Category Archives: Manifesto

Not Now Silly Turns To The Dark Arts

I can now reveal what I was only able to hint at last week: I am moving to the dark side of politics. I am collaborating on a book with a politician, Miami District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell.

I became a writer because I wanted to tell stories — because I needed to tell stories. It was less that I chose writing than writing chose me. Words just tumbled out of me. Putting it down on paper was my only outlet. In the beginning, it was fiction and furtive. Short stories that no one ever saw, thankfully.

I look back on my earliest stuff and shudder. However, I’ve worked these past 4 decades honing my craft. From a giveaway music fanzine in the ’70s, to hired wordsmithing for a Canadian trade publication read around the world. By the time I was 25 I could truly call myself a professional writer. Over the years I written everything from Investigative Journalism, Record Reviews, Artist Profiles, Copy Writing, Hollywood Reporter, finally landing at Citytv, Toronto, for a decade as a Tee Vee News Writer. I called myself a ventriloquist because I put the words in the mouths of the meat puppets (a joke that has not endeared me to my former colleagues).

I parlayed my knowledge of tee vee news into writing Fox “News” criticism, first at NewsHounds and, later, PoliticusUSA. I’ve also become an internationally known pundit — if you call what I do on Twitter and the facebookery punditry.

What I’m most proud of is the Not Now Silly Newsroom and my stories about the City of Miami and Coconut Grove. The Grove had more stories to tell than I had time for.

Now there are stories that I will no longer be able to write — some of which are already in the pipeline — because I have to recuse myself from stories about Miami. I’ve joined the other side.

Q: What does Headly Westerfield and Jeffery Beauregard Sessions have in common?
A: They have both recused themselves.

If I’ve written anything at all about politicians in the past 10 years, it’s to call them names and make fun of them. Especially now that we’ve arrived in the Trump Era. However, I’ve long been fascinated by Russell from the day we first met.

He was still a private citizen back then.

I was still trying to land my White Whale: [allegedly] corrupt Miami District 2 Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff. Russell was fighting Sarnoff’s inadequate plan — developed in secret (as many of Sarnoff’s plans were) — to remediate the toxic soil in Merrie Christmas Park, which was across the street from his house.

This was one of 8 parks in the city closed after toxic soil was found in each of them.

Aside from the inadequate remediation, Sarnoff had also ILLEGALLY declared the park and its surrounds a Brownfield site, without any of the proper public hearings and neighbourhood notifications. As one of the first journalists to report on Soilgate, I cold-called Russell to interview him on the toxic soil issue.

We met in a coffee shop and had a pleasant enough interview. However, in the back of my mind I was thinking, “Okay. I get it. He’s worried about the toxic soil, because his kids play in the park, and his own property values.”

However, near the end of the interview, he surprised me. He said something to the effect of, “Now that we’ve hired a lawyer, it appears Merrie Christmas Park will be remediated properly. However, I’m worried about the parks in the neighbourhoods where people don’t have the resources to take on the City of Miami.”

Well, whaddaya know? This guy has a social conscious.

But that’s where it ended. I had no reason to contact Russel again until he decided to run for Miami District 2 Commissioner to replace Sarnoff, who had been termed out. Russell was considered a dark horse in a race that had 8 people vying for the seat, most of whom had better name recognition that he did.

Renewing contact, Russell allowed me to go with him on Door Knocks. Rain or shine, he visited nearly every house and condo in the district, talking to voters in both English and Spanish; 2 of the 6 languages he’s conversant in. In between houses we talked and I got to know him better. More importantly, I got to like him.

I had never liked a politician before.

While Russell didn’t win on the first ballot, he won the run-off against Teresa Sarnoff, the wife of the term limited Commissioner.

On the day he took his Oath of Office to the City of Miami, Russell graciously allowed me to embed myself with him for the entire day. I met his family, who turned out to be one of the most photogenic families I’ve ever seen. Also, one of the more multicultural families.

Here’s the Cliff Notes version of the Ken Russell story.

His father Jack was a a professional Yo Yo Champion. In the ’40s he invented and patented an improvement to yo yos that became the industry standard. If you’ve ever played with a yo yo, it’s likely it was a Genuine Russell Yo Yo.

This took Ken’s father around the world, promoting the Russell Yo Yo. While in Japan he met that country’s Yo Yo Champion, fell in love, and married her. How’s that for a Meet Cute story?

Eventually along came Ken, who also became a professional Yo Yo Champion, traveling the world — and promoting the product — like his father and mother had done before him. Daft Punk has even licensed the Russell Yo Yo for branded merchandise.

While he can still be cajoled into performing yo yo tricks, Ken eventually moved into woodworking and started a paddle/surf board company, which is what he was doing before he found politics. Or. did politics find him?

Coconut Grove, the community I adopted, is a small part of Russell’s District 2, which also includes downtown.

As a result I often found myself contacting Russel’s office for comments and quotes. I watched Ken as he stumbled and made some missteps while trying to wrap his arms around the intricacies of the office. The learning curve in becoming a politician — and understanding the city machinery — has been tremendous. Russell has made some rookie mistakes, which he acknowledges. However, he’s also identified some creative solutions that, if adopted, could address the poverty and systemic racism that has kept West Grove down during the last century.

Recently Russell was approached by some Movers and Shakers to run for Congress in Florida’s 27th District, to replace Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who has decided she’s had enough politics for the time being.

He’s still pondering his decision, deciding whether it makes sense to declare as a candidate for the 2018 midterms.

Let this sink in for a second: Russell has been a City of Miami Commissioner — his first elected post ever — less than 2 years. Yet there are already people who think he could go further. The entire concept is a surreal.

However, this got me thinking: If anybody is going to write what I’ve taken to calling The Ken Russell Story (for the lack of a better name), I wanted it to be me.

About a month ago I approached Russell with the idea to collaborate on a book. Miraculously, he didn’t tell me to GTFO. In fact, he listened carefully as I outlined several different approaches such a book could take. After pondering it for a while, Russell agreed to collaborate.

That’s why I have now recused myself from writing about Miami politics.

I have officially crossed over to the other side. I am excited about being able to watch the sausage being made. Whether Russell decides to run for Congress, and win or lose, we’ve agreed that this book will go forward.

I’ll still publish various kinds of stories in the Not Now Silly Newsroom (several of which are already in the pipeline). However, now that I am shadowing the Commissioner, I have signed a non-disclosure agreement. I can’t use anything I learn while being a fly-on-the-wall in meetings until the book is published, or I am released from this agreement, whichever comes first.

This is a brand new adventure for me. Wish me luck.

A Reasoned Defense of the Word “Nigger”

Let’s get something straight off the top: There is no more vile a word in the English language than “nigger”. Full stop.

However, let’s agree — at the very least — that it is a word.

If it’s a word, then you might want to consider that there are just certain times when its use is appropriate and no other word will do. Otherwise, I have a number of objectionable words that maybe we can talk about banning.

I’m a writer. I’m in love with words and language. I hate euphemisms. This awful construct our society has created, “The N-Word”, is an affront to the English language. It takes one of its ugliest words and masks it inside a Disney-friendly jumble of letters. It should come with a happy face.

I’ve wanted to write this essay for a good long time and have pitched it to nearly every editor I’ve had for almost 2 decades. Many years ago I merely told an editor the title of this article (which I had already been writing in my head). We were on the phone, but they blinked so hard I could hear it. After giving them the rough outline, I was told, basically, “Good luck with that.”

Every editor since has said pretty much the same thing.

It’s also worth noting that “The N-Word” is a verbal construct. In print, instead, it’s often rendered as ni**er. Oddly enough, another word rendered this way is fa**ot. It’s like we have a Phony War on the Letter G.

Here’s what triggered the original though in my head so many years ago:

I was watching CNN back in the day when Fox “News” had not yet divided the nation. It had a rainbow panel of people on to talk with the editor of a magazine called “Hebe”, by Jews, for Jews. Her contention was that they were reclaiming the word, much like Queer. It was a very interesting and thoughtful discussion during which I heard the words “spick”, “kike”, “wop”, “chink”, and a few other horrible racial epithets, but all used correctly and within context.

Yet, there was one jarring note in this multicultural discussion.

Whenever anyone on the panel came to a certain word, they stuttered and then said, “The N-Word”. Not a single one of them had a problem with the list of words above. As a young Jew Boy who was called “kike” while I was growing up, I was — somehow — offended and — yes — a little envious of that. Why do only Blacks get their most hated word censored?

On Friday Bill Maher shocked people on the left and the right (who defend racist Ted Nugent) because he made a joke with the word “nigger” in it. I’m not going to defend the joke for two reasons:

  1. The joke itself. I didn’t find it that funny. It was too oblique. I didn’t understand the target. Ben Stasse? Really?The joke might have been funny (in this former Gag Writer’s opinion) if Maher had been talking to either a hardcore racist, or someone like Jesse Jackson or Reverend Sharpton, who condemned the joke.
  2. Comedy is a High Wire Act performed without a net. Comedians, especially those doing live shtick like Maher, use their lightning fast skills with verbiage to get laughs. Sometimes you fall down, go boom. [See: Gilbert Godfried, Kathy Griffin, etc.]

In humour, timing is everything. Maher couldn’t have timed his riposte worse considering the political climate of the country right now.

I’ve written about issues of race for years. Was I offended by Maher? No. But, it doesn’t matter whether I was or not because I don’t get to decide what offends other people. Other people get to decide that. Like the NYTs Wesley Morris, who doesn’t seem terribly offended either, calling it something “for the basket labeled ‘Life’s too short.'” Answering his own question in What Was Bill Maher’s Big Mistake?, he writes [emphasis mine]:

[I]ntention is tricky in comedy. Mr. Sasse said something that was, on its face, unsavory. You don’t need much of an imagination to envision Chris Rock, Larry Wilmore or Wanda Sykes taking a whack at that line. ABC’s sitcom “black-ish” exists, partly, to satirize these sorts of conversational bloopers.

But Bill Maher isn’t Chris Rock. He’s not on “black-ish.” He’s a 61-year-old white man who would never get a pass for jesting about slavery or the N-word. (His track record inspires too much doubt to give any benefit.) That’s a license reserved, arguably, for Louis C.K., or Sarah Silverman in her performance-art prime — white comedians who have really grappled with what it means to flirt with racially inflammatory language and ideas, what it means for the flirtation to fail. Mr. Maher’s approach to television doesn’t necessitate that kind of rehearsed rumination. The appeal of “Real Time” is its on-the-spot discourse, its anti-rehearsal. That looseness can tip easily into blurting, flatulence and worse.

The insult to injury here involves the conflation of Mr. Maher’s transgression and the umbrage he feigned at being asked to work in the fields. As my sister might say: Oh, he fancy now. For a long time, black people have deployed slavery-derived hierarchies as a social and psycho-political sorting mechanism. A house assignment might have won a slave less arduous work but more suspicion and contempt from her counterparts in the fields. No one self-identifies as a house Negro — unless that person is making a joke. And even then that person probably shouldn’t be Bill Maher.

C’mon, Mr. Morris. A funny joke would still be a funny joke, no matter who says it. However, sometimes race adds a frisson to a joke that can make us all uncomfortable.

Take Lenny Bruce, please.

I discovered Lenny Bruce in my teenage years through Frank Zappa, who released The Berkeley Concert in 1971 on his Bizarre label. The concert was recorded in 1965 and Bruce had been dead 5 years by the time the record was released. I read his autobiography, How To Talk Dirty and Influence People and began collecting some of the earlier vinyl, which was really hard to find. Lenny Bruce didn’t sell a lot of records. Therefore, there weren’t a lot of Bruce records pressed.

I’m not trying to turn this into a treatise on comedy. To remind you, I’m writing about the word “nigger”. Lenny Bruce had more than one routine in which he invoked the word, but this one stuck with me over the years as an undeniable truth, delivered almost as if it were a Jazz riff:

Imagine that. If “nigger didn’t mean anything anymore, then you could never make some six-year-old black kid cry because somebody called him a nigger at school.” Lenny Bruce paid dearly for creating the world in which George Carlin and Louis C.K. could thrive:

Still, despite Bill Maher making the news this week, I was still on the fence about whether I would ever actually finish this post I began researching decades ago. However, a recent incident made my decision for me:

As I was Lyfting yesterday, I picked up 4 young men in Fort Lauderdale who were going some 35 miles to Sumerset Academy, a charter school down in Pembrook Pines. [Don’t get me started about Charter Schools, but clearly their parents felt they were getting a better education than anywhere else in the Public School System.] When these lads got in they did so with their music playing. I closed my music down, saying, “We got too much music happening.

“Crank it up,” I added. I let them plug in their bass heavy Bluetooth speaker and we drove down US-27 with the music cranked.

Now, I’m from Detroit and never heard the word “nigger” as many times as I did during this drive.

I couldn’t help but think that there are some people who do not consider the word toxic at all. There are some people who only consider it offensive when certain people use it. Here’s when I consider it offensive: When it’s used to offend.

On a related note, I told this story on my facebookery last week:

Had 2 Black gents in their 20s in the car when Al Jolson came on.

They were talking and showed no recognition whatsoever. So I interrupted and asked them, “Have either of you 2 gents heard of Al Jolson?”

After they both said “NO” I gave them an entire History Lesson on Blackface and Minstrel Shows. They were shocked.

They were more shocked to learn that there were Black men who blacked their faces so they could perform in Minstrel Shows.

Then I blew their minds when I explained that the original Whites who performed in blackface were imitating the Black folks’ Cake Walks, which in itself was a parody of White High Society that Black folks were lampooning.

It’s the vast circle of life.

Over the years I’ve bookmarked dozens of articles that avoid using the appropriate word, thereby softening these despicable sentiments. As I was in the process of proofreading this article, prior to hitting the PUBLISH button, I came across another ripped from the latest headlines:

Flint official resigns after
he’s caught on tape blaming
‘f*cking n*****s’ for water crisis

Oh, fer f*ck’s sake!

With the frightening emergence of NeoNazis (hiding behind the euphemism alt-right), we need RESIST the enabler in the White House, not get hung up over a word when used correctly.

The Post-Truth Twitterer Emperor

I think we can all agree, no matter what side of the political spectrum, that everything Emperor Trump learned about communication, he learned from Twitter.

And, he learned it well:

On Twitter some profiles have words to the effect of “A retweet is not an endorsement”.

I get that. I share stuff all the time I don’t condone. I share it because it’s funny, absurd, hateful, or demonstrative of Reich Wing idiocy. I would hate for people to think I signed onto any of that.

However, I’m not the Twitter President. Everything Emperor Trump retweets is an endorsement of the idea contained therein, unless he specifically debunks it. He doesn’t. SAD!

So, for him to say that he gave no opinion, but read it somewhere or heard it on the Fox “”News” Channel, and is just repeating it is totally DISINGENUOUS!!! It’s laughable on its face. Here’s what he told TIME Magazine:

Q: But I grant you some of those. But you would agree also that some of the things you have said haven’t been true. You say that Ted Cruz’s father was with Lee Harvey Oswald.

A: Well that was in a newspaper. No, no, I like Ted Cruz, he’s a friend of mine. But that was in the newspaper. I wasn’t, I didn’t say that. I was referring to a newspaper. A Ted Cruz article referred to a newspaper story with, had a picture of Ted Cruz, his father, and Lee Harvey Oswald, having breakfast.

Q: That gets close to the heart…

A: Why do you say that I have to apologize? I’m just quoting the newspaper, just like I quoted the judge the other day, Judge Napolitano, I quoted Judge Napolitano, just like I quoted Bret Baier, I mean Bret Baier mentioned the word wiretap. Now he can now deny it, or whatever he is doing, you know. But I watched Bret Baier, and he used that term. I have a lot of respect for Judge Napolitano, and he said that three sources have told him things that would make me right. I don’t know where he has gone with it since then. But I’m quoting highly respected people from highly respected television networks.

Q: But traditionally people in your position in the Oval Office have not said things unless they can verify they are true.

A: Well, I’m not, well, I think, I’m not saying, I’m quoting, Michael, I’m quoting highly respected people and sources from major television networks.

This is not just laughable and disingenuous. It’s also reckless. Emperor Trump knows full well his BRAIN DEAD supporters will believe anything he spews on his Twitter feed. He also knows they will never even see the truth because they only watch the Fox “News” Channel.

The Beginning of the End of McCarthyism ► Throwback Thursday

On this date in 1954 brave journalists at CBS began curing ‘Merka from the cancer of McCarthyism.

Millions of words have been written about McCarthyism and I won’t even begin to sum them up. If you are unfamiliar with these shining beacons of truthful journalism [Hey! Millennials!], I’ve taken the opportunity of  quoting just a few of those words:

Fred Friendly; NYT obit

A big, imposing man who hurled ideas and opinions around like Olympian thunderbolts, Mr. Friendly, as both producer and president of CBS News, stood at the center of some of the most influential and contentious moments in the early history of television journalism. His work included the best-remembered documentary ever produced, Mr. Murrow’s dismantling of Senator Joseph McCarthy and his demagogic anti-Communist campaign inside the United States Government.

He also produced Mr. Murrow’s other groundbreaking documentaries including ”Harvest of Shame” in 1960, an expose on the hardships of migrant workers.

Later, as president of CBS News from 1964 to 1966, he clashed frequently with the network’s management over his efforts to get more news on the air. His often caustic criticisms of what he maintained was the television networks’ lack of commitment to quality news coverage continued through the years.

Edward R. Murrow; NYT Obit:

The ever-present cigarette (he smoked 60 to 70 a day), the matter-of-fact baritone voice and the high-domed, worried, lopsided face were the trademarks of the radio reporter who became internationally famous during World War II with broadcasts that started, “This. . .is London.”

Later, on television, his series of news documentaries, “See It Now,” on the Columbia Broadcasting System from 1951 to 1958, set the standard for all television documentaries on all networks.

President Johnson, on learning of Mr. Murrow’s death, said that all Americans “feel a sense of loss in the death of Edward R. Murrow.”

He was, the President said, a “gallant fighter” who had “dedicated his life as a newsman and as a public official to the unrelenting search for truth.”

How about that?

We’ve gone from a president praising journalism to one who undermines it as fake news when he doesn’t like it.

It wasn’t all that long ago that this reporter was railing against Emperor Trump’s ironic use of the word McCarthyism. We’ve come a long way from the truth-teller journalists of a bygone era. We now have an Oval Office distracting from uncomfortable back-channel contact with the Russians by fake accusations against President Obama.

Let this be a teaching moment.

Let the cowardly GOP see this and realize that they are on the wrong side of history by supporting the Madness of Emperor Trump. Let them also realize they’ll either be hailed as heroes if they stand up to this crazed man, or quislings if they don’t, just like during McCarthyism.

Watch “A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy” from See It Now:

Finally, let this be a teaching moment for the mainstream media. We all know that Fox “News” won’t provide the heroic journalism the fact-based community is looking for. Who will? Lately, it’s been The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, which I’ve only begun watching regularly recently. (Prior to this it was hit or miss.) Check out this blockbuster from last night:

The real question is how can the truth penetrate the FAKE NEWS FOG created by Emperor Trump so that the average ‘Merkin [Read: Fox “News” viewer] begins to see him for what he really is? When will the truth cure ‘Merka from this cancer? Just like what Edward R. Morrow did 63 years ago today.

This Is Not Watergate! This Is Treason!!!

Today’s Trump Twitter Tirade

Emperor Trump sent out a series of deranged tweets this morning that not only upped the ante, but — IRONY ALERT! — just ensured never-ending investigations up his colon all the way to his lyin’ mouth.

First things first: Because Emperor Trump is always deflecting from the bad news he knows is coming, we need to ask, “What’s next?” If you’ve been paying attention, you know the answer. More Russian bombshells. However, while we’re waiting for that shoe to drop (how many shoes does this crazy MoFo have?), let’s examine the overarching, grand irony in this series of tweets, fresh this morning from the Trump Toilet.

[For greater context, read Did Roger Ailes Dupe James Rosen, Or Did Rosen Dupe ‘Merka? and Is Michael Flynn A Traitor? Is Trump? The GOP? Watergate Redux?, found elsewhere in the Not Now Silly Newsroom.]

Let’s take Trump’s Tweets one by one in chronological order followed by the Truth Trump Won’t Tell™:

IRONY #1: Strange that Emperor Trump would jump to McCarthyism because 1). McCarthyism is defined as the wild accusation against someone without a shred of proof; 2). Roy Cohn — Trump’s lawyer and mentor — taught him that a good defense is a nuclear offense, a trait we’ve seen from this tweeting man/boy over and over again. Additionally, Cohn was McCarthy’s chief counsel when that drunkard was destroying good people during the McCarthy hearings without a shred of evidence. See the parallel?

What else you got, you mendacious piece of horse manure?

IRONY #2: He was the fucking President, you idiot — a job you don’t seem to understand. It was his job to meet with the Russians. It was not the job of Jared Kushner, General Mike Flynn, Jeff Sessions, Casey Page, Paul Manafort, or Roger Stone. (Did I leave anyone out?)

What else you got, you soon-to-be-former Emperor?

IRONY #3: Short answer: Yes.

Long answer: Not only did Emperor Trump just admit that a court gave law enforcement permission for “wire tapping”, which makes it legal, but this is hardly the first time.

In those stories linked above NNS tells the inside baseball story of how President Lyndon Baines Johnson tapped the campaign plane of candidate Richard Nixon to determine whether treason had been committed.

The short answer is yes. Treason was committed when Nixon used Anna Chennault to approach the South Vietnamese — where U.S. soldiers were dying — and tell them to hold out to get a better deal from Nixon after he was elected. The South Vietnamese walked away from the Paris Peace Talks and people on all sides of this war continued to die.

See the parallel? Was Trump using many people, not just a single Anna Chennault, to go around President Obama and tell them not to worry about the sanctions just imposed because Emperor Trump could make them all go away?

If so, this would be treason.

LBJ obtained audio evidence of Nixon’s treason, but decided it would be hard to explain why he had tapped Nixon’s plane, so he gave the information to Democratic candidate Hubert Humphrey to use as an October Surprise. Humphrey was too honourable to do so and eventually lost to Nixon (who, in case you need reminding,  eventually quit rather than face impeachment).

See the parallel? We have already learned from previous leaks that President Obama’s administration had a ton of info on Trump/Russian connections. However, Obama was too honourable to use it against him and didn’t want to be seen meddling in the election (unlike the F.B.I., but that’s another story for another day).

Does Cheetos Jesus have anything else?

IRONY #4: Lawyers can make a good case out of anything. However, they need proof to win. Where’s the proof, you lying sumnabitch?

We already know your spelling is atrocious, but it’s “tap” not “tapp”.

IRONY #5: Spelling aside, for Trump to thumb the words “very sacred election process” is the height of hypocrisy. Trump did nothing but shit all over the “very sacred election process” from the minute he threw his toupee into the ring, through the rest of the campaign, and beyond his inauguration.

That during this “very sacred election process” he also got all that extra help from the Ruskies [allegedly, of course], is the ALMOST the biggest irony of all.

IRONY #6: The biggest irony is that Emperor Trump just guaranteed there will be Senate and Congressional hearings about all these issues until the cows come home, or the pigeons come home to roost, whichever comes first. Pass the popcorn.


The Twitterer-in-Chief also had time for some serious business this morning:


‘Merkin ‘Ceptionalism – An Experiment In Democrazy ► Another Manifesto

If we learned anything from The Roman Empire it’s that great civilizations can destroy themselves. Welcome to Emperor Romulus’ Trump’s 2017, aka An Experiment in Democrazy.

Unless Bob Newhart or Pam Ewing dreamed the whole thing, tomorrow at noon an unprepared, inconceivable, unpresidented [sic] tweeting, lying, braying reality show host, and bankrupt businessman will take the oath of office for — I still can’t believe I have to type this — The President of the United States. That says everything about the current direction of ‘Merka in the 21st century.

She’s swirling the bowl, folks, and only a industrial Roto-Rooter is going to get this orange piece of shit to go down the pipes of Democracy. This is why treatment plants were invented.

My treatment? I’m only slightly less contemptuous of Emperor Trump voters than those who are still defending him and the media outlets trying to normalize his behaviour. [I’m not even including anyone on his payroll or nominations list, because they’re clearly not objective. They’re whores.] Next up for my righteous condemnation is everyone who stayed home on November 8th. Then my disdain encompasses every Stein and Bernie Bro’ voter, who refused to see the threat of Demagogue Donald. You are all culpable as we watch the country go down the drain. I’ve no sympathy for any of you.

I do, however, empathize with those who voted for Hillary Clinton or actively agitated against this monster.  They saw this coming and tried to save the world.

“Every nation gets the government it deserves” is most often attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859), but was first said by Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821), who had the good breeding to say it in French: Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite. Yet, despite the fact that de Tocqueville plagiarized his countryman, he did originate the idea of American Exceptionalism, and he didn’t exactly mean it as a compliment.

Who else doesn’t believe in American Exceptionalism? Other than Stalin, I mean. Emperor Trump, that’s who! As MoJo‘s David Corn tells us:

In late April 2015, a month before Trump officially announced his candidacy, he spoke at an event called “Celebrating the American Dream” that was hosted in Houston by the Texas Patriots PAC, a local tea party outfit. The mogul sat in an oversized leather chair and fielded questions from Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, a prominent local businessman. About an hour into the program, McIngvale posed Trump this query: “Define American exceptionalism. Does American exceptionalism still exist? And what do we do to grow American exceptionalism?”

Trump didn’t hesitate to shoot down the premise of the question, saying he didn’t “like the term.” He questioned whether the United States was “more exceptional” and “more outstanding” than other nations. He also said that those who refer to American exceptionalism were “insulting the world” and offending people in other countries, such as Russia, China, Germany, and Japan. It is “not a nice term,” he said, maintaining it was wrong to equate patriotism with a belief in American exceptionalism. He derided politicians who use the phrase.

Explaining his negative reaction to this idea long cherished and promoted by Republicans and Democrats, Trump said, “perhaps that’s because I don’t have a very big ego, and I don’t need terms like that.” Audience members laughed in response. Trump added, “I want to take everything back from the world that we’ve given them. We’ve given them so much.” He suggested that were he to become president, he would make the United States exceptional.

People wouldn’t even take him seriously back then. Yet, he was still elected.

Buckle up, Chicolinis. Here comes the “E” Ticket you paid for.

Lookit! I’ll admit that somewhere, in the dark recesses of my heart, I still choke up when I hear The Star Spangled Banner. Some patriotic displays will still make that muscle ache.  That’s where the Pledge of Allegiance can still be recited by heart. No matter what nationality I may have subsequently embraced, I am, after all, a born ‘Merkin. Naturally I received the usual indoctrination before I moved to Canada.

I suspect my feelings are not all that different from those of Leah Remini, who escaped Scientology to make a 10-part documentary exposing its secrets.

I had been brainwashed, just like in any cult. The childhood programming was powerful stuff, but 35 years in Canada (almost) completely obliterated it.  There I learned how blind ‘Merkins can be to their own foibles and colonialist misdeeds around the world and at home.

‘Merkin ‘Ceptionalism. Manifest Destiny.

One of the things I came to learn during my 3 and a half decades living outside ‘Merka is that elsewhere around the world all that jingoistic sloganeering and flag-waving was dismissed as manifestations of The Ugly ‘Merkin.

My country, right or wrong! Love it or leave it!

I returned to the States 11 years ago with a jaundiced eye toward the country that birthed me. My time here has not made me feel any better about this place. I’ve had people say the most incredibly racist things to me unsolicited. They — somehow — automatically believed I belonged to the same White Skin Club™ because we had a similar pigment.

Then President Obama was elected and it only got worse. Only in a racist country would the first Black president be blamed for all the racism that reared its ugly head after he was elected.

After 2008 the number of people who felt they could get away with using the word “nigger” in my presence increased, as did my arguments with these people because I’ve never allowed racism to pass unremarked. But, of course, it’s all Obama’s fault.

Who can dispute this truth? At her core, this country is racist. It’s baked into the Constitution, despite the all men are created equal bullshit they shoehorned in there. The Founding Fathers declared Black people only 3/5th of a person; created the 2nd Amendment’s “well regulated militias” to guard against slave revolts; and birthed the Electoral College, designed to keep the hands of The Great Unwashed — Black and White — off the levers of Democracy.

While slavery is Lady Liberty’s original sin, now Emperor Trump has made a lie of her venerated words carved right into her base:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

In TrumpWorld — ‘Merka’s new Bemusement Park — this translates to:

“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

And, assholes voted for him. Some, I assume, are good people. But, yannow what? Who cares? He admitted to grabbing women by the pussy and people still voted for him!! He lied over and over and people still voted for him!!!

Over the MLK memorial weekend he was Twitter-hating on Civil Rights icon John Lewis. He’s losing supprt by the day. At last count almost 70 Democratic lawmakers have said they plan to sit out the urineation [sic] because of the illegitimacy of his election, with Russian fingerprints all over it.

Speaking of Stalin and ‘Merkin ‘Ceptionalism, in the longer article “A Lesson For Trump From Stalin: Lies Work, Right Up Until The Point When They Don’t” (it’s well worth your time to read the whole thing) Slate‘s M. T. Anderson doesn’t mince words:

It’s important to remember this: A regime can work a population so that they don’t object to even the most bald-faced lie. There is no safety in numbers, even vast numbers, if no one speaks up. Before we fall into the fantasies of liberal dystopia, however, it’s worth pointing out that Stalin had at his disposal an absolutely captive nationalized press. All information in print had to be sanctioned by the Party, which accommodated the complete pulverization of the real. There was a hoary Soviet joke about the nation’s two big papers, Pravda (“Truth”) and Izvestiya (“News”): “There is no truth in News, and there’s no news in Truth.”

It’s vitally important that this is still not the case in our American situation—though at the same time, we should recall that Trump has threatened the suppression of the press. Insofar as he has a plan for accomplishing this, it’s apparently through restricting official access, even within press conferences themselves, and perhaps more potently, plunging the press into financially exhausting litigation. Of course, any attempt to curb the free press would meet with stiff constitutional opposition. On the other hand, a captive press was not necessary to convince thousands of American leftists in the 1930s to take Stalin at his word and resolutely ignore evidence of the purges taking place within the USSR; nor has a restricted press been necessary to convince Trump’s followers to ignore fact in favor of slapdash fiction. (Recently, for example, more than half of Republican voters told pollsters they believed he’d won the popular vote in a “massive landslide,” though he lost by nearly 3 million votes.)

Putin’s Russia, meanwhile, still has one of the most stifled and policed press cohorts in the world. Putin’s regime doesn’t merely use the noose of crony capitalism to purchase and strangulate opposition; there is a terrifyingly high fatality rate among Russian journalists, and it seems likely that many of the contract killings, mysterious blows to the head, and spontaneous tumbles out of closed windows that they die from can be traced back to the regime. Trump has defended his pal Putin on this count, as on so many others. When asked to condemn Putin’s likely involvement in the killing of journalists, Trump essentially shrugged it off. He replied glibly, “Our country does plenty of killing also.”

And now Emperor Trump — not to mention the GOP — is siding with Vladimir Putin over their own country, which is a total reversal of how the Reich Wing behaved over the last 75 years.

Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle
is the new Experiment in Democrazy.

Read my previous Manifesto: Not My President — Not Even My Country.