The photograph below shows a pair of bloodroot blossoms, one of the first flowering plants we see at the beginning of morel season. It doesn’t look at all bloody, does it. The sap, however, is generally orange to bright red. It’s sometimes used by native artists as a dye. The sap is also somewhat poisonous; eating bloodroot probably wouldn’t kill you, but it would certainly make you vomit like a high school drunk.
What’s cool about bloodroot, though, is the way it’s disseminated. The flowers produce pollen, but no nectar–which means all those bees and flies that land on the blossoms foraging for nectar are getting scammed. They’re helping pollinate the plant, but they aren’t getting jack in return.
But what’s really cool is that the seeds of bloodroot are spread by ants. That’s right, ants. The seeds have a fleshy organ–an elaiosome–that ants fucking love. They take the bloodroot seeds to their nest, eat the elaiosomes off them, then chuck out the seeds with the other ant trash and nest debris. Ant trash turns out to be a terrific medium for germinating seeds.
The process of ants foraging seeds for their tasty elaiosomes, then getting rid of the useless seeds in ant trash middens is called myrmechory. It’s from the Greek term for ants (mýrmēks) and a circular form of Greek dancing called khoreíā. The ants don’t actually dance in circles, of course, though they probably could if they wanted to. Who’s going to stop them? The important thing, though, is myrmechory works. It’s great for the ants, who get a scrumptious treat, and for the bloodroot, which gets dispersed across a wider range.
Of course, bees and flies and other pollen-seeking winged foragers get completely fucked over, which probably adds to the enjoyment of the elaiosome-eating ants. I’m okay with that. I mean, bees get to fly, after all; they get a temporary pardon from gravity. Hard to blame ants for being a wee bit envious and taking some small pleasure out of seeing the winged bastards get stiffed.
Billy B. Yeats wrote the poem in 1919, just months after the end of World War One, the bloodiest and most technologically advanced war ever fought. His young wife, Georgie Hyde-Lees, pregnant with their first child, had almost died from the global flu pandemic of 1918-1919 and was still recovering. Twenty million people died in that war, twenty-one million during the pandemic. And the Irish War of Independence was just beginning.
Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer
Falcons hunt at the command of the falconer. It’s not just that the falcon has slipped free of that control, it’s not just that the falcon isn’t listening to the falconer; he can’t even hear the voice of control anymore. Control no longer exists.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned
To Yeats, the entire world must have seemed on the verge of combustion. Everything was blowing up around him. Nobody was in charge; there was no constraint on the horror in the world, there was no legitimate authority to curb humanity’s worst impulses. One era was coming to a bloody end; a new one was being born and nobody knew whether or not it would be monstrously worse.
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
And here we are, a century and a wink later, after another pandemic, living in a nation we hardly recognize during an era of increasing hate and horror. It feels like our world is at a horrific tipping point. Firearms have become the leading cause of death for children under 18 years of age. Not disease, not accidents, not any natural or organic issue, but a device. A tool, an implement, a thing we deliberately manufacture and freely sell almost without control. The leading cause of death among children is a mechanical apparatus, and one political party celebrates it.
The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
The members of the Republican Party almost universally identify themselves as Christian, and they publicly bemoan the deaths of all those thousands of children. They offer their thoughts and prayers because that’s what you do when you make a burnt sacrifice–you pray when you create a holocaust. Holocaust, from the Greek holokauston, meaning “a thing wholly burnt.” A burnt offering is the oldest form of Biblical sacrifice; a “burnt sacrifice, an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord,” as the King James Version has it. The sacrificed offering should be “without blemish.” Untainted, unspoiled, pure. Like children.
Guns are the rough beast. Republicans, with a “gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,” are willingly sacrificing children to it. We have the power to stop that. We have the power to, at a bare minimum, reduce the magnitude of the holocaust of children. We have the ability to minimize the butcher’s bill.
But we won’t.
The blood-dimmed tide has corrupted the water of our political and social culture. The falcon cannot hear the falconer. It will feed where it wants.
A statistically significant number of US citizens have completely lost their fucking minds. It’s perfectly reasonable to think of them as victims of Cordyseps MAGA. For the few remaining people who haven’t either played the game or watched the HBO series The Last of Us, cordyseps is the mutated endoparasitoid fungus that turns humans into hideous zombies (which, now I think of it, is redundant; there are no attractive zombies, are there).
Although it’s just a plot device in The Last of Us, cordyceps is real. In fact, there are several hundred different cordyseps species. A small number of them are parasitoids actually capable of affecting the host insect’s (yeah, it’s limited to insects) decision-making and behavior control mechanisms. Making them zombies, in other words. One of the behavioral changes caused by that form of cordyceps they become increasingly careless, which makes the host insect vulnerable to predators. When the parasite-ridden victim is consumed by a predator, the cordyceps fungus starts feeding on the new host, allowing the fungus to spread even wider.
Cordyceps is a useful analogy for explaining the club-headed MAGA fuckwits who…wait. Damn it. Tangent Alert! Cordyseps comes from the Greek term kordýlē, meaning ‘club’ and the Latin suffix -ceps, meaning ‘–headed’. So basically, cordyceps means ‘club-headed.’
Right, back to the analogy. This is similar to what happened with the sort of club-headed MAGA fuckwits who stormed the Capitol on January 6th. Hell, it’s what is STILL happening. The ‘entertainment’ hosts on FOX News are effectively feeding viewers Cordyceps MAGA spores, which remodels their decision-making and behavior control mechanisms, making them easier prey for predatory fascist and authoritarian ideologies, which in turn allows the fungus to spread even more widely. The only meaningful difference is that the fungal parasitic FOX News hosts themselves are apparently NOT under the influence of Cordyseps MAGA. They’re deliberately and willfully spreading the fungus because it gives them power and a big paycheck.
Here’s an example. Tucker Carlson recently made these claims about the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6th, assaulted police officers, defaced and desecrated the building itself, and attempted to disrupt the historically peaceful transfer of presidential power.
“They were orderly and meek. These were not insurrectionists, they were sightseers. Footage from inside the Capitol overturns the story you’ve heard about January 6. Protesters queue up in neat little lines. They give each other tours outside the speaker’s office. They take cheerful selfies and they smile. They’re not destroying the Capitol, they obviously revere the Capitol. They’re there because they believe the election was stolen from them. They believe in the system.” — Tucker Carlson.
Nine sentences, eight of which are direct, intentional lies. The ONLY true statement is that the insurrectionists believe the election was stolen. But club-headed MAGA assholes only believe that bullshit because predatory pricks like Tucker Carlson have been feeding them spore-lies for a couple of decades. That’s how parasitic fungi work.
The larger problem is that parasitic fungi benefit and thrive to the detriment (and sometimes death) of their host. When FOX News deliberately spreads lies and misinformation, they pose a serious, no-shit risk to the host, which is representative democracy in the US. Even though it sounds far-fetched, they could end up destroying democracy in the United States.
As it is, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives shows very clear symptoms of being zombiefied. Just yesterday, Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy appointed Marjorie Taylor Greene as Speaker Pro-tempore. The GOP decision-making and behavior control mechanisms have been severely diminished. This is zombie behavior. This makes them easier prey for predatory fascists. This makes the entire US vulnerable.
Far-fetched? Yes. But not far enough. This could be the last of us.
Conspiracy theorists aren’t afraid of hard work.They’ll cheerfully concoct massively complicated theories with multiple interacting elements that require flow charts to understand how and why Hillary Clinton was responsible for the murder-by-plane crash of some obscure businessperson in Arkansas. But one of the many many problems with conspiracy theorists is they prefer fantasy theories that fit their worldview over actual theories that may contradict it.
Let’s take a very quick look at the arrest last weekend of former FBI big hat, Charles McGonigal (which is a lovely patronymic name, by the way; from the Gaelic Mac Conghaile, meaning the son of Conghaile which basically means ‘brave as a hound’). Your man McGonigal had what appeared to be a stellar FBI career, dealing with counter-espionage primarily. He joined the FBI in 1996 and was initially assigned to the New York Field Office, where he worked on Russian foreign counterintelligence and organized crime matters. When he retired in 2018, he was the Special Agent in Charge of the Counter-intelligence Division for the New York Field Office.
Why was McGonigal arrested? For money laundering and for helping Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska–a close friend and ally of Vlad Putin–dodge US sanctions imposed against him.
Right now, the MAGA crowd likes to depict the FBI as Trump-haters, largely because they searched Mar-a-Lago and found a hoard of classified documents that Trump had illegally taken and refused to release to the National Archives. But back in 2015-2016, when Trump was running for president, Trump supporters celebrated how much the FBI loved him. The New York Field Office in particular (and remember, McGonigal was in charge of a major FBI section of that office) was openly referred to as Trumplandia. It was the NY Field Office that got FBI Director James Comey to inform Congress (and therefore the news media) of the possible existence of new information that might lead to re-opening the closed investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server. Comey’s letter to Congress, which was written even before the FBI obtained a warrant to explore the possible new information, was made public ten days before the 2016 election. It almost certainly influenced the election result in Trump’s favor. And, of course, it turned out there was no new information.
It was McGonigal’s Counter-intelligence unit that handled the investigation of Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. Remember, Trump and most of his presidential campaign’s inner circle–his sons and daughter, Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Rick Gates, and others–had major business interests in Russia. Many of them had business dealings with Oleg Deripaska. In fact, in 2016 Deripaska was suing Trump’s campaign manager, Manafort, for US$25 million over a failed business deal in…wait for it…Ukraine. Manafort was instrumental in changing the 2016 Republican Presidential Platform to remove support for supplying defensive weapons to Ukraine. Why was the US giving weapons to Ukraine in 2016? Because in 2014, Russia (on orders from Putin) invaded and “annexed” the Crimean peninsula and a big chunk of eastern Ukraine.
2016 is also apparently the year in which McGonigal began secretly working with/for Deripaska. That same year, his unit investigated allegations that Russia was interfering with the US election process in support of Donald Trump. Although that investigation was later conducted under the aegis of Robert Mueller as Special Counsel, it was McGonigal’s agents who continued to investigate the matter. Mueller’s report concluded the Trump campaign DID welcome Russian interference in the election and they expected to benefit from it, The report also noted that pervasive obstruction of justice by witnesses made it impossible for McGonigal’s agents to obtain sufficient evidence to claim Trump committed a criminal conspiracy. In addition, there was/is a policy against charging a sitting president with a crime. Mueller did, however, note that Trump could be charged with obstruction of justice (or other crimes) after he left office.
So just to recap. 1) Putin/Russia seizes parts of Ukraine, 2) Russia leans on the Trump campaign to resist helping Ukraine, 3) the campaign complies, 4) Russia interferes with the election to help Trump, 5) the FBI investigation into that interference is conducted by McGonigal, who 6) is secretly being paid by an ally to Trump, and 7) the investigation fails to find any criminality. Also? 8) in 2019, President Trump lifts most of the sanctions against Deripaska.
This is all well documented in several public news sources. This is an actual conspiracy, a broad and wide-ranging criminal conspiracy.
Can we expect Congress to investigate? Nope. They’ll be too busy trying to figure out how Hunter Biden’s laptop was used by Bill Gates to create a secret Satanic community of cannibalistic pedophiles by secretly releasing a phony ‘plague’ manufactured in China by the Deep State Uniparty to weaken the rights of parents to decide which books their children should avoid to keep them from being groomed by drag queens and harvested for the lymph nodes celebrities need to stay young.
Let’s give the next-to-last word to William Gibson:
People find conspiracy theories fantastically comforting not because they’re more frightening than reality, but because they’re less frightening than reality.
We have nothing (aside from dick pics) to fear from Hunter Biden’s laptop. We have a great deal to fear from people willing to undermine democracy in return for wealth and power.
This question/comment was made by a senior economist employed by a major economic policy center:
Seems if we had an attorney general who respected the law, he would send the FBI to ALL of Trump’s residences and tear them apart to look for every damn missing document, just like would happen with a drug lord. What happened to no one being above the law?
Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. And it shouldn’t–not to Trump, not to a drug lord. It’s not gonna happen because we DO have an Attorney General who respects the law. It’s not gonna happen because it’s fucking illegal.
I’ve heard similar questions/comments by other folks. Some of those folks are boneheads, some are smart folks, educated folks, folks who follow the news. I blame television. On television, all a detective has to do is say to some flunky, “I know in my gut that this guy did the crime. I just need to find the evidence. Get me a warrant to search his house!” and hey bingo, the detective gets a warrant.
That just ain’t how it works. Law enforcement–and I’m talking about everybody from the FBI down to officers from your local Mayberry police department–can’t just act on a hunch or a gut feeling. This is pretty basic stuff, and it’s right out of the 4th Amendment of the US Constitution.
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
No warrants shall issue. What the hell is a warrant, anyway? The term comes from the Old French ‘garant‘ out of the Frankish ‘warand‘ meaning ‘pledge.’ It’s also the root term for ‘guarantee’ and ‘guard’ and ‘warden’. It means a pledge or guarantee that the information written down has been attested or given under oath.
If the State wants to search a place, they first have to swear an oath that they’ve got a legit reason to do that. There’s a process to this search warrant business, and that process always, without fail, begins with the question, Hey, did somebody break the law here? Is it illegal for Comrade Ex-President Donald J. Trump to stuff classified documents down his pants and take them to Trump Tower or one of his many golf resorts? The answer, of course, is yep. Totally illegal. But you have to be specific; you have to be able to point to an actual criminal statute and be able to say to a judge, “That law right here, that’s the law we believe Trump broke IF he walked away with those documents.“
Step two is another question: Did Trump do that? Did he stuff documents down his pants and walk away? This is where shit gets complicated. Obviously, you can’t prove Trump did that without evidence and you can’t get the evidence to show he did that without searching for it. But you can’t search for it until you can convince a judge that (okay, here’s some legal-sounding language) you have sufficient credible information to establish that Trump probably did that.
The judge will expect you to lay out what that information is, how you got that information, why you believe the information is credible, and your qualifications to justify your belief in the credibility of that information. So you tell the judge, “The Archives reports that Trump was supposed to give them all his shit after he left office, but there’s shit they KNOW exists and they don’t have it, so probably Trump does. The Archives haven’t ever lied to us before and we’re seriously experienced and skeptical FBI agents, and we trust them, so there.”
So yeah, you’ve shown that a crime was probably committed and Trump probably committed it. Now comes Step three: finding the damned evidence. Now you have to convince a judge that you’ve got good reason to believe the evidence of that specific crime exists and can be found in these specific locations. In the Mar-a-Lago search, the FBI told the judge, “We got us some witnesses who saw Comrade Donald J. Trump stuff like TWO truckloads of boxes labeled Classified Shit down his pants at the White House, and witnesses who saw those same boxes unloaded from his pants at Mar-a-Lago, and we’ve even got witnesses who saw those boxes in Trump’s basement and in his goddamned office, if you can believe it, where all sorts of loopy people go wandering through.”
The FBI had all that for Mar-a-Lago. So they were able to convince a judge to issue a search warrant and do the search. They apparently don’t have everything they need to get a warrant for Trump Tower or any of Trump’s other golf resorts. Not yet. But we know they’re talking to folks with information about those locations. So they’re working on it.
Why is this search and seizure business so complicated? To protect innocent people. To keep the agents of the State from wandering through anybody’s home or place of business on the off chance that maybe they’ll find something illegal. It’s to stop them from just walking into YOUR home or your office, opening YOUR drawers, snooping through YOUR closets, rummaging around in YOUR kitchen, or trolling through YOUR private stuff on YOUR computer.
The irony, of course, is that if Comrade Trump were ever to have power again, that sleazy motherfucker absolutely WOULD want to be able to do that.
Most etymologists agree that ‘fan’ is a shortening of fanatic. But ‘fanatic’ comes from the Latin fanaticus, meaning “mad, inspired by a god.” This, in turn, is derived from fanum, meaning “a temple, shrine, or consecrated place.” In the 1880s, when the newly-invented game of baseball began to catch on, the term fan became associated with sports. It now applies to any form of entertainment. Fans are basically crazy people.
Here’s the important distinction between being a fan and being a supporter: fandom is about passion based on faith and group identity; support is grounded in agreement. Supporters encourage and promote a person (or a group or a cause) because they share the views of what that person is doing, with what that group believes, with that cause. Fans support a person (or a group or a cause) because of who they believe that person (or group or cause) is.
For example, nobody supports the Chicago Cubs because they agree with the team, or because they share the team’s beliefs, or because they agree with the Cubbie’s cause. The team (as opposed to individual players) doesn’t have a cause. The Cubs exist to play baseball–that’s it. Cubs fans love the Cubs because they’re the Cubs. Maybe it has to do with the city of Chicago, or because of the team’s history, or because of a specific player (who doesn’t love Ernie Banks?), or even because of the friendly confines their iconic stadium. The reason for fandom isn’t as important as the fact of fandom.
Back in the 1990s, a researcher named Daniel Wann created a Sport Spectator Identification Scale–a series of questions to determine how deeply sports fans are invested in a team. He found strong correlations between identification with a team and a fan’s 1) self-esteem, 2) belief in the trustworthiness of others, 3) belief that the depth of one’s support can influence the outcome of a game, 4) consumptive behavior (the willingness to spend money, wait in line, consume media related to the team), 5) willingness to anonymously injure an opposing team player/coach, and 6) willingness to anonymously cheat to help one’s team.
Here’s a True Thing: Comrade Trump has few actual supporters; but he’s got a very large fan base. Trump fans aren’t all that different from sports fans. True fans (as opposed to weekend fans) will frequently change their lives to accommodate their fandom. They feel a powerful need to publicly demonstrate their membership in the fan base. They join clubs with other fans, they prefer to associate with other fans. They attend events (rallies, speeches, conventions, games). They wear hats and jerseys and scarfs to identify themselves as fans. They adorn their vehicles with fan stickers. Some will even fly flags showing their allegiance. They’re often loud and obnoxious in their support; they’re often louder and more obnoxious in their opposition to competing figures/teams.
Trump fans aren’t supporters of Trump’s beliefs (if he has any) or his political or religious ideology (if he has any) or his policies (if he has any); they’re fans of Trump his ownself. They want Trump to win, of course, but the thing about fan loyalty is that it doesn’t require winning. True fans (as opposed to fair weather fans) will continue to support a losing team; they’ll rationalize the losses (the referees are incompetent or corrupt, the home office is failing the team, the other teams cheat). Fans will even defend their team if/when it’s accused of cheating–even when there’s undeniable evidence of cheating. At the very least, they’ll justify the cheating.
When reporters ask people who attend Trump rallies, “How can you continue to support Trump when he has (fill in the blank with something awful and inexcusable)?” the answer lies in fandom, not reason or logic. And that’s a really big problem. Why? Because it’s almost impossible for a Cubs fan to stop being fans of the Chicago Cubs. That’s also true for Trump fans.
Remember this: groups of passionate sports fans can turn violent. Hell, the most common form of group violence among white men is the sports riot. This is true whether their team wins or loses. After the Detroit Tigers beat the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series, Detroit fans celebrated by a riot that left one person dead, eighty injured, and millions of dollars in property damage (the eight rapes that took place are often overlooked, because capitalism and misogyny place more value on property). The same thing happened in Chicago when the Chicago Bulls basketball team won the NBA final in 1991 (and again in 1992, and also in 1993, not to mention 1996 and 1997). We’ve seen similar sports riots in every nation with a passion for sports.
When asked why they rioted, sports fans usually claim they just got caught up in the moment. Which is also the most common excuse given by the January 6th insurrectionists.
That sort of unreasoned, passionate fan loyalty (and subsequent willingness to get ‘caught up in the moment’) applies to Trump fans. That’s scary in itself. It’s even more scary considering a LOT of Trump’s true fans are also true fans of the Second Amendment. The only thing worse than than a rabid fan is a rabid fan with a gun.
In yet another episode in the continuing saga of Whiny-ass Complaints of Butt-hurt MAGA Fuckwits we learn there are people who are offended by the notion that elves aren’t necessarily White People. Seriously. This idiotic fuss is about the new Lord of the Rings prequel that has apparently just been released (see Editorial Note at the end).
“Casting a non-White actor to play an elf makes it more difficult for audiences to maintain their willing suspension of belief.”
No, it doesn’t. Casting a non-white actor to play an elf makes it more difficult for racist assholes to maintain their willing suspension of disbelief. The quote above was, according to CNN, from Louis Markos, who is apparently the author of From A to Z to Middle Earth with J.R.R. Tolkien.
This Markos guy gets at least three things wrong. First, of course, is he misquotes Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s phrase– the willing suspension of disbelief. Back in 1817, Coleridge suggested that if a writer introduced “‘human interest and a semblance of truth’ into a fantastic tale, the reader would suspend judgement concerning the implausibility of the narrative.” This is why television viewers were willing to watch 12 seasons of Murder, She Wrote–they were willing to suspend their disbelief that Jessica Fletcher encountered more than 250 murders in the small Maine village of Cabot Cove. All fiction depends to some degree on the reader/viewer’s willing suspension of disbelief.
Second, Markos says casting actors of color as elves threatens the story’s ‘believability’ because Tolkien described elves as “fair-faced.” The term fair comes from the Old English term fæger, which when applied to living things meant “pleasing to the eye, attractive” and when applied to weather meant “clear, bright, pleasant”. Tolkien, remember, was an academic who studied Old English and Anglo-Saxon literature, and had at one time worked for the Old English Dictionary as an expert in etymology. He knew what ‘fair’ meant and how it applied to faces. Markos clearly doesn’t. Or–and I suppose this is a real possibility–he simply doesn’t believe non-White folks can be pleasing to the eye. It’s fucked up either way.
Third, Markos claims casting actors of color “…is not something organic that’s coming out of Middle-earth. This is really an agenda that is being imposed upon it.” He’s almost got a point here. Almost. Tolkien’s Middle-earth is based on the Norse Miðgarðr, which they broadly described as the world “inhabited by and known to humans.” In the literature, Miðgarðr actually referred to the defensive wall around the world constructed by the gods from the eyebrows of the giant Ymir (which, by the way, requires some serious fucking suspension of disbelief). But Tolkien used Middle-earth to describe an imaginary period of the Earth’s past when peoples other than Men (elves, dwarves, trolls, hobbits, orcs, ents, etc.) still inhabited the planet, although in dwindling numbers. His Middle-earth did sort of correspond to western Europe in terms of geography.
But to my knowledge, there’s nothing Tolkien wrote to suggest peoples other than Men (and Tolkien used ‘Men’ to refer to all humankind) were necessarily White. I mean, we’re talking about elves here. If you can’t deal with Black or Asian or Indonesian or pick-a-race elves, then the problem isn’t your capacity to suspend disbelief. The problem is you’re a racist asshole.
EDITORIAL NOTE: I haven’t seen the show I’m talking about, which ordinarily would be a problem. But in this instance, the show itself is less important than the books on which the story is based and the credentials of the person who wrote them. I haven’t been inclined to watch the show, mainly because I had the misfortune of watching the first of Peter Jackson’s wretched interpretation of The Hobbit. That was enough to eradicate any desire to see any new visualization of Tolkien’s work.
But I’m actually hearing good things about this show from people who were as skeptical about it as I was. So at some point I’ll probably watch it.
Also? I usually like to include an image in these blog posts, and I did a quick image search for Rings of Power and saw some images of POC in costume, but since I couldn’t see their ears I’ve no idea if they were meant to be elves or something else. I didn’t want to just drop in some random image of a Black actor who may or may not be an elf, so…no image.
EDITORIAL NOTE 2: Thanks to Mark Alexander, we now have an imbedded image to demonstrate…well, I’m not exactly sure what it demonstrates. That actors of color can play non-human roles in fantasy stories? We already knew that. I guess it demonstrates just how fucking idiotic it is for racists to get frantic about Black actors getting gigs as elves.
I haven’t written here for a week or so — not because I don’t have anything to say, but because there’s SO MUCH to say. I start to write about this, which is necessarily tied into that and is deeply connected to this other thing. You can’t, for example, write about abortion without also writing about the political corruption of the Supreme Court, which means you also need to address the rising fascism of the Republican Party and the green grass grows all around, all around.
But here we are on July 4th. Independence Day, right? When we celebrate the decision by a group of colonists so fed up with a hostile government that subjected them to such “a long train of abuses and usurpations” that they felt it was necessary “to dissolve the political bands which have connected them.”
I think the operative term there is necessary. It’s from the Latin necesse (which meant ‘unavoidable’) and cedere (to withdraw, go away). Necessary, a thing from which there is no backing away. The colonists felt it was necessary to rebel against the government that oppressed them.
When we think about the Declaration of Independence, we tend to focus on the dramatic bits at the beginning. Mainly this line:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That’s powerful stuff, no mistake. Beautifully written. But we forget that the biggest chunk of the Declaration is a list of grievances — an inventory of all the shit the government of the King of England was imposing on the American colonies. That list includes stuff like:
— He has obstructed the Administration of Justice — He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices — He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us
There’s another small chunk of Declaration that gets overlooked. It’s just a paragraph that basically says, “Hey, look, we warned you guys about this. Repeatedly. We asked you nicely to knock this shit off. We have appealed to your native justice and magnanimity. But no, you fucking ignored all those warnings. You have been deaf to the voice of justice.
A lot of us today feel much as those colonists did almost 250 years ago. Instead of a tyrannical king or queen, we have to deal with a neo-fascist Republican Party. We have to deal with Republican at the state level who are actively manipulating laws to undermine the process of representative democracy. We have to deal with a Republican Supreme Court that ignores legal precedence when it conflicts with their personal religious beliefs or their political ideology. We have to deal with a former president who not only refused to accept the result of a free and fair election, but continues to foment sedition.
Those colonists had to choose — do we keep putting up with this shit, or do we act? We have to make a similar choice. We know basically what needs to be done. The Supreme Court MUST be made neutral. It MUST be returned to balance. Not a liberal Court (as much as I’d love that); just a Supreme Court that isn’t governed by any partisan ideology.
The Declaration of Independence was a revolutionary document. I mean revolutionary in every sense of the term. It sparked an actual revolution, it started a shooting war. We don’t want or need that here. We don’t need to turn the world upside down — at least not at this point; we just need to put it back into balance.
But one thing is clear. If we don’t act, if we keep putting up with this shit, if we don’t start electing Democrats who are willing to make some radical but legal decisions to balance SCOTUS, if we don’t do that in the very next election, then we may never see another free and fair election in my lifetime.