Yes he is. Before I go any further I want to explain exactly what I mean. Trump is a rock star in his persona and his approach to the political machine. He relies heavily on cult of personality: people may not like his positions but they still choose to support him. He is bold and boisterous and he knows how to give the people what they want. Like many rock stars, Trump wears his vices on his sleeve. He makes no apologies for his wealth or past transgressions. He shows no respect for hallowed institutions: see American media, the pope, the sitting president, the former president, general decorum, and pretty much anything else. This is why people love him. This is why people love rock stars.
A few days ago David Brooks put out a hilarious, ironical piece called: “I Miss Barack Obama.” Well, I assumed it was tongue-in-cheek for the first few paragraphs. It’s sad really, and perhaps a testament to how much politics has worn Brooks down over the years. Yes, this primary is exhausting, but Brooks looks to be coming out the other side like a statue buffeted by harsh winds and sand for a thousand years: so worn down that he offers only approximations of realism and a hint of a coherent figure. After reading it I got the impression that the poor guy really needs a vacation. As the old saying goes: if you can’t take the heat, then get out of the kitchen. Brooks is still in the kitchen, but he had a fainting couch placed conveniently beside the stove. He has approached a psychotic break brought on by stress. As an amateur student of the human psyche, that is my diagnosis. I have three observations which led to this conclusion, and each one logically follows the prior.
“Nothing is more unreliable than the populace, nothing more obscure than human intentions, nothing more deceptive than the whole electoral system.”
-Marcus Tullius Cicero
“How are the polls?”
“Holding for now.”
“Should I be worried?”
“You always ask that as though there is a definite time one ought to worry.”
“When I go down in the polls, far enough down that you would be worrying in my shoes.”
“Well that depends. Are you self-destructive?”
A bit of fiction from an election in which the truth is often stranger . . .
I had blinked and rubbed my eyes a number of times as though the repeated acts would offer some new shot of clarity. They did not, and I muddled on in confusion and in the sweat and noise of the bodies all clustered around me humming with excitement audible and otherwise, an electrical charge which seemed poised to arc between to conductive points. The man crouched over the podium raised his hands again and charged into a new tirade. I squinted as the light caught the morphing of his facial muscles. The jury was still out as they say, but my suspicions had gone into overdrive as had the crowd. Why had I been drawn out of California and halfway across the nation to, of all things, a political rally? Had it all started as a simple act of kindness and morphed into something else? Was it obsession?
About a year back, my friend Trey had asked me to look in on his uncle, an older man who lived by himself with the daily invasion of a well-meaning but beleaguered healthcare worker. Business took Trey all around the country, and his uncle was the only family he had. He had explained that he felt guilty and could pay me a little for the service, since I was between jobs. The old man didn’t live too far from my apartment, so I assented and gave Trey that superior satisfaction garnered from killing two birds with one stone. I guess he figured that he was doing his uncle and I both favors, and he was not wrong. Continue reading
Whenever I see Bernie Sanders speaking I simply picture him wearing a wizard costume with loose and floppy sleeves flapping around his wrists as he waves his arms overhand at the audience in an attempt to invoke some magical spell on them. So far, the old alchemist seems to be convincing people he can accomplish his craft. Bernie has made many people confident that he can turn dirt into gold and then throw it out on the waiting masses by the overflowing handful. It’s an effective method of electioneering. Many leaders throughout history have used the bread and circuses method, and, sadly, it appears that most of our juveniles never read Juvenal. Traditionally it has never been very difficult to get a following of people when you’re offering free stuff. Despite young people’s skepticism concerning religion, they do seem ready to believe a fiery preacher offering miracles. I don’t doubt Bernie’s good intentions, but his socialistic goals are not very feasible economically speaking.
There are two fatal issues with Sanders’ promises to Americans. The first is his offering of free education, despite the already plummeting quality and rising costs of college in the US. The second flaw is his hard-nosed approach to banks and corporate America. Bernie is very good at pointing out the problems, but his solutions only travel further down the road of impracticality, revealing a complete lack of reasonable implementation of his views. I’ll dig into both issues and try to explain what I mean. Continue reading
First off, I do not agree with Ammon Bundy’s methods or his approach in this Oregon wildlife refuge occupation, but this situation has shown how absolutely shameless the media can distort these situations. I am not going to address whether they should be called terrorists or if they are militia members or protesters. I do not care about any of that, and we have no way of knowing how much of that is accurate, because big media has already reached a conclusion before they begin their reporting.
What I would like to address is the strange attempt to make this about race. So rabid for clicks and views are the for-profit yarn-spinners that they will shoehorn in any hot-button buzzwords and issues they possibly can. Commentators and pundits have been making the claim that if the men holed up in a remote and closed wildlife refuge were black or middle-eastern, then they would have already been gunned down because cops thirst for the blood of minorities.
Well, the force awakened a bit over a week ago, and I finally got around to making my way to the movie theater, hoping (vainly) that the crowds had thinned. Not so, much to my chagrin. I was excited to see the movie, but not beside myself. As a child and youth I loved Star Wars and delved headfirst into the expanded universe of comic books, games and novels. Like many young people, I dreamt up my own adventures in a galaxy far, far away. My enthusiasm for the world has waned with time (three awful movies will do that to you), but there has always been a special place reserved in my cerebellum for Star Wars. I wanted very much to like this movie. It just didn’t happen. No matter my love for the original trilogy, something just did not work for me, and I will try to explain the reasons as best I can.
Where There’s Snoke There’s Fire
There was something very much out of balance in this movie, and it took me a while to figure out just what it was. The original trilogy is full of great moments of heroism from Han Solo, Luke, Leia, R2D2 and all the other forces of the rebel alliance, but they are offset by villains more than equal to their courage and goodness. Darth Vader, The Emperor, Jabba the Hutt, Boba Fett, are all memorable and worthy adversaries. The Empire’s crushing stranglehold on the galaxy steeps the entire trilogy in a sense of stifling, authoritarian dread. Every victory by the rebel forces seems hard-fought and won only by the skin on their teeth. The oppressive political power of the empire is the status quo of a regime holding to the power it usurped from the senate. This is all explained without needlessly excessive exposition. God knows less is sometimes more, especially when faced with essentially hearing the Trade Federation’s tax forms read aloud in the prequels. The problem with TFA (The Force Awakens) is that it flees in the opposite direction and favors explaining nothing at all.
I watched the GOP debate last night, and it was just about as bad as I expected. Having Republicans talk about national security is kind of like unleashing a salivating pack of dogs on a defenseless kitten, so it’s no surprise that most of them got ugly. The word of the evening, if we had been teleported to some opposite world, would be “restraint”, or maybe even “diplomacy”. Here’s the thing, and I will be blunt, there were only a few minutes of the entire debate that I thought even bordered on sanity. There is a great deal to address, but, for the sake of organization, I will go through the candidates one by one in the order of most foaming-at-the-mouth bat-shit insane to somewhat reasonable. Keep in mind that this is coming from a registered independent who has no love for the progressives, so you won’t hear me singing the praises of the other side of the aisle.
Chris Christie: The New Jersey governor takes the cake and, judging by his likely history with cakes, the phrase is a bit of a metaphor about his approach to national security. The moment he said that he would enact and enforce a no fly zone in Syria was bad enough, but when he was asked to clarify and explained that yes he would shoot down Russian jets, I groaned audibly. That is insane. First of all, Russia has been invited into Syria and is thusly abiding by international law. For us to override that by declaring a no fly zone (because we are America and always right) would be an act of aggression against a neutral power. We would be forcing Russia into a situation where they are suddenly violating an arbitrary ultimatum when they have more justification for involvement than we do. It’s the equivalent to a soccer coach declaring that the boundaries of the field have changed and a player is now out of bounds and then shooting them for good measure, just to prove that he is in charge.
“The final key to the way I promote is bravado. I play to people’s fantasies. People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do. That’s why a little hyperbole never hurts.” (“Trump: The Art of the Deal,” 1987)
We are all watching something beautiful and incredible unfold in the world right now. We are experiencing something akin to the creation of Michelangelo’s David or Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. What I’m speaking of is the ongoing piece of performance art played out by Donald Trump. It is one of the most fascinating pieces of artwork to appear in human history. It is a theater of the absurd, harsh satire, political irony, it is off the cuff and in the moment. It is brave. It is absolutely phenomenal. I just hope that, by the end of this election cycle, people see it for what it is and rise as one with steaming tears glistening on their cheeks to applaud a man who has transformed from business tycoon to avant garde provocateur extraordinaire. In short, the man is an unprecedented genius. This is the most experimental work of art we have ever seen as a society. His brain is working on a meta-societal level that most people cannot comprehend, and he has created a labyrinth of the mind through which we all crawl in the dimness, squinting, perceiving that the hallways are all lined with portraits of Trump. Not so. This is a hall of mirrors, and Trump is making America stare long and hard at itself.
As France reels from the terrorist attacks a few days ago, there are a number of questions swirling around the future of Europe when it comes to the still steady influx of refugees. Hollande has stated that France will still accept refugees in the wake of the attacks, despite Marine Le Pen smiling like the cat who ate the canary and enjoying rising political clout. The narrative persists that the refugees are not to blame for terrorism, and I think it is a legitimate point, but it cannot be denied with a straight face that the “Everyone Welcome” policy of Angela Merkel and other EU leaders seems a bit rash in retrospect. After a bomb scare in Hanover just yesterday, it is clear that everyone is very much on edge, and both sides of the refugee issue are very much entrenched. This is where we are right now, but I would also like to explore how we all got here and what ‘here’ even is.
First off, the largest culprit cited for the refugee crisis is the Syrian civil war, a product of the failed state bonanza known as The Arab Spring. It began with peaceful protests by a Sunni majority and then turned to a proxy war once Hezbollah and America got involved. I have my own theories on the subject relating to how involved the US and other western powers were in turning the peaceful protests into a war. Hint: very. The mainstream media version claims that “The Butcher Assad” barrel bombed his people and so they took up arms against him. It’s thin, very thin. In fact, it has been argued quite convincingly that Assad had the support of most Syrians at the start of the civil war, not to mention that the US supplied Al Nusra and helped turn the war into a sectarian conflict.