Debt Ceiling

By Paul Krugman

As soon as Republicans took control of the House last November, it was obvious that they would try to take the economy hostage by refusing to raise the federal debt limit. After all, that’s what they did in 2011 — and hard as it may be to believe, the Tea Party Republicans were sober and sane compared to the MAGA crew. So it was also obvious that the Biden administration needed a strategy to head off the looming crisis.

More and more, however, it looks as if there never was a strategy beyond wishful thinking. I hope that I’m wrong about this — that President Joe Biden will, at the last minute, unveil an effective counter to GOP blackmail. He may even be forced to do so, as I’ll explain in a bit. But right now, I have a sick feeling about all of this. What were they thinking? How can they have been caught so off-guard by something that everyone who’s paying attention saw coming?

For those somehow new to this, the United States has a weird and dysfunctional system in which Congress enacts legislation that determines federal spending and revenue, but then, if this legislation leads to a budget deficit, must vote a second time to authorize borrowing to cover the deficit. If even one house of Congress refuses to raise the debt limit, the U.S. government will go into default, with possibly catastrophic financial and economic effects.

This weird aspect of budgeting allows a party that is sufficiently ruthless, sufficiently indifferent to the havoc it might wreak, to attempt to impose through extortion policies it would never be able to enact through the normal legislative process.

What, then, should Biden & Co. have done once Republicans took the House? They could have tried to raise the debt ceiling during the lame-duck session. This would have been hard, given an evenly divided Senate. If it was possible at all, it probably would have required making big concessions to those Democratic senators least supportive of Biden’s agenda. Still, better to have a hostage negotiation with Joe Manchin than with Marjorie Taylor Greene.

So unless there was a plan to deal with the coming confrontation, there should have been a major effort to raise the debt ceiling. The fact that there was no such effort suggested that maybe there was such a plan.

But all we’ve seen from Biden officials since the House changed hands has been a combination of assertions that a U.S. default would be catastrophic — which may well be true — and denigration of any and all possible end runs around the debt ceiling. My heart sank, for example, when Janet Yellen, the Treasury secretary, repeatedly rejected the idea of minting a platinum coin — one of several possible ways to bypass the debt limit — as a “gimmick.” Yes, it would be a gimmick, but it would also be harmless. As I explained the other day, it would not mean printing money to cover the deficit; in practice, it would amount to carrying out normal borrowing through a back door.

The problem is that Yellen was in effect saying that the administration wasn’t open to any strategies that sounded silly or unorthodox; yet every strategy that avoids the debt limit must, in fact, be unorthodox and will probably sound silly if taken out of context.

The economic merits of various unconventional financing strategies aside, think about how the White House was positioning itself politically. On one side, it signaled that it was terrified of the consequences of default; on the other, it made it clear that it was unwilling even to consider any alternatives to an increase in the debt limit. The administration might as well have put a sign on its back saying “Kick Me.”

Maybe the administration expected moderate Republicans or business groups or supposedly nonpartisan advocacy groups to somehow step in and pressure the GOP to produce a clean debt ceiling bill. But I don’t see how anyone who has been awake for the past 15 years could have believed that was a real possibility.

And sure enough, after months of asserting that it would never engage in negotiations over the debt ceiling, that it would accept nothing less than a clean increase, the administration is now … negotiating over the debt ceiling.

Many people have pointed out that this sets a terrible precedent — that having seen that extortion works, Republicans will engage in it again and again. Even these concerns, however, seem to me to be taking too long a view. Now that Republicans see what seems to be an administration on the run, there’s every reason to expect them to keep escalating their immediate demands — quite possibly to the point where no deal is possible.

There’s a precedent from the Obama years. Back in 2011, President Barack Obama and John Boehner, who was then the speaker of the House, came very close to a so-called Grand Bargain on debt that would have been objectively terrible — it would, for example, have raised the age of eligibility for Medicare, even though life expectancy for working-class Americans had risen very little — and would probably have been politically disastrous for Democrats. But the deal fell through because Republicans were unwilling to accept even small tax increases as part of a deficit-reduction plan.

Sure enough, Republicans have reportedly rejected every proposal to make a debt ceiling deal more acceptable to the Democratic base by closing tax loopholes.

I have no idea what happens next. I think there’s a real possibility that Biden officials will in the end be forced by sheer Republican intransigence to adopt unconventional methods after all — a task that will be made much harder by the fact that those same officials have spent months trash-talking the approaches they may need to follow.

But I don’t see any way to regard this whole episode as anything but a disastrous failure to face up to the reality of an opposition party controlled by extremists.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Action Needed Strafford County, New Hampshire

This is a repost from the Dover Dems. Immediate action is needed.

Action needed this week to defeat HB 75, which will be voted on by the full NH Senate on Thursday May 11.

Email ask him to work to kill HB 75 and let HB 270 go through the normal process for a bill retained in the House.

The Republicans are trying to introduce districts to be used when electing the three Strafford County commissioners. Currently the commissioners run at-large across the whole county.

HB 270 was introduced in January for this purpose, but was retained in committee on a bipartisan vote in the House Municipal and County Government Committee in February. The idea was to let the bill be discussed more fully over the summer, including asking for input from the residents of the county.

Last week the Republicans decided they did not want to discuss this with the public. Instead they amended HB 75, an unrelated bill passed by the House, to replace in its entirety the text of HB 75 with the text from HB 270. This was done in the Senate Election Law Committee with little or no warning, and they held the hearing on the amendment and the executive session to vote on the amended bill on the same day, passing it 3-2 on a party-line vote. And they added it to the Senate calendar to be quickly voted on by the full Senate the following week, on Thursday May 11.

What can you do? Email Sen. Jeb Bradley, the president of the NH Senate and ask him to work to kill HB 75. Tell him that the residents of Strafford County deserve a full opportunity to weigh in on whether districts are needed and if so, the boundaries of the districts. Tell him to allow HB 270 to go through the normal process for a bill retained in a House committee. Sen. Bradley’s email is

Our three current county commissioners, all Democrats, are leading the effort to build a new modern nursing home, refurbish the old facility to be used for transitional housing, and build a large solar farm to power it all (and more). The Republicans are desperate to stop a project that would have the government work for the common good.

sherry_frost_ commented: If government actually works to make people’s lives better, republicans lose their most powerful lie that government is, at best, useless and, at worst, evil.

Here is the e-mail I sent. Feel free to cut and paste

Mr Bradley.

 As a resident of Strafford County I have concerns over the fast tracking of legislation which would introduce districts to be used when electing the three Strafford County commissioners. 

I urge you to kill HB 75 and let HB 270 go through the normal process for a bill retained in the House.

Residents of Strafford County deserve a full opportunity to weigh in on whether districts are needed and if so, the boundaries of the districts. 


Which Political Party is Best For The Economy?

It is probably not who you think it is.

Every election has something to do with the economy. When I say economy, I mean the Main Street Economy. Not Wall Street.

The idea that the Republican Party cares about the debt and deficit is one of the biggest myths in America. The numbers speak for themselves: The last four Republican presidents have increased the deficit. The last three Democratic presidents have reduced the deficit. Historically, the United States economy has performed better on average under the administration of Democratic presidents than Republican presidents since World War II. The reasons for this are debated, and the observation applies to economic variables including job creation, GDP growthstock market returns, personal income growth and corporate profits. The unemployment rate has fallen on average under Democratic presidents, while it has risen on average under Republican presidents.  Budget deficits relative to the size of the economy were lower on average for Democratic presidents.[ Ten of the eleven U.S. recessions between 1953 and 2020 began under Republican presidents.

Each election the republican party runs on economic issues. They try to be the party for the average family but the reality is far from that.

Donald Trump who ran for president as a fiscal genius added $6.7 trillion to the debt between fiscal year 2017 and fiscal year 2020, a 33.1% increase. In his FY 2021 budget, Trump’s budget included a $966 billion deficit. However, the national debt actually grew by $1.5 trillion between October 1, 2020, and October 1, 2021. As high as that was- we were facing a global pandemic his last year in the White House but his previous 3 years were not much better due to the republican parties irresponsible tax breaks for the top 1%. FY 2018: $1.3 trillion, FY 2019: $1.2 trillion, FY 2020: $4.2 trillion.

What Is National Debt?
The national debt, also known as federal or public debt, is the outstanding financial obligation of a country. The national debt of the United States is what the federal government owes creditors, including debt held by the public and federal government trust funds, and represents the sum of past annual budget deficits.

Tax Cuts 

Historically, tax cuts passed by Congress play a large part in the growth of the national debt. The Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 had a combined estimated 10-year cost of about $1.7 trillion. The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 made the bulk of the tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003 permanent.

In 2018, Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee estimated the annual cost of those tax cuts as $488 billion. The Tax Cuts and Job Act (TCJA) of 2017 is expected to increase budget deficits by a cumulative $1.9 trillion through 2028, according to CBO estimates.

Job creation

Job creation refers to the number of net jobs added, which is reported monthly by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For the 13 presidents beginning with Truman, total job creation was about 70.5 million for the 7 Democratic presidents and 29.1 million for the 6 Republican presidents. The Democratic presidents were in office for a total of 429 months, with 164,000 jobs per month added on average, while the Republicans were in office for 475 months, with a 61,000 jobs added per month average. This monthly average rate was 2.4 times faster under Democratic presidents.

Former President Bill Clinton said in 2012 that “Since 1961…the Republicans have held the White House for 28 years, the Democrats for 24…In those 52 years, our private economy has produced 66 million private-sector jobs. So what’s the jobs score? Republicans 24 million, Democrats 42 million.” 

Job Creation by President.

Annual percentage of change in NON FARM Employment. Change of unemployment rate during presidency

  • Ford 1.8% +2.0
  • Carter 3.06% 0
  • Reagan 2.06% -2.1
  • H.W. Bush 0.61% +1.9
  • Clinton 2.4% -3.1
  • W. Bush 0.13% +3.6
  • Obama 1.04% -3.1
  • Trump -.51% (Pandemic year) +1.6
  • Biden 4.3% -2.8

Other than during the Reagan administration in the 1980s each Republican President had poor job growth and a RISE IN UNEMPLOYMENT.

Income growth and inequality

Analysis conducted by Vanderbilt University political science professor Larry Bartels in 2004 and 2015 found income growth is faster and more equal under Democratic presidents. He found real incomes increased in the 20th and 40th percentiles of incomes under Democrats, while they fell under Republicans. Real incomes grew across all higher percentiles at a greater rate under Democrats, even when including the Great Recession and its recovery in Barack Obama’s first term. Bartels calculated in 2008 that the real value of the minimum wage in the United States over the preceding sixty years had increased 16 cents per year under Democratic presidents but declined by 6 cents per year under Republican presidents

Federal budget deficits

Blinder and Watson reported that budget deficits tended to be smaller under Democrats, at 2.1% potential GDP versus 2.8% potential GDP for Republicans, a difference of about 0.7 of a percentage point. Since 1981, federal budget deficits have increased under Republican presidents Reagan, both Bushes and Trump, while deficits have declined under Democratic presidents Clinton and Obama. The economy ran surpluses during Clinton’s last four fiscal years, the first surpluses since 1969. The deficit was projected to decline sharply in Joe Biden’s first fiscal year

Now let’s take a look at the priorities of presidents. NOT what they said they would do, but what they actually did.

The Republican Record:

In the 1980s Ronald Reagan signed massive tax cuts into law that benefit the well off and well connected. He spent our way out of the Cold War and exploded the deficit.

In 2001, 2003 George W. Bush signed Ito law massive tax cuts benefiting the wealthiest Americans. He got us into 2 failed wars that cost BILLIONS each year, necessity of which can be debated. It is that kind of spending which hurts the economy. The combined cost of his tax cuts alone is estimated at $1.7 TRILLION. But as the Republicans gave away billions on wars and in corporate welfare they ask the poorest Americans to toughen up.

In 2017 “businessman” Donald Trump gives another round of massive tax cuts to the top 1% further driving up the debt. Giving 83% of tax cuts to the top 1% while the rest of us are asked to work harder. The tax cut and jobs act is expected to increase the debt by a cumulative total of $1.9 TRILLION by 2028. Instead of any social safety nets the bottom 15% of Americans are told to pull them selves up by their boot straps.

The House of Representatives barely passed a Debt Ceiling Proposal. Knowing that it will NEVER pass the senate. The debt ceiling could be hit as soon as June. ANY default on the U.S. national debt during the current interest rate environment could escalate into a wave of corporate and sovereign defaults.

McCarthy and the GOP House are trying to hold the economy of the WORLD hostage. Even though former President Donald Trump extolled the debt ceiling as “a sacred element of our country that should never be wielded as a bargaining chip in budget talks “.

It is not worth going into the House Proposal because it is just a recycled version of every other GOP budget proposal. Keep giving the money to the Wall Street / corporate community while Main Street suffers.

HOW DARE THE GOP LECTURE THE REST OF US ON FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY. The record is clear. If you care about the economy you know who to vote for.

A Traumatized Generation

A traumatized generation is collateral damage in our unbounded right to bear arms

Photo: Shutterstock

One litmus test by which a society can be judged is the ways it treats its young people. On the issue of firearms, the litmus paper has turned blood red. 

Commentary by  Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld  Monday, April 17, 2023

Walking by my town’s elementary school, I observed the flag in front hanging at half-mast. On a poll nearby, someone hung three shining blue mylar balloons in memorial to the three beautiful nine-year-old students cut down by a shooter at Covenant Elementary School in Nashville, Tennessee.

I thought then about the lives of the victims of this senseless and avoidable plague of gun violence engulfing the nation, affecting the young and old alike. I imagined what could have been possible for the victims whose lives had just begun and about the possibilities this shooter had deprived.

The perpetrators of this and similar crimes are the frontline perpetrators in an ongoing internal war on civility. They are aided and abetted by the legions of co-conspirators, legislators and other extremists who perpetuate the myth that any and all common-sense gun regulations infringe on their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

But what about our children’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? What about their rights to an education free from constant fears of being gunned down in their schools and communities?

What about all of our rights to walk down safe streets, to work in safe spaces, to shop and attend theaters, concerts, and community events without constantly looking over our shoulders for potential shooters who could take us out?

Legislators and some parents’ groups appear more concerned with banning books. But we must remember that dead youth can’t read books.

Legislators and some parents’ groups appear more concerned with barring discussions of Critical Race Theory, gender, and LGBTQ+ topics in classrooms.

But we must remember that dead youth can’t study anything. And they certainly can’t think about transitioning their gender, loving someone of the same sex, or using public facilities and playing on sports teams aligning with their gender identities.

I still have hope, though, in the youth-led firearms safety movement.

Demanding “Never Again,” “Enough Is Enough,” and “March for Our Lives,” and shouting “We Call BS” to the arguments against changing gun laws, a new generation of young people was launched into activism after a shooter’s bullets killed 17 and injured another 17 of their peers and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018.

Within a very short time, they have captured the imagination and admiration of those of us who have long hoped and fought for policy initiatives to bring an end to the senseless over-availability of firearms that kill tens of thousands of people annually in the U.S.

But as with all movements for progressive social change, a strong and powerful opposition stands in the way. Members of the conservative political Right, many of who represent the interests of gun manufacturers and their lobbyists, have long engaged in and are continuing to wage war against gun safety advocates, even when, especially when, these advocates are young people.

During this Trumpian-inspired Right-Wing cultural moment – within the context of declarations of “fake news,” “conspiracy theories,” “witch hunts,” and verifiable distortions and lies in reaction to anything and everything reported that goes against their agendas and “values” – the backlash to derail these new youth advocates by demeaning and impugning their integrity and motivation was predictable in its speed and ferocity.

People in the extreme crevices of the Right – through many of their supporters – accuse these young people of serving as pawns or co-conspirators of the Left’s anti-gun agenda, accusing them of being mere puppets who have been coached on what to say and how to say it.

On his radio show back in 2018, Rush Limbaugh called out the student activists: “Everything they’re doing is right out of the Democrat Party’s various playbooks. It has the same enemies: the N.R.A. and guns.”

Donald Trump Jr. joined in on the attacks of then-17-year-old David Hogg, one of the student leaders from Douglas High School, after Hogg criticized the Trump administration to protect his father, a former F.B.I agent.

Trump Jr. liked a Tweet referring to a YouTube video called, “Outspoken Trump-Hating School Shooting Survivor is Son of FBI Agent; MSM Helps Prop Up Incompetent Bureau.”

The Right also refers to Hogg and other student gun safety activists as “crisis actors.” During an interview following the shooting in 2018 with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Hogg responded to the charge: “I’m not a crisis actor. I’m someone who had to witness this and live through this, and I continue to be having to do that. I’m not acting on anybody’s behalf.”

With Douglas High School students observing from the balcony, Florida state legislators voted down, by a margin of nearly 2 to 1, a proposal to discuss the merits of banning AR-15 rifles in the state. In recent years, however, the movement has scored limited victories by lobbying state and national legislators to pass gun safety legislation, as meager as it has been. Other states have actually loosened gun laws, with many extending open and concealed firearms carry procedures.

And what are the emotional, physical, and educational tolls on students from preschool through high school who must endure continual “active shooter” drills, the “hardening” of schools with windowless classrooms, metal detectors, and armed guards on school grounds?

I asked this question to the 80 students in my undergraduate university class a day after the shooting at Nashville’s Covenant Elementary School. At first, they were surprised that I had suspended the scheduled discussion I had planned for that day.

I allowed a tense silence to continue for a few minutes until one student rather shyly raised her hand. She said that throughout all of those grade school years, with all the drills and the retrofitting of her school, no teacher or administrator had ever asked what students were feeling.

She expressed that “all of this had become so normalized. Like, we go to class, we go to the cafeteria for lunch, we go back to class, we have active shooter drills, we turn in our assignments, and we go to our afterschool sports activities.”

Other students then raised their hands across the room, all agreeing with the first student who spoke. Others nodded their heads in full agreement.

With young people of every generation, serious and terrifying events saturate their lives both at a distance and close to home.

My parents’ generation suffered from the Great Depression, illnesses like Polio, and the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust; the U.S. government sent my generation to fight and die in Vietnam as I witnessed the body bags of my friends return home. Also within my generation and all of those following, the AIDS pandemic became an unwelcome presence inciting fear throughout our world.

The current generation has been affected not only by the Covid-19 pandemic but also by this plague of gun violence that increases year after year.

To date, according to The Washington Post, there have been 376 school shootings affecting 348,000 students since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.

We have to ask ourselves and our legislators whether any constitutional right is unbounded by gun legislation. We have to ask whether we love our young people more or less than we love AR-15 semiautomatic rifles – which the U.S. military developed as an effective killing machine used in the Vietnam War – and this so-called limitless freedom to bear arms.

I believe one of the litmus tests by which a society can be judged is the ways it treats its young people. On the issue of firearms, the litmus paper has turned a deep blood red.

All The Stupid Laws That Have Passed Instead Of an Assault Weapons Ban.

All The Stupid Laws That Have Passed Instead Of An Assault Rifle Ban

I know it is cliche to say “I grew up in a house with guns but…” I did. My father and brothers were and are hunters. My father in law and brother in laws are hunters. My Father, brother and my wife were all in law enforcement at one time. Not one of my relatives has found a need to own a weapon of war.

It is time we have some common sense gun safety laws. Things which will not interfere with your 2nd amendment rights (which seems the right wings battle cry). If anyone asked me what I would propose:

  • Assault Weapons Ban (and buy back)
  • Permit needed for handguns.
  • Waiting period on all gun sales with no gun show exemptions.
  • Universal Background checks
  • Universal red flag laws
  • Universal gun training needed for gun ownership.

These should not infringe on anyone who really wants a gun. It does make it ALMOST as hard as getting a drivers license. Before al you rightwing snow flakes start freaking out about the intent of the 2nd Amendment keep in mind that the writers of the constitution wrote it with a FREAKING QUILL! A FEATHER! Their minds would have been blown by a BIC PEN! They also VERY clearly said WELL REGULATED! This is not a hard concept.

I get it, you like guns. That is fine. You want guns. OK- that is fine. You want A LOT of guns. OK, now we are getting weird. No one is saying you can’t own a gun (Unless you are legally restricted from owning a gun, which some people should be). You just need to show you are and will be a responsible gun owner. There simply are certain guns which the general public should not have access to.

If you want to fire a machine gun, an assault weapon, a grenade launcher, maybe there should be licensed ranges for you to do that. Again back to the phrase WELL REGULATED.

It seems that many conservatives in the country like to shout about crime and we must do something about it! Unless it is a gun related crime, then it is just thoughts and prayers and a shoulder shrug.

While the GOP has shrugged its shoulders on gun related crimes they have spent a great deal of time, energy and money passing laws against books, the trans community, abortion rights and environmental regulations.

“Few people are interested in taking away all guns from all citizens, just ones that are literally designed for mass killing,”

I came across the opinion below by:

Dustin J. Seibert

Republicans in Congress are hellbent on keeping the AR-15 on the market. So here’s a look at all the dumb laws they’ve passed when they should’ve been banning assault rifles.

Here’s how tragically absurd mass shootings have gotten in our country: This piece was written and ready to be published on Monday when we got news that a man entered a Louisville, Kentucky, bank from which he had reportedly been recently terminated and opened fire, killing five people and injuring others

The shooter livestreamed the attack; he apparently died while exchanging gunfire with police. 

As of press time, injuries and other details are still being sorted out, but we know the gunman’s weapon of choice: an AR-15 assault rifle that he legally purchased only a week earlier. 

It’s the same type of gun another shooter used to kill six people, including three 9-year-olds, on March 27 at The Covenant School, a private Christian grade school in Nashville. It was yet another day we had to endure news stories featuring the faces of innocent children who were cut down.

The Nashville shooter — who was also killed by police — reportedly took the rifle to the school in a bag along with two other guns and ammunition. Nashville police say that the shooter legally purchased several guns from five different stores despite being under care for an “emotional disorder.”

An AR-15 was reportedly used in 10 of the last 17 deadly mass shootings in the country, including the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in 2012 that claimed the lives of 20 children, all under eight years old. And it isn’t just school shootings —the AR-15 or some variant of it has been used in more mass shootings than anyone not paid to keep track of it can reasonably be expected to.

President Bill Clinton signed into law a Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 1994; the ban expired 10 years later. Despite research concluding that mass-shooting-related homicides were reduced during that decade, attempts to renew the ban have not been successful. 

Even President Donald Trump questioned the necessity of private AR-15 ownership — albeit not publicly enough. Yet, in many red states, it’s still easier to buy an assault rifle than a bottle of high-proof liquor. 

In the wake of the Nashville shooting, President Joe Biden renewed calls for an assault weapons ban. Anyone who’s been conscious and living in America knows his pleas will go nowhere, especially with a divided Congress. Sure, you’ll get “thoughts and prayers” up the wazoo, but we’ll quietly move on and wait until the next tragedy to resume the fatuous cycle. 

It’s the movie “Groundhog Day” manifest in political agendas.

Demonstrators call for a ban on assault rifles in August 2019 during President Donald Trump's visit to El Paso, Texas, following back-to-back mass shootings there and in Dayton, Ohio.

In a country where I can’t purchase Sudafed without identification, banning a weapon for citizen use that can fire several hundred rounds per minute is an issue that somehow still divides the masses. Hunting with an AR-15 is impractical, and there are many other legal weapons suited for home defense.

People bark about protections granted by the Second Amendment — written during a time when weapons were muskets — but seemingly refuse to acknowledge that few people are interested in taking away all guns from all citizens, just ones that are literally designed for mass killing. Some politicians, voted into office for the purpose of protecting their electorate, seem more interested in challenging the government to take away their assault rifles with juvenile bluster (see: Colorado Rep. and resident asshole Ken Buck).

From anti-climate legislation to banning dildos, politicians across the country have a dubious record of focusing on things that don’t actually improve our safety. Here’s a (very non-exhaustive) list of recent state and federal legislation — and other priorities — that lawmakers are more focused on than protecting pre-pubescent humans from getting torn through with metal:

Anti-LGBTQ legislation: 

As soon as it was reported that the Nashville shooter was transgender, I knew it’d be the worst thing for a community perpetually working hard for normalization — because amoebic Republicans would leverage the shooting to attack the trans community. And they were right on time

Politicians with a hard-on (literally and figuratively) for LGBTQ issues is nothing new, but it feels like they’ve been going a bit harder lately — because we know the one thing that freaks politicians out more than gun violence is (gasp!) consenting adults just living their lives. 

There has been a maelstrom of anti-LGBTQ bills throughout the country, including a bill passed in Kentucky in March that bans gender-affirming care for trans people and prohibits conversations on sexual orientation in schools, among other foolishness. An anti-drag law passed in Tennessee the same month.

The irony of our public outrage over Uganda’s new draconian law essentially criminalizing homosexuality is that the United States isn’t so far behind in 2023. 

Anti-abortion legislation: 

For my dollars, the most egregious legal decision I’ve witnessed as an adult is the 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade, which granted Americans abortion rights for nearly 50 years before the U.S. Supreme Court extended a strong middle finger to the people.

While many governors are admirably standing in defiance of that decision, several Republican-led states leaned into it with “trigger laws” that immediately criminalized the practice of abortion. In Florida, lawmakers proposed a “heartbeat bill” that would ban abortions as soon as a heartbeat is detected, which is about six weeks after conception. 

The message here? Protect the fetus by encroaching on the rights of the mother, perhaps to her detriment, so it’s born into a world where we won’t give a damn about the child’s well-being and that child can easily be cut down by gunfire at school. 

Laws making it easier to obtain guns:

Common sense and a basic understanding of human nature dictates that getting one’s hands on tools specifically designed to kill should be no mean feat in any state.

Lawmakers in the state where the Covenant School shooting took place have pushed to ease up on gun laws via two bills — one that would drop the handgun carry age from 21 to 18 and another that would allow staff members in schools to carry concealed guns on school grounds with a permit. As a former teacher, I can’t stress how bad an idea that is for so many reasons. 

The Tennessee House voted on April 6 to expel two of three Democrats who led protests for stricter gun laws in the wake of the Covenant School shooting. Two of the representatives — Justin Jones and Justin J. Pearson — are Black men; Rep. Gloria Johnson is a white woman. It’s Tennessee, so I’ll give you one guess as to who wasn’t expelled. 

The push for more restrictive gun laws in Texas, home of Uvalde and seven other mass shootings in 13 years, buckled under the weight of the gun lobby, which owns more politicians than Questlove owns vinyl records. 

Republicans in North Carolina proposed bills just a few hours after the Michigan State University shooting in February that would repeal a permit requirement for purchasing a pistol and allow people with a concealed carry licenses to bring their weapons into churches, even when they have a school on the property.

Florida (again) passed a law allowing legal gun owners to carry concealed weapons without a state-issued permit or the training required to get it. Of course, defenders of the law suggested it would make the Nashville incident less likely to happen. See again what I said about human nature…

Considering banning TikTok: 

Yes, this one is comparatively silly: The U.S. Government had a serious squabble with the Chinese-owned-and-operated social media behemoth, concerned that the country’s Communist government is using it to spy on all the 45-year-old moms shimmying in front of their phone camera to Taylor Swift. The conversation started with the Trump administration and was recently renewed by Joe Biden.

I’m no expert in social media security, but I think the jig was up on our general privacy the first time we decided to sign up for BlackPlanet, and it’s only gone south from there. 

Thing is, there’s no real, tangible evidence that TikTok is siphoning data for nefarious means, and there’s a little thing called free speech that’ll make it difficult to nuke the app on our shores.

But if TikTok somehow manages to get banned before AR-15s, maybe I’ll just move to China so I can freely do the “Fancy Like” dance on the app. And not fall victim to a mass shooting.

The Cowardice, Selfishness And Ignorance Of The Easily Offended

A Tallahassee Classical School teacher showed a sixth-grade art history class a photo of Michelangelo’s “David” in all his glory, and that’s when everything went south.

Florence is one of my favorite cities. Beautiful architecture, beautiful art, an amazing history. There is something fascinating to watch at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, Italy. The museum is home to Michelangelo’s marble sculpture of the biblical David, naked with a sling over his shoulder and a rock in his hand, preparing to battle the fearsome Goliath.

Upon entering the museum, you make a quick left, then an immediate right. Ahead, roughly 50 yards in front of you, stands “David.” From this point, these 50 yards away, you can stand and listen to the audible gasps of visitors as they first gaze upon the sculpture from this distance. It tells you two things: No photograph can do justice to seeing the real thing; the real thing is a stunning artistic achievement.

“David” is the height of classic Renaissance art culture, sculpted by the man who also painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, which features biblical imagery of all kinds, both nude and clothed.

Michelangelo wanted to show the power of God in the empty hand of a young David, who would use a single rock to defeat a giant. Many called it a miracle. Nobody called it controversial, let alone pornographic.

The plan was to position the sculpture aside a series of prophetic statues some 90 feet above ground along the roofline of the Florence Cathedral, which is why the hands, feet and head are oversized. In perspective, viewed from below at that distance, the appendages would appear normal in size. But authorities at the time deemed the sculpture too magnificent to be that far from public view. Of course, the statue weighing 6 tons, made matters academic as it would have been nearly impossible to raise the sculpture to that height. Instead, it was placed at ground level in the Palazzo Vecchio, the seat of government in Florence, for all to see. It stood there for nearly 400 years before being moved inside the museum where it is today. The story of how it was moved and then how it was incased in brick to protect it during WW2 is AMAZING.

Interestingly, David was viewed as a defender of civil liberties in Florence, an independent city-state threatened on all sides by more powerful rival states and the Medici hegemony. This defiance is expressed in David’s eyes, the statue situated to cast a cautionary glare toward Rome — an early version, perhaps, of the “Live free or die” concept.

But only in America is art controversial, particularly in conservative bastions like Florida. Each year since its opening in 2020, the Tallahassee Classical School would show a photo of “David” to a sixth-grade art history class.

This year, a controversy erupted. Three parents complained. In response, the school fired the principal, sent an apology letter to parents and held an emergency board meeting, where many parents condemned the firing.

School board chair Barney Bishop III insisted it was not a firing and that the principal resigned.

He’s full of it.

“We didn’t remove her,” he told Slate in a heated interview. “I went to her last week and offered her two letters. One was a voluntary resignation and another a letter that said if she decided not to resign, I was going to ask the board to terminate her without cause.”

Orwellian double-speak. Slice it any way you like, that was a firing. 

Bishop may be on firmer ground in explaining that multiple concerns led to the principal’s dismissal, though he couldn’t elaborate for legal reasons.

But it seems there’s blame enough to go around.

School policy requires that parents receive written notice two weeks in advance informing them of any sensitive topics their child might be learning, “and they can decide whether it is appropriate for their child to see it,” Bishop said.

The letter was written, but the administration accidentally forgot to send it, according to the principal, Hope Carrasquilla, the school’s third principal in as many years.

“I made the assumption that the letter went out, and I didn’t follow up on it,” she told NPR.

“But honestly,” she added, “we did not have to send out a letter regarding Renaissance art.”

A third problem: While showing the image of “David” in all his glory, the teacher reportedly told the students, “Don’t tell your parents.”

“That’s a huge red flag!” Bishop said.

He has a point, though no one has spoken to the teacher in question, who remains employed.

But here is the fine point of it.

Bishop boasted on the one hand that “we teach the Hillsdale Curriculum. We teach a traditional Western civilization, liberal classical education.”

Yet he argued that parents should know what students will see, hear or discuss in class. The issue, he said, “isn’t whether children should see these pictures or not. Gosh, we’re a classical school. Why wouldn’t we show Renaissance art to children?”

Further on, he said, “Parents know what that curriculum is. And parents are entitled to know any time their child is being taught a controversial topic and picture.”

Just a minute. If parents know what the curriculum is, why do they need to be notified about any of it?

Didn’t the parents know this was a classical school and that their kids would see Renaissance art? Didn’t they know that would include nudity? Isn’t classical education a selling point? Sounds like it, the way Bishop tells it. How could these parents not know that, and if they didn’t know that, why did they enter their children in a lottery hoping their child would be selected to attend? (Students are admitted by lottery drawing.)

Bishop said it was a mistake not to tell parents what the kids would see. Maybe the parents made the mistake of enrolling their kids in a classical education curriculum without knowing what a classical education curriculum is.

It’s certainly worth asking the three complaining parents. Two of the parents complained because they received no advance notice about the lesson plan. The third complained that the image of “David” was pornographic.

“Parents choose this school because they want a certain kind of education,” Bishop told Slate. 

Apparently not, pal. Yet he seemed to give parents greater credence than the teachers.

“The rights of parents, that trumps the rights of kids,” Bishop said. “Teachers are the experts? Teachers have all the knowledge? Are you kidding me? I know lots of teachers that are very good, but to suggest they are the authorities,” he told the Slate reporter, “you’re on better drugs than me.”

So basically, you’re saying the teachers you hire aren’t all that qualified to teach the subjects they’re hired to teach. Well, why the hell would I send my kid to a school like that?

Sure, let’s put a parent in charge who thinks the statue of David is pornographic. Clearly that parent is unaware that nude portrayals have been a common practice as far back as the Babylonians and Ancient Egypt. The Greeks associated nudity with the beauty, power and perfection of the gods. It had a similar symbolic meaning for artists during the Renaissance, who were inspired by a renewed interest in classic Greek and Roman culture. 

But gaining that knowledge might require reading, a subject now under fire in Florida public schools.

Put it this way: If that parent were alive in 1504 when the statue of David was unveiled, were he to call it pornography, he’d be considered backward and ignorant, and be the laughingstock of Florence.

Tallahassee Classical is a tuition-free, taxpayer-funded charter school with some 500 students, 56 of which are in the sixth grade. Like many charter schools in the U.S., its curriculum comes from Hillsdale College, a conservative Christian school in Michigan with ties to multiple far-right figures.

The undertones are disturbing. Hillsdale advocates its 1776 curriculum, which opposes factual teachings of history, including the 1619 Project, which explores the history of slavery, racism and the oppression of Black Americans in the U.S. The college played a crucial role in crafting Donald Trump’s “1776 Report,” which reputable historians have condemned as poppycock.

“We’re not gonna have courses from the College Board,” Bishop declared. “We’re not gonna teach 1619 or [critical race theory]crap,” echoing the suppressive policies pushed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who frequently consults the Hillsdale institution on educational issues.

Bishop has enthusiastically embraced DeSantis’ education agenda.

“We agree with everything the governor is doing in the educational arena,” Bishop said. “We support him because he’s right. The whole ‘woke’ indoctrination going on about pronouns and drag queens isn’t appropriate in school.”

Yet, look who’s going woke over art. 

Maybe the larger error in all this is the school’s failure to warn parents about the entirety of its curriculum before any of them entered their kid into the lottery system: “Caution: your children will see works of art featuring nudity.”


Or do one of those movie warnings. NNSFCP: Nudity not safe for close-minded parents.

Chances are those sixth-graders, with their cellphones and access to the fullness of the internet’s depravities, have seen far more graphic images than anything they saw in class that day.

A final but important point about nude depictions in classical art: The size of the male member on all these statues. (C’mon, you hadn’t noticed?) Unlike today, when “well-endowed” is typically equated with power and masculinity, the ancient Greeks and their artistic descendants never saw the phallus as a symbol of virility or manliness. Potency came from one’s intellect, reason and self-control.

I dunno about you, but the idea of putting a premium on intellect seems like an excellent lesson to associate with a discussion of “David.”

For a school founded in 2020, it’s ironic how many associated with it have so little vision, let alone wisdom.

My advice: Wake up and grow a pair. If you don’t know what that looks like, there’s this statue in Florence …

Originally Published in Huffington Post By 

Bruce Maiman, Guest Writer

Why Not? Why Can’t We?


Let’s have a logical argument. Not one driven simply by emotion. 

As children we were all curious asking our parents “Why” and “How come” all the time.  The answer “because I said so” satisfied no one.  It was an answer based on frustration. 

I look at things going on in the world today and I want to know WHY? WHY NOT? And HOW COME?  I think it is time for answers. 

For example- If someone asked me WHY is there no affordable housing in downtown Portsmouth? I would say, it is an old town with the downtown area in the historic district. The cost on upkeep, preservation is a factor. The fact that it is a small area with a limited amount of space for buildings will also keep the price high. 

With building being built in the west end and potentially in the old federal building this could see the market price come down as the availability goes up. 

Here are my questions that I would like honest and logical answers to.  

Why can’t we have better writing for TV shows? 

Why can’t we all have good healthcare?

Why can’t we free ourselves from our dependence on foreign fossil fuels? Wouldn’t stimulating the electric and hybrid car industry help with this? 

Why can’t we put solar panels on all viable government buildings? 

Why can’t all the US Mail trucks be electric? 

Why can’t we have better gun laws? 

Why can’t we make each public school a PALACE of EDUCATION? 

Why can’t we have FREE community colleges? And maybe 4 year public Universities? 

Why can’t we solve the problem of childhood hunger and homelessness? 

Why can’t we take climate change more seriously? 

Just some questions. 

Fox News and The Cost of Lies


Fox News And The Cost Of Lies

By  Bruce Maiman, Guest Writer Found on Huffington Post.

Leaked emails confirmed what many of us suspected: Fox News anchors lied to viewers about the presidential election being stolen from Trump and didn’t care enough to stop it.

A single sentence from Erik Wemple’s recent column for The Washington Post tells you everything you need to know about the Fox News flap over internal emails admitting that the network knew it was lying to viewers about a stolen election.

“The network had called Arizona on election night for Democratic candidate Joe Biden, a move regarded as treason by the network’s MAGA crowd, which declared viewers would flee to the competition.”

The emphasis is mine. As Wemple, the Post’s media critic noted, network executives were in a panic, worried they would lose viewers to other upstart cable outlets.

This is a normal consideration for a business ― and make no mistake: Fox News is a business. No business wants to lose customers to the competition, especially after secrets become public fodder. But what terrified Fox executives wasn’t the “secrets” that the network’s biggest stars knew all along they were peddling total bovine excrement. It was that the revelations in the Dominion lawsuit defied viewer expectations.

Columnist Mike Kelly’s accusation in a piece for USA Today unwittingly makes the point.

“This wasn’t journalism,” Kelly writes. “It was consumer fraud at its worst. The desire for money trumped truth.”

Actually, no, it wasn’t consumer fraud. True, it wasn’t journalism, and in that sense, the Fox business model has regularly committed fraud against the truth. But the business model for Fox was never journalism. Rather, it was, and is, an advertising distribution system whose primary function is to deliver an audience expectation for an audience it identified, targeted and cultivated. It was a business model that began the way many businesses do, as a marketing solution.

Before the network’s inception, the marketplace had a hole. It wasn’t the lack of “conservative” journalism. It was the lack of a resource that could tell people of a certain mindset what they wanted to hear. Journalism doesn’t do that, but at the Fox network, that is business as usual. 

Whether Rupert Murdoch and CEO Roger Ailes realized it when they sought to fill that market hole and exploited a fundamental human weakness: a desire for approval, for meaning. People like to be told they have value, that what they believe is right and good, even if it is wrong and bad. That’s what the Fox cable audience craved, and the network gave it to them in droves. 

Fox wasn’t defrauding its consumers; it was servicing them. If that meant delivering broadcasts with distortions, omissions or outright fabrications — so-called “alternative facts” — so be it.

We make a mistake in thinking of Fox as a news channel; it’s not. It’s television, more precisely, a television programming format, one no different from a sitcom, a crime drama or a reality show. Each of those television formats comes with an expectation. If a program doesn’t deliver that expectation, the audience reacts, and not in a good way. They might even regard it as treason, which is the very description applied to Fox viewers after the network called Arizona for Joe Biden on election night.

Think of it like this: If you turned on your favorite classic rock radio station and suddenly heard Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande coming out of the speakers, you’d start wondering if someone changed the presets in your car. When you realized that wasn’t the case, that perhaps the station changed its music format, you’d be unhappy, maybe even angry. Why? Because the station no longer met your expectations. Even worse, no one warned you that the station would no longer be meeting that expectation.

When that happens, listeners often flip out. “What did you guys do to my radio station?” they’ll say. “Where’s my favorite DJ?” “You guys suck!”

We’ve all had that experience. Every radio broadcaster has been on the receiving end of it. To paraphrase 17th Century British playwright William Congreve, “Hell hath no fury like a listener scorned.” Or a viewer. Especially one deeply tethered to an extreme set of values and beliefs.

Executives, hosts and producers at Fox knew exceedingly well: to report that the 2020 election was fair, and even worse, to report that Donald Trump was peddling a lie, would be tantamount to blasphemy. They had already endured the backlash from viewers angry the network had called Arizona for Joe Biden on election night. In the days that followed, had they dared report the truth about the election results, those Jan. 6 rioters might have gotten a head start and assaulted the Fox network headquarters first.

Every media operation, every radio station, every print publication, every writer, actor, comedian, you name it, creates an audience expectation. We know what to expect, whether we turn on the PBS News Hour or Ellen DeGeneres. 

The danger, particularly for Fox or any other ideologically driven operation, is that they created a trap. Fox has one product: Conservatives are good, and liberals are evil. There’s an audience for that kind of thinking and for nearly three decades, Fox not only cornered that market but also fostered it, augmented and cultivated it. You might even say they were groomers.

Fox knew something else, too: They had to take great care not to broadcast anything that might offend that audience.

Take Nancy Pelosi. She is a history-making figure. The first woman to serve as House Speaker and one of the most powerful leaders ever to hold the gavel. She was exceptionally good at her job and a force in Washington politics. 

Plenty of people will disagree, mostly because they just don’t like her, but you know who would agree? Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and any of the other Fox hosts. They’re not stupid. In the privacy of their own thoughts, when the cameras are off, they know Pelosi has been an extraordinary figure in political history, and they know people like Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene couldn’t hold a candle to her. But they can never say that during their broadcasts. Their viewers would revolt.

That’s the trap. They simply cannot risk being honest because that would be bad for business. When you become trapped like that, lying becomes a survival mechanism and business as usual.

That’s why Fox is in a panic. It’s why they told a judge that Dominion had no evidence to support its “staggering” $1.6 billion damages claim in their defamation lawsuit over the network’s coverage of election-rigging conspiracy theories. Of course they had to say that in court. You’ll say anything to protect your business interests, whether in court or on the air. And by telling their viewers what they wanted to hear — that the election was stolen and those Dominion voting machines must have been part of it — they were simply protecting their business interests.

It’s why Fox fired Chris Stirewalt, the political editor and chief number cruncher at the network’s Decision Desk in 2020 who called Arizona for Joe Biden. The network called Stirewalt’s firing the following January (along with about a dozen other colleagues) a “restructuring.” Don’t you believe it. His firing was likely a way to get back in the good graces of viewers that began seeking other, safer spaces that would deliver their expectations.

I’d like to think rational consumers of current events wouldn’t do that. When the conventional wisdom of a blue wall collapsed and signaled Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the presidential election of 2016, her supporters may have been shocked, and even angry over the prospect of who would be their next president, but no one concocted a series of lies and absurdities to deny reality. No one called The New York Times in outrage for reporting Clinton’s defeat, or abandoned CNN for a new “safe space.”

If, however, those and similar outlets had lied as badly, as embarrassingly as Fox did, you wouldn’t blame their consumers for the lack of trust that would follow and the likelihood they would seek more reliable sources. But that would be because they were lied to, not because they weren’t told what they wanted to hear. For those consumers, such lies would have destroyed a bond of trust, not a safe space.

Some argue that all media push an agenda with their own narrative, and you’ve surely run into people who claim that outlets like The New York Times or NPR are just part of the liberal media.

They overlook three things. 

Have you ever noticed that the people alleging those criticisms are themselves so biased in their conservative perspective that they consider anything to the left of Attila the Hun to be too liberal? It’s a great irony: Politically biased critics criticizing the media for being politically biased. The real bias is amongst the critics, not the entities they criticize.

Second, there is a difference when the owner of a network and its popular talking heads knowingly push lies on their audience, telling them they were true when they knew they were false. When spreading the lies perpetrated by a sitting president leads to unrest to the point of an insurrection, the lies have gone too far. There are no words to justify or diminish what Fox did.

Third, mistakes happen, and reputable outlets correct them. Publicly. It’s clearly marked, “Correction,” either in a specific section or at the bottom of the story (as happened with this writer last week). Listen to how hosts Ailsa Change and Mary Louise Kelly correct a reporting error on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

When mistakes happen, you have two choices: You either accept them and learn from them, or you double down and deny them. Guess what Fox did.

Fox committed three grievous errors: They lied. They refused to concede that they lied. They defended their lies as truth.

“It knowingly sacrificed its integrity to maintain its market share,” New York Times columnist Dave French wrote. I would suggest that one first needs integrity in order to sacrifice it, but that’s another matter. 

A radio consultant once told me she had talk show clients willing to be whatever a potential employer wanted them to be. “I can be liberal; I can be conservative. Whatever they want.” At the talk radio station where I worked, where I was a political outlier, the program manager once told me, “Try not to upset the furniture.” As in, toe the political line. 

I couldn’t do that. I now work in a different industry and write when I can.

For journalists at Fox, and the network truly has some excellent journalists, I would think it’s a terrible dilemma. You work in a profession you love — and it is a profession — but you have to take a back seat to a network that defiles the core tenants of that profession. And you have to deal with the shame of having to defend yourself from justifiable criticism. We all have to make a living, but it can have a cost: Can you be a person of integrity while working at a company that so many feel has none?

What is the cost of lies? Dominion is seeking a judgment of $1.6 billion. I’m not sure that’s enough. They should demand that Fox air disclaimers to all their commentator programs at the beginning and at the end, letting viewers know that the opinions of the hosts are not based on facts and are only to provide affirmation, not information. Dominion should require that for the next month, every host, every day, admits to their lies and apologizes for uttering them. And a judge, if not Dominion itself, should write that disclaimer and apology. No one at Fox should have a hand in writing any of it.

That should be the cost of the lie, at least for the liars. Don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen. Coverage of the story ranges from scant to nonexistent among conservative sources. Circle those wagons, boys! We can’t afford to burst anyone’s bubble!

Sadly, that’s another cost: Omission of an admission of guilt continues to allow the lie to live on and spread. Silence is consent.

But the cost goes far beyond the price the liar may one day pay and beyond, even, the people who believe the lie.

The riotous assault on the Capitol was entirely based on a lie. As a nation, we all paid a price, in reputation, money and blood.

Families have told countless stories of being torn apart by the grooming that Fox and other conservative media sources have done over the years to sisters, brothers, mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles and children. The father who taught his sons to be critical thinkers was now a walking billboard for talking points he heard night after night from Fox news hosts. Family members disappointed in each other because they voted this way or that. Certain subjects were now off limits at holiday gatherings. Certain relatives would refuse to attend family functions, or were no longer invited. So much for those vaunted family values conservative outlets love to champion.

“What is the cost of lies?” asks the central character in the HBO dramatization of the Chernobyl disaster.

“It’s not that we’ll mistake them for the truth,” he says. “The real danger is that if we hear enough lies, then we no longer recognize the truth. What then?”

For Fox, it might mean an even greater danger: Business as usual.

Many Corporations are like Teenagers

The current bank failures were NOT caused by WOKE policies nor were they totally the responsibility of Donald Trump. Although he signed the bill into law that rolled back regulation of the banking industry (and safety regulations in trains- more on that later) these were not executive orders. They both passed congress with bipartisan support.

The banks which failed simply made some business mistakes and took risks they shouldn’t have. Smarter people than me will be figuring out this for a while. The banking industry as well as the transportation (Rail) industry lobbied congress to roll back regulations. Regulations put in place to prevent incidents like what just happened.

Now that there was a major train derailment which poisoned a town and a couple bank failures these companies want the government to come in and clean up the mess.

As a gymnastics coach, I have seen thousands of teens grow up. I had two children of my own and teen age years can be troubling. Your child wants independence. They want to be free of your rules. They want to police themselves. BUT- when there is a mess, they want you to come in and clean it up.

Luckily, there are some parenting books out there. Books which I feel every member of congress (as well as CEOs) should read.


Nostalgia is a Lie. The Best is Still Ahead.

It is easy to look back on life and remember only the greatest things. It is your brains way of keeping you from going crazy. I have always written in a journal. It started as a way to keep track of my workouts when I was an athlete. What worked and what didn’t. I was talking on the phone with one of my former teammates the other day. We were catching up and laughing about events in our past. There was one event that we were trying to recall but we both remembered it differently. Having moved recently I knew that I still had a journal or two from that time- more than 30 years ago. I went up into the attic to find it, sat down on the floor and started to page through it. I found the event we were talking about. It was a practical joke we played on our coach. Both of us were mostly right but there were somethings that I would have sworn were true that we were both WAY off.

As I went down the rabbit hole of reading some of the old entries I realized how many painful incidents I have packed away and moved on from. From perceived injustices in practice to being bullied by an older teammate. There were so many things going on in life at that time that were NOT good. Why would I ever want to go back to that time? I remember all the great things going on. Not the terrible things.

HIV/AIDS- I don’t think there’s anything that I can say about this terrible disease that hasn’t been said better by others already, but suffice it to say, AIDS sucks, and it was almost always a death sentence in the ’80s. Casual racism and other completely insensitive things were common place in the 80s. Do we really need to do that again?

The more things change the more they stay the same. In the 1980’s we were worried about THE COLD WAR. Of course it might’ve been harder for Americans to care about others back then because there was still a chance we might be instantly evaporated by a rolling wall of fire when a Russian ICBM landed in our backyard. The Cold War kinda looks quaint now, but paranoia over a nuclear war with our global enemies was still running high in the ’80s. To quote an old hardcore punk song: “If AIDS don’t get ya, then the warheads will.” Those underlying fears seemed likely to come true back then.

Gone are the days (mostly) of gas guzzling cars and archaic technology. There was a FREAKING HOLE IN THE OZONE! But through government regulations things have gotten better. You hear people complain about the price of gas today yet In the year 1980, the average retail price of gas was $1.19. This is equivalent to $4.60 in 2023 dollars! The AVERAGE MPG of a NEW car in the 1980s was less than 17 MPG. Do you really want to go back to that time now?

Nostalgia Is a Liar, So Keep Moving Forward

They call it nostalgia and not the past because nostalgia is a rose-tinted lens that distorts the past, a lens through which we bend and contort memories to fit our whims and desires, to have them slot neatly into narratives and weave seamlessly into wider stories we tell ourselves, stories about when we were younger, stronger, better, happier.

Nostalgia, in short, is a liar.

We all indulge in nostalgia. It’s an affliction, a condition, it’s the way we’re wired. Stories are how humanity passed on instruction and moral code for millennia. The past can’t just be the past, it has to have meaning, we have to contextualize it and use our present to justify what went before, we have to romanticize how got here through nostalgia’s dirty lens.

This would all be fine, but the truth is nostalgia makes us unhappy.

Czech author Milan Kundera noted:

“The Greek word for ‘return’ is nostos. Algos means ‘suffering.’ So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.”

Nostalgia is toxic. It removes us from the present, it takes us out of gratitude and mindfulness and plunges us into the movie playing in our head. It has us comparing our reality-based present to a fabricated, fantasy past.

An Antidote

I say all this because so many of us wallow in yesteryear glory. How many of your friends talk incessantly about “the good old days” of 20 years ago, when they weren’t even so good? The MAGA crowd that believes that YESTERDAY was the best they will ever be.

Nostalgia is disempowering. The only natural conclusion when in its thrall is to believe your best days are behind you and you’re powerless to change that.

Fuck that.

Right now, in the present, is the youngest you’re ever going to be, so stop wallowing about past conquests and set sail once more.

The antidote to nostalgia is action.

Our present and future can be anything we want it to be. The past has gone, and it doesn’t need to have a bearing on where we go next.

Good times are coming and you could realize this much more readily if nostalgia didn’t sit on your shoulder, whisper into your ear and feeding you lies.

So don’t believe it. You have that choice. Hear the whispers and realize they’re deception.

This doesn’t mean disregard your fond memories or abandon the lessons your past has taught you, it just means focus on the present without holding onto a false narrative about who you were.

After all, it is only the present we live in. The present is your life; one long expanding present that rolls out in front of us all, a crest of a wave we are riding together.

Don’t look back, keep moving forward because, in case you hadn’t realized, nostalgia is a liar.

“Nostalgia is a dirty liar that insists things were better than they seemed.”

AMERICA is a country with great possibilities. We are relatively young and our democratic experiment will still grow and evolve. Look forward to what we can be.