America: The Reality (Shit-)Show
As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron. —H L Mencken (July 26, 1920)
We live in a nation where people now prefer to hold their dogs like little baby buttercups instead of walking them like four-legged canids. Where those same people act as though we are morons if we tell them that their dogs are making us uncomfortable as they lick our crotches and sniff our behinds. We live in a nation where the 2nd ranked political website in the world regularly pens pieces such as, "10 Nutritionists Reveal What They’d Order At McDonald’s" or "Price Is Right Contestants Freak Out After All Hitting A Dollar." We live in a nation where 75 percent of Americans can name two or more of the seven dwarfs, while 75 percent of Americans cannot name two or less Supreme Court Justices. And, we live in a nation where one in five Americans believes that the sun revolves around the earth and witches do, in fact, walk (or fly) among us.
We live in a nation with 300 million guns. A gun for almost every man, woman and child. More guns per capita than anywhere else on the planet. Where the gun-related murder rate is 25 times higher than all developed nations. Where the gun-related suicide rate is 8 times higher than all developed nations. Yet, somehow, Americans still believe Obama poached more AR-15s and Glocks than any POTUS in history. In fact, background checks, manufacturing and purchasing are at record highs since he took office. The same number of guns were sold during Obama's next to last year in the Oval as the number of cars, TVs, computers and smartphones combined. Japan has 40 percent of America's population but .0004 of its gun-related deaths. Japan averages 2 to 12 gun deaths per year. America averages 30,000. Over the last decade, 71 Americans died from terrorist attacks. During that same period, 302,000 died by gun violence, more than all other U.S. engaged wars and deployments combined, except for World War II and the Civil War. Mass shootings transpire in almost 100 of America's major metropolitan areas each year. And, a toddler shoots someone, on average, once per week. And yet, Obama continued to make weepy speeches. And, Congress continued to hold moments of silence. And, moms and dads and sons and daughters continued to die. And, Wayne LaPierre and the NRA continued to stuff $30 million a year into pol wallets and pay-for-play initiatives that guaranteed tens of thousands of funerals year after year after year after year after year after year after year after year after year. And what is truly going to change during a Trump Presidency, in light of child crusaders post-Parkland? Not much.
We live in a nation where foreign military occupation is more addicting than dope. 800 military installations. 74 nations. $200 billion invested annually to police the earth, mine its resources and dictate or otherwise influence foreign power structures. Some installations have stood since World War II. How many foreign installations exist on American turf? Zero. U.S. percentage of global population: 4.4 percent. U.S. percentage of global military spending: 37 percent. U.S. military spending per minute: $1.8 million dollars. Under Bush, the number of drone strikes: less than 300. Under Obama: more than 500. We live in a nation where drone "signature strikes" - which murder people that "might" be terrorists, even though we cannot confirm their identity - proceed without a hint of due process. Why should Obama, his former military hit squad and all those who succeeded them be absolved in perpetuity for murdering thousands of unknowns and civilians? Why doesn't America afford the same absolution to those who reign down upon us the very same carnage? Lest we not forget the carnage we reign down upon ourselves here at home... The percentage increase of homeless vets over the last 5 years: 67 percent. 54 percent of those are mentally or physically disabled. Black vets represent 39 percent of homeless vets but just 11 percent of overall vets. V.A. facilities in 42 states have been cited for mishandling veteran affairs. The V.A. also paid $200 million to nearly 1,000 families in wrongful death cases since 9/11. So, how is it that V.A. overseers doled out $142 million in performance bonuses to themselves?
We live in a nation where Americans believed that Obama raised their taxes. In fact, we live in a nation where Obama himself once pledged, "We need to have a tax code where secretaries aren't paying a (higher) tax rate than their bosses." Damn right, Chief. So, why are those same bosses paying an even lower tax rate than their secretaries under Trump and this Congress? The top 10 percent of the nation's earners make nine times the income of the bottom 90 percent. The top 1 percent make over 38 times more than the bottom 90 percent. And, the top 0.1 percent make over 184 times more than the bottom 90 percent. America's top 1 percent incomes peaked right before the onset of the Great Depression in the late 20's and again right before the Great Recession in 2008. As Marx said, "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." How is it that Walmart's CEO makes more in sixty minutes than a new store employee will earn from an entire annual salary? That's one hour of a working day compared to two thousand hours of work per year. We live in a nation that nearly imploded due to Wall Street gangsters, yet Wall Street bonuses averaged just shy of $150,000. The New York Times dubbed such a thing a "difficult year." Difficult?! Tell the average American who earns $30k for an entire year how difficult that is. Or, tell the average Black or Latino American who earns about $20k how difficult that is. Or, tell women how difficult that is, considering we live in a nation where men with 2 years of experience still earn more than women with 6. "Difficult" is swimming in personal debt due to depressed wages and absurdly inflated expenses, not swimming in a lap pool on the roof deck of your lower Manhattan penthouse filled with platinum and pearls.
And though year-over-year wage growth for employees is a pathetic 2.6-2.9 percent for over 7 years and counting, we live in a nation where the average family health care premium has risen by 61 percent over the last decade. Where the average annual cost is $10,000. And, where fewer workers are offered health insurance from their employer than 15 years ago. In fact, deductibles alone have increased 67% over the past seven years. Harvard researchers revealed that 62% of all personal bankruptcies result from medical bills, even though 78% of filers actually had health insurance.
We live in a nation where tuition at private colleges has increased 69 percent since 2000 and where tuition at public institutions has more than doubled. We live in a nation where such colleges force hardworking moms and dads and their college hopefuls to annually borrow over $110 million dollars from an unforgiving government and their merciless lender-kin. How can the average American family afford to pay $120,000 (not including room and board) for an education that far from guarantees a payoff on the other end? While faculty salaries hold relatively steady, president and administrator pay has been bastardized beyond belief. And how do we even begin to discuss the outrage that has become athletics over academics? Football mega-stadiums trump fair and fruitful schooling. Scholarships for muscles trump support for arts and sciences. We also live in a nation where 40 percent of college students drop out and many disappear into dark recesses. Where secondary students rank 24th in the world in literacy. And, where our educational system ranks 14th among developed nations.
The last few years were scientifically confirmed to be the hottest years on record with more floods and storms than ever. 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is happening. 76 percent of Americans believe in climate change. Yet, we live in a nation where half of Congress is represented by climate change deniers! This same crew represents almost 70 percent of the population and receives $100 million in political contributions from dirty energy interests. We live in a nation where people are actually financially punished, via indiscriminate fees, for wanting to live more efficiently and release themselves from the loins of standard power grids. We live in a nation where electricity rates have risen by as much as 25 percent per year for years, even though utility providers have enjoyed record-low costs for provision. Between 1973–2008, citizens living in the central and eastern United States experienced an average of 21 earthquakes with magnitude three and larger. By 2014, there were 600 M3+ earthquakes. By 2015, over 1000. Fracking became the dirty little buzzword, but the real game-changer is wastewater injection and disposal from oil and gas extraction processes that lead to "induced earthquakes." Over the last 20 years, such environmental abuses have now doubled the number of citizens in harm's way - 150 million people or nearly half of the population.
This is America: The Reality (Shit-)Show.
Nothing could be more symbolic of this nation, the self-proclaimed greatest nation on earth, than an earthquake. We are one interminable fault line. We cause one seismic event after another, though we are seemingly incapable of predicting and preventing the earth-shattering fallout. We enumerate our evolution in terms of the number of widgets we sell, the number of gadgets we own, the number of zeros on our paychecks, the number of calories we consume, the number of bars on our cell phones or the number of bars we lock African American and Latino men behind, the number of guns we cock and the number of cocks who we elect to protect our guns. This is our nation. This is our "evolution."
Therefore, it is fitting that one in four Americans denies evolution. After all, those people are correct; evolution does not apply to them, and it scarcely applies to the rest of us these days.
That's because we live in a nation where an NFL quarterback (Colin Kaepernick) receives death threats for making heroic attempts to draw attention to murderous rampages by law enforcers turned ruthless mercenaries. We live in a nation where, regardless if that quarterback has the Constitutional right to do what he does, or regardless if he is right about the state of increasingly militant policing, or regardless of his commitment to donate $1 million dollars to communities in need, a "liberal" Supreme Court Justice by the name of Ruth Ginsberg compared his courage to flag-burning and called his campaign for social justice "dumb and disrespectful." Ginsberg apologized, but little good that did. It is crystal clear where she stands and why. In fact, her ex post facto twaddle is now part and parcel of the nation's highest court. Antonin Scalia once said, "If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder?" And Clarence Thomas yowled, "The worst things that have been done to me, the worst things that have been said about me, are by northern liberal elites." Thomas clearly suffers from short term memory loss since he voted with the conservative majority to kill a key section of the Voting Rights Act which prohibits racial discrimination at the polls. And, by the way, if the purpose of lifetime appointment is to protect Justices from political pressures, that mission has not only clearly imploded, but it is, by its very nature, a laughable rubric. Law and politics are as one as religion and politics and money and politics and power and politics and, well, lawlessness and politics.
Perhaps, the grandest irony of all is how "dumb" Ginsberg's comment was. A Supreme Court Justice, or any other American who denies Kaepernick his due, forgets that this very nation marches on only because our forefathers and foremothers, wait for it... protested. The colonists didn't kneel on the sidelines during a pro football game that costs $500 for a family of four. They smothered their candles, prepared their land, fastened their boot straps, took up arms and went out into the raw reality of battle for nearly a decade. They suffered brutally for their beliefs, and they did not have any trainers or painkillers or paid time off.
How in the world do people forget this, especially when we are, by our very nature, a nation borne of protestors? A nation that fought to the death in order to exact what it felt were matters of oppression or denials of liberty. The Boston Tea Party, the Stamp Act, etc. - they are tired, myopic mile markers for rationalizing the American Revolution in egregious textbooks. What these textbooks never tell us is that, at the heart of virtually every such revolt is what Noam Chomsky described as, "... constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and to consume." Of the reaction to such internment, Thoreau aptly wrote, “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
A "revolution" is defined as an "activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation." A "war" is "a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations." And then there is genocide, "the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group." The Nazi Holocaust... mass murder of 6 million Jews and millions of other non-Jews, so diabolical that it will forever haunt our collective consciousness. The Transatlantic Slave Trade... the murder of 5 million Africans, a million or so in North America and an era in which half of all slave babies died before their first birthday.
What does one call the combination of all three - revolution, war, genocide?
Maybe it is best termed "the birth of a nation," for the American Revolution materialized only because it was preceded by the slaughter of tens of millions (by some estimates more than 75 million) actual Americans - Indians, that is. Today, the American Indian population is a mere 1 percent of America's current population. Median income for American Indians is $15,000 less than the national average. And how do we acknowledge all of these atrocities? By celebrating, of course. We enable oil companies to celebrate the planned construction of pipelines upon sacred tribal grounds and ignore the reality that a spill would be "culturally and economically catastrophic" to these magnificent people. We brand a pro football team (The Redskins) in the nation's capital where we can also celebrate the fact the D.C. has the highest use of food stamps. We brand a pro baseball team in Cleveland (The Indians) where we can also celebrate the fact that 60 percent of Cleveland's children live in poverty. We give ourselves a day off from work in October (Columbus Day) to celebrate our beloved founder who said of American Indians, "They should be good servants," and, "with fifty men they can all be subjugated and made to do what is required of them." And, to top it all off, we give ourselves more well-earned days off in November (Thanksgiving) replete with a fancy feast and discounted shopping in order to celebrate the 700+ men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe who, in 1637, were ordered to awaken predawn after celebrating their Green Corn Festival the day prior. The men emerged from their teepees and were shot or clubbed to death while the women and children were burned alive. The following day, the governor of the local Colony declared "A Day Of Thanksgiving." Happy holiday, everyone.
"The United States was founded by the brightest people in the country, and we haven't seen them since.” — Gore Vidal
And so we come to our relatively recent national celebration of democracy - the carnage that was the 2016 Presidential race, otherwise known as gorilla feces on a popsicle stick lit on fire, served with a side of live Philippine Cobra Snakes accompanied by Bill Cosby reading Emily Dickinson while chewing on glass shards.
The political history that unfolded before our eyes was yet more history that most of us would like to unsee. The kind of history that makes egregious textbooks blush. Or, come to think of it, maybe the kind of history that represents us to a "t." All in all, it is the kind of history that reminds us of how 127 million American evolution-deniers might be onto something.
Make no mistake, at the very front lines of those who gain from our torture are folks who remind us, minute by minute, hour after hour, day after day, week in and week out, year after year, just how much we need them to mind the gates of all things credible. We're talking about those mass media masterminds. The fair, balanced and nuanced wizards of wisdom. Those savvy, seductive info-stalwarts who rush to take photos of themselves running over babies while chasing ambulances. Yes, there are good guys and gals in the news biz - those who actually believe in journalistic dogma sans big money. Democracy Now! and National Public Radio come to mind, because they are publicly funded. Good luck trying to identify a mass news outlet that does not have ties to big corporate interests that have ties to the Beltway that has ties to social and economic engineers hellbent on engineering an earthquake of a nation.
Network "news" people just might comprise the party most responsible for creating reality TV president Donald Trump in the first place. Without entertainment, news is all about truths and facts and objectivity and critical information, all of which affects our lives, hopes and dreams. Who the hell wants that? Without an Access Hollywood tape of Donald Trump trashing, exploiting or categorizing women like those four-legged canids who sniff around our family jewels - the way Trump has always categorized women - we might actually have to learn something about all that policy and history rubbish. What a snooze fest.
It's truly quite easy to see how network newsies have a lot in common with Trump. They're loud. They're biased. They're rich. They're testosterone-fueled. They care more about their hair than than the good of the people. They care more about imparting notions than facts. They start every sentence with "I think, emphasis on "I." They make little if any contribution to the world. They're owned by and collude with dark interests. And they stay up all night tweeting and whining and usurping digital real estate over nothing we truly care about and little that truly matters. They are 99 percent insultainment and 1 percent intelligence.
Chris Matthews of MSNBC might just be the definition of how far "news" has violently veered off the tracks. A smug, squealing, insensitive, trespasser of substance and sound analysis, Matthews is an obsessive, unapologetic, serial interrupter who has all but defined the scarcity of value that such media affords. His devotees, especially fellow MSNBC anchors with whom he vaingloriously mucks about, constantly misdiagnose his smarts and his biography as wisdom. Perhaps what makes his media mate, Rachel Maddow, an especially tragic cable agent is the fact that not even her boundless socio-political instincts and inarguable smarts prevent her from buying into the self-important, suck-up sellout that she has become. Her nonstop praise of the likes of Matthews and the equally appalling Brian Williams might have something to do with her $7 million dollar annual salary for the MSNBC version of The Rachel Maddow Show. She sure has assumed the designation of good corporate soldier since hosting the show of the same name on Air America Radio a decade past. Example ... how often did Rachel Maddow praise the actual journalist, Ron Fonger, who invested years chronicling and demystifying the Flint water crisis before it ever crossed her desk? Yeah, not so much. Yet, how much credit did she get for lifting Fonger's inexorable journalistic discovery in order to create her own interpretation? Loads. Her Flint Town Hall was hailed. Brian Williams driveled on about her tireless journalism. The network lathered itself in superciliousness. And Ron Fonger continues to work for the largely unsung Flint Journal where he likely makes $75 grand a year while Rachel Maddow piles on to her $20 million dollar net worth.
CNN was late to the coverage of the Presidential campaign because they were still searching for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, for the meaning of "integrity", for ratings that were a grain of sand above awful, and one good reason for continuing to put Wolf Blitzer in front of a camera. Enough said.
Fox "news" is the dung of a troll. It was formerly run by the flea that ate the dung of the troll before keeling over - Roger Ailes. It is owned and operated by the dung of the flea that ate the dung of the troll - Rupert Murdoch and his media empire, News Corp./21st Century Fox. Regardless of the dung-infested nature of the entire hierarchy, Fox rates as top dog over and again. Does this not say enough about a nation that prefers egregious nonsense over hardcore knowledge?
Donald Trump has been equally "entertaining,"hasn't he? Here's how entertaining he was before and during the campaign trail. "I get called by a guy that can't buy a pair of pants, I get called names?" said Trump about disabled New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski. Or, “You know, it really doesn’t matter what they write as long as you’ve got a young, beautiful piece of ass." Or, "Our great African-American President hasn’t exactly had a positive impact on the thugs who are so happily and openly destroying Baltimore.” Or, "I have never seen a thin person drinking Diet Coke.” Or, “I think the only difference between me and the other candidates is that I’m more honest and my women are more beautiful.” Or, “My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it. Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.” Or, “The only card [Hillary Clinton] has is the woman’s card. She’s got nothing else to offer, and frankly, if Hillary Clinton were a man, I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote.” He also said this in 2008. "I know Hillary and I think she’d make a great president or vice-president."
"No one is dumb who is curious. The people who don't ask questions remain clueless throughout their lives." — Neil deGrasse Tyson
Trump is a racist, sexist, classist narcissist. Mostly, however, he is dumb. The sole exception is his extraordinary gift for recruiting those who mistake power for privilege. This nation deserved what it got in Donald Trump like it deserved what it got in George W. We encourage and we enable and we elect the dumb to deflect from our own ghosts, our own insecurities, our own dislocation from accountability, from our obligation to travel a much more rigorous road toward holistic awareness, decency. Like a reality TV show, nothing about anything is real. Mass media understands this better than the rest. Easy targets equal easy money. Trump is the easy money shit-show of all easy money shit-shows. And like all shit-shows, it's cheap to produce, it scores boundless eyeballs, and it produces spin-off shit-shows that ordain the whole shit-show archetype as a gift that keeps on giving.
Thus... America: The Reality (Shit-)Show.
Should this nation take Trump seriously? Yes. Not because he occupies 1600 Pennsylvania, but because he evinces how little it takes to get there. And, perhaps most importantly, it proves how little the American Presidency matters.
Americans knew Trump verbally or physically assaulted women long before he made his Presidential bid. Americans also knew that Jersey Shore and Real Housewives and Bridezillas and The Bachelor are famed reality TV fare anchored in an assault on women; an assault that even encouraged "epic girl fights." Yet, hundreds of millions of viewers lapped it up like bourbon-infused Slurpies. Right, Andy Cohen?
Americans knew "Trump" was "dumb" long before he made his Presidential bid. Americans also knew that Keeping Up with the Kardashians and Duck Dynasty and Celebrity Rehab and Here Comes Honey Boo Boo are famed reality TV fare anchored in an assault on intelligence; an assault that continues to encourage cognitive inertia. Regardless, we deserve to take a load off from our underpaying jobs and our over-inflated expenses and our earthquake of a nation, don't we?
Americans knew that Trump was an oligarch long before he made his Presidential bid. Americans also knew that The Simple Life and Vanderpump Rules and Chrisley Knows Best and The Millionaire Matchmaker are famed reality TV fare anchored in an assault on the middle/working class. Us Magazine has a (in)famous column titled, "Stars - they're just like us." No, no they're not. They get paid outrageous sums of money to pretend, and we willingly enable that transfer of wealth by buying into the farce.
Americans knew the Trump "empire" was a Ponzi Scheme long before he made his Presidential bid. Americans also knew that American Idol and America's Next Top Model and Shark Tank and Wheel of Fortune are famed reality TV fare anchored in our addiction to get-rich-quick swindles. Across the 43 states where lotteries are legal, Americans spend $70 billion per year, almost $250 for every citizen. That's because we boundlessly believe we can beat impossible odds. We can be the next star or CEO or winning contestant or... Trump.
Americans may or may not know, however, that the Oval Office and Capitol Building are properties available at auction. Americans certainly knew that Pawn Stars and Storage Wars and Auction Hunters are famed reality TV fare anchored in our addiction to selling stuff to avoid foreclosure or debt collectors or personal bankruptcies. The Oval Office and the Capitol Building are now investment properties auctioned off, year after year, by a long list of brokers whose offices are located on K Street. How else can we manage a $19 trillion dollar national debt?
Mitt Romney on the 2016 campaign trail for a candidate in Las Vegas said, "I was offended and dismayed by what was said and done by Mr. Trump. I think it's degrading to our women to our daughters to our granddaughters to future generations and I dearly hope that we will come together as a nation and stand as firmly as we possibly can for the principles that have made us the shining city on a hill."
The official Mormon position on women - "A woman's primary place is in the home, where she is to rear children and abide by the righteous counsel of her husband." Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon church, expressed to the press that polygamy was an "abomination." Joseph had been married to at least eleven women besides his legal wife. His first wife was a seventeen year old orphan.
Bill Maher is a renowned comedian and a smart man. But for decades, Maher has unapologetically leveraged his role as über-comic like a get-out-of-jail-free card for a breadth of indignant personal sorties. Yes, comedy is a universal healer, and we as a people do need to lighten up and stop parsing every little word like it was an archaeological dig, but comedy should never be a free pass for sexism or racism. In a discussion with Jerry Seinfeld, Mahr said, "I got thrown out of a party, because someone tried to cut in line [to the bathroom], and I bodily picked them up, it was a girl, she just thought she could Paris Hilton her way through, and I said 'sweetheart, we all feel the same, we all have to go to the bathroom." Seinfeld asks Mahr, "You picked her up - do you regret that?" Mahr said, "Not in the least." Mahr once claimed, “I’m not trying to be sexist here, but I’m just saying that women try a lot of different tacks when they’re in arguments… I’m not being sexist, I’m just saying that men, when we argue, we’re kind of a one-trick pony — we try our thing, and then we sulk when we don’t get our way. But look at Hillary Clinton. Because the first thing a woman does, of course, is cry… and then they go to sweet talking… and then they throw an anger fit totally unrelated to anything…. And when it doesn’t work, they bring out the sarcasm.” Or other zingers like, "They fined CBS a million dollars for Janet Jackson's nipple, think what they could get for Hillary Clinton's c*nt." Or on Sarah Palin, "Speaking of dumb c*nts, this a category five moron." Or, "Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who's trying to kill u - u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her."
During a warmup of his Late Show taping, David Letterman fielded questions from the audience. One attendee asked about advice he would give to the year's college graduates. Letterman replied: "Treat a lady like a whore, and a whore like a lady."
Jim Norton of the Opie and Anthony show said, "The problem with women is they complain and they fuck it up. They complain [using whiny baby voice] 'oh, this is harassment', and that's why we hate them [being] around, because they stop us from doing what we want to do.“ Donald Trump Jr. responded, "If you can’t handle some of the basic stuff that’s become a problem in the workforce today, then you don’t belong in the workforce. You should go maybe teach kindergarten. You can’t be negotiating billion-dollar deals if you can’t handle, like, you know.” Yeah, DJ, Jr., we feel ya. We know that everyone should be negotiating billion dollar deals, especially kindergarten teachers. We know that kindergarten teachers aren't actually part of the workforce, they just smoke weed and play trippy games with kids all day. We know you never had a kindergarten teacher, because you were too busy playing with gold-plated Lego, soiling your gold-plated diaper with gold-plated bowel movements or learning exactly how to become a dick at your $60 thousand-dollar-a-year boarding school, The Hills School.
Yep... This is America: The Reality (Shit-)Show.
Bill Maher or Bill O'Reilly, Donald Trump or his dicky sons, Opie and Anthony or David Letterman and the list goes on... these champions of "oh, it's okay because I'm me" choose to do or say what will ultimately protect their privilege, veil their insecurities and sustain their self-perceived notion that they are unassailable because they have a penis. Even if some of these men actually earned their way to center stage, they have certainly also earned the right to be world-class dicks. As the remarkable Shirley Chisholm said, “The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor says, 'It's a girl.'”
And then there is Hillary Clinton.
Nope, certainly not a misogynist like the Donald. But feminist? Really? Hillary adored attaching herself to her husband's economic record, and she most certainly had her hands in that cookie-jar, whether as tireless campaigner or ghostwriter for their (in)famous ideas and programs of the 90s.
But, feminists don't believe that an anemic $12 minimum wage is going to do much if any good for women already subjected to outrageous wage inequality. (Thanks, ironically, to white, male Bernie Sanders reminding her of that, she suddenly had an epiphany to join him at $15 an hour.) Feminists don't claim that “ending welfare as we know it” is a good thing for women, especially those in desperate circumstances. Feminists don't rally conservatives to pass the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA) which killed welfare programs designed to provide real assistance to those same women and children in dire need of support. Feminists don't savage the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) act which formerly provided aid to 68 percent of families with children living in poverty. Thanks to the Clintons, that number was reduced to 27 percent. Feminists don't proudly tell reporters, “Now that we’ve said these people are no longer deadbeats – they’re actually out there being productive – how do we keep them there?” Women and children are deadbeats? That's a feminist thing to say? And, no, Hillary, they were and are not out there "being productive." They were left behind then and they are left behind now, because they were used as pawns to help you and your husband lay claim to a balanced budget.
Hell, you and your hubby also rewrote the Community Reinvestment Act which essentially forced banks to lend in low-income neighborhoods. How'd that work out? Can we say, the greatest recession since the Great Depression? Clinton’s wholesale deregulation of the banking industry is the cracked cornerstone that essentially caused the financial crisis.
Feminists don't tell reporters investigating one's husband's sexual misconduct, "Who's going to find out. These women are trash. Nobody's going to believe them." Feminists don't defend their sexual predator husbands by demeaning their prey. Feminists don't label a 23-year-old, star-crossed and severely manipulated intern named Monica Lewinsky a "narcissistic loony toon." Hillary heralded her efforts for women's rights while playing dutiful wife to her husband’s infidelities. Hell, she married a president before running to be one. What if she had proclaimed her utter disdain and proudly, deservedly marched toward and secured a state or national congressional race as Hillary Rodham, decades ago? Would that not have amped up her gender to volume 11, perhaps even awakened the bully-male populace to the fact that its unjust dominance would (thankfully) be a thing of the past? Clinton is no pioneer feminist. Standing by one's man is not courageous. Men have failed to stand by women since the dawn of time. Why would they? Women only bare babies, manage the majority of parental affairs and domestic affairs, balance the home-work life far more frequently and adeptly, and represent the greater share of the population. And they do so for a fraction of wages, opportunities, recognition and respect. Boo-hoo, right, boys?
Clinton best sums herself thusly, "... you need both a public and a private position." No, Hillary, you don't. This is why we are where we are with Beltway bullshit. And while some, like Bill Maher, believe this to be entirely unimportant and representative of the entire lot of us, he is not only sorely mistaken, he conveniently forgot to address the context in which she said what she said.
As John Kerry, the man who now occupies Hillary's former role at State, said not long ago, "When we don't advance and live up to our own rhetoric and standards, we set a terrible message of duplicity and hypocrisy."
Clinton was against LGBT rights before she was politically motivated to be for them. She campaigned for the Defense of Marriage Act. The famedmails reveal Clinton campaign staff dealing with her DOMA support with the insider appeal, “I’m not saying double down or ever say it again. I’m just saying that she’s not going to want to say she was wrong about that, given she and her husband believe it and have repeated it many times. Better to reiterate evolution, opposition to DOMA when court considered it.”
Clinton ardently campaigned for the 1994 Crime Bill that effectively created the minority incarceration and private prison epidemic that exists today. Results? The greatest expansion of state and federal prisoners in history. The greatest expansion of grants ($16 billion) to build and privatize prisons in history. The greatest expansion of police forces in history. The greatest expansion of new capital crimes in history. The greatest expansion of incarcerated African Americans (approximately 85 percent) in history, regardless of the fact that whites used or sold drugs at relatively equal levels. The greatest expansion of mandatory (truth-in-)sentencing laws in history. And by the way, Clinton campaigned for the Anti-terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act and the Prison Litigation Reform Act which prevent federal judges from reversing state decisions, limiting due process for the incarcerated, especially the indigent. Is it a coincidence that States make the lion's share of criminal justice decisions?
Though both Clintons lay claim to significant triumphs that arose from the 1994 Bill, the truth is far afield from such proclamations. The Government Accountability Office determined that a major expansion in police forces resulted in “modest” crime improvements. In-prison education was eliminated, primarily locking African-American prisoners in a recidivistic cycle. They were also ousted from public housing if convicted of even minor offenses. African-American unemployment and poverty increased. Of course, elimination of welfare didn't help either. But African-Americans and Latinos sure were welcomed into the military or into the lowest paying jobs or into the least appealing, slumlord-run residential corridors of society.
On the stump, however, Hillary held her hand over her bleeding heart and solemnly swore, "Young people are being threatened and humiliated by racial profiling. Children are growing up in homes shattered by prison and poverty. They’re trying to tell us. We need to listen." You needed to listen 25 years ago, Hillary.
Clinton used her job as SOS to actively sell fracking around the globe. She rallied oil and gas giants like Chevron to not only fracture earth here at home but to play major roles in diplomatic negotiations abroad. "I know that in some places it is controversial, but natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel available for power generation today." Later she would say, "I want to defend repairing and building the pipelines we need to fuel our economy. I want to defend fracking... I want to defend this stuff." And, "So, you know, Bernie Sanders is getting lots of support from the most radical environmentalists because he's out there every day bashing the Keystone pipeline," Clinton said. "And, you know, I'm not into it for that." And, of environmentalists, "They (environmentalists) come to my rallies and they yell at me and, you know, all the rest of it. They say, 'Will you promise never to take any fossil fuels out of the earth ever again?' No. I won't promise that. Get a life, you know."
And, let's talk about Hillary's commitment to the Standing Rock Sioux and their family of tireless supporters who did not wish to see yet more sacred land stolen and forever soiled by a depraved oil and gas cartel. Actually, we can't talk about it, because Hillary didn't seem to have too many things to say other than her inane and offensive proclamation, "It's important that on the ground in North Dakota, everyone respects demonstrators' rights to protest peacefully, and workers' rights to do their jobs safely." In other words, "I like oil and gas people, because I like how they pay for my airplane, and my meals, and my speeches, but I also like other people like those American Indian people, even though they could never afford to pay me for motivational speeches like my friends on Wall Street." This tragic-irony came to an unconscionable head on her very own website where she pledged to...
"Protect Tribal Assets and Resources and Resolve Long-standing Disputes: Hillary will continue to work with tribes to settle litigation over breach of trust and mismanagement claims over trust assets and natural resources and to resolve other long-standing disputes. She will ensure that the Department of the Interior and Environmental Protection Agency work collaboratively with tribes and Alaska Native communities to sustainably and cooperatively manage fish and wildlife and protect the air, water, and other natural resources in Indian Country. And Hillary will continue to stand for Tribal sovereignty and in support of Tribal resources and sacred sites."
Hillary's smackdown of those "get a life" environmentalists and her reticence over the Dakota pipeline debacle and her flip-flop on the Keystone Pipeline ultimately reached critical mass. She and her crack team scrambled for a way to make it all disappear. The answer became crystal clear: call an old acquaintance by the name of Mr. Gore - a Nobel winner and a name brand synonymous with planet protection. Gore had never been rah-rah for Hillary. Their relationship was strained for decades due to the Clinton's dismissal of his counsel through their one scandal after another. But all these years later, faced with the potential of earth taking a speed-of-sound nosedive under a Trump presidency, Gore had little choice but to join his former rival on the campaign trail to shore up her withering environmental muscle. In other words, theatrical buffoonery at its finest.
And, yes... This is America: The Reality (Shit-)Show.
As Clinton campaign chief, John Podesta, said in a leaked email, "The Clintons won't forget what their friends have done for them." They sure won't. In 2011, Secretary of State Clinton launched the not widely known Bureau of Energy Resources, a robust government arm with a multimillion-dollar budget and relationships with oil and gas executives who weren't shy about contributing to her political campaigns and Obama's. The Intercept, enumerated how the recently hacked "emails show consistent, repeated efforts by the Clinton campaign to collaborate with Super PACs on strategy, research, attacks on political adversaries and fundraising" and the fact that "political candidates are closely coordinating with friendly Super PACs — making a mockery of a central tenet of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision — is one of the biggest open secrets in Washington."
Of the top 20 donors to Hillary's campaign, six were abhorrent finance giants (JP Morgan is #3, Citigroup #4, Goldman Sachs #5) that Clinton vowed to send to their rooms without supper when she became POTUS (uh huh, right). Five were behemoth law firms because of their bottomless pockets and "because they have an interest in building a relationship not only for their own interests but probably more representing their clients and cultivating it on their behalf, ” said political law attorney, Matthew Sanderson. And the rest comprisedthe likes of little known startups such as Microsoft, Time Warner and National Amusements who do whatever they can to blur antitrust lines, safeguard their safety deposit boxes and sustain their ability to step on the throats of ill-fated contenders.
Hillary's top donors to Priorities USA Action, her super-duper-charged Super PAC, clearly had the interests of the average American in mind. For instance, hedge funder, S. Donald Sussman, sold a portion of his finance operations to JP Morgan Chase but still ran that portfolio while actively sleeping in high finance beds here and abroad. And speaking of abroad, he has been tied to offshore tax havens used by the wealthiest of the wealthiest to shield their assets. After all, why should barons like Sussman have to suffer like middle class citizens? He needs to protect every penny to afford basic necessities, like the $27 million dollar, 20,000 square foot Floridian estate he purchased not long ago, just enough room for his family of four. Oh, and the $8 million he paid for the house next door to knock down and build a sculpture garden. George Soros, Chairman of Soros Fund Management, is the 19th richest person in the world. He adores triggering and profiteering by manipulating currencies worldwide, primarily illustrated by his pivotal role in the UK's Black Wednesday implosion. Dubbed an "economic war criminal” and “the man who broke the Bank of England,” he was also convicted of insider trading. But as it goes with filthy rich white men, Soros will never see the inside of a prison cell like those terrible drug offenders of the Clinton era. Instead, his punishment consisted of emerging from retirement at age 85 to grab serious cash by liquidating certain existing assets, leveraging bets on troubled banks and betting big on booming gold. James Simons helmed one of the world's most successful hedge fund companies. With a net worth of just below $17 billion, Simons is a living, breathing brainiac. An MIT grad, inventor and code-breaker, he leveraged his mad math skills to make precise predictions on price fluctuations of financial instruments and their markets. Simons used those same skills to "avoid paying more than $6 billion in taxes by disguising its day-to-day stock trades as long term investments,” said Sen. John McCain (incidentally no stranger himself to bank fraud). Senator Carl Levin said, “Two banks and a handful of hedge funds developed a complex financial structure to engage in highly profitable trades while claiming an unjustified lower tax rate and avoiding limits on trading with borrowed money.” As far as the list of Priorities USA proprietors goes, those three were just the tip of a titanic iceberg.
There is little doubt Hillary loved a good fight. "Fight" meaning other people fighting her battles for her using guns and tanks and ships and drones. Her decisions, her votes have led to the mass suffering of her supposedly beloved women and children. “I was one who supported giving President Bush the authority, if necessary, to use force against Saddam Hussein. I believe that that was the right vote... I stand by the vote.” Her half-hearted regrets since voting for the Iraq war are hardly enough to reverse the deadly effects of poor judgment. A senior U.N. official estimated that half of a million children under five died in Iraq from U.N. sanctions she promoted. She "urged [Bill] to bomb Serbia" in 1999 causing the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians. She championed the assault on Libya under the pretense of Gaddafi's war crimes, though motives for his ouster have come under great scrutiny once it was revealed that Libya planned to create a gold-backed currency to compete with the euro and dollar. In the wake of the U.S.-led assault and Clinton's very public clapping and cheering after Gaddafi's death, tens of thousands of Libyan citizens have since been tortured, raped and murdered. And though Benghazi was not an event whose bloody outcome was nearly hers alone to bear, a lack of smoking gun, by no means, excuses her from a very clear lack of oversight as SOS and one who fiercely drove U.S. intervention on Libyan soil. And then there is her attachment to regime change in Honduras resulting in violence beyond comprehension. And her push to arm Syrian rebels against Obama's command. And her push for the Afghan surge. And her Israel-first-and-only collusion with Netanyahu. And her push for redeployment of troops into Iraq. And even maneuvers such as the $12 million donation from the Moroccan government to her Foundation (CGI) even as her State Department considered such a government corrupt. And her unfathomable use of 13 mobile devices to access her email account, none of which could be located for inspection over concerns of classified breaches.
And then, of course, there's her flip-flop on gay marriage and her flip-flop on single payer healthcare and her flip-flop on public schools and charter schools and her flip-flop on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and her flip-flop on the North American Free Trade Agreement and her flip-flop on nuclear energy and her flip-flop on immigration and her flip flop on criminal justice and her flip-flop on raising the debt limit and her flip-flop on raising payroll taxes and her flip-flop on an embargo on Cuba and her flip-flop on ethanol mandates and her flip-flop on... oh, forget it already.
And though Hillary and her team claimed foul play when it came to media coverage of her, those hacked emails illustrated how far this is from the truth. Cozy relationships with such media have, for years, enabled her staffers to plant stories that shape and elevate the HRC brand. Hell, the chair of the DNC, avid Clintonian, and longtime CNN pundit, Donna Brazile, spoon-fed Clinton questions to a CNN town hall and CNN debate.
And, yes... That is America: The Reality (Shit-)Show.
In Clintonland, truths are fluid. Somehow, she is excused because she is a woman or just because. Like her laughable lie of being under Sniper fire at a Bosnian airport or her claim that all four of her grandparents are immigrants as she pandered to Latinos, or her lies about being energy independent for the first time ever or her lies that she "never received nor sent anything that was marked classified" from her personal email server or her lies that every piece of legislation that she introduced had a Republican co-sponsor or her lies that she "started criticizing the war in Iraq before Obama," and the list goes on and on like Barry Manilow's plastic surgery.
Her serial liar nemesis, Mr. Trump, is the kingpin of what The Economist calls post-truth politics. As long as you can sell it you can survive it. Truths are literally trumped up charges to steamroll facts with feelings. Like the preposterous assertion of election rigging. Put it out there, and it becomes zeitgeist, no matter how absurd the pronouncement. But just how absurd is that pronouncement? What U.S. presidential politician would ever believe in exacting such a thing?
"I do not think that we should have pushed for an election in the Palestine territories. I think that was a big mistake. And if we're going to push for an election, then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win."
This nifty blurb was caught on tape at a meeting with the editorial board of New York's Jewish Press 10 years ago. The then Senator who made this heinous statement goes by the name of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Unless this tape is proved fake, and there is no indication that it is, Hillary Clinton clearly believed that she had the right to define and manipulate democracies, home or abroad, as it best suited her, not as our founding fathers prescribed.
So, maybe Trump was right. The election was rigged. It's rigged because Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were their party's candidates. Clinton had the DNC in its pocket, and Sanders paid the price. Trump had angry white males and white ultra-conservative females in his pocket and 16 other RNC candidates paid the price. And the nation. And the world.
The majority of Americans drive with their hands off the wheel. Slightly more than half of us vote each cycle. Could we imagine if half us turned off our TVs for good? Or half of us showed up to work? Or half of us chose not to pay our taxes or utility bills? Or half of us decided to drop out of the military? Or half of us decided to find some other country to call home?
But as it goes, we continue to empower anyone inside the Beltway and anyone on the top floors of ivory towers and anyone striking gold in reality TV, even though such empowerment leads to more and more induced earthquakes. If we are the system, we have failed it. We have rigged it. Voting has become an obligation instead of a passion, a lack of investment in ourselves, a commitment to complacency. Politics is entertainment fodder staged as reality TV by a wholly compromised mass media syndicate. We have handed over the keys to our houses and our cars and our offices and our bank accounts. We have taken the path toward irrelevance. Or as Gore Vidal says,