Michael Konik http://michaelkonik.com Home of the Thought of the Day Wed, 29 Jun 2016 16:20:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Noam Chomsky: Requiem for an American Dream http://michaelkonik.com/noam-chomsky-requiem-for-an-american-dream/ http://michaelkonik.com/noam-chomsky-requiem-for-an-american-dream/#respond Wed, 29 Jun 2016 15:59:58 +0000 http://michaelkonik.com/?p=10221 If you have friends who don’t quite understand why wealth inequality and political corruption is bad for America (and the rest of the planet), “Noam Chomsky: Requiem for the American Dream,” is the film to recommend. The beloved intellectual and lifelong critic of war-making and corporatism, Chomsky, in his late-80s, remains as incisive  and refreshingly clear as ever. This artfully produced film consists of several long interviews edited and organized into ten chapters, or “principles,” that deconstruct and explain the wretched political philosophy commonly called neoliberalism. Heavy ideas; eloquent explanations; clear conclusions. Without ever mentioning “progressivism” or “Bernie Sanders,” Chomsky’s “Requiem” is startling evidence that we need to do better, and we need to do it now.

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Bernie Sanders: The Struggle Continues http://michaelkonik.com/bernie-sanders-the-struggle-continues/ http://michaelkonik.com/bernie-sanders-the-struggle-continues/#respond Sun, 26 Jun 2016 16:07:24 +0000 http://michaelkonik.com/?p=10225 bern-rev2Pick your preferred metaphor: You can’t put the egg back in the shell. You can’t stuff the Genie back in the bottle. You can’t force Pandora back into her box.

And you can’t stop the Progressive Movement that’s sweeping the United States of America.

Bernie Sanders started it. The People will finish it.

After listening to Senator Sanders speak on Wednesday, June 23, in New York City, we’re more certain than ever that righteousness will triumph over cynicism. Kindness will trump hatred. Justice for All will finally prevail. It’s Morning in America again. And this time a transformative political revolution is afoot. Nothing’s going back in the box.

The Senator likes to stress that “it’s not about me, it’s about us.” True, and fair enough. But right now, while the Presidency of the USA is still an open question, the ongoing struggle is very much about Bernie Sanders. We can wait four years, or two, or maybe a fateful month for the political revolution to succeed. It will be much better for our country (and the world) for Bernie Sanders to lead now. He is by every measure of the term a genuine American Hero and a true patriot. His fearlessness in facing down an Establishment that despises him and a corporate media that ignores reality and instead dutifully dictates whatever their Establishment benefactors tell them – well, it’s hard for us regular folk to fully comprehend that level of courage. Try remaining calm while there’s a very nicely dressed enemythank you bernie pointing a gun at your face. Bernie Sanders is a brave soul with a giant heart – and wouldn’t that be a lovely thing to say about our next President.

We will not be voting for Donald Trump. We will not be voting for Hillary Clinton. We will be voting for Bernie Sanders.

If for some reason his name is not on our ballot, we’re going to do what we’ve always done: vote for the candidate that most closely represents our values and ideals. (If everyone in this nation did exactly that – vote for the person who most closely represents their values and ideals – we’d be altogether better off.) Those who vote the lesser of two evils, or against someone, have truly wasted their vote.

Reminder: despite the propaganda that millions of Democrats and Republicans still accept, there are more than two political parties in America, and more than two candidates for the highest office. In 2012 we did not vote for Barack Obama; we voted for Rocky Anderson, the candidate who most closely represented our values and ideals. In 2016, that candidate is Bernie Sanders.

What he’s accomplished is so fantastic and heretofore unthinkable that almost no one thought it possible.

Newsflash: It’s possible. Bernie is proof.

bernie rallyThe encyclopedic catalogue of lies told (and validated) by a system designed to protect the wealthy/powerful/entitled has been summarily refuted by the Sanders campaign, the greatest grassroots, bottom-up effort in the history of our country. Without a single dollar of corporate donations, without a SuperPAC, without the support of the Democratic Machine, Bernie Sanders has done what all the smug commentators from the chattering class said couldn’t be done: take on and beat the Establishment. He’s inspired hundreds-of-thousands of volunteers and organizers to work for real, substantive change that will benefit every person, not merely made members in the financial-military-political Mafia.

The truth about America – that we are a plutocracy; that the law does not apply to every citizen equally; that our political system is thoroughly corrupted – has been revealed, and none of us will ever be the same, even those who can’t yet (or won’t yet) see the light. For all the neoliberals who have somehow convinced themselves that all is well just as it is, that someone who is the architect and implementer of global misery is somehow an acceptable choice to lead our republic, the clock is ticking. The clock is ticking not just on their favorite money launderer and bribe taker but on their debased values, as well.

Let’s hope the alarm rings sooner than later.

As Bernie Sanders noted in his landmark address, social justice – and racial justice and environmental justice and gender justice – doesn’t happenBernie Sanders overnight. It takes persistent, courageous and determined work over years, sometimes decades, and, then, one day “overnight,” the impossible becomes possible. Women voting. Blacks leading. Gays marrying. Every utterly righteous cause always faces opposition that ranges from the steadfast bigotry of the hateful to the mild cowardice of the fearful. But, eventually, we Americans come to our senses and do the right thing – that thing that has been right from the very start.

It just takes someone like Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King or Bernie Sanders to remind us of the better angels of our nature, to insist that we can make our highest ideals manifest.

The struggle continues. And we are proud to join Bernie Sanders on the beautiful path.

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Evening News Script http://michaelkonik.com/evening-news-script/ http://michaelkonik.com/evening-news-script/#respond Sun, 19 Jun 2016 17:54:25 +0000 http://michaelkonik.com/?p=10211 news studio setGood evening, I’m [insert name]. Welcome to the Evening News.

Our top story tonight: [something to fear; followed by expert analysis explaining why viewers should be fearful].

In other news: [something to fear].

In a related story: [something else to possibly fear in the near future].

Commercial break: [insert advertisement for a pharmaceutical product; followed by advertisement for a sugar product; followed by another advertisement for a pharmaceutical product that helps alleviate symptoms caused by sugar or the previously advertised pharmaceutical product].

Cue heroic fanfare; fade music as we return live.

Story: [something disturbing and implicitly frightening].

Another sort-of-related story: [what authorities are doing to ameliorate public fear].

A totally different story: [comic relief, preferably involving celebrities, cute animals, or precocious children].

Commercial break: [insert advertisement for pharmaceutical product that treats anxiety; followed by advertisement for pharmaceutical product that alleviates the symptoms caused by another pharmaceutical product; followed by advertisement for a sugar/fat/salt product].

Cue heroic fanfare; fade music as we return live.

Story: [something about celebrity bad behavior].

Story: [something else to fear].

Story: [something about political-industrial-financial malfeasance; followed by expert analysis explaining “what we should expect” to happen].

Commercial break: [insert advertisement for product to help consumers “escape” their life; followed by advertisement for another pharmaceutical product that addresses the nationwide plague of erectile rapidhard-erectionpillRHdysfunction; followed by advertisement for credit cards].

Cue heroic fanfare; fade music as we return live.

Story culled from the Internet: [more celebrity hijinks].

Leftover story: [insert real “news” package].

Closing Story: [insert lighthearted/inspiring/instructive/uplifting story about the indomitable human spirt or unusually talented house-pet].

I’m [insert name]. Thank you for watching the Evening News, the one source you can trust.

Cue music, fade lights, run final pharmaceutical advertisement.

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Jumbo Wild http://michaelkonik.com/jumbo-wild/ http://michaelkonik.com/jumbo-wild/#comments Wed, 15 Jun 2016 15:46:34 +0000 http://michaelkonik.com/?p=10161 The documentary “Jumbo Wild“tells the ongoing story of a politically-connected real estate developer’s quest to build a ski resort on British Columbia’s remote and pristine Jumbo Glacier — despite overwhelming resistance to the disastrous scheme from local residents, First Nations representatives, and legions of environmentalists. The film is beautifully photographed and surprisingly fair-minded toward the stubbornly adamant developer, who doesn’t care what everyone else thinks — particularly the native animals whose habitat is being destroyed. But the message is clear: whether it is a Canadian mountain or a canyon in Los Angeles, there will always be bringers of harm who must be met with righteousness.

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The Mussel Divine http://michaelkonik.com/the-mussel-divine/ http://michaelkonik.com/the-mussel-divine/#comments Sun, 12 Jun 2016 16:52:47 +0000 http://michaelkonik.com/?p=10204 mussel podHow maddening to our friend the mollusk

subjected every day to that most callous of clichés

haunting a bi-valve’s life.

            Happy as…

Each time the bitter oath was uttered,

our friend the mollusk shrunk inward,

as if he could escape the narrative of fate.

            If they only knew, he thought.

No one should be happy as a clam!

How about strong as a mussel? Capitalizing on the pun.

How about magnificent as a mussel? For it was almost true.

Our friend the mollusk understood his visage. He knew

the similarities folks often drew

between mussels and certain parts anatomical,

transforming his sea-born nobility into hard-shelled humility,

an outcome most morose and also grossly comical.

mussels and friesHe might well have fled to a monastery, galloping away, like a wayward scallop,

cloistering himself in meditation, like a pensive oyster.

Instead, our friend resolved to find the mussel divine

in the complementary companionship

of garlic-fried potatoes and a glass of chilled white wine.

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Thank You, Bernie Sanders http://michaelkonik.com/thank-you-bernie-sanders/ http://michaelkonik.com/thank-you-bernie-sanders/#respond Sun, 05 Jun 2016 14:25:38 +0000 http://michaelkonik.com/?p=10194 thank you bernieThank you, Bernie Sanders, for your leadership.

Thank you, Bernie Sanders, for your courage, your authenticity, your compassion.

Thank you, Bernie Sanders, for speaking truth to power. Thank you for rousing the sleeping giant. Thank you for proving conclusively that progressive ideas aren’t frivolous and “out there” but mainstream and sensible.

America is awakening. America is seeing through the greed and cynicism it’s been falsely assured is inevitable, a “necessary” part of modern life. Citizens who had previously been thoroughly disenchanted with politics are listening carefully and watching closely. And life in the United States will never be quite the same. Just as the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2008 changed the national conversation, this election cycle has transformed the national political consciousness.

Because of the Bernie Sanders campaign, we collectively understand how profoundly corrupted our political system is. Now we understand how undemocratic the two dominant political parties are. Now we understand (too well) that the “news media” are merely entertainment portals in search of ratings and advertisers, and that everything we’ve been told by those alleged “trusted experts” is about as credible as a children’s fairy tale.

Now we know: America is controlled by a small cabal of oligarchs and their compliant bag-carriers. But now we also know that the people — everyone who will never sit on the Board of Wal-Mart, or collectbernie rally bribes in the form of “speaking fees,” or own a private prison – the people are the biggest corporation of all. And we can’t be stopped.

I’m one of those people. I’m 51; I have no children; I’m financially well-off compared to the average American; I collect no government benefits and very few services; I personally do not need a $15-an-hour minimum wage, or Medicare-for-all, or paid maternity leave, or tuition-free education. I stand to gain nothing from a Bernie Sanders presidency – except the knowledge that my country, for the first time in my life, is finally headed on a path toward peace, kindness, and inclusiveness.

Like many of my fellow Americans, I’ve had enough war. I’ve had enough racism and sexism and jingoism. And like many of my fellow Americans, I’m no longer willing to let neoliberal corporate apologists pass themselves off as progressive agents of change.

Until Bernie Sanders declared his intention of running for President without corporate or PAC support, I hadn’t donated to or volunteered for a political campaign; they were all versions of the same product packaged differently. Bernie changed me. It has been one of the great pleasures of my life to donate and volunteer for his campaign — our campaign — to add another voice to a growing chorus of righteousness. Before I joined this spectacular grassroots effort and talked with voters on their doorsteps and the massive hordes at public rallies, I considered it unthinkable that someone running against the monolithic establishment machine could win the California primary funded by $27 donations.

On Tuesday, June 7th, Bernie Sanders will do the previously unthinkable and win the California primary. On June 7th, we Californians will demonstrate to the entire country that a new era of social justice has officially commenced. And it can’t be stopped.

The Lie has been exposed. From the moment Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy a little over a year ago, business-as-usual cynics started spinning their plausible-sounding but mendacious story: He can’t win. I like him but he can’t win. CNN told me he can’t win. All the polls and the math and people in suits who sound like they know what they’re talking about say he can’t win. He can’t win.

He can win. He will win.

Why-does-Bernie-Sanders-poll-better-than-Hillary-Clinton-against-Donald-TrumpThe Clinton campaign and the corporations that support her have spent $200 million to convince gullible voters she’s the “only” choice. What has all that money bought? A gradual and inexorable loss of her “insurmountable” lead and plunging approval ratings the more she appears in public and must answer difficult “yes or no” questions.  Only the disastrous “War on Drugs” has returned less on its monetary investment.

Whether or not the money launderers who run the Democratic Party have the good sense to nominate Bernie Sanders for President of the United States, this movement, this blossoming, will continue to flourish. It’s too late to turn back or pretend that business-as-usual is acceptable. Moral clarity has triumphed. Bernie Sanders – and the ideals he represents – has already won the hearts and minds of millions of voters who had given up on the process. And we’re not going away.

Thank you, Bernie Sanders, for fundamentally changing our country. You are not alone. We’re all in this together.

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Naftule’s Dream, “Blood” http://michaelkonik.com/naftules-dream-blood/ http://michaelkonik.com/naftules-dream-blood/#respond Tue, 31 May 2016 18:01:52 +0000 http://michaelkonik.com/?p=10180 Klezmer. Jazz. Acid rock. Dixieland. Got the picture? Better question: got the sound? “Blood,” the new CD by the progressive Klezmer band Naftule’s Dream, is a delicious jambalaya of musical ingredients that sounds distinctly like, well, Naftule’s Dream. The group’s instrumentation might be the key to their sound: clarinet, cornet, guitar, drums, accordion and, crucially, tuba. Associations with John Zorn and Radical Jewish Culture have brought their music global recognition. Their new album should bring them music industry acclaim. “Blood” illustrates how treating traditional music with anything but frightened reverence creates new (and compulsively listenable) sounds for a new age.

 

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Shiva Singh-Schlimovitz Knows Best http://michaelkonik.com/shiva-singh-schlimovitz-knows-best/ http://michaelkonik.com/shiva-singh-schlimovitz-knows-best/#respond Sun, 29 May 2016 16:39:06 +0000 http://michaelkonik.com/?p=10185 cash furnitureGo to her official site. Right there on the Home Page: “I may not know how to pick husbands, but I know what’s best for our country!

I think she’s being funny? #irony

Facts: The marriages. She’s had three of them, so far. None of these husbands has lasted longer than two years. Kept first-husband’s name for the children (two boys, Babatunde and Irving, now 12 & 13). Left the other two fellows ruined (financially) thanks to unimpeachable pre-nuptial agreements. Famously outspoken. Opinionated. Confident (“I have sixty-billion reasons to believe in my problem-solving ability,” also on her Website). The richest woman in North America – and just behind Gong-Lin Fung over-all.

Shiva Singh-Schlimovitz has a gravity about her, you might say.

She’s someone we should listen to. And that’s not just me saying it, that’s Shiva. “I can help,” she always promises, “if you would only listen.”

You can understand how frustrating it must be for her, knowing what needs to be done, owning all sorts of evidence that she knows better than the average girl about how the game is played. Yet the people who haven’t succeeded at any measurable level, the people who really need the help, her guidance – well, they just don’t listen. You can understand how this is all rather bothersome.

Have you reviewed the Practical Advice page at her site? My favorite: “If you’re jealous of those with more money than you, don’t just sit there and complain. Do something! Do something to make money. Make hoarding philosophymore for yourself. Spend less time drinking, or smoking, or whatever it is you do. Socializing. Just achieve more.”

Her position on the proposed “super tax” on annual dividend income over Y$12 million: “Axe the tax!”

Is she an heiress? “My father gave me and my brother a small stake to get started. Thanks to hard work, good moral character, and, yes, a little bit of luck, I’ve managed to grow my father’s investment several hundred times over.”

Her greatest accomplishment (aside from her babies)? “Creating jobs. Thousands of them.” This really is quite a great feat, because every job Shiva Singh-Schlimovitz conjures from the ether not only makes her incrementally richer, thanks to her perch at the top of the labor pyramid, it also means one less miserable human being sleeping on public streets.

She pays well, too. Usually more than the mandated minimum wage, sometimes as much as 14% above the minimum. She doesn’t have to do this. To Shiva, it’s just a small way to give back to the community. That and the museums she’s fond of constructing, purpose-built to warehouse (and display) her expanding holdings.[1]

Some noisemakers have complained that Shiva’s acquisitiveness shouldn’t necessarily be subsidized by public taxes. But that kind of jibber-jabber usually becomes a whisper and a memory. One of the sixty-billion reasons to avoid disagreeing with Shiva Singh-Schlimovitz is that she views lawyers as nicely dressed toys, interchangeable soldiers that are fun to play with, especially when they’re suing people Shiva dislikes.

Under different circumstances, I would be seriously afraid to write all this about Shiva. Bankrupting enemies is one of her favorite hobbies. Defamation being a serious offense.

I’m doomed, so whatever. Unfortunately, so are you. Everyone is.

more doughnuts for meBut not from climate change, or Canadian hegemony. “America is doomed,” Shiva reminds us. “America is doomed if we do not lower taxes, cut regulations, limit mandated wages, and encourage investment in businesses run by people who know how to run a business. Inequality is what creates achievement. Nations depend on their health – economically, culturally and psychologically – upon the achievement of a comparatively small number of talented and determined people. We must let these people achieve!”

Many smart and forceful people agree with Shiva. Most of them work at a think tank or political action group endowed by her family foundation. Not that it matters. They’re scientists and academics. We can trust them.

And you can trust me when I tell you that the simple solution to all the world’s problems – poverty, disease, violence, all the big ones – is to correctly answer one vexing question: more or fewer?

Do we need more or fewer Shiva Singh-Schlimovitzs?

[1] In addition to art and gems and original documents (two Guttenberg Bibles, a “rough draft” of the U.S. Constitution), SSS has the biggest collection of live, functional kidneys in the world, which she generously displays to the public six-days-a-week, eight-hours-a-day, with no admission charged.

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Who Are You Trying to Become? http://michaelkonik.com/who-are-you-trying-to-become/ http://michaelkonik.com/who-are-you-trying-to-become/#respond Sun, 22 May 2016 17:12:47 +0000 http://michaelkonik.com/?p=10169 young studentAll of us, on some level, are on a meandering journey headed in the general direction of self-discovery. We’re trying to answer the essential questions sentient beings have always asked: Where did I come from? Where am I going? Who am I?

For some of us, there’s another crucial inquiry: Who is the person I wish to become? A saint? A Titan? A leader? A friend to all? Who is the person I wish to become? What’s the best version of me?

Some folks wish devoutly to grow their bankroll. Some hope to grow their heart. Some want to rule the world; some wish to serve it.

Ask yourself: Who do I wish to become? If I could perfect myself while still retaining all the imperfections that make me human, what would my perfect self be like? Kinder or richer? More feared or more compassionate?

Once you have a clear picture of the person you wish to become, you can probably imagine the improvements you  want for your country, your society, your world.

Who you vote for in political contests announces to the world your answers to these crucial questions. Your vote reveals how you think about yourself and about your brothers and sisters.

So before you reflexively vote for someone based on less meaningful factors, without examining the ideology behind your decision, ask yourself once more: Who is the exalted soul I wish to become?

And then find the candidate whose vision of our country’s future most closely resembles your best self.

 

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Speechless http://michaelkonik.com/speechless/ http://michaelkonik.com/speechless/#respond Tue, 17 May 2016 15:50:56 +0000 http://michaelkonik.com/?p=10145 Imagine giving a PowerPoint presentation to a large roomful of strangers. Imagine that you don’t know the subject of your presentation until you arrive onstage. Now, imagine that the slides in your presentation are random nonsense images that range from inscrutable to scandalous. What do you say? This is the premise of the sensationally entertaining improvised comedy show “Speechless.” At most performances, professional improvisers turn a whole lot of nothing into something hilarious. And once a night, an audience member is invited to try. We recently had a crack — and it was a thrill. “Speechless” tours internationally. See it. And then try it!

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