Sunday, November 20, 2016

SOON, SOON FROM NOW IN A THEATRE NEAR, NEAR TO ME....


The election of America's first avowed neo-Nazi president is so appalling that I'm going to take a short detour from politics to discuss one of my great loves, movies, and the descent into silliness of one of it's great franchises, Star Wars.

Back in 1977 when the original Star Wars was released I resisted having anything to do with it. I have a prejudice against pop culture: if it's phenomenally popular it can't be that good. For every Dan Brown novel that confirms my bias there's some other phenomenon that confirms that my prejudice, like all other prejudices, is foolish at best and stupidly harmful at worst but it's my prejudice. It keeps me from reading whole libraries full of popular trash novels and every self-help fad book ever written though it's also kept me from reading J. R. R. Tolkiens novels too. In any case, I resisted the original Star Wars movie for about a year. Finally, my then wife and I took our two daughters to see it at a theatre in Saugus, Massachusetts which no longer exists and were charmed. It was a popcorn movie clearly derived from the movie serials of 40 years before but it had fine acting and an engaging story line. I and my girls were hooked. We've been back to see all the sequels including the three, sad prequels.

Starting with The Phantom Menace my fervent wish was that George Lucas would simply butt the hell out and turn the writing over to Lawrence Kasdan and the directing over to the late Irvin Kershner who made The Empire Strikes Back the best of the first three films. The miscasting of Jake Lloyd, who lacked the strangeness that would allow us to believe he could end up as Darth Vader, and Hayden Christiansen*, who lacks everything necessary to becoming Darth Vader including talent, made it clear that whatever vision Mr. Lucas had for his saga was greatly lacking. Yet it was possible to write even Jar-Jar Binks off as the exposition for a scene whose outcome we already knew.

A few years ago when we heard that J. J. Abrams would be directing the new Star Wars sequels I was less than thrilled. Abrams knows special effects and pacing he doesn't know acting and his directing, stripped of the CGI, is plodding at best. His script writing is only inventive in setting up each new show piece for the computer imaging people. The new series suffers terribly from Abrams' banality. Take as one, and perhaps the most glaring, example of Abrams' bad writing and incompetence in dealing with actors the brief scene in The Force Awakens between Carrie Fisher's Leya Organa and Harrison Ford's Han Solo. They were lovers, married and estranged parents of a child who has gone horribly wrong. They haven't seen each other in years. They get a minute or two of screen time, a smattering of expository dialogue and then the CGI begins again. Their relationship in all its complexity was one of the drivers that made the initial three movies engaging but they might have been ordering pizza for all the time and emotional baggage they get a chance to display. I think it's one indicator of bad things to come that Carrie Fisher's name is nowhere in the cast list of Rogue One. I don't presume to know why but if her role in The Force Awakens is any indication of the attention her character is given and I were Carrie Fisher, I'd go back to collecting residual checks from the earlier movies and stay as far from the new incarnations as possible.

That said let me take The Force Awakens as the prime example of bad writing and direction since that is the only Abrams film we have in full release for the dissection.

First, thirty years have passed since the only emperor that the Empire ever had was killed, Darth Vader died and the rebel alliance destroyed the second Death Star. So why are the rebel alliance and the Jedi not ruling a restored Republic and fighting the occasional clean-up action against the remaining adherents of the old Empire? Did all those people longing for the restoration of an Intergalactic democracy just go into suspended animation for 30 years only to wake up to a restored Empire? That's the first great, gaping hole in Abrams' shoddy narrative.

Now let's get on to the second great fault in this new narrative. As partial, if unspecific  explanation for the resurgent Empire we have the deus ex machina, Supreme Leader Snoke (whose name always recalls for me William Faulkner's social climbing Snopes family of Yoknapatawpha County though I doubt any actual connection). Snoke we are supposed to infer is the Ur-Sith, the master who trained the Emperor, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, to become Darth Sidious. Unfortunately, Abrams leaves all that to audience inference and doesn't set up the background for Snope's appearance. Yes, I know that there are oblique references to another Sith master in earlier movies but they come in the more recent prequels and have no canonical origin in the first three films ending with Return of the Jedi. I don't mind the introduction of Snoke per se. He's a kind of anti-Yoda, but it's just plain lazy writing not to give us some set up and back story.

Speaking of story and laziness, let's acknowledge right here that Abrams cribbed the entire structure of The Force Awakens from the original Star Wars film. We have an abandoned child grown to adulthood who finds a good father figure who is ultimately killed by his, in this case actual instead of surrogate, son. A few details change along the way but The Force Awakens story line is so obvious and predictable that there is not single midi-chlorian of surprise when Kylo Ren murders Han Solo.

So we have a recycled story line, a poorly conceived and described major character who comes out of nowhere and a narrative line that has circled back on itself because the director and principle writer hasn't enough imagination for both big CGI set pieces and cogent writing. That's three strikes but this is not basball. There are more.

As the fourth glaring and utterly stupid fault, I give you Death Star Redux. It's bigger, meaner and that's supposed to make us think it's new as opposed to something actually recycled. The original Death Star was described as "a small moon". The new Death Star is planet sized. It sucks its energy out of nearby stars.

Can we get to elementary physics for a moment? We know of star systems that have one and two stars. We also know that it is not a trip to the corner 7-11 Store to get to the next star from any given solar system. So, even if we don't consider any of the other glaring improbabilities and impossibilities of this new Death Star when it sucks all the power from the nearest star that action will kill the entire solar system around that star. The solar system dies in the starless icy grip of space unless it's a binary system which will die a lot slower because it still has one star where its life forms are predicated on two. So what's the point? The point is that once the Death Star kills the nearby star to power itself, there's no need for the beam that explodes planets, Every planet in that solar system is now dead or dying. Mission accomplished, to borrow a lie used by another incompetent at his job.

However, that is just one of the idiotic problems with Death Star Redux. It's now planet sized. Consider please the amount of energy that would be required to move that large an object at a leisurely walking pace through space. Let's suppose that it's built in orbit around some star that it's going to gobble up one day. The gravitational forces keep it circling its star without any motors but the moment the Empire wants to move it to some new area it's going to need massive amounts of energy just to break out of orbit and keep moving through space at that slow walking pace. When it need to get to the next star system some dozens or hundreds of light years, it's going to be several thousands of years before it can threaten its next planet. Maybe Kylo Ren's thirty-second great-grandchild, still committed to the family business of planet destruction might come within range of its target which might by then be a friendly planet. Alternatively, let's suppose that the Death Star Redux could move at warp speed. Can we even imagine the number of sucked-up suns that it would require to move it that fast or the amount of heating that would occur on the surface of so large an object at speeds faster than light? The fact is that the Empire would be better served by building many smaller Death Stars than by building one humongous one. Just as a tank is more mobile than a fortress and a soldier more mobile than a tank, bigger and bigger Death Stars are nonsense.

Not only that but consider also the fact that so large an object would exert its own gravitational forces on everything around it. As it moved through space at any speed it would dislodge planets and moons from their orbits. In short, the Empire's science team are either idiots or con men boondoggling the Empire into buying self-defeating mega-hardware. Where have I heard that before and wasn't "Star Wars" attached to that con game?

Also, before we depart the theme of physics entirely, let us consider Newton's Third Law of Motion. If for every exertion of force upon an object there is an equal and opposite reaction, when the Death Star fires at a planet it is going to get kicked backward substantially. Maybe that's how the Empire expects to bounce the Death Star from solar system to solar system? I don't think so. Once again, the larger the Death Star the more problems in elementary physics it must solve and the less likely it is to be built.

So the lazy, unimaginative Mr. Abrams has stuck himself with a rehashed series of scripts and plot elements that make less sense than Donald Trump's promises and trickle down economics combined. Worse yet we are falling into the crass hole of the last two Harry Potter movies: Harry Potter and the Increased Ticket Sales I & II. The coming Rogue One is an interleaf in the Star Wars saga. It is Episode III.5, the story of the theft of the Death Star plans that Princess Leia feeds into R2D2 at the beginning of the 1977 movie. Other than the people getting fat off of box office receipts, who the hell cares? We know that Count Dooku sent the plans onward to General Grievous at the end of Episode II: Attack of the Clones and that those plans have survived to create the Death Star in the 1977 movie. The only reason that we need to see the machinations between Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars is that some of those involved need more cash. I don't begrudge James Earl Jones, the wonderful and much under-rated Warwick Davis or Jimmy Smits a penny. Hell, I don't begrudge any actors their paychecks. I do begrudge Disney every penny of profit and whatever cash the undeserving Mr. Abrams cons us out of.

Even as I make plans to see the coming Rogue One my heart sinks and I wish for a different director, writer and outcome. With a whole universe of problems to consider and a new generation of adults to confront or create them Mr. Abrams has chosen to feed his audience the meal they've eaten before jazzed up with some spicy CGI or, in this case, a meal that no one ever ordered. It's as if we'd come to a familiar mid-priced yet with pretensions to up-scale restaurant and have been told that we can order anything on the menu. We will be charged full price but we will only get the sorbet and salad from between courses and had better like it. Mr. Abrams taken us nowhere that we haven't been before, nowhere we asked to go while tossing some glitter in the air and hoping it distracts us from the fact that we've been on this ride before at lower cost and with better direction.

Ultimately, I have enjoyed the Star Wars saga though less and less so since 1983. This franchise is in serious danger of dying from lack of character rather than lack of energy. Fans are fans and will keep buying tickets regardless of the watered small beer and pablum fed them. Then there are those like me who can enjoy a good story with a coherent mythology told engagingly. Just as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull killed the Indiana Jones franchise despite the best efforts of Harrison Ford, John Hurt, Karen Allen and, above all, Cate Blanchette (the less said about Shia LaBeouf the better) we are verging on the point where Star Wars may well explode like a sabotaged Death Star and fade away forever without realizing its best potential. That would be sad. One more interleaf movie designed to con money out of my pocket and I will do what I do with most superhero films: wait until they appear on cable television and watch as much of them as I can stand before I change channels in disgust.

Finally, having distracted myself from politics briefly I would like to point out that I feel today that I may have been too harsh on the fact that the rebel alliance is fighting the Empire 30 years after its defeat. Seventy-five years ago we in America went to war against Fascism in Germany, Italy and Japan. By the time Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo were thirty years behind us we had spent a decade between 1945 and 1955 fighting McCarthyist Fascism at home, succumbed to the neo-Fascism of Nixon and Reagan and now, thirty years after Reagan and Poppy Bush, we have elected a true neo-Nazi as president. We have taken the people who made the mess, impoverished the middle class and shipped jobs overseas and decided, exactly as the Germans in 1932 did, that the people who intentionally created the mess are the ones to clean it up. Now it's the obligation of all of us to destroy the Death Star. I wish us all luck.

* In Return of the Jedi Alec Guinness' spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi tells Mark Hamill's Luke that his father, Anakin "Is more machine now than man." When the healed and reconstructed Darth Vader rises, Frankenstein monster-like, at the end of Revenge of the Sith, he is far less mechanical than Hayden Christainsen at any point in either of the movies in which he appeared.

Friday, November 11, 2016

DEAR HILLARY AND MY FELLOW DEMOCRATS


Oh, Hillary, I am beyond sorry that you are not going to be the 45th President of the United States. I supported you. I voted for you. I also knew that you were a hair's breadth from losing right from the start. It never mattered that you are unquestionably the most deserving, accomplished and capable person who ran for president in 2016. In fact, those positive factors worked against you.

Sure, I got all the positive poll results from the Daily Kos and other lefty sites and the optimistic projections of your route to victory. Even as I read them hopefully I suspected that I was stuck in a left wing echo chamber that wasn't hearing anything from the outside. I like to know what those on my side of an issue are thinking but listening only to them is no more useful or valid than the neo-Fascist spew for the likes of Rash Lamebrain's ditto heads.

The fact is that we proved in 2008 that you were never going to win the White House. When Barack Obama came out of the Senate with minimal national experience and beat you, he beat you for the same reasons that Donald J. Trump (it sickens me to write his name!) beat you: you are the past. You are carrying too much baggage, both your own and, unwillingly, Bill's, and you are not the kind of easy, comfortable, warm person in public that Bill or Barack always are.

I have followed Bernie Sanders' career since he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont. Bernie is a good man who fulfilled the very useful function of pulling you ever so slightly to the left of wishy-washy centre that you prefer to occupy. Even so I was never a Bernie supporter. He was never going to be president. For well over a century we in the United States have equated the term, "socialism" with all that's evil and antithetical to American democracy. It's a bum rap. Worse yet the neo-Fascists who make up the Republiscum Party have promoted the nonsense that because the Nazis, the German Nationalische Socialistiche Partei of Adolph Hitler, had "socialist" in their name they were a left wing party. No one with a decent grounding in history could possibly believe that but "decent grounding" is something that less than half our population has. Regardless of whether socialism is associated in many minds with communism or fascism, that term, weighted unjustly with the unimaginable heavy millstone of popular misconception, was going to drag Bernie down to defeat in any general election even if we ignore the fact that, for all his energy and mental acuity, Bernie was just too old. Those Bernie or Busters, the idiots whose choices were Bernie or Trump, or, worse, those who abandoned you for the shibboleth of the seemingly more ideologically pure Jill Stein or (please!) Gary Johnson were no better than the Trump mobs shouting "Lock her up!" The right wing does not have a monopoly on ignorance, stupidity or mindless fanaticism. Trust me on that one. I live in Washington State. I know where of I write first hand. Here in Washington we never miss an opportunity to kill the good because it is not the perfect.

Let me stop at this point to say I don't give a damn about the help that you got from the national Democratic Party leadership. I still respect Debbie Wasserman-Shultz and Donna Brazile. Sure they got exposed for having their thumbs on the scales at various points but Bernie was going to lose and you were smart enough to answer the questions yourself regardless of anything fed to you surreptitiously. 

Nor were Lincoln Chaffee, Martin O'Malley or James Webb going to be president. None of them had the name recognition you had nor did they have the exciting personalities that Barack or Bernie have.

No, Hillary, the Republiscum had nearly 30 years to demonize you and you had all that time bolstering yourself against attack after attack to the point that you and your ego simply couldn't or wouldn't understand that nothing was going to keep you from losing this election. You looked in the mirror and rightly saw a woman who should be president. You saw a woman that the actual, existing, real and pernicious "vast right-wing conspiracy" insisted on putting down and told yourself that you were going to shove that back down their obscene, croaking throats. What you and many, many women failed to see was that you had already proved them wrong repeatedly and needed to step aside for the good of the nation.

I don't mean to lay all the fault on you. The Republiscum recognized early on that you were a force to be reckoned with and they have been tearing you down since 1992. The Whitewater/Vince Foster/Monica investigations were, as you rightly observed, a function of a "vast right wing conspiracy" to delegitimize any Democrat and you especially. Part of the reason that the Republiscum failed in the 2008 election was that they'd geared up to run against you and couldn't believe that they were running against Obama. No matter. They have continued to attack you in every way and at every opportunity. The farragoes of Benghazi and your private e-mail server are simply targets of opportunity. If they hadn't happened, they would have conjured up something else. The fact that you're better than anybody the Republiscum have run since Theodore Roosevelt made not a jot of difference.

Now, Hillary, excuse me a moment while I speak to my political party.

So, Democrats, would you, please, work on your backfield? As much as I love her as a great woman and a great political figure, Elizabeth Warren is 11 days older than I am. In 2020 she will be 71 years old. My baby boom generation is passing into history. There are still lots of us around and willing to vote for the kind of progressives who were our friends in the 1960s but we need leaders from a new generation. Corey Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, the Castro brothers and other leaders in their 40s and early 50s are those to whom we should be looking for 2020. If there's a dearth of solid Democrats from that age group then, I ask you, whose fault is that? It's not Hillary's. It's not Obama's. It's the fault of out party, a fault infinitely more serious than anything revealed in any e-mail hack. My fellow Democrats, the person who can win the 2020 presidential election is someone from my children's generation. Someone born between 1965 and 1980 and wise enough to know that the corporate spokes-clown, Ronald McReagan, was not a great president despite all the Republiscum hagiography.

That said, 2020 is a long way away. In the interim we need to get through the 2018 elections and stymie the worst excesses of the Trump presidency. I understand that it's rhetorically correct to speak of insuring that we have a smooth and peaceful transition of presidential power but let's not carry that too far. For the last 25 years the Republiscum have been pursuing a policy cribbed from the Nazis. They have been stonewalling every piece of legislation, big and small, and then blaming Democrats when the legislation is "not bipartisan". The primary example is the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care).

We have conveniently forgotten that in 2009 the Democrats had a majority in both houses of Congress for exactly 6 weeks. The Republiscum kept Al Franken from taking his seat as Senator from Minnesota unto July 2, 2009 and 6 weeks later Ted Kennedy died. During that time the nominal Democratic majority included Joe Libermann of Connecticut who caucused with John McCain and Lindsay Graham. Obama Care got adopted wholesale from the Heritage Foundation plan put forward as a counter to the medical insurance plan Hillary Clinton developed with a coalition of advocates in 1993-94 and which Mitt Romney championed in Massachusetts while he was governor. It was a Republiscum plan from the start. Yet when the Democrats said, "O. k. Let's take this, make it work a bit better and make it a national plan, the Republiscum instantly demonized it. They also enforced a steely rigid party loyalty on all Republiscum senators so much so that when Olympia Snowe of Maine voted to pass the bill out of committee, she was the subject of infra-party retaliation. In fact the Republiscum hypocrisy was so egregious  Snowe, then the senior Maine senator, decided to retire from the Senate rather than continue in a body operated in that way. Of course, ever since the Republiscum have claimed long and loudly that the Affordable Care Act was passed without and Republiscum support. It was passed without a single Republiscum vote because the Republiscum leadership, Mitch McConnell in particular, informed his fellow senators that they would lose committee assignments and have farther right primary opponents if they voted for the legislation. The Republiscum forced some of the members of their caucus to vote against the Affordable Care Act and provision of medical insurance to millions of Americans simply because it would give a Democratic president a victory.

We Democrats are Liberals. In that Liberal tradition we see many sides of each question. We strive to see what may be good even in opposing positions. We empathize with both friends and opponents. Because it is our nature we have spent 25 years proverbially bringing a knife to a gunfight. We need to stop that shit. We need to bring a gun and when the Republiscum increase the caliber, we need to bring a cannon. Enough of this namby-pamby, kumbaya bullshit. We need to fight fire with napalm. The Republiscum have held up Merrick Garland's nomination. We need to hold up every neo-Fascist scumbag that Trump nominates to anything. We need to investigate and indict every Republiscum foolish enough to stick his head above ground. We need Chris Christie's head on a pike and Trump's as well. We need to make the Benghazi farrago look like a pleasant ladies' tea and indite, indite, indite! The Republiscum have been fighting a war against Democrats for a quarter of a century while we have been insisting that we are simply being political adversaries who can sit down over drinks at the end of the day. BULLSHIT!!!!

When Donald Trump spouted crap about "crooked Hillary" he was unquestionably the most corrupt person in the race. We need to expose that. Trump's crimes are certainly worse and more deserving of impeachment than any stain on any blue dress ever was. Barack Obama may graciously say that we want Trump to succeed because his success is the nation's success. That's fine for Barack to say. We need to make sure that Trump fails and fails, to borrow an ignoramus' phrase, "bigly". And we need to go after the jugular of every Republiscum who is even slightly vulnerable, high and low.

And, with apologies to the wonderful Michelle Obama, when they go low, no more of this "go high" bullshit. We need to go low or lower. We need to criminalize, demonize and destroy without mercy or a shred of decency. We need to be so effective in destroying Republiscum office holders that they, in an ironic twist to Gloucester's affirmation in King Lear, "cry out itself, Enough! Enough! and die." We simply cannot stand in the field before an army committed to a take-no-prisoners, scorched-earth policy and pretend that the force of our decency and ideas matter at all. Frankly, our fellows in the electorate have definitively demonstrated that they don't give a damn for ideas, ours or anyone else's. To insist on anything else is madness.

Trump has sown the seeds of his own destruction. He has promised to bring back jobs that no longer exist, to build walls that we can't afford nor ever intended to build, to revive industries that members of Trump's country clubs packed off to Asia a decade and more ago. When nothing comes of his empty promises the people fooled into voting for him will abandon him and their cynicism will deepen. If we feel that they were angry this year, they will be angrier in 2018 and 2020. The winners in those elections will be the people who have vented that anger by destroying those con men, like Trump, who have tricked them. We need to be the mean bastards tossing those angry voters all the red meat they can handle.

One other thing: let's stop the agitation against the Electoral College. Yes, it has subverted the popular vote twice in 16 years but that's not the fault of the Electoral College. And While we are at it, let's stop the pissing and moaning about Gerrymandering of Congressional Districts. The real issue is the fact that the House of Representatives has not increased in numbers since 1927. The Constitution mandates 2 senators for each state but representatives are supposed to be apportioned by population. In 1927 when the House became a 435 member body the United States had a population of 119,035,000 people or roughly 273,644 people per district. As of 2010 the United States has a population of 310,323,863 or a 261% increase over 1927 and placing about 713,179 persons within each Congressional District. We do not need a 261% increase in the number of Congresspersons. The number of Louis Gohmerts, Michelle Bachmanns, Anthony Wieners and Steve Kings is already excessive but retaining the 1927 distribution of Representatives does several things that subvert our democracy. First, the larger the population of the district, the farther from the individual people of that district each Representative becomes. Representatives only listen to the loudest voices and, usually, the ones that are most likely to offer the greatest amount of cash. The 1927 distribution of Representatives also cements a tilt toward rural America that has not existed since the end of World War II over 70 years ago.

The Constitution mandates that each state must have at least 1 Representative. The two states with the smallest population are Rhode Island and Wyoming. If we were to apportion based on the district with the least population (+/- 10%) we would be basing Congressional District apportionment on one of those states, probably Wyoming. That would give urban America a larger number of Representatives or a House of Representatives of about 550 members, an increase of 135. Rural America would not lose representation. In fact it would gain a few Representatives. However, urban America would gain significantly - as the framers of the Constitution intended, it should be noted - to reflect the 21st Century distribution of the population in the country. A 650 member Electoral College might still elect a know-nothing demagogue like Donald Trump but the way to that election would be harder if rural America's disproportionately high influence were leveled with that of urban America. It would also be marginally harder to Gerrymander districts in the extreme ways we see today.

So let's stop railing against something that is simply a symptom of the antiquated distribution of the number of Congressional seats and focus on the real problem which is reapportioning the House based on current numbers rather than on population numbers now 90 years out of date.

I have other ideas for elections. If we are to pass a Constitutional Amendment to overturn the wrongly decided Citizens United Supreme Court decision, let's reform the election system completely while we're at it. No, corporations are absolutely not persons for campaign contribution purposes. Further, let's prohibit candidates for Representative, Senator and President from announcing a run for office, campaigning or raising campaign funds before January 1st in any given Federal election year. Let's mandate that all primary elections must be held no earlier than January 20 of the year in which the Federal election takes place and no layer than June 15th of that year. And, while we're at it, since the public airwaves belong to the people and not to the radio and television station owners, require that during the campaign periods all broadcasters must air 2 full minutes of free political candidate advertising per hour. One 2 minute ad or 8 - 15 second ads are equally valid but any candidate who wants time and whose name is on the actual ballot may receive air time in 15 second increments. They can sell any other advertising they please but 2 minutes per hour isn't a great burden for the privilege of making money hand over fist for the remaining 58 minutes in that hour.

So, Hillary, you did your best. You won the popular vote. Now take you considerable influence and skills down to the local level. Start assisting and funding new, young candidates. Don't just tell those disappointed and dispirited girls out in the nether that they could be president one day, go out and find the next Hillary Rodham, the next Barbara Boxer, the next Elizabeth Warren. Find her. Find them. Nurture them. Fund them and set them on the path to the White House as the second, third and fourth women to be U. S. President.

And, Democrats, help Hillary find those women and men who will be our Presidents, Senators, Congresspersons and Jurists for the future all the while viciously, remorselessly destroying the Republiscum at every turn and opportunity.

The mantra I have used for a couple if decades now is paraphrased from a horrible, racist remark by General Phillip Sheridan: "The only good Republican is a dead Republican." Pete McClosky and William Ruckleshaus not withstanding there are lots of good Republicans but they are all dead: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Elihu Root, Margaret Chase Smith, Millicent Fenwick, Elliot Richardson all lie a long time "moldering in the grave". There are quite a few above ground who are charming and personable but that matters nought. They are Republiscum and need to be rooted out and condemned to an outer political darkness so that their fellows learn, for a few more decades at least, that we can be as vicious as they have been and more so.

I doubt that you're listening. I'm sure that most will recoil in horror from my prescription with a high-minded, "O! We could never do that! We're better than they are!" Fine! Don't drink the medicine and watch the long slide into Fascism that resumed after World War II continue, gain momentum and destroy the nation that my children and grandchildren will have to live in into the next century.

Just remember, I told you so.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

HYP-HYP-HYPOCRISY 2016 EDITION

The big news a few months ago was that George Will, the shill for neo-Fascism who inherited William F. Buckley's "speak softly but carry a big swastika" philosophy and mantle, left the Republiscum Party because it was no longer his party. The fact is that the current Donald Trump manifestation of Republiscum politics is the quintessence and apotheosis of the party that Will and his less restrained fellows like Glenn Beck and Rash Lamebrain have been building for half a century.

There is really not a lot of daylight between the Buckley/Will genteel-right wing position and the howling mob of "alt-right" "deplorables" who follow Donald Trump. When Buckley with his Ivy League resume and urbane, polished, upper-class facade established the National Review in 1955 the ultra-right was coming off several of important losses.

The 1952 Republiscum Convention rejected both Thomas Dewey and Robert Taft to hitch its fortunes to Dwight Eisenhower. Dewey was what passed for a right wing moderate and Taft was the true right winger. Eisenhower was the war hero who could actually win. As usual for the Republiscum Party, having actual power trumped (you should excuse the expression) ideological purity. True, they did foist off onto Eisenhower the amoral, careerist, hard right wing Nixon as vice-president but for the Republiscum everything is fungible when it comes to winning an election. So the Republiscum right wing had one loss.

The next loss was the failure of Joe McCarthy and the growing realization that the anti-communist witch hunts were more destructive to their cause than constructive. As with any politically motivated fear mongering "McCarthyism" not only had run its course but, like the Clinton impeachment forty years later, it was dragging the Republiscum down with it. Screaming about commies under every bed was proving wrong. Even the rubes who initially thought they saw Stalin staring back at them from among the under-bed dust bunnies began to see that there was nothing there. That was the Republiscum's second loss.

The third loss was mostly a quandry. When the Supreme Court, newly headed by a reliably Republican former governor, Earl Warren of California, overturned segregation in schools in 1954 the Republiscum found themselves in a pickle. Yes, they were the "Party of Lincoln". Yes, they had freed the slaves. Yes, they had had reliable support from a majority of African-Americans for nearly a century but the black constituency wasn't of any significance to them.  The Republiscum had actually abandoned African-Americans in order to win the 1876 election for party hack, Rutherford B. Hayes. The elitist, plutocratic and oligarchic Republiscum Party just wanted the votes of "happy darkies". They had no desire to have those people actually asserting their inherent rights as citizens. The Republiscum Party sold out the African-American population in order to secure the presidency eighty years before and hadn't looked back. Faced with "uppity n*****s" the Republiscum Party took the easy option and decided to punt. They would ignore Brown v. The Board of Education and hope no one noticed. The loss was looming in 1955.

Into this environment stepped William F. Buckley with some very practical ideas. The most important was that Republiscum should never, ever, under any circumstances say what they actually thought. Sure, for example, they could oppose Social Security and want to destroy it but the program was so popular that they couldn't take it head on. The Republiscum needed to propose "free enterprise, market-based alternatives" to Social Security. Sure those alternatives would destroy the system. Yet knocking the pillars out from under the program would allow it to collapse and also allow the Republiscum to be watching from a distance rather than crushed under the rubble.

In the early 1970s George Will was a regular on the news round table show Agronsky and Company. In his capacity as the National Review spokesperson on the panel Will seemed reasonable in 1973-74 when he got behind removing Richard Nixon from office. Will's abandonment of Nixon was clearly right-wing damage control. The idea was to rid the party of the criminal Nixon to make way for the corporate shill, Ronald Reagan. Will went so far as to be one of Reagan's debate stand ins and must have been well aware of Reagan's progressive descent into Alzheimer's dementia.

So Spare me the phony self-righteousness of the "never Trump" Republiscum. They are the arsonists who run out of the building they've just set afire into the arms of the fire crew breathlessly gasping, "I barely got out alive!"

But the real prize in this 2016 election goes to the "religious right". I do so adore the CHRISTIAN fundamentalists. They are such a source of fun and unintended comedy. The fact is that the CHRISTIAN fundamentalist movement has always been a political movement cloaked in religion for tax purposes and to con the yokels. Pat Robertson, the Fallwells, James Dobson, Bob Jones, Paul Weyrich, everyone from the Southern Baptist Convention on the far right to the Westboro Baptists on the bat-shit crazy extreme right, like to cloak themselves in a gauzy-thin shroud of religion while being a political movement at heart. Gotta love that tax exemption and all the rubes you can con in the name of their (thank you, George Carlin) Big Imaginary Friend in the Sky.

Nowhere has the gauzy shroud worn so thin as in the endorsement of Donald Trump for president. For a bunch of self-proclaimed leaders of high moral standing to endorse Trump, the multiple-divorcing, multiple-marrying, casino-owning, creditor-evading, Putin-loving, pussy-grabbing, con-artist is absolutely hilarious. When these oh-so-upright far right-wingers say that they have looked into Donald Trump's black heart and found a true Christian one cannot help but fall down laughing. It gets even funnier when they declaim from their respective pulpits the excuse that Trump may be all the vile things he manifestly is but that "the lord works in mysterious ways his wonders to preform" thus making their manifestly political choise a stinking, flaming turd directly from heaven. The only things that Donald Trump has in common with the Robertson, Fallwell, Dobson, Jones, Weyrich crew is self-promotion, cynical exploitation of people's hopes and the big con. Oh! And, I almost forgot, an unwillingness to pay taxes.

Despite the farrago that these religiose con-artists promote of the United States as a Christian nation, our country was founded firmly on the concept of separation of church and state. Our concept of what that means has changed over time with the diversity of our population and of religious experience but the fact is that our nation's founders had seen quite enough of religious wars in Europe, persecution of non-conforming sects and taxation to maintain official religious institutions. They were forging a nation out of the Roman Catholics of Maryland, the Quakers of Pennsylvania, the reformers of Rhode Island, the Puritan Congregationalists of New England, the Dutch Reformed of New York and the mix of Episcopalians, Presbyterians and  Baptists in the South. Throw in some deists like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, multiple Jewish congregations salted around the states and the framers of the Constitution hadn't much choice but to separate church and state because it was impossible to assign a state church from amongst the many. 

And for those of you unsophisticated or simply stupid enough to think that "Christian" is one religion, just try to get a dozen Christians of different churches to agree on the "filioque" in the Nicene Creed. You have the Bob Jones fanatics claiming that they are not "protestants" because they were never Roman Catholics. You see those Baptist fanatics insist that they were pure Christians going back directly to the disciples, unadulterated by any other heresy. That claim is the kind of patent nonsense we used to see in the Weekly World News at the supermarket checkout counter but just see how well it flies when some Bob Jones nutcase tries to claim that all "Christains" are one in an ecumenical group.

No, the mask is off of the CHRISTIANS. They are no more a religious movement than some child wearing a sheet with eye holes cut in it on Halloween is really a ghost. They are and ultra-right wing coalition of fanatics who are stupid or crazy or both enough to believe anything that some preacher claims came out of the Bible.

Yes, this election has shown us the true nature of the Republiscum and the "religious right". It's brought them into their true context as in bed with the Ku Klux Klan, White Supremacists, neo-Nazis and other assorted lunatic fringe groups for a last stand. We can only hope that, come November 9, 2016 we have a new dawn and that this Trump election will prove to be for the Republiscum what the Little Big Horn was for Custer and Waterloo was for Napoleon's Old Guard. Either that or we will look back on 2016 as the equivalent of the 1932 election in Germany, those of us left to look back at all.