…I think I got the most volume and some of the most varied feedback I’ve ever gotten for any post I’d ever written before. It ran the gamut from “this is easy to do and Facebook can’t seem to do it, so they must not care” or “Facebook is in bed with X group, their behavior demonstrates this.” to “Any attempt to moderate speech violates my freedom of speech.” When I queued up this episode, one of the first things that the guest says on mic is that she figured that the Facebook Supreme Court was just a way to get Facebook out of the crosshairs for making the decisions that need to be made, content-wise:
…and by the end of the episode I was where Jad was “we have to ban Facebook, don’t we?” But then I thought some more about the varied responses to the tests that were put forward to illustrate just how hard it is to make judgements about what is or isn’t acceptable on social media, and I started to realize that what Facebook will ultimately achieve, if it succeeds, is some form of internet protocol for allowing the greatest amount of speech possible without misleading the populace or allowing for the targeting of segments of the population. I wish them luck with their supreme court experiment. Hope it all works out.
Tangentially, there were two more episodes later in my podcast feed that dealt with the same conundrum. Speech, the freedom and limitations of:
Laïcité provokes a lot of incomprehension outside of the country, which isn’t surprising given the current financial globalization trend that privileges individual rights over collective fraternity. Yet, in France, the political community takes precedence over subjective communities, as it is the only body able to guarantee both freedom and equality. And a community transcending particular interests cannot exist without universalism, the founding principle of laïcité.
A human is a quantum particle. When watched the human remains a constant, never changing. When unobserved the human shifts direction and state, never the exact same quantum particle twice. It throws off energy and matter as part of its existence, and no amount of measurement will ever accurately assign the value of the quantum human. There will always be something lost just in making the attempt to measure it.
(Justice delayed is justice denied. Education delayed is education denied)
Do not destroy the quantum human particle. Nurture it. Let it grow and change and create its value unobserved when possible. Let it become what it’s unknown state of being wants it to be. Only then will its true value be realized.
In the cool light of an impending winter’s day, watching as the world economy spirals down the drain of the Coronavirus pandemic; as the various nations of the world including the vassal states of my own country flex their muscles to assert their dominance, and lastly in light of the naked insanity of our president and his supporters, is it completely reasonable to ask the question:
Is this it? Is this the end of us?
The question could be answered in a number of ways. Parsing the question, it depends on what you mean by the word us. The human race will continue on, and the world will continue spinning just like it always has. In that sense the answer is no. No, it is not the end of us. Some form of government will continue. Other nations will take over our leadership role. This process has already started and will continue whether we want it to or not.
A different take would be to observe that every empire in history has fallen. They rise, and then they fall. We watched the Soviet Union dissolve before our very eyes just over thirty years ago. This could be the point in time where the empire that the United States maintains falls apart.
Maybe our empire should fall apart. Maybe we shouldn’t have an empire in the first place? I’ve been warning people for years that the US is one major crisis away from ceasing to exist. Some people laughed when I first proposed this problem back in the day, the problem that the United States is a paper tiger.
A paper tiger in that, the American people don’t want an empire. They never have wanted one. The federal government in Washington D.C. established one anyway. They did it in our name, at the urging of power brokers of previous generations. Stealing the lands of our neighbors and putting native peoples to the sword in a fair approximation of England or France or any other empire-building nation of previous generations.
We have built a military that is unrivaled in the modern world, spending blood and treasure at a phenomenal rate to the benefit of our corporate masters and even to the benefit of the assembly line workers that build all the armaments that we currently deploy. We can, with pinpoint precision, remove any threat that we recognize as a threat with that military. We can do this and we have done this, right up to this point in history.
We are the wealthiest, most powerful nation in recorded human history. How can we just cease to exist?
…and here we are laid low by a virus, the simplest form of life on this planet. Life so simple that it barely qualifies as life in the first place. It is a little bit of replicating code that has evolved to use the larger bits of life around it to make more of itself without ever knowing what it was doing. It just does what it does, and we can’t stop it.
We can’t stop it. Not with jet planes or nuclear weapons or all the money in the world can we stop it. We can’t stop it unless we accept that we have to stop it, and then make that the thing we need to do now instead of building jet planes and nuclear missiles. This is the biggest crisis we’ve faced in our lifetimes, bigger than the crash that happened in 2008 that we still haven’t recovered from. It is possible that we are living through the greatest crisis in recorded human history, when our children’s children look back at this time through the lens of history.
The future of the United States as a political entity is a small thing compared to the effect that a pandemic can have on the human psyche. In the end that is really all that matters. Unless we can grasp the threat we face right now and answer that threat. Unless we put aside the petty dictators and their Trumpismo’s and focus on the real threat, the fear that this virus inspires in us all and the impact that its continued existence unchecked in the world represents, then the United States will be done for in spite of its globe-spanning military presence and its corporate reach.
…and just maybe, in the end, that is the way that it ought to be.
Mom was a huge Ross Perot fan. I’m sure very few of the family knew or even remember this about Mom, but she loved Ross Perot when he ran for president back in 1992. How many of you remember 1992? I remember that election very well. Ross Perot ran for president the year we had that three-way race that ended up saddling the United States with president William Jefferson Clinton. Bill Clinton, the president that American conservatives love to hate. Ross Perot ran for president again in 1996, Establishing the Reform Party in the process, but didn’t do nearly as well that year.
Mom loved the fact that Ross Perot spoke straight to the people. She loved the fact that he threw charts and graphs at the arguments, getting wonkier about the policies being argued than any other candidate in American history had gotten, at least in her experience.
She thought Bill Clinton was a used car salesman turned governor and I agreed with her in that. Mom had disapproved of Reagan and then the elder Bush for pretty much the same reasons that I did. They were mean people with mean policies and they said whatever their party told them to say in order to get elected. But Ross Perot? Mom loved every minute of that sideshow. The threats on his life that caused him to drop out of the race. The surprise re-emergence of the candidate mere weeks before the election. It was great theater.
There would be no Ross Perot love in my future. I had discovered libertarianism on August 2, 1990. That was the day that the elder Bush took us to war in the gulf against his buddy from the Reagan years, Saddam Hussein. On that day, as we peaceniks were engaging in a sit-in in the capitol rotunda, back in the days when the Texas state capitol building was open twenty-four hours a day for tourists, I just happened to be sitting next to Terry Liberty Parker. Yes, that Terry Liberty Parker.
Terry was infamous in Austin. Terry had been active in the anarchist/libertarian fringe of Austin politics for decades. His experimental clothing-optional apartment complex was a distant memory by 1990. He was running a libertarian show on Austin’s cable access channel by that point in time, and he was out rabble-rousing with the rest of the troublemakers on the fringe of Texas politics that night as he helpfully enlightened me about the weird world of third party politics while we occupied some floor space in the capitol building. By 1992, I was a hard-core Libertarian Party member.
Since I was a libertarian, and since this was my first time out for a presidential election as a libertarian, I wanted nothing to do with some upstart named Ross Perot. I tried to point out to Mom that Libertarians had been trying to break into American politics since the seventies, all to no avail. Ross Perot was not going to be able to do anything even if he managed to get elected as president. With the Democrats and Republicans united against him, he would be lucky to be able to stay in office at all.
There was another reason that I wouldn’t vote for Ross Perot even if there had been no Libertarian Party. A reason I have never told anyone about until now. I wouldn’t vote for Ross Perot because I knew he was a real estate developer. I’ve covered this point more than once on the blog so I won’t revisit the subject beyond simply noting that, during the process of working closely with a developer, you become numb to the energy and the hype. When you finally get numb to it all you stop listening to the words of the sales pitch and you start to take note of the number of lies that form the foundation of selling the project.
The revulsion at the lies that real estate developers tell comes from a deep distrust of most salesmen. As the son of a used car salesman I was immersed in my father’s world of buying and selling cars every day throughout my teenage years. Every time I spoke to him or was around him as an adult he was sizing up and selling cars and trucks. Automobiles were all he talked about or cared about aside from sports. It was his raison d’etre, his reason for existing. I was surrounded by used car salesmen and bullshit artists throughout my most formative years. Surrounded by workaday confidence men. I reflexively recognize a sales pitch when I hear one and I reject the content of the pitch out of hand, the actual words of the pitch completely unheard by me. I know I’m being sold to, and no one sells you things you don’t already want to buy. If it is something you already want, you just buy it without having to deal with salesmen. At least, that is what I do.
Real estate developers, in comparison to car salesmen and their hourly hawking of vehicles to car shoppers, are engaged in what can be most precisely be cast as a long con. Unlike car salesmen who have to make their sales in some portion based on their reputation for honesty and repeat business (Dad’s mantra was “be completely honest with a customer”) a real estate developer never has to look at a contractor or a buyer again unless he has to go to court in order to sue them or answer a lawsuit.
Consequently, a real estate developer can be even more dishonest to his marks …er customers, than a used car salesman can get away with. Each piece of property is unique. Each contract is different. Your past failures are conditioned based on the quality of the information that you were given. You have plausible deniability to fall back on. You can’t tear down a piece of property and discover all its flaws like you can with a machine. You have to sell what the property offers, sell what you can invent or envision the property to be.
I knew that Ross Perot was selling, and I knew that he was selling hard. I knew he had a knack for selling big dollar projects, and I knew he knew his way around Washington D.C. I no more trusted him than I would trust a carnival barker who promised me the show of a lifetime. So I stuck to my guns and voted for Andre Marrou in 1992. He lost, just like libertarians always lose, and we got Slick Willie as president that year.
All of this would be a quaint history lesson if it weren’t for the fact that a real estate developer currently holds the office of president. In hindsight, I wonder if Ross Perot went through those I’m a candidate, no I’m not a candidate convolutions that he engaged in precisely because his poll numbers started to show that he might win the 1992 presidential election. That he might become president himself with all the trouble holding that office would bring, not to mention having to take a significant pay cut.
Being a spoiler in an election is one thing. Punishing the elder Bush by appealing to the fickle middle of the voting population and drawing support away from him, allowing Bill Clinton to win, was just fine with Ross Perot. Actually gaining the office of President would be another thing entirely, and he had to be smart enough to know he couldn’t survive in Washington D.C. under that harsh spotlight. He wouldn’t be allowed to maintain his vast network of properties and businesses. He wouldn’t be able to work with a congress that was pitted against him.
Ross Perot knew how to make money and how to survive in the business world. This basic understanding of the reality of the business world is something that Donald Trump really never got the hang of, as revelations about how his father bailed him out time and time again over the decades should illustrate to anyone paying attention.
Ross Perot torpedoed the elder Bush’s second presidential campaign in 1992 specifically to make sure that he was a one-term president. Seen in this light it becomes obvious that Ross Perot was the smarter of the two real estate developers to run for office in the modern age. Donald Trump was not nearly as smart and he became president with all the scrutiny that comes along with that office.
However, Donald Trump’s gaining office meant something more to me, personally. As an amatuer pholosopher. As a political spectator. As a news junkie. Donald Trump being president meant that his supporters had a political philosophy that they believe is a part of Donald Trump. Trump himself had a politics that he espoused, the essence of what a Trump administration would be about. This was true whether Trump had enumerated what his political philosophy was or not, because the people who supported him would invent what they wanted to see if he didn’t provide the substance for them, and they’ll invent it for any political figure even if that figure does give them something else that he wants them to believe. So after the paint wore off my toenails and I came to grips with the fact of a Trump presidency, I set out trying to figure out what the president’s political philosophy was.
I had to figure this out for myself, because I knew that he would never consciously reveal what his true motives were beyond lining his own pockets at our expense. In public. Every day.
Hispanics have a name for the kind of demagogue, the kind of despot, that Trump wanted to be, based on the way he presented himself to the people he was president of. The way he presented himself to the people who wanted to belong to him and showed up at his political rallies that never stopped occurring, a hallmark of the kind of authoritarian that Donald Trump admires. In public. Every day.
Caudillo is what the Spanish people called Francisco Franco when he took over Spain. El Caudillo, the strong man.
Historically we in the United States consigned those who fell under the shadow of the Monroe doctrine to the tender mercies of a Caudillo like Francisco Franco was and that Trump wanted to be. That practice has fallen out of favor in the country at large if not in Washington D.C. in particular, but we’ve apparently grown so fearful of the poor among us that we will risk having a Caudillo to rule over us directly. A dictator to rule over us, like a king would. A Caudillo to rule over us in the same manner as those who lived under our corporate control in Central and South America, back in those #MAGA days when America was great.
Donald Trump really isn’t a strong man, though. He was planning on being a strong man. He presented himself as a strong man. This is why the trolls who supported him on the internet called the Never-Trumpers cucks or cuckolds, weak men who allow their women to sleep with other men. Everyone who had a brain and understood what Trump was promising to bring to the office of the President knew that he was promising a dictatorship unlike anything that the United States had seen at any point in history. The people who chanted “lock her up” and “build that wall” at Trump’s rallies thought he was going to be a dictator like Bush the second joked about being.
If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.
Since he fancies himself a strong man, and since his supporters pretend he is a strong man, I find it fitting that his affected masculine air, his machismo, also carry an appropriate title for one such as he. Consequently the name I’ve chosen for his politics is Trumpismo, a similar label to the one hung on the politics of Hugo Chavez, the only dictator that Donald Trump hates.
Knowing who Trump was and naming his politics was the easy part. Trying to discern what his politics actually were? Now that was the hard part. No matter how hard I squinted at his actions, the platform that supported them simply wasn’t discernable. What does Caudito Trump stand for? What are his policy goals? What does he believe? Four years later, on the eve of his ouster from the office of the president, this remains an open question to me.
Donald Trump took up the birther cause with a vengeance that made Sarah Palin’s promotion of it pale by comparison. The idea that Barack Obama was not an American is a patently racist idea. How do I know this? Because conservatives don’t have a problem with Ted Cruz running for president, and he wasn’t born in the United States. “Ted Cruz looks every bit as white as I look, so why should it be a problem? That Barack Obama character looks like a foreigner with his black skin. He’s not an American, is he?” Therein lies the racism.
The result was that family and friends went to town on her on Facebook, taking her to task for calling them racists. She got so much hatred on Facebook that she ended up deleting the status the very next day. If you don’t like the quality of your fellow travelers being assessed as your qualities, don’t stand up and try to defend those fellow travelers. Let the sleeping dogs lie and walk on. Walk on, because the racism of your fellow travelers is beyond question. The only question in my mind is why do you feel you need to defend yourself when you aren’t being targeted? Sensitive much?
Refugees are entitled to seek asylum by international law, even brown-skinned refugees have that right. Caudito Trump making the US into something that the refugees fear more than staying where they were makes us worse than the gangs and warlords those people are fleeing from. Caudito Trump was trying to make the United States appear more frightening than MS13, his preferred Mexican bogeyman of the time.
That was Trump’s plan. That was why he separated children from their parents at the border. That was why he locked children up in cages. That was why he and his former Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, as well as his current AG Billy Barr conspired to make millions of people who are Americans stateless by denying them residency inside the United States. He declared these poor people invaders and outsiders simply because they didn’t have documents to prove that they were Americans.
Is that something you carry around with you? Proof that you belong here? Most of us don’t have those kinds of documents. There was a political backlash in the 1990’s against even creating a thing similar to a national ID, and yet you don’t dare leave home without your papers if you look like a Mexican in the United States, even in 2020.
These people aren’t a threat to anything aside from the narrow vision that feeding them, sheltering them, welcoming them will somehow mean there is less for the rest of us. The poor towns and villages of Mexico, with far less resources than we can command on a whim, have embraced these people and welcomed them with open arms.
That is what it is to be human. To be humane. To ease the suffering of others, even if you have to do without because of it. You welcome refugees in and you offer them whatever it is that you have to spare, because at least you have it to spare.
…And the only reason, the only reason that there can be for singling out the Southern border as the place where problem migrants come from, is racism. Caudito Trump doesn’t talk about gangs other than Mexican gangs. He doesn’t talk about anything other than the other waiting for us across the Southern border.
After the 2018 election he changed tactics. Gone were the threats of invasion from across the Southern border, other than the occasional red flag that the coronavirus could be sneaking across the border with those evil Mexicans. In the 2020 election when he needed the votes of brown-skinned Americans to win, his pitch was entirely economic.
Unfortunately Caudito Trump didn’t have a definable economic policy. His economics is not about getting dollars into the hands of average Americans that need them, or helping the drug addicted wretches strung out on profit-making drugs manufactured by international pharmaceutical companies. No, his economics amounted to calling everyone he wanted his supporters to be afraid of socialists, as if socialism was a bad thing.
Socialism is not what conservatives think socialism is. Stalin wasn’t socialist. Stalin was a dictator, like Putin is. Stalin was a dictator like Caudito Trump wanted to be. The fear of socialism has driven conservatives to embrace the thing that they should be afraid of. Socialism is Medicare or Social Security, and most Americans love those programs.
Historically? Historically socialism evolved into Marxism, and Marxism turned out to be a dead end. Marxism was what Stalin paid lip service to while killing 60 million people as perhaps the worst dictator in human history (he has competitors for that position) Marxism, as a theory, died with the USSR. The social democracies of the Nordic countries are also socialism, practiced within the loosely capitalist/feudalist framework that dominates the Western world.
The economics of Trumpismo amounts to trickle-down economics in the form of giant tax breaks for the wealthy and be afraid of socialists. That isn’t an economic platform that can bear any weight. After four years I’m still largely left with a puzzle. What was Trumpismo? What is it? Can it be defined by the targets he selects?
“I’ve been amazed and disappointed by so much of what this president had said, and his approach to running this country, which seems to be one of just a never ending divisiveness. But his comments today about those who have lost loved ones in times of war and his lies that previous presidents Obama and Bush never contacted their families are so beyond the pale, I almost don’t have the words.”
At this point, Coach Pop paused, and I thought for a moment that perhaps he didn’t have the words and the conversation would end. Then he took a breath and said:
“This man in the Oval Office is a soulless coward who thinks that he can only become large by belittling others. This has of course been a common practice of his, but to do it in this manner—and to lie about how previous presidents responded to the deaths of soldiers—is as low as it gets. We have a pathological liar in the White House, unfit intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to hold this office, and the whole world knows it, especially those around him every day. The people who work with this president should be ashamed, because they know better than anyone just how unfit he is, and yet they choose to do nothing about it. This is their shame most of all.”
Everything Caudito Trump says can be dismissed as obfuscation. You can harm your own understanding of reality if you pay attention to the words coming out of his mouth. Hucksters of his caliber have long lost sight of what is true or isn’t true and are continually engulfed in a fog of bullshit that they can’t even see through, so there is little to be gained from sifting through his words for gems of truth.
However, this Bullshit is Bullshit truism doesn’t mean that Caudito Trump has no politics, no Trumpismo, or that his politics can’t be sieved out of his nearly chaotic actions. It’s just that the results may not create a framework that supports weight. There isn’t a there there to build on, as far as I can tell. But there is a pattern which can be illuminated, like the outline of a murder victim left at a crime scene.
I’ll start with this. Donald Trump was impeached for trying to get Ukraine to create propaganda targeting Joe Biden, the man that Caudito Trump lost the 2020 election to. Time after time Trump attempted to profit himself at the expense of the country at large, and when the thing he was trying to do benefited the Republican party, the Republican leadership in the legislature followed his lead. Sullying Joe Biden’s reputation served their interests, and so they acquitted Donald Trump of the crimes he was accused of, even though the crimes had been demonstrated in open court. This action made the Republican party accomplices to Trump’s crimes, an act that they have so far evaded punishment for.
These events, however, serve to illustrate the one major point of consistency about Caudito Trump. Time after time, when Donald Trump acted, it was to benefit Donald Trump alone.
Caudito Trump’s consistent self-rewarding actions reveal the first plank of Trumpismo. He believes that in order for there to be winners there must be losers. In order for there to be success there must be want and suffering. The first tenet of Trumpismo is belief in the zero-sum game. This belief underpins every other thing that Caudito Trump and his Stormtrumpers believe. Others must suffer so that they can have what they want in life. The suffering of others is not only unavoidable, it is desirable. Without the visible suffering of the losers there cannot be anything to desire about being a winner.
This is a requirement of the zero-sum game. Once you have subscribed to this tenet, everything else falls into place. The racism, the xenophobia, the bulwark of nationalists and populists down through the centuries is a hallmark of those who think they must claim more than they are rightfully due. This is why they don’t see themselves as racist when they move to keep what they have secured for themselves. Protect it from the other, those who have to do without.
Donald Trump winning means cheaters win. Cheating was and is his standard of practice and his father’s standard of practice. Caudito Trump’s biggest supporters, White Evangelicals, are cheating and they know it. They know he isn’t a christian, but they support him even with this inadmissible knowledge in their heads because engaging in this deception gets them the ideological victories that they have literally sold their souls for over the years since Ronald Reagan took office. This is just another facet of belief in the zero-sum game.
Caudito Trump runs his businesses like a crime boss, and he does business with criminal gangs from around the world. Hillary Clinton’s major failing as a candidate and a politician is that she never tried to prove that Donald Trump was a tax cheat back when New York state could have done something about it. She knew he was a cheater, just like everyone else in business and government in New York city knew this about him, and yet she did nothing to torpedo the man before he became Caudito Trump, the man in control of the largest military on the face of the Earth.
Oh my! This is why I should have stayed out of this. I could say the same about you sir. We will never agree with each other. We both think the other is willfully ignorant and will NEVER see the others point. Just keep depending on the government (other people) to take care of you. I want to depend on myself and God. I guess we just agree to disagree.
Agree to disagree, the height of willful ignorance. That’s what I suggested was being displayed in that conversation back in 2018 with my brother-in-law and his friends. Willful ignorance. Deliberate stupidity. The author was asserting that there was a vast liberal conspiracy at the center of the average American’s perception of Caudito Trump. That this was the reason that Donald Trump has been dismissed as one of the worst presidents in history. The belief that Barack Obama was one of the best presidents in history.
A vast liberal conspiracy? I was citing a Pew poll as evidence of these assertions. That Obama was loved. That Trump was hated. Agreeing to disagree on matters of opinion is a forgivable sin, I’ll grant that much. If only nature was so malleable as to allow willful ignorance like the above to go unpunished for long.
This is the next most substantial platform of the politics of Caudito Trump under the adherence to the zero-sum game. The second platform is the belief in a grand conspiracy that is keeping the most powerful office in the United States from being exercised the way that its current occupant wants. Caudito Trump loves the stupid, and the stupid love grand conspiracy theories, so he loves and promotes grand conspiracies as the reason why he cannot give his supporters what he thinks they want.
This is why he promotes the ridiculous fantasies behind Qanon. It isn’t because he believes that crap. His supporters believe it, and so he puts on that face. His actions are a pantomime, a mimicry of what his supporters say they want in a leader.
Fortunately (unfortunately for them) nature does not reward leaders that cannot lead, and what we have witnessed time and again over the last four years is that Donald Trump can’t lead. He can’t lead because he has nothing he believes in aside from Donald Trump.
Trump and his enablers — like those from history of similar mindset — have made it abundantly clear: Anybody not of THE PARTY can’t be trusted. This is the primary message of, “Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added…does anyone think this is fair?” And so, unchecked, what happens next is those who are not of THE PARTY must be removed from power. They must be purged from government, from military leadership, from law enforcement, and especially from public education.
A leader has to believe something. Faith in oneself is only part of the leadership equation. You also have to have faith in something greater than yourself, and a narcissist like Trump can’t imagine anything greater than he is. This is why he lies incessantly. This is why he constantly cheats at everything that he does. He is a broken man. He has always been a broken man.
This isn’t how we were raised. This isn’t how any of us were raised, aside from Caudito Trump. These aren’t the values of a free people. This is not the America I fell in love with as a child. If it is the vision of America that you want embodied, one that you support, then I have to wonder what it is that you are so afraid of?
Penniless, hopeless refugees are a threat to the United States? We throw away more food in a day here in the US than would be needed to feed ten times the number of refugees requesting asylum in the US right now. We have entire towns made up of empty houses. We have more empty space than would be necessary to house every homeless person in the world if they somehow made their way here to the United States.
I have some good news for you. The game is not zero-sum. Trump is a con artist that lies to you. Refugees are not a threat, they are an asset that we squander, just like we squander the vast amounts of treasure we possess on things that do not make us better people. It is time to stop being afraid. Time to stop listening to people who tell you that you should be afraid, especially when those people have the wealth and authority to solve the problems they tell you to be afraid of, if only they exercised a fraction of their wealth and power to do it. Don’t fall for the con. Don’t defend Trump’s lost cause. Don’t accept his vision of America as your vision of America.
Trump stops being president on January 20th, 2021. There is nothing he can do that will change this fact. It is written into the constitution that the office ends when and where it does. For him to attempt to remain in office is The essence of what unconstitutional means.
The Democratic speaker of the new House of Representatives will become President on January 20th, 2021 if Caudito Trump has rendered the election results inconclusive, which is the best he can do under the circumstances. I’m good with that result just as I am good with Joe Biden becoming president. The average citizen did their job on November 3rd of this year. We honored the 240,000 dead Americans and kicked their murderer out of office in the election. Our job is done. Now it is up to the people who have been given authority to to their jobs.
The governors and legislators of the various states will follow the constitution they swore to uphold, and validate the election results that the count (still going on) reveals. The electors for the president will cast their ballots on December 8th, and if that vote doesn’t reveal a Biden presidency, then the House of Representatives will step in and try to make sense of the mess. The Democratic House of Representatives. Who do you think they will chose?
The military can be counted on to follow procedure. That is one of the few things I’m fairly certain of. They will not back Caudito Trump’s transparent coup attempt that is currently being foiled in the courts. The US military will follow procedure and back whoever Congress names as the next president, because that is what procedure requires of them. Caudito Trump is done. Still, I think I will keep my fingers crossed until January 20th, just in case.
It’s going to be interesting watching Trump get evicted on January 20th. It’ll be like justice has finally arrived for all those black families his father evicted all of his life, that Trump’s son-in-law Jared evicts regularly to this very day.
When Joe Biden takes the oath of office and enters the White House we will have come full circle again. The evangelicals that allied themselves to the Republican party under Reagan have been frustrated yet again with Biden’s victory. The people who were so scandalized by the nomination and then election of Bill Clinton to the White House, the people who were so shocked at having to tell their children about oral sex because the president got a blowjob and it was talked about on the news, those very same people went out and promoted Caudito Trump and his Trumpismo to the White House.
With Caudito Trump’s elevation to high office the Moral Majority ceased to have any claim to morals or to even being a majority anymore, and they were soundly defeated at the polls on November 3rd. Even though they managed to make some gains on down-ballot races, Joe Biden will likely win with more than seven million votes, more votes than have ever been cast for a president before in history. I wonder what hobby horse these backers of Trump and his Trumpismo will come riding back out on next time? Because there will be a next time.
In researching this article before publishing it I came to the realization that I mistook the existence of The Perot Group and its development of properties in Texas to be the only business that Ross Perot engaged in. In that assumption I was mistaken. I left the text I had written largely intact because it does reflect what I thought of Ross Perot in 1992. I was simply wrong in 1992. Wrong that he was a real estate developer, correct in my estimation that he was a salesman first. He just happened to be a technologist second and not the even more divorced from reality group designated as real estate developer.
when I decided that the name for Trump’s politics was Trumpismo back in 2017, I thought I was being unique and original. Turns out, a lot of people had the same idea at about the same time that I did. Oh, well.
As if those shows you watch would get aired without a profit motivation? Would they even have been made? Would Netflix exist? Would Facebook? You take a lot for granted.
I had to admit, he had a valid point. Not that I agree with him, but the point is valid on its face. Every television show, every radio show ever created was created the way they were to specifically address the advertising model adopted by broadcasters in the early twentieth century. All of them exist the way they do because their creators and the networks that paid for their creation were speculating on audience appeal and the value of that appeal on the advertising markets.
I find it amusing, when listening to public radio podcasts, that they stop for an advertising message at precise intervals. Those intervals are dictated by the broadcasters who understood just how much information the listener or viewer could assimilate at one time before being lost in the narrative. You can have this much information and no more, because we need you to pay attention to this next advertisement! Leave the audience hungry, so that they will tune back in after the pause in order to hear the rest of the story.
Public radio and television networks (and especially podcasts. No podcasts need to follow this formula unless they too count on advertising to pay for their content) do not need to stop for an advertising message every fifteen to thirty minutes. They just do that in order to conform to the standards for commercial broadcasts and the advertising model that has proven to be largely unworkable in the post-scarcity economy that the internet is the harbinger of.
The Wife and I have mused together several times over nearly a decade about what this impending switchover to post-scarcity economics implies. Gene Roddenberry and his chief work of fiction, Star Trek, do not do more than imply that inhabitants in that distant future no longer understand what money is and why we ancients could never get past the need of it.
The Wife has asked this very question when I have posed what the impending advent of a freedom dividend or universal basic income(UBI) or guaranteed minimum income (GMI) would mean to the average person. What will the world be like, when people no longer have to work to survive? No one knows, because that economic state has never existed in human memory. But it is about to happen, one way or another.
The world economic system throws off enough human value, measured in increments of whatever monetary system you want to use, for the entire world to be provided with the means to survive without having to work. The operative phrase there being having to. Work will still be done, because people need to work. They just won’t starve or be kicked out of their (modest) residences when they don’t. We already live in a post-scarcity economy, we simply do not have the benefits of that economy spread equinomically across all the participants.
The right way to get out of the problem that we are in now, the problem of false scarcity, is the only real question here. The question is not whether or not we can get out of this delusion of scarcity that the wealthy who run the world make sure to indoctrinate their workers with. How do we do emerge from scarcity in a way that the creators of all the things we use on a daily basis finally do get the benefits of their creations? That system has never existed before in history.
In Fields of Blood (Karen Armstrong, 2015) the point was driven home early in the book that the agrarian state was based on the direct confiscation of the farmer’s work. In example after example she paints the inescapable portrait of the leaders of these states confiscating the work of the providers and creators in order to live more comfortable, secure lives, while only marginally providing security and stability for the people that they live on top of.
In the recent science fiction novel, New York 2140 (Kim Stanley Robinson, 2017) the author projects a future where these economic thieves are still making a fine living off of the suffering of other people, even though a good portion of the world’s population is living a marginal existence in the flooded remains of our former coastal cities. I don’t want to spoil the ending of the book, so I won’t go into how the world changes over the course of the novel, but I don’t need to in order to make the point that I want to make in mentioning the book here.
That point is this; we can stop these profiteers, these pirates, we can stop them here and now and just avoid that future altogether. All we have to do is adopt an economic strategy that lifts all boats by design. A strategy that modifies itself as the economics around it shift from decade to decade. That strategy will take the form of a UBI or GMI, but that is just the beginning. The question then really does become, what next?
Well, the creators will continue to create, for one thing. The farmers will farm, because that is what they do. When they get wealthy from their efforts at creating they will either stop doing that or find someone else to help them do that. Someone who is still just bouncing along on subsistence. The farmers are just the beginning of what has become a very complex social structure since the days when Abraham first conjectured that the problem with society was that it stole all of his work, and set off to create the perfect agrarian state. A state that ended up never existing. Dozens of religions have been founded on his simple observations, and still we struggle with the beast that is scarcity and the fear of scarcity.
To answer the question from the beginning of this article, would these shows exist? I have to point out that most people who create do that because that is what they do. The Wife makes movies, has been part of some fifteen films over the span of decades of her life, and she’s never made a dime off of any of them. It would have been nice to make some money from them, that just isn’t the reason she does it. It isn’t the reason that anyone working in film or television or radio or the theater does the work they do. They create the things they do because that is what interests them, and there is a place for them to make these things and so contribute to the world, so they do what they can.
I write because that is what I do. I also don’t make any money off of it. It would be nice to make money; but again, that isn’t why I do it. I didn’t create architectural documents to make money. I did it because drafting and computers and escaping my dysgraphic limitations were what drove me. When I couldn’t do that anymore, and being faced with ceasing to be relevant to the world because I could no longer do the thing I loved, I found a way to do the thing I had always wanted to do. Write. Writing is the thing I had always wanted to do but couldn’t do because I had to feed a family, and writing without a computer interface is an impossibility for someone who has the kind of dysgraphic problems that I have.
The space in which to reinvent myself was provided by socialism, which is why I say that I was Saved by Socialism, and having been given that space and discovering that I had to do something in order to keep living in the here and now, I taught myself to write in much the same way that I taught myself computer assisted drafting (several times) I can now bring my ideas into existence with a word processor for them to be discussed or puzzled over by anyone who runs across them.
This personal revelation of mine is a part of why I keep telling people who clearly are angry about being forced to do a job they don’t want to do, to just stop doing it. Just stop. Wait. Wait as long as it takes for them to get that itch. Some people will never notice the itch. There is no help for those people no matter what I might say here. Most people will get the itch and they will be driven up off the couch and out the door in pursuit of something to do with themselves that feels meaningful in the grand sense of meaning, and not in the personal sense of meaning which amounts to “what can I distract myself with next?”
I want, more than anything, for everyone to be allowed to sit down and say “I’m not going to do that anymore.” …and then have them be forced to admit that sitting at home doing nothing is not a useful, rewarding life that you can be happy in. Because until that experience is a realistic possibility the delusion of scarcity and its fear will drive people to keep working at things that they don’t find rewarding but feel that they must continue to work at anyway unless they want to starve, their children to starve, live on the streets, etcetera.
They are convinced that if they don’t work the world will come to a standstill. Even the Wife says “the world will come to a standstill, won’t it?” I want to see their faces when they realize that the world keeps going on anyway, turning once around its axis each day, traveling once around the sun each year, even though they have decided not to participate in life any longer. Because it is at that point that we really will have arrived at a post-scarcity economy.
This thought occurred to me when Chadwick Boseman (November 29, 1976 – August 28, 2020) (Wikipedia) died from complications of cancer back in August. The man was so amazing on screen. Now imagine being that amazing while all the time knowing what was eating you alive from inside. The treatments. The pain.
…And still. Some of the best performances ever recorded on film by anyone. I am in awe of him and so many other people out there who strive and achieve against such great odds. It inspires me to keep going. To not give up.
The Electoral College was designed to reflect the popular vote. A popular vote that depends on who is allowed to vote, and for whom.
For those of you who missed history class, or for those of you who don’t obsess about politics and elections on a regular basis, I offer this primer on the way that the United States picks its presidents and vice presidents. It is a method of selection like no other in the world. A needlessly complicated and arcane practice of voting for people who will vote for the people who will run this country, and we go through all these hurdles because of slavery. We call the result of that convoluted process the Electoral College (EC) and it still exists today, long after slavery is a thankfully distant memory.
Slavery? I hear you asking. Yes, slavery. Don’t take my word for it, look it up. Or you could just listen to this episode of NPR’s Throughline.
The EC has a long and troubled history. The EC wasn’t even in the first draft of the Constitution. James Madison, who wrote the majority of the document, claimed he preferred direct election of the president by the people, but instead wrote into it that congress was to select the president. This mechanism was deemed too prone to intrigue by the members of the constitutional convention, and was seen as crippling the independence of the executive branch by making it reliant on congress. At least two of the original attendees of the convention favored direct popular election of the executive, but this idea was sacrificed even before the writing of the first draft of the document in order to make inclusion of the slave states palatable to the Northern states.
There was one difficulty however of a serious nature attending an immediate choice by the people. The right of suffrage was much more diffusive in the Northern than the Southern States; and the latter could have no influence in the election on the score of Negroes. The substitution of electors obviated this difficulty and seemed on the whole to be liable to the fewest objections.
The historical fact of American slavery is something that the defenders of the EC should take heed of. The numerous slaves in the Southern states, slaves that the Southern slave owners and state representatives wanted counted as people for the purpose of apportioning representation, would have skewed the college and congress towards the South, which the North objected to. The South wanted slaves counted as people, for the purpose of representation, but not counted as people, for the purpose of profiting off of their slave labor. The impasse over the problem of representation in the legislature and at the voting booth threatened the entire constitutional convention, much like the problem of slavery threatened the possibility of American independence, not to mention the continued existence of the Union itself in 1860.
It was the invention of the three-fifths rule, a rule that counted each slave as three-fifths of a person, that allowed for a compromise on representation, and through that a compromise on the election of the office of president. Changes have been made to the EC along the way from then to now, but the essence of the college itself remains the same as it was back in 1787; and that essence is a safeguard against factions having an undue sway over the selection of the President.
The concern was not that the people would pervert the process, but that the factions, the parties, were to be guarded against. This was the paramount fear in the minds of the crafters of the Union. The EC was part of the whole package of division of powers, allowing for the will of the voting population of each state to be carried directly to the then new capitol. The preservation of state power was what the EC was designed to protect, enhancing the ability of sectionalism to thwart the corrupting influence of faction.
Faction almost immediately took hold anyway.
Some states reasoned that the favorite presidential candidate among the people in their state would have a much better chance if all of the electors selected by their state were sure to vote the same way—a “general ticket” of electors pledged to a party candidate. So the slate of electors chosen by the state were no longer free agents, independent thinkers, or deliberative representatives. They became “voluntary party lackeys and intellectual non-entities.”Once one state took that strategy, the others felt compelled to follow suit in order to compete for the strongest influence on the election.
When James Madison and Hamilton, two of the most important architects of the Electoral College, saw this strategy being taken by some states, they protested strongly. Madison and Hamilton both made it clear this approach violated the spirit of the Constitution. According to Hamilton, the selection of the president should be “made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station [of president].” According to Hamilton, the electors were to analyze the list of potential presidents and select the best one. He also used the term “deliberate”.
The 1824 election, the first election in which the popular vote mattered, was the second time the EC failed to produce a president. Once again the House of Representatives was forced to debate and vote on presidential candidates, eventually electing John Quincy Adams, the son of John Adams, to the presidency. This so infuriated the winner of the popular vote in 1824, Andrew Jackson, that he broke with the party of Jefferson (Democratic-Republicans) to create the Democratic party, a version of which still exists today.
The formation of the other half of the two-party factional control of the United States government came about with the election of Abraham Lincoln. It was with the election of Lincoln that the regional Republican party graduated to the national stage. Lincoln is one of four presidents who won the office while not being on the ballots in every state, and the only president to win the office while not being on the ballot in more than 5 states (he was not on the ballot in ten of the eleven slave states) he did win the EC successfully, probably because the slave states of the deep South were already pulling their support from the union and actively engaging in dissipating federal power to the several states so as to strengthen their own hands in the coming war that they were actively conspiring to start.
The electoral college is the only one where they choose their own masters.
However, the EC was set up to reflect the population of the United States as a whole. It achieved this through tying a majority of the electors from each state to the number of representatives from each state in the House of Representatives. Each district of the House being determined through the arcane process of census and redistricting, the seats apportioned based on populations within geographical regions. One elector for every seat in the House of Representatives plus one for every Senator. Add in the three electors for Washington D.C. (the same number of electors as the least populous state) and you have the number of electors in the current version of the EC, 538. It is supposed to return results that roughly equates to the vote of the majority of the population of the United States, and has done its job pretty admirably right up until the twentieth century when Congress short-circuited the representation metric that the founders set up.
How did the House upset the metric? They crafted the last in several sequential measures that set the number of seats in the legislature. The membership of the House of Representatives has been kept artificially low for most of the modern age. the number of representatives was fixed at 435 in 1911 and has remained at 435 as the population of the United States has grown exponentially. This has lead to an ever-increasing number of people represented by a single seat in congress, a ridiculous number of people that the framers would never have envisioned as acceptable. The original minimum population per house seat was 30,000; but the current representatives for the House each represent about half a million people, at least, with the higher population districts containing about three-quarters of a million people.
This is important, because this is how you get to the point where a candidate can win by well over a million votes in the popular election, and yet lose the election by electoral count. The EC is rigged against the popular vote being reflected in the makeup of the college, because the electors are not properly apportioned to the populations of the various states. For that matter, the House of Representatives no longer serves its function as a direct representation of the people, because it too is not apportioned correctly even though it was set up specifically to serve this purpose.
If the House of Representatives was allowed to grow again, as it did throughout the history of the United States, we would end up with a House that was made up of several thousand people. This may sound like a radical change to you, increasing the size of the house, but we’ll get a better representational cross-section of America if we do this and thereby end a lot of the talk about disconnected Washington politics in the process. Will it be more difficult to get important work done? I doubt that it can get more difficult than it is already. I think we will have to find that out first hand. Keep this point in mind.
So we have this thing called an Electoral College that votes for our president for us. The EC is forced to vote for the party that controls the states who appoint the electors who make up the college. These faithless elector rules were recently upheld by the Supreme Court. The size of the EC is kept artificially small because of the size restrictions set on the United States House of Representatives, resulting in neither the House or the EC reflecting the thing they were supposed to reflect, the numbers of people who live in different areas of the country, directly.
Party/faction controls everything in the United States today and nothing can be done without one of the two parties holding a majority in both houses of the legislature both in the several states and in the federal government. Even if the parties manage to hold both houses, the president from another party can still keep the nation at a standstill if all they control is the presidency itself. One man who keeps the United States from doing its business both at home and abroad.
It is damnably unfortunate for the sane people who live in the United States that the Republican party is demonstrably insane, and is being led by someone who either does believe or pretends to believe insane things. It is even more unfortunate that the Republican party has rigged the census and the districts that are currently in effect to favor their insane party leadership.
It is of small comfort to the 240,000 COVID dead Americans that the current governmental travesty is not even the first time in twenty years that this kind of miscarriage of justice has occurred. If the system worked as it was intended, then as a general rule the electors would reflect almost perfectly the will of the people who vote in a presidential election. But the system is being held hostage by parties that see their interests as more important than the interests of the population as a whole, even the populations that they are supposed to represent directly. They hold all the keys to the power that supposedly resides in the people themselves, and we have to take it back from them while we still have a country that is worth saving.
These parties/factions will stop at nothing to get into power, that is the reason that they exist. The reason that they were created in the first place. Party has replaced intellect and reason. We have become a nation of political face painters with no more understanding of the systems that supposedly rely on our input than our pets understand the workings of a can opener. Idiocracy was too real to be funny. The Trump presidency has proven this to me several times over now. The parties tell us to wag our tails, and we wag away expecting to be fed, never understanding that we could work the mechanisms ourselves if we simply stood up and used the political voice that is guaranteed to us by law.
The thing I learned from listening to that episode of Throughline that I linked earlier is that the EC was almost removed from the constitution by amendments twice in our history. Once, when the changes in 1800 were worked out, and the second time when we almost got George Wallace as a president instead of Richard Nixon (Now, there is an alternative history that I’m glad to not be in) As recently as 2018, Elizabeth Warren and other notables have called for the elimination of the EC. Fixing the election system is doable, if only we make it clear that what we want is everyone to be included and everyone to be heard by someone who represents them.
The EC has failed to do its job. It has failed to justify its inclusion in the fabric of American society, three-fifths compromise notwithstanding. With the 2016 travesty in the rear-view mirror it becomes painfully obvious that we either must amend the constitution to remove the EC, legislatively render it toothless in every state legislature in the US, or modify the structure that dictates its size and representation. One of these three things must occur. Several states have already passed the legislation mandating the popular vote outcome.
If we cannot render the EC toothless legislatively, and if we cannot amend it out of the constitution replacing it with the direct election of the president by the population of the United States, then what we have to do is the easier thing that I alluded to earlier. We influence our representatives to do the thing they can do for us and themselves, and it’s part of the job we send them to Washington D.C. to do in the first place. They should legislate an increase in the size of the House of Representatives, and through that increase negate the corrupting influences of faction and money.
What the study and report above shows is exactly what I said. The imposed limitation of 435 members placed on congress by congress itself is the limiting factor for gaining more influence over our representatives, for gaining an equitable voice in electing our president. This is one of the easiest things to fix, and it would fix the EC at the same time. With one simple bill introduced in congress we could increase the size of the congress and reduce the numbers of us per representative. We could make the representatives more focused on communicating with their much smaller groups of constituents, and be much more replaceable by those same groups.
A constituent base of 30,000 people means that my specific region of Austin would have their own representative in congress. A larger congress would be impossible to control externally by factional politics. It would lead to the formation of regional parties and a dilution of power in Washington D.C. We’d need to build facilities to house the additional several thousand representatives, which will be a windfall for the states and Washington itself. I don’t see how this works out as bad in any real way.
So rather than paying more money to influence my congressman, vying for influence with dollars I do not have, I propose we pay the congressmen less money and multiply their number by about a magnitude. Require them to listen to us if they want to keep their jobs. As a bonus, the EC will increase in size and we won’t see a repeat of this last election again. Pick one of those three options and work towards it, if you want to save this country from itself.
This is an update to the 2016 piece that I wrote anticipating that the EC could be made to do its job when Donald Trump had appeared to win the EC vote, even though three million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton. I expected that a majority of EC members would rebel and cast their votes for some other candidate rather than either of those two. I would have taken John Kasich at the time. At least he had a working brain, unlike Trump, and wasn’t hated by every conservative in the country, unlike Hillary Clinton. My hopes were dashed and there was no rebellion. The sheep that were put in place to vote for their party’s nominee bleated, and we got President Donald Trump for four years.
My response in 2006 went something like “Republicans have no intention of reversing Roe v. Wade. They would be fools if they did reverse it.” I’m beginning to suspect that I overestimated their intelligence on this particular subject. There has been a veritable deluge of attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade in the last decade, not to mention the war that conservatives are waging on Planned Parenthood in the mistaken belief that Planned Parenthood is where all abortions occur in the United States.
As the writing appears on the wall in this final gasp of American conservatism, the soon to be disempowered Republican party continues to slice parts of itself off in an orgy of self-congratulation. It seems that throwing all their morals out the window and voting for a confirmed con-artist, philanderer and pathological liar requires them to double down on their debunked claims to a moral high ground. They are convinced that if they only pass one more law they’ll finally be able to get rid of the medical procedure, abortion, by overturning Roe. They also seem to think that they’ll stop women from using birth control or morning after pills. I think they should stop while they are ahead.
Ahead you ask? How are they ahead? The answer is as demonstrable as the the lack of a moral high ground was in the previous paragraph. Roe was a conservative decision based on science and the law back when it was decided in 1973. It was and is conservative because it represented a partial step towards granting women the same bodily autonomy that men enjoy, before there was a detectable change in the woman’s body, while protecting the state’s interest in making sure that the maximal number of new citizens is born to each new generation of women. The state’s interest is expressed in those terms and in only those terms.
Abortion wasn’t even a hot button issue back in 1973 when Roe was decided. Several churches and leaders of the time signed on to allowing abortion to spread across the nation as a legitimate medical procedure back then. It wasn’t until the birth of the Moral Majority in response to the changes in the American family and the threat to the subjugation of women that the Equal Rights Amendment represented that Abortion became the focal point of American conservatism. American conservatism that was being used like a sock puppet by the Christianist right.
That episode of NPR’s Throughline covers how abortion was turned into the issue that it is today by Jerry Falwell and his merry band of Moral Majority pranksters. This article isn’t about Christianists and Christianism and why the rest of us who live in the United States should be opposed to everything that Christianists want to do to our country. They are important issues, but this article is about a medical procedure, abortion, and what banning that procedure does to the citizenry in general and women in particle. Why we as average citizens should be opposed to the banning of abortion that modern American conservatism is based on.
Access to healthcare is a woman’s right. There really isn’t any question about this because access to healthcare, a combined investment by the society at large as well as individuals caught up in the various healthcare systems across the globe, is every human’s right. This right is established through the fact that each person born came from someone who in some way contributed to the current status of medical knowledge and the existing medical infrastructure. People come from somewhere, and that somewhere is from other people. People created the healthcare system over generations, and this basic fact grants later generations access to the combined knowledge of their forebears on what should be an equal basis. An equality that is currently being denied to most people living today, but that observation is also a digression from the specific point I’m trying to make with this article.
Abortion is a medical procedure, no if’s and’s or but’s about it. As a medical procedure, abortion should be available to anyone who wants one, end of story. Or rather, it would be the end of the story if men had to carry the next generation in their bodies in the same way women do. But that isn’t how nature set procreation up. Nature put the bearing of young on women’s backs, not men’s backs. This left the women at home while the men formed hunting parties. It left them at home caring for children while the men created the first governments. It left the women at home changing and washing diapers while men learned professions and took jobs outside the house. Because of these historical facts, men today vy for access to a women’s reproductive organs, by violence if necessary, and then try to keep their unwanted progyny in the woman’s body by force of law since they, the men, set up that law through their control of government.
Men do not face the kinds of obstructions that women do in life. There is no litmus test for young men like there is for young women. No one asks men if they are planning to have children. No one hiring a man for work worries about the man getting pregnant and having to be absent from work. Women are by default subjected to these kinds of stigma because they are the ones that keep Homo Sapiens Sapiens a going concern. Without them there would be no future humans to buy all the stuff that H.S. Sapiens is obsessed with producing.
No one expects men to reveal whether they’ve had a vasectomy. No one wants to hold men accountable for wasting potential life every time they masturbate (no one who is sane does, anyway) their privacy is respected, even when it comes to making decisions about whether they will have children or not. This is not true of women.
Women’s health is fraught with demands to know things about their physical being that a man would never, ever, put up with. “She’s on the rag.” “You look fat.” “your tits are too small.” “When are you due?” the intrusions into their personal privacy defy any attempt at comparison to the way men are treated in public. The next time a man loses his shit in public, ask him if he’s played with himself recently. Go ahead, I dare you.
In Western medicine hysteria was considered both common and chronic among women. The American Psychiatric Association dropped the term hysteria in 1952. Even though it was categorized as a disease, hysteria’s symptoms were synonymous with normal functioning female sexuality. In extreme cases, the woman may have been forced to enter an insane asylum or to have undergone surgical hysterectomy.
There is a right to privacy in the constitution, and the reason this right exists even though it isn’t enumerated is itself a function of constitutional jurisprudence. Political pundits talk about how abortion is a litmus test for potential Supreme Court justices. If there really were a litmus test when it comes to abortion, it ought to be the constitution that forms it since the constitution is what they swear to uphold. The test could be formed of a single question with two possible answers. What is the meaning of the ninth and tenth amendments to the constitution? The answer to this question could be either unenumerated personal rights and/or limited government power. Any potential judge that does not concede the existence of a right to privacy, of a limit to state power, does not have a place on the bench within the US court system. They demonstrably do not understand the document that they will be sworn to protect.
Roe v. Wade establishes a right to privacy in jurisprudence. The findings of all of the cases that involve privacy since that case rely on the findings of Roe for their justification. The court will have to find some other basis for privacy as a right in any form if they hope to preserve privacy after reversing Roe. Yes, the prospect of reversal of that judicial precedent is that far-reaching. To reverse it is to make us all wards of the state and to make all claims to privacy by persons, including the multi-national corporations null and void. Pick one. Outlaw abortion or lose your ability to talk to your doctor or attorney in confidence.
Evidence for life
Proving something in court requires that you produce evidence for your claims. First you have to prove that there is a life, a life with a conscious mind, a will to live, and not just autonomic responses. Breath is the baseline for determining whether human life is present. Without breath there is no voice to speak up in protest. Without breath there is no human life that medicine or science can document. Without breath there isn’t a soul, as your own religious document states.
After you do that you still aren’t done. You still have to show how you will preserve that life without harming the life of the mother-to-be, and by harm I mean economic as well as physical or emotional harm. If you did all of that, you might have a telling argument. Failing to do any one of those things will put you back at where we started this entire fiasco. Individual choice. The woman decides if she will have a child, and that means right up to the day before delivery as far as legal arguments are concerned.
Keeping abortion legal does protect the life of the real, live woman whose body you want to use as a government-mandated incubator. Women die during pregnancy and childbirth, all the time. Savita Halappanavar died an unnecessary death in horrible pain due to Ireland’s (since repealed) ban on all abortions. This will happen here too if abortion is banned. Underaged girls get pregnant. Rape and incest figure into these pregnancies. Will you inflict further harm on girls who have already been violated by someone close to them by forcing them to carry those pregnancies to term? Some of them will die during pregnancy and childbirth. Just exactly what limits will you set in your pursuit of protecting the life of the unborn? How many women will die because of your crusade? It should be your job to count them all. All of those lost lives will be the blood on your hands. May you have better luck than Pontius Pilate had in removing that blood.
Anti-abortionists are now attempting to change the basis for evidence in legal arguments through their promotion of judges to higher seats on the bench in the United States. Judges who are just fine with not forcing claimants to prove that there is a human life being taken with every abortion. This is far, far more dangerous a move than just reversing Roe would be. That way lies inquisition and its many, many victims as Christianists look to destroy the impure in their midst, the impure that probably don’t even exist. If we want to maintain courts as the bastion of common decency that they are in the United States today, we cannot allow them to weaken evidentiary rules.
The stage is set for the final act of this farce. The farce that started when the Moral Majority decided to make America a christian country and set about forcing their beliefs about the nature of existence on the rest of us. The problem for them remains the same problem that the United States Supreme Court faced back in 1973. Namely, if they force women to carry every pregnancy to term, who pays for that? Who pays for those children’s futures? Who makes sure that they have equal access to the benefits of society right alongside every wealthy, wanted child?
Who Pays? Well, We All Will
Your taxes will be raised to cover those costs. Don’t bother to try to disagree, this is written into the constitution. Brown v. Board of Education outlines the bare bones of what will be required of the general public if women are forced to carry every pregnancy to term. Equal schools for all those children. Equal access to healthcare. Equal access to the courts will ensure that this prediction will play out as I describe. Trillions will be spent.
Not just on schools and medical facilities, things we should probably be investing in anyway, but also on police and investigative capacity. Every woman will have to be registered as soon as they have their first period. They will have to be registered as a potential mother so that they can be properly tracked. Don’t say this won’t happen, it has already happened in Missouri and in Donald Trump’s concentration camps. Sexual activity will have to be monitored to make sure that no one attempts to prevent a pregnancy. This task will require a police force the likes of which has never been seen before in history. The Handmaid’s Tale only hints at the depths of depravity that will be required to insure that no pregnancy is terminated, ever.
That is what reversing Roe will entail. But it only begins there. The current thinking for who will pick up the tab for all these new children amounts to making the men who father them pay for them. As if men are made of money and all you have to do is tap them like a Maple tree and they’ll ooze more money than any number of children will require. Most men are too shiftless to be willing to work to support the results of every orgasm they experience. Considering the thousands of times the average male masturbates in a given lifetime, this is understandable. Most men are unwilling to devote themselves to raising children through their own direct effort. This has been my experience as a dad who spent two years at home raising his second child. Most men that I have revealed this fact to have been incredulous that I would waste my time in that fashion. As if crafting the minds and bodies of the next generation of humans was work that wasn’t of prime importance to every currently living person.
Equality will not be achieved by enslaving the men unlucky enough to be caught fathering children. They will never produce enough to pay the costs of raising those children properly. The failure to produce funds to guarantee equality will result in the taxpayer having to fund the shortfall. This means your taxes will go up, and up, and up…
…if you ban abortion. Someone has to pay for these children, and the full faith and credit of the US government will require that the taxpayer eventually pays that bill.
Should men carry their share of the weight? Certainly. Should we leave children in the hands of women who don’t believe they are people and don’t want them? No. Should we force the fathers to share the poverty with these women and their unwanted children? No. Shall we then confiscate children from parents that cannot raise them? Make them wards of the state and then task the state with making sure they have the best life possible? Seems to me we probably shouldn’t even begin to head down that road, the road that is labeled banning abortion. That’s the point that I’ve been trying to make since this subject was forced into my personal space as a teenager, witnessing the misfortune of people who didn’t pay attention in health class. Someone will pay for the stupidity, eventually.
If, on the other hand, I were trying to craft political positions for the movers and shakers on the issue of abortion. If I were asked to advise them on the subject of whether to support this or that bill limiting women’s access to healthcare (as far-fetched as that notion would be) I would tell them to insist on a quid pro quo arrangement.
“Fine, I’ll support your interference in the health and family decisions of the average woman in exchange for legislation that guarantees that there will be no homeless children in our state. Legislation that insures no children go without meals or beds to sleep in or whatever level of education they prove themselves capable of working towards. Either we agree on this equal exchange, or I will torpedo your bill with every legislative trick that I can muster.”
That would be my advice. Anti-abortionists claim to be pro-life. It should be beholden on them to prove that they really are pro-life by making every child a wanted child, every child a child with a home, every child a child who is not hungry. Either that, or they can just admit that abortion is sometimes necessary and give up the whole idea of interfering in a woman’s right to choose. They are, after all, the shiftless men I’m talking about.
Punishment is where the entire roller coaster ride of anti-abortion sentiment goes off the rails. The moment that anti-abortionists decided to punish women for their promiscuity with forcing them to raise children they don’t want, they crossed an unforgivable line in the sand. Children are not punishment, and we cannot afford to treat them as punishment. Infants become adults, people with rights they can assert for themselves, and those people will take their dissatisfaction with their unwanted lives out on the rest of us.
This experiment has been tried in recent history and the results are known. Ask Nicolae Ceaușescu how well that worked out for him (another dictator that Trump would have loved) You can’t, because all those unwanted childrendragged him out of office and killed him. That is what has happened before when an authoritarian government attempted to make women raise children they didn’t want. If avoiding that fate means abortion is legal for the full term of a woman’s pregnancy then so be it.
All of the alternatives to the decision handed down in Roe v. Wade will be far less satisfying for anti-abortionists and Christianists than the status quo is right now. Over and over, looking at possible outcomes from reversing Roe, making abortion illegal, reveals that the current arrangement is most likely the best deal that those people can hope for because the chances that women will stop having abortions and stop having sex are almost nil, and that in itself represents a nightmare than men wake up screaming from anyway. Roe v. Wade was a conservative decision, far more conservative than what the status quo will be after the precedent is reversed, no matter which way the country goes after that. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The common refrain when abortion on demand became the law of the land was that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. The question that has never been answered has always been “what is the number that is rare?” I say let women decide. For themselves. For the Christianists out there in the audience: settle for the limited control you have now or potentially lose everything you currently cherish about American life. Because after women take back their rights to their own bodies, they are going to come after your other religious beliefs one by one, and people like me will encourage them to do so. Stop while you’re ahead.
You demand this life be born to appease you miserable vengeful god, but you then abdicate any responsibility for it whatsoever. Life begins at conception and ends at birth, well, at least society’s responsibility for it. To you, “sacred” means life must be born, no matter the consequences, and then it can die in the dirt and it’s not your problem. You would force life into the world, but shrug off any responsibility to build a better world for it.
Part 3 of a series of posts defining the Emergent Principles of Human Nature. This effort is an outgrowth of a challenge issued to me ages ago by a fellow libertarian that I explain inalienable rights without including god. Like most challenges of this type, the work is larger than the speaker or hearer understands at the time.
A Right to Life. What does that phrase mean? It’s patently obvious that an individual can’t claim an unlimited right to continue existing. Nature itself fails by comparison to infinite existence, since life as we know it on this planet did have a beginning and will have an ending. Life as we know it is the closest thing to nature, or natural, that can be said to exist at all.
Individual lives are far more transitory than the multi-billion years of life as we know it. Life as we can scientifically determine has existed on this planet. Life that will continue into the unknown and unknowable future. Life that will (hopefully) continue in an unbroken chain until the sun turns into a red giant and consumes everything inside the orbit of the planet Mars some billions of years in the future.
Do the children you produce have a right to live, a right to life? Your friends?Your neighbors? Does the person dying of cancer have a right to life? The starving person, the homeless person, the person lying out in the cold on a freezing winter night? Do they have a right to life? Why aren’t we compelled to help them? Why do they die, if they have a right to life? You too will die, we all will die. Do we have a right to life?
If rights are a thing that can’t be revoked, and yet life itself abandons the physical body, can there realistically be a thing called a right to life? It is an open question, in my estimation.
Human life is different, I hear you saying, human life is precious. You are right, human life is different. I don’t know that I would go so far as to say it is precious considering how we treat the needy among us, but human life is demonstrably different from any other kind of life on this planet that has ever existed before, in spite of the common ancestry we share with all other forms of life we have ever found. From a scientific perspective, we are the first creature that has modified its environment to such an extent that the impact of our habitation on Earth could well wipe out all traces of previous life and permanently alter the planet in the process, requiring the Earth itself to regenerate the life-sustaining envelope we currently enjoy today.
We have probably already entered the next era of Earth’s evolution. The Anthropocene is still in its proposal stages in the halls of science, but there is little doubt remaining that we have crossed the boundary into the human-created environment, for better or for worse. So we are different than other forms of life on the planet. But do we have a right to this life?
It is a mistake to start a list of rights with a right to life beyond the basic observation that taking the life of another person negates one’s own right to continue existing in the eyes of your peers. Again, this is demonstrable. The knee-jerk abortion protests and the outrage over euthanasia practices illustrates this fact as well. We want to exist. We want to exist for as long as we can maintain that existence in a fashion that is acceptable to our own vague notions of normal existence.
Abortion frightens those who see it as ending a life. They see it as a retroactive threat to their own lives, a cheat that allows the sexually permissive to go free. This is why the anti-abortion movement turns into the anti-sex movement as soon as it feels that it has established the beachhead of ending abortion. This is why they are now trying to end the use of contraceptives and other family planning practices. In their eyes, sex is for procreation only. The sex that other people engage in, at least.
Euthanasia is a far more personal threat. Everyone who exists, lives, will die. Tomorrow or several centuries from now, all of us will be gone at some point. Even these words set down in a permanent form of expression will cease to exist, to have meaning. Euthanasia ends that personal existence before its natural time. It is the bookend to abortion, in the eyes of a believer. Abortion ends life before it starts, euthanasia ends life before it is supposed to end, naturally.
However, most people do not understand what nature is. Nature is not just precious life, but cruel slavery of the living of one species, for their use by another species. This happens in the animal world as well as the human world. It is the nature of existence. Energy for continuing life must be harvested from somewhere, and that means killing something in order to continue existing. Did the cow that was turned into your hamburger have a right to life? Cows are mammals. They share a huge amount of genetic code with humans because of this fact. Shouldn’t all mammals have a right to life?
You might go for that argument and respond in the positive to it. Let’s go further out on the limb. How about the plants and insects that we consume. They are alive. Insects are even mobile and have primitive brains. Don’t they have a right to life? What will we use to continue our own lives if all forms of food are considered forbidden to eat because of the impact that will have on the sanctity of life?
This is the mistake of a fundamental right to life laid bare. We have no problem at all with taking the life of other living things, even other humans. To our credit, we have become less violent over the centuries. You can’t walk out into public and just start killing people without facing negative consequences for your actions. Acting under the color of authority does give cover for a substantial number of sociopathic tendencies. Wars kill thousands of people, sometimes hundreds of thousands in an instant. Because wars are conducted under the authority of governments, we allow these massive losses of life to go unpunished.
The police are routinely forgiven for killing the defenseless by accident. They are granted the right to use deadly force, and some accidents will happen. Did the person killed accidentally by the police have a right to life?
The state conducting executions in the town square strikes most people as insane or barbaric in Western countries, today. But it was a common practice throughout the world in previous centuries and there are some countries that still practice public executions. No one questions the legitimacy of the threat embodied in a hogtied victim that is the scapegoat for some reviled behavior or other, but the person is just as dead in the end whether he represented a legitimate threat or not. Do they have a right to life? Why not?
These examples are the kinds of reasons that historical lists of rights start with a right to life, not the reasons that are bandied about today. Abortion and euthanasia are commonplace in nature. Nature is survival of the fittest in the most personal form imaginable. Abortion and euthanasia were so commonplace in previous centuries as to be completely brushed aside by the average observer. The elderly were allowed to die, to take the long walk, because we couldn’t afford to feed them anymore without threatening our own existence directly. The mammalian body will re-absorb or miscarry young that threaten the life of the mother, or the pregnancy will kill her. A human female who has children that she can’t feed would, and in some countries still do, simply leave the young exposed for predators or the weather to kill. These were far more common as occurrences than public hangings were. Every family would have experienced at least one of these once a generation until the modern age.
People are born, people will die. When do they begin to have a right to life? When does it begin?
…Consciousness requires a sophisticated network of highly interconnected components, nerve cells. Its physical substrate, the thalamo-cortical complex that provides consciousness with its highly elaborate content, begins to be in place between the 24th and 28th week of gestation. Roughly two months later synchrony of the electroencephalographic (EEG) rhythm across both cortical hemispheres signals the onset of global neuronal integration. Thus, many of the circuit elements necessary for consciousness are in place by the third trimester. By this time, preterm infants can survive outside the womb under proper medical care. And as it is so much easier to observe and interact with a preterm baby than with a fetus of the same gestational age in the womb, the fetus is often considered to be like a preterm baby, like an unborn newborn. But this notion disregards the unique uterine environment: suspended in a warm and dark cave, connected to the placenta that pumps blood, nutrients and hormones into its growing body and brain, the fetus is asleep.
As far as EPHN would be concerned the first principle wouldn’t be life. The first principle is speech. Speech defines us to each other and to ourselves. In some far-off future it’s easy to imagine that human life as we know it might not even be a requirement. Allowing for the granting of legal rights not only to qualifying AI but limited rights to higher level mammals capable of communicating. Speech defines who we are and what we know.
Without life there is no behavior. Without behavior there aren’t any patterns to be analyzed. There cannot be rights or Emergent Principles of Human Nature if there isn’t human life. This problem is far more difficult to tease apart than any of the various ideologies crafted to grapple with it actually take into account. The many failings of the human animal listed in previous articles on the subject of EPHN all impact this problem. Perception is largely credited by the observer as being reality and yet perception is at best subjective or anecdotal.
Part of our mental dealings with the world around us involves assigning agency, purpose, to the things we interact with. This process is all but unavoidable. The term for this process is Anthropomorphism. Try interacting with your pets without crediting them with human emotion, human motivation. The weather is frequently imbued with agency, as if the air currents that crash into each other actually think about dumping water in one place and not another. If you stub your toe on a rock, you are likely to blame the rock for existing in that location rather than admit your own clumsiness, your gaps in perception that allowed the collision in the first place.
All manner of events in life are credited with consciousness, with agency, completely in error. Why would it be surprising then for someone to assign agency to a form, specifically the human form? Believers of various stripes credit their religious statues with agency. What is clearly a construct of stone or metal can be said, even by non-believers, to project emotion. Art by its own definition should make you feel emotion, or it isn’t art in the judgement of the individual. But the emotion comes from within the observer, not from within the object. The statues are not happy or sad, joyous or vengeful, they evoke the emotion in the observer; they are crafted that way by human hands specifically in the hopes of garnering that emotional response.
Statues do not shed tears, do not bleed. Test after test reveals that contrary claims by the religious are baseless and there are many of these kinds of claims. Statues are constructs, devoid of agency, unlike a biological human form. What then of the form that does bleed or shed tears, is that human life? Not necessarily. Form is just the physical component of human life. Are amputees less human because their forms are not perfect? Are ugly people less human than pretty people? Of course not. There is something else, something in addition to the form which imbues the form with that thing we deem human life.
That elusive thing is consciousness. It is so elusive that we’ve only recently been able to detect its presence. We’ve only recently been able to attempt to describe what it is. It is there when you are awake and to some limited extent it is even present while you are sleeping, and it is gone when the body ceases to function normally. Without consciousness you are not you and I am not me. Consciousness defines human life and human principles, and without consciousness no concepts or conceptualizations are possible.
Consciousness coupled to memory, embedded in a recognizably human physical form capable of fulfilling the requirements for maintaining life. That is what creates the possibility for human behavior to occur, to be studied for patterns which can yield an understanding of the underlying principles that govern human interactions. Consciousness is the defining characteristic of human life, it is what makes everything else that we do possible. Life itself is not the basis of rights or principles, consciousness is. Speech is how we express what our consciousness perceives, which is why speech is the first Emergent Principle. Without speech we are even less than the other animals. Without the ability to speak our minds, we are not free in any real sense of the word.
Judging by the degree of those women’s intensity, I would say that it is an issue of self-esteem and that their fear is metaphysical. Their hatred is directed against human beings as such, against the mind, against reason, against ambition, against success, against love, against any value that brings happiness to human life. In compliance with the dishonesty that dominates today’s intellectual field, they call themselves “pro-life.”