Monday, August 29, 2016

Americans and Their Disturbing Priorities

George Bush and Dick Cheney started an illegal war that cost trillions of tax dollars, thousands of American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives, destroyed the infrastructure of a country and left the Middle East in a state of perpetual violence, yet “patriots” have their panties in a bind because an African-American football player didn’t stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Clinton Picks Signaling an Anti-Progressive, Corporate Friendly Administration

Hopes were high among liberals and progressives in January 2009 as this country’s first African American was inaugurated President of the United States. Barack Obama had run his campaign around a simple slogan, “change,” and for many of us who voted for him, that meant charting a new course away from the horrendous failures of the Bush administration toward peace and prosperity. It didn’t take long, however, for us to see that our hopes were once again misplaced.

In the early months of 2009, anticipation turned to trepidation as Obama began announcing his new cabinet, and we saw positions being filled by long-time Wall Street insiders, well-connected Washington bureaucrats and political cronies, none of whom could remotely be considered “agents of change.” Instead of a new direction, we were treated to a new face continuing many of Bush’s worst national and international policies.

Fast-forward to 2016. In this election cycle, it’s a race between a particularly repulsive Republican, Trump and the Democrat who could be the first female President in U.S. history, Hillary Clinton. That sounds good on paper, but once again, what is being billed as a historic moment in this country’s history is turning into a win for the status quo, business-as-usual crowd that actually runs America. The only difference this time around is that we progressives have no illusions about Clinton’s establishment leanings, despite the requisite liberal rhetoric of the campaign season.

Do I sound cynical or realistic? Exhibit A: Clinton chose as her running mate Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, a moderate Democrat who has supported, and recently voted for, the onerous TPP agreement. Exhibit B: Just yesterday, Clinton named former Colorado Democratic Senator and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to be chair of her presidential transition team, the position that will oversee the selection of thousands of presidential appointments should Clinton win the election.

So what’s the big deal with Salazar? Well, as a Senator and Interior Secretary, he continuously demonstrated he was a friend to big oil, gas, and the mining and ranching industries. He opened the Arctic Ocean to oil drilling and played Michael Brown with his botched response to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. On top of that he is an ardent supporter of the TPP and fracking. In short, Salazar is an old school corporate shill disguised as a Democratic politician, and Clinton’s choice for one of the most important positions on her transition team.

The national media is doing its job by perpetuating the myth that American voters have a real choice in this presidential election, and contrasting an obvious nutcase like Trump against Hillary surely helps reinforce that narrative, but reality is quite different. Whether Hillary or Trump is elected President, the powers behind the scenes will continue to implement the military/industrial/media agenda at the expense of democracy and the economic future of the 99 percent. Hillary is already indicating the direction she wants to take this country as President, and it is a ruinous, if familiar, path of greed, war and environmental decimation.

Friday, August 12, 2016

No Matter Who Wins the White House, Americans Lose

Are you as nauseated, saddened, horrified and disgusted by this Presidential election campaign as I am? In one generation, mine, this country has gone from the world’s beacon of democracy and prosperity to the giant village idiot bumbling and stumbling incoherently around the planet, an untethered corporate mascot gone berserk.

With the ascension of Trump, our election process has become an international joke, and other countries look at us with pity and sadness as they watch a once admired champion lean helplessly against the ropes, punch-drunk and bran damaged, in what is surely its final round.

We are here today thanks to greed, plain and simple. Despite a booming economy and a real chance for citizens to live the American dream, the military/industrial/media complex of the 1960s/70s, like Frankenstein’s monster suddenly realizing it has superhuman strength, woke up to its horrible potential to influence this country’s political process through its wealth and connections to America’s elites. The ball really got rolling during the Reagan administration with its tax cuts for the wealthy and, despite sixteen years of Democratic rule, the trajectory has been downhill ever since.

Having destroyed America’s middle class, stretched income inequality to ludicrous extremes and purchased the two major political parties, the wealthy elites are surely enjoying the spectacle we serfs naively call a democratic election. The reality is, they don’t care who is crowned President. The oily, snake-tongued Trump is one of their members, as is the neo-liberal Clinton. Neither candidate is a threat to the current hegemony that is pulling this country beneath the surface like a weight tied around its ankles.

The corporate media dutifully continues its assigned goal of making the Presidential campaign look like a race when it is actually more like a horrific automobile accident from which we can’t avert our eyes. Our elections have turned into a dark spectacle, a cirque du macabre of huge laughing orange faces, cackling countesses and obese promoters counting their stacks of coins backstage. We willingly pay the price of admission while they laugh at our gullibility from behind the curtains, filling their vaults with our hard earned cash.

This election year, regardless of who moves into the White House, Americans will lose, and despite being conned once again, their attention will be drawn to the shiny object the media tells them is the next big thing.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

A Brand New Short Story: The Invitation

Sometimes actors can get a little too caught up in their roles. That can be especially true if you're filming in a haunted house. Check out "The Invitation" at They're Only Shadows.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The Political Conventions Are Over, But Not Forgotten

Some convention highlights you might have missed:

“Censorship police” wearing yellow vests covered up signs they didn’t agree with and started patriotic chants to drown out protesters.

Signs criticizing the party’s nominee were covered over with huge American flags.

A delegate who hoisted a flag deemed politically inappropriate was thrown out of the convention.

“They tried to bully us, under the assumption that we would all just fall in line,” said one delegate. “We were called crazy, and some of us, including myself, were physically attacked. They tried to intimidate us, but their attempts only fired us up more.”

There you have it. The Republican Convention was an Orwellian nightmare…wait, what? That wasn’t from the Republican Convention? That happened at the Democratic National Convention? Yes, indeed.

Sanders supporters at the convention who did not experience an immediate epiphany and turn their enthusiastic support in the direction of Hillary were harassed, belittled, bullied and, in a few cases, physically assaulted. It was an attempt by the Clinton juggernaut to convey a united Democratic front to the media covering the event, in ways that were as undemocratic as one could possibly get. The Clintonites at the convention went so far as to pay actors to fill up empty seats and cheer for Hillary.

As you might guess, many Sanders supporters went home from the Democratic convention defeated and dismayed by the Trump-like tactics used to shut down protests from the party many thought represented minority voices and the underdogs. That’s so 1960s. Today’s Democratic Party is as beholden to money and special interests as the Republican Party, and is just as ready to stifle descent and discord. Hillary Clinton, with her vast network of rich and famous donors, is the perfect figurehead for a political party that has sold its soul for a shot at the Oval Office, where loyal members can make millions from their experiences.

Luckily for the Democratic Party and Hillary, Trump is the perfect opposition candidate, drawing media attention away from the sleazy tactics and heavy-handed suppression of Sanders with The Donald's daily gaffes and buffoonery. However, the Sanders delegates will remember their treatment at the convention and how the DNC betrayed them, and, with any luck, will take the energy they had for Bernie and build momentum for a new progressive coalition in America.