Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Marvel: Women Kicking Ass

This weekend a box-office milestone was achieved by Marvel Pictures, but I'm not talking about the movie you think I am.

Of course Avengers: Endgame dominated and stormed out of the gate with the biggest weekend haul ever, but in the shadow of that movie, Captain Marvel became the all time box office champion for a female super hero movie.  It now has generated a few million more than Wonder Woman, and it looks as if the inertia of Avengers might eventually get it to around 430 million in total box-office.

Captain Marvel did this.  Fifteen years ago, if I would've said Captain Marvel would be the biggest female super hero movie of all time, you likely would've said "who?"  But as I've mentioned before, everything Marvel studios does is gold, and what they've done for women's roles in comic book adaptions is a long overdue correction.

To understand the advancements Marvel has made in equalizing representation of women in action movies, it's probably best to compare them once again to their highly inferior box office challenger, DC.

But first, let me state the obvious.  Both Marvel and DC have been VERY male centered on their lead roles in comic book movies.  I think the success of Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman are great wake up calls, but to equalize the top of the marquee there needs to be more focus on developing female driven comic book movies.  More on that in a second, but to appreciate how much Marvel has embraced female characters, let's make a list.

1) Sheer volume.  DC comics has a fatal flaw.  It's a comic book factory where only two characters really matter for most people, Superman and Batman.  Taking it even further, the only thing most of DC's fans care about today is those two fighting each other.  Wonder Woman is a great character, but a character who seems to be pushed to the back burner by her own comics.  When Wonder Woman has been able to shine (Linda Carter and Gal Gadot, as well as a occasional story lines in the comics) she shines brightly, but even today there seems to be a reluctance to embrace Wonder Woman as the face of DC.

Beyond her, the DC universe lags dramatically in recognizable female leads.  I asked four comics experts who they would peg as the second most popular DC female character, and I had a split between Harley Quinn and Supergirl.  Margot Robbie's Harley Quinn helped drive up the popularity of the Suicide Squad movie, but she was mainly there as the Joker's girlfriend in revealing outfits. Even though a second Suicide Squad movie is coming out, DC is a long way from green lighting any other solo female movies in the near future.

Marvel on the other hand is deep with female characters, with their fans asking 'when is the (female character) movie coming out?'  There's a moment in Avengers: Endgame when you realize the depth of the developed female characters in the Marvel universe, all of them with their own unique stories and perspectives, developed not as 'also ran' characters, but as intricate parts of the story.  And there are multiple strong female super heroes from Marvel we haven't even seen in this current lineup.

2) Marvel doesn't tone down their own characters.  I love the fact Captain Marvel is a wickedly powerful super hero.  She's one of the strongest heroes in the Marvel catalog and the movie studio did not downplay her power, out of fear she might overwhelm some of the lesser powerful male characters.

In Batman v. Superman, there was an awesome moment when Wonder Woman shows up in all of her strength and power.  Then there seemed to be a toning down of her power to make Superman the center of that movie's finale. Before comic book geek comes after me, I know Superman is more powerful than Wonder Woman in the comics, but I feel as good as her splashy and satisfying entrance into the DC universe was, she's been downplayed since whenever she shares the screen with Batman or Superman.

3) Marvel women punch a lot of guys, HARD! One of the worst cliches of a movie featuring a female super hero is the need for there to be a female super villain to prevent the female character from being 'too aggressive' with the guys.  From the moment Black Widow started taking men down in Iron Man 2, the Marvel Universe has had no problem in having the women be the source of the strongest punches.  Gamora, Okoye, The Wasp, Valkyrie, Wanda Maximoff, Shuri, The Ancient One...all of them have fought an won, pounding on dudes who deserved it, often with the male characters acknowledging and admiring their bad-assery.  Even a meek character like Mantis fights and holds her own, having single handedly put Thanos into a deep sleep in Avengers: Infinity War. Equality means the women kick ass equally, and Marvel is not afraid to allow them to do just that.

4) Finally, these women are strong female characters, period.  Marvel has tried to write these women as real as they can, offering them story arcs and motivations which are never contrived or filler.  I can't see Marvel putting a character like Harley Quinn in one of their movies, unless they felt the characters development trajectory required them to do just that.  Then it wouldn't be just to get young boys to watch, but to develop the character unapologetically.

My daughters (14 and 12) went with me to go see Avengers: Endgame on Sunday.  I wish I could've taken them to this movie when they were 7 or 8.  The Marvel lesson for young women (and young men) is the women are no longer background characters in these movies.  It's an important message, one which will harvest many benefits as the women and men inspired by these female heroes grow older.

I guarantee Captain Marvel will get a sequel, and the Wasp is already a top billed character with Ant-Man.  I'm not sure who the next solo Marvel movie with a female lead will be, but I guarantee it will inspire and entertain.

Friday, April 26, 2019

The Friday Link for 4/26/19

I have three for you today, starting with the most underrated cast member from Saturday Night Live in the early 90's, David Spade.  I think his comedic ability gets overlooked, probably due to the SNL "buh-bye" sketch, but look back at his career.  He was hilarious with Chris Farley in the movies he did with him, Just Shoot Me was a great TV series, and he might have the most underrated Disney performance ever, Kuzco from The Emperor's New Groove.  He hilariously funny in stand up too, so catch him if he comes to your town.

This next clip has some language but this is freaking brilliant! From Funny or Die, 'David Spade Hates Coachella.'

Someone give him a lead role immediately!  He so deserves it.

Speaking of movies, there's one called Avengers: Endgame out this week and here is the fun Tonight Show music bit they did.

Finally, the absolutely best breakdown of the Mueller Report, from any source, came from John Oliver at Last Week Tonight.  In 15 minutes he lays out the case that Trump is actually in FAR bigger trouble than the media has been reporting.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The MNGOP Breaks Itself

Is the Minnesota Republican Party okay?  Seriously, is everything alright with them?  I ask because everything coming from them lately is insane.

I've shared how I used to vote Republican, and even did so into the 2000's.  What initially got me away from voting Republican was them sending troops into a war unjustified (The second Iraq War. I'm a Veteran), but what has kept me far away from their ilk is their slow decent into madness; a further and further push right, with their ultimate appeal geared towards racists, gun kook, militia types, who used to only exist on compounds in the deserted west.

The Republicans used to have agendas which made sense (well at least for them), but now they're more like a flailing drunk in a bar on a Friday night, spouting belligerence and throwing erratic and misguided roundhouses which have zero chance of actually hitting their target.

I've identified six categories which pretty much encapsulate everything the Minnesota GOP does politically today.  There's some bleed over from one category to the others, but they all seem to fit into one or more of the following realms:

Aggressively Irrational and Wrong:  The MNGOP is more often than not on the wrong side of sanity, but lately they have been comically way of base.  For example, let's point to transportation, specifically light rail.

Old Republicans would've fought somewhat against mass transportation too, but Republicans used to understand the need to get the work force into a major metro area took a multi facetted approach.  They would limit public transportation funding, but they'd include stuff like targeted tax cuts for people to buy a car, or for carpooling, and they'd include money in their budgets for the road expansion they claimed was a better option.

Not anymore.  Modern Minnesota Republicans scream there should be no mass transportation funding, only road expansion.  They scream light trail is only "empty trains" even though the daily ridership is well above initial expectations, and the light rail is a Godsend when it comes to special events (500K rode the light rail over the four day Final Four weekend).  Modern Republicans will insist the only spending which should be done is road expansion, but hardly put a pittance into the transportation budget for the expansion they promise.  The one thing they embrace is the class tiered, 'pay for access' expansion of the car pool lanes, with wealthy people purchasing their way out of traffic.

Everything about modern Republican transportation policy is mind numbingly bad, but this is their modern stance.  There are echoes of this foolishness in everything the Republican propose (more pollution will make our environment cleaner, getting rid of people's healthcare will make everyone healthier, dramatically cutting funding from schools will somehow lead to better students).  They're dependent on their voters never asking the question "come again?", and as long as there's no consequence for their faulty empty promises, they're only getting dumber with their legislation.

Racism, Bigotry, Misogyny and Religious Intolerance:  So much of Republican policy today is based in these four tentpoles of hate.  I'll never forget the Minnesota Republicans, after a tornado hit north Minneapolis, basically saying to the residents "screw you!"  Then, less than a year later, when tornados hit in outstate Minnesota, they were screaming how the state should stand up for the victims of natural disasters.  Unforgivable.

Voting against equal rights for women, policies which specifically target minorities with criminal penalties, campaign ads which scream about Muslims, harassment of undocumented Latinos, implying African Americans are trying to take away white people's stuff, targeting LGBTQ rights, and Republican funding bills which seem to go out of their way to limit funds for minority groups are all par for the course for the modern right. They even get upset when the Minnesota Historical Society recognized the traditional Native American name for the Fort Snelling area, outrageously accusing them of "revisionist history" for accurately displaying history.

Politics which fester in the brine of hatred has always existed, but the right is re-engaging their bigoted voters with a renewed vigor.

Extremism Worship:  This is the one which is really weird.  When Real ID became the standard in the US, the MNGOP seemed to withdraw into their 4Chan chat groups, weighing heavily on the paranoid conspiracy theories spouted by people who used to broadcast on short wave radio, but today are given a far bigger megaphone with social media.  The Republican leadership refusing to walk away from paranoia on Real ID eventually created huge problems for the state.  It was only when Federal officials informed Minnesota little Billy and his whole sports team would all need passports to fly to a weekend sports tournament in Chicago did things change.  Republicans scrambled to get Real ID approved, terrified of a disastrous fallout of their inaction from suburbia.

Minnesota Republicans are embracing extremists like never before; religious nuts who want to force Christianity on others, anti-vaxxers creating a health crisis, and climate change deniers who are embracing lunacy.  When Rep. Cal Bahr told gun kooks in the State Capitol he wanted to throw Democrats writing common sense gun regulations to the curb, stomp on them, and run them over a few times, he was trying to appeal to this extremism.  These extremists have a real desire for a new Civil War, just to stop regulations they don't like from getting passed.  Why the MNGOP is throwing gasoline at their fire, I have no idea.

National Marching Orders:  The modern Republican Party still gets a lot of their marching orders from the national puppet masters.  Even though the Minnesota Republicans are not as powerful as they were when they had both houses, they still get a shocking amount of direction from the national powers that be.  Look for the bills which basically have the same verbiage as similar bills from other Republican run states. With the Minnesota Republicans, most of these bills fall into the categories of Health Care and the Environment.

Bitterness:  There's a lifetime of soap opera bitterness coming from the Minnesota Republican Party.  Modern Republicans feels as if it's beneath them to have to work with Democrats. For a guy like Kurt Daudt, the former Speaker and current minority leader in the House, his nearly daily temper tantrums are a reminder of how petty and small he is.  Daudt, a man who constantly violated the rules of the House to jam his agenda through when he was Speaker [and who actually had a mute button installed to stop Democrats from talking], actually screamed at Democratic leaders about how they weren't following the rules, and respecting him [HA!  That's rich!].  The condescending attitude from the Minnesota Republicans in the House is both disturbing and delicious at the same time.

For some, this bitterness is making us less safe.  Mary Kiffmeyer is a current Senator, and was at one time the Secretary of State.  She lost that seat in 2006, and she seems to be quite bitter about it.  She's currently holding up millions of dollars in Federal Election security money, money already designated for Minnesota, money every other state in the union has collected to make their elections safer.  The Mueller Report showed the Russians had indeed targeted Minnesota in 2016, so why is she doing this?  Maybe she wants the Russians to win?  She made the argument we shouldn't be bothered if the state's election database is hacked by a foreign government because [paraphrasing] were are all getting hacked all the time anyway (!!!).  If this isn't bitterness, I need someone to explain her motivations.  Right now she's silent as she and her Senate Republicans hide from Election Security meetings, as Minnesota's safety lies in the balance.

Just Plain Stupid:  With all the problems Minnesota is facing this year, getting rid of Daylight Savings Time is pretty low on the list.  Same could be said about cracking down on FAKE hate crimes reports.   These two gems were floated by Republicans so far this year.  Both of these, plus numerous other proposals, can only be described as pathetically stupid.  Today we learned Republicans in the Senate voted to make fishing with two fishing poles legal in the state. Now all you have two do is grow a third hand so you can reel.

When you look at where the Minnesota Republican Party is at, it's a FAR cry from the Republicans of yore.  They keep screaming at a narrower and tighter group of people, hoping their loyal voters never ask why they never deliver on any of their promises.

At the rate the MNGOP is going this year, 2020 might end up being the year the Republicans realize they can no longer take their voters for granted.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Battlefield: Eden Praire Mall Food Court

A terrifying story which could've had a horrific ending occurred at Eden Prairie Mall little more than a week ago.  A man, Daniel Skrove of Chanhassen, decided to deputize himself as the pants police.  Skrove decided to walk up to two individuals (the story implies two African American men) and ordered them to pull up their pants, using colorful language to emphasize his demand. These men were minding their own business, and Skrove approached them unprovoked.  They were not exposing themselves, as they were only wearing clothes the same way many people do, baggier and hanging loose.

Clearly the men were not going to take this guy's crap, so they stood up for themselves.  It's at this point, Skrove (once again unprovoked) said the following "Yeah, I am talking to you [racial slur you probably can figure out], pull your [swear word you probably can figure out] pants up."

Once again, Skrove's motivation to start this battle was baggy pants.  Here's where it gets ugly.

Skrove ran up to them in an aggressive manner.  One of the two, probably fearing for their safety, punched Skrove in the face, knocking the man to the ground.  Skrove jumped back up, pulled a gun (!!!) and threatened to kill both of these men.  He was threatening to gun these men down because he deemed their pants were too baggy.  WOW!

Skrove did this in front of his son (what the hell man?), who allegedly was trying to calm his dad down.  Skrove, seeing a crowd had formed around him, 'holstered' his weapon and fled the scene.  He was arrested in the mall food court, smelling of alcohol.  The gun was recovered, even though the mall is clearly posted as a gun free zone.

Multiple witnesses all reported that not only was Skrove the complete instigator of this conflict, he also could have retreated multiple times from the conflict, but apparently his hatred of baggy pants overrode his better judgment.

If this story sounds vaguely familiar, it should!  A few months ago, in November of last year, ANOTHER crazed white dude went up to some minority kids in the Eden Prairie McDonald's, accused them of trying to use food stamps to get their order when in reality they were having difficulty with the credit card reader.  After accusing the girls of being on government assistance because they were black, the girls stood up for themselves.  The white dude, Lloyd Johnson of Eden Prairie, menaced the girls to a point where they went to retrieve their friends.  At one point, Johnson was arguing intensely with the group of kids.

Eventually the McDonald's conflict became physical with some shoving going on.  It was at this point Johnson brandished his weapon, a gun he shouldn't have had in the McDonald's, a gun he didn't have a license for, and threatened to shoot the kids.

Johnson was arrested by EP police and was charged with felony terrorist threats and carrying an unlicensed gun.

When you read through both stories, the similarities are undeniable:  white guy looking to start a conflict with random minority people, white guy UNPROVOKED being the sole catalyst and instigator for the conflict, innocent minorities standing up for themselves, and white guy brandishing a gun to try to win a fight they themselves started, usually after they've gotten embarrassed by their unfettered racist ignorance, and after coming to realize the minorities are not going to take their crap.

Welcome to Battlefield: Eden Prairie.  I think this is only the beginning of this type of conflict, and I'm very concerned we'll have one of these racist temper tantrums end in a tragic death.

It doesn't surprise me these two clowns are from the exo-suburbs, where 97-99% of their community is white.  In these communities a dangerous stew is being brewed:  one part racism (we need to stop making excuses for these people and call them out for who they are), two parts of conservative ideals which demand you have to force your perceived enemies to bow to your wishes.  Mix it together with a far right media stoking the flames of hate by insisting minorities only want to take white people's things and violate America.  Whisk in an abundance of guns, easily obtained in white suburbs, and spoon in an optional few shots of booze.  Then add conservative policies which have made most people's lives harder, shaking the frustrated and delusional nut ball until they're on the verge of bursting with anger.  Congratulations, you've created a bullet looking for a target.

Why do I think Eden Prairie is going to see a lot more of these incidents?  Because deep inside, most racists are freaking cowards.  They talk about 'showing those inner city people who's the boss,' but they're terrified of being in the inner city.  These people are scared to death of the first tier suburbs as well.  They've convinced themselves going to the Eden Prairie Mall is heading into the nitty gritty city; Eden Prairie, a mostly outside of the 494 loop bedroom community where their black and African American population is still well below 10%.  It's easy for them to melt into their fake world of patrolling a seedy metro as they stroll past the Crate and Barrel and Von Maur, seeing the random minority window shopper. Let the fake bravado flow.

These stories might not have had an ending where the instigating white guy got arrested.  If not for multiple other people standing up and confronting these two jackasses, adding the needed provenance minorities have to have to achieve justice in today's America, there's a good chance the police might have believed the white harassers.  If you're in Eden Prairie, or anywhere for that matter, and you witness crap like this going on, do not shy away.  Help the people being mistreated, stand up to the bullies, or at least grab your cell phone and start recording the incident.  Then when police arrive, make sure you give a statement of what really happened.

I'm not advocating for people to get involved as a way to make white people the African American community's savior.  I feel we all need to be advocates for humanity, helping all people, especially minority groups who are still considered second class citizens in our legal system.  It's not trying to be anyone's 'savior,' rather it's doing your part to validate reality.

I guarantee the next time I'm in Eden Prairie, I'm going to be far more concerned about the white guy walking towards me.  They seem to be the real threat to peace and prosperity in suburban America.

Friday, April 19, 2019

The Friday Link for 4/19/19

Sorry the blog has been light this week, but I've been working on a piece for smacking back at far right Christians and their hatred of the LGTBQ community, and how it really is in no way Christian to hate.  Plus the last day and a half has been a hoot with the Mueller investigation getting (somewhat) released. Lots of fun for the kiddos!

I have two for you tonight, but first my religious declaimer:

You do, or don't do, whatever it is you want to do, or not do.  I'm Catholic.

This post is in no way meant to try to convert anyone, but with the tragedy at Notre Dame earlier this week, I wanted to post something about the church.  Here is the Easter Mass from two years ago.  I've been to Notre Dame twice, and it was spectacular.  They'll rebuild, but part of the history is sadly lost forever.

And for something fun for the kiddos and the adults too, here is the Pencilmates episode which features the Easter Egg Hunt.

Have a great weekend and if you are celebrating it like myself, have a wonderful Easter too!

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Friday Link for 4/12/19

Three VERY different themes for you tonight.

Representative Ilhan Omar, the fantastic human, went onto Colbert's show this week, and the interview was sensational.  The reason the Right hates her (well outside of the fact she's a Muslim, woman, minority, three things the Right despises) is that she and the other freshmen Democrats have had it with the bullcrap the Republicans have been putting forward.

For example, the Republicans already know many Senate Democrats will call for the return of the filibuster the minute the Democrats regain control of the US Senate.  They'll spew some stupidity about decorum and 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' ideals, but the Republicans will be laughing because they know the second they take back over again they'll get rid of it again, with stunned Democrats sputtering about some broken agreement they were the only ones to agree too.

Rep. Omar is not of that vein.  She'd make sure what's good for the goose is good for the gander, as stunned Republicans scream about how the Democrats can't treat them the same way they treated the Dems.

I adore her and I'm proud she's my Representative.

Next up this week is a revisiting of the Everything Wrong With two parter of Star Wars: the Phantom Menace.  With the release of the trailer for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, let's remember how bad this franchise can be.   This just makes me laugh.  Watch for language.

Finally tonight, something to scare you.  In celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the release of Alien, there are mini Alien movies which have been produced.  I've seen three of them, and this is by far the best.  It is scary, and somewhat gross too.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Springtime for Trump

A really weird thing happened to me last weekend. Three separate people, completely unknown to each other, on various social media platforms, asked me if I felt we are at the point where Trump was going to finally drop the facade and pursue what many people feel is the inevitable with him; a Nazi-esque shelving of the US Democratic system to be replaced with a Hitler-esque fascist dictator regime.  All three had brought up either Hitler and/or the Nazis, and displayed real fear the US was about to fall.

I've been very hesitant to label Trump like Hitler.  Hitler was Hitler and I've repeatedly said to label any current politician as Hitler is misguided.  You not only grossly overreach at condemning a politician you don't like, but every time you label someone you disagree with politically as Hitler, it diminishes the true horrific record of Hitler and the Nazis.

I have said guys like Trump and Iowa white supremacist loving Representative Steve King are not Nazis, but they sure like to cosplay Hitler and the Nazis at times, and the continued repetition of extremism of Trump lately is undeniable.  His term has morphed, from the beginning where witless and foolish Republicans thought they could corral Trump, to where we are now, a purging of all moderate voices from the Administration to be replaced by yes men who don't care about the legality of what Trump wants.  They'll beg for forgiveness after the fact as opposed to ask for permission beforehand.

I guess what I'm saying is if Trump and others are only cosplaying an evil dictator, shouldn't they take off the evil dictator costume occasionally?

This country has NEVER gone this far to the extreme right, where we're only a handful of Republican Congressmen away from changing American Democracy forever.  We've had Presidents who have taken us to extremes (Adams, Jackson, Harding, and a Cheney led W. Bush) but we've always had Congress and the Supreme Court there to prevent the country from breaking.  Now, a stacked Trump lap dog Republican government and a compromised Judiciary are working in turn with Trump. We're bending America Democracy, and cracks and splinters are starting to expose themselves.

So, for the sake of argument, let me break down how extreme we've gotten, why everyone should be scared of the potential of American Democracy falling, and why at the end of the day, even though things could get ugly, American Democracy should still win out in the Age of Trump.

When I've said Trump isn't Hitler, that was because Trump hadn't taken steps down the Hitler path, but that's no longer true.  Has Trump vilified a religion?  Absolutely, much like Hitler vilified the Jews.  His intolerance of Muslims even steals direct lines from the Nazis who persecuted the Jewish people.  Has Trump started locking people up for ethnic reasons?  Absolutely, as not only has Trump rounded up brown skinned immigrants who might be here illegally, or might have come to the border seeking sanctuary, but he has also undeniably locked up numerous American citizens just because of the color of their skin and the ethnicity of their names.  Has Trump labeled his political enemies as traitors and villains?  Absolutely, leading red meat crazed fans into chants of violence against them. Has Trump validated racist extremism by insisting they are just misunderstood?  Absolutely, as he has stated there are good Nazis and KKK members.

When you start to take inventory, you're seeing the tell tale signs of an evil despot personality. The unfortunate part is you have Republicans in Congress enabling him.  If a four year old wanted to drive the car, sane people would say no.  The current Trump Republicans would scream the four year old is the best driver ever, hand the kid the keys, and get him a book to sit on so he could see over the steering wheel.

There are definitive reasons we all should be scared of where Trump is going today.

First, his followers are blinded to anything this guy does.  They look at Trump and see a Jesus Christ/Chris Hemsworth/Lincoln hybrid.  At first I thought I was just misreading them, but I've come to realize I'm not.  These people are brainwashed, willing to sacrifice their own well being, their religion and their futures on continuing to follow a mirage in the desert.  Trump's emboldened because 30% of this country is intentionally ignoring all the bad things he does, mainly because they're terrified of being proven wrong by the Democrats.  Intentional blind faith in political leaders NEVER leads to a good outcome.

Which brings me to another scary reality, the number of his followers who would gladly start shooting at Democrats tomorrow if Trump requested it.  I'd say at least 2 million people in America would gladly grab their NRA inspired manhoods and head out the door looking for enemies to take out for Trump.  I say this with trepidation as I know I'd be public enemy number one for more than a few of these kooks.  By validating the extremist (and usually racist) militia types, allowing them to move off their compounds and into small town and suburban America, Trump has cultivated a loyal following of absolute crazies ready to fight.

But the scariest element of Trump today is Stephen Miller.  Trump henchman Stephen Miller has all the characteristics of a classic dictator lackey.  He knows he could never attain power and success on his own, so he plays Igor to Trump, praising him constantly while installing his agenda at the same time.  The reason most of the Republicans who came on board with Trump at the beginning of his term are now long gone is Miller.  He can't push this country into a more bigoted regime with voices of reason around.  Now that he's purged the Department of Homeland Security, in the process of putting a Nazi-esque anti-brown skinned agenda in place, one which will make baby prisons seem quaint, we're getting a good view of how a stable democracy can shockingly morph into a fascist state.  It's not just the dictator; it's also the inner circle around them, each megalomaniac with their own visions of hate.  The similarities between Miller and people like Göring, Goebbels, and Himmler are undeniable at this point.  Trump has surrounded himself with a cadre of really sick people with agendas (Bannon, Pirro, Dobbs and others), all eager to rule from Trump's shadow.

Everybody scared?  Okay, there are some things going on in America which should be cause for great alarm, but Democracy isn't dead yet.  Here are a few reasons Trump's imperialist rise might not be such a slam dunk.

First, the Judicial Branch of government, although extremely compromised, isn't completely lost.  Namely, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is not the rubber stamp the right wants him to be.  Even though Roberts usually takes the corporation side when it comes to cases in front of the Supreme Court, he usually is not on board with rulings which potentially can change the foundation of America.  When the Mueller Report and Trump's taxes eventually get to the Supreme Court, don't be surprised if Roberts votes for governmental transparency over party affiliation.

Let's get to brass tacks. If Trump tried to overthrown the current Democracy, likely with most Republicans on board, there are a few HUGE hurdles which would make this extremely tough.  Corporate America would not be on board.  Most Fortune 500 companies wouldn't tolerate a third of their staff being rounded up and shipped off overnight.  They also wouldn't take too kindly to a third of their customer base disappearing overnight.  While some smaller corporations might be on board (I imagine My Pillow would be all for a fascist overthrow of Democracy), the bankrollers for the Republicans for the most part would be against changing the current system too drastically.

You'd need the armed forces on your side, and I can not see that happening.  Most military leaders wouldn't be for rounding up, imprisoning, and executing American citizens.  Regardless of a few white supremacists in the ranks, most soldiers (regardless of branch of the military) wouldn't turn their guns on their fellow countrymen.  My guess would be, if Trump ordered the US Military to start rounding up Democrats, the military would look at Trump and give him the ultimatum of stepping down or being forced out.

Not only would you need the military on board, you'd need a massive amount of law enforcement on board too.  The state patrols, the county sheriffs and the local police departments would all have to be in check with Trump and his commands.  I have no doubt more law enforcement officials would follow Trump's orders than military people would, but there's still a big difference in expecting the police to (in unison) become a dark police force overnight.

And here's where it get's even more complicated.  At least 20 states and the vast majority of major metropolitan communities would not be on board.  I know the right loves to look at a map and see Idaho, Wyoming and Montana all red, but they're a tiny fraction of the population of California combined.  The majority of people would live in states and cities which would openly defy Trump orders of a crackdown.  For every Boise quick to get in line with Trump's commands, there would be three or four Minneapolis', Houston's and Atlanta's pushing back hard.

Is there a scenario where I could see Trump successfully disrupting or usurping government?  He might try to assassinate the Democratic nominee right before the election (Very Russian!).  If it looks like he's about to lose by a huge margin, he might consider doing it just to avoid being humiliated.  And it should be noted that part of Trump and Miller's purging of the Department of Homeland Security is a leadership change at the Secret Service, the organization which would be providing security for any Democratic candidate right before the election.  If it were to happen after the election, the US House would (via the Constitution) select the next President, so it would have to happen just prior to the election, leaving the Democrats little time to get a write in campaign in place.

The other scenario is far darker.  Realizing Trump and his minions can't trust the armed forces to follow their commands, they hatch a plan where a combination of private for profit militia types (remember, Erik Prince from Blackwater is one of Trump's advisors), and foreign covert military operatives from Russia, Israel and/or Saudi Arabia would take out a targeted list of Democrats and political leaders in a coordinated strike.  In the aftermath, Trump's regime goats the military and law enforcement to follow his lead to "help get the country out of this chaotic time."  The biggest problem for Trump is all it would take would be one assassin to get caught or killed.  The firestorm of a foreign agent being involved, or a soldier for hire being exposed as the shooter, would be too much for Trump to contain.

The scariest part of me writing this is how we're getting to a point to where these discussions don't sound like a political version of the Twilight Zone, or a Marvel Comics 'What If.'  The current fall of America is due to one massive character flaw in Trump.  He's so desperate for people to love him, he would gladly embrace a forced adoration policy if he needs to.

Friday, April 5, 2019

The Friday Link for 4/5/19

I often refer to the current age we in the United States are living in as the Age of Greed.  Greed, and many other disgusting character traits of humans, have become virtues of the Conservative right.  It comes from this Ayn Rand fueled idea that selfishness and narcism are virtues, and everyone's goal should be to get as wealthy as you can, while helping the least amount of other people, as you crush your enemies. And remember, many of these people are Christians!

This week, let me give you the greatest example of the Age of Greed, and no, it's not Trump.  It's the owner and grand poohba of World Wrestling Entertainment, Vince McMahon.

McMahon's rise has been littered with disturbing story after disturbing story.  There are many God awful traits about McMahon, but how he treats the people who've made him all of his money is by far the worst.  The wrestlers he employs are treated as nothing more than disposable cattle.  He breaks them and throws them to the curb, acting as if he owes them NOTHING for the pain they endure, leaving them to suffer tremendously as they limp into the remainder of their shockingly shortened lives.

Let me let John Oliver from Last Week Tonight take it from here.  Warning bad language, but it's nothing compared to the atrocious way McMahon treats other human beings, human beings which have made him all of his money.  Keep a look out for some straight talking from our former Governor, Jesse!

On that disgusting reveal, I hope you have a great weekend, and enjoy the Final Four.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

The View From South Carolina...

How Cable News Got Broken

I was watching CNN the other day and Trump spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway was on again.  It was atrocious, and I found myself screaming at the television 'why did you let her on again?'  All she did was lie and distort, deflect and accuse.  She added no value to anyone's day, but yet CNN will have her on the air three or four times a week for more of the same.

Cable news got permanently broken by the Republicans in the 1990's.  Here's how they did it.

Republicans, led by the Contract with America crowd, and bolstered by the new Fox News network, a network who was clearly willing to pander to the right, started accusing all news outlets of liberal bias.  Most of them didn't have liberal bias, but the right kept screaming they did.  They created a red herring litmus test.  If the network refused to put on an opposing viewpoint, and allow the opposing viewpoint to put forward their perspective unchallenged, then the news outlet was liberal, and hence should never be trusted.

There's nothing wrong with opposing viewpoints, as long as we're not debating something which has been proven to be accepted truth.  Two people arguing over the best way to spend tax dollars is a perfectly legitimate discussion.  Someone screaming the scientific community has been lying, that the sun actually rotates around the earth, should not be given a pulpit to scream their stupidity.

Conservatives were angry their decades of arguments about cigarettes not being a health crisis had been proven to be a pack of lies.  They realized unless they can muddy the waters of fact, other issues they championed would also fall to the truth.  By demanding all cable news outlets give equal time to the opposite viewpoint, regardless of how rational or irrational they were, and by demanding the news outlets never question the insane rantings, they created a fog bank on a sunny day.

Climate Change is the ultimate victory for them.  In the early 1990's we all knew climate change was real, and that fossil fuels were the cause of our rising CO2 levels.  If the amount of scientists back then who agreed on these points were also to have agreed Hostess Twinkies prevented cancer, Hostess would have been the number one company on the planet overnight.

But Republicans, in bed with the fossil fuel industry, used their screams of 'Scarlet Letter Liberal' to force one time respectable news outlets to give equal time to bought and paid for corporate "scientists" who insisted the scientific community had made climate change up, that it was a myth, and the scientists were only in it for the 'anti-climate change money.'  That last part was hilarious, but it worked.  Here we are 25 years later and even though we're on the verge of breaking this planet to the point of mass extinction, most people in the US act like climate change is still an unproven scientific issue.

After a few decades of allowing unfettered stupidity on their airwaves, cable news not only doesn't know how to stop booking these fools, they can no longer identify who on their airwaves is wasting everyone's time.

If you really want to see how bad American cable news is, watch an interview on the BBC.  Watch how they challenge people with facts, never allowing them to slink away or to change the subject.  There's a reason very few Republicans (and no one from the Trump Administration) ever appear on the BBC.  They know they will never be held accountable on American cable news.