Gleichschaltung — The lessons of history lies in the history of lessons

Gleichschaltung

The lessons of history lies in the history of lessons

July 17th 2021

By educating the young generation along the right lines, the people’s State will have to see that a generation of mankind is formed which will be adequate to this supreme combat that will decide the destinies of the world” (Hitler, 1939).

The Germans had a word for it, because of course the Germans have a word for everything: Gleichschaltung. It is, according to Webster’s dictionary, “[T]he act, process or policy of achieving total coordination and uniformity by forcibly repressing or eliminating independence and freedom of thought, action or expression.”

The Nazis keenly appreciated the truism that if you educate the child you control the thinking of the adult. With absolutely no sense of irony, they adopted the philosophy of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, who believed that that if you “Give me just one generation of youth, and I’ll transform the whole world.” and “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”

To that end, the Nazis transformed education in Germany. All subjects were to be patriotic, designed to instill awe, reverence and obedience to the German state. Biology taught the superiority of the Aryan race. Economics became lessons in the fiscal sacrifices children should expect to make in service to a Greater Germany. Large segments of physics were no longer taught, contaminated by “the Jewish influence” of most leading physicists. Geography studied borders in Europe in order to show how enemies of Germany had cheated the nation of its birthright over the centuries. Physical education was heavily emphasized as a strong and fit body was expected of every German child against they day he would have to fight for the state. There was no higher honor than dying for the Führer. And Hitler demanded that “A young German must be as swift as a greyhound, as tough as leather, and as hard a Krupp’s steel.

Perhaps the most transformed subject was that of history. Most history books, depicting Germany in less-than-glorious light, were burned. As were students who might agree with those books. Most of those students had already been sent off to the camps in any event.

German history could reveal no flaw or deficiency in the German characters, other than an ability to be sometimes tricked and set back by the perfidy of traitors, Jews, bankers, unions, intellectuals, and Germany’s many enemies, foreign and domestic.

As a sidenote, I’ve always wondered how, if a {country, culture, religion, etc.} was so wonderful and so benign, there was such a major problem with enemies. Or perhaps what I’m really wondering is why people being taught this sort of drivel didn’t see it for the self-serving bullshit that it actually is.

German history depicted Germans as brave, noble, resolute, Moral strength was always betrayed by cringing dissolute venality, another concept that I have Questions about.

Pretty much all of German history was turned into dualistic schlock, good versus evil, resolute versus the weak. It was all right to admit that Germany was defeated in the Great War, but not to say that they annoyed the neighbors and got their asses handed to them on a plate. No, the Germans were winning, as per God’s will, but power brokers tapped the sides of their hooked noses and evil minions swarmed out to undermine Germans, causing them to fall ill and die, whilst passing along German strategy and logistics to unfit foes who could never have prevailed without cheating.

The fascist right in America, applying their own Gleichschaltung to the lesson history has to offer about the fate of fantastical authoritarian movements, has adopted the concept for use in seizing control of America’s schools and libraries.

They needed a bogeyman to scare people into thinking that honest history was anti-patriotic, so they decided that liberals were misusing history to make children hate their own country, and in the case of white children, their own race. Sound familiar?

The bogeyman has a name: Critical Race Theory. Now, keep in mind that despite claims from the Republican party, Critical Race Theory isn’t taught in schools. No, that’s a college-level concept, one designed to examine the role systemic racism has played in America’s history, culture, economy and education. Teachers don’t sit the kids down and say, “Johnny, because of your skin color, you are an imperialist pig.”

It isn’t Critical Race Theory the fascist right wants to abolish: it’s honesty. To them, it’s utterly unthinkable that recitations of America’s glorious and morally resolute past should be defiled and debased by unnecessary references to slavery, subjugation of the native populations, or bloody wars against countries that posed no threat to America. “What do we need all that negative stuff for anyway?” they cry. “The only reason people would want to teach that sort of anti-American stuff is to make American children less resolute, weaken their morals, and make them less willing to serve the Führer.

To that end, I’ve seen some ridiculous examples of Republican-cleansed history. America didn’t want slavery—England forced it upon them! The South didn’t secede; they were just standing for State’s Rights. (Someone brilliantly asked the question the other day, “What did those States have a right to?” It’s a good question. States don’t have rights.)

All too often, history curricula are perverted to political and economic exigencies. We love to tell ourselves comforting lies. A nation’s history is far more likely to be undermined, not by its foes, but by its admirers. The greatest enemies to the teaching of history are the ones who want to glorify a nation, erase its faults and its flaws, and discount all the mistakes made.

When it is done for the direct and malevolent purpose of brainwashing, then it becomes truly evil.

This is a Reichstag moment, the gospel of the Führer,” said Gen. Mark Milley, the chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top US uniformed military commander, worried that Trump was about to try to stage a coup of some sort.

When the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is openly comparing the then-president to Adolf Hitler, then what should we say of the followers of Trump, who wish to impose Gleichschaltung on the schools? At the cost of honesty, in the futile aim of glorifying the State?

They aren’t concerned about history, they don’t have the maturity to admit America isn’t perfect. They are fascists. They live on control, and comforting lies.

Stop them while we still can.

The Great Federal Divorce — “We’re Doing it for the Children”

The Great Federal Divorce

We’re Doing it for the Children”

July 14th, 2021

YouGov.com had a poll this week that showed that amongst Republicans in the South, a full two-thirds (66%) favored secession from the United States. I didn’t find it particularly surprising (If you had asked me to guess at the number, I would have said ‘half,’ but things are becoming more polarized because of recent events), since the South, for years a victim of genial federal neglect (a neglect demanded by by the South in the name of ‘States Rights’ and in reaction to Reconstruction), became a victim of it’s own cultural blend of aristocracy and authoritarian corruption. Washington kept getting blamed for the deep flaws and corruptions of the various state governments and the power brokers who ran those governments.

Now we have the dominant party in the region steeped in the madness of a cult of personality, rife with paranoid beliefs that communists, blacks, Jews and liberals plan to open concentration camps so they can put microchips in people. The craziness is wide spread (50% of independents and 20% of Democrats ALSO support secession) and infused with the inculcated notion that secession would really, really work this time, that the South could rise again and be a gentil bastion of apartheid and corporate and autocratic manipulation.

It’s nonsense, of course. North Carolina, Texas, Georgia and Florida are the only states that would have a hope of a go at it economically, and they would immediately lose hundreds of billions in Federal dollars (just all the Federal military facilities closing!) and a great deal of their tourist trade. And they would be dragged down by the resultant pauper states that would comprise most of CSAv2. But these are people who believe Trump is a noble and heroic Christian, that COVID-19 is a sinister plot, and that Democrats are all secretly Marxists.

But while I was looking over that poll, I noticed something, Out here in the West, the same poll revealed a similar sentiment. Forty seven percent of Democrats—almost half—want to secede. Thirty three percent of independents, and 27% of Republicans also favor secession.

Those are surprisingly big numbers.

Nearly every state in the country has a secession movement of one kind or another. In fact, it’s a nearly world-wide phenomenon. Local interests believe (or fantasize) improvements or profits if they can only over throw the tyrannical interests in whatever capitol happens to be ignoring them. Where I live, near the Oregon border, we have a “State of Jefferson” movement that would create a state from the six southernmost counties of Oregon and roughly the top third of California. While culturally and financially homogeneous, which led to its appeal (a straw vote in our county back in the 90s showed 90% approval for the idea) it would have been a disaster, since even back when we had healthy forests, logging, tourism and ranching would not be enough, and we would quickly become the poorest state in the Union. The movement was funded by ranchers, loggers and other local power brokers as a way to feather their nests, but in recent years has been taken over by the Sovereign Citizen crowd and more recently, the QAnon freaks. It’s still a popular notion, but in the harsh glare of reality, it’s a terrible idea.

The Pacific Northwest has always had a secessionist movement. Clear back in 1975, there was a book, “Ecotopia” by Ernest Callenbach, that wanted to create a stable ecological paradise from Northern California, Oregon and Washington. Some of the more radical members of that movement also wanted to include British Columbia and Alaska, giving the nation monopolistic control over the entire west coast. Others, including me, suggested simply joining Canada, and inviting the rest of America that wasn’t part of the deep South. A fictitious map in the ‘90s showed such a division, with the US (and/or Canada) in blue, and “Jesusland” in red. Some included the prairie states, such as Kansas and Oklahoma.

But few took it particularly seriously. Especially since the only way Ecotopia would be a going concern would be through massive exploitation of natural resources, a somewhat forlorn hope for imagined prosperity even back when the forests still had some water in them. And given the vast economic cost to the United States such a secession would entail, it’s very unlikely the US would allow the west to break away peacefully. Few would miss Mississippi, but California is a whole ‘nother matter. That state alone is about 18% of the American economy. And almost a third of the food supply.

Secession is always a background hum in local politics. In some cases, such as Hawai’i or British Columbia, it’s an ongoing struggle by the Indigenous against the colonial cultures that invaded and destroyed their worlds. Others, such as Ecotopia, are benign fantasies of local rule, a mish-mash of idealism and utopianism. Others have a dangerous edge of anger to them, a desire to remedy wrongs that often as not, are self-inflicted, and a desire to restore a vicious and ugly past, transmogrified into a kind and just lost world but with the same underlying currents of oppression and bigotry.

The numbers are disturbing: in a healthy society, one might expect secessionist sentiment to range between 10 and 15%. But they are elevated, and in the case of America, fostered by interests that would benefit from a national breakup.

Chances that their interests will dovetail with yours are slim. Your most likely fate is to end up a serf in a third world pisspot country.

For those who want a divorce, think it over. In this case, the odds are greatly against you benefiting from it.

NOTE: Two corrections made: Georgia was omitted as one of the states that might be self-sustaining in the event of secession, and surf is now down, and serf’s up.

 

Fighting Fascism — The GOP and the 14 signs of fascism

Fighting Fascism

The GOP and the 14 signs of fascism

 

May 15th 2021

Back in 2003, Laurence W. Britt wrote an op-ed piece for Secular Humanism magazine called “Fascism, Anyone?” The magazine wryly notes that it is “the most reprinted—and most pirated—article in the magazine’s history.” It’s better known around the web as “The fourteen signs of fascism” and it serves well as a warning against any kind of extreme authoritarianism. Of course, fascism is almost by definition extreme authoritarianism, but ever since World War 2, fascists never, ever refer to themselves as fascists. In the US, they like to call themselves “conservatives” or “patriots.” They are neither.

I’ve used Britt’s essay several times in essays since it came out as it it has become a sine qua non for defining—and fighting—fascism.

I’m going to take the titles of each of the 14 signs and give a brief description of how this is a very nearly exact match for policies and practices of today’s Republican party. Readers are invited to take any of the 14 referents and argue how they DON’T represent what are laughingly referred to as “Republican values” these days. Those who like to use the tu quoque logical fallacy (whataboutism) will be happy to know that I’ll freely admit that some points do apply to Democrats as well as Republicans, although most do not. With Republicans, the score is 14 out of 14.

Here they are in the order Britt laid them out, with my own thoughts on how they apply now with the 2021 version of the GOP.

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism.

No politician dares appear on a stage without a dozen or fifty American flags in the background. It long passed the point of being ridiculous, but nobody dares say so—in either party. People are obliged to refer to America as a family member or a lover, rather than just a place. The United States is a country. America is a shit pot of cows and trees and Starbucks. It’s not illegal to say so. Or unpatriotic.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights.

Three words. “Kids in cages.” Republicans kept kids in cages for weeks and even months, and committed the unspeakably cruel crime of permanently separating them from their families, just because of the common fascist belief that cruelty equals strength.

3. Identification of enemies/scape-goats as a unifying cause.

This week it’s Asians. And transgenders. And Hispanics. And Blacks. And the Poor. And intellectuals. And about 70% of the entire country, really.

.4. The supremacy of the military/ avid militarism.

I read an article that some 120 retired line officers—generals and admirals, all retired—signed a “stop the steal” petition. Bad enough that so many of them would gleefully sign on to what amounts to an act of treason, but that there are so MANY line officers in the first place shows how bloated, inefficient, top-heavy and corrupt the military has become. The military budget is nearly as large as the rest of the world’s combined, and yet it is suicide to suggest cutting their budget. They are the most expensive under-performer in the world. Fascist fetishism of the military does not win wars. And degrades the very military it’s meant to glorify.

5. Rampant sexism.

Gawd. Where to begin? I’ll just note that Marjorie Taylor-Greene is just the latest in a shameful parade of mentally disturbed women the GOP put in the public eye to do their dirty work for them. Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Ann Coulter, Nazi Barbie…the list goes on and on. The permanent sneer that accompanies Republican attitudes toward women is their desire to ban abortion and birth control, but not provide mothers with paid time off, free child care, preschool and neonatal and pediatric care, available in all civilized nations.

6. A controlled mass media.

As with corporations and the government in a fascist country, the issue of whether the media control the party or the other way around is nearly impossible to discern. Which is the puppet and which is the master? In this case, Fox News and the GOP are two facets of the same paste jewelry.

7. Obsession with national security.

How many “crisis at the border” situations have we had since 1992? How many were real? Even after electing a president whose regard for national security was problematic at best, Republicans continue to supercharge the notion that any dissident voices, no matter how patriotic or benign, are threats to national security. Black Lives Matter is a threat. The Naziesque Proud Boys are not. Well, Brownshirts protected Germany from the Jews in the name of national security, so there really isn’t anything new under that dark sun.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together.

Authoritarian religion and fascism always have gone hand in hand and now is no exception. People who wonder how professed Christians could possibly align with a moral and ethical wastrel like Donald Trump haven’t read history. These people don’t worship God; they worship Power. And fascism is all about the power, baby.

9. Power of corporations protected.

Have you ever wondered why the Republicans seem to be on the wrong side of nearly all major social and economic positions? A decent minimum wage? Sick leave for all? Child care? Universal health care not tied to employment? Decent drug prices? That represents corporate power, which wants a weak and dependent labor force.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated.

See #9. This isn’t a battle between capitalism and socialism; this is a war between the bosses—corporations and the aristocracy—and the workers.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts.

The coronavirus pandemic highlighted the anti-science stance of the GOP. Intellectuals tend to ask awkward questions about such sacred cows as the role of gods and businesses in society, and scientists figure stuff out rather than making shit up, which angers the churches.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment.

The GOP have actually gone a bit quiet on this in recent years since Trump forced them to abandon the pretense that they were anything other than an organized crime cartel. They don’t mind calling for the death penalty for political dissidents such as BLM or the largely imaginary ‘antifa’ (and what political movement would hate a group for being antifascist, you ask?) but they have to remain resolutely silent about the criminality of Trump and much of his administration, or well-known figures in his circles such as Matt Gaetz or Jeffery Epstein. Many turn to conspiracy theories and projection, which allows them to remain resolutely ‘tough on crime’ whilst still stealing with both hands.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption.

Two words: Trump family.

14. Fraudulent elections.

If the GOP has any central principle at all, it is that of stealing elections whilst loudly shouting that it’s the other guys who are stealing elections. From draconian Jim Crow-type laws to to gerrymandering efforts to overthrowing election results through manipulation of the electoral college through outright insurrection and threats of violent overthrow of the government, the GOP, who hate 70% of all the people in America, have realized they cannot win free and fair elections so they are doing everything in their power to prevent free and fair elections from interfering with their self-assumed right to rule.

Fascism attracts vicious autocrats who bend normal human reason and values in their lust for power. Even without the monsters of the second world war, fascism, with its authoritarian nature, have the same evil reputation that theocracies and other dictatorships have, and for the same reason. Power isn’t from the people: it’s power OVER the people, and it is without exception ugly and vicious and corrupt on all levels.

The GOP are authoritarian and anti-American. They ARE fascists. Do all you can to fight them.

Mattgates and Jim Crow — And how Faux News is massaging them

Mattgates and Jim Crow

And how Faux News is massaging them

April 3rd, 2021

Three items this week show the problems with the fascist right in America: Matt Gaetz, the Georgia State Government, and how Fox News has reacted to those two.

Gaetz and the Georgia lege have these things in common: both are despicable, dishonest, have scant regard for the rights of their victims, and are part of a larger pattern.

Gaetz, of course, is at the heart of a mushrooming sex-and-corruption scandal, one that has allegations of sexual child abuse, whoremongering, mass identity fraud and a host of other items. Gaetz himself is a well-known scumbag who liked to show images of his sexual conquests in the halls of Congress and had a long history of being a wastrel playboy who was bailed out of various types of legal trouble by his rich and powerful Daddy, escaping two DUIs and racking up 15 speeding tickets in 12 years.

Georgia was the first to pass voter restriction laws that effectively restored Jim Crow to Georgia. It was introduced in the State House at 9 am, passed in minutes without debate, sent to the state Senate at 1pm, passed in minutes, again without debate, and signed by the contemptible and corrupt Governor Brian Kemp by 4pm. A black legislator was arrested for daring to protest the signing.

Then there is the Fox News reaction to each of those stories.

For 48 hours Fox simply didn’t mention Gaetz at all. They did have a story about a drummer in some southern rock band who was involved in some sort of sex scandal, but that was as close as they came to discussing any possible scandal involving a Republican Congressmen. Few drummers have the temperament to be Republican congressmen. They lack the necessary wildness, dementia and psychosis the job requires.

It was only this morning, three days after the story broke, that far down on their website they had a squib reading, “Matt Gaetz says he won’t resign as pressure mounts” The story made it clear they were writing old Matty off, with a featured quote from former GOP congressman David Jolly, “”These scandals hit a certain point where there’s no escape. We’ve clearly hit that point for Matt in Florida politics.”

The message is clear: Matt fucked up massively and got caught, so let’s wash our paws of him and hope he goes away quickly. I’m guessing there’s a lot of Fox viewers who still aren’t even aware of the scandal, despite it being headline news everywhere else for three days. It reminded me of nothing so much as the fates of politicians in the old USSR who fell out of favor with Stalin: they simply were disappeared, airbrushed out of state photos, their families ordered not to discuss them on pain of 20 years in the Gulag on a charge of Anti-Soviet Agitation.

In any case, Fox can say that they’ve written him off and thus have no more reason to discuss him. Not even if his scandalous behavior reaches out to other Republicans, including at least one possible ex-President. And quite possibly Fox’s own Tucker Carlson, who was scandalized when Gaetz tried to drag him into the middle of the whole thing.

To swipe an analogy from Robert Heinlein, the whole thing is as futile as a cat trying to cover up a mistake on a linoleum floor. The only reason they mentioned it at all was it was now impossible to hide, and now they’re just trying to wave it away.

Their response to the reinstatement of Jim Crow laws in Georgia is slightly more nuanced. Georgia, it seems, has nothing but the best interests of their voters at heart. Why, they even had a provision permitting counties to extend voting hours to 7 am to 7:30 pm, although the counties that (heh, heh) wanted to keep their hours to 9 to 5 to accommodate working people were free to do so. And they forbade giving water to people in line to vote because that could be possibly construed as bribery, and in this age of Trump, Republicans are horrified at the concept of bribery. And above all, we mustn’t have voter fraud. There was vast voter fraud in the presidential election, you know. Over 60 court cases had rulings about that. That’s right, 60. What does that tell you?

And now that major corporations based in Georgia and Major League Baseball have reacted in horror, and in MLB’s case pulled the All-Star game and draft scheduled for Atlanta this year, Fox’s reaction is that this is the rise of Corporate “Cancel Culture” designed to thwart democracy. That’s right: protesting onerous voting restrictions is “thwarting democracy.”

Only fascists could tell a lie that big and that bare-faced.

One Republican defended the Georgia law, stating he was “proud to oppose the will of the American people.” I’m sure it sounded better in his head.

Unlike the Gaetz situation, there’s no pretending this won’t expand to engulf the party. Republicans have introduced a staggering 338 bills in 46 states designed to hinder people’s ability to vote. They can’t wave it away because it is the heart and soul of how they want to stage a bloodless coup and stage a fascist takeover of the land.

To that end, they’ve taken up attacking…corporations. Any student of political history knows that the main feature of fascism is that corporations and governments become one, and rule the people to their own benefit. Instead of E Pluribus Unum, the motto is “Make it Pay.” You might guess who does the paying.

So they’re attacking corporations because of “cancel culture” – you know, masks, vaccine passports, Mister Potatohead, Dr. Seuss, all that. Corporate decisions all of them. Only they don’t mention that they’re corporate decisions, but create the impression that liberals and democrats are abusing government to deprive people of their rights to outdated commercial products and the right to ignore a pandemic.

Now they’re doing the same with the Jim Crow movement, pretending the poor beleaguered white race is being downtrodden by people who want to vote for someone else because it benefits them. Can’t have that, you know.

With any luck at all, by summer we’ll see SR1 (a national voting rights act already passed by the House) become the law of the land, and Matt Gaetz will get his just reward.

Prejudicial — Cowardice breeds contempt

Prejudicial

Cowardice breeds contempt

March 25th 2021

When people hear the term “prejudice” they usually think of the cowardly and despicable practice of bigotry; the deliberate denigration of a group of people, usually for social and economic unearned advantages. It is the recourse of a fretful and unconfident population, this need to systematically cheat and harass people who are guilty of no crime but easy to target. It isn’t courageous—quite the opposite. Systematic bigotry is the province of cowards.

There is a second type of prejudice, and with this as well as the first, the American South is all too familiar. It is the type of prejudice that people have against bigots, those cruel small authoritarians who cheat and steal from the weak.

It’s often as unfair and capricious as the first type of prejudice, and the fact that there is a basis for some of it doesn’t excuse it.

But for years it was applied to white people in the American South. The world noticed the systematic and cruel exploitation and subjugation of what were then called “coloured people” and recoiled in disgust. Segregation, Jim Crow, Bull Conner, fire hoses, the Freedom Marches, all of that. All this in a country devoted to the notions of freedom and equality.

And for years the South was subject to scorn, contempt, and ridicule. If you were white and from the South, you were presumed to be a backward and hate-filled moron, a toothless hick whose own sense of self worth lay upon blowing up children and denying people the use of bathrooms and drinking fountains.

The number of Southerners who deserved that sort of contempt were far outnumbered by the millions who didn’t support Jim Crow and segregation. Many of them did so silently, subject to intense social and economic pressure from their neighbors, their town councils, their churches. Yes, Christianity played a fundamental role in the more disgraceful practices of the Old South.

It took the South over half a century to partially claw its way back from the self-inflicted black eye its behavior in the 50s and 60s caused, to the point where it wasn’t automatically assumed that a southern white male was a moonshine-guzzling unkempt yahoo who burned crosses on the weekend. Part of it was a lot of good-faith hard work by people in the South to turn the page on a disgraceful past, and part of it, in the wake of Boston and Watts, the realization that racism and vicious bigotry wasn’t limited to the South.

But now, in the wake of the corrupt and unAmerican Brian Kemp and the GOP of Georgia, that image of the South being a bastion of racism and vicious cruelty is being resurrected by new voting laws that Joe Biden called “despicable” and which are draconian, deeply unfair, and against all American values. It’s so vicious and overreaching that a large majority of Georgians across the entire spectrum oppose it.

It will dawn on the country over the next few months that it isn’t just the Southern disease resurrecting itself. It’s a national problem with voting and Democracy under attack in a large majority of the States, not just in the Bible Belt but in the West, the prairies, and the Midwest. It isn’t a Southern thing, this vile paroxysm of bigotry and cowardice: it’s a Republican thing.

The Republican Party has two main sides these days: the mainstream fascists who put corporate power and Ayn Rand ahead of people, and the Nazis and Nutzis of the Trump movement. Neither side has the faintest interest in holding office with the consent of the governed; they simply want to rule, and are willing to crush anyone who stands between them and that goal.

But it is first manifesting in Georgia, a state that has, for a decade, been the bloody Kansas of the cold civil war being fought between Americans and Republicans.

Which means the South has lost much of the good will it worked so hard for. It adopted Republicans when they opposed civil rights legislation, they stayed with Republicans when they tried to make themselves the avatars of patriotism and godliness, and they are doggedly clinging to them even after they’ve gone fascist—and worse.

They don’t want Americans to vote. They are changing voting laws wherever they can, and with no regard for deliberations or democratic process. Georgia passed their voting law today, savage as it is, in the space of six hours between introduction in the lege to a ludicrous shout of approval in the Senate to a behind-closed door signing by the reptilian Brian Kemp (whose own election was one of the most corrupt in American history) even as a Democratic legislator was dragged away and arrested by Georgia state thugs for demanding to witness the signing.

Republicans don’t want Americans to vote. They don’t want Americans to have any say in how they are ruled. They pass laws against peaceful assembly, make it a crime to insult a cop, anything they can in the cause of turning the world’s second-oldest Democracy into a authoritarian shit hole.

If they succeed, they will fail. John F. Kennedy once said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

If Republicans want to suppress Americans, it will blow up in their faces. And the toothless bigots of the old South won’t be able to save them. Nobody can.

Day Five — Disgrace and Acquittal

Day Five

Disgrace and Acquittal

February 13th 2021

In many ways, today turned out to be the wildest day of Trump’s impeachment trial. Yes, he was acquitted, with only 57 Senators voting that he was guilty of sedition. Seven Republicans declared his guilt. So he was simultaneously acquitted and humiliated, escaping conviction on a technicality.

The day started with the stunning news that the Senate had voted to permit witnesses. It would have been a disaster for Republicans many of whom want to see Trump gone but who can’t work up the courage to do that themselves. Many of them wanted impeachment to go away, but a lot of them want Trump to go away.

Team Trump immediately started issuing threats, promising that things would get real ugly real fast. Who knows? Maybe their client would whip up a violent armed mob to attack the Capitol to prevent witnesses from testifying. Joni Ernst shouted that the Senate would not consider anything Biden wanted—not COVID relief, not minimum wage, not the remaining cabinet nominations—until the trial ended, and promised witnesses would tie everything up for months.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler said McCarthy told her of a conversation: “He said to the President, ‘You’ve got to hold them. You need to get on TV right now, you need to get on Twitter, you need to call these people off.’ And he said, the President said, ‘Kevin, they’re not my people.’”

McCarthy told Trump: “Yes they are, they just came through my windows and my staff is running for cover. Yeah, they’re your people. Call them off,” Herrera Beutler said. On Friday she tweeted, “That’s when, according to McCarthy, the president said: ‘Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are.” Truly an incendiary account. Trump supporters didn’t want anything like that in the public record, right?

But then something odd happened; the Senate ruled that the accounts of the conversation between House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Trump could be stipulated; in other words, admitted as evidence without objection. The phone call is utterly damning, with McCarthy shouting to Trump to call off his mob (Remember, Trump’s brownshirts were busting the windows to McCarthy’s office at the time). Further, it revealed a depraved indifference on Trump’s part toward his own vice president, Mike Pence. A few minutes later, Tommy Tuberville told Trump that Pence had been hustled away, but was still in danger. Trump followed the conversation with instructions to the mob via tweet to attack Pence for his lack of courage. It’s widely reported that the Pence Secret Service were in constant contact with Trump’s Secret Service, and so Trump had to know Pence was in danger, along with his staff, family, and even the backup nuclear football Pence’s Secret Service carried.

Trump did not call off his mob. He did not send in the National Guard. It was Pence who called the guard, and it was five hours later that Trump finally told his followers to go home. And five days before he bothered calling Pence to see if he was ok.

After that, the Dems suddenly reversed their field on calling witnesses, and today saw the end of the trial, and the 57-43 vote that disgraced but did not convict Trump.

Why did this happen? Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said he voted to acquit Donald Trump because he thought it was unconstitutional to hold an impeachment trial for a president who had already left office. That’s nonsensical on the face of it, but it reveals McConnell’s thinking—he wants Trump gone. He just doesn’t want the Senate to do it and thus widen the existing civil war within the GOP. At least 300,000 voters have fled the party since election day, and there is a serious movement afoot to create a new party that isn’t overwhelmed by Nazis and conspiracy freaks.

To that end, he was willing to disgrace Trump and make criminal charges against him much easier?

Anyone remember Ollie North? Betrayed America through his role in Iran/Contra, got off on a technicality, and spent the rest of his wastrel life gloating at us? He got off because a court ruled that testimony against him in Congressional hearings could not be entered as evidence in criminal proceedings as being prejudicial and a violation of double indemnity. He walked because of the witnesses in Congress.

There may well be hundreds of witnesses who are willing or can be subpoenaed in a criminal trial of Trump for dereliction of duty and possibly sedition. And criminal trials are coming. Count on it.

So Senate Republicans punted, but civilian courts are made of sterner stuff.

In the meantime, this was the most bipartisan impeachment vote in the history of the United States.

Trump may be acquitted. But he has also been disgraced like no other President in history.

Biden Our Time — Good Trumps Evil

Biden Our Time

Good Trumps Evil

January 21st 2021

At 9:01am PST yesterday I posted a one-word post on Facebook.

The post said, “WHEW!”

It might be the only all-caps post I’ll ever make, since I regard people who post in all-caps to be total idiots. I am quite capable of attaining truly sublime levels of idiocy without artificial aids from my caps-lock key, thank you very much.

We all expected things to turn weird and disgusting between the election and inauguration day, and of course things did. And yes, there were a lot of grim things. COVID continued to explode, with the death toll now well over 400,000, and the Trump regime bungled the vaccine rollout. Trump gleefully sabotaged Open Skies and other treaties, giving a gleeful Vladimir Putin an entire basket of tactical Easter eggs. They had an insurrectionist attack on the Capitol and comprised, for the most part, of meth heads trying to play soldier and absolutely lunatic conspiracy theory freaks. Even more troubling, we discovered that much of the Republican party would rather destroy the United States than share power with those of the wrong race, or the wrong religion, or who were simply guilty of not being rich.

If one good thing came of the Trump regime, it was that he forced America to look in the mirror, and learn that it’s really no better than any other country, and can no longer pretend to be a shining beacon of reason and ethics. Not that it ever really could, but the facade had been torn away.

I don’t envy Joe Biden. He took office yesterday facing a national crisis every bit as great as the one Franklin Roosevelt faced in March of 1933. FDR only had to face the First Great Depression. Biden is facing the Second Great Depression, along with the pandemic, the worst since 1919, and an opposition that is anything but loyal; a large chunk of the GOP leadership are seditionists at best, traitors at worst.

I’m sure I’ll oppose Biden on some items, sometimes vehemently. But unlike his predecessor, I won’t be questioning his loyalty, his courage, or his good intentions. That’s a huge improvement right there. Trump is filth. Biden is not.

I’m having grim fun watching the GOP writhe and twist. The militias have come face to face with the fact that no coup can succeed without popular support. Power comes, not from the barrel of a gun, but the will of the people. It’s something the fairy-tale stories about overthrowing evil kings and the like often miss; no regime happens in a vacuum. You need, at the very least, the support of one third of the population, and at least another third willing to not take up arms against you. When 3/4s of the population are openly disgusted with you and want to throw you in jail (or under a guillotine) then your cause is lost. Most people hate the so-called militias, with their open embrace of Nazism and white superiority. Theirs is the philosophy of war, of death camps, of genocides. A large majority of Americans are better than that, and won’t fall to that level except under the circumstances that led to the French Revolution, the Soviet revolution, the Putsch and rise of Hitler, or the final disintegration of the USSR. We aren’t there yet, and with any luck, we won’t be.

The QAnon conspiracy nuts have to come to grips with the fact that Trump isn’t going to be a God-Emperor here to save us from the utterly imaginary depredations of the Clintons, Obama, or the lizard people. Quite a few of them hit a wall of reality beginning on the sixth of January and crashed and burned with the sight of Biden taking the oath of office. Q himself apparently stopped posting shortly after the election. Many will just find a new form of insanity to embrace, but quite a few are wailing that they were misled and lied to, and that their new religion failed them. I imagine Christianity must have faced a similar setback when Jesus’ prediction that many of those living would see his return failed to come to pass. In other words, don’t expect QAnon to just go away. The ability to rationalize is deep amongst the deluded and the insane.

The the ‘sane’ part of the GOP, the ‘good Germans’ are popping up all over the place. “Oh, I never supported Trump.” “I just went along because I was afraid.” “I was just following orders.” Suddenly, they want to talk about unity, negotiation, and compromise. There may even be some who are acting in good faith, but it’s a sure bet that most are just trying to salvage what they can for the ruins of their party, and are probing Biden and the Democratic Party for any signs of weakness. A favorite seems to be “Well, 74 million people voted for Trump and you can’t ignore them.” The reality is 81 million people voted for Biden, and unlike Trump won’t be out to viciously take revenge on the Trump voters. Biden isn’t going to refuse aid to red states, and he isn’t going to address the pandemic only in states that voted for him. He isn’t Trump. He isn’t a monster.

To the Trump voters I say, “Biden is here to govern, not rule. He isn’t going to make you second-class citizens because of how you voted. He isn’t going to turn America into a Soviet wasteland, no matter what the high-paid liars on the right wing media say. He is going to make changes, and you may not like all of them, but if you have any honesty, any decency, you’ll reserve judgment and see what the changes mean in your lives, your work, your schools, your health care and your country. You don’t own America, but America exists to serve you, and Biden seems to be totally aware of that.

“We tried your way, and it was a catastrophe. Trump was the worst president in our history. Expect better with Biden.”

Six Days — Countdown to the end of the Trump era

Six Days

Countdown to the end of the Trump era

January 14th 2021

Even without the attempted coup at the Capitol last week, everyone would be on tenterhooks right now. While the threat of any significant violence strikes me as overblown—Gravy Seals and Meal Team Sucks against 20,000 police, National Guard and the Army—there’s little doubt in anyone’s mind that Donald Trump is engaged in what psychiatrists refer to as decompensation. That’s the utter breakdown of a world created by a neurotic and/or psychotic person in the face of implacable reality. Trump is learning, at the end, that he is not widely loved and admired, and his efforts to dominate and bully people is at an end. Not only that, but next week the last of his power vanishes, and he must account for his crimes. He has suffered humiliation after humiliation, from losing the election by a huge margin (and finally having to admit it, if only to himself) to his second impeachment, and the horror of most of the nation at his effort to violently overthrow the election.

Decompensation is a psychological crisis. It results in severe depression, psychotic rage, and a blind lashing out at enemies, real and imagined. It often results in suicide, violence, and/or unbridled acting out, often on the same level as the tantrum of a two-year old.

Case in point: Mike Pence was the most servile lickspittle of all of Trump’s administration. When Pence had to admit that he couldn’t carry out an impossible demand of somehow overturning the Electoral College vote, Trump sent the baying mob to hang Mike Pence. His own vice-president.

The danger signs are so clear and immediate that Congress and the armed forces have (hopefully) taken steps to neutralize some of the destruction a US President is normally capable of. At this hour, it’s not clear that the military will accept orders from their commander-in-chief. In an extraordinary communiqué, the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced they would not participate in any efforts by Trump to reverse the results of the election or prevent President-Elect Joe Biden from taking office.

Hopefully, that addresses another very real fear—that Trump might ignite a major war with Iran or perhaps China as an excuse to declare Martial Law and use that to try to maintain his role as President. Or provoke a domestic crisis (such as the attack on the Capitol) to the same end.

I’ve said for many years that Trump’s best features are his cowardice and his incompetence. He’s great at bullying people, but hopeless at managing them. He demands loyalty but offers none in return.

An amazing example of that trait is happening with the hapless Rudy Giuliani. After offering the barely-qualified Giuliani $20,000 an hour to represent him in court cases, he left it out that being dissatisfied with Rudy’s ability to win any court cases where there was no supporting evidence or even rationale, he wasn’t going to pay Rudy. This the same day he asked Giuliani to lead his legal team in his second impeachment trial in the Senate. (Honestly, I can’t believe I’m writing this stuff. My keyboard wants to crawl under my desk in shame. But it’s all real.)

Trump seems incapable of formulating a business plan, let alone a coherent policy for running a huge nation, and it’s no surprise to anyone familiar with his actual record as a businessman that he would be an utter and inept failure as a president. He doesn’t have the mental wherewithal or the emotional flexibility to deal with crises, even those that are self-generated. His utter inability to address the marches during the spring and summer, or the pandemic, are absolutely true to type. He never had to deal with the huge messes he created throughout his tawdry life from lack of discipline or intelligence, leaving those to an army of Michael Cohens, but as president he created messes too big and too immediate for anyone to brush away.

Having finally realized that he went too far in sending that mob to the Capitol, he gave a scathing denunciation of the violence and damage the mob caused. Trump has made a living out of pissing on people and telling them it’s holy water, but I doubt this particular mob is going to be too pleased, especially since hundreds of them are going to go to jail, branded as traitors, and the thousands more who did nothing worse than protest will be tarred with the same brush. I semi-joked the other day that Q was going to have to explain to his circus of freaks and psychotics that Donald Trump had sold out and joined the deep state conspiracy to destroy Donald Trump.

I’m cautiously optimistic that when President Joe Biden enters the Oval Office (possibly to find a large mound of Donald’s shit on the Resolute desk), it will be without major incident, and only a few inchoate demonstrations on the fringes of the military perimeter and around a few state Capitols.

As for Trump, he may be arrested the same day or at least detained on what we in California call a 5150; restrained because he presents a danger to himself and others. The Southern District of New York supposedly has a fire hose of criminal charges awaiting Trump. And that’s just the beginning.

That’s why Trump has been so desperate and so frightened that he’s willing to destroy the country to remain in office: he faces ruin and prison the minute he stops being President. I have no sympathy: it’s all self-inflicted, and he did immense damage to many people on the way.

If it weren’t for the knee-jerk servility Americans have toward any self-proclaimed successful capitalist, Trump would have never been anything other than a bad joke, in and out of prison on various scams and petty thefts. I doubt people in general will learn from his example, although the lesson is immediate: wealth does not equate to wisdom, honesty, or decency. It never has, and it never will.

In the end, Trump, by becoming President, showed the world what he really was.

And we’ll be paying for that for many years.

Keeping it Lit — Fighting the darkness

Keeping it Lit

Fighting the darkness

January 9th 2021

It was January 6th, and just about the time strange things began happening on Capitol Hill, I turned to my wife and said it was about time to take down the Solstice Tree. The tree itself isn’t anything fancy: a 4’ artificial pine with white LEDs, supplemented by a strip of USB string lights that can flicker, flash, cycle through seven colors and all that neat stuff. We usually take it down about the 5th or so, when we are coming out of what I think of as our Solstice trough. The sunsets already started getting later back around December 15th, and the sunrises started becoming earlier about the 4th of January. It’s all up hill from here. There were also two family birthdays on the 5th and 6th, and that felt like the closure of the holiday season.

My wife looked at the images of the bizarre people trying to overthrow the government and said slowly, “I think I would like to keep the tree up until the 21st this year.”

I didn’t need to ask what she meant. I had already told some people that I wouldn’t consider 2020 to be really over until Inauguration Day, and screw what the calendar thought.

So the tree is still next to my desk, and still lit, and it will stay that way until Joe Biden says, “So help me God” and the nightmare of Trump is officially over. It’s the symbol of hope during a very dark and scary time.

The nation is scrambling, somewhat belatedly, to contain the damage Trump has done. Pelosi and the Joint Chiefs of Staff have sat down and discussed what to do if Trump orders a military action, whether against Iran, China, or Los Angeles, or in the event he wants to launch some nukes. That means the US military is effectively paralyzed for the next 11 days, but that seems a small price to pay if it prevents the most egregious land war yet, or worse, a nuclear conflagration. While that represents a possible exploit for bad actors like Putin or Xi, that it is only eleven days should give them pause. There’s also the fact that Mike Pence is already acting president in all but name (it was he, and not Trump, who finally authorized the National Guard to go into Washington DC and quell the insurrection) and I suspect the Pentagon has quietly agreed to take orders from him, and not the madman in the White House.

Trump’s flathead followers are horrified to learn that they are not the spearhead of a vast national upwelling intent on elevating Trump to dictator for life. The events sparked national outrage on a level not seen since the Civil War. It’s one thing to protest; to invade Congress, kill people, smash property and loot desks, and desecrate national icons crossed a bloody red line. The sight of Confederate flags—the rags of traitors and slavers—being waved in the Rotunda sickened and disgusted most Americans. One group tried, without success, to replace the US flag atop the building with a “Trump 2020” flag.

Trump, who egged them on, promising to march with them to the Capitol, immediately fled, and the next day gave a speech condemning the rioters and looters and calling for them to be punished severely. In other words, he did what he always does to people whose loyalty he demands; he whipped around and fucked them sideways with a chainsaw.

The flatheads lost their little minds, and did what reactionary extremists always do when they realize they’ve lost; they started eating their own entrails to stay alive. I watched people argue simultaneously that Donald Trump was a cowardly cuck (true) and that the video was deep faked (false). One managed to argue that Trump had joined the deep state conspiracy to destroy…Donald Trump. The most cowardly ones tried to claim that Trump supporters were actually Antifa, staging a false flag operation. When I encounter one of those (which I have quite a few times in the past few days) I just tell them to show a little courage and Own. Their. Shit.

Republicans in Congress tried saying nobody could possibly have seen this coming, even though some of the assailants had T-shirts and flags that read, “Civil War II: January 6th, 2021”. No, it wasn’t entirely unexpected. Only the craven behavior of the Capitol Police was unexpected.

Trump rightly gets blamed for the slow response by federal forces—he deliberately refused to let them go in and rescue the Congressional hostages for the simple reason that they were being held as HIS hostages, and he had a demand to make of them. But the images of Capitol police opening doors for the rioters and taking selfies with them mean that it will be many years before the Capitol Police are trusted and respected by anyone. They suffer from the same problem many police forces and the Air Force have: they have been infiltrated by right wing extremists, neo-Nazis, religious freaks and brownshirt bullies, and if America is to survive, this trash must be purged. There’s a reason for the BLM movement, and the same reason is why the neo-Nazis hate BLM so much.

Nobody knows what will happen over the next 11 days, but remember, sanity is on the horizon, and people now recognize Trump and his vicious followers for the danger they are.

Keep the tree lit.

Don’t lose hope. Never lose hope.

The Dawn of Hope — No Hope for Don

December 14th 2020

The Electoral College held its vote today under some of the strangest conditions in American history. In some states threatening mobs gathered outside, hoping to intimidate the electors. In Georgia, some goofs presented themselves to the public as “alternative electors” and voted for Trump. In various spots, there were vigils held by people demanding that Trump be given justice by the courts, something he has already had over 50 times over the past six weeks. He lost every one of them, including to a large number of Trump-appointed judges, plus all three of Trump’s appointees to the Supreme Court.

Of course, Trump WILL be given justice by the courts after he leaves office. But that’s different. If it’s bad for Trump, then it can’t possibly be justice.

The thing, dealing with the dead enders who still believe Trump has been given a second term, is that behind all the bluster and anger and moral rectitude is a level of servility that can’t be described. How DARE the voters defy the Lord? No, they didn’t defy the LORD! Evil forces twisted their will! Trump actually won by 600 million votes, because he is the Lord our God. But Satan is everywhere, in the voting machines, in the Republican states, yeah and verily in the hearts of all the judges and all the state governments that solemnly proclaimed Joe Biden to be a winner.

Surely there is a mistake. God can’t lose an election!

It’s one thing to see Republicans who believe they have a right to rule. They are rich, or at least well-connected, and throughout human history the rich have always assumed they had a right to rule. It’s why human history, by and large, is pretty fucked up. Wealth doesn’t buy wisdom or forbearance or a sense of justice. It just buys hangers-on willing to maintain the illusion of such things as they gouge the people.

Trump supporters, by and large, are in the bottom 90% of American income. They are, by definition, a small percentage of that 90%, but they are noisy and arrogant and sometimes violent in defense of a man whose openly stated talent is the ability to cheat and steal. Yes, Trump supporters, that includes you. Trump’s personal history is littered with the corpses of his supporters. That won’t change.

Trump supporters either prop their belief in that wastrel on either absurdities (“Trump will take care of us!”) or flat out ridiculosities (“Trump has earned the respect of the world!”)

They’ve been drawing in the wagons over the past few weeks as more and more of their illusions are shown to be delusions. Liberals didn’t control the vote. If they did, Mitch McConnell would be long gone, and they would have had huge majorities in the House and Senate. They didn’t even control Georgia, where both Senate races went to runoffs next month which will determine who controls the Senate. There was no fraud, and even Trump’s own lawyers admitted there was no evidence of fraud. China didn’t rig the election. Nor did Hugo Chavez or the Canadian government.

A lot of Republicans had already spun off from the party over the past 12 years as madness enveloped the party. Charles Koch is said to have regretted forming the Tea Party, the font from which much of the madness in today’s GOP flows. The joke making the rounds is that “A moderate Democrat is a Republican who realized just how bat-shit crazy his party had become.”

This brings us to a fabulous creature known as the Oozlum Bird. The Oozlum bird, when startled, will take off and fly around in ever-decreasing circles until it manages to fly up its own backside, disappearing completely. The behavior of the Oozlum bird has been famously used to describe the ever diminishing realities of paranoids and cultists as their views of the world are put under pressure by the steady application of facts.

The Oozlum Bird, from “Carry On Up the Jungle”

Trump has basically already flown up his own ass and vanished at this point. And a lot of the party, including the state A-Gs and pitiful congressionals who voted to support Paxton’s ludicrous effort to have Texas nullify the votes of four other states are finally conceding that yes, Biden did win the election, although quite a few are snarling that as soon as some evidence that
Biden stole it does materialize, they’ll be right back in court.

Meanwhile, they’ve declared war on the GOP and Fox News, which tactically makes as much sense as trying to force the oxygen out of the room you are in.

The right wing trash including the outlaw bikers and the Nazis who have been threatening public officials and roaming the streets of Washington DC and Portland looking for Jews, um, Antifa to beat up are starting to notice they don’t have the support of the people, and without that, they are nothing.

It’s all over but the shouting, and that will go on for quite some time, but for all intents and purposes, the Oozlum bird known as the Trump movement has vanished with an effervescent, if somewhat smelly, pop.