When a Bad Dream Really Sucks

Short answer:  when it is too close for comfort, it wakes you and prevents you from getting the rest of your badly needed sleep. 

Went to bed tired a few hours ago, quickly fell into a deep sleep, had this dream, that actually woke me, after less than an hour blissfully unconscious.  It is two, maybe three, hours later, I haven’t been able to get back to sleep.   The dream:

I was in a restaurant, it was late at night.  It was a huge place, virtually empty.  I ordered a vegetarian steak sandwich.  In real life, I haven’t knowingly eaten meat (apologies to the occasional sea creature) in at least seven years (except once, maybe five years back, when politeness obliged me to eat a small amount of chicken in a curry my host had prepared for me — the one pot dinner he made for his family and me that night–  there was no avoiding the finely chopped chicken).

The waiter brought the large open-faced sandwich on a platter and left without making eye contact or saying a word.  In fact, I never even saw the waiter’s face.   I studied the very realistic looking steak, which seemed to be uncooked.  It was cool to the touch.  The other face of the sandwich was definitely sliced turkey and something that looked like ham.   I waited for the waiter, who was nowhere to be seen, so that I could exchange this for what I had ordered.

I eventually wound up carrying the plate around the empty restaurant, unable to get the attention of anyone who worked there.  The place was deserted.  I scanned a menu looking for what I had actually ordered.   There was no vegetarian steak sandwich on the menu.   I found another menu, completely different from the first, and began searching it.  I saw yet another completely different menu on a nearby counter and began to lose hope. 

As I waited with a dish I would not eat, it became clear that I was in the kind of restaurant where you fucking take what they serve you, eat it, pay and shut the fuck up.   You also leave a nice tip, if you know what’s good for you.   

Waking from that all too realistic dream, in a chilled room, with about 28% of the bed available to me, and unable to get comfortable, the new line of stitches down the side of my nose, covered with a jerry-rigged dressing over a corrosive antibiotic salve (learned how like battery acid it is the hard way, painfully blinded and desperately groping in the shower) starting one millimeter from my left tear duct, on the side of my face usually against the pillow, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was still in a booth at that accursed restaurant.   Rattling the keys here has made me no more optimistic about falling asleep if I manage to secure a bit of the bed when I crawl back in it. 

I am wearing fleece pants, socks, slippers, a fleece lined shirt, a hat and a fleece jacket with the hood pulled up.  It’s not a matter of being cold at the moment.  Though, at the same time, I’m not exactly toasty.   Even the Baron was happy to nap under a three or four layer cape today, even wearing Sekhnet’s fake fur vest as a Liberace-style cape for a while. It’s chilly in here, yo.   Although, admittedly, it did give the dying cat a bit more pep today, when he was not sleeping on his perch above the radiator or doing his Liberace imitation huddled under a warm pile of capes.

It was too hot for days, sauna-like, and the cat looked wilted, was very sluggish.  Now it’s too cold, since the temperature outside dipped into proper winter range just as Sekhnet climbed up on a step ladder and propped a large screen in a window she opened, a window that is behind bars,  bars that have a variety of things hanging from them.     

Theoretically, I could open that gate, climb up on a ladder and take the large screen out of the upper window, close the window, hang everything back on it, and the room would eventually warm up.  But I’d have to turn on the lights, take down everything hanging from the bars, wake Sekhnet in the process, ignore the surgeon’s advice by lifting, and toting, exerting, forcing blood to my face.   

Jesus, what am I talking about?  I’m still asleep, still in that dream, holding a plate of meat served by a faceless waiter to a vegetarian customer who is left with one choice, eat what’s been served or shut the fuck up about being hungry.   

It reminds me of the dilemma of the would-be satirist, living in the Age of Trump and fucking Roger Stone.   All roads lead back to these larger than life cocksuckers, no conversation can long avoid at least a mention of our current giant, angry, attention craving two year-old president. 

I see fucking Roger Stone’s face, as he promised a reporter recently that if anyone tries to remove Trump from office, for any reason, there will be blood in the streets.   Trump’s people have guns, he assures us, as is their God-given right under the Second Amendment, and they will not hesitate to use those guns, if it comes to it.  And we all know what the other side is like, fucking animals, and they all have guns too.  Stone warns of a blood bath, not that he’s advocating it, mind you, he’s just saying’, just putting it out there. 

I watch the psychopathic Stone, as much as any single individual, responsible, along with his former partner Paul Manafort, for the current lobbyist-led negative campaigning black and white wedge issue kick ’em hard in the balls and destroy your opponents nightmare American politics we have today.   A political predator, and a psychopath. 

I see that fucking smirking, supremely confident face and realize, with a smile that is painful to smile, particularly at this ungodly hour when my eyes are almost crossing with exhaustion, the sun creeping up behind me, that someone just like him owns the fucking restaurant where I am forced to wander endlessly with a plate of cold meat I did not order.   

I was prepared to say to the Orthodox Jewish nephrologist the other day, after the third or fourth time he demonstrated he is something of a distracted, imperious putz:  Doctor, Ha Shem (God) does not make a person a mensch, it is left up to each of us to be a mensch or not.   But as I was holding a plate of human entrails, and a fork, as I sat in his office the other day, with a napkin across my lap, I thought: ah, fuck it, I just won’t leave him the full 20% tip.

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Post-factual Reality 101

“That ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ locker room banter thing I apologized on nationwide TV for saying?  I never fucking said it!  Fake Trump!​  SAD!” 

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP (announcing largest roll-back of federal land protection in U.S. history to a presumably Native American audience): Your timeless bond with the outdoors should not be replaced with the whims of regulators thousands and thousands of miles away. They don’t know your land. And truly, they don’t care for your land like you do. But from now on, that won’t matter. I’ve come to Utah to take a very historic action to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens. … Therefore, today, on the recommendation of Secretary Zinke, and with the wise counsel of Senator Hatch, Senator Lee and the many others, I will sign two presidential proclamations. These actions will modify the national monuments designations of both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

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Trump “unveil(ed) his plan to open up protected federal lands to mining, logging, drilling and other forms of extraction. The plan calls for shrinking the 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears Monument by more than 80 percent and splitting it into two separate areas. Trump would slash the state’s 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by 50 percent.”

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As that hideous, yet still somehow perversely sexual zombie-eyed scarecrow Kellyanne Conway described Trump’s preference for a lie: alternative facts.   You have facts that are just regular, garden variety facts, what you might call empirical, or verifiable facts, and you have, you know, “alternative facts,” which biased purveyors of “fake news” call “lies”. 

Once people can no longer make distinctions well enough to discern the difference between facts that can be verified and alternative facts, you can effectively do whatever you want to these people, for any reason or no reason, or for any alternative reason the imagination of a psychopath might devise.   

This chat between billionaire mercenary Erik Prince and then radio talk show host Steve Bannon struck me the other day, and I made note of it to bring to the attention of any curious reader:

The Intercept reports Prince may have foreshadowed his new proposal [private contractor spies to capture or assassinate high value terror suspects– ed.]  in a 2016 interview on former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s radio program, in which Prince proposed reviving a version of the CIA’s Vietnam War assassination scheme, known as the Phoenix Program.

Erik Prince: “Two: a Phoenix-like program. OK, remember the Phoenix Program was a root canal done to the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. It was a kill—”

Stephen Bannon: “You mean, this is the Phoenix Program—this is the Phoenix—hang on. This is the Phoenix Program in Vietnam.”

Erik Prince: “It was a vicious, but very effective, kill-capture program in Vietnam that destroyed the Viet Cong as a military force. That’s what needs to be done to the funders of Islamic terror, and that would even the wealthy radical Islamist billionaires funding it from the Middle East, and any of the other illicit activities therein.”

source  (see The Intercept: Erik Prince headline)

the story in much greater detail, reported by Jeremy Scahill and Matthew Cole, here

Prince, who shared a $1,350,000,000 inheritance with sister Betsey (DeVos) and two other sisters, and is the founder and former CEO of now corporately reorganized Blackwater, speaks of the Phoenix Program, a long-running, systematic, un-prosecuted war crime, as destroying the Viet Cong as a military force.  You dig?  This is the reason America won the war in Viet Nam, because we had committed patriots with the will to do whatever vicious things had to be done to defeat and utterly destroy the unscrupulous enemy.   You see how this works?

And, you understand, whatever the fact, or alternative fact, of the matter may actually be, if you have a billion dollars and no-bid government contracts, and the right committed people in place, and the right contacts within the military, and the right party in power, you can secretly, and lucratively, hunt down and kill whoever the fuck you want, anywhere in the world. 

You read it here first.  Or not.

Conspiracy of Interests

Most conspiracies do not happen in the manner set out in the sensational, influential, wholly fictional Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  There is no sinister midnight meeting of eternally scheming characters in an ancient cemetery, where they set out their devilish plans in painstaking detail, assign roles, map out larger strategies for global domination.   Most conspiracies happen on a much more subtle level, based on common interests and shared goals. 

A powerful group with a particular interest will automatically advocate for that interest, without any need for an actual meeting of principals or any assigning of particular roles — they just pursue identical self-interests simultaneously.  Very little systematic coordination is needed.  We see this, for example, in the recent return to Gilded Age style tax policy orchestrated by a loose coalition of Republican legislators, an insane chief executive and a small, determined band of billionaire “Libertarians”, corporate “persons” and upwardly mobile multi-millionaires.  Many super-wealthy people, and wealthy corporate “persons” made it happen, but it’s hard to call their efforts a conspiracy in the classic sense.   

The same thing can happen even within a small group, among people of limited individual power.  I’m reminded of this by a personal experience, brought to mind by the recent odd blind cc of an email string from an emotionally challenged person I long considered a close friend.  A person I now would not hesitate to punch in the face with the full force of cathartic American violence, that face triggering a hard-earned exception to my deeply held belief in the rightness of Ahimsa. 

It was a few years ago, Sekhnet and I were going to take Sekhnet’s then 90 year-old Aunt Lillian to dinner at a great vegetarian Chinese restaurant on Main Street called New Bodai.  Shortly before we were to pick up Lillian this friend called to say that he would like to take his daughter to the same restaurant, along with a mutual friend of ours, an angry and bossy woman he had suddenly become close friends with.  We told them what time we would be at the restaurant; they countered that they’d like to eat a bit earlier, they were all hungry.  We told them how long it would take to pick up Lillian and get to the restaurant.   They agreed to meet us at that time.

When we arrived there were several empty plates on the table.   They cheerily told us not to worry, they’d ordered the same for us, it was already on its way.  We endured a joyless meal, eating dishes we had not ordered, and Lillian was largely ignored during the meal.  We split the tab with these two inconsiderate creatures I eventually came to understand I was no longer friends with.   

It strikes me now that they had not “conspired” in the classic sense of planning to serve an old lady a plate of warmed over shit by way of throwing down any kind of gauntlet.   They had not consciously decided to shit on Sekhnet’s feelings, or her aunt’s, or mine.  They were just feeling giddy to have discovered each other, two long-time friends of somebody they were both in the process of actively alienating anyway.   

The guy, I learned from his bizarre email string, is in the process of divorcing his longtime wife, Hitler.  His sex life with his new girlfriend, he reports, is frustrating and joyless, sad to say.   I haven’t heard from the woman since her mother-in-law’s funeral, which I idiotically attended, though it is certain she still publicly whips her hapless husband in the face with the same sickening gusto as always.

If you deeply share interests with somebody, more likely than a plainly laid out plan of attack, all you will need is a nod and a wink to put things in motion.  As much as many of the super-wealthy hate Trump, a crude, lying, ill-bred boor, when he abolishes the “Death Tax” and they can give every penny of their fortunes without any tax payment required of their chosen heirs, they will nod quietly, savoring their fleeting taste of immortality.

A King Ain’t Satisfied

“Poor man wanna be rich,
Rich man wanna be king,
And a king ain’t satisfied
til he rules everything.”

The Poet Laureate of New Jersey, saying it all.   This rich man we have in the never whiter White House is cantankerously unsatisfied with a job that does not have a Divine Right to rule attached to its job description.  Fuck that puto, in the stirring words of George Lopez, fourth generation American.

There was only one reason to vote for this lying fucking puto that was not irrational: naked self-interest.   Sure he got the vote of every hater of “minorities”, sure he got the desperate, uneducated vote.  “I love the uneducated,” he said, on the campaign trail.  He also famously bragged that he could go out on to Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and that his supporters would be too fucking stupid to realize what a bad hombre, in the whitest sense of the word “bad”, he is.   But the haters didn’t actually get shit from this billionaire celebrity asshole, nor will they ever, unless they are also very rich haters.

There was only one rational reason to vote for him: greed.    It was rational to vote for him if his/the Republicans’ tax plan would net you an extra million, or in the case of someone like multi-billionaire opinionated ignoramus Betsey DeVos, ten million or more, every year in unearned, but richly deserved, tax savings.   The rich had a good reason to vote for this puto, if also a despicable one.   The never-Trump wing of the Grand Old Party held their noses for this glorious moment, when they’d get to ram a massive, multi-trillion dollar deficit fueling, Obamacare-sabotaging tax break for the super-rich through a spineless, partisan Congress. 

I know, predictable outrage from a powerless fuck.   It’s not as though the Kenyan-born secret Muslim did not ram through a health care bill, after long one-sided debate, benefiting no rich person in any conceivable way, using his narrow majority in Congress to get a hated health care law passed that benefited mostly “takers”.  It’s not as though Obama didn’t sign plenty of Executive Orders to get around a determined, organized, highly principled opposition party of corporate persons and their human counterparts.   

Take a look at this list, recognize anyone?

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Ha ha, it’s the old psychopath test used by FBI profilers when chasing serial killers.  I captured this frame from a brilliant documentary about the modern corporation which I recommend to everybody.   You can see the entire movie for free here.   The filmmakers point out that corporate persons routinely display every trait on this psychopath list.   In fairness to corporate persons, they have only one duty, to increase profits, the Supreme Court said that in the 1940s and it’s the law in this land.  There are people, some of the best people, the best, like Trump, who also fit this definition of corporate personhood.

Now, I was never a big fan of “The Boss,” though he’s a hugely popular musician and, apparently, a very smart and sensitive man who has taken progressive political stands over the years.   I never liked that he was called “The Boss”, for one thing.  I can’t think of a boss I ever met who wasn’t something of an asshole.   Then there’s the white soul man routine he does sometimes when he sings.   I was relieved to hear him at least acknowledge his great love for Sam Cooke, but still.   His voice, a bit macho and Jim Morrison-like for me.  His guitar playing and songwriting are both top notch, but I was never a big fan.  For one thing, I’m not from New Jersey, for another, and odd for me to say, I rarely register the lyrics of songs, no matter how evocative or poetic.

The Boss has made millions and millions of dollars and I do not begrudge him a dime of it.  Good for him.  I was happy that he was not mentioned in the Paradise Papers or the Panama Papers, those leaked reports of all the rich people who legally hide their fortunes in shady off-shore entities that allow them to avoid paying tax, in a fully legal, if also highly shameful and secretive, manner.  It would have made the news if The Boss had his money stashed tax-free on some island paradise like the rest of the fucking richest of the rich.  Bono, for fuck’s sake.  Hey, Bono… fuck that puto.

My few wealthyish friends (most still likely victims of the “Alternative Minimum Tax”[1] under the new law) are not thrilled by this massive giveaway to the already rich that a gang of determined partisan reptiles gang-banged through the narrowest of majorities.  “We drive on the roads, call the fire department when our house is burning, call the cops when there’s violence, send our kids to school, like electricity delivered to our homes, and water, and the toilets to flush and the sewage be treated, we like emergency health care for everyone, and homeless shelters and programs that feed American kids growing up in poverty, all the rest of the comforts of a civilized society that Libertarians, staunch defenders of freedom like Charles and David Koch, pretend have nothing to do with government or the tax coffers,” say my friends who have money.  “What the fuck is wrong with rich people?”

I have an old friend who has always worked very hard.   He makes a very comfortable living yet he has the same strong social conscience he always did.  I suspect this would be true if he had ten times what he has now, or a hundred times.  Not everyone who has a lot of money is as despicable about it as the many cynics who voted for an ignorant billionaire who wants to be dictator, the boss of everyone, with their collective “fuck you” to anyone not already wealthy, just so they could become a little bit richer.

He told me there are many of our fellow Jews, wealthy ones, living in the Pale of Settlement not far from Mar-a-Largo, who voted for Trump strictly because they wanted the tax break.  Rational, if also despicable, we agreed.  Check this out– they apparently hate Trump now.  Yeah, a little less now that they got their cash from him, but they still hate him.  Why?  He comes to his Florida White House often, and every time he does, there are massive traffic jams on their affluent roads.  Fuck those Jew putos, seriously.   

Steve Bannon, a person who needs no introduction, spoke before the Zionist Organization of America during their annual awards dinner recently.  I sent my friend the photo of Bannon sitting under a big Mogen Dovid with the subject: all a Jew can say is “oy, yoy, yoy.”   My friend wrote back:  and then– vomit. 

Dig it.

 

[1]   Each year a taxpayer must calculate and then pay the greater of an alternative minimum tax (AMT) or regular tax.[2]

This tax does not apply to the truly wealthy, nor has the income limit to trigger it been adjusted in the decades since it was enacted in 1970.

 

Note to Eric

As predictable as it is SAD!

Dear Eric:

Please excuse the liberty, colleague, I’m responding to the November 6 letter from one of your Division of Social Justice assistants, Jennifer Lonergan, who incorrectly stated that I had addressed my letter of October 12 to “Eric Schneiderman”.   

I voted for you in each of your State Senate elections and for A.G.  I share many of your political views, including the belief that a primary role of government is protecting citizens from the predations of the powerful.  I applaud the proactive stances you take on many important issues.  I don’t blame you personally for the inadequate response to my long and detailed letter, though it reflects poorly on the office that acts in your name.

Ms. Lonergan begins her point by point refutation of my painfully researched assertion that the New York State regulatory help scheme for low income health insurance consumers is a cul du sac by demonstrating active listening, the dismissiveness of her tone in restating the obvious probably inadvertent:

It appears that it is difficult for health care consumers, such as yourself, to ascertain where to turn for help regarding various health care issues, and further, that you received misinformation from various entities tasked with assisting consumers with health care issues.

Ms. Lonergan, although perhaps not fully grasping the blood pressure elevating vexation that unregulated health insurance causes low income New Yorkers,  did an impressive amount of cutting and pasting in assembling a letter full of potentially helpful sources that could possibly solve some pressing healthcare-related consumer problems within only a few months.  According to her, the help desk in your office is more than a match for most of the vexing, unregulated consumer abuses detailed in my letter.   

Her response to this paragraph was noteworthy:

Essential Plan members do not have a right to file complaint appeal (sic).  If they need assistance filing a grievance or appeal, they may also contact the state independent consumer assistance program at:  Community Health Advocates, 105 E. 22nd Street, NY NY 10010 or 888-614-5400 or email at cha@cssny.org

source:  Anthem’s National Contact Center Document under NY market tab for “Essential” plan updated as of 12-14-16 at 7:56 a.m.

She informed me, presumably based on research unavailable to a consumer like myself, that the health insurance representative had been mistaken when he pretended to read corporate policy from his customer service manual.  This leaves me marveling at the rep’s inventiveness and eidetic memory,  “reading” me the identical made up wording several times, so that I could transcribe it accurately.  Adding that it was printed in red, and providing an invented source, were truly brilliant, if diabolically misleading, touches.

Ms. Lonergan also corrected my slipshod use of the legal term “fraud”; she was good enough to point out that I had not established an essential element, since doctors I’d been referred to by the insurance company who had refused me treatment had not actually taken payment from me.  I guess, arguably, the premiums I pay every month to the corporation that referred me to these doctors are beside the point for purposes of a claim of fraud.

I greatly prefer the letter from Mr. Bockstein (attached), which, while clearly sent to me in error, at least spelled my name right and did not dismiss the health-threatening concerns I’d taken pains to detail carefully for your office’s consideration, practices I offered as illustrations of the desperate need for the policy changes I suggested.  I subsequently had Mr. Bockstein’s kind assurance that my original letter was under consideration by an advocate named Jennifer Lonergan who would be getting back to me.  No point beating a dead cul du sac here.

I suppose the most honest letter I could have received in reply to mine would also have been the most depressing: low income healthcare consumers get whatever care they get, and whatever version of due process goes along with it.  And though they may address a letter to a champion fighting institutional injustice, with the power to advocate changes to grossly inadequate protections under the law, they can expect, at best, a letter like Ms. Lonergan’s.

Have a great day,
Eliot “Widaeu”

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For reference, the corrected file number on my original letter is 1370738.  Presumably my letter is also preserved under that file number.

President Humbug

It is by now beyond question that our country is presided over by a man who can fairly be described as a crude, blustering jerk of average intelligence.  His main talent, perhaps his only one, is his unflappable ability to sell himself.   One should not sneeze at this talent.   This is an essential skill for any showman, any celebrity, anyone wishing to be president.  It is a sad day, however, when this ability, vast, inherited wealth and brand recognition are the only criteria needed to attain the world’s most powerful office.  SAD!

Phineas Taylor “P.T.” Barnum was America’s most famous unscrupulous self-promoter, until this chap Donald John Trump came along.   I thought I’d check out Barnum’s life and career a bit, and so spent a few minutes of painstaking research reading the Wikipedia article about P.T. Barnum.    I was surprised and not surprised to learn that among several books written by Barnum one was called “The Art of Money Getting”. 

It is a small step, a hundred years later, to “The Art of the Deal”, an art that Mr. Trump boasts of, without much proof of his skill at it, outside of bullying New York City officials in his early real estate deals.   Barnum, we learn, was born in modest circumstances and made and lost a vast fortune more than once.  Trump, by his own account, required only a “small million dollar loan” from his father to get started building on his father’s real estate empire.   He later legitimately acquired a fortune, and vast publicity and credence (to the credulous),  playing a fictional successful businessman in a wildly popular “reality TV show” made while he was negotiating multiple bankruptcies for some of his many failed business ventures.   

Of the two, only Barnum appears to have done anything good for anyone but himself (unless we include Trump’s appointment of wealthy, unqualified people to high government positions).  Of himself, Barnum said: “I am a showman by profession…and all the gilding shall make nothing else of me”[2] .   He also said that his personal aim was “to put money in his own coffers”.   That said, he seems to have shared his wealth with others.  Tom Thumb became a wealthy man working with Barnum and the famous impresario seems to have given a good deal of money to others over the course of his life, including Tufts University and the city of Bridgeport Connecticut.  Barnum also advocated principles, like his eventual strong opposition to slavery.

Barnum reputedly said, as Trump would later prove, “nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people” [1], and is remembered as America’s flamboyant, once world famous snake-oil salesman.   Still, one would have to take Barnum over Trump for frankness, originality and taste.  He probably would have made a better president, too. 

He could hardly have made a worse one, a powerless prick given to snide understatement might add.

[1] Whoops, this was an observation of H.L. Mencken’s, apparently, paraphrased into the current blunt version we all lovingly quote today

 

Practical Consideration

Rachel Yehuda, among many excellent points in her talk with Krista Tippett, asked a very good question:  who would you rather have with you in a war zone, an experienced fighter or a cultured philosopher who has never faced a murderous enemy?  This question was answered “fighter” by many Jews after the Hitler regime, determined never again to be quiet victims of mass violence.  Being eternally tough and ready to kill can lead to overkill, certainly, but it is an understandable enough answer when the question is survival when an entire army is determined to kill you. 

In my quiet life I may feel pacifism is the best option in human affairs, and mildness the best choice when dealing with others, but I would certainly not feel that way faced with an army of murderers intent on killing me and everyone I love.   I’d want an experienced killer next to me to show me how to kill the motherfuckers who were after us.

I was thinking of the same thing in regard to electoral politics and influencing public policy in the USA.  Would you rather have millions marching in the street in protest of evil done in our names, or legislators strategically placed in state houses and Congress to vote in blocks to pass actual laws and give the official nod to secret horrors?   

A few years back, a movement of right wing zealots, funded generously by billionaires, formed a “grass roots” organization called the Tea Party.  This rag-tag army of staunchly conservative patriots got tremendous publicity and, with a shit-ton of money, managed to move the Republican party even farther to the right.  They made the party more extremist by “primarying” moderate Republicans out of office.   The Koch brothers and their ilk looked on approvingly, funding the campaigns of these radical reactionaries, sponsoring this group of servile champions of the already powerful, making the current crop of Republican legislators move to the right or lose their jobs.  Once in office these Tea Party true believers literally held the government hostage, at one point even shutting it down by refusing to fund government programs at a budget deadline.  That’s how you make policy, if you are a ruthless motherfucker intent on changing the world to reflect your worldview, and have the monetary clout, and organization, to do it.

It turns out not to be a matter of right and wrong, who rules, even in a democracy.  The fiction is that our elected representatives act on our behalf.  In the real world of winners and losers they act on behalf of those who pay for their campaigns and keep them in office.   It is not much of a choice on election day, in most cases.  It’s Lewis Black’s two bowls of shit and you’ve got to pick one.   

Might makes right in the Darwinian jungle of electoral politics.  If your party controls Congress you can tell a popular sitting president who won in a landslide to shut the fuck up.  You can simply deny him his constitutional right to fill a Supreme Court vacancy, nothing he can do about it.  You can do everything but outright call him a nigger, even though you’re free to insist he’s a lying Kenyan Muslim and an illegitimate president and doesn’t mean shit.   That’s the power of organized lobbying and the leverage a loud-mouthed celebrity can exert if he is given a big enough public platform via the mass media. 

A stage full of Republican hopefuls in a presidential debate– not one can admit outright that humans evolved from apes, or that the climate is changing in dangerous ways, or that human activities, driven by unchecked greed, are  destroying the planet.  That’s the co-opted Jesus and fossil fuel lobbies, respectively.  The Democratic party is not quite as bad, but it is also an incorrigibly corrupt machine oiled by the money of those legally created psychopaths, corporate “persons”, and their human counterparts who expect their will to be done.    Both parties serve their masters in a society based on the bottom line, and in this case, anyway, the customer is truly, always right.

The bottom line here — was the Bernie Sanders campaign a one shot novum, never seen before in America and never to be seen again?  Or could a candidate with principles and a convincing analysis of why there is so much poverty, misery, desperation and rage in our wealthy nation, funded by small donors (Obama bragged of the same kind of support, but took the bulk of his money from corporations and wealthy folks and opted out of the campaign finance law designed to limit the influence of these forces, and outspent his opponent two to one — and he, uh, ruled accordingly) actually win an election that was not otherwise rigged? 

On one side, a slickly marketed, relentlessly publicized, opportunistic demagogue, saying whatever was necessary to keep angry people enraged, greedy people salivating about all the luxurious things they could buy with their even greater wealth, on the other side someone actually analyzing the legitimate causes for rage, despair, the logical consequences of heedless greed, our nation’s greediest protected by laws they bought and paid for.   

The second candidate never even made it on to the ballot, since his opponent in the primary was supremely qualified, wealthy, politically connected, corporately funded, anointed next in line and the party had an immense thumb on the electoral scales before the primary even started.   

All I can say is “motherfuckers”.  Makes me want to run for office, but without at least one cocksucking billionaire to fund me (not to mention politically inconvenient skeletons cavorting in my closet, and right here, openly, in the room behind me as I type), I may as well try to start a successful non-profit organization to help poor kids prove they are not disposable pieces of shit.  In the greatest, most exceptional nation the world has ever seen.