31 Comments
founding

The thing I’ll never forget is prior to 9/11 I naively thought the United States was a country that would never officially condone torture regardless of political party.

The horrific realization that millions upon millions of my fellow citizens WANTED to torture other humans haunts me to this day.

I had always thought “well only evil people torture other human beings” so what does that say about all those millions here who supported it and cheered for it? I can only conclude they are no different than those who I thought previously were the evil people.

Then these same millions when given the opportunity to reverse course, to show that maybe they made a horrible mistake, instead decided to make an openly cruel and bigoted orange fascist conman their new Jesus.

These are collective moral failures on such a massive scale forgetting it happened is impossible and it seems the MAGA hat crowd is proud to show us what moral bankruptcy looks like every chance they get.

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Over and over, people say and do things that are so shockingly immoral and evil that I have difficulty believing they can look in the mirror afterwards, but there it is. It is disheartening and depressing. I don't have much to fight it with - my votes, my words, a little money, my limited ability to act with kindness and justice (limited in scope) - but at least I can find others who feel the same. And I remember the words of W.H. Auden -

Defenceless under the night

Our world in stupor lies;

Yet, dotted everywhere,

Ironic points of light

Flash out wherever the Just

Exchange their messages:

May I, composed like them

Of Eros and of dust,

Beleaguered by the same

Negation and despair,

Show an affirming flame.

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I felt the same things, how horrifying people in our country could be. Then I felt it again during the Pandemic, realizing how many truly selfish people there are in this country, and how that selfishness has continued way beyond that point. Some days I am just overwhelmed by the feelings of futility that come over me, but I carry on as best I can.

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founding
Sep 10, 2023·edited Sep 10, 2023

I think I can remember the view through that door before they closed it. I was pretty involved in the Global Justice movement at the time, enough that I travelled to Quebec to take part in a massive protest against the Free Trade Area of the Americas right after Bush's selection, and I was thrilled by a glimpse of global solidarity, of ordinary people uniting across borders against the bosses, but also FOR something like a better world.

I went to lots of protests after that, too, including what might have been the first large protest against the Afghanistan war, in Washington D.C. before the war even started (and yes, "What are you protesting for? There isn't even a war to protest!" was one of the snappy retorts I heard back then.) That D.C. protest had actually been planned for yet another "Free Trade" meeting that was to take place in D.C. in October, and it was quickly repurposed to an antiwar protest two weeks after the towers came down. And looking back at it now, that's what happened all over, a Global Justice movement that contained, at least partly, an idea of a much better world got repurposed into just NO. And a very necessary NO it was, but it still was just NO. We lost so much, I hope we can get it back some day.

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To make this real, we must vote. Voting between wealthy and poor is about equal, but being able to register to vote among poorer communities and communities of color is much harder. We must all do what we can to get voters registered and need to all write our congress persons to get them to pass laws denying gerrymandering, and voting rights. Push for automatic voting rights for all citizens. Demand the Supreme Court must follow ethical standards. Demand reversal of citizens united and billionares being able to control judges and politicians. Flood Congress with your demands to protect democracy which they have not done for the past 4 decades. We can have a multiracial pluralistic society democracy if we unite in our demands to base laws supporting the common good and what nurtures and sustains LIFE. We must remember,, ut we must also act.

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founding

Here in Wisconsin we did heed the call to vote, and we voted in startling numbers for Janet Protasiewicz for our Supreme Court, handing her an 11 point victory in a state that NEVER sees 11 point victories in statewide races. And now the Republicans in the legislature are planning a giant "fuck you!" to the voters, impeaching Protasiewicz but deliberately NOT putting her on trial so she can exist in a permanent non-voting limbo and our Democratic Governor can't replace her (aren't they clever?)

And yet we can't fall into the cynicism of "Eh, why even bother?". we just have to pull ourselves together and keep plugging away, phoning and door-knocking for the next election, because what choice have we got?

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I don't like the Democrats much, even though my MAGA father jokes about my endless adoration of them, but I'm willing to speak out and vote for them because we're stuck in this dumbass two party system and they're the ones most likely to be shiftable to the left. But we also need to remember (as I think the much-missed Howard Zinn once said) that we didn't get the actual progressive victories we HAVE had because nice people in power gave them to us, but from a long history of protest and nonviolent direct action. (Which, gosh, they never cover in school, mirable dictu, I wonder why)

I don't know what the path out of this is, I'm just a guy with (evidently) subversive thoughts, but I'm sure there IS one, if we want it.

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founding

This is a memory that's now old enough to vote, but I remember quoting Zinn, “What matters most is not who is sitting in the White House, but who is sitting in", and really believing that. And it's not completely wrong, but it's also true that, depending on who's sitting in the White House you can spend so much of your time and energy opposing bad stuff that it doesn't leave much space for advocating for good stuff.

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founding

I guess even historians are a product of their times, and Zinn's life experience was a string of Presidents, the worst of which was Nixon, and Nixon brought the EPA and OSHA and a bunch of other relatively progressive policies into being, because of strong popular movements. Even the best of us can lack the imagination to see how bad things could get.

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Stark and true especially the last section. I needed this today.

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This is one of your best. I read it out loud to my husband this morning. The worst part is that we watched it happen, knew what was happening, and some of us tried to push back. But we were swept along by the terrible current.

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Sep 10, 2023·edited Sep 10, 2023

You have written some really exception columns recently, and this is certainly one of them. I post progressive stuff heavily on Facebook to 3,500 FB friends, but recently I have found that posts from any news source or column source get only a few comments at best. Facebook's algorithms are suppressing that type of post. So rather than sharing it directly, which embeds the link and alerts the algo-bots, today I copied the entire text to Notepad, saved the graphic to my computer, and recreated the post by pasting the full text into Facebook with the original headline and then including the graphic in the post. I linked to the column on substack from the first comment to the post.

I just wanted to let you know so that A. You knew you had one more share that doesn't show up in your statistics, and B. Other people who care about their Facebook audiences could try it too. I will comment again in a few days if this strategy actually works.

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Thank you for this tip!

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I think of the time intelligence personnel outlined the plans for the attack to POTUS the month before it all happened, and the collective shoulder shrug in response, and I always ask myself, "What if SCOTUS hadn't messed up Florida and Al Gore was in the White House instead? Would the attacks have still happened?"

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Thank you for this.

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I watched this day unfold from the student lounge of my Canadian law school, and that open frame was the only thing I had ever known. And even though I’m not American, I can see the same trends take shape in my country, while I’ve been learning to look behind me for others to drag through that perpetually closing door.

I see my son standing there now, and more than anything I want him to hold that door open, at all possible costs, and to always do what he feels to be right. But I fear the scale of the task is beyond any of us, short of all of us.

Thank you for this.

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I was at work. I got the call from my then wife; she told me to go to a television, that one of the towers was hit by a plane. When I was able to get to the closest TV a few minutes later with a group of physicians and nurses, the second plane hit. The first words I spoke: “We’re going to war.”

A doctor next to me replied, “That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard.”

Turned out that we were both right.

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Thank you for these heartfelt words, truths, facts, and knowledge of how we got here and acknowledging the wrongheadedness of bowing down, and raising up authoritarians who blatantly abuse their power within and outside of the United States.

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I am so sorry. Hopefully you can use this as an example to get more republicans voted out. How can they impeach her without public hearings?

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founding

The trick is that the Republican-controlled House votes to impeach, then sends it to the Republican-controlled Senate which sits on it and does nothing, a thing they excel at (kinda like Mitch McConnell did with Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland to the SC.)

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Thank You for this!

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3,000 deaths PER DAY.

During the pandemic, we had over three thousand American deaths per day. A nine eleven each and every day.

And during this time, the very people who wave American flags and shout "never forget" on 9/11 decided that three thousand dead Americans per day was not enough for them. They got angry at and openly attacked anyone who tried to make that number smaller. They went out of their way to make that number bigger, while sending a flood of anonymous death threats to any doctor or scientist who tried to save lives.

And many of the liberals who acted angry in the face of such behavior turned around and promoted reopening this nation prematurely after Biden was in office. Why? For many of the same reasons Republicans wanted to ignore life-saving measures while Trump was in office.

If America made the same sorts of pandemic decisions as other nations such as Japan, we might have had ¾ million fewer deaths. You don't get to contribute to three quarters of a million American deaths, then prance around and pretend to be offended by three thousand deaths. Not unless your goal is to watch people double over in laughter at your hypocrisy.

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Thank you for this.

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Well said! The door analogy was excellent

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