The Franken Problem

When the New York Times published their exposé of Harvey Weinstein, it was the first gavel-fall of a reckoning that is still taking place in our country. It has already claimed the careers of beloved actors, comedians, and promising politicians while forcing the progressive movement of our country into yet another paralyzing moment of self-examination. Today, with the announced resignation of Al Franken, the movement has shown that its judgements are not privy to party lines. There have been many falls from grace in the last two months (see: Spacey, Kevin and CK, Louis) but the loss of Franken might be the hardest and most bitter of all the pills to swallow up to this point for myself and fellow armchair liberals.

Al Franken has always been a very interesting subject to me because he has been, to my knowledge, the only person to truly bridge the gap between comedy and politics. We’ve had plenty of successful celebrity-politicians in the last few decades (look no further than our sitting president), but no comedian-politicians. I’ve been a fan of Franken for many years and have read several of his books including his latest that details his run for Senate. Franken writes at length about how a lot of his comedic past was perceived and exploited as a political liability by his opponent. Old jokes from decades-old Playboy essays were dredged up, context-less, and used in attack ads. The fact of the matter is that comedic writing, with its bizarre mix of irony and truth, is the polar opposite of political speech, which relies on obfuscation and flowery language. A comedian going into politics is like training a cat to be a horse.

Let me be clear: I’m not making excuses for Al. There are those that might call this a witch hunt, a hit job, or some fabrication. But the saying goes that a picture speaks a thousand words and that particular picture of Al Franken mock-squeezing a sleeping soldier’s breast would follow him screaming for the rest of his career and our collective awareness. Accountability needs to exist on both sides and progressives can continue to bitch about Roy Moore and Republican shittiness but that does not give us an excuse lower our own standards. We cannot tolerate a conservative President that jokes openly about grabbing women by the pussy in the same way that we cannot tolerate a liberal Senator that has a number of allegations against him, including photographic evidence of him sexually humiliating a member of our armed fucking forces like come the fuck on guys how did you think that was going to play in the long term?

maxresdefault
“Give it a few months and nobody will ever remember this again” – Democratic strategists probably.

I often bemoan the constant liberal pattern of undermining and self-policing but this is a situation where I truly believe it necessary that we sacrifice our own for the greater good.

picture1
The greater good.

There’s a point in which politics and personal feelings have to be left behind if a movement is really going to gain ground. The whole point of #MeToo and the current unmasking of abusive figures in business, politics, and entertainment is ridding the system of the patriarchal abuse from which it’s been exploited for countless decades. That’s not just a policy shift. That’s reprogramming and requires a change in the way we think of the people we put in charge of our world and democracy. That means holding evangelical creeps like Roy Moore culpable in the court of public opinion just as much as we hold former beloved celebrities like Louis C.K. and Bill Cosby. We cannot shield our heroes or allied politicians. We must put the movement before ourselves and our perceptions.

Bottom line: Sexual assault, coercion, and harassment is not fucking okay. That includes images of our goddamn leaders doing it. If we’re going to get anything from this shit-covered, orange-stained year it should be maybe that one lesson. Progress happens by baby steps and this is one of those big-baby steps we must take as a society if we have any hope of salvaging our national reputation once the Trump Years are over. We owe it to ourselves for surviving it all.

And to those partisan hacks that are bemoaning the loss of a star Democratic politician to a movement that is no longer politically convenient for them: Suck it up, buttercup.

The author would again like to apologize for the brevity and lack of jokes in this piece. However, some things do not require jokes. For lengthier, jokier material, please stay tuned for the Stuff Corbin Hates Year in Review coming very soon! 

Advertisements

Analyzing The Trump Outrage Cycle

I feel as if we have all aged dramatically since January 20th. Babies born during that time have probably started high school this week. There’s no need to recount the number of scandals, mini-scandals, outrages, missteps, controversies, and sensations that have arisen in the last seven months. To do so would be exhausting for the reader and for your humble writer. We’ve already been through foreign conspiracies, bureaucratic infighting, corruption, threats of nuclear war, and most recently Nazis. If this trend follows, I expect there to be aliens on the White House lawn by next February. Once the Trump Administration finally ends, I hope that David Lynch is the one to get the film rights. Only Mr. Lynch could correctly emulate the surreal, disjointed mess that has characterized The Greatest Show On Earth. Kyle MacLachlan can play Trump. It will be great.

fark_0PIrTpfv5XC2OLN5myth05vDDLA
Spicer can play himself.

There is no pattern to Trump. His actions don’t have a unified objective. There is no rhyme or reason to much of anything that this administration does. The worst part is that we’re all doomed to this long-form surreal piece of performance art until 2020 (god willing) or Trump’s resignation when he finally gets bored with his own circus. By far, my biggest sympathies have to go out to my friends on the left who still believe that Trump’s impeachment or removal from office is simply a matter of time. Like your worthless fuck-up cousin, Trump continues to walk from disaster to disaster without falling directly into the void. The latest narrative is that Trump will not be able to survive the backlash of his comments about Charlottesville and his departure from office is imminent. Just as it was imminent last month and the month before that. And the months before those.

I dislike Trump as much as the next person, but the constant hyperbolic assertions that THIS is the thing that will bring down Trump or THAT will be the thing that will make his supporters see the light is delusional by this point. Sure, his approval ratings are in the toilet, but that doesn’t mean a whole lot of anything. Both Truman and Bush II had approval ratings that dipped below 25% and they finished their administrations in full. Also keep in mind one of them nuked Japan twice and the other is responsible for fucking the entire geopolitical sphere going into the 21st century. I’m just working with the examples I have, yo.

All this noise is just meant to distract us all from the real bullshit. The de-regulation of environmental agencies, the extension of our endless military involvement in Afghanistan, the crackdown on illegal immigrants, these are all things that have become background noise while the talking heads on CNN and House Democrats speculate about pee tapes and hidden Russian agendas. And yes, I place heavy blame on the media and Democratic politicians who continually take the bait and jump from controversy to controversy like a dog following a laser pointer.

giphy
Pictured: Democratic Representative hearing the latest Russia brief.

On a tangential note, has anyone else noticed that Bernie Sanders is now the designated attack dog for the Democratic Party? When Trump does a boo-boo, you can always bet that Bernie will be the first one out with a vicious quotation perfect for some clickbait. This is apparently his consolation prize for the primary election while Hillary spends the next four years watching How Stella Got Her Groove Back. Obviously, they’re trying to keep their young talent like Cory Booker as untouched and sterile as possible going into the next election cycle. It’s still annoying and cowardly as shit. But we’ll leave that for another post. I digress.

The only thing that remains consistent about this chaotic administration is the cycle of outrage and scandal that surrounds it. We had about a week of peace and quiet and normalcy, then Trump announced the travel ban, Pandora opened the box, and all Hell broke loose. Thus, the Trump Outrage Cycle was born.

At the beginning of the year, I theorized what a model of this cycle would look like and I’m proud to say that it has held quite firm. I have refined it slightly in light of reality. Since it is the most recent and outrageous, we will use Charlottesville as the model.

angry_trump_0

Step 1: Trump does/says a Thing. It is bad.

After taking his sweet ass time, Donald Trump issues a statement after the violence at Charlottesville, blaming both sides.

Step 2: Media and people speculate the implications of Trump Thing and whether it could result in impeachment/war/unrest/Armageddon.

The media and others use the President’s soft language and lack of timely response as proof that he may sympathize with Nazis or white supremacists, thus steering the conversation away from America’s deep-rooted, complicated race problem and back toward our Celebrity King President.

Step 3: Trump doubles down on Trump Thing in response to negative reactions.

Trump goes “off script” during a press conference and lays blame for the violence on the counter-protestors says there were “very fine people” on the side of the Nazis. Everyone in the administration puts on their best “shocked” faces. People tweet John Kelly’s facial expressions.

Step 4: More people react. More articles are written. More pundits hyperventilate. “Action” is taken.

Chaos ensues. Mass hysteria. The President has verbally thrown his hat in with Nazis and white supremacists. His business council finally gets tired of the charade and leaves. Steve Bannon leaves. Some Confederate mounments leave. Nothing of actual substance is accomplished.

Step 5: Trump does/says a New Thing. It is also bad. Repeat Steps 2-4.

Trump pardons Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Restart the film.


This model applies to Russia, our clashes with North Korea, his responses to global terrorism, transgender policy in the military, and pretty much everything else that has been in our national headlines up to this point.

Most typically it repeats itself in 2-3 day cycles. In the case of something extreme like Charlottesville or the firing of James Comey, it can go up to two weeks before being replaced by the new, sexy scandal. Already, the storm of Charlottesville has subsided with the exorcism dismissal of Steven Bannon and the removal of some shitty Confederate statues. Meanwhile the cannons are being reloaded for the new outrage.

Admittedly, these superficial actions are still good things in the sense that popping a zit is a good thing. But removing Confederate monuments does nothing to address the economic and social problems faced by minorities in this country. Removing Steve Bannon from his position does not make the Trump administration anymore sane or stable. It just means that the White House staff fridge will finally stop running out of Mountain Dew. It’s a public relations Band-Aid at best and pageantry at worst.


So what’s the point of all this?

The point is to not get distracted. Our leaders have always hidden behind a facade. Dubya was a good ol’ boy from Texas who just happened to be a politician. He was also a crony to big oil and a tool for the religious right. Obama was the social media savvy, inspirational city leader in whom we could invest our trust. He is also responsible for stepping up our drone program that has killed hundreds, if not thousands, of innocent civilians worldwide. Donald Trump’s facade, apparently, is that of a rich, bloated, fuck-up machine. True to life as it may be, it’s important that we recognize that these scandals are an exhaustion tactic. Like a primetime TV show that’s losing steam, it’s just throwing garbage upon garbage on to see how far we’re willing to drop our standards.

636358406955467252

By the time Trump leaves office, we’ll be so shell shocked and worn down that our only criteria to be a statesman in this country will be “not being explicitly racist” or “capable of stringing three coherent thoughts together”. Good standards, to be sure, but certainly not high ones. We need to ask more of our politicians and media. I’m not talking about Trump anymore. I’m talking about how we perceive politicians and the issues in a post-Trump world. We cannot stay continually vigilant only when and where the media tells us. We cannot sensationalize and hyperbolize. We must ignore the words of the pundits and instead watch the actions of our politicians. That’s the only way to hold them all accountable in 2018 and 2020. Because the first step to getting the bad guys out is identifying who the good guys are.

Concerning Comeymania, Chaos, and the Greatest Show On Earth

It’s June baby! You know what that means! It’s time to unleash those beach bodies, hit the highways with the top down, and bear direct witness to the very fabric of our democracy melting like a Hershey’s kiss in a sumo wrestler’s ass crack.

Welcome to the Cruel Summer 2017.

What a time to be alive. We’ll surely be telling our kids about these tumultuous times in the decades to come, provided we are not annihilated in a nuclear holocaust/murdered by domestic militia/underwater. I knew upon Trump’s election that we would soon be living in Bizarro Circus Reality, but I had no idea how deep the rabbit hole would take us.

Writing a humorous, politically-minded blog has been a rough sell for your boy since January. It’s hard to digest all of the absurd, outrageous, unbelievable shit that’s taken place since the inauguration and somehow make it funnier. It’s an exercise in redundancy. Like trying to tell a funny story about a friend at a party, only to have him steal the attention from you by lip syncing “Despacito” in drag while twirling a fidget spinner on his dick. Useless. What’s the use of pissing on something that is so proudly Shit Mountain?

pile_of_shit
Me reading the news.

It reminds me of the end of the Bush Administration when it wasn’t a question of whether you hated the president, but how much you hated him. The major difference between Bush II and Trump lies in its dramatic arc. Bush had the classic story of a man going from generally tolerated (the highest aspiration of any American politician) to being nationally despised to the point where his own party members would not seek his endorsement. It was kinda like King Lear with less sibling rivalry and more Karl Rove.

Trump is not King Lear. Trump’s closest Shakespearean archetype is Richard III: A hunchback that is so shamelessly evil that you almost end up rooting for him and his malevolent scheming (important distinction: Richard was an evil genius, Trump is a dolt). He came in pre-hated. You knew he was a turd before he was finished with his opening monologue. You spend the entire play waiting for the bastard to get his comeuppance. Sound familiar? These stories are timeless for a reason.

Trump’s presidency has done exactly what his election was intended to do and and has created a hurricane of media sensation so powerful that it’s impossible to discern fact from fiction. Truth itself has been obfuscated and corrupted to the point of meaninglessness. You almost have to respect his dedication to the craft. He’s a one-man primetime storyline machine. We’re not even settled in our chairs from the last crazy thing (pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement) before we’re jolted sideways by the next crazy thing (talking shit on the London mayor on Twitter after a terrorist attack). It’s like watching Jackass but instead of watching a guy let a donkey kick him in the balls, we’re watching Trump shove the PM of Montenegro.

Less than six months removed from the inauguration, and already we’ve hit the point where James Comey’s testimony in front of Congress tomorrow has become the Media Event Of The Year. CNN has rolled out the countdown timer that it only uses for special occasions, bars are being opened early so people can get bombed before noon while watching the hearing, and the major networks will show the hearing instead of their normal programming. It’s chaos and madness and so thoroughly American that I have to take quiet moments of patriotic pride during the day to appreciate how far we’ve come from a bunch of shivering, starvation-wracked puritans that couldn’t even figure out how to grow fucking corn to this lurching behemoth of excess and sensationalism that we all know and hate/love today.

attack-on-titan20
America.

Will Trump get impeached? Will he be absolved? Who is guilty? Who is innocent? Is Ivanka actually pregnant with Jared’s baby or is it actually Justin Trudeau’s? What is Steve Bannon really doing in the basement all the time? Is Jeff Sessions just a mystical forest elf that only Donald can see? WHERE ON EARTH IS MELANIA?! Tune in next week to find out on a new episode of AMERICA! 

It’s clear by now that the question of whether Donald Trump is guilty of impeachable offenses is almost irrelevant. The Trump Administration will not end after the Comey testimony, nor will it end after any other bombshell leak to the media. The Trump Administration will end after every ounce of political capital and television-flavored controversy have been sucked from his body and he is finally forced to give his resignation speech while hidden under tiny dark robes and swaddled in the arms of Sean Spicer like Voldemort Baby.

The bubbling optimist in me that I have tried to murder with cynicism and punk rock truly hopes that something concrete and shattering comes out of the Comey hearing. Enough to single-handedly throw Trump, Pence, Sessions, Ryan, Preibus, McConnell, and the whole wacky gang in prison until Star Wars Episode XXXIV is released on hologram or Space Blu-Ray or whatever the fuck we’re using to watch shit by then. It would be a nice validation of the thought that this is a country built on justice and truth, rather than media narratives and keeping the public placated with political soap operas.

But I also know in my gut that this will largely do nothing but generate even more sexy media controversy. His testimony will be damning enough to keep the CNN Outragebots fueled for another month but ambiguous enough that the issue will remain a political football until the next major controversy or catastrophe happens. Or another plane goes missing.

And I wish that I could occupy an ethical high ground here and cast judgement on all these proceedings. But I can’t. Not only because I lack ethics but also because I buy into this shit just as hard as all of you. Probably more. Don’t get it twisted: Politics is the greatest show on Earth and we are its gawking spectators.

20170310_wm33_card-94af2fca89f4a6269f1415e03f0993a6
A close second.

I hope you all tune in for the hearings tomorrow with snacks and your intoxicant of choice. It’s gonna be a long one.

PS: I solemnly swear to update more frequently. I forgot theatre life is grind life. Ciao boys and girls.

The Snake That Eats Itself: The Plight of American Opposition Politics

The Egyptians are notable for creating dozens of powerful images that have withstood the test of time. The Eye of Horus, the Ankh, the Scarab, not to mention their dozens of divine representations that have served as inspiration to countless ancient furries. Amongst their more obscure symbols, and the centerpiece of today’s diatribe, was the Ouroboros: A snake that eats its own tail.

ouroboros4
I call him Steve.

Over the years, the Ouroboros has been used as a symbol by the Greeks, philosophers, alchemists, and psychiatrists as a symbol for eternity and the cyclical nature of material existence. It’s some deep shit. You’ll get it when you’re high.

Taken much more literally, I find the Ouroboros to be a very appropriate image for the American Left as it currently behaves: A constantly shifting organism whose only constant behavior is its desire to consume itself.

guyfieri
Very much like Guy Fieri.

One of the constants of American politics, in addition to the exploitation of the poor and a two-party system based on identity politics, is the comical lack of ability of left-wingers in this country to collectively band together. Throughout our history, plutocrats have rarely had to flex their own muscles against socialist or populist movements because they generally collapse on their own like a soufflé at a Rob Zombie concert. See: Wall Street, Occupy.

As I said back in December, it’s fundamentally important that we, the noble and unwashed opposition, band together in the face of the teeth-gnashing Conservapocalypse that is nigh upon us. If we’ve learned anything from the election polling numbers (discounting all the illegals and dead folks), it’s that the Anti-Trump population in our country vastly outnumbers the Pro-Trump population. Surely this fact alone should be enough to motivate us all to band together, join hands, and Red Rover-guard the shit out of the oncoming onslaught on women’s rights, health care, the environment, and the dozen other things on our new Republican overlords’ hit list.

Last week we saw a stunning display of solidarity as hundreds of thousands of people gathered across our country to exercise our right to peacefully assemble, hold up traffic, and wear goofy fucking hats.

21-womens-march-pink-01-w710-h473
Find Waldo.

Obviously, I applaud each and every person that came out to these marches. It does a career cynic like myself good to see that kind of cooperation on a massive scale without any kind of major incident to discredit the movement. Look no further than the co-opting by conservative pundits of the beating of a mentally challenged Trump supporter by four black youths as an indicator of the “violent” American Left.

But we don’t need pundits, the police, or Donald Trump to attack our cause. We’ve got well-meaning liberal douchebags on our own side to undermine the whole fucking thing for us.

It did not take long after the march for the thinkpieces and social media screeds to roll in from members of our own opposition decrying the movement for not being “inclusive enough” to members of the trans community or to people of color. They’ve already begun sewing the seeds of shame (the neoprogressive weapon of choice) for the people that marched last week, derisively asking what they hope to accomplish after the march now that it’s over. Never mind the fact that it was the largest gathering of protestors in American history. Never mind the fact that it all started as a largely spontaneous and hastily-thrown together event on social media. Never mind the fact that our actual fucking enemies are in power as we speak. Never mind any of those things. THERE’S SHAMING TO BE DONE ON SOCIAL MEDIA DAMNIT! GIVE ME MORE LIKES AND SHARES!

6gjwk
Social Media’s Game of Thrones.

I am perhaps expressing an unpopular opinion here, but I am sick to fucking death of the holier-than-thou horseshit attitude that has pervaded progressive politics. It’s a goddamn cancer that will devour us from the inside. Actually advancing an agenda or crafting a unified community has taken a backseat to an ever-building need to assert the moral high ground over one another. Feel like the rally wasn’t inclusive enough? Cool. Host your own fucking rally then. Call it the “One Billion Strong Trans-Queer-Straight-Colored-Mexo-Indigenous-Albino-Female-Male-1940’s-Fighter-Jet -Alliance March”. Call it the Super Bowl. Call it Wrestlemania. Invite all your friends, your friends’ friends, and their friends too. But until then, shut the ever loving fuck up and stop criticizing every goddamn thing because it doesn’t fit into your halcyon Eden hallucination of what a liberal movement in our country should be.

n2hhlyshn6plinfzehn7

The above picture is a perfect manifestation of what I’m talking about. Let me be clear and say that I don’t disagree with Angela Peoples’ presence at the march or her right to carry that sign around. However, I do believe that this is the exact rhetoric that needs to go away in order to move forward with a progressive movement. Exploiting the already-tired statistic that 53% of white women voted for Trump does nothing but create further division and antagonism between marginalized communities. It’s obvious that none of the women present at the march voted for Trump, so why use a sign that’s obviously intended to condemn or shame an entire group of people? Does that not defeat the entire purpose of “inclusion” or am I just taking crazy pills here?

Angela Peoples’ later gave an interview about the sign, saying that it was intended to make white women aware of their privilege and benefit to the pre-existing patriarchy and white supremacy culture that gave us Donald Trump to begin with. This is a fair point to make. There’s no question the turnout for the march was overwhelmingly white and upper-class. But that sign didn’t come with a footnote at the bottom that explained that shit. Instead it was just more incendiary rhetoric that superficially divides us all on color lines. Couldn’t there have been something written that communicated the same point to allies and potential allies without being so damn antagonistic?

This brings us full circle (*rimshot*) to the image of the Ouroboros. Last week’s gathering proved we have more than enough people to form a core opposition. Believe it or not, we still live in a democracy. There’s been a lot of talk since the election of people being “scared” or “helpless”. We seem to have forgotten that this is still our country. Not Trump’s country. Not Congress’ country. Not Russia’s country. We still possess the power to rise up and alter the direction of our country. This has been demonstrated countless times in our nation’s history. Our biggest enemy is ourselves and those that seek to undermine and sew dissent in our own ranks. We must stop eating ourselves.

It’s a big fat cliché, but the time has come to lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way. This is no longer the time to nitpick the progressive movement in our country. That ship sailed on November 8th when Hillary lost and the Republicans got a free reign to do whatever the hell they want in Congress for the next two years. We need two things right now: A set of objectives and a leader. We already have the numbers.

It’s time to stop squabbling and get action.

Your Dumb Idiot Guide To The Russian Hacking Scandal

The 2016 presidential election was finished and called before midnight on November 8th, but you wouldn’t know it from reading the headlines this month. We’re almost three weeks removed from Trump’s inauguration and the nation is still balls-deep in election related controversy. In attempts to make sense of Trump’s upset victory, we’ve had to endure a cacophony of narratives and faux-intellectual explanations to account for the abject failure of the Democratic Party to win a presidential election (again). In no particular order, I’ve seen blame placed on Bernie supporters, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, voters who stayed home, fake news, millennials, racism, sexism, voter suppression, the electoral college, James Comey, Mercury being in retrograde, Frank Underwood, the Jews, the lost city of Atlantis, and Loki the Trickster God.

loki-with-a-fishnet_0
Is there no end to your reign of mischief?

After a few weeks however, a clear villain and culprit finally emerged: Those damn vodka-chugging, tracksuit-wearing, steroid-injecting Russians. At some point this year, we collectively agreed to pass the American Boogeyman Baton from ISIS back over to Russia. This might have something to do with the fact that it’s very difficult to be afraid of a blood-and-gore-covered crater in the middle of Mosul. Thanks Peshmerga!

Not to say that Russia is a cuddly care bear on the international stage. It doesn’t require a strong degree in Google-Fu to find evidence of Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchy engaging in systemic oppression of its own people, media suppression, threatening the sovereignty of neighboring countries, and just general dickishness. Just ask the people of Aleppo.

before-after-war-photos-aleppo-syria-fb1__700
If you can find any.

It hasn’t helped matters that Donald Trump has his fair share of direct and indirect connections with our rivals from the East. This can be seen through his possible financial ties with Russian investors, a budding internet romance with Putin, and the very apparent connections between Moscow and his future Secretary of State/Exxon CEO/90’s movie villain Rex Tillerson.

SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE HEARING ON 'OIL AND GAS TAX INCENTIVES AND RISING ENERGY PRICES'
Rex Tillerson contemplating how he will knock down the local dog shelter and replace it with a Mondo Burger.

All of these factors make Russia a very convenient culprit and scapegoat for the election’s result. I remain skeptical for a few reasons, if you haven’t guessed by now. For example, I’m not sure how those hackers were able to convince Hillary to avoid campaigning in the Rust Belt, but I guess that shows how much I know about computers.

There’s a lot of misinformation and general hysteria surrounding the whole affair so I would like to do my part by demystifying all the techno jargon and booga-booga rhetoric that has gone around in the last few days, especially in light of Obama’s recent “aggressive” actions against the Kremlin that are already filling people with visions of WW3 and mushroom clouds on the horizon. As if this year couldn’t get more stressful.

So: What the hell happened exactly?

The thesis of Obama, the DNC, and the mainstream media’s narrative has been that the Russians “hacked” the election to give Trump the winning edge. Although technically true, it also reeks of political doublespeak. Using the term “hacker” immediately brings to mind dozens of Russian blackhats that possibly look like Chris Hemsworth hunkered down in a bunker somewhere creating fake votes for Trump and deleting legitimate Hillary votes in swing states like Ohio and Pennsylvania. Obviously if that were the case then we would be in for some major shit as a country. It would also kinda takes the piss out of that allegedly über-powerful NSA that Edward Snowden (remember him?) warned us about back in 2013. I mean, if we’re doing some Dark Knight level surveillance on our entire country then surely we would be able to catch something like that, right?

nsa
Worst Big Brother ever.

The truth, as usual, is a little less sensational and sexy.

That’s because the root of the entire hack was the leak of the DNC emails in July that essentially revealed the institutional bias against the Bernie Sanders campaign and the various ways in which establishment Democrats were more concerned with giving out party favors to big money donors than actually advancing the will of the people. This was probably not a shock to anyone paying attention (including Bernie Sanders), but it certainly didn’t do the Hillary campaign any favors in changing her reputation as a stooge for Wall Street.

I’m going to make a bold assertion when I say that these revelations may have been detrimental to the Clinton campaign, but they were hardly the deciding factor. It’s very important to remember that there’s nothing new about these “revelations” of interference in the election. Media outlets were reporting the alleged Russian connection all the way back in July.Of course, it might be easy to forget that fact considering the smorgasbord of pussy-grabbing-emails-nasty-woman-wall-building journalistic insanity that characterized the election cycle. Remember my hydra analogy from my last post? Same principle.

hercules-heads-hydra-03
Hail Hydra.

It wasn’t until the election was over and we needed someone to blame for the loss that suddenly we became concerned about those damned Russians again. The Kremlin has been denying involvement in the hacks, but Putin also claimed that there was no direct Russian involvement in the annexation of the Crimea so I’ll take that with the same healthy cynicism that I would for a toddler who blames the broken vase on the family dog.

Now, this begs the question, how did the hacks happen in the first place? 

Once again, the truth is somewhat boring and conventional. In conjunction with Obama’s actions against Russia yesterday, the FBI and CIA helpfully released a document that illustrates exactly how the Russians were able to worm their way into our tip-top-super-duper-secret-DNC information. In classic form though, the truth is buried in so much techno jargon and HTML speak that it looks like a cross between a laptop’s user manual and your old Myspace layout.

Luckily for you, reader, I’ve studied Shakespeare so I’m hella good at taking archaic terms and reducing them into dumb human speak. Which is exactly what I will do here:

Corbin Reads The CIA Report So You Don’t Have To

Page 1

The first thing to appreciate about the document is that the case is codenamed “GRIZZLY STEPPE” which adds an extra layer of menace to the entire affair. Not only are these hackers vicious Chris-Hemsworth-lookalikes-in-bunkers, but in my mind they also ride bears down the sides of mountains in their free time.

bearcavalry
What a hacker might look like.

The first page essentially gives a Sparknotes of the entire document. It can be summed up in the following points.

  1. This is the first time that the CIA/FBI (their own shorthand is JAR for joint-analysis-report) has officially labeled a cyber-attack as sourced from another national entity (i.e. Russia).
  2. There are numerous technical indicators that these hackers are Russian in origin.
  3. The hacks were conducted via a “phishing” campaign which led to a theft of information (i.e. the DNC emails) from government entities.
  4. Cyber-attacks were also conducted against other various foreign nations.
  5. Hackers posed as third parties to disguise their identities.

This means that the Tinderbot that is telling you all about her sexy webcam is probably a Russian hacker. Be warned, fellas.

chrissy-tinder
You’re not fooling me, Pavel.

“So wait, Corbin!”, you might be saying, “does this mean that someone in our government fell for a dumb phishing scam and this is how we’re in this mess?”

That’s exactly what I’m saying.

Pages 2 + 3

The next two pages go into the details of how these hackers were able to extrapolate their data and do their evil hacking thing. The report names two specific groups as responsible parties. I will forgo their official names (APT29 and APT28) because they sound like Aphex Twin track titles. Instead we will call them “Happy Gilmore” and “Little Nicky” because this is my website and I can call them whatever the hell I want. According to the document, we were first aware of Happy Gilmore back in 2015 and Little Nicky in 2016.

Happy Gilmore is the shitty malware website generator (CONGRATULATIONS YOU MAY ALREADY BE A WINNER) and Little Nicky is the nasty phisher that makes the “seems legit” websites based off Happy Gilmore’s intelligence that fool people into entering their card information/password/etc. This one-two punch allows them to harvest information from their targets.

In 2015, Happy Gilmore sent out a bogus email with booby-trapped websites that some unnamed dupes in the DNC fell for and ended up getting malware for Christmas. This information was used by Little Nicky a year later to further advance the con and get their marks to surrender their passwords and upgrade their access from “green belt” to “black belt”.

That’s where the information that made up the DNC leak was accessed.

The report goes on to state that Happy Gilmore and Little Nicky have still been conducting operations as recent as this November. Sleep tight.

Page 4

Page 4 is notable in the sense that it gives a list of users whom the CIA suspect to be perpetrators of the hack. They might also be people who teabagged them in Halo online. It’s hard to tell. There are some pretty sick band names to be found in the list as well, including:

  • Crouching Yeti – Almost definitely a math-rock band.
  • HAMMERTOSS – Punk as fuck.
  • Powershell Backdoor – Grindcore.
  • CHOPSTICK – Probably some autotune guy with an 808 and a Casio keyboard.
  • SYNful Knock – 80’s hair metal revival band.

Take note, aspiring musicians.

Page 5 – 13

The rest of the report is basically a “how-to-not-get-phished-like-an-idiot” guide. You may want to take heed if you’re secretly holding some government secrets on your laptop, but otherwise it’s better off skipped.

In summation, yeah, America (or at least the DNC) got hacked. Was it the Russians? Probably, but it’s hard to tell. The problem is that this information is coming to us from the CIA, who has a fairly lengthy history of lying to the American people and fixing elections of their own. Don’t forget that banana republic was an invention of the United States before it was a mediocre mall fixture.

The main lesson to take away from this is that it’s all fun and games when we’re running around and manipulating foreign affairs, but we will call down all the fires of Hell if someone pulls that shit on us. Or at least some heavy sanctions, which is the closest that we really get to aggressive action anymore without calling in the drone patrol.

Until next time kiddos. Ciao.

Land of Confusion: How We Overcome Post Election Derangement Syndrome

It’s been a hell of a ride, America. Remember last December when I posted my guide to the presidential primaries and everything seemed so light and innocent? We were all fresh-faced, filled with hope, and the biggest burning question on our minds was whether the new Star Wars movie would be any good or not (Also: Who is Jim Gilmore?). Boy, those sure were the days.

Then the Fire Nation attacked.

skyline-buildings-new-york-skyscrapers
Social Media circa December 2015
irj1v
Social Media circa December 2016

 

There’s no question that this has been a goddamn demoralizing year for a lot of us. We witnessed the deaths of too many cherished icons (Bowie, Prince, Jeb Bush’s political career), helplessly observed senseless tragedies far and wide, then there’s the small matter of our new commander-in-chief being a reality TV star of extremely dubious credentials. If 2016 were a movie I would probably walk out halfway through because I’d find it too unrealistic. Like, really, how could people care that much about a fucking gorilla.

But in all seriousness, the catastrophic amount of doom, gloom, and resignation amongst my peers and friends in light of the election has reached a peak saturation point. I can’t deal with this shit anymore, ya’ll. I could spend an hour listening to Morrissey read Joy Division lyrics to the musical accompaniment of Swans and leave in a better mood than I would after just ten minutes on an average Facebook feed. It’s time to put on our Big Progressive Diapers and stop mucking around our social media platform of choice in a self-perpetuating negative funk. You all sound like Denethor when Grond is about to break through the walls of Minis Tirith.

tumblr_m7ukkgwtyy1qgzqnco2_250
All your friends.

A rational person would say: “Corbin, get off the Internet. Delete your social media accounts. Go outside. Build a yurt somewhere in the mountains. Learn to tan hides and make artisanal honey. Save yourself.

To that I say: Fuck you, coward. I’m here to fight for the collective unconsciousness. Now bring me my longsword or GTFO.

True: The world is garbage sauce and populated with human-shaped trash pieces. Our government and institutions are broken jokes on wheels. We will soon have a Twitter-addicted cartoon character as our fearless leader. Our mass media has morphed into an Orwellian nightmare. But to paraphrase Genesis (the cool one): This is the world we live in and this is the hand we get. So I hope you all pound those shots and break some shit in the next week and a half folks, because we got some fucking work to do in the coming years. Like Rihanna/Drake levels of work. Probably more.

I say “we” because I still consider myself a drum-pounding member of the progressive left wing. It’s been a little rough going these last couple months as we’ve begun eating our own in response to Trump’s election (more on that later), but I’m used to belonging to a group of self-hating losers. Comes with the territory of being a sports fan from the Midwest.

kansas-city-royals13
At least until recently.

So where do we start? Simple. Stop sharing apocalyptic news items on your mini-feed as if that’s going to prevent the End Of Days. Stop getting into circular online slap fights with your friends’ Uncle Roy/Aunt Marie from Tulsa over gender binaries. Stop talking about fucking Russia or abolishing the electoral college. That’s the kind of stuff that creates the illusion of doing something about the situation. Let’s talk about real action and real solutions.

Understand kids, they want us scared. They want us demoralized. They want us fighting amongst ourselves. That’s how the shadowy greed cabal that actually runs this country has maintained power since our inception and the game still hasn’t changed. Let’s break the cycle and evolve.

I suppose we might as well begin this savage arrow to the heart of our cultural discourse by confronting the big fat orange elephant in the room.

donald_trump_bio

If I can help it, I’m planning to only use pictures of Donald Trump from his many appearances in pro wrestling on this blog. The reason for this is twofold. First: the lulz. Second: To remind everyone that Donald Trump is a celebrity-joke-puppet-bobblehead and not some fearsome authoritarian monolith to cower from. I never thought I would live in a universe where so many people were collectively shitting their pants over a man that once put on bib overalls to sing the Green Acres theme song with Megan Mullally on national television, yet here we are.

static1-squarespace
Hitler.

For the record, I did indeed vote for Hillary. It took a lot of self-convincing and exasperated sighs on my drive to the polling station, but I did the damn thing. No mistake, I was as shocked and non-plussed as the rest of us on Election Night. Until the day I die, I will always remember watching mass media melt down in real time as they realized the world was going off the script they had written for us years ago. I recall watching Stephen Colbert getting hammered on-camera while talking about his mom in stunned grief and thinking “this is fucking surreal”. That’s when I realized we were moving into a whole new paradigm as a country.

Whether the election was legitimate or not is completely tangential to our current situation. I will say that my fury at Hillary Clinton and the DNC for squandering the easiest fucking election in history is enough to drive my blood pressure through the roof, but I won’t dwell on it. Hindsight is not the focus here.

.

.

.

.

OK. I lied. I need to get this off my chest: Fuck Hillary, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, and the DNC. Fuck them and their hubris and their focus groups and their lazy dickless campaign that took millennial/minority votes for granted. Fuck them to the ends of the Earth and back.

.

*flips table*

.

*takes medication*

.

OK. Back to our scheduled deprogramming.

In the moment (defined as the immediate 72 hours after November 8th) it was hard to reconcile Trump’s victory with objective reality. After all, we successfully voted a black man into our highest office not once but twice. Gay marriage was finally approved by the Supreme Court. Weed got legalized in a few states. By all accounts, that should have meant social conservatism has been defeated once and for all, right?

pulse_custom-ef9c584b816dbd65ca1b19dfa92b3b0b43a29546-s900-c85
Right?
568c80ccc3618863028b4580
Right??
237b192800000578-2844491-image-84_1416888576234
RIGHT???

Don’t believe the hype, friends. America is still a country very much invested in its old values and prejudices. Police brutality, racism, anti-LBGTQ sentiment, and systemic oppression of the lower class is still just as American as apple pie and just because Michelle Obama is dancing on Ellen and doing carpool karaoke on primetime TV doesn’t mean shit about fuck.  You’ve been living in a dream world, Neo.

Eight years of borderline-conservative-masquerading-as-progressive leadership with a few token concessions to socially liberal causes doesn’t mean we’ve turned any corners as a nation. Far from it. Donald Trump’s election proved that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Go ahead and drag out the statistics showing Hillary won two million votes more than Trump. Whoop-dee-doo. I’ll show you the electoral map to remind you that America is more than just California and New York. If you reject that logic because you blanket-paint all red states as a bunch of ignorant yodels that listen to country music while fucking their pickup trucks, then you’re part of the damn problem. It’s that smug bubble-enforced attitude that turned the Rust Belt off the Democratic Party in general and lost the election.

Or else you can try to convince me that Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa, and Pennsylvania all became magically racist and bigoted in the last four years.

voldemort_wb_f7_voldemortanddeatheatersinmalfoymanor_still_080615_land
What magical racism might look like.

Trump’s election is a sobering and frightening next step in the direction that our country is heading in terms of how we view our politicians. When I did my guide to the Republican primaries, I wrote that Trump’s political advantage lies in the fact that he’s not beholden to the same code of ethics that other, normal politicians are bound to. When Trump calls an opponent a limp-dick and implies they wet the bed on weekends, his supporters see it as further confirmation that he’s a Real American Who Doesn’t Care What People Say. That’s how marketing works. And it worked well enough to get the man The Big Chair.

The disconnect, of course, lies in the fact that Trump is just as disingenuous as any other politician. His Cabinet appointments (a Suicide Squad hodgepodge of corporate cronies and establishment Republicans) are a good indication of that fact. Trump just sings a different song from the other members of the chorus line so he stands out. All the posturing and aggression and mean tweets and Putin fan-boying is just more red meat for his supporters.

ywytnyytqbcxrkernn5g7wxswmlnamjo_640x360_63948355728
Mr. Sell-Outfane

It also creates a match made in heaven between the future Trump administration and the locust-like hobgoblins that make up the mass media. Behind every hysterical pundit and thinkpiece in the last two months is a group of people secretly celebrating a veritable fucking gold mine of material for the next four/eight years. Back in the Old Times (pre-2016) it used to be the game plan of the media to use celebrity and sensation to distract the public from the malfeasance going on in our federal government. With Trump in office we have cut out the foreplay entirely and CNN can now cover Trump’s behavior with the same kind of breathless fervor that they do whenever Kanye West does literally anything.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and musician Kanye West pose for media at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York City
Game recognizing game.

The three main food groups of the media are Fear, Sensation, and Confrontation. Trump, his cronies, and his message contain all these ingredients like some kind of hellish jambalaya. Just look at what happened when Mike Pence went to go see Hamilton on Broadway  in a totally-not-contrived-move-at-all in the days following the election. The audience reacted in a totally predictable fashion (booing), which gave Team Trump the ammunition they needed to put out an incendiary tweet that caused even more hysteria which led to more reactions which led to more tweets which led to more hysteria and are you starting to see a pattern emerge yet?

I hope you’re all taking notes because this is going to be the song and dance for the next four years:

Step 1: Trump does/says a Thing.

Step 2: People react.

Step 3: One hundred breathless articles are written about the Trump Thing.

Step 4: Pundits spend all day talking about the Trump Thing.

Step 5: Trump doubles down on Trump Thing in response to reaction.

Step 6: More people react. More articles are written. More pundits hyperventilate.

Step 7: Trump does/says a New Thing.

Step 8: Repeat cycle until I shoot my television and throw my computer at moving cars.

What this means for us, the lowly proletariat on the ground, is that we need to detach from this endless cycle of outrage/tweet/outrage because it will soon obfuscate the entire conversation. That means we need to begin analyzing the news with a critical eye and be able to discern what’s worthy of our attention and outrage. Imagine the Trump-backed media like a many-headed hydra. Every time one outrage is sorted out, three more appear in its place. If we keep trying to respond to every single little thing the man does, we’re going to wear ourselves out and look like dumb Chicken Littles in the process.

hercules-heads-hydra-03
Pick one.

Understand: The President is not God-King-Xerxes. We fought a whole war against England to buck that kind of leadership. Just because Trump tweets something negative about SNL doesn’t mean that he’s going to use his Evil Presidential Powers to shut down NBC. Trump making a statement about building up our nuclear arsenal does not automatically spawn 1,000 more Hellfire missiles pointed at China. There’s still a Congress full of ineffectual politicians that are still bound by the traditional rules of engagement that he has to work through in order to make any of these things come to pass. For once, we can take pride and solace in our government’s twisted bureaucracy.

There’s been a lot of talk post-election comparing Trump’s rise to power to Hitler’s rise to power. Superficially, I can see the similarities in the same way I can see how A New Hope and The Force Awakens are similar. It’s a basic example of taking a logical, arguable premise (Trump is a not-good person) and pushing it into absurd territory (Trump is definitely Mecha-Hitler). It is in fact possible to oppose somebody and their views without resorting to Godwin’s Law.

Donald Trump, Vince McMahon, Bobby Lashley, Stone Cold Steve Austin
Hitler.

I’m not telling you to go back to bed. Far from it. Obviously we should be worried and ill-at-ease. These are troubling times. It’s a time of great instability and uncertainty in our world and we’ve elected an empty suit con-man at best and a bigoted authoritarian at worst. But shitting our pants and losing our minds over every little thing will do nothing but drive up our blood pressure and leave us all dead (inside) of heart attacks by the time we get to the end of 2017. And that’s when they’ve actually won.

So what now?

We get involved. We get engaged. We get action. We stick together. This is the great test of our generation, guys and gals. The time for apathy and half-hearted engagements is over. We can’t look to Bernie Sanders, the Obamas, Elizabeth Warren, or any other figures of the establishment as our allies. Inspiration, surely. But if we’ve learned anything from this election, it’s that our politicians and system have failed us. We’ve spent our entire lives believing that our agency has been surrendered to these people, but the fact is that we are the ones with the power. The fact that Trump was able to defeat a billion dollar campaign with the backing of nearly every major establishment politician, celebrity, and media institution in our country is an indication of that fact. If the Illuminati is real then they fucking suck at their job. Bunch of goat-worshipping slackers if you ask me.

illuminati-theme-gc13
Do better next time you robe-wearing fops.

But we have to, have to, have to stick together and get on the same page. And that means putting aside our petty human desire to be right and correct and polite all the damn time. Immediately after Trump’s election, there was a whole wave of suggestions that we begin wearing safety pins on our person to communicate to others that we are allies to groups that might be oppressed by a newly-emboldened aggro-conservative population. It’s a cute, simple idea that there’s nothing objectively wrong with. Right?

Apparently not. It didn’t take long before social justice warriors began declaring war on one another and mounting a shame campaign against those that chose to don the safety pin, citing “white guilt” or some other “No-True-Scotsman” horseshit. The message was obvious: I’m a better activist than you and this is why. It makes me sick on a spiritual level that even in this dark time of national uncertainty, there’s still people on the left that feel the need to assert their faux-moral superiority over others, even when it’s something as simple as wearing a fucking safety pin. Really, are you that goddamn insecure?

It’s my professional opinion as a human being that you are free to go about your activism in whatever way you see fit. If it means wearing a safety pin, wear a safety pin. If it means wearing some goofy hat, wear a goofy hat. Chase your bliss. At the very least it’s a fucking start. What I cannot stand is watching us get into these absolutely petty conflicts that bring fucking nothing to the table except shame and silence. Some people are being turned on and engaged to our social movements for the first (and possibly only) time in their lives and you’re shutting them out because they’re not a Social Awareness Level 10 with a secret decoder ring and badge? And you call the other side fascist? Please.

So can we agree to not be douchebags to one another since we’re all on the same team? Yeah? We cool? Great. Moving on.

Going further, it’s important that we continue to engage with our fellow citizens and our community. That means getting out of our safety bubble and interacting with our big ugly world. It can mean attending city council meetings, supporting local artists and musicians, or just getting to know the yodel next to you on the bus. If it turns out that person is a Trump supporter or has otherwise opposing views from you, don’t go on the attack. Find out why they feel that way. Earnestly engage them. Approach them from a position of human-interacting-with-humans, rather than somebody with a personal axe to grind. As a liberal that grew up in the same Rust Belt that elected Trump, it’s a skill I’m very familiar with. Knowing the mindset of the opposition is essential. I’m not saying you need to love your enemy, but you can learn their name at the very least. Remember, knowledge is power.

47000010-cached
Represent.

What we cannot do, however, is either lull ourselves back into complacency or fear ourselves into paralysis. That’s how we lose. I’ll be doing my part by putting this little piece of online real estate back to work at dispensing rage and social criticism with corresponding dick jokes and pop culture references. I’m sure there will be no shortage of material in the coming months and years as we enter our Brave New World.

Have a happy holiday season, stay vigilant, listen to the new Run the Jewels album because it’s dope as fuck, and pour one out for Harambe.

I’ll see you all in the New Year. Clean, mean, and ready to fuck shit up.

Ciao.

 

59. This Rotten Election Part 2: Your Guide to the Democratic Primaries

I would like to begin with a short rant about the Democratic Party. I know it’s hard to look away from the war-drum-banging-border-wall-building-Obaaaamacare hating gangbang that is the GOP race, but please humor me.

People like to talk shit on the Republican Party a lot. I do it, you do it, anyone with a functioning cerebellum does it. It’s in the same spirit that you would make fun of a drunk uncle or a racist aunt. But I think it’s important that we call a spade a spade and recognize the Democratic Party is primarily composed of wimps, dorks, and stooges who generally get elected to national office by accident. The DNC should thank Political Jesus for sending them a young, charismatic savior in the form of Barack Obama to keep the party’s mojo alive from 2009 until now. Before Obama, the Democrats were a bunch of scattered children whose policies were more dependent on public polls than personal convictions. If they have any convictions at all. Case in point – Even after both (!) of Obama’s successful elections, they refused to associate with him for fear of political reprisal from Republicans.

Like wimps.

It’s because the Republicans convinced the Democrats that Obama was an unpopular president with their classic three-pronged attack of Big Media, amphetamine-fueled pundits, and dark magick. They showed poll after poll showing how a slight majority of America didn’t approve of Obama, causing cowardly Democratic candidates to abandon ship en masse for fear of upsetting the Almighty Poll Gods. They were left with literally no other platform to run on other than “We’re not Republicans”, a dipshit tactic that already failed miserably in the unbelievably disappointing 2004 election.

Say what you will about the Republicans, but at least they have a clearly defined agenda. An evil agenda, but a well-defined one! Democratic values tend to exist in a kind of transparent, amoeba-like cloud that morphs based on how the voting public is polling. That’s why they always get their dicks handed to them in midterm elections when they have no leader or singular point to rally around.

Democrats are like Pikmin in this way.

To give you a sense of the ineptitude, let me elaborate on the 2014 midterm election. In case you forgot what happened leading up to those midterms, the Republicans in Congress shut down the government and almost nearly plunged the entire world into economic chaos less than a year before the election. And the Democrats STILL couldn’t figure out how to beat them. It would be like having a twin brother wreck the family car, but your parents still buy him a car instead of you because they still don’t consider you trustworthy enough.

Say what you will about the GOP, but their ability to pull their dysfunctional shit together in time for every Thanksgiving election season is the main reason their brand is still relevant in our national government. This year, their stakes are higher than ever. In the 2016 election, their very existence is at stake. One more election cycle without the executive office means the GOP will likely eat itself in a conservative feeding frenzy that will tear the party apart. Romney’s loss in 2012 was blamed on him being too moderate. Yes, I’m serious. This year it’s a hardcore-conservative or bust. Even the current chaos taking place in the House will clear up in time for them to rally and vote lock step behind their Chosen One in the national. The GOP in the 2016 election will be like Frieza at the very end of his apocalyptic battle on Namek. Bloated with power, money, and hatred, they don’t give a damn whether they blow up the entire planet if it means victory against the hated Goku Democrats.

Start charging your Spirit Bomb, America

What does that mean in 2016? It means that whoever the Democrats end up nominating in 2016 needs to create a voter base that’s just as enthusiastic and motivated as the Republicans if they want to win. It means having a message. It means having an identity. It means having the constitution to withstand the ten plagues, demonic hellfire, and the armies of Hades that the GOP will unleash to take what back what belongs to them. And most of all it means getting people off their lazy asses to vote.

Let’s see if any of our contestants are up to the task:

THE DEMOCRATIC NOMINEES

MARTIN “Junior” O’MALLEY

Martin O’Malley is the new heir to the John Edwards Award for most handsome presidential candidate, narrowly beating out Carly Fiorina. Let’s hope his career doesn’t take the same path as Mr. Edwards. He’s also the only one of the lesser three candidates (the others being Jim “Awkward Dad” Webb and Lincoln “Windsock” Chafee) to survive the initial debate purge. Here’s to you, Mr. Bronze Medal.

O’Malley is the 61st Governor of Maryland and former mayor Baltimore, a city well known for its dedicated commitment to crime and racial tension. His current claim to political fame is the implementation and development of CitiStat (and later its larger brother StateStat), a kind of comprehensive data compilation tool that allows a government agency like the police department to keep accurate records of crime, police response, and accountability across the city. Originally devleoped for use by the NYPD,  it uses statistics to help monitor and gauge the effectiveness of a police force in areas that are crime hotspots. On the state level, StateStat creates a massive data portal that allows the public open access to information regarding the government. If you ever have trouble falling asleep, here’s the website.

I like Martin O’Malley a lot for several reasons. First and most importantly: He’s young. This is significant considering the rather advanced age of all the other Democratic candidates. Hillary will be 68 by election time (one year below also-ridiculously-old Reagan when he took office). Sanders will be 75. It illustrates the current problem with the Democratic field: They’re old as fuck. Not Supreme Court level of decrepit, but still pretty crusty.

A young voter’s impression of the Democratic Party.

For a group that strongly depends on young millenial support, it’s important that Democrats begin displaying candidates that look like they won’t be a hindrance in the grocery line. The Dumbledore-on-crank energy displayed by Bernie Sanders is the exception, not the rule. O’Malley represents the next generation of “young” Democrats (he’s 52) that will inherit the Party when the Great Clinton Wars are finally over. Other members of the young Democrats include Cory Booker (Senator from New Jersey and definitely probably a future presidential candidate), Julian Castro (probable running mate for Hillary), and Kirsten Gillibrand (New York Senator).

O’Malley also embraces a progressive agenda that falls somewhere on the spectrum between Hillary and Bernie. He espouses a lot of the traditional liberal (yay gay marriage, boo capital punishment, etc.) values while also keeping his rhetoric anti-corporate enough to appear groovy to the young kids. He did a masterful job during the debates of maintaining a proper, though boring balance between Bernie’s sweeping populism and Hillary’s focus-group approved pragmatism. It helped set him apart from Webb and Chafee’s babbling implosions and it made him look like the only other candidate that deserved to be on that stage next to Hillary and Bernie. It was my first impression of O’Malley outside of internet articles and I found myself extremely impressed.  If I had a political Fantasy Football Team, he would be one of my early draft picks.

Obviously O’Malley has no real shot at the nomination with Berniemania sweeping the nation and Clinton keeping her pimp hand firm on the establishment, but he’s making the right moves to keep himself in our national conversation after the election is over. Playing footsie with Bernie and Hillary, in addition to his pre-existing credentials as a governor, will give him a solid shot at a Cabinet position or even the Vice Presidency if Julian Castro were to spontaneously burst into flames. Weirder things have happened. Right, Sarah?

BERNIE “The Rookie” SANDERS

Newton’s Third Law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This can be demonstrated in how the rabid fanboyism of the American Left has moved from a young, smooth talking black man from Chicago to a prickly old Jewish man from New Hampshire. In the last few months, Bernie has stolen the hearts, minds, and Facebook mini-feeds of progressives across the country with a somehow endearing combination of old man straight talk and manic populist idealism. Bernie’s fanatical devotion to truth telling has won him a considerable amount of support from millenials and older liberals disenchanted with the feckless nature of the modern Democratic Party. It has certainly thrown a bit of a curveball to Hillary’s campaign team, who were really banking on not doing any actual work until at least March. At the very least, we can thank Bernie for ruining their holiday plans.

Millenials in particular have developed a raging obsession with Sanders. It’s certainly understandable. Our generation has been steeped in nihilistic apathy toward politics since the wide-eyed idealism of the Obama presidential campaign gave way to the dead-eyed political swamp of the Obama presidential administration. We’re jaded against most politicians by virtue of their disingenuousness. The one thing that unites almost all the presidential candidates, independent of their political beliefs, is their uniform lack of appeal to young voters. In our life experience, most politicians fall into the realm of either corrupt liars like George W. Bush or out-of-touch suitbots like Hillary Clinton. We don’t have the patience for politics when we’ve emerged from our cocoon of higher education to a world that seems to dismiss our entire existence. Bernie is popular among millenials because he’s the only national politician that will admit everything is fucked and the game is rigged. In a national climate filled with double-speak and teeny baby-steps toward progress, some of us are falling over ourselves to reward this honesty and make this old fuck our KING.

I now present the question that forms the actual point of this particular essay: What will happen to that particular movement when Bernie does not get the Democratic nomination?

I say when rather than if because I think it’s important for us all, particularly Bernie fanatics that are already aiming their hate lasers at my forehead, to acknowledge several points about Sanders, his policies, and the current state of our political system that do not bode well for his chances.  Please understand, I say this as a Bernie supporter. Bumper sticker and everything. I strongly believe in what the man has to say and I support a majority of the policies that he advocates.

“But Corbin!” you might be saying while clutching your precious idealistic pearls, “how can you support Sanders and still criticize him? TAR AND FEATHER THE CONSERVATIVE TRAITOR!

Because I recognize that politicians are human beings with flaws and problems, just like everyone else. It’s why I continue to support Obama despite his tendency to allow drone strikes on hospitals and schools. It’s why I will vote Hillary in the general election, despite the fact that she reminds me of my 7th grade math teacher. There is not a single statesman in our history that was wart-free. Teddy Roosevelt was a bit of a white supremacist. JFK cheated on his wife like it was a sport. Jefferson kept slaves. Abe Lincoln may have issued the Emancipation Proclamation, but the only slaves it emancipated were the ones in the northern, slave-free states. It’s important to acknowledge the negatives about things you support. It’s called having a three-dimensional mind. If you would like to live in an echo chamber that only spoon-feeds you positive things about your chosen candidate while simultaneously shitting on everyone else, then perhaps you should consider switching your allegiance over to Donald Trump and his equally detached supporters when the hammer falls.

1.Bernie’s objectives are symbolic and mostly unrealistic.

Don’t get me wrong, true believers. I believe it’s perfectly rational and doable to increase the minimum wage to $15, provide free tuition for public universities, institute universal health care and childcare, expand Social Security, and celebrate by taxfucking the big banks and Wall Street until they can’t sit down. However, I also understand that we live in an actual living, breathing world and not a colossal version of SimCity where you can just change public policies with a few click tabs and be on your merry socialist way.

Unfortunately.

I want to remind everyone that being president in our country does not automatically make someone God King Xerxes. Back in junior high civics class, you may recall hearing about this system of “checks and balances” that our Founding Fathers built into our national government to ensure that no one branch could become more powerful than the other. I’m sure if they were alive today, those Founding Fathers would have a good chuckle about how that very system is responsible for the gridlocked tire fire that is our current political climate, as demonstrated in this sketch:

How A Bill Becomes A Law, 2014-2015 Edition

House GOP: WE PROPOSE A LAW TO BAN OBAMACARE.

House Dems: Seriously?

House GOP: Never mind, we want to defund Planned Parenthood!

House Dems: WTF why-

House GOP: PASS! WOO! EAT IT, LIBS.

Senate: Guys, this isn’t gonna work. Obama’s gonna veto the shit out of this.

House Dems: That’s what we’re saying.

House GOP: STFU. PASS IT.

Senate: No.

House GOP: PASS IT, FAGS.

Senate: Fuck off, no.

House GOP: You guys suck we’re gonna go crash the economy bye.

Obama: Hey, could you guys do me a favor and pass a budget sometime this year?

House GOP: Your mom.

This is pretty much how our national government has functioned since the 2014 Tea Party Wave. Specifically, it doesn’t.

Must I remind you that it took three years (counting the obligatory legal fuckery in the Supreme Court), hundreds of media tantrums, dozens of backroom negotiations, and at least a few broken pieces of furniture in the White House before we finally passed a Frankenstein-like version of universal health care? And now remember that instituting true universal healthcare is just one of many goals for hypothetical President Sanders when he faces a legislature full of resentful Republicans and reluctant Democrats. The Republicans in particular will be relentless in stonewalling every single step in economic progress that Sanders will push. The only thing that a Republican hates more than a Clinton is a goddamned socialist and they’d rather be dead than see the good ol’ USA turn into a commie hellscape like Denmarkistan.

The desolation of socialism.

It would be one thing if Bernie had fellow Democratic Socialist peers in the legislature that would help push his ideas through Congress, but he doesn’t. Very few Democrats in office would be willing to stick their necks out and risk being labeled a dirty socialist for supporting Bernie policies. Bernie would be a lone, sane man fighting against the multi-trillion dollar Megatron of American Business; not to mention the über-powerful military-industrial complex that would inevitably take the brunt of the budget cuts to provide for Bernie’s pet programs.  It would make for a killer Hollywood movie (possibly starring Tom Hanks), but in reality it would simply be fucking depressing to watch every single one of Bernie Sanders’ dreams crushed against the mighty millstone of our fucked up government, which is exactly what will take place.

Got a problem with it? Next time vote in your mid-term elections, idiot. We have elections every two years, not four. Congressional elections matter just as much as the presidential ones. Remember civics class? They’re the ones that make the laws. That way you don’t have to hedge all your progressive dreams on one politician, you dumb shit.

2. There is no massive conspiracy to keep Bernie from being nominated.

This one is going to hurt. Sorry guys.

Right now the current meme circulating the liberal blog-o-sphere has been the notion that there is a massive media and corporate conspiracy to shut Bernie Sanders out of the nomination process so that Hillary can waltz to the nomination without getting any blood on her pantsuit. After the Democratic debates, there was a firestorm of posts from the Bernie fan club about how Bernie won every online poll regarding the debate, yet strangely the media was still reporting that Hillary won the debate. Clearly the work of the sinister Illuminati keeping the common people down.

Now let’s think about this logically for one moment, shall we? You cannot deny that Sanders’ most enthusiastic support comes from people on the internet. Liking Bernie is the most common trait on social media next to hating Kanye West.  Hop on Facebook or Twitter and you won’t have to scroll for long before you find one of the many meme photos of Bernie gesticulating in elderly fury with accompanying quotations. Mad props to the Bernie campaign team who were able to generate dozens of easily digestible and shareable image macros that perfectly encapsulate his platform.  Take note Hilldawg: That is how you work a social media campaign.

Considering his otherwise-anonymous status in traditional media, it’s reasonable to infer that a vast majority of his supporters exist and operate on the internet. Sooo…if you have a powerful base of extremely vocal, internet savvy diehards, how do you figure any polls based on internet response will break down?

Remember folks, never trust online polls. They’re almost always biased. Usually toward options involving Hitler.

Also known as the 4chan Effect.

Another meme circulating the Bernie-sphere post-debate was the idea that Bernie won the debate simply based on the fact that he was able to appear on national television and spread his message without media censorship. I would be willing to agree with that line of logic if Bernie received a post-debate bump in his numbers that reflected that victory, but he is still losing to Clinton by the same margin that he was nationally and in primary swing states. Sorry guys, back to the drawing board.

Currently, Bernie is polling at least ten points behind Clinton nationally. He stands a fighting chance in Iowa and New Hampshire due to their high population density of his bread-and-butter demographic: Young, middle-class white people. Now that Joe Biden has dropped out of the race, there’s now a significant chunk of Democratic voters that could potentially be convinced to join Team Bernie. In order to do that, Bernie needs to expand his message beyond “Corporations bad, socialist programs good”. Potential voters agree with Bernie on a lot of his points regarding the economy and campaign finance. That was never in doubt. It’s when you look at his other policies that things tend to get a little sketchy. Which brings me to my next point:

3. Bernie is weak on issues other than domestic economic policy.

Watching Bernie in the debate was a rough experience for me. I had no doubt that Bernie would hit all of his marks with wealth inequality, climate change, and campaign finance reform. They’re some of the most important domestic issues facing us today and Bernie knocked those points out of the park.  Unfortunately, I also had to watch Bernie get publicly roasted early in the debate with the two issues that will ultimately cripple him: Gun control and foreign policy.

Gun control is the one area where you can criticize Bernie for not being liberal enough. He has voted to shield gun companies from class action lawsuits, voted against background checks, and has publicly said that gun companies should not be held responsible for mass shooting deaths. Ironically, these are credentials that would make him less scary to a Republican swing voter if it weren’t for that pesky “socialist” thing. And of course it’s the one issue on which Hillary has constantly staked a definitive stance. If it were really a close primary race between Hillary and Bernie, Hillary would just have to put Bernie on the spot about gun control as it relates to the current mass shooting epidemic. Gun control is a thermite-hot button issue for liberal voters and the accompanying media sensationalism alone would take all the piss out of Bernie’s populist messages.

If gun control doesn’t fuck Bernie over in the primaries, then his foreign policy (or lack thereof) will be his undoing in the general. Although Bernie has a lot to say about the things affecting our country on a domestic level, there’s been a noticeable lack of strong statements about America’s role in global affairs. His stated policy of pulling us out of NAFTA, TPP, and other trade agreements would create fairly dramatic waves economically as America would do the equivalent of saying “fuck this guys I’m out” to the world, creating a giant vacuum that other countries will trip over themselves to fill. Remember, we’re living in a global economy now where everything affects everything. You can’t just say “OK, we’re going to completely reverse our entire economic policy” and expect things to be totally bro-chill.

During the debates, Bernie gave the equivalent of “What he/she said” answers regarding Syria, ISIS, and Russia. It suggests a poorly thought out or otherwise nonexistent plan to handle threats to American interests abroad. Although they are, realistically, not even close to the top ten issues facing our nation, they are absolutely issues that the GOP has been exploiting and fear-mongering for years. Half of the Republican debate consisted of candidates stating, in no uncertain terms, that we were all going to fucking die if we did not send troops to combat ISIS in the Middle East while simultaneously challenging and beating Putin in an arm wrestling match. Nothing like good ol’ fashioned machismo to fire up that skittish voting public.

In terms of creating Nostradamus-like visions of the Apocalypse, the only person that can outdo the GOP is Michael Bay. In a hypothetical debate between Bernie and Some Republican Candidate, the Republican will just continually squawk about ISIS sleeper agents and Putin’s ability to go Super Saiyan 4 while Bernie desperately tries to get in a word edge-wise about the fucking economy. Everyone in the media will parrot the meme that Bernie is an international wimp as moderates scare themselves into voting Republican, just like what happened with fucking Kerry. The names have changed but the song remains the same

And finally, let’s be real about something:

4. He’s fucking old, guys.

If elected president, Bernie Sanders will be 75 upon taking the Oath of Office. A single term in office is four years. Think about that for a second. Being president is a job that has been proven to have strong life-sucking qualities. Being in charge of the world’s largest and most pervasive military abroad while also constantly grappling with political enemies at home will put a significant amount of grey in your hair after a certain point. Poor Bernie, if he manages to survive the stress of office, will leave it looking like a combination of the Cryptkeeper and the Babadook. The man deserves better than that.

Bernie Sanders circa 2024.

But mourn not, Bernie supporters. There is victory even in defeat. Bernie has accomplished more than you think. As I previously mentioned, his campaign has displayed a stellar example of how to raise a formidable grassroots campaign without major media backing or funding. The man has raised more money than almost any other political candidate from small donations alone. That’s simply amazing in a post-Citizen’s United world and helps us realize that we, as a collective voice, still command an amazing amount of power in our democracy.

His overwhelming support from millenials should be a tip to aspiring politicians that this is what the future holds for our voting public as we advance farther into the 21st Century. Words like “liberal” or “socialist” no longer carry the Scarlet Letter-connotations that they did decades ago. When Bernie proudly declares himself a Democratic Socialist, it inspires others that hear him and agree to declare it with just as much passion. For once, the left wing in our country has felt empowered and motivated instead of persecuted and stifled. After watching Democrats bend and cower at liberal accusations for the past decade, it’s refreshing to see someone own it without worrying about their political stock price.

I see a generation of future progressives being inspired by Sanders to perpetuate his ideals the same way he did, by speaking truth to power and allowing themselves to become both an instrument and an obstacle to our current political machine. Call me a dreamer, but I think we’ll be feeling the Bern long after this election is over.

HILLARY “Hotline Bling” CLINTON

One thing that all sides can agree on: Hillary Clinton is a polarizing figure. Bring up Clinton in a political discussion and you’re just as likely to trigger a passionate argument among conservatives as you are amongst liberals. Republicans will shriek about her shadiness, her elitism, and Benghazi. Liberals will decry her corporate ties and moan about her obvious disingenuousness. The only candidate that conjures an equally fiery response is Donald Trump. Hillary has been running this campaign for president since 1996, so you would think that she’d have figured out a way to soften those edges by now. So it goes.

We, as a nation, have been collectively preparing ourselves for a Hillary candidacy since she was hilariously beaten by Barack “MVP” Obama back in 2008. Bernie supporters like to draw parallels to 2008 because it had a similar narrative: Hillary’s almost-guaranteed candidacy is threatened and ultimately surpassed by idealistic Senator with grassroots support. As you can see, the Democratic tradition of losing easy elections applies to primary contests as well.

Bernie could never make this dunk.

Hillary’s presence in this election was inevitable from any way you skew it. You’ll be hard pressed to find a person more synonymous with American politics for the last two decades than Hillary Clinton. Her popularity and prominence may fluctuate depending on what mask she’s currently wearing (First Lady, Senator, Secretary of State), but she’s always been a reliable fixture in the scene.  She’s like the Foo Fighters of politicians. All of these titles and jobs have functioned as a grand resumé-building exercise for Hillary’s true objective: Global domination for the mothership. Becoming the first female President of the United States. The Democratic Party has done its part by ensuring that no single Democrat would betray the Clinton campaign by becoming exciting or popular for the past eight years.

The stage had been set for the Clinton Coronation, but then ol’ Bernie Sanders had to burst in, angrily demanding a corned beef on rye with a side order of Progress and now we find ourselves locked in a battle for the Democratic Party’s very soul: Progress versus Pragmatism, Grandpa versus Ex-Wife, Crusty versus Pantsuit.

But before we elaborate on that ultimate showdown of ultimate destiny, let’s revisit everyone’s favorite dysfunctional political goons in the GOP.

No one has been more aware of the doomsday clock to a Hillary candidacy than the Republican Party. Ever since Romney was conclusively beaten by Obama, the GOP has been building up their war chests and re-loading all the weapons for their final assault on the Clinton Fortress. They’ve been preparing for this showdown since 1992, when they looked beyond President Bill Clinton to the real power behind the throne. Republicans have been trying to handicap Clinton for years.  The story of Clinton and the Republican Party is similar in nature to the old Wile E. Coyote/Roadrunner cartoons as the GOP Coyote has tried increasingly more expensive and ludicrous means to trap and destroy the Hillary Roadrunner, only to be blown up or run off a cliff by their own momentum. After dozens of manufactured scandals and political attacks, Hillary remains unscathed.

Just ask Trey Gowdy and his gang of Republican Death Eaters on the House Benghazi Committee about Hillary’s mutant ability to avoid political scandal. Gowdy and his merry band of patriotic Republican peers spent three years building a case against Hillary regarding her conduct as Secretary of State during the extremist attack on the American embassy in Benghazi that left four Americans dead in 2012. This was a very big deal, considering American nationals NEVER die from terrorists anymore. If Benghazi had instead been invaded by a bunch of sexually repressed white teenagers with Wal-Mart purchased assault rifles and online manifestos, it probably would have been laughed off.

Ask any Republican about Benghazi, however, and they’ll tell you that the attack on Benghazi was the worst moment in American foreign policy history. If 9/11 and the Pearl Harbor bombing had a baby that was adopted by the Bay of Pigs, it couldn’t have been worse than the shameless criminal exploits that Obama and Hillary pulled off in Benghazi. What did they do? No fucking clue, but it was criminal goddamnittohell! Behold, the power of FOX News Propaganda.

It was up to the House Benghazi Committee to actually put some substance behind those accusations. Last week, they had the opportunity to put Hillary on the spot on national television with their dramatic findings. Anyone who actually had the stamina to sit through the broadcast were treated to watching Gowdy and the rest of the Republicans clumsily try to pin the deaths of four Americans on Hillary for eleven fucking hours while Hillary sat there like Bender in the Breakfast Club, looking fifty shades of bored.

By the end of the hearings, it was obvious that there was absolutely nothing to these hearings other than trying to sandbag Hillary’s presidential campaign. Just another attempted hatchet job to prevent the conservative Freudian nightmare of a Hillary presidency. It was a clear act of desperation and frustration.The Republican Party did NOT spend eight years chewing shoe leather after letting Obama steal the presidency just to let someone they hate even fucking more waltz into the office DAMNIT.

It’s ironic then that the biggest threat to Hillary’s path to the White House does not lie with Republicans, but with voters in her own party.

Democratic voters have always been a little finicky about Hillary. After all, it’s hard to root for the hero of a story when we know ahead of time that they slay the dragon, get the princess, and live in the castle happily ever after. We want an underdog to root for, not a political poodle that’s been groomed for two decades. We like to see people struggle for our approval. It’s why we love the Cubs and hate the Yankees. Hillary doesn’t need to be popular because she’s so damn good at politics that public opinion almost doesn’t matter.

Essentially, Hillary is the Tom Brady of the Democratic Party. Do we really need to see Tom Brady win again?

Ballghazi

There are a variety of reasons for Democratic voters to be unenthusiastic about a Hillary candidacy. Obviously, there’s nothing particularly exciting about Hillary, other than the obvious milestone of having our first female president. Her pedigree as a career politician assures that Hillary will not be the agent of the zeitgeist that our young people are hoping for. She’s not a young black man from Chicago promising hope, change, and health care reform. She’s not a passionate old Jewish man raging against the machine. She doesn’t glow in the dark or fly. She’s been the mascot of “business as usual” Democratic politics for the last decade. Everybody knows exactly who Hillary is and what she stands for. She’s Doritos. She’s Coke. She’s McDonalds. She’s a proven, established, boring commodity.

Hillary is also sitting at a disadvantage for her extremely Democrat-like tendency to change her political positions based on popular opinion. Previous incarnations of Hillary Clinton voted in favor of the Iraq War and Patriot Act and did not support gay marriage. Most recently, Hillary tried awkwardly to piggy-back on Bernie’s populism by coming out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal that she herself helped negotiate as Secretary of State. You almost have to respect the balls it takes for that level of political doublespeak. Her VIP list of corporate doners is also a giant turn-off to an authenticity-obssessed voting public.

As we have previously established, we’re entering a new cultural paradigm in which voters on both sides of the political spectrum favor authenticity and new ideas over moderation and political pageantry. Donald Trump has been riding the populist wave on the Republican side of the spectrum, whereas the Democratic Party is left in a kind of civil war of demographics. Bernie’s incessant pounding of the populist war drum has brought attention to the qualities about Hillary Clinton that hurt her most with voters: Her lack of common connection to those voters. In doing so, he probably caused more damage to Hillary’s campaign than the Republicans could have ever hoped to achieve.

I’m torn to pieces about the prospect of a Clinton candidacy. I stand by my earlier conclusion that she’s the best candidate to send against the eventual Republican candidate. Hillary was able to clean house against a dozen Republicans in an eleven-hour lumberjack match. A one-on-one with any of the scrubs vying for the Republican nomination would be a cake-walk. Truthfully, a lot of my complaints about Hillary are generally shallow and one-dimensional. I consider her boring.  I don’t like the fact that she has Sara Bareilles on her Spotify playlist. Her pantsuits upset me. She also reminds me of an old math teacher from my middle school years. I feel like I’m not alone in this sentiment.

I am also not looking forward to the inevitable cloud of butthurt rage that will ensue when Hillary inevitably dispatches Bernie in the moment that will break liberal hearts across the country. There’s already talk amongst the more extreme Bernie supporters of not voting in the general if Hillary gets the nomination. This brings me back to my original premise: Democrats are fucking terrible at winning elections. Even with a winning candidate, we still hate her because she’s trying too hard to win. She has too much campaign money. She has too many endorsements. If Hilldawg loses the election, it’s because she will have successfully alienated millennial voters that will forsake the entire election so they can go start a giant drum circle in protest. Great job, Clinton. Now we have a bunch of damn dirty hippies on our hands.

All of this will be on you, Hillary.

I’m no fan of Hillary, but I will go to the voting stations and dutifully pull the crank for candidate Clinton in 2016 so we don’t end up with President Trump trying to build a wall around Texas, President Bush III starting another shady war in the Middle East, or President Cruz blowing up the entire fucking world. Most Democrats will probably do the same. The most important thing to remember going into this election, fellow liberals, is that this election is about holding the ground we’ve gained so far. We’re still a largely conservative nation that is just recently acquainting itself with progressive ideas. All of the gains we’ve made under Obama – gay marriage, marijuana legalization, Obamacare – can just as easily be taken away with a Republican president and newly conservative Supreme Court.

I always support people sticking to their ideals, but let’s not throw out the political baby with the idealistic bath water when Bernie folds. Clinton may be an out-of-touch, corporate shill but she’s our out-of-touch, corporate shill. Most progress in the world is made in baby steps and I would rather continue our slow lurch to rationality than abandon ship just because we’re not moving fast enough. Patience is a virtue, both in life and politics. Believe in the power of the Long Game. In the meantime, enjoy the show. Political theatre makes the best theatre.