A TARNISHED SHARD
by Shaun Costello
America used to have allies in this world: England, Canada, France, the NATO Alliance, and the rest. We went through WWII together. We were united as common democracies. Now America has turned its back on our long-time friends, and has reached out to our new pals – the Gangster dictatorships: Putin’s Russia, Dudirty’s Philippines, and North Korea. We no longer have any trade partners. Trump disbanded the TPP, giving all of Asia to China. We are in a Tariff war with our former closest allies, Canada, the EU, the UK, and Mexico. We, a nation of immigrants, have closed our borders to those seeking asylum from violence and political turmoil. America has made a mockery of its constitution. Trump has done exactly what he promised his hateful, racist followers, during his campaign. He has destroyed the structure and integrity of the American government. The occupant of the White House is no longer the leader of the free world. He is, instead, an opportunistic, self-serving, self-promoting greed monger, hell bent on filling his pockets with every penny he can pilfer from America’s coffers. And his poll numbers are going up. America likes him. America’s once-shining star is a tarnished shard of the nation that gave hope to so many.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Not any more!
GREEDY FACEBOOK TAKES ON NEW ROLE – AMERICA’S MORAL COMPASS
By Shaun Costello
Facebook, sometimes known as the AMERICAN BOTS AND TROLLS SOCIETY, in an attempt to reverse the world-wide perception that its rabid greed for advertising revenues, and lack of interest in who exactly does that advertising, was directly responsible for putting Donald Trump in the White House, is taking on a new role as America’s moral compass. Yes folks, there’s a new Sheriff in town, and his name is Mark Zuckerberg, and he’s the Imperial Wizard of Facebook’s Morality Police.
Facebook’s membership will now he held to a whole new set of codified regulations that will determine what can be said, and what can not, on the pages of this vaunted internet venue. So, Facebook’s subscribers will be punished, as compensation for the internet cash cow’s greed and irresponsibility.
On May 25th, someone shared an article on Facebook about the dubious behavior of a State Representative in New Hampshire. (Link Below)
It seems that, in an attempt to prevent the moral hazards of public nudity, the politician stated that, if a woman were to expose her breast in public to nurse an infant, he had the right to grab the breast in question. I was outraged by the brazen insensitivity and sanctimonious presumptions in the politician’s statement. So, beneath it, in the comments section, I wrote, “Men are such assholes”. A few hours later, I was notified that I was to be blocked from posting on Facebook for a period of three days, for breaking Facebook’s new code of regulations. I was stunned. In an attempt to appeal what I considered to be an outrage, I clicked on a few boxes until I found myself offered a venue to explain my outrage. Into that box, I typed the following:
“The comment that I made in response to a New Hampshire State Representative, who stated openly that if any woman in his state bared her breast to feed an infant in public, he had the right to grab it. I responded, “Men are such assholes”. Was the New Hampshire Representative blocked for making this horrific remark? Of course not. It’s bad enough that Facebook helped put Trump in the White House, but now Facebook takes on the sanctimonious role of The Morality Police. And by the way, I stand by my comment”.
When I clicked send, a notice appeared that said, “We could not process your request. Please try again later”. I tried ten additional times and got the same notice each time. This tells me, of course, that the appeal function, falsely offered by Facebook, is intentionally defective; to create the illusion of fairness, while blocking one’s ability to effectively protest.
So, Facebook’s advertising juggernaut, which has conspired to give the world President Donald J. Trump, marches full speed ahead, with multi-billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, a knight in shining armor at its head, sowing the newly embraced seeds of morality, as it reaps its fortunes, unregulated by a cowardly Congress, tacitly approving a State Representative’s threats to grab the breast of any woman who has the temerity to nurse her child in public; while simultaneously punishing its membership for calling him an asshole.
© 2018 Shaun Costello
I was awakened about 3AM by the light. The kitchen lights were on. Had I left them on before going to sleep? I got up to reconnoiter. The office lights were on as well, and the computer. What the fuck? I could never have gone to bed with everything on, but I was too tired to care. I turned everything off and went back to sleep.
Jazzbo begins his morning assault on my blissful unconsciousness at approximately 5AM. He begins with subtle murmurs, and gradually steps up the decibel level and physicality of his attack, until a few minutes before six when, while sitting squarely on my chest, the biting begins. He knows this is effective because it works every morning. I sit up on the edge of the bed and, after a series of head butts on my legs, we settle in to some head scratching, back petting, and tail stroking. OK, I’m up now. I turn on the light, grope for my flip flops, and mosey toward the kitchen, with Jazzbo weaving between my legs at every step.
The routine is always the same. I turn on the lights in the office, then the computer. Next is the kitchen, and making coffee – but wait…..not this morning. Something’s wrong. On the counter, next to the coffee maker is my cup – the one I use every morning. There’s coffee residue on the bottom. It’s been used. The coffee maker is filled with cold coffee. I always wash it after it’s done its work. And Jazzbo’s milk snack bowl is on the counter with some milk still sitting on the bottom. What is happening? Then it dawns on me. The lights at 3AM. At some point in the middle of the night I must have awakened, thinking it was 6AM. It’s just as dark here at six as at three. And I began my morning routine of turning on the lights, the computer, and the coffee maker. I even drank a cup of coffee. And I gave Jazzbo his milk snack. I have no memory whatsoever of doing any of this. Was I sleep walking? Did I have a psychotic episode? Is this early Alzheimers? I have no idea what triggered this event, or any recollection of Jazzbo’s participation. He was probably too freaked out by my sleep walking to join in.
Here’s what normally happens:
After I’ve poured the water into the coffee maker, Jazzbo attacks the empty sink, lapping up what water he can find. This is disgusting, and I tell him so every morning, but he’s a creature of habit, and his sink fun is an integral part of his early routine. Next, I measure some coffee into the machine, and turn it on. Then the geezer pills – five of them. Jazzbo helps by trying to head butt the pill container out of my hands and onto the floor. He’s sometimes successful, sometimes not. Next, the ‘Where is it’ game begins; and Jazzbo, knowing what come next, becomes agitated, and begins pacing back and forth on the counter. I take the container of cat treats out of the cabinet, and head toward the bedroom. Halfway there I begin the shake the little bag and I hear ka thump – ka thump, as Jazzbo descends from the counter to the floor by way of a small table I placed there for his convenience. (After all, he’s twelve) I sit down in a chair and count out four treats. These are given to him individually, accompanied by embarrassing ‘yum yum’ sounds. Then I count out six more, which I place in front of him on the floor.
While Jazzbo’s gobbling up his treats and the coffee maker is finishing its work, I walk to the office to check email. I then click on the New York Times’ web site, and head back to the kitchen for my first cup. Jazzbo’s already sitting on the counter, waiting anxiously for his milk snack. I pour myself a cup, and take the milk container out of the fridge. Jazzbo becomes highly agitated, attempting to knock the container out of my hands. I take his bowl out of the cabinet and pour him some. Then off to the office to read all the news that fits.
This has been our morning routine for many years. But I guess it’s all different now, given that I have obviously lost my mind and become a rabid sleep frolicker. Maybe we have a poltergeist. No, that would be too easy. I’m just nuts now. That must be it. Why did this happen? I’m open to any suggestions. Something must have caused this to happen, but what? Could I be suffering from Trump Anxiety? Maybe I’m not alone. Could America become so Trumpatized that we are turning into a nation of sleep walkers? Maybe, tomorrow morning, after I succumb to Jazzbo’s early morning assault, I will awaken to find that it’s all been a dream. That Hillary had won be a large margin and that all was well and good in the world. Or would that be too easy?
© 2017 Shaun Costello
HAS AMERICA SIMPLY BEEN A LIE ALL ALONG?
Do you suppose that America is simply an enormous lie that we all bought into? The Home of the Brave was carefully presented to us, when we were all too young to know the difference, by the brush of Norman Rockwell and the lens of Frank Capra. Were we hoodwinked? The twentieth century saw America emerge as an imperialist, expansionist, unstoppable juggernaut, swallowing little countries one after another. Building the canal and annexing Panama. Faking the explosion of The Maine in Havana harbor to start a phony war with Spain, out of which America gobbled up Puerto Rico and the Philippines. America, in spite of popular belief, did not win World War Two, the Russians did. After that war, the newly formed CIA went to work deposing elected heads of state in Iran, and throughout Central and South America, and replacing them with dictatorial strong men friendly to ever-expanding America, and willing to cash in on the CIA’s seemingly limitless payroll. Then America replaced France in Southeast Asia, defoliating tiny countries who wound up kicking the crap out of us. The American demonizing of Communism became a world wide joke. The USSR would die of its own faulty reality, not of anything America and its CIA could conjure. And George Bush decided to invade Iraq in a felonious war the would forever change the balance of power in the Middle East, and create the largest refugee crisis since World War Two. We Americans are an arrogant bunch, sweeping our many sins under the carpet while marching the path of self righteousness. We never forgave African Americans their freedom, espousing our fair mindedness in between lynchings, both public and private. And now America has Donald Trump, an openly misogynistic, racist, white supremacist buffoon, moving into the White House. Maybe we’ve finally gotten exactly what we deserve. These feelings have been festering inside me since Black Tuesday. They simply won’t go away. Has it all been a lie all Along? I’m just asking.
TRUMP IMMEDIATELY NAMES WHITE HOUSE SENIOR STAFF
AND FILLS CABINET POSTS
In a stunning announcement, just hours after winning the most shocking upset in American political history, Stephen Bannon, newly appointed White House Chief of Staff, shocked the world’s press by announcing the names of all of Donald Trump’s incoming senior White House staff, as well as the names of all Cabinet level appointments. Evidently the Trump transitional team has been planning the shape of a Trump administration for a while now. The immediacy of Bannon’s announcement caught the press corps off guard, as did Trump’s stunning victory. The list of appointments is as follows:
White House Chief of Staff – Stephen Bannon
Bannon, former head of the Breitbart News Network, and conspiracy theorist aficionado, took over the Trump campaign in mid-stream, and guided it to victory. Trump and Bannon seem copacetic, and Trump has given Bannon a free hand in shaping his message.
White House Communications director – Ann Coulter
In a job made famous by Toby Ziegler in The West Wing, Ann’s famous way with words should bode well for getting out the Trump Message – Her first assignment will be setting up the Trump Network’s “All Trump Radio Station”, which will give a hungry electorate a heavy dose, 24 hours a day, of Trumporama. Ann is excited and already planning her station play list.
White House Press Secretary – Sean Hannity
Hannity’s long tenure at Fox News had prepared him well for the task of interacting between White House senior staff and the Washington Press Corps. Hannity suggested that his reputation as a hate monger and smear merchant is greatly exaggerated, and that he’s really a pussy cat at heart, and can’t wait to interact, in a caring and sensitive way, with his colleagues in the Press.
White House Special Counsel – Marcia Clark
Bannon claims that Trump has long been a fan of Marcia Clark’s brilliant handling of the prosecution of OJ Simpson. Clark was not immediately available for comment, but informed sources claim that she is greatly concerned with presenting herself with the correct hair style appropriate for a White House Counsel.
Secretary of State – Newt Gingrich
This is an appointment that should surprise no one. Gringrich has been a long time Trump advisor and said he looked forward to the challenge this important job would bring. When asked if his startling resemblance to Sponge Bob Square Pants might limit his effectiveness as a Secretary of State, Gingrich refused comment.
Secretary of the Treasury – Sheldon Adelson
Long time casino compadre, and contributor to Republican campaigns, Adelson claims that running Treasury should be no different than running his casinos. He said, “We’ll just let the arithmetic work its magic.”
Secretary of Homeland Security – Joe Arpaio
Arpaio, recently unemployed after losing his election as Sheriff of Maricopa County, said that he can’t wait to get that wall going. When asked his favorite movie he responded, “That’s easy, Wet Wetback’s Badasss Song.”
Attorney General – Rudy Giuliani
No stranger to the Justice Department, and a long time Trump devotee, Giuliani claimed that, as long as he stays on his proper medication, he could run the Justice Department like a well oiled machine.
Surgeon General – Ben Carson
Carson, a real life surgeon, claimed that he was excited to take on the task of ‘America’s doctor’. He feels that the same logical approach he employed during the primaries, answering questions with painstaking exactitude, should bode well for his success.
Secrtetary of Defense – Hulk Hogan
The Hulkster seems surprised but pleased with his appointment, and looks forward to rolling up his sleeves and getting to work, kicking some Pentagon butt. Can he make America strong again? You betcha.
Secretary of Education – Sarah Palin
This is a move that should surprise no one. Trump felt that the names she gave her children indicates Palin’s imaginative involvement in the betterment of young America. And her ability to clearly communicate her ideas should bode well for her success. Palin, a Trump favorite, was not available for comment.
Secretary of Energy – David Koch
“Clean coal is the secret to an American turn around”, claimed Koch in a recent interview. When asked to define clean coal, Koch spoke about the need for more pipe lines, and expressed the need to put a stop to the antics of “Those pesky Injuns.”
Secretary of the Interior – Jan Brewer
The Interior Department should play a key role in the building of ‘The Wall’, and Brewer, sometimes referred to as “The ugliest woman in the world”, has been on that border for decades, keeping an eye on those Mexican rapists and drug dealers. She knows a thing or two and has her new boss’s complete confidence.
Secretary of Agriculture – Kellyanne Conway
An original cast member of Housewives of the Jersey Shore, and a Trump loyalist, Conway can use her experience at the farm stands of Southern New Jersey, in making America’s farms come to life again. The breadbasket of the world looks like it’s in good hands.
Scretary of Commerce – Bernie Madoff
In a surprise move, and with special release from incarceration for the length of his appointment arranged by Rudy Giuliani, Madoff claimed he was ready and up to the task. Trump replied, ‘There’s nobody like Bernie to make America rich again.”
Secretary of Labor – Katrina Pierson
Pierson, who became famous during the campaign, for taking a complex issue and explaining it with gentle simplicity, seemed shocked at her appointment. Stephen Bannon exclaimed, “The unions won’t know what hit them.”
Secertary of Health and Human Services – Bobby Knight
Knight’s feisty ways should prove helpful in cleaning up a department long known as a provider of benefits to malingerers. Bannon claimed, “Bobby knows how to get things done. Half the people on welfare in this country are heroin addicts. That’s a known fact.” The recent revelations of Knight’s fascination with the testicles of his players, down through the years, was not mentioned in his appointment.
Director of the EPA – Charles Koch
The appointment of the second Koch brother to fill Trump’s cabinet should surprise no one. Koch has long had a keen interest in the environment, and the scientific interdiction with climate change.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development – David Duke
Duke’s successful management of fraternal organizations should prove useful in the complex tasks of cleaning up America’s cities. He’s uniquely qualified to deal with racial issues in urban centers that plague America.
Secretary of Transportation – Richard Petty
Both Trump and Bannon are long time Nascar fans, and when it looked like the electoral scale was tipping in Trump’s direction, he told Bannon, “It’s about time we had a Transportation Secretary that knew a thing or two about transportation. Get old Richie on the phone. He’ll make America fast again.”
Postmaster General – Kayleigh McEnany
Long a fan of the privatization of the postal system, Trump told Bannon that he’ll give it one last chance to clean up its act. “Kayleigh will raise some hell over there. Clean the place out. Get rid of those fucking mailmen. Bunch of free loaders. And besides, did you ever get a look at her legs?”
Director of the Veteran’s Administration – Curt Schilling
Schilling’s athletic prowess was in the forefront in Trump’s decision to offer him the job. “He’s an even tempered guy, very much like myself. He’s the guy to clean up the mess at the VA.”
Ambassador to the United Nations – A.J. Delgado
A Republican Latina, Delgado impressed many during her tenure as a Trump surrogate, making countless appearances on CNN during the campaign, and winning the respect of broadcast journalists with her ability to explain Trump’s message with utmost clarity.
CIA Director – Donald Trump Jr.
“You got to keep a job like this in the family”, Trump recently explained to Bannon. “You never know when might need to put Langley to good use. Some private business. Hell, Nixon used the shit out of them. With my kid in charge, we’ve got them by the balls.”
National Security Advisor – Ted Nugent
Rock star and fire arms aficionado, Ted Nugent had been a long time Trump supporter, and fully supports the ‘Bomb the shit out of them’ approach to National security.
For the next four years America will be in the hands of the individuals listed above. Trump has made his choices, and history will be the judge of their success or failure.
© 2016 Shaun Costello
THE BLAME GAME
by Shaun Costello
“If a potential political opponent scares you, blame them for every disaster in the book. Some of it is bound to stick.”
The philosophy of Karl Rove
1861…The Federal Garrison at Fort Sumter, South Carolina was fired upon by Confederate Militia, which began the American Civil War. The Secretary of State was William Henry Seward. Was Seward blamed for the Civil War? Hardly.
1914…Arch Duke Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated by a Serbian nationalist in Sarajevo, which began World War One. The Secretary of State was Robert Lansing. Was Lansing blamed for World War One? Hardly.
1941…The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, causing America to enter World War Two. The Secretary of State was Cordell Hull. Was Hull blamed for World War Two? Hardly.
1975…In April of that year, the last Americans were evacuated from our Embassy in Saigon. America had lost the war. The Secretary of State was Henry Kissinger. Was Kissinger blamed for losing the Vietnam War? Hardly.
1979…The American Embassy in Tehran was overrun by Muslim extremists. 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days. The Secretary of State was Cyrus Vance. Was Vance blamed for the Hostage Crisis? Hardly.
1983…The American Marine Barracks in Beirut was bombed by Muslim terrorists, killing 241 U.S. Marines. The Secretary of State was George Schultz. Was Schultz blamed for the bombing? Hardly.
1998…The American Embassy in Nairobi was bombed by al Qaeda terrorists, killing 224, including 12 Americans. The Secretary of State was Madeleine Albright. Was Albright blamed for the bombing? Hardly.
2001…On September 11th, al Qaeda terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and The Pentagon. 2,996 innocent people lost their lives. The Secretary of State was Colin Powell. Was Powell blamed for the 9/11 attacks? Hardly.
2012…On September 11th, a date that was hardly a coincidence, Muslim extremists attacked the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, lost their lives. The Secretary of State was Hillary Clinton. Was Clinton blamed for the Benghazi attack? Absolutely, and by every opportunistic, right wing conspiracy theorist on the planet. All the previous disasters listed above took place in another era. Before amoral right wing gangsters like Dick Cheney and Karl Rove would redefine political tactics forever by perfecting the art of mud-slinging to a degree unheard of in American politics. Nixon’s dirty tricks teams were minor league compared to Cheney and Rove.
In 2003, the CIA sent Ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger, to substantiate the statement made by President George Bush in a State of the Union Address, that Saddam Hussein had purchased uranium from Africa. The Bush administration was desperately trying to justify its plans to invade Iraq, and there was no evidence of any of the weapons of mass destruction that Bush and Cheney had been peddling to the press, and to Congress. Wilson found no evidence to support Bush’s claims of the African/Uranium transaction. Cheney, Rove and Scooter Libby all tried to persuade Wilson to fudge his report, which
he refused to do. The White House upped the ante, and began threatening to ruin Wilson unless he lied to Congress. Wilson still refused. Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA covert operative. When Cheney found out, he met with Rove and Libby and they hatched a plan to leak Plame’s CIA identity to the press through right wing columnist Art Novak.
Novak outed Plame’s CIA identity in his column. Bush’s CIA Director, George Tenet, was ordered to fire Plame, which he did. Plame’s covert networks were rolled up all over the Middle East. No one knows how many of her agents were assassinated as a result, but there must have been many.
Wilson made enough noise to get Congress to have a Special Prosecutor appointed. To save themselves from the embarrassment of being involved in any of this, Cheney and Rove threw Scooter Libby under the bus. Libby was ordered to fall on his sword. Revealing the identity of a covert CIA operative is a felony. Libby was found guilty of Obstruction of Justice, and two counts of Perjury. He was sentenced to pay $250,000 in fines and thirty months in federal prison. The sentence was, of course, commuted by Bush.
Let’s return to 2012, and the Benghazi affair. It was well known that Hillary Clinton intended to retire from her post as Secretary of State by the end of that year. She loomed large as a potential Presidential candidate in 2016. Polling data told the RNC that she was a 500 pound gorilla that they could not defeat. She enjoyed enormous popularity. When Benghazi happened, Cheney and Rove swung into action. A Congressional investigation was held to determine who was to blame for the deaths of the four Americans.
Hillary Clinton, still Secretary of State, appeared before the committee and the innuendoes began – subtle at first, then pretty blatant. Cheney and Rove met with key Republican congressmen. If they couldn’t beat Hillary in an election, they would defeat her in the court of public opinion. Four Americans were dead, and it must be Hillary’s fault. Karl Rove studied at the school of Joseph Goebbels, who had all but invented the Big Lie Theory. If you lie loud enough and often enough, sooner or later, people would begin to believe you. So, Congressman Trey Gowdy’s preposterous Benghazi Committee began its assault on Hillary Clinton. It lasted four years and cost American tax payers a fortune, and when it was over, the final report absolved Hillary Clinton of any blame for anything. But the damage had been done. The televised committee accused Clinton of so many offenses, so many times, that some of the mud began to stick. The RNC even arranged to have the mother of one of the Benghazi victims speak at last week’s Republican Convention, where she blamed Hillary Clinton for the death of her son. Either they paid this poor woman to accuse Clinton, or promised her something she needed, or the poor woman is completely delusional. The families of the other three victims told a totally different story.
So, Cheney and Rove applied Goebbels’ Big Lie theory to the 500 pound gorilla, and cut her down to size. Polls are showing a neck and neck race in key battle ground states, between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. The Big Lie theory enabled Hitler to rise to power in 1933, and to stay there until one hundred million people lost their lives in six years of horrific carnage. And the Big Lie theory could play a key role in the unthinkable – that Donald Trump, a misogynist, racist, and tyrannical buffoon, could become President of The United States.
© 2016 Shaun Costello