Creating a better world through words and images

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

Imagine it’s the 1970s and you’re a very confused Lincoln/Eisenhower Republican, upset that “purists” are leaving the party in droves. You argue that the sensible, tolerant right needs to be “united,” because you believe that the GOP is still the party of Emancipation and federalizing the Arkansas National Guard in order to protect black schoolchildren… when, in truth, the GOP has become the party of the Southern Strategy. Racist “Dixiecrats” have flooded into the party, which no longer stands for civil rights.

You were fighting for something that no longer existed. You were actually fighting for the opposite of your values.

The point is, political parties can change. (Not that the GOP recently has: they remain a mob of dangerous demagogues and corporate tools, with the Southern Strategy having metastasized into something truly terrifying.)

The lesson for 2017: Because today’s progressives desperately want to see the left “united,” some liberals are arguing that we ignore the fact that Wall Street and the genocidal neocons have taken over the leadership of the Democratic Party.

BUT IGNORING THAT REALITY WON’T RESTORE OR “UNITE” THE LEFT. (In fact, there’s a good chance that it will finish us off.)

If #DemEnter fails because authoritarian Democratic Party officials continue to shut down democracy at the state and national level, rigging one election after another for unbridled corporatists — 2016 primary, DNC Chair, CADEM Chair — then progressives will have no choice but to #DemExit, en masse. (And make no mistake, that’s just what we’ll do.)

Because the alternative will be to continue offering our support to a formerly liberal party comprised of climate-fracking, ocean-drilling, bloody Wall Street neocons who have demonstrated, time and again, that they are utterly hostile to democracy, the environment, and human rights.

And unconditionally supporting the far-right, Brand D (whatever they’re masquerading as, with their hollow Identity Politics) isn’t exactly the best way to revive the left.

Only reforming the party will do that.

“...(Bernie) would have won the Democratic nomination if it hadn’t been for the SHENANIGANS of the party managers.”

Hearing it from DNC Chair, Tom Perez, was one thing, but I feel extra-vindicated, somehow, hearing America’s most celebrated intellectual and leftist, Prof. Noam Chomsky, call “shenanigans” on the vote-suppressing farce that was the 2016 Democratic Primary.

RE: DEFEATING DONALD TRUMP AND THE GOP

If we don’t reform this broken and corrupted system, the Democrats will continue selecting right-wing corporate hacks for “nominees” and LOSING ELECTIONS to appalling Republican candidates like Donald Trump (and worse than Trump, eventually). And they will continue sabotaging the candidacies of actual liberals who promise to bring the party back from the dead and win elections.

So, if we’re not #DemEXIT-ing and going Green/Democratic Socialist/ independent/whatever, then we sure as hell need to demand — like true, firebrand progressives — that the Democratic Party does away with closed primaries and super-delegates. And mandates a re-vote for any county or state that closes more than half of its polling stations on election day or refuses to release raw vote totals — or refuses to conduct audits when exit polls are suspiciously far off the officially reported vote counts. We need to insist that the DNC schedules more than a handful of strictly controlled debates (with real journalists moderating, next time). And it must prohibit money-laundering schemes that starve down-ballot Democrats of funds while lavishing funds on the candidate at the top of the ticket. And the DNC must address blatant voter-disenfranchising, rat-f’g bias coming from unscrupulous party officials (in a way that prevents such conduct in the future, costing the beneficiary delegates, for instance; the DNC needs to do better than fire corrupt officials after the damage is done, once the primary has been safely rigged).

We also need to demand that the party embrace a strong progressive agenda, including Medicare-for-All, free college, and a $15 min. wage — an agenda supported by strong majorities of the American public.

Either the Democratic Party does these things and begins restoring the credibility of the nominal left, or they should simply admit that they have no more interest in defeating Trump than they do in conducting fair and transparent elections — and they’re just playing us for fools.

I just had to explain who Condoleezza Rice is to some poor fellow under the impression that she is some kind of model American who served her country well. Here’s my corrective, taking us back to those innocent “pre-fascist” days when the U.S. invaded Iraq on the basis of a bunch of cynically concocted hooey…

With respect, as NSA and as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice was in the inner circle of a neoconservative cabal executing that faction’s long-articulated policy of regime-change in Iraq — requiring a U.S. military presence in Iraq even in the event that Saddam Hussein abdicated and left the country or was assassinated. As Gen. Wesley Clark described in detail, the neocons made clear in late 2001 their plans to invade/effect regime-change in seven Muslim nations in the coming years (all of which the U.S. is presently bombing or supporting coups in).

Bob Woodward’s series of “Bush at War” books corroborates what’s been written elsewhere by Pulitzer-winning journalists: the agenda was regime-change, “the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.” Rice, Rumsfeld, and Cheney were at the heart of the propaganda machine, along with Karl Rove and a few others.

Not only were they distorting intelligence as public cheerleaders for the invasion — of a helpless nation that had not attacked us and posed no threat — they were regularly visiting CIA analysts in order to pressure them to cherry-pick and skew the intelligence. The New York Times and Washington Post reported their extraordinary conduct as a virtual war with the CIA, with politicos leaning on analysts in order to manufacture a bogus case for war.

And we should never forget: We’re talking about a case for war that was being consciously manufactured and debunked in real-time. Colin Powell disgustedly threw out a great deal of the “case for war” speech that the Bushies, including Rice, wanted him to present to the United Nations, referring to it as “shit.” Furthermore, DCI George Tenet never actually told Dubya that the case for war was “a slam dunk,” rather he said that it would be a “slam dunk” to repackage their doubt-plagued and largely fabricated case in a way that would make it more marketable to the public: “Put some lipstick on this pig, boss? That’s a slam dunk!”

Condoleezza Rice was chief among those who disregarded the conclusions of the experts, including our best nuclear weapons experts (those at the Energy Department) who told the Bush warmongers that Saddam’s aluminum tubes were undoubtedly for conventional rockets — and very ill-suited for the “mushroom cloud” producing weapon the administration kept threatening us with. Like the “yellowcake” uranium story, it was a 100% manufactured claim, an obvious forgery.

As has been documented in a number of highly acclaimed books on the subject, Rice stuck with Bush/Cheney and their whole genocidal neocon enterprise every systemically-torturing, mass-murdering, election-rigging, assassinating, slave-employing, chemical weapon-using, journalist-murdering step of the way.

If there were any justice in this world, Condoleezza Rice would be at The Hague, along with George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Henry Kissinger, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama (whose crimes you probably are equally ignorant of).

BUT HERE IS THE PLAIN TRUTH: Millions of Iraqis were murdered by President Clinton and George Bush, between draconian, potable water-denying sanctions and the U.S. war of aggression (the most heinous war crime of all, under the Nuremberg Principles). That is what the history shows.

And we need to be cognizant of that history — not bury it alive, as our major law enforcement, political, and journalistic institutions have tried to do. Because as James Baldwin and Martin Luther King warned us, our silence toward injustice is something that threatens us all, endangering the nation, as it does our souls. There are no victors when heinous crimes go unacknowledged.

And the survivors are dead inside.

I ASK YOU: Don’t you think I’d rather spend all of my days painting (for more than a few hours/day, a few days/week), and reading LITERATURE every day (instead of news, history, and political theory, 90% of the time), and writing fantasy yarns and humorous anecdotes (rather than heart-on-sleeve, indignation-fueled polemics)?

Don’t you imagine I’d rather be reading Shakespeare and Dostoevsky, and bowling and body-surfing, and pestering all the people I love with trivial nonsense — any number of pursuits, glorious and mundane — instead of devoting the bulk of my adult life to obsessively informing myself and subsequently hyperventilating to the World Wide Void (and occasionally, to my friends and loved ones) about the dangers of unquestioning partisanship and placing one’s trust in the corporate media?

(That would be the same corporate MSM that’s been keeping us divided and conquered while the oceans turn to acid.)

But check this shit out: http://www.salon.com/2017/04/30/its-the-end-of-the-world-and-we-know-it-scientists-in-many-disciplines-see-apocalypse-soon

Conceding that I can be overly strident, at times, the above-linked Salon.com article offers a glimpse into that which has motivated my activism for many years: the scientifically valid proposition that humanity could be facing an imminent cataclysm, including, potentially, the end of our civilization (if not in our own lifetimes, then in our children’s or grandchildren’s — who knows precisely when?).

But after 20 years of voracious news consumption, the concept that has become inescapable to me is that of the TIPPING POINT. On many fronts, from matters of democracy and the rule of law to the future habitability of the planet, the ever-ignored experts — including our most noted scholars, scientists, and academics (virtually disappeared from the corporate media) — have been describing system after system at risk of collapse… or in the process of collapsing. Some quite precipitously, fast outstripping what were previously considered “worst-case” scenarios.

The tipping points are all around us.

At the very least, it is certain that our country’s prospects are swirling down the drain, faster with each passing president since Nixon, ironically. Whatever happens with the climate, our nation’s crack-up, including the collapse of most sectors of our economy, can’t be far off. A matter of years, rather than decades.

Although it shouldn’t need saying, making observations about the rotted foundations of our hollowed-out economy is not akin to succumbing to the manufactured hysteria about our national debt. The public sphere — from schools and libraries to voting systems to the U.S. Postal Service — is withering after a bipartisan assault of several decades. Our infrastructure is decrepit and largely failing. Now that the middle class has been decimated, the majority of Americans are just one medical emergency away from bankruptcy, with less than $500 in savings. Much of our farmland and soil have been devastated, as have small farms, thanks to monopolistic and ecologically reckless corporate agribusinesses. They’re wiping out our pollinators (bees and butterflies) — as other corporate profiteers empty our groundwater… while whole communities drink carcinogenic and lead-tainted water, thanks to the utter corruption of our government.

Our last two presidents, Bush and Obama, effectively repealed habeas corpus and “legalized” assassination, indefinite detention, torture, and the hunting of whistleblowers and journalists like enemies of the state. Today, Donald Trump promises to further expand this terrifying trend.

But if we can restore to the U.S.A. some semblance of a law-respecting, reasonably democratic republic, we might still have a chance to mitigate some potentially horrific futures. We might even avert the worst potential outcomes and save billions of lives… if only by averting World War III.

If it weren’t for the scope of the peril we’re all in, I’M SURE I WOULD STOP PLAYING THE GADFLY WITH “POLITICS” SO RELENTLESSLY (and would call my friends on the phone, more often, frequently suggesting get-togethers over: libations, victuals, entertainment, hikes, kite-flying, dog-walking, bowling, Dostoevsky…).

But we all do what we must. I just hope someone’s listening, out there. Because this is one “Cassandra” who’s getting sick and tired of making the right calls, years in advance, while my people get herded like doomed lemmings, divided and conquered by politicians and media hacks with the ethics and morals of Nazis.

Yes, THE END IS NIGH! But maybe it doesn’t have to be… which is why I continue to bother with this kind of writing. Perhaps all we have to do is stop listening to the hucksters who brought us here. That would at least represent a step in the right direction.

This is what tragedy looks like: A bellicose, belligerent idiot-naif of a president getting cowed and broken in his First 100 Days in office — outflanked and absorbed by the machinery of fascism — with his base singing his praises, as if he were still the anti-establishment person he campaigned as. Only he’s not (aside from the demagoguery). And whaddaya’ know, not only has he NOT “drained the swamp” of Washington, DC, he’s actually elevated some of the worst bloodsuckers and gators the damn swamp held!

To what effect?

— He’s not talking about detente with Russia anymore.

— Or restoring Glass-Steagall, a major pillar of how the United States prevented bank panics for nearly half a century.

— He’s no longer promising to keep the parts of the Affordable Care Act (aka, Obama/RomneyCare) that actually help people, such as the provisions that track what was once known as the “Patient’s Bill of Rights.”

— He’s done saying nice things about Planned Parenthood and the vital healthcare it provides to “millions of millions of women.”

— He’s retreated from his major campaign plank of repealing NAFTA (after capitalizing on the political “gimme” Obama bequeathed him as he exited, allowing Trump to take credit for clobbering the morally atrocious, economically inimical, and politically unpopular TPP).

— And now he’s attacking net neutrality (what an ‘effing jerk, am I right?).

But most significant of all, Trump has gone from the genocidal neocons’ most feared and hated politician to their increasingly obedient minion. First, the MIC eliminated Gen. Flynn (a flawed man who had grown sick of providing al Qaeda with an air force), then they threatened Sessions’ job and warned Tillerson, too, and they have since proceeded to point the Orange Dummy in the directions of Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, and beyond…

Mother of All Bombs away! “WMD” claims (sans evidence) away! Rattle the sabers! Needlessly provoke North Korea and China!

*               *               *

And the worst part of this tragedy, from my perspective, is what has happened to the former left. Millions of good-hearted, left-leaning, intelligent, and educated Americans have failed to see that what is happening to Trump also happened to “the best president in (their) lifetimes,” Barack Hussein Obama.

But it’s been like watching an instant replay. Deja vu, all over again…

Although 2008 Obama was no Bernie Sanders, his “Hopey/Changey” rhetoric (like Trump’s) did make some in the establishment squirm. Neither Wall Street nor the neocons hoped for the Bush/Cheney policies to change — they simply required a new Charlatan in Chief for those policies to flourish under.

The oligarchs needed a reliable myrmidon and hoped that Obama would be up to the job, but they didn’t completely trust him. Because even though he let a former Citigroup executive select his first cabinet (a parade of scumbags), it seemed possible back in 2008-09 that President Obama actually had an iota of interest in real change. (And for my money, they weren’t wrong: Obama did have that iota of interest… it just never amounted to anything, because he never fought for it. By the time he left office, America’s most vulnerable communities had been devastated, and 95% of economic gains had been sucked up by the vampiric top 1% — the plunder was complete.)

But that’s getting into the minutiae.

Mostly, what close observers witnessed in Obama’s First 100 Days as president is astonishingly similar to what has happened with Donald Trump: The establishment has co-opted our new president completely.

Under Barack, the far-right’s corporatist coup would be consummated. He would succeed where “Dubya” had failed: cutting Medicare and Social Security (making him the first to successfully breach the legendary “Third Rail of American Politics”); transferring $16 trillion to the crooks who’d crashed the world’s economy; normalizing assassination; ending habeas corpus; and all but extinguishing press freedom (prosecuting more whistleblowers and journalists under The Espionage Act than all previous presidents combined).

Today, the same thing has happened to President Trump, a patently irresponsible nitwit, with a “tiny hands” complex, drenched in imaginary Russian whiz. They’ve even got the bozo attacking the journalists at WikiLeaks, an indispensable news organization which he was praising not long ago.

[Since 9/11, our rapaciously corrupt establishment has been courting a new world war, acting with extraordinary aggression, on virtually every front. And now the nominal left is relentlessly prodding Trump to get with that program (like Obama before him), haranguing him to reverse himself on what Noam Chomsky has called the one ray of light” Trump offered — rapprochement with Russia.]

And because the left has been so ugly and reactionary in its response to Trump’s election — desperate for any way to delegitimize him — we’ve actually managed to get his base to rally around him, just as he is breaking his best promises to them. (Just as the right’s irrational Obama-hatred in 2009 compelled us to rally around our new president, just as he was breaking all of his best promises to us.)

And that’s how we came to be in the political wilderness, my fellow lefties. We’ve been gullibly following the deep state’s playbook, for partisan reasons, filling the warmongering space to Trump’s right, demanding that he succumb to the whims of the Military Industrial Complex. And now he’s buckled, threatening to live up to our worst fears about his presidency (which means he’s finally become “presidential,” in the eyes of our lunatic establishment).

And we “liberals” — including some damn fine progressive organizations and individuals — helped that happen.

This is exactly what TRAGEDY looks like.

Fart 1

A very long time ago, taking a one-year leave of absence from college, I found myself living with my slightly younger sister (“Bunky” from here on) in her very first house, which she shared with two other single mothers. (Happily, there was a fourth bedroom for me to inhabit… which I shared with Rosie, my sister’s Great Dane-Rottweiler mix… who was also my sweetie. And, yes, it was quite “serious.”)

You might think I felt entitled to stay under Bunky’s roof, since her dog was in love with me and since I’d lent her the money for the down payment on that house. But in truth, I did not feel thusly entitled. Bunky, my close sibling and pal, had paid me back lickety-split and had not left me in the lurch (for that little nest-egg was my Future College Moolah, the result of three years of scrapin’ and slavin’ in banks, offices, and restaurants in Arizona, California, and Chicago, Illinois).

The real reason I stayed with Bunky and her charming barely-toddler, my fantastic nephew (“Scrappy-Doo,” from this point forward), was because there was no place, in the whole, wide world, I would rather have been (as long as school was on hold, anyway).

Bunky and I had always been close, and I absolutely loved her kiddo — and the truth is, “Scrappy” loved the heck out of his goofy, clearly artistic uncle (“Spazmodius Rex” from here on in, for narrative purposes). What fun we had, the wee lad and I, playing “King Kong” and “Hoo-Ah!” — and going on “Poo-poo Expeditions” in the back yard (the kid was an enthusiastic and superb “spotter” during clean-up ops… Oh, dogs!).

INVITATION TO ARTIVISM: This time it’s PERSONAL...

As housemate to three sets of single moms and wee ones, I tried to make myself useful: I bought groceries, cooked meals, and cleaned on a regular basis… like the damn maid, if you must know (Bunky has always left a pile of dirty dishes in her wake). Working opposite shifts from my kid sis (6-8 years older than I, in Maturity Years), I managed to take on much of Scrappy’s daily care, changing his cloth diapers, feeding him nutriments, and often putting him down for the night (it never took more than three tranquilizer darts and a lullaby).

But mostly I spent all that time with Scrappy because I was having the time of my life with the kid. And with my sis. And her best friend, “Banana” (hi, Banana).

By Jiminy, those were good times!

End Part 1

SNEAK PREVIEW: In Fart 2, “Rex” (your not all that humble narrator) learns that not everyone shares his political/philosophical convictions!