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 40: What is the Ministry of Truth?

Facebook’s announcement of an experimental partnership between third party fact checkers: Snopes, PolitiFact, the AP, ABC news, and factcheck.org. Where people request certain links to be factchecked and if they are and found to be false or misleading a warning without reasons behind the warning will pop up before the article opens. Many people on the left and right are wary of this development. For many conservatives, a third of the fact checkers (AP and ABC news excluded) have a liberal bias. For many on the left, this is an expansion of corporate control of media trying to take away their “truth”.

 

Facebook has the legal right to control its platform that it lets us use. I do think that it can be worrisome to think that there will be blind faith in the warning. I think that this is an opportunity for us all to challenge our dogmas. We all could use a hand in expanding our worldviews and many times that hand needs to come from the opposition. Not saying we are all wrong all the time, but we need to be fluid in our responses. Adapt to the situation at hand not the one in the mind. I think that this experiment is a good step forward and should be expanded to include more viewpoints. We need some radical changes but those changes aren’t possible without agreement and I am speaking about Climate Change. It truly is a bipartisan problem that will alter every human’s life. In the age of Elon Musk, no one can question the possibilities in renewable energy that could occur. I believe we need to support if not with funds than beneficial regulations that aid his innovations while improving the quality of life for his labor. We need to use Capitalism to challenge ourselves for real innovation rather than use our money for novelty add ons. We need the hoarded wealth to be reinvested into the American Dream. None of which is possible without dialogue. If fact checking and discussions not in comments but in researched detail can engage us with each other than it is worth trying. Facebook as a form of communication and a company must respect their power. I think this is a step towards a better social media environment in the age of bullshit heralded by Trump and Putin.
-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.

“Jack.”

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 9: Let the Kleptocracy Begin, A Crown for a Thief, Nepotism Becomes Law

What is it that separates a legitimate government from an illegitimate one? There are a lot of answers to that question, but right at the top is corruption. Personal profit from “public service” makes you the definition of a warlord.

In every government there are varying degrees of corruption. The “tipping point” as it were, is the personal profit of those at the very top. It becomes impossible to cleanse the corruption without destroying the institutions that have been co-opted into a money-making apparatus. In the most destitute of countries, this is a constant theme. The exploitation of the people for individual gain in the name of “government”.

As I write this, this pattern has unerringly already begun in the president-elect’s inner circle. Trump’s children, as members of his “transition team”, have security clearances even though they have never been vetted, like all members of the state and defense department have. They also run all of his business interests, which begs the question “won’t it be really tempting to use the full weight of classified U.S. Intelligence when making business decisions?”

While these might be questions only cold hearted cynics could dream up, the question we should really be asking is “was your cultural revolution against political correctness worth turning our country into a kleptocracy?”

With his son-in-law currently seeking a position in the white house, these are questions for the cynic no longer. Nepotism is not the same as corruption in business. It undermines the institutions we depend on, and only constant vigilance for one thousand, four hundred and sixty-one days will keep our trust in those institutions alive.

-Jack Delaney

Day 8: The Eye of a Neon Hurricane, The Nation of Patty Hearst, Democratization of Fear

When reading the writings of Ted Kaczynski, the UNABomber, currently serving eight life sentences in a supermax prison in Colorado, he comes off as surprisingly sane. This is troubling, because one has to ask the question why a sane person would spend 17 years mailing bombs all around the country, claiming three lives and wounding 23.

Through my close reading of his work and original published manifesto, I’ve come to the conclusion that he is a fanatic. It is not that he is divorced from reality in a medical way, but in an ideological one. The crux of his ideology is that the industrial revolution was a disaster for mankind: technology is destroying the natural world, and robs humanity of its autonomy. To cope with the crippling personal effect of technology we increasingly turn to it as our salvation, the cycle continues, et cetera, et cetera.

Written in 1995, the manifesto does strike a certain chord in me. As someone who has lived in cities for the past decade, I have felt the effects of urbanization and a complete alienation with the natural.

What interests me, however, is the increasing sense of an urbanization of the mind. With the leaps forward in technology, we are increasingly surrounded by ever more hysterical media apparatus, that exists not to push an ideology as conspiracy theorists would have us believe, but for our attention.

We’ve become the nation of Patty Hearst, all trapped in the closet with the megaphone blaring the ragged mantra over and over: “Keep watching.” The neon hurricane is ever present, and the eye is fixed on us. It’s no wonder everyone is trapped in their own echo chambers politically, no wonder there is so much fear and loathing in a country where there is no great war or depression.

Most damaging is the painful truth that the urbanization of the mind has led to a loss of identity en masse. Some retreat to the old answers of tribalism (both the right and the left). We do not know who we are anymore: culture, our connection to the land- all of it has been painfully stripped away by our modern life, a life that only exists because of technology. Entertainment is the only “culture” left, given more importance than ever before because of the crucial release it provides. Because it is all we are left with, it alone reverberates with the anxieties we share- a democratization of fear. All of our science fiction asks the question “what does it mean to be human”. The very question we desperately seek an answer to.

-Jack Delaney