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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 18,906

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America's Fundamental Dichotomy

In a nutshell, America has ground to a halt as a nation, as a culture, as a meta-community, because we no longer believe we can have nice things.

Like roads.

Like jobs.

Like education.

And so on, ad infinitum.

And we cannot get past the "we can't have nice things" because there is a fundamental dichotomy between Americans who believe we can't have nice things because racism, and Americans who believe we can't have nice things because of skeery brown folk.

I realized this today when I was talking to a young friend who has had some severe health problems lately, involving several neurosurgeries and some difficult treatments and rehab. Fortunately for her she lives in a blue state that expanded Medicaid, and she was explaining to me a difficulty she's dealing with in trying to balance the work she CAN do (which is mostly 'home help' jobs of various types) with retaining access to her necessary medical care - she can't make too much money or they will kick her off.

That's a different rant, though. What went through my mind was my own history on public assistance, for various periods in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when my daughter was a toddler and her 'other Mom' was struggling with addiction.

Look, public assistance has never been regarded well in America, for a whole raft of reasons most of which make very little rational sense. But back when I was on it, there was a qualitative difference to the processes involved.

Yes, they were bureaucratic and some of them were excessive, redundant, and silly.

Yes, there were periodic verifications needed to ensure you continued to qualify for the assistance.

Yes, there were "case workers" and other public employees whose job was to "help" you do things that would reduce or eliminate your need for public assistance, and some of them were dicks.

But... here's the deal: Back then, although there was a certain stigma to pulling out your "food stamps" at the grocery store, and it wasn't exactly something you wanted to tell everyone about, there was a lot less of the "you must be a waste of oxygen just for being on public assistance" mindset that has gotten baked into every process connected with administering public assistance programs in the intervening decades.

Yanno why?

ONE thing, and I was there when it happened:

Ronald Reagan decided to turn public assistance into a racist dogwhistle to gin up the GOP base, with his toxic burble about "Welfare Queens in Cadillacs". HE was the one who decided that "on public assistance", "brown-skinned" and "lazy slackers cheating the system" should become inextricably linked in the (white) mind.

Nevermind the documented fact that the solid majority of all people receiving all kinds of public assistance was then, and has been ever since, WHITE.

The conflation of "public assistance/brown-skinned/lazy cheater" has become not just a toxic mindworm in the white psyche, but a justification for turning all kinds of public assistance processes into humiliating, punitive, pecksniffery focused entirely on delivering the minimum possible benefit for the shortest possible time, regardless of how counter-productive that may be.

And that white majority of public assistance recipients? Do they rise up in righteous wrath and say "WTF, America, we are your neighbors and human beings with lives and potential who need help and will use it well?"


They say "It wouldn't be such a pain in the ass if it weren't for all those lazy brown-skinned people trying to cheat the system." (And the number of them saying this while trying to cheat the system themselves is painfully ironic, too.)

These are the Americans who believe "we can't have nice things because of brown-skinned people."

And they will never, never, NEVER compromise with the rest of us who know damn' well that the reason we can't have nice things is because racism.

And we won't compromise with them, because. well... duh.

So we just have to try and keep them from perpetuating their toxic delusions into younger generations, and die off, I guess.

At some point, there will be a sufficient majority of us who understand that we can't have nice things because racism, to start actually doing something to change all the baked-in racism in every economic, political, social, and cultural process in America.

I hope my grandson's kids are around to see that.


So this is going to sound harsh...

...and I really don't mean it harshly. BUT...

If you want to NOT GET SHOT AND KILLED and/or not have your family members living with you shot and killed, or your kids in school shot and killed...


If you are a woman and want to maintain control of choices that affect your bodily health and well-being...


Yes, I know it's not easy to just pick up and move yourself, a family, etc.

But there is a labor shortage almost everywhere. You may have a better chance of finding a job, moving now, for one thing. Yes, housing is more expensive in a lot of places, but what really matters?

Think back to the people who left Germany in the 1930s. They gave up everything... and saved their lives, and in many cases, they managed to rebuild their prosperity and ensure a better future for their children, by "leaving home" when it was becoming clear that "home" no longer cared about their well-being, their rights, or their lives.

I'm not sure there are any other good choices right now.


Should we interrupt them?

Nothing unifies a group composed of people with many backgrounds and varying experiences and points of view as effectively as a big, fat, menacing wall to push against.

Whatever minor differences they may have are subsumed in the consensus that the wall MUST come down.

You will see this in action in Afghanistan as without the wall of U.S. occupation to push against, the Taliban will begin splintering and forming factions and fighting among themselves, trying to grab the biggest share of any boodle available, push their specific agenda the hardest, work out vengeance on their particular enemies the fastest, etc. Take it to the bank. It may take weeks or months, but within a year or two we will see information about this Taliban faction versus that Taliban faction and the suffering that chaos continues to inflict on the Afghan people.

For decades, here in the United States, the wealthy and powerful have used the GOP and its cadre of useful idiots to push back against a looming wall of inevitable progress and change that will dilute their hold on power and limit their capacity to loot the economy. By painting the wall with layers of white supremacist, nativist, homophobic, misogynist and other fears, they've unified their useful idiots and kept them all pushing in the necessary direction to distract and dismay and delay change.

Now, at last, they have overreached themselves. Now they are becoming the wall.

The GOP, especially the Austin Taliban, is working diligently to ensure that the House will remain in Democratic hands after the 2022 election, shrewdly assisted by Speaker Pelosi who doesn't miss an opportunity to focus the outrage and demonstrate a tangible response.

They're doing their best to ensure an outright majority for Democrats in the Senate, which is looking likelier by the day.

And now the Supreme Court is publicly destroying the credibility of its own institutional structure.

If they keep going at this rate, when the dust clears in mid-November 2022, we could have:

a) A House majority
b) A Senate majority; and
c) Increasing support for Supreme Court reform.

So, should we interrupt them?

Might be a better use of our resources to spotlight that wall they're building, and make an electoral strategy of it.

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