I listen to the various pundits on all the news stations and newspapers going on and on about what Democrats need to do to win the midterm elections. They all have a variation of the same theme. They must have a “message.” They can’t just say “Hey we are better than that asshole Trump and those fucking Republicans.”
They need to be for something, like universal health care, a 15-dollar minimum wage, not ripping innocent children from their parents for the crime of trying to come to America for a better life. But here’s the thing.
That’s bullshit. I completely disagree. We have moved far beyond arguing about political policy. We need to run on what kind of human beings we are in this country.
It’s really simple.
Are we, as Americans, decent human beings? Or are we dicks?
It turns out that over the last two years we have found out there are a frighteningly large number of Americans who are unimaginably horrible dicks.
If you think ripping a baby from a mother or father and then sending it to another state without any way of keeping track of who the baby belongs to or where it went is OK, you’re a dick.
If you are horrified by this and you didn’t believe such a thing was possible in America, you’re a decent human being.
If you think white supremacists and Nazis are good people, you’re a dick.
If you think a white supremacist running down innocent protesters with his car and killing at least one is bad, you’re a decent human being. Side note: NAZIS ARE BAD.
If you are a white person who calls the police because
1 – A black family is barbecuing in a public park
2 – A black fireman is doing fire safety checks in his own neighborhood
3 – A black state representative is going door to door talking to her constituents
4 – A black woman is at a community pool to which she belongs
5 – A black man is wearing socks at a public swimming pool
you’re a racist dick.
Oddly, most of the dicks who called the police on these people were women. Turns out
You don’t need a prick to be a dick.
That might make a pretty good bumper sticker or tee-shirt.
If this stuff both surprises and appalls you, you’re a decent human being.
I’ve been covering elections for CBS since Nixon. In every election, both sides always say the same thing. “This is the most important election of our lives.”
And we all go, “yeah, sure, whatever.” But this time, for the first time in my life, I agree. We, as a country, are at an honest-to-God existential crossroad. We are being governed by the largest group of horrible dicks in modern history.
And we are being led by the biggest dick of all, the twidiot-in-chief.
So, please, get out and vote this November.
Be a decent human being.
Don’t be a dick. There are way too many of them out there already.
In many ways, the nightmare we are currently experiencing is a continuation of what went before. None of this came out of “nowhere.” We’ve had bad presidents and even some of our good presidents were not all that great. We have plundered the earth and made money the beginning and end of all things. Greed is God.
We worship money. We’ve been watching “Luke Cage” on Netflix and his comment that “The only thing that gets respect is money” is disgustingly true. You can be any color you want including pink with yellow polka-dots, but if you don’t control a few billion dollars, you aren’t going to get real respect.
Given our passion for money, why not elect a buffoon for whom greed and the power it gives him has been his all-consuming goal his entire life? We’ve been heading this way for a long time. We didn’t understand where this direction would take us.
Europe hit some kind of long-held target when it rounded up everyone they didn’t like and killed them. When World War II was finished, there were no foreigners or Jews or Romany left. They were dead. The perils of the world have changed the scenario, but the plundering of the earth to create the mess it’s in now didn’t start in the U.S.
The Rhone, the Rhine, and the Thames were flowing sewerage long before the U.S. even got its industrial revolution in gear.
It doesn’t take a hundred years. It doesn’t even take a lifetime. In these hyper speedy days, with ultra-fast communications, it can take virtually no time. It took Germany a decade, but we’ve gotten there much faster.
Our rise to power wasn’t unilateral. We needed help and we got it by — you guessed it — immigration. We imported Europeans who knew how to build the mills and sluice the waste into our rivers. We couldn’t have done it without your help. Thanks, guys!
When you start to throw dirt around, make sure you let some stick to you. This world is one world. Nothing happens independently without collaboration. Despite that America has probably the worst goon and buffoon in office, Australia, Canada and many countries in Europe are not far behind. The hatred we spew is being spewed on every continent and in many languages.
The U.S. is not alone. If you think we are, you should look around. Read your own newspapers and think about your own government. All those things about which you are so proud and which took years to build can be stripped away so fast you won’t have time to say “what happened.” You’ve done it before, you can do it again.
Let us show set you an example. After all, you already dragged us into two world wars. Maybe it’s our turn to show you how evil a government can be. Continue indeed. Yes, let’s do that. Let us continue. It is amazing how little we seem to learn from history, isn’t it?
Are you going to continue too? You had Hitler and Mussolini. Are you getting ready for your next set of dictators? It took very little to overthrow Germany and a lot other countries helped Germany along. They didn’t think all that hatred was such a bad thing. They didn’t like Those People either.
Forgive me, dear overseas friends, but it’s time to look around at the whole picture. England pulled out of the European trade union before we got around to installing the orange moron in the White House. There were hate riots in Europe before we even got started on our 2016 election. Hatred didn’t start here.
It has always been with us. Always. Here, there, and everywhere.
If we get to start a world war, it’ll be our first.
If you think this is going to be political, it’s not. It is me and me, today. There are days when my body doesn’t fit me. This is one of those days.
How can that be? A doctor long ago told me I will never die.
“Why not?” I asked.
“You have so many chronic ailments, they will keep you alive.”
I thanked him for that. It’s one of the days when no part of me fits any other part. It’s like my physical me is just a bunch of mismatched old parts, clanking around an aging pickup truck.
AND the television people are coming while it looks a bit like rain may fall. I need to get through the day alive. Lucky that I was functional yesterday.
This day would have been a real humdinger if I felt then as I feel now. Yoicks.
I actually have not one but TWO copies of “Stranger in a Strange Land” in this house. An old hard-cover copy and I have it as an audiobook. When it was written, it sounded completely outlandish. I’m not sure how it’ll sound these days, but I think maybe I’ll reread it.
Do you remember when we competed to get the “Freshly Pressed” award? When there was a weekly prompt that they actually read and supposedly “judged” for quality and uniqueness?
Remember when one day, it vanished? We didn’t even get a marketing letter about that one. It vanished and never returned and Freshly Pressed went with it.
Can you recall when we got little prizes and bonuses for however many views we got … or the number of “likes” or “follows”? That was when blogging was what the platform was about. Almost every author I followed had an active blog on Word Press.
Gradually, all of that has dribbled away. With dissolving the last of it including the Daily Prompt which has got to be the most effortless prompt in creation (and is probably done by a generating app in someone’s laptop), they’ve taken a platform famed for its connectivity and unique friendliness and dropped to see if they can make two billion next year on top of the billion they got this year.
I know everyone says that “WordPress is free,” but how many of you do NOT pay a fee to upgrade your site? Most of us pay. It’s not the $49.99 a month they want for their business site, but most of us don’t have that kind of money and what’s more, we aren’t businesses. Authors, artists. Thoughtful people with ideas to share. Painters with art. Musicians.
Religious people and atheists share a platform and manage to communicate with each other in a world where this kind of communication is almost unheard of.
I would like to think that somehow, WordPress will still be the same place it used to be, but I doubt it. In every other blogging site where they have wrenched the soul out of it in the name of somehow making a lot more money, the results have been catastrophic. Most of those sites are gone — entirely. The rest have become something so different no one recognizes them. Remember when Reddit was the “hot spot” to get your work recognized? They changed it and now, it’s no kind of hot spot. No one cares if their material is there. It doesn’t matter.
Now, it’s all about monetizing your site. Monetizing? I am retired. I don’t sell anything. When I was selling things, I had a commercial site on a commercial marketing platform. I paid my way along with all the other business sites. In 2008, when our economy crashed, I ended that business. It was not a good business for those financial times.
I missed the extra money, but I was done with business. Meanwhile, I had been blogging a little here and there. GeoCities (remember when Yahoo did something?) and Storyline (I think that was the name — they sold themselves to Facebook which promptly dissolved them; they are gone). There some others until I hooked onto WordPress and found a home.
There were good years — 2012 through 2014 — and then they started urging us to make money. They would help us. Which was interesting because before that, it was illegal to try to make money on your site. We were bloggers, not businesses. Our goal was to talk about art and books and ideas. To be thoughtful, intelligent, creative.
Now … what will it be? If we aren’t bloggers – thoughtful and creative – then this is another Ruby Lane where businesses line up on a platform and everyone sells whatever they’ve got. I’m not a business. I’m not going to be a business. If I wrote another book, I could publicize it, but that’s not a “business” and anyway, writers don’t have a lot of spare change.
So this is a retrospective to what this platform was and I wish would remain. It is a sad farewell to something which is about to start its long slide to nothing special.
Should WordPress — against all odds — create a business audience out of 12-million bloggers (something no other organization has yet done), it won’t be “our” WordPress, just be another business platform.
Worse, it’s doomed to failure because this isn’t that audience. I keep saying it. The first and possibly ONLY rule of marketing is “KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.”
WordPress doesn’t get that.
I am linked to many of you as followers and vice versa. If you get my emails indicating I’ve posted, we will stay in touch. There are a lot of people trying to figure out a more direct way to keep in touch. I’m on top of that.
In the meantime it turns out money is what matters, forever and through all eternity. Ah-men.
Being Jewish is a religion, but for many of us, it isn’t only a religion. In fact, for a lot for us, Judaism isn’t religious at all, but rather a commitment to a lifestyle. It entails a wide range of ethical and moral beliefs.
One of the things it includes — if you are of my generation — is a lingering belief that all non-Jews are secretly your enemy, no matter what they say to your face. This remains true even when you are married to a Christian and got married in a Christian church. And your kids don’t even consider themselves Jewish. Somewhere inside, some little piece of you is screaming “Remember the Inquisition and the Holocaust.”
It’s an angry and frightened little voice, always alarmed and ready to grab the Torah (like I own a real Torah, right?) and run for the caves.
My kids don’t have this voice in their heads or this fear because I did not bathe them in the blood of our tortured ancestors or the piles of corpses from the Holocaust. I didn’t push this on them because I thought it was time to let it go and move on.
My mother was an atheist. She did not believe in God or gods. Her bonds to Judaism were entirely ethnic and tribal. So are mine … but ethnicity and a fondness for our cuisine isn’t something one can always pass along.
Regardless, Judaism is a religion. When you are ethnically Jewish but practice no aspect of the religion, what do you pass to your children other than recipes and a totally irrational fear of non-Jews.
Your ethical and moral commitments can stand on their own. They don’t need a religious attachment. They ought to be a part of the mental armament of any sane person. Religious or not, you ought to know the difference between right and wrong.
I didn’t pass this on to my kid or grandchild because I thought it was time to end the terror and move on to a different world.
These days, though, I wonder if maybe I was precipitous. Just because I thought the danger ended, it reared up its monstrous little fanged head again. And suddenly, safety is not so safe.
Maybe it’s about more than recipes for matzoh balls. Hatred appears to live a lot longer than I imagined possible.
Last night, I got a note explaining that all my problems with WordPress deleting my site from the search engine along with all five writers — and 200 other followers who turned up missing yesterday — is because I do not write well enough. I am not generating enthusiasm by writing about exciting new subjects.
Apparently all the problems are actually MY fault. By not protecting the title of my blog and deleting me and the other writers and making us disappear from the engine (for what is now nearly three months) — that had nothing to do with it.
It’s all my fault. I’m not good enough.
I can’t begin to explain how this makes me feel. I’m not sure whether my primary emotion is anger or hurt. Or both. I do know that I’m not in any mood to write at the moment, so forgive me. I need to back off for a while.
At this point, I don’t know what to do or what I want to do. It’s not that I don’t love you all because I do — but I feel so damaged. In all of this, with all the reports and the back and forth with engineers, to be told there was no problem, never was a problem, and it was all my failure to write well enough to keep my audience.
Well. If that’s true, I have nothing more to give, so I’ll just slink off into my cave until I feel better about life.
I apologize to anyone I should be talking to. I just don’t feel like chatting right now.
I’ve been watching the Republicans trying to convince themselves and the world, yet again, that 2 + 2 = 5. An overtly political Republican Congressional memo was released recently that clearly states “A”. However, it is being touted as proof that “A” is false. Most of the country has not been taken in, but a majority of Republicans have been.
This is just the most recent example of a Republican misinformation campaign. This one is designed to prove that the entire intelligence community, all 17 agencies in the government, are all biased, corrupt and working together to overthrow the Trump government. This is a ludicrous, far-fetched and dangerous idea.
But so was the popular right-wing conspiracy theory about the Newtown School massacre. The conpiracists claimed that the massacre never really happened. Actors were hired to make it look real. It was faked to make Second Amendment gun advocates look bad. Hard to believe that people actually bought into this craziness. But many Republicans did.
Whatever happened to the rubric, ‘When you hear hooves, assume horses, not zebras’? What kind of person is willing, if not eager, to believe the convoluted conspiracy theory rather than the simple reality? Do you have to be somewhat paranoid yourself to believe this shit? Can you just be a low information person who never goes anywhere near critical thought?
I think you have to believe that people are horribly nefarious and at least a little bit out to get you. But you also have to so desperately want to cling to your beliefs that you will buy into anything that allows you to keep them, untarnished.
I strongly believe what I believe. But I critically evaluate the information I’m given both for and against my positions. I would get no comfort from a flimsy, outlandish theory that could not be verified, just because it bolstered my world view. I would analyze it and reject it as false or unsubstantiated. And move on.
So we’re back to what makes me reject the ridiculous theory and others embrace it. Maybe it’s that my most fervent belief is in the existence of absolute facts. I believe that there is a way to determine, definitively, what is real and what isn’t. Maybe others have a looser definition of ‘truth’ than I do. Maybe others don’t care if something is true once they choose to believe it.
Have you ever watched “America’s Got Talent”, or any other talent show? There are people out there who genuinely think they are great singers or dancers, or whatever. And they are, in fact, horrible. So horrible that they get booed by a huge audience and eviscerated by a panel of judges. Yet most of these performers leave the stage believing that everyone is wrong about them. That nobody sees or ‘gets’ their true talent.
That may be the answer to my question. People have a great capacity for self-deception. Particularly when there is a deep seeded need to perpetuate that deception.
People don’t want to be bothered informing themselves and finding actual facts to back up their beliefs. They just want to ‘feel’ that they know what they’re talking about, that they understand the world around them. Most important, people want to ‘believe’ that they are 100% right about their beliefs.
Everyone wants to think they are smart and have a good sense of humor. So they just ‘believe’ it. And they live happily ever after.
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