Not to worry, unless you’re made of mostly water

Amid all the other chaos our chaos monkey president is involved in, it should be recalled how hastily and unconditionally he took the United States out of the Paris Climate Accords.   This international agreement was a first step toward setting goals to avert the looming climate disaster that we can all easily see gathering.   He did this because he says that so-called climate change is a Chinese hoax.    Some of the best scientists apparently say so, according to the man who sincerely consoled the people of Toledo the other day for the slaughter by automatic rifle in Dayton.  (At the end of a teleprompter statement in which he condemned racist violence with all the sincerity of a carefully reading, mouth breathing zombie.)

We know, of course, why, aside from the strong opinions of the unbelievable (literally) Mr. Trump, the USA is the only country where there is a “debate” about what everyone can see with their own eyes, feel with their own skin.   The earth is getting warmer, the last four years have been the hottest on record, last month was the hottest month ever.

This warming causes water to evaporate faster, among other things (like increasing desertification of the earth).   The warming is caused by increased greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (largely from burning fossils and the dairy/meat industry) in the atmosphere.   We have known for literally a half a century or more, Exxon did a pioneering study in the 70s.   

Yet in America there is skepticism about all this. The fossil fuel industry spent a ton of money, over decades, to suppress their own scientific findings and create “climate change skepticism”, a movement very much like “Birtherism” or “Trumpism” itself, sustained only because millions or even billions of dollars are poured into relentlessly promoting it.   Only in America, folks, is there any debate about this deadly warming trend or its causes.

Now we come to water.   The human body, we learn, is up to 60% water. [1]   We need to drink water, in some form, regularly.  We need more water as it becomes hotter.   We can last many days without food, it turns out, but very few without water, particularly in the heat.    The disappearance of drinkable water for many millions is likely to be the first step on the road to real, massive human cataclysm.  We hear very little about increasing water scarcity, though anyone who has ever considered it is very alarmed about it.

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This is part of what I am thinking of when I advocate for a party platform.  Take a clear, unambiguous position, Democrats.    Any candidate running against Trump would, for example, commit to advancing public knowledge about approaching climate disaster, the steps needed to slow it and promise to fight for certain measures to slow it. 

Look at what makes a given crisis worse and what improves the situation, commit to improvement, say so in a short statement.   This party platform doesn’t need to be a detailed action plan that each candidate signs on to — it is a commitment to stated values, a pledge to be on the right side of important issues with a promise to do at least X about each one.   It sets out a minimum we should be fighting for, whoever the candidate is.

The creators of Climate Change Skepticism are not climate change skeptics themselves.  They are powerful psychopaths.   They needed a popular belief in the news to counter actual science and enable them to sustain their unsustainable, highly lucrative, practices.  Like the tobacco industry, they will fight until the last smoking caused lung cancer death to dispute the harmfulness of the product their fortune, their already obscene wealth, is based on.

These political actors have created a body of beliefs to sustain their power.   If you want their money, and all political candidates need mountains of it for advertising, you sign on to it.

Beliefs:  Freedom and liberty are the most important human values.  We must all be free from all forms of government coercion.  The government must not be allowed to tell us what to do: unless (and there’s always a caveat, a detail where all the devils live) you are a pregnant woman who is desperate not to give birth, a poor person, an old person without wealth, from a historically despised racial or ethnic group, an injured worker or consumer, unemployed, disabled, etc.   The “liberty” that Libertarians espouse, mainly, is their own liberty to be free from all government restraints, especially taxation, and for the freedom to use their wealth (most of this liberty-loving class of better citizens are wealthy) as they see fit and not to give a dime to the masses of parasitic takers.

Every judge that Trump has appointed to lifetime federal posts has signed on to this belief system.  A belief system articulated and espoused by a society now active in every law school in the country, the Federalist Society.  If you are a Federalist Society member you don’t need to be told how to vote on a close issue, how to judge a case where a parasite is seeking huge damages from an innocent corporate person.  You will not hesitate to legally and skillfully use the law to get the outcome your belief system demands.   

It is a demanding belief system.   Demand number one is obedience.    The good boys and girls of the Federalist Society can be depended on to do what must be done to limit the tyranny of “democracy”.   You see, the masses really are stupid and don’t know what’s best for themselves.    You have to give them that, as our unbelievable president reminds us every day.

Once millions don’t have sufficient water a massive die off will begin.   At the same time, as arctic ice melts and sea levels rise, coastal regions will become uninhabitable.  Add to that the vast areas of once arable land that is now desert. There will be tens, or hundreds millions made homeless and without water.  Desperate climate refugees.  There will be a planetary catastrophe and most likely widespread cannibalism. 

The US military, years ago, considered this nightmare scenario a grave threat to stability in the world, our most daunting military challenge as a nation.  Now, everyone who works for the government is explicitly instructed to shut the hell up about it by an unbelievable president who is interested in other things. 

Like the hawkish, murderous, torturing, aptly-named Dick Cheney, who had “other priorities” when his government wanted him to fight in Viet Nam.  Like President Bone Spurs, the self-proclaimed major league baseball prospect who was crippled when it came to being drafted for military service.  Like everyone who will never die from, or even be inconvenienced by, a lack of common drinking water.   Just send your maid to the store and have her buy a case!   What is your problem, losers…?

 

[1]   This is according to the US government:

Up to 60% of the human adult body is water. According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%.

Denier-in-Chief and the ‘rational observer’

The easily manipulable winner in the Oval Office has a simple mantra, honed at the hideous breast of the evil Roy Cohn, “I know you are, but what am I?  Make me. loser!”  It is his life’s credo.   It has served America’s Greatest Winner well, eventually giving him the loudest megaphone in the world.

Yesterday, with great cosmic timing (right after two bloody mass killings by deranged white assholes with high-powered guns designed for military assaults) Cesar Sayoc, the guy who sent non-functioning pipe bombs to many of the president’s many vicious enemies, was sentenced to twenty years in prison.  

His lawyers made a plea for leniency, as every good lawyer must in advocating for their client.   Sayoc, portrayed by his advocates as a man of limited cognitive abilities, had been repeatedly raped by a priest at the Catholic boarding school he was sent to and was a chemically addled victim of his longtime steroid abuse.  He was a loner, estranged from his family and addicted to Fox News.   And, of course, he was madly in love with and devoted to father figure Donald J. Trump.

As Sayoc’s lawyers persuasively wrote:

At a rally in October 2018, around the time Mr. Sayoc sent the packages, President Trump announced that Democrats “destroy people. They want to destroy people. These are really evil people.” See Maggie Haberman & Peter Baker, Trump Taunts Christine Blasey Ford at Rally, N.Y. TIMES (Oct. 2, 2018).7
In his statements, Trump specifically blamed many of the individuals whom Mr. Sayoc ultimately targeted with his packages. For example, on June 25, 2018, President Trump tweeted:
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A rational observer may have brushed off Trump’s tweets as hyperbole, but  Mr. Sayoc took them to heart.

This “rational observer” is the law’s “reasonable man” a person who does, in a given situation, what any reasonable person would do.   It is unfair to convict somebody of doing something any reasonable person would have done in the same circumstances, and so the law uses the standard of reasonableness to assess whether someone has committed a crime or just done the reasonable thing.   Still, the phrase has a deafening echo in today’s America:  “a rational observer”.   Where do we find such a creature?

Fox news apparently ran this headline in the immediate aftermath of the latest mass murders, in El Paso and Dayton, by enraged white cowards with assault rifles :   

“Dems unleash profane attacks on Trump, Republicans over mass shootings”

(here you go, have a good time)

A rational observer, cruder than myself, might say “I got your fucking profane attacks right here, you racist, fear-mongering, democracy-hating, tyranny-enabling, massacre-inciting, lying sacks of fucking right-wing shit”. Of course, that kind of harsh, angry language only plays into the Fox/NRA/Koch/Republic Party narrative. You see, in that universe, the real problem is that Dems are fucking sick fucks, dangerous, evil, some of the worst people, the worst people, traitors and criminals, with filthy fucking toilet mouths, too.

So, while it might seem to be irrational to keep appealing to a ‘rational observer’, I can’t help but notice a few things in the above section of the pleadings of Sayoc’s  lawyers.

As they wrote, citing a piece from the lying, failing, desperate, traitorous, freedom-hating, openly communist rag, that Enemy of the People par excellence, the NY Times:  

At a rally in October 2018, around the time Mr. Sayoc sent the packages, President Trump announced that Democrats “destroy people. They want to destroy people. These are really evil people.” 

In fairness to the president, the partisan Dems were then in the process of viciously and unfairly attacking his controversial extremist, charter member of the Federalist Society, former choirboy [1] nominee to fill Anthony Kennedy’s carefully orchestrated Supreme Court vacancy. [2]  Be fair!   Who among us was not, at one time or another, a blackout drunk at the expensive, exclusive prep school we went to?   Who among us, in a drunken state, did not at least once try to feel up a younger girl against her will?  Come on, now.

At that same Trump reelection rally where the president called Democrats “really evil people” he famously mocked the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford, a troubled woman who clearly had everything to gain (aside from her lost privacy, death threats, being forced to move with her family several times, etc.) and nothing to lose (aside from her privacy, her home, freedom from hate mail and death threats, etc.).   Trump mockingly said, to a crowd that loved it, that Blasey Ford couldn’t remember anything.  Didn’t know where it happened, when it happened, whose house it was at, who was there, why she was there, all she recalled was that this well-loved girl’s basketball coach, unbelievably great judge and defender of America was the one who drunkenly fell on her and tried to take her clothes off. The crowd ate this delicious mockery up as Trump did that famous thing were it looks like he’s sort of smiling.

It would be crass of me to point out that the president was lying about most of this.  She knew when it happened, in the summer after her Sophomore year in high school, she knew the approximate date.   She did not know the exact location of the house she was in only once, but it was within walking distance of the country club she’d been swimming at and clearly belonged to the parents of one of a small handful of teenagers assembled there that day.   She explained that she knew who Brett Kavanaugh was, had seen him before.  She described the physical layout of the house, exactly where the assault took place, who else was there in that room with her and Kavanaugh, and exactly why the traumatic event was seared so photographically in her memory.

The pathetic Jeff Flake, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who had already announced he was leaving the Senate, had a weak-kneed moment of conscience after pressure was applied to him following Blasey Ford’s credible testimony (recall that Fox was wringing its collective hands after she spoke to that Committee, every pundit on the air at the time predicted Kavanaugh’s nomination was toast.)   Flake eventually refused to vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination going before Moscow Mitch and the senate until a severely limited FBI probe was promised.  

The “probe” lasted less than a week.  The FBI felt no need to interview Blasey Ford or Kavanaugh, or any of the many witnesses who contacted the FBI to be interviewed.  In that short five day time span, with severe pressure and limitations from the White House, the FBI was unable to determine whose house the alleged attack had taken place in (which would have enabled them to verify Blasey Ford’s detailed description of the layout), or find anyone who could remember that otherwise unremarkable day when a younger girl nobody knew was arguably groped, behind closed doors upstairs, by a well-known prep school drunk. Therefore, NOTHING TO SEE HERE, Justice Kavanaugh, sir!   51-49, done and done and suck it, libtard cucks.

Now all this would have been sickening enough, to a rational observer, if we didn’t have this to add to it.

Trump’s lawyers knew he’d be incapable of avoiding perjury if he spoke under oath to Mueller’s investigators.   The famous “perjury trap” that no compulsive liar can avoid, if pressured enough, or at all, or even if not pressured at all.  They prudently forbade him from answering spoken questions, consenting instead to written answers to written questions.  

Each of these detailed questions was answered “I don’t know, I don’t remember, I don’t have any independent recollection, I can’t seem to recall, I don’t recall being aware,  I can’t say for certain, I’m not sure, who could be expected to remember a detail like that? I had no reason to notice it…” and so on.

Dubya Bush’s moronic former Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez testified in a similar fashion when he was summoned to Congress over something.  Jon Stewart (a comedian attacked by Trump) noted to Bill Moyers that Gonzalez would rather be seen as a ” low functioning pinhead” who could literally remember nothing than as someone disloyal to the president.   The only other possibility was that Gonzalez was a perjurer, so he went with pinhead who had zero recollection of anything.  The Extremely Stable Genius, same deal.  No memory of anything because, you know, fuck you.

I direct the rational observer to one final fun fact.   In those non answers Trump’s lawyers crafted to keep him out of his “perjury trap” (in fairness to Trump, his inability to tell the truth does not appear to be voluntary) one stands out as the world’s greatest example of what Mueller called, with mind-blowing understatement “inadequate answers”.  

It was the president’s answer to Mueller’s final original question (follow up questions were ignored by White House counsel).   The question was a minefield for Trump and his team of lawyers, it involved convicted but not yet sentenced (or pardoned) former National Security Adviser Michael “Lock Her UP!” Flynn.   Trump’s answer reads, in its entirety:    

TRUMP:

(No answer provided.) [3]

 

here is part of what the Denier-in-Chief squeezed out of his tweethole immediately after his new Roy Cohn, Bagpiper Bill Barr, completely and totally exonerated him of any wrongdoing, ever, in the past, present and future:

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To a rational observer, “sick and dangerous people who have committed very serious crimes, perhaps even Spying or Treason” would be taken considering the hyperbolic, often hysterical sounding source.

To a disturbed, threatened white patriot with a powerful gun, surrounded by Mexican rapists, surly Negroes, politically correct Social Justice Warriors… what more needs to be said by the president to let you know what should happen now that it’s “finally time to turn the tables and bring justice” to these vicious, toilet mouthed criminal motherfuckers?

To a rational observer, I mean.

 

 

[1]  It has been my feeling, since seeing the former choir boy break down alternately crying and snarling at the well-funded cabal of dark-money Clinton-loving partisan liars who orchestrated Blasey Ford’s unfounded attack  for all of America to see, a sick attempt to “destroy his life”, that Kavanaugh– and I add that I have only a feeling, a mere opinion, a suspicion, not a jot or tittle of evidence — was most likely diddled by a priest in his day.  If this was so, who could blame him for his righteous rage?  

[2]  Kennedy, as part of his inducement to retire during Trump’s presidency, was given input into which of his former clerks he’d like to see nominated to fill his chair on the Supreme Court.  NOTHING TO SEE HERE!!!

[3] Read all the answers to the Special Counsel Trump claimed to have written by himself here.

 

 

ANGER schematic

Anger works in a specific way — it’s a powerful emotion that convinces you, beyond any doubt, that you are completely right to feel mad and that the person (or thing) you’re angry at is a complete fucking asshole.  When you’re righteously angry there are no gradations of right and wrong, only black and white, only you being just and the other party being fucking infuriating.

In order to sustain anger, you need to feel that you are right, righteous, justified, that you were deliberately wronged, unfairly abused.   Sometimes this feeling is the clear result of actual things that have happened to you.   These things happen in life, we make each other angry from time to time.  It is best to make peace and try to avoid the same ugliness next time, though that’s not always in the cards.

Sometimes anger results from a creeping feeling, often of being disrespected —  a feeling that finally gives rise to your angry mind putting together an airtight prosecutor’s case against the person you feel has disrespected you.  Once you have made the irrefutable case, you feel justified in sentencing the other party to whatever they deserve.   And carrying out the sentence.

A feeling may have been gnawing at you for a long time, though you couldn’t exactly put your finger on it, but there’s no mistaking the moment you’ve finally  had enough.   Your anger is burning, you’re dangerous, the only thing left to do is to flesh out the reasons you’re angry, make your case for why you’re right and the other person is totally wrong.   Anger has a notoriously low threshold of proof, you’re already mad, any rationale will do, simply grab one.   Then accuse.   Your accusations will lead to infuriating responses.  An argument then begins, in which everything the other party says only convinces you more and more what an unredeemed piece of shit you are dealing with.

Feelings are real, not to be sneezed at, or trifled with.   What we feel is more real to us than anything else, actually.   You can’t argue with a feeling, it is how you truly feel.   You can’t even have a productive talk with someone who has a strong feeling until you acknowledge the feeling.   Most of the time we keep our feelings to ourselves and these repressed feelings are prone to fester and grow more powerful, even monstrous.   Classically, in our macho society, this applies more to men than to women, who are often more adept at talking about their feelings than men are.

It’s the classic bottle up and explode scenario sung about by the late, great Elliott Smith.    Somebody does something that makes you feel like shit, you say nothing, the next insult is added on, you feel a bit shittier, the next thing is added on, you say nothing.   Eventually somebody will do something somewhat like the thing, or begin to, or seem to be about to, and then the anger at the whole long torment explodes.  Way out of proportion to whatever provoked it, usually.

I had a friend from childhood who was visibly nervous in his own skin.   He always thought I was much cooler [1] than him and though he loved me for it, it also bothered him.   Increasingly over the years.  He was trapped in a nightmare marriage, to a woman he physically feared, he felt helpless and fought her constantly, viciously, helplessly.   He was angry and afraid all the time (these often go together).   I was somebody he could provoke, get a rise out of, someone he felt perfectly safe in making angry.   Indeed, angry as he sometimes made me, I never took a swing at him.

I’d grown up in a house where everybody raged at each other all the time.  My parents never learned to control their tempers, their frustrations, their deep sense of being powerless, abused children.   In fact, both were abused by their violent mothers, unprotected by their gentle, timid fathers.   So it was rage all the time.  It sucked, growing up in a fucking madhouse, and it did great damage to my sister and me.   It took me decades to make any progress toward learning to recognize the signs that I was getting close to the edge, how to calm myself, however slightly.  Awareness that you’re getting angry, and experiencing that you can reel yourself back in, is the first step to exiting the cycle of rage.  

One thing I learned, after many years, is to tell people close to me when they were hurting me and exactly how, and what I need them to do differently.  Each time my childhood friend provoked me I would tell him I was getting aggravated, ask him to back off, to realize that he was poking a raw nerve and making me angry.   His response each time was to deny that he was doing anything, then double down and tell me pointedly that I was the one with the fucking anger problem, not him.  

When you find yourself stuck in one of these kind of insane revolving doors, all the good will in the world will be of little use.   It is too late, once you make your feelings clear and are met with more denial and blame.   Making me angry was the only thing that made the poor bastard feel good, feel like he had any power in the world.  He felt safe, you see and, clearly, he felt he needed to do it.  Otherwise, his head would explode.  What is an old friend for if not to feel safe with?

In the end, after our friendship was dead and cold, after many months trying to preserve our friendship, I pressed him for the reasons he was angry at me.   The reasons I couldn’t be friends with him (unless he changed his behavior) had been on the table for months, though he energetically denied the validity of my feelings.   It emerged that all of the reasons he could never be friends with me were related to things his wife told him, things that happened after our friendship was already beyond reviving.

The schematic of anger is always the same.   A feeling that chafes, gets worse, builds to an intolerable pitch.   A case is made, because though angry and mad are synonyms, nobody likes to feel “mad”.   We need a good reason, or a rationale, anyway.  Nobody does anything unless he is convinced he has a good reason.   Sometimes there is one, sometimes there isn’t.  Our feelings will not allow us to behave without a good reason, so sometimes we create one.  

OK?  I fucking created this inescapable straitjacket case specially for you, just to say “fuck you.”   I love you, man, but you’re dead to me, because, I never told you this, you are a complete fucking asshole.

 

 

[1]  whatever the hell that means.   I suppose in his case it was watching someone comfortable in social situations, by the looks of it, not a victimized, anxious, self-conscious person like he felt himself to be.

Slice of a NYC minute

I was walking in my neighborhood last night around midnight and I passed a young couple as I crossed the street toward my apartment.  They looked like they’d recently graduated high school.  The young woman was wearing very short shorts and a low cut tank top that clung to her in a very nice way.   As they passed me she caught my eye and said, “sir, he’s going to fuck my brains out tonight.”  In that split second our paths crossed I nodded, said “excellent idea” over my shoulder.   I meant it, too.  

The Boiling Brain

Sometimes, it seems, it’s just impossible to turn off the brain.   You find yourself thinking about a belated email that arrived intimating that even though you’ve done nothing wrong, you’ve made somebody feel bad, just by being yourself, and, fair or not, that can’t be tolerated.  At the same time a pessimistically awaited email doesn’t arrive in response to your fourth or fifth attempt at communication.  The silence in your tiny family, something strategically used to great sadistic effect by your poor father in his day, has grown impossible not to notice.   The world turns, people fight over everything you can think of– and things you could never think of– and then it gets dark out and by and by everyone in your time zone is asleep.  Some are even dreaming of beautiful, wondrous things.

But sleepy dreams are not in the cards for you yet, are they?   There’s the train of thought about how to act like the person you need to make peace with is not basically Donald Trump.   When I say Trump, emotions immediately get revved up.  I simply mean a compulsive teller of things that are not true and someone not capable of ever apologizing to anyone for anything.   Basically, Trump.  

That will cause a vigorous denial from that fellows defenders  — this serially lying non-apologizer is nothing like Trump!   He has a full head of his own hair!   He is not a slimy transactionalist (thank you, Donnie Deutsch) — well, he may be, but only when he has to be.   His political views are quite progressive, he certainly does not oppose a woman’s right to choose abortion!

It’s fair to ask:  Who died and made you the Pope [1]?

We don’t hang out with people who make us feel bad, as a rule.  You make me feel bad enough, I’ll forget this ahimsa shit for just long enough to swing this ax and… there, isn’t that better?   I know it is for me.  

“Why did you kill him?” the officer will ask.  

“He made me feel bad,” says the killer.  

“Oh, if that’s the case, I totally understand, let me get those cuffs off you, sorry about that!  Have a nice day.”  

“Have a blessed day, officer.”

I’ve read that when you can’t sleep you should not remain in bed.  Get up, go into another room.  Read, drink a warm liquid, let yourself feel tired, relax, give in to your need to sleep.  You need to sleep, yes, and sleep will come for you after a while, it always does.  If sleep does not come, you will begin to hallucinate.  You want some really wild shit to happen inside your boiling brain?  Just deprive yourself of sleep long enough — it’s a torture that breaks everyone in the end.     

Well done, I’m actually quite a bit drowsier now than when I sat down here.   Thanks for keeping me company, now, if you’ll excuse me…

 

[1] my sleep-starved brain added “of explaining, delicately, that while an adult sexually using a child is a criminal, arguably a pervert, a sinner, a practitioner of evil practices … well, the Church does not tolerate or endorse this kind of sick, evil, harmful behavior even though, as a practical matter… well, you see.. it’s very, very complicated? ”    

 Why is it even this humanist Pope can’t get himself to admit the clear evil his church tolerated and protected for God knows how many centuries?

UNTHINKABLE! (until someone thinks it)

When something is beyond the strictures of the popular imagination, a thing which is conditioned by a lifetime of mass media (and increasingly “social media”) consumption, it is unthinkable.   We cannot even entertain unthinkable ideas because they are simply… unthinkable.  Until they are thought, expressed, discussed, debated, formed into things we can now easily think about, talk about, make part of law and culture [1].

A quick thought experiment:

We presently have more than twenty political candidates from an opposition party, united in their determination to defeat a president who squeaked into power with a surgically engineered 78,000 vote margin in the Electoral College and has been stacking the federal courts with record numbers of ideologically pure lifetime appointees of the extreme far-right (thirteen more were confirmed by Moscow Mitch and his crew right before Congress went on holiday).    He put a controversial, pouting, crying, angry partisan on to the Supreme Court, 51-49 — fair is fair!  (Ain’t democracy great, folks?) 

This Electoral College president has done many cruel things, attacked countless foes, lied thousands of times and demands complete loyalty from a rotating cast of mostly unqualified sidekicks who are each busily doing maximum damage in their appointed spheres.    Picture the climate disruption denier-in-chief removing the US from the Paris Accords, itself a fairly weak attempt to avoid a deadly climate refugee apocalypse, and restoring the federal death penalty so as to, hopefully (they hope) execute Julian Assange, for a quick whiff of this guy’s style.

What do we do here in America in the face of this?   What we always do.  We begin the presidential election campaign a year and a half before the election and make every fart and hiccup of it daily news for months and months and months.   We hold a competition, a popularity contest, and put all the contestants to unseat this disastrous president (if they qualify by raising X millions in campaign funds)  into a game show format where they fight it out on live TV until there is only one candidate standing.   

Think of it as Political Survivor, a zero-sum gladiatorial contest won by brute strength, cunning and sheer determination to be the last one alive.  The spectacle gets great ratings, like the Hunger Games in that thinly veiled depiction of our dystopian society where the  majority of citizens don’t have the $400 they need to avoid an immediate crisis, or homelessness.   Everybody tunes in, everyone has an opinion about who won, who lost, who sucked, who sucked worse.  Advertisers line up to buy a spot during the most heated contests.

Unthinkable thought: instead of this contest have well-spoken representatives of various factions in the Democratic Party (or the Republican, or any party, really) sitting around a table making their best, crispest case for what their party stands for, ironing out a unified party platform that whoever their eventual candidate is will put into action once in office.   How about a few nights of televised debates as follows: 

Night one, a presentation of the many problems caused by global warming, a tight ten minute slide show, showing the scope of the problem, its causes, describing why we haven’t been able to make much progress (and here discuss Exxon-Tillerson and the Koch’s well-funded, exceptionally American ‘climate skepticism’ movement)  then set goals and talk about the best way to move toward them.   

If you like the “America’s got Talent” or “Dancing with the Stars” format, add realtime on-line voting about the propositions being discussed.   Run the numbers as they discuss various ideas, to add excitement and immediacy to the discussion of policies that will decide the fate of the planet and all life upon it.

“Oh, look, Dolores, that chyron shows 89% of Americans watching actually believe drought and flooding and heatwaves and wild fires are getting worse every year and it’s the government’s job to do whatever is necessary to slow this looming catastrophe down!”   

“Look, Ed, 91% think the government should regulate the polluting industries that put the most CO2 in the air.   58% support a carbon tax.   72% support regulations requiring more efficient automobiles that emit less CO2.   Who knew Americans were so smart?”

The next discussion would be health care.   Then poverty.  Then education, then the ongoing, silent crisis of American military veteran suicides, and so on.   A week after each show the party would present its platform on that issue, published on line, its essence delivered in a five minute prime-time spot.  Whoever becomes president from our party is committed to this set of principles.   Let Americans know what we actually stand for, exactly what we will fight for once in power.  

As it is now it’s up to the individual who survives the Darwinian winnowing process and emerges as the candidate to decide exactly what she or he is going to do as president and leader of the party.  If so, what’s the point of having a national party at all?   What’s the point of that party putting its considerable thumb on the scale during the nominating process?  (As it did when it decided in 2016 that Hillary Clinton had waited long enough for her turn and made her the candidate in a rigged primary system — she started the games with a several hundred ‘super-delegate” lead).

There are, of course, several reasons why this kind of thoughtful public policy party platform discussion is unthinkable. 

The first is that Americans are not used to it and might very well hate it.  We prefer exciting bouts where one person punches out the other and we raise the winner’s hand and everyone cheers.  We are used to gladiators.    We crave the excitement of blood sport.   How boring would it be to see a bunch of thoughtful people agreeing that the present administration has done these specific disastrous things and, when elected, we will do these specific things to fix the deepening problems these cynical hucksters have exacerbated?   Who would watch two hours of that?  Where’s the drama?

Instead we have an animated squabble  between vying contendets, egged on by celebrity moderators, about whether Medicare for All must eliminate the many private health insurance companies in business now or not.   Few Americans (unless they work for a health insurance related company– and millions are likely in this category) give a rat’s ass one way or another what entity helps them pay the cost of needed medical care.   The real debate is “do Americans have the same right as the French, the Japanese, the Germans, the British, Canadians, Iraqis under Saddam, for fuck’s sake, to decent, affordable nationalized health care?”   

The framing we have, and the jibing, sniping “how you gonna pay for it?  how you gonna pay for it?” (a question never asked about endless, unprovoked war) make a serious discussion of how to move forward almost impossible.  It’s like Reagan, cheerfully slamming Jimmy Carter over and over with “there you go again!”.   “I know you are, but what am I?”   “Keep talking, spongey gums, it tickles”   It’s a long gotcha contest where candidates wait for their star-making moment to distinguish themselves as the most poised under attack, the most stylish with a put-down.

As always, there are specific reasons why intelligent non-adversarial discussion is unthinkable.  First, it’s simply not the way it’s done here.   They go at each other in a robust debate, no holds barred, and we pick the one whose style, whose courage under attack, we like the best.    Elizabeth Warren turned to a fretful “how you gonna pay for it?” naysayer on the stage with her the other night, attacking her idea for redistributing 2% of vast, largely hereditary, wealth in a way that would benefit most Americans, and asked  him who “goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for?” 

Personally, I loved that answer.   Full disclosure, I’ve loved Elizabeth Warren since I first saw her interviewed by the great Bill Moyers many moons ago, when she was still teaching law at Harvard, talking about her idea for a federal consumer protection agency.

Second, everything in America must be paid for, we all know that.  TV time (supposedly publicly owned, remember) is very valuable.  If you don’t have viewers, no advertisers want to buy ads.   The network loses a ton of money.   That’s one reason Trump was so good for business.  Not every candidate can eat 50 corndogs, then bite the head off a live chicken and claim, bloody lipped and covered with feathers, that his vicious, lying opponent did the disgusting deed.   He was great for ratings.  You never knew if the zestful flag-humper was literally going to take a shit on stage.  The man was made for TV, reality TV, that carefully scripted alternative fact world so many Americans crave.   If we run thoughtful discussions about real, pressing problems and how to best solve them– we’d be fucking CSPAN, nobody would tune in.  No profits for anybody.   

Third, the mass media is run by advertising dollars.  Les Moonves, former CEO of the company that owns CBS,  (before he was “disgraced” over his non-consensual sexual practices and forced out with a gigantic golden parachute) said, during the lead up to the Trump presidency, that he didn’t necessarily like the man or what he stood for, but, by God, he’s making us a shitload of money!   More than one network showed the empty Trump podium, while bad for business Bernie Sanders addressed another huge crowd, uncovered by the cameras, after yet another improbable primary victory.   “We’re still waiting for Trump, he’ll be out in a minute to say something explosive (or possibly even take a dump on stage)!   Please stay tuned, we’ll return to his empty podium right after this important message.”

Fourth, in America it’s all about the Benjamins, baby.   We live in a profit-driven culture.  If you have a net worth of fifty billion there is no shame attached to an ambition to double that wealth — go for it!  The people we admire the most, as a culture, are the biggest winners.  In America we call these money-crazed oligarchs “philanthropists” and give their opinions about problem solving the greatest weight.   They have the money to form giant non-profit companies to put their ideas into practice.  Their ideas carry great weight because they are clearly brilliant, since they have amassed billions as a result of their obvious genius.  Even if they are born to their great wealth, they’re better than most people, in a materialistic culture that values only acquisition.

Fifth, the political parties themselves, and all of their candidates (with a few notable individual exceptions) are dependent on Big, Dark Money, corporate and personal, and lots of it.  Corporate lobbyists/colleagues/lobbyists are a big factor too, you can’t snub your old friends, and the powerful causes they represent, and expect to survive in the marketplace of “donations”.   Everybody seems to like this horse race model of electoral campaigning, keeps the money flowing.

Down through all the rest of the numbers here, the answer is the same.  People make money, a shit ton of money, from the way things are arranged here in our “free market”.   The mass media is run for money, every political debate is a source of revenue for multiple corporations.   We run our elections like the Super Bowl, a parade of the world’s most expensive and ingenious advertisements, made by the greatest advertising minds, vying for the coveted title of best Super Bowl advertisement.  If you have a billion to spend on your political ad campaign, versus an opponent with only ten million, chances are excellent that you win!  Money is speech, baby, Supreme Court said so, loud as hell, in Citizens United.   If you have a billion you just get to speak louder than a punk with a puny $390,000.  Freedom, you dig.

Children separated from their desperate parents, kept in filthy conditions in privatized child prisons?   Nobody is paying us for soap and water for these stinking little bastards!   Fuck you, Commie.   These kids are evil, illegal, alien.   You can do whatever you want to them, they have no rights, no humanity.   We’ll fight you to the death against charges that we don’t care about children, are deliberately cruel to deter these pricks from sneaking in to ask for asylum.   How fucking dare you?   Why have a bully pulpit if you can’t be a bully?  Suck my ass while I tweet about your ass-sucking, loser!

Unthinkable, really, to have intelligent people of different points of view squarely facing the most difficult actual challenges of our lives here– climate catastrophe, intergenerational poverty, massive American despair, rage, violence, addiction, untold American deaths from preventable diseases, suicide —  and hammering out the best ways to improve things.

Better for everybody to just let our most charismatic and well-funded gladiators hack each other’s arms off for our amusement.  Let the fucking games begin!  Anything else?  UNTHINKABLE!!!

 

[1]   A short list of long-time unthinkable ideas:

Constitutional abolition of Constitutionally protected slavery (1865)
alcoholic beverages made illegal in every state (1920)
alcoholic beverages made legal again (1933)
universal women’s suffrage (1920)
federal regulation of child labor and creation of the 40 hour work week (1938)
$15 minimum wage (adopted in many states and municipalities)
legalized recreational marijuana ( currently the law in eleven states, see map

Constitutional right to same-sex marriage in all states  (2015, but 5-4, watch out my gay brothers and sisters)
“pre-existing condition” right to refuse health insurance coverage abolished  (2010)

Losing the Propaganda War

Back in the day, in ancient Egypt, when a new dynasty came into power they’d send goons into the tombs of the rulers of the past.   These goons would scrape the images of the dead off the tomb walls, making sure to remove the faces wherever they were depicted.   It was a way of messing them up good in the after-life — try living forever in glory with no face.   It was a way of effacing their image, and memory, from history.    The same technique has been used a million times since.  Who are you going to believe — me or this asshole who literally has no fucking face?

It’s now common to call this process something like controlling the narrative.  In propaganda terms, you take a complex issue and reduce it to a phrase that will make people angry.  “Moscow Mitch” pops to mind, a great recent example of this technique (and, by the way, Moscow Mitch is fuming about this vicious, if not completely unfair, nickname).   Mitch McConnell, the long serving lady-killer from Kentucky, has used his position as leader of the Senate to block votes on all legislation, and every appointment, he doesn’t like.  He simply refuses to allow a debate or vote, that’s how you guarantee your enemies lose every time.   Losers.

Included on this list, most recently, is his ungentlemanly, anti-democratic refusal to bring two House bills about election security to a vote on the floor of the Senate.   These bills are to ensure that our electronic elections are protected from the massive foreign manipulation we can expect in 2020, in light of what the Mueller Report documented as “sweeping and systematic” Russian interference in 2016. [1]   Also in light of a recent government report that showed attempts to hack voting machines in all 50 states in 2016.  Moscow Mitch sees no problem with any of this, as long as his party, whose presidential candidate was openly favored by Moscow in 2016, and happily invited their help, stays in power.

So, instead of needing to say all that simply say:  Moscow Mitch.  The phrase stands in perfectly for a candidate apparently more loyal to Putin’s right to a favorable say in the election than any Democrat’s right to cast a secure ballot.   Hopefully the cool new nickname will help cost the obdurate, unprincipled, partisan obstructionist his job in the next election.

Screen Shot 2019-08-01 at 3.41.19 PM.png

This sort of thing is common in politics, of course.   “Lock her up!” was used to great effect by a demagogue and his cronies in a recent election.  It was simply a way of channelling hatred for Hillary Clinton and all she stood for.   “Build the Wall!” was as feel good a chant as “Block that Kick!” at a football game.   Makes people feel part of something virile and powerful, to fullthroatedly yell in unison like that, standing and rhythmically pumping their fists.  Winners.  

Odd to say, the same simplifying principle is routinely employed by most of us in our personal lives.  From time to time we judge something another person did as crossing a line, beyond the pale (whatever that cliche actually means — [2]) and based on that transgression we write the final unflattering chapter of our history with that person.   Everything was fine until this person I was friends with for thirty years refused to take “I said ‘no’ and I don’t have to say why” as a final answer, the infuriatingly overbearing fuck!

Bringing people to one side or the other in these wars is largely a public relations battle, fought on the miniature battlefield of interpersonal relations.   It is routinely fought in families — who is to blame for what, who is the black sheep, who brought honor or dishonor to our family name, who is on whose side against whom.   It is fought everywhere people are angry about anything, which is to say, everywhere.  I give you the following highly hypothetical illustration which resembles nothing in anyone’s personal life, I assure you.

[illustration REDACTED]

A focus on the truth of what actually happened is often seen as misguided in our Moscow Mitch world, or, to be more accurate: irrelevant.   A simple, easy to embrace belief is better, in the all-important public relations/marketing/branding arena, than a well-researched, compellingly written thousand pages nobody will ever read, particularly if you burn the fucking book and the godless witch who wrote it. 

Mueller [3] was a godless witch, by the way, just ask Moscow Mitch.

 

[1]    “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion,” Mueller wrote in the 448-page document, which lays out new details about a Kremlin-backed plot that compromised Democrats’ computer networks and targeted state and local election offices.

source     note that this article is from April 19, 2019!   

[2]  Screen Shot 2019-08-01 at 3.47.27 PM.png

[3] Bobby Three Sticks