Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Resistance Versus Temper Tantrums

This is what political protest looks like in a civilized society where respect and commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict exist. 

 The women counter workers at Woolworth staged a sit-in strike for better wages and conditions. And won.

This is a picture of peaceful protest at the Woolworth lunch counter demanding the rights of blacks to sit at the counter: 

With time, courage, and commitment, they won.

This is a temper tantrum:

I want to point out the difference to you. I want you to know what gets results and what emotionally immature people try to do in order to get their way. I want you to understand the commitment required to actually make real and necessary change in the world and how it differs from being temporarily inconvenienced and wanting to get your way through an impotent show of emotions.

I see a hell of a lot of protest and “resistance” lately, and it looks a lot more like a temper tantrum than a commitment to actual change.

 Perhaps it was punk rock and the establishment support it received. An entire generation was taught that legitimate resistance could be expressed in primal emotion that was as much about personal expression as it was about ideas.

How has that worked out for you? What improvements have you made by emotional outbursts or crudeness? What good has rage and lack of civility and cocking off gotten any movement anywhere at any time?

Whatever success attained through emotional rather than disciplined, thoughtful, and self-sacrificing resistance has been more on the surface than in depth. It has been built on shaky foundations and the process of undermining was immediately begun. It has led use down the path of delusion rather than the path to progress.

To achieve progress, you must clearly demonstrate you have the moral high ground. Any movement for peace, justice, or equality will never succeed through force or hatred. Nothing positive will come from such tactics. Force will not change people’s perceptions, it will only reinforce force as the only real agent of change. And force will always devolve into injustice, inequality, and violence.

There is another way, but it requires appealing to people’s better nature, not their baser one. If you want to draw a clear distinction between your cause and the forces that oppose it, you had better treat that cause with the respect it deserves. You had better act with dignity for the cause, and that must include a larger respect for universal values. You must align your cause with all that is good and healthy in the world. To do that you must show respect to those who oppose you. You must demonstrate in your own behavior what you expect from others.

I have shared images of serious protest. Perhaps I have given the wrong impression by implying that intelligent protests led by deeply held convictions is an easy thing. It’s not. When you want to effect change, real change, there will be resistance. People comfortable with the status quo are not going to lightly permit change, even if the change is right or will lead to a better world for all. That’s just the way people are, they grow comfortable with how things are even if things aren’t very good. People, like sheep, are skittish. They are most comfortable when in the fold.

When you commit yourself to change, to progress, there is backlash. Here we see what people had to endure in order to upset the apple cart:

Those who fear change will seek to provoke you. They will try to drag you down to their level. You must resist such provocations, because if you don't you will have lost the cause you purport to stand for. You step down from your position of moral authority, which is your greatest defense. It is like leaving a castle on a hill to come down to face your enemy on his own terms.

Of course, the sort of resistance that makes real change will require sacrifice and work. That, more than anything, is why we resort to emotional gestures, rudeness, and violence. It is because we are not eager for the commitment involved. Because we are lazy, or basically satisfied, or lack a true adult approach to life, we convince ourselves to act out as a way of achieving change. It has worked before, in small ways, in immediate but superficial ways. But like a child who gets his way through such outbursts, it is not healthy for us in the long term. In the end, we will need to take an adult approach to politics and social concerns if we are ever to make a better society. This will require such adult concepts as dignity, commitment, sacrifice, rising above petty squabbles, and seeing beyond the immediate distractions to a long-term goal. It will require us not becoming distracted by what those forces resistant to change try to confuse us with. It will require coming together despite our differences, because the change we wish to make is not only desirable but necessary.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Home Alone: A Real Life Story

Once upon a time there was a boy whose parents had to go out of town. The boy, a young teenager, did not want to go with them and asked his parents if he might not stay home. He promised them that if they let him stay home not only would he behave, he would clean the house up while they were gone. Now the step-father didn’t trust this kid as far as he could throw him. As long as he had known the kid he had never done anything for anyone other than himself. But the mother for some reason could not see the obvious flaws in her child. Perhaps it was because the father was always berating him and she felt it was her job to support him. Whatever the case, the dad weakly protested but ended up giving in to the mother like he always did, just as the mother always gave in to her child.

So they left the spoiled child in charge of the household, and predictably, the moment he was in charge, he invited all his miscreant buddies over to “take care” of the house. The idea was that if he took good care of his buddies that they would in turn help with the house. It was flawed thinking but flawed thinking never stopped an immature teenager from doing anything.

The kids had one hell of a party, and made one hell of a mess. The liquor cabinet was immediately raided, the entire store of groceries for the month was eaten or else wasted in a food fight, and many precious family heirlooms were broken in the mindless reverie. When all the food and the liquor were gone, the kid’s friends started looking through the parents’ dresser drawers to find some money so they could order a pizza and get some adult to buy them beer. And sure enough, they found various stashes of money, some stored up for a rainy day, some being intended for the kids’ education expenses, and other amounts intended for charitable contributions. There was even a pile set aside to help pay for helping take care of grandpa when he was no longer capable of taking care of himself. These kids didn’t care about anyone but themselves and their immediate pleasures, and the kid who lived there didn’t mind because his buddies thought he was cool and he really didn’t care about grandpa or charity anyway.

They took it all, every bit of loose change, and everything that could be converted to cash in order that they could have one hell of a party, because they couldn’t see anything beyond their own short-term selfish interests. They even found the mom’s credit card, and racked up more debt than even they realized.

They got high, and they got drunk. They didn’t give a f*ck. They had cheap sex with lewd young women on the parents’ bed. They broke things just because they could. They peed in places other than the bathroom because it wasn’t their house.

The only problem was, they were having so much fun, they forgot the parents would eventually find out. They did. They came home a day earlier than they were supposed to, not that it would have mattered much one way or the other. The place was wrecked and there was no way these kids were ever going to repair the damage they had done, let alone make it cleaner than before. Arriving home and assessing the situation, both parents were able to see the son for what he was. The mother, who loved her son because he was hers, finally realized what she had allowed him to become. She realized the damage that had been done because of her foolish trust in a son who had never exhibited behavior worth putting her trust in.

The father gazed upon the devastation caused by this spoiled child and his delinquent buddies and it finally dawned on him how he had tolerated his bad behavior and his wife’s denial for too long, that he himself had been complicit in allowing the boy’s bad behavior because he did not want to make tough choices and be the adult the other two needed in their lives. He had always been content to meekly suggest that the mother might be wrong, but he never really communicated with her on an adult level, resorting instead to childish putdowns of the child. He timidly tiptoed at the edges of the issue while avoiding the obvious problems that needed to be tackled head on.

But in the end the parents realized they must never again leave their house in the protection of an immature and narcissistic individual. The day is coming, and it won’t be long, when even the most apologetic of voters—er, parents will no longer be able to ignore the behavior of their spoiled, selfish president. I mean son.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Beauty And Truth: A Guide For Writers And Other Human Beings

I have a knack for saying things no one wants to hear. Why do I feel the urge to say such things? Because no one else is. In a world where everything is determined by the market, no one wants to speak unpopular opinions for fear of tarnishing their “brand”, of alienating potential market segments, of potentially making less money. But writing to me is not primarily about making money, it is about providing the world with something useful. Therefore, let me provide some atypical suggestions for writers.

My advice to writers would be this: be honest, be bold, and be articulate. I considered adding “be passionate”, but one cannot be bold without a good amount of passion.

You need to be bold, need to believe your writing matters. Because the time you spend writing will be time ripped from your children, your widowed mother, your friends and family members. It will be time away from household chores and repairs, from playing with puppies under blue skies on summer days. MAKE THAT TIME COUNT. Imagine you are bringing into the world something it desperately needs, some new insight or a pathway forwards from lives that can sometimes seem meaningless. You write in order to give the world hope, or beauty, or truth, or joy. If you cannot give that to the world through your writing, perhaps you can give it to others in your immediate life through your presence. In other words, perhaps writing is not the appropriate medium for you. The overall goal is not to write, but to give to the world something you alone can give. Each of us has something unique to give the world, some of us do so through writing. That is a bold notion, but it is the only one that can keep me from stopping my work and giving my dog a belly rub, or fixing that leaky sink.

You’ll have to convince yourself that even those moments of doing nothing while settling in are more important than anything else on your agenda. Of course, you will have to learn when to flip that switch from procrastinating to creating. Procrastination is a necessary part of the writing process, because we need to stay in the physical writing area even when the drive and the inspiration is taking a break. It is an important skill to determine how much is too much distraction.

Be bold enough to give the world something new. Take a quick gander at the books on the shelves of your local thrift shop, peruse Amazon, or go to your library’s next book sale. The amount of books available not only for sale but being given away is almost unimaginable. And most of them differ little from a thousand others just like them. If you write for yourself, then by all means write however you wish, walk down a trail blazed by countless others before you, many of whom defined and perfected the genre. But if you write to be read, present readers with something new, something fresh, something different. Elevate your writing so that your book might be elevated above the millions of others sitting on the shelves.

Be honest. Writing is communication. Fiction, even science fiction and fantasy, is a mere framework upon which we can hang enduring truths. Let your characters be real and let them act according to understandable motivations. There’s nothing that bothers me more when a writer has a character do something to further the plot when it makes little sense to the character’s character.

Make your heroes and your villains real. Invest a degree of your own motivations in them. Place into their characters qualities you recognize and understand from people you know.

Make them human. We have enough celebrities and fictional characters who give to us a false sense of what human beings are. Perhaps they sell product, but it comes at the expense of humanity’s understanding of itself. You have an obligation as a writer to your readers, not simply to entertain them, but to enrich them. If you believe your only obligation is to entertain readers, you are like a parent who allows his children to eat anything they want. You are like a restaurant owner who loads his dishes with lard and salt. You are like a man who tells a woman exactly what she wants to hear in order for him to get what he wants. You are responsible for what you write, there’s no denying it, no tossing that responsibility upon the market place and leaving it to decide morality. Trusting the market to be the arbiter of morality hasn’t worked, doesn’t work, and it will be the ruin of humanity if we continue to make excuses for creating bad writing.

Be articulate. Choose your words carefully. Read them out loud and see if they speak to you the way you intended them to sound.

This is where the art and craft come in, rather than passion and vision.

Make sure the words you use do not accidentally convey a different meaning. But at the same time, do not be afraid to have your words convey more than one meaning or one idea at a time. Writing, especially fiction, is capable of layering meanings and motifs atop one another. Your writing can convey a surface message while also including underlying meaning. Like musical composition, writing can contain notes beyond those in the melody that not only augment the central idea but contain meaning and rhythm of their own.

I know this advice overlooks the primary concern most writers are wanting to have answered, namely: “How do I get rich from writing?” That is because “How do I get rich/successful?” should never be a question you should ask. You, as both a human being and a writer, should pursue passion rather than riches. Riches are a poor substitute for having lived a passionate life. You cannot hold on to your riches for long. They don’t, in the end, provide either security or validation of your worth to others. When you die, your riches will be given to others, and the least worthy and least moral among them will be the ones to sponge up whatever estate you hope to bequeath to your loved ones.

But your honesty, your passion, and your appreciation for craft have a chance at reaching out into eternity. What you create in such a fashion will always find the right people. It will encourage them to do better, to be better. You will be held in the highest of esteem by those most like you. Who could aspire to more?

Monday, November 13, 2017

Blue Collar Workers And Donald Trump

A picture of my co-workers and me on the last day before final layoffs began.

This year I started a new job after the company I worked at for over twenty years, Manitowoc Cranes, packed up and moved from the city for which it was named. I now work with fellow former Manitowoc Cranes employees—some with nearly thirty years seniority—who are having to start once again at the bottom. I also am working with former employees of Algoma Hardwood, a company that was recently bought out and taken from the town of its birth. One of my new co-workers had thirty-five years invested there, another had twenty-nine. We are now a bunch of new hires in our forties and fifties, with no vacation time or any of the other perks involved with being a longtime employee.

This is the sad reality facing many blue collar workers in small and medium-sized towns in America. I knew people at Manitowoc Cranes who had been through a factory closing before when Mirro moved to Mexico. Those people were the first ones to leave and I couldn’t understand why they didn’t just see it through to the end. That’s because I had no idea what a soul-crushing experience it could be. As one of the last employees at Manitowoc Cranes, I wandered through an increasingly deserted shop filled with the ghosts of former friends, coworkers, union brothers and sisters. I saw the equipment that had been used by generations of workers get packed up and shipped off to people who wouldn’t even know what to do with it. I saw a hundred years of a town’s history torn apart by people who would never deign step foot in our insignificant town, people who never see the workers who make their profits as anything more than numbers on a spreadsheet.

So while I am not a Trump supporter, I can understand why some people chose to vote for him. They forgive Donald Trump the outrageous things he says in the same way Hillary Clinton supporters forgive her the outrageous things she has done. Democrats have forgiven her vote for the Iraq War, have utterly ignored her part in the destruction of Libya. They have forgotten her anti-gay marriage stance, and they are similarly forgetful of her aggressive support of imprisoning black males. Trump supporters forgave his outrageous statements and even his actions because people always vote with a degree of unfounded optimism in their hearts or else they would simply stay home. That, by the way, is still the majority of Americans: those who are hopeless to the point where they did not vote at all.

That is what we are continuously being told to do, isn’t it? To vote for an imperfect candidate rather than support an ideal one? If you are urged election after election to vote for the lesser of two evils, you end up tolerating a whole lot of evil in your chosen candidate. If the game voters are taught to play is more about hatred than compassion, then people are going to be led by their baser motivations in their quest for self-interests. And the self-interest of the blue-collar worker is to have a decent paying job with decent benefits and some measure of security. All they are really asking for is a way to take care of themselves and their families. All they really want is a bit of peace of mind and a little recognition for their contributions to society. Whatever other wants they have are manufactured ones, pumped into them by the propaganda of a consumer society.

No other mainstream candidate was willing to speak to these people. And before you start calling those who reached out in need racists, the people I’m talking about have names like Chang and Jose, too. Whatever race issues exist may overlap but are separate from the issue of lack of job opportunities and security. If you really think it’s about fascist racists, consider how well an avowed socialist did in the 2016 election. A broad swath of the American population was looking for an outsider, they were kicking at both sides of the box they were being shoved into.

That is because no mainstream candidate was willing to admit a problem existed. They were burying the failures of NAFTA because they were gearing up for the next trade agreement, TPP. They were working, not for the American people, but for the international business interests who wanted to work out trade agreements on their terms, without any input from the workers. And here’s the reality: the deal was so bad for the common working stiff that even Republican voters were willing to cast aside Republicans who were in some way tied to such trade agreements.

The media, too, was a factor. It avoided dealing with the issues of working people. Not since Roseanne have working class issues been portrayed in any real fashion on television. The media has always been manipulating the average worker but the propaganda has built to the point where people are willing to rebel against it (even though such rebellion has been co-opted on both sides of the political spectrum, the hatred of the status quo is genuine).

I’m under no illusions Donald Trump is going to help the working man—like I said, I did not vote for him. I’m just trying to explain his appeal to those who don’t understand it. And if you want to cry out about how deluded Trump supporters are, I’d invite you to take a critical look at yourself in the mirror and see what delusions you may be harboring. The resistance of the left seems to me at least as absurd as the resistance on the right, both channeled into hatred against the other rather than seeing the need to come together to take on the greatest threats to our country and our planet today. Hatred and finger-pointing may feel like resistance, but I doubt it will come to anything positive. As a matter of fact, allowing your emotions to outpace your reason is the easiest way to allow yourselves to be manipulated by those people willing to prey upon your emotions. And after all, isn’t that what the Trump movement has been about? 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

It's Not Our Fault

We Are Not Responsible

The media is not to blame. They didn’t make Trump a celebrity. They didn’t encourage us to worship those who are wealthy, didn’t make Trump into a household name. They never gave him his own TV show where he could treat ordinary people like shit and make it appear he had the right to do so. They never gave him a billion dollars in free advertising by covering his campaign non-stop. Never once did they cut away from a Bernie Sanders speech when the message became too uncomfortable in order to cover the breaking news of Donald Trump’s plane landing.

The media is not to blame because they presented the issues in an honest and insightful manner. They never treated the elections like a dog and pony show. They never stooped to “gotcha” sound bites, opting instead to elevate discourse.

The media gives us substance They have never been afraid to show us the blood-stained carnage that resulted from our wars without purpose or end. They were always willing to dedicate huge chunks of advertising time to serious treatment of issues like global warming or the impending TPP agreement. The media is not to blame because they provide us with the context necessary to make the important decisions that impact our lives and the lives of our children.

The media is not to blame because even though the oil industry, pharmaceutical and insurance companies and weapons manufacturers were their advertisers, they never shied away from delving into issues of alternative energy, socialized medicine, and peace.

The Clintons are not to blame. It’s not like they ever gave credibility to the Trump brand.

Bill has no responsibility for what happened. As president, he never deregulated the media so that it became the divisive, corporate conglomerate attention-grabber it is not today. Bill Clinton never signed a trade agreement that gave even more power to those who already had too much. NAFTA did not ravage small towns, did not ship local jobs out of the country. It gave many wonderful opportunities for blue-collar workers to get in debt to earn an education for a white collar job, and if they did not pivot successfully, well, it’s time those ignorant racist hillbillies got over it. Losers.

Bill Clinton is not to blame for first using NATO as an offensive military weapon, nor is he to blame for spreading it eastward towards a Russia that was reeling from its transition away from the Soviet Union.

And it sure wasn’t Hillary’s fault. She didn’t sit silently on the board of Walmart while an anti-union agenda was constantly expounded. And she wasn’t part of a giant, anti-union corporation that destroyed local businesses in small towns, turning business owners into low-paid Walmart managers.

It wasn’t Hillary’s fault, because she’s always been amazingly consistent on positions. She was always firmly in support of the gay community, an early proponent of gay marriage. She always had great empathy for the poor blacks in the grip of the prison-industrial complex.

The Iraq War had nothing to do with Hillary, in fact she boldly stood in opposition to it. She never flip-flopped and she never once tried to back off her statements.

As Secretary Of State, Hillary had no hand in the overthrow of the government in Libya, leaving it a breeding ground for extremists and terrorists. And when she ran for president, she gave no indication that she would continue a foreign policy of reckless interventionism, sending the children of the lower classes to die and to kill in countries they know nothing of.

The Democratic Party is not to blame. They never pushed Donald Trump as the candidate they’d most like to run their chosen candidate against. They didn’t run an establishment candidate in an environment where the populace was clearly calling for change.

The Democratic Party cannot be at fault. If they were, they would admit they no longer represent their base and do whatever it took to connect with voters rather than corporate donors. In short, they would change from the strategy that had nothing to do with their losing all branches of government.

Elitist liberals are not to blame. They clearly had their fingers on the pulse of the average American. They clearly were in tune with the zeitgeist. They were not trapped in their own little bubble where everything was fine. For them.

None of us are to blame, certainly not the average person. How can we be to blame when we are powerless? Only Putin has power, vast endless amounts of it. Power enough to spend money on puppy Facebook pages without even having a reason for doing so. He is positively dripping with power, the puppet-master behind the entire U.S. system. J. Edgar Hoover would have seen it clearly enough.

Sadly, Hoover is no longer around to protect us. But there still is an army of secret intelligence agencies, corporate-funded think tanks, and the largest military industrial complex ever seen on the planet. Only they now stand between us and the destruction of our democracy. We must give it our full support. We must give it our uncritical acceptance of the official narrative derived from unnamed sources from inside the government, deriding all else as fake news. Only the deep state can save us now.

I know beyond any doubt that this is true. It is madness to think otherwise. Any dissenting voice is merely the words of Vladimir Putin mindlessly mouthed by Bernie Bros. I know this because the media told me so.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Random Political Thoughts Part 11

Corporations don’t want to do away with government, they want to BE the government.

At least Romans didn’t actually vote for Nero.

If capitalists are so smart and government so inefficient, why do the capitalists keep loaning governments money? And if capitalists are smart and politicians incompetent, why do the capitalists pay the politicians so much money to work for them after they leave government?

They say the first million is the hardest, which means our last three Republican presidents never did any hard work.

Why does climate change denial exist? Because Republicans will never admit Democrats got something right.

We don’t find the truth because we are not looking for it. We live in a post-truth world. Democrats do not look for truth but only see the lies of the Republicans and vice versa. What we need to start seeing is the truth in others and ourselves. What we need to stop looking for is what divides us.

What makes people more upset than waking up to find reports of fifty people shot dead by a lunatic? The suggestion that some restrictions on guns should result from it.

If you accept dishonesty in yourself you accept it in you politicians. By demanding better of yourself you will in turn demand better of those who represent you.

There are basic values and principles underlying all human interactions, even in the political sphere. There are laws of conduct to adhere to even when confronting your greatest fears. Honesty and integrity can and should be appreciated even in those who hold beliefs different than our own. And honesty and integrity should be demanded of those who agree with us as well. We need to stick to issues rather than insults, and we must not judge the many by the actions of a few.

Redistribute the power and you won’t have to worry about redistributing the wealth. Once you give each man, not each dollar, an equal say, wealth will flow naturally to those who earn it as well as those who need it.

If politicians know nothing about how business is run, how come they’re offered seven figure salaries after leaving office and six figure speaking fees in front of corporate execs? I’d rather have a career politician than one who uses his time in office as a launching pad for his corporate payoff.

The problem with handing out trophies to children for participation is that you end up with adults who think they can argue global warming with atmospheric scientists.

There are a lot of bad people trying to mess with our minds. They want you to hate because they want to divide and conquer. They want to confuse you with misinformation so that in the end you feel hopeless and powerless, and afraid. They are bigger, smarter, better equipped and better funded than any group you belong to. It’s no good trying to outsmart them. There is only one thing we can do to thwart their plans. We can refuse to hate. We can refuse to play the game they want us to play. Our one weapon is love, the only thing within our possession that can overcome the hopelessness, powerlessness, and fear.

I don’t think it is a good idea to permit the people who own our government’s debt to own the lawmakers who are responsible for that debt. Any banker or mobster is eager to get others in their debt. Debt it too freely given. It was encouraged as a way to extend the lifestyle that normal circumstances wouldn’t have allowed. The fact that the working class does not have enough buying power to buy back what they produced led to a need to give them loans to keep the system going. But that only delays a problem that will only get worse the longer it goes on. In the meantime, the system we created (or was foisted upon us) permits morons to drive care the wise would never think they could afford. But when the moron’s time runs out, it be the frugal person who did without that will be stuck with the bill.

If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing. If you have no one nice to vote for, don’t vote.

A civilization falls when its citizens mutually agree to abandon responsibility.

If you cannot find a politician of integrity, intelligence and common decency to represent your values, perhaps it is time to seriously question your values.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Random Political Thoughts Part 10: The All Russian Hacking Edition

1. Remember how Russia was definitely hacking France’s election and then the whole story was disproven and forgotten once the U.S.’s chosen candidate won? That’s what would have happened here if Hillary would have won.

2. If the history books are written, they will say the 21st Century was home to two of the greatest episodes of mass delusion humanity has ever known: believing that global warming is a hoax and believing that Russian hacking was real. I say “if” history is written, because either of these mass delusions are capable of ending human existence on Earth.

3.You’d think with the sanctions against Russia President Trump signed into law that Putin would have released those pee-tapes by now.

4. The story goes that Vladimir Putin is blackmailing Donald Trump with video of Trump engaged in twisted sex acts with Russian Prostitutes. As if Trump could ever be shamed or his supporters ever love him any less.

5.Try this experiment: Turn on MSNBC, and every time they use the words Russia or Russian, change the words to Jews. This will give you some appreciation of what it was like to live in Nazi Germany.

6. Within the Russian hacking narrative are just enough absurdities to make conservatives believe liberals are out of their minds. I can’t help thinking the Reality Winner and the Pokemon Go stories were added as an inside joke by the deep state. Or more likely, as a means of driving a wedge still further between the two sides in the never ending game of divide and conquer.

7.What do Trump and Hitler have in common? Neither is a puppet of Russia.

8. Their chosen candidate defeated, Democrats have made good on their promise to leave the country and have moved to Fantasy Island, where nothing is ever their fault because Putin did it.

9. I hear Milton-Bradley is coming out with a board game called Clutin. It’s like Clue, where you have to guess the murder weapon and where the crime was committed, but Putin is the only suspect.

10. I won’t believe your allegations until they are corroborated by unnamed sources.

11. Putin: because it was hard to use ISIS as an excuse for our out of control military budget when we’re arming them.

12. BREAKING STORY: Kevin Bacon tied to Russian hacking.

13. American oligarchs are accusing Russian oligarchs of influencing our election. That’s like Al Capone accusing Bugs Moran of muscling in on his turf.

14. I do not blame liberals for hurting after their defeat but I do blame them for their willingness to abandon reason and morality in order to make the pain go away.

15. The day the Washington Post accuses Russia of a crime that has actually been committed—take for example, their shitty reporting—is the day I give them credence.

16. America likes Russians like it likes blacks: self-effacing, stereotyped, stupid, or dead. If we had our choice, Yakov Smirnoff would be Russia’s president. (Perhaps Yakov Smirnoff is not dead, but I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been a sighting outside of Branson in twenty years.)

17. If one of your Clinton supporting friends starts going on about Russian hacking, it is best to insert your wallet in their mouth so that they do not bite off their tongue while having their fit.

18. Just to be clear on matters as they now stand: if you look at puppy pictures you are betraying your country. Cat pictures are still okay for the moment. Stay tuned to MSNBC for further updates.

19. The reporting done on the Russian hacking story has led me to a deeper appreciation of the journalistic skills of Hedda Hopper and Rona Barrett.

20. We have reached a point where we trust those secret agencies—that sold weapons to Iran secretly and then used the profits of those weapons sales to import drugs into the inner cities, the profits from those drug sales going to buy weapons for terrorists in Nicaragua—more than we trust the people who exposed their crimes. This is not hyperbole. If anyone wishes to argue the specifics, I’d be more than willing to do so. And this is just one instance of what our intelligence agencies do on a regular basis. And yet so many of us swallow the Russian hacking narrative sold by unnamed sources despite the warnings of the very man who exposed the Iran-Contra story.

21. The presumption, unproven by the way, is that Russia engaged in the same kind of behavior as every other nation in the world. No evidence points beyond that and yet we have Morgan Freeman saying we are at war with Russia. The U.S. tapped Angela Merkel’s phone, and she’s an ally so you know we’re doing way worse to our non-allies. Did German directors make clips saying they were at war with the U.S.?

22. Not a word from Morgan Freeman about paper ballots, not a word about voter ID, not a word about black voters being scrubbed from the voter rolls. Instead, he says “We are at war”. And should we go to war with Russia, should we survive victorious with a habitable planet, will you then say something about gerrymandering, voter suppression, and campaign finance reform, Mr. Freeman? Because you have been silent so far.

23. It seems our propaganda machines have done too good a job. We’ve managed to stage uprisings in other countries while keeping our own populace ignorant and indifferent. Now that our intelligence agencies seek to stir its own citizens for an uprising in our own nation, they find it impossible to rouse us from the torpor they have lulled us into.

24. If you have heard a political idea mentioned so many times you accept it as inarguable fact and yet cannot say who formulated the idea, it is likely the product of some propaganda machine.

25. If two years ago you would have told me the Russians helped Donald Trump become president by using Pokemon Go to influence voters, I would have told you you were crazy. I'd say the same today, but I would have said it two years ago, too.

26. Remember, the President does not have the power to declare war, only Morgan Freeman can do that.