Ahh… I miss the good old days when we fought about abortion

Back in the day, Democrats and Republicans fought but we fought about abortion, domestic spending, war and whatnot. We had real differences of opinion. Sometimes had a different sense of what happened and why. Our issues were based on a shared reality. Gosh, I miss those days.

The rise of the irrational

Conspiracy theories are as American as apple pie, as I wrote the other day my piece, This is how genocide progresses. The same can be said about distrust of government. You don’t rebel against a government you like and trust.

But now that desire to believe in these theories is tearing our nation apart. It has been reported that as many as 30% of us believe the coronavirus is a hoax. That is terrifying because the more people who believe President Donald Trump is right, the more won’t wear masks, and may rely on unsafe and ineffective medical treatments. More people with the virus means its spread will continue to climb. We will never crawl out of this pandemic and economic recession.

This alone is not the reason I am feeling depleted, defeated and depressed this evening.

The rise of Qanon

I wrote about this in the aforementioned piece but I just can’t wrap my head around this idea. Or rather, I can’t get my head around this group of ideas.

From what I have read and been told, there is a group of reptilian aliens who worship satan. They have infiltrated the highest levels of the United States government and probably governments all over the world because they control everything on earth.

If being a cabal of reptilian, alien, pedophilic Satanists wasn’t bad enough, they also like to eat babies. They do something to keep them alive until cabal members can suck out their bone marrow for its life-extending qualities. Members include Bill & Hillary Clinton, Bill & Melinda Gates, Barack & Michelle Obama and pretty much anyone with power, anywhere on earth. I know people who have claimed to have fought these alien beings (seriously).

Now, who or what is “Q”? When this started Q was one person, high up in the United States government. Today it is a group of people. Followers of theory believe that they have been in contact with Trump and that any day now, he is going to unmask the whole plot, arrest the leaders, end their reign of tyranny and peace and utopia will cover the planet.

This is where things get scary

When Trump ran for office, he attracted a very loyal kind of person. The people who flocked to his side were angry, white, and upset that the America they grew up loving is disappearing. Minorities, the LGBTQ community and women have moved ahead where white, straight men have languished or been sent to the back of the line.

Americans, as was mentioned, love conspiracy theories and more and more Trump supporters are learning of Qanon and like what they are hearing. No longer is Trump just the defender of their beloved way of life, he may have been sent to save all of us.

Move over Jesus, there’s a new religion in town

The Atlantic has called Qanon “the next American religion.” According to their reporting:

1. It’s a real-time participatory conspiracy theory.

The eventual destruction of the global cabal is imminent, Q prophesies, but can be accomplished only with the support of patriots who search for meaning in Q’s clues. … Surely there are people who know that Q is a fantasy but participate because there’s an element of QAnon that converges with a live-action role-playing game.

2. It’s a mass rejection of reason and Enlightenment values.

In the face of inconvenient facts, it has the ambiguity and adaptability to sustain a movement of this kind over time. For QAnon, every contradiction can be explained away; no form of argument can prevail against it.

3. It’s not going anywhere. In QAnon, we are witnessing the birth of a new religion.

Among the people of QAnon, faith remains absolute. True believers describe a feeling of rebirth, an irreversible arousal to existential knowledge. They are certain that a Great Awakening is coming. They’ll wait as long as they must for deliverance.

Now, what will happen if their prophet loses in November? You have millions of people, many armed to the teeth, angry and dedicated to their cult leader. It it impossible to reason with them now, I worry what will happen in November.

Also, this is my idea of hell. I never used to be this way but I like some rules. I like grammar and punctuation — because they make communication better. I like our Constitution because it makes our government better. I like science because it makes our life better. I like facts because they make everything better. Now, none of those things matter.

This is my idea of hell.

We are headed towards genocide

I have written a few times about this topic. In 2016, I wrote “This is how genocide starts.” That was when I saw Donald Trump take a political following and turn it into a cult. His abrasive language, unapologitic racism/ sexism/ mysongeny/ racism/ etc. combined with anger around the nation and an undercurrent of conpiracy theories made me think that his election would lead to genocice.

That was then, this is now.

Now, four years later, I think we are barreling full-speed towards genocide. Today, I wrote “This is how genocide progresses.”

This is the most important thing I have ever written. It is on Medium.com, please check it out, read it, click the applaud button and share it. We need to do something now, before it is too late.

pandemic

No one puts a pandemic in a corner

Why have we let the pandemic pit states against each other?

A long time ago, long before the pandemic hit we were governed by the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. Basically, the federal government had very little power and the country was individual states doing their own thing. This was a train-wreck. The whole reason the Constitutional Convention in 1787 convened was to create a better way to manage the country. As it was, Congress feared the new nation was not going to be able to ward off efforts from the British to take back what had been theirs. The result was the Constitution.

Covid-19 has sent us back in time

Today, it feels like we are living in the U.S. circa 1777. By not taking a strong stand on the Covid-19 pandemic, the federal government abdicated its responsibility and left decisions to the states. Red states support President Donald Trump and took longer to issue stay at home orders, promote mask-wearing and social distancing and started opening up earlier. By contrast blue states did the opposite. During the early months, the lack of federal control of collecting and distributing needed medical equipment meant that it all became state vs. state. Governors across the nation complained about having to bid against each other — and sometimes against the federal government — to buy supplies they needed. Some resorted to buying and hiding what they had so the feds wouldn’t step in and take it all.

Now that we are five months in, this state v. state looks a little different. Early in the pandemic, Florida said New Yorkers entering Florida would have to self-quarantine for 14 days. The consequences for violating this are a fine of $500, up to 60 days in jail (the best place to get Covid-19). As the cases in Florida has skyrocketed and the cases in New York have plummeted, New York issued a new decree; no one from the states that have rising cases can come to the Empire State unless they will spend 14 days in quarantine. People who refuse will face a fine.

My state is better than your state

This is purely anecdotal but people I know in New York, where I live, do not seem all that concerned about what Floridians think of our state or how Governor Andrew Cuomo has handled Covid-19 but Floridians I know seem obsessed. Maybe they are bitter about #FloridaMan. We never should be in a place where we delight or rejoice at seeing other Americans die. I have family and friends in the Sunshine State and the last thing I want to see them suffer or die from this (or anything).

This data are backed up here.

Having lived through the worst (I hope) of the pandemic in New York, my first thought is, “Good for Florida, they dodged a bullet.” The problem is that the numbers do not always tell a complete story. In the last few weeks, Covid-19 has mounted a comeback and cases are surging all over the country. But consider the following:

  • The death rate so far has remained lower than in the spring. There are a few reasons for this. The death rate is a lagging indicator. People get sick, go to the hospital (or not) and die sometime later. Just because cases are rising does not mean they start dying at the same time. We don’t know what the real death count will be from this recent surge.
  • We have better treatments now than we had when this started. That is a good thing. As the novel coronavirus has been studied, doctors have been given more tools to fight it.
  • The death rate doesn’t tell the whole story about how bad a disease this is. One of the scariest things about Covid-19 is how long-lasting the impact can be. MRIs of the brains of people who spent time in the ICU show damage consistent with a traumatic brain injury. Many of these people require time in a rehab facility before going home.

It’s NEVER a bad thing when the mortality rate for a disease goes down. But to look at this data in a vacuum and extrapolate from it that Florida has done a better job than New York, for example, is shortsighted at best and harmful at worst.

We have let ourselves fall into this space. Rather than pit New York against Florida, a better way to handle this is to ask, “What can Florida learn from New York?” or “What can the world learn from the Floridian response?” We have taken the scientific/ medical and superimposed politics. How’s the working out? Not well.

I was raised to believe that we are all Americans. Floridians, New Yorkers, even people from New Jersey. Until we get back to that (and to the belief in empirical facts, we are doomed.

Paul Ryan

Dear John Boehner and Paul Ryan: Your country is calling

Will you answer?

I am not going to lie, I was never a big fan of either of you when you were in Congress. In fact, I wrote this about Mr. Ryan’s budget in 2013. The caveat to this is that while I didn’t agree with you, I didn’t ever think either of you was bat shit crazy. Neither of you was the “burn it all down and screw anyone who gets in your way” kind of person that is Newt Gingrich.

Both of you are in an interesting position. No one can really attack your conservative bona fides (though followers of Qanon will). Sane people respect you. If either of you come out against President Donald Trump, you will boost your reputations and give yourself a good platform to return to public life. You both will look like leaders who put the country before party. That’s powerful stuff right there.

Let’s recap some of Trump’s actions in 2019-2020:

Trump doesn’t care about protecting American soldiers

Trump did nothing when he learned Russian President Vladimir Putin has been paying the Taliban to kill American soldiers. Let that sink in for a minute. Rather than confront Putin, he tried to get Russia readmitted to the G-7. Trump has kissed Putin’s ring for the entire time he has been in the White House (and long before that). While Trump’s “excuse” has been that no one told him, reports say that he was briefed in early 2019. It is common knowledge by now that the Donald is not a big reader (he rares looks at the Presidential Daily Briefings he gets) but John Bolton told colleagues that the briefing was in person. One of the most serious jobs a president has is keeping Ameican troops safe. If there was a grade worse than F, he would get it here. That alone should be enough to denounce him but there’s more.

Trump’s response to Covid-19 killed Americans

Trump’s incompetence has killed tens of thousands of Americans. As of today, more than 130,000 Americans have been killed by Covid-19. No, Trump did not create the virus but he did fire the pandemic team that was part of the National Security Council. He also threw away the pandemic response plan that the Obama team left for him. If that wasn’t bad enough, he called the whole thing a “hoax” for two months. Today, you can see how that has impacted people as Trump supporters don’t wear masks and non-Trumpers do. This shouldn’t be a political thing. Now, other Republican leaders are telling people to wear masks. Some reports say that if we took this more seriously and actually did something sooner, between 80 to 90 percent of the people who died from Covid-19 would still be alive. Remember, he was warned about this in January 2020. Let that settle in.

Trump thinks racial tension = better chances to be reelected

Trump is stoking the flames of racial discord and division across the United States. Our nation is at a precarious point. Americans of all races have finally had enough of innocent black people being killed by police or vigilantes. As the nation comes to grips with its original sin of slavery, what does the president do? He goes on the offense.

First, he tried to use the U.S. military to break up peaceful protests in Washington, DC. When he was included in a photo op in front of the church on the other side of LaFayette park from the White House, General Mark. A Kelly, chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, apologize saying “I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”

Now, he has been giving speeches defending Confederate heroes. First, he was at Mount Rushmore and then the White House. No one has ever claimed Trump is a constitutional or history scholar but this is just more proof that the only Ameican he cares about is himself.

That is just a summary of a few of the things he has done in 2019 and 2020. This list is not exhaustive or complete. If not caring about our soldiers in a war zone or people at home who are vulnerable to a deadly disease or thinking promoting a race war and thinking it is ok to use the most powerful military in the world to quell protests is not enough to make you see how dangerous Trump is to us and the world, I don’t think anything will.

Mr. Boeher and Mr. Ryan, we need your input

Mr. Boehner, from what I had read, you are pretty happy away from the spotlight. I am happy for you, truly. That also means you are not in a position to have to worry about reelection. What do you care if Trump tweets something mean? That may be what passes for a merit badge in 2020. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. When the rest of the party catches up to you, which they will, you will look like a real leader.

And Mr. Ryan, you are too young to be out of the game for good. Your previous statements about Trump and how you felt after the Access Hollywood tape give you somewhat of a foundation. We need to find a way back to a place where the Republicans and Democrats can talk to each other again. This tribalism, into which we have devolved, helps no one. You know that. I know you do.

Help us, Mr. Boehner and Ryan. Your country needs you.

Here’s a song about another politician who had to make such a decision.

Why so angry, white people?

Last night, I went to a Black Lives Matter protest in Port Jefferson, New York. More than 300 people marched from the railroad station through the village and ended up in front of Village Hall. We stopped midway and all took a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds. It was a peaceful protest. People were respectful of each other and everyone had a mask on. No one seemed particularly angry.

When we reached the intersection of Main Street and West Broadway, there was a counter-protest. This was in front of a bank of shops where pro-Trump banners often hang and where a pro-Trump rally was held a few months ago. None of the counter-protesters were wearing masks. They were waiving pro-Trump flags and playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” Being me, I approached them to let them know they were not playing the patriotic anthem they thought they were.

This went over about as I expected. One woman yelled at me, “The song says BORN IN THE USA, IS THAT NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU?” Well, no but that’s beside the point. The people supporting President Trump and opposing the #BLM protest were angry. Very angry. As I walked away they shouted, “Wake up! This is not about black lives! This is about anarchy! You are going to end up needing the police soon!” Their anger was visceral, raw. They are mad and they aren’t going to take it anymore.

The right turns to gaslighting

They are not alone. After Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by police in a Wendy’s parking lot, the place was torched by two white women. A self-proclaimed member of the Boogaloo Bois Steven Carillo killed a security guard in Oakland, California during a #BLM protest. Chevy McGee had a stockpile of weapons confiscated by Denver police. He has said he part of the “Boogaloo movement.”

If you are not familiar with the Boogaloo Bois, they are a right-wing extremist group that wants to usher in another civil war. They are angry and they are armed. They are also not alone. The Proud Boys and American Guard are two other right-wing extremist groups who promote armed conflict and violence.

Meanwhile, in the ultimate case of gaslighting, right-wing groups perpetrate violence and looting and then blame it on the left. Both President Trump and Attorney General William Barr have blamed Antifa (anti-fascist) groups for violent acts even when the FBI has found no such link. Anecdotally, I know people who have expressed sympathy if not full-throated support for the Proud Boys. The people I know are beyond angry. They love Trump because he expresses the same anger they feel. They look around and are angry that white, straight men are no longer the only ones with any control over things. Thousands of years of having power over everyone else just wasn’t enough.

Black anger makes sense

I get black anger. I do. Think about it, if you haven’t already. Africans were pulled from their homes and brought to the New World in the worst conditions. By some estimates, two million died making the crossing.

This is a diagram of a slave ship.

Once they arrived, they were property. This original sin of the United States went on for hundreds of years. Then African-Americans were forced to endure Jim Crow laws, segregation and lynchings. Today, in addition to the brutality they experience at the hands of police and others, we incarcerate more black people than anyone else. The sentences given to African-Americans are much harsher. Dylan Roof killed nine people in a church in South Carolina. He was not killed, he was arrested.

This video is a must-watch if you care about racial justice

Tamir Rice. Brionna Taylor. Amadou Diallo. Bothan Jean. Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Michael Brown. Ahmed Arbery. We know these names because of how they were killed. One of the speakers last night said she was scared of becoming a name on a list. If I thought sleeping in my bed, eating ice cream on my couch, playing in a playground, walking down the street, going to the store and other normal activities could wind up with me dead, I would be angry all of the time.

But people on the side of Black Lives Matter are not plotting against the government and stockpiling weapons. People on the right stockpile weapons. People on the left stockpile books.

Today is Juneteenth. This should be a national holiday. To the people who think, but I’m not racist, all white people have benefited from white privilege. It took me a long time to see how I benefited because my life has not been what people think it is. It is now up to us to move the country past racism and deliver on the promises of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.