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Among the trees swarm at least 122 distinctly different species of bat, each unique to the Red Forest on the Fat Island of Langostan, in the Middle Seasoning A Capellago. Hardly anyone ever goes there other than bat enthusiasts, professional and amateur, because of the great confusion. But no bat has yet been denied into one or another official taxonomic slot, so it's unclear what is so bewildering. Maybe it's the sheer number of species in so limited a space, no one knows how limited. In any case, the climate is both tropical and sub-tropical, and extremely humid.
Two main genera of bats comprise the numerous species, all but two (of those two exceptions later). These two grand groups are the bug-eaters, which echo-locate, and the fruit-eaters, which do not. The bug-eaters tend to be smaller than the fruit-eaters. Bug- eaters have been known to eat birds on occasion. Particularly vulnerable to predation is the typeface hummingbird, which is the size and shape of an 18-point Times New Roman comma, and the smallest hummingbird known. They only exist in the Red Forest. Happily, they are a prolific species, and swarm in their thousands among the apricot shrubs like minnows amidst seaweed.
Among the bug-eaters are the orchid-nosed bat, the bee bat, the tissue bat, and the glass- eared bat. Each species echo-locates at a unique frequency, in one of the musical modes, frequently Mixolydian.
The fruit-eating bats, or dog-faced bats, seem to be descended from the early wild gliding foxes of Pan-Asia, however they are no relation, except in the very distant sense that all mammals are. As stated above, these bats are neither able nor inclined to echo-locate. They just look around with their eyes. As they are nocturnal, they often bump into things.
While the bug-eaters range in size from that of a bumble-bee to that of a robin, the fruit- eaters are much larger, the largest, the schnauzer dragon, known to possess a wingspan of upwards of eight feet.
The indigo umbrella monkey is of more manageable proportions, meaning it can be fit conveniently into an overnight train case, although one should expect it to be displeased with the experience. The indigo umbrella is one of the above-mentioned species falling neither into one major genera nor the other. It eats both insects and fruit, as well as birds, roots, tree bark, fungi, cheese, small prey animals, snakes, snake eggs, cake, buns, onion rings, flower nectar, and carrion.
I have just remembered one supremely annoying aspect of traveling to any of the Islands of Langostan, or anywhere in the Middle Seasoning A Capellago: the in-flight service on the regional Barcola Airlines. Never is anything given gratis aboard an intra-coastal flight on this airline. Everything, from ear buds to ice, is for purchase only, and the flight attendants take frequent strolls up and down the strangely wide aisles calling out, "hot dogs, food for sale, pretzels, salt cod, milk, prawns, pig tails, peas, king fish, purple yam mush," and "hay cerveza coca cola limonada naranjada agua fresca." The prices aren't unreasonable, but on returning to the civilized world of normal things, like complimentary ice, one has the unpleasant feeling of having been nickel-and-dimed at every opportunity.
As the reader or listener has probably surmised, the umbrella monkeys are a sub-category of fruit-eaters, the indigo one being only ambivalently positioned among that crowd due to its freakish dietary habits. The umbrella monkeys are so-called because of their baboon-like faces, the umbrella-like curvature of their wing-support fingerbone structure, and their propensity to climb in the upper branches of trees.
Interestingly enough, among the umbrella monkeys, or climbing umbrellas, or umbrella spiders, or simply umbrellas, is found another exception to the fruit-eater vs. bug-eater bifurcation: the yellow umbrella, alluded to in the Grouse Family novelty song, "Yella Umbrella."
Your yella umbrella
Yella umbrella has nevuh looked swella Wella wella
A yella umbrella
Dote dote dody-o dote"
The yellow umbrella is the color of a very yellow yellow Labrador retriever, and its shorthaired face looks quite like a miniature version of the canid's visage, though its torso resembles more a plump angora rabbit-like thing, except when swimming, hunting its favorite food, fish, as well as river polyps, with its wings clutched to its sides, at which time it looks like a blonde tailless dogfaced river otter with a spidery external ribcage webbed with yellow leather.
While bug-eaters echo-locate and fruit-eaters do not, the yellow umbrella, though ostensibly in the latter clan, uses something akin to radar. It emits radio waves at frequencies in a narrow band range between 88.3 and 91.7 megahertz, commonly known as the college radio or public radio transmission ghetto, though its signals rarely interfere with radio programing due to its limited broadcast range. You would have to bring a yellow umbrella into a studio and broadcast its signals via antenna to detect them, as people do, now and then, for reasons described below. A gland or organ, approximately the size and shape of a quail egg or new potato, situated below the bat's sternum, produces the electromagnetic emission.
When the yellow umbrella's signals have ever been translated into audible sound, something quite strange has occurred: the pulses are invariably a gargly, high-pitched phrase in Spanish, Portuguese, Garifuna, Q'eqchi', Mopan, Mayan, Creole, Plautdeitsch, or English, similar in a way to the mimicry of a parrot, but in content always with a leftist slant. This may be due to the left leanings of visitors to the Red Forest, who concern themselves with ecological conservancy, indigenous rights, resource management, bats, and other like preoccupations. "Free the Adoaxaji" was one, referring to the Red Forest's indigenous inhabitants, another, "Crush the Patriachy." "Abolish Debt." "Dissolve the IMF." "Private Property is Theft from the People." "Abolish Prison." Yet another was, "Ban Slash and Burn," though that would have been thought to refer to a destructive agricultural practice in the Amazon region, fifteen hundred miles from the Red Forest.
Along similar lines, for a long time, the signals dissented to the rule of Brazil's fascist president. "Down with Bolsonaro" was the sole phrase they would broadcast for months, whenever brought into the local transmission station by jocular anti-fascists. The President was quite embarrassed by this and tried his best to influence policy in the A Capellago, over which he has zero jurisdiction, cajoling and wheedling any way he could to get someone to hunt the yellow umbrellas to extinction, or ruin their habitat, or restrict leftwing travel to the Red Forest, or encourage rightwingers to go there and march through the undergrowth shouting pro-Bolsonaro slogans. President Donald Dump, at times explicitly or implicitly a target of the signals, attempted to exert influence with threats of a trade embargo, to no avail. None of either demagogue's efforts was the least bit effective. The signals of the yellow umbrella monkey bat, one of only three semi- aquatic umbrella monkey species, remain firmly on the Marxist to post-Marxist end of the ideological spectrum, much to the chagrin of the ruling and owning elite in the region and beyond, and to the delight of activists, academics, revolutionaries, scientists, teachers, folk singers, investigative journalists, liberation clergy and their congregations, and podcasters.
For the time being, protected by impish activists, and their popularity with the region's populace, the bats of the Red Forest of the Fat Island can be expected to flourish. On average, at least one never-before seen species of bat is discovered there each year, to say nothing of the as-yet-undiscovered possible curative properties of one or another bat's guano. And almost everyone agrees that, with the amount of batshit barraging us daily in the world, it would be nice if some of it turned out to have a use.
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Brett Kavanaugh is unfit to be the judge of an ugliest dog contest, let alone a justice of the Supreme Court. In the hours after his crackpot performance before his questioning by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, where he whined, hollered, spat, wept, and carped that he was the victim of a well-funded revenge conspiracy by the Clintons to destroy him and his family, I heard an NPR anchor say that he "came out swinging." He came out flailing. Flailing is different from swinging. By swinging, one might hit a target on purpose. Flailing is involuntary movement caused by panic and fury. While flailing, one will hit many unintended targets.
We all saw it. Those predisposed toward anger at the Dump regime under which we have been forced to live by a supposed safety valve in the electoral system, which it turns out only provides safety from punishment to wealthy criminals, we were already antagonistic to this over-privileged bigot, this Kavanaugh. Instead of disarming us with charm, or with his awkwardly sparse admission that sexual assault is, yes, a bad thing, he played the aggrieved victim. Women who have been through the consequences of reporting sexual assault already know what it means to be the victim of a massive conspiracy, a conspiracy entrenched in our culture for centuries. Kavanaugh's bitter rage at the thwarting of his entitlement only made him unsympathetic and, apparently, out of control of his faculties. Testerical.
Thursday morning, before Lindsey Graham and others attempted to pile on the Democrats by mimicking Kavanaugh's grotesque invocation, I was due to supply producer Alex with my tease for today's Moment of Truth. I could have supplied a tease that avoided commitment. I could've said, "Saturday, Jeffy scrapes grease off the skillet." That's pretty non-committal. Or I could have come at it obliquely, saying, "Saturday, Jeffy takes a close look at Kavanaugh's penis." Kind of just rude, without saying anything of substance. But what if it comes out tomorrow, I worried, after I've teased my tease, that Kavanaugh doesn't have a penis? That he lost it in nursery school? It wouldn't do to mention it. That's cruel, even if the guy is a sexual thug. And we're all assuming he is. Mostly because of his face. I mean, that guy's mug says entitled, cruel, misogynist sex criminal all over it.
Which isn't really fair of me. I mean, it could be that the guy never did anything. I believe in believing the victim, but once you say, "Believe the victim," you've already claimed that the person is a victim. Anyone is capable of lying about anything. Any number of people are capable of lying about any number of things. All things considered the chance that Ford is inventing things is unlikely, though. And there's Kavanaugh's face. That horrid, punchable face. And that he has some unaccounted-for pay-off of a debt, and he apparently lied to Congress, and there's his face. And his gambling problem. And that face.
I mean, if I were a real feminist of faith, my tease would've been triumphant and predictive. "Jeffy waves bye-bye to Kavanaugh." But I'm just an ally. It makes me nimble, being an ally. I'd like to say I'm a feminist, because I like feminists and feminism, but I don't presume to be one. I don't think I have a sufficiently sophisticated understanding of the issues. And I don't have faith that Kavanaugh's appointment will be derailed. Because the people with the most influence over the process are assholes.
I do hate Kavanaugh. He's going to do away with the constitutional guarantee of abortion choice, which has already been eroded. Abortion is already effectively illegal in many parts of the US, due to lack of availability of the service. It's almost entirely illegal for poor rural women. And that's unhealthy. Abortion being illegal is unhealthy for women. It can be deadly. It criminalizes women's sovereignty over their own bodies. It criminalizes their choices of how to live. Abortion being illegal is a violent state of affairs.
So, that's a pretty good reason to lie. If you thought women were under a violent threat, you might lie to do something about it. Lie about being sexually assaulted. Right? Even if it meant enduring public humiliation? I mean, I wouldn't blame someone for lying under those circumstances. If it really was a logical decision. If the women in question really believed that false accusations would somehow protect abortion from being made illegal. But I don't think anyone's really making that calculation. That's a calculation the GOP and their operatives might make, but the Dems don't have it in them. These aren't City of Chicago Machine Dems, these are national-level Dems, who don't even think they need to do the normal, legal stuff to protect poor people. Why would they pay to do something underhanded to achieve anything that doesn't directly elect one of their own egomaniacs to office? What's in it for them?
And if you watched Ford's testimony before the Senate, you are probably confident that what she is saying is the truth.
It's not that Ford doesn't want Kavanaugh on the court whether he did something to her or not. She doesn't want Kavanaugh on the court because he did something to her. It makes no sense otherwise. Dump's been accused of sexual assault and hasn't suffered at all. There's no reason for Ford to believe Kavanaugh would suffer, especially if her claim were untrue, but even if it is true. If she is a sane person, and I guess we got a sense that she is, now that that's established, then the Republicans have to focus on their other arguments: "it was a long time ago," and "boys will be boys," and "he did the hard work of being white and male and working his butt off and being a privileged football player who ran in certain circles and thus has a right to expect this appointment." And they seem determined to appoint Kavanaugh based on those arguments. And I don't think, to a majority of voters, that that's going to feel like a persuasive set of arguments. The people are going to say, "What awful people those Republicans are. They're so awful, I wouldn't blame a woman for lying about their Supreme Court nominee. It's exactly what they deserve."
Evil, worthless human beings like Dump and Kavanaugh deserve to be lied about. But that's their ace in the hole. Their very unfitness for public service is their best argument. "We're awful. Yes, maybe we did sexually assault women, and we're so awful we probably did. But that's exactly why someone might lie to get us thrown out of our positions of power! Because we're terrible people. We deserve it, whether we did it or not. We're horrible. There's your reasonable doubt!"
The paradox of accusing someone capable of doing what they're accused of is that their obvious lack of decency gives a false accuser a motive for making a false accusation.
This is the trajectory Ronald Reagan's partnership with the ruin-government crowd launched us on, the path on which Newt Gingrich happily propelled us further, where this treacherous, unprincipled Congress has led us, and where Dump,who has commandeered the helm, has plunged us: through the looking glass. This is a Mad Hatter-level paradox, rendering all moral meaning completely nonsensical. Once the cowardly rightwing voters allowed these Teabaggers and Santorum dribblers into power, the die was cast. The concept of something being true would crumble. Kindness seems the least likely of things. Moral courage seems a comical suggestion. I'm not the first to point out that, when lying leadership gets overtly evil enough, no accusation it makes about a threat to itself can be ruled out. Nothing it asserts can be weighed on the normal scale of plausibility. We don't know what's going on anymore. All we know is we want it to stop.
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Imagine a world with so many TV shows you didn't know what to watch, who was watching what, or when you'd ever have time to become somewhat culturally literate. Was that show about the dead people returning but not as flesh-eating zombies on last year or six years ago? And what about the one that was similar to that one, but you just couldn't get through episode four? If you were to begin watching it again, would Netflix remember where in the episode you left off? Sometimes it does that. What about that show about a murder in Sweden? Or was that the American version? Is Jessica Jones still relevant? Did they ever say how he met your mother? What about that show that was a montage of every ethnicity and sexuality engaged in a mental orgy across time and space because they were somehow related to Daryl Hannah? Or did I dream that?
Imagine a world with a century's worth of content packed into a decade and a half. Well, that world is this one we're in now. I think, unless I'm thinking of a TV show about a world like that.
Cultural touchstones are following each other so rapidly, they've created microgenerations. I can't even give examples because, although 50 is the new 30, culturally it's the new 130. I'm culturally a hundred fifty-five years old, and that's by conservative estimates. At least I'm young for a vampire.
The world of sitcoms would have ended for me with the era of "All in the Family," the world of comedians, the era of Richard Pryor, but even olds like Milton Berle and Jerry Lewis weren't entirely of the past. Later it was only by dating younger women that I learned to be conversant in the Powerpuff Girls, Missy Elliott, and Chris Rock. And then being briefly married to a middle-school teacher caught me up on Sean Paul, hot chips, and Dave Chappelle.
The young people these days are no help, though. They're even more at sea than their myriad strata of elders. A friend of mine in the movie and music industries said she'd overheard some millennials complaining about being unfamiliar with the artists at this year's Video Music Awards. My friend has a pretty panoramic eye on the popular arts, so she was astounded to hear that these kids had never heard of Ariana Grande, and whoever else the new crop of, I guess, post-millennials were up on.
Microgenerations. I came up with the brand, and I regret it, but the genie's out of the bottle. We're not even halfway to adulthood before a new generation starts. A generation used to last 40 to 70 years. Last year it was, like, 7.7 years and you'd have to master a whole new array of cultural code. This year it's been sliced down to 3.35 years. A generation is irrelevant every 3.35 years. Your five-year-old is an over-the-hill stroker of the chin, wistful rememberer-of-when, longing for the good old days by the age of 8 and a half. Early onset senescent delirium begins at your bar mitzvah. Think how disturbing that kind of acceleration can be to a society we're all supposed to be creating together.
Now, I'm old. To me, Lorde and Sia are new artists. I don't even know if the artists and eras I mentioned earlier match up in chronology, or really are contemporaneous with the relationships and the marriage I vaguely associate them with. I'm in the same boat as these millennials and post-millennials, whom time is passing by. Except I have more layers of temporal trivia to get lost in. And the starmaker machinery keeps pumping out more kids, who turn into adults, who make new songs I can't get stuck in my head, they're too slippery and too small (my memory is big, it's the songs that got small), songs without melodies that all sound the same, and new standup comics with new comedy that's not funny cuz it's not supposed to be, and new romcoms that aren't funny in the same way romcoms never are funny, but with new stars barely distinguishable from the slightly older ones, whose facial features also haven't even developed yet out of the porcelain fetal putty they lie latent within.
And I think they're doing it on purpose. The big They. Not the Alex Jones They, but a related They, like, Illuminati adjacent. Think about it. They killed Bowie, Prince and Aretha, the only three artists we all, of any age, could agree on. Now we're lost in this semiotic labyrinth, blown around like confetti by currents of a commercial maelstrom howling through its corridors. Sometimes I have to listen to Sly and the Family Stone for an hour or two just to keep from putting my own eyes out so no more product gets into my head.
I find classic 70s funk is a solid anchor amid the storm. But these poor old-and-in-the- way post-millennials already getting long in the tooth, what will they have? Does Lana Del Rey count as a memory? Will they hearken back to her? Is Katy Perry riding a lion at Superbowl halftime an anchor in a storm, or is it too dreamlike to steady them on the sea- battered barque of the present moment? Li'l Uzi, Kendrick Lamar, are the old youngsters down with them? Will those artists constitute future conduits to a soothing nostalgia? Or will this time be remembered as an era of instability, and looking back on it no more grounding to a troubled soul than the memory of combat to a veteran with PTSD?
The third season of Twin Peaks is turning out, in away, to be the perfect artistic product of our time. And there are millennials who were way into it. The show's continuous undercurrent of violence against women, casting its shadow on all activity, the grasping for identity in a technological landscape at once decayed, rusted, yet unfathomably magic in its newness, the FBI reliant on Buddhist mysticism, never certain who they themselves are or whom they can trust to remain human, the persistence of past nuclear devastation into the future, the frightening echoes of arcane nursery rhymes and childhood trauma, the madness of repetition and addiction. But as appropriate as it may be as an artifact of our situation, what the hell kind of twisted anchor is it? We want a rock to cling to. But resting your weary soul on Twin Peaks can be as restful as trying to climb a mountain of non-Newtonian spaghetti.
In the 17th century, the nostalgic got to sit back and say, "Remember that play we saw about the Danish prince who suspected his mother and uncle of murdering his father?" They might even have remarked on the psychological depth of the characters Shakespeare, that bold new author, had created. "Yeah, that really stayed with me. How Hamlet needed more certainty, but in his search for certainty all he created was more doubt and despair. That was pretty cool," they might have said. Albeit erected on a foundation of indecision, that Elsinore is a rock. Compared to our era of shuffling identities, time out of sequence, unfocused anxiety, and eternal evil – mere indecision sounds like bliss.
You guys do know who Shakespeare was, right?
This goes back to something I discussed way back in 2009: the long view versus imbecilical time. Here I quote myself:
"In imbecilical time, noses need to be blown, petty arguments must be hashed out, dogs must be walked, lost keys must be found, strange smells must be dealt with, on top of which all the great, ambiguous, complex and long wisdom of the ages is, of course, strangled by ideology, bowdlerized and oversimplified, and crammed into bottles for contemporary consumption."
We struggle to maintain our footing on the shifting ice of multiple zeitgeists. It's important to have something bigger than your imbecilical time to hold onto, a solid place to stand. What is that thing? The Illuminati adjacent and their client billionaires have been chipping away at our foundation bit by bit. I'm happy see people of all ages returning to that old-time revolution, and I hear the desire to use it, not as a way back to the past, but as a way to explore and fashion the future. The future, though, is getting harder and harder to believe in. No future for you, for us. We need the future to have something to aim at. But, jeez, it's so butt-ugly.
But that old-time revolution. Prying loose the grip of the cruel, the heartless, the greedy, making them give the world back. Okay, forget the butt-ugly future. This is the long now. We have to keep our eye on the ongoing project, because it's not finished. It may never be finished. Because, unlike a series binge, nothing real is ever finished.
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I was reading a paper by a friend of mine, John Hartigan, a professor who teaches anthropology and sociology at the University of Texas in Austin. In it he shared this:
"In my classrooms, I ask students to look around at their peers and try to describe the range of skin tones present. It is quickly very apparent that 'black' and 'white' don't cut it—there is too much variation—and that really what we use race to do is classify people into a small set of categories."
His paper is about the value of genetic studies of Neanderthals, and how our attempts to distinguish between "us" and "them" are becoming more and more fruitless as we learn more about Neaderthals' very human behaviors. The illustrative anecdote about his classroom is a lead-in to a discussion about race being socially constructed. But implications in his paper evoke a world of errors we make in dividing groups in ways that flatter ourselves, whether we're aware of our biases or not.
My last Moment of Truth laid out the case for viewing supporters of Donald Dump as fitting Karl Popper's description of the intolerant, whom those in a tolerant society ought not tolerate. I ended with a tiny bit of irony, I like to think, saying, "Really rub their faces in your decency," or something like that. I think such irony was appropriate to a paradoxical premise like not tolerating the intolerant.
There is certainly behavior that is not to be tolerated, and some betrayals of rational discourse qualify as intolerable. Some Dump supporters seem to rely on bad-faith discourse as a way of propping up their bad-faith politics, and their continued devotion to a demagogue who evinces vile, corrupt, and self-serving behavior on a daily basis.
The Failing New York Times, which recently posted its most profitable quarter in years, hired a writer of color, Sarah Jeong, who, it was discovered, had tweeted a large volume of bile against white people over the years. One example was something about having no sympathy for the deaths of white people. Another said she enjoyed being cruel to elderly white men. She's no Hari Kondabolu. They were flat statements, not even couched in wit. Not couched in anything except the fact that she was of Korean descent. Which for some people wasn't enough couching.
Articles damning her and leftist intolerance were trotted out from the recent past or created spontaneously in response. The most salient arguments were that anti-white rhetoric on the left, especially in academia, where most of these writers' ire is directed, is not only rampant and doctrinaire in a quasi-religious sense, but also serves the elitist project of stigmatizing "out" groups, who haven't learned to internalize the left's cultish rules. And one of the main "out" groups is whites of a lower economic class. Basically, anti-whiteness is not really anti-whiteness, because "woke" whites (i.e. elite whites) can espouse it with logical consistency in "woke" culture. Left anti-whiteness is really anti- poor-whiteness. It's elitist, and serves to keep poor white people, as well as speech that would challenge left political pieties, out of the academy. Education is one of the gateways out of poverty. The left is supposed to want to end poverty. They're hypocrites.
There are a few things wrong with this calculation, and the worst is that it is a calculation, and not a true concern about upending the economic power structure that keeps poor people poor. Andrew Sullivan, one of the complaining writers, is hardly a socialist, or even that interested in redistributing wealth more equitably. The exercise is really just finger-pointing and assertions of hypocrisy meant to tar the left with the brush the left is supposed to be using to tar capitalism. The right who call the left hypocrites are the real hypocrites.
That doesn't mean the argument lacks validity. That doesn't mean certain left and left- academic scenes aren't de facto churches with dogmas of anti-whiteness and anti- maleness. I know firsthand that some are. But the academy is no more monolithic than humans are. I also know the reverse, people fighting against the white and European- centered bias in fields like Medieval Studies, where they're struggling coherently and earnestly against power in academic organizations that seem disingenuously clueless about their exclusion of people of diverse identities, as well as ideas that challenge the White European near-monopoly on the narrow definition of what their field can be about. Those legitimately challenging these white patriarchal bodies find themselves dismissed, tarred with the brush of political correctness.
Most who've matured out of the hazing, backbiting and virtue-signaling in any leftish political scene look on simplistic, arrogant political correctness today with generous pity. That generous pity is, admittedly, patronizing, but it's hard not to be generous to those whose hearts are, at least ostensibly, in the right place. Yet it's equally difficult not to be patronizing toward unreasonable, self-destructive people. It's that or take them down a peg, and let me tell you, no one but a smug billionaire is higher on their peg than a leftist who knows all the right things to think and say and is ready to tell you what they are at the slightest provocation. It may be hard to admit – it's certainly hard to discuss in any depth with the unreasonable – but the left, like any group of people, has its share of sycophants, egotists, manipulative jerks, conformists, mindless yes-people, self-righteous fools, and those who simply enjoy being mean for personal reasons. The left is just people. And many of us are wrong about many, many things. And we assume we're not wrong because we're on the side of good. You know, the way Evangelical Christians do.
There are those who will say that this is my white privilege talking, and I'm not one to doubt the many obvious and hidden benefits accruing to me by my being white, so I'll just repeat ideas I've heard many black socialists aver: class solidarity and critiquing the economic power structures that oppress us all is key to building an effective resistance and to creating change. Yes, they are power structures that assuredly favor whites, but not whites alone.
Socialists who ignore racism and other strains of systemic and quasi-systemic xenophobia do so at the risk of failing vast numbers of powerless people. It's a historical truth that's been assimilated into current leftist discourse, if not always leftist action, and the socialist commitment to seeking and empowering diversity needs to be continually maintained by all. But leftists who get distracted from the battle against the actually powerful, the massively destructive powerful, as opposed to the "coded" powerful or the "linguistically" powerful or the "micro-aggressively" powerful (who of course replicate the oppression of their oppressors – and make no mistake, poor white people are oppressed) – leftists who somehow don't believe the patriarchy can be replicated by non- white and non-cis-male oppressors risk failing, and thereby losing the solidarity of, vast numbers of powerless people, and not just white ones.
It's necessary for people of color and queerness of all kinds to talk about and act against the oppression they experience every day in white hetero-normative society. History shows that, otherwise, their oppression will be ignored by white hetero-normative leftists. But it's equally necessary that the left never allow our focus on the power that comes from control of material wealth to waiver. It's time for our species to outgrow the need for abusively unequal distribution of resources. We have to do it. We should have done it ages ago. It's killing vast numbers of people and animals and plants.
When the left shrinks the many categories of humans down to "us" and "them," we're also replicating our own oppression. Some of us are subverting it in this way. But if you're not careful, if your subversion is shallow, then you're at worst a problem to your comrades, at best a mere cartoon. Cartoons are great for agitation and propaganda, but most problems in the world require complex thoughts, strategy, and a soupçon of finesse.
The fact is, it's fun to be mean, blunt, and stupid. It's hilarious. It's one of the great comic tactics. Being mean to yourself and being mean to others. And, let's face it, white people are horrible. Even when they're nice, they're horrible, because behind their niceness, or around it or inside it, whether perceived or actually there, is a brutal, imperialist oppressor offering small pox blankets. Somewhere around or behind or inside me is an inbred, possum-eating, lynching, backwoods redneck of every civilized person's Deliverance nightmares. When I go to eat Chinese food in Monterey Park, I'm actually forcing the proprietors of Chengdu Taste to build the railroad from the Mississippi to the Pacific. And, hey, no one puts a gun to my head in the morning and says, "Be white today, or else." It's my choice.
It might be as hard for a white person to be a true ally as it is for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. But people are capable of doing difficult things. And even Neaderthals were people. The differences between you and your enemy might not be as great or as many as you might like to think.
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The late champion of liberal democratic rationalism, Karl Popper, said, "[I]f we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them... we should claim the right to suppress [the intolerant] if necessary even by force; for it may easily turn out that they are not prepared to meet us on the level of rational argument, but begin by denouncing all argument[.]"
Two groups are at odds these days: the MAGAts, and everyone else. MAGAts can often be identified by their red baseball caps with the words "Make America Great Again" in white letters above the bill. The caps are worn to protest the loss of US manufacturing jobs to China, and are manufactured in China. Not true, according to Snopes. But believable. Truthy!
MAGAts don't always wear hats. They can also be identified by their ideological and aspirational fealty to a sleazy real estate developer, who was born with a fake Rolex on his wrist and mentored by Senator Joe McCarthy's scummy lawyer, Roy Cohn – himself such a caricature of a slimy shyster that even the swarthiest Jews in the arms-for-blood-diamonds business are offended by having to share a cultural identity with him. This sleazy real estate developer, who goes by the name Donald Dump, sports a comb-over of bottle-blond fibers that renders his appearance a perfect metaphor for his moral character as well as his aesthetic taste. Donald Dump found Liberace's domestic decor understated.
MAGAts believe that immigrants and other foreigners, rather than the finance industry, overweening corporations, and self-aggrandizing mega-robber-barons, are to blame for workers' depressed wages, buying power, and standard of living in the United States, and they've finally elected someone as their Leader who will not only feed them this line of monkey gland sauce they find so delicious, but even take bold steps to put on scattered Lysenko-esque showcase versions of remedying what is actually not the problem.
In a global civilization slowly killing itself with fossil fuel emissions, industrial fertilizer and cattle farts, MAGAts believe the answer to all their problems is a bloated John Jacob Astor/Benito Mussolini hybrid reviving the coal industry, so that we may return the once great American sky to its once great condition as a gray- black death shroud over London during the industrial revolution, and thus complete the Dickensian metamorphosis of our ostensibly free society.
They believe making America great again means turning it economically and environmentally into 19th century London, with the gun laws of 19th century Deadwood. And they believe a man who is physical unable to utter an honest sentence, who bilks and abuses those who work for him, who pays women he has extramarital intercourse with to keep quiet about it, insults the appearance of others in the most juvenile way, and gets a giddy kick out of denying manmade climate change, the moral repugnance of neo-Nazis, the veracity of the first black president's birth certificate, and any other self-evident truth he senses his supporters would enjoy hearing him deny – this is the man MAGAts believe will return the United States to the mythical god-fearing, upright, chaste, polite society of their nostalgic Country Time Lemonade delusions, a place where white people will be able to do an honest day's work for an honest day's pay, in dignity. Everyone else, they believe, deserves poverty, prison or to be exiled and terrorized in a former colony of one the great European empires.
MAGAts believe that white people – white men, especially – are being uniquely shafted under an ethos that rewards gays and black people with special rights, like the rights to marry, attend decent schools, and vote. MAGAts are classically bigoted, in the Klan and National Socialist mode, against non-whites, non-Protestants, non- heterosexuals, and non-men. Finally, they are overjoyed by a political leader spouting overt disdain for the rights of human beings to due process, liberty, and the right of the press and the people to dissent, while his rhetoric emboldens the neo- fascist elements in our polarized culture.
So it's only natural that we should hate them, given the hate they have for us and the BS they back it up with. When one of them – take Alan Dershowitz, for example – bemoans being shunned by his former friends, or another of them fantasizes the injustices they would endure were they to drive through a so-called "liberal enclave" with a MAGA bumper sticker, they are met with anything but sympathy by decent society.
Why a MAGA bumper sticker, anyway? Why not something pleasant? Like a bumper sticker that reads, "I Love You, Sardines?" and then drive their car into the ocean and bring the fishes, who work so hard to feed us, a little warmth into their cold, salty lives? They should do something generous, if only from a publicity standpoint. Sure, it's a scary neighborhood, the sardine part of town, but if you spend a short eternity there you'll see sardines are just like you and me. Take the plunge.
Is it rude, is it uncivil, to shun, stigmatize, and hate the MAGAts? Aren't we just as bad as they are if we ostracize, berate, or clobber them? No. We will never be as bad as them. That's the point. They are worse than us. They believe untrue things, and are even jazzed about embracing and spreading ugly untruths that support their fascist beliefs. They want to continue believing that pursuing their version of America, the 19th Century London-Deadwood version, is going to be good for everyone, and if not for everyone, at least for those who play by their rules: admit that white people and men are the best people, Christianity is the best religion, and a blatant and not even very clever liar is the best President. These are beliefs we must extinguish from political acceptability. MAGAtism must be oppressed, discredited, mocked, and eradicated wherever it appears.
I know I'm preaching to the choir, but I also know that this choir has a tendency toward empathy. When it comes to MAGAts, their leaders, and their sloganeers on Fox News Channel and elsewhere, you must fight your tendency to forgive folly. You have to pause, take a deep, mindful breath, realize what these motherscooters are trying to achieve, and lash out irrationally and with unabashed fury. There is no reason to consider their point of view. There is no value to any of their sob stories. Anyone might have an almost identical sob story, yet somehow not have allowed it to turn them into a fascist idiot. There is no room for compassion. No time for it. No reason for it.
If there is a god, Donald Dump is her most botched creation. What was she going for? A duck? A pig? How did human DNA get in him? Was he conceived by a human mother and father? Or was it a mingling of fractured chromosomes suspended in a syrup of rat pus, cockroach urine, and rapist sputum, injected into the anus of a armadillo rotting alive from radiation poisoning? But that would mean he and Ann Coulter are siblings.
That's right, choir, don't be cowed into tolerance. Don't let yourselves be beguiled by the resemblance between MAGAts and Homo sapiens. Work on dehumanizing them in your mind's eye. Imagine having the opportunity to inflict suffering on a MAGAt, or a whole family of MAGAts. Offer no quarter. Demonstrate no compassion unless necessary. And I mean absolutely necessary. Like if you think you're being filmed.
Of all the things that are in short supply right now, kindness is the resource of which we are most in need. Don't waste it on MAGAts. Of course you will pity them. They are self-destructive fools. Of course you will be moved to tears by a MAGAt who has lost their home because a heartless multibillionaire couldn't be bothered to pay his fair share of taxes or his workers a decent wage. Your heartstrings will be tugged by the tale of a MAGAt who has had to file bankruptcy due to medical bills but still insists that a single-payer system will turn the USA into Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge. And yes, most MAGAts have more respect for human dignity than Donald Dump has. It would difficult to be as horrible a person in any respect as Donald Dump.
If a MAGAt is drowning, should you throw it a rope? If a MAGAt is choking on a Tic- Tac, should you give it a charitable Heimlich? If a MAGAt child is about to eat a Tide pod, should you prevent it? Yes, yes, of course. We're not heartless, after all. We're not made of stone, or of MDF, that compressed fiberboard that MAGAt hearts are made of. Just remember, don't take your humanity too far. But if you have a chance to both rescue a MAGAt from certain tragedy and gloat about it, I say, really rub their faces in your decency.
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Talking with some of the regulars at Lily's Coffee at the Laurel Canyon Country Store Monday morning, I was led to an epiphany of sorts. You know how I love my epiphanies. We were talking about how pet philosophies seem to wear out their usefulness after a while. Obviously this isn't something that troubles philosophers who spend their lives developing their thought shenanigans, but for those of us groping through the fever of our lives, merely splashing our faces with philosophies here and there, who don't have the time or desire to dive deep into the currents of thought, for us a thought-pool like Existentialism or Stoicism, used as a handy refresher of perspective skimmed off the surface of better thinkers' deeper explorations – well, we go through these like Wet Wipes. Because we're not plumbing the depths of ideas, we're busy working and sweating and eating spare ribs or barely eating anything and getting all sloppy, and we just want something to wipe off the day's accretion of schmutz.
Whenever I think I've got the tiger by the tail, and keep swinging that tiger around, knocking obstacles out of my way, day after day, I eventually find the tiger doesn't swing the way it used to. My grip on the tail loosens out of habit, or maybe lack of mindfulness, and the tiger itself becomes emaciated and moth-eaten. Eventually I'm holding nothing by the tail. The tail itself has dissolved. The obstacles don't comply, and they're different somehow. The landscape has changed. Finding a new tiger doesn't help, can't get the same grip, it's just no good swinging tigers anymore.
As with mental constructs, so with systems and objects in the material world. After many a strike, the subtle rotation of the wrist no longer gets the bowling ball into the pocket. Musical styles begin to wear on the nerves. The car wears out and croaks a dusty death. To a hammer everything looks like nail, but everything isn't a nail. It never was. That way of seeing only stood the hammer in good stead temporarily. Approaches and equipment need to be refreshed and renewed.
Amish Tripathi is an Indian author of adventure fiction, known best for his first series of books, the Shiva Trilogy. He asserts that the initial novel, The Immortals of Meluha, began as a treatise on the nature of evil. How did the immortals of Meluha become immortal? Easy! They drank the somras, the elixir of immortality.
The somras was discovered in an earlier age, but the Meluhans figured out how to manufacture it. In manufacturing it, though, they polluted the rivers and created an underclass of monsters with whom they refused to share either their somras or the bounty being immortal brought. They also took all the good land and diverted the polluted rivers into the underclass areas. It's all this big-ass allegory, although for Amish Tripathi it's also a truth based on his Shaiva bhakti beliefs.
A cosmic principle emerges from the history of the somras. Anything, no matter how good at the beginning, becomes evil eventually. By their nature, people keep doing what once worked, over and over, even after it stops working. Like democracy in the United States. It's not something you can tweak and fix. Eventually the thing is so broken and has accumulated so much evil that it must simply be destroyed, and a new system or ambrosia or source of wisdom or energy be found.
In the Hindu stories of the sourcing of the Amrita, the immortality elixir, the Asuras, or demons, are tricked out of receiving the Amrita. So even in the original history, the somras or equivalent thereof was derived in an unjust way.
Let's say capitalism is our somras today, and the system has accumulated so much negativity as to be all but useless, except to the minority of humans amassing immense wealth. This is a simplistic analogy, but as always with these epiphanies, bear with me. Capitalism was born out of colonialism and mercantilism, and some of its early negative features were wars of conquest and slavery. Negative features which have continued to this day, it turns out. Conceived in injustice, and accumulating injustice.
But what if it was the very injustice that was the system? It certainly seems that civilization was created on the backs of slaves and workers, built on their corpses.
Historically and prehistorically, some small, arrogant class of people has always managed to figure out how to profit absurdly at the expense of everyone else. It began long before Homer sang, before Gilgamesh sought Enkidu, before the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors, before the Polynesians set sail to discover their islands.
A subgroup of any larger civic entity will select a special person to declare their loyalty to, defend that person's or family's designation of specialness, and enforce it on others. And maybe there was at one time something excellent about the special person. Genghis Khan was an excellent horseman, apart from his prodigious horniness, charisma, and enthusiasm for violence. Or perhaps there were better horsemen. What he excelled at most was raising armies.
Each generation felt they had found the best measure of merit according to which they would hoist one or another person to a throne. Kings deserved the throne because God had chosen them. Popes, the same. Caliphs and Emperors had valor or skill in war. In the mercantile age the cleverest, most risk-taking, and luckiest traders and investors accumulated their merit in the form of coin.
But I think we can see from the current leadership all over the world that merit has little or nothing to do with where in the social hierarchy one finds oneself. The top people today suck at being people, much less leaders. God, they're worthless. All they do is suck up wealth and hoard it in their unconscionable oodles and scads.
From where did the notion come of rewarding meritorious people with material goods, anyway? Aren't honors enough? Isn't the adoration of the public enough? Do you really require more and better food, housing, education and medical care than someone unlovable and disinclined to swordsmanship or software design? Perhaps there was a shortage of the necessities of life at one time, but now there's not, and if there were, we're ingenious enough to fix it. I understand rewarding people with awards and affection, but cheese? Carrots? Linen? Plaster? Floorboards? How many floorboards does a nurse merit, and how many does a brain surgeon merit?
And how much education does the child of a shipping magnate merit, versus the child of a garbage collector?
I suppose, at one time, material incentives spurred on inventors and rewarded the clever, along with the undeserving but lucky. Today, though, I'm pretty sure that everyone who has a roof over their head is luckier, not better, than someone who doesn't. I don't see them meriting the roof more than the roofless, and in any case it is entirely within our power to house everyone, if people like, say, an Arizona Senator would give up 6 or 7 of his houses.
But I don't imagine for a second that we'll pry the property of those with too much from their fists. Not even their cold, dead fists. What I imagine is that we have exhausted this moronic system of often arbitrary rewards and it's really just running on fumes. Albeit a whole lot of fumes. Those who would never think to deny the hungry their right to eat, or the workers their rights to organize for better conditions, are on the verge of losing all patience with those for whom it seems so important to withhold help to the unlucky. It's just tiresome. Stop making the situation worse, that's where we'd like to start, at least. But even the middle and lower classes massacring the upper would be just a tweak to the age-old evil system of grotesque accumulation at the cost of lethal poverty. The evils of the old system always seem to be replicated in the new one.
The advent of the corporation, the sole purpose of which is to accumulate wealth, and grow to a size so inconceivable that human beings can no longer correct its destructive behavior, seems to have brought civilization to this intolerable condition, where an army of people and machines under the banner of Exxon or Cargill or Chase Bank takes commands from their abstract beast which only desires to eat and grow, regardless of the damage it does. The transnational corporation is the idea of the king of old, grown pathologically huge and mindlessly voracious.
Eventually we're just not going to do that anymore, I guess. Not take commands from the obese demons. Maybe a new reflex will be born in us from the ashes of the world we're destroying. A reflex that causes us, when we see a subgroup of us lifting some sparkly young Turk just a little higher than is reasonably justified, to put a stop to that somehow. I know, it's hard to stop a bunch of slavish jerks when they get started, especially when the chump-king they've created makes of them an aristocracy, which of course requires a police force to protect them. But if it really is possible for this system, grown so evil, to die, however violently, it will require a different set of reflexes, at the very least, to initiate something truly different in its aftermath.
Or maybe it will always be this way. Mediocre systems, created through injustice, will seem to be benefiting most people, or be advertised that way, then little by little the people they don't benefit will become more visible, the system will reveal itself to be ever more insupportable, top-heavy with wealth concentrated in a worthless class of bloated leeches who marry themselves to obese abstract shark demons and ravenous robots, that top-heaviness will swell to a hideous and comical size and explode in flames from its own gaseous inflation, and come crashing down on top of the hapless mortals below, burying us.
Then again, maybe there's always been pretty much the same level of misery ever since the world began. I'm not wedded to the system-outliving-its-usefulness idea. Maybe that idea itself has outlived its usefulness. I'm flexible. It's reality, after all. There aren't really rules. Just circumstances that change, and lives that struggle and dance and taper off to a quiet end.
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First of all, allow me to apologize: I apologize. Thank you for allowing my apology.
Now, imagine a driveway up the spine of a hill. The top of the hill is a plateau, surrounded in every direction by an abrupt drop-off, so the only way up or down the hill is the driveway. Otherwise, it's a cliff on all sides.
There's a gate at the bottom of the driveway with a combination lock. When you leave the plateau area, you lock the gate. When you want to enter, you first have to unlock the gate, open it, and drive your car up to the top of the plateau. You can leave the gate unlocked until you leave.
Imagine that, when you leave, you have to back all the way down the 45-degree, narrow incline, and it's a pain in the ass because the space between the gate posts is just a little wider than your car.
After you back through the gate, you get out of the car and close and lock the gate. Then you drive off to wherever you want to go. Hamburger Mary's. The library.
But what if you were backing down, stopped the car and got out and locked the gate before you had backed through it? You would have locked yourself in, at least until you unlocked it and let yourself out.
For some reason it struck me as ... striking... that if you do something before a certain spatial/temporal line is crossed, it can cause some inconvenience. If you try to light the burner before turning on the gas, it will not light. If you try to do brushwork before dipping your brush in paint, you will not apply pigment, but only hear a mild scratching noise at most.
Physicists and stoners have long wondered about the arrow of time. What is it about our limited perception that makes us experience time as moving only forward? I would like to ask: what about the arrow of space?
Events have a spatial sequence, not just a temporal sequence, and our rootedness in space, our experience of space as keeping locations separate from each other, is intimately tied to our experiencing time as keeping moments separate from each other. Time and space are metaphors for each other in that sense.
Time has an end for humans. It's when we croak. Space has the same end. When you're out of time, you're out of space. There was no time in your life when you skipped over a few inches of space. Your lifelong trail through space is as continuous as your trail through time, and at the end of life, you run out.
If you could experience time out of sequence, you would also be experiencing space out of sequence. But you can do neither. You can be missing some time from your life, if, say, you black out. But the spacetime before the blackout will be earlier than the time after the blackout, and the time and space in between can be reconstructed if you exert the effort. Like they did in the movie, "The Hangover."
Okay, what about teleportation, which seems a bit more feasible than time travel, which currently doesn't seem feasible at all. Let me address this technological speculation: first, if an object could be turned into a signal at point A and then back into the object at point B, it would still have covered the distance and taken the time, just in the form and at the speed of a signal. If somehow teleportation were achieved through quantum entanglement, and the object could appear instantly at any point B, well, I regret to inform you I am barely competent to engage in the discussion we're already in the midst of, so I can't really say, but my feeling is, we would probably solve the time-out-of-sequence problem at the same time as the space-out- of-sequence problem. There's a reason for this, but I would have to Google it, and I'm not inclined to do so. I'm sure it has something to do with particles not always being when and where you'd expect them to be, that Heisenberg thing, I'm guessing.
The real lesson here, assuming there is one, is that you can cause yourself a lot of trouble by doing things in the wrong order. You could lock someone in a bank vault by mistake, and have to wait till the end of the three-day weekend till the vault- opening person showed up. In a world where space could be traveled out of sequence, the poor sole in the vault could just blink themselves outside. But then, what good would a vault be if people could just blink in and out of it?
The idea of the bank vault relies on our sequential limitations. If you could get the money out before they closed the vault, you could rob the place blind. The vault principle assumes that time and space must be experienced in sequence, from now to later, from near to far.
But when you think about how quickly technology is progressing, it's a pretty flimsy idea, the bank vault. All it would take to defeat it was a small change in the nature of a person to adhere to sequential reality.
There's always the mind. You can remember the past, and you can remember faraway places. And you can imagine things. Some say that imagination is the mind remembering the future. You can also imagine a future place. In fact, there's really no way to imagine a future time without simultaneously imagining a future place. How would that work otherwise? Would you just imagine a future date? Like a number on a calendar? Well, that calendar has to exist somewhere. A date is really just the name of a date. An actual date is attached to a place, duration, actions, feelings, temperature, threats, pleasures... y'know: stuff.
As it stands, the slightest error in keeping your actions in order, temporally and spatially, can have dire consequences. Don't shut the vault before you leave! Shut it after you're outside of it. You could be the person who's going to come up with the cure for the boogie-woogie flu! If you starve to death in the vault, humanity might just perish from wantin' to holler when the joint's too small.
Anyway, just a friendly reminder that time's arrow is also space's arrow. They're the same arrow. You can't get from Monday to Wednesday without going through Tuesday, just like you can't get from The Village to Central Park without going through Midtown, unless you're crazy or a good swimmer or have a lot of time on your hands. And when it comes down to it, who has surplus time? No human, that's for sure. And you've just burned a few minutes of yours listening to this drivel. For that, I apologize. I probably should have apologized in the first place. I think I'll go back in time and do that.
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There were several momentous legal cases heard this week, one about gerrymandering, one about public unions, one about keeping Muslims out of the country, and it was clear they were going to require careful consideration and intense analysis by the nation's most vital legal minds. Instead they were heard by the Supreme Court.
I'm appalled by SCROTUS, the Supreme Court Republicans of the United States. They're awful. And there are officially going to be five of them now. They're rotten, those SCROTUS.
I'm here to complain about Mitch McConnell stealing the Supreme Court seat from Obama. I'm here to say what everyone is already thinking and saying. But I'm here to say it on This Is Hell. I'll tell you what I think about Mitch McConnell. Now, if a Democrat had done a version of what Mitch did, and thwarted a Republican jerk from appointing a rightwing ideologue to the court, I would've said, Good job, comrade! Except, in Mitch's version, Obama wasn't a particularly left-leaning president, and Merrick Garland, whom Obama put forward as a sop to the GOP, anyway, was no left ideologue. But apparently being reasonable, compromising, polite and black are not things the GOP will allow to go unpunished. How many times did Obama learn that? Or, rather, experience it, because he never seemed to learn anything.
No Democratic leader would refuse a president his constitutional right to nominate a justice for a newly-empty seat, and, not since FDR at least, would any Democrat ever commit such a blatant violation of Constitutional and Congressional norms regarding the court. Certainly these days Dems wouldn't dare poke the GOP hornets' nest. They're keeping their powder dry. They got so much dry powder they don't know what to do with it all. And they're keeping it dry until the end of the world, which they think will be sooner if they keep their powder dry enough. Keep the powder dry to hasten the end times.
The GOP on the other hand is willing to burn their powder at the drop of a hat. They'll do anything to get what they want. The Dems are ready and willing to do nothing to get what they want, despite having done nothing, and yet not having got what they want. All the Dems have is a surplus of dry powder, over which they've erected a bulletproof dome to make sure it never ignites. Dry powder for dry powder's sake. There might not really even be any powder there. I've never seen any evidence of it. Maybe powder is like mental acuity: if you don't use it, you lose it.
Now waffling Agony Kennedy is retiring. Say goodbye to Constitutionally protected abortions. Thanks, Obama. Say goodbye to what's left of the voting rights act, organized labor protections, and Muslims getting visas. Oh, wait, that already happened this week. All right, well, say goodbye to freedom of the press – I mean, we weren't using it much anyway. It was just sitting outside, chained to a fence post, getting rusty in the rain, and someone even stole the seat and the front wheel. But have no fear, at least our powder's dry!
You know what you can do with that powder? Put about a foot's depth of it in a bucket, mix it with some water, put your feet in, let it harden, and throw yourself off a pier. It's the same result as keeping your powder dry, only quicker. And your surviving kin can reuse the bucket!
At least we won't have to hear Dems bellyaching about everyone having to vote for one of their Wall Street candidates for President out of fear of the court turning solid conservative. What's the point now? The court is a mess. You got Thomas, Alito, Roberts, Gorsuch, and ... I'm guessing... Stephen Miller. Maybe David Duke. Thomas, who just sits there waiting for the conversation to be over, Alito, who's like Scalia without the personality, Roberts, who's like a cop, and the next SCROT will be a race theorist, I'm sure.
Ginsberg, Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagan are the last remnants of reason on the court, and Ginsberg is in a race with Clarence Thomas to see who can live longer with their pre-existing condition, old age on the one hand and spiritual morbidity on the other. Kagan and Sotomayor will live forever, or at least until the rightwing patriots start assassinating anyone with an opinion that doesn't line up with the new pledge of allegiance, which says you agree to the superiority of Christianity, the dollar, and the white race.
It really is a worry, this fascist regime. There's already a plague of violence being perpetrated by cops and unstable white post-pubescent fledgling misogynist fascists. Be prepared for it to get worse. You hear? Be prepared for the violence to get worse. You know, these are violent, easily-misled people. There's always a huge percentage of violent, stupid, thoughtless, confused people in any nation. And eventually, thanks to whatever system that nation has for installing crooked imbeciles to rule its acreage, a prize-winning dancing swine of exceptional greed, mendacity, and shameless grandstanding inevitably gets his tiny hands on the tiller, willing to incite with lies and vicious rhetoric the cruel and cowardly of the land to take to the streets and punish the innocent.
And it's coming. It's started. Black people will tell you it's been going on forever, but that's just because for them it has. So they're biased.
But as already-here as it is, more and worse is coming.
For some of you this will mean getting into fighting shape. Or maintaining and sharpening your battle skills. For people like me, it means being prepared to cry and bleed and run and hide, sharpen my first aid skills, my bedside manner, and refresh my memory of recipes for preparing dumpster food and road kill.
I'm not saying we won't win. I'm saying I will be injured, and our new socialist candidate for Congress with undoubtedly be shot at by at least one 20-something white man. Remember all the people they assassinated in the 50s, 60s and early 70s? Guns fever.
It hurts to know that so many of our fellow citizens are willing to scapegoat helpless people. It hurts to watch our children, our journalists and friends murdered in cold blood. It hurts to get beaten, so I've heard. It hurts to have your child or your mother taken from you by belligerent authorities who are accountable to no one.
Because, when it comes down to it, who would hold them to account? The president's a vicious, vain idiot, useless for anything. Our legislature is made up of crooks who buy and sell influence, certainly worthless as a safeguard against tyranny, which they have shown they're all too willing to welcome. And now the final domino of the judicial branch has fallen.
Dump is a man who never met a deadly sin he could resist. And now Agony Kennedy is retiring, allowing Dump to seat another pervert on the bench. Let's see if the worthless, impotent Democrats, who are as complicit in this fiasco as anyone, can muster a show of resistance. It'll be half-hearted, though. It's beginning to seem a lot like Republicans are just the party that happens to be thuggish enough to carry out the crimes the Dems are fine with but too genteel to commit. For all the lack of energy they devote to stopping the GOP, they are rewarded a thousand-fold in lack of results. Which seems to suit them just fine. Let the GOP be the enforcement arm of the Democratic party. Dry powder is their brand.
The worst is yet to come. Crappy days are here again. Vulgarity is just around the corner.
It suddenly occurs to me that I may be overreacting. Dump hasn't even nominated anyone for Kennedy's seat yet. It may turn out to be another Souter, someone for whom the principles of law are more important than the ideology of the creature who nominated him. Or it could even be some great Mahatma, whose grace and gentle example of compassion will move the SCROTUS to change, to free their minds and attain enlightenment.
Yet have you read the three female justices' blistering dissenting opinions on the current decisions? Especially Kagan's on the Muslim ban? Have you read Justice Kagan's blistering dissenting opinion on it? I have not. I heard it was blistering, and I didn't want to get a blister.
But can even a Mahatma or a Thurgood Marshall succeed in expanding the stunted souls of the SCROTUS where these three mighty women have failed to make even a dent in their stolid skulls?
There's a lot of wishful thinking there. I like wishful thinking almost as much as I enjoy positing the worst. It keeps the mind nimble and the heart from sinking. Try it. But don't get too optimistic, unless you're a fan of crushing disappointment. I'm going to get back in shape for crying and bleeding. I'm already bleeding money, so that's a start.
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The Jews, my people. Such a stiff-necked people. You want to own the Holocaust, I get it. You don't want to share the word "concentration camp." Yeah, that makes sense. Those little children at the southern border aren't being forced to do labor, so we can't call them labor camps. They're not being exterminated or worked to death, so we can't call them extermination camps or death camps. We can call them "internment camps," because it's like they're in prison. But not concentration camps? Because that's our word? Even though they're being concentrated into a camp? That's not enough for you? You think they invented the concentration camp just for Jews in Europe in the 30s and 40s? I won't go into the historical error you're making, there's a Slate article for that.
What I'm going to beat you up about is, just don't be so morally superior. Don't hold your suffering over others. We're on the verge of losing the special victim status associated with the Shoah, and holding onto "concentration camp" doesn't really help. All over Europe and here in the US, new rightwing nationalist groups are firmly establishing themselves. It's not just anti-Semitism they're peddling, either, it's anti-foreigner, whatever they decide a foreigner is. And I want them to know that, if they're concentrating people in camps, or if they're beating people up, or making anti-foreigner laws aimed at "strengthening the borders," whatever they want to call it, it does resemble the rise of fascism in Europe in the 20s and 30s of last century. This is what it looked like.
They want to say, "Look, this is a special problem, these Latins or Muslims, or whatever, so a little nativist suspicion and anti-immigrant rhetoric here or there is okay, it's not a sign we're on the slippery slope toward Hitler, Franco, Vichy or Mussolini. Let's at least rehabilitate love of country! Our country for us! America first. Is that so bad? At least we're not keeping people in concentration camps." Bee ess. It's the same old fascism they're constructing, and if you aren't behind calling them out for their attempts to put a white Christian dictatorship in place of our nominal democracy, take your silly asses home. Don't worry, they'll come for you later. Want to wait till you're packed into a cattle car to Wyoming to call them what they are? More fool you.
And my black friends, is it really so important, as we're heading down the street to beat up the KKK, to stop the conversation and talk about the white privilege of those marching beside you? I believe it's necessary to remind everyone of the very special racist dependency the US has, and capitalism has had, since the beginning, on the owning of, domination over, freedom to murder, and dehumanization of black people. We must know this, it's important knowledge. We have to know all the details of capitalism's crimes if we're going to tear it apart and build a new thing that doesn't commit the same ones. But right now we're swinging baseball bats, can we just be one force as we wade into the ocean of creeps?
And everyone, do not forget the singular structure of the Holocaust. It was the systematic dismantling of citizenship and status as human. Very instructive. Instructive how definitions transform the humanity of people. Yes, from the beginning, when black people were brought as slaves to labor in the Americas, back in the 16th Century, they were defined as less than human. And they're still defined that way in the USA today. But how does such a thing start? Watch how quickly an otherwise stable society of citizens can choose one characteristic and define as subhuman any group bearing it. Watch the lead-up to the Nuremberg Laws. And Jews, look at the Black Codes. Wonder how a cop gets away with an obvious murder right there before your eyes on video?
Remember. And listen. Remember. And listen. We're all targets of the fascists. We teachers, we queers, we advocates of the poor, we whistleblowers, we women, we white Christians who resist. Shonda Rimes is many things: a producer, a performer, and contingently a first-class citizen, when she's in the right room. What would it take for her economic privileges to be stripped entirely from her, when white male privilege officially becomes the only privilege? Will it be Whitelandia? Will it be Atwood's Gilead? Shonda knows the signs of current racism. But will she see the signs of a coming Kristallnacht? I assume she will. She's astute and aware. Let's all be that aware.
So can we not, with the hypotheticals? I know, that was just a hypothetical, but just bear with me. "If he'd been white, he'd be alive today." Probably. But does that change anyone's mind? All a fascist has to say is, "Not my cousin, the sleeveless tweaker." Or just make up some lie. Or another hypothetical just as imaginary, if not as persuasive to someone who already agrees with you.
Last week we talked about how pride and heroism were hallmarks of the ongoing Black Captivity. Black people are both victims of oppression and heroes that triumph over it, and it would be absurd to ask them to relinquish either aspect. On the other hand, the Jews of the Holocaust, though there were many heroes among them and much brilliant and brave resistance by them, are hanging onto their special victimhood, and not without reason. It's crucial that we not lose sight of the unique break with a certain type of functional peaceful civilization that the rise of the Nazis became. It's like when someone goes from being a functional alcoholic to a full-on raging drunk. Or some white community goes from being everyday racist to wiping out an entire black city in Oklahoma. It's an important change to recognize!
No, nationalism is not okay. Walls are not necessary, unless you seek to abuse people on the other side of them without the repercussions being felt within your borders.
We need to learn from all oppression and all resistance to it, and we can't afford to divide our ranks when Dump decides it's an emergency and we must forego elections for now, at least until this or that issue is resolved.
From the moment the founders allowed slavery to exist in the new nation, the Constitution was infected with a fatal flaw. Black people are still suffering from it. Jews, is it as important to you to hold onto the word "concentration camp" as it was for the colonies to hold onto slavery? Are you willing to scuttle the possible triumph over tyranny so you can continue to profit... from what? What doth it profit a Jew to maintain a monopoly on concentration camps?
From the moment the founders failed to guarantee economic equality to all, the Constitution was infected with a fatal flaw. The poor are still suffering from it. Is it really necessary, person of color with a place to live and a salaried profession, to tell a white working-class woman that she's privileged? What doth it profit you?
And while I'm at it, hey, dude, is it really necessary to assert "not all white people" or "not all men," when people who are not white or men are trying to address, or even just point out injustice? Just ask yourselves, all of you, is it necessary, or is it petty? I know sometimes others seem petty, but just think how much less petty you are by not engaging them at that level.
But if you're really just a petty person deep down, think of this: by keeping silent, you're actually being patronizing, because you know that bringing up your petty thing will be too much for them to ignore, and lead both of you into a fruitless battle of pettiness. See how superior you are, saving them from that? It's all in how you look at it, ya petty prick.
We need everyone. If you could get all the victims of barely restrained capitalism to march with all the victims of white privilege and all the victims of queer-phobic discrimination and violence, and all the people against gender discrimination, and all the men and women who would rather do something worthwhile than merely contribute to the girth of a stockholder's portfolio, and all the people who oppose war, you would have a confrontation to end all confrontations. There would be no stopping us.
We have to start calling out the needless use of victim identity to make useless points. Oh, sure, it's easy for me to say, I'm white. Well, then I guess the conversation is over, because I can't not be white. At least not till the cracker army notices I'm a Jew.
We need the heroism and pride inherent in the resistors of the Black Captivity and other ongoing systemic oppression, and the stigmatizing indignation of the righteous victim of the unique historic moment, to sound the alarm when the Cross starts to bend its arms into a swastika.
From the moment Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, our government declared it official policy that treason was permissible for those of a certain status. From the moment the Supreme Court made its decision in Bush v Gore, we saw the last pretense fall away that the Constitution was a functioning safeguard of the people's voice in choosing who occupied the top executive office in the land. From the moment Mitch McConnell refused to even hold a hearing for a nominee for SCOTUS brought forward by the first black president of the United States, we saw the racist far right tear the dry paper mask of the rule of law from the already fleshless face of democracy.
Whoever was supposed to look out that such things not happen, the Democrats, the press, or us, allowed them to happen. Now the slope is so slippery we can't get a grip. We'll need to salt it, carve stairs in it, or just burn it down, to even get back to where we started, which isn't where we want to be anyway. So let's agree to disagree on all but this: things have been wrong and getting more wrong at least since the rightwing assassinated the threats to their power back in the 60s. We're going to make a whole new, better, more inclusive, equal, and kind society. And we're not going to let petty differences divide us. No, not all the differences mentioned above are petty. But almost any difference, no matter how serious, can be wielded in a petty way by a small-minded person. Don't be that person!
This has been the Moment of Truth. Good day!