I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
February 02, 2018 - 11:27 a.m.
I have not gotten a notice that I had mail in my PO box in ages. I decided to trek down to Columbus Circle to see if I had any. I had tons. Most of it was junk but still, I should have been notified. I had nothing else to do in the City, so I turned around and went home. Part of it is that I just needed to get out and about. It would have been nice if I knew it was going to rain. I got lucky, it was light when I was out in it. I did not have an umbrella.
I had a pleasant surprise when I got home, Jane and Bernie ordered a large pizza but got a large one. Guess who ate the excess. There was a long time, years, that I didn't eat enough pizza; now I have it often. What I don't do enough is have pizza with friends.
My anxiety was bas last night, good thing I have therapy today. I felt better in the morning even though I didn't get enough sleep. That had nothing to do with the anxiety. I just woke up early and didn't go right back to sleep. I did take a little nap. I have a long day today and considered going back to bed instead of writing this, but I love My Gentle Readers too much for that.
I read the New York Times and much other news, especially the Washington Post, that comes across my online newsfeeds. I also read my friends' reactions to the news. My reactions are often anger and frustration. One of my frustrations is the low threshold of outrage for many people. Social media promotes that, outrage gets comments and likes. I get outraged too, but I set the bar higher. I don't get outraged that somebody didn't show their disapproval the way I think they should voice their disapproval. Last night I got on an outrage roll, but anger helps nothing. I'm going to approach it with reason.
The trigger for it was the GOP effort to discredit the FBI and the Justice Department. The extent of the corruption is tragic. I am not talking political corruption but the corruption of souls. The Republicans are the party of Law and Order. They have reacted with fury and any criticism of law enforcement. They vilify Black Lives Matter as an attack on the police. The GOP is the party of national security. They felt that all checks on intelligence agencies was hamstringing national defense. Our civil liberties had to take a back seat to fighting terrorism.
Where is their outrage now? Why are they not furious with Trump and Nunes? They are claiming that the Justice Department and FBI are corrupt institutions that can't be trusted. They are releasing a memo that Trump's own appointment threatens national security. There have been a few peeps from a few senators, but Republicans in Congress are going along with it. The Republican rank and files are cheering. Someone I know who gets livid at any criticism of police has no problem with this. How did we reach this point? It's been a long process; it accelerated under Trump, but its roots go back to before I was born.
There's no start to the story but I'll begin in 1948. The country had been through the most turbulent era since the Civil War; The Great Depression, to WWII, to the Cold War. Our vision of the role of government transformed. This was bound to cause a political realignment and it did; it took about 20 years. I'm starting with '48 because of Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats. At the time though there were only two official major parties in effect there were three, The Democrats, the Republicans, and the Southern Democrats. The South was solidly Democratic not out of support for the Democratic program but because of their opposition to the Party of Lincoln and Reconstruction.
During the emergencies of dealing with Depression and the New Deal the Democrats allowed the Southern Democrats to maintain segregation and altered New Deal Programs such as Social Security to the detriment of blacks. It was the only way to get the programs passed. After fighting the racist Nazis this compromise became more difficult to live with. Hubert Humphrey made one of the great political speeches at the Democratic Convention.
My friends, to those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are 172 years late. To those who say that this civil-rights program is an infringement on states’ rights, I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states' rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights. People -- human beings -- this is the issue of the 20th century. People of all kinds -- all sorts of people -- and these people are looking to America for leadership, and they’re looking to America for precept and example.This was too much for the Southern Democrats, they walked out. Strom Thurmond ran for President as the candidate of the States Rights Party better known as the Dixiecrats.
The South returned to the fold for the next three elections then in 1964 the Civil Rights act was passed and once again this was too much; the South, and only the South and his native Arizona, went for the Republican Goldwater. That's where I start my political awareness. At the time the South was still nominally Democratic and controlled many congressional committees because of the seniority system but they were a party apart. The Democrats were to the left of the Republicans, but the Southern Democrats were to the right. As the GOP likes to brag, a higher proportion of the Republicans in congress voted for the Civil Rights act than the Democrats. At the time there were plenty of liberal Republicans, Nelson Rockefeller, Jacob Javits, and Lowell Weicker. The Democrats out of the south overwhelmingly supported the Civil Rights act but the Southern Dems were united against it.
Richard Nixon decided to take advantage of this with his Southern Strategy. He would not be openly racist but used code words and innuendo to make clear that he would not push the South to change. In the 1968 election, 20 years after the Dixiecrats, George Wallace ran on a segregation and law and order platform. He and Nixon split the South and Nixon squeaked out a victory. In 1972 the transformation was complete; the south was solid for Nixon. It took longer on the local level but politicians, including Strom Thurmond, switched parties. The solid South went from a Democratic redoubt to reliable Republicans.
Now it was the Republicans that had to compromise with the South and the South became the core of the party. The GOP establishment's economic program favored the wealthy, the wealthy don't form a majority to win elections. To attract middle class and poor whites they had to support conservative social issues. The GOP came to accept that as the norm. It might not be why they became Republicans, but it was part of the culture. They learned to accept it. You won elections with dog whistles, so you made dog whistles. Slowly their positions aligned with the whistles. People don't want to see themselves as hypocrites. Instead they justify the positions they take until they accept them. That's not a Republican failure, it's human nature. They came to accept more and more things that would have shocked an Eisenhower Republican. They turned against evolution, abortion, and climate change, not just civil rights. When gay rights became an issue, they had no choice but to be against them. It's what the base wanted. The base wanted it as they were corrupted too. It's what it meant to be a Republican.
When Trump was elected all the barriers went down. There are some Republicans that drew a line and said, I won't cross it, but not many. To do that is to confront all the compromises they made earlier. Corruption reinforces itself. So now we have the party of Law and Order and Security making war on the FBI. They turn their backs on the ordinary corruption of the Trumps, the self-dealing.
I get angry at this but even more I am saddened. How do we get out of this? How do they get out of this? Most frightening to me is the danger that the Democratic reaction is to make compromises with truth to fire up the base. I hear people who rail against the US military use of force advocating violence to fight the fascists. I hear people saying that they don't care if someone lies if they agree with like the lies. We must remind ourselves that Republicans are not inherently less moral. On a personal level most are still good people. We are all vulnerable to corruption. Tolkien understood; we can not use the Ring to fight evil as the Ring makes us evil. All fights for morality begin in own minds.
I'd like to write more but it's already late. I have less than an hour to make breakfast and get dressed and get out of here.
I signed the Pro-Truth Pledge:
please hold me accountable.
Memories: Not that Horrid Song - May 29, 2018
Follow on Feedly