Harriet Tubman, Andrew Jackson, and Making Change in America

Harriet Tubman will eventually replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill specifically for the purpose of annoying Donald Trump.

Harriet Tubman will eventually replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill specifically for the purpose of annoying Donald Trump.

Ever notice how a lot of so-called “controversies” in American culture aren’t actually controversies at all, but instead the externally manifested angst of conservatives who are highly skilled at snatching persecution from the jaws of privilege?

For example, you may have heard that the United States Treasury plans to replace former president, slaveholder, and Indian-wiper-outer Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with abolitionist and civil rights icon Harriet Tubman. The change to $20 notes won’t occur until 2030, but it’s the first successful result of a concentrated effort to get some female representation on U.S. currency. This is a welcome change that reflects intensely shifting racial, ethnic, and gender demographics in American society, so it stands to reason that some people would complain about it.

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In America, We are all Florida

The Florida Man Twitter feed is the most American thing ever, because Florida IS America.

The Florida Man Twitter feed is the most American thing ever, because Florida is the most American thing ever.

America is the place where people from all over the word come to live the American Dream. But in America itself, people move southward to live out something far more American than the American Dream: the Florida Dream.

Florida is where the runoff from America’s cultural stream settles into a fetid, stagnant pool of low taxes, cheap property prices, an endless supply of immigrant labor, cold weather-fleeing geriatrics, and trigger-happy right-wing politics. For decades, Sunshine State boosters have wrapped up the Florida Dream in a carefully marketed vision of an overly humid, sunburned paradise bolstered by an economic tripartite of hospitals, condominiums, and a gigantic, anthropomorphic mouse. And Americans can’t get enough of it.

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The Panama Papers and Capitalism’s Perpetual Myths

"Bosses of the Senate." by Joseph Keppler, 1889. At the height of the Gilded Age, private oligopolies in cahoots with the state controlled much of society.

“Bosses of the Senate.” by Joseph Keppler, 1889. At the height of the Gilded Age, private oligopolies became as powerful as, if not more so than, states.  The more things change…

Alas, capitalism, we hardly knew ye! Actually, we’ve known ye all along, and we know that you can sometimes be a real sumbitch.’ But thanks to the not-surprising-yet-still-infuriating revelations highlighted in the Panama Papers, we know at lot more about the world’s most notorious open secret: global capitalism has allowed private interests to thrive unencumbered by the whims of states, democratic or otherwise.

In fact, you might say that capitalism as practiced by the neoliberal global order is really just a front for perpetuating a modern feudal system. The Road to Serfdom indeed.

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Donald Trump & George Wallace: More Than Just Demagoguery

George Wallace campaigns in 1962 on behalf of aggrieved white dudes across Dixie

George Wallace campaigns in 1962 on behalf of aggrieved white dudes across Dixie.

As the presidential primaries bleed into an American spring that’s sure to be unlike any other in recent political memory, one thing has remained bewilderingly consistent: Donald Trump has made the Republican Party his chew toy, and like a stubborn beagle who just found your favorite pair of socks, he isn’t letting go. Whether the boorish billionaire wins or loses the GOP’s presidential nomination, he’s already made his bug-splatter-like mark on the American national windshield, and it’s gonna take a hell of a lot scrubbing to clean off.

Plenty of commentators (including your’s truly) have placed Trump within a rich tradition of American demagoguery. Few comparisons, however, have been more apt than the striking similarities between The Donald and Deep-South reactionary George Wallace, who ran for president during the 1960s and 1970s on a platform of reactionary racism, crude anti-intellectualism, and economic populism.

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Trumpocalypse Now! What Super Tuesday 2016 Means for America

Donald Trump declares wictory on Super Tuesday, while Chris Christie imagines what hell will be like when he shuffles off this mortal coil.

Donald Trump declares victory on Super Tuesday, while Chris Christie imagines what Hell will be like when he shuffles off this mortal coil.

If you followed the Super Tuesday primary results and suddenly felt a noticeable rumble beneath your feet, that was no earthquake. It was, in fact, the reverberation caused by Donald Trump’s gargantuan balls crashing through America’s purple mountain majesties and landing with a tremor-inducing thump into our amber waves of grain.

Trump’s dominating, if not entirely sweeping Super Tuesday victories were just the latest loogie hocked into the national Gatorade bottle during Election 2016. This is a race in which a long-festering culture of anti-politics has combined with bare-knuckled populism to create what will be the most uninspiring — and genuinely terrifying — party tickets in modern history.

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Why Liberalism Matters in the 2016 Election and Beyond

Bernie Sanders yells at those damn kids to get off his lawn, while Hillary Clinton smiles thinking about her next check from Wall Street.

Bernie Sanders yells at those damn kids to get off his lawn, while Hillary Clinton smiles thinking about her next check from Wall Street.

Hey, you, the person reading this. Do you know what it means to be a liberal? Depending on your own political persuasion, being liberal might make you a firm believer in liberty, equal opportunity, and the right to pursue an economic system that distributes the benefits of capitalism more broadly across the citizenry. Or, being a liberal might make you a Stalinist, Marxist, atheist, pantheist, freedom-hating, abortion-craving, tree-fondling, Chick-fil-A scorning, queer-o-sexual menace to Jesus and the Constitution that He wrote.

Either way, liberalism inspires passionate opinions in American society.

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Crash and Bern: The 2016 Iowa Caucuses

Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz crusied to victory in IOwa by Trumping Trump.

Republican Presidential candidate Ted Cruz cruised to victory in Iowa by Trumping Trump.

Every four years, the Iowa Caucus allows Iowa to be just a little bit more than that Field of Dreams state. The 2016 Iowa Caucus was an interesting affair, to say the least.

First off, there was the not entirely unsurprising second-place finish of marmot-domed billionaire braggart Donald Trump. The Donald got thwomped fairly decisively by immigrant Ted Cruz, proving that the universe does indeed have a sense of humor. Trump’s defeat was predictable: his entire campaign has been long on foamy-mawed resentment but short on real-deal, right-wing meat and potatoes. The policies he’s mouthed – building a Mexican border wall; banning Muslim immigration, and shoring up Social Security for cranky old honkies – have ranged from the absurd to the frankly liberal, hence the disdain he’s engendered among GOP establishment Grand Poobas.

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American Conservatism’s Authoritarian Streak

A really big chunk of Americans really like to be told what to do.

A really big chunk of Americans really like to be told what to do.

What do you look for in a political leader? Do you value intelligence? Religious faith? Commitment to national security? An assertion of family values? Or, do you find yourself drawn to leaders that separate the weak from the strong; that promise to use all of their accumulated power to advance the interests of the U.S.A. as the most dominant country on earth? If you find yourself identifying with the former description, then you just might be attracted to the presidential campaign of a certain billionaire braggadocio with a gnarled squirrel on top of his noggin.

That’s right, of all of the qualities that have transformed Donald Trump’s presidential run from a seemingly Quixotic national experiment in the limits of extreme narcissism into a viable path to the White House, few are more important than his appeal to conservative voters’ authoritarian instincts. While not necessarily interchangeable, conservatism and authoritarianism go together like peas and carrots, like bread and wine, like trigger-happy white police officers and unarmed black dudes.

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The Ahistorical Anti-Government Ideology of the Bundy Militia

Ammon Bundy, a guy tasked with an incoherant, ahistorical ideology laced with the occassional legitimate grievance.

Ammon Bundy, a guy promoting an incoherent, ahistorical ideology laced with the occasional legitimate grievance.

It never should have come to this, but the cause of freedom doesn’t rests on its laurels. On January 2, 2016, a gaggle of armed, babbling Bubbas decided to re-launch the American Revolution by taking over the remote Malheaur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service administers the refuge, which is now serving as the unofficial Alamo of the Pacific Northwest for a loose collection of Far-Right Militia goonies who have decided to take a stand against the Federal Government, ostensibly to protest the incarceration of father-son ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond at the hands of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Led by Ammon “Son of Cliven” Bundy, the Militia members have declared their intentions to occupy the refuge for multiple years, even as they evidenced a fair amount of short-term planning when their social media call for snacks got them boxloads of dildos instead and earned them the unflattering Twitter designation as “Y’all Qaeda.” But for all of the media attention that Bundy’s antics have garnered, the real issue at hand here isn’t the Hammonds’ imprisonment, it’s the ahistorical ideology behind the modern Militia movement itself, a movement that operates under a bizarro world interpretation of the U.S. Constitution that renders any legitimate grievances the movement has with the Federal Government difficult to take seriously.

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Trump and the Revenge of the Middle-American Radicals

Donald Trump greets a mob of deranged Middle-American radcials in Alabama, a state where crazy is a prerequisite for political office.

Donald Trump greets a mob of deranged middle-American Radicals in Alabama, a state where crazy is a prerequisite for political office.

American politics has always stood as the ultimate confirmation of the notion, roughly quoted from Winston Churchill, that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others. In 2015, no phenomenon better demonstrated this truism than the rise and impressive staying power of bellicose billionaire Donald J. Trump, who floated like a piece of solid waste to the bubbling surface of the Republican Party septic tank and has remained there ever since.

With a brazen combination of Tourettes-like “straight talk,” anti-immigrant nativism, bone-headed “kiss me, I’m rich” charm, and the seemingly inherent gift of never overestimating the intelligence of the average white American slob, Trump turned what many Washington pundits dismissed as yet another political ego-stroke by an eccentric billionaire into a full-throttled run for the GOP presidential nomination. Indeed, much to the dismay of Republican Party elites, 2015 was the Year of the Trump, and his uncouth dominance of the early presidential race has many party king makers worried that The Donald’s low-brow moron style of campaigning simply won’t play well outside of the bone-strewn pit of Middle American Radicalism.

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