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A favorite argument of the Confederate monument defenders is that those who are trying to take them down are destroying history. They we are whitewashing it. That we are making future generations ignorant of history by destroying them, and that they will be the poorer for it.

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My governor, Governor Abbot of Texas, just weighed in on this issue on Wednesday.

“But we must remember that our history isn’t perfect,” Abbott added. “If we do not learn from our history, we are doomed to repeat it. Instead of trying to bury our past, we must learn from it and ensure it doesn’t happen again. Tearing down monuments won’t erase our nation’s past, and it doesn’t advance our nation’s future.

What my governor, and all like him overlook, is that these monuments were never about history.  History is best taught in museums, in schools, in books, in articles, on historical tours, all of which can provide the context and details that will allow a person to understand the history.

A stone or metal statue can and does do none of that.  What they do instead though is show what values a society values   They provide a tangible form to intangible societal beliefs and ideals.

This is something that those who created and raised these monuments understood.  It is why they so often have inscriptions that make this very plain, such as that that once was on the Battle of Liberty Place monument (taken down in 2017).

McEnery and Penn, having been elected governor and lieutenant-governor by the white people, were duly installed bb this overthrow of carpetbag government, ousting the usurpers, Governor Kellogg (white) and Lieutenant –Governor Antoine (colored).

United States troops took over the state government and reinstated the usurpers but the national election of November 1876 recognized white supremacy in the south and gave us our state.

Values, not history is what is being shown here.

The same holds true for the vast majority of other statues and monuments. When not explicitly inscribed in the monument, it is explicitly inscribed in the words of the newspapers and speeches of the time on why this or that confederate monument was raised.   A testament to white supremacy.  A testament to white superiority.

This should be something so obviously true that there should be no dispute. A monument to honor the Confederacy – an almost country created to preserve and protect the ideal that whites can own blacks as easily and as morally as they can own a dog and the ideal that whites are supreme race – can be nothing else.

These were not monuments to men and history. They were monuments to the ideals of white supremacy. Their primary intent was not to remind people of a historical person or event, but rather to remind both whites and blacks of their place.

These monuments were raised to promote the values of the Klu Klux Klan. They were raised to promote the values of Jim Crow.  They were raised to promote the values of white supremacy.

Those values are, or should be, our shame now.

 

I just saw, again, a claim that our government is not a democracy.  Instead, according to this person and an unfortunately high number of other individuals, it is a Republic.   Although this person did not, others making similar statements will often add that it is a Constitutional Republic.  Now, while they are correct that we are a constitutional republic, they are wrong that such is not also a democracy. 

Now, while this might seem an unimportant issue and one more deserving of Trivial Pursuit instead of serious consideration and refutation, it is not.  Something I will go over after I try another way to quickly explain the reality of our form of government.  An explanation making use of man’s best friend, dogs.

The core mistake of those who deny our government is a democracy is in not understanding the bottom line in its definition.  They believe that a democracy only refers to the people directly voting on issues and decisions, and that such a process has no limits in regards to its power.  Given this understanding they are, quite rightly, concerned about possible and even likely abuses from this sort of government. 

However, they misunderstand the basic meaning of a democratic government, one summarize by the first three words of our Constitution – “We the People”.  A democratic government is one in which the people have ultimate power.  However, how that power is manifested can vary. To name just three (there are several other types and subtypes):

  • Direct Democracy, one in which people vote directly on issues and policies. 
  • Representative Democracy, one in which people vote for individuals to represent them  maintaining control though by such individuals having to be elected. 

Now, both Direct and Representative Democracy can become as autocratic as any dictatorship.  There needs to be limits on what can and can’t be done.  Which is where the third category comes in.    

  • A Constitutional Republic.  As in a representative democracy, people still vote for individuals to represent and decide for them.  There is still the control through having to be re-elected periodically.  However, there are checks on what the government can and cannot do, a check on rampant mob rule in which those with minority views have no rights.  A Constitution.

In regards to Democracy and its types, think of it this way.  Dogs are wonderful animals, and have been part of our society for millennia.  However, there are a great many types of dogs – Chihuahuas, Saint Bernards, Labradors, Bull Dogs, Shar Peis, Terriers, and on and on.  Different sizes, different colors, different amounts of fur, different shapes of snouts and heads and body’s, different behaviors.  Yet, despite these differences they are all dogs – “a domesticated carnivorous mammal that typically has a long snout, an acute sense of smell, nonretractable claws, and a barking, howling, or whining voice”

So too with Democracy – a government by the people.  And just as there are varied types of dogs that share the same characteristic despite their differences, so too with democracies.  To deny one type of democracy is rather like saying a German Shepherd is a dog but a dachshund is not. 

Now, claiming that a dachshund is not a dog is an eccentricity.  However, claiming that we do not live in a democracy is not; it has some more serious consequences. 

First and foremost, it denies the main saving grace of a democracy which is usually messy and  slow – the government is responsible to those it is the government of.  Elected officials can be tossed out of office and a new person put in place, effectively making the ruled the rulers.  To say our government is not a democracy is to deny one of its foundational strengths. 

This feedback mechanism allows democracies to be noisily, messily, inefficiently and at times somewhat violently, more stable than dictatorships, kings, and other systems of government.  It also means that democracies can change course more easily (not easily, just more so than other systems), which in our changing world is a plus. 

However, when you deny that we live in a democracy we become something other than “We the people”.   People’s votes don’t matter.  Instead, you get geography and land mattering more.  You get arguments that city people are determining who wins (not true by the way).  Or that the more helpless (city again) are winning out over those who are not helpless. 

In other words, instead of we the people it becomes a “we” in the country, or “we” who are survivalists, or “we” whatever instead of a whole nation.  Conditions can be put on whose vote counts the most, or even count at all.  This is one of the reasons why those who believe we do not live in a democracy are not so concerned with getting all citizens to vote, and not counting all the votes that have come in. 

There is also a danger when the representatives with the fewest votes are elected and their election justified as being right.  It leaves those whose candidate lost, despite having more votes, feeling disenfranchised.  It leaves them feeling that their vote does not count as much as another’s.  For a government founded upon the will of the people, that is dangerous. 

Ironically, most of these people say they love our constitution and that our form of government is the best in the world.  Yet, by their denial of a foundational aspect of that Constitution and our government they undermine what they profess to love. 

The Family of Me, and Fear

There is going to be a great amount of research and analysis on why the Republicans won so much more than expected and why trump, contrary to expectations, in many ways did so good.  And I imagine my views will be modified some by my reading and consideration of such.  However, I am confident of one thing, of one aspect of this surprising election result – “Me” and Fear underlay most of it.

Me, and its closely related family members I, My, Mine, Them, Those, You were linked together by trump and the Republicans in opposing family of US, Ours, We.   The link was forged with Fear. 

For the Me people, all that happens is interpreted solely through the filter of Me.  My rights, even though it denies the reality of those whose rights are not as full and strong.  I am willing to take the risk, even though it puts others at risk of life and health.  My Freedom even though it ignores the fact that others freedoms are not as expansive, or as protected or even as existent as mine.

There is no institutional racism because I don’t experience it, I don’t see it, I don’t feel the headwinds against me when applying for jobs while black, while a woman;   I don’t feel fear from being pulled over by police;  the color and shape of my skin did not affect my education, my jobs, my promotions, my income, my area where I live.  Therefor those are nothing more than excuses made to avoid personal responsibility. 

There are only two genders and one sexual orientation because that is the way I feel.  That is all I see, no matter what. Therefor those who claim differently are making a perverse choice. One that should not impact My right to not only disagree on this but to act and promote actions based on the disagreement in terms of hiring, education, jobs, where to live, medical care.   

I am not sick from COVID.  And I am willing to assume the risk of not wearing a mask and not following social distancing, which is My right and my freedom.  Never mind that doing so increases the risk of those around me.  It is My rights and freedoms at risk here. 

And it is the They, the Them, the Other that is the enemy of that freedom, My freedom.  It is the fear of the other, the fear for the loss of My freedom and rights that drove the vote for Republicans and trump.  Both, but especially trump, played on that fear constantly.  It was a drumbeat emphasizing the differences and the dangers of those differences. 

The Other defined as invaders, murderers, rapists, looters, rioters, socialists, fascists, both snowflakes and yet dangerous at the same time destroying property and lives while at the same time being wimps.  Allowing the Others to have the same rights as me is a threat to My rights and freedom. 

Some words from our early history come to mind right now.  United We Stand, Divided We Fall.  A House divided against itself cannot stand.  We must all hang together, or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.  We the People.    

On this election, we let fear and Me divide us. 

This is not to say that there will not be significant disagreements and differences, that there will not be arguments both fierce and polite.  But, it is to say that in such disagreements there will be no denying that we are all Americans.  No crying that one is less worthy of having their rights protected and of receiving the benefits and protections all Americans are using.  No using fear as the weapon of choice. 

I know that there are those who will now claim that I am doing the same – trump and his supporters, including republicans, against us.  However, there is a difference.  We are against those who would use fear to divide us and to sow hatred.  They are the ones who have doing the sowing. 

That is a significant difference.  And without this intolerance for such fear and hatred, fear and hatred would soon rule the day.  While we are not yet at that day, we are much, much closer to it than I had hoped we were. 

Today…….today my idea about who we are as a nation has been shown to be false.  While I knew we had never met them, I had thought that we had made progress and were closer to actually meeting the ideals enshrined in the words of our Declaration of Independence.   Last night I found out that we are still very far from doing so.  That the country that I love is not who I thought it was. 

Yes, we are a nation concerned with freedoms, but only for those that are like “me”, that have my political views, my skin color, my religious views…that are like me.  All other’s freedoms are only roadblocks to me fully exercising my freedom and should be limited.  Otherwise my freedom is being torn from me. 

Yes, we are a nation concerned about justice, but only for those that are like “me”, that have my political views, my skin color, my religious views…. That are like me.  All other’s cries for justice and pointing out of facts showing inequalities in justice are nothing more than an excuse for their bad behavior, their inability to control themselves.  Those people need to stop whining and playing the victim, to man up and take responsibility for their own failings.  

Yes, we are a nation concerned about economic opportunity, but only for those that are like “me”, that have my political views, my skin color, my religious views…. That are like me.  All other’s are nothing more than special pleadings for why they are still poor, playing the victim again instead of taking control of their own destiny.  Society and government owes such citizens nothing, no matter the history, no matter the present.  Do not take away my belief that a person’s destiny is determined solely and totally upon their own abilities and will.  Society, history, culture, laws, and government have nothing to do with economic success.  To pretend otherwise is nothing more than playing the victim again instead of taking personal responsibility. 

Yes, we are a nation concerned about equality, but only for those that are like “me”, that have my political views, my skin color, my religious views…. That are like me.  All discrimination was eliminated in the 1960s and this pretense that it still exists, that this history still affects the present is nothing more than playing the victim in order to get special treatment.  Institutional racism is a myth, no matter what numbers or facts are given in support of it. 

And so on down the line – women’s rights,  immigrants both legal and illegal, those with different views of gender identity and orientation, those of other religious beliefs, and on and on; they were the losers.  The “Me” won. 

The value of a society that supports its members, of a culture that values differences, of a government that provides a level playing field and protects its members that are most at risk and foster opportunities for all is gone.  Instead, we are a society of the Me.  My freedom over all, no matter the cost to others. The value and necessity of cooperation and the  group has been tossed out and spit upon, ground underfoot.   Fear and self-centeredness won out over hope and community.   

Instead of a nation of “We the People”, we are proving ourselves to be a nation of “Me the Only”.

As I write this the presidential election is still up in the air.  I hope Biden wins.  And that the Democrats can get at least a 50/50 split in the Senate. But the fact that it is still up in the air at all right now, that the Senate is more likely to still be Republican instead of Democrat is a stunning indictment and a repudiation of any ideals we might have had of being a nation that cares about others, about justice, about equality, about opportunity.  Instead we are a nation of Me and only Me.

Instead of turning the corner and repairing the damage done over the last four years, the best that can be expected is a slowing of the decline of America.  The worst….the loss of our democracy and freedoms, even for those of the Me. 

Later I will press on in doing my own small part in working to turn our ideals into a reality.  But for today, I mourn and my view of our nation and its people are deeply tarnished. 

How to Believe Lies 101

Given the state of our nation, and our politics, I thought it might be useful to create a summary for those who would support trump.

Find one fact that supports the lie. 

This fact doesn’t have to be a complete fact. It doesn’t even have to be an important one.  Just one fact that is unequivocally true that you can use to support that lie.  In fact, it is usually best if the fact you are clinging to is not the most relevant or important one. Once found, cling to it with all your might.  Never let it go, never let it out of your sight.  Use it frequently, especially when the other side marshals a tidal wave of other facts.  It is your lifeline, your protection. 

EXAMPLE – “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election”   Letter from AG Barr. 

Ignore the fact that the Mueller report documents many instances of questionable actions on the part of trump and his administration in regards to Russia. Redirect to scandals of other administrations (they don’t have to be real ones) when the number of trump helpers who were charged and tried and convicted is brought up.  Blow off the many times trump has been soft and accommodating to Russia.  Ignore such things as the fact that the Republican Senate committee found the Russia was working to get trump elected.

EXAMPLE:  Dr. Fauci said that we should not wear masks.  

Ignore the fact that Dr. Fauci said this early in the course of this pandemic when the evidence was not fully in on the effectiveness of masks at protecting the wearer and preventing the spread of COVID.  Also ignore the fact that at this time there was a shortage of masks, and Dr. Fauci was wanting to prioritize the masks that were available for medical staff. 

And if they bring up that changing your views and advice based on evidence is how science works and why it is so reliable, just chant “experts flip flop, experts flip flop” over and over again until the annoyance goes away. 

Do not ever question your belief

Your belief, totally supported by that one fact, is unequivocally and unalterably true.  All other so called facts must be made to fit into this truth, no matter how much they appear to conflict.  Yes, this may involve some twisting, tearing, mangling and/or ignoring of inconvenient facts. But, it is all for the greater good of the Truth.  When needed, bring out a conspiracy or cabal of people who are trying to hide the truth or create fake facts.  In fact, I should point out that creating conspiracies to explain the discrepancy between your views and reality is almost a necessity. So, embrace them fully.

Example: QAnon is a very nice example of such.

Do question the motivations of those who oppose your views

It is so blindingly obvious that what you believe is true is indeed true, that those who disagree must be have some other motive besides a true and honest disagreement.  Idiocy perhaps.  A political agenda, quite likely.  A hatred for you and all you hold true, almost certainly true. 

EXAMPLES:  Those promoting the wearing of masks are cowards and afraid, the Democrats are trying to wreck the country in order to win the elections, and it is a way for the government to control the people and take away your guns.  Note how believing this lie leads to conspiracy theory. As Is aid earlier, embrace that fully and fervently. It is a good shield.

Denigrate the source and not what it says

You can indeed save time and effort by not bothering to read and address an article if it comes from a source you know is wrong. And you know it is always wrong because it so often publishes pieces that disagree with you.  Besides, reading them would be subversive since they are clearly the enemy of the people.   

EXAMPLE:  the following have been labelled as fake news by our president and so anything they publish is not worth even reading much less considering – CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Washington Post, LA Times, NYT, Time, Newsweek, and a whole slew of others. 

Find like minded people who believe the same lies you do

Finding others who echo that one true fact that supports or your views creates a deeper resonance. As well as gives you a warm fuzzy feeling.  It makes it seem that you are part of the great majority, a great movement.  You are indeed part of We the People.  At least, of the people who really count and matter.  Hearing the echo of your beliefs supports you in continuing to believe in the rightness of your cause and lie. 

EXAMPLE:  Listen to Sean Hannity, Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and such.  Get news form the Blazer, the Federalist, Breitbart News, PJ Media, Twitchy and similar sites.  For those wanting to actually meet people, militias are always a good spot to hook up.  Depending on your beliefs about blacks and minorities, your local KKK, Nazi, and Aryan Nation are good possibilities.  For others, Proud Boys and the Boogaloo Bois. 

While this may not be all inclusive, it does cover the main points.  Spend some time mastering these critical elements.  It is easy to do and easy to maintain, almost like it is part of human nature.  About five or six minutes should do for you to pick up the basics. 

And one final thing you need to do consistently in order to protect your beliefs – never, ever think too long, too hard, or too broadly about anything.   

Now that you have mastered these techniques, go out there and find a lie you like and hold it tight and never give it up!

Amer I can

A trait shared among trump supporters, libertarians and extreme conservatives – groups that overlap in varying degrees but are not the same – is their extreme emphasis on the individual above all.  This emphasis is so strong that to me they could properly be called Amer-I-cans. 

Now, I am sure that many of those within those groups would take this play upon American as a compliment.  I can.  I can survive without others, I can be self sufficient, I can live totally independently, I can overcome anything on my own.  To an extent these are worthy sentiments.  However, only to an extent.  And those in these groups go way beyond the worthy extent.  So far beyond that it becomes a liability and a danger to those whom they live among.

Those members of these groups disregard and severely minimize society and its importance.  Which means that they ignore one of the primary traits of who we are as a species – a highly social animal.  It is one of the traits that has over the many millennia protected and enabled our species to survive and prosper.  Society is critical to the survival of our species, and of us as individuals.

Yet, despite this reality, they would deny the importance of society in shaping and sustaining the I.  And deny that the I has any responsibility to society. 

Let me use our current crisis with the coronavirus, and the I’s who refuse to wear masks as an example.  In my many conversations with several of this group, it matters not how many times I state that the purpose of a mask is to protect others, not yourself, they always make  it out to be about protecting the self.  And then proceed from there to say that they are willing to take that risk, while ignoring the fact that they are not the ones at risk by not wearing it, it is those around them. 

“If you are worried about getting it wear your mask.  I’m not giving up my freedom and I’ll risk it.”

“We take risks all the time; when we drive, when we eat shellfish.  Who decides that hugging grandma is too dangerous. 

“I understand that there is a minuscule possibility that I will get it.”

“Go back and hide in your basement then, and wear your mask if you are scared of COVID”. 

Many more similar statements are made by those who champion not wearing masks as a great fight for individual freedom.  Notice the one common denominator here?  They are all about the risk to “I” and not a consideration given the risk to us as a group, to those around them and society.  And our country. 

The liberty and freedom of I is being threatened even though I am willing to take the risk!  Notice though how though I never connects with others.  Never considers, or at least not for long, the risk to others.  The fact that the mask is not for their protection but for those around them never lingers in their brains long.   Every conversation I have had with such a person always circles around to that if I am scared wear the mask, but they are not scared because they know that they are younger and healthy and not at risk, that very few people get it, that they are willing to take a risk to protect their freedoms.  Never the realization that the  mask protects others, that by not wearing it they  could be infecting others, others who may be at much higher risk, or who may be in contact with those who are at much higher risk or who may not be willing to die for the I’s freedom to not wear a mask.

This is, by the way, often linked to the concept of freedom and fear, of being brave and bold, and of loving freedom.  I am brave, I am bold, I love my freedom.  I I I I I I I, never concerned with the we.  As I said in another blog on a similar topic, Warm Hearts, Cold Reason, these people may have warm and loving relationships with family and friends. But, beyond that, it is the I, the self centered, even to the point of not understanding what a mask is for.  Instead, it’s use must be twisted to serve the purpose of the I, and not the we.

While I used the mask as an example, this trait, this focus on the I to the exclusion of the we, and even to the denial of the we, impacts many issues of the day – from policing and justice, to economic equity, to universal healthcare.  Taxes and regulations are two other areas this impacts.  While both can be overdone and wrongly done, our major problem today is that they are not done enough overall. 

Taxes, the I should not pay taxes, period.  Taxes, in their mind, is robbing I to provide for others not as able and willing to take care of themselves as well as I have.  Education – no.  Healthcare – no. Anything that benefits others in society; libraries, parks, etc. – no.  Zero is the goal, but any reduction is acceptable, even if it impacts only the rich and corporate.

Regulations – the I should not be fettered. And this includes businesses as well as individuals.  No matter the costs to pollution and environment. No matter the cost to consumers and little businesses.  The I values unfettered freedom above all. 

This is a mindset that that justifies advocacy of the I and unfettered freedom above all with the belief that individuals can do all regardless of obstacles. 

While too much focus on the we can stifle individual freedoms and rights, too much focus on the I destroys the rights for people to even exist.  Today, in too much of our politics, we have the latter problem, and it has harmed us to the count of 216,000… and counting.  It has harmed us in that, based solely on the color of their skin, upon the structure of their plumbing, upon who they love and their identity, not all of our citizens cannot freely engage in the pursuit of happiness.  Often they cannot even enjoy life and liberty and justice. 

That needs to change.  We need to acknowledge not only the value but the critical importance of We the People. 

I write of flunkies and toadies, of venal ambitious men, and of men good and true who help evil while trying to do good.  I write of those who duck and cover and cover and bide their time hoping to survive the raging storm, and of the true believer. 

No leader comes to power on their own. So, today, I write of those who allow and uphold evil leaders. 

I have just finished reading the second volume of Volker Ullrich’s excellent biography of Hitler, “Hitler: Downfall” last week.  From that I immediately plunged into Woodward’s informative book on trump, “Rage”.  

As in my earlier blog on Hitler and trump – trump and Hitler, the US today and Germany Then: A Comparison -, I was again struck by the many similarities between trump and Hitler in how they do things, but even more so by their differences. Hitler, for example, was by far the more intelligent and well informed of the two.  He was also the one most strongly motivated by ideology, a hate filled ideology. trump by contrast, has no moral or ideological compass beyond his own ego and needs of the moment, which, while it may not lead to a holocaust and butchery of millions of others, does give rise to its own evil consequences.

I also noted that while there are similarities in how they run their immediate administration, Hitler’s was usually by design. trump is more like the Peter Sellers character Chance in the movie “Being There”, except much more malevolent and egotistical. 

However, what now struck me most was the similarities in the actions and motivations of those in power who helped Hitler’s rise, and then supported him all the way to the destruction of Germany, and those who now support trump.  This support is of critical importance in understanding what is happening today.  The Senate was supposed to be a bulwark against such as trump who is a tool (at best) of Russia, corrupt, incompetent, destructive, uncaring of the Constitution and the institutions of the United States, and with no empathy for anyone other than himself.  Except for a few very brief moments, the Senate has almost totally failed in that function. 

From what I can see, these people, the Hitler enablers and trump enablers, fall into four broad, porous, and somewhat overlapping groups. 

The first group were those who thought that they could control trump and, at the least, prevent him from harming the country.  It is one reason why some good men accepted positions in trump’s administration.  These men, out of concern for the country, thought they could help shape trump’s actions and words and policies and thus prevent him from harming the nation. They helped evil out of a desire to protect the United States and its people. These included men such as Dan Coats, James Mattis, John Kelly, Rex Tillerson and other now former members of trump’s administration. Let me emphasize the word “former” as they failed to contain trump and are now no longer part of his administration.  Just as the German politicians who thought they could limit and control Hitler failed. 

What is interesting in comparing Nazi Germany and the US today, I do not see many German politicians falling squarely into this group.  Oh, there were some for the good of Germany involved, especially with President Hindenburg. But for the majority it was much more for their own political good. Thus, these German politicians more properly belong as a subset within the second group: those that looked to derive political benefit from trump or Hitler.  Within this category I see two subsets – one that thought they could control him while benefiting, and the other who was more concerned about the benefit and not so much about the control.  Again, significant overlap between the two subsets, but still a difference. 

In Germany, the Weimer Republic was having a great deal of difficulty in forming a government.  Chancellor Papen, President Hindenburg, and their advisors thought that they could control Hitler and harness his populist appeal.  Getting Hitler on board, with his right wing populist group, would give them the numbers of representatives needed and support they needed to form a government with these enablers in charge and allow them to weather the current economic storm that was buffeting Germany.  It also helped that Papen saw this as a chance to get revenge on a political rival.  Most of these men thought that they could control Hitler, and, despite giving him the Chancellorship, would have him “hemmed in” with the other appointments.   Within 18 months though, Hitler controlled Germany. 

For trump and the US the political motivation for supporting trump was more varied; judicial appointments, banning abortion, preventing LGBTQ rights and protections, raise up Christianity within the government,  decrease taxes, eliminate protections for the environment, move to a neo-isolationism instead of involvement with the world, and other issues. And of course, to further the wealth of the wealthy.  Their goal was to gain on the issue what was most important to them, with no regard to the cost to the country and their fellow citizens.  The politicians who thought they could control their respective populist demon rousers underestimated them. Not just once, but time and again.  At least in the beginning. 

Along with this was, of course, those seeking political power for the sake of power.  Some of these politicians, such as Senator McConnell, had an early start on this. Others, such as Lindsey Graham, came on after trump.  However, both are supporting trump in order to gain politically, and without regards to the cost to the country.  

The third category are those intimidated and just trying to keep their political careers alive.  They are afraid of trump’s power within the Republican party and with his hard core base.  While political survival is important – those who live can fight again another day – it is not the end all of goals.  Concern solely with political survival without a concern to that survival’s cost to our country and institutions is unacceptable. 

And then there is the last category, the true believers.  For Hitler, these were Goering, Goebbels, and others, those who had started with him during his street days.  For trump, these were often family members who also had a financial interest in sticking with him, as well as acquaintances from his other enterprises, such as Bannon.   And some senators such as Senator Luther Strange. 

For most of those in these categories, what they got with trump is more than they had expected. More destruction, more chaos, more hatred. But, for various reasons, they have committed themselves to riding the tiger no matter how much it gores our country. 

Now, having noted the similarities in those who politically enabled trump and Hitler, let me now mention some of the differences.  The biggest and most important difference is the strength and broad support for democracy in the US.  We have been a democracy for over 200 years, and have strong democratic institutions.  The Weimar Republic, not so much.  Democracy was new for the Germans the, and many of the politicians, and even most of the people, believed that a strong hand was needed, a dictator. 

These strengths of the United States can be seen in the fact that there is still so much political opposition to trump that even many prominent Republicans are voting for Biden, that trump loses most of the court cases about his actions and policies (more so than any modern president, despite how many justices he has put in place), that there are still legal actions going on against him from before he became president, that the House turned blue in 2018.  And the recent unanimous Senate resolution for the peaceful transfer of power after the election. All of these and more demonstrate how much more robust our democratic institutions are than the Weimer’s Republic.  It is the reason that, so far, trump has not become the dictator that so many of his followers blindly want him to be (and yet they think they are supporting democracy in so doing). 

But, should trump get another four years, and the Republicans in the Senate continue to hold the majority and enable him as they have been doing, then I think that will change.  It will take eight years instead of a year and a half, but the results would be the same – the destruction of a democratic government and a move towards autocracy. 

That is why this coming election is of critical importance. It will be the proof that our democracy can weather the venal, the greedy, the corrupt, and not slide into the blood soaked tyranny that Nazi Germany became. 

Nothing More Than Feelings

A few days ago the Texas Board of Education held a meeting for public comment on the standards for several areas of the school curriculum.  While I was able to testify in regards to the Science standards and Climate Change, due to my own mistake, I went to the wrong Zoom meeting room to testify for the Health Standards.  This is one mistake that I greatly regret, as I was going to talk about the need to add LGBTQ Inclusion into the curriculum.  

While missing my chance to provide my testimony, I listened to others’ testimony.  While many were good and well thought out, and often emotional personal testimony, others’, while often emotional also showed disturbing amounts of ignorance and even hatred, sometimes disguised as being reasonable objections.  Occasionally there would be back and forth between some of the Board members and those providing testimony, and there were times during this when I really wished I could have jumped in and responded. 

One of those times was when someone dismissed all of the LGBTQ community as being based only on feelings, not on facts.  In other words, a person’s gender identity and sexual orientation and expression were only airy nothings, and so were not real and should not be taught.    

While I am not going to address this here, I would note that, while still in its infancy, there are studies indicating that there are differences within the brain of those who are LGBTQ and those who are CIS and straight.  But, as I said, I am not going to go there for this blog.  Instead, I am going to address the claim that the actions of those who are gay, who are trans, who are nonbinary, who are Bi and all the other categories of sexual identity and expression are based upon nothing more than feelings.  Only feelings

Let me state that the person objecting to the inclusion of LGBTQ people because their actions were based on feelings is absolutely correct.  They are based on feelings.  However, where he and others who think similarly are wrong is believing that this is nothing.  Instead of being nothing, feelings are the most powerful and common driver of human actions. 

Let me ask, do you love someone?  A spouse, children, parents, siblings, friends?  Would you go above and way beyond for those you love?  Work three jobs to support them, listen to them and provide comfort, give of your time to be with them even when worn out and tired?  Would you be willing to kill or die to protect them? 

I imagine I know how most would respond.  I know how I would respond.  And yet, love is nothing more than a feeling, an insubstantial wisp.  Yet it is a wisp that causes people to try to move mountains, and to even succeed at times. 

To say that those who are LGBTQ are acting only on feelings is to say that they are acting on the strongest and most human of motivations.  It is not an argument against inclusion and denial, but, rather, an argument for inclusion and acceptance. 

Addendum

Because I was so frustrated and mad at myself at missing my chance to testify before the Texas State Board of Education, I am going to assuage that frustration slightly by providing a short edited bit of what would have been my testimony, which also provides information on the personal reason why this issue is important to me.

“My wife and I are straight and cis, as is one of my daughters. However, my other daughter is Bi. Which, turned out to be a very good thing because her partner, who she thought was a man, one that she fell in love with and married, discovered after several years of dissatisfaction, that she was trans. Her gender identity was female and not male. 

Unlike many other couples though, my daughter accepted her now wife. She realized, as her wife said, that her wife’s experience was a clarifying one, not a transformative one. That the person my daughter married was still the same good person.  Unfortunately though, many see those with different gender identities and expressions as being dangerously different – worthy of being bullied, shunned, and denied their rights to even exist. 

Growing up and discovering your sexual identity and expression, and what it means is difficult enough for those with the more traditional cis identity. For those of other identities, it can become a nightmare, one leading to depression, anxiety, being bullied, and even death. Any child, any person, who is excluded and made to feel inferior, or worse, a perverse mistake, is not only harming that child and person, but our society.

Warm Hearts, Cold Reasons

The great majority of those who support trump and who deny the seriousness of our coronavirus pandemic are good and caring people in their personal lives.  They will willingly help their neighbors, family, and friends without being asked.  They volunteer in their community.  They hurt when something bad happens to a member of their community. They can be good and loving spouses and parents.  And yet…

When it comes to the current pandemic these warm and caring people become as cold as gravestones.  It is not so much that their hearts become uncaring, but that their minds come up with reasons to ignore the danger and toll of this pandemic, reasons that are cold enough to freeze their hearts.

These people say that it mainly affects the old and the sick, and those with pre-existing conditions.  They state that the conditions of most of those who died from COVID were terminal anyway.  These loving people with the grave hearts point out, with suitable commentary on how to understand it, that nursing homes with the elderly and the sick, people who are on death’s door, had a high number of deaths and account for most deaths, and even then mainly due to the poor and often criminal actions on the parts of mayors who stuffed people into nursing centers. 

Only the old.  Only the terminally ill.  Only those with health issues.  They weren’t going to live long anyway.  And their quality of life could not have been that great, so what’s the big deal about shortening it by a few days or weeks, or even months.  Not a big enough deal to cause me discomfort and bother.  It’s kind of a mercy killing really. 

These people who otherwise care, create stories about those who die so their otherwise warm hearts turn cold and unfeeling.  To do this, they overlook the reality. 

First, most of those who died with pre-existing conditions would have lived years and usually decades had they not become ill with COVID.  Many had active and wonderful lives, cut very short by COVID.  Time to spend with spouses, and children, creating fun times and good memories.  Accomplishing what they wanted from life. 

The pre-existing conditions include such things as diabetes, obesity, heart conditions, kidney illness, asthma, being over 65, liver disease, pregnancy, and more.  Almost 40%  of the population of the US has some sort of condition that makes getting COVID a serious issue. 

Second, they chose ignorance in order to maintain a warm heart made gravestone.  They recommend that those at risk should just stay home and let everyone else go about it.  This ignores the fact that:

  • As I already stated, about 40% of the population has an issue that puts them at risk.  Are the other 60% of the people going to take up the slack all on their own?  And how do those 40% survive if they can’t work and make money, if they can’t go out to get groceries or see the doctor? 
  • That those without any symptoms can spread the disease. This includes the young and healthy.  A husky 20 year old track star gets COVID, but is asymptomatic.  He visits his grandmother, or has a friend who is diabetic on the track team, or his older 24 year old sister has asthma and is pregnant.  All higher risk, and he can spread it to any or all of them, and not even realize it.
  • Most nursing homes shut down early on and stopped allowing any visitors at all, not family, not friends. Rough on the residents doing so for over six months now.  However, it is still not able to keep them healthy and safe from COVID.  The nurses and staff who take care of the residents and keep the nursing home going go home to live their lives.  A nurse has a daughter in school who comes home with it. But they don’t know it because she is asymptomatic.  The nurse gets it, also asymptomatic, and brings it into the residents. And now there are serious health issues in the nursing home.   Or the therapist who works with the people at nursing homes goes to the grocery store and someone refuses the wear their mask. And repeat previous scenario. 
  • A nursing home is not the same as hospice, which many of these people seem confused about.  Yes, on average the time lived in one is not long – one study had it about 2 years, with a great deal of variation based upon the individual condition.  But, do you think these people who die in nursing homes wanted to give up what life they had left?  Do you really think that they did not believe it worth living and were glad to die?  To me, a life unnecessarily and unwantingly shortened by any amount is a tragedy. 
  • Even young and healthy people get this disease, and die of it. 
  • Dying is not the only bad thing that happens.  Being ill and hospitalized for days, and, more likely, weeks is difficult and stressful.  Not only that, but hard on the finances.  Especially since many of those who survive have long recovery periods afterwards, and some have long term health problems.  

One final belief is involved in these people turning their hearts to gravestone, the mortality rate.  A common number I have seen cited is that the death rate is only 0.000279%.  And it is a number that they will stand by even when it is pointed out to them that COVID is now the third largest cause of death in the US, with us fast approaching 200,000 deaths in much less than a year.  And the bodies stilled too soon continue to stack up at a rate of over 1,000 per day. 

For these people, though, the justification for ignoring this reality is that most COVID deaths are the result of the underlying health issue and not COVID.  Which, no matter how you try to explain how ridiculous that belief is – if these people had not gotten COVID then they would have still been alive even with the underlying health issue – they persist in promoting and believing it.  Which, of course, reinforces their belief that it is only, or almost only, the weak and on deaths door people who die of this disease, and thus no cause for concern. 

The reasons for why they persist on gazing on Medusa’s face like this are varied, and not something I am going to go into here.  This is, instead, just an observation of how some people who can seem and are so caring in other areas of their lives, become cold and unfeeling on this.   How suddenly, if a person is old or has a health condition their lives are not important enough to try to protect.  This gravestone heart is why we are now projected to have over 400,000 deaths by January, over doubling where we already are at in six months in less than three months.

 

But hey!  Those lives did not matter, not at all. 

Civil War?

Civil War? 

For the last couple of years I have seen many predictions and speculations about a possible Civil War again.  In broadest terms, this would be one based on those who support trump and liberals.   I had always downplayed it, and was very skeptical of such happening. So much so that I never really bothered to deal with why I was skeptical. 

Today though, after seeing how trump and his allies are setting up a narrative in which they can denounce the election should trump lose, and at the response from liberals and many independents in regards to the many difficulties being erected by trump and the Republicans on voting, both by mail and in person, I thought it worth looking at in a bit more detail. 

First off, let me state one thing that is exceedingly unlikely – a break up of the United States along regional lines, a la the Confederacy.  Yes, there is a divide between rural and urban areas. But, there is too much intermixing between the two for a clean break to occur. Look at the voting within each state and area, there is usually around 40% of more who voted for the non-winning side.  Often it is in the high 40s.   

However, even more importantly, during our Civil War, there was already a clear geographic division between the two sides, those promoting slavery and those willing to at least limit it.  This geographic division included political structures – executive, legislative, judicial – already in place, making a rebellion easier.  In other words, states. Further, other than some military bases there was very little federal activity – institutions, money, etc. – within those states.  Today though, this has obviously changed.

All of which make a Civil War resulting in a geographical break up of the what would then become the former United States very unlikely.  However, a Civil War resulting in a change of government might be a possibility.  A more real possibility than I had believed a year ago.  I had thought it possible, in fact, probably likely that we would see violence and rioting, along the line of what happened in the 1960s, but not Civil War.  Obviously I have rethought that. 

First though, a very quick bit about the differences between riots and Civil War and Revolutions. 

Riots are not really organized.  Revolutions try to overthrow the government.  Civil Wars try to control the government.  This is a short, simple guide that papers over the disputes and grey areas in defining these terms, but one that is adequate for the purposes of this blog. 

So, what has changed between a year ago and today that has caused me to think that the possibility of anything more dangerous than rioting  may be an actual probability now?  Mainly, trump’s actions, often with Republican support, at not only creating but acting upon a narrative in which the only way he loses is if widespread fraud occurs.  And his followers totally believe it. 

Now, such has always been an on going reality of American politics, but today it is much more comprehensive than before.  And, more importantly, you have a focus for it, one that has political power, trump.  trump, a president who is not only not denying such conspiracy building, but helping to shape and foster it.  A man, an unprincipled, egotistical, narcissistic populist  who is trying to subvert all the institutions of our government to keep himself in power.   A man who is very unlikely to give up the presidency. 

Instead, he will use the power of his presidency as he is doing now to try to claim fraud and deep state conspiracy and claim he is the winner and will stay on as president.  What’s worse, is that many republicans will support him and do the same.  Which means that there is very little possibility that they will accept any result of an election other than a trump win. 

Which means when he loses, his followers will support him, actively and, most probably, violently.  They will do so because they believe that:

Our election process is rife with fraud, not only in regards to mail in ballots but fraud of all sorts.

Our cities are rife with violence and carnage. So much so that even Afghanistan is now safer. 

The deep state is out to get the representative and defender of the people, and even using a not so dangerous pandemic to crash the economy to do so. 

So, I believe that there will be violence when trump loses.  And, that such violence may even wind up becoming a Civil War.  However, despite all of this, while I think the possibility of a Civil War uncomfortably greater than before, I still think the odds are against it.  Why?  Let me refer you to my down and dirty differences between a riot and Civil War – organization. 

The reason for this is organization. trump and his family cohort have neither the organizational skills nor the discipline and work ethic to create such an organization.  Exploit the media, yes. Create an organization that can coordinate, create objectives and goals, develop strategy – no. 

And the Republicans around him, while they might have such skills, are using it largely within the system.  The outside edges of it at too many times, but still within the system.  I do not see them taking the steps needed to be able to support a Civil War.  Especially since the Republicans will also be very divided on this.  They will obstruct, confuse and try to use the courts and other governmental organization to try to overturn this election  But, when they lose, I do not see the organization needed for Civil War coming from them. 

So, my bottom line prognostication – trump loses, a very good chance the Senate may flip, and the democrats maintaining a comfortable control of the House.  I see court challenges and violent rhetoric.  I see demonstrations and possible rioting on the part of trump’s followers, with likely counter ones by those on Biden’s sides.  Worse case, I see deaths and destruction, fire and blood which may continue on for years.  However, at the end of it all, come noon on January 20, 2021, we will have a new president.  And no Civil War. 

The Self Centered Soul

anti maskers

I am not over 65, and so I do not wear a mask and I do not social distance, even when those who were died, or are hospitalized, fighting hard to stay alive.

I do not live in a nursing home, and so I do not wear a mask and I do not social distance, even when those who did died, or are hospitalized, fighting hard to stay alive.

I am not diabetic, and so I do not wear a mask and I do not social distance, even when those who were died, or are hospitalized, fighting hard to stay alive.

I am not obese, and so I do not wear a mask and I do not social distance, even when those who were died, or are hospitalized, fighting hard to stay alive.

I do not have kidney disease, and so I do not wear a mask and I do not social distant, even when those who did died, or were hospitalized, fighting hard to stay alive.

I do not have a heart condition, and so I do not wear a mask and I do not social distance, even when those who did died, or are hospitalized, fighting hard to stay alive.

I do not have sickle cell disease, and so I do not wear a mask and I do not social distance, even when those who did died, or are hospitalized, fighting hard to live alive.

I do not have cancer, and so I do not wear a mask and I do not social distance, even when those who did died or are hospitalized, fighting hard to stay alive.

I do not have asthma, and so I do not wear a mask and I do not social distance, even when those who did died or are hospitalized, fighting hard to stay alive.

I am not pregnant, and so I do not wear a mask and I do not social distance, even when those who were died or are hospitalized, fighting hard to stay alive.

I do not have liver disease, and so I do not wear a mask and I do not social distance, even when those who did died or are hospitalized, fighting hard to stay alive.

I do not smoke, and so I do not wear a mask and I do not social distance, even when those who do died or are hospitalized, fighting hard to stay alive.

I know that most healthy stay alive, and so I do not wear a mask and I do not social distance, even when the healthy died or are hospitalized, fighting hard to stay alive.

I know but deny that carriers can be any and all, and COVID travels fast and quiet, and so I do not wear a mask and do not social distance, even when so many others died or are hospitalized, fighting hard to stay alive.

My comforts and my “freedom” to not wear a mask and socially isolate are more important than my family’s, my neighbor’s, my community’s, my supposedly one nation’s lives and health.

And so hundreds of thousands died who did not need to.

Hundreds of thousands who will never be able to play with their children, go out with friends, enjoy just breathing and being ever again.  Many more will suffer life long health issues needlessly. And so millions of people will cry and mourn those whose lives were made shorter than they should have been.

All for the self-centered soul.