Monday, February 20, 2017

Week of 02/20/2017

Today’s Red Hats Are Yesterday’s Black Shirts
Since this column is being posted on Mattress Sale Day… oops!  I meant President’s Day… it’s only fair that I start off with a little timely history lesson.
Warfare in the time of George Washington was in the process of evolving.  In his time as a colonial officer of the British Army, warfare was “professional”.  It was formalized to an absolute degree.  The troops would be organized into rigid formations on the field of battle.  There were rules that had to be followed.  Soldiers would move when told to, fire when told to, and only retreat when told to, otherwise they would stand there like nimrods and most likely get killed; especially if they were at the front of the line. 
It was a game of “gentlemen”.  The warfare had to be limited to the “field” like it was a sporting event.  Civilians and other non-combatants, including and especially the medical people, were not allowed to get hurt.  In fact, spectators used to line up in “safe” areas outside the “field” just to witness the battles, like people do today for professional sports.  This was how warfare was waged in the day.
But during the French and Indian War, our young Mister Washington saw something that not only shocked him, but it would later give the American Colonies an edge when they would initiate the first and original “Brexit”.  The French and Native Americans that fought against England did not fight like the British did.  They didn’t line up in rigid formations like nimrods to simply stand there and get killed.  They hid behind rocks and trees.  They didn’t fight in groups, firing all at once when ordered to.  They attacked individually, stealthily, hiding for cover so they can reload.  They changed the rules of combat, which gave them the edge.
Of course, the old ways would not die off easily, which was why General Washington would have the advantage over the British during our own “Brexit” struggle.  There would still be formalized warfare, but eventually it gave way to the more “informal” version. 
Warfare would continue to evolve over the centuries since.  The “field of battle” was irrelevant by the time of the Civil War.  “Non-combatants” were no longer considered off-limits.  Infirmaries were not longer “out-of-bounds”.  War was no longer fought with just soldiers, ships, guns, and cannons, but now also with deadly gasses, chemicals, high-yield explosives, sabotage, and something far more dangerous: propaganda.
A hundred years ago, in the shadows of World War I, warfare took another dangerous turn in certain parts of Europe.  A different kind of “army” arose to wage a different kind of warfare. 
In 1917, the old Czar family in Russia was kicked out of power through unrests started by starving people rioting.  An urban myth suggests that the original Russian Revolution was started by old ladies in a bread line being told there was no bread, and it simply exploded from there.  There was no talk of communism or socialism or any kind of “isms”.  Only pissed-off people that were tired of being told to sacrifice everything for stuffy elitists that risked nothing.
The “founder” of communism, Vladimir Lenin, was nowhere to be found in Russia at the time.  He was in “exile” in England when the springtime revolution happened.  I’m sure that had to piss him off.  The audacity of the masses to have the revolution he was calling for and not bother to involve him!  He had to go back to Russia and mobilize his people together and sabotage the efforts of the interim government for him to set up his own revolution in October and eventually create the United Soviet Socialist Republic, or the Soviet Union.
This little bit of history is also important, because it shows a much different kind of warfare being waged.  An internal warfare to control the masses and gain power in government. 
It is a pattern that would repeat itself in the two decades that follow in two other countries: Italy and Germany.
Italy’s fascist thug, Benito Mussolini, rose to power because of not only unrest and deplorable conditions of the previous leaders, but also because of his own private “army” called the Voluntary Militia for National Security.  A group that could be easily identified by their distinctive black shirts.  But they weren’t waging war against another nation.  They were waging war against their own people.  They were there to shut down any voices of unrest or opposition.  In other words, if you weren’t a supporter of fascism, even if you were peaceful, you were in the crosshairs of Mussolini’s black-shirts. 
It would later be parroted by another gang operating in Germany being led by a certain diminutive Austrian-born loser who somehow managed to take over that country and most of Europe within a decade.  But rather than use black as his group’s distinctive uniform color, the Charlie Chaplain lookalike had his thugs wear brown shirts.  Again their purpose was to squash any kind of opposition to their agendas.
The countries and names and shirt colors were different, but their purpose was still the same: control the message by silencing the other messengers.
The citizen “militia” may be laughed off as some fringe group of wannabe soldiers preparing for a war that only exists in their heads, but history continues to show that they should not be dismissed.
The Vietnam War showed that insurgent strikes by “lone wolves” can be just as dangerous in the field of battle as troops of soldiers.  The terrorist attack on the Muir Federal Building in Oklahoma City and the anti-abortion terrorists of the 1990’s showed that self-appointed “soldiers” were just as much a threat to a free society than any black-or-brown-shirt regiment.  And these were both before the events of 9/11.
Even worse, these “citizen soldiers” really were answerable to nobody but themselves. 
Remember when the U.S. Embassy in Iran was taken over in 1979?  “Officially”, the Iranian government had nothing at all to do with it.  After all, it was taken over by a bunch of “students”.  Otherwise it would have been a clear act of war by a hostile nation.  This was the only thing that kept President Jimmy Carter from asking for a full-on declaration of war from the Congress.  This little touchy nuanced line from ruling religious party in Iran that the hostage-takers were simply “students” that were not answerable to anyone but themselves. 
Same with the “lone wolves” of the 90’s.  Anti-abortion terrorists and “militia” people like Eric Robert Rudolph, Clayton Lee Waagoner, and Tim McVeigh were answerable to nobody but themselves.  Sure, many of them shared rhetoric and had the same goals, but they couldn’t be tied any one leader or any one organization.
Fast-forward to today, and we see history repeating itself in the form of the orange-skinned-wacky-man himself, President Donald Trump.
People have been wondering why President Trump is already putting himself into “campaign mode” with barely even half-a-month into his new three-ring presidency.  Why is he even talking about the 2020 elections when he hasn’t even demonstrated his capacity to run the country today?
Some people think that Trump is simply returning to his “comfort zone”.  He really did love the campaigns.  He loved speaking to his crowds of “deplorables”.  After all, he was the one who said that he loved the “poorly-educated”.  His words, not mine.  Google it if you don’t believe me.
But as a student of history – and, really, we all should be at this point – as well as a student of religious extremism and a student of politics, this commentator sees more into what Trump is really doing.
He’s not campaigning.  He’s revving up his own version of the black-shirts.
Only these “black shirts” aren’t wearing black shirts.  Well, some of them may be.  Instead, they’re wearing red hats with “Let’s Make America Great Again” stamped on them. 
Yes, the orange-skinned-wacky-man has a red-hat army.
Of course they won’t tell you that they’re part of any “army” or any other kind of “formal” group.  They’ll just call themselves “concerned Americans”.  “Concerned Americans” that just happen to think that nobody should ever question the Narcissist-in-Chief, even when he does things that would cause one to question his sanity.
These are the same “concerned Americans” that attack stores like Nordstrom, who decided to end their ties to Ivanka Trump.  That scream at Fox News when one of their own media personalities dares to question their Messiah-in-Chief and demands that media personality be fired instead of singing from the Trump hymnal.  That jam up the phone lines of talk radio to say that their messiah can do no wrong and anyone who says otherwise is a damned Hillary supporter.  That demand that the rest of the GOP tow the Trump line, no matter what.  And if those GOP politicians waffle, they are the ones that demand their resignations. They eagerly sing from the Trump hymnals and they expect the rest of us to do as well.
And let’s get brutally honest here… Trump needs these red hats to be his unofficial army of thug enforcers, because that’s the only way he can stay in charge.  He can’t trust the media in its current state to help him.  His narcissism will keep him off-track with every little piece of criticism hefted his way.  And even though he has the full power of the United States Armed Forces as well as a whole alphabet soup of federal agents with the power to arrest and kill at his command, he can’t use them as his personal goon squad.  Trump would have to answer to the actions of those people.  Not so for his red hat supporters.
Remember all of those protesters at Trump rallies that got punched out by Trumpets as they were being led away?  Trump certainly didn’t help matters when he promised to pay for the legal fees of those Trumpets.  But he also wasn’t held to account for that either.  Don’t think for a moment that someone like him wouldn’t notice that little detail.
Trump’s narcissism may hinder him from being a good president, but that isn’t what really makes him dangerous.  What makes his White House tenure dangerous is his legions of red hat supporters that are no different in mentality or motivation than the “citizen soldiers” of the anti-abortion terrorist attacks of the 1990’s, or the “students” in Tehran, or the black shirts in Italy.  The ones that trade a bully pulpit for a goombah’s truncheon, plead persecution when caught, and sing “God Bless America” when they get away with it.
It’s all just another way of waging war when the enemy is part of your own country.
Yeah, wouldn’t that have made President George Washington proud to be an American!
(I’m being sarcastic about that, in case you were wondering.)

Monday, February 13, 2017

Week of 02/13/2017

For The Sake Of America, The Democratic Party Needs To Die
This past week a frequent visitor to “The American Turkey” Facebook page took offense to a comment that longtime Brutally Honest readers have heard me say repeatedly almost for the whole twenty-plus years that I’ve been doing this.  In fact, I said it just last week in my open letter to progressives and liberals and other members of the so-called “resistance”.
The Democratic Party needs to die.
No, I am not kidding about this.  I am not saying this lightly or in jest or in reaction to recent events or just because we have an orange-skinned-wacky-man in the White House and billionaires in his cabinet and fascists running roughshod in the Congress.  I am not saying this just because Hillary Clinton used her friends to get her onto the party ballot in the 2016 Farce.  I can’t even say that I’m saying this out of some partisan disgust, because I have never been nor have I ever wanted to be a member of the Democratic Party. 
Instead I am saying this as an American that has been so disgusted and so jaded with the political process over the past few decades that it tears me up to see America be torn apart into what is essentially a Second Civil War for the pure benefit of K-Street and C-Street lobbyists and big corporations that are raking in billions on top of billions in the process.  I am saying this as someone who is pissed off at the political class in Washington and in state and local governments that operate with almost absolutely zero accountability for their actions even when they are caught red-handed.  Some of these people should even be behind bars, but instead they are rewarded with six-and-seven-figure salaries and speaking tours and book deals.
I am saying this because I have heard the continual script, the empty rhetoric, and the out-and-out goddamned delusions that somehow everything can be fixed “within the system”.  They are lies.  Outright goddamned delusional lies!  I’ve known that for years!  The political class have known this for decades!  The lobbyists and big corporations have known it for almost two centuries now!  The only people who don’t seem to know this… are you, the willfully stupid and willfully ignorant sheep that continue to regurgitate the fiction in social media and letters-to-the-editor.
You can’t say “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” when it comes to the Democratic Party.  The baby is dead, the water is rancid, and the baby tub is badly corrupted.
Here’s a little history lesson for those of you who think that we’ve always had these two parties: America first started with no political parties whatsoever.  None.  That was actually considered a good thing.  President George Washington said in his farewell address
"However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion."
Sound familiar?  Sadly, of course, he was proven right not long after he stepped down.
There have been more than just two political parties in America over the two-hundred-forty years this country has existed.  Even the “Democratic Party” has not existed by that name in all its time.  It used to be called the “Democratic-Republican Party”.  And before that, there was a party called The Federalists.  Not “The Federalist Party”.  Just “The Federalists”.  And, no, they can’t even claim that they created the “Republican Party” either, because they came out from the schism that was created between the Whig Party and the Know-Nothing Party.
You see, Trump supporters?  This is why it is important to actually learn something in school other than how to open up a beer can or cheer at a sporting event.  Now you think about that while your billionaire donor Secretary of Education proves why you made the biggest mistakes of your lives, and I’ll go back to further pissing off the people who are pissed off at me this week.
Now, why did I bring up that history lesson?  Because I want you to consider what happened to all the other parties that have come and gone.  The Federalists and Anti-Federalists, our first political parties, did not change names over the two centuries.  They were replaced with other political parties.  Then when those parties either became too corrupt or too impotent to carry on, they died and were replaced with other upstart parties that would interject new vigor into the political scene.
The GOP itself came into existence and rose into power because the Whig Party was seen as too corrupt and too impotent to deal with the political issues that were literally dividing America along ideological lines.  And I am not going to suggest that Abraham Lincoln could be anywhere near what Donald Trump is today, because that would be like comparing Gandhi to a snake oil salesman, but I will say that even his leadership could not stop America from its Civil War.  The divide was just too great at that point.
That brings us to our time and our century, and, in our time, I have seen the Democratic Party flounder time and time again.  Yes, they have brought up some good leaders.  They have championed some good movements.  But, more often than not, they have produced and propped up those that have proven President Washington’s farewell words true over and over again, and most of them are still there in position of power in Congress and in the Democratic Party.
The House Minority Leader, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, is the biggest living example of this.  She ended up being Speaker of the House for a few years, in which time she did very little other than to rubber-stamp whomever was in the White House.  Then when she lost that job because her party lost control over the Congress, she wasn’t upset or pissed or even offered to change anything.  Why should she?  After all, she kept her cushy seat.  And after the 2016 Farce, when she somehow got re-elected to the minority leadership position, she publicly announced that her plan to regain control of the House would be the same plan that she had before 2006… which was to simply wait until the willfully stupid and willfully ignorant voters get sick of the GOP and vote them out of power.
That is not leadership, people!  That is the mentality of an incompetent slacker.  And what is worse is that it is a slacker that got re-elected by her own peers in Congress while there was a viable alternative running against her.  So what does that say about the whole party contingent there?  I mean, you Dems are so pissed off at the people who voted for Donald Trump, but why aren’t you also pissed about the same contingent of losers and slackers that just re-elected a proven incompetent slacker to your party’s minority leadership position in Congress?
And let’s not forget the Senate’s newest minority leader, Chuck Shumer, shall we?  Oh, he who promised to hold Trump and the GOP accountable has been painfully silent these past two weeks. The GOP majority in the Senate approved two uncontested rule changes to muscle in three of Trump’s cabinet appointments and then invoked an archaic rule to silence a female Senator on the floor of the Senate from speaking out against a third.  Where was “Senator Hold-Them-To-Account” in those instances?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch The Bitch McConnell may be a jawless turtle-dick, but at least he’s out there exercising the power he shouldn’t have.  Where’s Shumer?  He’s been even more of a “Low Energy” person these past two weeks than even Jeb Bush!
Meanwhile the Democratic National Committee is busy trying to decide who should “lead” the party after their own corrupt embarrassments were laid bare just last year.  You can blame the Russians all you like, but the truth of the matter is that the DNC got exposed as the corrupt and incompetent group that they are, and that played a factor in the national election as well.  Why should anyone with even a scintilla of ethics and decency be willing to step up and put their name and their own reputation at risk for a party that would rather favor incompetence and mediocrity?
Look at what happened to Senator Bernie Sanders!  Here’s someone with energy, someone who honestly cared about what was going on in this nation, and he was tapping into the discontent of those that the Democrats needed to have on their side, and not only was he intentionally cock-blocked by the leadership of the Democratic National Committee to favor Hillary Clinton, but he was then coerced into betraying everything he said on the campaign trail to endorse the candidate that represented everything he previously opposed.  And you want to question why some people who supported Bernie ended up supporting Trump?  If you are one of the people that are asking that, then you are part of the problem that needs to be removed before there can be a solution.
I know the script says that America cannot be a fascist state because there are supposedly two dominant political parties, but let’s get brutally honest here… when one of those parties is proven to be useless and impotent, then you don’t have “two dominant parties” anymore!  All you have is one party – the GOP – and an institutional scapegoat that you can beat up on a regular basis like Emmanuel Goldstein was in George Orwell’s classic book “Nineteen Eighty-Four”.
And if you think that I am exaggerating about that, then you have not been listening to what talk radio and Breitbart and Fox News and the conservative columnists have been saying about the Democrats as a party and anyone in general not matching up to their definition of “conservative”.  They have been treating the Democrats and the liberals and progressives and the media as a whole bunch of Emmanuel Goldsteins… and that tactic has paid off with an orange-skinned-wacky-man in the White House, with Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway and Hack Sean Spicer by his side, with a theo-conservative as Vice President, the GOP controlling all three branches of government and Fox News dominating the cable news scene.  In other words, Democrats, you didn’t just lose, you failed.
The baby is dead, the bathwater is rancid, and the tub is corrupt.
Nobody that puts a “(D)” next to their name, or those that support the party of that same letter should ever – ever – be proud of the fact that the last election was one where the two dominant parties were actually campaigning on the premise that their candidate was not as bad as the other one! You should be embarrassed by that!  You should be so disgusted by that kind of tactic that you would demand the immediate resignation of every single politician in that party!  And I am pissed off by the fact that most of you are not!
And to top it all off… and try to keep up with me on this... we have said orange-skinned-wacky-man who claimed during the campaign that the election system was rigged, that still won the GOP nomination, that still claimed the system was rigged, that actually won the election through the Electoral College, that continued to claim that the election system was rigged even after he won, that fought every effort at holding a recount that would either confirm or reject his assertion that the election system was rigged, and still to this very day claims that the election system was rigged and is demanding a full investigation to prove it.  And the person that was pushing for that recount… was Jill Stein of the Green Party!  Not the Democrats!  Not Hillary Clinton!  Certainly not Incompetent Pelosi or Low Energy Shumer.  No.  Jill Stein, who had absolutely nothing at all to gain from any kind of recount, was the one that tried to hold Donald Trump to account for his claim that he won in a rigged system.  If that is not a sign of gross incompetence for the Democrats, I don’t know what is.
That’s why I say, for the continued future of the United States of America, that the Democratic Party needs to go.  It has become a party of losers, being led by losers, and has become good at only one thing, and that is losing.  They need to be held to account for their miserable choices in Washington and they need to step down.  That is the only way they can truly stop the GOP, because the GOP is counting on the Democrats to continue being the failures that they are.  They want Shumer and Pelosi right where they are!  They want the Democrats to be huddled around trying to see which also-ran and wannabe and “destiny” party players would somehow do something different. 
Because they know the truth about the Dems.  They know that the baby is dead, the bathwater is rancid, and the tub called the Democratic Party is corrupt. And it needs to go before there can be real change.
And it’s not like there would be a vacuum once the Democrats step down.  The Green Party and the Libertarian Party would gladly fight over who would fill that void, and dollars-to-donuts say they would do a far better job than the Democrats because they wouldn’t be hamstringed by those aforementioned also-rans and wannabes and “destiny” party players.  The Greens have already proven they are willing to speak out against the Cult of Trump with the recount effort.  If you’re part of the so-called “resistance”, wouldn’t you want a political party that would actually welcome that?
In any other competition in America and the world, we celebrate what we consider to be the best.  The World Series is about which of the two best baseball teams that year are the best.  The Super Bowl is about which of the two best football teams that year are the best.  The Olympics are held every four years to see which athlete in which nation is the best.  But take a campaign to see who should be the leader of the United States of America, with the power to literally destroy the whole world dozens of times over, and here we are told as part of our continual political script that we need to choose the one that is not-as-worse than the other.  That is not something that you should take pride in.  That is not something that you should be telling your children to cherish and defend and even join the military and risk your life to support.  That is not a sign of any kind of “exceptionalism”!  That should be a sign of shame and disgust and embarrassment, and something that needs to be put out of our collective misery.
Think back to the 1850’s.  Do you really think that the people behind the Whig Party wanted to stand down?  Do you think they wanted the party to splinter like it did into the Know-Nothings and the GOP?  No, of course not!  They were saying the very same things I’ve been hearing for twenty years from the Dems and the GOP.  “You can only change it from the inside.”  “There have always been only two parties… never mind those other ones.”  And, of course, “don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Except that at some point the people in the Whig Party had to accept that their time was done.  They had to accept…
… that the baby was dead, the bathwater was rancid, and the tub was corrupt.
And now the Democrats need to accept it as well.
Their baby is dead.  Their bathwater is rancid.  And their political tub is corrupt.  And it all needs to go.