The 650 Club

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The number, is 650.   We heard it first from someone telling us that the FBI had found an additional 650-thousand emails that might or might not be related to a previous investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.  I believe I heard it first from Donald Trump, on 10/31, when he delivered a speech in Grand Rapids.  I immediately wondered who could store away that many emails without having their hard drive explode.   But maybe.   Maybe it’s a really big laptop.  I also wondered how Trump came up with the number of 650-thousand, when, at that point, the FBI was saying they really didn’t know what they had.   Maybe nothing.

In releasing the news that they might or might not have something to the Congress, which ensured a leak to the press, the FBI, intentionally or unintentionall (it really doesn’t matter at this point), was helping to throw the election to Donald Trump.

Can this be happening in America?

But there was another “650,” still to come.  Once again, I heard it from Donald Trump.    This time it was Trump warning us that Mrs. Clinton has plans to allow “650-million” immigrants into the country.   Now that’s really interesting, since the total population of the United States is only 324-million.  You can only imagine what we’d do with an influx of 650-million immigrants.

What next?   A proclamation that someone is “hearing” that 650 illegal immigrant rapists are hiding out in the basement of Clinton’s home?   They can send the FBI out to investigate, just to be sure there isn’t a problem.   That should be good for another three or four points in the polls.    This close to the election it won’t matter that it’s total nonesense.

Neocon Republicans created this monster by stretching their practices farther and farther beyond acceptable political norms.     Now,  like the creature from Mary Shelley’s tale,  the big orange patchwork politican from New York is totally out of control and the Neocon bosses, holed up in their castle on the hill are helpless as the product of  their outrageous, self-aggrandizing, irresponsible behavior threatens to run roughshod across the land.

FBI Director Comey Had Better Get Busy

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Eleven days away from the election, with Hillary Clinton beating Donald Trump at the polls and beating him rather soundly, the Director of the FBI breaks with Justice Department tradition and policy, and releases a letter to members of the Congress (which ensures it will be released to the general public) stating that he has found even more emails relative to an already concluded FBI investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email address and a private email server at her home in New York.   Or maybe not.  The emails, on a computer owned by former Congressman Anthony Weiner, may or may not be related to the former investigation by the FBI of Mrs. Clinton’s private email server.   An investigation heavily promoted and pushed to the max by Republican members of congress.

Comey’s letter says he doesn’t know what he has.   Maybe nothing.   With the election only eleven days away, and no search warrant for Comey to go through the emails in question, all of it starts the pundits and social media buzzing about the damage it might do to the Clinton campaign.   It also connects Mrs. Clinton’s name and her campaign to Mr. Weiner, who is under investigation for allegedly using his computer for so-called “sexting.”  What a coincidence.   But then it could be that Mrs. Clinton never even sent an email to Mr. Weiner’s computer that may or may not have been used by his wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin.  So many unknowns.

With only eight days to go, Comey, who was a Republican with heavy high-level ties to Wall Street and international financiers (he was on the Board of HSBC Holdings) prior to registering as an Independent in 2016, announces that he has finally obtained a warrant to go through the emails,  even though the FBI has known about them for several weeks.  It’s another coincidence that sends poll numbers for the Clinton campaign falling, possibly ensuring another stolen presidential election by the Republican Party, which, in the case of this particular election, is being openly promoted and therefore supported by none other than Valdimir Putin.   But all of this is also, mere coincidence.   We are supposed  to believe there is no political motivation on the part of Comey.   Which could be the case.  Or maybe not.

If Director Comey and his FBI are determined to place Mrs. Clinton under this kind of public scrutiny,  a nearly unprecedented scrutiny which breaks with FBI policy of releasing nothing until an investigation has at least gotten to the point of being able to draw valid conclusions from it, not to mention this close to an election, then the same must be done for every elected and non-elected federal official and employee with a security clearance who has (or had) a private email address since 2009.   He should also obtain search warrants for the hard drives and servers of each and every email address those same federal officials and (or) employees have sent emails to or received emails from since his investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s server began, again, dating back to 2009, to determine whether any of them might have caused a breach in national security.

That’s a whole lot of snooping to do.   Director Comey had better get busy.    He needs to do it fast if he is to make it clear to the general public that at this point, Mrs. Clinton is innocent of having done anything chargable and is therefore not worthy of all this attention so close to a national election.   Unless all of this is something more than mere conincidence.

The burden of proof rests not with Mrs. Clinton, but with FBI Director Comey, who had better get  moving unless he wants to be remembered as the guy who threw the election in favor of a reality show host who refused to release his tax  records while being openly supported by the Russian Government.   That doesn’t sound very good, does it?

While we’re on this road, which Mr. Comey has chosen to follow, how about a public pronouncement from the FBI  with regard to any  information they may or may not have regarding Mr.  Trump’s friendly relationship with the Russians that might or might not go anywhere legally?  What’s that you say?   That you can’t discuss an ongoing investigation?   That it’s longstanding FBI policy not to do so?  Do tell.

The Case For Hillary

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Early voting is underway here in Maryland.   This is much to the State’s credit, although I wish they would get rid of their stupid closed primary so I could go back to being the independent I was for most of my adult life.

But back on topic.  I think two outcomes are possible in the presidential election.   One, is that Hillary will win by a huge margin.   The other, is that she won’t.  Either way, what we are witnessing appears to be the  politics of desperation.   A shoot-from-the-hip kind of non-fact-based rhetoric, that turned Donald Trump’s buffoonery into a serious threat.    If the polls are to be believed, a great many people are now desperate enough to elect a man whose campaign began as a kind of political joke.   A sideshow to the real race that eventually turned reality on its head as millions of Americans, living on the edge and feeling abandoned, gave up on the “business as usual” politics represented by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, thrusting the nation into the politics of desperation.

Why desperation?   That’s easy.

In October of 2014, Christopher Inghram wrote a piece for the Washington Post entitled, “Child poverty in the U.S. is the worst in the developed world.”   In his story Inghram reports that “The United States ranks near the bottom of the pack of wealthy nations on a measure of child poverty, according to a new report from UNICEF. Nearly one third of U.S. children live in households with an income below 60 percent of the national median income in 2008 – about $31,000 annually.  In the richest nation in the world, one in three kids live in poverty. “

You need more?  Okay, here it is.   According to the U.S. Census Bureau, things are improving, but we still have a big problem with 43.1 million Americans living in poverty in 2015.  That’s 3.5 million fewer than 2014.   It’s an improvement, but still an outrageous number condering the United States is the seventh richest country in the world.

No matter what misinformed, disinformed or just plain deluded individuals might shout out at rallies, we are not number one.   Based upon data from the IMF we are number seven, Behind Qatar, Singapore and Norway among others, all of whom appear to be unaffected by the much publicized evils of socialism the right continues to promise will be the end of  us all.   Not really.   That’s disinformation.  For some of the wealthiest countries on earth, a little Socialism is a very good thing.   It’s working very well.  Not Communism.   Take a deep breath, try and calm down before you start shouting.  What many countries have is Socialism in conjunction with free enterprise.  It works, no matter what Ayn Rand and her Neocon fear peddlers might tell you.

Believe it or not, Mr. Ripley, in most of the developed world, there are people who think others who are sick or infirm or broken and  bloody, deserve healthcare, even if they can’t afford to pay for it.  It’s called advanced human civilization.    Beyond that, and amazing as it might seem, keeping people healthy is far more cost-effective than letting them fall terribly ill and then paying to sustain their illness for months or maybe even years.  What a shock.

It was along those same lines, undoubtedly in consort with a fact-based investigation, thatBarack Obama began promoting a public option as part of the ACA.   That’s the “Affordable Care Act,” or what some call “Obamacare.”  He wanted a form of national healthcare that would actually compete with the private health insurance industry, but had to give up on it lest his entire health reform package might be shot down by legislators bought off by lobbyists for the healthcare industrial complex.    And so, again according to the Census Bureau, 29-million Americans remain uninsured, while the cost of private health insurance continues to rise.

At the same time, as Bernie Sanders loved to point out before his campaign was sideswiped and run off the road by the Clinton machine assisted by a less than impartial DNC,  “America now has more wealth and income inequality than any major developed country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is wider than at any time since the 1920s.”   Another factoid Bernie loved to hammer home was that, “There is something profoundly wrong when 58 percent of all new income since the Wall Street crash has gone to the top one percent.” 

Yes there is, and Bernie got it, but Bernie, unfortunately, is no longer in the race, leaving us with Hillary and Donald Trump.

I don’t care for Hillary Clinton, what with her ties to Wall Street and big corporate money.   But I will vote for her.   With Hillary, at least we know what we’ll be getting.    At least she has given some indication of who she is – a centrist Republican in Democrat’s clothing.   With Mr. Trump, there is no certainty as to what he might try and wose yet,  do,  as president, other than continue to objectify and belittle women while making outrageous statements containing little or no fact as he launches childish ad hominem Twitter attacks and threatens lawsuits against anyone who questions his opinions as master of the universe.   Except for people he likes, like Vladimir Putin, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Governor, Chris Chrisite, who is currently under investigation in connection with the “Bridgegate” scandal.

Mrs. Clinton, is clearly far from perfect.  My biggest concern is whether she will be able to poke her head out from inside the beltway bubble that encapsulates so many in D.C., preventing them from seeing the deperation that exists in a world with no connection to the toney eateries of Georgetown.   A desperation that has convinced millions that it will be a good idea to let Mr. Trump blow up the existing broken government rather than giving Hillary a shot at trying to fix it.

For me, the risk of voting for the political fantasyland of Donald Trump, is far too great.   I’ll be voting for Hillary in the hope that she can permanently shake off the Neoliberal persona that had firmly taken hold of her before Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders came along pulling her back to the traditional ranks of real Democrats, providing hope to so many of the hopeless.   Like millions of students, being crushed by student-loan debt and homeowners facing foreclosure by corrupt bankers.   A wealthy nation being smashed by income inequality with a neo-feudal system ignoring those in need while people like Donald Trump promise to give even more tax-cuts to the wealthy, perpetuating the practice of “trickle down Reagonomics” which has failed the nation’s common good so miserably.

With Hillary, at least we know what we’ll be getting.    At least there is hope for her to continue along a less Neoliberal path.  Hope that she will be further persuaded by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, that there is a better way.    With Mr. Trump one fears that we will all eventually see fiction turn to fact,  with millions of us relegated to being litle more than steet urchins standing out  in the cold with our outstretched hands pleading on behalf of our empty bellies, “Please Sir, I want some more.”  

Arrest Warrant Issued For Reporter Covering News In North Dakota

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It’s bad enough to have a presidential candidate repeatedly egging on large crowds with the idiotic charge that the very same media whose coverage permitted him to run for the highest office in the land is now somehow “the enemy.”   It’s a basic bullying tactic demagogues have used for years to try and kill Democracy by shutting down the free flow of  honest information by  co-opting the press.   We should all be alarmed at the degree to which Trump’s supporters are buying into this lie about an imagined media conspiracy attacking his candidacy.   We should be further alarmed by the suggestion that the “2nd Amendment people” might be able to do something about what Donald Trump claims is a “rigged election.”  This is more than bad enough, it’s beyond the pale and totally unacceptable behavior by anyone in the national limelight.

Now, on a completely different front but nonetheless alarming, we have a well known journalist, Amy Goodman, being forced to stand before a judge in North Dakota, for the crime of committing journalism.  One would expect to hear about this kind of kangaroo court prosecutorial nonsense in some third world country,  not here.

Goodman, committed the unforgivable sin of taking her camera crew to the scene of a standoff between an oil pipline company and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe near Mandan, North Dakota.   The Standing Rock Sioux and others, fear that a rupture in a pipeline that’s being built across sacred land could pollute the nearby Missouri River, a source of drinking water for millions.   So, they have been protesting the pipeline’s construction.  Ms. Goodman, went out to cover the protest and has subsequently been charged with trespassing, a charge that was dropped when the local DA apparently decided he couldn’t make it stick.   So he then turned around and charged her with “riot,”  because she was there with a camera crew covering a protest that had been ongoing for months.

The Nation magazine reports, “Their protests, which began in April and ballooned through the summer months, represent the largest mobilization of Native American activists in more than 40 years—and one of the most vital campaigns for environmental justice in perhaps as long.”

For the most part the story had been ignored by the mainstream networks and now Goodman has been charged because she took a camera crew out to cover it?

Issues facing native Americans have been largely ignored for  years, as white society turned a blind eye to the reservations.    Covering the Sisseton Whapeton Sioux Tribe was one of the reasons I was hired to go to South Dakota in the early 70’s.   The Native Americans there were tired of being ignored by the media.   Some,  in the days before cable and satellite,  had filed lawsuits demanding more and better coverage.  It’s a trend that continues, as the mainstream networks largely ignore the battle between the Standing Rock Sioux and those who would run a pipeline across sacred Native American ground with the obvious support of local government officials who are now prosecuting a nationaly known journalist for being so bold as to commit journalism.

It’s something to  consider while we  continue watching paid political “surrogates”  shout out lies at otherwise responsible journalists on    CNN, while the network ignores the Standing Rock Sioux  and other valid issues, like a reporter being arrested for the crime of committing journalism in Morton County, North Dakota.

There is news out there, if only the 7/24 “news” channels would cover it.   Why don’t they?  Probably because it’s easier, less expensive and far more dramatic to pay people to stage news by putting them on a set and then having them scream at one another ad nauseam about Donald Trump’s tweets and Hillary’s email.

Their imperative is  not covering news to educate and enlighten their audience, it’s making a profit.   Any obligation they might have to their viewers is nothing more than an afterthought.   Moreover, a dangerous connection exists between news organizations promoting the lies of a demagogue by paying surrogates to repeatedly go on the air and spew their manufactured venom and a journalist being hauled into court in a  county which apparently has no belief in the First Amendment.

The  danger this disinformation and misinformation has to the country should be obvious.   At some point public good must be elevated above profits and our courts must do all they can to protect the First Amendment rights of those who gather information in an effort to educate and enlighten.

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The “riot” charge against Amy Goodman was dismissed by a Morton County, ND judge on 10-17-16.  

The California Drought – More Than Five Years

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Hillary Clinton is currently on stage with Al Gore in Florida.   She is of course, hitting the topic of climate change and hitting it hard.   It’s understandable.    What I do not understand is why Mrs. Clinton and network reporters continue to talk about the “5-year drought” in California.   It isn’t that they’re wrong, it’s just that there’s a much bigger story.   It’s not just a 5-year drought, it’s the wost drought in California since the state started keeping records more than 100 years ago.

The New York Times reported in April of last year,  that “The drought, now in its fourth year, is by many measures the worst since the state began keeping records of temperature and precipitation in the 1800s. ”

In addition, the humidity is rising in Southern California.   I lived in L.A. for 33 years and watched it happen.    When I got there in the early 80’s, Southern California was famous for its “dry heat.”   When we left a year ago it was still hot, but it was hot and humid.   Bye, bye dry heat.  This isn’t exactly a secret.    The Christian Science Monitor and other responsible journals have reported it out and still it’s being pretty much ignored.

With so many climate change deniers itching for a fight, and some of them funded by the fossil fuel industry, all of that may be too much to handle?   But for the time being why can’t the networks and the politicos acknowledge that what Cali is currently experiencing is much worse than a 5- year dry spell?   Is it denial or maybe a fear of forcing the issue as to the seriousness of what’s happening in California and the impact it might have on the rest of the country?   Enlighten me, please.   I have had it with hearing about California’s 5- year drought.

From Santa Barbara being forced to take its desalination plant out of mothballs to orchards being chopped down and plowed under in the San Joaquin Valley to water rationing in Los Angeles, this isn’t just a scratch, it’s a severe laceration cutting down into the economic muscle of a state, which, standing alone, represents the 7th largest economy in the world.

Waiting For The Comet

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A couple of thoughts on the debate.

-Mike Pence, has obviously been told by the RNC to “just hang in there with this bozo through the election, and you’ll be our guy in 2020.”

-Overwhelming ignorance of the Army-McArthy hearings, Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy and Trump mentor Roy Cohn, screams out with regard to the need to improve public education in America.   How can we not keep repeating mistakes of the past when so many are ignorant with regard to what the past contains?   Are any of the schools teaching American history?   This could be a problem in urban areas which can’t afford to buy materials – exotic teaching tools like books and computers –  and in some of the former slave states which seem to regard historical fact as abhorrent.

-The wisdom of the founder’s inclusion of the electoral college has never been more apparent.

-I was in locker rooms through high school and while in college and I can’t remember anyone making jokes about commiting sexual assault.  Not funny.

-One presidential candidate does  not threaten to throw the other candidate in jail once elected.    Trump seems to think the President of the United States is a bannana republic dictator without checks and balances.   Like the law.

-What is Trump’s nasal dysfunction?   Why does he start snorting when he gets excited?  Why isn’t anybody talking about this?  Is it a nervous condition or something else?   More material for SNL?

-Why isn’t anybody talking about the necessity of shortening the  American campaign process and limiting campaign funding so that we don’t have to go through this endless agony, which, due to the money raising involved, is now almost never ending.    The best government money can buy and the fund raising never stops.  This is madness.   The British process might be better.   We need to take a look at it and consider making changes.   Far less suffering.  Not that we need a monarch or anything, just a shorter process with controls on spending.  Until then, as one comic put it (it might have been Lewis Black), we continue “waiting for a comet to come blowing the Earth to pieces, bringing us all some blessed relief.”

Michael Moore, Glenn Beck And America’s Class Divide

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It had never occurred to me, but now it’s clear.    It came from two disparate sources, Michael Moore and Genn Beck,  at exactly the right time.    A time in which I and millions of others (I suspect) are at the end of our patience with listening to an endless stream of electioneering lies and blather to the point that it is becoming nearly meaningless.

First it was Michael Moore, talking about millions of Americans, many in the rust belt, who feel betrayed by the system, and who will be voting for Donald Trump because they believe he will blow up the process that has shown them nothing but neglect.   These people are desperate and they don’t care what the New York Times reports about Trump’s taxes.   Desperation will do that to you.

These folks are not among the grass-fed beef eating and educated “elites” who will be voting for Clinton.   These people are our neighbors who need to go fishing and hunting to put protein on their tables because they can no longer afford the price of groceries.   They are living from paycheck to paycheck or with no paycheck at all and they feel overlooked and neglected, cut off from an elitist process that favors the wealthy.   So they will vote for Trump, because he promises to blow up the process.  Because with America’s new class system the process is leaving them behind, opening the door for an extremist  (possibly someone with unacceptable ties to Russia who refuses to release his tax records) to get elected as our next American President.   Even that will be better than what they now do not have.   Or so they think.

That was Michael Moore’s thesis, except for the part about a disenfrancihsed electorate opening the door for tyranny to sieze the White House.   That part came from Glenn Beck, who, almost totally (as hell froze over), agreed with Michael Moore.   All of it struck me this morning, as I had just finished reading an excellent piece in The Guardian entitled “Hidden Faultline”   How Trump v. Clinton is laying bare America’s class divide.”    

David Smith’s story, profiling some of my fellow Marylanders,  paints the picture  for those of us who still don’t get it regarding the divide between educated organic food eaters who are logically (they think) voting for Clinton, and all those others who think that almost anything, including Donald Trump, will be better than a continuation of the broken government we already have.

This dear friends, as Glenn Beck has pointed out, is how tyrants come to power.    Which could very well happen, unless we all pull together to demand a more representative government, one that can be trusted to look out for the best interests of all Americans, and not just a priviledged class.    On this point, I fear, Mrs. Clinton is dropping the ball.  Reforming the broken, bought off and generally bribed to death federal government she has been a part of for so long  is the  elephant in the room.   We need to recognize that it’s there before it steps on us all.    Sending Bernie Sanders out to plead with politicially exhausted Americans to vote for Hillary because Trump is unacceptable may not be enough.   One gets the feeling that Bernie’s real conviction is that Hillary is still too much of an insider.    Too much of a Wall Street moderate Republican in Democrat’s clothing to deserve a full-throated Sander’s endorsement.   Just more of the same old, same old politics as usual, and Bernie’s supporters know it.   It’s why they aren’t tripping over one another to throw their support to Mrs. Clinton.

We should not be heading into an election with (by some estimates) 40% of the electorate prepared to rise up in anger if their guy loses because they have lost all faith in the American political process.  If their side loses, they will be sure it was because the fix was in with the result assuring that they will remain locked in a lower class.  Doomed to pay their fair share of taxes while the uber-wealthy,  like Mrs. Clinton’s Wall Street buddies, dodge their tax responsibilities with tax code hustles, corrupt banking practices and offshore accounts.

This cannot be sustained at a time when Vladimir Putin is positioning himself to take advantage of our division by hacking out our electronic guts.

Our politics have let us down.   We appear to be on the brink of something very, very bad.   On the other side of the equation is the thought that if Glenn Beck and Michael Moore can be in agreement on anything then perhaps, just perhaps, we might get through this madness in one piece.   If only someone can show enough leadership to heal our class divide.    Clearly, Donald Trump, with his border wall, racial fearmongoring and derogatory comments about women and the disabled, is not that person.

 

Why All The Giant Eyelashes On TV?

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I may catch hell for this, but what’s up with so many women journalists on television wearing false eyelashes?   And not just small false eyelashes, eyelashes so long that they impact the local weather and threaten to knock small birds from the air when a correspondent blinks.

It’s bad enough that women are expected to look like beauty queens, spending untold hours on hair and makeup, but now, for some reason – maybe they’re being ordered to do it – they are wearing these goofy eyelashes.

Appearance on television is important, but come on folks, give the women a break.   Let them get rid of the giant eyelashes.  Give them a little more  time to focus on their journalism and  less time on hair and makeup, a luxury the men already enjoy.

The Solution To Surrogates – Don’t Put Them On The Air

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Prior to this current election cycle, the word “surrogate” was never applied to a paid professional political spokesperson.   It was normally used in relation to “surrogate mothers,” and not some paid hack sent out by the Trump campaign to use the outrageous and far less than civil technique of talking so loud and so non-stop that your opponent is forced to just sit there saying nothing.   In other words, beat your opponent over the head with non-stop noisey blather until he or she gives up.   They all do this, so they have obviously been trained in the technique, turning talk shows into a waste of time.

There is nothing collegial about this technique.   It has nothing do with an exchange of valid information in a search for the truth.  It is simply one more way to hide the truth behind a heavy veil of nonsense.  In our current tv-rich political environment, it is a despot’s best friend.   And  Donald Trump’s people, his various beauty queen  “surrogates,” are using it often and well, which is bad for anyone who is trying to figure out what’s really going on.

Imagine what David Brinkely or Sam Donaldson would have done when confronted by a “surrogate” defending birtherism or greed being good or the need for global warming or Mexican’s as rapists or closing the borders to all Muslims or Hillary’s emails after the issue had been settled by a lengthy congressional hearing and an FBI investigation.    Brinkely or Donaldson, would undoubtedly be incensed at being played for fools.  They wouldn’t put up with it.  I can imagine Mr. Brinkely saying, “You must think we’re all idiots if you expect us to sit here listening to this nonsense.”   God only knows what Sam might say.   But he wouldn’t just sit there accepting surrogate blather.   There might be a fistfight.

Sam is  retired and David is dead.  In their absence surrogates should not be allowed on any responsible political program on television.    They have nothing new to add, no interesting analysis, just the same old disingenuous rubbish the Trump campaign has been parroting all along.   The tv shows need to get back to the standard of bringing on people who have something thoughtful to contribute to the discussion.  People like journalists, scholars, and writers.    Naturally, legitimate spokespeople from the political camps will need to be heard, but the various show’s producers know who is likely to take part  in a serious discussion and those who are being paid to simply repeat nonsense that’s already been heard.    Somebody with some actual political credentials.  If they want to spout propaganda, then let them hold a news conference and face the questioning of journalists.   If the news conference is a total waste of time, as was Mr. Trump’s recent appearance outside his new hotel in DC, then the press will report it as such.

This works.   We did it for years.

The 7/24 newschannels might lose some viewers, so this bold idea of not letting people who have nothing to say on their air  would be more of a public service than a ratings booster, but hey, can’t they take this giant step because it is in the nation’s best interest to stop giving a national platform to liars who are knowingly telling lies because that’s what they are paid to do?

The simple solution to surrogates is to not put them on the air.   Most people get their news and information from television.   Banning surrogates will improve the value of our national discussion immeasurably.    It’s the right thing to do, so it probably won’t get done.   The Trump camp would scream bias.   They would shout out that their free speech rights were being violated.     Unless the  newschannel producers and other execs didn’t tell anybody what they were up to and instead had a silent understanding that surrogate hacks with no interest in taking part in a serious discussion of the issues  would  no longer be used on their talk shows.   That might work?  Too much to hope for?

Go ahead, try it.   Stop putting these surrogate hacks on your air.  It’s the patriotic thing to  do.

Police Union Endorses Gospel Of Bigotry, Fear And Hate

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It is disheartening to see that The Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police union, has endorsed Donald Trump.

Sometimes union leaders make very bad decisions.   This is one of those  times.   With a candidate as controversial and inflammatory as Trump, someone who has been labeled as being downright “dangerous,” by several of the world’s great newspapers, the blanket endorsement makes the union’s members appear uninformed and biased in favor of a candidate who preaches bigotry and comes across more like a a third-world strongman than a leader who exhibits thoughtful judgement through well-reasoned policies.   It also relects badly on unions in general.

How can the FOP possibly endorse a candidate  who suggests that the way to  deal with someone who disagrees with you is to “punch him in the face?”   A man who says that in the old days, protesters would have been “carried out on stretchers?”  A candidate who wonders outloud what might happen to Hillary Clinton, if her security guards had no guns, or suggests that the “Second Amendment people” might be able to do something about Mrs. Clinton, should she be elected?

Note to the FOP leadership:  Your endorsement indicates approval of all that Mr. Trump has said in the past, including what appears to be the suggestion of a possible assassination attempt on a future President of the United States.

Second note to the FOP leadership:   Your officers already have an image problem with regard to their relationship with America’s minority communities.   Do you really think that supporting a candidate who has almost no support among African-Americans and who wants to  build a wall between the US and Mexico will help street cops win the hearts and minds of the communities they police?   Shouldn’t you be more interested in mending fences than in further dividing your officers from the communities they serve?  Or would you prefer turning our inner-cities into even bigger war zones, putting even more police and civilians at risk in a country that leads the world in the number of people under incarceration.

The  following is an exerpt from a lengthy and insightful article entitled “Donald Trump Is The World’s Most Dangerous Man” in the widely-read German newsmagazine “Der Spiegel.”   The FOP leadership needs to read it .   And then, after becoming better educated, they need to rescind their endorsement of Mr. Trump, post haste.   You can read the entire piece by clicking on the hotlink at the end of the quote.

“If the most powerful office in the world wasn’t at stake, all this wouldn’t be nearly as dangerous. Germany has been too busy dealing with the supposed threat posed by refugees in recent months to appreciate what’s really been going on across the Atlantic. Despite their differences, the US and Germany share an unshakeable faith in democracy and freedom. But nothing would be more harmful to the idea of the West and world peace than if Donald Trump were to be elected president. Compared to that, the America of George W. Bush would seem like a land of logic and reason in retrospect.”Der Spiegel

 

(trump photo courtesy michael vadon/wiki commons)

We Need A Wall Alright – But Not On The Border

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I know I said I was getting off the bus until November, but hey,   I’m gonna hop back on for just a minute or  two.   Have to, or my head might explode.  And it’s Trump’s fault, with his latest nonsensical attack on Hillary Clinton.

It’s bad enough that she’s worked herself into a state of falling prey to pneumonia, but now Donald’s people are firing up the Republican Party’s favorite old campgian trail technique (other than telling outright lies), and charging Mrs. Clinton with doing what Donald’s been doing all along.  Preacing the politics of hate.  In other words, he’s accusing his opposition of doing what he originally did.  It’s verbal misdirection.  Politicial trolls used it successfully in both Bush campaigns and now they’re using it again.

It is a bit confusing, so here’s an example.  You go  out and say something totally outrageous and hateful,  like implying that all Latinos or Blacks are poor and living in the inner-cities or refusing to denounce a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.   Or making the claim that the first black President of the United States, wasn’t born on U.S. soil.  You then charge your opponent with spreading the politics of hate.   Actually, you were the one who was spreading hate but by saying your opponent did it (misdirecting it), you are forcing her to defend against something she did not do.  In the process the truth becomes lost in all the smoke, at least partially taking the onus of racial hatred away from your campaign.   Republicans love it, they’ve been using it for years.   Apart from outright lies, like implying John Kerry was self-serving for being awarded three purple hearts in Vietnam.    Stuff like that.   Stuff that is so outrageous as to be nearly insane.   Statements that leave pundits and reporters alike sitting there wide-eyed and slack-jawed, mouths hanging open, unable to respond from lies so big and bold and nonsensical that no adult would believe they are coming from the mouth of someone chosen by his party to run for the presidency.

Some people willingly buy into lies.  For others, just making an implication is all it takes.  They heard their guy say it at a rally or on tv, so for them it becomes the truth.    Hillary Clinton and not Donald Trump is running a “hate-filled” campaign.   Not really.   That’s what Donald said, but it’s actually the other way around.   Now that you know how the technique of verbal misdirection works, you can get past it and seek out the truth.  Unless you don’t really care.   Unless you are one of Trump’s followers who will buy into anything the man says.   But why?

In The Washington Post, Dana Milbank writes, “In June, the Pew Research Center found that 79 percent of Clinton voters believe the treatment of racial and ethnic minorities is an important issue, while only 42 percent of Trump supporters feel that way. As I wrote previously, earlier Pew research found that Trump supporters were significantly less likely than other Americans (and supporters of other Republican presidential candidates) to think that racial and ethnic diversity improves the United States. ” 

Racism by any other name is racism.   While Milbank argues that half of Trump’s supporters have proven their bona fides as being racist, there are those who are not racist but are supporting Donald Trump simply because they can’t stand Hillary Clinton, who, many of them say,  represents “more of the same.”

With  sixty-percent of Americans having a hard time paying their rent each month and fifty-three percent worried they might not be able to pay their mortgage, “more of the same” is not good  enough, creating a huge desperation factor that’s playing to Donald Trump’s favor.

History teaches that desperate people will turn to a strongman who promotes himself as prophet and savior while using those who are too weak or too poor to fight back as a scapegoat.

In a brilliant piece in The Guardian, Bill Moyers reports that the gap between rich and poor Americans is the widest it’s ever been, as “the top 10% now hold more than three-quarters of the country’s total family wealth.”

Hillary Clinton, needs to hit the wealth gap issue hard and to keep hitting it once she is rested and ready to go.   She has to convince Trump supporters that she’s actually going to do something about it.  She also has to keep hammering away on Trump’s failure to produce substantial medical and tax records.

Forget Hillary’s pneumonia.   With some rest and antibiotics she’ll get over it.   As for her medical history, she’s been around long enough to have provided a pretty clear picture of any condition she might have as well as having her doctor produce a substantial breakdown on her health.   Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has left American voters in the dark, issuing reality talk show generalities about his health but no real numbers.    Donald needs to report into the Mayo Clinic for a complete physical with the understanding that the Clinic will release the results to the press.

Those three issues, the great American wealth gap and Donald’s health and tax records might swing the election for Mrs. Clinton, provided the electorate and the media can get past all the lies and verbal misdirection, building a big, beautiful, BS-proof wall that Mexico won’t have to pay for.

Getting Off The Bus Until November

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Siezed by a kind of political madness heretofore unforseen,  our  country cries out for someone to make some sense of the insanity.  But the great Hunter Thompson is dead,  his remains shot from a cannon in Woody Creek.   In his absence, no one was coming close to describing exactly what’s going on, with or without Dr. Thompson’s gift for hyperbole, until comedian Lewis Black nailed it on one of the talk shows the other night.   “It’s like fiction,” he said.    And he’s right.

Like the O.J. Trial, nobody would believe this were it not actually happening,  with one candidate refusing to emerge from her bunker to do a news conference while the already explained, endlessly ivestigated and dismissed with anyone with an IQ above of 75, email controversy continues to rage.

At the same time,  Donald Von Tumpenheimer, who advocates carpet bombing the Middle East and parts of North Africa (although he didn’t get real specific about exactly where he’d drop the thousands of bombs, bowing away untold numbers of innocent non-combatants) and has referred to Mexicans as “rapists” and says he’ll arrest them all and send them back (or maybe not) before putting up a wall between the U.S. and Mexico (or maybe not) and getting the Mexicans to pay for it (ain’t gonna happen), is actually on his way to Mexico, to meet with Mexican President  Enrique Pena Nieto, who, like Trump and Clinton,  is terribly unpopular with his constitutents.

There’s another word that describes what’s happening, it’s “blech,” (with an emphasis on the elongated gutteral “c” as in “blecccch”).   This entire political season has devolved into a steaming, stinking pile of blech.

It’s just plain nuts, and people are buying into it.   It will, however, be fascinating to see what Von Trumpenheimer comes up with and whether Pena Nieto will agree,  so that both men come out of the meeting looking better than before.   Both of them must think they can do just that, or the meeting wouldn’t be taking place.   A meeting between two blechmeisters.  Or maybe it’ll just explode in the Donald’s face,  with great globs of acidic blech flying everywhere, leaving him with nowhere to go.   I doubt it though, as he always manages to come up with something, no matter how amazing and overstated and unbelievable it might be.   Which has worked pretty well for him so far, as there are those who will believe anything he says, even without any tax records or a vaild report on his health or proof that  his  wife and models for  his  modeling agency immigrated legally.   Blech!

As horrible as it  might seem, there are those who have gotten used to it and now fondly look forward to a daily dose of blech.   Some  even  binge  on it.

So, gentle reader, we are left with two candidates, both terribly unpopular,  trying to win the hearts and minds of  a nation badly misinformed by pundits and the latest vile political concoction, the so-called “surrogates,” who fan out over the nation like the hired trolls that they are,  spewing and splattering bias-filled and highly toxic blech, further marking the death of well-informed objectivity on America’s airwaves, satellite and cable.

I’m tired of being slimed by their blech, day after day.  Blech, from the candidates, blech from the pundits, blech from the surrogates, blech from those who repeat the blech that has been repeated a thousand times.  Like Hillary’s email or anything that comes out of Donald Trump’s mouth.    Piles of blech.

I suspect any number of others feel the same.    Millions of Americans,  fatigued by the endless stream of blech.   So, I quit.  I am, as Dr. Thompson would have put it, “getting off the bus.”  I’m dropping out and ignoring the whole screaming, steaming, slimy, disgusting mess until November, at which time I will return with a vengence, voting for every Democrat on the ticket.

My people were hard-bitten Eisenhower Republicans, from the  great State of Minnesota.   As a child, “I Like Ike,” was my entree into the world of politics.   But then it started going sour, possibly with Barry Goldwater wanting to nuke North Vietnam, never mind the billions of Chinese just next door.  From there it only got worse, with Ronald Reagan tearing the heart out of American unionism with his “take our deal or your fired” offer to the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization follwed by years of deregulation and offshoring of jobs gutting Middle America to the delight of the free-trader Republican Neocons, who came to control what was left of the party.

Over the years I didn’t leave the Republicans,  the Republicans left me, to the point that they now endanger the continued existence of the Republic.   They’ve already effectively killed American Democracy by buying off our political process and then convincing a misinformed electorate that voting for a party that supports corporate feudalism is in their own best interest.  Hopefully,  if enough people have enough good old Minnesota common sense, this election will be the end of the Republican Party.  Is that really too much to hope for?

Republicans,  have done nothing but kill each and every initiative that might move the country forward.    Anything that promises to create jobs and lift Middle-America up out of the hole it’s in, has been killed by the “Screw you, I’ve got mine” corporatist credo of the Republican Party.   The American union movement that once served as a balance to the corporatists, has been devastated as the deregulation of greed-fed “Reagonomics” moved forward.

Greed must be controlled, or we will cease to have a reasonable civilization.   We will be thrown back into feudalsim, with Democracy nothing but a distant memory.   Just one more failed social initiative.  Something a few idealitsts believed in way back when.   That’s where the Republicans, Trump or no Trump, will take us.   Streets filled with blech.  That’s who Von Trumpenheimer, really is.   He want’s to be in charge.  Totally.   An American version of a third world strongman.  And that is terribly dangerous.

On the other side, a Democrat in the White House, backed by Dems in the House and Senate, will at least move us forward, with an eye toward improving the country for everyone, and not just the wealthy few, even if that Democrat happens to be Hillary Clinton.  I  don’t care for her, but she’s far better than the poor little rich kid from New York, who’s trying to set himself up as “Blechmeister Supreme, Emperor of the North!” – which, dear friends,  is simply too terrible to contemplate.

See you at the polls in November.   Please be there and vote for Hillary Clinton.  She is at least, in touch with reality.   The Republicans have gone bye bye.

Beyond Anything Joe Goebbels Imagined

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Remember the words of FDR when he said, “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself?”  I wonder how many Americans have forgotten or perhaps never heard Roosevelt’s wise admonition?

We are currently being given a daily dose of fear on our  big screens.   Hitler’s propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, would have loved our current techno-political culture.   Goebbels advised to, “Think of the press as a great keyboard on which government can play.”

Watch more than an hour or so of “news” on television each day and you are sure to be siezed by fear as politicians and advertisers play away for all they’re worth.

Consciously or subconsciously, you will feel the fear.

Fear of Zika, Donald, Hillary, Putin, Iran, China, ISIS and Neo-Nazis.  Fear of losing Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the U.S. Postal Service, along with public libraries and public schools.  Fear that we’ll run out of money before we die.  Fear of at least a dozen new diseases you had never heard of that ad-execs have boiled down to acronyms to make it easier for you to “ask your doctor.”  Fear that higher education will no longer be affordable to any but the wealthy few.  Fear that the Constitution will be further stripped of its power.  Fear of climate change, foul water and unbreathable air.   Fear of weed killer that goes in the ground and never goes away and eventually ends up in our bodies.  Fear of frankenfood, a general fear of giant agricultural concerns killing family farms, and not knowing what’s in much of the food we eat.

Fear that we can’t go outside or we’ll be victimized by crime, so we load our guns that we never properly learned to use, and wait for a home-invasion robbery.   Fear of people who look, talk or worship differently than we do and that they might have bigger guns than we have.   Fear that somebody is coming to take away our guns.

Fear of a mostly profit-driven media that’s losing all sense of public responsibility leaving us with nowhere to go to find out what we really should be worried about as opposed to what is mere illusion, foisted upon us so that we are more easily controlled and duped into giving away that which is ours to predatory capitalists who deal only in greed.

Fear that nobody is really in charge anymore.   Real leaders, like FDR, who told us the truth about fear rather than filling us with fear to cover the truth.

We had Bernie Sanders trying to help us find a way out of this new world order, this corporatist maze, but they took him out of the picture early on, refusing to admit that he might have even a narrow chance of defeating the mighty Clinton/Wall Street machine.

Again, the evil genius Joseph Goebbels, comes to mind with his words, If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” 

The truth,  is that we’ve gone beyond the state, beyond anything Goebbels imagined.   The state, has been purchased by a new and different kind of fascism.   Globalized corporate fascists who have purchased government leaders and our media, which cares more for profits than public responsibility while we the people are duped into thinking it’s okay for our new hidden corporate masters to send the military out to defend their global business interests disguised as  threats to our well being.   Or are the threats really there?

When corporate leaders own the political process, who do you believe?  Truth becomes fiction and fiction the truth.   Bill Paley and Walter Cronkite, are both dead and gone.   The old media filter that once served the nation so well is shot full of holes.   Most Americans get their news from tv, while tv becomes increasingly biased, offering more of what people want and not what they need.  It is simply the more profitable way of doing things.

In the eyes of corporations we are nothing but customers.  They have other customers worldwide, but they need Amercan taxpayers to support the military,  police and fire departments, the  judicial system and the stabiity that America provides so that they can continue to build shareholder value for the wealthy few they represent.

You wonder why people are  angry?   It’s because our leaders and media spend nearly all their time scaring the hell out of us to promote their profits and maintain power.   Having the wits scared out of you on a daily basis and feeling there is no one to turn to for the truth, no one we can trust to turn this mess around, is anything but a path to happiness.

Nevertheless, here we sit, dazed and confused, watching the evening news coverage of  two remaining candidates for president, both of whom are unacceptable to a majority of Americans.   A situation that has to be beyond anything Joe Goebbels ever imagined.

 

 

 

Lochte Apologizes! Naked Trump Statues! Kellyanne Steps Up!

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Flash!  The big story of the day is about to come to an end.  Brian Lochte, has apologized to Brazil!  Great.  Four young headstrong athletes, out on the town allegedly do some minor damage to a gas station bathroom only to have the near non-event blown up into an international incident by 24-hour newschannels in need of something, anything to report,  making the swimmers look more like serial killers than four athletes who made a mistake as pundits bleat like sheep, “Ugggghhhhly Ameeericans…. Ugggghhhhly Ameeericans….Whhhhaaaaa….they are sooooo Ugggghhhhly.”

Get over it.  All four athletes have apologized.   Somebody made an $11,000 donation to a judo academy in Brazil, which apparently was enough to un-ruffle the Brazilian’s ruffled feathers.   The gas station presumably has a new soap dispenser or toilet paper dispenser or whatever was allegedly damaged and can now charge tourists ten-bucks a head to view the horrible “crime scene.”  Presumably it has been released by the police department’s crack forensic investigators sent out to determine whether anyone had peed on the wall.

It’s done.  Let it go and focus on the next horse not yet dead but ready for kicking, speculation on how long Kellyanne Conway will last now that suspected Putin operative Paul Manafort has been sent packing?   How long was he there?  Weeks?  A month?

My bet is that Kellyanne won’t make it to November.  No way.  She’ll be around until the Trumpster’s next big temper tantrum and that’ll be that.  See ya, Kellyanne, “Your’re Fired!”  Not to worry though.   CNN and MSNBC can always use another former campaign official to help bump up their objective approach to “news” coverage.   Makes me yearn for the days when there was still a line between actual news coverage and commentary.

Can’t wait to see what they’ll do with the naked statues of the Donald with a  tiny male appendage popping up at various locations from New York to Los Angeles.  Can’t wait to see that.   Wonder if they’ll be able to squeeze it in,  while continuing to kick around Hillary’s email server, which should have been dead and gone months ago along with the confluence of unfreezing Iranian money and the release of four American hostages – another smelly, stinking, rotten corpse of a story.   Like Whitewater and Vince Foster.

So much news, so little time.   Gotta find something that’ll drive the ratings now that the Donald has finally managed to grit his teeth, swallow hard and perform his much-anticpated “pivot.”   Another huge story for an intellectually malnourished nation.