Demonization

The headline screamed:

The Pagan roots of Democrats’ Abortion Extremism

Democrats, including President Biden, are quickly moving toward the extreme position that a woman alone can, in consultation with her doctor, make any decision at any time on abortion.

thehill.com

…and then the article behind the headline went on to equate Roman infanticide with modern medical abortion practices. Went on to equate the Jewish tradition of life beginning with the first breath with the Christianist demand that we treat every fertilized egg as equivalent to a fully grown human being. Worse than equating apples and oranges, this is more like equating fruit and fish.

These delusional people simply cannot grasp the fact that there is no good reason to believe that a clump of cells inside another person is itself a person that is more important than the person it is inside of.

Rather than being an extreme belief any other opinion aside from deciding for herself on a woman’s right choose represents the denial to women of the same rights that men possess. It really is that simple. If women are people equal to men, abortion is their choice to make.

If there are other, greater, concerns that should take precedence over the woman’s rights, it falls to the believer to prove that these concerns actually exist. Every attempt to prove that these concerns are real have historically failed.

Which is why Alito was forced to fall back on his false history of abortion always being illegal as a basis for overturning Roe. Make no mistake here, Alito lied throughout that opinion. Nearly every conclusion he reaches is false because it is based on that lie.

Women, through the tireless work of midwives down through the centuries, have managed the knotty problem of unwanted pregnancy all on their own. That is the real tradition here, not the illegality of abortion (or the delusion of Roman infanticide conducted by the men of their time being the same as abortion, the laughable comparison made in the Hill opinion piece. -ed.)

The extreme position is the one that Christianists have forced on American women with the reversal of Roe. Women will continue to do what they have always done; decide for themselves whether they will have a child or not. The extremity will be measured in how many women’s lives will be lost because of the delusional beliefs about life in the uterus.

If this opinion makes me a pagan then your definition of pagan is as delusional as your definition of life is.

twitter

The author of that Hill opinion piece is accusing everyone who doesn’t think life begins at conception of murder. That is the unstated subtext of the article. This is demonization. The author is setting up the readers that agree with him to see their opponents as less than human. Is trying to make it easier to kill US when the violent insurrection that they are fomenting comes into being. This isn’t about the sacredness of human life, this is about the rightness of their beliefs and their willingness to kill for them.


No, if we truly value LIFE, if we truly believe it to be SACRED, then before it even begins we as a people and as a nation must bend every effort to ensure not only its survival, but that it thrives to reach its full potential.

Twitter – Stonekettle
Postscript

I observed that “the dog didn’t want to catch the car” in A Vaginal Dred Scott, noting that overturning Roe was going to cost the Republican party dearly in coming elections. This has proven to be truer than the equally observable fact that Donald Trump is a loser as a businessman, a politician and a television star. Trump actually picked a few winners in key races to endorse in the 2022 midterms, even as it became clear in the election returns that election deniers were almost universally being rejected.

Trump and his big lie are out of favor; but the more vividly illustrated truth of the election was that women want the right to determine their own futures independent of government supervision. Abortion will be made available again across the expanse of the United States. That was the result that was clearly illustrated in states where abortion was on the ballot. This battle will cost lives; but it will be won by women, eventually.

Amicus – Why are we Still Obsessed with Roe v Wade? – DEC 31, 2022

The Roe in our culture is not the Roe of 1973 Supreme Court decision or the 1992 Supreme Court decision. So if the Supreme Court is telling you, “Hey, guys, this is over, you can go home now, we’re not going to talk about abortion in the Constitution anymore.” History tells us that that’s not going to work.

Mary Ziegler

Roe: The History of a National Obsession by Mary Ziegler

A Vaginal Dred Scott

The change in public opinion and feeling in relation to the African race which has taken place since the adoption of the Constitution cannot change its construction and meaning, and it must be construed and administered now according to its true meaning and intention when it was formed and adopted.

Dred Scott v. Sandfordsupreme.justia.com

Women were never seen as full, responsible citizens of the United States. They weren’t allowed to vote even after the results of the Civil War and the changes to the Constitution that invalidated the Dred Scott decision. Black men could vote, black women could not. No women could vote until the passage of the 19th amendment on August 18, 1920. Even today women are still seen as suspect, as not really capable of making informed decisions about their own bodies and their own futures. To this day there is no part of the Constitution that guarantees equality before the law to women.

This started to change after 1920. With the right to vote, women became almost full citizens. They were allowed to own property as early as 1848, seventy-two years before they were trusted with voting rights. In the 1960s women gained the right to open a bank account. They could vote forty years before they were trusted to handle their own finances at the bank.

There was one thing women have always been trusted with though, and that was the birthing and raising of children. Getting pregnant and producing the next generation of human beings was the only thing that was gladly left to them; the children and all the housework that came along with raising them.

Midwives and doulas were women, and they were the experts that were brought in to deal with births and the prevention of unwanted births, prior to the invention of modern medicine and the creation of the AMA. There wasn’t a thing called abortion before that point. They referred to it as restoring the menses, the return of the monthly bleeding that comes along with being a female of the human species.

Throughline – Before Roe: The Physicians’ Crusade – May 19, 2022

There were no laws in place to prevent abortions before quickening prior to the physician’s crusade lead by that one man, Horatio Storer. Because he wanted to push midwives out of the birthing room, to take away from women the one thing they had been entrusted to do throughout human history, he started the chain of events that has lead us down the long, winding road to where we are today. Had he not started his crusade against abortion practiced by anyone other than AMA doctors, none of the events we have witnessed in our lifetimes would have played out the way they have. He lit the fire of the pro-life movement that took over evangelical America.

Throughline – After Roe: A New Battlefield – June 16, 2022

The belief that separate and equal life begins inside a woman’s body and not once a baby is born may be the way that anti-abortionists frame their arguments, but their arguments amount to a denial of female equality no matter how you frame it. Forcing someone to do something with their body that is contrary to their will is involuntary servitude, especially when that something permanently alters the body in question and can last anywhere from a year to the rest of their lives. Slavery of the kind practiced after slavery was outlawed.

This kind of enslavement is worse than the chattel slavery that is practiced out in the open, is acknowledged and can be targeted for what it is. This type of immoral usage is a fraud, a trick at the expense of the other who is powerless to stop you from abusing them, hamstrung by the unequal laws that constrain them. If men, the law-creators, carried children then motherhood would be one of the most well-funded endeavors in human creation. On reflection, that is probably how it should be funded.

Forcing women to birth children that they don’t think of as people is dangerous to society itself. Children are not punishment and we cannot afford to treat them as punishment, nor can we justify the taking of them from their families as providing children for the adoption mills; institutions that were founded for racist and genocidal reasons in the distant past. Adoption mills that the newest Justice on the SCOTUS bench have profited from more than once.

Denying women legal equality was the platform on which the Moral Majority and the modern American conservative movement were founded. The antics of people like Phyllis Schlafly, Jerry Falwell and many, many others were the broadsides unleashed on the women’s rights movement, a movement that was set to establish women’s rights in the United States Constitution for the very first time.

The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was the instrument that they used to whip their followers into line with in the late 70’s. This is an almost forgotten historical fact these days, but the ERA was what got them off their pews and into State Houses agitating for an end to women’s liberation. The ERA was the motivator, the last straw, but it was the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) Roe v. Wade decision that lit their hair on fire to start with.

I have never understood why it is that Roe triggered them in this fashion. Abortion has always existed, even if we didn’t call it that. Roe was a perfectly acceptable compromise that took both sides into account. It would have been preferable if the legislatures of the various states and the federal government had cared enough for women’s health to do the right thing and make the procedure legal and available for poor women who didn’t want to have more children they couldn’t feed, but then being thoughtful and humane to those we exploit under capitalism isn’t the kind of behavior that comes naturally.

I distinctly remember accompanying my mother to a Planned Parenthood center in Dallas as a teenager in the late 70’s. We had to travel there from our hometown in Sweetwater because abortion services weren’t a thing you could find out in the hinterlands of Texas. You had to go into the cities for those types of services; and you didn’t tell anyone that’s what you were going there for if you did go there. So we made a side trip to Six Flags on that journey as a cover story, but we also went there to get someone an abortion.

That wasn’t the only time I went to a women’s health clinic for services like abortion. There were girlfriends and acquaintances that needed help, help that I was happy to assist them in getting. The Planned Parenthood center in San Angelo didn’t perform abortions but did conduct screenings for disease and provided access to contraception. Contraception, another bugaboo of the Moral Majority, one that they would prefer we didn’t notice they had a problem with.

Healthcare is Not a Popularity Contest

Roe wasn’t even the best vehicle that could have been presented as the case that would have secured equality, bodily autonomy, for women. The Notorious RBG thought that a different case should have been advanced:

On the Media – Instead of Roe: The Case that Could Have Defined Abortion Law – June 24, 2022

Who can say what a different case with a different, less medically obsessed, decision would have done for the cause of women in the United States.

As the morality laws across the country started to fall one by one. From interracial marriage to contraception and onwards, the Christianists watched from the sidelines and fumed as their religious beliefs enshrined into law were struck down, and they demonstrably grew more agitated as the country became more and more secular. Until Roe. Until it became clear that the country wasn’t going to adhere to their christian beliefs until they stepped forward and made their beliefs the basis for party loyalty.

…and so was born the Moral Majority, with the ERA as their first target. They were the force that got Ronald Reagan the Republican nomination and then the presidency. With that success under their belt, they then worked to infiltrate every bit of government that they could, altering the course of the American experiment with their meddling. With their need to see America be Christian first and foremost.

I really thought they’d never reverse Roe. They’d never be that stupid, that incapable of understanding what it was that Roe was part of. Incapable of understanding the intrusions into their own lives that reversing Roe would make possible. But the leaked Alito opinion proved how wrong I was. I had to finally admit that they did plan to reverse it and that they are every bit as stupid as I first thought they couldn’t be.

It’s quite possible that Alito leaked the draft opinion himself in an attempt to keep Robert’s watered down Dobbs opinion from gaining traction in the court. We may never know the facts of it. What can be said is that both the draft opinion and the SCOTUS Alito-authored decision are blatantly unconstitutional documents.

It seems weird to write those words about a SCOTUS decision, a SCOTUS that is supposed to be the maintainer of Constitutional law. However, Alito’s arguments completely ignore the ninth and tenth amendments to the Constitution and sets their intent aside in favor of conservative ideology.

We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely – the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. That provision has been held to guarantee some rights that are not mentioned in the Constitution, but any such right must be “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition” and “implicit in the concept of ordered liberty.” Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U. S. 702, 721 (1997) (internal quotation marks omitted)

PoliticoText of initial draft, supremecourt.gov

Unenumerated rights are guaranteed under the Ninth amendment and the due process clause in the fourteenth is just the stick on which the unenumerated rights have been measured by the SCOTUS. Justice Alito focuses on the due process clause without answering the question of why the due process clause applies at all. A right to an abortion need not be mentioned anywhere or indeed required to meet the high bar that Alito sets in his decision because the Ninth amendment makes no requirements on what an unenumerated right is. It is the SCOTUS that applies this false rule.

Justice Alito handwaves several times about personhood in his decision but he never does justify his legal opinion on the subject of abortion in anything substantial. He can’t do this because there is no person present inside the person of the mother, no matter how hard you squint at the problem. There is no soul, no functioning brain and insufficient oxygen to make the brain function even if it is developed enough to function in the final weeks of pregnancy. There is no proof of the existence of the soul and so he can’t argue ensoulment at conception as his basis for rejecting abortion as a legitimate medical procedure, and there certainly isn’t a person present at conception if there is no soul present.

Nor is it really a right to an abortion that most women seek but rather the right to the same kind of medical care that is provided to men. Medical care that includes treatment of all of their internal organs as if they are just like the internal organs of a man. This treatment would necessarily include abortion when she and her attending physician, doula or midwife deemed it necessary. That’s it. No refereeing by the government on any level. Her body, her choice.

The decision in the Dobbs case is nothing more than conservative ideology and it contains no legal or historical merit of its own aside from the fact that its author sits on the SCOTUS and is empowered to make these kinds of decisions for all of us. Sits on a court hand-crafted by Donald Trump and the Federalist Society to do what this opinion does, stop abortion from being performed in states that don’t want to grant bodily autonomy to women. The Moral Majority has finally gotten exactly what it asked for. I doubt they will enjoy having it as much as they thought they would.

The Dog Only Thinks He Wants to Catch the Car

This is hardly the first time this kind of ideological judicial activism has been performed, either. Casey was itself a meddling in the judgement of Roe, an attempt to loosen the rules so that the states that wanted to restrict abortion into the second trimester of a pregnancy could do so. This rigged SCOTUS has also neutered the Establishment Clause with the Carson v. Makin decision, clearing the way for governments to promote whatever religion they like by supporting them with tax generated funds. They have endorsed public prayer in schools in yet another reversal of established law. It seems that conservatives are completely okay with judicial activism if the judges do things that they agree with.

Amicus – Just Doing the Job They Were Put on the Court to Do – JUNE 25, 2022

Clarence Thomas has stated the goals of the conservative majority on the court quite clearly. If they are going to be ideologically consistent, then all the decisions he mentions in his concurring opinion in Dobbs (Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell) also must fall. Whether they will get to tell us which orifices we can have sex with, whether we can use contraception while having sex or marry the same-sex partner of our choice is uncertain, but we should definitely not assume they won’t try and come for those previously established rights. What about wet dreams, Justice Thomas? Can I still enjoy my wet dreams?

Chief Justice Roberts wanted to head off the blatant declaration that Alito penned on the subject of abortion, that much is clear. The court bears his name as Chief Justice and consequently he is obsessed with trying to maintain the court as a relevant fixture in the US Government and not have it relegated to the backwater it was at the time of the founding. Perhaps he and his conservative cronies should have thought about the possibility of the Court becoming a tool of religious zealots before they pimped themselves out to the religious right in 1979. It’s a little late to worry about the Court’s reputation now.

This court has shown its true allegiance. Its allegiance isn’t to the Constitution that they swore an oath to uphold, it is to their own Christianist ideology, and nothing will sway them from their path. They are as certain of their moral superiority as the Taney court was certain of theirs when they authored the Dred Scott decision.

What a difference five years makes. In 2017, I feared that the court was ‘lead[ing] us … to a place where separation of church and state is a constitutional slogan, not a constitutional commitment’.

Today, the court leads us to a place where separation of church and state becomes a constitutional violation. If a state cannot offer subsidies to its citizens without being required to fund religious exercise, any state that values its historic antiestablishment interests more than this court does will have to curtail the support it offers to its citizens.

Sonya Sotomayor dissent from Carson v. Makin  (Amicus)

Just like Dred Scott and any other American with black skin was back in 1857, women have been remanded back into the custody of the men that they have sex with, or are raped by, to be their property once more. That is the effect of making it impossibly expensive to raise children on the one hand, providing no safety net for those women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant; and forcing those same women to take years out of their lives to raise the children that they didn’t want, weren’t planning on and have no established support system to lean on. They will turn to the people who put them in this position and be forced to rely on them indefinitely.

It’s worse than that even. No one ever talks about ectopic pregnancies. No one wants to talk about anencephaly or other equally tragic birth defects that aren’t found until the third trimester.

Those women will also need to get abortions or face trauma or possible death from the pregnancy. An abortion is far safer than giving birth, even in the most advanced country on the planet, which isn’t the United States anymore. It also isn’t murder or whatever else you might believe about it based on things you have heard. Abortion is a medical procedure, a chemical result, as natural a course of events as a successful live birth is. We occasionally still call it a miscarriage, but that’s just an abortion by a different name. In the case of chemical abortions, its probably the same cause as a miscarriage. How do you plan to investigate that and tell the difference between the two?

Women Will Die

With this decision by Justice Alito and his fellow conservative SCOTUS conspirators, women are reduced once again to being baby-making machines. They are a walking uterus, worth nothing if they cannot produce viable children. They might as well be axolotl tanks, machines that do nothing but turn out new people. Machines without brains, without desires, without thought. They are slaves, just as black people were once slaves. Slaves to their biological processes.

Short Wave – The Turnaway Study: What The Research Says About Abortion – May 9, 2022

Being unable to have children is the only way to be free in this society. To be a natural, normal human being is to be a slave if you are a woman. This status will eventually be transferred to the men who get them pregnant, too. I talk about the consequences of reversing Roe at length in the linked article on the subject here and above.

MeidasTouchGOP Handmaid’s Tale: SCOTUS Overturns Roe v. Wade – May 2, 2022

John Cornyn said the quiet part out loud when he suggested that Brown v. Board needs to be targeted next. It’s not about his personal racism when he says this, not directly anyway. It’s about using racial inequality to make us all pay for unwanted pregnancies since it can be shown that there are unequal medical outcomes that will be made worse by striking down Roe.

Learn ConLaw – After Dobbs – 06.28.22

The cost that the Dobbs decision will inflict on poor women will be almost incalculable. I brushed over several obvious costs and curtailments of rights that women will experience in both of my articles that I’ve linked other places in this article. I see no reason to go through the list of bad outcomes that I’ve already produced there save this one thing; miscarriages happen. Miscarriages happen frequently (about a third of pregnancies) Will we prosecute these unfortunate women like murderers? If history is any judge, we will.

(Criminal Prosecution Of Pregnancy Loss Expected To Increase Post-Roe)

After they’ve strapped these poor women down and successfully forced them to have children, someone is going to have to pay those costs. Absentee fathers will be targeted first. This is not news to poor fathers whose wages have been garnished for quite some time for this purpose. They will be further demonized in the coming years, with calls for punishment that I don’t even want to think about, much less try to predict.

The taxes on everyone will have to be raised eventually, even if rulings like Brown v. Board are reversed. Raised to help fund the increased burden that the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of unwanted children will create. Children and then adults that will swamp most of the red states in the country. The cost of schooling or the cost of prison. The cost of food and shelter or the cost of healthcare. Red states that will deny to their last breath that this economic crisis, this glut of uneducated, unwanted people was caused by their delusions about abortion and the sanctity 0f life and they will look to the Blue states to save their asses one more time.

The Things You Own End Up Owning You

All of this might have been avoided, some of it could still be avoided. Laws should be based not on ideology but on best principles objectively proven through trial and error. Bronze-aged morality does not work when coupled with instantaneous communication across the entire world and world-wide next-day shipping.

The circumventing of state-maintained abortion laws is already taking place. This creates black markets in drugs and medical procedures which are essential, black markets defended by people who normally would never think about breaking a law. The destruction of the rule of law follows on the heels of the average person’s willingness to simply look the other way in order to save a loved one’s life or future. You thought the drug war was expensive? Get ready for a drug war 5 to 50 times more expensive depending on how seriously you want to take this sanctity of life thing.

In order to stop this erosion of trust in the law it is essential that we take back control of our government from these ideologues who have taken the power in our absence. We have sat too long behind the Roe decision and congratulated ourselves too early on our enlightened society. The barbarians are well beyond the gates now because they are in control of the Senate, the SCOTUS and most of the States.

We the People can fix this, if we understand the priorities that must come next. Go to your local party precinct meetings. Let them know you are there to help. Get out, canvas your neighborhood, and vote. Vote to throw out Republicans and anti-choice, misogynist leaders of every stripe (yes I’m looking at you Joe Manchin) more importantly, let your representatives know your mind about what they are expected to do as your representative in the State House and in Washington D.C.

The ERA has been approved by enough states now. It needs to be confirmed as having been ratified, and it needs to be encoded into US law immediately. The ERA may not be enough to fix this problem all on its own, but it will be a start. Restart and expand the child tax credit immediately. These funds will go directly to where the problems will appear first, families with dependent children. Children they weren’t planning on having but now will be forced to have. Get the government out of the process of determining health outcomes for individuals. Just like the law everywhere else should be, objectively determined best practices should be what occurs in medical clinics unless the individual insists on being treated differently.

Then there is the Supreme Court of the United States. The court has been treated as a final authority on Constitutional law since Marbury v. Madison in 1803, but there is no basis for the court being treated this way written into the constitution itself. That is the precise belief that Roberts hoped to preserve, that the court has any say over what can be enforced as law in the United States. We may not be able to change the way the court is used by the people who are there already, but there is nothing that says we can’t make the court as big as we want it to be. Twenty, thirty, even fifty justices, whatever the number is that we decide is enough to make sure that the views of the American people are part of the deliberations of the Court itself. Large enough to make sure that a tiny group of judicial activists can’t just decided to change a half century of established jurisprudence in the blink of an eye with one flawed ideologically driven decision.

The last time that unconstitutional, unpopular, far-reaching opinions like Dobbs were handed down by the court, the Civil War broke out. We are about to enter those turbulent waters for a second time, driven there by the same backwards mindset that gave us the Dred Scott decision in 1857. No matter what the SCOTUS says, women will demand their independence. They will fight for it and they will die for it as well as die from the lack of it.

We envision a world where every reproductive decision, including abortion, takes place in thriving communities that are safe, peaceful, and affordable. We envision a world where all people have the power and resources to care for and affirm their bodies, identities, and health for themselves and their families—in all areas of their lives. As we shift the conversation about abortion, it will become a real option, accessible without shame or judgment.

abortionfunds.org

Featured image screencapped from: nwlocalpaper.com/our-summer-of-rage

Postscript

July 3 – The original text of this article contained several hasty legal arguments that I have since excised, and I have expanded on some other thoughts as well. I apologize for the misinformation that I might have passed on earlier. I also added in the Meidas Touch ad.

The Unlamented Death of Reaganism

Last night the first public hearing of the 1/6 House Select Committee was live across most of the internet and cable entertainment services in the United States. They’ve been working quietly in the background since that day, the day we almost lost our republic to insurrectionists at the instigation of then President Donald Trump.

Quietly investigating the events that lead directly to the second impeachment of Donald Trump in an attempt to uncover exactly how we got to the point where the supporters of the President could attack the Legislature of the United States while screaming for the death of the Vice President because of his required role in certifying the Presidency of Joe Biden.

The election had been held. The votes had been counted, the lawsuits dismissed, the lies about the election exposed. There was nothing left to do but rubberstamp the certified results in the traditional manner before handing the administration of the United States government over to the next President. An event that has occurred more than 40 times since the creation of this country back in 1776.

But not this time. No, this time the President wasn’t going to allow his own defeat to be recorded. Not that he wasn’t defeated, that had already been determined democratically and judicially. He wasn’t going to allow the defeat to be recorded officially so as to turn defeat into… what? It couldn’t be victory because there wouldn’t be a United States after he retained power in defiance of the rules and of the votes of 81,282,916 people. So what did he hope to achieve beyond the destruction of the norms that had governed the lives of Americans since March 4, 1797 when the first president of the United States voluntarily surrendered the office?

It is ironical that these events mark the logical end of Reaganism. Reaganism that was re-invented into neo-liberalism and then rebranded into compassionate conservatism and finally zombified in the form of the prosperity gospel and Trumpismo. Reaganism kept animated by the dedicated effort of Roger Ailes’ FOX news and political activists determined to see Reagan’s grand compromise with Evangelicals and their joint takeover of the Republican party brought to its ultimate… victory?

Trump rode into office mouthing phrases utilized by Reagan. He promoted the ideals of Reagan, whether or not he lived up to those ideals of wealth and morality. He delivered on his and Reagan’s promises to the Evangelicals who backed both of them, creating a Supreme Court that was pre-rigged to overturn Roe v. Wade, the cornerstone of hatred that modern Evangelical America was founded on.

With FOX news and Rush Limbaugh smoothing over every excess of Trump’s criminal reign for four years. With the apologetics of Christianists well versed in twisting ancient texts to suit modern agendas. Through two impeachments. With the transparent puppeteering of Trump by Vladimir Putin ignored. With Trump’s love affair with Putin’s strongman tactics. It all came to the only end that could possibly have been in store for it given his complete inability to have a private thought unexpressed. What end? The near-destruction of the United States as we have all known it, before he was finally forced out of office.

…Of course the Republicans who profited from Trump’s reign refused to acknowledge the damage that had been done. Of course FOX news doesn’t admit that there was anything wrong with the Presidency of Donald Trump and instead spends every single moment of its air time deriding the performance of the sitting President.

That would be Joe Biden, for those who are still in denial out there. Joe Biden, the second coming of Barack Obama.

Make no mistake, this is what Republicans hate most about Joe Biden. That he represents the triumph of a black man who successfully ran the country for eight years, and was the only President since LBJ to reverse the decline of the fortunes of the American people. Reverse the decline through a single act of legislation that he guided through a nearly comatose Senate.

So FOX news talks endlessly about the flagging economy that none of their vaunted heroes have ever been able to fix, let alone understand; leaving out the part where Joe Biden orchestrated the ending of the COVID pandemic, the cause of the economic woes, through the rollout of vaccines that Donald Trump couldn’t get delivered and that his supporters still won’t take.

FOX news talks about the ignoble ending of the Afghanistan war, blaming it on Joe Biden when it was their golden boy, Donald Trump, who set us on the course to be kicked out of Afghanistan by the Taliban that we had defeated twenty years earlier. If there is a stain on America then they put it there by first electing the guy who restarted American imperialism, Ronald Reagan, and then continued to agitate for a more expansive American agenda for more than forty years in the face of changing climates, vanishing resources and more militant opposition in those places that we took our resources from.

FOX and the American conservatism that it gives voice to have pushed us all to the edge of destruction. No matter how you slice and dice the evidence this is the only conclusion that can be drawn, which is why they have all decided that the evidence is the problem and must therefore be ignored.

If FOX and American conservatism are to be believed, then the 1/6 investigation is a witch hunt that has found actual witches. For the first time in history. They won’t talk about the Committee’s findings, only that the Committee shouldn’t exist and that the Republicans who sacrificed their careers to see the investigation carried out should be drummed out of office. The findings are real though, despite the denials. The facts speak for themselves; which is a good thing, considering the climate.

Fox News’ choice to NOT cover the January 6th Committee hearings is the first ethical decision they’ve ever demonstrated.

Given that they’re seditious coconspirators, it would be a conflict of interest.

facebook/Stonekettle

Who has cable anymore? A show of hands? Exactly. FOX news may be the most popular news channel on American cable systems, but almost no one watches cable news anymore. Most of us get our news from (shudder) the internet. What FOX is, what MSNBC and CNN are, are dinosaurs. They are the vestiges of a once powerful opinion manufacturing machine that has largely gone to dust.

They long for the good old days when they could change history with their influence. Now they are transparently what they always have been, political reflection machines that serve only to ramp up the beliefs of the minority of the population who still watch them.

PBS News HourFull January 6th Hearings (Playlist)C-SPAN (YouTube Playlist)

I watched the hearings on YouTube like most people did. It’s true that the feed was NBC’s, and even older dinosaur than MSNBC, but what I saw is what anyone who watched saw, the opening salvo of a months-long series of hearings that will lay out the coup attempt by Trump and his co-conspirators, facts that those of us who pay attention to politics already know the gist of.

What FOX will be doing is trying to hold the attention of their viewers, not just for hours or days but for months, desperate to distract their viewers from the truth airing everywhere outside the conservosphere. MSNBC will simply be embroidering on the facts revealed in the hearings. CNN will reduce the facts to easily digestible chunks so that even the unwilling will have to concede to their existence. Which of these jobs would you rather have?

The results of all of this redundantly expensive noise will be determined outside of the reach of any one political entity; which is the way it should be. The one true thing that Vice President Mike Pence will probably ever say in his lifetime, a thought repeated in the 1/6 evidence on that first night of public hearings, bears repeating here:

There is no idea more unAmerican than the notion that any one person could choose the American President.

twitter/Mike Pence

…and by extrapolation, what the will of the population is should not be the decision of one man or even one political entity but should be readily established by the voices of the people themselves, directly. Eighty million people voted for Joe Biden, therefore Joe Biden should be President not Donald Trump.

Donald Trump still can’t accept this fact almost two years later and is still trying to enact a coup to have himself re-instated as President, as if that is even a thing that can be done. FOX is happy to beat the drum in support of Donald Trump; thereby signing its own death warrant, which is the punishment for treason.

Sedition. Treason. Easy words to say, hard accusations to prove.

He doesn’t mean talking in front of the committee when he asks for equal time. There is an open invitation for him to come to the committee and testify out there right now. The Chair of the committee extended this invitation from the beginning of the investigation. All Donald Trump has to do to be allowed to speak is comply with the requirements of the law. First he has to submit documentation for review, and he doesn’t have documentation on anything. Then he’d have to show up and not lie about established facts, a thing he doesn’t know how to do.

As his fan club has protested for years, requiring him to testify under oath is entrapment; except I don’t think they understand what this objection means. What they are saying is that he is not sane. If he was sane he could and world stop lying about established facts. His supporters know this when they say the word entrapment. If he was sane he would be able to stop himself from lying. He can’t, and so he isn’t.

Trump’s lying in front of the panel is exactly what is needed right now. Having him appear and face judgement would be the best for everyone concerned. If he could be made to appear and accept responsibility and our judgement. That is the crucial point of this juncture in time. Can he and his followers be made to accept responsibility for their actions and our judgement of them?

If we could compel him to appear he would do one of two things. He would transparently lie just as he always has and then dare us to act against him, the former President, in full view of his supporters. His supporters who will then probably start another insurrection. At least it would be in the open then.

Either he would lie or he would do the thing that all his betters do. He would plead the fifth just as he has done in past depositions (otherwise known as the “I can’t recall” defense) and that would leave us right where we are now. The place we don’t want to be. But we would still have the evidence of his evasion under questioning. This is why he blusters for equal time but will not avail himself of the opportunity to sit before the committee.

He doesn’t want to sit before the committee, he wants to run the committee. He wants a committee of his own. This potentiality is not as farfetched as most people might think. He could have his own committee if Republicans take the House and appoint him Speaker after the midterms. Anyone can be made Speaker of the House, although traditionally only sitting members have been appointed to this job. Think about that for a few minutes. Speaker Donald Trump. Have a puke bucket handy before you do.

I prefer not to think of the bastard at all. This was an easy thing to do before half the nation became members of his personality cult. All of this behavior around him is not what sanity looks like. It’s not just him, it’s his followers and others too. It started before him and it will continue after him. It may be the death of the human race if we don’t find a way to defeat it.

Climate change denial. Gun violence. Antivax. Trumpismo. All of these groups have the same thing in common, denial of the facts in evidence. Denial of the facts despite the rising levels of certainty stacked against this denial. Now either we figure out a way around this blockade so that the things needing doing get done, or we all die. We all die through climate disaster or nuclear holocaust or maybe even both simultaneously.

Wouldn’t that be fun?

You say you know he knows? That his lies are conscious? That all of this crap we’ve been through for six years was his idea of of a money making scheme? It’s possible, maybe even probable. We can’t say what he knows, despite what most people think. We can say what the facts are, and we can say that he was informed. We can’t say that he knows or that anyone similarly afflicted with this kind of dysphoria (?) knows. What we can say is that it is common and that a significant portion of the population can be influenced by others who have it. That people who are afflicted should not be trusted in positions of authority for the very reasons being laid out before us by the January 6th Committee today.

He was informed of the known facts and refused to accept them. Call it megalomania, call it willful ignorance. Call it Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Call it whatever you like but it still means he’s not sane and cannot be trusted to do anything of importance at any time after this. He needs keepers not access to the nuclear codes. He and his followers.

This is about much more than his freedom or our need to see Donald Trump punished. This is about all of our futures. I’ll happily call him nuts and fit him and his lunatic followers into straightjackets if that would get us past this crisis that we’ve been stuck on and in for most of my life. I doubt that will address the problem though.

facebook

the era of big government is over

Bill Clinton, 1996 State of the Union Address

Two years into his first term as President, Bill Clinton announced his endorsement of Reaganism and the birth of his version of neoliberalism. His time in office saw the destruction of the public sphere that started under Reagan continue unabated through his two terms and through the two terms of George W. Bush, along with a heightened reliance on military strength as our way of demonstrating our will to the world’s people and governments.

The deregulation of industry. The abandonment of the poor and infirm. The triumph of greed. All of these trends have continued unabated since the day that Ronald Reagan won the White House and imposed his vision of America on us and the rest of the world. They have continued and now brought us to this crisis point in our civilization.

The environment is changing before our very eyes. The seas rise, the land sinks. Crops die in the field from intemperate weather and wars break out across the globe as the populations of the various nations realize that their governments do not care if they starve to death or not. Their caring may not even be the problem since there may not be enough food to feed everyone in the very near future. Is this the end? Only we can decide that.

Make no mistake though, Reagan is as much a product of the corporation’s desire to avoid paying for the impending climate disaster that they helped to create as he was a creation of the Christianists of the Religious Right who wanted to inflict their religion on the rest of us; and all of them are to blame for creating the environment that people like Donald Trump thrive in. They made his kind of lawless greed possible. They are to blame for all of this.

History will record that FOX died the same death as the Reagan Republicanism it was founded to promote. It was never more than an organ of that political movement and so will not survive its ultimate demise. A death that has been a long time coming but that we are watching play out around us right now.

What will replace Reagan Republicanism will be determined by those people who act on the politics of this moment whether they follow the news or not; and the truth of Trump’s crimes are there for anyone with the eyes to see them. All they have to do is open their eyes and look. So is the inflation brought on by a reigniting economy. So is the lingering pandemic. So is the war in Ukraine. So is the climate crisis that possibly has a hand in bringing all of these things to a head at the same time. What one thing will voters take to the polls in November to decide the next course this country will head on? Will it be just one thing?

We are barreling towards the November midterm election as I type this. Donald Trump and the Democrats who are trying to prosecute him want the election to be about Trump. The environmentalists want it to be about climate. The talking heads on FOX news want it to be about the economy. No one wants to think about the pandemic or the war, but they are out there influencing opinions anyway.

If you are blind enough to believe that Republicans ne Conservatives have answers for anything that the future might bring after everything we’ve been through over the last four if not forty years, then you’ll vote for Republicans and get violent when your side loses again. The rest of us will stick with the only sane group out there, moderate Democrats. How long can the center hold though? Hopefully long enough to see the next political philosophy rise, one that isn’t yet another zombified version of Reagan Republicanism.

Featured image of Ronald Reagan and Roger Ailes found here: highlandscurrent.org

Postscript

As I sit here watching the eighth Committee hearing on the January 6th, 2021 insurrection, I think to myself “I’d happily vote for Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger.” Unfortunately none of the Republicans who represent Texas are any more sane than their traitorous President is. Not either of the Texas Senators. Not the Governor, Lt. Governor or Attorney General. All of them are either traitors along with their President, or they are as insane as the former President. I look forward to the inquest where we determine which one of those facts are true.

Reaganism is dead, despite the best efforts of FOX News and Republicans who think they know who Reagan was and what he stood for. Reagan himself would decry their actions on January 6th, 2021, even though the perpetrators thought that they were acting to preserve Reagan’s shining city on a hill when they attacked the Capitol.

The people who talk about all the good that Donald Trump did as President, even as they detail his criminal acts in the White House, must be referring to the one legislative act that he succeeded at getting passed; tax cuts for the wealthy that mirrored Reagan’s signature achievement. Or maybe they refer to Donald Trump declaring foreign enemies in China and the Middle East, just like Reagan did with the USSR. Or perhaps it’s the fact that Donald Trump let a pandemic run rampant through the population just like Ronald Reagan did with the AIDs pandemic. No matter how you slice it, Donald Trump was a mirror image of Ronald Reagan even if that image was seen through a mirror, darkly.

WITH Chris Hayes – Joe Biden and the End of Reaganomics with Felicia Wong -SEPTEMBER 20TH, 2022

We are well and truly rid of Reagan worship now. Let it be known forevermore as Trumpismo and let it all die with Trump’s last treasonous act, whether we have seen that last act already or if that final act of treason is still yet to come.

Newbs. Am I Right?

I was a little more annoyed with Reddit and r/atheism than I thought I was.

I don’t do TikTok. Or YouTube. Or Instagram, unless it’s pictures. I don’t do video and I don’t talk on camera. It’s a phobia that I’ve dealt with for decades.

I don’t find short videos interesting, I find them maddeningly abbreviated and too quickly replaced with another distracting thing that tries to make me laugh. So I was kind of surprised to be emotionally resonant with this TikTok persona:

tiktok.com/@iblamebill

If you force a religion on people, then they get to own it too. If you shove it down their throats, they get to write a review about the taste. Because that is the other side of the coin. You don’t get to go out and make disciples of the nations and then cry foul when you’ve made critics too.

I’m not attacking anyone else’s culture, I’m criticizing my own. This is my lane.

@iblamebill

I’m punching up when I attack christianity as well. I don’t do it very often because the harm I’ve experienced was small, but the potential harm for other people in this day and age is massive and tending towards growth.

Christianists are moving out and attempting to force their ideals onto the rest of society and the rest of the world and I am no more inclined to allow them to do this than I was inclined to allow Islamists to overrun the countryside in Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.

It was in this spirit that I wrote:

It was a reaction to Christianists insisting that “atheists deny god.” We deny god, so we are guilty of believing something about god. We don’t deny shit, we insist on proof; and there is no proof that the god of the Holy Bible exists. The rules that the universe obeys exclude that kind of power from existing.

I was kicked off of r/atheism for posting a link to that atheism article. I told them that I wouldn’t be impressed with the power of their authority unless I was permanently banned from the forum, and so they obliged me. Fuck authority. Fuck authority in the open market of ideas that is the internet.

In the moderator’s defense, there is a rule on r/atheism about posting links. I happen to disagree with Reddit’s sense of self importance on this issue, but the rule is there for me to read if I was inclined to kowtow to authority. Unfortunately for everyone involved, I don’t tend to kneel before power. Power of any kind.

Writers do not write for you, Reddit. Writers/creators should not write for any platform’s benefit, they should write/create for themselves. Had I been interested in observing Reddit’s war on bloggers I would have cut and pasted the 10k plus atheism article into as many 10k limited posts as it would have required to get the content in front of the members of r/atheism just to make the point. I wasn’t and so I didn’t.

I accept my punishment with pride, in the same way that I have accepted ridicule for telling believers that their God could not possibly exist because the universe doesn’t allow for wish granting sky-men. It is the principle of the thing that matters. My ideas live here not on Reddit, Facebook or Tiktok. If they want me and my ideas, they know where I am.

Facebook Featured image: everywhereist.com

These Ideas Can’t Be Fought

I have no patience for defeatism.

There are people who are saying, “I have been speaking up, it doesn’t make a difference.”

Bullshit.

You don’t know if it’s making a difference or not. No pebble ever understands the magnitude of the avalanche.

For decades, the reich-wingers have been shifting the Overton window (the window of normalization) to the right. We have to speak up to shift it back.

We have to speak up for standards of behavior, for intelligence, for rationality, for the weight of evidence, for transparency in government. We have to speak up for empathy and compassion and that the true purpose of government is to serve the people. We have to speak up and speak up and speak up —

Because silence is not only surrender, it is death.

facebook/david.gerrold
Continue reading “These Ideas Can’t Be Fought”

What Would Jesus Do?

Evangelical christians have been putting that bumper sticker on thier cars for years now. WWJD, What Would Jesus Do? As if they have exclusive access to the motivations and ethics that the semi-mythical founder of their religion would have espoused in any particular situation.

I sincerely doubt that they have that access; and the reason I doubt that they have that access is that so many of their leaders, including Donald Trump himself, clearly don’t know what Jesus would have done in any given situation.

Take the current pandemic. The evangelicals that make up the entirety of Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University have decided that they will ignore medical advice on the subject of the pandemic and return to business as usual. President Trump wants to curtail social distancing and declare that the United States is open for business right at the point where we might be getting an idea of just how big the problem we are facing is. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said,

No one reached out to me and said, ‘As a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that America loves for its children and grandchildren?’ And if that is the exchange, I’m all in.

Those of us who are 70 plus, we’ll take care of ourselves. But don’t sacrifice the country.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

No one aside from Dan Patrick, Glenn Beck, and assorted other evangelical leaders has suggested that the trade-off is between saving the lives of seniors in the community, and giving up life in the United States as we have known it. Nor is it the elderly alone that will die in this pandemic, have died in this pandemic.

Anyone with immune deficiencies. Anyone with weak lungs. Anyone with hypertension. Anyone with none of the above, young and spry and outwardly healthy to all appearances, can fall victim to this virus and die. If you believe otherwise, you are simply whistling past the graveyard.

Evangelicals who seek to preserve their ideas of capitalism at any human cost prove only that capitalism is part of their religion. This is the prosperity gospel raising its ugly head and letting us know that it holds the reins in the evangelical world. In prosperity theology, true christians make money because that is god’s reward to them for doing god’s work. It would take a televangelist to believe wholeheartedly that getting people to give you money for nothing more than saying words that your audience wants to hear is doing god’s work.

Maybe we should try explaining to these folks that Jesus was a humanist, perhaps the first humanist. Washing the feet of his followers? Feeding the multitude? Curing the sick and the lame? What? The miracles don’t hold water with you? They don’t for me either, but how about we just take Jesus at his own word on this subject?

It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

Jesus

Jesus would never start the trolley (trolley problem) much less have to decide when to stop it. The prosperity gospel is bullshit, to put it bluntly. If you think that being a capitalist is making your closer to god, then you are the same kind of person that believed that slavery was approved of by god because it is in the bible. You are going to seek wealth anyway, better to say god approves of it than to be seen as one of the merchants and money changers that Jesus drove out of the temple.

If you are suggesting we ignore the warnings of people we pay to keep us healthy. If you are one of those people that thinks we can’t afford to let the markets stop for a month to make sure we have a handle on this crisis. If you are willing to let the poor, the sick and the elderly die simply because we can’t afford to take care of them; then you are exactly the kind of christian that helped make me the atheist that I am today. I will have nothing to do with hypocrites like you if I have anything to say about it.

Twitter. Featured image is from Wikipedia: Maundy Thursday, a painting of Altar of Siena Cathedral

As I ran down riverside park in the 70-degree weather, I smiled at people walking their dogs, pushing baby strollers and also running. You would never know that a virus was overtaking New York City, unless you worked in the hospital.

Day and night ambulance sirens alarm through the streets. Sirens give me PTSD. It seems like I am the only one that notices though. I went to get groceries at Foodtown but there were so many people in the store that I walked out. I have a greater chance of getting coronavirus in the store than in the hospital. Other stores have taken a more serious approach and limited the number of people in the store, thereby reducing the spread of disease.

——————-

The statistics are grossly under reported. Deaths are much higher – I tried to report two deaths yesterday and was on the phone for a half an hour before I grew frustrated and hung up the phone. I have to treat patients, I can’t sit on the phone for that long. Later I had one of the physician assistants call and she was on hold for an hour and still could not report a death.

Were these deaths counted?
Are prehospital deaths counted?
Are prehospital deaths being swabbed for the coronavirus?

I’ve been swabbing all cardiac arrests and deaths. And guess what? They are ALL positive for the coronavirus.

archive.org/facebook.com/cleavon.gilman
Postscript

A year later and they are still at it. Unhappy that the solution to the pandemic they don’t believe in, a product of the science that they reject, can’t be limited to the good (wealthy) Christianists, United States evangelicals now want to keep all the vaccines, that they won’t admit to taking themselves, just for themselves, and not pass them out to the rest of humanity. Jesus would also tell you we need to vaccinate everyone, just like Bernie wants to do:

twitter.com/SenSanders

facebook.com/Stonekettle

Women’s Health in Texas is Still Under Attack

The plight of women’s health in Texas has always been a concern of mine. One of my earliest memories involves sitting in a car outside an abortion clinic in Dallas waiting for my mother to come back out of the clinic so that we could drive back home to Sweetwater. From that day to this one, women’s health has figured highly in my thoughts because my mother forbid me or the rest of the children from ever admitting that the trip had even happened. It was that verboten as a subject in Texas. You simply were not allowed to discuss it in polite company.

We had to drive to Dallas because there was no clinic closer to us in Sweetwater than the clinic four hours away in Dallas. Women’s health has only gotten harder to address since that time in the early eighties when we made that road trip.

When the Abortion Barbie, the Texas Republican male’s label for Wendy Davis, stood up and filibustered the latest restrictions on abortion to be proposed by the troglodytes that run our state in 2013, I was one of her greatest supporters. I went out and proudly cast my vote for her in the governor’s race the next year. Anyone who was brave enough to stand up and talk about how essential women’s health is, and how much of women’s health is being made illegal in Texas, was the kind of straight talker I wanted to run my state government.

But she lost, of course. The attacks on women’s health continued unabated. The Republican legislature passed the bill that Wendy Davis had filibustered in the next session of the legislature. Then in 2017 they passed SB8. Slowly, one by one, the remaining women’s health clinics in Texas are closing.

On the Media – “Shmashmortion” – January 4, 2018

The Planned Parenthood clinic in San Angelo, Texas has closed.

KUT – For Supporters Of Abortion Access, Troubling Trends In Texas – November 18, 2019

Planned Parenthood was the only place in the region that a woman could go to get birth control pills at a reduced cost. To get mammograms and pap smears done. The only place that poor women could go to see to their basic health needs. I know this because The Wife and I relied on that clinic when we lived in San Angelo. Now that clinic is closed and those women who are still in San Angelo have nowhere else to go.

The promise that Conservative Christianists made, that women’s health would not suffer in Texas because of their war on Planned Parenthood, was an outright lie.

Texas Standard – January 25, 2018

They don’t care about women’s health, they only care about maintaining male control over the female’s reproductive system. That is the beginning, the middle and the end of the story when it comes to why they hate Planned Parenthood.

It is the same reason why the founder of Planned Parenthood was reviled when she started this movement to care for women’s health first and foremost. She was liberating women from their reliance on men, and men don’t like that. It would be nice if these liars were better at telling the lies they tell. At least you could be comfortable in the lies that way.

Punishing Political Opponents? #ImpeachTrump

Trump is now considering revoking the security clearances of former intelligence officials who have criticized him.

Not even Richard Nixon went this far. It’s not just petty and vindictive. It’s bad for American policy. Former heads of intelligence agencies retain their security clearances so they can speak about sensitive matters with their successors and with Congress. Trump obviously doesn’t want them to.

Robert Reich

That’s right. Go after the most popular President in our lifetime, Mr. Trump. Try to take away Barack Obama’s security clearance (What is a security clearance? Who has one and why?) Don’t mess around with the underlings from previous administrations. I mean, you act like you heft a decent sized pair of balls, you should take on the truly powerful in your current sphere not muck around with underlings. Take on the Clinton’s and the Clinton Foundation. I’ll get the popcorn out to watch those fights. This would be better television than impeachment hearings. An emasculation live on television, without all that bothersome blood. A lesson to white men everywhere. There is a limit to effective power.

But, he won’t challenge the truly powerful. This was revealed in Helsinki when he sucked Vladimir Putin’s cock live on television. Mr. Trump has no balls, if his display of authority in Helsinki was any kind of example of his true manhood.

There are dozens of conservative pundits who are bailing out on Mr. Trump and his racist, fascist, oligarchical kleptocracy in the making. They are bailing out because they can smell failure in the air. I don’t want to cast aspersions on Steve Schmidt (pictured at right) personally, but his cohort of conservative Republican operators created the fertile ground that Mr. Trump’s candidacy sprouted in. They are the ones that accepted Nixon’s Southern strategy. They are the ones that built on that legacy. They are the ones that tried to navigate the tricky waters between outright, obvious racism, and just not liking the black Democrat in the White House.

Rather than just declaring that Nixon was wrong, abandoning the white nationalists and Christianist extremists that Nixon and then Reagan had saddled their party with, they kept trying to make a legitimate national party out of what has come to visibly be a regional/racial delusion, a frame of reference that can only be found within the minds of the overwhelmingly elderly, white, rural, Republicans that are virtually the only group voting for Mr. Trump and his policies. Why they are voting for him remains the only unanswered question, because there is little doubt of Mr. Trump’s culpability and criminality any longer.

All of this, all of it, comes from factionalization. Comes from believing that your political opponents are not just simply mistaken, but evil. Evil, malicious, law-breaking fraudulent actors. Conservatism is a political ideology, not a philosophy. Much like libertarianism, it simply does not have enough guidance, enough mental meat, to serve as a real philosophical basis for rational action. Failing to convince the rest of America that their conservative ideals were correct, political conservatives have continued isolating themselves until they can’t even accept commonly held scientific findings for fear that they controvert some pet belief of theirs. They insist on their own news outlets and their own facts. This is how ideologies fail, and modern conservatism has failed. It failed when it elected Donald Trump. It failed when it could not distinguish his lies from the truth that is all around them. If you think I’m going to cry for them, you are sadly mistaken.

Rachel Maddow points out that six of the seven people James Comey told about his meetings with Donald Trump are gone or leaving the FBI, with the one who hasn’t been made into a political punching bag, David Bowdich, firing Peter Strzok. All contrary to FBI personnel office guidance.

Mr. Trump is destroying our justice system in front of our very eyes, and he’s doing it with the excuse that these people oppose his presidency. Yes, members of the justice department oppose your presidency Mr. Trump. Your actions are all the proof they need to justify their opposition. You can’t stop yourself from punishing people who criticize you once you’ve noticed them. It’s not in your nature. You destroy people. You always have and you always will.

Trump gave Sessions the job for the same reason Thump hired Cohen as his personal attorney.

Because he was looking for a crook.

Because he thought Sessions was a corrupt little toady with the same lack of morals as Trump himself, a guy who would abuse his office to attack Trump’s political enemies and to help Trump profit from the office and stick it to liberals and for no other reason.

And it’s right there in Trump’s own words.

Stonekettle Station

Mr. Trump punishes the heroic and belittles the people who serve him. Most of them probably deserve belittling. Toadys. Sycophants. Yesmen. These are the kinds of people that he surrounds himself with. It’s not like this was news to anyone who knew him or knew the kinds of work he does. As I said the day he took the oath Caveat Emptor. Words to live by in the age of Trump.

Postscript

This was originally part of another article that I have now broken into three parts and appended more work to all three. All reasons to #ImpeachTrump:

With any luck I’ll have the other two out by Monday, as well as an update for the Kavanaugh post. In case you missed it, they impeached Trump. Fifty-two Republican Senators are now just as treasonous as their president is because of their votes. Only Mitt Romney can be called blameless on this subject.

They ended up impeaching him twice.

There were a few less Republicans that were traitors that time. Still not enough to remove him or prevent a second attempt at an authoritarian takeover of our government.

(deorangified)

The Unappreciated Art of the Troll

“To make a deliberately offensive or provocative online posting with the aim of upsetting someone or eliciting an angry response from them.”

“To fish by trailing a baited line along behind a boat.”

Google search result for trolling

I grew up washing lures on Swanson reservoir. I know what the second definition for trolling means. Washing lures is what my dad jokingly called trolling. Trolling for fish. We spent hours and days on end idling up and down the reservoir never getting a bite. That was the usual method of trolling. As the old adage goes, if throwing a lure in the water always brought back a fish, they’d call it catching not fishing.

Sometimes we’d get into a school of fish, and then the trolling would go viral. We’d get 8, 10, sometimes thirty fish on those days. Those were the rare days. The reason for going fishing in the first place.

There are fish on the internet too, it’s just kind of hard to tell the difference between a fish (a mark as fraudsters and con artists label them) and another troll or even an anti-troll.

Trolls inhabit our daily lives, waiting under every figurative bridge along your route, waiting to jump out and try to ruin your day. Online trolls are the ones most people notice, but there are trolls offline as well. We don’t recognize them because we know them by name, not by their behavior.

Decades of trial and error on the internet, as well as at work and at play have proven to me that my default behavior is anti-troll. The barbed replies that I compose to posts in online forums and social platforms frequently happen without any planning on my part. Counter-trolling the unwanted and unwelcome, tormenting them with attacks that they will feel obliged to lash out at, speaks to internal issues of conformity and certitude that I wrestle with. And I do wrestle with them from online moment to online moment. There have been far more words that I’ve deleted from posts than I’ve ever posted in the decades since I started spending time on the internet.

Trolling is an obscure internet behavioral reference to just drop on the uninitiated. I figure if you got to this blog, you probably know your way around the internet. But still, most of us use words all day long that we don’t really have definitions for and can’t really define if pressed. I started this post with a definition for trolling, and I included both definitions for the behavior for a reason. Trolling is seen in one light by the troll, in the other light by those being trolled. Trolls think they are the good guys. They are certain they know the truth and they think they are convincing people by trolling. They are speaking to the silent masses reading with a knowing eye and not to the people they are arguing with. They are expecting their antagonists to admit that they are fakes and to walk away from the argument as changed people. If they think they are arguing with a person and take that person seriously.

It is an open question whether the troll conceives of their opponents as people. It is definitely an open question whether they take their opponent seriously. Most of them do not take their opponents seriously. Most of them think this is all a joke, and they are probably laughing for the entire time they troll. The fact that they just might be wrong on the ideas they are promoting never even crosses their minds. If the thought did cross their minds, they would never go where they go and say the crazy things they say.

So when a troll posts in a forum, any forum about anything at all, they are posting specifically to attract the unwary. Hoping against hope that someone will acknowledge their existence and gratify their longing to make a difference by taking the time to argue with them about whatever it is they posted. Cat videos in a dog forum. Dog memes in a cat forum. Rainbow colored memes in a conservative forum. Gun images in a liberal forum. Hentai memes in an Anime forum. Whatever it is, their fondest wish is that you click on their thing and reward them with your attention. Once they have a flame war going, they are like hogs in a wallow. They roll luxuriously through the mud being slung in every direction. Which is generally where people like me show up. Flame war going, hogs wallowing, attention being lavished on the undeserving. From the anti-trolling perspective.

When people like me see an inept attempt to troll a group that the troll doesn’t like, we can’t keep ourselves from trolling them right back. Our desire is to put out the flame war, to deny the troll the attention that they are looking for. We offend the easily offended so that they will leave the conversation. Piss off the trolls so that they abandon their own threads, or cross some preset line of conduct that will get them evicted from the forum or punished in some other fashion. If nothing else works, spamming a thread with nonsense will generally put out a flame war because no one can keep track of what was said last by whom, silencing both sides with avalanches of bullshit.

Why do I and others like me do this? If you are going to take pleasure in causing someone else pain, at least have the decency to be good at it. That is why.

I have tried many things to remedy this habit of mine. Proactive blocking. Spam reporting. Hate-speech reporting. Nothing seems to stem the unending tide of idiots who think they know how to score points on their enemy. There are just too many of you inept motherfuckers out there. I can’t escape you and your pathetic drivel, so I will do the only other thing available to me. I will write a primer on the subject so that I can hand it out to you when I regrettably run across one of you.

The first bit of business, like most subjects of discussion, isn’t what you think it is. You, dear reader, probably think that I’m going to illustrate how to compose a decent meme or perhaps lecture on shouting at people in ALL CAPS. This isn’t that kind of blog. There are other places you can go for that information. I am not your internet help desk. No, the first thing to understand is knowing when you are being trollish. Learn to recognize when you are causing pain to another person and to ask for forgiveness if offense is legitimately taken. The first order of business is to understand what it means to troll. If you don’t know what you are trying to do, you will not be successful in carrying out your mission.

Your initial post should be savvy enough to be taken seriously by the casual observer. Posting porn images to a photography group will reliably get you banned the first time you do it. So don’t do it from an account you might want to use again, if that’s your thing. On the other hand, social posting has to attract attention in order to be social. A dialog rather than a monologue. Why post at all if what you are doing is going to be ignored? Why talk to yourself online? You might as well log off and go masturbate if you are just playing with yourself; and frankly, most trolls would be better off masturbating more often anyway. It relieves the stress to perform well, take it from an old hand at this. If you are thinking about trolling, go masturbate first. It’s better for everyone if you do.

Back already? Well, that was quick. Where were we? Ah, yes, the meaning of trolling, crafting a successful troll. You want to be provocative, but not offensive. You want to question the status quo but do so in a way that won’t get you evicted from a group. It is a consequence of this fact of internet life, the loneliness of it, the desire to gain the attention of others, that makes nearly every internet post an attempt to troll, an attempt to get people to pay attention to you, to dig me as George Carlin once put the question on his album Class Clown.

Virtually all comedy is trolling behavior. Anything you think is funny is probably offensive to someone. Posting humor will get you labeled as a troll, especially if you post that humor in places where whoever is being made fun of hang out. Telling Polack jokes on a Polish immigrant forum will get you banned as someone engaging in hate speech pretty quickly, and probably rightly so. Polack jokes are so 1990’s. Get with the times. Clearly the targets of choice have shifted back to the brown-skinned people South of the US border. If you are from Texas you reference them by pointing out they have to swim to get to this side of the border. In New Mexico, Arizona and California (states with land borders) that kind of reference is considered racist and will get you outed as a racist. And rightly so. So the second point of successfully trolling is to know the subject that you hope to exploit. Even in Texas you can be confused with a racist if you are so insensitive as to name a movie Deadbacks in humorous reference to the racial epithets of yesteryear.

Writing by its very nature implies that someone will read what you write. If no one reads it, do the words even exist? That is a bit metaphysical, isn’t it? Unlike speech, which elicits response if anyone can hear you, even when you are talking to yourself, writing really does imply that someone will read the words you write. Every writer imagines someone they are writing to while they are writing. That is how you gauge whether you are getting across to your audience, you imagine who they are as you type. Are they confused? Misunderstood? Go back and read anything you’ve written in the past, like I have done on this blog. Go back and read the things you wrote ten years ago, see if you recognize the person writing at that time. So many things we think are important at any given time look pathetically misguided in hindsight.

Most people hate to think about the things they believe. Asking another person to do that is generally branded as trollish behavior. The most provocative thing you can do online is to challenge someone else’s beliefs. Any ideologue is a prime target for trolling. It isn’t just conservatives in the wild who are susceptible. It is also anarchists and socialists, any group or person more allied with a set of ideas than they are with other people.

That homophobe or transphobe you are always running across is no more deserving of trolling than the social justice warrior who doesn’t know when to shut up. The Jehovah’s Witness who rings your doorbell on a Sunday morning that you’ve always wanted to introduce to the Flying Spaghetti Monster is on the same level as a target of trolling as that atheist friend who thinks all religion is stupid is a target. If you’ve asked a question specifically to get someone to question their beliefs, congratulations, you are a troll.

If you’ve ever engaged in anything other than casual conversation, you’ve probably engaged in trolling behavior yourself. Admit this fact, we’ll keep it between ourselves. No one will know of the secret pleasure felt when someone rewards you with a reply to your cleverly worded bait. It’s OK, we all do it. Everyone is a troll in some fashion, especially the people who think they would never do that. Like passive aggressiveness, everyone has trolled at least once. All of us find ourselves in conversations online and off, conversations that we weren’t invited to, have no real interest in, or are required to participate in because of social norms. You just want a drink of water and the group at the water cooler stares at you as you approach. Do you offer an insight or just duck and cover? The smart person might keep to himself, but the adventurous amongst us probably attempts to riff on what the conversation appeared to be when it suddenly included them. If the comment can be deemed provocative in any way, congratulations you have just trolled the water cooler.

This behavior, trolling, is not really a new thing at all in spite of the fact that it never had a name before the internet evolved. It is the way that conversation has evolved over the millennia from basic communication needs, imparting information from one person to another that was life critical,

Food. There.

Into ways to convey complex levels of thought and to do so with enough rigor that the teachings were retained through multiple generations of descendants. The briefest of excursions into the subject of Freemasonry will shed light on just how convoluted verbal teachings can get, and just how misunderstood meanings passed down without writing and divorced of the concretes they deal with, specifically masonry in this case, can become.

It is not merely coincidental that some of the earliest human groups formed around the subject of masonry; nor is it coincidental that those groups sought to exclude others, the outgroup, from understanding what it was they were doing. The first recorded words that we still retain were recorded on stone by stone masons. And they retained their exclusive rank and that ability to divorce the spoken word from that impediment to communication, time, up until the fifteenth century and Johannes Gutenberg‘s masterful invention. It was only then that language becomes divorced from the spoken word. Only then that reading became something that anyone could afford to take time to learn and do, because it facilitated learning in other areas. Before the invention of moveable type you communicated all information directly, from master to apprentice, in words designed specifically to impart knowledge from the person with hands-on experience to the person who wanted to know how to do whatever that thing was.

After Gutenberg invented the printing press, it became more profitable for the master to write his knowledge down directly, so that his mastery could be spread wider. Could be spread to students who couldn’t hear his voice directly, because they lived in another town or even in another century. From Gutenberg’s invention until today we have continued to evolve the written word. From masters writing their knowledge down for the erudition of us all, into entire industries making billions of dollars off of the spreading of information world wide, into fat, naked old white men typing out their masurbatory fantasies in the darkness of their mother’s basement, all alone in the night. I’m not so sure this whole printing press thing is going to work out well in the end, from that perspective.

The first time the veracity of the information imparted was questioned,

that ain’t food, that’s shit.

Trolling was born. Deriding or dismissing the offered information. Refusing a directive like turning a blind eye. Being known for writing a rebuttal to a treatise that history has long since forgot. Trolling 101. Anyone can engage in this basic form of rebellion, just like the millions of meme-posters on Facebook, all of them convinced they are somehow unique and worthy of the attention of others. Facebook is the internet equivalent to the office watercooler, one step below icanhascheezburger on the meritocratic scale of trolling. Facebook is an intellectual level below lolcats, because lolcats know they are attention seekers and have to hone their craft against other self-admitted attention seekers. Most people on Facebook don’t even admit that what they want to gain by hanging out there is attention.

Facebook meme posters are to trolls what script kiddies are to hackers. Someone who only understands how to do one thing in a field that encompasses all known forms of things. Anyone can screen cap an offensive image and post it. Anyone can copy and paste a meme generator image, the kind you find reposted ad infinitum across the vast Facebook wasteland. It takes no talent at all to piss someone off. Shit flinging monkeys can do it with a single gesture. Hell, if it exists, is filled with memes.

The internet is so full of amateur mental gamers, amateur trolls, that there are terms created just for them. Just asking questions is now referred to as Jaqing off. A Facebook friend went off on a tear recently because someone suggested they were playing devil’s advocate. An artist never reveals his art as art. An artist creates and either the art is accepted or rejected. If you are going to play devil’s advocate, be the devil’s advocate. Don’t expect other people to indulge your mental masturbations, or to refrain from punishing you for your transgressions of norms. No one likes a showoff. No one respects an artist whose defense is but this is art or especially I was only joking.

The key to knowing when to troll and when not to troll is honesty. Knowing what results you want from a conversation and how you will get it. This knowledge turns a memer into someone interested in perfecting the art of the troll. A person interested in the shape of the conversation itself. It is at this point that the apprentice troll becomes a journeyman troll, believes himself capable of trolling like a master. This is the point where the smartass becomes the asshole, as in “the asshole that ruined [insert name here] forum.” I have been kicked off so many forums over the years that I’ve actually lost count. I was kicked off of most of them because that is what I wanted the moderators to do, although I may not have known it at the time. Challenge authority publicly and you will be smacked down. This occurs because 99.9% of authority’s effectiveness in the wild is based on fear of the application of force. If the mundanes you have authority over are not afraid of you, you will lose control sooner or later.

Respect can replace fear most the time, but there has to be mutual respect for hard and fast rules for this to occur. Mutual respect for rules, while a basis for any good argument, is sadly lacking in most online forums. Rules have to be enforceable to be hard rules. Rules against doing something the authority cannot even check on aren’t rules, they’re wishful thinking. It is not within the ability of a forum moderator to compel civil discourse, to prevent or observe that one member has blocked messages from another member, an example of a rule I broke and then told the moderators “I broke that rule” just so they would kick me. (the ploy worked. They changed the rule. I win) Hard and fast rules permeate the internet. You can be banned from forums just for observing that forum moderators are as naked as the emperor. Never tell authority that their rules are meaningless. You cannot compel discourse or civility in the wild. You can only control who gets to have a voice in your forum.

Contrary to popular belief, trolls do not ruin forums, moderators do. More to the point, a moderator is the shepherd of the forum, and the moderator needs to be given permission by the forum owner to do the job they need to do. The most damaging belief among forum moderators is that applying rules justly equates to censorship. That you cannot remove posts and users without denying them their free speech. You may never hear from that person again, or they might be back in minutes as a new user you’ve never heard of before; but either way the activities of a moderator are not censorship. Applying rules justly is how civilization is maintained, how progress is secured. Make no mistake, a bad moderator can destroy a forum but a good moderator can make a forum work flawlessly if they simply have the knack for smoothing over the rough bits. Here ends the moderator’s tangent.

Getting back to the assholes; as in, this is the point where the smartass becomes the asshole, assholes should be kicked off forums en masse, everywhere on the internet. Kicked and kicked again until they graduate to the next level of trolling, or cease to troll altogether. It is possible to not troll, The wife is one of those rare exceptions. Trolling is as alien to her as double entendres or puns. When she ventures into those fields it is hilarious because it is so unexpected. Every time she reads my posts she is baffled about why I bother. Every time she reads responses to my posts she is livid, and it’s all I can do to keep her from hunting the offending party down.

The only way to deal with assholes is to remove them, and like a bandage it is best done quickly to limit the pain. As many times as I’ve been kicked out of groups over the decades, there are even more places that I’ve been a member of that have been reduced to ghost towns by assholes who simply don’t know when to shut up and had control over that Uniform Resource Locator or subreddit. On more than one occasion, that asshole was me.

Some of the assholes never learn. They just get bitter. They just get angry. Anger is a copout. The targets of the troll are angry too. Justifiably so, in their eyes. That too is a copout, but it is an understandable one. People who are pushed, who are angry, lash out. A good moderator on a forum does what the name implies. A good moderator moderates.

“Dude, I know you think this is fun, but your target does not. I know you can’t see the tears, but there are tears.”

When kicked from a group, understand that you are in error. Authority is never in error. Authority never admits error, in any case. The only time authority ever admits error is when they are pulling a Gorbachev. They are on their way out, and on their way out they add “oh by the way, we fucked up. Sorry about that.” Trolls live for that moment. But the kicking? That is personal. It is all about you and your blindness to lines that everyone else knew was there and you didn’t. Until you crossed the line. Now you know where the line is. Cross that line again and expect the same results. Cross the same line the same way and now you are just being stupid. Keep crossing the same line and you turn into a criminal, not a troll.

This is the other point I wanted to make. Trolls are not criminals any more than hackers are criminals. Trolls that continue pursuing the same person after they’ve been warned off are stalkers. Trolls that harass after they’ve been warned off are guilty of harassment. Trolls (or anybody else) who threatens to harm another person have crossed one of the few universal hard and fast lines in human society. That person won’t be enjoying his liberty to troll people who aren’t in orange jumpers for much longer.

But there is hope. The existence of this blog is proof.

I learned. I survived and evolved. I knew that a change had occurred. For quite some time now I’ve changed tacks rather than bash my head against ineffectual moderation. I’ve walked away from conversations that were clearly going nowhere. The baited feeding the troll and all of them wallowing in troll varnish, another trophy to hang on the troll’s wall. I’ve walked away from conversations where my target wasn’t ever going to appreciate the time invested in pointing out their errors to them. I’ve simply packed up and left rather than finish the art, complete the conversational arc. I’ve walked away from forums where the moderators could not bring themselves to cull the assholes. The moderators couldn’t keep the Jaq-offs from posting every meme that crossed their newsfeed. If the sub-group is going to be subjected to everything on the larger forum, why join the group? It really is too bad that Facebook is about the only place left to have an argument in the wild on the internet. Yahoogroups? Dead. BBcode forums? Dead. Usenet? I’ve heard rumors they still exist. I haven’t been there in years.

I’ve wasted enough time flinging shit at other shit-flinging monkeys. There is no pleasure in it any longer. I have grown to appreciate the art of the troll while a growing despite for the mechanics of it keeps me from over-indulging.

You can say that you have graduated to an appreciation for the art of the troll when you can lead someone to a devastating conclusion blissfully unaware right up to that last step, and you leave them to it. You don’t hang around to admire the mess that ensues. That isn’t the point of a masterful troll, an artful troll. The point is to bring the offender into a position where they can recoil in horror at their own stupidity. Hang themselves with the lengths of rope that you’ve graciously continued to hand to them as they tied the knot and thrust their head through the loop to grin at you. Allowed the petty and the vain to impale themselves on their own sharp wits.

We all have a limited amount of time on this Earth and we can either fritter it away arguing with the ignorant and the ideologically blind, or we can spend time having conversations that have meaning and purpose and the potential for making positive changes in the world. More and more often these days, I’m choosing the latter. Anyone who comes into a forum for a specific point of view and purposefully trashes that point of view is not there to learn anything. They are there to convert by the sword. My response, now, is to repel with the sword. I block, report, and prosecute threats against my person. I block and report trolls who show up looking for a fight. I block, report and follow up on people who are racist, homophobic or Christianist to a dangerous level. That is how I’m going to make the world better for people who just want to live their lives as peacefully as possible.

That and this primer is all the trolls will ever get from me.

If you are reading this, go wish Henry Edward Hardy a good day in hell from me. It’s because of him this was posted today.

Troll, am I? How am I the troll when you objected to my laughing at Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me? Called me out on it, even? Get a dictionary, at least.

My feeling is that the reckless, no-consequences, tantrum culture that has evolved online was something that sprouted and became normalized through SF fandom way back when, which makes it incumbent on us who are still part of it to do whatever is possible to make things better. The internet getting devoured by rage culture is only inevitable if we leave the trolls to the cesspool.

Atomic Junk Shop, The Exaltation of Anger

Featured image from fao.org

Not Bedazzled. GroundHog Day.

I’m here to tell you that there is an enormous difference between those who want power only to benefit themselves and those who seek power for the betterment of us all.

Stonekettle Station, Hunting the Unicorn — to Extinction

That take home line from Hunting the Unicorn to Extinction is worth including in the blog based on its own merits. But the subject of that Stonekettle Station article is something that is at the core of all politics and one of the reasons I find myself restless in the Democratic party right now; uncomfortable but determined to see this thing through to the end.

Jim was telling liberals and progressives that claimed they could not vote for Democratic candidates to stop it. Conservatives, we know you won’t vote Democratic. You proved that when you held your nose and voted for the Orange Hate-Monkey (OHM) instead of Hillary Clinton. As I’ve said many, many times, first saying it in Hillary for President? the Republicans were going to nominate a nutjob in 2016 because the Republican party is certifiably insane. They don’t know what they want and they just couldn’t vote for that woman. So they voted for a serial-philandering, money-laundering tax cheat instead when they could have had John Kasich, a perfectly reasonable fellow, someone that is quite demonstrably sane if a little preoccupied with eating. The Republican party has grown more and more dysfunctional as the Tea Party and Religious Right exert more and more control of the process of selecting its candidates, wresting control from traditional Republicans who find themselves ill at ease in the presence of so much openly expressed white nationalism and Christianist dogma. The current state of schizophrenia that the Republican party is experiencing is also proof positive that plurality voting does lead to the worst candidates rising to the top of the ticket and attaining office. Never argue with math.

So when the Democrats nominated Hillary, and why not, she was the most admired woman in the world more than once; and the inevitable misogynistic blurring of the lines between Bill Clinton’s actions and her still being married to him occurred, creating this illusion of taint on Hillary that the media was more than happy to feed on, a distinct vein of fear of Democratic corruption emerged. I see most of this as sour grapes. You never get the candidates you want, and if you do get the candidates you want, most of the time they can’t win anyway because you are not we and we elect leaders. That simple phrase is politics in a nutshell. But this dissatisfaction with Democratic business as usual persists. How much of it is real and how much of it is counter-intelligence operations by Russian disinformation services is entirely open to question.

Olga Yurkova, TED2018 Inside the fight against Russia’s fake news empire

The same people who refused to vote for Hillary, but were not Conservatives or Republicans, are still insisting that they can’t vote for Democrats who won’t swear an oath to support every, single, thing that these people think are important. They’d rather stay home and pretend they are doing us all a favor than to participate in the process and maybe be responsible for some candidate or other that they might disagree with getting elected. The point, as Jim makes several times in his essay, is that even not voting is a choice and if you don’t vote then you voted for the OHM and all his supporters anyway. And you did this because even not choosing is a choice with consequences which you cannot avoid. The current administration is a poster child for the fact that not voting leads to outcomes which are every bit as undesirable as any other you can possibly imagine. A textbook case for mandating voting and participation in the process at all levels, but that is an argument for another essay.

This essay is about the allusion that Jim chose to make in order to relate his point. He picked Bedazzled. He made a pretty decent case for it. But everything that applies to Bedazzled as an allusion goes just as well with a different, better film. The movie he should have drawn comparisons to is Groundhog Day. In Groundhog Day the title character doesn’t even know what he wants in the first sequence that he is doomed to repeat for years of time during the film’s duration, just like more Americans have no clue what it is they want. It is only after he has dallied with every other distraction in the terrifyingly small world he is stuck in that he seizes on the one thing that might save him, the wholly genuine character of the producer he’s been stuck with for all these years, all those years one repetitive day at a time, a character beautifully played by Andie MacDowell. It is at that point that he begins to move in positive directions, finally able to leave the hell of Groundhog Day that he’s been stuck in for much longer than the audience that watches the film is. He gets to leave because he finally becomes worthy of moving on from that place and time. Is the universe interfering, saving him from wasting his entire life on pursuits that were beneath him? Who knows? What we as the audience know is that the criteria set out for Phil have been met. He is more than he was. He can appreciate others for what they are.

Groundhog Day (1993)
Bedazzled (2000)

It is true that the protagonist does learn his lesson by the end of Bedazzled as Jim outlines. Maybe the plotline of Groundhog Day is too highbrowed for beer swigging average joes. Maybe Jim has it right and Bedazzled is the film that the people he’s trying to appeal to prefer. I’ll happily step aside and let the parade march on. But the journey of Phil Connors is demonstrably the exact same journey that the malcontents who refuse to make themselves better citizens need to take. If you want better government, you have to be better citizens, Jim’s mantra for several years now. They have to accept that the problem is them and not every around them. Hopefully they manage to do this before killing themselves more than a score of times and spending a purported thirty-four years stuck in a time loop. In the meantime I’ll still be here repeating what I’ve been saying for the better part of two years now myself. There is no way forward until we acknowledge and atone for the mistakes that were made that brought us here. Caveat Emptor.

Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn’t one today.

Phil Connors

Editor’s note. The Wife insists that Groundhog Day isn’t nearly dark enough (humor-wise) to be the comparative movie for Trump’s America. She suggests instead that

Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

…is the film that corresponds to this place and time in the world. We are all Tom Cruise repeating his first day, to infinity. Because unlike him we never learn. So we have the worst day of our lives, betrayed by our superiors, and we die on that beach fighting aliens that know we are coming. Forever. Isn’t that a heartwarming vision of the future?

I see everyone is having a productive morning. You know it gives me a swell of pride knowing soldiers of your… caliber will be leading the charge tomorrow. Tip of the spear. Edge of the knife. Crack of my ass.

Master Sergeant Farell