Love Manifested

“Love is free. Free is love. Love is living. Living Love. Love is needing to be loved.” — John Lennon

Author’s Note: I will be leaving on a week long vacation after today and I’m not bringing a computer. Hopefully the world will not end while I am gone.

Yesterday, we talked a little about how religious people should vote. I didn’t actually identify who they should vote for really. I’ve always hated when people at church did that. Occasionally, they would give us pamphlets with pro life candidates and assert that it was our Christian duty to vote for these folks. I promised myself I would never do that. So far I’ve kept that promise, but it gets harder and harder each day.

As Christians, Jesus gave us two great commandments. The first one was to love God with all of our heart, strength, and soul. The second was to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. It really was that simple. It’s always that simple. So, if our politics is to mirror our religion then our politics should be a manifestation of that love.

So, the main question from here is what love looks like. Admittedly, it can look like a lot of different things to different people. That’s why we have different political parties in the first place. Even if we just use our own children, some people believe in a tougher love than others. Some give their children anything they would ever want or need while others make their children earn what they want. Both could be seen as manifestations of love.

The Texas GOP released it’s official platform the other day. To those unadulterated to politics, the platform would be akin to the creed we say at mass. It is a statement of beliefs. The Democrats haven’t released theirs’s yet. So, we are left with the one to go over in our space here.

Jesus was kind. Jesus was loving. In fact, most people would assert that Jesus was the manifestation of love itself in the human form. He ate with the outcasts of the society. He forgave sinners. He preached about forgiveness. He made things simple while also making them complex. It would seem that the same would be true of our government.

When you love someone you take care of them. You feed them when they are hungry. You clothe them when they are cold. You heal them when they are sick. You welcome them when they are strangers. You forgive them when they have done you wrong. You provide them shelter from the cold. You see them when they feel lost and alone. You do all of these things to all God’s people because whatever you have done to the least of these you have done unto me. It’s almost like I’ve read that somewhere before.

The Texas GOP made a number of statements in their platform. I’m not going to tell you not to vote for them. After all, people must collectively decide for themselves what love looks like for them. I would just ask that everyone read that platform and answer one basic question. Is that love? Is that how we are called to love? Is it love at all?

What’s a Catholic to do?

“Hate. It has caused a lot of problems in the world, but it has not solved one yet.” — Maya Angelou

Of course, one could expand this topic to include all Christians. I give it this title because I was sitting there at a retreat for our young people and my daughter. I enjoy volunteering with them because it keeps me fairly young and it keeps me fairly busy. Occasionally, I get to offer some pearls of wisdom to them, but most of the time I just listen.

In this case, I was listening to one of the other adult volunteers and she was talking about life issues. She immediately cut into Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi because they advertised that they were Catholic and yet took stances that took them on the Pro-Choice side of things. I definitely kept my mouth shut there. She did add that she didn’t feel that the church should deny them Eucharist.

We went on to talk about life issues beyond abortion. We talked about the death penalty. We talked a little bit about war. However, the main thrust of the conversation concerned the entire timeline of issues that preserving and protecting life come to. It was a realization that no major political party in the United States supports life at all stages.

I didn’t ask her how she votes and I certainly didn’t volunteer my preferences. However, it did get me to thinking about how someone that considers themselves a dedicated Catholic or a dedicated Christian of any denomination needs to go on election day.

There are really three roads that people can travel on this issue. The old way was one where people did not participate in politics at all. They did not vote. They did not support any particular candidate because there was no particular candidate that held all of their beliefs. This was certainly personally satisfying in a way I’m sure. You could make the statement that you couldn’t support anyone that doesn’t support all of your values.

The trouble there is that if enough people do that then the votes being cast come from people that don’t share your values. Your values are not being represented. Therefore the people representing us in government would not have our values. What values would they have at that point? Would they have any values?

The second tact to take is one where you choose one or two key issues and vote on those issues. I used to have a principal that used the motto, “it matters.” It sounded really good. The upshot was that it all mattered. Everything matters. Except that’s really not true. Everything cannot matter. As harsh as it is to say, if everything matters then nothing matters.

This is why Jesus gave us two commandments. If we love our neighbor as we love ourselves and if we love God with everything we got then we are following all of the important rules. If we try to follow all of the kosher laws or try to follow all of the rules of the church we will fail. We are destined to fail anyway, but no one can follow hundreds of laws religiously without fail. It just won’t happen.

The same thing happens when we try to implement a progressive agenda. We bounce to each new thing because we are caring people that care about a lot of things. Except we run into people that care about one or two things. They care about those things all the time. They care about them 24/7 and so they have the patience to wait us out and watch us move onto the next thing. So, some Catholics (and other Christians) have identified those one or two things and chosen to camp themselves there.

The final way to look at politics is simply to vote for who you think is the best person. That means taking issues holistically. It means voting for a preponderance of the evidence in terms of stances and points of view. It means that a candidate might disagree with you on a key issue. In fact, it is almost a guarantee that they will. However, you still vote for them because you know they agree with you more often than they don’t.

As you might have gathered, that is usually the way I go. A number of issues are complicated and so I try and find the candidate I think is the best person. I usually vote for one party over another and those that read this regularly know which one that is. It’s because that party agrees with me more often. My belief is that they agree with the church and my faith more often. Of course, there is always room for disagreement and there is always more than one way to look at things.

The Loathsome Self-Own

“And the sand-castle virtues are all swept away in
The tidal destruction
The moral melee.” — Ian Anderson

Stories like these have so many layers. The surface level is always easiest. The punchlines write themselves and in this case it is quite literally true. You don’t have to write anything. You just republish and let the rest of the chips fall where they may.

Far be it for me to point a couple of things for Boebert’s benefit. After all, if karma is a cosmic force that rules our lives independently then we can definitely chalk this up to karma. However, I would direct your attention to the date of her tweet. It occurred in July of 2021. Allow this to be a lesson to the young. When you say something stupid there are always receipts. Make no mistake, they will be drug out at the worst (or best) possible time.

It should also be pointed out that she is not only denying the horrible rumors that made that tweet a punchline, but is also taking legal action. Quite frankly, the rumors about her and Ted Cruz are not only likely false, but also a worse punishment for progressives’ imaginations than a negative for conservatives.

We’ve now reached level two of the sordid story. I’m not sure how these rumors serve the efforts of Democrats, progressives, or liberals. Even if we pretend those three are aligned in this instance we would heed the sentiments from a similar subplot in the “West Wing” when one of the characters tried to get rid of a right wing politician. She has no power and is probably better for Democratic fundraising than anyone could be in her position.

Level three asks us to lean into the accusations for a moment. Let’s pretend she did get multiple abortions. Yes, that goes directly against what she preaches now, but we have no way of knowing whether she came to that position honestly. People are allowed to change their minds. They are allowed to seek redemption. Shaming someone (no matter how unsavory they are) for getting an abortion kind of flies in the face of what the pro-choice movement is all about. So, I’m not sure how effective the barb is at the end of the day.

Of course, the final sick layer is that of slut shaming itself. Naturally, this is one where men naturally need to wait on the sidelines. Swinging at that tweet above would be like flailing away at a slider in the dirt. Nothing good can come from it. I’ll let The Young Turk’s Ana Kasparian go there. She will have to deal with the fallout of arguing for female empowerment while slut shaming in nearly the same breath. Sure, that tweet is like a hanging slider over the heart of the plate. Swinging knocks the joke out of the park, but also makes you look petty in the long run.

Ethos is Dead

“Sometimes it’s not in our power to choose just what we keep and what we lose. And those who can’t see beyond the cost should consider this tale and what was lost. It ought to sway even a doubting Thomas: Better to lose your purse and keep your promise!”– Robert Browning

The powers that be have chosen to change the STAAR test. Naturally, it seems to have a bigger impact on English classes than any other content area. For one, our (I support English classes primarily) test scores were already lower than the other content areas. Secondly, they are adding even more writing to a test that was the only one to have writing as a component. Finally, they are removing the persuasive essay and don’t plan to tell us what it will be replaced with.

Taking a step back for a moment, I can see the wisdom behind this move. You want writing to be more authentic and having a set essay genre allows teachers to teach and reteach to the point where writing is formulaic. Yet, something is lost in the process. We used to teach our students about ethos, pathos, and logos. I’m not sure we are going to do that.

At the end of the day, teaching kids Shakespeare, Twain, Miller, Dickens, Fitzgerald, and Steinbeck is certainly fun for us. We get to the point where we know these stories frontwards and backwards and when that happens there are all kinds of nuggets you can find. I’m certain there are life lessons in those great works of fiction and having to analyze them is a portable skill that can help down the road. However, it pales in comparison to reading, listening, and watching the grounded work of those trying to persuade them to think a certain way or to buy something.

Ethos, pathos, and logos was the foundation of that lesson. From there we could move onto logical fallacies that advertisers often use and begin to look at the tricks those in politics use to persuade us. Ethos is very simply the credibility that someone has. Credibility is earned. It isn’t given away. At least it shouldn’t be.

One of the things that struck me in the comments on my recent posts was the fact that my posts rely heavily on logos (facts). We know that pathos (emotion) is more powerful and effective in getting people to buy things or buy a certain point of view. My talent as a writer doesn’t allow me to do that for whatever reason. That isn’t a backhanded statement. Those close to me have asked me if I would try my hand at writing a novel. While I can develop stories in a general sense, I just don’t have the creative juices to create in that way. Quite frankly, I envy those that do.

As you might surmise, pathos is a potentially dangerous tool. It certainly is powerful when accompanied by facts, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s what makes it dangerous. The facts can strengthen an argument, but the key is the story. If the story rings true then it must be. We teach our students to do that. We teach them they can make stuff up because those grading the test are more likely to give them a good grade if they pull at the heartstrings. We are cultivating a whole generation of liars.

The normal arc of persuasion used to be that if someone proved they were reliable with their facts and knowledgeable of their area of study then they would develop credibility. With credibility they could simply fall back on their expertise. We would listen to them because they know what they are talking about.

The idea of “do your own research” sounds wonderful in a vacuum. It says that we shouldn’t rely on anyone’s credibility. Except we have to. No one is capable of going through the painstaking process of verifying everything. Ultimately, subject area experts do that in their area of study and work. We might “do our own research” but inevitably that ends up being a Google search where we find someone that reinforces what we already think. Maybe a YouTube video is involved. If so, so much the better.

So, we find ourselves listening to some jackass we’ve never heard of, never verified, never vetted, or scrutinized. He or she is somehow given credibility they have never earned. We are led by the nose by our heartstrings. We believe because it just feels true. We believe because its made simple for us. Simple is easy. Except none of it is really true. The truth is never simple. It might be brief. It might be succinct. The verbiage might be easy to understand, but it is never easy.

What do we do now?

“You told me that I would find a hole within the fragile substance of my soul. And I have filled this void with things unreal. And all the while my character it steals.” — Marcus Mumford

One of the things that loyal readers of this blog have asked me (all seven of them) is to outline a battle plan for liberals, progressives, and Democrats. Admittedly, those are three different things and that’s one of the things that presents a problem. However, it is a fair question. It’s one thing to complain about what is going on. It’s completely another to actually do something about it.

All three of those groups above suffer from a number of afflictions that naturally limit their collective effectiveness. The first is that they collectively agree on so few things. When you are a part of a group that demands action and demands that the government actually do things to better the lives of its citizens then you are at a marked disadvantage because it is easier to unite behind doing nothing. Nothing is not controversial. Nothing is one action. It’s easy to unite behind that.

The second problem these groups have is messaging. Even when we agree, we seem to have difficulty with articulating what we want. People want bumper stickers. They want simple slogans. They don’t want to think. When you find yourself explaining something then you usually find yourself on the defensive. When we explain things they still don’t understand. They understand simple and unfortunately the simple things we come up with often scare people away.

My first suggestion is easy and yet it hasn’t successfully been done. We have a list of problems people commonly agree on. At least we agree that they are problems. The first thing you do is list all of the things that you have done to fix those problems. That includes mostly legislation passed by the House. You include what the bill was generally, how many Republicans voted for it, and what percentage of Americans were in favor of it. Usually, these things died in the Senate and that’s also something you have to mention.

Believe it or not, Congress has enacted 139 laws since January 3, 2021. So, Congress is always acting more than people think. Most of these laws are ones you’ve never heard of, but it always is a good idea to remind them of the good stuff you have done. How many Republicans voted for those measures? What percentage of Americans were in favor of those measures?

The picture you begin to see is the fact that Democrats (be they progressive, liberal, or moderate) are trying to address our nation’s problems. The way they are addressing them are popular with a majority of the American people. The other side is not. They are actively blocking those things even when a majority of the people want them.

The second thing we need to do is the harder thing. Hearts and minds are tough to change, but the conservatives in this country have managed to beat the drum on gas prices, supply chain issues, and inflation. They have pulled off two major coups. First, they have convinced enough people that these are the main issues of the day. Secondly, they have managed to successfully blame Joe Biden.

You can tell people that the president doesn’t set the gas prices. You can tell people that the president can’t control world markets. You can tell people that world markets are terribly complex and susceptible to numerous factors out of everyone’s control. Then, you are explaining. When you are explaining you are losing.

This one is hard because it requires resetting people’s priorities. If the price of gas is the most important thing in your life then you don’t have much of a life. If the availability of a particular product or rising costs of goods are the most important thing then you’ve lost them. In many cases it will be. Some people can’t be bothered to care about quality of life issues. They can’t be bothered to care about safety. They can’t be bothered to care about anyone else’s life and how it has been improved by something Democrats have actively done. You won’t capture everyone or even most. You can capture some.

From there, you simply circle back to what is currently being done to alleviate that problem. You also go back to the fact that the other side hasn’t done a damn thing or even suggested a damn thing. They’ll tell you something Biden has supposedly done wrong. Make sure to fact check those things. Did he actually do that? If he did then did it have the negative impact those people say it did? Again, we won’t capture the majority, but we can capture some. Some is what we need.

What are we doing?

“I’m just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round. I really love to watch them roll. No longer riding on the merry go round. I just had to let it go.” — John Lennon

Sometimes the irony is palatable and tragic. The words above are from John Lennon’s last hit. These things are arguable. We define hits in many ways and some people will yank out minute facts about when specific songs on his last album were actually recorded. All that being said, the message of the song and unfortunate future events collide for a very poignant message.

The January 6th commission is finally releasing its work. They chose to do it during prime time over the course of several days. We are one day in. We seem to be following this pattern day after day, week after week, and year after year. We know exactly what happened. We’ve always known exactly what happened. Hearing it again is both shocking and familiar. Either you will hear it and nod in agreement or you will think it’s fake news. I’m not sure anyone will actually see their opinion change.

This has all been mentioned before, but here we are. So, let’s add up some things and put it all together to see if we can paint a picture. In the entirety of his life, Donald Trump has successfully done only one thing. He’s cultivated an image that he is a successful and a smart businessman. That’s it. If you look at any success he’s had it is all connected to that one thing. The Apprentice, frauds like Trump University, the presidency, all of this can be traced back to that one thing.

The fact that he’s a failed businessman hasn’t really sunk in with the people that support him. So, when you look at his failures as president, they all get laid at someone else’s feet. They are someone else’s fault or they didn’t happen at all. Naturally, it also manages to seep into the natural defense he is able to use when any of these horribly illegal activities get brought back to his door.

All of the fraud over collusion, the attempting strong arming of the Ukrainian president, the attempted overturning of the 2020 election, and the attempting coup on January 6th all didn’t work. They failed spectacularly. Not only did he not meet his objective, but he failed in such spectacular fashion and did such a horrible job covering it up that it all seems so unbelievable.

How does someone so successful fail so miserably? If he really is that smart and that successful then he must not have done it. There really is no other logical explanation. After all, a smart and successful businessman would have clearly succeeded somewhere along the way because he had done so all those times before when he was making billions of dollars.

Except, that was all a fraud. Any success he may have had he stumbled into. Trump Steaks? Trump Vodka? Trump Airlines? These were all spectacular failures. Not only did those businesses fail, but they failed in spectacular fashion. The reality of Trump is as a failed businessman. It is the reality of a blowhard that really is empty when you get past the bravado. It is the reality of a man that could easily fail in all of these plots when you acknowledge what he really is.

The reality is that when you attempt to collude with the enemy. When you attempt to overthrow the government. When you attempt to circumvent our laws to get dirt on an opponent. When you attempt to strongarm someone into committing election fraud you have broken the law. The attempt is still breaking the law. The fact that all of these were unsuccessful doesn’t matter. It’s still breaking the law.

The defense that a brilliant and successful businessman wouldn’t fail so spectacularly is the fraud. Strip everything down and Trump is the guy that holds up the bank without a mask, a bag with a hole in the bottom, and a carrot in his pocket in place of the gun. It’s stupid to the point of being comical. It’s still a crime. It’s haphazard, laughable, and pathetic, but it’s still a crime. Yet, if the commission’s obvious breakdown of these events don’t lead to arrests and convictions then it will be just another episode of the Keystone Cops. Those that know he’s an idiot will know he’s guilty. Those that think he’s brilliant won’t. Those are the facts of the case and they are undisputed.

The Space Between

“The space between our wicked lies
Is where we hope to keep safe from the pain.” — Dave Matthews

Personal blogs come in handy every now and then. I write for a number of different sites. One of those is called Battle Red Blog. It is a Houston Texans fan site. I don’t get paid for these things, but it keeps me sane. Writing has always come fairly easy for me. I’m not sure why and I wish I could do more with it because it is what I enjoy doing more than anything else in the world.

Normally, I would comment on the Deshaun Watson situation there, but BRB is run by a family of blogs for all of the teams throughout all of the sports. They seem pretty cool about allowing us some leeway in stating our opinion, but even they have their limits. At any rate, I am relatively new over there, so I don’t want to rock the boat.

I was accepted over there because I have a love of analytics. The base word behind analytics is analyze. I love doing that too. I have to do that at my job as we have to take test scores and other performance markers and analyze them so that we can identify where students need the most help. So, whether it’s baseball, politics. football, or student performance it is all the same basic thing.

Analyzing human behavior is more psychology. I got a masters degree in that too. It’s funny how these things melt together. The Deshaun Watson situation is something I have written about more than once. From a clinical point of view, it is fascinating to see how private behavior and public perception collide. However, I suppose I should catch up everyone that may not be following the story.

Apparently, the Houston Texans have officially been included in the civil suits against Watson. According to those reports, they provided him with a private suite at the Houstonian so he could have a spot for his massages. They also provided him with non-disclosure agreements (often called NDAs) to protect his privacy. The lawsuit alleges that they knew about what he was doing and were enabling it. The Texans have denied any prior knowledge and argued that NDAs are used regularly to protect athletes’ privacy generally in any number of situations.

What we know is that Watson contacted at least 66 different women over the course of 17 months. It isn’t clear how many massages he had with these women or how often they turned sexual, but it is fairly clear that many turned sexual. This is of course where things get dicey. His own lawyer asserted that “happy endings” are not illegal if they were not specifically paid for. I’m assuming he would also say that are not illegal if they weren’t acquired through coercion or force.

Sports are entertainment. It’s hard to say where each league has to protect it’s interests like the parent company that runs our Texans blog. Officially, Watson has not been charged with anything. Unofficially, he has been sued by 24 different women and had to sit through two grand jury deliberations. Some of them accused him of criminal assault and while he was not charged, those accusations are sitting out there in the court of public opinion.

In the whirlwind that is cancel culture, public relations, and entertainment comes the unscientific calculation of how valuable someone can be to your organization in comparison to the deficits he brings through bad behavior. Is sex with 66 women in 17 months illegal? He’s an unmarried famous athlete with money, natural charisma, and a substantial appetite for sex. Is that inherently bad or wrong?

I think most fans would say yes. Even if you set aside the nefarious ways in which he met his needs, those fans would still say yes. Add in the fact that it allegedly happened with some coercion and you have yourself an all holy mess. The unfortunate thing in society is that we have unequal justice for these folks. A top five NFL quarterback can do this and still work. Can a second string linebacker get away with that? How about a common everyday lawyer, doctor, construction worker, or teacher? What if you’re flipping burgers at the neighborhood McDonald’s? All those people have different amounts of leeway depending on the perceived value of the skills they bring. It’s all very seedy and it’s all very nebulous. It’s part of the analysis of life where facts are few and conjecture is plenty.

The Hate is Real

“And now you’re punching and you’re kicking and you’re shouting at me.” — Martin Gore

As hopefully everyone knows, June is pride month. That not only means that we see more people in media celebrating the progress that the LGTBQ+ community has made. It means that we see all of the haters come out of the woodwork. Boy howdy, there are some doozies.

One Texas pastor wants the death penalty for “gays.” I suppose he probably means everyone in the LGTBQ+ community, but who can say for sure? The amount of vitriol in Christianity over homosexuality is beyond the pale. I suppose this pastor could be considered the most extreme, but you haven’t heard the worst yet.

What does God say is the answer, is the solution, for the homosexual in 2022, here in the New Testament, here in the Book of Romans?” Awes asked. “That they are worthy of death! These people should be put to death!” “They should be lined up against the wall and shot in the back of the head.”

https://www.newsweek.com/pastor-gay-people-solution-killings-bible-1714037

Far be it for me to dispute the “learned” pastor as I only have my A in “Introduction to the Bible” class at TCU to measure against whatever is on his resume. I have been a Sunday school teacher for over 20 years, so there is that. Yet, the word homosexual never appears in the Bible. They do describe it in a few places, but they certainly don’t mention shooting them. It would be kind of hard considering they missed the invention of the gun by over 1500 years.

Of course, whether the Bible condemns homosexuality specifically is hotly debated. Certainly the concept of transgender, non-binary, or any other relatively new designation is nowhere to be found in the Bible. So, the easiest thing we could say is that the preacher in question is taking a few liberties with the holy text.

Unfortunately, he is also missing the whole story in context. Jesus dedicated his time to sinners. He broke bread with the outcasts of society. He healed the sick and cured the blind. He certainly didn’t condemn anyone to death. I’m pretty positive that he never got out of his 22 caliber pistol and shot anyone in the back of the head. I suppose it’s possible I missed that part of the gospels, but I’m pretty sure I’m on solid ground here.

At the end of the day what are we talking about here? Ultimately, those that have been bestowed with the awesome responsibility of leading a congregation are the connection that non-believers have with whoever God is. God has been many things to many people. He is vengeful and angry. He is loving and forgiving. The God they see is the God you show them. If the God you show them is frightening and capricious then they will not have a connection with him. If the God you show them is so judgmental of his own creation that he would be willing to kill then they will reject that God. They must reject him and in the process reject you as well.

Protection from Protectors

“The predator wants your silence. It feeds their power, entitlement, and they want to feed your shame.” — Viola Davis

Someone beat me to the punch. I’ve never promised to be first in this business. After all, this is something I do in my spare time. One of my favorite spots already covered this in great detail. The Ohio state legislature apparently has legalized groping and invasion of privacy. They are calling it protection. See, they want to protect young girls of the indignity of competing against transgender girls in youth sports.

I definitely invite you to click on the link. It is a well-written piece that covers a lot of the seeded underbelly of conservative politics these days. You always have to wonder about people who are so interested in little girls, porn, and whatever else this is.

Somewhere in the space between performative politics, right wing hysteria, and mendacious posturing lies the true decay of the human spirit. Whatever you think of this dingbat, just remember her husband was arrested for exposing himself to two minors at a bowling alley. Still, I guess we should give Boebert credit for not suggesting we take our kids there.

We could write a whole book on the relationship between the public pronouncements that people make and the dirty behind the scenes reasons for those announcements. We will have to take the Ohio legislature and their pronouncements at face value for now.

As a former coach of girls volleyball, it never occurred to me to question whether anyone we were playing was actually a girl. My first high school team routinely played teams a lot bigger and stronger than them. We lost most of those games. As far as I could tell, no one was worse for the wear. If anyone ended up having difficulty in life it wasn’t because they lost to a team of girls that used to be boys. The notion is patently ridiculous.

Like I said, the writer in the post linked above covered all of the salacious things we can assume are going on. I am more bummed out by what has happened to youth sports in general. Families routinely pay 2000 dollars or more a year to play club volleyball (or other club sports) so their daughters can effectively keep up with their classmates. Most competitive high school programs expect their players to do this. You don’t get ahead if you don’t.

These are not for fun leagues. There are two to three practices a week and in most clubs, playing time is hotly contested. Let’s forget that we are paying that money for our daughter to grow as a player and get more experience. Let’s forget we are paying the exact same as everyone else. Fun? Well, that was forgotten a long time ago.

The bill in question gives coaches, parents, and other “interested bystanders” the right to question girls as young as ten. Could you imagine thinking any event that a ten year old is participating in is so important as to subject a young girl to that? Sure, someone is getting their jollies I suppose, but there is something else at play here.

At some point, kids need to be kids and a part of being a kid is being able to play a game without their futures, self-esteem, and worth in the community riding on the outcome. Sometimes a game just needs to be a game. Sometimes keeping score isn’t a big deal. No one is going to remember who won a game between ten year olds 20 years later. We might remember a funny thing that happened or when we got the big hit or the crucial basket, but we won’t remember the damn score.

Admittedly, I have probably taken the least important facet of this discussion to focus on, but it needs to be said. The learned representative from Colorado demonstrates this daily. We focus on crap that doesn’t matter. How many people are really taking their kids to a drag bar? How many people are obsessing over whether a ten year old girl is really a girl? If we are obsessing over these things then what in the hell are we actually getting done about the problems people do worry about? Of course, that’s the whole idea. If we focus on the stupid, trivial nonsense then no one will figure out that we are morally and intellectually bankrupt on the important stuff.

Zombie Industries

“Yesterday. All my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they’re here to stay. Oh, I believe in yesterday.” — Paul McCartney

When I was a kid, I used to go to a speech therapist. She was employed at the school. Ms. Francis made me do a lot of things I was uncomfortable with, but they ended up being godsends. For instance, I was voluntold to emcee all of the student events at the school. I know my parents were grateful, so it only made sense that we would go to her husband’s toy store south of us. It was a little further then my parents wanted to drive, but he also was great a repairing toys.

Fast-forward forty years and that store is no longer there. In fact, Toys Are Us has closed their doors and no one repairs toys anymore. No one delivers ice or milk door to door anymore. Sears is virtually dead and Montgomery Ward is dead too. Blockbuster Video came and went along with the other mom and pop video stores.

Change is a part of history. Usually it is for the better, but I suppose that’s debatable. We can make our own ice now. We can drive the few minutes to the grocery store to get our milk. We can stream just about any movie we want any time we want. However, every once in awhile we miss that personal touch that those people brought to us. It makes the world a more lonely place and certainly a less personal one.

That’s likely the psychology at play when conservatives fight tooth and nail to keep coal and gas alive. Trains are probably the only major thing that uses coal. Even many of them don’t do that anymore. Homes certainly don’t use coal anymore and there are fewer coal miners in the United States than people working at JC Penny. I should add that JC Penny is another business that’s likely to be dead by the end of the decade.

So, coal is literally dead industry walking. People usually call those zombies. I don’t want to underscore the fear and anxiety that is caused by being a part of a dying industry. What do I do now? What else am I trained for? How do I feed my family? These are questions that have historically had answers, but those answers didn’t come overnight. Politicians could help in that regard, but they are too busy feeding that anxiety.

That brings us to oil and gas. A high school classmate of mine published a picture of the gas prices where he lives. They were over nine dollars a gallon. We can calmly explain rudimentary concepts of supply and demand. We can calmly explain that we knew this would happen. They taught us this in social studies classes. Fossil fuels are a finite resource. One day they will be gone. I don’t know exactly when that day will be, but I know we’ve been discussing it for at least forty years.

Another of his friends (one I debated with over guns) chose to lambast the Green New Deal. It has become the bogeyman for those resistant to change. He said there was no way that our infrastructure could handle a nation full of electric cars. So, somehow the left is responsible for the market collapsing before our very eyes. Then, we get the not so subtle misunderstanding of what the Green New Deal was all about.

It’s not even a single piece of legislation really. The whole idea is that we know coal and gas will go away and needs to go away. We know the environment can’t withstand unlimited amounts of emissions. We know that renewable energy is ultimately safer, cheaper, and better for the environment. We know that it would lead to energy independence. We know if we start making the transition now then those working in those industries can make smoother transitions to something else.

It’s really the tale of two businesses. Blockbuster video assessed onerous late fees and convenience charges to bleed out every drop of blood out of that rock. They’re dead. Netflix began as a competitor that tried to make renting movies easier. They also saw the future and became one of the first streaming services. They’ve stayed in business while Blockbuster is long gone. Similarly, energy companies can be a part of the next wave or they can go the way of Blockbuster. No politician will be able to prevent that. No politician should try.