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Consent of the Governed

Fox’s Steve Hilton will tell you that Trump is valiantly fighting elitism from within his own White House, finally getting rid of the swamp creatures (no, not Ryan Zinke, or 81-year old Wilbur Ross, currently missing from the G20, they’re not elites!) folks like Gary Cohn, H.R. McMaster and Rex Tillerson and the other elitists that have finally been rooted out (as RINOs). Unlike Steve Hilton, he’s a real, average Republican. His story is the American dream, so get the fuck out of the way. More the British dream, actually, but who’s keeping score, observing that Steve grew up just outside of London. His family fled Hungary after the 1956 Revolt and they landed comfortably just outside Heathrow airport, the very place they would find employment. Steve didn’t have a father in the house after the age of five, however, but his dad was a professional hockey player, so he wasn’t exactly living hand to mouth. Educated in London, Hilton went to Stanford University and then went to work for David Cameron of the Conservative Party of Britain, one of the most singularly elite men on the planet Earth. No elitist himself, Hilton worked very hard and has amassed over $4 million for his considerable effort, according to wikinetworth.com. A dedicated public servant in government for most of his illustrious career, he proves that anybody can be successful and rich, as long as they’re not some snooty elitist (while being the godparent of a Prime Minister’s eldest child). I believe I’ve worked just as hard as Steve, perhaps not as intelligently or ‘non-elitely,’ and yet I have significantly less than $4 million in my bank account, so this ‘elite’ thing hasn’t paid off as well for me, so maybe Steve actually has a point. Make sure to visit the Millenial’s coolest place to fund their favorite candidates (and Steve’s BIG money maker) Crowdpac!

Another guy who likes to have other people ‘pull themselves up by their boot straps’ (born into wealth) is Donald Trump. His anti-elitism has catapulted him into the White House with a populist message that’s been laser-focused on anti-elitism. John Dewey and Walter Lippmann wrote a lot on the subject, if anyone would care read one of these great writer’s books, where after World War I, journalism was left in a quandary: is democracy even worth defending? Does journalism really have a part to play in a functional democracy? Lippmann was criticized heavily for his advice to FDR during WWII (particularly the position that the president may be required to attain some dictatorial powers) and Lippmann was called both a conservative and a socialist, hence one of the most misunderstood, powerfully intelligent writers in American history. John Dewey recognized the clarity of Lippman’s 1922 book Public Opinion and in Dewey’s follow up, The Public and its Problems in 1927, he set the record straight. Lippmann’s elitism didn’t make him anti-democratic instead, he was a subtle expert on how to integrate knowledge into a functioning democracy. A believer in ‘pragmatic conservatism,’ he saw the radical tendencies on both the left and the right as a threat to democracy and trusted in certain ‘elites’ who would draw on history and hard-won experience to pass sensible, progressive reforms in response to an ever changing world. If anything, Walter Lippmann simplified the debate over elitism, where he openly advocated for elitists, the ‘illuminati’ for conspiracy folks (and Steve Hilton) to lead the ‘dumb’ herd of public opinion around because they just can’t figure it out for themselves. John Dewey took a more nuanced approach, a moral philosopher, more ‘democratic’ (as John Dewey, the huggable humanist, would be) and he says emphatically that only individuals act – not groups or ‘the public in general.’ “It is between persons in their private and their official representative character,” which makes for any ‘public’ he wrote. Both Lippmann and Dewey recognized that information technology would ignite populist movements (among populations) unprepared for the onslaught of advertisers, hackers and PR firms in tow. Dewey’s solution, unsurprisingly, is education and democracy, with a healthy dose of skepticism:

Opinion casually formed, and formed under the direction of those who have something at stake in having a lie believed can be public opinion only in name. Calling it by this name, acceptance of the name as a kind of warrant magnifies its capacity to lead action astray. The more who share it, the more injurious its influence. 

The Dewey-Lippmann debate, as it was named, was renewed after the ‘low point’ of the Bush-Dukakis race and the ‘Willie Horton-ization’ of electoral politics, brought to us by folks like Lee Atwater, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone. As we mourn the passing of the mountain of a man, George H.W. Bush, we mustn’t forget that it was the Bush operation that introduced us to the distasteful trend in politics that Lippmann and Dewey forewarned, delivered to us in spades by Fox News and now the Saudi and Russian governments. What Fox News has done to this country is what John Dewey and Walter Lippmann knew would reflect the lowest common denominator of what we might finally call a ‘public opinion.’ Perhaps our citizenry is so dumbed down that even the simplest idea (what is an elitist?) is totally lost on us, yet with all of my elitism, I can barely afford to pay the rent. Because I’m ‘urban’ and went to school, I’m automatically elite to people like Donald Trump, Steve Hilton and the gang at Fox News. Trump hates me — because I’m a Democrat, of course — and because I want my country to resemble the model country of Venezuela, you understand. What passes for argument with the Fox News crowd is really always more comparison — look, they do it too! Everybody does it! And that’s Trump’s favorite theme, that we’re all a bunch of corrupt assholes after all, (aren’t we)? Stop with all the bullshit. Human nature. Blah blah. Steve Hilton and Fox News are the ultimate sort of hucksters of virtue who would back a man like Donald Trump for president simply because he calls himself a Republican, while labeling his opponents elitists because they believe in little things like facts and the truth. With the consumer, it’s buyer beware and we’ve always known that about Trump, but Fox News and the Republican Party, this bunch of pitch men and women for Trumpism, packaged this treasonous criminal as some sort of American CEO superhero. Buy Trump! Fox and Hilton, however, are the personification of Walter Lippmann’s ‘elitist’ badge here, pointing the finger at other elites as Dewey had predicted. It’s all so reminiscent of Donald Trump’s assault on Palm Beach in the 1980’s —  look at all those anti-Semites and racists! I’m not like them! The long con, however, is that of course Trump is racist (thank you Omorosa), and anti-Semitic (thank you Gary Cohn) and a complete and total (habitual) corrupt liar.

The real elitists are the ones who fool you into thinking they’re not elite and at least Walter Lippmann had the intellectual honesty to admit it. Democrat John Kerry and Republican Mitt Romney stand accused of that charge, yet Barack Obama and John Kasich, however, cannot. Most of us hate hypocrisy in any political stripe, but hypocrisy at the expense of reason, and more so at the expense of our own best interests, should mean that the governed must consent only to the ‘best practices’ in Washington, D.C. No shitting around. If Bernie Sanders had been elected president (and if I voted for him) I would probably feel like what a Trump voter feels like today. I wasn’t a Bernie guy during the nomination because I couldn’t understand how the hell he got there in the first place. Sure, we all date the troublemakers before we end up with the goody-two-shoes, but Bernie’s numbers were way out of line. The Democratic Party did what the Republican Party was unable to do and marginalized the extreme base and that’s how American Democracy is supposed to work. Democrat Henry Wallace found that out the hard way, no matter how much Oliver Stone wants to cry about it, and today’s Democratic Party is one and the same. The GOP has been hoodwinked by a casino boss, where the Republican part of the Democratic–Republican rift once represented a ‘republic,’ (or a parliament) where the ‘elite’ govern, you would think it would be the Democrats that would’ve allowed the ‘honest, folksy’ populist to take over the party, but here it was the Republicans who allowed Trump to manhandle middle America into accepting this charlatan, while the Democrats still have Nancy Pelosi in charge. See! In fact, we should’ve had our first female president, where Hillary paid the political price required and was fully vetted — and yet a lingering depression of the thought of a new ‘Clinton era’ — prevented most from being wholeheartedly supportive of her candidacy. Hillary Clinton, as an American politician, is about as good as it gets for us small ‘d’ democrats and after His Excellency, Barack Hussein Obama saved our asses in 2008, she deserved a shot. Oh well. During Trump’s presidency, I’ve never been more proud to be a Democrat since I signed on to the bleeding hearts more than thirty years ago. 

John Underhill
December 1, 2018

Watch Out Now

Loose Lips
On November 6th, America returned the Democrats to House leadership, yet the Senate remains in the grip of the Republican Party after Donald Trump called Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum a ‘Thief’ and also sent the military into The South to save fearful Texans, à la The Alamo, from 1,500 or so itinerant migrants now chilling somewhere near Cancún. Before all the votes are counted and Jerry Nadler has a chance to choose his (oversize) House Judiciary chair, Donald Trump fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replaced him with a guy named Matt Whitaker. This guy, the new Attorney General or ‘Top Cop,’  was last seen as a CNN analyst posting an op-ed, Mueller’s Investigation of Trump is Going Too Far. Whitaker, who Trump apparently never met (or did, or didn’t?) once prosecuted an eagle-scout Democratic State Senator in Des Moines, Iowa named Matt McCoy (now a County Commissioner) because McCoy ‘extorted’ $2,000, over two long years, from some poor victim. It turns out that the two grand was a legitimate bill for services rendered, which the client had disputed. For this, McCoy was read The Hobbs Act, but really, he was railroaded into an unjust prosecution — which has taken McCoy over ten years to repay legal fees — and oh yeah,  Mr. McCoy, without a hint of scandal in over twenty years of public service, is also gay. In fact he was the first openly gay member of the Iowa Legislature. After going after the gay Democrat, Whitaker left the Justice Department and began working as a consultant for a phony company that bilked dozens of suckers out of $26 million of their hard-earned money. This is the man who Donald Trump picked to run the Justice Department –a hatchet man.

In October, the Boston Red Sox defeated the New York Yankees, Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers to win the World Series, so… the Yankees suck! When I wrote last year that the Yankees were cursed by the Trumpino, I wanted to point out that Trump was a phony Yankees fan and also a phony president (emoji here of dropping mike). Sometimes what I want to write about comes out very different by the time the article is finished and in that post, I lost my original idea and went off on a tangent, as my mother used to accuse me and brought in some history involving Trump’s political mentors Roy Cohn and Roger Stone. This month I have to restrain myself from going after how Trump is distracting us with an absolute disgrace of an Acting Attorney General, to be followed with an equally disgraceful nominee, because Donald Trump is an outright criminal. He knows full well how guilty he is and the only thing he can do, now that the House is in the hands of the Democrats, is to break the government to save his ass.

Writing is an act of discovery and when I write something I always try and verify my claims and give the reader a link to my sources. In doing research, I’m often confronted with additional facts that either help or hurt my original idea and in following up, I always learn more. When I learn more, I make additional changes to my original thoughts and in the end, it is what it is. Last month’s post, Pretenders to the Throne, is a typical example of my going off on a tangent and in the end, I had nothing really meaningful to say about the candidacy of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Knowing this, I went after his drinking and the fact that he’s an Irish Catholic (anyone else think it’s weird that 66.66% of the Supreme Court is Catholic?) I also plugged in a few thoughts about my favorite film director, Martin Scorsese. That’s my crutch. I love movies and I’m always thinking, “Hey, they made a movie about that.” I also love history and I’m always thinking, “Hey, that happened already.” With the past prologue and art imitating life, I’ve got a post for anything. This month, I’ve been thinking a lot about two movies, Oliver Stone and Eric Begosian’s Talk Radio (1988) and Terry Gilliam’s The Fisher King (1991). I’ve also been thinking a lot about the history of Italy, for some reason, so let’s see if I can avoid that nasty subtangent.

The movies I mention are similar in one way: the film’s protagonist is a ‘shock jock.’ In the 1970’s and ’80’s, disc jockeys or DJs were gaining popularity in local markets across the nation as personalities like Howard Stern and Don Imus were decidedly not ‘politically correct’ (aka kind and considerate) to listeners. In Denver, Alan Berg was typical of these shock DJs only here, Berg approached issues from the left as opposed to the vast majority of shock jock DJs, who were on the right end of the political spectrum, such as Glenn Beck, Art Bell, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. Berg was murdered by a listener in 1984 and this story formed the theme to Begosian’s brilliant play on which the film was based. Director Oliver Stone sought to recreate the paranoia and isolation of talk radio and together they made one of the best films about public discourse ever made. The other film I remember about loose talk, The Fisher King, is based on an Arthurian legend of a hobbled king where the brilliant director Terry Gilliam updated the story to modern New York (made in 1990, the film seems far from modern today). Gilliam cast his hero as a DJ and the film opens with everyone’s favorite actor Jeff Bridges as Jack Lucas, an irascible shock jock-style DJ who dares listeners to rise up and strike back against the ‘beautiful people.’ He inadvertently inspires a listener to kill innocent victims at a trendy restaurant and this murderous act pushes Bridges’ character Jack into a spiral of despair, least of which is caused by the loss of his job. The film explores Jack’s road to redemption, told through a coincidental connection with a homeless person played by Robin Williams in one of his finest performances. Terry Gilliam’s Pythonesque touch is shown in the nightmarish visions of  Williams’ character ‘Parry’ — his wife was killed in the very same senseless act of violence that Jack inspired. In Jack’s confrontation with the homeless man obsessed with finding the Holy Grail, they both find healing through the magic of kismet (or fate). Responsibility and repentance are at the heart of the film’s message, where Jack appreciates the gift of redemption offered to him and accepts his penance.

The same dynamic is on display with Donald Trump bemoaning the blame he gets after every mass casualty tragedy that has taken place since he was elected president. The difference is that Trump refuses to accept any responsibility (as the leader of a great nation), yet he’s really not even qualified to be a shock jock. In Talk Radio, the true story of Alan Berg’s murder,  the real danger of loose talk — that nutcases really believe it — directly resulted in Berg’s murder. He was killed by a Klansman (who died in jail in 2008) because he thought Berg was a smart-mouthed Jew. Freedom of speech is one thing, but when you intentionally try to incite crazy people, bad things happen. Just prior his murder, Berg said in a Rolling Stone article,

I’m angrier than anyone who calls my show. Anger is one of the greatest motivators in the world. Rage destroys.

How right he was. Anger and hatred that’s verbalized and acted out often defies logic — it’s all about destruction — and that’s it. America’s most recent atrocity, where eleven innocent people were murdered in a restaurant by a gunman who posted (live) on Instagram that the reason for committing the mass murder was simply boredom (amorality?) and that’s far more often a motivator than a specific grievance, such as the anti-Semitic murders committed in Pittsburgh in our last atrocity. We have so many mass murders in America now that they’re almost commonplace, where just last year, the unimaginable number of 58 innocent people were killed in Las Vegas in the largest mass murder in US history because, it seems, the killer was also just bored. What has happened to us?

In 1988, I traveled to Europe and visited the beautiful country of Italy, staying in Bologna, Milan and Rome. Little did I realize as I was traveling through the country that it was the end of what became known as the ‘Years of Lead.’ I was just a dumb, Eurailpass-toting student, landing in London at Gatwick and returning from Schiphol in Amsterdam, but Italy took up the bulk of my vacation. I remember being shocked at how you could buy a beer at a McDonald’s (!) and I was also surprised about Italy’s embrace of communism, especially in Bologna, home of the oldest university in Europe. Called the “Keynote Communist City,’ I noticed street signs outside the train station directing visitors to Stalingrad and Lenin Avenues and to the the statues of Engels and Marx. Bologna is in Northern Italy and it’s the spiritual home of the Etruscans, and the surrounding region of Emilia‐Romagna has been a bulwark of communism since the end of World War II, where in Italy, communism has always had an Italian accent. Benito Mussolini once said,

Here in Italy Socialism was a unifying factor. All Italian historians have recognized this. The Socialists of Italy were advocates of one idea and of one nation. From 1892, when they cut adrift from the anarchists at the Congress of Genoa, down till 1911, they battled for on behalf of a united Italy.

On August 2, 1980, fifty pounds of TNT detonated in a suitcase at the Bologna Train Station, killing 85 innocent people. No one has ever claimed responsibility for the atrocity and in 1995, an Italian government investigation into the bombing concluded that neo-fascist organization ‘Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari‘ or NAR was responsible. The NAR maintained close links with the Banda della Magliana, a Rome-based criminal organization that was more closely associated with the ‘black hand’ than the ‘black shirt.’ They started in 1985 in Rome’s violent Magliana district and allied with known mafioso La Cosa Nostra, Camorra and ‘Ndrangheta for control of Italy’s criminal underworld. Two years before the Bologna Train Station Massacre, the President of Italy, Aldo Moro, was kidnapped and murdered by the so-called Red Brigades or ‘Brigades Rossi’ (BR) of Italy — a coalition of communist organizations that were supported by a shady network of Soviet-funded terror under the control of Moscow. After Moro was murdered, most of the BR assassins were rooted out and arrested and the rest went into hiding. These brazen attacks on the citizens of Italy, culminating with the murder of the President (supposedly by left-wing terrorists) provoked a political backlash that has resulted in conservative governments that Italy has enjoyed since.

Five policeman were killed at the time Moro was kidnapped and his lifeless body was unceremoniously dumped halfway between the headquarters of the Christian Democrat Party (Moro’s political party) and the Communist Party of Italy. Moro was attempting to broker a truce between communists and center-left democrats in Italy when he was murdered — just after his ‘historic compromise’ was proposed. Years later, a man named Licio Gelli, Grandmaster of the Freemason Lodge Propaganda Due (P2), along with a secret military organization called Gladio, (Operation Gladio or sword, a CIA-backed, NATO-affiliated anti-communist organization) were revealed to be involved in a so-called ‘strategy of tension’ during the Years of Lead. After WWII, at the outset of the Cold War, it looked like the Soviet Union was attempting to continue the world war when Gladio was hastily arranged and stashes of hundreds of pounds of TNT and guns were secreted away in various countries throughout Europe in the hopes that they would provide tools for an insurrection against any future communist aggression. As the Cold War entered it’s fourth decade, many of these secret organizations began to, shall we say, improvise on their own. With all this TNT and a network of paid-off politicians, police and papparazzi, the Italian flair for drama was center stage after the hot summer of 1969 and the powder keg was ready to blow.

The first person who died in the Years of Lead was Italian policeman Antonio Annarumma, killed during a left-wing protest march, hit by a ‘tube’ during the melee. The police car he was driving crashed into another police car on the way to the hospital where he died, sparking the outrage that led to the ten-year terror campaign. The Piazza Fontana Bombing in Milan struck the national bank in December, 1969, where seventeen innocent Italians were killed, then the Piazza Loggia bombing killed eight and wounded over 100 during an anti-fascist gathering in Lombardy in 1974. Here we have the introduction of the Ordine Nuovo, or ‘New Order’ of Italy (officially dissolved by the Italian government in 1973) which sought to reestablish fascism in Italy and they became the most powerful far-right organization in the post-war Italian republic. Licio Gelli, Mario Tuti and the P2 were behind the next atrocity, however, in August of 1974, when the Italicus Express Train Bombing occurred in a tunnel under the Apennines Mountains near Florence, which resulted in the deaths of twelve innocent passengers.

I wanted to find out what happened to these terrorists and the assassins of the Italian President and it turns out that most are still alive and well — let out of jail in the early 1990’s. Mario Moretti, the ‘brain trust’ behind the kidnapping and assassination of Moro, was released from federal prison in 1998. He still must appear nights and weekends at his local jail in Milan for his misdeeds, however. It seemed that all through the 1970’s and 1980’s, the Italian government was besieged by endless provocations from leftist terrorist organizations and when the government finally attempted to figure out where the hell all that TNT came from, the Gladio network, tied up with right wing terror groups and the mafia were exposed as the true culprits — not the commies. CIA sacred cow, Director William Colby himself admitted US involvement in the network but disavowed any knowledge of the shenanigans in the 70’s (under his watch) yet when mafia involvement was exposed in the terror plots the ‘shit hit the fan.’ The Train 904 Bombing was tied to the mob by pentito (informant) Tommy Bruscetta and when the mafia tried to get the Italian authorities off their case, they went all the way to the mattress makers. The Corleonese family, the ‘family of families’ in Sicily in which Francis Ford Coppola based his epic The Godfather films were implicated during the Maxi Trial in 1986, where Corleonesi boss Salvatore Riina had decimated all the other mafia families, resulting in hundreds of murders, including many high-profile killings such as Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, head of counter-terrorism, who had arrested the Red Brigades founders in 1974. Italian Magistrates Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino would deliver a deadly, legal blow to the mafia in Sicily, for which they would later pay with their lives in one of the most brazen attacks on civil order in history. Before that, in 1988, Falcone collaborated with Rudy Giuliani, at the time U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York in proceedings against the powerful Gambino and Inzerillo families in New York. When Falcone returned to Sicily, he was one of the most marked men in the world and his luck ran out in 1992 at the horrific Capaci Bombing, which killed Falcone, his wife and three police escorts. Borsellino was killed shortly thereafter and a terrified nation finally capitulated after a blatant attack on the Italian people at the treasured Uffizi Gallery after the Via dei Georgofili Bombing in Florence claimed five lives and countless masterpieces in the ancient museum.

In one of the few recollections of terrorism prior to 9/11, I remember Sylvester Stallone starred in the movie Nighthawks (1981) where he faced off against the terrorist Heymar Reinhardt (alias Wulfgar) played by the fantastic Rutger Hauer, whose character was loosely based on the leftist terrorist Carlos the Jackal in the 70’s. The Jackal was part of a network of Soviet-funded terrorists that used to get together for regular board meetings and family outings, it seemed. Highlighted by the Lod Airport Massacre in Israel by the Red Army of Japan, Soviet-funded terror organizations were gaining an upper hand against liberal democracies across the world. In Stallone’s film, Wolfgar was a cold-blooded killer, a ‘gun for hire’ without a job. He figured the best way to advertise himself was to commit a terrorist act to show off his skills to any prospective terrorist employers. Sly hunts him down and slays his enemy in a high-stakes showdown perched above the Roosevelt Island tram holding a group of kidnapped tourists. This is how I remembered the various terrorist organizations from the 70s – Socialist, extremist and soulless. Watch out now. Here it seems that I’ve reached a tangent. I’m going to shut it down now, even though I want to get all up into Operation Condor, Henry Kissinger and the Italian connection led by Ordine Nuovo leader Stefano Delle Chiaie. Too late for that, you say?

John Underhill
November 13, 2018

Pretenders to the Throne

With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s announcement that the vote on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court will take place tomorrow, I have to remark to myself how far we’ve come as a nation. It seems like just yesterday in American history that anti-Catholic bias and ‘Irish Need Not Apply’ was the norm. When Donald Trump’s daddy Fred Trump was arrested at a Klu Klux Klan Rally on Memorial Day, 1927, the organizing leaflet that was passed around in Jamaica, Queens beforehand warned that “Native-born Protestant Americans” were being “assaulted by Roman Catholic police of New York City.” “Liberty and Democracy have been trampled upon,” it continued, “when native-born Protestant Americans dare to organize to protect one flag, the American flag; one school, the public school; and one language, the English language.” We’ve come a long way. Today, even being an angry, drunk Irish-Catholic isn’t disqualifying for a seat on the highest court in the land.

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The Fifth Columnist

Guernica

There’s an old saying in politics that when your opponent is burying themselves, stay the hell out of the way – if anything, hand them a shovel. As our president has been writing his political epitaph this summer, I’ve been reading a lot of books and working on my tan, yet I’ve been roused from my torpor by another stupid outrage by our So-Called President* – the half-staff / full-staff / half-staff bullshit that took place after the death of John McCain – yet another example of how Trump is utterly unsuited for leadership. Senator John McCain died facing down cancer like all adversity in life, with honor, dignity and courage. John McCain was, by any calculation, an American hero and Donald Trump’s pettiness is only heightened in contrast to this great man’s service to Country. McCain quoted his hero in his autobiography written with Mark Salter, The Restless Wave: Good Times, Just Causes, Great Fights and Other Appreciations (2018) where the only man who could live up to this hero’s life was a fictional character:

‘The world is a fine place and worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it,’ spoke my hero, Robert Jordan, in [Ernest Hemingway’s] ‘For Whom the Bell Tolls.‘ And I do, too. I hate to leave it. But I don’t have a complaint. Not one. It’s been quite a ride. I’ve known great passions, seen amazing wonders, fought in a war, and helped make a peace. I’ve lived very well and I’ve been deprived of all comforts. I’ve been as lonely as a person can be and I’ve enjoyed the company of heroes.

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Cincinnatus Shrugged

Cincinato_abandona_el_arado_para_dictar_leyes_a_Roma,_c.1806_de_Juan_Antonio_Ribera (2)

Artist: Juan Antonio Ribera, 1806

The absolute batshit-crazy lurch to the right in this country with the election of Donald Trump in 2016 set my hair on fire (scroll blog for reference) and since that time I just can’t seem to stop complaining about THE DONALD. My fear is that his dumb, red hat wearing minions will go down the slippery slope of stupidity with him (see the creepy Mark Meadows, Tom Cotton or Devin Nunes for reference) toward outright anarchy – in what we might best describe as ‘mobocracy.’ With the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper’s assessment that the Russians swung the election in 2016 to Trump, I have to remind myself that these intelligence folks usually have their hair on fire more than I do – and Clapper is totally bald. I have a full, luxurious head of hair so I’m trying not to panic and begin building a bomb shelter, but Trump’s latest fumble on the international stage, with Kim Jong-untrustworthy in charge, has got me drawing up escape routes, just for fun!

Looking back on the last election, it struck me as strange that the Democrats were holding off an aging, grumpy Socialist from Vermont from upstaging standard-bearer and front-runner, Hillary Clinton. To this day, I can’t figure out how Bernie got so many damned votes. Isn’t it entirely plausible to believe that the coordinated Russian, Saudi and Emirates attack on our election had some effect on the Democratic nomination outcome? Isn’t it also strange that certifiable idiot Donald Trump beat out the best the Republicans had to offer after eight, long years of ‘Obamacare’ during the nomination process? If Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina and the dozen or so other serious Republican contenders in the 2016 election don’t realize that they were compromised in the same way the entire country was compromised just a few short months later, then maybe they’re just a big bunch of idiots as well, but we all knew that – except for John Kasich of Ohio (maybe)?

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Cheaters Never Prosper

Treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason?
For if it prosper, none dare call it Treason.

– Sir John Harington, 1618

 

I almost reactivated my Facebook account this week, after Mark Zuckerberg finally admitted that his company was actually in the business of eavesdropping. After the beautiful London Observer piece highlighting Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix caught on video selling his company’s wares (blackmail, ratfucking, extortion, racketeering and money laundering), the same employer of ‘Sloppy’ Steve Bannon (then running the American branch) I really wanted to write that I’d actually reactivated my account after Zuck went on CNN and finally admitted that his company took blood money. This week’s announcement that Facebook was cutting ties with data mining companies is a sign that I might just come back. Zuckerberg said that he wants to be proud of his company going forward because he has two daughters now, as opposed to before when he was an asshole Harvard hacker who cared about nothing except making lots of money.

When I first became aware of Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook, one fact stood out for me above all others: Zuckerberg was a hacker. Hacker culture is what the internet was all about back in the early days, and tech titans Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were no exception. In screenwriter Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network (2010), Zuckerberg, Saverin and the Winklevoss brothers were portrayed as savvy hackers without much going on in the way of morals. I suspect the dark score and lighting in the film lends a hint that it was much worse than that. Born as ‘Facesmash’ as a prank by the merry Zuck against his fellow students at Harvard – stealing their identities (or head shots) from the easily hackable Harvard Yearbook Publications computer, a student-run server hosting the earliest editions of the ubiquitous Freshman Register, known by everyone in the first year as ‘The Facebook.’ I’ve always cast a jaundiced eye at those who would just as soon steal your data as look at you. These hacker dweebs, many with tape firmly affixed on glasses, proudly displaying gleaming breast pocket organizers and bad skin are now worth millions. Many of those weenies from the old high school computer club could buy and sell their high schools many times over and some even contribute millions to alumni organizations and philanthropic endeavors, yet most are still just like Martin Shkreli, only nerdier.

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Satchel Sinatra Sings the Blues

The Grand Tour

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Last year’s bombshell New York Times article by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey may have initiated the #MeToo movement, but the momentum really gained steam after Ronan Farrow’s excellent back-to-back, in-depth reports in the New Yorker detailing Harvey Weinstein’s use of private detectives to harass and discredit his accusers. Farrow’s investigations add valuable accounts of the Miramax mogul’s scumbag ways, where it seems every day of his professional life, Mr. Weinstein committed some form of sexual harassment. Looking at the cut of Mr. Weinstein, we can guess that this ugly, fat asshole used his power as a Hollywood producer to get laid. In Casablanca, Claude Rains is ‘Shocked, shocked!’ Perhaps the original push behind the #MeToo movement was Donald Trump’s (well recorded) conversation about bush – with Bush – which sparked the up-and-running Pink Parades, either way, sexually abused and harassed victims have finally been given voice. Farrow’s latest article in the New Yorker, Trump, a Playboy Model, and a System for Concealing Infidelity reveals the next woman in the can-can line of Trump mistresses. Here, Farrow outlines how Trump’s friend David J. Pecker, CEO of American Media and publisher of parody newspapers the National Enquirer and the hilarious Weekly World News among others, protected him from damaging allegations during the election. Trump said during his campaign that the supermarket tabloid ‘Does have credibility and should be very respected’ after the Enquirer linked Ted Cruz’ father to the Kennedy Assassination. Inquiring minds want to know! Pecker (middle name Johnson) ‘captured and killed’ this particular Playboy model’s story about her affair with The Donald for $150,000 (about the same time that Stormy Daniels was spanking him with Malcolm Forbes’ masthead), with Pecker explaining recently that it ‘wasn’t believable enough’ – choosing not to publish the accusation back in October, 2016. I guess the Playboy model story should have included a bit about her bat-child, then Pecker may have thought it believable enough to bury somewhere in his mindless rags. This is the same National Enquirer which once ran full-color, front-page headlines complete with images of an innocent young woman named Vera Baker titled ‘Obama Caught in Hotel With This Beauty’ – which Pecker had to pay dearly for in an all-cash settlement. My favorite Weekly World News headline of all time is ‘Famed Psychic’s Head Explodes.’

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President Trump The Proud

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast

One year into Donald Trump’s presidency and one thing is clear, we know Donald John Trump a lot better now. As a nation, we didn’t quite understand how much of a ‘winner’ Donald Trump really could be. Now we know that the President of the United States is a habitual liar about all that ‘winning,’ but of course that’s just more liberal Fake News according to The Donald. We knew that the president wanted to improve relations with Russia, we just didn’t fully understand that he wanted better relations with Russia because Vladimir Putin has video of him with hookers at the Ritz Moscow. Melania Trump may be a very interesting story line in the ongoing American Apprentice reality show, and at tonight’s State of the Union speech, the President may invite up to 24 guests to attend with the First Lady, so let’s see who shows up! Instead of wasting my time watching Trump lie for another hour, I’ll be watching the Jimmy Kimmel show tonight instead. I should’ve figured The Donald would be sunk by something as trivial as a tryst with a porn star, “who are ya goin’ to believe, me or the lyin’ eyes of the Wall Street Journal?” Donald begs Melania on her (separate) bedroom phone in the White House before she hangs up on him. BDSM with a porn star – while your wife is recovering from childbirth – is just modern presidential, Melania. Get used to it, there’s a LOT more where that came from. As Stormy put it, “Ugh. Here We Go…”

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Trump Tailor Soldier Spy

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Whatever the ring of spies that entrapped the Trump Organization ends up being called, this so-called ‘Russian meddling’ plot will have some damned difficult names to pronounce when all is said and done. As former President George W. Bush used to like to do, I suggest a few nicknames to keep track of all these characters, and we’ll start with ‘The Professor,’ Joe Mifsud. He dangled Olga Polonskaya to the Trump dupes, calling her ‘Putin’s niece’ to entice the star fuckers in the Trump ‘brain trust.’ Olga was actually a dupe herself, apparently only Facebook friends with ‘The Professor’ Mifsud – who flew (on a whim!) to New York with Olga to attend a shady meeting at Trump Tower with a bunch of guys in shiny suits. In what the Papadopoulos Complaint described as a ‘Female Russian National’ attending the infamous June, 2016 Trump Tower meeting, The 31-year-old lives in St. Petersburg and apparently graduated from St. Petersburg Polytechnic University. Her Russian Facebook page says she works for a wine import company, but there’s no picture of her, so we can’t see if she looks anything like old Uncle Putin. Also apparently, Olga Vinogradova was her maiden name, and the New York Times has reports that her name is now Polonskaya, so I don’t know what the fuck to think. Let’s call her ‘Olga.’

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Don’t Call It a Comeback

We’ve been here for five years, publishing the first edition of the Newes From America on October 17, 2012. Beginning as a traditional news site, rehashing top stories and writing up celebrity and gossip ‘snacks’ that most web surfers like to read, the work was tedious and boring. When a 20-year old kid confused reality with one of his violent video games, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on December 14, 2012 was the first, big news story that we tried to tackle as an editorial story. We wanted to try and make sense of that insane tragedy, and that led directly to the screed that you see here before you. It was impossible to look at the huge problem of gun violence while being overwhelmed with the many, pressing news stories that crop up every day. The still unexplained horror of Sandy Hook, similar in some ways to the tragedy recently unveiled in Las Vegas, reveals deeper, more fundamental issues that go far beyond the Second Amendment or whether the N.R.A. supports the banning of ‘bump stocks.’ Our society has been manipulated by corporate interests that have made a lot of money tapping into our minds, changing our behavior and attitudes through advertising that fill our most important psychological needs – and define our very personal identity.

With the pages of flattery on this website for our President, Donald Trump, the reader may have the impression that I’m obsessed with him. Since his nomination, little else has concerned me as dozens of non-Trump related stories have gone unwritten. I’m also certain that Trump supporters who read these pages know that I am an asshole liberal who just likes to hear the sound of my own voice. Beyond the fact that my voice is silky smooth, (and I have a face for radio), I have to admit to acute bouts of Lapham’s Disease, even though Harper’s magazine wouldn’t print my (awful) writing with a ten foot pole. That said, the Trump MAGA phenomenon, feeding on violent and salacious stories such as Sandy Hook and Orlando, channeled popular fear and anger to gain power, now it’s Trump who must confront the results of our broken system. Who better, he argued during the election, to ‘drain the swamp’ than one who knows how the (broken) system works. Pushing the Reagan-era mantra of ‘small government,’ with Milton Friedman and Alan Greenspan selling ‘A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats’ to the working class, aspiring to rise to a higher class, was (and is) the deal from Republicans, make it easy to stay rich – and when you get there, you’ll be happy you did! The problem is that 99% of us never get there. As the long odds that most working adults rely on – their weekly state lottery outlay – the hope for a better future is offered at a 1% return on investment, and we voters keep coming back for more.

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