Saturday, July 23, 2016

A Moment with Grammy


Warning - Green Day


The Warning



“History repeats itself, especially when you ignore it.”

I watched some of Donald Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention a few nights ago. I could only watch some of it – not even half, to be precise – because my shouting at the television alarmed my 11-year-old daughter and our two five-year-old Maltese pups.

The man lies. He lies and omits and misleads and spins and uses platitudes and pandering to fire up his audiences, to induce pro-American, pro-Christian sentiments and divide people into acceptable and unacceptable groups, Americans vs. Muslims, Christians vs. the Godless, the Good Guys vs. the Bad Guys. He oversimplifies complex issues and pledges to “fix this” and “stop that” and “make America great again” although he offers no specifics and isn’t asked to, either by the stooges and cretins in his audience or the fawning media who report his every belch and fart as if it’s earth-shattering information that school kids will one day study.

Our corporate media outlets are fine with elevating this obnoxious bigot, this ugly, arrogant, unlikable, disingenuous, name-calling twit who shouldn’t be given the time of day, let alone 24-hour coverage and the trumpeting of each and every piece of garbage that spews from his mouth, to the level of serious presidential contender, the nominee of the Grand Old Party who deserves millions of votes and massive support because…well, he tells it like it is, man. He’s the real deal. He’s bombastic and nauseating and about as likable as the guy who intentionally drives through a puddle when you’re riding your bike and sprays you with what seems like gallons of cold, dirty rainwater but he’s rich and white and a businessman so he must know what he’s talking about. And he’s an outsider so he’ll shake things up and make things better. Whatever that means.

Courtesy Telegraph
If you’re looking for proof that your reality is decided not by facts and truth but by what the Powers That Be want you to think and feel, you have it now. In this campaign season, candidacies are buried and propelled, votes are miscounted or discarded, Facebook friends are blocked and unfriended, and faceless corporations and greedy multi-millionaires determine who will survive, advance, receive media coverage and do their bidding once the voters have been snowed and the polling places have gone dark. We’re told what we see, we’re told what to think, we’re told who does and doesn’t have a chance and then we’re distracted by trivia and pablum. That’s how Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders even though he drew thousands to his rallies while she drew hundreds. (If one more person insists that “Clinton won fair and square,” I can’t be held responsible for my actions.) That’s how 32 million viewers ended up watching a cocky, orange, fact-challenged demagogue last Thursday night instead of someone with actual intellect, someone with real plans and strategies who doesn’t need to rely on family, friends and Tier Three celebrities – washed-up actor Scott Baio, the Duck Dynasty dude and underwear model Antonio Sabato, Jr. among them – to convince us that he isn’t such a bad guy after all. The narrative for a while now has been “Trump’s gonna surprise everybody and take this thing” and “Clinton’s gonna bury Sanders and come out on top no matter what.”

Yes, some media are reporting the truth and some pundits and politicians are expressing disdain that Trump has ascended to the extent that he has but a case can be made that this is the exception and not the norm. And there is cause for concern beyond the fact that Trump is a liar and a fraud. He got more votes in a Republican nominating convention than anyone else on record. Over 14 million people voted for him in the Republican primaries. He polled nearly even with Clinton following last Thursday’s speech. And her numbers have been dropping of late.

Think none of this relates to perceptions being shaped and altered by external forces? Think again. I’m no tin foil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist; I’m just a longtime political observer who thinks for myself. (By the way, interesting tidbit: Clinton got more votes when she lost in 2008 than she got this year when she won.)

Fact-checkers immediately disputed most of what Trump insisted from the podium in Cleveland but it didn’t matter because this election isn’t about real numbers and statistics and problems. It’s about image and fear and outrage and selfishness and ignorance. The speech was inflammatory and ridiculous, with nonsensical hyperbole, hollow promises and enough pandering to impress even the most conniving politician.

Referring to 21-year-old Sarah Root, who was killed in a car crash involving an undocumented immigrant early this year, Trump said, “I’ve met Sarah’s beautiful family. But to this Administration, their amazing daughter was just one more American life that wasn’t worth protecting. One more child to sacrifice on the altar of open borders. What about our economy?”

He blamed Secretary of State Clinton for Bush Administration mistakes that set the stage for the current unrest in several hotspots, saying, “Let’s review the record. In 2009, pre-Hillary, ISIS was not even on the map. Libya was cooperating. Egypt was peaceful. Iraq was seeing a reduction in violence. Iran was being choked by sanctions. Syria was under control. After four years of Hillary Clinton, what do we have? ISIS has spread across the region, and the world. Libya is in ruins, and our Ambassador and his staff were left helpless to die at the hands of savage killers. Egypt was turned over to the radical Muslim brotherhood, forcing the military to retake control. Iraq is in chaos.”

Nope. No inflammatory hyperbole there.

He said a bunch of other empty, stupid or nasty stuff:

“This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction and weakness.”

“Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.”

“I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves.”

“Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”

“When I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order our country.”

Perhaps my favorite incongruity was when he said this: “Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBT community. As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.”

Because we know how hard the GOP fights for the rights and safety of LGBT individuals.

I have to stop writing about the speech now because I’m starting to alarm my dogs and daughter again.

Click here for a transcript of the speech. Click here to read, “Factchecking Trump’s big speech.” And click here to read, “Donald Trump speech fact-checked; results prove little to no truth from start to finish.”

As the following meme that’s been circulating in social media conveys, bad things don’t start with their climax. They start with seemingly innocuous actions and unchallenged accusations that are advanced, expanded, exposed and built upon, used to scare the masses and whip us into a frenzy, to get us to turn on each other while we ignore the warning signs along the way.


Here’s a similar one:



Think it’s wrong of me to equate Donald Trump with Adolph Hitler? Hey, I’m just telling it like it is.

Consider yourself warned.



Sources: Hollywood Reporter, Politico.com, Google Images, Washington Post, Telegraph, Reuters, Factcheck.org.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Say "Seed"



Denmark - Portland Cello Project


More Powerful than a Locomotive




Some people just won’t give up.

This includes people who identify as Progressives, Democratic Socialists, Liberals, Democrats, Independents (and even Republicans) and are dissatisfied with – or downright disturbed by – the selection of Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Democratic Party’s “presumptive nominee” for president.

I added quotation marks to “presumptive nominee” because many folks object to the fact that this title was bestowed upon Clinton before she actually secured the number of delegates – 2,383 – needed to earn it.

Clinton emerged from the primary process with just 2,205 pledged delegates; it’s only when the 602 superdelegates who’ve indicated that they support her are factored in that she exceeds the magic number. And superdelegates – who can say they’ll vote for whomever they want and can change their minds as often as they want – don’t actually vote until next week’s Democratic Party convention in the City of Brotherly Love.

Yes, Clinton’s numbers are higher than Bernie Sanders going into the convention. (He has just 1,806 pledged delegates and 48 superdelegates in his corner.) But lots of Sanders fans complain about how the pledged delegates were allocated; in some states where Sanders won, Clinton still left town with a stuffed piggy bank.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Sanders expressed frustration that Mrs. Clinton had won superdelegates even in states where he won the primary. In Washington State, where he won almost 73 percent of the vote, Mrs. Clinton has 10 superdelegates while he has none. In Colorado, Mr. Sanders won 59 percent of the vote, but again Mrs. Clinton has 10 superdelegates from that state and he has none. Sanders aides handed out a list showing similar situations in states like New Hampshire, Kansas and Maine where he won more votes but has fewer superdelegates than his rival.

Sanders supporters also point to voting irregularities and party machinations that the media have neglected to report or investigate as justification for their refusal to fall in line behind Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and work for HRC. (Yes, some say Sanders endorsed his rival last week at a joint appearance in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. But others say he really didn’t.)

Click here to read, “Voters Report Suspicious Irregularities in Three Different Primary States” and click here to read, “New York Attorney General Investigating Primary Voting Irregularities.”

More from the New York Times:

Mr. Sanders urged superdelegates in states that he has won and those who came out in support of Mrs. Clinton before he declared his candidacy to switch their support to him. He also said other superdelegates should consider supporting him because in many polls he beats Donald J. Trump by more than points Mrs. Clinton does, and that they would be more likely to do so if he won further primaries.

President Obama’s recent nod and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s unexpected endorsement notwithstanding, Clinton is seen by more than a few voters and political observers as the more flawed and weaker of the two candidates. If polls are any indication – and yes, I still hate polls – she isn’t clobbering her general election opponent, Donald “Ugly, Lying, Stupid, Racist Piece of Dog Excrement” Trump, as painfully as some assume she should. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll found Trump beating Clinton 44 to 37 percent; a CBS News/New York Times poll found Clinton tied with Trump at 40 percent each. I saw something the other day that said he’s ahead in Florida and Pennsylvania. In other polls, her leads are within the margin of error. (Click here for comprehensive Clinton vs. Trump polling information.)

How can an attorney who served as First Lady and U.S. Secretary of State, is running for president for the second time, and has been a top tier politician for decades be running neck-and-neck with the most bombastic, ill-tempered, thin-skinned, unprepared, obnoxious, bigoted, immature jackass who’s ever sought the highest office in the land?

It might have something to do with the fact that she’s pro-fracking. Or maybe because she tends to say one thing to one audience and another to another. It could be because she was until very recently a leading advocate for the Trans Pacific Partnership or that she used to be against raising the minimum wage and now she’s for it. Maybe it’s because she’s a pro-Israel hawk who trumpets her friendship with diplomat Henry Kissinger, a war criminal right up there with Dick Cheney and Dubya. Or maybe it’s because she’s seen as a pro-corporate, pro-Wall Street member of the one percent who would serve the same players and institutions that Sanders has identified as being part of the problem, those who are fine with economic injustice and a shrinking middle class, with income inequality and helping the rich get richer while the rest of us slip and fall.

Click here to read, “Why I’m Not Voting for Hillary Clinton” from April of 2015.

So just who and what are the superdelegates? They’re the sitting Democratic governors, senators and representatives. They’re “distinguished party leaders” like current and former presidents and vice presidents, retired lawmakers and past chairs of the Democratic National Committee. Most are officers or members of the DNC. Nearly six in ten are men, close to two-thirds are white and their average age is around 60. They’ll account for just fewer than 15 percent of all delegate votes at the convention.

One disgruntled blogger has this to say about them:

The superdelegate system is rigged to protect establishment politicians and shut down populism. Superdelegates by their very nature diminish the value of the vote by giving an elite constituency of representatives, party leaders, and even lobbyists extra power. The Superdelegate List exists to help voters challenge this undemocratic system. Contacting our elected representatives and party leaders and holding them to account is an American tradition. This is the only way to keep the voter base from being patronized or ignored.

Want to contact these people and give ‘em a piece of your mind? Want to tell ‘em you think they should support the person who energizes voters, brings new life to the party and the system, and represents hope and change instead of more of the same? Want to urge them to endorse a revolution rather than to embrace the gasps and shudders of an old and no-longer-viable status quo? Click here for a spreadsheet with contact information.

I’m really not trying to help send The Orange One to the White House. I’m not trying to further damage an already-bruised candidate, ignore the many reasons why she absolutely must emerge victorious this November (if she’s indeed the Democratic nominee), or further irritate HRC supporters who find my denunciations exhausting and unwise. What I am doing is trying to prevent the light that is Bernie Sanders from being extinguished by a corrupt system, one that protects entrenched politicians, myopic millionaires and sheeple who settle for what they’re fed instead of demanding to see the full menu.

We shouldn’t go down without a fight.




Sources: Superdelegatelist.com, TheGuardian.com, HuffingtonPost.com, PewResearch.org, Usuncut.com, New York Times, RealClearPolitics.com, NPR.org, Associated Press.