The 60 Minutes Piece Is Shelved…Indefinitely

Well, I go away for a couple of days and now we have letter bombs going to Democrats, including the two previous Democratic presidents, and CNN…the press, Trump’s #1 “Enemy of the People”.

Thank God none of the bombs went off. But there could be more bombs, and we don’t know who’s doing this. And this is happening less than TWO WEEKS before the midterms, during the most divisive political period I can remember, where every dirty trick in the book is being trotted out to keep power in the hands of the minority ruling party (voter suppression, race baiting, xenophobia). It’s fucked up. I can’t process it.

My two cents on this start with addressing any conspiracy theorists that call this a “false flag” or “spoof” attack (because none of the bombs detonated) and anyone who seeks to minimize the importance of this historic terror attack. If you minimize it, you are complicit with it, period, and you deserve to be harshly rebuked…as a fool or an immoral propagandist.

Trump read his prepared statement condemning the attack, and I know and believe he is against this kind of murderous terror violence.

However, Trump has repeatedly called for, or justified, violence towards, and the legal prosecution of, his political rivals, or really anyone he deems to be against him. He dehumanizes and falsely attributes malevolence to his rivals. He has a cult following of people who live in a world of “Alternative Facts” and self-justified LYING. They are lying for a cause, so they accept the lies and accept the enemies list.

Bottom line, Trump, with his cult-of-personality as a “strong” man who “punches back” and as a President who lauds people who violently physically attack his opposition, sows the seeds of violence with his irresponsible rhetoric.

The thing about a violent action is that, once it starts, it cannot always be controlled and its consequences can be chain reactional, unintended and permanent (like death or maiming… and I don’t like either of those things, personally).

It takes just one person to think they are understanding Trump’s “code” better than anyone else to start this chain of events that we are now on and can not pretend to see the end of.

Is it so hard to do the math and see murderous violence is inevitable?

Do you think this will get better without a major change?

How fucked are we? (…pretty fucked)

The entire Republican Party leadership, in their refusal to officially censure Trump for the irresponsible handling of his office and his reckless and dangerous rhetoric, are digging a deep hole of moral bankruptcy…of immorality. Immoral behavior solely focused on holding on to the reins of power, no matter the cost. In light of these events, the cost is becoming more and more clear.

To put it in the vernacular…“It’s bad, really bad.”

And none of fundamentals of this equation are going to change unless we “Flip the House”.

So, yes, please VOTE for the most-likely-to-win non-Republican candidates…if you can.

(Warning…at this point the piece gets kind of “tangenty”…but it’s from the heart.)

Oh, by the way, I just want you to know that all this chaos, it’s the perfect environment for the wealth class to run their game of consolidating capital to more deeply entrench the wealth gap (for example, that sham of a tax overhaul). Us common people are being set up for the next big ripoff (yeah, based on cycles, we’re due for a recession..so look forward to that). Just watch.

Republicans need to take the bench for a good long while, to make room for someone with ideas on getting capital out of the hands of the hoarders and into the hands of the citizenry…So we all don’t feel so insecure…So every institution isn’t so underfunded and beleaguered…So we’re not all so primed to fall for the first snake-oil salesman who comes into town…So we don’t become so invested in the snake-oil salesman’s lies that we plot to murder the doctor. You know, the “Doctor”, the one who wants to use practical, proven means to “treat the patient”. I mean shit. I don’t even trust the doctor, but I’d rather take my chances with him…That’s some overwrought metaphor, huh? Woof!!

Look, if some of the wealth class don’t like paying American taxes they can fucking go. They can get the fuck out (and feel free to take Trump with them). They can go back to wherever they came from, or whatever country they are using as their tax shelter…But if they want to live in America, and be Americans, and enjoy our privileges, they have to PAY IN, period.

We have to fix this wealth gap problem or we are fucked…we’ll be looking back on these letter bomb days wistfully.

In closing, fuck the bomber and the toxic ideologies that inspired him.

This is gonna be a tough couple of weeks.

VOTE!!

Trump on 60 Minutes, a Rebuttal: Part 1

Note – I began this longpiece last Thursday and haven’t been able to find the time to get back to it since. So I decided to serialize it to get this first part out now. I’m not sure when I’ll have the free time to finish it. Hopefully soon?…

Leslie Stahl interviewed Donald Trump (aka #PresidentShithead) on 60 Minutes, broadcast on October 14th 2018. I watched it and it caused me so much stress that it made me feel physically ill. It gave me a migraine. I cannot believe that so many people in this country align themselves with this toxic, lying, hateful, corrupt megalomaniac. It shows a real failure in American culture.

I have been forced to observe and live with these faults in our culture for my entire life. And on some level I’m okay with it. I have to be to function. Nothing is perfect. I forced myself to believe these issues were manageable. But Goddamn when you are in the midst of a backslide of this order you really have to wonder where we’re going…and then…if you’re like me, you get a stress headache.

To “set the table”, I love America, but I am not a jingoistic robot. I am not a political animal. I do not align with at political party. I have been a nonconformist my entire life, not to be a contrarian, but because I am a skeptic. I am an observer. I analyze. I research. I accept scientific consensus. I accept empirical fact. But when it comes to cultural, religious, economic and political theory and orthodoxy I question deeply.

To my mind, anyone who even has thumbnail sketch of an understanding of human history should be right there with me…but they are not. In fact the vast majority are not. Why? Because the vast majority of people are conformists.

Conformity is the human condition that allows you to believe in supernatural forces through group think. It allows people to put aside all reason in order to live within a protective blanket of orthodoxy. It’s “In God we trust” (whatever your “God” is). It is a human survival instinct. I don’t even think it is all bad, per se. For example, I want people to come together as communities and share rituals. It’s just when those rituals, at one time, included public extrajudicial executions, I, personally, have to question the foundations of our culture…and I will. I want to look at it as objectively as I can. I want to embrace what I value in it and disregard or fight the rest.

Truth be told, America has a very spotty past (institutionalized slavery, genocide, racism, colonialism, subjugation of women, eugenics, environmental degradation…I could go on). Honest historians will always say that the USA represents an “experiment” in “small ‘l’ liberalism” through democracy (as in the experiment is still ongoing). That even though, at the outset, this liberty was only afforded to an elite (white, male property owners), that over time it was extended to all (at least on a Federal law level). In fact, liberty for all was not truly protected under federal law until the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This was 188 years after Thomas Jefferson wrote:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

As you know, Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner until the day he died.

So, yeah, spotty past, high ideals. Bottom line, fifty-four years ago, in 1964, our federal government finally came through and made these high ideals law. Fifty-four years is a blink. Don’t get too comfortable.

All this liberal protection…it can end. It can end just like that [snaps fingers]. “We the people” have to manage it. We have to protect it. We have to understand it and believe in it’s value. We have to share it…even with people we hate (through prejudice or life experience). We have to share it even with people who use it and yet still want to destroy it. We have to protect it in spite of them. And most importantly, we have to pay into it. All of us…even rich (or poor) Libertarian assholes.

I’ve said it before, we are living in the afterglow of the post WWII boom. Our current American society, our current American culture, our infrastructure, our iFucks…they are all birthed from Great Depression followed by an even Greater World War. We won. Even better, because we didn’t have to fight the war here, all of our great cities and factories weren’t firebombed to rubble like they were over there. All we had to do after the war was not be Nazis, create a global order, make money and innovate. We heavily taxed the rich, paid off the war debt and built the infrastructure for the suburban “reality” that I grew up in.

It seems like it should have gone on forever, but entropy being what it is, it didn’t.

For people older than me, the Vietnam War was where the “post-war dream” started to show signs of wear. And that lead to the Reagan era, where “trickle down economics” meant protecting the rich from taxation and regulation.

As for taxes, I’m just gonna say it…Bottom line…If we don’t tax and control the wealth class this “post-war dream” world the common man is living in is going to die. If you want it dead, I guess that’s your prerogative. Just be aware of the alternative. That’s all I ask. It may not be all it’s cracked up to be. We might be looking at its beginnings right now.

Now regulation is a complicated thing and it can go too far, but when it gets painted with the broad brush of “regulation is bad for business” I’m not buying it. Regulation exists to protect the common man and his natural environment from sociopathic sharks (i.e., a certain class of “businessmen”).

So, I wasn’t really here for Vietnam. I was a child and adolescent in the Reagan era. In my lifetime, I saw the “post-war dream” get its stress test in our society’s response to 9/11.

The 9/11 attack was a terrible, unforgivable crime and war was inevitable. I am not a pacifist. That said, the invasion of Iraq was not justified, period. Our government, military and intelligence communities normalization of torture and blatant war profiteering made a mockery of everything I came to believe about post-WWII America. It was at this point that I became an enemy of the Republican party. I never liked them up to that point. I knew they were just a haven for the selfish, racist and superstitious. But when their party leadership fought for torture, I determined they were malevolent and I swore I would never vote Republican at any level.

Then there was the great recession of 2008. Here we saw an unregulated wealth class (thanks Reaganomics) basically pull off one of the greatest financial crimes of all time, just basically ripping of the retirement savings of any common people who were in the position to have retirement savings in any kind of market account. And these thieves…they got away scot-free. A few low level scapegoats were hassled, but no one of any note was prosecuted. Our government, having lost complete control of the situation and in an attempt to avert total economic catastrophe, just printed new money to bail out these “market geniuses”.

Truth be told, a lot of the economic suffering and wage stagnation today’s American common people are suffering can be traced to Reaganomics, the War on Terror and the Great Recession. We lost a lot of ground there. We lost a lot of revenue and momentum that could have be spent on infrastructure, education, healthcare, eldercare…Who’d we lose it to? Rich assholes, that’s who.

But you’d be had pressed getting anywhere talking about it. Who would listen?

And this is just my little superficial observation. I could dig and dig and go on forever…but I came here to write about what our President, The President on the United States of America, is talking about. I just wanted you to know where I’m coming from before I dive into the, as I said before, literally sickening interview I watched last Sunday, several weeks before we pick our new government.

What she didn’t ask

First, I want to mention what Leslie Stahl didn’t ask about, the New York Times article about the Trump family’s tax fraud scheme. The article outlines how Trump, over the course of his career as a “businessman”, received hundreds of millions of dollars, tax free, from his father. This puts the lie to his bullshit backstory about how he was a self made man and explains why he will never willingly release his tax records. He was born wealthy and has spent his entire life dodging his tax obligations to this country, even to the point of committing fraud (as outlined in the NYT article).

I feel like this subject would have been worth a few moments of time in the interview. Even though he would have just dismissed it as “lies” and “fake news”, I think it would have been nice to see it addressed on camera, one-to-one. After all, these taxes the wealthy like Trump are dodging, if they were paid, that would be helpful to keep that “post-war dream” thing (that thing I seem to care so goddamn much about) going on…It would be nice if we had a leader a little more tied into the concept of embracing their citizen’s obligations to the betterment of all…just sayin’…moving on…

So what did they talk about. I took notes…

Hurricane Michael/Climate Change

Stahl asks about climate change. Trump, of course, is a denier. Why? Because of business interests, of course. There are still a lot of hydrocarbons left to dig up, process, burn and send into the air. Stopping now would be unfair to the robber barons.

On the Business:

President Donald Trump: I don’t wanna give trillions and trillions of dollars. I don’t wanna lose millions and millions of jobs. I don’t wanna be put at a disadvantage.

This is a oil/coal/gas company lie. Energy jobs are energy jobs, be they pollution creating or environment saving. This is just trump siding with the robber barons.

On climate change:

President Donald Trump: Something’s changing and it’ll change back again.

This is just stupid. Melted glaciers and drained aquifers don’t “change back”. What a lying asshole.

On the scientific consensus:

President Donald Trump: We have scientists that disagree with that.

One of Trump’s tropes is stating there are undefined “people” who support his positions. This is a lazy salesman technique. We all know he is pulling this out of his ass. We also all know that climate change denial scientists are right there on the same level with the doctors who said unfiltered Lucky Strikes cigarettes help to clear out the lungs.

On the “political agenda” of climate change scientists:

President Donald Trump: They say that we had hurricanes [in the distant past] that were far worse than what we just had with Michael.

Lesley Stahl: Who says that? “They say”?

President Donald Trump: People say. People say that in the–

Lesley Stahl: Yeah, but what about the scientists who say it’s worse than ever?

President Donald Trump: You’d have to show me the scientists because they have a very big political agenda, Lesley.

This exchange is just bizarre. Here we have Trump doing the “people say” when producing a fresh batch of “shitformation” from his ass. To which Stahl challenges to ask who the “they” he’s talking about are. The honest answer is, of course, that he is caught is a lie (because he is constantly lying) so he pivots to making the unfounded accusation (another lie) that climate change scientists have “a very big political agenda”.

So let me get this straight. Scientists are the enemy of the people, too? Bullshit! These scientists have an environmental agenda, in that they are trying to protect it. Trump and his donors have a economic agenda, in that they want to sell fossil fuels to make money regardless of the toll it is taking on the environment and the global population.

Since the industrial revolution mankind has been challenged with balancing economic factors, natural resources and environmental protection, related to mass production and mass energy consumption. All over the world governments and political parties are on board with the idea that these things must be better managed (maybe even, dare I say, regulated… as in the Paris Accord that Trump pulled out of) as they are having a scientifically proven direct and detrimental effect on our atmosphere (detrimental to the living conditions of human beings…rocks will be okay).

The Koch Brothers and their ilk can give a shit, they just want to make big money. They want to have power. They want to have total control over their big business of fracking the world into a toxic wasteland…just so long as they can have a picturesque ranch in some remote area that isn’t affected too badly. They are Libertarians which means they do not believe in anything outside of self interest.

Libertarians…they don’t trust you, they don’t care about you, they just want to use you, and once your utility is exhausted, they will discard you. Why do they feel this way? Because they are cynics. They know they are under threat of people who share their world view and want to be the master, no matter the cost to society. They do not believe in the collective good. They want to exercise their “freedom”, their “liberty”, by being immoral, selfish grabbers who give nothing back. It is a toxic, and, in my opinion, un-American philosophy. But there is good money in it apparently.

Because the US political system does not firewall robber barons like the Kochs from buying political influence we have a compromised government who deny the science because they are paid to deny it. They claim moving away from fossil fuels is “too expensive” and “bad for the economy” because they are paid to.

Bottom line, environmental protection is a responsibility more than it is a political issue. The real political issue here is the corruption created by robber baron lobbying and dark campaign money flowing into the United States political system. And now, with the Supreme Court stacked with “Federalist” asswipes, don’t expect this to change anytime soon.

I just want a President that isn’t such as willful dipshit about this…Next.

Jamal Khashoggi (i.e., executing journalists)

This is another one for the books. This fucking Saudi prince. What’s his name? DJ Khaled? He plotted to have this “US resident” dissident journalist Khashoggi tortured and murdered in the Saudi consulate in Turkey. It was just the most bumbling, ham-fisted, keystones cops straight-up MURDER you can imagine a spoiled little shithead brat and his “court” could have cooked up.

Saudi Arabia is a brutal, repressive monarchy, which holds public executions, and where atheism, homosexuality, blasphemy and adultery are capital crimes punishable by death.

America has this long-standing, ridiculous, compromised marriage of convenience with Saudi Arabia because we have a common enemy, Iran. It’s fucked up. It’s always been fucked up. I’ll give you an example of how fucked up it is. The 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia…the US invaded Iraq. See? It’s fucked up.

Anyway somehow, this prince, he got it in his head that he is so tight with Trump and buttboy Jared that he has some sort of get-out-of-jail-free-card to MURDER green card carrying US residents who write for the Washington Post. That is some assumption, huh?

The optics aren’t helped by this whole “the press are the enemy of the people” bullshit that asshole Trump as been peddling for over a year now (I’ve always said he should be impeached for making those statements alone).

Anyway, Trump and the prince are working on their cover story (imagine the brain power there…you could power a potato) to try to minimize the fallout from this TORTURE and MURDER plot. You know, so they can get back to doing the sabre dance and touching the glowing globe. It is SICK, just SICK.

In the interview Trump cried about the threat the TRUTH about this CRIME has become to his precious ARMS DEAL with the Saudis. Ya know, because when a foreign government shows you that they are lead by immoral murderers, your first instinct should be to sell them as many high grade weapons as they can possibly buy. For economic reasons of course…so it’s good to know we’re thinking straight on BOTH world peace AND the environment. Sleep well at night.

In the interview, Trump repeated the Saudi denial. Said it was made “Strongly”. Of course that denial was a lie and attempt at a cover up which immediately fell apart (BIG surprise).

Trump said he didn’t want to “hurt jobs” by backing out of the arms deal. I’m going to cry a river thinking about the Military Industrial Complex taking a hit. God knows they get such a small slice of our tax revenue to eke out their existence. Trump then warned us Russia and China would grab the deal “Everyone wanted that order.”…I say let them have it.

This whole scenario just highlights that Trump is a garbage human and a garbage example to our youngest generation. He is a criminal and sociopath who has no compassion for other human beings. This dead journalist is just an impediment to his narrative. Trump’s first instinct is to have surrogates smear Khashoggi and try to wait out the news cycle. So for now we’ll just get his “nobody knows for sure” dodge until they stop asking…I hope they don’t stop asking, because this is unacceptable…and the more he helps in the coverup the more complicit he is in the crime…the more blood is on his tiny hands.

End of Part One

To be continued…

Unicorn Steaks

Yesterday, I witnessed two things that I will never forget. One was harrowing and terrifying – the other inspirational beyond anything I have ever had the honor to have witnessed.

Bad news first

If you know me, then you’ll undoubtedly know the first event (the harrowing one) was watching #PresidentShithead’s joint press conference with Putin in Helsinki. After a week of setting fire to the NATO alliance and the Special Relationship, yesterday, #PS [aka Trump], with the whole world watching, willfully spread misinformation denying Russia’s very real cyber attack on the United States.

In doing so he went against, and publicly betrayed, our institutions of national defense and US law enforcement. He instead sided with the murderous, lying despot standing next to him. A dictator who is actively leading an attack on America, via cyber warfare, to undermine and corrode our DEMOCRACY and world influence.

We now add this offense to the list of impeachable offenses #PS has committed. Offenses the Republican congress won’t act on…but instead will allow to be forgiven and “normalized”.

I just want to take this moment to send a heartfelt message to my Republican brothers out there…Sorry. I don’t think we can give him a “mulligan” on this one, boys. This really is the end of the road and the end of this Presidency. Accept it, it’s over. As you like to say, “There are winners and losers”. Well, you picked a big fucking loser. Time to flush the bowl before you get any more shit on your hands. Kapeesh?

Nuff said about that for today.

Now the good news

SO YEAH it was the “worst of times”. But then something else happened yesterday that was maybe the most inspirational thing I have ever seen, in person, in my entire life. The most inspirational thing I have probably ever been a part of (even if only in a peripheral way). And I’m not fucking exaggerating! It was real life drama played out with real stakes and, when it was all done, it made be believe in America. It made me believe not that we are the best, but that we can be the best if we do our best. If we do our best for each other, especially when we need each other. If we can change our hearts through empathy, when it counts, we can achieve anything. I saw it happen right before my eyes and it was radiant, and I will, for one, never be the same.

[So I’m going to write my story about what happened…and it’s going to be long. With an exceedingly long tangential lead in . It will hopefully be goodish…but, fur sure, it’s going to be looong. If you just want to just skip ahead to the actual event, scroll down to “The Event”…but you’re missing out if you do…just sayin’. – Ed.]

I officially moved to Visalia, California to be with my wife, then my girlfriend, back in 2010. She, having secured a good job as an elementary school teacher, was able to buy a house in her lifetime hometown at a good price (it was bottom market, mid-Great Recession) and invited me to move in (Even though we were not married. A SCANDAL!). This was the beginning of the rest of my life. My life is with Jenny. And so I have adopted this new hometown, Visalia.

I grew up in Thousand Oaks, California, where my parents and siblings still live. When my parents bought their house in Thousand Oaks in the mid 70s it was a different place than it is today. My father had brought the family across the country from Farmingdale, Long Island, New York for a new job and a change. As an electrical engineer, his work and work opportunities were closer to Los Angeles, but he wanted to live in a suburb, like Farmingdale was a suburb to NYC.

He looked at buying in the San Fernando Valley, but thought the lots and houses seemed small, the communities dingy and packed together. He looked a little further out and found Thousand Oaks, sure it was a longer commute, but the houses and lots were bigger and, EVEN BETTER, CHEAPER. We ended up in a beautiful, idyllic home in the Wildwood development next to the Jewel of Thousand Oaks, Wildwood Regional Park.

I wish I could say my family story was altogether idyllic, but it wasn’t. That’s a story for another day.

I loved my hometown. But, over the years, it became strange to me. It grew in ways I didn’t want to see it grow. Between the influence of Hollywood Royalty overflow and the assent of pharmaceutical giant Amgen’s campus (along with many other factors) the cost of living in Thousand Oaks exploded. It became more congested. Also, the superficiality of the Hollywood-esque culture there, always a problem, became more and more pronounced, to the point that I felt no desire to kill myself trying to find the money for the high buy-in and the cost of living.

The Thousand Oaks I knew was gone anyway. Wildwood Fort gone. Geppetto’s gone. When I hiked in Wildwood Park, all I could see on the horizon was the encroaching housing developments metastasizing off of the Amgen campus. I remember developers wanted to parcel off the beautiful entrance to Wildwood Park, an open field under a majestic skyline of bluffs (made famous in many Westerns) to turn it into a golf course. And it almost happened. Thank God the residents rose up and put a stop to it…And that little slice of history kind of dovetails into yesterday’s events. Which, I swear, I’ll get back to.

Anyway when Jenny introduced me to Visalia it was kind of like someone turned back the clock on Thousand Oaks. It had that isolated and small, but well managed and bustling air about it that felt like home to me, much more than modern day Thousand Oaks. And there is no Amgen here, and our Hollywood overflow was miles away in Three Rivers (that’s a joke BTW). It just felt right.

Are there issues? Yes! We are in Central Valley ag-land so politics run red here. This area is a strong enclave for the racist tea party movement. We have a high percentage of Fox-News-watching, Limbaughtomized, water-rights-obsessed, gun-loving growers (their partners, advocates and allies) out here. Sure they don’t mind the free water, marketing agreements and subsidies that made it all happen for them, but they hate the “big government” that provides it.

And then you have our US congressional rep, Devin Nunes, who works full time debasing himself in a campaign to protect the aforementioned treasonous President. If you think #PS’s behavior gives anyone in Central Cali pause know this, in our recent jungle primary Nunes defeated his democratic opponent Andrew Janz by over 26%. So yeah…there’s that. And that’s a problem…for me.

And, honestly, that aspect of the local culture has been getting me down about my new hometown a lot. Especially in light of the political and cultural divisiveness we are all coping with and hoping will end and not worsen.

The Event

So with a little bit of dread and in this mix, earlier this year, I became aware of the threat to our local children’s non-profit theatre company, the Enchanted Playhouse. They do a hell of a lot of good for the children of this community with very little. They are on the verge of getting kicked out of their home, the Main Street Theatre, which they leased from the city of Visalia, who seem determined to sell it out from underneath them. Without a dedicated theater, the Enchanted Playhouse company will not survive and without the central downtown location they will lose their prominent placement in the identity of the community.

Last night, the Visalia City Council meeting had on its agenda the vote that would determine the immediate fate of the Main Street Theater Redevelopment and, in so, the fate of its tenants, the Enchanted Playhouse Company.

On paper, it was not looking good for the Enchanted Playhouse. Basically, months ago a bid was accepted by the city from a developer to convert the centrally located downtown theatre landmark (somewhat rundown) into some restaurants. It was all “by the books” but it was also a bit underhanded in the way it was carried out (because the city was not reaching out to Enchanted Playhouse). Any way you looked at it, this was a situation where the city council, by law, had the right to move ahead with the redevelopment, and the theatre company would be hard pressed to do anything about it, without having to get into a big legal battle it could not afford. These are volunteers; no one is making any big time money off this deal. And it’s the money that seems to be the thing causing the confusion.

To keep the background short, there was a time about 14 years ago when the city and the city council went to bat for the company, big time, getting them set up in the location and fighting for it legally. The city spent a lot of money. In return, Enchanted Playhouse, did their part and produced, in a hardscrabble time (they got through the Great Recession) as unpaid volunteers, quality children’s theatre that incorporated local children into the productions. They did this and paid rent to the city. Did I mention that children’s theater non-profits don’t make crazy money? I did, okay.

They presented their productions to the public and schools from all around would bus their students in to see them. It spread culture and joy. It created a farm-team for local live performance talent. But most importantly, it was a haven for artistic children, an extended loving family for these creative, emotional, sensitive kids.

Take my wife [, please! – Ed.], she saw the plays as a child and started performing in them at 18. Knowing my wife as you never will, you can not measure the importance and influence this company had on her life, even as a young adult. How it built her confidence up and inspired her to do other things. How it connected her to new friends who shared her interest in the dramatic arts and who encouraged her to act more and “follow her bliss” (I stopped all that). And you can add her to the thousands of children, young adults and parents changed for the better by this local institution. It’s impossible for me to put into words what it means to so many. What the value of this institution is.

The Enchanted Playhouse at the Main Street Theatre is a unicorn. It should not exist. It can not exist on a purely capitalist playfield, and yet it does exist. It exists because it spouted from the dreams of a merry band of dreamers, of gypsies that found their home. This unicorn creates magic, it inspires the weary, it heals the broken, it saves children’s lives. Literally. Period.

Somehow, in the years that followed the initial support, this connection between the city and the theatre company became disconnected. Council members change, mayors change. Emotionally stunted “businessmen” on the council start to think,

“Do we really need a unicorn? Unicorn food is too expensive. Let’s slaughter the unicorn and sell unicorn steaks! We’ll hang up some flat screens and watch freakishly large men give each other concussions…What?! Some fragile kids can’t play make-believe anymore. Too bad! Have some unicorn steak. It’s delicious. It’s seasoned with salt made from the dehydrated tears of the children.”

It’s fucked up. The city fucked up. They forgot heart and soul makes this city’s downtown what it is. Visalia has a god damn unicorn there. PROTECT IT. Its value can not be quantified in dollars and cents on a spreadsheet. Sorry, mister businessman (aka Mr. Potter), you’re just gonna have to believe me on this one.

It is a family-friendly community hub. And in so, it is priceless and worthy of preservation.

So the people who know what’s at stake (unicorn steak) heard the call of the gypsies and determined to push back on the city. This city council meeting was last night and, under a lot of pressure from the community, the city council wisely made special rules allowing for extra time and moved the meeting to the convention center to allow for extra seating so the theatre company and the community could make a final appeal to ask the city to pause the redevelopment plan to give the Enchanted Playhouse non-profit a second chance to make a bid to keep their home.

Supporters meet at the Main Street Theatre. When we got there, I was disheartened to see it not exactly overflowing with people. Could this rag tag band pull it off? We were looking like the Rebel Alliance. It put fear into me. But somehow, when we marched to the convention center, it started to feel like an unstoppable army.

Then the discussion period opened on the subject. The passion of the people who appealed to the city, over the course of an hour and half, was truly inspirational. The testimony of the children, changed and healed by their experiences with Enchanted Playhouse, moved me to tears multiple times. A father and actor told the story of the memories he had performing with his daughter on that stage, a daughter he lost soon after to a tragic and sudden illness. His testimony and the testimony of so many others declared that stage sacred ground.

And then it went to the five man (old white man) council to make their decision.

The Vote

Well that vote was high drama, too. The council was pretty hard in their opening remarks on Enchanted Playhouse board of directors for not behaving like businessmen (but as we’ve established they’re not businessmen. If they were businessmen they would have opened a sports bar. They are dreamers and unicorn wranglers).

It seemed like all was lost.

The first councilman said he was inclined to vote for redevelopment because the theatre company failed to make their bid in time which he felt showed a lack of responsibility. He asked, “Where were you?” to which many in the crowd answered “We’re here now!” (I think I might have been one of those people) But he deferred his final decision at that point.

We then heard from the second council member, who said he heard the children’s pleas and he would allow for a pause on the redevelopment. I loved this guy.

My heart soared!

Then it got to the third member, he was a hard-assed, old jarhead or jarhead wannabe. A Limbaughtomized douche…I will call him Mr. Potter. Mr. Potter said there are “winners and losers” and the market has decided to kill the unicorn (to paraphrase). He also added that 14 years ago he voted against the initial deal to set up the company at the theatre, as it went against his free market ideals, and he still felt good about that decision today (He probably thinks the NEA is a homosexual, socialist propaganda machine, too). It took a lot of self control for me to not wing my water bottle at his fat head…but I knew it wasn’t about me.

Let’s just say my soaring heart lost an engine and was tilting into a nosedive.

Then we got to the vice mayor who was also not moved by the children. He voted KILL THE UNICORN! I immediately regretted ever spending one cent in this “sweetheart’s” store before it closed (locals will understand). So I was doing the math.

1 undecided (but highly critical of the Enchanted Playhouse)
1 for giving the theatre company a second chance
2 unicorn steaks, rare

My heart was plummeting toward the earth, both engines on fire. The hydraulics were out. I was pulling on the flight stick to no avail.

So now it goes to the mayor. He tears up as he says he acted with his kids and he understands the unicorn. He hears the children. He wants to give the unicorn a shot.

I see a flashing light on the heart control panel. I hit it. One of the propellers starts to spin up again. But the altimeter is still spinning counter-clockwise out of control.

So it goes back to the undecided councilman to break the tie.

The suspense was a 10. He’d already said he was inclined to vote against the theatre. The tension was thick enough to cut with a unicorn steak knife. If he said “Kill the unicorn!”, it was gonna be real sad at the least, real ugly at the worst. He said he was still concerned about the viability of the non-profit to make an offer and that giving them a chance might be a waste of time, but ultimately that the pleas of the children moved him to give the Enchanted Playhouse a second chance.

The unicorn’s execution was stayed!

My heart stopped just before it crashed to the ground. Turns out it ran out of gas, Looney Toons style.

There was great applause and a feeling of sober jubilation. The Enchanted Playhouse was given 90 days by the city council to submit their plan to buy the Main Street Theatre.

Now the hard work and reality of fundraising the money and finding deep pocket backers to make it happen is real. But knowing it is real, knowing they have a chance to save themselves, gives me hope that things everywhere can get better. Knowing I live in a city that listens to dreamers and cares about giving creative children a home made me a believer in the system…for now.

I really hope it works out and I’ll be there if they ever need me to show up for them again.

Long live the Enchanted Playhouse at the Main Street Theatre!

Support your local theatre companies

Support your local theatre companies and children’s theatre non-profits. They need it!

See a local play, See a local musical. If you find a theatre company you like, go again, and again. They need you. Most likely, they killed themselves for months as volunteers with no pay to deliver a once-in-a-lifetime experience to you. They need you there. Movies and TV are great, but believe me, your community can entertain you just as well, if not better…and they want to. In supporting them, you become part of something. You are supporting creativity, expression, culture.  It’s not a fad, it goes back to the beginning of civilization. Civilization is not social media, it is “being there”. Plus, the more you support your local theatre, the better it will get. Experience, support, confidence, as in any endeavor, these things are the fuel of greatness. You don’t have to go to Broadway or the big city. You can witness greatness, right in your hometown, just by showing up. And you will feel the performances unfiltered and direct, a true connection between performers and audience sharing a space. Something that can never be recreated by watching recorded media. If you don’t show up, they can’t do what they do and everybody loses. Support your local unicorn…erm,  I mean theatre community.

What can we do for the Enchanted Playhouse?

I am hoping that a social media fundraising campaign will be launched to drive donations for the purchase of the Main Street Theatre from the city by the Enchanted Playhouse non-profit.

To light a fire under that campaign, I suggest they seek celebrity support, starting with approaching Ellen Degeneres, who has a great track record with these kinds of things. If not her, I have to believe someone with a platform will understand this story, the dire odds Enchanted Playhouse faces, the consequences of inaction, and will get behind making a happy ending for this situation.

Time is of the essence. LET’S MAKE IT HAPPEN!

[Jenny informed me that Ellen’s show came to Visalia  earlier this year to help Washington Elementary’s free dance class program. SHIT!… I mean, good for them… but SHIT! – Ed.]

Save The Enchanted Playhouse

Dear readers, in a change of tone, the following piece is an unabashed heart-on-my-sleeve plea to my city – Visalia, California. We are watching something truly magical and irreplaceable being destroyed, our children’s theatre, the Enchanted Playhouse. A unique non-profit program that invites local children to participate in its productions at their theatre, which is located in the heart of downtown Visalia.

And why is it ending? Money. In a short sighted money grab, the City of Visalia is selling the theatre property from right underneath the theatre company. Selling the location to developers who want to build restaurants in its place. Restaurants. It breaks my heart.

The Enchanted Playhouse is a part of my family’s life, a part of our story. It’s a part of so many people’s lives and stories in this city. It seems a cruel joke to see it so heartlessly discarded by people who don’t understand its importance, its priceless value, its contribution to the heart and soul of downtown.

Can you put a price on magic?

Where do you get your magic?

Is it from a corporation?

Do you buy your magic exclusively from Disney?

You almost have to these days. They’ve bought almost everything.

Disney aside…

Where is real magic found?

It’s not easy to find. It’s delicate and fragile.

I think it comes from love, a gift to the children…to all children.

A place where all children are welcome to come and be enchanted.

A place where all children are welcome to learn the magic of theatrical performance and culture in a loving, safe and inspirational environment. Live a shared experience they will fondly remember for the rest of their lives. A place like none other in the world. A jewel.

Where do you find that magic, when you’ve paved over the wishing well?

When you’ve closed the enchanted story book to the hearts of the children…

for a handful of silver…

How can you take that gift away? The gift of children’s hearts in flight. (I guess you can’t remember why that’s important anymore. Huh?)

Well, was it worth it, what you bought? What you got for that silver.

 

Was it worth it, City of Visalia?

What did you get? Tell me?

Whatever it is, it isn’t enough, and now you’ll lose something much more valuable.

Can’t you see this is “It’s a Wonderful Life”?… Be Jimmy Stewart, be Donna Reed. Don’t be Mr. Potter. Be George Bailey!

The Enchanted Playhouse needs to be protected and supported, City of Visalia. Save this institution and save your soul. Save it if you still can, before it’s too late and you lose something you can never get back.

Something magic.

On Monday 7/16 there will be a meeting at City Hall regarding Enchanted Playhouse Children’s Theater. Please come and give your support.
Facebook Event Link:
https://www.facebook.com/events/267998763936633/.

To learn more about the theatre company and its program, watch this piece about it produced by our local PBS affiliate. https://www.pbs.org/video/enchanted-playhouse-theater-company-charlottes-web-pwbspx/

To learn about the fight to save the Enchanted Playhouse:

http://kingsriverlife.com/07/14/save-the-enchanted-playhouse/

https://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/2018/07/12/enchanted-playhouse-wants-bid-main-street-theatre/741823002/

 

Some of my best friends are hospitality industry housekeepers

I’ve had this title on the brain for a couple of weeks…while I was neglecting my “platform”. So yeah, I enjoyed a short resort vacation in that interim (entitled much?) and had some interactions with the hotel staff. You get back to your room in the middle of a cleaning, that kind of thing. We see these people but we don’t think on them too much. We might leave them a tip…if we feel bad.

But they live a truth. You get to this country and (if you’re lucky) you might just end up making beds and cleaning toilets in a nice hotel. It’s a job. You work hard, long hours doing redundant, menial labor for shit pay. There is no glamour, no prestige, certainly no “opportunity for advancement”. None of your co-workers envy your position. You probably have to take all kinds of shit from your supervisors and the guests. But you survive. You get your kids into the American public school system. You model your work ethic for those kids. If those kids apply that ethic in school and lose the accent, they might just find themselves working the front desk of that hotel one day. They might find themselves doing anything their little hearts desire.

This is America to me. That this can, and does, happen here. That it happens every day.

Even the most cold-blooded economist will tell you that American economic growth is driven, and has always been driven, by the hard work of immigrant labor (at least since we closed the slave auctions, that is). Let’s not forget immigrant innovation, too. Without this labor and innovation, America would not be the power house nation you see today.

Remember, dirty jobs done cheap (by immigrant labor) are always churning away just under the veneer of your pure, white heaven. You pull that piece out of the puzzle and you’ll find yourself neck deep in raw sewage before you can say, “MAGA!”

But yeah, that article title “joke” (Some of my best friends are…). I don’t know these immigrants (not really) and I never will. I’ll never be besties with them. And that goes for everyone else in my position, and YOU, TOO! Am I wrong?

Now that I think of it…Who is going to be my friend? So lonely…Shake it off, Powers!

So we need them, they are part-and-parcel of the fabric of which our country is borne, but “class” and “culture” keep them at arms length. I can’t fix that. But I know these class and culture bias “walls” (Like that?…“walls”…get it?) delay and impede the desired “cultural assimilation” we require from our immigrants. And so we get ghettos, and the poverty, alienation, desperation and crime that comes along with excluded populations in ghettos.

And we’ve had that going on for a long time. That energy and precedent feeds on itself, grows, becomes the culture, a paradigm, a talking point for racist pundits and politicians looking to further exclude these groups. American capitalism and culture creates ghettos. Period. Deal with it. Suck it. We choose to live with it. I think we can do better. But this is what it is for now…

But now we got this fucking guy…

#PresidentShithead. He sucks such ass. He makes everything worse, unless you look at the world through asshole tinted glasses.

And it’s tough. I’ve come to the point I can’t even parse it anymore. This asshole is soul spooning the 35% of the population that will always be stupid and hateful…all-day-long…every time. Call them a “basket of deplorables”, to coin a phrase (I feel like I’ve heard that somewhere before…nevermind). Turns out their hatred goes racist real easy. Who would have known? And this fucking guy, turns out HE’S RACIST, TOO. A marriage made in hell. The more he scapegoats brown immigration at his hate rallies and in his hate tweets, the more they love it. It’s a majestic symbiosis of vomit.

Hate. Hate. Hate. Hate gets people to the polls. Hate got him elected. Hate is his brand. Hate is fuel for the fire. Hate needs a target. Hate is power. Hate is dominance. Hate is control. Hate is “strong”. Hate. Hate. Hate. Until we rid ourselves of this arbiter of hate we are doomed to live in a hater nation. Oh, we are soooo fucked.

But even more fucked are these poor immigrant motherfuckers. Some nice lady who, if she’s lucky, might be so privileged as to be given the opportunity to scrape your poo remnants off the inside of your hotel room toilet and fish your discarded Band-Aids out of the shower drain. Some nice lady who might have a kid she doesn’t want targeted, murdered and/or raped by some cartel funded gang. So here’s a policy, if she gets to our border with this kid, let’s terrorize her again (and the kid, too). Don’t let her scrape poo! Separate them and LOCK HER UP! LOCK HER UP! (Once again, I’m detecting notes of familiarity).

But where does it end?

I see these asshole Republicans digging in behind this racist President (Urp. Can this fuck actually be the President? I’m not convinced). They are trenching deep. Digging miles of tunnels (Supreme Court tunnels). They know those Russian chickens are coming home soon. They could wake up and walk away, but what they really, really want to do is go full alt-fact death cult. And it is a cult. The Kool-Aid has been served and it has been drunk deep. They’re guzzling that Kool-Aid down by the gallon and asking for seconds. So they can finally get what they want.

So what do they want?

Well they have a list. The original list was as follows:

  • Punish homosexuals
  • Criminalize abortion
  • Mandatory Christian prayer in public schools
  • Racial discrimination & segregation
  • Women in “traditional gender roles”

And now we can add these, too…

  • Make acquiring a gun as easy as possible
  • Reduce/Abolish taxes for the wealthy
  • Abolish social welfare
  • Privatize/Commoditize social services and education
  • Privatize/Commoditize transportation, public roads and bridges
  • Break all labor organizations (unless it’s police)
  • Build a wall across Mexico
  • Dismantle the NATO alliance
  • Defend, fetishize and ultimately implement authoritarianism
  • Demonize people who don’t agree with you
  • Call the independent free press the “enemy of the people”
  • Allow the unrestricted destruction of the natural environment and discredit scientists who warn against it
  • Make sure that all important decisions are made by, and in the best interest of, old, white, rich men.

So let’s say they get everything they want. I mean every checkbox is filled. I mean no taxes. Zero. All the glaciers are melted down. Done! #PresidentShithead’s tweets come over your media devices via the Emergency Broadcast System. Jesus’ face is placed smack in the middle of the American flag and the stars are swapped out for crosses. Women who’ve had abortions are put in stocks in the public square. Sounds nice, right?

What do you give to the racist who has everything?

So they get everything they want. And yet they still feel angry and empty inside. I mean sure, yeah, they needed all those things. But something’s still off. It’s that pesky white nationalist itch. If it isn’t scratched, they’ll never feel reich … I mean “right”. It isn’t you, it’s them. You did your best. You were submissive and compliant, just like they said they wanted. Shit! They got everything they asked for, but it turns out it just wasn’t enough.

So long as the people who reflect slightly less light into their retinas than other people exist, or even have the potential to exist, within their fields-of-view, lets be honest, they’ll never be happy (unless that person is way off to the side holding a toilet brush …obviously). Because lets face it, reflectivity is the ultimate measure of a person’s worth.

I mean, isn’t this what really brought that 35% together in the first place. Sure they made that silly little list of stuff they wanted. It was fun. A bonding experience. But let’s get real. There was one thing they didn’t want to put on the list. They were embarrassed. Probably should have been number one. They just wanted you to get it for them without them having to ask. I mean, if you really knew them, you would have gotten it for them already…if you really knew them…

“Genocide! For me? Oh, you shouldn’t have.

I see you

Sorry for the long strange trip. I’ve just had my fill of racism and xenophobia. I see these immigrants. They come to America to do our dirty shit jobs for us so that maybe, just maybe, their children will have a chance at a better life. I see them. I respect them. I know their story is the story of my family tree, not so far back. When I see these people abused, maligned and scapegoated, by a bunch of entitled, selfish, unappeasable, WILLFULLY STUPID white fucks WHO SEEMINGLY HAVE NO GRASP OF HISTORY (EVEN THE LAST HUNDRED YEARS), it boils my blood.

It makes me crazy when I see the President of the United States embolden these fucking losers, to bluntly and repeatedly reinforce their stupidity and hatred. It makes me crazy when I see the President of the United States IS ONE OF these fucking losers.

It has to be stopped! This FUCK has to be impeached! He should have been sent up for impeachment the day he said the press was the “enemy of the people”…just for that alone. I don’t know how to stop it, but the stopping of it has to start, “big league”.

#OccupyWashington? Where are you? Is that a thing? Can it be a thing? I think it better become a thing…soon. We have to get a couple of million peeps on the streets in DC, stat. Bring your water boxes, bring your canned food and just fucking camp out. Have hand drum, will travel. Discuss amongst yourselves.

’Til next time.

P.S. (note to self) Remember to tip the housekeeper, you cheap fuck.

Mike Hunt or: Little Miss Seaward

I’m going to preface this with a note explaining that I know that no one cares what a middle-aged white boy from the ’burbs has to say about the Full Frontal C*nt-roversy. In fact, I know I have no right to make any comment at all… and yet, oops?

No one likes to be ad hominemed or debased in public. People enjoy doing it or witnessing it being done onto others. But being targeted? Well, that’s another story. And the “c-word” ad hominem, WOOF, that is a prickly pear in American culture. In England they fling that thing around to the point where it’s almost a term of endearment, but here, in the “puritanical” US of A, it is considered the “nuclear option”. American women don’t like it at all, and we must respect that.

I (my wife and my 5 year-old-son) have found that I use that term exclusively when discussing other drivers when I’m on the road (regardless of their gender). Not often, like I said…“nuclear option”, but if you narrowly cut me off on the freeway going 80 and then slam your breaks…I will “push the button”…and often supercharge my attack with a colorful f-bomb based continuous verb prefix modifier…because you have to. Yeah, in case you weren’t in the know, I curse…occasionally.

So, I’m not casting any stones here. I’m keeping all my stones in-hand, just in case I need them to fight my way out of this post. As I said, this is a prickly pear subject.

Tone Deaf

I was annoyed that I read about the controversy prior to seeing the show, because it robbed me of my own gut-check on the word. I would have liked to have known how the slag would have landed with me, before it was colored by pundit opinions. And that’s a real problem I have with instant news; it’s always trying to tell me how to feel before I have the experience myself.

When I did actually watch the bit, I honestly did not like the word in context, but I did understand the rage behind it. The insult was at the apex of a passionate plea calling for a stop to our US border enforcement’s abuse of immigrants, and disgusting policy of separating asylum seeking immigrant parents from their children.

#PresidentShithead could stop these abuses (with one of his beloved executive orders), but he is a vile, racist, scapegoating, opportunistic, piece-of-shit (have I gone too far?) who will gladly trade in human misery so long as it keeps him in good stead with his racist, racist-adjacent, and racist-tolerant base (a base that includes that off-her-meds, racist, shit-show Rosanne Barr). Ivanka Trump is an “Advisor” to his administration (a complicit part of this administration) and so she’s a fair target.

I just don’t agree with targeting Ivanka for Instagramming with her young son (Mob Rules – spouses and children who aren’t “in the business”,…yet, are to be left out. Of course, that didn’t keep #PresidentShithead from laying a hit on Ted Cruz’s wife. But anyway…). Bringing Ivanka into the crosshairs in this context is one thing (I get it), but then laying that “nuclear option” ad hominem on top of that context, it just wasn’t a take that I care to rally behind…in the greater context of “the Movement”. The Movement that seeks a pathway to a more conscientious culture. A culture still chock full o’ penis and vagina jokes, to be sure (FOR AMERICA!). Just more conscientious penis and vagina jokes. But I digress.

That’s probably why the joke landed flat with me. And trust me, I feel Bee’s rage. And rage will make you say some strooong shit. Trust me, I know. I just think it’s a shame that Bee’s message was lost and her platform was threatened because she went “feckless [c-word]” instead of…I dunno…“Twat”? Is that just as bad? Shit!

Summing up

I am an unapologetic Samantha Bee fan, she’s been making me laugh and think for years. Entertainers who do that for us hold a special position in our hearts, and so we cut them “slack”. It’s called “good will”. Good will is a resource. I can be eroded and it can be spent. Good will can also be built back up and restored. Samantha Bee has a shit-ton of good will banked in reserve. So we’re good. She apologized, so everyone just back the fuck off.

Ivanka Trump, on the other hand, is tantamount to a nonentity to me. She represents superficial things like corporate fashion, corporate branding & cosmetic surgery. These are things I don’t hold in high esteem. I’m not a hater on them either, they just don’t buy much of that aforementioned “good will”. As a surrogate for her father, she has proven herself a garbage human being, so there’s that. Her husband has apparently attempted to peddle influence to foreign powers and advocated against those who refused to pay in (we call that racketeering, in case you didn’t know). This doesn’t seem to bother her either. Yet I still don’t want to see her called a c-word on television…Maybe that makes me part of the problem. I just want them fired and investigated if necessary. That will be enough.

It’s a tricky time to insult any woman (even if she is a quantifiably vapid or shitty person), especially via the c-bomb through the platform of commercial television. It was pretty out there and presumptuous of Bee, her producers and writers to go there…mainly because of the commercial television angle. Sponsors are selling soap…to wash out your c-word. Laying a politically charged c-word on corporate sponsors sounds like career suicide to me. Remember Samantha, you are not driving in your car…you’re on TBS.

You do have to do the “We won’t get your products boycotted” dance just a little bit. And a good place to start is with a no c-word policy. Unless, that is, you’re talking about a man. Take, for instance, #PresidentShithead, that guy is a total cunt. [Redacted]

Clickbait President

I’ve been thinking about Al Franken. He disappeared when he resigned from the Senate last December. I recall him saying, in his resignation speech, that we’d be seeing him around. Well, I haven’t seen him since. So, this morning, I searched on Google (a habit I am very seriously considering stopping #FUCKGOOGLE) to see what he’s been up to, and couldn’t find anything…right away.

I did see vague articles pondering a “comeback”. Then, there was a recent left-wing op-ed justifying Franken’s party, and progressive allies, turning on him as the least-worst solution at the time (BULLSHIT!). There was also a Page Six story, from a week ago, pulling Sarah Silverman quotes from GQ. She was making her case for Louis CK and Franken’s return to public life.

[LONG TANGENT ALERT!!!]

I really don’t like lumping Franken in with CK. CK committed serious sex crimes (from what I recall, it was public masturbation…That will get you in deep trouble, so I’ve heard. And CK deserves any trouble he’s in).

To the best of my knowledge, Franken always kept his trousers up. He was accused of forced or unwanted (prank?) kissing (no joke, a troubling accusation). And also touching or grasping women, without asking permission, typically when posing for photos (I think most men are guilty of this second crime, especially the “puppy dog” type…the WORST OFFENDERS!…By the by, I’m a VICTIM, TOO!!! Soon, I will tell my SHOCKING, TRUE story of how, for YEARS, I was ABUSED in this very same way! BY MY PARENTS!!! Stay tuned!).

With this touching-in-photos thing, and even the admittedly more serious unwanted-kissing thing, I’m willing to forgive the guy, so long as he is honest and contrite, which I believe he was.

I think it would have been a healthy exercise to have run this through the Senate Ethics Committee and road test the whole review process there, in a public and transparent manner, which I know Franken would have insisted on. In this way, we, the American citizens/voters, would have gotten to see whether or not it is a review system worth keeping or reforming (in light of the cultural shifts brought on by the #MeToo movement). The Senate didn’t want to do that…Go figure.

Bottom line, since December 2017, I’ve been waiting for the proverbial “other shoe” to drop on Franken’s story. One that exposes that he, at some point, really did cross a significant line (in my pig eyes) in the abuse of women. Yet I’ve seen nary a Ked, a Naturalizer, or even a Birkenstock fall. And until that Louis Vuitton (?) plummets from the heavens, I’m with Franken. And if that day comes, and I’m proven wrong, I will drop Franken faster than you can say “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me”.

[END OF TANGENT.]

I had to dig deep (in the search results I mentioned prior to that brutally long tangent) to find an announcement, from April, publicizing that Franken would be making his first public appearance on May 1st at the Privacy Xchange Forum 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal, to present a speech titled “Lies and Lying Liars in 2018: Privacy, Competition and Russian Election Meddling”. I dug deeper and found that the speech was live streamed on YouTube. As of today, one full month later, it has a WHOPPING 4,554 views! THAT’S 150 VEIWS A DAY!!!! WOW!!!!!!!

I highly suggest watching this video. It addresses, and bolsters, many of the points I raised in my last post regarding Google’s monopoly and unchecked power. I hate to sound like a conspiracist (too late), but it is funny how buried and unwatched the video of this speech is. Could this speech be (dun-dun-DUN!) Algorithmically Incorrect?

Jokes aside, I just want you to watch this video and remember just a small slice of what this man was fighting for as a Senator and what a pin-headed mistake it was to send him away.

So yeah, my post title is a little obtuse. Check the speech to tune into what I’m getting at. It’s not direct, but it’s in there…buried.

P.S. The loss of net neutrality is a very serious issue. It will negatively affect free speech. Don’t fool yourself.

P.P.S. Fuck Google.

P.P.P.S. no…really #FUCKGOOGLE

Algorithmically Incorrect

So Google, we love Google. They give us everything that isn’t covered by Apple, Facebook and Amazon (am I missing anyone…Netflix?!…close enough…SOOO many options!). They gave us Gmail. That was sooo sweet of them, sooo generous. They told us, back in the day, that their motto was, “Don’t be evil”…very cute. I mean, that motto sets an extremely low bar. But we bought it, and, back then, it was all fun and games (Adobe Flash games!). A halcyon summer.

So, yeah, they loved all the data they mined out of your “free” Gmail account over all these years (and, in so, our love was reciprocated). Even to the point where if you were, let’s say, a web designer and you sent a confidential, hidden, non-indexable URL to a client to review work prior to publication…and that email just happened to travel over a Gmail server, you would inexplicably find that link (the one you did not want published) indexed in Google Search (Surprise!). Yup, they mine your Gmail message data and will load it right into Google Search whenever they want to. FUN! I mean, they don’t do it personally…their algorithm bots do it, impersonally…the non-evil way.

And that is the least of what they’ll do with your data. Your Google/Gmail profile, experiences, communications (inexorably linked to your Google Search and YouTube watch history) are crawled, tracked and pimped out.

They ran that game on you and the rest of the world, they “parlayed”, and (bingo-bango-bongo) now they own a MONOPOLY on online search and search advertising.

So now this relationship becomes a little lopsided. We start to feel a little like a “sex worker”. But our pimp loves us, he has “Don’t be evil” tattooed on his knuckles. He only hits me when I’m bad! You don’t understand him!

Googlebourg or Googlenstien

And now Google (along with their big-tech cousins) are turning the greater San Jose area into Googlebourg or Googlenstien, a gated county…a country. This kingdom takes our American advertising dollars, but avoids paying its American corporate taxes (preferring to use tax shelter loopholes to rest their tax obligations with other countries, ya know, the ones that don’t collect taxes), even though Google seems to enjoy having its “campuses” located on American soil, I mean Googlebourg soil. And that isn’t at all fucked up. Not at all! “Catch me outside” if you wanna talk smack about my pimp. Bitch, I’ll pull your weave!

And here I am, I know all this shit, but I still use Google Search. I’m their bitch. No doubt.

But here’s where the plot turns for me, because I was personally affected. And unless I am personally affected, I don’t give a fuck (like any good American citizen).

Google Suppresses My Blog!

NO, this is not the story of a man who has a paranoid delusion that Google has any idea who he is. My blog is a micro-flea, on a flea, on the dog’s ass that is Google Search. Google doesn’t know me, and I’m fine with that. If the Google powers-that-be knew me, they would probably think I was innocuous and silly. And they would be right. But like I said, I am not on their radar. I am random “Kid Kilobyte” 10538 data set. My mortal remains cast into the “Almighty Algorithm”.

So how can I say “Google Suppresses my Blog!”? Well their current super-tuned-up-to-fight-#FAKENEWS search algorithm is not loving my blog. It’s hiding my blog. Why? Because my blog is “Algorithmically Incorrect”.

Algorithmically Incorrect

What is “Algorithmically Incorrect”? Why it’s the digital world’s new “Politically Incorrect”. Now, instead of the next generation telling you your ideas are outdated and backwards right to your face (the way God intended), bots and spiders will predetermine, by algorithm, if what you have to say is too “troublesome” to share and/or not advertiser friendly/related enough to be worth sharing. To quote an ancient Zen kōan,

“If your Google Search  doesn’t result in a click through to an advertiser’s site, does it really exist?”

Ya see, my site has too many controversial keywords mixed with too many curse words. Plus, I am not a media giant that pays for “clicks” or “impressions”. As such, my site has no business being found on the pure-as-snow Google Search site where you find porn.

Somewhere down the road, a switch flipped at Google to push advertiser friendliness over organic search, even in the non-paid, “organic” areas of the search results.

As the internet became the predominant commercial media of our time, it has also became entrapped in the traditional major media practice of “whitewashing” its content (i.e., hiding “unpleasant” things…unless it’s porn).

YouTube Adpocalypse

We saw Google’s move toward whitewashing go into overdrive in response to the (Google owned) YouTube Adpocalypse controversy of 2017. A huge block of major corporate sponsors walked away from YouTube (taking hundreds of millions of dollars with them, adding up to countless billions in lost future revenues) because corporate ads were running before videos that included controversial or hateful content. This hateful content was causing boycott/PR complications for the corporate advertisers. Likewise, the controversial and/or hateful content creators were receiving money from YouTube for their views/watch time. This occurred because, bottom line, there is just too much YouTube content to realistically police. This got into a very sticky situation for YouTube’s bottom line. YouTube, of course, overreacted and, today, any videos that have a whiff of controversy about them, as determined by bots and algorithms, are by default “demonetized” and adversely affected in organic search (i.e., dinged) .  The ultimate effect, YouTube’s creator community is now beleaguered, “censored” and compromised.

Adpocalypse’s Fallout Irradiating Google Search

So is it so hard to see the writing on the wall? Google obviously has witnessed and paid a price for the kind of backlash and bad press that controversial content juxtaposed with corporate logos and ads creates. To protect their bottom line going forward, they grabbed that roller and a bucket of whitewash. They just had to add a couple of lines of code to the algorithm and “wham-o” the problem disappears.

Ken Powers disappears.

Yahoo!, Bing, Duck Duck Go (Who the fuck is “Duck Duck Go”?)…any of these search engines, search “ken powers”, I am page one, number one. Now search “ken powers” on Google, I’m not in the first hundred…

Ken Powers disappears.

So why care?

I don’t know. I’m just putting this info and commentary out there like I do. Internet search has evolved. It has had to evolve, because of the “Keyword Spammers of the Wild West”. Search can’t be totally pure because it gets abused. I accept that.

But we have a monopoly situation going on here, where 95% of mobile internet search goes through Google’s filter. Search visibility affects reality, creates reality. Google is playing with the paddles of 21st Century free speech with no overseers, no oversight. If we look at this situation closely we may discover we’ve traded too much away for a free email account and some cloud space. We may see that Google is just a little too cozy with our, often corruptible, Federal Government on many, let’s call them, Orwellian levels. Because let’s face it, the government should have grabbed it’s trust-breaking-hatchet on this whole deal a looong time ago and no one is talking about it today, no one.

Google, through automation, is turning down the volume on free speech (filtering speech) that its algorithms determine does not match up with their beloved advertisers’ agendas.

Remember this equation (it’s in the algorithm):

Advertisers > Free Speech

It’s fucked up and if they push it too far (which they might have already done) they may just find themselves in a position they can not predict, even with all their monopolistic power and algorithms.

People might just turn their backs on Google when they get “woke” to what’s going on. The walls of Googlebourg just might come tumblin’ down.

Then again, if Google just adds a few lines of code…the problem disappears.

Success Rewards Itself

I was watching “Face the Nation” last Sunday. Host Margaret Brennan was interviewing Larry Kudlow, top economic adviser to #PresidentShithead, about the sketchy, chaotic, campaign-promised Trade War #PS started. Toward the end of that chat, in the context of discussing who such policies benefit (the donor class or the working class), they had this exchange.

KUDLOW: I happen to like successful people. I’m perfectly happy to use the JFK-Ronald Reagan idea that a rising tide lifts all boats-

BRENNAN: [Wryly] You’re still a trickle down guy.

KUDLOW: I don’t- it’s not trickle down, Margaret. It’s incentives. It’s don’t punish success, reward success.

Reward success”? This unpleasantly rattled in my brain for a moment and then my mouth involuntarily quipped to the unhearing flat screen (it wasn’t a Samsung), “Success rewards itself!”

Is it really for me to believe that I am supposed to feel sorry for “successful” people or corporations because they are under threat of being “punish”ed? That they need “incentives” and “rewards”?… That’s pretty out there, man. That’s a head scratcher, and a pretty one-dimensional way of looking at the situation.

So far as I can see, the “successful” seem to be doing pretty well for themselves. Even to the point where when they bankrupted our financial system with massive, institutionalized fraud, as they did in the 2008, setting off the Great Recession, our government, in response, threw them as much new money as they could print and cut their interest rates.

Hey! I smell something fishy…

One man’s success is another man’s misfortune

I’m turning an old idiom around here to make a point about the “successful” people who currently hold the reins of our governmental, financial, energy and information systems. How was their “success” earned? Go research their backgrounds. You will find many stories. Some of these stories might just follow a common narrative. One that shows that many of the most “successful” people and corporations, in our open and free market, built their success on crushing and destroying other people’s “successful” ventures. It’s called competition. It’s not a bad thing, per se. But let’s not pretend that they deserve any “reward”s for their ability to dominate a market or consolidate capital. The result is the reward…sorry, no extra bonus rewards for you (boo hoo).

Often in pursuit of this lofty goal of achieving “success” ethical lines are crossed, laws are broken and innocent people are financially crushed (think about 2008, or all the small businesses that lost to Big Box stores, or the cost of prescription drugs, or this corrupt Trump administration). Let’s not pretend, in an era of relatively unchecked corporate and financial consolidation (i.e., trusts and monopolies), purchased from our compromised government by neu-robber barons, that there is a totally fair and balanced playing field out there to be enjoyed by all.

Common man, are you out there? Hello…?

I go back to this statement “don’t punish success, reward success.”, and I’m thinking the common man, let’s say someone like me, someone who didn’t have a father hand him millions of dollars (mind you, I’m talking 70s and 80s dollars) to get started in the New York real estate market (read, #PS), might look at this communication coming from a representative of our government’s chief executive, and think, maybe, just maybe, “Hey! This particular leadership group isn’t looking out for my interests after all.” Then again maybe the common man doesn’t see it. Maybe they’re thinking about abortion, gay marriage and school prayer…fuck.

Either way, we common men might want to look at these leaders who self-identify as the “successful” and try to get real as to how their “success” is often cultivated. We may need to accept that these “successful” people are often, in fact, not so much “successful” people, as they are “grabbers”.

The Grabbers

So what are “grabbers”? Pretty simple, grabbers grab. Throughout history, grabbers have always grabbed, and they always will. They may be benevolent grabbers, they may be sociopathological grabbers, they may even be malevolent grabbers. Whatever they are, they will grab whatever they can without incentive, trust me. And they are part of the fabric of the human equation. And they will always be surrounded by complicit drones who are more-than-happy to feed off whatever morsels the grabber trickles down. And that is life, and I’m willing to accept reality. And I’ll be clear, I’m not advocating grabber eradication…I’m more focused on grabber education and grabber control.

We, the non-grabbers, just need a strong, judicious, non-grabber-based representative government who will gently extract the needed resource percentage back from the grabbers to inject it back into publicly accessible and fairly distributed revenue streams. Ya know, infrastructure programs, education, medical-right-thru-to-end-of-life care, poverty relief (yada yada yada). This way we won’t all have to tune-in to the grabber mentality to achieve their narrow construct of “success” to survive. Because, if I’m reading things right, too many grabbers is not a great thing…on the whole. [Insert off-color grabber/whole joke here]… Just sayin’.

The blog is dead. Long live the blog.

I had a moment of activity back there. It seemed the brain would fire up in reaction to this or that and I would string current events over the skeleton of my reality filter, my enculturation (though I prefer enculturalization…but that isn’t a word), my bias. I’d put flesh to bone and push the ruddy golem out onto the stage. I told you God is a concept. I told you America’s post war dream (WWII in case you aren’t familiar with the concept) is going to fail under the rule of the “entitled boomer” class (or maybe I didn’t..I implied it).

Over the years, I watched my generation (GenX) shank it, too, over and over and over again. And these kids today, just coming into adulthood, what do they see? What is their reality filter? “Gamification” of smart phone social platforms set to sell them dreams based on algorithms and advertiser purview. A slot machine attached to your hand that serves you constant sadness and issolation and keeps you from exercising your internal memory or self-reflection.

Machines that feed you false salve for your loneliness, but make you lonelier, isolate you from the people sitting right next to you. You may be avoiding eye contact, but you are being watched, monitored, tracked, collected, sold.

A generation of these kids are coming. They’re here. They are going to have questions. Like, “What is this culture you’ve created?”…just not in those words. These kids expose themselves on these platforms. Get bullied on these platforms. Commit suicide via streaming video on these platforms…and who’s the leader of the “free world”? Big Chief Twitter Troll. One of the biggest “entitled boomer” assholes to ever be measured. Can anyone here tell me what my point is? NO?! Okay, I’ll make one up.

Sacrifice

The post war dream is based on sacrifice. Blood and Gold, by the ton. The rocket fuel that set up our reality and culture was charged with DEEP, DEEP taxation after the war. It paid off the war debt and bought so much of what we know as our world today, so much we take for granted. It created the basis for the “entitlements” system that bothers the donor class and donor class wannabes so much (read Neo-Libertarians, Teabaggers, garden variety assholes). “Entitlements” = Money to buy food and medical care for the poor, disabled and the elderly – paid out of a Federal Tax Pool. Grace extended to our most vulnerable populations based on the (recently concocted) concept of basic human rights, basic human dignity.

But the donor class, they don’t want to pay ANY taxes. They want to shut it down and get on an island or into a gated community. They don’t want to keep the shared dream alive, they don’t want to sacrifice for you. “FUCK YOU!” (…they might say) “I got mine because I deserve it!”

Here’s the deal, NO ONE WANTS TO SACRIFICE! That’s why it’s called “sacrifice”, because it SUCKS! But you have to do it anyway. It keeps the money-go-round going, shooting cash cannons at our economy so we can have these new-world service jobs where we do nothing substantial (except hand some part of the money exchanged to corporations)…but it gives people purpose…keeps them off the Oxy…keeps them paying their monthly recurring fees to all these corporations. It may even do a lot of other good, too. Like maintain the post war dream. Anyone? (crickets)

But these no-tax assholes, they got it figured out. I’m talking about you Google. Tax shelters?! Fuck you! I’m talking to you Apple. Pay your share! And that goes for all these motherfuckers. Buying laws to keep from paying taxes makes you all the biggest “welfare whores” out there today. GenX acting just like their Boomer parents. It makes me sick.

Don’t tell me there is a problem finding the money to buy some flat-out old guy his daily can of cat food (spoiler alert, he doesn’t have a cat). PAY YOUR FUCKING TAXES and let him dine on Fancy Feast tonight. I mean Jesus Fucking Christ these assholes. PAY IN TO MAINTAIN THE DREAM – YOU GREEDY ENTITLED “MAKERS”! (“Makers” of horseshit) Or don’t…and see what it gets you…class wars…world wars…and, trust me, you won’t get the choice to shirk your responsibilities then. And keep in mind you might not be on the winning side of that war. Because no one wins in a war, they just sacrifice.

P.S. So there. It’s garbage copy like this that keeps me from posting. I didn’t even bother getting back to the kids on their smart phones. I suppose they won’t like paying taxes either… NO STRUCTURE, just redundant, inane, profane blather and who needs it? I’m just tired of writing about “it”…Well, ’til next time!