Abuse Of Power Is The Republican Brand & The Republican Brand Is Abuse Of Power

There’s no similar string of corruption on the Democratic Party’s side: Watergate… Iran-Contra… The Iraq War… Trump-Russia-Trump-Ukraine (it’s the same thing). It’s not because the Democrats aren’t “creative” enough. They’re plenty creative. They just spend most of THEIR creativity on improving the Commonweal, not raping & pilaging it like pirates at a free-for-all.

Both sides do not abuse power the way Republicans do. In fact, both sides do not abuse power. The reason Republicans impeached Bill Clinton wasn’t because he was abusing power. Ironically, that’s what the Republicans were doing — going after Clinton because of a blow job. The American People got it then just like we’re getting it now.

Republicans must abuse power in order to keep power. They’d try to hold onto power using the value of their ideas but — even they know that’s a non-starter. Gerrymandering is an abuse of power. It’s the minority abusing power to disempower the majority so that the majority can’t express its voice. Voter suppression is even more flagrant abuse of power. It only works for the powerful, ya see? It’s impossible for the powerless to do the same thing to the powerful.

Republicans are keenly aware of the demographic handwriting on the wall. By 2050, estimates say, white people will officially be a minority in America. White people (the conservative Christian ones) have decided they won’t go quietly into minority-hood. They declared culture war on the rest of us — and deliberately set out to hijack our Democratic Republic first by capturing the judiciary. You can see Moscow Mitch McConnell hard at work cramming unqualified but ideologically compliant baby conservatives info lifetime appointments Mitch flat out denied President Obama.

Apparently in an election year, it’s up to We The People to, um, decide who we want as SCOTUS judges (nevermind that we already ELECTED a POTUS to do that very thing). I bet Mitch feels the exact opposite if another opening suddenly appears in 2020.

Republicans abuse power like the rest of us breathe.

We all know what Trump and the Republicans are up to — the ultimate abuse of power — permanent one-party (the minority party) rule.

It’s Christmas and Republicans hope like hell that that’s what they find under the tree. It’s incumbent on We The People to make sure Mitch and his fellow travelers find only coal in their stockings.

What WASPS Look Like

I grew up in a bubble.  

It’s true.  Pikesville, MD (just outside northwest Baltimore) was so predominantly Jewish that clever (non-Jewish) people called it ‘Kikesville’.  Get it?

My public high schools — Pikesville Junior High & Pikesville Senior High — were so predominantly Jewish that even the non-Jewish kids took the Jewish holidays off because they knew — school was going to be a ghost town.  Virtually all of my friends were Jewish (not all but close to it).  We tribalized inside the bubble based on which of the major synagogues your family belonged to.  Most of us were reformed or conservative Jews.  The orthodox among us were the outliers. Wait — you don’t eat steamed crabs?  What the hell is wrong with you?

In Baltimore, there was a strong Irish Catholic presence.  Evangelicals hadn’t taken hold yet so the Mainstream Protestant pool was bigger.  Most Protestants aren’t WASPS.  WASPS aren’t just followers of some variation of the Protestant faith, in their minds, they’re its originators — their families go that far back. WASPS are as insulated a culture as Jews can be with one huge difference.  Lots of Jews seek to assimilate.   WASPS don’t ever.   To them, they’re the thing everyone else wants to assimilate INTO.  To them, they are the Gold Standard.  They ARE White Culture.

My closest brush with WASPs & WASP culture was when I got accepted to the Gilman School — where some of Baltimore’s WASPiest WASPS sent their progeny.  I begged my parents not to send me.  Gilman was an all-boys school (a very, very GOOD school) and that seemed an impossibility to me.  I wanted to take my chances with public school like all of my friends (fortunately for me, the Baltimore County School System was pretty good).  WASPs were an alien culture to me even then.

When I arrived at Vassar College, WASPS were among the first shocks to my system.  We’re not talking big, knock-you-on-your-ass shocks, we’re talking ‘the-world’s-more-complicated-than-you-thought’ shocks. 

Quick sidenote: The other culture I ran into that shocked me as I had NO concept of it whatsoever was California Culture.  My first college gf was from Marin County and her wild high school escapades were actual wild high school escapades with naked hot tub parties and drug dealers that made our high school escapades look… well, like high school escapades.

WASPS did everything differently. They thought about food differently for instance.  If my housemates and I were throwing a party (I lived off campus most of my time at Vassar), the Jews in the house always overbought food while the WASPS always overbought liquor.  Who cared if there was nothing to eat so long as the booze kept flowing.  THAT was foreign.

WASPS prayed differently, of course.  And they spoke differently.  They stood differently and engaged with you differently.  In ‘Annie Hall’, Woody Allen nailed the differences between WASP families and Jewish families perfectly with a split screen of two families (one each) at dinner.  The WASPS are all very well-mannered, quiet, always speaking in turn while the Jewish family talks over each other like a tic.  Something of that deep-seated English fear of embarrassment remains at the core of most WASPs.

Being an outsider, I found WASP culture fascinating — especially its latent (as opposed to its blatant) Antisemitism.  The Catholic Church’s history of Jew-hating was a flashing electronic billboard of cruelty, brutality and blood lust.  WASPs on the other hand — at least where I grew up — kept their Antisemitism a little cleaner.  It was so hard-wired into their culture that you could miss it.  But it’s there — even with your friends.  

Look — we’re tribal creatures, every last one of us.  Strange as it may sound, I don’t mind my friends being Antisemitic if, at least, they own that it’s there in their makeup.  Jews making jokes about Jews is one thing.  Someone else making jokes about Jews — just cos they can count Jews among their bff’s — that’s always going to be a dicey, ‘it was in the tone of my voice’ proposition.

After college I shared a cute little carriage house in the Cobble Hill section of Brooklyn with two dear friends, both WASPs.  A few days after I moved in, we had an Easter party for lots of our friends — and I made the ham.  I was genuinely touched when my two WASP friends and housemates praised my Easter ham for its authenticity.

I had assimilated successfully into them, you see — at least, as far as I was going to be allowed to assimilate…

 

What Did YOU Do In The Culture War, Daddy?

There are times — at the beginnings of wars usually — when one side knows a state of war exists while the other side doesn’t.  Pearl Harbor comes to mind.

On the morning of December 7, 1941, the residents of Hawaii — Pearl Harbor in particular — slept soundly in their beds, unaware that they were moments away from being bombed, strafed, shot at and in every way attacked.  Japan was at war with them.  Japan knew it — they, unfortunately for them, did not.

That’s pretty much how the Left has been reacting to the Culture War the republican party declared not just on the Democratic Party but on the majority of Americans, too.  We’ve been almost oblivious to it.  We’ve heard the war-like chatter in the background but we’ve never taken it seriously.  We damned well better — because the war Newt Gingrich talked his side into launching years ago has finally established significant beachheads in American Culture.

newt-gingrich

Michelle Cottle nails it: “In his zeal to cripple Democrats, Gingrich poisoned the public against the entire American political system. ”

In Newt’s own words: “You have to confront, delay, and undermine and impose failure in order to move the public.”

Newt made it his absolute goal to impose FAILURE on his perceived enemy — everyone who wasn’t HIM.  That included the CULTURE in which the rest of us live.

Right Wing Culture is a lot like what Astrophysicist Neil deGrsse Tyson calls the ‘Diminishing God of the Gaps’ — the place you go to when you reach the end of what you ‘know’.  Right Wing culture — once thought to be a significant part of American Culture is now understood to be a fringe element at best (and shrinking rapidly).  Right Wing Culture is that thing everyone with a sense of humor laughs at.

It is a fact of life that Right Wing Culture has no sense of humor.  Oh, it can laugh all right — at other people.  Especially if they’re suffering some sort of misfortune.  Then they turn hilarious. Right Wing Culture is sanctimonious.  It believes it understands the divine; it believes the divine has chosen it to be its representative here on earth.  Right Wing Culture is seriously delusional.

Right Wing Culture honestly believes that IT is American Exceptionalism — that its very whiteness and maleness and Christian-ness is exceptional.  It’s wrong of course.  America’s DIVERSITY is what makes it EXCEPTIONAL.  That kind of broad diversity never happened before in one country.  It produced remarkable — no, EXCEPTIONAL — results.

White Christian Male culture is the exact opposite of exceptional.  Aside from rage and grievance, it can’t point to a single thing it’s added to the conversation.  Being weak and having few weapons at its disposal, White Christian Male Culture counts on drawing us near enough to sneak in a dirty low blow to neutralize us.

They’re going to be disappointed this time.  A lot more of us are woke now.  We’re paying attention.

And — as much as we can — we’re doing the thing that cuts Trumpists & Religionistas & RW Culture Warriors deepest:  We’re laughing at them.

 

Dear Main Stream Media – No, Both Sides DON’T Do It

I’m dying to know.  Which class is it in America’s Journalism Schools that’s confusing everyone?  Which class is instructing American Journalists that if you can’t write anything else, fall back on ‘Well, both sides do it…!’?

Whichever class it is, it’s screwing up American Journalism to the point where American Journalism is HELPING undermine the Republic.  ‘Both sides do it’ is literally blinding them to the larger — and far, FAR more  important — story.

‘Both Sides Do It’ Journalism accepts that a man stealing a loaf of bread because he’s hungry is the same as an industrialist stealing billions from the commonweal.  Yes — both men are thieves.  BOTH SIDES DO IT.

But there’s a difference of scale between them, yeah?  Stealing a loaf of bread and stealing billions are both thievery but aside from that abstract fact, there’s not an iota of similarity.  And while you could say ‘BOTH SIDES DO IT’ — it doesn’t exactly capture ‘The Truth’.  In fact, it perverts the Truth.

That’s what ‘Both Sides Do It’ instantly eschews: Scale… Proportion… Context.  It’s a headline that doesn’t actually match the story.

As we head toward an election that will absolutely decide this country’s fate, the American News Media is taking ‘Both Sides Do It’ Journalism to bold new heights.

Today’s ‘It’ — Enthusiasm.  Both sides have enthusiasm.  Yes, they do.  But the ‘nature’ of that enthusiasm — that’s actually the story.  People who want to restrict rights have one sort of ‘enthusiasm’ and people whose rights are about to be restricted — they experience a whole ‘other’ kind of ‘enthusiasm’.  Theirs is existential.  The other is merely cruel and mired in fear of the ‘other’.  It’s Lizard Brain thinking (as it were).

When you report them as being the same — it distorts everything about the story.  It screws with the Truth.  It’s not far enough away to be dismissed out of hand, but it’s close enough to blur reality in peoples’ minds.  Damage done.

When you approach every story already fixated on the false narrative that whatever crime one side does, the other is matching it step for step.  The most painful example remains every time a ‘serious’ news media outlet hosts a panel discussion about Climate Change and they invite a Climate Change Denier to sit in on the panel.

Television — this is not a revelation — is a mostly visual medium.  How you see things is key to how you perceive them.  When a news outlet splits a screen 50-50, the inherent message is “These Two Sides Are Equal” (by the same token if they squeezed those screens to represent reality — perhaps that would be a genius way to faithfully represent how arguments compare).  When a Climate Scientist shares a 50-50 screen with a Denier — the two are given equal weight, as are their arguments.  Science gets diminished while bullshit gains credibility.  That can’t possibly end well.

But that, too, is part of ‘Both Sides Do It’.  It slides easily into false narratives because it starts from such a distorted place.  Once False Narratives get launched, they take on a life of their own.  The Truth gets harder to discern from all the bullshit surrounding it.

After a while — as we have now — American Journalists start out from a ‘Both Sides Do It’ perspective.  They fail to see any sort of proportionality.  A candidate who equivocates about a senate vote becomes the same as a candidate who lies about raping someone. They both failed to tell the Truth.  BOTH SIDES DO IT.

No, American News Media — Both Sides DO NOT DO IT.

Both sides DO NOT regularly cheat to win elections.

Both sides DO NOT do not disenfranchise and suppress voters.

Both sides DO NOT ‘knowingly’ accept money from FOREIGN DONORS!

Both sides DO NOT lie with such shocking impunity.

Both sides DO NOT so clearly serve the needs of their White, Wealthy, Christian, Male donors at the expense of every other American.

Both sides DO NOT declare Culture War on other Americans.

Both sides DO NOT commit TREASON to hold onto power.

Both sides do not do it.  Period.

 

Why Decency Effin’ Matters

Decency is now officially as dead as irony. That’s pretty damned dead. In American Politics, Decency died the day Lee Atwater went to work.

Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwate
WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 21: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater, young Republicans political operatives who have set up lobbying firms. (Photo by Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Lee Atwater’s the dude on the right — keeping company with Paul Manafort & Roger Stone.  During the 1980’s & 1990’s, Atwater ran campaigns for Ronald Reagan & George Bush before running the RNC.  Atwater didn’t invent dirty, malicious politics in America but he turned them from gamesmanship into brinkmanship.  He had no interest in compromise.  None.

Newt Gingrich picked up the mantle when cancer took a bite out of Atwater (though I bet cancer wished almost immediately it could spit Atwater out).

newt-gingrich

Newt turned Atwater’s political war against the Left into an all out Culture War.  We have not been the same since.

When you choose not to compromise with someone, you cease having to communicate with them  — except to tell them what you expect to DO to them.  It’s an aggressive act — cutting off effective communication with someone.  It’s a not-so-subtle declaration of War.  Culture War.  Political War.

It flows:  When you see yourself in a perpetual state of war, the people opposing you are your enemy — even if they’re your countrymen and they simply see a different way of solving the Nation’s many problems.  Decent people don’t see people they disagree with as their enemy deserving of cultural death.

But Newt did.  As did Lee.

Paul Manafort and Roger Stone — friends of Lee’s — went to work for Donald J Trump.  We all know where he stands vis a vis ‘decency’.

Another of Donald Trump’s mentors of course was Roy Cohn — another member of this despicable club.

And Roy Cohn famously worked for Joe McCarthy.  And Joe McCarthy famously got asked the very same question Donald Trump and the whole Republican Party need to be peppered with repeatedly:  “At last, sir, have you no DECENCY?”

‘MAGICAL THINKING’ isn’t ‘Thinking’, It’s BULLSHIT; That’s Not A Revelation…

There’s a phrase I’m fond of saying here:  “BACK IT UP OR IT’S BULLSHIT”.

I appreciate that it’s just easier to let other people think for you — especially where the Bigger Questions In Life are concerned.  Where did ‘This’ all come from?  Why are we here?  What is the point?

‘Cos god’ is what Institutional Religion wants you to buy — and they hit you early and hard to make you buy.  And, because they’re hitting you early, when you’re a kid, they know you have no capacity to fight back.  Or ask a good question or two.  Something that might stump them like: “What the hell are you TALKING about?”

Enter the ‘Mumbo Jumbo’… the ‘Ooga Booga’… The MAGICAL THINKING.

What happens when we die?  Heaven.  Proof of it’s existence?  Don’t need proof — faith.  Ah — and ‘faith’ in WHAT?

Faith in the Magic.  Faith that ‘The Magic’ is real.  Based on… nothing.  Because there never was anything to back it up.

For a generation now — since Lee Atwater & Newt Gingrich & Karl Rove & everyone who ever worked in the Nixon White House declared open cultural war on Progressive America (AMERICA in other words), actual data to back up and justify their policy initiatives and the direction they wanted to take America were totally non-existent.  But MAGICAL THINKING was suddenly available in abundance.

Liberated from having to actually BACK UP their claims, republicans and conservatives went hog wild — trickling down all kinds of bullshit on the heads of the American People.  Bullshit is like a booby trapped toy dropped into a war zone.  It looks so innocent when you pick it up — and then it ‘explodes’ inside your head.  Coat the Truth in enough lies often enough and the lie begins to cover up the Truth completely.

The story of how marijuana was ‘illegalized’ in this country comes to mind.  And while I’m at it, let me do a little cross pollenization —

https://www.marijuana.com/news/2018/08/blunt-truths-introduction-how-one-man-turned-the-law-and-society-against-weed/#comment-687464

Inevitably, Magical Thinkers legislate their Magical Thinking onto the rest of us.  We find ourselves subjected to laws and rules that WE KNOW are based on bullshit.  And we look around at each other and we wonder — how the hell did THE MAJORITY of Americans end up HERE — where BULLSHIT (Magical Thinking) gets taken seriously while The Truth gets tossed aside?

Bullshit — and those who deal in it — count on their bullshit causing confusion and disrupting logic.

Donald J Trump comes to mind, strangely…

Good thing the cure isn’t hard to find or take:  Read.  Learn.  Analyze.  Question.  Back It Up.

The Republican Dream: TWO AMERICAS

Clarity.

Ya have to give the Republican Party full bonus points for having ‘Clarity’.  They know EXACTLY the ‘kind of America’ they want our country to be.  Too bad it’s 1850 America.

The republican party aspires to live in a White, Christian, Male Dominated World.

Demographics do not line up with that world any more.  They never actually lined up back in the day.  Maybe that’s why ‘certain people’ were considered only ‘3/5 of a person’.

Literally EVERYTHING the Kochs & the Mercers have paid huge money for would FIX America in a perverse hybrid world that ‘lives’ in 1950 but wishes it were 1850 — complete with slavery.  Republicans want the rich to get richer and everyone else to get poorer — approaching a kind of economic slavery where our function is to produce goods we can no longer afford to buy ourselves.

Beyond that however is the CULTURE WAR declared principally by the Anti-Abortionists for whom ‘Life’ is sacred only in the abstract.  Their single-minded loathing of women’s vaginas and reproductive organs has reached a state of virtual & perpetual psychosis.

Mitch McConnell’s whole power grab — the denial of Merrick Garland and, now, the rush to fill Justice Kennedy’s ‘sudden’ vacancy (this story is going to get ugly, uglier, ugliest) — was centered on filling as many SCOTUS seats as he could (ditto as many other judgeships.) And the goal of that is to outlaw abortion, birth control, immigration by un-white people and on and on and on.

Where abortion is concerned, the intent is to throw it to the states so that each state would have its own birth control rules & regs (the ultimate, ultimate goal is to turn EVERY state into a replica of Salem, circa 1600 where women know their place and keep to their place).  But, before we get to Salem 1600, we’ll go through a long, tortured patch where some states have kept abortion legal while others haven’t.  Women NEEDING abortions in the anti-abortion states will head to the nearest state where their HEALTH CARE NEEDS and their decision to be or NOT BE a parent can be answered in the way that best suits THEM.

This cultural division of course will go far, far beyond just abortion and birth control.  Repressive, Chritian-ized States will experience an extreme Brain Drain.  It’s a ‘no-brainer’.

States on that side of the cultural divide will put creationism in their science classrooms — exactly like they’ve dreamed of doing.  Creationism in a science classroom will NOT produce science students who can complete in the Real World.  Rather it will produce fools, Magical Thinkers and incompetents.  The people who pass through its doors will be set up for failure.  And fail they will — as will their states — from top to bottom.

Want a little taste of it?  Look at the ‘Kansas Miracle’.

Within a generation, there WILL be Two Distinct Americas — the one that lives up to its promise and produces greatness because that’s what diversity does.

The other country will look a lot like the very shit hole countries a certain president loves to call out — while doing everything in his corrupt power to turn US into THAT.