Rambling ‘Woke’ Thoughts …

The United States?  Think about that one for just a minute and I dare you not to laugh.  UNITED???  In … what way?  We are divided in nearly every way imaginable.  We are divided first and foremost by political considerations, but also by skin colour, by religion, by gender and gender identification, by level of education, by social beliefs, and perhaps most of all by economic status.  You say you want to live in the “United States of America”?  Go find it … and good luck with that.

In the nearly 72 years I’ve lived in this country, I have never seen it in so much turmoil as it is today.  I remember the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, but none compare with this. Today, we hate.  We hate each other, not for any personal affront necessarily, but rather for our affiliations or our ideology.  I believe that all people deserve to be treated fairly, regardless of skin colour, religion, or gender identification.  I believe that people should be judged on their actions, not for those things over which they have no control.  I believe that any nation is only as good as the way it treats its people … ALL of its people.  For that, I am dubbed “woke” and am hated by nearly half of the people in the nation … even people who don’t know me will hate me because a) I am non-religious, b) I believe in helping people who need help, c) I do not judge people on superficial criteria, and d) I am a reasonably intelligent, well-educated woman.  How dare I have an opinion, right?

What is the purpose of government?  It’s a question that divides us.  Some, apparently, believe that the purpose of government is to elevate the wealthy, increase the nation’s production of goods and services, and … control the masses.  I, and others like me however believe that the purpose of government is a) to oversee the national security, b) to form and protect international alliances, and c) to protect all people against discrimination and poverty, and to ensure equality among all.

Two years ago, a president and his minions plotted an attempted coup to overturn a fair and honest election in which that sitting president was voted out of office.  Thanks to the diligence of law enforcement, primarily the Capitol Police and DC Metropolitan Police, the efforts were cut short of fulfilling their goal, however thus far few, if any, of those who traitorously defied their oath of office have been held accountable.  Only the foot soldiers, the not-so-bright civilians who heeded the president’s call to come to the Capitol on January 6th, have been punished, and most of those have received naught but a slap on the wrist.  Steve Bannon, Rudy Giuliani, Sydney Powell, Donald Trump, Jenna Ellis, Mike Lindell, John Eastman and numerous others, including some sitting members of Congress today still walk free.

And yet, some in this nation avidly support one of those coup plotters to be the next president of the ‘United’ States in two years.  WHERE IS THE COMMON SENSE?

Where are the intelligent thought processes?  A portion – a fairly large portion at that – of the people in this country revere those who would trample on human rights, those who prefer entertainment to seriousness of purpose.  And then there are the rest of us, those of us who value education, believe that all humans deserve to be treated fairly, that nobody should have billions of dollars while others put their children to bed crying from hunger.

Just this week …

  • Mississippi signed a bill to discriminate against transgender people
  • West Virginia’s House passed a ‘right-to-discriminate’ bill
  • Iowa’s GOP proposed a ban on same-sex marriage

And we don’t discuss our problems … no, we scream, we yell, we threaten, and ultimately we become violent.  We have one two-term representative foolishly calling for a ‘divorce’ between some imaginary division of ‘red’ states vs ‘blue’ states.  THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A RED OR BLUE STATE!  There are both conservatives, liberals, and everything in between in every damned state in this nation!  You cannot simply divide the nation with no geographical, but only ideological boundaries!  The very thought proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person, Marge Greene, who concocted this idea is stupid.  And yet … she sits in a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.  She sits on the ‘Homeland Security Committee’ for Pete’s sake!!!  The very idea that our security is in her hands keeps me from sleeping at night!

There are others, equally deprived of cognitive brain function, who are in charge of making the decisions that will affect all our lives.  We can write letters to our elected officials, we can write letters to the editor of our local paper and hope that somebody actually reads them, and we can vote … oh wait …

Voting rights are being curtailed in nearly every state in the nation, so by November 2024, we may or may not have a voice in who leads our government.  And … if our choice isn’t the one that some people want, we may have another coup … and this one just might succeed, for the plotters have learned lessons from their earlier attempt and they have not been held to account, they walk free.

Meanwhile, people are up in arms because a dozen eggs costs $3.19.  Frustrated?  Hell yes, I’m frustrated, but not about the price of eggs!  Anybody who cares about the future, about the nation, most of all about people, would be frustrated living in this country.  And on that note, I bid you good night.

“Have You No Sense Of Decency?”

My grandfather fought in WWI, my father fought in WWII … both would be absolutely horrified to see what has happened in this nation in the past decade. People whose ancestors sacrificed time, money, and self for a greater good, have now become whining, petulant adults who cannot see past the tip of their nose, and don’t bother to try.

It was 1954 when attorney Joseph Nye Welch faced then-Senator Joseph McCarthy and uttered the words that would live forever in the annals of history …

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness…. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

I pose the same words today to the likes of Representatives Kevin McCarthy, Marge Greene, Lauren Boebert, Andy Biggs, Louis Gohmert, Matt Gaetz … to candidates Herschel Walker, Kari Lake, Blake Masters, Mehmet Oz, Doug Mastriano and J.D. Vance and others … HAVE YOU NO SENSE OF DECENCY???

I’ve done some thinking over the past few days, and perhaps the best thing would be for all the aforementioned people, people without a clue how to govern “for, of, and by the people”, to actually get elected next week.  Let them show their followers, their rabid base, just how inept they are, how unqualified and inexperienced they are.  Let them make a bloody shambles of this country, and then perhaps in 2024, the ignorant will have been enlightened, the proverbial light bulbs will have come on over the heads of those who fell for the lies and rhetoric.  Perhaps then … people will have learned and will elect qualified people, whether Republican or Democrat, to office to repair the damage and clean up the mess left by McCarthy and his band of merry thugs.

Meanwhile, though, how many of us will lose our life’s savings?  How badly damaged will our relations with those we now call allies have become?  How much worse will the ravages of climate change be in two years if the Republicans have their way in rolling back all environmental regulations?  How many of us will be dead … because we couldn’t afford the insulin and other medications we require to stay alive?  How many children will have died of starvation, or seniors because their Social Security was cut, or women because they died of an ectopic pregnancy because removing the non-viable fetus would be rendered ‘murder’ in her state?  And how many asylum seekers … human beings … will have died because the U.S. refused to consider them as … human beings?

Sometimes lessons can only be learned the hard way.  Sometimes the child will only believe that the stove burner is dangerously hot after he places his hand on it and lands in the emergency room for 2nd degree burn treatments.  And sometimes, maybe you have to destroy something, burn it to the ground, before you can rebuild it from the ground up.

So, pull up a chair, bring popcorn, and watch the destruction of a nation that our ancestors once fought for.

A Lot To Think About

The New York Times has been doing a series of editorial pieces that are longer and more in-depth than the usual daily/weekly editorials.  The most recent such piece by David Leonhardt was published on Saturday and is titled A Crisis Coming’: The Twin Threats to American Democracy.

Leonhardt’s piece is excellent, but far too long for me to reproduce here in a single blog post.  Rather, I will give you a few of the highlights and a link, and I really hope you’ll find the time to read it in its entirety, for it is well worth the time spent.

A few of the main points of the article …

  • The Jan. 6 attack on Congress was only the most obvious manifestation of the movement that refuses to accept election defeat. Hundreds of elected Republican officials around the country falsely claim that the 2020 election was rigged, suggesting they may be willing to overturn a future election. “There is the possibility, for the first time in American history, that a legitimately elected president will not be able to take office,” Yascha Mounk, a political scientist, said.
  • Even many Republicans who do not repeat the election lies have chosen to support and campaign for those who do. Representative Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House leader, has gone so far as to support colleagues who have used violent imagery in public comments, such as calling for the killing of Democrats.
  • But there are also many senior Republicans who have signaled they would be unlikely to participate in an effort to overturn an election, including Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate. He recently said that the United States had “very little voter fraud.”
  • This combination suggests that the risk of an overturned election remains uncertain. But the chances are much higher than would have been fathomable until the past few years. Previous leaders of both parties consistently rejected talk of reversing an election outcome.
  • In addition to this acute threat, American democracy also faces a chronic threat: The power to set government policy is becoming increasingly disconnected from public opinion.
  • Two of the past four presidents have taken office despite losing the popular vote. Senators representing a majority of Americans are often unable to pass bills, partly because of the increasing use of the filibuster. And the Supreme Court is dominated by an ambitious Republican-appointed bloc even though Democrats have won the popular vote in seven of the past eight presidential elections — an unprecedented run of popular-vote success in U.S. history.
  • Parties in previous eras that fared as well in the popular vote as the Democrats have fared in recent decades were able to run the government and pass policies they favored. Examples include the Democratic-Republican Party of Thomas Jefferson’s time, the New Deal Democrats and the Reagan Republicans.
  • The growing disconnect from federal power and public opinion generally springs from enduring features of American government, some written into the Constitution. But these features did not conflict with majority opinion to the same degree in past decades. One reason is that less populous and more populous states tended to have broadly similar political outlooks in the past.
  • A sorting of the population in recent decades has meant that the less-populated areas given outsize influence by the Constitution also tend to be conservative, while major metropolitan areas have become more liberal. In the past, “the system was still antidemocratic, but it didn’t have a partisan effect,” said Steven Levitsky, another political scientist. “Now it’s undemocratic and has a partisan effect.”
  • Over the sweep of history, the American government has tended to become more democratic, through women’s suffrage, civil rights laws, the direct election of senators and more. The current period is so striking partly because it is one of the rare exceptions: The connection between government power and popular opinion has become weaker in recent decades.

Here is the link to Leonhardt’s excellent piece … you won’t regret it!

The President Speaks … Will the Nation Listen?

Today, President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden spoke in Buffalo, New York, regarding the horrific mass shooting on Saturday.  I, for one, am thankful to have a president who cares, as President Biden so obviously does, who attempts to bring calm in times of chaos, hope in times of despair, and unity in times of divisiveness.

One Nation, Divisible, with Liberty and Justice for Few – How the U.S. could split up

Due to my own unfortunate circumstances of late, I have not been reading many blogs, but I’m gradually working my way back into the fray. Tonight, I read Robert’s blog and I found it to be extremely well-written (as his always are) and more thought-provoking than any I’ve read in a long time. I urge you to read this from start to finish and think about the possible outcomes of our current state of division. There are no easy or particularly good solutions. Thank you, Robert, for this excellent piece of work!

The Secular Jurist

One Nation, Divisible, with Liberty and Justice for Few
How the United States of America could split up much sooner than expected
January 3, 2022

By Robert A. Vella

The United States of America is currently the longest standing democracy in the world at nearly 246 years old (as a constitutional republic, it is almost 234 years old).  The next oldest democracy is Norway at 208 years old.  That’s quite an accomplishment considering that it barely survived tearing itself to pieces during the disastrous Civil War of 1861-1865 and also the global threat to democracy posed by Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan during the catastrophic Second World War.  But, even the most optimistic Americanophiles have always known that the U.S. could not endure forever.  All countries experience multiple peaks of achievement and valleys of failure, and all of its various forms of government are inherently transitory.  Even the…

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The Choice Is Ours

The events of the past few weeks have caused me to step back, try to look at the bigger picture, try to see what’s happening here.  A friend from the UK recently said he did not know what had brought this country to this pass, but that it needs to end.  I think we can all agree that it needs to end, but … what did bring us to this pass?  How did we become such a divided nation filled with racism and hatred, intolerance and threats of resolving our differences through violence?

I do know that the racism we thought had largely ended in the 1960s with civil rights laws and integrated schools, buses, diners, etc., had merely gone into hiding.  There came a point where it became politically incorrect to express racist views, and those who dared do so were shunned.  The feelings of superiority by some whites, though, never actually went away, they just festered under the surface.  So, did we come to this pass by electing a Black man as president, not once but twice?  I’ve often thought that was the start of where we find ourselves today.  But that is a simplistic answer, and the election of President Barack Obama, while it certainly plays a role in our current situation, cannot be the entire answer.

Part of the answer, I think, comes from the uber-capitalism that has enabled some to become multi-billionaires, while others stay awake nights trying to figure out how to pay the rent and put food on the table.  In the U.S., with as many millionaires and billionaires as we have, there is no excuse for any child to go to bed hungry at night … but they do.  Single mothers work 2-3 jobs trying to make ends meet, and it’s a daily struggle, while others live in such luxury that they never have to do anything they don’t wish to do.

But what’s really puzzling is why some of those very people who struggle to manage to pay the bills are some of the most die-hard supporters of a regime that nearly worships wealth.  Trump & Co have made no secret of the fact that they have cut taxes on the wealthy, rolled back environmental and safety regulations in order to increase the profits of those already rolling in dough.  And yet, nearly half of the people in this nation – people who work hard to feed their families – still support Trump & Co.  WHY?

Why?  Because they are convinced by his rhetoric that he is their ‘president’, that the things he does are helping them.  Why are they convinced?  Because they are taken in by his fist shaking and his gutter-snipe verbosity.  They believe him when he says he has done more for Black people than any president except Abraham Lincoln.  They believe him when he promises the tax cuts were to help them, even though there is no proof in that pudding.  He has convinced them that immigrants are harmful to our society, to our economy.  They have not yet come to understand that any benefit they have gained from his policies is but a crumb compared to the benefit to the corporate giants.

People in this country want simple solutions to complex problems.  Income disparity, healthcare, education, immigration … Trump offers off-the-cuff solutions to these issues.  Take immigration, for example.  Simple solution:  impose a travel ban on people from Muslim countries and build a wall on the southern border to keep out the “rapists and murderers”.  But this completely ignores the fact that Muslims are not terrorists and Mexicans are not rapists nor murderers.  It also ignores the fact that immigrants add much of value to our country.  They bring new ideas and add cultural diversity.  To deny immigrants entry, to vilify all immigrants, is to spread racism and prejudice throughout the nation.  Those who would wish for a homogenous white, Christian, male-dominated society seek a nation that I would never choose to live in, one that would soon stagnate for lack of innovation, lack of diversity and interest.

The people of this nation are more divided today than at any other time … I would venture to say that the ideological differences in the Civil War era were not as far apart as we are today.  How did we get here?  Perhaps by being a nation of people with too much freedom, too many ‘rights’.  We have become a nation of greed, of “me first”, as evidenced by the refusal of some to wear a mask when in a public venue, claiming that mask mandates violate their civil rights.  Never mind that they are putting not only themselves, but their families, friends and co-workers at risk by exerting their ‘rights’.

Joe Biden has promised to be the president of the people – all the people, not only democrats, not only white Christians, but every man, woman, and child in the country.  He has promised to try to heal the wounds of divisiveness that have festered for the past decade, and especially the last four years.  I fully believe he will try to do exactly that, but his success depends on us … We the People must be willing to work together, to put aside petty and irrelevant differences.  Are we willing to do that?  I wish I could answer in the affirmative, but it’s rather like a loaf of moldy bread.  If there are just a few little spots of mold, you can cut them off and the bread is still good.  But, there comes a point where there is more mold than bread and you might just as well throw it out and buy a new loaf.

Unlike the moldy bread, we cannot simply throw out all the people of this nation and start over, so we have two choices:  we either learn the art of compromise, learn to embrace rather than eschew our cultural and ethnic diversity, learn to respect our fellow humans, else we will devolve into a nation of violence where it isn’t even safe to be on the streets.  We need to stop the petty bickering, need to accept that things won’t always go our way, need to learn to adapt to adversity.

It’s our choice what direction this country takes in the coming year, my friends.  Government can only do so much … the rest is up to us.  My New Year’s wish for us all is that we can build bridges instead of walls, offer friendship instead of hate, put away the guns and offer the proverbial carrot rather than the stick.  The choice is ours …

Is This Who We Are?

Often, a crisis such as a pandemic brings people together as they fight a common enemy, however the current pandemic has done the exact opposite in the U.S.  The reason it has driven us even further apart, of course, is that the ‘man’ in the Oval Office, the ‘leader’ of this nation, told people not to worry, that the coronavirus would be gone soon with minimal damage.  He then went even further, calling it a ‘democratic hoax’ and telling people not to bother with such things as wearing masks or social distancing.  Half the people in this country listened, instead, to the scientists and medical experts, but the other half listened to Trump and are now putting everyone’s lives at risk.

What follows is from a column in The Washington Post, written by Amber Elliott, a county health director in St. Francois County, Missouri, about the abuse she has taken for simply trying to save lives. It is lengthy, and I initially intended to use only a few excerpts, but as I re-read it, every word seemed important.  Please take a few minutes to read her words and consider her query:  Is this who we are?

‘This is how we treat each other? This is who we are?’

Amber-ElliottI don’t really know if I should be talking about all of this. It makes me worried for my safety. I’ve had strange cars driving back and forth past my house. I get threatening messages from people saying they’re watching me. They followed my family to the park and took pictures of my kids. How insane is that? I know it’s my job to be out front talking about the importance of public health — educating people, keeping them safe. Now it kind of scares me.

But people need to know what’s going on. It’s happening all over the country, and it’s not acceptable. I know we can do better. We have to do better.

I don’t base our whole response to this pandemic on my own opinion. That’s what makes the backlash so confusing. This job is nonpartisan. I’m not political in any way. I go off of facts and evidence-based science, and right now, all the data in Missouri is scary bad. We only have about 70,000 people in St. Francois County, but we’ve had more than 900 new cases in the last few weeks. Our positivity rate is 25 percent and rising. The hospital is already at capacity. They’ve basically run out of staff. We can’t keep up. It’s an uncontrolled spread. I have these moments when it feels like I’m a nurse at the bedside, and my patient is dying, and I’m trying every possible intervention to save them. More social distancing. More masks. More contact tracing. Warnings and more warnings. What else can we try? But in the end, it doesn’t matter how much you do. Nothing will work, because it almost seems like the patient is resisting your help.

I get the same comments all the time over Facebook or email. “Oh, she’s blowing it out of proportion.” “She’s a communist.” “She’s a bitch.” “She’s pushing her agenda.”

Okay, fine. I do have an agenda. I want disease transmission to go down. I want to keep this community safe. I want fewer people to die. Why is that controversial?

We weren’t set up well to deal with this virus in Missouri. We have the worst funding in the country for public health, and a lot of the things we’ve needed to fight the spread of covid are things we should have had in place 10 years ago. We don’t have an emergency manager. We don’t have anyone to handle HR, public information, or IT, so that’s all been me. We didn’t get extra funding for covid until last month. I’m young and I’m motivated, and I took this job in January because public health is my absolute love. It doesn’t pay well, but would I rather be treating people who already have a disease or helping to prevent it? That’s what we do. We help take care of people. At one point this summer, I worked 90 days straight trying to hold this virus at bay, and my whole staff was basically like that.

We hired 10 contact tracers to track the spread, starting in August, but the real problem we keep running into is community cooperation. We call everyone that’s had a positive test and say: “Hey, this is your local health department. We’re trying to interrupt disease transmission, and we’d love your help.” It’s nothing new. We do the same thing for measles, mumps, and tick-borne diseases, and I’d say 99 percent of the time before covid, people were receptive. They wanted to stop an outbreak, but now it’s all politicized. Every time you get on the phone, you’re hoping you don’t get cussed at. Probably half of the people we call are skeptical or combative. They refuse to talk. They deny their own positive test results. They hang up. They say they’re going to hire a lawyer. They give you fake people they’ve spent time with and fake numbers. They lie and tell you they’re quarantining alone at home, but then in the background you can hear the beeping of a scanner at Walmart.

I’ve stayed up a lot of nights trying to understand where this whole disconnect comes from. I love living in this county. I know in my heart these are good people, but it’s like we’re living on different planets. I have people in my own family who believe covid is a conspiracy and our doctors are getting paid off. I’ve done press conferences and dozens of Facebook Live videos to talk about the real science. Even with all the other failures happening, that’s the one thing we should be celebrating: better treatments, nurses and doctors on the front lines, promising news about vaccines. But the more I talk about the facts, the more it seems to put a target on my back.

“We’re tracking your movements.” “Don’t do something you’ll regret.” “We’ll protest at your house.”

The police here have been really great. The elementary school says they’re watching over my kids and they’re on high alert. I have a security system now at my house. I locked down my email and took all my family photos off of Facebook, but you start wondering: Is this worth it? Could anything possibly be worth it?

And then it got worse this fall around the whole masking issue. Our hospital was filling up, and they asked if we could do more in terms of prevention and masking. We put out a press release. We went to businesses and did trainings. We kept encouraging people to mask up, but it wasn’t working. Only about 40 percent were wearing masks, so the health board decided to push for a mask mandate. Of course I was for the idea. Of course it is the scientific, smart thing to do. But at the same time, I kept thinking: Is this going to blow up my life?

We held a public meeting in the auditorium. I knew it was going to be a circus. I gave my kids an extra hug that night and said the things you never want to have to think about. I asked the city: “Are you requiring masks in this building? Because this is a public health meeting, and that’s important.” They said yes. But, of course, the first person that walks in the door says: “I go to church here in this same building, and they don’t make me wear a mask.” So that ended up being an ordeal, and they decided to allow him in. I asked him: “Can you please, please, please social distance?” He told me no. It wasn’t: “I can’t.” It was: “Hell, no. I won’t.” It went downhill from there.

We had more than 100 people show up, and most of them spoke in opposition. We do get a lot of thank-you’s and support for our work, but those aren’t the loudest voices, so sometimes they get drowned out. Our medical providers were at the meeting in their white coats, and three of them stood up to speak on behalf of masks. These are doctors and nurses who risk their lives to treat this virus. They are shouldering the burden of this, but the crowd wouldn’t even let them talk. They booed. They yelled. Some of them had come in with guns. They were so disrespectful. I was trying to take notes for our board, and my hands started shaking. Why aren’t you listening? Why do you refuse to hear from the people who actually know about this disease and how it spreads?

The board decided to go ahead with the mandate anyway, but part of the community revolted. We did a survey a few weeks later, and mask-wearing had actually gone down by six percent. We required it, and people became more likely to do the opposite. How do you even make sense of that? We like to believe we take good care of each other here. This is rural Missouri. We pride ourselves on being a down-home community that sticks together, and now this is how we treat each other? This is who we are?

I don’t go out in public very much anymore. It’s work and then back home. I don’t want to be recognized. I don’t want my kids to see any of that hate. The one place where I had to draw the line was that my son plays baseball, and honestly, his games are the most normal I’ve felt all year. But then, a little while ago, somebody took a photo at a game of me with my daughter. We were outside and social-distanced, so we weren’t wearing masks. The photo got posted all over social media, and it was the usual comments. “Bitch.” “Communist.” “Hypocrite.” My daughter has had some anxiety. My son said to me: “Mom, why does everybody hate you?”

I went in to work the next day, and one of my nurses came to see me. She’d just had one of those nasty interactions on the phone, and she said: “I’m struggling right now. I need one of your little pep talks.” I told her: “I’m sorry, but I just don’t have it. I’m tired of this. I’m so exhausted.”

I’ve been living with that steady hum of tension and fear for almost a year, and I just can’t do it anymore. I keep saying my family is my number-one priority, so at some point I have to keep my kids safe. I decided to put in my notice earlier this month. My last day is this Friday.

I’ve already accepted another nursing job. I’m not abandoning the community. I’m going to keep fighting this pandemic, but I’d rather not say anything much more specific. I don’t want that target on my back. I’m ready to be anonymous.

Welcome to America, Where the Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Poorer

Yesterday, I wrote of my frustration with this nation’s apparent inability or unwillingness to unite — left vs right, Republican vs Democrat.  Today, Robert Reich’s column in The Guardian shows us that the divide is a calculated one, a manipulation by those with billions of dollars in their portfolio, aided and abetted by the GOP.  Reich proposes that the real division is the 1% vs 99% and that a middle ground no longer exists, nor can it.  Take a look …

Trump’s refusal to concede is just the latest gambit to please Republican donors

Robert Reich-4by Robert Reich

Millions who should be ranged against the American oligarchy are distracted and divided – just as their leaders want

Leave it to Trump and his Republican allies to spend more energy fighting non-existent voter fraud than containing a virus that has killed 244,000 Americans and counting.

The cost of this misplaced attention is incalculable. While Covid-19 surges to record levels, there’s still no national strategy for equipment, stay-at-home orders, mask mandates or disaster relief.

The other cost is found in the millions of Trump voters who are being led to believe the election was stolen and who will be a hostile force for years to come – making it harder to do much of anything the nation needs, including actions to contain the virus.

Trump is continuing this charade because it pulls money into his newly formed political action committee and allows him to assume the mantle of presumed presidential candidate for 2024, whether he intends to run or merely keep himself the center of attention.

Leading Republicans like the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, are going along with it because donors are refilling GOP coffers.

The biggest beneficiaries are the party’s biggest patrons – the billionaire class, including the heads of the nation’s largest corporations and financial institutions, private-equity partnerships and hedge funds – whom a deeply divided nation serves by giving them unfettered access to the economy’s gains.

Their heist started four decades ago. According to a recent Rand study, if America’s distribution of income had remained the same as it was in the three decades following the second world war, the bottom 90% would now be $47tn richer.

A low-income American earning $35,000 this year would be earning $61,000. A college-educated worker now earning $72,000 would be earning $120,000. Overall, the grotesque surge in inequality that began 40 years ago is costing the median American worker $42,000 per year.

The upward redistribution of $47tn wasn’t due to natural forces. It was contrived. As wealth accumulated at the top, so did political power to siphon off even more wealth and shaft everyone else.

Monopolies expanded because antitrust laws were neutered. Labor unions shriveled because corporations were allowed to bust unions. Wall Street was permitted to gamble with other people’s money and was bailed out when its bets soured even as millions lost their homes and savings. Taxes on the top were cut, tax loopholes widened.

When Covid-19 hit, big tech cornered the market, the rich traded on inside information and the Treasury and the Fed bailed out big corporations but let small businesses go under. Since March, billionaire wealth has soared while most of America has become poorer.

How could the oligarchy get away with this in a democracy where the bottom 90% have the votes? Because the bottom 90% are bitterly divided.

Long before Trump, the GOP suggested to white working-class voters that their real enemies were Black people, Latinos, immigrants, “coastal elites”, bureaucrats and “socialists”. Trump rode their anger and frustration into the White House with more explicit and incendiary messages. He’s still at it with his bonkers claim of a stolen election.

The oligarchy surely appreciates the Trump-GOP tax cuts, regulatory rollbacks and the most business-friendly supreme court since the early 1930s. But the Trump-GOP’s biggest gift has been an electorate more fiercely split than ever.

Into this melee comes Joe Biden, who speaks of being “president of all Americans” and collaborating with the Republican party. But the GOP doesn’t want to collaborate. When Biden holds out an olive branch, McConnell and other Republican leaders will respond just as they did to Barack Obama – with more warfare, because that maintains their power and keeps the big money rolling in.

The president-elect aspires to find a moderate middle ground. This will be difficult because there’s no middle. The real divide is no longer left versus right but the bottom 90% versus the oligarchy.

Biden and the Democrats will better serve the nation by becoming the party of the bottom 90% – of the poor and the working middle class, of black and white and brown, and of all those who would be $47tn richer today had the oligarchy not taken over America.

This would require that Democrats abandon the fiction of political centrism and establish a countervailing force to the oligarchy – and, not incidentally, sever their own links to it.

They’d have to show white working-class voters how badly racism and xenophobia have hurt them as well as people of color. And change the Democratic narrative from kumbaya to economic and social justice.

Easy to say, hugely difficult to accomplish. But if today’s bizarre standoff in Washington is seen for what it really is, there’s no alternative.

Filosofa’s Mind Meanderings

I am in a pensive mood tonight, rather saddened and disgusted by what I see people doing.  Y’know … Donald Trump is to blame for a lot … I could spend this entire post pointing out the things for which he should be held to account, but he isn’t responsible for our own behaviour … only we can be held to account for what we say and do, for how we treat others.  It is true that Trump has encouraged much of what is happening, has praised white supremacists, denigrated democrats, Muslims, Jews, women and a whole laundry list of others.  But, at the end of the day, I am responsible for the things I have done … nobody else.

I read an article this evening in The Week

A municipal worker in Michigan required 13 stitches after moving a Trump lawn sign rigged with razor blades.  The sign was closer to the roadway than permitted by local ordinance, town Supervisor Dave Scott said, and when the worker put his hands on it, he initially “thought it was electrified,” and then “realized he was bleeding aggressively.”  The homeowner has denied doing the boobytrapping.

And this isn’t the first time.  The same thing happened in Texas in November 2016, just a few days before the election.  Who does such a thing?  What if a small child or animal had been the one to discover the treachery?  Does the person who did this even have a conscience?

I read John Pavolitz’ post from a few days ago titled Good People Aren’t Voting For Him A Second Time, and I found the following particularly relevant …

I often hear people say, “I’m a good person and I’m proudly voting for Donald Trump again.”

I now consider that an oxymoron.

I don’t believe any good people are voting for this president a second time—or they are in complete rebellion against goodness as they do.

I believe that act is fundamentally antithetical to anything good.

There are things good people simply don’t do:

Good people don’t ignore the assassinations of unarmed black men.

Good people don’t vilify and attack the peaceful protestors of those murders.

Good people don’t create phony ANTIFA conspiracies, just to avoid saying that Black Lives Matter.

Good people don’t incite armed crowds to “liberate” state capitols over protections designed to save lives.

Good people don’t make fun of mask wearers, when life is in the balance.

Good people don’t tear gas citizens for a transparent church door Bible photo op.

Good people don’t defend murderous white vigilantes.

Good people don’t discard people while protecting property.

Good people don’t justify kneeling on a black man’s neck for eight minutes until he expires.

Good people don’t demonize a black woman for being executed in her bedroom in the middle of the night.

Good people don’t repeatedly deny the severity of a murderous virus, knowing people will die while he does.

Good people don’t call veterans losers and suckers.

Good people don’t stammer and deflect when asked to denounce white supremacist organizations live in front of the nation.

Good people don’t take away healthcare from hundreds of millions in the throes of a pandemic.

Good people don’t pounce on the corpse of a Supreme Court Justice after an election has already begun, just to take away a woman’s right to autonomy over her own body and appease religious zealots.

Good people don’t hold unmasked rallies while cases flare wildly, after themselves having a virus they were saved from.

Good people don’t lie as easily as breathing, or make a mockery of a religion they have no interest in, or treat people of color and women as property, or disregard the systems and laws of this land because power and complicit enablers allow it.

And good people, regardless of how good they claim to be—don’t encourage or embrace or support or elevate such people.

They simply don’t.

And yet, pick up a newspaper or look at an online news source and you will find example after example of people who seem intent on putting down or harming others.  WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE???

I have long said that Donald Trump is merely a symptom of a larger, underlying problem, and this is being proven on a daily basis.  When a town’s sheriff says it was okay for a group of people to plot the kidnapping of the state’s governor simply because she implemented safeguards to protect those very people, we’ve got a far bigger problem than we first thought.  And we all know, I think, that the problem will not simply disappear on January 20th when Joe Biden is inaugurated into office.

Every Wednesday, I write about good people who are doing things large and small to help others in some way.  I haven’t run out of those ‘good people’ yet, so we know they’re here, but they are overshadowed by those who commit heinous acts like putting razor blades on yard signs or applaud the killing of Black people or condone putting children in cages simply because they were not born in this country.

Today, I am not proud to be a citizen of this country, I am not proud of the people who, rather than make their voices heard in a peaceful manner, use violence to get their point across.  I am not proud that we have a government that condones what is happening in our society today.  I, like many of you, have tried to use my blog to make changes, to be the voice of reason (most of the time, anyway), to show people why certain things are wrong, even unacceptable in a civil society.  But it seems that the people who most need our message simply aren’t getting it.

We are becoming … or perhaps have become … a nation of selfish, greedy people who put their own interests ahead of the greater good without a thought, without a pang of conscience.  Those who engage in violence or acts of cruelty and  claim they are acting as their religion tells them to are the worst of the lot, for their religion is Hypocrisy.

I think we will have a new president in just over three months, and new leadership in the Senate, and all of that is good.  Joe Biden will do his level best to unite the people of this country.  But, if people continue to hate for little or no reason, he will not be successful.  We the People must look inside ourselves and ask some tough questions.  We the People are the only ones who can change what we have become, and if we don’t do it, then we cannot work together to make this a good place for our children and grandchildren.

I end with more words from John Pavlovitz’ post that reflect my own thoughts …

Goodness is not a matter how good you imagine you are.
It is not a matter of what you claim to believe.
It is not something you possess simply because you desire to possess it.

Goodness is determined by the way you move through this world: a world that is either more or less loving and compassionate and equitable and kind because of your presence and your decisions.

What kind of animals have we become?

Every day in this country we see examples in the news of people who seem to be without values, lacking integrity, and we ask ourselves, “What is wrong with the people of this country???” Today, Larry asks that question in response to two truly jaw-dropping events in the past week. Are we becoming a nation of fools who have no values whatsoever? Thank you, Larry, for expressing what I think the majority of people are thinking … SIGH.