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

Hugo Chavez helped birth a political revolution in Venezuela that has lifted millions out of extreme poverty and given voice to the voiceless, especially minorities and the indigenous. His party drastically reduced infant mortality in Venezuela and educated millions, making Venezuela one of the most literate nations in the Global South, with over 97% literacy for men and women (with women slightly ahead of men, at 97.21%, per UNESCO).

(And those two examples only begin to hint at the legion of reforms and democratization that Chavez initiated.)

His political rivals, representing Venezuela’s entrenched oligarchy (Washington’s clients) repeatedly mocked Chavez as a “monkey” and worse, alluding to his mixed-race, African heritage.

These are the Trump-like figures the U.S. has long supported in Venezuela and South America, generally — those of “pure” European ancestry, willing to be corrupted by foreign interests. Because when it comes to politics, despotic racists are Washington’s favorite South Americans, keen to privatize their nations’ resources on behalf of Western corporations… and Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves.

Do you, too, support these nation plundering, Trump-like figures?

Did you support the military dictatorship in Honduras that murdered environmentalist and indigenous rights activist, Berta Cáceres?

(Because our last president sure did, blessing their coup and isolating the U.S. within the Organization of American States, which had vehemently denounced it.)

Having pulled his country out of utter chaos, Hugo Chavez was overwhelmingly reelected, time and again, in the most transparent, internationally-monitored elections going. Following his untimely and suspicious death (suggesting poisoning, a la Yasser Arafat), Chavez’s successor, Nicholas Maduro, has also been elected repeatedly, as overseen and verified by international monitors.

Former President Jimmy Carter once called Venezuela’s election process “the best in the world.”

(If only my country would conduct its elections in such a transparent, democratic, and open manner! And not just plot, at home and abroad, to overthrow those who win them…)

AND YET, VENEZUELA TODAY IS IN TURMOIL.

Artificial shortages and U.S.-imposed sanctions have nearly broken the society — but not the will of the people. The vast majority of the Venezuelan people refuse to be intimidated by the terrorism and rampant criminality underwritten by Washington.

Even so, many have had to flee their homes. Some will undoubtedly be coming our way. To our border. As immigrants seeking asylum from political terrorism bankrolled by wealthy, racist elites.

U.S. presidents have long supported the Trump-like oligarchs in Venezuela and their violent coup attempts — as in 2002, when Chavez was hauled off by armed thugs, threatening to kill him. The people of Venezuela reversed that coup attempt, which had the fingerprints of the Bush administration all over it (including those of convicted Iran-Contra figures like Elliot Abrams and Otto Reich, who spoke to the coup plotters over a dozen times in the days leading up to their putsch, as was reported in The New York Times).

But Washington’s support for autocratic, racist, humanity-starving regimes is unrelenting.

Now that Trump is in the White House, WON’T YOU PLEASE GIVE A DAMN?

After the 2016 election result, Noam Chomsky called Trump’s conciliatory posture toward Russia “the one ray of light in this gloom.”

America’s preeminent intellectual also noted that the Democrats and corporate media aren’t having any of Trump’s “fairly reasonable” talk of rapprochement with Russia. And he excoriated the Dems for aggressively demanding that Trump adopt a more warlike posture toward Russia.

Over nothing.

Over election hacking claims that are “laughable,” in Chomsky’s words.

(Laughable and unsupported by evidence, at this late date.)

And now, advocating a restored G8 Summit — with Russia readmitted to the group of world leaders — this stupid, repugnant SOB, Trump, persists in his saber-sheathing, trying to pull the world back from the precipice of a world war initiated by his immediate predecessors.

Donald Trump’s deep flaws and repugnant personal traits aside, he IS pushing for peace — here and there, feebly, but persistently — even as he makes various concessions to the warmongers and neocons (just as President Obama did, under enormous institutional pressure to do so, betraying his best instincts).

Rather than supporting Trump’s one sensible impulse — his oft-stated, apparently sincere desire to pull back from a global conflagration — liberal hypocrites may now invoke unsupported “RussiaGate” claims and let their disapprobation flow.

Because divide and conquer works.

Because there’s no such thing as principled opposition anymore.

It’s all about “Good Guys” and “Bad Guys.”

Talk about stupid.

Here’s a little corrective for you: President Obama, as monstrous as his immigration policies were, did not go as far as Donald Trump’s current policy.

From the CNN article — which also debunks liberals’ histrionic claims that Donald Trump has effectively disappeared some 1,500 children:

“…while children have historically been separated from family members at the border under certain circumstances, it was not the same as the new 100% prosecution policy, which affects children even if they come in with parents or legal guardians.”

And to those suffering from TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome), please stop defending the indefensible. Barack Obama’s immigration policies — expanding the use of military-style ICE raids, normalizing abusive for-profit detention centers, advancing the border wall, and ramping up deportations (including deportations of child refugees the U.S. created) — were positively abysmal.

Even if Trump is, in fact, going Obama one further with this particular policy tweak, Donald Trump has a long way to go before catching up to #44, with regard to President Obama’s overall record of brutalizing hundreds of thousands of immigrants.

The moral of the story: This calamity is SO not about personalities, but about where we’ve come as a society.

All of us.

Together.

We’ve gone along with the Democrats’ and GOP’s “tough” sounding rhetoric and anti-immigrant policies for decades now: wall-building, Border Patrol-swelling, home-raiding, mass-imprisoning…

The prescription: We need to focus our energies on how to reverse course.

Step one is leaving partisanship and over-hyped differences about politicians behind. The neo-fascist system that turned Barack Obama into the Deporter-in-Chief is what we need to confront.

Swinging bats at the Trump pinata may be as fun for the left as taking potshots at the Obama pinata was for the right, but we’re allowing Divide and Conquer to make feckless, blame-hurling fools of us all… a society of fiddling Nero’s disinterested in doing anything constructive to address the systemic brutality of our government and institutions.

We perpetually avoid introspection and self-awareness. Because blaming and belittling the other side is so much easier.

But there are “Nazis” aplenty on both sides of the aisle. It’s true that Trump has offended millions. It’s also true that his immediate predecessors murdered millions, particularly Arab Muslims… mostly women and children.

Vilifying one side while absolving the other is an exercise for first-class twits, the ultimate Good Germans, hating on each other while the world comes undone.

What perfect, ghastly reflections of each other we’re becoming.

Per the ever-despicable Donald Trump, immigrant gangs are “animals, not people.”

“NOT PEOPLE.”

(Pretty appalling, Donald.)

And yet, as prone to demagoguery as Trump is, I thought he’d never surpass his Mexican “rapists” claptrap… or, for that matter, this dusty old chestnut (Trumpian, but not actually Trump’s):

“They are not just gangs of kids anymore. They are often… ‘super-predators.’ No conscience, no empathy.”

“NOT… KIDS.”

— One group of gang members, per The Orange Stain on the White House, are “not people.”

— And another group of gang members, per a different demagogue (of a kinder, gentler period, the heyday of The New Jim Crow) were “not… kids,” but apparently something more like… Terminators.

“NO CONSCIENCE, NO EMPATHY.” (Talk of structural racism and inequality can wait. First we have to “bring them to heel.Good doggies!)

“NOT PEOPLE.”

“BRING THEM TO HEEL.”

“NOT… KIDS.”

“NO CONSCIENCE, NO EMPATHY.”

(Tell me about it! “We came, we saw…” we raped an old man to death with a bayonet after shooting and beating him, then displayed his mangled corpse in a shopping mall — ha ha ha ha ha.)

“NO CONSCIENCE, NO EMPATHY.”

…and not a shred of self-awareness from the limousine “left.”

Which basically translates to: NO HOPE.

The following represents my latest attempt at something called Constructive Criticism:

Dear Mike,

While I enjoy your show and often agree with you, I am overall disappointed by THR’s reports for what they lack.

[Subtle, right? Note how I first butter him up with compliments… two whole compliments!]

Please consider covering progressives (Dr. Jill Stein/the Green Party, Democratic Socialists of America, Nick Brana/Movement for a People’s Party, CODE PINK, Black Lives Matter, The Electronic Freedom Foundation, the Standing Rock Sioux, et al.)… at least a third as much as you do the Kabuki theater that is the GOP/Democrat Shuffle… which the corporate MSM already blares at us 24/7.

I appreciate that you present a consistently progressive view when covering the Dog & Pony Show… but you almost make it seem like all of our focus should be on reforming the Democratic Party — as if that “decrepit” and moribund party were progressives’ only hope.

But if these Pentagon-engorging, CIA-Dems are our Ben Kenobi, we are SO fucked.

As the world continues sleepwalking toward WWIII and climate catastrophe, thanks to the actions of Democrats every bit as much as Republicans, I hope you will make an effort to interview the following people:

Col. Ann Wright, Medea Benjamin, Chris Hedges, Kshama Sawant, Glen Ford, Dr. James Hanson, Rhiana Anthony, Margarita Simonyan, George Galloway, Stephen F. Cohen, Coleen Rowley, Mehdi Hasan, Mahmood Mamdani, Phyllis Bennis, Eva Bartlett, David Talbot, Michelle Alexander, Arundhati Roy, Alfred McCoy, Randall Robinson, Caitlin Johnstone, Vanessa Beeley, Rania Khalek, Max Blumenthal, Jeremy Scahill, Ray McGovern, John Pilger, Frances Moore Lappe, Aaron Mate, Lori Wallach…

In my opinion, adding the perspectives of such people will help THR break out of the two-party narrative and consider a more global perspective — at a time when the world is dramatically shrinking.

At a time when such coverage is desperately needed.

My criticism of your show boils down to this: In its present form, THR helps the Democratic Party by consistently reinforcing the LOTE trope and duopoly thinking.

And what are some of the consequences of duopoly thinking in the Trump era?

Trump, the ultimate man-child/buffoon president (in way over his giant, pea-brained head) has been bludgeoned relentlessly, since his election, by the deep state, particularly through our CIA-dominated political-media establishment.

Consider the results: Instead of Flynn, we have Bolton. Instead of Tillerson, Pompeo. And Gen. Mattis is being sidelined.

The neocons have clearly won.

And it’s the Democrats, “liberal” media, and a traumatized left that have helped propel the neocons back into power, better positioned than they’ve been since the Bush days.

Stunned at the 2016 election result, a severely rattled left unthinkingly facilitated the (election-nullifying) return-to-power of the neocons — the worst global mass-murderers since the Nazis.

“Donald Tiny Hands/Pee Pee Trump vs. The Mueller Investigation” is a xenophobic, pornographic sideshow for tabloid news followers, at best.

“Stormy” whatnot.

But beyond the lurid sideshow, there is an establishment-coopted Trump.

Broken in, like Obama before him.

There is danger in that, of course: a neoconservative Donald Trump.

But there is also opportunity for progressives. An establishment-coopted Trump gives what remains of the true left something to rally against.

The neocons’ wars and neo-McCarthyism are increasingly Trump’s own. They will drag him down as much as they did Bush/Cheney… as much as they’ve dragged down the Democratic Party.

The left has an opportunity here, which the deep state foresaw. That is why they opposed Trump: unlike Barack Obama, Donald Trump is an atrocious front man for empire.

It’s time to admit that #DemEnter has proven to be a fool’s errand, and “Justice Democrats” are worth no more than the “Progressive” Caucus. Both factions, however pleasing their rhetoric, perpetually ignore corruption at the highest levels, refusing to aggressively take on the warmongers, neocons, primary-riggers, and Russiagaters pushing the country toward WWIII.

So far as #DemEnter, good progressives, like yourself, have made an admirable effort — which in January of 2017, I too endorsed — but that effort has failed.

The Democratic Party has demonstrated that it will continue rigging primaries and cheating progressives at every opportunity: Levi Tillemann was cheated, just as Tim Canova was cheated, just as Bernie was cheated, just as CADEM Chair election-winner Kimberly Ellis was cheated, just as Keith Ellison for DNC Chair was cheated… and on and on it goes.

And now we learn that the DNC is still, in 2018, funneling money to the Clintons!

And that Bill Clinton told DNC Chair, Tom Perez, to use his office to prevent progressives from rising within the party.

Pelosi and other Democratic leaders now openly admit that choosing nominees — before voters do in a fair primary — is desirable, fine, only natural in the real world.

Now, that is corruption beyond redemption.

This neoconservative, neo-McCarthyite Democratic Party — well to Trump’s RIGHT on several issues (at least back when he was elected) — no longer has a place for liberals, let alone progressives.

The closer we examine these Democrats, the more we see them as mirror images of Trump and the Republicans. They are institutionally racist, sexist, warmongering, hostile to democracy and the rule of law – all that we can say about the GOP, in spades.

Democrats have told us that we can vote for them, but no more. We can expect no meaningful role in their party, which belongs to Wall Street, plutocrats, fossil fuels, and modern fascists.

They have demonstrated that they will blatantly rig elections before allowing anyone remotely liberal to hold office.

It’s time to stop giving them so much of your heart and soul, Mike.

It’s time to move on.

Invitation2Artivism: This Time It’s Personal…

A SPACE-OPERA INTERLUDE — Part 1

A long time ago, in the Milky Way galaxy, I participated in THE cultural event of the latter portion of the 20th century.

It was 1977.

I was 10 years old and long overdue for the first genuine religious experience of my young life (sorry, Father P, but the hardest shoulder-squeeze in the universe did not introduce me to Jesus).

It happened at the Cine Capri Theater, a “movie house” our family had never gone to before. The Cine Capri was a good deal further than the theaters we normally went to — and, once inside, surprisingly ornate and fancy, with ginormous gold curtains majestically parting across the broadest pale-white football field of a movie screen I’d ever seen.

“Jumbo,” I gasped, still marveling at the elegance of the massive, self-folding curtains, neatly drawn to the sides of the screen’s end zones.

(Back then, there weren’t ads on the screen at all times. Were there previews? There must have been. But forty years later I have very little recollection of the events that came immediately before seeing… Star Wars. I barely even remember waiting outside the Cine Capri, in the Arizona heat, in the unprecedentedly long ticket line, which wrapped around the building and continued down the block… and the next block.)

Ensconced, at long last, in my luxurious/fancy movie theater seat, the mega-screen before me was soon filled with the blackness of outer space, scattered stars (very realistic, I thought), and bold, scrolling text — and my ears were filling with glorious, blaring, symphonic music (very rousing).

Before I knew what was happening, wave after electrifying wave (of midichlorians, I think) was rippling over and through me as I — gapingly, gogglingly, greedily — took in my very first Star Destroyers, BANTHAS, Artoo Detoo (C3PO/droids), jawas, tusken raiders, X-wings, the Death Star (that’s no moon), dewbacks, Greedo (“I’ve been looking forward to this a long time”), Gov. (Peter Cushing) Tarkin (a Grand Moff, if ever there was; pre-digitalization), DARTH FLIPPIN’ VADER!!!, the Millenium Falcon, hologram chess monsters duking it out, an awesome cantina band, blasters, lightsabers, the most “wretched hive of scum and villainy” I would ever find, Tie Fighters, CHEWBACCA the 200-year old WOOKIEE, one of cinema’s only self-rescuing princesses (and quite a lady, so far as this 10-year old was concerned), OBI-WAN Kenobi (“Old Ben?” “How many Kenobis do we know, Luke?”), Han (“He certainly has courage”) Solo, and Luke “Two-Sun,” “Womp Rat” Skywalker (“Huh?”)…

Fuckin’ A (and I didn’t even know that expression in those innocent days of tetherball, 3-Flies-Up, and marbles) — but the midichlorians made me feel it.

“Fuckin’ A,” said my youngling heart, gut, hypothalamus, spine, and everything else above and below the waistline.

Fuckin’ A!!! (Aka, “WwwowiewowWowWOW! Thanks SO much for taking us to this, Mom and Dad!”)

Certainly, STAR WARS was the best thing ever — way better than church, and yet proof that there really was a God… and God’s name was The Force.

(Sacrilege, I know, but I had to eventually move past my previous gods — Archosauria, Jehovah… and Godzilla, King of the Monsters, gifted to humanity by Ishiro Honda and Toho Studios, bless their hearts.)

With the events of 1977, everything had changed.

(They should’ve junked the Gregorian calendar, then and there, and started fresh.)

Now, there were Wookiees in the world.

And much, much, much, much more.

“Ootini!”

What a Christmas I was in for (hello, Lucas merchandising!)…

*          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

Flash forward to Christmas 1977:

I’m absolutely devastated. The presents have all been opened, and apparently I’ve been the victim of an unfathomably cruel practical joke. I can’t quite figure it, but at this point I’m no longer waiting for my parents to announce that they’re putting us on.

This shit’s really happened. This is for real…

My younger sister, Bunky, has opened one Star Wars figure after another. She’s even got a frikkin’ Landspeeder… and she didn’t even LOVE the film! She liked it some — not a lot.

And I’m sitting on the floor with an orange Matchbox car, four new pairs of socks, and a crap-farting (st)Retch Armstrong doll. (That sucker was jelly in no-time.)

On the surface, I was calm — or blank-faced, at least — but inside, I was… imploding.

My thoughts were neither jolly nor festive.

What the HECK, Mom and Dad, do you even know me, at all???? My life was changed by the movie — not Lynne’s! I’ve been drawing STAR WARS for the last 13 weeks, ever since we saw the… flippity, mickeyf@ckity, GD, crappp—–aaaaarrrrgh!

As we tidied up the living room before transitioning to Christmas dinner, I remained outwardly serene and courteous. No matter how disappointed I was, I knew better than to voice my displeasure or make any kind of scene. The former would be seen as ungrateful, and the latter was punishable by death.

Long story short, it would take several weeks’ allowance to purchase all of those intergalactic Lucasfilm treasures from dear Bunky — who was a shrewd operator, even at 9 years old. She’d gotten what she wanted for Christmas: the upper hand.

She had no particular attachment to her Star Wars merchandise, but nor was she interested in trading it all away for some used socks and Stretch Armstrong-jelly.

I wanted the figures, and she wanted cold, hard cash.

(And I thought I was going to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters! No, sir.)

Addendum (9/2/18): I actually didn’t fare so poorly on subsequent birthdays and Christmases (Mom and Dad soon put it together that I was, as they would put it, “batshit insane” for Star Wars… and dinosaurs):

A SPACE-OPERA INTERLUDE (because man cannot live on politics alone)