Make America What Again?

What with the shit-show we’ve got going on right now as a nation — concentration camps on the border, a wag-the-dog escalation to a war of choice with Iran, a serious bump in hate crimes and people identifying as Nazis and white supremacists, a climate crisis that will destroy life as we know it starting to kick in for real, a nationwide election coming up that will undoubtedly be fucked with by hostile foreign actors while the beneficiaries insist nothing’s wrong, and a legislature unable, thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to do anything but confirm hardcore conservative federal judges to lifetime sinecures, just to skim the surface — it’s easy to understand the widespread longing to go back to the way things were under the Obama Administration. To get things back to normal so we can all go back to living our lives without having to worry that the demented narcissist with the nuclear football will bring about Armageddon in a fit of pique or even just to avoid jail time.

I get it. I really do. I also would like not to live my life in a fog of existential dread, in which every action is pointless because, Rapture or not, the end is probably nigh for the American experiment and possibly human civilization and what can possibly matter anymore?

But even were it possible to return to whatever passed for normal before — and it isn’t — such a return is not even desirable, both on its own merits and especially in light of the challenges we face as Americans and human beings who live on the rapidly-warming, ecologically-imbalanced, and soon-to-be-downwardly-spiraling Earth.

I’ll explain.

Continue reading “Make America What Again?”

There’s No Normal to Go Back To: A Quick Note on Evaluating the Democratic Presidential Candidates

So, I have my preferences, loosely held at the moment, because it’s too early to get all worked up and the infighting/circular firing squad thing we went through last time (and how many other times before that?) just isn’t gonna work for us this time, so I’m saving my shots for the other side, who far more richly deserve them. That said, I do have a thing I want to say about how I’m going to be making my choices, donations, and decisions about whom to support in the 2020 election cycle. And though I shan’t tell you, a presumably grown-ass adult human capable of making your own choices, what to think or how to come to your own conclusions, I do hope you’ll give this a read and a good long think, afterwards.

We are at war, and have been for a long time. Decades, at very least.

No, I’m not talking about Afghanistan, or any of the other various and sundry American military deployments abroad, however hot or cold their current theater of operations is. Not that that’s not worth talking about, especially Afghanistan where we’re almost two decades in and I still don’t know what we’re trying to accomplish. No, the war I’m talking about is the war here at home, between left and right, and it’s a war only one side has been fighting for most of the time it’s been going on.

That has to change. Like, yesterday.

Look, I get that you may not think of it that way, and you probably don’t want to think of it that way. It’s comforting to think of the Trump era as an aberration, a Black Swan event that, while it’s doing some damage to our republic, our cultural and institutional immune system is even now spinning up antibodies (Congressional investigations, various state AGs, the Mueller report, etc) to combat it. Once the fever breaks, we can go back to normal, with good-faith bipartisanship and West Wing-style governance by whoever makes the best argument.

We can’t. Continue reading “There’s No Normal to Go Back To: A Quick Note on Evaluating the Democratic Presidential Candidates”

9/11/18

I was gonna write a whole thing about 9/11, but my memories are no specialer than anyone else’s – and less special by far than many. Besides, look around. We haven’t learned a goddam thing. Bin Laden succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.

So, instead, here is a sentence that is also a haiku:

Kids born after the
towers fell can now fight the
war we’re not losing.

An Open Letter to Elected Democrats

Well, we’re two weeks in, and it’s as clear as it ought to have been all along that what we’re dealing with the Trump Administration and the Republican-dominated Congress is as far past normal as Alpha Centauri is past the corner convenience store. A blitzkrieg of bad policy and worse nominees is overrunning the nation’s institutional defenses, as between them the Administration and Congress try and push through every bad idea the right’s ever had. I’m sure you don’t need me to read you the laundry list.

 

So here’s what I and my fellow liberals, progressives, and sane Americans with functioning empathy, conscience, and reason want you to know:

You. Must. Resist.

At every turn, in every way you can. Throw up roadblocks. Boycott hearings. Present amendment after amendment until the docket is filled til 2018. Whatever you can do to fight them or gum up the works, we expect you to do it.

It’s time to stop bringing a strongly-worded letter to a knife fight. The America we love and put our faith in is on the line. History is watching.

And you know what? We’re watching, too. And we’re going to remember.

Here’s something that I think is worth thinking about, if the case on the merits isn’t enough motivation for you. In October 2002, then-Senator Hillary Clinton voted for the Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq. At the time, it looked like the politically-smart play, even though the Bush Administration’s case for war in Iraq had more holes in it than a paper bin Laden target at a West Texas shooting range. But the Bush Administration had a strong hand, politically, and made a disciplined push. In the wake of 9/11 there were few Democrats with the foresight and backbone to vote no.

That vote’s been an albatross around Hillary Clinton’s neck ever since. It cost her the nomination in 2008, and the Presidency in 2016. Because a lot of people never forgave her for that. Never forgot the calculation she made, for short-term political gain, and the tragedy, horror, and damage to our national soul that resulted from the war, and the bipartisan cover she and her fellow Congressional Democrats provided its justification.

Left unchecked, the present Administration and Congress are going to unwind a century’s progress. A lot of people are going to suffer and die unnecessarily. It’s up in the air whether we’ll have a trade or shooting war first. Up in the air whether we’ll still have a democracy.

The only option open to a person of conscience is vigorous, unflinching, disciplined opposition. At every turn. On every front. That’s what we want from you. That’s what history demands at this moment.

So show us what you’re made of. Give us a reason to believe in you, a reason to keep backing you. Do this thing, and we’ll do everything we can to get you re-elected and expand your caucus til we can do some good or at least unwind some of the bad.

If you don’t? Well, you’re already hearing from us, and seeing us everytime you go out in public. We’ll keep that up, month in and year out. And the next time you run for re-election? You can expect a primary challenge from the left.

And by then? We’re going to be really good at this organizing thing.

Why I Wouldn’t Kill Hitler with My Time Machine

So, it’s a pretty classic thought experiment: If you had a time machine, would you go back and kill Hitler before he had a chance to start WWII?

Thanks to my daily internet divagations, I found myself revisiting this classic hypothetical today, and, given my brain’s penchant for the road less traveled (and for giving concrete answers to rhetorical questions), I found myself answering the question with a pretty definitive ‘no,’ though for practical rather than the usual moral or ethical reasons. I offer my rationale below, not as any sort of definitive answer, but as food for thought for hungry thinkers.

It goes like this: Continue reading “Why I Wouldn’t Kill Hitler with My Time Machine”