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Thursday, January 6, 2022

Insurrection, One Year On

 

How the hell did we get here? 

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


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

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

It's not over. 

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

How the hell did we get here

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

How the hell did we get here?  

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

How?

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

The GOP has a duty to condemn the insurrection. 

A duty, forsooth. 

A duty. 

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

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

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

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

Karl. Rove. 

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

Karl Rove, goddamn

How did we get here? 

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


But I'm getting ahead of myself. 


I used to be an intelligence officer. 

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

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

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

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

But we'll come back to that. 

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

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

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

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

Let me give you a personal example.

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

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

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

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

And they were, wrong, often enough. 

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

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

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

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

And so, it was my job to stop it. 

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

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

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

I was right. 

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

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

But it mattered to me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It's really just that simple. 

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

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

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

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

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

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


And I was horrified


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

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

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

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

How did we get here? To this moment?

That's how. 

President Barack Obama. 

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

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

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

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

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

They forgot everything they ever knew. 

They forgot who they had been. 

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

They became, literally became, different people. 

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

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

And it got worse. 

It got so much worse. 

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

How did we get here? 

That's how. 

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

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

There was always going to be consequences. 

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

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

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

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

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

How did we get here?

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

That's how. 

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

And that is true. 

But it's more than that. 

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

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

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

And hate always has consequences. 

Always. 

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

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

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



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

Instead they offer up defiance. 



Outrage.

Hate.

And threats of violence. More violence. 

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


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


How did we get here? 

That's how. 

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

That's how. 

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

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

Like cancer, we cut it out. 

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

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

He should have done that a year ago. 

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

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

This is the moment, right here, right now. 

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

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

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

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

We can stop it. 

We can restore democracy and save The Republic. 

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

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

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

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

Love of coun­try de­mands noth­ing less. 

That is true patriotism.

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

It's how we get out of here. 

This is the moment. Get after it. 






 


155 comments:

  1. I remember the night Karl Rove insisted that Ohio went for Romney.
    He argued with the Fox News team about it.
    But he stopped right there.

    Trump saw the same thing and figured Rove was a loser *because* he stopped right there.
    Trump makes up his own "facts". And they love him for it.

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    1. Because he gives them an "out" to avoid having to live with facts if they don't like them. That's why he wasn't worried about his base turning against him for the Capitol attack; they wouldn't WANT to believe it was true that "Trump people" did such a thing, so they'll leap like a starving ferret at the lies he tells them. The essential message is always "you're right about everything, the world is the way you wish it were. everything is alwaya THEIR fault, the OTHER SIDE, those scheming bastards!" Tucker Carlson said almost that very line a few days ago.

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  2. You don't FALL into fascism, you SLIDE!!!! Thanks Jim!!

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  3. I took my oath to Queen Elizabeth as a baby Officer (Acting Pilot Officer) in 1981 when she Commissioned me aged 18 (I have the Commissioning Scroll hanging on the wall in my lounge). I served for over 20 years. I went to war 4 times (GW1, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo). I am now retired at 59 years old. YET my oath still stands to HM, and will do until I die.

    I thoughy you Americans thrived on Duty and Honour.

    Aside from fellow Officers like Jim, apparently not.

    Oh, and I HATE fucking hypocrites.

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    1. There are many of us who consider our oath has never expired. At least I hope so. I'm appalled when I see a Vietnam Service Medal sticker and a Trump sticker on the same bumper.

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    2. I'm a retired Federal employee -- and what many people don't know is that we U.S. civil servants, take an oath very similar to the one used to swear in our presidents.

      I meant every word of that oath when I took it, and will hold to it until I die. One of the greatest pleasures I had in my years with the government was being designated to swear in a new batch of employees.

      Now I find myself hoping that those young people take that oath as seriously as I do.

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    3. I am reassured that you take your oaths seriously, but appalled that so many don't. That so many joined the Tea Party (or whatever it is now called), that so many are SturmTrumpers. I've seen it first hand in supposedly Blue States such as NY. It disgusts me.

      Oh, and did I say I HATE fucking hypocrites?

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    4. Liars, Hypocrites, and Cowards DISGUST me. They make me want to puke. Utterly useless and appalling people.

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  4. Much like you, I saw people change after Obama was elected, people I had respected and admired. And as I thought about what happened, I came to one conclusion, something that seems obvious to me in hindsight, they were NEVER the people I thought they were. If they hadn't had some kernel of darkness in them, eating away under the surface where it couldn't be seen, they could not have changed so much. Somewhere, deep inside, they never really believed a black man could be their equal, let alone the leader of the nation and the inability to accept that one simple fact consumed them, stripped them of all their pretenses and laid bare the worst parts of their nature, which grew and flourished until that was all that was left. But the darkness had been there all along. Hidden, perhaps even from themselves, but there. I've seen a very, very few start down that path, stop, take a long look in the mirror and turn around, but very few and never enough.

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    1. Exactly this. I gleefully voted for President Obama. My mother watched him on CSPAN as a new senator and wanted to vote him into office as president that moment. Even my father, as racist as a person can be, saw Obama for everything that he is and put aside bias to vote for the intelligent, empathetic world leader he knew Obama would be. My former Army officer husband and I are both dismayed and disgusted by people we loved and admired now revealed by their racism and devotion to an orange grifter. It's sad and revolting.

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    2. This right here. I feel like I have been fooled for decades by those I used to respect and can't wrap my head around their hate and fear. Maybe they were fooling themselves all those years, and maybe I wasn't so blind for all those years, thank you for that perspective. But now, now I can't find any respect anymore for those I loved and lived with, for those that saved me when I needed saving. I feel like that old adage of fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me, rings true. Well, there will be no chances, this fool has tried and as you said, their darkness seems to be all that is left.

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    3. I love the written word. I love plain talk and truth.
      I believe your words,plain talk,and truth. I repeatedly told everyone that this country has people who are enraged that a brilliant Black man became President.
      They believe in white supremacy and they were in shock, vowing to never let it happen again. This is the ugly GOP. The rest of America is sick of them. We don't see color. We see people.
      Stonekettle on point.

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    4. I am so very sorry this is happening to your country, and I hope the sane 70% of you fight to save it with all your heart and soul. The rest of the free world is counting on it!

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    5. I wholeheartedly agree and find it amazing that they blamed him for all the racism.

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    6. this sums up the last several years for me, too. I have spent the better portion of my adult life supporting law enforcement and the military, but the change in how I now perceive both institutions has left me with a tremendous sense of loss.....many friends are now just acquaintances.... and I am continuously saddened by the knee-jerk, lock-step responses from many people I used to consider friends.

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    7. They support and voted for trump because he gave them permission to bring out their secret, disgusting, deeply hidden selves. And he gave them permission to be proud of it.

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    8. I saw the same thing with my dad. He played the modern man, but when it came right down to it, once there was a black man in the white house, he reverted to being like his mother who grew up in Mobile and never got over the south losing and African-americans getting freed. I sat in my car with him one night, he had gotten drunk (of course), and railed on about that horrible man in the White House. I wish I'd had the guts/strength to stand up to him then. He passed away a few months later. Not missed.

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    9. I agree and can relate here.
      I appreciate the forum.

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    10. Very well said Leon. Sadly, one of those people you describe so perfectly happens to be my father. A man I used to look up to and as the youngest daughter, was forever trying to make him proud of me (even knowing I was not the boy he wanted after 2 other daughters). Now I'm ashamed of him and have to believe I never really knew him. My mother and I both voted for Obama twice, and we were so happy at the first election we were jumping around her living room, holding hands and crying our eyes out with joy. I lost her in 2010 and my father remarried soon after, to a Polish immigrant who hates immigrants (how Republican of her, "I got mine. Screw you!") and LOVES Trump. My father isn't even someone I can talk to now.

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  5. I never thought I'd be on the same page as Karl Rove either, and have to add that both social media and the pandemic added greatly to the decline of democracy. Everyone and his brother have come to believe they deserve "to be HEARD" whether or not they have anything worth saying. In bullshit, infections thrive.

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  6. Thank you. Thank you so much for this. I only hope it's not too late.

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  7. Karl Fuckin' Rove is probably the guy who in 2004 told NYT journalist Ron Suskind, "We (the GOP) make our own reality now." (paraphrasing) So is he right today? Well, even a blind pig finds an acorn now and then.
    I was never in the military, but my last job was for a defense contractor, and a lot of the engineers I worked with had been. One day leading up to the 2016 election, I found a stack of political cartoons in the test lab. Maybe they were printed at home and brought in to show, or maybe they were printed on company time & equipment, I don't know. Each was uglier than the last. Some weren't even about Hillary, but were repeats of some of the ugliest of the Obama cartoons. I never knew for sure which of my coworkers produced them. Engineers are supposed to be logical and dispassionate, at least about the work, but I couldn't trust them after that.

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    1. As an engineer, I can say without reservation that engineers like to smell their own farts more than most.

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  8. Excellent as always, accurate as always, well written as always. Bravo.

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    1. I couldn't agree more. Well stated, Chief. Thank you, as always.

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  9. "The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!"

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  10. When I was a 19-year old naive US Navy sailor in Spain, insurrectionist Basque separatists breeched Spanish parliament chambers and killed several legislators. The nation went on lockdown for several days. One especially did nothing to irk LaGuardia Civil, national police, (not the friendliest of chaps on a good day) who were on short tempers as they carried their machine pistols around town. My 19-year old self said, "This will never happen in the US." Imagine my surprise on 6 Jan. 2021. Imagine my greater surprise when conservative friends flocked to the ether-waves to condone those insurrectionist acts. Imagine my total bewilderment at how they believed that an incumbent president whose party controled the Senate and SCOTUS sold the idea that the rival candidate STOLE the election. Sure, I laughed when that incumbent's minions flocked to courts around the nation to protest the election, and how judges threw out their complaints for lacking merit. And how perpetuation of that lie is, in Pres. Biden's words, "a dagger at the throat of democracy." He very well should have given his 6 Jan. 2022 address last year at his inauguration. It would have us a year into driving out this madness.

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    1. I agree, he should have, but he was still in hopes of being able to bring the country together. I completely understand that.

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    2. If you remember, 45 was impeached for a second time. That SHOULD have been successful, and should have put the Big Lie to rest. What Biden and the democrats underestimated was how far the rot in the GOP had spread - or perhaps how much dirt 45 had on them (I still don't understand why he wields so much influence). Anyway, if the Senate Republicans - even if only a few of them - had done their duty, THAT would have gone a long way towards driving out the madness.

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    3. I think he has some dirt on a few of them, but, for the most part, I think he serves as a shield for the GOP. He's a Potemkin Village.

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    4. People tend to miss the fact that Trump fitted neatly into a "charismatic celebrity figurehead" slot in the modus operandi of the modern GOP. always nostalgic for how well Reagan worked out for them. Their general campaign strategy is lying to the voters, riling them up to go to the polls and then forget ALL about it until the next time the GOP needs to push their buttons. The idea of using a popular clown to win was one they could easily adapt to and Trump has a LIFETIME of conning powerful men into thinking they can use him and come out richer afterward. Thry always underestimate the lunatic destructiveness of the infantile man, who has to "win" EVERY interaction with others and measures winning by how much he can hurt the other party. If a choice is either both gain or he breaks even while you gain.... he'll sacrifice his gains to make SURE you come out worse. And that applies to friends and allies (tools) as well as the marks to which he markets his hideous cheap crap labeled "Luxury!"

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  11. Right on. Except this: "In the grand scheme of things, it hardly matters if we'd killed those people. No one would have cared. You'd have never known about it. It would have just been a couple more dead in a war that killed half a million people who'd never done a damn thing to us and no one would have given a shit. Least of all America." So many Americans believe this isht, so I have to call it out. Non Americans, Brown ones, even Muslim ones are not nobody. I know you know this or I wouldn't bother to remind you. Undoubtably, if "we'd" killed "those people," plenty of very human humans would have cared, mourned, grieved. They just would have been the ones America works so very hard to make nobodies.

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    1. "Except this"? Read again, more carefully. You're so eager to demonstrate your righteous anger that you missed the part where Jim shares that anger. You're actually agreeing with him.

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  12. Well-constructed and well said.

    If you are still accepting feedback on typos via comments.. Found a double. "We drop the hammer on fascism so goddamn hard that that..."

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  13. thank you for so clearly stating what has been revolving in my head for the last year. The real question for me is WHAT DO I DO AS AN INDIVIDUAL? What can I do that will help change this and call a reckoning?

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    1. Call your representatives every day, tell them to support the voting rights act, thank them if they do. They need to hear from us every day.

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    2. Sadly, my reps are Gaetz, Scott, and the spineless Rubio. Any other ideas?

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    3. Even more important for you to call those ass hats. Be a thorn in their side

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    4. I am surrounded by red. I don't know what I can do either. Everyday it just hurts my heart to see such anger, and I am dismayed by the blatant denial of proven facts. I want to hate those people but truly feel sorry for them. They have convinced themselves that they are under attack and need to defend themselves. I ask from what? I don't know of a church in this country that has been shut down. I don't know of anybody who's had their legal firearms taken away. I don't know anyone who isn't allowed to speak freely, but there are laws against inciting an inserrection. So really, what the f*ck are they really mad about? And there's the rub, I don't think they know either.

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  14. I, too, worked in military intelligence. For 9+ years. It's frightening at both ends. First seeing what you're seeing, and then having to convince the higher-ups of what you're seeing.
    Excellent post, Jim. Excellent post.

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  15. I hope Merrick Garland reads this; best thing i've read in a very long time!

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  16. I cosign. It hurts me to agree with Rove and Cheney. I also know we can't pussyfoot around with this. Great article.

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  17. I've said the same as this well before the bunch of welfare cowboys defied the law in southern Nevada and when the same bunch of welfare queens took over the wildlife refuge in Oregon. This needs to be stopped by any means necessary, and I mean ANY means! I also had been able to keep in contact with people I'd served with over the course of my service, and was surprised at how many I blocked and cut off contact with after Obama's election, (who I voted for twice too). I've even been called a radical lib, me, a retired 30 years service W4 Gunner, radical maybe but lib? Ha. Stan.

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    1. "liberal" has lost ANY meaning in right wing circles, other than "bad"-- same as "communist". The right wing semiotic machine worked really hard on destroying the meaning of the word (a government based on rights and liberties) to make it mean "traitors to the nation who want to take ALL your hard earned money to spoil LAZY inner city black people."

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  18. Minor detail, as I was reminded on a news show last night - Merrick Garland was the one who put away Timothy McVeigh - another piece of trash - and did it with zero leaks from his office before presenting an absolutely air-tight case in court. McVeigh had nowhere to go but prison. People who've worked with Garland before surmise he is doing exactly the same thing this time - only now he has to make sure that no holdovers in his office who might be sympathetic to the previous administration leak anything. He has to build a case and clean house at the same time. I'm looking forward to him finishing both jobs.

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    1. if you are right.... all my christmas wishes got filled all at once

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    2. I suspect you are correct. The workload must be enormous for it to be taking this long. I pray the charges come soon. We as a nation cannot go on like this for much longer without a larger, more serious explosion. I'm genuinely afraid of what may soon come. It feels like we're sitting on a powderkeg.

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    3. When you try to prosecute people with money, or with wealthy supporters--who, therefore, can afford the best in defense attorneys--you'd better have an ironclad, airtight case, or the mofos will walk free.

      The Founders put rights of the accused (among other restraints on raw government power) in the Constitution of this country for damned good reasons (cough*Star Chamber*cough).

      Yes, that makes it harder to prosecute and punish guilty, but powerful, men. (I say "men" because that's how it was in the Founders' time.)

      The Founders considered that an acceptable price to pay for preventing the railroading of legally innocent political rivals on trumped-up charges.

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  19. Thank you Jim. I adore you. You have been a sanity saver for me since I found you and Stonekettle Station during Trump's campaign for the presidency. I wish with every fiber of my being that Trump and everyone associated with him would go down in flames and be relegated to the trash heap of infamy.

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  20. Suddenly, it seems, they have all caught a case of "herd hypnosis."

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  21. Typo: Should be "know": And I don't *now if honor and duty and . . . Very well written. Spot on and horrifying :-(

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  22. Yes, we slide. I feel it's about 1928 -30, right now.

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  23. I agree with you completely. I was horrified by the slide toward the Iraq War, but was convinced by Colin Powell's speech.

    Ever since Reagan, I have heard liberals reviled as unAmerican. During the Bush II/Cheney/Rumsfeld years, there were many loud voices that demanded support for their criminal policies and actions in the name of patriotism. (Remember Valerie Plame? Her outing was a felony that remains unpunished.)

    My question now is what do we do? What are the action steps? Other than donating money and time, making phone calls and writing letters, working to register voters and to protect voting rights? All of which seem like feeble steps in the face of a concerted rightwing efforts to establish an autocratic, apartheid regime.

    I plan to work like hell to help the Democrats hold the House and Senate in the mid-terms. But I am also making contingency plans to leave the country before the next Presidential election if things go south in the mid-terms.

    I worked to oppose the Soviet Union, to dismantle the Milosevic and Karadzic regimes in the former Yugoslavia, to support NATO in opposition to the rise of Putin and to oppose the Taliban in Afghanistan. I know how autocracies take power by using the freedoms and the rules of democracies to undermine and destroy democracy and the rule of law. I have no desire to personally experience ten years of fascist dictatorship (which is my guess about how long it will last if the fascists succeed in taking power) in the United States.

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    1. What *do* we do? I guess we all need to start reading the histories of the French, Norwegian, and Dutch Resistances, the White Rose, the SOE, and start getting ready for the worst. Those of us lucky enough to be in New England or on the West Coast need to start thinking about what we can do on the ground. I have a very, very bad feeling about where all of this is heading.

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    2. I feel the same way. I've even considered what happens if I need to get my family out of the US and how I might do it (to the point that I've been putting off major purchases to hoard cash and crypto).

      I live in NH, so not sure that being in New England is going to be protective.

      I can't stand these people when they aren't in power. It makes me sick to think what they might do with unfettered power.

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  24. I know you hate typos, Jim "And I don't now if honor and duty and steadfastness mean anything in a dishonorable war"

    now should be know

    Otherwise, right on.

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  25. Well, today the high temp in MN got to -3 and I'm here agreeing with Karl F'ng Rove. I guess hell hath frozen over.

    Thanks again, Jim, for yet another brilliant piece.

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    1. Karl Rove, and now Dick Cheney. What kind of Bizzaro world have we entered?

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    2. one where lifelong atheist me is grateful that Mike Pence REALLY believes in God?!

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  26. Betty Campbell-RossJanuary 6, 2022 at 4:07 PM

    Wow. That was powerful. This is the moment. I plan to get after it!

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  27. Let's hope that new question gets answered... soon.

    Thanks, Jim.

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  28. Excellent analysis as always, Jim. I'm pretty sure that most of us are as fed up with the Big Lie as you are. On the anniversary of the January 6 insurrection, it seems apropos to include the final tabulations and findings of Maricopa County officials on the fully partisan audit conducted by Cyber Ninjas last year.

    The full report can be found by Googling the terms: "Correcting The Record. Maricopa County's In-Depth Analysis of the Senate Inquiry"

    A snippet:

    "After an in-depth analysis and review of the reports and presentations issued by the Senate’s contractors, we determined that nearly every finding included faulty analysis, inaccurate claims, misleading conclusions, and a lack of understanding of federal and state election laws. Our review of the claims made by Cyber Ninjas, CyFIR, EchoMail, and the Senate’s Audit Liaisons, found:

    • 22 were misleading. The claims lead the reader to assume a conclusion that is not supported by the evidence.
    • 41 were inaccurate. The claims include flawed or misstated analysis.
    • 13 were false. The claims are demonstrably false and can be proven false using materials provided to the Senate.

    The report produced by Senate contractor, Cyber Ninjas, inaccurately challenges the legitimacy of thousands of voters who participated in the November 2020 General Election and/or the validity of ballots counted and included in the official results. The Elections Department reviewed every finding included in Cyber Ninjas’ Volume III report."

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



    "Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand." ~ Atticus Finch

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  30. Cheney and Rove say they now have had enough of GOP terrorism. They are more than a bit late.

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  31. Excellent post! Your writing and it's construction is wonderful. This is one of your best.

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  32. You pinpointed it, Jim. It was the acceptance of flat-out lies as long as they served a political purpose, followed by the election of a Black man who was the living denial of everything they wanted to believe about Black people.

    The right-wing is trying everything they can to stop people from learning the truth about how racism has poisoned this country from the beginning, because those lies, that poison, are their most reliable weapons.

    Every time the US has come closer to fulfilling its promise of liberty and justice for all, it has been lies and racism that held it back.

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  33. In 2016 I knew the election was about who Americans hated more, foreigners or women, racism vs. misogyny. 2020 was the same, but they didn't have to choose, this time they were able to hate a candidate for being both, plus they could throw in ageism. I hope something happens because I'd like to visit there again sometimes, but that's off the table until something actually happens because America scares me right now, and I'm a white male.

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  34. Retired military here too (Army Special Forces Chief Warrant Officer) and I find it unbelievable the number of guys I served with who worship the obese man-child who has done nothing hard in his life.

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  35. Completely agree. Heartbroken - and ANGRY.

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  36. As usual, well said Sir. How does one even add to this 'spot on' piece?

    One thing, decent American Humans, need to get off the sidelines (their asses), and start making their voices heard and their votes count. :-)

    Thank you

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  37. Typo: where it _burst_ into flames, rolled over, and exploded

    Jim, passionate, rational and on the money.

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  38. I read this aloud, and wow! The phrases just flow. Beautifully done.

    Spot on. I couldn't agree more.

    And this:

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

    Absolute truth.

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  39. Brilliantly put. Thank you for writing this. And like you, it really hurts to agree with Karl fucking Rove, but here we are.

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  40. Timothy McVeigh would be a GOP Senator if he was alive today.

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    1. Or at least a Fox News/OANN/other right wing propaganda outlet talking head.

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  41. I agree that democracy is at stake and what has to be done to save it. But on how we got here…don’t ignore that this country has always been a fascist society for black people who were once enslaved. Thousands were murdered and lynched by violent mobs. So the violent mob has always existed here, and it has always been pointed at black people. The reason Obama ignited a storm does not exist in a vacuum.

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  42. I agree with all of this, and I feel the pain of losing relationships to mob mentality. I would just add that a mob arising because we elected a black president did not happen in a vacuum. This country has always been fascistic towards black people even when it was fighting Nazis. Thousands of black people were murdered and lynched by violent mobs not to mention slavery. We cannot understand how we got here without reckoning with that history.

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  43. As usual, Jim, dead on target. And infuriating because I agree with both Rove and Dick Cheney; who'd have thought this 66 year old liberal would ever do that! Every American who has any amount of decency in his or her body needs to get off his or her ass and fucking vote! And take to the streets in protest before and after nagging the shit out of their Congresscritters to do the right thing and vote for voter rights.

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  44. Wow. I have read 10,000s of essays on morality, war, politics, the military, as well as religion, humanity, culture, history and literature and so much more. I studied literature, history and language in college and I only mention this because I have read A LOT of exceptional writers. This timely political essay ranks up there in my top 10. Jim Wright takes the reader on a journey that makes multiple stops along the way, each with a purpose and meaning toward the end, each taking the reader on an emotional river ride through rapids and calm waters of contemplation. I applaud you not only for your message of hope and direction to action, "bring these bastards to justice", but also for the fine way you wove the journey together. Great writers pull the reader in for a ride and great essayists, and I'm reminded of Samuel Johnson and Bertrand Russell when I read Jim Wright's prose, pull the reader in to compel them to action. Vote! Be part of the solution! Kudos for this exceptional piece of writing that will be memorable far past the moment of having read it, and the weight of your message is felt that much more strongly on this important date in history. The theme is both sad and heartening while your style is engaging and educational without being didactic. Now let's see what the Democrats will do given this historical challenge. (Also posted on FB)

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    1. Your comment would be the perfect introduction of Jim's essay. So very well written and articulate. Thank you.

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  45. Love. Every. Damn. Word.

    It is now or never the time to rise.

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  46. We all want a fast resolution to the 1/6 terrorist attack, but Garland is taking this very slowly, and when he's done, I expect real justice. Our Constitution demands it. We demand it. No mercy. Ever.

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  47. Jim (if I may call you that .) I have been a long time reader of you post (and admirer of your photos) and I think that this is the best thing you have ever written . I agree so much that I felt the truth of this in my bones . Be well and keep fighting the good fight .

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  48. Very nicely written. Thanks.

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  49. Spot on Chief! Thank you again for the clarity and motivation.

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  50. Beautifully written, even if it's the saddest truth any of us could have imagined. I remember my mother, who didn't have a racist bone in her body, being worried just before she died, that if Obama was elected, it would result in the dredging up of every nutjob white supremist under every rock in the country. I assured her it wouldn't. I was so wrong. She, thankfully, died before her prediction came true, but I find it striking that this is not discussed more openly, and I thank you for doing just that. Spot on. Stay warm, my friend.

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  51. I listened to Joe Rogan today compare ANTIFA with the NY Yankees. I don't know how you combat page holes in logic.

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  52. I'm a 24 year Air Force veteran. One of my first experiences with bigotry was as a new airman. I was talking to my supervisor, and august SSgt, and I quoted the Bible. He said, "So you're a socialist." I didn't even know what that was. I saw a sharp expansion of overt conservatism about the time the AF started piping Fox News into every office including the medical clinics, personnel offices, and commander's waiting rooms. I've been called a traitor, terrorist, commie, socialist, and Marxist. Me, who served in one of the biggest socialist organizations in the world. I got the Hillary Clinton crazy emails and the Barack Obama crazy emails. After Trump was elected I lost nearly every teammate I kept in touch with. Even when I provided proof coal mines in my state were closing, one doggedly argued that Trump was bringing back coal. The worst thing Trump ever did wasn't unleashing the insurrection of 6 Jan, though that was horrible. The worst was that he has unleashed those who feel aggrieved. There is a new unholy alliance between conspiracy theorists, spiritualists, and anti-science proponents. They believe they should trust their guts and that Democrats eat babies. They believe they are light warriors and truth tellers and patriots. They continue to spread lies in their work and communities. Trump gave us them.

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  53. Absolutely!! My feelings echo yours in that my Father and Brother have been brainwashed by Fox News et al and it is achingly painful to see that happen. I am grasping about trying to figure out what I can personally do to help prevent our democracy from sliding even further. Join a school board maybe, get involved with local politics? IDK but I wish there was someone, somewhere organizing against the take over of our government.

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    1. Absolutely, you should run for school board or something else local. The fascists are targeting those now and that's how they wormed their way up to power. They know that most people don't bother to vet local candidates.

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  54. I doubt you'll manage to read every thanks and note of appreciation but I have to add mine if for no other reason that I know I expressed my gratitude to you! Thank you for what you say!

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  55. If I disagree with anything said in this article, it's that this was just America's "foul mean racist underbelly." America doesn't have a foul mean racist underbelly. America is a foul mean racist animal that we put lipstick on and pretend is the incarnation of mankind's better angels.

    Point to a racial minority group and you will find Americans using the power of government to make their lives miserable because of their ethnicity. The Chinese Exclusion Act. Japanese Internment Camps. Quotas on Irish and Italian Immigration. Laws against interracial marriage. &#!$ing SLAVERY.

    And that's when the angriest nativists aren't just plain using violence to get what they want, like the Trail of Tears, or Tulsa, or any of many, MANY lynchings.

    The Civil War wasn't about states' rights or even about slavery. Not at its core. Both of those were just symptoms. Slavery was fundamentally an economic system to the southern landowners, and people will do ANYTHING to ensure they can provide for their families. Farming cotton with slaves was the southern way of life. At its core, that's what the Civil War was about - people who increasingly felt relegated to the minority believing heart and soul that pretty soon there was going to be a law prohibiting the way they made money, and being prepared to use violence to stop it from happening.

    This violence isn't new. This violence has happened before.

    The brutal truth is that while America is a beautiful idea, the Americans who live here have historically not been very nice people. And some Americans are prepared to do violence to other Americans to preserve their way of life. Whatever that means.

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  56. I'm in a hurry too. I don't know if there's TIME to do the kind of investigation Garland is known for, but then I read Marcy Wheeler's take on this investigation at https://www.emptywheel.net/2022/01/06/january-6-is-unknowable/. So, I'm looking for things to buy us time, because we don't want these assholes to wiggle out of this. The only thing I can think of is to push really hard for the voting rights legislation and, if we have to, call out the guard to monitor the election, and come down HEAVY on people trying to intimidate voters.

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  57. I think your finest service to our country began when you laid down your sword and pick up a pen. We need voices like yours in this fight for the nation.

    I believe in American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism is based on the ideals of the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal. America is exceptional, only to the extent that we live up to those ideals. Without that, we are just another nation playing the Great Game. Out country has never been perfect, and often it's been worse than average in living up to those ideals. We have plenty of history to be ashamed of. But a black man from Hawaii becoming president was one our better moments.

    Now we are being challenged by fascists who have paid lip service to patriotism, and used their puffed chest patriotism to attack their opponents for years. In reality, they believe only in their own power and wealth and will bow to anyone who promises them more of it.

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  58. I also want to thank you for writing this. Well written and very much to the point. It conveys the sense of urgency that we all need to be feeling. Thank you.

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  59. I've been reading your work for a few years and was reminded of your post Antipodes. Powerful words then and now. I appreciate the honesty and integrity in your words.

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  60. Thank you for this excellent article. Like you I also believe that electing Barack Obama as President started that little cancer in these horrible people spreading. They could not stand to see an African American in the Oval Office. Trump, or one of his cronies, saw that hate boiling up a long time ago and started their sly campaign to exploit it. Thanks again for your service and your patriotism.

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  61. Thanks, Jim. I mean, we knew, but it truly helps to have everything laid out in perspective.

    I remember Obama's election as a landslide. Do I misremember? Did I miss something? We embraced the dream, hopeful (!) to move beyond the dark years of that insipid war, away from the economic crush that was really only just beginning, and stalled as the opposition to all of that was emboldened in their hatred of all that our new President represented. It wasn't his ideals they hated, it was his appearance. My own brother started sending racist jokes, culminating in a montage of images of the new First Family-elect set to the tune of the theme from The Jeffersons. I put my foot down and told him to stop sending me those things or lose my number. (He apologized; I really think he didn't see the harm in it, and more's the pity.)

    You said it: the hate galvanized them. It woke the collective beast from its slumber, and avalanched downhill to Trump, and to January 6, 2021, tearing up the political, emotional, and moral terrain as it built speed. I've closed off friends and even distant (not as distant as I'd like) family because of this with no regrets, other than knowing people weren't who they'd appeared to be.

    We can't continue to be shocked and surprised that they're like this. We can't continue to hope they'll see reason and renounce their hate. There have to be legal repercussions, and we have to shore up the walls of our nation, not as a fortress but as our home, our ideal, our legacy.

    Until we stop them, they will continue to more and worse. We can do better. We have to do better.

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  62. As a Canadian: a friend and neighbor to you I am deeply worried by these events! Former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once said that: "Living next to you is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast, if I can call it that, one is affected by every twitch and grunt."
    You are the type of neighbour I wish to have! Not one of these proto fascist nutbars! Good luck and goodnight! https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/article-the-american-polity-is-cracked-and-might-collapse-canada-must-prepare/

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  63. Even when we celebrated Obama's election, I told my best friend, "All white, conservative hell is going to break loose because there will be a black man in the White House." And it did. You have perfectly described the horrifying evolution of the GOP. I fear that Biden and Garland are simply too weak to lead us through this moment. It's up to voters, and that scares the hell out of me. People are too distracted and just don't seem to grasp how fragile our democracy really is. But thank you for a brilliantly written piece.

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    1. after obama's reelection the onion put up a funny story called "After Obama Victory, Shrieking White-Hot Sphere Of Pure Rage Early GOP Front-Runner For 2016" and oh boy did they nail that.

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  64. 100% pure truth. I also believe that the very idea of a woman holding power traditionally reserved for men - and unspoken was the expectation that *only* men would ever be allowed to hold it - was another thing that unhinged these scum. They knew early on the rightful leader was not going to put up with their garbage so they spent 30 years making her out to be a demon - and because of their nonstop propaganda and their ruining of education, it worked. That and the insurrection are two things I will NEVER forgive.

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  65. Well said, well read, and well informed. Thank you Jim and as more unexpurgated evidence becomes clear, it is my hope that more Americans become galvanized by the facts. With truth as our shield and justice as our sword can we further the experiment of America. As an American I am aligned with your reasoning, a black man, I am emboldened by it as I have shared the same arguments albeit with much less aplomb and polish. Thank you Jim.

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  66. Karl and Dick and his daughter Liz are all right wing extremists with one fundamental difference from the maga mob of ultra conservatives. They still value the US Constitution! They still want the USA to survive and be governed by the laws of the Constitution.

    Trump is a mental child. We all knew this. We have always known this. On that night in November when we knew he'd been elected president, we knew it then and we knew we were in for some very strange and very dangerous crap. I recall back then quite well during that campaign how the gop leadership railed against trump, and saw how after the fact they all fell in line behind him and never said a discouraging word about him again. Now, will those gopers have the courage to voice them selves again? Of has maga locked the gate already?

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  67. I watched Merrick Garland give a little speech about what the DoJ is up to with the Jan 6th insurrection. There were hints that he is indeed running some investigations on those senators.

    However, that takes time. We citizens shouldn't wait for them. We have midterm elections coming up and it is our duty to show up at those polls and vote in people who will put the rule of law and democracy before themselves. Better roll-up our sleeves now and start paying attention to who is running in these elections.

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  68. Just before the 2008 election, I lost all respect for my parents when they said to me Sarah Palin would be a better president than Barrack Obama. I collapsed in tears. I couldn't look at them for months and I still have no respect for them. When Trump came along, they also loved him. These small business owners who prided themselves on honesty in business dealings had no problem with the grifting idiot who shafted workers and subcontractors on the regular. They changed utterly. This is the sorrow of my life, I'll never get over it.

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  69. So, Karl Rove is right. But his timing could be better. *Now* the GOP have a "duty?" After nurturing the beast for years, *now* they have to strangle it? Something about days and dollars comes to mind.

    EMH

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    1. felt the same reading the book _Everything Trump Touches Dies_ by one of the former GOP operatives who started Lincoln Project. He spends the whole book bragging his willingness to say and do anything to win and mocking Democrats for having norms and scruples.... then turns right around and says the PROBLEM with Trump is he's a scumbag who will do or say ANYTHING to win. Somehow despite describing his ruthless GOP "genius" and Trump's touch of death lack of scruple, he misses the connection! Of course the modern GOP is happy to use a sociopath conman as figurehead-- they have been preaching the doctrine of politics as total war since around 1992 (and mocking anyone WITH integrity or scruples as a loser, just like Trump!)

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  70. Back in 2008, when Obama won. I remember watching on some news channel how a bunch of Republicans in some sort of a meeting (I suppose they went there to have a "Victory Party" had Romney won) came to grip with the fact that he had won over Romney. The newscaster commented that throughout the night, as the bad news (for Republicans that is) piled on, the organizers only showed "good news", IE. they only showed results that were favorable to Romney or neutral stuff. When the whole thing was over I remember that they filmed a particular Republican who was outraged that Obama won, being told to "Take the High Road" and the man angrily replied "I AM taking the High Road". I remember thinking "oh boy". Obviously, up to that time, A lot of those people saw "race equality" as an abstract concept that really didn't affect them. After all, BEFORE Obama, the closest thing to a credible candidate what wasn't "white" had been Jessie Jackson Jr. (who never even made it past the Dem primaries) "Non-white" members of the US Congress have always been a minority. But that night, for them "SHIT GOT REAL". All the veiled "abstract" threats they had been fed from the likes of Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, and Co. became real. That was the "drop that made the glass spill" as we say in Spanish. Their latent racism came out in the open when they actually saw their "race supremacy" threatened, so to speak. I am not making any excuses for them. In this day and age, anyone who discriminates on anything different than character and/or actual merits is an idiot. Unfortunately there are way too many idiots. Specially in positions of responsibility and power. And way too many people who cater to them.

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  71. THIS. ALL of this. As a historian, I've been watching this slide and thinking back to the caning of Charles Sumner and 1860 and the horror of the Civil War, of rise of the Nazis, the beerhall putsch and the Reichstag fire, and all the horror that arose afterwards in both cases. I think about this history, and I want to weep and rage and scream to the heavens that WE ARE BETTER THAN THIS, that we don't have to travel this poisoned path, that we can remember and learn from our history, choose more wisely. But no, tribalism prevails now, a tribalism that relies on melanin content and ignorance and selfishness.

    And like you, I think we are heading for a second civil war. I know the steps we could take as a nation to stop it, but I doubt the political will is there to do what it will take. I agree that much of it is in reaction to the election of our first black president, that good, noble-hearted, dignified man who gave us his absolute best for 8 too-short years. But there is another strain here, Jim. Globally, we're seeing the rise of white supremacists: not just here, but also in the UK, in France for fucks sake, Australia, Germany, Austria, so many more. And they are all connected, all of these movements. It's international in scope. And that means we are in big, big trouble.

    I was listening to NewsHour on public radio in the car on my way home last night, and Dick Cheney, YES, Dick. Fucking. Cheney. was lambasting the insurrectionists. I just about ran off the highway, I was so shocked. Oh, he's absolutely correct, but that guy is part of the reason we're here now. The shameless hypocrisy blows my mind, and yet, coldly, a part of my brain feels at least some relief that even he sees what goes too far. I'll still hold Rove and Cheney and the rest of these cretinous liars in the deepest contempt for the lies that got us into Iraq, and I'll still feel honorbound to acknowledge that even they have a line they will not cross.

    Now, as for your writing today, I have to ask tongue-in-cheek if you've been possessed by the spirits of Mark Twain and H. L. Mencken, because you have absolutely outdone yourself in your invective. /sweeping off hat/ /descending into the deepest possible ballet reverence/ Respect, man, respect.

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  72. "When folly and lies are thus sown broadcast you necessarily reap insanity."
    — Émile Zola. J'Accuse...!

    Truer words never spoken. Just as true now as they were 120+ years ago.

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  73. Over the years, I have come to the knowledge that the highest of virtues are duty, truth and honor. Call of Duty is more than a video game. Unfortunately, those can be warped and used by bad actors, so it becomes a question of leadership to instill meaning and purpose to those vague notions.
    When I was eleven, I learned that a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. Fiftymumble years later, that is still a tough set of standards and a pretty damn good way to measure the worth of a person.

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  74. I think you are wrong, that you were taught decency and honor, and that your former colleagues forgot their lessons and you didn't. I think it's much more basic than that: at heart, you are a good and decent human being. And they aren't.

    You've both shown your true colors. You are, at base, a truly good person. They aren't, and almost certainly never were. The rot was always there, and circumstance revealed it.

    I have more respect and admiration for you than ever.

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  75. I'm fortunate to be involved in an email group with a former CIA officer who has naval experience as well as several men who teach history (among other subjects) at the college level and we have been discussing this subject since Tuesday.
    We've touched on many points you've mentioned, Jim, but key here are your comments about Obama - and those points have not been mentioned in our email chain. I've already passed on a link.
    As ever, thanks for your attempts to wake those still sleeping or loathe to participate.

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  76. The GOP want no minorities voting next time. Biden will take this personally, the antivaxx crew has us boiling over in variants and Joe will pay a personal price and probably die before year four.

    Kamala in highest office would drive voter turnout for the people that James Crow, Esq. and the Teabillies new Jim Crow 2.0 want to restrict.....

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  77. I posted your incredible column from a year ago on my Facebook page today when it came up in my memories. This one is spot-on and definitely deserves reposting.

    Much respect, Jim.

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  78. Saw a link to your site posted on Balloon Juice this morning... hadn't visited you in quite a while now, but always admired your way around the vocabulary. So I read several of your essays, and wanted to say, holy cow, you still have all the fire I remember!

    Putting the Anti-vaxxers in their place, the insurrectionists in their place, except their place is really in federal lockup for trying to overthrow our democratic form of government.

    Thanks for keeping their feet to the fire, the racists and wanna be fascists.

    J R in WV

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  79. I watched a lot of people change after Obama (Who I didn't vote for) was elected. It was like someone had flipped the clock back.

    It's only going to end in bloodshed.

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  80. Bravo Zulu, Chief.

    I had the thought in 2008 as Obama and Clinton faced off that we would see which "ism" would be worse; racism (elect a Black man) or sexism (elect a woman). Had the Republiqan party not spent 25 years creating the belief in Hilary Clinton as a gargoyle, I believe that she may have gotten the nomination, but I don't know that. I do know that Obama's election (and reelection) ripped the scab off the infected wound of racism that had almost begun to heal, and released the racist vitriol that we are seeing still.

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  81. AMEN! You captured it all here, Jim: the slide, the immorality (or is it just amoral?), the racism, the military mindset that has failed. The only one you didn't add in there is Flynn (who freaking was at my kid's graduation from OTS in December 2019).
    Much respect t from me (military spouse and mom) to you.

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  82. AMEN! You captured it all here, Jim: the slide, the immorality (or is it just amoral?), the racism, the military mindset that has failed. The only one you didn't add in there is Flynn (who freaking was at my kid's graduation from OTS in December 2019).
    Much respect t from me (military spouse and mom) to you.

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  83. I remember when liberal wasn't a dirty word. When conservatives and liberals argued about their vision of the country but both sides accepted that the other side did have the best interests of the country in mind. Now that's gone away.

    We have people like Mitch McConnell who reject proposals not because they think those ideas are wrong but because they were proposed by political opponents. We see people protesting Critical Race Theory who can't even tell you what it is. There are people who denounce the opposition as "Communists" but that word doesn't mean "followers of a specific socio-economic ideology" but "those we disagree with politically".

    Trump isn't a cause, he's a symptom. One reason why the January 6th coup failed is that Trump is incompetent. Unless things change in this country, sooner or later there will be another Trump, only this one will be competent.

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    1. Agreed! And with the courts, especially the Supremes, packed with right wingers, and all the gerrymandering and voter suppression, added to Dem voter apathy, the "next time" will sadly be sooner than we think!!

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  84. The only way out if this is to not elect these assholes to office. But that isn't happening. They are infiltrating every national and local govt office they can. They are noe German Cockroaches taking over.

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    1. The only way out of that is for Democrats to turn out to vote like they did for Obama. We must win by a margin that is beyond contesting.

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  85. Thanks Jim, never in a million years did I think, as tears of joy were running down my face watching Obama take the helm, that it would be such a defining moment in history as the beginning of tearing our republic apart. But it was. I've been with you from the beginning and I truly thank you for speaking loud and clear of the muffled truth.

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  86. Thankyou very much. I agree with all you have said and am so glad for the clarity you bring.

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  87. Not to defend Nazis, they weren’t elected to office so much as the Powers That Be put them in power. The PTB, being the leadership elite, assumed they could control Hitler. They assumed wrong.
    We, on the other hand, willingly kept electing politicians from a party that has presented an existential threat to the nation since at least the 1980s. And here we now are: essentially a failed state — see, the impossibility of a true, effective national response to a global pandemic. And vote rigging and ratf***ing legalized through recently enacted statutes — passed by the more patriotic party.
    Not saying the DNC isn’t complicit nor the mainstream media haven’t gone above and beyond enabling the GOP but neither initiated this collapse. Of course, the Republican voters are believers, so no matter what happens, they’ll be relatively content and submissive in their bubbles of denial.
    Maybe voters didn’t know what they were really voting for but they chose to elect what they did. That’s where the buck stops.

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  88. And the truth is that it was Trump who surrendered Afghanistan to the Taliban, ordered 5000 Taliban fighters released from prison, and cut the US military presence in half before he left office.

    Now Trump blames Biden for the surrender that Trump signed.

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  89. The first step should have been to refuse to seat the Representatives who supported what became the insurrection. Their names were known in advance. This action could have been arranged but was not. https://ranthonyings.com/2020/12/elections-have-consequences/ Now they have to be driven out of Congress, a longer, harder process. I have been hesitant to write anything on the subject of politics over the last year because I frankly was hoping that the people we elected knew how to deal with what was in front of them. After all, we can't change who we put there until the next election, the one that all the pundits say Republicans are a shoe-in to win. Something that can't be allowed to happen. So I'm open to suggestions. Anyone got any?

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    1. This is the only answer that I have to my own question: https://ranthonyings.com/2022/01/jesus-freak/ We take apart their beliefs. The remaining Trumpists are mostly evangelicals that have lost all contact with reality. They have to be brought into contact with reality again, somehow. Only then will the root of this cancer be burned out.

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  90. I'm extremely late reading this. I can't even describe the emotions I feel. I have followed you for a long time, and I'm so grateful for you.

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  91. Agree with you 100% Jim. My personal belief is to never underestimate the power of stupid and willful ignorance. That being said, I think Mel Brooks showed us in 'Blazing Saddles" how to prevent attacks on our institutions- toll booths. But seriously, I'm deeply saddened and disturbed that people I knew, liked and respected while in the Air Force & Navy and later on in the Fire Service, have chosen to ignore their oaths to support and defend the constitution and rabidly espouse the hate and venom we see today.

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    1. Always knew there were a lot of followers, easily led people. Some with lesser brain power than one would hope they would have. There will always be people too stupid to realize the world is not flat and the Moon Walk really did happen. But what has gone on with all this Trump stuff, and then the virus, has made me see some people, some family and friends, in a new light. When someone agrees with Trump that there are good people on both sides, and one side is full of Nazis, white supremacists and David Duke anti-semetics, I guess you could say that is cause for a parting of the ways!!

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  92. Racism almost lost us World War 2. Now, racism is threatening to destroy our democracy.

    Remember the surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor? But for racism blinding the decision-makers, it would not have been a surprise. Consider the following:

    "One historical fact that is not open to dispute, however, is the mock raid that was staged on Pearl Harbor on February 7, 1932, as part of a military exercise designed to test Pearl Harbor's vulnerability to a surprise attack. "
    ...
    "Yarnell maintained that Japan "had always started operations by attacking before a declaration of war." Accordingly, he designed an attack plan that utilized carrier aviation to launch a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Pearl's defenders had anticipated that Yarnell would attack with his battleships. Instead, he left his battleships behind and advanced with the carriers Saratoga and Lexington to a point north-northeast of Hawaii. At dawn, on Sunday February 7, 1932, Yarnell launched his attack with a force of 152 planes from the two carriers. His attack force first attacked the airfields and then proceeded to attack the ships along battleship row."
    ...
    The umpires declared that Yarnell's attack had been a complete success and declared him the winner. The Army and Navy brass, however, would have none of it. They complained that Yarnell had cheated....Most importantly, the Navy argued, low level precision bombing of battleships at anchor was unrealistic since "everyone knew that Asians lacked sufficient hand-eye coordination to engage in that kind of precision bombing."

    The First Attack: Pearl Harbor, February 7, 1932

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  93. A question for Jim
    How many of the people that have disappointed you are our generation?
    Baby boomers and half the following generation

    We were brain damaged as children by lead in petrol - that killed our sense of empathy - we doubled the murder rate when we were in our peak crime years
    The brain damage never heals
    I'm beginning to wonder if its worse than that
    Is it possible that the damage gets WORSE as we age??

    Which is why I would ask Jim
    Is it just the old ones that have disappointed you
    Or is it people from later generations a well?

    It would be nice to believe that this madness is temporary - and that later generations would not suffer from it

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  94. My first time commenting on your blog. I'm not a regular reader of it, though that may well change. I've stopped in on occasion and have never been disappointed.

    Your analysis of how we got here is bang-on. When Obama was first elected to the presidency I thought we, as a nation, had finally turned a corner. Then I saw people posting about how he had stirred up racism. I thought, no, he didn't stir it up. Just by being a <¡gasp!> Black President the racism revealed itself.

    The allusion to 1930s Germany is also apt. Hitler did not create an antisemitic nation. Antisemitism was alive and well there. In like manner, Cult45 capitalized on the racism already deeply rooted in American society.

    Was January 6th, 2021 America's Beer Hall Putsch? The parallels are disturbing. Following Hitler's release from prison for his treason conviction he worked toward taking over by legal means, and succeeded. Republican led states around the US are currently working to make voting extremely inconvenient in Democratically leaning districts.

    You're again correct in saying this should be cut out like a cancer. The insurrectionists who stormed the Capital should all be tried for treason. The members of Congress who aided and abetted them should likewise be tried for treason right on up to Cult45 himself.

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  95. wow...best one yet Master Chief...I would like to spread this to the group at Political Wire...a very intelligent and caring group....I hear you Chief...

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  96. You are exactly right. Stop the screaming and DO SOMETHING. I wish trump had never happened; he sickened the country and this wishy-washy charging of the seditious leaders has to replaced by vigorous prosecution.

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  97. They like to say that "They will be judged by history." I say they should be judged by judges, in a courtroom, starting tomorrow. Maybe 3-6 in Leavenworth at hard labor might change their outlook.

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  98. Jim, thank you so much for this. I am currently in a version of your former job - different geographic area, but same thing. Your description of the appropriate training, experience, and **courage** to speak truth to power got me in the heart and in my primordial brain stem, because that is how I was trained and how I operate. Thank you for expressing the difficulty of this job; as the kids say, "I feel seen." Thank you for this piece overall, which seamlessly ties that job, its role and significance (which our Former Dear Leader discarded like used tissue if he wasn't wiping his posterior with it) to how we got to here, and how we get out. Thank you.

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  99. And here I am getting shots in my arm when all I have to do is drink urine!
    Why doesn't my doctor tell me about this!

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/anti-vax-leader-christopher-key-urges-followers-to-drink-their-own-urine-to-fight-covid-19

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