Monday, October 17, 2016

Outrage in North Dakota

It’s sad that the ugly entertainment spectacle we call an election has diverted public attention from what at least some of the mainstream media might have recognized as an important story: the protest by thousands of native Americans against the Dakota Access dirty crude pipeline.

Only one journalist — Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now!” — was in North Dakota with a camera crew to record the violence against the protesters by private contractors and their attack dogs last Sept. 3. Her horrifying video and reportage were seen by millions and picked up by some of the mainstream TV networks but the entire situation, including the pollution threat to sources of drinking water for millions of people, still has not received the attention it deserves.

Goodman, meanwhile, was charged with criminal trespass for going to a news scene and reporting on it.  This is activity that is specifically protected by the First Amendment.  She flew to Bismarck Friday and traveled to Mandan, N.D. early today to turn herself in to authorities, face and fight the charges.  She was informed that the prosecutor, Ladd Erickson, had dropped the class B misdemeanor trespassing charge and would instead be filing some sort of riot charge.  It had not been filed as this post is being written.

Goodman delivered her morning broadcast from a lawn across the street from the Morton County court house, where the new charges, if any, would be filed.  

Erickson wasn’t talking today, nor did he respond to messages left by news organizations.  But, a la Trump, he had a lot to say after Goodman’s shocking report aired online.  Goodman, he said, was “a protester basically.”  He asserted that everything she reported “was from the position of justifying the protest actions.”

However, the affidavit he filed with the trespass charges said, “Goodman can be seen on video identifying herself and interviewing protesters about their involvement in the protest.”  Psst.  Ladd, baby; that’s what reporters do.  They identify themselves and their news organization and they interview participants in the news event.

It’s called journalism, Ladd.  And it is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has contended in a court filing that the pipeline route desecrates  burial grounds and other sacred sites.  Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Chairman Dave Archambault II said Goodman’s reporting “took a lot of courage,” and opposition to the pipeline wouldn’t be where it is today without her reporting.

Carlos Lauría, senior program coordinator for the Americas for the nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists in New York,  said Goodman was clearly working as a journalist when she filmed the Sept. 3 incident, and the committee is “really concerned” about the potential rioting charge. “I think authorities in North Dakota should drop the charges and ensure that all reporters are free to do their jobs without fear of reprisal or intimidation,” Lauría told the Fargo Forum newspaper.

In North Dakota, trespassing is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,500 fine. Inciting a riot is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine.  Ladd Erickson clearly wants to inflict all the pain he can on the uppity journalist who dared to report on the injustice in his back yard.

Someone in North Dakota should give him a copy of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and suggest that he study it.


North Dakota District Judge John Grinsteiner rejected today the riot charge Erickson sought against Goodman.  The judge, at least, is familiar with the First Amendment.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Post-Election Is the Real challenge

Oozing sleaze from every pore, Donald Trump has taken political demagoguery to depths unplumbed since Hitler rose to power in Germany.

Will he be as successful as Der Fuhrer?

Blessedly, polling suggests not.

Frighteningly, the same polling suggests that at least 40 million adult United States citizens support him, many with the same crazed, racist zeal of the Nazi partisans who supported Hitler.

Even if, as it now appears, Trump fails to win the presidency, how will it feel to be one of the saner Americans living amidst the four in ten who are shouting “Kill the Bitch!” and “Fuck Your Feelings” and “Lock Her Up” and far, far worse at the 70-year-old adolescent’s campaign rallies?

My wife and I both know how it feels to be professed liberals in a right-wing zoo.  Even registered Democrats and Democratic candidates in our part of New Mexico are ideologically far to the right of, say, Dwight Eisenhower. When we became open and unabashed critics of George W. Bush and the so-called Tea Party we heard muttered obscenities and thinly-veiled threats to our safety.

These reactions were mild compared to what’s going on now in Trumpland.  The Trumpistas include virtually all of the gun-toters, all of those who advocate the killing of medical professionals who help women terminate unwanted pregnancies, all of those who call for physical harm to Colin Kaepernick and other athletes who advocate ending racial violence, all of those who want our borders sealed and immigrants incarcerated, all of those who think Trump’s sexual assaults on women were OK and Arizona Sheriff Arpaio is a hero . . . the most dangerous elements in our society.

What happens when they don’t get their way in November?

Will they vent their anger with violence against those of us who openly opposed Trumpista candidates?  Will there be shooting and bloodshed?  Will many streets and parks and public venues be unsafe?

That neighbor with the Trump/Pence sign in his yard.  Would his frustration turn to anger?  Would he shoot your dog?  Would he shoot you?

Other elections in this country have been marked by nastiness, by anger, by ugly pushing and shoving.  Most of the worst of it evaporated after election day.

There’s something different about the slime this time around.  It looks like it will linger.  It seems to have eaten into the core of a vast segment of our population.  It has sickened them, blinded them to injustice, made them bloodthirsty, told them that assaulting women and threatening minorities is a perfectly acceptable way of objecting to those perceived evils, political correctness and respect for people of color.

It has taken this country to a new and abysmal place.  Simply defeating Donald Trump in the presidential election won’t end it.

Someone must come forth to lead the country — even the Trumpistas — in another direction.  Hitler’s Germany never produced such a someone.  Can the United States of America do so in 2016?

Friday, October 14, 2016

Trump Gonna Sue! Trump Gonna Sue! (Heh-heh)

Oh, how I hope Trump sues the New York Times.

You sue a news organization for libel and the news organization’s attorneys are entitled to conduct a legal process called “discovery,”

As an editor, I worked with many of the best libel lawyers in the business on processes of discovery.  The late, great Ken Murray of the Detroit Free Press specialized in written interrogatories.  I’ve seen high-powered lawyers in their aluminum suits and alligator shoes burst into the Free Press newsroom and throw down their legal papers in a barrage of insults and threats. I’ve heard their clients shout to the heavens alleging falsehoods in our reporting,

I’ve seen those same clients cringe, and their lawyers melt, reading Ken’s probing interrogatories, which would have required them under oath to divulge their dirtiest secrets and worst tax scams.  Lawsuit withdrawn.

Ken never lost a libel suit that went to trial.  Once, the Free Press was found not guilty of libel but the judge did hold that a single statement in the article being litigated did in fact defame the reputation of the litigant.  The judge ordered the paper to pay the value of the defendant’s tarnished reputation — $1 — which Ken paid out of his own pocket.

He never coached reporters before they were deposed by opposing counsel in the discovery process.  “Just tell them what you told me when we were discussing the story before publication,” he would say.  Once, a wealthy businessman sued us after he had been named in one of our stories about profiteering during the Detroit riot.  Undeterred by Ken’s interrogatories, the  businessman’s lawyers went ahead with discovery, deposing one of our reporters, a doe-eyed, soft-spoken beauty who was as ruthless an interviewer as Sy Hersh.  The lawyer waded in while Ken — who was entitled to object if the questioning went out of line — simply smiled and remained silent.  Our ice maiden turned the bullying lawyer into a sweat-stained wretch, who broke off the deposition and withdrew the lawsuit.

I suspect the same fate lies in store for Trump’s lawyers if they were to actually follow through on their threat to sue the Times. I’ve worked with  Times lawyers vetting sensitive stories before they were published.  I know how they operate in discovery.   I presume today’s Times lawyers are as skilled as the ones back then.  The amount of damaging information they might unearth about Trump is almost beyond comprehension,  No doubt Times reporters are salivating at this very moment in anticipation of getting their hands on some of that stuff.

And then there’s the matter of deposing witnesses.  Some poor bastard representing Trump will have to go after Jessica Leeds in a legal setting.  It’ll be the ice maiden v. the shark all over again.

I know how that one turns out.  

Leeds was asked during a CNN interview with Anderson Cooper if she was afraid of Trump and his lawyers, who are boasting that they have “devastating evidence” against Trump’s accusers.

Leeds looked for all the world like the doe-eyed reporter who disemboweled a legal shark in that Detroit case years ago.

“We’ll see,” she said with a disarming smile.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Don't Pester Merikins with Serious Stuff

The American voter has been dumbed so far down that he no longer cares about issues any larger than Trump’s, er, “hands” or his own wallet.

Thus issues on which the very fate of the human race and its planetary home may depend barely register, if they register at all, on the Richter scale of political polling.

In the so-called “debate” between Trump and Clinton, for example, there was no reference to climate change. Yet, for the first time in more than 4 million years, the concentration of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere is above 400 parts per million and staying there.  (In one million pounds of the air we breathe, there are 400 pounds of CO2.) Carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for hundreds to thousands of years. Even if emissions were to drop to zero today, we would be aware of no positive effect in our air for almost a century.

Before the Industrial Revolution, when humans first began spewing masses of CO2 into the atmosphere, fhe carbon dioxide level io earth was about 280 ppm.  The allowable level for human health is thought to be between 250 and 350 ppm.  We have now entered dangerous territory, not just because greenhouse gases accelerate climate change, but also because too-high levels in themselves constitute dire threats to our health. Since humans weren’t around the last time Earth had such high levels, we are sailing on uncharted seas, not knowing where be dragons.  But the soaring frequency of extreme weather events, the rising seas, the wildfires, the monster storms and floods are dramatic warning signs that we cannot afford to ignore.  Perhaps when the last Manhattan skyscraper goes under water, or all of Louisiana and parts of Mississippi are wiped out by cholera, some genius debate moderator will think to ask a political candidate a serious question about climate change.

Or about nuclear policy.

Toward the end of the last so-called debate, the moderator asked, "On nuclear weapons, President Obama reportedly considered changing the nation's longstanding policy on first use.  Do you support the current policy?”

Trump replied first.  Russia, he said, has “a much newer capability than we do; we have not been updating from the new standpoint."  Yes, he actually said that: "updating from the new standpoint." Still more gibberish followed, with Trump insisting that China could prevent North Korea from using nukes and prevent Iran from getting them.  Or something.  Clinton said, well, we Americans need to keep our word.  Or something.

Nobody challenged either candidate’s nonsense or demanded elucidation of their positions.  

Debate over.

The fact is that the world is closer to nuclear war right now than at any point since the Cuban missile crisis.  Clinton’s record demonstrates a propensity to push potential enemies so far that we will be forced into conflicts likely to escalate quickly into nuclear ones.  Trump has no real “record” on nuclear policy or any other serious topic.  He has a record of vile middle-of -the-night telephone calls.  One can easily imagine his ringing up the palace in Pyongyang around 3 a.m. and saying to Kim Jong-un, "Hey, you fat little slanty-eyed prick, guess what button I’ve got my finger on?"

Does anyone care?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Did the U.S. Sabotage Colombian Vote?

Because it has been there so often and for so many years, the black hand of U.S.corporations and government agencies is always suspected in Latin American political events.

So it is with the stunning defeat by voters in Colombia of the agreement to end more than half a century of conflict between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) —the longest-lived armed insurgency in the Western Hemisphere. The vote was extremely close — a margin of barely 60,000 votes out of 13 million cast — and the opposition was led by a pal of Washington’s neoliberal crowd, former President Alvaro Uribe. 

Uribe’s successor, President Juan Manuel Santos, succeeded where several predecessors had failed, negotiating a peace agreement that had been secretly brokered by the  Communist government of Cuba. The negotiations came after Santos had irritated Washington by normalizing his country’s relations with the Venezuelan government of Hugo Chavez, another target of Washington’s regime-change hawks.  Santos and Uribe had been political allies, but when Santos ran for re-election in 2014, Uribe supported his opponent. Santos pledged to intensify the quest for peace with Farc and won a close run-off for re-election.

Now the worm has turned, as it has elsewhere in Latin America, generally with a nudge, or more, from the vast U.S. bag of dirty tricks.  Would that we in the U.S. had a reliable source of good journalism about our Southern Hemisphere neighbors.

Instead, we must rely on non-aligned journalists like Chris Hedges, a former award-winning correspondent in Central America.

“A decade ago,” Hedges writes, “left-wing governments, defying Washington and global corporations, took power in Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Venezuela, Uruguay, Bolivia and Ecuador.  .  .charismatic leaders such as Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, Luiz Ina'cio Lula da Silva in Brazil, Evo Morales in Bolivia and Rafael Correa in Ecuador, won huge electoral victories. They instituted socialist reforms that benefited the poor and the working class. They refused to be puppets of the United States. They took control of their nations' own resources and destinies. They mounted the first successful revolt against neoliberalism and orporate domination. It was a revolt many in the United States hoped to emulate here.

“But the movements and governments in Latin America have fallen prey to the dark forces of U.S. imperialism and the wrath of corporate power. The tricks long practiced by Washington and its corporate allies have returned -- the black propaganda; the manipulation of the media; the bribery and corruption of politicians, generals, police, labor leaders and journalists; the legislative coups d'e'tat; the economic strangulation; the discrediting of democratically elected leaders; the criminalization of the left; and the use of death squads to silence and disappear those fighting on behalf of the poor. It is an old, dirty game.

“President Correa, who earned enmity from Washington for granting political asylum to Julian Assange four years ago and for closing the United States' Manta military air base in 2009, warned recently that a new version of Operation Condor is underway in Latin America. Operation Condor, which operated in the 1970s and '80s, saw thousands of labor union organizers, community leaders, students, activists, politicians, diplomats, religious leaders, journalists and artists tortured, assassinated and disappeared.

“The intelligence chiefs from right-wing regimes in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and, later, Brazil had overseen the campaigns of terror. They received funds from the United States and logistical support and training from the Central Intelligence Agency. Press freedom, union organizing, all forms of artistic dissent and political opposition were abolished. In a coordinated effort these regimes brutally dismembered radical and leftist movements across Latin America. In Argentina alone 30,000 people disappeared.

“Latin America looks set to be plunged once again into a period of dictatorial control and naked corporate exploitation. The governments of Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela, which is on the brink of collapse, have had to fight off right-wing coup attempts and are enduring economic sabotage. The Brazilian Senate impeached the democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff. Argentina's new right-wing president, Mauricio Macri, bankrolled by U.S. hedge funds, promptly repaid his benefactors by handing $4.65 billion to four hedge funds, including Elliott Management, run by billionaire Paul Singer. The payout to hedge funds that had bought Argentine debt for pennies on the dollar meant that Singer's firm made $2.4 billion, an amount that was 10 to 15 times the original investment.”

Latin America has long been fertile ground for populist movements of the left, largely because it has for so long been cursed with inequality. The outrages of big land owners against small, struggling farmers gave birth to the Farc movement in Colombia in 1964. Santos’s peace deal with the revolutionaries would have given them seats in the national parliament, and other incentives to lay down their arms and commit to what Santos has called a “long-lasting peace.”

Once again, the dream of peace has been shattered. Given the shameful record of United States interference in Latin american affairs, why wouldn’t there be suspicions that Yankee black ops somehow sabotaged the Colombian vote?

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Politics in Amerika in 2016

Debates be damned.  Election be damned.  This is already Donald Trump’s country, in far too many ways.

The police just killed another unarmed black man, this one in El Cajon, CA.  Just as they have done with equal impunity inNew York, Florida, Missouri, Maryland, Ohio.  Cops in this state of chaos have killed more than 700 persons this year, most of them black, most of them innocent.  That’s fine with Trump who says we need to kill more people of color to solve a “crime problem” that does not exist.

A professional football player began dignified, silent, peaceful protest of such killings.  He has been vilified, lost income and received death threats.  Other athletes — even 11 and 12-year-olds on a team in Texas — have received death threats for acting in support of him.

Hatred and threats of violence ooze from the idolators who attend Trump rallies. They are mirror images of Trump himself.  He once telephoned a Philadelphia journalist after midnight to call her a c**t (rhymes with “runt.”) The New York Times and others have documented similar pus oozing from crowds at his campaign rallies. 

Kaepernick kneels and gets death threats.  Trumpistas vomit hate and advocate violence and their man rises in the presidential polls.

Go figure.

* * *                                                                        

The lesser of two evils crowd holds that Hillary Clinton has to win this election.  She has accepted fees of a quarter-million dollars to give a single speech to Wall Street bankers. Do you suppose those greedy bastards bestow such sums on her because they fancy her hairdo?  Admire her diction?  Find her agreeably humorous?

Not bloody likely.  They expect tits for their tats and when she’s int he Oval Office she will repay them with interest.

A thoughtful friend who writes history for a living tells me he hopes that Clinton will win the election, serve one term and then decide that age and health warrant her stepping aside.  My friend hopes that by then the Democratic party will be ready to nominate a “real Democrat” for the presidency.

It is tempting to want to believe in such a narrative.  Doing so requires the parallel belief that the nation can avoid war with Russia, China, North Korea et al for the duration of her term.  Nothing in her record as senator or secretary of state suggests that this is likely or even possible. All of our likely enemies in Hillary’s war possess nuclear arms.  Reassuring thought, isn’t it?

* * * 

A moderate Republican friend — yes, a few such animals remain in this sorry land  — says he intends to assuage his conscience by voting for the Libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, onetime governor of New Mexico (a job he performed somewhat satisfactorily, especially when compared with the current occupant of the office).

Johnson is a classic libertarian: he has staked out many admirable positions on important issues, including a proposal to end this country’s obscene overspending on war and the military, but his arrows go badly astray when they are aimed at, say, the  need for social democracy in government.

And then there is Aleppo, the Syrian city where all the worst horrors of war have come together with thick layers of guilt for every side in a multi-faceted crime against humanity.  “What is Aleppo?” Johnson asked an interviewer seeking his views on the Syrian conflict.  A few days later he compounded the error.  Asked to name one foreign leader of whom he had a favorable opinion, Johnson stood silent a while before saying, “I’m afraid I’m having an Aleppo moment.”  Granted, in this bloody world it’s hard to name a single leader worthy of unmitigated admiration, but still . . .  this man is asking voters to place him in the highest office we have.

Is it fair to wonder what he’s been smoking?  He does, after all, advocate legalization of marijuana.

* * *

The Green Party candidate for president, Jill Stein, has offered detailed, realistic proposed solutions to this country’s problems of injustice, economic inequality, endless war and chronic unemployment.  She has been bullied by police, and even arrested, for airing these views in public.

Is this a great country or what?

Saturday, August 27, 2016

There's a New Man in the Fight

Welcome, Colin Kaepernick, to the real home of the brave.

It’s not an easy place to walk, but those who walk there walk tall.  Tommie Smith walked there.  And John Carlos.  Peter Norman.  Others, too.

You hadn’t even been born yet when those three — Smith, Carlos and Norman — walked the walk.  It was 1968.  The Olympic Games.  Mexico City.

Smith was, in a manner of speaking, the Usain Bolt of his times, arguably the fastest man on earth.  He had just won the 200 meter sprint in world record time.  Norman placed second; Carlos, third.  They mounted the podium to receive their medals.  The national anthem of the United States, as is the tradition, was played for the presentation of the gold to Smith.  He and Carlos were without shoes, wearing black socks.  They raised their black-gloved fists in what was known back then as the black power salute.  They did it to call attention to segregation and racism in the United States, and to stand in silent protest against it.

Norman, a white man, represented Australia in that Olympiad.  Back home, he had opposed his country’s “white Australia policies,” which restricted non-white immigration and persecuted the its black aboriginal population. He knew that Smith and Carlos had decided to make a silent statement if they got to the podium; they would wear black gloves.  Norman wanted to make a statement of his own on that podium.  He approached Paul Hoffman, a U.S. Olympic rower, and asked to borrow his badge for the “Olympic Project for Human Rights.”  Wearing it would be his statement of solidarity with Smith and Carlos.

Avery Brundage, the Nazi-loving head of the American Olympic committee, ordered that Smith and Carlos be suspended and banned from the Olympic Village.  They were vilified in the media.

Norman, too,  paid a heavy price for his role.  “As soon as he got home he was hated,” his nephew, Matthew Norman, said.  Although he qualified in both the 100 meters and the 200 meters, Norman was not invited to represent Australia in the 1972 Olympic games.

Peter Norman died of a heart attack in 2006.  Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave eulogies at his funeral and served as pall bearers. 

Smith and Carlos had brief professional football careers.  Both later became educators and coaches.  In 2008 they shared the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage for their action forty years earlier in Mexico City.

When you refused to stand for the national anthem before a football game the other night, Colin Kaepernick, you stood instead beside Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Peter Norman. "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," you said. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

As Carlos told an Occupy Wall Street gathering on Oct. 10, 2011, “There’s a fight still to be won.”

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Oblivion

In this election you can fit the Republican candidate’s brain in a flea’s navel and still have room for the Democratic candidate’s heart.

If Trump wins he will be the first American president able to call a summit meeting at which no participant speaks English.

If Hillary wins they will replace the security checkpoint at the White House grounds with a cashier’s station for the Clinton foundation.

Between now and November the late night shows can fire the writers for the hosts’ opening monologues.  All they have to do is read the transcripts for the evening “news” shows.

Clinton  has already  spent $82 million buying time to air television commercials.  Trump hasn’t spent a nickel; he gets twice that amount of air time free just for opening his mouth. The only complete sentence he has ever uttered is, “You’re fired.”  

Someone said, “The lesser of two evils is still evil.”  

“Crooked Hillary.”

“Stronger together.”

It’s the age of sound bytes, issues be damned.

Count all the cool things.

How cool is this?  There’s a thing, invented by scientists, called the “Doomsday clock.” it is intended to reflect basic changes in the level of continuous danger in which mankind lives in the nuclear age; when it reaches midnight, kaboom!, nuclear holocaust destroys the planet. Just before Bush II took office, the clock read nine minutes to midnight.  Now it’s three minutes to midnight.

How cool is this? Fifteen years after Bush II took us to war in Afghanistan, our longest war is still raging, and it’s going badly, and there’s no end in sight.  Our president boasts that we’ve bombed 18 countries, and droned still more, and we’ve just resumed bombing in Libya, which we “liberated” by giving its ex-leader a bayonet colonoscopy.  

How cool is this? Earth Overshoot Day came on Aug. 8 this year, the earliest ever.  “Overshoot Day” is the point when we have used up more natural resources than the planet can replenish in an entire year.  Now we’re living on resources borrowed — stolen? — from future generations.  Explain that to your kids and grandchildren, if you can. 

One per cent of us still own more wealth than all the rest of us.  People in blue uniforms charged with maintaining peace and safety routinely kill more innocent black citizens every year than have been killed by the dreaded Zika virus.  Millions of kids still go to bed hungry every night.  Millions of your fellow citizens still can't afford health care.  

Less than a block from where I live is a house (one of many in the neighborhood) with a three-stall garage.  In each stall is a new vehicle costing more than $60,000. Less than a mile further on is a tract of agricultural fields.  Tap any shoulder harvesting those crops and you’ll likely find a parent whose children consider it a feast when the laborers get their Friday pay and everyone goes to the nearest convenience store for chips and soda pop and beer.

Oh, it’s a hoot here in Amerika this election season.  I can’t wait for Colbert’s next monologue.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Madness I Ends; Madness II begins

One sort of madness has ended (not a moment too soon!) but another, possibly worse,  sort begins.

In Amerika we call this the political party conventions, followed by the presidential election campaign.  The framers of the Geneva conventions would probably have called it torture of civilians. Nevertheless, it’s the Merkin way.

Everyone knows the presidential candidates are the two most disliked individuals ever to pursue the highest office in the land.  Everyone is trying to get to know the vice presidential candidates, who were introduced to us during the period of madness that ended last night.

Tim Kaine seems like a friendly enough Joe and, as he demonstrated the other night, he does a pretty good impression of Ernest Borgnine. Having “Marty” as vice president isn’t the worst thing that could happen.  Rather than risk his inadvertently pissing off some important ally, we could send him down to the corner drugstore every day to watch girls go by. Mike Pence is a born-again Christian who hates queers and Planned Parenthood. His attorney general said that the young people (including my granddaughter) protesting for civil treatment of civil servants in Wisconsin should have been thrown in  jail.  Pence thought that would be too lenient.  I invited both of them to come to my front door and say these things to me.  Of course the friggin’ cowards didn’t show up. Pence is a gap-filler for his running mate:  everyone Trump doesn't want you to fear and hate, Pence wants you to fear and hate. Both would-be veeps have sons in the Marine Corps. Both were lower level office holders before becoming governors.

Just about everyone seems to agree that the Democrats put on the better TV show.  They have all the good public speakers.  (Some might say that Donald Trump is very entertaining when he tries to be a public speaker, but others say that good Christian mothers listening in would want to wash his mouth out with soap.) Whether poetically or prosaically, the Democratic orators took credit for every good thing that has happened anywhere in the world in the last eight years, exposed the bad things that need to be corrected and offered ringing, plausible ways to make them right.  The problem is, as Barack Obama has proved over and over,  that these tintinabulations of truth never translate into noble deeds.  At Democratic conventions the rafters ring with the sound of music, but afterward the promise of affordable health care for all, for example,  gets lost in discordant deals with the pharmaceutical profiteers, the greedy insurers and the Republican congressmen who yell “Boo!”  So when Hillary Clinton, who when I was a kid would have been considered a  Republican, made her Democratic promises while accepting her party’s nomination for the presidency last night, we who have been around the block a few times took them with many grains of salt.

Speaker after speaker, including a four-star Marine ex-general, assured us that we wouldn’t want the nuclear codes in the hands of a reckless fool like Donald Trump.  But do we want them in the hands of a ruthless regime-changer whose closest advisors like Victoria Nuland can’t stand the sight of no blood?

She told us she has been on the side of working people all her life.  But she gets a quarter of a million dollars to give a speech to Wall Street banksters and won’t let us read the text.  Does she want us to think she stood before those greedy bastards and read Chugga Chugga Choo Choo?

The Democrats did not try to hide the facts about bad things that have been happening even with a Democratic president.  Black mothers of slain sons and families of police officers killed in the line of duty were trotted out on the stage in Philadelphia to acknowledge one of the worst festering sores in our national conscience.  “Love Trumps Hate,” they told us.

Donald Trump, the Republican nominee, told us the week before, in Cleveland, that being born rich and becoming even richer makes him the best qualified candidate to be president.  He also made other loud noises that resembled speech.  Recognizable words tumbled out of his moth, and the mouths of his endorsers, but few of them came together as coherent sentences.  Once such sentence, repeated ad nauseam, was, “Only I can . ."   whatever.

Trump calls himself a great deal-maker and a great businessman but refuses to release his tax returns -- an established tradition for those who would be our president. 

David Cay Johnson, a superb journalist with whose work I am personally well acquainted, has spent the last 30 years researching and reporting on the career of Mr. Trump.  His new book, The Making of Donald Trump,  will be available Aug. 2.  Trump’s “Only I . . .” won’t resonate once that book is out.

By that time, the campaigns will be at full steam.  As speaker after speaker implored last night in Philadelphia, god save us.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Pieces Are Falling into Place

The incalculably rich Dark Powers that own both parties and their candidates have got things back to just about where they want them.

The Bernie Sanders revolution has been put down.  The Democrats tossed him a few orts from the big table and in return he endorsed Hillary Clinton.  Now the media whores are touting those orts as if they were caviar, promoting the meaningless party platform as the most progressive in history.  Holy Thoughts and Prayers, Batman, it’s healing time again!  Lock up the good silver!

Big name Republicans are lining up — some of them poutily, but good soldiering nonetheless — behind Donald Trump’s candidacy.  Bob Knight, surely the slimiest insect ever to infest college sports, is going to speak on behalf of the Man With the Orange Otter at the party’s national convention.  If ever two slimeballs deserved one another . . . Speaker Ryan”s going to speak for Trump, too.  I bet they’ll even dust off old Dubyuh in another few days.  After all, we have nothing like the Chilcot commission to shed light on his war criminality the way the Brits did on his lapdog, Tony Blair.  Sarah Palin will be there, too, no doubt.   All told, expect enough intellectual firepower to ignite a bulb in a flea’s navel.

My so-called liberal friends tell me it’s time to bite my tongue and vote for the lesser of two evils.  I tell them to bite my arse.

This country has been going downhill ever since it elected a corporate-owned B-movie actor to be its front man as the cold war before this one was winding down. I used to invoke the rubber ball theory — the notion that our government, like a rubber ball, could fall only so far before hitting the floor and bouncing back up.  But with the nomination of the two most disliked individuals ever to seek the presidency, I have come to realize that we have an unlimited supply of mendacious mediocrities waiting in the wings to preside over the decline and fall of our empire. And we have rigged the system to assure that no candidates of merit will ever again have a chance to win the White House, because such people tell the truth — the last thing American voters want to hear.

The party conventions are just around the corner.  Listen up, Americans.  Listen up and lap it up.  It’s your kind of bovine excrement.