A Brief History of the World, Winston Smith edition

First, according to astrophysicists, there was nothing. Nada. Zilch. Tabula rasa. Then that nothingness somehow exploded. Can you say big bang? Congratulations! To, uh, whatever produced the big bang, as it gave birth to what is referred to as the universe. According to scientific investigation, that was approximately 13.8 billion years ago. Then, around 13 billion years ago, the first stars begin to burn, their glow taking its sweet time to reach…well “us”; but let’s not get too far ahead here since “us” at this point in the life of the universe is still WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY off.

Moving on, about 4.6 billion years ago our solar system begins to come together and with it the birth our life-sustaining sun. Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, and thus one of the charter members of our universe, which early on had no stars or planets. Stars were forged from atoms of hydrogen and helium, while new chemical elements were created inside the dying stars (birth and death, it’s inescapable, eh?). Planets and moons formed from blobs of ice and dust using these new chemicals and elements, and the first living cell evolved in the rich chemical environments of rocky planets.

Then, 3.8 billion years ago, comes the earliest forms of life on our very special planet we call Earth. These were mostly single cell life forms. Not too sophisticated but, hey, back then they were the entire show. And that “show” was a long-running production, with virtually zero competition for attention for the next 3.2 billion years. Okay, so let’s do the math: 3.2 billion from 3.8 billion=600 million , as in years ago, larger life forms appear. Those bigger living things had the stage for a mere 593 million (or so) years, when ‘only” 7 million years back our human lineage splits from that of the Chimpanzee. That “break-away” from the chimp world, over the next 5 million years, produced the–ta da!–homo erectus. This new “standing man” then becomes the species known as Homo sapiens, a classification that is marked at about at 200,000 years ago. Hey, from Big Bang to standing man. In a mere 4 billion, 599 million, 999.8 thousand years.

Or, in just three paragraphs on this blog entry.

A brief history, okay?

Standing man hasn’t always had it easy, though. Life was rough and tumble. Maslow’s pyramid of ascending needs would have to have several sub-basements to signify the ordeal of simply staying alive back in that day. Today’s homeless population live elite lifestyles compared to Homo neanderthalensis. Basic food and shelter? Life was always a bitch, no doubt. And then , as already noted, they would die. But enough of standing man got off his/her feet to copulate and Homo sapiens endured, right through the last ICE AGE, some 10,000 years ago. After that frosty kick in the loin cloth-covered asses of our species by the forces of nature, it was but 5,000 years ago that cities began to appear on the planet. 3,000 years later, standing man had developed its survival instincts and desire to be the masters of their–and other’s–domains, with the Han and Roman empires. Little by little, by about 500 years ago, exploration and discovery by our species started to link the world together. For better or worse. Mostly worse, in my estimation.

Formal knowledge, the refinement of arts and sciences, elevated our human place on planet earth. In the past 150 years industrialization has given us railroads, jet airplanes, radio and television and space travel. Just 50 years ago we landed on the moon, an event that for a brief moment in time, was at once inspirational and mesmerizing in its realization, and as such, transcended race, ethnicity, or nationality in a most powerful and positive sense of shared pride in our humanity. And it was quite a momentary antidote to a world in which over the previous 200 or so years having been marred by revolutionary wars here and abroad, the U.S.civil war, World Wars I & II, (the latter of which produced an another awesome, if not a Kumbaya, event called the creation–and deployment–of the atomic bomb), the Korean and Vietnam wars, and at this point in time bloodshed far and wide. More empires. Less humanism.

Now, here we are early in the first month of year 2019. Unless you are one of the Homo sapiens that has succumbed to a de-evolutionary modus operandi, and cannot think on your own, unable to truly engage your brain, not able to determine basic right from wrong, nor distinguish a stone cold fact from an inference to a bald face lie, you might have heard about, and perhaps become concerned for our planet, all 4.6 billion years old as it is. What am I getting at? Well, while the Big Bang theory says we came from nothing, (go figure) ever since, and as been alluded to earlier, all forms of life on this planet come and go. You know, born to die. In comparison to mother earth, we are all around for a nano second of a wee smaller nanosecond of a fraction of a fraction of a blink of an eye. Hope to live to be 110? No different. By the time you were born to your demise, you (all of us, okay?) relatively speaking were barely here at all! But reproduction keeps humankind around, whether one is using that brain very well or not. Among the scientists whom are most involved with the life span of our planet–which, mind you, is inevitably as with all else, going to die–they assert we have reached an “existential crisis”. It’s called climate change. And the virtual consensus of climate scientists is that our planet is sick. Very sick. Human activity is hastening our planet’s demise–and standing man and woman will eventually pass away when the sphere beneath our feet no longer can support itself, or us.

What are we humans doing about this crisis? Apparently not much. Certainly not nearly enough. In the decade that ran from 1979-1989 we had an excellent opportunity to solve this climate crisis. The world’s major powers came within several signatures of endorsing a binding, global framework to reduce carbon emissions–far closer than we have ever come since. During those years, the conditions for success could not have been more favorable. The obstacles we blame for that inaction are still emerging. But now, as back then, the only thing standing in the way of saving the planet is…ourselves.

And by ourselves, I include a particular person who is an avowed science-denier when it comes to looming climate collapse: this person is deeply, profoundly flawed. Okay, nobody is perfect but…this person is a sociopath. This person is a racist. Indeed, he is a white supremacist. He is a misogynist. A homophobe. A xenophobe. A failed businessman. A con man. As bad as all that is, the worst part is he has been allowed to be the President of our country. Oh, and one who evidently colluded with Mother Russia and its evil strongman, V. Putin, during his campaign. This man is not helping with much except to create chaos and consternation amongst critical thinkers. Sadly, this person has followers. I call them “pod people” (after the people in Invasion of the Body Snatchers whose beings are overtaken by insidious pods being slipped near them as they slumbered, to awake and become zombie like automatons in the grip of alien forces). Today’s Pod People have brains, but they are a waste of gray matter. Podsters don’t seem to care about anything but what their “leader” thinks and does. But more than any creepy flaw he has clearly displayed, it’s that science-denying one that is the most dangerous here, in 2019.

Sadly, in my informed, personal opinion, it may be 2019, but I’m beginning to feel as though it is really 1984. As in the dystopian world penned by George Orwell in 1949, shortly after the carnage of World War II. In it, Orwell created Big Brother. A glossary of terms from that seminal novel would include, doublethink, hate week, newspeak, speakwrite, thought police, and thoughtcrime. Doesn’t sound like a Disney narrative, eh?Now, I am not saying we are actually immersed in Orwell’s nightmare vision of the future, as he saw it back in 1949, but there are indications that, since our current occupant of the White House took residence there in January of 2017, it certainly sounds and seems as though we are getting closer to an Orwellian nightmare than safely secured from any such approximation of it.

For example, a few nights ago, the corporate, mainstream media once again demonstrated its collusion in this country’s ever-increasing descent into creepy, dark political cynicism. How so? By granting a prominent platform for the dissemination of blatant propaganda and fear mongering by the above alluded to White House denizen.

The various major media outlets, both broadcast and cable, were asked to permit this person, who has been clearly and credibly identified as a bona-fide, dissembling demagogue to speak to we the people. The heads of these news outlets could not possibly have acted any more irresponsibly by agreeing to provide prime-time coverage for this person and his intended reason for seeking their assistance. After all, he was not addressing the vital–and ever more desperate–need for climate action. Of course not. He, at best, willfully denies the reality of climate change, or actually is unable to process the credible evidence that has been around for-as noted–several decades by now. He wasn’t talking about making healthcare more affordable for all of we the people, nor was he addressing the need for more affordable means of getting a college education. He wasn’t announcing a plan to address re-building our rotting national infrastructure, or creating a living wage policy to help the average person make ends meet without working two or more jobs.

No, he was give the national airwaves to potentially enter into the living rooms–Little Brother?–of every household, to demand several billion dollars for a “wall” to separate the U.S. from its neighboring countries to the south. He claimed–without evidence– that the border is not secure, and that those coming here included rapists, murderers, drug dealers and terrorists. All while our federal government has been shut down for almost three weeks as a means of showing he means business.

The Orwellian part of his being on the airwaves so pervasively is that there was no obligation on the part of the media to grant him time to spew his nonsense, all of which is at the expense of that evidence-based existential crisis known as the climate crisis that increasingly threatens our planet. The heads of each of those major media outlets could have easily declared his request as being so blatantly a political stunt that they could not possibly be so irresponsible as to let him have the airwaves to advance its unworthiness. The fact that they didn’t is extremely disturbing.

Orwell’s book, by the way, has become something of a new best seller in the past couple of years. Art imitates life? Ugh. Well, we’re not that far gone yet, but the media created this orange-hued occupant of the White House, and it could destroy him just as easily. We don’t have to listen to him even if the media continues to provide a platform for further prevarication, division and hate speech. But we shouldn’t have to willfully ignore what should never have been allowed to become a reality in the first place. What happened on Tuesday evening was a dangerous symptom of incipient Orwellianism, in my estimation.

After 4.6 billion years, here we are, my fellow Homo sapiens. We are the problem. Of course we are. We must have asked for this or else why has it become a reality? When did basic right and wrong become so jumbled in so many people’s minds? How can we be so easily led astray? Who and what are we paying attention to? So, as mother earth continues to wheeze and convulse, the clock is ticking. You can take time out for a break, but you can’t take a break from time, right? I’d say, time to take a break from taking break from thinking about the present and the future. You can change the dial, or turn off that tv, leave cyberspace and connect with reality. I mean, can’t we do better than this? This is what we have evolved into since leaving ChimpWorld?

4.6 billion years from nothing to the moon and back. And it was televised! Now, our media has become a tool for misinformation, disinformation, insipid celebrity cults, bread and circuses. It is everywhere and nowhere. Newspeak. Doublethink. Hate week. Thoughtcrime. Far fetched? Let’s hope so. But sometimes, lately, I feel a bit like Orwell’s protagonist, Winston Smith in 1984. But I’m hoping for a happier ending than Winston’s. 

If your brain is critically engaged and your eyes wide open, I’d say you–as I–are all insipiently becoming Mr.Smith.

 

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What News?, AG Barr edition

You’ve heard the expression if it bleeds, it leads? If not, it refers to the inclination of many television news programs, especially the local news stations (many of them affiliates of NBC, ABC, CBS) to begin their broadcast with some report on blood having been shed somewhere. Somewhere as in likely not anywhere close to 99% of the viewing audience. In my Chicago area, there is usually no shortage of gun violence leaving one or more persons dead, be it a result of a targeted or seemingly impulsive killing, on a street corner or in a club, outside the club, at a gas station or in someone’s home. The victims of these bloody narratives might have paid for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or because he or she owed money or drugs. Not that the reason matters to Brad Blowdry and Brenda Breathless, the human templates for the typical duo who serve as the bearers of this deadly news, who usually mechanically shake their heads to acknowledge their disapproval and sadness about the story before moving on to other important matters. Like the weather. Even if the weather is PERFECT, the staff meteorologist dutifully breaks down the essentials of temperature, wind speeds, and a glimpse of what the future may hold. If the weather is in the least adverse, it will be broken down with intricate analysis and a promise that Mr. or Ms. Weatherperson will keep close track of developments.

The exception to this first several minutes of the broadcast occurs when the lead-in, bloody story is really, really big news, as in yet another mass shooting. However, even the mass shootings seem to get coverage proportional to the number of dead involved in the event. Seriously. There’s been so many of them that a “leader board” could be charted for quick visual reference to the historical magnitude of each. Three or four dead? Borderline sensational, unless it has happened in the nearby broadcast area. What video is there? Is the shooter dead or on the run? 10 or more dead and it demands longer, more probing consideration. If the carnage is in the dozens, it’s “team coverage” and unless the horror played out locally, reporters are dispatched to ask local authorities what is to prevent such an incident from happening closer to home? If the mass shooting has a quantifying shock value to consider, it even kicks that all-important weather report out of the broadcast completely (leaving the viewer to step outside to get a hint). But, one way or another, the newscasts, even the national evening news, stick to lead-ins that offer a story whose implications are capable of eliciting a what the hell?! response from its audience. Maybe the lead-in isn’t bloody at all. But there’s turmoil out there somewhere, right? Oh, is there ever…

Naturally we all hope there won’t be another mass shooting–anywhere. Or that the innocent child isn’t picked off as collateral damage on the mean streets of urban USA. But that’s hoping for a lot, no?

Sensational news? For me, it has become difficult to be shocked by much anymore. I’ve lived to see decades of coverage that invokes how bad things can be, far and wide. Unfortunately, we now even have “fake news” as a common usage term—even invoked by the news media that the expression seeks to mock! Truth? You want the truth? Can you handle the truth? So, the weather report has been cut due to that HUGE story. If someone says it’s cloudy and about to rain, and someone else says it’s sunny and not going to rain, do you treat both opinions as having equal credibility , or do you simply step outside and check the weather yourself? Weather reports aside, in journalism, it used to be check it out before reporting/repeating something. Not so much these days. Otherwise, how is it that there’s so much anger and divisiveness in the air these days, with shouting matches replacing honest, reasoned debate? Fake news? That expression has come along in just the last few years. It comes from the human mouth or the digitally delivered Twitter-mouth of a certain someone residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Methinks that come tomorrow, the fake news perpetrator will be hogging the headlines more so than he has ever hogged them before–and we know how the media loves to simply repeat his blatherings, rather than stepping outside and looking for what’s really there to see. Or not see what has been purported to be there. Why? What’s so special about tomorrow? That Mueller report, of course. Barring a mass shooting of grotesque proportions or an invasion by alien creatures from deep space, it’ll be a day when that elusive “truth” will be debated and argued over (reasonably? Hmm.). Except, there isn’t going to be much to actually see in the report. It’s clear that AG Barr will have redacted chunks of the 400 page document. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for either the media or congress to demand to see what has been blacked out. I mean, c’mon. When has the media or congress done anything to challenge the typically implausible, reality-denying, derisive, hateful, nonsensical, impulsive, petty vitriol that has emanated from 1600 Mar-A-Lago?

That’s tomorrow’s big story. In case you missed other news from far and wide: 150 children–on average–per day die of malnutrition in Yemen. A piece of legislation was advanced by our usually less-is-more modus operandi that guides most of congress to end U.S. support of that Saudi-backed war. Benedict Donald vetoed the legislation. He seems to prefer the bloody Saudi regime more than those Yemenite children. But we know kids don’t count for him, as in the children of the brown-skinned refugees, offspring of those “rapists and drug dealers” that he insists are their parents. Who must be kept out of our country. Which he says “is full”. And speaking of the Saudi regime, I read a blurb stating that in spite of the proven regime-ordered murder of Mr.Khashoogi, a reporter who actually worked hard to expose the Truth about the corrupt and bloody Saudi royal family, that business is again booming for them. So much for the consequences threatened following the grisly documentation of that murder/dismemberment.

Oh, and back to AG Barr. He ordered that those migrants/refugees being held by our government near the southern border cannot be granted bond. Thus, they may remain in confinement for…well…until hell freezes over, which would be an ironic twist on weather reporting being kinda overblown by the media. Not to mention, when there’s the not so unusual historic storm or weather event there’s no mention of the documented climate change that threatens Mother Earth. Which reminds me of another blurb I saw reporting that a couple hundred Extinction Rebellion protestors were arrested in London recently. Talk of ironic! They get arrested, while the Saudi Prince who–as proven– ordered Khashoogi’s murder is not. Isn’t this one wacky world, my fellow humanoids?

Oh wait. Another irony. Extinction Rebellion? Climate change. The end of life on planet Earth. Guess who doesn’t believe that’s a problem? Hint. He doesn’t seem to like children..

But what the hell? It’s all bread and circuses that really matters to many of us. For instance, back to Chicago for a moment. Very recently, there was the annual (starting in 1999) Star Wars convention in town. That “bleed and lead” mentality at play with news broadcast? I recall at least a couple of local stations actually LEADING with THAT “news” when the convention started. And 30,000 or more people packed the convention hall for the 3-day event (almost 100,000 for the weekend?). I wonder: do those attendees–most of whom are grown adults–have a life at all? I also wonder how many of them pay attention to what is actual news.

Bread and circuses. One more blurb I have to mention. And this really is important news! Kim Kardashian wants to become a lawyer.

Star Wars? I don’t get it. Never got Star Trek either. But one thing I’ll say for Star Trek (which has its own convention too) is that it did provide one of my favorite expressions, one that seems so fitting in our Mad Magazine, Looney Tunes world-at-large:

Beam me up Scotty. (implying that, and this is NOT fake news, there’s not much intelligent life detected by Scotty, from wherever he needs being beamed back from; or at least I like going with that tag).

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Reality Bites

I came across a great quote by that brooding philosopher Nietzsche that is surprisingly positive at the expense of a perceived negativity: We have art so that we shall not die of reality. See what I mean? Art good. Reality, not. Well, it’s not that simple, of course. Since–as the saying goes–beauty is in the eye of the beholder, who can be the ultimate arbiter of what is “art” or what “reality” is similarly pleasing or not?

And here’s another expression to add to this line of thinking: opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one. So you look at a piece of so-called art and think: I don’t like it. Or maybe you just don’t get it. Then again, if you dislike something and someone else does like it, how to determine who is right or wrong? Then you have to define some terms, as in what is “right” and what is “wrong”. Hey, what’s wrong with this picture? You’ve heard that one, no doubt. Sure. But what is the picture? Is its content blatantly repugnant? Offensive? Insensitive? Inconsiderate? Appalling? Depraved? What are the parameters of such judgments?

Hey, this blog entry is getting rather philosophical, methinks. I thinks. Therefor I ams. But what is being thought? There’s that expression: what were you thinking, which usually implies the “you” in question did something bone-headed. We can have a field day defining what constitutes being “boneheaded” right?

You bought THAT for how much? What the hell were you thinking? In this scenario, what difference does it make what the person bought and for how much? Different strokes, okay? But those assholes–uh–I mean opinions. One man’s/woman’s ceiling is another man’s/woman’s floor. Round and round we go, with Earth spinning on its axis, tilting away on its journey around the sun, indifferent to human thought. Good thing the sun doesn’t make judgments, or our Earth either. One or the other might decide it doesn’t like this or that and one thing dims and other spins slower or faster. Then reality is clearly a bummer. But while that might not happen, Mother Earth is–in my humble opinion–judging its human inhabitants. Those beautiful oceans, glaciers, greenery, lakes and streams, the air we breathe and the water we drink in order to simply stay alive are under stress. If Nature does think, methinks it is thinking, in its unfathomable power and beauty, what are you people thinking? What are you doing? If you don’t stop it, then…

However, not all of us see this unfolding climatological reality the same way as far as what thinking has led to what we are doing and what doing so needs be thought about a bit more clearly. Is this climate stuff alarming? It should be, but many choose to believe it is Nature being “normal”. Hey, opinions…lead to choices. We all make our choices. We make our judgments. Almost constantly. Much of it impulsively. Or compulsively. Some very deliberately and with no malice intended. We make plans, but then life/reality gets in the way, eh? Or Nature gets in the way. Going to that ballgame today? I doubt it, as it’s only 37 degrees and wet out there, in spite of what the calendar says and how it was 35 degrees warmer and brilliantly sunny just 48 hours ago. Nature, the only real superpower (take that you absurd, comic book frauds!).

Okay, back to Nietzsche. He also famously said: hell is other people. True dat! Oh, c’mon, you know what I mean. But that’s selective. Not all people are hellish, except that history would appear to proclaim that we human beings are a very belligerent, cruel and thoughtless lot. But history is a chronic occurrence. That paragraph up there that started this entry? That’s history. Is history artful? Maybe Nietzsche was alluding to the historical evidence that would possibly have him think of how art is an antidote to historical reality. The arts. Visual, performing art. Dance. Music. Literature. For me, especially those last two. But what I like others may dismiss as drek. Different strokes again…

Get real!

Art is a reality that can save one from reality? Go figure. And again, we all have our opinions. Based on, what? Intuition? Experience? Impulse? Does it matter? Yeah, it does. Take a look around. Who would want to choose this reality?: The Sultan of Brunei declares adultery and homosexuality shall be punished by stoning the accused to death. Stoning? it’s 2019! Not that any prior time legitimizes such cruel and unusual punishment…for simply being human. Nature? Yeah, as in human nature. Look around. What do we hear and see? Our sick world, far and wide. Not exactly a love fest. Or, close to home, our current government wanting to cut 1.2 billion dollars for both academic, plus before and after school programs. Or cutting $190 million for programs to boost literacy from birth to age 20, or another 27 million for grants aimed at school libraries. And 25 million or so for arts education programs that someone in D.C. thinks is a waste of money. I guess the art budget cut is intended to deny many students of the ability to escape dreaded harsh reality. Damn. Absolutely Draconian.

This is reality, folks. And so, a tip of the hat to that brooding philosopher about art helping us survive. Or at least endure. While we all wait for an outcome. And if painting, sculpture, dance, singing, playing music, taking in a puppet show or watching some TV series, or a movie, a documentary or reading some author just doesn’t connect with you, then maybe that long walk along the beach. Watching that sunrise or sunset. Smelling those roses. If for only that brief moment. Listening to and watching the birdies. The wet grass beneath your feet. The oddly comforting–at times–sound of the rain falling. Yeah, maybe it’s Nature that is your art that takes you away from what you need being taken away from.

Or petting the pooch or the kitty. Think about how many people freely admit to liking animals far, far more than people. Opinions. Makes sense to them.

Me, I’m getting a bit tired of waiting for reality to make more sense, at least as I judge right from wrong and treasure from trash, and all the rest. One person’s rapture is another person’s dread I suppose. Think of Van Gogh cutting off that ear. Great art from great suffering? Maybe.

Suffer no fools, though. And don’t argue with a fool. Others may not not be able to see the difference–to throw down one more expression that fits our current national dysfunction. Unfortunately, some fools display that characteristic as an ugly form of art. You might know what/who I’m alluding to. My eyes are wide open. A blessing and a curse. And so, to quote from one of the forlorn characters from what I consider a monumental work of art–The Iceman Cometh: Don’t be a fool! Buy me a drink! To What point did you think this discourse was leading? Something profound? I’ll leave that to O’Neill or Nietzshe.

Nostrovia!

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Allied with Reality

I indulged some classic 20th century Americana earlier today by stopping in a McDonald’s, impulsively, to satisfy a craving for a breakfast sandwich. So what?, you say. Well, I honestly can’t recall when I last had any desire whatsoever to visit a McD’s, as well as the numerous other fast, at times freaky fast, grab-and-go “restaurants”. McD. Ray Kroc. The American success story, having started microscopically with one humble outlet 65 or so years ago, and now a global presence with those iconic golden arches that are a ubiquitous part of urban and rural landscapes. Oh, and a symbol of that above noted “Americana”.

Norman Rockwell made a living out of painting portraits of that Americana. I never caught a pleasing vibe from Norm’s work, but hey, that’s just me. Having grown up in 1950s America, perhaps I couldn’t appreciate his vision, mine being distracted by the reality of inner city Chicago. The people who populate his portraits of wholesome living in the U. S. of A. never seemed to match anyone or anything I saw with my own eyes. Thanksgiving dinner in all its wholesome glory. Baseball games. His “four freedoms”: from want, of speech, from fear, of worship, part of upholding the American way of life during the threat of losing those freedoms to fascism during WWII. I suppose it served as a bolstering form of boosterism cum propaganda as that battle of Allied vs Axis powers played out. If Rockwell lifted the spirits back home during that virtual winner-take-all tussle that played out overseas, then hooray for his contribution to such a crucial cause.

The allied forces beat back Hitler and Hirohito, paving the way for that post-war 1950s era of peace and prosperity. Suburbia! The rise of the shopping centers. See the USA in your Chevrolet. A nation on roller skates. Oh, and TELEVISION. The Hula Hoop. Rock and roll. Outdoor movie theaters. McDonald’s! And so much more Americana.

Now it’s roller “blading”, mega-malls, death metal, deep suburbia morphing into high-rise hipstervilles, 80-inch 4D flat-screen TVS, digital everything, smarter and smarter, “smart phones”. Artificial Intelligence. Drones (I saw one at a department store the other day selling for $20; really, I can buy a drone for that little and possibly inadvertently bring down a jetliner if it gets sucked into an engine). Holy shit! Talk about having freedom! Oh, and along with the digital hazedaze comes social media. Like this WordPress blog.

And so, McD’s and my indulging an egg and cheese muffin, once a cultural phemon back when, is reduced to my passing four of them along a 12 mile drive before, as stated, impulsively pulling into one and satisfying my hunger. Our cultural landscape is now so not 1950s-ish. Then again, after the carnage of WWII, with Rockwell’s “four freedoms” seemingly saved for posterity, my memory, cluttered up with my formal and informal knowledge of the cause and effects of history, I’m pretty sure the 50s, 60s, and on and on, right up to today, March 24th, 2019, have always been more an illusion of prosperity, harmony, peace, love and understanding than daily waking life. Hell, Rockwell’s freedoms mojo and the Allies sacrifice did save the world for a more civilized form of existence for all humankind (well, in theory). Peace and love? Hitler blows his brains out in a bunker, and the Third Reich is kaput. Then, barely before the ink dried on Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allied forces came the Cold War and its never-ending (not in theory, but in stone cold reality) threat of global thermonuclear incineration. I guess Rockwell thought better of painting harsh realities like the mostly civilian death toll from our nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which though foreign targets, were then, in 1945, and as is still the case today, a product of the same American ingenuity–creating nuclear weaponry!–that brought us the above noted Hula Hoops and the advent of television with its mostly mind numbing content.

We’re approaching the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when those Allied forces stormed the beaches in northern France, to ultimately take back the continent from the Nazis. What kind of world would it be if the Axis forces won? Hmm. Let’s not go there…

but recall the saying: evil triumphs when good people do nothing.

…however, on this day in late March, 2019, the freedoms that were secured by American and Allied troops seem to have been bastardized by the passing decades. As I write this, our current occupant of the White House awaits what has been a formal, two-year investigation into his possible collusion with a foreign entity that may (I’m being polite here) have influenced the shocking 2016 election outcome. Whatever that official report reveals, and I suspect it will be kept mostly under wraps, I am left with the same feeling of what was the point of saving our freedoms back then if this is what we get for it? And by “this” I mean what appears to be the inherent tendency of humankind to exploit and destroy one another? Look around. Check the newsfeeds (but try for the non-mainstream media outlets as they tend to practice actual investigative journalism, not the false equivalency template of truth vs bullshit). It’s that wounded madhouse out there. Genocide. Racism. Xenophobia. Mysogyny. Homophobia. Wealth vs poverty. And maybe worse than any of those mindsets, is the apparent willful denial of looming climate catastrosphy both here and abroad.

The more things change, the more they remain insane. In the meantime, there’s pop culture, bread and circuses, instant global communication via social media networks that appear to traffic in delusion, illusion, confusion, jealously, depression, anxiety, loneliness, alienation, and the emojis that mimic the mood of the moment.

In the words of David Byrne and the Talking Heads, “we’re on a road to nowhere”. I hope things get better, but I just can’t shake the feeling that we’re on that road to nowhere, and to quote Jerry Garcia, “what a long, strange trip its been”. Hoping I’m wrong, okay? But my eyes are wide open. That road, for better or worse, will have a McDonald’s on it, in case you need a quick fix of that good ol’, old school symbol of simpler times in the Norman Rockwell world of Americana-at-large.

Now, beam me up, Scotty. Or, are we in The Matrix? After all, believing will always precede seeing. Apparently.

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What’s News?

Now! Live Tonight news, the number one news source on your channel eight gateway to the stories that matter most to you, our number one viewers from across all seven counties in the greater metro area at six o’clock!

Good evening, and happy hump day from myself–Brad Blowdry and…

…me Brenda Breathless here at the channel eight news desk.

Brenda, we start with a quick look at the weather. So over to Sonny Lightfoot.

Good evening, everyone. Right now it’s fairly mild out there but temperatures are expected to fall tonight, making for less mild conditions, with the possibility of some rain. We’ll have our team coverage of area roadways for our 10 o’clock broadcast so that anyone on the roads later can quickly hear about any flooding in the city and in those super boonies. You may all recall that super soaker that dumped  seven inches of rain in fifteen minutes last year, and resulted in five people drowning in spite of climbing into an abandoned treehouse.  I’ll have a complete weather report later in this broadcast. Back to you, Brad and Brenda.

Thanks, Sonny. Breaking news! A man has barricaded himself inside his Wazoo City home after reportedly losing his job in Boonesville earlier today. He has apparently brandished  a gun from his rear window, which faces into the wooded area near Calhoon Creek. Neighbors say he may have some cats or a hound dog or other pets in the house with him, and he is threatening to kill himself or anyone trying to stop him if he decides to do that. Police are at the scene, trying to negotiate with the man, who neighbors say they think his name is Ray Bob Tucker. Or Bobby Joe Tucker.  Our live tonight reporter, Charlene Shane is at the scene. Charlene…

Yes, Brenda and Brad, the police say the man who–as you have noted is possibly one Ray Joe Tucker of  Marshwater Road near the county line–has repeatedly flashed a gun through a window, threatening to shoot anyone who tries to enter his property. The man, according to what I’ve gathered by talking to the sheriff, Chester Monroe, lost his job as a chimney sweep with Clean Sweep by being replaced by what is called a “sweep bot”.  As you can see, police have cordoned off the area surrounding his house, and a SWAT team is on the way from Marfaville. We are told that Joe Tucker Ray  worked as a sweep for thirty-three years, according to his supervisor, Max Shaft. Police are trying to establish a phone connection to Ray Bob Billy’s house, but he may have cut the line. It’s believed that Joe Ray has never owned a cell phone. One neighbor has stated no one has ever seen the inside of his house, and that he’s usually not very talkative when encountered and his clothes always seem sooty and tattered. Oh, and that he may have once served prison time for operating an illegal moonshine operation in Beauford county when he was quite younger. Police say they have not had any trouble with Joe Billy Ray since he moved here two months ago from East Wazoo City. However, he had to be rescued after being trapped in a chimney in a South Wazoo cannery, and was quite drunk at that time. That’s the latest here from Marshwater Road. Back to you Brenda and Brad.

Brenda, what’s our next news flash? 

Well, Brad, The Wazoo city council today voted to outlaw the wearing of any sports apparel bearing team logos. Evidently there’s been a series of fights and strong armed robbery concerning these warm-up jackets and sneakers at Wazoo High. The council is concerned that these shoes and jackets could lead to more violent outcomes, as is the case in urban centers such as Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Miami, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, Tulsa, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Jersey City, Denver, San Antonio, St.Louis, Minneapolis, Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and New York City, where last year over two hundred teens have been murdered for these items, especially those never out-of-fashion Air Jordans and Jordan’s number 23 jersey, each of which cost nearly two hundred dollars. Jordan has evidently made an appeal to those who covet his shoes and jerseys to not wear them in public after purchasing them through his Air Up There virtual sportswear emporium. Also, in an official statement from  the National Association of Sporting Apparel and the NRA, jackets and shoes don’t kill people, people with guns kill people, or people with baseball bats and knives or bows and arrows kill people. Over to you Brad…

Brenda, the Wazoo City Zoo discovered its two giraffes have apparently been stolen. Zookeepers this morning were shocked to find the two animals where nowhere in sight when employees went to feed them. As our viewers may know, the giraffes are the most popular of the zoo’s animals, even more than the primates or Missy, the bob-tailed mountain lion captured in the Ozarks by some survivalists who had planned to kill and eat her before she killed and ate the three of them, all wanted for the Molotov cocktail attacks on government buildings which seriously injured dozens of people. Missy was awarded a medal for bringing those three to justice after she was placed at the Wazoo zoo a year ago. But the giraffes attract more attention seemingly because of those amazing long necks. The two animals, named Chester and Millie-Mae, according to zoo officials may have been taken by pranksters from  Wazoo Automotive Tech School. The zoo says the two animals always respond to their names, and are asking anyone who sees them to call their names. If they fail to respond, the zoo says it may be a matter of stumbling across the wrong giraffes. Over to you Brenda…

Brad, in another unfortunate incident, three people in Goodwrench Plaza were seriously injured today when a skateboarder lost control of his device during the noon hour lunch crunch. The skateboarder, whose name is being withheld owing to his being only seven years-old, said he was trying to perform a “triple three sixty” when he and the skateboard went their separate ways. The injured were taken to city hospital and all are expected to survive. Police say the skateboard had a pointed front edge, with Ren and Stimpy cartoon figures pasted onto it. Authorities are trying to determine who Ren and Stimpy are. 

Brenda, let’s go to Estelle Lipscomb, our roving reporter, who has a report from where, Estelle?

Brad and Brenda, I’m here at Lovers Leap, on the edge of town. The leap a gorge of over seven hundred feet, has long been a hangout for amorous couples and in some cases a jumping off point for the fatally smitten, though wingless, lovebirds. But no fatal leaps have occurred in over five years, and the gorge has taken on another type of leap into its abyss temptation by becoming part of the bungee jumping craze. You can see here behind me,  a young man has the bungee cord secured around his right ankle, and he’s about to take the plunge! The operators of the bungee experience, named Go Ahead, Jump! charge seventy-five dollars for the thrill ride straight down into the gorge. Let’s watch as this one takes off. There he goes! Why would anyone do this, Brad and Brenda? Our camera is following his descent, with the bungee cord at his leap-off point unraveling rapidly, and in a moment or two it will be completely stretched out. The jumper, according to the handler at Go Ahead, Jump! says the jumper should stop falling about twenty feet from the dry river bed at the bottom. He’s still falling, and the bungee cord is about totlly unraveled, Just a few more seconds. There! Wow. I can barely make out the person down there, as he bounces up and then down and up and down as the cord relaxes moment to moment. I can hear him shouting, maybe screaming from way down there. A winch will start hauling him back up. That will take about ten minutes. Medical personnel are always standing by just in case, both up here and down there. The things people will do for a thrill! Insane, hun? It looks as though someone, a young woman, may have fainted near the jump-off point. She’s being attended to. Maybe it’s her boyfriend down there. I can still hear him. He sounds excited. We better cut away, guys, I think I just heard some rather vulgar shouts coming from down there. That’s it from Lovers Leap. If anyone is interested in taking the plunge, well you know how this works. It’s a breathtaking experience, as far as I can tell, Brenda and Brad. Back to you two.

Brenda, let’s go back to Charlene Shane and that barricade situation…

Brenda and Brad, police have defused the situation here as that SWAT team arrived and stormed into the house. No shots were fired, and in fact it turns out that Mr.Ray Joe Billy Bob Tucker III, did not have a real gun. Rather he was brandishing a cigarette lighter shaped like a gun, about the size of a Derringer. The police commander on the scene has called for a ban on all fake guns, saying they serve no purpose other than to make a fast buck by the manufacturers in China, which seems to make everything and anything.  He said, China probably made the sweep bot that took Bob Ray Bill Joe’s job from him. There goes Billy Joe, cuffed and tucked into the squad car. I wonder if those cuffs are made in China. I’m not going to ask though guys, okay? Back to the studio…

Wow, quite a newsday and we still have more stories to come, including sports and an update on that possible gullywasher Sonny Lightfoot mentioned at the top of our newscast…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Day at the Races

Hot diggity damn, maw, paw, it be the bestest of days cuz we be gots the Daytoner five hunnerts to watches! It be mighty fines we gots be sittins at the bar heres at Dixie’s Suther Fry Eats and Drinks Caffay. We kins viddy the race and cheer on our bestest driver, Earl Ray McCoy in dat nifty red Chevy. Charlotte dun gots a new 32 incher on tops the ol beers cooler. It be ways better en dat old jap 27 incher. This ones being a Motorsrollers what done be made here in the bestest countree anywherze. Least ways dats what I done be heard bouts Motorrollin tvs. Soun les jappy anyways.

Joe Ray Tucker Bob, members we gots to shares one jumbos pile of wingy dingy hot nuggets en makes it lastin no matters if dis race be going fo hours and hours. Yo paw and mes gonna haves a buckets of suds or twos, and yous can be have a sips or tree but yous caint be gettins all suds up cuz you be being our desagratin driver, whens we goes back to Bufurds Crik cuz yo knows how paw and mes like our Sunday suds, espeshules on Daytons racin day.

Aw, maw, I kins handles my beer. It be aints no big dealin handlins paws picks up truck, evens iffins the clutches be offs a just a slites bit. Say, maw, wher be done paw go? Racin bouts commecin.

He dun went outs back with Bubba Carl to havins a smoke. Dam shames smokes be outdooze or nuttin deze day cuzzin them commie gettin they undies in notz bout seven hand smokes hutins dems dat donts be being watin to smokes. Thems da ones should be gots to get theys asses outsides if they not likins we smokins type. Tabakee be legal, rights? So, who them coomie do gooders to gets aways wits makin smokin folks stands in the elments to get theys smokes on?

Rits you be, maw. Maybes ourin guy say if peeeples likins us wants to smoke, we kin smokes wheres we pleezes. If he kin get dat wall, he kin do anythin he be pleazin I sez.

Ray Bob Joe Billy, ourins guy guns da makins ourins countrees the bestest agins. Wunner if he be bein at Daytoner. Nazcarts fans all likin ourin guy. I bets iffins ourins guy be a racin cart driver he be the best. I means, kinda the bestest. Maybes not like Kurts or Dales or Richie from back in dem older daze, but he kin do anythin he wants a be the goodest when duze what be he duze.

Sho nuff maw! Hey, theys be bouts ready to wavin the chekurd flag and get di race a goin. The pitcher on Charlottes new tv be purdy clears. 32 incher! Aint never seen so biggins a tvs, an one made herins in ourin countress, not some jap place. Oooh wee! Theres dey be a goin. Thinks maybes theys gunna bes lots uh crashin?

Joe Billy Tucker Bob, we aints comes hereins to see no crashins. Member how our guy Dale gots kilted here back when? Dam shame it was. Dales wasin the bests. Shame it was, en hisin car sho not lookins it hits dat wall hards enuff to kilt hims, but it did. Earl Ray nots gunna crashin. He our rasins hero now. He be from not far from heres in Wazoo. He be practical one of usins! Shame he caint have the confederals flag on hisin car. Thems dam commie stinkins they nozes in our biness agins! Maybe ourin guy can crek thats too. He gets him his wall, keep thems brown salvages outins our countres, and theys all be being drug cartwellers, rapsters and terrorizors.

Gee maw, paw be missins the races. Theys be tens lap on alreadees. What paw doin? Caint be smoks fur how long?

Ray Bob Bubba Billy Joe, nevers youins minds what yo paw be doins. He and Lester Monrow and Bubba Carl prolly drinkin shines in Lesters big F-150 en listin on radio.

Dam Maw, why paw drinks dats shine when Chalotte gots good hootchie right insides hereins?

Youins be dummer than ditch waters, boy. Paw caint afford to drinks Charlottes whisky fo fo hour. We luckies to have nuf to have the wing dings and some suds. He be being ecomonicatin out theres. He be gettins backs to hisin stool by lap hunnert. Race be two hunnert lap, rights? Just sits therres and sip yo suds, boy. I be goin for a smoke soons too.

                         

*   *   *

 

Thats wuz one thrilzins racins, maw. Caint beeleeves ourin Guy McCoy has hisins engeen blow up on lap 27. Bad lucks all she was.

I gots to gets me backs to ourin shack and lays flat, boy. So goods yous kin be drivers you paw and me back to Burfurd Crik. Yous be watchins fur dat dam Wazoo traffikin cop. Go slow and eaze, boy. Paw be pass out in back uh hizzin truck.

Maw,  you furgettins whoin yo boy be? Itz Bob Ray Billy Joe Tucker, an eyze be be racin at Daytoner sum day. En eyez be winnings too. All dem too hunnert towsen peoples in them stands, cheers me on too. Like back when with Dale. Shit. Them commies kilted Dale back thens maw, I noze it. Like u be sed, he dead and bearly he hits dats wall. I bets them commie rigs his ride cuz he was the biggis bestet good ‘ol boy they was then. Commies hate us suthin folk and Dale was suthin as genral Lee. Them commies gonna pay fur it too. They gonna die whens ourin guy get HIZZIZ WALL BILTED!

Settling downs, boy. My heads en innerds be akins from the suds and greaszy dinggies I dune put down. But you be be right bout that wall. Keeps dem filthin brownskins outs of ourin countree. Thems jus wanna come herze and drug usins and rapsin usin and terrorizins anyones who not brown likins thems.

Donts youz be a worried maw. Ourin guy be purtektin usins.

He gunna gets him dats wall. And them brownskin be pays fur it.

Best we be goins, boy. Who wons the race? Thnkins I nodded off fur a whiles. All them cars goins roun and roun. Make yo heads a spinnin.

Not sure maw. Waits. Theys be intravooin him soon he get s his lid offin he head. Lissin up. The tv guy be bout to askin him…what? Maw, lookin this guy. He don’t much be lookin likes a goold ‘ol boy. What his name, what the tv guy be sayin his name..

And so, Daniel Suarez, you have made history today here at the Daytona five hundred by being the first Mexican born driver to take the checkered flag! You had a close call, almost hitting that wall on lap 163 but you pulled out. Great recovery. This must be a thrill for you. Oh, here’s yours wife, Benita, right? And your two little ones, Eduardo and Yelitza. Hey, all of you say hello to your American audience.

Maw! I be feelinz sick. Maw. Maw? Wake up maw. Maw. Miss Charlotte, my maw she…

I think she passed out. Best you be getting her home. But be mindful of Chester, cuz he’s on patrol today and he loves getting people from Bueford Creek tickets. Especially if they’re  under the influence. You’ll be in lock-up faster than grass goes through a goose. Right, Billy Bob? Joe Ray? what’s wrong? Don’t you puke on my bar. You do, and you and your folks ain’t welcome back here no more. It’s hard enough running this business these days. Glad that race is over. Making left turns for three hours. What a crazy world.

 

 

 

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Crime and Punishment, Drug Cartel Edition

Hello, seekers of truth, justice and the American way! You can all let out a YUUUGE sigh of relief knowing that the bloodthirsty leader of the legendary Sinaloa drug cartel is going to prison for the rest of his life. This badass goes by the name of Joaquin Guzman or, you can call him El Chapo, his nickname which, translated from Spanish is “shorty”. He’s 5ft 6in. Ouch! Hey, Nepoleon, remember? He was what, four feet 9″? Okay, 5ft 6in-ish?  Did his troops call him La Courtaud? Never mind. Just remember, it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, right? It’s the size of the fight in the dog.

Moving on…

Another statistic on Shorty: He will be 65 next December 25. What?! Born on Christmas day! In Mexico. A heavily Catholic culture, I do believe. Can you say, how ironic? El Chapo was neither Christian in fervor nor Santa Claus-like in character. He did deliver the goods, though. More on that in a moment.

Mr.Guzman is said to have no education past 3rd grade, and may even be semi-literate. If so, he is the personification of exceeding his potential if potential and formal education have any correlation at all. Okay, he may have been responsible for  between 2 and 3 thousand deaths while plying his trade as a drug kingpin, and certainly one need not formal education to kill people, if that’s what, by circumstance or strategically, it takes to get ahead. It’s a matter of possessing the will to kill, while not possessing a rigorous moral compass to resist doing such. It also likely requires possessing a lot of bullets or machetes or explosives. And, in some twisted way, commanding by a force of personality for others to willingly join in on such mayhem. I assume that the 2-3K body count does not include the victims of fatal drug overdoses resulting from purchasing Shorty’s product. That’s another figure but I have no idea as to its quantification.

El Chapo did indeed deliver the goods, though.

Somehow, his formal education profile aside, he had enough “smarts” to: build intricate tunnel systems for evading the fuzz for decades while moving YUUUUGE amounts of drugs to, well, the market. His cartel produced, smuggled and distributed marijuana, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamines and other sorts of reality-escaping drugs.  With his conviction and likelihood of spending the rest of his life behind bars, the global public-at-large concerned about drug abuse can rest much easier. Right? (He has escaped prison before, mind you)

I mean, Sinaola Cartel? Sayonara! Try finding street drugs now.

Of course I’m joking. As I write this drugs are being smuggled here, there and everywhere per business as usual. The headlines about Shorty’s capture, trial and conviction are meant to–it must be presumed–project a getting-tough-on-drug cartels mojo.  Okay. Big fish in a YUUUGE pond has been reeled in. Well done DEA and other agencies here and in Mexico. But what difference does this make, really? In realistic terms it doesn’t mean diddly squat as far as stopping the flow of illicit (though weed is now legal in many markets) drugs into the big city back alleys or the lily-white Main Streets of deep suburbia here and there. And those agencies damn well know it. Sinaloa isn’t a one-man operation, after all.

Of course it won’t stop the flow of illegal drugs and it won’t because there’s the usual demand for cartel product. And that demand has been around for…for…well…long before Shorty was born on that Christmas day in 1954. Supply and demand. Sure, most of the cartel’s line of product can lead to fatal overdoses at worst or debilitating addiction and downward spiraling at best if the habit can’t be kicked, but people of all stripes, of all education levels, of various social-economic status and cultural influences are part of the consumer end of this carnage-causing “identify a need, then fill it” illicit business modus operandi model. And a need there is!

At that consumer end, there’s apparently something about life that just makes a lot of people want to get WASTED, eh? What’s wrong, people? Why the need to shoot-up, snort or smoke dangerous drugs coming up from Mexico (among other parts of the world). Does Shorty going to jail concern you and your need to escape reality? If that’s the case, you are simply paranoid, okay? The cartel drugs aren’t about to disappear, even if El Chapo does. Again, the long arm of the law got their man. Do the crime, then do the time…

…maybe…

…But what about others who act criminally and destroy people’s lives? Consider the CEO’s of Big Pharma. If you’re wasting away from opioid addiction, you likely didn’t need Shorty to deliver those pills, right?  Big Pharma= big profits. Answer this: Any of those pharma CEO’s on trial? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone? What about those responsible in banking and finance that ruined people’s lives leading up the Great Recession starting in 2008? Any high-profile banksters in the slammer? Have any even been charged? What about the former “CEO’s” of the United States who saw to fit to waste hundreds of thousands of lives, both military and civilian in every war from Korean to Vietnam to Gulf I and II, Afghanistan and counting?  I’m talking about virtually every President of the last 50 years. Big Lies from Big Brother writ over and over. But those at the top who authorized invasions, who sold the sub-prime loans, who colluded to outrageously pump up prices in another market of drugs–drugs that clearly can save lives, not destroy them–when will we get some YUUUUGE headlines about their arrests, trials and convictions?

Do NOT hold your breath waiting on that kind of law and order.

This legal double-standard of who is the badass and who is beyond reproach is a decades-long narrative during my lifetime, for certain. Shorty deserves jail, no doubt. Lack of education and a moral compass? Well, those honchos and CEO’s alluded to above all have one of those two traits in common, and I think you can guess which one that is. Hell, some of them are Ivy League grads. Well educated criminal minds! It seems holding any and all criminal activity to account is a matter of the authorities lacking a consistently righteous prosecutorial moral compass.

It’s a Confederacy of Dunces, alright. People want drugs. Why? Are they stupid? Well, some maybe are easily led astray. Others are simply led by the view beyond the tip of their nose. Reality bites! Why do people use drugs, legally or illicitly? In some respects, I’d ask, why not? Some lost family or friends to those trumped-up wars, or that 2008 near-global market collapse. Some lost their ability to rationalize after being prescribed dangerous drugs at prohibitive prices. Rip-offs abound.  The fish stinks from the head-down, right? Look around, if you dare. It’s a wounded madhouse out there. Genocides, authoritarianism, oppression, persecution, scapegoating, MAGA, led by a bull goose loony who is SO YUUUGELY blatantly, recklessly breaking laws and violating our Constitution since stupyfyingly given the keys to the White House. Near and far, there’s a lot from which one might want to escape, reality-wise. The War on Drugs? We lost that a long time ago, and it’s not the fault of El Chapo, either. Drugs are needed. Try and stop people from using them and what happens? How did that 18th Amendment to the Constitution work out? It led to the 21st Amendment saying NEVER MIND…

Just say no!

No way! Timothy Leary said it so well 53 years ago: , turn on, tune in, drop out. I doubt Shorty was well versed in Timothy’s philosophy  (semi-literate, so they say he is) but he was channeling that famous quote about dropping acid whether he knew it or not. LSD isn’t quite the fashionable drug it once was back then. No matter. Cartels rake in tens of millions of dollars filling the people’s need for one fix or another, with a portfolio of kick-ass product available should legally buying a fifth of booze or a carton of cigs not deliver enough anti-reality narcotic punch. 

Off goes Guzman. The Big House. Stir. There’s no escaping the long arm of the law.  Nor harsh reality. I think. Maybe. Do the crime…do…the..

…maybe…

…Never mind. And remember: As Shorty no doubt would agree with: if you do do drugs, make sure you are doing it and that it is not doing you. Then again…wait…

…never mind.

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Let’s Have a (3rd) Party!

On a recent broadcast of the legendary CBS television news “magazine” 60 Minutes, Howard Schultz, former CEO of the ubiquitous coffee shop chain, Starbucks, admitted to giving serious consideration to running for President in the looming 2020 election. The reaction, particularly from the Democratic party, is one of stark, bone-chilling terror. Why? Because the DNC assumes that Howard’s name on the ballot, as a 3rd party independent (as Schultz framed his possible candidacy), would siphon off votes that would otherwise go to their candidate, whomever he or she may be, and thus allow Trump to get re-elected.

In addition to the official Democrat response, beaucoup Americans, who consider our current President to be a dysfunctional, politically incompetent, buffoon, also likely fear Schultz could tip the election in favor of D.T. Of course many think that way. And why shouldn’t they?, since the current, entrenched 2-party system, and the mainstream media have been insisting 3rd party candidates will never win a national election. This mantra/meme is given bullhorn pronouncements each and every time anyone floats the idea of a 3rd party run for the highest office in the land. However, this mantra is inherently a bullhorn spewing bullshit, a self-serving/preserving version of the Big Lie that drives propaganda 101. It’s a form of brainwashing, in a way, since a 3rd party candidate obviously CAN WIN if that 3rd party candidate gets enough voters to choose him or her over the standard Democrat or Republican. To keep insisting that it is a fool’s errand to seek high office running as a non Dem or Repub defies simple mathematics.

In the 1992 national election, one Ross Perot ran as a 3rd party candidate and garnered 19 million votes, a bit less than half of Bill Clinton’s winning total of 44 million. The political and media “spin” from that outcome was that Perot’s candidacy siphoned votes mostly from George H.W.Bush, allowing Clinton to come out as the winner. While one might conclude that is exactly what did happen is to misinterpret the election’s real message: 3rd party candidate’s are indeed capable of attracting significant followings and by logical extension, can indeed someday attract more voters than either traditional national political party. The fact that Perot was a player at all in that election should be considered a victory of sorts. Rather than being a “I told you so” conclusion by the powers-that-be and their corporate media cheerleaders, Perot gave credence to the notion that a 3rd party candidate can run–and WIN.

How so? Consider: In spite of Perot’s being dismissed early on as having only one influence on that election–that of “spoiler”–as well as the usual implicit and explicit media drumbeat of voting 3rd party is a wasted vote, not to mention his rather non-telegenic look and sound, as well as his distinct, folksy Texas twang, he did have a chance of winning that election during the polling cycles that lead up to election day. Perot, a billionaire, was only able to take part in the debates owing to his being able to buy enough media ads to get his name and ideas out to the public, and qualify by getting a minimum of 15% in those polls. The fact that a 3rd party candidate, automatically condemned to a virtual media black-out from the onset, and the framing of any such candidacy as a wasted vote, has to get that 15% polling number to be allowed to speak to we the people in those debate speaks volumes about how rigged our current 2-party system is. Perot bought the media coverage he needed to get his proposals into the public’s mind, at the same time that the major news outlets repeated that “wasted vote” Big Lie, which certainly didn’t help with changing the minds of those for whom–aside from the 19,000,000 who did vote for him–might have grown tired of the usual Frick or Frack donkey or elephant choice always being shoved down our electoral throats.

So, back to Schultz. He has a net worth of close to $4 billion. Certainly, he can buy the airtime to deliver what certainly sounded to be a refreshingly progressive agenda (comparatively speaking, in contrast to the hard-core political ideologies of both Democrat and Republican gatekeepers). And, after what Bernie Sanders did in 2016, running as a Social Democrat (!), with virtually no money to spend at the onset of his candidacy, as well as the mainstream Democratic party’s blatant anti-Bernie strategies, and corporate media’s near refusal to cover his candidacy in any meaningful manner, it sure lends further viability to what an “outsider” with a popular platform, and a sincerely humanistic persona can do. It’s my contention that if Sanders had run as a true 3rd party candidate, untethered from the we know how to lose Democratic National Committee, he might have won even more primaries and supplanted the cardboard cut-out candidacy of Hillary Clinton.,

Schultz’s wealth (not required, but as noted the system is seemingly rigged for those with deep pockets when running for office), his very real success as CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world (as opposed to the Grifter-in-Chief we have now), his fairly progressive proposals, and with a bona-fide progressive running mate, could replicate both Perot and Sander’s insurgent influence on a stale and failed 2-party system that has brought us to where we are at this very moment: a plutocracy with ugly, racist, elitist warts all over it. Can he do any worse than what we’ve had that passed for leadership and serving the “common good” over the past 50 years or more?

I feel–in my apparently ultra simple-minded understanding of our body politic–that maybe in 2020 an actual cardboard cut-out candidate (hey, think Peter Griffin, Homer Simpson even…) should be more appealing a candidate than Benedict Donald. But that media, and the two failed national parties, have got to be put in their place for once. Certainly, in my world, the Republican Party has now become a clear and present danger to not just life in the U.S. of A., but planet Earth itself. However, it’s not as though the party “on the other side of the aisle” hasn’t been complicit in this downward spiraling of life for the working class. Reagan “democrats”, Bill Clinton? Barack Obama? Real reformers, right...

Admittedly, there is a new faction of the Democratic party, voted into congress in the 2018 mid-terms. Women. Women of color. Muslim. LGBT. But I keep hearing their party elders tell them to “slow down, be realistic. Wait your turn”. They should all just announce they’re leaving their party to form a new one. Bernie, Liz, Sherrod, now you have a significant number of brothers and sisters who know it’s time for real change. I don’t think they can change the Democratic party from within anytime soon, as in 2020 soon.

Even I will admit this is a pipe dream about Howard Shultz. But it’s not as though history is bereft of precedent for a 3rd party surprise other than Mr.Perot. His name was Theodore Roosevelt. He was almost elected President in 1912. The name of his 3rd party…?

…Progressive.

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