Friday, October 28, 2016

Poisoning The Well: How Satire and Spoof Have Become The New Way of Spreading Disinformation

by Nomad

April FoolAnother casualty of the 2016 presidential campaign, besides civility and sanity, has been the meaning of the word, satire. Today, satirical or fake news sites function as disinformation sources.  


When Every Day is April Fool's

Satire, sarcasm's helpful cousin, is a constructive form of mockery, "aimed at ridiculing those whom it is directed to." The dictionary tells us that its purpose is to "employ humor to instigate people towards positive change."

It's been around in one form or another since the earliest days of theater, back in ancient Greece. In fact, the first comedies were mainly satirical and mocked men in power for their vanity and foolishness. 
Men who took themselves too seriously. Men whose ignorance begged to be called out. In other words, men very much like Donald Trump. 

Later, Roman satire became "a vehicle for biting, subversive social and personal criticism." The key word here is "subversive." It was never normally the propaganda tool of the ruling class, but a sharp stick to poke at the social elites and the people in power. 

There's a famous story from the historian Suetonius, about the Roman emperor Vespasian who enjoyed his court jester making satirical jokes about the pompous men of society. The emperor said "What about me? Make a joke at my expense."
The wit, picking up on Vespasian's perpetual grimace and furrowed brow, said, "Oh I will.. as soon as you finish relieving yourself."

In modern times, satire has been a very effective tool to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society. A kind of social commentary through ironic humor. 

Of all the things that this election has torn asunder, one thing that has had little coverage has been the death of satire. That's an odd thing too since there has been a rise in the number of news spoof sites.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Why the Republican Party Must be Held Accountable for the Donald Trump Fiasco

by Nomad

Trump debates

If Donald Trump loses the election, as it appears likely, there's one thing we can be sure of: we are going to hear a lot of Republican excuse-making in the following weeks and months. And there will be blame thrown in every direction. 
Sadly, soul-searching isn't really a Republican virtue. Looking back and learning from mistakes just isn't something the Grand Old Party is very good at. But the question is: will the voters accept the inevitable excuses from the republican establishment or this catastrophe?

Monday, October 24, 2016

Tom Hayden- Radical Protest Marching into the Mainstream

by Nomad

Tom Hayden Protest Quote

Famed '60s anti-war activist Tom Hayden died on Sunday after a long illness. 
Once denounced as a traitor and a dangerous radical by his detractors, Hayden went on to serve in the California State Assembly and State Senate. For almost two decades, Hayden was a progressive voice on issues such as the environment, education and animal welfare. 
He once wrote about his days as a protester:
"I didn't want to go from beating to beating, jail to jail... There was an entire generation to arouse, primarily about civil rights but also about the larger issues."
Click here for his complete biography.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Ralph Waldo Emerson's Advice to Donald Trump

by Nomad

"Essentially Impossible"- Texas Officials Dismiss Trump's Desperate Claims of Rigged Elections

by Nomad

Officials in the Republican-dominated state of Texas have strongly rejected Trump's allegation that the election will be rigged against him. It's not going to happen in Texas, they assure the voters of the Lone Star State.

Wild Flailings of the Desperate Deceiver

Trump is in trouble. 
The man who has always considered himself the winner is now facing a defeat of a historical scale in the upcoming election. And the end for his political aspirations is fast approaching. 

In his denial and despair, Trump has resorted to a foolhardy, dangerous and unprecedented strategy of claiming the elections are rigged. On the campaign trail, the candidate has repeatedly claimed that there's a conspiracy afoot and his enemies are plotting to snatch victory away from him on the 8th of November. But who are these villains?
Well, by the woman he cast as his arch-nemesis, Hillary, and the once-friendly, now untraitorous media, and, finally a lineup of perfidious Republicans.

In short, nearly everybody is against poor Donald except for his increasingly overwrought supporters. (We have come a long way since the day when Trump proclaimed that "everybody" loved him.)

Despite Trump offering absolutely no evidence of election fraud in the making, many of his supporters appear to believe Trump's allegation.  

That brings us to the Lone Star State.
On Tuesday the Washington Post revealed something few people could have foreseen. Trump lead in Texas is a mere 2 percentage points over Hillary Clinton.
That officially makes Texas, once considered a Republican sure-thing, a battleground state, joining  Ohio, Florida, and Arizona. 
(In Nevada- another Republican state- Clinton reportedly has an astonishing 7-point lead over Trump, according to the latest survey from Monmouth University.)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Trump's Guiding Principles: Conservative Columnist in Atlanta Decodes Deplorable Donald

by Nomad

An op-ed piece, Three Rules for Understanding All Donald Trump Says or Does, found in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is in some ways a remarkable testimony of the unpredictability of this election. 

First of all, there's the fact that it's a voice from the deep South.

From 1868 thru 1960, the state was a Democratic dependability in every election. That's a bit misleading in fact. In this period of American history, the party platforms were very different- practically the opposite than that currently are. 
(The often-heard boast that the Republican Party is the party of Lincoln overlooks the fact that the Grand Old Party was formed with the help of a newspaper mogul, Horace Greeley, who was not only a proud Socialist but the employer of both Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.)

By 1964, political sensibilities had shifted radically. The ultra-conservative Dixie-Crats,which had formed the Democratic Southern flank, were, after the Civil Rights Act, wooed into the arms of the GOP by the Republican  “southern strategy."  (A divide and conquer tactic was based largely on appealing to deep-seated prejudices, regional pride, and long-standing resentments.)

The Governor of Alabama and deeply flawed candidate George Wallace ran as an independent and won hearts in "Peach State" in 1968. However, since then, (with two exceptions, Jimmy Carter in 1976 and Bill Clinton in 1992) Georgians have sided with Republican presidential candidates.

Because of the GOP's choice of nominee, this year could just be another exceptional case. According to one poll, it is quite possible that Georgia could flip to Hillary Clinton this election.
The latest YouGov election model contains some shocking news for Republicans as it currently projects that Georgia will flip to Hillary Clinton on Election Day.
The new YouGov model projects that Hillary Clinton will defeat Donald Trump 48%-42% in the popular vote, and will win the Electoral College 362-176.
It seems unlikely and yet, the fact that Trump has been able to get this far was once thought implausible. We shall just have to wait and see. A lot of things can happen between now and November.  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Could We Soon Be Witnessing the Fall of ISIL?

by Nomad

Battle of Mosul montage

Last Friday, while most of the US media was myopically focused on the collapse of Donald "Genitalia-Grabbing" Trump's campaign, there was, in fact, other news happening. With all the current talk about fights for survival and battleground states, it's easy to forget that a very genuine war is being fought.
And what happens in the battle for the capital of the Islamic State may have a profound effect on what happens next month in the US elections.

ISIS' Armageddon in Dabiq

At the end of last week, the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters scored a major and perhaps a decisive victory against the terrorist organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, otherwise known as ISIL or Daesh: the liberation of the strongholds of Dabiq and Soran. 

Since 24 August of this year, the Turkish military and Syrian rebel groups have joined together against ISIL forces in northern Syria in a cross-border operation called Euphrates Shield
Friday marked the Day 53 of that offensive with the Turkish military hitting at least 80 ISIL targets and reportedly killing 80 terrorists. Turkish news sources add:
Turkish warplanes also destroyed two military quarters and three buildings. The army added that since the beginning of the operation in late August, 28 mines and 1,156 handmade explosives of Daish terrorists have been safely destroyed.
After driving out the jihadist fighters, the FSA took control of the northern Syrian towns of Dabiq and Soran. Over the weekend, FSA fighters were still trying to neutralize the bombs set up by ISIL militants in the area, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
Why is Dabiq so important? Well, Dabiq isn't just your average town in northern Syria.
"According to Islamic tradition, Dabiq will be the site of a final battle between Muslims and infidels heralding Doomsday."
To some devout Muslims, it's where Armageddon is to take place. For ISIL fighters, the loss of this symbolic town must have had extremely demoralizing implications, as they find themselves on the losing side in the battle of good and evil. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Texas Senator's Passivity to Trump's Rigged Election Lies is Just an Example of GOP Weakness

by Nomad

We are in uncharted waters when it comes to this year's election. Clearly, GOP nominee Donald Trump's recent bizarre behavior coupled with a series of sexual misconduct allegations has thrown the Republican Party into a paralyzing panic.
Faced with a political nightmare of an unprecedented scale, they seem too shell-shocked to do much of anything. That's understandable. At no time in American history has a political party faced such a calamity like this.

Meltdown Dwarfing Chernobyl

Trump has said a lot of unnerving things and of late, his remarks go well beyond those of any responsible politician. They go beyond the limits of a public figure. Indeed, some are beginning to say Trump's statements reflect a disturbed mind. 

None of his remarks have been more destructive, in terms of national security, than Trump's repeated claims that the US elections will be rigged. Across the country, he has told his supporters it is a foregone conclusion that Democratic Hillary Clinton will "steal" the election away from him.
As recently as this week, Trump told his supporters that the election could be “stolen” from him, calling on them to “watch other communities” for fraud at the polls.
Nowhere is the confusion greater than in red-state Texas. A recent poll showed something that Republicans could never have thought possible. Trump leads Clinton by a mere four percentage points - with a margin of error of four percent. Technically, that might just mean that Trump and Clinton are neck and neck in- of all places- the Lone Star State. 

Friday, October 14, 2016

Why Donald Trump is the Last Person on the Planet to Think about Suing Anybody for Libel

by Nomad

After all of the malicious accusations, Donald Trump has dished out during this campaign, the very idea that he would threaten anybody with libel might seem highly improbable and incredibly hypocritical. 

Just when you thought things could get any more repulsive and disgusting, more allegations regarding sexual misconduct by the currently hard-pressed Donald Trump have come to light. In all five women have come forward to say that Trump sexually assaulted them.

These latest claims fly in the face of Trump's defense that his "hot-mic" comments were merely boys being boys and not actually sexual assault. Women now claim that Trump did more than just talk about it, but put words into actions.

Blustering and Bullying

Trump libel lawyer

Almost immediately, Donald Trump's attorney demanded both a retraction and an apology from the New York Times. The letter from Lawyer Marc E. Kasowitz called the article "reckless, defamatory and constitutes libel."
"It is apparent from, among other things, the timing of your article, that it is nothing more than a politically motivated effort to defeat Mr. Trump's candidacy."

Outside of Trump's adamant denials, there's nothing in the way of counter proof to show that the allegations are untrue. Not even any direct repudiation from the nominee. The allegations are untrue, says the attorney, simply because the individuals did not come forward until now. The statements by the two women are labeled "false and defamatory" and the claims are merely part of a "smear."

The letter concludes with a suitable amount of legal bluster. 
"We hereby demand that you immediately cease any further publication of this article, remove it from your website and issue a full and immediate retraction and apology. Failure to do so will leave my client with no option but to purse all available actions and remedies."

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

How RNC Chairman Reince Priebus Pushed the Republican Party over the Precipice

by Nomad

When this 2016 election fiasco is dissected in the coming years, there will be a hunt to find the person who was most responsible for Donald Trump's elevation to leader of the Republican party. How could this actually have happened? One name that is bound to come up- - is the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus.
And rightfully so.

When the Elephant Got an Itch

When the historians write about the election of 2016, they will probably not be kind to some of the key figures in the GOP. Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus for example. From the moment Trump first declared his candidacy- when misgivings were initially expressed- Priebus reassured the doomsayers that Trump was a good thing. Really! 

After ignoring his own advice about the Republican brand, Priebus has continually issued a series of weak and contradictory messages to Republican members. Last Friday's barrel-bomb of Trump's"hot mic" tapes exposed the foolishness of  ignoring the elephant in the room. At some point, the elephant will get an itch and there goes your china cabinet, there goes the plasma TV, there goes the walls. 
Essentially, that's what happened when Trump's  remarks (which amount to advocating sexual assault) became public knowledge. 

It was undeniable Trump's remarks sounded like the boasts of a sexual predator. Trump predictably issued an apology so stiff and insincere, it resembled a North Korean hostage "confession" video. 
Many Republican in Congress refused to accept Trump's excuses and phony apologies. They were outraged, they said.
Outraged but supportive.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Who Really Murdered Manufacturing Jobs in America and Why That's Important in November

by Nomad

American workers have every reason to be angry. For a crafty politician, it's the kind of emotion that wins elections. However, the question is whether they have fully understood who was responsible for their plight.

The Angry Unemployed American Male

The last half century of American history has been marked by one undeniable economic trend: the death of the American worker. Between 1965 and 2015, experts say that employment rates for the American male spiraled relentlessly downward. 
America is now home to a vast army of jobless men no longer even looking for work—more than 7million between the ages of 25 and 54, the traditional prime of working life...The collapse of male work is due almost entirely to a flight out of the labor force—and that flight has on the whole been voluntary. The fact that only 1 in 7 prime-age men are not in the labor force points to a lack of jobs as the reason they are not working.
The Atlantic Monthly provides a little more information:
Poor men without a college degree are disappearing from the labor force. The share of prime-age men (ages 25-54) who are neither working nor looking for work has doubled since the 1970s.
This is, not too coincidentally, the core support of Republican nominee Donald Trump's campaign.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Distrust and Discord: How Putin and Trump Have Teamed Up to Undermine the Political System

Attempts to Tamper?

Recently, U.S. officials announced they have “high confidence” that Russia is behind what they describe as a major influence operation in this year's election. They could not go into specifics and admitted that their evidence probably would not yet stand up in any court. 

The breaches include hacking into the email servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Presumably, this was in search of damaging information which might be used to cripple the Clinton campaign.
But there were other concerns too.

In mid-August, the FBI alerted all 50 states to dangers that their election systems might be vulnerable to attack. Authorities have also delivered evidence of a “significant” number of new intrusions into their systems. Experts at the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security “are still trying to understand" who is behind it and what's actually going on.

Admittedly, neither the United States or Russia are innocent when it comes to meddling in the elections of other nations. In the past, the CIA made a more or less regular practice of it in countries. The very first CIA covert action was a manipulation the 1948 Italian elections
More recently Russia has reportedly interfered in the elections of major U.S. allies that have imposed sanctions on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.
Attempting to manipulate the elections in the US is- as far as we know- a first.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Buckwheat Zydeco - Make a Change

by Nomad

Musician Stanley Dural Jr., better known by his stage name Buckwheat Zydeco died of lung cancer on September 24 at the age of 68. 
An American accordionist, Dural played music from the Louisiana bayou for 30-plus years. The term Zydeco refers to a musical genre born in southwest Louisiana, blending blues,rhythm and blues, and music indigenous to the Louisiana Creoles and the Native people of Louisiana.

His Grammy- and Emmy-winning band collaborated with Willie Nelson, U2 and others.
Here's "Make a Change" from 1989.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

NATO: Trump's America-First Mercenaries vs. Eisenhower's "Strength Through Unity"

by Nomad

Trump NATO

Trump's past comments on NATO suggest that he would like to radically restructure the organization into something like a private security business. His critics say this is the worst time for such a dangerous power-play. On the other hand, nothing could make Russian president happier.

Back in 2013, Donald J.Trump -the tireless tweeter- appropriated Eisenhower's quote for his own obscure purposes.

It was, of course, before his announcement to run for president. Back before, he began to win primary after primary and, with the soul of Republican Party on the auction block, before the nomination of his party.

The Trump of 2013 wasn't much different than the Trump we see today. This tweet can, therefore, be written off as yet another pathetic example of Trump's absolute lack of circumspection.

After all, what person could better represent the arrogance of privilege than the billionaire business who can tell an audience (with a straight face) that a paternal loan of a million dollars was a "small loan?"
Is there a better man to represent the privilege of white male culture than Trump? And has there ever been a presidential candidate who so openly and so blithely put his business interests above all other principles?

As we reach the end of what has been a bizarre election, (to say the least) it's hard to point to any principles that Trump values. He has defiantly trashed any pretense that he is a principled type the moment he stepped onto the national stage.

The Power to Discern Right From Wrong

Quoting a respected Republican president like Eisenhower is actually a dangerous thing for Trump to do. It naturally invites comparison.