The Very Best, The Very Worst

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness.” — Charles Dickens

The Ahmaud Arbery case clearly shows how good our justice system could be. That’s until you actually pay attention to everything that went into that case. You had someone from law enforcement (though retired) taking the law and throwing it down on its ear.

You had a prosecutor using judgment so outrageous that they ended up being charged with a crime. You had someone filming the whole incident in what could be described as either the height of foolishness, act of real foresight, or strategy gone wrong. You had the trial itself that was anything but smooth. We obviously have high-minded ways of describing this collision of misshapen events, but the kids probably have pegged it best. They call it a “shit show.”

Yet, after all of that malarkey, justice was somehow served. The guilty parties were actually found guilty. While that explanation seems so far out of whack to Arbery’s friends and family, it is far better than the alternative up in Wisconsin. It hardly qualifies as the best of times, but in comparison I guess it will have to do.

In the background somewhere off camera is the debate over critical race theory. On the one hand, one can easily say that justice was served, so why the need to discuss race? Except we can’t avoid looking at how it was served. We can’t avoid looking at why it was served. We can’t avoid the feeling that it would very likely have not been served at all save a little stupid luck along the way. If the footage of the murder had not been captured on camera and sent to the right people it would have never been served.

Sometimes these things are captured for posterity sake and justice still isn’t served. More often than not it isn’t. When we were young, our elders taught us that character is made up of the things we do when no one is watching. Maybe we take the extra cookie or slack off at work when the supervisor is out. That’s small potatoes. If we pervert justice because we can, then do we really need a high-minded academic theory to tell us we’ve done it? Is it really that difficult to imagine it happening more often?

Most people are smart enough to take only one extra cookie from the cookie jar. They don’t raid the whole thing because that would be too obvious. Justice isn’t grotesquely biased on most occasions. That would be too obvious. We eat around at the corners until the advantage is clear. We do it so that we have plausible deniability. So yes, justice was served. It was only served because the whole world was watching. Still, there are times when even that is not enough.

The Missing Pieces

“You may never know where you fit, but others will fill the holes in their lives with pieces of you.”– Bonnie Arlen

When I was much younger, one of our parish priests decided to read a book for his homily (sermon). He read “The Missing Piece” by Shel Silverstein. I suppose it says something that I remember this some thirty plus years later. I’ve mentioned the book before because I find it so extraordinary that such a profound message could be found in something so simple. Obviously, Silverstein wrote a whole lot more and the last time I referenced him, other people included other works and creative efforts I had not seen at that point.

Naturally, the story embraces our brokenness and thus our need for others in our lives. So, it seems a weird juxtaposition to talk about the things missing in our lives as if we’d be better off if they were discovered again. After all, the whole idea of the book is that we are better off not finding those things.

However, with all that’s going on and with the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, my thoughts have been centered on that which we once had and see seemingly slipping away. A feeling is difficult to describe and the absence of a feeling is even more difficult.

I’ve been describing one all week and seemingly longer that that. The absence of shame is both hard to describe and hard to handle. Shame is what keeps us in check. Public shaming is a delicate process. It’s absolutely necessary to keep the guard rails around our society strong and yet some take it way too far. They hold onto it for too long. The key is making sure each person knows they screwed up all the while giving them an out if they are willing to do the work to make the most of the opportunity. Shame and redemption go hand in hand.

Unfortunately, it also goes hand in hand with something else. I think that something else was at the core of the message of Silverstein’s work. That message was a message of interconnectedness. In one of my posts, I led with the line that “I can be someone’s and still be my own.” Such a line drills to the absolute core of our humanity.

When you ask people what separates us from the animals you usually get something like opposable thumbs, a complex set of laws, or the ability to reason. Those things are true to some degree, but the truest answer might be the interconnectedness between us. Animals travel in packs, schools, flocks, and other groups. Some are more compassionate than others towards those in their chosen group. None particularly care for those outside their group. Yet, they do adapt.

Our cat had a recent spell where he was coughing on a regular basis. It sounded like he was hacking up a hair ball but nothing seemed to come out. Our dog became very concerned. He tried to comfort the cat and went to us to fix the problem. Obviously, we couldn’t but the thought that he had adopted the cat as his own was remarkable.

Our politics and our popular culture has been dominated by a man seemingly incapable of any of that. Yet that man didn’t arise in a vacuum. He rose because he reflected enough of us to gain power. He still reflects enough of us because he never quite goes away. He reflects us with his racism, nativism, xenophobia, sexism, graft, and amoral outlook. More importantly, he reflects us because of our unwillingness to do the most basic things for the benefit of others. We can’t seemingly muster the same concern our dog does for our cat.

So, we don’t get a vaccine that could protect society. We don’t wear masks that could protect those around us. That is seemingly new. What we have seen before is our unwillingness to pay our fair share so everyone can have a very basic standard of living and care. We protest anytime someone suggests we do somehting to help someone else. What is in it for me?

So, which came first? The absence of shame could be said to lead to the absence of interconnectedness. The lack of interconnectedness could be said to lead to the absence of shame. Either way, it’s difficult to know whether these things are fixable. Can we cultivate shame? Can we teach naturally selfish people to see other people as an extension of their own self? I suppose we will find out.

Laying the Groundwork

“Just as every cop is a criminal and all the sinners saints. As heads is tails just call me Lucifer cause I’m in need of some restraint.”– Mick Jagger

Yesterday, it occurred to me that while I shot down (see what I did there) the notion of arming ourselves to the teeth, I never really offered an alternative to fighting in the world we’ve found ourselves in. This world didn’t arrive just yesterday and it didn’t arrive because of one or two bad acts. It’s been a series of bad acts and most happened while we weren’t paying attention.

We’ve talked about this before. I think everyone here is familiar enough with the concept of gerrymandering. Yet, I don’t think even the original conservatives that developed the concept could quite concieve how it all turned out. I say conservatives and not Republicans because we must acknowledge the truth in history. In the South that used to describe the Democrats. So, it isn’t so much a party thing as a thing designed to lock out those that would create more diversity in the system.

With diversity comes more ideas. More ideas tend to reflect what the public wants. When you whet the appetite of a willing public they tend to want more. Programs like social security, Medicare, and now the Affordable Care Act were controversial at the time, but immensely popular once people got used to them.

The gerrymandering of districts was originally designed to keep stuff like this from happening, but it has done so much more and probably more than the architects of it originally intended. Those that study the competitiveness of House races have noticed something over time. Well under half are decided by ten points or less either way. Since the Supreme Court neutered the Voting Rights Act, the gap has been widening.

Of course, the Supreme Court is just one example of how gerrymandering has reared its ugly head. The Republicans have won exactly won election by majority since 1988. Yet, there is a 6-3 court on the conservative side and prominent Republicans are trying to convince us the country is center-right. What exactly is the evidence of that?

The damage is two-fold. Sure, we could look at this narrowly and say there are more Republicans in government than the demographics suggest their should be. Yet, that’s a small way to look at it. The secret lies in the non-competitive nature of those districts. Well over 300 of the 435 districts are currently non-competitive. If I don’t have to convince a majority to vote for me then I don’t have to be reasonable. I don’t have to compromise. In fact, the more extreme I can be the better.

If you want to fix what ails us you fix our democracy. Simply put, Congress needs to reflect the values of the people. If you look at individual planks of the legislation that passes the House (but not the Senate) then you’ll see that even a majority of people that consider themselves Republican consider them to be good ideas. So, it isn’t about Republicans vs. Democrats or any kind of a shift in the values that people actually have. Most people believe in fairness. Most people believe in compassion. Most people believe in human decency. We just have a system that rewards people that don’t believe in those things.

Those people then get to appoint our judges. Those judges then become the arbiters of justice. Sure, we notice huge trials like the Rittenhouse trial, but the key are the smaller ones no one pays attention to on a daily basis. They are the ones that incarcerate hundreds of thousands of people on drug charges or fail to protect women from would be predators. When heads repeatedly becomes tails it can catch up with you. When up is repeatedly force fed to us as down it takes its toll. People of a lesser mind come to believe justice is actually being served. People of a greater mind see the injustice and become either angry or apathetic. Neither serves us well.

We know how to fix it, but the question is whether we have the will to do it. We simply take the drawing of districts out of human hands. Studies have shown that computers can draw districts that can flip the switch. Instead of over 300 non-competitive districts we would have over 300 competitive ones. Suddenly the Lauren Boeberts and Majorie Taylor Greenes go away. You might lose the occasional AOC or Sheila Jackson Lee too. Either that or those politicians learn to speak to a larger demographic. I imagine some would adapt and some wouldn’t. What would remain would be a body politic that would reflect the real values of those that vote for them. Then come the judges and everyone else on down. It won’t happen overnight, but we didn’t get here overnight either. It just seems like we did.

A Path Forward

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’s so.” — Mark Twain

A friend asked me what my reaction was to the Rittenhouse verdict. It occurred to me that I had voiced my opinion elsewhere but not here. Of course, I knew what the verdict was going to be before it came in. It was obvious to anyone watching that the fix was in. While the verdict upset me, it was the reactions after the fact that concerned me more.

Recent years have popularized the term “doubling down.” The concept comes from Black Jack when you double your bet because you have a good hand. The question then comes when you double down with a horrible hand. You only get one more card in that instance, so your bad play also effects the rest of the table. The analogy actually works pretty well.

Conservatives have taken the verdict and have somehow started doing a victory dance. They want Rittenhouse to sue the media for spreading lies about him. They somehow think he should be glorified as a kind of hero. There are plenty of pictures of Rittenhouse joking around and posing with Proud Boys are grinning like an idiot in the back of the police car that very night.

I have a masters in school counseling. Admittedly, that’s not the same thing as being a licensed professional counselor or those that move on to get a doctorate in psychology. However, what I don’t know and likely never will is whether some people literally have no shame. It kind of depends on your point of view I guess.

Those that study sociopaths and psychopaths will say that they know right from wrong, but just don’t care. Therefore, it is relevant to question whether they have a conscience they have managed to find the off switch on or whether they never had one in the first place. What we are finding now is that we are dealing with a growing group of people that seemingly have no conscience and therefore have no shame.

This isn’t about believing that the shootings were justified or not. This is not what I’m talking about and any effort to argue that misses the whole point. The point is how to deal with people that don’t seem to have a sense of shame when they have been caught doing something wrong. We do this every day. People do shady stuff every day. We sneak a treat here or some of us cheat in other ways. We sneak because we know it’s wrong. We sneak because we actually care what others think. We sneak because of the shame we would feel if we were caught.

So again, this isn’t even about the shooting anymore. Lauren Boebert is a perfect illustration. During the debate over whether Paul Gosar should be stripped of his committee assignments and censured she spoke in his defense. Her defense wasn’t even a defense. She just launched an attack against another member of the House. It was hate speech based on bullshit in the very moment where the body was debating what to do about someone else’s hate speech and threats of violence. The timing was truly ironic and yet it was just evidence of lack of shame.

In this world it can be difficult to choose a path forward. I’ve heard suggestions of progressives arming themselves and taking their own AR-15s to every protest. The Black Panthers did the same thing in the 1960s. Suddenly, the apperarance of black people with guns changed their tune really quickly. So, the tactic has worked and I understand the impulse.

In short, the idea is to shut off the portion of our brain that activates shame. I’m not sure that’s the answer. The answer for me is to continue to highlight our own personal morality and broadcast that to the world. If we do that then we can become the moral authority we need. Some people will never be redeemed. That’s just the way the world works. Most people can be redeemed and if we give them a honest choice then we can win them over. They just have to see a choice between moral authority and nihilism. If a majority truly wants the later it won’t matter how many guns we carry anyway.

Malaise Continued

“Think I’ll spend eternity in the city
Let the carbon and monoxide choke my thoughts away.” — Darryl Hall

Yesterday I had assumed that we would have had a verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case. Amazingly, this seems to be the case where time stands still. It boggles the mind that the latest hopes for humanity are thrust upon the jurors that were selected in this case. That hope would be wasted on the judge.

In what started out as a simple case of a kid shooting three people has turned into a circus where victims are not victims, shooters are not killers, and protesters get labeled as rioters, looters, and arsonists. Judges turn into jackasses and justice takes a holiday as racism seems to be the order of the day. Maybe hell isn’t all that far away.

In the past week we’ve taken a look at gadflies, jackasses, provocateurs, and everything else in between. Matt Gaetz (who could credibly be called any or all of those things) has stepped up to the plate. He has offered a job to Rittenhouse once he gets out of this whole legal origami. He could work for Gaetz as a Congressional page.

This news registers as an eleven on the irony meter. Congressional pages are supposed to be the best of the best. So, it is particularly telling that the very best Gaetz can come up with is a kid that killed two people. Oh, that’s right, he was defending himself in a situation so dangerous that he had to leave his home and drive a number of miles just to find it. It was a situation so dire that out of all of the histrionics of the evening, he was the only one that fired a weapon.

The irony wouldn’t be complete without a man greasing the skids himself offering a position. Maybe Rittenhouse can be his page when Gaetz finds himself in some cushy country club prison. Maybe we can see how tough he is when he doesn’t have an AR-15 attached at the hip. The fact that neither are in jail and likely won’t be for awhile is the perfect backdrop as the mendacity and double standards choke our thoughts away.

The best we can hope for is jury nullification. Maybe just one person will be so disgusted by the footsie going on between the judge and the defense to vote guilty and hang the jury. Maybe they could have another trial that gets assigned to someone that actually wants to act like an impartial jurist. Maybe someone will wake up amidst this horrible nightmare of whataboutism and realize that after all of the antics and all of the mumbo jumbo that Rittenhouse shot and killed two people. These are the facts and they are undisputed.

Wallow in Shame

“Rape, murder, it’s just a shot away
It’s just a shot away.” — Mick Jagger

As I write this it should be noted that the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case has not been reported. By the time you read this, it likely has already come down. I’m notoriously not a gambling man, but if I were I’d lay down heavy odds that he’s walking home. I’m not a soothsayer here, after all more than me is saying the same thing.

I’m sure Pavlovitz is not the only one saying that as well. We are a country divided. We are divided between folks that know the truth when it slaps us right in the face and those that somehow make excuses for it. I’m sure you’ve seen both on your social media feeds. Now, conservatives have honed in on the fact that he didn’t bring the gun across state lines. So, obviously that excuses the fact that a 17 year old kid had an AR-15.

There have long been arguments about self-defense and it’s one of those discussions where I feel I must be taking crazy pills. At this point, I’m not arguing anymore. There really is no point in it. If someone can’t see the plain truth that is right in front of them then they likely never will. Many of these folks are people we used to count as friends. Some of them are family. It hurts to even think about what they are at this point.

The topic Pavlovitz danced around that should be attacked head on is the shame. Where does it go? If you see the truth then you definitely feel it. When you see such a huge miscarriage of justice it’s hard to feel anything else. Our justice system seems capable of slowly making up for egregious errors in justice. Wrongfully convicted folks can appeal. They can challenge issues of law. They can introduce new evidence that wasn’t introduced before. There have been hundreds of folks that have had their guilty verdict set aside.

These aren’t perfect scenarios. There is no getting back the time lost. Yet, one of the miracles of our justice system is the fact that this avenue is available at all. What really isn’t available is the ability to overcome a rogue judge or an odious jury that is willing to put their thumbs on the scales of justice. Victims don’t get a second bite at that apple. They can’t wipe away an ineffective prosecution team or shoddy police investigation. To date, there is very little recourse for their families or those that care about them. They can’t cry foul when they see that the fix is in.

Shame leads to dark places. It can’t go anywhere and there is little we can do about it. It piles on itself and the weight becomes crippling. We can’t look each other in the eye because we know all too well what is going on. We can call it by name, but the unwoke mob will call it cancel culture and try to minimize the shame. They’ll trivialize it. They’ll poke fun at you for it. They’ll hang it like an albatross around your neck.

When someone like Rittenhouse walks away it eats just a little bit more out of our soul. It feeds that depression that so many of us feel. It stacks on top of the other shameful events that we can’t erase or explain away. It just stays there weighing us all down. Maybe those deniers can’t see it. Maybe they can’t hear it. Maybe they don’t know it’s there. They certainly will feel it at some point and by then it will be too late. By then the weight may crush us all.

The Caretaker President

“She just can’t be chained
To a life where nothing’s gained
Or nothing’s lost, at such a cost.” — Mick Jagger

Admittedly, this happens in sports all the time. Occasionally it even happens in matters of religion. The concept is easy enough and we know it here in Houston as good as anyone. The Texans and Rockets are rebuilding. It didn’t make sense to hire a big time coach and no big time coach would want either position anyway. So, you hire a caretaker.

The caretaker is usually a nice guy that is calm, relaxed, and won’t rock the boat one way or the other. They know their role. They know they are there to calm things down and put things right. They also know they are not going to be there very long.

As you might suspect, there are folks better at this than others. The Texans managed to hire themselves a dud. The whole point is whether you can envision success with the caretaker. We all know there won’t be success, but we have to be able to envision it. We simply can’t envision it in his case.

Pope Benedict the 16th was a caretaker pope. John Paul II was a reformer and the church knew another reformer was in the offing. Pope Francis has turned out to be that guy. So, the church put in another caretaker for a few years to keep everything calm. That’s the whole idea. Don’t do anything major. Just be competent and let things calm down.

This brings us to the current president. Through no fault of his own, Barack Obama was a volatile president. Again, it had nothing to do with him. He had a steady hand and a level head, but he also was guilty of presidenting while black. So, everything he did seemed radical whether it was in reality or not. He was followed by the most volatile president in our nation’s history.

No matter what anyone could say about the 45th president, they had to admit he was volatile. There was a scandal every day. People were hired and fired at breakneck speed, and seemingly every week there was a new comment that angered the opposition. Even if you supported him you had to come away from the presidency exhausted.

Enter Joe Biden. Biden hasn’t done much. He’s put us back in the Paris Climate Accords. He’s organized the vaccine rollout to the point where everyone that has wanted to vaccine has gotten one and ahead of the schedule he promised. He stabilized the economy to the point where we have had growth again. Now, Congress has passed infrastructure reform and he has signed it.

Yet, after all of that Biden can’t win. A minority of Americans think he is doing a good job. Progressives want more and they want it now. Conservatives don’t want any of it and they have been programmed to hate him. The anti-vaxxers seem to think all of these mandates harken back to Nazi Germany and everyone else just wants them to sit down, shut up, and get the shot.

In order for us to really determine whether he is doing a good job we need to identify the job he is supposed to do. If people really wanted a reformer they would have elected any other candidate in the Democratic primary. You had Bernie Sanders. You had Elizabeth Warren. You had Kamela Harris. You had Pete Buttigieg. Any one of them would have been a more effective reformer. With the exception of Sanders, any one of them could possibly still be a candidate in the future.

What most Americans wanted was a few simple things. They wanted someone competent to administer us through the pandemic. Despite the anti-vaxxers best efforts, Biden has done that. They wanted someone that wouldn’t generate headlines every day. Everyone was just tired of having the president in our face saying or doing something stupid. He has certainly done that.

Unfortunately, when you follow the Tasmanian devil president you spend most of your time cleaning up his mess. No one likes cleaning up messes. Whether you want to sit and watch television or do something more productive around the house, cleaning up a mess keeps you from doing that. When the president does that it is easy to be dissatisfied. There are so many things we would rather he be doing, but he can’t. He has to spend time putting everything right, so maybe we should cut him some slack.

Resistance is Futile

“A very merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year,
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear.” — John Lennon

There are apparently three kinds of people in this world. There are Star Wars people. There are Star Trek people. There are people that make fun of Star Wars and Star Trek people. In the Next Generation series of Star Trek there was an enemy known as the borg. Not being a huge Star Trek fan, I couldn’t tell you exactly what the borg was or what the point was, but I just remember it spreading like some kind of virus.

They always uttered the same line: “resistance is futile.” I’ve come to imagine a lot of things through that prism these days. We have a local hospital that has taken over an old shopping center and forced those businesses out. It became the hospital borg. In a similar way, Fox News has levied a generational war on behalf of Christmas. Resistance is futile.

Apparently, there is this unspoken and unknown force trying to change everyone into a happy holidays contingent. One could imagine Starbucks being convinced that an unnamed coffee shop were trying to muscle in on their territory or maybe Jack n the Box suddenly threatening McDonald’s. Christmas has about as much of a chance of being overwhelmed in any so-called war.

Instead, you drive through neighborhoods and see Christmas lights go up immediately after Halloween. The local radio station converts over to Christmas music at the same time and blares all Christmas music all the time through the new year. Mariah Carey starts humming her bars once the last firework goes off on the fourth of July.

On the one hand, I’m not sure there is really any harm in it. Is there anything wrong with becoming a member of the borg? On the other hand, I’m also not sure that the season retains its meaning when it begins to encroach on October and completely engulfs Thanksgiving. Resistance is futile.

Fox has nearly perfected the art of playing the victim all the while acting like the quintessential bully. I suppose that’s usually how these things work. Obnoxious people should feel free to shout “Merry Christmas” in the face of those that obviously don’t celebrate it because it is their right. Thus, we somehow ignore one of the meanings of the season by ignoring civility and acting like a jackass.

We have always resisted the temptation of decorating before Thanksgiving. It is the least we can do. However, I have decided that the problem is people like Carey. We need some Thanksgiving songs. Maybe someone can write a little ditty about football, turkey, and stuffing. Anything that could stave off the Christmas borg would be greatly appreciated.

The Origins of the Gadfly

“Jai guru deva, om
Nothing’s gonna change my world.” — John Lennon

The first time I saw the word gadfly being used was in “The Apology” which was written by Aristotle. It was the story of the trial of Socrates where he was eventually put to death for crimes against Athens. Socrates’ story is an interesting one. Essentially, he was told by the oracle that he was the wisest man in Athens. Then (according to him), he spent the remainder of his life trying to prove the oracle wrong.

Anyone that is well read knows that he ended up proving the oracle right. That’s at least according to him. At some point, his death becomes understandable if you look at things from the Athenians point of view. You have this guy that does nothing but tell you how unwise you are. Yup, we gotta get rid of that guy. He’s as annoying as hell.

This point came up in a discussion surrounding one of my pieces on the other site. I likened AOC to a gadfly and someone else didn’t like the characterization. It presented like “bothsidesism” (it’s own term that needs exploration) because people like Matt Gaetz, Majorie Taylor Greene, and Lauren Boebert consider themselves to be gadflies as well.

I suppose you can consider yourself to be anything, but there is a fine line between being a gadfly and just being a jackass. The John Lennon song referenced above is a perfect example. Before he utters the line above he throws out this gem, “Pools of sorrow, waves of joy are drifting through my opened mind.” I naturally didn’t know Lennon personally, but from what I do know and reading the lyrics as I do I’m guessing he was being unintentionally ironic. It is somewhat maddening that brilliance gets heaped on a man that stumbled into it like the humor of a Chris Farley sketch.

I can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing he never grasped the sardonic humor of singing about an open mind immediately preceding saying that nothing was going to change his world. Thus, we see the subtle differences between a gadfly and a jackass. One bites at you in the hopes that you will some day see the light. The other offers no light because they have no light to offer. They bite at you because they need the attention.

Of course, these subtle differences get lost on a lot of folks. While the gadfly seems like a small and insignificant being, it is something of substance. Socrates had something to say. AOC has something to say. These other folks really don’t. That’s the difference.

Is there a floor?

“I guess this is our last goodbye
And you don’t care, so I won’t cry.” — Gordon Sumner

There are famous lows in our nation’s history. I suppose one would see the signs beforehand, but everything is a lot clearer in the rearview mirror. We could see the signs of Civil War when we look backwards. I wonder what they saw when Charles Sumner was beaten to an inch of his life on the Senate floor in 1856.

Will we look back on this latest flap over Rep. Paul Gosar as a blip on the radar or a precursor of things to come? For those that don’t want to go down the rabbit hole, essentially Gosar released a video on Twitter and Instagram of him killing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes and also stabbing President Biden. As always, it is the aftermath of this situation that is so disjarring.

Democratic leadership is at a loss of what to do. On a number of levels I get it. A lot of this has to do with the momentum thing I discussed earlier this week. How much political capital do you want to expend to get rid of a guy that probably has zero political power? It was a lot like dealing with Marjorie Taylor Greene. If you do too much you end up martyring a nobody and giving them more oxygen. If you don’t do enough you encourage the behavior.

Kevin McCarthy apparently has been neutered for his own protection. He is not willing to stand up to anybody or anything. He’s the kid on the playground that all the bullies hit up for his lunch money. The only question is which bully will get to him first.

AOC is one of the more polarizing members of Congress. She might be the most polarizing member of Congress. Even for Democrats, you feel like you alternately love her and then want to shake some sense into her. That’s what happens when you speak your mind and never self-censor yourself. On some level, it is enviable that someone can go through life like that. On another it is frightening to see someone get that much vitriol for just speaking their mind.

In one of the oddities of this case, Gosar’s sister is one of his most vocal critics. That must be an interesting family come Thanksgiving. I think everyone should keep their head on a swivel lest the gravy bowl wind up on top of their head. However, no one can disagree with a word she says.

Everyone remembers the story of Kathy Griffin and the flap over 45’s severed head. The comedian had a somewhat promising career that went up in smoke. People don’t think that even subtle threats are funny and it doesn’t particularly matter who the subject is. Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree on this much.

That was a B-list comedian doing that. Now it is an actual member of Congress. I suppose there can be no greater illustration of where we are as a country. On one side, fringe entertainers are going a bridge too far or sound crazy. On the other side, actual representatives are going a bridge too far and sound crazy. Unfortunately, some people still don’t see the difference.