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’.

Diamond in a Cow Pie

Living in Central California makes me a strange man in a strange land. When I walk outside my front door I can see a Devin Nunes for Congress sign. It’s unnerving. Because, in my mind, putting that sign up… you might as well put up a sign reading “Am I insane, stupid, hateful or a tasteful blend of all the above? Ring my doorbell and find out”. It makes me feel uneasy, having that on my block. Putting any campaign sign on the front lawn of a tract home is questionable (IMHO), but, in these tribal times, it really is too much. But free speech, right? So you stomach it.

And the Washington dumpster fire is set to “Flambé” this week, with the Trump doomsday clock broken and frozen at a quarter past midnight. But I can role with that…no big. I mean my intestines are tying themselves in knots, but what can you do? Write a blog? That’s ridiculous.

So in this strange land we have a junior college. And at this junior college we have a theatre department. And in this marriage (that is, the one I share with my wife) we have an actor…that isn’t me. This actor, from time-to-time, treads those JC boards (when she can) and buys season tickets to all of their productions, about 4 or 5 shows a year.

If you knew my background, you would undoubtedly know that I came up as a “garage rocker” and not a “theatre geek”. So as a “garage rocker” I did not see a lot of theatre (mainly, I saw the garage wall), but I have always had a deep love of live entertainment… (and I once read the complete works of William Shakespeare, too, just in the case you were wondering). But now, with this wife, I am “theatre going guy” in a way heretofore unprecedented.

And I like it. I like this theatre department. They don’t fuck around. They put on a real fucking show. High quality…and I know the difference. Very occasionally they shank it, but it is never from lack of hard work. There is blood and passion and love and humor in that company, mixed with the smell of the old people at the matinees.

Honestly, in my newly adopted home town, there are two things I like (outside of family, home, yada-yada-yawn).

  1. The burger shack that recently burned down, that once featured the greatest burgers to ever have been flame broiled by an alleged meth-head…belovedly known as “tattoo man” to my family. “Tattoo man”, you will be missed.
  2. The junior college theatre productions.

So, now I have one thing left…so it’s my favorite thing in town…by default…no offence.

A Diamond in a Cow Pie.

And they are doing Arthur Miller’s The Crucible right now. RIGHT FUCKING NOW!

We saw it on opening night and it was brilliant. And I’m going to tell you why…Because this blog is going to turn into theatre criticism right now. Ya know, in the next paragraph…after this one ends. Very shortly.

Okay, here we are, Theatre Critic Kenny at your service. You should have read and analyzed The Crucible in high school and maybe even seen the movie. I mean, if you don’t know about it, I’m sorry, your educators failed you, but I will proceed as if you do. We all understand this play was a response to the Red Scare, McCarthyism…a divisive, tribal time in our culture. So, yes, this is a good time to revisit it. Have you seen the term “WITCH HUNT!” in the news recently? I thought so. Well, there be witch hunts in this play. And there be tribalism and divisiveness in this culture. So yeah, dig (read beat poet colloquialism).

Staging. Staged in a somewhat experimental style, with two opposing audience seating sections facing directly at each other across the performance space, this set up an immediate subliminal feeling of us v them while we waited for the show to start, putting us immediately into the correct state of mind for the themes of the text. They’re over there, we are over here, divided. Great idea.

The Set pieces were very minimal, a chair, a table, a bed, a door, a floating window a judge’s bench. Nothing distracting us from the actors, their performances and the messages of the text.

Costumes. Costumes were evocative of depression-era to mid-century rural. This helped to keep the tone relatable, current, relevant. Taking us back to colonial times with shoes with buckles and pirate sleeve shirts would have been a distraction (I’m sure they could have pulled it off, but I appreciated the choice). Once again, minimal but on point.

Actors & Direction. I am constantly floored by the talent that comes through this theatre, be it student, local talent or visiting talent. I consistently see excellent, authentic, pro-level performances from the actors in these productions. They have a deep bench. Of the students, some are green, some can’t sing or dance (not an issue with this play…though there was surprisingly good singing at one point. Who knew?), but you have to give it to these kids, even when they are green they are trying…and they have to be given a chance (it’s a school after all, they are developing new talent)…it can be a high wire act at times (and some fall), but these kids…when they catch a spark, it can be a magical thing to witness.

In this production, the acting was uniformly excellent. And the direction of the acting can’t be underplayed. For example, if you know the play well, you know that there is a moment when the girl squad (SQUAD GOALS!) goes full Exorcist in the courtroom. There is a rhythm to this section and a certain kind of frightening feminine energy that, if performed correctly, is truly unsettling. They nailed it. I think it started to Force choke me just a little bit. When it was done I whispered to my wife, “This is why I hate teenage girls.”

So, enough about the play. It’s great. Go see it. It closes this weekend. It’s not fun, but it’s a bitter pill worth swallowing. It’s at the COS Theatre in Visalia in case you were wondering. FYI – I’m leaving names out of this review to protect the innocent.

But yeah, even smack-in-the-middle of Nunes country there are oases. So don’t lose faith, fearless readers. That’s my job. ’Til next time.


 

P.S. I forgot to mention, the faculty/directors are a bunch of geniuses…If that makes them feel better about themselves.

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!

 

The Second Amendment is Killing Black Men

About a year ago, I wrote the following on the back of a still unpaid bill.

“The Second Amendment is killing black men.
All black men could have guns, so we have to shoot them.”

It was about #BlackLivesMatter. I HATE the way our criminal justice system targets minorities.

It was also about all the loose guns out on the streets. Guns that must have started their pure and beautiful lives as legally acquired firearms, but somehow, mysteriously, these guns were now on the BLACK market (You know, where the dark skin people buy them, we imagine).

We must always think about black market guns FIRST!! All decisions must be made with imaginary black market guns dancing in the front of your mind. At all times. Because they are out there. They are imaginary. And they are guns…

It’s funny with all these free guns being bought and sold that so many seem to slop out of the soup (gun show loopholes and all…remember “A.B.G.” always be thinking about guns). You’d think with this modern database technology we could keep better track of them, but then they wouldn’t be so free. FREE GUNS, what a sick thought that is.

“Oh, where did I put that pesky gun? It’s worse than my car keys. Ya know, if my head wasn’t sewn to my neck, I’d lose that, too. You know, a .44 could blow my head clean off. It’s true…Now where’s my gun?”

But we have to have a lot of guns around, and a lot of factories stamping them out. And bullets, too. Can’t forget the bullets. You need several thousand rounds near you at all times just to feel even.

But GOD DAMN IT, isn’t it a pain that the bleaks have them, too. Or, more accurately, the imaginary bleaks ALL hypothetically have BLACK market ones…in the dark, at night, when they’re harder to see, unless you are watching them through your trusty night vision scope, which really humanizes the people you see through it.

I wear night vision goggles when I make love, just for that very reason.

Getting back on point, I’m saying that imaginary guns are getting black men killed with real police guns and it is fucked up. There has to be a better way, this can not be the best answer.

The footage I watched tonight of the execution of Stephon Clark was appalling. Looking at the scenario, it is clear there were many options for the outcome that wouldn’t have included unloading two firearms into an unarmed man crouching and hiding in the darkness. Then laying down on his stomach and prostrating himself, in surrender, as the bullets continued to hit his body over and over again, taking his life. And for what? Petty theft? Because our militarized police can hunt our citizens like troops hunting terrorists.

Less real guns in circulation – would mean less imaginary guns in circulation – would mean less reason for police to imagine imaginary guns on the persons of black people – would mean lives saved – would mean police arresting people instead of executing them.

I think that’s a better world. A civilian world without guns. It’s my world. Maybe it could be your world, too. Join us. Melt the guns, now.

#blacklivesmatter is #neveragain.

Totalitarian Creep

I was watching Peter Lassally’s interview on CBS Sunday Morning. He was an Executive Producer on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, but he is also a Nazi Holocaust concentration camp survivor. In the interview, he confessed that, in the last year, he has lost his appetite for fiction and light entertainment. He said he sleeps about 4 hours a night and spends his entire day watching and ingesting news.

So, with his tragic background, Peter Lassally might have some deeper understanding of the stakes we are playing with in pacifying #PresidentShithead. Maybe Lassally has firsthand insight on how a strident minority population can create enough momentum to turn a divided country into despotic, criminal war machine. A criminal war machine that turns on, and scapegoats, its own population with violent and murderous oppression in order to consolidate and maintain power. You think it can’t happen here? Peter Lassally KNOWS BETTER THAN YOU WHAT CAN HAPPEN. He’s watching VERY, VERY closely because of just what he knows. Think on that.

Like Lassally, I have also lost interest in many of the things I used to mindlessly, or by routine, enjoy. For example, I used to listen to Howard Stern in the morning…not anymore! It’s “Morning Joe” for me now. Where I watch recovering Neocons ponder how things went so wrong (oh the innocence of youth…and the “enhanced interrogation techniques”…and the war profiteering…but I’m sure they’ll figure it out someday).

I have appropriated a term to define what has us all so “off our milk”…I call it “Totalitarian Creep”. No, this is not a new nickname for #PresidentShithead, although, yes, by any conceivable measure, the man is a certified “creep”. I am referring to “Totalitarian Creep” – a condition more akin to the global warming of our country’s character. Charmingly, if you search the term “Totalitarian Creep” on Google, you will find the highest ranked results come from posts from the last decade criticizing the Obama administration (isn’t that cute?). Set that aside. Look at this culture. You are living in the midst of Totalitarian Creep.

So how did we get here?

We have a minority political party (the Republican Party, in case you were wondering) that tries to maintain a narrative that we (read as “the conscientious”) are overreacting to #PresidentShithead’s never-ending trolling and mercurial positional inconsistency. They say, when asked about this shitshow of an administration, that we must keep our attention “on the policy, not the man”. So we look at the policy; Robber Baron sponsored deregulation under the banner of Neo-libritarianism (which is really Social Darwinism), Unilateralism based on the unhinged and uninformed whims and moods of #PresidentShithead, a deficit spiking corporate welfare tax reform bill written by the Robber Barons, the purging of non-political Federal employees so they can be replaced with “loyalists”, the dismantling of our nascent National Health Service, an inability to face down our number one foreign threat actor (cowardice most likely inspired by some fucked up blackmail scenario). I could go on-and-on. So we look at the policy (you know, because we were asked to) and it turns out the policies are just as shit as the man himself.

So, to these blind-ass Republicans I say, “You need to wake the fuck up. Look in the mirror. See if there is a wisp of a soul floating around somewhere in the back of one of your glazed-over, nonentity eyeballs. It might be somewhere near the retina. Got a lock on it? Good! Try to commune with that thing (it must be a shriveled little thing). Okay. You have your listening hat on now? I’m just gonna say this right close into your ear, if that’s alright. YOUR PRESIDENT IS TOTALLY FUCKED UP AND IT ISN’T OKAY!!! CLEAN HOUSE, MOTHERFUCKERS!!! BUY A PAIR OF BALLS AND STOP THIS SHIT NOW!!! BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE!!! YOUR POLITICAL FUTURE IS FUCKED ANYWAY!!! SO BE A HERO FOR ONCE IN YOUR SHITTY, SELF-CENTERED-AYN-RAND-WANKING LIVES!!!”

But wait there’s more!

So, this Republican Party, they could have played things differently last year. After all, eight years before that, they viewed and treated Obama as a threat and an aberration, obstructing him for his two full terms. They also race-baited with birtherism, which the Koch’s (i.e, Robber Barons) were only more than glad to parlay into the racism-fueled Tea-Party movement. A movement that loaded the congress with a new class of bought-and-paid-for, moronic, racist, sexist, tax-hating, Social Darwinists. So, yeah, that happened. My point, they have notable experience in obstructionism on their resume.

However, last year, this same Republican leadership, when faced with the ACTUAL threat and aberration that is #PresidentShithead, well, they went a different way this time (surprise, surprise). They checked the weather report, realized where their racist/sexist wedge-base and their corporate overlords were at, and rolled over like the little, bought-and-paid-for bitches they are…midterms to think about, after all.

NEVERMIND Trump has a hard-on for dictators and fancies himself one.
NEVERMIND Trump is steadily rebuilding Federal Law enforcement into a self protection scheme.
NEVERMIND Trump is an unhinged id monster that feeds on his own media.
NEVERMIND Trump is a terrible role model for, literally, anyone.
NEVERMIND Trump is a criminal and a traitor…allegedly.

How fucking stupid are these Republicans? Can’t they see that America needs to heal? We need to get away from this fuck? (This is like the worst abusive marriage of all time. I want a divorce.) Can’t they see that a Chief Executive Twitter troll has to be cut-out, dealt-with? Can’t they see that America is the bastion against dictators? That its anti-dictatorial history is, in fact, the only thing that makes America exceptional? Can’t they give Peter Lassally a fucking break? (Let him get back to his stories…the guy lived through the fucking Holocaust after all.)

Can’t they recognize Totalitarian Creep when it’s at the gate?

Oh yeah, that’s right, they thought Obama was the Totalitarian. UFFA!

We’re fucked.

Married to the Mob

I’m not an expert on organized crime, but I watch a lot of TV and movies. So, I’m not a D.A. or a police detective or an ex-con or a current-con. But I’ve watched the Godfather Trilogy, Goodfellas, Casino, Scarface, The Untouchables, The Sopranos, just to name a few. I also have a general interest in true crime journalism, in print and on TV. I know much of what we see in fiction is, just that, fiction, but there are some universal truths related to how organized crime works, and three specific tenets that I think are significant today.

  1. Illegal money has to be laundered.
  2. Once you become complicit with an organized crime syndicate (for example, conspiring in a money laundering scheme), the syndicate will use this connection as leverage against you (for control, blackmail, extortion, racketeering, etc).
  3. You don’t play along; you can get whacked.

It’s pretty sick stuff, but it works for the bad guys. Fortunately, we have a Federal Bureau of Investigations here in the United States to protect us from organized crime syndicates. Is the FBI perfect? No. Do they make mistakes? Yes. But they are our only and best Army to defend against the ever present threat of organized crime corrupting in our lawful Democracy.

Bottom line, if you are greedy (and morally bereft) then dirty money is hard to turn down. But this initial “handshake” is just your initiation in to being groomed as an asset by the syndicate. Once you put your hands on that dirty money, you are now a co-conspirator and the syndicate owns you…or you go to jail…or you get whacked.

If you are greedy, morally bereft and stupid, you may not understand that this is the deal, you might even think you are clever enough to escape it, but you’re not and it IS the deal, and your stupidity will not save you.

So What?

So why am I going on about this? Because it ties in with my perception of what I am witnessing playing out in our very highest seat of power, in the highest chair of the executive branch of the United States Federal Government.

If I’m perceiving things correctly, #PresidentShithead is being leveraged by an international organized crime syndicate (one that also just happens to be a nation state). This leverage is sticking because he, his company, his campaign, and/or his family is/are somehow complicit, or were complicit, with this syndicate’s very real money laundering activities.

Being leveraged (i.e., owned), our chief executive does not speak out or act in opposition to this syndicate in any way, or at any time, no matter what the syndicate does.

In fact, to go one further, this executive, and his minions, are in the process of a waging a disinformation campaign slandering our FBI. The FBI, like I said, being our only and best protection from organized crime syndicates.

Weird, huh?

And so…

The Mueller probe is going to spill the beans, eventually. And here’s what I’m thinking…

Here’s my prediction. And I’m just waiting for it to come out (if it’s allowed to come out). We are going to learn that it’s no great coincidence that Paul Manafort’s alleged money laundering conspiracy with the syndicate was falling apart in 2015, just prior to his attachment to the Trump campaign. I see this series of events as Manafort being compelled by the syndicate (via leverage) to do a job for them.

ALSO

We are going to get a whole bunch of information about the Trump organization’s financials, showing a longstanding, deep and solvency-sustaining transactional history with the syndicate (i.e., dirty money was touched).

What then…

Oh, it’s going to really suck for this country when it all comes out. A lot of good people (i.e., Republicans and Trumpees) are going to have to take a long, deep look in the mirror and accept they were duped (or, I guess, continue to live in denial).

There will be a constitutional crisis, because Trump will not resign. Say what you will about Nixon, he was not a great man, but he found the decency, humility, dignity and love-for-county to resign when the truth came out. I don’t think Trump will resign, because Trump’s alleged crimes are tied to conspiracies with other nation states, and those are very high crimes, and he is not going to cop to them under any circumstances. He will burn this country down around him before he comes clean.

And look, that’s to be expected. In your experience, do wiseguys sing like canneries at the first sign of trouble? Or instead, do they tend to claim totally innocence? I think the latter. I think it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see an immoral, guilty person stand up and proclaim, “I did it all, and this is how I did it. Let me start with blah blah blah…” NO, it doesn’t go like that. You have to collect all the evidence and throw the book at them.

On one hand, I’m elated… on the other (the much the more significant hand, that is really weighing on my mind), I’m terrified. Truly terrified.

But anything has to be better than being married to the mob.

Musicrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)

 

In 1984, I was watching MTV and saw the “World Premiere” of the music video for the Eurythmic’s Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four), the single from the soundtrack album they produced for the movie adaptation of George Orwell’s seminal novel.

I can remember watching it in deep confusion. Being a child, I had no context to understand the intercut movie footage, its monochrome tone themed after Soviet Russia. I was, however, familiar with the Eurythmics, as their initial hit single/video Sweet Dreams was in heavy rotation. That video had abstract imagery and Annie Lennox’s androgynous persona, which I also didn’t get…but I didn’t get a lot of what I saw on MTV. I ingested it. I accepted it. Did I get it? I don’t think so. At the time, I didn’t even understand that the Village People were, ya know, “open minded”.

So, when I saw this 1984 video back in the day, I just thought, “Wow, the Eurythmics are weird.” It was disposable, washed over me, next.

Years later, in high school, I read the novel, saw the movie on glorious SD VHS…and that’s an essay in itself, because those experiences blew my mind and changed my life, my world view…but this essay is purely about the Eurythmics, that song, and that video. WOOF!

I want to be clear, I think the Eurythmics are a great band, with an excellent catalog of creative, innovative and catchy songs, and Annie Lennox is one of the great female vocalists, period…But this song and video, in the last year, has caused me sooo much pain. Sooo much pain. To put it in MST3K speak, “Deep Hurting”.

Just watch the video…IF YOU DARE! I did, about a year ago, out of curiosity when I was re-reading the novel, and I haven’t been the same since. It infected me, like the tape from The Ring. I think the most hurtful part, for me personally, is the chorus (?). From the doot-doot-doot-boop-boops right through to the monotone vocoder effected “1984”, it’s catchy…like the Black Plague. If you get infected by this earworm, you may very likely begin to wish for “the long-hoped-for bullet” to enter your brain…just to stop the doot-doot-doots…which will not stop…will never stop. And it doesn’t help that the novel’s themes are in the zeitgeist. I see something in the news, I have a thought about Newspeak, or the like, and the doot-doot-doots start again (Why wont they STOP?!).

AND the video itself is just so painful and ill-conceived. It’s like a parody of a parody of the MTV 80s. Just the idea of Orwell’s novel being cross promoted with pop-music is insane! Fucking INSANE! And now, in 2018, we have to live with the ramifications…doot-doot-doot (KILL ME!).

Who’s the Snake?

Since #PresidentShithead decided to dust off one of his Greatest Shits, “The Snake”, at CPAC, I thought it only appropriate to ask, “Who is the Snake, again?”

I immediately thought, “This sound bite needs to be set to animation with Trump as the Snake and Lady Liberty as the…ya know, Lady.” I checked the internet and saw political cartoonist Bill Day beat me to the punch. And in getting ahead of me, he created a beautiful style guide. And look, the cartoon is great, but I think the #NEVERAGAIN kids need to see this baby fully animated to really get the point across.

I would do it myself, but, as I’ve previously stated, drawing is hard. So I nominate others to do the hard work I refuse to do myself, like any dedicated Liberal should.

Shit! Let’s make this a competition!

I want to call out the following people to each create individual cartoons based on the idea I had (that Bill Day just happened to have before me… so it is not, technically, stealing):

  • @psychicpebbles
  • @colbertlateshow
  • @geraldscarfe
  • @MikeJudge
  • @SouthPark
  • @JohnKricfalusi
  • @schoolhouserock

We’ll do a Twitter poll to determine the winner. We want to be fair and let the Russian Twitter Bots have a say, too.

Deadline for submissions is before the world ends.