American History 2016: The Ojijaak Files

By Ojijaak

March 20, 2016: We’ll Always Have Cape Breton

Cape Breton has offered itself as a refuge for those who feel that they would be uncomfortable living in the USA if Donald Trump were elected president. I am not certain that they have gone quite far enough, but there are no Starbucks on Cape Breton. Oh! Wait, Starbucks has just announced that my rewards will cost me more to earn. I might have to have another look at Cape Breton….but, I would prefer Prince Edward Island.

A man whom I greatly admired used to say that he would, “Vote for the Devil himself if he were running as a Republican.” That man died some years ago. This might have been a good year to test his resolve otherwise. At least, if not his total resolve, with the slate of candidates in 2016, he could test the theory of his convictions. Even I do not accuse the Donald of being Satan or the Antichrist; he’s not that smart.

Beyond Trump, the rest of the field in both parties is, to be kind, pathetic. Is this the best you can offer, America? Where have the good and decent leaders gone? Were there really ever any of those? It is irrelevant. This is what we have today. Let’s take a short look:

Bernie Sanders is, I believe, an honest man. He is what he is. No one who is seeking power for the sake of having it in the United States would self-identify as a socialist. In a perfect world, it would be hard to criticize Bernie’s visions of a better society. The problem is that Americans are suspicious of any sort of socialism, and because of that, Bernie could never hope to enact any significant change. It is also not possible to establish Senator Sanders’ America without either drastically reducing the budget in other areas or bankrupting the republic. As a person, I like the guy. I could never spend a vote on his behalf.

John Kasich is pragmatic. I like pragmatic. Pragmatic leaders are able to keep the line moving. The extreme right does not support pragmatism. Keeping the line moving does not interest them. There is to be no compromise with those whose views on any issue differs from the “conservative” paradigm. Words like moderate, compromise, or center are more offensive to many who identify themselves as Tea Party or evangelical than are poorly photoshopped images, evaluations of women based upon subjective standards of beauty, or discussion of their faith or conviction to that faith. It’s too bad; I would be able to support Governor Kasich with my vote, I think.

Ted Cruz is an obstructionist. Any elected representative who would shut down the entire government rather than to work to resolve differences is not fit for duty in a public office. For the record, his US citizenship is not at question. On that level, Senator Cruz is eligible to seek or hold the office of President of the United States…God forbid. He is the same sort of slick and sleazy person as the televangelists of a few years back who were found to be no more than self-serving hypocrites. It should be sufficient to note that Cruz has no close allies, political or otherwise as best can be seen.

Oh, yes, there is Mrs./Senator/Secretary Clinton (Hillary) to consider as well. If I were an advisor to Hillary, I would tell her that she is failing to avail herself of an opportunity to position herself as a conservative, a candidate for all seasons, as it were. She is, after all, exceptionally conservative in her expenditure of truth. She has historically portrayed herself as a victim…poor Hillary. Vast conspiracies have accused her and her family of innumerable bad acts. She points out that no charge has ever stuck to her. I would suggest that a jury’s finding of not guilty is not a finding of innocent. Where there is smoke, and in Hillary’s case lots of smoke, there is fire, and the Clintons have left a vapor trail at the least. Truth is truth, Hillary, not simply what you say that it is. As to conspiracy theories, there are still many Americans who contend that there was a shooter on the grassy knoll. There was not.

At the moment, the two candidates most likely to become nominees of their parties, Trump and Clinton, share the commonality of disregard for integrity and openness. Cape Breton or Prince Edward Island look attractive as soon as August. I would not have to wait until the Canadian winter makes relocation more difficult. I find no palatable choice between a tire fire and a train wreck.

My response to the field of candidates ranges from mildly supportive (Kasich) to disbelief (Sanders) to creeped out (Cruz) to outright revulsion (Trump, Clinton). Overall, I am distressed to see that this is the best that the public can call forth. It confirms H. L. Mencken’s observations: “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public,” and, “On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” So, is this field of morons-in-waiting the best we can offer to one another? Really?

Lest you think that I am just another angry voice, I will state that I understand and sympathize with Americans’ anger and frustration. I share those emotions. I do not believe, however, that choosing between a candidate who mirrors and amplifies those negative sentiments or one who proposes to continue policies that a majority describe as failed, is a good and valid choice. I also have a degree in Political Science for what it may be worth. To me, it suggests that I have put some thought into my analysis and opinion. I have done that, and I believe that I will cast a ballot for “None of the Above,” and get on with living as an expatriate.

April 29, 2016: And Now, the “News”

Today’s post is in the nature of mental housekeeping. Sorry. I am overwhelmed by the times, and I seem to have accumulated a great deal of waste that I feel compelled to share:

First, thankfully, we are nearing the end of the presidential primaries. After more than a full year, neither major party has nominated a presidential candidate. It is ridiculous, and it prompts me to believe that we should either abandon political parties, adopt a parliamentary form of government, or both. I like the idea of both. I also like the idea of disallowing any person a career as a professional political office holder. Let’s limit the total of time that any person can hold public office to fourteen years. It would allow, for example, one term in the U.S. House of Representatives plus two terms in the U.S. Senate. On the other hand, if one were to be elected to a four-year term as Mayor of East Jesus, then one would have to choose wisely as to what office to seek thereafter.

This does not prevent morons like Donald J. Trump from seeking high office. It is to be hoped that voters in their infinite wisdom could prevent them from actually achieving office. Given recent and expected primary results, though, I have grave doubts in this respect.

Next, a few recent thoughts gleaned from recent coverage of the five finalists:

I suspect that the Wharton School does not possess a strong English language program or requirement for graduation. A prominent alumnus seems not to know the difference between a hyphen and an apostrophe. Google Trump, Lyin’ Ted and then roll tape if you don’t get it.

Is it just me, or is it possible that Hillary Clinton is not a real person, but a bobblehead robot? Maybe she just has some bobblehead DNA. Maybe it is a serious health condition, some sort of palsy. She walks onstage clapping her hands in an exaggerated fashion, starts speaking, and then she evidently nods in agreement with herself…for the rest of her address. Google Hillary video clip if you don’t get it.

Remember that John Boehner met with the Pope last fall? Is it possible that Boehner received a revelation from the Holy Father? Damn, Mr. Speaker (yes, I know, former Speaker), Lucifer in the flesh? That’s pretty harsh judgment for the son of a preacher man, even one who has the stage presence of a hellfire and brimstone evangelist. Google Boehner and Cruz if you don’t get it.

The next time I am invited to join a poker game, I want to be sure John Kasich has a seat at the table because I know that I can run big -pot bluffs. Google Kasich, Cruz and Indiana if you don’t get it.

Oh, dear God, you just gotta love Bernie. I mean, even those who would never consider casting a ballot for him have to admit that he has been a breath of fresh air. He doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell, but he has been refreshing. For ever so many reasons, I doubt his math skills, especially in the area of fiscal planning, but I believe he must have been addressing the delegate count when he recently claimed that he is pretty good in math. To quote Ronald Reagan, “Well, there you go again…” Google Bernie Sanders and math if you don’t get it.

If you find that you must Google more than one of the above references just to figure out what I am ranting about, CONGRATULATIONS! You are an American voter and fully qualified to cast your ballot for the idiot of your preference. If you understood each cynical remark, you are over-qualified to vote. Plan on taking the month of November off, because to do otherwise would subject thinking people to the risk of emotional injury.

Sadly, the statement that I feel most strongly about making this week is with respect to “the media.” If I were a rightwing reactionary, I would be pissing and moaning about media bias. If I were a left-of-center Democrat, I would be boycotting Fox. I am neither. I grew up in a home that was supported by “the media.” I spent much of my life contributing to print journalism. Given the opportunity, I would probably do it again, but today’s journalism is, to be kind, flawed.

Too often journalists in any medium become part of the story. Too often editorial opinion is confused with news. Too often journalists allow themselves to believe that they are still relevant. Would that they were so in the last case, but the world no longer takes time to educate itself even if there were a way to do so in the age of soundbites.

Through this primary cycle, CNN, the self-acclaimed god of broadcast news has referred to Gannett owned newspapers as being “leading newspapers” in their states. Specifically, The Des Moines Register in Iowa, and The Indianapolis Star in Indiana. If a similar reference was made to The Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, I missed it.

Here’s the problem: Gannett Company has purchased newspaper properties with high, but dwindling. circulation figures covering whole states or a large area within, and possibly extending beyond state lines. This was the case in each of the above newspapers at the time of their respective sales to Gannett. Within a few years, Gannett reduces the distribution area as well as the news coverage outside of the immediate community or metropolitan area of the newspaper’s home city. The newsroom staff is culled and coverage of even in-town stories is reduced or eliminated. Newsrooms cost money and make none. The purpose of a newspaper owned by Gannett (or, to be fair, CNHI, McClatchy, Smith Newspapers, Lee Enterprises, and others) is to produce profit, and then to produce greater profit going forward. Advertising space that is sold makes money. Wonder why your newspaper is mostly made up of run of press and especially supplements or “special sections?” Wonder why you can’t find coverage of the city council meeting or school policy debates? Google Losing the News if you don’t get it.

If you think that you are not affected because you have not read a newspaper in years, think again. Remember that snide reference that I made about CNN above? Well, there you go again, Ronnie, the same source of revenue that drives newspapers drives broadcast news: Advertising. How damned many times can CNN open with a “BREAKING NEWS” banner, only to show you the same story that you saw when you turned the set on early in the day or even yesterday?

Someday, when you come to the realization that the last real journalist is dead, the last real newspaper is shuttered, and the talking heads on television spend more time telling you about the death of a musician than how best to respond to a madman who is the head of state in, say, North Korea, go look in your mirror and Google dumbass if you don’t get it.

If you can still read and think without assistance, these are the words of Ojijaak. If you are unable to read and think, go vote just the same, and these are still the words of Ojijaak.

May 24, 2016: Sound Familiar?

Factionalism and political squabbling among the members have rendered the legislative branch of government ineffective. The result of ineffectiveness is inactivity, continued debate, increasingly strident claims, misquotes, and accusation. At times, the inability to reach consensus leads to government closure.

The people have become frustrated with their representatives. There is civil unrest, and, in the most extreme cases, people are killing each other. Homelessness and financial ruin have become so familiar to the public that most have learned to defend themselves by refusing to “see” their less fortunate fellow citizens.

Political parties propagandize and often publish and repeat outright lies and outrageous accusations against one another. The executive is perceived as weak and only a figurehead representing nothing more than continuity as he spends what most believe to be the final months or years in public life.

There are several politicians seeking to succeed the outgoing regime. The national scene is one of continued campaigning. Among the many aspirants, none can garner the support of a majority, but a few learn that they gain followers if they raise the level of invective. The more outrageous the claim or statement of a candidate, the greater the exposure and acceptance.

Many citizens seek a bogeyman, a scapegoat, and some among the politicians are happy to oblige. Anyone who does not fit the pattern of accepted national identity is suspect, some are clearly traitorous. Political capital is realized by shrewd politicians victimizing minorities. Racial, ethnic, cultural, and religious intolerance have become the norm. Discussion of proposed laws aimed at restricting the freedoms of those who are different has become common in the public, and encouraged by the politicians.

Among the leaders of the various political factions, one emerges and, while many see him as a preposterous joke, many others are attracted to his messages promising something for everyone. He says that he will make the nation great again. He grasps the advantages of using new technology to assist in the distribution of his message. Like P.T. Barnum, he would feel that there is no such thing as bad publicity. Even some of those who can see through his half-truths and lies become his apologists and supporters.

Do you recognize the period and the person? Is this the time in which we are living? Am I ranting about the Donald again?

Well, yes. I suppose that I must be doing just that, but, in fact, I have related a few details of 1931-32 Germany, and a different politician suffering from terminal bad hair.

The most frightening aspect of our current campaign is looking back to 1932 and realizing that despite never receiving a majority of ballots cast, that funny-looking (illegal?) immigrant to Germany rose to absolute power, acted upon the lies and promises that he had made to make Germany great again, and, in the end, very nearly destroyed a great nation and a great people. Check my facts, check Mr. Trump’s facts, and then if you still feel that he is a proper and qualified potential leader… Well, I have to believe that you’re just a jackass.

June 11, 2016: Notes from the Leper Colony (To Mr. Trump and To You)

Among the People, the Algonquian nations, there are traditions of clan. I came to this tradition and to my clan late in life after I had lost what should have been my path. Here, I shall attempt to recover my vision and my Manitou.

Ojijaak, the crane, looks outward, sees all, listens carefully, speaks little, but speaks last. The Crane Clan embodies these characteristics, and is responsible to the People for making educated decisions and leading them after listening to all and learning. Words are few, but highly valued. I am of the Ojijaak, but I have made many mistakes, I have left my path, and now, late in my life, I must find it again. I am Waanaki, my path is to find and bring peace to the People. By that, I mean all people because if some are restless, all are threatened.

There are some who sow turmoil for their own purpose. There are many more who cannot see that they do not live in a world of many people. There is room for all.

What would our peoples be if those who came before did not share with those who came later and with nothing? If the children of Nanaboozho had refused to feed the people from the sea, or if a great wall had been built at the shore, who would you be?

If King George had not given the land that was not his to give, who would you be? Is it not wrong to take what another has stolen? White people call this “receiving or possession of stolen property.” If you had followed your own laws, who would you be?

Mr. Trump, to many of us, your people are illegal aliens. Your words are offensive. You should find a quiet place where you could be alone and find a new way. You should not sow turmoil among those who are ignorant and lazy.

These are the words of Ojijaak.

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