How To Beat Tribalism? Be Even MORE “Tribal”

Humans are tribal by nature; it’s a survival instinct. Since reproduction is one of our key “primal directives”, our genome has built into it behaviors that give our personal DNA every chance to create a next version of “us”. After our own precious ass, our family’s ass comes next in the pecking order. Then our extended family. Or, for some people, their friend circle. The block they live on. Their neighborhood. The school district they live in. The PTAs at their kids’ schools. The social issues that matter to them. Their city. The football or basketball or soccer or baseball team they love — and every other fan of that team. If you think about it, we form tribes with anything and everything we can — because we’re social creatures and this is what social creatures do.

White supremacists are no more tribal than anyone else. They just seem that way because they put all their emphasis on being in a limited number of tribes rather than as many as possible. “Jews will not replace us” — the rallying cry and tribal grievance of the Charlottesville Fascists Club — represents a particularly odd bit of tribalism. The whole “replacement culture” thing is bizarre because it assumes that those with the grievance are “replaceable” to begin with. Replaceable how exactly? In their jobs? In their marriages? In their lives? Being replaceable by “others” to whom you are supposedly “superior” is a strange way to think of yourself and your tribe. If your tribe excelled at something then that fact would make your tribe irreplaceable. Why don’t these “white supremacists” excel at anything other than having grievances? Why do THEY think THEY are replaceable?

In a competitive job market — in a competitive, capitalistic system — one MUST compete in order to stay in the game. Every group arriving here (aside from white people) have accepted that fact and worked their asses off to achieve some degree of success (and they’ve had to do that in the face of relentless white resistance). In that sense, EVERYONE is “replaceable” if they don’t continue to contribute to the group’s effort or hold up their end of the social bargain. Ah, but that’s where white privilege asserts itself. White people have gotten it into their heads that, since white men got together and wrote the Constitution – and framed it entirely to their advantage (as the “men” who were created equal”) – that this is set in concrete. That’s the whole point of “originalism” — to falsely assert that the flawed thinking of a group of (French) enlightened racists and misogynists is America’s bottom line. The country can only be exactly how the framers framed it.

Bullshit. The men who imagined this democratic republic made it changeable. They understood that this bold idea would need plenty of room around it to expand. They seemed to grasp, on some level, the incompleteness of their ideation — that “all men” was a bigger tribe than just white men. Congress approved of “E pluribus unum” as America’s motto (they put it on our Great Seal) in 1782. Out of many, one.

Out of many tribes, ONE TRIBE.

White supremacists can’t abide that. They think their TRIBE is replaceable. That, right there, is the problem.

I’m not sure there is a solution to white supremacy. Centuries of thinking one way about themselves versus everyone else has convinced white Europeans that their whiteness makes them superior. No, white people, it does not. White people are a minority of people on earth. If not for the greater lethality of the pathogens that evolved inside white Europeans over a thousand or so years (versus the pathogens evolving inside other human groups scattered across the globe), perhaps even their guns and steel would have faltered when they went exploring. A big piece of white people even thinking they’re “superior” comes from the relative ease with which white Europeans seized the Americas. The European colonizers told themselves their Christian faith — their god Yahweh — made them superior. Again, NO! Smallpox, measles and influenza — introduced into the Americas by European explorers — wiped out 90% OF NATIVE AMERICANS. If not for fleas — which carried the bubonic plague from China to Europe, bubonic plague might not have wiped out half of Europe in the fourteenth century. If not for Europeans and THEIR bugs, Europeans would have faced far more resistance when they landed on these shores.

How do we defeat tribalism? We don’t deny it; we can’t. It’s just too hard-wired into us. Why do you think there are soccer riots? Instead, we go at it, full bore. We make everyone “hyper-tribal” but not in that they see their exclusivity as a tribe. Rather, like two people who love the same song, they forget all their other potential differences and begin with that thing they have in common. Building from there (something as simple as a song), I bet those two people will surprise themselves with all their commonalities. Yes — there are differences. But, now there’s context for the differences.

Those two people might come to blows all the same; they just don’t like each other. But once you start talking together about how and why a song touches you, you will unlock pieces of your soul (such as it is) to that other person.

It’s a lot harder to feel tribally defensive toward someone whose soul you understand.

If Russia Made Donald Trump President (They Did) Then Donald Trump Was NEVER The Legitimate POTUS

I’m not sure when exactly we got it into our heads that cheating to win was merely one more “way” to win. It’s not. The moment one cheats to win, one cannot win. One might appear to “win” at the time of the contest but if further examination reveals clear evidence of cheating — and that’s ANY cheating (where exactly would we draw the line between acceptable cheating and too much cheating?) then the contest is decided by default: cheaters can NEVER win; therefore the victory goes to the non-cheater. In 2016, that would have made Hilary Clinton POTUS. It is a profound understatement to say that Trump & the Republican Party cheated massively in order to “win” in 2016. Surely, the Republicans would not still be working their bloated butts off to hold onto power now if they hadn’t cheated to get that power four years ago. They did cheat — and for that they’re legally liable. But, as we know, the GOP did more than just “cheat”. They committed TREASON as part of their cheating. For that, they must pay a price.

As we’re learning finally — now that the Trumpanistas can no longer obstruct investigations into every rotten, corrupt, treasonous thing Trump did while in office — the Trumps, in fact, perpetrated a shitload of rotten, corrupt treason. We know now for a certainty that Trump’s campaign manager Paul Manafort handed Konstantin Kilimnik proprietary polling data for Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan for him to pass onto Oleg Deripaska. Both Kilimnik and Deripaska are oligarchs and long time friends of Vladimir Putin’s. Both are Russian military intelligence. Why on earth would Manafort hand sensitive data about American voters to a hostile foreign intelligence service?

As we know — have known for years now (it’s only our “news media” that’s finally getting hip to what’s been happening the whole time) — that proprietary polling data went straight to Russian Military Intelligence where they turned it into weaponized Facebook ads accusing Hilary Clinton of racism. Those ads — using the proprietary polling data as a guide — were then targeted at Black, Democratic voters, the intent; cause enough Black voters to stay home to further destroy Clinton’s electoral advantage in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. At the same time, other parts of Trump’s corrupt, treason machine had caused then FBI Director, the painfully out-of-his-depth Jim Comey to write the “The Comey Letter” which re-opened the whole “But, her emails!” discussion ten days before the election. On election day, Trump’s and Russia’s various ops had brought those three key states — PA, MI & WI — to within the margin of error.

That — put your money on it — is when ES&S and Diebold went to work. Most of the electronic voting machines in America are made by ES&S, a company run by Republican sympathizers who donate to Republican candidates and where Republicans sit on the Board of Directors. They have consistently refused to close internet-accessible back doors on their machines. Gosh, I wonder why…

We already know that but for Russia, Donald Trump would NEVER have been president. That means that Trump was never actually president since the power of the office flows from our authority — which we grant to the winner of free and fair elections. However — if the election isn’t free or fair then the authority that flows from it does not flow. We assume the authority flows — we certainly pretend it does. But the stone cold truth is Donald Trump NEVER had the authority to be president because We The People never granted it to him — because WE voted for Hillary Clinton.

Trump — always happy to project — told us from the start that his presidency was not legit. Our news media, of course, refused to listen to him.

But, we should. This will be a challenging revelation but we can’t just shrug it off as “something that happened”. How can we really go on as a sovereign nation if OTHER nations get to pick our leaders? We can’t. And the moment we prove beyond the shadow of a doubt — and we absolutely will — that Russia chose Donald Trump to be our POTUS, we’re going to have to confront what that means in practical terms. None of the judges Trump appointed can remain judges — Trump never had the authority to nominate them. None of the “hard” changes Trump made to the government — the ones requiring plenty of hoop jumping to put them back to normal — can stand. None of the legislation — including the tax break for billionaires — can remain on the books.

Throw into this growing tumbleweed of terribleness all the other corruption the Republican Party brought to the table the last four years.

Most damaging, of course, is what Trump (and Mitch McConnell) did to the judiciary. For years, McConnell refused to give Obama’s judges (including his SCOTUS nominee Merrick Garland) the time of day (never mind a hearing). The whole point of the Republican power grab was to use the Judiciary and the Senate to leverage their way to permanent minority rule.

Mitch also has “treason” vulnerabilities. Mitch needs to explain — under oath Benghazi-style — his relationship with oligarch, Putin Pal and Russian intelligence officer Oleg Deripaska. Mitch will insist he has no relationship with any Russians! But, Mitch would be lying again. Mitch refused to let We The People in on the big secret that Putin was behind a massive scheme to defraud American voters of their choice. At a notorious meeting of the Gang Of Eight in September 2016, Mitch got up on his little Treason Turtle legs and told Obama that if Obama told Americans that Russia was trying to make Trump president, he, Mitch, would drop that on America — that the Democrats were “politicizing the intelligence”.

In the election’s aftermath, Deripaska got sanctioned for his role in attacking the election. Mitch however saw to it that those sanctions on Deripaska got lifted so that Deripaska could “gift” Mitch with a Russian-owned aluminum factory in Western Kentucky. Something’s rotten in the state of Kentucky — and the stink is coming from Mitch McConnell’s turtle pond.

The reason the Republicans have fought so hard to obstruct all investigations into Trump’s involvement with Russia is because Trump was deeply involved with Russia. So is most of the Republican Party. A month before nominating Trump as their “guy” in 2016, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of Republican leadership. “There’s two people I think Putin pays,” said McCarthy, “Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one in the room dropped what they were holding and had to scrape their jaw off the floor. No one asked McCarthy why he’d say such a terrible, damning thing? No one said “Geez, guys, I feel like we ought to call the FBI!” Instead, per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan insisted they were all family — meaning, all secrets stay secret.

It will take a long, long time for America to get over what Trump and his Republican co-conspirators have done to America. The instant we stop granting him — and anything he did — legitimacy? The faster we’ll get over Trump.

Why Do American Men Turn To Guns To Solve Their Emotional Problems?

Adam Lanza

Another mass shooting in America — Eight murdered at a Fed Ex facility in Indianapolis — and the news media needs to know: “What’s the motive?” As if the gunman’s particular issue with the world would explain why he reacted exactly as he did. Our news media is good at wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth at these moments. But they’re guilty of giving credence to bullshit arguments. I’m old enough to remember when they’d regularly give climate science deniers equal time because, hey — they have a “point of view” so therefore because they have it, it must be valid. Here, as always, on one side is a majority of Americans who do not own guns and resent the fact that gun owners can’t keep their damned killing machines to themselves. On the other side are gun owners whose hair catches fire immediately because, damn it, as former NRA president Chuck Heston put it, we can try and pry their guns from their cold, dead fingers.

What is this mania to have guns in the first place? Yeah, sure — out in rural America, something or other. That seems to be the argument’s meat: we’re different. We’re threatened by neighbors who live miles away and by strangers we’ve never met. In case those zombie-people come, swarming by the dozens, those guns will be all that stands between us and the zombie apocalypse.

America’s gun problem is borderline intractable in large part because we’ve spent so long giving credence to bullshit arguments about guns. Rather than dismiss fears of marauders out of hand, we indulge this nonsense. We nod along to their white terror: “Oh, yes, of course it could happen — Black or brown people are probably plotting right this second to break into your house and eat your children for lunch. Have all the weaponry you want!” The data says that won’t happen. But — the data again — it could happen that one of those guns ends up killing someone who live in the house — by way of an accident or suicide or a moment of intra-familial rage.

That’s the other lie about guns that our news media happily propagates — that “responsible gun owners” don’t have these problems. There is no such thing as “responsible gun ownership”. Nancy Lanza thought she was a responsible gun owner until her son Adam shot her with her own legally purchased Bushmaster XM15 semi-automatic rifle before taking that weapon — and ten magazines with 30 rounds each to Sandy Hook Elementary School. Adam Lanza used a gun to resolve his emotional problems. Whatever was bothering him, he became convinced that the solution to it would spit from the muzzle of that Bushmaster.

Nobody turns a gun on other people — on strangers or on people they know — because they’re happy with them. You point a death machine — that’s what a gun is by design — at someone in order to threaten them. Do what they say or they’ll kill you with that gun. Gun violence killed 20,000 Americans last year. That’s a lot of anger. Another 24,000 Americans used guns to commit suicide. If the guns that were used to end those 44,000 lives hadn’t been available, how many of those people would still be here today? Most of them, that’s who — if not all of them.

Our gun laws all flow directly from our racism. If white people thought for two seconds that, say, Black people were arming themselves to the teeth the way white people already have? They’d re-write the gun laws just like that. Here’s my “let’s make a deal” to gun world: I’ll be honest if you will. Yes, in a perfect world, I admit it: I would insist that we carry out the Second Amendment to the letter. We’d arrange for a “well regulated militia” to formally take over the job of deciding who among the citizenry will be permitted to “keep” or “bear” the militia’s arms. The arms, you see, would BELONG to the militia; the word “own” doesn’t appear in the Second Amendment. Do you suppose that’s an accident? I don’t. The word “own” was perfectly good back then. Yet, strangely, they didn’t use that word to describe anyone’s relationship with a gun — as its “owner”.

Maybe the Constitution’s framers understood that some people couldn’t be trusted to have a gun in their hands. They might want to be in the militia but the militia wouldn’t want them; they’re nuts.

The whole tone of the gun rights argument smacks of emotional neediness. Virtually none of these people need their guns for “protection”. C’mon — I was honest — I said I’d take most guns. The other side needs to be honest, too: they need to confess why they REALLY feel threatened enough to “keep” a death machine within reach. What do they REALLY feel threatened by?

I write this as a suicide survivor. I tried to step in front of a bus. It seemed, in the moment, a sure thing. It wasn’t. Ah, but if I’d had a gun — I’d have been 2020’s suicide gun death number 24,001.

Prosecuting Trump For His Coronavirus Failures First Might Be The Quickest Way To Nail Him For Betraying Us To Russia

Fact: Election Day 2016 was a crime scene more than it was an election. On that day, Russia pulled off the greatest intelligence coup of all time: they made their fully owned asset — Donald J. Trump — President of the United States. Assisting in that act of unmitigated treason from start to finish was the entire Republican Party. The GOP knew even before they nominated Trump that Russia owned him. A month before the nomination convention, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of Republican muckety-mucks and said, out loud: “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” No one gasped in surprise. Quite the contrary. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — one of the highest ranking people in his political party — demanded omerta, gang loyalty. “We’re family”, is how he put it. You know — like a CRIME family?

As the results rolled in election night 2016, how many Republicans watched with a hand to their mouths — shocked by what their Russian co-conspirators had pulled off for their mutual benefit? How many Republicans — understanding what had just happened and why — also appreciated that this seizure of the American Peoples’ will that Russia was gifting to the GOP came with significant strings that, like it or not, now bound them together — Russia and the Republican Party. I bet more than a few understood completely. Take Lindsey Graham. A former anti-Trumper, suddenly — after a round of golf with Trump — Lindsey became Trump’s loyal fluffer. We all remember how the DNC and its emails were hacked. Well, the RNC got hacked too. They used a company called Smartech to handle their emails. Russia hacked Smartech — and you can bet the ranch and everything else you’ve got that Russia has used what they hacked to maximum effect.

The Republican Party will stand with Donald Trump to the bitter end. They have no choice. Having committed treason together, they know what their jeopardy is. If they’re lucky, they’ll end their days in federal prison. If they’re unlucky, they’ll face the death penalty (of which I’m no fan but, where they’re concerned, I’m open to making an exception). That is precisely why the Republicans will do literally anything to avoid being punished for what they did and why they’re so intent on destroying our election process.

The Republicans know The Big Lie is A Big Lie. Put under oath, each and every one of them would swear on a stack of Bibles (a book none of them have ever read) that of course Joe Biden won the election. The point of this exercise isn’t really to question the election’s actual outcome, it’s to change that outcome entirely because, if they don’t, they’ll lose everything. The stakes for pretty much every Republican is now all or nothing. This is why the Republicans have not only NOT refuted the Big Lie, they’ve been nurturing it. An Ipsos Poll published a few days ago found that “55% of Republicans believe his 2020 election loss resulted from illegal voting or election rigging.” 81% of Republicans — according to the poll — still view Trump favorably while 35% of them think that the January 6 insurrectionists were just there to be “peaceful”, it’s the violent left who caused all the death and destruction.

Merrick Garland as AG scares every Republican because he’s what they’re not: honest and fair. They know — it’s why they slow walked his nomination and hearings — the moment AG Garland begins pulling threads on the massive Republican corruption sweater in front of him, it’s just a matter of how quickly the whole rest of the sweater simply falls apart. The dots absolutely will connect the Proud Boys’ planning to Roger Stone and then in to Trump’s White House. Russia also will tie in. How could they not? But, the Russia tie-ins will take time. While we don’t know for certain that Merrick Garland re-started the counter-intelligence probes into Trump’s relationship with Russia that fill in AG Rod Rosenstein ended, we can make an informed guess that he did. .

The Republican Party has worked overtime to deny any connections between themselves and Russia though they all seem to have relationships with Russia. Plenty of Republicans received Russian money into their campaign coffers through various means including Russian retirees who receive monthly pensions from the Russian government — pensions that were plumped up by Mother Russia during the campaign. Or, more famously, lots of Republicans received cash from the NRA which, itself, had already been seduced by “Russian gun rights advocate” Maria Buttina. Know what they call a Russian “gun rights advocate” in Russia — especially one with her hooks deeply set into the NRA’s soft, white flesh? A spy. A good one, too. Working for Russia.

The GOP has known who Trump was all along.

This, for them is a literal death match. They have nothing to lose. Because our news media failed to disabuse Republicans of their dishonesty — granting even blatant lies as “one side (theirs) of the story” — a chunk of the country thinks Trump is a victim here rather than THE criminal. At the end of the day, we WILL make that stick. Russia will be a huge part of how we understand the Trump years: Russia took over America. It is damned tempting, I admit, to nail Trump and every single Republican for betraying us during a time of cyber war.

But, we must act much faster than that will take. We desperately need to move now to mitigate Trump and the GOP’s betrayal. Fortunately, these same pirates left us multiple openings.

The Democratic Congresspeople who joined the civil suit against Trump — citing his actions and speech of January 6 as clear incitements to attack — will put Trump into a corner. He can’t negotiate his way out of this; he can’t settle. He’ll have to go through the “discovery” process — under oath. For Trump, just being “under oath” is filled with very real peril. He’s a walking-talking “perjury trap”. This could work well! But, there’s yet another story angle here with even less politics to it: Trump’s blatantly terrible handling of America’s Pandemic Response.

Team Trump didn’t just “get it wrong”. They didn’t just “plan badly” or underperform. In a sense, Team Trump over-performed, planned perfectly and got it absolutely right — from Russia’s point of view. If I’m wondering this, it’s a dead certainty others are wondering it too: how connected were Trump’s criminally inept pandemic responses and the idea that a nation sickened by a pandemic would be easier to roll over in a soft coup d’etat than a healthy population?

There will, no doubt, be layer upon layer of Trumpian criminality including in Trump’s response to the pandemic: hundreds of thousands of Americans are now dead because of Trump’s actions. As encouraging as the story’s trendline is, We The People need a little concrete beneath our feet. We need the punishment phase to become as real as the crime phase.

I Grew Up In The Shadow Of The Holocaust And I Feel That Shadow Growing

One of the first big lessons that stuck in my head as a child — the biggest up to that point being toilet training — was that I was hated because of what I was — a Jew. That’s a strange thing to teach a little kid without an enemy in the world. But, when I was growing up, in the early 1960’s (I was born in 1959), not twenty years since the camps had been liberated, the full weight of what had been done to us (not just by Germany but also by anti-Semites all over Europe) was only just beginning to dawn and make itself felt. In Baltimore — where my surgeon dad was did his residency and began his practice, and where I grew up — Jews began emigrating toward the suburbs, most settling in and around an enclave northwest of Baltimore called Pikesville. Before long, clever Anti-Semites turned that into “kikesville”). My affluent, comfortable, semi-assimilated upper middle class Jewish community could live with name-calling.

Pikesville was so predominantly Jewish — ditto its public schools — that even the handful of non-Jewish kids took all the Jewish holidays off because they knew the schools would be virtually empty. We had a really great tennis team but a really terrible football team that, wouldn’t ya know it, all the other teams loved to beat the crap out of.

American culture was still celebrating having won WWII. There were prime time TV shows about it like “Combat” and “Hogan’s Heroes”.

My culture also celebrated. It felt good not being extinct. And some of us wondered aloud: if not for Hitler’s homicidal madness, would the state of Israel have existed?

You might think growing up in a place so culturally Jewish would shield one from the Holocaust’s awfulness. You might think such an awful memory — so close in our rear view mirror — would have horrified my community into a stone cold refusal to discuss it. We went completely in the other direction. I wouldn’t say we “embraced” the Holocaust so much as we “owned it”. The end of WWII — the end of the Holocaust — didn’t end anti-Semitism the same way the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t actually end slavery.

As my community tends to do, we turned what happened to us into a teachable moment. There were some essential lessons still to be learned. There’s a famous photo of a group of Jews being rounded up in the Warsaw Ghetto by the occupying Nazis –

From the first time I saw the photo, I became that boy in the lower right. I bet a lot of Jews my age did.  We saw and felt that boy’s terror, his helplessness.  His confusion: how can they be doing this to you just because you were born Jewish?  You’ve done nothing wrong to anyone on the planet – yet the planet wants you dead. 

“Never Again” became as integral a part of my “religious education” as chanting the ‘Shema’.  The past hurt.  That was not going to be our future. 

In our guts, my community has always known this was lurking somewhere in the American Character. Turns out, the Nazis were admirers of how racists in America codified and amplified their racism. The Nazi’s method of industrialized murder found significant inspiration in America’s brand of Christo-fascism: slavery

You can’t cram peoples’ heads with tons of bullshit and not expect the bullshit to screw them up. Bullshit always screws people up – cos it’s bullshit. When you cram nonsensical, logic-free, hateful mythology into peoples’ heads while telling them it’s truth, it screws them up. It’s worse when the logic-free, hateful mythology also runs counter to your religion’s core message (and its core messenger).

It sucks being despised because of a total fiction. It sucks worse being murdered because of it. But that’s what’s coming to America: death & destruction because bullshit.

In fact, “death & destruction because bullshit” is the Republican Party’s entire strategy going forwards.

Matt Gaetz Epitomizes A Political Party That Long Ago Turned Into A Frat Party

Go to any large American college or university campus and it’s understood — frat row is where the partying is taken most seriously. Movies like Animal House where debauched frat parties make Roman orgies look tame didn’t come from nowhere. Frat parties are really that debauched. Any time you let male culture run riot — that’s what a fraternity is — pure, unadulterated male culture — there’s enormous potential for bad things to happen. Sports (up until now) have been an extension of male culture — of a men’s locker room into the world at large. The only difference between a frat party and a men’s locker room is beer and clothing. The operating principle is the same: the alphas in the room will set the agenda, the betas will make it happen. If the alphas want someone to laugh at the dumb joke they just made, the betas will guffaw way too long and loudly. If they want someone to witness and approve of an act of bullying, the betas will hold their beer while it’s happening. Male culture, feeding on itself, pushed to its extremes, never suffers from an overabundance of sympathy. It celebrates conquest and cruelty and getting away with it all. It’s the “getting away with it” that truly sets male culture apart.

Male culture expects to “get away with” whatever it’s doing — because it pretty much always has. In male culture’s defense, it’s not entirely its fault. It really is not physically capable of thinking “the right way”.

It’s just a fact of biology that the male brain develops differently from the female brain. Research data is consistent: in general, based on brain function, males tend to excel at motor skills, while women tend to excel at integrating analysis and intuitive thinking. That doesn’t “just happen”. The brain structures that cause this to happen develop during adolescence with female brains developing those essential structures far, far earlier. That’s why adolescent boys regularly do things that seem inexplicably stupid. When asked to explain WHY they drove their bike into a wall or jumped off the roof or got someone pregnant, they can’t tell you why. They honestly don’t know; they really did it “just because” — because they’re an adolescent male and they literally do not yet have the brain structure that would make them stop first to THINK.

Frat parties are the way they are because they’re the feral male mind manifested in reality. The rapiness of the environment isn’t a bug — it’s a feature. And frat parties don’t have to be literal frat parties. The party where SCOTUS Judge Brett Kavanaugh raped Christine Blasey Ford wasn’t a literal frat party but it might as well have been. Frat culture — male culture — was flowing like beer from a keg. If rapists thought they’d get caught every time they raped someone, that fact alone would probably shut most of them down. Their urge to NOT go to prison is more powerful than their urge to rape. That is how the stick works relative to the carrot.

Matt’s fellow Republicans knew some of what Matt was up to. Hell, the investigation into Matt started while Bill Barr still ran the DoJ. The DoJ, apparently, stumbled over text messages incriminating Matt while investigating some pretty egregious shit that Matt’s buddy, Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg was up to. Barr not only approved of the investigation into Matt Gaetz’s role, he thereafter refused to ever be seen in the same place as Gaetz because Gaetz, Barr knew, was that dirty, that corrupt — and that likely to go down in flames. When even Bill Barr refuses to associate with you, your scumbag bona fides will beat anyone else’s hands down.

What gives a young male the notion that he can buy girls, transport them over state lines and have sex with them — all while communicating these illegal acts in ways that are easy to get ahold of? Answer — a culture that’s never punished him for doing the same shit in the past. So far, no one’s accusing Matt Gaetz of rape-rape, just statutory rape. It doesn’t matter how willing Matt’s seventeen year old hook up was, SHE’S SEVENTEEN. He was in his mid-30’s. End of story.

In the case of Matt’s young victim, she wasn’t mature enough to make good decisions (clearly). Matt wanted what he wanted and he made it happen, the law, common sense and his integrity be damned. Matt did not think for two seconds there would be consequences. That’s why he felt empowered. It’s the exact same empowerment the Republican Party feels every time one of their members does something for which they know there should be consequences but never have been. When you get it into your head that celebrating treason is okay — that’s what waving a Confederate flag is — it’s just a short hop to taking that celebration further into, say, sedition or insurrection. When Trump’s mob marched on the Capitol on January 6, they fully expected not to be punished but to be celebrated. As the crowd grew increasingly drunk on racism, hate, bigotry and power lust, they took on a frat party dynamic. The alphas were all up to something. The betas were there to guffaw when told to.

It’s time to end this party — the frat party and the political party masquerading as a frat party.

Yeah, It’s A “Small, Small World” All Right…

This week put the icing on the cake we’ve been forced to eat the whole last year. However the coronavirus that causes covid19 got from wherever it originated out into the human population, the transmission that resulted in the pandemic likely started with one person and then spread from there. While we’re now shoulders-deep in variants, they’re all variants of a variant of a variant going back to that first viral load as it immigrated into its human host and began reproducing — using human beings like cheap, edge-of-town, sex motels. We don’t have to know the person who infects us with virus. But the virus bonds us nonetheless. Small world, right? When the container ship Ever Given got wedged across the Suez Canal, that world got even smaller. It isn’t just disease that connects us (good thing!), it’s the very fact of a human being on one part of the planet wanting something that another human on the far side of the planet can procure — and ship (via ship) directly TO that first human. Interrupt that link and we feel it like a punch to the gut.

Computers did not “change” a thing when they were invented — not in a “revolutionary” way. They made various disconnected tasks easier. You could do more work faster. But the work product from a word processing program still had to be printed out and physically handed to someone in order for them to read it. If they didn’t live nearby, you had to pay postage to get it to them. It was no more than a glorified typewriter. The same went for proprietary design software used to create anything visual — the physical product had to be physically produced in order to be shared. But, when you connect computers via an internet, THAT changes things. The internet made the personal computer (and then the smart phone) true instruments of change. The capacity to communicate instantaneously with people anywhere in the world — that’s revolutionary. The capacity to share fully realized ideas be they in the form of words, visuals, sound or video — to move information that rapidly — that was the change agent.

For all its disruption, the worldwide pandemic has already begun to change the world economically just as the Black Death changed the economic structure of Medieval Europe parts of which suffered staggering mortality rates. The remaining people still had to eat. Someone had to grow those crops and farm them and then get them to market. Whereas before the plague, the peasants worked the fields their masters owned, essentially slaves, after the plague, those fields went unplowed unless the masters ponied up cash money to get them plowed. Labor — now in short supply — suddenly had value it had never had before. The master was no longer master in the same way because now the master had to negotiate with the worker in order to get the necessary work done. The worker could always refuse to work — and take their labor elsewhere. That’s what killed feudalism. It also resulted in the rise of the gilds in Europe and, eventually, unionized labor.

What the Republican Party in Georgia did this week also fits into the “small world” mold. Except the GOP is making their world smaller in exactly the opposite way. Whereas the coronavirus and the Suez Canal demonstrate how connected we all are, the Georgia Republican Party wants to believe they are an island. That is, they want to live on an island — a very white island where everyone looks and acts just like them. In the pantheon of “small worlds”, THAT small world might just be the smallest ever.

Let’s be real: we are watching the Republican Party’s death rattle. Just as Virginia went from being the reddest of red states (it’s now solidly blue and Democratic), so, too, will Georgia. Georgia’s Republican Party is about to experience outrage like they never imagined as the citizens of Georgia begin to reel from the boycotts coming their way because NO ONE outside of Georgia now wants to patronize businesses that give money to authoritarian insurrectionists. It’s just how we are. The world for Georgia’s Republicans is about to get shockingly small as they begin to actually feel the white hot rage that other Americans feel — in real time no less!

We’re about to see what happens when the smallest of people experience the smallest of worlds.

Hi, My Name’s America And I’m A Racist

The first step before you can begin any 12-step program is to recognize that you have a problem. Speaking from experience — I never ever thought of myself as “an alcoholic” though I abused alcohol exactly like one. Often, we are the worst judges of our failings, being so close to them, as we are. But, if we want to conquer our weaknesses — if they’re holding us back from the lives we want to lead — we can’t conquer shit if we don’t own up to the fact that we have those weakness to begin with. Look, racism (like beauty) is entirely in the eye of the beholder. Just as beautiful people can’t really judge their beauty, neither can racists judge their racism. Whether or not someone thinks they’re attractive or not is one thing — the worst thing most beautiful people are guilty of is self-adoration. Whether or not they’re racist is entirely different. When racists act on their racist impulses, the subject or subjects of their racism often get hurt or killed. Racists are all time bombs unaware that that’s what they are.

Eight people, six of them Asian women, are dead today in Atlanta. Eleven Jews were murdered, six wounded at the Tree Of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018 (the shooter wanted “all Jews to die”). There’s a whole freakin’ LIST of church shootings — that’s Black churches or Muslim houses of worship being shot up by angry white guys like Dylan Roof. A nominee for president began his presidential campaign by telling the world “Mexicans are rapists”. Almost every bit of Republican opposition to Barack Obama started with his skin color. The British royal family (well, Prince Charles, most likely) worried aloud that they feared “their blood” might appear “tainted” should the color of Meghan and Harry’s kid be thought “too dark”; what on earth makes ANYONE think any royal’s bloodline is superior to any other human’s? That’s bullshit — on steroids. I know it ain’t America’s racist problem, but it flows from the very same poisonous well of racism.

I drank to excess because I had anger issues that I mistakenly thought alcohol was “helping me” with. I was wrong. Radicalized white Americans (men mostly) think their racist attitudes are helping them. They think America should be some sort of “white homeland”. No, that would be Europe. America WAS a “homeland” — but not to anyone white. Racists are like a virus — infecting things and taking them over, converting that thing into them. And just as viruses are harder to kill than, say, bacteria (penicillin is useless against viruses), diminishing the impact racism has (and anti-Semitism and misogyny and bigotry of every stripe) will require not only vigilance but persistence.

America was born a racist. “All men are created equal” did not mean “all men”. It certainly didn’t mean all humans. C’mon, America — say it out loud. The Truth will absolutely set us free: We’re America and we are RACIST!

It Ain’t Black People That Need To “Get Over Slavery”, It’s The White People Who Keep Trying To Bring It Back!

Slavery is a terrible thing on every conceivable level. Its persistence is a permanent stain on humanity (and it’s lack of same). But, let’s be clear, it does persist. The desire of one group of people to enslave another group of people in this country did not end with the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. Let’s be equally clear about what slavery is in its most literal sense: stolen labor. That’s the whole point of enslaving another human (or an animal for that matter): to get their labor for free (minus the cost of housing, feeding and — if they’re a human — clothing them). If the numbers pencil out, the slave’s free labor is worth far, far more than the costs of keeping them in squalor. The southern colonies (before they became states) grew three cash crops — rice, sugar and cotton. Prior to industrialized farming, all three needed massive amounts of laborers to get them from field to marketplace. Capitalism preaches minimizing costs to maximize profit — if one of those minimized costs can be labor, well, you see where this went. The southern states institutionalized slavery (and some still justify this!) because otherwise, they couldn’t have afforded to be in business.

Profit over people is what motivates slavery. If money in your pocket means more than your humanity — for instance, how exactly that money got into your pocket — then slavery becomes acceptable in whatever form it takes, even if it isn’t literal slavery. In this country, we used to have “company towns” where a big corporation would employ pretty much everyone around. They’d use that fact to create an economic bubble where most of their employees couldn’t really afford to leave, couldn’t really afford to complain (or ask for a raise) and couldn’t really afford to even question anything. Voila — the modern slave. It all comes from underpaying people for their labor. A minimum wage of $7.25 is as close to the slavery bone as one could cut it. A person working a 40 hour week at the minimum wage will clear just a bit over $15,000 over the course of a year. Working a 40 hour work week. Hey — if they’re a restaurant worker — supposedly getting tipped — they only get $2/hour because the public is meant to make up the difference in their wages.

Slavery by any other name is still slavery. The objective is still the same. It starts with the pocketbook and goes on from there.

Take note of those objecting to raising the federal minimum wage to $15. Now, to (try to) be fair, it would be a hardship in many rural areas for small businesses to pay $15/hour. If we were to jump immediately to an across-the-country minimum of $15/hour, about one and a half million people would lose their jobs today. But — and here’s the part where we have to think a little more Big Picture (and there are ways to mitigate the job losses those million and a half rural Americans will suffer including UBI!) — on the other side of that hardship to one group of people is tremendous benefit for an overwhelming majority of Americans whose economic situations will all rise exponentially. In a very short time, even the million-and-a-half who lost their jobs initially would be swept up into the rising tide. And — if we had been compensating them via universal basic income until that happened, they, too, would benefit more quickly and to greater long term effect.

Greed inspires the shortest of short term thinking. All one can see is one’s own bank account, one’s own creature comforts, one’s own economic future. It’s a survival instinct. Same as tribalism. But the trick in living as successful social animals is to learn (and it’s not easy) to moderate these instincts appropriately — to deny them entirely when they’re counter-productive. Those instincts are all quite malleable. We can learn to compromise. But compromise can only happen between equally honest actors. If one side is using a compromise to gain an advantage then, in time, all compromise will break down because it’s all game-playing. One has to look at the Bigger Picture and be willing to sacrifice a little to get a lot.

Sounds hard to teach, I know. But it’s not.

If we began to teach kids civic pride (as opposed to blind nationalism) from the get-go (as some countries do!), we can raise more conscientious humans and Americans. Of course, we’ll have to divorce ourselves from the fiction of “the rugged individualist” who “alone can fix it!” That is pure, unadulterated, self-satisfied, only-white-people-could-possibly-imagine-it, Libertarian twaddle. The fact is, it takes a village to do anything successfully beginning with child-rearing. And the more diverse that village is, the more dynamic the child-rearing and everything the village does will be. Diversity is what makes America exceptional. It ain’t white people and their money — scheming ways to pay their diverse work force slave wages.

It’s the fact that slavery is stolen labor that makes reparations necessary. The entire Confederate economy was built on stolen labor — and that labor still needs to be paid for somehow. It just does. Thieves should NEVER get away with their thievery — especially when those thieves wear the mantle of power. To not compensate every descendant of slavery for the wealth stolen from their families would be to perpetuate the crime committed against them! But, hey — that’s only if we want to be “fair”. And slavers couldn’t give a rat’s ass about “fair”. They’re focused on “the bottom line”.

Profits over people. We know where this leads and we do not want to be here. Good thing there’s still time to get out of this vile, racist rabbit hole. Repeat — it ain’t Black people who need to get over slavery; they can’t “get over it” fast enough and get on with living the happy, successful, productive lives they’re entitled to live. It’s white people who keep the idea of slavery alive because that’s the America they want — the America where slavery kept everyone NOT white in their place. And it guaranteed to keep them there because no one could ever afford to escape from it.

Look At It From The GOP’s Point Of View — You’d Cheat Too If All You Had To Sell In The Marketplace Of Ideas Was A Turd

To compete in a democracy, you have to sell your idea of how we should self-govern better than the other guy is. It helps a lot if your ideas are empirically better, too. That’s the case with the Democrats. Their ideas indicate that, unlike Republicans, Democrats still care about democracy. They still care about governing the best way they can so that more Americans can benefit from being American and living in America. Republicans do not want to live in a representative democracy any more. A lot of them never did care for this form of government, being royalists and authoritarians at heart. In theory anyway, Democracy is easy: each person above the age of 18 (though perhaps we should make it 16 for a thousand good reasons) get one vote. Come election day, they show up at the polls and cast their vote however they like. Period. End of story. No one’s vote is better than anyone else’s vote. They all carry equal weight. At least, that’s how it should be. But, from a Republican’s point of view, that means that a Black person’s vote has equal weight to their vote which means all hell has broken loose because, to a Republican, a Black person shouldn’t be voting in the first place.

Donald Trump keeps saying the quiet stuff out loud. For instance: “If everybody voted, Republicans would never win another election!” Want to know why Republicans will never enthuse over expanded voting rights? To them, that’d be like enthusing over your own extinction. The Republican voting base is not going to grow beyond angry white men and the women who cling to them. If Republicans really wanted to talk to people outside their base, they’d have to change their act completely. Just as well they don’t.

Republicans and republicanism favor profits over people. Progressives, by contrast, favor people over profits. We’ll leave money on the table and not beat ourselves up over it. Republicans, by contrast, can’t help being pigs at a trough, snarfing down everything they can get into their mouths. From a Republican perspective, actual human beings are the cash out in a business proposition. Every penny spent on a human or some human benefit is a penny less profit. And, if profit’s the name of the game…

What do conservatives really want to conserve? I know what Progressives want to progress toward — the future. I know Progressives want the best possible opportunities for the most possible people because that will renew and re-energize our politics and our culture. Conservatives don’t want to conserve the future, of course, because it doesn’t exist yet; in fact, conservatives want to avoid the future if at all possible. Instead, conservatives want to conserve all of the past that’s still locked into the present. If they could have their way, they’d take America back to the past — back to, what’s to them, a “Golden Age For White People”. Well, for white, Christian men and the women they’ve bamboozled into servicing them.

The reason conservatives don’t want to raise the federal minimum wage above $7.25? Frankly, if there was a way to bring back slavery, they’d do it. Slavery, after all, is stolen labor. Slaves don’t get paid for their work. The cost to house, clothe and feed them is the cost of a slave. So long as the slave’s work product is worth more than what it costs to keep them? Slavery’s profitable from the slaver’s point of view. Paying people the federal minimum wage keeps them permanently poor. No one can afford to pay any sort of decent rent if they work one minimum wage job for eight hours a day. They can barely afford to feed, clothe and transport themselves from wherever they’re bedding down to the minimum wage hell hole where they work.

As with 2020, the Republican Party has given up on selling ideas or policies. They simply sell hatred of the other now. Vote for the GOP because you hate people who don’t look like you.

As political advertising goes, that might get your base all fired up, but there aren’t enough boys in the bund to make this brand of Republicans anything other than a fringe regional party catering to the fringiest elements of Red America. After Merrick Garland gets through trying all the insurrectionists and then gets through with pulling threads on the corrupt Republican sweater, Republicans will pose even less of a threat because so many will have had to step down from their offices to deal with the very real legal peril facing them. Let’s remember — the Republican leadership KNEW a month before the made Donald Trump their presidential nominee in 2016 that he was corrupt and compromised by Russia.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays,” said current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy as he walked into a meeting of the Republican leadership a month before their convention in 2016, “Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” Then Leader Of The House Paul Ryan cautioned Kevin not to get too crazy about it. Paul wasn’t saying, “No, no, Kevin — you must be wrong! A man as honorable as Donald Trump would never let himself be compromised in such a way!” On the contrary, Paul was saying (literally) “Let’s keep this in the family!” Keep the fact that the man they were about to nominate for President of the United States was COMPROMISED by a hostile foreign power who’ve expressed the desire previously to wage cyber war against us. A roomful of Republican leaders agreed with Paul Ryan — and kept the secret a secret that they knew/suspected that their soon-to-be presidential nominee was likely OWNED OUTRIGHT by a hostile foreign government.

Republicans know they can’t sell what they’re pitching to American voters unless those voters are already hard core racists. That’s why they’ve resorted to gerrymandering, voter suppression and treason. That’s why they’ve resorted to cheating in every way they can think of. How else is any Republican going to get elected?