Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Inexcusably Long Rant: Democrats Who Help Elect Republicans

Twelve parts. Right. Twelve. I took a month writing this sponsored post. It does not, in the end, necessarily tell you how to vote or even how I'll vote (since my single issue this year is glyphosate, which is still bipartisan and up for grabs). It tells you how, if you're a Democrat, you can stop throwing elections to the likes of Donald Trump.

1. How to Read This Post

If you are a Democrat, you will want to defend your ego. Nothing’s to stop you doing that, but you won’t get the benefit of this post if you do it. Take a break when you need one. Type “But I’m not the one who said...” somewhere, if you need to. Then continue reading.

2. The Refugee Debate

This web site has no foreign policy. None of us has lived outside the United States to claim any special insight in that area. As a rule we don’t take sides. We observe that Israelis and Palestinians, Russians and Ukrainians, etc., look like adults to us and should be able to settle their own differences for themselves.

So I don’t have to read much about international issues. When, as with the U.S. immigration “debate,” I’m seeing and hearing three or four different stories, I have no way to know which one’s true, and distrust all of them impartially.

I heard and read, “Poor, persecuted families are fleeing intolerable situations in their homelands and trying to resettle in more affluent cities around the world.” I heard and read, “The U.N. have been shipping loads of angry young men to selected dumping grounds near cities around the world, where all these guys are doing is making trouble and committing crimes.” Which story should I have in mind when I hear “refugees” mentioned? How would I know, except the Berlin rape event was agreed on by all sides and definitely supports the second story.

The last “refugees” seen in my town were temporarily homeless after the Clinchport Flood in 1977. As a result of that, when I hear the word “refugees” my default reaction is more like, “Four can go in the bedroom the boys aren’t using, two in the one the girls aren’t using.” Of course I’m also visualizing families: a couple with parents and children. Scott Adams mildly pointed out, a few years ago, that young men can be poor, homeless, and persecuted just like anyone else. This is true but it’s hard to imagine a way truckloads of young men would just abandon their families without being the sort of young men who belong behind bars.

It has nothing to do with color. D’s love to imagine that it has. “This horrible Republican administration is rejecting refugees of color because they are racists.” This web site has said, on about a weekly basis from its beginning, “Rrreally? What skin tone is it that Republicans don’t like? Condoleezza Rice’s? Larry Elder’s? Michelle Malkin’s? Bobby Jindal’s? Ben Carson’s? Maybe Glenn Beck’s!”

Perhaps even R’s need to be biracial to understand how annoying that line is. Today’s Republican Party looks like America, and it’s up to D’s to prove they’re not exploiting people of color with all those cheap, outdated party-line remarks.

Whether we want refugees to move into our homes, or to be detained preferably in prisons, is a matter of behavior. I think most people in Washington could name names of individuals in specific African and Asian countries who’d be welcome in our homes. 

I have a pen friend in Zambia, a friend of a friend who went there with a charitable mission once. He’s about our age, fifty-plus, married, with children. Around the time people in the U.S. started describing us as women rather than girls, he became an elder of the church. He writes barely legible letters, as the villager who writes the best English, on behalf of a whole little traditional-style fishing village consisting of three or four extended families, all Seventh-Day Adventists. And I know what he does when his village is flooded, which happens every few years. He packs his valuables in a sack on one shoulder, puts one of the toddlers on the other shoulder, and cheerfully tells the children they’re going camping in the woods. They live in the woods till the water goes down. Then they go back and rebuild their village, again, using cheap light replaceable materials. They do not sit down and wail about wanting to move into an affluent city. They are Zambians. 

They don’t leave their parents and children to drown, either. If my pen friend were required to leave Zambia, as it might be because he’s a Christian, at least his wife and children would be with him. Likewise, when I think about disasters in my part of the world, I don’t think “Who’s going to protect me?” I think, “What am I going to do about Mother?” So this is a question of compatibility. I’ve read valid arguments for relatively young healthy people walking away from elders and children in a crisis, but I don’t think people who make those arguments would be compatible with me.

Meanwhile this Refugee Debate gets batted back and forth like a tennis ball, and who knows what’s happening to the real refugees. From time to time I hear something about one teenaged refugee wanting to get into more advanced classes at school, another one acting out a slasher movie with a local four-year-old. I don’t know.

The last time I remember this level of cognitive dissonance was in 1993, after the Waco disaster. I didn’t even want to know the true story there either. People were saying, “But you went to a Seventh-Day Adventist church, so you must have known them.” The denomination is bigger than that. I no longer attended that church but my mother’s church literature was saying, “We have nothing to do with those awful people!!!” So I repeated that to a few people, and then an employer said, “We’re going to do a report on the facts of the Waco disaster.” So I did the research and wrote the report. If somebody wants to pay me to research the Refugee Debate, maybe I’ll come to a conclusion about that, too.

3. What I Saw/Heard at What Used to Be a Great Blog

I followed the Making Light blog before I had a blog of my own. It’s a D blog. That’s not a problem. My late husband was a D; my favorite aunt was. I’ve voted for D’s myself. Making Light has seemed like a site for nice mature D’s who oppose war and think more money could possibly help the public school system, and may be in denial about the failure of socialism, but, apart from that, would probably be nice to live next door to.

I thought.

And I’m not saying that the people at that site whose names I’d begun to recognize are not that sort of D’s, either. The post that sucked me into the flamewar was an expression of alarm and despondency, not hostility. Bad things were going on in the poster’s life and he thought the nation was going to pot because he was looking at Trump. It is hard not to feel a certain amount of alarm and despondency when looking at Trump. If the blogger had been a woman I would have typed “((empathy hugs)).” Since men don’t use that kind of expression so much I tried to post an encouraging thought about people other than Trump.

I honestly think the best way to reduce Trump’s public displays of obnoxiousness is to ignore them. Pray for the nation; communicate with the nicer people in our government. Trump too shall pass. Selectively bestowing and withholding attention is the one tactic from which he might learn something.

But I felt for the blogger who lamented that “the American people” are apparently comfortable with the bad things he blamed on Trump (which, incidentally, R’s blame on Obama, and as an Independent I have no opinion). What do we the American people do when we disagree with our President? We look around for the next presidential candidates, and we work to address the problem on a more practical level, because top-down centralized government is inefficient at best.

I honestly thought that “Making Light” would be the place for D’s to talk about the things they were working on, in spite of Trump and in spite of Hell, being indomitable and resilient and all, like my husband and my favorite aunt. Well...time has passed; a lot of these D’s are older. In any case I overestimated the number of people who were working on good things, y’know, making light.

My goal in this discussion was not to make friends, not to recruit people into any agenda of mine, but to encourage people to encourage their friend. I kept hoping people would step forward to cheer the blogger:

“Our neighborhood raised X amount to improve Y.”

“Our mission coached X number of adult students to earn their G.E.D.”

“Our organic co-op harvested X amount of peaches.”

No such. And that did disappoint me. I don’t expect D’s to be perfect but I do, in my quaint baby-boomer way, expect them to be active.

4. The Part Christian-Phobics Will Enjoy

There is nothing some churchgoers hate quite so bitterly as a reminder that Jesus called Christians to put not only their money, but also their backs, where their mouths are.

31 nWhen the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the oholy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And pbefore him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall qseparate them one from another, as a shepherd qdivideth his rsheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep son his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall tthe King say unto uthem on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, winherit xthe kingdom yprepared for you zfrom the foundation of the world: 35 aFor I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was ba stranger, and ye ctook me in: 36 dNaked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and yeevisited me: fI was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And tthe King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto yougInasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, hDepart from me, ye cursed,iinto everlasting fire, ykprepared for lthe devil and lmhis angels: 42 For I nwas an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not ominister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, pInasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away intoqeverlasting punishment: but the righteous into qrlife eternal.

Matthew 25, from

Who is invited to “enter into the joy” of Heaven? Not the ones who say “Lord, hunger is a Problem, and somebody ought to Do Something about the homeless, and there are Programs for...” No: “I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was a stranger, and you took Me in.”

Just suggest to these churchgoers that Jesus might have

* supported local enterprise over big chain sstores

* walked instead of driving

* homeschooled instead of browbeating the school board

...or even, if He’d been rich, taken responsibility for the well-being of His townsfolk, all by Himself, with no twaddle about federal programs...and you will understand exactly the tones in which these people are going to hear “Depart from Me ye cursed.” You never saw anyone so thoroughly cursed. You can almost literally see their heads spin backwards and spew pea soup, as they squall “How could you be such a horrible person as to suggest that we need to do anything beyond putting money in the plate on Sunday?” Truly satanic hate blazes from their piggy little eyes.

Mine was the generation that denounced our parents’ churches for this reason. We wanted to be Christians not hippies, but how could churchgoers support any war, much less the one in Vietnam? (“We don’t support the war. We support your cousins who are in the war. Don’t say anything the enemy can use against them.”) Or racism, sexism, elitism in their multifariously nefarious forms? Birmingham Sunday! Churches that relied on women ministers to do all the work, but paid only male preachers! Children shivering in the draught from the window shot out of the Anacostia elementary school! Real Christians got up and did something!

I heard of people my age going to the Middle East to serve as human shields. That I’ve not done. Other things I’ve done. Jesus has never told me to pin on a fake grin and try to tell people to try to feel better if they didn’t have food, or houses, or teachers. I always understood Him to say, “Get up and fill a basket with food, or patch up the houses, or teach in the schools, or whatever may be needed. If you have something others need, God gave you that talent so you could use it.”

Well, as a Christian I find some comfort in observing that an identical disparity can be observed by suggesting that certain Humanists get up and do something humanitarian.

“But we shouldn’t haaaff to take disaster victims into our homes! The government should...”

“But we shouldn’t haaaff to stop for someone we see changing a tire in the rain! Just pray that God will...”

In nature maggots can be either black or white, depending on the kind of flies they grow up to be, but the color is covered by the muck into which they are squirming to bury themselves deeper. Humanist hypocrites sound so much like Christian hypocrites, it’s hard to tell them apart.

Maybe, O ye of hollow faiths, God or the government needs to operate through you. Maybe God should have saved the child who was trapped in the burning building, and remember when you had that unaccountable urge to walk down that street, two hours before...Stranger things have happened, Gentle Readers. Maybe “we as a nation” ought to take in a few more carefully selected refugees, and didn’t you say you had two empty rooms?

5. Heat Instead of Light

Anyway some people from Making Light clicked over to this blog, so I clicked back over there. (If the computer hadn’t shown that people from that blog were visiting this one, I would’ve left my encouraging word and probably never opened the page again. I usually read other people’s blog pages only once, unless the computer indicates an audience overlap. When there is an audience overlap I go back to check on that audience.)

What I saw was not unusual. Nice people everywhere tend to be introverts, so they don’t like to boast about the good they are doing, and they didn’t think they knew me well enough to comment on my blog, so they either said nothing or tried the “nice distracting comment” gambit. Haters tend to be extroverts, so at the first suggestion that the world is likely to survive Trump, how they spewed!

Haters are widespread in this world. They hate because they are haters. They hate your differences from them because they hate their own differences from what they know they ought to be. This web site never recommends violence but, in the case of haters, it does observe the merits of suicide.

The haters foamed up with fifty-five different insults, a few repeated more than once.

Some of the haters (this is a sneaky little touch verbal abusers love) were spewing out an instant reaction to the first three words I’d typed, but then in the same comments they wanted their every word to be carefully interpreted in terms of nuance and all their previous corpus of published writing.

And I’m sorry, D’s who are not haters, but when haters start spewing, whether the person hated is a victim of the Berlin rape event or a casual visitor to a blog, you cannot reasonably demand that the target of hate notice how special you are unless your voice is heard loudly and clearly and unmistakably chastising the haters—with no judgment against the target. Haters draw lines. If you’re not on one side, you can’t expect credit for not being on the other. A person who's catching hate is not a neutral audience and is not going to hear anything you say in the same neutral way a person who's not catching hate would hear it.

I was a casual visitor to a blog. I recognized the original poster’s name, slightly, from cyberspace; I don’t know him in real life. Even in cyberspace I don’t know most of the commenters; nor, after the hatespew, would I want to. I have no emotional attachment to how much hate haters spew just because someone does not agree with them in every way. I’m saying this purely as a principle of communication, which is also applicable to victims of more serious forms of hate. If you want me to remember you as special and different and likable and worth listening to, as distinct from being a hater, on the Making Light blog you would have needed to type, “Haters, go away! To our honorable visitors, may I most humbly apologize that the comments A, B, C, D, E, F, and G ever showed up on this page...”

Nobody typed that so, although I don’t care enough to remember who typed what, I am, like all targets of hostility in their right minds, recognizing the Making Light blog as—in an aggregated way—a source of hostility; active or passive. I think D’s need to know that. Noted: D’s are hostile. No, not “I am a bad person” or “I did something wrong.” The current crop of even educated, sophisticated, seemingly polite D’s are haters.

Whether the fifty-five insults were addressed to me, to R’s, to I’s, or to Trump doesn’t even matter since it was obvious that most of the haters were just gushing hate in every possible direction. The fact that I wouldn’t shake Trump’s hand, myself, does not signify. Nobody took the trouble to spell out any differences like “Of course you, Priscilla King, were asking about positive actions we’re taking, with the goal of helping our mutual e-friend feel less depressed, whereas Trump is...” whatever they want to claim he’s doing. Again, what registered is: These people are bigots and bullies and haters.

Note, however, the racist stereotypes present in the ones addressed specifically to Ben Carson. These people are racists. And haters.

  • racist
  • sexist
  • ignoring the plain evidence of (insert dubious value judgment)
  • b’s’
  • hardcore MAGAT
  • to be politically neutralized not persuaded
  • only pretending to be asleep
  • weird
  • not a serious argument
  • go away troll
  • [Carson] idiot
  • [Carson] Uncle Tom
  • bastard
  • whole d' lot ought to be shot
  • Nazis
  • the very textbook definition of fascism
  • gullible
  • trusting of reactionaries
  • violence
  • naive kid
  • frothing racists
  • I don’t sense good faith
  • can’t manage a syllogism
  • want to keep kids trapped in a bubble
  • lunacy
  • white supremacists
  • white supremacy in funny glasses
  • a jerk
  • big plate of steaming dog s’
  • trash
  • doesn’t look good
  • bad form
  • monstrous
  • lacking all moral character
  • evil
  • terror, horror, fascism, depravity, and evil
  • seriously question your willingness to participate in honest discourse
  • untenable position
  • deplorable [seriously!]
  • some Left Behind level of conspiracy theory
  • we all know where Priscilla is getting her “facts”
  • arguments don’t match reality
  • dupe or troll makes no difference
  • torpedoed any shred of credibility
  • loathesome [sic]
  • shot credibility all to H’
  • d’ tired of the lies
  • the descent into grade-school insults commences [in reply to “rubber-glue” rhyme I posted as a cheerful batch reply to several insults, not to the insults themselves]
  • preached
  • no signs of empathy [seriously!]
  • find some place else to spread that brand of fertilizer
  • you presume
  • I don’t think her blog gets eyeballs
  • trying to use us
  • troll bingo cards

Plus a concern about, yes, whether children learn that “different” is not the same as “bad.”

And a very long, very emotional warble about how the way to solve everything was to vote for D’s.

I am not making this up. I’ve just read/heard that sort of thing coming from D’s. Not one dissenting voice saying “That’s an obnoxious generalization” or “That’s an outdated stereotype” or “That’s racist,” much less “That’s going to give the newcomer a bad impression of us as a group.” Nor—this matters—one intelligent response to my original point. All these hatespews were reactions to the first line or two. Nor, for that matter, a single mention of anyone actually trying to make light. And this crowd imagine they’re going to recruit my vote?


All this hate was coming from people whom I’d assured in the first line or two that I’m not actually even a Republican. Sometimes I almost manage to feel like a Republican, but I’ve never joined a party. I vote on whichever issues I believe to be most urgent in a particular election. But. This lot of haters seriously imagined that I, or anyone else but a Real Limousine Liberal, reading that page of hatespews, would be likely to vote for a D?

They were giving me credit for a lot more logical-over-emotional thinking than I think the average human is capable of, if they did.

6. Kav—Enough!

Meanwhile, the long-anticipated antifeminist backlash was building up with the frankly silly hate directed toward Brett Kavanaugh, reminiscent of the hate directed toward Roy Moore last year, only, if possible, even sillier. (For starters neither man was ever even seriously accused of rape, as some well-known D’s...)

I would never have expected to like anyone Trump chose for anything, except as bait for a more credible R candidate’s fans to vote for him. Secretary Carson was appointed as one of a real minority: (1) candidates for whom real R’s were voting in the primaries (2) who were willing to shake Trump’s hand. That’s politics. I wouldn’t blame any of the other fourteen R presidential candidates if they’d accepted positions in this administration either. Those positions pay well, and they had campaign expenses to recover. The rest of Trump’s picks...meh, or do I mean feh? I see the back-and-forth e-mail headlines, “X is a hero,” “X is a lousy creep,” “Support X,” “Block X,” and it’s sort of liberating to select’em all and send’em all straight to the Bacon Folder, saying, “I don’t know these people. Or want to.”

I’ve seen nothing about Brett Kavanaugh that makes me imagine him as a replacement for Sandra Day O’Connor, Thurgood Marshall, or Antonin Scalia.

It’s purely on feminist grounds that I ended up signing a letter of support to Justice Kavanaugh. Women have to stop letting serious complaints of real hatecrimes against women be trivialized by complaints that (1) are suspiciously timed, (2) are politically motivated, (3) are based on blurry memories that “came up during psychotherapy” which means they’re probably drug reactions rather than even memories, and (4) are not serious charges in any case. I’m still unconvinced that the suspiciously timed charges against Bill Cosby are worth hearing; I think some of the charges against some younger R's were worth hearing, but I’m convinced that the claims about Moore and Kavanaugh were not.

I think that somewhere in this favored land there probably is someone who would have been a better Supreme Court Justice than Brett Kavanaugh, but points to Trump for making his nomination so totally about “We must not reward lying, bullying haters” and so little about “What kind of public record has Kavanaugh had?”

7. Haters Are Racists. What Else Is New? 

I asked a left-wingnut on Twitter, charitably enough, “You’re calling Carson [racist stereotype word] because you disagree with him? Or because he’s not a TV performer? Or because he’s an introvert? Or because he’s Black?”

I had to stop myself from adding, “...Every one of which is a reason to respect him more than you, GHOSTFACE.”

I am legally White. My mother is White. I’ve never tried to “be” anything but the mostly White mix I am...but part of what I am is disgusted by the putrescent ghostfacery of some White D’s.

Many reasons not to agree with, or vote for, Ben Carson, make sense to me. “Someone else represents my views better?” Possibly; Carson’s Seventh-Day Adventist perspective makes his views a unique mix. (As with John McCain's following, I suspected a lot of his admirers hadn't read his book.) “He looks amateurish on TV”? He does; we’ve had some fine people in public office who looked terrible on TV. “He’s a thinker, a healer, a Christian, an Inspirational Figure, and what we want is a War Chief”? I can understand that, sort of. But hate? Carson? What. Is. Wrong with these creatures?

Hear me well, D’s. Ben Carson is mortal and fallible. He’s said some things recently that were obviously not based on careful research. That still leaves him a long way ahead of most of us.

I know my own I.Q. score—somewhere between 127 and 151, from a barrage of different tests. I.Q. tests measure verbal intelligence, which is the kind writers have. I don’t meet people with a higher score every day, so I know them when I do. Ben Carson has one.

That people aren’t as badly intimidated by Carson as they are by White men with extremely high I.Q.s is due, entirely and alone, to one thing. He’s tall, dark, and Black, and from one of those neighborhoods I’d bet most of these D-mouths are too wimpy to venture into. For longer than most of the D-mouths have been alive he has been deliberately trying to move slowly, speak calmly, and seem as unthreatening as it is possible for anyone living in his kind of body to seem. He does that well.

As a White woman, when I hear/read little ghostfaces babbling about a non-threatening Black man seeming “stupid,” I feel...disgusted.

8. Refugees in Cages

At that Making Light page I found so informative, someone icily informed me that what the blogger was upset about was that the Trump Administration was to blame for “holding children in” (cue the violins) “caaaages in the desert!”

Right. When you set up these huge programs that treat human beings as groups, you can count on dissatisfaction. You can count on somebody to have an emotional breakdown, or meltdown, or whatever. You have to separate that person from the group before anyone gets hurt. So you put that person in what might be called a detention room, or lockup, or holding tank, or observation room, or intensive care unit, or whatever. In any case, whether the metal bars are visible or not, you have to keep this person physically separated from others. In other words, a caaage! Woe! Waaail! Yes, and those cages are more humane than the alternatives of doping the emotional individuals, euthanizing them, or letting them attack the others.

Meanwhile, in my insular little town, we do have a couple of immigration dramas going on.

According to an old hillbilly joke there is, somewhere in Vermont, a tombstone that describes the life and work of a man born in the next town up the road: “Born in Neighbortown, 1804. Moved to Ourtown, 1810. Married Jane Doe of Ourtown, 1825. Taught in Ourtown School, 1820-1855. Deacon of Ourtown Church, 1830-1898. Died in Ourtown, 1906. Dearly Loved Though a Stranger Among Us.”

It’s not on the tombstone but I did have an elder relative who married a woman from the town of Appalachia, about fifty miles away, in the 1940s; they always lived in Gate City, owned a business, were pillars of a church, put five honors students through Gate City High School, and one year he ran for office in Gate City; and in 2015, when she died, people still distinguished his wife from other in-laws with similar given names as “the one from Appalachia.”

This is not about color or accent, or even a belief that people have any choice about where they were born. Urban D’s would do better to think of the slow exacting process of acceptance of new neighbors, even as “the one from...,” by analogy to the way we used to choose flatmates. Most prospective flatmates were nice people but sometimes the choice depended on who could take a shower at a time nobody else had claimed.

Few people want to move to Gate City. People have been wailing about this longer than I’ve been alive. Young people have to go somewhere out of town to find people to marry, and most of them end up living in their mates’ towns or cities, being homesick. Of the few who are willing to try living here, even fewer succeed in finding a niche in the local economy. There was a man from Dungannon once, still alive when I was a child, and a Methodist minister from Lee County, and a supposed-to-be-disabled businessman from Wise County...and then in the 1990s a farmer started hiring Mexicans. Some of them married local people, bought land, only to run up against the reality that they didn’t belong here. One, local people think, has what it takes to be considered a Gate City man; I.C.E. remain to be convinced.

So I asked the D who seemed so wrought up about refugees for any information he cared to share that might help an individual extend legal residence.

Nothing. He didn’t even look at a government directory page! He started spewing about how evil Republicans are mistreating all foreigners because they’re racists, and ordinary confused Americans are to blame for having listened to the TV news reports about crimes committed by illegal aliens, and people who say “Those other Mexicans are all criminals, except for my friend José who’s a great guy” are “as loathsome” as people who say “All women are worthless sluts, except for my sister who’s a tower of purity.”

Is anybody really all that stupid? I don’t think so. I would imagine that even this hater would have the capacity to understand some difference between people who don’t know which other foreigners are violent criminals, but do know that José isn’t one, and people who seriously think all people with copper-toned skin should be shot. (If not, it should perhaps be mentioned that several of my neighbors have or would prefer to have copper-toned skin.)

This is basic and hardly needs to be mentioned, except for...

9. The AFFH Boondoggle

The Obama administration accepted a boondoggle with a grandiose name about “affordable fair housing,” or AFFH. Unlike many boondoggles where at least some rich campaign funder’s useless relatives get an honest job, this one was a lose-lose proposition all the way.

* It coincided with a nationwide effort, on the part of greedy bankers, to force working people out of their decent homes.

* It directed taxpayers’ money into a deliberate effort to replace decent homes with instant-slum apartment towers.

* It specified that, in order to be slapped up in cities like Kingsport, Tennessee, which was so well planned a hundred years ago that it’s never had slums, apartments were to be reserved for welfare recipients, bringing in welfare recipients from out of town to meet the quota, thus guaranteeing that it would be harder for the welfare recipients to find friends or jobs that could get them off welfare.

* It stipulated that a disproportionate number of these welfare recipients must be “blackandhispanic.”

* So, when these “blackandhispanic” people were trucked from the ghettos of Atlanta or Chattanooga into towns like Greeneville, Tennessee...right away, we read about them in the newspapers. Lacking friends and jobs, having the way they habitually expressed themselves classified as proof of public drunkenness, a lot of them went directly to jail—not passing Go, not collecting $200, not getting even a temporary job or a G.E.D. course.

Kingsport held out for years, but finally succumbed to the strange idea that the way to attract more wealthy home buyers would be to have a slum. A nice little shopping plaza in downtown Kingsport is currently being displaced by a future slum. The thieves, druggies, hookers, and miscellaneous welfare cheats with which the slum is to be stocked will be “blackandhispanic.”

Before the demolition of the shopping plaza I asked my mother, who is really struggling to keep a nice house with a rental property in a nice part of Kingsport, “What do you think? Could your neighborhood use a little rhythm? Could you rent out the apartment to one of the Sandoval or Contreras relatives?”

“They’re not interested,” Mother said as we strolled around her neighborhood. “That’s the house where the Smiths live; they’re Black. Professor López lives up that street. Dr. Rao lives further out that street than I walk before breakfast...”

Kingsport’s factories have been bringing in skilled, sophisticated, educated foreigners for a long time. Some Kingsporters, unlike most lifelong residents of my town, probably can tell whether they’re hearing Spanish or Arabic. They’ve never been particularly prejudiced...that’s due to change, once they get their slum.

I took this up on Twitter one day while I was waiting for someone else to finish something else. I asked people who were bashing Carson’s efforts to mitigate the worst features of AFFH to identify one benefit AFFH has had for anybody. I got some hate-the-outsider responses...but nobody claimed that, in any part of North America, AFFH has done anything good for any person.

10. Nobody Even Discusses Issues Any More

There was a time when the Democratic Party was the party of ideas that might or might not have been sustainable, but did, unlike AFFH, offer some benefits for some people, at least after they'd been hammered out into compromises with the other party:

* Public schools, although the D’s flipflopped from mandatory segregation to mandatory desegregation.

* College tuition grants for those who can use them, although the D’s also built into the system the plan that colleges would continue raising tuition so that grants would make it possible for only one or two generations to go to college.

* The right of laborers to form unions, although the D’s failed to respect the right of laborers to discard unions that aren’t working for them.

* The right of professional people to set standards for themselves, although the D’s failed to make a clear distinction between qualification based on the quality of service and qualification based on the payment of fees.

* Shelters where homeless people can sleep indoors without being detained against their will the next day, although many report flaws in the D’s management of the system, notably after weather disasters have left many people homeless.

* A welfare safety net, although it was designed with room for abuse and is now being abused.

* An end to the vile Vietnam War, although D’s started that one.

* And, in the twentieth century, a big increase in the number of formerly “modern,” water-flush toilets.

The D’s could campaign on the idea of maintenance and improvement. I seem to remember a time when they did that.

Even in the 1990s when they were campaigning on something close to that, however, a split was visible between the leaders and the base in the Party of the Burro. A detailed study was preserved online for several years; I still have a printout of it at home. There was little agreement between  the two most noticeable types of Democrats:

1. Party Base: Relatively poor, undereducated, overworked and/or unpaid, either dependent on tax-funded handouts or anticipating that they will be. Single parents, or parents who deliberately become single to qualify for handouts. Social Security pensioners, including people who’ve made careers of claiming “mental disabilities,” which some of them actually seem to have. Members of obscure but solid little Black and Spanish-speaking churches. Not very vocal, often somewhat ashamed of themselves, and not necessarily on speaking terms with one another, this demographic tend to uphold “conservative” social mores (marriage for life, employment rather than welfare) but they vote for the handouts on which they’re dependent.

2. Party Leaders: Relatively affluent, over-educated and under-employed, thus free to make party leadership a career. They always thought they wanted some form of full-blown Socialism. At their most likable, like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders, they are politically unqualified to represent anyone including their party’s larger demographic groups. They arouse reactions of “I’m sure s/he would be a nice neighbor to have but his/her politics are totally out of date. S/He should retire.”

There’s even more cultural diversity among Republicans, a party Abraham Lincoln would be unlikely to recognize, but they have been right on one point: Socialism is not sustainable. No nation can plan on continuing “growth” from perpetual expansion of the population. Social Security worked only when a substantial majority of people were employed and few people survived many years of “retirement.” Urban crowding is more toxic and impoverishing than rural poverty used to be. Let us try to be charitable about the water-flush toilets.

The idea of central grids for utilities was not a D campaign slogan, but it was something D’s supported. In my part of the world many people successfully avoided the “benefits” of centralized water systems, a few managed to stay off the electric power grid, and we’ve never even had a gas grid. As a result we have a relatively low cost and high standard of living and have taken in refugees from the cities in weather emergencies. The built-in problems with central grids are a physical illustration of the built-in problems with socialist systems generally. D’s have a lot of work to do, decentralizing the physical and social “systems” and restoring independence to people who needed them as a safety net in the past.

Personally I could get behind a Democratic Party that was willing to fix the flaws in my grandparents’ Democratic Party innovations. There was a time in my twenties when I self-identified as Green. It was a short time because the Green Party was quickly taken over by old Socialists, but I was brought up to be True Green, not Republican.

As for the R’s...fiscal conservatism is the strongest plank in the Republican Party’s platform. I do believe we need that. I’ve voted for Republicans as being the more conservative because I do think we’re still close to fiscal disaster, but as we’ve all seen, R’s are no more likely to be fiscally conservative than D’s are to have a clue about how to offer real help to the poor. When you have only two major parties for a country the size of these United States, a lot of dead wood is to be expected in both of them. I’ve always been a registered Independent.

Let’s put it this way. I have certain standards for myself, as a Christian, that inform my (independent and bipartisan) politics. One of those standards is that connection between money, mouth, and back. I’ve not met a lot of people who could be considered my peers in terms of living up to this standard. Some of the ones I have met were D’s, like Mitch Snyder and Zahara Heckscher. But by the standard of doing, themselves, what they claim to believe ought to be done, I’d be surprised if even half the people in either party were anything but dead wood. It is more conspicuous, currently, among D’s.

11. Exploitation

Nobody who’s been alive for fifty years can credibly pretend to think people are really good at heart. Children may feel that, in some moods. Adults know that, if and when people are good, their goodness comes from the head—rational thought, conscious choice, will to carry out decisions—rather than the emotional “heart.” If people do choose to be brave, honest, and generous, it’s not because they feel those things but because they discipline themselves to do those things.

“Compassion fatigue” was a name older baby-boomers adopted, years ago, for what I see Americans now feeling in reaction to the “Don’t you even caaaare” style of political rhetoric. No, actually, we don’t even caaare, or at least not so much as to be willing to do whatever the people who haul out a tale of someone’s woe are trying to manipulate us to do. We’ve figured out that some of the woes reported to us have been misreported, and others deliberately contrived, by people who stand to get money by exploiting their distress.

One thing that can seem like a real difference of belief, between Christians and Humanists, may actually be a matter of neurology. Some Humanists are emotionally stirred by big numbers, the idea of huge crowds of people. To me a huge crowd of people is a dangerous mess, a big number is an abstraction on a computer screen, and numbers of people don’t mean much. “Hitler killed six million Jews! Six million! Six million!” some people scream. “Ohhh, how can people be so horrible as to question the numbers about which everybody on both sides was motivated and able to lie? It was six million!” I don’t know about the six million but I know that, in my mind, that’s not a number of human beings; that’s a number of flies. I got a sense of the evil of the Third Reich by reading Anne Frank’s memoir about six Jews. I have to tell myself to care about anyone killing six million of anything, but I instinctively feel that killing Anne Frank and her family was evil. In a similar manner I can’t imagine what’s going to be done about a load of “refugees” the size of a city, but I can imagine ways to help José, who is a great guy, and Juanita, with the four little children. Bigger numbers add up to more compassion fatigue, for me.

I don’t doubt that my tendency to be more interested in, and willing to believe, smaller numbers has something to do with my peculiar form of dyslexia but it is also based in experience. Someone talking in small numbers, “Three of the fifty refugees our organization brought in are staying in my basement,” is likely to be sincere. Someone talking in big numbers is likely to be using statistics to manipulate people.

Which was the case with the refugees, and the concern about the refugees at Making Light.

I don’t doubt that some refugees are real, some of their stories may even be reasonably factual, and some of them are people you and I would want to help, but after literally hundreds of hatespews from mean D’s and polite distractions from nicer ones, someone finally did explain why nobody wanted to cheer the original poster with reports of anything they were doing on a smaller, more efficient level to help those refugees they cared about so much.

The anguish was not actually about the refugees being helped, at all.

It was about a specific federal program the D’s were hoping to use, by way of a desperate funding boondoggle D baby-boomers were hoping to depend on.

We NEED those immigrants, and they need safe homes -- without them we will not have the numbers needed to keep both Social Security and Medicare viable.
Because we are not replacing our population in the numbers we used to, if we DO NOT get enough immigrants we will find ourselves in the same situation as Japan -- an aging population without enough younger workers to care for them.

They did not and do not want to help José or Juanita . They wanted, specifically, for the federal government to bring in a certain batch of refugees, to place them in certain jobs that would create  not a second class of citizens but a class of non-citizens, to be taxed to fund certain benefits to these very very humanitarian and empathetic D’s.

These D’s are affluent baby-boomers. We kicked around the topic of White privilege right on that blog post. We’re not talking about the “and then I’ll be out on the streets, and winter’s coming on” kind of angst. We are talking about a very Bohemian Bourgeois kind of concern that, if they’re unable to collect the handout and forced to live entirely on their own private bank accounts, they’ll be forced to settle for like really slow Internet service, and limited cable TV, and they might even be obliged to cook their own food.

But the maggots finally raised their heads out of the mire to be counted. The people screaming about those refugees in caaages, and the oooonly way to help them being to vote for D’s, and what a horrible person you are if you don’t even caaare enough to do what they tell you, when they tell you...those people are not actually concerned about the needs of José and Juanita. They’re concerned about a scheme to import refugees to fund their own financial gain.

Sad when old D’s, who must once have been young idealistic D’s, come down to that.

Siento mucho, señora, I tweeted in response to a photo of a Guatemalan woman with four children. (Guatemala is a beautiful country, the home of some very nice people.) I’m very sorry, Ma’am; my country has nothing to offer you. As a neighbor you might well be worth twenty of the people who have told you to come here. That would not be so very difficult. But there are no jobs that would pay enough for you to live on here and, although someone ought to have a nice basement apartment waiting for you, so far as I know no one has. Guatemala is your country. Go home and make it great.

U.S. citizens who say “It’s appalling that in José’s town the druggies have made it a tradition to murder a retired policeman every year. José happens to be a former policeman. José is also a good carpenter, and we need him in this neighborhood,” are likely to be doing something real for José and people like him. But the ones who can only chant “Hundreds and thousands of refugees in caaages!” are not.

12. Immediate Conclusions

When billions of people have a two-party system, change is the only constant that defines the two parties. The idea that matters most to the electorate this year is not the one that mattered most last year, or will matter most next year.

Racism, specifically, is just an outdated idea. That Trump has cultivated an obnoxious manner, nobody could deny. That he sees himself as one of those repulsive Ayn Rand heroes, rather than the world’s foremost illustration of “The Flaws in Capitalism,” seems likely. Ayn Rand heroes know they’re superior to the rest of humankind and are right to despise the less successful. They despise their own “weaker” relatives abundantly, and then there are whole nations of people different from them, about whom they know nothing and care less but they suspect, based on historical records, that those people are “weaker” in the same ways their relatives are. Trump has learned to work with women and ethnic-minority types on equal terms, while continuing to despise them in the same way he despises everyone who is not Trump. For him that’s as much as can be expected, although we could try using attention to improve his manners.

Racism has no business in the election rhetoric of 2018 but, since the D’s are racist enough to have planned to continue exploiting it, racism is a valid reason to vote...against D’s.