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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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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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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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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The Reactionary, Materialistic World of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: A Holiday Satire

Rankin Bass's curiously cruel yet relentlessly classic take on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Rankin/Bass studios created a curiously materialistic, yet relentlessly classic take on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Not long after the television established itself as a common sight in American homes in the 1960s, the annual Christmas special became a seasonal staple of manufactured yule-tide cheer. Faced with the prospect of spending unwanted time with unwanted relatives, Americans found that they could bear the unbearable December reunions by gathering around the glowing cube of faux-escapism and enduring the company of kith and kin while drowning in the cheerful seasonal bliss embodied in what we now consider cherished holiday tv classics. Classics such as the beloved stop-motion chestnut, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Produced by Rankin/Bass productions, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer first aired on December 6, 1964, and in the 51 years since this original airing, it’s become a well-established part of many viewers’ Christmas traditions. The special eventually became a cultural icon, but there’s equal parts darkness and light in this seemingly charming holiday tale. While Rudolph is undoubtedly an enduring tv classic, it’s also a disturbing showcase of isolationism, unrestricted capitalism, patriarchy, sexism, and stifling conformity overcome not by the gifts of uncompromised individuality, but by the cajoled assimilation of thoughtless materialism. Continue Reading

The Very Real Death of White Working-Class America

The NEw Deal labor policies of Frankline Deleno Roosevelt were a mixed bag, but his understanding the needs of those who work is sorely missing in 21st-century America.

The New Deal labor policies of Franklin Delano Roosevelt were a mixed bag, but his recognition of the Forgotten Man is sorely missing in 21st-century America.

On June 28, 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the nation in one of his regular “Fireside Chats.” The Great Depression had left millions of Americans languishing in unemployment and despair, and with these circumstances heavy on his mind, FDR used his Fireside Chats to offer some level of comfort by informing the citizenry on the progress of his New Deal recovery plan.

On that particularly sweltering late June day, the subject was, among other things, conservative criticisms of Roosevelt’s policies. After rattling off some parched statistics about how his programs were boosting the economic recovery, FDR ceased the dusty policy wonkery and went right for the emotional jugular. “The simplest way for each of you to judge recovery lies in the plain facts of your own individual situation,” the President stated. “Are you better off than you were last year? Are your debts less burdensome? Is your bank account more secure? Are your working conditions better? Is your faith in your own individual future more firmly grounded?”

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Pope Francis vs. the Conservative Marxists

Pope Francis has rankled American right-wing toadstools by daring to place human rights over profits.

Pope Francis has rankled right-wing toadstools because American conservatives are Marxists when it comes to the issue of economic materialism.

Break out your Papal Tiaras, rock your rosaries, and stoke your stigmatas, because the one-and-only steward to the sanctified seat of Saint Peter; the Internationally Infallible Grand Poobah of Apostolic awesomeness himself — Pope Francis — is touring America.

This fall’s papal visit marks the first time that the Argentine-born Francis (née Jorge Mario Bergoglio) has placed his slippered paws onto U.S. soil, and he’s causing quite a stir, especially among American wingnuts who haven’t taken kindly to Francis’ refusal to act like Ayn Rand in a white beanie.

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Why Personality Trumps Policy in American Politics

The Donald emerges from his Trump Copter to mingle with Iowa Real Muricans.'

The Donald emerges from his Trump Copter to mingle with Iowa Real Muricans.’

If you haven’t yet gotten your ticket to board the 2016 Trump Train, you’d better move quickly, because tickets are going fast and The Donald is racing down the GOP primary tracks with a head full of more steam than a four-star Turkish Hammam.

Donald Trump recently graced Iowa (which, along with New Hampshire, is America’s key primary-season schtupping ground) with his presence by barnstorming the barn-dotted Iowa State Fair in true Trump style. The Donald landed his helicopter amidst the cavalcade of Americana that is double-bacon-wrapped corn dogs and life-size butter cow sculptures. He also gave helicopter rides to an excited gaggle of fresh-faced Murican’ moppets.

And potential GOP voters can’t get enough of it. As one young mother explained, “I’d take him over the president we have now, I think there are better options — but he’s entertaining.”

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The Real Tragedy of the Forgotten White American

Mathhew Heimbach, founder of the Traditionalist Youth Network, takes  sip from a mug emblazoned with the visage of Confederate President Jefferson Davis...who preferred his coffee VERY white.

Matthew Heimbach, founder of the Traditionalist Youth Network, takes a sip from a mug emblazoned with the visage of Confederate President Jefferson Davis…who took his coffee VERY white.

Are you white? Are you an American? Do you feel that your country’s changing ethnic and cultural demographics are steadily strangling your “traditional” values, beliefs, and culture? Moreover, do you find yourself facing a barren social landscape in which steady, meaningful employment and an overall sense of meaning in life are both scarcer than a clinically sane Republican presidential candidate? If so, then you have every right to be aggrieved, just not for the reasons that Matthew Heimbach — a.k.a “The Little Führer” — advocates.

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Donald Trump and the Tradition of the American Blowhard

The Donald's presidential run proves that pretty much any billowous gas-bag can run for president, as long as they have lots of cash.

The Donald’s presidential run proves that pretty much any billowing gas bag can run for president, as long as they have tons of cash.

Donald Trump embodies what it means to be American. No, seriously, hear me out. The Donald is loud, brash, and seemingly allergic to the concept of nuance. Indeed, Trump appears to possess a bottomless well of misguided self-confidence completely unpolluted by the mitigating toxin known as shame. That alone would put him in the pantheon of American leaders who not only carried big sticks, but also wagged them incessantly into the rest of the world’s collectively embarrassed mug.

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