The Goal of Grass, and the Fate of Humanity

This is not a very happy piece. But I’m writing it anyway because … well, not every aspect of the real world IS happy. And this is one aspect that, in my opinion, requires some very careful thought by a lot of people willing to face a certain amount of grim reality in order to respond in a way that prevents or slows it. 


Did you know grass has a goal?

It’s hard to think of a brainless thing like grass having a goal, but it does. Its goal is the goal of every living thing – to live, to survive, to keep on keeping on. One of the necessary subgoals of that is to produce more offspring than needed for replacement.

Grass is good at that. If the goal was mere replacement, for every grass plant that died, only one seed would be needed, right? In a perfect environment, that is, each plant would produce a single seed, and that would be that.

But one seed is nowhere near enough, because a LOT of things can happen to prevent one seed from germinating and growing into another grass plant. Insects, birds, weather, bad soil, no soil, no water, being crushed by herbivore hooves, too much sun – all sorts of things can come between the replication of that parent plant from a single seed. So each grass plant has to produce dozens, hundreds of seeds. Each seed that germinates will grow into a plant that does the exact same thing.

Where does it stop? When does grass stop reproducing and spreading? Never. It never stops. The goal of grass is to cover the entire surface of the earth with grass. Given no grass-eating mammals, no insects or seed-eating birds, no opposition for resources from other plants, every land mass on earth would be covered with grass.

You will understand at once that it’s a ridiculous idea. Every person reading this can come up with objections as to why it could never happen that grass, and grass alone, could cover the earth. For instance, the sand at the shore of every sea is too salty for grass to cover. There’s not enough water in the deserts. If we had a world with no animals or insects, there would be no carbon dioxide for the plants to use. Not to mention the atmosphere would eventually fill up with poisonous concentrations of oxygen. And of course there are a helluva lot of other plants competing for the same resources.

But that doesn’t change the underlying goal of grass. For some of us, just because you can’t eat all the chocolate ice cream in the world doesn’t stop you from WANTING to. And grass, conscious of none of the surrounding conditions – inescapably destined by evolution — has no choice but to carry out its programming, to grow, grow, and keep on growing … until it is stopped by some OUTSIDE force.


It seems to me human reason operates like a seesaw with human emotion. More emotion, less reason. More reason, less emotion. I even made up a saying about it, some years back:

Under the lash of strong emotion, human beings become less intelligent.

 I think the evidence will bear me out. You get people angry or afraid, they’re less able to evaluate a situation and make rational decisions regarding it. It’s why the prime crowd-control tool of rabble-rousers and dictators – and Donald Trump – is intense emotion. “They hate us. They’re going to kill us all. That’s why we have to attack now!” “We have to support the troops! They keep us safe!” “The libtards want to let these illegal aliens come in and rape our women, turn our kids into drug addicts!”

Fear, anger, hate … but also love. People fall head-over-heels for partners everybody around them can see will be a complete disaster. But they, their reasoning brains overcome with emotion, carry on anyway. “I know he sells drugs and kills people, but I love him!”

I think of humans as having two general sorts of mind-traits. There are what I call our “beasty” traits (not beastLY, but beast-Y), and then there are our humany traits.

Beasty traits are pretty much all of our emotions and desires, the mental assets we share with the critters around us. Anger and fear, for instance, can be observed in dogs, horses, even crows. Curiosity, the desire to explore and learn – if for no other reason than to identify potential dangers (but also to discover new food sources) – shows up pretty much everywhere in the animal kingdom. The urge for mothering, for taking care of offspring, is something even crocodiles have.

Humany traits are things like reason, artistic creativity, inventiveness. I don’t mean to say they’re totally exclusive, that no other animal possesses such attributes, but these are some things humans can do that very few other species can. And they’re the defining characteristics of our immense success.

We like to think of ourselves as humany humans, but … mostly, we’re not. We’re beasty humans. In my day job, I work with the drug using population, a lot of them out of New York City, and some of them are such bundles of irresistible, irrational drives they seem barely human.  (And if you think that’s unfair and uncompassionate, you haven’t met these people. Some of them are uncanny-valley, inhumanly SCARY. And the ones I interact with have already gone through an extensive screening process that weeds out the worst of the worst.)

“Beasty” and “humany” applies not only to mind traits, of course. Most of our physical makeup is also beasty. You think of your elbow as a human elbow, but it’s an evolutionary hand-me-down so common it’s shared by bears and raccoons. The deepest and most critical parts of our brains, however humany we want to think brains are, are beasty. And this is where all our emotions and drives originate.

So the thing is, our beasty mind-traits are PRIMAL. They are basic and insistent in a way that takes considerable effort to overcome. When you stand on a tower ready to slide down a 100-foot high zipline, you might know intellectually that the thing is safe, but the gut-fear that urges you NOT to do this thing is almost irresistible. Your rational, evaluative mind can see the thick steel cable, the strong metal hardware that holds it together, the obviously safe military-grade strapping of your harness, but letting go and zooming out along that line is still something most of us can do only with great effort.

This “great effort” is an important detail of the discussion underway. All of us have these emotions and drives that arise from the deepest parts of our brains, not all of us have the higher-brain ability to resist them. Or if we do, it takes serious effort.

Witness the obesity epidemic in America. Too many of us have this powerful beasty drive to eat and eat and eat, sweet and salty and greasy, and never stop eating. Too few of us have the humany higher intellectual capacity to resist – at least enough to keep our weight in line. And some of us – Jesus! – have no resistance at all.

We’re like dogs left alone with a 20-pound Christmas turkey. Twenty minutes later, the family would find a turkey skeleton and a VERY uncomfortable dog. There’s no thought involved in the scenario, there’s just driving, perfectly-natural, beasty APPETITE.

So: Beasty emotions and drives – Easy. Humany self-restraint – Hard.

Man and Grass

Bear in mind that this beasty-easy/humany-hard divide applies not simply to individuals, but to the statistical field of humans as a whole. Worldwide, we’re damned good at fucking and fighting, damned poor at going to college and getting higher educations, damned poor at THINKING RATIONALLY about anything.

We actually have to hire and train people – cops and soldiers, but also priests, coaches, etc. – to keep us from leaping at each other’s unprotected backs.

Colleges, on the other hand, are open to everyone. Any pro-college people we hire work to get us INTO the experience of college rather than keep us out of it.

The point is, our beasty drives are present in full force in pretty much every human alive. But our humany traits take work to develop and use, and are, as a result, comparatively scarce.

Worldwide, and in humans as a whole.

The goal of grass, to put it in Saturday morning cartoon terms, is to NYAH-AH-AH!! RULE THE WORLD!! To cover the earth. It is a goal programmed in by evolution, due to the fact that all strains of grass that followed a circumspect one-seed policy no longer exist. Only the ones who learned to avidly advance and keep advancing survived the fierce competition of nature’s predators and devourers, and all other destructive counter-forces, whatever they might be.

But RULE THE WORLD is also the goal of humans. To grow, to reproduce, to increase in numbers, to spread out, to explore and conquer and make safe all the places in the world where humans can possibly exist. It’s why there are houses and lawns and roads every place in North America, where once were vast tracts of wildlife-rich wilderness. It’s why we have to make a special effort via national parks and designated wilderness areas to have anything approaching “wild” left in America. It’s why there are 7.5 billion humans on planet Earth today, where there were slightly more than 3 billion when I was born.

And here’s the thing. Resisting that urge “to grow, to reproduce, to increase in numbers, to spread out, to explore and conquer and make safe all the places in the world where humans can possibly exist” takes a special CONSCIOUS, DELIBERATE AND SUSTAINED effort. Not just of one person or a thousand people, but pretty much every single person on the planet.

And here’s the other thing: We can’t do it. We can be beasty and reproduce because it takes no thought at all. By our own natures, we are urged to do it.

But we can’t be conscious and deliberate over the long term to control our basic urges because it takes immense sustained effort … and we’re just not up to it. The evolutionary cards are stacked against that result.

Brainless grass never gets to rule the world because there are plenty of counter-balancing forces that stop it. But brainy humans … there’s not a lot to stop us.

Because of our relatively high intelligence here on planet Earth, we are succeeding at ruling the world. Because of the limits of our intelligence in comparison to our basic drives, we are failing to notice that we are killing the planet under us.

And again, there’s not a lot to stop us.

The point of this entire essay is a grim one: We’re using up the Earth and we can’t stop ourselves.

We’re not smart enough to stop ourselves.

We have basic drives that are more powerful than our intellects, and those drives are EASY, whereas dispassionate reason is HARD.  

Of course, some of us will complacently insist, there are natural forces – disease, resource depletion, etc. – that can stop us. This human over-growing of the world’s resources will all come to an end someday.

My lament in the face of that assertion is that even if those forces leave alive some few of us, it will be the beasty humans – ready to fight and fuck and consume – and not the humany ones.

The ones I care about, the ones who stand a chance of creating a sustainable human future, will either all die or survive as an attenuated, powerless minority.

Earth will be filled again with beasts and beasties rather than reasoning, intelligent humans. And it will start all over again.

Oval Office Voice Recording: July 31, 2017, 1:15 p.m.

“Anthony! Tony. Can I call you Tony?”
“Of course, Mr. President. Can I call you Donnie?”
“Ah. Okay.”
“Tony, we need to talk. Come on in. Sit down.”
“That’ll be all, Rosie. Close the door on your way out, and make sure we’re not disturbed.”
“So, Tony. It’s been a busy … what, five, six days?”
“Ten days, D – Mr. President.”
“Ten days! Ten days. Wow. A busy ten days. Busy. Wow.”
“Yes sir.”
“We haven’t had a real chance to talk, man to man. I guess it’s time we got certain things out of the way. Right? Right.”
“Things? Wait, why are you undoing your belt?”
“Don’t worry about it, Tony. It’s just something I expect all my hires to do. You know, here in the White House, I’m under a lot of pressure. I don’t always have the chance to get away, you know what I’m saying? And a man has needs.”
“Needs, Tony. And right now I need you to show me what you can do for me. Demonstrate your loyalty, you get me? Wow, loyalty. Loyalty is a necessary thing. It’s the best thing. It’s the only thing.”
“Wait, I’m not … I mean, you can’t be serious.”
“Needs, Tony. And after all, you were the one who brought it up, talking about Steve Bannon. And I’ll bet you were right. Steve probably does suck his own. But the President of the United States has people. People who do things for him. I like to think you’re one of those people, Tony. One of my loyal people.”
“Sure I’m loyal. I’d defend you to the death. But this … I wasn’t expecting this.”
“So when the President of the United States says to you, Tony — says Tony, I need you to do this thing for me, are you gonna be loyal, Tony? Are you gonna be loyal to the President of the United States, who hired you? Tony? Are you?”
“Well, like I say, I’d defend you to the death, Mr. President. But, you know, this is not something a man should have to do. I mean, I have a wife.”
“No you don’t. She left you, Tony. Filed for divorce, the cunt. She’s a cunt, isn’t she, Tony? Tell me she’s a cunt.”
“She’s a cunt.”
“What a cunt. What a cunt. I should know. I know about cunts. And now you’re alone. Nowhere to go. But you have this job, Tony. It’s the best job. The only job.”
“Well … yes. Sir.”
“So, Tony, you want to keep this great job. Great. I know you do. Great job.”
“I want to keep the job. And I think I can do it. Better than those other limp-dick weasels. Well, Sarah doesn’t have a limp dick, but she’s a weasel.”
“She’s a cunt, Tony. They’re all cunts. But it doesn’t matter, Tony. What matters is, your President is asking for your loyalty. Asking you to show your loyalty. Really show it. Show it like a 16-year-old beauty pageant contestant just before the final three. Wow. Like that.”
“Sir, I … I don’t …”
“You know I fire people, Tony? I have no problem firing people. I had a whole TV show about firing people. And I fired them. I fired them all. Bigly.”
“Sir …”
“So I could say, Tony, you’re fired. You get where I’m coming from? You’re fired. I could say it. I could say it and sleep well tonight. It would be a good fire, the only fire. You’re fired. You want to hear me say you’re fired?”
“No sir. It’s just … you know, I never did anything like this before.”
“I’ve never been President of the United States before, Tony. But I am now. Tell me, Tony, do you think when General George Washington asked Mahatma Gandhi for this favor, that Gandhi said no? Dooming the American experiment almost before it started? No, he took off his war bonnet, Gandhi did – he was an Indian, did you know that? One of the greatest Indians. Wow. – He took off his war bonnet and he said yes, Mr. President, I will do this thing you ask.”
“Sir, I don’t think Gandhi was alive when Washington was …”
“Tony, I know my American history. I know American history better than anybody. It’s a good history, the best history. But you’re missing the point. I need some loyalty here. And I need a quick BJ from somebody, or somebody gets fired today. Right now. You’re fired. I could say it so easy. I could say you’re fired. Plenty more people out there. Loyal people. The best people.”
“Sir, I’m not …”
“That’s it. You’re fired. You’re fired. There, I said it. You’re fired, Tony. You hear that? You’re fired. Wow.”
“Rosie, we’re done here! Rosie? Get some of those Secret Service guys in here. I need to get Tony off the property. I want him out of here. Now!”
“Sir, I …”
“You’re done Tony. You’re fired. Thanks, guys. Get Tony out of here. And get that chopper back for me. It’s been a rough week. I want to play a few rounds, take the pressure off. The President is having a rough week. It’s been a good week. The best week. But rough.”

Liberals as Labelers

Ouch. Just realized a couple of disturbing things about “my” people.

I’ve been very liberal pretty much all of my life. Thinking about it right now, I don’t think you can be hypersensitive and not be liberal. You feel too much of what other people and other creatures feel to ever just casually dismiss them.

But I broke with the liberal fold a year or two back when I had a couple of disturbing discoveries forced on me:

1)  There are a certain number of liberals who are really not very nice people, (sometimes, it seems, especially to other liberals).

2)  Though I had unconsciously connected “liberal” and “rational” in my head, it turns out that’s not automatically the case. Liberal people can be crazy as shit-house rats, and mean about it besides.

Continue reading “Liberals as Labelers”

Fanboy Says Yes (!!) to Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians 2 was really, really good. It takes a while for the main conflict to show up, but the wait is worth it. This movie has a LOT of humor in it — I laughed a dozen times or more — and it’s perfectly placed within the story so that it draws nothing away from the seriousness of the main plot.

There’s some unexpectedly touching stuff involving Rocket Raccoon (and Yondu, among other characters), both midway through and at the end. Yeah, you’re gonna cry. The main theme of this movie is family, loved ones, and every character participates in developing that theme.

I could gush for a long, long time here, offering spoiler after spoiler, but … I’ll let you see the thing on your own. It’s good, believe me.

Stan Lee has TWO cameos, one an after-credits scene, and I laughed to recognize the people he was talking to — a trio of Watchers, those enigmatic high-collared baldies who exist to watch and record the events of the galaxy.

Oddly, there are a couple of Howard the Duck cameos. I can’t imagine Marvel plans to do anything more than shove him in as an occasional Easter Egg. Surely there’s not a Howard remake, right? I actually liked the silly original Howard the Duck movie, and was sorry it got such a bad rep. But it’s not worth another movie.

There are FIVE afterscenes, if I remember correctly, so you’ll want to stay through the credits.

One of the trailers before the movie is for Wonder Woman, and I’m really looking forward to that movie too.

Other Stuff:

I’ll be slightly surprised if any of my readers made the trip with me, and respond to this post. Obviously I haven’t been doing justice to the blog, and I wouldn’t blame anyone for tuning me out. Mainly, I’ve been working on that next book, BrainDrops. I’m doing a final proofing run now, but I plan to send review copies to a number of people, hoping for some good comments for the back cover or whatever. So don’t expect it before … oh, early June.

I tried something new in the atheist book genre; I hope it’s something readers will find both fun and thought-provoking.

Hello world!

Just setting up the new site. I moved all the posts from my Patheos address, but apparently the comments didn’t make the trip. I’m looking into it.

—Ah. Seems it just took a while for them to show up.

Goodbye Patheos—Hank Fox Bows Out

I’m leaving Patheos in the near future. I’m working on a book and a separate large project (Senior Adventure Quest)—not to mention my full-time JOB—and though I have no shortage of ideas for posts, I’m having real trouble finding time to devote to blogging.

Many other bloggers have made the jump to blogging as a business, and can afford to do it. If you have enough posts—several a day—and you get enough reader hits, you can actually get paid for blogging. I don’t fault them for taking that path, but I have seen the clear effect of a commercial motivation, and it’s not for me.

There is a philosophy behind atheism, something … quite different and larger than anything we’re doing now, and we really need to winkle that out and explore it rather than writing the same >>OMG Police Dept. Bumper Stickers!!<< story.

Not saying that stuff isn’t important. It’s just that there’s this OTHER stuff that needs to be thought about and covered too. That has been one of my main goals in blogging. And, for me at least, figuring that stuff out is time consuming.

Thinking about those things, mulling over ideas and teasing out new conclusions, new viewpoints, new realizations, takes hours and days and month and years, but pays literally nothing. If I’ve made twenty dollars from atheist-blogging over the 15 or so years I’ve been doing it, I’d be surprised. It’s a labor of love, sure enough, and I DO get to explore and tease at these ideas. In addition, I have really loved the reactions of readers, telling me I got them to think, that I gave them new ideas and new arguments.

But sometimes, the money really matters. So I need to pull back a bit and refocus on some of this other stuff.

(Here’s yet another of my time-consuming activities that pays literally nothing. But I love doing it, so there’s that.)

I will be transferring the entirety of my blog over to a new site — A Citizen of Earth — in the near future, and posting when the mood and the time coincide, but probably not very often.

Also, for near-future reference, the book I’m working on is called (tentatively):

BrainDrops: The One & Only Ungodly Bathroom Reader—An Astounding Compendium of Wit, Wisdom and Complete Goddam Nonsense from a Complete Goddam Atheist (for Hellbound Mockers of Every Heinous Persuasion).

In case you didn’t know about it, my first book, Red Neck, Blue Collar, Atheist: Simple Thoughts About Reason, Gods & Faith, is still up on Amazon.

—And yes, you want to buy BOTH 😉

Somewhen—end of March, early April—you’ll see BrainDrops on Amazon, and wherever else I can manage to get it distributed.

There are a couple of other books in the works, Saying Goodbye to Dad: An Atheist Deals With Death, and a so-far unnamed book on Beta Culture.

Anyway, it’s been cool, being here. Thank you to the nice folks at Patheos for giving me this chance, as Ed Brayton at Freethought Blogs gave me a podium and a microphone before them. When I get the Beta Culture book written, expect to see me out there at atheist conferences, promoting the book and the ideas in a big way.

Until then …

Keeping Up In Trumpistan

I found these Medium listicles today, and they are well worth reading, if you have the time. The point of the weekly lists is to … well, to cut through the overflow of information and to keep you from normalizing all this stuff in your head.

The hazard in the early stages of every authoritarian process is that we humans are 1) generally too busy to pay attention to all that’s happening, and 2) damned adaptable. Adaptability is normally one of our better traits, but it’s something to resist in yourself when what you’re adapting to is a steady wave of outrages you fear may grow into a defining act of horror.

Refreshingly, they don’t pretend to the staid formality of regular news. When Trump or his toadies lie, the articles use the word “lie.”

They all carry the same title:

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

… and cover events either happening or uncovered during that week.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12

I haven’t found any past Week 12, dated Feb. 4, but I’m hoping there’s at least one more out there, and that they’ll keep coming.

I’ve started talking to people, strangers out in public. I live in a fairly wealthy, fairly pro-Trump area, and I just decided I’d start saying some of the things I’m thinking in casual conversations. I generally think people will see this as tedious and inappropriate, but I’ve been surprised at how receptive people seem. They listen, at least. One has already told me he regrets his vote for Trump; several have expressed the “at least he’s not Hillary” sentiment. I argue with that last, and though I’m more interested in convincing people rather than shutting them up, the arguments have at least shut some of them up.

Here’s another article worth reading, to give you a little context about lies in media, the manufacturing of political “stories” — BY THE MEDIA — during the Iraq War.

If You Were a Leftist Teenager During the Iraq War, You Were Gaslit 24/7 by Everyone

This sort of crap is what instantly pops into my mind when I hear someone say we have a “liberal media.” I paid attention during the Iraq War, and the media had its collective lips so stuck to George W. Bush’s ass it was surreal. This was the moment when all that “Support the Troops” crap got thrown out into the public spotlight, and anyone who didn’t support the troops was a traitor.


20 Ways to Take Action: Postscripts

[ Continued from Part 2 ]

Postscript I: The Bargain

You probably never consciously think about The Bargain. And it’s written into no law I know of. But it’s there, and you sort of know it. It’s that bargain we all make with the Powers That Be.

Society around us is actually a complex web of agreements and compromises – and repercussions. For instance, part of my deal with the neighbors is that I will not start up my Harley at 2 a.m. and rev the engine. In return, they will not come out at 4 a.m. and pour a gallon of molasses on my Harley. (If I had a Harley, that is.)

This web of agreements is a big part of what keeps us from a Lord of the Flies / Mad Max situation, where every one of us is an individual survivalist with only his own interests at heart, and every neighbor is an enemy we must guard against.

But The Bargain is this other thing. It’s the deal we make not with our neighbors, but with the Powers, the Big People in our lives.

Here’s our part: We will study hard, we will work hard, we will play fair. We will obey laws, pay taxes, vote and participate with honesty and compassion. We will go peacefully about our daily lives, treating each other with kindness and respect. We will not take anything we don’t deserve. We will do our small part to make the world work.

Here’s their part: They will treat us fairly, tell us the truth, deal with us in good faith. They will help us in certain ways when we really need it. They will hold back the darkness, keeping us safe from the two-legged animals who don’t observe social bargains. They will sell us products that work, and that last, and that give good value for what we pay for them. They will allow us to prosper, to raise families and make for ourselves a place in the world.

Okay, how well are some of them keeping their side of it? Let’s see:

The Catholic Church broke the bargain when it allowed generations of children to be molested.

Cops and courts and legislators broke the bargain when they endeavored to make harmless things illegal, deadly things perfectly acceptable, and the court system itself a playground for the rich, a gauntlet of fear and difficulty for the poor.

The government broke the bargain when it began to treat us all like potential terrorists, and paid off banks after they almost destroyed the economy. It broke it when it worked to convince us our best chance of getting ahead was a lottery, rather than saving and investing.

The military broke the bargain when it sent young men and women off to die protecting corporate interests rather than our freedom and safety.

Corporate CEOs broke the bargain when they began to accept hundreds of millions in annual salary, but paid their workers minimum wage. When they decided fair competition was less lucrative than lobbying Congress for sweetheart deals.

Corporations themselves broke the bargain when they began to meddle in government, lobbying for favorable treatment at the expense of voters and citizens and the environment. Corporations and rich people further broke the bargain when they stopped paying taxes.

Product designers and marketers broke the bargain when they designed products to fail, or sold us shiny garbage, or persuaded us to eat food that makes us fat and sick.

The news media broke the bargain when it began to lie and manipulate and propagandize us, leaving us defenseless against all those others. When they lazily defaulted on digging into the hard stories, instead tossing out the easy, titillating stories, the ones that provoke outrage and fear and weepy sympathy.

If YOU break The Bargain, there are consequences. They can send you to jail, or prison. They can humiliate you in public in a way that never heals. They can kill you.

But here’s the thing: If The Bargain is broken by THEM …

Why should you continue to act as if it’s still in force?

Postscript II: Freedom of Truth

When it comes to Freedom of Speech – MY FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS!!! – we’re all over that like a chicken on a June bug. Yes, yes, yes, you have the RIGHT to speak up. To write. To protest. To tattoo the shit out of yourself, and to walk around with the ugly crack of your ass showing.

But there’s another freedom – sort of the counterpoint to freedom of speech – that never made it into the Constitution. It never occurred to the founders to include it because they were educated men, dealing with educated men. They were self-reliant, and assumed others would look out for themselves in the same way.

But the freedom is this: The freedom not to be lied to. The Freedom of Truth.

If I tell you a lie, that’s one thing. It’s wrong, and we know it, but it affects you and I and very few other people. That lie, assuming it doesn’t violate other legal rights and responsibilities, falls within the freedom of speech.

But if the GOP tells you a lie, or FOX News tells you a lie, or Exxon-Mobil tells you a lie, that’s something else. It affects millions, possibly billions, of people. It parasitizes and manipulates them – disrupting their very understanding of reality – in favor of that small group of people who stand to profit.

And it does it, usually, via the publicly-owned broadcast spectrum. So the government essentially stands by and allows it.

You think they should have the exact same Freedom of Speech you and I have, except amplified a billion times by publicly-owned media?

If your freedom of speech includes the right to lie to one or a dozen people, but THEIR freedom of speech includes the right to lie to and manipulate 300 million of us, does that make any sort of sense?


If you ever have any doubts about this, ask yourself: “Do I have a RIGHT to know what’s true and what’s not? Do I have a RIGHT to know what’s going on?”

Answer yourself, “You’re goddam right I do.”

“Do they have a right to lie to me? To keep me in the dark, believing lies and propaganda?”

“You’re goddam right they don’t. And I’m tired of this shit.”

Postscript III: Hillary Rodham Clinton

She should have been our next president.

She was brought down by the media, by that asshole in the FBI, by the lies of the right, by decades of the most vicious attacks. Allegedly, believably, she was brought down by Russian interference in our American election. She was also brought down by us.

She tried hard. She worked her ass off. She cared. And half of America shit on her. Most of us have no idea of the emotional toll something like this has on a person. But here:

Imagine you work for a company that has a big plum position coming open, and you have your heart set on winning that position. Imagine you spend two years working with that one goal in mind. Not just for the money, or the power, but because you know you can do the job better than anybody. You learn the things you need to learn, and you learn them better than anyone before you, ever. You do the things you need to do, and you do them fantastically well. All your performance evaluations are aces, your employer is incredibly impressed with you, all the people in your department respect and admire you, all the people in the industry are looking forward to working with you. But also, your company benefits like never before, climbing to the top of the entire industry.

You spend TWO YEARS caring and hoping and sweating to get that position, and everybody around you agrees you’re a shoo-in.

Okay, now imagine that three weeks before the final decision, your company is bought out by a billionaire. On the big day, the new owner announces his nephew, just out of business school, never held a job in his life, is taking over that position.

Take a second and think about how you felt when your dad died, your grandmother died, your dog died. The emotional impact of losing that position, or this election, is damned near the same. When you think about it, it might even be worse – because this was not some accidental death, it was something of a murder, and the killers are walking around out there smirking and laughing, high-fiving each other and smoking Cuban cigars.

When someone loses something they love, you don’t get in their face and tell them this is all their fault. You don’t get all grabby and selfish and demand they do something to make YOU feel better. You reach out to give THEM comfort.

Hillary is strong as hell. But she’s also human. You can’t care about something like this, really care, and just walk away when it gets snatched out of your hands at the last second, and in such an ugly way. She deserves something better in this moment than being shoved to the side and forgotten.

Send her a card. Write her a letter. Tell her how much you value her effort. Thank her for all her work, and for trying. She’s one of us, and she deserves at least this much.

Hillary Clinton
Post Office Box 5256
New York, NY 10185-5256

Office of Hillary Rodham Clinton
120 West 45th Street, Suite 2700
New York, NY 10036

Postscript IV: Useful Links

Trump Resistance Reference Guide

And yes, this stuff is being used on you, against you, every damned day:

Logical Fallacies

Logical Fallacies Handlist

Propaganda Techniques

Propaganda Techniques

Advertising Techniques

Persuasive Techniques


20 Ways to Take Action in Trump-America — Part 2

[ Continued from Part 1 ]

11. Be the Better You: Recognize your strengths

Recognize your own huge strengths.

Look, you’re one of the most intelligent, most creative, most powerful and dangerous animals on this planet. Act like it!

You and the people you choose to work with can come up with ideas and goals, you can work to make them happen. You can come up with crazy guerilla actions that spark the minds and hearts of every person in America. You can RESIST.

Trump wants to build a wall? What if you built a wall around Trump’s hotels – a wall of garbage, a graffiti wall, a wall of soiled diapers, a wall of noisy protestors? What if you made it so nobody wanted to stay there?

What if you organized a demonstration out front of his hotel, with everybody carrying signs that say

>>> Поздравляю, товарищ Трампа! <<<
(Congratulations, Comrade Trump!)

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re better educated than the average conservative. (Not because my writing is so wonderfully highbrow, but because you’re, you know, READING.)

But you also probably suffer from the sort of thoughtfulness that makes you less practical, more apt to be distracted, while they’re busy taking action.

You have to be the better you, the stronger you, that you can be. Part of that is that you have to stop believing you’re a victim. You have lived in a time where you’ve had the luxury of being weak and fragile, but that time is over. If you still think you need trigger warnings and safe spaces, run home to your pillow fort, little dumpling, because you’re a dead weight, a liability, on everybody around you.

12. Be the Better You: Facts Over Feelings

Engage with the facts before you engage with your emotions.

People on the extreme right are easily subject to manipulation through levers of fear, patriotism, or religion. If you tell them a lie but couch it in patriotic terms (Support The Troops!!!), or tell them there is some plot against them, or that this is a test of faith, some significant number of them will not only leap to believe it, they will see any refuting evidence as part of a secret plot.

But you have to get the facts right before your feelings come into it. If your facts are wrong, your conclusions cannot be right, and your feelings about the thing, whatever they are, are misplaced. Worse, once you have any sort of strong feeling about something, every fact or non-fact that comes after will be assessed through the filter of that emotion.

I’ve been in many arguments online where someone misstated one or more facts, but refused to hear any countervailing evidence, even when I cited multiple sources. “No, I’m not wrong, all those sources are lies, and you only cite them because you want to destroy America. Obama is a Kenyan-born Muslim, Michelle is a tranny dyke, and their kids are adopted ghetto b*tches who smoke crack in the White House.”

Paranoid-afraid and angry, nothing I said could get through to them. They didn’t want to hear it.

The thing is, the bit about “getting your facts right before your feelings come into it” applies just as much to people on the left.

Oh, but you’re not subject to emotional manipulation, right? You don’t feel that sort of fear or anger, you don’t experience that knee-jerk patriotic fervor.

Yeah, hold off on the smug certainty, Reason Boy. You are every bit as easy to manipulate, every bit as resistant to counter-arguments. It’s just that your levers are different.

For lefties, one of the biggest levers is compassion. Tell them something is an attack on minorities, the homeless, transgenders, women, or hell, pit bulls, and they will buy into it with their weight in diamonds.

I’ve gotten into discussions with liberals that just left me gasping. Say ANYTHING they don’t already believe, disagree with a single point of a leftist compassion argument, and they will attack you in a howling mob, name-calling like it was the world Ad Hominem finals and they were going for the gold. “Why do you HAAAATE the poor homeless?? Why do you HAAAATE the poor pitbulls?? OMG, you’re HITLER!!”

Speaking of which, if someone states a fact, even if it is/was Hitler, the important thing for a REASONING BEING is the fact, not the identity of the speaker. No amount of name-calling changes the facts. It only blinds you to things you just might need to hear.

Never doubt that there are people out there who profit from working you. Here’s something I figured out some years back:

Under the lash of strong emotions,
human beings become less intelligent.

Angry? Stupid. Afraid? Stupid. Infatuated? REALLY stupid. Yeah, you.

And the less intelligent you are, the more you miss of what “they” are doing. Keeping you dumbed down, unable to think clearly or make plans to resist, is a blue chip investment for anyone who wants to run things.

Oh, you think they wouldn’t do that? That’s just a conspiracy theory? That nobody is that dishonest, that wicked, that organized? You keep believing that, kid — your simple faith and trust is just cute as hell.

But here in the real world, we have fellow citizens who have overthrown COUNTRIES with just such tools. Selling you a deadly long-term poison or getting you to vote for their guy over your guy is small change in comparison.

13. Be the Better You: Get and Stay Fit

How will you feel someday if your granddaughter is drowning in a pool and you’re the only person there who might save her, but you don’t know how to swim? Riiiight.

This is not just about swimming. It’s about physical strength, about cardiovascular fitness, about the sort of vibrant health that makes you not just stronger but smarter as well.

This is always overlooked in political activism, but it’s damned important.

The thing is, it’s not just yourself you have to be strong for – it’s for all those people you love. Think about that the next time someone tries to tell you you’re fragile and weak and helpless.

Remember those pictures you used to see of the guy holding out his pants in front, showing how much weight he lost? Facebook no longer allows such pictures to be posted. The image of fitness, rather than an inspiration and a goal, is now some sort of horrific attack. Because OMG FAT SHAMING!!! To which I say: Bloodyhelljeezusgoddamshit!

By contrast, I had a 60-year-old friend stagger through a quarter-mile of snow carrying a bloody 80-pound dog. The thing is, it was MY dog. They’d gone for a hike in a snowy park, and the dog ripped open his chest and belly on a hidden metal stake. Because my friend was in good shape, I got another 6 good years with my beloved four-legger.

I suggest we all remember the Boy Scout motto: “Be prepared.”

This is not just about physical strength, either. It’s about mental toughness as well. And again, not just for you. For your granddaughter. For your neighbors. For everybody around you threatened by this ugly new situation.

Make a conscious decision to be tougher. You don’t have to be a victim. You can be a warrior, a knight in defense of all things good.

14. Strategy One: Strategy Itself

From Wikipedia: “STRATEGY is a high level plan to achieve one or more goals under conditions of uncertainty.”

“Strategy is important because the resources available to achieve these goals are usually limited. Strategy generally involves setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions. A strategy describes how the ends (goals) will be achieved by the means (resources).”

Here’s why I mention it: A lot of people on the right are ex-military. Who do you think trains in effectively mobilizing limited resources to achieve goals under conditions of uncertainty? Riiiight.

The left, meanwhile, untrained, even unaware, of the concept of strategy, attacks every issue as if nothing was connected to anything else.

Most of us on the left remain convinced simple honesty and good will will win out in every situation. But here’s the thing: It won’t. You have black neighbors who have lived in simple honesty and good will every goddam day of their lives, and they still have to be afraid – in their own country, their own hometown, their own neighborhood – that they or their kids will be shot down.

To bring home to you the importance of strategy, here’s another ‘magic’ metaphor:

Picture yourself on stage in a contest with 20 professional stage magicians. People skilled in misdirection, sleight of hand, expert manipulation of cards, polished handling of the audience. First off, do you even know any magic tricks? Say you know one lame-ass trick, something that wows the 6-year-old nieces and nephews … how do you think you’ll do against the pros? They won’t even laugh at you. They will IGNORE you. If they notice you at all, they’ll be embarrassed for you.

As for the people we’re facing, they are equally advanced professionals. They have experts in advertising, in business, in emotional manipulation, in military and political tactics. They have multi-billion-dollar corporations on their team. They get together in groups and plan out years-long strategies to control the military, the media, international trade, state and local offices, hell, even your local cops. They also have money, vaults full of it.

If you persist as a hopeful amateur, ganged up with other hopeful amateurs to pursue the Issue of the Day, they will eat you a-fucking-live. You have to stop thinking each issue is a separate issue, that each election is a separate election, that each battle is the main battle and nothing of the future matters.

You have to stop REacting and start PROacting, thinking in decades rather than days or  weeks. Get together with others, decide what sort of future you want – 10 years from now, 25 years from now, 100 years from now – and start working on THAT.

Because you can bet your ass THEY have such plans.

15. Strategy Two: Decide Who You Are

Are you a Bible-believing Christian first, a Constitution-cherishing American second? In other words, are you a Christian-American rather than an American Christian? It’s an important question, and one which Christians in America frequently – in my view – get wrong.

Likewise, are you a first and foremost a feminist-American, a black-American, an LBGT-American, a transgender-American?

Fine, fight your little fight. But prepare to lose.

There is a sociocultural and governmental substrate on top of which Black Lives Matter and feminism and all this other stuff takes place.

Picture us playing tennis in a huge indoor enclosure with dozens of separate courts. You’re over there fighting your battle, I’m over here fighting mine, a dozen other games are going on elsewhere. But meanwhile, the building itself is under threat by a developer who wants to raze it and build condos.

How much does it profit you, how much does it profit any of us, to concentrate exclusively on our individual games? Without the building, there is no game.

In this moment, we’re not feminists. We’re not Black Lives Matter activists. We’re not defending the rights of the poor Muslims, or spilling out our hearts over homeless kitties.

What we’re defending today, right here and now, is the very ground on which all these campaigns are conducted. The ground on which they CAN BE conducted with any chance of success.

And news flash, kids, we just lost one hella big battle. Maybe even the war.

This bit here and now, THIS part, is going to be the heyday of big banks, of international corporations, of oil companies, of mercenaries, of secret overseas bank accounts, of tax avoidance, of surveillance, of openly flouting American law and custom and decency. If you thought it was bad before, with the GOP now in control of America, the barn door is open and the horses are loose.

We people of compassion and kindness – and hell, believers in democracy – have to be just as real. Don’t go imagining that airy-fairy happy shit is just going to automatically happen while you sit back and mellow out. You have to take the world in your hands and MAKE good things happen.

16. Strategy Three: Plan For Dogs in the Manger and False Flags

Do you know that first phrase? —A dog doesn’t eat hay, but he can lie in the feed trough and keep all the other animals away from it, snapping and snarling, protecting his turf, so that the animals who do eat hay can’t get to it. Ha-ha, funny, right? But not to THEM.

So you’re out on the lines with Occupy Wall Street, holding up your sign and feeling good about what you’re doing. If only that damned drum circle would stop, you could actually make your points with the news camera. But the drum circle doesn’t stop, hour after hour, day after day, until you can’t hear yourself think.

But what are you going to say? It’s a public space, right? And everybody has a right to protest in their own way.

Dog in the manger: A thousand dollars says one or more of the people on the drum circle were FBI plants. One or more of the other sorts of activists there to scream and wave signs –Indians! Marijuana activists! – were FBI plants. By the second day, sincere others would show up and the FBI guys could step back and watch the confused, milling free-for-all.

Eventually even the news media – the few who showed up – would be unable to see any point to the whole thing. Dog in the manger: The FBI people weren’t there with any message, but they could keep the Occupy movement from getting their message out.

False flag: Say you’re out in front of City Hall, peacefully demonstrating for more funding for the local library, and someone carrying a ‘Fund Our Library Now!’ poster throws a Molotov cocktail through the window into the mayor’s office and then runs off and vanishes. Who do you think will get blamed? You and your whole group. Hello media shitstorm, bye-bye library funding.

Think stuff like that doesn’t happen? Ha-bloody-ha.

And if you don’t believe someone would do something like that, ask yourself this: Why would they NOT? Because they’re good and honest? Yeah, and monkeys might fly out of my butt.

Expect this stuff. In every major protest movement, especially those that look like they have some chance of success, some of the people around you are going to be government agents. If you don’t believe that, bless your simple little heart, and I hope you have a grownup taking care of you.

But whether it’s FBI agents infiltrating the movement or just plain idiots squealing “No, no, this is all about ME and MY issue!”, there are going to be counter-forces WITHIN your movement. Accidentally or deliberately, they will obstruct, distract, confuse and misinform you and others.

Find a way to deal with it. Press on.

17. Strategy Four: Venn Your Enemies

There really are enemies out there.

But not everybody who fails to agree with you on every single point is simply an enemy.

You know Venn diagrams? – those overlapping circles that show shared and unshared areas?

The Venn diagram comparing religious convictions of me and Johnny Christboy would show very little overlap. His ardent Christianity and my ardent atheism would be mutually exclusive. But the diagram of our political convictions would probably overlap quite a bit.

Well, if he was a conservative Christian of the nutty vicious sort, the overlap would be small. But if he was one of those generous, loving religious people, the shared area of his circle and mine would take up most of them.

After crossing paths with some online feminists of the craziest, meanest goddam sort, I realized I could never call myself a feminist. But our Venn diagrams regarding the rights of women, their safety and choice and equality, would overlap almost completely. The non-overlapping parts would be those bits where they insisted we live in Rape Culture, that every problem in the world is because of men, that women have NO advantages over men, and that if you disagree with any of those points, it’s because you hate women.

(Fair warning: If you think you need to start a war here over this last paragraph, you might as well fuck off now and save yourself the effort.)

I disliked former President Nixon with a deep passion over the Vietnam War, but I give him props for his environmental achievements. And I would have worked with him, gladly, on environmental issues.

I think John McCain is a complete fool for giving us the stinking dumpster fire which is  Sarah Palin, but I’m behind him 100 percent in the investigation of Russian hacking of our election. (If he’s not just doing it to shut down any real investigation, that is.)

The point here is that you can work with people on one subject while disagreeing with them on another. That you shouldn’t tune out anybody completely and forever. You may find you someday need them.

The point is also: Stop attacking allies. Focus on your samenesses and common goals – the large area of overlap – rather than your differences.

18. Strategy Five: Get Personal

The real stuff happens offline. The real stuff happens in person.

I used to go to City Council meetings. At every meeting, on every issue, someone would get up and say something they wanted councilmembers to hear. Their heartfelt conclusions about the issue. How it would affect them. Why they thought it was good, or bad. And in not one of those meetings did I get the feeling that input affected the councilmembers’ decisions.

They’d made up their minds BEFORE the meeting, in discussions with friends and cronies, people they met on the golf course, or in the course of their daily business. A lot of that stuff wasn’t even issue-specific – it was a mass of people around them CREATING A REALITY. “This town has to grow!” “We need law and order!” “If we don’t get that new golf course approved, that new casino approved, that new ski resort approved, tourism will dry up and we’ll all be out of jobs!”

You have to help create that reality. Turn off the computer, get out of your chair, and go to the city or county legislative meetings. Shake hands. Smile. Compliment.

Meet your elected officials personally. Meet the local cops. Meet the people at City Hall, and the County Offices. Make friends with them. Invite them for a hike, or for lunch. Ask them to MC your Boy Scout barbecue. Express an interest in their families, and their health. Care about them. But also, show them your life, help them know you as a person. And talk to them about the issues you care about.

(One question *I* would like to ask every state and local cop, and every member of the military, is “If you were given an order to fire on unarmed American civilians, would you do it?” Not only is it something I would like to know, I think it’s something THEY need to know, well in advance of such an order.)

Bear in mind they’re all human. If you’re in their faces carping at them every day, they’re not going to take that well. The goal is friendly influence. If you can get them sounding YOU out about issues, you’ll know they respect your input.

Two more things.

First: Infiltrate. Don’t assume every person working in City Hall, or the Governor’s office, is in full agreement with everything that gets done there. Hell, Donald Trump’s White House is going to be riddled with people he would consider traitors, but who are actually patriots. If you know any of these people, if you can meet them, let them know you’d like to help them in any way you can – such as getting word out without attribution.

Second: Make a point of meeting your local investigative news reporters. Find the guy or gal who’s been there 30 years and make friends. Invite them to the park for a barbecue, treat them to sushi or a shot of single malt. Give them whatever information you have on local subjects, but also feel them out about what they know. Gain their trust and never, never betray it.

19. Prepare For The Worst

“It’s not what happens, it’s how you react to it.” ~ Jim Rohn

This is an especially bad time to have Trump at the helm. Even aside from the crap he and the GOP are going to pull – and it’s going to be bad – there are forces in the world that don’t augur well for civilization itself, even more than for the United States of America.

Climate change. Peak oil. Overpopulation. Water shortages. Superbugs. Extinctions.

Just when we need good leaders, we have the worst. And we have a media already extremely comfortable with manipulating rather than informing viewers.

We’re going to have to take care of each other. That old lady next door. The nephew who needs money for college. That black neighbor who just moved in. The woman down the hall whose boyfriend beats her. The neighborhood itself, against the drug dealers and thugs.

We’re also going to have to go to the mattresses with the takers and liars.

Imagine if, rather than coming after your Social Security and health insurance, they tried to pass a law that would take guns away from 50 million Americans. Here’s the mindset they’d meet up with: “Yeah, you fuckers are about to learn some whole new lessons in respect.”

The fact is, most members of Congress would never even consider such a law. Because they know that violence would follow, and not a little bit of it. Somewhere out there is someone who would just kill them.

The demographic of retired people, those of us on SS or Medicare, all the vulnerables and the people who care about them, are going to have to figure out where and how to draw our own line.

Speaking of which …

20. Carry a Goddam Flag / Buy a Fucking Gun

Carry a goddam flag. Stop ceding the image of patriotism to the right wing freaks.

Get EVERYONE on your team, at every protest action, to carry American flags. If you’re a military veteran, wear something conspicuous to show that.

Look, we’re not pot-smoking hippies selling peace and love. We’re Americans, and we’re faced with, at the very least, a chute full of crap flowing our way. At worst, we’re facing the end of the American experiment of democracy.

Carry a flag, carry two flags, and wave them like your life depended on it. Because it just might.

Buy a fucking gun. Buy a lot of fucking guns.

Okay, sure, you “don’t like” guns. Fine. But visualize the difference between the Black Rock protestors and the gunny types that took over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

The unarmed protestors at Black Rock got police dogs, paramilitary cops, armored vehicles, water cannons and other “non-lethal” weapons fired at them.

The Malheur occupiers were openly breaking federal law, but authorities treated them like it was prom night and they were a bunch of Disney princesses. Hell, the bastards drew down on federal officials with assault rifles, and most of them just walked away.

And did you notice when things changed at Black Rock? When the cops stood down and a truce was declared? THE DAY AFTER veterans showed up and joined in. Why? Because you can shoot water cannons at a bunch of lame-ass Indians in winter, but you don’t dare do that to military veterans. Because 1) it would be really bad publicity, but 2) you don’t screw around with men you already know are willing to go to war.

If you think violence never solved anything, remind yourself of who occupies North America today. Hint: It’s not hundreds of tribes of Native Americans. It’s the descendants of people who were capable of advanced forms of violence.

If every Jew in pre-WWII Germany had a rifle or handgun and the will to use it, you think things would have gotten to the point they did? No way. But take note of how that particular part of history actually was ended – through the assistance of people who were equipped, trained and willing to meet violence and guns with even greater violence, even bigger guns.

There are more of us than there are of them. Really consider that fact.

If guns are legal in your jurisdiction, buy one, get your open carry permit or whatever, and carry the goddam thing to every public event. Learn to use it. Take a firearms safety course. Become a regular at the local firing range. Organize with friends for target practice. Do it.

The alternative is to practice bending over until you can grab your ankles quickly and efficiently when so ordered.

(And yes, if you have kids in the house, don’t be an idiot with the guns. Take every necessary precaution.)


Continue for a short list of Postcripts.