Probably not a fascist

better-in-german
I have to admit, it does sound snappier in the original German

Donald Trump is probably not a fascist. Feel better?  Don’t. He might be worse

I spent most of the drive home today thinking I was going to write an appeal to repeal Godwin’s Law. You may or not be familiar with Godwin’s Law by name. In its original form it reads

As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.

When the Internet was getting going it was a really fun place. For one thing there were a lot of really funny and smart people who mused about the social implications of this new thing being created. Godwin’s Law is among the best examples of that. Do a little reading on the history of the thing and you’ll find it was a gentle reminder to folks that the Holocaust was a truly horrific thing and it’s not the sort of thing that compares to most things you might be upset about.  It was far, far, worse than anything you’re likely to be talking about.

Over time there became this belief that Godwin’s Law precluded usefully mentioning Hitler or Nazis in any online discussion at all. That’s what I was going to argue needed to be repealed in the Age of Trump. Turns out I didn’t need to bother because it’s not something Mike Godwin ever believed and certainly doesn’t now with respect to Trump:

First, let me get this Donald Trump issue out of the way: If you’re thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer to Hitler or Nazis when you talk about Trump. Or any other politician.

The thing that scares me the most about Trump is his scapegoating of Muslims and, more generally, anyone who isn’t white. His boast that he could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and not lose any votes is an admission that he understands his followers. They know he’s not going to shoot them because they’re white and from ’round here. He’d only shoot someone who isn’t. He praises folks who deal with protests in his rallies with force.  I talked about nucleation points last week. I used the group at the Malheur Wildlife Refuge as an example of a nucleation point that didn’t form. I fear the Trump candidacy is one that is going to. His policies are vague to the point of incoherence, but most people stop listening as soon as they hear their own prejudices and fears repeated back to them with the promise that the strong man will solve the problem. Leave the details to him. Just go out there and be great.

Journalist David Neiwert makes a compelling argument that it’s not accurate to call Trump a fascist. It’s a topic Neiwert has studied and reported on for more than two decades as he’s followed the various incarnations of hate groups in the Pacific Northwest.  He discusses several descriptive models of fascism and shows how easy it is to make comparisons with Trump. He concludes that Trump doesn’t cross the line to fascism, though, partly because his appeals to the use of force against people who oppose him is tepid when compared to the historical examples of the Brown and Blackshirts of Fascist Germany and Italy. The other is his incoherence.

That, in a tiny nutshell, is an example of the problem with Trump’s fascism: He is not really an ideologue, acting out of a rigid adherence to a consistent worldview, as all fascists are. Trump’s only real ideology is the Worship of the Donald, and he will do and say anything that appeals to the lowest common denominator of the American body politic in order to attract their support – the nation’s id, the near-feral segment that breathes and lives on fear and paranoia and hatred.

Rather than a fascist, Neiwert concludes that Trump is a right-wing populist demagogue. That should provide no comfort to anyone because fascism is merely one kind of right-wing populism. One with focus. Maybe it’s on Ritalin or something.

Joking aside, Can Mudde, an associate professor in the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Georgia1 wrote a nuanced op-ed in the Washington Post back in August that probably puts Trump in his proper historical perspective.

…to understand the Trump phenomenon in all its complexity we need to look at both U.S. history and contemporary Europe. Trumpismo can be seen as a functional equivalent of the European populist radical right, but it is a very American equivalent. Trump himself doesn’t hold a populist radical right ideology, but his political campaign clearly caters to populist radical right attitudes, and his supporter base is almost identical to the core electorate of populist radical right parties in (Western) Europe. However, Trump also stands in a long tradition of American nativism, going back to the Know Nothings of the mid 19th century, of American anti-establishment politicians, and of conservatives who claim to be the right “CEO” to make America great again. But, in contrast to the rich history of U.S. populism, Trump is an anti-establishment elitist. He is better than everyone, i.e. both the elite and the people!

Pardon me if that doesn’t make me feel better.

We’re going to know a lot more about how things are going with the election by the end of March. As the excess-baggage-candidates drop from the slate of Republican hopefuls, Rubio or Cruz will either catch Trump or they won’t. I’m not going to venture a guess. There is no part of my brain that accepts the idea that any of those guys ought to be allowed out in public, much less made President of the United States. I have no insight into the psychology of anyone who can consider the question without projectile vomiting.

No matter what happens, though, Trump’s true believers aren’t going away. Even if one of the other folks wind up getting the Republican nomination, or Trump gets it and then loses the general election, these people who’ve supported Trump are not going to go away. And what scares me about that is that that these folks may decide to follow the next charismatic leader who says he’s not going to make the “mistake” Trump made.

If that happens it’s going to get ugly real quick.


1How ’bout them Dawgs!

Mumpsimus America

Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt.

Short-fingered vulgarian and raging follicle infection Donald Trump got called out by Pope Francis Friday because maybe one of his ideas is, oh I don’t know, nuts. Here’s the full transcript of the portion of the interview as presented by the Catholic News Agency:

Phil Pullella, Reuters: Today, you spoke very eloquently about the problems of immigration. On the other side of the border, there is a very tough electoral battle. One of the candidates for the White House, Republican Donald Trump, in an interview recently said that you are a political man and he even said that you are a pawn, an instrument of the Mexican government for migration politics. Trump said that if he’s elected, he wants to build 2,500 kilometers of wall along the border. He wants to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, separating families, etcetera. I would like to ask you, what do you think of these accusations against you and if a North American Catholic can vote for a person like this?

Pope Francis: Thank God he said I was a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as ‘animal politicus.’ At least I am a human person. As to whether I am a pawn, well, maybe, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people. And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel. As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.

You’d think Francis personally wrote the man a hall pass to Hell given the reaction. There was a couple of choice comments from homunculus-lite Jerry Falwell, Jr. I plan to trot out next time anyone starts bleating about ‘murica being a Christian country:

“Jesus never intended to give instructions to political leaders on how to run a country,” Mr. Falwell told CNN.

Oh Jerry-lite. Thanks for declaring you’re going to STFU. Can you take Franklin Graham with you?

But what put me over the edge was the “but, but, but there’s a wall around the Vatican!”

Yeah. Built in the First Century AD. Doesn’t completely surround the city anymore. Pretty much got breached all the time. “Yuuuuuge gaps in it. Really, really big gaps.” No gates. Crappy wall. Probably does more to keep the hillside from collapsing than anything else.

I point this out on Facebook.

Instant reaction:

“But it’s still a wall.”

Yeah. A completely ineffective one.

“Still a wall.”

Yeah. It’s a wall. So. What? The Pope is a hypocrite? You’re going there?

Since we’re getting all Old Roman School, I draw your attention to the the word that should replace “E Pluribus Unum” as the motto of the United States: Mumpsimus.

From the Oxford Dictionaries:

1A traditional custom or notion adhered to although shown to be unreasonable.

1.1A person who obstinately adheres to unreasonable customs or notions.

Origin:

Mid 16th century: erroneously for Latin sumpsimus in quod in ore sumpsimus ‘which we have taken into the mouth’ (Eucharist), in a story of an illiterate priest who, when corrected, replied “I will not change my old mumpsimus for your new sumpsimus.”.

It’s pretty much where we are now.

Johnny Football is the NFL

football-brain-800pxI’ll watch the Super Bowl on Sunday. It’s what you do on the Sunday they play the Super Bowl. I’m slightly in favor of Denver because this is probably Peyton’s last year, but I won’t lose a moment’s sleep if Carolina wins. I’m amazed by the things Cam Newton can do. Assuming he stays healthy, the sky’s the limit for the number of records he could own when he hangs them up. He’s that good. I don’t get all the hate about how he celebrates. He’s among the best at doing what he does. He shows the joy in doing it. I don’t see what the problem is.

I’ll watch the game.  I don’t care who wins. I’ll drink good beer and eat food I’ve smoked on the Egg down on the patio. My day will be better than 95% of the world’s population because I’ll have had more than my share that day and my next days’s sustenance will not be in doubt. But my day will come at a price. One I’m not sure I want to pay anymore.

I’ll watch the NFL’s biggest day, but I won’t enjoy it all that much. I cannot see a hit without wondering if this is the one that ends a life. Will that player be the next Junior Seau? Chris Henry? Andre Waters? Or “just” the next Kenny Stabler who knows something is wrong but doesn’t end his own life? Is that going to be the hit that two, five, or ten years from now will be the one that starts the player down the road of not recognizing himself when he looks in the mirror?

Then there is Johnny Manziel. You want to say “oh, that kid’s just a head-case asshole.  It’s just a moral failure on his part.  His parents are probably at fault.” I’m not going to claim to be a scholar of the kid’s life, but from what I’ve read his parents are at their wit’s end. They fear for his life. Apparently, though, he’s managed to find enough people who aren’t worried enough about his life to support him in ending his destructive ways. They’re willing to ride him as far as he’ll go, then move on when he’s spent.

Those people are easy to condemn.  Are we, who watch these men bash their heads play after play, Sunday after Sunday, really any different? Do we wonder or care what happened to the second string cornerback from the team three years ago who isn’t playing anymore?  What happened to that short-yardage running back who was so tough when he ran up the middle. He could really take the abuse, couldn’t he?  He did.  Didn’t he? What’s he doing now?

I’ll watch the game Sunday. I don’t think I’m going to like myself much after.

Scolds

bernie2016-magnet_grandeI’m tired of being scolded because I want Bernie Sanders to be elected President of the United States. I’m pretty much doing it to annoy people at this point. I’ve said over and over that my support is the kiss of death for any candidate, so I have little expectation that he will win. He ought to. It would be a better country if we took his ideas and ran with them. But we won’t. That’s not how we roll. We roll downhill.

I was raised by two New Deal Democrats. It’s my belief that the U.S. Constitution was written to protect civil society from the two most powerful forces of its day: The State and the Church. Spread power out as widely as possible with internal checks and balances. Remove the power of the State to use the bludgeon of religion against which the notion of ‘appeal’ is empty. There were certainly corporations at the time if the writing of the Constitution, but they were still largely seen as extensions of the State (given that the State granted the corporation license to exist). Compared to the well-understood nature of monarchies, parliamentary government, and religious power, corporations were the new kid on the block. The later conflict between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson can be read as an extended “oops” on Jefferson’s part.

I think the New Deal was an attempt to correct the imbalance of power inherent between the individual and the corporation. We’re seeing what happens when corporate power runs amok. There is no depravity that cannot be justified by good quarterly earnings and a strong return on investment. Please name one if you can think of one. I can’t.

The conventional wisdom is that Trump is what you get when you appeal to the worst of people so you can get their votes. Sanders is what you get when you appeal to the best of people but don’t really mean it. The Iowa caucuses are tonight. I have no idea what’s going to happen, and I don’t really think whatever happens is going to matter that much. Hillary Clinton will be nominated and even I’ll vote for her because I don’t plan to have a lobotomy between now and November. And absolutely nothing will change. We won’t even try to change. She’ll probably get impeached because she tends to shoot herself in the foot (private mail server as Secretary of State. Really? Was that competence of leadership. I forget). But Wall Street will still call the shots. And that’s all that’s really important, isn’t it?

I support Bernie Sanders because of what he wants to do. I’m aware that most people don’t want to do those things. This time I’ve decided I just don’t care.

Kiss my ass, I’m voting for Bernie anyway.

The bunk is out there

No. No they're not. May their families have peace and may you STFU.
No. No they’re not. May their families have peace and may you STFU.
I have a new rule: For any phenomena that happens within the bounds of human perception, there will be a website that claims it never happened. So it is, tragically, that I am no longer unable to un-see the website that claims that the Challenger explosion never happened. I debated not linking to it. But then I remembered that people were having a hard time understanding how Donald Trump could be a leading presidential candidate. I urge you not read this website if you’re feeling particularly nihilistic today, but if some good old-fashioned crazy-assed lunacy is your cup of tea, here you go.

I found this site while looking for the famous last image of the crew heading out to the shuttle. I was a child of the Space Age. That time before America became a “Can’t Do Unless It Increases Shareholder Value” country. I know enough history to know that a lot of the impetus behind the technology push that took us to the moon was based on Cold War fears, but it was a thrilling time to be a small child anyway. I remember standing in the front windows of Glendale Elementary School in Independence, MO in 1967 as Apollo 7 raced to the moon that was visible that morning. I remember not resenting my mom making me say my prayers when Apollo 13 struggled to come back.1 I was a little unclear about how the Act of Contrition was going to help, but I was up for anything. And I improvised some. It seemed like it was worth the risk.

Then the Challenger blew up. After six years of Reagan, it was a metaphor I’d have just as soon not had the opportunity to experience. Somewhere in a box I have the initial UPI Flash Bulletin off the teletype machine that was in the production room of WSAU, the radio station at Stephen F. Austin State University. Years later, when I was at the University of Georgia, I had the opportunity to get to know David Hazinski. He covered the launch for NBC News. Somehow it never occurred to me to ask him, “Hey David, by the way, that was all a fake, right?” Since there was a reasonable chance I would have asked him that in a bar, there’s a better than average chance I would have gotten a beer bottle between the eyes as a reward. As a weird coda, years later when Columbia broke up over Dallas/Ft. Worth, a lot of the debris came down in Nacogdoches. I read a report somewhere that a big chunk was pulled off the lawn of Mays Hall where I was Hall Director for a while.

So now there’s a website that claims those seven brave people didn’t die that day and hundreds, if not thousands, of people had their lives ripped apart in ways big and small. Apparently everything NASA says is a lie because if NASA isn’t lying then the earth isn’t really flat and these people will have to derive the meaning for their lives from … something else.

They can bite me.

In another weird coda I’ve lived in Asheville, NC twice in my life. It’s in Buncombe County, and it’s actually where we get the word “bunk” from. So I damned sure know bunk when I see it.


1I’d love to say I remember seeing Neil Armstrong step on the moon, but I fell asleep and missed it. I was six. Sue me.

Breaking: America is pretty much screwed

Sarah Palin has endorsed Donald Trump. Read that again. Sarah Palin has endorsed Donald Trump. For President. Of the United States. And America is not collectively peeing all over itself in laughter. It’s pretty much a freak show now. If you have to ask me why the subtitle for this blog is “Because the Terrorists Have Already Won” I can’t really explain it to you.

No matter what happens, the next President of the United States will be sworn in one year from today. I’m supporting Bernie Sanders, but if Hillary Clinton winds up being the nominee for the Democrats I’ll vote for her. She’s not my choice going into the primaries, but staying home isn’t an option given the candidates on the other side.

My support for a presidential candidate has been a kiss of death1 for pretty much the entire time since I’ve been voting. Even in the years where the Democrat won, I usually supported someone else earlier in the process. I’ve probably contributed more to the Sanders campaign than I’ve ever contributed to any other campaign, but I really don’t expect this to turn out any different.

Why? Because Sarah Palin has endorsed Donald Trump and it’s being treated as A Very Serious Thing™ by Very Serious People™. She’s a failed half-term governor who has shown no other talent than being able to convince people to send her money while throwing darts at a thesaurus to pick out her children’s names. Her reality show was cancelled. Think about that for a minute. People who watch reality shows didn’t find her appealing. And she’s endorsing the short-fingered vulgarian who’s been divorced three times. That’s twice more than Reagan and one less than the number of times he’s declared bankruptcy. But this endorsement wraps up the evangelical vote for him.

Um … what?

Does anyone really believe that Donald Trump didn’t open the checkbook and write a very big check to get this endorsement? She has a track record of liking money. A lot. He has a track record of spending it like a, well, short-fingered vulgarian.

But somehow this is being treated as a serious thing. I really don’t think he has a chance in hell of winning. It’s the fact that so many people really want him to that scares me. That’s a lot of dead weight for a country to bear. Forget Al-Qaeda. Don’t worry about ISIS. When the history gets written, the cause of death will be listed as suicide.

Sarah Palin endorses Donald Trump.

Wow.


1That’s a metaphor Mr. Secret Service guy. Strictly a metaphor. As far as I know every candidate I’ve ever supported has lived a long life after my vote. And I prefer it that way.

Food groups

Humble Hog Menu
No barbecue joint is worth a damned unless there are sauce stains on the menu.

I mentioned a while back that I one thing I do when I move somewhere is understand the local food. It actually goes a little deeper than that. I don’t feel like I understand the place until I understand the food. There are a lot of homogenous, chain generic food reheaters out there, but you only have to look a little bit to find something that’s the product of the place where you are.

I don’t know what it is about the chili dogs in Detroit, but they’re awesome. I also love the chili dogs at the Varsity in Atlanta and Athens, but they’re different. I don’t know how. I won’t pick one over the other, but they’re different. Two friends have recommended Nu-Way Weiners in Macon and now I cannot rest until I have tried them.

You can get a cheesesteak anywhere nowadays, but it’s only someone from Philly who understands how important the bread is. The Chicago Italian Beef is, in principle, not that different from the cheesesteak, but it’s entirely different and equally amazing. Go to Canada and the northern border states and you’ll find loose meat sandwiches. Once again it’s something similar, but uniquely wonderful.

There is one key food group, though, that stands above all others.  Barbecue. You will never annoy me more than when you try to engage me in a conversation about what region’s barbecue is “the best.”  There’s no such thing. Barbecue is so elemental.  Meat. Heat. Smoke. What wood?  What grows where you are? Rub? What spices are popular where you are? Sauce? What’s that word mean around where you’re from? I was weaned on KC Style, but grew up on Texas Style. I will admit to sniffing at the vinegary Eastern barbecue until I finally had a chance to have something better than mediocre. It was a revelation. I am a recent convert to Tri-Tip. Cuban pork. Argentinian beef. And let’s talk about the variety of barbecued ribs you find across Asian cuisines. It just goes on and on

In my world, barbecue is the perfect food. It is the stuff of life.

 

This one is going to piss some people off

[This is the third of 365 posts in 2016. You may not want to read any more of them after this.]

Tamir Rice should still be alive. That he was killed is a crime. That his killer has gotten away with it is an obscenity.

Let me go through all the motions here. I’m a fat white guy in my 50’s.  I was raised in the south. I’ve heard the jokes and I’ve seen and heard what goes on when there aren’t any black folks around. You think “I’m not racists but…” is bad? Try being in a room full  of good old boys and being a fat white guy. I appear to be “one of us.” I hear shit. It’s to my eternal shame I’ve not spoken up more. The impetus behind #blacklivesmatter isn’t a big mystery to me. The fact that the whole nation hasn’t collectively thrown up at what happened in Cleveland pretty much proves the point.

You’ve seen the video. If you haven’t, watch it:

And here is the 74-page report from the Cuyahoga County DAs office that says this is all OK.

It’s bullshit.

On what planet does the human perceptual system allow someone to reasonably assume there is a danger in the time we see elapse on this video? And yes, I’m taking the slow frame rate of the video into account. We know how fast Officer Tim Lehmann managed to get off a shot. Do we want anyone making life and death decisions in that length of time? He came in locked an loaded. And Tamar Rice had a toy gun.

Officer Lehmann didn’t know that. He should have, but that’s not on him. Given the fact that young Mr. Rice was supposedly just bringing the object out of his belt when he was shot, it seems  very, very unlikely he’d have been able to raise it, aim it with any accuracy and pull the trigger in the amount of time necessary for the officer to take non-lethal measures to protect himself. There was time. The fact that Officer Lehmann didn’t give him that time is a mistake.  A crime, actually. No one can make a life-death-decision that fast.  No one. As a society we shouldn’t be encouraging that. It’s not reasonable.

And let’s not even start on on why we’re talking about split-second reaction time in the first place. What in the name of all that’s holy was that cruiser doing that damned close to someone who could wind up being an active shooter? Last time I looked when the fire department shows up to a fire they kind of stand back a little bit for just a second. See what’s going on. Figure out how to apply their training to the situation in front of them. Sure, they eventually send someone through the front door with a hose, but it’s not the first step.

There was one Tamir Rice. Unless you’re an officer in a very, very, very small town you already know the kid is outnumbered the minute the call went out.  A reasonable officer would have acted like that. You inherently have the advantage. You can give the perp plenty of opportunities to walk away alive. If you want to. When I was growing up, my dad — who had a bit of a troubled history with the police in his youth — had a saying:  “You can outrun the cops.  You can’t outrun their radios.” There’s an asymmetry of information availability that (thankfully) favors the police.

If only they’d acted that way…

It’s like George Carlin’s notion to Catholic sin: You gotta wanna:

‘Cause that’s what they taught us; it’s what’s in your mind that counts; your intentions, that’s how we’ll judge you. What you want to do. Mortal sin had to be a grievous offense, sufficient reflection and full consent of the will. Ya had’ta WANNA! In fact, WANNA was a sin all by itself. “Thou Shalt Not WANNA”. If you woke up in the morning and said, “I’m going down to 42nd street and commit a mortal sin!” Save your car fare; you did it, man! Absolutely!
It was a sin for you to wanna feel up Ellen. It was a sin for you to plan to feel up Ellen. It was a sin for you to figure out a place to feel up Ellen. It was a sin to take Ellen to the place to feel her up. It was a sin to try to feel her up and it was a sin to feel her up. There were six sins in one feel, man!

George Carlin — The Confessional

There’s a bunch of blah-blah-blah about how it’s routine for police officers to overestimate the age of African-American boys. That’s noise that doesn’t mean anything. You know what? African-American boys can’t do a damned thing about being an African-American boy, but a police officer can sure as hell be trained not to assume that every African-American boy is going to shoot them. That’s pretty tough when when the assumption in white society seems to be that they do. Hey fellow white guys: you go out of your way to avoid black people.  How in the holy hell do you think you know what “they’re” thinking?

I actually believe the trope that no police officers get out of bed wanting too shoot anyone. Do police officers think the same of African-American boys? If the Cuyahoga prosecutor is to be believed, it doesn’t matter if they do or if they don’t.

I think it does.

If it matters what the officer feared, why doesn’t it matter what a young black man feared when he decided to become a corner boy? Why doesn’t it matter what the young woman feared when she turned to tricks to pay the bills?  What reality makes meth and crack seem like the better option?

And why doesn’t it matter what a 12-year-old kid thought he was doing when he played with an Airsoft toy gun without its orange tip?

“You can’t know what it’s like,”

Really? How far are you willing to take that?  Where do we draw the line?  Why? When do circumstances matter?  When do they stop mattering? Who decides? Your answer says more about you than it does of any objective reality. It describes quite precisely what you fear.

What you fear defines you. If you let it.

Given that I live in Cincinnati I can’t think about this case without thinking of Officer Sonny Kim. On June 19, 2015 he died from a gunshot wound in the line of duty when a young man who he knew apparently tried to commit suicide-by-cop. Or was just pissed off at life.  Or something. Officer Kim didn’t pull the trigger when he might have. He was also working from incomplete information. The troubled young man who killed Officer Kim was killed a few seconds later. The loss of any life is never to be celebrated, but the officer who fired that time had no other choice. This isn’t in question. He was clearly going to keep shooting.

I do not — and you do not — know what Sonny Kim did or did not think when he pulled a Taser instead of his gun. I consider the man a hero. “No greater love hath any man than to lay down his life for his brother.” Officer Kim did not get out of bed wanting to shoot anyone that morning. He didn’t pull the trigger and he paid a terrible price. One far, far  higher than I, or anyone, would have asked. Every person in this community, myself included, have an obligation to his widow and children to honor his heroism by making their burden as light as humanly possible. It’s said that courage isn’t the absence of fear. It’s knowing fear and doing the right thing anyway, Putting on the uniform doesn’t make you a hero. Having to wear a bulletproof vest to work doesn’t make you a hero. Being heroic makes you a hero. I know that’s not popular and it’s going to piss people off, but I don’t care any more.

Sonny Kim is a hero.  He didn’t pull the trigger when he would have been justified to do so and died as a result. I wish he were still alive. The world would be a much better place with him in it. Google him. The guy was amazing. I want every police officer to be tactically defensive, and use lethal force when it’s the only option to preserve their own lives and the lives of fellow human beings. Human beings who happen to be police officers AND those who aren’t. I do not want to give badges to people who want carte blanche to deal with “those people” (whomever they they think those people are) by treating them as disposable.

There have been police officers gunned down recently without warning or cause. There is a special place in hell for the people who think that’s somehow “right” or “justice.” It’s not. I was a classmate of this man’s daughter. I saw what that senseless murder meant at a very young age. To this day I still say a prayer for him and for her.

And yeah, I’m still pissed off about what happened to Tamir Rice.

Officer Lehmann pulled the trigger when he didn’t’ have to. He is not a hero.  He is a criminal. He was afraid of something. But what he feared wasn’t what was in front of him. A 12-year old boy with a toy gun was in front of him.

Sure. All lives matter. Black lives matter just as much as white ones. Tamar Rice’s life matters every bit as much as Officer Lehmann’s. Officer Lehmann didn’t act as if it did.

If you don’t understand that, you’re part of the problem.

If Everyone Would Just Stop Starting Sentences With “If Everyone Would Just …”

I know this is an exercise in pointless recursion, but I’d like to suggest something to you if you’re writing a Facebook entry, a blog post or a YouTube comment. This might even apply in your everyday conversation.1

Don’t start any sentence with “If everyone would just …” Ever. If you accidentally start one that way, just stop. Better to be perceived as absent-minded or a fool than to finish the sentence.

Why? Because it’s not going to happen.

Turtles all the way down
Some know how to handle recursion.

We’re never ALL going to think or do any one thing in just one way. Not if we have any choice in the matter. Gravity will always win out because we have no choice over it. The earth will continue to spin on its axis whether we’re here or not. Things that happen following the words “Hey! Watch this!” will seldom work out as intended. Everything else? A crapshoot.

I think it’s an occupational hazard of being human that you fantasize how great everything would be if everyone just thought and felt about things the way you do. I catch myself doing it all the time. Then it occurs to me that a world where everyone thought and felt as I did about things would be

  1. Anti-social.
  2. Boring as hell.
  3. Utterly devoid of peas, which would probably create some gap in the biosphere that would lead to total ecosystem collapse.

Then I remember that it’s not ever going to happen. Like being President, or an astronaut or understanding the appeal of Lord of the Rings. There are things you’re just better of accepting and moving on with. I’m glad we have astronauts. I wish the job of President attracted fewer war criminals, but what’s an oligarchic military-industrial complex going to do? And while I could never get into LOTR, I think the world is an objectively better place because there are people who really love it. Think about it for a minute.  What would those people do with even more free time? Tolkien did us all a favor.

Again, I understand that I’m sitting here writing about how everyone shouldn’t say things like “everyone shouldn’t say” things. My only defense is that I have no illusion that it’s ever going to happen.  If even one person heeds my words then … wow. I’m surprised. What’s wrong with you?  You take life advice from some guy on the Internet? What are you thinking?

And while we’re at it, there’s a related thing. Don’t tell someone they’re “doing it wrong.”

They’re not.

They’re just not doing it for you.


1 OK, scratch YouTube. If you’re leaving comments on YouTube there is no hope for you.

Religion

Life.  The Universe.  Everything.

You’re welcome to believe what you want to believe. I believe what I believe. What I believe is none of your business, by the way. And what you believe is none of mine. Let’s keep it that way.

Religion is meant to define how we navigate through a world where, individually speaking, we’re not the point of the exercise. It’s meant to teach us how to treat others.

It doesn’t say a damned thing about how people are supposed to treat you.

Hell, if you wanted to sum up the teachings of most religious traditions, it comes down to “A lot of things that really suck are going to happen to you, but this is how you’re supposed to act anyway. Just because.”

I understand evangelism. If you believe your system of deciding how you treat other people is a really good one, it’s probably a bad idea to keep it to yourself. It might do someone some good. Feel free to mention it. Feel free to live it and show it to the world.

Just don’t expect everyone to thank you for it.

If you’re in it for the thanks, you’re doing it wrong anyway.

Treat others the way you’d want to be treated. And don’t freak out when people don’t treat you the way you want to be treated. That’s just how it works. If you can’t live in a world where people don’t do what you want, that’s not a religious issue. That’s a potty training issue.

Don’t confuse them.