Saturday, November 28, 2020

A Tale of Two Narratives (Hint: Keep choosing the sane one, even if you're not sure.)

You might think that he'd figure out that his lawyers aren't very good at this or maybe, just maybe he really did lose. But he knows he's gone because he means to do as much damage as he can on the way out---evidence for the expedited arson is already in hand.

The story in semiotics and actions belies the goofy Twitter rhetoric, which however contradictory is part of the usual chaos pathology. Nothing but attention will do and there are only those that praise and the enemy. That'd obviously be us but it's always better to hit closer to home, especially when elected Republicans and judge appointees are dismissing your cases and ridiculing your claims.

When do the lawyers get the rap? Say, Rudy too? Or does Rudy stay to become part of the act? He looked bad with that hair dye make up thing but he might still want to be a useful idiot---there's so much money to be made for both. Stay with the cash, there are so few fingerposts that to follow the madness and impulse. The grift is on, not that it's ever off. Ther is serious money to be chased from those dupes.

To tighten the circle is not to lose the dupes, which is why the rest are treasonously silent---like nearly all the remaining Republican Senators. They want Georgia and if they just shut up and don't aggravate the dupes they will win both. Reality doesn't matter, results do. They're confused with what to do but have every reason to believe that he holds the power over voters they can't live without.

Of course, the Lincoln Project vows they will never forget but didn't he get 7 million MORE votes this last time? Fox has learned that you can make a lot of money with 40% of the country watching you. Majorities are just inconveniences that can be fixed with gerrymandering and other minority-rule devices, like Mitch himself.

The small type articles in The NYTimes are chronicling the packing of agencies, expedited schedules, attempts at irreversible policies and positions. It would be merely tiresome and annoying were it not tantamount to sedition (or is it treason?) and it's long term damage. Imagine if the 45th President of the United States actually, as is rumored, holds a rally _during_ the inauguration of the 46th? Which banana republic would that make us? Oh, this one?

So his behavior tells us he does know but the rhetoric, as is always the case, need not represent any fragment of truth so long as it foments more chaos, attention, and loyalty from the dupes. There are a lot of dupes whose money will soon flow regularly to Fearless Leader and that seems to be the core of the plan. He's gonna need a lot of cash both for debt and lawyers 'cause they're coming and soon.

In between raucous bouts of archaic Sanskrit, I listen most closely to the voices of Michael Cohen, the convicted lawyer, and the old Obama pair of Plouffe and Axelrod. Cohen has this once contrite and vindictive temperament that does nothing to make you like him more but he does seem to me to have a bead on Trump's psyche. No one else calls the Donald better for reading the inside out: Cohen knows that Trump is about money and winning and predictable if you know where to look. It's that lack of the later thing that's causing less of the other thing that's gonna be the biggest problem for Mr Trump if ya' follow then follow the money, always, got that?

The grifting enablers are close behind. The Obama adviser types inhabit a number of subsphere echo chambers but on blogs they drop f-bombs and feed on candor root. (Who knew? Are there candor root smoothies yet? Sounds, I dunno, yogic.) They keep you apprised of how the enablers and dupes are taking it and the scary mofo politics that is undermining small things, like the actual republic and democracy. Comforting, right?

Cool about Joe is that he is acting as if virtually none of Trump Insanity matters terribly much but for the damage it is doing. But that need not be said too loudly because Joe's whole schtick is that We the American People Can All Do This Together thing. He may well believe that. He may have to but he likely has to no matter what he feels 'cause pleading, even dissimulating some for the sake of hope is the exact opposite of the other guy. Never has the Two Narrative America been more exposed.

The difference between those two narratives is that Democrats care about the narrative because they are anything but unanimous over policies that will likely be achieved without help from Congress. Anyone sensible would think that we are in an age when "due order" legislation comes only under duress, that there is no functioning legislative branch because Mitch. Done.

I mean, there's a chance in Georgia but I think there won't be any split ballots and since when do white people do a good thing twice? If I won't take the bet does that make me cynical or just whispering 'cause Joe's messaging is the better even if he's wrong about any cooperation. He will get none, zero. No one will defy Mitch, much less Collins or even Romney. Does Trump still own their other choices?

This all suggests that we have actually made it to January 20th. Or can we say the 21st? Winter means we need to weather pandemic, holidays---whatever that means---political mayhem, scary economics, threats to world peace and world peas, shall I go on? I think we'd better talk about other stuff too, like poetry. Just to keep it real.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

How the Cult Eats Its Own and Carries On

Tucker's Dilemma

We all know that they fear the Mean Tweet of Great Leader. You just never know too when you do something, anything, that might win you an insult, an accusation, might stick you with a blame or reprove you for some slight, some failure to be in perfect fealty and concord with His Wishes. You can end up forever condemned but it is more likely you will be used for some future purpose. Nothing need be lost when there’s only the next con, the next need met. 

You are always trying to read his mind, anticipate what you need to say to win his approval. And still he might take you down. Even if you are Tucker Carlson daring to ask a question that is supposed to be another softball, to your benefit because, you know, Tucker is always happy to explain for you, pander, apologize or justify in advance before there’s any serious ask. Don’t ask, receive. Don’t care what others ask or want, just state your own “truth” as the true. If (or is it when?) the backlash comes you will panic, that’s part of the deal, but it’s always possible to win yourself back into His Graces because you were never promised anything. Life makes no promises but the ones granted: this is crux of the matter and warrants some more consideration.

In Trump world there are no promises. There are only deals, advantages, winning, and then when the con or the failure gets too hot the reprisals, denials, and on to the next bullying. Was that him just joking, a tease to test out an impulse? Bleech to clean your virus? Did he mean it? What does “meaning it” mean? Not even Bill Clinton was this good at working the meaning of meaning. That’s because words are meaningless beyond the need to win the moment or own the libs: there is no past or future apart from the moment won, and now exists solely for the purpose of being won, dominated, spoken over, commanded. Why do people tolerate being treated this way? It’s because they are encouraged to take up the same. You too can be The Donald. Someday.

We can agree to ignore anything we don’t prefer and take “seriously” whatever we like when that’s exactly the offer of His Example. When things invariably go sideways because of the disconnect between claim and reality, that doesn’t need to pose a problem. If reality catches up you are still in good posture for grievance and abdication. It wasn’t your fault and that’s not impossible in a world that really doesn’t promise much we do control. Most of what will happen to us that we don’t prefer is well beyond our control.

Instead of the pious denouement that it was all God’s will---that previous way to excuse and provide a means of rationalization that gives power to those doing the forgiving---the new task is to command and reclaim the moment. God’s power is now your own. You aren’t subject but sovereign. Prosperity gospel here we come. You never have to be forgiven if you are in fact never wrong. Why appeal to the infallible when you can become the infallible? Has there ever been any other kind of “infallibility” than the one merely asserted?

So don’t worry if you are accused of usurping God, they never meant there was a real God anyway, only the one that let’s you tell us what He is doing through you. You are in charge, not reality. This is a vital step too in accepting the Great Leader’s ways because you want the same thing and he tells you to be like him, do what he does. Remember that the world is yours for the making. You want to be in command, no matter what reality is telling you, regardless of any evidence or facts. You need to be in command because otherwise the world will get you, others will rob you, everything you cherish will be taken from you. To stop them you must never relent in being right in this very moment. The reason nothing like reality or the facts or truth gets in the way of what you want is because you are free. Don’t Tread On Me. The Blue Line Support the Police Flag in the midst of this black versus white world. The evil ones are black and you aren’t. That gives you license to make justice and do what you need to stand your ground. You’ll get away with it. He does. Old Glory on the porch, in the yard, standing tall is telling you that yours is the cause of the patriot. The patriot embodies freedom.

He does whatever he wants whenever he wants it. If that takes money and time and privilege, well, The Leader is showing you that you can do it because he’s doing it. He not has your interests in mind, he represents your goals. So whatever you want, nothing is stopping you. Whether its guns or masks or violence when you feel like---whatever you can imagine or hallucinate, you really can get away with when reality is just whatever you say next.

The words you use can be meaningless or at any time dismissed or disavowed. They can just as easily be asserted and defended---the difference between meaning it and not is pure exigency. For weeks he might deride you or praise or damn you with both but nothing sticks but for now. Nothing will be remembered. There is no future that can’t be reinvented into another now. The world as you want it is yours for the insistence. Use whatever goad you have until the injury can’t be denied, until whatever you say “sticks”. Truth never matters, only what you say.

Now this kind of world must not be granted its power. For it is powerful, because it is not the truth that is powerful or sets you free but power that will take the form of your delusion, dangerous as that may be. We must all out the fakery, the lies, call for the facts, demand that reality presides at the trial of decency and that decency and, yes, truth is worth fighting for. Not because truth sets you free or wins in the face of falsity but because of what happens when we do not make truth an honest aspiration. Truth doesn’t rule the world, it serves honesty and decency and those must be choices we make in a world that neither cares or demands their being at all.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Where the Delusional Cult Goes From Here, And How We All Depend on Truths We Can Source

If the Trump Cult fails according to the template we can expect a transition of power---Biden will be President on January 20th and the insanity will have "lost," for now. It's not going to be that simple because in this case the cult is no small faction or isolate. It is now a major political party with millions of followers whose leaders offer fealty and act principally out of fear of reprisals. We will have to see what happens now that Tucker Carlson has strayed from the fold by asking for evidence in the face of belief and the Leaders assertions. 

The Cult won't break but it may in the face of its failure winnow some of its peripherals. The Leaders claims to victory now stand in direct contrast to stated claims and so there is going to be need of some revisionary thinking. After all, when Jesus didn't show up again and the world didn't end on time, they needed a new bumper sticker, some rebranding, and another story to scam. Trump will carry on with the deceit that he "won," which will never be denied. It need not be. Grievance has always been at the heart of the scam's explanation of any loss and eventually the lies will stick. The Cult will list his victories, claim they were cheated, but that they will rise again. This isn't going away. There is history here.

There can never be any admission of the facts, much less feelings of culpability or having been scammed. But there is some falling away in the numbers when the failure becomes potent enough to penetrate the emotional moats and parapets that have kept them "safely" locked inside the madness. This makes those still locked into the cult that much more fanatical. 

The sane Republicans have long left but the rest will not peel off until they no longer fear their own personal loss. They mean to survive with or without their Mad King and though the majority would rather be rid of him, that is not as important as maintaining power. With power comes the thrill and the grift, and whether or not they need the money, the grift is always a thrill. There is no interest but self-interest.

The powerful within the Cult know as well as we do that they need the Mad King's dupes. If the dupes don't show they can't win at all. They know how his wrath puts their self-interest in peril and what they must do to avoid that disaffection as far as possible. Mitch knows this better than all the rest. They will do whatever they must to stay in power at any cost and no moral treason or complicity with evil is beneath them. There are no principles or values so much as there is power to be used for whatever purpose it might to enrich themselves. They are thinking of their future and with that in mind it's easy to explain their vulgarity, moral turpitude and mendacity. 

The election may not be stolen as of today but neither will it have ever been won. That is Trump's accomplishment so long as half of the country is nothing better than his Cult. There is only one party that has any democratic values left, that plays as if the old rules and norms might still provide the facades of democracy. Republicans will continue the talk because they regard themselves the true patriots. The rest of us have no flags in our yards, no permanent yard signs for the causes of liberty, like guns and Jesus, and no right to govern after a fair election. We must now must face the fact that their claims of delegitimization are their new norm.

When Democrats win they couldn't have really won because nothing is true but what we believe by being told. This new paradigm isn't more than another version of the old one: democracy never actually mattered. . People like Democrats have no right to govern nor even to participate if that is possible. Notice the way it has unfolded even this cycle: suppress the vote, deny access, claim fraud and demand recounts, and when that doesn't work simply say that the votes shouldn't count and dismiss the entire process. We should recognize that none of these claims or values are new: the Trump Cult is a furtherance of the racist white nationalism we have known in America since 1619.

Who gets to rule has never really been in question, now has it? I'm not so cynical as to believe that there has been no progress. But I am realist to think that authoritarianism has always been an option if white power is in jeopardy. 

For now I think we can expect the remnants of the republic to survive. But it sure was close. Think for a moment what would have been unleashed had Trump won. I know, I know. But let's think of what this surviving will look like. The damage is to the system of values that likely determines the fate of the system itself.

Limbaugh laid out the mission plainly. He called it the four corners of deceit: government, academia, science, and the media. Repeat ad nauseam with conviction and bullying insistence that all of these sources of information and means to knowledge lack every legitimacy and, well, you have the Trump Cult version of the Republican Party.

Think for a moment how much a functioning society depends on these sources and institutions. Truth does not depend on you. You depend on the truth. All of these institutional ways of deciding what is true are flawed because they are human. They are all incomplete. They are all provisional in some way or another. All must admit mistakes and redress failures, errors, and serious sins of understanding, judgment, and character. But without them, we have nothing like social knowledge or the capacity for successful individual discernment. Without them all we have are individuals with opinions. Good luck with that.

The Cult will, like other cults, be forced for the moment to capitulate to the reality they can't completely bully, manipulate, or control. What usually happens next is that the Cult Leader retires to, say, her trust fund and the follower-core quietly regroups according to the new terms of insularity: they carry on as devoted as ever but with a new detachment from the world that has wronged them. This kind of defeat might promise a return to some previous normalcy since the cult has retreated back into its bunkers.

What happens when the cult is nigh on 70 million people? That's a religion. And the tyranny of religions are even more virulent, persistent, and dangerous. We should not expect the Republican Cult return to its previous religion. It's got a new set of "facts" now and it's going to be far more dangerous.
Democrats would be wise to take up two strategies given the fact that they are going to be reviled, thwarted, delegitimized, and hated. First, take the high road as Biden and Obama and the rest suggest. Why? Because we can stand for something better and should. We can't expect better from our opposition to whom we are the enemy. But secondly---and this is what Biden and Obama can't say for political reasons too---that our opposition is no friend to democracy's foundations, that it is opposed to truth itself, that it is willfully delusional. 

Limbaugh understood how to change the paradigm of a common discourse and so create an alternative world. We who must accept that our social facts work their way through institutions that depend on method, honesty, and character will be dealing with those who reject every bit of these truths. They reject not only the facts but what the very ways we believe facts exist at all. 

America's partisanship is not rooted in disagreements about policies of governance. We who voted out the Cult Leader have saved our souls for now. The quorum of the sane is not being ruled by a delusional demagogue. But half the country wishes it were. And that is the problem. They want the delusion, they prefer their prejudices, preferences, privileges and choices over anything that is said by government, academia, science, or the media. There are no such reputable resources of knowledge and there are no professionals working their human tasks with integrity.

We're in for a lot more of the worst of this pandemic---more social spread, less control of the disease and death---because half the country prefers their delusions. The other half includes those creating the vaccines that will allow the delusional to claim when it suits them that it was all a hoax. America isn't fighting for its soul so much as it will be fighting off the delusional whose desperation, ignorance, and willful copmplicities may ruin our fragile experiments with governance. Democracy demands social truths and half of us are denying they exist.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Disbelief as Asset and Vulnerability, Knowledge as Trust and Accountability

Rajanaka taught me to follow the evidence, be prepared to change my mind (not that anyone likes to do that), and look with askance upon certainty. Certainty is, after all, more dangerous than ignorance. Misinformation helps form the shadow of doubt when we are eager (for any number of reasons) or have reason to be particularly suspect. And we do have such reasons given how many times we've been lied to by people who put on reputation with the mantle of righteous.

I like to think that we are folks who like to ask questions, who use doubt creatively, and remember that information is human, can be revised, and is only as good as we are. We think of information as requiring responsibility for sources and methods but know we have to rely on others for much of that. After all, what do _you_ really know about the science of epidemiology? We need reputable others to be reputable.

I'd like to think we consider maturity an important feature to use experience as a guide, and then there are the critical skills and education we need to help us navigate _with_ doubt and experimentation as a feature of learning. It's no small matter sorting out what we feel, what we think we know, and what's true. Yes, there are facts too. We must learn with them in order to learn from them. This is not easy either.

I'd like to think we know well that we must trust and have confidence in people, even when they are bound to let us down---we're all human, and the best of us falter. So we fancy that we are not the believer types who lay down to authority but who know there's not much without confidence and accountability. On all of these matters we'd make good candidates for our own doubt-theorying becoming vulnerable to misuse or breakdown.

Having now received at least three replies to my note regarding critical thinking from offended Trumpist yogis I think we can safely say that their arguments are that our arguments are fake, based on misinformation and "the media." We are not being critical thinkers because our sources are defacto false.

It's not only that they are Fox or QAnon sourced---though that seems to be as much the case. Rather, it is a strain in yoga worlds, that seem to follow lines in other "progressive" worlds, that thinks the anything institutional must be wholly suspect or false. There is no _measure_ of doubt so much as there is only doubt and then there is certainty. Making uncertainty a feature of both is unfamiliar as is the importance of having clarity about the intelligence we all need to function.

Somehow facts can't exist if there are corporations or, say, pharmaceutical companies _only_ trying to profit by making you sick. (The anti-vaxxer thing functions as a trickle down delusion). The whole world can't be trusted but for "my" sources or tribe; the need to belong or the fear of expulsion work their own insidious alchemies on human decision making.

This may be a different _kind_ of suspicion rather than an extremist degree. We could posit that such a degree of suspicion would make more sense if it didn't go so far out into the wilderness. After all, we _are_ being grifted and robbed and misused and lied to---it's not like we don't remember cigarette company executives, so what makes FB or any other profiteer different? There is little doubt that people will use other people for any purpose. Sad, true, always a part of our concerns.

But it is the degree of commitment to unreliable sources coupled to how critical thinking does its best work what now sets matters apart. Professional journalists, doctors and other health experts, your neighbors counting votes---everyone is not to be trusted? Because there is a meme repeated by another source? First, one has to step further and further to the edge, to the place where _everything_ is suspicion and doubt. Critical thinking instead demands that we ask why we are suspicious and what is worth doubting. It's not "doubt everything"; it's how to learn about doubting so that you can get to the business of knowing.

Next, one would have to discredit all of the "mainstream" as something "other": can't trust "them." Now you claim your own sources, to which you are committed. What prevents unchecked avenues of disinformation when you believe _your_ sources but not the process, method, or people who are doing the work of accountability?

And that is the crux of the matter. Accountability, like doubt and truth, takes work, real work; it takes skills learned and cultivated so that we can understand that the world of experience is information that must be measured to be understood.

Rajanaka, if it is anything, is the commitment to cultivating the skills we need for a healthy intellectual, emotional, and ethical human experience. We may not always get it right because we are humans living in spheres of information that must acknowledge and create limits and boundaries in order to expand our efforts to know. But let us continue to try to learn, with hearts and minds at work.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Politics at the Altar of White Nationalism

The former Republican Party has made explicit that it's path to white nationalism is now complete. Strangely enough, the coup won't be Trump maintaining power over a duly elected President Biden. It will be that the only major political opposition to those who seek governance based on sane institutions and values of democracy has forsaken truth and democracy both. Alternative facts weren't new. They were the Trump restatement of the old snake oil that poisons truth itself with the cultic assertions of well-defined eco-system.

Why does the MAGA base believe Trump's tweet delusions and what keeps them going down this path? I think we can set aside the elected toadies in Congress and elsewhere for the moment: the only they care about is re-election. Their job is more important than the truth or their country: they fear the Leader. But why does the need for delusion cut so deeply?

The key is the link to evangelical Christianity and its long reach. Let us first remind ourselves that low information and the quality of information that envelops these communities and conversations is all they know. But even if there is more familiarity with other news, these claims and conspiracies are what they deem to be true. The rest is not only false but beyond the pale, the work of evil people committed to the end of their rightful Christian nation. Theirs is an entitlement: America is their white Christian nation and it is being lost.

Trump advances a newer version of the tired, fictional, deeply dangerous and corrupting Lost Cause narrative that fostered the post-Reconstruction effort to use grievance to resist obedience to (new) law or provoke any meaningful change. We have wildly underestimated the number of rural white people who have been taught to dismiss, scapegoat, and project their grievances on people of color and others perceived to be threatening to their status quo or entitlement to power. That kind of racist, nationalist fervor is deeply tied to the _ethos_ of Christian apocalypticism, _even for those who don't make a point of espousing such doctrine. The world is ending and the devil is at the bottom of it all. We must stop "them." Ours is the righteous cause.

My point is that one doesn't have to make this overtly religious---though even the most cursory look at the closed media and information spheres tells you that it is front and center. Let us not forget that Christianity began as a apocalyptic movement on the fringe that used aggrieved martyrdom as recruitment tools and evidence of their righteous cause.

Going to the fringe and living in a kind of isolation, a world of alternative facts and predictions and beliefs, is their _normal_ state of affairs. To deny science is to reinforce the claim to their own forms of sacred knowledge that must fight forces of secular evil. To extend the claim of that knowledge from discussions of the afterlife and the end of the world to a politics of nihilism and self-asserted truth is stock in trade, nothing unusual. Ask Constantine. He too understood the power of religion to create empire.

Given how our systems and institutions were created to protect minority rights and prejudice in favor of minority rule, we can expect Republicans will go to _any_ fringe, the new QAnon class in Congress is just the beginning. The crazier it is, the more likely it will be elected in worlds in which there is little to stop the cycles of disinformation and aggrieved claims that the faithful elect must rise up to prevent the work of those representing the devil.

Of course the end of the world is always coming, particularly tomorrow and then tomorrow, but what makes this plausible is that it makes its adherents feel better _today_. There is still hope that we will be marched into the promised land by the one who truly knows the way. Trumpism is not going away anytime soon no matter what Trump does.

And if you think that the end of the world message is a little contrary to the hope it engenders, remember that this hope for savior and salvation comes to the worthy, to the unyielding, to those who know their rightful place in God's kingdom. They also know that they will be berated, insulted by "elites" and voices of secular evil, and that their persecution and pain is tempered by their willingness to "rise up." This was the language of a Trump appointee this morning in response to the evil governor of Michigan addressing the pandemic with new measures based on science. The language was in perfect religious code.

Now reduce any or all of this to a particular issue----coal, guns, abortion, police, immigration---and you can focus in on smaller groups, demographics and locations, individuals in their trucks with the constant barrage and, well, now it's _easy_. The larger end of the world that must be stopped is _your_ issue and it can be the sole reason to vote and certainly enough reason to join the crusade.

How do we avoid this madness from seizing power? The bad news is that it has, in some form or another, always been in power in America. Every effort to progress and compromise is likely to be rebuffed, ignored, or actively obstructed. "Constitutionalism" will mean that anything not explicitly stated or interpreted as they see fit will be delegitimized. Biden will never really be President for some 30% or more?

We are in for a very, very rough ride and democracy itself is on the line. I think Joe is going to need all of the sane people to care, no matter what their politics.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

America's Fraud

I think it's time to get honest about what is most likely going to unfold as a "nation." As whole-heartedly as I endorse and deeply admire President-Elect Biden's efforts to unite and reconcile and compromise, I think there is almost no chance that anything meaningful will be accomplished in Congress.

We will have an executive that will do what it can---and that is a great deal. But we have no consensus, no _united_ States. America: it was a good idea. But we are effectively a confederacy with a few institutional centers, like the military and, if Trump doesn't destroy them, a State Department and Intelligence. They too are executive but there is no reason to think that there is no functioning democratic government that rallies to common cause.

We should expect now that Republicans will now dispute every election, claim fraud, and consider elected officials, beginning of course with Biden, as illegitimate. In effect, Trumpism appears to have rearranged democracy such that we cannot convince our opposition that there actually is democracy. Game over it seems.

There will be no serious legislation that provides pandemic relief to individuals or businesses, not nearly on the scale that will make a serious difference. There will be no legislation on climate change---the most pressing global issue of our age even if by executive action we re-enter the world stage through the Paris Accords. There will be no real infrastructure or education bills, certainly no gun control legislation, no comprehensive immigration reform, and absolutely nothing to advance race equality and economic justice.

The federal government will reflect our honest irreconcilable differences. We are a partisan nation and, as far as I am concerned, there is no reason to suggest that Republicans will act in good faith or that Democrats are somewhat "equally" responsible for the deadlock. The Grim Reaper will insure that there is effectively no government whatsoever but the continued stacking of the courts. That fact will also have lasting consequences since we can expect Republican judges to strike down whenever possible laws that apply to all---civil rights, voting, healthcare, women's rights, and whatever agendas they can devolve to the States. Roe v. Wade may very well be struck down and once again women's health issues are in the hands of the States (at best).

But therein lies whatever we can say further about life in America. I happen to reside in the pre-dead dead red part of New York where since Nixon these rural white people have elected governments that have left the impoverished, isolated, and helpless. And apparently they like it the way. Downstate or, say, in most places in California or Vermont, there will be an entirely different quality of life and government will function to do its job through Democratic leadership.

In short, Blue States and Blue bubbles will have to take charge to enact local laws while we as a nation do nothing constructive and fail to advance a collective good. The Confederacy is not a southern fact in 2020 but it does apply to whole States and to most of rural America. Politically speaking there is no effective difference between Alabama and western New York. People in Ohio and South Carolina are now firmly entrenched: rural Red, urban Blue and modest differences in suburbs.

All of this optimistic talk about turning around Ohio, Florida, Texas, etc. is largely nonsense: that is the true lesson of the Trump Election. Half of America is not listening to us and there will be as little change as possible. Georgia is interesting because the urban and suburban areas are growing and changing with income, with Blue-ness as a set of values and ideas. But it will be a miracle if in an off-year or special election Georgia elects Democrats to the Senate. I could be wrong about that but I wouldn't be the farm.

So as I see it, it's best to lower our expectations and try to find _local_ lives in communities that reflect our values. Let the Red go its own way, it will rot and fail and, yes, that will cost all of us. But America does not have a functional citizenry. Half of the nation wants to be in another century, living in a world that never existed, clinging to guns, religion, and backwardness.

I want to say I am sorry to Black people and to young people especially who will inherit a nation that is far behind the rest of the civilized world. I wish I could live in a Blue Bubble but that's not my lot in life, so for the most part I will ignore my neighbors and hang here or visit civilized places. I need to stop being mad and stop feeling like somehow it's going to change. It may, eventually, but not with the well-meaning Biden-Harris administration: they can expect ZERO help from Republicans because their people don't want what we want and never will.  They just want to be left alone.  I think we should given them what they want so long as we do everything we can to protect rights and make what progress is possible.

There's no point trying to persuade and little reason to care for what they do. We must try to keep a semblance of decency and what we can not to become a banana republic with a big army. But we are an oligarchy and a nation in which half of the population that votes are unqualified for the 21st century, for mature democracy itself. I admire those who will fight for the good policies but I think should learn our lesson about white America, particularly rural and under-educated white America. Once they are a true minority then we the majority will not have to ruled by them. Until then stalemate is the best we can hope for. The oligarchs have won and the dupes have chosen their regressive leaders.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Biden's Steady Ship and Trump's Incitements to Violence

We know we can expect even worse from Trump and his minions for weeks to come. We know that his media enablers, particularly Fox, Breitbart, Rush, InfoWars, and the rest, will do their part to further the lies and disinformation. They form a threat to the republic in ways our 18th century founding documents did not anticipate. How could have they?

Are the delays in transition dangerous and unprecedented? Are they a violation of all decency and norms of the republic? Are they costing lives because governance is failing and COVID is raging? This and so much more are the reasons why Trump has failed in every way: moral treason and vile incompetence are his trademarks. Take heart: he is being driven from office by the voice of democracy.

Trump may yet incite violence and the "Charlottesville crowd" is armed and ready across Red nation. Even if larger social media outlets step up to their responsibilities, we should not underestimate the insidious efforts of his media enablers over at Fox. There is money to be made and since when has the good of the republic and the common weal been more important to them than money? The grift is always at the bottom of these enablers. Always follow the money. That too is at the bottom of the Mad King's plot.

The alternative universe of lies and disinformation is real because some 70 million will only believe them and have no regard for the facts or the truth. It doesn't matter how many will pull themselves away from their games of Jeopardy and the NFL to bring their guns into the streets. It only takes one with an AR-15 and there may well be more than one. Can a democracy actually function without trust in the truth? Without the facts and the confidence of civil discourse? What do we do with the Republican leadership that refuses sanity because they serve the Mad King and his cult? We are indeed in territories more like 1860 than any other time in our history.

Do remember that Lincoln too stood calmly in the midst of rebellion and never gave the rebels the status they sought or claimed. Biden appears to me to emulating this kind of leadership, albeit without States in open rebellion. The Republican Trumpist Cult seems governed only tweet and the rightwing commentators who tell them what to think and what to do. The elected defy the rightwing media at their peril it seems and we cannot expect them to act like adults, much less citizens of a functioning democracy.

But democracy _has_ functioned because their claims are proven false and the election has been won. They are more dangerous than petulant children who cannot accept defeat, their willingness to soothe the Beast is reprehensible because it is _costing lives_. We must be stalwart and like Lincoln I think Biden is uniquely qualified for this role now as any and we are lucky to have him.

Take note:

Biden is dealing with this attempted coup the way he promised to govern: with calm, deliberate clarity and with a hand extended to those who supported Trump. We can also expect him to have the appropriate army of lawyers to deal with the crazies and to be deep in conversations with those who will form the administration. He will fulfill his promise to be a steadying force and to nominate a cabinet that looks like America, particularly those communities who have always been under represented. Now if we can make it to January and the good people of Georgia show up to create a functioning Senate, America still stands a chance.

&&&& More from 11 November's news...

The Devil's Bargain is Power at All Costs

McConnell knows that Trump has lost the presidency and that by January when the Georgia Senate runoffs are held that he and his toadies can no longer sustain the dangerous, vile fiction of election fraud. They don't care about the country or national security or any of the other implications of the Mad King's madness. They don't want to cross him because that is how they keep power and continue to grift. So for now they must uphold all of his lies, albeit with tepid enthusiasm because they know this house of cards is going to fall with Electoral College certification. Because they don't care about democracy, they wouldn't mind if Trump stole the election. It's that sickening.

But craven elected Republicans know it's not even likely, maybe it is impossible because legal remedies are running out and the money that runs them don't want civil war, only because it's bad for business. Kochs want to sell stuff and they pay McConnell's bills. Trump doesn't care if there is civil war, so long as it is for him and about him, just like everything else.

Perhaps democracy wins. But as soon as McConnell and the Toadies abandon Trump for the truth then Trump will abandon them, which means that those two imbecile candidates from Georgia may not get further Trump support. McConnell thinks they are both going to win no matter what Trump does but he would rather those victories come in due course without Trump causing more damage. After all, Perdue and Loeffler will continue to kiss the ring and worse but once McConnell tacitly admits Trump has lost, Trump will see the whole Republican Party as disloyal to him. Trump will lash out at all who have not laid down their lives for him, and that mildly worries McConnell. Still, you see McConnell going along with the lies for now and mostly laying low if he can. He only cares not to make the Trump Cult hostile to him so that he can use them again.

McConnell and the toadies need Trump to keep the cult riled up because then they will certainly show up in January in Georgia. In the meantime, Democrats must keep their Georgia voters motivated because they are certainly the long shot under these best of circumstances---it is still Georgia even if it is now sorta'purple and went blue because of lots of suburban and black voters. McConnell needs every vote but is likely to get them no matter what Trump says or does, so long as he doesn't antagonize the dupes.

As we know, McConnell doesn't care about anything but being in power, and so in the majority. It's not ideology, it's power. With power comes money and influence. The oligarchs want both and they own Mitch. Trump never cares about anything but himself. The rightwing media wants the Trump frenzy to continue all the way to civil war because they want to cash out and don't give a fuck about democracy or decency. Carlson is the front runner if Trump doesn't begin to run again immediately---it's all about the money. Trump win or lose is setting himself up for Cult TV, which will bring him billions in subscriptions every month. In the meantime, the country gets sicker and sicker with COVID.

If Mitch gets his way in Georgia, which he thinks will happen no matter what Trump does, Biden will be thwarted Obama-style for four full years. There will be no reconciliation and it doesn't matter if Biden tries to cut deals with Romney, Toomey, Collins, or Murkowski. Mitch will continue ruin America because nothing will come to the floor.

Biden will undo much of the damage but democracy will be failing because governance means nothing happens---and that stalemate is now our death as any sort of successful civilization. Mitch believes that the oligarchs will survive and thrive as the rest of the world burns and dies from pandemic.

The Republicans couldn't be more depraved but actually they will be. Democrats only stand a chance if somehow they win those seats in Georgia. I'm not betting on that, are you? The headlight coming down the tracks is bearing down on planet Earth. Just when that train crashes into what's left of America remains to be seen. There's still time to derail the Cult and Mitch but Democrats need pretty much a miracle, if you ask me. Nobody asked, I know, I know.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

We Will Do This Together

The State of the Union is on the line. There will be a tomorrow one way or the other. It's going to be hard even in victory. I am thankful for all of those far more vulnerable than I who have had the courage and the goodness to protest, to show up, to vote. They are the soul of the country in a country that we must also admit is soulless, craven, and incorrigible.

Biden may not have been your choice but he has defined the matter appropriately, in the right words with the right tone: it is the battle for the soul of the country that is truly at stake. And you will have to admit that Biden has run a far more disciplined, honest, and nearly gaffe-free campaign when none of us thought that was going to happen. It's hard to follow someone as charismatic and talented as Barack Obama and the machine turned up against him has largely failed: if he doesn't win the failure will belong to America.

Trump is indifferent to death and suffering, bereft of any truth or shard of decency. The choice isn't yet for policy and the arguments that will ensue. It is for sanity. We must get through the worst of it and then see if we can rebuild and transform in ways that admit to shadows and real failures and not forget that human ideals must never be forsaken despite hypocrisy and systemic failure. Remember that Trump wants us to think it's all for suckers, all fake and fraud but our selfishness. It must not be.

The American political "Founders" didn't imagine much less share our ideals even if they provided the most important words. Liberty, equality, justice--- we all know the words because they their meaning has not be realized and even if we can't imagine how to make all of that real, we must imagine that it is real just to make life worth living.

I can assure that desceration will continue to happen even if we win. I think we are feeling frail today because it has been three, almost four full years of this vile madness and it is exhausting.

He doesn't tell lies, he is a lie. There's no hidden strategy to destroy the country, it's all out in the open. The told us what they were going to do. They don't give a fuck. Not about anything but themselves and that seems to be our complaint about his cult too. Trump will be president win or lose today and we must do more even to make it to January. We will not give up on each other no matter what happens. We can decide after the results what is worth saving and then what is worth creating, if we can.

The world may forgive us this mistake but should not forgive us if we make it again. Will anyone take us or want us? But to remain in a country that demonstrates nothing better than a wanton disregard for human life, that will ignore disease and tear children from their families, that will no longer be a country my family will endure further. I am sincere in my wish that this does not come to pass. And we will know soon enough.

We will soon have the next thing before us. In the meantime, hold fast. Tonight we will have a  Watch Party.   I'm bringing Glenfiddich along not because it's my favorite but because it was a gift and I will love it more than what is my favorite because it came from one of you. We will do whatever it takes, together.

Monday, November 2, 2020

The Day Before the Days After

Will America take the next step to being a multi-racial, multi-ethnic democracy or choose rule by the authoritarian minority? It seems to me that there are two ways that we can fail this test and only one way---maybe---we can head off certain debacle.

First, the majority fails to appear in the crucial places where the system itself games the process. Come Wednesday morning Joe Biden will have received more votes for President than any candidate _ever_. That overwhelming majority will be made possible by the majorities principally in California, NY, NJ, and Illinois. The map of America will look balkanized with coasts and corners providing majorities. It's what happens everywhere else, where fewer people and more dirt decides.

But we are not governed by majority rule, however absurd and unjust that is---and that fact offers the minority a way it can win. There are more votes in cities and suburbs still than all of those rural white people who are going to show up for the dictator. I hope Biden Harris inspire enough on election day either to vote for them or to stop this menace that must be stopped. There will be no election in four years should they somehow lose honestly.

It is the second way the Trump Cult formerly known as the Republicans win: they steal it. They can do that by stopping the count, repressing the vote, and doing whatever is possible to advance their stated agenda, which is to reject democracy. Senator Mike Lee put it plainly enough---they all say aloud what was once just whispers and dog whistles and, of course, they can't spell: "“Democracy isn’t the objective; liberty, peace, and prospefity are. We want the human condition to flourish. Rank democracy can thwart that,” he wrote, misspelling prosperity."

So we know that we can't count on Republicans to support the very principles of democratic government because they prefer authoritarianism that promises their own specific version of "law and order." Hannah Arendt described such movements of populist fascism many years ago and we would be naive to believe that they no longer appeal, especially to those whose power is threatened by real elections.

Biden-Harris will have an army of lawyers and the Trump Cult will bring violence to the story too and, of course, blame it on "those people." They are a sickness, not political opponents. They will have help from the corrupted Justice Department leadership, from their packed Courts, particularly the Covid Barrett Court, and as we have already seen, from police and others with "legal" guns.

I don't expect a peaceful transition of power because they mean not to permit power's transition. So is there remedy? I am among those who believe the math is what we gots. I'm not counting on the good people of Pennsylvania to make this clear on election night by coming out in overwhelming numbers. I have driven through Pennsyltucky, or I used to when we still went places, and it's no different from where I live: backward looking and desperate, gunshots and homemade Trump signs, poor, white, and, quite honestly, hopelessly lost in Fox Nation.

You see, the vast majority of Republicans are telling pollsters and are being told by Fox that Trump will in fact win the popular vote and all the rest---by fantastic margins. This is what they have been told and all the rest is Fake news (<---Trumpian capitalization). Fox entertainment, along with its "news" division, has fed the beast and the beast is ready to act, ready to believe that the stunning defeat that awaits them is false, fraud, fake, stolen. That portends some real trouble, folks.

Democrats fret because they are closer to media that is closer to the facts. Repbulicans have signed on to a much smaller world of information, almost all of it purposefully designed to grift in disinformation. We are not only a partisan and polarized nation.

We live in at least two different _worlds_. Democrats being more diverse live in multiple worlds---many of which are rife with their own disinformation, like the leftist anti-vaxxers and the Biden take-down machine fueled by propagandists. But at least there is more than Fox, Breitbart, The Daily Caller, and Rush.

What is before us even if there is a declared victory for Biden will be months of deeply disturbing events meant to steal back what was rightfully won. If NC, GA, FL, and TX go Blue on election night---and all of their votes should be counted by Thursday---perhaps there will be relief. This is why a genuine landslide, not just resounding victory, is my deepest wish. So there is little to do now but get out the vote on Tuesday and hope that Democrats have not already exhausted the votes still on the table.

The Cult will be out, literally in force. We must not submit or succumb to their intimidations. And if there is any America worth saving then there will be a show of democracy that gives the country yet another chance. One way or the other, the referendum isn't just on Trumpism, it's on America itself.