Republicans & The Best Stateroom On The Titanic

Sane people can never quite grok how someone will always show up to place a million to one bet on something preposterous on the pure hope that “it could happen”. Those bets never pay off and are never going to. Republicans keep betting that the Titanic – having already hit the iceberg and begun taking on water – isn’t going to sink. They think they’re all Molly Brown – except Molly’s floating away on a lifeboat while they’re sinking into the cold, icy deep. The Republicans are pirates who believe in magic. They’re white guys deluded by their own whiteness; they think because white people imposed their racist will on Europe once – which they failed at horribly, remember – that they can do it again here… with the same results? That’s the whole kicker to white supremacists worshipping Hitler. He’s the literal poster boy for what happens when you let white people’s id run amok. Sure, you get to kill millions of people you hate and (briefly) take over the world. But, then the majority finally imposes its will – and your “thousand year Reich” comes up a little short.

There’s no prettying up what’s about to happen here. It is going to be ugly and violent because of what’s at stake: white hegemony. Literally.

America is on its way to being a white minority nation. Nothing’s going to stop that. Not even the Republican Party attempting to impose permanent minority rule upon the rest of us. The Republican’s racist brain trust – Steve Bannon and Mike Flynn, the Mercers, Charles Koch, Sean Hannity – believes it can pull a “Packer Sweep” and flatten the rest of us into submission as they end American democracy on their own say-so. They believe that what happened in Nazi Germany can happen here. They hope like hell it IS happening here.

But, the GOP is absolutely wrong about that. Their power grab is doomed to fail. Here’s why.

America simply isn’t like any other country – least of all, like Germany at the moment fascism took hold of it. What we think of as “Germans” and “Germany” is a relatively recent invention. The modern political states of Europe are each the product of two thousand years plus of evolution that slowly changed Huns, Visigoths, Ostrogoths, Vandals, Burgundians,, Lombards, Saxons and Franks (among others) into Germans, French, Italians, Belgians, Spaniards and English people (among others). The Europeans’ pathogens cleared the way for white people to conquer North, South and Central America with a modicum of effort. White northern Europeans especially stepped onto American shores utterly convinced of their superiority. The Americas are still suffering for that delusion.

The whole rest of the world then, in essence, saw America for the blank slate of potential it always was. While virtually every other human society had been around or evolving in place for a millennium at least, the society that filled up the pathogen-emptied America was made up of all those other human societies. No one – not even the Pilgrims – came here looking for any sort of religious freedom. The Pilgrims found their religious freedom in the Netherlands after they left England. They came to America looking for money – because living lives of religious freedom was expensive. My point: America was always seen as a place for opportunity. For reinvention. Where, if one was willing to put in the hard work, regardless of who you are, regardless of where you’re from, you too can achieve your dreams (so long as that doesn’t infringe on someone else achieving their dreams).

White people may think they “invented” America, but they didn’t. The best we can say for the country’s founders is that these rich, Christian, land-owning men had a great idea in their heads – inspired by the French Enlightenment – that people didn’t need kings to govern them, that they could govern themselves. To that end our founders wrote “All men are created equal”. But, being fallible – and being especially fallible cos “men” – they didn’t get the execution of this great idea one hundred percent right. For starters, they didn’t actually mean “all men” are created equal. They only meant that men like them were equal. In their eyes. They also meant that ONLY men could be their equals. Women need not apply or vote. Some of the founders though understood America, understood what made America worth founding, the republic worth keeping. James Madison insisted that “E Pluribus Unum” be our Great Seal.

“From many one”. That is how America happened. It is precisely what makes America exceptional.

It’s the thing Republicans are hell bent on steering America away from. They will fail. It is inevitable. Hitler relied on both the enthusiasm and physical violence of his followers and the silent, tacit approval of everyone else. There may have been plenty of “Good Germans” who didn’t “like” what Hitler was doing. They didn’t try to stop him either. End of the day? They were more “German” than “good”. Hitler relied on that “German-ness”. The Republicans also are relying on a cohesive “white” response to their power grab. Republicans are relying on enough white people to coalesce around the idea of permanent white hegemony to cow the rest of us into permanent acceptance of same.

I wish them luck with that.

For the Republicans to accomplish their goal, they would have to get the REST of the white people to go along PLUS Black people, brown people, Asian people, LGBTQ people, Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus and Buddhists. We’ll all have to agree to go along to get along. We’ll have to resist seeing common purpose in a common foe. We’ll have to stop ourselves from reacting to each new outrage with mounting contempt for the evil that thinks it can abuse us and get away with it.

IF the Republicans succeed at stealing our democracy out from under us – the only way it can happen – it will be a long, ugly, violent process to get it back. But we will because, at that point, what choice will the rest of us have? Trust me when I say this – as a child of the Holocaust: never again.

The Republicans think their whiteness is a talisman. They couldn’t be more wrong.

Republicans Love Grievance Kabuki

Selling good ideas that people want isn’t nearly has hard as selling terrible ideas that no one except a privileged few would want. The majority of Americans have zero interest in what the Republican Party wants to sell them because the majority of Americans don’t want to live in the distant past — somewhere around 1850 — in what Republicans and white supremacists think of as their “Golden Age”. Regardless of their current political label (the Democratic and Republican Parties have swapped names; modern Republicans are Dixiecrats while modern Democrats philosophically are the “Party of Lincoln”), Republicans no longer stand for anything except racism and naked power lust. The demographic annihilation they’ve feared since the Reagan years has begun. White people — already a minority in states like California — are fast becoming a minority all across America. And that makes Republicans nuts.

What exactly did all those Trumpists mean when, marching in lock step together, they chanted “Jews will not replace us!” in Charlottesville? What did those armed thugs have in mind as they stormed Michigan’s capitol in 2020? Why do all those anti-vaxxers lose their shit when asked even to mask up (never mind vaxx up)? What outcome did the January 6 insurrectionists aspire to? And is there any grievance bigger than someone who cheated vigorously to win an election but lost anyway and whose tender ego still can’t bear it?

Quick side note: Donald Trump’s Grievance Kabuki may be inspired more by fear of treason charges than having lost the election he needed to win in order to never get charged with treason. But, I digress…

Grievance Kabuki is a bizarre pearl that forms inside the racist’s brain. The irritating grain of sand that starts this perverse pearl is an abhorrence of “the other” — anyone that isn’t exactly like him. They don’t believe for two seconds that E Pluribus Unum. But they’re all into “originalism” which is really a schoolyard bully insisting the rules are whatever he says they are. They’re down with the tacit understanding that “All men are created equal” referred only to men and only to white, Christian, land-owning men. No one else was equal to the white man and anyone who says or acts differently is challenging this bullshit orthodoxy.

A big reason evangelicals and other religionistas embraced Grievance Kabuki is because they embrace Grievance Kabuki’s cynicism. Jesus preached “Do unto others” (a good, tight distillation of the foundational Judaic concept “Tikkun Olam” — the obligation of every Jew to make the world a better place because they live in it) which the Apostle Paul (Christianity’s actual founder) and the early church fathers twisted into “Do what we say, or else”. Original sin looms large in this worldview. Regardless of whether they believe an actual Eve ever existed, these fundamentalists think that all human evil flows from women (to them, the lustful, it starts with lust). The whole point of Jesus is 1) to zero out the original sin’s negatives and 2) to give all these forgiven Christians a chance to live forever — just like Jesus is doing. The trick is you have to believe in Christianity’s version of Jesus in the exact, dogmatic way they’re telling you to. And woe is to you if you dare contradict their version of the world!

Feelings over facts. That’s the music playing in the Grievance Kabuki artiste’s head as he awkwardly shifts this way and that, white people having no rhythm. They think louder equals “more right” when louder only equals more loud. And, of course, there’s always their “Second Amendment Conflict Resolution” approach to solving their problems (like people who disagree with them, Black people too successful for their liking or women getting to do with their bodies what they want): you pick up a semi-automatic and the glorious spray of gunfire makes all those problems go away. Or at least, bleed out where you can see them. They don’t want to share power with “others”. It’s the part of democracy they’ve always hated on the down low. It’s the reason they voter suppress and gerrymander. It’s the reason they can shrug off Vladimir Putin being the leader of a crime syndicate with a corrupt government at its disposal as their ally in altering election 2016’s actual outcome (we will get to the bottom of exactly how Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin went red by 78,000 votes combined). Whether it’s violence to deal with personal issues or the political violence of an actual coup d’etat, violence is very much a part of the Grievance Kabuki toolkit.

And, ya know who else loves Grievance Kabuki? Our news media. They eat it with a spoon. Being acolytes of “both sides do it” brand journalism, most American journalists insist that all points of view are equally valid — the good and the bad, the true and the untrue (it’s not for them — journalists — to judge). But it also asserts that all points of view (even if diametrically opposed to each other) are equally valid. Therefore Hitler’s authoritarianism is equal to the Allies democracy. To be fair, that does correctly assert that authoritarian Germans had a point of view. Its mistake is in also asserting that their point of view was as valid as any other. As a Jew, I have big problems with that.

Our news media may have been taken aback by Donald Trump’s Grievance Kabuki when he began his presidential campaign in 2016 by announcing that “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” is okie-dokie for rich guys like him, but they quickly jumped aboard Trump’s Grievance Kabuki tour bus when it started their “But Her Emails” act. Any other former president — having lost the White House, the House and the Senate — would have hurriedly faded into the woodwork to avoid being harangued by the press. But, Donald Trump needs to be in the White House because, according to that stupid Department of Justice rule that says you can’t indict a sitting president, being POTUS means Trump gets away with EVERYTHING. And that includes turning America from the greatest (semi-flawed) experiment in human self governance into the biggest shithole country in the world.

That, really, is the goal of Grievance Kabuki — an America that looks like 2021 but feels like 1850. I’ve some bad news for my Republican chums: aside from them and their bitches in the American news media — no one else is interested. We ain’t buying tickets to the show. And if the GOP thinks it can shove this show down America’s throat? They’re about to witness a whole other kind of “performance art” — one where America finally lives up to its “EVERYONE is equal before the law (and the law is applied equally”) potential. It’s called E Pluribus Unum. And it rocks.

White People Are Making A Hash Of Democracy — Just Like They Did To Christianity

In a sense, white people are like George W. Bush — born on third base but thinking they hit a triple to get there. The playing field in America has never been level for anyone except white people. That’s because they can only see themselves. Where the rest of America sees privilege, white America sees entitlement. Brilliant idea that “All men are created equal” is, it gets kneecapped immediately if “All men” actually means “all WHITE men”. And by “white men”, they mean THEMSELVES. Democracy’s the hardest form of government to pull off because it’s self-government. It requires every citizen get involved at least by voting if not by running for office; America’s founders never imagined a “professional class” of politicians would end up running America. But then, white people, it turns out, don’t get everything right contrary to how they think of themselves. There’s something in the northern European makeup — as exercised here in America — that despises democracy. At least, that’s how they behave toward it. Or is their problem actually democracy when it’s practiced by everyone not them?

That sounds remarkably undemocratic. But then, is there anything less Christian then your basic, white supremacist? Don’t tell them that however. In their minds? They could teach the world what it means to be a “real” Christian.

Jesus himself would probably disagree with them. In response, your basic white supremacist Christian would probably crucify Jesus all over again, happily nailing him to a cross all by themselves. Isn’t that what dirty Jews deserve anyway?

Personally, I blame monotheism. It concentrates every bit of divine power into one set of very mercurial, highly emotional, at times downright cruel hands. Yahweh is a deity only humans could create — he’s that riddled with human frailty. When a monotheist claims to understand what Yahweh wants, what are they really claiming? How about if they hear Yahweh’s voice in their heads? I promise you it’s not the same voice that the monotheist standing next to them hears. That’s not Yahweh magically making himself over inside each different human’s head, that’s each human inventing Yahweh in his or her own image. The Yahweh they hear is them.

The crusades claimed to speak for Jesus. So did the Spanish Inquisition and every pogrom. To plenty of Germans, the Holocaust was divine justice. When you get down to it, you can make the voice in your head say anything you want. And, since you’ve given that voice divine authority, what it wants can’t be denied since “God” wants it.

The institutional church uses “Do unto others” as a kind of marketing pitch and a guide for the faithful. While the flock happily “does unto each other”, the institutional church to preaches “Do what we say — or else”. Do it our way. The problem — as the church keeps learning — the more the flock learns about how life really is the less inclined the flock is to do it the church’s way — and the smaller the flock gets. If the institutional churches had really and truly preached and lived by “Do unto others”, their fortunes might be very different today. But then, they wouldn’t be institutional churches anymore. They’d have nothing to do. Just like Jesus said…

The Europeans who embraced Jesus in the abstract would have hated him in person. For starters, he was a Jew. Born, lived and died one. Europeans hated Jews. Still do. So, the Christianity they practice is Jesus-free but institution-rich, completely missing the point. Throw in the fact that most of them (even if they can’t see it) see themselves as deities. Poor Jesus — he never stood a chance.

Once you see yourself as “graced by God”, everything you do becomes “divinely inspired” even if it’s killing people. Even if it’s enslaving people. Or taking their land because your deity tells you it’s okay with him. “All men are created equal” is the Christianity analog. All actual human beings — that’s Jesus. White people think democracy applies to them. Others, not so much. The idea of “others” controlling what white people do via the political process horrifies white people because white people know how THEY act when all the political power is concentrated in their hands.

White people know how they “do unto others” and the last thing on earth they want is anyone else doing that unto them. That’s why Republicanism in America is so anti-democratic. It’s the white guy’s version of a really good idea that plays as a bad idea to everyone else. But that’s only because white people aren’t trying to be democratic.

They’re trying to undermine democracy just like they undermined Christianity. Their track record should scare the hell out of everyone not them.

America’s Gun Laws Are Racist

That’s not a revelation. No one should read that headline and think “You know, I never thought of that.” They should think: “Damn right they are!”

That’s how obvious it is.

This is not virgin territory. Not even remotely. Plenty of ink — electronic or otherwise — has been spent on the subject.

Consider that policing in America began as “slave patrols”. Armed men rounding up runaways. Slaves — even ex-slaves — were prohibited from owning guns. “Slave Codes” they were called — then “Black Codes” after Emancipation. Only the name changed.

Gun control existed — in the sense that the gun laws controlled black people getting them. Brown people too. In fact, anyone who wasn’t white was the law’s target.

We just need to remind ourselves of the fact now — as we watch armed white militias enter statehouses — intent on intimidating lawmakers not with their ideas or passion but with their WEAPONS.

May 14, 2020 — White supremacist militias — unable to use their words — wave their dicks & guns around instead.

We need to remind ourselves how racist our gun laws are as we watch white supremacists confront peaceful protesters.

Charlottesville August 12, 2017 — White supremacist James Alex Fields, Jr drives his car into a crowd of peaceful protesters, killing Heather Heyer. How clever to use a car instead this time.

We need to remind ourselves as white looters attempt to co-opt legitimate rage.

Black Lives do not Matter to white looters there solely to cause chaos & get stuff for free.

We need to remind ourselves as white cops — and white guys in general — use their guns to hunt people of color.

Rednecks Travis McMichael & his father Gregory hunt black jogger Ahmaud Arbery while co-conspirator William “Roddie” Bryan videos.
Rayshard Brooks (r) is shot in the back by Atlanta PD Officer Garrett Rolfe – June 17, 2020

It’s not a coincidence that the same people who are most vociferous about clutching their guns to the bitter end are the same people who harass black and brown people in public spaces. Their lizard brains are on fire. They adore Donald Trump because his racism is their racism.

Where Jim Jones used kool-aid, Donald Trump uses violence. Each drop of bitter drink is replaced by a bullet.

Our Problem Isn’t That Humans Are “Tribal”, It’s That Humans Aren’t “Tribal ” Enough…

The English Premiership Football season started today. My side — I’m a Tottenham Hotspur fan (through marriage) going back 30 years — won! Though they played a dull first half, in the second half, the Spurs looked more Spurs-like. They pressed, they out-hustled, they attacked relentlessly. Our new guy (Ndombele) was great and Harry Kane who almost never scores in August, scored two goals! If you’re not a Spurs supporter like I am, that probably means nothing to you.

I understand. Spurs aren’t your tribe. You might be an Arsenal supporter (in which case piss off!) or you love Chelsea or Man U or Man City. I’ve got a good friend who supports West Bromwich-Albion (relegated last season to the League Championship, a tier below the Premier League). You might not even like footie. You might prefer American Football. Or hockey or baseball.

You might be a Lakers fan or a Dodgers fan — in which case, so am I. It’s not a problem for me (or anyone really) to take off their Spurs kit and put on a baseball cap or football jersey instead. One knows one can support several teams at the same time. One can belong to those tribes, as it were.

A fan base for a sports team — or even a singer — that’s a tribe, too. When you’re at a concert, surrounded by people who adore the performer as much as you do — you feel a sense of community with them. You’re both members of the same tribe.

For humans, being tribal is a survival instinct. We’re social creatures. Our success as individuals depends on our ability to cut it as part of the group. It’s a sad, horrifying fact: how one does in life is connected to how one does in middle school. If you socialized well in middle school, you should do fine in life. If you sucked socializing in middle school, you have a chance now to get your socialization right — with all the success and popularity that come with it. The trick is in which tribes you strive to become part of.

In middle school, of course, success depends on finding the one tribe that will have you. If you’re lucky enough to find, join and be accepted by that tribe, nothing else matters. Regardless of what happens to you, you’ll be fine in the end cos you’ve got your tribe.

Life works the diametric opposite way. Success depends on how MANY tribes you see yourself as part of.

When the Spurs game finished this morning, the Spurs and Aston Villa, their opponents, shook hands. The players all shook hands with the refs. The Spurs tribe on the field and the Aston Villa tribe on the field stopped being opposing tribes and became, instead, a tribe of footballers who all play well enough to be in the English Premiership. The players as a group stopped (for the most part) seeing refs as strange interlopers and saw them as a different breed of soccer professional — a different branch of the same tribe as them.

The fans at Spurs new, beautiful stadium, all cheered loudly for their conquering heroes. Eventually, they’d all finish celebrating, get their stuff together and head off into the streets — still Spurs supporters but also Londoners, too.

Those Spurs supporters never stopped being Londoners, of course. At the same time that I’m a Dodgers and Lakers fan (while remaining a Spurs fan), I’m also an Angeleno. I see other Angelenos as my tribe. I see people in my neighborhood as my tribe. I see Californians as my tribe. Excepting for Trump supporters (they’re racists), I see Americans as my tribe.

The problem with white supremacists (like there’s just “one” problem with them!) is that they see white people as their tribe. That’s it — just white people. Even when they say they’re Americans, you don’t get the feeling that their idea of the “American Tribe” and ours are the same thing. Their idea of “American” is them. If you’re not them, you can’t be in their tribe. You can’t be white (of course) and you can’t be American.

If I didn’t despise them for thinking how they think, I’d feel sorry for them — same reason. They’ve gotten it backwards.

The genius of America is that anyone can be American — provided they’re willing to work their asses off and work well with other people. Likewise, Americans moving to America from all over the world embrace diversity because they come from diversity. Diversity has always been what makes America truly exceptional.

Diversity demands finding kinship with as many different tribes as one can. The more diverse your circle of friends & acquaintances, the more diverse your tribe is. Before long, you begin to see human beings as your tribe.

Imagine that — seeing other people as your tribe just because they’re people. I hope the condition is catching. I really do.

What You Laugh At (And Who With) Defines You

The new SNL season premiered last night — and aside from Kanye West’s strange performances (culminating in his MAGA-hat-wearing finale number) was, start to finish, terrific.  Here in my house, we laughed a lot.

We were laughing, in part, cathartically.  We needed to laugh as a way to release the incredible tension.  But the laughter wasn’t completely therapeutic.    It was angry, too.  There were notes of righteous indignation and bitterness — because we live in a time when the Truth is being flat out ignored.

We live during a soft coup d’etat. During Cyber War while a hostile foreign power dominates us because one of our two political parties has been completely compromised by them.

There’s a lot to be angry and bitter about. And one way we ‘deal’ with that is through laughter.  It’s a coping mechanism.  But laughter also is a way that a culture defines itself, its boundaries, its quirks, its contradictions and idiosyncrasies.  We laugh at our hypocrisy and sanctimony.  We laugh, in a way, to self-critique.

Well, some of us do.

Others laugh as a way to belittle.  Their laughter doesn’t ever sound joyful or delighted.  It always has dark, threatening notes to it.

Perhaps it’s because of what exactly those people are laughing at.  For one thing — it’s never themselves that they’re laughing at.  That’s a tell.

People incapable of laughing at themselves are people without an actual sense of humor.  Not all laughter is caused by things that are funny.

If you think about last night’s SNL — and why it was so funny to so many people — it’s because it was aiming squarely at things we all know are TRUE.  It’s the way they attacked the Truth that made us all laugh.  TRUTH lies at the core of comedy.

(Often) painful Truth.

But a person laughing at, say, another person’s physical disability or handicap — isn’t laughing so much at a ‘truth’ as at the person with the disability or handicap; they’re not laughing at how unfair the universe is, they’re laughing at the fact that this person has this problem — and they don’t.  They’re laughing AT ‘the other’ — a person ‘unlike’ them for whatever reason.

When a group of people — with no sense of humor — begin laughing at ‘the other’ you get mobs.  You get fascists.  You get Nazi Germany.  You get white supremacists.  You get Donald Trump.

Want to know who’s who & what’s what in America today?  Look at who was laughing at SNL last night.  Who was laughing with it.

And who wasn’t laughing at all…

Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump Holds Election Night Event In New York City
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 08: People cheer as voting results for Iowa come in at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s election night event at the New York Hilton Midtown on November 8, 2016 in New York City. Americans today will choose between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton as they go to the polls to vote for the next president of the United States. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)