Realities of Religion and Propaganda

With the revelations that fake news sites had a hand in deciding the election, the industry itself is struggling to figure out how to best handle an ‘anything goes’ kind of world.

While journalists ponder the issue, I think we need to understand a couple of things about fake news:  it’s always gonna be around and those who are programmed to question nothing will consume the saccharine stories the way Santa overindulges in cookies.

The church, or Christianity, or religion if ya wanna get right down to it, can only thrive if it keeps a closeted, cloistered community.  This means instilling the literal fear of god into anyone who might question the bible, its authenticity, or its credibility.   Simply put, those tied up in religion aren’t accustom to dubious thinking: it’s forbidden, it’s certainly not encouraged, and it’s hell damning.

It should come as no surprise, then, that fake news and propaganda gained the strong foothold it did during this past election cycle.   With a large population programmed to just eat whatever comes along the conveyor belt without taking into account the ingredients, the chef, or the restaurant serving the dish, many of America’s voters were ripe for picking  by a not-so-smooth talking showman.

That same showman takes up the mantle of ‘I can fix everything’ and wraps it in a god-like presence that disavows anything which contends with it (something, something, “I am a jealous god” comes to mind).  With a goodly portion of our citizenship still clinging to the idea that a single entity has the cures for all mankind, they have no problem conceiving that one man, who claims he’s all that and a bag of chips, can fix our government and rule with the same totalitarian hand as their ‘heavenly father’ – and that folks, is how we ended up with a Trump presidency.

Fake news won’t go away, unfortunately, because fortunately we live in a nation whose founding document guarantees free speech.   One would hope that education would help bring balance, however when religious tenets such as accepting anything and everything without question are still quite prevalent, then fake news will always have it’s sycophants.

There is hope:   So far, ‘God’ has stayed silent for a few thousand years, and that mystique has kept his followers in suspense, just waiting for a word that will prove his omniscience. Our newly elected government ‘god’ can’t seem to keep his own mouth (or twitter account) shut however, and his actions are utterly at odds with his promises, so at least there are some who are coming to understand that not everything can or should be believed – this is the real blow to fake news.




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When COC is CEO: Political Projection

With all the scuffle going on about Donald refusing daily intelligence briefings (because busy!) we might as well figure out that this is what we’re in for when the roles of CEO and COC are mingled.

We didn’t elect a politician, we elected a businessman, so of course Donald isn’t exhibiting any sort of “Commander in Chief” behavior such as attending to daily intelligence briefings.   If ‘presidenting’ was actually a priority, then he would expend the energy and resources necessary to be successful in the role.  Instead, our current president-elect seems content to pass off the discipline and be alerted only if ‘something changes’.

Such delegation is smart time management by any Chief Executive Officer, but a Commander in Chief can’t afford the same luxury.  There is valuable information that Donald may be missing in daily briefings – the most minute change in an intelligence report detail can be an opportunity for peace somewhere, or an alert to danger elsewhere, and daily monitoring allows for personal observation of trends.  But a more troubling matter arises with the issue:  Donald puts the flow of information to the most powerful man in the world with access to the most powerful military in the world in utter control of those who serve him.  He can’t expect a full picture with this type of setup (then again maybe that’s why he relies so heavily upon his daughter, which is disconcerting in it’s own right). Furthermore, being in the dark allows for ‘plausible deniability’ later down the road, if the need to invoke the phrase should ever arise.

Donald’s refusal to give intelligence reports attention and his indifference to the separation of business from office demonstrate where his interests really lie. We shouldn’t be surprised that we aren’t seeing any ‘Commander in Chief’ Donald Trump, for better or for worse, I suspect we will only see him in the one role he understands: ‘Chief Executive Officer’.



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Oligarchy: Full Steam Ahead

The Koch brothers tentacles reach deep within the neuro-network of our nation and if you haven’t read ‘Dark Money’ by Jane Mayer yet you should click on over and order that writ.

While you are waiting for your delivery, check out this recent development from  Texas wherein our constitution as we currently know it is blatantly at risk.  Koch sycophant Governor Greg Abbott released a plan to amend our constitution not with the typical two-thirds congress vote, but with the atypical act of convening a governors’ vote.

The development bears some attention.  In the realm of financialization, where the elite make policy and hold sway in government decisions, the process has largely been subversive ( Mayer), but a convening of the states to amend the constitution after a Koch brother fashion puts the process front and center.  The bill being introduced is disconcerting in its language.   It seeks ‘to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.’  One could conclude this to mean that states get more power, and to a degree it is.  I assert that there’s more to it.

Limiting the government on the fiscal level most probably means less power to tax, at least at the corporate and one percent level.    Who picks up that slack?   The middle class, which has decreased noticeably the past two decades,  will necessarily be tapped for this revenue.  It follows that limiting federal fiscal power will include the small percentage of social services that the middle class depends upon to survive:  food assistance, medical insurance, a (still somewhat) decent education.   When considered a bit further, if federal fiscal spending is limited then presumably federal funds to state causes will be strangled, affecting an infrastructure that begs for attention as it is.  With less federal monies contributing to state coffers, states will be forced to raise their taxes as well:  at the point-of-sale level, at the small business level, at the property tax rate level.   It’s a triple punch to most of America:  a likely increase in federal income tax, a probable decrease in social services, and varying tax increases at the local level.

Let’s consider the prospect of limiting the power of the federal government.  Again, we can presumably conclude that this would work in favor of individual states.  But what if limiting government really means rolling back the few regulations already in place that keep corporate powers in check?  What if limiting federal power means that corporations step up to fill the void instead of the states, via carefully placed beholden puppets such as Greg Abbott?

Such predictions seem as if I’m proclaiming a ‘sky is falling’ sort of scenario.    Maybe it’s a good thing for the states to have more power (?).  However, I make my contentions based on the cornerstones of the process of financialization – this potential effort to change the constitution comes not for the benefit of the people, nor does it originate from the desire* of the people, it is absolutely  fabricated in favor of corporate interests and by corporate interests, manifested through politicians bought by corporate money.   This is American Oligarchy – Full Steam Ahead.




  • Jane Mayer does an excellent job connecting the dots with the Koch’s undercurrent of blaming government for the nation’s failings, when in fact our problems are largely due to the process of financialization which innately increases public and private debt, creates unstable economies, and depletes the all-important middle class. So the idea of limiting government sounds really good to a populace who thinks that the government is to blame when its actually an already limited government that enables the private industry to economically pillage the nation.
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Payback Problem

Top Democrats are planning to block some of Trump’s cabinet nominees, or at least make the process a living hell.

The writing was on the wall for this one, but it bears some deeper inspection.

Of course the dems can break out the whole “But you’ve done it for eight years!” when republicans get all up and antsy about blocking governmental processes – these last two terms, the republican cabal has demonstrated it’s utter unwillingness to put country before politics and created an environment on capitol hill that is both disrespectful and defiant to our governing processes.

But here’s the sticking point as we move forward:   Where the republicans obstructed the workings of the political machine simply out of rebellion and stubbornness for not getting ‘their man’ in office (and for having an intellectual, African-American in office), the democrats are (and must) be poised to obstruct on the basis that some things are entirely unhealthy for our nation, unconstitutional, or completely oligarchical.

So while democrats can claim they’re only doing what the republicans have done, they also need to proclaim the distinction that the reasoning is wholly different.    Republicans were (are still?) motivated by a disdain of anything progressive, forward thinking, or productive for the middle class.  Democrats, seemingly, are so far motivated by keeping the democracy from becoming an outright plutocracy; and if Donald’s tweets, cabinet picks, and continued refusal to heed political protocol are an indication, chances are the party will have to dig it’s heels in steadfastly to save some semblance of America as we’ve known it the past two hundred fifty years.

The Warrens and Sanders and Cardins and Feinsteins of the party will have to be wise in this strategy though.  They’ll need to choose their battles carefully, in other words.   The past eight years have worn out the populace, (We shouldn’t be surprised that half our fellow citizens didn’t vote last month.  I understand, somewhat, how they have given up.) so taking every thing to the floor would be a mistake.

We are in for a long, tiring, trying, and contentious four years.   Here’s to wisdom, the ability to focus on the bigger picture, and the constitution.



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Pacific Republic: Social Conjecture #44

So there’s a rumor floating around about California seceding from the union and setting up it’s own shop in the wake of the election of Donald Trump. I wrote about the idea of a Pacific Republic in my latest fiction work, and as a Californian (non-native, that’s important somehow), I can sort-of understand this reasoning.

California does exist in its own kind of island: economically, socially, politically, and internationally.   The trifecta of agriculture, Silicon Valley, and the entertainment industry give the state an economic advantage that no other in the union can boast.   In addition, its University system adds a wealth of research and technology advancements that often benefit the rest of the world.  Socially, Californians are laid back and we’ll pretty much accept anyone as long as they’re willing to work as hard as they play. Sexual orientation, race, or religious creed doesn’t matter (in most of the state); your brain and ideas matter instead, and there is a nod of respect given if you can also put together a mean barbecue.   Social programs are important to the state and keep it relevant and vibrant: California standardized its education parameters long before NCLB came along; millions of children benefit from state supported, robust after-school programs; birth control and education is abundant; and strict gun laws keep us safer than the rest of the nation.  Politically we are a progressive, bell weather republic that carries it’s clout to the world stage without being intimidated.

So can this island exist on its own entirely?


We’d have to demand a few things in the process.   The Republic is likely to want to dis-assemble its military installments in the state.  The state, in return, could offer up its breadbasket filling abilities as leverage to keep some sort of national defense in place.   There’re several hundred thousand people that wouldn’t want to live in a “Pacific Republic,” and perhaps thousand more who’d want to move here.  Agree on a time period for an exodus and migration, keep it totally free of charge, then close the border and maintain an entrance limit.  Tourists and visitors pay only a buck to get into the new Nation State: something is better than nothing and a small investment means a richer experience, presumably. We’d have the opportunity to expand our trade to China and India, especially focused upon green energy and efficient Tesla’s.  Reasonably tax our local corporations but engage in vigorous trade policies to keep the demand-side in pace. There would need to be some forethought of an earthquake or other natural disaster infringing upon our land resources, this is where asking our northern neighbors to join in a ‘republic’ becomes a feasible, logical step; many of their social and political tendencies are similar, making a neat fold for all the states involved.   Reach to the east just slightly in southern California to embrace Las Vegas, thus ensuring the flow of electricity from Hoover Dam to L.A., and you’ve got yourself a nice little setup actually.

Is it plausible?   Eh.   It would take an enormous effort and the rest of the union would have be in the process of crumbling as well in order for any real impetus to hold sway, but it’s not entirely inconceivable.

Hell, after this past election, I have a feeling many historians, sociologists, foreign policy strategists, economists, and most politicians have wadded up any plans they had for the future and thrown them into the fire.   Anything is possible at this point.

Stay vigilant to the truth…


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Protests, Recounts, Investigations: Why?

First there were protests (though some of that was an expression of angst in general).

Now there are recounts and investigations.

It seems all kinds of messy, as democracy usually is.  But at this point, with a reactionary as president-elect, it feels as if we must do everything we can to make sure history, and the world, knows we tried.

It matters, at the end of the day, that we went to great lengths, exhausted every avenue available to make sure this person did not get into the respected oval office.The stakes are huge and costly.   The future of our nation, it’s vibrancy, it’s leadership, it’s weight on the world stage, is wholly fragile and we’ve just elected a reality television star to run the show, which he’s so far running in true reality television form.

I don’t expect anything to change as far as the electoral vote is concerned.   It would be prudent for us as a nation for the president elect to be investigated:  his business ties are too embedded with one of our adversaries, for one.  And, well, his business ties in general make for a fluid crossover between Commander in Chief and Chief Executive Officer.  Email or call  (202) 224-4543 Elizabeth Warren’s office and encourage her to continue the investigation.




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First Ten Days


It’s like a preview for the rest of the presidency:  Donald Trump’s first ten days have been difficult to follow and full of the same incendiary divisiveness as his campaign.  More bothersome, they were full of highly questionable decisions that will inevitably line his pockets and empty ours, continue dividing the nation, and demonstrate that reactivity is his only mode of operation.

There was the appointment of his children to his transition team, topped off with daughter Ivanka sitting in with him on a visit from the Japanese Prime Minister.

There is the appointment of a known white supremacist as Trump’s chief strategist.

There was the twitter storm over a Broadway play and another Saturday Night Live skit.

There is the complete break with protocol in moving his family to the White House, racking up a nice bill for the city of New York to pay, as well as you and I.

There was the breaking of a couple of foundational campaign promises:  climate change might be real after all, and Hillary apparently needs room to ‘heal’.

Oh, and the settlement of the Trump University fraud case, ’cause “busy”.

So forget about the typical ‘Hundred Days’ of an American President, the first ten days of Donald Trump’s administration are enough to make a citizen cringe.

It’s gonna be a bumpy ride….



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Financialization Complete

It is with all confidence that I can say the recent election results have indisputably ushered us into a full-blown Financialization Era.   We can no longer claim to be a democracy, we are now an oligarchy.

While I can whole-heartedly empathize with the need and want for change, I fear we’ve said good-bye to any semblance of democracy.

President-elect Trump, CEO, businessman, and person with very little diplomacy skills is poised to usher in ‘change’ as he claimed during his campaign: ‘change’ from corporate cronyism, ‘change’ from status quo economics, ‘change’ from politics as usual.

I predict we will get change, but not change for the better.   Already Mr. Trump has invited several people onto his transition team who are deeply embedded with Wall Street.  He has several business ties that raise concerns about our national security.  His economic proposal includes even more de-regulation and tax policies that portend a wider gap between rich and poor. We stand a good chance of going to war again (I predict it will take less than 24 months for us to get there) and there are plenty  of Washington elite who are able to earn millions of dollars through defense contracts if we do.

Financialization refers to a series of societal characteristics where the elite make policy, steer legislation, and direct the nation in its course.   It directly opposes a democratic approach where elected leaders enact avenues where citizens are given equal opportunities, economically and otherwise, as well as basic rights and freedoms.  While it’s true that a second Clinton presidency would have blurred the lines between democracy and oligarchy, a Trump presidency pushes us completely over the edge into an abyss from which this writer/voter is concerned we can never return.

In other words, we have reached a point of complete financialization.  Stay tuned for the damage reports.





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Empathy for Hillary

The concession speech was eloquent.   I’ll give her that.

But that is all she’ll get from me.

I have no sympathy, compassion or empathy for Hillary Clinton.  Her loss is hers and hers alone to bear.

I voted for her, yes.   Not because I liked her, not because she was a woman, not necessarily because she was a democrat. But because I couldn’t, in good conscience, put a man in office who seems to leave nothing but destruction in his wake and has demonstrated almost no reasoning skills.

I honestly could care less that she lost, her candidacy was as contrived as Cinderella’s slipper on an ugly step-sister.

I care very deeply that Donald Trump won.  I am mostly concerned for our international affairs and alliances, as well as the multitudinous probability that we will be at war again within 24 months.   I despair over freedoms that have been hard fought and won, dissipating rapidly like steam.   I will inwardly cringe, as a writer, from now on.

The historian in me is in agony over the thought that we will possibly, probably, never be the same again.

And for that, I blame only and solely Hillary Rodham Clinton.    She put her hunger for notoriety above the welfare of the nation and manipulated the system to achieve it. Aware of her flaws, her husband’s past, and her vulnerabilities, she affirmed to every Clinton hater that yes, they really are only after power and money.

So Hillary gets nothing from me…no sympathy or empathy or pity.  On the upside, the Democratic party gets all of me, to effect change and prepare a future I can be proud to leave to my grandchildren.




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React-Regulate-Reason, One Voter’s Observation

The ‘three R’s’ is a tool I use in my professional life as well as my personal life: first we react, then we regulate, so that we can reason.

In any given situation we will always ‘react’ first according to instinct and any threat of safety, whether emotional or physical.   The problem is that it’s impossible to ‘reason’ when we are in ‘react’ mode, it is important to ‘regulate’ our selves and bring our senses under control first.   As a professional (I’m in education) I do this by walking with a student or sitting side by side with them during an emotional moment, the goal is to get them to focus on breathing, or measured steps, get them grounded so they can use their head to talk about whatever the issue in a calm, comprehensive way.

In my personal life, when I find myself angry over something (just or unjust) a hike or run never fails to regulate my system, brings my breathing into focus so that I can ground myself.   If I can’t immediately do either then at the very least I can remind myself to pay attention to my breathing (regulate) so that I can reasonably examine why I got angry in the first place and what I can do to remedy the cause, if possible.

Learning to ‘regulate’ ourselves is one of the most important skills we can learn as an individual because it enables us to utilize a higher level of thinking.  The ability to reason is one of the most unique characteristics that we possess in the animal kingdom.   It has allowed us to build civilizations and engage in democracy. It gives us the tools to overcome challenges in a relationship.   It is imperative, therefore, that we also learn the ability to regulate ourselves enough to reach a point where we can reason.

In all my observations of the Republican candidate, Donald Trump, I’ve witnessed more reactionary behavior and very little regulatory behavior which means he’s unable to engage in any kind of reasoning behavior.  As a voter this concerns me deeply.

I could bring up any number of tweet storms he has instigated, the 3 a.m. flurry of attacks against a former Miss Universe contestant, the bleak sleet storm about a recent parody of himself, or the most recent sub-zero blizzard against one-of-his-only-somewhat-supporters.

There’s the debate preparation.   He refused any sort of coaching for the first and went horribly off topic for the second.   The former demonstrates an inability to even consider reasoning as a behavior, the latter demonstrates the absolute inability to regulate.

There’s the way he couldn’t even sit down for the town hall debate, and instead paced like a caged animal.   This is not the behavior of a person who can self regulate, and therefore approach any kind of reasoning ability.

Being the President of the United States is one of the most revered offices in the world.  It is a role not to be taken lightly, with disdain, or with cynicism.   It requires the most staunch of characters to reign in his or her own opinions and emotions in order to listen and weigh any given topic.   It demands a kind of diplomacy that is involved in few other occupations – days can be spent haggling over a single word in a piece of legislation or treaty with another nation.   It insists upon a reasonable individual who is able to perceive the general as well as the specific.   This voter has yet to see the Republican candidate exhibit any sort of reasoning skills such as these.

Let me be clear, because the atmosphere is vitriolic at the moment:  Ms. Clinton has her faults.  Do not mistake my reasoned observation of the Republican candidate for a blind endorsement of the Democratic offering.  At the end of the day however, I will always vote for a candidate who has consistently displayed the ability to regulate his or her response to an issue, and who can reasonably approach any subject, especially those delicate national and international challenges that arise with the office of President.

May we, as voters, each use our ability to rise out of the reactionary mud, regulate our emotions, and use our unique, very human ability to discern which candidate is also more reasonable.

#vote2016 – no matter what your reasoning.




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