Michael Konik http://michaelkonik.com Home of the Thought of the Day Tue, 26 Jul 2016 17:46:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://michaelkonik.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/cropped-SmileyReefer-160x160.png Michael Konik http://michaelkonik.com 32 32 Finders Keepers http://michaelkonik.com/finders-keepers/ http://michaelkonik.com/finders-keepers/#respond Tue, 26 Jul 2016 17:46:56 +0000 http://michaelkonik.com/?p=10265 Sometimes one craves unmitigated weirdness. Not much we’ve encountered lately is quite as weird as the story told in the finely-made film “Finders Keepers.” A man loses his leg in an accident and receives a prostheses. The man (weirdly) gets to keep his amputated leg and (even weirder) decides to stash the mummified limb in a small outdoor grill, which (even weirder) gets purchased at a garage sale by an entrepreneurial gent with a pronounced streak of insecurity-masked-by-bravado. This fellow (even weirder) refuses to return the leg to its owner.  Drama and black comedy ensue. “Finders Keepers” is not a Coen Brothers feature. It’s a documentary, a report of a true (and ongoing) story.

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#WeAreOne. Really? http://michaelkonik.com/weareone-really/ http://michaelkonik.com/weareone-really/#respond Sun, 17 Jul 2016 15:17:59 +0000 http://michaelkonik.com/?p=10254 jesus-buddha-way-of-heartYou’ve seen the trending hashtags: #NotMeUs; #StrongerTogether; #WeAreOne. They’re all useful shorthand for complex ideas. On a “normal” day of “normal” news, the concept of Unity strikes most of us as reasonable, a thoroughly un-controversial acclamation of cooperation and fellowship. Great. Sure.

What happens, though, when someone drives a truck into dozens of families?

What happens when terrorists terrorize, when violators violate, when haters hate? What happens when someone behaves as though he’s inhuman?

All those hashtags feel impotent and vaguely ridiculous. #WeAreOne? Really?

Yes. We are. Really.

Just as the First Amendment is most devoutly honored when society permits and accepts hideously vile forms of speech, the concept of global unity – of universal harmony – is most devoutly honored when we refuse to label despicable malefactors as Them, as the dreaded Other. The temptation is to think of murderers as substantially different from the average human being, that reprehensible killers are zombie mutants, a debased sub-species of humanpolice-shoot-woolwich-killers that’s not really human at all.

But it’s not true. We know that the men who commit mass shootings and suicide bombings are bad, that they’ve committed Evil. We would probably say that about someone who killed fewer people, too. We would probably say that about someone who killed one person. Some might even say that about someone who kills only herself. And although it’s difficult to identify exactly where, at some point in our deductive reasoning we recognize that takers of human life can sometimes be rehabilitated and forgiven. We do it every day with our soldiers and police; we might even congratulate them for their bravery, as we do ourselves every time we execute someone to show that killing is wrong. Somehow we understand that being a killer doesn’t make you inhuman at all. It makes you a deeply flawed human being (or a hero, depending on your ideology).

Imperfect. Just like us. Like me. And maybe you.

In the world’s darkest moments, when peace and unification seem impossible and hopelessly naïve, is when we must open our hearts widest, recognizing that at one time or another we’ve all had hateful, destructive thoughts. Maybe we’ve harbored violent fantasies of retribution and revenge. Some of us may have even lived out our fantasy during the televised “shock and awe” phase of the Iraq War. Or “Game of Thrones.”

We Are OneMost of us, though, choose kindness over cruelty. We understand that healthy people don’t behave violently, even if they have violent thoughts. We know – we don’t have to be told on Twitter, we know ­– that the only answer to hate is overwhelming love and compassion. For everyone, not merely for those who look like us or speak the same language or worship at the same temple or were born in the same general place or under the same zodiac sign. Love everyone. This is the fundamental principle of all the world’s religions, of progressive politics, of every social movement in search of peace and justice. To take care of each other, to truly be our brother’s keeper, we must first be brothers. To care for the least among us, to truly heed the words of Jesus and Buddha, we must consciously, willfully choose love and compassion, even when confronted with seemingly obvious examples of the Other – mass murderers, Bashir Assad,Words of wisdom Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton. Or whomever you find impossible to love.

They’re awful, reprehensible, disgusting – whatever adjective describes your outlook. But they’re not the Other. They’re us on our very worst days, only more so. How much only you can say.

In the face of what currently feels like overwhelming global anger and malice, shining the bright light of love is more crucial than ever. Be courageous. The world needs you. You need you. And, yes, we need each other. All of us: the horrible and the hideous, the gorgeous and adorable, the pathetic and the piteous, the mighty and the righteous. We’re all in this inscrutable mystery together.

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Lady Dynamite http://michaelkonik.com/lady-dynamite/ http://michaelkonik.com/lady-dynamite/#respond Tue, 12 Jul 2016 15:17:29 +0000 http://michaelkonik.com/?p=10250 The new comedy series “Lady Dynamite,” now streaming, has much to recommend it: a loose, quasi-meta narrative structure that delivers unexpected delights; stellar cameos from giants of the “alt” comedy world (Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, Judd Apatow); and recurring characters you look forward to seeing frequently, notably the foul-mouthed super-agent Karen Grisham (Ana Gastyer). Even lacking these treats, Lady D would be mandatory viewing, because it stars the singular Maria Bamford, a genuine genius of laughter. The show is highly autobiographical — Ed Begley and Mary Kay Place portray Maria’s Duluth-based parents — and, therefore, dark, awkward, and hilarious. The series is a magnificent showcase for Maria’s stunning menagerie of voices and personas, proudly weird and consistently wonderful.

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You’re With Who? http://michaelkonik.com/youre-with-who/ http://michaelkonik.com/youre-with-who/#comments Sun, 10 Jul 2016 22:18:27 +0000 http://michaelkonik.com/?p=10241 HRC resignedThis was not a good week for people who had hoped to see a woman become the next President of the United States.

Their candidate, the one they shamelessly were “with” despite her sordid track-record of war-making and bribe-taking, was proven to be a serial liar with poor judgment at best and callous disregard for the law at worst. Their candidate, the one they praised for her “experience” and “intelligence,” was proven to be a national embarrassment. Their candidate was exposed as a bumbling fraud – again. But unlike Benghazi (a matter about which she appears to have lied under oath) and Bosnia (in which her tall-tale fabricating was refuted by video evidence), this time the American electorate seems to be paying attention.

When the Empress wears no clothes, everyone watches, hideous though the spectacle may be.

Her apologists will look for someone else to blame. But let’s be clear: The downfall of the “presumptive” nominee for the Democratic Mafia is not the product of a right-wing conspiracy, or a media hoax, or old-fashioned misogyny. This downfall isComey testifies on FBI probe into Clinton emails

entirely self-made. What’s happening to her campaign – and what will continue to happen until she withdraws – is karmically inevitable, the inescapable conclusion when enough light is shined on the dark and dingy corners where moral squalor and financial plunder grow like mold. When you and your husband are at the head of a global money-laundering operation that does business with the lowest scoundrels on the planet, dictators and tyrants who oppress women and torture dissidents, folks will eventually figure out that you don’t really have their best interests at heart. (Even if you don’t hold a press conference for more than 8-months.) Sometimes it just takes a few video clips to catalyze the cleansing.

How painful it must be to be confronted with incontrovertible evidence that the candidate you’ve stood behind, the one you’ve proclaimed to be most in line with your values, has no credibility. (She is literally “not to be believed.”) How demoralizing to realize that despite enjoying every advantage imaginable over a “fringe” opponent your candidate unilaterally rendered herself un-electable merely by being herself.

what you gonna doRather than bask in schadenfreude, we’re trying to be compassionate. We’re trying to imagine, for example, if Bernie Sanders were proven to be an embezzler — that all those $27 donations were going to fund his casino gambling debts and Vicodin habit. We progressives would be devastated, dumbstruck, depressed. Now, imagine you’re one of the many celebrities and private prison lobbyists and podcasters and café owners and Los Angeles City Councilmembers in CD4 who have publicly and passionately declared allegiance to HRC. How must it feel? You’ve said “I’m With Her.” And now the whole world knows who you stand beside, and they can see her stain upon you.

We imagine it feels terrible, as all betrayals do. And for that we’re truly sorry.

We’re thrilled, however, that Madame Presumed has clarified the choice between she and Bernie Sanders. The difference in their integrity is Yin toBernie for prez Yang. Bernie is honesty incarnate. Bernie is truth. (Now try reading the last two sentences with her name; as Jesus Quintana once said, “it’s laughable.”) Fortunately, there’s still time to get on the right side of history. We’re hopeful that our brothers and sisters momentarily lost in the dark will soon join us in the light, on the beautiful path toward social, economic, racial, gender, environmental and political justice.

We’re on our way. The transformation has begun. And here’s the good news for all the voters who are late to the party, Superdelegates and Hillbillies alike: we’ve got room for you, too. When Bernie Sanders is President, the United States of America will have one rule of law for every citizen regardless of color or wealth, and every citizen will enjoy the dignity and responsibility of recognizing that we’re all in this together.

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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 to close 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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