Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Ping - A New Short Scary Story

We've learned not to text and drive, but that's not the only situation where texting can be dangerous, even deadly. Read "Ping," my latest short scary story at They're Only Shadows and you'll never take texting for granted again.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Nightmare that is Donald Trump

Donald Trump is a despicable human being. With the maturity of a nine-year old and the vocabulary to match, Trump proves day in and day out he is the ringmaster of the current GOP circus masquerading as a Presidential campaign. As if anyone with an IQ over 70 needs additional proof, here are some headlines from Trump supporters on /r/The_Donald subreddit.

If @tedcruz was elected president, his wife would be the sixth lady.

ViveLaFrance Breaking: The end of Ted Cruz >> Washington Times confirms accounts of multiple @tedcruz mistresses as accurate.

Hillary is afraid. Donald has destroyed the career of everyone who has attacked him. She should be afraid.

You can bet your dick that if this scandal was happening to Trump, everyone and their god damn mother would be reporting it and censoring it would be absolutely out of the question. Fuck the MSM.

I would expect to find mini-rants like this in a ninth grader’s notebook or on a restroom wall. The grammar and punctuation mistakes and crude humor only emphasize the fact that Trump supporters are truly the poorly educated he claims to love. Even the few Republicans I know claim they won’t vote for the Donald.

Trump’s success so far has made America the laughing stock of the global community, which is probably something his followers would take pride in. Like a nightmare you can’t wake up from, the petulant man-child from New York City is seizing on the misplaced anger of less educated citizens to stoke his ego and legitimize his bigotry, and it looks as if he will be the Republican candidate for the Presidency. What a world.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

America’s Racist Legacy: The Real Reason for the War on Drugs

So here we are, forty-five years after the inception of the war on drugs, after spending tens of billions of dollars, after overseeing the deaths and imprisonment of untold numbers of people, after ravaging numerous Latin American countries, after helping establish and expand bloodthirsty drug cartels, after creating the cocaine epidemic of the seventies and eighties, after jailing tens of thousands of Americans for non-violent drug offenses, after all of that we learn what the war on drugs was really all about: racism.

John Ehrlichman, a former top Nixon aide and central figure in the Watergate scandal, confessed to a reporter in 1994 that the primary reason for initiating the war on drugs was to oppress Nixon’s primary enemies, blacks and hippies. This is what Ehrlichman said:

“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

If this doesn’t make you ashamed of being an American, you must be a Trump supporter. The toll that racism has taken on this country since its earliest days is incalculable, and in 2016 we have presidential candidates appealing once again to the bigotry and hatred felt by a segment of white Americans. It’s shameful and disgusting and is cause for much of the rest of the world to see us as the village idiot of the global community. 

Thinking people have long argued that the war on drugs was racist in nature, but even they believed incarcerating large numbers of people of color was a byproduct of a war that’s primary mission was to end the illegal drug trade. They were wrong. It was from the very beginning a tool to oppress and disrupt the lives of American citizens who were perceived to be a threat to the establishment.

Perhaps the saddest part of all of this is that no one will ever be brought to justice for this major crime against U.S. citizens. Like the perpetrators of the Iraq war and the 2008 financial crises, the bigger your crime, the more likely you are to go unpunished. And many citizens of this country continue to harbor racist beliefs and support leaders who espouse white supremacy. Nixon’s legacy lives on in today’s Republican presidential candidates.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Newest Short Scary Story: The Baker Family Reunion

Depending on how you feel about your relatives, family reunions can either be a fun occasion or a pain in the butt, but rarely are they fatal. Then there's the Baker family... Check out my newest short story at They're Only Shadows.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Will Our Next President Have the Courage to End the War on Drugs?

The war on drugs has been a hopeless boondoggle since its inception in the mid-seventies. It has syphoned off billions of dollars over the past 40 years that could have gone to much more useful endeavors such as renovating America’s crumbling infrastructure or funding clean energy sources.

And who has benefited from this unwinnable and costly war? As the chart above clearly shows, a major benefactor has been the nation’s prison system, and in recent years, a growing number of privately run prisons around the country. This is, however, only the tip of the iceberg. Local law enforcement organizations have hauled in tens of millions of dollars by seizing property and cash from both guilty and innocent suspects. A huge government bureaucracy was built that employs thousands of people who have a stake in keeping the drug war going. And the war has given rise to numerous vicious drug cartels that spread chaos and violence as they fight for their piece of the illegal drug trade.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that people of color are the primary victims of our drug war. Millions of young black and brown men sit in prison cells learning how to be better criminals instead of gaining job skills and contributing to their communities.

There is some hope. The movement to end the war on drugs is coming from the bottom up as more and more states move to decriminalize pot, a substance that is still considered as dangerous as heroin by the federal government. We now need a President who will end this fruitless and wasteful effort and channel that money into projects that benefit all Americans. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Unrestrained Capitalism is Killing America

The myth of the “liberal media” suffered another blow yesterday when CBS CEO Les Moonves was recorded telling a group of investors that the sudden rise of Donald Trump “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” Let that sink in for a moment. America is going down in flames, but CBS doesn’t care because it makes for great TV.

This is capitalism at it’s finest — screw everything as long as we’re in the black. And I would guess that this is the sentiment of other media owners as well. The media has never been liberal. It’s a business run by people whose only goal is making a profit and satisfying investors. That’s it. Public service? Ha! Actually informing viewers? Forgedaboutit.

Bible belt voters run screaming from the room at the mention of “socialism,” but don’t seem to have a clue that this country is being run into the ground by greedy amoral capitalists like Moonves.  And that’s the key. There is no room for morality in capitalism. There is no incentive to do the right thing if the right thing interferes with making a profit, so we ship jobs overseas, resist a living minimum wage and create loopholes to keep from paying our fair share of taxes. It’s all about the bottom line.

Add the amoral nature of capitalism to the fact that only six companies own over 90 percent of the media in America, and you have a near monopoly that provides the information and entertainment that will bring in the highest profits and keep the masses resting numbly in front of their TV screens.

Trump is a disaster for this country, but Moonves and others are making money hand over fist by giving The Donald tons of free airtime. Because Bernie Sanders is the only candidate that might even try to shake up the currant dynamic, he’s on the media’s enemies list, receiving negative attention when he gets mentioned at all.

Unrestrained capitalism is destroying America. Isn’t it time we try something different?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Unforgivable, a new short scary story

Some transgressions can be quickly forgotten, but others are unforgivable. Check out my latest short scary story at They're Only Shadows.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

The Revenant and Hollywood’s Treatment of American History

When I walked out of the theater after watching “The Revenant,” I was in a state of awe. Taut, thrilling, beautifully filmed, amazing characters — I was really impressed with the film and, of course, Leonardo DiCaprio’s heart wrenching performance. Now that I’ve had a few days to think about it, however, my take on the movie is evolving, not regarding the excellent work of everyone involved in the production, but about the storyline subtexts.

“The Revenant” actually has much in common with the 1972 movie “Jeremiah Johnson” starring Robert Redford. Both feature a white man dissatisfied with civilization who escapes to the untamed western mountains. As mountain men, Johnson and Glass are attracted to Native Americans and their culture, each marrying a tribal woman. After a cataclysmic event, a bear attack in Glass’s case, Johnson leads white settler through sacred native land, they must endure unimaginable hardships and violence to survive. Each movie ends with a resolution that is both satisfying, and at the same time questionable, knowing how much the journey has cost each man.

In both “The Reverent” and “Jeremiah Johnson,” each protagonist is a white man who can’t help but have a foot in both the racist white civilization from which they came and the dying Native American culture, which they aspire to. It is in each case, however, a white man’s story. It feels as though these two movies, and others, like “Dancing with Wolves,” are Hollywood’s very weak and anglo-centric attempt at apologizing for the genocide of Native Americans. It’s as if they’re saying, “Wait, we weren’t all racist, genocidal maniacs.”

It is, however, a lame and insulting attempt. Think about a movie where a Nazi soldier hides some Jews and despises Hitler. It could be an intriguing movie, but is a film about a do-gooder Nazi any kind of apology for the horrors of the Third Reich? Not all the Nazis were bad. So what?

We, our white ancestors, committed genocide on a national scale and making some movies about good-guy whites during that period only distracts us from the reality of our crime. America has yet to come to grips with our treatment of Native Americans from nearly the moment the Pilgrims landed here to this very day where they are still living in atrocious conditions on reservations. “The Revenant” is a story about a good white man vs. an evil white man. The Native Americans are mostly props for historical authenticity, but don’t be tricked into believing this is their story. That movie has yet to be made.

Friday, March 04, 2016

New scary short "The Imaginary Friend"

Did you have an imaginary friend as a child or were you one? Read "The Imaginary Friend" at They're Only Shadows.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

The Rise of Fascism American Style

Love him or hate him (and I don’t think there is any in between), Donald Trump has stirred up the normally stagnant political waters like no one in my lifetime. For those of us appalled by the idea of an unhinged, racist real estate mogul sitting in the Oval Office, it feels like we’re watching an out of control train careening down a mountainside to its inevitable explosive demise. Even Republicans like Mitt Romney are starting to panic, although, as others have pointed out, Trump is the monster the Republican Party built and there’s no way they’re going to get him back in the lab to take him apart.

The most frightening aspect of the Donald’s run is how his message of hate, exclusion, racism and violence resonates with so many Republicans. I’m sure intellectuals and leftists in Germany during the thirties were thinking the same thing. “How can so many German’s find Hitler and his policies appealing?”

Although the lion’s share of blame for Trump rests with the Republican Party, Democrats have to shoulder some responsibility as well. Over the past thirty years, Democrats have failed to offer a clear alternative vision to an American public growing  more and more disillusioned with politics and politicians. The problem exists on both the left and right, and it is manifesting itself in support for the non-establishment politicians, Trump and Sanders. Our government is dysfunctional, and Americans are slowly realizing that they can’t count on the government to heal itself, and are opting for true outsiders. The problem is, it’s left the door open for a guy like Trump with his fascist tendencies and racist appeal, a charismatic strong man promising to fix things in Washington and make America great again.

What Democrats know and now some Republicans are starting to realize is that the ego-driven Trump is playing a very dangerous game, and playing the conservative base for suckers. The only one who wants to see Donald Trump become President is Donald Trump’s ego.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016