pissing in the soup

I’m tired. Tired and disappointed and angry, but mostly tired.

I worked as an election official on Tuesday. I suspect the local election (mayor, city council, school board) was pretty similar to most other elections in the US. Our small election team (five of us plus a precinct captain) had worked together before, so everything ran smoothly. We arrived at our polling station at 6AM and worked until 9PM. We’d expected a decent turnout; I figured we’d get 400, maybe 500 voters. Enough to keep us modestly busy.

We had over 1200 voters. I only had time for a short 30 minute break all day–just enough time to eat a sandwich. As far as I could tell, we had a representative sample of the local population–mostly white, with a broad spectrum of age, gender, and political perspectives. There were voters wearing ‘Nevertheless, She Persisted’ t-shirts and voters wearing NRA trucker hats, we had a young woman with a ‘Merry Meet’ Wiccan pin and one beefy guy in camo pants wearing a III% t-shirt. Nobody wore a MAGA hat.

The election was fair; it was busy, but went exactly as planned. Every registered voter got to vote. If somebody showed up and wasn’t registered, we registered them on the spot and let them vote. If a voter came to the wrong precinct, we printed them a map with directions to the correct polling station. I’m proud of the way we handled the voting process.

The election was fair; the campaigning was not.

Although the city council and school board positions are technically non-partisan (there were no political affiliations listed by the candidate’s names on the ballot), Republicans won across the board. Democrats ran campaigns based on compassion tempered by science. Republicans ran campaign based on misinformation, lies, and fear. Democrats supported mask and vaccine mandates; Republicans said parents know more about their kids’ health than scientists. Democrats said education should be diverse and prepare students for the world they live in; Republicans said Critical Race Theory taught white students to hate themselves and trans kids would destroy sports.

The election was fair; the campaigning was not; the reporting was stenographic. Reporters presented the candidate’s positions accurately, but without presenting any factual support. If a candidate said, “Leading scientists say vaccines are dangerous and I only want to protect the children” then that’s what was reported, without any indication that it was fatuous bullshit. If a candidate claimed that CRT was dangerous and shouldn’t be taught in school, that’s what was reported, regardless of the fact that CRT isn’t taught in any public high school, junior high school, or grade school–and not even in most undergraduate college courses. If a candidate lied, reporters just relayed the unfiltered lie to the public.

Looks good, looks healthy — but is it?

If campaigns are allowed–even encouraged–to be dishonest, then an honest election has little practical relevance. I’m proud to have helped facilitate a fair election process, but I can’t help being disappointed. Not because it’s not the outcome I wanted, but because the outcome is tainted. It’s like running a spotless, orderly, professional kitchen that allows some cooks to piss in the soup. The kitchen is clean, the soup looks good, but it’s still got piss in it.

So I’m tired. Tired and disappointed and angry, but mostly tired. Tired physically and emotionally, disappointed in a system that fails to require candidates to speak honestly, and angry that our system favors liars, con artists, and fear mongers. I’m tired and disappointed and angry, but today I’m still mostly tired.

Tomorrow, I’ll go back to being angry.

aid and comfort

I haven’t read the book. I mean, it hasn’t even been released yet. But like a lot of news enthusiasts (that sounds a lot nicer than ‘news junkie’) I’ve heard a lot about Peril, the new book by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. One of the book’s revelations is that General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was so concerned about Comrade Trump’s emotional instability during the closing days of his administration that he called his Chinese counterpart (General Li Zuocheng) to assure him the US wasn’t planning to attack China. Milley also apparently assured Li that IF the US was going to launch any sort of attack, he’d call Li first to let him know.

Gen. Mark Milley

Republicans, of course, are calling this treason. Republicans, of course, are fucking idiots. Just to be clear, treason is a crime and like all crimes, it has to be defined. Here’s the definition of treason as written in the US Constitution (Article III, section 3):

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

That’s it. The Constitution outlines treason, but in order to make it a criminal offense, Congress had to pass a law against it, and the law had to articulate the elements of the crime. And hey, Congress did just that. Title 18 of the US Code § 2381, which reads as follows:

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

So, back to Gen. Milley. Does he owe allegiance to the US? Damn right, he does. Did he levy war against the US? Nope. Did he adhere to the enemies of the US? Under law, adhere refers to the act of joining or being in league with. Did Milley join China? Was he in league with China? Nope. Did he give aid and comfort to China? Aid, nope; comfort, yeah, probably.

Now some folks will be thinking Lawdy, General Milley gave comfort to CHINA! Traitor!. Nope. Every politician or military figure or corporate CEO who has gone to China and said stuff like “We want to be partners, we want to be friends, we want to work together” has given comfort to China. As far as that goes, every corporation who has opened a factory in China has given them aid and comfort. Every US business who buys Chinese products is giving them aid and comfort. Look around your house or apartment and you’ll find stuff made in China.

Dude, you done gave aid and comfort to China.

But you didn’t commit treason, did you. (Wait…did you? Just asking.) But buying products made in China isn’t treason because…and this is the thing all those GOP fucking idiots either forget or ignore…China isn’t the enemy of the US. We’re not at war with China. Hell, despite what Trump used to bellow, we’re not even in a trade war with China. In fact, China is our biggest trading partner.

What Gen. Milley did was inform a worried trading partner who was being threatened in speeches by an emotionally labile and irrational POTUS (who, if you’ll recall, was openly suggesting China had deliberately unleashed a global pandemic and promising some sort of retaliation) that the US had no plans to launch an attack. And IF an attack was planned, he’d let Gen. Li know about it.

Now that last bit sounds dodgy, doesn’t it. I mean, why would we warn somebody we’re going to attack them? We do it because we’re not monsters. This is actually a pretty common practice in modern international warfare. Retaliatory strikes tend to be made against structures rather than people. Radar sites, command and control facilities, chemical plants, armament factories, aircraft hangars, stuff like that. The intent is to punish the enemy by degrading their military capabilities. The targets are usually announced in advance to give personnel a chance to leave. Basically, it’s a warning, a statement. It’s saying, “Dude, we just blew the everlasting fuck out of these buildings, but we could have done that when there were people inside. Do NOT fuck with us. Next time we might not be so nice.”

Gen. Milley wasn’t committing treason. He was being a professional military leader. He was basically telling Gen. Li that even if Comrade Trump was unstable, the government of the United States was…well, less unstable. What Milley did — reassuring China that POTUS wasn’t out of control — wasn’t alarming. What’s alarming is the fact that the nation’s highest-ranking military officer and principal military advisor to the President thought it was necessary to reassure China.

Dudley of the Afghan Mounted Police

Okay, think of it like this. Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties is just standing around minding his own business and looking handsome, when Snidely Whiplash walks up to him and smacks him in the jaw. WTF, right?

Dudley is bigger and tougher and handsomer than Snidely; ain’t no way he’s gonna let Snidely get away with smacking him in the jaw. He goes to Snidely’s house and starts kicking the shit out of him. Nell Fenwick, Snidely’s sorta girlfriend, encourages Dudley, saying Snidely’s mean to her, never lets her drive his buggy and is always tying her to railroad tracks and shit. Even more reason for Dudley to kick Snidely’s ass.

Nell says, “Dudley, don’t kill him. Make him suffer. Take his buggy. He loves that buggy. He never let me drive it. Take it and give it to me. That’ll piss him off, it’ll give me more freedom, and you’ll be a hero.” Dudley says, “Righto.” He kicks Snidely a few more times, then hands he the reins to the buggy and gives her a horse.

But Nell is a terrible buggy driver. She bangs it into things, she doesn’t oil the wheels, she gets tickets for reckless buggying and illegal parking. Dudley manfully gives her money to pay the fines, the repair costs, and horse feed. He tells Nell, “Hey girl, you need to start taking better care of that buggy or get a job; this is getting expensive.” Nell promises she will. But she doesn’t.

To make matters worse, somebody (Dudley is certain it’s Snidely) keeps tossing bricks at the buggy, breaking spokes in the wheels, painting ‘Dudley is a dick’ on the side, putting burrs in the horse’s tack. Snidely also keeps making sporadic feeble attempts to tie Nell to a railroad track. And Dudley, that dolt, he keeps handing big chunks of his Mountie paycheck to Nell for various repair bills and fines, not to mention premium Horse Chow. He also spends much of his time off work untying her from random railroad tracks.

Dudley finally gets Nell and Snidely together in a room. He say, “You guys, you need to work something out. I’m pretty sick of this shit. Stop with this buggy and railroad track bullshit. And leave that horse alone.” Snidely shrugs; Nell says, “You promised to help me. The horse needs new shoes.” And nothing changes.

Finally, Dudley goes to Snidely. He says, “This buggy shit has to stop.” Snidely says, “It IS my buggy, after all.” Dudley says, “Yeah, but it’s my horse. And Nell has been driving the buggy for twenty years now.” Snidely says, “How about this…if you agree to take your horse and leave, I’ll agree to stop vandalizing my buggy.” Dudley says, “Okay, but I also need you to stop trying to tie Nell to the railroad tracks.” Snidely says, “Sure, I can probably do that. Starting in, say, a month?” Dudley says, “Deal.” They shake hands.

Dudley tells Nell he’s out of the buggy repair business, he’s taking his horse in a month, and she should probably avoid going anywhere near a railroad for a while. She’s pissed he met Snidely behind her back. Snidely stops vandalizing the buggy, but he still occasionally ‘accidentally’ pushes Nell in the general direction of a railroad track. The horse is confused.

Two weeks later, Nell takes all the cash she’d secretly stashed from Dudley’s checks and books a room in a hotel in another town. Snidely collects his buggy and starts building more railroad tracks. Dudley, thinking he still had two weeks to deal with all this, catches shit from the media for ‘suddenly abandoning Nell’ and ‘not having a plan to provide immediate barn space for the horse.’

The horse, accustomed to being a horse, does what it’s told.

burning bed

Yesterday an online acquaintance ‘explained’ to me that the tragedy that’s unfolding in Afghanistan wasn’t actually the fault of President Uncle Joe. It was basically Comrade Trump’s fault, he said, and Uncle Joe had been too focused on taking care of US citizens and so had overlooked what might happened in Afghanistan.

He wasn’t entirely wrong, but he was a LONG LONG way from being right. He’s right that it’s not Biden’s fault that the situation in Afghanistan is fucked up; but Uncle Joe is POTUS, which absolutely makes it his responsibility. Yes, it didn’t help that Trump’s policy in Afghanistan was inconsistent and incoherent. In fact, it’s ridiculous to even call it a ‘policy’; it was a series of reckless impulses, usually implemented through Twitter without consulting the military or his own State Department or…well, anybody. Trump made that unfortunate nation even less stable and more chaotic, but it would be wrong to blame the current calamity entirely on him. President Obama’s handling of Afghanistan was certainly more thoughtful and consistent–well, less inconsistent–but it was still largely ineffective. What’s happening there today isn’t Obama’s fault either.

The blame lies entirely with President George W. Bush. A limited, targeted strike against Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden would have been an appropriate response to the attack of 9/11/2011. But Bush, for personal and political reasons, decided to expand the mission to install a US-friendly president and create a US-style democracy in Afghanistan. And then he decided “Oh, what the hell, let’s do the same thing in Iraq.”

Essentially, Bush shit the bed. He shit the bed in Afghanistan and let the stink spread to Iraq. Obama inherited the bed and the stink, and while he tried to tidy things up, there was no way to get around the fact that there was a pile of shit in the bed and everything stank. When Trump inherited the bed, he sort of randomly smeared the shit around, making a bigger mess, then held his nose and declared he couldn’t smell any stink. He said, “Hey, it’s not my shit and not my bed” and announced the US would be leaving the room. He left the shit-smeared bed and stink for Uncle Joe, who is justifying leaving the room because Trump said that’s what we were going to do.

The Taliban, who’ve lived in the house for centuries, have decided to burn the bed. And everything in it.

Here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t Uncle Joe who shit the bed. Right now, the bed is his responsibility. He has a duty–a moral and ethical obligation–to rescue as much as he can before the Taliban completely burns the bed. Here’s another thing: no matter what he does, there’s nothing–nothing at all–Uncle Joe can do to mitigate the reality that the US left a pile of shit in the bed.

john kenna and three spoilers

Yesterday the House of Representatives passed legislation to remove the statues of leaders and soldiers of the Confederate States of America from the National Statuary Hall Collection in the US Capitol. The vote was 285 to 120. The 120 members of Congress who voted to keep the statues of Confederates were all Republicans.

(SPOILER #1: The Confederate States of America was an illegal and unrecognized breakaway entity of eleven US states that, from February 8, 1861, to May 9, 1865, fought in a bloody, armed rebellion against the legitimate government of the United States of America in an effort to maintain an economic system grounded in human bondage.)

The statues include:

CSA President Jefferson Davis — owned 113 slaves; believed the right to own black slaves created the foundation for white equality (I’m not making that up).
CSA Vice President Alexander Stephens — owned at least 30 slaves; said the Confederacy was built upon “the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”
CSA Gen. Joseph Wheeler — owned as many as 300 slaves; in Dec. of 1864, when hundreds of liberated slaves followed Union Gen. Sherman’s forces on their ‘March to the Sea’, Wheeler’s troops came across app. 600 former slaves stranded by US forces on the banks of the Ebenezer Creek — they killed and drowned many, captured and resold the rest back into slavery.
CSA Gen. James Z. George — owned app. 30 slaves; believed African slaves should be treated ‘fairly’ but weren’t capable of ‘responsible citizenship’; changed Mississippi’s post-war constitution to enable illiterate white men to vote while excluding illiterate blacks.
CSA Gen. Wade Hampton III — owned app. 3000 slaves; post-war he was elected governor of South Carolina with help of the Red Shirts militia, which used violence to suppress black voting; an estimated 150 black freedmen were murdered during the campaign.
CSA Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith — owned an unknown number of slaves, one of whom (likely his half-brother) accompanied him as a servant during the Civil War (and later became Jacksonville, Florida’s first black doctor); Smith was the last CSA general to surrender.
CSA Col. Zebulon Baird Vance — owned 18 slaves; believed emancipation of black slaves was a threat to white purity; said the mind “recoils in disgust and loathing from the prospect of intermingling the quick blood of the European with the putrid stream of African barbarism.”
CSA soldier John E. Kenna — owned 0 slaves; joined the Confederate Army at age 16, after the war became a politician noted for improving the Kanawha River navigation system and defending the president’s power to fire executive branch officials.
CSA soldier Edward Douglass White — owned app. 60 slaves; after the war he took part in the Battle of Liberty Place–an attempted insurrection against the Reconstruction state government of Louisiana by the Crescent City White League, a paramilitary terrorist organization made up largely of Confederate veterans; they occupied the statehouse, armory, and downtown for three days before arrival of Federal troops that restored the elected government; he was eventually appointed to the SCOTUS, where he voted to uphold Jim Crow laws stripping black Americans of civil rights.

You may be wondering 1) why the National Statuary Hall even has statues of men who betrayed their nation in the defense of slavery, and 2) why anybody would support keeping the statues of traitors in the Capitol Building (especially after that building had been assaulted by an insurrectionist mob attempting to disrupt the legitimate election of a new president). The answer to both of those questions is as follows: a lot of Republican politicians are massive assholes and/or racists who are okay with folks overthrowing the legitimate government if it will put Republicans in charge.

(SPOILER #2: 121 Republicans in the House voted also against certifying Arizona’s electoral outcome and 138 House Republicans voted against certifying Pennsylvania’s electoral outcome even though both states certified their election results as legitimate.)

I’m glad the statues are being removed…but I’m also a tad troubled by the inclusion of John Kenna. The resolution pertains to statues of “any individual who served voluntarily at any time as a member of the Armed Forces of the Confederate States of America or of the military of a State while the State was in open rebellion against the United States.” And yeah, that’s John Kenna, right there.

John E. Kenna

Here’s why I’m troubled. Kenna was just a grunt. An enlisted soldier. But his statue is being treated as equally offensive as that of the president of the Confederacy and the military leaders of the CSA. Kenna was only 16 and had little education when he joined the CSA, he never held any high military rank, neither he nor any of his family owned slaves, there’s no written record of him promoting slavery or white supremacy before or after the war. But his statue is being given the same treatment as the statue of Jefferson Davis.

Did Kenna fight on the wrong side of the war? Absolutely. But he was just a kid. Did he fight against the legitimate government of the United States? Yep, he did. But he was just a kid. Did he fight in favor of an economic system that dehumanized black people? Yes, he surely did. But he was just a kid. Did he believe slavery was right? I don’t know…maybe. Probably, since he grew up with it and didn’t know any better because he was just a kid. My guess–and I admit I have nothing at all to base this on–is that Kenna had no more sense of what he was fighting for or against than the kids who fought in Vietnam. My guess is John Kenna went where he was told to go, shot who he was told to shoot at, and did what he thought was his duty.

But that’s the thing, isn’t it. You make choices, even as a kid. And you own those choices, even if you were acting out of ignorance. John Kenna volunteered to put on the uniform and fight for the Confederacy. So his statue has to go. Has to.

John E. Kenna

But we don’t have cheer for it. We can celebrate the removal of the leaders of the Confederacy, the men who knew what they were doing and why. But when we remove Kenna’s statue, we need to remember the reality that enlisted personnel are tools that our leaders use for their own purposes.

(SPOILER #3: Think about John Kenna when you hear that South Dakota Republican Gov. Kristi Noem has authorized a Republican billionaire to fund the deployment of her National Guard troops to the Mexican border at the request of Texas Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott.)

freedoms and other stuff

Praise be, Ammon Bundy has just announced he’s running to be the governor of the great state of Idaho. Well, to be fair, he first announced he was running to be governor of Idaho about a month ago–but the Idaho Deep State tried to prevent him. They insisted that in order to hold a high office in Idaho–hell, in order to even attempt to hold a high office in Idaho–you first have to be registered as a voter in Idaho.

It’s that sort of communist bullshit that keeps good American patriots from being in government, which is corrupt anyway. But hey, Ammon jumped through their commie lesbian hoops and registered to vote, and now he’s really truly no-shit running for governor. In his announcement, Ammon told his followers,

“I’m running for governor because I’m sick and tired of all of this political garbage just like you are. I’m tired of our freedoms being taken from us and I’m tired of the corruption that is rampant in our state government.”

Without our freedoms, America would be just like China or Iran or Canada. Without American freedoms people like Ammon’s daddy wouldn’t be able to graze cattle on land he didn’t own for free. I mean, his poor daddy would be expected to pay grazing fees to the US government, just like the other 20,000 ranchers in the area. That ain’t right. If you make the Bundy family pay grazing fees, you might just as well open up high school bathrooms to pedophiles and boys in dresses playing girl’s basketball.

Ammon Bundy has opinions and a cowboy hat.

And Ammon, he stood up for Idaho’s freedoms time and again. When the government came to move his daddy’s cattle off government land in Nevada (which, okay, is not in Idaho), Ammon blocked their way with an ATV. They tasered poor Ammon, just like he was black or maybe an Indian. Tasered him twice. Ammon, he was so soul-hurt by the way his own government treated him, that he went on Fox News and told the nation about it. He said,

“If someone came in, busted into my house and abused my children, and so I call the cops, they don’t respond, and then I take them to court. I show up at the courtroom, look on the stand, and it’s the very person that abused my children looking down at me in a black robe. How in the world are we going to get justice in that court?”

Okay, it was cattle and not children. And okay, the cattle weren’t abused. And yeah, okay, it was federal land, not Bundy’s house. And okay, maybe it was federal land officers and not local cops. And it was the feds who took them to court, not Ammon. And sure, this was in Nevada not Idaho, but freedoms is freedoms. How can we expect justice from a government like that? That’s a government that will ram Critical Race Theory down the throats of Christian bakers.

Ammon also defended Idaho’s freedoms when he and a couple dozen armed fellow patriots seized control of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon (which, okay, is also not in Idaho) to protest the conviction of two men who’d committed arson on federal lands. Okay, maybe those two men didn’t actually want Ammon defending their freedoms, especially by an armed occupation of federal lands that weren’t even the same federal lands they’d committed arson on, but sometimes a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.

Ammon Bundy is a man (and he has rights, just like Commander Waterford), and what he and his fellow patriots had to do was seize and occupy a federal wildlife refuge, break into the refuge’s safes, steal money and cameras and computers, desecrate some so-called ‘culturally significant’ sites, (which were just graves of Indians who’d been dead a long time) because freedom isn’t free. When a man and his armed buddies can’t spend 41 days protecting freedom on a federal facility, you might just as well put Hillary and AOC in charge and make us all pay dues to Antifa.

Ammon Bundy standing up for freedom by sitting down in a comfy chair.

And that’s not all. Ammon also defended Idaho’s freedoms–all of them–by protesting the phony Covid hoax mask mandate and refusing to leave the Idaho capitol building (which is totally in Idaho), after which the Idaho Deep State arrested him and charged (probably in violation of the Constitution) with trespassing and resisting arrest. And if that’s not bad enough, when he was supposed to be tried, they wouldn’t even let him into the courthouse, because he patriotically refused to wear a mask. Ammon was then banned from entering the Idaho Capitol for a year. Which was probably just a fake false flag ploy to try to prevent him from becoming governor and keeping Idaho safe from BLM homo-terrorists.

But now that he’s registered to vote, they can’t stop him from running for governor. Ammon promises to “bring that same vigor and willingness to stand for what is right [that he’s shown in the past] to the state of Idaho.” He pledges that as governor, ain’t nobody going to “take away gun rights, freedom of religion and parental rights” from patriotic Idahoans. Idaho needs a simple rancher (and okay, Ammon’s not technically a rancher, but only because he doesn’t own a ranch and doesn’t own any livestock and technically owns a truck repair company and an apple orchard, but he does wear a cowboy hat) to show them the way to prosperity and success. Praise be.

compromise? what is this ‘compromise’?

I refuse to believe Joe Manchin, the Democratic Senator from West Virginia, is as naive as he presents himself. I mean, a couple of weeks ago he was (or at least he said he was) confident the Senate would approve a bipartisan plan to create an independent commission to examine the 1/6 insurrection. He actually said out loud that he believed there would be “ten good, solid patriots” among the Senate Republicans who’d vote for the commission.

Was he right? Nope.

This week Manchin proposed a ‘compromise’ on voting rights. Democrats, of course, want sweeping legislative protections designed to make elections secure and accessible to every eligible voter. Republicans want legislation designed to make elections limited as much as possible to Republican voters; Democrats can go fuck themselves.

It’s hard to come up with a compromise between those two positions. But Manchin, bless his heart, tried. And he actually cobbled something together that was inadequate, but at least offered a semi-reasonable starting position. He pared the Democratic wishlist down to the bone, and added a few points that Republicans advocated. You can read the actual text of the compromise, but here are the main points of his plan.

The Good Stuff:
— Election Day would be a public holiday. Everybody gets the day off to go vote.
— At least 15 days (including two weekends) of continuous early voting in federal elections
— Automatic voter registration at the DMV for citizens, allow people to opt out if they didn’t want to appear on the voting rolls
— A ban on partisan gerrymandering, districts decided by computer models
— At least 7 days notification of a change in polling location

The Not-Good Stuff:
— Doesn’t require no-excuse mail-in balloting
— Doesn’t require convenient ballot drop boxes for early voting
— Doesn’t prevent states from requiring extra ID security measures for people requesting mail-in ballots
— Doesn’t require a paper ballot backup

It’s…well, it’s pretty much what Manchin claimed he wanted; it’s a compromise. Not a good compromise, but a compromise. It includes provisions which both Democrats and Republicans want, and provisions to which both parties object. You know…a compromise. So of course, Republicans have rejected it out of hand. They rejected it because it’s a compromise–and because Manchin himself is being a horse’s ass about the filibuster, the Republicans don’t have to compromise on anything.

Senator Joe Manchin — will he prove Aristotle was right?

It MUST be clear even to Joe Manchin that the GOP is no longer interested in representative democracy. Again, I don’t think Manchin can be accused of naivete. At this point in time–and frankly, this was obvious during the Obama administration–to believe Congressional Republicans have any interest at all in compromise or bipartisanship is NOT naive. Naivete at that level is tantamount to stupidity.

Aristotle (yeah, I’m calling in the Greeks) believed the function of the brain was to cool the blood–that it wasn’t involved in the thinking process. Joe Manchin may provide an argument in Aristotle’s favor.

the problem with problems

The modern Republican Party (you know what? I need to stop calling them ‘the modern Republican Party’ because at this point they’re just the Republican Party; there’s no point in trying to distinguish the cowardly fuckwits who now inhabit this aggressively ignorant cultural collective from the Republican Party that used to have consistent conservative principles) has a problem with problems. In fact, they have several problems with problems.

They lack any meaningful understanding of actual socio-political problems, they have no interest in learning about them, no ability to address them in any practical way, and no real desire to resolve them. What they DO have is a clear understanding of the political optics of being seen as dealing with problems.

Republicans have an intuitive grasp of the narrative strength of heroic problem solving. It’s one of the classic story tropes. A monster exists. A hero leaves their community and goes out into a hostile world in search of the monster. They encounter difficulties and tests of courage along the way, and overcome them. They find the monster, struggle against it, nearly lose, then triumph over it. They return home again–maybe to applause, maybe just to live quietly among those they’ve made safe.

What Republicans do is turn that trope on its head. There is no monster, which means they’re not heroes, so they don’t leave the safety of their community or deal with a hostile world, and their privilege protects them from any difficulties or tests of courage they may encounter. But if they invent a monster, they can pretend to be heroes by claiming to risk themselves in a life-or-death struggle, allowing them to assert some sort of imaginary victory.

The valiant GOP stands tall against critical race trans voter fraud.

There is no monster of voter fraud. Yet Republicans claim they’re in danger and are courageously struggling overwhelming Socialist enemies to enact voting restrictions which will save…what? Elections? There is no monster of trans girl/women athletes dominating high school or college sports. Yet Republicans claim girls and young women are in danger and they are bravely enacting laws banning trans athletes from sports which will…what? Save high school track and field meets? There is no monster of critical race theory savaging the lives of students. Yet Republicans insist they’re valiantly standing up against…something…in order to rescue innocent young white students from learning that systemic racism exists, thereby saving them from…what? Caring?

Republicans present themselves as beamish boys wielding vorpal blades against burbling Jabberwoks in the tulgey wood. Hast thou slain the trans-racist-voter fraud? O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Now to galumph back to Mar-a-Lago, chortling.

It’s all nonsense. Not silly nonsense, though. Dangerous nonsense. Because as a nation, we’re facing real fucking problems, with real fucking jaws that bite and claws that catch. Modern Republicans have gone through the Looking Glass. And there’s no sign that they’re ever coming back.

“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master — that’s all.”

It’s a good question. It’s a question that will determine whether or not the US will have any hope of being a representative democracy.