Whiskey & Cigars

When I was a kid I was a reader. I am still, although of course limited by working two jobs and my other projects. But I think of this in the context of what it has meant to my development. I credit my love of reading for my perpetual intellectual curiosity which feeds in to so many other positive aspects. I also think of this in the context of MYO always pushing reading on our kids. It really is the primary driver in learning. If you love to read—you love to learn. If you love to learn, it’s almost impossible to not become a better person in so many ways.

If we quit learning, well then what’s the point.

Talked to Prachi for two hours this afternoon. Good friend. We chat most weekends; usually while we are both in the kitchen. Her and her husband are facing a real dilemma. They have been accepted for Canadian citizenship. Meanwhile, the Trump administration has dramatically slowed the process for green card processing and tripled the fees. If they continue the application process here, there is no guarantee they will be accepted before they must make a final decision for Canada. Meanwhile, the fees mount up. Tough stuff. They like it here. Both have exceptional qualifications. Both are smart and hard working and they are raising a lovely young son. All the qualities in people we should be begging to come to our country. But of course, Trump is a monster. So they are jumping through hoops; spending money; living with the anxiety of an uncertain future.

I have no ethical or moral dilemma at all in saying I hope Trump dies of COVID. His presence on the earth does massive harm to tens of thousands of people. He is a net negative at a time when the world needs far more positive energy and positive presence. So he must go.

Why are people who are conservative in their political and social views so threatened by people with liberal social and political views? I realize it’s rhetorical, but still worth putting some energy in to examining.

Anyone who knows me or even reads any of my writing knows I am very liberal in just about every sense. One of the most difficult ironies to comprehend is the notion that conservatives have the moral high ground. Because they tend to be more religious, this is somehow seen as being more caring. More empathetic. And yet 100% of evidence suggests otherwise. Conservatives are far more likely to oppose expanding social benefits which helps people in need. They are far more likely to support large militaries and foreign wars. They are far less supportive of taxing the wealthy in a higher amount to reduce income inequality. They are far more likely to support education initiatives that favor private school (especially religious-based schools) at the expense of public or secular school funding. They have supported Trump as he has terrorized, marginalized, and inhumanely pursued immigrants; even standing by him when he took children from the arms of their parents and shipped them to live separately and in some cases completely lost track of how to re-unite them. They have stood by Trump as he has pursued ridiculously infantile trade policy which has damaged the most vulnerable workers in our society—although he provides hand-outs to farmers who are disproportionately conservative and support him. They stand by Trump as he continues to do all he can to dismantle environmental gains, small as they are, that begin to address climate change.

These moral and religious people who try to occupy the moral high ground support Trump when he has been caught lying about everything. He lies every single day about important things. He openly advocates and encourages chaos including violence against peaceful protestors. He is many times divorced. He has many times used bankruptcy laws to avoid paying people who worked for him in good faith. He has routinely had affairs on his multiple wives.

Yet, the vast majority of people who are religious and consider themselves conservative are either willingly deceiving themselves and refuse to acknowledge these facts as truths. Or, they deep down know these things are true but for some completely unfathomable reason continue to support this ridiculous caricature of a man.

I have a few theories.

Perhaps some conservative people who lash out at liberals do so because they are ashamed that they have taken positions for years that are indefensible and do not have the moral courage to admit their mistakes?

Perhaps some are just raised that way and do not have the cognitive ability to think and to understand fact from fiction—they simply accept the rhetoric they have always heard as truth.

Perhaps some are raised that way and even if they do have the cognitive ability to understand reality, they do not have the moral courage to step away from family and friends with a different viewpoint.

Or, perhaps most sadly, they simply are not the kind, compassionate, empathetic people they purport to be. They have no interest in helping others outside of their immediate family or community and in particular no interest in helping someone who looks different than them or has different sexual identities or even different social or political views.

The common viewpoint is that they will support anyone who purport to overturn Roe-vs-Wade. But I find this explanation lacking. Too simplistic. And gives too much credit to ignorant people for having the ability or discipline to set long term strategy.

In any case, I do not concede the moral high ground to people who support Trump or the modern Republican Party. Their attempted occupation of that space was always dubious, but is outright ridiculous in the age of Trump.

So to those conservative acquaintances— those people whom I’ve worked with or gone to school with, or otherwise come to know who support Trump or really any Republican candidates, I would hope that you endeavor to grow up sometime soon. To educate yourself. Learn to discern truth from fiction. Have the moral rectitude to do what is right. Step away from this ridiculous fantasy that Republican policies are effective or practical. Republican politics are nothing more than a power grab and their techniques are 100% dependent on people like you continuing to drink their cool-aid.

I sometimes like to Imagine if the Supreme Court had not handed the election to Bush. Think of the thousands of American kids who would not have lost limbs or have PTSD due to our illegal invasion of Iraq. Think of all the Iraq’s and Afghani’s who would still be alive or not displaced or who did not have their lives massively disrupted through years of illegal occupation from an invading force. Think of the several trillion dollars we would have available to us now that would not have been wasted on those senseless wars.

Bush was a climate change denier. Think how much further ahead we would be in our climate policy if someone like Gore had been president for those 8 years. We would not have the immoral and unethical stains of Guantanamo and torture on our collective conscious.

If I was truly committed to social justice, I would fully commit to the reality that the US is in the midst of a civil war. The police and judicial system are traumatizing and killing people of color. Institutionally; methodically; continuously. Every day. Every week. Every month and every year now for hundreds of years. If I was truly committed I would join this war. A life for a life. Take one from this side, and I will take one of yours. Would that help? Perhaps. Nothing else seems to, so what is there to lose? Even Mandela eventually realized peaceful protest alone was unlikely to ever bring about the end of apartheid and so he formed uMkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC. He wrote extensively about the difficulty of this decision, but there is little question that it helped bring attention to their cause. If white people felt the same fear, or even a fraction of the fear and insecurity and difficulty the average black feels in America, would this help bring about change?

It’s interesting that so many people now seem to be lamenting ‘the loss of America’ or just suggesting ‘America has lost its way’. But when you look at US history, from attempted genocide and systemic marginalization of Native Americans, to slave trade and slavery and post-slavery Jim Crow laws, to our support of brutal dictators around the world when it served our interests, to our contribution to the destruction of the planet, to our clumsy attempts to enforce our values and economic system on other nations around the world including assassinations and attempted assassinations and coups; well, there is not really a lot there to be proud of. Sure, we helped with WWII, but only after we were bombed and forced to join. Nearly all social gains we have made, we only embraced kicking and screaming and long past the time we knew what was right.

Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed …
We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.

                                                                                     ― Wallace Stegner, The Sound of Mountain Water

Tuesday was the first Presidential debate. And it was extraordinarily unpresidential. It was abysmal. Beyond description so I won’t try. It seems there’s a good chance Biden will win the election; but of course that’s what we thought last time. I am approved as a volunteer poll worker. Training on Monday and then working all day on Election Day.

I mailed in my COVID test today. It is a requirement before returning to the office. Then daily temperature checks and quick on-app health screen and then another COVID test every 30 days for the foreseeable future. It’s a brave new world.

Sitting by the fire on the patio now. Spaghetti with meatballs has been cooking for 5 hours or so. I also bought a lovely small filet mignon that I will slice razor thin for a nice carpaccio starter with Arugula, capers, parmesan and shallots and toast points. Enjoying a superb rosé from Cote de Provence.

This will be the first year since at least 1996 that I haven’t spent time in Europe. I miss it. Maybe next year. Just need to find the right time and get past this COVID bullshit. If I wait until my current project is over, I could probably go stay for a month. Homebase out of Sjoerd and Onah’s but then travel to my favorites places. Scotland. Spain. South of France and of course Amalfi coast. Some of the islands in north of Holland. Maybe visit Lars’ cabin in the mountains of Norway. Might need more than a month. But I also need to get to Namibia. I would love to see Beverly’s baby and visit my kids. Maybe I can talk my way into one more gig in Europe before I quit working. Or, if Earth Explore does well, that will give some freedoms.

Fall is upon us here in Northern OH. But it feels right.

No other news of note.



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