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.

Evil’s Too Smart To ‘Billboard Itself’; That’s Why It Births Itself In Banality…

Maybe it’s ‘my’ fault… ‘Our‘ fault if I include the rest of my screenwriting ‘tribe’.  I could widen the tribe out to include anyone and everyone who ever helped make a movie that gave an audience the notion that Evil is BILLBOARD OBVIOUS the moment it ‘walks on stage’.  Alas, if only more of my tribe had been better storytellers and followed a path that hewed a little closer to The Truth:  REAL Evil always ‘comes out of nowhere’.  That is, it rises up out of the most ordinary of places — and THEN ‘becomes’ Evil

The poster child for banality birthing Evil is Hitler.  He truly came out of ‘nowhere’ Evil-wise…

Hitler_1914_1918

The ordinary young art student and artist wannabe did not ‘present’ in any discernible way per his biographers.  His art did not scream or shout ‘This is a crazed, dangerous mind’…

Adolf_Hitler_Der_Alte_Hof

Maybe it was latent PTSD from the Great War.  Maybe there was something in part of Adolph’s bloodline that slipped megalomania in through some genetic back door.

At some point, the banal art student began to morph into a more familiar Adolph Hitler — here, posing for the camera very early in his ‘career’.

Adolf Hitler, Rednerposen

By the time anyone could point at Adolph Hitler and say, with confidence, ‘That Hitler guy’s a little nutso’, it was too late.  The world was already on fire.  That’s why banality is so dangerous.  It’s vanilla.  It’s taupe.  It’s so bland you reflexively look right past it.  And then the next thing you know, it’s eaten you.

The Trump Administration is filled to the rafters with Banal Evil.  Donald Trump himself is the epitome of Evil rising up out of the MOST BANAL.  Who, really, is more banal than Donald J Trump?

Name someone in Donald Trump’s cabinet – in his circle – in his whole family even – who ISN’T banal…

My first thought was to put up the pictures of every banal shithead in the Trump Sphere.  But then, I’d have to put up pictures of EVERYONE in Trump’s sphere.  Life’s already too fucking short…

 

 

 

Most Christians Only Like The Bible For ‘The Good Parts’ Anyway…

Clockwork_Orange - Malcolm McDowell

I rail often here about Christians and their insincerity.  Yeah, sure — low hanging fruit and all but — but even low hanging fruit tastes good and has some nutritional value.  So I’ll pick it.

Simple fact:  Most American Christians know virtually nothing about their professed faith.  They’ve NEVER read ‘The Bible’.  Most have never picked one up — except to have in their hands like everyone else — at a church service they did not want to be at.

What they DO know about the supposedly foundational texts at the core of their belief system are the selected phrases of those using the bible for their own messaging purposes.  For instance:  ‘Do unto others — before THEY do unto you first’.

Then there’s the whole ‘pick-n-choose’ quality of American Christianity.  Some rules they like, others not so much.  You’d think they were choosing sides at a fast food restaurant instead of the ‘Rules’ by which they would live.  ‘I don’t know — murder’s horrible and all but if you really have to…’.

Maybe the perfect illustration of how most American Christians really feel about their faith comes from one of my favorite movies ‘Clockwork Orange’.

Alex is a heartless criminal.  He’s murdered a woman after a whole ‘career’ of causing havoc and finally, he’s ‘paying for it’.  In prison he appears to all like a model prisoner bent on reforming himself.  The Prison Chaplin sees Alex reading the bible (or ‘bibble’).  Assumes he’s taking ‘the right lessons’ from it.  However…

If the Jesus ‘story’ was true (meaning — all the window dressing added on to Jesus’ very simple message) — and Jesus DID have a second coming and returned to earth — ALEX would be how most American Christians would think of and ‘approach’ Jesus — not as his follower but as his tormentor.

Hey, America — Next Time, Let’s Take Better Care of Our Democracy, Okay?

There’s a Joni Mitchell song — pretty well known — with a lyric that goes something like this —

They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot
With a pink hotel, a boutique
And a swinging hot spot
Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
‘Till it’s gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

Democracy is Paradise.  Except we’re about to watch Democracy get knocked down for a lot less than a pink  hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot.  All we’ll get out of our deal is a bankrupt whorehouse where even the STD’s have STD’s.

By the time most Americans realize their Democracy is gone, it’ll be just about to disappear from their rear view mirror.  “What was that thing we drove past a while ago?  No memory except that it was big or something.  Special maybe — can’t remember any more.”

It’s perverse that the  Poster Kid for Democracy never really was that IN to Democracy.  Too much of a commitment.  Too much like hard work.  Too much responsibility.  It’s worse than having a pet, fer Chrissakes.  The only GOOD thing you can say about Democracy is that it won’t poop in the house.  It might DIE in the House but it won’t poop there.

Americans have always treated voting like it was root canal surgery.  That’s heart-breaking considering how hard some people have struggled to get here to vote AS AMERICANS, how willing others were to die — just to have a chance to live the lives Americans take for granted.  Like their Democracy.

It’s not just voting though.  It’s Civic Education.  Civic Pride.  Civic Sacrifice.

The first two are easy.  Even lazy ‘patriots’ can pull those off.  They can pick up a book.  Read some of our founding documents — not just the ‘easy ones’ (Declaration of Independence) but the more challenging ones too — Federalist Papers anyone?  Prospective Voters also can get educated by diving deeper into issues.  What are they really about?  What’s really at stake for who — and why (almost always the MOST important question — WHY?)

Civic Pride’s even easier.  Feeling good about The Greatest Country On The Planet should be easy.  But feeling good comes with a bit of responsibility.  It IS important what you’re feeling good ‘about’.  If you’re feeling good because America’s values are a Beacon To The World, that’s awesome.  If you’re feeling good because you’re waving a flag and you’ll happily shove the business end of your flagpole up the backside of any leftist who’d dare to burn a flag — well, you might be feeling good for the wrong reasons.

That brings us to the Problem Child in the bunch:  Civic Sacrifice.  The thing Americans hate the most.  Because it’s ‘sacrifice’.  Done ‘civilly’ — meaning ‘for the greater good’ and not ‘just for self’.  It’s not that Americans aren’t generous.

Americans are unfailingly generous.  But they have a weird animus toward their government — OUR government.  Some Americans see the government as a lethal assassin style Boogie Man capable of penetrating their brains, poisoning their garden furniture and turning their own bridgework into a spy satellite.  I hope like hell that no one so afflicted read any of that — I don’t want their going off the deep end on my conscience.

This isn’t all Americans — of course it isn’t.  It’s a wacky sub-set of Americans.

This wacky subset has fallen in love with a Mythic Figure (Americans — imagine!) — the Intrepid Frontiersman.  They think that’s them — the guy carving A Great Nation out of a Vast Wilderness.  Actually, that ‘Wilderness’ was someone else’s home but never mind.  Even their Mythic Figure is a shit.

THIS, strangely, has become, for many, the Proto-Patriot.  The Guy They Emulate for his ‘independence’ and ‘freedom lovin’.  And this guy?  He fears the government.  He loathes it because all it wants to do in his fever swamp of a mind is take away his Freedoms.  Well… actually, he’s only afraid they’ll take away his gun.

And,, perversely, that’s what motivates and motivated this guy.  It motivated him so much — his fear that a make-believe government would march — storm-trooper like of course — into his house to take his guns — that he made it his life’s work to re-imagine the Constitution as nothing BUT a justification for gun ownership (the fact that the Constitution says exactly the opposite be damned).  Well Regulated Militia, anyone?

The Gun Lobby — along with the Evangelicals who wanted to move heaven earth and our Whole Democracy to make abortion (and probably birth control itself) illegal.  They have hijacked our Democracy — by semi-legal means.  Ironically, what motivated them more than anything was demographics.  They saw what the numbers said:  There’s going to be less and less of THEM and more and more of THE OTHER.  Brown people, black people, people with foreign-sounding names and strange cultures and even stranger foods.

That scares some White People almost literally to death.

This Nativism does not go well with Democracy.  They are mutually exclusive propositions in fact.  Can’t share the same living space without killing each other.  This creates a Culture of Mistrust for Democracy.  Trusting other people?  Hell no.  Trusting your own kind?  Sure — worth a shot (you already know to get them before they get you).

These bastards somehow won the Culture War.  They must have — our Elite MSM keeps telling us that it’s THEIR disappointment at Life that’s driving everything.

The rest of us never even knew a Culture War was happening.  We were too busy living.  Too busy enjoying the benefits that knuckle-scraping Culture Warriors are at war against.  A big piece of that Culture War was aimed at Democracy.  Too many diverse people watering down the voting pool?  No way, Jose (to borrow an expression).

Americans need to cut the shit about what it IS to be an American.

Being an American — It was special my whole life.  I refuse to let Donald Trump and his band of GOPirates make being an American less special because they’re taking racism & bigotry & misogyny & corruption  to new and ‘exciting’ places.

First — we need to make Election Day A HOLIDAY.  It’s a Day Off Work to CELEBRATE the most Fundamental Right of BEING an AMERICAN — getting to VOTE.  We should rhapsodize about voting.  We should make it automatic that on your 18th birthday, like EVERY AMERICAN, YOU get registered to vote.

Then — We should do what Australia does.  They mandate that, on Election Day, you MUST go to your polling place.  Once there, you do not have to vote.  Once you sign in, you can leave immediately if that’s your wont.  Or you can vote whatever way you like.  You just have to show up.

Americans JUST HAVE TO SHOW UP.

It would be an awesome beginning.  Voting — as a muscle memory exercise — becomes easier to remember to do than NOT voting.

Weird, huh?

Then there’s the relationship between Americans and paying taxes.  Americans despise the idea of paying taxes because 1) it conflicts with their self-image as Frontier Guy and 2) Americans never see what they’re getting for those dollars taken from them and given to the government.  Americans perceive that they get nothing for the money — except less money in THEIR pocket.  If Americans could see the ‘benefits’ to paying taxes the way they see the benefit to paying more for a better cell phone or unlimited data — they’d pay it and maybe even shut up.

Not having to ever FIGHT to have the right to vote — or any of the other rights that belong to you because you are American — has made American Civic-Mindedness flabby and soft.  In these here times, it needs to be rock hard.  Six packs and pecs and bi-ceps all ripped to the max.  It takes had work and sacrifice to get your body in shape.

Democracy works exactly the same way.  With more sweat.