Laughing At Other People Isn’t The Same As “Having A Sense Of Humor” — Take Donald Trump, For Instance…

It’s bad enough our News Media can’t figure out that Donald Trump is a traitor. They can’t figure out whether or not Trump is really being “sarcastic” either?

Yeesh!

This is not up for debate: Donald Trump has literally zero sense of humor. He can’t laugh at himself. He can’t “be” sarcastic because he can’t see irony. He can’t see irony because, in order to see irony, you must FIRST be able to laugh at yourself. And that is something Trump is physically incapable of.

Ever watch Donald Trump’s SNL appearances? I haven’t seen his 2004 appearance as host (those were the “lost days” of SNL to me but then, I was there for the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players) but I’m a Howard Stern listener so, I know Trump’s schtick.

His 2015 appearance was part of his 2016 campaign run. That means we get the full Donald. He’s being himself with purpose. He’s selling, selling, selling Donald Trump. But, as hard as he’s selling, the one thing he can’t sell — there’s none in the warehouse and never has been — is a sense of humor. Watch. Trump can read jokes about himself off a teleprompter but he doesn’t “tell them” as jokes about him. He doesn’t “step inside” the joke to “make it” about himself. The jokes — to judge by his reading — are about some guy named Donald Trump who’s laughable but who bears no resemblance to the Donald Trump who’s reading these lines off the teleprompter.

It’s a study in narcissism dressed up in a clown costume except the narcissist keeps telling himself it’s a tux. Trump knows there’s something comedic going on. He knows a lot of the laughter is associated with him. And, as much as he wants a piece of the action, he can’t quite figure it out. He can get laughs but he can never rely on it. He blames other people for that. Experience has told him that other cruel people — or people uncomfortable with his cruelty but not uncomfortable enough to stop him — will laugh at what he says and does. So, Donald capers and performs for them

Donald Trump making with the jokes isn’t even remotely funny. What he is is cruel. That’s what bullies think of as humor — cruelty. When other people laugh at their cruelty (because they, too, are cruel or bullies), it emboldens the bully to continue being cruel. Until everyone stops laughing, the bully will continue. He doesn’t need the whole house laughing with him, he needs just one other person to feel vindicated and validated. Hearing laughter, the MSM assumes (since “both sides do it”) that all laughter is the same.

Problem is, it’s not. Derisive laughter (laughing AT someone) sounds one way. Joyful laughter sounds another. A person laughing AT others may sound like a person laughing WITH others but it’s completely different. Trump can’t laugh with others because he has no idea how to. But laugh AT others? He’s already there.

The word we’re looking for is “cruelty”. Donald Trump laughs at other people regularly because he’s cruel. His attempts at sarcasm aren’t sarcasm; they’re cruelty aspiring to sarcasm and nothing more.

The more telling video of Donald Trump’s “comedic nature” comes from the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner when Barack Obama (quite famously now) roasted Donald Trump on a spit and reduced him to charred bits. Blubber burns, ya know.

Plenty of people have speculated that this was the night Trump decided to run for POTUS. Not so. By then, Trump had fancied himself POTUS for years already and (turns out) Russia had been grooming him (using him to launder Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos). If Trump started planning anything that night, it was personal retribution.

That was the night Trump decided (if his Russian pal could pull it off) that he would dismantle everything Obama did — for entirely personal reasons.

At least the last laugh will be on Donald. One way or another, Trump will not get away with this. The election is fast becoming a blow-out in the making. Trump’s politically-motivated response to the coronavirus pandemic has sealed his fate. The news is never going to be good for Trump now. Even a cure or a vaccine will arrive despite Trump and not because of him.

Worst case scenario (for We The People) — Trump, regardless of what he thinks or says, cannot live forever. He will die. And, judging by his diet and health — even a natural death will hurt. But that’s not really what makes Trump’s death comedic. It’s the fact that Trump has built a snake pit around himself. Which of the snakes will be head snake when Trump is gone?

Ivanka? I bet she assumes it’s her. And maybe Junior and Eric let that go on — at first. But, does anyone really think either of their wives really think it should be Ivanka at the head of the table while their “men” sit to the sides? Lady MacBeth lives — and she has an equally evil twin.

Outside the Trump bubble, does anyone think a Trump not named Donald will hold the same sway and power over the Republican Party? Surely you jest!

The instant Trump shuffles off this mortal coil — or even gets too sick to handle his own day-to-day criminality — the sharks will all go for each other.

Now THAT will be funny.

Donald Trump Can’t “Do” Sarcasm Cos He Can’t “Do” Irony & He Can’t “Do” Irony Cos He Has NO Sense Of Humor

Trump proves every day that comedy is hard. Waaaaaay too hard for him.

Yesterday, Donald Trump — at his daily campaign rally that the news media broadcasts under the bullshit assertion that it’s got news or information in it — told America that we should try drinking bleach and sunlight to cure outselves of coronavirus. Anything just so we’ll “get back to work” instead of having the federal government prove that a Universal Basic Income is the only way out of this fiasco.

Donald Trump may be laughable but he’s the opposite of funny. While he can dress himself in comedy glitter — and make it seem like he’s in on the jokes he tells (when he imagines himself the King Of Comedy), Trump’s only good at making fun of others. That’s the easy part of comedy. But bullying isn’t comedy. It’s not funny either — and that’s what every bit of Trump’s making fun of other people is: bullying.

Having a sense of humor requires one basic thing in order to exist: one MUST be able to laugh at oneself. If you can’t see yourself as the butt of a joke (a mostly good-natured joke, of course), you can’t see jokes. You just like the idea of people hitting other people with words — so long as it’s not you. In his entire life, Donald Trump has never laughed at himself.

There’s real reason to believe that Trump’s decision to run for POTUS started on April 20, 2016, the night President Obama took a few good-natured swipes at The Donald during the White House Correspondent’s Dinner.

Witness a man with no sense of humor slowly stewing. It’s not up for debate. It’s not a matter of opinion. It’s not a question of proportion. Donald Trump has ZERO sense of humor. It’s just a fact of life. Of genetics.

Having no sense of humor, Trump is incapable of seeing irony — of seeing the irony in anything. Irony is the crisp slap of what one says a thing is versus what it really is. Donald Trump claiming he’s the victim of anything is ironic because Donald Trump is the ultimate victimizer. Trump himself can’t see it — because he can’t see himself as a victimizer. Or he refuses to admit that he is. Either way — that refusal to see (or laugh at) himself for what he really is — it’s the seriological test that proves Trump can’t even conceive of laughing at himself.

Without the capacity to even “see” irony, one is automatically excluded — by definition — from ever being “sarcastic”.

So — when Trump told the nation it was okay to drink bleach to cure coronavirus, he was being as serious as a heart attack — or another Trump crisis. The correct response really shouldn’t be to repeat Trump saying “I was just being sarcastic”.

The correct response SHOULD HAVE BEEN derisive laughter. “What? No, you weren’t being sarcastic — you can’t BE sarcastic. All YOU can be is cruel.” That’s what the press should have said.

Instead we’ll debate whether or not Trump was in fact being sarcastic. After we’re done, let’s argue whether bears shit in the woods and the Pope is Catholic.

Let’s Be Real: Election 2020 May Be “Trump v Biden” On The Surface, But In Every Other Way, It’s “Obama v Trump” — LITERALLY

Maybe this race was simply fated to go this way. Prior to the South Carolina primary a few weeks ago, everyone pretty much agreed that Joe Biden’s candidacy was done. And then yesterday, Bernie Sanders withdrew from the race (keeping his name in to get as many delegates as he can so as to exert influence over the platform — a good move). The 2020 Election began in earnest at that moment.

And then Barack Obama’s name popped into the conversation. Obama initiated part of it (an important point). He put out this tweet —

Donald Trump responded — as he would. During Wednesday’s daily political campaign ad masquerading as a coronavirus update, Trump addressed the fact that Bernie had dropped out, making Biden his opposition. Trump asked why Obama hadn’t backed Biden until now. Being Trump, he asserted that Obama “new something” — something Trump himself knew — and soon, we’d all know what that “something” was…

If ever a man needed desperately to have the words “Oh, shut the fuck up!” howled like a raging wind into his bloated orange face, it’s Donald Trump.

The final move came from Obama. It showed not only grace and tact but clear evidence of political skill. The Democratic Party aches for Barack and Michelle Obama to get into this thing. Word “trickled out” from various places that indeed Obama and Michelle absolutely intend to enter the conversation at a place and time so as to maximize the effect of their entering the conversation.

And that’s where stand as of this morning.

Being both an excellent politician and a smart man, Obama refused to endorse any of the Democratic nominees because he was letting We The People do the talking. The fact is, regardless of who emerged from the process, Obama was going to endorse them because the Democratic nominee would be the only person in a position to defeat Trump. Donald Trump is as subtle as a wet fart — and just as disgusting. Do we really have to say it out loud? Obama didn’t back Biden until now because it would have been INAPPROPRIATE.

End of story.

Now here’s where it gets good. Obama doesn’t need to do anything right this second. He knows Trump will do most of the damage to himself by himself. Trump will maximize Obama’s moment for him. Joe Biden is no one’s idea of a legacy candidate. What Joe Biden represents, what he IS — is a president whose election will instantly restore LEGITIMACY to our government. Biden’s election — just the fact of it — will mean The Rule Of Law is back in the house. And the Senate. And the Executive Branch.

Joe Biden won’t just “win” this election. As Joe himself could tell you, it’s not about him. It’s about US. It’s about what Donald Trump and the Republican Party have done to us. Trump has made it his priority to undo everything Barack Obama accomplished. Literally everything. We all know why.

Trump made this “Trump v Obama” the moment he took the oath of office and began sledgehammering the ACA. Problem is, “Trump v Obama” is “Trump v We The People” and We The People have had enough. Even Republicans (the former Republicans I mean) now sing Obama’s praises. Though they disagreed with him politically, they now see that intelligence, grace and decency matter a shit-ton. And they see — in the face of the coronavirus pandemic that the ACA is vital just to get through the current crisis; Medicare for all is where we must land however.

Joe Biden will be a caretaker POTUS — the exact thing we need as we turn off the spigots of self-destruction before the tub overflows, floods the bathroom and crashes down onto the floors below. Joe Biden’s immediate moves will be to — as much as possible — put things back as they were. But that can only be a starting point. Biden has been consulting regularly since South Carolina w Obama — I bet the subject of VP choice has come up. This will be a key — not in whether or not Biden beats Trump but in how completely and utterly Biden beats Trump.

A choice like Kamala Harris would be awesome (though she’d also be a killer Attorney General). Elizabeth Warren — awesome. Stacey Abrams — awesome. Amy Kobuchar — good but not awesome. Whoever the veep is — they’ll be the next POTUS in 2024. That’s why the veep choice is vital — that’s our future. Literally.

The reason Democrats are salivating at the thought of Obama stepping into the ring to directly speak to Donald Trump is because Obama will decimate Trump and Trump knows he’ll die a horrible death that way — in public. A poll released yesterday said that more Americans believe Barack Obama would be a better leader during this pandemic than Trump. Their opinion won’t change in the coming weeks. And the more we learn about just how egregiously terrible Team Trump’s response was — and how many Americans have died because of it — and the more Team Trump’s horrible response makes mince meat of the economy — Barack Obama will look even more amazing to us — as a destination — than he already does.

What campaign ad — that appeals to anyone outside Trump’s ravenously racist base — can Team Trump run against Obama? Anything he says will make Obama more popular and make those aching for the return of Obama’s decency to pour politics even more ardent.

C’mon — an Obama v Trump election? The Fates themselves pushed us here. And I don’t believe in Fate.

As much as Trump is a lightning rod for publicity where the world hangs on every goddamned word that spews from his anus-shaped mouth, so too will Barack Obama. But, by comparison, his words will sound like the pronouncements of an Oracle.

The choice put before us will be stark, clear & easy. Good thing because we’re going to need as many Americans as possible to show up at the polls in order to overcome the massive suppression operation the GOP will mount because it’s all they know how to do.

Donald Trump wanted Election 2020 to be yet another freakish, Trump-branded reality show. As my old pal the Crypt Keeper used to say, “Be careful what you wish for, you may just ‘get it’!”

Donald Trump is about to “get it”.

For Republicans, It’s All Or Nothing Now — They Will Destroy The Republic Or Go Down In Flames Of Treason And Infamy

If there was any doubt as to what Republicans are really up to — and how extensive the corruption is inside the GOP — Chief Justice John Roberts made it explicit Monday evening when the SCOTUS (in a 5-4 conservatives v progressives decision) sided with the Wisconsin Republican Party and forced Wisconsin to holds its primary yesterday — despite the health threat it posed — and while refusing to extend any vote-by-mail deadlines (regardless of the fact that many Wisconsinites had not received their mail-in ballots). The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court gave Wisconsin permission to throw out THOUSANDS of legal votes — the most egregious act of voter suppression by a party who suppress Democratic votes the way most people breathe.

The Republican Money — the Kochs, the Mercers early on — saw demographic oblivion in their future and decided the only way to prevent it was to destroy American democracy. Relying on We The People was going to result in extinction. We The People had to be either removed from the equation or limited in our voice if we did remain in the equation. With Mitch McConnell walking point for them, the RW Money began hijacking the judiciary during the Obama presidency. There was real long-term purpose behind McConnell refusing Obama so many life-time appointments to the Federal bench.

The GOP didn’t love Trump. He compromised them. Played even dirtier than they did. Being cynical, greedy and power-mad, they hitched their wagon to the bigger bully — fully aware that that bully was himself deeply compromised by Vladimir Putin. Seems just enough Republicans were already compromised themselves (Mitch himself has taken MILLIONS into his campaign coffers that came from Russia). Russia poured lots of cash into other Republican campaigns via the NRA and a network of Russian retirees living in America, their small pensions suddenly brimming with cash intended for donation to Republicans. How convenient.

GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy famously said to then-Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan during the 2016 Republican convention “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump” to which Paul Ryan famously (per the Washington Post), “… instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: ‘No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here’.”

Meanwhile, remember, convicted felon Paul Manafort was handing Oleg Deripaska (he of the GRU — Russian military intelligence) proprietary polling data from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania. That polling data was weaponized by Russia and sent back to Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania as propagandized Facebook ads that showed up — exclusively — on the personal Facebook pages of Democratic voters — many African American or other People of Color. The ads wanted their readers to believe that Hillary Clinton was a racist on the down low.

The point of the exercise — make voters decide to stay home instead of voting. It’s election fraud — carried out with the direct assistance of a hostile foreign government. And it’s entirely illegal.

The GOP may not have known how Russia was going to pull off their theft of election 2016, but once the “win” was Trump’s? They did nothing to address the eight thousand pound gorilla sitting in the room — the total incongruity of Trump’s “win”. There are myriad reasons Trump and the Republicans have resisited every attempt to investigate election 2016. They all have to do with culpability.

Fact: the entire Republican Party is as guilty of election fraud, obstruction of justice and treason as Trump is. They all knew or at the very least suspected what was happening. They were all obligated — legally — to say something. That they didn’t made them guilty of conspiracy.

That means every single Republican has a legal problem. And that’s where America’s problem begins.

For Trump, it’s a matter of staying president forever or probably going to prison forever — his list of crimes is that long and that bad. Robert Mueller — in his team’s report — pointed out their obligation to follow a DoJ “rule” (not a law) created while Spiro Agnew was veep (to keep him from pardoning Nixon — per “The Bagman” — the very good, very deep dive podcast by Rachel Maddow) that would not allow them to indict a sitting POTUS. That’s why the SDNY couldn’t indict Trump along with Michael Cohen for paying Stormy Daniels to keep quiet. As we sit here today, Trump remains “Unindicted Co-Conspirator #1”.

Trump knows: the instant he stops being POTUS, he’ll become INDICTED Co-Conspirator #1. And that will be just the start of his legal problems. And Trump also knows — his legal problems are so deep and so far-reaching, he could lose every single property he owns to seizure. And have we mentioned “treason”? Trump cannot stop being POTUS. That’s his bottom line.

Because it’s Trump’s bottom line — it’s the whole GOP’s bottom line too. If Trump’s crimes get exposed, theirs will get exposed too.

And everyone’s crimes have just gone nuclear because of our coronavirus response. Republican criminality has now KILLED thousands of Americans. Literally. Talk about criminal!

Norms have not mattered for a decade now to the GOP. Mitch McConnell destroyed every norm while Obama was POTUS. The Republican Senate destroyed Congressional oversight when it refused to convict Trump on impeachment. Now Trump is taking a sledgehammer to the IG’s and all possible oversight to how he doles out billions of tax-payer relief dollars. We already know that Trump himself is PROFITING from the very (unproven) cure — hydroxychloroquine — that he’s been pushing during his daily “coronavirus briefings” even as Dr. Fauchi shakes his head in alarmed disapproval.

The Republican Party is so far beyond corrupt they can’t even “corrupt” from their houses anymore.

It’s time for us — for the NEWS MEDIA especially — to stop treating Republicans as honest actors. It’s time to start treating them as what they are: CRIMINALS intent on building upon a criminal act — the stolen 2016 election — to shove permanent minority rule down the majority of Americans’ throats. It’s a rape fever dream by a Party that understands rape intrinsically. If you can vote for a rapist, it’s because you approve of the rapist — and you approve of his raping whoever he likes.

That’s who the Republican Party are — rapists. And they will destroy America rather than face the consequences of their crime.

Here’s the hopeful part. There’s more of us than them. Way more. Way, way, WAY more. As a percentage of the electorate, Trumpanistas are a mere 16%. Fact. And what Trump has steadily done to the military (undermining their purpose in Northern Syria, betraying our Kurdish ally — that doesn’t sit well with “brothers in arms”, firing Brett Crozier, the captain of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt who went public to save his crew from a rising coronavirus threat onboard their ship) will not get him the loyalty he’ll need to turn the military against the American People. It only takes having a few balk at the audacity of a full-on military coup d’etat to make the whole enterprise fall apart.

Trump will try to further rip apart the very voting procedure he always uses: vote-by-mail. But once the Post Office is spared — and we make sure EVERY American GETS their vote-by-mail ballot — the real day of reckoning will begin for Trump & the GOP. It’s way, WAAAAAAY harder to suppress voters when they vote by mail. And if We The People can make vote-by-mail how most Americans vote this November?

As Trump himself said (out loud) this week — the more people vote, the worse it is for Republicans. Agree, Don-Don. Agree completely.

Let’s make that a stone cold reality.

Who Is Directly Responsible For The Shit-Show We’re In? THESE Guys…

While the whole world is now laser-focused on surviving Covid-19, it’s important to remember that this pandemic isn’t isolated. Yes, the original vector — whether from a live animal market in China or from bat guano that migrated from shoes to hands in a Chinese cave — would have presented regardless. But what happened afterwards — THAT would have been entirely different if, say, Hillary Clinton (or Barack Obama) was president rather than Donald Trump.

Trump’s reaction — as early as January, he was sacrificing rapid response for political appearances — was just Trump’s next step in dismantling the American government at the behest of Russia and his own raging ego. But the fact that Trump is in place — that he’s president to begin with — that, too, is part of our coronavirus problem. This really has been a perfect storm of authoritarian fuckery.

Authoritarians are great at wielding power, not so good at governing. And governing really isn’t about the good times — when things are running smoothly — governing is about the hard times — when citizens need help because of a natural disaster, a war — or a pandemic. And, one thing we know for a fact about republicans — when the hard times come, they won’t be the ones governing, they’ll be the ones profiteering.

So — why is coronavirus kicking the world’s ass? Because Donald Trump is president of the United States. And Donald Trump is POTUS because of himself of course but also because of THESE scumbags…

VLAD PUTIN

In Vlad Putin’s defense, he’s doing what we expect him to do. He’s a Russian nationalist, suckled by the dying Soviet intelligence state, a spymaster who also runs a criminal enterprise masquerading as a government. He has actively plotted against the West while dreaming of the return of a Greater Russia. Problem is, Vlad’s Greater Russia has a crap economy based entirely on oil. Sanctions are killing him — that’s why he needs them lifted. Putin recruited & nurtured Trump as early as the 80’s. Considering what his cyber war has cost him — pennies compared to a shooting war — Putin has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams and for virtually no money.

THE KOCHS/MERCERS/RW MONEY

While Putin was doing what Putin was doing, the Big Republican Money machine was busy too. As Reaganism peaked, the RW money saw something terrifying in the nation’s demographics — no them. America’s diversification (the source of our exceptionalism) was moving more rapidly. White people are going to become a minority. That’s just a fact. The Big Money Republicans (the Koch Brothers, David & Rebekah Mercer) saw that handwriting and resolved to DO something about it.

What the RW Money got was this: the presidency was pretty much out of reach for Republicans (take away Bush v Gore and Russia and there’d be a straight run of Democratic presidents). The House of Representatives is too mercurial to control — it is the Peoples’ House after all. Instead, Republicans focused on holding the Senate forever and using the power of confirming judges to control the most important part of their gambit: hijacking the judiciary.

That is the point of the exercise — lifetime appointments at the federal level especially SCOTUS seats. The goal — lock down the courts for another generation at least — making it hard for a Progressive House to get anything done or enact anything.

The ultimate goal, of course: Permanent Minority Rule.

MITCH MCCONNELL

One of the most corrupt people to ever serve in Congress. A weakling’s weakling who’s at his happiest abusing power for his patrons — the RW Money. And Russia.

Mitch’s greatest hits are well known — He’s taken gobs of Russian money into his PAC… he refused to let Obama tell We The People in September 20167 that Russia was actively attacking our election for the benefit of Donald Trump… He has enabled every anti-Democratic, un-American, pro-Russian move Trump has made… He got rid of the sactions on Oleg Deripaska (“former” Russian intelligence to whom Paul Manafort handed proprietary polling data on Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota before election 2016 — data which Deripaska weaponized and turned back on America as individualized propaganda appearing in individual Democratic voters’ Facebook pages. That most of those Democratic voters were people of color — and the ads were accusing Hillary Clinton of racism (in an environment where she was constantly under assault?) Oleg Deripaska is engaged in an info/cyber war against us.

That makes what Mitch did TREASON.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, listens during a news conference after a weekly GOP luncheon meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. McConnell said he’s delaying the Senate’s August recess by two weeks after divided lawmakers have been unable to agree on how to revise health-care legislation he proposed to replace Obamacare. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BILL BARR

Trump wanted a Roy Cohn and he got one. Every Democrat who said yes to Barr has some ‘splainin’ to do. Barr’s lies about the Mueller Report weren’t his first time at the Bullshit Rodeo. Barr did that once before during Iran-Contra. Barr is a rabid Christo-Fascist who wouldn’t know Jesus if he stopped mid-way through nailing Jesus to a cross to spit in Jesus’s eye. Bar lied about the Mueller Report — completely mischaracterizing its conclusions. He tried to do the same thing with impeachment.

If Bill Barr were out of the equation? Donald Trump would already be facing prosecution for high crimes, misemeanors, low crimes, rape, election fraud and treason.

DONALD TRUMP

Every time the bloated orange jackal turd opens his anus mouth, he literally tells us how guilty he is.

If only we’d believe him…

America’s Tax Problem Isn’t That Taxes Are Too High, It’s That We Don’t Think We GET Anything For Them…

Americans have always hated paying taxes. “No taxation without representation” was one of our first great marketing triumphs as a young nation. Wanna know who WE are? We’re the “We ain’t paying no stinking taxes” guys.

The colonists saw their tax dollars going out and nothing coming back in return.

What made it worse — the things they could point to that their tax dollars were funding included the British soldiers who, the Americans increasingly believed, were oppressing them. Americans, it turns out, HATE paying to be oppressed.

We resisted any sort of federal income tax for 140 years (caveat — the federal govt briefly imposed an income tax during the Civil War) until the 16th amendment was ratified in 1913 — that’s the one that made a federal income tax legal. Just for information’s sake, the first federally imposed tax was an inheritance tax. We knew even back then that the rich were hoarding cash.

When someone holds out their hand to you — expecting YOU to put cash in it — you kinda want to know what you’re getting for it. Even if all you’re responding to a threat with a bribe or a payoff, you KNOW what you’re getting — a few moments of relative peace until the next time they come with their hand out. You may not like what you’re getting, but at least you can identify it. Most Americans couldn’t tell you what they get for their tax dollars — other than the military and “the federal government” in all its polymorphous splendor. The problem is, aside from the military (which is mostly other people doing what they do far, far away), Americans see their tax dollars as paying for nothing.

Taxes are a black hole that mocks us relentlessly. Only a sucker pays taxes. Isn’t that what we’re taught?

We laugh at Europeans because they pay such high taxes — Just above 60% in Denmark, for instance. The sub headline from this article (from US News & World Report, 2016) says it all: “People in the European country see taxes as an investment in their quality of life”. They’re laughing at us a lot harder than we ever laughed at them. By virtually every metric — other than self-delusion — Northern Europeans like the Danes (the ones paying the highest taxes) are far, far, FAR happier than we are.

They’re far healthier than we are. As is said — they work to live. Americans, OTOH, live to work. Yeah — the ones paying the higher taxes are far happier than the ones begrudging every tax dollar spent.

But then, Europeans like the Danes can point to things they GET for their tax dollars. They GET health CARE from cradle to grave.

That’s especially foreign to Americans because we think in terms of health INSURANCE, not health CARE. That’s because our system evolved out of an historical anomaly that arose during WW II. The first employersponsored hospitalization plan was created by teachers in Dallas, Texas in 1929. These were small, very localized health plans that were meant to deal with catastrophic situations. Hospitalization. In the absence of any sort of “national health system”, every locality did what it did in its own way.

During WW II, the federal government directed every possible tax dollar its way. It was illegal, during the war, to give employees raises (or to raise a salary so as to attract talent to a job). But fringe benefits like, say, “health insurance” didn’t count as salary. Big companies (they could afford to) offered “health plans” instead.

Then the war ended — and these health plans should have ended right along with it. From Wikipedia: In his November 19, 1945 address to the nation, President Harry Truman proposed “…a national system that would be open to all Americans, but would remain optional. Participants would pay monthly fees into the plan, which would cover the cost of any and all medical expenses that arose in a time of need. The government would pay for the cost of services rendered by any doctor who chose to join the program. In addition, the insurance plan would give cash to the policy holder to replace wages lost because of illness or injury.”

Americans liked the idea — a lot. But the AMA hated it. So did the Chamber of Commerce and The American Hospital Association. They denounced it as “socialism”.

And that is where America’s shot at Universal Single Payer Health CARE died.

The people who opposed it did not oppose it on medical grounds, they opposed it for monetary reasons. Greed mattered more than medicine. FACT.

If Truman had done what Obama did — muscled his way past the greed as best he could — we wouldn’t be laughing AT the Danes and the Swedes and the British and the Germans and the French and the Canadians. We’d be laughing with them.

These systems aren’t perfect. Not by a long shot. Nothing is — can we please accept that fact? But — the data’s pretty conclusive — if you want to measure a health care system by its successful health care outcomes? We’ve got it all wrong. We pay far more and get far less.

Ah, but — what if we payed less (our individual piles of money are the same pile whether we pay taxes with it or out-of-pocket health care costs like deductibles & co-pays) and got a whole lot more for those very same dollars? What if — in addition to cradle to grave health CARE — we got the knowledge that we could NEVER go broke or lose our houses because we or someone we love got sick?

What if Americans — instead of merely seeing a deduction already taken from their paycheck or a check written to the US Treasury in blood — got an itemized bill that showed 1) what they themselves owed but (more importantly), 2) also gave them a detailed breakdown of where every single penny went. And what if some of those things their every tax dollar funded was good health care with the doctors they like?

Caveat — it’s not just the tax system that needs overhauling. It’s the whole nature of the health CARE system. In a universal single-payer system, every physician who wants to have a license to practice medicine will have to take part. Part of our “you know what you’re paying for system” would now include your education. Want to be a doctor? We’ll pay for it — you’ll pay for it (via your taxes). But then you won’t leave college/university hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. You will have to spend your early years as a doctor inside the National Health CARE System. You’ll learn a ton. You’ll be well compensated — but you won’t be overly compensated.

Health care cannot be a wild, wild west of greed. It simply can’t be run that way — otherwise you get what WE have where people get billed $3200 cos they caught coronavirus. That should be a joke that we all laugh at because it’s so incomprehensible.

That’s our reality. It’s why people like the Danes laugh their asses off at us.

There’s no such thing as a “rugged individual”. That’s a bullshit myth “rugged individuals” (men — almost exclusively men) tell themselves to justify their greed.

They’re the ones benefiting from our tax system.

Hey, America — There’s A New Boss In Town — It’s The “African-American Vote”

Common wisdom (often more common than wise) has whispered for a while now that African Americans were the core constituency of the Democratic Party. Don’t have them behind you (on a national level)? You aren’t going far.

Yesterday, that bit of common wisdom looked unnaturally wise. Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential campaign went from zero to hero almost entirely on the strength of the African-American vote. As a voting block, African Americans didn’t just flex their muscle, they demonstrated just how powerful a muscle they wield. Now, let’s be clear — African Americans don’t get on the phone with each other to discuss how they’re all going to vote. Jews don’t do it either. Neither do Latinos or any voting block (except Bernie Bros apparently and Republicans). African Americans — though not voting “as a group”, voted as a group of individuals with a common experience: American politics at their expense.

As a group, African Americans have a very particular history. As a group, Jews have a very particular history. That history imprints upon a group in myriad ways, most of them very subtle — but definitive. When you cannot automatically trust the political system you have no choice but to participate in, you approach it a little differently than someone who’s always benefited from that system. White people get to take our system’s inequalities for granted one way. People Of Color get to take them for granted the other way.

African American voters are pragmatic through and through. There’s one thing that, as a group, they’re aspirational towards like no other (because it touches them so completely): social justice. When you’ve never actually gotten to experience what everyone else has taken for granted — the thing that gives them monumental advantages over you — you recognize that before you can have anything else, FIRST, you must have THAT.

You must have social justice in order to have a remote shot at all the other things you deserve — same as everyone else.

Donald Trump has made it clear as can be that one of his biggest missions is to reverse, undo, destroy or shit on EVERYTHING Barack Obama accomplished as president. Trump has billboarded his racism from the get-go. Birtherism should have been the end of Trumpism. We should never have gotten to “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy-grabbing”. A decent Republican Party would have made racist birtherism anathema to them.

They didn’t. Because decency died in them long, long ago. The people now calling themselves “the Republican Party” share philosophy (though not name) with the Dixiecrats. I recommend historian Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party” which explains how the Republican Party — at its founding — were a lot more like contemporary Democrats than contemporary Republicans. Names mean a lot less than core philosophy.

The modern Republican Party is very much the Dixiecrat Party — Nixon’s Southern Strategy come back to life as a ravenous Christo-fascist hate-zombie who knows the demographics bode poorly for white, Christian, male power. Southern-sympathizing white, Christian male power. What African Americans know — we’re still fighting the Civil War. And we’re still fighting the Civil War because we let slavery in the door.

Rather, we didn’t kick it out upon the nation’s founding. We compromised with something you cannot compromise with and maintain your integrity. You cannot say “All men are created equal” while owning other “men”. You can’t.

African Americans have lived and died on the crux of that matter. As a group, they did not ask to be here. Once here, they did not want to BE here. Once that choice was taken away — to have their old lives back — they wanted to survive the inhumanity being inflicted upon them. The stolen labor. The stolen children. The stolen lives and property and dignity and even history.

Poll taxes and voter ID laws are all ways racists try to stop African Americans from voting. On one side of this equation are all those people TRYING to stop people of color from voting. On the other side are people of color who just want to exercise their right to vote. It’s kind of organic that those people of color would therefore — on a regular basis — vote differently than the people trying to suppress their vote. ‘

Back in Lincoln’s day, that would have meant massive turnout for Republicans — the Party of Lincoln.

But the two parties have swapped names — that’s really what’s happened here. The Party of Lincoln has morphed into modern Democrats while the Confederacy has morphed into the Republican Party. When African Americans turn out en masse — as they did yesterday for Joe Biden — it has actual historical significance. While speaking as individuals — with the same righteous indignation in their hearts and the same pragmatism in their heads — also African Americans spoke as a group. They brought Joe Biden’s presidential run back from the dead not because they dislike Bernie Sanders (or anything Bernie stands for) but because 300 years of group experience has taught them that whatever serves social justice best — that is how they must vote.

I say all this as a socialist. I was thrilled to attend Bernie Sanders’ first campaign rally here in LA in 2016. I took my son even (he was 17 — and has, since, become a bit of a Bernie Bro — in his “Bernie Or Bust” thinking). I aspire to everything Bernie aspires to. But, I’m pragmatic, too. And there’s reality. I have to live in it — so must Bernie.

I trust that, should he not win the nomination, Bernie Sanders will do what he said he would and back whoever the Democratic nominee is. But what of the most ardent Bernie followers — the ones ( like my son) who have said they won’t vote if Bernie isn’t atop the Democratic ticket? I hate to say this (son — ya listening?) Taking your ball and going home is such a White Guy thing to do.

For real.

If you really want social justice — and social justice is the foundational idea on which Social Democracy and socialism is based (that and economic justice — but, it’s the social justice that demands the economic justice not the other way around) — then you, at least, have to look at how African American voters voted yesterday. They chose Biden because they see the clearest path toward social justice.

If we make the 2020 Presidential campaign an epic battle between Good — social justice — and Evil — All Things Trump — we will win that battle hands down, going away and by a mile. We have, on our team, a group with a great nose for social justice. They’ve pointed us clearly in one direction.

Hey, White People — let’s start listening for a change.