Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Just Say No To Joe

I never paid much attention to Joe Biden when he first came into the national spotlight as the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. I was too busy fighting the State of New York, trying to keep my family together after my first wife died. I did see the news clips of the way the committee treated Professor Hill, and I was outraged that they would denigrate her and try to make her out a liar. But that was of secondary importance to me at the time.

Then when Biden became Vice President, the biggest thing I recall is that I supported him, but only because he was Barack Obama ‘s choice as running mate. And his penchant for gaffes and humor was appealing in a way that George W. Bush’s was, making him seem like someone I might want as a neighbor or at a cookout. And I loved the comic memes that came out during that period, with him and Obama allegedly commenting of the doings of the political day.

I only began really looking at him when he was being put forth as a potential Presidential candidate, when he was acting so coy that some would wonder if he was seriously considering running. His record, as I saw it, was atrocious. But even then I didn’t take him seriously, because he hadn’t actually announced yet.

Then came Lucy Flores’ op-ed about Biden’s touchie-feelie habits, followed in short order by other women’s accounts of similar occurrences. Troubling indeed, especially in light of Donald Trump’s egregious behavior toward women. I wondered if the Democratic Party would back him as their preferred candidate, or would they eschew him in the age of #MeToo?

We got our answer, more or less, in April, when he announced that he was throwing his hat in the ring. The Democratic establishment ramped up its smear machine against progressive candidates and their supporters. And their media lapdogs worked harder than ever to try to marginalize the progressives who had already announced, even going so far as to try to trap Bernie Sanders into making political gaffes and completely ignore Tulsi Gabbard, Mike Gravel and, to a slightly lesser degree, Andrew Yang.

Oddly enough (or maybe not so odd if one thinks about it), those supporting Biden have been trying ever since to take the focus off his record showing his conservative “values”, in a concerted attempt to make it appear that progressive opposition to him as a candidate is solely predicated on his penchant for being handsy.

It’s not.

While Biden’s proclivity for being hands-on is problematic even in comparison with Trump, that pales in comparison to his legislative record. It’s that record that inspires the progressive antipathy to his candidacy, much more so than the #MeToo narrative.1991

First there was his attack on Hill in 1991. True, he offered a half-assed apology for the way she was treated, stating that he wishes he could have changed it. That, though, is an outright lie, since he indeed could have changed it, because he was the one in charge of that committee.

He helped write the 1994 Clinton crime bill that began in earnest the slide into mass incarceration of mostly minorities and the enabled the rapid expansion of the for-profit prison industry.

He supported the Clinton welfare “reform” that pushed more families into poverty.

In 1995, he wrote the Omnibus Counterterrorism Act that later became the so-called PATRIOT Act, which he voted for in 2001.

In 1996 he voted against gay marriage.

In 1999 he helped repeal the Glass-Steagal Act that protected against bank fraud and largely prevented a second Great Depression.

He voted for the 2002 Iraq invasion.

He voted to end student bankruptcy protection in 2005.

He supports our seemingly endless foreign interventions and regime change wars.

He supported NAFTA, TPP and the disastrous China trade bill that cost far too many American jobs.

He supported the bailout of the banks that caused the Great Recession of 2008, for which nobody was prosecuted.

He supports fracking and the oil and gas pipelines that are and will continue to damage our environment.

He keeps taking big corporate money, including the usurious credit card industry, making him beholden to those organizations.

He’s called THREE TIMES to cut Social Security, called for an increase in the retirement age, and opposes a living wage.

He opposes Medicare For All and the Green New Deal.

He opposed measures to let consumers sue for price-fixing.

And you want me and other progressives to support his candidacy for the highest office in the land? Because…. Trump!

I don’t think so.

© May 21, 2019 by Donald C. Rice Jr.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

The Question of Reparations

In a recent episode of The Real News, Jacqueline Luqman interviewed Adolf Reed, a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, on the issue of reparations for the descendants of slaves in America.  Overall it was a rather wide-ranging discussion, but the primary focus was on the response of Bernie Sanders in comparison to the other Democratic Party candidates for the 2020 Presidential election.  The main question is whether Sanders should have a specific answer or policy on that issue instead of denigrating the idea of "writing a check".

A salient point that was mentioned in the interview is that there is no consensus on exactly what is meant by reparations.  This was discussed in some length comparative to the length of the interview, and what was apparently agreed upon is the need for further discussion, and perhaps legislation aimed at coming to a conclusion on what would be appropriate in this day and age, as well as the political viability of tackling this idea as a society.

I have a few questions on this issue.  Some might think that the question of Sanders' response would be foremost, but they would be wrong making that assumption.  It's well-known among my friends, colleagues, family acquaintances both on-line and off that I'm a strong supporter of Senator Sanders and the progressive agenda.  But here I wasnt to focus specifically on the issue of reparations.

As noted, both here and in the interview, there is no consensus on the issue.  If I recall my history classes correctly, the original solution to slavery after the Civil War was to give the freed slaves, as the once-popular saying goes, "40 acres and a mule".  (As an aside, this was actually done in South Carolina, until after Abe Lincoln was assassinated and the new President, Andrew Johnson, took back the land and the mules.) 

The question then should logically turn to how that solution could be translated to fit our modern-day society.  In other words, what would be an equivalent, in today's societal and economic terms, to those 40 acres and a mule?  Further, we need to ask ourselves and society as a whole if it can be done; and if so, how we can do it.

In my view, we the people should be the ones to find solutions, for the very simple reason that the greatest positive changes in human society have come about, not from the leaders, but from the people, in movements of the masses.  So we should be the ones to not only find the solution to this issue, but to then communicate that (or those) solutions to our elected representatives, including (and perhaps especially) to those who are seeking the Presidency.

© March 30, 2019 by Donald C. Rice Jr.

Jacqueline Luqman's interview can be seen here:

Bernie and the Reparations Debate


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Mad Doctor Returns

Rhames Blond
Agent Double-Zero 9-1/2

The Mad Doctor Returns

A Satire
Don Rice Jr.

   He moved from the office area onto the catwalk that ran through the assembly line, searching for an off switch.  He was confident he could find it before too many of the cyborg monstrosities were ready to be activated.  As a precaution, he held his portable E-M Pulse Cannon/Taser close to his chest, ready to aim and fire in any direction if necessary. 
   It looked oddly like the old, no longer made Walther PPK once carried by his fictional spy hero.  In fact, he'd had the weapon specially made to bear that resemblance.  But it was capable, in theory at least, of fending off both these infernal electronic machines and the equally deplorable living human beings who built them.  But he hoped it wouldn't be needed, he so strongly abhorred violence even against mindless automatons, living ot not.
   Just as he stepped off the conveyor walkway, looking strangely like an actor he'd seen in a slew of violent drama films over the years, a trap door opened beneath his feet, startling him.  He reached for the edge of remaining floor, but missed and plunged into utter darkness.  He heard the sound of gas jets spewing some foul concoction as he slammed into an unyielding surface, presumably another floor, and was almost instantly rendered unconscious.
   He was groggy when he came to, but only for a brief moment.  He quickly discovered that he was held in place by steel arm and leg bands, and had been stripped of all his fancy gadgets that might have aided in his escape.  He looked in awe as a wall the size of five football stadium viewscreen lit up, blinding him momentarily.
   When his vision cleared, he was staring into the super-sized face of his old arch-enemy, taking up most of the screen.  Half of the visage drooped motionlessly, the boxy jowls seeming to be in a state of decay.  The other half grinned evilly down at him, eyes agleam with a boundless, unwavering hatred.
   Calmly, with an air of nonchalance, the agent said, "Well, if it isn't the notorious Doctor Elizabeth Kissincheney.  Our best intelligence had it that you were dead."
   "Only the Kissinger half of me, Mister Blond.  I can thank you for that.   Seriously, I do thank you.  That part was getting more pedantic by the day, trying to lecture me on the subtleties of world domination.  He was acting like the reincarnation of Machiavelli, for God's sake!"
   Blond replied blandly, "No.  You don't say."
   "Oh, please, Mr. Blond.  Don't start with your insufferably snide conversational ploys.  They won't work this time, now that my other half is no longer in control of my speech center."
   "Well, since sarcasm won't work, would you be so kind as to satisfy my curiosity on one question?"
   "Since you're completely under my control at last, I see no harm in indulging you, Mr. Blond.  What is it you wish to know?"
   "You're obviously all male, the epitome of German Jewish American masculinity.  So how is it you came by such a feminine first name?  Why didn't you stay with the name your father gave you, Ernest?"
   The good doctor raised an eyebrow.  "Oh, that?  It was simply a matter of honoring the memory of my dear departed daughter.  You see, she had a deliciously demented man's brain, but it was trapped in a woman's body.  She always wished to be a man, but was never able to make the transition.  So when the ungodly Christian right wingers arranged her assassination for that thought crime, after a suitable period of mourning, I changed my name to hers as a means of eternal remembrance.  It's the least a good father could do, don't you think?"
   "Oh, indubitably.  The very least."
   "I'm so glad you approve.  But I must say, I'm rather disappointed.  I thought you, of all people, might have a more appropriate question, considering your current, rather precarious predicament."
   "Now that you mention it, I do have a question on that, too.  What are you planning to do once I'm out of the way?"
   "Oh, many things, Mr. Blond.  Through my international network of arch criminals, I'm going to destroy modern civilization as we know it, and then rebuild it in my image.
   "I'm going to sow discontent in the corrupt practices of world political systems.  I'll create a plethora of social justice organizations to rise up against them.  I'll call them Occupy, Black Lives Matter, Code Pink, Hashtag Resistance, and so forth, to engage the unwashed masses as a rebellion against the destruction and denial of civil liberties and human rights worldwide.
   "At the same time, I'll build an opposing force meant to quash that rebellion, and raise up leaders who will foment violence against all those social justice warriors.  I shall bring on the mythological Armageddon so long sought after by unthinking religious zealots the world over.  It will be glorious!"
   "That's juggling a lot of eggs in one basket, don't you think?"
   "That's what makes it so deliciously diabolical, my dear Rhames.  It's all right to call you Rhames, isn't it?"
   Blond nodded his head, encouraging the madman to continue.  "But how are you going to keep it all together, to keep all the different parts working properly?"
   "That's the best part, Rhames.  I'll partner with big industrialists, corporate managers, advertising executives  and entertainment moguls to brainwash people into turning on each other with different perspectives on how society should be run.  Together, we will bribe politicians and other world leaders to support these variously incompatible causes and solidify the chaos that will inevitably ensue."
   "That's a rather ambitious plan, isn't it, Liz?  I may call you Liz, mayn't I?"
   "Ah, flattery will get you nowhere, Rhames.  But I shall indulge it this time, because I have a secret weapon.  I have you, Rhames."
   "Me?  Now I truly am curious.  How do I fit into your sociopathic scheme?"
   "It's quite simple, really.  I will have my mad scientists turn your skin white, whiter than even the palest Nazi communist socialist Hitlerite who ever lived.  And I will program your brain to believe you are the the second coming of the Christian Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, and announce your miraculous arrival to the evangelicals of the world so they will all follow you."
   Blond shook his head, his pale dreadlocks waving and flopping.  "It will never work, Liz."
   "Why won't it work, Rhames?"
   "I won't lead them anywhere but off a cliff at the edge of this flat Earth.  And I ain't gonna be turned into no Got-damn cracker, muthafucka!"
   "Ah, but you will, my friend.  Do you see that steel motorcycle helmet lowering toward your head?  It's filled with wires and devices that will drill into your brain and change the neural pathways that control your thinking processes.  Your brain, such as it is, will be made over to conform to my will, and only to my will.  Oh, please don't struggle, Rhames.  You cannot escape my clutches.  If you think otherwise, you are mistaken.  Your faith in your puny abilities is sadly misplaced."
   Blond shook his head vehemently as the helmet continued its descent toward him.  "NOOOOO," he screamed.
   Then he saw in his mind's eye a little green hobgoblin with pointed ears moving on their own, and heard a voice, seeming to come out of nowhere.  "Feel the Farce, Luke."
   "But I'm not Luke, dammit!"
   "Of course you're not.  Feel it anyway, my young apprentice."
   Blond closed his eyes and shunted his thoughts aside.  "Yes, my master," he whispered.
   He focused on his left arm, willing a cheap plastic panel to slide open.  Out popped a metal cylinder with a button on one side.   He pressed the button, and a beam of coherent light sprung forth.  The restraining band popped open, releasing his arm.  He waived the cylinder like a wand and yelled, "Accio E-M Cannon!"
   A broom came flying toward him, slapping his face.  "Dammit," he yelled, "I'm not Harry either!"
   Finally a blue police call booth appeared out of thin air.  A giant octagonal salt shaker popped out and aimed Blond's E-M cannon at the screen and pulled the trigger, releasing a pulse and then two thin wires that flew through the air.  The screen burst open and there behind it was the half-ruined Doctor Kissincheney, small as a gnome, waving his arms and crying, "I'm melting!  I'm melting!"
   The salt shaker transformed into a beautiful blonde witch and glided onto the broom, taking control of it.  "Well, Rhames, this is another fine mess you've gotten yourself into.  But now it's over, and I have to get back to my family.  Gilligan's asleep finally, and Ward wants to beat the Beaver again.  Ta-ta!" 
   Blond watched as the apparition faded back into the ether.  "Nice to see you again too, Morticia," he said.  "Until next time."
   Her disembodied voice replied, "Oh, there won't be a next time, Rhames.  This isn't a serial on the telly, you know."

© March 19, 2019
by Donald Charles Rice Jr.

Monday, March 18, 2019

The Attack on Ilhan Omar and Pelosi’s Unconditional Support for Israel

The Attack on Ilhan Omar and Pelosi’s Unconditional Support for Israel: Nancy Pelosi pledged support for Israel “even if the Capitol crumbles”, as major Democratic Party funder and pro-Israel advocate Hiam Saban looked on - our panel discusses anti-semitism, Israel and the Democratic Party with Jacqueline Luqman, Jeff Cohen and host Paul Jay