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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Paradise Dropped

Remember, Republicans: Some lie you heard or repeated in church last week about Donald Trump’s fake victory in 2020 is almost certainly going to inspire the next Timothy McVeigh. I hope it doesn’t, but if it does, and people die, including children, ask if it had anything to do with your cowardice, ignorance and pride, or your inability to separate morals from identity (and your always amazing inability to know the difference).

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It’s a week of false equivalencies: When right-wing rioters infiltrated the U.S. Capitol to stop the certification of the presidential election results, and Main Street conservatives at home said it was no big deal because Black Lives Matter protests last summer led to looting and rioting in American cities. We should remember that BLM was fighting against racism. Its doctrine was not violence. There are plenty of videos showing activists condemning the looting. The movement in essence asked that the Constitution to live up to its promise.

Right-wingers, on the other hand, were trying to destroy the Constitution by overturning a fair election. Very different.

But there are practical reasons for these false equivalencies: If you can brand your opponents as baby killers, looters and rioters, you no longer have accountability for anything you do. You’ve given yourself permission and broad template for any moral transgression that suits you, including death threats against public servants, violence against public health defenders, libeling of rape victims, … for your past support for illegal foreign invasions, torture, and now, evidently, even against treason against the U.S. and its form of government. Conservatives do not care about baby killing (see Sandy Hook) or civil disorder (see the Bundy standoff). They do, however, like the power those words give them to pursue their selfish interests. It’s a gateway drug to the sociopathy they refer to as freedom.

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Dear Conservatives

Could it be that you’ve started to build most of your belief systems around every utterance of a cult leader, a man who just tried to overthrow the U.S. government, a man accused by 26 women of sexual assault, because most of your other beliefs up until now turned out to be too fragile and poorly thought out to hold onto in the first place? You’re starting to fit the model of the people who joined the NXIVM group a little too closely.

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Thoughts on Ted Cruz’s attempt to protest the certification of electoral college votes that would put Joe Biden in the White House, using a specious argument that since Republicans don’t believe in the truth of the votes, there must be an alternate reality:

There is no third option when you’re pitting truth against non-truth, Ted Cruz. There is no compromise value between a fact and a lie. Those trying to fix reality to incorporate their lies are living in their own hell and asking us to burn with them.

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No, the 2020 election was not “close,” as Donald Trump fans addicted to wrongness are going to mutter for years to cast doubt on our system and further justify their own exceedingly poor judgment.

It was only the time line and the inconsistent way the results were revealed that made this election a so-called “nail-biter”–specifically the big, dramatic, crashing reveal much later that Joe Biden had won by a fairly wide margin. This means the idea of closeness was always meaningless to the omniscient universe.

Storytellers know all this: You might be coming to the movie already knowing that Romeo’s going to get snuffed or Luke Skywalker’s going to blow up the Death Star, but a lot of bad news early on has you doubting your instincts every time, and the play has got you hooked. It was a play. And the bad guy in this one never really had a chance.

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Now that Donald Trump is losing the 2020 presidential election, he has continued to allege voter fraud without any evidence. And some Republicans are fanning that idea to their minions on the street, who eventually could try to stop a legitimate election with violence.

If Donald Trump, a man you didn’t like five years ago, can so easily turn you into liars on his behalf now, conservatives, what hope do you have to articulate your values in the future and win people to your causes? Who will trust you? Who will trust your judgment? Your maturity? Your goodness? Who would believe that your ideas come from a good place and not from your ability to be so easily molded by malefactors? Who would not reasonably ask, “Was being molded by bad people what got you to where you are in the first place?” You risk everything, including your souls, standing by this man.

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Tonight, Vice President Mike Pence faced off against Democratic VP candidate Kamala Harris in Salt Lake City, Utah. The debate was shrouded in anxiety over what doctors considered high risk of Covid-19 transmission, and plexiglass dividers were set up between the candidates.

What were some of the highlights?

–*When asked why the U.S. death rate from Covid-19 is higher, Vice President Mike Pence said it was far worse to imagine the deaths that could have happened in the past under the Barack Obama administration. Unfortunately, this joke has no punchline. The stupidity and ignominy speak for themselves.

–*Covid-19 is on top of people’s minds tonight. Also, it might be on on top of Mike Pence’s clothes.

–*The plexiglass dividers allow us to wipe the communist China comments off with Windex and bleach.

–*Mike Pence dodges the question and starts talking about taxes when somebody says, “Mr. Vice President, I might be having a heart attack right now. My God, can you call an ambulance!”

–*Mike Pence grants you the serenity to accept the climate change that Mike Pence will not change.

–*Pence asks Kamala Harris whether her team will stack the Supreme Court and dilute the court system’s current crop of unqualified, ideological conservative lackeys.

–*Kamala Harris has spent her career honing her skills cross-examining people who are desperately lying to keep themselves out of terrible trouble for high crimes and mischief. So, yeah … that …

–*When asked about the debate, four out of five viewers said, “Jesus, would you stop using the phrase ‘thread the needle’! Give it a rest!”

–*Pence promises to close the gender gap his ticket faces by pressing ahead with the Trump administration’s plan to grab more women by the crotch.

–*We now cut away for commercial break … Yikes! … suicide hotline ad. Not a good time. We don’t want to give anybody any ideas.

–*Pence stands solidly behind those members of American law enforcement not currently investigating multiple members of his administration.

–*Kamala Harris stands up for the future of racial justice (and probably ought not talk about her role as a prosecutor in racial justice past).

–*America is easily distracted by a fly that spent several minutes on Mike Pence’s hair. That would be frivolous of them, but if you’ve been looking at or listening to Mike Pence for any length of time, I’d say the frivolity boat has already sailed.

–*”Vote for the Fly” would be a funny hashtag, right? Sure, go back and tell your 2016 self how well “Vote for the Fly” worked out.

–*Covid-19 is no laughing matter. Remember to ask your sexual partners if they’ve had any contact with Mike Pence.

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–*Donald Trump said every man, woman and child was guilty of tax fraud but him.

–*Imagine that Trump is Smoky Bear saying, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” and by that Smoky pretty much meant he’s personally not going to do anything about forest fires.

–*Trump said that 200,000 people dying of Covid-19 was not that big a deal since there are so many numbers higher than 200,000.

–*Trump interrupted the sentence, “This is Donald Trump, the current president,” because he knew the statement would reflect badly on him.

–*Trump attacked the unrest in American cities that he’s not personally causing when he promotes street violence by angry white dropouts.

–*Trump used the word “socialism” as a kind of scientific experiment to see which low IQ mice that word still bothers.

–*People who don’t know the stock market from the economy cheer contradictory arguments with much animation and blank eyes.

–*”I want freedom for myself and oppression for everybody around me” now the guiding philosophy of most Americans.

–*Biden didn’t use the word “socialism” because at this point it is synonymous with the phrase “government working correctly.”

–Trump lashes out at Biden’s son because when the children of the powerful make money it’s better that they do it with buffoonish and obvious criminality.

–“I hate both sides,” still the go-to phrase for Americans without the ability to discern, judge or engage.

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Leaving The Trump Cult

While I’m not an expert on cults, I’ve spoken to ex-members of a cult in the past as a journalist. I won’t name the sect, but I did note in both cases that the spell of the cult leader was broken only when the members finally saw he was fallible. In that particular case, the leader died of old age, and when he didn’t take them all to heaven they stopped believing.

When you see so many people taking Donald Trump’s lies as their own (and start lying for him), the parallels should become clear. And the only way for them to stop being his co-dependents and stop enabling his crimes (yes, obstruction of justice and bribery are crimes) is that they have to see him fail. That means the American majority, who are not Trump supporters, if they are to win back friends and family members from the pits of depravity they are digging, must vote Trump out so his supporters can watch him lose. After that, they will be less likely to keep investing their feelings of personal pride and belonging in an abusive person–and stop feeling the need to protect an abuser they’ve wrapped their identities around.

Here’s a link from How Stuff Works about how cults work, specifically, how to leave one.

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Ghost and Hemispheres Cover Vol. 2The following is an excerpt from my novel, The Ghost and the Hemispheres, Volume 2, currently available as an e-book on Amazon.com.

As the students watched TV in the University Club, for the first time, Patroclus noticed that some 95% of the content came from the United States. There was Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, two television shows about wives possessed of magical powers, but rather than using the magic to free themselves from sexual slavery, penury and exploitation, the women instead served the monetary interests of their human slaveholder husbands. All they would have had to do was snap their fingers and their masters’ heads would have popped off like champagne corks, but instead they were alienated from that head-ripping-off potential by the awesome power of ideological hegemony. There was also Bonanza, a serial that humanized and normalized the rape of the American West by white expansion and subjugation (and let us not forget the dialogue wasn’t too bad).

When he sought reading material from the Balladares Pharmacy he found Time and Cosmo and Reader’s Digest and the Saturday Evening Post. He found pictures of a woman draped over a box of Pall Mall Gold 100’s, claiming that “You make out better at both ends.” A Lipton tea ad asking him if he was feeling “fagged.” Delco “Pleasurizer” shock absorbers for a better ride. “Husband pleasing” coffee. Sugar, which “turned into energy faster than any other food.” A car called a “Swinger.” White go-go boots. Half-nude bodies used to sell aspirin, women in suggestive siren poses meant to sell Pepsi. Pills for “tired blood” and women’s anxiety. He studied the cola and beer advertisements with deep post-structuralist curiosity.

The more girls buzzed about him, trying to confuse him, get his attention, diffuse his energy, raise his sap, get his blood up, dilute his prana, etc., the more Patroclus began to read from the books that Father Cuadra suggested: Hegel, Marx, Paulo Freire, Antonio Gramsci and Chairman Mao, and then finally, the book about the Crazy Little Army—Augusto César Sandino and his war in the Segovias. That war had taken place around Patroclus’s hometown. Yet nobody up there ever talked about Sandino. It was verboten. Like other young proto-revolutionaries, Patroclus also read Che Guevara and listened to the recordings of Radio Rebelde.

Every new Marxist walks about with a different set of eyes from the ones he had before. Everywhere Patroclus now saw things differently. One day he was out with Rosemarie and she asked him, “Should I get the chocolate-covered cherries or the chocolates with nothing in them?”

“Your choice is an illusion of freedom.”

She pinched his cheek.

“Cute.”

“I’m serious. This is meaningless.”

“What are you saying, exactly, when you say this is meaningless?”

“I want to see other girls.”

She started to cry and he stood listening with a stone face, knowing he must take responsibility for the pain he had caused her, but also willing to live with it for the sake of his new conviction, which required pain if it were to be genuine—his girlfriend’s pain if necessary.

All the material wealth he saw others chasing convinced Patroclus that he somehow did not really live in the world at all—or at least that he was living in more dimensions than he was seeing. Those advertisements, those nude bodies, those TV shows made him realize that his heart and body had been colonized. That every move he made was the act of a puppet dancing on a string. As he sat in the hot, dusty railroad colonial corridors of his dorm studying his medical books, dust motes flowed sideways and down and from off the floor—in a space without gravity. Every song, every coo of every silly coquette—everything was fabricated, he realized, to hide the truth of things. A woman once raised her finger to Patroclus to argue with him after she had shortchanged him at the pharmacy. He stopped listening to her and regarded her finger. As it rose, it also fell, and went sideways at the same time. Her voice was high and low at the same time. They were speaking a script somebody else had written for them. They had divided themselves to keep the owners in power.

His life was now seen in a kaleidoscope. And the more he was at odds with reality, the more he saw proof of his other self emerging.

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