Would America Breaking Into Two Americas – Red V Blue – Really Be Such A Bad Thing?

America is what happens when you let sleeping dogs lie and one of those dogs is racism. America has always had a jones for mythologizing itself. That’s because we have no common, longstanding history to stand on as people from every other country did when they came here. Aside from the Native Americans (wiped out by European pathogens, not European culture, wisdom or superiority), there is no roots “American Culture” other than the one that’s slowly been forming over the last 240 years — proof positive that America really is the place where E Pluribus Unum. E Pluribus Unum is America’s genius. Out of many, one is American Exceptionalism. But, white people prefer “All men are created equal” because they know that the white, Christian, land-owning men who wrote or stood by those words didn’t mean them literally (except for the word “men” which they meant very literally). That’s the foundational bullshit upon which originalism sits its bloated, intellectually dishonest ass: America can only ever be the country a bunch of white racists imagined it to be.

That’s the choice facing us — as it always has been. Nothing has changed since the nation’s founding. We are a great idea as yet unrealized. That doesn’t mean we can’t fully realize every last bit of E Pluribus Unum’s genius — which would, all by itself, fix “All men are created equal” into “All people stand equal before the rule of law”. Our kneejerk response to America splitting up is “That would be the end of America!” And, yes, it would be. It would be the end of America as the world has known it for 240 years. But it wouldn’t be the end of America.

The overwhelming majority of Americans want what the Democratic Party is doing, not what the Republican Party is doing. If you put it directly to every single voting age American “Citizen, do you want America’s experiment in self-government to continue or do you want America to become a one party, permanent minority rule authoritarian state, how do YOU think they’d vote? The hard core of the hard core Trumpanistas — the ones driving this shit wagon off a cliff — peaked at 25% of Americans. Trump famously shrank the Republican base down to HIS base. There are plenty of Never Trumpers among Republicans. There’s no comparable thing on the Democratic side — no Project Lincolns or groups of Republicans buying ads to implore other Republicans to vote for Democrats.

The problem is, we’ve gotten into our heads (thanks, news media!) that there ARE two sets of facts — one Democrats believe and one Republicans believe. Those “alternative facts” Kellyanne Conway so cleverly pulled from her bony white ass aren’t facts, they’re pure bullshit. That’s the point! They’re the ALTERNATIVE to facts, not an alternative version of facts.. See the difference?

On cannot compromise with evil. Evil will not compromise with you so, if you compromise with evil, evil stays as it is while YOU end up becoming more evil. Same goes for racism, bigotry, misogyny, ignorance and greed. In America, one of our two political parties has in fact fully compromised with all those things.

Take away the stolen labor (slavery) that built the southern and then Confederate economy and you there never is a southern or Confederate economy. Had the money that built the sugar cane, cotton and tobacco businesses been forced to pay its labor fairly (versus zero — it’s entirely possible that a very different country and culture would have emerged, one where workers and work were respected. One where race was irrelevant to how one stood before the rule of law. But, once you get it in your head that white people are superior in all they do, you’ve set yourself up for failure.

America must prosecute Donald Trump if it’s to remain a viable country. We can’t let hostile foreign countries at cyber war with us choose your presidents (and we can’t let the presidents they choose go unpunished for being literal traitors and their presidencies re-evaluated in the light of their treason). To let such presidents & presidencies stand is to invite such foreign involvement in the future since there’s literally no punishment for doing it. Why WOULDN’T a hostile foreign government buy as many candidates as possible? Hey, if democracy’s for sale and there’s money to be made?

Did I mention that nothing good happens when you compromise with greed?

Even as the rats begin turning on each other — realizing the depth of their legal peril — the damage done will remain. Alas, we do have two sets of “facts” in play (a contradiction of terms if ever there was one). Having seized control of the local political machinery (credit where credit is due — unlike Democrats, Republicans ran for local offices because they saw how important local control was), Republicans will have the means to push their states and localities past the breaking point where the rule of law can survive all the corruption around it. The rule of law can’t enforce itself — and every time we enforce it unfairly or unequally, we hurt its integrity. White nationalism drove the Confederacy’s rise. It drives the Confederacy’s lingering, zombie-like presence. It will drive the formation of a Second Confederacy if only to have an entity to negotiate Trump’s release from a prison sentence of Life — for having committed treason.

America at war with itself is unhealthy both for us and for our standing in the world. The world needs us to regain our stature. We really do represent something special to the world — the ideal that hard work and determination can overcome social status in a world that wishes it could quit social status as a “thing”. The world needs our genius for reinvention. It needs our democratic spirit to shine brightly — as the beacon the world always saw in us. If the red states chose to take their ball and go home, I say we should let them!

First, we’d put it on a ballot. One simple question: “Do you want (fill in state’s name here) to be a “red state” from this day forth or a “blue state”?” Count the votes and color the state accordingly.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that red voters have their way in most of the south. They won’t get Virginia. Georgia’s also a question mark as is North Carolina. And I bet even states like Kentucky (where there are more registered Democrats than Republicans) poll differently than we expect. Oh — all those polls? We’re going the hand-marked paper route. There’s too much at stake here to let a bunch of Republican-run companies pretend that they’re anything but corrupt. So, let’s say that all the southern states from Texas to Florida, from the Gulf Coast up through the Midwest to Oklahoma, Kansas, parts of Nebraska, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Idaho, parts of Utah and Western Washington and Oregon — these places all insist on ending their relationship with the United States of America.

This will be awful for all the blue state Americans living in what are now very real “red” states. They’ll be stuck with a Sophie’s choice re their lives. I’d expect a progressive, forward-thinking Blue America to anticipate Red America’s brain drain. Being government-minded, Blue America will naturally plan for various contingencies while Red America thinks “planning” is what “elites” do. Blue America — recognizing how important immigration has always been to the American ideal will simply re-establish, re-state and re-emphasize this fact. Without racism and greed interrupting the conversation, America might finally be ale to have a meaningful dialogue about immigration.

Blue America, we hope, will be a consummate respecter of the rule of law. Break it, no matter who you are, and you must take responsibility for breaking it. Red America, on the other hand, won’t have the rule of law. It will have a grab bag of “make it up as you go along” rules that only apply when they apply and only apply to who they apply to. Being belligerent by nature, Red America will endlessly sabre rattle. They’ll threaten us relentlessly. But only for a while. One thing the rule of law does is organize a society. Since the Second Confederacy will have tossed out the US Constitution, they’ll plow along without one.

Even if Red America tried to fashion a new “improved” US Constitution, we can all imagine the anti-democratic screed a bunch of racist, woman-hating, corrupt scumbags would cobble together. Only hard core Trumpists will be given any decision-making power. There won’t be any “system” beyond corrupt patronage. For reference, see “The Trump White House”. That will be how the Second Confederacy “governs”. Because greed and corruption run everything, nothing will run.

I give Red America’s power grid six months before it begins to shut down. Infrastructure will never happen. Roads and bridges will fall apart, isolating more and more pockets of Red America from Red America. Food will grow scarce, forcing some of those pockets to reconsider their “Red v Blue” votes.

While Blue Americans will be well educated (getting either free state run college or tech training whichever suits them), have health CARE free of charge (well, they pay for it through their tax dollars), paid family leave for pregnancy and illness and a universal basic income that allows Blue Americans to pay their bills while waiting for the best possible job opportunities (the ones that pay bigger salaries and taxes back into the system), Red Americans will sit in the dark, starving. While Blue America thrives, Red America will sink further into misery, making third world countries look like first world countries.

That’s when Blue America will hear a knock at its back door. It’ll be Red America still wanting back in, filled with contrition. Or what they hope is contrition having long since lost the ability to be contrite.

Having raised two children, I’ve learned that the very best teacher our children can have is failure. Success teaches us only that our shit doesn’t smell. Well, that’s nonsense — our shit continues smelling even when we succeed. The second we start buying our own press, we’ve set ourselves up for failure. Better to allow one’s children to taste failure from time to time — and then make sure they see the opportunities failure presents that success never would have.

Yeah, a Second American Civil War would suck. It would be terribly destructive and generationally expensive. But, it might be our only way back to becoming the America the world needs us to be.

The America WE need us to be…

Who In Their Right Mind Would Vote Republican When Voting Republican Gets You Killed?

Politics in America make little sense because too much of our “common wisdom” thinks everyone does everything for entirely political reasons completely divorced from any desire to actually govern. That “common wisdom” is deeply cynical and deeply conservative — as all “common wisdom” is, coming, as it does, from either long held knowledge or just long held traditions pretending to be knowledge. I don’t know if American politics have always been this cynical (I suspect it has been) but the presence of cynicism also marks the presence of a very real divide. The much LARGER group — on the other side of that divide? They aren’t cynical. They don’t think the worst of everyone. They absolutely experience the same intense gravity from the same tribal pull but, having lived in a diverse culture, they recognize that E Pluribus Unum is the cure for all that. Out of many, one.

Please, let’s be straight up here (like it was a question): only one side in this “conversation” we’re having about America’s future sees diversity as a threat to their hegemony. White people have held political power (and, hence, da money) from the get-go. That’s not because the great idea they spun said that’s how it was supposed to be (the great idea says, literally “all men are created equal” and not “all men who look exactly like us”), that’s because the MEN who crafted these founding documents were flawed (of course they were flawed — they were the male of the human species!). They came from a Northern European culture that mistook the advantages their pathogens gave them as cultural superiority. It wasn’t Christian virtue that laid low the heathens of North America, it was small pox. Thus is cynicism born.

The very idea of “E Pluribus Unum” makes “originalism” bullshit. Originalism is itself a pathogen. It’s the racist mis-step at America’s founding given a deceptive branding. Think about what originalism is really insisting — that how America IS should reflect only what its white, Christian, male founding FATHERS were thinking when they drafted our founding documents. We must accept their world and their world view warts as our world view regardless of any or all changes to our knowledge or thinking caused by our subsequent history. We must accept that this country’s founders understood the “Pluribus” of E Pluribus Unum to be exclusively white people. Originalism is an attempt to excuse and justify racism. It is pure cynicism (as racism is).

But, our news media — lacking perspective — doesn’t see originalism as racism. They see originalism (as they see racism) as a legitimate opinion even if (in the case of racism), it’s an opinion the racist insists isn’t his. It may be an opinion journalists pooh-pooh as offensive — but, considering that their measure of a racist is whether or not a racist owns his racism — that’s really all the current journalistic culture thinks racism is — an unfortunate opinion about other people that good people shouldn’t have. “Common wisdom” therefore says you can ask someone “Hey, are YOU a racist?” and whatever their answer is — that’s the truth we should all accept about them. They would know if they’re a racist, right? And they’d be honest about it!

This is how cynicism “thinks”. From the inside. It’s a rabbit hole constructed entirely of bullshit. And all bullshit is ultimately toxic.

Outside that cynical rabbit hole filled with “common wisdom” and bullshit, that’s where the rest of us live. We watch our news media report on that rabbit hole like IT was reality. We watch them constantly get our story wrong because they’re not reporting our reality.

As with most cynicism, a nugget of truth gets colored all one way. Americans do not vote en masse in mid-term elections the way they do in presidential elections. Except when they DO vote en masse in mid-terms as Americans did in 2018. They also vote en masse — contrary to “common wisdom” — in special elections like the one in Georgia that put two Democrats in the Senate. Our news media really didn’t see that coming because they — being cynical — thought the worst of Georgia’s electorate. When our news media tells us what terrible voters we are, we tend to behave like terrible voters. When they tell us we’re good voters, well — they’re usually behind that curve.

Why did Americans lose their civic pride? Why did Americans stop educating themselves about their own government when their form of government DEMANDS their participation — and therefore their education in HOW to self-govern? Self governing still doesn’t come naturally to human beings. It’s something we have to work at — hard. But you have to keep reminding yourself of all the steps it takes. It’s not unlike playing tennis. Want to have a good ground stroke? It’s all about the fundamentals regardless of the ball coming at you. If all you do is react to the ball — rather than attack it fundamentally, the will will own you. Your ground stroke will be late and it will suck.

Democracy is a contact sport that demands our involvement if we want it to work. And the overwhelming majority of Americans WANT democracy to work. We don’t understand the question, in fact. In fact, we don’t want — and did not vote for — the authoritarian alternative the Republicans and their Russian pals imposed upon us in 2016. Here again, it’s the originalists who are dancing with Russia because even though Russia is a hostile foreign government, all-white originalism lines up with all white Russia and Vladimir Putin’s dreams of a renewed Crusades to take back the Holy Land. Think that’s nuts? It’s for real. Ask Steve Bannon. It’s why Bannon had no issue with Donald Trump hitching America’s wagon to Russia’s: because Steve’s bizarre, Jesus-was-a-white-guy version of Christianity says this must be.

Ah, but the “common wisdom” — even though it heard Bannon and reported on Bannon and even talked about Bannon in their talking head discussions — says this is “just how it is!” Of course certain Republicans think like this and, when in power, of course they do everything they can to manifest their craziness in our reality. Can you feel the cynicism?

Through nearly a year of Trump’s candidacy, four years of his presidency and, now, nearly nine months of his post-presidency, our news media has treated this abomination as if it was normal. As perverse and outlandish as Trumpian pronouncements could be, our news media — rather than saying “Hey, that’s really perverse and outlandish — I’m digging in my heels right here!”, shrugged their shoulders and willingly moved on from “Mexicans are rapists” to “Pussy grabbing” – and then to “But, her emails!” because THAT, suddenly, became the story. As we know, there was zero “there” there. And it’s not as if our news media rushed back to their previous outrage to defend either Mexicans or women or any American.

A lot of “common wisdom” stays that way not because it’s wise but because people keep repeating it. “Common wisdom” doesn’t know what to do with people being woke because “common wisdom” — being conservative — cannot tolerate wokeness; all new information threatens the old information’s validity. If some of that “old information” is “white guys are superior to everyone else and therefore deserve to govern and have all the money”, well, you can see how those believing it would be mightily threatened by those who don’t. That, in a nutshell, is America’s dilemma. The rich white, Christian men are unwilling to share power or money. Like Charlton Heston’s gun, it will have to be plucked from their cold, dead fingers. Metaphorically speaking, of course

From the moment our news media finally agreed that Joe Biden fairly and squarely beat Trump — while taking back the Senate — they’ve pointed to the “common wisdom” that off year elections are always catastrophic for the newly elected president. Yes, that’s based on plenty of history. But none of that history is remotely like now.

That’s another of “common wisdom’s” blind spots — the assumption that nothing ever changes. That we live in a constant whose circumstances repeat endlessly. That is the world conservatives dream of. It’s the world they want to bamboozle us all into thinking “is”. It isn’t. Human beings evolve and change and adapt. And they get woke, too.

The moment Trump became potus, America changed. Rather, change was forced upon America and either we were going to accept that change — a right wing power grab aided by a hostile foreign power actively engaged in a cyber war against us — or we were going to reject it. This is the stone cold realpolitik reality. A fearful white minority is trying to hold onto power forever via permanent minority rule. Elements of this fearful mindset have been actively suppressing Democratic voters and gerrymandering elections for a generation at least, the point being to deny the diverse majority its rightful vote and voice.

Only white people could possibly look at the current political landscape and think “do nothing”. Literally every other group is more keenly aware than ever of the threat white people pose to them and to the very notion of America. But, alas, that sentiment, true as it is, flies in the face of the “common wisdom” that says 2022 is an off year election so therefore give it to the Republicans because that’s how it always is.

Yo, America’s news media — trust me on this: nothing about the Trump candidacy, presidency or post presidency is or was normal. That’s not “just because”. It’s because Trump entered the political stage already an international criminal compromised by other international criminals. The Republican Party itself KNEW before they formally nominated Trump that this was true. They said so out loud amongst themselves. As current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it in 2016 at a leadership meeting held a month before the party nominated Trump: “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” That, American News Media, is not NORMAL. Doing nothing in the face of such an accusation by one’s own party? NOT NORMAL!

In fact, cynical. To report such a story — as the Washington Post did a year later, its reporter having heard the RECORDING of the meeting — and not follow up until the question gets answered: why did everyone in that room of GOP leaders agree to keep this terrible information “in the family” rather than call the FBI to report it? Want to know how every Republican in the room could persist and how our news media could report it and not become laser focused on getting to the bottom of it? Cynicism.

If our news media were doing the job imagined for them in the Constitution, they’d be We The People’s final line of defense against unbridled political power. They wouldn’t be political power’s propagandist of choice. That’s what access journalism (the brand practiced too often during the Trump years) creates: news compromised by the access required to get that “news”. It becomes “sales” instead.

I dare the news media to point at one positive benefit voting Republican could do for anyone except for indulging their hatefulness and ignorance. Would voting Republican in Florida or Texas or South Dakota alleviate the pandemic’s onslaught on those mask and vaccination mandate-free states? No, in fact, continuing to vote Republican will exacerbate this tragedy. Yet, cynically, our news media insists that — because 2022 is a mid-term election, Americans will “naturally” pull the lever for Republicans because “we need something different!” or “the other party is more motivated”. True, Trumpanistas may feel motivated — but that’s only if they’re not dying from COVID-19 as more and more now are. To assert — because “common wisdom” — that stupid, sick Americans will show up en masse while healthy, woke Americans won’t is to mis-read the landscape even worse than the news media did in 2018. If you go back and look at the “video tape” of 2018, our news media were determined that Donald Trump was going to win that night big.

He did not. In fact, the exact opposite happened, “common wisdom” notwithstanding.

In the “common wisdom’s” defense, it’s easy to keep in your pocket, even easier to pull out and put down on the table. No one ever was called out because they went with the common wisdom. Until now. There’s a terrible “come to Jesus” moment in our news media’s future. We The People will absolutely prevent the Republican Party from destroying American democracy because doing that is in our best interest while succumbing to the GOP’s authoritarian power grab isn’t. Life’s really that simple. While, sure, fascism overcame even the “good Germans” as it took over Germany, Germany was almost entirely homogenous. Everyone succumbing to Hitler’s totalitarianism was German going back a thousand years. Going along to get along with the tribe was hard-wired. Fascism didn’t work as successfully in France because the French — after a thousand years of becoming French — don’t act the same way.

America presents an entirely different set of circumstances especially since the majority of Americans are NOT part of the same tribe, or even the same culture. Our culture is still very much in its formative stages in large part because something like America — where all these cultures come together, some blending, others not — has never happened before in human history. E Pluribus Unum never happened before. And E Pluribus Unum is what’s now woke and waking up more and more.

Our news media doesn’t see it because they still don’t see us. They’re corporate, most of them, don’t forget. They step on set having been educated in a corporate way of thinking (“both sides do it”) and relying on playing the corporate game to keep the money flowing. They’re invested in the “common wisdom” without even knowing it. And, so, they report what (maybe) was as if it was what “is”.

Cynicism cannot tolerate perspective just like perspective cannot tolerate cynicism. Americans cannot tolerate Republicanism the way our bodies cannot tolerate the coronavirus. Like that deadly virus, Republicanism’s goal is to invade a citizen’s soul like a virus invades their cells, turning them into it. The cure is simple: vaccination. Up here in the political sphere, that manifests as information. Perspective. Why would anyone vote for Republicans when voting for them produces nothing good (not even for them)?

They wouldn’t. A news media with perspective would report it that way.

America’s Exceptionalism — Its DIVERSITY — Will Save Us From The GOP’s Authoritarian Power Grab

In his indispensable book “On Tyranny”, Timothy Snyder lays out the fairly predictable tick tock that democracies experience while succumbing to authoritarianism. It’s impossible not to see us well into that experience. Someone claiming to tweet for German film maker Werner Herzog put it this way (Herzog doesn’t do social media: the tweet itself is spot on in its thinking regardless of who really tweeted it):

The lack of literal accuracy aside (a third v a third v a third), that is how authoritarianism ultimately works. A minority of the population declares war on another minority of the population and uses the rest of the population to achieve that goal. In a place like Germany, that was easy to accomplish since the authoritarian minority — Hitler and his acolytes — were going after a genuine minority (and an isolated minority at that) — the Jews. The rest of Germany had zero investment or interest in protecting Jews from the authoritarian minority since, in the eyes of those Germans, the Jews were outsiders anyway. Screw em! Hitler’s brown shirts also were aided in their rise by the general nature of the German character. That “character” was forged over the course of a thousand or so years by the various Germanic tribes — the same ones that brought down Rome — slowly melting together (with a few localized idiosyncrasies) into the nationality we recognize as “German”. The same thing happened across the border in France. Since the end of WWII, Italy has had 66 governments (that’s one every 1.14 years); that’s because Italy is still less a country than a contrived federation of city-states — the same city-states they’ve been for 1500 years; only fascism could hold the federation together). Back in Germany, that thousand years of fusing together produced a “German tribe” with certain distinct and distinctive attributes — like a willingness to go along with the group because it’s the group.

America hasn’t been around anywhere near long enough for that complex process to happen — for a coming together of disparate local tribes to form a true national character. Never mind judging America for what it was or is — that’s like judging a little kid’s future based on what that little kid (precocious as it is) has accomplished so far. It’s premature actually. My suspicion is America is still the diamond before the pressure of the surrounding rocks turns a bunch of carbon into valuable crystals. We’re still a great idea poorly executed. What else can one call “All men are created equal” when “all men” only includes white, Christian, land-owning MEN. Oh, right — we call it “originalism”.

The crisis we’re in flows directly from white panic and rage. Having built the entire southern economy on the back of slave labor, the whites getting rich off that economy were not going to surrender their claim to power just because Lee surrendered their army at Appomattox. The Confederate Army may have shuffled off into history, Confederate ardor, as we know, did not. And Confederate ardor is pure, unadulterated racism. This has always been the wellspring from which undemocratic and anti-democratic ideas flowed — the desire to keep America white (like it “used to be”).

The Right Wing’s money — the Kochs, the Mercers and the rest of their ilk — turns up its nose at such overt racism. They’d never sport a Confederate flag. But they sure do love the Confederacy’s ideals. And the Confederacy’s whiteness. Our founders were racists who sacrificed their higher ideals because they thought one could negotiate with racists and racism. You can’t. Racism automatically won because racism NEVER compromises — especially when it’s riding a cash cow. As the Reagan era — that “shining, racist g city on a hill” — ended with a whimper, the right wing money saw demographic doom ahead. The GOP had finally evolved from the Party Of Lincoln into the exclusively white, Southern-Strategy-Dixiecrat Party. That party, per the recent census, is shrinking. That is, it’s membership pool is shrinking.

What’s a white’s only political party to do in a country that’s diversifying as rapidly as America was and is? If you’re white guys, you do what white guys have historically done back in the white homeland, Europe: you turn fascist. You circle the white wagons around your whiteness and you count on everyone else’s whiteness to pull most of the white population together defensively. It always works.

But, the white guys in America have a problem the white guys in Europe never had: a majority population who ISN’T them. That doesn’t have their collective history. That has zero interest in white guys behaving like bullies, monsters and fascists. In other words, the very “third” the authoritarian Republican third is counting on to do their dirty work simply doesn’t exist in America. Instead of a a sea of compliant white people dully staring back at them, America’s authoritarians see diversity. They see the thing that really and truly makes America EXCEPTIONAL. The thing that never happened in any country in the world before in human history: a gathering of tribes to form a single nation: E Pluribus Unum.

Out of many, one.

E Pluribus Unum was the ingredient missing from all previous authoritarian power grabs. It made the power grab not only possible but likely to succeed. Add that ingredient to the GOP’s power grab and their likelihood of success plunges because there’ll be no minority to stand by silently while the GOP bullies all those other minorities. And all those minorities the Republicans are counting on quietly bullying into submission? They’ve banded together — into a majority! Because that is how democracy works.

If the Republicans do somehow bludgeon their way back into power, they’ll have a massive insurrection of their own to fend off — a democratic insurrection dedicated to wiping out their authoritarian (wet) dream state. And the authoritarians, armed to the teeth, can’t take a whole lot of comfort in being armed to the teeth. This is America. Everyone is armed to the teeth right along with them. And the Right Wing better not count on having America’s professional soldier class in their corner.

These are terrifying times — no argument. But we can project ahead based both on history and how it is on the ground right here in reality. It’s already too late for white male hegemony to succeed long term in America. It was too late at the country’s founding. The majority’s wokeness cannot be un-woked. Every other group now grasps what the radical whites are up to and we will never, ever go along with it.

As I said, America’s diversity is its exceptionalism. It’s also our saving grace, too.

Republicans Are The Spoiled Children Of American Politics

Here in America, our family motto is E Pluribus Unum — out of many, one. It’s the good news and the bad news all wrapped up on one. The majority of the family has figured out that the family really and truly does best when more of the family prospers versus when, say, only a few members of the family prosper. As anyone born into a multi-child family will tell you, birth order matters in strange ways. It creates odd expectations and artificial friction depending on where in the birth order one was birthed and how the family one was birthed into itself thinks about the importance of birth order.

Republicans like to think that because Northern European, Christian, white men synthesized, articulated and memorialized various ideals plucked from the French Enlightenment into our founding documents (while failing to live up to those very same ideals) that THEY and only THEY should forever be the “keepers” of that “founding flame”. That IS what “originalism” is all about. It’s a first-born male child thinking he personally did something to make himself that first-born male child. It’s George W. Bush being born on third base and thinking he’d hit a triple. “Here’s how it was when WE wrote it up the way WE wanted it to be; how it was then is how it must forever be — because we say so”.

Imagine writing “All men are created equal” while actually meaning only “white, Protestant, Christian, land-owning men with Northern European roots”. That bit of ignorant, cultural hegemony happened in spite of the new, expansive thinking inspired by the French Enlightenment. But then, ideals never drove the quest to settle North America, making a lot of money did. Once Europe realized that North America was a thing and not just a passageway to the Far East, their mandate was to exploit it for the benefit of their royal and commercial sponsors. And, exploit it they did. By the time these Europeans began agreeing that “All men are created equal”, they’d already been living on and claiming title to property that wasn’t theirs for well over a hundred years. Not too, too long thereafter, they’d articulate that bit of bullshit as “Manifest Destiny”.

The thing though about growing families? They’re dynamic by nature. They change. They evolve. Though they start as one thing, they become something else over time via intermarriage with other families from other cultures. Our individual genomes are good at matching up dominant gene traits so as to perpetuate them in the collective genome. While a degree of specialization can be a good thing in a family’s genetic makeup, that can be a trap, too. We’re really not meant to inter-breed with family. Unless we think turning into the Spanish aristocracy’s a good thing.

What makes America exceptional — American Exceptionalism is a very real thing — is our E Pluribus Unum diversity. It’s the whole rest of the family that both arrived here in time but who also were born here same as the arrogant white men who assume that they’re being born here matters more. Think of how much better the American family would be if one of its family members didn’t keep threatening to blow up station wagon with all of us inside it.

I don’t know about you, but the image I keep getting in my head every time I hear a Republican lie or dissemble about their stone cold intention to destroy our democracy is of a spoiled little boy, his arms folded arrogantly across his chest, his lip thrust forward defiantly. He’s saying something like “You’re not the boss of me” or “I like beer” or “Stop the steal”.

The GOP Is A Party Of Bullies

Bullies: A ‘Class’ Photo

Bullies and bullying are a universal evil.  If bullying ended at the schoolyard gate, that would be bad enough but, as we all know, bullying doesn’t stop there.  The whole schoolyard follows us through life — with bullies getting to be bullies forever like Hook-ified versions of Peter Pan.  Donald Trump is the worst kind of schoolyard bully.  He’s the kind who never gets his well manicured, teeny-tiny hands dirty.  He gets other people to get THEIR hands dirty on Donald’s behalf.    That’s why, even though they despised Trump as he tore through their primary in 2016, the Republicans, deep down, not only admired Trump, they aspired to be him.  Not just a bully, an uber-bully.  And, let’s not forget, when the Republicans made Trump their nominee in 2016, they did it KNOWING that Trump was owned outright by ANOTHER mega-bully, Vladimir PutinCurrent GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy said so out loud a month before the nominating convention to a roomful of the Republican leadership.

Let’s stay in that room a few moments longer.  A person the whole room TRUSTS has just entered and announced that he suspects their presidential nominee is OWNED by the head of state of a hostile foreign government.  That really happened.  Yet no one IN that room seemed surprised — or overly bothered by its sheer illegality.  Or — worse yet — by the implications of nominating a person to the presidency who could be EVEN REMOTELY compromised by, of all countries, RUSSIA!  Let’s assume (for argument’s sake) that everyone in the room understood just HOW illegal this would be.  We’re talking treason.  Stone cold treason.  And yet, STILL, no one in the room objected to the direction they were all heading: toward nominating a foreign intelligence asset to be president.  What could possibly cause people to go there?  This isn’t just some cold political calculation, this is crawling into bed and snuggling up with a country we’ve been at war with (one way or another) for 100 years — ever since the Communists took control and turned Old Russia into the Soviet Union.

People who like authoritarians also like bullies.  They have no use for democracy because democracy is entirely unpredictable while authoritarianism isn’t.  They prefer leadership that tells rather than asks its constituency what’s going to happen.  They prefer it that politicians pick their electorate rather than the other — proper — way around.  Conservatism, by its nature, fosters bullying.  Most of us exist in a world that, while aspiring to equality and equity and all those good things, fails considerably.  We maintain those aspirations however; we demand them now.  We won’t rest until the playing field is certifiably level.  Conservatism on the other hand relies on the playing field remaining exactly as it is.  THAT is what conservatism wants to conserve — the status quo — and the status quo favors white people over everyone else.

Bullies then are the status quo’s “enforcers”.  While the rest of us recoil whenever we hear bullying, bullies hear a clarion call to bully more.  If people are complaining about being bullied, that can only mean a bully is succeeding somewhere at his objective.  By the same token, you really can’t bully people into progress.  It’s too vague a target.  Its goal is too antithetical to bullying; if you had to bully to get there, you can’t get there!

It’s like “cheating to win”.  If you cheat to win, then by the rules, you did not “win”.  How can one “win” without following the rules?  This is an argument America needs to have with itself if it wants to remain a democratic republic.  Either the rule of law is or it isn’t.  We’ve experimented with following it half-way and we very nearly went under.  We’re still in treacherous waters.  Cheating cannot be just another “campaign tactic” that campaigns run when their ideas aren’t selling.  The moment anyone steps outside the rules in order to win, both they and their “win” (if they succeeded in cheating) must be voided.  The cheater’s win is wiped off the books, the cheater gets prosecuted and everyone who helped the cheater cheat gets punished as well and — like the cheater — banned from ever participating in an American election ever again (except as a voter so long as they’re not actively doing time).  

But, our news media — always happy to oblige bullshit and give it maximum credence — insists that cheating to win IS just “another way to ‘win’ election” in America. 

This simply cannot be.  It’s a lie no country can live and survive — like saying “All men are created equal” out of one side of your mouth while bidding on slaves out the other side.  Holding two contrary thoughts in your head is one thing.  Having a country that tries to live them is, we keep learning, a recipe for disaster.  It leads to Civil War.  It leads to a country that STILL nurtures white supremacy even as it demonstrates the remarkable advantages and benefits of e pluribus unum.  America’s exceptionalism — and it really does exist — is its diversity.  Nowhere before among humans had a country formed (countries being relatively novel things) that, rather than being made up of one extensive national tribe was made up of ALL the various national tribes, all trying to make a go of it TOGETHER, not in their home countries but there — IN AMERICA. E pluribus unum — out of many, ONE.

In order to succeed as part of the many, one must be open-minded to who the “many” are and what each group’s particular habits are.  This is not an exact science.  There is no “book” on how to do it, we ARE the book.  We’re writing it in real time.  Because that’s how reality works. 

Bullies don’t care for reality.  Outside the schoolyard, justice lurks.  The really talented bullies bring the schoolyard with them wherever they go.  By sucking others into their schoolyard, they expand their schoolyard and thus their environment for bullying.  To his credit, Trump has a remarkable ability to expand his schoolyard.  Also to his credit, being a lesser bully, he recognizes that Vlad Putin is a class of bully he will never be.  Ah, but a bully like Trump can dream, can’t he?

Trump didn’t just admire every dictator on the planet, he wanted to be them.  As we’re now learning, toward the end of his presidency, Trump really and truly wanted to declare martial law.  He wanted to use the military (which, oh, the irony, the Republicans have now turned on) to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.  The ultimate act of bullying in a democratic society — the complete denial of the society’s right to govern itself.  THEY will govern.  They and their pals.

Bullies are especially good at screaming about being bullied when justice finally gets ahold of them. 

This is something the bullied need to learn about bullies.  They rely on our fairness.  They count on our sympathy.  Their goal is to NEVER take responsibility for what they’ve done — another kind of bullying.  In the same way, rapists behave like rapists in everything they do.  Inside their heads, they feel entitled to be anywhere they want — including inside your most personal space.  Rapists are just bullies with their dicks in their hands.  If they had any capacity to empathize, they would not be bullies to begin with.  We cannot appeal to their humanity as they have none.  What we can “appeal to” however is their wallet.  Heartless and soulless as every racist is, their wallet pumps with vital “life blood” — money.  Threaten even the hardiest racist’s wallet and he, too, will melt into a puddle of pure white Jello. 

At that meeting a month before the GOP nominated Trump in 2016, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan corralled the room quickly.  Whatever unease some might have felt at the prospect of a hostile foreign government having a viable hold on a future POTUS, they agreed with Ryan’s admonition for them all to keep this secret — that none of them questioned — a secret among them.  “That’s how we  know we’re family,” said SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE Paul Ryan.

Know what kind of “families” talk like that?  Know what those families are “famous for”?  Hint-hint: it starts with the letter “B”.

 

As Big Business Is Learning — When Your “Customer Base” Is The American Voter, YOU Are The Marketplace’s Bitch

It’s a brave new world for Delta Airlines. And Coca Cola. And Home Depot. And anyone doing business with the state of Georgia while Georgia is being run by democracy-hating traitors. Their problem: the marketplace is the ultimate democracy where people vote with the dollars in their pockets. Popular goods and services get more “votes” than unpopular ones (just like in high school). Even good ideas can die, unloved, if they can’t find (or maintain) their marketplace. Ask Sony about its Betamax video recorder which was technically superior to JVC’s VHS format yet ultimately lost out to in the marketplace. In the marketplace of ideas, JVC won big while Sony lost even bigger. The marketplace made Sony its bitch.

The assumption is, in a crony capitalist system like ours, the money always wins and We The People are only ever its pawn at best. While that is the goal of crony capitalism — to turn the whole country into a kind of glorified “company town” (itself a kind of glorified feudalism) — ironically, the “capitalism” part of the equation is what exposes crony capitalism’s Achilles heel. The whole point of capitalism is to make money dynamic because money didn’t always used to be dynamic like it is today. We take for granted that one can use money to make money but prior to capitialism’s invention, money sat in the same places with the same families forever and ever. Those families — Europe’s royal houses — did not think to “do” anything with their money. Money was land or livestock — or literal gold or silver — with no way to “bank” it. The only way to “grow” money was through direct lending — and lending money was considered unChristian. That’s why Jews got to do it (and be hated for it). Capitalism expanded the “acceptable ways” to both borrow money and profit from borrowing it.

Capitalism also made ideas valuable in a bankable sense. Thomas Edison’s inventions made him rich because he was able to patent them — an idea that recognized the inherent monetary value of good ideas. American democracy — as a salable idea — also has done very, very well. Despite four long years of Trumpism, people still flock to America — or want to because regardless of whatever squalor or hopelessness they live, their one shot out of that lies somewhere within America’s borders (regardless of who’s president). The core concept of America. “All men being equal” was compromised by what the founders meant by “All men”. That was always a terrible mistake, a product of European, male chauvinism.

Fortunately, time and history have begun to save America from itself. The E Pluribus Unum “Good Angel” of our nature has begun to assert itself over the “America Is The White Homeland” bad angel. That bad angel never knew what he was talking about. He still thinks he’s “American Exceptionalism” — well, the money in his pocket that’s always been there. Some of the founders understood that what would ultimately make America exceptional was the fact of its already burgeoning diversity. Nowhere before in the world had a nation formed itself with the promise of self-government. That idea coupled with the willingness of those arriving to work hard as hell to achieve their dreams made America exceptional by filling it with exceptional people from all over the world. That is American Exceptionalism.

For too, too long, all those exceptional people have been muzzled by the white, Christian males who somehow got it into their heads that they were the drivers of the American experiment. Yeah, it’s money that does the talking all right, but it’s not the big money that makes things happen. It’s the little money in every American’s pocket times the number of Americans there are. In American households, how one “votes” that money has been controlled by the household’s women for a while now. The proof? Remember Bill O’Reilly?

O’Reilly used to be Fox News’ cash cow. O’Reilly even survived some serious sexual intimidation allegations to stay at Fox (“Remember the loofah!”). But, at some point, O’Reilly’s sexist behavior achieved a kind of critical mass. The companies that advertised on his show were the canary in that coal mine. The advertisers informed Fox News that their clients — Coca Cola, Ford, Delta Airlines, etc — would no longer advertise on O’Reilly’s show because their customers — Coca Cola, Ford, Delta Airlines, etc — already recognized how much their customers hated O’Reilly and would soon enough stop buying products associated with him out of sheer disgust. Co-branding with Bill O’Reilly became toxic. The house of cards came down in a heartbeat — the 21st Century Fox Board informed O’Reilly he was now an ex-employee.

Big Business has always known who the “boss” is. That’s why they advertise, right? In the “who needs who more?” competition, in time, we can learn to love a competing brand. They can love “other customers” all they like. If those customers don’t buy, so what? Do boycotts work? Hell, yes. So does the threat of a boycott. That’s why the CEO’s of Coca Cola and Delta changed their tune so quickly. While both Coke and Delta have plenty of competition, they both have their market share — the customer base they think of as “theirs”. Take the brand loyalty out of a Coke drinker and you have a Pepsi drinker. Or a Royal Crown fan.

Is Coca Cola: The “Official Soft Drink” of Democracy or of Sedition?

As anyone who’s ever achieved success can tell you — yeah, getting to the mountain top is a job-and-a-half. But, it’s nothing compared to the relentless, quotidian grind of maintaining that success. Big Business craves monopoly because having a monopoly means you don’t have to spend much on marketing or product improvement while maximizing profits. They’d all love to turn America into a giant, feudal “company town”. Good thing some other Americans have a better idea.

Coke and Delta quickly changed their public stance regarding the Republican Party’s blatant attempt to make election theft legal. They felt Bill O’Reilly’s fetid breath on the back of their neck and they didn’t like it one bit.

We The People have considerable power in our hands but only if we use it. Unused power is power that doesn’t exist. It’s the ultimate “put up or shut up”. America’s right wing was so terrified of losing power that they were willing to co-conspire with Russia in order to keep that power. They had long ago given up on keeping power through the strength of their ideas. Aside from them, no one else wants to live in America circa 1850. The majority of Americans keep voting America toward progressivism while its political structures (the Electoral College and the Senate) keep America rooted in the past.

As more voters step from the sidelines and into the electoral game, America (once thought of as “center-right”) becomes increasingly center-left. We’re not actually “becoming” center-left, we’re being REVEALED as center-left. Not the same thing. The big difference between the left and the right has to do with emphasis. Are you “profits over people” or “people over profits”? Conservatives, for the most part, are profit-driven while progressives are people-driven. At the end of the day however, it’s people who drive profits. Take away the people, there’d be no profits.

As we all know, every time we walk into a crowded room (remember those), a game of “Who’s The Bitch” is up and running. Someone in that room is the room’s “bitch” — the one person there who literally everyone else looks down on. We all search that room, hoping like hell we don’t find ourselves staring back as the bitch. But, the painful truth is, it could be us.

Coke and Delta and Home Depot and all those other companies have finally realized that in the current environment, they’re not driving this bus. They’ve made the same old moves — talking “freedom” and “democracy” while paying for politicians bent on destroying them — only to discover too late that those moves don’t fool anyone anymore. Actions, not words, are the receipts. And We The People demand receipts!

Don’t have any receipts? You know how THAT game goes, Big Business, when you don’t have your damned receipt

Playing Fields Can’t Level Themselves

The whole notion of “The American Dream” rests on the foundational idea that, in America, provided you’re willing to work your ass off, anyone (from anywhere) can make themselves and their future into whatever they want it to be. American exceptionalism flows from the fact that people from every other country on earth aspire (still) to get to America because of that tantalizing possibility. Then those same people — having achieved some part of their dream — invariably pay America back with not only their hard work but the products of that work — whether food, health care services or just great ideas. Immigration has always been essential to America’s exceptionalism. But, some Americans don’t want just anyone to achieve the American Dream. Because economic success converts into political power, white people have worked hard — via racist legislation, voter suppression tactics and outright violence — to take any and all Black wealth before it can accumulate thereby denying them even the chance to walk onto the American playing field and play. The “playing field” in America has NEVER been level. How could it be when “All men are created equal” actually means some MEN are created equal and everyone else who isn’t white, male and Christian can go screw themselves?

White people love a level playing field when it’s been leveled for their benefit. White conservatism’s goal is to keep the playing field from ever being level. That’s what conservatism wants to “conserve” — how it was back when the playing field was at maximum tilt toward them. It’s not just advantage that succumbs to gravity — so, too, does all the money. It rolls straight downhill. Conservatives don’t want to chase it as it rolls, they want to be waiting for it at the bottom. That’s the Republican Party’s stated goal. It’s their clear intention with every anti-voting bill they shotgun at the wall in fear of what 2022 will bring. Not only did we not start with a level playing field here in America, one of our two political parties is actively engaged in doing everything in its power (including commit treason) to keep the playing field as it is — not just “unleveled” but violently unleveled. The whole point of Trumpism — which is really just Republicanism on steroids & powdered Adderall — is permanent minority rule. In other words, a playing field that can never be leveled ever againby design.

Accountability levels playing fields. That’s why Republicans don’t want it.

Fairness levels playing fields. Competition — real competition — levels playing fields. That’s really, what conservatives most want to avoid: competition. Especially in the marketplace of ideas since their idea — taking America back to the past — won’t sell to anyone else but conservatives, racists and Trumpanistas. If Republicans thought they could sell their ideas, they’d sell them. Republicans after all excel at marketing. “Trickle down economics” is pure marketing. It’s bullshit, too. “Mission Accomplished” was marketing and nothing but. Remember “Compassionate conservatism”? Hurts just to think the words together, doesn’t it? That was marketing at its most diabolically cynical.

Republicans arrive at the stadium knowing their only path to “victory” is through cheating so, first, they set about hobbling Team Democrat’s ability to assemble and suit up their team via voter suppression tactics (a thing both sides absolutely DON’T do — Democrats don’t even think of suppressing Republican voters). Then, the Republicans work the refs hard. They commit every foul in the book, deny they did anything, but assure the refs that the Democrats were doing it. They assure the refs that their flagrant twos to the head are the same as the Democrats accidentally stepping out of bounds while taking a corner three. See? Both sides “break the rules”! And our news media nods its head — yeah, both things are “outside the rules” so “both sides do it”. But, remember, the playing field was un-leveled when everyone stepped onto it. It was especially un-leveled this time because Russia was sitting at one end — waiting for America to finish tumbling into Russia’s open maw.

We’re sitting, today, in the “float” between Trump’s perverted Department of Justice and the refurbished, rejuvenated and returned-to-its-core-principles Department of Justice that Merrick Garland will helm once he’s confirmed by the Senate — a process that starts tomorrow. The DoJ has already begun finding its equilibrium again as the lifers who hung on by their fingernails during the Trump-Sessions-Rosenstein-Barr years step forward, asserting normalcy as they formally await new leadership to clock in. Garland has already stated publicly that he will prosecute white supremacy as terrorism. That, all by itself, is a game changer. But, it’s what happens as Garland’s DoJ pulls those white supremacy threads that will undo the entire, corrupt, treasonous Republican Christmas sweater.

The January 6 Insurrection dot connects to the white supremacy dot. The white supremacy dot connects to the Roger Stone and Mike Flynn dots which connect to the Donald Trump dot. But, the pandemic dot ALSO will connect to the Insurrection dot (I betcha they wondered aloud in the Trump WH — which someone will testify to under oath) if it would make it easier to roll America via insurrection if America was weakened by a non-existent pandemic response. We already know Russia had an interest in keeping America weak. The Russia dot, we’ll learn — after Merrick Garland’s DoJ resurrects the counter-intelligence investigation into Trump’s relationship with Russia that Rod Rosenstein quashed — connects, one way or another, to pretty much everything.

If we want this playing field leveled, we’re going to have to level it ourselves. We’re going to have to remain vigilant once it’s as close to leveled as we can get it (keeping in mind there will always be resistance) by electing people committed to getting the playing field leveled. Every attempt to un-level the field — as the Republicans are doing all over America with a raft of new anti-voting laws — needs to be met with not merely resistance but rage focused back on them with white hot, laser-like intensity.

The bottom line is so simple: the fairer the game, the better the outcome for all and the more Americans “win”.

There Really Are People Who Dream Of A World Without Jews — Many Call Themselves “Republicans”

Jews know what it’s like to be “tolerated”. It’s not the most comfortable place to sit. The ground beneath is unreliable. It can shift at any second. Black and brown and Asian people in America all know what that’s like, too. That’s why some of us try to assimilate. We want to transition from “tolerated” to “accepted” by the larger, white society. In America, Jews have benefited somewhat from our “white adjacent” status — we look just enough like white people on the outside to get slightly better treatment from them; for one thing, Jews were permitted to accumulate and keep most of the wealth we accumulated here in America. Black people especially have not had that experience. Their wealth has been continually stripped from them. For what it’s worth, if the Jews were still living in the Old Days of Europe? They’d know exactly how Black Americans feel about that, too.

In the Old World, the pattern was “allow the Jews to accumulate wealth while holding the nation’s debt (usury being completely un-Christian) until such a time as the Kingdom seizes all the Jews’ wealth and nullifies any debt legally owed them. That was probably what kept Old Europe from coming to a Final Solution earlier. They were like the guy in the old joke who tells the psychiatrist his crazy brother thinks he’s a chicken. They’d take him to therapy to try and help him but they need the eggs. They might have gone and wiped out all the Jews but then, who’d do the dirty but necessary business of holding their debt?

Every human culture on earth has, within it, the potential for greatness. Every human culture — if given the same chances to learn, imagine, innovate and create would, in time, solve most of our problems because human beings, by their nature, are problem-solvers. While a few of us are a tiny bit smarter than all the rest of us (and a good thing too), most humans, left to their own devices, would, in time, muster the brain power to figure it out. It’ll be that or die. Some cultures have continually excelled at figuring things out while others have figured things out for a brief, golden moment before sinking back into confusion.

In his lecture “Beyond Belief”, given back in the early 2000’s in the aftermath of 9-11, astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse-Tyson made a whole bucket of excellent, interesting points. He talked about “naming rights” after then president George W. Bush insisted that white culture had named the stars. No, actually, a lot of the stars have Arabic names since they were first identified by Arab navigators who were inventing celestial navigation. DeGrasse-Tyson reminds us that between 800 – 1100 AD, Baghdad was the center of world learning, an “open city” where people of every stripe came to trade spices and goods but also ideas.

Algebra was invented then. It’s an Arabic word. Same goes for algorithms. Medicine advanced significantly during that period. And then, as DeGrasse-Tyson tells it, a Muslim cleric named Al-Ghazali shows up and makes the pronouncement that “Mathematics is the language of the Devil”. The man literally demonizes math. Nothing good whatsoever can come of that — and, intellectually speaking, that denial of math would ripple through Arab culture for a thousand years and counting. The dogma of its faith over-rode the greatness of its thinking. This is not the first time that’s happened, is it?

Jews, on the other hand, DeGrasse-Tyson points out, did not succumb to any sort of religion-caused mass hysteria event (like a papal schism or a holy war or a Crusade). They put their minds to solving problems and answering perplexing questions. Plenty of them happily spoke the language of math. They won plenty of Nobel Prizes for their hard work. DeGrasse-Tyson points out that relative to their size relative to the human population as a whole, Jews have won an inordinate number of scientific Nobel Prizes (hundreds) while Arabs (a far larger part of the human family) have won three. DeGrasse-Tyson’s point isn’t to denigrate Arabs and their culture, it’s to point out that thinking scientifically is not alien to them — not at all. That, given the chance, Arabs would almost certainly have represented themselves better than they did.

There are plenty of cultures that value education above almost anything else. They recognize that the best way to give their children the best chance to succeed is to educate them. Americans don’t necessarily agree. Correction — some Americans. While not all cultures fight to make secondary education a part of all Americans’ education, it’s only white people who actively work to to deny secondary education to huge swaths of the population. First, they actively work to keep it expensive (the student loan business is incredibly lucrative). Then they work to keep it exclusive. If you don’t think some Americans would bring slavery back if they could, you’re looking at some other America.

Take Black people out of America, you don’t have America. Though slavery will forever be a blight on the idea of America, we need to celebrate — and learn from — how African Americans reacted to being enslaved here. White America could learn a lot about perseverance and loyalty to an idea. They could learn a lot about what America is really about, too — and what it means to actually BE American. In spite of being treated, well, like slaves, Black Americans have given American life vitality, art, innovation, scientific breakthroughs and all around greatness. So has Latino culture and each of the various Asian cultures. That diversity, in fact, is what makes America “America”. It’s at the heart of American Exceptionalism — a very real thing when allowed to shine.

America IS exceptional because something happened here that never happened anywhere else on the planet before. Whereas it took French people the better part of a thousand years to slowly transition from a bunch of tribes living in what’s now “France” into “French People” (same goes for every other country in Europe), aside from Native Americans (and if not for European diseases wiping them out, they might still be part of this equation), America had no slowly evolving local culture to call its own. All the nations of Europe actively engaged in exploring the planet saw the potential for profit in America. That’s what they came here in search of — not some democratic ideal or notion of human self-government.

The idealism beneath America’s founding — stripped of its White Guy’s Only worldview — drew every other nation’s people. America represented something revolutionary — the very real potential for self-reinvention (provided one was rich enough or willing to work hard enough). That was the draw — not white guys and their money. The potential do be whatever you want to be — whoever you are.

A few years back we regularly did “Days Without Latinos” to demonstrate to white people what their lives would be like if all the Latino men and women vanished from them. Spoiler alert — it didn’t go so well for the white people. An awful lot of our fruits and vegetables get picked by Latino migrant labor. Alabama learned the hard way a few years back what happens when you’re stupid (racist) enough to stop all that migrant labor from picking your crops: they don’t get picked. Theirs is a job most Americans refuse to do. Alabama lost an entire crop in 2002. The financial hit was brutal. How did Forrest Gump put it? “Stupid is as stupid does”? Yeah — that.

America would be a fourth world dump without the contributions made by Black people. And Latino people. And Asian people and Jewish people. America needs every contribution from every tribe here in order to do what it does and be what it is. The Republican Party would deny every bit of it.

That’s the funniest part of the joke (though it definitely isn’t haha funny) — white supremacy begins with the entirely false premise that white people could be “supreme” — better than all others. Um, no. Sorry, white people — you’re not “supreme”. That’s not to say you, too, haven’t made some very good contributions to humanity and human history. Hey — penicillin? A white guy (English) invented that! The telephone? White guy (Scottish)! The Ponzi Scheme? A white guy (named Charles Ponzi)!

Republicans have it in their heads that “they alone can fix it”. I’d focus in on the word “fix”. What does a Republican mean by “fix it”? “Fix” how and fix “what”?

All of us who aren’t white people look at white people differently from how white people look at us. For starters, we don’t look at white people like they’re cockroaches; that’s a luxury we don’t have. And, unlike white people who imagine a world free of us, we don’t imagine a world free of them. Frankly, it’d be impossible — there’s just to many of them.

But, confession, some of us do contemplate a world less dominated by white people and their racist way of seeing everything. “Jews will not replace us” is a strange chant to begin with. Replace them doing what? I bet, given a shot, most every Jew could replace them — that’s why they’re chanting. Frankly, it would be nice to live in a world where white racism, bigotry and ignorance didn’t feature constantly.

That’s the world the rest of us wish we could experience — if just a little: a world without white people — abusing the rest of us.

Dear RW-ers: No, Freedom Is NOT Free; It Comes With Responsibilities

Listening to most RW-ers defend their ideals is starting to sound like a ten year old bully defending himself. “You’re not the boss of me” is what “freedom” sounds like in his ears. That might work as freedom if you live alone on an island. Put one other person there and “you’re not the boss of me” will cause problems almost immediately. Politics begins the instant two people have to negotiate with each other just so they can get through the day. Even two people trying to decide what to have for dinner are engaged in a political conversation. If both those people have “you’re not the boss of me” in their heads? They’ll never make good decisions together. They’ll never be happy. The fact is, they’ll never be free.

Freedom is imaginary to begin with. So is democracy. So are rights.

Each and every one is a human invention. No deity has bestowed any of this upon us. Trust me, if there IS a deity and that deity (with a whole freakin’ cosmos to worry about!) is worrying about piddly stuff like this? This universe needs a new deity with more deity-like priorities. Geez, whose mediocre idea of a god is this anyway? While we’re at it, unless anyone can demonstrably prove otherwise, God or gods are all human creations, too. The proof? That we think a deity with a whole freakin’ cosmos to worry about would worry about whether or a bunch of little, tiny humans “believe” in him. That’s not a deity, that’s a male in need of psychotherapy.

We have rights because we finally realized that we could give them to ourselves — that we didn’t need a god-appointed king to grant them. Like maintaining a republic (as Franklin said “If we can keep it”), maintaining our rights will demand vigilance, grit and resolve. There were forces then that sought to shut down what had just been created. The slavers always hated democracy because democracy and slavery are mutually exclusive propositions. Slavery cannot exist in a democracy. It can’t. That it did wasn’t a reflection on democracy, it’s a reflection on us — and our continuing willingness to compromise with evil.

America is still fighting about slavery. That’s a stone cold fact. Cotton and sugar cane were labor intensive businesses. They were all the south had to run their economy. The most expensive component? Labor — but only if you’re forced to pay for it.

Hey, what if you could get all that expensive labor “for free”? Okay, so the labor costs you nothing, but you’ll have to feed and clothe and house your free labor. Considering as you can feed them garbage, clothe them in rags and house them in squalor, the costs will be negligible compared to the profits. And that’s why slavery exists. Free labor. All the rest — the inhumanity, the families and lives destroyed, the murder and mayhem — those are all ripple effects. Stuff that “happens”.

The slaver sits on his verandah, believing he is living the “dream of democracy”, a free man making money. He’s confused. No, he’s wrong. Completely and utterly wrong. Being a pig or a bully isn’t freedom. It’s being a pig or a bully. Being a slave owner is the opposite of freedom — because everything the slave owner does contradicts other peoples’ freedom. That’s the problem — right there.

We have rights because we gave them to ourselves (well, white men, at first, gave them to other white men. Fortunately, we’ve begun to wise up to the scam the white men have been running. The genius of America is the thing that makes it unique among nations. Aside from Native Americans, America was not formed by tribes that lived here for a thousand years like the countries of Europe were. We are the product of all those European tribes — plus tribes from EVERYWHERE ELSE on the planet. THAT’S what makes America exceptional — we’re the only country that was formed from all the other countries. It is unfortunate (but fixable) that white people commandeered this country for its first 240+ years. White people are very clever — but they’re not the only clever people on earth. Pretty much every other tribe? They’re clever, too. And when you put all that multi-cultural, approach-problems-from-every-conceivable-angle kind of thinking to work — as we have, here in America? The results are like nothing else humans have created. As experiments in human self-government go? We’re worth preserving — but, adjustments are needed, urgently.

Already the idea of “civic education” is finding purchase. Good. America needs that. We need to stop thinking that flag-waving is patriotism. No, knowing and understanding how the Constitution works — THAT’S patriotism. Under Trump, we could have turned into a fascist shithole just like that — without changing our flag. The Constitution would have ceased to be despite the stars n stripes’ endurance. See how that works? The piece of colored cloth is actually quite meaningless whereas the Constitution…

Among the first things we’ll need to teach the generations of Americans to follow is how valuable their rights are — how special. But, we’ll also need to teach them that those rights do NOT come without caveats. Everything costs something. Nothing is truly “free”. Just as rank has its privileges and obligations, so do rights.

The right to vote demands that you exercise it. Voting is every American’s OBLIGATION, not just their right. I kinda like Australia’s approach. You cannot be made to actually vote and Australians don’t have to vote come election day. BUT, Australians do have to show up. Regardless of whether or not they actually vote, Australians are obligated by law to at least go to their polling place.

Americans are equally responsible for paying for our democracy and freedoms. These things do cost money. Living costs money. Unless we all revert to being hunter-gatherers, feeding ourselves costs money. Our problem in America is that we see taxes as a black hole of inefficiency and corruption. It’s money out and virtually nothing back. Of course Americans see the tax man as the enemy!

What if Americans received a yearly statement though — an accurate accounting of exactly how the govt spends every single dollar it collects? What if Americans could see, every year, what their money bought them (bought the country), what it should have bought them and what it could never buy them? What if Americans — instead of seeing their taxes as money lost forever — saw them as a fair, accurate accounting of what their tax dollars are buying for them?

If Americans got something they could point — like guaranteed health CARE (as opposed to health INSURANCE — which is the focus of our debate) that could never bankrupt them or their families, they might look at those tax dollars (plus the out-of-pocket savings) a little differently. If Americans could point at the good public university or skills training education their children could have — again just because they pay taxes here — they might look at those tax dollars a little more open-mindedly. If Americans viewed their government as theirs, as their elected intermediary tasked with getting their collective problems solved, they might not see government as “the enemy”.

Again, this is framing — how we think of things (and how we don’t). This is entirely up to us.

If everyone in a family insisted they had to do things their way, the family would collapse in less than a heartbeat. Even relatively happy families have their issues. Welcome to being human and living at cross purposes with each other. Successful families learn to negotiate with each other. If they want something, they’ll probably have to give something to get it. Hello, politics.

A country like ours is just a giant family with a giant closet filled with giant skeletons. Families that don’t acknowledge their skeletons devolve into chaos. Families that at least try? They can’t do worse than chaos. Just like surviving a family takes work, so, too, does surviving a country. Balancing conflicting needs isn’t easy but the alternative is authoritarianism. For what it’s worth, living in an authoritarian state — provided you follow the rules — is a hell of a lot easier than living in a democracy.

That’s part of fascism’s appeal — you don’t have to think. The state does that for you. All you have to do is march neatly in lock step.

In November 1947, Winston Churchill put it this way: “Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. Democracy is hard, bloody work. The alternatives may be “easier” but only on the surface.

That is, if your idea of freedom isn’t a ten year old’s.

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…