Friday, June 28, 2024

Galloping Bullshit


The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude bigger than that needed to produce it.
-- Brandolini's Law, also: The Bullshit Asymmetry Principle

I can't say I'm surprised. 

The debate was ugly right from the introductions. 

Bash and Tapper looked like they were presiding over an execution. 

Biden started out with a persistent cough and sounded like he had a cold. To be brutally honest, his age was very much on display. 

And there was Trump with what has become his trademark scowl and angry victim demeaner. 

No one was in good humor, none of them looked like they wanted to be there. 

And it didn't take long to realize The Press was going to fail democracy once again. 

I was live posting on Threads and I think my first comment thirty seconds in set the tone for the rest of the night.

The moderators went after Biden first thing. 

President Biden, inflation has slowed, but prices remain high. Since you took office, the price of essentials has increased. For example, a basket of groceries that cost $100, then, now costs more than $120. And typical home prices have jumped more than 30 percent. What do you say to voters who feel they are worse off under your presidency than they were under President Trump?

Biden's answer was predictable. He immediately put the onus on Trump, 

We’ve got to take a look at what I was left when I became president, what Mr. Trump left me...

Biden talked about the economy in freefall, the Pandemic and how Trump mishandled it, dying people, injecting bleach, etc. The economy collapsed, no jobs, unemployment at 15 percent. Terrible. 

Then Biden talked about how "we" had to put things back together again, 15,000 new jobs. 800,000 manufacturing jobs. More to be done. Working class people still in trouble. Biden mentioned he was from a working class family in Scranton, PA. Price of eggs. Price of gas. Price of housing. All those things are personal to him. And he's working hard to bring prices down, cap rents, rein in corporate greed, bring down the price of prescription drugs, cap the prince of insulin for seniors, etc. 

In addition to that, we’re in a situation where if you had to take a look at all that was done at his administration, he didn’t do much at all. By the time he left, there’s – things were in chaos, literally chaos.

That's a good answer. 

Here. On the screen. 

But Biden had something going on with his voice. A cold. An incipient cough. A frog in his throat. And even though it was a good answer, it came out feeble and weak. 



If you watched, you know I'm right. Biden looked old. There's no way around that. Pretending otherwise isn't going to help. 

I warned you about this. 

Debates are not about fact. Debates are theater. No one watches debates for polite exchanges by reasonable people. You watch a debate for the same reason you watch NASCAR or reality TV or the WWF.

Debates are about appearance. 

Let me give you an example. Many years ago I was participating in a cookoff. Chili. Now, I'm pretty good at it. I've won awards for my recipe, I've won a number of contests here and there over the years and I've got the trophies to prove it. But the rules of this contest were different, they allowed for toppings to be added after the initial test tasting. So, after the initial sampling, one of the judges added sour cream and cheese to his bowl. That changed the color of my entry from rich dark red to a light orange. 

Which he then gleefully announced looked like "baby shit." 

Tasted great, he said. First place, taste wise. But it looked like baby shit. Baby shit. Baby shit. He kept saying it. 

Didn't matter that he's the one who changed the appearance. 

Didn't matter that he wasn't deliberately trying to prejudice the results. 

Didn't matter that he thought the taste was first place. 

What mattered was "baby shit."

(I learned later that he and his wife recently had become parents and that likely influenced his comments)

And from that point forward, I was doomed to lose because no matter how good my chili tasted, the only thing the other judges would remember was "baby shit." 

Biden was right. He gave a good answer. It was obvious he was prepared, knew the right things to say, where to put the blame, he used "we" instead of "I" in all the right places. 

But it was baby shit. 

He looked weak and feeble. He kept clearing his throat. He was too quiet -- yes, likely working around his disability, and the ableism that will no doubt be the subject of the New York Times editorials for the next month is certainly something we should talk about. Nevertheless there it was. And there it was immediately on every livestream that I was following, left and right and those pretending impartiality. 

It's about perception.

And once someone puts "baby shit" into the public consciousness, well, no matter how good the recipe tastes you're going to lose. 

And that's how it started. Right there. 

At first, Trump was restrained. 

Well, restrained for Trump. He was likely coached to rein it in. To adhere to the rules. To avoid wandering off into a discussion of sharks and batteries and his unhinged lunacy. 

His answers were the usual nonsense, every declaration ending in "the likes of which we've never seen." Which is the only time he uses "we" and not "I." He was mad, obviously so, glowering like an old 1970s red leather chair that's faded over the years to the color of blotchy orange baby shit. 

He has not done a good job. He has done a poor job. And inflation’s killing our country. It is absolutely killing us.

But in contrast to Biden, well, Trump seemed on his game. 

It was fucking ugly. 

And it did indeed get uglier. 

It was a shoving match between two old angry men who hate each other. 

Biden started to find his footing, but it didn't take long for Trump to lose any appearance of restraint and go full Trump. 

Thirty minutes in and on the subject of abortion and Trump was running roughshod over the debate rules, as expected. Tapper and Bash were trying to hold him down, but by then Trump was wielding a machinegun of rapid-fire bullshit, spraying obvious lies -- and accidental obvious truths that his handlers probably wished he hadn't, like this beauty: 

Like Ronald Reagan, I believe in the exceptions, I am a person that believes. And frankly, I think it’s important to believe in the exceptions. Some people, you have to follow your heart, some people don’t believe in that. But I believe in the exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother. I think it’s very important. Some people don’t. Follow your heart. But you have to get elected also and – because that has to do with other things. You’ve got to get electedThe problem they have is they’re radical because they will take the life of a child in the eighth month, the ninth month, and even after birth – after birth.

I believe in exceptions, but you've got to get elected (and obviously with Republicans and fanatical evangelicals you can't do that by supporting abortion in any form), so now I'm going to immediately lie about Democrats wanting to kill babies after they're born.

Where do you start?

How do you respond? 

Because that was the dismount after two full minutes of absolute bullshit starting with Trump declaring 

Fifty-one years ago, you had Roe v. Wade, and everybody wanted to get it back to the states, everybody, without exception, Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives. Everybody wanted it back. Religious leaders.

Everyone. Democrats. Liberals. Everyone wanted Roe v. Wade overturned. 

Now that is obvious bullshit. Utter nonsense. That never happened. And what followed was even more obvious bullshit, a whole barnyard of bullshit. 

But where do you start?

Trump got two full minutes to spray this firehose of bullshit, falsehood after falsehood, and Biden got one minute to respond, followed by Trump getting another full minute of rebuttal. 

It's called the Gish Gallop. 

It's a rhetorical technique used to defeat normal debate rules. It's where you overwhelm your opponent with bullshit, that is an excessive number of arguments with no regard for the accuracy or strength of those arguments. Quantity, not quality. A dozen subjects, related or not. There's no way to remember it all it, let along counter it in the time allotted. It was named for Duane Gish, a creationist who in any debate with actual evolutionary scientists would spew rapid fire nonsense, making a coherent response next to impossible in any sort of live debate format. Creationists in the audience didn't care about the words, they were there to see those snooty God hating scientists get owned. It's the same here. 

Trump isn't doing it on purpose, or rather I mean Trump isn't doing it as some sort of learned discipline. Trump does it because that's who he is -- an endless source of high pressure liquid bullshit. 

There was no way for Biden or CNN to address each of Trump's lies in the established format of the debate. It's not possible for anyone. That's why the gallop works. 

Biden should have been ready for it.

Yes, Biden should have been ready for it, because this is what Trump does. He does it every time. In every conversation. In every rally. In every speech. In every debate. Biden should have been ready for it. There are tactics for countering the Gish Gallop and Biden should have been prepared. His handlers should have prepped him. He should have practiced those techniques. 

Anyone who engages Trump should be ready for it.

Because Trump is a one trick pony. That's all he's got. Galloping bullshit. 

It's not all on Biden. CNN bears plenty of blame here too, as does the rest of The Press who are already this morning declaring Trump's victory in the lede and burying the cautionary caveats far, far down in the text that no one reads. 

CNN should have been fact checking in real time. 

Yes, there are those who would have protested fact checking as prejudicial to their candidate. 


That's what happens when your guy spews lie after lie. 

The point of presidential debates, allegedly, is to provide the voting public with the information they need to make an informed decision at the polls. That is the reason why The Press is the only private enterprise granted a specific enumerated right in the Constitution. The Press's responsibility is to democracy, to the Republic, not to any particular ideology or political party -- otherwise they don't deserve Constitutional protection. And if the fascism they're enabling gets into power, they'll be the first ones against the wall. 

CNN should have been fact checking in real time, both for Trump and for Biden. Failure to do so is a dereliction of duty. No one gives a shit about fact checking the debate a day later. If you're trying to influence voters, what matters is the moment. That's what people remember. 

Biden should have been prepared for Trump's galloping bullshit. 

Biden should have stuck to his strengths: intellect, the political zinger and above all, humor. 

Everyone involved looked grim. But Biden, well, he's got a great sense of humor. He can mock his opponent without being mean. He can make the other guy look ridiculous without effort, he's been doing it for 40 years in Congress and it was apparent from Republican panic before the debate, that's exactly what they expected him to do. 

But he didn't. 

It's water under the bridge now. 

It's not a disaster. 

Obama bombed his first debate. 

But he got himself elected twice in a landslide. 

I doubt this will have much impact on the election. 

Four years ago, you said "Vote blue no matter who" and "I'd vote for a ham sandwich with rancid mayonnaise over Trump."

We elected Biden to be not Trump and it turns out the ham sandwich has done a pretty decent job. 

Nothing has changed in that regard. 

What has changed is this: the damage Trump did continues to echo years after he left office. The chaos he caused continues to swirl. We're going to have to not only stop and reverse those effects, we have to completely undo it, before we can get back to where we were -- let alone make any progress. Exactly as you were repeatedly warned. And yes, I am talking about the Supreme Court, along with many other things. And again, you were warned over and over and over again. And here we are. 

The debate didn't change that. 

You're faced with the same choices and it doesn't matter if you don't like them, they are the choices.

Now, we can either keep slogging forward, up hill, knee deep in stinking bullshit, or we can give up and lay down and drown in it. 

Same as it ever was. 

I wish Biden was better at debates, but he's not and that's just how it is. 

I wish Trump was a better human being, but he's very much not and he's never going to be, and the odds are he's going to get even worse if we let him back into power. 

Your choices haven't changed. 

The danger hasn't changed, it's only gotten worse.

The people whose lives we must protect, that hasn't changed. 

Our duty to the Republic, to democracy, to the future we leave our children, that hasn't changed. 

The man Biden is, and the man Trump most certainly isn't, well, that hasn't changed. 

Who wins or loses the debate doesn't matter. 

Who wins the election does. 

And you are the one who will decide. 

A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don't have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.
-- Nelson Mandela

Thursday, June 27, 2024

Chess With A Pigeon


A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.
-- Hillary Clinton

Has Donald Trump pulled out yet?

That's a Stormy Daniels reference. 

Ba dump bump!

Huh? Huh?

Okay. Sorry, to start out with a dick joke, but I'm jacked up on espresso this morning. 

But, seriously, has Trump pulled out of the debate yet? 

It's fascinating watching Republicans frantically opening an escape route for Trump to bail out of the confrontation that Trump himself demanded.

“Ready and Willing to Debate Crooked Joe”

“I would strongly recommend more than two debates and, for excitement purposes, a very large venue, although Biden is supposedly afraid of crowds. That’s only because he doesn’t get them!”

“Just tell me when, I’ll be there. ‘Let’s get ready to Rumble!!!'”

That was Trump, a month ago on his Truth Social platform, full of the usual piss and vinegar and greasy bravado. Anytime! Anywhere! 

Let's get ready to ruuuuummmble!

But a funny thing happened on the way to the debates.

Joe Biden accepted the challenge. 

Careful what you wish for, I guess. 

At first, Trump and his advisors were practically drooling at the idea of Trump and Biden facing off again in front of America. 

And why wouldn't they, right? 

Trump would be in his element. Loud. Off script and off the leash. Overbearing. Bullying. Full of bravado and mean little insults. 

The crowd loves that. 

I mean, no one watches racing to see cars go around in a circle. It's the crashes, the flaming death, the tires flying into the crowd, that's what we're waiting for. Otherwise you might just as well set up a lawn chair next to the highway. 

That's why Americans watch debates.

Spectacle. Death. Destruction. 

That's Trump. You can't shut him up. He won't follow the rules. He won't stay on his side of the stage. You're not watching him for the statesmanship!

Hell, Trump himself referenced professional wrestling in his challenge. Let’s get ready to Rumble!!! That's what the MAGAs want to see, Trump coming after Biden, verbally, physically, mentally. Bam! Bam! Socko! And give him the chair! Give him the chair! 


Show! Spectacle! Bread and circuses. 


Except then Trump's inner circle started remembering how Biden has been doing this for 40 years. And maybe he's lost a step or two, but he's a professional. 

And Trump sure as hell isn't. 

Biden's got a pretty thick skin. 

And Trump? Well, like the lady said "A man you can bait with a tweet..." 

And then guys like Steve Bannon and Ronny Jackson started thinking about what's going to happen when Joe Biden, who's been doing this for 40 years, baits Trump into going off on some unhinged rant about, oh, say, pants?

"...a lot of people say to me today the toughest business people, people that you know about, could I ask you a question, how do you do it? I say do what? How do you get up in the morning and put your pants on? Why do you put those pants on, I'll explain it to you some day. How do you do it, how do you get up, how do you do it?"

Or this

"They say, oh, he's talking about, he's talking about Silence of the Lambs. And I say the late Great Hannibal Lecter. Oh, he likes Hannibal Lecter. No, they're crazy. I walk into a wall purposely. I look at that wall. Oh, that's, that's perfect. Sometimes they don't have a wall. You're free standing. It doesn't. But I imitate him and I, I, you know, walk into a wall and the next day they write, Donald Trump could not find his way off the stage. So I don't even do it anymore"

Or this

“How about George Washington high school? ‘Oh we want the name removed from that high school.’ They don’t know why. You know, they thought he had slaves. Actually I think he probably didn’t.’”

 Or this

"I said, 'Dana, I have an idea. Why don't you set up a migrant league of fighters! And have your regular league of fighters. And then you have the champion of your league, these are the greatest fighters in the world, fight the champion of the migrants?!'"

Or imagine what happens if Biden brings up this Trump idea?

"What I will do is this: you graduate from a college, I think you should get automatically, as part of your diploma, a green card to be able to stay in this country, and that includes junior colleges.”

And that was Trump just this week. 

Biden, he might be slowing down, but nobody needs to worry about him going off into crazyland, ranting about sharks and batteries and handing out free green cards. 

Now, sure, Trump's cultish supporters love him even harder the more insane he gets. They don't understand most of the world anyway. They don't understand science or geopolitics or even how to manage a 4-way stop without killing themselves. When experts talk, they don't understand anything, the words mean nothing, they don't have the education or the intelligence to comprehend and they don't have the intellectual curiosity to find out. So, when Trump doesn't make sense, it sounds the same and they assume he must be a genius too. 

They resent the experts for making them feel stupid. 

They love Trump because he hates the experts just like they do. 

He connects to them on an emotional level. He makes it okay for them to be stupid and hateful and proudly ignorant. They don't see some ridiculous story about sharks and batteries, instead they feel a mean little sense of belonging because Trump is up there mocking the things they don't understand,. They're toadies to the bully and it makes them feel good about themselves. 

But, that only works if Trump is allowed to ignore the rules, dominate the microphone, and bully his opponent by repeatedly interrupting and pandering to a live audience for mean little laughs and spiteful cheers. 

That's Trump's only strength. 

Trump can't win on policy, he doesn't have any. 

Trump can't win on his record, and certainly not on his party's record, and the less said about that the better.

Trump can't win on the issues, he has no idea what they are and doesn't care. 

Trump can only win if he's a bully. And that's what his supporters want. That show. It makes them feel good about themselves. 

Trump doesn't know any other way, because that's the only thing that's worked for him his entire life, from sexual partners to business partners. He's a bully, that's his only trick. 

Then the rules for the debate came out.

Rules that Trump's own people agreed to. Just like that trial in New York, the one that convicted Trump of 34 felonies, Trump's own lawyers agreed to the jury.

Just like Trump's campaign agreed to muted microphones. No live studio audience. No notes. No sitting. Just a pen, paper, and a water bottle on the stage. That's it. 

Trump only agreed to those rules because he has absolutely no intention of adhering to them. I doubt he even listened when CNN was laying it out, just like he slept through jury selection. 

Trump has never adhered to the rules. And why should he? His entire life, America has repeatedly made it pretty damn obvious that the rules don't apply to Donald J. Trump. Trump has never, ever, not once been held to account. Sexual assault? Fraud? Treason? Sedition? He gets out of it all. Why would he even consider following the rules this time? 

Except, well, maybe he's going to have to and that's when Republicans started to get scared.

That's when Trump's campaign started looking for the exit. 

That's when they started lining up their excuses.

It's obvious Trump supporters have absolutely no confidence in their flabby ill-prepared addlepated fly-haired messiah. 

Republicans are so convinced of Trump's weakness when he has to follow the rules, that they are literally terrified of an old man with a can of Mountain Dew. 

And they should be. 

So, I won't be entirely surprised if Trump bails out at the last minute. 

I'm sure that's what his inner circle is telling him to do. 

Get out. Cut and run while you can. Claim the whole thing is rigged, his dipshit supporters will buy that, of course. Accuse Biden of cheating. Declare victory. It'll work. 

I'm sure that's what they're telling him right now. 

But he won't. 

Trump will show up. Confident that he can ignore the rules and do what he always does. All bluster and bombast, insults and zingers, and the swaggering bully. Trump has never in his entire life been able to walk away from a TV camera or a microphone. He doesn't have the intellect or the self-control. 

He's not going to fake a heart attack. No, he'll be there. 

He can't help it. 

He's not going to listen to his advisors. They'd have to shoot him with a tranquilizing dart and throw a net over him to keep him from that stage. 

Let's get ready to rumble! 

Show. Spectacle. Entertainment for the masses. 

That's how Trump sees everything

That's how his supporters see it. 

That's how far too many Americans see it. 

Debates are not about the issues. It's not about facts and knowledge. It's not about competence or ability. 

It's not a job interview. 

It's spectacle. 

And that's what Donald Trump is good at. It's the only thing he's good at. That's why he's going to "win" the debate, or thinks he will anyway. 

(Note: win is in quote marks)

It doesn't matter how goddamn insane he is. How stupid. How bizarre. How incoherent. How obnoxious. How much he contradicts himself or how much he lies. He could pull down his diaper and shit on the stage. 

No matter what happens on that stage tonight, Trump will declare victory and The Press will go along with it. 

Because it's just spectacle. It won't change anyone's mind. You all know who you're voting for.

Oh, I see you. 

In the back, waving your hand, red in the face. 

What about the undecideds?! I hear you shout. What about them? Huh?

What about them?

Who told you there was some huge pool of undecided voters left in America? Was it the people selling debates for profit? Was it them? Was it the press who interviews a thousand people firm in their decision until they get to Cat Piss Guy and that's who they put on TV?

If you're undecided at this point, the odds are pretty damn good you're not going to show up anyway. If you don't care enough to have picked a side by now, you're not going to be watching the debate anyway. 

I asked my audience on social media: At this point in any election, has a debate ever changed your mind?

At this point in the process have you ever been undecided?

Have you really?

Across my social media platforms I got thousands of responses. 

Every single one of them: no. 

Five thousand people told me: At this point in the election, no debate has ever changed my mind. 

Now, I will admit that's hardly a scientific poll. Those people follow me, most of them. They're engaged. They've chosen a side long ago, that's likely why they follow me -- it sure ain't for my charming personality. 

Still, I have to wonder why we all think others are any less committed to their beliefs? 

Or lack of belief?

The armies are arrayed, the battlelines are drawn, and everyone who plans on fighting has chosen sides. 

Tonight the next president of the United States will take the stage and if you haven't already figured out what kind of future you're voting for, well, I doubt this spectacle will make much of a difference. 

Unless you're running a high school debating team, debates are a lousy way to choose a leader. 

But they're a great way to keep the population entertained.

The people who once upon a time bestowed military commands, high civil offices, legions, and everything else, now restrains itself, and instead, eagerly hopes for just two things: bread and circuses
-- Juvenal, Poet of Ancient Rome

Tuesday, June 25, 2024

What We Ought


A man who neglects his rights as a citizen
is not entitled to his rights as a citizen

-- Tiorio

Joe Biden doesn't inspire me.

Said I, ironically. 

I said it on social media yesterday (that's a screenshot of the offending post on one of the platforms where I said it)

I said the same a week ago in a similar post. 

I'll probably say it again at some future date and for the same reasons. 

Joe Biden doesn't inspire me. 

Now, given the context of that post, given my background, given the literally millions of words I've written on the subject of citizenship over the last two decades, it would seem to me that the irony would be obvious.

He said, ironically, yet again, knowing damn well that it wouldn't be. 

Here's Trump again bragging about some horrible thing he did and I'm just not inspired to vote against him, right? 

My comment was meant as biting sarcasm, because that's what I do best. 

The context seemed rather obvious, maybe too obvious I thought. My audience would be all, yeah, yeah, we get it, Jim. You're beating that poor horse into glue. 

But such are the times we live in that for many, it wasn't. Obvious, that is.

So, to be clear: my statement was sarcastic commentary on those who during the last two elections said, Joe Biden doesn't inspire me, Hillary Clinton doesn't inspire me. Democrats don't inspire me. And here we are. 

I'm just not inspired. 

That's what they said. 

The thought of losing my rights, the threat of others losing theirs, that's not enough to motivate me. The threat of literal fascism marching in the streets of America, that's not enough to get me to the polls. A Supreme Court of partisan hacks bought and paid for by billionaires, I'm just not worried about that, not enough to get excited anyway. The rise of religious fanaticism just doesn't do it for me. Nor does violent racism, or  jingoism, nationalism, war, or the loss of our allies and a new alignment with our enemies. Hillary wears pantsuits, Joe is old, meh, let's see what's on Netflix. 

It's not my problem. 

Or, well, okay, maybe it is. But, still, I need to like the candidate. They have to excite me. They have to earn my vote. They have to connect with me. I need to be inspired

I need a unicorn. 

Or I'm just not going to show up. 

Right? You remember. 

What's that? Oh, you don't remember? Yeah, funny how short our collective memory is, ain't it? 

You can find those very comments right here on this blog. Take a look at my social media feeds. Roll back to 2015-16, 2019-20. I wrote thousands of words about it and got tens of thousand of comments -- from uninspired Progressives and far left liberals who told me they weren't going to show if they didn't get a pony and pat on the head.

Hell, look at the elections. Sure, Biden won the last time around, but it was a close thing and it shouldn't have been. 

Look at the House and tell me why there's a Republican majority hung like a millstone around Biden's neck? 

I wrote about it in such volume and in such frequency during the last twenty years of elections that now I am uninspired to write about it any more -- which is one of the reasons you see so few long-form essays from me these days. 

It really started to feel like pissing into the wind. 

But I digress. 

Look, you don't have to get it from me, you can find those very comments right now, today, across social media. Some are foreign agents trying to keep you home and put Trump back in office, true, but sadly many are not. 

(In fairness, I got thousands of responses from those who understood their duty and who intended to do it even if they had to crawl through broken glass to the polling station. Vote blue, no matter who, remember? And they did, thankfully)

But it was the ones who weren't inspired then and who tell me they're just not inspired now that I was sarcastically mocking. The ones mad about a war in a foreign land or inflation or global warming or whatever single issue cause is worth burning down civilization for. 

Joe Biden just doesn't inspire me, they say. 

Joe Biden doesn't inspire me, I said, ironically quoting those Americans. 

A lot of my audience got it. 

But a some didn't and, boy, were they mad. 

Whadayya mean, you ain't inspired! How dare you not be inspired! Why, Joe Biden is the most inspirational president since Jesus! He's practically Washington, Lincoln, and FDR all rolled into one! How can you not be inspired? What are you, some sort of Trump voter? 

One guy suggested I be hauled away by "brownshirts" as a fitting punishment for not being sufficiently inspired. 

When he found out I was being ironic, he got even madder and more insulting. 

He wasn't the only one. I've got an inbox here full of threats and hate and anger from self described lefties. 

I'm not sure what the goal is, the point of this hate.

I asked, but I never got an answer. 

Oh, you're not inspired? Weeell, I hope the Nazis come and haul you away! You ignorant dipshit!

What's the objective of wishing some (assumed) uninspired progressive into the cornfield? 

(for the record: I'm neither uninspired or a progressive. Nor am I actually a democrat. And I'm only a liberal in comparison to the hard right turn this country has made in recent years)

For my critic, it's not enough to vote for Joe Biden, you have to be inspired or you deserve to get murdered by fascists.  

Tell me, how is that better, more moral, more righteous than those MAGA Republicans threatening to murder and imprison the jurists who convicted Trump of crimes in New York? That's like wishing rape on someone sent to prison, as I pointed out to my critic. He didn't get it. That said I wouldn't wish that violation on anyone including Trump should he ever actually be held accountable for his crimes. And you shouldn't either -- if you're the people you say you are anyway. 

I get the anger. 

I feel it myself. 

But where's the moral high ground in wishing horror on your enemies -- or on those who, in point of fact, might even be your allies, except they're not enthusiastic about it enough to suit you? 

Which is it? The cheering or the results that matter?

Joe Biden doesn't inspire me.

Even if I hadn't meant that ironically, it's not a particularly controversial statement. 

Certainly not controversial enough to wish Nazis on someone. 

A politician doesn't inspire me and so what? I'm not in a cult. 

Do you have to be inspired to vote for the guy? 

Really? Do you have to be illuminated by a divine light from heaven accompanied by a chorus of angels in order to do your duty to the Republic? 

Do you really?

Me? I don't need to be inspired to vote for good and against bad. 

I don't need inspiration to stand against fascism and insanity and the violent implosion of civilization. 

I don't even need to be excited about it. 

I mean, if my choices are the runny shit sandwich that is Donald Trump or literally anything else, I'm going to march my uninspired ass down to the polling station, pushing aside armed goons in MAGA hats if I have to, and do my job as a citizen. 

I don't need to be excited about it. 

I don't need a pat on the head and an attaboy.

I don't need to be inspired. 

For more than twenty years in uniform, I did my duty to my country. There were damn few days I felt particularly inspired by it. Most of those days were goddamn grim indeed, that's the nature of war and of serving under leaders who lie to you and a citizenry who thinks you're some sort of monster or robot -- until they need you to be a hero. But again, I digress. 

It was my job and I did it, because if I didn't others would suffer for my dereliction. 

Likewise, I don't need inspiration to do my job as a citizen. 

Joe Biden doesn't inspire me and so what? 

You know who's inspired? 


Shouting crowds of wannabe fascists. Oh, are they ever inspired. 

There was nothing more inspiring than a hundred thousand Germans shouting Heil Hitler! Heil Hitler! as that charismatic madman ranted about Jews and communists and led them to ruin and death while heroic music thundered over the field and the Swastika banners cracked in the cold wind.

Goddamn, you talk about inspiring! 

A century later and there is no one more inspired than a crowd of dimwitted goons in MAGA hats and Fuck Your Feelings t-shirts shouting Make America Great Again! as another charismatic madman rants about sharks and batteries and building walls to keep the undesirables from getting a piece of America for themselves. 

The same feverish glow of inspiration shines in their eyes just as it did at Nuremberg all those years ago. 

The choices in this election couldn't be more stark. 

So a lot of people are fired up and, yeah, maybe they're finally inspired enough to vote for a politician, or at least against the other one. 


Maybe it will be inspiration that decides the fate of our nation this time around. 

But what about those elections where it's not life and death? 

What about those elections where it's just the dogcatcher? Or the local mayor. Or a couple of judges. Or some ballot initiative that has no impact on you either way? 

What about those off-year elections where you're just voting on your Congressman? 

Nothing very inspiring about those elections, is there? 

So why show up at all? 

If you have to be inspired, well, you won't. 

And then others will suffer.

Because when you don't show up we end up here.

You see, it's not about inspiration. 

It's not about excitement. 

It's not about liking a politician. 

It's not about you

It's about civilization. 

It's about all those who depend on us. It's about giving voice to the voiceless. It's about lifting up others. It's about defending those who can't defend themselves and it's about standing as allies with those who can. 

It's about being on the right side of history. 

It's about leadership, it's about citizenship, it's about duty, it's about doing your goddamn job because it's your goddamn job and nobody else's. 

It's about being an adult. 

You don't need a pony or a pat on the head. 

And if you only show up because you're inspired, well, then you're a shitty excuse for a citizen and a human being.

Guess what? You're not a fucking hero.

You're something more, better, you're a American and it's your goddamn job to do the grunt work of democracy, not for yourself but for future generations. 

You don't need to be inspired. 

Instead, you must be the inspiration for others

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

In doing what we ought we deserve no praise, because it is our duty.
-- Saint Augustine