Pinching me won’t help

I haven’t been commenting much about politics lately. I haven’t been writing much about anything. I have been collecting my thoughts, listening to what everybody else has said and is saying, and frankly have been somewhat in denial about the future of our executive branch and our way of life. But today I must say something. The events of the last several days have sent reality crashing down on me like the famous 1,000 plus-year-old Giant Sequoia we lost just days ago.

We are in an unparalleled existential crisis, not only for American democracy but for the human species and the entire planet. Dark days are ahead and it has already become dangerously difficult to avoid a catastrophic fate.

The confirmation hearings for cabinet and other important administration appointees are like Dad siding with your sister when she says you did it. We can protest with the truth all we want but the outcome is preordained. The gaslighting surrounding the claims and counterclaims of potentially treasonous personal and political behavior by POTUS has left us unsure and questioning everything about his relationship with foreign governments and their possible influence on our most intimate internal politics. Did he do this? Did they do that?

It’s hard to know what to believe, which to my mind is exactly the intention of Trump and his minions. The more mud in the water the less anyone can see clearly the truth. The doubt sewn here will mask the reality of future revelations of impropriety, whether true or false, a security blanket thrown over the chance any future indiscretions might harm his presidency.

Perhaps the least obvious but most damaging result of this telling series of events is that the Trump brain trust was not only able to deny the disturbing, disgusting allegations but was able to use that denial to fire the first volley in an attack on the free press, which, if I am correct, will be a battle that continues to be waged into the future. This is the truly scary result of this whole sick scenario. One of the first things to happen in the establishment of an authoritarian government is the destruction and/or capitulation of the press through lies and intimidation. Be afraid, be very afraid.

This frightening circumstance is accompanied by a thing I have been in complete denial about, the appointment of a murderers row of Cabinet heads and Federal Agency officials that in every case are well known to desire the abject destruction of the very department they will be overseeing. It is not folly to think that over time the federal government will be systematically dismantled. Once a SCOTUS justice is named and confirmed the social justice advances of a century or more will be in danger of being unceremoniously overturned. Draconian laws will be conceived, passed, and upheld.

We, in America, have been insulated from the coups, silent or violent, that have haunted so many other nations. We just don’t think it can happen here. We are the great democracy. We are free. We will never accept a dictator’s rule. Think again. This is the 21st century. The dictatorships of the 20th century no longer are valid save for what they have taught the tyrants of today. The modern totalitarian is an invisible puppeteer who allows the people the illusion of self-government. They sow the same seeds of death as their predecessors, but from behind an OZ-like screen of prosperity promised.

The election of President Obama was hailed in many circles as the hammer that brought down the wall of ignorant racism in America. A new coalition would change the face of American politics forever. But his election only precipitated the fear always present in the hearts of the oligarchs. They had allowed democracy to run its course, save for a little tough prodding when it got off track and their dominance was the slightest bit in doubt. But Obama’s election set off all the alarm bells. The rich white males who run things were truly threatened and now deathly afraid. So they brought down their own hammer, the hammer of ugly hatred, of racial, gender and ageist superiority, the hammer of I have wealth and you don’t.

Perhaps they had hoped to hold off for a while, let things slide as long as they were in control and raking in the dough. But as soon as their existence was truly threatened they knew they could only continue to rule by truly threatening our existence. Aren’t they aware that their gargantuan hubris threatens everyone’s existence? Have they no spiritual compass that tells them the truth about the finite nature of our natural resources, about the arrogant denial of their complicity in hastening the changes to our climate? Do they think they can defy death and take their ill-gotten gold with them when we all fry from splitting atoms, or poison atoms or burning atoms?

I’m at a loss as to what to do to reverse this, save to continue to do what I can, to love my neighbor and give of myself to those in need, to follow the God who speaks to me, who tells me there is a place for me and for all in an eternal kingdom. Perhaps I can start writing songs again. Maybe lighten a heart or two. But like the one percent of the one percent I have my unacceptable fears. I fear my children will feel pain and suffering, the torture of bearing the yoke of injustice. I fear for all the children of the world that they may never be able to become who they are. I fear that the human race will be snuffed out, unceremoniously, stabbed by a thief in the night, strangled from behind by a coward.

I am incensed. I will not accept. I will fight and resist incessantly in my own way. I will seek those real and good human values, values we all share and cast them as far and near as I can. I will become a fisher of men.

This may do nothing to change things. It may only assuage my guilt for allowing this to happen. Humanity can very well be in its death throes.

Damn, I hope I’m wrong

Be a part of the change (Diapers that is!)

For all my 3 readers a little caveat. I don’t often use this blog as a shameless shill for cool and meaningful events. But this one is special.

Operation Baby New Year, a diaper and baby wipe drive in the St. Cloud MN metro area, has gone viral locally and we want you to be part of it. Our goal is to raise 100,000 diapers by New Years Eve. We want to welcome in Baby New Year with a gift of diapers for the needy families served by five major social service organizations here in Lake Woebegon country.

There is a tremendous need for diapers for needy families, not only at this festive season but year round. Babies have no political biases or religious dogma. They carry no grudges and as we all know one of their three major activities involves diapers.

Like our Facebook page and spread the word nationwide. If you aren’t able to logistically get diapers to Central Minnesota and want to help, make out a check to “Friends of Whitney Dog Park” and send it to Operation Baby New Year, 718 15th St. SE St. Cloud MN 56304.

Visit our website http://operationbabynewyear.com for more info and to help us drive clicks. You’ll be glad you did.

It makes you feel so happy to donate a nappy (or a box).

The Zillionth Only Correct Opinion

Many alleged pundits have weighed in with their opinions of the whys and wherefores of the booty kicking taken by the Democrats this election cycle. As a would be has been, I feel it imperative I post my opinions on this issue onto my beloved blog. Even though no one ever reads this blog I do this simply for my own self aggrandizement.

The Democratic party is an urban party. Lots of people know this. It is why it has been so easy for Republicans to gerrymander. They are able to cram Democrats into gerrymandered districts for geographic reasons that appear logical and make “common sense”. The sheer numbers of urban and inner suburban voters vs. Rural and exurban voters has kept the Democrats viable and mostly dominant in urban districts, but in deep trouble in other districts. Nationally they are strong but locally they are weak.

The Northeast, West Coast and Northern tier of Midwestern states have more urban centers and/or philosophically progressive populations than the South and West. The Democrats are creeping into Mid Atlantic coastal states, because of their increased urban populations, and into the southwestern border states because of their increased minority populations. The exception is Arizona, which has large numbers of Conservative retirees. These states are getting more purple. The Republicans are making headway into states without a preponderance of urban centers, but who have progressively minded citizens. They are also working their way into states with large and devastated urban centers with rampant unemployment and strife. They flip these progressively inclined rural voters and desperate urban voters through fear, turning those states purple. Thus we have our swing states, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Ohio, Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin, and New Hampshire. Developing swing states include Texas, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Georgia, Arizona, Michigan. All of these states display some level of those divisive factors.

I believe the emotionally based electoral decisions of these voters are clearly informed. Rural voters hate welfare and they hate both perceived urban elitists and destitute city folk. I feel urban and minority voters hate Republicans for their essentially backwards looking conservatism and their embrace of social and economic biases. The bizarre thing about this hatred is that it originates in the exact same unequivocal American value that “all men are created equal”. But the concept of equality in America is vigorously contested. The equality rationale of the rural voter is because everyone is equal everyone should pull their own weight, by working hard. For them inequality is other people getting stuff for not working, when they themselves are working hard. For disgruntled urban workers equality is everyone having a job. Inequality for them is there being no jobs available for them, when others have jobs. Minorities see equality as equal rights. Inequality to them is others enjoying rights that they deserve, but do not have. Urban voters see equality as everyone being able to be who they are regardless of any social factor. Inequality for them is people who demand they have biblical social values and rigid, conformist gender identities. Of course these reasons are over generalized and there are certainly other factors and multitudes of crossover contempt at hand here, which I have not addressed.

I have thought about this a great deal, as you may have guessed. It is my contention that people get hung up in their particular vision of reality. They need to expand their appreciation of the complexity and diversity of the many issues that define us, as a people and a nation. The existence of a country that is concurrently homogeneous and culturally diverse seems contradictory and impossible. However, I see America as less a melting pot than a pot of rich soup. There is one overriding essence, a distinct and definitive flavor. But there are also the distinct individual flavors of the various ingredients. The oneness of the soup depends on the inclusion of all the ingredients.

We need to be taught that these issues, plus many others, are intertwined and interconnected, with each one influencing others. We also need to be be made painfully aware that there are cheaters and fraud in everything that involves money or privilege, and the fraud people see, in their anger, isn’t true for everyone they despise, just the few who would cheat at anything. We must accept that there are exceptions to all rules, but the exceptions don’t destroy the rules. There will be people who break your rules just as you may have broken theirs. It’s easy to point your focus at the salient exemplar, the Willie Horton, the welfare Cadillac mom. It’s harder to shine light on the stand up, play by the rules, good neighbor, who doesn’t care to be in the spotlight in the first place.

We could all do well to open ourselves to a larger sociopolitical universe. Rural voters could realize that not everyone on SNAP is a drug addict who doesn’t want to work and just sucks at the government teat. Disgruntled urban workers need to know that it is not government alone that has abandoned them and their crumbling cities. They need to know that a cruel combination of natural and contrived economic factors has left them nearly helpless. Minorities need to be aware that they are not the only Americans whose rights are being trampled. They could be more powerful and effective working together with other social justice activists, instead of staying trapped in their issue silo, sequestered from potential allies. Urban voters have to understand that, yes, they are elitists in many ways and there are more ways to skin a cat than they think. They must consider whether their brand of liberalism has a positive or negative impact on the nation as a whole. They need to develop empathy for the rest of the country, instead of judging them. Finally, I think we must somehow overcome the subtle yet incredibly effective propaganda that has kept the American people divided against itself. The joy of knowing truth has been replaced with fear inflamed by lies. The power of knowledge has given way to despair born of confusion. The art and psychology of persuasion has been honed to a fine point, and it cuts indiscriminately.

I believe nearly everyone, on both the left and right, thinks our nation is failing and our Democratic Constitutional Republic is in real existential danger. Where our great divide is, our unbridgeable gulf, is in our perceptions of the cause of this epic fail. To me it is simple. The right thinks government is the cause and the left thinks it’s wealthy oligarchs. The right thinks we are becoming a Socialist Dictatorship and the left says we are already an Oligarchy. I think the reality is a collusion of these factors, rather than one or the other. This is how we are pitted against ourselves. As long as we blame each other we do not notice the real villain at work, and we are unable to use our united power.

From my seat in the stands, albeit the nosebleed section, I see a nation where Plutocrats rule us from on high and remain hidden from us through the interference run for them by their minions. The focal point, the big boy that nobody trusts is Wall Street. The Plutocrats don’t trust it because of its volatility and entrepreneurial vitality. They can’t control it enough to assure themselves the massive earnings they crave. However the Plutocracy controls the capital that fuels Wall Street enough that, using the profit generated from that capital, the market can virtually purchase government, all three branches to a greater or lesser degree. Government doesn’t trust Wall Street either but it is nearly powerless to affect it’s stranglehold on the economy, or its ability to buy and influence government. Government though does have the power to dictate what hoops the people have to jump through to relate to and live in society. Since a plutocratic government does not exist for the people we do not like it no matter which party is in power. After a few years of very little getting done (they are allowed to get a few things done just to make us think they care) we get weary and elect the other bunch, getting tired of them in turn and electing the other guys again, ad nauseum.

Government, being the face of what is seen by the public, is what causes the ire of the conservative base. Progressives see Wall Street owning government and despise the corporations. The plutocrats are insulated by both the corporations and the government, from discovery. Very few of us ever see their machinations, their joy of being our puppeteers, their orgasms of manipulation. This hidden application of total power is by design. So the plutocrats control the corporations, who control the available money, which controls government, which controls the people. We are left to call each other names in the comments of thousands of blogs and more thousands of social media posts, while the big bosses of the big bosses do their damage and then laugh out loud over a Dirty Vodka Martini at the nineteenth hole.

Our task as citizens is daunting but not impossible. I dare say it will be left to our children and children’s children to complete it. First we must take over the government, all 3 branches, by electing courageous men and women, who will resist the temptation and influence of Wall Street, and break corporate control of government. We the people can then force these legislators, through our collective will, to change enough laws that we the people have power once again. Then, armed with renewed strength, and here is the difficult part, we must invade and infiltrate corporate boards and vote the Plutocrats’ lackeys out of power. This will require a sophisticated and perfectly coordinated effort by people with a combination of business expertise, unshakeable progressive values, and most crucially, superior skills in espionage and callous disregard for anyone’s welfare, including their own. I don’t believe anyone with that particular combination of characteristics is in a position of power today, but I have faith there will be many in the near future.

I also have faith in our children. Through evolution they are revealing daily just how dramatically they exceed us. They have knowledge and power we do not even understand, and they know love in a way we have lost from centuries of forgetting how. There is no other way to win back America for Americans. It must needs be cruel and vicious. They have been cruel and vicious for decades. I’m not saying it is the right thing to do. It is the only thing to do. Through taking over the corporations we can use that power the Plutocrats fear, that spirit of progress, to defy their will and cut off the head of the beast. Their amassed insane wealth will then be meaningless. Having nothing of value they will be powerless, and they may as well liquidate all their money into hundred dollar bills, buy a fleet of obsolete luxury liners, load them up, and dump it all into the ocean. It may be preposterous, it may be ridiculous, but this, dear friends, is my dream.