“ When men yield up the privilege of thinking, the last shadow of liberty quits the horizon.”
— THOMAS PAINE
September 2022

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Time to Choose

“Approximately 1,200 Cubans left Havana this morning. Approximately 700 turned back due to severe weather. 350 are presumed dead. 137 are in custody in Miami, seeking asylum. With the clothes on their back they came through a storm, and the ones that didn’t die want a better life, and they want it here. Talk about impressive.” Take a guess. Ron DeSantis? No, another guess. Greg Abbott? No, one more. The Donald? Now that’s ridiculous.

The quotation is from President Jed Bartlet in the first episode of the West Wing. Fiction, of course, but it captures the image of America the land of the free and the home of the brave. Not an unblemished image, to be sure. We had slavery, Jim Crow, we turned a boat full of Jewish refugees from Europe away just before World War II, allegedly fearing they were spies. We slaughtered and cheated native Americans, we fought a civil war that left more than 600,000 of our young men dead from sectional hostilities and hatred.

So if you’re choosing, which way would you go? To those who want and imagine a better life, or those who celebrated family separation at the Mexican border and care nothing about the young children who have yet to reunite with their families and may never? To a politician who ships plane loads of refugees who came seeking a better life to a small island in Massachusetts where there is neither housing nor a year-long economy? Are their lives worth nothing more than a stunt?

Our national life has long been plagued with these dualities and debating the human basics—a welcome hug versus a kick in the teeth—is unlikely to change minds. The election in a few weeks will be consequential. And unfortunately, one’s responses to the issues are often chosen from prix fix dinners, not á la carte. You cannot be anti-immigrant and find a candidate who agrees with that while embracing women’s right to make the most intimate choices for their bodies. You cannot find a candidate who believes in the equitable distribution of wealth and also in parental control of libraries. Who understands both the shortage of labor and the limitless supply of guns. A candidate who wants decent housing, food and quality health care for all while accepting corruption and lying by government officials.

Make no mistake, Geoffrey Berman published a book this week about the U.S. Attorney’s office and political pressure from the White House to indict its enemies. Not even Nixon did that. Former Obama Counsel Greg Craig, Berman shows us, got screwed for the greater glory of Trump.

President Biden is an old man with enormous legislative and executive accomplishments. The Afghanistan war is over, Covid is greatly reduced, Ukraine is still free, but the morons derisively chortle and call him Brandon.

Will we see democracy kill itself or will the power of government once and for all stop having to prove the 2020 election was honest and the January 6 attack on the Capitol was seditious evil? Will the many who planned or later defended that attack continue to be free? Will a proven liar still be celebrated despite his theft of government secrets for whatever criminal purpose? Will any American woman, not counting the crazies, ignore the abortion situation and vote for ANY Republican?

Time to choose, people. Remember the wisdom of Risky Business—sometimes ya’ gotta’ say, What The F***.

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