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Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons

I’ve been enjoying revisiting my original “Batman” story from 2004, rereading my old dialogue, reworking old scenes, adding new touches.

Here’s a taste:

BATMAN:  Arkham Jihad

CONCEPT:  “Arkham Jihad” was born of two emotions, Love and Disappointment: Love, for the excellent Batman stories that restored the power and pathos of an American icon and uplifted the “comic book” genre; and Disappointment, at Hollywood’s refusal to acknowledge the genius of that accomplishment, choosing instead to churn out the next generation of campy dreck — still about the “toys,” whacky villains and their goons, and caped adventure — still aimed at the kiddies, only with a lot more violence and sex… and a lot less campy fun.

Where in the Warner Brothers universe, I wondered, is the richly complex psychological portrait of the intense, grim, tortured, obsessive Bruce Wayne — so scarred by the past that he can’t simply accept life as a billionaire and move on?  He barely exists in these films, despite the brilliant template provided by Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and others.  Instead, Warner Brothers’ Batman has more in common with James Bond, complete with a new Bond (OK, Bat-) “Girl” in each new installment:  He goes from Vicki (T)ail to (S&M) Catwoman to (Hot4Bad-Boys) Chase to (Fatal Femme) Ivy to (The Girl Next Door) Rachel, in the best Batman flick yet, “Batman Begins” (which still leaves a lot to be desired).

As with 007, each new Batman film features new gadgets, a new Batmobile, a new costume, and a new villain who, in the end, must be destroyed — Joker dies, Penguin dies (along with Max Shreck), Two-Face (Harvey!) dies, Riddler is mentally destroyed… and so on.

“Batman Begins,” an entertaining film with a far better than average take on the Batman, comes closest, but none of the Warner Brothers films are truly for grown-ups… and as depraved, raunchy, and violent as some of the preceding ones are, they’re not really all that suitable for kids, either!

It was my disappointment with the films, leaving the theater with the unshakable sense that they had gotten it wrong, that led me to wonder, just how had they gotten it wrong?  What was it, precisely, that they had left out?  Each film led me to a separate meditation on the Batman — the Batman who wasn’t in the picture — the Batman I knew from the Graphic Novels.

I know this Batman, I thought; I’ve read all of the great Graphic Novels:  “The Dark Knight Returns” (and “Batman: Year One”), “The Killing Joke,” and the less great (but still cool) “Arkham Asylum. What was it I had learned about Batman in these novels that the films all missed?

What is it, I asked myself, that makes Batman tic?  (And tic he does, make no mistake.)

After many hours contemplating these questions, I decided that the answer to the fundamental question — Who is Batman? — is darker, more compelling, perverse, and epic than anything we have previously seen in any single Batman story, on paper or on the screen (though “The Dark Knight Returns” comes closest).

While the aforementioned graphic novels all provide key insights into the Batman’s character — his background, underlying motivation, and personal challenges — his legend is not entirely complete in any one of them.  Each of these masterworks has something essential to say about the Batman (and, in some cases, his foes) that the others fail to articulate.

Therefore, I had to conclude, the truest, richest, most awesome, inspirational, and gritty Batman — the whole Batman — is, at present, condemned to exist scattered across several different works (masterpieces, yes, but incomplete, in terms of actually comprehending the Caped Crusader… in all of his awesome, twisted, heroic magnificence).

With no disrespect to those who’ve come before, the Batman’s day has not yet come.

Thus, “Arkham Jihad” aspires to incorporate the most significant, mind-blowing insights about the Batman — and his two principal foes, Joker and Two-Face, provided in the following works:

1.  The classic, traditional Batman character — from the time of his first appearance in Bob Kane’s original stories for Detective Comics (DC) to his decades of service in assorted DC comic books and television incarnations (all the way to Warner Brothers’ various renditions of the character in their films of the past few decades:  heroic, driven, moral, intense, and dark…).

2. Frank Miller’s exhilarating “The Dark Knight Returns,” a seminal work, essential to understanding the character of the Batman…  Miller’s Batman is dark (almost suicidal), a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and a hard, cold, very nearly ruthless soldier in the fight against crime.  Miller’s Batman exorcises the cliched ring of the “caped crusader” phrase by reminding the reader what a crusader is:  an uncompromising zealot.  Suffice it to say, his Batman’s campaign does not lend itself to campy “POW!” and “BIFF!” graphics…  I’m also appropriating from “The Dark Knight Returns” an element (of Miller’s invention, I believe) concerning Bruce Wayne’s relationship with Harvey “Two Face” Dent:  Bruce Wayne’s commitment to Harvey’s rehabilitation.  Although “Arkham Jihad” is set chronologically before “The Dark Knight Returns” and precedes the efforts to surgically repair Harvey’s scarred physiognomy, my story does not precede Bruce Wayne’s efforts to sponsor Harvey’s psychological convalescence (financing counseling and treatment beyond what Arkham provides).

3. Alan Moore’s introduction to Frank Miller’s landmark “The Dark Knight Returns,” noting how the growing sophistication of the mass audience called for revisiting the character, expounding on the essential qualities of the Batman in order to renew and revitalize that which makes him so compelling in the first place (in this case, pathos and grim fortitude).

4. Alan Moore’s incomparably brilliant “Watchmen,” not for any specific reference it makes to the Batman (it makes none), but for its extraordinary contribution to the genre, much of which is relevant to the Batman — especially the character of Rorschach (pathos and grim fortitude in the flesh).  Upon reflection, Moore’s “Watchmen” almost makes “Arkham Jihad” unnecessary — except for one thing:  Batman is exceptional.  An extraordinary, iconic figure like the Batman — rich and complex as he is — deserves more than to be obliquely included in an incidental, if brilliant, deconstruction of the Superhero mentality; he deserves his own story.

5. Alan Moore’s excellent Graphic Novel, “The Killing Joke,” with its compelling Joker “Origin Story” unfolding in the background of an intensely dramatic confrontation between the Joker and the Batman.  Moore’s narrative is enormously illustrative of the villain’s character and motivation; he longs to prove to Batman something along the lines of:  It’s the world that’s sick and cruel, and I’m nothing more than what this world has made of me:  Here (pointing at his chest), but for the caprice of an idiot Universe, goes YOU! Moore’s Joker also seems preoccupied with the similarities between himself and Batman.  Recollecting his own “bad day” (the day that, more than any previous day in his life, set him on the course to become The Joker), he entreats Batman to reflect on his own “bad day,” suggesting that it must have been a dilly, else why the Dracula get up, the extreme lifestyle choice…?  [Having spent many pleasurable hours reading and rereading “The Killing Joke,” I confess I have very little to add to Moore’s characterization of Batman’s arch-foe.  For me, the Joker of “The Killing Joke” is THE Joker…  “Arkham Jihad” merely borrows him, ages him a bit, and gives him some new dialogue — and a new wild hair up his wazoo.]

6. Grant Morrison’s “Arkham Asylum,” from which I’m borrowing two key elements:  a) The general concept of an Arkham chapter involving Joker commandeering the asylum for the purpose of psychoanalyzing Batman — in order to make a point (paraphrased):  I may be sick, but you ain’t exactly the portrait of mental health, my Batty friend; and b) The insertion of the Disney classic “Bambi” into Batman’s “Origin Story” — either instead of the traditional Batman legend’s “Zorro” element or, possibly, as the second of a double feature (I believe Morrison is implying the former)…  In either case, it is during the film Bambi, Morrison suggests, that his father dragged a young Bruce Wayne out of the theater, mortified at his son’s tears (presumably upon seeing Bambi’s mother killed), harshly reproaching his son — just prior to being gunned down himself, along with Brucie’s mother.

Morrison’s contribution to the Batman story is indispensable.  His Bruce Wayne Sr. is foundational to mine:  he is insensitive and mired in the cult of masculinity (that’s not all my Bruce Wayne Sr. is, but it is an important aspect of his character, so far as young Bruce’s development is concerned).  Morrison’s account has Bruce Wayne Sr. issuing an ultimatum to his young son just before the family’s fatal encounter with the “Crime Alley” mugger:  “If you don’t stop crying and act like a grown-up, I’m leaving you right here.”

7. Jim Starlin’s “a Death in the Family,” which features the death of Jason Todd, Dick Grayson’s successor as “Robin, the Boy Wonder.”  I’m borrowing a couple of elements of Starlin’s story for “Arkham Jihad:” 1) the character of Jason Todd as the “Boy Wonder” and 2) the concept of Joker working with a fanatical Middle Eastern element (here, al Qaeda).  The latter aspect is unfortunately relevant to the world in which we live today, with the United States at war with its former mujahedeen.  The former aspect (using the Jason Todd “Robin”) not only works with the original plot I’ve concocted, involving an aging Batman, near retirement, but is also a fun way of dangling before the die-hard Batman fans the possibility — the likelihood? — that this story’s Robin may not survive the day…

[Scene 1]

Our story begins in a fairly modern setting — not quite the present, but virtually yesterday:  April, 2004… Gotham.

Rooftop.  Nighttime.  Batman is on stakeout.  No telling how long he’s been waiting, but he’s silent as the grave, listening intently at an open vent.  When finally he hears muted noises emanating from below, he reacts immediately, rising to his feet… very quickly and very quietly.  Before he proceeds to the source of the sounds, he checks on something:  his hostage, lying on the rooftop, some 15 feet away.

Batman’s hostage, a young man in his early 20s, with his wrists and ankles bound and a gag in his mouth (apparently torn from his blood-spattered shirt), remains unconscious.  His face is bruised, with blood caked and drying under his nostrils.


Quickly, Batman affixes a visor to his face and gets to business.

Batman carefully lifts his hostage up, cradling him like a child, and begins to walk slowly, deliberately to the edge of the rooftop.  As he does, a length of cable becomes visible, connecting the man’s ankle-bonds to a customized grappling hook already set in the stone lip of the rooftop.

His hostage begins to regain consciousness just as Batman nears the edge of the rooftop.  Before releasing him, Batman hooks a small device to the man’s belt and depresses a button on the device.  A dull purple light immediately begins to blink — once, twice, three times…

With the ease and confidence of a man who knows what he’s doing, Batman deftly flips the man 180 degrees (facing downward), grasping him by the belt-line of his pants and back collar of his jacket as he speeds toward the edge of the roof.

The man’s eyes grow large with fear as he begins to get his bearings — just in time to be pitched over the edge.

He’d scream if he could…

Just as a smirking Batman releases his victim, smoke begins pouring from the device attached to the man’s belt.

The Caped Crusader doesn’t watch as the cable draws taut and snaps back with a twang, nor does he listen to hear his hostage crash into the window two floors below, landing safely (more or less) inside the building as he completes the arc of his wild ride.

No, Batman is on the move.

He races silently to the other side of the building — where another length of cable rests, attached to a customized grappling hook already set in the stone perimeter of the opposite side of the rooftop.  His stride hardly slowing a step, he grabs the end of the cord, and with a flick of the wrist gets an extra loop of cable around his gloved hand (snatching it into his clutched fist), before leaping (again with a slight smirk) off the building’s edge and into the night.

Two floors below, the room is filling with smoke.  Half a dozen startled gangsters stand, training some serious artillery in the direction of the window — the window that’s just exploded inward, heralding the arrival of their unfortunate, bound and gagged acquaintance (unconscious again, mercifully).

Uzi in hand, one of the thugs moves quickly toward the window, covering his mouth with his free hand (suspecting tear gas, perhaps) as he prepares to fill “the Bat” with lead.

“Just shoot,” he barks.  “C’mon, before the room is so filled with — SHOOT!” Anticipating Batman’s entrance, they begin firing through the broken window as the room grows ever smokier.

In a single fluid motion, Batman swings silently through the already-open window — opposite the just-shattered one — some 35-40 feet away from the chaotic scene unfolding diagonally across the hazy room.

Approaching from behind, he disarms (and disables) the man nearest him before the crook can discern why two other of his compatriots have suddenly let out screams of shock and pain (small, razor sharp, bat-shaped projectiles partially buried in their flesh, seeping a mild (yet painful) paralytic into their bloodstream).

As bodies and weapons rapidly begin dropping to the floor, the remaining thugs discern that their assailant hasn’t entered via the window through which they expected him, and they turn to confront him… as well as their limited visibility allows.  One turns to flee.

With their automatic and semi-automatic weapons, two brave and foolhardy rogues begin firing… somewhat indiscriminately.  But by this time the room is thick with smoke, and they hit nothing.

With his (custom) Night-Vision visor and honed skills, rendering the remaining mobsters harmless, in some cases unconscious, is a matter of child’s play for the Dark Knight.

In the space of a couple of minutes he is the only man left standing in the room.  His quarry lay on the floor, none remotely posing a threat.  Several have sustained injuries that will require a considerable stay in Gotham General.

The conscious ones moan.

A small smile touches the corners of Batman’s mouth.

[Scene 2]

Batman emerges from the building carrying two of the criminals he’s just subdued:  one over his shoulder (his former hostage), the other he drags by his back collar.  The former is still unconscious.  The latter lets out a little whimper at each stair he’s dragged across (his broken leg apparently causing him some distress).

At the foot of the stairs that mark the entrance to the abandoned tenement, the other five thugs lie in a heap (where, in the preceding moments, the vigilante had deposited them).

Just as he’s exiting the building, two police cars pull up to the building and come to an abrupt halt.

Apparently expecting them, Batman is unperturbed by their arrival.  Commissioner James Gordon immediately disembarks from the driver’s side of the lead car and trots over to the Batman as he begins to descend the stairs.

Batman is poised to greet his longtime ally when he sees the passenger door of Gordon’s car swing open and his civilian passenger — as well as the civilian passenger delivered by the second car — begin to file out…  The first, an attractive young woman, is smartly dressed and carries a microphone.  The second, a disheveled young man with a beard, has a camera.


“Jim,” Batman says through gritted teeth (mostly to himself).

As Gordon nears him, he expresses his displeasure:  “Why, Jim?”

Gordon, his voice low, apologizes:  “Sorry, Batman — I owed Ms. Pryor there a favor… and the truth is, I catch some hell, y’know, when you stay behind the scenes for too long.  People want to see your face every once in a while; humanizes you… makes you seem less a rogue actor, more like a police partner, y’know?  Not a vigil—-”

“Let’s just get this over with,” Batman grouses in resignation, before roughly depositing the thug he’s been dragging by his collar onto the heap with the rest of his partners in crime.

Ms. Pryor approaches just as Batman is about to unburden himself of the seventh and final crook, his former hostage (bruised face still bleeding somewhat, especially from fresh wounds acquired during his crash through the upstairs window).

“No, wait,” she says, “Can we keep him like that—-slung over your shoulder, just like that?  That’s perfect: The hero and his captured quarry!

“Gerry, wherethe-F are you with the camera!”

(A look of disapprobation/discomfort passes between between Batman and the Commissioner.)

“Right here, Sheila,” (Gerry, defends himself), “give me a break.  Here, just a sec — Okay… ready to go!”

“Fine!  Good.  Okay, Commissioner, we’ll get you in the shot, too… Gotham’s top cop still sharing the load with our Caped Defender.  You can tell the people how you coordinated with the Batman to, you know, capture the bad guys… the… I’m sorry, I know you went over this in the car…”

“Addington gang,” Gordon responds. “They’ve pulled off two nighttime bank robberies and a jewelry heist, just in the last—-”

“Right:  Addington.  Got it.”

“Do you—-” Batman begins, before trailing off.

“What’s that, Batman?” the reporter queries, but the Batman, no longer in his element, reconsiders: “Nothing.  Sorry.  Just… just go on with — go right ahead.”

“You got it, Caped Crusader.  Gerry, we set?”

“What did I say a minute ago?”

“Fine, okay:  Here we go…

“Good morning, Gotham!  I’m Sheila Pryor, and I’m here in the wee hours of the morning in Gotham’s old Hutchison-Goss district with Commissioner James Gordon and Gotham’s long-time defender, not to mention the nation’s, the Batman.  Tonight, they’ve caught up to the Lew Addington gang and put a stop to their run of robberies — How many is it Commissioner?”

“Six in the past eight days.”

“Well, they were on a regular spree!  And they’re a very professional, experienced gang of hardened criminals, the Addington gang, very slick, originally from the Chicago area, is that right?”

“Yes, that’s right…”

“And how did you learn the location of their meeting place here, uh… Batman?”

“Well, Commissioner Gordon, uh, introduced me to—-this…” (Lip curling a bit in disgust, he nods his head laterally, indicating the bundle on his right shoulder… which begins to stir.)

“I see… So this fellow here was able to lead you to his partners in crime?”

“Yes, in a manner of…”

“Did he give you much trouble,” she asks, indicating, in an attempt at levity, the bleeding wreck of a young man slung over Batman’s shoulder.


Gordon jumps in:  “Actually, this gang — Addington’s crew — they’re a very hard lot.  I mean, I know this man doesn’t look like much of a threat now, but he and his partners were — are — a very bad bunch of… I mean, real thugs — automatic weapons, not afraid to use them… Long record…”

“I see…”

“They’ve got a number of outstanding murder charges, as well,” Gordon interjects. “–in addition to the robberies.”

“Oh, I don’t doubt it, Commissioner.  I mean, if you had to involve the Batman, I’m sure these weren’t exactly your garden variety crooks—-”

“Urrr-uuhhh…Whats’at light…?” (mutters the bundle on Batman’s shoulder).

“Ooh, he’s starting to wake up!”

“Cripes are you — oh, oww, owww… oh, hell!” Various pains settle in on him, before he realizes… “Hey, am I on… T-Veee…?”

“Shut up, scum!” Batman growls in a low voice, barely more than a whisper.

“Hey… Heyyyyy! I remember what you did to me… YOU mother—-

Swiftly, Batman’s free fist delivers an extraordinarily violent punch to the young man’s face, knocking him unconscious again, breaking his zygomatic.  He falls limp, blood dripping from his face.

(A moment of silence passes.  Now it’s Commissioner Gordon who looks uncomfortable.)

“FCC…” Batman volunteers, covering.  “I wouldn’t want to see your station fined…”

(after a pause)

“Of course…”

Kamala Harris is “tough on crime” when supporting the New Jim Crow, prison labor, police/prosecutorial misconduct, the War on Drugs, and the death penalty. And she’s an innovator, when it comes to jailing parents of truant children, disproportionately poor POC.

And let’s not forget that she “fought to uphold… wrongfully secured convictions.”

Stay incarcerated, you wrongfully convicted poor people! We need more prisoners to fight fires and serve as corporate America’s captive workforce for pennies an hour!

But in 2008, CA’s ambitious Attorney General, Ms. Harris, had a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for Trump’s future Secretary of the Treasury, Steve Mnuchin — a Wall Street executive guilty of several thousand crimes, per Harris’s own investigators.

But Mnuchin was also a major donor to her campaign — $$$ !!!

So, she shut down the Mnuchin investigation, even as her investigators were telling her that they expected to find evidence of “many thousands more” crimes committed by the Wall Street executive — thereby putting herself on the national political career path and Mnuchin on the path to becoming a Cabinet Secretary!

(Crime pays! At least, for the elite.)

Today, Wall Street adores Harris, as do Clinton’s donors, who’ve clearly decided to anoint her as their candidate in 2020. And with the DNC making it even easier to rig the primary this time around (after the 2016 farce), she probably will be the Democratic Party’s nominee.

A losing bet, for sure.

And here’s why: The best way to win elections is to excite your base. Already, it’s clear that Harris turns off the Democratic Party’s base — just as Clinton did in 2016.

After years of “centrist” Democrat betrayals, POC largely failed to come out for Sec. Clinton in 2016 — giving Trump the edge he needed. Today, African-Americans are the most vocal demographic arguing against Harris’s nomination… just because she laughs and laughs when asked about incarcerating poor people, disproportionately people of color.

(Wait, I get it… No, sorry, I still don’t. What’s so funny about jailing poor people because they can’t keep their kids in school? …Senator?)

Predictably enough, Harris’s critics are already being called “misogynists” — despite the fact that most of us prefer HI-Dem, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, an actual progressive… and a woman.

(I guess the Democrats really want another four years of Trump in the White House.)

From Briahna Joy Gray’s excellent article:

“She’s running for president as a progressive, but as attorney general of California, she criminalized truancy — making it a crime for kids to be late for school and dragging into the criminal justice system even more disproportionately low-income, predominantly black and Latino families. She’s overlooked the misconduct of her prosecutors and fought to uphold their wrongfully secured convictions. She defended California’s choice to deny gender reassignment surgery to a transgender inmate, and in 2014, she appealed a federal judge’s holding that the death penalty was unconstitutional.

“The list goes on and on. But in some ways, the details don’t matter. The problem isn’t that Harris was an especially bad prosecutor. She made positive contributions as well, encouraging education and re-entry programs for ex-offenders, for instance. The problem, more precisely, is that she was ever a prosecutor at all.

“To become a prosecutor is to make a choice to align oneself with a powerful and fundamentally biased system. As Paul Butler, former prosecutor and author of ‘Chokehold: Policing Black Men,’ told The Guardian, ‘as a lawyer who went to law school with a goal of helping black people and using my legal skills to make things better, the realization that the law itself was a mechanism to keep African-American people down was frightening.’”

(Not to Kamala Harris it wasn’t. Keeping African-American people down simply looked like a good career path to her. That, and sparing the top criminals of the 1%.)

My strategy for defeating DJT is about putting pressure on the Democratic Party to shift to the left and offer policies demanded by considerable majorities of Americans — POPULISM (minus the racist demagoguery of Trump and the GOP): Medicare-for-All, a $15 minimum wage, free public university, justice reform, gun control, and a Green New Deal, including the modernization of our infrastructure… for starters.

“Hold their feet to the fire!”

The only way we can do that is if we get the Democratic Party’s most progressive members — Justice Democrats, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (the largest caucus in Congress for many years, now, far larger than the Tea Party), the Congressional Black Caucus, and even AOC — to defect, en masse, to a party with an actual progressive platform, and which promises to help the ACLU, SPLC, EFF, Sierra Club, NARAL, Color of Change, Human Rights Watch, and a host of other progressive outfits advance their respective agendas.

These Democrats could defect to the Green Party, which has a bold progressive platform that most Americans would embrace. But the Democratic Socialists of America also seems worthy. And I like what Nick Brana’s been doing with his “People’s Party” organization, giving labor a voice again…

But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter *which* progressive party these nominal lefties declare for. Mass-defections would force corporate Democrats to either shift to the left for real or admit that they are the Republicans they’ve been acting like over the last few decades.

(Any honest examination of the last few decades of policy reveals that Democrats have been far more successful at advancing the right-wing/corporate/MIC agenda than their GOP counterparts. They are literally the all-time champs of the far-right’s agenda — not the “lesser,” but the more effective evil, as Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford has asserted… Their rightward lurch explains how Democrats lost the working class and independents.)

The best thing about my strategy is that THE LEFT DOESN’T HARM ITSELF IN THE LEAST if these progressive defectors jump ship but continue caucusing with the Democrats against the GOP.

This hypothetical, principled left — a “Blue” coalition including a number of genuine progressives — would retain its majority in the House.

It’s also a reasonable expectation that the Green Party/DSA/third parties, generally, would get back into the presidential and congressional debates — taking the conversation in an anti-establishment, leftward direction — following a generation of lurching to the right after the Anheuser-Busch Corporation took the debates away from The League of Women Voters.

(We could again conduct an actual conversation, instead of a corporation-programmed “debate” farce: Trump vs. Clinton, reality TV at its worst!)

Infiltration, #DemEnter, has proven a spectacular failure. The Dems keep shifting rightward, making no concessions to the party’s base. If the last two years tell us anything, it’s that #DemEnter has literally no hope of getting the policies that liberals and progressives, both (and a bare majority of conservatives), want advanced. The Democrats are still — more than ever — pledged to the Corporatocracy, permanent war, and fossil fuels.

And “PayGo” guarantees that none of the progressive agenda can pass.

It’s time to stop the wishful thinking — “Next time Hope & Change will be real” — without ever holding the Democrats accountable for the way they tack further and further to the right. It’s time to actually hold the Democrats’ “feet to the fire.”

America desperately needs a strategy for pressuring corporate Democrats to move the party leftward and reform it — while also strengthening the progressive alternatives.

I’ve laid out mine.

(If you’ve got a better strategy for reviving the left in the Age of Trumpism, I’d love to hear it.)

Who remembers the reprehensible “selling baby parts” smear by the sham group, The Center for Medical Progress? It was obviously hacked up (dishonestly edited) video intended to make Planned Parenthood look like monsters. And the group presenting the video, the CMP, was sketchy as hell — no one outside of Breitbart’s readers should have given those claims any credence.

And yet Sec. Hillary Clinton called the allegations in the video “troubling” and called for an investigation… OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD!

That was either before or after she’d selected her far-right, “Pro-Life” running mate. And it was long after Clinton had expressed her willingness to compromise on a woman’s right to choose, using the anti-Choice crowd’s rhetoric when discussing late-term abortions…

With “friends” like these, who needs enemies?

Clinton’s pandering concessions to the right on this issue explain why 95% of Planned Parenthood’s membership exploded with rage on PP’s Facebook page (yielding a 20 to 1 ratio of outraged to approving members) when the organization’s president unilaterally endorsed Clinton over Sanders in 2016 — without giving its membership a chance to weigh in. Silly members, thinking that Cecile Richards would allow them to endorse the candidate with the most sterling Pro-Choice record, Bernie Sanders!

At the time, Sec. Clinton’s appeasement of far-right, misogynist nutjobs reminded me of when President Obama and the Democrats lent critical support to a different right-wing activist’s efforts to kill off ACORN, based on a raft of dishonest claims and another dishonestly edited (and racist) video:

Somehow it goes down easier for reflexive Team Blue voters when it’s a Democrat doing the heavy lifting for the far-right. When Dems expand neocon wars to seven countries, slash Medicare and Social Security, or threaten a woman’s right to choose, their voters simply smile approvingly and go back to sleep… if they noticed the far-right’s agenda taking off under their “liberal” heroes, in the first place!

When a Democrat kills off a progressive organization that for decades provided assistance to impoverished, mostly POC — registering voters, etc. — their “LOTE” bots simply swoon and return to the Party Talking Points and corporatocracy-approved messaging: “Democrats protect minority voters’ rights, defending POC from the GOP…” (Hilarious.)

Sorry, ACORN. You die now!

(Thanks, President Obama.)

And when Democrats disenfranchise millions of poor, marginalized voters in their corrupt primaries, or help Wall Street wipe out the post-Civil Rights Era economic gains of African-Americans, Team Blue just smiles, gulp their lattes, and go back to pretending that “Bad Cop” has no partner:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, one of the only DC politicians left who opposes war and fights political corruption, just made a public statement that she is beginning to explore a run for president. Hooray! That’s about the best news I’ve heard since Sen. Sanders threw his hat into the ring in 2015! Only now the establishment’s rat-f***ers are out in full force, looking to draw blood — because Rep. Gabbard is an actual progressive, an actual liberal, not just another posturing, corrupt fraud, cozy with Wall Street and down with endless war.

Today, I am writing to counter the U.S. political/media establishment’s latest attempts to smear the reputation of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (the smears are not new; they began the moment Gabbard began defying the powers that be; they’ve been refuted before, it’s time to refute them again):

Establishment Smear #1: Rep. Gabbard is “not progressive.”

Fact-check says “BULL$**T.” (The PTB must have been thinking of their boy, Beto.)

While Rep. Gabbard came from a very socially conservative family — and took bigoted, socially conservative positions when she was a teenager and young adult — she has unequivocally repudiated those positions, not just with her words, but with her actions.

During her years as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Tulsi Gabbard has never espoused or defended the regressive views of her youth — quite the opposite. She has a 100% voting record in support of reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights. She supports single-payer/Medicare-for-All healthcare, free tuition for higher education, racial justice, gun control, the Fight for $15, and the Green New Deal…

In fact, Rep. Gabbard supports just about every progressive position going — something the political operatives behind the “anti-progressive Tulsi” smear know all too well (the establishment is rushing to sabotage her candidacy because she’s a progressive who champions policies favored by majorities of Americans… you know, a “far-left radical”).

When it comes to foreign policy, Rep. Gabbard stands head and shoulders above the rest. She is about the only Democrat left who genuinely opposes war. A veteran of the U.S. military who served two tours in Iraq, Gabbard knows, firsthand, how counterproductive and immoral the West’s post-9/11 GWOT has been. In the U.S. Congress, there are no more vocal opponents of the neocon agenda than Rep. Gabbard — which is why our genocidal foreign policy establishment views her as a threat.

Establishment Smear #2: Gabbard is an ally of Narendra Modi, the neo-fascist prime minister of India.

Fact-check says “BULL$**T.”

Rep. Gabbard is the first-ever Hindu member of the U.S. House of Representatives — so yes, she has received donations from Hindu nationalists, including individuals who have also contributed to the Modi. That said, Gabbard doesn’t espouse or defend Hindu nationalist views or Modi’s government (which, conversely, was embraced by President Obama’s administration when Modi was first elected and which continues to boast warm relations with the U.S., now that Donald Trump is in the White House).

The Intercept’s latest anti-Gabbard offensive was neatly dismantled by the article’s “most respected” commenters, including “NavyVeteran,” whose indictment of TI’s xenophobia earned him/her “most respected” comment in the thread:

“I might consider analyzing this article a bit further later, but had to stop and comment on this passage: ‘Nearly one-third of Gabbard’s overall donations — $1.24 million — came from more than 800 individual donors with names, according to an expert consulted by The Intercept, that are of Hindu origin’

“‘Names… that are of Hindu origin’
“‘Names… that are of Hindu origin’
“‘Names… that are of Hindu origin’

“How exactly is this not xenophobic? Are all people with names ‘of Hindu origin’ necessarily Hindu nationalists? Do all people with Hindu sounding names support Modi?”

So much for the smears. Back to the candidate…

If Tulsi Gabbard’s history tells us anything, it’s that she consistently, courageously opposes fascism. Her commitment to democracy helps us understand why she quit the corrupt, primary-rigging DNC in 2016 (at great risk to her future political career). Her opposition to modern fascism is also evident in her crusade to end the bloody neocon wars that have ended millions of lives.

So let’s put the flurry of attacks on Rep. Gabbard in their proper political context:

Gabbard, a U.S. military veteran, is anti-neocon and anti-tyranny, with the battle scars to prove it. She’s risked her political future, more than once, on principle. Furthermore, Gabbard is a charismatic progressive championing the most popular domestic agenda in the country (Bernie Sanders’ agenda)… and she’s just announced her interest in the presidency.

IOW, she is a target.

Over the years, this independent-minded progressive has earned the hatred of our reactionary right-wing (corporate) media and neo-fascist political establishment. The neocons are simply trying to destroy Tulsi Gabbard before her campaign gets any momentum. Too bad that establishment Democrats won’t tolerate an actual progressive as their candidate and have to stoop to such smears.

But after the shenanigans of 2016, nothing should surprise us.

In his latest writing about the brewing 2020 election circus, Pulitzer-winning journalist, lecturer, teacher, and author Chris Hedges continues to demonstrate the remarkable political acumen we’ve come to expect from him:

“The corporate media ignores issues and policies, since there is little genuine disagreement among the candidates, and presents the race as a beauty contest. The fundamental question the press asks is not what do the candidates stand for but whom do the voters like. As for now, Warren—the only nationally known Democrat except Julian Castro to form an exploratory committee for a presidential bid—is not winning this popularity contest. A CNN/Des Moines Register Iowa poll—yes, polling in Iowa already has begun—puts her fourth, with only 8 percent of support among the Democrats surveyed, behind Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke.

“Our corporate rulers do not need to denounce democracy. Democratic laws, such as who can fund campaigns, have been subverted from within, their original purposes redefined by the courts and legislative bodies to serve corporate power.”

[Hedges later resumes his analysis of the corporate media…]

“The goal is entertainment. Politicians who are good entertainers do well. The poor entertainers do badly. The networks seek to attract viewers and increase profits, not disseminate information about political issues. Voters have little or no say in who decides to run, who gets funded, how campaigns are managed, what television ads say, which candidates get covered by the press or who gets invited to presidential debates. They are spectators, pawns used to legitimize political farce.

[And proceeds to quote the acclaimed American political philosopher Sheldon Wolin…]

“’At issue is more than crude bribery,’ the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin writes in ‘Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism.’ ‘Campaign contributions are a vital tool of political management. They create a pecking order that calibrates, in strictly quantitative and objective terms, whose interests have priority. The amount of corruption that regularly takes place before elections means that corruption is not an anomaly but an essential element in the functioning of managed democracy. The entrenched system of bribery and corruption involves no physical violence, no brown-shirted storm troopers, no coercion of the political opposition. While the tactics are not those of the Nazis, the end result is the inverted equivalent. Opposition has not been liquidated but rendered feckless.’”

[Hedges goes on to quote Matt Taibbi, another fairly astute commentator on modern American politics…]

“The differences between the right-wing media and the liberal media are minuscule. As Taibbi writes in ‘Insane Clown President: Dispatches From the 2016 Circus,’ they are ‘really just two different strategies of the same kind of nihilistic lizard-brain sensationalism’… ‘Elections are about a lot of things, but at the highest level, they’re about money,’ Taibbi writes. ‘The people who sponsor election campaigns… want tax breaks, federal contracts, regulatory relief, cheap financing, free security for shipping lanes, anti-trust waivers and dozens of other things… They donate heavily to both parties, essentially hiring two different sets of politicians to market their needs to the population.'”

[No doubt. Hedges concludes with his own observations about the dismal place to which American politics has devolved…]

“Trump is the epitome of the human mutation produced by an illiterate, dumbed-down age of electronic images. He, like tens of millions of other Americans, believes anything he sees on television. He does not read. He is consumed by vanity and the cult of the self. He is a conspiracy theorist. He blames America’s complex social and economic ills on scapegoats such as Mexican immigrants and Muslims, and of course the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party, in turn, blames Trump’s election on Russia and former FBI Director James Comey. It is the theater of the absurd.”