Friday, January 20, 2017
Yes, I'm here. I haven't been arrested. I haven't fled the country.
I've been working, and that's a good thing. It's nice to have a day job again. But that means I can't spend hours in between resume postings writing things. It's a sad trade-off. Sooner or later I had to get back on the hamster wheel, and so here I am, wasting away eight hours a day just like the rest of you.
But on this, the inauguration day of Donald Trump, I felt it necessary to put my thoughts out there again. Because the world needs to hear them, and I need to say them.
You see, with the onset of the Giant Wheel of Cheese Administration will undoubtedly come opportunity. The backlash can and will be fierce, and we can save America on the rebound with a poisoning of the Republican brand the likes of which has never been seen before. Right-wingers who have been drunk with success will have one HELL of a hangover coming! It can and should be a two-to-four year presentation of "We told you so!" to all ears who can hear, followed by the defeat of trickle-down voodoo economics once and for all. We can take full advantage of this...
If America is not destroyed first.
No, I don't think I'm using hyperbole. My approach to the Trump Misadministration is to prepare as though a hurricane were approaching. Shutter up the windows, bolt down the doors, stock up the bunker, and hunker down for the worst. Yes, it may be necessary to evacuate from any storm, but I truly don't think any of us should flee the U.S. There's just too many of us out there, and we outnumber the Trumpets by a considerable margin. They can't control us all, and it's far more likely that certain States may break away from the Union before their citizens flee elsewhere. We could see the onset of the Republic of California, or New England actually becoming the Commonwealth of New England. Washington, Oregon and greater Vancouver could fulfill their dream of establishing "Cascadia." Southeast Wisconsin would almost certainly join Northeast Illinois and Northwest Indiana to forge a new breakaway republic. We could call it "Williana." But I digress.
Perhaps the storm analogy is not so accurate. I'd say it's more of a crucible - an internal fever that will burn the craziness out of our culture. On the other hand, the refining fire may also burn us to death. Just as a body could emerge from an illness stronger, the illness could also kill the body.
Which will it be? I don't know for certain. But I know this much: I'm going to fight to keep America going, and to make sure Trumpism goes down in flames and what passes for "conservatism" with it.
John F. Kennedy once said that the Chinese word for "crisis" was a combination of the characters for "danger" and "opportunity." This was factually wrong as far as Chinese is concerned, but danger and opportunity can often be the same thing.
That danger and opportunity is now here. Brace yourselves! It's gonna be a bumpy ride!
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Remember our fathers' generation, when aiding Russian agents was considered the ultimate betrayal of America? Well, apparently that's okay now, according to some Republicans.
A report from the Washington Post, confirmed by other news sources such as CNN, shows that a secret CIA assessment confirmed what we suspected all along - that Russian hackers actively sought to help Donald Trump win the presidency.
Holy. Fucking. Shit.
The Obama administration knew about this and wanted to break the news to the public back in mid-September. The public, of course, already had its suspicions, and it was no secret that Russia was probably involved, but some Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, said that would be a partisan influence upon the election.
Think about that. A foreign power actively sought to tamper with the United States election process, and McConnell and others actually thought that was a partisan issue? Since when is a violation of our national sovereignty, especially if it involves tampering with the voting process, anything other than an act of war upon the United States?!
Apparently, it's okay to call Obama a socialist while paling around with Ruskies to undermine the vote or mislead the public. What the fuck has happened to America?!
Think about Obama's remarkable restraint. He had this bombshell in hand, and chose to hold onto it. He even convened Republican and Democratic leaders together to release the information as a consensus view. Republicans actually balked in response to this chivalry! And when James Comey dropped his non-news-story mystery box that thwarted Hillary's huge lead, Obama held onto this news story still!
Okay, I know he's a great man for being so honorable, but when you're fighting such dishonorable opponents.... Oh, shit, let's get real. He just plain fucked up!
Damn it, Barry! You're my hero! Why couldn't you play hardball just this once?!
The day this report came out, Rush Limbaugh was decrying the mainstream media for making such an issue about "fake news," saying that the mainstream media IS, in fact, fake news.
Up is down, black is white, day is night... At this point, the frog has not only been boiled to death, the beaker has boiled over, and the water completely evaporated. What's now left of the frog is now sizzling at the bottom of the glass surface, slowly charring. That might sound like a tasty treat if you happen to be French, but if you're American, it's our national tragedy.
Julian Assange, in a recent TV interview, said that Russia was not the source of his leaks. That would be what legal scholars call a lie. Assange is now not just an enemy of Hillary Clinton. He is an enemy combatant against the United States! He complains about being confined to the embassy of Ecuador in London. Perhaps he should count himself lucky to not be confined to Gitmo.
In my previous blog post, I pointed out that it is conservatives, not liberals, living in a bubble, and we now have the polling data to prove it. Now we've come to realize just how incredibly thick that bubble is, and what indestructible material its made out of.
We can't burst that bubble. We can't even shatter it. It's made of titanium. We have to blowtorch our way in.
And that could take a long, long while.
Friday, December 9, 2016
The loser in this year's presidential election was not Hillary Clinton. The loser was the Truth.
A recently published poll by Public Policy Polling shows that Trump supporters live in their own, private reality, just like Trump himself does. They believe, even now, that he's honest and tells it like it is. If by that, they mean he's blunt, they may have a point. But Trump has been caught lying on camera so often that it's stunning that the word "honest" could be applied to him by anyone.
Here's what the poll shows:
40% of Trump supporters believe that he, not Hillary Clinton, actually won the popular vote. 60% of them honestly think that millions voted illegally for Hillary. (If so, why do so in California and not Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida or Wisconin?)
29% of Trump voters think that votes from California shouldn't count. (!) Only 53% think they should count. 11% aren't sure. (How the hell can you not be sure?)
73% of Trump voters think that George Soros is paying people to protest against Trump. So where's my check, already?
67% of Trump voters actually think the unemployment rate has gone up instead of down during Obama's tenure. Wow! That's one hard rock they're living under!
Think that's bad? 39% of Trump supporters believe the stock market has gone down during Obama's tenure. What the fuuuuuuuuck?!
14% of Trump supporters think that Hillary is connected to a child sex ring out of a Washington D.C. pizzeria. That seems like a low number, until you see that only 54% of them think she isn't. 32% are, incredibly, unsure.
76% of Trump voters view CNN unfavorably. 84% of them view the New York Times unfavorably.
Only 16% of conservatives think that Trump should release his tax returns. A whopping 61% percent think he shouldn't.
So, it's official. When it comes to the truth, Trump supporters don't fucking care. In other words...
THE BUBBLE OF DISCONNECT IS NOT AROUND LIBERALS!
One of the more interesting stories I saw this morning involves an 18 year old boy from Macedonia whose fake news stories have garnered him a tidy fortune. All he has to do is say something favorable about Trump, scandalous about Hillary or negative about Obama and he gets hundreds of thousands of hits.
It's time to face facts. Skepticism is needed in America now more than ever. With one voice, those of us who are actually informed need to take the message out to the countryside billboards and proclaim that we need Truth with a capital "T," that when Truth upsets your entire world, your entire world needs to change, that when Truth comes to you through a news source you dislike, the solution is to accept the Truth and not change your news source.
About a month before election day, I had a conversation with a bartender in which I cited Snopes as debunking a Hillary story he believed. He replied, in all honesty, "Oh, Snopes is a liberal conspiracy web site."
In a debate with a softball teammate of mine about global warming, I included a link to NASA's website showing the North Pole arctic ice cap melting away month by month from the 1980's to today. And he said, in all honesty, "Oh, that's just CGI."
It's gotten so bad that people will casually dismiss NASA or Snopes as "liberal," and apparently liberal equates somehow with untrustworthy.
We need to tell people that Truth is Truth. Truth is not whatever agrees with your team colors.
This could be the era in which skepticism saves us. Or it could be the era in which truth is lost forever. Or at least until the advent of the Singularity.
We need a Vulcan moment. In Star Trek, the planet Vulcan was filled with chaos and turmoil until the philosophy of logic saved it through the teachings of Surak. We need a Surak now, one who says in the words of T'Plana-Hath, matron of Vulcan philosophy, "Logic is the cement of our civilization with which we ascend from chaos using reason as our guide."
It's up to us. Spread the word! The Truth must be accepted over ALL our comfortable illusions!
Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Okay, Donald Trump has yet to be sworn in, and if we're lucky, there's still a chance the electoral college will do its job and keep that from happening. But recently there have been indications that Joe Biden wants to run for president in 2020. That forces the issue somewhat. Who do we want for 2020 when the imperative of dislodging Donald Trump gives us a chance to undo the inevitable damage?
My personal favorite. Elizabeth Warren was everybody's pick for Veep in 2016, but she turned down any opportunity to run. She's 67 now, which means she would be 71 by 2020, but then, Hillary was 70 and that didn't stop her. She's near the top of everyone's list, and #1 on mine.
Want a likable candidate? How about the guy who once ran into a burning building to save people! Barack Obama with teeth? Sign me up!
Super smart, successful, and Latino? We couldn't do much better than former HUD Secretary Julian Castro! Come to think of it, his twin brother, Congressman Joachin Castro of San Antonio, Texas, wouldn't be a bad pick, either.
Could he try again? Lots of people think so! Certainly he has a large, devoted following. But he's 75 now, which means he will be 79 then. Will the youth vote flock again to a man who is almost 80? Hard to say. But certainly, the next Democratic Party candidate will need this man's blessing if he or she is to have any chance. He's either the next candidate, or he's the kingmaker.
Who better to follow in the footsteps of a total joke of a president than a former comedian? Saturday Night Live star Al Franken has been using his incredible wit to make people laugh for decades. I can just imagine the Twitter war between this guy and Trump already!
Let's face it, the electorate is shallow. Someone exciting needs to get the public to vote for a woman, and Kirsten Jillibrand might just be the ticket. She's got the expertise, she's got the resume, and let's be honest about it, she's got the looks. If Elizabeth Warren isn't our gal, I think Kirsten is probably our best shot at getting a woman into the Oval Office. And, to be frank, I think we need a second shot at that, seeing as how Hillary was deliberately tripped at the finish line by James Comey.
Here's a thought: How about an Iraqi war veteran who has served as the Assistant Secretary for Veterans Affairs before winning seats in Congress and then Senate in Illinois? Illinois produced a hot-shot Senator once before as you may recall, and his name was Barack Obama. And like him, she's of mixed "race," being half Thai-Sino and half Daughter of the American Revolution. I don't know about you, but I think that having the first female president would be only slightly more satisfying than seeing the first president in a wheelchair since FDR.
Can Uncle Joe do it? I'll bet he wants to! He might be feeling a certain amount of regret over not jumping in back in October of 2015. He certainly has a large following of people who really like him. But perhaps 2016 proved that old blood can never win. And let's not forget, Uncle Joe is so much fun because he constantly says the wrong thing at the wrong time. His foot-in-mouth disease is the main reason he's vice president and not president. Plus, he's 74. Which would make him 78 in 2020. Only a year younger than Bernie? It might as well be Bernie himself then. Or else someone Bernie endorses right out of the gate. Still, Uncle Joe is a real trip! Maybe just the thing we need after four years of Trump.
Who's this? Why, she's the new Senator-elect from California, and the first woman ever to be California's Attorney General! She brings a golden resume to the table, and one hell of a mixed heritage, being the daughter of an Indian-American mother and a Jamaican-American father. Of course, genealogy only counts for so much, but when your opponent is Nazi-salute Trumpenstein, it can count for a lot. Fortunately, she would be a top-notch candidate no matter what her ethnicity might be. If you don't recognize her name now, jot it down. You'll probably see it again very soon.
He was supposedly the "boring" pick for VP by Hillary, but look what he brings to the table: A stellar record as Virginia's Governor, fluent in Spanish, and sharp, sharp, sharp! He might not look so boring four years from now.
Oh, yeah! Him! That guy that couldn't compete with juggernauts like Hillary and Bernie in 2016, but who set himself up well for a later run by being one of the only other Democrats to score significant percentages against them. He eventually dropped out, but he dented the armor of his opponents a little, and performed superbly in the first debate.
Some other interesting names:
Sherrod Brown - Senator from, yes, Ohio! Any candidate that can deliver Ohio is worth taking seriously.
Cicilia Munoz - Smart and savvy member of Obama's cabinet, Cicilia Munoz has never been a Congresswoman or Senator. Yet that's just what people are looking for these days - qualified, yet an outsider. Plus, she's Latina! The daughter of Bolivian immigrants. Again, genealogy only goes so far, but against Trump...
Lincoln Chafee - Former Governor of Rhode Island who ran in 2016. He might run again.
Jim Webb - Veteran and former Senator from Virginia. He ran in 2016 as well. But if Tammy Duckworth runs, his soldier's resume won't stand a chance.
Lawrence Lessig - Oh yeah! The Harvard Law Professor who said he would enact election reforms, then resign. It was a great publicity stunt, and got people talking about the issue for a change. Unfortunately, Trump.
Do you like my list? Have you picked a favorite? I have. Several, in fact. And I hope you have, too.
Saturday, November 26, 2016
Lots of people are re-hashing the election and pointing to this factor or that factor, blaming one small slice of Democratic voters over another small slice. But I choose to put the bulk of the blame on the 47% of the electorate who voted for Trump. You know, the ones that were blatantly lied to for decades.
Now, some are pointing to fake news on social media as one reason why so many Americans had a complete and total brain-fart on November 8th, but let's be honest: fake news has been around forever, and the conservative propaganda machine has been around since the early 90's. So while Mark Zuckerberg is pondering how to separate the real-news wheat from the fake-news chaff, I think our current president has at least one thing he can do to rectify the situation first.
Bring back the Fairness Doctrine.
For those of you who aren't aware, the Fairness Doctrine was a standard set by the FCC which required broadcasters airing controversial opinions to represent both sides of a contentious issue. This meant that if an editorial was given regarding gun rights, an opinion would have to be given about gun control as well. Or if a pro-life argument was given, the pro-choice side had to have its side too.
Well, in 1988, all that changed. President Ronald Reagan allowed the Fairness Doctrine standard to expire in his final year in office. No input from Congress, no vote taken on the floor. Just a simple whisk of the pen, and any requirement for balance on the radio went out the window.
It was a few years before conservative pundits realized just how much power they had been handed. With religious radio having entire stations at its disposal, the conservative side of any argument already had a head start. Now it could begin to pummel the rural countryside - which still relied primarily on radio for all its news and information - with non-stop conservative propaganda. No equal time would ever be given to the other side again. From now on, all radio op-ed would be lopsided in the wrong direction.
Well, Reagan allowed this crap to happen with the mere flick of his pen. Obama can do the same. He can reinstate the Fairness Doctrine before he leaves office.
And for two glorious months, conservative talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh will have to have their illogic shredded by the superior economic arguments liberals have to offer.
Okay, Donald Trump, assuming the Electoral College ever allows him to take office, will reverse the executive order almost immediately. But he can't do so before the whole world takes notice of the Fairness Doctrine itself, and the importance of what it means.
I think it's well worth it.
I know, I know, the odds of Obama doing this are slim. Hell, during his time in office, he not only didn't bring the Fairness Doctrine back, he strengthened the hold conservatives have over the airwaves; just one more example of the concessions he gave to a Congress who wouldn't give him the respect they gave to their kitchen staff. But if he does do this, it will be one awesome final blow that he can give for truth, for fairness, and for journalistic integrity.
Please Barack? Please?
Requiring broadcasters to be fair shouldn't have to hang on the outcome of Jill Stein's recount efforts.
Sunday, November 20, 2016
When Schlitz Brewing Co. insulted Milwaukee by leaving the city in response to a workers' strike back in the 1970's, Milwaukee made its voice heard. The entire city boycotted the beer for good, and at the next Summerfest, the Schlitz tent was abandoned. The beer was a pariah, and no self-respecting Milwaukeean would touch it again.
Well, times have changed. Schlitz came back to Milwaukee in a sneaky way during the 90's when Latino immigrants began to populate the city's south side in greater numbers. Schlitz was marketed in clever billboards written in Spanish, and sold mostly in 20 ounce bottles. But now Schlitz belongs to the Pabst Brewing empire, and it's welcomed back in Milwaukee again. Well, if you're a college kid who just wants to get drunk on a Monday night, that is.
Now it's time to boycott a beer again. And this time, it's Miller. Yes, the last great Milwaukee brewery to avoid collapse has betrayed America. Pete Coors, the chairman of Miller Coors, not only endorsed Donald Trump, but held numerous fundraisers for him.
Milwaukee needs to send a resounding message that Brew Town will never accept that bullshit! And so, with that, I am now saying two words I never thought I would utter:
This means I am boycotting Miller Coors and all its products. And this is going to hurt! Because Miller Coors encompasses a lot of beverages I like!
Redd's Apple Ale
Henry's Hard Soda
Smith & Forge
Goodbye to them all.
That means I'll have to find different local breweries to support. Maybe one of the Pabst products will be to my liking. But there's also Lakefront Brewery, which makes Klisch pilsner beer. (And so far as I know, the Klisch brothers did not support Trump.) There's Angry Orchard, Woodchuck Hard Cider and Foxbarrel Pear Cider are pretty good. There's always Strongbow and Corona, but I still have a Milwaukee Brewery pride streak in me. Sprecher is therefore a good choice. They brew a hard Root Beer and a line of really tasty hard sodas. Randy Sprecher posts nothing political on his Facebook page and employs a lot of African-Americans, so I'm assuming that even if he voted for Trump, he at least wasn't a fundraising dick about it like Pete Coors was.
How pissed off does a Milwaukeean have to be in order to give up his favorite beer? The answer, of course, is unbelievably pissed off! You fundraised for Trump? You're out of my city as far as I'm concerned!
Who would have ever thought that the proper way to support Milwaukee business would be to shun Miller and drink Schlitz again! Next thing you know, the Cubs will have won the World Series, and the Packers would totally suck!
Trumpsters are doing their own share of boycotting. Due to a recent showing of Hamilton, the cast members decided to hit Mike Pence over the head with a dose of reality, and now Trump is demanding an apology, and Trump supporters are calling for a boycott. Good! More tickets for the rest of us! But there are other products Trump people are boycotting. Make sure to buy them!
For example, Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi remarked that Trump's victory made some people feel unsafe. Trumpets are now boycotting Pepsi. So drink Pepsi, everybody!
It is literally the drink of the next generation.
PepsiCo also owns Lays, Ruffles, Doritos and Mountain Dew. Netflix, Apple and Dreamworks are also targeted by pro-Trump people for boycott. How about a Netflix party? We'll watch How To Train Your Dragon!
For an assault on Washington.
Is this just one liberal desperately looking to lash out at anything he can for a travesty that embarrasses America? You bet your ass it is! But it's a way for me, and you too, to not take it lying down! You fucked America over? Well, I'll be damned if you get any of my money afterward!
More effective than protest marching, I think.
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Protesting? Good. You should be. This election is an even bigger wake-up call than the attacks of September 11, 2001. But let's make sure that the protests are done right, and most effectively. After all, protesting in front of a federal building or one of Trump's towers is one thing, but the people who need to hear our voices aren't there.
The people who need to hear us are out in the suburbs and the countryside.
What really got Donald Trump elected wasn't merely Hillary's shady past, or young people staying home. They aren't the real problem. The real problem is that 47.3% of people actually found it in their hearts to vote for an unqualified, bluntly racist, chauvinistic lunatic. That didn't happen because Bernie Sanders wasn't the candidate. It happened because they were all lied to! Someone told them it was okay to vote for him, and they actually believed it.
There is a disconnect between rural America and the truth. It's been happening for years, but there is a blackout curtain drawn across the deep suburban and farming landscape. Perhaps Tom Brokaw said it best when he pointed out that there seems to be a "wall of separation" between the media and rural America. He was talking about how the media misread the polls and the potential likelihood that Donald Trump might win, but if there's a disconnect between the media and the Heartland, it is also true that the Heartland is disconnected from real media. This blackout happened through the takeover of local airwaves and newspapers by major corporations such as ClearChannel and Newscorp, leaving almost no real local reporting in its place. Newspapers came to gradually rely on skeleton crews dedicated only to sports, business and the crime blotter, and little else. Radio stations came to preach nothing but right-wing hatred whenever they weren't covering a major sporting event or a major weather event.
And we let them get away with it.
Social media didn't help. Both sides unfriended people they couldn't agree with, and so the only Facebook friends left were the ones who agreed with us, thus lending the illusion among Trump supporters that everyone else accepted the guy, so why shouldn't we? It never, ever reached them how unspeakably immoral it was to vote for the son-of-a-bitch.
And so now we're protesting. Great, but why protest in Milwaukee? Or Chicago? Why protest where Hillary won? Take your protest out to the countryside! Protest where the red areas are! Protest in Waukesha! Protest in New Berlin! Protest in Oak Creek and Mequon!
Protest out to the farmland!
It's tempting to think that Trump's campaign swam upstream against a riptide of common sense. But if you look at the electoral map, you see that it's only the major population centers that went blue. That's great for the coasts and the Great Lakes transit hubs of Chicago and Milwaukee, but the farmland is untouched. Those are the areas that never hear Rachel Maddow or Bill Maher. They don't have access to MSNBC or even CNN. They don't have time for Stephen Colbert or Saturday Night Live.
So why should we be shocked when the only people who can be adequately informed about our elections are the ones who can afford cable television?
Out in the countryside, or in our nation's suburban workplaces, people stay informed by listening to the only source of news available in a handy way, and that's A.M. talk radio. Yes! Still! They can listen to it in the factories, while driving trucks or tractors, or working at home. Let's face it, even people like me who love NPR are bored to tears at times with its content. And so the A.M. radio outlet is the most convenient way to stay informed. It's not an outmoded media outlet yet!
And it's all right-wing hate, all the time. Over 91% of the talk radio format is ultra-conservative.
The genius of it all is the recognition that A.M. radio is still the number one means that rural Americans access to get and stay informed.
So here are the unbelievable assholes who you should be protesting! You know their names well!
We should be protesting in front of the Fox News building the most, angrily insisting upon equal time. The names above should be feeling our white-hot rage right now, and not kicking back in their comfy condos! Barack Obama didn't give us the fairness doctrine back, and in spite of my hopes that he will (future blog post on that), I don't expect him to. That means that WE have to be the new fairness doctrine, as perhaps we should have been from the very beginning.
Imagine all the billions of dollars that went into this year's election. Hillary out raised and out spent Trump by leaps and bounds, and yet it did little good, as television ads generally fail. That money was wasted! It would have been better spent buying up radio stations or building new ones, especially in the farm counties in both swing states and red states.
The idea was tried before, but not in a tactically smart way. Air America Radio was launched in the mid-2000's as a counter to right-wing hatred, but its format was merely satellite radio. This had the advantage of being an effective means of side-stepping ClearChannel, but it was also quite expensive. It went under after only a few years, but not before Al Franken and Jeanine Garofolo did great shows.
We can do this again, only better! There are already great talk shows which can be syndicated to local radio stations for free, thanks to the Internet, if only we bothered to buy or build the sticks to broadcast the signals. Jim Hightower is still around. So is Thom Hartmann. And it can be done relatively easily! A.M. radio stations are reasonably cheap. ClearChannel won't sell, so for the most part, we will have to build our own. But all we'll need is a patch of land, a shack, and some steel. These stations can be manned by a skeleton crew, and would-be hosts would do local shows for very small stipends. The trick is making sure they're good. They might prove their worth through podcasting beforehand, and there are more and more podcasts every year. There's a wealth of content! This year's elections prove that we have the money to do it too. Now all we need is the willpower.
It will take time to buy or build all the radio stations we will need. Ratings will be low at first. The brand name must be built up over many years. We'll have to be patient. But for once, the talk radio monopoly will be broken. Remember that conservatives have been blasting their shit for over three decades! That damage won't be undone overnight! A few will listen at first, and then many more. And those who don't listen will and should be met with protests and publicity stunts which descend down from the big cities into the rural countrysides. Imagine a Black Lives Matter rally at a State Fair! (Contrast this with the Wisconsin State Fair over the last several years, when the Democratic Party didn't even have a booth in the pavillion!) Or an anti-Trump flash mob at a rodeo! It can work!
THAT'S how we protest! We come down from our ivory towers and meet the rednecks where they live!
We've spent too much time focusing upon elections, and not enough on the electorate, while conservatives have zeroed in on the electorate like a laser-guided targeting system. That's what got Trump elected, and what led to over 60 million people being infected with the utter insanity of being pro-Trump!
So that's our mission! Go forth and win the red patches on the map! Turn them blue! Build radio stations! Bring in new talk-radio talent!
I want Waukesha!