Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Deadlines and Revolutions

I'm not presuming to offer advanced lessons in civics here but rather make a few observations about how institutions persist, however we might want them to change.  Today was deemed an "important" deadline for Presidential campaign contributions.  I received solicitations from both Mrs. Clinton and Senator Sanders.  I'm sure those identifying with the word "conservative" also received the same from other candidates.  Today was about money, about promises to change the system, perhaps even a call to revolution of one kind or another.  Everyone involved promises to change the country at its very core.  Whether or not you believe that is a good idea or however you might like to see that happen, let's be clear: as Gil Scot-Heron told us back in the day when revolution was just as popular a rallying cry, the revolution will not be televised.  But neither should you expect it to go live anytime soon.  

First a few facts to fuel my claim that the forces of inertia will prevail.  

America and its government, its politicians are owned by the donor class and they above all are the least interested in change.  The system as we know it is their property, rigged to their advantage, and run by their capital. We don't vote for person or policy so much as the ones who have paid for the law and have the influence to extract their privilege.  It is the law that is actually for sale, driven by ideologies that favor wealth's celebrity, and with it all of their commensurate advantages.  Citizen's United made this purchase of the system of government perfectly legal and the next President will very likely secure a Supreme Court that will have a profound effect upon the future by virtue of how it understands the past.  But let us not get ahead of ourselves here. We are well to remember that elections are bought--- unless what? And it is this rather unremarkable recognition links Trump and Sanders voters.

These candidates are not selling themselves to the highest bidder.  While Mrs. Clinton promises to change government for purchase, she participates in donor class dependence, claiming that to do otherwise is political suicide.  This is because politics is not policy, it is a system that exists as a virtual organic entity dedicated to perpetuating itself.  That entity has multiple organs: political, religious, military, ethnic entities that gather to form larger bodies of influence but at the heart of the matter is identity, that is, who We the People think we are.  Trump and Sanders say they are both immune to the influence of money---their common link--- and yet, I submit, two very different things are going on when they assert their independence.  The difference between them is a revolution's worth of identity.

Any recognition of our bought-and-sold politics upsets the powerful donor-buyers, be they individuals, corporations, or other interests. All such interests maximize their profit by convincing the less influential to vote in their interests. However else identity is formulated, to be American is to convince us to identify with The Dream, the entrepreneurial hope that we too might become as rich as Croesus.  In this way "Americans" need not vote who they are but only who they wish they were.  With Trump his self-financing has coupled itself to our American wealth and security dream and a nativist revanchism that sees the "other" (particularly the under class of immigrants) as the cause of middle class stagnation and decline.  Calling these human beings "illegals" is meant not only to delegitimize their political status but also to assert that they have not secured the same human rights as others who are "Americans."  This classic plantation-owner strategy rallies around hate and uses race to manipulate the fearful to identify with the "real" American interests of wealth and the wealthy. There is something inveterately American about this American Dream identity, something both familiar and deeply troubling.  The purpose of government is to maintain the vision of The Dream.  Trump supporters believe he can't be bought because he has achieved The Dream and that those he castigates are the cause of their problems, stealing their wealth and opportunities. They see themselves as losing power, as a majority emerges who are not like them. This alone would be enough to motivate them to vote but because they also recognize that their donor class--- a class to which they aspire--- has no care for their "plight," their views entangle become with establishment Republicans (aka the donor class).

Chances are, however, that some donor-class candidate will suffice to win their vote if the un-purchased Mr. Trump fails to win the nomination.  This is because at the core of their ideology is the notion that their world is being taken away from them by this "other," that their hard-earned taxes go to pay for those who "want free stuff," as Mr. Bush has put it. But it is also because their American Dream is to become nothing less than that donor class, immune to the insecurity that can then purchase influence and guarantee outcomes.  Freedom means to do as you please---for yourself and your family in particular--- and for that all you really need is money and the legal right to acquire whatever you want.  It would be a mistake to underestimate the appeal that this has had historically: scapegoats have been named, "real American" identity secured, a positive entrepreneurial aspiration and goal has been established, and with that a certain set of whistles, codes, and nods will create an "us" that wages its battle against "them."  This is not so much a theory of governance as it is a crisis of identity emerging in a world in which diversity is the emergent norm and opportunity scarce but for the already secure.  Of course, American security is also not what it was and that fact has provided since 9/11 yet another pivot of fear.  The rallying cry is to "take back America."  From whom?  To where?  These are the usual questions but now they have been answered.  Mr. Trump has seen to that.  The revolution he promises is to become him.

Of course the contrast in what it means to be a not-for-purchase candidate could not be more stark. Senator Sanders proposes nothing less than a revolution where our economic interests are matched to collective ethical standards, in which case education, health care, safety, environmental protection, work, retirement, women's rights, gender equality, etc. are treated as human rights under government's aegis as guarantor and protector. The Senator's detractors call this European Socialism as if what American Exceptionalism means is not to have such human rights but instead The Dream.  We know Senator Sanders can't be bought--- certainly not for $32 and change on average--- and there is every reason to believe that he is, as he has always been, consistent to his convictions. But do note too: he has no Party apparatus, no Congressional representatives or Governors, no one in the greater system of governance that wholly supports his views and this is why Sanders is unelectable at present. But we can take this further: the Sanders Revolution is not imminent, even if he were somehow to win the Democratic nomination and then the Presidency.

The System we need understand more fully warrants a Capital Letter: it is no less than a Living Entity, just as real as any Corporation is effectively a Person with extraordinary privilege.  And this System represents the Character of the American People: it does not change unless there is an overwhelming majority working within the System itself to alter its very nature.  Given President Obama's two convincing elections we have discovered there is no such overwhelming desire to change the System nor the majority in power to effect that change.  The events of 9/11 did not precipitate a collective determination to make ourselves better as a people, as a nation but rather to extract a vengeance that only served to empower further the goals of those immune to change.  We received no "satisfaction" of vengeance or victory, nor did we rise to any other greater collective aspiration.  The Dream, which is the fantasy come true in Mr. Trump, in fact has continued and reinforced itself in the hearts and minds of a significant number of Americans.

If you support Senator Sanders ---and I too made another contribution today following the appeal to the Federal rules governing the campaigns---his chances of nomination, much less victory are still slim to none. This is not negativity. This is because one person simply cannot change the System, as the Senator notes time and again.  But neither can We the People unless an overwhelming majority come to dominate the structure itself and change the collective's character, our deepest aspirations of identity.  This kind of change is something Tea Partists and conservatives have understood at the grass roots where every election, down to the local school boards, they have indeed altered the character of America.  Some forms of social change, like the implementation of LGBT rights have met their stiff opposition but here, at last, demographics and financial interests coincide to thwart obstructionism.  Have no doubt that these hard won rights will be fought every step of the way forward in the name of The Dream.

Let us not forget that the System is not merely the people who run it, otherwise it would not be a system at all: the people within the structure are exactly what is replaceable. The System would require structural change and that more frequently happens incrementally--- yet another civics lesson to be drawn from Republican Party electioneering and victories.  Since just short of half the country will not support Senator Sanders ideas under any circumstances even if a majority might well offer rousing cheers, the System will require a revolution from within to change. Senator Sanders' objectives would require us to evolve our ethical identity: America would have to love all of its people more than profit, value labor more than property, and pursue its role in the world to peacemaker rather than mere enforcer of its interests. Does anyone here really think that America really wants that?

The Tea/Republican Party continually restakes its claim for some or another, currently trumped up, version of The Dream. Progressives need to see matters through this lens as well as their own.  President Obama didn't fail us--- for all his corporatism and willingness to perpetuate the previous administration's militarism--- Mr. Obama only demonstrated that the System is no more in his control than it is in ours, it does not actually belong to We the People, and so it is just as likely to regress as it to progress only in increments or in fragmentary victories. He continues to speak of the arc of history because otherwise there is no chance for change. There is just not enough We where that decisive change will shift the collective discourse and cause the structure to refashion itself, our ethos as a nation has not yet evolved.  And that revolution of character, that change of heart is the very heart of Bernie Sanders' candidacy. I will continue to support Senator Sanders because he has both the integrity and the vision I endorse but no one should doubt we are as a country a very long, long way from his revolution.  That is a revolution for the heart and soul of America and we're not there yet, deadlines notwithstanding.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The News from Abroad

As we recover from Pope Francis adulation we notice that Rome isn’t burning but basking in a brighter light of self-legitimation claiming relevance for modernity while Republicans procure a new meaning to the word "arson."  Is there a word for burning down your own House?  Or the Republic?
We’ve heard so much about faith and conscience with tears of affirmation flowing on the streets and from the seat of the Speaker and just as much about “a victory for the crazies” that comes not from another cultured despiser but from one of their own. (

I am reminded of a mention in Newsweek from an era no less troubled or bereft of insight, somewhere around 1975 when Olds still made their Custom Cruiser.  Not quite the Pope's new Fiat but don't let that fool ya'.  It's still not true that 
“The news from abroad has become unintelligible.”  This would be the end of civilization and we're not quite there yet.  It would be tantamount to saying that we cannot understand each other, that language is untranslatable, and actions unaccountable.  Incidentally, I would also be out of a job. We need to interpret reality, not succumb to unknowing even when we know we can’t know.  All the same might be said for what’s going on at home.  Whether we look to some bygone past or the present, we’re be no better off if we just give up trying to make sense of the madness.

To assert madness is beyond our comprehension does nothing to empower our better, albeit imperfect understanding.  It emboldens the mad because they know they aren’t.  Not only aren’t they mad, they are perfectly sure they aren’t.  As Professor Krugman rightly asserts, the current machinations of Republican “leadership” will only portend more government dysfunction and obstructionism because such certainty is their aim.  (  Do we need to remind ourselves that the only thing more dangerous than ignorance is certainty?

Is it mad to dissemble in order to dismantle the work of government?  Hardly.  It may be sedition or in the most generous sense ---if you are mad enough to think that a 21st century superpower can function without government--- it can understood as just another philosophy of polity.  What we can understand is that this is deliberate, calculated, and advocating a clearly stated agenda.   Less government is government, at whatever cost to the needs of a republic that projects its empire and provides the standard for economic stability in a world that teeters on disaster as an everyday experience.  But never underestimate the power of conviction to overwrite reality: it’s a mainstay of politics and religion driven by intractable principles and self-proclaimed rectitude.

In the Age of Meme where “fact” is reduced to mere repetition, let us not forget that the literalist faithful will listen only to those who confirm their views: views created and reinforced by those from whom they learned their meme.  For the Republican meme-teaser, enter Fox News, Rush,  For the refashioned Catholic, that would be Pope Francis.  Irony never suffers from transparency but it is cannot help but be lost on the literalist yearning for genuineness.

Let’s imagine for just one moment that the President actually gives the Tea Party caucus the government shutdown they would apparently prefer to Congressional funding of Planned Parenthood.  I mean the entire agenda of shutdown with no “essential services”: airports without air traffic controls, no paychecks for government workers, including the military, no food inspection, thousands of trucks left at the borders and container ships in port, shall we go on?  We might want to return to facts, such as the obviously edited and manipulated videos that are being touted as “evidence” of human atrocity or Mrs. Fiorina’s blatant lies of having seen even worse video.  But would that change minds? (   Facts don’t have a hold on a reality that is, in this age of verbal ingemination, nothing more than virtual hearsay.  There is real hope for truth, but that would only be possible if we were as equally willing to accept truth as provisional, incomplete, and not much like such conviction, much less faith.

Say it with enough certitude like Mrs. Fiorina, or sincerity like Pope Francis, and you rise in the polls or are lauded for possessing the spiritual elan of a “strong, decisive” leader.  We so desperately want that feeling of groundedness, stability in our fragile existence, the human assurance it’s all just gonna be fine in the end--- but are so utterly incapable of understanding the consequences of incontrovertible assertions or what we must endure before the end.

All of this may frighten you to the bone but have no doubt that a significant portion of the voting electorate wants conviction for the same reason it wants faith: because creed proffers the only challenge we have to face palpable change, everyday uncertainty, and our urgent feelings of vulnerability.  The Pope’s gentle and humanistic tones bring needed serenity but can’t aver the problems that come when faith becomes an affront to enacted secular law.  (Enter Kim Davis on the Rightwing meme machine.)  We may each have, as Pope Francis said, a human right to conscientious objection but how is that without consequences for others too?  One wonders if that right to conscientious objection extends to the views of the Church on women’s health.  He assures us we will be “forgiven” for disagreeing or, worse, acting in ways that may honestly cause our conscience to be just as concerned for his belief in supernaturally conferred moral infallibility. 

Let us add too the craving for authoritative probity and worldly determination that informs the Republican’s impression that the CEO-class is America’s true leadership so that the objective of undisturbed corporate profit can sit comfortably next to a social agenda driven by an uncompromised religious conscience.  These memes may point to a politics of falsehood that disregards the realities of a shared diverse humanity but they are also clear policy objectives meant to be enacted.  And that is not madness.  That is a stated agenda that can be resisted, marginalized to the periphery of power, and consigned to dustbins of history. Madness would be sitting out another election and letting others vote for these policies.  The “crazies” are trying to take power: they have more power when we call them “crazy.” We’re never off the hook; but we’ll hang from the hooks others use if we choose not to take their views seriously.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Rising Tide

Enter Carly Fiorina, the latest flavor of Republican hell bent on repeating her own versions of self-aggrandizement indifferent to lies or truth.  She believes what she says not because it is true but because she believes in herself.   And this is something The Faithful require since the prerequisite to "truth" telling must be faith, the all-purpose sound byte that avers evidence or reason or reality.  There’s nothing more to it because there’s nothing the facts can do when conviction will suffice. 
That there are no such videos of abortion that Ms Fiorina used so effectively to manipulate her rise in the polls matters not one bit if there is a rise in the polls.  She may prove herself to be the great hope of the faction of Establishment Bankers that own the Old Republican Party: compliant to their bidding and a rouser of the rebellious who will also not rise to revolt against them.  That millions of women, especially the poor in America, would be denied healthcare if Ms. Fiorina’s plans go forward is only as important as her prospects, at least to her.  That we can count on.

One of the ironies of the Big Lie is that we so wish Goebbels had said it that it’s come to that, he said it whether or not he did.  “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.”  Someone said it but more importantly many others will repeat: the lessons of propaganda are as old as humankind.  In America the key is to say with feeling whatever you believe and with that douse of conviction that suffices to create a rise in the polls.  The pursuit of power is the all of it, lest we mistake the purpose.

Truth can never survive the declarations of “We the People.”  But the powerful dislike rebellion even more than they distrust the rabble they must entreat to vote for them and against their own interests.  That is the test of democracy in the age of the meme where fact-checkers are ill disposed to interject until the story has profited all and they too can sell their next story.  Power is about the money, but they’re rarely separable when fame lasts only as long as a news cycle.  What would Achilles have thought of that?  No longer regnant over the immortal, fame and fortune are now other forms of renewable and expendable energies, like drilling in the newly opened waters of the Arctic where we can witness the demise of human sustainability on all fronts.

Complexity always confounds and Occam notwithstanding the world is only to be reduced further at painful cost to reality.  Humans persist however both to hone the edge of that razor and to console with a simplicity that does not exist.  Global communication has not only revealed the depths of conflict but the insolubility of the condition that fuels our shared situation.  California burns and Marco Rubio makes jokes about bringing drinking water to the spectacle of the “debate.”  Fiorina and Trump discuss their respective business failures as qualifications for the Presidency.  Democrats look on aghast and yet refuse to admit that their own case has not proven effective enough to win enough voters to oppose the madness.  We are, as a species, running out the clock not because there are too few reasons to act but too many to understand.

It will take a collective will to alter destiny because fate has already taken hold: the past will determine the future because the present is absent, too convicted of its own beliefs to change course --- that would involve changing minds.  At least half of us refuse ever to admit as much and it will likely take far more than that to do the needful.  It’s not all gloom by any measure, the earth remains a beautiful place even if humanity doesn’t make the cut.  In the meantime, hold fast, the storm shows no sign of abating anytime soon.

Friday, September 18, 2015

The Republic of Bananas

Welcome to the Republic of Bananas. Who else remembers when Banana Republic sold, you know, stupit [sic] safari clothes and stores were dressed up like ersatz yoga huts that conjure a Costa Rica retreat center? Do you remember hearing Jethro Tull's "Bungle in the Jungle" and sound machine tropical birds before there were apps?

I bet you're wondering where this is going, if you've read this far. So, first the good news, the rest of the Keith Richards' new album came out today, which is almost enough to make up for the rest of this post. Start with Trouble: "Baby trouble is your middle name The trouble is that that's your game..."
You see, I've been writing to Hillary Clinton, not in any personal way, only through the usual Contact Me websitey ways and (add sad face here) she's not writing back. I'm hoping not to hear from the FBI or the IRS (small fries get supersized payback?) Of course, I remain inveterately polite, seriouslikeacollegeprofessor, and I'm never looking for Keithkinda'trouble. But the +political+ issue of our times is our BananaRepublicness, it originates before any stated policy and it's simple: Whose money do you take? What the candidate says means less than from whom they get their money, so The Boss calls the tune (and that's not just in the EStreetBand).
The latest PAC attack from a Clinton proxy against Sanders broke my heart and the good news is that Bernie supporters just gave him 1.5m in $34 increments in 24hrs. So after Bernie loses the nomination (remind yourself: you can do simple arithmetic in a southern primary accent, right?), will the people come out to stop Koch Industries Latest Acquisition (Rubio, Fiorina, Jeb!) even if the alternative is HRC, Inc. a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wall Street's Other Side of the Street? Ordinary people need not apply.
In a BananaRepublic---not the apparel kind---BigMoney buys the politicians. They then compete to appeal for the AngryRabble without drawing any attention to their Sponsors. Hence, the fake PAC names, "Americans for Prosperity"=KochBros Long Term Profit Fund, but you know this. The Republicans have a problem and it's not Trump, it's the discrepancy between BigMoney and TheRabble. We all know Trump can't be bought. That's the key to the conflict: BigMoney wants more outsourcing, offshoring, cheap immigrant labor, cheaper the better. What does the Rabble want? No more outsourcing, off shoring, or immigration. They will happily work for nothing and hate having affordable health care because Obama. So fear not! Fox will smooth over anything like the facts to secure the meme and the Nativists will find their champion in Jeb! or Carly or even EstablishmentKasich. They'll buy what they are told. Memes are genes. If you think Kasich or Bush aren't Just As Crazy, check out today's NYTimes here:…/crazy-talk-at-the-republican-debat…
I'm putting Keith's new record on repeat until November 9th 2016. All I ever dreamed to do be was Nicky Hopkins looking across the stage from the piano...Everybody needs something to dream about in a Republic of Bananas.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Summer of Trump and Life in the New Confederacy

I live in the New Confederacy.  It’s nowhere near the Old Confederacy but rather in rural western New York about forty miles from the city of Rochester.  I'm a college professor, the kind that corrupts young people into thinking for themselves and subverting every opinion including their own.  It's a quiet life out here in the sticks even after you pay attention, but paying just a little attention can be hazardous to your health.  It's unfair to paint in such broad strokes.  There are some other progressive folks here similarly sequestered behind fences, minding their business, working too hard to make ends meet to cause any ruckus.  And I'm particularly blessed with a very wonderful neighbor too.  We're ignored, I think, and that's the most we can hope for.  Lord knows, we'd not want any local attention.  But there's little doubt about prevailing sentiments.

As you drive the back roads here or go south through central Pennsylvania, other rural NY counties, or even west into Ohio you find the same messages no matter how the signs differ in detail.  ( battle flags are only slightly less on display after events in Charleston this past summer but there is a preferred substitution: the Gadsden ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ hanging beneath Old Glory with a lawn full of signs proclaiming various rights to bear arms or protests of infringement on those Second Amendment rights.  Here we get properly planted and framed signs urging us to “Repeal the Safe Act,” a response to Governor Cuomo’s signature legislation to enact gun safety and control the sale of assault weapons.  We are apparently in need of protecting ourselves from our fellow citizens, a government that is tyrannical and coming for our guns and taking our rights, and of course whoever else will not allow us to “Take Back Our Country.”  Whose country from whom?  The summer of Trump has made that perfectly clear.

The demographics of my Congressional district fits the profile that Professor Thomas Edsall describes in today’s NY Times.  I mean particularly the charts where older white folk are demonstrably under educated and intolerant of difference.  (Look here:  The issue is not much about securing one’s interests as it is deciding who we cannot tolerate.  While our Congressman votes for the Paul Ryan budget that would dismantle the social safety net, cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and provide no aid for our local education, infrastructure, or economic fortunes, my neighbors dutifully vote for him---despite the fact they require all of those services merely to survive and are so economically disadvantaged that they pay no taxes or the lowest rates.  Still it is guns and taxes that drive the conversation here, the nativist fear of immigrants, disdain for LGBT rights, and religious “freedom” issues no less present but somehow not quite the immanent danger posed elsewhere in the New Confederacy.  We have our share of fundamentalist religious because, you know, Jesus still saves but the meme here is more decidedly an isolationist fear of intervention from anyone.  Best to be alone and left alone, good fences make for good neighbors with no one else invited.  How neighborly.  Of course there's no one here to shew off your lawn…umm, land…but there’s plenty of reason to find allegiance with all of those other patriots intent on taking back their country.

The irony of the local cemeteries filled Union Civil War dead seems lost on the populace but perhaps that’s not the story.  Perhaps they never meant to fight for anything (dare I suggest against slavery) but only their perception of the Union.  That seems to be the current definition of America: my country and not theirs.  Rural whites, poor, undereducated, now older, and with plenty of time to watch Fox News and listen to Limbaugh on Talk Radio seem a solid majority here where almost no one lives, certainly no young people who don’t mean to replace their parents with more of the same.  I would have a harder time believing my neighbors aren’t arrant bigots but for the conversations that seem ubiquitous and unconcealed: Always a them and they take from the government that serves them and not us.  Things were better Back Then and have only gotten worse, what with our guns being threatened and our taxes so high, we pay for it all.  To find this discouraging or even outrageous leads you to the voting booth where you find only Republicans on the local ballot.  I'm not kidding about that.  There’s not even the pretense of diversity here, much less a challenge to small minds in my small town.

What we are witnessing today is an overt extremism that has taken over the Republican Party. The influence of Murdoch media and the rest cannot be underestimated because this is an age without facts, only memes. Nothing needs to be true, no evidence would even be believable, it is enough to stir feelings, make proclamations, and repeat them endlessly.

When characters like Goldwater and Reagan would fail the litmus tests of "conservatism" espoused by every presidential candidate on their dais, we have reached new benchmarks and a new tipping point. With Confederate battle flags still flying here in rural western NY what possible "heritage" could they be supporting? The other dog whistles and codes are more plentiful and no less explicit in meaning. We are a country deeply divided not as much by region but by the demographics that Professor Edsall presents: by race, age, education, rural vs. urban, and especially wealth.  All of these criteria of benchmarking and tipping points speak not only to inequities and disparities but to the threats of hostilities...on lawn signs.  Yikes.

Democrats and what’s left of sane people say that two things have to happen to pull matters back to a center of compromise where everyone loses and everyone still gets something they want: First, the R's have to lose again in another landslide. The problem with this argument is that the R's are immensely successful at the State and Local levels, their grasp on the House is currently unchangeable.  Between poor turnouts, gerrymandering, and demographics, rural America seemingly votes for nihilism, war, and the dismantlement of any government dedicated to the public weal.  R's have lost the last two presidential elections by landslide margins, have publicly voiced the need to change (remember their putative post-election autopsy?) and what has happened? Only more extremism while the Fox monster feeds the hungry a steady diet of more of the same.

Second, demographics need to change or to put it more bluntly, more old, rural white people need to die so that the majorities turn around and different, more tolerant coalitions take power. That may require us dying before that actually happens but there is a greater problem. The decisions of the SCOTUS (Citizens United, Hobby Lobby, the Voting Rights Act, etc.) coupled with State laws designed to disempower and disenfranchise voters may keep the narrowminded minority in power long after its expiration dates. If young people, minorities, women, and others don't wake up and vote now, there may be little left to salvage that is not already owned by the corporations of white male privilege. Plantation owners long ago persuaded poor working class whites that they should hate the other rather than notice their common economic interests: that is the heart of the "New Confederacy" which is alive and well here in rural western NY. Hating the 'guvmint has been the meme since Reagan and the fact that my neighbors are all on the government dole ---Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.---does not seem to dissuade them that the problem is taxes and "those people" who are takers.  So where’s hope and change in all this?  It lies in education and attitudes.  Oh right, we just voted to slash school budgets because we can’t afford to pay teachers.  Who needs teachers anyway.  One thing is for certain: we need Lincoln more than ever. 

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
---A. Lincoln, First Inaugural Address