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What to do

What to do

What to do

I mean

What to do when you’re running against an administration that’s imperiling the rule of law, the democratic process, human rights, race relations, honesty, international stability, and everything else you’d thought the US could maybe pull off?

You run a first thing’s first campaign:

In this four years, we take care of the threats to democracy, we pivot away from money-driven lobbyist-bought sound-bite image-drunk politics to a thoughtful shared conversation. We make every voting day (second Tuesday in November once every two years) a national holiday and voting obligatory, starting in eleventh or twelfth grade (when you take US Government in high school, depending on how it lines up with the election year). We push against gerrymandering and other distortions of the people’s will. We stand up for for human rights, shared concentration and joy, clarity and honesty, international cooperation,and everything else necessary to avoid idiotic flame outs.

For the nonce, we pick policies that make obvious sense to everyone: shore up Obamacare; pursue a greener infrastructure repair; and so on.

You don’t need free college or free healthcare. We can moderate spending on education and healthcare without reinventing wheels.

We can come up with a humane and workable immigration policy that admits the issue is not dead easy to deal with. We can be free trade without being suckers. We can be decidedly-not-Trump without blowing off all the concerns of those who voted for Trump. We can put together a moderate program that reinvigorates the democratic process and our shared journey, and that addresses our global need to move quickly and decisively towards a more sustainable use of natural resources. We can move sure and clear.

It’s not about giving up on all your big ideas. It’s about picking a few politically doable and existentially necessary issues and spending four years on them. After that, you can think again about the next four years. But for now, help us to get out of this jam!!!!!!

AW/BW
copyright AMW

An Ad for “First Loves” that also pushes The Something Deeperism Institute

An Ad for “First Loves” that also pushes The Something Deeperism Institute

Of course, many of the essays in our upcoming “First Essays” are only found in the book “First Essays”, soon to be released (like this weekend).

But some of the book’s essays we consider a basic public service and have accordingly posted online for all to read.

We’re speaking here of the fundamentals of Something Deeperism, which we firmly believe should be not just available, but actively foisted upon everyone in the world.

We’re referring, of course, to our Institute of Something Deeperism https://www.from-bartleby.com/something-deeperism-institute/

Maybe, yes maybe, some of the essays there are little dull. And maybe some of the essayists repeat themselves a little much. And maybe some of the dogmatism is a little ossified and chipping and/or flaking at the edges. And maybe life is short and difficult, and the answers are not clear.

We’re referring, of course, to our Institute of Something Deeperism https://www.from-bartleby.com/something-deeperism-institute/

Maybe, yes maybe, some of the essays there are little dull. And maybe some of the essayists repeat themselves a little much. And maybe some of the dogmatism is a little ossified and chipping or flaking at the edges. And maybe life is short and difficult, and the answers are not clear.

Still, one thing I know for sure; or at least sternly and longingly and desperately imagine:
A Simpler Shared Something Deeperism https://www.from-bartleby.com/a-simpler-shared-something-deeperism/ is not too tedious.

Author: Who else?
Editor: Uh huh!
Copyright: AM Watson

on long legs

on long legs

long legged land striders
fling themselves across the grass-waving plains
On their backs we ride
mile upon endless mile
flung forward with long leaping strides
and now we understand
freedom
and the air clear and blue

Author: BW
Editor: AW
Copyright: AMW

Nope

Nope

Bartleby: Nope.

Amble: No.

Reporter Reporter: I don’t understand.

Bartleby: Have to read it once more.

Amble: Next weekend.

RR: Why not tomorrow?

Bartleby: Copyright holder’s constraints.

Amble: Paper mounds drown. Ceilings leak and boilers fail. People tell him he’s no good, that he doesn’t care since (they assume) his ceiling doesn’t leak and his boiler works.

RR: But surely these physical and psychological interruptions cannot be allowed to delay such a great spiritual, emotional, and intellectual achievement!

Bartleby: Now comes five days of stressful boredom invading and boiling through the system. Not much literature can be accomplished in this painfully loud hubbub.

Amble: Can’t be helped.

RR: It seems a great misallocation of resources.

Bartleby: Mmm. If you want me, I’m turning into a blue whale to settle upon the sandy ocean floor, thinking nothing.

Amble: Did you ever even read “First Loves”?

RR: Well …

Amble: Did you?

RR: Not in the actual, literal sense. But aren’t you guys all about non-literal senses?

Amble: So there you go! You’ve got a week’s worth of reading ahead of you.

Bartleby: It’s not that long. I don’t see why you need a week. How come no one’s bought that book, anyway?

Amble: Anyway, time to drift on out.

Bartleby: What’s wrong with it? Doesn’t Something Deeperism and Pure Love meander gently through its fictions like a nutrient- and life-rich muggymuddy river winds through the grateful plains?

Amble: I don’t know. I can’t remember. So long ago. So many shoulder shrugs between then and now.

RR: You heard it here first, folks! “First Essays” delayed! A sad scoop, but a scoop none the less! Terrible news, but still a notch on my belt! You heard it here first!

Author: Bartleby Willard
Editor: Amble Whistletown
Copyright Holder: Andrew Mackenzie Watson

Eve of the big day

Eve of the big day

R. Reporter: Hello I’m Reporter Reporter, here with Bartleby Willard and Amble Whistletown on November 2, 2019, the night before the release of their upcoming essay collection “First Essays”. Hi guys!

Bartleby: Hi.

Amble: Hey.

RR: So! Big moment!

Bartleby: Yeah

Amble: Glad to be done.

RR: I bet! Glad to be getting your thoughts out there, too I bet.

Bartleby: We’re not done yet. We’re going to work on it some more tomorrow.

Amble: We’re basically done.

RR: It must feel good to put together a coherent and livable philosophy.

Bartleby: It would if we could do it. Maybe tomorrow when we get up early and start the whole project over from zero. Maybe this time!

Amble: It will be released tomorrow and then we’ll stop thinking about whether or not we’ve adequately sketched Something Deeperism.

RR: The book is causing a lot of buzz all over the globe. Many anticipate progress not just in the whys and hows of Something Deeperism, but also — and concomitantly — with our understanding of consciousness, free will, and enlightenment. Not to give anything away, and understanding that no one can live up to the kind of hype you guys have been getting here, but, people wanna know: can you deliver?

Bartleby: Maybe if we can shake off the Evil and stand up for real within ourselves tomorrow morning. Maybe if we can find the rhythm and sustain it.

Amble: The book will be OK. Not sure how much it will add to humanity’s understanding of anything, but open-minded/-hearted readers will be rewarded. We hope. Honestly we’ve gotten so tangled up in the process that it is hard for us to assess the book. Basically pretty good. Repeats itself too much, but we just gotta be done. And Bartleby keeps adding things!

Bartleby: Will the God help us? Why won’t the God help us? What is the sin keeping us from adequate insight into Godlight?

R. Reporter: OK! That’s Bartleby Willard and Amble Whistletown, author and editor duo of “First Loves”, released in September of this year, and of “First Essays”, set for international erelease tomorrow, November 3, 2019.

Bartleby: Unless the contours are off and the Hurt overpowers our vision. Then we won’t be able to publish anything tomorrow.

Amble: Any bit of the book that gives us trouble tomorrow will be cut. We are releasing the book tomorrow.

R. Reporter: OK! There you have it! Men with a vision! Heartening! Nice to see!

Author: B. Willard
Editor: A. Whistletown
Producer: R. Reporter
Copyright: AM Watson

demon dogs rising

demon dogs rising

did I tell you that?
did I tell you how they slobber forward through curved snapping fangs?
Demon dogs on the rise and the small little Truth being squished down like tender curling petals in between pavers gray and smooth slanting the morning rain and cool beneath a gray sky.

did I tell you that?

Trump and a functioning democracy

Trump and a functioning democracy

“I worked with John Kelly, and he was totally unequipped to handle the genius of our great President.”

This from White House Secretary Stephanie Grisham, following up Trump’s denial of former White House chief of staff John Kelly’s claim that he told Trump if he surrounded himself with yes-men he’d get himself impeached.

This from the politburo of the USSR. This from the state-run press of North Korea. This right before a well-choreographed flag-spinning ceremony dedicated to our fearless leader and mighty national savior, protector of all we survey and further than even our most majestic and quickest thoughts can reach. This from a place with no functioning democracy. This is not the type of talk that is accepted in non-tyrannies.

Trump’s PoliFact scorecard has 5% True, 10% Mostly True; 14% Half True; 21% Mostly False; 35% False; 15% Pants on Fire.

Compare that to Obama’s: 20% True; 27% Mostly True; 26% Half True; 12% Mostly False; 12% False; 1% Pants on Fire.

Adding up Mostly False through Pants on Fire, Trump = 71%; Obama = 25%

Politicians will spin the facts; that’s why we need fact checkers; but Trump blatantly lies all the time, and allowing that to go unchecked in the highest office of the land is not conducive to a functioning democracy.

This running tally by the ACLU of President Trump’s actions and statements against press freedoms also highlights his anger issues, extreme narcissism, and eagerness to subvert democratic norms in favor of the confusion and chaos-sowing approach favored by petty tyrants.

It all just goes much too far.

And then of course there’s the the Mueller report. David Frum in the Atlantic gives a nice synopsis of the findings:

“A foreign power interfered in the U.S. election to help the Trump campaign. The Trump campaign welcomed the help and repeatedly lied about it. The lying successfully obscured some questions the investigation sought to answer; in the end, it found insufficient evidence to charge a broader conspiracy. President Trump, in public and in private, worked to stop the investigation.”

And now a clear and verified attempt to leverage US foreign aid to coerce a foreign country into helping Trump dig up dirt on a political rival.

And of course, there’s his consistent praise of authoritarian leaders.

And while there may be no easy answers to the question of how to control immigration, cruelty at the border harms both our national interests and all our souls.

Is he crazy just like a fox? Does he just not understand what corruption is and why it is harmful? Does he just believe that the ends justify the means? (they don’t: that rabbit hole only takes one deeper and deeper into worse and worse means and more and more confused ends: reference the rise of Lenin and Stalin). Whatever is going on with Trump, accepting it is not something that happens in a functioning democracy.

“So we clearly don’t have a functioning democracy! Like I said all along!” That kind of talk helps the chaos win. And it isn’t fair. We as a nation have not completely caved in to Trump. We’ve pushed back on his rhetoric, his policies, and on his corruption. No human system is perfect. But we have had better moments and we are now duty-bound to move away from this mistake and towards a better government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

This is not a time for either crowing or cynicking. We humans are all bound up in each other and we are all to some degree responsible for everything and everyone. We are all in this together. Without rule of law, chaos reigns, and chaos is not kind. We must therefore work together to push towards a wiser and wiser rule of law. And this basic system of popular elections, balance of powers, anti-corruption safeguards, freedom of speech and press, capitalism tempered with judicious regulation and redistribution: this is workable: this can help us all move together towards more health, wealth, stability, awareness, honesty, clarity, accuracy, competency, kindness, and shared joy. We should work here with what we’ve still got.

The Democratic candidates have been incorporating the existential crisis of democracy at home and abroad in their campaigns. That’s cool. But maybe this election they should take that a step further and pledge that, if elected, they will put some of their more ambitious plans on the shelf for four years so they can focus on bringing us as a nation back into a stable, calmer, more politically coherent and manageable place.

A wealth tax is still probably sensible, since we are like $22 Trillion in debt, our infrastructure is aging, climate change is happening, and, as I pointed out earlier, if done correctly, a wealth tax can be a gentle, fair, and relatively painless correction against overconcentrations of capital and the concomitant power. And environment, education, health care, foreign policy, and gun control all need immediate attention.

But for this first term, why not keep the emphasis on nudging? For example, shore up Obamacare, allow states and municipalities sovereignty over their own gun laws, use a wealth tax and an expansion of the HaHaThat’sWhatYouGetForDying! Tax (that linguistic choice as a brechtian fourth-wall break: as a way to openly confront the sleight of hand when they started calling the “inheritance tax” the “death tax”) to fund green-leaning infrastructure projects and other clear public goods like education and healthcare.

And why not at least a gentle turn towards more fundamentally sensible healthcare? One that prioritized healthy eating and exercise over pills? I can’t even imagine the math for how much incredible much money we’d save if everyone got really into eating real food, instead of all this processed upchuck. But this by the way.

I’m saying to the democratic hopefuls that maybe you should make a curtailed contract with all of America for this first election. In the second one, you can reassess and perhaps chase a more ambitious agenda. But for now be the presidential candidate that we can all get on board with. Don’t promise everything in your first term. Promise a consistent effort to help us move away from the damage that Trump has done to democratic norms, and a gentle push towards a more sustainable and workable government, economy, and political reality. Gentle! Break your website down into “If I’m elected for four years” and “To be considered if, after four years, I think it wise to run again”. That wouldn’t be betraying your vision. It would be noting that part of what needs to happen here is for the political passions to cool while we as a nation get to work on our shared objectives.

Also, could we reach together for our shared spiritual center? Like we talk about in https://www.from-bartleby.com/a-simpler-shared-something-deeperism/ and Duties of a Republics Citizenry [See The Something Deeperism Institute for more on this general worldview that we humans can relate meaningfully to the Truth, just not 1:1/literal/definitive/exclusive.]

Author: Pigeon Wright, professor of wandering around talking to himself
editor: BW/AW
copyright: Andrew M Watson