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Put Yourself in the Dog's Shoes
I have known some bad dogs. We all have. For the most part, though, if dogs are treated well by us, then they’re going to be good dogs.

Very good dogs. Our best friends, it is said. Okay, but are they fully committed to the relationship? They wag their tails and seem to be filled with adoration, but is it possible they might be feeling just a touch of say, resentment?

Let’s put ourselves, just for a moment, in the dog’s shoes. We get free food, which we must admit is a pretty good deal. Sort of, anyway. We don’t get as much food as we’d like sometimes. There are no seconds, either, or midnight snacks, or special treats…unless granted by the humans, in their great wisdom and generosity. Even then, it will be only one treat.

Furthermore, we almost never get the really good stuff — the food that humans themselves eat. Certainly no meat, unless you count scraps (waste the humans couldn’t bear to eat). Instead, we get kibble. It’s not that kibble tastes bad. But it’s all we ever get, sometimes for weeks at a time. I mean, Cheetos are good too, but do you want just them and nothing else?

And let’s be frank about freedom, shall we? As a dog, we’re in captivity most of the time. Penned, tied up, boarded, or just locked in the Big House. We could be forgiven for thinking that we are nothing but slaves — if we didn’t so completely buy into this arrangement. It’s kinda pathetic, to be honest.

But maybe that’s just our lot in this dog’s life. We don’t feel resentment because we enter the relationship willingly. We are given food, a warm, dry place to sleep, and lots of pats on the head…in exchange for our freedom.

There is, however, one more little item to consider. Picture us (as dogs, that is) approaching our fifteenth birthdays. Ours has been a full, happy life in many ways, and now we are getting near the end. But wait a minute! The humans — our so-called best friends — still have years, even decades left to live! Long after we have died (or been “put down”), they will sail on without us. Probably pick up a new dog along the way. Or several!

Now do we feel it? We are a lesser species, it seems. Smaller brain, shorter life, and without the ability to speak for ourselves. Plus, no hands! It stinks!

But so what? Even if we do harbor some bad feelings, there’s not much we can do about it. Chew up the furniture? Kill the cat? Become man’s worst enemy? I don’t think so. That would only make you a bad dog, wouldn’t it?
ACSI Explained
I used to be a grown-up. Autonomous, self-sufficient, free. But no more. The world seems intent on turning me, little by little, back into a baby.

Creeping systemic infantilization, I call it, even though people look at me funny when I do.

Take our late model sedan, for example. Cars used to be tough, workmanlike, uncaring. They functioned most of the time, and went about their business without complaint. They were content to let you do the same. It was an arrangement that I was content with, in spite of the fact that I occasionally made some little mistake like not buckling my seatbelt.

Those days are gone. My new vehicle offers me gentle reminders for practically everything I might do wrong — seatbelt, lights, following too close, keys, engine on, and more. In some cases, it even acts for me. Like I was a baby. My responsibility for everything is being siphoned away…for my own good. Like a baby. And I am learning to depend on this “help”…like a defenseless little baby.

Infantilization! And so it is with the rest of society. Gradually, we have been seeing reminders crop up everywhere. Verizon does it, letting me know that my bill will soon be overdue. So thoughtful of them. But wouldn’t it be better if I missed a payment and learned whatever valuable lesson comes with that mistake?

Yes, it’s convenient. Yes, it’s helpful. Yes, it’s a timesaver, a lifesaver, and load off my mind. But pretty soon, I expect that I won’t be able to clothe or feed myself, much less drive a car. I can feel my adulthood — my freedom! — slowly fading away.

Now, I know that we all need reminders once in a while. My life mate issues them on a regular basis, and each time she does I am filled with gratitude. But when we are constantly being prompted, even directed, to do what we should be figuring out on our own, we lose a chance to learn and grow. You know — become a better, more fulfilled human being. Sadly, my life mate does not share my philosophy.

I suppose you might suggest here that my philosophy, in its most extreme form, would contend that anytime we help anyone we are really doing them a disservice. Believe me, it does not. Anti-Creeping Systemic Infantilization (ACSI) does not apply to acts of simple kindness. ACSI is more about the dangers of over-helping. Like giving a man who walks on crutches a third crutch.

Okay, it’s nothing at all like that. But ACSI is a hard worldview to explain. I want to help others (including my life mate) understand it, but that is something they should really learn on their own. They'll get a lot more out of it that way.
It's Not a Plot
I’ve been working on a screenplay for a while now. The plot is pretty wild, but it’s been a bit of a challenge to actually write the thing.

It’s all about this monstrous global conspiracy, see, and these elites and mysterious, dark forces that are bent on wreaking havoc on us and our way of life. My hero is a someone a lot like you and me. He’s got a job, and a family, and things are pretty scary for him right now. His dialogue has been easy to write. He’s just a regular guy trying to keep the fear at bay. He’ll believe anything as long as it kills the fear. He’d be a cinch for any actor to play, I think.

The role of the the bad guys, on the other hand, might be a little harder to get into. Here’s this super-powerful, immensely rich corporate head (or something like that). He absolutely hates me and you. And he especially hates my hero and wants to destroy America and everything we holds dear. But why?

I can imagine Josh Brolin, for instance, asking me, “Tim, what’s my motivation here?” I’m not sure I’d have a ready answer, but he persists: “Why do I even care about a bunch of non-entities, much less hate them and want to destroy their lives?”

It’s a good question. In fact, that’s the conceptual puzzle that’s got me hung up with the writing. Isn’t the whole point that the elites don’t care about us? Wouldn’t it be better for them to just let us go on as we are…earning low pay, stimulating the economy with our mindless consumption, not getting in their way? It would be stupid to destroy our pathetic little world, right? We pose no threat at all to such people.

Furthermore (Josh might ask) why would they want to replace us with a bunch of poor immigrants? Immigrants wouldn’t have nearly as much money to be siphoned away by the all-powerful. I know that my answers to these questions wouldn’t have to make sense for my conspiracy to work in real life, but what about on the big screen? Not only would a plot like that never fly in Hollywood, it would cause me to lose face in front of Josh Brolin (and Walton Goggins, who is also being considered for the role).

After all, I have my reputation as a storyteller to think of here. And my pride. So the story has to make some kind of sense. Tucker Carlson (the lucky stiff) doesn’t have these kinds of problems.
You Decide
Kirsten Gillibrand, the junior Senator from New York, has an excellent point. Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, and Clarence Thomas are all liars. Each of them told the same lie — under oath — during their confirmation hearings to become justices (if you will permit me to paraphrase): “I will not overturn Roe vs. Wade.”

Ah, but they will. The recently leaked opinion penned by Alito proves it. So there you have it…there is a majority of liars on our Supreme Court. (John Roberts, now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, made a similar assurance during his confirmation hearings, but it is not clear yet whether he has joined with the majority of liars.)

They all sought to mislead the U.S. Senate (and us). Furthermore, the very specific purpose of their lie was to become justices so they could do the very thing they said they wouldn’t: — take away the right to have an abortion from U.S. citizens.

Let’s be clear, then: at least five of the majority of our sitting Supreme Court justices committed perjury — a felony — in order to cast a vote in this case.

Not that anyone was actually mislead by those lies. Everyone knew that none of these people would have been nominated in the first place if they hadn’t agreed to vote to overturn Roe at their earliest opportunity. Senators Collins and Murkowski knew, in spite of what they have said to the contrary. (They, too, are liars…though not perjurers.) Their party, the Republican Party, has been running on that promise ever since the case was decided in 1973. Of course they would only nominate anti-abortionists.

I don’t want to go too deeply into all of the arguments here, either for or against abortion. The legal reasoning behind Alito’s draft opinion, however, is worth noting. It is couched in the rationale of Originalism (a relatively new approach to Constitutional interpretation), and though it makes a kind of sense within that highly suspect theory, it is clear that the fundamentals of jurisprudence are secondary here. Alito and his fellow perjurers are not interested in the law, only in the outcome they were placed on the court to ram through.

There has been an explosion of outrage at this elicitly leaked opinion across the political spectrum. On one side, people are enraged over the snatching away of the Constitutional right to make decisions about one’s own body. I can’t help but agree with them.

On the other side, they are fuming about the leak itself. I must say that I agree with them, too. Such leaks do undermine credibility and respect for the judicial system. My question, though, is whether respect for the court is damaged more by a leak than it is by a cadre of hypocrites and felonious liars seizing control over our lives?

You decide. It’s a free country, after all.
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Yes, voting matters. Polls do not.
~ H, Santa Cruz