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Monday, November 23, 2020

A CONFESSION OF COMPLETE INTOLERANCE

In this time of sharing, I thought I’d make three bald confessions. I’m doing so because I want to see if anyone else is feeling the same way.

I made this short list based on watching and reading the news last night. I won’t try to make sense of the contradictions within my assertions, because I think the contradictions actually say a lot – again, if anyone else is feeling the same way as I am.

So, this is an unusual blog post. No art here, just a reach-out.

Confession #1: I do not want to take the vaccine, primarily because the election polls were wrong.

I can’t be the only one with this idiot thought. And I’m deadly serious. As illogical as it sounds, it seems to me  that the people telling me the vaccine is good to go and 95% effective are the same people who told me that the Democrats were definitely going to gain seats in the House and take control of the Senate and that Joe Biden would win Wisconsin handily.

Obviously, I know that the same people responsible for the polls aren’t the same people responsible for the vaccine. But, just as obviously, none of that stuff did happen in the election. Worse, the people who made those election assertions – to say nothing of the news people and campaign people who have put us all at risk by following those polls – have yet to properly explain themselves. The best they’ve come up with is a weird kind of mea culpa that goes like this: “While it certainly appears that we got a number of things wrong, in the long run, and over time, you’ll see that really we weren’t that far off.”

Uh, no. You were far off. Very far off. As a result, we Democrats are in the fight of our lives for the Senate, Joe Biden had to squeak through in the key states (0.2% in Georgia), and the House is precarious and absolutely in peril for 2022. 

Tell the truth, at least. You got the numbers very very wrong. And you did so after a sizeable warning called... 2016.

So my brain has conflated these pollsters and pundits with the people telling us that the approaching vaccine is 95% effective. They may have different names and jobs and faces, but they sure seem the same to me. And their methodology seems similar too: 95% effective! “What about side effects?” 95% effective! “Says who?” The company making it! “Didn’t some of the owners of those companies actually unload their own stock before they unveiled their billion-dollar baby?”  No no, just think 95% effective! “Really? On whom? Black men aged 80? 6-year old with cystic fibrosis? Women who have had breast cancer?” 95% effective!

There could be another answer. Perhaps the vaccine is 95% effective only in those states that Joe Biden won by 17%, like, say Wisconsin? In other words, 95% effective in Magical Bullshit Land?

Confession # 2: I’m intolerant of my own tolerance, particularly to GOP voters.

Recently, on the New York Times podcast The Argument, conservative blogger Ross Douthat stated that one of his big concerns coming out of the 2020 election is social division, specifically that Democratic-leaning citizens view Republican-leaning citizens as subhuman Neanderthal throwbacks, and disregard the validity of their viewpoints.

This is a sentiment repeated by a lot of folks in the media, both on the left and the right. It has, in fact, become a trope of the left that we have to reach out and understand the Trump voter better. Such tolerance is key to our survival as a nation. I am confessing my true and adamant view of this now.

Bullshit. Bull-shit. Yes, there is an existential crisis for the very soul and basis of the nation, but can any sane person say that the answer is to find common cause with people wearing MAGA hats who shout, “Lock her up,” and, “White Power!”?

If you care about the basic rule of law, constitutionality, or even basic equality – if, in short, you stand against racism, putting kids in cages, and circumventing the standards of decent and effective working government, including healthcare and education – then you must shout out loud and make it clear that you will never collaborate with Dad shouting “white power” from his golf cart or the elected representatives who collude with or make allowances for said Dad in any way ever. 

We have to stand up for something.

So I’m sorry, Ross. This is a war for the basic liberality that constitutes a republic, and these people, by choice, have absented themselves from any discussion of same by tying their interpretation of the republic to a con man charlatan, religious fundamentalism, and what is served up to them by Klan-TV (Fox). We are talking about an electorate that refuses to educate themselves, and an uneducated electorate is lethal to a republican democracy. Worse, they are proud of their stupidity. 

So my intolerance grows for tolerance. In fact, I now see it as a very short walk from “we have to understand these people” to Trump’s odious “good people on both sides.” 

Where do you make a stand, Ross? It’s clear you’re a very decent, educated, and thoughtful guy, but where is your line in the sand in terms of antisocial and anti-democratic behavior?

I’d suggest that we don’t spend our time trying to “understand” them, but to educate them, or to educate their children. Maybe it’s not possible in this, the most uneducated of first world nations, but it might be our only shot.

Let’s be clear. We are talking about modern national Republicans here – not Gerald Ford or George Herbert Walker Bush or even Ronald Reagan – who should actually shoulder the blame for letting the evangelicals into the tent in the first place.  I am talking about the national Republicans now; the ones who won’t even speak against Trump as he jacks around claiming he won the election and trying to muscle lower-level canvassing board officials into throwing the contest his way, like some 1899 ward boss. 

The national GOP officeholders are as silent on all this as they have been on children torn from their parents and put in cages (a terrifyingly weird deterrent to refugee claims), just as they’ve been silent on their own inability or lack of interest in passing any sort of rescue package for the tens and tens of millions of Americans financially devastated by COVID, a pandemic almost all of them have mocked and ridiculed even as the death numbers exceed World War II battle deaths.  They even go so far as to defend Trump whimpering inside the White House the last two weeks, chewing the blanket while pissing away every day’s opportunity to do something about the pandemic.

I don’t want to be at war with anyone, and I certainly don’t want to be at war with my neighbors, but I sure believe that the incoming administration and the Democratic party in general must take the stance that they are at war with these people, and eschew the coddling olive branch fantasy that led Obama for so many years. 

Otherwise, what are we looking at for 2024? When your opponent is lacking in all virtue, they have the freedom to dream up any atrocity to reacquire power. If Trump doesn’t run again, the GOP may find themselves a camera-friendly dictator who, unlike Trump, can actually administrate and do something. A Huey P. Long, for instance. And that character, I guarantee you, would have beaten Biden in a landslide. 

My view is clear and unequivocal: the most effective and patriotic stand is rejection of modern GOP values, not capitulation or prevarication. Let’s try and eradicate the problem, not pet it. And call it what it is: the modern-day national GOP is a party of liars, racists, crooks, and bullshit artists. It is the party of Dumb. It is the party of White Nationalism. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, also has its share of liars and crooks and bullshit artists, but it not the party of White Nationalism. 

There’s the line. Right there.  A threat to all tradition and decency within the American superstructure. We have to call them for what they are and we have to beat them.

Once they’re gone, we can begin anew with a second party to stand against the Democrats: a new Federalist Party, or Whigs, or hell, Conservatives. I might even kick in a few bucks. But no ground can be given to these maniacs.

Confession #3: I’m frustrated and wearied by Obama’s genial optimism.

Okay, this may be petty, but I don’t care. I saw him on the news last night, so it fits this post. And in truth, it’s part of the bigger picture I’m trying to paint here.

I suspect the world is a pretty good place for Barack and Michelle Obama. It sure seems it. And good on them. But they are now so divorced from reality and, I suspect, exist in such a feedback bubble, that the former President’s natural tendency to prevaricate – which is how he got to the top throughout his life – strikes me as nothing more than dangerous fence-sitting.  And I’m wearied by it.

We have just been through and still are in the age of the worst President in American history. A man who perpetually lies, breaks the law, has used the office for his own enrichment, and spends most of his time encouraging the crazies and lowest members of our society to rise up and take arms – literally – against fellow citizens. He has encouraged law enforcement to brutalize those they serve. During this time Obama has been... well, pretty much silent. Tempered? Reasoned? Pick a word.

The rationale seemed to have been, at first, that he wanted to give Trump a chance to grow into the job. (I’d like to point out that the day after Trump was sworn in, millions upon millions of Americans engaged in the Women’s March – me included – and I didn’t get a sense that anyone in those crowds was confused about Trump being able to grow into the job, so why was Obama so late to read the tea leaves?) Then Obama’s argument seemed to be that past Presidents don’t diss the new President. Then it was... Well, I don’t know what it was, because we didn’t hear from the man. 

What it wasn’t was Obama using his huge political capital to help boot that maniac out of. He didn’t lead the call and he didn’t, even, write nasty articles in the New Yorker. He was not, as TR said, in the arena. Someone like Robert Reich fought every single day of the Trump administration, while Obama went snorkeling. And when he wasn’t snorkeling, he sat back, took on a professorial mien, and only lately has he been out there opining on Trump because A) we finally had an election at hand and his own guy was in it, and B) he has a book to sell.

Let’s be clear. No one was a bigger supporter of Obama than me. But I feel stupid now. And duped.

In short, kind of how I feel about all those polls I paid attention to. And how I'm worried I'm going to be duped about this vaccine.

There are now 150,000 to 200,000 new coronavirus cases a day.  This is the fault of the national Republicans for supporting “Dumb.” It is also the fault of the Democrats for being so weak and feckless. In the end, the only solution the Democrats had to Trump – the worst President in American history – was a national election, which is really saying, “The people have to fix this, we can’t.” And they almost, and pretty much did, blew that.

So, in summary, my problems clearly stem from the fact that the folks in charge, the experts - experts? ARE they experts? – have made a mess of things from top to bottom for decades now, and now they want us – need us - to trust them with this vaccine thing. I want to believe, I truly do, but this is Lucy and the football and maybe those idiot aliens on Star Trek Next Generation. And for some reason, I can’t help wonder if they aren’t laughing at all of us.

If you think that’s just paranoia, see Kamala Harris fist bumping Lindsey Graham on the floor of the US Senate last week.

What do you think that’s about? What do you think it portends for 2022 and 2024? Or the next four years? New leadership and guidance, or more of the same?

Joe, you better get us out of this.



 

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