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Monday, November 22, 2021

Recap: November 22, 2021

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Senator Ted Cruz:

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

Oh. My. God! Not the sweet potatoes! 


First Joe Biden took away our turkeys and our hams. 

Now he's come for our pie!

And... boxed gravy, apparently. 

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

I didn't. 

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

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


Except, the shelves were stocked. 

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

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

Turns out, Ted Cruz is a goddamn liar. 

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

I'm like, wut?

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes a lot skanky. 

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

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

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


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

Christmas Oreos. 

"5 cool winter designs!" no less. 

That's like 20 different kinds of Oreos. 

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

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

I don't know. 

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

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


Friday, November 19, 2021

Eclipse

 

That's it.

That's my shot. 





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

It's now 4AM. I'm going to bed. 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Announcing Alternative War




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




 

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

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

Some science fiction. 

A bit of historical fiction.

Some detective work. 

And a leavening of poetry. 

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

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

And, oh yeah, one more: Yours Truly. 

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

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

Available now from Amazon. 


Thursday, November 11, 2021

How The Heroes Die, Veterans Day 2021

 

Please don't thank me for my "service." I was in the military, not the "Service." Service is doing something good. Service is what the person does who fixes your car.  When the word "service" is applied to the military, it helps to justify violence as a method for conflict resolution. Like "defending our freedom," or "bringing democracy," the word "service" is used to lower the barriers of aggression. The military solution to conflict is death and destruction. That's not "service." Call it what it is - the military. If you have to hurt someone to solve a problem, you are the Problem. 
Arnold Stieber, US Army Veteran, 1970

 

I didn’t go to war so that my son could follow.

I didn’t go to war to be thanked for it.

And I certainly didn’t go to war so that I could be called a hero.

Last week, a reader on Facebook asked how I felt about exactly that, being thanked for my military service.

Specifically, I was asked if I agreed with Arnie Stieber, the Vietnam veteran quoted above.

I do.

And I don’t.

Stieber’s experience was not mine.

His time was not my time. His war was not my war. His military was not my military.

The United States and the US military have changed greatly since Vietnam – due in no small part to the efforts and activism of veterans like Arnold Stieber.  While I don’t entirely agree with his position I don’t disagree with it either. I understand completely where he is coming from and I can sympathize with his point of view and I can unreservedly grant that he earned it.

He's entitled to his position, but his position is not mine.

Not exactly.

I don't feel disrespected or diminished if my own service goes unacknowledged.

I don’t feel proud and heroic if it is.

I mostly don’t care if others acknowledge my veteran status or not.

Unlike Stieber and many of his fellows, I wasn’t compelled to serve. I had a choice, Stieber didn’t. War was my profession for more than two decades, I served as both enlisted and as an officer, I joined the military and stayed of my own volition – and that makes all the difference.

As I said in reply to the question, I don't advertise my military service but I don’t try to hide it either. 

I served in peace and in war, I wish for the former and despise the latter. 

Like Stieber, I have little use for those who glorify and promote war as a way to solve the world’s problems.

Unlike Stieber I pragmatically acknowledge that sometimes war is necessary. 

I don't march in parades and I don't go to protests. I don’t wave the flag and I don't attend reunions. 

I’m proud of my service, I treasure some of my experience and try to forget the rest of it. I miss the men and women I served with. I was damned good at what I did and there are days I wish I was still out there doing it – but most days I’m damned glad I’m not. 

No sane man prays for war.

No moral man hopes for death and destruction, not even for his enemies.

Nowadays I’m certain that my haircut and bearing broadcast my status to those paying attention - along with the fact that I often wear the ratty fading sweatshirts from my former commands and so it’s no secret that I’m a veteran. But I emphatically do not feel entitled to thanks from Americans for my military service – or whatever you call it, I’m not inclined to argue the semantics of it.  I went of my own free will and for my own reasons, America owes me nothing for it. I’d like to think America will make good on what I was promised, but I cynically don’t expect it – and more on that in just a minute.

I do not demand respect as my right nor gratitude for my service.

But if thanks are given, I will gladly accept them in the spirit offered and return the compliment. 

If a business offers me a military discount, I will gratefully accept it. If they don't, that's perfectly fine too. 

Choice, freedom to choose, the right to decide to offer thanks or not, well, that's what we were doing out there, defending that. At least that’s what I was doing, others can speak for themselves.

And if you believe in liberty, if you're willing to give your life for it, then you must acknowledge people will use that freedom however they please. Some will use it to thank you for your service.

Personally I think you're a bit of a shitheel as a human being if your response to a simple thank you is a political screed and a lecture on semantics, then again that's your right. As I said, I don’t speak for other veterans.

But me? As I said, I take thanks in the spirit offered and return the compliment, one citizen to another, and it bothers me not at all.

 

But I draw the line at hero.

 

I utterly despise the recent trend towards fawning, blind hero worship of the military.

In the same conversation described above, a commenter proclaimed all veterans “heroes.”

She gushed on and on with glassy-eyed effluvious enthusiasm about “sacrifice” and “patriotism” and a dozen other clich├ęd platitudes and ended her comment by saying that her eyes well up with tears whenever she sees a military member out in public wearing a uniform. 

I asked her not to call me a hero, but I should have just walked away – and after she condescended to tell me what a “real” veteran is, I did, because like Arnie Stieber there are things I just cannot abide.

And hero worship is one of them.

We, most of us veterans, we’re not heroes.

I certainly am not.  Oh, sure, I’ve got a box of decorations in the back of my closet, we all do. Maybe I have a few more decorations than most, a few less than others. Maybe someday long after I’m gone my son will find that box and wonder at those bits of fading cloth and tarnished metal.  Maybe he’ll read the commendations and be proud of his old man, just as I once did.  But goddamn it, I’d far rather have him boggle in horror at the idea of war, I’d far rather have war be so long forgotten that those decorations are nothing but curiosities of a primitive and violent history, one that his generation has long moved beyond.

I didn’t go to war so that my son could follow.

We are not Spartans.

We are not Romans.

We are not Nazis.

We are not, and we should not be, some military society who worships war and glorifies battle as some great heroic ideal and spawns generations of warriors. In America, mothers don’t tell their sons and husbands to come home with their shields or carried upon them.  Or a least they damned well shouldn’t.

We are a free people, we are Americans. For us there should be nothing glorious about war. 

We should honor the soldier, certainly, but we should honor the peacemakers to a far greater degree.

As I’ve said here and elsewhere more times than I can count: war is a dirty horrible business and make no mistake about it. War should be the last resort, when all else has failed and the very safety of liberty is endangered. 

War is hell. War is violent and terrible and immoral. Certainly there may be acts of heroism and valor in war, but there are also endless acts of craven cowardice and ignorant stupidity and wanton violence and vicious cruelty.  War should always be a last resort, embarked upon only under the most dire of necessity and not some goddamned glorious spectacle.

We go to war because we have to, and for no other reason.

While it’s certainly true that, as Orwell and Churchill both said, the nation sleeps snug in its bed only because rough men stand ready to do violence on its behalf, to paint us all as generic “heroes” leaches the word of meaning and power and diminishes those acts that truly are heroic and worthy of great respect.

But it’s much, much worse than that.

To paint all veterans as heroes, superior above other citizens, worthy of worship and compulsory respect, gives lie to the equality of democracy and makes such status enviable.

That, right there, is why Stolen Valor is such a thriving business.

That, right there, is why our society is a brim with military fakers and ersatz war heroes.  They show up at every parade and hang out in front of the VA, they polish their stolen medals to a golden glow and tell stolen war stories replete with glorious battles that exist only in their minds, all with false aw shucks humility and grim steely-eyed false heroism.

And they lap it up, your wide eyed unquestioning admiration, because it feeds their empty souls.

These people are parasites, thriving on our mandatory respect and wide-eyed unconditional hero worship. They exist because of your admiration, without it they would wither and die. But the damage they do is limited and they are typically found out and shamed when their duplicity crosses that of a real veteran.

Far, far worse than the posers, this national hero worship compels the dull-witted and the small and mean to join up for all the wrong reasons.

There is little worse in the ranks, and nothing worse – absolutely nothing – in the officer corps, than those who want to be heroes.

We’ve all encountered them, those of us who served.  The commanders and the lieutenants and the majors who practice their Medal of Honor acceptance speech in front of the shaving mirror each morning, the one that begins, “Thank you Mr. President, I’m sorry all my men were killed, but I’m grateful to accept this award on their behalf…”  We’ve all served under the senior NCO who dreamed of a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart and the tales of glory he would tell to the doe-eyed girls back home who would then coo over his manly scars and jump ready and eager into bed with a hero.

Those are the kind of people who get other soldiers killed.

They’re not there to defend the country, the oath means nothing to them, they crave only glory and the admiration of a grateful nation.

Writ large, this idea makes war itself desirable, for only in such a crucible can heroism be forged.


And then war becomes the norm instead of the exception.


Worst of all: heroes are not people.

Heroes are symbols, objects to be worshiped and admired and fawned over and then forgotten when new ones come along.

Heroes don’t make mistakes. 

Heroes don’t die from friendly fire. 

Heroes don’t bomb a wedding or a school by accident. 

Heroes don’t get PTSD. Heroes don’t come home broken. Heroes don’t wake up screaming covered in sweat, night after night. Heroes don’t need help. Heroes don’t end up on the street. Heroes don’t wonder where their next meal is coming from, or how they’ll pay the mortgage. Heroes don’t end up addicted to booze and drugs trying to cope with the pain. Heroes don’t mind that you look at them with uneasy fear, wondering if, when, they’re going to snap – because heroes don’t snap.

And, after the war, heroes don’t need education or retraining or help buying a house or easy access to VA medical care. In fact, heroes, well, they don’t need any of those things you promised back when you were terrified and desperate for rough men to do violence on your behalf.

Heroes just need a parade and the cheap thanks of a yellow magnet stuck on the back of your car.

Calling us heroes taints your thinking, it biases your viewpoint no differently than painting all veterans as “baby killers” did a generation ago.

Mostly we veterans are just people who came when called and did our best under terrible circumstances.

If you truly wish to honor those who put their own precious selves between home and war’s desolation, then you wouldn’t call them heroes.

Instead you’d make them obsolete.

I didn’t go to war so that my son could follow.

If you want to honor veterans, try living up to the promises you made when you called us to war. That would be a start. Make good on the medical care. Make good on the education. Make good on the support for our families. Pay up and pay up promptly. Hold your elected leaders to account and make them do it or throw the cowardly sons of bitches out of office when they won’t. That would be better than all the empty thanks and the parades and the yellow ribbons.

If you truly wish to honor all the men and women who have served this nation, who have given their lives, who stood ready to do violence in your name, then you would do your utmost to keep our children, indeed all the generations who follow, from having to make the same bitter sacrifice.

Wars are caused by unbridled hate, by intolerant fanaticism, by selfish idealism, by religious extremism, by hunger and poverty and inequality, by bigotry and greed and fear.

If you wish to honor the warrior, truly honor the warrior, then you would do those things which make war less likely.

You would elect leaders who don’t see military action as the first option, or even the second, or the third.

You would elect leaders of reason and judgment, those who are loudly and forcefully reluctant to waste the lives of their fellows and the treasury of their nation.

You would elect leaders who set the example of citizenship, who are willing to listen to each other, to compromise and work together for the good of us all, who don’t go around spewing hate and fear and glassy-eyed fanatical jingoism and simple-minded patriotism.

Yes, you build a strong and well equipped military, of course you do, for defense. You don’t go around finding excuses to use it all the goddamned time. You don’t throw more lives away for political posturing, for imagined slights, for profit, for pride.

More importantly you give equal or greater effort and resources towards those things that make war unnecessary. 

You feed the hungry, you clothe the poor, you heal the sick, you employ the able, you educate the next generation, you pay your taxes, you stop looking at your neighbors as the enemy, you give back, you invest in the future, you dream of the stars, and you remember we’re all in this together. 

If you want to honor veterans, then don’t call them heroes. That’s the easy way out.

If you want to honor veterans, then live up to the ideals they fought to defend.

I didn’t go to war so that my son could follow.

I went with the hope he would never have to.

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
― Dwight D. Eisenhower, Soldier, General, President

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Recap: November 7, 2021


Republicans have declared war on Big Bird.

If you need yet another example of how utterly and absolutely insane what's left of the Grand Old Party has become, you need look no further than Ted Cruz:


Fun fact: the Australian army once went to war against emus.  Yes, emus. 

The Aussies were experienced combat troops armed with machine guns. 

Emus are giant murder chickens what look something like an ostrich crossed with Bloom County's Bill The Cat. They have dispositions that are most charitably described as a steady diet of those amphetamines' the Nazis used to make stormtroopers into murderous psychopaths. 

Spoiler: The emus won. Against machine guns. 

I don't know what species Big Bird is, but he looks a bit like a cassowary and those things will kill ya dead and then kick the shit out of what's left just for fun. 

As someone who grew up around geese, which are essentially the closest thing to modern day velociraptors, I'd say maybe rethink this attack on the big bird. 

Then again, you can sort of see Ted Cruz's point. 

I mean, Sesame Street teaches kids about reading, critical thinking, how to be nice to each other, hygiene...

...spelling...


Imagine being mad at a kid's show, because it promoted the very cornerstone of modern medicine and disease prevention by suggesting that getting a vaccine is safe, effective, not scary, and the smart thing to do. 


The US once led global efforts to develop vaccines and eradicate pandemic diseases such as smallpox and polio. Republicans were once proudly on the forefront of efforts by the US government to establish mass vaccination campaigns against common diseases here at home up to and including producing TV shows, radio programs, and written material specifically designed for kids. Hell, Donald Trump himself once touted development of this very vaccine and claimed personal credit for it. But decades of relentless hate radio, for-profit hate religion, and fanatical hate politics treated as if those are rational viewpoints instead of the fact-free lunatic ideology they are, have turned conservatism into nothing but a bunch of frothing red-faced bulging-eyed spittle-flecked raging paste-eaters.

And now they're mad at Big Bird.

Trump may be the Fool King, but Ted Cruz is their clown prince. 

Speaking of Texas and paste-eating, a contingent of what passes for the Republican Party nowadays gathered in Dallas last week for the return of...wait

JFK Jr?

Yes, that's right. The second coming of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Junior.

Son of the late president. Died in a plane crash in 1999 at the age of 38. 

That JFK Jr. 

A large bunch of QAnon believers -- which I am increasingly hard pressed to separate from the rest of Republicans and so I won't bother anymore -- showed up in Dealey Plaza, surrounding the big white X marking the spot where President Kennedy was assassinated, waiting for the Q prophesized return of John Junior. 

See, they apparently believe in a QAnon conspiracy theory which goes: Kennedy Junior faked his own death and spent 20 years in hiding so that he can reemerge in 2021 (SURPRISE!) to be Donald Trump's Vice President when Trump is reinstated (SURPRISE AGAIN!) as America's president because, according to QAnon, who is totally not just some random 14-year-old shitposter from 8-chan, everything that happened after 1871 is illegal and unconstitutional because something something My Pillow Guy gazpacho (SURPISE HAHA!) and therefore Joe Biden's presidency is totally for sure illegal and anyway once Trump is president again he'll step down and Kennedy Junior will then be president and will naturally appoint (MORE SUPRISES!) disgraced lunatic general Mike Flynn his vice president so Trump can go on to be -- I swear I am not making this up -- "King of Kings" as foretold in the Book of Revelation. 

If this doesn't work, Plan B is that Trump will have to run for president like any other schmoo in 2024 and JFK Jr will then be his running mate -- because even if Kennedy is in fact an actual desiccated corpse dead and rotting for 20 years, he'd still be more personable, charismatic, and fresher smelling than Mike Pence. 

So, anyway, there they were, in Dealey Plaza last week, waiting for Junior to arrive.

And so he did. 

You saw it, right? The moment came and suddenly there he was! Flash! Thunder! The earth split open and there he was! That's right, John Fitz Junior, back from the dead! You can see it on the tapes in glorious technicolor! There was a moment of stunned silence, then the crowd went wild with cheers! USA! USA! QANON! QANON! Ken-a-DEE! Ken-a-DEEEEE! Junior looking around, his thick dark hair perfectly styled, his handsome face splitting in a wide smile...

...to revel inch long fangs! Holy shit! There's a price for immortality and that price is the flesh of the living! OMG! OMG! RUUUUUN! Then the screams and the blood...

Well, that's how it would have happened if they let me write it. 

What's that? 

Over the top? 

Heh heh. Yeah. 

You want to talk over the top? You wanna talk horror show? You wanna talk about the flesh eating shambling undead?

Let's talk about Republican reaction to Joe Biden's Infrastructure Plan. 


There it is, Joe Biden's communist takeover of America. 

Roads are communism, folks. 

Roads. Are. Communism. 

Roads, Bridges, highways, passenger and freight railroad, public transit, transportation technology, broadband, public works, schools, airports, the electric grid, water systems, sewage systems, all communism, apparently.

And you thought the bird thing was stupid, right? 

Modern Republicanism is the most morally bankrupt of ideologies.


Call it the McConnell Doctrine. 

Republicans would rather burn the entire nation to the ground and squat in the ashes if passing legislation means all of us benefit rather than just them, just their party and ideology. 

That was why Republicans under Trump never could themselves craft infrastructure legislation -- or, for that matter, deliver their long promised healthcare plan. 

Because they couldn't figure out how to do so in a way that it only benefited them and no one else. 

The only legislation Republicans have been able to pass these last few years is that which penalized and criminalized the people they hate. They literally couldn't do anything else and they've reached the point where they never will. 

They would literally cut off their own nose just to own the libs.

The Party Of Lincoln, that Grand Old Party, has become The Party of Anti-Reality, of Trump, of Limbaugh, of unwashed, science-denying window-licking lunatics and proudly deluded fools who declare war on puppets and who gather in the street to unashamedly share their ridiculous insanity.


The very name, Republican, has become a cruel jape. 

These people are no longer defenders, or even citizens, of The Republic. 

They are the howling barbarians at the gate.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Recap: November 3, 2021

 

This morning, like you I suspect, I'm disappointed.

The election results are not what I'd hoped they'd be today, but I can't honestly say that I am surprised.

I doubt you are either. We are a year into the Biden presidency the big promises are still unfulfilled. There hasn't been enough progress, or any really. Right?  Biden hasn't been able to force through his big agenda.

Trump is out of office but things haven't really gotten better. Not really. Have they? Everywhere you look hate is on the rise, civil rights are under attack, and hysterical conspiracy rules the day.

Naturally, you're disappointed. 

Democrats are disappointed by the lack of progress and Republicans are -- to use a Republican term -- emboldened. 

Republicans are motivated. 

Democrats are not.

Now, it would be great if the previous four years had galvanized America. 

I mean, if America had looked at Trump and said, whoa, hang on, this is nuts. This isn't the future we want, this isn't the world we want to leave our kids. This hard shift towards rightwing extremism, this normalization of lunacy and conspiracy theory as fact, man, history has shown us repeatedly what happens when you go down that road. No. Stop. Back up. We're not having any of that, goddammit. 

But that's not what happened. 

Predictably, that's not what happened. 

Because to a lot of Americans, that future looked good.

Just as that future looked good to ordinary Germans in the first years of the Third Reich. 

America for Americans, right? 

Sure. Who doesn't want that. So long as you get to decide what a real "American" is. 

Democracy for all people. Sounds good. So long as you get to decide which people are "people" and which ones aren't. And so long as they vote in the manner you approve of. So long as your guy and your ideology always wins. For a lot of people, that's the kind of democracy they think they want. 

Law and order so long as you get to decide what the laws are and who they apply to -- and who they don't. So long as that civil order benefits you at the expense of others because for many Americans, rights are a zero-sum and if others get more they feel like they're getting less. Because in a society that values profit above all else, human value is relative and your self-worth is quantified by your perceived superiority to others and so if there's no one to look down on, there's no way to feel good about yourself. Capitalism sucks if everyone has the same value, and that right there is the very crux of their visceral terror at the idea of socialism. 

Peace and prosperity for all, for the whole world, so long as everyone understands who's in charge and that America comes first. So long as those of inferior humanity remember their place. So long as you are the most powerful, because might makes right and a nation's greatness is measured in the size and power of its military and thus its ability to impose its will on the world and compel respect by force

Like the Germans of the 1920s, that's the future a lot of Americans here and now in the 2020s think they want. 

Of course, that's also the future a lot of Americans don't want. 

And enough of the latter showed up in 2020 that we, maybe, changed our future. 

But Joe Biden isn't Barack Obama and his win wasn't a landslide and the future is never certain. 

Biden doesn't inspire. He's not charismatic as Obama was -- or Trump. Biden is just not that kind of guy and his win wasn't so much enthusiasm as it was a repudiation of the future Donald Trump offered America. 

But it was a close thing.

And it's not over. 

And that vision of America described up above is still very much a possibility. 

Biden made some big promises.

Democrats made some big promises.

Their hold on power right now is tenuous at best, as yesterday's election clearly demonstrated. 

But then, it always is. 

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing."
That quote is often misattributed to Irish statesman Edmund Burke. He never said that, or at least if he did there's no record of it among his prolific writings, but he did say something similar in his 1770 Thoughts on the Cause of the Present Discontents: "When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."

They will fall one by one in the contemptible struggle, indeed and the more things change, eh? 

Burke is right. And so is that first quote. 

The only thing necessary for America to become Germany of the 1930 is for us to do nothing. 

To do nothing because we are not inspired. 

To do nothing because we are disappointed. 

To do nothing because Joe Biden, Democrats, made some big promises and they haven't delivered. 

Of course you're disappointed. Of course you are. And of course the opposition is emboldened by your disappointment and the supposed failure of Joe Biden to deliver on his promises. Of course. 

But this is normal. It's only been a year...

What's that? 

Heh. 

Yes, I know. I know. A year is a long, long time in this age of instant gratification, in this age of Twitter and Facebook and the relentless torrent of news and information and disappointment. 

It is. 

But in the grand scheme of things, it's not that long. A lot of you were disappointed by the first year of Obama's presidency too. And Obama had a hell of a lot better support in Congress from his own party than Biden does. 

It's natural, normal, predictable, to be disappointed that Democrats have not, yet, delivered on their great promises. 

Progress is slow. Too damn slow. Of course it is. Especially in the face of fanatical resistance and partisan opposition, when you have to overcome both homegrown conspiracies and foreign influence, the machinations of dark money and invisible influence -- and especially the selfish obstruction of your own, supposed, allies. Pragmatically, you must realize that.  

Nevertheless, we want what we were promised and we're tired of excuses, tired of waiting, are we not? 


Damn right we are. 


Thus, this morning's election results were completely predictable. 

But that future does not have to be our future.  

The election results are a warning to Joe Biden and Democrats, indeed all Americans.

A warning, NOT fate.

Biden and Congressional Democrats need to deliver on their promises, big and small. 

They need to do what it takes, whatever it takes, and deliver voting rights legislation, deliver a modern infrastructure that will serve America for the next 100 years, deliver renewable clean energy independence, deliver good jobs and a living wage, deliver sane and rational international relations and foreign trade, and, yes, they must directly address Conservative concerns regarding immigration and national security (in a manner that we can all live with). 

Some of those things will take years and perhaps another Democratic term and maybe a better leader than Joe Biden, but some of that agenda must happen now (voting rights, for example), or yesterday's election will be the future of America. 

The clock is running out and it's damn easy to give in to disappointment.

But it's in that dark hour when you find out what you're really made of. 

And if you want that better future, then now is the time to be a better citizen.

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Election Day

 It's election day. 

Yeah, it's an off year and, yeah, these are small local elections, and yeah, you probably don't care much. 

But these elections matter. 

If you want to keep your democracy, keep your Republic, then every election matters. And these elections, right now, today, matter even more than the big national elections. 


Right now, it's state and local politicians who are every single day,  step by steps big and small, bit by bit, relentlessly advancing the fanatical agenda of absolutism. Look to Florida. Look to Texas. Look to all those places where a dogmatic ideologue in the Governor's office and zealots in the local legislatures have criminalized women's healthcare; taken away the right to vote from those they deem to be of the wrong race, wrong income bracket, wrong political party; imposed their miserable religious ideology in the classrooms and denied your children the opportunity to learn history, science, social systems and political ideas different from their own; and have not only refused to take steps to protect the general welfare during a pandemic, but deliberately and with malice aforethought made things worse in the guise of some idiotic idea of "freedom" and the mindless shallow nationalism of the Patriot.

But you can stop them. 

Today is the day. If you want a better nation, be a better citizen. 

Get after it.