Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Far Right Has Found its Fascist Strongman in Trump

His dais is so high, he towers over the millions of devotees sending up a vocal tsunami of loving cheers. Behind him his face is projected, his squinting eyes and puckered lips are ten stories tall, the face of a giant, stern God that rotates slowly from side to side. He wears a tan military coat with a purple sash covered in ribbons and medals that glint in the sunlight. At the perimeter of the throng, military personal stand at attention in lines as straight as razor blades, interspersed with huge tanks and missiles. Finally, he holds out his arms and almost immediately, the massive crowd goes silent. He slowly lowers his arms and leans forward.

“I have made America great again.”

The roar is deafening.

Yes, Donald Trump is the fascist strongman the Far Right in America longs for with a passion. He is the autocratic father, the figurehead of strength and fearlessness that a weak and listless country needs to raise it up from a socialist nanny state to a broad shouldered warrior for freedom. The Donald does not discuss issues, he makes proclamations and issues edicts. Debating facts is for whiny losers. The world he believes in is all that matters, and it is a paternalistic, white, capitalist game board where he sets the rules and if you don’t like it, you can shut the fuck up or his goons will beat the crap out of you.

When considered in the light of the strongman, Trump’s appeal makes more sense to me. Ultra conservatives are drawn to fascism. Extreme Christianity meets politics in this worldview, where the chosen father (God, Christ, Hitler, Jim Jones) is given supreme power to wisely and steadfastly lead the faithful to victory. Charismatic, articulate and absolutely sure of himself, the strongman pulls you into supporting his vision of the world through the power of his will and unwavering certainty. To a believer, it almost doesn’t matter what the strongman says. His words are on another realm hovering above mere logic, rationality and even common sense. The very fact that the liberal media, the elites and the establishment revile him so much only serves to strengthen the resolve of his followers who know that he is here to save us from ourselves. Persecution only strengthens the cause.

In the evil world of the godless, reality-based secularists, Trump is a narcissistic, egomaniacal blowhard who would be restrained in a straightjacket in more rational times, but to his believers, those are his attributes. Jim Jones, Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, David Koresh, Charles Manson — they all combined a mixture of characteristics that drew people to them in a way that defied all logic, and that from the outside looking in, you would be able to see the horror of it all like a car accident unfolding in slow motion you could do nothing about.

Donald Trump is not a brave man. He used a number of deferments to avoid going to Vietnam. Donald Trump is certainly not a smart man nor is he a man that historically has shown any concern for the plight of the less fortunate Americans he wants to preside over, but he does know his flock, and he can play to it like a perfectly tuned instrument.

Could Trump be America’s first strongman, a President willing to blatantly and openly defy the Constitution and the rule of law? As frightening as that sounds, in this day of overt gerrymandering, hackable voting machines, terrorist paranoia and the influence of money in politics, it seems alarmingly possible, although I can’t go so far as to say probable. Not yet, anyway.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Give Your Conservative Relatives the Gift of Knowledge This Holiday Season

As promised, here is the second installment of “How to get your obnoxious, conservative Uncle Al to STFU at the next family gathering.” If he starts rambling incoherently about how terrible Obama is as president, just whip out the chart above on your phone and watch the steam come from Uncle Al’s ears. Hopefully, Al won’t pull out his concealed weapon and threaten you, because we know he sees violence as a viable means of ending arguments, but what the heck, it’ll be a holiday to remember.

Merry Xmas

Friday, November 20, 2015

Latest Short Scary Story - "I'll Never Die"

I'm not very comfortable with self-promotion, but I posted a short scary story on Reddit that has been getting a lot of favorable responses. Here are some examples:

 “This is fantastic :) Well done.”

“Kudos. Applause”


“I. Love. This.”

“Loved every second of this story, kudos!"

It's now posted on my short story blog, "They're Only Shadows." Check it out. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Why Can’t We Understand There Will Be No Military Victory in the Middle East?

The war drums grow louder. If the Paris attacks show us anything, they reveal that the West has learned nothing about the Middle East over the past thirty years. The calls from Western leaders for more bombs, more troops and more civil liberty restrictions play directly into the hands of the terrorists, and will solve nothing.

We helped create Al Qaeda and ISIS by financially and militarily supporting those groups fighting the Russians in the 1990s, fearing the expansion of the Russian empire more than the threat of terrorism, and now it has come back to bite us in the ass. Worst of all, we’ve continued supporting ISIS in the hopes they will overthrow Assad in Syria. We never seem to learn that attempting regime change through proxy fighters always has unintended consequences that are bad for the U.S.

We will never bomb away terrorism, and in our futile attempts to destroy ISIS we actually create more terrorists, yet our leaders call for more blood. The terrorists who carried out the Paris attacks were Europeans, so should we drop bombs on Brussels or London?

Our foreign policies regarding the Middle East need to change. Bush and Cheney poured the gas and lit the match by invading Afghanistan and Iraq, and, after 12 years, it should be obvious to anyone that continued military action in the region only perpetuates more terrorism in the West, and will not stop it. It’s time for all of the factions to talk to each other, and for the West to stop the military madness before we ignite WWIII.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Foolish and Frightening Republican Response to the Paris Attacks


How many other ways can I describe the Republican’s response to the Paris terrorist attacks?

If Trump were President, he would “seriously consider” closing all American mosques, and he tweeted that the attacks might have been prevented if Paris didn’t have such strict gun control laws. Cruz, Rubio and Bush want to drop more bombs on ISIS than Obama because it’s been working so well. Louisiana Governor Jindal wants to bar all Syrian refugees from our borders. The pundit who is paid to be wrong about everything, Bill Kristal, wants to send 50,000 troops to fight ISIS. Ben Carson can’t name America’s international allies and is absolutely clueless about what America’s reaction to a terrorist attack should be. And in related news, Jeb Bush only wants us to help Christian Syrians. According to Bush, in this situation, Jesus would want Syrian Muslims to rot and die.

George Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld helped get us where we are today with their ill-conceived, ill-planned attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, and Republican voters seem to want to elect a President who vows to make the situation in the Middle East worse than it already is. Without connecting the simplest dots, the GOP loons are advocating actions that could ignite WWIII. And in the case of a few of the more religious zealots like Carson and Cruz, this could very well be their intention.

I think all of the Republican candidates should be required to be participants in the show “Are You Smarter Than a Five-Year Old?” The answer for all of them would be a resounding “no.” Voting for anyone who is running on the Republican ticket for President is an act of national suicide and those people should be forced to wear red stickers that say, “I Voted…for America’s Destruction.”

The Paris attacks gives us a glimpse at the leadership skills and crises responses of the Republicans running for President, and that should scare the hell out of all of us.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

New Short Scary Story - The Cellmate

Tray McNair was a prisoner in the city jail, but he soon becomes the prisoner of a much darker force. Check out my latest short scary story at They're Only Shadows.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Terrorist Strike in Paris and the Other Major News Story of the Day

Today we mourn and send our sympathies to the families and friends of the dead and wounded in yesterday's attacks in Paris. Killing innocent men, women and children is the coward’s way, and those responsible for the Paris attacks must be brought to justice for the crime of murder. Acts of terror such as this are just that, actions intended to terrorize and intimidate enemies, so the best way to battle these atrocities is for the citizens of France to stay strong, courageous and unified.

 That said, I want address a related comment I saw on Reddit. A person added a post with the headline: Pay close attention to what events that are being overshadowed by the Paris attacks. Now this can be understood in two ways. The author could be implying that the attacks were staged to cover up an important piece of news or that we shouldn’t lose sight of other significant news happening during this time period. I lean toward the second interpretation, but either way, there is a major story in the news today that is probably not getting the attention it deserves.

In an article in Slate, we now know that in the months prior to 9/11 Bush, Cheney and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice received urgent intelligence on numerous occasions that there was an imminent attack about to happen on U.S. soil, and did nothing. Here is an excerpt: 

"In a blockbuster account by Chris Whipple, based on interviews he did for a Showtime documentary, former chief of the CIA’s counterterrorism center Cofer Black and former CIA director George Tenet described how they spent the months leading up to 9/11 trying to warn the White House that a spectacular attack was imminent and that the country needed to take urgent action, but to no avail."

Tenet became so alarmed by the intel the CIA was receiving that he called for an urgent meeting with Rice to warn of an imminent terrorist attack. Rice did nothing in response.

 What this means is that there were many more serious and specific warnings about a terrorist attack in American than the Bush administration ever admitted to. Condi Rice’s statement after 9/11 that nobody could have imagined planes hitting skyscrapers turns out to be a blatant lie, as there were many such warnings. The question of course, is why?

 Was it the sheer incompetence of the Bush White House to brush off such dire warnings or was something else going on? Why weren’t Tenet’s concerns addressed and serious efforts made to thwart such a terrorist plot? Was it incompetence or the “new Pearl Harbor” that Cheney and the neocons in Washington needed to initiate their wars in the Middle East?

Friday, November 13, 2015

America the War Machine

Like all Americans born in this country, I was raised on propaganda. I was told America was exceptional, we only fought wars when we had to and the cause was righteous, war was always a last resort and we, as a country, worked to maintain peace and freedom around the globe. These are, of course, lies. Let me introduce you to author Nick Turse who wrote a book titled, “Tomorrow’s Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa.” Here are some facts from that book that demonstrate exactly how hard America works for international peace and freedom. 
  • American special ops have been sent to a record 147 countries — that’s 75% of the nations on the planet.
  • This represents a 145% increase from the days of George W. Bush.
  • On any given day, elite U.S. forces are on the ground in 70 to 90 countries.
  • The U.S. military is involved in more than 90% of Africa’s 54 nations.
 In a recent poll, people from around the world were asked what country they felt was the biggest threat to world peace, and the U.S. won hands down. We have turned into a military monster whose answer to every international challenge is a bomb or a bullet. We murder innocent people routinely with our drones. We actively work to overthrow leaders we don’t like, despite the will of the people. The U.S. is by far the world’s largest weapons exporter, and we spend more on our military than China, Russia, the UK and 10 other countries COMBINED.

The U.S. has become a giant murder and mayhem machine, shooting up foreign countries for fun and profits, and to continue justifying its obscene defense spending. We are not respected around the world, but feared. What country will we invade or bomb next? What foreign leader will be assassinated next? In what country will we instigate a phony people’s uprising next? Which whistleblower will be arrested or murdered next?

Thanks to the politicians who manufacture the fear and the industries who make trillions in profits from war, we’ve managed to turn America the beautiful into America the despised. Our brand is no longer freedom and democracy, but death and destruction. How long will the rest of world put up with us?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

New Short Scary Story - It Runs in the Family

Spiders. I hate spiders, but they can be fun to write about. Check out my latest short scary story at They're Only Shadows and get a case of the creepy crawlies.

Tis the season to torch the arguments of your FOX News-watching relatives

As Thanksgiving and Christmas loom closer and closer on the calendar, we’re all preparing for fun-filled family gatherings and…Uncle Al. Almost every family has an Uncle Al, the loud, obnoxious conservative who, after a few cocktails, starts railing against the communist Kenyan guy in the White House and all of the liberal political correctness of the holiday season. He watches FOX News and believes he is hearing the unvarnished truth the leftist media won’t publish.

As my contribution to the family holiday festivities, during the season I will be posting real facts to counter the gibberish of Uncle Al, simple, easy to understand retorts that should (but probably wont) shut dear Al’s pie hole. The first is related to the economy. If Uncle Al starts saying anything like, “Obama’s ruined the economy,” or “Name one good thing Obama’s done,” just pull up the above chart on your iPhone and show it to Al. I guarantee you he won’t like it.

Happy Holidays, Bill O'Reilly.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ben Carson Should Not Be Allowed Anywhere Near the White House

Just a couple of observations about Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson.

Carson has said some very strange and troubling things during this campaign. He has also, so it appears, lied about parts of his life story, and was in full defense mode all of last week after the media checked into some of his claims. But here’s the thing that gets to me: Who makes a serious run for the presidency and DOESN’T expect his or her background to be investigated? It was the same thing for Bush, who apparently thought his personal history should be off limits to journalists.  Yet Carson is shocked, shocked I tell you, that his past is being scrutinized by the media. WTF? You’re a freakin’ brain surgeon and you don’t have the ability to understand that as a presidential candidate your past will be investigated? Something’s off here and it’s either the size of his ego or IQ.

The second issue relating to Carson is truly a fundamental one. As mentioned above, Carson has said some seriously batty stuff during this campaign, like the biblical Joseph built the pyramids to store grain and that being in prison can turn you gay. The way I see it there are only two situations that can explain Ben Carson’s loony beliefs: Either he really believes what he’s saying, which is a serious indictment of our education system in America, or that he is only saying crazy things to appeal to the Right’s lunatic fringe, which makes him one of the most disingenuous, manipulative people to ever run for office. I don’t really know the answer to this conundrum, but as more and more evidence emerges that he is a pathological liar, I might cast my vote for the latter.

Monday, November 09, 2015

It’s Hard to Believe, But America is Using Drones to Perpetuate the War on Terror

In the concluding paragraph of an excellent piece in Counterpunch titled, “Reaper Madness: Obama’s Whack-A-Mole Killing Machine,” Doug Noble writes,

“What I’ve tried to show here is something more:  that these military miscreants have also known all along that their drone technology and targeting strategy are militarily bankrupt. They could not but be aware from military history and doctrine that these approaches have absolutely no possibility of defeating terrorist groups or keeping America safe. They must know that in fact the opposite is true, that their nefarious enterprise only further endangers us all. And yet they will continue ever more brazenly their Reaper madness, the scholars here all agree, until we find some way to stop them.”

This begs the question: Why, if the military knows drone strikes are counterproductive, de we keep using drones? I believe there’s only one plausible answer. America must have an enemy. In order to sustain our bloated, massively expensive military/industrial/media complex, we must have an evil “other” to do battle with, to justify the obscene amounts of taxpayer dollars being sucked into the black hole of “national security.”

The end of the Cold War and the communist empire ushered in a vacuum that was quickly filled with a new enemy, international terrorism. The 1990s saw the rise of the Taliban and Al Qaeda, organizations the U.S. helped create and arm, but it wasn’t until the new Pearl Harbor of 9/11 that the war on terror shifted into high gear.

From the American perspective, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were just what the military ordered, but after well over a decade of fighting, it became obvious to even the most hawkish cheerleaders (except Dick Cheney) that the wars were a debacle that did far more harm than good. But we couldn’t just pick up our marbles and go home without somehow continuing the war on terrorists and unfriendly regimes in the region, so we sent in the drones.

Although many experts outside of Washington D.C. agree that the use of drones is ineffective and even counterproductive, Obama is enlarging the program, which for me, means that by the government’s reasoning, that’s exactly the point. Killing civilians means keeping the populace stirred up and angry at America which means more terrorists that we need to fight and the cycle continues ad nauseam. As horrible as it sounds, what other explanation can there be? 

The war on terror is a self-perpetuating farce designed to focus Americans away from the issues we face at home and keep the military/industrial/media complex fat and well-funded.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Despite All Logic, a Republican Could Win the White House

So let’s take a step back and see where we’re at with the Republican presidential candidates after a couple of debates. We have the back-of-the-pack group who, if they had any sense whatsoever, should all throw in the towel and issue public apologies for wasting everyone’s time. Among the so-called front runners we have a guy who calls himself a libertarian, but who is really a Tea Party conservative minus the religious fervor, a woman who is trying desperately to rewrite her personal history of business failures, several religious fanatics, a bumbling Bush, a whiny, arrogant billionaire and, at the steering wheel of the crazy bus, a neurosurgeon and pathological liar who believes that the biblical Joseph built the pyramids.

The Republican presidential candidates are living, breathing representations of everything that is wrong with America, from a parochial, puritanical religious extremism to a rejection of science to war mongering to an allegiance to the wealthy and powerful over the rest of America’s citizens. If any one of them manages to win the White House, and Republicans maintain control of Congress, this country is in serious trouble.

To make matters worse, there are troubling stories out of Kentucky and Ohio that election results in those two states may have been rigged. In the Ohio case, there is clear evidence of votes flipping related to the legal marijuana ballot, with screen shots showing the votes changing automatically from “yes” to “no.” In every election since voting machines were introduced, there have been questionable results, almost always favoring Republican candidates. This is a huge issue that goes to core of what makes a democracy and democracy and should be a high priority for the Justice Department, but it doesn’t seem to be.

Gerrymandering, electronic vote hacking, state requirements making it harder for minorities to vote, fat cats bankrolling campaigns…Republicans are growing more and more desperate as their base of voters grows older and dies off. The most depressing aspect of this is that the tricks work, just look at Bush’s 2000 win, and no one within the system is strong enough or brave enough to take on the fight.

If anyone thinks that there’s no way one of those Republican lunatics could win the Presidential election, I’m afraid there’s ample evidence that it could indeed happen, if only by hook and crook.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Yesterday’s Elections and the American Death Spiral

As yesterday’s local and statewide elections demonstrated, American democracy continues its downward death spiral. Politically disillusioned, disappointed and dis-engaged young people, people of color, liberals and progressives stayed away from the polls in droves, allowing older conservative white voters to rule the day. That is the death spiral in which we find ourselves. Many would-be voters have simply given up. And you know what? It’s hard to blame them.

In the nineties we voted for a presidential candidate who sounded liberal during his two campaigns, but once in office, slid to the right. We did it again in 2008 and 2012, falling for the liberal, populist rhetoric of Obama, only to see him shape-shift into a moderate Republican after he was given the keys to the White House. And it’s not just in our heads. A recent study by Princeton University professors revealed that the average American, whether that person votes or not, has virtually no influence in government policymaking. The concluding paragraph of Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups and Average Americans reads:

Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a wide-spread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.” 

I would argue that far from being merely threatened, democracy in America has been hijacked by the one percent, with the help of the Supreme Court, and we now live in an oligarchy. I don’t encourage people not to vote, but I understand the reasoning. Elections have become exercises in futility and the only citizens that have any influence in Washington are those with the deepest pockets.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

The Girl Next Door - A New Scary Short Story

The girl next door isn't exactly the kid you'd like your child to play with. Find out why by visiting They're Only Shadows.

Monday, November 02, 2015

America’s Deadly Reality Gap

Why is there such a Grand Canyon size reality gap in America? How is it that a significant number of citizens can live in a reality that allows them to take the Republican presidential candidates seriously? How can there be so many people that seem to agree with the inane, hateful, dumber-than-a-five-year-old comments that leak out like waste from a broken sewer line from the mouths of Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and the other mental asylum escapees?

This country’s red states and rural areas in blue states have more in common with third world countries than the rest of the United States, with their substandard education, religious extremism, anti-science bias, rigid patriarchy and bigotry. Ben Carson is now leading the Republicans because he saw what Trump was doing and new he either had to go batshit crazy or go home. He clearly chose the former, and every day there’s a new headline with a Carson quote that’s more insane than yesterday’s, and conservative America can’t get enough.

America has truly become an ideological two-state country. Unfortunately for all of us, amoral Republican candidates are more than willing to represent the interests of the military/industrial/media complex, and their legitimacy is propped up by billionaire’s, who could give a shit about what happens to we mere mortals, and their propaganda machine, also known as the national news media.

Of course, it all comes back to money and power. If you got it, you call the shots. If you don’t, and that’s 99 percent of us, you get to watch the show they like to call democracy, which is really an oligarchy, and pretend you have a part to play in this 21st century tragedy.