Twilight’s End

The United States has been falling into an authoritarian twilight for years now, decades, since Nixon and Kevin Phillips created the Southern Strategy to appeal to white racist southern voters. The election of Trump is not the beginning of the end but it is the end of the beginning of the rise of something terrible and cruel in North America.

I’ve said since the night of the 2016 presidential election that the US died that night, and what we’ve been watching since is the maggots feeding on the corpse. But maggots can only go so far.

Soon, something truly evil will arise in place of what once was the United States. It will carry the same name, but it will look and behave nothing like the America into which I was born.

With the elevation of the highly partisan and screaming-shouting-crying man-baby, Brett Kavanaugh, to the Supreme Court, the right wing now sits poised to gut the Voting Rights Act completely, to uphold voter suppression laws, and to ultimately attack the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This became apparent clear back in 2015 when a GOP pastor, when pressed about an equal rights ordinance in Texas to which she objected because it protected transgender people, also admitted that she believes she has the right to discriminate against Jews, Blacks, anyone, so long as it is “religiously motivated”.

Here is the video of that.  She has to be pressed but finally admits that, yes, discriminating against Jews should be allowed for “sincerely held religious beliefs”. If that doesn’t terrify you, then you’re not thinking clearly or you’re one of those who want to persecute minorities. This is the end game of the “religious freedom” lie – where they carve out “sincerely held religious belief” exemptions to federal laws across the board.

So this is a long running right wing agenda. They tried to vilify gays and failed. But now they have vilified trans people, all trans people, to create a fear based wedge issue to drive ignorant voters to the polls, to give them the power they seek. Their first step will not to be attack protected classes under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Instead, they will attack trans people as the “wedge” issue. Once they win against trans people (and they will win with Roberts, Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, and Kavanaugh), that becomes precedent about “religious freedom”.

Next, they will circle back to gays, because gays are not covered either. That will give them the precedent reinforced by a second case. After that, they’ll start coming after protected classes named in law. My bet is the first class will be religion, but they’ll hide that as an attack against Muslims, again, because of “sincerely held religious beliefs”. Kavanaugh and Gorsuch will be the most likely authors of the majority opinion then. They will make spurious claims about America being a “Christian” nation, about the founders “not intending” to protect religions other than Christianity. They will do whatever pretzel logic they need to get that critical break into the 1964 Civil Rights Act wall of protection. That’s why I believe Muslims will be targeted first, because of the fear that right wingers can generate about Muslims.

Once they reach that point, they’ve now created precedent that allows exemptions to the 1964 Civil Rights Act for reasons of “religious freedom”. Further exemptions, against blacks, women, etc. Remember the “Curse of Ham” biblical teachings that were used by white Christian southerners to justify treating people of color as sub-human? That will be dragged out of the cesspool once again and become a “sincerely held religious belief” because the bible says so, right? Likewise with subordinating women, firing women, refusing them access to birth control of any kind, and taking their other rights away as well.

People point to winning the mid-terms as how to stop this. I ask them “How does that work?” They mumble asinine things about “impeachment”. The House can impeach but if the Senate fails to vote to remove, the impeachment has no effect. Removal from office requires 67 Senate votes. Even if Democrats win every single Senate race in 2018, we still only end up with 53 or so senators. Do any of you seriously believe that 14 Republicans will vote to remove Donald Trump? So Trump is staying, at least to 2020, and probably beyond since Republicans will have two years of the Kavanaugh/Gorsuch court to seal the deal on even more voter suppression laws.

But let’s say Democrats get the mother of all wins in 2020. They get the Senate, the House, the Presidency. What then? Every liberal law they pass will immediately get challenged to the right wing Supreme Court. That court will stand on its head, if need be, to void liberal laws. So Democrats won’t be able to do anything effective. And then when Republicans eventually get power back, and they will, they will continue taking us down the path to the nation of Gilead, as described in The Handmaid’s Tale.

You think I jest? Conservatives at CPAC, one of the largest and most important conservative political conferences, now even have white males argues in favor of slavery again. Men argue women should have never been given the right to vote and those are conservative men making that argument. They belittle sexual assault survivors. Here’s conservative darling, William Bennett, telling women who are sexual assault survivors to “be quiet” and “have you no shame?” as he taunts them.

The religious right wing in America has publicly and clearly stated their agenda, many times. Separation of the races, oppression of women because “the bible says so”, the complete recriminalization of  anything about being LGBT, and driving LGBT out of visible sight in society.  Todd Kincannon, former executive director of the South Carolina GOP, said “There are people who respect transgender rights. And there are people who think you should all be put in a camp. That’s me.” NOTE: Kincannon’s Twitter account was suspended over this so you can’t find the original tweets anymore, although they’ve been capture in screenshots and articles. But guess what? Not one single other Republican called this hateful message out! Not one. Not one single Republican. None of them would say that such a thing was hateful and wrong.  You know that many of them are thinking the same thing when none of them have the courage to say that’s terrible and wrong.

So here we are. Twilight has been coming over America for about 50 years now. With each successive Republican administration, more vile and evil things come to pass. The authoritarian Patriot Act? Republicans overwhelmingly support that every time it comes up. Some Democrats do as well but the majority have not. That should give you a sense of who the real authoritarians are. And now we have Trump, thanks to privileged voters who refused to stand against Trump and who get angry when you call them out for their culpability in this ongoing national disaster. Kids in cages, thousands of lies from Trump, sometimes more than a dozen daily, factually wrong, easily refuted lies. LGBT people’s rights are under assault. Women’s rights to control their own bodies are under assault. Voting rights of minority voters are under assault. The environment is under assault. Middle class wages continue to fall as the ultra rich pocket more and more of the nation’s wealth. And all of that is precisely as Republicans intend it to be.

I’m sorry to tell you this, but even if we win in 2018, all we’ve bought is a small bit of time, nothing more. Twilight is almost done. And someday soon, you will wake up and instead of the twilight, you will have to face the thousand year night.

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The Rise of Fascism In America

Some of us have been discussing this since Trump was elected. Many of you out there have claimed that we’re reacting too strongly, that we’re not plausible, that we just “don’t like” Trump, and a million other excuses.

TrumpApologists

You can stop trying now. You Trump supporters need to look in the mirror. You are supporting concentration camps on US soil.

Let that sink in. You are supporting fascism in America.  And you are doing it willingly. Your protests at this point ring rather hollow since we told you before that this would happen! And you ignored it.

Warned in advance, you instead bowed down to the right wing talking heads, who lied to you repeatedly, and who even now refuse to stand up against Trump. “Trump’s media allies struggle to mold coherent defense of his immigration policy” reads the headline. And they can’t, really, because there is no coherent defense of actions that are intended to lead to genocide.

I can say that evangelical pastors seem to finally be standing up against Trump, but they were fine with everything else. They were fine with persecuting LGBT people. They were fine with Republicans openly talking about “camps” for Muslims. They were fine with persecuting Hispanics or anyone else with skin darker than their own.

But the children! This is where their “pro-life” lies hit the road. They don’t want those kids separated from their parents but they do want them deported, even though seeking asylum is not a crime!

None of those people were “illegal immigrants”. They were asylum seekers. And Jeff Sessions just declared that rampant violence and murder in your home nation are no longer valid reasons to request asylum in the US.

And Ted Cruz? He’s not trying to solve this in a humane manner. His proposal to add hundreds of immigration judges is just an attempt to clear the issue from the campaign trail, so he won’t have to talk about it in a race in Texas where Cruz might lose because of outraged Hispanic voters.

The interesting thing is to note that Trump opposes Cruz’s “solution”. Why would he do that? Because he wants the terror, fear, and confusion that his policy is currently creating. He wants threatened people fearful so they shut up. He wants allies of those threatened to also be afraid, so they might shut up as well. And he wants as many others to be outraged because he mistakes outrage for control.

He’s right, in a sense, because if your outrage does not have you right now questioning the legitimacy of the current US government, then your morality is sadly lacking.

We have Jeff Sessions openly talking about finding a “permanent solution” to the “immigration crisis”. Do you even understand how eerily close to Heinrich Himmler this sounds? I’ll tell you now that soon Trump and his cronies will be talking about how “expensive” holding these kids are, even as Fox News runs photos of immigrant children playing with toy guns and claiming the kids are a “threat” to society. They’re going to guilt white America over higher taxes needed to pay for this terror campaign, and white America will gladly oblige and demand no more spending!

What then? If you can’t provide them shelter, food, clothing, and medical care, what is the alternative? Why, to “dispose” of them, of course. We’ll see what euphemism they choose for this atrocity, but make no mistake, Stephen Miller, a known white supremacist and neo-Nazi is the man in the White House driving this bus. And he’s made it very clear he wants brown people expunged from the US completely, by any means possible.

Yet you, Republican voters, won’t vote for a Democrat because they’re “liberals”, as if that’s some dirty word, even as your own party commits atrocity after atrocity and gets worse with each passing week. You’ll believe that somehow you can change Trump’s direction, but you can’t. And by the time the terror has reached your doorstep, it will be too late, won’t it?

I am reminded of the words of JRR Tolkien, that he wrote for Gandalf the Grey, in The Lord of the Rings, when speaking to Frodo about frightening times in which to live.  “’I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’”

And that is what we now face. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’” We must decide, and soon, and once we start down that road, there will be no turning back, because down that road we may face the choice that standing up for what is right, to stand against the persecution and murder of the innocent, could cost us our lives too.

Mass Shootings and Society

The shooter wasn’t mentally ill in Florida. florida-shooting-new-gallery1

He was pure rage, uncontrolled.

His primary rage appears directed at his ex-girlfriend, who dumped him. He jumped her new boyfriend and assaulted him which is how he got expelled.

He also had rage against Jewish people who make up almost half the students in that district, a rage fueled by white supremacist groups that are known to be anti-Semitic.

He was not mentally ill. He was angry, to the point of rage. We need to stop confusing rage with mental illness.

We already recognize unbridled rage as bad. We have religions, many of them, that admonish about controlling one’s temper, about the evils of letting rage and emotion control your actions.

Society already knows this is bad. But in a pseudo-scientific way, to make it try to sound scientific, we want to label something that is not mental illness as mental illness, because we do not want to take responsibility for it!

If it’s mental illness, it’s not society’s (white people’s) fault that young white males do this.

Here’s news for 21st century America – yeah, it IS your fault. Part of this is the outgrowth of 400+ years obsession with warfare, violence, misogyny, conquest, and genocide. Part of this is the outgrowth of a few thousand years of patriarchal male dominated ownership of women as sex objects.

But white supremacist patriarchal society does not want to take responsibility for the fruits of 400+ years of colonialism, patriarchy, genocide, and obsession with conquest and warfare. That is the United States, in a nutshell.

To be responsible for those things means society could change those things, might even need to change those things, but if they can instead blame a factor beyond society’s control, then society doesn’t have to change, does it?

But, by laying the problem at the feet of mental illness, white, male controlled society washes its hands of the problem, and then pretends it can go on being patriarchal, genocidal, misogynistic, and obsessed with conquest and warfare.

If these are the fruits of society’s CHOICES, then society could change and alter those fruits. By pushing it off on mental illness, society is trying to pretend that what happens is no one’s fault.

That is what you are seeing happen around you right now.

December 1st, 2017

A dear friend just lost her mother this week. I lost mine in early December five years ago. It’s odd. As I get older, I find more and more difficult memories accruing around the Thanksgiving to New Year’s time frame. Or maybe the ones that happen in this time frame just hurt a little bit more.

I’ve never really gotten over the death of my mother. I don’t think I ever will. I’ve learned to live with it, to remember her daily, but “getting over it” is not something I anticipate ever happening.

December also marks five years and four months estrangement from my sons, and their children. I don’t know why they think I deserve to be ostracized like this, but they do, for some unknown reasons. But what I most regret is not being able to see three of my grandchildren grow up, to participate in their lives, to get to know them, talk to them, to try to be there for them. That, however, has been denied to me.

I suppose, while I am aware of that every single day, it stings a bit more at this time of year, when families would otherwise be planning to get together, to spend time together, to laugh, enjoy one another’s company, eat, and tell stories together. I was never much for games, especially loud boisterous games, because of my hearing loss, but I do miss being able to sit and chat with people, to share experiences, and to listen to those children.

I hope, somehow, someday, that those three grandchildren realize that I was not the one who walked out on them, but that their parents pushed me away, closed the door, and locked it, with me on the outside looking in. I hope they don’t hold that against me, because it was not my choice, but that of their parents.

And so, at this time of year, when I consider other losses, this is one set of losses that I hope someday might be reversed, that I can do more than just wish Happy Holidays from afar, that I can share this time of year with three beautiful young lives.

If I can make just one wish this holiday season, it would be for families to not turn away someone who loves them. I don’t expect it to ever happen, but I can wish, can’t I?

Happy Holidays, everyone. May the season be joyous and full for you and yours, wherever you are.