Once Upon A Time, When The GOP Had Some Integrity

America has more than her fair share of fascists and white nationalists.

Some of them even serve in congress.

The vast majority, if not all, vote republican.

Donald Trump is a White Nationalist. That’s why White Nationalists supported his presidency.

When someone says they supported Trump’s policies but not his white nationalist and authoritarian views, its no less ludicrous than a German citizen in 1939 saying they support Hitler’s economic policies, not his views on the Jewish population.

In throwing your support behind a president, you have to look at the totality of the man – not just policy bits and pieces that you can align with and rationalize to yourself and your friends.

As we saw with President Trump, it’s the totality of the man (all of his views and values) that set the tone and attitude of his administration. Under Trump, the party’s platform was built on divisiveness, hate, mistrust, and anger, and that’s exactly what was reflected in most of Trump’s policies and actions.

It’s important to keep in mind that the anger, hate, and mistrust of government and institutions that Trump used to divide America and strengthen his position politically, are alive and well today. Those feelings and attitudes didn’t magically disappear when Trump was trounced in the 2020 election.

Many Americans who supported Trump are simply waiting for him, or the next Trump-wannabee to come along and validate those feelings, while cultivating and promoting policies that weaken our democracy and march us down the path to authoritarianism.

Colin Powel was a lifelong republican, military man, and honorable public servant who understood the danger of authoritarianism. When he saw fellow republicans refuse to stand against a dangerously authoritarian president, he called them out for their cowardice and left the party.

We need more republicans of stature to do what Colin Powell did – speak up and shine a light on the dangerous and dark influences taking hold of their party. And more importantly, we need strong and outspoken leaders in the GOP to provide a roadmap for getting the party back on track to decency, integrity, and basic American ideals. Without a roadmap, we’re going to see the GOP continue it’s downward spiral towards authoritarianism.

The four years of the Trump administration laid the groundwork for dismantling democracy in America. Colin Powel understood that and voiced his disdain for Trump and the political cowards who failed to stand up to him.

If democracy is to survive in America, we’ll need more voices like Colin Powel’s.

Man’s malevolence

Mankind is a misnomer. 

For as long we’ve existed, man’s kindness has been matched by his cruelty. 

We’re a volatile and combustible mix of the easily misguided. Too often (under the influence of others), we drift towards our darker nature, nestle up to fear, hand reason over to blind faith, or swear a misguided allegiance to political tribes. In the past, this has led humankind down dark paths where we deny our fellow man freedom and dignity on a mass scale. 

That’s been our history.

We’ve seen how the fluidity by which we move from our better selves to our darker nature is influenced by the world around us. We’re not immune to the momentum of tumultuous events. And, because we’re more connected (technologically speaking) than ever before, we’re more susceptible to being collectively influenced, manipulated, and pushed towards our darker nature.

This is nothing new. We’ve teetered on the edge of darkness before. Manipulated by political and religious movements that feed on fear, hate, and irrationality. Unfortunately, I believe we’re teetering one of those precipices now, as world events push mankind towards our darker nature.

I still believe America can be a force for positive change. I’m not talking about nationalistic flag-waving “USA, USA, USA!!” patriotism, but rather all of us living by and promoting the ideals and ideas of Western Democracy. 

To make mankind kind again, we must consciously engage in acts of kindness, resist being influenced by fear and fear mongers, put reason above religion, and ditch political tribalism for critical and idea-based thinking. 

The uptick in political, social media posts about what’s going on in Afghanistan reveals just how shallow and vulnerable we’ve become. Sadly, the willingness to parlay human tragedy for political hay (I’ve done it myself) represents troubling fault lines for our country. 

Joe Biden did not blow up Americans and Afghanis at the Airport in Kabul – religious extremists did. Instead of focusing on the enemies of reason and rationality, many Americans devolve into sectarianism, focusing their contempt on the American President. 

I’m not suggesting Biden not be held accountable for missteps and intelligence failures that occur on his watch – he should be. But, instead, I’m suggesting that we remember Biden is not the enemy. Biden is not a religious extremist. He believes in American ideals. Our fight is not with him; it’s with ISIS, the Taliban, and any of the other man-made entities that are hellbent on pushing us to a darker existence.

I’m also suggesting that we differentiate malevolence from incompetence when critiquing our leaders. But, unfortunately, that requires nuanced and critical thinking – lost skills in America today.

Every President has moments of incompetence. Kennedy had his Bay of Pigs; Obama had his healthcare rollout. Bush fucked up majorly with his weapons of mass destruction debacle. Reagan screwed the pooch with Iran Contra, and Jimmy Carter botched a hostage rescue. 

Humans are at the helm of intelligence. They push the pen and ink onto intelligence reports, and leaders act on the assessments. And sometimes, they make mistakes. And when this happens, citizens should speak up and demand accountability. 

But Malevolence is a different kettle of fish. 

Malevolence is knowing a pandemic is deadly but telling others just the opposite for personal political gain.

Malevolence is proposing our military shoot protesters in the legs or that leakers of information be executed.

Malevolence is spreading lies about election security and promoting insurrectionist movements against America. 

Malevolence is courting and praising dictators for the control they have over their citizens.

That’s Malevolence. 

Let’s not confuse Incompetence with Malevolence. 

And malevolent leaders and wanna-be dictators thrive in periods of uncertainty. And sometimes, in a storm of uncertainty, citizens become blind to malevolent leaders. 

Let’s stay vigilant.

Fault lines and fissures

To the people who blame Joe Biden solely for what’s happening in Afghanistan after America’s 20-year campaign there – your partisan underwear is showing.

What’s happening in Afghanistan today is not the fault of one person alone. But to understand that, you’d have to remove your partisan glasses and take a deeper look at the history of our involvement there. I know that takes a little time and effort. I know it’s easier to bash-post the President, especially if your objective is to knock him down a peg or two.

A government does not fall as quickly as it did in Afghanistan without severe foundational problems – and such problems did not occur overnight (or since Joe Biden became President).

Our military success in Afghanistan only masked the many issues that plagued an ineffectual and weak Afghan government and an Afghan military that lacked what the Taliban have in spades (a core of fighters willing to die for a cause).

That so many Americans are eager to use the human tragedy of what’s going on in Afghanistan to score political points reveals dangerous fault lines in our own society.

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

Almost all standard responses you get from Trump supporters when you criticize their idol are cloaked in whataboutisms. So, for example, when you mention the lies that Trump told (and continues to spread), you get an immediate response of “You don’t think that Biden lies?” as if there’s an equivalence – as if both of these men are in the same area code for lying when nothing could be further from the truth.

Trump’s lies and lapses in morality are now coming to light since the orange abomination left office. Members of the military say that Trump was a clear danger to the republic. This crazy narcissist suggested executing people who leaked stories to the press or shooting protesters in the legs. Comparing Trump’s lies and behaviors to past presidents (republican or democrat) is like comparing the flames in my backyard fire pit to the wildfires raging across the midwestern U.S. — they’re both fires, but. . . .

The 2016 election was not that long ago; those of us without dementia remember the aftermath.

Were there claims of election fraud? Yes.

After her loss, did Hillary Clinton go on for month after month after month about a stolen election? No.

Do you remember a constant, never-ending push of lies about Hillary being the real president-elect? No.

Do you remember Hillary riling up her base, inspiring and praising a traitorous assault on the capitol to try and stop the election from being certified? No.

The false equivalence that Trump supporters employ is stunning, but what’s even crazier is the total disregard of their own senses and experiences. Like me, they lived through 2016 – was that post-election experience anything like what we see now? No, it was not. And how do we know the situations were different? Because we observed, experienced, and lived through both.

I saw Fox news show a montage of Dems claiming the 2016 election was rigged, suggesting that what Trump did (and continues to do) is no different than what Dems did in 2016. The strategy behind these types of videos is not to inform viewers but rather manipulate them into believing the claims made by democrats back in 2016 were frenzied and constant, that they had a velocity and critical mass and are no different than what Trump is engaged in.

But anyone who lived through 2016 knows that’s not the case at all.

There was no massive push to overturn the elections or fake ass “fraudit” of the vote conducted by partisan and conspiracy-addled companies.

From Orwell’s famous novel 1984, “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”

When Fox News tells you the claims of election fraud by democrats in 2016 mirror what’s happening today, or when republican congressmen and senators tell you January 6th was just a regular tourist event, they’re telling you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. Don’t do it.

Trumpocalypse

Trumpism is America’s Zombie Apocalypse.

It’s a growing and spreading mass of ravenous unthinking humans, driven by a blood-lust, unable to communicate ideas, moving forward in a dangerously backward and unproductive way, while the rest of humanity scrambles to stop the spread.

Fortunately, we know the cure. All that’s needed is for rational republicans to gather up some courage and speak the fuck up. Unfortunately, there are fewer and fewer rational republicans willing to do so. Instead, we’re witnessing a stunning comradery of cowardice.

The longer this goes on, the worse it gets, not only for the GOP, but for our country.

Trumpism is a metastasizing and cannibalistic political movement hell-bent on eating American democracy.  The ousting of Liz Cheney and the failure of republicans to speak out against it, lends oxygen to this dangerous political movement and increases the likelihood that it will consume the Republican party.

This is not a movie. This is real.

A house divided

Republicans in congress want to remove Liz Cheney from a leadership position because she refuses to lie.


Let that sink in.


If she’s removed, how do GOP voters continue to support the party that removed her?


This isn’t about removing a republican who isn’t conservative enough. This isn’t about punishing a rogue politician for going against the platform or for shitting all over long-held republican beliefs. In fact, Liz Cheney embodies the conservative principles that for years defined the GOP.


The effort to remove Cheney stems from her audacity to speak the truth and contradict Donald Trump’s outrageous lie about a fraudulent election.
It’s as simple as that.


The GOP has devolved from a party of ideas, to a cult of personality. They’ve cut a deal with devil, to save themselves from a rabid, fact-denying, and hateful base of voters.


How will rational republicans react to what’s happening to their party? Will they fight, or will they just say “fuck it” and go along with a dangerous game of follow the liar?


Is there a strong and deep enough desire to return the GOP to a party of ideas, or will they bend to the will of conspiracy theorists, religious charlatans, and a crazed pillow salesman?


Anyone who rationalized their vote for Donald Trump on the basis of being loyal to the GOP, has some serious soul searching to do. Will republicans do the tough work that entails, or will they let someone as despicable as Donald Trump become the architect of the new republican party?

“You’re un-American!” “NO, YOU’RE UN-AMERICAN!!”

How is it in a country full of Americans, half of us consider the other half un-American, and vice versa?

To me, this seems like a fairly recent development.

Some people who know me today might categorize me as a “Godless libtard, who cares more about immigrants than real Americans.”

These same people probably didn’t categorize me at all 10 years ago — even though I was pretty much the same person then — a progressive liberal atheist.

On the flip-side, 10 years ago, I probably didn’t categorize some of the people I knew as “fascist-leaning individuals who’d rather wrap themselves in the American flag than care about their fellow human beings” — but that’s how I’d categorize them today.

So, what’s changed?

In terms of our politics, I don’t think we’ve changed all that much. The biggest difference is the manner and degree to which we broadcast our politics. That’s totally different than what it was 10 to 20 years ago.

Today, we have access to a social media soapbox, and many of us get up on that soapbox, and with a keyboard as our megaphone, we share our opinions (and other people’s opinions). We speak our values; we argue politics, and whether we realize it or not, we present our views on what it means to be American.

I used to think this was a good thing. Now, I’m not so sure.

Too often, our use of social media results in a singularly-focused and myopic view of one another, to the exclusion of the many things we likely have in common – a love of music, parenthood, art, literature, sports, science – the things that we could (and used to) connect over, but now, choose not to, because of political tribalism and a strange social media sectarianism.

Social media magnifies and intensifies our political differences, making it difficult to recognize or even care about things we have common. This unintended consequence benefits foreign enemies, who flood social media with content designed specifically to deepen the divide between Americans — and its working splendidly. Facebook has turned out to be the perfect crowbar to our Pandora’s box- dividing our American house and weakening our country from within.

How do we combat this?

The genie is out of the bottle in terms of social media. Its unrealistic to think people are just going to stop using it – and let’s face it, it’s a bit of an addiction.

Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter rely on two very human traits; the desire to communicate with one another, and our desire to fight with one another.  Combine those two things with an insatiable need for affirmation, and you’ve got the perfect weapon for division and discontent.

The “thumbs up” or “heart” emojis are like herrings to a seal, as soon as we receive them, we instantly bark out more opinions on Trump, Biden, Guns, Abortion, Religion, and Immigration — widening the gap between one another, burning bridges, fueling hate.

Weirdly, social media is weakening the fabric of our country by allowing us to show others who we are, and what we believe in. We were a stronger / less vulnerable country when I didn’t know your politics and you didn’t know mine. If we both liked the Beatles, that was a good enough foundation to at least be kind and respectful to one another.

I looked back at some of my early social media posts, a lot of them had to do with my kids; a shared newspaper article, pictures from family gatherings, photos from sporting events or school dances. You know the schtick, obnoxiously proud mom or dad posting stuff about their son or daughter — often embarrassing them in the process.

“Ah, the early and innocuous days of social media.”

I looked at some of the respondents to those early posts. Interestingly, I’m pretty sure if I shared similar kinds of posts today, many of the same respondents would make a point of not responding.

No emoji herrings for me!

Many who responded fondly to my innocuous posts in the past, probably think I’m an asshole today. In their eyes, I’m a meme machine – a opinionated jerk – an atheist – an intolerant liberal fuck — and I totally get that.

When 9 out of 10 FB memories are rants about politics, you might have a problem (talking about myself here), and who can blame others for seeing you solely through a political lens, if that is all you show them?

It’s not easy to un-see what you see on social media, and some posts leave an indelible mark on our opinion of others and vice versa.

My High School has its 40th reunion this Summer. Our last reunion was in 2016, before Trump won election — before the war, so to speak. But even at that stage, you could see battle lines being drawn on social media. I even remember a plea from one of the organizers to refrain from talking politics.

A lot of shit has transpired since 2016. I know I’ve annoyed the fuck out of Trump supporters on a near daily basis (and vice-versa ). I wonder if we’ll be able to put our megaphones down for 5-to-6 hours and just pretend that we’re not offended by one another? I hope we can, though I expect some top gun-like maneuvers, as we buzz around the clambake tent, trying to avoid in-coming liberals or conservatives who might be looking to engage.

Social media has wrecked us. Its a shame, I wish it were different, and I don’t know how or even if we can fix it.

I think the best approach is to talk more about what we have in common — lead with those things, rather than politics – broadening the perspective might help lower our emotional temperature.

Broke-Merica

America

We’re good on paper

But don’t deliver the goods

We swallowed the hype

Got lost in the woods

Don’t love our neighbors

Mistrust them instead

They’re either a little too blue

or a little too red

So, we must disagree with

Whatever they said

 “They don’t really look

American to me”

We can’t seem to get

beyond what we see

Be it color or religion or ethnicity

We get lost in the hateful

Shit that we read

And we share all the garbage

That shows up on our feed

 and the news

that we choose

isn’t news at all

Just a place to trawl and brawl

Then scrawl on our wall

We set up our camps

are told to pick sides

It widens the gaps and deepens divides

We no longer talk with each other

We talk at each other

We’re in a constant state of agitate

arguing is now our default setting

So easily triggered and never forgetting

We don’t live and let live

or live to forgive

We’re an angry flock of bots

Always bratty, catty, and taking cheap shots

Always posting and boasting

and political roasting

 We’re walking-talking bumper stickers

We’re cheap and shallow politickers  

Our house is burning

 Our ship is sinking

we’ve got no solutions

just meme-based thinking

We’re a promise broken

A useless token

A hatred spoken

Black Lives Matter, Stop the Steal, and a Demagogic Puppeteer

Close-up Of Businessman’s Hands Saving Piggybank From Hammering

The impetus behind the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is systemic racism.

People join and support BLM to protest a system of justice in America that treats people of color differently than white people. From that perspective, the BLM movement comes from noble place – the desire to right a wrong in our society.

This past Summer, the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer sparked outrage and widespread protests, deservedly so.

Rising up and taking to the streets to protest that murder was an entirely appropriate response by Americans. And, if I remember correctly, when some of those protests turned violent, that violence was condemned by democrats and republicans alike.  

Most Americans agree that violent protests cannot, and should not be tolerated. That said, it’s important to understand the psychology of a riot.

Marin Luther King said:

“I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.

And, what is it that America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the economic plight of the Negro poor has worsened over the last few years.”

The BLM riots were the result of America failing to acknowledge the mistreatment of black and brown citizens by our justice system, which has been going on for years.  Prolonged injustice needs but a spark to lead to protests and riots, and the George Floyd murder was that spark.

Contrast that with the January 6th “stop the steal” protest, which turned into a violent riot.

The January 6th protest had nothing to do with prolonged injustice. It was not borne out of years of systemic racism. Instead, the January 6th protest was a planned and calculated attempt by our president to disrupt the certification the 2020 presidential election.

The impetus for the January 6th protest was the “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was rigged. There is not a shred of truth to that claim. But, as we all know; Donald Trump does not care about the truth. So, he pushed the false claim of a rigged and stolen election to millions of Americans in the weeks leading up to the January 6th rally. And on that day, he again lied to the thousands in attendance.

None of this is in dispute. We know that President Trump spread lies and false claims about the election, and we know that he assembled the rally on January 6th to disrupt the certification of the election by congress.

The primary difference between the BLM protests and the Stop the Steal protest is the legitimacy of the issue being protested.

Systemic racism is a real and legitimate problem in America. We have data showing black and brown citizens are treated more harshly than white citizens by both the police and by the courts. In short, for BLM protesters there’s a genuine issue at hand and a real reason to be angry, and George Floyd’s life being extinguished under the knee of a white racist cop, brought an ugly and graphic clarity about racial injustice, to millions of Americans.

In contrast, what Trump supporters were protesting on January 6th was not justified. The very foundation of the Stop the Steal protest was built on lies. There was no widespread voter fraud. The election was not stolen. President Trump did not win in a landslide.

How do we know that the issues being protested on January 6th were not legitimate?

We know this because:

  • The votes were tabulated and Joe Biden had 7 million more of them.
  • The votes were recounted several times, and Joe Biden still had 7 million more of them.
  • Every challenge that the president’s legal team brought to the courts was defeated in resounding fashion.
  • The Trump Administration’s Attorney General reviewed the claims of widespread fraud and said there was none.

The indisputable truth is that President Trump lost the 2020 election.

Now, if the candidate that I supported and trusted lost an election, and then went on to tell me every single day for weeks at a time, that the election was stolen, and that the consequence of that stolen election was that my country was going to be destroyed, I might have stormed the US Capitol as well.

Take what Doctor King said about riots and apply it to what happened on January 6th:

I think that we’ve got to see that a riot is the language of the unheard.  And, what is it that America has failed to hear?

They failed to hear that my vote was stolen – that the election was rigged, that I won’t have a country anymore if the election is certified

I honestly believe that millions of Americans believed what Trump told them every day for weeks before and after the election – that it was rigged and stolen. And for the thousands that showed up on January 6th,  the only way to stop the steal was to stop the certification, and that meant storming the Capitol building. So that’s what they did, at the behest of our lying president.

The issue many of us are grappling with today is how did we get to the point where millions of Americans are resistant to facts and immune to the truth?

How did this happen on such a mass scale?

I believe it was the perfect storm of the browning of America, globalization, religiosity, and an opportunistic and depraved leader.

More than any other President in our history, Trump understood the value of other people’s fear. He understood that he could use that fear to his own advantage.

Trump understood that connecting with people over fears about our changing demographics, what it means to “be American”, growing secularism, and loss of manufacturing jobs, would override everything else – including truth and facts — because fear, national identity, and religion resonate at an emotional level.  

Trump knew the quickest and easiest way to get people to vote for, and support him (no matter what), was to connect with them over fear.  

Trump’s connecting with voters over fear didn’t involve engaging in meaningful dialog or the difficult task addressing our changing world – instead he commiserated – not because he was genuinely empathetic, but because he knew both the power and expediency of commiseration.

Trump saw early on that if he could get the disenfranchised to believe he was with them in terms of their fears around abortion, immigration, and globalization – he would have them in his pocket. Once he achieved that, he could “shoot someone in the middle of 5th avenue” and it wouldn’t make a difference to supporters.

Trump’s fake commiseration around religious issues, immigration, and globalization led to a fact-resistant base of supporters, and emboldened the President to embark on his Hitleresque desire to rule a nation.

Trump knew that once he connected with people over fear, he could lie to them with impunity, and that they would follow him off a cliff, or to the doors of the US Capitol.

Time to Marginalize Marjorie

Space-laser promoting
Gun toting liar
Bigoted Truther
Nine-Eleven Denier
Spewer of filth
Talker of trash
Dumber than dumb
With boat-load of cash

Kevin McCarthy
He ain’t no Vin Diesel
Afraid of his base
A gutless shit-weasel
Checking with Trump
Before speaking his mind
Removing that stump
From way up his behind

Where have you gone
Once Proud GOP
Afraid of the loonies
Who support Marjorie
You run from the truth
Like a squirrel from noise
Wyoming’s Lynne Cheney
Has more balls than the boys

Time to rise-up
Put an end to the slime
Recognize a Truth as a Truth
And a Crime as a Crime

A loss of some votes
Might be the toll
But at least you can say
You’ve still got your soul