Years ago, in the early days of me dumping my thoughts on this site, I proposed that we’re living through the most hateful time in history. If you read that post, you’ll see that I don’t mean it in the way that’s most obvious, that people are more hateful than ever, but instead that people feel more hated than ever. I’ve been thinking more about this lately, largely inspired by a series of Facebook posts that have come and gone over the years, but seem to be coming back with a vengeance. Although my premise hasn’t changed, I’m starting to have a better, perhaps slightly more paranoid, perspective about it all.Continue reading “Generation of Hate Revisited”
There are many things I don’t feel like I fully understand. The concept of identity politics is one of them. Perhaps it’s not that I don’t understand it as much as it confuses me because it seems thrown around so much that it’s kind of meaningless to me. But for many years I’ve thought of identity politics as a term used to describe the way that politicians try to attract voters of specific identities. The way that democrats have tried to appeal to LGBTQ voters or African-American voters, and the way that republicans have tried to appeal to military members and people who are very religious. When I think of identity politics, it’s about appealing to people with these specific labels being part of their identity. But I think the idea can also be thought of in the converse: that support for a specific politician becomes part of a person’s identity. A shorthand for what’s important to them and where they stand on issues.Continue reading “Trump and the new version of identity politics”
Trump supporters like to talk about Trump Derangement Syndrome, in spite of having no idea where that phrase originated and what its originator thinks about Trump. Although I think the phrase is a bit over- and mis-used, the visceral disgust that many of us feel about Trump is real. I wouldn’t call it derangement, but there’s a real difference between how I feel about Trump and how I feel and have felt about politicians and pundits who haven’t shared my views in the past. I don’t think that’s because I’ve changed. I think it’s because there’s something vastly different about Trump and his supporters: they seem to place a higher value on upsetting their opponents than on achieving some policy goal.
It’s been a while since I posted anything here. I’ve been pretty active on social media still, but haven’t found the motivation to write anything more extensive like I usually write for this place. But my recent sadness has moved me to jot these thoughts down and put them here. My sadness is because of the turn that the culture war has taken. We used to argue about taxes and about whether companies should be regulated and if we should allow kids to pray in schools. The last argument I remember having with one side of my family (a side that has pretty much banned political discussions since Obama was elected) was about private vs public control of health insurance. It’s memorable to me as one of those conversations that runs in my mind because it should have gone so differently. I had made the case that the private sector couldn’t operate in the business of insuring the elderly because there’s simply no way to do it and turn a profit. The guy I was talking to pointed to Medicare advantage programs that are administered by private companies as evidence that they could. I don’t remember what happened next, or what I said, but I want to rewind and make the point that none of those programs work if the public sector isn’t paying the bill, or at least a big part of the bill. But I digress. My point here is that these are the things we used to argue about, sometimes getting hot about them. We talked about things and had strong opinions, but it all just felt different. Continue reading “The never ending culture war”
The COVID pandemic is causing pain all over. There’s no question about that. The United States and many other countries have been responding with orders to shut down non-essential businesses, and this has put many people out of work. But the efforts to flatten the curve seem to be working, and the projections for the total number of people expected to die are looking much better than before. They’re still projecting a tragic number of deaths, but not nearly as many as we could have. That’s good. At least I think it’s good. In several states, however, there are protests springing up about efforts to keep us safe.
The United States is in the early stages of the pandemic of COVID-19 caused by the SARS-Cov-2 virus. As of this moment, there are 597,304 confirmed cases worldwide and 104,661 confirmed cases in the United States alone. Today, the number of cases in the United States grew to the point that there are now more cases in the United States than in any other country. Of course, we do not know if this is accurate, and suspect that it isn’t, because there are very likely many people, in many countries, who are infected but have not been tested. There is a growing movement, especially among republicans, to weigh the potential harm caused by the virus and the harm caused by slowing the economy (because of people sheltering in place, closed restaurants and other businesses). A friend brought this up to me recently, calling attention to a quote in the movie The Big Short: every 1% unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die. It got me thinking…as most things do.
I have fond memories of emerging technology from my childhood. I remember listening, in awe, as my father put a pair of headphones on me and played a track from Pink Floyd’s Ummagumma with wonderful sounds clearly coming from the left and right, and a bee buzzing in one ear and not the other. I remember my father getting a car phone. Not a mobile phone, not a cell phone, but a car phone. Hard-wired into the car, with a pigtail antenna fixed to the back window and wired through the car to the phone in the center console. We watched the Jetsons and longed for the days when a robot would cook for us, clean for us, and make our lives easier. We had this vision of a world in which automation and technology let us sit by the pool and sip margaritas that a robot would make and bring to us with a tiny umbrella. What we never imagined is that the robots would take away the pool also.
I’m watching with a bit of awe as members of the GOP engage in amazing contortion to continue to support the president in the ongoing impeachment inquiry by the House. I felt the need to create a running list of some of the things I’m hearing. Some are paraphrased, but I’ll throw in some quoted stuff as needed. If I use this like I want, I’ll keep editing this post to add new an interesting twists and turns in the logic (or lack thereof) I keep hearing.
People talk about vivid memories on days like these. I can’t say that my memories are like that. I don’t remember what I was wearing, or what I ate that day, but there are some things that stick, and the historical timelines that go around this day every year help put some missing pieces together.
Equality is often on my mind, but it’s particularly salient today. I just left an event with Ruth Bader Ginsberg and it’s Women’s Equality Day. Ginsberg was at my university, receiving an honorary degree, just days after announcing that she completed another round of treatment for cancer. It was a moving presentation, and I was honored to be in the same room with her (it was a big room, an arena, so it wasn’t like I was even close enough to shake her hand, but it was still great). If the audience were allowed to ask questions, and I had more courage than I have, there’s something that’s been gnawing at me lately. It would have been nice to know what she thought. Instead, I’ll just ruminate and use this thing like I have so many times, as a hybrid diary sounding board that doesn’t talk back to me.