_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, May 4, 2020

Danse Macabre



“The point of civilization is to be civilized; the purpose of action is to perpetuate society, for only in society can philosophy truly take place.”
Iain Pears, The Dream of Scipio


Goddamn.

If there was an Olympics of Logical Fallacies, Donald Trump would win gold in the Begging the Question luge.

Hell, he might take home all the medals.

But I digress.

"Interesting? By Congress not wanting the special 5 minute testing apparatus, they are saying that they are not 'essential'. In any event, we have great testing capacity, and have performed 6.5 million tests, which is more than every country in the world, combined!"
-- President Donald Trump, via Tweet, 5/4/20

That was Trump, this morning, in what has become the normal here in America, a president blasting out a daily stream of incoherent rage and self-aggrandizement. This happens every day now, like some horrible side effect of the pandemic. The Bubonic Plague, you got huge infected lymph nodes that swelled to the size of a goose’s egg. With the election of Donald Trump, we have to put up with a rash of swollen, infected tweets filled with pus and madness.

At this point, I’m not sure I even remember what it was like to have leaders who weren’t functionally insane.

There are two...I guess we have to call them thoughts in this non sequitur of a presidential statement.

Let's take them one at a time:

"By Congress not wanting the special 5 minute testing apparatus, they are saying that they are not 'essential'.

No. That's not what Congress said.

“Congress is grateful for the Administration’s generous offer to deploy rapid COVID-19 testing capabilities to Capitol Hill, but we respectfully decline the offer at this time. Our country’s testing capacities are continuing to scale up nationwide and Congress wants to keep directing resources to the front-line facilities where they can do the most good the most quickly."

That was a joint statement issued by the Senate Majority Leader and the Speaker of the House on Saturday.

Now, imagine what it took for Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi -- Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi -- to come together in agreement and issue a joint statement.

Even Mitch McConnell thinks all available testing should be prioritized to hospitals and first-responders.

And, yes, given that it's McConnell, that's probably a cold-blooded calculation to appeal to the chumps he needs for reelection, but still.

Congress turned down testing, saying that the first priority should be those on the front lines of the pandemic, the doctors, nurses, first responders, the people who need testing the most.

And Trump went online to mock that idea in front of the world.

This is Trump.

This is how he thinks.

If you put the needs of others above yourself, you must not be important.

That’s Trump.

Because Trump can't imagine valuing anyone more than he values himself.


But, it’s the second bit that really got me.

"In any event, we have great testing capacity, and have performed 6.5 million tests, which is more than every country in the world, combined!"

More than every country in the world combined.  

No matter how many times Trump repeats this bullshit, it's still a lie. It's still not true. Not even close.

As of today, the US has completed 7,249,126 tests.

Russia as completed 4,300,000. Germany, 2,547,052. And Italy 2,191,403.

That's a three-country combined total of 9,038,455.

Which, even if you went to a Betsy DeVos charter school, is still about two million more than the US.

And that's just THREE countries combined.

Three, out of 212.

Yet Trump claims, again, that the US has tested more people than all other countries combined.

And it's worse than that, because Trump and his dimwitted USA! USA! followers seems to think it's the number of tests that matter, as if it were some sort of competition, and not tests per capita.

Trump claimed this morning that 6.5 million test have been completed in the US. That's not even the correct information -- and in this case, you'd think he'd really try to get the right number because the real number is higher: 7.25 million.

But again, what does that actually mean?

Well, it means that 98% of Americans haven’t been tested.

The current population of the United States is 328,000,000.

Seven million tests is 2.1% of the population.

If you tested 2% of 328,000,000, then that means 321,000,000 Americans, give or take, are currently untested.

But it's more complicated than that, because the population of the United States is concentrated in densities that vary widely between various urban centers and the rural countryside, and the infection among those sub-populations is not evenly distributed. Per capita infections in some areas, such as New York City for example, are a higher percentage of the population than in other areas, say, Wasilla, Alaska. But, urban centers are typically far better equipped to deal with disease than rural medical systems, which means the death rate per infection also varies widely.

As, I said, it's more complicated than just simple numbers, and vastly more complicated than, Ha ha, we tested more people than other countries, so we win!

Per capita, that's what matters. In America that's 21,000 people per every 1,000,000 -- or about 2.1% -- that have been tested.

For comparison, the United Arab Emirates has only tested 1.2 million people, compared to the US's 7.25 million.

USA! USA! Right?

No. See, the population of the UAE is only about 9,000,000, so that's 121,300 people tested per 1,000,000 or about 12% of their population.

Meaning they're doing a hell of a lot better job at getting their population tested.

Simple childish comparisons to other countries mean nothing.

Who has the most tests does not matter -- it's not a competition.

He who dies with the most tests, still dies.


The only measurement which matters is the percentage of population tested in relation to the virulence of the disease and your ability to prevent infection.


I was talking to my mom yesterday.

Mom is in her late 80s. She remembers back when she was a kid and had the measles. Now, the measles vaccine wasn't invented until the mid-1960s. So, back in the 1930s, if you had a highly infectious disease, you got quarantined. Mom told me how the Department of Public Health came to the house and put a notice on the front door, quarantined. People inside, stay inside. People outside, stay away. And that's how it was until you recovered.

And people cooperated.

Yes they did. Because measles, mumps, polio, whooping cough, scarlet fever, etc, killed a hell of a lot of people, or left them blind, sterile, or unable to breath on their own.

We don't remember this stuff nowadays, because enough of us get vaccinated so that there aren't pandemics of these diseases.

Voluntary self-quarantine at government direction isn't anything new. For most of our history as a country, it was the norm. It's only recently that we've suddenly decided that social distancing to protect others and ourselves is OMG! FASCISM!

Did we shut down the entire economy for these outbreaks? Sometimes, at least in local areas, but generally no. Because that was the nature of those diseases. And because people did what was necessary to prevent the spread of infection.

With some diseases, quarantine doesn't work because the transmission vector is contaminated water supplies or infected fleas or it's so damn virulent that it can't be contained. However, that's not what we're talking about here.

For some diseases, even if you don't have a vaccine, there's a threshold where if you can verify enough of the population free of the disease and then keep them away from infection – say by social distancing – then you have a reasonable assurance the population is mostly safe. But that depends on complex factors like population densities, the transmission vectors of the disease, environment, and most especially the ease and availability of testing with high confidence and the willingness of the population to cooperate.

Especially the willingness of the population to cooperate.

If you can't test enough people quickly and as many times as necessary, AND/OR if the population won't cooperate, then even diseases that can be controlled by quarantine will become overwhelming pandemics.

COVID-19 isn't the Black Death, but it's not the flu either.

Just because we've done more testing than Cameroon, doesn't mean the threat isn't real or it's safe to go out in public without precautions.

At the moment, we don't have a vaccine for the Coronavirus, and we don't have enough testing to verify more than 2% of the population free of the infection. So, we are literally no better off in this than our grandparents were 80 years ago -- worse, because they, for the most part, were willing to cooperate with public health for the safety of those around them.

Back when my mom had the measles, the country was in the grip of the Great Depression and the world was teetering the brink of WWII. And yet, people still somehow were able to look out for each other.


And I can’t find a single case of Herbert Hoover or Franklin Delano Roosevelt mocking them for it.


We are supposed to be a nation where government values the citizen over all.

We are supposed to be a community where we value others as much as we value ourselves, if not more – that’s what community is.

The President of the United States mocking elected officials for putting Americans before themselves shows you just how utterly unfit Donald Trump is for any office in this nation. And for Trump to believe testing is some sort of simple dick measuring contest between nations instead of the foundation of a much larger and more complex problem, shows you just how ill-equipped he is intellectually to manage this situation. This isn’t about what China did or didn’t do. This isn’t about how many tests have been completed in relation to other countries. This is about us, about our country, about our government, and about our leaders taking responsibility for their own failures.

If civilization doesn't value people more than it values profit, if our nation cannot or will not protect the vulnerable from the selfish and predatory, then what goddamn good is it?

If our elected leaders don't value the citizen more than they value themselves, then they are unworthy of being our leaders.

The world grows ever more complicated, the threats to civilization ever more dangerous, and if our leaders cannot rise to the challenge of this crisis, any crisis, then we need better leaders.

More than that, if our leaders cannot themselves understand the nature of the threat and are unwilling or unable to then convince the citizens to act in their own best interest, then they are not leaders at all. And if our leaders actively encourage the population to act in a manner that will almost certainly lead to disaster, then they must be removed from office.

Ultimately, it falls to us.

If you want a better nation, you have to be a better citizen.


“The human ripples of pain are still heartbreaking when made visible to us now. Our friend Agnolo the Fat wrote: ‘Father abandoned child, wife husband, one brother another; for this illness seemed to strike through the breath and sight. And so they died. And none could be found to bury the dead for money or friendship…’”
-- Dan Carlin, The End is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments, from the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Happy Kittens Fart Sunshine


It began with a fight on the Stonekettle Station Facebook Group.

Then moved to a direct message:

"It's impossible to have any kind of disagreement with your other followers without someone shooting Russian troll accusations around."

Well, maybe try not sounding like a Russian stooge then.

What’s that? Oh. You were expecting me to be polite after you opened with complains about my readers?

Sorry, please continue:

"Are you at all in favour [sic] of a debate or are we supposed to toe the line and show absolute unquestioning support to whoever the Democrats nominate?"

If you don’t want to be called a Russian stooge, maybe don’t use the foreign spelling of words either.

That said, have you ever seen me suggest or demonstrate "unquestioning support" for anybody? Ever? In any fashion?

No, you haven't.

I have said repeatedly and at great length "I don't owe any politician anything." And neither do you.

Go ahead, do a search on this blog, on my Facebook page, on my Twitter. See how many times I’ve said it.

Hint: It’s a lot.

A lot.

I guess you weren't listening.

But here's the really hilarious part: You're a Bernie guy. You are. Yes, you are. Bernie or bust, right? In point of fact, that's what this is about. Isn't it? This is about your guy losing to Joe Biden in the primaries. And now, you're all depressed and mad and upset and you've come here to register your protest as if I'm the Democratic National Committee's Complaint Department. That what this is about, right?

Sure it is.

Any minute now you're going to demand to speak to my manager about my poor attitude.

"You're a smart guy, Jim. Surely you can see the problems the Democrats have with nominating Biden?"

Yes. And?

It’s likely that I see more problems with Biden than you do.

So?

What is it you expect me to do? Call up Tom Perez and read him the riot act? You think he’ll endorse your guy maybe? Think he’ll call up Michigan and tell them to change their primary results? That’s it, isn’t it? You bought into the conspiracy theory that the DNC diddled the previous election to favor Hillary Clinton, didn’t you? And you figure, what the hell, maybe if you complain to me, I’ll strongarm Perez into diddling 2020 for Bernie, is that it?

You slip me a $20 and I’ll see what I can do.

"How bad does a candidate have to be before you seriously question the integrity of the entire American political system?"

You’re kidding, right?

I seriously question the integrity of the American political system all of the time.

Like, pretty much every day.

Seriously question the American political system. And irreverently question it. And sarcastically question it. And pointedly question it. And profanely question it. That's essentially all I do nowadays. That. I question the integrity of the system, the morality of it, the wisdom of it, the foolishness of it, the fairness of it, the candidates, the politicians, the legalities of it, the voters, and what it ate for dinner last night and with who. 

Jesus Haploid Christ, man, where have you been?

"The Democratic Party holds its left wing hostage under threat that the GOP will usher in an era of fascism. How far to the right does the Democratic Party have to be before you begin to wonder if they're any better?"

Listen, Sparky, I don't give a fig how far right the Democratic Party moves.

Anything less than fascist is better than fascism.

What’s that? You don’t think “anything less than fascism” is enough?

Heh. Yeah. Me too. But that’s where we are.

Hang on, we’ll come back to that.

I’d love for there to be a party I could support 100%, that only promoted candidates that were the embodiment of my ideals, and that was imbued with honor, integrity, and absolutely truthfulness. Sure. Why not?

I’d also love to look like Jason Momoa and have the ability to breathe underwater and telepathically communicate with fish.

So long as we’re wishing for stuff, I mean.

Look here: as previously noted, I'm not a Democrat. I'm not a Republican. I'm not a liberal. I'm not a conservative. And I for goddamned sure ain't part of your fucking cosplay "Resistance."

I'm an American.

My oath is to the Constitution. I swore to give my life for my country, not some political party or ideology or some bullshit college dorm room argument by a bunch of drunken philosophy majors. My loyalty is to my friends and family, to my countrymen – even the ones I can’t stand -- to the human race in general, and especially to the future.

And I've said so enough goddamned times that you should have gotten the message by now.


BUT YOU DON'T LISTEN.


So, let me spell it out:

The odds are very high Joe Biden is going to be the Democratic candidate.

Yeah, that’s right. Joe Biden is very likely going to be the candidate. Now, it doesn't matter if you like that or not. Very likely, that’s how it’s going to be.

If it’s any comfort, he's not my preference either. Not even in the top five.

And, since we’re being honest, frankly, I don't like Bernie either.

I’m sick and fucking tired of Bernie Sanders.

I’m tired of his mirror universe Angry John McCain routine.

I’m tired of his hippy dippy promises of some new Age of Aquarius. I grew up in 60s, I wasn’t impressed.

Most of all, I’m tired of having to pull my punches around his supporters. Who, like you, lose their shit at even the slightest criticism of Bernie Goddamned Sanders.

So, anyway…

What?

Oh.

You’re mad now?

I said something mean about Bernie.

Yeah. Heh heh. What was that you said up above? Something about “absolute unquestioning support?”

If I can’t dislike your candidate without you getting mad, you’re not in a political movement, you’re in a cult.

You and your friends showed up on my Facebook page, on my Twitter, with an endless litany of what’s wrong with Biden, what’s wrong with Warren, and Buttigieg, and Klobucher, and all the rest of them, but goddamn, don’t be mean to Bernie, right?

But that’s the thing, isn’t it?

That’s it right there, I’ve never badmouthed Bernie. If he is the candidate, I’m going to support him 100% and I’ve said so, many times.

When you showed up on my timeline gushing about your man, while my choice was going down in flames and I was all disappointed, I didn’t tell you that you were wrong, or that you were a sellout, or a corporate whore, or unamerican, or determined to elect Donald Trump.

No. I didn’t.

I didn’t badmouth any candidate – with the notable exception of Donald Trump.

But today is a new day and since you brought it up: I don’t like Bernie.

Hey, don’t take it personally, I said I didn’t like Biden either.

The candidate I preferred – and didn’t openly endorse out of respect for your feelings – dropped out.

Now, you’re all depressed that you’ll probably have to vote for somebody you don’t like?

Me too, Bro.

Me too.

It’s a bummer.

But the universe doesn’t care what I want, and Joe Biden is still very likely to be the candidate.

And showing up on my timeline and complaining about how terrible Biden is or is not very likely won't change that.

Listing all of Biden's supposed failings over and over very likely won't change that.

Dire prognostications about what Biden might or might not do if elected President likely won't change that -- though the hypocrisy of complaining about how how dire prognostications of a possible Trump second term isn't enough to get you to vote for Biden is both amusing and incredibly irritating.

Complaining to me via DM and email because you are unable to change the minds of people, because you’re unable to bend the Democratic Party to your will, and you find that terribly disappointing likely won't change that, though the probability of you irritating me to the point you get yourself blocked will be dramatically improved.

Refusal to face reality, no matter how unpleasant it might be, likely won't change that.

I have no sympathy for your complaints in this regard. I had to make any number of decisions in war where there was no good choice. I still had to choose because it was my duty to do so. That's why it's called "Duty" and not "Happy Kittens Who Fly and Fart Sunshine."

Being assholes to each other, to me, most certainly won't change that.

All of you, you're going to have a choice to make.

And the probability is high that choice is going to be, for a lot of you, unpleasant.

That choice is going to require a certain degree of pragmatic compromise of principles on your part.

Refusal to choose is a still a choice -- one that shows a marked lack of principle.

Some of you need to start getting used to this idea because the universe doesn't give a good goddamn about what you want or about fairness or about your sacred principles. Doesn’t care.

You hate that these are your only choices?

So do I.

Too goddamn bad, those are the choices anyway.

You're mad and depressed because there aren't better ones?

Hilarious.

You see, this -- THIS RIGHT HERE -- is where I remind you people that I warned you.

I warned you in 2008.

I warned you again 2010 when you handed the House to the fucking Tea Party.

I warned you in 2012.

I warned you in 2014, when you gave Mitch McConnel the Senate and thus the Supreme Court and, thus, everything else.

And I warned you in 2016.

I’ve been warning you all for a long time, what happens when you don’t show up.

I warned you what would happen if you didn’t grit your damned teeth and do your duty to the Republic.

I warned you sooner later we were going to run out of options.

I warned you.


BUT YOU DON’T LISTEN.


You don’t listen because you don’t like the choices.

You told me you couldn’t vote for the lesser of evils.

And, so, here we are.

With more evil.

And, somehow, you’re surprised. Shocked. How did this happen? You were crying about free college, when fascism was marching in the streets.

I warned you. I did. But you didn’t listen.

And now you’re mad that you don’t have better choices?

Honestly, I’m out of patience with this. I’m out of patience with you. You’re not stupid. You know better. But you still won’t face it. You still persist in this argument despite knowing that this refusal to face reality is precisely what led directly to this very moment. And don't try to tell me that you don't know, because you damned well do. So, let's not pretend that either one of us is stupid by insisting otherwise.

The truth of the matter is this: You don’t really care.

Your loyalty isn’t to the country. Or the future. Or the people you daily tell me you care about. No. The only thing that matters to you is some pie-in-the-sky ideology. Some hippy dippy dream from the Age of Aquarius. The truth of the matter is that you just love the argument. Bunch of drunken frat boys debating philosophy in your dorm room as if people’s lives are just some hypothetical fantasy that doesn’t affect you. It's nothing but masturbation and you’ll still be jerking off as the goons are pushing the rest of us into the ovens.

I’m out of patience with it.

I’m out of patience with you.

We’re down to it and it’s more important than one person, more important than Bernie or Biden, more important than you. Than me. This is about the country, about the future, about the world we leave for our kids.

You don’t want to be called a Russian troll? Then stop acting like one.

You don’t like how my readers treat you? Then stop throwing handfuls of your own shit at people.

You don’t want to be talked to like you’re a fucking child? Then grow up and face reality. Stop complaining about how the world isn’t what you want it to be and face what it is.

You don’t like my attitude? Then don’t come to me and pretend like I haven’t been warning you of this exact eventuality for more than a decade.

You don’t like your choices? Too bad. Neither do I.

And so what?

You want a better nation? Then you need to start by being a better citizen.

Monday, March 2, 2020

Paid Content

As previously noted, every once in a while I have to ask for money.

I don’t have to do it very often these days. But, this has been an expensive year and I’ve got bills to pay and people to take care of.

Having given up military consulting work and having shut down my woodworking business and art studio (hopefully temporarily) when I left Alaska, I subsist for the moment primarily on income derived from my social media sites and this blog – including the various merchandise I sell under my brand.

A few years back, I wouldn’t have believed this possible.

A few years back it wouldn’t have been possible.

But despite the sneering complaints of certain vocal critics, it is possible for a writer to make a reasonably decent living this way.

Yes, writer.

It used to be “writer” was defined as somebody who assembled words and ideas into books, short stories, articles, and perhaps screenplays, fact or fiction, and submitted those efforts via various means to editors at publishing houses or various presses or various media outlets, and then lived on cheese sandwiches hoping a check of some modest amount would come back. Traditionally the profession of “writer” meant you repeated this cycle without healthcare or adequate hygiene or presentable clothes until you died, or gave it up for a real job.

That model, that definition of writer, still very much exists.

And a lot of writers make varying degrees of living from it.

If you’re a Stephen King or a John Scalzi, you might make millions and live in a golden mansion high on a landscaped hill in the middle of a private island waited on hand and foot by an army of nubile olive-pitters (this is totally true and I heard it directly from one of George R.R. Martin’s gardeners). But more likely you’re a stringer for the local paper, and you might make enough to buy a cheese sandwich or two providing you’re not particular about the definition of “cheese” or those weird green spots on the bread.

Various degrees of success exist between those poles.

Me? I wanted to be a writer since I was kid. It’s a sickness, writing. A weird mental disorder that makes you sit in front of a keyboard for hours, daydreaming and playing with ideas and wondering why anybody would read the blather on the screen. But my grandmother gave me a Hardy Boys book (#8; The Mystery of Cabin Island) for Christmas one year when I was about 8 or 9. I’d been an indifferent reader up to that point, but that book captivated me and my lifelong obsession with words began right there. Somewhere shortly thereafter, in a staggering moment of epiphany, I realized there were actually people out there who got paid to sit in front of a keyboard and daydream and those people didn’t have to put on pants every day. Hell they might not even own actual pants – unless you consider pajamas legitimate work apparel.

I knew then that’s what I wanted to do.

I’d always intended to go the traditional route, cheese sandwiches and all.

I’d never intended to write about politics. But evidence would suggest that’s where my talent lies – if you’re charitable and agree that it is indeed an actual talent and not just something you could train a chimpanzee to do (they taught ‘em to fly spaceships, so I imagine political pundit wouldn’t be that difficult).

But by the time I was free to write what I wanted (upon my retirement from the military) and I started writing in earnest with the idea that someday somebody would give me actual money for it, the world had changed. How we connect to it had changed and continues to evolve at a rapid pace and a new type of “writer” became possible – well maybe not new new, but perhaps a more modern version of the political broadsides and pamphlets penned by the likes of Thomas Paine.

It’s amazing to me how fast this has gone.

Ten years ago, hell five years ago, I would never have guessed that Facebook would become my primary platform for day to day short form.  Facebook is a horrible platform for the kinds of things I write. It’s a bastard cross between a blog and public forum and doesn’t do either very well. It’s subject to arbitrary and random censorship. There’s no protection for intellectual property at all. It lacks the most basic of editing tools and formatting functions, its search capability is ridiculous and all but useless. Facebook’s interface, timeline management, and display are one of the single most infuriatingly horrible experiences in an age of limitless customization – limitless to everybody but Facebook users that is. It’s impossible to get any kind of help from the operators and it’s subject to every kind of cyber-abuse from bullying to trolling to sexual assault.

And Twitter, where I spend many hours every day, is – if anything – worse.

If Facebook is a dysfunctional community, then Twitter is Monkey Island in that community’s horrible zoo, a screeching riot of flying shit and bared fangs. Twitter is a chemical plant for distilling out the absolute worst elements of human existence, like some sort of highway where every driver is armed and in the throes of howling road rage and they don’t care if they die if they can take everybody else with them.

And yet – and yet – these platforms do one thing very, very well.

They do the one thing that traditional publishing venues cannot do.

Facebook and Twitter (and Instagram and Snapchat and CoSo and so on) connect writers to people in an organic, viral, geometrically expanding manner that is completely impossible anywhere else.

Now, interacting with readers on a real time basis for hours upon hours every single goddamned day isn’t for every writer. It takes a certain degree of masochism to do it, see my previous comments about road rage and flying monkey shit.

In point of fact, a lot of writers become writers because they are anti-social bastards who enjoy living on moldy fake-cheese sandwiches and sitting around all day in dirty pajamas and who tend to break out in a cold sweat when they actually have to put on pants and go outside where all the other people are.

So real time interaction with their audience isn’t something they consider a feature.

And that’s okay. “Writer” is a loose enough definition that it accommodates the gregarious right alongside the hermit.

But, if you write well, if you write the things people are interested in, and if you’re willing to interact with your audience directly and in real time, then social media makes it possible for your work to spread far beyond the size of audiences normally available to traditional writers. For example: A few years ago, when I started doing this full time, Stonekettle Station averaged maybe 20,000 visitors per month – and that was after 8 years of writing every single day.  Maybe 3,000 people followed me on Facebook, maybe another 1000 or so on Twitter, and like one weird guy on Instagram.

Five years later, with some considerable effort, my daily Facebook audience is coming up on 200,000 subscribers, 150,000 on Twitter, and a single long form essay on Stonekettle Station can exceed 100,000 unique pageviews in a few hours.

That’s not connectivity traditional publishing, even things like newspaper columnist, can do.

Social media, for all its ills, has created new opportunity, an alternative to traditional writing models. Not a replacement, a supplement.

And that’s where I ended up.

I admit that in my case there is some degree of luck. I happened to be in the right place just as opportunity opened with the right experience and skillset and enough free time to take advantage of it.  It suits me. It’s not easy. Really it’s not. It sometimes (often) takes 14 to 18 hour days, research, writing, swearing at the screen, it can be incredibly frustrating at times for reasons you never imagine or anticipate. It requires constant attention, a constant presence, and everything becomes grist for the mill, making much of your life public – something that is often less than thrilling to your spouse.

It’s work.

And it is … writing.

I’ve had a number of critics sneer at me, you’re not a real writer! Well, okay. Fair enough. I’m not particularly put out by that and I’m willing to go with whatever description you want to call it.  Sincerely.

But what do you call it?

I sometimes crank out a quarter million words in a month for a dedicated audience larger than that of many highly successful novelists. Hell, news sites steal my work on nearly a daily basis, and publish my stuff as their own for profit – that’s got to mean something, right? Now, I’m willing to accept any label you want to slap on that, but before you do, I’d like to suggest you try it. Start a blog, social media sites, assemble words every day, build an audience without gimmicks or tricks solely on the basis of what you write, and then tell me what you call that effort.

As a cautionary note: no matter what you call yourself, no matter how much adoring admiration you manage to inspire in your audience, no matter how many people send you fan mail and messages of respect, no matter how successful you eventually manage to be and how full of yourself you become as a result, your family and friends still think you’re a putz and remind you of it as often as possible.  Ideally this keeps you grounded and from turning into a complete ass. Ideally.

And every day, every single day, no matter how well you’ve done, everyday, you’re sure that’ll be the day it all falls apart and you’ll have to go get a real job again.

I’ve been invited to a number of writer’s conventions to talk about this with other writers – or those who want to become writers under this new paradigm. That’s something I’m happy to do. I’ve been pretty lucky and I’m glad to pay that forward. The world is a big place, there’s plenty of room for many, many more writers – or whatever you call ‘em – in this new arena. More on that as plans firm up.

But, here’s the downside – or at least the part I like least.

Every once in a while I need to ask for money.

I don’t like this. I really don’t like this. I don’t like asking for money.

I’m getting more used it, especially since it doesn’t seem to bother readers at all – well except for that one guy who shows up periodically to call me names and generally make an ass of himself. But ideally, I write something and if you like it enough, you’ll kick in.  And thankfully, you do so often enough that I can mostly survive on that part. Mostly, but not quite.

So when I began this I found a way to assuage my conscience.

Any subscriber who donates any amount via the donation button or as a Patreon during the period of March 1st, 2020 to April 15, 2020 will be put in the running for a giveaway. Every few days over the next month, I’ll give away loot. I’ve got at least a hundred of my handmade ink pens, engraved with Stonekettle Station. I’ve signed copies of books that my work appears in. I’ve got signed copies of my photography – and given that I generally don’t sign those prints, these will be unique. And randomly, I’ll give away a couple of Stonekettle Station T-shirts (If you win one of those, I’ll have it made to your requirements, size, color, sex, etc).

Winners will be announced every few days until I run out things to give away.

To donate, click on the “Donation” button on the upper right side of this screen and follow the directions or click on the Patreon link for additional options.



Edit: Readers viewing Stonekettle Station on mobile devices sometimes can’t see the side-bar. As such, I’m attempting to embed the donate function code here in the text.







My Patreon is here



You may enter more than once. Each donation will be counted as a unique subscription.If you’ve already donated to Stonekettle Station this month, you’re already on the subscription list.

Those of you who already donate via an automatic monthly payment, you’ll be entered automatically in the giveaway.

I’ve discovered that winners sometimes, often it seems, do not want their names made public. I’d like to tell readers who got the various art pieces, but if you want your name kept private I will certainly do so. Last time I did this, the first person I selected to receive a prize refused because they lived on a boat and had no room for addition items. The alternate also refused for personal reasons and requested that the artwork go instead to a charity for auction to raise money for a cause important to them. They wanted it kept anonymous. So, that I did. I will honor any reasonable request when it comes to such things.

Legal Disclaimer: To be clear, this is not a lottery or a raffle.  Donations are voluntary subscription fees specifically in support of this blog and the associated social media feeds and conducted in accordance with state and federal requirements.

That is:  you’re paying for content not a chance to win something.

I am not claiming any tax-exempt status or charity. Donations are considered business income and I pay all applicable state and federal taxes on that income and I have the records to prove it.

The items I give away are my artwork, created and paid for by me.  As such I chose to randomly give them away to supporters, just as I gave away my custom made pens to my fellow writers.  The giveaway list is generated from voluntary subscriptions, since I have no other way to determine who readers are.  You are not donating for a chance to win a prize, you’re paying for the content of this blog and my associated social media feeds and I’m using this opportunity to give something back other than just my usual blog essays, Facebook posts, and Tweets.

As always, thank you for your support.

Fever


No science is immune to the infection of politics and the corruption of power.
--
Jacob Bronowski, British Mathematician, Historian

I hate talking about this fucking virus.

But it seems like that’s all I’ve done for the last few days.

I'm not trying to add to your anxiety.

Or mine, for that matter. But I have people who are going to die if they get it. Friends going in for surgery tomorrow. Friends with cancer. Elderly members of my family.

I’m not special in that regard, of course.

We all have people we care about who are at risk.

The thing is, I live in an impoverished part of the country.

A hell of a lot of people here don't have healthcare, and if they do it's lousy. They have plans with high out-of-pocket costs that they can’t afford even under the most dire of circumstance. Their plans don’t cover anything but the bare minimum, they’re difficult to use (by design), and expensive. That’s the kind of health insurance plans poor people get.

If they get anything at all.

A significant number of the people who live in this little Southern town, they're sick all the time already.

Because that’s how life is here.

That’s how life has always been. It’s a fixture of this place – and many other places in America.

The medical infrastructure here is, charitably speaking, mostly crap. Much of it is for-profit, or run by religion. People don’t have family doctors, they go to those lousy little pay-as-you-go clinics when their kids get strep throat or step on a rusty nail. Everything else they treat with discount over-the-counter meds they get from the Dollar Store.


I'm surrounded by people who can't afford the flu vaccination.


Now when I said that on Twitter, can’t afford a flu shot, naturally social media went immediately down the rabbit hole and spent the next 24 hours telling me how I could get “free” flu shots at any pharmacy.

Of course, it was never about the flu shot.

And leaving aside the part where a lot of people obviously don’t read the fine print when it comes to “Free Flu Shots (with most insurance),” I used that example only to illustrate a point about poverty.

Poor people don’t get vaccinated, they get sick. 

Sure, there are programs to get poor kids the mandatory vaccinations they need to attend public school, but optional vaccinations are a luxury most can’t afford. You can sometimes find the flu shot for $25 or so at places like Costco or a local pharmacy, but for a lot of people that’s a tank of gas or food for a week. So they get the flu, and shingles, and pneumonia. And they go to work with it. Because that’s just how it is when you’re poor.

Another example: In any impoverished area, a lot of people have bad teeth. Or missing teeth.

It’s one of the first thing you notice.

Why? Because it's a hell of a lot cheaper to get a tooth pulled than it is to get it fixed. Poor people can’t afford crowns or fillings or even routine cleanings if they don’t have dental coverage. They also tend to have lousy diets, because proper nutrition and the education to recognize it are also out of reach when you’re on the bottom rung. All the brushing in the world won’t help when you diet is mostly sugars and you’re drinking unfluoridated well water and can’t afford to the see the dental hygienist.

What’s the point of these examples?

What’s the point of talking about poverty in a pandemic?

Because when the government tells you to buy a couple weeks worth of supplies and just stay home if you think you might have been exposed, well it demonstrates that those in charge are profoundly ignorant of reality.

Poor people can’t just stay home.

People who live paycheck to paycheck can’t just stay home.

People here go to work sick, because they can't afford not to.

They send their children to school sick, because they can’t afford not to.

People here get the flu, because it's cheaper than the vaccine. And most of the time it doesn't kill them. They get teeth pulled, or let them rot out of their heads, because it’s the only option they have. People here just live with health issues, until they don't. Because they can't afford anything else.

The point of my comment about flu shots was to illustrate the larger issue.

And I used the flu as an example because the president himself brought it up during his coronavirus press conference two days ago:

Trump: You look at flu season.  I said 26,000 people?  I’ve never heard of a number like that.  Twenty-six thousand people going up to sixty-nine thousand people, Doctor — you told me before.  Sixty-nine thousand people die every year — from 26 [thousand] to 69 [thousand] — every year from the flu.  Now, think of that.  It’s incredible.

So far, the results of all of this that everybody is reading about — and part of the thing is you want to keep it the way it is.  You don’t want to see panic because there’s no reason to be panicked about it.

But when I mentioned the flu, I said — actually, I asked the various doctors.  I said, “Is this just like flu?”  Because people die from the flu.  And this is very unusual.  And it is a little bit different, but in some ways it’s easier and in some ways it’s a little bit tougher.

Think of that. That’s incredible, Trump says of the people who die from the flu.

Incredible.

He didn’t know.

He didn’t know. That’s the incredible part.

Trump: I want you to understand something that shocked me when I saw it that — and I spoke with Dr. Fauci on this, and I was really amazed, and I think most people are amazed to hear it: The flu, in our country, kills from 25,000 people to 69,000 people a year.  That was shocking to me.

And, so far, if you look at what we have with the 15 people and their recovery, one is — one is pretty sick but hopefully will recover, but the others are in great shape.  But think of that: 25,000 to 69,000.

Over the last 10 years, we’ve lost 360,000.  These are people that have died from the flu — from what we call the flu.  “Hey, did you get your flu shot?”  And that’s something.

Trump didn’t know how many people die from the flu every year.

Why would he? Because the majority of the people who die from the flu are poor, elderly, infirm, immunosuppressed, etc.

These are the very same people who are vulnerable to the Novel Coronavirus – a disease with a significantly higher mortality rate.

And Trump is using the flu to tell them not to worry, right?

I mean, you see it, right?

Of course, this really wasn’t about the flu. Or even about the coronavirus.

It was about how the privileged profit from poverty.

If you're a selfish greedy predatory asshole like Rush Limbaugh, you tell those poor people the coronavirus is just the flu, just a cold, because anything else makes Trump look bad. Because if Trump looks bad, then Rush looks bad. And trust me, every confederate flag waving son of bitch who doesn't have a pot to piss in down here listens to Limbaugh like he's the second coming of Dale Earnhardt Jr. 

And Trump himself?

Trump daily demonstrates that he’s more worried about how this pandemic will affect his reelection campaign, how it will impact the stock market and thus the 401Ks and the profits of those who might blame him for the disaster.

Poor people don’t have 401K retirement plans and stock portfolios.

Trump has spent $28 billion of your tax money propping up the very farmers he screwed, solely to ensure they keep voting for him. But do you see a single penny for poor people? Do you see the Trump administration offering up emergency flu shots or money for food or a week’s wages so that these people might be able to stay home if they’re exposed? Do you see Trump pushing for emergency regulations that would prevent businesses from firing those who stayed home, as instructed by the government?

Do you see Rush Limbaugh pushing for such?

No, you don’t.

Why?

Why indeed.

The point here is this: when the virus finally does hit that population, what do you think is going to happen?

These are people who get medical advice from Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh and I’ll tell you with 100% certainty what’s going to happen, they're going to keep going to work until they can't.

And they're going infect everybody around them, because that's just how it is. The poor, the elderly, the infirm, the immunosuppressed, the weak and the most vulnerable.

This whole "Don't go to work if you think you might be coming down with something" is privilege talking, the kind of thing people with wealth say. The kind of thing people with Stage 3 Lung Cancer, a person most vulnerable to something like the coronavirus, say when they don’t personally ever have to worry about being exposed, when there is no risk to them, when they value profit over people.

People on the bottom don't have that luxury.

They go to work, no matter what, because there isn't any other option.

They can't afford to buy a month's worth of supplies and bunker up. They can't even afford a $20 flu shot or a teeth cleaning. And conservative pundits are busy telling them it’s all a hoax anyway. Nothing to worry about.

And where do these people work? What jobs do the working poor do? Do you know? Because they’re fixing your fast food and waiting your tables and pushing carts at the local Walmart.

You maybe starting to get the picture now?

And so, the government’s primary preventative measure will fail right out of the box.

If you don't understand this, then you've never seen actual poverty up close.


That’s my point here.


The point isn’t how many people the disease kills or doesn't kill.

Citizens are worried. Right, wrong, it doesn't matter. Americans are worried and it's our leaders’ job to address those concerns sincerely, not call them a hoax and complain about the stock market.

And when it does come?

When the virus spreads into the local population, the ones too poor not to get sick?

Here, the local government can't handle an epidemic. They can't even afford to fix a fucking pothole.

And the state is run by science denying religious nuts who think hurricanes and diseases are punishment from their shitty miserable god for gay people or some such nonsense.

When it happens, with this outbreak or the next, there won’t be enough medical resources and competence to go around.

Those in charge know it.

They know.

This morning there was a press conference here in Florida. Turns out, the Florida Department of Health waited 24 hours after finding out about two emergent cases of coronavirus before informing the public.

Because they don’t know what to do, they don’t have any kind of plan, and they they can’t stop it.

This morning, Washington State is reporting five dead from the virus.

Meanwhile, in Texas, a patient infected with COVID-19 was accidentally released from the Texas Center for Infectious Disease and … went to the mall. She spent two hours there in the food court, then went to a hotel, before doctors managed to track her down. Officials say the risk that she infected others is low.

But then, they’d have to, wouldn’t they?


I don’t know, maybe we’ll get lucky and the virus will die out and we won’t get widespread infection.


Maybe we’ll get lucky and researchers will develop a vaccine, get it approved, and get it to the market in the next few weeks – as Trump has repeatedly claimed.

Just a very quick update on the countermeasure development in the form of vaccines and therapeutics.  I had told this audience at a recent press briefing that we have a number of vaccine candidates and one prototype, to give you a feel for the timeframe of a vaccine and what its impact might be now and in subsequent years — is that I told you we would have a vaccine that we would be putting into trials, to see if it’s safe and if it induces a response that you would predict would be protective in about three months.

I think it’s going to be a little bit less than that.  It’s probably going to be closer to two months.  That would then take about three months to determine if it’s safe and immunogenic, which gives us six months.  Then you graduate from a trial — which is phase one — of 45 people, to a trial that involves hundreds if not low thousands of people to determine efficacy.  At the earliest, an efficacy trial would take an additional six to eight months.

So although this is the fastest we have ever gone from a sequence of a virus to a trial, it still would not be any applicable to the epidemic unless we really wait about a year to a year and a half.
-- Dr. Antony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, at the Trump Press Conference.

Maybe we’ll get lucky and there’ll be enough vaccine for everybody and everybody will be able to afford it and the most vulnerable will get it first instead of the rich and powerful. Sure. Maybe.

But, if this goes sideways, well, then just like everywhere else, there’s not going to be enough resources to save those at the bottom.

The medical system will have to do battlefield triage, save the ones they can and to hell with the rest. We won’t have any choice and the medical experts have as much as told you so.

Don’t think so?

Two days ago Trump held a press conference.

The message was repeated over and over by Trump and the various medical types he pushed at the podium: if you're healthy, you're probably okay. You'll survive. If you're healthy. But if you're not, if you're old, or have cancer, or a compromised immune system, then without significant medical care, you're gonna be in trouble.

Right now, that medical care is available.

But once the virus is widespread, once thousands are infected, once the system is saturated, then what? What’s the plan then?

I'm at ground zero if this thing goes sideways.

Sure, my immune system is still pretty good, reasonably robust, but all the people I care about are at significant risk.

Trump: I think you have to always — look, I do it a lot anyway, as you’ve probably heard.  Wash your hands, stay clean.  (Laughter.)  You don’t have to necessarily grab every handrail unless you have to.  You know, you do certain things that you do when you have the flu. I mean, view this the same as the flu.  When somebody sneezes — I mean, I try and bail out as much as possible when they’re sneezing.  I had a man come up to me a week ago.  I hadn’t seen him in a long time, and I said, “How you doing?”  He said, “Fine.  Fine.”  And he — he hugs me, kiss.  I said, “Are you well?”  He says, “No.”  (Laughter.)  He said, “I have the worst fever and the worst flu.”  And he’s hugging and kissing me.  So I said, “Excuse me.”  I went and I started washing my hands.  (Laughter.)  So you have to do that. You know, this is — I really think, Doctor, you ought to treat this like you treat the flu, right?  And, you know, it’s going to be — it’s going to be (inaudible). Wait.  I want to have — I loved — that was so nice of you to say “thank you very much.”

ReporterWell, thank you, Mr. President.

TrumpGo ahead.  Give me a nice question then.  Don’t ruin it.  Don’t ruin it with a bad question.  Go ahead.

And fucking Nero is up there fiddling conspiracy theories over the stock market and his reelection instead of doing his job.

Trump: Yeah, sure.  Sure.  I think Speaker Pelosi is incompetent.  She lost the Congress once.  I think she’s going to lose it again.  She lifted my poll numbers up 10 points.  I never thought that I would see that so quickly and so easily.

I’m leading everybody.  We’re doing great.  I don’t want to do it that way.  It’s almost unfair if you think about it.  But I think she’s incompetent, and I think she’s not thinking about the country.  And instead of making a statement like that, where I’ve been beating her routinely at everything — instead of making a statement like that, she should be saying we have to work together, because we have a big problem, potentially.  And maybe it’s going to be a very little problem.  I hope that it’s going to be a very little problem.  But we have to work together.

Instead, she wants to do that — same thing with Cryin’ Chuck Schumer.  He goes out and he says, “The President only asked for two and a half billion dollars.  He should have eight and a half.”  This is the first time I’ve ever been told that we should take more.  Usually, it’s we have to take less.

And we should be working together.  He shouldn’t be making statements like that, because it’s so bad for the country.  And Nancy Pelosi — I mean, she should go back to her district and clean it up, because it’s the number one — if you look at percentage down, that was one of the finest in the world, and now you look at what’s happening.

And I’m just saying, we should all be working together. She’s trying to create a panic, and there’s no reason to panic because we have done so good. 

We have a government of corrupt, incompetent, greedy fools. Science deniers, religious nuts, hacks, flacks, goons, loons, and poltroons. Trump daily tells you he doesn't give a fuck about half the country and would just as soon see us eliminated.

This is a guy who can't work a toilet or an umbrella. Who thinks it's the light bulbs making him look orange and not the actual orange goop he smears on his face every day.

This is a guy who thinks wind turbines cause cancer and coal can be burned cleanly so long as you’re voting for Trump.

AND NO ONE DARES TELL HIM DIFFERENT.

Worse, all the people in charge of this crisis, a) don't think it's a crisis, and b) think medicine first and foremost should be for profit and are right now figuring out how they can make bank off the plague.

THEY'RE CERTAINLY NOT GOING TO CALL HIM OUT.

So, yes, I'm a bit concerned.

I’m concerned because all the people I care about are at risk.

So, forgive me if I don't have the greatest confidence in these greedy ass-kissing Rapture monkeys to manage anything but their own stock portfolios with any degree of competency.

This plague or the next, sooner or later, America is going to pay the price for not having a universal healthcare system.

Sooner or later, we’re going to pay the price for putting profit over people.

We’re going to pay the price for electing fools to run our country.

The bill is going to come due.


Nobody is capable of really thinking about anyone, even in the worst calamity.
-- Albert Camus, The Plague

Friday, February 14, 2020

Those Who Forget History


In Congress, July 4, 1776…

Whenever I mention certain subjects, people shout at me to read the Constitution.

…The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America…

That’s right. Read the Constitution.

The Constitution of the United States of America.

The Constitution, the foundation of law and government in this country.

…When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation…

But that’s not what they actually mean.

No, what they actually mean is the Declaration of Independence.

That’s what they want me to read.

…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…

We hold these truths to be self-evident.

Constitution. Declaration. Whatever. It’s all the same thing. Probably.

Most Americans can’t with any reliability recite the first paragraph of the Declaration, or the later paragraphs for that matter, but that part they know by heart. We hold these truths to be self-evident. Life. Liberty. The pursuit of happiness.

By the Great White Christian God, that’s America. Life. Liberty. Happiness. That’s right.

And maybe a bit of the next part:

…That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

Consent of the governed! Consent of the governed! Yes! Yes! That! Consent. That’s what we’re talking about. You gotta have our consent. It says so right there in the Constitution of Independence. Or the Bible. Or something. It’s right there.

Because, otherwise:

…That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…

There it is. That part. That’s the part we Americans love. Revolution. Bang Bang! We get to shoot something! Hot damn, Revolution!

Whenever I ask which article in the Constitution grants Americans the right to overthrow their government by violence, through force of arms whenever they please, that’s the part Republicans and Democrats alike quote at me. The right of the people to overthrow the government! Revolution. Rebellion. Shoot down the government. Consent of the governed. That’s it, right there. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, Second Amendment, whatever, man, the point is Americans have the inalienable right to shoot down the government whenever they want.

That’s every American’s inalienable right.

That’s what all the guns are for. That, right there.

And that’s where Americans’ knowledge of their founding documents usually ends. Right about there. Life, liberty, pursuit of happiness, shoot down the government, guns, freedom to be a Christian, something something gazpacho and that’s why America is better than everybody else. Can I get an Aaaaaamen!

And really, what more do you need, right?

What more indeed?

But, funny thing, there is more:

…Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed…

Wait, what? Prudence?

Prudence? The quality of being prudent, the exercise of wisdom, caution, judgement, sagacity. Prudence. From Americans? That’s hilarious. And government should not be changed for light and transient causes? What the hell is that? Because that sounds like our ancestors were putting some conditions on our inalienable rights. And what exactly are the founders saying here? That violent overthrow of government is more likely to result in disaster than in a better nation? But, but…

Weird how you never hear those eager for revolution quote that part, isn’t it? Prudence.

…But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security…

Ah! Good. Good. Throw off the government and we’re back on track. Cool.

…Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world…

Okay, I think that’s pretty much all of it … wait, where’s the John Hancock?


There’s supposed to be a John Hancock.


What’s that you say?

That was only the introduction? A Preamble?

Yeah, that’s right.

You see, the parts most Americans are at least passingly familiar with, life, liberty, etc., that’s just the opening statement.

That’s not even the actual point of the document.

What actually led to America declaring itself independent from England wasn’t all that stuff up above, but rather some very specific grievances with the government of that nation. That’s actually the heart of the Declaration of Independence, those specific grievances.

Quick, how many are there?

How many can you name?

Don’t know? Yeah, that’s the really ironic part.

Because most Americans can’t recite a single one of those grievances.

Maybe some vague handwaving about taxation without representation – a phrase that doesn’t actually appear in the Declaration at all. But beyond that? Nothing. They’d have to go to Google.

But, when you read the whole Declaration of Independence and you look beyond those opening paragraphs and you read that very specific list of grievances, twenty-seven in total, well, then you can see pretty damned quick which part actually mattered to our Founders and which part was just flowery window-dressing.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

That’s the first one.

That’s what started it, the Revolution.

He, King George III, has refused his assent to laws.

What’s that mean? Well, in those days it meant that for legislation to become law, the King had to give his approval. And he often refused, either through pig-headed stubbornness or from neglect of his duty. Even when the legislation was “the most wholesome and necessary for the public good” and was something overwhelmingly desired by the population, the King refused to give assent. When our forefathers were considering bloody violent revolution that might very well end with their own precious selves swinging from a gallows, this was their first complaint.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

When they sent the Declaration to King George III, they wanted him to see this first.

Failure to pass laws necessary for the public good.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

As of January 1st, 2020, there are more than 300 bipartisan bills, legislation most wholesome and necessary for the public good, that have passed the House and are right now gathering dust on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

McConnell openly refuses to bring this legislation to the floor of the Senate.

McConnell, Trump, and their supporters in Congress, not only refuse to give assent to these laws, they won’t even allow the legislation to be debated by Americans’ elected representatives.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

They openly refuse to do their duty.

And they maliciously prevent others from doing theirs.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

And that – that right there – was the first and most important justification our own forefathers used to throw off their government and declare their independence from it.

I read that list, government refusal to make and pass laws for the public good, representatives who refuse to meet with the people, a tyrant who demands obedience and compliance from state and local governments, leaders who hold themselves unaccountable to the people, and I can’t help but think of Donald Trump’s tweet yesterday: “I’m seeing Governor Cuomo today at The White House. He must understand that National Security far exceeds politics. New York must stop all of its unnecessary lawsuits & harrassment [sic], start cleaning itself up, and lowering taxes. Build relationships, but don’t bring Fredo!”

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

Two hundred and fifty years ago, our own ancestors were fighting with a mentally ill xenophobic autocrat who wanted to ban immigration and put conditions on who could be an American and the more things change, right?

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

Trump himself said this morning that even though he supposedly never asked the Attorney General to do anything in a criminal case, “This doesn’t mean that I do not have, as President, the legal right to do so, I do, but I have so far chosen not to!”

He doesn’t. He is not a king. He has no more rights than any of us. The power of his office was limited by design, because our ancestors daily lived under a tyrant whose power was without limits of any kind and they detailed in the Declaration of Independence the very abuses which resulted.

I don’t know if our ancestors would be surprised by courts whose verdicts depend on a tweet from the President or just sadly familiar.

The Attorney General himself announced this morning that he would be personally reviewing the case of General Flynn, a Trump crony who literally pleaded guilty not just once, but twice. This on the heels of the resignation of four US Attorneys who quit over interference from the Justice Department in the sentencing of yet another member of Trump’s inner circle. Trump surrounds himself with criminals and louts of all stripes, but it is those who brought them justice that William Barr would prosecute.

Again, with the enthusiastic help of Mitch McConnell, Trump is stacking the courts, appointing judges who are grossly unqualified, openly partisan, and absolutely dependent on himself. 

We will suffer the consequences of this for generations.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

For a political ideology that claims to hate government, who violently opposed government when it was helmed by a black guy, this administration has suddenly developed an abiding love of Executive Orders and compliance with federal authority. From Blue Lives Matter to the Border Patrol to the Transportation Security Administration to School “Resource” Officers, you’d damned well better knuckle under, keep your eyes down, be respectful, show your papers.

Meanwhile, Trump’s proposed budget would slash the very social safety nets nearly every American depends on to survive.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

We long ago gave up the idea of not maintaining a standing military force. The nature of the world made a permanent professional army a requirement of our national security. But, that requirement has grown into an all-consuming monster. We have reached a point where our military doesn’t exist to protect our society, but our society exists to feed it.

I’ve written extensively about America’s increasingly dangerous tendency towards mandatory worship of the military, a trend that has accelerated under Trump and Republicans. We have an entire generation of Americans who have grown to adulthood since 9-11 and in those two decades they have never known a single moment when America was not at war. Three thousand Americans died on 9-11, and for that we have embarked on 20 years of revenge. 20 years. Tens, hundreds, of thousands dead as a result. We are trillions of dollars in debt.

And yet – and yet – the world is no better off and victory is nowhere to be found.

Trump brags about increased military spending, about spending $2 Trillion dollars on new tanks and invisible planes with no missions and warships that will never engage an enemy on the high seas.

Three thousand dead Americans and we’re entering the third decade of war as a result.

We do this, supposedly, so that no more Americans will die from terrorism on American soil.

Meanwhile, in that same time, in the same decades that we have been sending our children to fight and die in a foreign land, something like 600,000 Americans died from gun violence. And we do nothing. We spend not a single penny to prevent such deaths in the future.

Out of 330 million Americans, 537,000, give or take, will die from cancer this year. Some, perhaps many, could be saved. But cancer drugs are expensive. Hideously so. Sometimes upwards of $20,000 per month for specialized treatment. How many of those Americans would $2 trillion save?

How many Americans die from hunger, preventable sickness, homelessness, every year? How many of them would $2 trillion save?

How many abortions would $2 trillion prevent, if those expectant mothers knew they could get support, medical care, financial aid?

Why is it that Trump crows about spending vast sums on the military, but not a single penny on the very people he swore himself to defend?

Why is it that Trump defends those in uniform convicted of terrible crimes and abuse, but dismisses and attacks those who serve with honor and integrity and a sense of duty above self?

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

This week, Republicans led by Trump and McConnell rejected three separate bills designed to secure our democracy against foreign interference.

Trump repeatedly sides with dictators and foreign authoritarians over Americans.

Republican judges, legislators, and the president repeatedly defend vulnerabilities that give foreign actors undue influence over American lives, and repeatedly block any attempt to defend America from this manipulation.

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

What would the men who wrote that, who literally went to war and fought a bloody revolution because of that, think of Trump’s trade war?

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

I suspect if our ancestors were writing that line today, it might say something like “For imposing the entire burden of national support on the poor and middle class while the wealthy pay little to nothing, while billionaires pay a lower tax rate than a Walmart greeter, while mega corporations reap billions in yearly profits and not only pay no taxes at all but receive a return from the government. For imposing again upon the poor and the middle class the entire burden of repeatedly bailing out Wall Street when bankers and investment company CEOs who are wealthy beyond imagination yet again destroy the economy without consequence to themselves and again wipe out our savings, investments, retirements, college plans, homes, jobs, healthcare, sustenance, and livelihoods, all the while lecturing us about ‘responsibility.’”

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!

We live in a country where people of color are shot down by the government in the street for the crime of being black. Where selling loose cigarettes on the street is punishable by summary execution.

We live in a country where the president uses his office to publicly accuse an athlete of being a criminal, again a black man, for not being respectful enough.

We live in a country where that same president daily suggests his political enemies are traitors, criminals, and unamerican.

We live in a country where a Republican congressman is suing a social media account that pretends to be a cow because he thinks criticizing a congressman should be a crime – well, so long as that congressman is him.

We live in a country where the Senate, whose very job is to act as a check on presidential power, just acquitted the President of abuse of that power without calling a single witness or reviewing a single piece of evidence and where Republican senators openly bragged about receiving donations from the president’s own defense attorneys before their vote.

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

Trump certainly didn’t invent Rendition and Detention, but no president has embraced extra-constitutional measures in the name of National Security the way he has. He daily suggests that he has unlimited powers granted by some imaginary article of the Constitution – the very thing the Constitution was literally created to prevent – and Republicans let him get away with it. And now, post-impeachment, he is made bolder in his abuse of power and believes himself without limit. He has publicly sworn revenge on those who accused him and openly suggested that the military criminally prosecute those who testified against him. How long then, before Trump declares these people enemies of the state, terrorists, traitors, and uses such extra-judicial tools against them?

Remember, this is a man who tried to use the power of his office to extort a foreign nation into attacking the family members of his political opponents and who sent his own personal lawyer to oust a US ambassador from her office up to and including conspiring to have her assassinated by a foreign agency.

And who got away with it.

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

We’re probably safe, at least at the moment, from Trump dissolving the government of Quebec and installing his own puppet state in its place. But this is where I remind you of his repeated attacks on US states that he doesn’t like, California and New York chief among them, and how he compares such states to those which support him. This is where I also remind you again that Trump is using the power of his office to right now extort New York into dropping its investigation of his taxes and business practices.

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For fundamentally altering the forms of our governments.

And Republicans under Trump have most certainly done that. From gerrymandering to blatant voter disenfranchisement – including voter ID requirements that are impossible to comply with, closing of voter registration offices in minority neighborhoods, purging of voter rolls, open intimidation at the polls, refusal to reinstate the voting rights of former felons who have successfully completed their sentence – to utter refusal to secure election systems, to dark money and superPACs, to stacking the courts, to submission to religious fanaticism, to open nepotism, to walled borders, etc., Republicans seem determined to alter our Republic into a form unrecognizable to a free democratic people.

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

And we’re back to a Senate Majority Leader whose desk is buried under a mountain of dead legislation and who has essentially seized absolute power and daily refuses to do his duty despite overwhelming protest from both sides of the aisle. And McConnell holds the Republic by the throat solely at the behest of Donald Trump.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

Trump hasn’t sent the army against us, yet, though he has certainly threatened to do so. And you have only to listen to his works, listen to his rallies and speeches, read his daily Twitter feed to see that he absolutely believes we are the enemy. He is not the President of the United States, he is the CEO of TrumpCo and only those who pay fealty to him are granted protection.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

No British warship, no Redcoat, ever posed as great of threat to the American people as the looming disaster of Climate Change. Our seas, our coasts, our towns and cities, our very lives, all stand in danger. This grave threat is more and more apparent, and more imminent, every day. Even Republicans can no longer deny it. And, yet, every day Trump does nothing. Worse than nothing, he denies the threat even exists – not because he doesn’t believe that it’s real, but because it might cut into profits. He refuses to take action in any form. He’ll be dead long before the bill comes due, but our children and the generations who follow will have to deal with the self-serving foolishness of this malicious inaction.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

And again, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Trump might not have started the practice of outsourcing America’s wars to hired killers, but he embraced the concept whole hog and he not only promotes the use of mercenaries and the corporate privatization of war (and thus its profit), he ushers mercenaries right into the White House.

As the men who declared our independence noted, this is the practice of the most barbarous of ages and utterly unworthy of the head of a civilized nation.

We shouldn’t be offering outfits like Blackwater a job, we should outlaw their very existence.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

Impressment of US merchant sailors on the high seas probably isn’t something we need worry about at the moment, but it’s damned telling when out of the 27 grievances which led our ancestors into a bloody war for independence, it’s only this one that doesn’t apply today.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

While we likely don’t need fear Trump encouraging Native Americans to slaughter the rest of us – and in fact, Native Americans are a hell of a lot more likely nowadays to rise up in protest against a government intent on driving oil pipelines across their land and fracking their water tables – Trump has most certainly excited domestic insurrections among us. You have only to look to Neo-Nazis marching in the streets of our nation’s capital, you have only to look to Charlottesville, you have only to see the III% Militia recruiting booths at every fair and gathering across our country, you have only to notice the sudden prevalence of Punisher skulls on the backs of pickup trucks flying Confederate flags to see it. You have only to listen to Trump’s own words, watch his rallies, read his Twitter feed, encouraging hate and violence against those he considers not American enough.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

Substitute “Republicans” for “British brethren” in that last paragraph.

Compare “We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations […] They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity” to the recent impeachment proceedings in the Senate and tell me honestly that you don’t see the similarities.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Two and half centuries ago, our forefathers sent that Declaration to the King of England and said of themselves in the words of Benjamin Franklin, “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

Today, the very Americans who quote the Preamble of the Declaration as justification for their unwavering support of Donald Trump are utterly and completely ignorant of the rest of that document and the actual reasons our forefathers rose up in rebellion against tyranny.

The Republicans of today fancy themselves patriots and champions of freedom, but they would not be those Minutemen who answered the call of liberty and pledged their sacred honor to each other. No, those who support this government are the same sorry sons of bitches who two centuries ago would have cheerfully knuckled under to a King solely in order to own the liberals.

They tell themselves they would gladly hang, together or separately, but that is a lie.

Instead, they are the ones pulling the rope.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Stalking Horse


Entities should not be multiplied without necessity.
-- Occam’s Razor

The Senate is going to sell us out today.

The Senate, led by Mitch McConnell, is going to sell us out.

The Senate, now an organ of the Executive, is going to sell us out. 

The Senate is going to take a pass on duty and integrity and it’s going to sell out the Republic to own the libs.

You’re disappointed, sure. But unless you’re a complete fool, you’re not really surprised.

We are all disappointed. But we knew it was coming. Didn’t we? And to be honest, I’m surprised Impeachment made it this far.

We all knew it would end this way. Sure, we did.

Still, you have to wonder: Why aren’t Republicans willing to do their duty?

Why? I asked that question on social media, on Twitter and Facebook.


If you followed those posts, stick around. This isn’t a repeat. This is the follow up.

It was a popular question, as you can see from the various likes and shares. Seems a lot of people, at least on my timelines, want to know: Why aren’t Republicans willing to do their duty? Why cover for Donald Trump? Why protect him? Why?

I mean, Trump is guilty. He's as much as admitted it. Bragged about it even…

What?

What’s that? Oh, I see.  You’ve got a problem with my assertion that Trump admitted to his guilt?

Just don’t. Trump’s going to get off, you win. You owned the libs. Good for you. You can at least be honest about it. Republicans have gone though the whole cycle: he didn’t do it; okay, maybe he did do it, maybe that’s a picture of him actually doing it, maybe there are some documents, maybe some recordings, maybe he did it; that said, we’re not admitting he did it, but even if he did do it, he’s the president so if he did do it, it would be fine; OKAY, fine! Fine! He did do it, we admit it, he did it and he’d do it again and it's not only totally fine it’s legal because he sincerely believed it was in America’s best interest, so there!

That’s the President’s own lawyer. Alan Dershowitz. And sure, I’m paraphrasing, but that’s essentially his argument: Trump did it, but it’s not a crime because he did it for America.

"If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest, that cannot be the kind of quid pro quo that results in impeachment."
--
Alan Dershowitz, arguing before the Senate, 29 January, 2020

If a president does something which he believes will help him get elected in the public interest…

  He believes will help him get elected, in the public interest.

In the public interest.

Dershowitz – and by extension, the Senate, if they allow this argument to win the day, and they will – is saying that so long as the president believes his election is in the public interest, then whatever he does, up to and including coercing a foreign government to take action against his own political enemies specifically so that he might be elected/re-elected to office, cannot be considered grounds for impeachment.

He’s not saying Trump didn’t do it.

He’s saying Trump did.

And that’s okay, says Dershowitz, because so long as Trump believes his presidency is in America’s best interest, he’s untouchable, unaccountable to Congress or the American people.

It’s the second coming of the same old Republican “sincerely held beliefs” defense.

Dershowitz along with Republicans like Mitch McConnell, they know there’s more than enough cause to hold a rigorous trial. To examine all the evidence, hear all the witnesses. They know it. And as I've previously noted, if this was 1974, Republicans would have already gone to Trump and demanded his resignation rather than have that evidence made public – or more public.

But these are not the Republicans of 1974.

You didn’t have to ask what Republicans would lose back then.

Back then, Republicans knew what they would lose.

And they did it anyway.

When Barry Goldwater, Hugh Scott, and John Rhodes went to Nixon and demanded his resignation, the Republicans in Congress that they were speaking for all knew what they were going to lose.  And they did. They lost the White House and the next election, and a number of Republican Representatives and Senators lost their jobs.

There was no way they didn’t know that was coming.

But, still, they did the right thing.

When it came down to it, they did the right thing. They put country over party, integrity over power, duty over partisanship.

And exactly one election cycle later, they got Ronald Reagan.

And, in fact, Republicans then held the White House for twelve years.

And it seems they didn’t really lose much at all.

And so you have to wonder: What do the Republicans of today lose?

What do they lose if they stand up, declare they are putting America first, that the integrity of the office matters, that the president -- government -- must be always held to a higher standard? What do Republicans lose if they show themselves acting with courage, integrity, and a sense of duty? What do they lose if they take charge of impeachment and lead from the front? What do they lose if they demand the truth? Evidence? Witnesses? What do Republicans lose if they stand up and show America that they are willing to do the right thing? Put country over party, duty over politics, truth over lies? Do they lose their jobs, or do they earn reelection out of respect? Do they hold the White House for the next twelve years?

What do they really lose?

What do Republicans lose if they remove Trump from office for cause?

They don't lose the office. Instead they'd get President Pence, a hardcore Ultra-Christian conservative with a proven track record of right wing fanaticism. If they remove Trump, they don't lose the White House, at least not right away. They don't lose the Senate. They don't lose the Supreme Court. They don't lose any of the conservative agenda they've passed so far. In fact, they might even be able to force Democrats into passing more of the Republican agenda in exchange for Trump's removal.

So, what do they lose?

When I asked that question, a number of people who responded to the original thread on Twitter and Facebook said: They lose Trump’s base. They lose voters.

But do they?

Do they really?

Do they end up out of office like those who followed Goldwater?

Maybe.

But did you see how fast Conservatives turned on John Bolton? How fast they turned on John Kelly? Mad Dog Mattis?

They’re calling John Bolton a liberal now. John Bolton.

And maybe, if Republicans played it right, if they did it right, maybe they'd seize the moral high ground, yank the rug right out from under democrats, and take control of the situation. Maybe they’d be the leaders.

If Republicans played it right, they could own the liberals once and for all.

Sure, they’d lose some of the hardcore Stormtrumpers. Of course, they would. But, the woman with the “Trump can grab my pussy!” T-shirt? So what if they lose her vote? Who’s she gonna vote for if they throw Trump out of office, Bernie Sanders?

She doesn’t get any more choice than you do.

And so she’s gonna vote for the Republican, whether that’s Trump or Mike Pence or whoever is on the ballot. Or she’s gonna stay home. Because she sure as hell isn’t going to vote for an abortion loving’ Democrat, no matter what. And if Republicans can pick up Independents and Undecideds, they don’t need her.

Here’s the kicker: We’re going into this next election with basically the same Electoral College we had last time, that’s what matters.

Republicans know this. And if Republicans showed themselves to be men and women of courage and integrity, who put country over party, over their own jobs, then the odds are they’d win every Independent and Undecided and every swing state Electoral College vote. Especially, the people who didn’t want Trump in 2016 but really, really hated Hillary Clinton even more. The same people who this time are already pissed off at the idea of Joe Biden, or Elizabeth Warren, or Bernie.

Republicans like Mitch McConnell are cold, calculating, cunning, conniving sons of bitches who plan for the long game.

They have no loyalty to Trump.

Their fealty is to power.

And if they played this right, they could turn Impeachment into a victory far beyond just owning the libs.

So why don’t they?

What do they lose?

What do Republicans lose? It's not like if Republicans force Trump to resign they are suddenly going to have to get gay married to vegetarian Muslims, have an abortion, or stop shooting down black men in the street. If they remove Trump, rich people still won't have to pay taxes, we won't melt down all the aircraft carriers into universal healthcare, and Barack Obama still won't show up on their doorsteps to take their guns.

So, what do they lose?

Because it must be something, right?

What do Republicans lose if they own impeachment and remove Trump from office?

They lose Trump.

Trump. They lose Trump. They lose an amoral bombastic fool, a patsy, that can be easily manipulated into implementing the very worst of their agenda without getting their own hands dirty.

They know this guy is a fool.

Those with their hands on the real levers of power? In this country and beyond? You know they look down on Trump with nothing but utter contempt, you can see it in every sneer, every smirk, every roll of the eyes.

But that’s the key to it.

Because Trump is so desperate to prove himself their equal, so desperate for their attention and acceptance, that he’ll do anything to get it. Trump is so pitiful, so utterly in need of praise, that he can be openly manipulated by news broadcasters and baited by a tweet.

Hillary Clinton, love her or hate her, had that part right: A man you can bait with a tweet isn’t someone we can trust with nuclear weapons.

And that’s the thing, right there.

That’s what Republican have to lose.

Trump is the guy who makes it okay to say those things out loud. They remember when they could call a black man a nigger to his face. They remember when they could tell a gay joke and laugh at the fags in the middle of a board meeting without worrying about a visit from Human Resources. They remember when, as a teacher, hating some towelheads in front of their sixth grade classroom was considered “patriotic.” That’s what they love about Trump, he says the words out loud. They remember. And they miss those days. And when Trump says “Make America Great Again,” well, that’s what they’re expecting. Those days, when they didn’t have to be embarrassed or ashamed of their hate – not that many of them were, mind you, but now with Trump, they don’t have to hide it any more.

Trump is the guy who told them they don’t have to be ashamed of being a horrible person. If they lose Trump, then they lose an excuse for their hate, their selfishness, their racism, their misogyny, their homophobia, their horrible religion, their wars, their greed, their fear, all of it. Trump is the guy who makes it okay to stand shoulder to shoulder with Nazis, with Confederates, with the Klan, with the Proud Boys, and still pretend that you’re standing up for “The American Way of Life.”

If they lose Trump, they lose a chump to blame for it all when the bill comes due.


That’s what they lose.


Now, when I said this on social media, things went sideways.

It wasn’t Republicans I got pushback from.

The responses from conservatives were mostly: Yeah, so? Not, “you’re wrong!” But rather, “So, what? Suck it, lib!” They didn’t dispute what I’d said about Trump, or about the failure of a Republican dominated Senate, or even the integrity of the office. Essentially it was the same response Dershowitz gave the Senate, so? So what?

I called Republicans horrible people and they didn’t dispute it. Instead they reveled in it. Ha ha, suck it, losers! MAGA!

No, it was liberals who told me I was wrong.

It was liberals who told me Republicans in congress weren’t really that bad.

Oh, they’re bad, sure, said my lefty responders, but there has to be more to it. They can’t be just horrible people. They can’t just be racists, or sexists, or religious fanatics, or homophobes, or jingoistic xenophobes. No. There has to be more than just that.


Kompromat.

Yes, kompromat.

They think it means “blackmail” and they’re pretty sure that’s what’s going on.

See, Trump has something on Republicans, all the Republicans, every Senator, every Representative, the Russians hacked the RNC server, goes the theory, and Putin gave Trump Kompromat on all the Republicans, child porn, gay sex, dirty money, something, on every single Republican and now Donald Trump, the guy who can’t work a toilet and thinks wind turbines cause cancer, is actually some master manipulator of such astounding skill that he’s somehow managed to blackmail hundreds, maybe thousands, of people in the House, Senate, various government agencies, the US Intelligence Community, and the Press, etc., into unquestioning obedience, all without leaving a trace. Or, alternatively, he paid them. Trump, the guy who doesn’t even pay his own contractors, paid off the whole Republican party with Russian money … or something, I’m a little vague on the details.

And if that doesn’t work, well, then a Russian assassination squad will show up to take Republicans window shopping in Moscow. And, according to my Twitter, Vladimir Putin himself called each Republican personally to threaten them, probably in an ominous Hollywood Russian accent.

Because it’s easier to believe that the people who are right now selling out the Republic are doing so because of some vast complex invisible multinational conspiracy, than to believe they are just … bad people.

As if the Nazis needed to blackmailed into being genocidal monsters.

As if the Confederacy or the Klan needed be blackmailed into racism.

As if the Proud Boys had to be blackmailed into hating women.

As if all the people who’ve listened to Rush Limbaugh for the last 20 years only did so because Vladimir Putin threatened to kill their kids.

As if human nature wasn’t enough.

I don’t know.

Maybe it speaks well of you that you believe these are decent people who have to be blackmailed into doing terrible things.

Maybe you’re a better person than me, probably you are, in that you believe there has to be more than just hate and fear, ignorance, deliberate stupidity, greed, selfishness, and lust for power.

Maybe.


Whatever the reason, whatever the cause, it’s over today one way or the other.


Because the Senate is going to sell us out.

Mitch McConnell now has the votes to lock out witnesses and evidence -- and thus, there's not much point in dragging this out any further. It's essentially over. And they’re going to acquit Trump.

They are.

You knew this was coming.

You knew. I knew. We all knew this was how it was going to end. There was never any chance that the Republican Senate was ever going to do its duty. All those things I said up above about integrity, duty, courage, we all all knew they would never embrace those traits.

Because the Republicans of today are not the Republicans of 1974.

And Trump isn’t Nixon and he’s not going to be held to account by Republicans. He’s going to weasel out, as he always does. As the rich and privileged and powerful always do. You knew it. You said so, right here, on my Facebook page, in my Twitter timeline. You knew. So did I. So did we all. Of course, we foolishly let ourselves hope it would be different, sure we did. We got excited there for a minute. Maybe this time Susan Collins and Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski would actually stand up and … well, yeah, like I said, foolish.

So, naturally, now you're feeling let down and disappointed and disgusted and depressed. Because, for a moment, for a bare moment, you dared hope that Republicans might not be terrible.

But you knew.

You always knew.

And so, inevitably, here we are.

And it’s damned depressing. Because we shouldn’t be here. We should have done better. We should have been better citizens. Elections have consequences.

You can thank 2014 for this one, we handed the Senate to Mitch McConnell. And six years later, here we are.

Elections have consequences.

Even the ones you don’t show up for.

Don't get me wrong here: it had to be done.

It had to be done.

Because if you want to hold the moral high ground, then you have to first climb the hill. Even if you end up dying on it.

History judges us by what we do.

And by what we don't.

Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.
-- Hanlon’s Razor