Human Beings Can't Help Being Tribal; The Trick Is To See As Many Other Humans As Possible As "Your Tribe"

I’m an Angeleno. As crazy-making as living in LA can make you, I love living here and I feel a very real kinship with everyone else who loves living here. Hell — I feel a kinship for those who DON’T love living here. I get it. I understand them and feel those same tugs. If you’re an Angeleno — period — I think of us as the same tribe.

Now, some of my LA tribe-mates are Clippers fans. Me? I’ve always been a Lakers fan. I was out of my head with Lakers Love during the Kobe Bryant years (lost it all during the post Kobe fiasco) and saw members of the Clippers tribe as unworthy. If that same person stepped outside of Staples Center and put down their Clippers merch? We’re Angelenos standing proudly together again.

I’ve been an east-sider most of my 35+ years in LA. Everyone who lives west of La Brea is a Martian. Unless they’re a Lakers fan. Or a Angeleno.

That’s the point. Every time I pull the camera back — and see my kinship in wider terms — I SEE kinship. Angeleno though I am, I also take great tribal pride in being a Californian.

I take great tribal pride in being an American. I take great tribal pride in being a Jew. And a Progressive. And a lover of reading. And a graduate of Vassar College. And a graduate of Pikesville High School in 1977. And a classmate at Fort Garrison Elementary School. And anyone who was ever born in Rome, New York (where I was born while my father was in the Air Force).

But I also take great tribal pride in being a human being.

We ARE all in this together. The more of us who get that fact — who see our common purpose and tribal kinship — the better.

I Grew Up In The Shadow Of The Holocaust

According to Donald Trump, “Jews” are a “nationality”. That’s not the first time a country’s leader has started down that road… Historically, it never ends well for Jews.

I was born in 1959, 14 years after the Nazi concentration camps were liberated.  In my brain, those camps never went away.

I grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s in a Jewish suburb of Baltimore. Pikesville was so predominantly Jewish that “clever people” called it “Kikesville” instead. My public high school was so predominantly Jewish that even the non-Jewish kids took the Jewish holidays off — cos they knew NOTHING was happening in school those days.

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 made my community so horrified that they couldn’t bear to discuss it.

We went completely in the other direction. I wouldn’t say we “embraced” the Holocaust so much as we “owned it”. As my community tends to do, we made it a teachable moment. From a young age, I was told about this tragedy and shown images that burned into my mind forever. I don’t regret that for a second. I needed to remember these lessons – forever.

I have always been grateful to Hebrew school for making me the atheist I am today — and for giving me a stone, cold accurate view of the world — and my place in it because of my tribe.

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. You can’t cram peoples’ heads with that much bullshit and expect the bullshit not to screw them up. Bullshit always screws people up – cos it’s bullshit. When you cram a nonsense, hateful mythology into peoples’ heads that actually runs counter to your religion’s core message (and its core messenger) — don’t be surprised when the nonsense becomes the message.

It sucks being despised because of a total fiction. It sucks worse being killed over it.

“Karma’s A Stone Cold Bitch” – MOSCOW MITCH MCCONNELL EDITION

Mitch McC
Fact: Moscow Mitch Is Putin’s Bitch

Mitch McConnell plans to kill American Democracy dead-dead-DEAD by throwing a “no-trial” (his version of a “show trial”) in the Senate.

Mitch is the same treasonous MoFo who refused (at the September 2016 Gang Of 8 meeting at the White House) to let We The People in on the secret that Russia was working over time to make Trump president. He’s the same treason turtle who got rid of the sanctions on Oleg Deripaska (who was sanctioned for what he did to election 2016) so Oleg could drop a $300 million Russian aluminum factory on a chronically poor part of Mitch’s chronically poor (cos chronically stupid) state. That was TREASON, Mitch.

T R E A S O N .

Mitch knows — Karma’s got him in its sights. And Karma’s gonna be all over Mitch McConnell like a bitch.

Moscow Mitch snubbed at Elijah Cummings memorial service. Just a teeny-tiny taste of the Karma to come, Mitch…

The reason Donald Trump is POTUS to begin with is because Mitch refused – at a September 2016 Gang of Eight meeting convened at the Obama White House to let the American People in on the secret — the reason the Gang of Eight was hastily convened — that our IC had ample PROOF that RUSSIA was actively attacking our election in order to put Trump in the White House.

Mitch refused to let We The People in on it. He threatened Obama that if Obama told America what was really happening, he, Mitch, would insist that Obama was politicizing the intel for political reasons — to help Hillary Clinton win the election. This was bullshit of course. Mitch was betraying We The People on behalf of his Russian paymasters.

Mitch McTreason whined on the senate floor a few weeks ago how being called a “traitor” gave him a turtle sad. His speech gave new meaning to the word “hypocrisy”. Mitch saw to it personally that the sanctions levied against Oleg Deripaska for personally participating in Russia’s assault upon the 2016 election were lifted so that Oleg could drop $200 million and an aluminum factory on Kentucky.

Mitch will insist this is about 600 plus jobs for hard scrabble Kentuckians. That would be bullshit. Yeah, yeah — unemployment in Kentucky, a very poor state. Sorry, but screw them, screw their jobs and screw that factory. The factory itself is a deliberate attempt by Russia to create a beachhead INSIDE our politics. Why in hell’s name would we allow a foreign adversary to create an entity that controls the fate of Americans on American soil? Now they can threaten to pull out their factory if they don’t get what THEY want from our politics.

And whattaya know — a few days ago, Russia approached 8 other states with similar offers of factories or financial assistance. There’s a reason behind the thinking “Don’t shit where you eat”. It’s pretty sound actually.

Mitch just took a giant tortoise-sized dump on American Democracy. It wasn’t Mitch’s first time doing it either.

Mitch thinks it’s “partisan” to NOT let foreign countries undermine our democracy by destroying the integrity of our voting system. I wonder if Mitch thinks that because he’s owned lock, stock & bourbon barrels by Russia — same as every other Republican except even more so. Mitch is even more treason-y because his Wife — Elayne Chao — is as corrupt as he is (and probably just as compromised, she by the Chinese spy agencies).

Mitch NEEDS foreign interference in our election to either 1) get him the results he needs (permanent minority rule) or 2) destroy our ability to verify any future election’s results as free, fair or even valid. This should not be a revelation: Mitch McConnell is one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) villains EVER in American history.

That’s not hyperbole.

Remember — Mitch even went out of his way to keep Russia’s intense partisan involvement in OUR ELECTION a secret from We The People (the ‘Gang Of 8’ meeting at the WH — September 2016 — the IC informs 4 GOP Congressional leaders & 4 Democratic Congressional leaders that Russia is actively trying to swing the election to Donald Trump – and Mitch McConnell says that he won’t tolerate informing the American People – that he’ll insist Obama is ‘politicizing the intelligence’). Mitch insisted WE stay in the dark while his party conspired with a hostile foreign government to pull off a soft coup d’etat.

That’s some pretty awful Karma Mitch has created for himself. Hmmmm… bet it means — when that Karma boomerangs — as Karma always does — that it will fly back at Mitch with a real vengeance.

Now, if I were ‘In Control’ of Karma — and I could create a ‘Karma Tree’ that would guide all of Mitch’s future incarnations — based on what he REALLY deserves — Mitch’s Karma would go something like this…

Mitch dies (hold off on breaking out the champagne — for now).  And he comes back as THIS — ‘Mitch McConnell:  Toilet Brush‘ —

A Toilet Brush or Mitch

But here’s the ‘rub’ — ‘MITCH THE TOILET BRUSH‘ lives HERE —

WORST TOILET

Yeah — even worse than ‘The Worst Toilet In Scotland’…

A lot worse, it turns out — because THIS is the REFUGEE CAMP where Mitch’s Toilet lives — and CHOLERA just broke out all across the camp…

Refugee Camp

Yeah — CHOLERA.

And there’s already a LINE to use Mitch’s Toilet (and every last person in line has EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA) —

line of refugees 1

  And that line goes on…

Line of Refugees 2

And on…

Refugees3

And on…

And STILL, it gets worse for Mitch — Cos THIS is the creature at the very endof that line…

Monster at end of line

And it doesn’t make ‘dainty’ piles like THIS —

pileofcrap

Nope — it produces an endless stream of foul-smelling poison as toxic as Mitch’s ‘soul’.

And just as Mitch sees how massive and unending that STREAM OF LIQUID SHIT IS

He wakes up — and realizes it was all in his head — A DAYDREAM!

And that makes Mitch happy (even happier than Koch Money does when it lines his pockets — and that’s a lot of happy).

Happy Mitch

Everything, Mitch realizes, is back to normal.  And he turns to go about what he was doing (before that awful daydream) and he reaches out TO SHAKE THE HAND of THIS MAN —

THE HANDSHAKE

And the KARMA TREE starts all over again…

Forever and ever and ever…

Hey, Karma — call me — I bet we can work something out to everyone’s mutual satisfaction (and improved Karma)…

Shits N Giggles Karma Bonus Points — Mitch needs to answer why his military records are sealed — and why the word SODOMY makes him uneasy… Hey, Karma: Three, two, one — GO!

Dear American News Media: Why Do You Always Mark Republicans On A Curve?

Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign took a hit when she was cornered into showing receipts for how she would pay for getting every American health CARE. The grinding irony — this is never a question Republican candidates ever have to grapple with. How we’re gonna pay for the next Republican tax cut is always obvious — it’s coming from what’s left of the Middle Class’s hide. It’s coming from the poorest of the poor.

Maybe I’ve answered my own question already. Why doesn’t America’s news media ever hold Republican candidates (or working politicians) to the same standards of proof as they do Democratic candidates? Perhaps it’s because our MSM knows going in that Republicans never have receipts. They want everyone to take what they say as gospel truth.

For instance — that America is a “center-right country”. Perhaps the people who’ve shown up at the polls until recently (around 55% of the total electorate in 2016) leaned center-right. Historically, older people vote in larger numbers than younger people (which is a terrible reflection on us — they should be motivated to maintain our Democracy, not made deeply cynical about it!) But there’s a reason why Republicans — historically — do everything they can to suppress as much of the vote as they can: they know that when more Americans vote, they vote for Democrats.

Beto O’Rourke’s near success in taking Ted Cruz’s senate seat was an object lesson in 1) how to beat Republicans in seemingly impossible places and 2) when you get more Americans out to vote, number 1) becomes a lot more possible. That’s because America (when it actually votes) is a center-left country. Beto didn’t go after the red necks and rich shitheads who always show up to vote, he went after those who don’t normally show up (in large part because they’ve felt disenfranchised — which they were). And they were disenfranchised with purpose — to wipe out their vote — to make their NOT showing up to vote as reliable as RWers showing up. Then — the icing — we told ourselves that THIS was written in stone: just how it is.

The American public has been bamboozled by bullshit.

What conservatives and right wingers are good at is “marketing” (aka “stoking fear” — “Be Afraid” is very much the Republican Brand). They’re good at selling messages: “Americans love their health insurance” (no — they love the doctors they love & going through the insurance company is the only way to get those doctors — not the same thing). “Mission Accomplished” (no, it wasn’t — not by a long shot).

Do Republicans ever have to pay for their bullshit — or even explain it? Have you watched any of the last three years? Donald Trump has gotten away with “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” and having his head so far up Vladimir Putin’s ass he could be Putin’s uvula. And yet — when the White House press corps gets their shot at Trump (and they get LOTS of shots), do they EVER challenge him on the obvious treachery?

No — they don’t. In fact, when they then talk to the hosts in the studio, they act as if treason, too, is just how it is now. They look at poll numbers — wondering if maybe a misinformed, disinformed & propagandized American public doesn’t care about “maintaining their Republic” anymore. Talk about shitty framing!

Our news media ask if Democrats are over-stepping — wanting to maintain The Rule Of Law and the Constitution. That’s because the news media insists that the Democrats standing up for The Rule Of Law and the Constitution is just “politics”. No. No, it isn’t. And that’s the news media’s problem. “Both Sides Do It” journalism insists on seeing everything as political. They insist that politics motivates everything.

Nothing could be further from the truth of course. Hey, look — I answered my own question again. The news media marks Republicans on a curve because they’ve bought the Republican lie — that just because Republicans do everything for calculated political reasons, the Democrats must be doing it for the same reasons too. The news media isn’t marking Republicans on a curve — they’re dropping Democrats two grades just for sitting down to take the test.

Then acting like everyone’s being graded the same.

You CANNOT Have Profit Incentive At The Core Of A Health CARE System

Some ideas are so stupid, you have to marvel how they don’t die at their inception. Example — having profit incentive inside a health care system.

Of course we want people to “make money” doing their jobs in a health care system. That’s not the same thing however as having corporations step in as gatekeepers between Americans and their health CARE. Our system is screwed up foundationally. We’ve let the inmates run the asylum — literally.

The reason America’s system is so different than everyone else’s goes back to World War Two. Once America entered the war, every available dollar in the economy was directed toward sustaining America’s war effort. Large companies weren’t allowed to offer employees raises. If a competitor could offer skilled workers more money (because they paid more to start with), the competitor was going to get all the talent.

To counter this freeze on wages, American companies offered to pay for employees’ health care. More precisely, they offered to pay for their health insurance (not the same thing). Most major American companies did this. And then the war ended. But this practice did not.

In the abstract perhaps keeping this idea going wasn’t a terrible idea. But it was a terrible idea. Example — a big, big company like Boeing pays for the health insurance (not care) of a huge number of people (Boeing employed about 161,000 people in 2015). Airbus Group — Boeing’s largest (and main) competitor (though it employs around 136,600 (as in 2014) — by comparison paid ZERO for their employees’ health insurance.

That’s because all the countries that help build Airbus products have socialized medicine systems where tax dollars pay for everyone’s health CARE. Everyone can walk in the door at a universal single payer system. We know already who’s paying for it — we are. As we should.

In a universal single payer system? No one loses their house or goes broke (for a generation or so) because you or someone in your family got sick. Where Airbus is concerned, unlike Boeing, they DON’T have to add the cost of all that health insurance to the bottom line cost of each and every Boeing aircraft.

Consequently Boeing enters every competition with one hand tied behind its back. Our insurance driven system makes that a fact of life. It makes America less competitive. It hurts us — and then makes it hard to get healthy again.

Oh, the irony…

Insurance companies — being publicly traded — have a fiduciary responsibility not to any “patients” (those are cogs in a much larger wheel from an insurance company’s perspective) but to their shareholders. And not to the common class of stock shareholders either (yes, there’s a theoretical fiduciary responsibility) but to the PREFERRED CLASS of shareholder.

Ya know how Facebook users mistakenly think they’re Mark Zuckerberg’s customers? They’re not (of course), they’re the thing Zuckerberg’s SELLING — to the people who advertise on Facebook (aka ACTUAL customers). Same deal. Americans have it in their heads that they’d be screwed without their private insurance.

No, your insurance company is just a gatekeeper actually. Different insurance companies try to carve off different doctors as part of their “network”. Go outside their “network” & pay lots more. The people in the network have agreed to whatever fees the insurance company has decided to pay. The insurance company, if you notice, is ALWAYS in the driver’s seat.

Keep in mind — from the insurance company’s point of view (and fiduciary responsibility), they are OBLIGATED to deny and refuse as much coverage as the can get away with because that makes the company more profitable and being more profitable makes their shareholders happy and the company more financially healthy. Money — not health CARE — runs everything.

It’s not just money, remember — it’s PROFITABLE money. It’s profit INCENTIVE.

It’s completely antithetical to what a health care system is supposed to do — if anyone inside it has ever taken a Hippocratic Oath.

You can’t “But first do no harm” by asking “How’re ya gonna pay for this, Sparky?” These two things are mutually exclusive propositions.

Ask A Conservative — "What Exactly Do You Want To CONSERVE?" — Bet You Won't Like Their Answer

A Progressive rally vs…

I know what Progressives want — it’s right in their name: progress. Progressives want to progress — into the future since you can’t progress into the present and you can’t progress into the past. THAT’S called “regress”.

It’s also called “conservatism”. Just as the Progressive Ideal is there in our name, so too is the conservative ideal memorialized in its name. Conservatives want to “CONSERVE”. Ah — but conserve WHAT?

Just as you can’t progress into the past, likewise you cannot conserve the future. You can however conserve the present — what is. And that — conserving what IS — usually goes hand in hand with conserving what WAS. Since it’s that component of what is (what remains from the past) that conservatives draw toward like mosquitoes to a porch light. They believe if they ferociously hold onto what still IS, they can, by force of will, turn back the clock to make what now “is” more like what “was”.

In the past. Because that’s what conservatives want to conserve — the past. The one where they got to call the shots. Those days sucked even when they were the present — unless you were white, male and Christian. If there’s a date in your average conservative’s mind — a landing spot in the past that’s the conservative idyll, it’d be the 50’s — the 1850’s — back when everyone knew their place.

I really do recommend you try it: ask a conservative what exactly THEY want to conserve. There’s entertainment to be had because when you frame it that way — making conservatives own what they really want to conserve — they get totally tongue-tied.

It’s hard to justify taking a whole country back to a time in its past that the majority want to learn from.

That’s the other thing conservatives want to conserve. The white Christian men who held power for so long (often illegally — by keeping others from voting) know damned well how small a piece of the actual electorate they are. They live in fear that one day, America’s left of center majority will shake off their citizenship seriously and show up at the polls every time there’s an election. They know — the more Americans vote, the worse it’s going to be for the future of the Republican Party & republicanism.

The more Americans vote, the harder it gets for conservatives to keep us living in the past.

It’s why, down deep, conservatives have no use for democracy. It’s bad for their health. Oh, the irony…

Donald Trump Is The Poster Boy For The Banality Of Evil

Aside from all around assholery, Donald Trump is “good at” exactly nothing.

If not for Tony Schwartz’s skill as a writer, we wouldn’t see any art whatsoever in Trump’s dealings. We’d see corruption and criminality. If not for Mark Burnett inventing the character of Trump, Master Deal Maker — I doubt even Russia could have made Trump president.

As has been well-documented, Trump comes from a family of con men and petty criminals, cowards and racists, men and women incapable of forming healthy human bonds with anyone — or anything aside from money. Think Fred Trump respected his son (as Trump insists was the case)? Good luck finding any proof of it.

There’s far more evidence that Fred Trump saw Don-Don as a lost cause. A criminal saw his son as being too inept to be a “good” criminal. The best Donald Trump could ever hope to be — in his father’s eyes — was a mediocre criminal. Even Fred Trump saw how banal Donald Trump was.

The Hitlers of the world don’t arise from hell. They arise from ordinary circumstances. They’re broken, to be sure. But, aside from being broken, they’re not good at anything. They’re not educated in anything. They’re not capable of anything.

Is Trump articulate? Is he clever? Is he observant? Is he deeply knowledgeable — about his own business even? No — he’s not. He’s mediocre at best. Banal.

Trump’s no Bond Villain. Ernst Stavro Blofeld he ain’t. More like Schmoe-feld. He’s the bitch in this equation. Ask Vladimir Putin…

That’s what makes what the Republicans are doing so appalling. It’s not like they’re following a master mind off the cliff.

They’re following Donald J Trump ffs.

If they didn’t deserve it so much, I’d almost feel sorry for the Republicans. I’m quite sure I won’t feel a bit sorry when we get to the punishment phase of the proceedings.

Banality & evil will both come at a price.