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I was going through my hard drive when I found some photos I took in Takoma Park last summer. They focused on some of the newer art installations that were set up around town recently. I found them to be quite creative and imaginative.

There’s this S & A Beads store window, which had its own commentary on last year’s presidential campaign.

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A few days ago I made what I thought was a funny video where I had a Talking Donald Trump Action Figure (which I originally gave my then-husband as a gag gift years ago during either the first or second season of The Apprentice) stand in front of the mirror. I activated his talking button a few times while I filmed it with a smartphone. Then I brought it into iMovie where I edited it to make it look like the action figure was talking to his reflection as he said stuff like “I have no choice but to tell you ‘You’re fired!’”, “You really think you’re a good leader. I don’t!”, and “I should fire myself just for having you around. This one’s easy for me: You’re fired!”

I was inspired to make it because I read polls that said that it would be a close race but Hillary Clinton would ultimately emerge as a victor. It didn’t take long to make and I edited the video down to less than a minute. My original plan for Election Night after the polls closed was to go to the local movie theater with my laptop, which was providing free admission to its PBS broadcast of the election results on the big screen around 9 p.m., watch the proceedings for about an hour or so, wait until Hillary was so far ahead in the electoral results that there was no way that The Donald could ever win, then run outside to the STEM center located next door (which would’ve been closed for the day but it offers free wifi 24 hours a day), sit at one of the outdoor tables, brave the dark November cold as I upload that video on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, then head home.

As I watched the proceedings and saw that Trump was ahead and stayed ahead, I knew that there was no way that I could upload that video last night. I would’ve risked having that video being the modern-day online equivalent of the infamous “Dewey Defeats Truman” photo and I would’ve ended up being a total laughingstock online. (And that’s not to mention that I probably would’ve been attacked online by pro-Trump trolls that would be way similar to the Gamergate incident.) I just sat there in the theater and watched as Trump raced ahead only to have Clinton make some gains but they weren’t enough to pass him. It was so surreal to see. I remember the audience laughed when one of the PBS anchors announced that a website set up by the Canadian government on how to legally emigrate to Canada had crashed.

Unfortunately there were a few states that were still up in the air when the theater cut off the broadcast around midnight and announced that they were closing.

So I went straight home after midnight. I was finishing doing the last bit of laundry when I made the mistake of getting on Facebook and I read all kinds of posts from people who were expressing all kinds of drama stemming from the election results. As a result of reading all those posts, I didn’t get to bed until it was nearly 1:30 in the morning.

As I went to sleep I still had hope that Hillary Clinton would’ve barely won and I could still upload that video. But then I turned on my smartphone and saw all of those push notifications that we now have a President Trump and I knew right then that there is no way that video I made could ever see the light of day. My only consolation is that I didn’t put too much work into it, I made it pretty quickly, and it was a short 59-second video. I ended up deleting that video.

I’ve been reading Facebook and Twitter and I’ve seen all sorts of finger-pointing being made. I’m going to briefly give my opinions as to why I feel that Hillary Clinton deserved to lose and the Democratic National Committee brought this upon themselves.

1. Every single poll that was made during the primaries said that Bernie Sanders was the one candidate who had the best chance of defeating Donald Trump. Despite that, the DNC, under Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s leadership, was determined to make Hillary Clinton the nominee against the will of the voters. Debbie Wasserman Schultz did all sorts of things like cutting the number of debates and scheduling them at odd times (such as one that took place just days before Christmas). There were reports of voter irregularities in a number of state primaries as well as the hiring of professional trolls who wrote pro-Hillary comments on social media and picked fights with anyone who disagreed with Hillary for any reason. The DNC went through great lengths to make Hillary Clinton the nominee and shove her down the voters’ throats only to have it blow up in their faces. If Debbie Wasserman Schultz was the coach of a professional sports team who kept on fielding the weakest player in a game instead of the best player and, as a result, the team kept on losing game after game, she would’ve been fired by the higher-ups.

2. Hillary Clinton was a lackluster campaigner. After she got the nomination she kept on saying that people should vote for her because she’s not Trump. During the first debate that I saw, she kept on saying that people should go online and view her website for details about her policy positions. I can’t even recall an instance where she said what she would do for the American people if she got elected in terms of what programs she would like to implement or how she would help marginalized groups. Consider this: a presidential debate is basically like a job interview on steroids. You have to sell yourself on what you can do for the company that’s hiring and how they can benefit from your experience and expertise. Except the “company” in question is the United States of America and the people doing the “hiring” are the voters. If I was in a job interview where I only told the interviewer that he/she should go online to look at this blog (which you’re currently viewing) if he/she wants to learn more about me and I deserve to get the job because I’m not like the other candidates who are also vying for that same job, I would’ve been eliminated immediately.

3. Hillary Clinton’s past came back to not only haunt her but to also bite her in her pantsuited ass. It wasn’t just Benghazi or Whitewater or overlooking her husband’s affair with a White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. It was also her past comments like how people of color needed to be “brought to heel” that she never explained, repudiated, or even apologized for—thus alienating her from potential voters.

4. Hillary Clinton ignored the plight of working class voters who saw their jobs getting shipped to Mexico, China, and other Third World countries as a result of her husband’s pro-NAFTA policies. I saw the pro-Hillary people say on social media that it’s not fair to bring up her husband’s policies while he was president because he wasn’t running for office in 2016. Granted that’s true but it’s also true that Hillary Clinton was married to Bill Clinton while he signed NAFTA and not once did she say anything on the campaign trail where she indicated that she now regrets what her husband did or even if she would pursue any policies that would bring well-paying jobs back to the U.S. and/or provide training or funding that would lead to the creation of new industries that would provide new jobs for the working class. Donald Trump reached out to those disaffected working class voters and that’s why they voted for him.

5. Hillary Clinton remains one of the most detested politicians in the U.S. The late political blogger Steve Gilliard said this back in 2007 and it remains true today. She seemed to either have no realization that people really dislike her so much or she refused to face that fact. Nor did she do anything to address what she could do to reach out to those voters who are turned off by her. Her supporters say that it’s due to sexism and I know that it’s true to a certain extent. But she is disliked in ways that other female Democratic politicians simply aren’t (such as Tulsi Gabbard and Tammy Duckworth) and a lot of it is due to the numerous scandals that have swirled constantly around her and Bill for decades.

6. Hillary Clinton lost the 2008 primaries to Barack Obama but she was undeterred by that loss because she was so determined to become the first woman president at all costs. She got her friend Debbie Wasserman Schultz to use her DNC chair job to do whatever it took to give her the nomination. If those persistent rumors that Bill Clinton had asked his friend Donald Trump to run as a Republican in an effort to throw the election to Hillary are true, then she deserved to lose. (While those rumors can’t be 100% confirmed, this leaked email confirmed that the Clintons were hoping to cultivate so-called “Pied Piper candidates” who would run as Republicans, inflict damage to the Republican Party while encouraging voters to choose Hillary Clinton instead. The only silver lining to yesterday’s election is that this “Pied Piper” strategy literally blew up in Hillary Clinton’s face.)

7. There were the really expensive fundraising dinners held at the homes of rich people, such as the one that was held by George and Amal Clooney at the home of venture capitalist Sherwin Pishevar, that she attended that only further alienated the less deep-pocketed 99% and led them to believe that they matter less to her because they aren’t rich.

8. She could’ve reached out to dissatisfied Bernie Sanders voters by giving the vice president slot to either Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. Instead she gave that slot to Tim Kaine, who is pro-TPP, which has not only alienated Sanders supporters but also working class people whose jobs have been lost due to NAFTA and the TPP promises to deliver more of the same. (The TPP has been described as “NAFTA on steroids”.)

9. There are her close ties to Wall Street, including those who tanked the economy in 2008. I remember during one of the Democratic debates against Bernie Sanders, while Sanders said that he would actively prosecute those Wall Streeters who were instrumental in tanking the economy, Hillary Clinton only said that she would simply tell them to “cut it out.” The fact that she had refused to make her paid speeches to Goldman-Sachs public made a lot of people wonder if she had something to hide.

10. Then there is the issue of nepotism. Last year I wrote about why the media’s clamoring for a rematch of the 1992 Bush vs. Clinton election was bad for American democracy because it favored only people who were related to a former president, cuts out a lot of other very capable people who would’ve made good presidents because they aren’t related to a former or current president, and it’s bad overall for democracy. The American people had already gone through dealing with the son of a former president (George W. Bush) who was a major disaster in many ways and they were asked to elect the wife of a former president (Bill Clinton) who has a history of scandals. It’s no wonder why so many Americans said “Thanks, but no thanks” and decided that they’d rather take their chances on a rich celebrity with a history of multiple bankruptcies who has never held public office before and who is not related to a president.

In a nutshell, the DNC and Hillary Clinton had no one to blame but themselves for this debacle. It’s the main reason why I don’t regret joining the #DEMEXIT movement and I’m now registered as an independent.

The stock markets all over the world are going down because of the election of President Donald Trump. (Oh, man, I have to get used to saying it. Ugh!) The weather outside is raining as I’m typing this the day after Election Day. Sometimes it feels like they are tears from heaven over what happened. Tonight my Unitarian Universalist congregation is holding a special meeting for people to express what the hell happened last night and how we as a community could respond to it. I’m going to go mainly because I feel this need to commiserate with other people right now.

Dancing Skeleton

I had a relatively quiet Halloween this year due mainly to a combination of tight finances and my mother’s latest health battle. (She spent a few days in the hospital earlier this month for sepsis.) I purchased this interesting pack of marshmallow Peeps from Five Below because these Halloween Peeps looked pretty unusual. I’ve seen Halloween Peeps shaped like black cats, ghosts, jack o’lanterns, and gravestones but this was the first time I’ve seen Peeps shaped like Frankenstein’s head.

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But that’s not all I found at Five Below. I also found pumpkin spice-flavored Peeps. These are the chicks that I usually see at Easter but I guess Just Born has decided that chicks aren’t just for Easter anymore.

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I wasn’t sure if I was going to like the combination of marshmallow, white chocolate fudge, and pumpkin spice but I found that they were quite tasty.

Among the treats I gave out this year was Utz Bats & Jacks Pretzels. That pack usually gives out a free black and white Halloween decoration (which is basically the Utz girl dressed as a witch while being surrounded by bats).

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The same decoration is given out each year. I know that the decoration is in black and white because it’s meant for children to color it using crayons or other media. I displayed it outside a couple of years ago in its uncolored state at the last minute before the first trick or treater arrived. This year I decided to take out some colored pencils and color it in.

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I did the coloring Friday night. I displayed it in the trunk of my car at my church’s Trunk or Treat event yesterday (Sunday), which was held in the parking lot for the children at that congregation. I took some photos of the event, which I’ll write about later.

After the Trunk or Treat event I hung that same colored decoration on the door of my home alongside the ghost from the Scream movies (which I’ve owned for a number of years) and a traditional Mexican Day of the Dead decoration (which I purchased from Five Below just a couple of days ago for only 99 cents).

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Like I wrote two weeks ago, I purchased this new bat to replace a previous bat that was stolen from the porch in 2014.

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I have a Grim Reaper dangling from the bottom of my mailbox near my small coffin.

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I also have some smaller Halloween items placed on the front porch near the coffin and Grim Reaper.

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I deliberately didn’t cut down the dead Black-Eyed Susans and other dead foliage in order to have this dead plants effect (which is way cheaper than buying fake dead Halloween foliage in the stores). Safeway had a special “2 medium pumpkins for $10” sale so I bought two pumpkins and carved jack o’lantern faces on them then placed them among the dead plants. I kept the seeds and roasted them so I now have healthy snacks.

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The next photos were taken in Glen Burnie earlier this month during one of the days I visited my mother in the hospital. After that visit I drove past a couple of homes where I saw those Donald Trump signs on the front lawn, which were the first homes I’ve ever seen anyone display anything that was pro-Trump. (It figures that I saw them in the town where I grew up from ages 5-19.) After I took photos of those two houses with the Trump signs, I decided to stop by Giant because I needed to buy a few things and I thought it would be easier to buy them at the Giant in Glen Burnie then drive straight home. I got out of that store just in time to enjoy this lovely sunset.

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In the same shopping center as that particular Giant I saw that one of those Spirit of Halloween stores had set up its temporary shop there.

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I went over to that store where I took these pictures documenting what’s considered “in” for Halloween 2016.

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Of course since this is an election year, there would be opportunities for people to dress up as either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.

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There was a Bernie Sanders mask available for sale. It’s too bad that there were reports of primary election rigging in places like IllinoisMassachusettsKentuckyArizonaNew YorkCalifornia, and Nevada since there were many poll results that stated that Bernie Sanders could’ve beaten Donald Trump by a much wider margin than the current narrow margin between Clinton and Trump. (Some recent polls say that Hillary Clinton has since come out way ahead but who knows what will go down on November 8.)

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I didn’t buy anything at that store due to tight finances. Even if I could afford to shop there I don’t think I would buy very many items because I’m really not into large lawn displays and there are so many costumes and masks that I can really keep in my home before I get overrun with costumes and masks.

I spent the bulk of Halloween day going to the first of a two-day session on how to improve my job hunting skills that’s offered by the State of Maryland. It’s currently being held in its offices in Laurel, which is located next to Laurel Shopping Center. During one of the breaks I walked around the far end of that shopping center where I saw the place where a second-run movie theater used to operate (but it went out of business a few years ago). There’s currently a haunted house known as Laurel’s House of Horrors that’s operating there. I didn’t go inside at all mainly because the admission was $30 and I’m really not into spending that much money on something that’s only going to last one hour at the most. I have to admit that the exterior looked interesting.

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I’ll finish this entry with this giant spider in the center of this giant spider web that’s currently displayed outside Makerspace 125.

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Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 3, 2016
Greenbelt Labor Day Festival, September 4, 2016

I stuck to my resolve to just stay as close to home as possible this Labor Day holiday weekend. September 5 was Labor Day so I spent the morning watching the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade while continuing to enjoy the glorious weather (which was sunny and warm but not too hot and the humidity was very low).

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The local Eleanor & Franklin Roosevelt Democratic Club marched with signs touting Hillary Clinton while chanting “I’m With Hillary!” A few people in the crowd started yelling “Bernie!” There were literally no cheers or clapping hands or anything. It was mostly silence except for the few people who were yelling Bernie Sanders’ name. The crowd’s reaction is the perfect metaphor for this year’s elections, which I’m not going to get into here because I could easily go off on a tangent where I write at least an extra 20 paragraphs and I’m really not in the mood to do that right now.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

A peace activist bicycles through the parade while he holds his sign.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The one other political group in the parade whose picture I took was of a group who were protesting the proposed TPP trade agreement that President Obama is trying to get the Congress to ratify even though it is very controversial.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Parade in Greenbelt, Maryland.

After the parade ended I went back home to eat lunch. I drove back to the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. I parked at St. Hugh’s Church then walked the rest of the way to the festival ground for the last day.

The Greenbelt Theater was having a free showing of the classic movie Brigadoon. The story was kind of hokey but I loved the music and dancing in that film. I ran into a friend after the movie and I socialized for a bit with her. I perused the craft tables and hung around the used book sale (which was giving away its inventory on the last day of the festival) while enjoying the continuing wonderful sunny with low humidity weather. I also took a last few pictures of the festival.

The last day of the 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The last day of the 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The last day of the 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The last day of the 2016 Greenbelt Labor Day Festival in Greenbelt, Maryland.

I basically hung around the festival until 4 p.m., when I could pick up my painting from the art show. Here is the painting I showed at the Greenbelt Labor Day Art Show this year.

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You can learn more about how I created this piece right here.

It’s very appropriate that I did a certain action today just a few hours before the start of the first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Today I did something that I once considered unthinkable and it’s also the sort of thing that will shock some members of my family when they learn this: I have joined the #DEMEXIT movement by changing my voter registration from Democrat to Independent. This is the first time I have ever changed my party affiliation in my life and I’m now glad I did it. In a way I felt I had to after seeing the horrible shenanigans on the part of the Democratic National Convention and Hillary Clinton that had been going on for many months and it came to a crescendo in Philadelphia just a few months ago.

I have followed in the footsteps of other longtime Democrats by quitting the party entirely such as this person and that person.

In some ways it’s sad that it has come to this for me. When I was 18 my high school held a special assembly that was only for students who were either already 18 or who will turn 18 before Election Day that November. The assembly was led by two women who were from the local elections board and they were there to register us as new voters. We were given voter registration forms that we could fill out then return to the two women. I registered my name and address. When it came time to check party affiliation, I chose the Democrat Party. It was a no-brainer for me. I lived in a heavily Democratic state (Maryland) and I come from a long line of mostly Democrats, especially on my mother’s side of the family.

In fact I had a distant cousin named Harry Banahan, Sr., who was devoted to Democratic politics. I don’t remember whether my Grandfather Banahan was also Harry’s uncle or cousin but Harry was definitely my cousin on my mother’s side of the family. Grandfather Banahan died a few years before I was born and I was never in contact with the other members of his family when I was growing up. (For some reason that have become lost in time since most of the people directly involved are now deceased, the members of my grandfather’s family decided to cease most contact with my grandmother after my grandfather died.) I didn’t meet Harry until after I was an adult and I only saw him in person twice—once when my Grandmother Banahan died and once when my aunt (my mother’s older sister) died a few years later. Both times were little more than a brief meeting at the funeral and I had never gotten into any in-depth conversations with him. (He was a few decades older than me. I remember he socialized mostly with my mother and other people who were either her age or older.) We never called each other or exchanged letters or anything like that. To me he was just a distant relative whom I only met twice in my life but had no other contact with him.

Harry Banahan, Sr. died back in February at the ripe old age of 98. I only learned this because one of my other cousins said that she had found his obituary in The Baltimore Sun. (For the record I didn’t go to his funeral because I didn’t know about his death until a couple of months after he was laid to rest.) Reading his obituary online, it was no mystery as to why he was a loyal Democrat his entire life. At 16 he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was one of the many New Deal programs that Franklin D. Roosevelt created to help those who were burdened by the Great Depression. He left the CCC to serve a machinist apprenticeship at the B&O Railroad’s Mount Clare Shop but later returned to the CCC when he was furloughed. He was called back to the railroad but he later went on to serving in the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war he owned and operated a couple of sporting goods stores and he also was a purchasing director at the Baltimore Civic Center (now known as the Royal Farms Arena).

According to family lore (which I haven’t been able to independently verify) he ran as a candidate for the Baltimore City Council a few times in the 1950’s but he lost every election he ever ran in. He most likely ran as a Democrat because Baltimore was—and still is—heavily dominated in local politics by the Democratic establishment. Despite those defeats, he still kept tabs on local politics. His obituary mentioned that William Donald Schaefer (who was both former Baltimore Mayor and former Maryland Governor) was a friend. Harry Banahan was mentioned in this 2007 Baltimore Sun article where, at the ripe age of 90, he spoke with then-Governor Martin O’Malley about how he strongly supported the erection of a statue dedicated to Schaefer. Cousin Harry was probably thrilled when he got his wish because one can now find William Donald Schaefer’s statue in Baltimore at the Inner Harbor between Harborplace and the Maryland Science Center (both of which were built and opened during his days as Mayor).

It’s easy to understand why Harry Banahan was loyal to the Democrat Party his entire life. He benefitted directly from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal program at a time when he needed the work. Thanks to that start from the CCC, he eventually became a successful businessman while supporting his wife and children with no help from anyone else. He was even able to spend the last years of his long life with complete dignity. There’s a charming story on the Little Sisters of the Poor St. Martin’s Baltimore website about how, at the age of 95, he was crowned the King of Valentine’s Day. Harry’s wife had passed away by then so an older woman was selected to be his Queen: 101-year-old Florence Curtis.

While Harry Banahan, Sr. was personally and professionally well-served by the Democrat Party throughout his life, unfortunately I can’t say the same for myself. Despite my own lifelong loyalty to the Democrat Party, that party hadn’t done much to benefit me personally. In fact that party seemed to have gone out of its way to alienate me. It started when I was a student at the University of Maryland. I was a Journalism major while minoring in Government and Politics. I was looking for a potential summer internship when I saw a notice through the College of Journalism where the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was looking to hire a few interns for the summer. I thought it would be the perfect opportunity. I was a registered Democrat and that internship would have tapped into both my major and my minor so I applied.

I received a callback where they wanted to talk to me and we were trying to set up an appointment where I would meet with someone for a face to face interview. I was trying to schedule a time where it wouldn’t conflict with classes, especially if there was an important exam being held that day. While we were trying to figure out an appointment time that would work for the both of us, the woman I spoke with suddenly blurted out, “You don’t really want this internship, do you?” That was totally out of the blue because I don’t recall giving any kind of vibes of not being interested. (Hell, if I wasn’t interested, I would never have applied in the first place.) I protested that I really did want that internship. We finally settled on a date and time. But then the DNC called either a few hours later or a few days later (I don’t remember which) and found that, for some reason I don’t remember, we had to reschedule my interview. Again while we were trying to figure out schedules I got the same “You don’t really want this internship, do you?” question over the phone. I felt like I was being discouraged from even trying to get this internship, which made me more insistent that I get an interview for this internship just so I could show those people that I could do the work.

I managed to get an appointment that worked for everyone concerned. On that day I used public transportation (I didn’t have a car at the time) to go to the DNC’s offices in downtown DC and did a few interviews with the various departments that were looking for interns but I didn’t get an internship. But I still remember that “You don’t really want this internship, do you?” sudden jab all those years later and I especially started to remember it even more in recent months given how I’ve seen the DNC behaved. I’m at the point where the DNC thinks of rank and file members like me as riffraff who don’t really matter because we aren’t the 1% with incredibly deep financial pockets and I really don’t want to belong to an organization who doesn’t really want me around. This recent link I found has a headline that says it all about the current Democrat Party’s attitudes about its own members who aren’t powerful and wealthy: Liberal Elites Hate the Left.

Despite that early disappointment regarding not getting that internship at the DNC, I still remained a loyal Democrat for many years. As time went on I discovered that my relationship with the Democratic Party was becoming more and more one-sided. It was like a woman who falls in love with a conceited yet charismatic man who frequently ignores her while screwing around with several other women at the same time (and he might even be already married to someone else). Yet when he says a few kind words to her (and maybe even give her a single red rose) that are little more than throwing a bone, she starts to hang on those words while thinking “He likes me! He really, really likes me!” She continues to remain loyal to that cad while he continues to screw around behind her back. I never wanted to be in that situation in my private life so why should I expect similar treatment in from my affiliated political party?

Ever since Jimmy Carter lost the 1980 elections to Ronald Reagan I’ve seen the Democrat Party shoot itself in the foot over and over again.

In 1984 Ronald Reagan was running for re-election while running those now-classic “It’s Morning in America” ads, which definitely resonated with a lot of people. Gary Hart had thrown his hat in the race in the Democratic primary yet the establishment wanted former Vice President Walter Mondale to be the nominee. Gary Hart won the first few primaries, which would echo Bernie Sanders’ primary wins a few decades later, and I remember those victories freaked out the establishment in the DNC who really wanted Mondale. I started seeing results in later primaries where, in a close race, the DNC enabled Walter Mondale would get the lion’s share of the delegates even though the popular vote was tied. Despite the DNC’s love for Walter Mondale, I remember seeing footage of the two on the campaign trail and, to be blunt, Gary Hart performed way better than Mondale. And he had the charisma that matched Regan’s and, well, Mondale just didn’t resonate with a lot of people despite the DNC’s insistence that Mondale be its nominee. While I can’t say for sure whether Gary Hart would’ve defeated Ronald Reagan in 1984, I’d like to believe that he would’ve come much closer to Reagan than Mondale’s dismal results on Election Day.

In 1988, when Reagan was constitutionally prohibited from seeking a third presidential term and Gary Hart decided to try running for president as a Democrat again, the DNC decided that Michael Dukakis was the man who would beat Reagan’s vice president, George H.W. Bush. This time Gary Hart’s campaign was done in by a scandal of his own making (remember the ship Monkey Business?) so the DNC got its way again by having Dukakis as its candidate. I remember Dukakis was just as timid on the campaign trail as Mondale was. Whenever Bush or any other Republican tried to pin the dreaded “L” word (liberal) he would go to great lengths to avoid discussing being a liberal. Then there was that idiotic photo he did of himself in a tank while wearing military gear, which earned him total ridicule nationwide. I remember reading in The Washington Post about two or three days before the election where Michael Dukakis said that, yes, he’s a liberal in the tradition of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman. It was a lovely rebuttal that would’ve been awesome had he uttered it months earlier. Sadly that rebuttal was too little, too late and George H.W. Bush became the next president.

In 2000 Bill Clinton’s Vice President, Al Gore, ran against George W. Bush, the son of President George H.W. Bush. It was also the year that Ralph Nader received a lot of attention because he decided to run for office on the Green Party ticket. For years I’ve heard loyal Democrats blame Nader for splitting the Democratic vote and ensuring the reality of a President George W. Bush. At one point I believed this. Recently there have been web pages debunking the idea that Nader was the spoiler in that election, such as this one. And there are my memories of Gore as a campaigner. I remember he came across as stiff and cautious on the campaign trail. He seemed like he was literally afraid of taking any kind of risks. I remember when I watched An Inconvenient Truth a number of years later and I saw a different Al Gore who was arguing passionately on why the U.S. needs to focus on climate change right now before it’s too late. It was too bad that Al Gore didn’t show that passionate side of him when he was on the campaign trail because he probably would’ve ended up in the White House by a more decisive margin that wouldn’t needed the intervention of the Supreme Court.

In 2004 John Kerry ran against incumbent George W. Bush but he ran a totally lackluster campaign. I remember when the Swift Boat Veterans for the Truth challenged John Kerry on his Vietnam War record and John Kerry didn’t even respond at all. In fact I remember when he seemed to make himself scarce after the Democratic Convention and there were no calls for volunteers to help on his campaign. He did perform brilliantly in the debates against George W. Bush but that was about it. It was no wonder he lost that year.

Even when the Democrats win the White House they turned out to be disappointing. In 1992 the economy was going through a recession and the Democrats had a chance to regain the White House for the first time since 1980. Bill Clinton was elected president and he proceeded to act so cautiously to the point where he supported the Defense of Marriage Act (which was a big “FUCK YOU!” to LGBTQ persons who wanted the legal right to marry their partners) and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (which was also a big “FUCK YOU!” to LGBTQ people who wanted to serve their country in the military). He championed NAFTA by calling it the best thing for American jobs when, in reality, it hastened the corporations sending well paying jobs outside the U.S. because they could pay impoverished Mexicans less money while not being required to care about such things as occupational safety. Despite his cautious nature, his siding with corporations who wanted to ship American jobs overseas, and willingness to constantly appease the Republicans (especially those who really loathed him and were out to get him) I voted for him again in 1996 because I fell into the whole “we must unite to re-elect Clinton because Bob Dole is far worse and he’ll outlaw legal abortion and destroy the country if Clinton is defeated” argument and, besides, I was still a loyal Democrat at this point. I even remained a loyal Democrat when Bill Clinton was impeached during his second term because he lied about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. (It says it all when the Republicans have been trying to find something on the scandal-prone Clintons that could hold up in a legal setting—ranging from Whitewater to the Rose Law Firm—and the only thing they could make stick is that Clinton lied under oath about getting blowjobs from Monica Lewinsky. And even that didn’t last long since Clinton ultimately prevailed and he stayed in his President job until his second term ended.)

In 2008 I chose Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the primaries because he was promising hope and change. Given the economic crisis when Wall Street literally tanked the economy I felt that a latter-day Franklin Delano Roosevelt is what this country needed and Obama talked like he was FDR reincarnated. I didn’t even care about the color of his skin—he could’ve had blue or purple skin and I still would’ve voted for him because I loved what he was saying at the time. But once he was elected he started putting in Wall Street types like Tim Geithner in prominent positions in his administration. Even his primary rival, Hillary Clinton, was given the position of Secretary of State. I’ve written in the past about how let down I felt about President Obama (especially when he did this compromise with the Republicans where the wages of federal employees like my ex-husband has been frozen for the last few years just so he could prove that, yes, he’s not a stereotypical “tax and spend liberal”). Despite my disappointment I voted for him again in 2012 mainly because the Republicans had put Mitt Romney as its candidate and this is the guy who loved to say stuff like “I like being able to fire people.” Plus I heard the message from Democrats saying that “we need to vote blue, no matter who, because the alternative is worse” and I believed it enough to help reelect President Obama. But it turned out to be all for naught because it ended up being the same old thing as before. At that point I declared myself as being through with supporting President Obama.

Over the years I didn’t just vote Democrat. When I was married my husband and I used to donate to Democrats running in various races, especially on the state and local level. (I haven’t made a financial donation to any political candidate or campaign mainly because of tight finances stemming from my divorce.) I even did some volunteer work on a few campaigns for Democratic candidates (most recently for Bernie Sanders during this year’s primary). But, in the end, the Democrats only did a few token things that I approved of (such as keeping abortion and birth control legal) while not doing much to help average people getting back on their feet, especially after the 2008 economic collapse.

Things really came to a head this year with the primaries and I finally came to my senses and decided that enough is enough. I decided to support Bernie Sanders because he was someone who had long fought for the underdog in the Senate and he felt that this country needed an ambitious program similar to FDR’s New Deal as a way of revitalizing America one again. He was also determined to run a clean campaign by refusing to accept large donations. Instead he encouraged average people to donate small amounts of money and he managed to raise enough money to be able to take on Hillary Clinton and her benefactors (mainly Wall Street). He remained strong throughout the primaries and he even won several states. But then Hillary Clinton’s campaign did some shenanigans that have really lowered my opinion of her even more than previously.

First there were the reports that the Clinton campaign had hired Internet trolls who went around to various social media sites, write multiple posts praising Clinton while trying to start fights with Bernie Sanders supporters. But starting online social media fights weren’t enough. These people tried to shut down pro-Bernie Sanders Facebook groups and one troll was accused of posting child pornography in some of those groups then report those same groups to Facebook for having child pornography that he posted online.

One result of these professional Internet trolls is that I no longer take any pro-Hillary posts seriously on social media because I have no way of knowing whether he/she is really a genuine Hillary Clinton supporter or if that person is really a professional troll who was hired by the campaign to post favorable stuff while bashing Bernie Sanders. I tend to ignore whatever argument that supporter makes regarding how favorable Hillary Clinton is because there’s always the possibility that this person is just a paid plant who really doesn’t really believe what he/she posts. The downside is that real Hillary Clinton supporters (the ones who really believe in her candidacy and who aren’t being paid by her campaign) are now unfairly lumped in with the paid trolls and their arguments get dismissed by myself and many other people as well. I know it’s not fair to the true believers but that’s on the campaign for hiring these professional trolls in the first place instead of cultivating voters to their campaign and electrifying them in a way that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have done.

But the one thing that has made me resolve to never vote for her is that Hillary Clinton has her own election scandal. There have been reports of frequent voter fraud in favor of Hillary Clinton in places like IllinoisMassachusettsKentuckyArizonaNew YorkCalifornia, and Nevada. In addition a hacker known as Guccifer2 has been hacking into the DNC’s servers while providing plenty of data dumps on how tight Hillary Clinton is with the DNC and the mainstream media. Then there is the recent Wikileaks release (which happened just days before the start of the Democratic Convention) of some previously confidential emails from the DNC that pretty much proves that the primary elections were rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton from the very beginning at the expense of other candidates (especially Bernie Sanders).

As a woman I would love to see a woman occupy the Oval Office in my lifetime. But just having breasts and a vagina isn’t enough for me. The woman who deserves to be known as the first woman president would have to represent the vested interests of the 99% instead of the 1% and, based on that alone, Hillary Clinton is ill-suited for such a historic first given her close Wall Street ties while showing little interest in any kind of reforms (such as reinstating the Glass-Steagal Act that was originally passed during the Great Depression in order to regulate the financial industry and was repealed during her husband’s administration). If she does get elected she will have way too much baggage to be an effective leader, as this next link puts it:

A Hillary Clinton presidency, then, would face a national majority of citizens in open rebellion. Either intuitively or consciously they are incensed with the dominance of corporate political power. This is the template of governance Ms. Clinton helped create, the one in which she is historically and demonstrably comfortable, and the one which finances her campaigns for elected office.  Wed to those donors, and locked into this mindset of the New Democratic Party, her presidency could not and would not alter significantly the status quo. Proudly she claims as much: “Let’s not start from scratch,” she says.  Corporate dominance would remain unchallenged, the rebellion ignored.

Rebellion scorned will escalate; first to spirited demonstrations we have already seen, conceivably to violence.  Only substantive reform can accommodate it.

Reform is neither difficult nor unprecedented.  Our history displays a number of means of subordinating corporate interests to the welfare of the American people. More than a century ago—in the “Gilded Age”—the nation faced a similar crisis and dealt with it successfully.  And a century before that, effective mechanisms were in place to restrain corporate dominion, even though the threat of it was already visible.

If all that isn’t enough, Hillary (and her husband, Bill, for that matter) just can’t avoid getting involved in some scandal. Starting with Bill Clinton’s days as Arkansas Governor, there has been one scandal after another that resulted in investigations of the sort that would have ended other people’s political careers a long time ago. The Clintons seem to be the type of people who just can’t avoid getting into trouble. Sure sexism (involving Hillary’s gender) and classism (regarding Bill growing up in a poor family) may have something to do with it but crying sexism and classism can only get you very far before people conclude that you’re crying “Wolf!” way too many times. And then there is the one common denominator to all of these scandals: a Clinton was involved (either Bill or Hillary or both).

If Hillary Clinton was the only Democrat who had issues, it would be bad enough. But it seems like the entire Democrat Party is out of step with its traditional supporters (workers). A few weeks before the convention in Philadelphia the party decided against adding a platform that would’ve opposed the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, a multi-nation trade agreement that was negotiated completely in secret and it would not only have a negative impact on workers but it could also affect the environment as well as national sovereignty. (The TPP has been derided as “NAFTA on steroids.”)

The biggest irony is that had ex-Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, both Bill and Hillary Clinton, and other neoliberals had been dominant in the Democrat Party back when my cousin Harry Banahan was 16, there would have been no CCC or any other New Deal program available for him and it’s most likely that he would have lived the bulk of his life in poverty instead of the long and fruitful life he actually lived. It’s also possible that he would not have lived as long as he did since poor people generally tend to have less access to things like healthy food and medical care. And I seriously doubt that he would’ve been as loyal to the Democrats as he actually was.

Right now I’m registered as an Independent. I might have converted to the Republican Party had they not gone off the deep end years ago by catering to fundamentalist Christian extremists, white Southern men who pine for a return of the Confederate States of America, and devotees of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism. The Republican downward spiral started with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and I think it may be on the verge of hitting rock bottom. The fact that a total buffoon like Donald Trump became the official nominee on the Republican Party while channeling both Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini by saying all kinds of outrageous hateful stuff against everyone except heterosexual white Christian men with no disabilities says it all about the GOP these days and I don’t want to have anything to do with them. (The only good thing I can say about the Republican National Committee is that at least they provided equal resources to all 17 candidates who ran under their banner and there were no reports of election rigging to favor one candidate. In other words, Donald Trump got his nomination the old fashioned way—he earned them in totally fair and clean primaries.)

Even though I will probably vote for Jill Stein on the Green party ticket because I agree with nearly everything on the Green party platform, I decided against registering as a Green. That’s because I had a brief encounter with them back in the 1980’s when I was still in college and they were then-known in the U.S. as the Citizens Party and I soon became unimpressed because they had organizational problems back then. Basically they would field a candidate for the presidential elections then you wouldn’t hear from then until the next elections. While some of the organizers talked about needing to field candidates on the state and local levels in order to build a genuine grassroots movement from the ground up, they frequently didn’t follow through. Had they done so starting in 1984 (when they fielded excommunicated Mormon and feminist Sonia Johnson as their presidential candidate), they probably would be a real force to be reckoned with today instead of a being a marginal party that is rarely taken seriously by many people.

I know my friends on Facebook are begging people to not vote for a third party candidate because of the threat of a potential fascist Donald Trump Administration. If it weren’t for the fact that I’m now 99% convinced that those rumors of Trump running a fake campaign to both destroy the Republican Party and elect Hillary Clinton to the White House are actually true, I might have held my nose and voted for Clinton in an effort to thwart a modern day Hitler or Mussolini. But those back and forth exchanges between Trump and Clinton seemed so forced and scripted that I’ve seen the children in my church act more convincingly in special plays that are held during the annual Religious Exploration Sunday service each spring. That’s why I’m convinced that this year’s race is totally fake. Sadly this is something that some mainstream media outlet could’ve uncovered a la Watergate in the 1970’s if it weren’t for the fact that much of the mainstream media is dominated by just five or six corporations—with nearly all of them making donations to Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

In any case I refuse to take part in a fake campaign by voting for either Trump or Clinton and I am looking forward to voting for my first woman for president—Jill Stein. I will also vote for the people running for lower offices as long as they are people whom I respect, regardless of whether they are Democrats, Republicans, or some other party. To me a vote for either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton would be rewarding them for unethical behavior that is probably illegal as well and I refuse to do it. My friends can beg me or cajole me either on social media or real life but I’m not going to budge on this. If I end up losing friends over this, so be it. I’d rather follow my conscience and be at peace with my decision than to give in to peer pressure and do something I’ll end up regretting years later.

I’m sure my late cousin and loyal Democrat Harry Banahan would’ve been disappointed to hear that a member of his extended family had left the party. But I’d like to believe that he would’ve understood had I spoken to him about how I feel that today’s Democrat Party is not the same Democrat Party as the one that gave Harry a job in the CCC when he was 16 and I had been getting increasingly alienated from my own party because of it. In some ways, I feel like the Democrat Party had left average people like me a long time ago and I doubt that they’ll miss me at all.

Those postings on the emails of the Democratic National Committee on Wikileaks’ servers has pretty much confirmed what many of us had long suspected—that the Democratic National Convention, under Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had been siding with Hillary Clinton from Day 1 of the primaries. From cutting back on the number of debates then scheduling them at odd times (such as the weekend before Christmas) to colluding with the mainstream media to provide more favorable coverage to Hillary Clinton to those persistent rumors that Donald Trump is really helping Hillary Clinton by running a fake campaign, it’s all there in the open now.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has resigned from her position as chair of the Democratic National Committee only to have Hillary Clinton bring her aboard her campaign just hours later. It is now so obvious how close the two of them have colluded to go through great lengths to ensure that Hillary Clinton gets the Democratic nomination even if they went through efforts that were either illegal, immoral, or both.

Right now I am very close to changing my voter registration from Democrat to Independent because I am thoroughly disgusted with the Democratic Party. I’m waiting until after the convention ends because Bernie Sanders’ name will be placed in nomination at the convention and I’m waiting to see the outcome of this.

All I know is this, if Hillary Clinton still gets the nomination, I will not only change my party affiliation but I will also vote for the Green Party because I refuse to vote for either Clinton or Donald Trump. It’s sad in a way because I once was sympathetic towards her, especially when, as First Lady, she had to deal with the fallout from her husband’s affair with Monica Lewinsky in such a public manner. But the more I saw her in action, the more alienated I became, especially when I saw her frequently reaching out to Wall Street types who were the same people who were instrumental in tanking the economy back in 2008. That was why I didn’t vote for her in 2008 and I didn’t vote for her in the Democratic primary in Maryland this year. Had Hillary Clinton won in a fair vote, I would not only vote for her in November but I would encourage others to do the same.

But, thanks to Wikileaks and reports of voter irregularities in places like Illinois, Massachusetts, and Nevada there is no way I will ever support her. While I would love to see a woman in the White House one day, I want a woman who is far more ethical than Hillary Clinton.

Long before this latest Wikileaks scandal Hillary Clinton has had issues. The late political blogger Steve Gilliard wrote this post highlighting Clinton’s weaknesses as well as being listed among the most detested politicians back in 2007 and this has not changed at all. The left-leaning film director Michael Moore has just written this opinion piece on 5 Reasons Why Trump Will Win and, sadly, I’m afraid he’ll be right if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination. Numerous polls have repeatedly shown that, in a matchup between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, Trump will win more votes. This latest poll has just said the same thing as earlier polls. Yet in other polls that show a matchup between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, Sanders wins. It’s obvious that if the Democrats really want to win the White House this November, they should back the candidate who polls best against Donald Trump. To put an unpopular politician like Hillary Clinton as the official Democratic nominee would be suicidal.

If Hillary Clinton really cares about the future of this country and is very concerned about the potential fascist leanings of Donald Trump, she should withdraw from the race now and cede all of her delegates to Bernie Sanders. If she does it now, history will be kind to her while portraying her as the woman who did what it took to save the United States from fascism by sacrificing her own political ambitions. Because if she doesn’t do this, then she will totally ruin not only her political career but her reputation as well and the Democrat Party will implode far worse than the Republican Party did at its own convention last week. It will be far more likely that the Democrats will go the way of the Whigs unless it changes course and do the right thing.

So, Democrats, if you keep up with your efforts to shove Hillary Clinton in voters’ faces as the Democratic nominee, I will vote for my first woman president in November—Jill Stein. There is no way I can, in good conscience, vote for Hillary Clinton and there is no way in hell I will ever vote for a self-serving buffoon like Donald Trump. Being forced to make such a choice would be like having a medical professional ask me if I would rather have stage 4 lung cancer or a growing inoperable brain tumor.

By the way, I highly recommend reading this interesting editorial: The Corporate Liberal in America.

 

I’ve just learned that the Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Scultz has just resigned from her post in the wake of the Wikileaks scandal where previously confidential emails confirmed what many of us registered Democrats have long suspected: That the DNC had done everything to make sure that the primaries were rigged in favor of Hillary Clinton getting the nomination. This announcement has come one day before the Democratic Convention is scheduled to begin in Philadelphia.

I feel vindicated because it was so obvious that the primaries were fixed from reducing the number of televised debates to scheduling them during odd hours (such as the weekend before Christmas) to colluding with the media to provide favorable coverage of Clinton at the expense of her rivals (especially Bernie Sanders). It’s nice that there is written evidence even though, from their viewpoint, it was totally stupid (as this headline states: Even the Smart Reptiles Don’t Write This Stuff Down). Thanks to Wikileaks, no one can ever accuse me of wearing a tin foil hat when I mention that the Democratic primaries have been rigged.

I live 130 miles south of Philadelphia. If it weren’t for the fact that I still have to deal with the financial fallout from paying last month’s $400 car repair bill, I would be in Philly right now among the protesters. I’m still a registered Democrat as of this writing while I’m watching the convention from afar with baited breath. I’m hoping for the best outcome (Bernie Sanders gets the nomination) while preparing for the worst (it’s little more than a glorified coronation for Hillary Clinton). Whether I remain a registered Democrat after this coming week will depend on how what happens at the convention.

Recently I celebrated the Fourth of July and I enjoyed myself. It’s the occasion where people are encouraged to get all decked out in red, white, and blue clothes and jewelry while playing or listening patriotic music and watching fireworks at night. We display our patriotism while feeling proud of being Americans. Sure it sounds corny but, under the right circumstances, corny can be fun and relaxing. The Fourth of July is supposed to remind people about the best traits of the United States of America including its historical welcoming of immigrants, its historically dynamic innovations, and its long tradition of allowing people to express themselves (such as stating an opinion or being active in a certain religious faith) without fearing persecution by the government.

The rest of the year I find myself feeling less and less enthusiastic about the United States of America. I’m seeing disturbing things about this year’s presidential elections that don’t sit right with me. The more I hear the latest outrageous quote from the presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump the more I’m starting to believe those persistent rumors that Trump is waging a false flag campaign in an effort to elect Hillary Clinton as president. I’ve seen the photos of the Clintons and the Trumps socializing with each other along with Hillary posing next to Trump and his two older sons, Bill and Donald playing golf togetherBill Clinton still having a locker at the Trump National Golf Club, and even Chelsea Clinton and Ivanka Trump being seen as friendly in public. There are even the previous positive remarks Donald Trump has made about the Clintons. The evidence is all circumstantial but something tells me that there’s something fishy about all this. Technically Bernie Sanders is still in the race on the Democrat side and he says that he’ll remain in the race until the Democrat Convention in Philadelphia but Hillary Clinton has ignored him while focusing all of her attacks on The Donald and Trump has also said things against Clinton. But those back-and-forth attacks on each other seem to have a “wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say no more, say no more” feel about it that seems fake.

Worse the mainstream media has ignored Bernie Sanders and they have already acted as if the country is in the general election phase when it’s not the case because, as of this writing, neither the Republicans nor Democrats have had their conventions yet. I already wrote a previous rant about how the mainstream media seems to be more interested in controlling and influencing the story instead of just reporting on the news as an objective observer so I’m not going to delve into too much here.

Then there is the long decline in the U.S. economy, which started during the Reagan Administration when jobs were relocated from the U.S. to Third World countries so the workers there could be pay very low without having to deal with such things as unions or occupational safety regulations. If anyone has been repeatedly screwed by successive administrations since 1980—both Republican and Democrat—it’s the workers, especially among the middle class. Job security is now a thing of the past and it’s getting harder to find a job that pays a livable wage.

And then there is this disturbing trend of police officers killing African Americans, especially young men, for trivial reasons like a busted tail light or running a stop sign. I live 30 miles south of Baltimore, where an unarmed African American man named Freddie Gray was murdered by cops last year. This week has gotten really horrendous. Just Google the names Philander Castile and Alton Sterling to see news stories about their deaths at the hands of the police along with videos documenting their deaths.

This morning I woke up to news reports that someone had unleashed a mass shooting of cops in Dallas. I get it that the shooter wanted to exact revenge for the police killings of Castile and Sterling (as well as the previous police killings of people like Freddie Grey, Eric Garner, and Sandra Bland) but the only problem is that the officers who were killed in Dallas had absolutely nothing to do with all those other killings. The police officers in Dallas had been monitoring the peaceful Black Lives Matter protest there just to make sure that the protests remained peaceful. In other words, they were just doing their jobs and they were senselessly murdered for it. Those Dallas killings aren’t going to bring back those African Americans who had already been killed by the police in other cities and, in fact, it brings a bad reputation for the Black Lives Matter movement as a whole.

I feel like the U.S. is just like the old Weimar Republic in Germany. Like the Weimar Republic the U.S. has been struggling with a broken economy where a lot of people are either unemployed or underemployed. Like the Weimar Republic the U.S. is seeing its share of street violence like the all-too-frequent mass shootings (such as the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando). Like the Weimar Republic you see the mainstream media manipulating public opinion so this year’s elections will boil down to a match between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in much the same way that Adolf Hitler charmed the mainstream media in the Weimar Republic so much that they did stories about him and influenced public opinion. Like the Weimar Republic you hear Latinos and Muslims in the U.S. being made into scapegoats of all of the existing problems in the same way that Jews and Gypsies were once made into scapegoats. Like the Weimar Republic there is extreme income inequality between the haves and the have nots complete with food insecurity and homelessness. Something is wrong when you have war veterans begging on the streets throughout many cities in the U.S. that echo this 1923 photo of a disabled World War I vet begging on the streets of Berlin.

The main difference between the U.S. and the Weimar Republic is that there hasn’t been hyperinflation—yet. But if current economic conditions continue in the U.S., who knows what will happen.

It’s no wonder that Donald Trump has gotten followers for invoking a nostalgia for America while bashing those who aren’t white heterosexual Christians men with no disabilities in the exact same way that Adolf Hitler got followers. The main difference is the strong possibility that Trump is running for president as a way of both stroking his huge ego and (probably) throwing the race to getting his friend Hillary Clinton elected. There are rumors that Trump doesn’t even want to do the day-to-day job as president, he just wants to be able to brag that, yes, he once ran for office and won. At least Hitler seriously wanted to rule Germany, which is one of the few positive things I can say about him.

Anyone who thinks that electing Hillary Clinton will usher in a new era of high employment full of well-paying middle class jobs with police no longer killing unarmed African Americans for trivial reasons is delusional. I’m old enough to remember when her husband was in office and he was the one who championed NAFTA, which resulted in hemorrhaging more jobs out of the U.S. along with “ending welfare as we know it” that didn’t provide well paying jobs to welfare recipients so they could support themselves but, instead, made the poverty situation even worse by fraying the social safety net. Both Bill and Hillary Clinton are closely tied to Wall Street and they are sympathetic to the corporations shifting jobs overseas. And that’s not to mention Hillary Clinton’s infamous quote that African Americans needed to be brought to heel, which resulted in this confrontation by a Black Lives Matter activist on the campaign trail a few months ago and Clinton not even attempting to engage her in any way.

And that’s not to mention how much people dislike Hillary Clinton in general. The late political blogger Steve Gilliard mentioned her as being among the most detested politicians back in 2007 and she is still disliked among the right wing, the left wing, and young people of all political persuasions. I still remember those bumper stickers from the 1990’s that said “Impeach Clinton—and Her Husband.” If she gets elected, I wouldn’t be surprised if those bumper stickers make a comeback.

Likewise anyone who thinks about voting for Donald Trump in an effort—to use his campaign’s slogan—“make America great again” is also delusional, especially if you’re a lower income person. I have long known about Trump ever since he published his first book, The Art of the Deal, and he has long bragged about how he’s rich, and therefore, better than most people simply because he is rich. Sure he was instrumental in creating Trump Tower and other Trump-branded properties throughout Manhattan but I don’t recall him ever being concerned about constructing affordable housing. I don’t recall him ever setting up any charitable foundations to help lower income people or did anything to indicate that he actually gives a damn about helping the less fortunate. I don’t see him starting to become concerned about the plight of—let’s say—the homeless if he does get elected. And that’s not to mention his history of multiple bankruptcies or his cringe-inducing comments about how he would’ve dated Ivanka Trump if she wasn’t his daughter.

I think that not only is the U.S. just like the Weimar Republic but it has been that way for the last few years. As for President Barack Obama, I voted for this guy twice but he mostly failed in his promise of bringing hope and change. To be fair, he had to deal with an obstructionist Republican majority in Congress who had it in for President Obama from day one of his administration because he was both a Democrat and an African American. But when you have a president who refused to prosecute those on Wall Street who tanked the economy back in 2008 so they are free to continue their corporate crimes and when you have a president who is currently trying to push adoption of both the TTP and the TTIP (which are both ultra-secret trade deals that are rumored to be “NAFTA on steroids” and the few leaked provisions call for corporations to actually overrule national sovereignty) against the will of the majority of Americans, I have to say that he is not blameless for the mostly unfavorable opinion I have of him. Not even his championing of legalizing same-sex marriage is enough for me to overcome the disappointment I have felt for him and his administration and I think history will eventually judge him harshly.

The U.S. is just like the Weimar Republic and unless we have a government that actually tries to do something about the situation, then our current system of government will be replaced by something far worse. After all, look at what ultimately happened in Germany when the Weimar Republic was replaced.

Black lives matter. Police lives matter. Everyone matters. We are the 99%.

Ramadan

The weekend before the DC primary election there was this special art exhibition at The Fridge that was dedicated to Bernie Sanders. I attended the Friday night opening reception. While I was traveling via Metro I saw a woman who was obviously dressed for Awesome Con, which was held the same weekend. (I haven’t been to Awesome Con since 2014 mainly because of financial reasons but I was also turned off by the crowds. I attended the first year in 2013 and I liked the fact that it was relatively small and laid-back. The following year it had literally doubled in size so it was very crowded and full of very long lines. The entrance fee had also doubled in price compared to the year before. It was a letdown compared to that first year where I could go to any panel without having to wait in any long lines.)

A Photo I Took on the Way to the Bern the System Event in DC

The Fridge is located just a couple of blocks away from the Eastern Market Metro station and it’s located in an area of Capitol Hill known as Barracks Row because of the Marine Corps barracks located in that area. It’s a pretty trendy area full of upscale bars and restaurants. I took a photo of this really attractive mural that is located on the side of an Asian restaurant known as Hooshi.

A Photo I Took on the Way to the Bern the System Event in DC

I found The Fridge with no problem. Here are my photos from that event.

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

On the way back to the Eastern Market Metro I decided to check out this cupcake shop known as Sweet Lobby [ http://www.sweetlobby.com ], whose biggest claim to fame is that the owner of this place once won first place on an episode of The Food Network show Cupcake Wars. I decided to purchase a Smores cupcake to take home with me. I opened its pretty box the next day. I found that it tasted excellent. It had a graham cracker base with a chocolate cupcake that’s topped with marshmallow icing. It was so awesome! I’ll definitely keep this place in mind the next time I visit the Barracks Row part of Capitol Hill.

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

Bern the System at The Fridge

Ramadan

Previous post in this series.

htd8

Howard the Duck #8
Open Season
January, 1977

Credits: Steve Gerber, writer; Gene Colan, artist; Steve Leialoha, inker; Archie Goodwin, editor; I. Watanabe, letterer; Jan Cohen, colorist

Synopsis: The story picks up where the Marvel Treasury Edition #12: Howard the Duck left off. Howard and Beverly give their good-byes to Dr. Strange and the rest of The Defenders while someone have put Howard in the cross-hairs of his rifle. As the pair walk away from the mansion, Beverly begins to get on Howard’s case for turning down Dr. Strange’s offer to spend the night at the mansion because they are broke and they really have no other place to stay.

At that point a shot rings out and a man with a rifle falls down from the rooftop of a nearby building dead. Howard sees another rifleman running along the rooftops away from the scene and he suggests to Beverly that they run in the opposite direction. The fleeing gunman climbs down into an alley where another gunman is hiding. It turns out that both of them are looking to assassinate Howard the Duck. They deal with this competition over which one of them will have the privilege of killing the duck by shooting each other dead.

Howard and Beverly soon realize that there are people who want to kill him because he is the All-Night Party’s candidate for President of the United States. At that moment the Rolls Royce limousine belonging to country music star Dreyfuss Gultch pulls up and Gultch urges Howard and Beverly to get into his bulletproof car. As the pair get inside and the vehicle pulls away, Christoper Street turns into a war zone as three different gunmen appear and start shooting at the Rolls Royce.

Dreyfuss Gultch says that people are trying to kill Howard because they object to his campaign promises. When Howard says that he hasn’t made any campaign promises, Dreyfuss says that the ad agency that the All-Night Party hired had been making such promises on his behalf as the limousine pulls into the garage located below the ad agency’s office.

When Howard finally sees the posters and other ad campaign materials he becomes so outraged over the hokum of the ad’s message that he demands to speak to the head of the ad agency, G.Q. Studley. When Studley arrives he is glad to finally meet the duck in person that he proceeds to have his underlings remake the duck’s appearance in an image that’s based on such things as focus group surveys and other types of marketing research. While Howard is getting re-dressed against his will in a side room, Studley tells Beverly that these days a candidate doesn’t think, he merely recites talking points based on market research. Howard emerges in a red suit, white shirt, blue tie, and sporting a set of false teeth while Studley says that Howard looks magnificent. Howard reacts to his makeover by biting Studley in the nose with his new false teeth, taking off his new suit, and walking out of the room. Subsequently Howard would hire a new ad agency based on a name that he sees in a phone book: Mad Genius Associates.

By September, 1976 Howard’s presidential campaign would be a major topic on a major television network’s evening news. Over the past few months Mad Genius Associates apparently gave Howard far more leeway in how he wanted to campaign because Howard goes to various rallies where he simply speaks out on a variety of topics ranging from the environment to defense spending. The same news story had reactions to Howard’s campaign from his challengers Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

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By October, 1976 Beverly is walking through Central Park by herself incognito. She misses the loss of privacy since the campaign began and is tired of constantly hearing about heavy topics like the economy. She gets startled by a man who comes up to her but he says that he’s only here to feed the ducks. He looks a lot like the bellhop from that hotel in Howard the Duck #7. As Beverly walks away the man says that he loves ducks so much that he makes a point to throttle one every single day while he’s strangling an innocent duck.

On November 1, 1976 Howard and Beverly show up at Dreyfuss Gultch’s ranch where they meet some men who are described as representing some powerful interests. They offer Howard the chance for them to support Howard’s presidential campaign in exchange for some favors once Howard makes it to the Oval Office. Howard turns them down because he says that he’s running as a people’s candidate who advocates a clean government free from corruption.

A few hours later Howard holds a televised press conference in New York City and one comic book page consists mainly of a transcript from that event where Howard speaks out on a variety of topics ranging from pardoning Vietnam draft evaders to violence in popular culture. As Howard and Beverly walk away from that press conference after it ends, the pair evade a woman throwing a doll with a bomb inside, a construction girder that someone has snapped on purpose and it’s aimed directly at the pair, and a driverless car that comes close to pinning them to a nearby brick wall. On top of that they encounter a service station attendant who douses Howard with gas. They manage to overpower him and escape before he is able to throw a lit match at them.

Howard and Beverly manage to reach their hotel room where Dreyfuss Gultch has even more bad news for the two of them. The story ends when he shows the pair the front page of a newspaper that features a photo showing the couple bathing together with the headline “Scandal Plucks Duck.”

Topical 1970’s References: The 1976 Presidential Campaign, including appearances in the comic book by real-life candidates Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. The legendary CBS newsman Walter Cronkite is satirized as Walter Klondike.

The Bottom Line: If there were such a thing as the perfect Howard the Duck comic book, issue 8 would be it, in my humble opinion. This issue ranks among the finest and most memorable of the original 1970’s comic book series. From the cover showing an agitated Howard literally bursting through the newspaper to the awesome art and the writing, this is the issue I would introduce to any newbie who’s curious about what Howard the Duck is all about. In fact, this issue and what’s currently going on in this year’s elections were the ones that gave me the inspiration to do this little summer Throwback Thursday blog project in the first place.

The political satire is totally spot-on and the slapstick farce of various would-be assassins literally killing each other so they could end up becoming the one who kills the duck is completely hysterical. At the time it was published it resonated so much with people that, according to the Wikipedia, Howard the Duck actually got hundreds of write-in votes in the 1976 presidential election.

What’s really sad is that today much of the satire is just as relevant as it was when it was first published. The only dated references are the ones made about Walter Cronkite, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, and the issue of granting amnesty to draft dodgers of the Vietnam War. Otherwise this issue could be reprinted as a stand-alone single issue and sold at comic book stores today and people would still feel moved enough to buy it.

Ever since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision the amount of money poured into elections by special interests has grown even worse than back in the 1970’s. Not too long ago Hillary Clinton attended a fundraiser at the San Francisco home of venture capitalist Sherwin Pishevar that included George and Amal Clooney. According to Politico.com, anyone wanting to attend that event had to buy tickets that cost $33,400 per person. (Man, that’s way more than what I’ve earned last year.) What’s more, there were two seats available at a table where Hillary Clinton and the Clooneys were dining together. Anyone wanting to sit in either seat had to pay a whopping $353,4000. (For that same amount, I could buy one of those new upscale luxury townhouses that are currently being built in a new development in my town.)

Then there are the political consultants who tend to latch on to campaigns like parasites and most of these candidates tend to hang on to their every word as if they were God and they do what the consultants says they should do (based on the usual market research that includes focus group surveys). People like James Carville, Mary Matalin, Frank Luntz, and the late Lee Atwater have all made their careers as political consultants.

Howard the Duck’s outspokenness on various issues along with his campaign being seen as an insurgent campaign seems to predict this year’s similar campaigns of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, although I think Howard tends to be more similar to the former because his shoot-from-the-hip-say-anything-no-matter-the-cost style seems to predict Trump’s similar campaign style (the main difference is that Howard never ventured anywhere near the blunt racism of Trump’s campaign). The fact that Howard turned down the offer from some powerful vested interests to help Howard win the election because he’s interested in running a clean campaign echoes Sanders’ efforts to run a campaign that’s free from special interests that represent the 1%.

Then there are the frequent assassination attempts against Howard. Recently there was an assassination attempt against Donald Trump that was foiled, which is another reason why Howard seems to eerily predict Donald Trump’s campaign decades later. Who knows how many similar attempts will be made against Trump and his two rivals (Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders) before Election Day?

It’s only too bad that writer Steve Gerber (who passed away in 2008) didn’t live to see this year’s elections because it would’ve been interesting to hear him weighing in on it, especially in regards to the parallels between what’s currently going on in politics and the 1970’s Howard the Duck #8.

The back of Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection Volume 1 has extras in the back of the book that are mostly related to Howard’s presidential campaign. Howard the Duck appears in a two page spread of Crazy magazine (which was Marvel’s attempt to emulate other black and white humor magazines like Mad and Cracked) that have limericks devoted to all those who ran in the 1976 presidential elections, including Howard.

The book also has vintage ads hyping Howard’s presidential run as well as ads selling Howard the Duck campaign buttons and posters. What’s really fascinating about the spin-off products is that, based on what the ads and accompanying interviews that were also reprinted (mainly from FOOM magazine) said, it looked like writer and co-creator Steve Gerber had set up a side venture known as Mad Genius Associates (which is also the name of the ad agency that Howard the Duck hires to represent him after he fired G.Q. Studley’s agency) which manufactured and sold these buttons and posters on his own free time aside from his day job. What’s more, Marvel seemed to have given Steve Gerber its blessing to do this on his own to the point where it even provided ad space in its comic books. I can’t imagine Marvel allowing any of its staff to do anything like this to any of its characters today, especially since Disney (a company notorious for guarding its copyrighted characters) purchased the company a few years ago.

This issue was reprinted in Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 1, which can be purchased online at AbeBooks, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, BookDepository, Google Play, Half.com, IndieBound, Indigo, Powell’s.

Next post in this series.

The Howard the Duck Series

Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 1

The Early Stories
Howard the Duck #1-3
Howard the Duck #4-5
Howard the Duck #6
Howard the Duck #7 and Marvel Treasury Edition #12: Howard the Duck
Howard the Duck #8
Howard the Duck #9-11
Howard the Duck #12-14
Howard the Duck King Size Annual #1 and Howard the Duck #15
Howard the Duck #16

Howard the Duck: The Complete Collection, Volume 2

Howard the Duck #17-19
Howard the Duck #20-22
Howard the Duck #23-25
Howard the Duck #26-28
Howard the Duck #29-31
Howard the Duck Magazine #1

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