Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Edging Toward the Moment of a Ministry of Truth

The protagonist in George Orwell's novel, "1984" was named Winston Smith. He was a member of what was known as the, "Outer Party." His job, which he was quite good at, was to continuously revise history and old media reports so they would agree with whatever policies the rulers of the fictional nation Oceania were pushing at any given moment. He toiled away at what was called, The Ministry of Truth.

Winston and his co workers were kept busy as beavers because of those belonging to the, "Inner Party," the people who were actually in charge and their leader, Big Brother. They had the irritating tendency to completely change history whenever there was a shift in political direction and military alliances which benefited their grip on power.

In Winston Smith's world, the idea of a press operating independently of Big Brother and the Inner Party was so unimaginable such a notion would have ranked right up there with using binoculars to watch Martians snow board down the slopes of Olympus Mons.

Donald Trump hasn't established a Ministry of Truth yet, but we are edging toward that moment.

The latest example happened today when the newly minted Secretary of Education issued a statement regarding historically black colleges and universities--or in our protean version of newspeak--HBCUs.

Donald Trump's woman in charge of public education Betsy DeVos--who never attended a public school in her life--started out okay. She hailed HBCUs for providing places that African-American students could learn, "...at a time when there were too many students in America who did not have access to education."

Then, as we should have expected, she went straight down The Ministry of Truth rabbit hole. The secretary continued, "HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students they are afforded greater access and greater quality."

For those of you not familiar with Ms. DeVos, she is a big fan of school choice. And, as we now know, she isn't too keen on history, at least when it doesn't validate her beliefs, or goals.

The Huffington Post reports University of Pennsylvania professor, Marybeth Gasman, who does know something about history and HBCUs, responded to the statement this way: "In truth many HBCUs were formed as a matter of necessity when white supremacist structures systematically denied black students access to mainstream educational institutions."

She went on to say, "I found the statement to be completely ahistorical. It completely ignores slavery, it completely ignores Jim Crow, segregation, oppression, mass discrimination across the country; it ignores our entire history. It is a whitewashing of HBCU history--African Americans did not have a choice when black colleges were established--that was the only thing they could do."

Missouri senator, Claire McCaskill tweeted, "Totally nuts. DeVos pretending that establishment of historically black colleges was about choice, not racism."

Kristen Clarke, the head of  the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law also took to Twitter, posting, "Secy Betsy DeVos appears ignorant of racial segregation in U.S. HBCUs are byproduct of racism during Jim Crow era."

Journalist Soledad O'Brien was a tad more terse. She wrote, "Betsy DeVos seems to be a complete moron."

Lord if it were only so.

For far too long progressives have been writing off Don Trump, Sean Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, and now Betsy DeVos as simple buffoons. Their lunatic statements and observations piss us off, make us laugh, or cause us to shake our heads in complete bewilderment. Our arrogance has been and will continue to be our undoing.

Trump and the rest know there are vast numbers out there who believe everything they say. It is all gospel to those big bellied middle aged white folks who are still convinced Barack Obama is from anywhere, but here, not to mention firmly believe it isn't racist to call the former first lady, "an ape in heels."

The terrible reality is, Trump and his people are pulling a Ministry of Truth move in slow motion. It began when the candidate announced Mexico was sending us rapists and other criminal elements. It continued when he insisted he personally saw thousands of Muslims in New Jersey streets celebrating the 9-11 attacks. Indeed, the alternative facts, Conway spoke about are creeping toward becoming our new history.

We need to understand the main stream media is under a constant and savage barrage because the orange guy and his people need it to be utterly discredited for alternative facts and Betsy DeVos' new history to work. Once FOX and Breitbart are the only reliable sources of the truth the Trumpists are free to run amok and everything we've ever known can be rewritten to their satisfaction.

It is time to realize these monsters are not, despite our sneering humor, idiots and what we are now witnessing is the genesis of Big Brother and the Inner Party.

Just ask Winston Smith. He knew it was all horrific bullshit because it was his job to abet in their criminal lies. Of course, in the novel, as soon as he became disillusioned and tried to rebel they dragged him in and eventually executed him. But only after they had tortured him so long he finally admitted, 2+2=5.

Hey, given who is running the place and what is going on, it's a good bet we're edging toward that moment too.



Monday, February 20, 2017

The Enemy of the American People

The march toward fascism continued this weekend. On Friday, Donald John Trump tweeted to all his followers, "The FAKE NEWS media (@failing NYTimes, @NBC News, @ABC, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people." There is no doubt the list would have been longer if it hadn't been for the limited number of characters allowed on a single tweet and the man's disturbingly minuscule attention span.

The next day he kept up his relentless assault on the first amendment and truth itself at a campaign rally in Florida. When it came to immigrants and refugees he told the chanting volk, "You look at what's happening in Germany. You look at what's happening last night in Sweden. Sweden! Who would believe this, Sweden. They took in large numbers. They're having problems like they never thought possible."

The assumption Trump wanted his followers to make was that some sort of God awful terror attack had occurred Friday in Sweden. The purported catastrophe was news to the Swedes. The Huffington Post reported one Swedish newspaper responded to the quote by saying, "The U.S. president lives in his own head, playing out his own psycho drama. Former Swedish prime minister, Carl Bildt was more succinct. After catching wind of the statement he tweeted, "Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound."

We can only wish he had been smoking something, but no, it was a vintage Trump lie--one that was meant to reinforce all the terrible nonsense his followers believe.

When faced with the reality nothing had actually happened in Sweden on Friday, Der Donald clarified what he said. Sunday he tweeted, "My statement to what's happening in Sweden was in reference to a story on FOX News concerning immigrants in Sweden."

Okay, so he was simply repeating--although a tad awkwardly--something he heard on FOX. Apparently Trump was talking about a segment on Tucker Carlson's show during which a right wing propagandist, Ami Horowitz, linked immigrants to an alleged uptick in Swedish crime. To make sure everyone understands the gravity of the situation, Horowitz put together a, "documentary," illustrating the mayhem. While previewing some of the footage on Friday, the filmmaker told Carlson, "Sweden had its first terrorist Islamic attack not that long ago, so now they're getting a taste of what we've been seeing across Europe already."

Well, the term, "not that long ago," depends on your point of view. The last, terrorist attack in Sweden was a suicide bombing carried out in 2010 by an Iraqi born Swedish citizen. That was five years before the tsunami of immigrants began hitting the shores of Europe due to the civil wars in Libya and Syria.

A second Swedish newspaper called Horowitz's report, "...full of errors and exaggerations."

Not to be deterred by any of this vast Nordic cover up, Horowitz claimed, "Sweden's response suggests they are incapable, or unwilling to see the reality of what is happening in their own country."

It was an assertion Trump supporters immediately jumped on. One tweeted, "Liberals desperately trying to cover up the dark reality Trump referred to in Sweden." Another wrote, "Trump has very cleverly got the world talking about the problems in Sweden. The big cover up not now going to work." All this shit also happened, for a moment anyway, to get the focus off the Russian meddling in the election stories--another patently Trump move.

Knowing a button had been pushed, Trump hit the Twitterverse again this morning. He tweeted, "Give the public a break. The FAKE NEWS media is trying to say that large scale immigration in Sweden is working out beautifully. NOT!"

Sweden has the highest per capita incidence of rape in Europe, not an enviable stat. However the latest figures, you know, the ones provided by the people who actually live there, show crime has either declined slightly in the last five years, or remained roughly the same.

In addition two Swedish cops interviewed in Horowitz's flick have expressed what could at best be called confusion over the way their interviews were presented. One of the officers told a Swedish publication, "I don't understand why we were part of the segment (shown on FOX). The Washington Post reports Officer Anders Goranzon went on to say, "The interview was about something completely different to what FOX News and Horowitz were talking about. It was supposed to be about crime in high risk areas. Areas with high crime rates. There wasn't any focus on migration, or immigration."

Yes it would seem someone around here is lying and given their track record my money is on the big orange guy and his media storm troopers. Let's face, two years ago the same clowns at FOX put a, "terrorism expert," named Steven Emerson on the air. He claimed the entire city of Birmingham, England was Muslim and so militant even the British police wouldn't dare go there. The demographic at the time showed Birmingham to be 80% non Muslim. The numbers remain the same today. Emerson was forced to profusely apologize and hasn't been seen since.

Now, tell me again who is the enemy of the American people. Is it the main stream media who might file unfavorable reports about the current occupant of the White House? Or, is it a beast in the oval office who relentlessly uses half truths, outright lies, and crude insults to solidify his popularity and justify his power?

Take a look at the history books. When you do you'll find the answer is obvious--unless, of course, you think history is fake too.

sic vita est


Friday, February 17, 2017

Der Donald Uses the Media to Play to His Base

Yesterday Donald Trump held a press conference which, in all truth, was nothing more than a campaign rally aimed directly at his political base. Members of the media were in attendance, but it quickly became obvious he considered them nothing more than low budget sparring partners--hapless chumps shoved into the ring so he could demonstrate to the anglo masses his dazzling foot work and devastating punching power.

The appearance was pure Trump. The unabashed hubris, snide insults, utter disregard for facts, rambling contradictions, subtle racism, and lack of knowledge were all on display. So was the machine gun fire pacing. That's right, keep talking and move on to the next great lie, or controversy as fast as you can. Never give the bastards time to concentrate on any one thing you've said. Indeed, leave them so busy trying to record all the bullshit you're spewing they'll never manage to nail you on any of it..

Even some of the FOX News people are coming to the realization Don Trump is an amoral beast. Concerning the Russian connection, Shepard Smith put it this way, "It's crazy what we're watching every day. It's absolutely crazy. He keeps repeating throw away lines that are not true at all and sort of avoiding the issue of Russia as if we're some kind of fools for asking the question. Really? Your opposition was hacked and the Russians were responsible for it and your people were on the phone with Russia on the same day it was happening and we're fools for asking the questions? No Sir. We have a right to know."

Smith's outburst of brute honesty threw Trump supporters into a fearsome rage. The FOX host was accused of being, "hate filled," by numerous members of the volk. One urged the network to fire Smith because, "We need someone who will report the news without bias."

Yes, if any report, or observation isn't pro Trump it is hate filled, biased, and, as the man himself says, "fake news." The big orange guy can do no wrong. Anyone who says he can is immediately part of the great liberal cabal which not only loathes their champion, but America itself.

Tomorrow, just under four weeks after his inauguration, Brother Don travels to Florida to kick off his 2020 campaign for re-election. The crowd welcoming him will no doubt be large, wildly enthusiastic, and completely convinced the mainstream media, which their man manipulates so well, is the arch enemy of all that is white and good about America.

As for those hated organizations such as CNN and MSNBC, not to mention the three big non-cable networks? They don't seem to understand, Donald John Trump has been playing them like a violin from day one. He used them relentlessly to win the election and is now using them in the same way to consolidate his power.

Many late night TV hosts portray Trump as comical, or bat shit crazy and, honestly, it isn't hard to think of him that way. However, Donald John Trump has proven he knows not only how to use the establishment to get what he wants, but he can, at the same time, convince huge numbers of people both he and they are relentlessly persecuted by the very same establishment. He taps into the WASP paranoia and their sense of racial and political disenfranchisement better than any one since Herr Hitler.

Pulling off such a trick is no small feat for a political newbie. Tragically, as we've seen before, such an accomplishment also happens to be the first step toward a fascist state.

He knows it too. Hell, we all do. Too bad the main stream media still hasn't figured it out as they slavishly grant Trump every moment of air time he desires. In the end, none of them understand they are his dupes--just another malleable tool to make sure der Donald becomes der Fuhrer.

Think not? Just look at what senior Trump advisor, Stephen Miller said on national TV last Sunday.  

Ladies and gentlemen, given these dire circumstances, the bar is most definitely open.


Monday, February 13, 2017

The Powers of the President Will Not Be Questioned: It's Official, the Fascists Have Arrived and They Are In Charge

The first few weeks of Don Trump's stay at the White House have been rather like a blurred ride on a mutant concoction of LSD and Nazi crank. Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon, Mike Flynn, and the female incarnation of Skeletor, Kellyanne Conway have been sucking up to the Russians, while babbling nonsense and crazed lies at a dizzying pace.

Now comes another one. His name is, Stephen Miller, and he's one of Trump's senior policy advisers.

Until he showed up on the Sunday talk show circuit a little over 24 hours ago Miller had pretty much been able to stay under the radar, despite having quite a history. According to Wikipedia he became a conservative devotee in high school after reading a book authored by that grotesque NRA wanker, Wayne LaPierre.

While at Duke University, among other things, he wrote a number of conservative columns for the student newspaper and publicly accused poet Maya Angelou of, "racial paranoia." He went on to work as press secretary for the notoriously brain dead, Michelle Bachmann and also Arizona republican congressman, John Shadegg. He then took a job as director of communications for Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions. In addition he worked on the 2014 campaign of tea party candidate Dave Brat, the guy who unseated heretical republican congressman Eric Cantor.

A former Duke Senior VP described Miller this way to the "News and Observer. " He (Miller) "...seemed to assume that if you were in disagreement with him there was something malevolent, or stupid about your thinking--incredibly intolerant."

Yeah, he'll fit right in with this bunch. To erase any lingering doubts, yesterday he proved it.

While appearing on ABC's, "This Week," he displayed a song and dance routine about the administration's voter fraud claims that would have made Gene Kelly envious. When asked by George Stephanopoulus about the Trump assertion thousands of voters were bused into New Hampshire from Massachusetts last November, he said this: "I, having worked before on a campaign in New Hampshire, can tell you that this issue of busing voters into New Hampshire is widely known by anyone who's worked in New Hampshire politics. It's very real. It's very serious."

Then came the old soft shoe slide. He added, "This morning, on this show, is not the venue for me to lay out all the evidence."

After several more minutes and fancy steps around the stage, Stephanopoulus finally told Miller, "...for the record you have provided zero evidence that the president was the victim of massive voter fraud in New Hampshire. You provided zero evidence of the president's claim that he would have won the general--the popular vote--if three to five million illegal immigrants hadn't voted. Zero evidence for either of those claims."

On the surface it looked to be the same indefensible bullshit, just a different voice. However, when it came to the big picture we saw something edgier, more dangerous, about Steve Miller. He is actually willing to say what we've only suspected Conway and the others of thinking.

The same morning, when he showed up on , "Face the Nation," the discussion turned to Trump's attempted ban on immigrants and refugees from the dreaded seven nations named in the executive order. Here is what he said about a federal court blocking its implementation: "We have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become in many ways a supreme branch of government." Then, he added darkly, "Our opponents, the media, and the whole world will soon see, as we begin further actions, the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned."

Cornell law school professor Jens David Ohlin was quick to say Miller had shown, "An absurd lack of appreciation for the separation of powers set forth in the constitution."

That's putting it mildly. Someone not as polite as Professor Ohlin could, with considerable justification, point out those exact same words might very well have been uttered by Joseph Goebbels a number of decades ago.

Indeed, here is a crazy fuck who has Donald Trump's ear and clearly believes the president cannot be questioned by anyone, be it congress, or the courts, when it comes to whatever the administration decides is a national security issue. And we all know that could include a lot.

A week ago, or so ago we had a United States military convoy driving down a highway flying not an American flag, but one with Trump's name on it. Then we had El Don addressing troops, thanking them for their votes, while demeaning the media and his political opponents. Now we have Stephen Miller on national TV telling us the powers of the president will not be questioned.

Yes, it's time to break out the Hugo Boss uniforms and armbands America. It is now official. The fascists have arrived and they're in charge.

sic vita est


Saturday, February 11, 2017

The Return of Darth Durant

In the 2007 NBA draft the Seattle Supersonics had the second overall pick. The two primo choices were Ohio State center, Greg Oden and a long skinny kid who had played one year at Texas named Kevin Durant.

Rumors were Durant fared poorly in front of the scouts when it came to strength. He had ankles which were barely the circumference of your average toothpick--in short he looked breakable. Oden on the other hand was massive, ripped with muscles, as wide as a nuclear submarine, and possessed a mug which looked to be straight out of a Stan Lee super villains line up.

Portland had the first pick that year and not a person in the world blamed them when they chose Oden. The Supersonics went with Durant, then in 2008 got the hell out of Seattle and settled in Oklahoma City. The same year, Greg Oden suffered the first of a never ending series of injuries and is now considered one of the greatest busts in pro basketball history.

The relocated Sonics were christened the Thunder and they shed the green and gold colors for sky blue, orange, and black. Durant along with Russell, the flash, Westbrook, and James, the beard, Harden became the heart and soul of a young and upcoming NBA power.

They could run like the wind and when they were hot from the field there wasn't a defense in the league who could shut them down. Oklahoma City, which was and in many ways remains, a college sports town, went ape for all three and the team as a whole. Civic pride and morale soared.

The enthusiasm displayed in the Chesapeake Arena by Thunder fans stunned and even perplexed those jaded souls who had covered the NBA for years. When a final shot went awry and the team lost game six and a 2010 playoff series to the Lakers, the entire crowd of 18,203 rose and gave them a standing ovation. It isn't something you witness in other pro sports venues.

Unfortunately NBA business reality intruded on all the giddiness. In late October, 2012 the OKC fan base was told the team had traded Harden to Houston for no other reason than to save the luxury tax they would have incurred if they had kept him.

Then, as 2016 rolled around, Durant's contract was expiring. During the months leading up to the date road side billboards were erected all over town imploring him to stay with the team. Despite this outward angst most of the populace doubted he'd bolt for somewhere else. However, to the city's horror, on a sweltering 4th of July, he did indeed bolt to the already loaded, Golden State Warriors.

For the collective psyche of Oklahoma City it was that terrible moment when young Anakin Skywalker morphed into Darth Vader. The masses began to rend garments and gnash their teeth. Shouts of treason rang through the streets. Old men pounded their fists on bar tops as they drank heavily and children wept.

The loss of Harden was one thing, after all the team, not the player, ultimately made the choice. Kevin Durant, on the other hand, betrayed the community he had seemed to be so deeply a part of for a quick and easy championship ring. It appeared, at least to the locals, the move was not only coldly mercenary, but exposed his reputed dedication to the town as a cruel sham. Durant understood completely what the city's reaction would be. Within days after his announcement his Bricktown neighborhood restaurant shut its doors for good.

Tonight, for the first time, he returns with his new team. The odds are overwhelming that the reception he'll get will be exceedingly ugly. He realizes this too. Reports are he has requested extra security for himself and any of his entourage who might accompany him.

There are only two NBA markets smaller than OKC's. None are newer. There isn't another team in the state which competes in what is considered the four major pro sports. In other words, Durant's exit was an extreme personal affront to just about everyone who lives between Wichita and the Red River.

The teams have met out on the west coast twice this year. The Warriors won both and neither game was particularly close. It might be easy to write this one off also, but as wounded as they are there is still some sting left in the Thunder. Thursday night they took out Lebron James and the Cavs.

Yes, sometimes the home court does mean something. Tonight we'll find out for sure, because the one thing we can be certain of is there won't be a silent voice in the house. At least not while Kevin Wayne Durant is on the floor.

sic vita est


Monday, February 6, 2017

Oklahoma's Legislature: The Imperious and the Deviant

Here in Oklahoma the 2017 session of the state legislature begins today. Well, sort of. During a week of foreplay leading up to the grand moment there has been some cynical and arrogant preliminary maneuvering and a couple of sordid sex scandals, which, as always, fulfills the local media's sense of self worth.

Last week, "The Oklahoman," reported State Senator, Ralph Shortey, R-OKC has a plan. That plan involves two state questions which appeared on last November's ballot. The proposals were aimed at lowering Oklahoma's staggering rate of incarceration by reducing a number of drug related offenses from felonies, to misdemeanors. At the same time the statutes would provide funding for county rehabilitation programs to aid and educate low level users as opposed to simply chucking them into the slammer. In a fit of unexpected progressiveness--or, more likely--because practically everyone in this state either knows, or is related to a run amok meth head, voters approved both measures.

The Oklahoman's, Dale Denwalt, reported Senator Shortey is busy at work on legislation which will completely undo both state questions, thereby voiding the decisions voters made three months ago. According to Denwalt, Shortey justified his legislative coup d' etat this way: "Because people didn't understand what they were voting for..."

Now there is a double edged sword an Oklahoma republican should probably stay away from. Let's face it, if Oklahomans didn't understand the consequences of what they voted for when it came to criminal justice, as Shortey so imperiously suggests, shouldn't we assume the majority was equally ill-informed when it came to choosing the commander in chief?

Indeed, given the circumstances someone needs to immediately author a bill nullifying the presidential election results. Obviously we should have never allowed the masses near a ballot with Donald John Trump's name on it. To paraphrase a line, as Ralph Shortey might, "Forgive them, for they knew not what they did."

Unfortunately, finding a democrat to support such legislation will be nigh to impossible. Not only are Oklahoma democratic legislators as rare as the Northern White Rhino, one of their ever dwindling number is on the ropes.

The other day a special house committee recommended State Representative, Will Fourkiller, D-Stilwell be kept as far away from capitol pages as possible. The committee is saying that two years ago a female high school age page reported Fourkiller made some questionable remarks to her which caused her to feel uncomfortable. Why they waited until now to investigate is unknown.

The Oklahoman reported Fourkiller refused to testify in front of the committee because of their closed door policy. The full house is set to decide on what to do with him later this week.

Such action won't be necessary when it comes to former State Representative, Dan Kirby, R-Tulsa. He resigned for a second time Saturday after the same committee recommended he be cashiered from the house for some seriously iffy behavior over the years.

In December it was reported the Oklahoma house used public funds to settle a wrongful termination suit brought by former legislative aid, Holly Anne Bishop. Bishop and her lawyer received $44,500 to go away after they signed a non-disclosure agreement.

Ms. Bishop had claimed the house canned her in 2015 because she accused Representative Kirby of sexual harassment. The immediate popular outrage wasn't about Kirby's alleged behavior, or even the house firing a woman because she blew the whistle on a member. Those crimes were minor in the eyes of the volk when compared to using taxpayer money to pay for the court settlement.

The legislator quit late in December because of the scandal. Then, quite possibly after it dawned on him the pay out had to do with the brutish way the house reacted to Bishop's complaint, rather than what she accused him of, he withdrew his resignation.

Kirby's sigh of relief didn't last long. Shortly afterward another legislative aid, Carol Johnson told the committee her boss, the same Dan Kirby had sexually harassed her over a three year period. She claimed he had asked for and accepted topless photos of her in exchange for things like days off and on occasion taken her to strip clubs.

Kirby has continued to deny the accusations made by Bishop. When it comes to Ms. Johnson he told the committee his risqué dalliance was a legal affair between two single, consenting, adults.

The committee didn't see it that way. It not only recommended he be expelled from the legislature, but issued a statement describing his behavior as, "...completely inappropriate and disorderly."

Yesterday, "The Oklahoman," ran with a story saying the representative resigned once again, this time without the option of a mulligan. It also reported Kirby maintains he had enough support to beat the vote to expel him. However he finally gave up because the speaker assured him if he remained in the chamber he would be stripped of all committee positions and not allowed to introduce any legislation. In other words, for the rest of his career he'd have about the same amount of political influence as do the people who vacuum the carpet in the house after everyone else has gone home.

So there we have it. Another legislative year is upon us and suspected deviants are being hunted down and rooted out of the body politic. At the same time look for these right wing yahoos to continue their savage assaults on public health and education as they continue to worship at the feet of the great gods known as big oil and the NRA.

Hey, it is the Oklahoma republican way--the only one they know.

sic vita est