Archive for category Everything
Maybe “hate” is too strong a word here. Maybe “strongly dislike” would be more appropriate. Or “highly annoyed by it” Whatever it is, I am likely one of the few who think it is highly overrated and just plain dumb.
For the record, I am a sci-fi fan through and through. There is nothing I love more than science fiction but Star Wars never truly struck me as one to begin with. In fact, if you think about it, it is really not sci-fi, more like a fairy tale set in space with some flashy, glitzy technology that is never explored beyond its optics. I mean sure, they use technology, but the stories do not revolve around the effects that these technologies have on these ,what I am thinking are, humans (they never really say – are they humans? ). Therefore, for all intent and purposes, light sabers and hyperdives may as well be Excalibur and chariots.
See, science fiction is a “what if” story or scenario whereby the effects of a technology or various technologies that currently do not exist are explored. Like, “what would the world look like if we could travel at the speed of light?” or “if we could teleport from one location to an other within seconds” or “replicate matter from energy in fancy little ‘replicators’ “. Thus, it is “fiction” that revolves around “science.”
But none of that is present in Star Wars. The light saber is just this fancy looking laser sword that looks really cool and has a special appeal when you are a 9 year old. But we do not know more about it really or how it affects the people and societies in it. Same thing with their hyperdrives. We dont know what it is, how it affects them, how it works, how it has affected the various worlds in their system. It is just a means to an end. In this case, traveling through space and Chewy just beating up on it every now and then when it needs repairing.
In fact, the only aspect of the story which drives the tale as a whole is the Force, which is just this magical, supernatural element that defines their universe, not a technological one (even with the unbelievably hackneyed addition of “midichlorians” to the mix). You’re born with it or you aren’t and unlike a technology, you can’t pick it up as you go or refine it or improve or it or learn it. And whether you have it or not is not based on having had the smarts to build it or know-how on how to acquire it, but just a result of sheer dumb luck.
How exciting is that?
I find Sci-Fi more engaging than Fantasy because it is more relateable. I’ll very likely never ride a dragon, nor rescue a princess or be a chosen one. But I use technology all the time, and I’ve personally witnessed “what if” scenarios with respect to changing technologies and their effects on humanity.
Star Wars also does not have any real people in it, more like archetypes. It had one real person in it. Han Solo. Everyone else was a guru, a princess, a chosen one, a villainy villain, or a wooly mammoth. Most of its “characters” do not have a story arc or motivations which grew and shifted over time, or even realistic interests and a satisfying growth. They are just not real, well-rounded characters or persons. Instead they are these one-note clichees that got destinies. They are archetypes. They aren’t real people with flaws, hopes, dreams, setbacks, and strengths. I’ve never been a chosen one, or a mysitcal monk, or a giant furry mercenary. It just does not hold any interest for me.
Star Wars is devoid of intellect. It is like a steady diet of dessert but eventually you’ll long for some meat and potatoes. For something with more substance. It is for kids and adolescent boys, really. It is like walking into a candy shop – all nauseatingly saccharine and just frosting and nutritionally deficient crap. It isn’t even really nerdy because at least that implies something of intellectual value worthy of dissecting. Fantasy is not nerdy, that would be Star Trek, which I am a huge fan of.
As a kid I loved Star Wars (the operative word here being kid) because it satisfied my limited intellect at that age. But as an adult, the same old tired and recycled “good vs evil” and “magical force” story elements do not hold any interest for me and just strike me as dumb.
By Dan Rather
“Cruel and unusual,” the phrase rings in my head as I read the press reports of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.
But to even talk about it as a budget is to miss the point. It is not a budget. It is a philosophy, and one that may come as a surprise to many of the people who voted for Mr. Trump. They will hurt in real ways. Meanwhile it confirms the worst existential fears of those who see his presidency as a threat to the very being of the United States they know and love.
This is a man who made a lot of promises on the campaign about helping those struggling in society, about leading the United States to greatness in such things as fighting disease. If anyone had any doubt about the hollowness of his words, this philosophy is all the evidence one would need.
This is a philosophy that doesn’t believe in helping the poor, rural or urban, or the power of diplomacy or the importance of science. It is a philosophy that doesn’t want to protect the environment. It doesn’t believe in the arts. This is about putting a noose around much of the United States federal government and hanging it until it shakes with life no more. In the name of reining in waste, it rains pain and suffering amongst the Americans who already are the most vulnerable. It must be remarked that many of these programs are really small budget items in the greater scheme of things, rounding errors in the federal budget. The purpose is to send a message, not to save money.
Rather than investing in what truly will make America great, this philosophy pounds its chest with false bravado. People will die because of this budget. People will suffer. Diseases will spread, and cures will not be found (really? slash science research?) Our nation will be darker and more dangerous. You know it’s a philosophy because the budget has few details really in it. And here is where I see its saving grace.
This philosophy is not the United States I think a majority of Americans would recognize. I believe that we are not so cruel, so shortsighted, so dark. It’s easy to rail against the federal government on the campaign stump, but cutting programs that people rely on, that is the kind of thing that can break through the fake news into reality very soon. We have already seen the mess that has become of the health care efforts.
This philosophy is no longer theoretical and it will be a rallying cry for a reverse philosophy. Those who champion an empathetic America, an America prepared for the challenges of the modern world, will have plenty of evidence to point to. Mr. Trump has already put many Republicans in Congress on a defensive footing, on Russia and on healthcare. Wait until the constituents start calling about how they won’t be able to heat their homes in the winter or the agricultural programs that were slashed.
“The administration’s budget isn’t going to be the budget,” Senator Marco Rubio told the Washington Post. “We do the budget here. The administration makes recommendations, but Congress does budgets.” You can expect to hear a lot more of that kind of rhetoric.
Mr. Trump’s philosophy is an opening salvo in a battle for the soul of America that is only beginning. This will be a battle fought trench by trench. But I think it is winnable and America will reconfirm a governing philosophy that is hopeful, compassionate, and wise about the role of government in making our world a safer, fairer, and more just place to live.”
Everytime Fascist-In-Chief Trump refers to refugees or immigrants for that matter, he calls them bad, evil people who must be stopped.
Every single tweet! Every single speech.
All refugees are bad people and terrorists.
In reality, of course, these are families escaping war and violence (most of it which we created) and who have lost everything. These are the most vulnerable human beings that he is going after.
It is absolutely appalling, but also sadly and effective and time-honored practice by all tyrants.
Notice how there is a remarkable similarity between the treatment of Muslims today and the treatment of Jews in Germany in the 30s It is obviously the case that the point of the Muslim ban is to instruct Americans that Muslims are an enemy: a small, well-assimilated minority that we are supposed to see not as our neighbors or as fellow citizens but as elements of an international threat that needs to be contained and quashed in order to keep Americans safe. More than that, Trump’s policy is a provocation and distraction. It is meant to provoke and instigate fear and hate while at the same time distracting us from the real criminals we all need to be afraid of, namely him an his administration.
But the Third Reich is only one example. History, especially our own, is rife with this kind of dog whistle/provoke and distract politics. And it always plays out the same.
Remember in 1971, when Richard Nixon pronounced drugs to be “public enemy number one”? That was an odd choice, to put it mildly, in a nation wrecked by poverty, racial tension, injustice, civil strife, ecological disaster, corporate domination, a hated Vietnam War and much more.
Similarity, it seems rather odd – at least to a decent person astutely aware of the realities of our times – that Fuehrer Trump and Republicans are choosing to focus on illegal immigration when there are hundreds of other things that should take precedence given our state of affairs. After all, immigrants didn’t cause the problems of this nation, but they are the easiest targets to malign and bully and vilify, just as all poor people who have nothing are.
Nixon’s war on drugs was never about drugs but about the Drug War’s primary targets: Blacks and young voters. Once the Vietnam war was over, the “war on drugs” focused on destroying the lives of people of color and poor whites and those very people were scapegoated for ills they never even caused in the first place while those very criminals that caused those ills were running the show, writing policy and in the process scapegoating the victims, the targets of those sinister policies.
In an article in Harper’s Magazine, author Dan Baum reveals that in reviewing notes of his conversation with John Ehrlichman, who had served as Nixon’s domestic policy advisory, Baum came across a bombshell admission from Nixon’s senior adviser.
Ehrlichman conceded that, in his own words:
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. […] We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
It is eerily similar to what is happening now. The anti Muslim/refugee propaganda, much like the war on drugs, is designed as a tool to win votes. It has never been, and never will be, about the safety of Americans and all that other jingoistic bullshit our fascist administration will have you believe, just as the war on drugs was never about drugs and keeping Americans safe, but about the exploitation of racial resentment and fear for political gain and power.
As such, it has succeeded more than any other political scheme of the last half of the twentieth century and this is the exact same route Trump is taking this nation on once again.
I want to point out that anti-immigrant sentiments and deportations have been huge under Obama. ICE itself keeps public data on who it removed from the country during the Obama years. Even as it got better at focusing on convicted criminals, a very substantial number were noncriminals. In Fiscal Year 2015, 139,368 convicted criminals were removed by ICE; the same year, 96,045 noncriminals were removed.
That’s just the ICE deportations, which are focused on the interior of the country. Elliot Young, a history professor at Lewis & Clark College who studies immigration, tallied the numbers using government data that includes deportations by the Border Patrol and other agencies that do removals closer to the border. He concluded that 56 percent of immigrants who were removed from the country between 2009 and 2015 were noncriminals.
“Obama was more believable than Trump and it wasn’t true when he said it,” Young said of both presidents’ supposed focus on criminals. Even if the government is truly trying to target criminals, “the reality on the ground is that they are picking up lots of people who either don’t have any criminal convictions or they have low level misdemeanors or have crossed the border more than once and have been deported which then becomes a criminal offense.”
And the Trump administration has already expanded its focus beyond criminals. In the executive order he signed on January 25, Trump laid out “enforcement priorities” for removals by the Department of Homeland Security that include immigrants who have “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense” or who have “abused any program related to receipt of public benefits.” These immigrants have the exact same priority as those who have been charged for criminal offenses.
The ACLU’s Joanne Lin explained that the executive order basically makes all undocumented immigrants a “priority” for removal. “So, like, jaywalking, have you ever driven without your wallet because you left your wallet at home? That begs the question whether any of us could actually meet that standard, in all candor,” she said.
“Because it doesn’t say that you’ve been arrested, you’ve been charged, you’ve been booked, it just says you ‘committed,’” she said. “It’s very wide berth. It’s written that way because under this administration they want every undocumented immigrant to be a potential priority.”
In fact, under Obama’s watch a record number of people have been deported out of the country. As of 2015, more than 2.5 million undocumented people had been deported by immigration authorities since President Obama took office in 2009, a total which is record-setting. During the two terms of his predecessor, President George W. Bush, just over 2 million people were deported.
Stating that they are only doing it to criminals is nothing but a manipulative tool designed to get the masses behind this callous and inhumane undertaking, becasue when you say you are doing it to criminals, images of dark and brown men with knives raping and murdering and stealing from the precious white man are conjured up in peoples’ minds and they begin to wonder if maybe there isn’t some value to ridding the country of these dark elements. After all, who wants rapists and sinister criminals in their midst.
But nothing could be further from the truth and the targets of deportation and anti immigrant policy are not the evil people our administration will have you believe.
The only criminals in this country harming Americans aand posing a threat to their health and safety as well as security are Fuehrer Trump and his white supremacist, fascist administration of billionaires and bigots. And dog whistling about minorities, refugees and the poor and scapegoating them is a time honored tradition among authoritarians and charlatans such as him and his administration.
See, this is what happens when you insult the military industrial complex and their tools and means to an end: soldiers and veterans and the very war machine that keeps getting romanticized by the war mongers running this country.
More than three-quarters of voters have heard about Donald Trump’s spat with Khizr and Ghazala Khan, the Muslim Americans whose son died serving as an Army captain in the 2003 Iraq war that Hillary Clinton voted for.
And that’s not good news for Trump.
According to a new Fox News poll, 77 percent of voters knew of the harsh words exchanged between Trump and the Khans in the wake of Khizr Khan’s fiery anti-Trump speech at the Democratic National Convention. Nearly 7 in 10 of those who have heard about the controversy think Trump stepped over the line.
“I’m undecided now. I was leaning for him, but the last few days, what he’s been saying about that soldier and his parents, he’s made several comments I don’t like,” said Larry Fountain, a 67-year-old Navy veteran and retired pipe fitter from Starks, Louisiana, who listened to both Trump and Clinton speak at the VFW’s national convention in North Carolina last week. “I just don’t know.”
Trump said that Khan “viciously attacked” him in the DNC speech, and suggested Ghazala Khan, his wife, hadn’t spoken because she wasn’t allowed (–> LOL at that. I’m afraid that Trump is, sadly, right on this one. When a friend and I were discussing Khan’s speech at the DNC and why Mr. Khan would sell his son’s memory out to a candidate who voted for the very war that got him killed, his wife and her silence came into play. We agreed that the poor woman was probably just dragged there by her husband and that even if she had been against supporting a candidate whose vote is responsible for the senseless war that got their son killed, she was likely not allowed to say anything).
The Khans, and with that I mean Mr. Khan, continue to speak out, and Trump has continued to criticize them in response in the days since Thursday’s speech.
Not that I have any use for this sleazebag, charlatan, white supremacist piece of garbage Donald Trump, but I do think that he was right when he pointed out the hypocrisy here about Clinton being the one who voted for the Iraq war that got their son killed.
But in this climate and in this country, people do not want to know or face the truth when it comes to the military. They all want to romanticize war and military duty as this wonderfully amazing and heroic thing and revere soldiers as heroes who are fighting honorable, moral wars to save our country from evil.
No one wants to hear the inconvenient truth about the military industrial complex and the nature of war in general. No one wants to hear about the reasons why the War Department’s budget is so bloated and why and how there are strong monetary incentives for keeping us in a perpetual state of war. No one wants to talk about the human cost of war, in addition to the economic one. No one wants to talk about the the role defense contractors who pay off law makers and profit from war play in this or even acknowledge the fact that the last legitimate war the US fought was World War 2.
Oh no. That would be unpatriotic and a betrayal to our soldiers. Instead, everyone wants to pretend veterans are heroes, instead of victims used by those in power to fight for dubious causes, such as for the benefit of the powerful and wealthy. In this particular case, no one wants to acknowledge that Mr. Khan’s support for Hillary Clinton was hypocritical and that his son, Captain Khan, died in a senseless, fraudulent war perpetuated by corrupt politicians, including Clinton, and the military industrial complex.
Captain Khan’s parents, in addition to glorifying and romanticizing war as some heroic thing, sold out his memory to a politician who voted for the very fraudulent war that got their son killed; a politician who will continue military action and meddling in the Middle East to cause even more senseless deaths and harm to the very Muslim community Clinton pretends to care about when hiring a token Muslim, such as Mr Khan, to do her bidding.
These are the conversations leaders and the media do not want to have when they manufacture the consent of the public through propaganda and lies about the nature of war fare, the War Department and our foreign policy objectives. It is all hunky dory and anyone who says otherwise just hates veterans and America.
At the Democratic National Convention last week Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party pulled at the stops in order to gain traction and win points with nearly all segments of American society, which is a diverse bunch. One way of doing so was to bring in the father of a Muslim American “war hero” who brought the Democratic National Convention to its feet on Thursday night with his impassioned rebuke of Donald Trump and his anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Pakistan-born Khan, 65, appeared on stage at Wells Fargo Arena, the site of the Democratic convention, with his wife, Ghazala, at his side. He spoke of the heroism of his son, Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2004 by an advancing vehicle loaded with hundreds of pounds of explosives. The 27-year-old soldier, who was born in the UAE, ordered his unit to halt while he walked toward the vehicle, saving the lives of his fellow soldiers from the ensuing explosion.
While I stand in full solidarity with Mr. Khan and feel deeply saddened by the loss of his son at the hands of our war mongering politicians, including Hillary Clinton whom he, ironically, supports, I ask myself: what about the parents and loved ones of all those Muslims who died at the hands of President Obama’s as well as Hillary Clinton’s actions and policies in the Middle East?
Am I supposed to be impressed and touched that these self proclaimed men and women of honor bring in a token Muslim to their convention to show their solidarity with Muslim-Americans while at the same time, and behind closed doors and as we speak, they have ordered another round of drone attacks to those very parts?
I understand that this was Clinton’s way to put a human face onto the people who are the target of Trump’s vitriol and hateful rhetoric, but why does no one talk about all the Muslims Clinton and Obama got killed with their actions, including drone strikes?
Their lives matter, too. They loved their children, too. Who is listening to their pain? Who is lowering the flags for them? Who is inviting them to talk and giving them a chance to be heard?
I am bothered by how gullible and easily fooled people are. How superficially they look at issues, how a bit of fanfare, smiles and hugs and a few words of select wisdom are enough to win them over and embrace a candidate who has not only voted for the very fraudulent Iraq war Mr. Khan’s son died in (for nothing, if I may add) but who beats the drums to war as we speak and has no intention to stop US meddling and killing in the Middle East.
Clinton believes that this (token) Muslim she paid off to support her campaign was her being the epitome of decency and inclusion, when in reality what she is doing is just using Muslims becasue it is politically expedient.
The truth is, each year thousands of Muslims, you know, the very brethren in faith of Mr. Khan, die at the hands of our troops whose missions have been signed off and approved by the likes of President Obama and, later to be, Hillary Clinton. Each year dozens, if not hundreds, of families are torn apart, killed, separated and rendered destitute due to the military actions our leaders sign off on. The current refugee crisis in Europe did not just take place in a vacuum or was brought on by itself. We had a lot to do with it.
To see no one talk about or mention that and instead celebrate Hillary Clinton as if she wasn’t a war monger who has voted for every military action in the Middle East she could vote on and who has called Palestinians in Gaza, terrorists, is disturbing and appalling.
Furthermore, by inviting these Muslim parents and using their tragedy for political gain (which, in and of itself is a pretty deplorable) both Clinton and Obama just reinforce the binary of choice forced on Muslims: pacifism or violence. Most may not realize but by consistently putting onus on Muslims to ‘solve’ ISIS, our leaders absolve any part US government policies have played and continue to play in the growth, cultivation and influence of ISIS.
Words are important, showing solidarity to the battered Muslim community is important – but don’t expect me to be grateful when you show up and tell me you support Muslims while you surveil, imprison and kill their kin.
Seeing so many American Muslims just eat up the words by Khan and, by extension, giving their support to Clinton and sing praise to her whilst ignoring this government’s policies (you know, the stuff that has actual impact on actual lives) is disappointing, albeit expected.
The sad thing is that Trump’s fascism and obscene Muslimophobia have created the kind of situation where Democrats do not, in fact, have to worry about addressing the deeper issues of military action, and specifically drone strikes, in the Middle East in any meaningful way.
The majority of Democrats in both House and Senate support the use of drone strikes that have proven to result in devastating civilian losses. Yet, it appears as though all they had to do is just invite a token Muslim to the table, throw around a few words about inclusion of the Muslim community, and they are guaranteed our votes. In other words, all they have to do is NOT be a vitriol spewing hater such as Trump, and they got it made. No need to examine the larger issues of foreign policy, specifically as pertaining to the Middle East and the use of drones to kill those Muslims they pretend to care about. Just do not be Trump and you got their vote.
And, of course, someone who questions that is dismissed and called a Republican enabler whose continued criticism of Democrats is going to cost Clinton the election.