellar, never to see the light of day.

            Here is how I know from experience.

            When I completed my second novel, The Democracy Dramaturgy, in 2015, I spent a full year looking for an agent or a publisher within the traditional industry who would consider it.  In case you’re unfamiliar with today’s publishing industry, most publishers won’t read your work unless you have an agent and most agents won’t consider it unless you’re either already making money or can demonstrate how you soon will be.  So, not surprisingly, I was overjoyed to find a publisher actively looking for “progressive” fiction which had an “open submission” policy for two months each year in which writers could submit “unagented” manuscripts for consideration.

            I went through the submission process with the misconception my “progressive” novel would be considered by the “progressive” publisher to which it had been submitted only to discover the initial evaluation of its quality would be performed by a different company.  A little investigation helped me understand why that would be the case: the second company primarily made its money from selling “how-to” books to fledgling writers who couldn’t write.  It seemed like a reasonable enough arrangement…until further investigation revealed that the company which would be performing the initial evaluation of the quality of my “progressive” novel was owned by the Koch family.

            My novel mocking the political establishment would be judged by the people who established it.

            I withdrew my manuscript from their consideration and published it, myself.

            As the traditional media becomes further consolidated and under the control of fewer and fewer corporations, non-traditional ideas will be suppressed.  And sites like this one will become essential for the distribution of honesty.

            Please support our activities and those of other independent journalists – if not financially, at least by reading and sharing.  We might be the only thing standing between you and a world where the only “truth” is “Koch Truth.”

           

Read more…

Students participating in National Walkout Day walking on Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol, Washington DC

 About fifty years ago – at the height of the last “revolution” in which America’s youth revolted against the idea of dying for concepts they neither understood nor accepted as their own – The Doors wrote a song, “Five to One,” containing a line that must have sent chills up the collective spine of the Entrenched Interests.

            “They got the guns but we got the numbers.”

            And the wealthy white men examined the political landscape around them and realized Jim Morrison’s words were not to be taken lightly.  People were done with corrupt party politics.  In no time a tsunami of voter rage, led by an entire new generation of political activists, would cast them from their thrones into a world filled with other unemployed people with no job skills.

            About five years later, a much smaller group of wealthy white men with the power to interpret the American Constitution any way they saw fit eliminated the problem by declaring political contributions to be forms of free speech, protected by the First Amendment and not subject to regulation.  Overnight, it became legal in a nation that liked to call itself the bastion of world democracy to buy your own Congressman.

            Somewhere in some disgusting place devoid of humanity rich white men sang, “They got the numbers but we got the money.”  And the slow erosion of American Democracy began, sliding the once-noble beast steadily downward through deregulation after deregulation to the infamous Citizens United ruling to the virulent cesspool in which it now resides under the thumbs of wealthy oligarchs.

Emma González - Caricature

            The only reason it hasn’t been declared legally dead is because Americans can still freely protest the slow, steady strangulation of their dying Democracy.  If it is ever to be resuscitated, it will only be through the force of our numbers overcoming the weight of their wealth.

            And if American history is any indication, while the masses are marching, the wealthy will be using all that money in a well-organized propaganda campaign designed to make them look silly for doing it.

            Have you noticed no one says “groovy” much, anymore?  The peace sign has given way to one with fewer digits.  We don’t talk about love for our fellow man.  We can’t imagine a world without war.  The idea of living as one with the planet just sounds like a childish fairytale.  After fifty years of conservative propaganda, the concepts so familiar to the Sixties just sound like the silly babble of uninformed children who simply don’t understand the way the world really works.

            This is the barrage for which you, the new generation of American radicals, need to prepare.  The people you are fighting can’t oppose you with reason when you’re right and they’re wrong.  They can’t oppose you with strength when you are many and they are few.  They can’t fall back on a long history of political integrity when they don’t have one.  All they can do is shake their heads and pretend you’re the ones who don’t understand.

            (We’ll call this the “Rubio Approach” since he recently chose to utilize it to defend his loyalty to the NRA; although the tactic was quite effective for his intellectual progenitors like Nixon and Agnew.) 

They’ll make up reasons to laugh at you.  And all their moronic supporters will laugh with them, even though they don’t get the joke.  Words like “groovy” will be relegated to the vocabularies of foolish people.  And someone like Todd Rundgren will have to write another song like, “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?”

You have the numbers, new student radicals.  The nation supports your agenda.  But if you want to change anything in any permanent way, you should first examine the mistakes of your grandparents who thought they would change the world and, instead, sent it hurdling downward into the abyss of Ronald Reagan.  (As a disgruntled former student radical said in my first novel, Random Notes From a Specific Deadhead, “As soon as the draft was repealed, ‘I’ll march with you for racial and gender equality since you marched with me to stop the war,’ once again became, ‘I’m a white man so go fuck yourself.’”) 

Don’t settle for making specific weapons illegal – if Mankind has proved anything in its brief existence it is that there will be new and more heinous weapons.  Demand the return of your Democracy from the clutches of people like Marco Rubio who, based on his words, really don’t understand much about it.  Insist on a government that acts in the best interests of the majority of Americans and their world.  And during your next march – as you look around at the masses of young people united with you in this noble and essential cause – don’t be naïve about the level of their dedication. Recognize that for every Abbie Hoffman willing to fight at your side to the death there are ten “Jerry Rubins” ready to take a job on Wall Street at the first opportunity.  Then keep marching, anyway.

Are You Next? Student lie-in at the White House to protest gun laws

Most importantly, don’t ever let them tell you, you’re the ones who don’t understand.  Their problem is you understand too well.  And what you understand better than anything is that this is your opportunity; not to “make America great again,” but to make America what it has spent so much time and energy – and so many decades – pretending to be.

Read more…

The McLaughlin Group In The Trump Era

I just learned today that The McLaughlin Group has been back since the beginning of the year and have been airing episodes each week. I followed the show frequently, along with other PBS pushed news programs in order to remain informed and felt a loss when it appeared to die with its host, John McLaughlin. 

Our local PBS affiliate has clearly stuck to the traditions of both, not keeping viewers updated on programs that their viewers have counted on for years as well as bogging down the process with contract bullshit and with it, not giving viewers any updates on that process either. 

For the time being, it appears that The McLaughlin Group is sticking with one ABC affiliate for broadcasting in Washinton, D.C. and reserving the program for online viewing using their YouTube account from their official site.

Here's the first episode of the Trump era, as the show ended when Barack Obama was still president where Eleanor Clift pointed out that Pat Buchanan was Trump before Trump was. 

 [Image credit: The McLaughlin Group/YouTube]

Read more…

The President’s Penis: An Ethical Dilemma

The times were much simpler in the days of Bill Clinton’s penis.  Everyone wasn’t carrying cameras.  People didn’t text pictures of their genitals to potential sex partners.  We were shocked, amused and entertained by descriptions of his equipment – whether we wanted to hear them or not.  But we were never forced to face the unpleasant prospect of actually seeing it. (Probably a good thing or we’d have Slick Willies all over the Internet, the way he apparently loved to wave it around.  We’d have become so comfortable with the image by now, the official bird of Arkansas would probably be the Featherless Bentcock.) 

            But as we sink deeper and deeper into the perversions of Twenty-first Century American politics, it becomes increasingly apparent, with each passing day and its accompanying scandal, that the “Lil’ Trump Bump” might not be so easy to avoid.  Stormy has pictures.  Putin has pictures. Some Russian hooker in a Thai prison might even have pictures.  It seems inevitable that one will someday become an integral part of the chronical of the saddest period in American history   And as I write these comments this morning, ethical journalists are undoubtedly actively debating whether to display the Great American Disgrace on their newscasts once it becomes part of the public pubic record.

            I’m sure the debate was decided long ago at CNN which seemed likely to change its slogan to “America’s Shithole Network” during that scandal just so they could say it even more often.  Since MSNBC used the “shithole” alternative, in that case, the interest of propriety, I’m guessing they’ll cover it with a little Presidential seal.  Fox News, of course, will either still be talking about Benghazi or insinuating its really Hillary’s penis.

            But what will they do at a network like CBS where, imbued by the legacies of people like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, they tend to be stricter about the quality of their product?  The debate might well be intense.  Do we say as little about the matter as possible, broadcast it in all its gory (I didn’t forget the “l”), or blur it out like a Kardashian boob?

            I’m hoping CBS will bring Dan Rather out of retirement for the event.  I can just hear it.

            “The pictures we are about to show you are disturbing, disgusting, perhaps even nauseating.  But after lengthy discussions, we have determined they are so fundamental to the American historical record that they cannot and should not be withheld from the citizens of our nation.  However, we urge you to remove all children and pets from the room during this portion of the broadcast.”

            And when it's finally out there for the nation and the world to see, I’m sure that, like the crowd for his inaugural, Trump will claim it’s three times as large as it looks in the picture.

[Image credit: CNN/YouTube]

Read more…

Final Pre-Election Report from PA-18

 

Greetings once again from The Next Big Test in America’s effort to return to a state of sanity.  If you haven’t been keeping tabs, next Tuesday’s Congressional Special Election will determine who represents the “virtual district” until the end of the year when, because the gerrymandered districts of Pennsylvania have been redrawn by the State Supreme Court, neither candidate will reside in it.  Republicans have poured massive amounts of money into the race in an effort to hold the Republican seat for a few months.  Unions have been re-energized and are aggressively campaigning to turn it blue.  Meanwhile, in May, the winning candidate (and probably the loser, as well) will be compelled to compete in another primary in another district.

            In what has become the American political tradition, as the race has tightened it has become profoundly more negative.  Unlike the Age of Reagan, in which the Republican approach was seemingly to confuse less well-informed voters into believing Republicans shared their agenda, campaigns in the Age of Trump have taken on a style all their own.  The preferred method of attack has become to depict any male Democratic candidate as the lapdog of some woman in a position of authority.  With Hillary not as threatening as she once was, the new Cruella DeVille is Nancy Pelosi.  And Republican strategists seem to be banking on the concept that traditional Republican voters will be appalled by the mere idea of females taking active roles in the political process…

            …in ads at least partially funded by Rebekah Mercer.

            Disingenuous conservatives.  Nothing new there.  But the Trump Effect could well be having an enormous influence on this specific race and Republican politics, in general, in ways not yet appreciated by the pollsters.  Its impact may require a complete rethinking of the strategy that has so well served the Greedy Old Prevaricators for decades.  Because unlike other eras, in the Age of Trump negative campaigning may have lost its effectiveness.

            The RNCC can run an ad characterizing the Democratic candidate as a spineless sycophant whose alleged incompetence permitted drug dealers to avoid prosecution (a story so twisted you have to ask yourself if this is the best thing they could come up with considering the facts related to their accusations seem to be of little importance), and the potential voter simply shrugs his shoulders and says, “So what?”  The Republicans could run an ad accusing the Democratic candidate of stealing all the money from the orphanage and then eating the babies’ livers with some fava beans and a nice chianti and no one would be particularly shocked.

            “He’s a politician.  You have to expect a little thievery and cannibalism,” the voters now freely accept as the status quo.  And in the era of golden showers and shitholes, what else would you expect?

            Republicans, who have relied on twisted versions of reality to elect them for decades, simply can’t design a lie that’s sufficiently shocking in a political environment filled with so many scandals they’ve almost stopped being scandalous.

            High turnout in a race that means nothing, except as a political statement, could turn PA-18 into the Republican Gettysburg.  If their candidate can’t win a gerrymandered district drawn by Republicans to ensure they would control it forever, other Republicans will be compelled to take note. They can turn on their Party to save their sorry careers or they can go down with the ship.

            If the Republican holds the seat because of conservative “blowback” to progressive efforts to preserve American Democracy, it will be a major victory for Trump and his fledgling dictatorship.  Republican leaders will sense their best chance for maintaining power might be continued blind support for their Fearless Leader despite all the issues he seems to be having with bodily discharges.  And the nation will creep closer to the abyss.

            Stay tuned.  Whatever else you can say about this year, you can’t say it hasn’t been interesting.  #SpecialElection  #PAGerrymander  #NegativeCampaigning

Read more…

A More Unique Perspective

I thought the time-wave that traces the course of American politics had hit rock bottom in about 1994, never suspecting another Bush was waiting in the wings to send it hurtling further downward.  Now, as the Roy Moore Senatorial campaign continues to plague the Republican Party and the nation, Americans are being compelled to concede that America has a putrid, disgusting layer that lies beneath even the sordid “Trump-o-trope.”

It is the perverse region inhabited by Roy Moore.  It is the land where dominant males are permitted – even expected – to “grab them by the pussy.”  Even if those genitals are only fourteen years old.

The Underage Loves of Roy Moore

It is the land where unrestricted paternalism dominates reason and empathy, and I have something of a personal perspective of it because it is the land where I was conceived.

It had long been a “dirty family secret” that my great-grandfather raped his daughter – my grandmother – the night before her wedding because, he said, he’d paid to raise her and it was his right to go first.

(Kind of like being the first one to ride a horse, I guess.)  What I didn’t understand until much later in life – after I’d lost my ability to walk because of neuropathy and been compelled to take multiple medications so I wouldn’t have seizures in my sleep – was that the real story was even dirtier.

More ‘Bang’ for your Buck

My great-grandfather was also my grandfather.  He’d impregnated his daughter at least twice over a three-year period – and probably would have done it for the rest of his sordid life had his sons not reached the age of awareness and thrown him out of his own house.

So, I have what you might call “personal feelings” about men who think they can stick it anywhere and in anyone they like.  But, apparently, the evangelicals of Alabama don’t share those sentiments.  The latest election polls indicate 37% of them say they are more likely to vote for their favorite son because of the story of his pedophilia reported by The Washington Post.  (I’m not certain, but I suspect the phrase, “liberal media,” may have influenced what is remaining of their thought processes, at some point.)

In consideration of this disturbing percentage, please let me offer a modest proposal.  It is not the “modest proposal” of Jonathan Swift which would require the people of Alabama to cannibalize each other – although that might be one useful approach.  Rather, I would suggest that if Alabamans prefer to have a white supremacist government run by unabashed paternalists, we should let them have it.


We’ve heard a lot lately about secession in the past year.  But it always seems to be the people of some state – like California or Texas – no longer preferring to be part of an America they no longer respect or admire.  What if the rest of us no longer want to include them?  If the evangelicals’ mythical anti-Christ popped out of the cauldron of Hades and, after admitting he was, in fact, the anti-Christ, announced he was running for the Senate, would we be compelled to continue to accept their state in our Union after they elected him because The Washington Post reported he was a pedophile?

Why would we permit them to define our national identity?

So here is my proposal:  Since the last official act by Alabama was the vote by its Legislature to secede from the Union on January 11, 1861, let’s stop the compulsory inclusion we’ve forced upon them for 150 years and let them go.  With all the wall building equipment already in the area, we could easily divert the manpower and capital needed to cage them in – and keep them away from the rest of us.  And they can go merrily along, sticking anything they want anywhere they want, without making us all look like idiots.

And maybe, during the process of acquiring their true independence, they’ll recognize they live in an impoverished welfare state – ranked 47th in per capita income – that is dependent on the resources of other states to survive; one that has no right to set anyone else’s agenda, let alone that of the entire nation.

But probably not.  More likely they’ll take Swift’s advice and eat the poor.  At least the supply will be plentiful.

I’m not much for memes or online petitions.  But I’m sure some of you are.  So, let’s start the campaign today.  “If you want Roy Moore for your Senator, why not make him your President?  The Nation of Alabama deserves it!”

Make America great, again, Alabama.  Secede.

[Featured image screenshot from CNN, ABC 33/40/YouTube]

Read more…

The Subtle Propaganda of Super Heroes

Happy Fourth of July 2014!

             I haven’t seen “The Black Panther” and undoubtedly won’t.  I lost what little interest I might have had when I found out Bobby Seale wasn’t in it.  But apparently, not many movie-goers share that perspective as it has become one of the most profitable films of all time.

            Superheroes are popular diversions in societies devoid of hope where citizens feel they have no real control over their own lives, let alone the world in which they live.  They have become the most popular method for distributing American propaganda since the death of John Wayne.  And now they have been turned into tools of the capitalist elite.  Considering that repugnant element of our society cares little about anything but the profit motive, I have no doubt we will soon be seeing new superheroes who are Latino and gay and disabled until we make it all the way to the heroic “Mixed-race, gender-confused person in a wheelchair.”

            That’s the way capitalism works.  You find an idea that made someone money and you beat it to death to squeeze out every last penny with no regard to the effect of your actions on the industry, the nation or the world.  It requires no conscience; a conscience is, in fact, a detriment.  It has no room for integrity; integrity is a weakness inflicting the guy in the soup line.  And it could care less if the information it is dispensing is honest or dishonest.

            Generally speaking, if any information causes you to feel better about your life and more accepting of your place in society without changing it in any productive way or helping you understand it better, you are dealing with capitalist propaganda.  And if the best source of hope it can provide is, “Maybe a superhero will save you,” you’re probably being manipulated.

            Those of us who grew up during the Cold War have a great deal of difficulty determining when we’re being manipulated.  It began early for us, with the cartoons of our youth pitting resourceful (and always triumphant) American heroes like Rocky and Bullwinkle against evil duos like Boris Badenov and Natasha.  It included so many western gunslingers who shot first and didn’t bother to ask questions later that is sad, but accurate, to say the television programming of my youth was just as thick with gun-toting cowboys and cigarette ads as today’s primetime is inundated with gun-toting cops and pharmaceutical ads; apparently indicating the standard America corporate message has never advanced beyond, “Love your gun and become an addict.”

            But for the younger generations who weren’t force-fed anti-communist brainwashing during their early development and who don’t rely on traditional sources for their entertainment, the situation is rapidly changing.  A 2016 Study by Harvard University determined that only 42% of millennials support capitalism as an economic system and 51% oppose it. Those must be shocking numbers not only for my generation but also for those Americans who were born in the era of Reagan and Ayn Rand when “liberal” somehow became a dirty word.

            Young people are once again renouncing the propaganda of their parents as they did fifty years ago.  Unfortunately, we all know how that turned out.  If they want to permanently change a world that desperately needs to be changed, they must learn from the mistakes of their predecessors.  Reagan took power (and began the assault on many of the progressive gains and empathetic perspectives of the Sixties and Seventies) only after the battlefield was cleared by “heroic” rugged individualists like Charles Bronson and Clint Eastwood who wiped out the “punks” seeking to disrupt the peaceful lives of white people; the latter turning large caliber bullets into veritable objects of worship before he went nuts and started talking to empty chairs.

            And they did it with movies.

            Nearly fifty years after the Reagan Clampdown on creative expression – please don’t kid yourself into believing it was anything but that – we have reached the point where conservative control of the subtler forms of propaganda have almost completely removed progressive ideas from the public forum while the corpulent white Judeo-Christian men with all the money continue to lament the assault of the “liberal media” on their God-given right to be stupid.  As one who has attempted to market a science fiction novel that is intensely political to American agents and publishers, I can report that the common response a writer receives in this situation is, “Americans don’t want politics in their science fiction.”  Meanwhile, Americans flock to the cinema to see films like Avatar and V for Vendetta

The truth is, publishers, don’t want Americans to examine their nation through the lens of the SF genre.  They might learn something other than which bullet makes the biggest splatter when you shoot a “punk.”  And a dystopian future might look a little too much like their dystopian present.

But I guess if you’re going to produce mindless escapism, making a black guy a hero for a change is a step in the right direction.  

Read more…

Significance

 

…With apologies to Nicolas Roeg

 

(We take you to a cheap hotel room in West Berlin.  The year is 1987.  THE PREACHER, THE ACTOR and THE NEOCON are seated around a small round table, awaiting the arrival of their guest – THE AGENT.  They stare at their hands and grind their teeth without speaking.  Finally, in response to a gentle tap on the door, the NeoCon rises and welcomes the visitor inside.)

THE AGENT: Thank you so much for meeting me here, today.  We have much to discuss.

THE ACTOR: We sure as hell better.  I’m being blacklisted by all the Hollywood liberals because I support Reagan.

THE PREACHER: You think you have problems?  My contributors have all stopped contributing because they think Reagan fixed everything and we’re all moral, again.

THE NEOCON: Give me a break.  I have to deal with Bush.  He’s been muttering all this shit about being “kinder and gentler.”  I think he’s losing his mind.

THE AGENT: Yes, with President Reagan not as, um, vibrant as he once was…with the Gorbachev government in shambles…we all have to do some thinking about the new world order that figures to emerge once both are gone.  And the kinder, gentler America…that’s sounds just a bit girly, don’t you think?  I don’t think the people of Russia will find that beast very menacing.

THE ACTOR: Can’t we just shoot Bush?

THE PREACHER: The Bible says using an automatic weapon in the name of Christ is just fine.  But shooting a white man might be a sin.

THE ACTOR: What if we just wound him?

THE NEOCON: Shoot him in the face with birdshot! 

THE AGENT: I suspect we will need a subtler approach than that.  Tell me, what single thing matters more to your people than any other single thing?

THE ACTOR: Guns!

THE PREACHER: God!

THE NEOCON: Money!

THE AGENT: Precisely.  I love all those things, too.  And if we work together, I can ensure your people will receive all the things they desire.  America can once again become a Christian nation, armed to the teeth and wealthier than its ever been.  But if we cannot find common ground, we could well be entering a world without terror.  Nations only accept bellicose warmongers as their leader if they’re afraid of other bellicose warmongers.  I can give you your terrifying adversary.  But we need to ensure continued Republican control of the American government after Reagan is dead so that you can make me the same promise.  One peace sign could be all it takes to take the legs out from under all of us.  And you don’t want to go back to all that peace, do you?

(The Actor, the Preacher and the NeoCon whisper between themselves as he awaits their response.)

THE NEOCON: Okay.  Just tell us what we have to do.

THE AGENT: Excellent!  Don’t worry – you won’t have to murder your adversaries with radioactive poison the way I do…

THE NEOCON: Shit.

THE AGENT: …because we have discovered a much simpler method to establish a Republican monarchy.  We just need to use your Constitution.

THE ACTOR: But the American Constitution is designed to prevent the rise of a dictator.

THE AGENT: Well, that may have been the case a couple hundred years ago.  But you really have to keep these things up to date.  When your Supreme Court ruled political contributions are protected as free speech, it opened the door for a lot of amendment twisting and reinterpretation.  We have done studies and we are confident most of your Bill of Rights can be similarly contorted to obtain the exact opposite effect as what its drafters intended.

THE ACTOR: But you’re suggesting we should subvert the fundamental basis of American Democracy!

THE PREACHER: Shut the fuck up, Moses.  My contributions are down 80%.  Let’s hear him out.

THE AGENT: Thank you.  We have identified two sectors of the American public that are extremely vulnerable to propaganda by tracing their acceptance of your “trickle-down” lie.  And, by the way, I want to compliment you on that one.  It was a real doozy.  The poor people most willing to accept it were also members of the evangelical church and the NRA.  Many are the same people.  We believe that if these groups were adequately funded by our government we could effectively direct public opinion in your nation pretty much indefinitely.  With sufficient contributions funneled through these groups we could also purchase enough Congressmen to guarantee our control over political opinion, as well.

THE NEOCON: You know, that actually might work.

THE PREACHER: I know the churches could control their flocks.  The Lord gives us the power.

THE ACTOR: Nothing’s more powerful than a good old shoot ‘em up.  The movies will inspire them!

THE AGENT: Then we’re all in agreement?

(The others glance at each other, then nod.)

THE PREACHER: I never knew subverting democracy could be so easy!

THE AGENT: Nothing to it, really.  It’s maintaining it that’s the bitch.

THE NEOCON: Sounds like a win-win-win-win.  Hard to see a downside – well, except for ninety-nine percent of the public, of course.

THE AGENT: Well, there is one little thing.  But you really don’t have to worry about it, now.

(The others stare at him in anticipation of the additional information.)

THE AGENT: For my plan to work the way its supposed to, you have to elect a moron as your President in thirty years.  Someone so incompetent his subversion will be viewed as stupidity.

THE NEOCON:  That’s it?  We just fucking did that.

THE AGENT:  Excellent.  You are three very impressive men who were recently just as important as impressive.  I am about to become very important.  When the Soviet Union collapses, the nation’s wealth will inevitably be redistributed.  I think we all agree that it serves our purpose best to have it in as few hands as possible.  White, male, Christian hands.

THE ACTOR: Cold, dead hands!

THE AGENT: Excuse me?

THE ACTOR: Sorry.  I was working on a line.

THE NEOCON: Brando would have delivered it better.

THE AGENT: As I was saying, I can assure you our white, male, Christian mega-wealthy will have the same agenda as yours.

THE PREACHER: You’ll be arresting black people for carrying weed, too?

THE NEOCON: And arming the mentally ill with automatic weapons?

THE ACTOR: And turning your sports leagues into propaganda machines for the military?

THE AGENT: Well, not exactly.  But we’ll be having a wonderful time watching you do it.  And, of course, rewarding you for your efforts.

(The others glance at each other and nod.)

THE PREACHER: Then I think I can speak for all of us when I say, “Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition! We got money to make!”      #RussianInterference

Read more…

Insignificance

 

With the release of the redrawn Congressional District map by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the Special Election scheduled for March 13 to pick a replacement for the district’s departed Congressman has already assumed a “special” – and quite ironic – level of insignificance.  As both parties and their wealthy backers continue to spend millions of dollars to influence the results in this once staunchly Republican district and polls show the race tightening, we have learned that the new 18th District will include neither candidate as a resident.

Millions and millions of dollars are being spent to decide who will represent a district that no longer exists in a contest between two candidates who no longer live in it.

So, what in the world could compel voters to drag themselves to the polls to vote for someone under these circumstances?  Only one thing.  Donald Trump.

If we wish to study the eroding support of the “President’s” ballyhooed “base”, the 18th District Special Election might well be a veritable petri dish. Ninety-five percent white and almost 50% male, brandishing a median household income of around $55,000 (which is greatly exaggerated by the wealthy people residing in its western half) and featuring a college graduation rate of around 33%, it is a microcosm of Trumpian America.  Like the next national election, this contest will swing largely on the votes of the lower Middle-Class

Democrats who have voted Republican since they were cajoled into patriotic submission by Reagan.  And, in the 18th District, those LMCD’s are primarily members of the ethnic working class of Pennsylvania; perhaps the most racist group of people residing north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Gun control won’t bring anyone to the polls.  Each candidate seems to have developed a case of cognitive dissonance regarding America’s gun problem.  But that’s just as well: most of the people voting in the election have, as well.

We still haven’t had any fourteen-year-old former girlfriends emerge to implicate anyone.  Neither candidate is a known spousal abuser.  No groping has yet been mentioned.

Democrat Lamb can say he will protect Medicare and Social Security from Paul Ryan.  Republican Saccone can say he’ll be the “tough” guy we need to protect us from Nancy Pelosi.  But the truth is, in a few months they’ll both be looking for work and in no position to protect anyone from anything.

In essence, we have ourselves a “Seinfeld Election.”  It’s about nothing.

And in our petri dish we have a tiny sample.  It’s white, racist, working class and angry; the same demographic that elected Reagan and all his progeny.  It has no reason to vote except to express its opinion of the state of affairs of American politics.

But with a simple and emphatic statement – which would surely be heard nationwide – it has the potential to reverse forty years of creeping Fascism by declaring in no uncertain terms that the white working class is beginning to recognize how cruelly and effectively it has been duped by Republicans.

This election means nothing to the 18th District.  But it could have enormous implications for the country.  

Read more…

Notes From the Frontlines

 

It isn’t surprising that the nation’s battle to free itself from the grip of its fascist suppressors has begun in Pennsylvania. Freely swinging back-and-forth from red to blue and back, again, the Commonwealth has become a microcosm of American political opinion. Lacking any semblance of a progressive agenda, our voters typically favor the lesser of two white, male evils – defined as the dude least likely to take away their guns – and elect morons and lunatics in the process. Without the right to amend our own constitution via referendum, we have to depend on the politicians already violating its provisions to protect us from themselves. And now we are facing the prospect of the impeachment of Supreme Court Justices by a Republican Senate possessing a super-majority (through its gerrymandering) because those Justices denied their leaders’ right to violate the PA Constitution.

Nothing can be much sadder than watching crooks trying desperately to hold onto the booty which they believe they’ve rightfully stolen.

Yes, Democrats gerrymander. It is somewhat ironic that the father of the practice, early Nineteenth Century Massachusetts Governor Elbridge Gerry, was a “Democrat-Republican.” (And you thought that Party started with Bill Clinton, didn’t you?) Districts drawn by Democrats in other states are undoubtedly just as deformed. And the fundamental processes permitting the ongoing power grab to continue – the methods states choose to redraw their districts after each census to account for populations shifts – must be re-examined and improved.

But this is about Pennsylvania. It is about the right of Justices elected by the people of Pennsylvania to “check” and “balance” the perceived right of a minority Party (which has gained power through unconstitutional methods) to steal another election. It is about the most fundamental elements of American Democracy.

Already we’ve seen the misdirection and diversion added to the discussion in the best Trumpian fashion. “Look at Maryland! It’s just as bad!” Unless it has recently ratified the PA Constitution, it doesn’t matter. “We have a right to gerrymander!” You have a right to redraw districts in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has the right and responsibility to determine if you’ve met the obligation. “Look at the campaign contributions the Justices got from politicians!” This is Pennsylvania, people. Everyone is getting money from politicians.

We elect our judges. They have to raise money to get elected. And the vast majority of their contributions come from lawyers, politicians and their PACs. Yes, it is a horrible system, readily manipulated by the greedy and corrupt. (One needs to look no further than the “Kids for Cash” scam for documentation of the latter fact. One needs to look no further than any judicial Campaign Committee report for validation of the former.) But since the only people who can change the system are those it has already elected, it’s about the best we can expect for now.

Meanwhile, the scheduled redistricting won’t impact the Special Election scheduled for March 13, meaning whoever is elected to represent the Eighteenth District in Congress may not serve past the end of the year; making the race and even more fundamental statement of acceptance or rejection of Donald Trump than it was when it began.

The ads have been running for at least a month and, although both Trump and Pence have been in town to campaign for the Republican, have yet to mention Donald Trump. But I can assure you – the voters who drag themselves to the polls to vote only for a Congressman to represent them for a few months won’t be thinking about how much Rick Saccone loves his god and the flag or how much Conor Lamb loves his gun. They will be there because of Donald Trump. And another defeat for the Republicans in this still-gerrymandered Republican district would send an emphatic signal that the voters have had enough.

The citizens of Pennsylvania should be enthusiastically applauding this decision by the State Supreme Court’s Democratic majority which affirms the pre-eminence of the rights of the People over the power of the Parties. The “nation of laws, not of men” can now be reborn in Pennsylvania, the state previously best known for potholes and political corruption.

That’s called “irony.”

[Featured image credit: DonkeyHotey/Flickr]

Read more…