The ruthless dictators of the world stand poised to take their last stand against democracy; against decency; against a world of enough for everyone.
They need inequality. You don’t.
They need lies. You don’t.
They need wars. You don’t.
They pretend they have great power. They don’t.
If Putin’s army decided to do it, they could turn back and liberate their own people. If Putin’s inner circle decided he was too unstable to rule, they could put in a new “leader.” If he’s a dictator, he too will eventually become unstable. It’s an occupational “hazard” that is a certainty. By surrounding themselves with “yes-men” and cowardly sycophants afraid to tell the truth, dictators virtually guarantee that they will overestimate their own power and capabilities over time. The same thing happens to drug lords, autocratic bosses, and abusive spouses.
Human beings are fundamentally social animals.
Be kind to those around you.
No matter how strong, or smart, or creative a person is, if they really disconnect from their society and their world, they will accomplish little. They can destroy. Just like cancer, they can kill. But they cannot actually accomplish much.
No-one has infinite energy and attention. A dictator spends so much energy on protecting themselves and consolidating their power, that they have almost nothing left over for actual governance. In addition, since they surround themselves with feckless chickens, they never even get the information that they would need in order to improve their governance.
Dictators destroy the free press. That helps them mislead the people they enslave. At the same time, in ensures that they lose touch with reality.
How can we help save democracy half a world away?
Be kind to those around you.
Be vigorous in pursuing the truth.
Be kind to those around you.
Get involved in your local politics. Make sure your own elections are fair. Make democracy strong where you are.
Be kind to those around you.
Dictators and would-be dictators seek to divide the people so they hate each other rather than the one who actually wants to enslave them.
Be kind to those around you.
Dictators not only know no true love themselves; they hate love. They will seek to destroy it. They need a society where mothers inform on their daughters and sons inform on their fathers; where wives inform on their husbands; where brothers inform on their sisters. The dictator wants all loyalty to accrue to them — though they have zero true loyalty to anyone else.
Be kind to those around you.
If you feel dislike or hatred for another group, ask yourself who benefits from that. Hint: It won’t be you. It won’t be the person(s) you dislike. So who does benefit? While you’re trying to figure that out, you may as well take small steps toward a better world — small steps that hurt no-one.
Be kind to those around you.
Any step in that direction is a step in the right direction.
The squealing brakes startled Josh awake. He screamed. Only for a moment. Because he felt as much as heard, that something was wrong. Beside him, in the driver’s seat, Josh’s dad, Ron, cursed incoherently, though remarkably loudly & quickly. After a few moments of this, Ron turned to Josh like Jack Nicholson in The Shining. Josh had no idea what he had done wrong, but he anticipated the usual slap. Only harder. He closed his eyes.
No slap came. Instead, Ron grabbed him by both shoulders and shook him while screaming: “Listen to me! Open your eyes! Look at me! Nothing happened! Got it? Nothing happened! Say it! Tell me nothing happened!”
Josh was more than fully awake now. He was used to going from sleep to panic in one thunderous heartbeat ever since Mom had run off with that Jared guy. But what nothing was dad talking about…? Suddenly, Josh remembered … there was a heavy THUD! Someone had screamed. They must have hit someone. Now, Dad’s trying to cover it up.
Running through the entire list of strategies in his communications playbook, Ron decided that if his son didn’t understand, it was now necessary to repeat what was said before but more loudly and with stronger shaking of the shoulders and with an even more menacing look. So, that’s what he did.
But this time Josh had worked it out. He knew what was required. “Daddy! Nothing happened!”
Ron’s face melted back into one that looked vaguely human as he said, “That’s right! That’s right! And, now listen here! This is important! If anyone else asks you, you just say you don’t know nothing and nothing happened. You got that?”
Josh nodded solemnly, pretending to be completely in awe of and compliant for Ron — something he had learned long ago as a survival strategy.
The police interview went something like this:
Police Officer: “So Josh. Tell me about where you were and what you did last evening.”
Josh: “Sure, Officer. Nothing happened. I mean I went with my dad to see that new movie, The Raiders of the Lost Arc. It was great! And, then, nothing happened. I don’t remember. My dad drove home and I fell asleep. Nothing happened. I don’t remember. Any other questions?”
Police Officer: “Josh, did your daddy tell you to say that nothing happened? Did he make you promise?”
Josh: “I don’t remember! Nothing happened!”
Police Officer: “Okay, Josh. I think we get the picture. Thank you for your help.
Josh went out and saw his dad about to be taken into an interrogation room. As he passed by, Josh used a stage whisper to his dad: “I did just like you told me, Dad.”
Dad was put away for a good long time.
Sadly, although Josh came out ahead in this particular snippet of his life, learning to become a more clever liar is not really a good long-term strategy. Josh discovered this for himself, on the way down. Oddly, people said, he was killed by the fall. Of course, in truth, very few people die from falls, per se. It is the landing that kills.
Moral of the Story: Telling a lie to your kids is like giving them a poison.
Sometimes, it’s fast acting poison.
Sometimes, it’s slow acting poison.
But it’s always poison.
And, here’s the real magic of it. It’s poison for the lie teller as well! Yes, indeed! It is a double-edged sword extraordinaire because it cuts the sword wielder as well as the sword shielder.
Can you ever imagine that you would intentionally tell your kid the wrong way to perform a skill so that they would get fewer hits, or throw more errors, or serve more double faults, or hurt themselves with tools? Of course not! If they were about to go into a road race, would you cut their brake lines? Of course not! But propagating a lie is exactly like that — handicapping one’s own children in their coming attempts to survive in this world.
Propagating a lie is a big deal. And propagating a Big Lie is an even bigger deal. Whatever the reason, it’s something whose harm is more like a plague or a cancer than a punch. The poison spreads often well beyond the liar and the original target of the lie. When more people lie in the society, there is less trust. When there is less trust, there is more need for regulation and coordination. That inevitably results in friction. So long as all parties play by the rules and tell the truth, it will eventually be resolved and there will be an increase in trust. However, if one side cheats and lies, no matter who wins, there will be a ripple of distrust all through society.
Which is kind of the point, you see?
Josh’s dad Ron may not have known how his actions would undermine his own life as well as his son’s. But the people trying to destroy American Democracy? They know exactly why they’re spreading lies and what it will mean. They are spreading the cancer of distrust and division intentionally. Why? Because dividing is how the few conquer the many. It’s a playbook that has been run over and over and over in human history.
Think about it.
How can a relatively small group of criminals take over a country? They can do it by distracting everyone else into thinking the enemy is not the crime gang but the other victims of the theft of a nation. They cannot possibly do it by telling the truth. The truth is that only the ruling crime family will necessarily benefit by a dictatorship. Nor can the Crime Family take over by force. There are far too few of them. And, they are cowards to boot. They could co-opt the military. They tried that but it didn’t work.
Telling poisonous lies is their major remaining option.
It’s evil, but it’s understandable, given that all they care about is power.
But ordinary people lying to their own children?
There’s something deeply disturbing about that, most especially when the lie isn’t even for the benefit of anyone involved.
The parent won’t benefit.
The child won’t benefit.
No-one who overhears the lie will benefit.
The only person who benefits is the would-be Diktator of AmeriKKKa (let’s use “Dik” for short) because the lying parent is practicing giving away their own agency and putting it in the hands of the Dik. It’s no accident that some of the lies put their own life at risk along with the lives of their family & friends. They are being trained to put the Dik above the life and welfare of what they previously loved most dearly in the world.
It is a good thing to try to put oneself in someone else’s shoes. We shouldn’t fool ourselves about how well we can do that, but for some situations, we do a pretty good job. For example, if we watch a movie and someone gets attacked by a Great White Shark, we know we would feel pretty terrified and it’s a fairly good assumption that they are going to be terrified.
Let’s imagine how it feels inside the experience of a person who lies constantly and absurdly about how wonderful and great he is; how beloved he is by everyone; how he is the best at everything. Let’s say he declares himself to be a wobble-free genius. Can you imagine how empty he feels inside? He believes himself to be utterly incapable of anything which is why he insists he are successful at everything.
I saw the results of such a pathetic hypothetical person once up close and personal in real life. Trump took over a golf course that I was a member at. He made some nice improvements. At that point, I didn’t know him from Adam. But some people at the club did and they quit. Some of those people had been former club champions. So what does Trump do? He orders that the plaques be redone with his name as club champions for those years. He not only had not won those tournaments. He had not even played in them.
Just imagine how you would feel looking at a trophy with your name on it knowing full well that you had done nothing to deserve it. Would you feel proud or ashamed? My guess is that you would feel ashamed. This false “accomplishment” tarnishes every real accomplishment you ever had or that you ever will have. This is a normal response.
But Trump, for whatever reason, has such subterranean self-esteem that any semblance of praise, however false or ill-deserved, feels to him as a seeming life-saving desperate drop of moisture for the shriveled old soul that lives within the shriveled old body. If someone flatters him and he knows it’s flattery, he values that more than he would an honest complement. Because to him, opinions about his abilities or behaviors don’t interest him in the slightest. He’s not going to change because of feedback from this or that politician, family member, thinker, advisor, etc. But he just wants the shadow of true praise that is not based upon fact at all but upon power.
He failed as a businessman. He failed as a family member. He failed his own honor when he dodged the draft a half dozen times. He proved himself a racist by calling for the death penalty for four black youths — who it turned out were innocent. Trump didn’t really know anything about the case. He just wanted to take advantage of an opportunity to put his “hat in the ring” for being a racist candidate. Just in case anyone slept through Act 1 due to jet lag or too much wine or whatever, Act 2 was ranting and raving about Obama being an African. “I’ve got proof and I’ll show it the day after the day after the day after the day after….” And, let’s think about it. Here’s a guy — Trump — whose known as a golfer, a playboy and a real estate developer. He’s on record supporting many liberal policies like being pro-abortion. Why would he really care whether Obama was born in Africa? This guy who dodged the draft six times and is already cheating on his taxes suddenly becomes outraged at a particular part of the Constitution that says you must be born in America to be President. Seem plausible?
In case the fifteen foot high blinking neon-Nazi sign from Act 1 wasn’t bright enough, let’s put on the fifty foot high blinking neon-Nazi sign in Act 2. Oh, and if that doesn’t do it for you. I mean, if you were really really zonked on for Acts 1 and 2, don’t you worry! The message of this play is simple and if you didn’t notice the neon-Nazi signs before, now they flashing out a new warning on the subway walls: “Civil War! Then, make me dictator of AmeriKKKa!”
It’s evil and it’s horrible, but it’s also pathetic. Imagine how empty and worthless TFG must feel that he wants the support of people, like him, who derive their sense of worth from something like their supposed race (itself a fiction) or their gender or their inherited wealth — and not from anything they’ve ever accomplished.
At this point, an image occurs to me. A black hole, metaphorical but also quite literal, exist at the very center of TFG. In order to fill it, he is compelled to suck every shred of truth and goodness from everyone around him. More and more people get sucked into the vortex. Who knows? Maybe in some parallel universe, it all comes out as beautiful anti-matter. That may be nice for them. Over there. In that universe.
But for us, back here on the earth we’re familiar with, it’s just plain out — terrible. It exacerbates the emptiness disease that TFG has become. It corrupts all those around him. They all know they’re lying and they each know each of the others is lying. Just like the false championships, if anyone famous goes along with the big lie, that action tarnishes everything good these Senators and Representatives and Newscasters ever did. It outweighs everything from the day, 40 years ago, as a cub scout, they helped someone cross the street to the day that they helped craft significant legislation. All of that is gone. And, for what? Nothing. That’s the real hell of it for them. For nothing.
All of them realize that if there is a coup, none of them will ever be safe again. And, they’ve already pledged their allegiance to the dictator. So, they have no real power. They have to do whatever the oligarchs tell Trump to make them do. They were afraid they’d lose power if they acted ethically; so instead, they acted unethically and as a result lost every shred of power. It’s a great dramatic thread for a farce. Unfortunately, it’s embedded in a real tragedy. And that kind of takes the fun out of it, at least for me.
They could, theoretically, have a great awakening and decide as one to throw off the shackles of the oligarchs and rejoin the difficult game of government by democracy. They would have more power than they ever had before because they would be free to work creatively and solve actual problems with actual work. They would help build a better world for their children and for everyone’s children to live in. They would certainly feel cleaner. That would be something that they could be proud of; that they wouldn’t mind the history books touting; a legacy for grandchildren.
I wonder how the Nazis who were still alive in Germany after the war explained their role to their grandchildren.
Hairline fracture, fissure fracture, march fracture, spontaneous fracture, fatigue fracture
Stress fracture of the second metatarsal bone (below the knuckles of the second toe)
“A stress fracture is a fatigue-induced bone fracture caused by repeated stress over time. Instead of resulting from a single severe impact, stress fractures are the result of accumulated injury from repeated submaximal loading, such as running or jumping. Because of this mechanism, stress fractures are common overuse injuries in athletes.
Stress fractures can be described as small cracks in the bone, or hairline fractures. Stress fractures of the foot are sometimes called “march fractures” because of the injury’s prevalence among heavily marching soldiers. Stress fractures most frequently occur in weight-bearing bones of the lower extremities, such as the tibia and fibula (bones of the lower leg), metatarsal and navicular bones (bones of the foot). Less common are stress fractures to the femur, pelvis, and sacrum. Treatment usually consists of rest followed by a gradual return to exercise over a period of months.”
A few weeks ago, I was playing tennis as I regularly do about 3-4 times a week. Also, as usual, my feet really began to hurt after two sets. I find that changing shoes typically helps the situation, so I sat down to change my shoes. It was extremely difficult to get my foot into my shoe — I had to bang it hard to get it in. Finally — success!
So, I was ready to play a third set. But after two points, I realized there was no way I was going to play more tennis. I hobbled home and could barely mount the shallow steps to the front door. It was “Labor Day” so most places were closed. We finally got my painful ankle X-rayed and the doctor who read the X-rays said, “Good news! No new breaks in your ankle.”
That was good news.
Except that so far as I knew, I had never broken my ankle in the past! That brings to seven the total number of broken bones I’ve had.
I was born with flat feet and all my life I’ve had flat feet and pronated ankles. Now, however, things had moved to a new and much worse chapter. I could literally put zero weight on my left leg. Now, I can walk. Which means, I can now play tennis.
How could I have broken an ankle and not have been aware of it? Because of the structural defects in my feet, instead of having an arch that works to distribute the stress of running, jumping, and landing, one of the key bones in my arch has moved downward and toward the midline. So now, every time I land hard, the stress is not distributed evenly through the arch but smashes down into the outside of my ankle bone.
That sucks. And it makes playing tennis iffy. And, it’s painful. And, potentially dangerous.
Not so much as the fracturing of American democracy however.
The Trumputinists have been waging a War on Truth against America for years. They stepped up their game significantly with TFG. Who benefits from the War on Truth?
Not the American citizens!
The man who got TFG Putin office benefits.
America has long been the major thorn in the side of Putin’s ambitions to reconstitute the USSR and possibly even to “rule the world.” It’s a crazy ambition, to my way of thinking. But not to would-be dictators.
I like tennis.
But some folks like stamp collecting. And some like to quilt. And some few like to destroy the love and livelihood of others in order to gain power. (Essays on America: The Game).
About 2400-2500 Americans were killed by the sudden attack on Pearl Harbor. FDR immediately declared war on Japan. That was like a traumatic bone break to a human body.
The Trumputinists, through their campaign of lies, false cures, false promises, and executive orders have driven up the number of deaths of Americans from the pandemic by hundreds of thousands. They have killed more Americans than were killed in 9/11 and Pearl Harbor and the War in Vietnam, and the Middle Eastern wars combined.
In 1860, the South seceded from the Union. Did Lincoln declare war on the South? No. Did he attack the South? No. The South attacked Fort Sumpter. Do you know how many Americans they killed?
Two Union soldiers were killed in an accidental explosion while they were leaving the fort.
Even before the pandemic hit, TFG was rolling back safeguards on the food supply, clean water regulations, and clean air regulations. He was isolating America from our allies.
TFG replaced patriotic, non-partisan experts throughout government with inept lackeys who would do anything to curry favor with the Putin-backed coup.
TFG did everything he could to destroy the careers of any patriotic Republicans who stood up to him.
TFG, millions of dollars in “dark money” and the Trumputinist backers have subverted confidence in elections and passed “laws” that mean that they can simply “overturn” elections when they don’t win. Nonetheless, they have also passed laws to suppress the votes of POC, the elderly, Armed Services personnel, Native Americans, and students. Suppressing the vote, aside from being unfair, guarantees that inept, cruel, and corrupt politicians will be the norm.
The Trumputinists deny that their deadly attack on the United States Capitol was a crime. They claim it was just a regular day of tourism.
Major stress fracture.
America faces serious problems such as the need for immigration reform, wealth inequality, racial injustice, crumbling infrastructure, COVID, cybercrime, social media companies giving in to brutal dictators like Putin, climate disasters. The Trumputinists pretend to want to be part of the solution but actually are doing everything in their power to prevent these crises from being addressed.
As the stress fractures in your body continue to multiply, you will begin to bleed to death internally. And, being unable to move, you will be unable to battle predators of any description.
It’s past time to bring to justice those who are trying to destroy our democracy, even if that makes Putin upset.
It’s important to remember that in the last Presidential election, Republicans and Democrats worked together throughout the country to run the election. Those were actual Republicans — Americans who are typically more conservative than their Democratic colleagues. Those folks are being threatened with physical violence as are their families unless they pledge to be Trumputinists. Of course, the Trumputinist don’t call themselves “Fascists” or “Trumputinists” but so what?
People who stormed the US Capitol; politicians who support the overthrow of democracy; people who threaten violence against actual Republicans who do not support the big lie — they all need to be dealt with legally, but quickly and thoroughly.
One thing we do know from history: trying to placate a cruel ego-maniacal dictator by, say, giving them Poland, does not work. Ask the ghost of Neville Chamberlain.
I honestly cannot think of how the Trumputinists could make it more clear.
They are not playing on team America.
They have already attacked American democratic institutions and stormed America’s Capitol.
They have already killed 1/2 million innocent Americans.
They are still perpetuating the big lie.
They certainly have no business being seated in the Congress of the United States of America.
Many of the Trumputinists have been trained to deny the efficacy of masks, social distancing, and the vaccines.
But many Democrats have been trained to deny the severity of the crisis we are facing. Ignoring the X-rays and pretending it’s all business as usual won’t knit my bones back together.
Ignoring the fact that Trumputinists are fighting an undeclared war on our country will not make us safe any more than shutting our eyes will make us safe from the circling wolf pack or the growing climate crisis or the unsustainable chasm in wealth and opportunity.
Trumputinists killed a half million Americans (and counting) by not addressing the pandemic realistically.
This is satire. Gravity is not a hoax. And, should you feel compelled to jump out of an airplane from high in the sky, you will definitely want a parachute and not rely instead on a Faux News commentator’s words to cushion your fall.
One of the sadder misconceptions about a fascist dictatorship is that life will at least be clear and predictable. There will be clear rules, laid out in black and white, and if you keep your nose clean and do as you’re told, you’ll be safe and your family will be safe. Only trouble-makers will get in trouble. In this view, Democracy seems like a cool idea, but in reality, there is endless discord and disagreement. Some begin to think that we’ll all be so much better off if we just have one source of information that we all agree on, regardless of how bogus that source is.
What will actually happen under a dictatorship is the opposite of this promise.
There will be more chaos, not less.
Think about it. In our current society, truth ultimately rules over power. Yes, of course, there are people who are afraid to speak truth to power. And most of us have had that boss who is simply inept or opinionated and doesn’t care much about reality. But they are the exception. Most people in a corporation can be brought round if you have truth on your side. For some decision makers, convincing them of what is best for the organization as a whole is enough. But sometimes, you also have to find a way to explain that it’s also in their personal interest to do what’s best for the company. But most bosses and managers don’t act like complete jerks. And part of the reason is that they know they will be held accountable in some way if they behave too far outside the norm.
In a culture where power trumps truth, however, the only thing that matters is power, not truth. Some people will nonetheless have a tendency to be regular in their behavior. So, you can count on that, at least. Except, of course, that you cannot count on that. Because at any time, and for any unforeseen reason, that person who follows some principles or values or code or flow-chart or best practices — they can be over-ridden by someone higher up. If they don’t toe the line, they will be fired and someone else will replace them who will do as they’re told.
You might be doing a great job when all at once you’re fired — not for anything at all related to your performance — no, you could be fired for telling the truth. And, you could even be fired for your brother telling the truth.
There is no predictability. There is only chaos. Chaos is what a dictator thrives on. By continual change, dictated from the top in completely unpredictable ways, the dictator gains more and more control. For instance, let’s imagine that the dictator (or even a would-be dictator with inside knowledge) brokers a wonderful trade deal with China in which both parties benefit; a real win/win situation. If this happens in real life, word will leak out and eventually there will be confirmation and the stock market will tend to go up. But it’s a lot of work to make such a deal.
Imagine instead that you decided to grant some monetary favors to some of your largest donors. You tell them that you’re about to make a big announcement of a wonderful trade deal with China. They buy stocks low. You make your announcement. The stock market goes up. They sell stocks high. Everyone discovers there’s no “there” there and the stock market goes back down. Meanwhile, your friends made millions.
For everyone else though, it’s simply chaos. It makes financial planning hard; it makes career planning difficult; it makes all planning difficult. Remember: at any time and for any reason, an “order from headquarters” could render all your previous planning useless. The person you have teamed with for years could be hauled off suddenly for a political crime. Of course, at first you’ll find it hard to believe. After all, you’ve known Frank for years. He never seemed like the type to step out of line. But there is no-one to plead the other side in a dictatorship — not honestly. All trials become sham trials. The outcome is known in advance. If the powerful like you, you go free, no matter how heinous your crime and how strong the evidence. If the powerful don’t like you, you’ll be jailed, or executed, or (most fun of all) tortured until you give the names of five or six of your friends as also being enemies of the state. Truth doesn’t matter any more. The rule of law doesn’t matter any more.
More and more wealth will be funneled to the already very rich. That will make everyone else more desperate and crime will increase. More and more people will be incarcerated essentially being a slave work force. They will literally be working and surviving and nothing more. No more attempts at rehabilitation. Who wants them rehabilitated? They are cheap labor. And, what’s equally important, they serve as a great reminder to everyone not in prison that prison is theirs for the asking. All they have to do is utter the truth or fail to shout “Heil Hitler! Heil Hitler!” loudly enough and they too can have a one way ticket to hell.
What happened when Mao became dictator of China? Educated people were sent out into the fields. Many were executed. Society was turned completely on its head. Russian Revolution: Same. Hitler’s Germany — much of it was bombed, millions killed, turned ordinary people into monsters. It’s always the same. The founding fathers had seen it over and over in country after country in age after age. Absolute power cannot be safely bestowed on anyone — not even a person of great character and wisdom.
George Washington faced danger, exhibited leadership and helped our young nation survive.
Yet, he did not want to be king.
Donald Trump ran from danger, exhibited no leadership and will have needlessly killed a quarter million Americans. He’s isolated us from our allies. He’s divided the country against itself. He’s railed against the free press since day one. He’s replaced non-partisan experts throughout government with inept lackeys. He is preparing for a fascist state. He’s a willing accomplice in the destruction of American.
Yet he does want to be King.
And if he does? Life will be less regular and less predictable and less organized. It will be more chaotic as well as more sadistic. Is that really the world you want your kids and grandkids to grow up in?