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Category: Politics

No More Excuses
I want to be fair to my fellow citizens. I know that not everyone pays attention to the news. Most people turn off the political noise and just try to keep up with the ordinary demands of everyday life. Unless you’re obsessed with this stuff, you might skip over some of the details of what is happening in our country — or even miss the big picture entirely. I get that, so I have learned to accept that good people can make bad decisions in the voting booth and fall prey to misunderstandings about what is true and what is not.

Now that we approach the two-year mark of the Trump era, however, I am dropping that disclaimer. If you still think that Donald Trump is a good guy and a great president, then I am holding you responsible for all the bad stuff that’s happening. Not Fox News, not InfoWars, not the morally corrupt “leaders” populating the political right, not even Drump himself. You.

For starters, you are charged with the responsibility of knowing that the President lies all the time. His lies are now your lies.

You should have realized by now that he doesn’t know jack about public policy, either foreign or domestic. His ignorance is yours, too.

He clearly doesn’t care about anyone but himself. His manifest lack of compassion and simple decency are now ascribed to you as well.

Do you think his stoking of hate and fear make him at least partly to blame for the sharp rise in hate crimes during his tenure in power? Even if you answered “maybe” to that question, then the blood is on your hands.

And if all of that weren’t bad enough, there is also the cruelty. It’s key to the Trump brand. Cruelty toward enemies, toward The Other, toward the vulnerable. If you are a passenger on the Trump train, then you are a partner in his cruelty. And if you find yourself enjoying the ride, if you are getting off on dehumanizing your fellow human beings, then it is time to check yourself, citizen.

I’m not saying you’re a bad person. That’s for you to decide. But if you are dancing to the music, my friend, then you are part of the show. And that is 100% your fault. Ask whoever you want: Jesus, Buddha, Yoda, Mr. Rogers, Jiminy Cricket. These are the kinds of impulses you’re supposed to fight. If you fail, it’s not because the Devil made you do it, it’s because you let him. Again, it’s all on you.

I’d like to see you come back to your humanity. Let go of the lies, the ignorance, the hate, and cross back over. Like I said, I want to be fair. Bring your boneheaded political views if you must. We’ll be able to work things out somehow.

But please, leave the cruelty behind.
Fork It Over
I hope you don’t mind my asking, but are you rich? Well-to-do, maybe? How about upper middle class? If you answered yes to any of these, I have some good news for you and some bad news.

First the good news. It’s probably not news, really, just a reminder about something you may tend to forget sometimes: you’ve got plenty of money. Now, you might argue with the term “plenty,” but let’s face it — you’re not hurting. And if you own more than one residential property, you’ve certainly got plenty of room to spread out.

Which leads us to the bad news: you need to pay more taxes. Oh, I know…it’s already too much. They’re bleeding you dry as it is, even with that new tax cut, and you can barely make ends meet. Believe me, I get it. Still, I must insist. And if you’re in that “rich” category, you’ll have to pay a lot more.

Still reading? Good! And look, if you don’t believe me, ask Thomas Piketty, the French economist who’s gone deep on the subject of income inequality. Briefly put, Tom’s research shows that when people get too rich, society in general does poorly. His solution: more taxes on the rich and even more on the super-rich — for everybody’s sake.

It’s not just that our government needs the money, even though it’s not cheap to keep a First World country up and running. No, the main rationale for a high graduated income tax — like we had back in the good old 50s — is that it’s the best way to preserve and nurture the free society we are all lucky enough to live in.

If you need evidence, take a look at the current state of affairs. Taxes on the high end are much, much lower than they were in the 50s, and the gap between rich and poor has grown enormously. There are many potential problems associated with such a disparity, but the place where it seems to be showing up most is in housing. The rent, like the man said, is too damn high. Teachers, cops, firemen, and people with plain old regular jobs can no longer afford to live in the communities they work in. So much of their income is gobbled up by housing that they can’t save, and their kids have to go deep into hock to go to college. Not only is this not a sustainable system, but it builds in unhappiness and kills hope.

This ugly side effect of income inequality is among the first we see because the rich (and the well-to-do, and the upper middle class) put a lot of their free capital into real estate. And why not? It’s a time-proven method of making more money. Flip this house? Sounds fun, sounds savvy, sounds profitable. And it is for those who can afford to do it. If, however, you are a member of the middle class or lower — like most people — all you see from this phenomenon is a rise in the cost of living.

Those tax cuts the supply-siders sold to us are at the root of this problem. They launched income inequality into the stratosphere by allowing the wealthy to keep most of their money. Like most stupid humans, the wealthy went for short-term profits with their investments, not ventures that would benefit society over the long run. That’s human nature, I guess, and one reason why pure capitalism will cripple a free society if left unchecked.

That’s what taxes are for…not just money for the things we all need, but as a brake on the ravages of runaway acquisitiveness. And the more people acquire, the more we have to take from them. High taxes will make for a happy, hopeful society.

So, rich folks…for the good of all (including you), pay up. Thank you.
Real Lies
Let’s just imagine that Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court is confirmed. That is not a sure thing by any means, but what would that leave us with?

Well, for starters, we’d have a reality TV star at the very center of our justice system. And by “reality,” of course, I mean “fake.” The only genuine part of his testimony before the Judiciary Committee was his blubbering account of the anguish he and his family have undergone. As we know, however, tears are not necessarily a marker for unjust accusation. The guilty cry, too…most often when they realize that their own acts have brought them to ruin.

The rest of Kavanaugh’s emotional testimony was not so credible. His combativeness and outrage seemed calculated to me. You can witness that same kind of heartfelt emotion any time you tune into The Real Housewives of Atlanta. Some might say that misrepresenting your true feelings in this way is the worst kind of lying, but even if you don’t agree, Brett supplied plenty of plain old factual untruth— as well as a tightly woven pattern of evasiveness.

So let’s just say he lied, repeatedly. And while he was at it, he threw in some partisan conspiracy theories to muddy the waters. That undermined his credibility even further. That’s my opinion, anyway. Compare his twitchy, angry performance with Dr. Ford’s testimony. She was obviously truthful, both in her openness and in her story’s ring of truth. She withheld nothing, while he acted like someone who’d say anything to get that seat on the Supreme Court. Clarence Thomas did the same thing. Maybe he and Brett will end up sharing a locker at the High Court Gym.

Besides reality TV coming to the justice system, and the lying, and sexual assault, we’d have a judge who was willing to make a fool of himself on the world stage. He is now a truly pathetic figure. Does anyone really want to watch this show for the next 30 years?

There will no doubt be other real world plot twists in this bad TV show. Trust in the justice system will erode further. The same goes for faith in our legislative branch of government, even with Senator Flake’s public agonizing. The multiple political and cultural divisions among us will grow wider and deeper. Our democracy will be weakened.

While all this has been happening, however, there is something else going on. Have you noticed that there are a lot more angry women around than there used to be? I’m going to say, as as matter of fact, that there is more anger among women now than there has ever been. It’s everywhere: on TV, all over social media, and right there at the kitchen table.

What’s more, I don’t think it’s going away. No matter what the outcome of the Kavanaugh nomination, this anger will continue growing and solidifying and evolving. To call it the “MeToo” phenomenon doesn’t do it justice. It has the look of something very big in the making — a fundamental change in the chemistry of our society.

The hearing was a perfect window into how roles are assigned between the sexes. It was a caricature of the contrast in two styles — rage vs. accommodation — but I think the outlines of that caricature are in the throes of change. It will be a change for the better, is my guess, and it will be much more important than one seat — or two seats, or three — on the Supreme Court. No lie.
He Said, She Said, They Said
He said
She said
They said
Oh no!

If he’s
A creep
We must
Not know

We’re in
A rush
So please
Just go

(Besides
We guess
You are
A ho)

He said
She said
They said
Oh no!
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon