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Saturday, September 21, 2019

No Fate But What We Tweet


John Connor: We're not gonna make it, are we? People, I mean.
The Terminator: It's in your nature to destroy yourselves.
John Connor: Yeah. Major drag, huh?
  -- Terminator: Judgement Day, TriStar Pictures, 1991


I took a few days off.

Watching the world go to hell is damned depressing sometimes.

I mean, you can see it. You can actually see it happening.

Bit by bit, inch by inch: the long slow slide into authoritarianism.

Picking up speed as we rush faster and faster towards fascism and oppression and war.

Disaster and ruin waiting at the bottom like shit-smeared punji sticks waiting to impale us.

Every morning you get up and you can see it rushing towards us and you think, goddammit, just stop.

Just … stop.

Change course.

Right? I mean, you can see it. And if you can see it, like an iceberg looming massive and deadly on the horizon, then you could at least try to steer around it.

But instead, every day, flank speed! Full steam! Straight ahead! Aim for that son of bitch!

I am daily reminded of Governor Nix  from the movie Tomorrowland:

The probability of wide-spread annihilation kept going up. The only way to stop it was to show it. To scare people straight. Because, what reasonable human being wouldn't be galvanized by the potential destruction of everything they've ever known or loved? To save civilization, I would show its collapse. But, how do you think this vision was received? How do you think people responded to the prospect of imminent doom? They gobbled it up like a chocolate ├ęclair! They didn't fear their demise, they re-packaged it so it could be enjoyed as video-games! As TV shows! Books! Movies! The entire world wholeheartedly embraced the apocalypse and sprinted towards it with gleeful abandon. Meanwhile, your Earth was crumbling all around you. You've got simultaneous epidemics of obesity and starvation. Explain that one! Bees and butterflies start to disappear, the glaciers melt, algae blooms. All around you the coal mine canaries are dropping dead and you. Won't. Take. The. Hint! In every moment there is the possibility of a better future, but you people won't believe it. And because you won't believe it you won't do what is necessary to make it a reality. So, you dwell on this terrible future. You resign yourselves to it for one reason: because that future does not ask anything of you today.

You can literally see it happening.

Those who could change this, stop it, won’t.

Those who can see the danger, they shout warning! But it’s futile. Because those alarms fall on deaf ears.

Meanwhile, the rest of the world gleefully shovels more fuel on to the fire, deliberately making things worse, deliberately stoking fear, inflaming hate, pushing for conflict and destruction. Why? Because it’s profitable. Or because they think it’s funny and that they will never have to suffer the consequences. Or just because they’re obsessed with some silly, irrelevant thing and can’t break out of that loop long enough to see it all going to hell.

Every day, you can see the critical go/no-go points, the places where we could avoid  this fate, where we could divert onto another, better path -- but every time we choose the worst possible course. Every time.

As I said, it’s damned depressing sometimes.

And so I periodically look for reminders that not everything is terrible.

I try remind my audience of that. But such is the state of the world that even pictures of beauty draw hate and insanity and endless conspiracy nowadays.

Of course, this isn’t new.

Humans are the their own worst enemies. Sometimes I wonder how the species has survived this long.

Sometimes, for your own mental health, you need a break.

So I took one.

Turned off the internet. Locked the office. Didn’t bother to give notice. Walked away whistling.

I did. I turned it all off and went outside. Went to do some things that I enjoy for a change, while I still can.

Four days later, I looked back in.

I should have stayed on vacation.

Because nothing has changed.

Nothing.

Now, of course, I didn’t actually expect it to. But still, here we are again: Oh look, The president of the United States committed another crime, another abuse of power, another perversion of the Office.

This isn’t in doubt. Here he is, this very morning, right now, admitting it for all to see:

Meanwhile Congress … tweets.

We are literally looking at yet another impeachable offense.

The President of the United States of America is literally asking foreign nations to attack his political rivals. He isn’t just hoping a foreign power interferes in our elections, he is again openly soliciting it just as he did in the last election.

He’s not trying to hide it, he’s tweeting about it in the open.

And this is what? How many similar or worse offenses has he committed while in office?

We careen towards disaster, screaming like lunatics, and those with the power to change our course do … nothing.

Continue to do nothing.

Tweet. That’s it.

And the truly astounding part to me is this belief among a significant fraction of the population that congress does nothing because despite all evidence to the contrary there’s some secret plan, some “long game” that our elected representatives must be playing.

Every day I am confronted by this bizarre idea that if we can just hold out another year, why, the very same people who did nothing the last time will somehow, in some way, do something the next time. Defeat Trump at the ballot box, I guess, and in such staggering numbers that this time the Electoral Collage won’t just keep us right on the same course to disaster anyway.

The very same people who daily shout at me about how their vote doesn’t count, about gerrymandering and disenfranchisement, about lousy voter turn out, about rigged election machines, about Russian interference in our elections, about how democracy has failed, those very same people are now telling me, well, you know, we should wait for the elections because, yeah, um, there’s a secret plan, bro, sure. A unicorn will appear at the last second and save us! I mean, I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the idea that we worked to elect a House that would do something, that would confront Trump, that would put Trump in check, that would act on the Mueller Report, that would investigate this president and hold him to account in the name of the people, only to say, well, you know, ha ha, let’s not be hasty. Let’s wait. Another year. It’ll be fine. You’ll see.

And that’s the thing, you know.

In the movie Tomorrowland, that paragraph I quoted up above, Nix had the power to change things but he’d grown bitter and disillusioned with the human race and had finally decided to leave them to their fate – because over and over he watched the world brought to the edge of disaster by those who daily could have chosen a different path and just never did.

They just never did.

And that’s the thing. That’s it, right there.

That bitterness.

That disillusionment.

It made Nix the bad guy in a movie about hope, but he wasn’t necessarily wrong to give up – just human.

Ask yourself this: what happens when those who fought so damned hard last time, who showed up and did the grunt work of democracy because they were promised if they did, then those they put in power would then take action, would change our fate, and yet, here we are?

Every day that goes by without checks and balances, every day that goes past without action from those who have the power to stop this, Trump grows bolder.

The racists, the misogynists, the religious fanatics and the Klan and the Confederates and those haters daily encouraged and applauded by Trump grow ever bolder.

The authoritarians, the fascists, those who lust after power and who who would put jackboots on the throat of liberty, our liberty, here and abroad, enabled and befriended by Trump, grow ever bolder.

Those who would despoil the planet, who would pollute the water we drink and the very air we breathe, who would fill the warming oceans with plastic and garbage while the rainforests burn, who would rape and pillage our children’s future, those rapacious sons of bitches grow ever bolder.

The fools and the fops and the ignorant fringe who rise to power on Trump’s coattails, they grow ever bolder.

The wealthy, the greedy and the selfish, who profit from Trump grow ever bolder.

Every day we rush faster and faster towards disaster, you can see it coming.

And the House … tweets.

And so, tell me, why should anybody show up this time?

Why should those who put their faith in me when I told them they could make a difference show up?

Why should those who believed in the Republic, in democracy, the power of the people, show up again?

Why should those who trusted the promises of the politicians who said they would do something, and have not, show up?

Why? Why should those people show up yet again?

In every moment there exists the possibility of a better future, but we won’t take the actions necessary to make that better future a reality.

It’s not that we can’t. We just won’t. And we resign ourselves to the worst present, the worst possible future.

And we do it because that future does not ask anything of us today.

And that – that right there – that cowardice, that’s the whole goddamned point.

You want a better future?

Do you?

Well, then that better future asks everything of us.

That better future demands blood and sweat and risk.

That better future demands that we put the things that matter most to us on the line.

That  better future asks that we show up yet again, and again, and again, and as many times as is necessary.

I don’t give a goddamn about some shitty politician’s reelection prospects.

I don’t give a goddamn about some political party.

I care about the nation.

I care about the future.

I care about the world we’re leaving to our children. My children. Your children.

I don’t owe any politician anything. I don’t owe any political party or any political ideology anything.  And neither do you, Citizen.

And if that better future means the politicians who demanded our trust, our support, our future are unable or unwilling to choose that better path, unwilling to risk their own safety or their careers or their political party, to save that future, then to hell with them.

To hell with them.

It’s long past time to take back our fate from those who are determined to drive us to ruin for their profit and from those who are too fucking cowardly to stop them.

It’s long past time to hold our leaders to account. Throw them out, drag them from office if need be and run them them out of town on a rail.

THAT’S why you should show up.

That right there.

Because if you don’t, then you are complicit.

If you want a better nation, a better future, a better fate, then you have to start being better citizens.


The whole thing goes: The future's not set. There's no fate but what we make for ourselves.
-- John Connor, Terminator: Judgement Day, 1991

77 comments:

  1. We keep waiting for proof. We keep waiting for a savior. :(

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    1. Jesus said, "If your leaders say to you, 'Look, the (Father's) kingdom is in the sky,' then the birds of the sky will precede you. If they say to you, 'It is in the sea,' then the fish will precede you. Rather, the (Father's) kingdom is within you and it is outside you. – Gospel of Thomas, apocryphal

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    2. I see your point, and I agree with it...but in rebuttal, let me say..

      YOU are the saviors.

      Not Robert Mueller. Not Nancy Pelosi. Not Charles Schumer. Not the media. YOU ARE. You and every citizen of this country.

      So...step up or step aside.

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    3. The thing is, you don't need a savior. Hell, a savior is a bad thing because they become a solo target. Instead you need progress, groups of people who are imperfect but move the country in the correct direction, away from the authoritarianism that currently it is trending towards.

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    4. I believe the Jews were waiting for a savior. It's been a shitty couple of thousand years, eh?

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    5. "Your faith has blinded you. There can be no 'chosen one'. Only we can save ourselves."

      — Illidan Stormrage, World of Warcraft

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    6. We, I do mean WE, All of us, want someone else to stand up and do the heavy work. We really don't consider it "our jobs" to place others on notice that this slide toward destruction should be stopped. I'm far from a "made for TV Orator", it takes time to form the thoughts, to express them as I wish, and I tend to want others to carry that torch for me. But it is my job within the context of my world, student, dad, brother, child, worker, citizen. If the DNC or GOP won't take the lead in Washington, then who? If our Leaders decide we need "consensus" before action, then I guess it's our turn to provide the impetus for the urgency of impeachment. Before its too late.

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    7. We, all of us around the world, not just the US, need to stop waiting for the hero and be the hero. All that means is saying No, and standing up for what we need and love. You don't have to have superpowers to be a hero, just courage and belief in yourself and that you can make the change.

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    8. I was speaking as the general populace. Not as myself. Most of the people I know do not think the climate crisis is real and if it is, then the government will do something as they know more than we do about things. This is what I hear so yes, I do believe most people are just waiting for someone to save them if it is even needed.

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    9. "People in the US say they don't 'believe' in climate change. In Sweden, we say 'the science tells us...' So, it is not a matter of belief or disbelief. Climate change is a FACT!" - Greta Thunberg on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

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  2. Please continue writing, fighting, inspiring! I know the b*st*rds got to you this week, and I am not surprised that you locked the office door. Your voice is needed. Thank you for what you do! Glad to see this today!

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  3. Thank you again Jim for stating to eloquently what is my heart. I want to fight, although being old and disabled does limit my ability to march by torchlight with my pitchfork. I want to stand on the green and tell people to look around them. I want to slap the taste from mango mussolini's mouth.

    But most days now I feel the creeping calm of nihilism. Let it burn. I will be over here with a good book and a glass of wine. My pantry is full, I have supplies. I live in a remote, piss ant town. I should be fine...until the nukes start flying.

    Still, I try.

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  4. It's disheartening enough to fight an endless battle when the enemy cheats, lies, plays dirty, and is allowed to get away with it.

    It's far more so when your own team betrays you.

    I mean, you EXPECT the opposition to - well, to oppose you. That's who they are and what they do. But when the people who should have your back, the people who've made a living (and a damn fine one, sometimes) claiming to be on your side, when those people say, "Show up for me and I'll show up for you. Elect me as your Champion and I'll fix this - I'll rout the opposition and things will be better again," when those people betray you?

    When you believe in a "blue wave" or whatever other metaphor worked to keep you going, and you sweat and bleed and fight and you make it happen, and then your Champions sit on their asses and collect their paychecks and do nothing?

    That can be crippling.

    But you keep fighting because that's who you are. You keep fighting because even if it's all going to hell, if that slide into destruction is inevitable, if the only thing you can control is how YOU behave, well - that's preferable to falling in line with the masses who think freedom is a cheap price to pay for their bread and circuses.

    Humans as a whole seem bent on destroying ourselves, and we're toxic and shitty enough to push a whole lot of other species ahead of us on the path to extinction.

    At least we'll have some damn fine pictures of hummingbirds, so when we've wiped them out we can show our children what they used to look like.

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    1. Rachel: Do you like our owl?
      Deckard: Fake?
      Rachel: Of course it is

      Bladerunner, 1982

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    2. Very thoughtful rejoinder. You have said much of what I'm feeling. I don't even have hopes for this new impeachment proceeding. Nobody really wants to upset their own status quo. "The devil you know" seems easier to deal with.
      But my mantra (at 71 years old) is NEVER GIVE UP! I will show up, I will vote. I may even be able to help transport people to polls.

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  5. I sure did need this. And for someone who expresses things poorly, I like a mute, have my card now. To hold up and let the people in front of me read. You expressed for us all what everyone should face. Thank you. No really, thank you.

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  6. Replies
    1. I was thinking the same thing. At least someone is doing something. I am just finding it harder and harder to hope that it's enough.

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  7. Thank you for continuing to make your voice heard.
    Like you, I find it easier sometimes to "lock the office."
    I have a loving wife, nice property and a productive garden. I often feel so frustrated by voters and politicians that I just want to turn inward. How bad can things get for me before I die if I just focus on growing fruit and vegetables? It seems easy for me to think that no one is doing anything, so why should I?
    I appreciate your encouragement. Let's hope something gives at some point.

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  8. Jim, I get overwhelmed with what is going on, and not going on. The indifference is maddening. Your photography is outstanding, yet some fools and idiots want to make it political. Walking away for a while is a good thing to do, even in a nation gone crazy. Take care Jim.
    Paul F sams

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  9. Brilliant as always, Jim. It articulates everything I've been feeling ever since the Dems took back the House *due to our hard work* and proceeded to do exactly nothing. Mind you, I will continue to show up at the polls and will continue to vote against every Republican on the ballot, because they cannot be allowed to remain in power for even one second longer... but goddamn, it's hard to do when faced with such moral cowardice. The only other option is to just give up, and that's NOT an option for me.

    BTW, small correction: the title of the movie is "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." You let a rogue "E" sneak in there. ;-)

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    1. In my judgement, grammar Nazis are assholes.

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    2. Not a matter of grammar. A matter of the accurate spelling of the title. Jim doesn't mind corrections when necessary. I'm sorry that you're offended.

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  10. You are correct, of course, but I'm going to show up and work for a candidate, help at the polls and vote, just as I have done for the last 65 years. I'm too old to stop doing my duty as an American citizen, and I will continue to vote so long as I breathe.

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  11. My heart breaks with the reality presented here - and the fear that we, the citizens, may not be willing to put in the work to save the future of our children. Thank you for stating what is happening and what we must do. I so hope we rise up.

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  12. Sadly, this toxicity you describe so well has made things so ugly that no lessons are learned anymore. The debacle the Democrats created with their clown car version of a presidential primary in 2016 has gotten even worse this time around. This candidate is too old; that one is too young. This candidate proposes unconstitutionally adding taxes and breaking up successful companies. That candidate says housing is a right and wants to spend billions giving them away. Several say healthcare is also a right but then propose unworkable solutions etc. The bottom line is this "nobody is good enough" attitude will very likely leave a fragmented party that could easily find a way to lose the presidency to a severely flawed narcissist with dementia... again.

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    1. One of my friends asked me if I watched the "debates" and I told him that, were they actual debates rather than dog and pony shows to make the network more money, I might watch. As that is not the case, they are not worth my time - I have better things to do.
      When the the field is reduced, I'll spend time reading their policy ideas in detail and make a decision about which one to support. The "Reality TVization" of the political process has turned it into a giant cesspool of ignorance, spite, and naked greed (but that's the form, isn't it?) - not really the best condition for a healthy democracy.

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    2. Might I offer Pete Buttigieg as one to check out? His policies aren't too bad overall, but more importantly, he has the temperament and thoughtfulness a job as serious as the Presidency requires, and he listens, actually listens, to people - part of where the Dems have not done so well is in soothing people's fears, however founded or unfounded, that their particular concerns will be addressed in a satisfactory manner. Just the act of listening alone helps people to feel some sort of connection and makes it less likely they'll give in to those fears. Buttigieg even pointed out on the most recent debate that the reality show mentality is what's turned off so many people from politics and government in general.

      I really feel he is the one candidate best poised to be an example of the new, healthier leadership we will need for the long recovery ahead.

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  13. You are a voice in the darkness to me. Thank you

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  14. we keep hoping the other person will jump in front of the train so we won't have to. :(

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  15. One of the other obstacles we face is the sheer size of our country. In Hong Kong, if a hundred thousand people get out to protest, they're doing it together simply because of their geography. When a hundred thousand of us protest, we're scattered all over the continent, a handful here and a handful there. Most of us can't afford to fly or drive several thousand miles so that our voices can be heard together, so we end up not only diluted, but appearing small enough that we can be ignored. It's going to take something incredibly blatant, like trying to abolish congress or the courts, to get us all out in the streets at once.

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  16. Just . . . thank you.

    PrairieRose

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  17. Today I am going to write to my Congresswoman, who flipped a red seat in 2018, who I like, who I worked for and contributed to, and tell her that if she doesn't push for impeachment NOW, I will work and contribute to whoever may challenge her in a primary next year. Tea Party tactics.

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  18. As I become more involved in my community I have less time for social media. Your writings keep me motivated.

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  19. Thank you, Jim. Once again screaming into the wilderness. I have little "hope" left. But, I'll be dead (I hope) before the worst occurs. I have no kids. Still. I show up and try. Everyday. I haven't given up. YET.

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  20. It feels like too many people think we're living in a cheesy action movie, where the 'good guys' will pull off some miraculous last-second save. That crap makes for stupid movies, but it's insane and deadly in real life. My kids, and people their age, give me some hope. They are fed up and see what we are doing to ourselves. I just hope there's enough time for them to change things.

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  21. Well done, Jim, and good to have you back. (And regarding "pictures of beauty" - pleased to have your back.)

    I'm forwarding this link (with accreditation) to Nancy Pelosi, in the hope that it may help to rouse her from her perplexing, stubborn paralysis. Not that I have any faith, misguided or otherwise, that she'll read it, but inaction and acquiescence are not options.

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  22. Thank you, Jim, for the reminder that if we want something, we have to DO something about it...maybe a whole lot of somethings...over and over again until the ship rights itself.

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  23. Always waiting for a savior, whether it be the ever so smart aliens, the people from the center of the hollow earth, some super hero, Nancy Polosi, Mueller, who and what ever, while every day they miss the only hero they have, the one that looks at them while they brush their teeth.

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  24. I always wondered what would happen if the government took absolute control and made unilateral unlawful decisions without due process, while rendering the rest of us virtually helpless to do anything about it. Many of those actions appear to be unfolding before our eyes with this "President" and his administration. I pray we'll all have the opportunity to vote in 2020 and that it will matter if we do. Thank you for writing that post.

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  25. It may come down to the "forcibly dragging from office" solution is starting to look like a real and necessary option. We, the collective we, did the same thing about 244 years ago. Let's call it a hard restart!

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  26. I want more dog pics and stories and I miss the Alaska stuff and, and... I'm tired. I like the photography. It's the bright spot in my day and you are talented as hell.

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  27. If those we struggled to elect don't live up to their promises and strive to better our country VOTE them out and elect somebody else. To do anything else is to abandon all hope of changing the course we are on now; to hand the keys to the city to the autocrats, the kleptocrats, those who would dismantle 240+ years of sometimes brilliant and sometimes fumbling democracy. There is literally nothing else to do -fight to the end or throw in the towel.

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  28. Small wonder you're demoralized. Take all the time off you need. The world won't benefit from you collapsing into a gibbering lump of man meat. I've been trying to make strategic retreats from the howling mob on line. It's so toxic now that participating is masochistic. Get your rest, keep your sanity.

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  29. Sir Jim - When I'm profoundly affected by an essay such as this one, I feel like an insufferable pedant were I to point out a couple of typos, so I'm just going to say "thank you" and keep my mouth shut. :)

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  30. If we protested actually protested - filled every street in Washington DC with angry protesters and somehow sustained these protest for weeks maybe things would change. But the country is too large. How can you convince Chuck Subrubanite from Seattle to leave his job and his 2.5 kids to go an protest against what's going on?

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  31. Damn it, normally I read your essays to the end, but this time I can't because I agree with you completely and it makes me so angry the words begin to jump around the page. The worst is that I live an hour from the White House, but I'm here home sick without my own car and would need medical supplies before I could go protest. So I excuse myself today, as I'm only 1 person. Where are all the other angry Americans who want this madness to stop? I sure don't want to have to wait for them until it's too late and we become the rebels hiding underground.

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  32. My response is simple: Bernie Sanders.

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  33. Self-care is important. As they tell you in the airplane safety briefings, you need to get your own mask on first, before you can help others. Come to think of it, that's what they taught in NBC training, too.

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  34. A very well put together opinion piece. It's too bad a lot of the people on your facebook who've commented on the link didn't bother to read it, because it'd really open people's eyes as to how they can take back their power. Trump is a dictator, but those who claim that voting for him WAS a form of protest just don't understand that once they get out of their shells they'll have the power to choose a (non-violent) third path.

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  35. Eloquently and passionately said, very true. It's hard to be hopeful but the alternative is too grim for me to endure. You're on point and your writing is much appreciated Jim Wright!

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  36. Damn straight, Jim.

    And THAT'S why you should step up.

    THAT'S why you should stand up.

    THAT'S why you should run.

    What? Yes, that's right, you. Complaining about it isnt enough. Ranting about it isn't enough. If you want it done, you're going to have to stand up and do it yourself. if you see the need, if you have the ability, if you have the public base, which you do, if you have the support, which you do, then stand up and run. Get into the white house, throw that orange ape out on his ear and make the bold changes that need to get done. Declare a national emergency. Outlaw gerrymandering and voting restrictions and voting obstacles. Declare war on climate change, mobilize the National Guard if you have to. Clean house.

    What? Pelosi ain't going to. You know that. If you want it done, you need to put your boots on and get in there yourself. Writing on Facebook ain't doing Jack.

    Don't give me any of that crap about how you're not refined enough, you swear too much. Dammit, the world is sick to death of the Clintons and Kennedys and moneyed power with their slick imagery, fake smiles, manicured hair and secret backroom deals. We WANT someone salty, someone who calls out bullshit, someone with a hard core of ethics and integrity, someone who says what he thinks, and stands by what he says and does.

    Get in there, man

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  37. Jim, you are such a wonderful writer, and a clear voice of reason. You take your sanity breaks, keep feeding your heart and soul, then come back to us and be your articulate no-nonsense self.

    I will keep trying to keep my blue voice above water in the sea of red that is my state.

    There are threads of hope - we got a Red congressperson out by a mere 694 votes. It took all of us being loud and persistent, but...things got quiet after that, and the new body hasn't done all we hoped. It's hard to understand all the machinations that happen that we never get to hear about, but it all feels so underhanded and shady anymore that I don't know if it would make any difference.

    So, how do we run some of these folks out on a rail anyway? Is that even legal any more? =)

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  38. I enjoyed this essay and I can empathize. As I've noted before, I don't know how you do it (and I appreciate the service that you provide in wading into the shit field that is the internet). I once had a job where I saw the worst of human kind - beating loved ones, hurting kids, you name it. I used to go to the Smithsonian for my vacation just to look at all of the wonderful things that human beings have created in their time on earth. The internet is worse.

    I terminated my Twitter and Facebook accounts because they were wasteful of my time and harmful to my sanity. Full of inane, ignorant, half-baked rhetoric and a source for the ginning up up hate. All while adding to the coffers of Mark and Jack (who are already richer than Croesus). I concluded that my time was better spent engaging in the political process in a thoughtful (adult) manner, studying policy proposals, spending more "being present" time with friends and family, and making music and furniture. I am much happier. As I told a friend, I am well informed but decided that I didn't need to be "informed" every waking minute of every day.

    Thanks again for a thoughtful perspective - I hope that you will make at least a few more people "be better citizens."

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    1. I had music as my escape from the evil that men do. I still play, and sometimes that is all that keeps me sane. "When I play my tuba i am in my own little world. When I ride my motorcycle, I am out IN the world." A friend put that on a t-shirt for me.

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  39. Someone who liked your article made a comment that reflected your opinion, got trolled for not being American, and then was kicked from your group. I think you need to do a bigger house-cleaning, because you're protecting the people who insult your values. Go ahead and mock this all you want, because all it will do is prove that girl right.

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    1. No. That's not what happened at all and you know it.

      You got booted from the Stonekettle Station group for violation of the rules, i.e. you were an asshole to the other members. You said a deliberately provocative thing and then began insulting the people you provoked. Then you started abusing the reporting function in an attempt to have the very people you deliberately provoked penalized for responding. This behavior is a violation of the rules.
      The rules are clearly posted, every new member is advised to read them and I periodically remind group members to adhere. You didn't. You were removed. It's as simple as that.

      This isn't about others. I'll deal with them as appropriate. This was about you and your behavior. And your passive-aggressive comment here confirms to me that I made the correct decision.

      // Jim

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  40. How can we forward this essay to Nancy Pelosi?

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  41. And I wonder if even something "blatant" would be enough to get most of us moving in the right direction. Have we become so acclimated to this "new normal" and desensitized to each new episode of the orange ogre's flamboyant disregard for the rule of law that we'd be shocked enough to do anything? With his constant deflection and misdirection, along with our constantly being assaulted by a myriad of other serious issues, I do wonder. Most people who are working and raising families are too busy, too tired, and too stressed to devote much time or energy to anything outside their own relatively small world. And some of us who are no longer working and whose kids are adults may have the time and the interest, but at 75 years of age and in declining health, I'm rather limited in what I can do. I can still carry a torch and/or a pitchfork - just tell me where and when!

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  42. Well said.
    I’m commenting from Australia, but we have similar issues vis a vis representative democracy morphing into representative plutocracy.
    I literally weep for my children, but I don’t know what I can do when the forces arrayed against their future are so rich and powerful.

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  43. I'm glad you took time off. I am also glad that you're back, and writing the good stuff that you do. In music, there is a concept called "stagger breathing" (to define: when confronted with about 2 minutes of a sustained note, the entire section will breathe at different times, always with a very quiet entrance). The perception of the audience is one long sustained note. To the ensemble, it is the ultimate of teamwork. I view this as "stagger fighting". You fight until you're exhausted, take a break, and come back in so someone else can take a break. We ALL need to take breaks. We must defeat these defilers of government (be they a corrupt president or a power hungry senator, or a do-nothing Speaker of the House).

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  44. Well said Jim!

    To all of those who are doubting whether they should vote, never doubt, just go do it!

    Next year will be the first election I will be able to vote in. And I will, there is no question about it. I was born in the States, but lived in Germany for 15 years growing up and am now living in the Netherlands.

    I have never lived in the States in my adult life and I will still vote. Why? Because I can and I have to! If I do not, I am ignoring my responsibility as a member of the democratic world. I might not live in the States, and I probably never will, but American politics affect me even here in Europe! If Trump starts a war with Iran it will have consequences that will ripple throughout the rest of the world and yes, even to you in the United States!

    So go and vote! I will!

    I will vote in the United States Presidential Elections!

    I will vote in the German Federal and State Elections!

    I will vote in the Dutch Local Elections!

    I will vote in the European Elections!

    Why? Because I can! Because it is my right and my responsibility as a member and believer in freedom and democracy!

    If you believe in either, then you must vote, because otherwise you give up your right to said freedom and democracy!

    So go vote!

    I live in the Netherlands. I grew up in Germany. I was born in the United States and I will use that birthright!

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  45. Jim....... this is the third essay i have read this week and just like the other two from different people i have been touched deeply.at 52 most people would be settling down and living out their lives but i have been moved so deeply that changes are coming.I salute and thank you for this essay.

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  46. Politics takes time. This was my observation through eight years of Obama. Politics takes time. It's too bad that the average citizen doesn't have the attention span to handle this basic fact of life. The Republican party is wholly corrupt. If it wasn't wholly corrupt the Republican congressional leadership would have started an impeachment inquiry on January 20, 2017. Because they didn't do that, and because the citizenry did not bring life to a standstill in revolt over Trump's blatant abuses of power, we were forced to wait until 2018 when a new congress could be seated in order to get things to change. The impeachment inquiry has finally started now that Robert Mueller has said in no uncertain terms "Congress must act to remove the President." (paraphrasing) One thing is certain. Trump cannot be allowed to stand for election again. Even allowing him to stand would be to concede that the laws do not apply to him and through him the presidency. The next president will go even farther than he has unless we punish him to the fullest extent of the law, which I don't see happening. Maybe it will happen. I don't know. The country that existed before Trump is dead. I mourn its loss, but it is well and truly gone now. What comes after Trump will be something that we have to make for ourselves. Here's hoping that we are up to the task.

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  47. Spot on as usual Chief!

    The optimist in me still hopes that we can create the best of all possible worlds.

    My pessimistic side fears that perhaps we already have...

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  48. "Cowardice was undoubtedly one of the most terrible vices - thus spoke Yeshua Ha-Nozri. 'No, philosopher, I disagree with you: it is the most terrible vice!'" -- Mikhail Bulgakov

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  49. I tweeted a question to Madame Speaker yesterday. I asked what Republicans have on her. I don't expect an answer, but that's the only reason I can come up with for her refusal to act.

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  50. Thank you Jim! This is THE best summation I’ve read yet! Blunt and sad and furious and terrifying and absolutely spot on, unfortunately. We have GOT to stop the -45 crazy train! Our lives and the whole world depend on our stopping him! No matter what Moscow Mitch may or may not do in the Senate, “our” House must do its job and go on the record - so we all know *exactly* who is protecting -45 and who is representing all of US, instead of worrying about their own re-election prospects if they vote to impeach the bastard. Then we ALL have to vote like all our lives depend on it, because they DO! I’ve also shared your essay on my page with all my friends and family, hoping the like-minded ones will also share it forward. My 45-induced headache seems permanent. Thanks again Jim, for cutting through it all so eloquently, every damn day! I honestly don’t know how you do it!

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  51. When I think of my grandparents journey from Jim Crow Virginia to Iowa in the 1890's I wonder at their resilience to survive and instill those who came after with the courage, and emotional compass to navigate this "American dream machine."
    They couldn't afford to get tired and give up and neither will we.
    You give many of us hope and, dare I say, inspiration. I hope this link can return some of that life-affirming energy to you.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UuLvVd8eFyw

    It's Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement (CCIaction.org) Presidential Forum. The midwest currently seems like the problem but the seeds of solution are blooming.
    Thanks for the affirmation space.

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  52. I'm glad I didn't have time to read this till now (first day off from work), because last weekend it would have been too depressing. Today, I'm a little more hopeful. We can thank Trump for creating a much better case for his impeachment than any previous attempt. The Senate may still not convict, but the cravenness of any vote to acquit will be glaring.

    But even though the ship may be turning, the fight is far from over. The Trumpists in my family are already posting about Biden's corruption and about Rep. Schiff lying to Congress. The false narratives will fly fast and furious. We must still be our own heroes if we expect to drive the Republican despots from power. They will not go quietly, but at least the battle has been joined.

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  53. Vicki (vicki.combs@gmail.com)October 1, 2019 at 2:46 PM

    It's like you were inside my head when you wrote this. All the things I've screamed at the TV screen, at the twitter feeds, at the media coverage are contained in this blog entry. Thank you for saying them so clearly. I've got a pitchfork ready if the actions now started seem to stall out. The actions of this administration are completely unacceptable. There are dozens of charges that could be used for impeachment. Someone needs to start writing them on the White House walls for all to see. The citizens are fed up, let the impeachment begin.

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