Rethinking 2024

I’ve read and heard many a commentator say that they hope Trump wins the Republican nomination in 2024 because they believe he’s the candidate least likely to be able to beat President Biden.  Hmmmmm … I wondered.  I made the mistake in 2016 of underestimating the fools who would fall under Trump’s spell, and I’m trying hard not to make the same mistake again, but … with all Trump’s baggage — not the least of which is having the distinction of being the only president to be impeached twice — it does seem as if he would be the least likely Republican to pose a serious threat to Biden.  And then I came across Frank Bruni’s column in the New York Times from Thursday and admittedly there are some things I haven’t been considering.  Take a look … see if you agree with him …

Do not underestimate Trump’s chances — or the damage he’d do with a second term

By Frank Bruni

01 June 2023

Did we learn nothing from 2016?

That, you may recall, was when Donald Trump’s emergence as the Republican presidential nominee seemed like some cosmic joke. Some cosmic gift. Oh, how Democrats exulted and chortled.

Donald Trump?!?

Hillary Clinton could start working on her inauguration remarks early.

Or so many of us thought. We got “American carnage,” two impeachments and a deadly breach of the U.S. Capitol instead.

And yet some Democrats are again rejoicing at the prospect of Trump as his party’s pick. They reason that he was an unproven entity before but is a proven catastrophe now and that his troubles with the law, troubles with reality, egomania and megalomania make him an easier opponent for President Biden, who beat him once already, than Gov. Ron DeSantis, Senator Tim Scott or another Republican aspirant would be. Perhaps they’re right.

But if they’re wrong? The stakes of a second Trump term are much, much too high to wager on his weakness and hope for his nomination. The way I size up the situation, any Republican nominee has a decent shot at the presidency: There are enough Americans who faithfully vote Republican, lean Republican or are open to a Republican that under sufficiently favorable circumstances, the party’s candidate wins. And the circumstances in November 2024 are neither predictable nor controllable — just as they weren’t in November 2016. If Trump is in the running, Trump is in the running.

So I flinch at thoughts and remarks like those of Senator Debbie Stabenow, the Michigan Democrat, who told Politico in late April: “Trump’s obviously an extremely dangerous person who would be very dangerous for the country. But I’m confident that President Biden could beat him.” She added that “politically, for us, it’s helpful if former President Trump is front and center.” The headline on that article, by Burgess Everett and Sarah Ferris, was “Dems Relish Trump-Biden Rematch.”

The headlines on other reports that month: “Why a Trump-Biden Rematch Is What Many Democrats Want in 2024” (The Wall Street Journal) and “Trump or DeSantis? Democrats Aren’t Sure Who They’d Rather See Biden Face in 2024” (NBC News).

Granted, those three articles appeared before the Washington Post/ABC News poll that shook the world. Published on May 7, the survey gave Trump a six-point lead over Biden in a hypothetical matchup and showed that voters regard Trump, 76, as more physically fit and mentally sharp than Biden, 80.

Over the weeks since, I’ve noticed a muting of Democrats’ confidence that Biden can roll over Trump. But I still hear some of Biden’s supporters say that they’d prefer Trump to, say, DeSantis, who can define himself afresh to many voters, or to Scott, whose optimism might be a tonic in toxic times.

And I worry that many Democrats still haven’t fully accepted and seriously grappled with what the past seven years taught us:

There is profound discontent in this country, and for all Trump’s lawlessness and ludicrousness, he has a real and enduring knack for articulating, channeling and exploiting it. “I am your retribution,” he told Republicans at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year. Those words were chilling not only for their bluntness but also for their keenness. Trump understands that in the MAGA milieu, a fist raised for him is a middle finger flipped at his critics. DeSantis, Scott, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley — none of them offer their supporters the same magnitude of wicked rebellion, the same amplitude of vengeful payback, the same red-hot fury.

Trump’s basic political orientation and the broad strokes of his priorities and policies may lump him together with his Republican competitors, but those rivals aren’t equally unappealing or equally scary because they’re not equally depraved.

He’s the one who speaks of Jan. 6, 2021, as a “beautiful day.” He’s the one who ordered Georgia’s secretary of state to find him more votes. He’s the one who commanded Pence, then his vice president, to subvert the electoral process and then vilified him for refusing to do so and was reportedly pleased or at least untroubled when a mob called for Pence’s execution. He’s the one who expends hour upon hour and rant after rant on the lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him — a fiction that’s a wrecking ball aimed at the very foundations of our democracy. His challengers tiptoe around all of that with shameful timidity. He’s the one who wallows happily and flamboyantly in this civic muck.

There are grave differences between the kind of threat that Trump poses and the kind that his Republican rivals do, and to theorize a strategic advantage to his nomination is to minimize those distinctions, misremember recent history and misunderstand what the American electorate might do on a given day, in a given frame of mind.

I suspect I’d be distraught during a DeSantis presidency and depressed during a Pence one. But at least I might recognize the America on the far side of it.

Wear Orange Day — A Day Late!

Although I initially wrote this post in 2021, this is the 2nd year in a row that I nearly forgot until reminded by our friend Larry over at Just Drive, Will You who posted yesterday, on the actual day, reminding me — and now I’m a day late!  But, better late than never, right?   Today, I think this post, this National Day, is more relevant than ever, given that gun violence, and especially mass shootings, have become the norm, not the anomaly.

I typically make fun of all the ‘national days’ … I mean, there are some thoroughly ridiculous ones like National Lima Bean Respect Day, National Rat Catcher’s Day, and National Talk In An Elevator Day.  However, there are a few of the national days that are worthy of being honoured, and today is one such day:  National Gun Violence Awareness Day, also known as Wear Orange Day.  I’ve made no secret of the fact that I hate guns and would happily see every last one of them destroyed, so it should come as no surprise that I’m writing about this day.

Until a few days ago when a dear friend emailed me about this day, I was not even aware of it … which likely means that most people are unaware.  Raising awareness is the goal of this day, and I aim to do my part to help raise that awareness.

On January 21, 2013, Hadiya Pendleton, a high school student from the south side of Chicago, marched in President Obama’s second inaugural parade. One week later, Hadiya was shot and killed on a playground in Chicago. Soon after this tragedy, Hadiya’s childhood friends decided to commemorate her life by wearing orange, the color hunters wear in the woods to protect themselves and others.

Wear Orange originated on June 2, 2015—what would have been Hadiya’s 18th birthday. Now, it is observed nationally on the first Friday in June and the following weekend each year. In the years since, participation in Wear Orange has increased tenfold.

In 2020, #WearOrange trended nationally on Twitter with over 150,000 Americans taking part along with more than 300 corporate and nonprofit partners such as Viacom, Levi Strauss & Co., Postmates, Amalgamated Bank, the American Academy of Pediatrics, AFT, and HRC, and some of the most impactful thought and culture leaders in the country—including President Obama, President Biden, Vice President Harris, Julianne Moore, Laura Dern, Jason George, Pearl Jam, and 25 individual sports teams, including the Golden State Warriors, the Boston Bruins, and the Washington Mystics. More than 100 buildings and landmarks lit the skyline orange across 40 states + DC, including a record 11 stadiums and arenas, while grassroots volunteers hosted more than 270 virtual events in all 50 states plus DC.

According to the Everytown website:

“In 2023, the 9th National Gun Violence Awareness Day will fall on June 2, the first Friday of the month. That will kick off Wear Orange Weekend on June 3-4, which will feature virtual and in-person events across the nation. From the south side of Chicago, to community organizers in Queens, to students around the country, we will come together to wear orange and demand a change.”

Miss Goose and I were talking and we thought that neither of us owned a piece of orange clothing, but then … I remembered that we both have Hallowe’en t-shirts that are orange with jack-o-lantern pattern on the front, so if you see someone wearing a Hallowe’en shirt this weekend, don’t be surprised!

In case you don’t think that guns are a serious problem in the U.S., here are a few facts to make you stop and think …

  • The U.S. gun suicide rate is 10 times higher than that of other high-income countries.
  • The US firearm homicide rate is 24.9 times higher than in other high-income countries.
  • The US firearm suicide rate was 9.8 times higher than in other high-income countries.
  • 7% of all firearm deaths occurred in the US.
  • 7% of women and 98.1% of all children killed by firearms were in the US.
  • Firearm homicide rates in low-gun states were 13.5 times higher than other countries.
  • On average, eight youth are killed by gun violence in the U.S. every day. Another 32 are shot and injured. Mass shootings are on the rise, averaging 11 each week in 2021.

Oh yeah, my friends, this country has a serious gun problem.  Some who love their killing toys have misinterpreted what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the 2nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution … NEVER did they intend for people to own weapons not even heard of back in their day that can kill hundreds of people within a minute or two.  NEVER did they intend for every person to carry a gun everywhere they go, even to the grocery store or to church.  And NEVER did the Founders intend us to use those weapons to simply randomly kill people because we did not like the colour of their skin, what they wear on their head, where they came from, or because we were having a bad day.

The United States is literally the laughingstock of the world for our gun policies, or should I say lack of gun policies.  No, wearing an orange shirt today will not change that, but it is one step in raising awareness that guns in America are one of the biggest problems we have, one of the biggest hurdles to our safety, our lives.

To the gun nuts, I say this:  NO, the Constitution does NOT give you the right to own an AR-15 or AK-47, it does NOT give you the right to own an arsenal, and it does NOT give you the right to intimidate innocent people by carrying your gun into schools, restaurants, bars, grocery stores, etc.  You do NOT have a right to leave that gun unsecured where your child may get it and cause heartbreak.  You do NOT have a right to be in my presence with that damn blasted piece of machinery.  Period.  My right to safety and life in this case supersedes your right to have that gun attached at the hip.

No one is immune to gun violence, as proven by the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary School last month that claimed the lives of 19 children and two teachers.   So far this year 17,965 people have lost their lives to guns, and last year a total of 44,363 people were killed by guns in the U.S.  So far, I have yet to hear of that “good guy with a gun” that the National Rifle Association claim exists, but every single day I hear of a lot of bad guys with guns … people who should never have been allowed to own a gun.

So, if you own an orange shirt, wear it this weekend to show your support for human life, to demand change in gun laws, to demand action.

Thoughts On The ‘F-Word’

It is only in the last month or two that I have discovered Joyce Vance and her writings.  Ms. Vance was a United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama from 2009 to 2017. She was one of the first five U.S. Attorneys, and the first female U.S. Attorney, nominated by President Barack Obama.  She is intelligent, knowledgeable, and her writing is clear and concise.  She writes on Substack, which is where I first discovered her, and her latest piece is … chilling.

Can We Call It Fascism Yet?

Joyce Vance

02 June 2023

“Except for the relatively small number of Fascist sympathizers,” George Orwell wrote in 1944, “almost any English person would accept ‘bully’ as a synonym for ‘Fascist’. That is about as near to a definition as this much-abused word has come.” Although political scientists have crafted more precise definitions in the ensuing years, the enduring image of fascism is that of the hate-fueled bully.

In a September 2020 interview, Joe Biden called his then-opponent, Donald Trump, “sort of like [Joseph] Goebbels,” a reference to Hitler’s propaganda chief during the Nazi regime. “You say the lie long enough, keep repeating it, repeating it, repeating it, it becomes common knowledge,” Biden explained. One aspect of fascism is repeating the lie until your followers come to believe it, accepting it as an obvious truth, something Trump is the master of.

In 2018, Madeleine Albright said in an interview: “We can’t have a leader that feels that he is above the law. The law and the rule of law is the most essential part of a democratic system.” Trump subsequently advocated for his supporters to use violence but sent federal forces to curb Black Lives Matter protests in American cities. He used the nationalistic slogan “Make America Great Again” and aligned himself with Christian nationalist groups that have little to do with Christianity.

Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power in advance of the 2020 election and tried to overthrow it after he lost, claiming it was rife with fraud—it wasn’t—while trying to install fake slates of electors to preempt duly elected ones and running an intimidation campaign against his own vice president to try and secure his cooperation. With the dismissal of his court cases and all his other plans coming apart, Trump tried to subvert DOJ and came close to installing as attorney general an unqualified environmental lawyer whose only credential was his willingness to throw the might of DOJ behind Trump’s claims of election fraud. It was a putsch attempt and Trump sulked like a child when it failed. Instead of ensuring a smooth transition to the new rightful president, he balked and obstructed and, apparently, took classified documents with him on the way out of the White House. He has continued ever since to act as a divisive force, motivated only by self-interest.

So reporting this week that Trump intends to target prosecutors and agents involved in the special counsel’s investigation of him if he regains the White House, identifying and firing them, comes as no surprise. But it seems to have mostly gotten lost in the shuffle of news about developments in the Mar-a-Lago case, despite the fact that it is equally deserving of our attention. Rolling Stone reported, “In recent months, the former president has asked close advisers, including at least one of his personal attorneys, if ‘we know’ all the names of senior FBI agents and Justice Department personnel who have worked on the federal probes into him. That’s according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter and another person briefed on it.” There you have it, the party of law and order, preparing to exact revenge on people pledged to work for law and order.

If law enforcement officials who are upholding their oaths to the Constitution and doing their job won’t be safe in a new Trump regime, then really, who will be? No one. Because in a country overtaken by a cult of personality, you never know on any given day when you’re going to run afoul of the leader’s whims. You could be the shop assistant who doesn’t have the right size shirt in stock or the chef whose meal Trump doesn’t like. You could be a grandchild’s teacher who gives an accurate but low grade. Really, you could be anyone. It doesn’t matter because once we install a leader who rejects a rule of law system of government in favor of one where all that matters are the momentary desires of the head of the cult, we are beyond the protections the law has traditionally offered people in this country from overreaching leaders. Trump has made abundantly clear his intent to dismantle that system if he gets another opportunity.

More from Rolling Stone’s reporting: “Trump has…privately discussed that should he return to the White House, it is imperative his new Department of Justice ‘quickly’ and ‘immediately’ purge the FBI and DOJ’s ranks of these officials and agents who’ve led the Trump-related criminal investigations, the sources recount. The ex-president has of course dubbed all such probes as illegitimate ‘witch hunts,’ and is now campaigning for the White House on a platform of ‘retribution’ and cleaning house.” Trump is the quintessential bully who doesn’t believe in the rule of law.

Trump has leveled specific criticism against FBI Director Chris Wray, his 2017 appointee, objecting to Wray’s failure to engage in a wholesale purge of people who are not loyal to Trump and threatening to fire him on his first day back in the White House if he wins in 2024. But Trump’s sights aren’t set exclusively on DOJ. He has gone beyond that, promising that top of the list for his revenge and retribution campaign against federal employees whose loyalty is to the Constitution, not Trump, is reinstituting “Schedule F.” Schedule F is an executive order that would make it much easier for him to fire federal employees across the executive branch, while also offering the ability to replace them with Trump loyalists (despite longstanding protections for civil servants against just this type of action).

From his earliest moments in office, Trump targeted employees whom he thought were insufficiently loyal to him, personally. The first one was then–FBI Director Jim Comey, who declined to give Trump the personal loyalty oath he sought, saying that his loyalty was to the Constitution. Comey was, of course, fired. The bookend at the conclusion of Trump’s presidency was his top cybersecurity official, Chris Krebs, who issued a statement calling the 2020 election “the most secure in American history” despite his boss’s claims of pervasive fraud. Trump fired Krebs on Twitter for contradicting The Big Lie.

Special counsel Jack Smith’s attention appears to have turned toward the Krebs firing, but it may have more to do with establishing Trump’s state of mind—proof he knew he’d lost in a fair election—than any new substantive lean in the direction of that investigation. It is nonetheless another significant marker on the path toward the possibility of an authoritarian America.

Personal loyalty oaths to the president aren’t how our country is supposed to work. Career federal employee jobs aren’t spoils of war for a president to hand out like party favors. There are political appointments like judgeships and executive agency leadership, but the folks who move the ship of state forward from administration to administration are career professionals. Like the prosecutors and agents temporarily detailed to special counsel investigations into Trump, they are supposed to have civil service protections. In a normal world, Trump would be unable to walk in and fire them. His plans to do so are sinister. Trump is threatening to fundamentally change the structure of our country so that it runs in a way that serves him and not the people. That, of course, describes Trump in a nutshell.

What’s still more sinister is that little, if any, attention is being paid to Trump’s clear intentions to lead us away from democracy if he gets another shot at the White House. Is it fascism yet? Even asking the question can draw criticism these days. But we have on our hand a bully who repeats his lies until they become accepted as fact, at least by his followers, and who eschews the rule of law in favor of personal loyalty to him. It’s a frightening picture for the future, a future it’s critical that we prevent.

We’re in this together,

🏳️‍🌈 Celebrating Pride Month – Part II 🏳️‍🌈

In years past, I have posted this two-part series on Pride Month, but this year I think there is so much more that needs to be talked about.  What you are about to read is about some of the ongoing Pride celebrations around the world, but sadly many of those celebrations, particularly here in the U.S., have been or are being cancelled due to threats of violence.  Those threats of violence stem from political rhetoric being spouted by bigoted, homophobic politicians like Ron DeSantis and Mike Pence, as well as religious ‘leaders’ who believe that somehow one person’s rights must naturally mean a reduction in other people’s rights.  It isn’t a damn pie where there is only so much to go around!  So, for today, enjoy learning about (or remembering, if you’re a long-time reader) some of the fun things about Pride month, updated from last year’s post where needed.  I don’t want to mar the beauty, the fun, with the dark things taking place, so I’ll be back in a day or two with more about those.

Yesterday, I posted a bit of the history of Pride Month in the U.S., and as I mentioned there, I took up all my space talking about the history of the month, and didn’t leave room for all the fun things.  This post shows some of the many ways the month is celebrated, people who have been prominent in bringing LGBTQ issues to the forefront, pictures, etc.  In 2020, Pride events were severely curtailed with nearly all in-person Pride marches, demonstrations and parades being canceled or turned into virtual events because of safety considerations due to the pandemic.  But with the vaccine rollout in 2021 around the world, many organizers then resumed plans to hold in-person Pride events and more than 150 official Pride festivals and events are happening around the world in 2023.  But first, let’s look back at a few of my favourites from years past …

This one dates back to 2019, but it’s one of my favourite stories to celebrate Pride Month.  One of the things I found most fun takes place at the London Zoo.  You might remember a post I wrote in October 2018 about Sphen and Magic, two same-sex penguins in Sydney, Australia, who were given a baby penguin to raise.   Well, the London Zoo has its own celebrity couple, Ronnie and celebrate the pair and similar animal couples, in 2019 the zoo gave a “Pride makeover” to its Zoo Night event on July 5. In addition to regular Zoo Night festivities, the zoo taught about gender, mating and same-sex animal pairings.

Like Sphen and Magic, Ronnie and Reggie adopted an egg that was abandoned by another couple, sharing parenting duties of their chick Kyton until he fledged the nest. Though their baby is now grown, Ronnie and Reggie are still going strong and are often found snuggling in their nest box. The zoo is home to 93 penguins total, and Ronnie and Reggie are not the only same-sex couple. 👍

How ‘bout a beer?  The makers of Bud Light are very LGBTQ-friendly, and for two decades have partnered with GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).  Last year, they did something pretty cool to honour the LGBTQ community.  Take a look …Pride-month-bud-light.jpgBud Light sold the rainbow-colored aluminum bottles in bars nationwide from May 27 to June 30 and donated to GLAAD $1 from each case sold.  👍  (Needless to say, I’ll have more on this in my next Pride post!)

Pride-turbanThis is Jiwandeep Kohli, a Sikh man from San Diego.  In June 2019, he posted this picture on Twitter, and the response was overwhelming … it garnered nearly 152,000 likes, and was re-tweeted more than 21,000 times, including once by none other than President Obama!!!  👍

CNN did a nice piece back in 2019 highlighting six LGBTQ activists:  Billie Jean King, Harvey Milk, Marsha P. Johnson, Audre Lorde, Larry Kramer, and RuPaul Charles.  Of these, I had only heard of the first two, but the piece is well worth a read, for these six people have been key players in the fight for LGBTQ rights.  And on a personal note, if you have never seen the film Milk, starring Sean Penn, now is the time.  I am not a fan of Mr. Penn, but I saw this movie several years ago, and … I promise you will love Harvey Milk, and you will need a box of tissues.  At least check it out, and also the piece by CNN.    👍

Pride Month is not only celebrated in the U.S., but ‘round the world.  Two years ago, due to the pandemic, most events were virtual, but this year Pride Month is back in full swing with many parades and celebrations.  Here are a few of this year’s international celebrations …

Copenhagen WorldPride 2023

In 2023, Copenhagen Pride will host their annual weeklong Pride event in a massive celebration of equality and diversity. Copenhagen Pride will kick off with an opening ceremony on Ophelia Square on August 19th. The event will congregate on City Hall Square—right in the middle of Copenhagen—as an impressive village for all Copenhagen 2023 participants to gather all week long.

Madrid Pride 2023

Celebrating a half-century of LGBTQ+ liberation in one of the best cities in Spain, MADO (Madrid Pride) is a colorful week-long party with open air concerts, parties, art, culture and sport, all taking place in Chueca: Madrid’s famous gay neighborhood and the very center of the city. The climax is the parade, with over 2 million attendees expected in 2023.

The pride parade starts at Atocha Station and ends in Plaza de Colón. At the Plaza, a huge crowd and stage will welcome all the participants with music, dancing, and a reading of the manifesto of freedom, inclusion and diversity.

NYC Pride Parade 2023

30 days, 50+ events, 3 million people. The event’s attached nonprofit, Heritage of Pride, plans and produces the city’s first and only official LGBTQIA+ Pride events each year to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969: the beginning of the modern Gay Rights movement.

The first march was held in 1970, and has since become an annual civil rights demonstration. Over the years, its purpose has expanded to include recognition of the fight against AIDS and to remember those we have lost to illness, violence and neglect. The NYC Pride march starts at 26th Street & 5th Ave and ends at 23rd Street & 7th Ave.

Paris Pride 2023

Grab your friends and head to Le Marais, Paris’ gay district, for a week of non-stop parties that ends with one big event: Marche des Fiertés LGBTQ (Paris Gay Pride Parade). Marche des Fiertés LGBTQ is a historic event for the French capital, born in the 80’s when a group of locals from the community united over a fight for LGBTQ+ rights.

The procession starts at Place de la Concorde (in front of the National Assembly) at 2pm and winds its way through Châtelet, Le Marais, Pont de Sully, and Bastille, before concluding with a massive (and free!) party at Place de la République.

As if Pride in Paris isn’t dreamy enough, Disneyland Paris is throwing a magical Pride celebration on in June 2023. In town for a few days? Check out some of the best LGBTQ+ spots in our guide to queer Paris.

Berlin Pride 2023

Berlin Pride is one of the biggest European Pride events of the year. Known by locals as CSD (Christopher Street Day), the event is a gay landmark that’s been celebrated in Berlin since 1979. Today, four decades later, over one million people gather each year to honor LGBTQ+ equality and self-determination in Germany. Attendees of CSD can expect everything from official club nights in Kreuzberg to queer film screenings across the city.

On Saturday, the parade leaves at 12pm at Kurfürstendamm and finishes at 14:00 at Brandenburger Tor. After dark, a huge Pride party will close the night and wrap up CSD celebrations.

London Pride 2023

Pride in London is “about the people, for the people.” This year’s theme is  #PrideJubilee, remembering fifty years of activism, protests and victories that have made the movement what it is today.

The parade kicks off at Portland Place at 12pm, moving down Oxford Circus, along Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus, Lower Regent Street, Pall Mall and then passing Trafalgar Square before finishing on Whitehall. London Pride recommends that spectators avoid busy locations, like Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus, and notes that the parade will fill the whole afternoon until around 5:30pm.

There are many more such events all ’round the globe from Amsterdam to Mexico and everywhere in between, and you can find information about many other parades and celebrations here.

There is much, much more I could write, many more wonderful events to cover, but time and space are limited.  Sadly, in this, the 21st century, discrimination against the LGBTQ community is on the rise.  But, there are positive signs, too.  In 2021, sisters Dawn & Miranda, co-owners of a small Lufkin, Texas bakery, saw both the negative and the positive when they advertised their Pride cookies …

The following day, the sisters saw order after order being cancelled and messages of hate left on their website.  But then … after the sisters posted about their plight, about the hate they were receiving, they became an overnight hit!  People from as far away as Washington state, Minnesota, New York, Canada, Brazil and the United Kingdom sent messages of support and their entire stock of baked goods sold out by mid-afternoon.  By the end of the next day, they had gained some 2,500 new social media followers!

The line waiting to get into the bakery!

When there was nothing left to buy, customers began simply donating money to the sisters … money that they then donated to Wendy’s Misfits Animal Rescue, an all-volunteer non-profit in Lufkin.  See how love can overcome hate?  It really can, my friends.

To all my friends who are part of the LGBTQ community … HUGE hugs and much love to you all!!!


🏳️‍🌈 Celebrating PRIDE Month – Part I 🏳️‍🌈

I already had a different post on the schedule for this morning when I realized that today is June 1, the beginning of Pride Month!  Where have the first five months of this year gone???  Wasn’t it just Christmas a few weeks ago?  So, rather than starting out the day with this post, which is a repeat of last year’s Pride Month post with some updates and modifications, I shall post it this afternoon and Part II will be tomorrow morning.  I am deeply saddened by state legislatures across the United States that have been busily introducing and passing anti-LGBTQ bills this year.  Thus far, not even halfway into the year, some 417 such bills have been introduced, more than twice as many as the previous year.

This is, in part, why I think shining a light on Pride Month is so, so important.  We must remember that we are all the same in far more ways than we are different, that we are all in the fight for life together.  We all have feelings, stengths & weaknesses, and nobody is ‘superior’ by virtue of the gender or colour.

With all the brouhaha over such ridiculous things as Bud Light featuring a trans person on cans of beer, Target selling Pride merchandise, religious leaders and politicians shouting anti-LGBTQ rhetoric at every turn, I fear this year’s Pride Month may be marred by disappointment and violence against the LGBTQ community.  I hope I’m wrong.  But learning about people is always a way to find more things we have in common, and that’s why I will keep posting these every June in hopes of reminding people that beneath it all, we are all just people.

My posts are usually geared toward socio-political issues such as racism & bigotry, politics, the environment, etc., but every now and then there is something that takes precedence over all those things — they will still be here tomorrow, right?  This afternoon and tomorrow afternoon, I am dedicating Filosofa’s Word, as I have for the past three years, to Pride Month.  Quick question:  do you know what PRIDE stands for?  I’m ashamed to say that I did not know until a few years ago that it stands for Personal Rights In Defense and Education.  Makes perfect sense, don’t you think?  The fight to be recognized and accepted has been an ongoing battle for decades, perhaps longer, and while we were making progress for a time, lately we seem to be regressing, thanks in large part to certain homophobic governors whose names do not deserve mention on this post.  Check out the states that are pushing through new legislation this year against the LGBTQ community on the ACLU website.

The following is Part I of a post I wrote for PRIDE Month in 2019 and have reprised every year since.  I don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel, and frankly when I read over this post, except for a few minor adjustments, I didn’t think I could do any better if I started over.  Part II will be on the schedule for tomorrow.  Meanwhile, to all my friends in the LGBTQ community … I wish you a heartfelt Happy PRIDE Month!

Pride-month-3June is Pride Month, a month dedicated to recognizing the impact LGBTQ people have had in the world.  I see Pride Month in much the same way I see February’s Black History Month.  It is a way to honour or commemorate those who rarely receive the recognition they deserve, and are often discriminated against, simply because they are LGBTQ, or Black, in the case of Black History Month.  A bit of history about the beginnings of Pride Month …

The Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City, was owned by the Genovese crime family, and in 1966, three members of the Genovese family invested $3,500 to turn the Stonewall Inn into a gay bar, after it had been a restaurant and a nightclub for heterosexuals. Once a week a police officer would collect envelopes of cash as a payoff, as the Stonewall Inn had no liquor license and thus was operating outside the law.  It was the only bar for gay men in New York City where dancing was allowed; dancing was its main draw since its re-opening as a gay club.

At 1:20 a.m. on Saturday, June 28, 1969, four plainclothes policemen in dark suits, two patrol officers in uniform, and Detective Charles Smythe and Deputy Inspector Seymour Pine arrived at the Stonewall Inn’s double doors and announced “Police! We’re taking the place!”  Approximately 205 people were in the bar that night. Patrons who had never experienced a police raid were confused. A few who realized what was happening began to run for doors and windows in the bathrooms, but police barred the doors.

Standard procedure was to line up the patrons, check their identification, and have female police officers take customers dressed as women to the bathroom to verify their sex, upon which any men dressed as women would be arrested. Those dressed as women that night refused to go with the officers. Men in line began to refuse to produce their identification. The police decided to take everyone present to the police station, after separating those cross-dressing in a room in the back of the bar.

Long story short, a few patrons were released before the patrol wagons arrived to cart the rest off to jail, and those few stayed out front, attracted quite a large crowd, mostly LGBT people, and after an officer hit a woman over the head for saying her handcuffs were too tight, the crowd went into fight mode.  By this time, the police were outnumbered by some 600 people.  Garbage cans, garbage, bottles, rocks, and bricks were hurled at the building, breaking the windows.  The mob lit garbage on fire and stuffed it through the broken windows.  Police tried to use water hoses to disperse the crowd, but there was no water pressure.  Police pulled their weapons, but before they could fire them, the Tactical Patrol Force and firefighters arrived.  The crowd mocked and fought against the police, who began swinging their batons right and left, not much caring who they hit or where.

The crowd was cleared by 4:00 a.m., but the mood remained dark, and the next night, rioting resumed with thousands of people showing up at the Stonewall, blocking the streets.  Police responded, and again it was 4:00 a.m. before the mob was cleared.

There comes a point when people who are mistreated, abused, discriminated against, have had enough.  It is the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back, and the police raid on the Stonewall Inn, the treatment of people who were only out to enjoy the night, was that straw.  It was a history making night, not only for the LGBTQ community, but for the nation.pride-month-stonewall.jpgWithin six months of the Stonewall riots, activists started a citywide newspaper called Gay; they considered it necessary because the most liberal publication in the city—The Village Voice—refused to print the word “gay”.  Two other newspapers were initiated within a six-week period: Come Out! and Gay Power; the readership of these three periodicals quickly climbed to between 20,000 and 25,000.  Gay Activists Alliance (GAA) was formed with a constitution that began …

“We as liberated homosexual activists demand the freedom for expression of our dignity and value as human beings.”

I think that says it all, don’t you?  ‘Dignity and value as human beings’.  It is, in my book, a crying shame that our society needs to be reminded that we are all human beings, that we all have value and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

Christopher Street Liberation Day on June 28, 1970 marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots with an assembly on Christopher Street; with simultaneous Gay Pride marches in Los Angeles and Chicago, these were the first Gay Pride marches in U.S. history. The next year, Gay Pride marches took place in Boston, Dallas, Milwaukee, London, Paris, West Berlin, and Stockholm.  The Stonewall riots are considered the birth of the gay liberation movement and of gay pride on a massive scale.  The event has been likened to the Boston Tea Party, and Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the back of the bus.  All of those were people’s way of saying, “We’ve had enough!”

2019 marked the 50-year anniversary of the Stonewall Inn raid and ensuing riots, and at long last, the New York City Police Department apologized to the LGBTQ community.  “The actions taken by the NYPD [at Stonewall] were wrong, plain and simple,” police commissioner James O’Neill said.  He also noted that the frequent harassment of LGBTQ men and women and laws that prohibited same-sex sexual relations are “discriminatory and oppressive” and apologized on behalf of the department.

President Bill Clinton first declared June to be National Pride Month in 1999, and again in 2000.  On June 1, 2001, President George W. Bush announced that the White House would not formally recognize Pride Month.  Every year that President Barack Obama was in office, he declared June to be LGBT Pride Month.  Donald Trump ignored it in throughout his tenure and blocked the display of the Pride flag at all U.S. embassies.  Last year, President Biden recognized Pride Month, saying he “will not rest until full equality for LGBTQ+ Americans is finally achieved and codified into law.”

“During LGBTQ+ Pride Month, we recognize the resilience and determination of the many individuals who are fighting to live freely and authentically. In doing so, they are opening hearts and minds, and laying the foundation for a more just and equitable America.”

And yesterday evening, he once again proclaimed June to be Pride Month and denouncing the anti-LGBTQ laws and book bannings that have been taking place in the states.

“During Pride Month, we honor a movement that has grown stronger, more vibrant, and more inclusive with every passing year. Pride is a celebration of generations of LGBTQI+ people who have fought bravely to live openly and authentically. And it is a reminder that we still have generational work to do to ensure that everyone enjoys the full promise of equity, dignity, protection, and freedom.”

Since this post turned into a history lesson, I wrote a second post to highlight some of the celebrations, the fun ways that people celebrate pride month, the people and organizations that are supporting Pride Month, and to honour the LGBTQ community, but I felt the history was important also, so … stay tuned for Part II later this afternoon!


♫ Streets Of London ♫

You may remember that I gave cushy high-level management jobs to Clive & Carolyn last week, so that they would determine what songs I would be playing each day and free up some of my time for other things.  Well, they’ve been haggling about salary ‘n such, and forgot to give me a song for today until late last night when I finally asked Carolyn (Clive was already fast asleep), and she gave me this song!  I had never heard the song before, nor to the best of my knowledge had I ever heard of the artist, Ralph McTell!  So, this is new to me and perhaps, unless you live in the UK, to you as well, but I liked it almost immediately, which is very rare for me!  Songs usually have to grow on me over a period of time.  Perhaps it’s the message of this one — a message that maybe we all need to remember sometimes. But I like the tune, as well.  So, thank you, Carolyn (aka Joy of Roses).

The song was inspired by McTell’s experiences with street performances and hitchhiking throughout Europe, especially in Paris and the individual stories are taken from Parisians. McTell was originally going to call the song “Streets of Paris” — but eventually London was chosen, because he realized he was singing about London; also, there was another song called The Poor People of Paris.

McTell’s song contrasts the common problems of everyday people with those of the homeless, lonely, elderly, ignored and forgotten members of society.  This was not released as a single until 1974, five years after it first appeared on his album Spiral Staircase.

According to SongFacts …

McTell had originally written this song when he recorded his debut album Eight Frames a Second, which was released in early 1968. However he left it off, as he regarded it as too depressing. Ralph McTell explained: “In one day, ‘Streets’ sold 90,000 copies and it was #2 by Christmas. There were three versions in the German charts – all by me! Streets also sold more sheet music than any song since the war. I formed a rock band just before the record was a hit, but of course we never played ‘Streets.’ Audiences didn’t like the band, so I announced my retirement and went off to America in a fit of pique. Streets opened more doors than it closed. The song is still played all over the world and even schoolchildren in the Himalayas have been heard singing it.”

Over 200 artists have recorded covers of this song, including Sinead O’Connor, who did a cover as an additional track on her “Thank You For Hearing Me” single in 1994. Other artists include Cliff Richard, Mary Hopkin, Anti-Nowhere League and Roger Whittaker.

McTell won the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriting for this song in 1974.

As far as I can tell, while this song charted at #2 in the UK, it did not chart elsewhere.

Streets of London

Ralph McTell

Have you seen the old man
In the closed down market
Kicking up the papers
With his worn out shoes?

In his eyes, you see no pride
Hand held loosely at his side
Yesterday’s paper
Telling yesterday’s news

So, how can you tell me you’re lonely
And say for you that the sun don’t shine?
Let me take you by the hand
And lead you through the streets of London
Show you something to make you change your mind

Have you seen the old girl
Who walks the streets of London
Dirt in her hair
And her clothes in rags?

She’s no time for talking
She just keeps right on walking
Carrying her home
In two carrier bags

So, how can you tell me you’re lonely
And say for you that the sun don’t shine?
Let me take you by the hand
And lead you through the streets of London
Show you something to make you change your mind

In the all night cafe
At a quarter past eleven
Same old man
Sitting there on his own

Looking at the world
Over the rim of his tea cup
Each tea lasts an hour
And he wanders home alone

So, how can you tell me you’re lonely?
Don’t say for you that the sun don’t shine
Let me take you by the hand
And lead you through the streets of London
Show you something to make you change your mind

Have you seen the old man
Outside the seaman’s mission
Memory fading with
The medal ribbons that he wears?

In our winter city
The rain cries a little pity
For one more forgotten hero
And a world that doesn’t care

So, how can you tell me you’re lonely
And say for you that the sun don’t shine?
Let me take you by the hand
And lead you through the streets of London
I’ll show you something to make you change your mind

Source: Musixmatch

Songwriters: Ralph Mc Tell

Streets of London lyrics © Westminster Music Ltd

Good People Doing Good Things – Dr. Teri DeLane

I really don’t like to redux my ‘good people’ posts, for I think they are so important, especially these days, but tonight I find that my motivation and inspiration are simply at an all-time low and I cannot come up with a new one, try as I might.  I wrote this one back in 2017, and re-reading it tonight I have to say I think that Dr. Teri DeLane is worthy of a second glance … I hope you will, too.

Sometimes the best help a person in need can get comes from someone who has “been there, done that”.  Those are the people who truly understand what you are going through, whether it is the death of a loved one, a divorce, or drug addiction.  Enter Dr. Teri DeLane.  Let us travel back to the year 1967, for that is where Dr. DeLane’s remarkable journey began.

13-year-old Teri came from an abusive, violent, drug-addicted family in Las Vegas, and in the summer of 1967 she and a friend decided to hitchhike up to San Francisco to participate in Summer of Love.  For those too young to remember, Summer of Love was the convergance of some 100,000 young hippies on the San Francisco neighborhood of Haight-Ashbury that summer of 1967. Teri spent much of the summer just hanging out in the area, staying with one person or another, until eventually she contracted pneumonia and ended up back in Vegas, By age 14, she was using heroin, running the streets, dropped out of school, and spent time in and out of juvenile detention centers.  When she was 16, she spent a year in a youth prison, and by age 20 she had overdosed three times.

And then Teri discovered Delancey Street, the renowned San Francisco-based self-help program for drug addicts and ex-offenders. Teri entered Delancey Street Foundation in the early 1970s as a teenage prostitute, drug addict and school drop-out. Teri learned more than how to stop using drugs at Delancey Street.  She learned about being part of community and how to trust. “The Delancey Street Foundation saved my life by surrounding me with people who would not allow me to fail. The process is taking a person and giving them the tools necessary to live by, thrive by, to grow, to push you to your best potential, to pull out your strengths instead of always concentrating on your weaknesses,” she said.

Wed-DeLane-2Dr. DeLane would ultimately not only finish high school, but go on to earn two Master’s degrees and a doctorate in clinical psychology. It was while working on the doctorate that she became involved with running and developing programs for incarcerated men and women that were offshoots of the Delancey Street program. Then came a chance to work with a juvenile justice reform program as an advisor, and Teri knew she had found her calling. ”My heart and soul has always been youth because I was someone that got it and I desperately wanted to have an impact on changing kids.  Because I know that if you get in early and really work on them and help them learn to trust, they can change,” she said.

In 1998, Teri DeLane founded the Life Learning Academy, a non-residential San Francisco Unified School District charter school, based on the Delancey Street Foundation principles, that serves the city’s highest-risk, highest-need students. The school tracks a 99% graduation rate with 85% of the students going on to college.  The kids that do so well here are the kids with histories of school failure, truancy, arrest and substance abuse.  The ones that traditional school settings can’t provide for. The ones that would otherwise end up dead or in prison in a few short years.

“The idea about developing this school came up when Mayor Willie Brown contacted Delancey Street because the juvenile justice system in San Francisco was falling apart.”

DeLane incorporated practices of the Delancey Street program that could be integrated into a school environment:  creating community, engagement, leadership, dress code and working toward rewards.

And she trains her teachers and staff.  “It takes training to help people understand the complexity of teenagers.  The way to engage them is a push and pull process.  You give them a little and you take a little.  I train the staff to teach the kids how to think about their thinking so they can tune in and help them understand that have control of themselves, but it takes a long time to change that.  The kids are so engrossed in negative thinking and believing that they are failures.  What you need to know about teenagers is that they push against structure and crave it at the same time.”

Delane knows the background of each student and shares that with the staff.  Taking into account a student’s home environment, or even lack thereof, is key to understanding the behavioral issues that some of the students may have.  Even so, the Life Learning Academy does not rely on counseling and has no counselors on staff.  “We don’t need them,” she says, and recalls her own experience as an at-risk student in a traditional school system.  “I was sent to counseling because I was acting out in school.  No one said, “Wow, I get it.  Her environment and her family are complete disasters.  Now wonder she is angry, no wonder she is fighting.”  It wasn’t me that had the disorder really; it was the family system.”

“The way I changed wasn’t through traditional therapy.  It was by coming into an organization with people that helped me find my strengths, who yelled at me about the things that were going to get me in trouble and who kept me moving forward,” she said.  “Because the kids keep having to go back into their family environments I want to teach them tools to make them stronger and not take them back through their history.  Not to open them up but to empower them.  They may go home to a horrible environment, but they spend a lot of their waking hours in a positive, fun, exciting place.  Kids know that they can come in in the morning, be in a bad mood and people aren’t going to be on them and we will notice they are in a bad mood.”

Students are expected to take part in community service projects, internships and even to pursue part-time jobs.  “What we do at the school is a circle around the kids with a number of things that have to be included in their lives in order for them to have a full life:  education, a job, having money and a portion of the circle has to be learning how to give back,” she said.  “I teach that the way you get is by giving.  Not by sitting around talking about your problems. We don’t stay stuck in our past.  What we do is work through it, let it go and move on.”

All the students know Delane’s background, see what she has accomplished and witness her giving back every day.  And they know that the way she moved on from a troubled life is what they are learning at Life Learning Academy.  That realization allows trust to gain its foothold.

“I think I am really lucky because I have never forgotten where I come from. And as a result, I have gratitude to the ends of the earth because there is no better feeling in the world than watching kids become part of this community and start thriving and growing.”

Nobody can know how many lives Dr. DeLane has saved, how many she has kept from a lifetime of drug-addiction, prison, homelessness, but I suspect the number is high. Teri DeLane is truly an example of someone who has given back … and keeps on giving.  Two thumbs up to Dr. Teri DeLane!

A Hero’s Welcome For A Traitor?

So, let me ask a question here:  If a man attempts, but fails, to murder your daughter, causing her grievous personal injury from which she may never fully recover, when he gets out of prison after serving for only a few months, will you give him a hero’s welcome?  No, I didn’t think so.  And yet, when a man attempts to murder the democracy of your nation, to render your vote null and void, he gets the royal carpet treatment.  WTF is wrong with the people in this country???

Remember this asshole?

Jacob Angeli Chansley, commonly called the “QAnon Shaman”, was one of the Trump supporters who broke into the Capitol building on January 6th with the intention of overturning the 2020 election, scrapping President Biden’s electoral win, silencing the voices of the people, and installing Donald Trump as “president”.  In November 2021, after pleading guilty, he was sentenced to 41 months in prison for his role in the insurrection/attempted coup.  And then, he was released on May 25th, after serving only 18 months, two of them in a halfway house – less than half of his sentence.  And he arrived home in Arizona to a hero’s welcome.

According to AZ Central

A crowd of more than 150 people gathered at Reformed Living Bible Church in Scottsdale on Sunday to celebrate the homecoming of Jake Angeli, one of the most prominent figures at the raid on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

Angeli opted out of the painted face and shed the fur and horned hat that earned him a national spotlight. Instead, the man who has been nicknamed the “QAnon Shaman” addressed the crowd in a white suit and American flag tie. “Here I am saying hello, a couple years later, in a much more public way than I ever anticipated and it’s really surreal, almost like a dream,” Angeli said to the crowd.

An organizer of the event, Susan Wood of Scottsdale, told The Arizona Republic on Friday that the event would be a chance to reintroduce Angeli to the public.

Wood said she met Angeli at the various protests and marches he participated in during 2019 and 2020. “He was always just so happy and energetic and fun and nice,” she said. “We were like, what is he doing in prison? He’s not dangerous or anything.”

NOT DANGEROUS OR ANYTHING????  Seriously???  Ms. Wood needs to remove her head from her posterior and read the United States Constitution, if she is capable of reading at all, that is!  This man assisted in what could have resulted in the death of a nation and DID result in the deaths of at least five law enforcement officers!  NOT DANGEROUS???  I suppose she is a fan of Adolf Hitler, too!  He was, after all, just a kind, gentle man who happened to hate Jewish people, eh?  Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr …

I ask again, WTF is wrong with the people of this nation???

An Upside To Grim Songs – House At Pooneil Corner

Our friend Roger mentioned the song “House on Pooh Corner” a few days ago and hinted that he might be doing a post about it … or at least that was what I thought he was hinting at! Turns out he knew of another song with a similar title, but … OH BOY is it a different song with a different concept! Roger’s post is … deep. It is thought-provoking. The music is jarring and not one I hope to hear again any time soon, but Roger’s thoughts and musings are definitely worth the read! Thank you, Sir Roger!

Writing Despite Computers and Programmes


Forewarning: This is one of those long post that might appear to be meandering. Some posts need the elements of stories to get to the point. This is one.

Yes, there they are, Jefferson Airplane, one of the bands which are automatically associated with the many often inaccurately named time from 1965 to its stuttering end 1969 – 1970.

Like many bands of that era, the more you read about them, even filtering out the hyperbole, the less you feel affection for them as individuals or a group of folk, even if the music does stick.  My own opinion was they were played out by 1969 and the music was dying…Marty Balin originator of the band was to leave, disillusioned with those politics of the band…

So having set the mood, let’s take a look at one particular but not universally known song produced when they were still fresh.

View original post 1,083 more words

There Is Wisdom In These Words

Seth Abramson is a bit of everything from professor of communication arts and sciences to criminal defense attorney to author to political analyst/writer, and his views are usually spot on.  His newsletter this morning hit the nail on the head regarding the Republican Party, debt ceiling, and the GOP intent to destroy not only the president, but the presidency and with it, the democratic foundation of the nation.  Take a look … see what you think …

A Five-Paragraph Explanation of the Debt Crisis

While the consequences of America going into default on its financial obligations are impossible to overstate, the story about how and why we got to where we are is in fact a fairly simple one.

By Seth Abramson

27 May 2023

Congressional spending in Washington over the last few decades has consistently been excessive, with most of the problem relating to overspending on the Pentagon, unnecessary pork sought by politicians of both major political parties in the United States, various forms of corporate welfare, and reckless tax cuts for the wealthy. The GOP has been particularly irresponsible in its spending under Republican presidents, presuming—rightly—that it can simply wait for a Democratic president to enter the White House to demand austerity and falsely accuse Democrats (who are certainly not blameless in the problem of overspending) of being the sole cause of profligacy in DC. One thing that’s remained constant in all this is that Republicans have no concern about raising the nation’s debt ceiling when a Republican president is in office. Their supposedly principled views on this matter manifest only when the man or woman they would be sticking it to by putting up a fight over the debt ceiling is a Democrat.

Several years ago, a new phenomenon intruded on the predictable, almost-clockwork-like parade of events, accusations, and recriminations described above. And that was this: the Republican Party ceased to be a credible negotiating party in Washington for the simple reason that it decided to conclude its ever-tenuous interest in governance. It realized, in short, that since most of its base had no love for the federal government anyway—in part because GOP leaders had methodically lied to it about how much of the average Republican’s life depends on federal spending—it could simply make its political platform the end of responsible federal governance. Thus, when Republicans were in control of the Congress with a Democratic president, unprecedented holds on judicial nominations issued, including one that literally stripped Barack Obama of his constitutional right to nominate a Supreme Court justice; executive-branch positions requiring Congressional confirmation, even many that related to national security and international diplomacy, remained unfilled when the GOP ran Congress and it was a Democratic president getting denied the power to govern responsibly; and even the viability of democracy—including formerly uncontroversial concepts like absentee voting and early voting—was soon called into question by a political party no longer operating like a political party at all, replacing its policy platform with an implied promise to toss sand in the gears of American government at every turn. The GOP became, in short, a cult dedicated to pampering the Big Feelings of its base, which were monstrously (and often also incoherently and/or paradoxically) anti-government.

Then the pandemic came, and hundreds of thousands of innocents died needlessly for the simple reason that America’s president at the time happened to be the leader of the Republican Party and a chief advocate for venal and petty obstructionism of the normal functions of government (also, he himself had grown up in a cult in which bad news is ignored). The recklessness, negligence, and in a few cases the criminality of Donald Trump and his administration in the first year of the pandemic deepened the cost of the pandemic in America—ensuring we would be hit harder by COVID-19 than any other nation—and also extended its duration, forcing already high federal spending to increase even more dramatically than it would have otherwise in the midst of a national emergency. Whereas before the coronavirus arrived, spending in Washington as a percentage of GDP had remained below the heights of World War II, once the pandemic began under Trump the nation fully entered a debt crisis. And yet the Republican Party continued to ignore the problem because (per its credo) it could not be said to properly exist until a Democrat was back in the White House. Once Joe Biden was elected and Trump’s violent coup—aided in various ways many Republican politicians in Washington and the fifty states—was put down, Republicans set about trying to keep President Biden from getting America out of the hole Trump had put it in by demanding austerity at exactly the mid-pandemic moment that they knew it was unwise and would cause further harm to the country.

Fortunately, President Biden was able to pass much of his post-pandemic agenda—which, while expensive, helped the United States climb out of the pandemic and bring unemployment to its lowest level since 1969. Indeed, the American economy is now so hot that the Fed has had to work overtime to slow it down. Fears of a recession linger. It is at this sensitive time in the history of the United States, with a war in Europe and civil upheavals caused by an unprecedentedly far-right SCOTUS and a post-pandemic economy teetering on the brink of calamity that the Republican Party has decided to press a gun to the heads of all Americans on the comparatively minor issue of the debt ceiling, which, we must recall, is not a concern for the GOP (nor is federal spending generally) when one of their number is in the Oval Office. Indeed, the Republicans would soon make clear that they weren’t actually interested in fiscal responsibility by passing a debt-ceiling hike that was tied to a condition any American would’ve known in advance was going to be unacceptable to any person of common sense: specifically, the GOP now demanded that, in exchange for raising the debt ceiling in the way it did without question or tumult under Donald Trump, the entirety of Joe Biden’s domestic policy agenda (which in totality made him one of the most successful—if, inexplicably, not popular—first-term presidents in U.S. history) would have to be nixed completely.

It was not a serious proposal, but it wasn’t meant to be. It was meant as propaganda for the Republican base to spread on social media, which they now have en masse. The propaganda follows these misleading, even gaslighting talking points: (1) Republicans passed a debt-ceiling hike already (technically true, but it was devised in such a way that no politician of the party opposite could possibly have voted for it or received it as being in good faith); (2) Democrats have since “refused to negotiate” (wildly untrue, as despite knowing that he doesn’t have a good-faith negotiating partner Biden and the Democrats have made shockingly robust and persistent attempts to hammer out a deal with the men and women who admit—yes, some say so publicly—that they have taken the nation “hostage”); and (3) Democrats are responsible for the present debt crisis because the party passed the most recent spending bill in Washington before Republicans could take over (while it’s true Democrats passed a budget in December 2022 because they were obligated to do so, and while it’s true that that budget reflects the priorities of the leader of the Democratic Party as he continues to try to save America from four years of stunning mismanagement under Trump, it is yet again wildly untrue that the 2022 spending bill necessitated the current crisis, which the Republicans chose to fabricate after ignoring out-of-control spending for four years under Trump). Nevertheless, the Republicans are betting that enough independents will blame Biden for the collapse of the American economy that the GOP carefully engineered that it will help Trump get back into power in 2024—presumably so that he can do even more damage to American democracy, our economy, the ability of our government to function consistent with the U.S. Constitution, and our preparedness for dealing with myriad near-term domestic and international crises.

This is the current Default Crisis in a nutshell, and this is why I say that the present course of action elected by the Republicans is part and parcel of the insurrection it has sought to wage inside America for years. Some parts of that insurrection were of course criminal—like January 6—while others aren’t criminal but unconstitutional. Still others are neither criminal nor unconstitutional but indisputably un-American. The Republican Party would be happy to see the American government shut down—even collapse—because that is the end both its paramilitary and political fringe have now been working toward for years. One hopes that the Biden administration will see before it is too late that not only does it not have a good-faith negotiating partner (in fact, Kevin McCarthy isn’t even in control of his own party, its insurrectionist faction is) but is trying to extend his hand to people who want American democracy to expire.