Archive for the ‘ rant ’ Category

The New Game

“None of you understand. I’m not locked up in here with YOU. You’re locked up in here with ME.”

-Rorscach in Watchmen
(and, also, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez)


Look, here’s the Truth: Donald Trump didn’t win the 2016 election. Yeah, yeah, whine all you want. It’s true and this is how history will remember it: He was installed by Russia.

Just wait and see. Any day now will come the revelation that all that stolen Facebook data from Cambridge Analytica made its way to the Russian troll farms so that they could target just the right right-wing rubes (and, in fairness, to keep enough left-wing dingbats away from the polls) to swing just enough counties to “hack” our Electoral College (even if they didn’t literally hack voting machines, which they very well might have) and steal the presidency while losing the popular vote by millions.

That’s how it happened, people. Somewhere in your hearts, you all know it’s true.

But here’s the other thing: A lot of people did vote for Trump.

This train wreck of a human being should never have been within twenty percentage points of winning, but he was.

Some Republicans voted for him because he won their party’s ticket and they didn’t want another Clinton presidency. Some misogynists voted for him because they didn’t want Shrillary in office.

But a lot of others voted for him because he was an outsider, because they thought he would “shake up the system.” (Well, la-dee-da, mother-fuckers. You sure got your wish.)

So this is where we are.

We have a profligate liar in the White House who has completely demolished all the norms of our political discourse and derailed the way our system has functioned for decades.

For better or for worse, Trump has changed the game…forever.

Enter Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

This up-start, improbable Congresswoman from the Bronx has made a lot of waves, spurring on primary challenges (like her own) to entrenched and well-established Democrats to try to advance a radical, progressive agenda. Like Trump, she uses Twitter in unapologetic defense of her policies and office, but unlike Trump, she’s whip-smart and thick-skinned.

AOC is playing the new game.

Now, of course, comes the chorus of voices telling her to slow down, to check herself, to listen to all these staid and world-wise figures who’ve been in Congress for decades and wait her turn.

“She needs to decide: Does she want to be an effective legislator or just continue being a Twitter star?There’s a difference between being an activist and a lawmaker in Congress,” one said, ignoring that we have a so-called president who has maintained his support and even set policy via Twitter. (When I read this, I think of the Parkland kids. Their phenomenal success across the country in sponsoring gun control bills at the state level proves, to me, that activism is the best way to make law in this country.)

Or take Whoopi Goldberg’s on-air castigation: “Sit still…learn the job.”

All due respect, Guinan. She’s not there to learn the job. She’s there to remake it.

Everyone asking AOC to cool her jets is hoping that once we get rid of Trump, politics can go back to the old rules of empowered interests guarding their little lots with paid-for politicians griping over marginal interests as a theater of distraction.

“Those…fools want you gone so they can get back to the way things were. But I know the truth: there’s no going back. You’ve changed things…forever.”

Trump is a paradigm shift. He’s torn down our country’s good name and damaged our economy (Oh, you think things are going great? Wait for that deficit to implode.) and destabilized the world at large (which is what Russia paid for…imagine it: after we bankrupted them in the Cold War by spending trillions on defense and missile shield technology, they have–for a price less than a fighter jet–ruined us for god-knows-how-long).

But he’s also torn down the established political order with him. The Republican party as it was is no more. Now it is a cult of personality with some old dogs following the pack they no longer understand.

The Democrats can either be burned down along with their right-wing cronies or they can pass through this and stake out new territory on the opposite side of the Trumpocalypse.

Ocasio-Cortez gets it. Her policies are exactly what we need to reassert American prosperity and greatness in the 21st century and, what’s more, she sees the lay of the land and understands just how much has changed.

Pelosi has been a highly effective Speaker and a highly effective minority leader for more than a decade. I don’t want to diminish her accomplishments as Speaker.

But that was another era.

If she wants her party to lead America out of this nightmare, she and the caucus are the ones who should sit down and learn the new game.



Listen, America, This Is How It Is…

Trump must lose.

That’s it. That’s all that matters in this election anymore.

Trump must lose.

Why? There are so many reasons, really. But let’s put aside his race baiting, his sexism, his documented corruption, his constant lying, his narcissism, his ties to Russia.

Trump must lose to keep any hope alive for American democracy.

Trump must lose because he is a textbook demagogue in the making.

He is actively undermining democracy by calling the whole process into question simply because he is down in the polls. He has suggested that libel laws should be tightened to keep the press from reporting on him. He does not believe in democracy. A man who does not believe in democracy must not be our president.

Trump must lose so that the politics of fear will lose.

Trumps must not only lose. He must lose BIG.

His defeat must be epic. Unprecedented. He must be crushed so that this brand of politics goes permanently into the ashbin of history.

I don’t care what your pet issue is. Democracy itself is more important.

Abortion? He doesn’t care. He was on the record as “pro-choice” for years and years until he decided he might want to run as a Republican. Honestly, look at this man’s track record with women and adultery. You telling me he hasn’t personally paid for a few abortions? Hasn’t pressured mistresses into getting them.

Forget it. Democracy itself is more important.

Immigration? It’s a strawman. Immigrants aren’t stealing your jobs. Net immigration from Mexico is now zero. Inequality, globalization, and corporate citizenship are stealing your jobs. Trump is the last man to fight for you on that front. His assault on immigrants is textbook demagoguery. Really, look it up in any textbook. Attack the outsider, the other, the scapegoat. That’s how it always starts.

Forget it. Democracy itself is more important.

ISIS? You may not have noticed, but we’re already kicking their asses. And we’re doing it without getting sucked into another Vietnam-esque miasma in Iraq. They’re not a threat to our way of life unless we abandon our way of life by surrendering to fear and hatred.

Democracy itself is more important than all of it, and that’s why Trump must lose.

I don’t care if you think Hillary is the most corrupt politician in Washington (she isn’t–millions of dollars in investigations and nothing’s stuck). She is not worse that Trump. Repeat after me: She is not worse than Trump. Even if you think she represents everything wrong with the system, she is still not worse than Trump. As evidence: All the historically Republican newspapers endorsing her. All the actual Republicans endorsing her.

Trump must lose and he must lose big. We must crush him at the polls.

Go vote. Go now. Go on November 8th. But go and vote against Trump.

America must denounce his cynical abuse of democracy to advance his own ego. America must reject the politics of fear in favor of some hope, hope that we can still make progress together, that our system is not so broken that the only option is to nuke it with an orange-coiffed buffoon.

No, America, Trump must lose.


So Maybe I Was Wrong…


People, $#!% has just gotten real.

Like, really real.

So a few weeks ago I was arguing that a Trump presidency–while terrible, horrible, no good, very bad–would not be the end of the world.

Yeah, so, about that…

This week, evidence is strongly pointing to Russian involvement in the hack of the DNC e-mails. Now today, Hillary’s campaign has also been hacked. (By the way, a huge “screw you” to Julian Assange for turning WikiLeaks into a puppet of Russian oligarchy.)

We all know that the Donald has a man-crush on Putin for being such a strong man, but there is now mounting evidence that he is actually committed to pro-Russia positions should the skies bleed red and the dead rise again to reclaim the earth–er, I mean, “should he be elected.”

Not only has Trump insinuated that his commitment to NATO would not be absolute and that he would try to instill some kind of “pay to play” policy for how committed to our allies’ defense we would be, but his campaign also made one important objection to the Republican party platform.

And I do mean “one.” As in, this is the only thing that his campaign objected to.

They refused to let the Republican party commit itself to the defense of Ukraine.

You see the picture connecting these dots creates?

Not only is Trump intent on becoming an American demagogue, he apparently wants to align our nation with its traditional rival and allow Russia to assert a stronger sphere of influence.

Is this what the party of Reagan wants? Is this the world order they want to establish?

Russia restored to its imperial glory in the shadow of a waning America bent on isolationism?

Now, I’m a strong critic of American imperialism, but I’d still rather see a world dominated by American power than by Putin’s increasingly repressive oligarchy.

So, American conservatives? What will you do now? Vote against another American century?

Trump’s joke the other day may not have actually been treason, but the position he is taking on the future of Europe sure is.

#BlackLivesMatter and #WeStandWithDallas

I saw Snoop Dogg on TV the other day, marching for unity and dialogue in the face of all this terrible violence.

So, yeah, Snoop Dogg gets it.

Snoop Dogg.

Hell, the other day my family watched Zootopia (Don’t ask why, because I don’t know; I’d thought my days of being subjected to slick animated features were behind me.) and that flick gets it, too.

That movie’s theme is all about divisiveness only serving the interests of authoritarianism.

A frickin’ Disney movie.

It’s not that hard to get, really.

But America doesn’t seem to be able to collectively wrap its brain around this mess.

And yeah, I know it’s not as simple as marching in L.A. and having rappers talk to police chiefs. It’s sure not as simple as cartoon bunnies uniting with cartoon foxes to save the day.

It’s a maelstrom of identity politics, the historical trajectory of racism, the evolutionary psychology of toxic masculinity and gun fetishism all swirling together like the wake of some Lovecraftian monstrosity.

I do get that. I do.

But it’s also simpler.

It’s as simple as this:

The injustices done by some police officers do not justify the horrible, murderous violence being directed at officers in general and the violence directed at those officers does not invalidate or negate the merits of the protestors’ purpose in speaking out against injustice.

Look, white privilege and institutional racism are real. You only have to look at the facts. Black men and people of color are more likely to be stopped, more likely to be arrested, more likely to be charged, more likely to be indicted, more likely to be convicted, more likely to be given harsh sentences–and yes, more likely to be shot while unarmed–than whites.

You can control for whatever variables you want and that fact will still be there.

And you know what, I’m willing to entertain the idea that not every cop who has shot an unarmed civilian was a monster, was evil.

Some of these guys were probably scared. Some of them made a terrible decision, and it probably haunts them.

The solution is not demonizing all cops. And if anyone carrying a banner for Black Lives Matter has done that (and we know some have) then they shouldn’t.

That’s all. They shouldn’t do that. Don’t demonize them either. (We can demonize Micah Johnson. Knock yourself out.)

But again, let’s be clear: the problem with police brutality and unjustified police shootings is not a problem of a few decent cops making mistakes, it is not a case of a few bad apples that just need to be rooted out, and it certainly is not a story of people just doing their jobs.

It is a systemic problem and we as a society need to address it.

Backlashers want to shift the attention to the violence directed against cops.

You know what? I think we, as a nation, can maybe pay attention to two different problems at once.

And that’s what these are (despite what my local police chief thinks): two different problems.

If you want to talk about the actions of Micah Johnson and others who have attacked police officers, then we need to talk about guns again.

Yes, guns.

Because–did you know this–there’ve been studies that show that men are more aggressive and belligerent after just handling a gun.

So the whole “guns don’t kill people, people do” has got to go. Anyone with any sense–and access to international comparisons–can tell you that’s patently bullshit, but now it’s been scientifically rebutted, too.

Gun lovers in this country don’t want to face this reality, but we need to be grown ups now and admit that guns change behavior. So let’s be mature and follow the 2nd amendment, the one that calls for a “well-regulated” population of the great big “militia” that is America.

And yeah, let’s talk about toxic masculinity, while we’re at it, because–sadly–one of our biggest problems here seems to be the Y chromosome.

So there’s so much going on here–so much to talk about, so much to grapple with.

But the way forward is still really simple.

Because we can come together or we can come apart.

We’ve got two political models on the landscape right now. They’re not running against each other, but they are running against each other.

You can either embrace the politics of Trump–the politics of divisiveness, fear, anger, nativism–or you can embrace the politics of Obama–of inclusiveness, optimism, discourse, compromise.

And, by the way, if you don’t think that the above is what Obama stands for then you’re probably only being influenced by what he represents to you and not what he actually chooses to represent. What I’m saying is: if you can’t look at the facts of who the current president is and what he has tried to do while in office–that he is not the racist, socialist, closet Jihadist-sympathizer, or whatever that some people say he is–then you are probably part of the problem. And that’s okay. I’m not demonizing you, I swear. But it’s time to get with the program.

We call it America.

And it’s aspiration.

Not aspiration for closed doors and high walls. It’s aspiration for something better.

Not “us vs. them.”


“E pluribus unum.”

We’re grappling with America’s oldest contradiction at the heart of all this. We’ve come a long way. But not far enough. We just had a fuck-all of a set-back.

But when horrors like the last week and a half occur, we have to keep inching forward.

Because the alternative is intolerable.

Hollywood is Broken

Wow! Mila Kunis is falling. That doesn't look survivable. Do you think she dies? I bet she dies. There's like no way to live through that, right? Yeah, I bet this is the scene in the movie where she dies.

Wow! Mila Kunis is falling. That doesn’t look survivable. Do you think she dies? I bet she dies. There’s like no way to live through that, right? Yeah, I bet this is the scene in the movie where she dies.

Brent Lang over at Variety is arguing that the flop of Jupiter Ascending is a shame, because it was the rare gem of an original sci-fi epic in Hollywood’s usual shitstorm of sequels and remakes. His thinking is that the failure of the Wachowskis’ latest blockbuster means that Hollywood will point to Jupiter Ascending as evidence that original ideas just don’t fly at the box office. He laments that even though they “marketed the crap” out of the movie, audiences just wouldn’t give it a chance.

Yeah, but no.

They marketed the crap out if and showed us in the trailers exactly what a no-plot, over-baked stinker it was. Jupiter Ascending didn’t fail because audiences will only go see sequels. Jupiter Ascending failed because it was obviously awful.

It was never part of the solution to the glut of unoriginal content the studios have been spewing out lately. It was part of the problem all along.

See, the real problem isn’t the economic success of sequels. It’s Hollywood thinking. In Hollywood, they think that the only thing that sells movie tickets is name recognition–no matter how many Johnny Dep movies bomb. They didn’t make this movie because it was a good idea; they made this movie because the Wachowskis made the Matrix. The counter point to this bloated turd is Guardians of the Galaxy, but Hollywood, of course, takes the wrong lesson from that movie. They think it did well because it was Marvel. It did well because it was fun, lively, and had interesting characters.

Hollywood is stupid. If Jupiter Ascending had done well, then it would not have encouraged Hollywood to go out looking for original projects. It would have just convinced them they were right to keep letting filmmakers everybody knows make movies (M. Night Shamalayn, anyone?).

Hollywood is broken and 2015 is proof.

Allow me, just off the top of my head, to rattle off the big releases coming in 2015: Fast and Furious Something-or-Other, Terminator Geriatrics, Jurassic Park IV, Pitch Perfect 2, Ted 2, two more Marvel movies, a Fantastic Four remake that is somehow not exactly a Marvel movie, sequels to both Hunger Games wannabes Maze Runner and Divergent, Mission Impossible 5 (5, I tell you!), a Despicable Me spin-off prequel thing about the f’ing minions (yes, the little yellow guys with no frackin’ dialogue!), Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (I could not make that up people; in a million years, I could not invent something as ridiculous as that), and Star Wars VII: Dear God, Weren’t the Prequels Enough?!?

I lied. That wasn’t off the top of my head. There are so many franchises deployed for 2015 that no one could possible remember them all. It’s really a shame that they moved the Man of Steel Superman vs. Batman but also Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Cyborg movie out of 2015. Leaving it on this year’s schedule would’ve cracked open the mantle of the earth and allowed the old ones to reclaim this depraved planet like in the end of Cabin in the Woods.

Now, I know, I know, I know. I write about franchises. I watch all this crap. I buy tickets.

You wanna say that I’m part of the problem, too.

Uh ah, nope. Bullshit. I cry, “bullshit.”

I refuse to be held responsible for their depraved decision making. It is not my fault that this industry is so dunderheaded that they respond to all the wrong cues and conduct their pitch meetings in some bizarro world divorced from all logic.

But ultimately, it will be up to us.

We must and will grow sick of this stuff. We have to stop going. We have to stop buying the Blu Rays.

Not to teach Hollywood to make original movies like Brent Lang thinks. You see, it’s too late for Hollywood. They’re already doomed. They just don’t know it yet. Great stories will be told on TV and in emerging digital media, not in movie theaters. Hollywood is too broken to live. Eventually, they will burn themselves to cinders with their idiocy.

And we’ll all be watching something else entirely.

A hearty “Yee-ha” for the Grand Ole Party and the fine, fine Americans who just ushered them into control of the Senate


America: I don’t even know what to say to you right now.

Go ahead, elect a bunch of people to the government who EXPLICITLY DO NOT BELIEVE IN GOVERNANCE and see what kind of progress we get there.

They will now pass bill after bill to defund the protections for your healthcare hard-fought and finally won after decades of talk; to ruin the environmental protections that keep your air and water clean; to cripple any national effort at supporting sound educational practices; to continue the historically unprecedented redistribution of wealth from the lower and middle classes to the capital elite; and to drive a social agenda that disrespects women, minorities, hell, pretty much anyone who isn’t a fat-cat white male. Great job, America.

We get the government we deserve.

The only good thing: they can’t actually pass any one of their idiotic bills thanks to Obama. So we’ll just have two more years of Congress doing nothing but show boating for their corporate sugar daddies while the nation’s real problems–crumbling infrastructure, wage stagnation, atrophying science and research, worsening climate change, and an over-taxed education system–just get worse and worse.

Seriously, congratu-fucking-lations, GOP!

Woe is American Foreign Policy in the Middle East

If you look carefully, you’ll see I have created a new category for this post.

I had begun a post on the situation in Iraq. I’d titled it “R.I.P. The Bush Doctrine 2001-2014,” and I began it like this:

And so now, with a rapidity that should make the US intelligence community question its commitment to reading everybody’s e-mails and start paying attention to the world outside of cyberspace, the new, twenty-first century Iraq that America bought with so many billions of dollars, thousands of dead and even more scarred and broken former warriors is torn asunder.

A new Al Quaida-ish refuge has been created with the capture of Mosul, except this new Afghanistan has much more oil wealth and much greater potential to disrupt the Middle East.

I’ll refrain from saying “I told you so,” since that would feel like the hollowest possible victory.

But you know what, I can’t refrain. Anymore than the confederacy of dunces responsible for this ill-advised war and occupation can refrain from pretending they were not responsible for the situation.

Dick Cheney–DICK FRICKING CHENEY–had the nerve to write in the Wall Street Journal that, “Rarely has a U.S. president been so wrong about so much at the expense of so many.” And he thinks THAT president is Obama? The man with the unenviable task of trying to clean up the mess that he and his president left of the country and the world?

It’s not just Cheney, though. All the Iraq war cheerleaders–Wolfowitz, McCain, Graham, oh my!–are out in force denouncing the president’s weakness. Few are getting as specific as Cheney, who actually bothered to name one thing he thinks the president did wrong.

He did not negotiate a treaty allowing us to stay in Iraq. Now, wait, we were there, Dick, so why is it we would need a treaty? Oh, right, because we had already signed a treaty under Bush saying we would leave! YOU’RE BLAMING OBAMA FOR NOT BEING ABLE TO SUCCESSFULLY REVERSE THE TREATY YOUR PRESIDENT SIGNED!!!

These men are callow and cowardly. When the world has presented exactly the sort of scenario that they ignored in their foolhardy invasion of Iraq, they are despicable enough to point fingers instead of accepting responsibility. It should not surprise us, though. They did not accept responsibility when their casas belli, weapons of mass destruction, failed to materialize. They did not accept responsibility when the Iraqi people neglected to universally embrace us as their liberators and heroes and instead launched into a difficult and painful insurgency.

These men no longer have the capacity to behave responsibility. Everyone of them still in office should be impeached and drummed from public life under a cloud of shame.

Instead, they babble on.

Meanwhile, the grownups left in the room (few that they are) have to try to figure out what to do with the mess in Iraq.

Well, gather ’round my little ones. I have a course of action for us. It will cost billions, maybe trillions in the long run, but it is the only sane course left:


Let’s go all in on local energy. Wind farms. Solar panels–EVERYWHERE! Let’s float those wind buoy things all over the dang place. We’ve got majestic shores all over the place, let’s invest in tidal power. Let’s fix things so that not one drop of oil needs to pass into this nation from outside our borders. Hell, I’ll even endorse fracking (with a heap of regulations that if written out would stack to the moon) if it means getting us off foreign oil.

Because ultimately, what is this region going to do when the world no longer needs that black sludge hiding under their sands? They will be left in the dirt with only their backward, feudalistic version of their religion and nothing else–nothing to fund their mania with any longer.

I’m not the only one thinking this. I’m just putting it a bit more crassly than most. The bottom line is that this region has only been strategically important because of oil. We know now that this very resource that has dragged us into quagmire after quagmire is also eroding the planet’s ability to support our civilization. Global warming is ruining the globe. We might as well just make the call now and call the Middle East its first real victim. (Okay, so they’re not.)

It may sound cruel or callous to say that we should abandon all those innocent people in ISIS’s wake to their savagery, but what else can we do? Literally, the only crazy-ass option to try to protect these people would be to invade their countries and try to force them to live like members of the civilized world.

And thanks to delusional pinheads like McCain and Cheney who dragged this country on just such an errand more than a decade ago, we already know that won’t work.