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The Freedom Forum

Granny for Possum Queen

The Grand Old Party

In the aftermath of the 2020 Presidential Election, I miss Florida’s place in the sun but first, allow me to congratulate our new president, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. Has a ring to it, no? His lovely wife Jill. Splendid. Donald Trump would highlight his son Hunter but I’ll think of Beau. I’ll think of first dog Major. And the new cat! Oh, and he’s 78 fucking years old. At the risk of being canceled due to Ageism, that’s just too damn old to be the President of the United States. I argue that Ronnie Reagan and Donnie Trump prove it: it’s not a job for old people, regardless of the hair dye and the many, many lies. Joe had no choice in the matter, however, practically drafted by the American people to step up and DO SOMETHING about Trump’s insanity, but he did always want to be president. The late Donald Trump, not as in dead, just as in he won’t leave the White House, is as lame as any duck in history but I choose now to ‘turn a corner’ and NOT enumerate his ridiculous to sublime losses and mishaps since Trump woke to the news on November 4th that the election results were not in his favor, they were in his disfavor, in fact, to the tune of SEVEN MILLION votes. 

Tweet©: Americans have disfavored only three incumbent presidents in the last 100 years and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris did it with a higher percentage of the vote than Ronald Reagan in 1980 or Bill Clinton in 1992, with the highest popular vote percentage against an incumbent president (4.4%) since FDR defeated Herbert Hoover in 1932. 

Joe Biden wiped the floor with Donald Trump’s orange hairdo and that’s the greatest thing to happen to me since this stupid, damned-to-hell virus broke out: I will never, ever have to write about Donald J. Trump for the rest of my God-given days. This post, my cheery wintertime repast should’ve been about Demeter, but my boring history lesson has been sullied, yet again, by the Trump dullards yet I will persevere, with mask ON for 100 more days ‘till vaccination, without ever having to write about THE DONALD, Donald J. Trump, Trump Jr. Ivanka Melania Eric Tiffany or any of the Trump Clan ever again. Except Barron. He was fine. All the rest, goodbye and good luck. Trump’s so far gone now that he’s ready for a burp and a nap, but that’s beside the point, the seasons of change are upon us. Trump’s last gambit, a similar play to his many cons before, he takes a triumphant Republican ‘victory,’ breaks it and ruins it with incompetence and indifference and then shoves it back in America’s face and blurts: NICE FUCKIN’ DEMOCRACY! while pocketing millions. As internet phish enthusiasts well understand, it takes a barracuda to keep the catch lively. So EAT IT! 

A student of (recent) history, Donald Trump knows better than most how nimbly George W. Bush and the Republican Party ‘stole’ the 2000 Presidential Election; the hanging chads, the butterflied ballots, the ridiculously overwrought hours of listening to the awful Katherine Harris and the president’s mediocre brother (and son, Jeb!) lay waste to reason by STOPPING THE COUNT, the US Supreme Court then mooting the Florida Supreme Court (unprecedented) giving us George W. Bush’s unassailable shit-kicking mediocrity for eight long years, so we’ve really had a 20-year primer to what we’ve lived with for near on five fucking years now. Oh, and I’m writing no more F-bombs anymore so there you go, I’m feeling better already! This last year has been the worst by far, with each moment growing more stupid and deadly by the day and now down to the hours, minutes and seconds before we awaken from the Trump nightmare.

Trump is now holed-up in the White House, soon to be Mar-a-Lago, running around like the Hamburgerler since he lost the election in embarrassing yet predictable fashion and from his gilded crib he tweets FOUL! Will he ever just leave us alone? Will Lou Dobbs, Maria Bartiromo, Sean Hannity, Ron DeSantis, Ted Fuckin Cruz (sorry) or any other GOPer who supports this travesty ever just leave us all be? Um, no. Update: only 27 Republicans acknowledge Joe Biden as our new president and over 100 seditious losers in the GOP signed a letter attesting to their seditious loserdom. Lest we forget Willie Horton or the Vietnam War hero John O’Neill, the Republicans have mastered the dark arts that Roger Stone has studied since childhood, since well before Donald Segretti lost his law license in California. Keeping up with Republican ‘ne’er-do-wells’ since the Republican from California, (Bill Hader accent here), Richard Nixon’s last foray into blackmail, with Holy Cross’ own Robert Maheu and the (FBI/CIA) entanglement with chief Watergate investor Howard Hughes, (along with ITT and 50 other large American companies), keeping up with GOP professional liars, lunatics and greedy, selfish assholes is damned tiring work. They’ve had had a lot of practice.

Upton Sinclair (1878—1968), acclaimed author of The Jungle in 1914 which exposed the inhuman treatment of meatpacking plant workers in Chicago, won the Pulitzer Prize for his takedown of Hitler in Dragon’s Teeth in 1942, also writing screenplays for the eminent Soviet filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, no less, in the humorless ¡Que Viva Mexico! (1930) with Charlie Chaplin, no less, producing the silent film. Sinclair would go on to write and narrate the movie version of The Jungle, which is a now a lost film, he was a left-of-center representation of the American Century, starting out as a wide-eyed Socialist, he was raised in a wealthy yet diminished family from the pre-Civil War South, left scattered across America after the war, his father was an alcoholic liquor salesman and his mother was a teetotaling dowager. After growing up in Baltimore, his family finally settled in New York where he lived on the fringes of society and wrote about it so exceedingly well that he became a legend in his own time. Upton Sinclair died in the revolutionary year of 1968, his New York Times obituary noted that the term ‘muckraker’ was created for him by Teddy Roosevelt, who absolutely despised him. Sinclair moved to Southern California in 1915 and by 1926 he was running as the Socialist candidate for Governor of California, netting more than 60,000 votes in the election. In author Anthony Arthur’s biography Radical Innocent: Upton Sinclair (2005), he was described as such a driving force of history that one could easily mistake his life story for fiction:

He counted dozens of epochal figures as friends or confidants, including Mark Twain, Jack London, Henry Ford, Thomas Mann, H. G. Wells, Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, Albert Einstein, Charlie Chaplin, Albert Camus, and Carl Jung. In his later years, Sinclair twice reinvented himself, first as the Democratic candidate for governor of California in 1934, and later, in his sixties and seventies, as a historical novelist. In 1943 he won a Pulitzer Prize for Dragon’s Teeth, one of eleven novels featuring super-spy Lanny Budd.

On April 15, 1920 at the Slater and Morrill Shoe Company in Braintree, Massachusetts two security guards, Frederick Parmenter and Alessandro Berardelli unloaded $15,766.51 (them’s pre-Depression dollars) off an armored car just as Nicola Sacco descended upon them and shot them both to death, while taking all the loot. Before OJ and Al Cowlings and the wall-to-wall coverage that came with it, we had Nick Sacco and Bart Vanzetti and the accompanying radio and print drama, a cause célèbre for Socialists, Anarchists and most Italians in America and Europe, for what happened to them revealed the many ways in which American justice usually works: totally unfairly, but better than nothing. In Sinclair’s novel, Boston (1928) he created a fictionalized narrative that closely paralleled the facts of the case and used real names and events to bring the book into the realm of journalism. It would be Sinclair after all, with his expose of ‘Yellow Journalism’ in The Brass Check in 1919, who revealed how the pay-for-play racket worked, like other muckraking leftists he would become weary of the Socialist brand after the rise of Stalin and his Five Year Plan, Sinclair would convert to the Democratic Party for the remainder of his 90 years in 1934 and he would play an important part in the campaign to frame the Sacco and Vanzetti murder case as something more than a robbery gone bad.

He would run for the Governor of California in 1934 as a Democrat, in the original place where the current iteration of the Grand Old Party of Lincoln really started, as true today as in 1849 — and there’s still gold in them thar’ hills: Beverly Hills, that is. Swimmin Pools. Movie stars. And politicians! Both major political parties have bent their knee to the Great California miracle, born in the furthest imagination of America’s Wild West, with Las Vegas in nearby Nevada, Los Angeles (with the Dems stronghold up in San Francisco) with San Diego and Orange County and huge swaths of arid, beautiful land from Michael Landon State Park and Simi Valley northward, Republicans hid away in the Golden State, meeting furtively at the exclusive Bohemian Grove, the super-secret Republican retreat near San Francisco where they have ruled from without for decades, losing all of their power to the California Democrats. Just before California was admitted to the United States, the native people of California, the Californios, elected Pío Pico as the Governor of Mexican California in the 1846 election, the brother of Andrés Pico and the son of the powerful José María Pico (a soldier in the Company of San Diego), four times the Californios rebelled against the whims of Santa Anna from Mexico City, then part of the Spanish Empire, the last revolt against Spain ended in 1844, yet at battles in Los Angeles, San Pascual and Chino Ranch, Californios fought and defeated Anglo forces led by Major John C. Frémont, an adventurer who had shrewdly bought up land after war was declared in 1846 between the US and Mexico. Frémont struck gold and claimed a huge fortune, later he was court-martialed for mutiny for his participation in the famous Bear Flag revolt, but his sentence was commuted (targeted as an anti-abolitionist by the disgraced Stephen Kearny), he was reinstated by President James K. Polk, ready-made for Republican politics. Frémont was California’s first US Senator and chosen to be the first presidential nominee for the brand-new Republican Party in 1856, losing to the former Federalist, the Jacksonian Democrat and inept President James Buchanan, Frémont also served as the Governor of Arizona from 1878 until 1881, however he resigned soon after and he retired from politics and died a destitute loner in New York City in 1890.

The 28th Governor of California and the former Lieutenant Governor (as well as the former State Auditor of Iowa) Frank Finley Merriam moved to the Golden State in 1910 where he flourished with his corn-belt conservatism, his Republican backers then ran the ‘Stop Sinclair’ movement in California to counter Upton Sinclair’s EPIC political movement, among Merriam’s many Republican supporters were the LA Times managing editor Harry Chandler, MGM’s film boss Louis Burton Mayer and newspaper tycoon William R. Hurst. Mayer used his influential Hollywood studio to churn out slick Republican propaganda, producing numerous fake newsreels that played before feature-length films screened in California, one of them portraying crowds of Soviets arriving in San Francisco eager to cast their votes for the former Socialist Sinclair. The Deputy District Attorney of Oakland, California in 1920 was Earl Warren, appointed DA in 1925, he won the election for California Attorney General in 1938, where he then supported and oversaw the internment of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans during WWII. He would come to regret the decision and he shifted his stance, becoming a liberal Republican. He was elected Governor of California and would then be appointed by President Eisenhower (who credited Warren for delivering him the Republican nomination) the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court in 1953 and the Warren Court then decided the most influential set of opinions in American history. After Warren moved on to the Supreme Court, his lieutenant Goodwin ‘Goody’ Knight was elected Governor of California in 1954, at Disneyland on opening day on July 17, 1955 (giving a speech after Walt Disney’s famous dedication) and on September, 1961, he announced his bid for a second term as governor, however the moderate Republican dropped out of the race for the nomination, won by the conservative Republican Richard Nixon who was then in turn defeated by liberal Democrat Jerry Brown’s dad, Pat Brown

In the ‘Crime of the (20th) Century,’ dynamite killed 21 newspaper employees and injured 100 more at the LA Times when a time-bomb went off at the fortress-like Los Angeles Times building, set by union agitators, part of an organized campaign of violence that was the largest domestic terror campaign in US history. LA Times publisher Harrison Gray Otis, was an anti-union owner who successfully kept print unions out of his newspaper for over 50 years, until the powerful San Francisco labor unions, fronted by the fearless Iron Workers and the IWW, one of the few strong unions in Los Angeles where they employed an ‘extralegal’ campaign against US business interests, begun in the spring of 1910 when union boss J. J. McNamara sent his younger brother, J. B. to LA on a deadly mission. The younger McNamara was instructed to leave a suitcase full of dynamite in the narrow alleyway between the Times building and the Times annex, then known as ‘Ink Alley,’ he planted the bombs and then left more, all set to detonate at 1 am, while leaving another bomb next to the home of the Times‘ publisher Otis, McNamara then boarded a train to San Francisco and escaped town when the Times building bomb went off at 1:07 a.m. on October 1, 1910. The bombs planted elsewhere failed to explode, giving investigators valuable clues to the guilt of the McNamara brothers, who ended up changing their pleas to guilty after their famed defense attorney Clarence Darrow was caught jury tampering, after which J.B. McNamara testified in court:

On the night of September 30, 1910, at 5:45 p.m., I placed in Ink Alley, a portion of the Times building, a suitcase containing sixteen sticks of 80 per cent dynamite, set to explode at one o’clock the next morning. It was my intention to injure the building and scare the owners. I sincerely regret that these unfortunate men lost their lives.

The Sacco and Vanzetti robbery and the terror bombing campaign preceding it are inextricably linked, with the Wall Street bombing unfolding just after and yet the derelict building stands today, still pockmarked with shrapnel. The Wall Street attack killed more people than the LA Times attack, with brokers, clerks and messengers killed and maimed while going about their business just outside 23 Wall Street, JP Morgan’s famous four story headquarters was designed to support 40 floors above, yet had only four solid floors, built in 1914, the case has never been solved. The Anarchist group the Galleanists were initially identified as suspects in several violent anti-capitalist bombings and assassination attempts, including an attempted mass poisoning, the US government deported Galleani and eight associates on June 24, 1919, just before the wave of attacks. Andrea Salsedo met Luigi Galleani in 1910 and assisted with the creation of the subversive newspaper Cronaca Sovversivand, and Salsedo also wrote a number of articles for the magazine. The Justice Department in New York included Salsedo on a list of anarchists who fled to Mexico in order to avoid military service (he apparently committed suicide by leaping from the quarters of the Department of Justice from the fourteenth floor) and the names also included Nicola Sacco, Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Roberto Elia as well as Galleani. In the murder trial of Sacco and Vanzetti, a Massachusetts jury quickly returned a verdict of guilty on July 14, 1921 and both men were sentenced to death. It would be almost ten years later when the case reached its apotheosis and Sacco and Vanzetti were executed.

On September 12, 1929 Upton Sinclair wrote a letter addressed to his attorney: John Beardsley, Esq., of Los Angeles with the return address, “Upton Sinclair, Long Beach” discovered in 1995 by book nerd Paul Hegness who was searching for literary errata among boxes of dusty records and correspondence, remembering that “I stood there for 15 minutes reading it over and over again,” of the letter because Hegness had found something extraordinary, while reading Sinclair’s words, “I am here trying to make plain my own part in the story.” The story was Sinclair’s novel Boston, Hegness would later donate the letter to Sinclair’s archives at Indiana University, to be filed with other letters tucked away in the Indiana archive that also contains correspondence that Sinclair writes that, “My wife is absolutely certain that if I tell what I believe, I will be called a traitor to the movement and may not live to finish the book,” written to Robert Minor, a confidant at the Socialist Daily Worker in New York in 1927. “Of course,” he added,

… The next big case may be a frame-up, and my telling the truth about the Sacco-Vanzetti case will make things harder for the victims… It is much better copy as a naive defense of Sacco and Vanzetti because this is what all my foreign readers expect, and they are 90% of my public.

Massachusetts and New York were at the center of American power in early America, from 1630-1930, however after the Civil War, especially as the country entered the Great Depression, what began in Boston and New York City moved South toward Florida, then slowly transplanted along with the film industry to the warmer climate of Los Angeles beginning in the 1920s until the transplantation of the minicomputer industry from the Technology Highway in Massachusetts to Silicon Valley near San Francisco in the 1980s.The OJ Simpson Trial, today a media event as analyzed and parsed as Sacco and Vanzetti in the ’20s, the guilt or innocence at the hearts of the matters became less important than the matters themselves. Sacco and Vanzetti were as guilty in Boston as the McNamara brothers were in the Times bombing, following the McNamara brothers guilty pleas in Los Angeles, where Clarence Darrow, the famed attorney of the Scopes Monkey Trial and also in the defense of Leopold and Leob was heavily criticized in the press after the Times Bombing trials because he then lied to raise money for his clients’ defense fund, allowing duped supporters to believe in the McNamara brothers’ innocence, while raising a war chest of $200,000 (them’s pre-Depression dollars) from contributions, largely from rank and file union members. He spent half the money to mount an expensive legal and media campaign while knowing all along that the McNamara brothers were guilty.

At the twilight of the 19th Century, American power was still based in America’s Northeast in Massachusetts and New York, which then sprouted The Republican newspaper in Springfield, MA and The New York Times in New York, the true birthplaces of the Republican Party (more later), just after that Donald Trump’s grandpa ran a fine bordello that catered to the tastes of the gold-digging ‘49ers way up in Alaska, among many adventurous men and women who have ventured to the most Western place in America, (sorry Hawaii) California (Bill Hader accent) under the desert sun was built for fun. With Las Vegas too! The money and the hookers and the insane film and TV deals, it’s in the Hollywood Hills where true political power resides in America today, as Florida fades into the gloaming. Lately, the Democrat and Governor of California Gavin Newsom, after winning his re-election in November, partied maskless at the ultra-exclusive, ridiculously expensive French Laundry (🤮) which reveals why he, among Democrats, was Donald Trump’s English translator for four years while SF’s Nancy Pelosi (mask optional) is the Devil’s spawn in Trumpworld. Nancy is herself a big ego, but she’s a normal, old fashioned whip-snapping representative, a terribly boring person compared to the likes of the untethered, un-American California Representative Devin Nunes or the toxic California Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, or even the big, dumb Arnold Schwarzenegger for that matter, the former celebrity and Governor of California was the last Republican governor before the cast-molded Democrat Gray Davis was recalled in 2004, back to the good ‘ol Dem Jerry Brown, born the son of California Governor Pat Brown, unseated by Ronald Reagan in the year of my birth in 1966, so there you go. 

Florida Man makes the case that the real Republican power base STILL resides firmly in Florida, near Miami, I believe (Jared and Ivanka just bought an island in the Keys I hear) and NOT in arch-nemesis California, (Boston<NY), with dimwitted Marco Rubio, Governor/ass-wipe Ron DeSantis (Desantis recently authorizing a raid at a Covid scientist’s home) and Representative Matt Gaetz (insufferable asshole) representing the very best of the nutcases grown in the Sunshine State, the hallowed ground of many, many crazy people, Trump now OWNS Florida and because of that, they’ll be just like California (Bill Hader accent) — another Democratic stronghold represented with style by former California Senator and new Vice President, Kamala Fuckin’ Harris. Sorry, but that F-Bomb was in a positive, inclusive way. The total popular vote margin of victory in the 2020 United States Presidential Election was SEVEN MILLION VOTES so let me never have to write his fake name ever again. Hallelujah! There is a God!

Merry Christmas everybody!

John Underhill

December 15, 2020


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