Friday, September 28, 2018

Do you know what today is?

It's possible that you didn't know that today is National Drink Beer Day! If that's the case, it's not your fault. You just needed an obscure blogger who keeps an eye on such things to let you know!

You're welcome!

Yes, I most certainly will celebrate. Thinking over my options right now as far as the precise where and when, but there is a beer--or two--languishing in a cooler somewhere with my name on it.

Well, that's not exactly true; I strongly prefer draft beer!

Enjoy your celebration tonight! And you can be assured that Bulldog Ben is committed to keeping you up on all the truly important issues in life!

"Beerdog Ben" Basile

© 2018 Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Poisonous Pursuit of Progressive Perfection

In yesterday's post about the "Family Feud" we had at the DNC in 2016 and the run-up to the Presidential Election, I went on at some length about tensions, about differences, between mainstream Democrats and their more progressive brothers and sisters.

And I mentioned about how--in my opinion--the insurgency was at not only about moving our party in a more progressive direction, but was--for many, at least--an attempt to blow up the party and then build something more aggressively and purposefully progressive.

I believe the fight was one of the biggest reasons we ended up with Benedict Donald at the helm of our government.

That should never have been the outcome! If the insurgent faction had actually given its full-throated endorsement to Secretary Clinton--as Bernie did at the convention--we would have been spared all the outrages and excesses of this accursed tRump regime. 

Many of the folks who led this insurgent, progressive wing of the party, weren't Democrats, didn't identify as Democrats in any way. Some of them said straight up that tRump was a better outcome than if Hillary had been elected.

They're out of their minds.

That's why I don't think I can ever trust the Bernie bros and the Greens moving forward even though I see the world and our issues here in US in very similar ways.

Their stunning inability to let their philosophy be tempered with even a tiny bit of pragmatism blows me away!

Their quest for progressive purity and their obsession with third party candidates as a means of delivering that awesome "protest vote" have cost us dearly!

It set our country back ten years when--back in November of 2000--Bush II beat Al Gore by 537 votes here in Florida.

It set us back an entire generation on 11/9 when the Bros and the Greens gave us tRump. With huge assists from Julian Assange and Comrade Vlad, of course!

The only thing that tempers my anger at all is the fact that the outcome was a shock to most people and pollsters! It really is hard to say who might have done things differently if we could have seen the insane outcome of the Presidential election in those last few fateful months.

But anyone who calls themself progressive, certainly anyone who's tired of seeing hateful, know-nothing thugs run this country into the ground and destroy our institutions, had better stop trashing people, candidates and solutions that could actually work, actually improve something, in a vain search for progressive perfection!

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

About that "Family Feud" in the Democratic Party

Sometimes labels are very effective in helping us wrap our minds are things. Sometimes not so much.

Labels like Liberal, Conservative and Progressive generally do simplify things when one tries to think about or discuss what happens on the American political scene. I do find these labels or descriptors to be helpful.

I want to give you my take on what's happening among those of us who use the term progressive to describe our way of seeing the world.

I'm progressive. Unlike some who would also use that term to describe their way of presenting themselves to the world, I'm comfortable with the Democratic Party. Though it may seem funny in light of what I just said, I also embrace the labels of mainstream or moderate when I think about being a proud Democrat.

And I've got a pragmatic streak a mile wide. That's a very big deal.

Let me enlarge on that a bit: although my views are way, way to the left of most of my Democrat friends, I understand that change and progress is incremental and the U.S. is not ready to embrace the flavor of flaming socialism that I'd love to see.

In the election of 2016, we Democrats had a blow up, a clash between a moderate or mainstream faction and an insurgent progressive faction. Well, "faction" isn't the best term to describe those of us who consider ourselves to be moderate or mainstream, as we make up the majority of Democrats.

Here you may recall the joke that was frequently heard around the time of the DNC: "I come from the Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party." That one always brought a smile to my face!

Now, it would be a mistake to paint everyone who might have identified as a part of the progressive faction with the same brush. But I will for the sake of this post.

Die-hard supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders were at the core of this movement. It's interesting to note that the insurgency did not die once it was clear that Hillary was the nominee. It actually became stronger and definitely more strident.

Do I think the Bernie or uber-progressive faction went too far in the pursuit of progressive issues?

Yes, I do. It's fine to advocate for a single payer system, for free universal college. I support those things. I think they're absolutely necessary for America to thrive and survive.

But what some never did understand is that trying to push the party to the left or to get some of these issues prioritized in the party platform was never the objective. (I'm not saying this is true of everyone who considers themselves to have been a part of that faction while the fight was raging. Not at all.)

The objective for many of them was to burn the Democratic Party to the ground. And many of them said so.

This is why so many of us who identify as mainstream or moderate Dems--even though we might also embrace the progressive descriptor--resisted this insurgent movement.

And yes, most of us were Hillary supporters.

I am not unsympathetic to the argument that my party is too cozy with big business and Wall Street. It's true.

I share the skepticism of many of my leftist sisters and brothers who feel the Democratic Party is not a perfect vehicle to achieve the kinds of changes we feel we need to move forward. Yes, our party has many flaws.

But I have nothing but contempt for anyone who truly wants to harm, weaken or destroy my party. I am your enemy and I will resist you at every turn.

Keep trying to reform the Democratic Party? Keep trying to push it in a more progressive direction? Sure, I'm on-board with that. One hundred percent.

But those of us who make up the majority of our party and who've worked very hard to sustain her and move her forward are going to go on defending her from those who wish her ill.

In the next post, I'm going to talk specifically about why I have a hard time trusting my more progressive friends as we move forward.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Rachel Maddow becomes most-watched show on TV

The Rachel Maddow Show did have an amazing week as far as viewership is concerned and I wanted to comment on that. It would be a noteworthy event under any circumstances, but it also fits neatly into one of my posts from about six weeks ago.

I was commenting on how, although Cable News Shows are taken pretty seriously, the audience numbers are relatively puny. On average, compared to the nightly network news broadcasts, in particular, that is.

And then, this! Rachel just had this gonzo week where the show was--not the most watched cable news show--but the most watched show on television, period!

Yeah, this puppy was impressed!

I've watched Rachel, literally, since the night she signed on. I haven't caught every show, obviously, and I don't get them all these days, as TRMS is not in my bare-bones cable package.

But it's a remarkable achievement and a tribute to just how good she is at what she does. How good, how thorough, how insightful and persistent.

If you tune in too, you know exactly what I mean. Hers is a unique voice. It may seem cliché, but there is no one on the news scene like Rachel Maddow.

And it's a very good thing that now there are stats that show, convincingly, just how good she is.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Two thoughts about September 11th

There are two things on my mind as I think about the events that took place exactly 17 years ago at what we now call Ground Zero in Manhattan...

The first is that the wounds from the attack on America on 9/11 have healed to a significant degree.

I had expected that time would lessen the sting and the shock we all felt that day only a little; that it was such a singular event that the memory of it would be an open, festering wound for a generation.

I'm glad I was wrong about that.

It was--and is--a very, very big deal, but Americans have shown once again that we're a very pragmatic and resilient lot.

That's a good thing.

The other thing on my mind today is that our Nation is saddled, at this moment, with a President who's such vicious and unrepentant liar that even the memory of the losses we suffered on 9/11 are tainted by his out-sized ego and his constant lying!

Some folks may have forgotten about how tRump bragged shortly after the towers had fallen, that his building was now the tallest in Manhattan!

I haven't forgotten.

Some may not have heard that our #LyingLoserPrez has falsely claimed to have tried to dig victims of the 9/11 attacks out of the ruble at Ground Zero.

That, of course, was a lie. And there are plenty more where that came from!

So now, even though America's gone through a painful and thorough process of grieving and healing, we can be pulled back into the raw, terrible frenzy that is our national recollection of the attack at any time simply because our #PoserPrez can't keep himself from lying. Not even about the attacks on September 11th.

America suffers a fresh attack every time this hateful, traitorous bastard opens his mouth.

And we cannot begin to heal from this National nightmare until we are rid of him.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© September 11, 2018 
Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Friday, September 7, 2018

Searching for the Meaning of Life

This brief blog entry simply cannot be appreciated or understood unless you've cast your eyes over the accompanying photo. And, yes, I took the pic myself. No issues about ownership, copyrights or any such thing. And, if you must know, this humble sign adorns the north wall of the bar in my fave barbecue joint. In my fave beach town.

Having gotten the preliminary stuff out of the way, let me state for the record that I do not believe that the true meaning of life can be found in this lighthearted aphorism; it's merely there to keep the wall from looking bare and, perhaps, to amuse the drunks who spend way too much time and money reading silly plaques tacked to the walls of our many infamous watering holes here in the Sunshine State.

The message of that damned sign does not seem to grow more profound with each lager lifted to my lips.

I've never shared this barroom bromide with friends, nor incorporated it into an update on Facebook. (No need going to my Facebook page to verify that statement!)

Let's be real. Life's true meaning cannot be divined by reading this sign no matter how much beer you've quaffed.  I just like it because, as I stand right on the threshold of qualifying for social security, I think it just might be true! Not sure my doctor would vouch for that, but, it could be!

Now I think I'll ponder that message one more time as I order one more beer...  Ashley!

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

This post is coming out today because it's National Beer Lovers Day! And, yes, it's also a Friday! No better time to have a cold one. Or three!

Photo credit Benjamin Basile

© 2016 Ben Lawrence Basile
All Rights Reserved

Brett Kavanaugh, Originalism and the Tangerine Tyrant

As you know if you haven't been living under a rock, Donald tRump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to succeed retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court.

Today is the third and final day of Congressional hearing on the Kavanaugh nomination.

The nod from tRump for Mr Kavanaugh to get Kennedy's seat happened back in early July. Kavanaugh--who is now an Appeals Court Judge for the D.C. Circuit--has a long history as a Republican Party operative and legal hack for the George W. Bush administration. And the GOP majority on the Judiciary Cmte has refused to release documents dating back to that period of time in his government service.

In addition, he has made numerous statements which make it unmistakably clear that he's ready, willing and able--if confirmed--to help John Roberts, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas take America back to that grand time before minorities, LGBT+ folk and women had any rights not explicitly spelled out in the Constitution.

That is to say, no rights at all.

Brett Kavanaugh's well-documented "Originalist" judical philosophy is untenable as the Founding Fathers cared not one whit for the rights of anyone who wasn't just like them. That is male, straight and white.

When our republic was born and the Constitution was framed, blacks were still in chains, bought and sold as property, subject to be lashed without mercy for any offense, and murdered at the whim of their masters.

The framers were fine with that. Many of them owned slaves themselves.

It's so easy in the 21st Century to forget that women were expressly denied the right to vote in America and didn't win the franchise until the 19th Amendment was passed. That happened in 1919, 143 years into what we call "American Democracy!"

So if a SCOTUS Justice has this originalism as his lodestar, how can any more-modern rulings from the Supreme Court be seen as valid?

Kavanaugh has mouthed the usual hollow talking points about how Roe vs Wade is established law and so on, but there can be little doubt that he's poised to strike down Roe--or at the very least, sign off on more restrictions--at the earliest opportunity.

But the most dangerous thing about Kavanaugh is that he's said on more than one occasion that he doesn't think a sitting President can be charged with a crime or even to be required to respond to a subpoena!

So basically, a President who's the subject of an active and very robust investigation has nominated a candidate for the court which will have to rule on whether he is subject to our Nation's laws! And the Repugs in Congress are dead-set on ramming through his nomination even though he's hostile to the rights of minorities, women and is ready to grant a criminal president a Get Out of Jail Free card!

It's going to happen. Today's the final day of the hearings about his nomination and the Rethuglican majority WILL see to it that Benedict Donald gets his sycophantic, Originalist Justice.

Just one more outrage from this criminal tRump regime and the legion complicit co-conspirators in the GOP!

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Medieval Haiku just for you!

Serfs and Magistrate 

chase the mad King

through the castle all summer long


Photo credit: Ben is not the owner of this cool graphic! He stole it just as surely as the Tangerine Tyrant stole his office!

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

Monday, September 3, 2018

Thoughts on Labor Day 2018

First of all, let me wish all my friends--especially those of you who work for a paycheck--a very happy and relaxing Labor Day!

I come from a long line of working people. My grandfather was a mason and marble contractor in New York City in the period between the two World Wars.

It was a common trade for Sicilians and he was good at it.

I was the first in my family to graduate from college but it never became a defining factor in my working life. I've only held two jobs in the many years since graduation where my degree was a consideration and I've mostly worked in the hospitality industry.

That's very common, as you no doubt know, for people here in Florida.

I most certainly am in that large category of American workers who depend on that paycheck and would have dismal prospects if or when their gig and that precious check it generates ever stop.

I don't get this awesome holiday off every year, but am off today by shear dumb luck; I'm feeling mellow and relaxed as I type this. The Yankees are playing the A's on the tube right now; sports are happening all day and night today!

Having said that, I do agree with folks who encourage us to think about the meaning behind these "3-day weekend" kind of holidays. Days like Veteran's Day, Memorial Day, the 4th of July, and Labor Day, too! We're inclined to see them merely as another cool day off with a barbecue and/or a beach trip.

It's a wonderful thing that we do have a day to commemorate the American worker--and maybe even give him or her the day off--as having such a day was never a given but was, in fact, born from the darkest days the American worker had ever seen.

If you'd like to peruse an interesting and informative piece about Labor Day and what it's all about, just click on this.

I am so ridiculously mellow and care-free today as I relax, blog a bit and watch some sports! I  hope your holiday is going well, too, and that your working life is not a painful dead-end you take part in just to keep your head above water.

But regardless of those particulars, may today and your future have lots of work, purpose and pay! Some happiness, some fulfillment and lots and lots of dinero!

And some leisure time to reflect on work, workers and why it all matters.

A relaxed puppy today, I am,

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Some of your friends may say...

Now and then I hear some of my friends may say that I should stop being so strident, so upset. I should just take a chill pill. Mellow out. Zip that lip and not get your friends on social media so upset...

Well, I truly have tried, at times, to hold back. But I've got to get some stuff off my chest today.

Honestly, I just can't understand how anyone can support what's happening now or defend Adolph Twitler when he's working as hard as he can to tear our country off its foundations and get rid of or marginalize everyone who isn't white, straight and rich.

It's impossible to just go about life as it was before that evil, greedy and completely incompetent poser was propelled into our White House by a campaign of lies and with the help of his Russian handlers.

I'd like my friends to explain again why we should act as if none of this is happening! It sounds to me like the situation is that they just don't like conflict and hate to "hear" two friends, as it were, having a heated argument.

I understand that. I'm actually wired the same way. But what's happening now is not at all like a Presidential election from the pre-trump days or something. Trump and his enablers and co-conspirators are trying to make the country I love into something of, by and for the very wealthy, for big business interests and for the Putin Regime. And working people, people who could never afford membership at one of his country clubs, can just go to hell.

No one in the trump admin is even trying to hide this right-out-in-the-open contempt for anyone who can't buy into their concept of what America is supposed to be like.

Some of us are not cool with that! And it's not right that we're being told by friends to just zip the lip and pretend all this is somehow normal! It's not! None of this is normal!

I still had a little desire to just try to be all cool and everything right up until I saw--with my own eyes--the outrageous stuff that Hair Hitler said and did at the Helsinki Summit. I know it was his first performance revue with his boss and everything, but it was astonishing the way his repeatedly kissed Putin's murderous ass!

And, of course, he did the same damn thing when he had his little summit--I mean his photo opp--with Kim Jong Un in Singapore.

Thousands of Republicans and trump supporters finally got it after Helsinki. Open your eyes, my friends! It's all happening in plain sight!

We are way past the time when we can be silent about the poser prez and his hateful, destructive and criminal behavior.

"Bulldog Ben" Basile

"If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention!"

© 2018 Ben Lawrence Basile