Pox Americana

"Politics is a disease for dirty little animals." – HST

Vote for Hillary. Fight for Bernie.

conor

What can I say, other than it’s been a thrilling cage match on the American electoral left? Bernie Sanders–a wild-haired, gesticulating Jewish socialist from the micro State of Vermont–has given the most established, bankrolled, anointed candidate in my lifetime a Lovecraftian scare. He landed several hard punches and threatened an early submission. He set fire to millions of progressives who have been dry in the throat for the emergence of a real, popular progressive in our perpetually right-wing nation. He’s agitated, inspired, and sold out arenas with wild, optimistic enthusiasm, forcing his centrist opponent to tack to the left along the way. Bernie has birthed a tsunami of grass roots support–both philosophically and financially–and our country will never be quite the same. He moved the goal posts. For the first time in American history, the word “socialism” is not seen as a universal pejorative: it is, rather, understood and embraced by millions. But sadly, in a country as large as ours, “millions” just aren’t enough.

Bernie is officially toast. Clinton delivered the knockout punch today, sweeping five states, including the behemoths of Illinois, Ohio, and Florida. It was a great, exciting run, but he’s just not going to get there, even if he picks up gains on the ripe orchards of the west coast. This particular fight is over. He can continue to stagger, steal, and get whupped on some more, or he can tap out.

It will be Clinton vs.Trump in the general. This is what the numbers dictate. It is an is. So guess what?  Despite the fact that the guy saying everything we liked will now never sit in the Oval Office, we need to do everything we can possibly do to defeat Trump, or Shrumpf, or Champion Tit Bigot Eraserdick the XVI. We need to rally everyone to take this moaning mound of isotopic foreskin down. I’m sorry that Hillary doesn’t meet your litmus test for ideological purity (she certainly doesn’t for me), but Trump is beyond odious. He’s a maggoty skidmark, a bellowing State Fair sales pavilion emcee stroking off know-nothing semen scabs. He would be an unmitigated disaster of Chernobylian proportions–an explosive septic supernova for both America and the world. If defeating his clawing ambitions means throwing my weight behind Hillary Clinton, then dress me up in a pantsuit and call me Ben Fucking Ghazi, ‘cuz I’m there.

The stakes have never been higher. This asshole CANNOT be handed the reins of power. There is a storm surge of stupid rolling over us right now and it’s time to sandbag this shit once and for all. What happened in Chicago last week was a good start. Every Trump rally from here on out should be met with thousands of young, pissed off, two-fisted leftists. That’s how fascist rallies are targeted in Europe, so why not in America? It’s time to toss aside the effete, passive image of the latte liberal and instead channel your own Woody Guthrie, Malcom X, or hammer-brandishing Wobblie. Burn your Birkenstocks and strap on a pair of Docs.

In the meantime, vote for Hillary.

She’s not going to change thing massively for the better, but her tenure will be at least be competent. Overall, the USS Hillary will sail smoothly. She won’t smash into any icebergs. She will simply stay the course with the steadiest, if not most exciting, of hands.

Yeah, I know it sucks, but consider the alternative. President Trump? Think about that. Really. Think. And if any of you Sandernistas actually believe that Bernie can win as an independent, you’re high on spray paint, gas, or glue. Or perhaps all three.

Hillary, 2016.

Yay?

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My Hate Muse

trumpy

It’s happening. It’s actually happening. Barring intervention by the Hand of God, Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee. When he announced his candidacy last June to a room full of paid actors, I happily joined the sneering choir of elites, scoffing and haw-hawing The Donald off as a schmucky bag of gas; but here we are, less than a week away from Super Tuesday, and Trump is slaying it. He’s won his last three straight. His bitch slapping of Cruz and Rubio in Nevada today  just cements his position as the GOP’s Anointed One, to the horror of the party’s kingmakers. His trajectory must be a slow-motion nightmare in their eyes, like looped footage of the space shuttle Challenger disaster. He’s hijacked their plane and is dead set on rocketing it straight into the Twin Towers of the Republican establishment.

BOOM.

Anyone who has talked to me or reads my screeds knows that I despise Donald Trump. He’s a vile entity, perhaps the worst person in America. He was born loaded and has shat upon and fingerfucked  everyone in the room in his frenzied quest for billions. He looks like a bloated orangutan’s tumor-filled scrotum. His hair is radioactive cotton candy spun out of cat piss. His mouth is a spasmodic sphincter that threatens to birth glistening turds at any moment. I never get tired of inventing new ways to express my disgust for the man. I’ve repeatedly hissed and spat on Facebook about him and his supporters. Once, in the throes of a 4am Stella-induced delirium, I even penned a venemous poem.  He is my Hate Muse.

As detestable as he is, I have to give The Donald some credit for making this year’s primary season one for the annuls. He is, of course, the consummate showman, and like so many others, I have cooked up and mainlined every Trump-related story dealt my way. Sometimes I’ve fumed and sometimes I’ve guffawed, but like Depeche Mode’s big 80’s hit, I just can’t get enough. The fact that he’s actually a viable candidate fascinates me: I am forced to pinch myself every time I  take in his sneering, megalomaniac mug. Moreover, the fact that some of the dumbest people in America not only cheerlead his demagogic hokum, but trample over each other just to get a chance to  grovel and fawn in glow of his egonova, has been nothing but fishhooks to my eyeballs. Who are these people? Can’t they see through the obvious peddling of hate-pablum, snake oil, and naked self-promotion? His insincerity is elementally obvious to me and anyone else with a brain thicker than their tongue, yet he now has a fevered army of supporters. Surely they can’t all be weapons-grade morons. I am told that otherwise reasonable people are putting their (most likely considerable) weight behind him. Belief is very much begged. Is there hypnotism afoot? Black magic?

Okay. Let’s give His Orangeness some credit where credit is due: he has played both the media and the Drooler Brigade with the deftness of a master. Every move he makes is a headline. Every  utterance out of his epileptic side mouth is shot around the net and amplified ad infinitum and guess what? Sane people scratch their heads in wonderment, dread, and despair, while  Goobernation gobbles it up like a load of bulimic crocodiles. And lest you think think that such a simile is a rhetorical stretch, consider the fact that Trump really is appealing to the reptilian brain.

As legions of others have pointed out, Trump is of course playing straight to the dark emotions and insecurities of a white America that sees the tide of its supremacy ebbing. They’re scared, because now they actually have to compete with whole segments of the population that were previously shut out of the gig, not just nationally, but on a global scale. Trump fingers that sweet spot in the amygdala that gets the adrenaline coursing, and the more he presses, the harder they foam. How many times has Trump puked forth some outrageous bile, only to see his poll numbers soar? Pundits across the spectrum (including me) have repeatedly declared him toast, while the hoopleheads clapped and clamored and extolled him for his lack of “political correctness.” The more rancid meat he chucks forth, the more roaches crawl to the feed.

Most anyone watching the show has long since ceased to predict Trump’s implosion. What was thought was his self-destructive destiny has proven to be quite evitable. He has outlived the prognostications of any political soothsayers, and there are reasons for it.

He’s not scripted. He’s often funny–a master troll–as proven in the last GOP debate where he reduced Jeb Bush to a seething, laughable nub. I never thought I’d see the day where I’d feel SORRY for a member of the Bush clan, but hey, it happened. And like Bernie, he’s not beholden any big moneyed interests (other than his own). People recognize just how corrupt our system is, though I doubt a President Trump would do a thing to change that, since corruption has undoubtedly enabled him to ascend the ladder of wealth and power.

Let us also not forget that Trump has taken some positions that have previously been anathema to the GOP, such as raising the tax on the uber-rich, and publicly repudiating George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq. The latter nearly made me LIKE him, if only for the fact that it took serious balls, especially on the debate dais just days before the primary in South Carolina, arguably the most hawkish state in the Union.

That said, Donald Trump would be a catastrophe for America and the world. He is an obvious narcissist who could start lobbing missiles on the grounds of a perceived personal slight. He has nearly zero grasp of the issues and only seems to be running to make his pencil eraser of a dick semi-hard.

Despite the howling fervor of his supporters, more Republican primary voters are punching the ballot against him than for him. Whether it’s Hillary or Bernie come the fall (and it looks like Hillary), Trump will get buried Goldwater style. You can’t win an American election by writing off 90 percent of the nonwhite vote, and as awful and dumbed-downed as our country may be, I still believe there are more sane people than not. They just need to vote.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to watch with glee as he crashes the GOP presidential plane into the side of their building. For the past several decades the power brokers of the party have won elections by stoking the coals of bigotry. They have continually poured poison into the septic tank of their base and percolated it accordingly. This fetid brew has finally boiled over. The mob is  armed with pitchforks and has a leader who relishes in lathering them up for his own self-congratulatory stroke sessions. Good luck with that, ye mountain of fucks.

The rest of us will just enjoy the movie while inhaling  pure hits of Shadenfreude. You got the fire? We got the marshmallows.

 

She Ain’t No Friend of Yours

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Oh, all the dears. The backlash is upon us. Bernie Sanders ties Hillary Clinton in Iowa and the narrative has changed. She’s no longer the above-it-all anointed front runner. The nomination isn’t hers for the languid waltz and plucking. Now, suddenly, she’s assumed the role of the victim. And Bernie’s supernova can only be described through the lens of patriarchy. After all, he IS an old white guy. His supporters are “bros.” He is allowed to get away with every idiosyncrasy under sun, while poor, fettered Hillary is glued to a crushing double standard. She can do no right. She’s constantly judged and re-judged–boiled down and coal-raked for every action and every word–while Bernie gets a free pass. Too cool and she’s an ice queen; too passionate and she’s a shrill bitch. How can she ever win with the MAN constantly on her back?

What a fetid load of horseshit. And convenient. Does Hillary face a daily wall of sexism? Of course. Every woman on earth does, but I sincerely doubt that this is the dominant force holding her back at this point in her career. Sure there are some online skidmarks throwing misogynist meat to the wolves (welcome to the internet), but don’t blast a single synapse by thinking that most us on the American left (penis people and others) wouldn’t throw every pound of our bro bods behind the vagina-possessing Elizabeth Warren if she was in this race. We adore her. We would chorus her name on high. We BEGGED her to run going into this, and, wanting no part of this inevitable knife fight, she demurred. Just because Hillary Clinton remains standing with female tackle isn’t reason enough for us to support her.

Sure she’s paid her dues. And yes, she’s brilliant and beyond competent. That’s not why our skin rebels at that very thought of backing her.

As others have pointed out with great detail and aplomb, Hillary Clinton has taken odious positions on occasions too often to count. I’m not going to list them all here as others have made an art form of it, but it’s safe to say that she’s been on the wrong side of history more than not. She’s soaked to the marrow with Wall Street cash. When it came to voting time, she’s always chosen the billionaires over the rest of us. She backed and cheerled the biggest mass incarceration in U.S. history. She only supported gay rights when the polls were safe. And she’s never met a war she didn’t like. Let me articulate this (like a currently viral pro-Hillary post) in SCREAMING ALL CAPS.

HILLARY CLINTON VOTED IN FAVOR OF THE IRAQ WAR, WHICH WAS THE BIGGEST, BED-SHITTING, BLOOD-SOAKED CLUSTERFUCK IN THE HISTORY OF AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY. EVERYONE CLOSE TO ME AT THE TIME WAS HORRIFIED. I DIDN’T HAVE ONE FRIEND (EVEN CONSERVATIVES) IN SUPPORT. WE RAGED AND MARCHED AGAINST IT. BUT HILLARY TOOK HER TIME AND SAID, “HEY, I CAN GET BEHIND THIS.”

AND WHAT HAPPENED? THOUSANDS OF AMERICANS DIED. A MILLION IRAQIS WERE KILLED BY OUR TAX DOLLARS. A MILLION: MEN, WOMEN. KIDS. BABIES. COUNT THAT SHIT MOTHERFUCKERS. THEN BUSH AND CHENEY PRINTED CASH. ISIS TOOK OVER AND HEADS ROLL TO THIS DAY.

ANYONE WHO VOTED FOR THIS GANGBANG SHOULD BE BARRED FROM OFFICE FOR LIFE.

Hillary Clinton supported this obscenity and everything else since then. Libya? ATTACK! Syria? ATTACK! Israel? FUND WITHOUT QUESTION. ATTACK!

She’s a warmonger. Is her blood lust fueled by sexism? Does she have something to prove? Perhaps. Or does she just get a massive rush every time an American bomb drops on foreign soil?

Bernie Sanders wants none of this. His record proves it. The difference between the two is stark. Just look at the votes.

Hillary Clinton is not on your side. She is bought and paid for by the mega-rich and nothing will change that. A vote for her is a vote for them. Hillary supporters are either getting played like a load of chumps or are so comfortable with their current position that change frightens them. She’s awful and would sell any of you out for personal gain. And you know it.

That said, she’s going to win the nomination. And I’ll vote for her over any of those Republican fucks. And then drink myself into black.

Has Bernie’s Surge Crested?

high-water

The rumors of Hillary’s demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated. Hell, even I jumped on the bandwagon, blogging just three weeks back how she was in trouble. Bernie was surging, widening his lead in New Hampshire and breaking out in Iowa. There were whispers of indictments, and her Everestian piles of baggage appeared to be even heavier than usual. We could all smell the toxic smoke and her staffers were getting the jitters, but like the warhorse she is, Hillary Clinton slogged through the muck and is now on the verge of winning Iowa.

With that state’s caucuses just two days away, she’s beating Bernie in all of the polls. The latest has it a close race that only puts her up three points, while another just two days ago has her leading by eight. What happened? Early in the month she seemed on the precipice of implosion. Just ten days ago Sanders was taking her to the woodshed in Iowa with his own eight point margin, but those gains evaporated just as fast as they materialized. Was that Bernie’s high water mark? As the big day approaches, the Hillary juggernaut has made up for lost ground and then some.

Why is this? It’s not Bernie’s fault. He hasn’t slipped up. He’s remained vibrant, with the clamor of his supporters just growing in intensity and volume. I know. I see it on Facebook every day. Most of my friends posting about politics are Sanderistas; their fervor has reached fever pitch of late, though I have noticed a growing number of Hillaryites asserting themselves, which gives me pause. A month or two back there were none. The back and forth between the two camps has been vigorous and instructive, and whatever I may think, Sanders is still very much in play in Iowa and just may walk away with a victory. However, as much as I love and support the guy, I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

What I believe we’re seeing is the natural trend of the undecided, mainstream voters moving toward the safer choice. Hillary represents stability. She’s a known quantity with heaps of experience, smarts, and know-how, and as most of these states get down to the wire, the pendulum will swing her way. She will steer the USS Obama on its present course with a steady hand, and a lot of people would be very happy with that. Bernie has energized so much of the base and will fight down to the last scrap, but elections are often decided by the middle, and from what I’ve seen on Facebook and in the polls, it’s moving toward Clinton.

Bernie has made her sweat along the way, but let us not forget that she’s picked up nearly all the big endorsements, including The New York Times, who gave her the nod just yesterday, to the surprise of no one. She also has the loyalty of over half of the so-called superdelegates. Besides a passionate army of supporters, Bernie has almost none of this. He has amassed a great war chest from individual contributors, but can he ever compete with Clinton’s Vegas buffet of backing from the American corporate ogre? Yes, she has taken some lumps for it in the debates, but in the end it will be a bigger weapon than any.

My prediction is this: Hillary will win Iowa with room to breathe, if not handily. Sanders will take New Hampshire. Hillary will then squeak by in Nevada and then hammer Bernie in South Carolina. Come Super Tuesday (March 1st), she’ll clean up. Sanders will take Vermont and perhaps Massachusetts, but will otherwise get buried. I don’t think he can compete with her in the south. Hillary’s firewall will stand.

Of course I may be dead fucking wrong on this, which wouldn’t make me sad. In 2008 she was leading in all of the polls going into Iowa, and went on to lose to both Obama AND John Edwards in a pathetic 3rd place showing. If I’m going to eat crow I’d prefer it in tacos, which is my preferred delivery system for most anything edible.

As for the GOP? Trump’s going to win the nomination without breaking a sweat. The numbers don’t lie. The more jingoistic hate porn he pukes forth, the more popular he becomes among among the drooling, troglodyte base of the Republican Party. The elites may be horrified, but they’ve cultivated this cesspool over the last two decades, and now they’re going to have to swim in their own shit. As awful as it is, my schadenfreude factor is jumping off the charts on this one.

More on that later. In meantime, break out the vino and popcorn. It’s going to an interesting few weeks.

The Snowman Talks Politics

Jeff-Monson

Jeff “The Snowman” Monson is a world famous mixed martial arts fighter from my hometown of Olympia, Washington. He is a two-time winner of the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship, and a No Gi Brazilian jiu-jitsu World Champion. He has competed in the UFC, PRIDE, Dream, Strikeforce, M-1 Challenge, Sengoku and Impact FC.

Jeff is not just known for his fighting skills: he’s also an outspoken political activist who on more than one occasion has put his money where his mouth is. He is not one to shy away from controversy and generated plenty lately when he became a full fledged Russian citizen, joining boxer Roy Jones Jr. as the other American fighter to embrace the passport of the Great Bear.

I have known Jeff since high school and have spent the last two and half years co-writing a book with him about his life as a fighter, which will be sent out for publication soon. In celebration of this, as well as the launching of this here blog, I shot a few questions about politics his way.

CT: How would you describe yourself, politically? For years you’ve called yourself an anarchist, though lately I’ve heard you describe yourself as a communist. Do you consider these the same thing? Or are you a ‘fuck labels’ kind of guy?

JM: That is the idea of anarchism- you don’t have to fit into a box like other political theories. Instead anarchism shifts and changes to accommodate the people instead. Communism, the idea that the people own the means of production and people are the priority not profits is a key component of anarchism. If you had to use a term to describe my political stance would be “libertarian communism,” which is anarchism.

CT: When did you first start taking in interest in politics and human rights? Did it happen quickly or was it an evolution?

JM: My interest and eventual political activism was definitely a long process. Like most Americans, I was completely unaware of the happenings in the world and US involvement in other countries, as well as the role capitalism played in the enslavement of the masses. A college professor got me interested in politics and society. Traveling exposed me to horrors of absolute poverty and made me start questioning the world economic system.

CT: Do a lot of other fighters embrace politics? Or are you a kind of aberration?

JM: I have obviously met many fighters and I can say from experience there are many very educated and caring fighters. However, because of the nature of the profession–including the long hours, injuries, and infrequent and unsteady pay–most fighters do not involve themselves with political questions.

CT: I know you’ve talked about it a lot lately, but I gotta ask: Why have you become a Russian citizen? 

JM: I became a Russian citizen because I identify with the struggle of the Russian people. The first world social revolution happened in Russia and that is where the fire of socialism still burns, until the citizens of the world become educated and disenfranchised enough with the current system to take part. The people of Russian have shown me unparalleled kindness and generosity and have made me feel like it is my home.

CT: What are your thoughts on the American presidential race, particularly the emergence of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders? Do you think Bernie–who is a democratic socialist–could win? Does his popularity spell good news for the anti-capitalist movement at large?

JM: It’s disturbing that an intolerant racist such as Donald Trump could even be in the running for president. People are conditioned to believe they need some ‘leader,’ otherwise everything would fall into some sort of chaos. We need to realize not only do we the people hold the power, but we know what is best for ourselves and are motivated to make choices that benefit each other, not only a select few. Bernie Sanders has good policies and his priorities are with the people. I think it is a compliment when his rivals call him a ‘socialist.’ However, he doesn’t have the support of his own Democratic Party who depend on contributions from banks and big business, so he will never win the nomination. Saying this, I don’t believe in voting in ‘leaders’ to make decisions that we should make for ourselves.

CT: Do you think you would have gotten involved politically if you didn’t become a fighter? After all, the struggle against oppression is a fight in and of itself. Do the two things fuel each other?

JM: I definitely wouldn’t have gotten this involved politically if i wasn’t a fighter. Most importantly, fighting allowed me the opportunity to travel and see the rest of the world, which was the catalyst in becoming involved with social issues. Also, becoming a fighter and being recognized gave me a platform to talk to others about the discrepancy between the have and have nots and the hypocrisy of the US and other governments.

CT: Do you regret anything you’ve done politically?

JM: I only regret I did not get more involved earlier.

monscops

The Snowman: A Fighting Life will be available via fine booksellers in late 2016.

Band of Blubbers

Anti-Government Protestors Occupy National Wildlife Refuge In Oregon

When Ammon Bundy and his “citizens’ militia” recently took over a couple of buildings at Oregon’s Malheur National Refuge, the revolution they had hoped for failed to catch fire. The masses of armed sympathizers they expected to come trundling down the dirt road to swell their ranks never materialized. Instead, they were roundly savaged. The mockery got so bad that at one point I almost felt sorry for them. Almost. And then, just when the derision was reaching fever pitch, the red hot story faded and spun in circles over the ice of the winter doldrums. With the exception of a few entertaining episodes–a member legging it to the nearest town to booze away donation proceeds, two yahoos arrested for hijacking federal vehicles for a Safeway run, and boxes of dildos threatening to overwhelm their high desert Alamo–not a lot was happening. The whole affair was settling into the inevitable reality of bird sanctuaries the world over: utter boredom.

It appears, however, that the proverbial pooch has now been screwed. Ammon, along with a handful of other supporters, was arrested by the FBI after being pulled over en route to a community meeting in the nearby(ish) town of John Day. What exactly went down is still hazy, but according to reports, “shots were fired.” When the smoke cleared, Ammon’s brother Ryan was wounded in the arm, while another–Robert “LaVoy” Finicum–lay dead.

Finicum’s death is awful, of course, but hardly surprising, given his statements leading up his final blaze of glory, where he basically said that he’d rather be killed than arrested. He was one of the chief spokesmen for the group, first coming to prominence during his now-legendary night interview under a blue tarp. He went on to further notoriety when he complained that the feds had taken away his foster sons at this Arizona ranch, who he nauseatingly described as his “main source of income (so much for rugged western independence).” Soon after he starred in what can only be described as an exploitation porn video where he rifles through stores of Native American artifacts, while paying lip service to the “concerns of the Paiute people,” the dispossessed tribe who have repeatedly condemned the occupation and called for this shower of bozos to leave. You can almost see his turgid member pulsating under his Wranglers as he fondles the sacred items.

As lamentable as Finicum’s mortal perforation is, we must see the silver lining in his ultimate sacrifice. After all, he walked away from a loving wife, along with a huge Arizona ranch filled with fat cows and a steady supply of state sponsored, indentured teenage servants. He looked deeply into his soul and saw that he no choice but to give his life fighting for the miners, loggers, and ranchers of the world. No longer could he stomach to see those poor white corporate interests crushed under the patchouli-scented boot of tree-hugging state oppression. He joined a band of Mormon warriors carrying forth the vision of Joseph Smith, along with the rifles and muscle of Brigham Young. And unlike most, he had the privilege to die doing something he loved: playing at soldier. This, my friends, is something to be celebrated.

The Bundys got what they’ve wanted all along: a martyr. Finicum will be beautified among the tinfoil fringe, but will he become the next Randy Weaver? I doubt it. Weaver may have hated the government (along with Jews and anyone on the brown side of, say, Romanians), but at least he kept to himself. The only thing he was ever guilty of occupying was his own private Ruby Ridge, Idaho: twenty acres and a cabin in the thick of the sticks. Bundy and company crawled out of their dusty sewers and tried to fuck it all up for the rest of us with swagger, half-cooked “sovereign citizen” horseshit, and guns. Lots of guns.

These guys were on their way to John Day to supposedly form a “shadow government.” Their overall objective was to replace all of the elected officials in the area with their own, unelected people, since they reject any authority except their own. That’s right. Somehow, what they say goes, because they’re “from the land.” The rest of us–city slickers and libtards galore– not so much.

The fact that they were so easily caught beggars belief. Sure, there were “shots fired” and a guy did die. But the rest of them gave up. Even hardliner Jon Ritzheimer, who, on his way to Oregon filmed this teary goodbye to his wife and kid, surrendered to authorities in Phoenix. But the question remains: Why did they even leave the area? Did it not occur to them that, once along on a rural highway, the feds just may pounce? Were they lured out? Even so, isn’t the whole point of an armed occupation to fucking occupy? They sure acted dumb all along, but could they really be such colossal mouthbreathers?

There are still plenty of armed men hunkering down in the Malheur Refuge, but the main heads of the hydra have now been severed. These bitter enders may try to ride out the winter, but if I were a betting man, I’d wager my life supply of beef jerky that they’re gonna skedaddle, and that it’s going to happen STAT.

MLK: A Democratic Socialist

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It’s my birthday today, and I’ve decided to celebrate by pounding out yet another missive on my much-abused keyboard. The fact that I’ve chalked up enough years to reach the doughy plateau of middle age is impressive in itself, since despite the caustic array of substances I’ve bombarded my body with during my 45-year tenure on this planet, I’m still here and I feel fine.

I share my birthday with three historically notable human beings: satirical French playwright Molière, who has been a hero of mine since I read The Misanthrope back in high school; former Egyptian strongman and pan-Arab nationalist Gamal Abdel Nasser; and, of course, Martin Luther King Jr., whose birthday is so auspicious that it is observed as a national holiday back home.

In the United States, Martin Luther King Jr. is considered something of a saint; he is spoken of in wistful, lofty tones. I imagine it’s similar to how South Africans view Mandela: all but the most venomous and recalcitrant of racists revere the man. In school we are taught to venerate MLK and most of us gladly oblige. This extends to politicians on all edges of the spectrum. They tear up and bow when they hear his name and then, of course, attempt to claim his legacy. Like Washington or Lincoln, MLK is one of those American figures who long ago ceased to be treated as an actual human being. He has been sculpted into a kind of immaculate statue–a historical demigod –and in the process his actual words, deeds, and objectives have become whitewashed.

MLK first came to national prominence in 1955 when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the seminal event of the Civil Rights Movement, but he is best known for his “I Have a Dream” speech during the March On Washington in 1963, which has been replayed and quoted ad nauseam. After all who couldn’t agree with the sentiments he makes in that speech? I too believe people people should be judged “not on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character.” I too would love to see a day when “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls.” Wouldn’t we all? Who could be against that?

The “I Have a Dream” MLK is the version white Americans love to celebrate– the great, peaceful, bringer-together of the races that somehow makes us feel better about ourselves. We love the nonviolent, Christian MLK, with his references to Jesus and frequent admonishments to turn the other cheek. Why? Because this version is so safe. He never really threatens our privilege. We watch footage of those Southern cracker cops blasting marchers with water cannons and siccing German Shepherds on unarmed protesters and we pat ourselves on the back. Even though we’re white, we identify with the oppressed. Enough time has passed for history to clearly judge who was right and who was wrong, and we know which side of the line we’d like to be on. We would never root for those awful hick sheriffs. Those were other people, bad people, not us. If we were there we’d be marching right along side MLK, wouldn’t we?

As much as we love the cumbaya “We Shall Overcome” MLK, the later stage, more militant version of the man is too often ignored. This, of course, is no accident, since this MLK is much harder for many Americans to embrace, given that he loudly called out and challenged the crimes of our government in Vietnam while also condemning the engine behind such crimes: capitalism itself.

“Capitalism has often left a gulf between superfluous wealth and abject poverty, has created conditions permitting necessities to be taken from the many to give luxuries to the few, and has encouraged small-hearted men to become cold and conscienceless..”

“The evils of capitalism are as real as the evils of militarism and evils of racism.”

Not only did he evolve into a firm anti-capitalist; he also argued for something more:

“I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective—the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.”

“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all of God’s children.”

If the words out of the man’s mouth don’t convince you of his socialist heart, consider his actions. During his final days King was in the midst of organizing the Poor People’s Campaign, a movement to demand economic and human rights to poor Americans of all racial backgrounds. In fact,at the time of his assassination, he was in Memphis to lend his support to the Sanitation Workers’ Strike. The rights of workers and economic equality for all had become central to his identity by that point. His Christian beliefs, plus the lessons learned from his struggles throughout the whole of the Civil Rights Movement had led him to continue fighting as a democratic socialist. His stance on these issues could not be clearer: he threw himself into battle and was killed in the line of duty.

Conservatives in America reviled Martin Luther King Jr. while he lived. Some of these guys were Republicans and others were Democrats–mostly of the southern variety–but they hated the man and were very happy to see him murdered. Of course this all is forgotten in our modern day mad rush to canonize MLK. Everyone wants a piece of him and are twisting history to achieve their ends. Most nauseating is the execrable claim by many on the right that King was actually a Republican. This is complete garbage, of course, but that hasn’t stopped legions of bloviating talk radio troglodytes from repeating this lie to their gullible listeners, who then parrot it on comments threads throughout the sewers of the internet. In the walnut brain of the modern right-wing American, up is down and black is white: “Martin Luther King Jr. was actually a conservative!” They live in a Bizarro world of hate, paranoia, and misinformation. The tripe they consume and puke back up as fact is nothing short of insane.

MLK, however, was not insane. He saw the obscene injustice and inequality of America through the lens of both race and class, and his very reasonable reaction was to constantly fight against it, which he did to great effect. So let us remember him in full scope, as a two-fisted soldier fighting on behalf the weak and powerless. I am proud to share my birthday with such a man, though sadly here in Korea we don’t get the Monday off.

The Most Punchable Face in America

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Ted Cruz. Ugh. He’s just the worst. He’s so bad that he makes Donald Trump appear to have traces of human DNA. Just look at that smarmy, rubber scrotum of a face. He always looks like he just took a big bite of a chimichanga filled with Rottweiler shit, yet he chokes it all down and feigns a smile, like he’s just about to sell you an old Ford Pinto that hasn’t been driven since its gas tank exploded and killed a family of four.

Ted Cruz. His ambition is fathomless. Nothing will stand in his way on his frenzied sprint to more power and notoriety. He will torch every bridge behind him; he will stab every exposed back with rusty fondue forks and throw quadriplegics under careening buses to get ahead. He would kick his own mother in the teeth and do the butterfly stroke through a swimming pool filled with horse come if he thought it would gain him five extra points in next week’s Zogby poll. Fucks are not given; shame is not had.

Unlike others in the GOP clown car, Ted Cruz cannot be accused of being a dullard. His intelligence is beyond question. He just chooses to use it for evil. Sure, he panders to every gullible, Jesus-loving thicko in the spangly leather strip of the Bible Belt, but I don’t believe for a minute that he dines on the same dumbed-down pablum that he tosses out for them. Ted Cruz is only interested in one thing, and that’s Ted Cruz. His objectives are neither complicated nor lofty. His screaming, fevered ego must be nurtured at all costs. It’s insatiable, and keeping it fed is a full time job.

Don’t just take my word for it. The man is reviled by most everyone who has had the misfortune to work with him, including his fellow Republicans in the Senate. He has left a mangled, scorched trail in his wake, with those left behind spitting venom at his name. He was so insufferable in law school that he refused to study with anyone who hadn’t graduated from Yale, Harvard, or Princeton. He attended two of those three and is a sitting United States senator. On top of that, his wife is an investment banker for Goldman Sachs, yet he constantly positions himself as ‘an outsider.’ Anyone who buys such a laughable conceit has to be high on spray paint.

Ted Cruz is nothing if not persistent, so much so that he’s used his talons to claw his way into second place in the GOP polls. His pandering to the evangelical “the Earth is 6,000 years old” crowd has worked, but there appears to be chinks in his suit of pig fat and pomade armor. Just two days back a law scholar penned an editorial in the Washington Post detailing why he is ineligible for the presidency (not a ‘natural born’ citizen). And today we see more damning revelations: Apparently Teddy boy failed to disclose up to 1 million dollars in loans he took out from Goldman Sachs (surprise, surprise) to finance his 2012 Senate campaign. This could land the King of Smirk into some hot water, though I’m sure he’ll use his malevolent powers of law to wriggle his way out like the diseased eel that he is.

Ted Cruz in cuffs would be a splendid vision to behold, but even if he walks, I’d still pay a hundred bucks to see someone cold cock that face.

Surging Bernie

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I’ve been watching Bernie Sanders’ run at the Democratic nomination from across the Pacific for some months now and am gobsmacked at just how big he’s become. Perhaps I’ve been out of the country for too long, but I confess to viewing his candidacy through a bloodshot, jaundiced eye. Of course I support him and most everything he stands for, but I found it beyond the frontiers of credulity that a gesticulating, wild-haired, raving Jewish socialist could break out of say, the two percentage range, polling wise. I figured he’d electrify the patchouli and drum circle set, but in the end be relegated to the sad confines of Ralph Nader Land.

So far I’ve been wrong, and let’s just say I’m fucking stoked.

This week saw Bern Nation presented with some very good news: The grumpy senator from Vermont has pulled ahead of Hillary Clinton in Iowa, according to a major poll. He already leads in New Hampshire–which is no surprise, since it’s basically his back yard–but Sanders busting out in Iowa is huge. These are the first two states to pick the lead horse and if Sanders takes them both it would cripple Hillary’s already bleeding campaign. I wrote last week how she’s becoming toxic and it’s just getting worse. We all know that she carries stacks of baggage, only now they’re emitting Chernobyl-like levels of radiation. The public senses this, and each day more presumed Hillary supporters are tearing away and joining Bernie’s posse. I never thought I’d say it, but he’s beginning to look like a winner. Most of my political discussions with folks back home happen on Facebook, and I can only count ONE person out of over 1,500 friends who openly and enthusiastically backs Hillary Clinton. That’s it. As General Zod (played by the brilliant Terence Stamp) bellows out in Superman 2: “IS THERE NO ONE???”

Not only is Bernie surfing atop these polls, but he also picked up the endorsement of MoveOn, one of the the biggest lefty organisations in America. According to the statement, 78.6 percent of its membership in an online vote of more than 340,000 members cast their lot for Mr. Sanders. Hillary netted a paltry 14.6. While this endorsement is no surprise, it shows just how solid and deep his support is among American progressives.

What is surprising however, is the praise that Bernie is picking up from other quarters. Just yesterday Vice President Joe Biden threw some serious accolades Bernie’s way, commending him for his persistent fight against inequality, while criticizing Hillary as a Johnny-come-lately to the issue. Not only is Joe Biden a heartbeat away from the Oval Office, he’s a major Democratic power broker, and despite his reputation for a freewheeling tongue, he knows that every word he says will be recorded and analyzed; his bestowing of favor upon Sanders marks a distinct shifting of the winds in the Democratic Party.

That said, Hillary still has caverns filled with cash, battalions of muckraking minions, along with the corporate ogres on her side, who are the real gatekeepers to power. She still leads massively in South Carolina (along with the rest of Dixie), though early defeats could shake up those numbers in a jiffy. Her campaign has also kept its distance from Sanders up until now, treating him as an amusing, half-senile uncle that is not to be taken seriously. But now she’s beginning to co-opt his issues that play well (no doubt triple focus group engineered) while at the same time digging up dirt and flinging shit.

Will Bernie steal Iowa and New Hampshire right out of the gate? We have a little over two weeks until things kick off, but the mood online, at least, gives him the edge. This may be the year where actual democracy triumphs in the race for the Democratic nomination, where substance, issues, and integrity win out over dynasty, money, and raw power.

The general election is a whole other movie, however. If Bernie Sanders does manage to snag the nod from the Democratic Party, he will face a sulfurous Hellmouth of fear-mongering, smears, and red-baiting from a moneyed class so determined to keep him out of the White House that their zeal will resemble blood lust. It will be ugly, and worst of all, it could work.

Hillary in the Pillory

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She’s got the name and the money. She’s got the experience and machinery. She’s got the gravitas and–most importantly–she’s got that unmistakable whiff of inevitablitiy… or does she?

Hillary Clinton is in trouble, and it’s much more than her utter lack of likeability. A couple of thorny snags have cropped up this week that could wrap around her cankles and trip her up before she crosses the finish line of the Democratic nomination.

The first is a ghost from campaigns past. Does then name Juanita Broaddrick ring a bell? Well it should: she has long accused Bill Clinton of raping her back in 1978 when he was governor of Arkansas. Now, enlisted by shadowy anti-Clinton forces, she’s repeating her claim with the aid of a very loud right-wing megaphone.

Now we all know that Bill Clinton is an unrepentant horndog; he’s an ass grabber and a chubby chaser of the highest order. His unbridled lust is printed in the fabric of his DNA–not to mention the fabric of a certain blue dress– yet we mostly forgive him for it because of his off-the-charts charm and intellectual gifts. But is he a rapist?

Rumors of his sexual crimes have swirled in the right wing media for years, with some liberals even picking up the pitchfork and torch. I recall the late Christopher Hitchens doing just that on Pacifica Radio in LA in the early 2000’s, vehemently blasting Bubba as a ‘serial rapist.’ Such charges have never been proven, but at the very least we know he is a lifelong adulterer and probably worse, yet so many of us look the other way. He’s just that strong of a force.

Where does Hillary fit in all of this? She certainly cannot be held responsible for the sins of her husband, but she can share culpability in covering them up: Broadderick says that Hillary tried to silence her. To add more shit to the pile, Hillary has painted herself into a corner with regard to her position on how we should deal with alleged victims of sexual assault. The former First Lady/Senator/Secretary of State recently tweeted,”Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported.” When asked just two weeks later how this squares up with the accusations against Bill made by Broaddrick and others, Hillary said,”Well, I would say that everyone should be believed at first until they are disbelieved based on evidence.”

Uh-oh.

While Broadderick’s claim has never been proven with evidence, it never has been unproven either. According to Clinton’s standard, we should then take her claims at face value. That makes Bubba a rapist until proven otherwise, which cannot be good news for her campaign.

As sticky as this situation is, I have a feeling that Hillary will slither her way out. No amount of slithering will save her from federal indictment, though. Conservative outlets have been rumbling with rumors and outright claims that the federal prosecutor is ready to hand down multiple indictments as a result of her ongoing email scandal. Other sources maintain that it’s all a ruse on behalf of the FBI, but any truth to these whisperings could prove fatal to her presidential ambition.

This is all good news for Bernie, who is leading in New Hampshire and pulling closer in Iowa, though his joy could be short lived: a Clinton-less race could open up the possibility of a late entrance by Vice President Joe Biden, who, when asked about his decision not to run just two days ago, replied with, “I regret it every day.”

Let’s just hope that Clinton goes soon. Despite her experience and fortitude, she’s become a liability. Even if she survives these pitfalls in one relative piece, the fact remains that people just don’t like her, and that alone could hand the Presidency to the GOP come next November, and that’s something none of us can afford.

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