Wait, Didn’t I Once Promise to Ignore Politics?

So I’m sitting here, having coffee while I wait for a friend…

“Hey, I’m early, let’s kill some time with the news!”

Of all the good ideas I’ve had, that one is right up there with “…of course I’ll take you to an occupied bear den!  The cubs are super-cute when they’re at home…”

Ahem.

link_CRUqKZKKFRGAlAFTlfPdN5TEw3cvwdL4,w1200h627Anyway…the news…

I think I prefer the angry momma grizzly, thank you very much.

A few random thoughts and notes based on what I read, then, in no particular order:

  1. “Editing” the Constitution — *sigh* look, I know the language in there can be a problem.  I know the concepts and compromises from 200+ years ago can bring pain and outrage now, but “editing” our past isn’t going to solve anything.  It would be much better to use the language and concepts and compromises as the basis for teaching.  For teaching how things have changed…and how they haven’t.  Both the Constitution and Declaration of Independence are more aspirational than concrete, anyway, so they make wonderful tools for teaching middle and high school kids about reality — both the reality of now, and the reality of two hundred+ years ago.
  2. Whites Need to Speak Up…or Shut Up (which one kinda depends on who you are reading) — One of the things I’m not going to do is try to divine peoples’ emotions and motivations, and to advocate who should or should not be able to speak.  Skin color does not change the validity or honesty of what a person has to say, and that is flat out the only way to look at it.  To argue otherwise is to simply flip the script of racism, which leads to nothing but the tit-for-tat bullshit we are starting to see every day.  That being said, I’ve chosen to keep my own mouth shut and listen.  I listen because I don’t know.  Oh, I know the history and sociology and intellectual side of race and the US…but I don’t know.  I’ve never been pulled over because of what I look like.  I’ve never been followed by store employees because of my skin or hair.  I’ve never felt the sting of violence and hate and fear because I was other.  I’ve kept my mouth shut because I don’t think I can add to the discussion at this point.  Instead, I would rather let the eloquence of others speak with the power and authority of experience and authenticity.  But that is my choice, valid for me alone.  It in no way means that “no white person should ever discuss race” as I’ve read some suggest.
  3. Apathy vs Delusion — this election promises to keep poli-sci programs, not to mention generations of “political strategists,” busy with examples and lessons for generations to come.  Leave aside the names involved, and all of the emotion and judgments contained therein, and just look at the dynamics of the race itself: you have one candidate, running on a broad range of supporters that numerically should be able to dominate the opponent.  That range, however, has very little enthusiasm or energy.  They support, but they don’t do so with any real intent or drive.  On the other side, you have a candidate with a small base of supporters who in no way represent the nation at large, but have all the energy and dedication in the world.  They will believe anything — do anything — their candidate says, and they will do so in the most aggressive and offensive ways.  So, politically, which wins?  4 years ago it was passion and rage, running against a shrugging nonchalance, but will that hold true today?  If I weren’t living in the midst of this, it would make for an interesting modern lesson on the historical examples and dynamics I have studied for so long.  If I weren’t living it.
  4. The Company You Keep — As a child I was taught that your character is defined by what you do, and by the company you keep.  Now, that outlook has been put to the test more than a few times in some of the, uhh, “shenanigans” that have made up my life, but it is something I long ago took to heart and have tried to live by.  Enter Donald Trump.  If he is defined by what he does, and by the company he keeps… *sigh*.  Sorry, folks, but I’m lost with this one.  Since I don’t want to get into a 5,000 word diatribe — one that George Will did much, much better here — I’m going to focus on just one thing: Trump’s choice to keep company with traitors.  He has chosen to laud and irretrievably pin himself to the “heroes” of the Confederacy in the Civil War.  That is the company he has chosen to keep: those who chose to pick up a weapon and fight for slavery.  Sorry Donny, but that there is ‘nuff said…you are thoroughly defined.
  5. Recrudescence — yep, COVID is coming back, and it’s coming back hard.  Nope, conspiracy theorists and denialists, this is NOT just “another flu.”  Nor is it “fake news” made up just so the left can go after Trump and the hard right fringe that is today’s GOP.  Coronavirus and COVID-19 are very much real, and still very much a threat.  If you are getting your news on COVID solely from Fox News, Powerline, OANN and Townhall…well, I can’t help you.  You may have chosen to put yourself in an echo chamber — as is most definitely your right and privilege — but please do the rest of us a favor and stop assuming those echoes mean a damned thing to anyone else.

Okay, so this bit isn’t really a part of the “list,” it is just…

It is just a thought, and a (sorta) plea: people change.

Yes, this post went a little “rant-y,” but I couldn’t stop myself.  I have friends and family who still expect me to be the good conservative Republican I once was.  Sorry, folks, but I ain’t that person anymore.  I’ve changed.  I’d like to think for the better, but there is no question that I very much have changed.  One of the biggest of those changes is that I have no more patience for the willful ignorance and demented worldview that characterize both extremes.

Quite simply, I want nothing to do with either.

Live and let live, that’s it.  That’s what matters to me.  That’s also how I judge any and all politicians and others who claim to “lead.”

Every day I become more libertarian.  Every day I become more convinced that this overwhelming drive both sides have to dominate and rule the lives of everyday folks is what is driving us to a second civil war.  I wish I could say we could stop this slide, but I’m pretty sure we passed the tipping point years ago…if not decades ago.

But, hey, when that war comes, well…

No one does memory, and monuments, better than the Central Europeans — a reminder of the costs:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

History For The Win

As much as I loathe the current state of US politics — and the civil war I think is currently slouching its way towards Bethlehem as a result of those politics — the political/history nerd in me gets just all sweaty and excited by the bullshit accompanying the UK’s weak, vacillating, and laughably inept “departure” from the EU…

Look, I’ll be the first to admit that it doesn’t take much to get me sweaty and excited…erm…umm…

Okay, moving on now: it also does not take much to get me to gleefully go back and re-visit various events and eras in history.  The fact that for the past three years the UK has managed to make a race for 7th-grade-class-president look competent, professional and — dare I say it? — enviably grown-up has just added to the sweaty excitement of that urge.

For a nation that prides itself on never really having been torn apart by a civil war, Britain has had a remarkable number of — ahem — civil wars.  As much as I want to turn to the War of the Roses for thoughts and examples, however — or even to the “Shipwreck” between Matilda and Stephen — there just is no way I can bypass Cromwell.  C’mon, the guy overthrew the freaking King, made Parliament supreme…then overthrew the very Parliament he had put in place!

There is a reason, by the way, why folks say there is no such thing as a “new” story.  It’s all been written before.  Well, hell, today’s corollary to that introduces the fact that there is no such thing as a fictional story, either.  No matter how bad the screw up, humanity has found a way to do EVERY stupid thing you can possibly imagine!

I’m sorry, Britain…but, God, do I love this shit…

Anyway, here is Cromwell’s lesson, his last speech to Parliament before shutting it down.  This is, I should add, appropriate for Britain and Brexit, yes, but also incredibly apt for the United States of today (it is also simply one of the most wonderfully vituperative pieces of spite you will ever read):

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice.

Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government.

Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.

Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?

Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?

Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.

Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.

I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place.

Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go!”

Still Angry

There was a thought buzzing around my mind this morning.  It was buzzing early, and it kept buzzing even when I left for my “I hate humans hike”.  Even after a few hours of off-trail hiking — and a handful of cuts and bruises to show for that — the buzzing was still there, and so was the anger.

My muscles are feeling every inch of the 12 miles of rough, nasty terrain…I’ve got my favorite post-hike snack* going…I’ve got music blaring in my ears…and I’m still pissed off.

*See this post for more info on that.

It’s time, I decided, to remember Rule #1:

You write it.  You always write it.

Ahem…here goes:

Just when I thought it was safe to read the news again…

Just when I thought I might be able to make it through just one morning without getting a reality-induced headache…

Just when I’m sure we’ve reached bottom, and that things couldn’t possibly get any stupider…

Politics — and humanity — proved me wrong…again.

Look, I don’t play on either team in DC.  I’m as independent and libertarian as it gets, so I have no real dog in any of the current fights, but even I have to ask, just what the hell are these people thinking?!

Donald Trump…

*sigh*

Does “the Donald” have to try so hard to be a completely insane, unacceptable, undignified, unpresidential waste of space?  I mean, is it something he wakes up and plans to do?  Or does it just come naturally to him?

The man gave a Memorial Day speech aboard the USS Wasp in Yokosuka, Japan.  Great…no problem there, that’s what Presidents are supposed to do.  It wasn’t even a bad speech, as such things go.  But then…

But then…

E8DEF876-EE57-4AF7-BA06-3EE5531F8E8CBut then, it turns out that Trump so hates and fears the ghost of a dead man that he had to insist a ship named after that man’s father and grandfather be hidden from view…

Are you fucking kidding me?!?!

Just how infantile and idiotic can you be?

B8204FC1-A392-494C-A190-55DEB601BE5EMr Trump pissed on two men who died long before he ever dreamed of running for office, two men who gave a lifetime’s worth of blood and honor for this nation.  “President” Trump also pissed on a man who just died — a man he attacked and denigrated for the “sin” of being tortured for five and half years.  More than that, however, “President” Trump pissed on an active-duty, commissioned warship of the United States Navy.  But by far the worst of all, he pissed on every single sailor who has served, is currently serving, and ever will serve aboard the USS John McCain.

9516B084-795C-4EDA-BECD-AAB74DA33D1EScrew you, “President” Trump.  I don’t know what’s wired wrong in your head, but you are most definitely broken, pathetic excuse for a human.

Ramblin’ On

I meant to do this post back on Monday, but I got distracted by planning & preparing for my (imminent) Yellowstone departure.  Oh well…shit, as they say, happens.

At any rate, I’ve accumulated enough things I wanted to talk about, that I think it’s time for another list post.  Just as a word of warning: this post got away from me.  I went into with no plan, but a few things I wanted to talk about, and…well…welcome to random and unorganized bloggin’!did-paul-revere-1

  1. The elections are coming! The elections are coming!  The silly season is upon us!
  2. Of course, the US being the US, elections are always coming. Gone are the days when normal folks got a break from the constant din and chaos of campaigning and politics.  Okay, so the House was intended to be that way, to be the “immediate expression” of the “popular will,” but the Senate and Presidency…those longer terms were supposed to make them not on-going popularity contests but rather stable positions able to focus on the longer term and the bigger picture.  Holy crap, did the Founders got that one wrong…
  3. Okay, so on the topic of elections, it’s probably good to remind folks that nothing and no one on the news right now matters one bit.  Yes, there are more and more stories about the various Dem challengers for the 2020 ticket, more stories and biographies and speculation, more stories reflecting the electioneering and posturing and positioning of the “candidates,” but none of them mean a thing.  Look, all those stories are just like another big stretch of silly-seasons that’s going on right now: the NFL Draft.  There really is nothing to talk about in terms of the NFL prospects — let alone the Dem “candidates” — as not a single one of them can do a damned thing before the season (or the election) starts, but the talking heads (of both species, sports and politics) need something to talk about, something to drive viewers and interest.  They need something, when you get right down to it, to make them sound smart and connected.  And so we get showered with speculation and statements about this “can’t-miss” prospect/candidate and that “sure-thing,” and all the while the Truth just gives up and decides to go out and get drunk.  So, when you’re looking at these stories and either hoping or dreading in regards to a certain candidate — depending on your political team — just remember this: when the election actually starts, you won’t remember a damned thing that happens right now.11260C46-9429-4BEF-907D-D8D0AFF3A5CC
  4. I know, I know, I’m talking about the silly-season I just told you to ignore.  But, well…I never claimed to be particularly consistent, did I?!  Ahem.  I do want to say one more thing about the current Dem field: I like the fact that there are some new names getting involved — and the Repubs should take note of what their opponents are doing.  Far too often in the past both teams put up the same names, the same faces, that we always see. They put up the same praetors and pontiffs to run for the consulship, with the same bios and the same CVs and the same views.  If the 2016 US election — and others in Europe and elsewhere — showed nothing else, they showed that the rest of us, the normal folks, are looking for something different.  We are getting heartily sick of the same elites pushing the same policies and politics.  Just one look at this world is enough to show that change is very much needed.  Which, by the way, explains the popularity of guys like Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump — whatever you may think of each of them, they most definitely represent something “different” from what is/was usually forced down our political throats…character-war-soldiers-character-military-demotivational-posters-1313084604
  5. Crap…last political point, I promise!  I also want to call out a couple of names in the Dem field for a very specific reason — not for their politics, nor for their positions in the race, but for their titles: Major Tulsi Gabbard and Lieutenant Pete Buttigieg.  Both served honorably and well.  Both deployed to the Middle East.  Whether you agree with them or not, they bring a view the primary needs — on both sides of the aisle.  After twenty years of conflict and war, only now is the House of Representatives once again seeing the entry of veterans in decent numbers…of folks who know what it’s like to serve, and to deploy.  It is vital that we have that experience represented in DC.  Without veterans, without their experiences and knowledge, in positions of influence and power, it can — and has — become far too easy to use the men and women of the military for posturing and politics.  Honorable mention, by the way, goes to Joe Biden — although he did not serve, his son did, and the experience of those back home, of the parents and spouses and loved ones, matters.

Err…well…that went on too long.  I’ll cut the list short there and save the other stuff I wanted to talk about for Friday’s post, I think.  Black holes and the environment and The Matrix