Archive for the ‘Irreverence’ Category.

Not MY President

“He is our president and we should rally around him.” “Good Americans and Democrats should attend the inauguration to show our solidarity in the peaceful transfer of power.”  Bullshit.  More like, “All hail Caesar and we are taking names of those who don’t.”  Let’s start with the basics.  He lost by an almost record margin of popular votes but because of the gerrymandering of slave states back in the Founding, we have an electorial college weighted to rural states.  Second, let’s really look at the Comey email fiasco which according to many analyses did swing the election.  Third, let’s add in the Russian hacking, and Wikileaks being their tool while no similar leaks on the Republican side and clearly the election was stolen.  This leaves out the fickle role of the press that chased after every morsel of email news to try to create a false equivalency between Donald and Hillary.  So yes the election was fraudulent based on lies and innuendo.

But even if you don’t buy that or say politicians lie all the time (and our press is supposed to pick them off), my president would not be a small mean bully.  He would not go after the unprotected in our society to blame all its ills upon.  He would not deny science and try to dismantle the very agencies that try to protect our environment for our children.  He would not be cozying up to a dictator who has murdered thousands as a good business opportunity.  He would not suggest that maybe other countries should get their own nukes. He would not be dismantling healthcare for millions and throwing the health insurance industry into chaos.  He would not denigrate women and pretend he respects them.  He would not throw millions of immigrants out of the country when all our ancestors were immigrants.  He would not put a person in charge of education who has done more to damage public schools than just about anyone else.

And we are not talking partisan politics here, we are talking about destroying American values.  He has demonstrated that he has very little understanding of the Constitution or the great debates our Founders had.  He has no appreciation for due process or free speech and has started a very authoritarian approach to the press refusing to answer hard questions.  He has shown amazing ignorance on a multitude of issues both foreign and domestic.  His understanding of economics borders on non-existent.  And his ethics and morals are in the gutter.

So no, he is not my president.  He may be the president, but we cannot trust a thing he or his teams says.  America has sunk to a new low of crass I got mine, screw you.  People who voted for him ignored fact, data, and science, or the march of time.  They demonstrated how dumbed down America has become.  But they were the minority and they still won.  So again, no he is not my president and I will do whatever it takes to obstruct his destruction of America.  That starts with ignoring the inauguration except for the sadness of seeing the Obamas leave public life.  Even that may be too painful to watch.  So don’t enable this monstrosity America.  Fight him every step of the way.  No, he is not my president.  Like John Lewis, I will be staying home and turning off the TV.

Oh FMITH!

I am listening to the news and the narrative is did John Lewis go too far.  How could he delegitimize the president, that he says he would find it hard to work with him?  How could a politician be so divisive?

WAIT A MINUTE!

Does any remember the leader of the Senate Republicans telling us he was going to make Obama a one term President?  Does anybody remember the drum beat by Trump and the whole Republican Party that said Obama was a Kenyan and was not born in America?  Do you remember you lie?  WTF? Are you people brain-dead?

FMITH-Famous expression from my Vietnam and SAC days (Fuck me in the heart).

My New Fiction Novel:  Constitutional Crisis

Let’s just fantasize for a moment.  Say President Obama is presented with unequivocal evidence that Trump and his team are colluding with the Russians and colluded with them on the hacks and release of emails.  Say that it tells a story that the election was illegitimate.  What should the President do.  For my novel, he would declare Martial Law, declare the election illegitimate, and hold elections in March (June?) after the full investigation is completed and the American Public is fully informed.  The Republicans would probably be forced to run Pence unless he was involved and I don’t think he has the wattage.  Welcome Paul Ryan and it would be Hillary and Paul in June.

You could throw in some sex, murder, and conniving (well we probably already have two of three in real life), where political power and greed have overcome our conservative leaders whose ideology trumps the common good.  Oh, wait!  We already have that.  There could be riots in the streets, threats from Russia, Republicans claiming everything is a lie.  Finally have the nation come to its senses and be a novel of real hope and rebirth in our founding principles.

Sadly, other than the martial law, most of this is actually going on or may go on.  Would there be enough Republicans who when presented with clear evidence, be willing to stand up to conservatives that don’t care and just want the control the three branches of government?  So far there haven’t been when it is obvious the man they elected is unstable and not qualified to be president.

Let’s take another not so far fetch scenario.  That Trump has to be removed.  What do we do with Pence if we arrive at the conclusion that the election was illegitimate?  Does he get the reins of power, do we have a do-over, or does he resign and Paul Ryan become the President. Meanwhile. Hillary won the popular vote.  Does this lead to riots in the street?  Now note in all of this there is a basic assumption that the Republicans lost the election.  And one of the problems in all of this is that it does not force Democrats to face the fact that their party has its own problems when it comes to economic inequality and losing even the electoral college was a wake up call.

The problem with all this from a narrative point of view is that the Republicans are bad guys (true), but the Democrats are innocent victims (not so true).  So how do you write this novel with both an external threat (the Russians), a corrupt and ideological Republican Party, but also a flawed Democratic Party that has lost its way.  I am still working on that.  Maybe I just need to wait until June and see how it writes itself.  Just fantasizing here or am I?

The To Do List

My intent this morning was to make a list of the things President Obama could do in his last 9 days.  And I will get to that in a moment, but this morning for no particular reason I had some old military acronyms floating around in my head, and if you will excuse the language, I thought I would share.

First was the Obama goodbye speech from President Obama last night which I will comment on in a couple of days when I can see it without the fog of emotion.  And what came to mind was something that is common across the military, FIGMO.  Fuck it, I got my orders.  It just came to mind and in a few days I will decide if it really applies if he fails on my To Do List.

Then there is the state of the Union as President Obama leaves office and the Neanderthals (my apologies to Neanderthals) that are taking over the reigns of power.  I see mass chaos as the Republicans are ill equipped to govern and find their ideas not even remotely practical and their fantasies, well, fantasies. SNAFU comes to mind with Republicans in charge. Situation normal, all fucked up.

And then there is that time down the road when the chaos subsides and we realize we have made one giant mistake turning to the right, and imagining the orange headed narcissistic pathological liar could lead us anywhere.  The term that comes to mind is FUBAR.  Fucked up beyond all recognition.  And you thought my time in the military was wasted.  We learned valuable lessons for dealing with life as we survive both combat and military mindlessness. We may want to keep these terms handy for future use.

Okay, what could President Obama do before he leaves office that could help many people.  Well I am not the first one to be thinking about this so I will give you a composite:

Pardon the Dream Kids – Who cares if you make a mistake and some kid you pardon gets used as a antidote for their policies of building a wall.  You will save 750,000 Dreamers.  Where is your courage?

Release the Senate Torture Report – Just declassify it and put it out there.  We need to counter Trump and his fantasies about its effectiveness. We need to know what Trump, Cheney, and the CIA did in our names and how it failed.

Pardon Snowden  and Manning– Okay, the Intell community hates him (Snowden), but both he and Chelsea did expose illegal activities and as of today no one has been able to prove they harmed anyone except those doing illegal things.  Meanwhile the Valerie Plame’s outer got a pardon (Lewis Libby) and his boss ordered war crimes and nobody got charged.  Oh, and pardon whistle blowers going forward so Trump can’t do a witch hunt (NBC).

Appoint Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court – Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution gives the president power to fill any vacancy during the recess of the Senate.  Let Trump the village idiot deal with that after the Republicans stole Obama’s nomination.

Close Gitmo – Okay, Congress made sure he could not do that, but he could do an end run and just transfer all of them.  Of course then we have that little problem of charging them since most of the evidence is tainted by torture and everything else the Bush Administration legitimized.  That should be the legacy of Gitmo, that murders were allowed to go free because we forgot what we stood for.

Drone Strikes – Make the criteria for targeted drone strikes public.  You about to turn the government over to a nut job who needs to be held accountable about how he uses force.  List the names of those innocent that were killed accidentally.

Formally Recognize the Palestine statehood – Enough of the charade.  If we believe in human rights we need to understand the path Israel is on is one of continued civil war.

Commute John Walker Lindh Sentence – Yes he did a terrible thing.  He was young and stupid. Weren’t we all and where is the spirit of Christian forgiveness.  He has suffered enough.

There are probably more and you are welcome to suggest, but these are things he could do to help America through the nightmare ahead.  Will he?  I doubt it, but we will see.  He still thinks we are having a normal transfer of power and it should be peaceful.

Did Obama Get Us Here?

This is a hard blog to write because in so many ways I find Barrack Obama a man to respect and I admire him. No drama Obama.  In many of the very difficult challenges he faced as President he represented us with grace and calmness.  He and Michelle were wonderful role models.  But to understand how we got to the reign of the Orange narcissist, we have to face his failures and the Democrat’s failures.  Here is what Cornell West gave us this morning:

Bernie Sanders gallantly tried to generate a leftwing populism but he was crushed by Clinton and Obama in the unfair Democratic party primaries. So now we find ourselves entering a neofascist era: a neoliberal economy on steroids, a reactionary repressive attitude toward domestic “aliens”, a militaristic cabinet eager for war and in denial of global warming. All the while, we are seeing a wholesale eclipse of truth and integrity in the name of the Trump brand, facilitated by the profit-hungry corporate media.

Now you may not agree that Bernie was crushed by Clinton and Obama unfairly, but you cannot argue with the rest.  Something is fundamentally wrong with Democrats.  Ask yourself what happened to rural America and safe Democratic fire walls?  Granted there is no excuse voting for a narcissistic pathological liar or believing anything he promised, but they were turning away from Democrats and the party that Hillary Clinton represented.  That is very hard for many Democrats to accept because we could see so many good things that might get done.  But there was a loss of faith that anything of real substance will change.  So they went with the snake oil salesman who may actually wreck the country.

It is time for Democrats to take a real look at who they are and look at some of things we all know were wrong, but we just assumed the President knew better.  I am taking my argument from both Cornell above, and Thomas Frank’s highly insightful book, Listen, Liberal:  Or What Ever Happened to the Party of the People.  Frank develops the back story and I wrote about this in my blog, Best of Times, Worst of Times. Now as you read this, I know you are going to argue he did the best he could given the circumstances and obstructionism of the Republicans. “The true problem, liberal thinkers concluded, were the whining, unrealistic idealists who expected so much from Obama—and of course those diabolical Republicans in Congress, constantly outmaneuvering the poor, powerless man in the Oval Office.”

But West, Frank, and I argue that is not true.  He certainly did what he thought was best and he always believed in consensus.  But had he a better grip on the real structural problems of our economic system, there was so much that could have been done.  But I get ahead of myself.

Frank lays out a back story that Democrats have become the party of professionals.  From my blog, Twilight Zone and Democrats, I wrote how Democrats became the party of the top 10%.  Our Washington extension of this is the best and brightest from all the best East Coast schools.  We believed that experts could solve everything if we just put our mind to it and the mistaken belief that education will cure unemployment, when the system itself is the problem.  This led to incestual thinking and the belief in complicated solutions to simple problems while trying to satisfy too many ideologies.

Make no mistake, inequality is the underlying problem of our economy and nothing we have done addresses it.  We have assumed that if Wall Street succeeds we all do.  We have assumed that we just need to tweak the system when we need to rethink the whole thing.  Okay, that is the back story, although Mr. Frank gives us a whole chapter on the Clinton Administration and how they turned their back on working people as they sought to align the party with professionals including Wall Street, their view of the future.  After reading that, you have a real sense why Hillary was the wrong candidate for the wrong time and I have written copiously about that here.

So we come to the Obama Administration, the administration of hope and change,  and I will quote Mr. Frank here:

If what we are concerned with is inequality, however, it would behoove us to admit the obvious forthrightly: that Obama could have done many things differently, that the Republicans aren’t superhuman, and that the presidency is in fact a powerful office…

Early on for the new administration, as for the old, an obliging consideration toward banker confidence took precedence over everything else. For fear of frightening the men of lower Manhattan, the Obama team dared undertake none of the serious measures the times obviously called for. No big Wall Street institutions were put into receivership or cut down to size. No important Wall Street bankers were terminated in the manner of the unfortunate chairman of General Motors.

So let me just list some of the things that could have been done differently that got us to where we are today (combination of Frank and West):

  • It was fully within Obama’s power to react to the financial crisis in a more aggressive and appropriate way: laws were in place, there was ample precedent, he wasn’t forced to pick the men whom Democrat Senator Byron Dorgan plaintively called “the wrong people” for his economic team. It wasn’t the Republicans who made Obama choose Tim Geithner to run the bailouts or Attorney General Eric Holder to (not) prosecute dishonest bankers or Ben Bernanke to serve another term at the Fed.
  • In March 2009, Obama met with Wall Street leaders. He proclaimed: I stand between you and the pitchforks. I am on your side and I will protect you, he promised them. And not one Wall Street criminal executive went to jail.
  • Obama could have questioned or even unwound Bush’s bailouts; he could have fired the bad regulators who let it all happen; he could have stopped the AIG bonuses instead of having his team go on television to defend them; he could have pushed to allow bankruptcy judges to modify mortgages; he could have put the “zombie banks” into receivership; he could have shifted FBI agents back to white-collar crime; and so on. He could have pushed for mortgage relief.  He did none of these, and the program was to save the banks and resurrect the old system.  Thus did the Party of the People turn the government over to Wall Street in the years after Wall Street had done such lasting damage to … well, the People.
  • Then there was the stimulus. Unfortunately, the biggest single part of it was wasted on tax cuts designed to lure Republican votes. Another chunk was wasted on coaxing state governments to embrace charter schools and to open their education systems to consultants and entrepreneurs.  What the sprawling stimulus measure did not include was the obvious thing, the most effective thing, the thing Americans of all ages remember that Franklin Roosevelt did— direct federal job-creation in the WPA manner. Obama was careful to avoid such things, because they would have expanded the federal workforce.  As a result, it missed out on another achievement of the Roosevelt era: the creation of spectacular and unmistakable monuments to activist government.
  • Then there was NAFTA which is he was against and then reversed.  It was another example of coming down on the side of corporations with nothing for economic equality or the working man/woman.  Now we have the TPP again negotiated by corporations to protect their large profits.
  • Take a hard look at Obamacare where deals were made with both big Pharma and the insurance industry to get their support. It allowed him to achieve the double mandate of making health care more affordable while preserving existing players at the same time. Obamacare essentially made our patronage of these industries mandatory. It was so over complicated to achieve these goals that we are living with these complications today.  And he never supported (except when he campaigned) for a single payer system.
  • Try to remember his pivot to gays and Joe Biden said the obvious.
  • Let’s not forget his turn from jobs to debt reduction. “Families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions,” he said in his State of the Union Address in 2010. “The federal government should do the same.”  Actually Economics 101 and Paul Krugman told us this is exactly what we shouldn’t do.  To me this whole thing was his longing for a grand consensus of the professional class that never seems to come.  Barack Obama displayed a passion for reaching an understanding with his foes that was at times embarrassing to behold and counter productive at best.
  • If we look at the stimulus, the Dodd-Frank banking measure, and the landmark Affordable Care Act, in certain remarkable ways, each of these legislative achievements followed the same characteristic pattern— one that diminishes their effectiveness but allows Democrats to pursue the professional consensus they crave.  Instead of arguing for a new way, we compromised away our future with policies that were minimally effective and highly complicated making them ineffective and easy to find loopholes.
  • When it became clear that the US tortured  innocent Muslims and that drone strikes were killing innocent civilians, the Obama’s administration told us no civilians had been killed.  Now they admit some collateral damage, and they continue with unknown number of “collateral damage.”
  • Obama’s education policy unleashed more market forces that closed hundreds of public schools for charter ones.
  • The top 1% got nearly two-thirds of the income growth in eight years even as child poverty, especially black child poverty, remained astronomical.
  • Labor insurgencies in Wisconsin, Seattle and Chicago (vigorously opposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a close confidant of Obama) were passed over in silence.
  • Let’s not forget that his administration has been one of the most aggressive in prosecuting whistle blowers and trying keep the press from printing the truth.
  • Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, Jeffrey Sterling and other truth-tellers were demonized just as the crimes they exposed were hardly mentioned.
  • The look ahead not back when we decided not to fully investigate and exposure our torture program under the Bush Administration.  This failure is allowing Trump to call for bringing it back.
  • And as deporter-in-chief – nearly 2.5 million immigrants were deported under his watch – Obama policies prefigure Trump’s barbaric plan.

And this does not touch the spying on American citizens under his watch which Edward Snowden exposed.  It also does not address, at least directly, his failure to proactively and aggressively act on foreign affairs whether it was the red line in Syria or the Russian Hacking.  But I think the most important failure of both Barack Obama and the Democratic Party was the failure to understand the economic system is fundamentally flawed.

Oh, you can blame it on globalization or changing markets, but the reality is we chose to do nothing.  The Democrats became the party of the status quo and allowed the Republicans to be the party of conservative economics on steroids.  Now we are going to have to live with our complacency and the loss of our way.  President Obama did some amazing things.  But when it was time to take a stand, to make decisions within his power that could have changed things, he went with consensus.  And that is what enabled the mess we are in today.  Tomorrow, I will try to list the things he could do in his last days to set some things straight.

The real lesson here is not that Obama failed us, but we lost our way.  That the neo-liberal ideas we have all adopted, education solves all problems and economic inequality is just a reality we must all live with (and education allows us to be part of the winning team), are wrong and does address our fundamental problems.  Bernie rub noses in it, but got run over by the establishment.  Let’s hope we learned something.  Keep in mind that the Donald is in charge because Democrats failed.

 

13 Days

We have 13 days until we turn the country over to a highly damaged narcissist who has shown great ignorance on most issues, racist tendencies, inability to control his ego, tendencies to lash out, confused about how government actually functions, misogynistic to a fault, a pathological liar or maybe more accurately does not know what the truth is, and of course an authoritarian who hates free speech.  This is not ranting of a bitter Progressive, well maybe it is, but I can give you an instance to demonstrate each of my claims.  And the rubes think he is going to make America great again.  At this point as the reality gets closer and closer, I have a hard time being kind enough to call them rubes.

The Washington Post had an article this morning about the town that The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry (Mount Airy, N.C.), was filmed in that voted  Trump:

If only the real Mount Airy, which has experienced decades of economic and social decline, were like the Mayberry facade, muses Mayor David Rowe. If only his city and the rest of America could return to the 1950s again.
“Now it’s about secular progressivism, not the values you get out of this book,” such as honesty and hard work, said Rowe, 72, jabbing his finger at the leather Bible on his office desk.

Yeah, take me back to when we thought we were going to die from a nuclear strike, black people were in bondage, gays were all in the closet, and religious prejudices were everywhere.  What I get out of these stories is that people first want some kind of guarantee that there will be a good job if they just wait for it to come to them.  So they voted for Trump to bring back what never really existed.  Anybody ever read the 1940’s author Thomas Wolfe’s You Can’t Go Home Again?  Thomas Wolfe could be a writer for our times as he wrote about change and capitalism.  I will quote from Wikipedia here:

The phrase “you can’t go home again” has entered American speech to point out how human nostalgia is weighted with both an inaccurately positive bias (“Absence makes the heart grow fonder”) and an inability to appreciate the changes wrought by time on places and people we remember as static and permanent. In general terms, it means that attempts to relive youthful memories are never as fulfilling as during their initial creation.

The fifties were not great times, but what these people are pining for is “their entitlement”.  White supremacy and their “chosen” position as people of the right God, and of course a guaranteed job.  I am sorry their little communities are crumbling, but have they read world history?  Things change.  Find a way to fix it.  Reinvent yourself, but for God’s sake don’t put a madman in charge of the country because you’re a selfish turd.

Well they did.  They even knew he makes fun of their religion.  They even knew he was a crass misogynist.  They even knew he lies.  Maybe some of them even like his racism.  Time to get back those old time values where certain people knew their place.  No I don’t think rube even captures it.

Well now his sickness is for everyone to see, and yet they are still trying to look the other way.  They are still trying to normalize him.  He is a businessman and he will save us.  He has appointed a billionaire corporate cabinet, giving the people the bill for the wall, not going after Hillary for which there was nothing to go after her for, probably can’t repeal Obamacare because it would break the bank, saves a token 800 jobs paying corporate ransom while 10,000 a month are lost, and may be cozying up to the thug Putin and they just look the other way.  He will bring back our jobs!

His cohorts the Republicans, who really brought us the disaster in the economy that started all this tried to do away with ethics oversight, and now want the power to intimidate federal workers when they don’t like the message.  Oh, this is going to work out so well and the rubes still support him.  May you people go to hell and take you small town rural wisdom with you. Isn’t it interesting as the economy continues to improve even with Republican total obstruction, they put them back in power to destroy it again.

One last thought.  I live rural Trump voting America.  I live in the Sierra Foothills of El Dorado Country California.  It is Redder than red.  It is red for  these simple reasons:  Ignorance, isolation, and intellectual incest.  They know what they want to believe and they take a antidote and make it reality no matter what the real picture looks like or what the extenuating circumstances tell you about that antidote.  Think about this common held belief and wonder at their ignorance:  They think a businessman who focus is on selfish profits is the best choice to run a government.  They are not the same skill sets.

Don’t bring facts and data to a discussion because minds are made up.  Facts and data don’t matter.  I am sorry.  I no longer have tolerance for this.  We can say we need to understand their pain and I can say bull shit.  Look what their pain is bringing us.  Sure they are “nice” people.  But somehow I can’t get over what nice people did in a monumentally stupid way.  So no, I don’t think a minority of Americans (and they are a minority that got more power by the unfairness of the Electoral College and skewed representation of their Senators) should be what we are fawning over.  I say, let’s just leave them behind.

We have real problems.  They have real problems.  But pandering to them is what got us Donald Trump.  So we need with both our and their problems, but not in some anti-intellectual nostalgic pining for the past and we feel you pain.  We are all out here hustling trying to survive in an ever complicated world.  But building a Disneyworld for rural America is a sand castle.  We have to hold these people accountable for what they have done to this country.  I wonder in two years when things are really in a mess, how they will blame this on Obama and the Democrats?

Now He is Normal, Right?

“President-elect Donald J. Trump acknowledged the possibility on Friday that Russia had hacked a variety of American targets, including the Democratic National Committee, after an almost two-hour meeting with the nation’s top intelligence officials.”

I wonder how long this will last. Wait!  Twitter Alert! Twitter Alert!

Shooter! Shooter!

Will I see one guy with a gun has distracted the entire nation from the insaneness of the Donald and the Republican Congress.  The press gives us minute by minute coverage of knowing nothing except upping the body count.  You have to wonder when the Republicans will figure this out and start hiring shooters to distract the media from next week’s hearings and “repeal and replace” travesty.  Irreverent?  Not at all.  They have just given us a madman that will have his trigger on the nuclear trigger and are legitimizing him so they can be in power, so what’s a few more casualties compared to that if they can continue to advance their ideological march?

UPDATE:  We have now listened to almost four hours of nonsense on the news getting the story wrong and passing on rumor.  Now on email I get this from the Daily Beast which fairly well sums up what happened and did we need to distract the whole nation with reporting rumors and conjecture:

Esteban Santiago, 26, has been identified as the gunman who opened fire at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Friday. Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca wrote on Facebook that Santiago landed at the airport after a flight. Santiago checked a handgun in his luggage and retrieved it at the Terminal 2 baggage claim, LaMaca wrote, adding that he loaded the gun in a bathroom then came out and opened fire. NBC News, citing law enforcement officials, confirmed LaMarca’s story.Santiago was taken alive into custody. Five people were killed and eight people were wounded by Santiago, according to the Broward County Sheriff’s Department.Santiago was born in New Jersey, according to NBC News, and was a member of the U.S. Army National guard.

Santiago lived in Anchorage, Alaska from 2014 to 2016. Alaska court records show a criminal record there for minor traffic infractions including operating a vehicle without insurance and a broken taillight. Records also show his landlord evicted him for non-payment of rent in February 2015.In January 2016, Santiago was charged with two misdemeanor crimes: one count of fourth-degree assault and another for damage of property over $50. According to a spokesperson from the Anchorage Police department the incident was related to domestic violence. The case was resolved in March when Santiago entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, an alternative to adjudication where a state prosecutor dismissed the charges in exchange for Esteban’s completion of requirements that are unknown.— Brandy Zadrozny

Who Needs Intelligence or Have We Just Elected the Manchurian Candidate?

Why the Trump attack on the Intelligence agencies and now a proposal to “reorganize it”?  Actually America, you should really be afraid.  Let’s first take his attempt to delegitimize American Intelligence.  It is a boldfaced attempt to redefine reality (security threats) in Donald’s belief of what it should be.  It is attempt to stiffle any real check on his definition of what is the threat.  He tells us Russia probably did not hack the Democrats, there was no plot, and Jullian Assange did not get his intell from a “state source”.  Assange is more reliable than our own intelligence agencies?  But our intelligence Agencies have real data to say he is wrong.  So first he claims a political bias, and then the plan to reorganize to intimidate.  

Now there is nothing wrong with looking at the money and efficacy of these agencies and find a better way to do it.  But it is obvious what he is about.  He is about controlling the message even if the message is a lie.  In other words who needs intelligence briefings if you have already made up your mind?  Who needs competing data and facts?  Why confuse the issue with facts and data?  He wants total control of the message and he is doing exactly what he did with his own supporters by trying to delegitimize the National Press. If he controls the information, he controls everything.  So from that perspective we have a truly dangerous man at the helm.  If you look at it this way, he is the authoritarian coming into power to crush free speech.

The other way to look at it is that he is a dufus.  The press keeps telling us how smart and charming he is and yet he blunders all over the place, either ignorant of the facts and policies, or just half cocked at all times.  You know, ready, shoot, aim.  And as a duffess, the Russians have co-opted him.  It would not have been hard as it seems his magical business accumen is highly leveraging one business deal after another and living large on the proceeds of the loans.  We don’t know that for sure because we are never going to see his income taxes.  But what if he is highly indebt to the moguls in Russia?  What if his sudden bromance with Putin is about their exerting pressure on him?  What if he is their “Manchurian Candidate”.  That would also explain his attempt to defame our intelligence and suddenly be a Jullian Assange fan.

Or worst case, what if it is both?  He is smart enought to know that he who controls the information controls the game, and he is a puppet of the Russians?  Then we are in deep shit.  I would love to explain all this away as the orange headed village idiot is, well, the village idiot, but this is too well thought out.  We are in deep do-do everyone.  These are not normal times and whatever his motivations, they are leading down a path of danger and quite possibley destruction.  What will tell the tale is whether after he is elected, if Russia makes a move.  In the meantime you and I have to do everything to return us to a nation of data and facts, and protect the free press no matter what it takes.  Everything coming out of the White House is going to be carefully filtered propaganda.  We thought it was just a character flaw in Trump to never be wrong.  It could be something much more dangerous.

A Breaking Bad Marathon

AMC just finished a Breaking Bad Marathon and I got dragged in for season 5 (last one) last night.  Now, I have the whole series on DVD, all 5 seasons, but last night the temptation to see the finalé was just too much.  Watching Walter White sink to his lowest and then face his death with dignity trying to finally set things right was too much to resist. You really have to wonder how a high school chemistry teacher could become a murdering drug kingpin?  And make no mistake, Walter White, the mild mannered chemistry teacher learned to survive in his new career by becoming ruthless enough to survive.  But why did so many of us become fans of Walter White and that show?

Well there was great acting.  Bryan Cranston and the rest of the cast were marvelous.  One thing that it depicted was the complexity and messiness of real life.  Sometimes they just bumbled through things, and at others, they had a plan.  But the show with its dark humor, and its cast of characters representing all elements of the human condition and eccentricities, was a metaphor for our lives.  Walter White was all of us and his character kind of explains where we are today in America.

For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, we find Walter a brilliant, yet unrecognized high school  chemistry teacher in Arizona.  He and his wife can barely make ends meet on a teacher’s salary.  Years before, Walter teamed up to form a company, Grey Matters, which he abruptly left, selling his interest for $5000.  There is no explanation of what really happened, but in Walter’s mind, somehow he got screwed as the company became highly successful.  Walter is suffering the disrespect and emasculation of a man whose students could not care less about what he has to teach, and a wife who wishes for more, and suddenly turns up pregnant.  He has a wonderful son who has mild cerebral palsy. And then Walter gets body slammed with cancer. So in Walter’s mind he has been dealt a raw deal in life.  Sound like Trump voters?

Now whether some of this is Walter’s own fault through his life choices is not really the point.  Walter feels emasculated by life and now he is facing his death and wondering how his family will survive.  The system he has worked in has failed him.  And then a chance to make a little money going on the dark side producing meth presents itself.  In many ways it is how many of us co-opt ourselves with little decisions to be a little bad, that lead down the road of no return.  Macbeth if you will.  Walter is living in a corrupt system that has not used or recognized his brilliant mind, and now he is facing the end of his life, and he decides to become part of that corrupt system to “save his family”.

The rest is the long journey to the point where he has to become one of them to survive.  Each step was logical, but there was no going back, and finally at the end, his cancer returning and he is dying, he must find a way to secure the family he has now totally lost in his trip through darkness.  I actually see a parallel here to many of us who have been co-opted by the system to enjoy its bounty and not ask too many questions about the unfairness of it.  I also see the white American vote for Trump as Walter White striking out at the system that has failed them.  Don’t look at his lies, his racism, his ignorance, or his crassness, he makes me feel good and I don’t care anymore.

But I think the most important scene of the last episode (one of the greatest last episodes I have ever seen filmed) is when Walter comes back to settle the score as he is dying of cancer, and visits his wife Skyler living in a dingy apartment where the Feds have taken everything.  He is there to say goodbye and to tell her things will be okay.  There is such tragedy in that moment at what he has lost, the love and respect of his wife and son.  But then he starts to tell her why he did it, and she interrupts to tell him not to say he did for them.  He has lost them forever.  And in a moment of pure clarity, Walter responds with, “No, I did it for myself.  I liked it.  I was good at it.  It made me feel…alive.”  It was a moment of shining truth about all of our lives.  It was an indictment of the system we live in.  And it was a glimpse into our souls.

Sure, Walter could have made other choices and maybe had a life much more fulfilling.  But he was like all of us, flawed, and life is messy.  And in the end, he was at the bottom of heap, life dealing him blow after blow, unfair for sure, but life is not fair.  And then he takes the system on.  He becomes what he has to become to survive, and it energizes him.  It also cost him everything dear to him.  Walter is all of us.  But in the end, he came to terms with what he had become, and in that one moment of clarity, was truthful to himself.  He felt whole even in his loss. His life would mean something even if only to him.  He had the power to make a difference.

I think Breaking Bad, when you take it all in, all the subplots, the almost childish good-guy/bad-guy view of the world of his DEA brother-in-law Hank, the petty jalousies, the sibling rivalries, it is a composite of the life we live and our basic flaws.  And it was like looking in a mirror of what we have constructed and wondering if it is just a life of boredom and failure as it was for Walter.

Walter White, the character Bryan Cranston created so magnificently, will always haunt me.  It is a train wreck I cannot look away from because in many respects it reflects our own struggles to come to terms with the life we have made for ourselves.  And it asks so many questions, the most fundamental of all, was it worth it?  For Walter, his choice was obscurity and leaving his family penniless, but loving him failure, or making a statement and feeling finally in control that  in the end even with their loathing, he could secure their future.  Well it wasn’t that simple and that is why Breaking Bad is a reflection of life.  It is never that simple.