Friday, May 27, 2016

After Trump, the Deluge? New Media; New Moment of Risk to Democracy; What Comes Next?

On bad days, I don't think it matters who wins the general election. The Trump phenomenon has gone too far; it is a groundswell of vile, belligerent, violent anger stirred up not only by the right wing media, but all corporate media's pandering to Trump.
"Get him out of here. Get him out of here," Trump bellows at anyone in his audience who disagrees with him. A woman protester was pulled out by her heels, according to one radio or TV news report I heard. Trump is the person so many people want to be president.
I lived in Spain toward the end of the regime of Generalissmo Franco, the last fascist dictator. There was a Guardia Civile in the classroom of all law classes, a student told us.
If the Guardia thought a discussion had become too licentious, he took the barrel of his rifle and pounded it once on the floor. It signaled all discussion must stop. So there was this uneducated civil servant, equipped with a gun and the power of arrest, deciding what could be discussed by the law professor.
Are we headed in this direction, as a society, where the ignorant and narrow-minded dictate what others may think and say?
I have read arguments that Trump is not a fascist, because he does not have an ideology of fascism -- because he has no ideology at all. No one thought Hitler was making much sense either, yet his rambling diatribes energized people, as Trump seems to do.
Trump is a clown to me, but others seemed hypnotized. He works the media, he works people's emotions, and he does it well.
It really doesn't matter whether authoritarianism comes from the left or the right or out of an undefined political nowhere full of slogans and meaningless promises: I'll be the best president. I can promise you that."
Three political lions emerged in the immediate aftermath of the popularization of radio -- Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin. All were charismatic speakers. A devastating world war occurred.
Kennedy rode the crest of the relatively new medium of television with cool good looks, while people who heard his debate with Nixon thought Nixon had won. We lived through a Cold War then.
 Note: The expression, Apres moi, le deluge, is attributed to the Sun King, Louis XIV, whose spending excesses led France down a slippery slope to the revolution of 1789. The quotation also has been attributed to Mme. du Pompadour. 

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Deal with the Devil: Trump, Christie's Mob Ties




The video of Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor, endorsing Donald Trump looked like a man with a gun being held to his back. The impression is so staggering, Christie defended himself to CNN, declaring he was not being held hostage.

The notion of a gun being held to Christie, figuratively or literally, is not from left field if one has a firm grasp of the mob-related corruption in New York-New Jersey. I grew up in upstate New York. Knowledge of political-organized crime corruption is bred into us.

I was a reporter at the Times-Union when the large Capitol complex was being built in Albany at the cusp of the Seventies. Everyone knew someone who worked in construction. The construction crews burned down at night what had been built during the daytime. It was common knowledge.  It was just damned hard to prove that the fire had not been started by night crews to keep warm and got out of control by accident.
           
To identify Trump as a builder in New York construction, and his less successful casino ventures in New Jersey, is to say that he has been in bed with the mob for a long time.

Politifact, in a balanced, well-researched article, points out that Trump may not  have been happy to deal with the mob, has never been charged with a crime, and provides evidence of the longstanding ties.

David Marcus, at the avowedly conservative The Federalist, reports:

"The Atlantic City story starts with Trump’s purchase of a bar, at twice its market value, from Salvatore Testa, a made man in the Philadelphia mafia and son of Philip “Chicken Man” Testa, who was briefly head of the Philly mob after Angelo Bruno’s 1980 killing. Harrah’s casino, half owned by Trump, would be built on that land, and Trump would quickly buy out his partner, Harrah’s Entertainment, and rename the casino Trump Plaza.

"Author Wayne Barrett lays out a slew of suspicious dealings and associations.
Trump Plaza’s connection to the mob didn’t end with the land purchase from Testa. Nicademo “Little Nicky” Scarfo (who became boss after the elder Testa was blown up) and his nephew Phillip “crazy Phil” Leonetti controlled two of the major construction and concrete companies in Atlantic City. Both companies, Scarf, Inc. and Nat Nat, did work on the construction of Harrah’s, according the State of New Jersey Commission of Investigation’s 1986 report on organized crime," concludes Marcus.

Not coincidentally, Christie is New Jersey and literally has family connections to crime.

 It strains my credulity that Christie, with his fat ass stuffed on manicotti, has not kissed the ring of a mob boss or two. In fact, Christi complained that he looked like a mob boss in a photo on Time magazine cover.

What can one say but, "If it looks like a duck, maybe it is a duck." Does it walk like a duck?

The New York Times reports that Christie visited Tino Fumera, a mob boss and family relation, in prison. In 2002, he recused himself as New Jersey top prosecutor when Fumera was involved.  As with Trump, the connections span time. It looks like a duck, it walks like a duck, and in the endorsement video, I submit it quacks like a duck.

Is it far-fetched to ask if what I shall genteelly call behind-the-scenes pressure was put on Christie to support Trump? It would not be the first time organized crime has been implicated in presidential politics. “In his 1997 book, The Dark Side of Camelot, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh alleged that the elder Kennedy eventually did meet with Giancana in Chicago, to solicit his support for JFK in the general election” (National Geographic History.
           
But the Kennedys had class and idealistic values, qualities Donald Trump lacks.

Republican Party elders are saying they have to support this Fascist meglomaniac if he wins the popular vote.  This is a deal with the Devil.  The Republican Party in Weimar Germany believed that Hindenberg was the only person who could stop Hitler from being elected. Hitler was appointed vice chancellor to Hindenberg and arrogated power to himself when Hindy died in office. Then Hitler disbanded the elected Reichstag. 

Appeasing bullies is a slippery slope to Hell. It did not turn out well for Germany or Europe the last time appeasement of a power-made lunatic was tried.

The only firewall between Trump and power at this point is the Democratic candidate. Hillary does not fill me with hope. Polls and surveys suggest she is perceived as unlikable. She  carries her own corruption baggage. As in the case of Trump, no political slime has resulted in criminal charges. But perception, not truth, is what prevails in today’s over-mediated society.

Bernie Sanders is the only candidate whose stacks up in likeability to Trump's obscene reality-show posturing and charismatic strong-man bullying.

Political analysts suggest that Trump represents the authoritarian strain in US politics. No secular organization is more authoritarian than organized crime. It’s dog eat dog, kill or be killed, and Trump is a bully in the stamp of a godfather. The nouveau riche gaudy gold trappings of his vision of what success means is straight out of the Sopranos’ playbook.

America, be very scared when Trump starts offering the Republican Party a deal they are saying they can’t refuse.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Bucket List with a Big Helping of Comfort and Stability

American popular culture has made it  fashionable to have a bucket list as a requiem for one's youth. And to then go out and do whatever crazy dang thing is on the list.

This presumably shows character.

I did as many of the dang crazy things I could afford when I was younger. Quite a few are X-rated and others I refuse to acknowledge because my answer may incriminate me. My adventures have been naughty enough so that I am not going to tell them, and on the other side, sufficiently intellectual and fantasist to bore you.

A bucket list, it seems, benefits from the inclusion of extreme sports — parachute jumping, rock climbing, deep sea diving — as proof one is going to live every moment.

Even packing off to the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in India is acceptable, showing adventurousness and intercultural curiosity.

My bucket list does not have an extreme sports or jaw-dropping excursions. I will jump out of an airplane wearing a parachute the day a terrorist points a gun at me and says, “Jump or I’ll shoot.”

My bucket list is simple.

I want to live in a house in Florida where I can have dogs. I want to have two or three, and I want to rescue dogs, particularly poodles.

I would love to have purebreds; they are such a joy. But at this point in aging and maturity, I feel called to relieve some suffering.

I want the house to be energy efficient, secure, in a neighborhood with some businesses and nice vintage homes, perhaps a few mid-century modern buildings that are such a delightful part of Florida architecture.

I want to be part of a dog training and/or rescue group, attend Jung and Sufi events here and on the Eastern seaboard, perhaps other places. Find someone with whom to attend jazz concerts.

I’d like to visit a friend in England, visit Glastonbury and other places known for their ley lines, get into Ireland and Scotland, explore for a month at least. Visit France one last time. Not sure if I want to return to Spain. Would like to see Jung’s home in Switzerland and experience that country.

I’d like to make a good friend or two.

I’d like to spend more time on my health, make exercise a priority.

Get away from the TV. Spend more time with music, reading, writing.

The simple life.