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Observations and musings on the failed nation state

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Attribution: Pixabay

So I’ve been forced to change the sub-heading of my site. It was called, Observations and musings on the modern nation state. No longer. I have now been forced to change it to; Observations and musings on the failed nation state. This country has deteriorated that much that quickly.

This post will be musings, specifically about my family. Our country has not turned into a failed state overnight, or even in the last 3 years of the failed Trump administration. It has taken decades for our country to deteriorate from within. Starting with the Reagan administration, each successive republican president, along with the democrat Bill Clinton, has pushed this country further and further to the edge of the abyss. Saying government is the problem, Republicans have spent the last 40 years dismantling everything that actually made this country great.

But with this continued drumbeat of, government is bad you’re on your own, more and more Americans have come to believe this. They see the streets and bridges crumbling, the pathetic state of our social structure, and how schools, especially in poor areas don’t or can’t even teach our children the basics. But who’s fault is this? If you listen to Republicans, it’s the fault of the government, the fault of the Blacks, the Hispanics, the immigrants. And who normalizes this message every day, amplifying it to millions only too willing to give up their independence to toe the party line. My family. That’s who.

I’ve written about how my family, specifically how my father and three brothers became radicalized by talk radio (my eldest brother and father), then the internet (my father and younger brother), and then finally Fox News (my youngest brother and my mother). My two sisters and I cannot understand how intelligent people, and believe me, everyone in my family is intelligent, can be corrupted and taken in by this obvious propaganda. Because really when you listen to right wing talking points, they are simplistic and easily dis-proven.

Two things come to mind that happened recently. I am not on Facebook, I gave that up years ago. And why you might ask? Well it’s hard to come to the realization that your family and friends are racists. And believe me, I do not say that lightly. I have friends that I have known for years that have never uttered a word about people of color, but have no problem posting the most vile descriptions of people. And when I called them on it, that’s when the knives came out. So it was better for me to shut it down. I look at my older brother’s Facebook page once in a while. And for what? To be disgusted? To confirm my brother is a racist and that he is in a cult? Well yes, that’s exactly why I do it. So looking from my wife’s Facebook page, I see that my brother has every disgusting political meme on it, more to demean democrats than anything else. One post caught my eye, and I had to address it. My brother had this on his page:

Every Single Day the

Democrat Party

***Proves***

they are MY ENEMY, the

ENEMY of MY FAMILY, and

ENEMY of MY COUNTRY

Enemy, Enemy, Enemy. Is there any doubt what he is saying, or what he is feeling? What do you do with your ENEMY? You kill them. That’s what you do. So I sent a text to him along with the meme and I asked him if I or his two sisters are his enemy? If we are the enemy of his family? If we are the enemy of his country. And his response? The Party is. Always will be. And then he asked why do I support Marxists and Communists. Again, my older brother is very smart. But where in 2020 would anyone actually believe that Democrats are Marxists or Communists? Well I know where. Fox News. That’s what they call Democrats. After a screed against Obama and how Democrats are trying to attempt a coup against Trump, my brother at the end said my sisters and me were not his enemy. Sort of rings hollow there doesn’t it?

And yesterday morning I had a conversation with my mother. She is now 85 and lives alone. I will preface this part by saying that I don’t ever remember when we were growing up that we ever heard a bad word about anyone, no matter their race or ethnicity. My father was an officer in the Air Force, and we always had people over to our house, either his fellow officers (who were almost always white), or people who worked under him, and there were to my recollection numerous people of color. I don’t call my mother much anymore as we are like oil and water. And it has only gotten worse as she has gotten older. As she has watched Fox News.

I spent 40 minutes listening to my mother blame everything in her life on African Americans, or as she says, Blacks. How the blacks forced her from Chicago. How they are getting everything free from the government, how they have it so good, and on and on. Growing up I don’t remember my mother being overtly racist, and I say overtly because almost every white person growing up in the 50s and 60s were racist in some way. You’re raised with a subconscious belief that you were better than everyone else. So how did my mother go from being someone who never said a bad word about people to blaming an entire race for her perceived misfortunes? Fox News.

My family is All-American, white and racist to the core. My older brother is now advocating for #CIVILWAR. Civil War with whom? Democrats I presume. Me most likely. My sisters and I really don’t understand how it could have gotten this bad. But it has, and Right Wing radio, internet, and tv is to blame. Along with the Republican party that is only too willing to drive the car into the ditch for a reason that I don’t think they even know why. They are unwilling to fund a Covid rescue package to help the millions that are out of work and are getting ready to be evicted from their homes. What do they think is going to happen? Do they think they are untouchable, that their money will protect them. That’s not how it works. You see the millions of ordinary Americans are the ones that drive this engine, not the rich people. Rich people don’t spend their money, they horde it. As the days, weeks, and months go on with fewer and fewer people having money to spend, the engine will start slowing down. And as it slows, pieces will start to fall away, never to return.

Our government, our Republican led government has failed us. Has failed the country. We are now a broken democracy with a large military. A military that has not won a conflict since 1945. Hows that for you? Even with all the billions of dollars we throw at it every year, our military can’t win a war. But the military doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Our military is a representation of our civilian government. And when our government is more interested in siphoning off every dime it can to give to the rich, the we deserve what we get.

And at that point I’m sure my brothers will be very happy. Because then they can say they finally owned the Libs.

What’s a man to do?

Man of LaMancha

I’ve started four or five posts in the last couple of weeks but for whatever reason I have not finished them.  Hell, with most of them I never got past the first paragraph.  Each one has a title, which in my mind clearly let’s me know what I was going to write about.  But as I start writing, I kind of peter out.  I’m not sure why.

The funny thing is, as I read the posts I’ve written over the last few years I’m rather proud of them.  Some of them are very well thought out and make a great point, which is what I try to do with every post – make it worth the while of any poor hapless soul who happens to blunder down this lonely little lane on the internet.  Now that I write that, I wonder how many people have the same address as me, one that no one can find and no one is looking for.

The thing is, I have to like what I write and I have to think that it’s in the least interesting.  Because I don’t spend a lot of time reading other people’s work if I don’t find the subject matter interesting and the way the author writes interesting.  But sometimes I guess it’s okay just to write for ones self.

I’m terribly saddened these days.  What our the current administration has done to it’s people is nothing short of criminal.  The inaction by President Trump and his entire administration, aided and abetted by the Republican Senate is a crime against humanity.  Is that hyperbole?  I actually think its is right on the nose.  The definition of Crimes Against Humanity as defined by the United Nations is as follows:

Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

Article 7
Crimes Against Humanity

  1. For the purpose of this Statute, ‘crime against humanity’ means any of the following acts when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack:
  • Murder;
  • Extermination;
  • Enslavement;
  • Deportation or forcible transfer of population;
  • Imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law;
  • Torture;
  • Rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual violence of comparable gravity;
  • Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds that are universally recognized as impermissible under international law, in connection with any act referred to in this paragraph or any crime within the jurisdiction of the Court;
  • Enforced disappearance of persons;
  • The crime of apartheid;
  • Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or to mental or physical health.

 

If I take these two highlighted points, and I’m damn sure that to qualify only one of these need to pertain to the Trump Administration, I can make a very easy case for it.

Point one – Persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender as defined in paragraph 3, or other grounds.

According to an article in Vanity Fair on July 30, 2020 (https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/07/how-jared-kushners-secret-testing-plan-went-poof-into-thin-air), the White House was worried that more testing would lead to higher case counts.  And since the virus in the early stages was hitting blue states (meaning Democratic led) the hardest, that a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically.

“The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said a public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force.

Not using the immense power of the federal government to protect it’s citizens because they happen to live in a democratic led state is the definition of persecuting an indentifiable group based on political grounds.

Point two – Other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing great suffering.

The Trump administrations total lack of effort in combating the virus has been documented every day since he first declared that he had the pandemic under control.  On March 9, 2020, Trump tweeted, “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”

On March 19, 2020 at a daily press briefing, Trump said, “Governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work, and they are doing a lot of this work,” Trump said. “The Federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we’re not a shipping clerk.”

Since that date, Trump’s total neglect of his responsibilities have consigned over 160,000 citizens to death.  And in an interview with Axios’ Jonathan Swan on Monday, when he was asked why he says he has “everything under control”, Trumps reply was this:

“Well, what’s your definition of control?” Trump replied, adding: “I think it’s under control.”
“How? A thousand Americans are dying a day,” Swan said.
“They are dying. That’s true. And you — it is what it is,” Trump said emphatically. “But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it.”

 

“You know, we’re not a shipping clerk.”

“It is what it is.”

“It’s under control as much as you can control it.”

 

Trump has intentionally caused great suffering to the American people.  He doesn’t care about anyone but himself.  As a virus sweeps through our country, Trump has done everything he can to politicize his inaction, blaming everyone from China to Democrats.  He has taken zero responsibility for his administration’s inept and criminal handling of the Covid-19 response.

So back to my original question, what’s a man to do?  A man that holds no power and cannot sway his government.  Tilt at windmills is all.  Though I am not in a position to effect change, I can still put my blog in a bottle and toss it into the waves of the internet.  Will anyone read it?  Probably not, but that’s ok.  It’s the writing of it that changes me.  That helps me.  And that’s enough.

 

 

 

 

Would you like a side of Covid with your burger?

Lake of the Ozarks

Image courtesy of News Break

 

So my wife and I went for a walk this morning as it our wont.  We have been walking through the older neighborhoods (that is relative as the oldest neighborhood in our community dates from 1985) looking at the houses and what people have done to their gardens.  We love a good garden, and are uncompromising when we see a yard left to seed.

But this morning we decided to walk by our little downtown which should have been very empty.  But since our governor here in California has caved and let businesses reopen, the restaurants had full tables.  Now to be fair, the tables were outside and it looked like they were trying to keep tables separated.  But it was also very early in the morning (not even 10am), so if more people come in to the restaurants, I’m sure they will be seated at any open table.

My wife and I crossed the street so as not to walk on the sidewalk next to all the full tables.  But what struck me was that not one person I saw was wearing a mask.  I have read that being outdoors reduces the chance of you catching the virus, but being on top of people whether indoors or out would not be acceptable social distancing.

What I saw this morning coincided with an article I read about the state of Missouri being reopened, and people pouring into the Lake of the Ozarks this weekend.  You can see the picture at the top of the blog of what looks like hundreds or thousands of people crammed together to drink and party.   I’m mystified at the mindsets of these people who have decided that a virus that has killed over 100,000 people in this country won’t affect them.  That they’re one of the lucky ones that have an immunity.

The reason that this virus is so deadly is that people can have the virus and be asymptomatic.  Meaning that they have the live virus and don’t know it, infecting people that they come in contact with.  The CDC reports that 12 percent of known Covid-19 cases in the US have resulted in hospitalizations, and the death rate from positive cases is a whopping 5.9% in the U.S.  There’s no way to say exactly how many people have the virus (though some estimates are that up to 50% that are positive don’t even know they have it).

People don’t like numbers, its too abstract for them.  But percentages always catch up to you.  Just ask the people running casinos.  The percentages are always in their favor.  You may win a hand here and there, but the longer you play, the more the percentage tilts in favor of the house.  The same goes for the virus.  You may go out once or twice and mingle with people and come out fine, but the more people that you come in contact with the higher your chances are of contracting the virus.  And once you contract it, you now have a 12% chance of possibly needing to be hospitalized.  And a much greater chance of becoming a statistic.

Now my lovely wife and I enjoy going to the restaurants and bars in our little downtown.  During the weekends every place is packed.  But we have also come to realize that most of the food is not worth the price they charge (my wife is a chef and I always, always get better food at home).  So we weigh the cost of contracting a deadly virus versus the cost of eating not very good food.

I think I’ll stay at home and have some fries with my burger thank you very much.

 

To mask or not to mask

 

MASK_OF_ZORRO_1400x2100_EST

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment

It’s absolutely amazing to me that we as a country have come to this.  That wearing a mask in the middle of a pandemic has become a partisan issue.  Republicans have drawn the line.  The will not be sheep.  They will not be cowed.  Dammit, they will take a stand for freedom.  Whether it will kill them or not (hint, it will).

What’s so funny is that the same people who claim that they won’t be led by their government are being led by bots.  Lots and lots of bots.  Kathleen M. Carley and her team at Carnegie Mellon University’s Center for Informed Democracy & Social Cybersecurity have found that bots may account for between 45 and 60% of Twitter accounts discussing covid-19.  And the question is who is controlling these bots?  Republicans?  Russians?  Chinese?  Does it matter?

What matters is that a large percent of our population are willing to overthrow their local?  State?  Federal?  government because they are being what?  Asked not to kill their neighbors?  In the middle of a pandemic that has totally devastated the U.S in terms of deaths and the economy.  All I can ask is, what the fuck?  Why are Americans so bloody idiotic that they will believe any conspiracy myth (not theory – I read where a German publication has stopped using the term “theory” as they felt it lent credence to too much stupid shit)?

I’m not sure what we’re headed to when 35% to 40% of the population refuses to believe – in science?  I don’t even know anymore.  All I do know is my lovely wife and I will continue to wear masks, we will continue to stay at home, and we will continue to believe in science that tells us that there is a virus in this country that is a) highly contagious, and b) very deadly.

So we are the sheep.  We’ll listen to the experts.  We’ll stay alive.

#Whatstheplan

Ok, I don’t use hashtags.  I do have a twitter account that I opened years ago and don’t use, but I absolutely detest when people use hashtags on whatever they say (or write).  But in this case, I think it fits.  Because to be honest I would love to see this or something like this to gain traction in this country.  To get people to stand up and demand that our elected officials actually do something to help us, the people that elected them to office.

I read an article in The Atlantic this morning from David Cay Johnston titled, “The Rich Are Making Out Like Bandits In This Pandemic.”  Some of the facts that Mr. Johnston furnished are as follows:

  • One in five families didn’t have enough food to feed their children in April.
  • 36% of adults who lost their jobs to the COVID-19 pandemic or had their hours cut say they couldn’t pay their bills in April
  • From the beginning of March, in just 13 weeks companies parked $1 trillion into institutional money market funds.
  • Cash also was deposited at commercial banks – since mid-March, the growth in bank deposits leaped to a 15.8% rate  – up from 4.6% under Trump
  • The amount of cash in America grew at a 42% annual rate in the 13 weeks from Feb. 3 to May 4, 2020.  This is a measure of cash, known as M1. That’s the total of all dollar bills and coins, money held in checking accounts and traveler’s checks. That’s almost twice the highest rate ever previously—22.5% in 2011. It’s also almost seven times the average 6.3% annual growth in the basic money supply since 1976, Federal Reserve reports show.

$3 trillion dollars flowed from the Treasury in four pandemic relief bills.  According to an article by NPR.org, Congress allocated $207 Billion dollars for taxpayers in the CARES Act.  That bill itself was $2 billion dollars, which means that only 10% of the money in that individual bill was allocated to help taxpayers.  And if you add the other money that was distributed under the pandemic relief bills (a total of $3 trillion), taxpayers received less than 6.9% of funds.  Taxes collected from corporations accounted for only 6.5% of all monies collected in 2019, but no doubt they have received the lions share of money coming out of the Treasury.  And that money comes with no strings attached.  Steve Mnuchin, our fearless Sec. of Treasury, under intense questioning from Senator Warren would not say whether the companies would be held accountable to use that money to insure the welfare of their employees.  Basically, they can (read will) take the money and furlough (read fire) their employees.

Now before I get back to the article, let’s look at a few more numbers.  According to the Department of Labor, as of May 9th, the unemployment rate was 17.9%.   According to CBS News, as of 3 days ago, the total number of people that have applied for unemployment topped 43 million claims in the U.S.  Then looking at Wikipedia, as of February 2020, there was a total of 164.6 million people in the labor force in the U.S.  Now forgive me for bringing my math skills to a blog, but 43 divided by 164.6 equals 26.1.  Now I could be off a few thousand here or there, but how in the hell does an unemployment rate of 17.9% on May 9th jump to 26.1% (according to my calculations) on May 21st?

So we have 43 million Americans that have filed for unemployment, and no doubt, millions more that are either underemployed or furloughed.  And they were sent $1,200 per person starting on April 9th (according to the IRS).  According to a survey conducted by Yahoo Finance (man do I love statistics or what?), 69% of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings, and according to CNBC, 34% of Americans have zero savings.  ZERO.  But they still have car payments, mortgages/rents, credit card bills, electric/water bills, and all the rest.  They are us.  But now 43 million people don’t have a dime to pay these bills.  Oh, they were gifted with $1,200 thank you very much.  And the Republicans (ohhh, you knew I was going to get there eventually didn’t you?) have decided that there doesn’t need to be another stimulus yet.  According to Mitch McConnell, on Thursday he said that a second relief package would likely be needed, but its size and scope would remain uncertain until legislators had a chance to gauge the full impact of the first package and the speed of local economies’ revivals as states reopened (read you’re on your fucking own).

Finally back to the article.  What got me was the sentence that one in five families didn’t have enough food to feed their families in April.  That’s 20% of Americans.  If you don’t know someone directly affected, you will soon because that one in five is going to rise very quickly.  That $1,200 per person that started in April is now a fleeting memory.  Like an empty bottle of water to a very thirsty family.  You’re so thirsty you don’t even remember what the water tasted like.  Now in the 3rd relief bill, more money was allocated to taxpayers in the form of expanded unemployment insurance, emergency family and medical leave, and cost reductions on federal health insurance programs.  That’s all great, but what it comes down to is not enough money in the hands of the people that have none.  And the old republican argument that people with little to nothing are that way because they are lazy, because they don’t want more, is total fucking nonsense.  43 million people that lost their jobs  Because of a virus.  Not because they didn’t want to work.

The second thing that struck me was the amount of monies that were put into institutional money market funds.  This is traditionally where corporations park money when they are not buying back their stocks to drive up their stock price. And the amount of money that was deposited in commercial accounts, and the money held in checking accounts/travelers checks.  Where is all this money coming from?  Certainly not from the majority of Americans.  What this shows me is that the rich are again comfortably weathering out the storm, most likely in their country houses.  Now believe me, I don’t begrudge people who are rich.  I’ve personally known two billionaires and multiple millionaires.  But what I cannot stand is the total unequal playing field when people who already have so much continue to tilt the table in their direction.

The only thing that can protect the population at large is the state/federal government.  But in a pandemic such as what we are living in, the revenue the states depend on has dried up, so its up to the federal government to rescue everyone.  This is how our country was structured.  The states are “local”, they work within a limited area.  When the emergency is larger than that limited area, that’s when the federal government takes over.  Except that’s not what has happened here.  The federal government under President Trump and the Republican majority in the Senate have decided that they don’t have to help the 43 million people out of work, that they’re not accountable to the 93,000+ dead from the Coronavirus.  They’ve decided that Americans are on their own  If you didn’t save enough money to weather a worldwide pandemic than that’s your fault.

But of course that doesn’t apply to corporations  Take for example the airline industry.  First of all they had their tax rates reduced from 35% to 21% in 2018 thanks to Trump, saving them millions and billions of dollars.  Then these same companies received a tax break from President Trump to the tune of again, millions and billions of dollars.  What did these titans of industry do with all these savings?  Invest in infrastructure?  Raise the salaries of their employees?  Lower the cost of tickets so their customers could enjoy the benefits Trump has bestowed upon them? Ha.  They bought back their stock to raise their stock price to benefit their shareholders and executives.  So these same companies, and believe me, they are no different from the rest of corporate America, now went to the front of the line when the virus hit.  To the tune of $25 billion dollars.  Money that I’m sure wont trickle down to their employees.  Isn’t this what the Republicans were complaining about with “Blue” states, they they mismanaged their finance so they shouldn’t be bailed out?  Funny how that works huh?

Now we’re getting to the end of this little diatribe.  Whats the plan?  I don’t ask that of Trump or McConnell because I know that they don’t have one.  Their plan is to enrich themselves and their rich buddies and benefactors.  I’m directing this at the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and the Minority Leader of the Senate, Charles Schumer.  They are the two people in this country that can actually get something done to help the people of this country.  Progressives wanted a UBI (Universal Basic Income) of $2,000 per month per person, which to be honest would not keep anybody afloat for long, but it was at least a recognition that people needed help.  And now in the HEROES pandemic bill, the only thing in there from the Democrats is another $1,200 per person lump sum payment.

If the powers that be want this country to rush headlong into a greater depression then what we had in the 1930’s under Hoover, they’re doing a great job.  However, propping up corporations, which by the way were so saddled with debt prior to the virus that they were ready to fall like dominoes, when there are little to no consumers is a recipe for disaster.

Which is exactly what we are facing.  A decades long disaster of our own making.  Courtesy of Trump and his cabal of sycophants.

So I want to ask again, what’s the plan?  Because I have yet to see anything long term to help get this country back on secure footing.  Getting people back to work.  Keeping people fed and alive until we can make that happen.

Hopefully someone smarter than me is already thinking about this.

I know that Elizabeth Warren has a plan.  She has a plan for everything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the White Rabbit said, “Oh my fur and whiskers! I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!”

index

It seems as if I haven’t written in forever, but as I look back on my blog, my last post was November 20, 2018. So not forever, just 18 months.  I had lost my password, and more importantly my email address that I started this blog with. Now some may ask, how can you lose your email address?  Well, when I started this blog way back in 2013, I had a corporate job and I didn’t want my name associated with this blog.  Isn’t that ridiculous?  Having to hide what you write, what you think.  Well, the people in power don’t like it when their underlings think.  It’s dangerous.

I’ve gone through three years of the most destructive presidency in the history of the United States.  We’ve had presidents that have done destructive things to benefit their cronies (think Harding with the Tea Pot Dome scandal). We have had presidents that have managed to destroy parts of our country through inaction (think James Buchanan prior to the Civil War), as well as letting millions suffer again through inaction (think Hoover during the depression).  But to my knowledge we have never had a president that has taken delight in destroying everything that has made this country the envy of the world for over 240 years.

I have not put my thoughts down concerning Donald J. Trump on this blog yet, though I have written a couple of posts about Mitch McConnell, who continues to willfully destroy this country through design.  I think now it’s time to brush off the keyboard and let my thoughts go where they will.

I read a book years back called, Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust.  The author provided conclusive evidence that the extermination of European Jewry was helped by tens of thousands of ordinary Germans.  Ordinary Germans knew what was happening, and they not only approved but helped.  And that brings me to America today, because though people like Trump and McConnell are the ones (currently) doing the damage, they wouldn’t of been able to get half as far without the acceptance of the people that voted for them and continue to support them.  Believe me, if every American had stood up and decried what the Republican leadership has done, it would have stopped long ago.  But like the Germans, Americans today are pleased that we have concentration camps, that we have shut our borders, that we have insulted our friends.  Americans not only approve of what is going on, they are gladly helping continue the destruction.

So once more into the breach, dear friends, once more.

I started this blog so many years ago as a way to release the pressure I felt building up.  Pressure from the forces that were tearing this country apart because a black man had been elected president, and that pressure has only gotten worse.  So to keep my wife’s sanity because she has to listen to me rant every day,  I am coming back here again to release the pressure.  Because I fear that what may be coming for us here will make the last three years seem like a quaint memory.

“In that direction,” the Cat said, waving its right paw round, “lives a Hatter: and in that direction,” waving the other paw, “lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.”
“But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you ca’n’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

D36497E9-B856-4D51-878A-05DD5BF71E0F_4_5005_c

 

*Illustrations care of John Tenniel

 

 

The End of Politics

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In 2016, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said: “One of my proudest moments was when I told Obama, ‘You will not fill this Supreme Court vacancy.'” He was of course referring to Merrick Garland, who President Obama selected to replace Antonin Scalia, who died earlier in the year.

Then in 2017 McConnell said in reference to President Trump’s nominee Gorsuch, who’s appointment Democrats vowed to fight, “Apparently there’s yet a new standard now, which is not to confirm a Supreme Court nominee at all. I think that’s something the American people simply will not tolerate.”

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the state’s congressional districts an illegal gerrymander that violated the state’s constitution. The Republican-controlled legislature responded by attempting to impeach every member of the Court that voted for the decision.

And in state after state (Arizona, Florida, Maine) in this last election, Republicans went to court to sue to stop the counting of ballots.

Fast forward to last week, in an op-ed McConnell wrote on Foxnews.com, the headline was; Will Dems work with us, or simply put partisan politics ahead of the country?

I started writing a blog titled,” The End of Politics”, in 2016 when McConnell stated that he wouldn’t hold a vote on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee. But as I wrote it, I realized that I could have used the same title for McConnell when he vowed to stop all legislation and make Obama a one term president. It wasn’t so much about limiting the other party to one term, it was about refusing to cooperate on any legislation whatsoever, in the middle of a financial meltdown, just so the American people would blame President Obama and the Democrats.

In every instance, it has been party over government. Now any student of history will tell you that this is the way our politics have been played since the first Congress in 1774. Politicians have always put themselves and their party above the needs of the constituents.

Mitch may be the poster boy for bloodthirsty politics, but he’s certainly not the only one. The Republican controlled legislature in Wisconsin is now plotting to strip the powers from the incoming governor, a Democrat. They are taking a page from the North Carolina Republicans who also tried to strip powers from the incoming Democratic governor. The peaceful transition of power after elections is one of the hallmarks of a democracy. But democracy is not the game Republicans are playing.

From extreme gerrymandering, where in state after state the Republicans lose the popular vote only to control state house and senates, to Jim Crow era voter repression, Republicans have given up any pretense of democracy. Donald Trump declared during the 2016 election, “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election — if I win”. Democracy doesn’t matter, only power.

And that’s all that’s left of the Republican party, a simple grab for power. At any cost.

But you say, the Democrats still play by the rules, they accept losing elections even when they are stolen (Gore v Bush 2000) or when the vote is so obviously skewed to one party (Abrams v Kemp, Georgia Senate 2018) through fraud. Democracy cannot survive when one party plays by the rules and the other party does not. Because what will happen, is happening, is that the party that does not play by the rules will become more and more desperate as demographics work against them. There are only so many votes you can block, or elections you can steal, before people understand what you are doing. And vote against you. And if the numbers are large enough, the Republicans are going to lose.

They are well aware of that, and well aware that time is against them. What do they do in 2020 when we vote to replace the current occupant? Trump won the last election even though he lost the popular vote, and his popularity has only decreased since then. But Trump (with the Republicans in tow) has shown a propensity to use whatever is at his disposal to further his personal power.

You can’t put the genie back in the bottle once he’s out. And we can’t go back to a time when both sides played fair, when there were disagreements, yet policy was written. Neither side may have gotten everything they wanted, but they accepted that all sides needed to be represented.

For Republicans there is only one side, theirs. There is only one way, theirs. There is only one party, theirs. The party that gerrymanders districts, that suppresses votes, that sues to stop the counting of votes, is the party that can’t understand why the voters prefer to vote for Democrats.

All of this is a run up to the 2020 election. When Republicans from the president on down continually cry fraud when they lose an election, I can only imagine what will happen on election night when the returns come in badly for them.

And I can only hope our Democracy survives it.

The Mob

I guess it depends on which side of the divide you’re on.

60 to 70 people in front of the Broward County Supervisor of Elections office holding signs saying people need to go to jail, chanting “Lock Her Up”, and calling for an end to voting. No, not calling to an end to voting, just calling for the stoppage of recording votes. Votes for the other candidate.

A mob? No, concerned citizens.

Men in white shirts and ties banging on the doors of the Supervisor of Elections where a group of election canvassers in Miami-Dade County were meeting to try to figure out how democracy in Florida should move forward. But led by a Republican Congressman (John E. Sweeney), protestors stormed the office, hitting and kicking people trying to shut down the recount. Protestors who were hired and worked for republican organizations. They were effective. The Canvassing Board agreed to shut down the recount effectively handing the presidency of the United States to George W. Bush.

A mob? No, constitutional warriors.

A football game in Denver. The Broncos played the San Diego Chargers for the AFC Championship, with the winner going to the Super Bowl. The Broncos lost and the city rioted. The fans are white and despondent.

A mob? No, just dedicated fans.

Thousands of people went to Washington to protest the placement of a misogynist, a proven liar, and a partisan hack to the Supreme Court. The people were passionate in their protest against what they considered an affront to the sanctity of the Court. Most were women who knew that if Judge Kavanaugh were seated that he would rule against Roe v. Wade.

A mob? Most certainly. People who disrupt an orderly proceeding should be arrested.

Citizens of Ferguson, MO, protested against the fatal shooting of one of their sons by a police officer. The citizens were African American, the 18 year old murdered by the policeman was African American, and the policeman was white. They believed that Michael Brown was shot for no reason, and then was left to die on the street as the police officers watched. These same citizens had been subjected to years of abuse at the hands of the white police and the local government, and they had had enough. So they did the only thing left to people without anything, they stood up and said, No More.

A mob? Oh most assuredly, which is why the police brought in armored cars and reinforcements to insure that the African Americans knew their place.

A politician hounded out of a restaurant because people are angry with his efforts to subvert our democracy. A Press Secretary, a mouthpiece for an authoritarian fascist wannabe is denied dinner in a restaurant by the staff that wants nothing to do with her. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen called a fascist because her department is taking immigrant children from their parents and locking them in cages.

A mob? Maybe not, but certainly left wing activists looking to overthrow our government.

In a country that was founded on revolution, inciting revolution will land you in very hot water. But it’s the definition that matters the most. When the right kind of people revolt, it’s a march, a rally. When the wrong kind of people revolt, it’s a demonstration, a stoppage, a strike. Our current president said about the protestors outside the Supreme Court, “You don’t hand matches to an arsonist, and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob. Democrats have become too EXTREME and TOO DANGEROUS to govern. Republicans believe in the rule of law – not the rule of the mob.”

Democrats have become too dangerous to govern. That’s an interesting, and dangerous, statement. What that says to his supporters is that democrats are dangerous, that they should be handled differently. Which is a euphemism. A call to violence.

Our democracy is currently working the way it should in Florida, Georgia, and Arizona. Provisional and mail-in ballots are being counted. The only problem is that they are being counted the wrong way.

They’re being counted for the mob.

The Stranger Redux

I first posted the blog below on September 5, 2016. This was during the campaign for the presidency of the United States. I need to get back to writing, get back to trying to release the pressure that I feel. Pressure from the Fascism creeping over our land. What I wrote back in September of 2016 feels even more dangerous today. Because the stranger is now at our door.

…………………………………………………………………….

We’ve seen his type before. Sometimes dangerous, sometimes not. It just depends on the guise in which he comes.

He’s seen standing outside a country general store in the 1880’s selling a cure all. Except the cure all is made of poison. He knows it but doesn’t care. He tells the crowd in front of him that for only fifty cents this will cure every ailment that you have.

He’s seen standing on a street corner in Eastern Europe in the 1910’s handing out pamphlets blaming everyone’s misfortune on the Jews. Telling the crowd that all their problems are not their fault, but the fault of Jews stealing their homes and money.

He’s seen under a tent in nowhere USA in the 1920’s, sweating with everyone else on a sweltering August evening selling a cure all. Except this cure all is in the form of religion. Telling the poor unfortunate crowd in the tent that it’s not their fault, that they just don’t believe hard enough. And that they can reach eternal salvation for only a small donation.

He’s seen on a platform in Moscow in the 1920’s telling the crowd that it’s not their fault, that they have been misled. That it’s the fault of foreign subversives and Jews, and that if they put his party in power, that the people will own everything.

He’s seen in a piazza in Rome in the 1930’s exhorting a crowd telling them that he can get the country back to greatness. That he can make the trains run on time. All they have to do is believe him and elect his Blackshirts to power.

He’s seen in Germany in the 1930’s at rally after rally telling the crowd that it’s not their fault, it’s the fault of the Jews. That the Jews stabbed the country in the back. And he can make the Fatherland great again, as long as they trust him.

He’s seen in Washington in the 1950’s telling th citizens that if they love their country, that they have to turn in the subversives and communists. That if they only get rid of the filth that he can make the country great again.

He was seen in country after country in the 1960’s telling his countrymen that now the white oppressor is gone, that all they have to do is put him in power and he will make their life better. That he will rid their new country of the wrong types and make it pure again.

He was seen in Cleveland telling his supporters that he will make their country great again. That by jailing the opposition, by deporting the illegals, by building a wall, he and only he can improve their life. That he can take them back to that time when only they had power.

He’s always been, and he always will be. Preying on the weak and the unfortunate. Telling others what they want to hear. Coveting power only for himself. Destroying the rest.

We’ve seen his type before.

Just trying to live my life

It’s been a year since I’ve posted, and prior to that I was spotty. Life got in the way certainly, but mostly I find myself tired of being angry all the time. Don’t get me wrong (and believe me, I know I write this more for myself than anyone actually reading it), I still care about politics and the direction not only of the country but the world, but I feel that I have less and less to do with any of it.

Have you read the paper lately (has anyone read a paper lately?)? It’s all bad news. Fascism and authoritarianism is on the rise, striding the globe. There is not one country that’s safe, including ours. I’ve lived a good life, white, male, in a country that caters to such. But I berate myself that I haven’t done enough to help others, to help humanity in general. And the worse the news gets, the more I think I should help.

And how I admire those that do. To be young and idealistic. Storming the barricades, taking it to the streets. Yes I know I still could, and the fire is still there though it may be only embers on a cold night. But I also have responsibilities. To my wife, to my family. Unfortunately storming the barricades doesn’t pay well these days (and yes, it never has, monetarily). But perhaps that is the way the system was set up, so the more “responsibilities” you have, the less you are able to protest against the state.

But I want back in, even if I have to sit in the gallery and the only sound you hear from me is a light applause.

This is a start.