Be A Patriot

Above: a symbol of patriotism instinctively attacking a cowardly fascist.

What does it mean to love your country, to be a patriot? Roman soldiers swore oaths to a consul or emperor, knights to their lords, lords to their kings- to serve the state meant to serve a man.

We in the United States chose a different path, once. We gathered many rich and fallible white guys together in 1789, and their type has been running things ever since (more or less). But they didn’t emerge from Philadelphia asking people to pledge them fealty as they established the new Kingdom of The Americas. They emerged with a document, containing the machinations of the state but also its principles; it was to this they asked people to be loyal. This document, the U.S. Constitution, would be the state, and to support that document and those principles was to be a patriot.

And the best thing about that document is its amendability, because there was a lot of bullshit in there and some important stuff left out, too. And so we are free to strike all the slavery bits and add the good stuff, like a ban on the state’s ability to suppress political speech and the guarantee of equal protection under the law (unless you’re a girl, sorry all my fellow ERA fans).

But these are dark times, where patriotism has been corrupted and twisted into something darker. People who call themselves patriots want their country back, want to crush traitorous democrats, want family values. They want to love a country that’s Christian and dominated by white people, where gay people don’t flaunt their sexuality and father knows best, where black people know their place and blue lives matter so shut up shut up SHUT UP. They want to Make America Great Again after 8 horrible years under a fucking black guy.

These people aren’t patriots, they’re dupes or fascists. They don’t love liberty and equality, they just hate the other. And neither are their masters in the high offices of government and business that dominate our politics- they’ve become a nation unto themselves, concerned only with their own bottom lines.

Our country isn’t just its people or its government officials- it’s our ideals and aspirations. We should aspire to be a country that recognizes all citizens as having rights to liberty and to pursue their own happiness, that promotes the general welfare, that doesn’t govern without the consent of the governed. Loving and fighting for that is what makes someone a patriot, so remember that and have a happy Independence Day.

In My Country, Reality Comes Pre-Satirized

If I had submitted “Rich parasites of society attempt to cut public medical care in order to fund massive tax cuts for themselves” as a plot in a dystopian novel 3-5 years ago, it would have been dismissed as far too dead-on for publication. And yet, that is where citizens in the United States find themselves today:

The Congressional Budget Office projects that if the Senate Republicans’ health care bill becomes law, 14 million Americans will lose their health insurance in 2018, and, by 2026, 22 million would lose coverage.

Drawing on that work, we estimate that if the Senate bill becomes law, 22,900 excess deaths will occur in 2020 — and the figure will grow over time. 26,500 extra deaths will take place in 2026. Over the next decade, we estimate that a total of 208,500 unnecessary deaths will occur if the law is passed…

It can be difficult to know what to say or do when confronted with people so obviously evil- like, the same sort of people who read A Modest Proposal and endorsed its well-reasoned arguments and logical conclusions. Honestly, it’s difficult for me to shake a nagging discomfort when I consider what this really means about my representatives in government. The GOP is not a well-meaning partner with different ideas about how to do the most good for the most people. They aren’t just wrong when their mouthpieces use words like “choice” and “freedom” to describe their “reform” of health insurance in this country.

No, they are opponents whose ideas and arguments are all in service to keeping and expanding the wealth of the already wealthy. It’s always been about the money, and they won’t let anything get in the way of their acquiring more- certainly not something so petty as you or someone you care about’s life. Even when they have more than they could ever want- the Koch brothers are worth around $85 billion, more than the yearly GDP of most countries on the planet- they are dedicated to funding projects to preserve and expand that wealth with the zeal and passion of a religious adherent.

It’s difficult to find much more to say than that- it’s not even “your money or your life,” it’s “your money and your life.” But one thing that I think is worth touching upon is the secondary and tertiary effects of all that lost insurance beyond mortality. A society with huge numbers of bankruptcies due to medical bills is probably not one with a prosperous economy or rising standards of living. For the lucky duckies out there who don’t die but get through being sick or injured, there are often complications that accompany denied or delayed medical treatment- blindness, deafness, amputations, that sort of thing, destroying their ability to work and forcing them onto disability relief- or onto the street. I’m also not excited about the warped and twisted culture that will inevitably grow out so much death and poverty.

In short, you peasants are going to need to work harder and eat less, and many of you are going to die, with the savings passed on to Our Noble Lords and Ladies- that’s the plan they’re selling (though our Supervillain-in-Chief seems confused about what, exactly, they are selling).

If you’re not alright with that, you’re a dissident. Congratulations and welcome aboard! Contact these people and let them know that you like living, you dangerous fucking radical you. The switchboard is still at (202) 224-3121, they will connect you to any Senate office you request. It’s not the sort of thing I like doing or am comfortable doing myself, but nonetheless I did it; it’s quick and easy, and sometimes it makes a difference. Don’t relax- things might look shaky for bill passage now, but they did before the House passed their bill, too.

 

 

What Will You Do When Democracy Fails You?

On the night of the 2016 presidential election, I went through many thoughts and feelings, few of them positive. A tear or two may have been shed. And in my despair, one thing I reminded myself was how rare anything like democracy is throughout human history. The vast stretch of time before human civilization really took off notwithstanding, most people in most places lived under a king or a noble, a Roman Emperor or a military dictator, etc. Even when elected politicians did exist, like the consuls and tribunes of Rome, or Athenian assemblies, or in the United States circa 1789 or even 1889 for that matter, the franchise was severely limited by blood, wealth, race, gender, and other factors. The franchise has been steadily expanded since then, but we once again live in an age where the quirks of our election systems combined with greed and voter suppression have resulted in the less popular candidate assuming the US presidency. And as gut-wrenching as this is, the idea that popular will should carry the day is a relatively recent one. People lived then, and we will live now.

So I told myself, and Mrs. Dissident Peasant. And I still believe all of that. But it has occurred to me since that there is enough good about the ideals detailed in the US Constitution and its trappings that a sizable number of people won’t acquiesce to this fact. I suspect most people in our age of rising fascism and authoritarianism will remain apathetic or accommodating; some others will collaborate. But some will want to fight- the same sorts of people who want to do something now, like call their Congresscritter or phone bank or canvas or even start a humble little website.

All that is great and worthy work, and I say that with great surety. But I fear that we may ultimately discover that the ballot box is never going to deliver the changes we desperately need in order to survive and thrive. There are days I feel woke to that fact, and days I don’t. The 2018 Congressional elections will inform my judgement, as well as state and local races, and whatever happens in 2020. But in the medium to long-term, I worry about what those same people active now are going to do, and what happens after they do it.

Many of them will decide they have no choice but to put their bodies on the line. They will risk arrest and violence themselves to protest and obstruct the state, just as they did during the civil rights movement or Occupy, or Black Lives Matter. But some others will conclude that violent resistance is their only recourse- that also happened during the civil rights movement. And once a certain threshold of violence is reached and the nascent police state we’ve built up in this country is activated, you can bet that 99% of their fury will be focused on the left, not the right. That is not a fight the left can hope to win or even survive.

I understand that I just strung together a pretty long string of hypothetical statements, and I could be wrong anywhere in there. But the world’s peasant class has been taking it pretty hard here recently. And while most people have been poor and ruled by people they didn’t vote for most of the time, we made pretty good progress in the latter half of the 20th century. Backsliding means depriving people of what they used to enjoy, and that makes them a special kind of pissed off. Let’s hope it never comes to any of this and that common people get a break or twelve here relatively soon. Step one is removing this bloated orange-faced sexual predator and his cowardly GOP enablers and collaborators from office through impeachment and/or election. Because if we can’t do that, American democracy might finally give it up for good.

Happy Comey Day!

THIS fucking guy…

This peasant would like to wish everyone a happy Comey Day. If you have the opportunity to day drink and watch C-SPAN I would encourage you to do so!

But whether you do or don’t, there are three important facts keep in mind:

There is little chance anything that happens at the hearing will move the GOP to impeach Trump.

Simply put, the Republicans want to cut taxes for rich people and scale back the modern welfare state to pay for it- as much as they can, in both cases (everything else is window dressing). Some true-believers may actually love Trump, but most are simply tolerating him because they need things from him. Either way, a majority in the US House of Representatives will probably never vote to impeach him as long as that majority is GOP, regardless of what happens tomorrow or in the near future.

This Trump-Russia investigation should not distract us from pressing issues.

And I’m not talking peasant-type stuff here, like jobs and wages and healthcare. I mean immediate stuff, like the fact that hurricane season is here- who’s feeling confident about the government’s response to that right now?  What if a large terrorist attack occurs in the US and Trump blunders us into another land war in Asia while becoming a vicious autocrat? Every day, every MOMENT is one potential national event away from beginning a massive chain of suffering and misery, simply because no one can count on the federal government right now and everyone knows it. Trump must be removed from office immediately for a host of reasons unrelated to Russia.

Nonetheless, the investigation is important and useful to anyone who cares about this country.

Figuring out exactly who ratfucked us and how, if anyone successfully did, is important. Our democracy is old and rickety enough without someone pouring sugar in the gas tank, if you get my metaphor. Hopefully we get around the fixing it up soon (it is necessary), but it needs protection in the mean time. It also remains to be seen if the investigation becomes less The Americans than The Sopranos, and we don’t just find out about a bunch of crooked oil deals, money-laundering, some light solicitation, etc. But every second Republicans fret about this is a second they aren’t actively working to make you poorer, sicker, and dumber, so it remains useful. It isn’t warmongering or demonizing Russia, it’s a commitment to caring about what is true while hobbling a cruel agenda.

Happy Comey Day!

Trump: World’s Worst Super Villain

There have been many efforts by our nation’s press corps to postulate a Theory of Trump both before and after the 2016 presidential election. He’s tired! He’s Bannon’s tool to destroy the state! He didn’t really want to be president!

And all that’s probably true. But it’s possible to string together a complex web of theories that all point to one concept capable of absorbing each of these theories and more- Donald J. Trump is a Shitty Super Villain.

Good super villains evenly match and sometimes mirror their adversaries. Batman’s calculation and logic is met with chaos and psychological manipulation in the Joker, Superman’s cheesy selflessness and wholesomeness challenged by the greed and decadence of Lex Luthor, Professor X’s mission of coexistence and tolerance matched by the heighten-the-contradictions philosophy of Magneto, and so on.

Trump, a pretty obviously racist and greedy asshole who has nonetheless become history’s most successful popularity contest loser, has long focused his villainy on people less able to defend themselves, like children, small-business owners, and young women. But if I wrote up a scenario where the Trump Organization skimmed money from a child cancer charity as a fictional story, it would be dismissed by publishers as far too on-the-nose:

The best part about all this, according to Eric Trump, is the charity’s efficiency: Because he can get his family’s golf course for free and have most of the other costs donated, virtually all the money contributed will go toward helping kids with cancer. “We get to use our assets 100% free of charge,” Trump tells Forbes.

That’s not the case. In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it’s clear that the course wasn’t free–that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.

Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.

And while donors to the Eric Trump Foundation were told their money was going to help sick kids, more than $500,000 was re-donated to other charities, many of which were connected to Trump family members or interests, including at least four groups that subsequently paid to hold golf tournaments at Trump courses.

Donald Trump, aspiring super villain. And like most of his ventures in life, be they marriages, real estate projects, or terrible designer vodka, he’s really shitty at it.

“A Free and Fair Exchange of Ideas” – A Brief 1-Act Play

Scene: The town square of Peasantville, USA

A group of fascists and nihilists have gathered opposite a similar number of protesters. The latter hold signs with messages like “#Impeach!” and the definition of an emolument

PROTESTERS (chanting): Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Donald Trump has got to go! Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Donald Trump…

FASCIST MOUTH-BREATHER: Hey, git yer ‘Murica hating asses out if you don’t love this country’s president!

PROTESTER: You don’t understand, man, this guy is going to burn down everything!

FASCIST: I dun know nuthin’ bout nunna that, but I know he’s gonna put dem furriners and negroes in their place, and make ‘Murica great again! (adjusts his red MAGA hat with satisfaction)

PROTESTER: So you’re just a racist piece of shit then, straight up? Go f*** yourself.

NIHILIST: Excuse me, but why do you hate free speech?

PROTESTER: Excuse ME! What are you talking about, I’m in the middle of a protest!

NIHILIST: Oh, I must have misheard you. I could have sworn you told my associate here to go f*** himself.

PROTESTER: Well, yeah, I did. He’s a racist piece of shit, after all.

NIHILIST: So, you aren’t interested in what he has to say?

PROTESTER (agitated): C’mon, dude, this isn’t the sa-

NIHILIST: I thought you believed in free speech! We are two citizens here, you and I, and I just want to have a conversation with you. Now, are you aware that nine out of every ten crime victims is white, and nine out of every ten criminals is non-white?

PROTESTER: Well, no, I didn’t know that because it’s not-

NIHILIST: And did you also know that hundreds of college campuses have begun rolling out campus speech codes and trigger warnings in their syllabi? And that wages would be 89% higher without illegal immigrants taking jobs away from REAL Americans?

PROTESTER (overwhelmed): That all sounds like total bulls-

NIHILIST (becoming more animated): Don’t interrupt, you liberals have been silencing conservatives for long enough!!! My associates have brought along a wealth of literature to educate people on the depravity and corrupting nature of various ethnicities, complete with color-coded charts mapping particular deficiencies to particular races! We have facts and figures, credible journals, EVIDENCE, man! And we demand a free and fair exchange of ideas!

PROTESTER: Well, I suppose that would be alright, I’m totally convinced of the rightness of my position, and I suppose more debate is always good! Let’s set this up! Alright gang, pack it in. We’re going to need to set up a couple podiums and a sound system- it’s time to take racism head on in the marketplace of ideas!

The protest begins to disperse, slowly, with many attendees visibly confused about what just happened. A moderated debate is held between the FASCIST and the PROTESTER, with the audience scoring a virtual tie. It’s broadcast on the Internet, and gives the impression to young potential fascists at home that being a racist and authoritarian piece of shit is a legitimate political viewpoint worthy of discussion. 

After the debate, NIHILIST starts several fires around the venue and sleeps soundly that evening.

(I really like it when Roy Edroso does stuff like this, so all credit/blame to him for inspiring me.)

 

 

 

Trump Pledges to Destroy World for Inexplicable Reasons

Above: President* Trump

It may surprise some readers to learn that we here at The Dissident Peasant believe that climate change should be considered the top issue of all of humanity, from the littlest guy to the most powerful lord. Through industrial activity human beings have rendered themselves capable of turning the earth into a desert, and stopping ourselves from doing so simply must be done!

But opponents to this pretty simple peasant-focused risk assessment have thousands of petty objections and perfectly irrational reasons to support their position. The classic “It isn’t happening!” remains popular (if less so than in recent decades), but its cousin “it’s happening but it will mostly be a wash” has appeared, and gems like “it’s too expensive” and “China and India aren’t going to help anyway so…” have hung around.

However, the man currently illegally occupying the office of the presidency in the United States has introduced a new reason into the annals of debate: !?!?!?!?

Continue reading “Trump Pledges to Destroy World for Inexplicable Reasons”

“Suck. On. This.”

This guy is paid tens of millions of dollars for his ideas. MERITOCRACY.

Dissident peasants have to work just the same as contented ones, so it’s a shame that I didn’t manage to get this out on Monday for the anniversary, but on 5/29/2003, billionaire anti-peasant propagandist Thomas Friedman managed to put together a direct and concise explanation for the invasion of Iraq (after 2 and a half minutes of spinning bullshit into gold-colored bullshit):

Continue reading ““Suck. On. This.””

Texas Thug Calls Modern-Day Brownshirts on Protesters

Texas State Rep. and violent thug in an expensive suit Matt Rinaldi.

Leading up to the election of Donald Trump, some leftists contended that a Clinton presidency would be every bit as bad, and possibly worse, than a Trump one. Some still contend this. But fascism is here, it’s real, and it’s actively ruining people’s lives- it’s no longer a hypothetical we’re measuring against a nearly certain Democratic administration:

A Texas Republican threatened to “put a bullet in one of his colleague’s heads” during a scuffle on the House floor over the state’s new anti-‘sanctuary cities’ law on Monday, the final day of the regular legislative session.

Representative Matt Rinaldi, R-Irving, made the comment to Representative Poncho Nevárez during a dispute that began when Rinaldi told two Hispanic lawmakers that he called Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Senate Bill 4 protesters at the Capitol.

Continue reading “Texas Thug Calls Modern-Day Brownshirts on Protesters”

Seeds, Mighty Oaks, Single Steps and Thousand-Mile Journeys

You’d think beginning would be easier. The Internet and modern media have made it easier than ever before for the common person to both produce and consume content; access to information and the boundless editorial and cultural products that result have blossomed into countless little plots of differing hue and composition. To start a blog in such an environment should be a relatively easy endeavor for an opinionated sort of guy, which is one thing that I am.

But it isn’t. Countless plots have indeed developed, but the largest gardens of corporate/cable news and radio are full of fetid and dangerous hate, weeds choking any sense of community or compassion among human beings, bland and unenlightened acres of false-equivalency and institutionalism, with a few bright pockets of reason and justice finding their way to the sunlight. Smaller, yet more noxious and disgusting tracts are filled with actual fascists and sociopaths, and smaller still there are gardens where caring about both what is true and what is right are still in fashion. This final category is what I endeavor to add something to, but whether I create honey or poison, it will be a drop in an endless ocean. What kind of point is there to any of that?

To be honest, I don’t know. But I do know there are some ideas and people worth preserving and defending, and while concepts and ideals like democracy, secularism, the rule of law and shared humanity have never been safe, they are under attack like never before. So count me in.

I’m the Dissident Peasant. I’m no one of great wealth, status, or fame. I’m not overly-educated or greatly skilled at anything in particular. I’m a common man with a common job that doesn’t pay me enough, but I’m no fool. I know that the economic and political domination of people like me and millions others is ongoing and increasing, that there are plenty of rich people in expensive clothes who prefer things that way and will never stop trying to pick another paltry dollar from a person’s pocket. I see what’s offered in return by and to some of my fellow peasants- xenophobia and racism, bellicosity and cruelty.

I have some things to say about that.