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.

Of Chaos Theory & Corner Kicks (And American Politics)

We all knew LIfe in the Age Of Trump was going to be challenging on a thousand different levels. I’m not sure we factored in the constant state of chaos Trumpism thrives on. That, it turns out, is what makes all the other challenges work — it’s almost impossible to attack any one of them while so many others are flaring up. The chaos stymies us. It frustrates us into cynicism — and inaction. Result? The chaos worsens, becoming unstoppable.

Chaos is a state of total unpredictability. Almost anything can happen — good, bad, indifferent. The study of chaos — Chaos Theory — attempts to find ways to predict chaos — to identify enough quantifiable elements inside the chaos so as to make prediction possible.

As Wikipedia puts it: “Chaotic behavior exists in many natural systems, including fluid flow, heartbeat irregularities, weather and climate. It also occurs spontaneously in some systems with artificial components, such as the stock market and road traffic.” Chaos exists in just about any system where human behavior pokes its nose. Like a soccor pitch…

I’m a Tottenham Hotspur supporter. That’s both a lovely experience — being part of a large, world-wide clan — and eternally crushing in its chronic “almost-ness”. Spurs have been top four or five in the English Premier League for years but never THE top. That consistency keeps a fan base happy but it never gives them the cathartic Big Win they crave. Last season, Spurs made it all the way to the Champions League Final against a superior Liverpool side. Another second place finish. So close… so far… .

Those who hate footie — Americans mostly who need constant action to engage them — don’t grasp the slow build drama of a soccer match. In England, every year, there are tournaments (the FA Cup, the Carabo Cup) where lesser teams from the lower leagues get to play against teams from the EPL Occasionally, the lesser teams flirt with jaw-dropping upsets. If a team can play solid, organized defense, they’ll always stand a chance. Keeping a clean sheet guarantees you at least a tie.

If you can score on a counter attack — then you have a chance to win, too. That’s the gamble. There’s another tool in the underdog’s belt though — chaos. For all its organization — with players keeping their shape and knowing where they need to be — a soccer game’s outcome can rely on the pure chaos unleashed when a corner kick gets taken.

Provided the attacking team’s goalie stays in his or her goal, that puts ten players trying to put the ball into the net against eleven players trying to stop the ball — and, hopefully either clear it out of the box to buy some time to regroup or initiate a counter strike because the attacking team’s defense is, for the moment, out of position. As much as teams may practice set plays, the circumstances at the time of any particular corner kick are unique to that game and everything that led to that corner kick.

If the player taking the corner kick lofts the ball into the box, here’s what happens: 21 bodies suddenly go into motion in 21 different directions. The kick could be well taken or not well taken — that, too, is part of the chaos. Weather conditions also impact what’s happening inside the box. Rain, for instance, can make getting traction harder. It can change the purchase a player going for a header gets as he digs his spikes into the turf and leaps. Wind can knock a ball down fractionally, change its arc just enough to impact all the players’ timing.

Anything can happen. A lesser player can score a goal just by being in the right place at the right time. He or she doesn’t even have to put the ball goal-ward with a drop of skill. The ball can reflect off them and into the net. It can hit them — then hit another player (altering the ball’s flight) before slipping past the goalie. The ball can even bounce off a defender and into the goal.

For all the skill and talent moving through those 792 square feet of space (the penalty area is 18 feet X 44 feet), it’s not uncommon for one of those talented, highly paid football soccer players to put the ball into his or own own net. Shit gets that chaotic.

You play the soccer game because anything can happen.

Metaphorically speaking (and I love me a good metaphor), the Age Of Trump is like a giant corner kick. We have lots of bodies in motion, all heading in different directions. Some want to put the ball into the goal — end Trump’s presidency — while others defend if not furiously then with total desperation.

There’s another player in the box though — us. We The People. We’re on this pitch to be sure. We’re the biggest bunch of players there actually. The game’s outcome will determine our future. That’s what makes it galling that, as usual, the Republicans are cheating at the game. But then, it was always an illusion that we started the game on a level playing field.

That has never, ever been the case.

Edward Norton Lorenz, creator of chaos theory (he “…established the theoretical basis of weather and climate predictability, as well as the basis for computer-aided atmospheric physics and meteorology”), also theorized “The Butterfly Effect”. Lorenz used a butterfly’s wings as a metaphor for how a minor perturbation — like a single butterfly flapping it’s wings on one part of the globe — could result in a tornado on another part of the planet several weeks later.

If Lorenz is right — and our ability to predict weather says he is — then even small disturbances can, in time, produce gigantic effects. It’s just the nature of chaos. That means that our political situation — as profoundly chaotic as it is — is not set in stone. Change any of the elements flying through the penalty box and we don’t know if or how the end will change.

But then, how the end “ends” is a lot more up to us than we realize. That’s the point. If enough of us butterflies out here in the public start flapping our wings — voting, attending marches and rallies, speaking up — we don’t know whether or not we’ll make a difference. But we could — the math days we absolutely could.

Who wins when the chaos ends? Who knows? Chaos is chaos is chaos.

And that’s why we have to show up.

Among All The Animals, Only Human Beings & Monkeys Are Capable Of Lying; Then There Are Republicans…

Some time before humans and apes went their separate ways, something fused into our hominid brains that — no matter how we split off and evolved — stayed with us, as hard wired into us as the impulse to breathe: lying.

Sure, sure — plenty of animals use deception. Blue Jays imitate other birds to scare off competitors, cowbirds put their eggs into other birds’ nests and eastern grey squirrels pretend to hide nuts to throw off nut thieves. There are lies involved in each but outside of those specific survival-based behaviors (breeding and food) — and a species-wide ability to lie in exactly the same way (like that specific lie was hard-wired into them) — do those animals lie in any other way?

No, they don’t. So — when I say “lie”, I mean the way humans genuinely understand the word: a falsehood told mostly for convenience.

Humans lie to get out of trouble — trouble they didn’t have to be in. They cheated on their mate. They stole from someone. They murdered in cold blood. They lied to avoid the punishment they deserved for breaking the group’s rules. Actual premeditation is important. A cowbird slipping its egg into another bird’s nest is not in any way the same thing as a rapist insisting his victim “wanted it”.

Dogs are incapable of lying (hunting as a group is one of those hard-wired survival-deceptions). Ever walked into a room where a dog just wrecked something they know they shouldn’t have wrecked? That’s pretty much half of YouTube. Cats are political as hell — with humans and other cats — but they do not dissemble. You always know where you stand with a cat. They can’t lie.

Only a human being will lie to you in order to sell you insurance or a burial plot or love. Only humans kill each other because other humans refuse to believe the made up stories they believe (that’s how important lies are to us). Only humans insist they want what’s best for everyone when what they clearly want is what’s best for them personally. Well, only Republicans do that last bit of lying.

We have a POTUS whose notoriety for lying is his brand. His official lie count lies somewhere north of 15,000 since he took office. And those are just the official lies. No one’s bothered (except anecdotally) with what he does on a golf course or in his marriage. We all accept that Donald Trump is a liar through and through.

Think about that — and what it says about how readily human beings accept and normalize lying. Think about how utterly Americans have accepted lying as part of our status quo.

Make that “some” Americans. A lot of us do not and will not accept lying as status quo. We’re never going to expunge lying from our DNA. But we absolutely can make lying — done to the collective — so expensive that it simply isn’t worth anyone’s while — even the richest of the rich.

The time to start down that road is right now. We need to normalize a zero tolerance for public lying.

By Their Very Nature, RW-ers Are Closed-Minded & Progressives Are Open-Minded

“Both Sides Do It” thinking (and journalism) would want us to believe that that headline is biased and wrong because both sides are equally closed-minded and open-minded. The fact is both sides are different not just because they want to be different but because they actually think differently. There’s even science to back that up (both sides are not equally interested in science by the way — because both sides are not equally “open-minded” about new information).

Conservatives, as their name says, want to conserve. They’ll accept conserving the present but what they really want to conserve is the past. The future — and any change — terrifies them. Progressives, as their name says, want to progress into the future of course since no one wants to progress into the past. Progress demands an open mind because one knows one will face new challenges that old ways simply won’t be able to resolve.

Progressive thinking, by its nature, is inclusive. We see that the answers to our problems could spring from nearly anywhere — and anyone — if only we’d give all these minds the chance to develop. We see America’s diversity as its exceptionalism. We aren’t just the greatest experiment in human self government ever, we’re also the greatest experiment in human diversity where our cultural dynamism is born out of the rich gumbo of ideas and approaches that flow from the variety of cultures who came to this place in order to be part of the first experiment.

Conservative thinking cannot tolerate uncertainty. That’s why it tends to be deeply religious (instead of being more openly-minded and just plain spiritual). Conservatives want a power structure in place. They want the world as it was (when they were in absolute control) to be the world as it always WILL be — with them continuing to be absolutely in control). Never mind the fact that they are an ever-increasing minority. They are the “god of the gaps”.

It’s painfully ironic that our news media — regardless of the topic — always demands equal open-mindedness from both sides. Lacking any perspective, they start from the false premise that both sides are the same and behave the same. They assume that both sides start off equally stuck in their ways — as if “their ways” were exactly the same.

This is why we get a press that demands Elizabeth Warren explain how she’s going to pay for health CARE for all Americans while they shrug off Republicans insisting (without a lick of data) that their tax cuts to themselves will PAY for themselves. This is why we have a main stream news media that gives equal weight to lies and the Truth. This is why we have a news media that insists that Democrats are impeaching Trump for entirely political reasons.

No, you idiots, the Democrats impeached (and will impeach Trump again) because he violated his oath of office the instant he took it. The Rule Of Law either is or it isn’t — and the instant we allow a POTUS to violate his oath brazenly and with impunity, our entire system of self-government is in mortal peril.

The Democrats did not drive us to this Constitutional crisis, the Republicans did. The Republicans are acting political because their interest is political — they want to HOLD ONTO the political power they now have AT ALL COSTS. They’re so determined to hold onto power that they’re willing to cheat every which way they can. They’re willing to suppress every Democratic voter they can. Those are all political acts. The person having their vote suppressed is NOT acting politically, they’re the VICTIM OF A CRIME.

Same token — the Democrats, when they point to the myriad ways Donald Trump has violated his oath of office, broken the law and shredded the Constitution, they’re NOT reacting politically, they’re pointing to criminal acts. When Democrats cry foul — that election 2016 was neither free nor fair because RUSSIA decided its outcome (isn’t that what Mitch McConnell was protected by refusing to let President Obama tell America that our election was under assault?) — they’re not acting politically, they’re being PATRIOTIC.

They’re also speaking for the real victims of the crime, The American People. Our electoral choice was stolen from us — our Will. That’s the majority of Americans. The 3 million plus (who knows how many suppressed votes there were) who wanted what Hillary and the Democrats were selling, not what Trump, Mitch McConnell and the Russian-owned Republicans were selling.

Mitch McConnell epitomized conservative closed-mindedness by not even giving Merrick Garland a hearing. Democrats wouldn’t even think of doing such a thing. Because it’s now how Democrats — the Progressives among them especially — think.

Even a glance at a conservative crowd versus a Progressive crowd tells you all you need to know about each crowd’s open-mindedness versus its closed-mindedness. A thousand words? No — a million words. More even.

Is there really a question?

It Really Is This Simple: By LAW, You Cannot CHEAT To Become POTUS; Therefore Donald Trump Has NEVER Been POTUS

Now, that’s just The Rule Of Law talking and what does The Rule Of Law know? That’s how Republicans think these days apparently.

To be absolutely fair about it, they’re right. The Rule Of Law is a fiction that we invented for our mutual benefit. There are lots of places on Earth where the people don’t live by The Rule Of Law — so, The Rule Of Law is not some absolute, inviolable Law Of The Cosmos. The only thing actually keeping The Rule Of Law in place as our guiding principle as our faithfulness in maintaining it.

It’s like stamina, if you think about it. You can build your stamina. You can maintain it. But stop working on it and it goes away just like that. You can’t store it. Can’t bank it.

Part of our problem — here in America: we’ve taken The Rule Of Law for granted. Those following it always assumed that everyone was following it. Sure, sure — there are criminals outside The Rule Of Law but that’s why we HAVE a Rule Of Law — to isolate those people and handle them fairly but judiciously. We never imagined, We The People, that so many of those who swore an oath to defend The Rule Of Law (that’s what our Constitution is) were committed to overthrowing The Rule Of Law in a kind of soft white Christian male coup d’etat.

The Rule Of Law says foreign interests can have no say in American elections. The Republican Party violated the hell out of that throughout election 2016. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy FAMOUSLY said to a roomful of Republican muckety-mucks “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump”. Pays for what, someone in the room should have asked. “Pays for what purpose?” even. Instead, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan (per the Washington Post) “…instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

According to The Rule Of Law, Speaker Ryan’s response should have been more along the lines of “Holy shit! Guys — get the FBI on the phone pronto! We’ve got a huge PROBLEM on our hands!” But Speaker Ryan didn’t say that. No one in the room even thought anything like it. Hmmmmmmm…

The literal instant we stop following The Rule Of Law to the letter, we compromise it. When we follow it for some people but not so much for other people — that violates The Rule Of Law’s core principle. Speaker Ryan knew he was violating The Rule Of Law — that’s why they all had to agree to “keep it in the family”. Another group of criminals would call that agreement an OMERTA.

It’s the kind of agreement people do when they’ve abandoned The Rule Of Law for their own set of laws. They just haven’t had the decency to tell the rest of us. You know — THE MAJORITY.

We don’t know yet the full extent to which the entire Republican Party was compromised by Russia (and, perhaps, other countries or bad actors). We can only imagine the kompromat Russia is dangling over Lindsey Graham’s pervy head. Even before this though, the Republican Party displayed a disdainful cynicism toward The Rule Of Law. They applied its full pressure whenever they could — while ignoring all the ways they were violating the hell out of it at the very same time.

We know that the Republican Money Machine turned its back on The Rule Of Law a generation ago when it saw the demographic writing on the wall: America was not going to be a predominantly white country for much longer. By 2050, it’s estimated, white people will cease being the majority of the population. Think that doesn’t scare the snot out of conservative white people?

The hard right in this country turned its back on The Rule Of Law the instant they saw it was going to STOP being their instrument of destruction. I don’t know if they feared retribution, but they certainly feared losing absolute power (and the money that goes with it). The Republican Party morphed into The Trump Party — and The Trump Party works for Russia. Russia made Trump POTUS (he did NOT win Pennsylvania, Wisconsin or Michigan legitimately — he couldn’t have after Paul Manafort gave Oleg Deripaska proprietary polling data on those three states). Even Trump’s reported behavior on election night speaks to a kind of guilty behavior. Ever since, no one has obsessed more than Trump has on his presidency’s legitimacy. Why’s that?

IF we really do believe in The Rule Of Law then Donald Trump’s presidency violates it. The fact of his presidency violates it and stands OUTSIDE The Rule Of Law. Trump’s presidency and The Rule Of Law cannot exist at the same time and in the same place.

There is no precedent for what’s happening to us. We have to stop looking to the past for guidance. If Trump violated The Rule Of Law in order to BECOME president of the United States then, by law, he never was president. Not being president, he never had the authority to do anything he did. He never had the authority to negotiate on our behalf or nominate judges.

Let’s use a metaphor that even Donald Trump would understand: A Beauty Pageant. An American presidential election is a lot like a beauty pageant. If, it’s learned after a winner is announced, that the winner wasn’t honest with the judges (as, say, Vanessa Williams was about some mildly erotic photos she’d been part of), the judges can take away the winner’s crown and give it to someone MORE deserving. Someone, say, who followed the pageant’s rules about not doing things that might undermine the pageant’s “brand”.

Vanessa Williams lost her crown — and everything that went with it. If the judges had known before GIVING her the crown, they would never have crowned her, right? They would never have given her the rights & privileges that went with it. In their minds, they were lied to. Vanessa Williams mis-represented herself.

If part of Vanessa Williams’ rights had been to negotiate branding deals on behalf of Miss America, the judges — the whole Miss America organization — would have voided every single one of them for the same reasons.

I know what I’m saying seems impossible to pull off. HOW would we undo the results of an American election? Well, as one of the wronged in this equation — as one of the MAJORITY whose rights are being threatened by a willful right wing minority — HOW CAN WE NOT? Why, I’d like to know, are we always fair beyond fair to conservatives while demanding Progressives explain themselves relentlessly. When did the press lose its mind demanding from conservatives how they were going to pay for Trump’s tax breaks for the rich?

There’s a stone cold reality staring us in the face: Donald Trump was never the legitimate president of the United States.

That fact ripples a thousand ways in a million different directions. We cannot simply ignore it. We can’t “agree to agree” to get past it. We won’t. It’s exactly like slavery — a gross insult to The Rule Of Law.

But then… The Rule Of Law is only what we say it is.

Ball’s in our court.