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Thursday, January 6, 2022

Insurrection, One Year On

 

How the hell did we get here? 

It's been a year since January 6th, 2021. 


And instead of shamefacedly being a year safely away from the demise of democracy, we're still looking right at it. 

We're still looking right at it, right on the very cusp of revolution and collapse and civil war. 

It's not over. 

And what's horrifying a year later isn't that a bunch of raggedy-assed unwashed unshaven sloppy virgins in militia garb, wild-eyed drooling conspiracy nuts led by some goof wearing horns on his head and woad on his face like a Dollar Store Mel Gibson, and a veritable cornucopia of howling racists in every fruity flavor from pathetic Klansmen to sad inbred toothless Confederates to violent white nationalist Nazis, attacked the nation's capitol in an attempt to overthrow democracy and appoint Donald Trump as King of some new Empire of Blustering Capitalist Rage. 

How the hell did we get here

It's easy to blame Trump -- and there is no doubt he proudly bears a lion's share of the responsibility for what happened a year ago today. But Trump is a symptom of a much deeper sickness. Like Adolf Hitler, Trump is an conniving opportunist who didn't create the nation we now live in, he just took advantage of it. Took advantage of the hate, the bigotry, the unfocused pervasive rage of those who feel their privileged place in the universe is somehow being stolen from them by the undeserving. 

How the hell did we get here?  

How the hell did we get to a state where Americans are willing to throw away The Republic for ... Donald Trump? 

How?

This morning, Karl Rove -- yes, that Karl Rove -- penned an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, that stodgy musty wool-smelling bastion of Republican ideology, where he straight-facedly declared with all the self-awareness of a dog licking its own asshole on a public sidewalk that the GOP has a "duty to condemn the riot and those who refuse to acknowledge it." 

The GOP has a duty to condemn the insurrection. 

A duty, forsooth. 

A duty. 

The GOP. The fucking Republican Party. He's talking about duty. 

The very people who elected Trump in the first place and cheered him on. Those Republicans. 

Rove went on to say, “There can be no soft-ped­al­ing what hap­pened and no ab­so­lu­tion for those who planned, en­cour­aged and aided the at­tempt to over­throw our democ­racy. Love of coun­try de­mands noth­ing less. That’s true patriotism."

Karl Rove, talking about how there's no absolution for those who planned, encouraged, and aided in the attempt to overthrow our democracy. Karl Rove. 

Karl. Rove. 

This is typically where'd I say something like Irony jumped the tracks, careened down the embankment, smashed through a circus, plowed over a mink farm and slammed into the river, where it burst into flames, rolled over, and exploded raining down flaming weasels and burning clown shrapnel over the terrorized countryside but such is that state of our nation that I can only boggle in amazement. 

Karl Rove, goddamn

How did we get here? 

Well, guys like Karl goddamn Rove, that's how. 


But I'm getting ahead of myself. 


I used to be an intelligence officer. 

Military intelligence. That was my job for a couple of decades and change, in peace, in war. 

Mostly war, there's hasn't been a lot of peace in my lifetime. 

I was pretty good at it, or so I'm told. 

But then, I should have been good at it. Because I was trained to be good at it by men who were themselves good at it. Men I respected and admired -- well, most of them anyway. 

But we'll come back to that. 

Our job was to look beyond our own bias. Our job was to gather information, process it, and put it together into a coherent picture for those making the decisions. Most importantly: Our job wasn't to tell the chain of command what it wanted to hear, no matter how badly it wanted to hear it, but rather to tell the truth as best we were able to determine. 

Even if it pissed people off -- which was almost literally the definition of my job and rank.

Even if it meant we might incur the wrath of our leaders for it. 

Even if it meant we might personally suffer the consequences of that wrath. 

Let me give you a personal example.

For me, that moment came a few days after the start of the Iraq war in March of 2003.

I'd been there for months already, doing missions in hostile waters, managing the collection of intelligence in the Northern Arabian Gulf. Reporting what I saw of the situation up the chain of command. I know for certain some of what I and my team reported ended up on the president's desk, as part of the larger picture. It's not like the movies. It's not like TV shows. It was chaotic and dangerous work, it's tedious and frustrating and nerve-wracking and confusing and every damn day you have to fight against the limitations of not only what is possible and the fog of war, but also the inertia of human nature. 

What I mean by that is that we go into war with certain pre-conceived ideas and a lot of those are wrong. 

And it was my job, by definition, to tell those in charge when they were wrong. 

And they were, wrong, often enough. 

A few days after the war started, my Chief brought me the target list for that day's strike missions. 

And I saw a target on that list that I knew was wrong. 

We were about to launch a mission that would kill innocent people -- well, maybe not "innocent" innocent, but they were certainly not combatants. And even in a war like that, a war of revenge, where the rules defining "enemy combatant" are pretty damn vague and morality isn't something Americans much care about, they were most certainly not a legitimate military target. 

And I knew this for certain, or as certain as anything ever is in war, because a few days before I had personally led a team to that target. I'd been there. I'd inspected that target top to bottom. I'd spoken to those people. I knew who and what they were and I knew the mission to kill them was wrong. 

And so, it was my job to stop it. 

And eventually, just in time, I did. I got the strike called off. 

There were some very irate commanders. I'd maybe used some less than respectful language to get their attention, words like "war crimes." But that's what it took to get through their pre-conceived perception of the situation. There was some talk of disciplinary action against me, as a result. 

But in the end instead of an A-6 loaded with missiles, we sent in a SEAL team to assess the situation in person. 

I was right. 

And instead of getting court martialed for insubordination, after we came home a few months later I ended up getting a medal for saving the lives of 43 Iraqis. 

In the grand scheme of things, it hardly matters if we'd killed those people. No one would have cared. You'd have never known about it. It would have just been a couple more dead in a war that killed half a million people who'd never done a damn thing to us and no one would have given a shit. Least of all America.

But it mattered to me.

It mattered to me because the men who trained me made it matter to me. The good guys don't kill people they don't have to, even in war. 

Now, I'm for damn sure not telling you this to blow my own horn, because all I was doing was my job. It was my duty. It was professionalism. It was the way I was trained. The medal and the commendation that go with it are in a box with the other ones from 20 years of service, on a shelf in the back of my closet. Maybe someday after I'm gone, my kid will find it and have some idea of what his old man did. 

Maybe he'll be proud of me, I don't know. 

Like I said, it doesn't much matter at this point. And I don't know if honor and duty and steadfastness mean anything in a dishonorable war started on lies from those like Karl Rove. 

I did my job, same as everybody else over there. No more, no less. It was one minor moment in war, one of a thousand goddamn things in a war of goddamn things, and one of the few I can actually mention, even if only in vague terms. 

The point here is that I did what I did because I was trained that way. 

I was trained to do the right thing, even it it meant saving enemies that no one would ever care about. 

I did what I did because the men who trained me demanded nothing less. 

I did what I did because I believe that we are the good guys, or we're supposed to be anyway. America falls short often enough, but in the moment, well, either you stand on the moral high ground or you're buried under an avalanche of your own hypocrisy. 

We lead by example, or we don't lead. 

It's really just that simple. 

I served for a number of years after that moment, long enough to learn we'd been lied to by the President, by slimy sons of bitches like Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney and Karl Rove. 

I tried to retire. I was refused three separate times. 

But eventually they let me take off the uniform and go home and so it became someone else's job, someone else's duty, the next generation's war, the responsibility of the people I had trained.

And me? Well, I became just another old gimpy veteran. 

I did some consulting work afterwards, but by then the scope of George Bush's malfeasance had become clear and so I retired to Alaska and became a writer. I started this blog and wrote about war and politics and the coming election. Social Media as we know it now was in its infancy. Facebook, Twitter, these were new things. I signed up. 

And by and by, given the nature of social media, I reconnected to old friends, those very men I had once so admired, the ones who trained me in honor, duty, professionalism, and the skills to see the truth through chaos. 


And I was horrified


You see, a liberal black man had just been elected to office. 

I voted for him. Yes, I did. Not reluctantly, but with enthusiasm. Proudly. Obama, my God, he was young and dynamic and smart and educated and articulate and kind and compassionate and funny and all the things that made me proud to be an American. 

I'm still proud that I voted for him, twice, voted for the first black president not because he was black but because he embodied the very best of what this nation might be. 

But what does that have to do with January 6th?

How did we get here? To this moment?

That's how. 

President Barack Obama. 

Because the election of a young, dynamic, smart, educated, articulate, kind, compassionate, and funny liberal black man galvanized the foul racist mean underbelly of this country like nothing else ever had. 

Those who attacked the Capitol a year ago today. They are in almost every regard, the antithesis of Barack Obama, mean, crude, uneducated, ill spoken, filled with rage and blind ignorant loud blustering false patriotism. 

And those men I had admired? Those veterans I respected? 

Like me, they were trained to be objective. To put aside their own bias. To demand proof. To require evidence. To check and doublecheck the information. 

And they threw all of that away, all of it, when a black man took office.

They forgot everything they ever knew. 

They forgot who they had been. 

They watched Fox News all day and they lost their humanity. They lost their objectivity. Without the supporting structure of the military and the purpose it gave them and the impartiality our profession had imposed upon their worldview, they lost their very identity. 

They became, literally became, different people. 

It was horrifying. Like watching a loved one eaten alive by Alzheimers. 

They included me on increasingly insane email chains that quoted Nancy Grace, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck as fact. They sent me racist mails quoting the comedian Jeff Foxworthy as if that guy was some sort of expert on anything. They posted racist memes to their Facebook pages and said with a sly wink, it's not really racist if it's true. Heh heh. They sent me dire proclamations from the NRA how the negro in office was somehow coming to take their guns -- these were men who'd been trained in firearms by professionals, who'd served honorably in war, who laughed at a bunch of unholstered swaggering goons like the National Rifle Association and yet here they were now suddenly quoting Ted Nugent

And it got worse. 

It got so much worse. 

They joined the fucking Tea Party. They began to trade in the most insane and ridiculous of conspiracy theories. There was no lunacy too great, no rage so unhinged, that they couldn't embrace it if it came from Rush Limbaugh. And then when the next election came, these men that I had once so admired, who had served steely-eyed in war and who would have once risked it all for the truth, who had once led every day by steady example and who had been supremely contemptuous of those blustering frauds, the paper warriors, those of stolen valor and empty bravado, suddenly these same men were cheering ... Sarah Palin. 

How did we get here? 

That's how. 

America has always had more than its share of malcontents, of lunatics and violent nutters, the proudly ignorant and outright stupid, the sociopaths and the religious extremists, and while they nipped around the edges of our society, they were rightly relegated to the shadows. 

Ronald Reagan and Lee Atwater and their version of The Southern Strategy brought the howling fringe into the Republican Party. But it was a war started on lies and the election of a black man to the highest office in the nation that normalized the most unhinged and brought them front and center.

There was always going to be consequences. 

You can't spend decades building a political ideology based on hate and rage and not expect that there will be violence. 

And it's always -- always -- downhill. 

An ideology of hate and rage cannot build a better society, cannot create a better world, even for itself. It can only destroy.

Those who warp reality to fit their ideology can never ever be trusted to tell the truth, or ever see it.  

When you raise up ignorance, extremism, and violence as not only normal but something to be admired, then the most admired must perforce be the most ignorant, extreme, and violent. 

How did we get here?

How did we end up a year ago today, watching ignorant violent extremists storm the Capitol of our country shouting the name of an ignorant violent extremist, waving the very flags of violent extremism, in support of an violent extremist ideology? 

That's how. 

It has often been said that for evil to triumph, good men need do nothing. 

And that is true. 

But it's more than that. 

For evil to flourish, good men forget who they are. They forget the ideals they once swore to give their very lives for. They come to believe that they are aggrieved, that justice, liberty, and democracy are zero sums and that they have been diminished by the rising freedom of others. They come to see education and intellect as "elitism" and they begin to regard duty and the obligations of civilization itself as oppression. They raise up ignorance, hate, and especially violent rage as strengths and sneer in contempt at compassion, charity, and selflessness. 

And the saddest part of this decline is that they cannot see that those who would lead them to their own destruction, do so not for ideology or belief or even from some supposed moral high ground, but for profit

And if you're to keep the money rolling in, then you have to keep going further and further. 

And hate always has consequences. 

Always. 

When your entire ideology is based on outrage, then the only way to maintain power is to stoke the fires of hate into an inferno of bitter white hot rage.

When rage becomes the only emotion you can feel, well, that only ends one way, in violence and blood. 

And if you doubt this, you have only to look at the reaction among Republicans to President Biden's speech today on this anniversary of the insurrection. 



Those responsible, those who led the insurrection and cheered on treason, they refuse to accept responsibility.

Instead they offer up defiance. 



Outrage.

Hate.

And threats of violence. More violence. 

They have learned nothing. They are not sorry. They are not ashamed. 


And you have only to look to their leader to see that it is true. 


How did we get here? 

That's how. 

These treasonous, traitorous, seditious insurrectionists. These sons of bitches right here with their fists raised into the air cheering on hate and violent insurrection. 

That's how. 

From Limbaugh to Palin, from Carlson to Beck to Hawley, from Greene to Boebert to Gohmert, from McConnell to Gaetz, and most especially to Trump, that's how we got here. 

But that's also how we stop it before this cancer kills us. 

Like cancer, we cut it out. 

We bring these bastards to justice. We hold them to account for their words and their actions and their endless treason. We drop the hammer on fascism so goddamn hard that these miserable fucks and their craven shitty stormtroopers never dare show their faces again. 

Biden came out swinging this morning and put the blame for this insurrection squarely on those responsible and it's about goddamned time. 

He should have done that a year ago. 

There is no compromise with those who would murder us for their own profit. 

If Merrick Garland can't step up now and do what is necessary to defend democracy and the Republic, he needs to be fired with alacrity and we need to find us someone who isn't afraid do what needs be done. 

This is the moment, right here, right now. 

This is the moment where history turns on a single sharp pivot and the very fate of civilization hangs in the balance.

And rarely -- if ever -- is that moment so clear while it's happening as it is right now. THIS is history, this moment right here, and what we do in this moment is how history will remember us.

A century ago, Germany could not stop its slide to destruction and those people, the craven cowards and the innocent and the monsters alike, had to ride the horror all the way down. 

But we have their terrible example before us and we don't have to suffer the same fate. 

We can stop it. 

We can restore democracy and save The Republic. 

But the time for half measures is long, long past. It is time now for bold action. This is our nation. This is our democracy. It's worth fighting for and it's time we take it back from these miserable sons of bitches and send them back to the fringe where their rotten ideology belongs. 

As much as it pains me to say it, Karl Rove is right. 

Those Republicans who still believe in democracy and their duty to The Republic, if there are indeed any such left, have a duty to condemn the riot and those who refuse to acknowledge it.

There can be no soft-ped­al­ing what hap­pened and no ab­so­lu­tion for those who planned, en­cour­aged and aided the at­tempt to over­throw our democ­racy. 

Love of coun­try de­mands noth­ing less. 

That is true patriotism.

A year on, the question isn't: How did we get here? 

It's how we get out of here. 

This is the moment. Get after it. 






 


Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Recap: January 4, 2022

 


It'll be interesting to see what he has to say.
-- Mitch McConnell, January 4, 2022


Interesting. 

That's a word Mitch McConnell uses a lot. Interesting.

That's what he said when asked if it was moral or even wise for Trump to make a public statement in two days on the anniversary of the January 6th Insurrection. 

Interesting. 

Last month, shortly after former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows turned over thousands of pages of emails, texts, and various other materials to the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th, 2021 attempt by Republicans to overthrow democracy, McConnell said, "I think the fact finding is interesting. We’re all going to be watching it." 

The fact finding will be ... interesting. 

Interesting. There's the understatement of the new century. 

"We’re all watching, as you are, what is unfolding on the House side," McConnell said. "It will be interesting to reveal all the participants who were involved."

All the participants involved. 

Interesting, those participants. Yes. Interesting indeed. 

Like Ohio Republican Jim Jordan whose name appears prominently in Mark Meadows' data dump -- specifically a text he sent in the middle of the insurrection to Meadows, outlining how how Vice President Mike Pence could literally subvert the election and just have Trump declared President.

Interesting like that?

Or maybe retired Army Colonel Phil Waldron who is one of the self-admitted, proudly self-admitted, architects of a Power Point presentation that also appeared among the documents given to the committee by Meadows -- before Meadows was apparently reminded by his lawyers about the wisdom of self-incrimination. 

That document literally outlined a coup. 

That's not hyperbole. 

They literally planned a coup, a plot by members of the Trump administration and its allies to literally overthrow the election and appoint Trump president by force. According to the plan cooked up by Waldron and his treasonous cronies, Trump would declare a national emergency on the grounds of some vague nebulous foreign threat that had allegedly taken control of the voting machines. Then they would halt certification of the election. The Trump Administration would then literally seize the voting system, the machines, the ballots, all of it -- despite there being no legal or constitutional authority to do so -- and then throw out those votes they themselves determined were "invalid." The Power Point presentation literally said they would throw out enough opposing votes to ensure Trump stayed in the White House. And the coup literally depended on the military enforcing this process by threat of martial law against the American population. 

They literally planned this. 

They literally briefed it. 

They literally wrote it down and gave it to Mark Meadows.  

Trump literally stood in front of the TV and watched his own supporters smash their way into the Capitol and cheered them on. 

And the only thing that stopped Republicans from declaring an end to the Republic and the founding of the Trump Empire is that they could not guarantee the military would actually go along with the plot. Or at least not enough of it anyway. 

They literally briefed this to Trump, to his staff, to his allies. 

They made Power Point slides. 

They put it in writing. 

And the only thing that stopped them was their cowardice. 

This isn't hyperbole or exaggeration -- if anything, I'm understating it.


Mitch McConnell calls that ... "interesting." 


McConnell was a bit less ambiguous about things a year ago:

"I want to say to the American people the United States Senate will not be intimidated. We will not be kept out of this chamber by thugs, mobs or threats. We will not bow to lawlessness or intimidation. We are back at our posts. We will discharge our duty under the Constitution and for our nation. And we're going to do it tonight."

"This afternoon, Congress began the process of honoring the will of the American people and counting the Electoral College votes. We have fulfilled the solemn duty every four years for more than two centuries. Whether our nation has been at war or at peace, under all manner of threats, even during an ongoing armed rebellion and the Civil War, the clockwork of our democracy has carried on."

"The United States and the United States Congress have faced down much greater threats than the unhinged crowd we saw today. We've never been deterred before, and we will not be deterred today. They tried to disrupt our democracy. They failed. They failed. They failed to attempt to obstruct the Congress."

"This failed insurrection only underscores how crucial the task before us is for our republic. Our nation was founded precisely so that the free choice of the American people is what shapes our self-government and determines the destiny of our nation – not fear, not force, but the peaceful expression of the popular will."

"Now, we assembled this afternoon to count our citizens' votes and to formalize their choice of the next president. Now we're going to finish exactly what we started. We'll complete the process the right way by the book. We'll follow our precedents, our laws and our Constitution to the letter. And we will certify the winner of the 2020 presidential election. Criminal behavior will never dominate the United States Congress. This institution is resilient. Our democratic republic is strong."

"The American people deserve nothing less."

And ain't that interesting? 

Yes, indeed, interesting how Mitch McConnell himself called those who stormed the Capitol on January 6th, 2021, thugs, a mob, a threat, unhinged, and an INSURRECTION. 

He specifically and unequivocally described those Trump supporters who attacked the Capitol as an "insurrection." 

Insurrection.

Those are Mitch McConnell's own words.

It's also "interesting" how Mitch McConnell declares that Congress serves the will of the people and that the American people deserve nothing less, but today, right now, this very minute he stands -- as he always does -- firmly against voting rights for those self-same deserving Americans. 

Yes, interesting how Republicans from Trump to McConnell to cashiered generals and faithless colonels right on down to the howling MAGA hat wearing rabble in the streets, these thugs, these unhinged militia brawlers, these goddamn insurrectionists, declare their love for democracy and The Republic and yet literally planned to overthrow those very institutions. 

And they know it.

They damn well know they are insurrectionists and the foul stinking distillate of sedition and treason. 

They know it. Yes they do. They know who they are and they know what they did. 

Every single one of these cowardly assholes, every one that has so far been caught and charged and put on trial, every damn one of them without fail has folded in court. Every single one of them admitted they were there for Trump. Every one of them admitted they were fools who got played by Trump, by Fox News, by social media, by the Republican Party. 

Every last one of them has ended up in tears, sobbing their apologies, and begging the court for mercy. 

Anna Morgan-Lloyd, insurrectionist from Indiana is a perfect example. 

She was jubilant on the day. You bet. She posted to social media that it was "the best day ever!"

But she was eventually arrested, and in court she broke down sobbing on the stand and said she was "ashamed that something meant to show support for the President had turned violent." 

Ashamed. That's what she said she was when she was facing sentencing. Contrite. Ashamed.

And, then, the very next day, after she'd convinced the judge she was truly sorry and gotten herself probation instead of prison, she went on Fox News, on the Laura Ingraham show, and denied it all. It wasn't violent, she said, it was polite, friendly, it wasn't an insurrection, oh no. Just like Alex Jones, in court, facing accountability for their miserable actions, these assholes are contrite and sorry and they didn't mean it. But once they manage to avoid any real consequences for their actions, well, then they're suddenly freedom fighters for Jesus again. 

It's all a lie. 

These people are liars. They are violent miserable goons who will cheerfully murder the rest of us and overthrow democracy and call it the "best day ever" just exactly the same way it happened in Germany a hundred years ago. Those Nazi sons of bitches thought they were right and righteous too. 

I watched an interview today with Trump supporters who weren't at the Insurrection. 

To a person, they know what they are seeing is exactly that, insurrection. Violent sedition. Treason. A bunch of goddamned goons trying to burn down democracy. They know it. 

Oh yes they do. 

They do. 

Because every single one of them suddenly disowns it. 

They are convinced, one and all, that rioters weren't really Trump supporters, weren't really Republicans, no they must have been part of some false flag by some nefarious shadowy unknown mysterious possibly foreign FBI Clinton BLMs something something gazpacho Antifas but they were certainly not Trump supporters. 

Despite the fact that every single one of the insurrectionists declared they were Trump supporters and they were, in fact, there in support of Donald Trump. 

Despite the fact that every single one of the insurrectionists has a long and verifiable record of Trump support. 

Despite the fact that Trump HIMSELF identified them as his own supporters. 

Despite the fact that Republicans themselves identified these people as Trump supporters. 

Despite incontrovertible and undeniable proof that the insurrectionists were there in support of Donald Trump and that they fully intended to overthrow the government as they described in their own words, despite the fact that there is literally a Power Point presentation created by Trump's own people, despite the absolute angry certainty of Mitch McConnell himself on that very day, despite it all, a year later Trump and his supporters are trying to convince us that it wasn't them. 


That's not "interesting," that's fucking outrageous. 


These bastards must be held to account. Every last one of them. 

They must be brought to justice. No matter how long it takes. 

Trump must be held accountable. 

These people demand that we Americans all swear allegiance to the flag and the nation for which it stands. They demand that we all take that oath with our hands over our hearts. Well, then they must face real consequences for their betrayal of that pledge and the ideals it embodies. 

No more. No less. 

And the best way to do that right now, is to pass the voting rights act, the For The People Act, by whatever legal means necessary. Nuke the filibuster. Steamroll Republican opposition. Put recalcitrant members of Democratic caucus in a financial and political headlock. Pass the legislation and impose it upon the states by force of the Federal Government if necessary. 

We must guarantee full and unrestricted democracy for all Americans. 

And these treasonous sons of bitches must not be allowed to steal The Republic. Their miserable dreams of some Imperial America with an orange Nero at the helm must be crushed forever. 

And make no mistake that is exactly what they intend to do. They're not even trying to hide it. 

We must not go the way of Rome. 

Or Germany of a century ago.

Pass the voting rights act and bring these bastards to justice. 

In the words of Mitch McConnell, the American people deserve nothing less. 








Thursday, December 30, 2021

New Book! New Book!

 


I have a new story out.

It's in the latest anthology from B Cubed Press.


It's called The Miracle Man and is set in the same universe as my previous story, The Deserter. Both installments share a character -- though in-universe the tales are separated by several decades -- and it seems I am now writing stories set in this universe because I'm sitting here looking at least a few more in various stages of draft. Eventually, they may become a stand alone novel or anthology. 

What's it about? This new story? This world?

God. Death. Miracles. War. Robots. You know, the usual stuff. 

The genesis for this new story and the previous one, is Clarke's Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. 

Clarke formulated that idea when writing 2001: A Space Odyssey and it describes a lot of the third act in that work. Clarke was describing aliens that had advanced to the point where their technology could not be understood by human science. Science could not even see how it was possible to get from here to there. From our perspective, the alien civilization detailed in 2001 was, for all intents and purposes, magic.

There's an obvious corollary, thus: Any sufficiently advanced being is indistinguishable from God. 

It's a simple idea, but it's impossible for the current state of human intellect to visualize such a being. 

Which is why the gods of human religion often end up described as petulant, petty, vindictive children instead a vast all-knowing all-powerful consciousness capable of creating worlds. 

Not that any vast all-knowing intellect capable of creating worlds is likely to give much of a damn about us.

I mean, would you really want to meet such a being? 

If that being, that vast intellect a million years beyond human understanding isn't God, well, it might just well be. And when the unstoppable agents of that intelligence walk the Earth, when they part the seas and raise up mountains and level cities and do what they do without regard for human concerns, well, if they are not angels, if that's not magic, there is be no practical difference to those caught in the maelstrom.  

Now, imagine if you will, a conman, who sells salvation on the installment plan in that world, the one where Rapture has come and creatures more terrible than any in the Old Testament walk the earth for real, until one day when he meets his god face to face. 

Also, robots. 

And that, right there, is the background of The Miracle Man.

I think it might be the best thing I've written. 

Maybe you will too. 

But if you don't care for my story, well, there are 25 other ones by some really fantastic writers that you might enjoy instead. 

The new anthology is called Alternative Deathiness.


From the press release by Editor Bob Brown: 

I’m coming for you is a bad movie line. For Death it is a promise. We tend to like to avoid the concept of death, but it keeps finding us. So we put together a book.

But what to call it.

We were sick of death coming in and taking friends and family, giving no regard for us except to leer from the darkness. The answer came, in a callout to Steven Colbert: we opted for Deathiness.

Death didn’t like that.

I believe it was her fault that I found myself being carried out of the house with a couple of pulmonary embolisms and realizing that most people who were in my condition met the grim reaper.

So I resolved to change my life, be a nicer person, give up cheese products and…

Nah, I decided to invite the B Cubed family on board to talk about it and maybe have a laugh at Death’s expense.

So Death, be warned:

We’re Coming for You!

And we're doing it with these great stories:

In "The Bodies We Carry" K.G. Anderson, one of the great up and comers writing about how to make death more real.

In "The Miracle Man" Jim Wright gives another chilling look into the world he created for the Best Selling Alternative Apocalypse.

In "Instructions for My Executors" Clare Marsh treats us with a poetic look at death and what the family should do.

In "Rule 49" (perhaps my favorite) has Maureen McGuirk looking at death as a real entity and shows us their many faces.

In "Spoons," Jay Wilburn dips into a well of thought and sensitivity as he makes death into a gentle journey that is not taken alone.

And "Gallows Humor?" Michael Mansaray takes a unique look at the inevitability of death that must be read to appreciate.

"For What is a Man" is David Foster's quest for an answer to the question with no real unswer.

"Mudpaws and the Tall Thing" Frances Rowat is a touching story reminiscent of the work Mike Resnick that sees the worlds end from the perspective of a lovely dog.

"A Comedian’s Valediction Forbidding Mourning" is the wonderful Larry Lefkowitz's reminder to laugh.

"The Thing Underneath" is a wee bit of horror by James Van Pelt.

"Have You Ever Been Experienced?" is an old theme made fresh by Paula Hammond, as she shows the power of being addicted to death.

"Death’s Scout" is Mark O. Decker thoughtful poem that I'll let you read rather than read about. It's that good.

"Papercut" by Larry Hinkle will make you throw this book out the window in disgust and horror, only to stop the car and retrieve the book to read it again.

"Death's Doorway" is Diana Hauer's incredible story of those who walk beside us through that final gate.

"Missing" by Robin Pond is that story that makes you want to read a hundred more just like it.

In "Final Questions," Chris Kuriata, adds to the duties of death to in this thoughtful look at unanswered questions of the dead.

"The Borrower" by Katie Sakanai speaks to the value of the human spirit across space and time.

"Three O’Clock" is Lamont Turner's nicely done story on making the best out of a bad situation.

"To Do Right", by Cory Swanson, shows us a better way to die. A good end to life is not to be underestimated.

"Old Forgotten Grave" by Bill Camp is a familiar but comfortable reminder that all of us will be forgotten.

"Ashes," by my dear friend Lizzy Shannon is a touching look at the end of life.

"The Devil’s Backbone," by Larry Hodges, brings his trademark humor to what happens when the Devil takes on the Good Humor man.

"Written in Stone," by Lauren Stoker.

"Death," by Robert Armstrong

"The Four Horsemen (and Women) of the Apocalypse" by Sarina Dorie

"Deathventures, Inc." by Robinne Weiss

"Rest In Virtual" by Tommy Blanchard

"Loving Death in New York" is poet Alicia Hilton's look at death on the streets of the Big Apple.

"Life Long Love" by the inspired young man, Sirrus James. Not old enough to drink, but old enough to understand love.

The print version  of Alternative Deathiness is here

And the Kindle version is here

I was supposed to be at this year's World Science Fiction Convention, WorldCon, in Washington D.C. 

B Cubed Press and Bob Brown were bringing copies of Alternative Deathiness that I -- and the other writers involved -- intended to sign for interested readers. 

Unfortunately, like Bob said up above, Death herself tends to irony. 

And in my case, I had to drop out literally at the very last moment due to a death in my family. 

So, we're a little late getting to the new book, but it'll be all that much better for it. 

Enjoy. 

___

Note: if you'd like to read my other story in this universe, The Deserter, you can find print and electronic versions here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Recap: December 28, 2021

Well, well. Look at that. 

Another politician died from COVID.

A tragedy, said the news. A terrible tragedy.  

Yes, a tragedy. He leaves behind a family. Friends. A job undone. He was so young. He was in the prime of life. And now, he's dead. It's so sad. Yes, yes. So very sad. 

He was a politician, you see. 

He was an elected "leader." 

He was that species of conservative we've grown all too familiar with of late: A vocal antivaxxer, a conspiracy theorist, loudly dismissive of the severity of the disease, profit over people, and who actively campaigned against any measure to contain the pandemic.

Who am I talking about? 

What was his name? 

Is it that guy yesterday from Washington state? 

Or the one last week from Florida? 

Maybe those (several) politicians from Texas or that one antivaxxer who was elected in Louisiana but died from COVID before he could take office?

While we're at it, what about that semi-famous YouTuber, or that media personality, or those various prominent preachers?

I mean, that's the thing, isn't it? 

That, right there. 

It could be any of them. 

Every day, there's another one. Another dead idiot. Another jackass politician, another fanatical preacher, another red-faced talk show host, dead from a preventable disease after a month of sucking oxygen through a tube. 

Do the names even matter at this point? 

It's just another unvaccinated moron, drowned in his own snot. 

Another suicide by petulance. 

Do the names even matter? 


What's that? 


Oh. I see. 

I should be a better person. 

Take the high road, right? Like that. 

Have some sympathy. Think of the families. Think of how these poor deluded fools were taken in by conspiracy and delusion. Have some empathy, man. Be the better person. 

That's what you're saying. Be the better person. Don't cheer these deaths. Don't celebrate these fools killing themselves off. Don't raise up a huzzah to Darwin.

It's not their fault, right? They were led astray. 

That's what Twitter told me, when I mentioned the latest death from stupidity. 

Be the better person. 

Yeah. 

Well, Folks, you can just stop with "be a better person" bit.

Because that just ain't going to happen. That ship not only sailed, it hit a rock outside the harbor and went down with all hands. 

I am all out of fucks to give. 

I'm not going to feel bad for some obnoxious idiot politician, some loud mouthed media personality, some fanatical religious nut, who not only refused to get vaxxed, but actively tried to keep the public from the vaccine. These assholes are killing people. It's bad enough they killed themselves, but they are enthusiastically trying to take the rest of us with them. 

Deliberately causing your own death from a preventable disease isn't a tragedy.


It's evolution. 


And you can likewise stop with the "You should feel bad for his family" routine too. 

His family?

His family, forsooth. 

LOL.

These people, they don't give a shit about their families. Or you. Or anybody else. The only thing they care about is their fanatical ideology. They're willing to kill themselves for it, and they'll take you with them just to own some libs. Let's go, Brandon! Yeah! 

We're years into this now. 

And at this point if you believe Alex Jones and Sean Hannity over actual doctors, then you are a fucking moron. 

You. Are. A. Moron. 

Hell, even Donald goddamn Trump thinks you should get vaccinated. 

At this point in human history, if you're an antivaxxer, you deserve every bit of scorn, mockery, and contempt we can heap upon you. You're a plague rat. You're Typhoid Mary and you should be exiled to a remote island somewhere beyond the edge of the map and left to rot. 

You want me to care about your family when you don't? Fine. Maybe now that another idiot politician is dead from stupidity, his kids will have at least chance for a better life. I mean, hell, if he couldn't be the kind of parent who was willing to put his ideology aside for his own children, then at least maybe his selfish miserable death will serve as a lesson to his children to be better people than their asshole of an old man. 

I dunno. 

Maybe I am a callous son of a bitch, as Twitter accused me of being yesterday.

Maybe I am. 

Twenty years in the military, a couple of wars, there's been a lot of dead bodies along the way, so, yeah, maybe I am a callous son of a bitch. 

So?

So what? 

I just can't see the death of another antivaxxer as a tragedy. Not to me. Not to you. Not even to his family. 

The world is better off without these assholes. 

Folks, the world is full of tragedy. Real tragedy.

Kids going hungry in a nation where we throw food away? Yeah, that's a tragedy. 

People sleeping in boxes under a viaduct while the rich fly into space as a goof? That's a tragedy.

I live in a state that this morning is surging in COVID cases, where deaths from the pandemic are at all time high, where the hospitals are overflowing -- and thus the profits are likewise at all time high. Healthcare for profit, now, that is a tragedy. Down here in The South, every day I see kids with their teeth rotted out of their heads, because their idiot, ignorant, asshole parents bought AR-15s and $400 worth of cigarettes this month instead of dental care. That's a goddamn tragedy. 

In my lifetime, we've spent untold trillions on decades of one futile miserable war after another, wars that left millions dead, millions more maimed, and the world measurably worse off than when it started. And no one was ever held to account. All those lives, all those people, all those families, bombed, burned, maimed, forgotten, and no one politician responsible was ever, not once, held to account. That's a not just a tragedy, that's a goddamn crime. 

There are a million tragedies large and small every day in this world and you want me to feel bad because some asshole politician, a grown goddamn man, who should have known better -- AND WHO NO DOUBT DID KNOW BETTER -- but who was determined to endanger himself as a political stunt, died? 

Died from his own determined and deliberate stupidity?

These deaths aren't an accident, they are on purpose.

Why shouldn't I celebrate that death? Why not? I mean, he got what he wanted. He made his point. Right? 

Callous. You damn right, I'm callous. 

And why shouldn't I be? These selfish miserable bastards, we've tried everything

We've tried reason. 

We've tried science.

We've tried appealing to their better nature, their sense of community and duty to their fellows.

They've been babied, cajoled, begged, shamed, and finally mandated. 

But still, they are determined to die and take us with them. 

And so they do.

They die. 

Alone. Scared. Drowning in their snot. 

That's not a tragedy. 


That's natural selection. 


These people, these antivaxers, they're not heroes. 

They're not standing on principle. 

It's not about freedom. 

It's not a tragedy. 

You can't appeal to their better nature, because they don't have any. 

They're just ASSHOLES.

And the world is better off without them. 

Viruses don't give a shit about your politics or your freedom or your idiotic political beliefs.

OR my callous disregard.

Look here: either you're part of civilization and you're willing to do whatever it takes to hold it together or you're not. If you're not willing to put aside your political ideology to protect your own families, and the rest of us, from a preventable disease, if you don't care that much, then I've got no fucks to give for you. 

I have plenty of sympathy. 

I have plenty of empathy.

I bleed for every real tragedy or I wouldn't have spent most of my adult life sworn to the defense of this nation and its people. 

But not for you. 

I have no fucks to give for you. 

If you're trying to burn down civilization, if you'd rather kill yourself and everyone around you, for a political stunt, then I've got nothing but contempt for you and yours. 

You're an asshole and you deserve what you get. 

You don't like that? 

It makes you mad? 

You want empathy and respect and concern for your wellbeing? That's a two-way street. 

You first. Step up. 

Stop being an asshole. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Recap: December 22, 2021

  

I had to back out of this year's World Science Fiction Convention, WorldCon, at quite literally the last minute. 

That caused a number of people who were depending on my presence some problems. I apologize for that. 

I was really been looking forward to WorldCon this year.

I'm not a fan of crowds, even if there wasn't a pandemic going around, but I'm part of several new books, and I was excited about those stories (still am). The latest one, I think that might be good enough to win an award or two. I mean, I usually write about politics, so getting to talk about the stuff I actually enjoy writing? Well, like I said, I was looking forward to it. 

And I was really looking forward to reconnecting and spending time with old friends. Some of which I only see at scifi conventions and comic cons. 

If there was any way I could have made the Convention, I would have. 

And as you've probably noticed, I haven't posted much here this last week. 

As such, I suppose I owe you an explanation. 


My Mother-In-Law passed away. 


I was literally -- literally -- in the car, pulling out of the driveway on my way to Washington, when my son (my son and his wife are living with us at the moment, while they look for their own place) ran out of the house and stopped me. 

Mom's on the phone with the nursing home and it doesn't sound good, he said. You'd better wait a minute. 

He was right, it wasn't good. 

My wife and I left our home in Alaska five years ago and moved here to the fetid swamps of the Florida Panhandle to care for her mom, who had then been recently diagnosed with Alzheimers. 

My wife gave up her career and became a full time caregiver -- which, if you're not familiar with Alzheimers, is a damn tough job that gets tougher and tougher with every day that passes. 

Alzheimers only goes in one direction. 

And that direction is down. 

It's pretty horrifying watching someone you love slowly disintegrate, losing their memories and their self piece by piece as the days go by. 

There are a number of ideologies when it comes to Alzheimers treatment. People can get pretty ... passionate about it. But, whichever course you choose, keeping an Alzheimers patient's mind active can sometimes help to slow the progression of the disease. 

So, my wife was there every minute of every day, working to keep her mom stimulated and engaged. The oldest memories are the ones that linger the longest. So, we daily took her to thrift stores and antique shops and wandered with her among the old things from her childhood -- hoping to reinforce those happy memories. My wife took her mom to visit friends and family. They went fishing, something both women loved to do (I clean the catch and cook it, but fishing bores me to tears). It worked, for a while. 

At home, we kept the big TV in the living room tuned the Grit Channel and the Western shows from her childhood, Gunsmoke, Death Valley Days, and Laramie. She increasingly had trouble following the plot, but those shows were all pretty much the same story every episode and if you lost the thread of it, well, the next one picked up in the same place. She had trouble remembering new people, but she knew the faces of actors who've been dead for decades, even if she couldn't remember their names, and again those shows helped keep her memories intact. For a while. 

I cooked healthy meals. We took her for long walks. Because proper nutrition and exercise can also help slow the disease. 

But the operative word here is "slow."

Alzheimers only goes one way. 

Eventually she developed something called Lewy body dementia -- which means she started seeing things. Bad things. For some reason those with this affliction never see happy illusions, only terrible ones. Medication can, sometimes, lessen the severity of the delusions, but they never really go away. People with Alzheimers often become paranoid, convinced that those around them must be playing tricks on them. It's very hard, often impossible, for them to believe it's their own mind that's betraying them. They begin to lose track of time. They become combative. Agitated. The disease causes other health problems as the parts of their brain that regulate their bodies fail. They forget how to eat. They forget how to use the bathroom. They stop sleeping. They refuse to take their medication -- and eventually the medication stops working anyway. 

Being a caregiver for Alzheimers is more than a full time job. 

At first, in the early stages, you can maybe get a break every few days. They can be left alone in their rooms or in front of the TV for a short while. A friend, a family member, can take the watch for a few hours. But sooner or later, it becomes every minute of every day of every week of every month of every year. You have to be vigilant every moment. You look away, even for second, and an Alzheimer's patient can hurt themselves, can wander away into the woods or the road, can do something that endangers others and themselves. You don't get any sleep, because you have to be there, all the time. You can't even go use the bathroom, because somebody has to be there. You never get any time to yourself. None. 

There's a financial aspect too. It can cost you, a lot. 

Caring for an Alzheimer's patient can destroy marriages and families, and very often does. It can consume you, and it does. 

It takes a pretty solid relationship to keep going because it never gets better, it only gets worse. 

Then came the pandemic. And things got much harder. 

The places we'd take her, closed up. We couldn't visit friends or family. I don't know if the disease advanced more rapidly then, or if it was just coincidence, but you reach point where the disintegration begins to accelerate and you can't do it anymore. 

That's when you need professional help. 

For us that was about a year ago. 

We moved my mother-in-law into managed treatment, a facility that specializes in round the clock care for this sort of thing. They're professionals. There's a team. They're there, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in three shifts. We know she was happy there. There were people to talk to and things to do and my wife visited often (only one of us could go, due to COVID). She was well cared for, far beyond our capability at that point -- and I'm sharing this with you, because if you find yourself in this situation, caring for a loved one with this terrible disease, there comes a point where you have to make this decision and you should do it without guilt. Because it's the right thing for you both. 

But Alzheimers only goes one way. 

And there's only one end. 

And for us, for her, that was last week. 

It wasn't unexpected, but that doesn't make it any easier. 

She went without pain, without suffering, with her family around her. 

My wife and I have been together for 30 years and there's no way I'd let her face this alone -- though I'm not sure how much help I really was. We did what families do in times like this, we transported family to and from the airport, we fed people, and comforted each other, and made the arrangements, and did the things you do in times like this. 

And so that's where I was. 

That's why I couldn't make it. 

I'm sure you understand. 

Hopefully, I'll see you all in Chicago for the next Worldcon. 


Friday, December 10, 2021

Recap: December 10, 2021


The first shot in the War On Christmas.




Fox News' Christmas tree burned down. 

Fox News' Jacques DeGraff is pretty sure it was the work of the Imperial Japanese Navy: 

Somebody asked me, why are you here? I'm here because these colors don't run. 80 years ago, this week, they tried to extinguish the darkness in a place called Pearl Harbor. We didn't fold then, and we won't fold now, because we've come this far by faith. In our tradition we say, this little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine. The red, the white, the blue, and the light of America, we're going to let it shine.   

The forces of evil have declared war on little Baby Jesus! These colors don't run because the Christmas Tree is basically the American flag ... or something, anyway: Open the silos! Deploy the fleet! Get the bombers into the air! Hoist the colors! Sound the trumpet! We won't back down! USA! USA! To be honest, I'm not really certain what "extinguish the darkness" means, but it sounds defiantly patriotic and that's what counts. 

That's what counts.

When the Japanese stage a sneak attack on your ... Christmas tree, I guess?

Well, "Christmas Tree" quote unquote. Given that it wasn't really so much a tree tree as a giant metal cone with a bunch of highly flammable fake evergreen branches stuck on that exploded into flame so fast it made the Hindenburg look like your dad trying to light the charcoal grill on a rainy Friday night. 

A fake tree burns down and, goddamn, it's Pearl Harbor. It's 9/11. It's an attack on Christianity! It's liberalism run amok! It's defund the police! It's the Antifas and the BLMs! This is Joe Biden's America where no tree is safe! It's cities overrun with crime! It's...

What? 

Oh, I see. 

You think I'm engaged in hyperbole, do you? 

Heh. 

No, I'm quoting Fox News hysteria directly

According to Fox News, a homeless guy with mental health issues lights a fake tree on fire and it's a symbol of everything wrong with their world, a direct frontal attack on God himself, and apparently America. 

Never mind that Jesus himself once cursed a fig tree to death because it had pissed him off. 

But then, isn't this one hell of a metaphor for the Republican version of Christmas? 

I mean, isn't it? 

The tree is fake. And flammable. A danger to the public. A fifty foot tall glowing symbol of over-the-top commercialism that was stolen by Christians whole cloth from some ancient pagan winter festival. We gonna learn how some jolly fat man in a red suit is a stand in for Jesus next? The reindeer are The Disciples or something? I mean, they drank a lot of wine in the Bible so maybe the glowing red nose...

What? 

Okay, fine. I'll stop.

But if this was any holiday special from previous decades, the show would end with Fox News learning the true meaning of Christmas. Steve Doocey, Greg Gutfeld, and the stogie puffing ghost of Rush Limbaugh would join hands amidst the ashes and they'd sing Christmas carols with New Yorkers while Tucker Carlson tossed presents to orphans and Rupert Murdoch would lean out the window on Christmas morning and shout in his quavering Australian accent, "You boy, what day is it?" and his shriveled leathery heart would grow two sizes when he learned he hadn't missed it after all because Christmas isn't about giant exploding Nazi Zeppelins but love and kindness and Bill Murray leading everyone in a rousing chorus of Put A Little Love In Your Heart and...

Okay, FINE. I'll stop. Jeez. 

But that's the thing, isn't it? 

Christmas isn't supposed to be about who has the biggest ... Yule log. 

It's supposed to be about the birth of the Christian Savior, right? 

John 3:16. Yeah? Remember that? For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son and so on and so forth forever and ever amen and lets nail him to a cross? 

No? I'm the only one who went to Sunday School? Really?

Okay, but isn't that what these red-face seething Republicans keep telling us? Jesus is the reason for the season! Fuck you, liberals! Peace. Love. Forgiveness. That sort of thing? Charity. Giving. Putting others before yourself. Healing. Spiritual renewal. MERRY CHRISTMAS! Not Happy Holidays, you godless pinko! 

"To give up one's very self — to think only of others — how to bring the greatest happiness to others — that is the true meaning of Christmas.
-- The American magazine, Vol 28, 1889

Isn't that it? 

That, right there? Right? To give up one's very self. To think only of others. Bring the greatest happiness to others.

Do you really need a tree for that?

Do you? 

Instead of rage and chest beating and Pearl Harbor, wouldn't the real lesson of Christmas be to stand in front of the ruins of their silly fake tree and actually honor the birth of their savior? Feed the hungry. Clothe the poor. Heal the sick. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Forgive each other. Love conquers all. Judge not. Deeds, not words. You know, that sort of thing. 

I mean, their God likes to test people. What if this was the test? And they failed? 

I don't know. It's not my religion. But, you gotta wonder: what would Jesus himself have done? 

But then, these people don't really believe in their religion or the lessons of their own supposed savior. 

To them, Christmas is just another weapon they use to bludgeon those they hate. 


And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon god they made...

-- The Sound of Silence, Simon and Garfunkel 

Thursday, December 9, 2021

Recap: December 9, 2021

 

America isn't some shitty casino in Atlantic City. 

This isn't another failed business venture. 

We're not settling out of court. 




America didn't sign an NDA with this asshole and Executive Privilege applies only to the current Executive, not the former one. 

Trump is entitled to exactly fuck all confidentiality when it comes to treason, sedition, and insurrection.

America has not only a right, but a duty to know every detail of Trump's involvement in the attempted overthrow of American Democracy on January 6th, 2021. 

If he's innocent, let him prove it in front of Congress, in front of America, in front of the world. Let him prove it, incontrovertibly, with his own records, in his recorded words, with proof, with evidence, with every document and every phone call, all of it. 

The future of the Republic demands nothing less. 

We must know. 

In the words of Republicans themselves: if they got nothing to hide, they got nothing to worry about.

At this point, a full and detailed accounting is long past due. 

If Trump, if Republicans, are innocent, then let them prove it beyond any shadow of a doubt. 

But, of course, they're not innocent. 

Are they? No, they're not. 

You know it. 

I know it. 

They know it. 

They know they can't prove their innocence, because they are guilty as hell. 

They tried to overthrow the government. Yes they did. 

They gave aid and comfort to our enemies, foreign and domestic, and they're still doing it.


They're just mad anyone would call them out on it. 


Of course, mad is what this is all about. 

Republicans tried to overthrow democracy because they're mad. 

They're mad at the idea every vote should count.

But it's more than that, they're mad at the very idea your vote, the vote a liberal, of a woman, of a black person, of a gay person, of a transgender person, of an ex-con, of a naturalized immigrant, should count every bit exactly the same as theirs. 

They're mad because women want control over their own bodies. 

They don't give a shit about "life" or any right to it. It's not about the babies. It's not about sanctity or their God and it never has been. No, it's about power, control, and forcing others to submit to their will. They're mad at the very idea of someone, anyone, especially women, defying their perceived authority because it directly makes mockery of their fundamental perception of themselves as masters of the universe. 

They're mad because people demand the right to their own identity. 

For them the world is simple, binary, black and white. Us and Them. Friend and Enemy. Good and Evil. There is Right and there is Wrong. There are no shades of gray. They are pathologically incapable of seeing the world from any other perspective than their own. Empathy is weakness. Compromise is defeat. There is male and there is female and for them there is no other possible identity and to even consider such makes them mad because they simply cannot comprehend any complexity beyond their binary worldview. 

They're mad because others want the same rights, the same privileges, they enjoy.

They are furious because they see those others as less than fully human, as if a pet or a machine rose up one day and demanded equal protection under the law. They measure their self-worth the same way they measure their manhood, as relative to others. In a nation where all are are equal, those who measure human worth as a relative value cannot tell themselves they are exceptional just for being born a certain race or a particular sex or into a privileged family, religion, or station. For these people, equality for all means they are diminished, because the very foundation of their ideology is a zero sum. The books must always balance, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, no exceptions. For them to feel superior, others must have less. There has to be someone to hold in contempt, to look down upon, to hate. Always.

They're mad because those they deem unworthy, subhuman, want to come ... here. 

For them, America is like their miserable selfish religion: it's not Heaven if everyone gets to go. If everyone is Saved, if there are no Left Behind come Judgement Day, then what's the point? The greatest pleasure of their paradise isn't life eternal in the presence of their god, but rather that they get to sit up there in the clouds safe and warm and happy and laugh at all those down below burning in eternal torment. That's how they see America, paradise, with a wall around it to keep all the people their god hates out. 

Speaking of god, they're mad because they're not allowed to impose their miserable religion on the rest of us. 

It's not that they really believe -- because if they did, well, they'd be very different people. Not one of the holy men they hold up as paragons of virtue and piety really believes. Not one of those holy men live the life they demand of us. They wallow in greed, gluttony, avarice, pride, lust, sloth, and their sermons are daily filled with wrath. No, again, it's about power, control, force. It's about bending others to their will. They're enraged when we don't live up their god's law, but they themselves never could -- or even try. 

They're mad that their children might have a better world than they did. They truly seem to believe that if their children do not suffer the deprivations and injustice they themselves did, it will somehow make the next generation soft, weak, unmanly -- because misery and injustice are the only way they can envision strength. Don't show your ass, they tell their children, meaning don't get above yourself, don't think you're better than me, if it was good enough for your father, it's good enough for you. 

Most of these people don't even know why they're mad. 

They literally have to make up things to be mad at. 


They're mad at whatever some rich guy on TV tells them to be mad at, they don't care why. 

They're mad at the war on Christmas. They're mad at the idea of electric cars. They're mad because our roads and bridges might get rebuilt. They're mad because Obama wore a tan suit and likes fancy mustard on his burger. They're mad because other nations no longer bow and scrape at the feet of America. They're mad at science. They're mad because America currently has the lowest unemployment rate since WWII and people don't have to take slave wage jobs if they don't want to. They're mad at the idea of energy that doesn't destroy the environment. They're mad because somebody told them to get a simple and easy vaccine, for free. They're mad at the idea a rich man might have to pay his fair share. They're mad about wind turbines. They're mad anyone should propose any solution to any problem that doesn't involve violence and guns. They're mad a black man took a knee. They're mad about a trade war they started. They're mad because a phony audit they demanded determined that Trump lost the election by even more. They're mad at any face, any language, any culture, any history different than their own. 

They're mad at everything, there is literally nothing that these people aren't mad about. 

They're addicted to being mad. 

They don't know how to be not mad anymore. 

Most of all, they're mad at the idea of community.

They dismiss the very idea of it. 

They hold up their miserable malformed greedy selfishness as some sort of virtue and rage in red-faced yellow-eyed spittle-flecked fury at the very idea of any good greater than themselves.

Most of these people are better off -- even now -- than the majority of human beings at any point in history. They have more freedom, more liberty, more leisure time, more to eat, more luxury, more of everything. They sit at home, screaming at the internet, watching 900 channels on their 70 inch UHD TV, smoking $400 worth of cigarettes each week, while some underpaid gig-economy Door Dasher delivers 5000 calories of Carl's Jr to their front porch, and they feel persecuted, thrown to the lions, diminished, demeaned, because Tucker Carlson told them Joe Biden wants them to have healthcare. 

Maybe that's why they're so mad. 

They don't have anything else to make them feel alive. 














Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Recap: November 30, 2021

 

prat
noun: prat; plural noun: prats
1. an incompetent, stupid, or foolish person; an idiot.
2. a person's buttocks.

This clown. 

This ridiculous, obnoxious, contemptable, capering buffoon. 

This is the face of the Republican Party today. 

This ass, right here. 


No ideas, only obstruction. 

No leadership, instead only bluster, bombast, and threats. 

Arrogantly self-righteous. Violently xenophobic. Confidently uneducated. Inordinately proud of their own miserable ignorance. Wrapped in the flag of dogmatic nationalism, mindless patriotism, and self-righteous piety. Waving a gun and their Bible -- without respect or understanding for either.  

This is what the Republican Party has become: Lauren Boebert. 

By now I'm sure you've heard about Boebert's bigoted "joke."

Boebert was in Colorado, and told her audience that she was getting into an elevator at the Capitol when she saw a Capitol Police Officer running toward the doors "with a look of fear."

Oh no! What could it be! Why was the officer afraid for Lauren Boebert? Why?!

In the story, Boebert responds to the officer's panic for her wellbeing by saying, "I looked to my left and there she is: Ilhan Omar!"

Ilhan Omar! 

A Muslim! 

Beobert dropped the punchline: "And I said, 'well, she does not have a backpack, we should be okay!'"

The audience laughed, of course. 

Hardee har har. 

Omar, who as a child refugee escaped civil war, terrorism, and genocide in Somalia, who came to America specifically because her family believed in the promise of this country, freedom, justice, civil rights, peace, equality, safety, all those things that Republicans like Lauren Boebert claim they revere, the black Muslim woman is a suicide bomber! She can't be trusted! 

She's not really an American. 

Ha ha! See? 

Isn't that hilarious? 

Because vile jokes based on racist stereotypes are goddamn funny, right? 

Well, they are to Republicans anyway. Q.E.D.


Patriot: the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.
- More Maxims of Mark, Johnson, 1927


Bobo "apologized" for her "joke."

But, of course, the apology was bullshit, a trap. 

Boebert only wanted to get Omar on the phone so she could spew more hate. And when Omar hung up rather than listen to it, Republicans declared victory and bemoaned Omar's "intolerance." 

This is what bullies do. 

This is what the Republican Party has become. 

They attack and harass and terrorize those they defines as "weak," and when they're caught and called out, they declare themselves to be the real victim. 

That's what the Republican Party has become: A rabble of dimwitted goons, bullies, thugs, who perpetually play the victim and pander to the lowest, most base elements of our society. 

It's not just Boebert. 

It's Steve King's comment today. 

It's Marjorie Taylor Geene. 

It's Donald Trump.

It's Kevin McCarthy. 

It's the craven cowardice of an ideology based on hate, fear, and cheap laughs. 

And until the GOP takes responsibility for their own shitty behavior, until Republican leaders (so called leaders anyway) step up and hold members of their own party accountable for their unacceptable hate, until they expel these vile racist dimwitted pandering thugs from their caucus, then those like Lauren Boebert are the face of the Republican Party. 

Lincoln would have beaten these miserable goons with a hickory axe handle. 

Which is why those who think like Lauren Boebert murdered him. 


Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We, of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation.
- Abraham Lincoln






Monday, November 22, 2021

Recap: November 22, 2021

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Senator Ted Cruz:

President Biden’s supply chain crisis won’t spare your Thanksgiving sides. Sweet Potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pies are all experiencing shortages throughout the country.

Oh. My. God! Not the sweet potatoes! 


First Joe Biden took away our turkeys and our hams. 

Now he's come for our pie!

And... boxed gravy, apparently. 

You know, I didn't want to straight up call Ted Cruz, a Senator forsooth, a goddamn pandering liar. 

I didn't. 

So I went to the cheapest, low-end grocery store in my town, the place that doesn't know how to order stuff even when there isn't a "supply chain crisis." 

And not just the lowest end store in town, but a damn low end town. This place isn't exactly a hub of commerce and transportation. Hell, I have to drive across the bay into Pensacola just to get a USB cable. So, if there's any place that the shelves ought to be bare, it's Winn Dixie in Milton, Florida. 


Except, the shelves were stocked. 

Turkeys (fresh and frozen, also various parts you could just buy out of the regular freezer if you only want a certain piece of the bird), ducks, ham in five different kinds, yams (canned and fresh), potatoes (russets, yellow, red), produce, pumpkin, condensed milk, brown sugar, broth of every kind imaginable, baked goods and about the only thing missing from this Thanksgiving bonanza was a band of Narraganset come to show you pilgrims how to plant corn in the New World. 

There was even gravy, boxed, canned, and in a jar. In five different flavors, including turkey. 

Turns out, Ted Cruz is a goddamn liar. 

But, just inside the door, there's a big florid guy in a Trump hat and some sort of shirt with eagles and flags and guns shouting into a phone: Ya'll betta git down heya! The shelves is empty!

I'm like, wut?

The shelves are empty? I could see a 1000lbs of turkeys and the guy is literally standing next to a stack of pies high enough to feed the entire nation of Rwanda. But the shelves are empty. Goddamn that Joe Biden!

I mean, this guy can literally see the shelves are not empty with his own eyes, but he's such a programmed tool that he believes Ted Cruz and Tucker Carlson over his own senses. 

These people simply do not exist in the same reality with ... well, reality. 

There was plenty of everything else too. Plenty of butter, milk, eggs, Pop Tarts, frozen burritos. Toilet paper. Tums...

The produce looked a little skanky, but it's Winn Dixie. The produce always looks a little skanky. 

Sometimes a lot skanky. 

Another aisle, another big florid dude shoves in past me and starts grabbing "family" sized bags of Doritos from the end cap. Says to his wife, "Two fer $4.95! We better stock up!" 

He filled up a cart. A whole cart. Two for $4.95. He really likes Doritos, I guess. Better get 'em before Joe Biden does. 

My point being that if you're leaving the store with a whole separate buggy full of Doritos, there ain't no "supply crisis." 


Look here, in addition to the 15 different kinds of Oreos in the the cookie aisle, they had a totally separate display at the front of the store for Christmas Oreos. 

Christmas Oreos. 

"5 cool winter designs!" no less. 

That's like 20 different kinds of Oreos. 

You could have fed the entire Plymouth Colony on nothing but bags of Oreos from this store. 

There are people, too many people in far too many parts of the world right now today struggling to get enough calories just to stay alive. But we got 20 different kinds of Oreos and Family Size Doritos 2-for-$5 and Ted Cruz is mad because he read a Yahoo News article about a shortage of ... gravy in a box. 

I don't know. 

I guess at this point we should just be glad Ted Cruz is tweeting about gravy from Washington D.C. and not Senior Frog's on the beach in Cancun. 

Anyway, I look forward to the Republican plan to fund and train more truck drivers. 


Friday, November 19, 2021

Eclipse

 

That's it.

That's my shot. 





Shot from the Florida Panhandle at the peak of the event, 10" Meade ACF autotracking telescope coupled to a Nikon Z7 using a short Starbossa Z-mount adaptor. Focus is manual via the scope controls, using Focus Peaking in the camera and a DJI drone piloting VR headset coupled to the camera via an HDMI cable. f/8 1/30sec ISO25600. 

It's now 4AM. I'm going to bed. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Announcing Alternative War




Announcing the release of Alternative War, the latest anthology from B Cubed Press




 

Announcing the release of Alternative War, the latest anthology from B Cubed Press

Past, present, and future conflict, those who fight, and what comes after. 

Some science fiction. 

A bit of historical fiction.

Some detective work. 

And a leavening of poetry. 

This mixed genre anthology features all new works from both award winning masters and new writers alike, a talented cast from literally around the globe. Jane Yolen and David Gerrold, Gwyndyn Alexander, Gustavo Bondoni, C.B. Claywell, Karl El-Koura, Rob Francis, Bruce Golden, Philip Brian Hall, James Hancock, Liam Hogan, Tom Howard, Shawn Kobb, Vlora Konushevci, Lita Kurth, Pedro Iniguez, Al Margrave, Alison McBain, D. Thomas Minton, Ann Poore, Anthea Sharp, Marge Simon, Peter B. Tracy, Jeremy Thackray. 

Forward by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough, author of The Healer's War

And, oh yeah, one more: Yours Truly. 

That's right. The anthology includes my short story: The Gelding -- a tale of war, robots, evolution, and strange new worlds. 

And yes, before you ask, that is indeed my art on the cover. Thanks to Bob Brown at B Cubed for buying it. 

Available now from Amazon.