It Ain’t Black People That Need To “Get Over Slavery”, It’s The White People Who Keep Trying To Bring It Back!

Slavery is a terrible thing on every conceivable level. Its persistence is a permanent stain on humanity (and it’s lack of same). But, let’s be clear, it does persist. The desire of one group of people to enslave another group of people in this country did not end with the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. Let’s be equally clear about what slavery is in its most literal sense: stolen labor. That’s the whole point of enslaving another human (or an animal for that matter): to get their labor for free (minus the cost of housing, feeding and — if they’re a human — clothing them). If the numbers pencil out, the slave’s free labor is worth far, far more than the costs of keeping them in squalor. The southern colonies (before they became states) grew three cash crops — rice, sugar and cotton. Prior to industrialized farming, all three needed massive amounts of laborers to get them from field to marketplace. Capitalism preaches minimizing costs to maximize profit — if one of those minimized costs can be labor, well, you see where this went. The southern states institutionalized slavery (and some still justify this!) because otherwise, they couldn’t have afforded to be in business.

Profit over people is what motivates slavery. If money in your pocket means more than your humanity — for instance, how exactly that money got into your pocket — then slavery becomes acceptable in whatever form it takes, even if it isn’t literal slavery. In this country, we used to have “company towns” where a big corporation would employ pretty much everyone around. They’d use that fact to create an economic bubble where most of their employees couldn’t really afford to leave, couldn’t really afford to complain (or ask for a raise) and couldn’t really afford to even question anything. Voila — the modern slave. It all comes from underpaying people for their labor. A minimum wage of $7.25 is as close to the slavery bone as one could cut it. A person working a 40 hour week at the minimum wage will clear just a bit over $15,000 over the course of a year. Working a 40 hour work week. Hey — if they’re a restaurant worker — supposedly getting tipped — they only get $2/hour because the public is meant to make up the difference in their wages.

Slavery by any other name is still slavery. The objective is still the same. It starts with the pocketbook and goes on from there.

Take note of those objecting to raising the federal minimum wage to $15. Now, to (try to) be fair, it would be a hardship in many rural areas for small businesses to pay $15/hour. If we were to jump immediately to an across-the-country minimum of $15/hour, about one and a half million people would lose their jobs today. But — and here’s the part where we have to think a little more Big Picture (and there are ways to mitigate the job losses those million and a half rural Americans will suffer including UBI!) — on the other side of that hardship to one group of people is tremendous benefit for an overwhelming majority of Americans whose economic situations will all rise exponentially. In a very short time, even the million-and-a-half who lost their jobs initially would be swept up into the rising tide. And — if we had been compensating them via universal basic income until that happened, they, too, would benefit more quickly and to greater long term effect.

Greed inspires the shortest of short term thinking. All one can see is one’s own bank account, one’s own creature comforts, one’s own economic future. It’s a survival instinct. Same as tribalism. But the trick in living as successful social animals is to learn (and it’s not easy) to moderate these instincts appropriately — to deny them entirely when they’re counter-productive. Those instincts are all quite malleable. We can learn to compromise. But compromise can only happen between equally honest actors. If one side is using a compromise to gain an advantage then, in time, all compromise will break down because it’s all game-playing. One has to look at the Bigger Picture and be willing to sacrifice a little to get a lot.

Sounds hard to teach, I know. But it’s not.

If we began to teach kids civic pride (as opposed to blind nationalism) from the get-go (as some countries do!), we can raise more conscientious humans and Americans. Of course, we’ll have to divorce ourselves from the fiction of “the rugged individualist” who “alone can fix it!” That is pure, unadulterated, self-satisfied, only-white-people-could-possibly-imagine-it, Libertarian twaddle. The fact is, it takes a village to do anything successfully beginning with child-rearing. And the more diverse that village is, the more dynamic the child-rearing and everything the village does will be. Diversity is what makes America exceptional. It ain’t white people and their money — scheming ways to pay their diverse work force slave wages.

It’s the fact that slavery is stolen labor that makes reparations necessary. The entire Confederate economy was built on stolen labor — and that labor still needs to be paid for somehow. It just does. Thieves should NEVER get away with their thievery — especially when those thieves wear the mantle of power. To not compensate every descendant of slavery for the wealth stolen from their families would be to perpetuate the crime committed against them! But, hey — that’s only if we want to be “fair”. And slavers couldn’t give a rat’s ass about “fair”. They’re focused on “the bottom line”.

Profits over people. We know where this leads and we do not want to be here. Good thing there’s still time to get out of this vile, racist rabbit hole. Repeat — it ain’t Black people who need to get over slavery; they can’t “get over it” fast enough and get on with living the happy, successful, productive lives they’re entitled to live. It’s white people who keep the idea of slavery alive because that’s the America they want — the America where slavery kept everyone NOT white in their place. And it guaranteed to keep them there because no one could ever afford to escape from it.

Lie Down With Dogs, You Get Fleas; Lie Down With Republicans…

There’s a great line from “Raiders Of The Lost Ark” about Americans “…always overdressed and for the wrong occasions”. That’s your basic Republican yahoo. Wearing masks as they storm the capitol because they’re hiding their criminality. Meanwhile, in Naples, Florida, white privilege will NOT be masked! Republicans are what happens when greed convinces you that freedom equals “you’re not the boss of me”. It’s what happens when you’ve committed yourself lock, stock and barrel to denying the future by force-marching the entire culture (the overwhelming majority of Americans) literally at gun point into the past. Donald Trump didn’t change the Republican Party. He didn’t force them down a road they would never have travelled otherwise. Trump was a catalyst. He was the charisma the GOP needed to get people to look past their deplorable plans for America to a jingly-jangly set of MAGA keys. But, even as the Republican Party accepted Trump as their standard bearer back in 2016, they did it KNOWING he was a traitor.

Let’s get this straight — this is about Russia. It has always been about Russia. Russia, Russia, RUSSIA.

Every bit of obstruction of justice the Trumps, their enablers, their party played, was meant to cover up a secret that everyone already knows (but, apparently, not enough of us refuse to accept still): Donald Trump is a fully owned asset of Russian Military Intelligence. He has been for years. Everything he did upon entering the White House diminished America to Russia’s advantage. Who knows if we have any secrets left. There is a monster reveal coming at us: the entire Trump presidency from its swearing in onward was a massive crime scene and an act of treason.

Conspiracy works like this: “See something, SAY something; see something, say NOTHING?” We have to ask “why?” A month before nominating Trump their 2016 candidate for POTUS, current GOP Leader and mega-coward Kevin McCarthy walked into a GOP leadership meeting and said out loud (it was recorded): “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!” A discussion broke out amongst those there which then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan ended by insisting that knowledge of this fact — that their likely candidate for president was COMPROMISED by a hostile foreign power (in addition to one of their colleagues, California representative Dana Rohrbacher who everyone understood was a useful idiot) — was not going to leave the room. As Ryan put it: “That’s how we know we’re a family”.

Omerta in place of patriotism.

Conspiracy spreads easily. The meeting was recorded. There’s no arguing about what was said. The question is: who in the room already knew “Russia pays Rohrbacher and Trump?” Did any of them also know that Putin paid quite a few other Republicans, too? Did they suspect — even just a “soupcon”? If they did — and they didn’t tell someone — they committed a crime. It’s that simple. How many Republicans KNEW the truth about Trump? How many suspected — even in a small, seemingly insignificant way? With conspiracy, ownership is easy. Plenty of co-conspirators don’t actually know that that’s what they are — a co-conspirator in a crime — until it’s too late.

With conspiracy, you don’t have to know anything about the crime itself to be held criminally responsible for it. You don’t even have to suspect there was criminality involved. Conspiracy moves between people like a virus, sometimes spreading silently. Tacit understanding of a thing is still understanding that it “is”. So, why didn’t YOU pick up the damned phone and call the damned FBI?

You can flea bathe a dog. Stick a flea collar on a cat or (if you’re brave) stick a pill down its throat and voila! No fleas. Now you can lie down said dog (or cat) problem-free! Not so easy with a Republican however. There’s no way to rinse off the stink of corruption. We may have caught what the Republicans have just from thinking about them — that’s how deep the rot is.

Even among themselves, Republicans are so corrupt — and so afraid of each others’ corruption that they took a secret vote on whether or not to kick Lynn Cheney from power. The Republicans said one thing out loud (she has to go!) but something different when anonymous. That, right there, is the very essence of modern republicanism: duplicity, dishonesty and dickishness.

To stand with Marjorie Taylor Greene is to stand — proudly — with racism, anti-Semitism, authoritarianism, sedition, treason, lunacy and bullshit (not necessarily in that order). Silence is tacit approval. You might as well get in the shot. Smile pretty for the camera!

The photo Republicans like Taylor Greene will be posing for shortly will be a booking photo. That’s the answer to the question — what you’ll get if you lie down with Republicans: you will get booked.

Now, lawyer up…

Dear Donald Trump: How Was The First Day Of The Rest Of Your Life?

Yesterday felt like we finally got over the worst bout of food poisoning imaginable. We knew the moment America “swallowed” Trumpism that Trump would put every single one of our systems through hell. I know I wasn’t alone in literally weeping with joy as I watched Joe and Kamala be sworn in, watched Lady Gaga and Garth Brooks both tear it up, watched Amanda Gorman speak a poem that seemed to drill right into our souls. Damn, what Ms. Gorman recited was incredible — it was like a warm, burbling stream that you could step into at any point and instantly feel what she was thinking about. All day, our collective reaction to Donald Trump exiting stage right felt like a dark cloud lifting.

Trump exited the building as gracelessly as he entered it. Shocking, right? Just to go the eff away, he needed pomp and circumstance. He needed every last bit of smoke he could generate from the wreckage he’d left behind blown up his bloated orange ass. I wish we had delivered Trump directly TO Mar a Lago yesterday — from 35,000 feet sans parachute. Perhaps, as the indictments start to appear at his front door, demanding attention, Trump will start to feel like he’s falling from 35,000 feet with no way to stop it.

Pariah-hood for Trump is a good beginning. It’s what he’s deserved his whole life. It will sting way more now because, at his age, he’s completely incapable of adapting or finding other alternative ways to keep it cash flowed. The adoration of money is what Trump has instead of feelings. Threaten his money, you threaten his feelings. Stomp on his wallet, you’ve wounded his heart.

Freeze Donald Trump’s bank account — you’ve pulled the plug on his existence. Without money, Trump can’t keep justice at bay. If justice comes calling — like a wolf at Trump’s door — Trump will have no way to stop it from devouring him and his whole family. Never mind Trump surviving years of being a federal prisoner (or a state prisoner if that happens first). Trump may not get through one night in detention without every physical ailment his diet and lifestyle have exacerbated suddenly becoming an existential emergency. Of course Trump fears going to jail. Who doesn’t?

But, for Trump, it means the literal end. Contemplating prison is contemplating mortality. As he flew home on Air Force One, his empire of bullshit collapsing around him, Trump knew he’d be landing as much in hot water as in Florida.

I bet the SDNY is already moving to convert Donald Trump from his status as the “unindicted co-conspirator” known as “individual 1” in Michael Cohen’s felony election fraud conviction to a fully INDICTED co-conspirator. The only thing ever standing between Trump and that indictment was time — and Trump losing the election — and therefore losing the “immunity” from prosecution he benefited from (though he should never have benefitted from it). Trump is about to meet the E. Jean Carroll buzz saw head on — and that will be even uglier for Trump.

The last 36 hours of Trump’s presidency was increasingly bizarre because so many forces were actively at work. The big overhanging question — aside from who-all would Trump pardon before leaving — remains “will the Senate convict Trump?” Trump needs the Senate to NOT convict him — desperately. If the Senate were to convict Trump (making him the first POTUS ever 1) to be impeached twice and 2) first POTUS ever to be impeached AND convicted), they’d move on to the next question they’re obligated to ask: “shall this person to be allowed to run for public office again EVER?” For Trump, THAT’S the danger inherent in being convicted by the Senate.

Trump doesn’t want anyone asking that question about him because if they’re asking, the answer’s going to be “no”. Trump can never run for public office ever again. That will mean Trump can’t raise campaign cash to theoretically use for getting elected (but that he’d actually use to cash flow his life or pay his legal bills). With the Trump brand’s collapse — caused partly by the pandemic and partly because who wants to give money to a traitor — he can’t rely on the hospitality business to keep him afloat.

Trump’s in desperate financial straits. His presidency has now completely and utterly destroyed his brand. The Trump name is synonymous with corruption, sedition and (soon enough) treason. Think Coca Cola wants to co-brand with that? That’s what would happen if they gave a traitor campaign cash. It’d be “Hey, drink Coca Cola! It’s the official cola of traitors everywhere!” Think Ford wants its trucks to be how “seditionists sedition”? Only traitors want to be a traitor’s pal — or the co-conspirator who keeps stuffing cash in the traitor’s pocket.

Treason, as most Fortune 500 companies will tell you, is terrible for business.

With his properties losing value and huge, balloon payments on ridiculous loans coming due, Trump’s somewhere north of $400 million in the hole. He owes — in total — north of a billion. And Deutschebank, one of his main financial bitches, just told him “Enough!” They don’t want to be in business with him anymore either. With other money sources drying up or, like Sheldon Adlestein, actually dying, Trump needs the sucker bait factory that a having Political Action Committee (a PAC) legally permits the way a vampire needs a fresh blood supply.

Donald Trump’s election sent this country into a psychological tailspin unequaled in history. I betcha that will be duly noted in history books — how, in the aftermath of November 2016, a significant portion of America sought intense therapy to deal with the trauma they felt. Trumpism was bad for plenty of Americans, but it was awfully good for the psychotherapy business. Considering how long the PTSD is likely to last, therapy should continue to be growth industry for quite a while longer.

Though LOSING the election by a lot, Trump has still reaped a whopping $210 million in cash by bamboozling people into thinking some kind of “fight” still remained to be fought. Trump sees re-election the way he saw election in the first place — as a cash cow for him to use up and then plow into with his golf cart, killing it. IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE MONEY! Take that to the bank and get richer than rich.

What America needs — what it yearns for — is justice. Donald Trump assaulted us (like the rapist he is). That can’t go unmarked or unpunished. As a victim of sexual assault who’s on the mend, let me assure you — until you 1) admit something was done to you, 2) that it’s not your fault, and 3) that the person who did this is a bad person for doing this to you, you can’t 4) start to heal. There is right, there is wrong. We need both to acknowledge these things and we need to acknowledge that we’re acknowledging it.

Trump didn’t just violate the law with impunity, he violated our sense of decency. While he unintentionally exposed some terrible truths about who America really is, Trump wanted to exploit those terrible truths and ride them to a state of permanent minority rule. Too bad democracy got in his way.

Merrick Garland will both revert Justice back to how it was when Obama was POTUS and make it even better at carrying out its mission. Trumpian corruption is like the ugliest Christmas sweater ever knit by human hands. It’s also badly made. Pull one of the many threads hanging off it and the whole rotten garment will instantly fall apart.

Just like Donald Trump’s life is about to.

Yesterday was a terrible, terrible day for Trump. Today will be even worse and tomorrow will make today look like a picnic.

E. Jean Carroll’s success against Trump will create a cottage industry. Once it’s safe to go after Trump — his NDA’s now being toothless because they covered criminal activity — I bet most of the women we know about and plenty that we’ve never heard of will seek justice and satisfaction from Trump.

Charges of tax fraud and insurance fraud will land on Trump. His taxes will finally see the sunlight. His adult children will find themselves in deeper shit than they ever imagined shit could be piled. We don’t think Trump pardoned himself or his adult children but that doesn’t mean he didn’t. It would have cost Trump nothing to do a silent pardon for himself and his family. That is a possibility and it’s completely legal — these will only ever come to light if Trump or his family are charged with something. That’s when they’d have to pull their “get outta jail” cards from their corrupt pocket.

Then we’ll take it to the SCOTUS where — rest assured — Trump will lose. By then, Trump and his crime family will stand utterly naked, utterly alone, utterly exposed.

The only place left to run will be Russia. Putin will welcome them — with open arms even. He’ll greet them as the heroes that they are — to Russia. For a year or so, things will go swimmingly. On the surface anyway. But, once Trump stops being useful to Putin, he stops being worth keeping around. Or alive.

One night — quite suddenly — a group of thugs will round up every last Trump and take them to a secret location where they’ll all be “Romanov-ed” just like the last Czar’s family. Perhaps, being vain and stupid, the Trumps — like the Romanovs — will think they’re about to pose for a picture — something they’re all fond of doing. I’m not sure if they’ll all be ready for that day’s “close up”, but I feel pretty certain the rest of the world will be.

America Has To Reimagine Its Democracy — And How Its News Media Reports On It

When history looks back at the Trump era — asking how the hell it could have happened — after they compile a massive list of all the Republican Party’s corruption, they’ll compile a similarly massive list of all the ways our news media normalized, spread and profited from the GOP’s corruption. Journalism is the only non-governmental job enumerated in the Constitution. It shouldn’t be the collecting pool for egomaniacs who like to be on TV. It shouldn’t base its reporting on the demonstrably false assertion that “both sides do it”.

Because it’s bullshit.

Our system (unfortunately) forces us to make binary choices. This or that. The legislative process itself is supposed to be about compromise but the final choice of whether to do or not do is “yes” v “no”. It’s just the nature of binary choices that they increase polarization and reduce nuance. Both sides may do “something” but they’re not doing the same something — because they’re motivated by different things.

“Modern” Republicans (an oxymoron if ever there was one) are good at marching in lockstep. Modern Democrats not so much. Up until the 2020 election — where Democrats have unified like never before — we were still the exact same group about which Will Rogers said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. See, American News Media? NOT the same thing. Unorganized people CAN’T march in lockstep together.

Both sides don’t oppress the other sides voters. Both sides don’t think it’s normal to use the courts to stop counting votes. Both sides don’t embrace herd immunity as the way to solve our pandemic problem. Both sides don’t acknowledge on the down low that Donald Trump is the worst thing to ever hit America but, hey, “tax breaks”, ya know?

Both sides are not cynical. Only one side is — and that, unfortunately for us, is the side our news media keeps emulating. “Both sides do it” is a cynical sledge hammer where scalpel-like skepticism is called for. It’s malpractice atop bad writing atop brain dead, perspective-free analysis.

When we get to the other side of the Donald Trump Debacle — and we will because the overwhelming majority of Americans are done, done, DONE with Donald Trump and his Corruption Meets Treason Meets Fascism road show. We’re hip now to the stone cold fact that Trump did not “win” election in 2016, Russia won it FOR him (not the same thing). We’re hip to the fact that Trump just tried to pull the exact same illegal stunt THIS time (he thought the Hunter Biden computer would be this election season’s “but, her emails!”). That stunt, by the way, is what got Trump IMPEACHED!

Don’t forget: Trump is the first POTUS ever to run for re-election having been impeached for cheating in the very election HE’S RUNNING IN. That’s quite an accomplishment.

The last four year’s debasement of our political system has made clear: relying on norms over enforceable laws is foolhardy. Everything must be spelled out for some people — what’s illegal and what isn’t. Even so, they’ll still try to violate the spirit of the law while keeping to its letter. Perhaps if we baked a respect for the commonweal into our education system, we’d “indoctrinate” some of the greed and selfishness out of people.

Ours is a government OF the People, BY the People and FOR the people. That’s how self-government works. We do it for US. Anyone who stands outside of that larger purpose — and then tries to manifest their disrespect for our purpose in reality — to our detriment — needs to pay a price. Funny thing? When you hit greedy people in the pocketbook, the feel it even worse than if you had cut off a limb.

Makes punishing them easier.

While having to punish people sucks, real problems begin if we DON’T punish those deserving of our collective punishment. Bad behavior becomes more viable. Cheating to win becomes “one more way to win”. If we had punished Richard Nixon instead of pardoning him, the surviving Nixonites like Roger Stone and Paul Manafort would have been less inclined to act so subversively — because their subversion carried real risk.

Unfortunately, we keep cutting Republicans slack. We forget who they are and what they’ve done. Take Bill Barr. Lying about the Mueller Report wasn’t Barr’s first time at the “fix Republican criminality” rodeo. He covered up the Iran-Contra scandal so completely we don’t even remember it anymore. He covered up his cover-up so completely that a bunch of DEMOCRATS even approved Barr’s nomination — as if he hadn’t, in the past, taken a great, steaming dump all over them and the whole idea of “justice”.

To this day, most of our news media members have failed to do the same rudimentary due diligence on Donald Trump that Fusion GPS did when they got hired to do oppo research on Trump by the owners of the Washington Free Beacon back in 2016. The first thing Fusion did, co-founder Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017, was get ahold of every piece of PUBLICLY AVAILABLE information concerning Donald J. Trump. They got every book, magazine, newspaper, radio show, TV show, interview, snippet or blind item they could. What they found in PUBLICLY AVAILABLE material so convinced them that Trump was a Russian mob money laundering criminal that they hired Chris Steele to further investigate inside Russia.

Americans have already gone to the polls in record-breaking numbers because we want to preserve (and improve upon) our democracy. After we finish punishing the Republican Party for trying so hard to undermine that democracy, we will turn our gaze on the press.

I hope they’ll all be ready for their close up when the time comes…

So, What If — In This Transformational Moment — We “Could” Get It Right? What Would “Getting It Right” Look Like?

America’s dirtiest secret is out: we have never lived up to the ideals on which our country was founded. In part, that’s because the European men who founded America couldn’t themselves live up to the ideals. Some compromises should never be made. After all, how can you compromise with evil? What’s the outcome — semi-evil?

We “compromised” with slavery. But slavery never compromised with us. Evil never does.

Another compromise at the start — women were not granted equal rights. I guess the founders were being literal by “All MEN are created equal”.

Getting great ideas to the finish line in one piece is tough. And, democracy, as we’ve learned, has a lot of “sausage-making” to it. That’s compromise for you. And that’s making compromises with ideas that deserve to be compromised with. They’re not evil like, say, slavery.

We’ve now come face to face with our most original sin — the racism that compromises all men being created equal. Equal people cannot own each other.

But it’s not just racism that’s bedeviled us. Greed has had a go at us too. Greed and racism rut like demonic weasels. Here in America it’s produced a value system that’s completely ass backwards. We pay social influencers a ton while paying teachers so little that some have to take second jobs to pay their bills.

We think a high school “education” is so essential that we automatically pay for it. But try to add four more years — where we begin to refine those minds so as to make them genuinely useful? Suddenly it’s “socialism”. I guess it’s just a coincidence that — to pay for that part of our childrens’ educations — we’ve set up a whole for-profit business of lending kids money to pay for those educations. Corporate socialism is okey-dokey, as always. That’s greed talking.

Blue sky here. We don’t need to sledgehammer our system, we need to re-focus it — away from “me” and toward “we”.

That means we need to completely and forever disabuse ourselves of the notion that any one person can fix anything by themselves. To fix anything — or raise a child — it DOES take a village. And that village needs to be well-funded and well-organized. We want everyone to be the best and most individual “they” that they can be. But never, ever at the expense of the “we”. No “me” can ever have more weight before the law than any other “me” or the whole collection of “me’s” that produce “we”.

We need to win every argument with me. If we start from there, it’s almost assured that we’ll get it right because our focus and framing will be correct. Part of my blue sky here takes into consideration the fact that more and more women (and women of color) are pouring into American politics. If there’s any salvation to be had — that’s where it will come from. It would not be a terrible thing if just about every white male got out of politics for an election cycle or two.

We would do the following things: we would value education and educators over just about anyone and anything.

We would value health CARE over health INSURANCE (they are not the same thing).

We would teach our young people not how to memorize (so as to pass tests) but how to think analytically. We’d teach them how to write and express themselves articulately. We would teach them how to communicate — both directly and honestly. We would teach them to be respectful of everyone.

We would teach them how America works and that freedom is not “free” — it comes with huge responsibilities and obligations. Voting, for example.

We would give every single child the same benefits and advantages, the same access to health care and opportunity. We need to be almost maniacal about this — getting every kid the same chances. America has a remarkable brain trust that no other nation has because no other country is the product of every other country on earth creating it, in essence.

America isn’t a perfect melting pot. Parts of the pot never get the same heat as other parts do. And the different elements don’t melt together into a homogenized end product of indeterminate origin. America and Americans are a hybrid. Nothing like us has ever existed before.

That really should be our goal — to recognize 1) that America IS exceptional though 2) not for the reasons we’ve told ourselves but 3) now that we understand what makes us exceptional, we intend to do everything we can to nurture every last drop of our exceptionalism.

If we can pull that off, the sky’s the limit.

Capitalism Doesn’t Have To Crush People — Only CRONY Capitalism Does That

Like all ideas, capitalism itself is neither good nor bad. It’s just an idea — a foundational notion of how a society might live, using capital as a motivator for innovation. Capitalism, by its nature, looks to the future. It depends on tomorrow being better than today — it needs new ideas, new inventions, new ways of doing things constantly churning in order to succeed. Money chases ideas because a good idea can make someone rich but also benefit a wide swath of humanity because capitalism has also innovated how to mass produce, market and distribute that good idea.

The trick, as always, is who is at the helm of the idea. Who’s driving it?

Capitalism plus greed — unfortunately the easiest combination of all — produces chaos and corruption and blight. Greed — the compulsive getting of money (or anything) for its own sake — though it seems to run alongside capitalism — actually is an impediment to it. Greed kills innovation. It’s rarely the greedy people who do any of the actual innovating. But damn if they’re not first in line when the money starts flowing. And damn if they don’t refuse to budge when it happens.

We associate capitalism with conservatism — the getting of huge piles of money seems like something old people, landed people, already-wealthy people, greedy people would associate with happiness. But conservatism never thinks about the future. Conservatism wants to conserve — just like it’s name says. It wants to conserve the past (what else?) and the present (because the present still contains elements of the past). Innovation poses a direct threat to that way of thinking. How could it not? Innovation innovates because it sees problems in how we do things now. How can we improve upon past ways? How can change them?

See the problem for conservatives?

The truth is, capitalism and progressivism have far more common purpose than capitalism and conservatism. Crony capitalism is greed perverting markets. It isn’t actually a form of capitalism, it’s a distortion of it.

The more fair capitalism is, the better it is — because it gives more people the chance to both innovate and benefit. That means regulating it. Over-regulation can stifle capitalism as much as corruption does — there is a fine balance. Ain’t nothing perfect in this world — not if humans are involved. Let’s stop thinking it exists.

Social democracies resting upon the Rule Of law (so that everyone is indeed treated equally before the law) and a reasonably regulated capitalism would give more people the chance to live better, happier, healthier lives.

Regulated capitalism puts more money into peoples’ hands. When more people have money — a healthy, functioning middle class — they spend that money on goods and services — the basis for a consumer driven market economy. They may even save a buck or two. Our version of capitalism here in America hasn’t done that. As we know — it’s done the opposite. The rich have gotten way richer, the poor can’t even afford to go to a hospital if they have Covid-19.

And — ironically? That fact is what makes the pandemic so much worse here in America. Our health system is a giant billboard advertising everything wrong with crony capitalism. It’s not a health CARE system, it’s a health INSURANCE system. The first question we ask anyone walking in the door isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” That’s wrong every which way you look at it.

Think of all the people who lose their houses, go bankrupt, destroy their family’s finances for generations all because they got sick. That doesn’t happen anywhere else but here. It’s because capitalism sits inside our health “care” system — where it does not belong. Capitalism can innovate myriad ways to do health CARE better, more efficiently, more effectively.

That’s if we use capitalism — this idea — as a tool. To help as many human beings around the globe as possible. Capitalism has been good for mankind. It has made life better for us as a species. We’ve prospered under it. That’s just historical fact speaking.

It’s caused profound misery too.

But — if we’re fair — little of that was capitalism’s fault.

The Cruel, Cruel Truth About Conservatives: They’re All CRUEL

The faces of conservatism. What, do ya suppose, these young monsters want to “conserve”?

What’s in a name? Everything. Want to know what conservatives really, really want? It’s right there in their names: conservatives want to CONSERVE.

Now ask “what?”. WHAT do conservatives want to conserve?

You can’t conserve the future — it doesn’t exist.

But, you can control the present, in a sense. You can do things to keep present circumstances from changing. Well, you can do things to keep what humans do from changing. As we all know, we can’t really do much to keep our environment from changing. Not now, anyway, we’ve already set the worst in motion. Conservatives don’t give a flying fig about that. That’s the future — and they intend for the future to be exactly like the past.

Conservatives are always trying to jam square pegs through round holes. They aren’t the actual square pegs or the round holes — they’re just the ones trying to make them all fit together regardless of how much they don’t fit, never have and never will. That’s the basic operating principle of conservatism — you ignore the situation on the ground in favor of the one in your head. Your goal — make the one on the ground match the one in your head.

Funny thing? It never does. Conservatives never achieve their goal — of turning back the clock. Consequently, fewer and fewer people want to do what conservatives want (thus white America’s conundrum).

Conservatives want other people to behave themselves even as they don’t. They want other people to follow the law — even as they break it. They want other people to do what they say — just because they say.

Conservatives are almost always “religious” — in the sense that they say they believe in “God”. And they do. They believe THEY are “God” — and, as with the imaginary “God” of the Abrahamic texts, conservatives who believe they are God also believe that God-like Magic flows from them: what they say goes! Cos “God” said it.

And who is going to say no to “God”?

Down deep, conservatism demands bullying to have its way. How can it not? It keeps telling people what it wants them to do — but they say “no, thanks — we’d rather do it differently”. Conservatives should have taken their ball and gone home.

They didn’t.

Instead, they decided to change the rules of the game without telling anybody. In fact, they stopped playing the game entirely. They plotted with another neighborhood bully — guy named Vladimir — to start a whole new game — their game. How were they going to get us to quit our game and play theirs? Well, it wasn’t going to be by calmly explaining the rules to us — and selling us legitimately on why their game was better than our game.

Because their game sucks unless you’re them. We were never going to want to play their game.

Which meant bullying us instead. Cheating any way they could — like bullies.

There’s not a single thing Republicans have done since Donald Trump became president that doesn’t reek of cruelty. Hell — there’s not a single thing Republicans have done since… Lincoln? — that didn’t reek of cruelty. But, let’s remind ourselves: Lincoln’s Republican Party is not the contemporary Republican Party. As Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party points out, in virtually every way, the modern Republican and Democratic parties have switched names with the Republican and Democratic parties of Lincoln’s time.

Republicans have always treasured treasure over human life. It’s just a stone cold fact — if money is your “god”, then greed is your mantra and cruelty is the nature of your faith.

It Turns Out Mitch McConnell Is An Even Bigger Villain Than We Knew

Mitch McConnell is Evil Personified As A Treason Turtle

If you haven’t read Jane Mayer’s piece on Mitch McConnell in the New Yorker, do. Read it. Familiarize yourself with Mitch’s story. Understand who Mitch McConnell is — what he wants and why. If you want to understand how we got into this fiasco — a corrupt president chosen by a hostile foreign power unchecked by “The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” (which is busily installing judges hostile to the majority) — you have to understand Mitch.

Not that there’s much to understand. Mitch believes in nothing except money and power. That’s it. Early on, he learned that what you say while running for office need not have anything to do with what happens once you’re IN office. Cynicism is baked in to Mitch’s DNA — as is corruption. He genuinely believes that the end always justifies the means — regardless of how corrupt those means are.

At no point in his life or political career has McConnell ever Jones’d for democracy. He’s never held a lofty ideal about public service or the commonweal. He couldn’t give a rat’s ass about his Kentucky constituents because, to Mitch, the hardscrabble white trash he grew up part of means nothing to him. He needs their votes come election time (when he’ll deliver a goody — like a Russian owned aluminum factory that required the lifting of sanctions to pull off). But, otherwise, Mitch happily shrugs off some of the lowest approval numbers among anyone in the Senate.

Nobody loves Mitch McConnell. Literally NOBODY.

His first wife doesn’t love him. Neither does his second wife, Elaine Chao. She and Mitch may appreciate each other — enabling each other’s greed the way they do — but that’s not love of “each other”. That’s love of the corruption the other makes possible.

Mitch’s three daughters don’t love him. They detest his politics.

Mayer tells the story of the first time Mitch ever ran for office — as high school student council president. Then as now, Mitch lacked the charisma to pull it off. He knew (as he told his mother) that “I don’t have a single friend”. Wonder why that was…

I bet it has something to do with what Mitch wrote on the blackboard during a class he taught at the University of Louisville what he insisted were the three essentials in politics and running for office: “Money. Money. Money”.

Belief in anything — a reason to use the money — a common purpose the money could be used for — is absent from Professor McConnell’s list. That’s because Mitch does not believe in anything except the getting of money for the getting of money’s sake.

Multiple people (of both political persuasions), all with experience of Mitch, agree: Mitch is easily one of the most corrupt politicians to ever sully the American stage. That makes Mitch happy (he still says out loud how his proudest accomplishment was denying Merrick Garland (and therefore Barrack Obama) so much as a hearing. Before that, it would have been keeping Obama a one-term POTUS (despite his popularity with the majority of Americans).

Mitch isn’t interested in what the majority wants. In fact, he’s made it his life’s work to deny the majority its voice and force the (rich) white Christian voice of his moneyed overlords (the Kochs especially) down the majority’s unwilling throat. That means Mitch has literally dedicated his whole career to undermining democracy. As President Coronavirus-Lover said: “If everyone voted, it would be very bad for Republicans”. Mitch, too, lives by that principle.

Mayer’s piece isn’t the final statement on McConnell. Like all good journalism, it asks as many questions as it answers. We need to ask: how much corruption has Mitch McConnell gotten away with over the course of his political career?

I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that the turnout in November (via vote-by-mail) will be so massive that even the GOP’s stepped up cheating and voter suppression operations can’t stop it or mitigate it enough to change the outcome: the near elimination in many parts of the country of even the semblance of a Republican Party presence. Republicans didn’t just hitch their wagon to Trump (and therefore Vlad Putin), they co-branded with him from top to bottom.

Republicanism is Trumpism is Corruption & Treason.

And Mitch McConnell was the lynch pin that held it all together. Some of us have seen McConnell for the villain he is from way back. When he snubbed Merrick Garland and Obama, he was really snubbing We The People. Every time McConnell tried to kill the ACA, we saw his villainy. When McConnell led Trump’s acquittal in the Senate — without allowing a lick of evidence to mar the proceedings — he took his villainy to a new level.

Who knew Mitch had even more cruel malevolence in him. Apparently the coronavirus did. Mitch doesn’t care if his own constituents live or die. He definitely doesn’t care if any other Americans die. The quickest, surest, fairest and best way to help America and Americans during this crisis would have been to cash flow every single American – with minimal questions asked — for the duration. Stay home until it’s safe. Spend the money on food and what you need. Kinda like what other countries have done.

Mitch wouldn’t dream of proving to everyone how much better and more successful a progressive policy would be than his own greedy need to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Remember — Mitch has no agenda other than serving his monied masters.

So, in addition to betraying every American by selling us out to his backers, Mitch has betrayed us by selling us out to Russia. And now he intends to starve us all.

When we get to the other side of this mess — when the Rule Of Law is back in force — when every single Republican is fighting the legal battle of their lives (and losing because their treachery and conspiracy are all well-evidenced already) — we will finally get to examine Mitch’s role. That won’t turn out well for Mitch. He’s guilty of a whole lot of wrong-doing. My bet is this: Mitch’s name will replace Benedict Arnold’s as what Americans call traitors.

For example: “Hey — you like Russia more than America, you Mitch McConnell!”

I’ve written here about my desire to see Mitch get all the rotten karma he deserves. Turns out, I was underestimating Mitch all along. He’s a villain all right. Just a bigger, badder, worse villain than even this storyteller could imagine.

How lucky for us that the one thing Republicans are good at is being corrupt.

We’re ALL Greedy In One Way Or Another; Our Obligation — Keep “Our” Greed In Check

[NOTE: This blog post is being shared with our sister site “The Faitheism Project“]

Not everyone is greedy for money.  Some people are greedy for love and couldn’t care less about money.

Some of us are greedy for credit.  We’ll take ownership of work and labor that we did not do.

Some are greedy for other peoples’ joy.  They can’t bear to see any one else experiencing pleasure when they’re not.

Some people are greedy for power.

We still live in the shadow of the movie “Wall Street”‘s Gordon Gekko.  “Greed is good”.  Funny thing, for a while there, America believed him.  The Republican Party still does.   I won’t get political here; that’s what my “How To Live Bullshit Free Blog” is all about.  But greed is the bottom line in America right now.  We now know that the Trump Administration made a “trade deal” with China that 1) lets them off the hook for covering up the fact that the coronavirus was achieving pandemic status inside China (that virus broke into humans is a whole other question), 2) gives Trump much more favorable terms on the rents the Chinese pay him in his various real estate ventures (this is so corrupt it’s breath-taking!), 3) gives Trump leverage on the giant balloon payment he personally owes the Chinese shortly (our foreign policy is based on who Trump owes money to!) and 4) had Trump sending all our PPE’s to CHINA in February & March — while OUR front line health care workers begged for them AND DIED because they DIDN’T have them.

Greed is literally lethal.

And we’re all guilty of it — in one way or another.  The trick is — most of us learn how to keep our greed (whatever it’s for) in check.  At least, we keep it in check enough so that our loved ones don’t strangle us.  Still — it’s our obligation.  And it starts with recognizing that we’re “guilty as charged”.

Greed, at its root, is a survival strategy.  If you don’t know what tomorrow brings and you may never eat again — that whole woolly mammoth carcass is staying right here, pal!  But we know, most of us, where our next meal is coming from.  Those at the top have the least cause to be greedy.  And yet — they always seem to be the greediest.

Our coronavirus pandemic experience will change us profoundly.  There’s no way around it.  The only way out, going forward, is “progressive” in nature.  America will have to become more socialized.  As we now know — it only takes ONE sick individual to infect the whole world.  And if no one knows that it’s happening — because the sick person can’t afford health care?  We’re off to the pandemic races again.

And — don’t forget — the damage we’ve already done to the environment via climate change will itself introduce pathogens into the human environment that humans have never encountered — those pathogens having been frozen into the permaforst for tens of millions of years.  It will be like Jurassic Park — except the prehistoric creatures rampaging will be microscopic and the place they’ll be raging through will be our bodies.   We need to plan for pandemics being a “way of life”.  That flat out demands a socialized medical system.

America, right now, doesn’t have a health CARE system.  We have a health INSURANCE system.  It’s not the same thing.  When anyone walks in the door, needing help, our first question isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?”  That’s because we have profit incentive at the heart of our “health care system” and profit incentive & health care are mutually exclusive propositions.  There are reasons no other civilized country has profit incentive in its health care system.  Covid-19 is the reason.

The reason WE still have profit incentive in our health care system?

Let’s all say it together: GREED.

The Reason Both Sides Don’t “Do It” Is Because Both Sides Aren’t The Same

Our news media insists (all evidence to the contrary) that the only difference between a Republican and a Democrat is the letter next to their name.

No, they’re not the same. Of course they’re not. Republicans, being conservatives, want to CONSERVE. Being as you can’t conserve the future, conservatives want to conserve the present but more exactly conservatives want to “conserve” the past. Just like their name says.

Progressives on the other hand want to (as THEIR name suggests) PROGRESS. Being as you can’t “progress” into the past — and you really can’t “progress into the present”, Progressives put their energies into getting as many people as possible to progress into the future — where we all belong.

So — both sides want diametrically different things. Whatever both sides might be doing, IT’S NOT THE SAME THING.

Come election time (if they could only put cheating aside), conservatives want to restrict voting as much as possible. The demographics are completely against them; the more that vote, the worse conservative chances are. That’s because the “glorious past” that conservatives dream of returning to is the 1850’s where everyone knew their place — men, women, white people and especially black people.

Democrats and Progressives, by contrast, want to bring as many Americans into the voting process as the possibly can. Why wouldn’t they? Democracy works best when it reflects as many voices as possible. Ever notice how Republican voter suppression efforts are never aimed at Republican voters? That’s not a coincidence.

By the same token, if the brown-skinned people fleeing Central American drug violence (that’s mostly our fault) were reliable Republican voters? They’d be limo’d across the border, handed a passport and be dropped off at the first employment office they came to. Complete with a credit card.

Both sides don’t lock children up in cages — and then justify it. Both sides don’t betray allies as easily as they breathe. Both sides don’t take money from the poor and middle class to give to the rich. Both sides aren’t actively trying to destroy our environment out of pure stupid greed. Both sides don’t seek to dismantle the whole federal government. Both sides don’t conspire with hostile foreign powers to circumvent the will of the American People.

Both sides do not commit treason to maintain political power.

Only ONE side does that — Republicans. It’s just how they’re wired.