One Branch Away from Political Domination GOP One-Party Rule: Legislative, Executive, Judicial Branches.

ANDREW HARNIK / AP

In my lifetime, I’ve seen two wars, two political assassinations and two assassination attempts, two political scandals: Watergate and Monicagate, as well as several terrorist attacks and two recessions.

And now once again I find myself in the middle of another seismic social shift in a country reeling from political and cultural turmoil.

We live in chaotic times. Our country has been in a constitutional crisis since January 2017.

There. I said it, even if the media pundits won’t. They carefully parse their words when discussing the proverbial tipping point of a constitutional crisis.

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Freedom of Speech Is A License to Speak — Use It, Or Lose It!

As writers, we have a responsibility to speak out when things get under our skin and poke at our gut in an unrelenting way.

Words that evoke emotion or provoke thought is what writers do and should be doing, especially now at a time of one-party government led by an authoritarian bent president.

Jessica Kourkounis via Getty Images Breannamarsh15 via Reddit

Yes, our President has authoritarian tendencies. He embraces dictators like Putin, Duterte, and Erdogan and condemns our democratic allies — And no, I’m not speaking as a progressive, though I wear the label proudly. I’m speaking as a citizen of our great democracy, as someone who can’t sleep at night when I think about the man who sits in the oval office with a temperament of a five-year-old.

You may have noticed that his epidermis is thin. He can’t take criticism or responsibility for his actions or words. He has no problem blaming others for his mistakes then sacrificing them to save himself. His only loyalties are to his family and his bank accounts. That is the only constant in a chaotic administration ruled by an unstable man.

His masculinity is threatened if he’s not a “winner” or doesn’t have the biggest crowds. *wink* *wink* He responds to unflattering accusations by lashing out with pompous, incredulous lies to protect his manhood, while undermining the institutions that are a framework of our democracy: the press, the intelligence agencies, the judicial branch, the scientists and the laws that he believes don’t apply to him.

You might think he’s dumb or crass or inept at diplomacy. It doesn’t matter. He is capable of destroying us by the power he wields in the highest office, along with the controlling party of one that enables him, putting party over country to hold onto power.

The GOP started their power grab years ago by redefining electoral districts through Gerrymandering. They continued their absorption of power and deference to the powerful by hijacking Obama’s supreme court seat to keep the court conservative, by denying the reality of science for the sake of oil company profits, and by tweaking the Senate rules to favor lobbyists and special interest groups. If they approve Trump’s budget, they’ll cut programs for the poor and middle class and change the tax code to enrich the rich, allowing billionaires to control our country like Russian oligarchs — the men Trump admires and emulates.

It isn’t paranoid to think there could be a political shift in this country from democracy to autocracy. The cracks are evident in our divided political system and the uncertainty of what is real or false. Thanks to Trump’s cult-like repetition ridiculing and demeaning the “dishonest media” and branding them as “an enemy of the people.”

Undermining and vilifying the media is a playbook often used by dictators to effect a radical change in government.

“The phrase “enemy of the people” — that has a history. The only people that I know that have used that phrase were (Joseph) Stalin and the people who succeeded Stalin in the Soviet Bloc,” Nadler said. “The press is not the ‘enemy of the people.’ Nobody is an ‘enemy of the people,’ because they disagree with me or you about what we ought to be doing.”

During Trump’s recent overseas trip, he shut out the media, conducted press briefings off camera, and never held a press conference in order to control the coverage. According to MSNBC reporter Kelly O’Donnell:

When world leaders convened at the G7 Summit in Italy, the United States was the only country that didn’t hold press conferences:

If we ignore signs of the erosion of our freedoms or dismiss the notion as progressive neurosis or hysterical hyperbole, autocracy will blindside us one day.

It has happened before to people in nations content in their complacency of unintended ignorance. It happened while they sleepwalked through their day and missed the legislative creep of plutocratic policy passed by their leaders, as they pulled the strings that unraveled the fabric of society.

Whether we agree or disagree on right/left wedge issues is irrelevant, as long as we can agree that we need to be free in order to disagree.

America Elects Its Next Celebrity President

Trump Thank You TourIt’s not surprising that Trump won the election. Americans love reality television. Millions of viewers tune it to watch Survivor every Wednesday night, others can’t survive without their Tuesday fix of Dancing with the Stars. When the election mutated into a spin-off of The Apprentice, Americans couldn’t get enough of Trump’s on-the-trail antics, some of it funny, some of it scary, yet entertaining all the same.

The media also embraced the campaign’s carnival-like atmosphere, analyzing Trump’s tweets and monitoring his rallies, waiting for him to say something outrageous that would drive the 24/7 news cycle. Every day, it seemed, a Trump narrative dominated the headlines, stealing airtime from Hillary. Even when Trump wasn’t the focus of the news, his response to Hillary’s bad press became news when he inevitably stepped on the story with one of his blunders.

“This one will sink him,” the talking heads predicted, first during the primaries and then the campaign.

“He’s the Teflon Don,” another shot back. “Nothing has sunk him yet.”

That turned out to be accurate. No matter how outrageous or inflammatory Trump could be, his supporters stuck by their guy. He was entertaining, wasn’t politically correct (to a fault). He spoke to them like a friend and was somebody they wanted to have a beer with. His recognizable face and brand made them feel warm and fuzzy. They knew this guy. They had watched him on TV: The Apprentice, the Miss America Pageant, and Access Hollywood. While Hillary became ensnared in a character battle with Trump that brought out her greatest weaknesses, Trump was celebrated for his. “It was just Trump being Trump,” the guy who was everything that Washington was not.

He was the anti-presidential candidate. Though his negatives were higher than Hillary’s was, it became an asset for him, not for her. He was, Mr. Reality TV, was supposed to be outrageous and politically incorrect. That was his brand.

The Clinton campaign made a grave error using character as their focus of the campaign. Character was her greatest weakness, his greatest strength… because he was the likable reality TV star, she, the dishonest wonk, according to Trump and his supporters. The Clintons underestimated the power of a reality TV star and the audience that adored and trusted him. Even if Trump supporters thought he was a clown, he was a clown they knew. They didn’t really know Hillary, even though she had been active in politics for many years. They had heard about Benghazi and Monica Lewinsky. Knew they shouldn’t like her. But not until the email scandal and Trump’s branding of her as “Crooked Hilary,” was her character transformation complete. A complicit media that had an appetite for demonizing Clinton, assisted in propelling the narrative that Trump had created.

The media fell in love with Trump, the rating’s magnet; they adored him, even when abused by him, and overlooked facts for the sake of audience market share. They followed Trump’s Twitter activity more than leads on his questionable business dealings and character flaws. Had the media latched onto Trump’s taxes as firmly as Hillary’s emails, Trump may have been forced to release them before he takes the Oath of Office on January 20th.

I thought the media would have learned their lessons from the campaign. But they continue to allow Trump to drive the narrative, dictate the script, while they report on every tweet. They treat him like a TV star, not a president-elect. They embrace his weaknesses: his thin skin and erratic behavior, to bolster their ratings, instead of reporting on how his flaws could adversely affect our country and the world. They want to cultivate favors with the new president-elect, not alienate him.

While we watch Trump captivate the media with his outrageous statements: his bigotry, bullying, xenophobia, and sexism, as he flip-flops on his campaign promises (mostly overlooked by the press) — America loses its soul. Because they elected a celebrity they thought they knew, but really didn’t know.

The media and their audience focused on Trump’s shenanigans instead of his backstory: his global financial ties, not vetted, Russian involvement in the election (and possible coordination with the Trump campaign) mostly glossed over, along with the Trump Foundation and Trump University.

The media didn’t hound Trump to release his taxes and his supporters didn’t care if he released them or not. They believed Trump when he told them that he was under audit and that the “dishonest media” was out to get him, would crucify him if he released his taxes. By defusing the media’s influence, questioning the veracity of every negative story about him, Trump became the media authority, the only honest news source according to Trump. Because of his recognizable brand and power of celebrity to “grab them by the pussy” or “do whatever the hell I want,” he seduced the American people, who idolized their TV star, and convinced them that he would “Make America Great Again,” despite not having substantial plans to backup his claims.

Because the media embraced the notion that Americans wanted to be entertained, not informed, we are now involuntary participants in a reality TV show, unlike anything we’ve seen before. No one received a call from central casting, and yet we have accepted our roles as the electorate in a Trump presidency.

As in all reality TV shows, there will be winners and losers. However, if President-elect Trump’s cabinet picks are an indication of what to expect in future episodes, there will be no winners, except for the star and cast of the Trump POTUS TV show that will run for four consecutive seasons on every station.

We will be a captive audience whether we like it or not.

In Dog We Trust

Mixed-breed dog doing dog agility Mix of a Que...Image via Wikipedia

Barking Up the Far Right Tree in Straw Poll, Iowa

With a purebred to mutt ratio of 2 to 1, the recent Iowa vote reflected the views of the majority of Straw Poll voters, the Bulldogs and Hounds.

When asked if Dog belonged in politics, Harry Hound bayed, “Buuuuuuuuut of course, who better to keep the American mutt in a pack-speak mentality than an Alpha Dog.  Society is more orderly with Dog in charge.”

The others in the crowd agreed, wagging their tails in unison while peeing on a portion of lawn fashioned after the Constitution.

Harry Hound added. “It says right here on the grass, written in poo, ‘In Dog We Trust.’”

“Isn’t it true that you’re dyslexic,” Rabid Reporter said.

“We’ll leave that decision to the citizens of this taerg country.”

Mutt onlookers sat watching from the gallery, with ears pinned back, tails stuck between their legs; they started to howl, “Owwwwwt! Kick the bitches Owwwwwt!”

The Mutts panted nervously, as Maggie Three Breeds nosed her way through the crowd and nudged Rabid Reporter’s hand.

“I’d like to make a statement,” Maggie said, hocked up a grass loogie and continued. “Every family unit is a pack with its own Dog in charge. Putting the pack and Dog into politics is a dangerous precedent,” she warned.

“Then, the Buck doesn’t stop here. The Buck stops by the banks where the only cash flows and gets mauled by Paper Pusher Predators that corral all the Bucks and Does. No, Dog does not belong in politics. Dog belongs in the home with the family pack.”

Happy barking echoed from the Mutt gallery crowd.

“And out!” Rabid Reporter said, then followed Harry Hound’s scent to the staging area that reeked of expensive pee. “Would you like to respond to what Maggie Three Breeds said?”

After Harry Hound finished licking his balls, he turned to address the purebred elite.

“Dog rules. Mutts drool,” Harry shouted. “Without Dog in politics, all the mutts would run free, muddying the culture of our purebred theocracy. Long live Dog. In Dog We Trust!”

After the howling subsided, the Dog handlers grabbed the voters and shoved them into their pens.

“It’s better if they think that they’re in charge,” Big Biz said, and lugged the purebreds to the next stop on the low road of the Dog and Ponzi show.

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Trump Considers Presidential Run on Girther Party Ticket

Donald Trump in February 2009Image via Wikipedia

Last week, America’s favorite crazy billionaire uncle, Donald Trump, or “The McDonald,” if you love burgers and clowns, announced his candidacy for President of the United States to a group of bus boys and coat check girls in the back room of Trump Casino.

In a rambling two-hour speech that included staff directives on “shining silverware until he could check his teeth with a spoon,” and heartwarming personal revelations on “how his shock of hair was really an imported Persian rug,” ended the staff meeting by announcing that he would be running for President on the Girther ticket.

Floyd Flummox, who covers national politics for Apathy Press and accidentally wandered into the meeting while looking for the bathroom, asked Trump why he decided to run on the Girther Ticket, a little known wing of the Republican party that believes in trimming the fat from the budget instead of their butts.

In his signature monotone style, Trump told Flummox,“That’s a very good question, Floyd. The fact is President Obama is just too skinny. We need a President with more bulk around the waist, someone you can spot on the ground from 37,000 feet. I’m talking about a large man, Floyd, a man that Spanish space aliens refer to as “un hombre corpulento.” You see, Floyd, we need a bigger ass to fill the seat in the oval office. And I’m that guy.”

Trump then went on to discuss upcoming specials at the Trump Speakeasy in the basement of a Wall Street pub. “If you can beat the house at poker, I’ll give you ten $50 chips, no money down. I swear to God.”

According to Flummox, Trump spoke at length about God and his affect on Trump’s business Christian values. Flummox cited a recent interview by David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network in which Trump spoke passionately about his love of God and classic Christian books.

Brody: I understand a lot of people send you Bibles. Is that true?

Trump: Well I get sent Bibles by a lot of people.

Brody: Where are all those Bibles?

Trump: Actually, we keep them at a certain place. A very nice place. But people send me Bibles. And you know it’s very interesting. I get so much mail and because I’m in this incredible location in Manhattan you can’t keep most of the mail you get.

There’s no way I would ever throw anything, to do anything negative to a Bible, so what we do is we keep all of the Bibles. 

It will be difficult for other candidates to trump Trump’s savvy media campaign. Even before primary season officially begins, the Donald has already started making cuts, as it appears he’s playing with only half a deck.

Thanks to Alex Pareene at Salon and his editorial Donald Trump is losing it where I first read about the Brody interview.

Do you think Donald Trump should be President?
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Government Nightmares: Starring Chef Gordon Ramsay

CHEF RAMSAY
Bug off. The lot of you. You can’t make a bloody deal. What’s so bleeping hard? C’mon now! I don’t have all day.

HARRY REID
I don’t understand. I’m the head of the Senate. I’ve always made a great deal. Maybe I took the deal out of the Senate too soon.

CHEF RAMSAY
Prodding a pile of papers
Look at this!  

The pile falls, scattering papers all over the floor.

CHEF RAMSAY
This is the worst piece of shit I’ve ever seen.

JOHN BOEHNER
Weeping  uncontrollably
I don’t know what happened.

CHEF RAMSAY
You’ve got to pull yourself together, man. Focus and start it all over again.

JOHN BOEHNER
It’s the abortion component.

CHEF RAMSAY
Do you honestly expect me to believe that? Go fuck off! Pathetic, utterly pathetic. C’mon now. It’s just a deal! For Christ’s sake, I can’t believe what I’m hearing.

JOHN BOEHNER
Wipes tears with a hankie
I’m really trying, Chef. I’m head of the House. I can bake, sauté or broil a deal with one hand tied behind my back.

CHEF RAMSAY
Well get to it then, you. Move your ass or piss off.

Reid and Boehner step aside for another try at making a deal. Papers fly. Voices get louder. A fistfight breaks out. Chef Ramsey steps in and separates the two.

CHEF RAMSAY
What is bloody wrong with you? I strive for perfection. I have standards, you know. I don’t see that in either of you. Now piss off! The both of you. This deal is a total utter mess. You’ve left me no choice. Just shut it down!

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Corporate Tax Avoidance Syndrome: Signs, Symptoms and Causes.

Is There a Cure
for Corporate Tax Avoidance Syndrome?

Yes, Collective Outrage!

For a nice blood pressure spike, swing by PayUpNow.org and read the list of corporations beside GE that are not paying taxes.
Although for our purposes, I’m going to shine a light on GE.
In Jayne’s latest weekend recap posted at her wonderfully witty and informative site injaynesworld, Jayne smacks down GE for not paying any U.S.Taxes in 2009 and 2010.

But is Jayne being too tough on the poor GE billionaires? Paying taxes is so proletarian.

Why shouldn’t GE be able to keep every penny of their $14.2 billion profits they made in 2010 — $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States — and spread the wealth among their top 1% earning cronies? How else will they be able to keep making those monthly payments on their yachts and planes.

After reading Jayne’s post, I was so friggin angry that I had to comment. Then Jayne commented back and suggested that I publish my response in a blog post, which is the reason we are all here today — all three of us.

This is what I wrote (slightly edited for flow):

I was just watching a report on Caterpillar Corporation. The Caterpillar CEO is threatening to move the company out of Illinois because the state raised the state income tax by 2 1/2%, which could cost the state 23,000 jobs.

Despite the fact that…

“Caterpillar’s Profits for 2010 $2.7 BILLION, An increase of 202% from 2009.”

And the CEO is complaining about paying more taxes. WTF? No problem. The middle class can pick up the slack. We’ll cut back on luxury items like vegetables and eat Ketchup instead. After all, Ketchup is another food group.

The teachers will also help reduce the corporate tax burden when they lose their jobs due to cut backs. Then the schools can pack the kids into classrooms like cattle. Because that’s all we are. Dumb cattle that follow our politicians and corporate overlords to slaughter.

What is wrong with this country? Corporations barely pay anything in taxes, aren’t taxed when they take their business overseas, and are allowed to hide their money in off shore bank accounts. No wonder the country is broke.

Warning: To my Republican friends, the following is an angry commentary on the Republican tax cuts. There’s still time to look away. 

If the Republicans have their way, funding will be cut for programs such as meals on wheels, Planned Parenthood (they provide other medical services beside abortions), nutrition, Head Start, job training grants, and EPA regulations will be eliminated.

Me thinks the Republicans want to plunge the country into an even deeper recession to completely destroy the middle class in addition to Obama’s presidency.

Sadly, George Carlin was right. Corporations run the country. We’ll be going to the video tape shortly.

Life has changed forever. Employment has changed forever. The new reality is that folks have to survive on several part-time jobs with less pay and without benefits, which isn’t anything like friends with benefits.

How do you stop an enemy that not only produces the fabric of our society but sells the fabric, too? You don’t – 1984. Now I’m really depressed.

Now, to borrow Jayne’s words: Here’s a little bit about “The American Dream” from the genius of the late George Carlin.  Recorded in 2005, it’s even more timely today…

What say you about all the bulk in corporate bank accounts?
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