The United States, one of the richest and most powerful nations in the world, is letting one of its colonies suffer without power, gasoline, and communications for weeks, perhaps months. Our president gave them a hashtag. I just came from a nation's colony that has state of the art sea tunnels and mobile communications on every square meter of land. And you can be damn sure that if disaster struck the Faroe Islands, Denmark would have regular life restored within days. Where is the fucking outrage?
In the early days of the Trump presidency, we could joke about handshakes. Now that the handshakes are just about done, let's take a brief look back at the best one. This is the one in which Trump met his match. It was his handshake with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
I loved the way Trudeau finessed Trump's handshake at the White House door. Anticipating his grab and pull style, the canny Canadian grabbed Trump's upper arm and squeezed it hard. This not only surprised Trump, it also threw him off balance, and prevented him from dominating the greeting as he loves to do. It looked like a hockey move, and the good people of our friendly neighbor to the north must have smiled in pride.
Now if only Trudeau could never speak or meet Trump ever again. That would be nice. Maybe that's already decided. I hope so.
The above image is a hoax advertisement created by a 4Chan user. It made the Reddit and Facebook rounds the weekend of August 4.
But hey, if it riles the Trump base, go with it. Where would he and his supporters be without conspiracies? And where would they be if they couldn't whine about how they're constantly being victimized?
The Democratic base flared up for a couple of weeks after Trump's inauguration. But where is the base now? Any why aren't they consistently mad? Why are the most newsworthy congressional town hall meetings occurring in heavily Republican states?
For quite a long time now, Democrats have behaved as if they didn't have a base of supporters whose views they needed to consider when casting votes in Congress. And even after Trump's first month, I sense a lack of commitment from Democrats to fire-up their base. Believe me, Republicans NEVER forget their base! The one thing they always fear is being challenged, from the right, by an ever more radical, anti-government crank. Democrats, like Obama, often take a perverse view of their political situation. Some are actually PROUD of disappointing the most loyal party members, as if that proved their bipartisan credibility. And when the Democratic base rebels, these people seem genuinely puzzled by the outrage they've provoked.
Democrats have enormous decisions to make this month. They can choose to help or impede the House in raising the Federal debt ceiling. They could fight to delay the Judge Gorsuch confirmation hearings, or let them move forward.
Each week of the Trump presidency has brought bad news, often at night as major newspapers print stories on the administration. The Democrats can't fight every breaking news story. But they lack a messaging machine to tell their base what to fight against. There's no motivation or organization at the top. It's all been from the bottom. When this happens, the top gets overthrown. Time will tell.
And yet, here we are, a nation controlled by white people in landlocked states.
63% of white men voted for Trump
53% of white women voted for Trump
What was Clinton's mantra? Love Trumps hate? Well apparently not. Hate is an immensely powerful motivator. Trump didn't need a sophisticated ground game to get his supporters to vote. All the intensity, and all the enthusiasm was on the Republican side this time. And in politics, intensity matters. As for the Democrats, it's astounding that Hillary, with all her negatives, turned out to be the party's default choice. In any event, we'll all pay for it now.
And Trumps personality and pattern is well established. He will never really work at anything. He is unwilling or unable to work harder to be presidential. He doesn't have to work hard to motivate his supporters. He already has a slogan for the red hat in 2020. And he win again, so long as his presidency doesn't fall apart. His base of 40% appears to be rock solid. But his presidency is showing way too many cracks to last one year, let alone three more.
Yet another new study shows that the US has not seriously taxed its rich people since Reagan signed his tax reform into law in 1986. The great project launched in 1980 by Reagan has reached its apotheosis. We have a government of, for and by the rich. SUCCESS!!!
Record inauguration turnout. 3 Million undocumented immigrants voted. The "Bowling Green Massacre." Bad hombres. Only 109 people inconvenienced. Refugees are illegal immigrants. The Trump administration is a fountain of propaganda. The more the news media points out the lies, the most Trump supporters love the administration.
Nothing can stop that. It's a no-win situation.
When a favorite magazine of wealthy white people publishes a dark cover, you know times are BAD. It's the final chapter of the USA. Of course, this chapter started with Bush v. Gore. But we finally get it now, at the end.
Uncle Tim is a historian. He told me a few times about how Barcelona resisted Franco, the murderous Spanish dictator, from 1939 to 1975. It was a marathon resistance that helped give us generations of artists and actors - from Joan Miró to Javier Bardem. People in Barcelona were able to live in a mild state of panic but they persevered. Now I know New York has a history of being different. It is a safer place to be gay or transgender, for example. But New York also has a history of being a place where resistance is not tolerated. The British were never kicked out of New York. Kids protesting the Vietnam War in 1970 were savagely beaten by cops and construction workers because their march was an insult to real, working men who weren't fighting the war or something.
So let me say right now that I have zero faith that New York will resist Trump. I don't think New York is a safe space from Trump. And I think quite a few New Yorkers are going to find themselves in prison or on no fly lists or under constant government surveillance during the eight years we will have under Trump. Trump is a New Yorker. I live just nine miles from Trump Tower. Aside from occasional protests, there is no resistance here.
Good luck, everyone. These eight years will be hard. And we still have the continued destruction of our planet and our species to look forward to.
In a groundbreaking study, published in September 2016, The Guardian found that about half the nation's firearns are owned by 3% of the population. In addition, the number of handguns in the US has skyrocketed since Bill Clinton's first term. Our nation is being held hostage by a 3℅ gun crazy minority. The US population has increased, and overall gun ownership has declined since Clinton took office. But we have seen the rise of the "super owners."
A gun crazy three percent, and a craven, virtually worthless Republican party. I knew we were in serious trouble if the Democrats collapsed in November. And they did. And now we are at the mercy of the gun lobby and the GOP.
Gun-related news is part of the background noise in the US. Just this week, Smith and Wesson released the long-awaited second version of their M&P pistol. And in Fort Lauderdale, a possibly schizophrenic young man emptied his magazine in an airport's baggage claim area, killing 5 and wounding 8. Just a normal, acceptable mass shooting. In almost any other nation, there would be a quick reexamination of flight rules and gun policy. Not here. Rampages are perfectly normal and acceptable. New guns need to be sold.
In 2014, President Obama announced that the US war in Afghanistan would wind down in 2015. But announcing it did not make it so. It is nearly 2017, and historians still consider the war to be ongoing. And just over a year ago, the US committed one of its biggest atrocities, the deliberate, 60 minute airstrike on the Kunduz hospital in northern Afghanistan.
The story has disappeared from the news, but history will not forget. And it will be a major mark on Obama's record. President Obama issued a very rare apology to Doctor's Without Borders (MSF) for killing its providers and patients. But a war crime is a war crime. Hospitals cannot be attacked for treating wounded enemies. Demands for an independent investigation were ignored.
There was no advance warning of the airstrike. When it was time to report on the incident, as the Pentagon does, there was simply a whitewashing of all responsibility and accountability. Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept correctly called out major US news outlets in avoiding acknowledging which military attacked the hospital for the first 48 hours of coverage.
The US is still in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The US is a country that can't fix the problems in Detroit, or Cleveland, or guarantee the descendants of slaves their right to vote, but it has the temerity to imagine we can reshape the Middle East to our liking.
More to the point, our political class, led by Trump, and soon Mike Pence and Donald Trump, is a pack of craven cowards, and their policies have made virtually everything they touch worse.
There's a new list of college professors that RIght WIng has deemed progressive bullys and fascists. Just remember, It's Always Projection.
This really is back to the future. We haven't seen a true enemies' list since good old Dick Nixon. I suppose it's a matter of some pride to have made this list. We have a lot to look forward to in the next three years. Imagine, a real, honest to God, right wing government in our dear old land, with a lying demagogue in charge.
Mister Sterling's biggest influence at U Mass was Sut Jhally. He made the list.
Professors in western Massachusetts, home to five great colleges in Pioneer Valley, have responded the best way possible, by requesting to be added to the list.
Every president has had a list of adversaries or people to avoid. Trump already has an well-known enemies list, and it will only grow.
UPDATE December 26 2016: The Wingnuts have fired up the Liberal Fascism narrative once again.
Back in the early twentieth century, Labor organizers would say, don't complain, organize. Robert Reich still uses that phrase. Often I see it as "Don't agonize. Organize." But it's the same message.
And it seems that Democratic politicians and prominent Democrats are not heeding that call. Now is not the time to be silent. Now is the time to resist Trump, as he is already acting as our de facto President.
A few weeks ago, I thought that some Democrats would walk out or now show up to Trump's first State of the Union address. But today, I expect all of them to sit there and applaud.
It's December 2016! This year has flown by. Probably my fastest ever (makes sense, as I am just getting older). But here's the first post I will post before the year ends. It's quite simple. Canada, you need to take care of Justin Trudeau, because he has your nation on the right track.
In his first year, Trudeau and the Liberal Party have brought some swift, progressive changes, They've helped working families, stressed gender equality, and have put a new emphasis on human rights at home and abroad.
But Sterling came around. Yes, Trudeau is he son of a Canadian Prime Minister. Putting him in charge is no better than putting a Clinton in charge of the Democratic party. As a general rule, a party should not use nepotism to remain popular. But that analogy doesn't flow perfectly to Canada's Parliamentary system. People vote for the party as much as the person in charge of it. And Canada sure as hell need the Liberal party in charge.
And let's face it, even Johnny Depp would be an improvement over Trudeau's predecessor, Stephen Harper. How that Canadian version of Richard Nixon got to be Prime Minister for nine minutes, let alone for nine years, is a mystery worthy of Sherlock Holmes. Good riddance to the Canadian Torries, and here's hoping young Trudeau can turn our friendly northern neighbor back to the right path. With Trump and a particularly irrational and evil GOP in charge to the south, we need progressive leadership in this continent anywhere we can find it.
I am over elites telling me what sucks. I was over it in 2005. Does anyone think that Stephen Colbert, Lin Manuel Miranda or Beyoncé lose any sleep over who controls the Federal government? No. We little people are the ones who lose sleep. Trump and Republicans are going to impose a Federal parental notification requirement for abortion. They will pass a Federal 20-week limit on abortion. They will roll back car emissions standards 30 years. They will try to kill off the food stamp program. They will cut funding to most cities (except maybe NYC, where Trump still has his stuff). They will launch a ground war somewhere in the middle east. They will kill the ACA. All together, they will make it more difficult than ever before for poor people to break out of poverty and despair. That has been their end game since 1980.
Most of us have gone on road trips, and not always as the drivers. Since 2011, my wife and I have gone on an ambitious annual road trip in the American West. We put about 4,000 miles on our New York City-based car per year. But on these Western road trips we don’t take the car we own but instead, we fly to our starting destination and put over 2,000 miles on a rental while meandering to our final destination. It took just one trip for us to get hooked on this.
This is a guide about next-level road tripping. This is the art of the remote road trip, well outside your home region. This isn’t about renting a camper, either (I might do that someday driving across Australia). This is about seeing your great country, where too many people fly over the best stuff it has. What would you want to see on an American road trip? Would you want to see cities and towns that look like your own, or would you want to see what Teddy Roosevelt once called “big things”? Wouldn’t you like to go big?
The American West has the attractions you didn’t know you wanted to see. From mountain ranges and canyons, to ghost towns and colorful Mexican cemeteries, to Indian reservations and native American tribes we should all educate ourselves about, to boneyards, and missile bases, to massive national parks and monuments that you and I own, the West has the goods. Look at this map of our national parks. If you live east of the Mississippi, how would you explore the great American West in any reasonable amount of time? You could join a tour group. But you love to drive. No, you are a driver.
There is a cool way to explore the West without a tour group or an RV. It can be expensive, but it's worth it. You can fly to one city, take a week driving to a final city, and fly home from there. That’s 7 days, over 1,000 miles (or 2,000), and many photos and memories. This is the one-way American West road trip.
A quick note about timing: Summer is the traditional time to do road trips but it is also when a whole lot of other people do them. Some of our incredible national parks and monuments have traffic jams during the summer. The best way to avoid this? Go after Labor Day. I want to present my guide for you Jalopers to get inspired to go out there to see your great nation. Every part of it has something interesting, but my example is the West, since that’s where you can clock the most miles and see the most diverse things in a week.
A big reason to do a one-way rental road trip is time. Like me, you probably can’t disappear from your day job for more than a week at a time. So you only have 8 nights away from home. A one-way road trip gives you the opportunity to cover a single region in a week. Renting a car one-way usually comes with a hefty fee. But we’re in a golden age of internet price research. Even some of the biggest rental companies reduce their one-way fees for certain locations with high inventory, like Las Vegas or Phoenix. Once you know your starting and ending airports, you can do reverse searches on flights and car rentals to help decide which travel direction will cost you the least (either in time or money).
Everyone needs at least one partner for a road trip. I have my wife, my “navigatrix.” I recommend you don’t go it alone. That’s reserved for people who seriously need time to themselves. But you, fellow driving enthusiast, you need a partner to navigate you and help you chose what to see each day and where to sleep each night. Which brings us to preparation, and some rules. A road trip is not a race. I consider myself a boring, safe driver. However, I have been warned about my speed by small town cops on two different trips. You’re not an endurance or cannonball driver, either. You need to take this slow. A typical road trip day goes like this: you wake up, find a place for coffee and breakfast, and then drive to the next site on your itinerary. You should have an idea of where you’re getting fuel, as well as lunch and dinner, and you know where you are resting your head after sundown.
I got hooked on faraway road trips the first time I did it. But like a lot of first times doing anything, it was the least planned, as we had no experience. We did it in early November, which is too late for a trip in the Southwest. And, we only gave ourselves 3 full days as we weren’t sure that this would be enjoyable. We ended up seeing too much in too short a time. Here’s the route we took on day 1:
On that single day, we drove from the Vegas strip, to the O’Callaghan-Tillman bridge observation deck, to the south rim of the Grand Canyon (the serious way to see it), and then through a corner of Navajo Nation to Flagstaff for dinner, and finally our hotel in (Take it Easy) Winslow, Arizona. That was nearly 450 miles in over 15 hours on the road. Oh, and we were met by thundersnow in Flagstaff.
On the following 2 cold days, we crammed in 5 more major attractions, including, amazingly, Monument Valley, before arriving late in Albuquerque for our last hotel stay and flight home. Along the way, we caught a glimpse of Shiprock, a beacon for future trips. Since then we have been far better paced. Here’s what you need do to become a pro at this:
- Find your flights and car combination. You can choose Midland (Texas), Salt Lake City, Denver, Albuquerque, Tucson, Phoenix, Las Vegas, or smaller airports as start and end points. Play around with flight and car rental itineraries. Does it cost less to start or end the trip in one of your two cities? And with the car, skip the supplemental insurance from the rental company and buy a separate insurance policy.
- You can rent a good car. I’ve rented respectable Infinitis, Fords, Volkswagens, and Chevys on these trips. There are some decent, comfortable cars to rent. It just requires research and sometimes a little persistence at the counter. If you do a full week trip, you could be spending over 50 hours in those car seats, so keep that in mind. Lately any Ford Escape EcoBoost has won out for me. The seats are right and it’s pleasantly zippy.
- Plan your visits and stops. Research what you would like to see along your route. Then figure out your exact route so you can come up with a daily list of sites you want to visit. Start with National Parks and National Monuments, and then find things that interest you. It can be museums, cultural sites, cars, planes, or even joints featured on Guy Fieri’s TV show (I can’t be the only one who watches that). Note closing times of the places you want to visit. When is that Spaceport tour? What time does that restaurant open or close? What is the latest time you can get stamped at the park visitor’s center? Is that ghost town accessible year round, or only on certain days? Figure out with your navigator which stops are priority and what could be considered bonus objectives if you have time. You’re going to be keeping track of what you hit and what you can come back and visit on a future trip. And as you do this, plan out where you’ll sleep. Thanks to airbnb and VRBO, hotels and campgrounds are not the only options.
- The distance between your start and end airports is not as important as limiting how many miles you cover each day. 200-300 miles per day is ideal. You want to do all your sightseeing in daylight. We’ve done Las Vegas to Albuquerque, Albuquerque to Denver, Midland to Albuquerque, Minneapolis to Las Vegas, Midland to Phoenix, Tucson to San Diego, and we have Albuquerque to Austin at the end of this summer. In all my trips, my navigator and I have chosen the overnight stops, and using Google Maps (or your preferred map site), we plot an exact route and watch the daily mileage total carefully.
- Produce a travel binder. Remember Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women?” Well you are going to need a single binder full of trip information, in chronological order. Grab a binder and hole puncher (find a hole puncher where you work). Start with your flight reservations. Then your car and insurance documents. Print out your hotel reservations. Then for each day, you will insert printouts on where you’re going. Print out driving directions, as mobile phone coverage in the West is sparse. In fact, make sure you print out the address or GPS coordinates of every place you plan to visit. Also take a GPS device as a backup to your phone.
- Learn to like Wal-Mart. I know. That’s a tall order for a leftie New Yorker. But in some small towns, Wal-Mart is the only source for beverages and snacks. Buy a styrofoam cooler, put ice in it at your hotels, and you have a mobile fridge.
The rest is up to you. If you love to drive, you ought to try it. Take a week off to see this amazing country and maybe you too will get hooked. When you are ready for the next level, there’s Canada and Australia to explore. Then you’ll know three nations with ‘wild wests’ and near-empty roads to drive. Just don’t speed. Local and tribal police know when big city people are headed their way.
It's really as simple as this. Black people are to be POLICED, while the rest of us (white people) are to be "protected". Furthermore, the justice system that we have built and maintain is designed to put blacks into prisons and go easier on whites. It's just a fact.
For black men, the risks of living in this country are simply appalling. One wonders how, with an apparently straight face, politicians and pundits can continue to insist that, not only is the United States a democracy, but quite simply the greatest country on earth. The major news stories we have seen over the last two years are not aberrations, and speak volumes about the hypocrisy of our system. The disconnection between our stated constitutional rights, and the actual practice in hell holes like the New York City "correctional system" would be jaw dropping if not for the fact that there's nothing new about this story. Poor people, especially poor people of color, are, and always have been, treated as disposable problems, not equal citizens with unquestionable rights.
And the long history of our justice system treating black Americans differently has huge consequences. Some have taken decades to acknowledge, such as the phenomenon of missing black men. These are men who are off the streets of their last resident town because of imprisonment, or because they relocated to avoid arrest (for anything from traffic tickets, to unpaid child support, to more serious charges).
New York City has 118,000 missing black men.
Philadelphia has over 30,000 missing black men.
And then there's the lost sleep, depression, and the suicides. Kalief Browder was a teenager kept mainly n solitary confinement in Rikers for 3 years, over a petty robbery charge that was ultimately dismissed. After two previous suicide attempts, and a downward spiral into paranoia and post-traumatic stress, he took his own live last year.
No doubt this kid's years in solitary confinement was the cause of his extreme distress. I find it hard to even think of what must have been pure hell on earth. I cannot imagine the pain of his parents. What must it be like to be beaten up, over and over again? How can we Americans continue to bear what is being done to our children?
And another topic for another day: what about extrajudicial sites like Homan Square in Chicago? Do other US cities have black sites? It's like something out of the Dirty War in Argentina, except it is not reported, and designed to make black Americans disappear.
The latest urban fitness report is out for the US. Do you detect a slight red state/blue state dichotomy? I must say, the only real surprise is Indianapolis as the LEAST fit metropolitan area in the country! Apparently, walking is considered an un-American, Commie plot.
The differences between the Democratic party and the GOP continue to dwindle. The Democrats are sponsored by Wall Street, have abandoned the idea of taxing the rich, and have even abandoned questioning the size of the military-security complex. Meanwhile, Republicans are embracing marijuana legalization and marriage equality. The biggest differences left are really Social Security, science, and medicine (the GOP is against all three). Otherwise, that's pretty much it, folks. We can summarize this nation like this: declare war on the world, give every break and perk to the rich people, spy on everyone, and ignore the man-made environmental catastrophe. The longer we keep these two parties in power, the further this nation is ruined. Considering it has been this way for nearly 20 years, it is probably too late to save the USA.