The mentally ill guy shouting “I’m gonna fuck you up!”

is now POTUS and our Commander in Chief. Somebody give him a sandwich to distract him. Maybe after he finishes eating, he’ll take a little nap and we can all rest our ears. Or our eyes in this case, since our mentally ill guy tweets “I’m gonna fuck you up” instead of shouting it.

I don’t believe North Korea will launch missiles on Guam, but the mentally ill guy running that joint murdered his brother and is friends with Dennis Rodman. So shit could happen. Shit can always happen when two grossly incompetent males with bad haircuts and “issues” square off. Well, in this case, round off. And they can’t even settle things on the golf course, ’cause our crazy guy is a known cheater.

Here’s the deal. Sometimes what Trump says and does is simple madness. But, when there is a method to it, it’s always the same method: distract folks from his thieving and other crimes. Try to make them forget he crawled up Putin’s ass decades ago and still sleeps there. Don’t let anyone see behind the curtain to discover that Donald J Trump is a complete fraud. A charlatan.

I never bought that Donald Trump was serious about running for President. I always thought it was a business move and the only difference between him and a franchise owner like Herman Cain was a higher TVQ. But then red America … in its infinite stupidity and ignorance … kept voting for him, his creditors (red Russia) saw an opportunity, and Trump himself decided being President wasn’t a bad way to increase sales and brand recognition. While also keeping his Russian bookie from chopping off fingers, giving him a draft deferment or two that aren’t just lies.

(On a side note, why is it that the most bellicose war mongers are always the guys who dodged the draft and never served?)

I don’t think the dumb, lame fuck-you-up stuff will lead to a military confrontation. Anymore than it did when only North Korea needed a sandwich and a nap and we behaved like sane adults. But it pisses me off that I even have to think about it. And I can’t imagine how pissed folks are in Japan, South Korea, Guam.

Meanwhile, I’m going to keep my eye (mostly) on the ball, which stinks of corruption and deserves prison time. Not just for Trump himself but for his top campaign staff, for his various Mobbed-up monkey business business associates, and for his whole stupid shitty family.

May his fall from power happen sooner rather than later so the folks in Guam can get a good night’s sleep.

Blue People Trapped in Red Bodies

womens-march-indianapolis

This photo from downtown Indianapolis makes me nearly as happy as participating in the huge march and rally in Los Angeles did yesterday.

FOX reported (with admirable discretion given the fact FOX is the propaganda arm of the GOP) that the Indy Women’s March attendance was in “the thousands,” and I won’t make a guess based on one photo about how many thousands that might be. But I think it’s a safe bet that yesterday’s crowd was one of the largest for some time in my hometown, surpassing even the crowd that gathered to protest the 2000 firing by Indiana University of Bobby Knight. A Trump supporter, but – more importantly – a basketball coach.

Here’s the thing. We can’t right this ship unless we can turn a bunch of the red states blue and do it in two years … before the damage of unrestrained GOP gangsta rule becomes incalculable and irreversible. Mitch and Paul are licking their chops. So are their 1% “Fuck America, I Got Mine” supporters. Some of whom are now proposed for the Cabinet. Betsy DeVos, for instance, of Amway money, who never met a good public school she didn’t want to close and turn into a shitty charter school for the profit of a friend.

Indianapolis already knows that Trump lied about bringing jobs back to Carrier. The money he allegedly secured for Carrier will go toward automating the plant. Automation, by the bye, along with internet businesses such as Amazon and Uber, globalization, robber baron corporations who feel great loyalty to their short-term stockholders and none to their employees or communities, and those 1% UnAmericans who ship their jobs and profits overseas are the reason there aren’t any jobs left in Middle America. Not because a few black and brown folks still get food stamps. And a few elderly folks make enough from social security that they don’t have to share cat food with their cat.

In a month or two, all of Indiana will realize that the Obamacare they wanted to repeal is the Affordable Care Act that saved their kid’s life and made it possible for grandma to get a new hip. And the Hoosier faithful were never real warm to the idea of cozying up to the heathen Russkies. Just how far Trump has his head up Putin’s ass will hopefully become apparent to them and they won’t like it. And the Conman in Chief is no “Music Man,” that great mendacious musical written by a Hoosier, Meredith Willson. Not only will the Hoosier kiddies receive no musical instruments, the Music Man won’t be shown to have character and decency after all. And he’ll grab some other woman’s pussy after he’s done with Marian the Librarian.

And then there’s Pence. Speaking of musicals. Folks in Indiana don’t need to be told what a little shit Mike Pence is underneath the innocuous exterior. Initially as a Congressman (which took him awhile to attain because he used his campaign funds the first time around to pay off his mortgage), then as Governor, finally as Tea Party Senator, Mike has been doing to Indiana what he’d now like to do to the country. Which is basically to keep women barefoot and pregnant and close to the dinner table, deny rights to gay people, and tolerate and empower the intolerant. As governor, he pushed through the Religious Freedom Protection Act … because, you know, folks in Indiana are so restricted in their church-going.

Hmm, I wonder if the Religious Freedom Protection Act applies to Muslims.

How we got from Indiana voting for Obama in 2008 to cursing the nation with Mike Pence is the question that needs to be answered and addressed. If we’re to make sure that America (and especially states like Indiana) continues to have a pulse. Forget the Great Again garbage. Great Again like what? Like when black people knew their place and the only brown people were the wives of rich Indiana businessmen who spent their summers by the country club pool. Guys, the Fifties were sad and weird. And a helluva lot sadder and weirder if you weren’t white.

Somehow, some way, we have to make Hoosiers understand that their interests are not served by the servants of the 1%. They are still waiting for those jobs and that money Reagan promised them would trickle down. And, meanwhile, almost 40 years later, a whole lot more jobs and money have trickled out.

People in the middle of America have been lied to for so long, they are used to it. FOX news makes them angry – provides them their daily one-minute hates and gets the blood pumping – and then there’s their favorite bedtime story of what a Paradise This Would Be if the government just got off our backs.

To be told the truth is jarring for those of us who have been emotionally sustained by lies. It shames us, embarrasses, makes the blood pump in more stressful ways, keeps us up at nights. But a little time spent with Donald Trump as President might just open some eyes and minds. Maybe even hearts.

Events such as the women’s march in Indianapolis are a start. It remains to be seen whether it was an isolated protest by blue people trapped in red bodies. Or the beginning of real and lasting change. But I know it gave me hope.

I Give You Donald Trump on Brexit …

US tycoon Donald Trump (C) is escorted b

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/06/24/donald-trumps-brexit-press-conference-was-beyond-bizarre/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_fix-trump-newser-1130a-top%3Ahomepage%2Fstory

I made myself read this, so I could feel the utter sorrow of how empty this man’s head is. Under the yellow chick-feather hair. What a boob he is. If Trump ever knew anything … about anything …. he’s forgotten it. I think Trump was trying to suggest that Britain build a wall between themselves and Europe, but he got distracted by the bagpipes or something.

The Brits who voted to leave the EU are stupid. Sorry. Ignorant is the right word, not stupid. Although some folks are both. Last night they were acting like they’d just beat all of Europe in soccer … sorry, futbol. When all they’d done is voted to take their ball and go home.

They got scammed. By emotional appeals divorced from reason and devoid of facts. A lot of the folks who voted LEAVE are busy googling EU today and wondering what it is exactly they’d done. Because, at the time, at the rallies, in the pubs, they were just chasing a feeling that they liked. Of rooting for the home club.

In sports, you don’t play well with others. You play well against others.

I could feel superior, I guess. But then I look around. At my fellow Americans, many of whom get their news from Fox, which announced the Brexit vote with the headline “Britain votes to leave the UN.” And then I see who received the nomination for one of our two major political parties. Currently starring in The Apprentice Goes to Scotland. And I want to throw up. I’m that afraid.

The Party of Lincoln?

Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is today, was the first Republican President. The party that for more than a century afterward became known as the “Party of Lincoln” did not exist when Lincoln was born. It was founded – six years prior to his receiving its nomination – by Horace Greeley and other abolitionists in response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and to prevent the spread of slavery into new states and territories.

Abraham Lincoln is widely considered by historians to be our greatest President, certainly our greatest Republican President. His only major competition on the greatest lists is FDR, who was a) a Democrat; and b) got to serve two more full terms than Abe. Lincoln is also the “favorite” President of the majority of Americans (i.e., winner of the People’s Choice Award), popular enough to be the subject of a Spielberg movie and countless other biopics, so popular his head is on both the penny and the five dollar bill. Show me the money!

Surprisingly, however, almost none of the current Republican candidates for the top office list Abraham Lincoln as their favorite President.  These days, among the Tea Party of Lincoln, he gets almost no love at all.

I suppose this might be due, in part, to a lingering resentment of our 16th President in certain parts of the South, deemed key to their election by GOP candidates as far back as Nixon in ’68 with his so-called Southern Strategy. Lincoln didn’t respect property rights and he insisted on calling the Civil War the Civil War instead of the War of Southern Secession. A lot of current Republicans also view the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution as egregious examples of judicial overreach and the work of Congresses that would have been well-advised to focus instead on budget deficits and putting pushy women in their place. Sorry, in two places … kitchen and bed.

So who are the favorite Presidents of the current leaders of the Party of Lincoln?

John Kasich’s favorite President is fellow Ohioan Warren G. Harding, who proved that public service didn’t have to prevent you from continuing to earn a good living. Recent dropout Chris Christie is a big fan of another Ohioan, William Howard Taft.

Jeb Bush’s favorite President is George Herbert Walker Bush and he hopes you’ll forget that he is also related to the other President W. Marco Rubio’s favorite President was Fulgencio Batista and he’s hoping to make Cuba the 51st state. The favorite President of failed candidate Paul Ryan is Ayn Rand … somebody break it to him now that Paul has more time to read. Ben Carson liked President Jesus. And the favorite of Donald Trump won’t take office until 2017 … President Donald Trump.

And that just leaves us Ted Cruz, the only candidate who lists Lincoln as his favorite President, but it isn’t Abe Lincoln, it’s some other Lincoln guy.

Which is maybe why that every time I see an elephant these days, he’s crying.

Tom Paine: Not Invited to the Tea Party

Thomas Paine (January 29, 1737 – June 8, 1809) – America’s 1st Democratic Socialist?

Contemporary America’s sunshine soldiers and Tea Party patriots like to occasionally drag out Thomas Paine quotes – accompanied by an airbrushed drawing of his ravaged, dour, pockmarked face – and pretend like Thomas Paine would have been their buddy if he’d only lived another 200 years. The quotes are usually along the lines of “no taxation without representation” and government “being a necessary evil at best.” Stuff like that. Never mind that Americans have taxation with representation (at least they did, before most of Congress and the majority of state legislatures got completely bought off by the filthy rich and the big corporations) and that the government Paine was usually talking about – in his Revolutionary propaganda pamphlets – was the government of England.

(They stop short of claiming Paine as a fundamentalist Christian, one of the founders of the Christian Nation, because … you know, The Age of Reason.)

The most vehement pretend-populists among American conservatives also like to talk a lot about “common sense” – sometimes ascribing their deep meditations on the subject to Thomas Paine or was it Thomas Jefferson? … somebody named Tom – and they like to say how common sense is the only qualification a person really needs to do this government stuff. The inference being, I suppose, that Joe the Plumber could have written the Declaration of Independence if he’d just gotten around to it and hadn’t been so busy doing real American work like unclogging toilets and drinking beer.

(Speaking of which, where is Joe the Plumber this election cycle? Shouldn’t Trump and Cruz and company be vying for his endorsement to go along with Sarah’s? Is he Joe the Senator now and nobody told me? Is he the Fox News American history correspondent?)

But I don’t want you to think I have anything against plumbers … when my drain is clogged, they’re the first people I call … I don’t just stop some guy off the street at random and pay him to fix it. Because knowledge and experience actually do count for something. And you need more than common sense to unclog a drain. Uh-oh, does that fancy opinion make me an “elitist”? Sacre bleu, does it make me French?!

Let’s consider this common sense stuff a moment longer … what dictionaries say it is, what some folks mean when they say it, and what Thomas Paine meant. Here are three general dictionary definitions of common sense:

  1. The ability to think and behave in a reasonable way and to make good decisions.
  2. Sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts.
  3. Sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge, training, or the like; normal native intelligence.

You get the idea and I think you’ll agree with me that when Sarah Palin or Trump or Cruz or some other pseudo-populist Republican talks about common sense, their idea most closely resembles definition 3 and they broaden its application to just about everything. All that book learning just screws you up. Messes with your common sense. We were all born knowing more than Barack Obama. And Trump was born knowing more than everyone else.

When Thomas Paine used the term common sense, however, he was mostly referring to definition 2 and he was also joining a philosophical discussion that dates back as far as Aristotle. And the judgment that Paine thought common sense would assist his fellow Americans in reaching (based on a simple perception of the situation and facts) was that Britain was in violation of the Colonists “natural rights” and, not to put too fine a point on it, had to go.  I hasten to add, however, that Paine believed there was a learning curve attached to simple perceiving and that it was necessary to use your brain to reason your way toward a conclusion. You couldn’t just “know” stuff. You had to learn the situation and facts. You still had to think.

Based on this analysis, I conclude that, if Thomas Paine’s drain had ever been clogged, he would have called a plumber (i.e., someone with specialized knowledge and training). Maybe Joe the Philadelphia Plumber in waistcoat and powdered wig.  Which I guess makes Paine an elitist. And possibly means he is French.  He did, after all, journey to France to foment revolution there – Paine was sort of the Che of American liberty – but landed in prison and nearly ended up on the guillotine because he opposed the Reign of Terror.

Activists participate in a tax revolt rally in Santa Barbara, CaliforniaHere are a few more of Thomas Paine’s beliefs that would disqualify him from Tea Party membership.  I present them in no particular order and imagine that a few might come as a surprise, particularly if you think Paine was a no-tax nut or an antigovernment guy:

  • A maternity benefit for poor children that amounted to a kind of Head Start program
  • Public education for all up to and including higher education
  • Public assistance and training for young people seeking work
  • Health benefits for the poor
  • Other welfare programs that amounted to a guaranteed minimum income
  • Extensive veterans benefits, starting with veterans of the Revolutionary War
  • Social security (beginning at age 50, but people died earlier then)
  • Public burial (and we’re not talking a plywood pauper’s coffin in a kiln)

And how did Tom Paine propose that we pay for all this stuff? Uh, by taxes. Specifically by heavy taxes on the rich and propertied classes.  And, as far back as the American Revolution, Paine proposed a federal tax to pay for the war and its expenditures.

Thomas Paine had done his research on his “social agenda” for America – he’d thought long and hard about his ideas – but he also decided they made good common sense.

To which the Tea Partiers don’t have a whole lot to say … except maybe “Oops.”

Information Wants to Be Free

Well, if that’s true, information got its wish.

Abandoned LosAngeles Times VendingMachine2011

Boy, did it ever.

And, as a result, news and entertainment empires have crumbled, other industries still scramble to adjust, cultural authority has dissolved, and most of the fun jobs – musician, writer, photographer, actor, editor, filmmaker, etc. – have mostly been turned into hobbies.

Where we – buskers, all – play for hat money.

buskers 2

A brief history lesson. It was Stewart Brand (editor of the Whole Earth Catalog in the 1960s and the founder of The WELL and other “virtual communities” in the 1980s) who first uttered the words: “Information wants to be free.” Aptly enough, they were uttered at the first Hackers Conference in 1984 – I find both event and year ironic – and they were said to Steve Wozniak of Apple. Which I also find ironic. Here’s the full quote:

“On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other.”

Brand’s words – in and out of context – have been debated and distorted ever since; their meaning tends to change depending on who is doing the quoting. When computer scientists say them, for instance, they generally mean the cost of producing information has gotten progressively lower. And that, once information leaves the control of its source, it becomes virtually impossible to prevent its replication and wide distribution.

In other words, once the digital horse has left the barn, good luck ever getting it back.

When technology activists quote (or misquote) Brand, they are usually arguing against the tyranny of intellectual property rights and the oppression of the big bad corporations that preceded the bigger, badder corporations who profit from all that free intellectual property now.

When college students say it, they just mean they don’t want to pay for music, movies, TV, or anything else they can share or steal off the Net. And, when a whole generation has grown up acquiring the stuff they want for free, how does that particular horse get back in the barn?

All of which is a roundabout way of saying, “Welcome to My Blog.”

It already has some information, uploaded and retooled in a holiday frenzy. And it will acquire fresh information on a more or less daily basis. Which will mostly consist of my views and re-views of culture, politics, and history in more than 140 characters (i.e., the length of a tweet).

And, although my blog doesn’t actually “want” to be free, it is. So read what you find here at your pleasure. And your periodic displeasure … if I’m doing my unpaid job well. Feel free to pass it along.

And Happy 2016!

Bob Hope: Immigrant

On this date in 1920, Bob Hope became a citizen of the United States

Reagans_with_Bob_Hope_1981

That’s right, folks, that most American of Americans – the Entertainer in Chief to our troops, 14-time host of the Academy Awards, and the darling of conservative politicians of previous generations – was an immigrant.

Born in England to working-class parents, Bob Hope and his family passed through Ellis Island in 1908 on their way to Cleveland, Ohio. The Hopes were poor … as a child, Bob busked in the streets for money … and it was hard to understand their English until they learned to speak  American.

BOB HOPE
FILE–Comedian Bob Hope entertains troops at Cu Chu, 20 miles northwest of Saigon, Vietnam, in a Dec. 1970 file photo. (AP Photo/file)

And, just in case you’re wondering, I’m glad we let Bob stay. For one thing, it’s the Christmas season and I love his version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Doris Day. I also admired Hope’s devotion to America’s soldiers, regardless of the merits of the wars they were fighting.

Here’s a couple more photographs of Bob with GIs and others. Post them to Cruz and Trump and company. Or attach them to the latest sure-to-fail version of the Dream Act.

Maybe we should call it the Hope Act?

Hey, Hey, NRA …

“Hey, Hey, LBJ, How Many Kids Did You Kill Today?”

vietnam-protest-monument-ap691115062
A crowd of demonstrators gather at the Washington Monument for a rally to protest the Vietnam War on Nov. 15, 1969.

At the height of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, U.S. casualties numbered 11,000 to 16,000 per year. Gun homicides now account for 11,000 deaths per year in the United States. When you add in accidental deaths and suicide, you’re looking at over 30,000 plus gun deaths annually or more than half of the TOTAL U.S. casualties in Vietnam (58,220).

During the Sixties, there were widespread, continual, and quite large protests against the Vietnam War. And the protestors had no problem assigning blame where it belonged: on U.S. Presidents and our other political leaders who supported the War. Along with corporations such as Dow Chemical, who supplied the napalm and other weapons of war.

The young protestors weren’t polite. They accused Lyndon Johnson and other American officers of murder and it got to LBJ , cost him sleep, was a major factor in his deciding not to seek a second elective term. Nobody wants to be called a baby killer.

WayneLaPierrewithrifles

Wayne LaPierre is a baby killer. So are other advocates from the NRA gun lobby and their supporters in the general public. After the most recent Senate vote to defeat gun control legislation, Mitch McConnell has the future blood of children on his hands. So does Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Richard Shelby, Orrin Hatch, Max Baucus, and another 40 Senators who took contributions from the gun lobby to vote against the bill.

Not that their hands – and those of a myriad other Presidential aspirants, Congresspeople, and state and local politicians – aren’t already bloody enough. And let’s not forget the Roberts Supreme Court, which set two centuries of Constitutional precedent aside (google Justice Warren Burgher and “fraud” for context here) to please their political backers and friends. Blood is the new Black for Supreme Court robes.

So where are the pickets outside each of these politician’s offices? Outside NRA headquarters and its every branch? Outside the Supreme Court? Where are the rude signs and the ugly chants? Why haven’t we filled the streets of our bloodied cities with marchers?

When are we heading to Washington? How about next week? By then, only a few hundred more innocent Americans will have died from gun violence. By next month, only another nearly 3,000. Including, of course, kids.

And here’s the best part. If you defeat the politicians in the gun lobby, make their elective lives miserable, you also win on Planned Parenthood, climate change, criminal policing, raising taxes on the rich, and most of the other important issues. The men and women with gun blood on their hands are on the wrong side of those issues, too. And they’re also the ones who are always so anxious to send our young men and women off to die in foreign wars.

Young people, I’m staring right at you. You guys are always on the lookout for something fun and interesting to do. How about starting a Revolution? Or at least an organized, non-violent, protest movement to take America back from the gun lobby. Put down your cell phones and pick up signs. Get your exercise in the streets instead of at 24 Hour Fitness.

And it’s not like there are all these great jobs waiting for you. You got screwed there, too. By the same assholes who raised your tuition and jacked up your student loans. And, while you were busy ducking and covering or in lockdown, they stole your future and gave it to the rich.

C’mon, young folks, you can do it! And we old folks will help. With advice and guidance and funds. And we’ll join your marches, too. I promise. Limp along beside you.

Maybe it’s not time for another Revolution. Not quite yet. Maybe we won’t even need one if we do these other things. But it’s definitely time to hit the streets again. And not leave them until they’re safe.

Charlton Heston Revisited

Time to pry the rifle from Charlton Heston’s “cold, dead hands”

HESTON NRA

The NRA’s former spokesperson – and chief delusionist – has been gone seven years now and over 200,000 additional American victims of gun violence have followed him to the grave. So it’s also past time we pried the rifles, assault weapons, and hand guns from everybody else’s warm live hands. We can’t continue like this. And half measures don’t do shit.

We need a new NRA (No Rifles Allowed) that will lobby to rid this nation of guns. I don’t believe that the 2nd Amendment confers an individual right to bear arms (and neither has any Supreme Court until this most recent Roberts one). But, if enough people do believe that, then let’s repeal it.

Either way, we need federal legislation similar to England or Japan or Canada or Australia or any other nation on earth with public spirit, reason, and a soul. I know some of y’all are afraid a what the guv-mint might do to ya if ya cain’t stockpile weapons. But the rest of America is afraid of you. And we’re tired of being afraid. And heartbroken. And sick to our stomachs at the country you’ve made.

No more delusions. No more guns.

The Original Party Animal

Robert Welch, Jr. (12/01/1899 – 1/06/1985) – Founded 1st”Tea Party.”

robert_welch

The John Birch Society was started in 1958 by Robert Welch, Jr. (the handsome devil pictured above) and had dozens of chapters nationwide. It is not the direct antecedent of lunatic-fringe rightwing groups such as the Tea Party and Club for Growth,  but the similarities are manifold and there are strong family connections. One of the original 12 members of the John Birch Society (as well as its principal bankroller) was a fellow named Fred C. Koch, founder of Koch Industries and the father of Charles and David Koch. That’s Fred, below, reading to his two young sons.

Fred Koch reading to his sons

Hatred of all government and taxes, overt racism, extreme anti-immigrant attitudes, and a conspiratorial bent that makes the Birthers and 9/11 Hoaxters look like Voltaire and his colleagues in the Enlightenment… those were America’s John Birchers.

birch poster
They lost
power in practical politics when prominent Republicans such as William F. Buckley and Barry Goldwater called them on their shit … but don’t hold your breath over that happening to the Tea Party anytime soon. Courage is in even shorter supply now (and shit in greater abundance) than during the McCarthy Era and early 1960s, the 1st Tea Party’s heyday.