A Constituency Of One

“I alone can fix it” was a tell. For starters, it ain’t true. No one alone can fix anything. Donald Trump with an army of followers couldn’t fix a damned thing though, all credit to him, he and his army of trolls came damned close to “fixing” our democracy for good (and the bastards are still at it!) Trump walked in the door compromised (as everyone who was anyone in the GOP’s leadership knew even before they made Trump their presidential nominee in 2016. “There’s two people I think Putin pays,” said current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy as he entered a room filled with GOP leadership a month before they made Trump their official nominee for POTUS in 2016, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!. The evangelical community forgave Trump — a man guilty of literally every mortal sin — because they saw a man as cravenly cynical as they are. The Right Wing money (the Kochs, the Mercers, Sheldon Adelstein and the lesser I Pillow acolytes) saw their last shot at installing a state of permanent minority rule under Trump’s tin pot authoritarianism — a country Trump indeed “fixed” (though not alone) — all in service of his true constituency, himself — his Constituency Of One.

What is this madness? Where does this mania — this conviction that one person is the sun, the moon, the stars, the alpha, the omega and everything in between — come from? It sure as hell doesn’t come from reality. And it sure as hell isn’t healthy (our current situation being the data set). Some people, to this day, ache to be ruled by a king chosen by God. By “God”, they mean the stern, unsmiling, unforgiving (except of them) voice in their head. Religious fervency is as big a tell as “I alone can fix it”. Scratch the surface of your average religious fanatic and you’ll realize: they don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God — that’s why God speaks through THEM. That’s why THEY understand God while almost no one else does. That’s why it’s incumbent on THEM to do God’s bidding here on Earth. If not them, who?

Manifest Destiny was this idea taken to its most horrible extreme. White people doing God’s bidding because (really) white people think they’re God. Bringing God and Jesus to the ignorant, unwashed natives whether they liked it or not. One person’s “enlightenment” is another person’s genocide.

A constituency of many probably wouldn’t go there. A diverse constituency definitely wouldn’t. A diverse constituency dedicated to the well-being of every part of it? It’d be an absolute impossibility. What that means is, the further away we can get from a constituency of one, the healthier we get collectively and personally.

Donald Trump epitomizes white, male greed. He’s unapologetically piggish. That’s why so many white men love him: he’s the alpha pig they wish they could be. They, too, wish they could have a constituency of one the way Trump does. Trump can do or say anything — and get away with it! They believe that if Trump is president forever, they, too, can get away with everything forever. They can get away with unspeakable greed but also unspeakable hatred. “Cancel Culture” is white peoples’ code for “Whattaya mean I can’t call Black people the “N-word”, Jews the “K-word” and everyone else whatever the most insulting ethnic reference is — that’s how I feel about them!’.

Libertarianism thinks “freedom” means “you’re not the boss of me”. What it really means is “no woman can ever be the boss of me”, “no Black person can ever be the boss of me” and “no Jew can ever be the boss of me”. Other white guys? They’ll make an exception. Libertarians want all the benefits of freedom but they don’t want to take any of the responsibilities that do come with those benefits. They want to be able to preach “do unto others” while raping and pillaging relentlessly. It all goes to serving the needs of the one, screw the many.

Personally, I blame monotheism. This absurd, fictitious concentration of all the world’s purpose and knowledge into one “mind”, alternately deeply mysterious yet just knowable enough to know what the deity hates. When such an all-powerful, all-knowing thing smiles upon you, who are you to deny that smile? Want to know who God is? Stand before your bathroom mirror and really look yourself in the eyes. Voila! You’re looking right into the eyes of God. Are you underwhelmed or overwhelmed by that?

How shall we measure success as a culture? Surely, you can’t look at where we are — so much wealth yet so much poverty, sometimes pretty much right in the same place — and think we’ve done something special here. The happiest countries on earth just so happen to be the most socialized, too. Yes, the citizens of those countries pay more in taxes but they, they GET more — and expect more. America is about to get a big taste of how effective UBI (universal basic income) is at getting an economy back up onto its feet — and keeping it there. A consumer economy like ours relies on as many consumers as possible having as much money as possible in their pockets. The more those consumers spend, on goods and services provided by other consumers, the healthier the economy will become because all that consumption will create even more demand for still more goods and services. Success will breed more success.

It works. There’s data that says so whereas with “trickle down” economics, there isn’t any such data. There’s just the guy at the top saying trickle down works while he trickles down nothing but waste products.

A constituency of one strikes again.

Donald Trump will learn the hard way where a constituency of one leads. So will every Republican who co-conspired with him. Don’t think so? Let’s revisit a few months from now, AFTER Merrick Garland’s been at the newly refurbished Department of Justice for a while. No one wants Garland to do anything other than enforce the rule of law equally. If that’s ALL he does, if justice for its own sake motivates him then once he pulls the first thread of the January 6 conspiracy to commit insurrection, he won’t stop until the entire garment is gone. The insurrection threads will lead right to Donald Trump. But then, so will all the Russia threads that Merrick Garland’s team will begin tugging on. At the end of the day, everything about Donald Trump’s corrupt tenure in the White House will lead to Russia one way or another.

Russia, Russia, RUSSIA. Take that to the bank and prepare to be the richest person you know.

There are few things more dangerous to the group than a member who only sees a constituency of one. That person does not see the group except as an impediment to them getting what they want. It’s a damnably male behavior, an outgrowth of having a “squirt ‘n go’ sexuality. The human male at his sexual peak is designed to spread his seed as many places as possible with little regard for what happens after he’s spread that seed. A woman doesn’t have that luxury. Any time a male squirts inside of her and goes — especially if she’s fertile (and even if she’s on birth control) — there’s the possibility that a child will result. As the excellent Gabrielle Blair has written on Twitter, women can orgasm without causing reproduction to possibly occur. Men, can’t. All the pregnancy risk literally comes from men.

A woman would never say “I alone can fix it” because women know biochemically that it’s bullshit. One could certainly try to bear and raise a child on on one’s own but it’s almost certainly doomed to fail. As Hillary Clinton pointed out, it does “take a village” to raise a child. For starters, it’s just way easier to have help birthing a baby — then keeping both baby and mother fed in the baby’s first days. It takes a village to educate a child and coach it through soccer or gym practices. Women can tell you that anything of value demands a village’s input.

American diversity is proof positive of what a village can do when it works together, benefitting from all the knowledge all that diversity organically brings. That IS American Exceptionalism — the fact of our diversity and its output. Hell, we even put the idea of diversity’s benefits on our Great Seal: E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. That’s the only “one” here that has a shot at fixing anything — the one that is the sum of us, not the relentlessly egomaniacal neuroses of the hopelessly deluded, mediocre-to-its-core one of us.

Success relies on many people working together. Failure really can flow from one person. Hell, the Coronavirus Pandemic started with ONE PERSON. Though a Hitler or a Pol Pot or a Donald Trump rely on the madness of crowds to do their dirtiest work, it still begins with that one person’s ability to bamboozle other people into thinking they’re special — anointed by the divine, in fact. Surely a deity clever enough to create literally everything wouldn’t be this painfully neurotic about one of his creations (even if it is his “favorite”). Surely, such a powerful creature wouldn’t lose his mind just because one of his creations either doesn’t “believe in him” or “sanctify him” to his liking. Seriously, what kind of third-rate deity is that?

That, too, is the end product of any “constituency of one”: mediocrity. Gods can’t be judged since there’s no one up to the task. That means a god can get away with anything — as gods do.

Or did…

Trump’s constituency of one is about to crash into the Will Of The People and its constituency. Each greedy Republican — and their “constituency of one” — also will crash and burn. In their darkest moments, I sure hope the words “I alone can fix it!” flashes across their minds, suffusing their anguish with a self-loathing glow. Slowly, but surely, each and every Trumpian or Republican constituency of one will morph into a constituency of done.

Republicans Don’t See America As A “Work Horse”, They See Us As A “Work HOUSE”

Imagine thinking that — after almost a year of being economically slammed by a pandemic made exponentially worse by their own political cravenness — Americans would be mollified by a check for $600. Wow. That’s some cynical thinking from a bunch of pirates who’ve ripped off OUR TAX DOLLARS to fatten the bank accounts of their cronies while denying We The People those same — desperately needed — bucks. Which are OURS to begin with. This is who the Republican Party is. Putting aside, for the moment, just how TREASONOUS they are, if sanctimony was a crime, Republicans would be even more guilty of that.

It’s a stone cold fact — conservatism lacks largesse because it cynically expects the very worst from people. It doesn’t see “America: The work horse”, it sees “America: the work HOUSE”. Work is not aspiratioinal; it’s punishment for being poor because, “clearly”, God wanted you to be poor; all they’re doing is carrying out God’s wishes.

In their eyes, this is what we look like…

We’re Oliver Twist — and the hunger has crossed the line…

You can almost hear our plaintive voice — “Please, sir, I’d like some more…”.

Good thing (for the Republicans) that THIS is how they see themselves — as Mr. Bumble!

And Mr. Bumble — upstanding Christian that he is — knows how to deal with the likes of us!

Republicans, detesters of regulation, don’t want child labor laws. They hate unions because unions empower workers. They hate when government forces fairness upon them. It all stems from their “faith” — or what they insist is their “faith in God”. Not a one of them believes IN God, they believe they ARE God. How else shall we take it when a person insists that they understand better than anyone else what the imaginary voice in their head says and means? That conversation is taking place in a completely closed environment. No deity is looking in or taking part. Correction — there is a deity taking part: the believer and their belief that they are God — telling this particular human what to do.

Americans are now suffering deprivations as never before. The economy is teetering for lack of cash when plenty of cash is available. Republicans — wedded to a bizarre, white nationalist Christianity that preaches “Do what we say” instead of “Do unto others” — see their own existential crisis in every American’s survival if that survival came from government money. The idea of Universal Basic Income horrifies Republicans even more than “socialized medicine” does. If Americans realized that UBI was 1) possible, 2) beneficial not just to those Americans receiving the UBI but to all Americans, and 3) something we’re idiotic not to do forever starting right here, right now, they’d want it.

Having UBI would mean that people didn’t have to leap at the first job offered them — despite the fact that it pays minimum wage (when they need far more) and doesn’t call on a single one of their skill sets. In places where they’ve experimented with UBI, the results have been almost uniformly good. Knowing their basic bills are paid (and, with a universal single payer system in place, that their health CARE is being provided for too) allows people to wait for a job better suited to them so that they can be more productive. The data shows — that’s what happens. People DON’T incur debt while paying their bills (or incur less debt and manage it better). They don’t hoard the money, they spend it — feeding the economy where it needs feeding most: down at the street level.

American Exceptionalism is a very real thing. That’s why people have always come to America — to have a chance at being part of that exceptionalism. What makes their product exceptional isn’t the money that pays them, it’s their very diversity as they walk in the door. America has always benefited from the rest of the world’s collected wisdom especially when we’ve made it our own. We understand the deal here: come, work your ass off — make something of yourself that you want to make of you. Then use that “improved version of you” to make America even better.

We are on the verge of escaping the Republican Party’s “Work House America”. They will do everything in their power to stop that from happening.

The Russian guy who owns the Work House is going to insist, I’m afraid…

Above All, The Whole Point Of Slavery Is Stolen Labor

At its bottom line, slavery steals labor. That is, it refuses to PAY FOR labor, choosing to TAKE IT from the laborer instead. Yeah, sure — the slaver may have to feed, clothe and house his slaves, but these are all just the “costs of doing business”. At the end of the (working) day, the slaver’s savings on labor will far, far outweigh any hard costs of keeping his slaves. The proof? Slavery proliferated in America.

Two crops grew in the American south that made slavery especially “attractive” to cost-conscious Southern farmers: sugar cane and cotton. Prior to mechanization, both were unusually labor-intensive. If cotton plantations had had to pay a living wage to its workers — instead of stealing their slaves’ labor — they would, in theory, never have become successful. Or, economic success would have been harder to achieve and maintain. That’s from a white, monied perspective.

From the perspective of the person taken from their home and homeland and shipped halfway across the globe to forcibly pick a stranger’s cotton for twelve hours a day for literally no money? This is monstrous. It’s criminal. It’s deeply, irredeemably immoral.

Though formal slavery ended, we’ve always allowed an informal kind of slavery to exist here in America. Every time we give money more credence than human beings, we keep slavery alive. Same token? Every time we, as consumers, go hunting for a cheap pair of socks? We’re doing the exact same thing.

The whole point of moving production from, say, America to, say, Bangladesh is because the laws in Bangladesh allow companies to treat and pay their employees even more poorly than here in America. In some places, literal slave or prison labor makes the goods we buy. Why doesn’t that disturb America to its core? Because America still empowers slavery. We still give slavery a political voice via the Electoral College. The EC is literally slavery voting.

To be fair, America was a commercial enterprise first, an experiment in human self-government second. While the Pilgrims may be emigrated to these shores in search of “religious freedom, once here, they behaved as exploitatively as everyone else. They just justified their exploitation a little differently.

The fact that Mitch McConnell and the GOP don’t want to put money directly into Americans’ pockets — even as we all struggle under the crushing weight the pandemic has placed on our economy — is just the latest iteration of Republicans being slavery-minded. In Marxist thinking, “surplus value” is the value of work minus what it costs the worker to produce it. The question: who gets to profit from a worker’s “surplus value”? The worker or the the worker’s boss?

Of course, the fairest answer would be something both feel respects their input. It’s just a fact — conservatives value money way more than the human beings who actually did the work to create that money. Conservative thinking believes in the right (and might) of kings. If you’re rich, it’s because God wants you to BE rich. It’s just a fact: an awful lot of those theists actually believe THEY personally are God so, of course “God” wants them to “be rich”.

Conservative money despises the whole idea of Universal Basic Income because it would completely destroy slavery. If no one has to work for crap money — if UBI allows them to wait for work more suited to their temperament, skill set and future — as hard data already demonstrates, those people end up getting better jobs that pay better wages, give them greater financial security and — bonus points — causes them to PAY MORE IN TAXES BACK TO THE SYSTEM. Whereas trickle down hands money to rich people — in the hopes that they’ll buy things or pay people (how the trickle would eventually “get down”), UBI cash flows the economy from the bottom up.

What do people receiving UBI do with their money? Do they hoard it like banks do (or did after the 2008 bailout)? No — THEY SPEND IT: on their rent, on food, on clothing, on their education. On their children and families. The cash FLOWS INTO the economy at a local level which then floods the whole system with cash.

But, if — like a republican — down deep, you secretly long for the return of literal slavery — the idea of workers doing what they want (even if it makes everyone and everything more productive)? Apparently, that’s a bridge too far. It’s not head-scratchingly hard to figure out.

Look at the past. Listen to everything Republicans insist they want. Look at how hard Republicans have fought to enslave as many Americans as they can via economic hardship.

It’s not a coincidence. To every Republican, slavery isn’t just a blast from the past, it’s what Republicans want to have for breakfast every day. More to the point, slavery is what Republicans want every American to have for breakfast — every damned day.

America Has A Health INSURANCE System, Not A Health CARE System; They’re NOT The Same Thing

Repeat: America does not have a health CARE system. What we have is a health INSURANCE system. They are not the same thing. The first question we ask anyone who walks in the health system’s door isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” That’s deplorable. It’s disgusting. We are the only civilized country on earth where that happens. Correction — because that happens here? There is no way we can claim to be “civilized”. Civilized people don’t put profit incentive at the core of their health CARE system

It’s a testament to how thoroughly the insurance companies have bamboozled Americans that most Americans don’t even realize what they’re fighting for when they insist they want to keep the health insurance they have no matter what. Insurance companies don’t provide health care. They provide “GATEKEEPING” services. That’s it. Their job is to stand between us and our health care providers, deciding whether to let us see them or not. A “good health insurance plan” will let us see the health care providers we want — provided they’re “in-network”. A crap plan doesn’t cover anything so why bother figuring out which doctors you like; you aren’t seeing them regardless.

The health insurance companies — like for profit hospitals — are not in the business of curing patients so much as they are in the business of charging them maximum dollars for minimum services. For profit health insurance companies LOSE money every time they have to pay for an insured’s medical expenses. In their ideal world, everyone’s paranoid about their health — paying in — but incredibly healthy — requiring no paying out. Keep in mind, a publicly traded company has a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders, not to any “patients”. Patients (that cost money) and profits are mutually exclusive propositions.

That’s why Americans have to worry every time they get sick even IF they have decent insurance. The insurance might not cover what they need — and they won’t know about it or know how desperately they need it until it’s already happening. And that’s IF they have insurance. Without the insurance, they’d be completely at the system’s mercy — and our health insurance system has zero mercy.

How the hell did we get into this mess? To a degree, it started during WW Two. In order to direct as much money as possible to the war effort, we made it verboten for big companies to give good employees raises or to raise the salary being paid to new, skilled hires. Big companies still wanted to incentivize their best employees to stay or to motivate new, quality employees to hire on, so they started offering “hospital insurance”. The new hires seemed to like it.

In time, the war ended. So did the moratorium on raises. But, the employer-provided health insurance didn’t end. In fact, it became the “state of the art”. Though the logic behind employers providing their employees health INSURANCE (not the actual care) no longer held, the idea flourished. That was the beginning of our national health care nightmare.

While more big, medium and (now) smaller companies were forced to offer health INSURANCE to their employees, they didn’t have the ability or desire to administer the policies and their implementation. They turned to the newly burgeoning “health insurance business” to do that. The insurance companies, once empowered, were not going to give up that power easily — because that power (to decide what they’d pay for and what they wouldn’t) was the source of their money. The unions — as they should have — took full advantage of their negotiating power to carve out the best health insurance plans with the most coverage for the least out of pocket for their members. Of course they don’t want to lose that!

But even so — what the unions have isn’t the health CARE, it’s the commitment of the insurance company to cover more care. To be a “good gatekeeper” instead of a “mean one”. That is, after all, what insurance companies are: GATEKEEPERS — standing BETWEEN Americans and their actual health CARE. The reason some Americans got angry about Obamacare is because their gatekeepers refused to play along — and deliberately kept Americans from the health care providers they preferred.

I’ve joked here about the kind of health “care” coverage Republicans would create if they were honest about their intentions. I called it “TrumpCare Pick-An-Organ” because the concept was why insure organs that might never go bad on you? Why not gamble a little and save some money. You’ve got two lungs, two kidneys, two kinds of intestines — who needs it all? More to the point, who needs to waste money insuring it all? Why, nobody, of course! It went something like this…

Ask yourself — why are Republicans so opposed to universal health coverage — where every American, as their right, receives excellent health CARE. Who pays for it is never a question because WE DO. Through out tax dollars.

One of the problems Americans have with paying taxes is that we see all that money as wasted — like it was deliberately shoveled down a black hole. Throw waste atop that and the whole idea of paying taxes feels like theft. But, what if every citizen was given an itemized statement every year that showed to the penny where THEIR tax dollars went, what they were spent on and what they bought FOR that taxpayer.

We’d see clearly where our money was being wasted, for sure! But we also could point to things that our tax dollars bought for us — that we wanted — that our tax dollars could provide far more economically than via the private sector? Health CARE, for instance… Every other civilized country on earth does this more cheaply than we do and with far better outcomes.

That’s because socialized medicine is better medicine. Yes, profit incentive creates an environment conducive to innovation. One could get rich. But, in the health care environment, getting rich is counter productive. The need for profits and the need for good patient outcomes are not natural allies. In our insurance-based system, the profits always win out. The people almost always lose.

Or end up with medical bills that, ultimately, will kill them.

Universal single payer is the only answer. Personally, I’m with Bernie Sanders here — to keep the health insurance companies around is to invite abuse and just more stratification of services. Money will attract those more interested in greed than health care. The promise of health care is merely the bait in the “bait and switch”.

Don’t Blame Conservatives For Lacking Imagination — They’re Conservative BECAUSE They Lack Imagination

I call myself a “Progressive” (I prefer it to “liberal”) because “progress” perfectly describes how I think we, as a nation, should govern ourselves — always mindful of the future. Conservatives are equally descriptive of themselves. Their thought process pushes them to “conserve” rather than progress. Okay. Fair enough. But, conserve “what”? What is it conservatives feel compelled to “conserve”? It can’t be the future, of course — it doesn’t exist yet. That leaves the present and the past. THAT is what conservatives want to conserve.

Conservatism’s bottom line is to hold onto as much of the past in the present as they can. They know the future is unavoidable — they hate that. If there was a way to stop progressing completely, they’d probably do it. Anything to keep as much of the past alive as possible. Now, ask why?

Conservatism, in America, is the bastion of Male, Christian Whiteness. In the conservative mind, America reached a zenith of a kind during the 1950’s. Still basking in WWII’s triumphant afterglow, America — with Ike at the helm (not that “awful”, pointy-headed socialist Adlai Stevenson) — built highways instead of rail lines because Americans are all rugged individualists who want to go their own way! But, even that golden age of conservatism isn’t really what conservatives aspire to.

That would be the 1850’s.

Republicans love the Electoral College because, by design, it vastly overweighs rural, more conservative voters while vastly under-weighing urban, more progressive voters. The EC was stuck into the Constitution as an accommodation to slavery. It still speaks for slavery every time we try to elect a president. In 1850’s America, “We The People” still referred to White Men and no one else. THAT is the America conservatives wish had been conserved like dinosaur DNA in a Jurassic Park movie.

Conservatives wish they could — as in Jurassic Park — reconstitute the conservatism of old and let it run amok. Part of the “running amok” would involve snatching up progressives and snarfing em like they were popcorn and the movie just started. From the conservative dinosaur perspective, a world free of progressives is a world freed from the threat of new ideas and new ways of thinking. After the idea of black and brown people voting, nothing scares conservatives quite like new thinking.

Think of it this way: if you’re conservative and change threatens you, then anything that causes change also threatens you. That puts “innovation” and innovating things in the “threatening” stack. Innovation will always cause change — that’s the whole point of innovating things — to change them for the better. But if change is off the table then innovation also must be held in check.

If we were talking sexual urges instead of ideas, a conservative would suggest “a cold shower”. They’d never suggest you “rub one out” because — clearly — you need to. That would be admitting, first, that you HAD a sexual urge (that’s verboten). “Abstinence only education”, don’t forget, is a deeply conservative idea. So was “Just say no”, Nancy Reagan’s “Reality, WHAT reality?” answer to “the war on drugs”. I guess Nancy wanted US to have more fortitude where drugs were concerned than SHE apparently did in her youth (she was notoriously talented, in fact) where performing fellatio was concerned. Oh well, never mind — it’s always different when you’re a Republican.

“Just do as I say!” That’s how conservatives have twisted “Do unto others”. In their sanctimonious minds, they’re the saviors of America. They’re the saviors of THEIR America at best. And their America was never THE America. Their America isn’t the exceptional one, OURS is — you know — the diverse America that scares the crap out of White America.

When people are filled with hope, purpose and a strong sense of community, they think expansively. They want to deliver as much equality to as many people across the community as possible because the return on spreading equality far and wide is a stronger, more dynamic — more imaginative — democracy that’s constantly innovating to solve our problems. That’s the core problem with conservative solutions — they were created to solve old problems. While the problems have evolved, the conservative solutions HAVEN’T — and, consequently, end up solving NOTHING (while thinking it has; meanwhile the problem continues).

If all you see in the future is problems, you’ll never see its potential. You’ll never see your own potential. That’s why conservative solutions don’t solve anything; they can’t. At best they can exacerbate. Mitch McConnell’s answer to our pandemic-caused economic collapse is to… what? Make people go back to work so they can continue to get sick and overwhelm the health care system and die — all because GIVING Americans money directly (actually — handing them back THEIR TAX DOLLARS) would prove that Universal Basic Income is a viable, smart idea?

Mitch’s idea of “having an imagination” is calling himself the Angel of Death because he intends to kill all legislation dead.

If we wanted to be generous, we could call the tonnage of Republican and Trumpian lying “imagination”. If only the lies were good enough to say they came from someone’s imagination. These were pulled directly from someone’s bloated orange ass.

What Soccer (Football To The Rest Of The Civilized World) Can Teach Us About Life

Soccer’s a simple sport. That’s why it’s universal. Kick the ball into the other guy’s goal more than he kicks it into yours and you win. Now, throw a few off side rules into the mix, some great strategic thinking and some talent to pull it off and that simple sport becomes exactly what they call it: the beautiful game. Few things are as sublime as when eleven players hitch their collective will to putting a ball into the back of the other team’s net and then do it with surgical precision. Achieving that collective perfection might not be as hard as hitting a Major League fastball, but it’s not far behind. It’s absolutely do-able. But only by a few.

And yet — perfection aside — almost anyone can play this game and enjoy it for its own sake.

I’m a Tottenham Hotspur fan, I thing I came into being via marriage to a Brit whose family were Spurs supporters (well, my wife is and her brother is; their sister is a Liverpool supporter — splitter!). I’ve always loved soccer, back to when I first learned to play it at sleepaway camp when I was six. Growing up in Baltimore, I even attended Bays games (they played in the National Professional Soccer League for three seasons 1967 – 1969) at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium.

When my son wanted to play rec center soccer here in LA (he was five), I didn’t just sign him up, I volunteered to coach. Then I created a club team (Silver Lake FC). By the time I stepped aside (my son unfortunately got injured), SLFC had six teams and almost a hundred players. So, soccer has already informed my life in plenty of ways.

But, something that happened Saturday drove home (a baseball metaphor being apt as the LA Dodgers are about to start the World Series today against the Tampa Bay Rays) a particularly important lesson at a particular time. On Sunday, the Spurs counted their chickens before said chickens had hatched. They put three points in the win column before finishing the game they were playing in.

That will almost always bite you in the ass.

After years of struggling to figure out who it was, Spurs have got an amazing new stadium, a new top tier coach (Jose Morinho) and, after picking eight new pieces in the transfer window (they just acquired Welsh international defender Joe Rodon from Swansea for eleven million pounds — when they could have gotten as much as twenty million), seem two-deep at every position for the first time ever. Two weeks ago, Spurs thumped Manchester United 6-1 (after thumping Tel Aviv Maccabee 7-1 in a Europa League game). With Gareth Bale now back in the squad (and with the other new signings finding their feet), Spurs walked onto their pitch to face West Ham this past Sunday, feeling a little like football’s next gods.

When they had West Ham down 3-0 within fifteen minutes, they were convinced: they WERE gods. And, being gods, they could rest on their laurels instead of playing the rest of the game. That worked out to a 3-3 tie, West Ham shocking Spurs with 3 goals in the last ten minutes including a dunderheaded own goal by Spurs defender Davinson Sanchez.

When West Ham took the field in the second half, they played as if the game still mattered. Having nothing to lose, they pressed Spurs — and Spurs let them. They figured, why spend any more energy than necessary? Their three point lead was insurmountable.

And therein is the Life Lesson. You still have to PLAY the game. Talent without effort is worthless. Assuming you have anything in the bag will end up with you IN the bag.

Donald Trump is not going to win this election. If he finds some way to “win” it, it will not be a legitimate win in any way, shape or form. Just like the “win” in 2016 was illegitimate. FFS, Trump himself kept telling us it was illegitimate; our news media to this day refuses to believe him.

The Democratic primary process drew from a deep, deep bench with plenty of philosophical heft. The candidates (for the most part) were authentic, their public servant bona fides genuine. While Joe Biden may not have been the embodiment of Progressive aspirations, the Progressive’s aspirations have already become the embodiment of the party’s ideals. The door will be open to the full Progressive agenda — socialized medicine, debt-free education, UBI; the only way out of this fiasco will BE through Progressive policies like those.

Conservatism after all is what brought us to the cliff’s edge.

The first goal West Ham scored against Spurs came during a set play — a free kick into the box that West Ham converted via a beautiful header. Set plays into the box — usually in the form of corner kicks — are perfect examples of how random chaos works. In essence, you can have twenty-one players moving in various directions, trying to anticipate the flight pattern of a ball and where it might land or bounce. Balls ricochet. Even a mis-directed kick can re-direct into the back of the net.

Our current situation, two weeks before perhaps the most important election in America’s history, is a lot like the chaos inside the goal box — as a corner kick flies toward it — as an important match expires.

Turns out We The People have way more players in the box than the Republicans do — and we’re poised to score and take the points. But the Republicans aren’t playing fairly. Their pal Vladimir is hiding another ball that he plans to introduce just as the official ball reaches the box.

Vladimir — and the Republicans — will insist that THAT ball’s the real ball and the one we’ve been chasing — the real ball — isn’t.

Vlad, Don and the Re-thug-licans plan to run their fake ball to the other end of the field and literally throw it into our net, claiming an incredible shock-victory. They’ll insist that they absolutely followed the rules to a “T”.

Unfortunately for them, that “T” also stands for Trump. To borrow again from baseball, America needs to keep its eye on THE ball.

Oh, The Irony — It Will Be Corrupt Conservatives Who Turn America Into A “Socialist Paradise”

The only thing that scares a conservative more than “socialism” (their idea of it anyway) is diversity. Oh, they’ll tolerate diversity in the business they own. At the end of the day, they’ll happily pay minimum wage to whomever. But will they tolerate diversity in their country club — or worse, their neighborhood?

Surely, you jest!

That Black family may be able to afford to live in the rich, white conservative’s gated community, but they were never supposed to be able to afford it. And that’s the point. Conservatism’s real mission is to keep everyone in their “proper” place in the pecking order — as it was in the 50’s — the 1850’s.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with capitalism — private ownership of the means of production — for profit. In theory, capitalism is color blind. The money doesn’t care who’s profiting from it. It turns toxic however when it becomes crony capitalism that excludes most everyone else from access to that money and the means of production. Crony capitalism is greed run amok. It moves capitalism from the “apolitical” pile to the “immoral” pile. Also — crony capitalists are distinctly political because politics are always required if the crony capitalists are going to hold onto the unchecked power that keeps crony capitalism afloat.

Slavery was the epitome of crony capitalism. It was immoral and highly political. Connect all the dots of conservatism and a picture of crony capitalism emerges. One hand needs to wash the other.

Donald Trump is the epitome of the crony capitalist. He epitomizes its deep down corruption. That’s conservatism’s real problem. We’ve now seen first hand what crony capitalism aspires to. It’s very, very good for a percentage of the 1%. It frankly sucks for pretty much everyone else.

The deep hole we’re in was dug by crony capitalists practicing crony capitalism. We can keep digging — that’s what crony capitalists would want us to do (instead of decking them and climbing out of that hole). It’s just a fact (we live inside the data set): no conservative solution to the mess conservatism caused exists. All conservatism can do now is make the hole bigger, deeper, danker.

America, we now realize, does not have a health CARE system, it has a health INSURANCE system — not the same thing. When people walk in our door, the first question we ask isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” No other industrialized, first world country has profit incentive at the heart of its health care system because health care and profit are mutually exclusive propositions.

A publicly traded company has a fiduciary responsibilities to its shareholders to maximize the returns they’ve made on their investment in said company. They care about profits not patients. Patients, remember, are cash out. The more an insurance company or for profit hospital spends on patient care, the less they’ll make in profits — and the less happy the board of directors and shareholders will be with them.

Any of us needing an expensive procedure to save our lives is going to have to be more worthwhile than the Maserati the insurance company’s chairman of the board has his jaundiced eye on. The coronavirus pandemic has made it crystal clear that we can only be as healthy as the least healthy among us. It only takes one person afraid to reveal their illness to set another pandemic off and running.

People unable to afford health care — unable to take the time off from work to seek the care — are perfectly primed to infect everyone and everyone they meet. And it’s not their fault. They’re being exploited. Universal single payer health CARE is coming to America.

There’s no stopping it now. There’ll be no stopping guaranteed public university education (or comparable technical training). Think of it as something we’d be doing for ourselves. I also believe public service is vital. Every high school graduate should owe a minimum of 18 months of public service. They can join the military, man polling stations, teach kids to read or get food to the hungry and homeless. They can use whatever their skill sets are to make their country a better place for all Americans.

We could even pay for medical school educations with one caveat. We The People will pay to make you a doctor — but you will have to invest some time in public health as the means to pay We The People back. You get, you give. Yeah — it’s socialized. But it’s still democratic.

Andrew Yang’s presidential run didn’t just put universal basic income on the table. The pandemic shutting down the world’s economies made UBI downright respectable. UBI became the only comprehensive way to keep the economy from completely tanking. All the data on UBI says the same thing — it improves peoples’ lives considerably. Rather than leaping at the first job offered because they’re desperate, people receiving UBI tend to wait for the right job to come along — the one that utilizes their skill sets best and makes them happiest. Being happy makes them more productive.

And the money people get via UBI? They don’t hoard it like a bank would. They spend it — on their rent, their utilities, their food and gym membership. They put that money right back into the economy. The taxes paid all down the line help cash flow the UBI all over again. The reason Republicans like Mitch McConnell despise UBI is because it proves them to be liars, pirates and thieves. It works while their policies don’t.

There will be no way out of this crashed economy except by progressive means. When we find ourselves eventually on the upside of this tragedy, progressive policies like universal single payer health care and UBI will have been mainstreamed. Not only will they NOT have brought down Western Civilization, they will have actually benefited more Americans.

I look forward to toasting all my conservative “friends” one day. As awful as many (not all) have been in this period, it will be conservatism as a whole that finally brought America to its senses — by making America a democratic socialist paradise. Let’s be real. Even if we never made it to “paradise”? Whatever progressives do will be a thousand times better and more popular than anything Donald Trump might ever do.

Fact: There Is No Conservative Solution To A Crisis Conservatism Caused

If I was to continue the alliteration, I’d say: Ka-ching!” That’s because it’s so on the money. We are in a crisis… no, we’re in a storm of crises. If only we had just one crisis to deal with this second, it’d be bad enough. But Donald Trump and the Republican Party have brought us to a place where we now face multiple crises on multiple fronts — and all because they are trying desperately to hold onto power that was never legitimately theirs.

Conservatives aren’t criminals and conservatism itself isn’t the “enemy”. Conservative greed is the enemy — as is everything that’s flowed from that greed like, say, their willingness to compromise themselves with Russia. Conservativism’s problem is it’s unsaleable to the majority of Americans. When more Americans vote, they vote for Democrats. That’s just a stone cold fact. Hell, even Donald Trump knows it. The whole point of voter suppression (up to and including hobbling the Post Office) is to stop more people from voting because of how most of them will vote.

Conservatives could have seen their diminishing place in our politics and done something respectable — like find a rock solid place in it. The truth is, progressives like me do need a counterweight if only to keep us honest. But that counterweight needs to be honest, too. And, right now, conservatism can’t claim a lick of honesty.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with capitalism. There’s everything wrong with crony capitalism. The Republican Party just proved that point for all eternity.

Crony capitalism is the conservative fix for everything. It doesn’t matter what the problem is — or whether it ever gets solved — so long as the right amount of money lands in their pocket along the way. The rich get richer while everyone else grows more impoverished, trapped and angrier. But the money that runs capitalism runs both ways.

An economy built on consumers and their confidence will die without them. More specifically, the giant corporations fattening themselves by selling products to American consumers rely on those consumers’ ability and willingness to buy. Problem 1: if those consumers are too broke to buy your products, you’re dead. Problem 2: if those consumers refuse to buy your products because they hate what you stand for, you’re deader than dead.

Here’s the tell: On April 19, 2017, Fox News canned Bill O’Reilly. At the time, O’Reilly’s “The O’Reilly Factor” was Fox News’ top-rated show and its biggest cash cow. O’Reilly wasn’t a “journalist” and didn’t have to play by “journalistic rules” (as if Fox ever has!) but his appearance on a news network gave the utter claptrap that was his stock in trade the “sheen” of news. O’Reilly allowed Fox News to have it both ways. And then, suddenly, that music stopped.

Women did it.

It’s simply a fact: women make the majority of buying decisions in American households. They do the majority of the grocery shopping. They buy the majority of the clothing for their households. They work, they run carpools, they buy cars and gasoline and because they’re now increasingly the principle earners in more and more American households, if they suddenly decide to cancel culture a product? That product will be cancelled, no going back.

All those big corporations whose products women regularly buy? They got the memo. Not wanting to be cancelled, they told the 21st Century Fox Board that they would no longer advertise their products on Bill O’Reilly’s show. They did not want their brands associated with Bill O’Reilly’s brand. For the Fox board, it wasn’t a hard decision. They fired Bill O’Reilly (for reasons they could have/should have fired him years before).

When the marketplace spoke loudly enough, the money reacted. And the marketplace reacted to the economic power of the women within it. Those women are now taking political power with two hands. I’m going to generalize here — male that I am: female biology dictates communal decision-making over unilateral decision-making. No woman would ever say “I alone can fix it” because (here I go generalizing again about women) she knows that no woman can bear and rear a child alone. It really does take at least one other person to help at some point or neither baby nor mama will survive. It really does take a village to raise a child. It takes a village to almost everything — especially in a democracy.

It’s just a stone cold fact: no one can do anything “alone”.

That’s the petard on which conservatism is now hanging itself. Their belief that they alone could “fix” it.

This absolutely a problem of conservatism’s making. Conservatism made it because they were greedy. The way out can’t possibly be more greed.

The way out isn’t some middle option either. Anything that doesn’t put the full weight and potential of the American government at the disposal of We The People has no business being in the discussion. We can smell it’s greed from here.

Even doing everything perfectly will not guarantee that we get a free ride of some kind that magically returns our lives to how they were pre-pandemic. But the results will be exponentially better than what we’re doing to ourselves now. We’re in the process of learning (playing the part of lab rats) how Universal Basic Income works — and how it bolsters and builds an economy rather than undermining it (as conservatives insist, their parsimony cranked up high). We’re learning the lesson that health insurance is not the same thing as health CARE and that literally everyone needs to be included in a universal health CARE system because (in a world where pandemics might now be regular occurrences) we can only ever be as healthy as the least healthy person among us.

Pandemics begin with one person and spread from there.

We’re learning that human decency is, in fact, more important than money. As all those corporations are learning quickly, decency must be part of everyone’s brand going forth. It’s not going to be an option.

The Black Death killed feudalism. It turned an oppressive economic system upside down — giving labor an upper hand it never had before. The result was the guilds, a growing middle class, the birth of capitalism and, finally, the industrial revolution.

We won’t know if this pandemic has the same century-long impacts. We’ll be long dead when those histories get written. But, I bet we get a taste. We’ve already gotten one.

History will judge some of us very harshly. Conservatism won’t be blamed for causing America to nearly collapse but it will be seen as being on the wrong side. I’m not sure, really, how conservatism will eventually get back on our “right” side. What will it take for us to trust their motives again? We’d be foolish to accept their claims of rehabilitation on faith.

I’m absolutely certain nothing conservatives say can help rescue America from what conservatives have done to America. I’m almost as certain conservatives can’t help rescue themselves from what they’ve done to themselves.

I hope they understand if some of us refuse to lend them a hand when they beg for one.

In Post-Trump America, There Will Need To Be An Opposition Party To The Democrats; It Will NOT Be The Republican Party

Stone cold fact: the Republican Party will not survive Donald Trump. A lot of them knew that going in. Lindsey Graham, for instance:

As former Republican Rick Wilson put it, “Everything Trump Touches Dies”. He could have added “Or gets destroyed.” They may not have known just how corrupt Donald Trump was, just how tied in to Russia — but they suspected as much. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously said to a roomful of the GOP leadership during the 2016 GOP convention that “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump“. Paul Ryan, then Speaker of the House was unsurprised. He made everyone there swear to keep it “in the family”.

Thing is, plenty of Republicans were already compromised by Russia. They’d been taking Russian money into their campaign coffers forever — some via the NRA. In some cases — Lindsey Graham’s, I bet — the compromises went even deeper. It isn’t just inconvenient and suspicious campaign money that’s making Lindsey the ultimate Trumpian lap dog. I bet if Senator John McCain were to return from the dead and visit his old pal Lindsey, his old pal couldn’t look McCain in the eye.

But then, can the Republican Party really look America in the eye anymore?

Republicans are now the party of putting children in cages and police violence and mask politicization and racism and sexism and sanctimony and hypocrisy and white male Christian supremacy. They’re the party that has no interest in following the Constitution or the rule of law. They’re the party that puts children in cages, takes pandemic relief money out of the pockets of its struggling constituents and puts it into the pockets of its wealthiest friends.

Republicans are the party that says voting by mail is “dangerous” — even as they vote by mail. They’re the party that gives lip service to protecting elections while doing everything they can to limit who votes. They’ll protect themselves from the coronavirus pandemic but have no interest in protecting you.

If Republicans were a literal salesman going door to door, he’d be selling poison wrapped in an American flag.

But, the GOP’s problem is the same one a salesman has. What do you do when no one wants what you’re selling? The salesman is shit out of luck. The GOP however is unusually innovative when it comes to corruption. Republicans are used to no one wanting them so they developed a way to shove their product down America’s throats.

As the Republicans will learn, while that may work for the first moment or two, we’re in fighting back mode now.

The Whig Party was active from the 1830’s to the 1850’s. They were progressive in many ways; among other things, they were strong advocates of the rule of law. Slavery split them in two, the norther Whigs being completely opposed to it while the southern Whigs were not. The defeat of Whig presidential candidate General Winfield Scott by Democrat Franklin Pierce (keep in mind, Democrats in 1850 were very different from Democrats today) finished them off. The party went out of business, replaced ultimately by what became the nascent Republican Party.

The Republican Party began its life as the more Progressive of the two parties (for a better understanding, read Heather Cox-Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party). Their willful descent into racist policy came about after Nixon’t southern strategy turned all those racist southerners from Dixiecrats into Republicans.

The Republican Party wouldn’t be here if the Whigs had lived on. Similarly, some new group of moderate conservatives will live on once the GOP is formally laid to rest. And, rest assured — the GOP will be formally laid to rest — right alongside the Whigs though I doubt that will make the Whigs happy.

No doubt the Whigs will think — as the Republican Party is buried beside it — “There goes the neighborhood”.

In the end, some conservative party will find its footing and endure — so long as they don’t try to pull the same crap. But the conservative of the future — whatever they call themselves — won’t look a whole lot like the conservative party of right now. They won’t have a choice if they want to endure. America is about make a giant leap to the left.

There’s no conservative way out of this mess. Conservatives keep making that point for us. The Progressive solutions (UBI, health care for all, a playing field that’s actually level) will, in time, become ubiquitous. We’ll even start to think of America as a center-left country.

There’s no good outcome for Republicans or republicanism. They are facing extinction and there’s absolutely nothing they can do to stop it.

And How Exactly DOES One “Compromise” With Evil?

Too much of the American news media still has it in their heads that “both sides do it”. Whatever rotten things Republicans do, plenty of reporters, before they get to the rotten things, will remind their audience that it’s not just Republicans who do this rotten thing, “both sides do it”. Got proof?

Do both sides work tirelessly to suppress the other sides voters? No, actually, only one side does that.

Did both sides visit Russia on July 4, 2018 as 8 Republicans did, inexplicably spending America’s Independence Day not with their families but with Russians — for no apparent reason that no one’s ever explained?

Do both sides put children in cages?

Do both sides stand with racists and bigots and misogynists?

Do both sides politicize the wearing of masks?

Do both sides stand by Donald Trump regardless of the clear and evident danger he presents?

Do both sides openly ignore the rule of law & the Constitution? Do both sides happily pour our tax dollars into the pockets of their rich friends while regular Americans spend hours in line at food banks?

Take the current fracas over unemployment benefits to all the Americans who’ve been crushed economically by the pandemic and by our government’s thieving, contradictory, inept & flat out corrupt response to it. Democrats want to maintain the $600/week most Americans receiving that money are now relying on to pay their bills. Republicans wanted to knock it down to $200/week.

Trump, in his executive “whatever’s” signed last night at his golf club in Bedminster, NJ to a room of cheering, maskless golf buddies (well, maskless before the press complained), wanted to give everyone $400. Looks like a compromise, right?

It’s not. A person who needs $600 to pay their bills needs $600. Every bill not paid remains unpaid — and the pressure to pay it mounts.

The Republicans scream that paying people more in unemployment than their unemployment pays disincentivizes them to go back to work. That’s the slave master screaming about his slaves not wanting to be slaves. The fact that $600 means so much to so many people isn’t about people being lazy, it’s about people being horribly underpaid. What Republicans are really afraid of — and they should be — is the lab experiment America is now conducting about economics and reality.

Americans are getting a first hand look at how Universal Basic Income (UBI) works. Unlike a bank, when sustenance income lands in the pockets of a regular person, they spend it. They buy groceries or pay their electric bill. They pay for their kids’ braces or ballet classes. They pay to fix the car or repair the leaking roof. The thing regular people don’t do with UBI? They don’t bank it like banks do.

They don’t hoard it. They use the money and that, in turn, cash flows the economy from the bottom up. Because other regular people are getting paid — their jobs are supported by all that UBI — they pay their taxes and use their money to pay other people for goods and services. UBI is dynamic. UBI — paid at the federal level because only the federal government can do this — is how America will finally get the coronavirus pandemic under control. We need to incentivize people to stay home without fearing they’ll end up homeless.

In a non-pandemic environment, UBI allows people to wait for employment that suits them, suits their skill sets, suits their needs. It makes for happier people, more productive people. Wealthier people. Everywhere they’ve experimented with UBI or systems like it, it has succeeded.

Why would one oppose such a thing? Usually, it’s greed. Greed plus ignorance — especially after one gets to eyewitness all UBI’s obvious benefits. As we now know — also from experience — greed + ignorance = evil. Greed + ignorance also equals authoritarianism. That means authoritarianism = evil. No one with half a brain disputes that the Republican Party has gone full authoritarian.

So — when the yakking heads at CNN & MSNBC get Democrats on their air to interview them about things like the economic support packages the Democrats are pushing vs the packages the Republicans are pushing, those “journalists” go right to the politics of it. They “both sides do it” an argument about regular Americans putting food on their tables. They equate Democrats wanting to maintain the $600/week Americans need with the $200/week the Republicans wanted in the deal as if these were two sides to two legitimate arguments.

Except they’re not. The $600 is a legitimate attempt to deal with real people having real problems.

The $200 (and even the $400) aren’t trying to address anything. They’re just numbers being thrown down on the table as part of a negotiation — AWAY FROM what struggling Americans need and toward what would cause them greater hardship. Never mind the fact that the money in question? IT BELONGS TO THOSE AMERICANS. It does not belong to the politicians trying to withhold it.

What kind of compromise do these reporters have in mind? If THEY needed that money to pay THEIR families, would they feel so “you should compromise because compromise is good”? Would they be cool with looking their children in the eyes to explain that they’re going hungry tonight because “both sides do it”? Would THEY be down with compromising — especially when they know they’re not compromising with a legitimate argument but with a specious, corrupt, cynical attempt to stiff them?

Of course they wouldn’t.

So, why do they think We The People should compromise with evil?

Once we scrub our body politic clean of Republicans and Republicanism, we’ll need to turn our focus on the news media. They have failed us spectacularly. Worse, most of them still don’t see it or acknowledge it. They’re like addicts who still refuse to acknowledge their addiction.

No worries. We’ll throw an intervention.

When they try to make us compromise? We’ll say no.