Day 174: The Government is not a Business

Trump and his family are self described business folks. While their legacy in business is debatable, that they come from the corporate world not political becomes more obvious everyday. We don’t know yet if Trump or his campaign colluded with Russia last year but the Trump family isn’t making it easy for innocence to be considered. 
This week Donald Trump Jr. became the center of the Russian storm. After days of having his ever changing story disproven by leaks, he released the emails in question. They did not vindicate him. When asked if he would like information on Clinton gathered by Russia to aid his father, he says he would love it. He brought Kushner and Manafort to the meeting, the Russian lawyer ended up not having anything on Clinton. Leaving us in a situation where we know that the Trump campaign would have colluded but not if they did. 
Ignore the discussion of impeachment for a moment. What other implications are there? One is a revelation behind the curtain. Political operators have long been portrayed as ruthless anything goes types in movies but the real political world always had norms and bounds. I’m not saying they are knights of the round table. Yet even the Gore campaign called the FBI when someone leaked Bush’s campaign bible to them. This event shows the business world core of the Trump universe one where damning emails end in a fine and mea culpas but in politics things end differently just ask Abramoff.
The anti-left media keeps yelling Ukraine like its Benghazi (as a waste of time). A low level former staffer is not the same as a high campaign advisor and candidate’s child. Manafort did in fact lobby for pro Russia candidates in Ukraine and was unable to hide it. Whether the decision to remove support for Ukraine in its war against Russian invasion from the GOP platform came from Manafort is unknown. In the end, evidence from a foreign public investigation is not close to the same as a foreign nation stealing documents from a political opponent to aid a candidate. As Watergate taught us having your own countrymen steal documents is damning without foreign involvement. 
The emails aren’t a smoking gun for criminal proceedings but they without a doubt bolster Mueller’s investigation. One can only wonder what subpeonas will uncover.
-E.C. Fiori

Day 151: Found Them

Day 33: What to do About a Problem like Putin

Putin made a monkey of us all. He shifted the election into his favor and now NATO which has guarded his advances since the days when he served in the KGB. In the New York Times, the other day there was an argument that the new fear of America was good. The only problem is the wrong people fear us. The dictators of the world has cheered this result because they know Trump maybe be the only leader who cares less about the truth than them. It is the people who formerly and hopefully still will stand with us in war that are afraid. They are afraid that the United States will not stand up to the barbarians at the gates and not just the Jihad, but Russia and the other illiberal rulers. A free tomorrow is endangered. This election is more damaging than Watergate in that a foreign will decided over our own. The victory was slim and this attacks orchestrated by Putin could have decided the in some cases 10,000 vote difference. I believe now more than ever we need the electoral college to be more than automatons. There is an unqualified possibly impeachable candidate or the choice to send it to the chosen representatives to chose. I don’t expect Clinton to win in that scenario, but at least a republican not chosen by an enemy. We cannot fall to a despot without an active decision by the electors to do so.

-E. C. Fiori

Day 26: There is no House

Everyone knows the house always wins. The American republic may have an elite, but as this election show, they don’t own the system. Trump showed that for both media output, both left and right publishers endorsed Clinton. They might pay eighteen bucks to see a celebrity, but they won’t let that celebrity decide their fate. There is no house in America, just we the people.

-E.C. Fiori

Day 11: Brewing War on the Western Front, Brother Against Brother, Slaughter in the Sierra Nevadas

The easiest houses to break into are the ones you’ve been in before. Nothing is more disorienting than trying to be silent in a dark house with no knowledge of the layout. Professional thieves are masters of two skills: observation and a keen sense of time. Maximize profit as the clock counts down to a shotgun blast through the thorax.

The whole evening had started with me in the Silverlake Lounge, a normal Thursday. I was trying to read the New York Times while a punk band screamed at an audience of five, two of which were employees behind the bar. “RAGE IS A CURE” was tattooed in bright red on the leader singer’s forearm, visible even as she pounded out Pachelbel’s canon on a marimba. Not bad, though it’s tough to make it as a band when your tattoo is the best thing going for you.

What I read next threw me bodily out of my seat, and I let loose a yelp so loud even the drummer stopped for moment. Could it be true? In The Times no less?? I sprinted out the service exit and jumped into The Black Shark, flooring the gas so hard that a spray of gravel bombarded the side of the building on my way out.

E.C. Fiori. Only he could explain this- make sense of it all. Fiori is one of those people who has a truly unique perspective, a real god damn writer, if only society would get out of the way and let him.

I sped east in the crown vic, the V8 a pulsing black scar under the hood, frantically slaloming between lanes, towards miracle mile. Pulling up in front of his english tavern of an apartment building, I wrestled with the “Bull-Buster” cattle prod I keep under the driver’s seat. It’s always best to start heavy- you can always be sane later.

Slipping a coat hanger through the gap in the two front windows, it was only a few moments before I was standing beside his bed, my cattle prod jammed under his chin. “Explain this.”

His eyes opened, blinked once, and took stock of the man standing above him waving a crumpled copy of the New York Times “Opinion” page in his face.


He seemed calm, perhaps because this was the fifth time I’d done this since Trump was elected, or perhaps because he had seen the signs I had. Or, as it turned out,  it could be because he was pointing a massive revolver at the side of my head. I could read “Taurus: Judge” stamped on the barrel. Where did he get it? How did he know I would come? Was the bastard sleeping with the pistol to end all pistols in his right hand every night now? Had our country come to this?

He offered to make me coffee, and I agreed. If I shocked him with the cattle prod his muscles would seize like galvanized bridge cables, pulling the trigger and putting an entire shotgun shell through my head. Never pays to continue negotiations at a disadvantage, and he always made good coffee.

In the kitchen he served me a cold brew, all while keeping the Judge aimed at me, but he knew I wasn’t going to try anything. The op-ed sat between us, and I must have looked feeble and defeated in the warm light of his kitchen.

“Is it true? How could The Times print this?”

“I know. I’ve heard it’s been in the works for years. Anger at being wealthy and not ruling Washington.”

“Californian secession though? Civil war? Before the new administration is even sworn in?!?”

“Many will bleed under the standard of the bear.”

“Don’t these fools realize what secession would mean? It would mean the Siege of San Francisco! It would mean the Massacre of Reno, and the Route in Big Sur! The rest of the country would invade and water wouldn’t be the only thing we’d be missing. We’d have POW camps, years of litigation for war crimes and a permanent DMZ the size of-”

“Tactically speaking, it wouldn’t be a fast loss. Mexico might come in on the side of California, and China could back us too, not to mention the headquarters of Lockheed…”

“God damn it Fiori- not all of us have your tactical expertise and experience in the field! Explain it to the common man! Imagine I’m just a man off the street who broke into your home and asked you about the op-ed in the Times that explored the possibility of a Californian uprising.”

E.C. stroked his beard, then looked at me with tired eyes. Normally I would think it was the hour, but his grip tightened around the revolver, and when he spoke it was with steel in his voice.

“Jack, what you have to realize is that California is a great center of wealth. They have agriculture, entertainment, and technology. They get less from the government then they pay in, and it makes people stupid. It has for all of history. Why pay if we don’t get our way in D.C.?”

“Why would-”

“We’ll both have to be unionists, when the time comes.”

I clenched the cattle prod with white knuckles in fury, tears coming to my eyes unbidden. “Why would our fellow statesman make us fight on the side of Trump? Why would they force that confrontation, smashing a liberal bastion that couldn’t be more prosperous through open rebellion? The federal government won’t act, but our state laws keep us fat and happy! Do they want the federal government to make every decision for them at the end of a AC-130 circling above? HOW COULD IT COME TO THIS?”

I sat at his table and cried low gulping sobs: for our future and present- surrounded on all sides by a country I no longer recognize, and ready to betray our foolish state to keep it that way.

-Jack Delaney

Day 11: What Ever Happened to the Paperboy?

Besides accusations of racism, the left blames their loss on fake news, not that they hadn’t shared misleadingly articles previously. Buzzfeed has found some interesting numbers on the subject and in an earlier study. Being hyperpartisan and provocative is the key to political attention and attention is the source of internet success. On the internet you love or hate rapidly as you jostle for attention from the void to steal from Jack Delaney, now that we see the void is us, we recoil.

Yet the rise of fake news cannot be divorced from the decisions of the journalism industry. Beginning with the invention of the twenty four hour news cycle by networks like CNN. The need for content and the growing gap between knowledge and gossip shrunk. Returning us to an era of yellow journalism that men like Hearst would have loved. Spicy phrases and buzzwords fill up our feeds and polarize us. In return, we crave more of the same confirmation. I saw it during the DNC when NPR posted a story to about Bernie delegates walking out and a Friend below shared a post from a page that was titled Media Blackout. Delegates Storming out of the convention. The sharer works in IT for the record showing that the web makes jesters of us all.

In the wake of Trump and his campaign uses reliance on “well that’s what the internet tells me”. Customers have started to question the tech giants. Many wondering why they produce feeds that respond to our wishes. Liberals banished the red and Conservatives banished the blue through their own clicks building their ideological walls. The tech overlords first reaction was to remind the user, they are an adult and they didn’t design the platform to be their parent before accepting they were our new virtual parents as clamor grew. Now fake news won’t pay and speech will be policed. Yet major news publications keep their clickbait promotional content at the bottom of their articles. So you can still see the shocking photos of Trump and Ivanka after you read the current death count in Aleppo. Why is Facebook or Google responsible at all? We don’t complain to JB paper regarding misleading newsletter printed on their stock.

Facebook began life as a tool to get you laid. Being more minimal/ efficient than Myspace in that goal. By the time moms and dads used it to talk to middle school friends, it morphed into a place to stalk people who no longer wanted to fuck you, who they were currently fucking , and a place to play farmville or ignore the invites. As smartphones became more popular better games like Angry Birds killed off the timewasters of FB (never the stalking though). A billion people had an account, they found they got more likes posting a link to The Huffington Post rather than their usual The Fray lyrics. During this period another development occurred the rise of the Facebook page. Previously you listed your interested in a block of text, no one looked at. Nonhumans functioned like a warpgate to take you away from the network. Suddenly the bands you liked in late high school/ freshmen year of college posted next to your friends as they liked more pages for you. The feed became unknown, but familiar. A perspective shared between Avatar and fleshbag. You discovered on the newsfeed along with your daily gossip. As the years went by, your alarm clock and newspaper became the same as your texting box. Becoming a facade of community and news from all your favorite sources, a streamlined routine on your nightstand connected to two billion other customers.

Along with the aunt minion memes came political humor memes, the more extreme conformation to your allegiance increased your likes (now doubleplus good with a “complete” range of pre generated reactions). The one question we haven’t asked is where is our responsibility in all of this. What is social networking during our society? Can we change how it is used once again?

The internet is a powerful tool and one that will not disappear overnight. Maybe it is time to move from seeking attention to enhancing our civic duties and our commitment to each other as neighbors redressing our collective wrongs against each other.

-E.C. Fiori