15 September 2017
Richard Van Ingram
[Who is Andrew Lack? He runs NBC News and MSNBC for Comcast. Powerful position – he decides what gets shown and what gets cancelled, regardless of ratings. The problem: Lack will likely not renew Lawrence O’Donnell’s (of The Last Word on MSNBC) contract which is up at the end of May 2017 – two weeks, as of this writing. Not due to low ratings – The Last Word has been finishing at #2 right behind Rachel Maddow who is now #1.
Why, then? Only Lack knows for certain, but the outcome would be: Donald Trump, who has a running feud with O’Donnell for calling him out for promotion of racist birtherism beginning in 2011.
Additionally, Lack seems, consistently, to be pushing more and more right-wing personalities onto MSNBC and pressuring the liberal points of view off. A fair report can be found here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/lawrence-odonnell-msnbc-future_us_59162d8ce4b00f308cf5534a?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004 .
What’s the point?! I am a citizen of the USA and the freedom of the press and independent, meaningful commentary is the main outside check we have on government, politicians, and the wealthy who influence policy – in short, power. Putting O’Donnell off the air is a sign of a trend and not a good one, one in the direction of “adjusting” to the rule of a man and sis followers who are destroying liberal democracy; not simply here in the USA, but in Europe and elsewhere. What citizens do, what are our responsibilities and right is to speak out, by voting, by writing our representatives, by peaceful protest, activism, by educating ourselves, and by writing those powerful people who control our media.
Not a US Citizen? In this case, it does not matter. You can tell someone who runs a network what you think as well. You are a client of such as much as I am and that is what matters. If you wish to write Andrew Lack. do so here: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/10285339/t/contact-nbc-news/ ]
You were awarded Peabody awards, among other things, in your long career. Those are indeed something to live up to, not rest upon — for us who depend, in part, on television for news and meaningful commentary, the networks and cable news you control are of vital importance.
With the open attacks on First Amendment rights and an independent media we heard from this administration and controlling party, the task of a free media is to push back, not back down.
One way to do this is to continue to support your reporters and commentators who do this daily and have done so, especially in the past two years.
No, you are not “the opposition party.” Neither are you the “give the people what they want to hear” party nor the “appear less threatening to opponents of civil liberties” party.
One understands: in part, you are in it for the money. The news division is alleged to be separate and distinct from the entertainment division; but that was already a difficulty in the age of Murrow and only became murkier. The news division is in it for the truth, or ought to be, and the commentary section is as well — to offer perspectives on the truth. Whether or not this angers those in power, including investors.
Otherwise, such doesn’t serve the function of an independent public check on power in a liberal democracy. Hence, advertising and entertainment pay for the news, ideally. That, or we wind up with “infotainment.” Which is worse than worthless as such is a weak alloy of provocative fictions and some facts, difficult to disentangle and encourages the viewer to NOT even attempt to tell reality from a story, an imaginary narrative.
We have plenty of that on the radio; and that is the raison d’etre of FOX News.
It is bad enough that you have brought over personalities such as Greta van Susteren who are tainted by the FOX model and who certainly go out of the way to invent excuses for the inexcusable based wholly on a right-wing ideology.
Worse is you seem to be considering not renewing Lawrence O’Donnell’s contract.
Just assume such a decision would run clean contrary to every positive thing just stated about the function of a free media in a liberal democracy.
Including you living up to those Peabody awards.
Renew Lawrence O’Donnell’s contract. Period. This is not the time to cut the teeth and claws off MSNBC or any other form of news and commentary. Otherwise, just rename what you do FOX-esque “infotainment” and we will tune in elsewhere or spend even more time with good papers and other sources of actual news and free, responsible perspectives.
Richard Van Ingram
15 May 2017
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Cover: RVI, August 2016.
“Mr. Gloom…,” RVI, November 2016 – January 2017
“Division,” January 2017, Scott Stripling at Scott_Stripling_Art on Instagram
“Trump Memes,” Andrew Hamill, January 2017, Atomic Detonator Productions on Facebook and http://atomicdetonatorart.squarespace.com/
“Fame & Fortuna, Part One” – RVI , July 2016; “Part Two,” November 2016
Political cartoons and sketches were all made in July 2016 at the RNC Convention, Cleveland, OH by Richard Van Ingram.
Thank you, Kyle Reynolds at www.slugnuts.com for the financial and moral support – Read Slugnuts’ “THE END TIMES #1”; excellent satirical work. And just plain funny.
27 April 2017
Richard Van Ingram
ICE STATION ZERO SURFACING FOR TRANSMISSION
16 APRIL 2017
In the months and weeks leading to the 2016 Republican National Convention, I found a nagging suspicion – a number of them, really, all related – that far more was at work within and behind the phenomenon of Trump and his rise to power than could be grasped through the constant public “show”.
On the streets of Cleveland, OH, covering the convention as a political cartoonist, these suspicions began to reveal themselves as useful, accurate intuitions from which to construct interpretive theories.
My first public essay — neither technical nor complete – I shared, for what it’s worth without hope it would made any difference; it was more an exercise in bearing witness and sounding a small alarm that, eventually, might have a hearing by someone who could employ it, flesh it out, expand it.
The essay was The Living Rorschach Test which you may read here:
My second, more thorough pass at providing an historical background and orientation to the Trump phenomenon in its wider context was It Has Happened Here, leading to this passage in particular:
(You may read the previous essay in its entirety here:
Of course, at the convention and writing these two essays I had no notion of the Russian involvement behind “false news stories” (aka propaganda designed to misinform and mislead American voters and the involvement of the Multi-billionaire Mercer family. The Mercers, represented by daughter, Rebekah, intend to disrupt the Republican Party – already in a shambles – and, perhaps, oppose the very institutions of liberal democracy.
(The best written and researched article on the Mercers is here: http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/mercers/ ).
All of this could be guessed at, vaguely, but only guessed at without the information now leaking out from American and international intelligence services. Not that, had we known, the election would have turned out differently: How many of Trump’s supporters supported and support him because of his values (he has none)? No, he was their vehicle to invade government and destroy it — weaken its ability to enforce the laws that keep the peace, establish a minimal tolerance, and suppress our extremist right-wing neo-Nazis and fascists repackaged for the Millennials as the hipster “Alt-Right.”
So, you got Trump – who lost the popular vote by 3 million. And every far-right extremist group now feel emboldened to begin planning a future that doesn’t include may of us: non-white immigrants; Muslims; Jews; anyone wearing a turban; black people; Native Americans; and, yes, generationally poor whites… who are always the ill-educated cannon-fodder used to attack the enemies of the wealthy and the racists, even to the point of death on battlefields and the streets.
Happy deaths on battlefields and streets as they have, for all their lives, been sold the myth that their place is to work for nothing until dead, expect nothing better for their children, and that they are descendants of some false nobility passed down through “the blood” – Anglo-Saxons, Celts, sometimes Norse; and their god/genetically-ordained task is to stand between the race-mixing hordes, the leveling liberals, and democratic ideals in rights and economics to protect “the pure aristocracy” at top.
All this never understanding there is, ontologically, no such thing as “race.” It’s a story told to subjugate our brothers and sisters while elevating ourselves, just as no one is born of a “certain class” it is their destiny to remain within. Race and class are myths with which we culturally enslave one another, reduce one another to beings “less-than” human.
This will be the starting point for part two of this essay.
(((Richard Van Ingram)))
16 April 2017
Trepidation — that is what I experience much of the time when I speak of anything important, make an image, write words. The struggle with this, for me, is intense and often crippling: Is this a genuine fear of hubris — of trespassing on matters I am not called to explore? Or is it a form of grandiosity — and, mind you, grandiosity resides in the strangest of locales? I mean, am I afraid to speak because I “know” many will hear and some believe?
Do I really possess that latter power? People will be moved to action because of my words and drawings?
That, truly, is foolishness.
The power to speak, to a degree, is something I can perform; the power to speak rashly and with poor judgment, even incorrectly out of naivete or stupidity — that is a defect that often possesses me. The desire to please: well, that is a wretched thing indeed and often lies behind the moments I’ve played fast and loose with truthfulness in favor of rhetoric. A tongue may be golden because it passes on a genuine gift; or it may be but gold-plated because it is manipulative, seeking lesser things, seeking ultimately to receive, not share, not help, not mentor.
Those moments, the latter sort, are fewer and fewer as I mature, and haste born of passion is something I spend time in extinguishing. Delay and consideration are not luxuries, not for a human being — they are among the necessities.
So, I can speak, I can write, I can make art — and these may emerge from deep meditation and consideration, restrained, or they may be extravagant and self-aggrandizing. Even the silence can be grandiose if not properly motivated… and no one, outside myself, can tell or judge my motivations in such matters without themselves attempting to substitute a manipulating fiction for my own story, the story that is my autobiography, is me in this world.
As for treading where angels fear to go… that is the birthright and responsibility of a human. The world, this world, the world of life was no more made for angels than it was for monstrosities — morally stunted or deformed egomaniacs or zealots who never doubt themselves because “They Know.”
“They Know” what the Absolute Truth is, as if they were gods, and they know what they desire, and they will possess what they want or destroy any who get in their way or resist. In such manner, people make themselves a living plague, something to be completely avoided or resisted.
Angels have no choice. Monstrosities choose to serve the black depths of insatiable ego at any cost, rationalizing and creating whatever fiction suits them best in the moment and in the long-term.
‘Hillel says, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” ‘ Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14
I’ve considered this passage from the sage for a very long time. Years. In fact, I meditated on it before knowing Hillel (or anyone else) summed this very human crisis up as succinctly as he did.
Notice the three questions: One without the next is misleading. And the first question has, itself, two portions, and if that question is not adequately faced with some humility, all is lost. The error in interpretation will breed a deadly monstrosity called “egoism.”
The commentaries point out that, in the first question, two “I”s, not one, are referred to — The first is said to be the sacred, holy “soul,” my – and your – true self that has never departed from the presence of HaShem – The Ineffable One. That “I” is pure and untouched by this world, in a deep sense — the sense of the prayer, “My soul within me, she is pure.”
Obviously, I am not pure in any really meaningful way — I am full of error, stupidity, foolishness, imperfections, even evil. Part of me is stained black as night. I have done wrong, many, many times. But that other “I” — she has done no wrong and will not. How odd.
Why? How can such a paradox exist as a unified “me”?
Because, in part, the burning mystery of that Spark of the Divine — the “image and likeness” – is the “I” whom I must strive to bring forth within this world of history, circumstance, flux, through the vehicle of my actions and intentions, however limited. The first “I” is my destiny, the one that I must choose to realize and make my vital project, that guides and gives form to my life in whatever time and in whatever place I am given to perform it.
If justice is to be here in the world, I must choose it, value it, interpret it, and become a just person by consistent and painful degrees. If there is to be mercy, forgiveness, courage, thoughtfulness, carefulness, generosity, peacefulness, beauty, truthfulness, hopefulness… if there are to be qualities such as these, I must bring them into the world in my own way without departing from their standards, their requirements.
Thus, if I am not for me — if my deepest Self does not shine even dimly for me, guide me, orient me, direct me to true Light, and if I do not choose to “become who I am,” to actually perform my proper labor, my destiny, my work… no one else can force me, perform my work – however modest – in my place. No one else can become me… or you, or any of us.
In the words of Ortega y Gasset, paraphrased, “We are each irreplaceable, each necessary,” all of us, each pursuing her destiny, all supporting her. Human existence is a matter of “all of us or none of us.”
Perhaps human life has always seemed cheap to most people — I do not know. We are faced, once more, with entire groups of people, majorities, who have decided those “unlike them” are “The Other”: and The Other is the object of fear and hatred, to be expelled, monitored, locked up, destroyed. Instead of beholding an Alter-Ego, “another I,” when considering others, they take full possession of “I” for themselves and themselves alone, their tribe, their beliefs, their skin color, their fictions. Anyone else, any dissent, any culture, individuality, creativity, belief, even tribe or color or any other form of love than the majority’s becomes threatening.
Threats, if taken seriously enough, get eradicated after being randomly defined as “unnatural,” “wicked,” “abominable,” “lies,” “leeches,” — any and everything except “human” and sacred. Criminals by birth.
So – “If I am only for myself, who am I?” Even HaShem “stooped” to grant humans existence out of nothing; The Divinity shared with us the great gift of being, and there was no necessity in it. We did not have to come into existence — any one of us or all of us together, even this or any other universe. Even the possibility of universes is not, in itself, self-explicable in the sense of metaphysical being. The Divine began – as far as we are concerned – by sharing something beyond comprehension with us, out of a free, creative choice, out of mercy.
Out of an inexplicable love and friendship.
And what is given, then, is given to be shared, not hoarded up. Not given here but refused out of disdain there. We receive, we learn, we create in order to pass on, to share, not because it must be “earned” by the other, but because if I do not share, who do I become by my selfishness? How can I become myself, my true self, without acknowledging the other?
It is not as if I, myself sprang into being without others — in reality, first, there are the others: only afterwards and slowly is there the “I” who exists in the world, who begins to value and choose and create. I emerge from the others and their labor. They gave me language, they gave me beliefs, ideas, they taught me to think, to value, they gave me culture, they passed on to me certain valuable (and not so valuable) practices — and even where wrong or misguided, I cannot turn around and perform the labor — give the gift — of improving, reforming, or even excising errors from the culture for the future without, first, being brought up and given certain gifts.
“If not now, when?”
When will I choose to learn that I and other implicate one another, require one another? When will I begin to doubt myself long enough in to hear my “True Self,” my calling, my vocation, my destiny? When will I perform who I am — become who I truly am?
Now. Or never. You and I have a now that is ever-passing; soon enough, there will be no “now” that includes me, even as a memory. Only a now that includes whether or not I did my work, did it well, did it poorly… and no one save HaShem will have any memory of that.
“…[I]s it your reputation that’s bothering you? But look at how soon we’re all forgotten. The abyss of endless time that swallows it all. The emptiness of those applauding hands. The people who praise us; how capricious they are, how arbitrary. And the tiny region it takes place. The whole earth a point in space – and most of it uninhabited.”
Marcus Aurelius, THE MEDITATIONS
No, it is not that your life is meaningless: It is that your life and the lives of all other people are the only conduits of meaningfulness in this universe we know anything about. Yet meaningfulness and fame, fortune, comfort, and other preferable situations — there is no link between these two sets of things at all except accidentally, in terms of “fortune.” If one only lives for the “preferable” and falls apart when these depart — as they must, one will never strive for meaningfulness. One will fail to value it. One may even grow to find meaning repulsive and painful.
Hence, monstrosities are born, create themselves, serve themselves, demand service for themselves, all while ignoring and discarding… themselves.
And, so, we arrive at the end of all I wish to say for the moment.
Richard Van Ingram
20 November 2016
31 October 2016
Richard Van Ingram
Has Trump screwed the pooch,finally? It appears he’s screwed everything and everyone else with just as little care.
Yes, this version [link below] has all the “dirty words.” You didn’t care about him summoning up every white trash supremacist piece of shit in the country; you did not care he summoned up every neo-Nazi in America AND Europe; you don’t care he hates Muslims; you do not care he hates Latinos; you do not care he hates black people; you do not care he is the most openly racist candidate since Strom Thurmond, if not more so and casually.
He is an authoritarian.
He is in love with dictators, including Putin.
He has elevated conspiracy “theorists” — liars and mythologists –to high levels in his party.
He has destroyed the RNC and converted it nearly completely into a party of White Nationalism.
Mike Pence, the ultra right-wing Conservative Evangelical theocrat, pretends he doesn’t say or do things that are on video and taped — probably so he can run next go ’round, being as opportunistic as Trump. And you were STILL going to vote for this shithead.
But “dirty words” and obvious misogyny — as if we haven’t seen 16 tons of misogyny out of him for 40 years — that’s going to be the “last straw”? I doubt it. I don’t have that much faith in humanity or “white” Americans, to be honest or them who suck up to them.
He’ll fake an apology and you’ll say, “but Bill Clinton” — as if Bill Clinton is up for office in this election, and you’ll say “Hillary is horrible” — as if that’s not the outcome of 35 years of right-wing propaganda mixed with Hillary’s occasional fuck-up… even though, morally and in terms of character and judgment, she’s STILL a paragon of virtue and intelligence when compared with the bully boy in the 70 year-old body.
I hope he doesn’t drop out. I hope he and your worthless white trash party loses, goes on the junk-heap of history, and you conservatives come to your senses. Reform your party. Purge the Tea Party, the nihilists, the Nazis, and go back pre-Goldwater and start all over looking to Eisenhower for something like guidance. Or maybe Lincoln, but, of course, he’s too damn liberal for you, so let’s take it slow.
7 October 2016
Richard Van Ingram
All Along The WatchtowerWRITTEN BY: BOB DYLAN
“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief “There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth None of them along the line know what any of it is worth”“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”
All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too
Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl
© 1968 by Dwarf Music; renewed 1996 by Dwarf Music
There he was. Saw his helicopters coming in to the Quicken Building because, you know, he sleeps in New York, not podunk Cleveland, Ohio. That would not sound sexy enough — that would tarnish the image, sleeping among the commoners, even of the political party he now owns, lock, stock, and two smoking barrels.
I was there on Day Zero, the new beginning, the deformation of the United States of America: Me, down in the streets drawing political cartoons and observational sketches of the goings on, trying to make sense of utter senselessness. Which, of course, is my calling as a philosopher; so I was switching back and forth among three personas — the observer, the theorist, and the satirist. Cleveland, Ohio, a beautiful place with wonderful people, interesting people, most of whom were in hiding or hustling “Hillary for Prison 2016” tee shirts on the sidewalks, not because they believed in that, but because they were going to fleece these sons of bitches for invading their town.
One of the guys I was with said he asked a vendor, a black man, why he was selling those shirts and worse.
“Leave me alone, man,” was the response, “you’ve got your hustle, I’ve got mine.”
“There’s a sucker born every minute” and those RNC conventioneers had “sucker” written all over them. Marks, every last one of them. And you, too, could see that, assuming you tuned in to any of the floor action from the convention. Suckers for believing in the man with the weird hair who helicoptered in and out of the Quicken Center so he did not have to get up close and personal with his filthy flock or run the risk of being questioned by a reporter who may have had the audacity to press him for something more substantive than an off the wall, fact-free assertion or a slogan.
If I heard “build a wall” or “ban all Muslims” or “Make America Safe Again” once that week, I heard it a bloody blue million times. What I did not hear was why those were good things, much less possible things, what they would accomplish, and, certainly, I never heard how it would get done. Those latter things are above the pay grade of the citizen and voter: Trump will just do it.
“Trust me. Trust me,” as he says often and loudly.
Law and Order — you know, like Nixon, and the return of the Silent Majority. Rip-off after rip-off, from Trump’s slogans to Melania’s plagiarized speech. And the suckers don’t care while the rest of you have given up. It doesn’t matter what the man says, truly — it punches the emotional buttons of frightened, angry white people; it keeps him the subject of every news and infotainment program 24 hours a day; it creates a shiny caucasian fantasy of a sparking, brown-free land where “foreigners” do not belong, where everyone is a certain, acceptable form of Evangelical Christian, where “our culture and heritage” are never again tainted by notions from alien sources.
Not that any of these people know any history or are cultured, in any meaningful sense. Or else they’d know the strength of Western culture at its best was always that it would borrow and absorb ideas and beliefs from anywhere, adjust itself, correct itself. That it was revitalized and saved by the Moors of Al-Andalus who preserved Greek learning for the world and a better form of mathematics and science and medicine. Those Moors, black people, Muslim, reached the heights of civilized life and rescued, made possible… a future worthy of humans.
“Ban all Muslims” indeed.
These people know nothing of The Enlightenment that once fought to rescue humanity from superstition, religious enthusiasm, monarchical absolutism and despotism. They know nothing of the hard-won Western value of “tolerance,” or the establishment of “human rights.” They know nothing of Voltaire’s 18th c. war on “being put to the question” — torture, in other words — or the real meaning of his battle cry, “Ecrasez l’Infame!”
“Torture the terrorists, even harsher this time!”
Law and Order. Make America Safe Again. Build the wall.
He’s got his hustle, too, this Donald J. Trump.
By all appearances, he is a human, an all-too-human human. But look closely and you will see what has become clearer to me over the preceding months, finally confirmed on the streets of Cleveland.
Trump is an empty space, a vacuum, a back hole. An ink blot and, so, a walking Rorschach Test. That’s the man’s interior — there is nothing meaningful in itself there at all. There never has been. He has no belief in anything of value beyond himself… whom he does not value enough to wonder at. He believes in appearances, in gaudy material things, in the trophy wives, in his brand, “TRUMP,” which, for a nominal service fee can be and has been pasted on anything. Because, in itself, it means nothing, stands for nothing, is nothingness.
The secret of Donald Trump is not that the emperor has no clothes; it’s worse: The emperor isn’t even really there. He is a nihilist. Power for the sake of power, attention for the sake of attention — that’s his activity, his function.
He is a black ink splatter and you see in him whatever you project.
For the neo-Nazi, for the Klansman, for David Duke, for the white people afraid the Age of the White People is drawing to a close, he is a neo-Nazi, a Klansman, a reflection of David Duke’s life-long fantasies; he is the savior of racist, white, Evangelical Christian America.
For the greedy, the money-hungry, or the working aspirant to the higher classes he is “financial success,” he is “the art of the deal,” he is “the rebirth of the American Dream.” No, his record bears none of this out, sketchy as it is. But reality is not the point; it’s that Trump has become all things to all men because he, in his depths, stands for nothing in particular. He is happy to seem to be whomever or whatever you wish… just as is a Rorschach Test.
For the Tea Party, he is a weird, irreconcilable mix of libertarianism and protectionism and the confusion of church with state. He is the promised reaction to LGBTQ rights, the final judgment on Socialized Medicine — both extensions of justice and human rights, long overdue. And which don’t fully exist here, but he’ll make certain they go away, nonetheless. Because you are throwing your fears into that black center and he echoes them back to you, only louder.
On the streets of Cleveland I witnessed a carnival without the fun, a carnival of incivility and anger, a celebration of laughing hatred and monstrous beliefs. Halloween minus the holiness, all tricks and precious few treats. Dueling bullhorns blaring unadulterated bullshit. Hope that hopelessness will tear this entire nation into warring groups, each thinking Trump supports them, each utterly incorrect.
Not that, given power, he won’t step back and allow each hateful, fearful group to have their orgy of violence and exclusion… all the better to ignore dear Trump as he lives it up on the public dole and commands the airwaves to say whatever will fill up the otherwise empty 24/7 news cycles.
That’s worked for him so far; until it doesn’t, he’ll keep it up.
He’ll get his attention, make his narcissist’s sociopathic pronouncements, build the financial value of his brand, “TRUMP,” and then cash it all in and leave us an ungovernable, uncooperative shambles.
Perhaps he will go live with Putin whom, today, he openly encouraged to spy on the Democratic Party. Crooked as Nixon was, he at least was ashamed enough to keep his treasonous, illegal, immoral activities hidden. Trump couldn’t and does not have the capacity to steal the microscopic shred of conscience that barely lived within Richard Nixon — because that would require him to stand for something beyond his own empty self. No, he just takes the slogans: Law and Order, Silent Majority.
Empty words. Emptiness emerging from his dark emptiness.
And you’ve missed it. The media misunderstood they were being used and played like a cheap piano.
27 July 2016
Richard Van Ingram