Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Trump’s Not Talking to You

I’m getting so tired of the never-ending stream of articles with titles like: Republican candidate A said B and may have ended his chances for the presidency.  Not only does it not matter what Republican candidates say to their base, the more outrageous and in your face it is, the more supporters love it. They worship Trump exactly because he’s a loudmouth moron who makes liberals apoplectic every time he opens his mouth. It doesn’t matter what he says. If it pisses off John Stewart or Obama, it’s cool.

This is what the Republican Party has devolved into, a tribe of troglodytes who dwell in mental caves, cut off from reality, shouting the most insane things they can dredge up to get the attention of the rest of the tribe. Despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, the media gives them a huge megaphone through which they can rant. And liberal news outlets like Salon and The Huffington Post can’t seem to get enough of Trump either. Just go to those sites and count how many stories are devoted to the Donald. Is he really worth all of the time and energy?

No Republican is going to drop out of the race for saying something stupid. They’d all be gone now if that were the case. While you and I might throw up a little in our mouths listening to Donald and the Trumpettes orate from a parallel universe, it’s music to the ears of the faithful.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The American Government’s Pathetic Snowden Petition Response

Two years later, the White House finally addressed a “We the People” online petition to grant Edward Snowden a pardon with a lame and predictable response: No. There was more to the response than that, but I won’t waste your time with a rehash of the baseless accusations and fear mongering we’ve heard before. The argument from a Homeland Security official regarding Snowden is as convincing as hearing the DEA’s BS for keeping marijuana a schedule 1 drug in the same class as Heroin and meth.

For all of the passing grades Obama gets in a variety of areas, he deserves a big, fat F for national security. He’s done virtually nothing to undo Bush’s most egregious attacks on the Constitution and due process, and seems to be letting the national security state run itself. Big mistake. Snowden is one of the twenty-first century’s genuine heroes, and deserves a ticker tape parade in Manhattan, not a jail cell in Leavenworth.

Our government still loves to taunt Snowden with the “come back and take the consequences like a man” canard, as if he would be enticed by such schoolyard nonsense. Snowden is a smart person. He knows that he would not be treated fairly or justly if he returned to America and it’s more of an indictment of this country that he’s right than any black mark on Snowden’s record. What angers our government more than any other aspect of the Snowden revelations is that he is a free man and not rotting in a dungeon somewhere as an example to other would be whistleblowers.

In a just and true democracy, Snowden would be pardoned. America is neither.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Governing from the Gut: Drug Testing Welfare Recipients and Other Failed Republican Ideas

One of the core beliefs of the Republican/corporatist faction in America today is that poor people are inherently lazy lawbreakers who deserve their sad fate. Despite claiming to be Christians, conservatives have no sympathy for anyone living in poverty and in fact, demonize and humiliate America’s underclass every chance they get.

Drug testing welfare recipients is a case in point. Despite having no research or data backing up their assertion that poor people are spending their welfare checks on crack, Republican governors have become addicted to the idea of drug testing citizens receiving government assistance. It should come as no surprise that this idea has proven as effective as other Right Wing fantasies like abstinence only programs and D.A.R.E., meaning it has proven to be a useless waste of time and energy.

One of the states participating in this farce is Arizona, which screened 142,000 welfare recipients during a five-year program. Three people tested positive for drugs. Seven states have spent over $1 million testing people receiving government assistance and netted less than 500 users. In other words, the costs of running these programs far, far outweigh their meager results. If these wasteful programs were being run by liberal governors, FOX News would be screaming for investigations and indictments 24/7.

George Bush once said he governed from his gut, and this seems to be the case for many Republicans in elected office. Despite failure after failure, conservatives continue to pursue programs that are based on instincts, conventional wisdom or their warped religious beliefs rather than research, science and data. And is always the case, the end result of their experiment in conservative ideology is wasted taxpayer dollars and added human suffering.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Donald Trump: Crazy Like a Fox

Today’s front page of Salon has five stories explaining why Donald Trump is an egomaniacal, racist, misogynistic asshole. The Huffington Post has four (with a fifth alluding to the Donald).  Guess what? Trump is winning the media. Even the liberal media.

Aside from being a billionaire, Donald Trump is a showman, an entertainer who subscribes to the old maxim that any publicity is good publicity, and his strategy is working. His face is everywhere. Hours of time are being spent writing articles attacking a man who will never set foot in the White House. And, worst of all, the entire effort to vilify Trump in the media is a waste of time. His fans love it.

You can count on the fact that Trump will continue saying crazy, outrageous things as long as it continues getting his name and face in the news. Like all fads, however, the public and media will tire of Trumps shtick at some point, and he’ll drop out of the race and go back to being ordinary billionaire asshole Donald Trump instead of Republican Presidential candidate billionaire asshole Donald Trump.

Wait a second. DAMMIT! He got me, too.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

We can’t trust Hillary to make meaningful changes in Washington

It’s obvious that over the past 15 to 20 years, as the Republican Party has slipped into the final stages of conservative madness, that it has pulled many in the Democratic Party with it. Like a dark star capturing other planets in its spinning vortex, the Republicans have pulled the political debate so far to the right that it makes people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren seem like they’re to the left of Marx. It also has the result of making centrist, corporate Democrats like the Clintons and Obama seem ultra-liberal, particularly in the minds of the mainstream corporate media.

Just look at how the New York Times is treating Bernie Sanders. When it’s not ignoring him, which is most of the time, it is writing about him in a condescending tone reserved for outliers on the lunatic fringe. And no one should fall for Hillary’s current populist tone.  This is a tried and true campaign tactic used to great success by her husband and Obama. As with the President, should Hillary win there would be no significant changes to how things are done in Washington.

Sinister corporatists like the Koch brothers are laughing all the way to the bank at these developments, because it means that even if the Democrats win, Washington will have the elite’s backs. Bill Clinton has been on an apology tour recently, trying to make amends for all of the lousy policies he supported as President, especially deregulating the banks. But why should we believe Hillary will be any different?

Bernie Sanders is the only hope this country has of at least trying to loosen the stranglehold Wall Street has on Washington.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

America’s Dark History Revealed

When we think of propaganda, we see in our mind’s eye bespectacled minions in dark offices cranking out screeds extolling the virtues of the fatherland. But propaganda comes in many forms. In America, it’s not necessarily the government churning out historical fairy tales of our exceptionalism, although that certainly happens, but the industrial/military/media complex, whose CEOs and presidents and generals have a vested interest in keeping the masses quiet, content and complacent.

So our American history books and movies and television series all tell a nice little story of a powerful democracy that fights for freedom and justice. We are the guys in the white hats who oppose tyranny and oppression wherever it raises its ugly head around the globe. We are even blessed by the almighty, who made us the bestus country on the whole gosh darn planet.

That’s the propaganda. As is always the case, reality is quite different, and much darker. I recently watched the video, “JFK to 9/11 A Rich Man’s Trick,” and while it has its flaws, it offers a compelling alternative history of the twentieth century that you won’t find in textbooks or see on PBS.

America has been an oligarchy since the very beginning of the Industrial Revolution well over 100 years ago. As the first railroad tracks were laid, the first oil wells tapped, the first automobiles built, a small cabal of ultra wealthy men in America have used the government to make themselves and their families richer. Our government has been controlled by the one percent for over a century. It is only because of the Internet that ordinary folks have been able to get a peek behind the curtain separating the elite from the rest of us.

Let’s take a look at just a few historical realities that have been left out of the official narrative of America.

The Attempted Coup: Feeling threatened by the policies of FDR in the 1930s, a group made up of some of America’s richest men, including Prescott Bush, George W. Bush’s grandfather, planned an armed coup against the Roosevelt administration. They wanted to build an army and take over the government by force. These were all men who openly admired and were doing business with Hitler, and their new U.S. government would be a fascist dictatorship.  It failed only because of one man, the general they chose to lead their rebel army. That courageous soldier blew the whistle on this group of traitors, and the plan evaporated. But guess what? No one was arrested. Not one person served a day in prison for actively plotting to overthrow the U.S. government.

Allegiance to Fascism: In the 1930s and 1940s, our titans of industry had no problems doing business with Hitler, and in fact admired his blooming fascist state. They admired it so much, some of them kept doing business with Hitler throughout World War II. Many of Germany’s troop trucks, the trucks that brought Nazi soldiers to the battlefield, were powered by Ford engines. American made parts were used in German tanks and artillery. Hitler was so pleased by the support from our elites, he gave Henry Ford the most prestigious award the German government could give to a civilian.

In Bed with the Mafia: Since the end of World War II, the CIA and the Mafia have worked hand in glove as both drug and gun runners. Money made from these illegal endeavors was used by the CIA to instigate violence around the globe, which resulted in the sales of even more American-made weapons. The mob and the CIA were also deeply involved in the assassination of JFK.

Creating the Propaganda Machine: In the wake of the JFK assassination in the 1960s, many people began to question the conclusions of the Warren Report. To counter this growing criticism, the CIA began buying media outlets — newspapers, television and radio stations, Hollywood studios — and recruiting prominent members of the news and entertainment industries. A new era of disinformation and suppression of information began.

So that’s our history lesson for today. I need a shower.

Monday, July 13, 2015

David Brooks is an Ass

New York Times columnist David Brooks is an ass in both senses of the word; a hole through which noxious waste is routinely emitted and a braying donkey, offending the ears every time he opens his mouth. He is the Washington beltway’s babble-master, wrapping his never-ending defense of elite white men with the eloquence of a Victorian era English professor.

It is no surprise that Brooks detests Bernie Sanders. On Friday night’s PBS NewsHour, Brooks said that Sanders doesn’t understand America’s working class, suburban voters, blacks or Latinos. This from a man so cloistered in his world of white privilege he routinely blames the poor (code for minorities) for being poor, as if they are a subspecies that lacks the correct set of genes to hold down a job that pays more than seven dollars an hour.

Brooks is America’s mouthpiece for the status quo. Sanders is a threat to the status quo. Ergo, Brooks hates Sanders. Not to mention that Sanders is a democratic socialist where Brooks is the champion of laissez-faire capitalism. But for the defender of this country’s rich and powerful to say Sanders doesn’t understand the working class, blacks or Latinos is like Rush Limbaugh saying Obama doesn’t understand what it’s like to be an African American. It’s a claim that is so divorced from reality, and comes from the mouth of a man who routinely characterizes the working class as lazy whiners and blacks or Latinos as moral and intellectual inferiors, that it should make everybody’s head explode.

David Brooks is an ass. In a just world he would be editing recipes for the Daily Shopper, not writing opinion pieces for the New York Times.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

If you liked Bill and Barack, you're gonna love Hillary

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is shifting into high gear as she prepares to make a major speech on economic policies this Monday.  There’s no question Clinton is running her campaign following the blueprint her husband and Obama used to reach the White House: Tack left through the primaries, shift slightly right during the campaign then, after inauguration day, jump swiftly back to the middle. It worked for Bill and Barack, so why not?

The one wild card that Hillary faces which the other Democrats did not is Bernie Sanders. His presence in the campaign and his surging popularity are going to force the Clinton camp to grapple with difficult policy issues that normally they would not need to if the competitor were another neoliberal Democrat. And that is the best part about Bernie’s presence in the race. Bernie wants to talk about raising the minimum wage, taxing the wealthy, not letting banks off the hook when they commit crimes, more financial regulations, clamping down on Wall Street, all topics that Clinton would merely tip-toe around if Bernie wasn’t poking the hornet’s nest.

Hillary is the establishment Democrat, the candidate Wall Street and the corporate elite know they can reason with when push comes to shove. Like Obama, she’ll appoint a host of Washington and Wall Street veterans (former BC people) as advisors and in cabinet positions. She is, ultimately, not going to rock the boat. Sanders, on the other hand, is a threat to the status quo and for that reason, will not be allowed into the White House.

If you like what we got with Bill and Barack, then you should support Hillary. I do not, and will not.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

The FISA Court Revives the All-Seeing Eye

As if anyone needed any additional evidence that America is no longer a democracy, and no one really should, the FISA court, with the support of Obama, just gave the NSA authority to crank back up its massive surveillance program that the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled, and Congress agreed, was illegal.

How can an administration simply reject the court’s ruling and the will of Congress? Because there’s no one to stop it. Not the law, not the other branches of government, not the American people. Bush and Cheney built a monster after 9/11 that rules with Sauron like powers from Ft. Mordor, Maryland. For reasons that we can only guess at, Obama has bent over backwards to give the NSA what it wants — access to everyone and everything.

In some areas, such as healthcare and civil rights, Obama has pushed America forward despite massive resistance, but when it comes to the post-9/11 surveillance state, he has been a public and private cheerleader of the Orwellian overreach of our government spies. How can anyone take Obama seriously when he talks about the rule of law or what an example American democracy is to the rest of the world? He’s willing, even eager, to give our spooks carte blanche when it comes to invading our Constitutional rights to privacy.

And the future looks no brighter. If anyone, Republican or Democrat, other than Bernie Sanders wins the White House, and he’s a very, very long shot, the surveillance state will continue humming along, collecting data on you, me and everyone else on the planet.  September 11, 2001 will be remembered for many things, not the least of which is the creation of an all-seeing monster with the ability to reach into everyone’s private lives, and no brave Frodo to stop it.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Correcting a biblical interpretation

 It all makes sense now.
Gay marriage and marijuana
being legalized on the same day.
Leviticus 20:13 - "If a man
lays with another man
he should be stoned."
We've just been interpreting
it wrong all these years.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

It’s Five O’clock Somewhere

I applied for a job at a publishing company today. On the application, they asked applicants to write an Amazon-type review for a book they were publishing about cocktails. There were no other parameters other than word length. Here is my entry:

It’s Five O’clock Somewhere
By Jimmy Gleason

A guide to cocktailing your day away

Being a drunk doesn’t have to be boring. It’s Five O’clock Somewhere will help you break the screwdriver-merlot-martini cycle with exciting new ways to spice up your drinking day. From Irish Coffee to the afternoon Mojito to cucumber infused vodka with your favorite salad, you’ll find the perfect drink for any hour of the day or night. It’s Five O’clock Somewhere is also filled with mouth-watering, easy-to-make recipes that include alcohol for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And best of all, many of these recipes can be made without the use of dangerous appliances (like a stove) or utensils (like knives) so they are virtually injury-free. Author Jimmy Gleason is widely recognized as a world-class drinker and brings both wisdom and humor to this latest addition of his best selling series, Books for Drunks.