Fluffy Puffy Hallmark Christmas

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Most Wonderful Time of the Year (2008)

lt’s that time again, time for those fluffy puffy, happy, sappy, hallmark Christmas stories. This time of the year, the Hallmark channel morphs into the most watched channel on cable and Satellite tv (yes satellite tv , it still exist for us poor folks).  The Hallmark channel has been a guilty pleasure of mine for three years and I look forward to binge watching, throughout the month of December.  There is a steady stream of re-runs and new movies to satisfy the most ardent fans of Holiday schtick, and they run all night long for the insomniacs.

If you are a veteran Hallmark watcher, then you will immediately know  Lacey Chabert or Danica McKellar or Lori Loughlin and of course Candace Cameron Bure. There are also appearances from familiar males, like James Van Der Beek, Colin Ferguson and some cool codgers like Bryan Doyle Murray and Henry Winkler. The plots can be redundant, but Christmas romances usually stick to a specific formula.  Be warned that Royalty might be involved in some stories. The Macguffin has to be saved, plot moppets have to be appeased,  widows and widowers must find love and the Christmas haters will find the true meaning of secular Christmas.

The main character usually has some tragic reason for hating the holiday spirit, or perhaps they are just a cynical jerk. A cliche group of friends, bosses and antagonist orbit around the protagonist, creating humor, tension and roadblocks. Fear not dear viewer, all will be resolved in the last ten minutes. Miss Scrooge or Mister Scrooge will will come to their senses, love will bloom, old wounds will be healed, the widow or widower will find a replacement spouse; this is also the point in the movie where the villain is vanquished.

In between the beginning and the end there are snowmen, snowball fights, tree trimmings and tree lightings all wrapped up in the trappings of the local town festival. these Shenanigans always occur in the most christmassy town in the midwest or northwest or the northeast; where the folks are simple and the snow falls on cue when ever attractive lady or man start to feel romantic, I forgot to mention that sometimes Magical Santa guy  makes an appearance to dispense wisdom. Santa Guy doesn’t always sport his signature red and white suit, sometimes he’s wearing natty looking business attire with red accents. Some times he hangs around the local diner or sits conveniently on a bench in the town park, or he could just  magically appear at the office Christmas party to grant strange wishes.

All in all, the Hallmark channel in December is a place to suspend your disbelief, chill out and let your everyday worries disappear. These movies may be sappy and sentimental,  even silly, but they’re good clean entertainment and an instant infusion of holiday fun.

Minority apologist, nay sayers, and fake progressives

There is a disturbing trend in the the media and in the progressive  movement, of timid voices, Trump apologist and negative defeatist and unfocused pseudo revolutionaries disguised as progressives, (some of which might just be government plants). I have heard the statement, that we can not work within a broken system, we must over throw the system; but these people never say how that can be done with out violence. these same people say that marching in the streets and peaceful demonstrations yield no results what soever.

All of the above mentioned myths are dangerous, in one way or another, so for the sake of clarity, I will attempt to address each of these categories of  political saboteurs individually.

First the minority apologist; these men and  women appear to be well educated and rational normal human beings. Their usual spiel is; people don’t give Donald trump a chance, that folks don’t want divisive government and that we should seek compromise with uncompromising republicans, like Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz; all of which were blatant obstructionist to the Obama administration. The history of their obstructionism is evidence enough, I seriously doubt that any of these distinguished gentlemen, have changed their attitudes about cooperating with Democrats in any way shape or form.

Under the Trump administration, things are exponentially worse. So why are you normalizing this unacceptable behavior, by disregarding the truth and denying the obvious. My question to you, Mr. or Ms Minority apologist, is why are you legitimizing a man who obviously thinks that you and the ethnic group you belong to, are basically inferior Untermenschen? Why are you making excuses for a man who refuses to brand Neo Nazis as domestic terrorist? There is no reasoning with the unreasonable men of the Trump administration and their congressional cronies.

Next I’ll address the Nay sayers. I understand that everyone in a forum or a strategy meeting deserves a voice; as a matter of fact those are usually the rules; however another rule of strategy meetings is, do not be negative, negativity is counter-productive. I have seen this on various discussion panels on both national and local programs. One of the most irresponsible comments that I hear is, that protest and demonstrations don’t work. There are  literally  thousands of examples world wide, that disprove this ludicrous belief. Mass demonstrations send a powerful message to those in power, it can also incite  fear in  the ruling elite; which is exactly why they have spent the last half century militarizing local police forces. Instead of dealing with social problems they have chosen to suppress freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. It is our right to protest unfair treatment by the government and if protest didn’t have any effect, Police officers would not use pepper spray on demonstrators, who are peacefully exercising their rights to protest, by simply sitting on the ground.

The other misconception that is expressed, is that working within the system is a failed policy. The diverse progressive block of the Seattle city council have the opposite opinion or they wouldn’t have run in the first place. The council includes Kshama Sawant, Lisa Herbold, Debora Jaurez  and Lorena González, a female majority. With a strong progressive block they have made meaningful changes to public policy including a fifteen dollar an hour minimum wage. When people see what is possible, they stop thinking that their goals are impossible, or pie in the sky as Hillary Clinton described tuition free college education. If there are changes to be made, they have to be made from within the system. The alternative is not pretty and probably involves violence, but most of these cowards who claim that we shouldn’t bother working within the system, won’t come out and say it. If the nay-sayers have a viable alternative that doesn’t include shooting up the country I’d like to hear it.

The third group of disrupters and detractors are the fake progressives. These timid souls claim to be progressive, but their views are more status quo, neo liberal. They are always afraid of rocking the boat or disturbing the progress that has already been made. Their classic lines include, universal health care will never exist. Socialism doesn’t work, Pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies should be part of any health care plan and my favorite, where will the money come from for free college tuition. I have an answer for that; take it from the NCAA ,every penny of it, it’s all stolen from the public any way. The other tell that unmask the fake progressive is, that most Americans will steer clear of anything left leaning and that we need a big tent party to win elections. The truth is, that the populist movement can unite people across party lines  and that most democrats are center left and not center right. We need a return to the progressive policies of Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, Neo- conservatism and Neo-liberalism should be  reviled, not socialism, yet fake progressives use the word socialism with as much disdain as any Republican.

This is not a critique of the Progressive movement,  it is a warning against taking trolls and defeatist seriously. All these people do is misdirect energy,confuse the dialogue and slow down the movement to create an equitable and just society. We can have an intersectional,  multifaceted, people oriented solution to, wealth inequality, never ending wars, pollution and an end to the extraction capitalism of corporate oligarchs.

Tax reform or tax swindle?

I keep hearing the term tax reform being bounced around, by people who have a reputation of applying innocuous names to the most horrid and despicable things. Usually it’s the Republicans that do this, but the top Democrat (cough cough)Obama is also guilty of double speak e.g.
the National Defense authorization act, (NDAA)an act that authorizes indefinite detention for suspected terrorist, or anyone else for that matter. I wonder why a black man would sign such a dangerous bill. Another such horrendous bill is the Patriot Act, that was passed by both parties. Both bills were an assault on democracy, both Republicans and Democrats are responsible. the people are aware of the duplicity and that’s why we have Donald Trump as President. The ground work for a dictatorship has already been laid.

On top of the steady chipping away of our rights, they (meaning the GOP and the DEMs)are figuring out ways to make us a third world country. This so called tax reform bill that Paul Ryan keeps pushing, is nothing more than a redistribution of wealth upward to the one percent. The richest people on the planet, are whining about tax breaks and their Washington lackeys, are more than willing to smile in our faces on television and tell us bald faced lies, about how much good this tax reform bill will do.

Trumps speech on tax reform yesterday, was his usual gibberish with no real details. He’s a smooth operator. Giving tax breaks to corporations and repealing the estate tax, will not help anyone except the super wealthy; while cutting programs like medicaid, medicare, social security and food stamps, will adversely affect the poor, middle income people and the elderly. I’ll let Bernie Sanders explain, he does it a lot better.

Do you see the problem that I have, with calling a junkyard dog, a champion show dog. The budget and the alleged tax reforms go hand in hand, steal from the poor and middle class and give to the rich. We as a nation should be disturbed by this trend forget about wedge issues and ignore the smoke and mirrors and pay attention to the slight of hand going on here. Our tax money supports the government and thats a fact this present republican administration are more or less stealing from all of us to give tax breaks to their class. the wealthy class. vote for your own best interest.

Student Loan Crisis

I worked up to three jobs as a student just to feed myself and put a roof over my head, and that was in 70″s when tuition was a lot cheaper. part of the reason for the inflated tuitions is the NCAA a pernicious parasite that sucks the money out of schools and universities and gives little in return. they are listed as a non profit an insult to anyones intelligence.

Reasons To Resist

The student crisis is not like any crisis this country has seen. It’s not a natural disaster like a hurricane, a medical pandemic like MRSA, or even an inability to stay competitive in the global economy. This is, in fact, man-made. To explain, a national innovation system has three parts, basically schools, companies, and customers. In a functioning system, customers tell companies what they want and companies ask schools to educate students to produce what customers demand. The companies are merely a go-between, and when they decide they don’t want to do that anymore, you get what we have today in the United States.

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Dirty wars (The world is a Battlefield) by Jeremy Scahill

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If you want to know how we got to this point in history, this era of perpetual war, this is a must read book. I had my own views on this subject, but I had no idea that my instincts were right on the money. This book is an absolute mind blower for anyone who is war weary and fed up with U.S. involvement, in the quagmire of middle eastern politics and war. These aren’t the ravings of some conspiracy nut; this is a thoughtful and insightful tome, which pinpoints all of the key moments and key players involved in our present day predicament. Many of the names in the book are familiar to anyone over thirty, especially Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney. There are also names that are still in recent memory, like Generals Mike Flynn, Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus.

Scahill weaves a tale of sketchy and illegal tactics, duplicity and evading congressional oversight. We learn a new vocabulary, the vocabulary of Orwellian double speak, softening the harshness of torture, assassination and assorted war crimes. now we have high value targets, extraordinary renditions and that old standby collateral damage, which translates to, kill, torture and oops we got some civilians.

The rise of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC.) as Rumsfeld’s private army; and it’s incursion into what was once the private domain of the CIA, is quite chilling. Hiding behind the mantra of National security Rumsfeld has perpetrated some of the most deplorable abuses ever committed by a so called civilized nation. We have all heard the stories and seen the photos from Abu Ghraib,Bagram and Guantanamo and of course the higher ups never had anything to do with any wrong doing. Even though all of the evidence points to the leadership for initiating the horrendous methods used against prisoners; national security was used as a reason for hiding evidence from any congressional oversight and answerable only to Rumsfeld and the white house. In this way Rumsfeld was able to not only ignore international law but to misuse executive privilege. These policies were not restricted to the bush administration, but continued through eight years of the Obama administration. Dirty Wars, is a policy primer, instrumental in bringing about an understanding of our present day situation.

SHAME ON YOU NORTHROP GRUMMAN

Recently the Northrop Grumman corporation has aired several commercials, that start off innocently enough with children playing games. In one commercial a boy playing hide and go seek imagines having X-ray vision, to find his chums; fast forward thirty or so years, a man overlooks a tactical map to find enemies of the United States and smiles. The obvious conclusion reached, is that the mans vivid imagination as a child has prompted him to become involved in the business of war.

A second commercial also portrays a group of children, this time, they are peering over a fence into a neighbors yard, watching as mysterious foot prints appear in the muddy soil. A football magically floats and then flies through the air to be caught by a waiting boy. Next we see a girl materialize with a smile of satisfaction for a job well done. Again fast forward into adulthood and we see a young woman developing stealth bombers for Northrop Grumman.

I get it, I know that Northrop Grumman needs bright young people, to infuse new ideas and new blood into their organization; but these commercials seem to be targeting children, kind of like Joe Camel did in the 199os’. Lets face it, the leather jacketed smoking camel, didn’t amuse many adult smokers; and I don’t believe that college aged men and women, or recent graduates, really fell for this crass exploitation of children to advance their agenda. I personally find these commercials offensive, because there are better ways to recruit young people. The military industrial complex Which fuels the war machine is not healthy for Children or any one else.

Children who were not raised in a war zone, don’t understand the horror and the gravity of war. They think of it as a game, where no one gets maimed or killed and at the end of the day every goes home, just like that game of hide and go seek. Commercials, such as the ones mentioned above, have a desensitizing affect on naive American children. War becomes just another game, a continuation of hide and go seek, except the end goal is to capture or kill the enemies of America.

These Northrop Grumman commercials air all day long, easily viewable to millions of children, every day of the week. You can’t tell me that this saturation of the airways does not have an effect on impressionable young people. Growing up in the 1950s and 60s the vestiges of world war two and the Korean war were all around, I attribute my own eagerness, to join the Marine corps and go to Viet Nam and fight for Democracy, as the result of a not so subtle type of brain washing, starting as early as seven years old. I collected army divisional patches and chevrons, my favorite toys were a plastic BAR and a german Luger squirt gun and my collection of plastic molded soldiers representing the axis and allied troops of WW II. The airways back then saturated us with patriotic tales from West point,Men of Annapolis,The Big picture, which aired on Saturday morning kid vid. There were uniforms and guns galore on television in those days I remember with fondness, Captain Gallant of the foreign legion, Tales of the 77th Bengal lancer, sergeant Bilco, Rin tin tin and many more.

This is what happens when society is in a constant state of war. Everything is affected our media our reasoning and our children. We are in the 16th year of an ever expanding war in the middle east, and the holdouts from a bygone era want to re-ignite the cold war, they are grooming another generation of cannon fodder, keeping us forever off balance and in a permanent state of conflict.

WIERD DAYS

Okay! I have been neglecting this blog because things in this country have been getting more and more bizarre and disturbing than usual. We have had police men acting like self appointed executioners in just about every state, on an almost weekly basis without any repercussions; no punishment not even firings just dismissive attitudes, claiming that the person who was killed was an alleged threat to them. I’m sure that 12 year old Tamir Rice was a threat to the clown who exited his police cruiser firing his weapon with fatal results.Closer to home Philando Castill a minnesotan from my old neighbor hood of Falcon heights was wantonly killed by a trigger happy fool who had no business wearing a badge or carrying a gun shot him in his car while he was explaining that he had a permit to carry. I guess permits are only for white men not people of color. If a black man can be callously be gunned down in a neighborhood like Falcon Heights then we are not safe any where in this country.

I started writing this article one day after Philando was killed and I am only finishing it today April 30th 2017. This past few years have been traumatic for every person of color in this country. Now with the Election of Donald Trump Things can only get worse, especially with Jefferson Beauregard Sessions as the Attorney General. Way to go Donald just give the country over to the clan and the Neo-Nazis and stop pretending that you represent all of the people; Every right thinking person in America has been violated by Republican party. Voter cross check voter ID’s Gerrymandered districts closing of polls and DMV’s where among the repertoire of dirty tricks played on the public by the republicans. They are no longer the party of Lincoln bur the party of corporate fascism and the enemies of democracy. Still the ask for our cooperation across party lines and claim that the Democrats and progressives are obstructionist.

We are in a fight for our live and the lives of our children and grand children as well as a fight for the survival of mankind itself. The time for compromise is over and done with now is the time for unwavering resistance to Corporate tyranny brought on by right wing judges and congressional lackeys. The republicans and Libertarians are destroying America and it is time to vote these betrayers humanity and of democracy out of office forever.

You Blew it DNC

Today at 3:23 pm ET. in the second round of voting, Tom Perez won the chairmanship of the Democratic National Committee. I called it at 10:30 am Minnesota time, when I heard that Boynton, Buttigeig and Greene had dropped out. It is apparent that the party did not get the message, that the progressives within the Democratic party,emphatically do not want the old status quo wall street neo-liberals running things. I feel that with Tom Perez at the helm people who do not know about him, will think that holdouts from Debbie Wassermann Schultz may still be running things. We don’t need no stinking moderates to reach across the Isle, and we don’t want the dismissive, east coast wall street Democrats, that refer to us as fly over country.

My fear is, that they have effectively thrown away any chance of a 2018 win or a 2020 win and that our country is lost forever. Unless the Democratic party can show that they are sincere about moving toward a progressive populist agenda; which means, protecting the middle class, maintaining the social safety net and protecting the environment, they will not get the support that they need to take back America.

The time for compromise is over, the time for kowtowing to republicans is over, it is time to get rid of the Phonies who jokingly call themselves public servants, who only serve themselves and their corporate masters. This can not be achieved without the full support of Progressives and old school liberals not neo-liberals, who think more like conservatives.

Remember the Ideas that brought us to this sorry state of affairs were all neo-liberal and neo-conservative ideas. NAFTA CAFTA and the TPP were all supported by that wing of the Democratic party, by collaborating with their colleagues across the aisle. To get a view of what these horrible and misguided beliefs about free trade, which is closer to full blown market monopolies, all you need to do is look up pictures of the closed manufacturing plants in Cleveland, in Detroit, in Pittsburg, or any other once productive industrial city, you will see the complete devastation that Neo-conservativism and Neo-liberalism has wrought throughout our country since the Reagan era deregulation.

If they were smart the Democrats would have all thrown their support behind Keith Ellison, Who was supported by favorites Howard Dean and Bernie Sanders. It would have been much easier to unite the moderates with Ellison, than it will be to unite the various progressive factions, to the party of compromise and surrender. Throwing a biscuit to Kieth Ellison supporters by making him the deputy chairman may or may not work my gut feeling is that too much trust has been lost with long term Democrats and progressives to heal the rift in time for the 2018 elections. We just might see a lot of independents or third party candidates muddying up the waters in the all important upcoming election. All I can say is good luck Democrats we will all be watching you I can only hope that you do the right thing and make that left turn.