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Category: Politics

Here's Hoping
Hope is among the noblest of human capacities. It is also a source of great strength. I think you’ll agree, though, that its power should be reserved for only the most aspirational goals. Hope should be used to lift us toward the light rather than drag us further into the darkness.

Take, for instance, hoping that Donald Trump dies. Immediately, if possible. That does not seem to be an appropriate use of our precious capacity to hope. I suppose we might want him to keel over or prefer that he stop breathing, but hope should not accompany us on such journeys into the macabre.

There are some realms, however, in which we might find both a place to dream of better days and utter doom for Donald and the Republicans.

Let me explain. We don’t have to wish ill on anyone in order to hope for a Blue Wave. We might even imagine a Blue Tsunami that would sweep Democrats into power and usher in a new Age of Enlightenment. That is certainly something we can allow ourselves to hope for. A natural side effect of such a seismic shift, however, would also be the annihilation of the forces of evil who inhabit the GOP.

We don’t have to wish for Rand Paul to be swarmed by murder hornets or yearn for Ron Johnson to sit on a pungee stake or hanker for Mitch McConnell to be made into cat food. And yet, all those things could actually happen if we simply hope for the best. It’s the noble thing to do.

So please, hope for a better world. Aspire to something bigger than yourself. Pray for the greater good. Donald Trump might not die as a result, but with any luck he’ll spend the rest of his life in prison.

Let’s all hope, anyway.
My Angel
I’m starting to get a little worried about my friend. I’ve known her for a long time, but I don’t remember ever seeing her act like this before.

We watched The Equalizer together the other night. If you haven’t seen the movie, I will tell you that it stars Denzel Washington as an ex-CIA operative. Or something like that, anyway. It’s never exactly clear where he acquired all his skills at investigating people and then beating the tar out of them and eventually killing them. The killing is a big part of the movie, and although Denzel’s character seems to be a good-hearted and deeply philosophical guy, he is coldly methodical when engaged in one of his homicidal rampages.

It’s a pretty good revenge flick, as these things go. Denzel adds a dimension of internal suffering and dangerous cool that tends to leaven all the dreadful gore he produces. We’re not talking about the butt-stupid modes of retribution we might see in, say, Walker, Texas Ranger. But it’s plenty violent, and it tends to revel in the wackiness of the instrumentalities of its executions. Toward the end, for instance (spoiler alert), our hero dispatches the main bad guy with an industrial-sized staple gun. I will only say that this is a particularly ugly way to go. On the other hand, this dude really had it coming.

The thing is, my friend doesn’t usually like this brand of cinema. Normally, she is drawn to British costume dramas, and if she does watch the occasional mystery, she will switch it off if it turns excessively violent. That seems to have changed recently. After The Equalizer, we went right to The Equalizer 2.

As the bloody orgy of revenge continued in the sequel, I couldn’t help but notice that my friend seemed to find some kind of kinship with Denzel’s avenging angel. When I asked her about it, she said that she did, that it was satisfying to see evil pay dearly for its sins. “I hope,” she added, “that the same thing happens to the Republicans.”

I should note here that my friend (and bunkmate for the last thirty years) has been working very hard with Swing Left to change the balance of power in Washington, D.C. As we have gotten closer to November 3, her level of activism, along with everyone else’s on the left, has risen sharply. Also rising has been her contempt for Trump and his corrupt enablers on Capitol Hill. She really doesn’t like these guys, and she honestly feels that no fate is too awful for them. Hurled into vats of acid? Drawn and quartered? Disemboweled? No problemo.

This is not like her. She is the half of our partnership who can ordinarily be counted upon to counsel forgiveness, gentleness, and humanity. That person, at least for now, is gone. In her place I have my own avenging angel. She is right there with The Equalizer, dispensing (imaginary) justice without the slightest qualm — a remorseless, unstoppable killing machine.

I do miss the gentle, loving woman I used to live with, but I can wait for her to return. November 4 will be soon enough.
Apology Expected
There has been some big apology news recently, and I find myself inspired by it. If you missed the story, Congressman Ted Yoho called Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “fucking bitch” right there on steps of the Capitol. Yes, you read that correctly: fucking bitch.

Those are not fightin’ words, because fightin’ words are usually a man-on-man phenomenon. In this case, it was more like a decency/righteousness throwdown, and that is not a good battlefield for yohos like Yoho to fight on. Lexi ate his lunch and then sent him home with a stern note to his mother.

I have chosen that decency/righteousness field as the site of the apology I am expecting. In that spirit, I will not be demanding that the apologizers admit that they were stupid. I’m not looking for the humiliation of the wrongdoers, and I will not be requiring an admission of moral turpitude. They don’t have to confess that they are corrupt or sociopathic or bad persons in any way. That conversation is best conducted between them and their Maker, if they have one.

So (if you are one of the millions I am talking to), please note that a simple, sincere apology will do. “I’m sorry I raised such a big stink about wearing a mask” would be a good start. That alone would not be sufficient, however. I would like you to acknowledge in some way the human suffering and death that may have been caused by the your intransigence. I admit that it’s hard to draw a line from one person’s unwillingness to wear a mask to someone else’s death from the virus, but I think it’s better to err on the side of politeness here and just cop to manslaughter. There, doesn’t that feel better?

Again, there is no need to debase yourself. Something like “I wasn’t thinking straight” would be acceptable, as long as it is accompanied by a deeply sorrowful facial expression. It might help to add an admission that you should have listened to people who actually knew a thing or two about epidemiology because, you know, they have been studying it all their lives. Instead of believing, that is, the wild conjectures of complete strangers who either know jack shit or are on Putin’s payroll.

You will not have to cast aspersions at others, including Donald Trump. You won’t have to disavow membership in the Republican Party or swear off Fox News. What I want is nothing more than an acceptance of personal responsibility; if others wish to step up and do the same, that is their choice — but I want to be clear that I expect it from everyone who participated in this mass hysteria of selfish negligence about something so simple as wearing a mask.

Furthermore, I do not want to hear anything about you learning your lesson and never being such a fool ever again. I would not believe such a claim, and I might even consider it as evidence that your apology was not truly heartfelt. Your future compliance with the rules of simple decency will be enforced solely by the honor system. For the record, that means conducting yourself with honesty, fairness, and integrity.

Yeah, I know that’s hard to do. Yoho couldn’t do it, and he covered himself with shame. I am expecting you to do better.
Fair Is Fair
Ordinarily, it would be hard to miss a budget item of 7.3 billion dollars. In the time of the pandemic, though, we’re looking at trillions of dollars in government relief, so you might be forgiven for not noticing how much of your money was recently granted to organized religion.

The Paycheck Protection Program accounts for 2/3 of a trillion in forgivable loans we are making to private employers, and a big chunk of that is going to churches and church-connected enterprises. Hearing this news was enough to make me go check my copy of the U.S. Constitution, just to make sure Congress was still prohibited from making any law respecting the establishment of religion. And sure enough, there it was, right there in the First Amendment.

Oh well, change is in the air right now, so maybe that whole church/state separation thing is now passé. I get that. Things change, including the Constitution, and we’ve just got to accept that and move on.

And if the Catholic Church needs a little extra scratch to make it through the pandemic — especially in those dioceses where they’re paying off big judgments in child abuse cases — then who are we to turn them down? Same with the megachurches like the City of Destiny in Florida or Robert Jeffress’ first Baptist Church of Dallas. We’ve got your back, folks, even if you preach (as Jeffress does) that gay sex will make you explode and abortion caused 9/11.

One thing, though. As long as we’re breaking down these silly barriers between government and religion, why don’t we make it a two-way street? If we shovel our money into their coffers, why shouldn’t we expect a little something in return? You know, by taxing churches? Not income taxes or anything like a wealth tax (your 17 million stash is safe, Mr. Jeffress), but just a little ol’ property tax. On that megachurch or metropolitan cathedral or the colossal Scientology “Information Center” in Hollywood?

I mean, fair is fair, right?
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon