Thursday, November 26, 2020

Knowing When To Walk Away

Some folks like to nail themselves to the cross.

I wrote before how a person can squander their lives trying to "fix" other people, or make themselves miserable by hanging out with mentally ill people.  People try to "fix" a hoarding relative by cleaning out their house, only to find it filled to the rafters with junk, by the time they get back from the dump.  Hoarders are evil people - just walk away from them.

Reddit recently made headlines by banning its Qanon subreddit, which probably will have little effect. They banned "the_donald" but let r/DonaldTrump stick around - same shit, different subreddit.  Instead of subreddits spreading Qanon conspiracy lies, they have Qanon "recovery" subreddits where people go online and complain about relatives and loved ones who got sucked into the Qanon bullshit.

It reminded me a LOT of the "children of narcissists" subreddit, or any of the many sites for ex-scientologists and whatnot.  These are people who are spending a lot of their time - their lives - trying to fix other people, or obsessing about how they were snookered into a bad deal.

One lady was complaining that her fiancee was sucked into the Qanon rabbit-hole.  Everyone was sympathetic and talked about how to "cure" him of this malady (good luck with that - if you try to challenge someone's belief systems, you are basically attacking them, or so they feel).  No one bothered to mention the obvious - that maybe this was a blessing-in-disguise, as he was only her fiancee and not her husband or father of her children - yet.  Hey, maybe there are other men out there who are not insane - maybe try marrying one of them, instead?  Nah!

Others, like in the "Children of Narcissists" site, were adult children living with their parent. The parents watched Fox news all day long and visited Qanon websites. These "kids" try to argue with their parents and end up creating a toxic environment.  The idea of moving out of their parents' house is alien to them.

If you have friends who believe in Qanon or are otherwise mentally ill, don't try to "fix" them.  Just walk away, slowly.   Slowly - no need to make dramatic pronouncements that you are "cutting them our of your life forever" or whatnot.  Just see less and less of them until you see none of them.  If they somehow pull back from the brink of Qanon, the door is always open, but don't get your hopes up.  Crazy runs deep.

You see, people who get sucked into crap like that get sucked into other crap. Some have noted that Qanon "supporters" are often also anti-vaxxers, or "new age" people who believe in notions and potions, balms and ointments, "essential oils" and chankras and whatnot.   Even as they pull away from Qanon (and they will - these things are like evangelical churches - everyone leaves, eventually), they will latch on to something else - Scientology, or some guru, or some evangelical church even, or perhaps an MLM scheme.  In fact, I predict they will contact you for that very purpose - to apologize for being a dick about Qanon, but hey, have you heard about The Money Tree System?  Sign up now!

There are people out there who are just followers, period.  They lack an internal compass or sense of direction, so they follow the first person who comes along who sounds like he (or she) knows what they are talking about.  And perhaps society needs a lot of people like this - blind followers who latch onto causes that are not their own, and often to their own detriment - but to the advantage of others.

That's sort of the funny thing about it.  The followers of Qanon and other conspiracy theories destroy their own lives in the process.  Following a conspiracy theory never profits one personally (you have to be leading the conspiracy, selling the chumps books and seminars to make money at it). Yet the conspiracy theorist calls the folks who work for a living and save their money and accumulate wealth, "sheeple".  Like I said before, if you want to get ahead in life, just become one of the Illuminati.  It's simple - just "buy in" to the "myth" that hard work and thrift will get you ahead in the world.   Well, it worked for me, anyway.

But you can't fix stupid, as they say, and as I say, if you see someone about to drive their car off a cliff, first make sure you are not in the back seat when they do!  Too many people try to "save" others and end up only destroying themselves in the process.   What is the profit in that?  You can't save the other person - he thinks he knows what he is doing.   You only create a second victim - you.

That is the problem right there.  We all like to think we know what is best for ourselves.  We don't want outside intervention in our lives - and in fact, strongly resent it.  So if someone comes along and says they know what is best for you, odds are, you are going to reject their advice.   And most of the time, these do-gooders don't even have their own shit together.

"Oh, but that's selfish!" they say.  But it is not.  When you try to "help" someone and destroy yourself in the process, you are not being selfless, but creating an additional victim for society to support.   Your first duty in life is to support and take care of yourself - this is not "selfish", is it your obligation to the rest of society, the rest of us.  You are doing me a big favor by not going on welfare.  You are doing me a big favor by being a contributing member to society and not a drag on it. You see how this works?   It is a win-win situation for all of us.  You get a job and you pay taxes - and we're all happy.

You go down the rabbit-hole of Qanon or any other conspiracy theory, cult religion (a redundant term), investment scheme, MLM scam, or whatnot, you will make society generally unhappier and yourself very, very unhappy.  "Happy Conspiracy Theorist" is an oxymoron - these are depressed people, and depressed mostly because they believe in conspiracy theories.   If you are depressed, try not believing in conspiracy theories for a change.

Jesus said the poor will always be among us.   There will always be people sucked into scams and cons and whatnot, and there isn't much we can do about it.  You can try to throw a drowning man a life-ring, but if he throws it back at you and tries to sell you on the idea that drowning is fun, what do you do?  Suppose he rejects your life-ring because the color clashes with his bathing suit?   Maybe you can walk away and say you did what you could.  Risking your life to swim out and save him is a bad idea.  Drowning people, as we learned in Red Cross lifesaving, tend to drown their rescuers as well.

Today is Thanksgiving.   A lot of people go to visit relatives today and eat turkey.  Many dread this, as their relatives may be quite insane and blather on about conspiracy theories or what was on Fox News or whatnot.  What on earth to do?   Well, this year, the Corona Virus gives you the perfect excuse to just not go, or if you go, to limit contact with toxic relatives - who maybe literally toxic this year.

If you are still in college or a minor, well, it gets a little trickier - you may not have as many choices, or so it would appear.   You can, however, always choose not to engage people when they try to trigger you (and they will - conspiracy theory people are all passive-aggressive).   When Dad blathers on about how the Illuminati are stealing the election for Donald Trump or whatever, you can just keep quiet and go off and do something else.   Getting into an argument with people rarely results in anything construction happening - you are not going to convince them you are "right" and vice-versa.

Remaining sober is probably a good idea around people like that - it allows you to more rationally assess the situation and skedaddle when it gets toxic.  Just keep in mind the prize - eventually you will leave home and have a life of your own and not have to deal with these people ever again, unless you choose to.  When it is a choice, it is much better - and you can choose to do other things with your holiday time, as I noted before.

Don't be like my late sister - who wanted to use her precious vacation time to stage an "intervention" (read: revenge) for Mother.   Not only is this a strange idea as to what constitutes a vacation, it is an utter waste of time.   Even as far gone as she was, she had this crazy idea that what she was doing with her life was right for her.   And she was right about that.   What is really sad about that whole situation was that my sister had a short life, and spent much of it in futile endeavors like that - trying to "fix" others.   Maybe it is a way of drowning out the deafening silence, I guess.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving.  Be kind to yourself.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

At Long Last...

Trumpism, like McCarthyism, might fade away faster than we think.

People remember history as it is convenient to them.  The McCarthy era, we are told, was an aberration of a few deranged people looking for Communists under every rock.  The odds thing was, of course, that there were a lot of Communists in the government and Hollywood - some just people who joined the cause in the 1930's when everything was falling apart.  Others were merely "useful idiots" who inadvertently helped the cause of Communism.  Still others, actual Communist agents, which we didn't discover, in some cases, until the fall of the Soviet Union, where KGB files were available, for a brief period of time.

McCarthy, of course, exposed none of these spies or agents.  Like with Trump's "100 affidavits of fraud," McCarthy would wave around a piece of paper with the names of  "130 Communists in the State Department!" - but never showed this paper to anyone.  The young attorney advising McCarthy - Roy Cohen - would go on to advise Donald Trump later in life.  So it is no wonder the tactics of McCarthy and Trump are so similar in nature - wild accusations, but no real evidence or action.

What we conveniently forget, however, is how many people "went along" with McCarthy's pointless witch hunt, which destroyed some people's lives and damaged others.  McCarthy "outed" gays from the government - forcing many from their jobs. At the same time, he tried to pull strings to get his boyfriend out of the Army.  Hypocrisy much?

We might not be surprised that a young Nixon might go along with McCarthy's nonsense - but the Kennedys?   Being anti-Communist in that era was a prerequisite to a political career, so people "went along" with McCarthyism, until it all spectacularly fell apart - almost overnight.  And almost overnight, people distanced themselves from McCarthy and McCarthyism, claiming they were out-of-town that week or feigning memory loss.

Today, people are claiming that Trumpism will live on - that Trump will "control" the Republican party for years to come and run again for President in 2024!  His daughter-in-law, Laura, with no political experience, will run for the Senate in 2022!  And this could all actually happen!   Perhaps.  Perhaps not.

What is interesting about both McCarthy and Trump is that they were both creatures of the media. The media, to some extent, created them, because it sold newspapers and was good for ratings.  And when the ratings flagged, they destroyed them - because that sold newspapers and was good for ratings.  Yes, even though I voted for Biden and am glad he won, I do realize the media was a bit too happy to report him as the winner, very early on.  The turnabout by Fox News is particularly startling - but again, I suspect this is driven by the business case.  Not only are MAGA-hat wearing folks a distinct minority in this country, most of them don't have enough cash or the credit rating to buy a new Ram pickup truck.  So what's the point in catering to them?  Might be good for ratings, but it drives away the high-paying advertisers.

You may recall the brief period of time in the 1960's when every network had a hillbilly show - Green Acres, Petticoat Junction or The Beverly Hillbillies or the like.   They had solid ratings, but were all canceled after a few years - and no hillbilly shows replaced them. The simple reason was, that while the ratings were solid, they were solid among a group of people who didn't buy anything because they didn't have any money.  So while Ford might sponsor Green Acres and Chrysler The Beverly Hillbillies, the viewers weren't trucking down to the car dealer the next day to buy a brand-new car, because they couldn't afford it. 

The demographic might have skewed too old as well - advertisers want young males, age 16-35, for whom brand loyalty is easy to instill.   They are dumb enough to sign up for car payments that are dwarfed by the insurance payments.    Kind of hard to sell a Mustang or a 'Cuda to someone watching Petticoat Junction - better off to snag them with something like Hawaii Five-O or Mannix.   Something with at least a car chase now and then!

And perhaps that is the problem for the media with Trump supporters.  They tend to skew older, and the ones who are younger have no money, and what little they have, they spend on an assault rifle or survivalist gear.  Not the sort of crowd the car companies and lite beer makers want to cater to.  And then again, there is the "dirty halo" aspect as well - you advertise on Hannity and you end up soiling your own brand.   That, in short, is the problem for these obscure right-wing "news" sites and social media - you can't make much money hawking gold and penis enlargers as the odious Glen Beck discovered the hard way.

But the big problem for the media was that there are just not enough MAGA-hat wearers to make it worthwhile to appeal to that demographic.  And what few there are, aren't tuning in to the "MSM" channels.

Seriously though, while the MAGA-hat people are loud and visible, a lot of this visibility is due to the media.  If you figure out that only about half the people in the USA voted in the last election, and of those, only half voted for Trump, you can figure out that Trump supporters - at least the rabid kind - are less than 1/4 of the population.   Why would a rabid Trump supporter not vote?   And of the people who voted for Trump, I suspect fully half (or more) are not enamored of him, but merely are voting to support standard Republican values.  I know a lot of people who voted for Trump - none of them own a MAGA hat.  So at most, the people with the giant Trump flags on their pickup trucks and giant Trump signs on their lawns (in front of dilapidated trailers), are maybe - at most - 1/8th of the population of the USA - and I'm being generous here.

Let me digress further a bit here and address the "Classism" argument.  People might say what what I put forth in the previous paragraphs is "classist" - that somehow we need to embrace and celebrate ignorance, racism, poverty, stupidity, and other forms of weak thinking.   There was some stupid "controversy" (again, generated by the media to sell eyeballs) about a Netflix movie (and the book it was based on) called "Hillbilly Elegy" - about a young man who escapes poverty by leaving Appalachia and moving to the big city and becoming a success.  He goes back to his hometown - much as Thomas Wolfe did in "Look Homeward Angel" and realized "You Can't Go Home Again."  It is a story told time and time again.

I mentioned before my friend who left the projects in Philadelphia to become a lawyer.  I mentioned my friend who left the trailer park in West Virginia to become a celebrated Interior Designer.   Should they go home again to celebrate their "roots" - teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, low expectations, laziness, poverty, and lack of imagination?   Or should they move on with life?   And shouldn't we, as a county, decry slovenly social values and celebrate the more advanced?   It is like I said before, back in the day,if you called someone a "Redneck" they would hang their head in shame.  Today, they talk about "Redneck Pride" as if it was some sort of desirable trait to be poor, ignorant, and belligerent.  We should strive for more than that in life.

But I digress.

Trumpism is a form of mental illness.  We were in New York this summer - a State were being a Trump supporter is just a waste of time.   The electoral college cuts both ways.   A wealthy friend of mine in Oregon said, "I hope you don't mind, but we are voting for Trump!"   I didn't have the heart to tell them that, well, in Oregon, that didn't make much of a difference.   My vote here in Georgia, did - at least this time around.  Anyway, we drove by this house on a residential side street and saw a guy with all these home-made Trump signs on his lawn - made of 4' x 8' sheets of plywood and covered with hand-written text.  All over this lawn.  All of it.  Sort of like those creepy old school buses that people live in and drive around, covered with bible verses.   This is not mentally healthy - nor is it a good use of your emotional energy or free time.

So why did the media breathlessly report every Trump rally and every stupid, stupid thing a Trump supporter blurts into the camera?   It was good for ratings.   And it was good for ratings back in the 1950's when McCarthy was running his circus as well.  And when people got bored with it, well, it was good for ratings to tear McCarthy down - which wasn't hard to do, with someone so self-destructive.

This is not to say you will see a landslide of Republicans denouncing Trump - not just yet.  No, rather, down the road, they may claim they were out of town that week or something to that effect.  There is no profit in denouncing, but they just may conveniently forget about that time when they had a photo-op with the President.

Is Trumpism dead?  It is probably too early to write the epitaph just yet.   But the three-ring circus that was Trump's "fraud" allegations and meritless lawsuits would seem to be the "At long last, have you no shame, sir?" moment, which may play favorably to that less than 1/8th of the population that still wears Trump hats (but not Trump face masks), but was a turn-off to the mainstream Republicans who were willing to put up with his nonsense - up to a point.   I notice most of my Trump-supporting friends are kind of quiet these days.  Trump yard signs have disappeared from the yards of all but the most hard-core supporters.

For those worried that Communism or Socialism will take over the country in the next four years, I would say, relax. If history is any guide, the Democrats will screw this up big time, even if they manage to win the runoff elections in Georgia on January 5th.  There will be holdouts in the party who think policies are too liberal or too conservative, and in fact, it already has started. Ms. Alexa O'Malley O'Cortez and the rest of "The Squat" have already come out with guns blazing, claiming that Joe Biden isn't liberal enough and that he should have put more leftists in his cabinet.  For some reason, Joe Biden being a centrist comes as a major surprise to them.  So expect her to fuck up a wet dream for the next four years.

And it won't be long before the New York Times and the Washington Post run editorials about how Biden is screwing everything up - just as they ran down Obama and Clinton before him.  It's not that they have strong political convictions one way or the other, only that attacking and tearing down is good for ratings and sells newspapers.  And they sold a lot of newspapers with the Biden election - they will sell a lot more destroying him as well.   You see how this works.   You live by the media, you die by the media.   You would have thought Trump of all people would have understood this.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Belief and Stories

For God so loved the world, he sent his only begotten son to re-boot the franchise.

In my previous posting, I noted how people get caught up in these stories - in comic books and movies - and take then literally, rather than just as good story-telling.  Story-telling has a long history, as pre-historic (irony) people sat around the fire and an elder would keep them enthralled with his stories of derring-do and days gone by.  Probably a good thing for him, too, otherwise the rest of the tribe would see him as a useless parasite and sacrifice him to the Gods.

Storytelling back then - and today - was designed to foster belief, and belief cannot be dissected and analyzed and placed under a microscope. When you do, it falls apart. Just as the young man questioning the consistency of Star Wars mythology finds major plot holes, anyone who questions the tenets of the Bible or any other religious document ends up frustrated, as often these documents are internally inconsistent - and full of plot holes.

In the comic book and movie world, when these inconsistencies grow too large to accommodate with plot devices or McGuffins, you simply "reboot the franchise" and create an alternative universe or timeline so you can start over with a fresh sheet of paper.

Perhaps the New Testament is the first example of this.  The Old Testament - the foundation of Judaism - was so rife with internal conflicts and contrary messages that they needed not just an update, but a do-over.  After all, how can you have a message of "thou shall not kill" in a book filled with scores of murders - often by the almighty himself?

So you send in Jesus with a new message of love, understanding, stealing horses, and giving financial advice.  Bible 2.0 overwrites version 1.0 and inconsistent parts are wiped out, or at least negated. This is lost on most "fundamentalists" and "full gospel" followers, who spend a lot of time rummaging around the Old Testament, looking for trouble and trying to find excuses for their hateful behavior.  They don't get the fact that the whole point of Christianity is that God sent Jesus down to correct all the bad stuff that was going down in the Old Testament.   For a Christian, the Old Testament is context for the new, but when it comes down to old versus new, the new over-rides the old.   Period, paragraph, end of story.

Of course, it didn't end there. You might argue that Islam is another "re-boot" as well - treating Christianity as one of those side-stories that is not relevant to the canon.  Christians and Jews might view Islam as one of those spin-offs that isn't really part of their "universe".   Prequels!  Ugh!

And when it comes to religion, well, there is no greater source of "fan fiction" out there.  Everyone has their own interpretation of the Bible, and it has spawned a number of spin-off franchises, such as Protestantism.   Not canon!  Well, at least in some people's minds.

By the way, where do you think the term "canon" or "canonical" came from?  Yup, religion.  Which is why it is scary this term is bandied about when talking about SciFi movies and comic books. It's bad enough that one religion is already based on science fiction - we don't need another!

But what it all comes down to is stories, as I mentioned before. Belief requires the suspension of disbelief - which seems pretty obvious when you state it that way.   You can't get drawn into a movie or a novel if you constantly pick apart the threads of a story.  And this is why it is so jarring when actors break the fourth wall, or an author leaves a very obvious and unforgivable plot hole in a book that "takes you out of the story".

But no one expects you to literally believe the story in Star Wars, or Batman, or Spiderman, or even in an adventure novel.  You suspend disbelief, but you don't believe, either.

With religion, it gets trickier. You are expected to believe, but in order to do so, you have to suspend disbelief, which means in part, not nick-picking the stories to pieces. Because if you are going to go down that route, well, it leads to disbelief.  And that's OK, too.  You aren't going to go to Hell because you don't think the Galactic Empire is real, or that everything set forth in the Bible is actually the way it happened (even the parts that disagree with one another).

There is, however, a special place in Hell for people who cherry-pick individual verses and then twist them around to advance a particular politcal or monetary agenda here on Earth.  Belief is a fine and wonderful thing and all, but it can get in the way of rational thinking - and by hijacked by people whose interests are adverse to your own.  And you need not be strapping on a suicide vest to figure this out. When someone tells you the Bible says to give them 10% of your pre-tax earnings, it pretty much is financial suicide as well.

But some of us don't need stories to have faith.  Sure, the stories are fun - and sometimes instructive. Although I still don't get the stealing the horse bit - but that just illustrates that sometimes writers put in stuff that doesn't fit the rest of the story.  And let's be real here - the Bible was written by human writers, not etched in stone by God - even the Bible admits that (other than the ten commandments).

So whether you are sucked "into the Spider-verse" or "into the Jesus-verse" the answer is the same.  Enjoy the stories, but don't take them literally.  Belief is a fine and wonderful thing, but like all things, should be used in moderation.

It's Just a Fucking Movie or Comic Book - Not a "Universe"!

If you start questioning the plot lines of movie franchises, maybe it is time to move out of your Mother's basement.

I was online last night, as I woke up and couldn't sleep.  I was surfing the Internet and came across a discussion about Star Wars.  The thread was about some internal inconsistency in the plot lines of the movie.  How could the Jedi Knights be called only a "legend" when they were a major political force only 20 years earlier?

What followed was an intense discussion about the various plot lines, the politics of a fictitious empire, and so on and so forth.  At no point did anyone just come out and say, "It's just a fucking movie people!  The plot is whatever the writers say it will be!"

You see, Star Wars and Indiana Jones were originally one-off throwaway films.  They were an homage to the Saturday matinee "Serials" that an earlier generation watched - Westerns or SciFi thrillers like Tom Mix, or Buck Rogers. "Come back next week for Chapter IX!"  Star Wars also recycled the plot of a famous Samurai movie (another homage from a film school graduate).  There was no "universe" or over-arcing story line. In fact, some writing decisions in the first film became awkward in the second - Princess Leia being the sister of Luke (and not a potential romantic interest, as in the first film).

What ruined Star Wars was when it became a "franchise" and they tried to explain everything and tie up all the loose ends.   Movies are all about suspension of disbelief, not about creating an alternate history.  Sure, the sequel was fine, and maybe the third one. But when the prequels spent more time on developing the "universe" than in story-telling and character development (and lots of real action, not CGI nightmares) it all came apart.  The end, of course, was when they tried to "remake" the original by adding scenes and CGI crap and thus destroyed what little was left of the magic.

You can't over-analyze entertainment or turn it into a religion. Like I said, movies (and books and whatever) are all about suspension of disbelief to get you to go along with the story line. You start picking apart plot details, it ruins the fun.  For example, in the original Indiana Jones movie, they show Harrison Ford riding on top of a Nazi submarine for thousands of miles, only to appear in a submarine pen in the next scene.  Not explained is why no one saw this stowaway who apparently lived on the deck of the sub for days or weeks with no one noticing (for some reason, no one manned the conning tower?) and the sub never submerged the whole time.  Also, he somehow jumps off the sub as it enters the submarine pen, without being seen by the dozens of Nazis manning the place.

You're suppose to ignore this glaring error and go along with the plot and enjoy the ride.  Dissecting movies like this is like trying to analyze the "plot" of a roller coaster ride.  "I understood the first climb, and the first hill, but the second curve before the inverted loop seemed forced, and it didn't seem to jibe with the rest of the ride."  It's a fucking roller coaster!  You ride it and scream and have fun. You don't over-think it.

So the idea of trying to "make sense" of the Star Wars "universe" is just nonsense - it is just stuff a writer wrote, and it doesn't have to be internally consistent, as it is just a roller-coaster ride.  But of course, sometimes writers write themselves into a corner, and at that point, they do a "reboot" of these franchises, which is to say, they throw away the "canon" and start over with something new.  Batman now has dozens of different "Robins" and Star Trek has had more than one "reboot" over time.  It is an implicit way of saying, these are just stories, folks!  But the die-hard fans consider them "alternative universes" and take this all deadly seriously.

Of course, comic books have gone the same route, and people take this way too seriously - whether they are followers of the "DC" or "Marvel" universes. And sadly, they have stronger opinions about these things that they do about their own religion (which comic books may have replaced, in their lives) or indeed their own national politics.  People know more about the politics of the Star Wars Empire than they do about their own country.   I don't think this is healthy, on a number of levels.

Again, these are just stories, people, not actual events.  Taking this stuff so seriously is, well, idiotic. The stories have no deeper meaning or logic, as they are whatever the writers want to write at a particular time.  Fan fiction is clear evidence of this.  The other thing is, well, this stuff is pretty juvenile, and while there is nothing wrong about an adult visiting an amusement park on occasion, there reaches a time in your life that you have to grow up and put away childish things and take on adult responsibilities.  This obsession with movie franchises and comic books is just another example of the infantalilization of America, where grown adults act like big goofy children - and have serious discussions about minutiae of comic book franchises.

This is good for the movie studios and the comic book companies - the latter of which have gone from relative obscurity into money-making machines that are even listed on the stock market. Back in the day, being a comic book publisher was a pretty seedy, low-rent kind of business, selling ten-cent comics to pre-adolescent boys.  Today, there are tie-ins to movies, television shows, and of course, "merch" in the form of action figures, games, clothing, branding, cosplay, and whatnot - sold more to adults than children. It is a billion-dollar business.  And by obsessing about cartoon characters, well, you are making a lot of other people very wealthy, but impoverishing yourself a little more.

Of course, maybe this is the new norm.  I was reading Litter Box Comics, which is a very well-done strip written by a woman who draws her family as cats. What is interesting about the strip, is that the husband and wife are totally into Sci-Fi and comic book characters. Grown people with children, obsessing about Star Trek and Batman.  Maybe this is the new norm.  My parents' generation read books and went to serious adult-themed movies.  Sure, they watched television with us - but they didn't dress up as characters from the TV shows, collect figurines, or go to comic book conventions. Life was a lot more serious for them.

This is not to say the lady who draws the Litter Box Comics is a bad parent.  Indeed, from what I can see, it sounds like they are great parents.  I am just pointing out that, well, our world has changed dramatically in the last 50 years or so. We seem to be embracing childhood, not only well into adulthood, but perpetually.  Maybe that is why people today act so goofy and weird - from the President on down, from Antifa to Qanon.   You can believe whatever you want to believe, and being a perpetual kid is no longer viewed as a bad thing, but a desirable outcome.

I dunno.  Maybe this goofiness is a good thing.   But I am not so sure.   Maybe we need more "adulting" in the world - a term that has come into vogue as of late, as people more and more abdicate adult responsibilities.

But I think this much is true:  If you are struggling in life, with debts and job worries, or finding a place to live, or if you are an adult living with your parents - and yet can tell me the names of 50 Star Wars characters - maybe, just maybe, it is time to grow up a bit and put away the toys and start "adulting" in life.   Because collecting the whole set never amounts to much later on.

Why Cowardice is Rampant in the GOP

People get the government they deserve - when they don't vote.

Cowardice runs rampant in the GOP and many in the Democratic party fail to understand why - and why they have a similar problem.  Few Republicans have yet to pressure Trump into conceding the election, and the real reason isn't that they are scared of Trump, but worried of losing support of his followers - support they need to win their primaries in less than 24 months from now.

About 150 million people voted in the last election - a new record. This is only about 50% of the overall population of the US, and about 65% of the eligible voters (according to some sources) as you have to be 18 to vote.  So while a lot of people expressed support for Trump - and quite a few more for Biden - the election is hardly a mandate for either candidate, when nearly half the population can't be bothered to make a selection.

Therein lies the problem.

Republicans break out into three groups - the folks who were never-Trumpers, the folks with nothing to lose, and the folks who want to get re-elected.   The folks "doing the right thing for the country"?  I doubt they exist.

The Never-Trumpers can afford to be Never-Trumpers as they either live in a State where they are highly regarded and will win re-election either way (think: Mitt Romney, Susan Collins) or they live in a fairly liberal State where being far to the right might cost them re-election.  In a way, they have nothing to lose as well, and actually something to gain by going against Trump, as their electoral base either doesn't care about Trump that much, or actually dislikes him.

The folks with nothing left to lose are the ones retiring or not running for re-election.  They don't have to worry about the will of the voters, so they can take whatever stand they want.  You would think this would include Mitch McConnell, who was just re-elected for six more years.  I doubt he will run for re-election after that, if he lives that long.  But for some reason, even though he has nothing left to lose, he has yet to find a backbone.   Or maybe he's drank the Kool-aid and really believes in Trumpism.

But the last group - the largest group - has a real fear of a primary fight in 2022. This includes most Republican House members and about 1/3 of Republican Senate members. The GOP has already elected one rabid Qanon-believer to the House - so they see the writing on the wall. Just as radical leftist AOC unseated a long-time centrist Democrat in the primaries, far-right tea-party, Trumper,  and Qanon types are challenging "traditional" Republicans for their seats - and many more will challenge in 2022, arguing (as AOC and her ilk did) that the reason their party lost elections was because they were not radical enough.   It was the same argument that brought us the tea party in 2010.

If you come out against Trump now - even to mildly suggest that the election is over - it will be used against you in a bitter primary battle in 2022.   So it is better to be a coward and remain silent - so you can appeal to the Trumpist base in two years - by alleging your fealty to the great man.

The problem is, of course, the primary system.  In many States, primaries are "closed" and only people who profess to be members of a party can vote in the corresponding primary.  In Georgia, we have open primaries, which is a good thing, as voting in the Democratic primary here - as I noted before - is essentially throwing your vote away.  There is usually only one Democratic candidate for each office, and in many cases, no one from the Democratic party bothers to run.   In the GOP primary, you at least have the choice of the far-right nutjob versus the slighly more centrist nutjob.   You can also vote as a "spoiler" and pick the far-right nutjob and hope he is so out-of-touch that  people will elect a Democrat.  That strategy could backfire, however.  At least it has yet to work in Georgia.

But the real problem with primaries isn't the open or closed feature, but that most people don't bother to vote in them. You've heard, no doubt, time and time again, every four years, from morons, the nauseating statement that, "I don't like the choice from either party!  I may not bother to vote!  They both look the same to me!"   When you ask these knuckleheads who they voted for in the primary, they give you a blank look  They might not even know what a primary is. They never vote in non-Presidential elections.

The primaries are, in a way, more important that the general election.  Once the candidates are selected, the outcome of the general election could be preordained, in some circumstances.   If one party picks a radical - because the primary voters tend to represent the extremists of the party more - the other party, who picks a centrist, might win.  If the Democrats had nominated Bernie Sanders, I suspect there would be no "controversy" about this last election - Trump would have won every State except Vermont (and I would question even Vermont, which has a Republican governor).

So the problem comes down to us, the voters.  Few Republicans are going to risk their seats by going against Trump.  If you look at the decision matrix, it is apparent that being silent has the best personal outcome for them - calls by Op-Ed writers for Republicans to "do the right thing" and sacrifice themselves for their country, to the contrary.   In fact, a moderate Republican, by going against Trump at this point, probably won't persuade Trump to step down, but would in fact, cause the moderate Republican to lose his seat to a Qanon nutjob in 2022.   Which is really better for the country?

We shouldn't act shocked that people - including politicians - act or vote in their own self-interest.  This isn't a Republican thing, either.  There are many instances of Democratic cowardice, where Democratic politicians fail to denounce radicals sufficiently enough, because they are afraid of alienating the far-left wing of their party and thus not be re-elected.  You do remember the riots this summer and the "CHAZ" or "CHOP" or whatever the fuck that nonsense was.  The political leaders let that go on for weeks,, because they were afraid of members of their own party.  It wasn't until they realized that "Anarchy" was getting people killed that they shut it all down.

Cowardice, indeed.

The sad thing about all of this, is that although the mainstream media has been predicting that Trump will lose all his legal battles and that eventually he will concede the election, it still could go either way.  If enough fence-sitting Republican officials (including election officials) start to believe that Trump might actually pull off a coup - and win - they might decide that going along with it, as it is in their own best interest - rather than be lined up against the wall in 2021. This, in turn, could result in elections not being certified, and electors appointed by courts, governors, or legislatures, with dire results.

That, in short, is what "raw political power" is all about - not getting people do to the right thing, but intimidating people into doing the wrong thing or indeed, just doing nothing, so as to hang on to their own personal fiefdoms.

It is a pretty sad thing to watch.  But not entirely unexpected.