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Category: Politics

A Roll of the Dice
We have never witnessed anything quite like the spectacle now unfolding in our nation’s capital. The drama is not limited to the White House, though the president does impart an orange stain to everything he touches. Perhaps the most riveting act in this three-ring circus is the show being staged in Congress.

There have been comparisons of the Trump-Russia story to Watergate and to the Clinton impeachment saga, but this one is different. Neither of those crises involved our national security or struck at the heart of our democratic system. There was wrongdoing, but a third-rate burglary and lying under oath are just not in the same category as Trump’s quasi-treason or the massive corruption of our right to vote. What’s more, in those cases the wrongdoing was over and done with by the time Congress stepped in. The Russian attack on our rights and sovereignty continues to grow even now. And our Republican Congress has done nothing to stop it.

It is hard to explain exactly why that is. You don’t have to be a cynic to know that politicians will abandon their principles to hang onto power, but most people would predict that even the most shameless pol would balk at foreign powers taking control our government. Lindsey Graham, for instance, is not likely to land a job in a Putin administration. Why, then, are he and his GOP colleagues treating this dire situation with such casual partisanship?

None of us really knows the answer to that, but I have a theory. There are some crazies in Congress, especially in the Freedom Caucus of the House of Representatives, but I don’t think Lindsey and his co-conspirators are among them. I don’t even think he has abandoned his long-held suspicion and dislike of the Evil Empire. He has served the interests of Vladimir Putin by trying to discredit any investigation of the Trump-Russia entanglements, but I sense a larger plan at work here.

It all comes back to that orange stain. I believe that the Republicans (the craven-but-not-crazy ones) are almost as anxious to expunge it as most Americans. But that’s not so easy for them. His base, after all, is their base. That group includes the nationalists, racists, alt-righters, conspiracists, and a lot of other nutcases that they have cynically nurtured over the last few decades. If Lindsey and company were to try to dump the Orange One without a solid reason, the base would surely dump them.

So what to do? To me, their despicable tactics are part of a big, dangerous gamble. They are daring to defend the indefensible now, protecting Trump on every front, but they are looking for the perfect time to pivot and help drive him out of the White House. That moment, according to their plan, will be provided by the Mueller investigation. They will undermine his credibility, but they are betting that it won’t stick. Mueller and his band of cold-eyed prosecutors will find plenty — plenty — of impeachable offenses. When that day comes, Republicans will solemnly, and with the deepest sadness, give in to the mountain of indisputable proof. They will choose country over party and join the Democrats in the impeachment and conviction of Donald J. Trump.

It is a gamble, though. For one thing, the base might desert them anyway. Even if Trump goes, the orange stain will still be there, and some of it will be on them. Whatever honor they can claim now will surely be compromised. Lindsey Graham will be stuck with a record that not only includes comforting Vladimir Putin, but also undermining our justice system and abetting the largest single instance of voter fraud in U.S. history. He and his friends are rolling the dice and hoping it won’t make any difference to the voters. And it could work. All of these issues may be at the very heart of Republican orthodoxy, but hey, they’re just principles. As we have said, the lust for power often trumps such concerns.

There is always a chance, of course, that they overplay their hand and end up seeing their efforts to discredit Mueller succeed. The investigation would end, Trump would still be there, and so would the massive Russian intrusion into our democracy. But heck...nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I admit that all of this is an ugly scenario. If true, it would be a dark episode for our republic. Honestly, though, my theory is really very Pollyanna-ish. It assumes the absolute best about Lindsey Graham, given what he has already done. The truth could be much, much darker. His complicity could be even deeper, his crime against the common good even more reprehensible.

But I really don’t think so. Or maybe I just prefer an explanation based on ugliness rather than full-out criminal insanity. I guess that is my gamble.
Ripped Off Again
I really thought I was onto something the other day. I imagined that I had stumbled upon an insight that could heal the divisions in our country and set us on a track toward the trust and understanding we will need to face the challenges of our time. It might, I dared to think, even save humanity.

Before setting out on my quest, however, I decided to look up the term “Libertarian Socialism.” That is the transcendently ironic name I had decided to give to my movement. I was certain that the conceptual tension between those two words would be the crowbar needed to pry people loose from their staid convictions and open the way to my rescue of planet Earth.

As I so often find when I google one of my bright ideas, however, someone else had it before I did. There is already something called Libertarian Socialism. What’s worse, its advocates actually believe it’s a workable governing philosophy. That, in my view, completely misses the point of Libertarian Socialism.

These people believe, among other things, that there shouldn’t be any state at all. Society under their flag would probably have no flag at all. The people would have all the power, and civil order would be kept by…well, I’m not certain how. I’m not necessarily pro-flag, but I have found that at least 25% of my fellow citizens are irredeemable boneheads. They are the reason we need a state, dudes. We just have to make it as fair and open as we can…and socialist, obviously.

That’s just one man’s opinion, of course. These people are also entitled to their opinions, and I’m right there with them in their distaste for authoritarians and unbridled capitalists. I guess my main complaint is that they stole the name of my movement — even though they thought of it first.

The beauty of my Libertarian Socialism is that the two words are mutually exclusive. The conceptual impossibility of this philosophical connection is the very source of LS’s power to unite. Think of it as a dynamic paradox. Libertarian Socialism, if its name had not been usurped by these misguided utopians, could have allowed the coexistence of our natural desire to help others with our equally natural desire not to be told what to do. More and more, I am convinced that the clash of these two motivations is at the root of all political discord. LS is not so much a philosophy of governance as a touchstone for meditation.

I don’t know, maybe it’s hopeless. Maybe I should just stick with Democratic Socialism and hope the right-wing populists finally wise up. Trouble is, that would require them to move toward me. They can’t be expected to like that any more than I would like moving toward them. Under Libertarian Socialism, we’d already be under the same tent — brothers and sisters living lives of paradoxical dynamism together.

So I am not going to give up on my mission. The door is still open to all you Anarcho-Syndicalists (my preferred name for the original LS’ers). Join me, and together we can rescue planet Earth from the corporatists, the fascists, and all the other control freaks who have been busting our chops for so long.

Power to the people! Especially me!
Just Go
I don’t care if he’s actually crazy. I don’t care about his latest outrage. I don’t care that our country is under threat on all sides, including the inside, because of him.

I do care about all that, of course, and much more, but I refuse to spend any more time worrying about it. It’s exhausting. Who can keep up with the lies and the crimes and the runaway stupidity of this ugly charade? The obsessing and the rage always end up at the same place anyway, so why don’t we just cut to the chase?

We’ve got to get rid of this guy. Asap. I don’t want to hear the reasons he should go, or what he’s done, or what he might do. All that is already baked into that one, simple conclusion. There is no need to talk about the why anymore, only the how.

So let’s get to it. His death, of course, would be the quickest way out. I am not for assassination, however. If someone killed him, it would be worse for the country than he is. That leaves us with the option of death from natural causes. Considering his bloated, unhealthy look and his rapidly decaying mental state, that could actually happen — and soon. His increasingly erratic behavior in the face of the Mueller probe even suggests the possibility of an exploding aneurysm that would end the whole matter very quickly. We’re not looking for him to suffer, after all, just for an end to our own pain.

The idea of divine intervention is another interesting alternative. It isn’t too much of a stretch to imagine God finally getting fed up with all the bullshit and stepping in to end it. He wouldn’t necessarily have to go with a lightning bolt. A runaway bread truck would work just as well. Or a tiny, violent tornado in the oval office. He could even keep His fingerprints off the caper entirely by just having the President go extinct. That said, I would never actually pray for the death of another human being. I am open to a little light hoping, though.

There is also a chance that the President might save us all a lot of heartache and just commit suicide. He certainly doesn’t look happy in his new line of work, and he could be overcome by crushing despair. I wouldn’t invest too much hope in this option, however. He is too animated by revenge and greed and ego gratification to leave the field before he was done.

I’ve heard the suggestion that he might just quit the Presidency and declare victory claiming he was forced out by the media and Hillary and the FBI. That would certainly comport with his tendency to create alternative realities, but I just don’t see it happening unless he really starts to feel the heat. That heat might come in the form of legal jeopardy for Junior and Jared, but we’re not there yet.

By the way, if you’re counting on the Mueller investigation to save the republic, please consider the possibility that it might come up empty. Even if he can prove indictable offenses of the worst possible kind, Republican cravenness could carry the day and they would then refuse to impeach and convict. It would be appalling, shocking, and unacceptable…but what else is new?

Impeachment resulting in conviction would be the ideal outcome, of course. The idea of our system working well enough to rid itself of this blight would be a great ending to this sad chapter of history. The only problem with this feel-good solution, as I have said, is that it would require Republican votes in the House and the Senate. Right now, I don’t see that happening.

There could be a bright side to such dereliction, however. Even though it would prolong our suffering under the crook-in-chief, when his fall finally did come it would bring with it the collapse of the Republican Party itself. That would almost be worth the wait.

But I’m not greedy. He should just go…now.
Morality Test
Remember the Moral Majority? I do, and you know what? I miss those guys!

They were, of course, birthed under the fundamentalist guidance of Jerry Falwell back in the late 70s, and they were a force on the national political scene for over a decade, working for Republican candidates like Ronald Reagan and Poppy Bush. I don’t honestly miss Jerry himself so much as the morality thing.

Granted, the brand of morality they were pitching wasn‘t my usual cup of probity. Their agenda included such imperatives as school prayer, pro-life (before birth at least), and the squelching of homosexuality in all its manifestations. Farther down the list, however, buried underneath such towering Christian values as opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment and those despicable Strategic Arms Limitation talks, was a firm belief in the concept of “decency.” On that subject, at least, I confess some solidarity with the Moral Majority.

I suppose that the exact parameters of decency would have to be pretty broadly drawn for us to find common ground, but I feel confident that we could at least see eye to eye when it comes to child molesting. It is behavior that can ruin lives as surely as a devastating physical injury, perhaps even more so. It is ugly, it is detestable, it is immoral.

The Moral Majority, as an organization, no longer exists. I’d like to think, though, that its belief in simple human decency is still out there. Including in Alabama. Republican leaders in The Yellowhammer State are shamelessly backing Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate despite the allegations of nine women that he is a predator and a child molester. You might expect that from politicians, but I was surprised to see that a good number of local church leaders are also supporting him. Many “have no reason to disbelieve” his accusers, but they still encourage their flocks to vote for the man who preyed on little girls.

It is my hope that the normal people in Alabama still value decency above craven political advantage. Indeed, I am counting on a moral majority of them to come forward and reject the unrepentant moral ugliness of Roy Moore.

It may be a faint hope. Church and politics are deeply intertwined in Alabama. Jerry Falwell, Jr. his father’s successor as head of Liberty University, says that he believes Roy Moore’s account over the women’s. My guess is that Jerry Sr., if he could speak from beyond the grave, would probably agree. Their followers, though, are free to decide for themselves. Let them vote their own morality over party loyalty and spare us all the shame of a child abuser in the U.S. Senate.
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No "new normal" for me, this shit ain't normal.
~ MS, Truckee