Saturday, March 09, 2019

Signing Off For Awhile

I need to take a break from current events.

I wrote this entry a couple of days ago and set it to auto-post so by the time it's online I will be happily playing with my grandchildren and being with my family enjoying our time together. They will, I'm sure, appreciate me not bringing up my half-baked philosophical, religious or political meanderings/rants :-)

I really do need to take a break though...and I'm glad to have that much self-awareness.


That song invariable causes me to tear up for what we lost but no one claimed the world is fair. I get similar feelings that my hard heart is softening when I listen to Hobo's Lullaby or Deportee by Arlo Guthrie.


Jakelin Caal Maquin


We can learn from the Buddhist teachings how to sometimes disengage from the noise of the outside and our inner worlds. When we find that still small place we can appreciate how wonderful life can be right here, right now, with these people, in this place.


Friday, March 08, 2019

How Would Jesus Be Covered by Fox News?

The Pod Save America Podcast devoted part of their show this week to Fox News and it's corrosive effect on democracy. The New Yorker also has a story about corruption at Fox News, and within this administration (surprise), written by Jane Mayer. Finally...I was reading an article with the headline - It's time - high time - to take Fox News's destructive role in America Seriously in the Washington Post this morning.

That got me thinking about how Jesus Christ would be covered on Fox News if he were alive today.

Fox News and the interconnected web of right wing media wrap their product in "patriotism" and "Christianity". In fact what they are selling is neither patriotic (doing what is best for your country out of love for the good things your country stands for) or Christian (if we consider Jesus Christ the spokesperson for that religion).

Fox News talking heads are millionaires paid by billionaires to sow hate and half truths designed to frighten and divide working and middle class Americans into supporting politicians and policies that favor the gilded class. Fox is certainly not alone in this endeavor as there is a well financed web of right wing media that operates symbiotically to further a goal of consolidating wealth and power in the hands of a very few elites. Part of keeping this wealth and power involves redefining, or ignoring what Jesus taught, in order to justify; war and therefore the need for a military industrial complex, capital punishment, discrimination against people of different color, ethnicity, national origin, sex or sexual orientation, glorification of consumerism and ultimately trading the future of the planet for the immediacy of profit.

As a long time consumer of media (right, left, center) I can say nothing - even on the farthest reaches of the left, has encouraged me to hate individuals because they subscribe to some precepts of conservative, libertarian or Republican thinking. There are elements of conservative, libertarian or Republican orthodoxy that a thinking person would find valuable in forming a world view.

The majority of popular media on the right however marinates true believers in a toxic stew of hate, fear and half-truths, to the point where family members turn against family members, friends against friends, fathers against sons, mothers against daughters.

It's all idiotic, ugly, fake and low-brow but I suppose entertaining - and certainly has been effective in allowing the ruling class to maintain power and consolidate wealth and privilege for themselves while turning a blind eye to the 40% of Americans who can't come up with 400 dollars to deal with an emergency expense and the 90% of Americans who see the American Dream fading from sight as they struggle to pay for housing, food, medical care, education, child care...let alone saving anything for retirement.

Fox News and the interconnected web of right wing media have done tremendous damage to the fabric of American society.

Marilynne Robinson writes a heartbreaking recollection of how her mother, by watching Fox News, grew to hate her daughter - Marilynne.

The following quote is from Marilynne Robinson's book "What Are We Doing Here?"
"Toward the end of her life, my mother began to be tormented by anxieties and regrets. I, her daughter, a self-professed liberal, was one of those who had ruined America. I would go to hell for it too, a fact she considered both regrettable and just...A mother less Fox-saturated might have taken satisfaction from degrees and prizes, but to her they were proof that I was in league with the sinister Other....My mother lived out the end of her fortunate life in a state of bitterness and panic, never having had the slightest brush with any experience that would confirm her in these emotions, except of course Fox News."

If any of the people associated with Fox News actually believed in the teachings of Jesus that network would not exist. Of course they don't so it does. Jesus would be labeled a radical, socialist, communist anti-capitalist, bleeding heart liberal and crucified by Fox News, Breitbart etal. if he was alive today. 

When talking about Fox News, something to keep in mind is that Sean Hannity has the most popular show on that channel which draws in about 3 million American viewers, while 138 million Americans voted in the 2016 elections. Not to say Fox doesn't have a big voice with some segment of the population and that Fox is only one cog in a huge interconnected web of right wing propaganda.

Ignoring or redefining the teachings of Jesus is not simply something practiced by the right wing media. NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, MSNBC and popular culture in general have abandoned, or redefined, the radical teaching of Jesus. Living in a society where consumption of goods and accumulation of wealth is considered the ultimate good  is not compatible with what Jesus taught.

I'm certain there are many religious experts who would disagree and point to various Biblical passages to prove that it's okay to kill humans, hate gay and trans people, hate someone with different political or religious beliefs, discriminate against women, or destroy our children's planet. Being a simple person I prefer simple examples of what Jesus taught according the the Gospels.

I believe Jesus had some radical things to teach and  only hope that the misguided souls who accept the cartoon simplicity of Ayn Rand's teaching someday grow up and realize that fate has not treated all human beings as kindly as the Randian adolescents. Adolescents like Donald Trump, Paul Ryan, Andy Puzder and many more. Ayn Rand popularized the idea of makers vs. takers and the virtues of selfishness. Having grown up in a household where my widowed mother received social security survivor benefits and a VA pension to help feed, cloth and house four children, I find the maker/taker argument misguided as well as insulting. I also benefited from the G.I. Bill after serving in the Navy which I suppose makes me more of a taker to the Randian man/children. 

Ayn Rand was also an avowed atheist, not that I'd hold that against her - but somewhat surprising when so many avowed Christian's consider her their lodestar. 


"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me." - 1 Corinthians 13:11

There comes a time in everyone's life to put away the comic books and grow up.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Just In!!! Something From a Dead French Philospher!!!

If you've never heard of the French Philosopher Jacques Ellul that would not be surprising. I stumbled across some of his writings a few years ago. If any book changed the way I look at the world, in this technological age, it would be Jacques Ellul's book "Propaganda - The Formation of Men's Attitudes"

Here's my one cent summary of what that book says,

Hardwired in humans are a set of basic needs that need to be fulfilled in order to be happy. These needs include - to be loved, a sense of belonging, family bonds, a sense of human dignity, and to feel valued and respected as an individual.

Any technology man has created, causes effects to humans that are precisely the opposite of what humans are hardwired to need in order to be happy.

Since this is the case, mankind must be thoroughly and completed immersed in propaganda. The purpose of this total propaganda is to ensure the havoc wreaked on human happiness by technology is never made fully conscious to the individual.

Ellul spends many pages defining propaganda which I won't try to do here. I only mention that because I'm grossly over-simplifying his writings.

There may be some overlap in what Ellul was saying and  the fall of man told in the story of Adam and Eve. Eating from the tree of knowledge might be one way to look at technological development.

I should of said that was my 1% summary of Ellul's book since I probably got one percent of it right, anyway here's what Robert Kirsch from the Los Angeles Times says about the book "Propaganda: The Formation of Men's Attitudes" -

"...a far more frightening work than any of the nightmare novels of George Orwell. With the logic which is the great instrument of French thought, Ellul explores and attempts to prove the thesis that propaganda, whether its ends are demonstrably good or bad, is not only destructive of democracy, it is perhaps the most serious threat to humanity operating in the modern world."

It's not all, that depressing...Jacques Ellul was a deep and pretty unique thinker. He has some fascinating insights about a variety of things. He was very gentle, thoughtful, and Christian in the best sense of the word. If you have a ton of free time and any interest there are a set of lectures about Jacques Ellul from a Kansas State University Political Philosophy class on YouTube.

As much as I like to explore different ideas I think its best to not accept any one persons view and one would be well served by reading Ellul with a skeptic's eye. An uncritical reading of his writings, one could argue, influenced Ted Kaczynski aka the Unabomber. Ted was attracted to Ellul's book "The Technological Society". I haven't read that book but it is discussed in detail in the KSU lectures linked to above. The professor who created those videos has posted lectures on a diverse set topics that are interesting, and at times somewhat challenging to the status quo - thank goodness for public universities. If you like philosophical historical political types of thought..and have a lot of free time to spend on the interwebs this is a good channel to look around in.

The more I think about it...

Maybe a better idea, than doing a lot of research to see if we live in a technocratic dystopia, would be just to love each other and be happy you are alive on this earth.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Let's Talk About Sweden, Denmark and Norway

If you could listen to one Podcast that would help you understand why the U.S.A. is falling behind most other developed nations in education, health care, life expectancy, poverty rates and productivity I would highly recommend listening to this episode from the Podcast "Best of the Left".

The Joy of Tax (Comparing the US and Scandinavian Systems)

You won't hear this version of history from the mainstream media which is unfortunate because without informed citizens we can't have a representative democracy. The plutocrats who bought the politicians and own the media don't want an informed electorate because the system works for them.

I'm sure that sounds wild-eyed and conspiratorial to many people but give the Podcast a listen and see what you think.

Spoiler alert - One of the conclusions near the end of the podcast is that the polarization we see in today's society is actually a good thing because it opens a window for informed citizens to push back against the corporate money and ultra-wealthy individuals who have controlled government since the 1980's.

This polarization provides informed citizens  an opportunity to institute a government that represents the people.

There's a reason Donald Trump said he loves the poorly educated. It's the same reason the GOP, Corporate Democrats and corporate owned media have cultivated a culture of ignorance for the last four decades - because they are owned by the ruling class.


If you have time, and like to read, the book Captured The Corporate Infiltration of American Democracy written by, former federal prosecutor and current Senator from Rhode Island Sheldon Whitehouse, is informative. Here's an interview with Senator Whitehouse about the book on C-Span Book TV. It's almost an hour long - if you don't have that kind of time just listen to the last 2 minutes.

Get Educated - Get Informed - Get Involved - Vote!

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Bark Beetles, Dying Forests and a Warming World

Have you ever driven near, or been in, some forested areas of the United States and wondered why you see so many dead and dying pine trees? Places where you see a green forest filled with patches of brown trees?

In November of 2008 the New York Times published an article titled "Bark Beetles Kill Millions of Acres of Trees in West". The article contains this statement -

"Foresters say the historic outbreak has several causes. Because fires have been suppressed for so long, all forests are roughly the same age, and the trees are big enough to be susceptible to beetles. A decade of drought has weakened the trees. And hard winters have softened, which allows the beetles to flourish and expand their range."

Ten years after that article was published, Diana Six a Professor of Forest Entomology and Pathology at the University of Montana made the short documentary "Life of Pine". In this video she talks about the devastation to forests due to the spread of mountain pine beetles and how that spread is related to a warming planet where droughts are more common and winter temperatures relatively mild.


Our nation deserves leaders who are capable, honest and courageous. Leaders who encourage citizens to be brave and to be bold in addressing our common problems. People who know that the first step to solving a problem is to admit there is a problem.

We've had that type of leader before.

F.D.R. said in his 1932 inaugural address -
"I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our people impel. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."
Thirty years later J.F.K. said in a commencement address to students at American University -
"Let us not be blind to our differences--but let us also direct attention to our common interests and to the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal."

Monday, March 04, 2019

Juliana Vs. United States - Possibly The Most Consequential Court Case in U.S. History

CBS 60 Minutes aired a piece on Climate Change last night. If you have 14 minutes to spend learning a little about the history of climate science and policy in the United States it would be worthwhile to watch.

Some of the key points -

- At it's most basic level this is a case pitting young people concerned about the future of the planet against old people who are willing to gamble with young people's futures to maintain the status quo.

- Julia Olson, an Oregon lawyer, and the executive director of a non-profit legal organization called "Our Children's Trust" began constructing the case eight years ago. She represents twenty one young people who each have stories of how they have been harmed by climate change and will eventually testify at trial.

- Her team has constructed a timeline of what and when past U.S. administrations knew about the connection between fossil fuels and climate change. The timeline goes back over 50 years, beginning with the presidency of Lyndon Johnson in 1965 when the administration was made aware that climate change was a catastrophic threat. Every president since Johnson has been aware of the fact that burning fossil fuels was causing climate change.

- Fifty years of evidence has been amassed by Olson and her team, 36,000 pages in all, to be used in court.

- The legal proceedings have required the government to make some startling admissions in court filings. It now acknowledges that human activity - in particular, elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases - is likely to have been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-1900s… That global carbon dioxide concentrations reached levels unprecedented for at least 2.6 million years… That climate change is increasing the risk of loss of life and the extinction of many species and is associated with increases in hurricane intensity, the frequency of intense storms, heavy precipitation, the loss of sea ice and rising sea levels. And the government acknowledges that climate change's effects on agriculture will have consequences for food scarcity.

- In response to a government attempt to have the case dismissed, Judge Ann Aiken wrote, "Exercising my reasoned judgment, I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society."

- The Trump administration, which is now defending the case, has done everything it can to keep the trial from going forward. It's appealed Judge Aiken's decision three times to the ninth circuit court in California and twice to the Supreme Court. Each time it's failed.

- Julie Olson says, "The government doesn't want the case to go to trial because they will lose on the evidence that will be presented at trial. They know that once you enter that courtroom and your witnesses take the oath to tell the truth and nothing but the truth the facts are the facts and alternative facts are perjury. And so, all of these claims and tweets about climate change not being real, that doesn't hold up in a court of law."

- The next oral arguments in Juliana v. United States are scheduled for June in Portland.


The online after-show interviews are worth watching if you have time. James Hanson's granddaughter is part of the lawsuit. James Hanson was the NASA scientist who warned Congress about the consequences of human caused climate change over 30 years ago and who's predictions have borne out since that time.

Climate change and how society deals with it are extremely complex issues. Most people like to be able to afford to heat their homes and many people have no choice but to drive to and from work. The nations food supply is heavily dependent on the use of fossil fuels. There are legitimate concerns about causing economic upheaval with misguided attempts to stop using fossil fuels without viable plans to deal with the fallout of changing our sources of energy.

On the other hand as Julia Olson says in the 60 Minutes episode, "If we don't address climate change in this country, economists across the board say that we are in for economic crises that we have never seen before."


We will never get anywhere if the debate doesn't include some simple ground rules -

- Agreement on a set of scientifically verifiable facts agreed to by the vast majority of scientists working in the field
- Arguments cannot include finger pointing and charges of hypocrisy aimed at the other side. We are all hypocrites and there are no "sides" when the question is if we want a planet that is habitable for future generations.
- Criticizing a plan to address climate change is not sufficient. Critics must also articulate their alternative plans to address climate change. Ignorance, hand waving, denying science or sticking your head in the sand are not considered viable alternate plans.

The United States needs a massive public service education campaign to inform citizens about what scientists have to tell us about climate change impacting the natural world and what the future will look like if we elect to do nothing. I'm not so sure human nature isn't inclined to do nothing and deal with the consequences as they occur...but at least people will be making an informed decision.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Poverty and Human Rights in the United States of America

The 2018 Report of the U.N. Special Rapporteur - On Extreme Poverty and Human Rights in the United States of America, is interesting to consider if you are open minded. You probably didn't see much about it from corporate media but it is eye opening.

If you prefer to proclaim American Exceptionalism in all things - while refusing to consider the non-mythologized history of the U.S.A. or the current state of affairs for large segments of the population in this new Gilded Age...then the report is probably not for you.

Some people believe this report led to the U.S. discontinuing it's membership on the U.N. Human Rights Council. Criticism of the Trump administrations policy of separating children from their parents by the Human Rights Council was probably a factor in the withdrawal, as well as the official reason given - that the Council was unfair to Israel for criticizing their treatment of Palestinians.

In any event the report is sobering and serves as a good counterpoint to the tired old propaganda the Heritage Foundation has been putting out for decades.


Here are a few samples from the U.N. Report -

"The United States is a land of stark contrasts. It is one of the world’s wealthiest societies, a global leader in many areas, and a land of unsurpassed technological and other forms of innovation. Its corporations are global trendsetters, its civil society is vibrant and sophisticated and its higher education system leads the world. But its immense wealth and expertise stand in shocking contrast with the conditions in which vast numbers of its citizens live. About 40 million live in poverty, 18.5 million in extreme poverty, and 5.3 million live in Third World conditions of absolute poverty. It has the highest youth poverty rate in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the highest infant mortality rates among comparable OECD States. Its citizens live shorter and sicker lives compared to those living in all other rich democracies, eradicable tropical diseases are increasingly prevalent, and it has the world’s highest incarceration rate, one of the lowest levels of voter registrations in among OECD countries and the highest obesity levels in the developed world." 

"The United States has the highest rate of income inequality among Western countries. The $1.5 trillion in tax cuts in December 2017 overwhelmingly benefited the wealthy and worsened inequality. The consequences of neglecting poverty and promoting inequality are clear. The United States has one of the highest poverty and inequality levels among the OECD countries, and the Stanford Center on Inequality and Poverty ranks it 18th out of 21 wealthy countries in terms of labour markets, poverty rates, safety nets, wealth inequality and economic mobility."

"Defenders of the status quo point to the United States as the land of opportunity and the place where the American dream can come true because the poorest can aspire to the ranks of the richest. But today’s reality is very different. The United States now has one of the lowest rates of intergenerational social mobility of any of the rich countries. 
Zip codes, which are usually reliable proxies for race and wealth, are tragically reliable predictors of a child’s future employment and income prospects. High child and youth poverty rates perpetuate the intergenerational transmission of poverty very effectively, and ensure that the American dream is rapidly becoming the American illusion. The equality of opportunity, which is so prized in theory, is in practice a myth, especially for minorities and women, but also for many middle-class White workers."

Note: If you would like to learn more about super Zips and the resulting class divisions in American society the book Coming Apart by Charles Murray is interesting.

The United States has swung very far to the right since the 1980's. Voodoo economics aka trickle down theory aka the Laffer curve were features of the Reagan revolution which have been carried into today's government where the GOP passed a tax bill that provided massive amounts of corporate welfare and tax breaks favoring the tippy top of the plutocrats. The party that purportedly valued fiscal responsibility did this by adding trillions of dollars to the national debt for our children to pay for. Reagan tripled the national debt fyi - so this isn't something new. 

Another feature of the Reagan revolution was an all out assault on labor unions which helped lead the United States to the conditions we see described in the 2018 U.N. report. Bill Clinton did his share to undermine the working and middle class as well by repealing Glass-Steagall which turned out to be a key factor in enabling the 2007 Great Recession. Clinton also "triangulated" with hard right wingers like Newt Gingrich to pass the welfare reform act which helped lead us to the type of poverty we see described in the U.N. report.

After a few decades of these neo-liberal unregulated free market policies where middle class families tax dollars are transferred to the defense industrial complex, and other rent-seeking entities (farm subsidies for example), we start to see the devastating effects on society today.


You may ask yourself what the terms "right wing" and "conservative" mean in today's parlance? What does it mean to say Neil Gorsuch is a "conservative" judge?

It boils down to one thing - money. Well maybe two things money and power. There have always been plutocrats and special interest groups willing to buy politicians, but since the Citizen's United Decision dark money has invaded our political (and therefore legal) systems, unlike anything we've seen in history.

The term conservative is just about as meaningless as liberal or socialist but it doesn't take a wacko conspiracy theorist to at least wonder -
do the people in power that identify as "conservative" really care about hot button emotionally charged topics like abortion, religious freedom, freedom of speech or gun control? Or is the way they frame these topics a way to convince working and middle class American's to vote against their own self interests? I'd recommend reading What's The Matter With Kansas by Thomas Frank if you are interested in this topic. He's got plenty of unflattering things to say about liberals as well in his book Listen Liberal or Whatever Happened to the Party of the People?

So when Neil Gorsuch, who's mother Anne proudly rolled back many environmental regulations as EPA administrator under Ronald Reagan, is appointed to the Supreme Court who do you think controls our government? When Neil Gorsuch auditions for his appointment to the Supreme Court by writing the one dissenting opinion in a case where a truck driver was fired for leaving his load because he was freezing to death...who do you think controls America? 

If you are interested in how our government was taken over by far right radical libertarians the book Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean has an interesting take. One of the funny things about this book is that Nancy MacLean writes about the many corporate funded think tanks and fake grass roots movements (astroturf movements funded by dark money) that exist in America to try and sway middle Americans into voting for politicians who do not represent them. Her book resulted in literally hundreds of op-eds, online articles etc. attacking her thesis - from people paid by the very think tanks she is criticizing...which sort of proves her point.



My generation obviously hasn't been able to solve this. We've seen things degrade over the last few decades. Younger people can swing things closer to the center by supporting candidates and policies that today are labeled - radical far left socialism - policies that would have been considered moderate during the Eisenhower administration. 

The extremely well funded right wing will use whatever propaganda they can to convince citizens that things that used to be considered standard features of American life - labor unions, public funded schools, a medical system not dominated by profit seeking corporations, sensible environmental regulations, a government that worked for the people and not the corporate military industrial complex - are somehow now the ravings of mad socialists who want to take away our hamburgers. 

I don't think American people are that stupid - I believe there are a majority of Americans who see through the smoke and mirrors. Unfortunately many of them have never, or have given up on, participating in the political system. About 50 percent of eligible voters actually vote - that's terrible for a democracy (and in some sense proves the old saw that we get the type of government we deserve). We need politicians who can energize those citizens who don't vote.

Read! Get educated! VOTE!

Saturday, March 02, 2019

History Doesn't Repeat Itself But it Often Rhymes

Field of Vision - A Night at the Garden from Field of Vision on Vimeo.

The quotation "history doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes." is often attributed to Mark Twain.

It seems apt when we consider Charlottesville, Trump Rallies and closer to home here in the Pacific Northwest - the incident on campus at the UW where a MAGA supporter shot a peacemaker in the stomach.


"The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist."  
Hannah Arendt - The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951)

Friday, March 01, 2019

No Cannibalism!

Finister Alcot III was elected President of the Middle States of America in 2072. Finister, himself the beneficiary of a multi-trillion dollar trust fund provided by his late father Finister II, ran on the campaign slogan, "What About Me?"

Fin's trust fund had been earned by the pater familias Finister I who made his fortune selling feline life insurance policies. Stories were told of Fin I threatening to kill old and confused people's kittens if they didn't pay up on their premiums.

Finister was a member of the brown eye party. He roused the rabble with stories of frightening, despicable, acts by their enemies in the blue eye party.

He gathered a devoted following of brown-eyed middle Americans by bragging that he and his family had retained their inherited wealth through various criminal or otherwise corrupt activities often aimed at grifting small sums from the very middle Americans who grew to love him. His argument that "as a thief he would be uniquely qualified to recognize thievery in government" made something like sense.

Finister III won the debates by making fart sounds whenever his opponents spoke and sneaking up behind them to paste "kick me" stickers on their backs.

He went on to win the general election by constantly reinforcing in his followers what they already had been taught by the people with good hair on the screens  - blue eye bad, brown eye good.

Shortly after being elected, Finister III and his son Finister IV were accused of selling the Liberty Bell to a group of Kazakhstani oligarchs who intended to use it in a theme park being built in their home country. When accused by members of the resistance of being a traitorous crook he used the time honored schoolboy defense "I know you are but what about me?"

When videos were released of the two Fins taking a bag of money from the Kazakhs shortly before helping them load the bell into a Dodge Ram XXII pickup truck - Fin asked, "Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?" Many chose him.

In addition to the Liberty Bell affair there were 957 other documented cases of Fin's misdeeds ranging from shooting guys on Fifth,  Sixth  and Seventh Avenue, to public endangerment - for using a can of hairspray as a flame thrower to ward off members of the fake news.

None of that mattered though. Fin early on in his administration had set the bar for defining a successful President quite low.

As long as there was "no proof I have eaten another human being", he told the Middle Americans - "you may consider Finister Alcot III the greatest President ever".

He and the billionaire talking heads on the Fin News Network answered every accusation of wrongdoing with responses like, "No Cannabilism!", "I Never Cannabilized Any Human",  "You're the Cannibal".

Some people thought they remembered a time before America split into pieces where leaders were held to a higher standard but that feeling didn't last long.

The Fin News Network now controlled public perception of current, past and future events. FNN broadcast 24/7 using drones equipped with loudspeakers and virtual reality projectors showing Fin riding a dragon in battle against the blue-eyes. The drones were programmed to enter the homes of anyone who might be exhibiting some unsanctioned memories and stay with them until those memories were erased.

In addition to the drones, and virtual reality dragons, Finister Alcot III pioneered another device that was used to ensure "*leaders" of the brown eyed party were always sufficiently obsequious to the great and mighty Fin. The device was known as the BandomaticTM. It was modeled after a manual device used by people who raised sheep in the 20th century.

The original device was a rubber band placed around the sheep's scrotum which eventually resulted in the sheep's testicles falling off. Fin III automated that device and was able to remotely control the amount of pressure it exerted. He then had it attached to every politician in his party (they were all males fyi). When people heard these politicians talk about how great Fin III had been for middle America they wondered why they spoke in high voices as if in pain. Little did they know that Fin was in the process of removing the testicles of these gutless wonders via the BandomaticTM as they spoke.

And that my friend is how in the future not being a cannibal became the threshold for being a great - many people are saying the greatest - President ever.


*The term "leaders" in the later half of the 21st century was primarily used to describe politicians, and sometimes talking hairdos on screens, who had enough theatrical skills to fool the gullible and those who want to believe - but without sufficient acting skills to be in traditional theatre. This is why we sometimes hear critics refer to politicians and talking hairdos as "bad actors."

Are we better than this?