Look out kid, it’s something you did—God knows when, but you’re doin’ it again

I don’t know anything except for the fact that I don’t know anything. Someone give me a TV show, quick

James MacLeod cartoon

Former President Donald Trump says “I may go to Israel.” My God, hasn’t everyone over there suffered enough already?

All I have to say about the Israel-Gaza conflict is that a hell of a lot of people need to get the hell off of social media and touch grass.

Everyone’s so quick to pick a team, like this is football, and we’re supposed to root for one side, no matter what they do.

At her Substack newsletter, The Present Age, Parker Molloy hears echoes of 9/11, when another former President, George W. Bush, asked the world, “Are you for the terrorists or against them?”

Well — and this is me talking — who the f–k is “for” the terrorists?

But similarly, who the f–k is in favor of apartheid?

And as for the people who insist on bringing this conflict home — and taking out their fears and prejudices on their local Jewish or Muslim neighbors, either in-person or on social media, in the form of antisemitism or Islamophobia — I think they’re deeply damaged, whether by cable TV or social media or God knows what.

Of course, it’s not like this hasn’t happened before. German-Americans were harassed during World War I and many changed their names to escape abuse. In World War II, we straight-up imprisoned Japanese-Americans for no reason. But I guess I keep hoping we’ve evolved. (Spoiler: No, we’re still just shaved apes with lumps of meat for brains. Otherwise, we haven’t learned a thing.)

Molloy writes: “If there’s one thing that’s needed right now, it’s calm. I don’t think it’s likely we’ll actually find calm, but it’s needed. I am worried for Jewish people. I am worried for Muslims. I am worried for people who are mistakenly identified as Jewish or Muslim. I am worried that blanket hatred against entire groups of people is being elevated on social media and in the press. I am worried that we are once again being taught to treat our neighbors with undue suspicion and that bad actors in the media are all too willing to take advantage of these vulnerabilities for political and financial gain. I am worried for humanity.”

Meanwhile, writing at Lawyers, Guns & Money, law professor Paul Campos notes that the U.S. Constitution is failing the country at the time when we most need it.

The U.S. Constitution — though rightly revered and imitated by other founding documents that came after it — also was a product of its time, Campos notes. It was written in an era when only wealthy white men could vote; it also was written at a time when the population of the U.S. states was much smaller, when political parties largely didn’t exist, and events unfolded slowly.

The framers, Campos notes, didn’t envision that the U.S. Constitution would one day support a system where California and Wyoming each have the same number of senators, even though California has 70 times the population. (For that matter, they didn’t envision either California or Wyoming.)

Quoting several other scholars, Campos notes that the framers of the Constitution didn’t consider that political parties would become so fractious that even the routine business of the U.S. Congress couldn’t proceed, or that it would be common for someone to be elected president despite a majority of the country voting against them.

In many ways, he notes, the Constitution has flaws that would never have been apparent in the 18th century — and in the 21st century, those flaws are increasingly being used to empower a small minority to thwart the will of a large majority.

In the process, the Constitution that supposedly ensures that the United States of America has a government that represents the people is, instead, being used to ensure that the government is less and less representative — and that very exploitation is slowly but surely convincing an increasing number of Americans that representative government itself is a failure, and that only a dictator could save us.

“The perverse genius of the nihilists in control of the Republican party is this: By causing a gradual systemic breakdown of the entire system, they are destroying faith in the liberal democracy that impedes the empowerment of an authoritarian white Christian nationalist minority government,” Campos says.

Read it all, especially the sources to whom he links.

The election of Ronald Reagan was the first time in our history that the United States had a president who openly said “government is the problem.” No president before had ever spoken out against the institution he was supposed to lead.

Forty years later, an large percentage of Americans have internalized that idea — not that government is flawed, or that particular government policies are wrong, but that the very idea of a democratic (small-D) government is bad and wrong.

As a child of the 1980s and 1990s, I think about the collapse of the Soviet Union, and how quickly Russia elected a democratic government like ours — and then, how quickly citizens gave up on it, and returned the country to the control of oligarchs, culminating in Putin’s unchallenged leadership.

Russia had no tradition of democratically elected government, and a long heritage of leaders with dictator-like powers, so their democracy was much more fragile than that of the United States. But anyone who says “well, a dictatorship can’t happen here” is whistling past the graveyard now.

We’ve had four decades of unceasing propaganda about how only a strongman can solve our problems and several wanna-be strongmen who are promising to do just that, and (as Campos argues) our child-like belief in the magical powers of the U.S. Constitution is increasingly misplaced.

On that cheerful note, I think that’s all for today. I’m enjoying a couple of CDs I recently purchased — including Samantha Fish‘s collaboration with Jesse Dayton, “Death Wish Blues”:

I’m also listening to a compilation of The Ink Spots’ greatest hits. It’s hard to feel despair about the future of humanity when The Ink Spots are singing.

If things really get bleak, though, I might have to dig into The Mills Brothers. Let’s hope it doesn’t get worse than that, or I’ll be forced to break out Jerry Murad’s Harmonicats.

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