All Posts (7)

The President’s Penis: An Ethical Dilemma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Image credit: CNN/YouTube]

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Final Pre-Election Report from PA-18


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

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

            …in ads at least partially funded by Rebekah Mercer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A More Unique Perspective

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

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

The Underage Loves of Roy Moore

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

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

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

More ‘Bang’ for your Buck

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

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

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

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

Why would we permit them to define our national identity?

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

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

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

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

Make America great, again, Alabama.  Secede.

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

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The Subtle Propaganda of Super Heroes

Happy Fourth of July 2014!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            And they did it with movies.

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

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

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

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…With apologies to Nicolas Roeg


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

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

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

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

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

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

THE ACTOR: Can’t we just shoot Bush?

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

THE ACTOR: What if we just wound him?

THE NEOCON: Shoot him in the face with birdshot! 

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




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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

THE NEOCON: You know, that actually might work.

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

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

THE AGENT: Then we’re all in agreement?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE ACTOR: Cold, dead hands!

THE AGENT: Excuse me?

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

THE NEOCON: Brando would have delivered it better.

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

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

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

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

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

(The others glance at each other and nod.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Notes From the Frontlines


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s called “irony.”

[Featured image credit: DonkeyHotey/Flickr]

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