Conservatives vs Progressives Can Be Summed Up As “Me vs We”

Trumpism is conservatism on steroids (plus copious amounts of snorted powdered Adderall). If one had to sum up Trumpism in one word, it’d be “me”. “Me” is the one country Donald Trump has fealty toward. Well, “Me” and Vlad Putin. But that’s not ideological fealty. Trump isn’t loyal to Putin because he believes in “Putinism”. Rather, it’s the fealty that a crime boss (Putin) demands from his underlings and capos (Trump). “Me” is the core weakness Putin holds over Trump. Putin is exploiting Trump’s absolute adoration of “Me”, Trump’s willingness to indulge “Me”, make “Me” richer even if doing it is illegal or downright treasonous.

Trumpism = Me-ism. And now, so, too do Republicanism and conservatism.

To be fair to conservatives, they do come by their Me-ism honestly. That is, it’s completely organic to who they are. Conservatives love the Libertarian notion of the “rugged individualist” — that “I alone can fix it” guy. They all see themselves as “rugged individualists”. This dovetails nicely with the conservative, institutionalist idea of religion — a neat twist that turns “Do unto others” into “Do what we say or else”. Conservatives all claim to know God’s will better than you (so you better shut up!) That’s because conservatives don’t believe IN God, they believe they ARE God. So, how could anyone be the “boss of them”?

See how that works?

Conservatives, as their names says, want to conserve. Fair enough. The next logical question: WHAT do conservatives want to “conserve”? Since one can’t conserve the future (it doesn’t exist yet), one is left conserving the present which means conserving the past since that’s what the present reflects — what’s left of the past. THAT is what conservatives want desperately to conserve — as much of the past conserved in the present as possible. Why? Was the past better?

For them, yes. Yes, it was. In the past, conservative values (white, Christian, male) dominated all conversations. “All men are created equal” didn’t mean “all men”. It didn’t mean “all people” either.

For conservatives, the past was infinitely better than they fear the future might be. Which is why they resist change. And progress. Change and progress are antithetical to conservatives and conservatism. That’s not a rap or a judgment. It’s simply a fact. It’s part of the DNA of any conservative argument — resistance to change because of a preference for how it was before.

“How it was before” is a problem for Progressives because “how it was before” was racist, bigoted, misogynist and ignorant. And it’s entirely antithetical to democracy because the majority of Americans aren’t those things. We keep voting against those things but getting the opposite result. It’s like someone was constantly getting in the way of change — of the progress toward real fairness, real justice and a truly level playing field that the majority of Americans want.

Donald Trump pointed out a basic truth that every Republican knows: when more Americans vote, they vote against Republicans and for Democrats because they don’t want what Republicans are selling. Democracy is a marketplace of ideas. In the binary marketplace that is American Democracy, more Americans want to buy Progressive ideas than conservative ideas: a vigorous social safety net, socialized medical CARE (not insurance; insurance doesn’t provide care, it’s a payment mechanism for it) that won’t bankrupt a person (or their family) just because they got sick, UBI, a healthy climate, women’s and minority rights, full LGBTQ participation in American life, a clear separation between Church and State. As Trump put it, if every American voted, Republicans would never win another election.

Exactly so, Donald, exactly so. It’s a testament to how good most Americans are. We want our individual rights respected. But we also recognize that there will always be a dynamic tension between “me” and “we”. If not everyone in the “we” is getting the same “me” treatment? Then it’s like NONE of “we” is getting the “me” treatment. We can’t be truly free until we’re ALL free. Otherwise, we’re just pretending to be “free”.

Even the nature of our protests is different. Most Progressives protests were masked and, at least, had the pandemic’s toll and impact in its head.

Conservative protests?

They’re masked when they must be but you can see “You’re not the boss of me!” burning in their eyes. They’re armed to the teeth. They’re not there to protect anything — other than the scared little boy inside them. As Kyle Rittenhouse was shooting those two UNARMED protesters to death, was he striking blows for freedom? Or was he, down deep, saying “Eff you, man, you’re not taking away whatever it is that I’m so desperately afraid of losing!”

The reason most conservatives fear “we” is because it doesn’t look like them — or what they think “me” should look like: Northern European white people. Christian. Rich.

That’s what conservatives think “American Exceptionalism” is. Them. And their money. They couldn’t be more wrong. American Exceptionalism is spelled out in our motto: “E PLURIBUS UNUM”. Out of many, one. America is the product of diversity. That’s the “PLURIBUS”. The “UNUM” isn’t a bunch of unums making one giant “unum”, it’s an unum borne of the pluribus. “We” has always been essential to the American ideal.

Our mistake thus far has been that we’ve EXCLUDED so many Americans FROM that ideal. Good thing We The People stepped in at the very last second to pluck our democracy back from the selfish, greedy, corrupt conservatives who, frankly, never had much use for it anyway.

There will always be dynamic tension between “me” and “we”. That’s not a bad thing. It’s baked in to our experiment in human self-government. Our duty is to keep the tasting spoon handy. Don’t let the mix get TOO “we” (that will undermine the “me” and we don’t want to do that either).

Maybe we need to reframe our differences. Maybe conservatism isn’t the political opposite of progressivism. Maybe conservatism is an island unto itself. What if we think of “moderation” as the political opposite of progressivism. Rather than “forward v backwards”, what if we thought of the future in terms of “forward v forward with greater deliberation”? After all, whether we like it or not, the future is coming at us. We will face problems in the future that we haven’t even considered yet.

If we don’t anticipate them — by building the future into our plans — then we’ll be caught out when the future arrives. Kinda like the Trump White House prepared America for the pandemic.

See? We are living in a live “Me v We” test tube. “Me” thinking produces sickness and death. “We” thinking does not.

Like there’s really a choice here?

Please Pity The Conservative Male — If He Had Confidence In Himself, He Wouldn’t Be So Conservative — Or Gullible

Ignore whatever political party a Donald Trump “belongs to”. He was a Democrat when he did business in Manhattan because that was more useful than being a Republican. Pure cynicism. The same goes for Trump running as a Republican. But then, it was completely cynical of the Republican Party to hitch THEIR wagon and their future to someone they KNEW going in was corrupt and a traitor. Donald Trump epitomizes Republicanism in all its cynical glory. But “Republican” is just a label. Under that icing, they’re all conservatives — and their flaws are conservative flaws.

Bullies like Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, Stephen Miller, Lindsey Graham and pretty much anyone who sticks that “R” next to their names are, above all, weak-assed MEN (or women who love them or who aspire to be like them). Something in their Y chromosome has irreparably weakened their manhood and personhood. They really do think they alone can “fix it”. That’s delusion. The only thing they can fix is an election. We have receipts to prove it.

A person — male or female — who has faith in themselves and their ideas doesn’t need to shove them down other peoples’ throats against their will. Good ideas persevere over time. A leader who has faith in himself has faith not only in himself but in the nation he’s leading. He sees himself as the epitome of its values. Of all its potential. He’s not essential to our success but he sure could help us get there a whole lot quicker. And that’s when he becomes “essential”. But to become “essential”, first, he’d have to have the confidence and the patience that confidence allows.

Ask any conservative this simple question: “What do you want to conserve?” As a proud Progressive, I can tell you quite specifically what I want for us as a nation — what I want us to progress toward. Conservatives are just as name-specific in their mission. Conservatives want to conserve. Fair enough.

We’re entitled to know WHAT they want to conserve. It can’t be the future. It can only be the present — and therefore however much of the past remains conserved in the present. Conservatism — by its nature and by its name — aspires to keep us where we are culturally and politically. To most conservatives, where we are is already a thousand miles beyond where they want us to be. Defenses have been breached, walls toppled, sacred cows chopped to bits. That’s made most conservatives desperate.

Donald Trump’s refusal to accept defeat is a criminal trying to keep out of prison. As for the rest of the Republicans? Why are THEY going along with it? Part of it is that same need to not die in federal prison. But part of it is the Grand Plan Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republican muckety-mucks bought into — a state of permanent minority rule shoved down the majority’s throat via a hijacked judiciary, a permanently crippled Senate and an executive branch Republicans can always game out of a Democrat’s hands.

Think of all the Republican males who honestly believe Donald Trump is a patriot. Who honestly believe the majority of Americans must have voted for him (and any other result is fraudulent). Who refuse to do the job they took an oath to do — because of their allegiance to the only POTUS ever to run for re-election in the very election he was IMPEACHED for cheating in.

There are plenty of moderate voices out there — socially progressive but fiscally conservative. They, too, want the best for America and every American. They worry — legitimately — about how we pay for it. That’s a fair argument that we will need to have going forward. At least we’re all pulling toward the same goal if only via different paths through the maze. These former Republicans aren’t trying to drag America back to those “glorious 50’s” — the 1850’s. They want us to move forwards responsibly and with more deliberation. That’s where the dynamic tension between us will come from.

Again — that’s a reasonable argument that reasonable people can have.

The strange thing about men who lack confidence in themselves? They can’t be reasonable. They’re in crisis mode 24/7 because they can’t trust what they think. They need constant verification — from their children, from their wives and lovers, from their bosses — from the men who seem to possess the very confidence they lack.

But, remember — a man lacking confidence is a poor judge of everything — including other men (especially other men he thinks are confident). Odds are those other men also are struggling with confidence issues. A confident man doesn’t peacock about on his horse — doing it purely for show. Like a peacock.

And confident men don’t look like THIS either.

Imagine a man who puts his confidence in another man who looks like Donald Trump does. Who speaks like Trump and thinks like Trump and acts like Trump. Imagine the lack of perspective it takes to equate anything Trump says or does with “manliness”.

Barack Obama is more manly when just standing around, waiting than Donald Trump is doing literally ANYTHING. That’s because being “manly” means being “human” first.

If you have confidence in your humanity, that becomes the foundation on which you build not only your values but your day-to-day life. You don’t need your voice to dominate the mix but you have faith that your voice will, in time, be heard — especially after you do the hard work of using your voice. To get trust, you have to give trust. And then you have to demonstrate your worthiness to maintain that trust.

That can be hard for men with secrets. Those secrets (all betrayals of one kind or another — THAT’S WHY THEY’RE SECRETS!) sap a man’s confidence. The secret and its destructiveness are bigger than they are. It gets harder still for the conservative male because his biggest secret of all is that he only gets his way politically via bamboozlement.

Again — pity the poor conservative man who has to sell people ideas they don’t want and so has resorted to lying to them about his ideas or, worse, has resorted to lying about everything in a desperate attempt to get what he wants. Pity him for what’s coming. It’s going to make a mess of what was left of his confidence.

It Isn’t Just That A Trump Second Term Would Destroy American Democracy Forever, A Trump Second Term Would Finish Turning Us Into Him

Former Republican Rick Wilson got it so right: everything Trump touches dies. There are no exceptions to that rule.

Like a virus, Donald Trump can’t survive without a host. In our case, us. If he can’t infect us, he can’t reproduce his toxicity in sufficient quantity to survive. The best he can do is infect those around him and make more feckless, corrupt, ugly children.

Trump craves adoration because if he can get you to adore him, he can get you to do anything for him. Including die. Trumpism reproduces inside its adherents, zombifying them until they’re permanently cut off from reason, logic, facts, truth.

Just like that, a Trump follower’s needs are Trump’s needs.

There should never have been a first term of this disease. Take Russia out of the Trump equation and he never runs for office. He’s already broke and living on the street because no one was there to step in and rescue his bankrupt casinos or pay him a tidy $54 million profit on a white elephant house in Florida.

During his first term, Trump finished turning the entirety of the Republican Party into him. Take Lindsey Graham — a man who at one point said out loud that if the Republican Party followed Donald Trump, they’d deserve the certain destruction he’d cause them. Lindsey also said he’d never go along with naming a SCOTUS judge in an election year. I bet, when we finally get him under oath, Lindsey tells a long, complex, sordid tale about how exactly a person gets that corrupt and that vulnerable to corruption.

We don’t need Donald Trump to tell us that story because he’s already told it himself. He’s lived a life of corruption and — staggeringly — gotten away with it.

Our news media can’t seem to remember that Donald Trump is the first president ever to be impeached and then run for re-election — having been impeached for CHEATING in the very election he’s running in. That’s an amazing amount of normalization of stuff that should never be normalized. Then again, our news media oversaw the normalization of “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” and “Both sides are good people” and “15 cases will go to zero” and “fake news” and “our military are all suckers and losers” and on and on and on.

Normalization works exactly like an infection. It’s essential to Trumpism. We are the frog thinking the pool’s a little warmer than usual today — when, in fact, it’s boiling hot and we’re about to be frog soup.

There’s one answer to this: No.

The Republican Party is gambling everything on muscling the majority of Americans into submission. They’re slave masters after all, with a whip in their hand.

Oh, the surprise they’re all in for. We’ve taken the last whipping from them. We’ll have that whip — and rather than just turn it on them, we’ll subject them to the rule of law. They’ll wish we’d used the whip instead.

Donald Trump & Trumpism Are What Happens When Magical Thinking Goes Psycho

Magical Thinking should have an expiration date — at the end of childhood, say. Or when one turns 18 and votes for the first time.

Alas, that’s not the case. Some people — Republicans — never lose their taste for Magical Thinking. That’s because it’s more than a taste, it’s an addiction.

The reason religious dogma grabs people when they’re young is because that’s when magic still answers questions satisfactorily. Explanations don’t have to line up with facts so long as the narrative captivates. The apostle Paul’s genius — Paul invented Christianity, not Jesus — was to weave Jesus into a vague, mysterious messiah narrative that, if you accept it as “gospel truth”, will allow you to defeat death. That’s what Christianity is selling: eternal life. But only if you believe the ooga-booga lock, stock & two white-or-grey smoking barrels.

Jesus preached a pretty simple message: do unto others. While there was plenty of Magical Thinking in Jesus’s view of the world, his teaching didn’t require any mental gymnastics. One doesn’t have to believe in magic to do unto others. Even if one believed in Yahweh, Jesus taught that one could speak directly to him. One didn’t need the temple priests to do it for you — because they knew the magical code while everyone else didn’t.

Jesus never claimed to be the product of a virgin birth. He never claimed to be the son of anyone other than his actual mother and his actual father. He never claimed messiah-hood. All that magic was imposed on Jesus and Jesus’s story by the early church. The church very effectively disposed of the real Jesus, replacing him with an entirely magical Jesus instead — a Jesus who serves as mascot for their institutions and for Magical Thinking itself.

When people start out believing magic is the answer to our most foundational questions — why are we here and what is our purpose — they’ll favor magic as the solution to those questions. Instead of feeding themselves when hungry, they’ll await manna from heaven. They’ll mistake brain chemistry gone awry for demonic possession. They’ll think the voice in their head is divine and their actions therefore justified (no matter how terrible).

It’s a lot easier to forgive people for accepting magical explanations when their knowledge base is limited. The men who scribbled out the texts that became the OT really didn’t know much. Their world was tiny compared to ours. Most of them never traveled more than 50 miles from where they were born. They had no idea that pathogens existed. Their cosmology was all wrong. Imagine if, instead, they’d had access to telescopes and microscopes and the internet. They wouldn’t have written what they wrote the same way (even if they’d still had the same questions).

We don’t have their excuse. And yet, plenty of people still accept the explanations for basic facts from people who were legitimately ignorant of the facts.

Oy.

If you accept the Magical Thinking that, say, the bible is the “inerrant word of God” then you will approach your work with that as the basis for all your thinking. If God doesn’t say “Hey, don’t pollute the planet” then polluting the planet is fine. But then, if your Magical Thinking tells you that the planet’s going to turn into some magical garden after Jesus returns, it doesn’t matter what you do to the planet. In your magic-addled mind, magic will fix it all anyway.

Except, of course, no — it won’t. Because it doesn’t exist.

The four days of the Republican National Convention was a study in Magical Thinking Gone Even More Bonkers Than Normal. Not only were masks not required, neither was logic. Or any sense of history — including what’s been happening from day to day. Suddenly Donald Trump’s disastrously inept pandemic response was genius. His racism was the best thing that ever happened to Black Americans. His treason was next gen foreign relations.

Every last bit of data and evidence from the last four years says Donald Trump has been a disaster for America and the non- authoritarian world. It says the rich have gotten exponentially richer while everyone else has gotten appreciably poorer. It says racism, anti-Semitism, anti-LGBTQ bigotry and every other form of hate is on the rise. Only Magical Thinking spewed at Trump campaign rallies and by Trumpanistas on TV says otherwise.

Every time Trump tells a rapturous, maskless crowd that the economy’s never been better, that America’s never been more respected, that he cares about them above all, that every negative word said about him is “a hoax”, we see Magical Thinking at work. The crowd mews approvingly as if the words magically made bullshit true.

What’s worse — the press repeats those words — and the crowd’s mewing response. They don’t frame what’s happening as Magical Thinking so it comes across as just “thinking” — so therefore legitimate. A crowd of rubes getting suckered in real time gets reported as “Trump’s supporters agreeing with his assertions”. It’s Magical Thinking to think that’s what’s happening.

Magical Thinking never ever represents reality. Trumpism’s triumph was getting the news media to report Magical Thinking like it does.

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.

If We Don’t Severely Punish The People Responsible For Our Coronavirus Catastrophe, It Absolutely Will Happen Again

Donald J Trump is the poster boy for what happens when you let a third-rate bully from Queens get away with things all his life. It’s also what happens when Republicanism — a particularly American brand of ignorant greed — gets to ride its core principles all the way to full fruition. Trumpism is Republicanism with phony, chipped gold plating.

If, at any point in his corrupt career, Donald Trump had been caught, prosecuted and punished, it would probably have been the end of him. Trump’s a bully — but he relies on having underlings to hold people down while he kicks them. Trump knows he can’t take on anyone one-on-one. Literally everyone can kick his bloated, orange ass. He’s a soft, white underbelly’s soft white underbelly.

Trump is cowardice in human form. And so is every single Republican. Just so we’re clear — everyone responsible for our Russia problem is also responsible for our coronavirus problem. It’s the same gang that can’t do anything straight.

The ignorance of Republican governors refusing to issue self-quarantine orders in their states is itself a kind of corruption. It’s a surrender to cult-of-personality authoritarianism. If Trump won’t command a thing, it cannot be done; and if he does command it, it must happen regardless of how illogical it is, regardless of how many people it will hurt for no reason other than Trump said it out loud.

Are we really to believe Georgia Governor Brian Kemp when he says (yesterday) that he only just learned that the coronavirus can get passed through direct contact between people? That, somehow, he alone missed what everyone else on earth already knew? C’mon — We The People deserve a higher quality of horse shit than that!

Understand — it wasn’t just ignorance that caused Brian Kemp to betray his oath to defend the people of Georgia. It was party politics. It was Republicanism hard at work. What’s most galling about “Both Sides Do It” journalism is that it paints both sides with a brush that only Republicans deserve to get brushed with. Taken out of context, sure — conservative values sound like a “choice” we could all make about how our country goes forward.

But the context for conservatism is a reactionary desire to force America backwards like a kidnap victim being hustled into the back of a van (before they’re cognizant enough about what’s happening to fight harder). If conservatives thought they could convince Americans to vote Republican on the strength of that idea — taking the whole country back to some glorified past where white people had even more privilege than they do now — they’d sell the idea on its merits. Problem is, it has no merits.

Republicans are motivated by desperation. They saw the demographic shift away from them several election cycles ago. Not that Republicans ever looked at the rest of us “inclusively”. They’ve always been happy to have a few sell-outs join heir ranks (looking at YOU, Diamond & Slick (sorry — I meant “Silk”) while they became more & more exclusively a white, Christian men’s bitch-n-moan party.

It’s not even a question of punishing a few Republican criminals to motivate the rest to behave. They won’t. They’ll think they deserved to not get caught instead. They’ll see reasons to go on cheating and they will continue cheating and expecting to get away with it. Worse, they’ll see themselves still getting away with one of the most monstrous crimes of all time — the betrayal of a whole country by one of its two political parties.

The moment we allowed compromise to the Rule Of Law — applying it to some more than others — we undermined its integrity. If we do manage to resuscitate it, the first thing we’ll have to commit to is following it — to the letter.

If we do that — and we follow the Rule Of Law to the letter — it will insist that we investigate, prosecute & punish (those convicted) every last person who violated it. It’s the only way the Rule Of Law can actually work as designed. All or nothing.

One of the ways we’ll know that America’s back on the right track will be Donald Trump no longer being president.

The other way is Trump’s party being so far away from power they can’t see ANYTHING from their houses.

There’s no point on relying on sociopaths to show a little conscience. It’s not in their makeup.

If The Question Is “But, What Can We DO To Stop Trump?”, The Answer Is “Let’s Start By Agreeing: Donald Trump Was NEVER The “LEGITIMATE POTUS”

A schoolyard bully who steals your lunch money and claims it was always his, is wrong. Not just morally but factually. The lunch money was never his.

Same token — a person who cheats on their bar exam or pilot’s license isn’t actually a lawyer or a pilot. They never actually qualified for it and therefore never really had rights or privileges that were given them UNDER FALSE PRETENSE. Get that last part — the FALSE PRETENSE part? Stick a pin in it. We’re coming back.

The guy cutting you open may call himself a doctor — and the scalpel in his hand is horrifyingly real — but he is not, in fact, by our mutual agreement (because we have created standards for our mutual benefit and safety) that thing he’s calling himself — be it doctor, lawyer, pilot — or POTUS.

Now, I’m simply going by the Rule Of Law here — and, as always on this blog, I assume we’ll find a way back to a world where the Rule Of Law “is” again because the overwhelming majority of us prefer it that way. Maybe that’s why I remain hopeful (if uneasily so) — though Americans should have taken to the streets en masse many insults to human decency ago, there will be a point where even the most apolitical American gets up on his hind legs and says “STOP!”

The majority of Americans do not like being told what to do by “outsiders”. They love their creature comforts — a lot. They want simple lives, yes, but simple lives of comfort. Trump’s impact on this country is only just playing out in full-assed Technicolor. It’s been building to this from the day Russia stole the 2016 election for Trump.

We’re not talking about the Trumpanistas. They’re “never-wozzers” where Democracy is concerned. They’re a more malignant version of the 29% of Americans who still approved of Nixon on the day he resigned because of Watergate — the last Republican power grab that we managed to stop just in time. We’re talking about the 40% or so of Americans who never or rarely engage with politics.

These are the cynical ones — never instilled with civic pride because we just don’t teach it. Civic pride doesn’t instill itself, ya know. To a degree, their cynicism is understandable. Money has always had a louder voice and bigger vote. They got that. But, that was the whole point of “giving money the vote” — to further empower the money and further disempower the actual voter.

2018 began something — a very real awakening. The surge of women into politics will continue unabated because women finally cannot tolerate living in a male-dominated world. That won’t merely effect the sex of the people doing the legislating, it will effect how those people legislate. They’ll do it like women. They’ll do it more multi-laterally than unilaterally. In fact, it’ll be the rare decision that ever gets made unilaterally at all. Because women’s bodies are designed to bear children, they know in their atoms — no one can have or raise a child by themselves. They can try — and they might not die. But they absolutely will not thrive.

Women know a lot about legitimacy. I don’t mean as it pertains to kids with married parents, I mean how it pertains to who deserves what and who doesn’t. Women have had to fight damned hard to get a fraction of what men get in the marketplace — not because their ideas are worth less or their skills less — but because they’re women. Glass ceilings are completely illegitimate. They’re not a legitimate thing. They don’t represent a legitimate reason to exclude women and their talents from the game.

Legitimacy matters.

I believe women will refuse to accept Trumpism going forwards because they will have rejected it in their guts from the get-go. Trumpism is built on a gross, male lie — “I alone can fix it”. If I want to stick my dick somewhere, I’m sticking it there.

That’s not legitimate — except as a rape threat.

We must see EVERYTHING now in its totality. We cannot see all these isolated bits and pieces of the mosaic — Mitch McConnell denying Barack Obama all those lifetime federal judges especially the SCOTUS seat — Mitch McConnell refusing to let Obama tell us that Russia was all in to make Trump POTUS — Every Trumpian lie about Russia — Trump Tower Moscow — Every Republican lie about Russia including the fact that they’ve always known about (starting with “I think Putin Pays Rohrbacher & Trump”) — every time Trump has attached himself to Putin’s anus like a limpet to a shark — every sledgehammer blow to our system of government — we have to see every single corrupt shard as part of a gigantic corrupt whole: Treason.

People who commit TREASON to become President of The United States? They can’t BE President. They’ve already broken the main rule. Remember False Pretense? You cannot “win” the presidency of this country under it.

It’s a contradiction of terms therefore to say you’re president when, in fact, you are not.

Donald Trump did not clear the most basic hurdle of becoming LEGITIMATE POTUS. He did not win the presidency legitimately.

Once we make that the foundation — our starting point for all facts going forward — then first fact we have to acknowledge is Donald Trump is not now — nor has he ever been — the legitimate president. Not being the legitimate POTUS, he never had ANY of the rights, privileges or the authority to do what legitimate POTUSes do — create legislation, represent our country abroad, nominate judges.

I’m not authorized to make air traffic decisions. I might show up and claim I have the authority and even bring along powerful friends who agree with me — that I do. But I don’t — and clearly I’m not making air traffic decisions because I care about safety in the skies. I’m not sure why I’d lie about being an air traffic control person but I know exactly why I’d lie about cheating to become POTUS.

How can the victims of a crime — that’s what We The People are in this instance — be forced to endure a lifetime of the criminal getting away with it? Who says that has to happen — when we can prove how utterly criminal the criminal here is? An election result was stolen from us. That’s not an abstraction.

We The People voted for open-minded, progressive-leaning judges — that’s who the people WE THE MAJORITY voted for. We got fascists instead. That’s not our democracy working, that’s our democracy being hijacked.

We do NOT have to listen to hijackers. We do not have to do what they say or let them win. We can turn — right now — and look these criminals right in the face. They won’t meet our eyes — of course they can’t. They’re guilty little boys who’ve been caught out again. And this time we caught them doing something diabolically bad.

That’s why they’re fighting so hard to kill our democracy dead. If the Rule Of Law is still a thing? Every last Republican (okay — save, MAYBE a few) is going to prison for the rest of their lives. Traitors deserve nothing less.

What can we do to stop Trump & the Republican Party? Let’s start by calling them what they are — TRAITORS. Let’s also make it clear that we view 2016 as not an election but a crime scene. The election result needs to be inspected in far greater detail. We The People want the facts — as best we can reconstruct them.

We want to know what REALLY happened in 2016. If Trump — or ANY Republican — worked with Russia IN ANY WAY to facilitate Trump’s “win”, we cannot say that election was free or fair. Considering what we KNOW Russia was up to — and why?

Tossing the results of election 2016 is a big ask. But how else can we possibly proceed from a starting point of “DONALD TRUMP WAS NEVER LEGITIMATELY PRESIDENT”?

Why on earth would we insist on legitimizing what we know was treasonous? Who the hell could that possibly serve?

Oh, wait — I think I know…

Dear Rich People: Your Money Will Not Comfort You As You Die

My wife and I finally caught up with HBO’s amazing “Succession”. We’re about to finish season one. The Roy family — mirrored after the Murdoch’s — are an object lesson in what happens when a family substitutes money for love in all its relationships. Spoiler Alert: the relationships always lose.

I’ve never been flat broke. Never been homeless. I’ve always had someone I could throw myself at if I got beyond desperate. I’ve always been lucky that way. But I have lost everything I’ve worked for. I’ve declared bankruptcy and lost my family’s home. That was after being relatively rich. Being in show business — and having succeeded at it — I’ve had many years making very good money. Shame depression robbed me of some very prime years but — that’s Life, ya know?

What coming back from deep, deep depression taught me was very fundamental. Things — possessions — really don’t matter. Only love does. When you get to that final moment — when your sentientness recognizes it’s about to stop being sentient — a taking of stock will occur. You will recognize what you can “take with you” — what will you be remembered for most in a headline-only culture?

If it’s being rich over being loved, that final moment will be even more irksome for you as you realize, holy shit, they were right — you can’t take it with you. The money stays here. It couldn’t give a damn about you. You’re just a warm place where it parked for a while. And now that you’re dead, dead, dead, it will find someplace else to hang out. Meanwhile your “loved ones” become increasingly ironic in name: “loved ones”.

What makes the Roy family in “Succession” soooooo much fun to watch is that they ring so painfully true — the rich love their money far more than they could ever love each other. They honestly do believe that the goal is the biggest pile of money rather than being the most (genuinely) loved.

Ah, but what do we mean by “loved”?

Let me throw down an example — poor guy — never had a dime (or a shekel) to his name. He preached a simple (frankly Judaic) message: above all, love — do unto others as you would have them do unto you; if you have two brain cells, that “unto” is “love”.

I don’t know where the fictionalized Murdochs will end up, but I know where the real ones are heading. It’s all the same place: The rich Father who everyone despises will end up so despised (because he valued money over everything) that the money he so loved will end up in someone else’s hands (someone he hates perhaps) precisely because those who should have loved him didn’t. Couldn’t. Wouldn’t.

The die was cast, turns out, at the beginning. Tragedy is inevitability with scene breaks. The values tied to money over humanity were delivered via mother’s milk. Such is doom.

Again, remember — there’s a big, big difference between how we, here in the outside world, see the Rich (imagining that their money has solved every problem they could possibly have) and how the Rich see the Rich. There, on the inside, they know how loveless it is. They know how no serious relationship can ever happen without legal scrutiny first because, well, THE MONEY.

Sounds like slavery to me.

We’re in a war here. The rich — having gotten richer — want to be richer still. The Republican Party has launched an outright coup d’etat — they’ve busted a cap in the Rule Of Law and tossed the body out into the street as a warning to us. They’re not screwing around. They intend to install permanent minority rule whether we like it or not.

That was the point of election 2016 (the coup d’etat) and now election 2020 (the coup de grace just without the grace).

Ah, but Republicans have one big problem. They’re a minority. When push comes to shove and people REALLY take sides? I bet those willing to “die for Trump” is a far, far smaller circle of crazy than we suspect.

They’re schoolyard bullies relying to their reputation as schoolyard bullies to cow us into submission. Those bullies have a bigger problem than the first one actually. The people standing up to them? Women. Lots and lots of women. And people of color too. Lots and lots and LOTS of them. When we restore the Rule Of Law to its rightful place and begin to live up to the ideals on which this country was founded, we will owe a massive debt of gratitude to African American women.

Despite everything this nation has heaped on them as a group and as individuals, they have remained constant. They saw through this country’s racist awfulness to the ideal we were betraying and held firmly to it. If we do survive this, we will owe a hell of a lot of that to them.

Their faithfulness should be our ideal. Their capacity to love despite the harshness of their circumstances should be a daily lesson about survival, hope and courage.

My group can relate a little. We’ve been kicked around a bit by the Christian world. We still ache to contribute to it regardless. Go figure.

There’s a saying in the Talmud (I mention this as an atheist but a cultural Jew) that resonates with me: “Save one life and you save the world”. I think Jesus had that idea in mind when (if) he preached. He wasn’t about churches and their rules — in fact, Jesus taught that one didn’t need the temple or any of its priests; one could speak directly to God. And God, Jesus taught, would listen.

Jesus also taught how unimportant money was in the greater scheme of things. Those following that teaching — those already doing unto others — get it. When you love other people as much and as best you can, you get a remarkable amount of love flowing back at you. That’s REAL wealth. And when it comes to building actual wealth — it’s a good place to start from.

Will one ever get Roy-Murdoch-Republican wealthy by loving other people instead of money? Of course not. But then, who wants to end one’s days in the poor house like they always do?

The Most Dangerous Tool On An Authoritarian’s Belt (After Propaganda) Is CYNICISM

As annoying as the sound of Trumpanistas Autho Trump is, it’s understandable. One expects bullshit to flow from a Trumpanista.

It’s the sound of cynicism flowing from friends and loved ones that bothers me far more. That’s the sound of Trumpian lies landing where the Trumpanistas couldn’t.

The first thing your textbook authoritarian comes for (so the textbooks say) is The Truth. They murder The Truth so that no one really knows what is or isn’t without Big Brother weighing in. Haven’t we ALWAYS been at war with Eurasia?

But getting to that place where Truth is entirely at the authoritarian’s disposal takes time. There are other stops before full-on fascism flowers. Before authoritarians can have their way, they have to convince enough people that there’s no choice. We might as well do what the authoritarian wants since they’re going to do it anyway. It isn’t necessarily so — that the authoritarian will do it anyway.

Knock an authoritarian down a few pegs — most are such sissies they won’t get back up. They’ll crawl away bawling their little bitch eyes out. They’re schoolyard bullies in need of an ass-kicking. But their goal is to convince you that resistance is futile. All hope is lost.

We probably got here faster than we might have thanks to “Both Sides Do It” journalism convincing us that whatever nastiness the Republicans were up to? The Democrats were up to something just as devious. What can the average person do to fight off corruption when “both sides do it”? Consequently, Americans got jaded when getting jaded wasn’t called for.

Gerrymandering and massive Republican voter suppression has piled on. Where gerrymandering happens, the majority electorate votes one way but gets the opposite result because their “majority” has been split up into bite-sized district pieces any knuckle-scraping GOP candidate could win. Consequently the electorate feels removed from what they tried to elect. They sense corruption in the system. They see it. And decide the system can’t help them.

But, outside “the system”, what options are there to address your valid grievances? None, it turns out. A bad result is guaranteed no matter what. Why bother getting involved?

From the cynic’s point of view, that’s checkmate.

The worst part is when you point out to these people — and we’re all in this together, we all agree — that what happened in 2016 was outright theft. The Will of the American People was literally STOLEN from the American people by an active Russian intelligence campaign allied with pretty much all of the Republican Party. This was a willful theft of an election’s outcome. For a reason — to, above all, hijack the judiciary. It’s not a coincidence that even as Trump’s regime teeters, Mitch McConnell is still cramming radical right wing lifetime judges (not a one of them qualified to judge a pie-eating contest) into the system and down the majority’s throat. Rather than respond, “Gosh, how do we assuage the crime victim’s obvious wounds and begin the process of righting a wrong?”, we get “We couldn’t possibly overturn what happened — how would we do that? Those people would be so angry!”

What about “these people” — US? What about We The People — whose election outcome was STOLEN from us. Worse, not only didn’t we get the choice the majority voted for, we got its diametric opposite shoved at us. Why, I’d like to know, are we so worried about how the car thief will get around once we take our car back from him?

Screw him! He’s a thief. Of course he’ll be angry — he got caught and was forced to return what was never his to begin with.

But, see? Even people who feel wronged here — who WERE wronged — have convinced themselves that the wrong done to them can never be put right.

Why do they think that?

I’ll tell ya — it’s the exact message these criminals WANTED us to get: the crime perpetrated upon us can never be undone. They will always get away with it because they’ll threaten violence otherwise.

The rapist will get away with rape.

That’s where cynicism takes you. The correct answer is “No”.

Resisting cynicism is hard. Damned hard. Because the message coming at you is so pervasive: “resistance is futile… give up!”

Remind the class everyone — what’s the correct answer again? “NO”.

Not even “No, thank you”. Just a curt “NO.”

Our Constitutional Crisis (Yeah – We’re In One!) Didn’t Just Start – It Began The Moment Trump Took His Oath Of Office – And Violated It In The Very Same Breath

Lots of Chicken Little running around the media landscape have finally bought in — America’s in a Constitutional Crisis! Yeah, we are, Chicken Little. Where were you Inauguration Day?

The Rule Of Law is or it isn’t. Same goes for the Constitution. Either we have one — and we follow it — or we don’t. And the very same goes for oaths that we take where we promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Either we mean what we say or the whole notion of oath-taking is now officially rubbish.

Want to know what first class entertainment would be? Watching Donald Trump take an oath to tell the truth — then literally lying with every word he said. That’s what happened, mind you, when Trump took his oath of office. He lied while taking it. He swore to uphold the Constitution — to defend it from all enemies domestic and foreign — while KNOWING that he, personally, was doing the diametric opposite.

Even on a smaller scale, Trump violated his oath as he took it. He was using his properties all around the world — and especially there in DC — to take in and solicit bribes. He was taking emoluments hand over fist — even as he swore NOT TO. Yeah, I know — thievery is small potatoes compared to treason.

But today’s treason started as thievery. Trump saw — on day one — that no one cared if he violated part of his oath of office. What did he have to lose seeing how much further he could push the corruption envelope? Yes, indeedy — Donald Trump has put us into a full on Constitutional Crisis. But that Crisis did not start today or yesterday.

It’s been on-going since Day One.

Quick analogy: You wake up to realize your house is on fire. Old wiring has shorted somewhere behind a wall and the entire structure is aready engulfed in flames. You hurry to get your family out safely. As you watch everything you own succumb, you need to grasp: the fire that just burned you out may have ignited a little while ago, but it didn’t “start” today. The circumstances that led to ignition started the day those wires were embedded in the walls. Maybe it started earlier even — on the day that flawed piece of wire was manufactured.

Indeed — if that’s what started the fire that burned down your house, the proximate cause of that fire began on the day the thing that will start the fire came into existence. In a very real sense, the circumstances for your tragedy started somewhere far away from you.

In the case of the flawed wire, there was nothing you could do about it. If the wire was put into the house years before you were even born (I like living in old houses), there’s still nothing you can do — except have that fact about your house in your head. Hooking a modern space heater up to wiring from 1908 could definitely cause unintended consequences.

But there’s your house — now on fire because earlier in the day — or days before — a weakness in already weak wire began to break down. Each time you turned the space heater on (unbeknownst to you), you took another step closer to causing a fire — behind the walls in wiring you knew was there but didn’t know was failing.

Tragedies rarely just happen. They’re built on mounting circumstances that, being tragic, seem inevitable. But nothing’s inevitable except death. If you’re rich (in America), taxes are off the “certainty list” for now. Death itself is a process that starts far earlier than we realize.

Think about it — the only question about any of our deaths is the when & where. The fact that it will happen is not in dispute.

In a way, death is like our Constitutional Crisis. It won’t begin the moment we realized we’re dying. It will have begun eons ago — the moment we were conceived. As always in Life, it sucks being the last to know.