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.

Dear America – We Have A Health INSURANCE System, Not A Health CARE System; They’re NOT The Same Thing

Until we get the framing right, we’ll never fix the problem: our health CARE system is broken because it’s NOT a health CARE system. It’s a health INSURANCE system.

The first question anyone gets asked when they walk into any facility for health CARE isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How ya gonna pay for this?” Right off the bat, that’s ass backwards. The inmates are in full control of the asylum.

No other industrialized nation has a system like ours — where most Americans get their health INSURANCE (not care) through their employer. There’s a reason — and it’s not because we’re so clever and exceptional. It’s a historical anomaly that we’ve simply never dealt with, addressed or even admitted to.

Back during World War II, every available dollar was put toward the war effort. Rules prohibited companies from giving employees raises or raising salaries for new hires. Big companies, wanting to compete for the best employees, needed another incentive so they began offering free health care — well, they’d pay the insurance premiums.

Note — big companies were able to do it because they could afford (at first) to handle the additional admin and cost of running a health insurance program. As the war went on, more big companies offered the same health insurance benefit. Then the war ended… but the health insurance benefit didn’t — even though it should have.

After the war, all those big companies looked to get out of the health insurance business. They subcontracted out the work to the burgeoning health insurance industry to serve as the “gatekeepers” between workers and their health CARE. To keep costs down, the insurance companies eventually cut deals with doctors to get better rates. All very reasonable except that the insurance companies had now created EXCLUSIVITY where there wasn’t any.

Suddenly insurance companies could control which patients a doctor could see. And then they made their gatekeeping integral to the whole health CARE system itself.

Corporations — like health insurance companies — have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders (the preferred class, not the regular class of shareholders) first and foremost. They have NO actual responsibility to “patients”. The insurance company doesn’t actually care what happens to any patient. It’s in their interest to spend the least they can get away with on each patient while collecting the maximum amount of income from him/her.

Is universal single payer perfect? FFS, there’s no such thing as “perfect”. But at least it takes the FOR PROFIT gatekeepers out of the health CARE equation. There will still be gatekeepers for sure — government gatekeepers. But We The People can control how they keep the health care gates for us. We can’t do the same with a corporation.

It is even more absurd to run around all Chicken Little-like about Elizabeth Warren says she’d pay for her Medicare For All plan — without comparing it to either 1) what our current health INSURANCE system costs each & every one of us in cold, hard cash terms or 2) ever asking a Republican EVER what their “health care plans” cost or how THEY might get around to paying for it.

FFS – the Republicans pulled off a massively destructive (to the middle class) tax cut to the rich that they had no intention of every paying for — except by gutting social security and welfare.

America keeps getting tripped up by greed. Greed is what allows Big Pharma to charge extortionist prices for insulin when it’s inside America’s borders and reasonable prices everywhere else.

Greed never makes anyone smarter. It ain’t gonna cure anyone’s ills either.

Hey, America — Here’s A Radical Idea: Let’s Tax The Ignorant

I hope like hell this isn’t a revelation: ignorance is blissful only for the ignorant.  Ignorance is expensive as hell for everyone else.

Ignorance is caused by lack of information.  Willful ignorance is a refusal to accept information that would cure the ignorance.  Stupidity, on the other hand, is just that — stupidity.  It’s deep-seated dopiness; dim-wittedness on steroids. 

There’s less hope for the stupid than the ignorant.  In theory, one can inform the ignorant.  The stupid… they’re too stupid to learn anything.  That’s a big part of their problem.  It’s why they’re stupid.  

Though many, many stupid people are ignorant, a stupid person can’t ever be willfully ignorant.  Stupid people — where their stupidity is concerned — have no choice about being stupid whereas willfully ignorant people… well, there’s the “willful” part — the deliberation.  Willful ignorance is a choice.  And — as ample evidence proves — ignorance (willful or otherwise) costs a bomb.  In money.  In lives.  In prestige.  In decency. 

Now, while I pity most stupid people (it’s not their fault they’re stupid), there is one group of the stupid who I despise.  They’re the people whose stupidity was caused by greed.

Greed – the data is pretty uniform on this – makes everyone stupid. 

While taxing the ignorant may seem cruel, it’s really the only way to motivate them to fix their problem.  And all they have to do to fix their problem?  Learn something.  Cure the ignorance with good information.

It’s a little like using light to ‘fix” a darkness problem.  And when you finally get the lights back on?  Bet the ranch you’ll find an ignorant person sitting there – unaware they didn’t have to sit in the dark.

End of the day? I bet the ignorant will thank us for, in effect, taxing the ignorance right out of them. Then we can set our sights on the stupid.

America’s Love Affair With “Stupid”, Part III: When Democrats Get Stupid, There’s Nothing Stupider…

Not a revelation: smart people are as capable of profound stupidity as the profoundly stupid.

The instant even an Einstein-level genius begins to view the world with limited or diminished perspective, it’s just a matter of time before they turn as deeply, utterly, right-down-to-his-tighty-whities stupid as Texas’ Louie Gohmert — the (certifiably) Stupidest Man In Congress. When discussing “stupid”, it’s important to define one’s terms.

As a “baseline” for stupid — “stupid” we can all agree is 1) genuinely stupid and 2) quantifiably stupid — Louie Gohmert is (in my humble opinion) The Gold Standard. So — when I say Democrats are capable of profound stupidity, I’m saying Democrats have it in them to be stupider than Louie Gohmert — stupider than the stupidest man in Congress.

But, I’m not here just to call people stupid (as much fun as it is). I’m here to explain WHY they’re stupid. I want to help after all. Louie Gohmert is stupid because stupid is baked in to his genetics. In the human gene pool, Louie and his kin are all “floaters” in the shallow end — turds someone squeezed out because they regularly shit where they eat and sleep. Unfortunately for us, it’s now too late to clear out the pool, empty it of floaters, and give it a good scrub before refilling.

Louie epitomizes conservative stupidity. It has zero intellectual curiosity. Everything a Louie-Conservative knows (or needs to know, it says) comes from the bible. Never mind that had that works’ authors (the bible is a compendium of multiple texts written by multiple people then edited and assembled into the form we know now by other multiple people) operated from a very limited knowledge base. They thought everything in the cosmos revolved around the earth (they were wrong). They thought magic caused and cured disease (they were wrong). They thought the whole world and everything in it was right there where they lived — that no other “continents” existed filled with millions of humans with vastly different experiences from theirs (they were wrong about that, too). Louie-Conservatives holds up this religious text as the basis for all history, science and cosmology.

So — a Louie-Conservative will take the genetic stupidity he starts with and add heaps of experiential stupidity. Rather than open his eyes or, better yet, his mind, a Louie-Conservative will dig in his heels, insisting that these ancient texts, like their authors were “divinely inspired”. They were transmitting the literal “words o’ god”. That’s what every author things, stupid

Conservative stupid is because it will do everything in its power to live in the past — and living in the past (say it with me) IS STUPID.

Democrats get stupid in the exact opposite way. In a sense, Democrats get stupid because we so very much want to live in the future. While conservatives long to live in a past where their tribe dominates (everyone in power needs to look and sound just like them), Progressives (Democrats) want to live in a future where no tribe dominates. That’s a terrific ideal but might not be as doable as Progressives think. Certainly not now the way homo sapiens are “configured”.

Democrats want to think the best of people. Because they want the pool to be as diverse as possible, they allow a tremendous amount of variability in terms of who can join the pool. Progress can’t happen any other way. There are inherent risks because people aren’t uniformly good. Some of us are greedy. Some of us are really greedy.

Greed is a whole other kind of stupid. Everyone is capable of greed.

The moment greed-stupidity enters, all bets are off. Greed-stupidity trumps everything and all other stupidity becomes instantly irrelevant. Greed stupidity is the most willful. It will sacrifice everything at the altar of Greed right down to its own future — like Abraham sacrificing his beloved Isaac just because the voice in his head told him to. The Nature of Democrat-Stupid is we’re terrible at recognizing Greed-Stupid.

Democrats get stupid when they give the benefit of the doubt to Greed-Stupid because they can’t adjudge Greed-Stupid’s true motives. Then Democrats get nuts when Greed-Stupid changes the rules — or flat out ignores them — because all Greed-Stupid cares about is holding onto power (and money) — so they can maintain their Conservative-Stupid hold over everyone — the majority of people.

In bending over backwards to be fair, Democrats initiate the process of their own destruction. Stupid, right? The problem? It’s as baked in as a Conservative’s stupidity.

As the French would say, Voila la probleme.

Is there a cure for stupid? It’s a fair question. I’m afraid the answer’s unsatisfying: no. Homo sapiens are incredibly clever. Industrious. We’re great problem-solvers — maybe the best among sentient beings on earth (though we have no way of really knowing — lots of other sentient beings are good at solving problems). But we’re self-destructive in myriad ways — starting with our knack for over-production. There are far, far too many of us on the planet. We’ve destroyed 90% of all the other creatures we’ve encountered. Destroyed them or made their habitat unlivable, take your pick. They disappeared regardless.

We’re facing a massive, genuinely existential crisis caused by our own greed and short-sightedness. But, in part because there are so many of us and because we’re so diverse, it’s impossible for us to collectively help ourselves quickly if at all. And even if we could collectively help ourselves, because variation is baked in — and because so much of that variation is motivated by greed — we’re doomed from the start.

It’s a fact — homo sapiens will be no more durable on this planet than the dinosaurs. We’re just as doomed to distinction. The one big difference? Dinosaurs had no hand in their own destruction. The cosmos did that courtesy of a massive meteor strike.

In our case — we have only ourselves to blame.

Boy, is that stupid.

A Democracy’s Bottom Line Must Be Its Principles – Not Money or Power

Let’s take it a step further: OUR Democracy’s bottom line must be its principles — not money or power.

Let’s frame it correctly though. OUR Democracy’s principles started off un-principled. We cut a deal with slavery.  We accommodated it and it cost us dearly.  We fought a Civil War because we compromised our principles.  We failed at Reconstruction because of it. We failed to even live up to the claim that we’d fixed the problem by amending the Constitution.  Slavery — and the compromises it caused — haunts this country every single day.

So — with that unfortunate caveat (and the additional caveat that we didn’t give women full rights and the vote at the start) — but with the knowledge that we are finally beginning to address slavery (and our institutional misogyny) with the gravity and purpose it deserves (reparations for slavery would be a good start) — our Democracy’s bottom line must be the Enlightenment-age principles that the founders aspired to — updated but not undermined.

There’s a reason why America became a beacon to the rest of the world.  Something happened here that never happened before.  A country was founded not on some dynastic claim but on a set of principles.

That’s the good news but it’s also the bad news.

Principles — as a foundation — are concrete.  But they cannot breathe the same air as Money or Power.  The instant principle gives in to either money or power — the principles die.  Money and Power are that toxic to Principles.

What’s happened here, in America, is: We allowed our already compromised principles to be further compromised. We are living at the mercy of people who claim principle while exercising nothing but power given to them by money.  There’s not a principle in sight.  Hell — there’s not a principle in the same hemisphere.

So — how do we fix this?  CAN we fix this?

I guess that’s our mission going forward — answer that question.  For starters we’re going to have to clean house.  We’re going to have to be brutally honest with ourselves — and why & how we got ourselves into this mess.  Then we’re going to have to be brutally honest about what we can forgive and what we can’t.  The “what we can’t” list is going to be long.  It better be if we really intend to fix this.

Maybe that’s what it will take — brutal honesty with ourselves (individually too; it’s no fair always putting brutal honesty on the shoulders of some abstract “they”).  We got slavery wrong, wrong, wrong.  We need to do everything we can to fix it.. Reparations… killing of the electoral college… Owning up to and sectioning off the deep beam of racism that runs through this country.

Let’s own up to the sexism and misogyny too.  We have to.  It’s a matter of principle, right?

Living by your principles ain’t cheap.  Be warned.  Doing things the right way vs the expedient way is, by its nature, more expensive — in money and in time.  While we may have fewer dollars in our pockets, we’ll be healthier (because regulations will have made our food, air, water safer) and happier (because when more people benefit from our system — even more people will benefit as a result — happiness grows exponentially).  It’s just a fact of Life — nothing is free.  Anything you think is free?  You haven’t seen the hook yet.

When you live by your principles though, you insist on paying what’s fair to get what’s fair. You treat all people equally because all people are equal — so say your principles.

If America can get its bottom line back to where it belongs — away from Republican greed and power-lust — to our Democratic Principles — if we “CAN” — we’ll walk away battered and bruised but a better, stronger, MORE PRINCIPLED Democracy.

I have hope.