Wednesday, December 21, 2016

5.2 From Russia with Love

When I was in middle school, Russia was still the Red Menace. One of my Social Studies teachers basically described the Soviet Union as a third-world country, it’s citizens all starving and grungy. Glasnost, Russia’s transition to a more democratic system, began while I was still in high school, so it wasn’t long before the truth became more apparent, to me. However, many folks who had lived under the threat of nuclear annihilation, for longer than I had, continued to harbor at least suspicions of Russia’s intentions toward us and the rest of the world.

When Vladimir Putin became president in 1999, an office he inherited following the resignation of Boris Yeltsin, those worries were suddenly valid again. After all, we were talking about a former KGB spy who was good enough to rise fairly quickly up the ranks. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Putin continued to rise, until he ended up running the FSB, what the KGB eventually turned into. It wasn’t long before Yeltsin tapped him to be his successor, and he essentially got to run as the incumbent when Yeltsin quit. Putin has managed to hold onto power ever since, in influence, if not directly in name.

So, what has Russia become over the past seventeen years?

They’ve pretty much become the world’s bully. They’ve clamped down on their press. They’ve invaded and annexed land from former soviet countries that don’t agree with their policies. They jailed, killed or disappeared those who oppose Putin or his policies. They’ve used their veto power in the UN Security Council to block efforts at stability or peace, or to stop consensus on actions against Human Rights violations against countries they are allied with, or have plans to do so. Their own Human Rights record is tainted, particularly in their overt disdain for LGBTQ rights. And if the FBI and all of our intelligence agencies are to be believed, they interfered in our election by having DNC servers hacked and distributing stolen emails, many with their own propagandist’s spin, in an attempt to sway the election.

Yes, I’m saying it was an attempt to sway the results of our most recent Presidential Election. Why else do it? For shits & giggles? I don’t think so. Whether Putin and his cronies achieved the desired effect may be debatable, until we learn more, but this was definitely more than an attempt to sow chaos. Several of Don Presidente’s own words and choices, as well as recent history, make that very obvious.

While the connections between the incoming administration

are numerous, let me focus on just a few. We are all aware of Il Douche’s admiration of Putin. That’s well documented, even in his own words. It’s no coincidence that Putin’s rise to power was orchestrated around increased law and order, ending corruption, draining the swamp of the oligarchs that threatened to destroy the country, fighting the Muslim Terrorist Threat from Chechnyaa region of Russia that was fighting for independence, and regaining the power on the world stage they had lost when the Soviet Union fell apart. Basically, Putin grabbed the reins by promising to Make Russia Great Again. How could Chump not have anything but affection for the man who wrote the playbook he would use to become the most powerful person in the world, himself?

What is not as well documented are the financial connections between his Organization and Russia. There are rumors that, when his repeated bankruptcies made it hard for him to borrow money in the U.S., he turned to Russian banks for financing. Of course, these will remain only rumors while he refuses to release his tax returns.
One thing that is widely known is the connection between his choice for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, and Russia. Most of us know about the buddy-buddy relationship between Tillerson and Putin. They’ve been working together since the Yeltsin days. Tillerson was even awarded the Order of Friendship by Putin! But it goes deeper than that. Their story actually tells us a lot about why this alliance is forming.

Tillerson was practically Exxon’s ambassador to Russia. Through him, they engineered hundreds of billions of dollars worth of projects, many extending out into the Arctic Circle, an area we have, so far, managed to keep ourselves from exploiting. After Russia’s intervention in areas of the Ukraineretribution for the 2014 Revolution, where the people rose up against pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, forcing his removalwe imposed sanctions that ground that deal to a halt. Russia’s deal. Exxon’s deal. A big, fucking deal!

We all know Don Presidente’s feelings about climate change. It’s a hoax, perpetrated by China. It’s also a boon to anyone who wants to drill in the Arctic.

With a picture this clear, it strikes me as dumbfounding to see

the abrupt shift among many towards Russia and its intentions. We’re now supposed to trust a man whose intentions are obvious, if you know where to look? His aggressions against his neighbors show he intends to rebuild Russia’s empire, by whatever means necessary. His political manipulations show he intends to stay in power for as long as he can manage it. His willingness to continue tapping oil despite a lack of demand shows he intends to enrich himself and his friends, not his people. His intervention in our politics show he intends to manipulate the American people for his own gains.

What does all that say about Don Presidente and his intentions?

Feel free to draw your own conclusions, but the evidence is pretty damning. If we’re going to survive the Trumpocalypse, we need to be clear about what that man is doing while he’s in office. We need to be clear about why he’s doing it? Knowing what you’re fighting against is essential if you plan on winning.


As of the initial publication of this post, Obama has announced sanctions against the Russians for their interference, namely an expulsion of 35 Russian intelligence operatives, as well as the shutdown of two Russian compound in the U.S.

House Speaker Paul Ryan showed his support for the new sanctions, stating that “Russia does not share America’s interests. In fact, it has consistently sought to undermine them, sowing dangerous instability around the world.”

Former Republican maverick, Senator John McCain issued a joint statement with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham saying, "The retaliatory measures announced by the Obama administration today are long overdue. But ultimately, they are a small price for Russia to pay for its brazen attack on American democracy. We intend to lead the effort in the new Congress to impose stronger sanctions on Russia."

And how did our soon to be feckless leader respond? Basically with a basic nothing to see here; move along. So, as long as the results are what he wanted, he just doesn't give a fuck. Spy as thou will! Apparently, he does care about Putin's response to the sanctions, though.

When Putin decided not to retaliate, he praised him, yet again:

Image result for obama sanctions russia trump response tweet
Of course, it makes perfect sense, especially if you consider he will likely remove all American sanctions against Russia. Putin doesn't have to retaliate. He can pretend to be rising above it all, knowing Obama's sanctions will have no lasting effect. Meanwhile, the man that's supposed to lead this country will only lead us to nothing more than some very dark days. It looks like most of his time in office will be spent leading big bucks into his own pockets, as well as those of his richest friends.


"While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election, including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines."
What I find interesting his downplaying of what Russia did by adding other countries not in the report into the conversation. Also, there was no investigation of any tampering of voting machines, nor a look at the effect the hacking and the subsequent distribution of the pilfered emails and the misinformation campaign.

What does that tell us. While trying to save face under the weight of incontrovertible evidence, by adding elements he knows nothing about, he's still trying to salvage his relationship with Putin. So basically, Don Presidente is bought and paid for.


While finally admitting Russian involvement in the DNC hack (despite downplaying it), Chump denies being blackmailed by Putin. More on the incriminating document, in the upcoming Master of Puppets.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

4.0 Rainbow in the Dark

By now, you may have realized my entries for this blog are titled after songs. You may have also noticed I also add a video of some version of the song at the bottom of each post. The choice to do this was pretty much by chance. Each song was intended to promote the ideas behind, or the inspiration for the entry. In a perfect world, the video would autoplay as you began reading it's corresponding entry to add to the experience. As we all know, of course, this is far from a perfect world.

Lately, Dio's been on my mind, a lot. Maybe it's because it's coming up on the seventh year anniversary of lead singer Ronnie James Dio's death. Maybe it's just because Dio was the first band I paid to go see in the mid 80s. But Dio had a few hits back in its day. Why is this the one earworm I haven't been able to shake?

I'm not particularly religious, but I do have what some might claim is an irrational belief in signs. Recently, it felt like the signs all starting to come together. 

  I learned of the man who went to a restaurant in D.C. and
opened fire, demanding to get answers for a story he'd read. It turns out he'd read a fake news story about the owners of that business running a child sex ring from the restaurant with the help of Hillary Clinton and her former campaign chairman, John Podesta.

The only thing linking this story to any semblance of truth was, according to some of the hacked emails posted by Wikileaks, that Podesta organized a fundraiser there for HRC's campaign, and that the general manager who exchanged emails with Podesta to plan the event was connected to the founder of Media Matters. They had exchanged emails, some of which were worded weirdly. Sprinkle in to this some supposedly secret code based on food products, from 4chan of all places, try to pass that off as evidence, & viola, a conspiracy is born!

It's a frightening reminder of how easily a benign situation can be twisted into some dark conspiracy, a sobering reminder of how quickly these stories can be spread and believed, and a sad reminder of how some people, perceiving injustices that never existed, are willing to risk the lives of innocents in foolhardy attempts at meting out justice on their own. Thankfully, no one was hurt, this time. But I hope we can all understand the danger.

Not as dangerous, but just as troubling in some ways, I came across a meme posted on Facebook with an image of some unknown man, face riddled with piercings, chomping on a cigar. It offered a simple caption: describe him with one word. One of my so-called conservative friends who had posted it chose Democrat. The following responses were demented, unemployable, overdone, and welfare. I was bothered by the lack of context provided with the picture, so I called it as I saw it: propaganda.

My caption, just as viable as any other considering the lack of context, raised some questions, and apparently irritated some. I politely pointed out that, because of that lack of context, anything anyone was saying was purely based on their own internal biases as there was nothing in the photo that provided any real connection to their captions.

There was no way to know if these were tribal adornments, or that the man was an artist or musician, or even employed by a tattoo & piercing parlor, making him a walking billboard for his business. There was no way to tell that the man was even American. Therefore, like Don Presidente himself, the man in the picture served as a cipher, someone upon which others could project their own hopes and aspirations, or their fears and hatred. To me, it appeared that the post was simply a bunch of people shouting at the shadows in their own head.

Then came the song, again:

When there's lightning,
you know it always brings me down
'cause it's free and I see that it's me
Who's lost and never found
I cry out for magic, I feel it dancing in the light
It was cold, I lost my hold
To the shadows of the night

No sign of the morning coming
You've been left on your own
Like a rainbow in the dark...

Do your demons, do they ever let you go?
When you've tried, do they hide, deep inside
Is it someone that you know
You're just a picture, you're an image caught in time
We're a lie, you and I
We're words without a rhyme

There's no sign of the morning coming
You've been left on your own
Like a rainbow in the dark

 It dawned on me. One interpretation of the song could be that it speaks about those of us addicted to darkness. It's quite apparent that there are people who live in their own darkness, rainbows that are stuck in the shadows that haunt their minds. Rainbows can't thrive in the dark. Technically, they can't even exist there.

How do we reach them? How do we pull these rainbows out into the light? They don't trust politicians, media, or anyone who's not already a member of their own deafening echo chambers. They don't even trust logic. We may not be so lucky with the next armed, misinformed, misguided fool looking to take the law into his own hands. Not to mention, we need them to be able to determine fact from fiction, news from propaganda, in order for them to join the fight. It doesn't make it easier that Don Presidente knows just how to tap that darkness to feed them the information that helps his own causes. After all, this man began his campaign by espousing one of those theories, in particular, the idea that President Obama was not born in the U.S.

I wish I had all the answers, but sometimes, knowing the right questions to ask is just as important. I am learning what not to do. Insulting them or dismissing them as crazy or stupid doesn't work. All it does is drive them further into their black caves and take us off the hook for having to keep trying to reach them. You can't fight darkness with darkness. That only feeds it.

Personally, I will continue to reach out to my friends who are stuck in this deep pit. I will keep sharing my own light, along with the truths they may refuse to see for the time being. If things get as bad as I hope they don't, they will eventually want out. They'll be ready to shine, again. They'll be ready to take on the fight with us. I'll hang around as long as I need to, just in case they need a hand.

Monday, December 5, 2016

3.0 Resistance

You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. Abraham Lincoln
Lest you think this will be little more than some touchy feely, All you need is Love kind of blog, let me take a moment to clarify its purpose. Yes, I believe Love is essential to healing the gashes between us, the gashes expertly exploited by those who prefer power to people, to distract from their misdeeds by turning us into bickering factions. However, while Love is needed, it won't be enough.

We also need to resist. We must fight back. We need to show that bloated baboon of a buffoon that we will not sit back quietly while he dismantles civil rights, dismantles our economy, dismantles our democracy.

This blog is my form of resistance. I want it to serve as a place to rally, to separate the wheat of essential information from the chaff of all the propaganda we're constantly being fed. I also want it to serve as a platform to honor others willing to rise up, willing to speak truth to power.

In that spirit, I want to point your attention to Danielle Muscato. Danielle called Don Presidente out after another of his sad tweets complaining about Alec Baldwin's portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live

Not only does she take him down on his thin-skinned pettiness, she goes on to break down the argument against having such a contemptible human being represent Us.

Thank you, Danielle, for saying what so many of us have been thinking. Thank you for your courage and your inspiration. I stand with you.

Friday, December 2, 2016

2.0 Let It Be

I have to try real hard not to hate Don Presidente voters. They've likely just condemned this country to years of regressive policies. We will likely lose a lot of the ground we've made on Climate Change. We will likely see new Supreme Court Justices eager to reverse or curtail reproductive and equal rights. We may very well see families split up for the sake of reducing the number of undocumented residents. Worst of all, perhaps, is that we are likely to witness a freeze in the move to reverse the trend of mass incarceration that has been plaguing black communities for decadesa return to the new Jim Crow that includes a continuation of voter suppression under the guise of voter fraud prevention.

However, they can only be blamed so much. As I've mentioned before, his voters simply gave in to manipulations that started long ago. The rise of right wing media and the demonization of mainstream media helped prime the target audience. The constant drumbeat that failed policies, like Supply Side (Trickle Down) Economics can work. The misdirection of being continually told that the nation's problems were the fault of, well, pick a group: Democrats, liberals, socialists, elitists, immigrants, minorities, feminists...

The list of the demonized is a long one.

Those of us that claim progressive values didn't help. We demonized them right back. We called them stupid, gullible, hateful fearmongers. We shoved our agendas down their throats, and expected them to swallow it without complaint. Between the actions of the manipulators and those of us who only wanted to push the nation forward, at all costs, those poor marks were no longer able to tell what was good or bad, anymore.

I didn't help that we had international trade deals created by elites, for elites. Sure, for many, trade deals are great! A lot of people made tons more money, primarily corporate interests. But not enough care was given to the industries and workers who were affected negatively. Even programs created to offset the bad side effects of these trade deals, like Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), have only invested a fraction of the profits American companies make off them. For every dollar they got, those losing factories and jobs got pennies, and the newer jobs paid less.

It was only natural that the white, working class populations of red states, already primed to distrust the rest of us, would only grow to resent the rest of the country. It was only natural that they would counter progressive messages of unity, love and equal rights for all, and instead, would be drawn to messages of intolerance and division. 

All it took was a Master Manipulator to drop into the arena, like a nuclear bomb. All it took was one man that could help focus all the misinformation, all the outright lies posing as facts, all the mistrust, all the intolerance and hate. All it took was a true cipher, a blank slate upon which they could project their despair and aspirations. The rest is history, assuming there will be such a thing as history left.

So, while I want to hate them, I can't. Better yet, I won't. What's the point? My hate doesn't affect them. It only affects how I feel about them. If it does have any effect, it's only to further alienate them, further drive them away.

And now the hatred is spreading. I'm not talking about the rise of the alt-right, as white supremacists prefer to be called, now. I'm talking about the hatred I alluded to in the inaugural post for this blog, the finger pointing and shaming going on within generally progressive camps. Many of us are mad at Jill Stein voters. Many of us are mad at the people who voted for Gary Johnson. Many of us are mad at those who opted to stay home and give us the lowest turnout in twenty years.

But they were also victims. The far left was just as susceptible to the fake news and conspiracy theories. Many more pragmatic Republicans that couldn't pull the lever for the Worst Case Scenario opted for Johnson. Many tentative voters didn't know what to believe, or were absolutely disgusted by the campaigns. They saw no reason to go to the polls. They didn't see the danger. Like me, they believed the polls. They didn't have to vote to prevent an electoral tragedy.

Like Brexit, there was plenty of remorse in the days following the election. The difference, however, is that we're not just going to be pulled back from the global market. With a majority in both houses of Congress and a conservative Supreme Court, he's essentially been handed a blank check, despite the fact that most Americans didn't vote for him

Yet, those who defiantly voted for a third party candidate remain defiant. They stand by their choice, by their insistence that their consciences would not allow them to vote for such a "vile" woman. It makes hating them, too, very easy.

Don't! We can't afford to. We can't afford to hate anyone, even the Hate Pumpkin, himself. We should hate acts, deeds, not the people committing them, anyway.

We can't afford it because when the honeymoon is finally over, when the rest of us finally see the reality of this country's choice, only by uniting will we be able to head off any impending disaster, or at least soften the blow.

I'm not claiming to know how bad things will get. Despite the title of this blog, I don't have any crystal ball to tell me this presidency, unchecked, will lead to the end our grand experiment in democracy. Maybe we'll get lucky. Maybe he will end up just being a footnote in American history: mostly harmless. Maybe not, though.

And if not, it's going to take the kind of unity never seen in this nation to put an end to it. We're going to need everyone we can get to rise against even the slightest threat of tyranny, the smallest attack on our freedoms, especially speech. They may be able to shut a some of us up, but they can't shut us all up.

None of this is possible in the state that we're in now. We'll just be a bunch of fools shouting at each other, floundering while the world burns.

Stop unfriending people you don't agree with. Stop calling the friends you've kept names. Understand that they are also hurting. Understand that they also want to see a brighter future for their children. Understand that we've all been conned, to one degree or another. For some, it will take longer for them to see that. Some may never see it.

The best advice I can give you, right now, is to take whatever grudge you're harboring, whatever ill will, give it one last glance, know you never want to be there again, then let it be.

1.0: Come Together

So, here we are. Hopefully, you’ve been paying attention and realize how we got here. Now the questions needs to be: What exactly do we have? How do we survive it? And what can be done about it?

To understand what we have, you first need to understand who’s in control. The answer’s obvious, but I don’t just mean the man who will soon be our president. I mean the man that he is, the man he’s been. What I and others have noticed is that the man fits a specific archetype that’s troubling, even dangerous if combined with potentially darker personality traits. 

Whether he is mostly harmless, a sociopath, a psychopath is still in question. What’s not in question is that he is a Narcissistic Master Manipulator

His favorite technique seems to be Pacing & Leading. The manipulator "paces" the public by mimicking his target’s emotional state. He then pushes those emotions by making statements that may be even more extreme than they ever would make. That's what really draws them in. 

"The economy/politicians/media/etc. are even worse than we thought! He gets it. He has my vote!"

Once he's manipulated his target audience into believing he is the biggest badass on a given topic, he can then "lead." Since no one understands said topic(s) as well as he has made them believe he does, he is then free to "lead" them to whatever position he really wants to promote, because his target has already been manipulated to trust him, implicitly.

So, what’s his endgame? What does a Narcissistic Master Manipulator really want? He's likely to "lead" everything to the center in order to widen his trust with the public. That will set him up for an "O, he wasn't that bad" re-election campaign. It's the Narcissist aspect we can't ignore, though. That means whatever he's out for, it needs to benefit him, most. That it actually benefits anyone else is just gravy. Gravy is always a part of any good con.

So, what’s the con?

My guess is that, at best, he just wants to enhance his brand. What better way to expand the brand than to attain the highest office in the land, if not the world. If that's the case, watch for him to be more mascot than president, traveling & making appearances that make America, & by default himself, look Great. Actual governing will be left up to others.

At worse, he wants use the office to benefit his businesses. For signs of that, look for him to do nothing about the conflicts of interest created by his office & his family's business. If he liquidates, we'll know he's thinking of Americans first. If he justs hands it all off to his kids, you can be pretty sure there will be deals being cut that will directly benefit The Organization, both domestically & abroad. If he holds to his proposed economic policy, the nation will suffer.

At worst, he wants power for power’s sake. People like that don’t like to give it up. If that’s the case, look for increased domestic surveillance, suppression of the media & free speech, likely through litigation. The slightest excuse might lead to a state of emergency, extending & possibly prolonging his power. 

We've all been manipulated, to one degree or another, for a long time. None of us are any less guilty than the other. It opened the door for a Master Manipulator to step in & turn it all to his advantage. Everybody already sort of hated the other. All that needed to be done was to stoke the right fires in the right places at the right times, & viola...

In a sense, what's happening now is part of a continuing manipulation. Not only are the divisions of one side against "the other" laid bare & hurting, now there's infighting, groups usually seeking common goals blaming & shaming each other. We've been royally Trumped!

Now we need to heal. We need to come together. ALL of us. If we continue to distract ourselves with the petty squabbles, no one will be watching while he takes it all down, or all for himself. It’s not a question of whether or not we can survive this. We can. We will. Society moves on despite oligarchs & tyrants. The real question is can we come out of this intact? The answer depends on whether we can get past the blaming, the guilt, the fear, and the hate. If we can turn our attention to what really matters, I like our prospects. I hope this blog can play a role in that healing, however small.

Until next time, here's a little mood music: