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TygrBright

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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 14,616

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#RNCinCLE: America's Red Hour

It is rumored that tonight, Republican nominee for President Donald J. Trump is going to pull out all the stops to remind those in the audience of how terrible they have it and why voting for him is the only answer.

I've had a hard time understanding the Trump phenomenon all along. I'm reasonably savvy about both history and sociology, and I do grasp the basic strategy that got the Republican Party to this point. If you mong enough fear to release the Inner Terrified Predator of your desired electorate, focus them on appropriate scapegoat(s), then promise to hand the scapegoats to them all hogtied and ready for a bloody kicking by those Inner Terrified Predators, you build a hella momentum.

But... Trump?

The solons of the GOP knew the weakness as well as the strength of that strategy. It's how they got so good at the Dog Whistle. There's not enough of any one type of voter for this strategy to work without obfuscating it behind the nudge-nudge, wink-wink that will allow several different segments of the electorate to feel the fear of the Awful Other, all at the same time. You have to keep what would otherwise be natural opponents of one another all riding in the same cart.

Your out-of-work middle-aged blue-collar stiffs, your misogynistic alt-right manboys, your retirees piously wistful for the never-was Mayberry of their fading memories, your wannabe Galt misfits, and so many more. They really don't have that much in common with one another. How do you unify them? Attract enough more to credibly steal an election?

The last thirty years have demonstrated exactly how. You mong the fear with subtle skill, allowing out only flashes, with plausible deniability, for each segment, wooing them into a warm sploogefest of 'we all understand what's REALLY being promised but we're not gonna talk about it here.' And as the fear and the hate build up, you front puppets outside your organization, via hate radio and other tools, to provide confirmation and the occasional catharsis, while you maintain your own appearance of respectability.

And the sense of fear builds. It gets channeled productively (for the GOP) into scapegoat-hatred, and you cleverly gerrymander and game the system to maximize the effects. You throw just enough biscuits to each pack to keep them in your vicinity, while reminding them of the 'unreasonable' oppression and control being exercised over their "freedom" by the Vile Scapegoats (be they Democratic office holders, Social Justice Warriors obsessed with politically correct speech, minorities grabbing free stuff, immigrants taking jobs, whatever...)

You tell them they're oppressed, over and over. You tell them that the seething fear inside them that you've been ginning up isn't fear at all, but justified hatred of the oppressors curtailing their freedom.

But you always have to do it in dog whistles, by proxies, by second- and third-hand means, because there must be a core of control, the planners, the exploiters, the true beneficiaries, to direct things.

Then comes the Red Hour.



No one is in control anymore. No one is in charge.

I wanted to understand this phenomenon, especially after reading this Huffpo post about why women support the man who's loudly and proudly exhibited his contempt for them, calling us "dogs," "slobs," "fat pigs," "disgusting animals" and more.

Here's a couple of quotes:

Ive said things like that about guys ― Oh, hes short, or look at his little feet. But just on the surface about it, and thats the refreshing part for me, is that he can speak his mind, because weve been so inhibited,

Im a woman with a loose mouth so I get myself in trouble,


And of course, we're all familiar with the oft-highlighted "I like Trump because he's upfront and tells it like it is" cognitive dissonance.

Essentially, Trump is the promise of enshrining the right to be an asshole in public, into the Constitution.

Mind you, all too many of the GOP's perfervid shock troops think it's already there, a nebulous conglomeration of the First and Second Amendments that guarantees them not only the right to be assholes, shoot anyone who disagrees with them, and be granted unrestricted tolerance and public forums for the display of their assholery. But those Vile Oppressors enforcing politically correct speech, denying them their rights to roll coal on the roads, brandish military-grade ordinance at Wal-Mart, and force baby-factories back into the kitchen where they belong need a real ass-whoopin', and Trump is just loud enough, obnoxious enough, and uninhibited enough to deliver it, with their help.

And so, the clock is striking six in Cleveland, and the Festival begins.

ominously,
Bright

Black Lives STILL Matter

They mattered 300 years ago when European merchant imperialists fetched up on African shores, massacred those who resisted, and hauled the rest off as cargo, because people who looked like that couldn't possibly be as human as the greedy shitheads killing them.

They mattered 250 years ago when Africans were brought to American shores to be sold as property, beaten, abused, separated from family members and killed with impunity.

They mattered 200 years ago when the people who'd penned the words "All men are created equal" and fought a war to prove it, decided that the ones with dark skin were only 3/5 as equal as all other men.

They mattered 150 years ago when Confederate veterans formed terrorist organizations to harrass and kill newly-freed slaves and prevent them from holding the lands, jobs, and benefits promised as part of Reconstruction.

They mattered 100 years ago in the Jim Crow era when lynchings, beatings, home-burnings, and 'separate but (certainly NEVER) equal' were used to keep black Americans from presuming to the rights of citizens and equal status under the law.

They mattered 50 years ago when black churches were bombed, black schoolchildren were killed, dogs were set on peaceful protesters, and activists working for Civil Rights were assassinated.

And they matter today when law enforcement officers constitute themselves judge, jury, and executioner for anyone with black skin they consider any kind of threat-- and GET AWAY WITH IT.

So when you're tempted to remind us piously about how "all life matters," just stop and think.

The reason it's important to keep reminding everyone in America today that Black Lives Matter is because it's a lesson we apparently have failed to learn, for THREE HUNDRED (plus) YEARS.

It's the lessons we DON'T learn that have to be repeated over, and over, and over.

wearily,
Bright

"Officer, Can You Help?"

A friend of mine who's now long, long retired from a police force told me once that those words were why he chose to apply to become a police officer.

He wanted to help.

He wanted to protect.

He wanted to make neighborhoods and communities safe and strong.

I asked him, "Was your life ever at risk?"

A few times, he told me. But rarely because of "bad guys shooting at me." Cops get exposed to a lot of dangerous situations.

Once he dove into a lake to free a dog trapped in a sinking boat, which was the only thing close to a bona fide 'hero story' he'd ever tell about working as a cop.

I suspect he could tell more.

He is white. There were "black neighborhoods" in his city and sometimes he was assigned there. He said he didn't feel extraordinarily alert or threatened or risk-conscious there. He was just doing his job.

He knew there was racism on the force he worked for. He knew there were racial tensions in some of the areas he worked. He did what he could to address that, including spending off-time in some of those neighborhoods, volunteering at community centers, participating in pick-up basketball games, eating out at local joints, getting to know people.

But that was then. Forty-plus years ago, when SWAT teams hadn't yet migrated eastward from the West Coast, before President Nixon declared "War on Drugs", before the manufacturers of military hardware decided domestic law enforcement was a fruitful new profit center, before the Endless Oil War supplied police departments with so many recruits with military training and rawly traumatic urban warfare experience.

Forty-plus years ago, when the Civil Rights movement had just accomplished a series of victories and the assassination of Martin Luther King heightened consciousness of just how dangerous racism was for all concerned. No one wanted to set off more Long Hot Summers. De-escalation of racial tension remained a priority even in an essentially racist mostly-white police force in an oh-so-politely racist white northern city.

I've been trying to parse out what I know about the corner law enforcement has backed itself into, with its increasing militarization, paranoia, hyperactive threat assessment reflexes, and above all, racism. How all of those things have combined into a powerful bunker mentality, an us-versus-them stance, empowered by good-old-boy unions complicit with City Hall lawyers.

It's not going to be easy to change.

The present calls for unity, for de-escalation, for finding common ground, for making change, etc., aren't exactly unprecedented.

But the reality is that until the police departments of America take steady, consistent, and observable actions to change their culture, their recruitment and training practices, their operational doctrines, and their willingness to be accountable to ALL the people in ALL the communities they serve, the spiral will continue in the wrong direction.

wearily,
Bright

So, my 86-year-old Mom phoned today about gun violence.

She said, "Okay, I need you to tell me why this idea is so crazy, right? I've got an idea I think will make mass shootings less common."

Sez I, "Okay, Mom, shoot. I mean, lay it on me."

"So, I know this sounds weird, right? But I was awake feeling sad about all those people killed and their families, and it just occured to me. Everybody has cars, right? Well, not everybody, but enough so it's almost the same thing."

"Sure, Mom."

"And cars can be real dangerous- people get killed in car accidents a lot, although not as much as they used to when I was a lot younger. Although with more people, the numbers look bigger, but the percentages are down, right?"

"Lemme stop ya here, Mom. I think what you're about to say is that anyone who buys a gun, or at least an automatic-type with the ability to shoot a whole lotta bullets really fast without reloading, they should have to pass a safety test, and get a license to use that gun, and then get a license for the gun itself, and they should have to have insurance, and renew their license regularly, and take ongoing safety tests as needed. Amirite? That what you're thinkin'?"

She's clearly a little miffed that I stole her thunder, but, "Well, yes. Don't you think it's a good idea? Why wouldn't it work?"

"Well, I won't tell you that, because I think it actually WOULD reduce the number of mass shootings. But I CAN tell you why it'll never happen."

"Okay, why's that?"

"Simple. The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights don't guarantee any right to keep and bear cars."

Long, long silence.

"Mom? You still there?"

"THAT is just STUPID."

I can't say I disagree, actually.

wearily,
Bright

IT'S. THE. GUNS.

Yes, it's also a hate-filled culture in which homophobia is on the top ten list, certainly.

But no matter who that asshole hated, or how much, or why, it was THE GODDAMNED GUNS that allowed him to kill so many, so quickly, so horribly.

Please, do NOT use this thread to post all the arguments about how if the right person had had the right caliber weapon in the right place at the right time, this wouldn't-a got so far and that's why everybody should be packin'. Just... DON'T.

Being someone who is not unknown within LGBTQ social establishments myself, I also respectfully ask the people I love and sorrow with and fear with and hope for, to discuss the contribution that homophobia and other sick manifestations of a fearful, paranoid, bigoted, dogma-sodden culture made to this horror in the several threads focusing on that.

This OP is about THE FUCKING GUNS.

Or, as I shall call them henceforth, the DEATHTOOLS.

They are tools. Their purpose is to kill.

Deathtools.

What more will it take to convince lawmakers and the deathtool Oligarchs and NRA shills who terrorize them into collaboration, that a community cannot live in freedom from fear when every pathetically inadequate, criminally irresponsible, asshole can get their hands on unlimited deathtools?

Can carry them anywhere, can make them shields against their own fear and inadequacy, and can USE them with the willing collaboration of a ghoulish, profit-obsessed media and a violence-fueled network of subcultures that simply ADORE popular entertainment full of blood and explosions and revenge and go ahead, make-my-day machismo?

WHAT MORE WILL IT TAKE?

Answer me, dammit, you pusillanimous, greed-soaked tools, and the fearful, whiney, inadequate voters who keep electing you!

WHAT?

despairingly,

Bright

Dear GOPpie Solons: DON'T Go There. You WILL Regret It.

A person who spends more time delving into commentary and coverage of The Levers Of Power than I do gave me this warning:

"Trump hides his very real vulnerabilities by flaunting his "Teflon" bits. You can't get him for being a bigot or a misogynist or a lousy businessman or an ignoramus-- those are things he's proud of, things that appeal to his 'base,' part of his ego-inflating mechanism. They all come with 'justifications':

Bigotry and misogyny are justified because "those people" deserve it.

Those bankruptcies and business failures are all part of his Master Plan to game "the system" that's rigged against "real people" and make tons of bucks anyway.

It's not "ignorance" it's "common sense" like all the "regular guys" who know the same stuff I know.

The problem is, Trump also has very real vulnerabilities. As in, the kind of dirt swept under the rug that Congress and the Courts could use to bring him down hard, including taking away his money and power, and even sending him to Club Fed for a nice, long, time.

And the GOPpie Solons know which rugs to lift. They're not doing it now, because they're mulling over a strategy of maneuvering him into a General Election win, and then bridling him, shoving the bit into his mouth, and riding him for the next four years. IOW, 'play nice, Mister President or it won't just be impeachment, it'll be five-to-nine behind bars and confiscation of every asset.'

Some of them think this might work."


I don't know if this is true. But knowing our GOPpie Solons, it makes a creepy kind of Realpolitik sense. It's right up your alley, isn't it, guys? (And yes, you're almost 100% guys, so I use the term advisedly.)

I'm hoping that one or more of your helots charged with Oppo Monitoring/Research is reading this and might pass it along, because, guys, you need to hear this:

This is not a good strategy for you.

It will not end well. For you, or for anyone.

Because, unlike all the "GAWD TOLE ME TO RUN!" morans who've already stumbled into the chute, what you're looking at with Mr. Trump is an actual Biblical re-enactment.

Donald Trump is Samson, guys.

He is bugfuck crazy, and completely uncontrollable.

And you might, indeed, manage to Delilah him into the White House. But read the Book of Judges, Chapter 16, for how well that'll end.

You might chain him between the pillars of Impeachment and Prosecution, but he WILL bring down the temple, on you and all your minions.

He doesn't care about reason, or "best interests," or financial self-preservation, or even avoiding prosecution and public scandal and the rest of it. He genuinely believes he can overcome ALL of it, with the help of the Massive Ego that is his Higher Power. And if you attempt to load him down with the shackles of Realpolitik, or even reality itself, he will pull everything over in a mighty heave.

And you will NOT benefit therefrom.

So, guys, if this IS a strategy in serious consideration, for your own sake, do not go there. Lift those rugs NOW, while there is still time. Save what you can (the Senate, maybe? Well, the House, at least- you still have a good shot there-) for now, and reassess your Long Game for 2024.

I don't wish you well, you know that. But on the other hand, we're all in this together, and the blast zone of this particular error would engulf a lot of good people as well as y'all, standing at Ground Zero. This is a bunker-buster, guys. You would NOT survive it.

So think, please.

grimly,
Bright

General Election: The Looming Choice Between Oligarchy and Kakistocracy

As much as I'd like to revive the fading embers of the democratic republic, that does not appear to be among our choices. On November 8th, we may be forced to decide between oligarchy and kakistocracy. The pros and cons of each are unappetizing, but it's best to have at least a fall-back strategy for unpleasant realities.

Oligarchs tend to maintain a minimal awareness of the necessity to keep up the appearance of a functional, if grotesquely corrupt, governing capacity. This occasionally creates cracks, where the desirability of appearing to appease popular sentiment becomes necessary. An oligarchy, if the oligarchs support a moderately competent executive, can preserve some level of civil order, maintain some level of infrastructure, and enable sufficient economic activity to engage their helots and support the services and appearance of normality from which the oligarchs themselves benefit.

They keep the wheels on, in other words. If they delegate competent executives and maintain some awareness of the need to balance repressive authoritarian responses to challenges to their authority against 'keeping up appearances,' they generally avoid wholesale slaughter, bloodshed, displacement, and genocide.

The downside to this side of the choice is that in maintaining a minimal comfort level for their helots and sustaining the appearance of "normalcy," it can take longer and be more difficult to ultimately destabilize, overthrow, and replace oligarchs with more democratic government.

This should be balanced against the awareness that our oligarchy is large and very complex, and there are some opportunities to create divisions among them, play off factions within the oligarchy against one another, and accelerate destabilization that way.

A kakistocracy's one "pro" is usually the speed of devolution, and the shattering chain reactions of upheaval as incompetence produces unrest which is met with authoritarian repression, undermined by further incompetence to produce further unrest and the wheels come off fairly quickly.

The cons to that side of the equation are the human costs of bloodshed, civil disorder, pogrom, repression, disease, massive environmental catastrophe, and chaos, in the process of the kakistocracy's failure and ultimate replacement. In such environments it can be difficult for democratic revolutions to maintain equilibrium. Catastrophic failure of a kakistocracy usually results in a series of further devolutionary regimes such as competent authoritarian dictatorships, repressive totalitarianism, and other forms of backlash, before democratic government can be re-established.

So, if the General Election choice comes down to Oligarchy versus Kakistocracy, I shall reluctantly choose the former.

Your mileage, of course, may vary.

pragmatically,

Bright

Thought exercise: Let's stipulate we lose the "Democratic Republic" choice

It seems fairly likely that Bernie is not going to be allowed to take a popular majority into the partisan electoral process, at this point.

Thus, we will be left with the choice on November 8th:

Oligarchy

vs.

Kakistocracy

As much as I'd like to revive the fading embers of the democratic republic, that does not appear to be among our choices. We may be forced to decide between oligarchy and kakistocracy. The pros and cons of each are unappetizing, but it's best to be realistic.

Oligarchs tend to maintain a minimal awareness of the necessity to keep up the appearance of a functional, if grotesquely corrupt, governing capacity. This occasionally creates cracks, where the desirability of appearing to appease popular sentiment becomes necessary. An oligarchy, if the oligarchs support a moderately competent executive, can preserve some level of civil order, maintain some level of infrastructure, and enable sufficient economic activity to engage their helots and support the services and appearance of normality from which the oligarchs themselves benefit.

They keep the wheels on, in other words. If they delegate competent executives and maintain some awareness of the need to balance repressive authoritarian responses to challenges to their authority against 'keeping up appearances,' they generally avoid wholesale slaughter, bloodshed, displacement, and genocide.

The downside to this side of the choice is that in maintaining a minimal comfort level for their helots and sustaining the appearance of "normalcy," it can take longer and be more difficult to ultimately destabilize, overthrow, and replace oligarchs with more democratic government.

This should be balanced against the awareness that our oligarchy is large and very complex, and there are some opportunities to create divisions among them, play off factions within the oligarchy against one another, and accelerate destabilization that way.

A kakistocracy's one "pro" is usually the speed of devolution, and the shattering chain reactions of upheaval as incompetence produces unrest which is met with authoritarian repression, undermined by further incompetence to produce further unrest and the wheels come off fairly quickly.

The cons to that side of the equation are the human costs of bloodshed, civil disorder, pogrom, repression, disease, massive environmental catastrophe, and chaos, in the process of the kakistocracy's failure and ultimate replacement. In such environments it can be difficult for democratic revolutions to maintain equilibrium. Catastrophic failure of a kakistocracy usually results in a series of further devolutionary regimes such as competent authoritarian dictatorships, repressive totalitarianism, and other forms of backlash, before democratic government can be re-established.

So, if the choice DOES come down to Oligarchy versus Kakistocracy, I shall reluctantly choose the former.

Your mileage, of course, may vary.

wearily,
Bright

Intervention: Can America Stop Enabling the GOP?

It's gotten pretty bad. This family, the America family, have finally decided to seek help for one of their family members. Three other family members are meeting with a professional interventionist.

Interventionist: So, tell me about the problem with your... family member, is it?

Centindie America: (The others have agreed she'll more or less be the spokesperson for now.) Yeah, I guess. Well, yes. I mean, right now, I'm really tempted to say, "annoying stranger I want outta my life", but the reality is, it's all in the family, yep.

Interventionist: I get it. Times, you want to disown them, but they do still matter. They're related to us. We can remember the good times. And it wouldn't work, anyway. So, tell me about... 'G', is it?

Centindie: Yeah, his name's actually Repli, but he used to call himself "Goppie" as a baby, and so it's been 'GOP' or 'G' all along. Everyone calls him that, it's not just a family nickname.

Interventionist: I'll remember. So, why do you think this is the time for an intervention?

Prog America: Long past time, we shoulda done this years ago!

Democ America: Hush, we agreed we'd let Centindie tell it.

Prog: (rolling eyes) Yeah, yeah... (mutters) You're such a cop-out, Dem. (Democ glares at him.)

Interventionist: It'll be important to hear from everyone, but let's take it in order, for now.

Centindie: Well, some of us have been concerned for quite a while, but others just wrote that off as, you know, old grudges, the usual family fights, that kind of thing. We've always been a (grins ruefully) contentious bunch. Dinner-table debates a specialty, you know? (Interventionist nods.) But lately, G's behavior's gotten pretty, ummm, well, difficult to take. For most of us. It's really far over the line, now. He's hurting himself, too. We... we're really worried about him.

(Prog snorts, Democ elbows him, Centindie gives them both an exasperated look.)

Interventionist: So, you all agree G's behavior is risking serious harm to himself, as well as others, and you're all agreed it needs to change? (Looks at each in turn, and gets nods.) Okay, that's a good start. Let me explain a little bit about how intervention works: First, we evaluate. That includes gathering facts about G's problem, and evidence of how it's damaging G and others. Then, we decide who should be part of the intervention team- people whose participation will carry some weight of influence with G. Then we present our evidence and ask G to consider changing, and answer his objections-- and there'll be plenty of those. Then we offer to help G change, and, finally and most importantly, we apply leverage. If we do our preparation right, there's usually a good chance G will commit to change, and make a start.

Centindie: (Looks at the others, there's a brief unspoken dialog with some eye-rolling, head-nodding, etc.) Okay, we can do that. I think the problem's pretty clear. G's really lost his way. He's always been pretty conservative-- maybe too conservative for some of us-- (glances at Prog)-- but there were some good things that went with that. Important things. Certainly things I valued. But lately, it's like, he's not even 'conservative' any more in the sense of trying to be wise and careful with family resources. It's crazy, he's just... grabbing everything for himself and a few friends. He's doing stuff he use to say was bad-- you know, stuff like overspending-- but now that's only bad when it's something someone else wants. He goes on these crazy weapons-buying, war-starting sprees and blows through bank accounts like toilet paper.

Democ: Yeah, and it's making us all look bad. I mean, I went along with him on a few things-- after all, we DO have a responsibility to keep the neighbors safe-- but G isn't doing that anymore. He's just making things worse. We're in over our heads, we have to keep fighting these stupid wars just to protect our own interests, now.

Prog: (Very emphatically) NO, we don't. You're just as bad as G, Dem. What we need to do is just STOP, all of it, NOW.

Interventionist: I can see this is a sore spot, but can I ask, Prog, would it be a good start, if we could get G to change?

Prog: (Catches a glance from Centindie, nods grudgingly.) Yes, but I honestly don't think we can do it. G's not listening to anyone right now, not even Centi.

Democ: That's for sure. Used to be, G cared a lot what people thought of him. Kinda stuffy about it, actually. Now, it's like, hell with the rest of you, I'm the only one who knows anything so go uh.. eff yourselves.

Centindie: (nodding) Yeah, and then he goes and hangs out with these horrible friends... and gets in stupid fights-- in public! He used to be the one the neighbors thought was the cool head, but they're actually scared of him, now. And doesn't listen to anyone.

Prog: Except maybe the voices in his head. (Democ snickers.)

Centindie: (Glares at Prog, then shrugs helplessly.) Yeah, maybe. (She sniffles a bit.) I'm worried about him, dammit!

Interventionist: It does sound very worrisome. But I think we've made a good start on the assessment. Let's talk about who should be part of the intervention team. People who matter to G, either because he values their opinion, or needs their support, or because they have some other kind of leverage they can apply. Especially, anyone who's been enabling him, and who's really committed to stopping that.

Prog: Well, I'm the only one who doesn't enable him, but he doesn't give a rat's ass about my opinion.

Democ: I do NOT enable him! I never have, for heaven's sake, we're ALWAYS on opposite sides.

Prog: Unless it's about bank regulation, or starting wars, or bailing your mutual buddies out of trouble, or... (Dem seethes, glowers, starts to speak)

Centindie: (Interrupts) Okay, I admit it. I probably DO enable him. But unlike SOME of us (she glares at Prog) I care about this whole family, and I have faith that G is an important part of it. We all need him well, even if we don't always agree. And I don't want him to hurt himself. Not least, because if he destroys the place, we're ALL in the soup.

Prog: Then you could try STOPPING him, rather than SUPPORTING him.

Centindie: (getting heated) Not ALL his ideas were bad ones. And anyway, you don't make people change by screaming at them, Prog! You always want to go too far, and I think you just make him WORSE.

Democ: Centi, if you'd just listen to me, sometimes, I'm sure a united front between the two of us would convince G to change!

Prog: (rolling eyes, throwing up hands) Oh, sure, like that's not how we got into this mess in the first place, you two pussyfooting around trying to be nice to G and letting him get away with EVERYTHING.

Interventionist: Okay, okay... I'm seeing a challenge here, for sure. We might not have an effective team to make this intervention work. Do any of you think you have the influence to get G to consider change?

(Silence- the Americas all exchange glances, Centindie starts to sniffle again.)

Centindie: But he's going to hurt himself. REALLY hurt himself...

Dem: And us.

Prog: (muttering, a little shamefacedly) Maybe good riddance...

Interventionist: Okay, let's try another tack. Let's imagine that we went to wherever G is, right this minute. We all stood in front of him, and asked him to change. What would he say?

All three Americas: (in nearly perfect unison, in a marked Queens accent) "You're all LOSERS!" (They glance at each other, startled, and then at the interventionist.)

Interventionist: Okay, well, that's pretty clear. An intervention probably won't succeed until G's experienced some really tough consequences, I'm afraid. But that's pretty much inevitable, if you can just refrain from enabling him.

(Centindie starts sobbing. Prog, unexpectedly, puts an arm around her shoulders, and she leans in.)

Democ: (grimly) So we're all in for some rough stuff, while G keeps imploding.

Interventionist: I'm afraid so. The best thing you can do is support one another. Try to find your own common ground, be kind to one another, and build your support system among the rest of the family.

Centindie: (In tears) But... but G! Oh, my little GOPpie... I was SO proud of him in the Civil War... the Roosevelt trust-busting... That incredible Eisenhower "military industrial complex" speech... The gravitas... the moral compass... Won't he ever get any of it back? Is it gone forever...? Is he gonna DIE?

Interventionist: Well, no one can answer that, now. But I can tell you this, from lots of experience. I've seen a lot of people hit bottom. Experience shattering, terrible consequences that seemed like the worst possible thing that could ever happen. But you know what?

If they live through those consequences, and learn anything from it, many of them DO finally commit to change. And when they do, they don't necessarily become the person they used to be. But sometimes they find a new, recovering life, instead. And reconnect with their families, and their communities, and live important, wonderful lives.

So, don't give up hope.

But for now... buckle up.

metaphorically,
Bright

Why She Likes Trump

One of my flaws is the subconscious assumption that other people see things the way I see them. Believing (I hope correctly!) myself to be a reasonable, compassionate, intelligent person, it's too easy for me to associate the opinions I hold, the experiences I've had and the conclusions I've drawn from them, the responses I have to people, with those qualities.

But people who have different opinions than I do, who've had other experiences and drawn other conclusions from them, are also reasonable, compassionate, intelligent people. If I don't understand those differences, it's harder for me to connect, harder for me to find common ground. We get locked in our separate compounds of otherness and fear, that way.

Which works out all too serendipitously for Our Beloved Oligarchs.

I found myself having a conversation with a woman a bit older than my daughter-- probably in her late forties. Struggling financially, just getting by. She's bitter about being "forced" to pay for health insurance, which "doesn't do her any good because she can't afford to use it anyway." She liked Obama when he was elected but has been disappointed in him since, mostly because the economy has been so punitive on her family, especially her son, who came back from a tour in the Middle East with a lot of health issues, about which "the damn VA are doing nothing." She volunteers at the local animal shelter, and she helps other veterans' families with transportation, home care, figuring out paperwork, and getting to/from support group meetings.

She has a college education, and had good jobs in management up until 2009, when the collapsing economy caught up with her employers. Now she's shift manager at a franchise restaurant and going to community college classes (on student loans) to get a real estate license. She considers herself "entrepreneurial," having done some multi-level marketing in the past. She's pro-choice and considers herself a 'non-strident feminist' (her term, I have no idea what it means.)

She should be a Hillary supporter, by the demographics, but she "doesn't like Hillary."

"So who are you supporting?" I asked her, curious.

"I like Donald Trump."

My jaw must have dropped, because she got defensive. "I do! I know he's kind of a sexist, but I don't think he really means a lot of the campaign-trail bullshit. He's just saying what will get media attention, mostly."

I really wanted to understand why she likes Donald Trump. It's completely impossible for me to imagine anyone but knuckle-dragging morons 'liking' him, but obviously a lot of people do.

Why?

It was a long conversation, but here's what I took away.

Sure, Donald Trump is a rich guy.

But "he's not like other rich people."

As far as I could make out, "other rich people" are snobs and selfish and don't want to let anyone else into their exclusive clubs or allow anyone else to enjoy the kinds of things they enjoy. Even if an ordinary person like her was to get rich, or win the lottery or something, they'd never 'let her into their places.'

Trump, apparently, is perfectly willing to 'share the good stuff' with anyone who can pay for it. If she won the lottery he'd welcome her to his fancy private jet and let her use the gold-plated plumbing fixtures without making her feel like she didn't belong.

Or something like that.

Pointing out that her chances of winning the lottery are effectively the same as my chance of sprouting functional wings would not have been helpful, so I didn't.

I did ask whether she thought he'd do much for people who aren't going to win the lottery, etcetera, and she said he was more likely to pay attention to 'ordinary people who support him' than to the Establishment political string-pullers.

As far as I can tell, the things that creep me out about Trump- the crassness, the ignorance, the qualities I read as bullying and egotistical bombast- she sees as a weird kind of not-caring-what-snobs-think integrity, and she likes that.

She likes him.

I can't like him, he gives me the willies.

But I like her. Even knowing that she thinks this way, I can still recognize that she's a good person, compassionate, intelligent, and with her own reasons and experiences behind her opinions.

Here's what I didn't do: I didn't insult her, I didn't laugh at her, I didn't tell her she's delusional.

I did tell her I couldn't agree with her about Trump, but at least I had a better understanding of why she likes him. And I told her a little bit about why I like Bernie Sanders, trying to emphasize some of the same things about him that she says she likes about Trump- particularly the bit about him being more influenced by what ordinary people need and want, than by the string-pullers in the political establishments.

It wasn't exactly the time or the setting for a discussion about the complexity of the political environment, the many powerful factors and forces that influence how effective an elected Chief Executive can be, etcetera. I don't believe I "made her think," although she for sure made ME think.

But I didn't turn her off. I didn't build a wall of otherness between us.

Maybe it was the best I could manage.

thoughtfully,
Bright
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