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The Search For Ultimate Diversity

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the celebrated writer of the musical “Hamilton,’ recently created a new musical, “In the Heights,’ which he meant as a celebration of his ethnic roots and background. The musical became a movie, but there were complaints, centered not on the plot, or the songs, or the themes, but on ethnic representation, specifically, the color of the actors.

On Tuesday, Manuel wrote this: “I can hear the hurt and frustration, of colorism, of feeling still unseen, in the feedback. I hear that without sufficient dark-skinned Afro-Latinos representation, the work feels extractive of the community we so much wanted to represent with pride and joy. In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short. I’m truly sorry. I promise to do better in my future projects, and I’m dedicated to the learning and evolving we all have to do to make sure we are honoring our diverse and vibrant community.’

It was felt by the people Miranda was apologizing to, that there were not enough dark-skinned Afro-Latinos in the movie, to accurately represent the community Miranda was writing about. The director of the movie, John Chu, whom the Los Angeles Times article described as “a groundbreaking director of color,’ said that he tried to choose the actors who he thought were best for the roles. The article’s writer says, “While audiences were dazzled by the salsa, merengue, and hip-hop dance numbers in the film, some were simultaneously angered and dismayed by its minimal Afro-Latino and LGBTQ+ representation.’

Well, this bothered me. Now it is not just choosing between “Whites vs. Blacks’ in terms of balancing or criticizing casting choices. It is “light-skinned Latinos,” vs. “darker-skinned Afro-Latinos.” These are not terms I made up, they are in the article, and in the quoted texts and comments of the people angered by the casting. Where does this go? Not enough mesomorphs? Too many tall people? We need more or fewer blondes or redheads? Less Protestants? More Jewish characters? Is there a formula to get the right proportions of each, or is it something for viewers in general to decide in each case?

I didn’t see the play or movie. That is essentially irrelevant, because I am not reviewing it, criticizing it, or praising it. And various people were creatively involved in it, including Miranda, Chu, and Quiara Alegria Hudes, who wrote the book for the stage musical. And any of them has the perfect right to be displeased with the film product, or supportive of it; and to make public statements about it.

My perspective, which of course I am also entitled to, is that however well-meaning or full of feeling the comments may be, they reflect a game that cannot be won, which is pleasing every single ethnic group or sexual orientation. It cannot be done, as we see every day. There is always someone or some group which is offended, angry, feels excluded or insulted.

Not to mean to mock any of this by the comparison, but it reminds me of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian,’ where there is this scene where all the various political revolutionary groups voice their own specific demands, which devolves into a squabbling uproar. That was meant as a send-up of the people of various political groups in the ’60’s and ’70’s, each with a different avowed agenda, who would endlessly argue about orthodoxy, political means and goals.

And it reminded me of the the 1972 Democratic Convention, where a desire for complete inclusiveness, led to virtual chaos; candidates being nominated for VP, then un-nominated, then nominated again.; as the convention’s last day went on until 3AM, at which time the presidential nominee gave his acceptance speech to almost no audience. That debacle certainly contributed in at least some part to the landslide loss in the general election, and the takeover of the party machinery by the Conservative Carter wing in 1976.

Miranda certainly can keep trying to create a work, and control a casting policy, which does not offend anyone, at least any of the minority groups, but he will likely not succeed. What concerns me is that we witness the evil enemy, the fascist Republicans, take full advantage of the relative impotence of ‘our side,’ which is paralyzed by the ceaseless complaining and anger coming from various groups who do not feel sufficiently represented, whether in awards shows, or movie or theatre casts, or candidates, or appointees, and who then either lose interest in supporting the other ones, or seem more concerned about getting their way, than in winning the elections.

And do not think that the Republicans aren’t fully aware of that. This is why I read that “critical race theory’ has apparently been mentioned on Fox News literally something like 3,000 times in the last month. They have two essential aims in their propaganda; 1) find terms or stories to scare White voters that the country is going to be taken over by minority forces who are going to impose a cultural agenda in schools and in art; 2) split the Democrats by accentuating anger among the various factions. This is what the Russians did in 2016, with their ads on social media. Enough people got so angry so as to not vote, which directly caused the margins in the three crucial swing states.

I can’t tell various ethnic groups what to be angry about, or where I think that they are missing the forest for the trees, or being deliberately deflected into dead ends. I think that this kind of quota thing, where there has to be an acceptable amount of various ethnicities in every production, is both dreary, and seeks to impose a kind of cultural and verbal orthodoxy.

You must have more of this, less of that; someone is offended because someone said a word or cast a person which someone might possibly object to, which of course they want to tell everyone about and ramp up anger. I have heard about this kind of thing going on in college classes, which can be brought to a standstill, if every person who doesn’t like this or that author being included or does not like the way in which the history is presented, gets to voice complaints at every turn. Admittedly it is a delicate problem, to balance trying to be fair and listen to everyone, and trying to teach course material.

Where do we draw that figurative line? I deliberately never saw Spike Lee’s movie “Mo’ Better Blues”; I had read more than one review which said that Lee’s portrayals of Jewish people in the movie more than verged on anti-semitic stereotypes. Some people are intensely concerned with bias against them, but blithely unconcerned with their own bias against others, but of course they don’t see it as bias. So I had no wish to see that movie, or give Lee any part of my $10, which of course he has done fine without. But he got the movie made, and very few even consider the stereotyping bias in it, because Jewish people are a fairly small group by numbers, and are not as apt to complain about such things.

If we are required to count every single actor or statement or piece of art, and carefully inspect it for its numbers of each group, and its possible cultural flaws, we will stymie all or most of it, or else relegate it to only acceptable by select groups. Or we will try, as Disney apparently does, to create works which do not offend one single person, which requires the most bland, insipid presentations.

There have been so many periods in human history where various forces demanded othodoxy, and used various tools to enforce it, including execution. Socrates was forced to drink hemlock. The Christian Church wiped out entire groups of members of so-called heresies, such as the Albigensians. The Inquisition was designed to find excuses to burn people, searching for even the slightest deviation from orthodoxy. The Puritans enforced rigid rules in their bailiwicks, The 1950’s and McCarthyism demanded conformity from everyone, and questioned people in a similar manner as the Spanish Inquisitors. There are different types of forced conformity, and one of them is now the demand for ultimate diversity in all things, at least for the people who are demanding it.

I saw “West Side Story,’ of course, and I know that some were not thrilled by Natalie Wood playing a teenage girl of Puerto Rican ancestry. I thought that the powerful effect of the musical was not diluted, but this would never happen now. Now we have “color blind casting,’ which has cast plays which I have seen, where in the 18th Century play “She Stoops to Conquer,’ an actress from the West Indies played the nearby cousin of the daughter of a landed English gentleman; and where in Shaw’s Victorian play, “Mrs. Warren’s Profession,” Mrs. Warren is Black, and her daughter is White.

I do realize that this was intended to give minority actors more of a chance for major roles, which no reasonable person would argue against. But you will never see a White actor play a Black person, so what happened to the theoretical principle of color blind casting? And I admit that I find it disconcerting. as it is more difficult to lose yourself in the play, you are always conscious of the ethnicities which were not part of the original work. Somebody who has not read these plays, sees them, and may well think that the ethnicities of the actors were intended by the playwright, that there is a cultural aspect to the story which actually never was the case.

We can be certain that if the Republicans regain power, there are going to be trials and executions of various sorts, for those who do not conform to their cultural dictates. The strength of American democracy was always believed to be a tolerance for a diversity of opinions. But that may have mostly been a thin veneer of protection against the impulses toward orthodoxy and totalitarianism which too many people have. And paradoxically, some of the orthodoxy is now directed toward various diversity requirements.

What well-intentioned Lin-Manuel Miranda wants to do with his next work, is his own right, and not a major matter, except that it keeps recurring in various aspects of our culture. The effort to write or say something which does not possibly offend any person or group of people, is Sisyphean, and almost certainly doomed to failure. And if the Democrats fall back into the same kind of thing which went on in the ’70’s, we will all suffer the same fate as then, being repeatedly divided against ourselves.

Covid was the tip of the iceberg

Have you found yourself waiting to buy things lately because inventory is low? BFF has experienced this lately with a critical part of his car that needed to be replaced.

I haven’t bought lumber lately but there are reports that the price has been up something like 300% over last year in some places.

Semiconductors are in short supply.

It’s just one thing after another.

So, how did it get this way? It’s only partially due to Covid. Covid was the final straw. There have been many factors that have lead us to this point, including Toyota’s Production System that was embraced by MBA types throughout the world without much forecasting and strategerizing. Add the big Orange’s reckless tariffs, and a smidge of this and that, and you’ve got a trade, shipping and manufacturing disaster that will take months and months to sort out.

If you’re still waiting for that new sofa, you might want to consider making it yourself, if you can find the materials to do it. Or not.

Here’s a handy video that explains it all. Lots of good background information that you might not even have thought of. Enjoy.

Ohhhh, I get it now

Happy Betsy Ross Day.

I’m starting to get how it is that right wingers can obsess about the flag and yet spit on democracy in general.

They pledge allegiance to the FLAG and to the republic for which it stands. So, if the definition of that republic changes, they pledge allegiance to the flag of that republic. Liberty and Justice for all could have many definitions.

Justice for all, well, who’s to say? There’s got to be a reason why black people keep getting in the way of bullets. Who are we to question the authorities?

And Liberty has been around since the beginning of the Constitution and it didn’t say anything about Liberty for everybody. Like women. Same with the vote. Not everybody got the right to vote in 1792. Poor people with no property, why should they get to vote? (I’m looking at you, Ohio)

So, if the right wing party says Liberty means the ability to compete in a dog eat dog world and get everything you want without worrying about the lives, needs and feelings of others, what’s wrong with that?

Just an aside here: I read a sci-fi book a few years back about a mage navigator who needs to visit a planet run completely by libertarians. You had to buy your own oxygen and bounty hunters roamed the terminal looking for bodies they could turn over for cash. Visitors were warned they were on their own. Everything had a price. Like breathing and hydration. They didn’t just give that stuff out for free. Do they look like a charity??

I love speculative fiction. It takes crazy ideas to their logical conclusions.

Ok, I’m back on topic.

So, anyway, this flag thing. Lauren Boebert is part of a subversive, anti-democratic coalition that lives off of the supporters it lies to. It feeds its followers emotions, rage, misdirection. The result is that the press, voting, Liberty and justice are being threatened.

But by golly, they sure do love their flag. It stands for their version of America and they will pledge their allegiance enthusiastically.

You know what would be cool? If we asked Gomert, Gaetz, Graham, Boebert, McCarthy and Green exactly what their definitions of Liberty and Justice are. Like, get them to elaborate on that and their philosophy. I’d love to hear that.

If they say whatever the former Oval Office occupant says (he’s not coming back. Sorry), let’s get it all out so we can look at it.

I’m going in

Today is my first day back in the office since early March 2020. I already made a couple of mistakes. I didn’t find my refillable bus pass. Also, I forgot my mask, had to go back to the car to get it and missed my bus. There will be another one in a few minutes. I hope.

Also, about work clothes. Stuff is a bit snug. So I wore a black pleated skirt that I’ve had hanging in my closet for a year. Some people should not wear pleats. That’s all I’ll say on that.

My morning latte might be detoured to Starbucks instead of my customary Crazy Mocha. All of the Crazy Mocha shops are “temporarily closed” downtown. Whatever that means. I got a little panicked about that and felt like calling the company. “What does that mean, temporarily closed? You mean like until 7am? When will you open back up? How many weeks? I can’t wait that long.”

It’s going to be rough this morning. Very rough.

How is your morning commute?

********

Let’s get the blood pumping from bus stop to office with The Walker:

I’M IN!

*******

Starbucks is closed too! Is there nowhere in downtown Pittsburgh where a human being can get a medium skim latte?? I am being forced to drink alternative coffee substance. It’s like a dystopian nightmare.

The Magic of Film Noir

Sunday night is noir night on my cable channel KCOPDT3, so that inspired me to write a post about my favorite movie genre. I know that there are a lot of important things going on right now in the world, but sometimes it is nice to escape into another one for at least a couple of hours, which is the appeal of noir night.

I am by no means a film expert, in terms of the actual art of filmmaking, although I can appreciate the effects of cinematography, editing, and visual style, as they obviously are essential to what makes movies. I am more attuned to stories, dialogue, and the themes of any work of art. I have always thought of myself as someone who “likes the book better than the movie,” though there are exceptions. I love a good story, complex characters, memorable dialogue. Those are rare enough, in novels or films, but when you encounter them, it is special.

By far my favorite genre of films is “film noir.” Everyone has heard the term, but it conveys something a bit different to each person. When we think of film noir, we most often refer to a cinematic style. Shadows and light, dark streets, ominous visual angles. Film noir took some of this from German Expressionism in art and film. But to me, noir is about a good deal more than the style and visual images. It is the perfect melding of theme, dialogue, and style.

The term film noir was actually coined by French movie critics, it means “dark film.” It was applied to a type of movie which first came out in the 1940’s. Some of the first uses of the term go back to 1941 or so. The “noir cycle” is generally considered to be from around the early ’40’s to the mid-’50’s, but there are a few which came out after that.

The film analyst Eddie Mueller, whose essential genre is film noir, has a game on TCM, where he asks whether people consider this film to be “noir” or not. The definition, like the films themselves, can be rather opaque and ambiguous. Some concentrate on the visual elements, lighting camera work. Some focus on the dialogue. i have my own definition, which is more related to the themes and characterizations of a noir film.

I like to think of the classic noir period as beginning around 1946, which is when many young men came back from four years or more of military service in World War II. Their individual stories differ, of course, but the essence of them is that they left America as 18-20 year old boys, often from small and somewhat innocent towns, and came back changed. They saw death. In some cases, they were required to kill people. They saw bravery and other less appealing traits.. They lost their innocence to varying degrees.

The town they came home to was changed. Their “girl” had grown up as well. Some of them were essentially the same person, but some became more worldly and sophisticated. Some had moved on in relationships, and had become involved with an older man, someone who did not have to serve, and who may have used the opportunity to accumulate wealth and power.

The classic noir theme was the young man returning home, to find that things had changed, and that his ground had shifted. He had to find a job, pick up a past vocation, or find a new one, without much in the way of help or sympathy. He might have a few buddies from the war, and they might try to help each other. Or they might drift apart. His former girlfriend might be overjoyed to see him, or might not really want him back. She might have a new boyfriend. He might be someone who has a good deal of political and financial power. He might be amoral or corrupt. She might be fine with that, and actually use her former boyfriend in their scheme.

The sense of uncertainty, not knowing what you are facing, not even knowing yourself, or what you are capable of, is essential to classic film noir. One of the classics of the genre, is “Somewhere in the Night,’ what a great title. John Hodiak plays George Taylor, a soldier who finds himself in a military hospital just after the end of the war. He has been injured, and he realizes that he is also suffering from amnesia. Some form of amnesia is not uncommon in these stories, and one does not have to believe that it is medically believable, because it is virtually a metaphor for the theme of not knowing who you are, coming to a place which is somehow unfamiliar to you, like a maze where you have to somehow find your way through it, though you do not know what lies around the next turn.

Hodiak has only one clue to start him off, a slip of paper in his coat pocket, a check for $500 made out to him by a Larry Cravat. He somehow gets out of the hospital without the doctors realizing that he does not know who he is, or anything about his former life. He goes to Los Angeles, maybe because the check is drawn on a bank there. He tries to cash the check, but the bank officer is suspicious, so he runs out of the bank. He finds that people are also looking for Mr. Cravat, and think he might know where he is. He gets beaten up for not telling them things he does not even know. He meets a young nightclub chanteuse who likes him and wants to help.

Eventually, he learns that he and Cravat may have been involved in a murder/robbery, Again, the theme of “What am I capable of?,’ which is central to many classic noir films. He is compelled to find the truth about himself, which leads him on a quintessential noir journey through the streets of Los Angeles, meeting a variety of colorful and sometimes haunted figures. Every character in a noir film is important, and there are so many absolutely unforgettable roles where mostly unknown but sometimes famous actors (such as Mary Astor’s stunning performance in “Act of Violence’) are absolutely crucial to the story.

Every person in a noir film counts, they advance and color in the plot Taxi drivers, hotel desk night clerks, pharmacists, unlicensed plastic surgeons, people behind the counter at diners, habituate the great noir films. There is no other genre where “ordinary people,’ sometimes revealed as heroic, sometimes untrustworthy, are so important and compelling.

So in what I view as the classic noir story, a man is the protagonist in his own existential drama. He is looking for someone or something. He wonders if he has done something very wrong. He is being pursued by dangerous people whose motives may be difficult to know. He has got to keep on moving, following whatever clues he can pick up. He must rely on someone, but whom can he trust?

We are all familiar with the classic “femme fatale” role in noir movies. But contrary to what some may think, not every woman in a noir is a femme fatale. There is also the ‘angel,’ the woman who believes in the protagonist, tries to help him. One could say that the key female characters in noir are either ‘dark’ or “light.” But for those who may not like the fact that noirs almost always feature a male protagonist, the women in noir films are essential; and there are so many brilliant performances by female actors in leading or supporting roles, in these movies.

One of the things which led to the end of the noir cycle, in addition to the changing culture, is the fact that the studios were getting pressure from political types to do more moralistic stories, as compared to the moral ambiguity of some of the noirs. So a succession of police crime dramas were made, often with the voiceover telling us how the FBI agents used their skill to capture a crime ring which was undermining the society, and then the credits thanking J. Edgar Hoover for making the files available. I do not like most of these, as they really are not noirs, they are the precursors to “Dragnet.” The characters are black and white, there is no existential dilemma. Some of the stylistic aspects of noir remain in these, but they are by the book, and preachy, as were much of the 1950’s.

I could write so much more about the film noir genre, but I will list my favorite noir films which I hope you will try, if you like noir movies, because I think they are the best of the best.

1) “Out of the Past.’ This is actually my favorite film of all time, irrespective of genre. The script, actually written by an unattributed Frank Fenton, is poetic, with so many unforgettable lines and beautiful verbal similes and metaphors. The story is complex but dramatically and psychologically believable. The three lead actors, Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, and Kirk Douglas, are virtually the creators of classic noir character types in these roles. Greer, at 22 years old, portrayed the ultimate femme fatale with an amazing nuance, and even real charm. The great director Jacques Tourneur, with his legendary photographer Nicholas Musuraca, create scene after scene, shot after shot, which will stay in your memory. “The first time I saw her, she was coming out of the sun.’

2) “Kiss Me Deadly.” This movie is late in the noir cycle, and it has a different aspect, but is absolutely brilliant. It is based on a Mike Hammer novel written by Mickey Spillane; but the screenwriter, the novelist A.I. Bezzerides, and the director Robert Aldrich.; as well as Ralph Meeker, in a great performance as Mike Hammer, take it to another realm. The dialogue is a haunting combination of tough guy language, and a kind of strange, allusive poetry. It is filled with wonderful shots of ’50’s Los Angeles. It evokes a world which is dark and corrupted. The opening credits which play backward, while Cloris Leachman is desperately running down a road, and the theme song plays, “I’d Rather Have the Blues Than What I’ve Got,”is one of the greatest opening scenes I have ever seen, and it indelibly evokes the mood and themes of this unsettling but always involving masterpiece.

3) “Dark Passage” This is a very effective adaptation of a novel written by the great noir writer David Goodis. The sense of danger never leaves it. One does not know how it will end. (That is something almost unique to noirs;; since there is darkness there, the happy ending is not at all guaranteed. Anything is possible, the suspense continues until the last shot. Eddie Mueller seems to favor noir films which have a dark ending, but I actually like those which have a happy ending, if you have sympathy for the character, and also for the romantic relationship portrayed.). Humphrey Bogart’s face is not visible until halfway through the film, which caused the movie to be underappreciated. I think it is the best of the four films that he and Lauren Bacall made together, which many might argue with, but I am adamant about. The supporting performances, by Agnes Moorhead, Clifton Young, Tom D’Andrea, Bruce Bennett, and an iconic Houseley Stevenson, are wonderful. Delmer Daves was a great director.

4) “Somewhere in the Night’ A classic noir theme, as I discussed above. I always like Richard Conte in anything, he should have been an even bigger star. A very poignant scene with John Hodiak and Josephine Hutchinson is one of those brief moments in noir films that will always stay with you, something rather unique to this incredible genre.

5) “The Narrow Margin” This is a very hard choice, and this movie does not have the classic noir themes of the first four. But it is so brilliantly done, with pounding suspense from the very first scene, and with great pacing, and a superb mostly unknown cast, that it deserves its acclaim. Richard Fleischer’s direction is impeccable. Jacqueline White did not have a long movie career, as she decided to marry and raise a family instead, but she is one of the most charming female leads I have seen in any of the noir movies

I could mention about twenty others, as well. I did not list some of the famous noir movies, which I think have been overrated, but that is what opinions are for. If “The Maltese Falcon” counts as a noir (which it probably is, though it was made in 1941, and I think of it as possibly more of a detective story). then it should be on the list

And we know the phrase “neo noir,” which refers to a later film, often in color, past the era of the noir cycle. The best of those, in my opinion, are “Chinatown,” “Cutter’s Way,” and “Dark City,’the movie written and directed by Alex Proyas.

The pleasures of film noir are both plentiful and endlessly repeatable. You can watch them many times, and escape to a world which was partly very real, partly accentuated; full of drama and complexity, but almost always immensely entertaining. Would that they made more of them, but I guess that it is essentially impossible, as the world which they portrayed does not exist any longer, except in our memories and vivid imaginations.

Sometimes one sees something: a part of a film, a TV drama, which has elements of noir, which is always nice to encounter, if it is done with real regard for the qualities which are the essence of that amazing period in movie history. Or you see something in “real life,” and you think, ‘That is so much like a noir movie.’ There have been all sorts of movies and genres and themes over more than a hundred years of filmmaking. But are there any which have made such an impression, and are virtually a way of looking at the world, as film noir?

Too much of a good thing.

I’m about to say something controversial.

If the left hadn’t come up with “Defund the Police”, the right would have created it for us.

I think I registered my caution at the time it happened.

I get what the intent was and I am fully behind Black Lives Matter. I’m not just saying that. I really mean it.

But that slogan was just damaging to the cause and I wasn’t behind that concept. At all. Demilitarize the police would have been my preference because it is much easier to explain and defend. In other words, let’s make sure the police don’t see the rest of us as the enemy. Let’s take the 9/11 terrorism alert mentality down a notch. Not all protestors are out to destroy the country. In fact, our biggest terrorism threats are white extremist and nationalism groups and that has been common knowledge among the FBI for more than a decade. It’s not black people.

There is some rather overdue criticism of “woke culture” lately that I think deserves attention. That is not to say that being woke and mindful of other peoples’ culture and experiences is a bad thing. It’s not. But there is something going on around wokeness that feels like something out of Mao Tse Dong’s Cultural Revolution.

I had a supervisor whose wife was a teenager during the Chinese Cultural Revolution and participated enthusiastically. In her case, she attacked any fashion item that smacked of western capitalism. She thought it was particularly educational to find someone wearing a nice pair of Levi’s and then squirt the button fly 501’s with a syringe of bleach. Yeah, imagine saving all the money you could scrounge, finding a way to smuggle in a pair of expensive jeans and then have some twerp destroy them in the name of culture.

Those kids were celebrated. And probably feared. They’re the kind of kids that make you sleep with one eye open.

Their method of compliance was shame. What are the chances you would wear those jeans again in public with big bleach marks on them? And if you had a pair of jeans that hadn’t been destroyed yet, the best thing to do would be to never wear them at all.

Shaming is a very powerful tool but weirdly enough, it’s only effective against the left. The right doesn’t seem to care about shame or at least we haven’t found their tender spots yet. The seemed to tolerate just about any criminal, unethical, immoral behavior that the big Orange could do. But we have a little army of cultural revolutionaries that are constantly shaming us and correcting even the smallest perceived infraction with demands to engage in public self-denunciation, re-education and endless apologies. How many times did we demand that Hillary Clinton apologize for living?

So, I direct your attention to Lindsay Ellis’s review of her “cancellation” by Twitter mob. It’s pretty long but worth the watch. Lindsay is a YouTube film critic and a best selling author. She is also about as far from a right wing, insensitive a-hole as you can possibly get. In this video, she reviews her “crimes” and does bend to pressure somewhat. I don’t think she needed to. But she also shows how painful it is when the mob doesn’t know your own background.

The other piece is a The Good Fight podcast interview of James Carville. He’s looking at this from a very broad perspective. You might not like it if you are looking to reform people on very specific issues to your particular and demanding specifications. Tough. That’s not the way to gain allies.

I will disagree with him to some degree. Living with people who aren’t like you, especially when it comes to religion or politics can be exhausting. I’ve had to do this my entire life and, I’m sorry, we all have our limits. Sometimes it would be such a relief if there were more members of the family who were less religious or conservative. At least there would be someone to talk to at wedding receptions who wouldn’t be blessing people or talking about how evil liberals are. Yeah, it would be nice if THOSE people took Carville’s advice.

Nevertheless, his broader message still stands. Love your neighbor and do your best. That goes for the Twitter mobs as well. Knock it off already guys.

There is a reason why the word “racist” is banned in the comment section of this blog. It’s because we were bludgeoned by that word during the 2008 campaign by the Obama contingent. There were many reasons why we became opposed to Obama over time. Mostly this had to with his lack of experience, lack of reason for running for president, lack of a political coalition, lack of a coherent message that he didn’t steal from Hillary Clinton and something that came across to the rest of us as empty aspirationalism instead of content. Plus, his campaign and its operatives were quite willing to bend the party to its will with some heavy psy ops when it wasn’t intentionally burning down the house by jettisoning the “old coalition” of working class and women for the “new coalition” of eggheads and African Americans. It was not a formula that could last past the Obama years, as we saw in advance and were later proven to be correct.

One of the most disgusting things the Obama campaign did was accuse anyone who didn’t support Obama as being racist. It didn’t matter if we objected to policy, or campaign behavior or sucking up to Wall Street or his lack of concern for the displaced in the wake of the financial collapse of 2008, we were all racists. They told us that we just objected to him because he was black. It’s sort of the equivalent of telling us that we objected to Trump extorting a foreign country and corrupting the justice department because he’s a strong guy who makes the libs cry. That’s what Obama’s operatives did. They took focus away from policy and behaviors and made it all personal prejudice. As a consequence, they put us in a box with all the right wingers and White supremacists and plutocrats. They attempted to shame us into compliance. Is it any wonder why Democrats lost a good chunk of the working class that they didn’t think they needed and came back to bite them in the ass?

So one day, we said f\{} that s%*% with calling us racists. We’re not going to fight on their turf. That’s not who we are and we’re not going to let some commenters assigned to getting this blog in line and lock step push us around. So, we banned the word. You couldn’t just knee jerk accuse people of racism in the comments. You had to describe the action you didn’t like. It turned out it wasn’t about racism.

As Carville says, words are very important. It’s been the policy of this blog to mean what you say and say what you mean. Don’t use memes and slogans like “neoliberal” because no one has defined what that means except it is unpleasant and can be hurled at anything a mindless lefty doesn’t like. If you can’t describe it in simple terms that show you grasp the concept, then don’t use it. And if you abide by the “keep it simple stupid” and love your neighbor (or try to no matter how tiresome it is) rules, you shouldn’t have anything to apologize for.

We are trying to be good allies. People should remember that before they engage in shaming. On the other hand, if the left didn’t invent shaming by wokeness, the right would have to invent it.

Something to think about.

Hillary and Bill

I almost never watch the late night comedy/talk shows, but I heard that Jimmy Kimmel was going to have Bill Clinton and James Patterson to talk about their new book collaboration, “The President’s Daughter,” so I watched that part.

Bill was as sharp as ever. The questions were about the writing, not about politics, but there were a couple of occasions where he talked a bit about various foreign policy aspects of his Presidency. I miss him as President, he was my favorite whom I actually witnessed. And I thought about what an amazing presidency Hillary would have had, with Bill helping in various aspects.

Bill and Hillary were perhaps the most gifted and intelligent and generally compassionate political couple in American history, with Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt of course being right there. And once again, it is impossible not to be upset at how Hillary and Bill were the unceasing targets of attacks and slanders and lies from the Republicans. And even with that, they could have surmounted all of it, except for the almost unaccountable help the Republicans were given by the major media in their dual war against the Clintons.

We remember it all too well. Why was it that the vast majority of the media were engaged in a decades long effort to attack, disparage, mock, sneer at Hillary? Misogyny is of course a major factor, but it is certainly more than that. She seemed to crystallize everything the male media hated: she is smarter than they are, she doesn’t fall to her knees and abjectly apologize to them for whatever the new topic was that they wanted her to apologize for. Some of them compared her to their mother-in-law, or their ex-wife, any woman who could make them feel inadequate or wrong.

But of course there were plenty of female media people who attacked Hillary, some perhaps with even more ferocity than the men. She was not to the manner born, though she did manage to go to Wellesley, and Yale Law School. She didn’t dress elegantly. She went farther then they did in their careers. They didn’t like that she didn’t divorce Bill, as if it were any of their business what she chose to do in her private life. She grasped policy like no one else, except Bill, while the media people had some basic knowledge of issues, but not very deep or nuanced.

And it was all a fun game, for the people who unfortunately seem to predominate in the media, particularly the broadcast media. As if the fact that they have a microphone and can get on TV and shake their heads, and mock and sneer, means that they win, they are more powerful than their targets. It was both unseemly and embarrassing, and of course immensely detrimental to the fate of the country. Imagine that they managed to get Trump, a psychopath with no intelligence, ability, or decency, elected over Hillary, and then actually seemed to be gratified by it.

Jason Johnson, who somehow has garnered a regular spot on the MSNBC cable shows, said a few months ago that “Hillary Clinton was the most loathed Presidential candidate in American history.” When someone says something as stupid and sneeringly arrogant as that, you can bet it is because he is the one who loathes her. Hillary got 66 million votes for President, and that was with Russia putting all its power behind Trump; Facebook going along with it by running millions of lies and slanders about Hillary; people like Johnson and Eddie Glaude actually saying (in Glaude’s case) that they would not vote in the election., or that Hillary was loathed.

Hillary was always hated by the Right, because they feared her, she was not someone they could roll over. The Left learned to hate her, because Sanders goaded them into it, and also because the Left always hates mainstream Democrats. So in that sense, she was loathed by the two extremes, and very popular in the reasonable middle, and she got an immense amount of votes, more than her opponents, even Obama when she ran against him. But Johnson is sure that she was the most loathed candidate in history. It is this kind of thing, gratuitous and stupid insults from hack pretend journalists, which Hillary has had to deal with for her entire political career. And if she had stayed home and baked cookies, they would have hated her for that.

So we lost out on potentially the greatest president of the last 80 years or so, because of Right wing fear and hatred of her, and a bunch of immature wannabe media types who derived their sense of importance from trying to get the people they liked and partied with, elected.

James Patterson mentioned that he and the Clintons were having dinner somewhere, and Bill and Hillary were holding hands under the table. I found that touching. They always loved each other, even despite Bill’s self-indulgence and foolishness. Much of the media could not stand that, they think that getting some TV or newspaper gig means that you are qualified to judge everyone else’s choices and morals.

I am sure that the Clintons are happy enough; they have many friends, they stay engaged with national and foreign matters. But the entire saga is a tragedy for America, for tens of millions of people who have issues and concerns, and want someone in charge who will care about them, and try to help them. Biden is that, but he does not have the immense grasp of issues and policies that Hillary and BIll have; and he also has this aspect where he believes that he can work with Republicans, that they are mostly decent people who have been led astray, rather than power hungry fascists who will take away the rights and liberties of anyone who is not exactly like them.

Bill and Hillary, while generous people, have no such illusions, and would have found ways to keep the Democratic Party in power, just as Bill set it up perfectly for Gore, only to have Donna Brazile and Gore himself blow it, by not letting Bill campaign for him. And yet we know that whomever the Republicans nominate, the media will be kinder to him or her than they ever were to Hillary. All she ever really wanted to do was to serve, to make America better. I am very glad that Bill and Hillary are still out there, still doing what they can, heads held high, in the face of the Far Right and the Far Left and the frat boys and mean girls of the media, who have not matured a day since junior high school.

Break Time: Uncle Wiggily Stories

Sometimes it is nice to return to one’s favorite children’s stories, even if only in one’s mind. I fondly remember my favorites, and I have even written some stories of my own, which I never tried to publish, though they received praise from the select people I have let read them. And with a good illustrator, I am pretty sure I could. Unfortunately, some of them seem to have been lost on the internet, the Cloud, whatever it is. It comes from having my typewriter break down, and then resorting to the computer to write them; and since I do not know anything about computers, and since AOL scrubbed immense amounts of mail, they are lost or mislaid somewhere. I still have a few, though, and maybe I might copy one or two at some point so that you could read them here.

Focusing on books that I loved as a child, I think of Uncle Wiggily stories. My parents had great taste in children’s books, and bought some wonderful ones for me. My mother probably had more to do with the choices, though they both contributed.

Many do not know of Uncle Wiggily now, but the stories, written by Howard R. Garis, were famous. He wrote a story a day for about twenty years, and they were published in newspapers and magazines. To show that Uncle Wiggily was virtually a household name, there is a short story by J.D. Salinger called, “Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut,” but it was unfortunately not about the rabbit gentleman. And in a good noir movie, “Scene of the Crime,’ Gloria DeHaven’s character called Van Johnson’s police detective “Uncle Wiggily.”

Uncle Wiggily Longears, that was his full name, was a somewhat elderly rabbit gentleman who lived in a hollow stump bungalow with his muskrat housekeeper, Nurse Jane Fuzzy Wuzzy. She would bake him cherry pies, just like my grandmother would bake for me. Sometimes she would send him to the store to pick up something, and he never minded, because he loved to walk in the woods, and encounter his little animal friends. In one set of stories, the items that he would pick up would invariably help him fend off a “bad chap” who would try to nibble his ears.

His young animal friends included Sammy and Susie Littletail, the rabbit children; Johnny and Billy Bushytail, the squirrel boys; and Alice, Lulu, and Emma Wibblewobble, the duck girls. There were many more. Uncle Wiggily had an adult friend, Goosie Gander, and he also visited Doctor Possum, when he had a touch of rheumatism. Actually, Uncle Wiggily, in a slightly out of character action, appropriated a red white and blue barber pole from a barber shop, and used it for a crutch if his rheumatism was bothering him. I guess the barber did not mind.

Now, there were bad chaps, as Garis called them, who would try to capture him and nibble his ears, which is all they ever threatened to do. But they never managed to. These animals were amusing, particularly as they were drawn by various artists in the books, I guess the most famous of these being Lansing Campbell. There were the Fuzzy Fox, the Woozy Wolf, and my favorite, the Skillery Scallery Alligator. There was also a bobcat. And then the Pipsewah, who was drawn as a somewhat unpleasant looking animal resembling a rhinoceros on two legs, and the Skeezix, who looked like a thin bird with a beak.

In one of the books, there was a Tiddlewink, who lived in the lake, and who mostly complained about things. He would come over to where Uncle Wiggily and his friends were roasting peanuts, and complain that he would rather have lemonade, but would try to take the peanuts, anyway, and they would burn his mouth, and he had to run to the lake to jump in and cool off.

A typical Uncle Wiggily story would have him going off for a walk, by himself, or with one of his young animal friends, and encountering a very small animal or insect who needed a little help, being stuck in a hole, or some leaves. He would extricate them, and they were always appreciative, and promise to return the favor if ever necessary. And sometimes Sammy Littletail would be dubious, saying, “how could a lightning bug possibly help you, Uncle Wiggily?” And the kindly rabbit gentleman would say, “Do not be so sure, Sammy,” and then the bug or little animal did help, as when the lightning bug and his fellows were able to light up the dark woods when they were flying on their airship, so that they could find their way home.

That was the very mild theme of some of the stories. Most of them really did not have a theme, they did not preach or try to instill lessons in the children who read them, except for the importance of being kind and thoughtful. And then very often, there would be a rustling in the bushes, and ALL OF A SUDDEN, out would jump the fox or the wolf or the alligator! And Uncle Wiggily would thwart them, and off they would go. My mother thought that the “all of a sudden” could be upsetting, but it was my favorite part of the stories!

And at the end of each story, Garis would write something like, “And now, if the rolling pin does not fall into the washing machine and roll up all the clothes, I will next tell you about Uncle Wiggily and the tree frog.” So you could look forward to the next one.

There were so many books. “Uncle Wiggily’s Adventures.” “Uncle Wiggily’s Travels.’ “Uncle Wiggily and his Airship.” (He actually had one made, and he would fly in it). “Uncle Wiggily in the Country.” (That is where he landed when he and Sammy Littletail were taking a ride in the airship, but the wind blew them far, and they had to land next to a lake, where they settled in for a while, had adventures, met a circus elephant who had run away from the circus, and encountered the Tiddlewink).

“Uncle Wiggily on the Farm.” “Uncle Wiggily’s Automobile” (He had that put together with some additions, such as the steering wheel being made of lettuce, the tires made of bologna, so that if he were ever driving along, he could stop and take a nibble of the car). “Uncle Wiggily’s Fortune.” (He went off to search for his fortune, did not find it, but had nice adventures; and when he got home, he found that the other animals had planted a large vegetable garden for him, so that he had indeed found a fortune). “Uncle Wiggily’s Story Book.” “Uncle Wiggily’s Happy Days.”

You can see what an impression the stories made on me, as I wrote all of this from memory. One time, my parents got me four new Uncle Wiggily books, and I stretched out on the rug and started reading them. I read quickly, but I could always read them again.

Very occasionally, I look on Amazon to see what Uncle Wiggily books there may be. Many of them have been reprinted in paperback. It is always touching to see when an adult writes that they loved the stories as a young boy or girl, and that now they read them to their child or grandchild, who loves them.

I was going to write about some of my other childhood favorites, the Burgess novels, the Oz stories and of course Winnie-the-Pooh, but this post would be too long, so perhaps another time.

“The Bachelor” Controversy

I don’t know very much about the TV show “The Bachelor,” or its various spinoffs, except that it has obviously been a very successful franchise. And I don’t know this story in great detail, but enough of it to bring it up, because of the issues it presents. So if you know more about it than I do, feel free to add.

Chris Harrison has been the host of “The Bachelor” for 19 years, and has also hosted most off the spinoffs. By all accounts, he has been a professional and likeable host, quite popular.

Recently, The Bachelor had its first Black bachelor. He ended up choosing his favorite of the contestants. She is a White woman from the South. Apparently they broke up before the series was shown, but then got back together. I do know that in most instances, this is what happens with the people on the show, very few of them actually stay together, it is more of an over-intense, speeded-up process, manufactured for audiences.

The woman chosen, had some pictures of her surface, where she had attended what they call an “antebellum ball,” where people dress up in the costumes of that Scarlett O’Hara period. Scarlett was fictional, of course, but “Gone With the Wind” was one of the most popular movies of all time, until a recent related controversy about it caused MGM to append a warning label to it. Harrison stood up for her, and tried to defend her, saying that this was a few years ago that she attended the party, and that the sensitivity about these things had changed.

Somehow this then made him the focus, and people called for him to be fired. He was taken off the shows, and wanted to return; but after a year or so, he has just accepted an eight-figure settlement which will stipulate that he will never return to any Bachelor show or spinoff.

We are all entitled to our views on such things. My view is that for Harrison to be removed as host of these shows, is an example of a new kind of McCarthyism. Now, I am of course aware that the Far Right keeps using the term “cancel culture” as a weapon, and I do not want to take their side on any general matter. But I also do not like censorship, and the attempts over the decades to get rid of people because they said or did something that others might not like.

It is certainly not that Harrison defended slavery! Or even that he came out in favor of antebellum balls. He just tried to stand up for his contestant, and say that he thought she was being judged too harshly. The bachelor on the show didn’t seem to think that the woman was a racist, he picked her; and by accounts, they are still a couple. But we have a certain segment of the public putting pressure on the network; and the network, very much wanting to preserve their ratings, giving in.

This is of course what happened in the McCarthy era, when all sorts of people lost their jobs because they had maybe attended one or two Communist Party meetings in the 1930’s. Or even just that some scurrilous magazine such as “Red Channels” named them. Or that one of the targets of those groups mentioned them, in order to save themselves. Or–and this was at the crux of a lot of it–the person had written or acted in anti-business, pro-labor themed films or plays, or had been active in liberal politics.

They put pressure on the networks, which almost always caved in, out of a concern for their bottom line, or to show their own patriotism. And so careers and lives were ruined. A couple of stories about the blacklists wihich were memorable to me, were the movie “The Front,’ the recent mostly ignored movie “Trumbo,’ and the novel “The Troubled Air” by Irwin Shaw. They all evoke the paranoia and casual cruelty of the times.

One should never ignore that much of the HUAC hearings and the McCarthy performances were about people craving attention and power. Nixon rode to power on that history, as did others. And I think that what is going on now, with shows and people being taken off the air because they made a comment, or went to a party dressed as an antebellum Southern lady, or defended someone going to such an event, or had a scene or even a story from antebellum times, is not dissimilar.

I do understand that it is exciting to wield power, to be able to get people fired, or put under immense pressure, and forced to abjectly apologize. I think I noted that a female actor did something like this the other day, apologize for dressing for some antebellum-themed event some years ago. It is not going to stop, and one wonders how strict the boundaries are going to be made.

And I always note that this is really the same kind of thing that “The Right” has done for centuries, trying to ban books and plays or being “immoral,” or questioning the government or leading citizens. “The Left,” or liberals, always fought against that. How different is this now? I know that some would say that it is much different, but is it?

Somehow, there has to be a sense of moderation about these things. Blatantly racist remarks cannot be acceptable. But is going to an antebellum ball as a very young woman, comparable to that? Regency England of the early 1800’s was a society of great cultural unfairness, and mistreatment of various peoples. But they have Regency Balls. I would say that there was a great deal of racism in the 1920’s in America, but there are ’20’s-themed parties. Is it a matter of degree? Maybe, but who makes that determination? It is not the public a large, it is usually those who create the biggest backlash, and force the networks to cave in, to show their virtuousness.

I don’t know any of these people; I may have seen one episode of the Bachelor or Bachelorette. So in one sense, I do not care what happens to the shows. But I feel bad for Chris Harrison, even though he apparently got over $10 million as recompense, minus attorney’s fees.

It is not just about money, though. And I do not like the fact that in the efforts to combat prejudice, we seem to be going overboard in trying to hold some people to standards of cultural behavior of the sort which were used as rationales to send people to the Tower or the stake in earlier eras. If the bachelor starring on the show could see past dressing up for a ball, and still be together with the woman in question, why does the longtime host of 19 years get forced out for trying to defend her in a fair-minded way? The ultimate effect is of course going to be that more people are so very careful about anything they say or do or write, which is bad for art, at the least. So we have not come very far at all, perhaps?

And one more thing. It is very possibly not for me to say, because I am not Black. But when there are tens of millions of people who watch “The Bachelor” franchise, and they realize that Harrison is permanently gone from the shows; and they learn it is because he stood up for one of his contestants who went to an antebellum ball, is this going to cause a reaction which will not help the greater cause, which includes the desperate need to protect the vote, and win the next elections? Were holding signs saying “Defund the Police” helpful? Do you want to win small battles, only to potentially lose the war? Of course these battles are waged by a relatively small group of activist people who might possibly not look at it that way.

You Have to Play the Cards You Hold

Senator Joe Manchin just wrote an op-ed stating that he will not support H.R.1, the For the People Act. He also will not vote to remove the filibuster, which makes the first part redundant, but he does not seem to understand that. Anyway, it is good that he makes things very clear, so no one will be deluded as to what will happen to H.R.1.

This has caused a doom session on much of the social media. I understand it, and did a lot earlier than this. The doom scenario goes in this fashion: Republicans’ voter suppression bills keep passing. H.R.1, which would stop it, will not pass. The Supreme Court will not throw out such laws. Therefore, all the suppression bills have the effect of changing enough votes that the Republicans win the House and Senate. Also, even if the Democrats win a close race or two, the states have passed laws which allow their Republican-controlled legislatures to throw out those results, and declare the Republican as the winner. The Far Right Supreme Court does nothing about any of this.

Republicans control the House, and Impeach Biden and Harris. The Senate will not convict, but they will turn it into a circus, which will have the effect of lowering the popularity of Biden. They then defeat Biden in 2024, take over everything, and we have a fascist religious state where Democrats have no ability to remove Republicans from office.

There is a variation of this scenario which has Biden winning re-election in 2024, but the Republican House and Senate refusing to certify the votes, and choosing slates of electors which will give the Presidency to Trump or Hawley or DeSantis.

There is another variation which has run through my mind, which is that if Republicans take over the House, Biden and Harris are both assassinated, making Kevin McCarthy the President. There are other variations which have Republican militia roaming through the country and assassinating every Democratic leader they can find. Others have the Republicans declaring martial law, and suspending/eliminating forever, all rights of free speech and assembly.

None of these is completely implausible, given the ferocious and unrelenting attack on democracy engaged in by Republicans for the last fifty years, and now culminating in Trump and the QAnon cult. And Nazi Germany provides the prologue and analogue to it.

So there are many people saying that this is the end, that we are doomed, that there is no hope. Some of them are undoubtedly Russian-paid accounts which are trying to make everyone give up or at least not vote. Some are Right-wing Republicans having their idea of fun. Some are Far Left types who love to say that both parties are the same, they are all corrupt, no one can do anything. And then there are some very idealistic and well-meaning people who are understandably very upset and scared, and are not getting any encouragement from the writers of these pieces, as to what to do.

I think that those who write such doom scenario pieces should end them with some positive suggestions and rallying cries, for otherwise they are just indulging themselves by trying to make everyone as upset as they are

Oh yes, this is indeed a dire situation, but it is not inextricable. Voters and political officials should have felt this sense of urgency years ago, as in 2000, or 2008, or 2016. None of it was not predictable. You have a party made up of people who want only winning, and power and control, in an endless loop. And so they will do anything they can to achieve it. What has the political story of the last 50 years been, but that? There have been some window dressings, and some plausible spokespeople for evil, but you can always see the mask beneath, and the people pulling the strings. So we have now arrived here.

There were so many missed chances, and so many times when our side made the absolute wrong choices, by being too timid, or being too intimidated by the corporate Right-wing mainstream media, or being so arrogant and rigidly doctrinaire, as to refuse to vote for the immensely better candidate, and either not vote, or vote for someone who cannot win, but appeals to wishful fantasies. Republicans are behind most of this, it is another of the techniques of soulless totalitarians. But we are not obliged to fall for it; yet enough do, and have, or we would not be in this position now.

But we cannot afford to mire ourselves in the mulling over of what went wrong, what abysmally stupid mistakes and indulgences were made. Sports coaches may not be ideal in various ways, but the best ones are smart enough to know that you have to play the situation you’ve got, in any game or season. Revisiting the losses or the blown leads, or the fumbles or dropped fly balls, does you no good.

Poker players know this, too. Of course you recapitulate your mistakes and beat yourself up over them. And you try to actually learn from them and do better. But for this game, the one you are in, where all your money is sitting on the table, you can only survive if you put that behind you and concentrate on where you are, like in those maps at the malls: You Are Here. You might wish you were There, or that you had not gotten to that point in the first place, but here you are, and now you have to read the maze, and take whatever steps you can to get to the desired end point;. Or in poker or a sports game, you have to figure out how to turn things around, no matter how bad it may look.

Of course, the limits of the metaphor are that some sports games are simply irreversibly lost, as when you are behind 35-0 with five minutes to go. And there are chess matches which you simply cannot win, and so you concede, and start another game. But in our case, there is no other game, and we cannot concede. Of course, a person could move to another country, but that is not feasible for most; and as was learned in the 1930’s, you can’t escape by going somewhere else, the evil will come after you. So you have to fight. Churchill knew that. Chamberlain and Lord Halifax, and the anti-involvement neutrals in America, did not.

So here we are, and we know what the dangers are. Many of us did; some people are finally getting to that point. Would that they had figured it out in 2016, but they didn’t want to listen. And they bear much responsibility for it, but we need their help now, too.

So we (and “we” variously means, Democratic leaders, voters, citizens, all or any of these in a given situation) must figure out our next moves. It is almost certain that H.R. 1 will not pass, if Manchin will not vote for it. And we need fifty senators to vote to overturn the filibuster rules. Angus King, a smart and decent man, Independent Senator from Maine, said that he will vote to change the rule, but Manchin and Sinema will not.

Actually, had Cal Cunningham of North Carolina not been indulging himself with another woman, we would have 51 Democratic senators. Had the people of Maine not somehow returned Susan Collins to office, we would have 52. But we have 50, and among that fifty, are two senators, Manchin and Sinema, who are not loyal Democrats. We can’t get rid of Manchin, he would only be replaced by a Right-wing Republican. We could try to primary Sinema, but she is not up until 2024, and it is unlikely that a liberal would win a general election there. It is more likely that Mark Kelly will lose in 2022, given the terrible voting laws that Arizona is passing. So venting against Manchin and Sinema is warranted, but probably ineffectual and thus counterproductive.

So what do we do? Here are some options. Most may not work, but at least they are options, better than just sinking into the Slough of Despond.

Bring up another version of the Voting Rights Act? Probably not worth it; Republicans would delay, and then filibuster it in the Senate again. There is no version which would somehow get ten Republican votes.

Undertake the most massive voter organizing campaign in American history. Authorize as much money as possible toward it. Try to get the help of very deep pockets like Bill Gates, and his former wife, Melinda, and Laurene Jobs. It becomes an all-or-nothing play, and anyone who can be made to see what is at risk, should be willing to contribute. Supporting the right to vote should not be a partisan issue, after all.

The vote suppressors cannot completely cut off the right to vote, so the barriers must be worked around, as much as possible. Ten hour lines; bring your own water; vote in person in states where you are worried that they will try to remove your vote by signature questioning.

We still control the Department of Justice, although Biden keeps wanting to point out that it is independent. AG Garland surely does stand for voter rights, and he must employ DOJ to make sure that voters are not intimidated, and that state officials cannot interfere with ballots, or employ partisans to count the votes. What form this all will take is not certain, but it is obvious that where we have power, it must be used; because if it is not, we simply cede the result to the Republicans.

Many lawsuits. We will win some of them in the lower courts, we did last time. The Supreme Court will never rule on our side in an important case, but they may decide not to hear some of them, and let the lower court rulings stand. And in any case where that happens, DOJ MUST enforce that decision, because otherwise Republicans will just ignore it.

Use your pocketbook and wallet. We have to do some targeted boycotts of companies which do substantial business in vote-suppressing states. Corporations love to say convenient things, but not do anything meaningful. They only respond to a threat to their bottom line. Also, they might realize what will happen to it if Republicans take over. Millions of citizens deciding not to participate in the economy, who stop buying all but necessary items, would threaten to ruin them. Republicans cannot force Democrats to participate, short of confiscating all of their property and savings, which would probably be too far for even them, given that at least some of the confiscated people have weapons.

Work stoppages. This is only for if we lose all the other steps. And they might not work, but Republicans cannot force people to work. They can try to starve them, they can shoot them, but they cannot force them to work. The entire trickle down economy depends on tens of millions of people trudging back and forth to work, and putting in their 8-10 hours. What if they refuse to do so? Food banks can be set up. If Biden still holds office, he can put out orders to try to help. Republicans can try to stop it, but again, they cannot force alienated people who are robbed of their rights, to work.

Other suggestions? We need them. Play the hand you hold; you do not get to toss all your cards in and get another one. The touchdowns that you have given up are not going off the board, we have to find ways to get some of our own, and to stop their team from running over us. Sports and gambling do provide good analogies, even if much of the time, the losing side cannot turn things around. But sometimes they do.

And it is not like we have no weapons; we hold the Presidency, and all the Cabinet, including DOJ; we have the House; and we at least hold the Senate nominally so that we can bring bills to the floor. It’s not enough, as we see, but we have to have our smartest people trying to strategize in a pragmatic and effective way, not throw up our hands and walk off the field. And do not forget that President Biden is appointing new lower court judges, and I would expect for almost all of them to get through. One reason why we want to keep at least the nominal Senate control.

The rest of it is going to depend upon the citizenry’s capacity to focus on the important things; stop fantasizing about presently unattainable goals; stop being divided by ethnicity, or focusing on that to the exclusion of realizing that if Republicans take over, we all lose big. Come up with feasible ideas, try to make them work. The game is not over. We didn’t even think we would have 50 Senate seats after the November results. So if we are now saying that it is over, what was it then?

Play the cards you have been currently dealt, the best you can. That’s really all that Republicans have done in the last half-century. Yes, they cheat and bludgeon and play ruthlessly. But they are the opponent in the game, and like any good player or sports team, we have to meet them head-on, and outplay them. If it is indeed too late, I would point to, 1) Gore being cheated in 2000, and he and leading Democrats just conceding. 2) Obama being pushed and gamed into the nomination instead of Hillary in 2008, thus ultimately costing us control of both Houses, and almost all of the state legislatures, where Republicans remain like malevolent zombies. 3) Sanders and various Left wing people deciding that Hillary was the enemy, and refusing to support or even vote for her. Horrible, dreadful, and in many cases, arrogant and willful mistakes. But they were made; and they are either going to make the history of how we lost the democracy, or we are going to overcome them, even though it is so much harder now than it would have been.