Saturday, October 27, 2018

On Fake News, Immigrants, Terrorists and Bombs

"Well I got my windshield so filled up with flags I couldn't see
so I ran my car up the side of a curb and smack into a tree.
By the time they got the doctor down I was already dead
and I can't understand why the man standin' there at the Pearly Gates said:

"Your flag decal won't get you into Heaven anymore.
We're already overcrowded from your dirty little wars.
Y'know Jesus don't like killin' no matter what the reason's for
and your flag decal won't get you into Heaven anymore."
                                                                      John Prine

Terrorists. Immigrants. Bombs (how could we have forgotten about the bombs.) What do these words have to do with "fake news"?
Not to worry. I've activated my magic Foxlandia decoder ring I ordered from a Breitbart-sponsored mega-church, deployed my handy screenshot feature on my Mac, inserted the images below into the decoder ring (because we're all so image-centric these days, aren't we?)  and I came up with the following hologram.

This is the guy who was arrested this morning for mailing pipe bombs to elected officials (including two former presidents) and at least ten other prominent American citizens who have criticized our dear fascist "leader" (in the interest of remaining on trump's enemies list, I will insist on referring to him factually. I hope this interest is widespread by now, because what are you going to say to your grandchildren if you aren't?). He is white (the Seminole Tribe has no record of anyone like him being a tribal member or anything related to the tribe he invoked). Got it? OK, now scroll down.

Here's another picture of the van the white guy was arrested with. It has sick, violent stickers all over it. You can see public figures and and elected officials with red crosshairs aimed at their vital organs. Trump stickers, in other words. The NRA, of course, is responsible for the crosshairs subculture, and is the reason this guy wasn't arrested just for driving down the streets with such blatant threats of violence to the public. They have this power because they're a terrorist organization with Russian connections, but that's another blog I. For our purposes, it's only necessary to look at the van. It's white. I admit it takes a bit of forensic fortunetelling to see this clearly, but, fortunately I don't need science. I have my Foxlandia decoder ring that gives me a ringside seat (so to speak) into trumpworld and Voila! This white van, owned by a white guy caught engaging in a white terrorist act that would have had him shot in a New York minute if he wasn't...y'know...white, is "fake news." Got it? OK. Scroll down.

This is Gregory Bush. He's the guy who entered a grocery store in Jeffersontown, Ky, last week and shot two black people, one fatally, after first trying to enter an African-American church nearby. Gregory Bush, as you can see, is white. Fake news, says my decoder ring. Got it? OK, scroll down.

This is Robert Bowers. He just walked into a synagogue with an assault weapon in Pittsburg (Today! While I was writing this up!!!) and shot 17 people, killing 11. He was able to do this because of such lax gun laws in this country that just about anybody can walk into a sporting goods store and buy an assault weapon with the multi-round-clip accessory package. Just about anybody can do this because of the NRA, who accepted $30 million plus from Russian operatives and gifted it to trump so that he could be our president. But Robert Bowers isn't "just about anybody". He's not an African-American, nor a hispanic, nor a middle-eastern terrorist (note: my magic decoder ring tells me that everyone with family ties to the Middle East are terrorists), nor (and you really need the magic decoder ring to see this) a hippy. Robert Bowers, as you can plainly see, is white. Fake news....oh wait. Here's an interesting tidbit just in: he walked into the synagogue shouting "All Jews must die!" OK. Got it. Scroll down.

Here's a couple pictures of white supremacists rallying in Charlottesville last year. You'll notice that, apart from them being white, their mouths are open. As they brightened our world with their tiki torches--and just before a young woman was run over and killed by one of them--they participated in some good ol' summer-camp-quality chants. One of the chants was "Jews will not replace us!" Maybe these pictures were taken while they were chanting this. Who knows? Anyways, according to my Foxnewslandia decoder ring, these are "really good people". Any other interpretation, of course, is fake news. Got it? OK, scroll down.

Here are some of the people in the migrant caravan currently making their way up from (mostly) Honduras, through Mexico on their way to the U.S. border, where they hope they will be treated with more kindness than the thugs running that little client-state of ours (Honduras.) Right away you can see the difference, can't you? These people are not white, not white at all! Therefore they are rapists and criminals and middle-eastern terrorists, everything, in other words, our dear fascist "leader" says they are without a shred of evidence other than...y'know...wink, wink...they're not white. My Foxlandia decoder ring lights up with warm and fuzzy red, white and blue strobes even as I write these words. Yes, it tells me. You got it right: Be afraid of these people, because they are indeed not white, and this is real news, got it? Be very afraid, OK? Real news. 
Scroll down.

This is your neighbor. Feel warm and fuzzy about him, because he's surrounded by American flags. In fact he's holding one, so he's clearly a good guy. He was photographed at a trump rally just before the election in 2016. He's giving trump the Nazi salute. Feel good about that, my decoder ring tells me, because he's white. Feel good about it, or get over it, or go f... yourself, my decoder ring tells me. My decoder ring really doesn't care which.

I know this analysis is full of holes, but everything is happening so fast, it's the best I can do right now. I want to post it right away, though, even in its garbled state, and send it into Facebook Ether, or wherever pieces like these go these days, because, after all, the mail bombs and the synagogue massacre are so fresh, and news cycles are turned around so quickly now, I feel compelled to put something out there before it all gets cycled out and re-rinsed and forgotten...again...just like the last bombshell from a week ago that we also aren't talking about anymore:

Can we start calling this fascist takeover for what it is? While we still can? 

Both sides of the story, NPR? Not the time to "politicize" acts of homegrown white fascist terrorism?

It's not nice to call people a fascist? 



Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Horns of the Dilemma

Lots of folks back east they say
leavin' home most every day
hittin' that hard ol' dusty trail to the California line
across the desert sands they roll
gettin' out of that ol' dust bowl
think they're going' to the sugar bowl
here's what they find.
The police at the port of entry say
you're number 14,000 for today

If you ain't got the do-re-mi girls
if you ain't got the do-re-me
well you better go back to beautiful Texas
Oklahoma, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee
California's a garden of eden
it's paradise to live in or be
but believe it or not you won't find it so hot
if you ain't got the do-re-mi.
                                       Woody Guthrie

Facebook is probably evil, but it's no use. I'm addicted to it now, and it's all Standing Rock's fault. Before I went there I never used Facebook, didn't know how it worked and couldn't have cared less. But Facebook was where all the vital information was being shared by activists, for keeping out of trouble, for getting into it, and for everything else. People will chatter, you know. It's endemic to our species. We can't shut up, and I guess we figure if we chatter enough we will occasionally "share" something useful. It's no surprise, then, that Facebook fits our shotgun approach to inter-personal communication like the glove it was craftily designed to be. Apparently I was no different than anyone else. Clearly, I couldn't escape. So in the interest of due-diligence, I started in, learned my way around (sort of) and now I can't quit. Another well-meaning activity gone awry, like the opioid crisis...

...but never mind. Here's the thing: I occasionally see posts on Facebook from a distant cousin of mine (B.), like the one below. They're usually from the same far-right website called "Conservative Nation". I must be a "friend" of hers (or something.) I get them about once-twice a week, I see them, and am appropriately-appalled. "How could anyone..." I start to think, and then I know, or think I do, become more appalled, and scroll down and away from the ugliness that lurks so close to every dark heart closely related to ours. I know, I could "unfriend" her, but I "secretly" find it fascinating, really, seeing what some people actually believe and then doing mental gymnastics trying to figure out how they could possibly and then, scrolling away, away, as far as I can, and then repeat. That's the goddam thing about Facebook. It's as much an exercise in self-awareness as anything, which is unsettling.

And that's why I saved this one. The backstory is that my distant cousin, B., is the offspring of our original "Okie" cousins, my mom's actual cousins who literally ran away from starvation during the Dust Bowl with the clothes on their backs, some family heirlooms, and a pretty nice car compared to some of the Dorthea Lange jalopies that have been burnt into our national memory about those years.

As Woody Guthrie alluded to in one of his famous songs (above), the Okies were not met with kindness at the border where Route 66 threaded into the California desert at Needles. The governor had set up roadblocks at all such ports-of-entries, illegally siccing the state cops on them, cynically giving them a number and telling them that they had choices, just like anyone else. They could either camp in the hot desert with their families and starve some more, or go home. Our Okie cousins somehow got through, probably because they could give the address of family already living in the state, and landed on my grandparents' ranch in Central California. They were given work and a place to live by my grandparents and great-grandparents who had been in California for decades by then, and this has been part of our family narrative for the next 80 years. "Okie" was a dirty word then, a fightin' word, but our family, who had been in California longer than many of the bigots of the day who insisted on such distinctions between "us" and "them", ignored the bigotries of the day. Because of their kindness, in other words, and humanity, our cousins (mostly) survived and eventually thrived enough to produce my distant cousin who now finds it necessary to post far-right screeds like the below. This is the family-history I grew up with. Naively, I thought it was hers, too. 

We've all been buffaloed, once again. I wish Woody Guthrie were still around to nail it, but I guess we'll have to settle for Taylor Swift-style coming-of-age spectacles instead. Anyways, I worried on it a little bit, then, since I had some pictures in my files to do the visual, I thought I'd make up this (I hope) funny little collage.

Note to angry people: Watch your mouth. Someone may take a picture of it.

Philadelphia, Mississippi

In August of 1980, a former California governor did an odd thing. Before he was a governor, he’d been an actor, in Grade-B Westerns portraying men with easy access to guns working out Civil War-era post-traumatic stress disorder in a white man’s world, all of which helped him in pulling off the odd thing. He was telegenic, he knew his part, and the rich loved him.
The odd thing he did was this: He showed up in Philadelphia, Mississippi on August third to give his first speech after the Republican Convention in Detroit where he had just been anointed their official candidate for president. As with other such campaign speeches coming from presidential candidates right out of the box from their party’s convention, it was a calculated one, carefully crafted to set the tone for the candidate’s trajectory into history, or its dustbin. Just as in real estate and armed conflict, location was important, and so it is was in 1980 presidential politics.
Not many Americans can point out Iraq or Afganistan on a wordless map, nor can they attach meaningful words to Philadelphia, Mississippi today. But the following are a few words I would attach to the place if it were a blank spot on that blank map which (I guess) most Americans use these days for navigating around painful issues. Philadelphia, Mississippi was the town where three civil rights workers--James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner--were murdered by the Klan only sixteen years earlier, in 1964, the same year Congress passed the Civil Rights Act. In fact, the murders of the three young men during the civil rights action known as Freedom Summer was one of the big last straws that finally broke Jim Crow’s back in Mississippi and the South, and compelled the nation’s politicians into finally passing a civil rights bill. 
Freedom Summer was organized by a lot of groups, but the main one was the now-legendary Students’ Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. SNCC was a group of young practitioners of that rare discipline among activists in any age: profound courage. They believed in doing things that were seen as presumptuous and threatening to the powerful and were therefore, upon doing them, more powerful than the powerful. Things that would get them jailed, beaten up, killed. All for that silly cause: human dignity. Sit-ins, freedom rides, the 1963 March on Washington. Very, very presumptuous things to do in the eyes of the powerful, the status quo, and therefore, by definition, threatening to them. One of SNCC’s presidents, Stokely Carmichael, later popularized the term “Black Power”, a phrase the defeated segregationists in the South found presumptuous at best. And what was the presumptuous goal the murdered men were pursuing that summer in Philadelphia, Mississippi? Registering eligible voters. Politicians were embarrassed, a civil rights bill was passed, and Jim Crow waited a bit for the next turn of the screw.
Jim knew, of course, that he wouldn’t have to wait too long. Ronald Reagan chose Philadelphia, Mississippi out of four million square miles of United States territory to aim his trajectory into history, which he did, and he did not mince his words. In an open ploy to woo working-class Americans away from paying attention to their own best interests, Reagan declared that “states’ rights” and truncated interpretations of the U.S. Constitution that would shrink the government’s power to regulate those who felt entitled to unregulated wealth, bigotry or both would be his central themes. Of course these were the same themes the South had used a century earlier to defend their “peculiar institution” and to forever justify their rebellion and then, after they lost that war, to justify Jim Crow. Reagan didn’t quite go as far as to call for a rebirth of the Confederacy, but he did a good job of acting like he did, and the rich loved him. 
Five months later Ronald Reagan was sworn in as America’s 40thpresident. Simultaneously, fifty-two American hostages were released in Iran, where they had been lanquishing for 444 days. The Hostage Crisis, as it was popularly known, had become an audacious, unthinkable assault on American Exceptionalism and had become the screaming subtext of the entire presidential contest. An upstart Islamist country had insulted the United States by imprisoning its citizens and for 444 days there seemed to be nothing the benighted Carter Administration could do about it, no resolution that could be offered to assuage the People, who decided to give the actor a chance. 
Then, as if by a lovely magic of such quality that no one really took much notice at the time, Reagan’s Puritanical inauguration speech laced with American Exceptionalism, seemed to instantly release the hostages into the air, delivering them from Evil, as promised. Reagan, of course, didn’t resolve anything, but he did a good job of acting like he did, which  was his job. Modern-day Republicans still have this event burned into their memories which, by the way, is a medical procedure that takes up a lot of space and accounts for John Bolton. And what is it that's burned into their memories? That Reagan delivered. 
Money can’t buy happiness, but the rich and powerful who supported Reagan certainly could have bought a grandstand event such as the end of the Hostage Crisis for their candidate, who promised and ultimately delivered vast, temporal wealth to a tiny percentage of the human population at the expense of the entire rest of the human race, including America’s once-vaunted middle-class. You don’t have to subscribe to any “October Surprise” conspiracy theory, though, to look at the thing, scratch your head and--if you were alive and aware in those times--remember the sounds from your T.V. set’s tiny, inadequate speaker, as Reagan inaugural words about “a city on a hill” (American Exceptionalism) were interspersed with the tinny sounds of a roaring jet leaving the Tehran tarmac. As we say today about a worldwide cabal of oligarchs play a president like casino chip, WTF?
One thing is beyond question: The dark wells of conscious political powerbroking were most certainly tapped when Reagan visited Philadelphia, Mississippi and, as always, there’s plenty of evidence laced within our current events that speak to the fact that it’s never been dealt with, even superficially. We wonder, these days, where Trump came from. Well, we often wonder the same thing about cancer and, after it shows up, a good few of us practice the all-too-human traits of procrastination and denial on it, hoping it will "just go away". 
           With that in mind, I'd posit that cancer has this in common with fascism: Once you know you have it, you either deal with it early or it get worse.
            The proof's in the pudding.  

Thursday, October 4, 2018

F.B.I. Loyalty to Trump??!!

Former F.B.I. Director James Comey During Congressional Testimony Last Year Receiving Orders From a Coffee Cup Instead of "President" Trump
(Republican Conspiracy Theory #27018-b: see F.B.I. Kavanaugh Investigation appendix)

The firing of former F.B.I. Director James Comey by Trump last year for being “disloyal” to him personally, and the hiring of a millionaire Republican operative to take his place (Christopher Wray) should have been our second constitutional crisis. One of the first issues Mueller was supposed to investigate, in fact, was whether Trump intentionally obstructed justice by firing Comey for not being “loyal” to him and dropping the “Russian matter”. The first constitutional crisis should have been Mitch (Sock Monkey) McConnell’s refusal to schedule Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearings while Obama (“that black guy”…wink, wink) was still president. 
Neither of these were dealt with as the crises they were because the Republican majority wanted to give their rich benefactors (and, indeed, themselves) large amounts of money from the public coffers.
This they did, and now we have the spectacle of a “loyal” millionaire F.B.I. director helping Republican senators and the "president" cover up an investigation so the Supreme Court can be stacked with Far-Right Federalist Society members. All of these bad actors have been involved since the beginning of this charade, all started out extremely wealthy, and all are getting wealthier and wealthier each day (and month and year) this charade continues.
Republicans (and corporate media) have this game they play with us. They tell us there are “two sides” of any issue like this, and each side should be equally heard and then we should “move on”. They frame these catastrophic issues of their own making (a standard racketeering tactic) as a “Republican vs Democrat” thing, and since corporate media is owned and operated by extremely rich people, they use this false wedge to further frame anyone who opposes them as “Democrats” and therefore “evil”.
OK then. Let’s just admit that there’s no doubt that a certain percentage of any human population is either amoral, mentally-compromised, hopelessly bigoted, batshit crazy, or a combination of those choices. OK. Now let’s have a reality check with a mere observation: just because our demonstrably-failing society rewards sociopaths with vast amounts of money and power, that doesn’t mean that they are leaders, or even that they have a broad constituency behind them. It means, simply, simply…that they are demagogues.
OK, finally, the question, a simple, simple one: just exactly when did the president start having the right to be telling the F.B.I. who and what to investigate in matters writ large like a SCOTUS nomination (or anything!?) without setting off constitutional crisis alarm bells?!
Jeezus H. (himself) Christ! Remember the Benghazi “hearings”. Remember Bill Clinton’s inquisition (by these same emperious jerks?!) What if Obama or Clinton had pulled this? The Horror!...right?
The real question, as far as I can trace it is this:
Since when, oh mighty millionaires and billionaires, did you become our princes and princesses?