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Michael,
It is difficult for me to provide a comment to this post since I think an appropriate response needs to be personal and that may be inappropriate on a public blog. Perhaps my higher self will help me with a response as it has on so many other occasions in the past.

While I might generally understand your comments, it is not easy for me to find a consistent theme of your post. But I suspect that it all boils down to your current personal engagement with life as it might relate to your life’s plan at this time and place. It took a while for you to get there but finally, in a relatively short paragraph your lament became clear.

Sometimes when one comes to an end of the road or has fulfilled one’s purpose for life it may simply be a time to sit down and rest for a while and reflect upon one’s journey. It may be a fork in the road with a quiet time to evaluate where one has been and to sense a new path to which one is being directed. I don’t think that one’s purpose in life is to sit on the sidelines and just watch. Usually the fulfillment of one’s destiny demands action, involvement and relationships with other people.

This blog has been a kind-of relationship with other people. I have been reading your thoughts for 10 or more years and over that time I have sensed a change in your responses to people who comment. About two years ago or so I thought that you became much wiser, more mature, more experienced, more sensitive, more understanding and softer in your responses to commenters. Maybe the development of those inner traits is one of the purposes of your life. Those things you will take with you as you continue on your journey. All of the book learning you may have labored over you will forget but those things that deepen your soul, you will remember. - AOD

Thanks, AOD. The post is basically a conflation of two posts I’d been thinking about — one on Stoicism and the other on meaning. So it meanders a bit, but in a chaotic time, I guess even blog posts can be somewhat disorganized.

I’m not sure I’ve become wiser in my comments — I’d like to believe this, but I think I may have become more short-tempered and confrontational. But maybe I’m forgetting what I was like five or ten years ago. I could’ve been even worse!

I think there are all kinds of ways of finding a purpose in life, including the role of spectator. "They also serve who only stand and wait." I do find it fascinating to see it all unravel. It’s like living in the last days of the Roman Empire, when Romulus Augustus, the last Roman to occupy the throne, was beset by the Visigoths (who, by the way, had a perfectly valid basis for their hostility toward him). But on the more positive side, Rome didn’t fall overnight. Though the end of the Western Empire is traditionally dated 476, when Romulus was forced to abdicate, the Empire actually persisted for decades after that, albeit in a state of decline. The Dark Ages weren’t ushered in overnight.

And in our time, there are alternatives to Western civilization. India, China, and perhaps Eastern Europe come to mind. All of these have their downsides, but perhaps collectively they can keep the world as a whole from descending into Mad Max territory. But I don’t expect to witness that part of the story.

Michael,
You may feel more short-tempered and confrontational but I think you have managed to control your impulses in your written words. i think you have become very tolerant (I am comparing with myself now) and have showed restraint at times I would have run amuck with an ugly mean response.- AOD.

Michael,

I can sympathize with the struggle to find purpose in life. I think in an era of great change such as ours, we have to keep reinventing ourselves, in both the public and private senses, and that can certainly be fatiguing.

I think, however, that you have missed a big endeavor wherein others find value and purpose in you, even if it did not immediately come to mind when you wrote this post: this blog.

It can be easy to assume that others are out there somewhere doing the important stuff, not us. But actually, your blog is one of the few substantial blogs about the Afterlife online and arguably the best. You keep current with the latest information and connect people to it. Further, you have advanced your own ideas. It all may be baby steps in getting these phenomena integrated into the larger scientific paradigm--or it may be major steps. Time will tell. At the very least, you are helping keep everything in order so that, when the time is right, people can take it up and run with it.

Plus, you've created a great community here.

Further, I would counsel not buying into the internal/external narrative about your writing career winding down--unless you want that. In the scheme of things, you are still young. You have the power to do anything you want. Alter reality if that's what you feel like doing.

Regarding the points about hysteria and Western civilization, I have a different framework through which I see things. As a New Age Liberal, I see our society evolving into one that is better. I see the response to the virus as an imperfect response to a big challenge that nevertheless is allowing to teach ourselves about our oneness as a species and the necessity--and our ability--to come together in that spirit. I see the response to the murder of George Floyd as dovetailing with the response to the virus. We are collectively seeking a higher and better way.

Those are my thoughts at the moment. I appreciate your good work and hope you continue it!

Your 2016 crisis seems Protestant and single-minded in its insistence on productivity: extremely goal oriented, ever in need of a purpose, what should I be DOING?, if I don't have definite direction then I have no reason to be here and therefore it's time to leave ("extraction"), what is my specific role/goal?, etc.

Assuming your needs of the physical plane are met - food, water, shelter, friendship - maybe it's ok to de-emphasize the narrow focus on the GOAL and your ROLE. Let go of the need to always be "doing"...and enjoy the great gift of just "being." Revel in the nature around you and this beautiful, glowing green and blue sphere of abundance that you have incarnated on. Swim and splash. Lay down idly and take in the sunshine. Have a cocktail - or three - and put your feet up. Learn to laugh, deeply, rolling and lolling on the floor. Let go of the reins. Forget about your "goal" and your legacy and channel your inner Jimmy Buffet. Maybe it's okay to just be insignificant blips, even though our ego is telling us we must leave a lasting legacy...Because the truly important work is inner, not outer.

I think a "purpose-driven life" is not particularly conducive to happiness or health, and highly overrated, and tending toward hypertension! lol. One can also argue that this attitude is at the root of Western European imperialism over the last 500 years in the conquering, colonization and exploitation of the Americas, Australia, Africa, Hawaii, etc. And now the chickens are beginning to come home to roost. Of course they are...Wouldn't you, if your race or land had been exploited so mercilessly and for so very long by the "smart people arriving from the Great Countries...they will eat us up." - Samuel Kamakau.

We are entering a time when the white, Western, male's relentless obsessions with efficiency, productivity, land, resources, and established roles/hierarchy are no longer being tolerated as much. And it's probably a good thing...and long overdue. Perhaps the same purge taking place in societies right now needs to take place in individuals. Now is the time to reevaluate old ways of doing life, to release outmoded concepts that were indoctrinated very early on.

Ro, I appreciate the advice, but that lifestyle just isn’t me. Without a purpose, I’m lost. My basis for believing that we need meaning and purpose is "Man's Search for a Meaning," by Victor Frankl. Frankl, imprisoned in a Nazi death camp, learned that only by supplying themselves with meaning could the inmates survive psychologically. He expanded on this insight In his work as a therapist after the war. Admittedly, any sort of meaning can fit Frankl's prescription, including the commitment to nature that you describe. But I’m not built that way.

Matt, thanks for the kind words about ye olde blog. I wish I could be optimistic about the changes we’re seeing, but I’m not. I see no good outcome right now. If Trump is reelected, the chaos will intensify as the left explodes. If Trump loses, the left will have learned that chaos works, and they’ll apply it to more controversies. Either way, I’m hard pressed to see the US holding together in its present form for the duration of this decade. For me, the question is what comes next: total anarchy, civil war, a dictatorship of the right or left, invasion and occupation by a hostile power, or a peaceful dissolution into two or more smaller countries (perhaps with an overarching authority similar to the European Parliament for dealing with national defense, the national debt, and monetary policy). Of these, only the last holds out any hope, and it’s the least likely of the five.

Very interesting, Michael.

I think you have more writing to do, but I still understand the gist of your sentiments.

I have been going through something similar. I have my wife to be with, grow with and care for - and I look forward to retiring and being able to have more energy to write some music and learn to play guitar the way I want to. However, the question of larger purpose remains.

It turns out that I have arrived at a conclusion, for now at least, that is not dissimilar to yours. I think I have mentioned that my background on my father's side is immigrants from the Middle East and I tend to draw from that side more often in my day to day life. On my mother's side, though, my family has deep roots in America. In fact, I am related to George Washington. Washington had no children, but his mother's brother did. George Washington's mother was Mary ball and my mother's maiden name, not by coincidence, was Ball. George Washington is my great Uncle X I forget how many. My direct ancestors also fought in the revolutionary war and had a heavy influence in the development of the country after the war, especially in developing the state of Virginia and as delegates to the Constitutional Convention.

Ever since I was a toddler I have had moments when my thoughts are drifting and I have a conversation in my mind wherein I don't reference the source of the thoughts as "I" (I think, I should, I will). Rather, the thinker uses the term "we". When I was a child, I thought that was normal. It really seemed, looking back on it, as if there was a committee discussing whatever I was thinking about; not like schizophrenia or anything. The committee is harmonious and supportive and wise.

Recently I have caught myself, more than once, using that "we" as the thinker and "we" were saying something like, "Well, we started this country and now we are here to witness how that great experiment ends. It should prove instructive". This has happened, with similar thoughts, several times in the past couple of years.

Now, you might think that such thoughts would be upsetting. They are tinged with sadness to be sure. Yet, they also bring a sense of calm and understanding. Like you, I feel that one of my purposes is indeed to simply witness how the ideals of the country decayed (they have) and then die or morph into something else. It's actually somehow calming to feel that is a major purpose of my continued existence here.

I would have never shared any of that if you hadn't first because it sounds a little crazy (?). I guess this is the right place to share if there ever was one.

Well, let's see what the future brings and face it with courage, calm and hopefully, even a touch of humor.

Hi Michael.

It sounds to me that you have reached a watershed of some sort in your life. I’m inclined to agree with AOD’s comments.

I’ve always like stoicism myself and it has value, but like any other philosophy it’s not a panacea I guess and taken to the extreme I can see it being potentially harmful.

It could well be that the value you get from life now is indeed to be observing what happens. I wouldn’t rule out another theme emerging in time (not that you seem to be ruling anything out).

Perhaps along similar lines, and it may be my age, I’m finding in some ways the world is moving away from me. Maybe that’s natural, after all we’re not intended to be here forever. I can see there being a time when it has little if any relevance for me. Then I really may have overstayed my welcome.

Hope all’s well with you.

Michael,
I have been thinking about your predicament. Without getting too personal, I sense a kind of anguish in your comments that concerns me. While becoming an observer of life may be a default ‘activity’, I think it is a kind of giving up of sorts or rolling over before the beast that would devour you. I think that it is not a healthful way to spend one’s time in an incarnation on earth when there appears to be so much that needs to be done; things requiring involvement---blood, sweat and tears!

I know, I know, it is not for me to tell other people what to do. But---I am going to offer a suggestion.

Why not put that ability to observe, comment and record history to work as an activity that might make a contribution to humankind and give you a purpose for living. In addition, structure and routine of a regular job might help you to find meaning in life for the rest of your life. Sitting on a porch watching the cars go by for another 30 years or more doesn’t help anyone, least of all yourself.

With your credentials as a writer and writing experience I wondered if you have ever considered becoming an editor at a publishing company or perhaps an editorship of a magazine dedicated to certain topics that coincide with your interests. It seems to me that it would be a natural progression for you. You are at the right age for this, have the right education and are experienced as a published author--- and apparently you are not now encumbered with heavy responsibilities.

Now is the time to ‘seize the day’ as someone once said. This life truly is short.

With warm regards - AOD.

Thanks for this post, Michael. I stumbled across your blog today for the first time and what a welcome respite from the insanity. As I start a new journey renovating a small farm today, your words were encouraging as I seek to find balance and meaning within the chaos our time. Thank you! Laurel

Wow, I seem to have stumbled upon a kindred spirit. I can see I have a lot of reading ahead but I've certainly got the time right now.

I too have had my ear to the ground for quite some time. I don't think of it so much as watching from the sidelines though. My career is as an IT analyst and manager but I've always tended to analyze (some would say over-analyze) everything using a wide variety of seemingly disparate information. So I think why I'm here now is to calmly analyze what is going on and try to make educated guesses as to which direction to take.

I'm so glad I found your post Michael and I look forward to reading though all of your other posts and probably a few books as well.

The date to watch for, if we make it that far, is November 4, 2020 - the day after our presidential election. Whoever wins, it won't be fun.

Oh, and while we're at it, the Earth's magnetic field is apparently breaking up. Not just drifting as reported earlier, but actually splitting up into parts.
https://mysteriousuniverse.org/2020/05/the-anomaly-that-weakens-the-earths-magnetic-field-is-splitting-in-half/

Cosmic confluence of events? Dark synchronicity? Heck, we're not fully half way through the year yet.

Pollyanna that I am, I believe a Greater Good will ultimately prevail, but it may take some time and pain. Seriously though, the fear is likely worse than the event.

*sigh* We'll see...

I tried Stoicism for a while a few years back, but it didn't work for me; as you point out, it's a pitiless philosophy that assumes people can become Übermensch unaffected by grief, sadness, uncertainty, and fear. My experience in life is that no one can, much less myself.

Perhaps our current times of crisis is because humanity needs to dig up and address a lot of the stuff we've buried and tried to cover up over the years, like tribalism and nationalism. Or perhaps we're in a period of history where the poor and working class become so desperate for life to get better that they'll latch onto anyone who promises to make it happen and validates their anger at a flawed system, and the unfortunate outcome is dictatorship, tyranny, and subjugation, and generally making things worse. Or maybe God is trying for the 80 millionth time to make humanity learn that electing selfish, power-hungry thugs is not the best idea when it comes to leadership.

Whatever the answer may be, the thing that gets me through all the doom, despair, and 2020 in general (I can only imagine the alcohol industry's profits come New Years Eve) is the feeling of, "Yes, things are bad, but in the long run they will get better." This pandemic will inevitably end, as will our political crisis (though how, I can't say), and hopefully people will calm down and get their collective s*it together and realize that helping each other is better than being at each other's throats all the time. I also find it useful to focus on, 'How can I help make things better?' There's only so much that I can do as an individual, but knowing that I'm being kind to those who are stressed out, that I'm helping people laugh with a joke, or just trying to make their days better does wonders for one's mental health.

\\"I tried Stoicism for a while a few years back, but it didn't work for me; as you point out, it's a pitiless philosophy that assumes people can become Übermensch unaffected by grief, sadness, uncertainty, and fear. My experience in life is that no one can, much less myself." Ian//
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Yeah, and it's that way on purpose because emotion and memory are connected. It's how we learn and remember the stuff we came here to experience and learn. Life isn't supposed to be fun and easy all the time. When we are challenged we are learning and it all has a whole lot to do with "why we are here."

Emotions make the memory last
https://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20050131/emotions-make-memory-last

Mike,
I thought your post was razor sharp. Interesting how you blend the old with the new. I agree with you. I too, feel that I am a part of the whole that has been given a new purpose. This will unfold as it will and I too will be watching.

You know, Michael, I know that for myself, I find that I have been feeling what can only described as apathy for a while now. A kneejerk reaction of "Oh who cares, it'll all work out as it should in the end."

On the one hand I feel the pain of marginalized people, their suffering, and even animal's suffering.

But I have a detachment where I tend to look at the big picture and just think, "Well, things are progressing just as they are meant to, and real change comes with baby steps. So just let it play out and try not to stress too much about it."

I do always try to see the big, overarching picture of how history plays out over the long term, and not laser focus on small details and slights that people freak out about in the moment.

I simply wanted to convey to you Michael that you are not the only one who is feeling a bit "numb" or like you're spinning your wheels right now, wondering what will come and what your place will be in the new normal. Many spiritual seekers who are observing and trying to understand, make the connections, and figure it all out. You know, the high entity Vettelini from Cornilier's book "The Survival of the Soul and It's Evolution After Death" said it is of paramount importance in spiritual development to attempt to *understand* what's really going on...in any situations.

I'm rambling so I'll sign off. But I will say, Michael, that my previous post to you a couple days ago was a bit reductive and superficial. I do actually understand the feeling of being kind of done with physical life, and ready to leave. I am not afraid of physical death and I often feel that when I'm done taking care of my father, I may be ready to go, even though I'll still be relatively young. You are NOT alone in such thoughts of extraction. But always remember that physical incarnation is a gift, and it produces exponential spiritual growth in dealing with this plane of resistance and struggle. Hang in there. Just as I will. :-)

Michael, for a long time I have a had a sense that write as a lonely sounding man, and if that is correct, you have my sympathy.

But you also have sounded like someone who watches too much Fox News, and has bought into the bullshit, and cynical, American Right, decades-long meme that the Left has been plotting against all that is good and right with the world, and the fantasy that Democrats had America on some "disaster" path of wrong direction - that the 2016 election was the Flight 93 election. That something like universal health care is "socialism"; that Trump - the most blatantly ill informed person ever to aspire to the Presidency and whose chronic narcissism is on daily display - would somehow fix it all up.

I'm sorry, but the rest of the world, and a majority of Americans, see that this is complete rubbish.

The Right has talked itself out of believing science - hence it is no coincidence that denial of climate change co-relates so frequency with denial of the seriousness of COVID-19. (And by the way, Nature yesterday had a lengthy report on the latest work on estimating lethality, and it seems to be settling on .5 to 1%. Up to 4 times higher than the estimate you're relying on.)

Lots of liberal journalists have written about this at length - David Roberts at Vox called it the epistemic crisis of America - populist Right wing journalism and politicians, and the conspiracy enabling social media, mean that Americans cannot even agree on basic facts anymore. And Trump is leading this post modern version of truth - if it's against him, it's "fake news" and his cult like followers believe him.

Now, I am not accusing you as being a fully fledged member of his cult, but honestly, if you can't see the damage that he and his virtual State media outlets have caused to national unity and consensus on facts and reality, you have been sucked in too.

The Left does have its issues with illiberal liberalism, but social media campaigns to stop someone speaking on campus, or even pulling down a statue or 50, carries nothing like the seriousness of, say, refusal to even acknowledge that there is a coming crisis of climate change.

In short - pull yourself together. Any divisiveness you're witnessing has been brought on primarily by the side of politics you are sympathetic to.

And its very irritating to watch Right wingers - who ignore warnings of actual and real danger from climate change and pandemics - invent their own faked up culture war crisis of society to panic about.

No - American is not going to fall apart.

Trump and a lot of Republicans will be given the boot in November and the entire world will breath a sigh of relief that his weird and disreputable rule is over.

Rupert Murdoch and his family's cynical pandering to older Americans to panic will eventually go - old age will catch up them eventually. Moderate Republicans will replace the inane bunch in Washington now.

Young people will get on with the changes needed to re-arranging energy creation and use to reduce the worst possible outcomes of global warming.

Things will stabilise and get back on track.

In the meantime, you need to get out of the house and do some charity work, if you don't already do so. That will be better for you in this and any next life than moping around watching a imagined dissolution of society on the TV each day.


Steve from Brisbane, you really should work on your humility. Your comment is condescending and full of the hubris of the young who think they have all the answers and, naturally, "belong on the right side of history".

\\"But you also have sounded like someone who watches too much Fox News," Steve from Brisbane"//
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That was hilarious! Judgy much? LOL! I don't think you know our Michael as well as you think you do? I'd bet anything that he doesn't watch too much of any news and that he doesn't care as much about politics as you think he does.

I do find it rather sad that the best the Democrats can come up with is Joe Biden. Why is it that our Presidential candidates are so weird and old? (And I'm asking this as an old person myself.) Why did all the young and forward thinking candidates for president end up getting cut? So for the next Presidential election I'm left to choose between Joe Biden and Donald Trump? Ugh! (and I'm not going to vote for any "waste your vote" candidates. I've fallen for that before and I won't do it again.)

And I continually ask myself "why do I even care?" Will it really even affect my life that much? I figure that at least 80% of my life is behind me and I might have ~ 20% left to live? All I gotta do is make it another few years and then I'm outta here and I'm pretty sure from the other side I won't give two hoots who was elected President in the 2020 election?

I’m not lonely, but I am depressed as I watch things fall apart. Polls show that Americans of all partisan shades are depressed about the future.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/americans-are-unhappiest-they-ve-been-50-years-poll-finds-n1231153

Even the CDC now acknowledges an IFR of 0.26% (still probably too high) for COVID.

I don’t watch TV news, Fox or otherwise. All of it is aimed at emotional triggering — making people feel outraged.

"... social media campaigns to stop someone speaking on campus, or even pulling down a statue or 50, carries nothing like the seriousness of, say, refusal to even acknowledge that there is a coming crisis of climate change."

Couldn’t disagree more. We’re facing an epidemic of intolerance and violent reprisals against free speech in the US, and it’s not limited to statues or college campuses. If you’re in Australia, I’m not sure you grasp the sheer chaos that’s going on in this country or the chilling effect that's being felt throughout our institutions, with people being fired for decade-old tweets or for expressing politically incorrect opinions.

The unraveling of the US is underway right now. Electing Joe Biden won’t stop it. I wish it were that simple.

Art wrote, "I'd bet anything that he doesn't watch too much of any news and that he doesn't care as much about politics as you think he does."

Well ... you'd lose part of that bet, I'm afraid. I don't watch the news on TV, but I do follow current events, and I care about political developments, which I find increasingly ominous.

I've developed some coping strategies, one of which I mention in the main post. Another is a strategy used by men in combat. They simply tell themselves, "I'm already dead." Oddly enough, this reduces their anxiety about the future — they have nothing to lose. I find this works to some extent even in civilian life. If I say, "I'm already dead, and civilization is already dead," then nothing can seem too important. I actually don't care that much about the election in November. What difference does it make who wins, when we're already dead?
Basically, to survive psychologically, you need to detach from events. Otherwise, you'll be emotionally swept away.

,
Steve from Brisbane:
Comments that make assumptions and provide generalizations and predict the future, without any facts to back them up are interesting but only important to the one who makes them. - AOD

\\"I've developed some coping strategies, one of which I mention in the main post." - Michael P//
-----------------------------

My coping strategy is my belief in NDEs and the holographic universe theory. And I have a pretty high confidence in the two together, i.e. consilience.

"I felt an understanding about life, what it was, is. As if, it was a dream in itself. It's so very hard to explain this part. I'll try, but my words limit the fullness of it. I don't have the words here, but I understood that it really didn't matter what happened in the life experience. I knew/understood that it was intense, brief, but when we were in it, it seemed like forever. I understood that whatever happened in life, I was okay, and so were the others here." excerpt from Michelle M's NDE description, https://www.nderf.org/Experiences/1michelle_m_nde.html

"It taught me that everyone, everything, is in its right place. Always will be, no matter how much we try to change, or try to destroy, or try to create, we're simply doing exactly what was planned. The meaning of life, as I felt it to be, is simply to live." Excerpt from James E's NDE description, https://www.nderf.org/Experiences/1james_e_nde.html

"But the day before he passed away, he wrote me a note: "This is all an elaborate hoax." I asked him, "What's a hoax?" And he was talking about this world, this place. He said it was all an illusion." from Roger Ebert's final moments with his wife, https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/news/a26606/roger-ebert-final-moments/

"At its deeper level reality is a sort of superhologram in which the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously." from The Universe as a Hologram,, http://www.earthportals.com/hologram.html

"Robert Blair Kaiser is an author and a former correspondent for Time magazine. Reviewing a book about miracles he wrote: "In 1994, behind the wheel of my Mercedes, I lurched out of my driveway and was awakened from my dreamy preoccupation by the sight of a speeding car bearing down on me, not five feet away on my left. I knew I was a dead man.

"All of a sudden, that car was on my right. The driver weaved a bit, braked for a moment and then drove off, shaking his head in disbelief, as I was. For it was clear to me, there was no way he could have missed crashing into me, no way he could have steered aside. His car had flashed through my car, his steel and glass and rubber passing through my steel and glass and rubber like a ray of light through a pane of alabaster." from near-death.com, https://www.near-death.com/philosophy/atheism/an-analysis-of-the-ndes-of-atheists.html

and I have many more... suffice it to say I'm pretty sure that this whole universe and everything in it is some kind of projection from someplace else and the whole thing exists as some kind of "school" to teach us a few simple lessons before we merge or transition to the place we call heaven.

So there is no need to get too wound up about anything because it's all just an illusion. Just like many Eastern Religions have been saying for thousands of years.

Michael, yes I made many assumptions about you, and am happy to be corrected about some of them.

I am very curious as to which news sources you read - as you say you don't like the "emotional triggers" of TV news, yet I reckon that anyone who is depressed about the US being about to dissolve is buying into the Right wing take on politics that (as I explained) has been cynically exploited by Right wing politicians and media for at least a couple of decades now. (Left wingers are depressed - but honestly, the rest of the globe - except Russia - is pretty depressed that the world's leading democracy managed to vote in the embarrassment that is Donald Trump.)

I see that you have avoided a key part of my argument - that it is the political Right in America which has deliberately brought in the most hate, division, fear and conspiracy belief into American politics. Do you acknowledge that the Right is more extreme now than it was under past Republican presidents including Reagan and the Bushes? That those Presidents at least tried to present an appeal to national unity, and now you have Trump for whom anyone, absolutely anyone, who disagrees with him is an enemy of the State, including entire news networks. (He only tolerates Fox News because of the evening tongue baths he luxuriates in.)

How appalling was it that Trump rang a whole campaign around wanting to incarcerate his political opponent?

How appalling was the "birtherism" and the barely concealed racist motives for highly personal attacks on Obama and his wife? That Right wing conspiracy theories run so amock that you had a gun toting idiot trying to liberate children from a nonexistent basement in a pizza shop? That QAnon is a thing at all, and they show up at the President's rallies, where he will "joke" with them about taking out a jeering audience member and beat him up?

Yes, there are Left wing nutters too - they are not usually the ones arming themselves to the teeth because they have imaginary fears that a President is going to ignore the constitution and take their guns off them as the black helicopters fly overhead.

If you can point me to anything on the Left like the extent of the fantasies of "boogaloo" Right that they are the ones who are going to put down a coming civil war, show me. Where are the armed Black Panthers of today with their threat of race war?

Again, pull yourself together and do the right thing and November.

Hey Michael. That's how I deal with the decadence of my own country, Argentina. Only a century ago my country was Latin America's brightest star: the wealthiest, most powerful and famous country in the region. Today? Pff, we are a shadow of our former selves.

Inevitably, nothing ever endures, not even the USA. There comes the imminent time in which the human race will be no more, and at that time it will be like we were never here.

We are already dead already, might aswell enjoy as much as we can while the dance lasts.

Steve in Brisbrane,
Are you in Brisbane, Ohio or in that other Brisbane that is in another country far away? Because if you're in Australia, how the hell do you know what is happening in the US? I've never been to Aussie land.

All I know is that there are some nice beaches, Aussies like to surf. Aussies talk funny and like to drink a lot. Sometimes they get attacked by great white sharks. There are also big crocodiles. The interior of the country is full of kangaroos. There used to be aborigine tribes, but they kind of kind crushed out by colonialism. Now they sort of sulk around on reservations or something like that. I think they drive on the same side of the road as Americans, but they might do that backwards too, like Brits. ...what else? Hmmm. That's about it.

I got all of that from TV.

I'm not going to lecture you on your way of life based on that limited knowledge of your culture and I will ask you to try not to be an ignorant, arrogant, boor with regards to what is happening in the US based on perceptions you soaked up via whatever limited media you pay attention to.

Steve's IP address locates him in Australia. I've never been there either. Both Australia and New Zealand look like spectacular places to visit.

Steve of Brisbane:
Generalizations, exaggerations and assumptions are “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing!” Actually I was going to list statements in your recent comments what were generalizations, exaggerations and assumptions but when I did, I found that every sentence with a couple of exceptions were generalizations, exaggerations or assumptions. Oh well, here are some of the ‘best’ ones.

You [Michael Prescott] don't like the "emotional triggers" of TV news,

[A]nyone who is depressed about the US being about to dissolve is buying into the Right wing take on politics that has been cynically exploited by Right wing politicians and media for at least a couple of decades now.

Left wingers are depressed but the rest of the globe - except Russia - is pretty depressed that the world's leading democracy managed to vote in the embarrassment that is Donald Trump.

[T]he political Right in America has deliberately brought in the most hate, division, fear and conspiracy belief into American politics.

[T]he Right is more extreme now than it was under past Republican presidents including Reagan and the Bushes
.
[N]ow you have Trump for whom anyone, absolutely anyone, who disagrees with him is an enemy of the State, including entire news networks. (He only tolerates Fox News because of the evening tongue baths he luxuriates in.

How appalling was it that Trump rang a whole campaign around wanting to incarcerate his political opponent?

How appalling was the barely concealed racist motives for highly personal attacks on Obama and his wife?

That Right wing conspiracy theories run so amock that you [?] had a gun toting idiot trying to liberate children from a nonexistent basement in a pizza shop?

That QAnon is a thing at all, and they show up at the President's rallies, where he will "joke" with them about taking out a jeering audience member and beat him up?

[T]hey are not usually the ones arming themselves to the teeth because they have imaginary fears that a President is going to ignore the constitution and take their guns off them as the black helicopters fly overhead.

If you can point me to anything on the Left like the extent of the fantasies of "boogaloo" Right that they are the ones who are going to put down a coming civil war, show me.

Statements like those above are indications of an uneducated person with no facts, little experience or capability to present a defensible argument. When those people fail to convince with their vacuosity they often have a temper tantrum, which we see the rabid leftist liberals having now. - AOD

Australia looks hot, dry, and dusty to me. It is a very old continent and so all the original animals in Australia evolved like 50 million years ago? And oh yeah, 98% of the snakes in Australia are deadly poisonous and can kill you in like 20 minutes or less? Then there are giant funnel web spiders and also red back spiders that are poisonous and I think there is a tree in Australia that if you touch it causes excruciating pain? Not to mention box jellyfish and little blue ringed octopus and cone snails that can kill you and if you swim out too far there are great white sharks which they call "white pointers" so there's that too. So, no thanks mate!

I would like to eat some kangaroo meat so I can cross it off my bucket list but other than that I can't think of a really good reason to visit Australia? I can buy shrimp and cook them on the barbie right here in Tennessee! {grin!}

Australia and NZ do look like nice places to visit.

Sorry. Sometimes I get tired of people telling me what the truth of my country is in highly critical ways when I'm pretty sure they're just repeating what they have been told by slanted sources with an agenda and have little or no actual experience.

It's part of the problem. If everyone were concerned with making themselves better and their local communities better and not preaching to others about their sins, in sweeping generalizations, we'd all be better off; including the preachers.

"... other than that I can't think of a really good reason to visit Australia?"

The women, mate! This is the country that gave us Elle MacPherson.

Also, incredible natural beauty, vast open spaces, and adorable koala bears!

Michael, I just wanted to add my voice to those expressing deep appreciation for this blog, which I have read for a decade at this point.

I'm still not sure what I believe in terms of spirituality -- I struggle reconciling our Evolutionary history with a transcendent purpose -- but you and several of the regular commenters have inspired me to ponder these questions far, far more than any traditional religious appeal ever did.

Also the Shakespeare authorship controversy has been fascinating to examine, and I lean towards Derby too.

I share your political diagnosis and pessimism. Whatever happens though, you've rendered a true service to others.

In fact, the open mindedness you spurred, helped me ignore the nihilism inherent in the atheist materialist orthodoxy of the social sphere in which I was raised and educated, and decide to have my first child, born in 2016. Obviously my political worries are a grave source of anxiety for my daughter's future, but she's also something I'll fight to protect.

\\"The women, mate! This is the country that gave us Elle MacPherson." - Michael Prescott//
------------------------------------

LOL! At this stage of my life that is no longer a big motivator. Plus I've got a wife and I'm pretty sure she wouldn't want me gawking at Aussie women. To be honest I'd be just as happy to just drive down to Vero Beach, Florida and hang out with all the other old retired geezers and maybe go to Sebastian Inlet and do a little fishing?

Vero Beach is a small coastal retirement resort community on Florida's Atlantic coast about ~ 130 miles north of Miami. They call it the "Hamptons of Miami." Gloria Estefan and her husband own a big mansion there. I lived there for about a year and half when I was about 18 to 20 years old. I dropped out of college for a while before retaking English 101 (and passing it with a B!) at Indian River Community College in Ft. Pierce, Florida ... and then heading back to Athens, Georgia to get my degree in Animal Science at the University of Georgia.

Thanks very much, Victoria! Glad my thoughts and those of this blog's many commenters could be of some help.

Here's my (probably unhelpful) thought for the day. Remember how, back around 1990, crowds tore down the Berlin Wall while the authorities stood and watched? Now, here in the US, crowds tear down monuments, burn police stations, and set up "autonomous zones," while in many places the authorities stand and watch (or actively assist).

Two points stand out. First, this complete breakdown happened in the USSR because people (both ordinary folks and those in authority) had stopped believing in the system and no longer felt it was worth preserving. It seems that in many parts of the US, the same holds true today. Second, the speed with which the USSR came unglued was shocking. It did not take years; it took weeks.

I'm not trying to establish moral equivalency between a Stalinist dictatorship and whatever's left of our Constitutional republic. I'm just pointing out that when the social fabric starts to unravel, the whole garment can come apart very fast.

As for why people have lost any belief in America ... well, part of it is an educational system that stresses slavery, patriarchy, and oppression as the defining issues of our history. Who would want to defend such a rotten country? Lost in this indoctrination is that slavery, patriarchy, and oppression were baked into the cake of civilization for thousands of years.

Another factor may be the depressingly periodic challenges to our economy. Every ten years or so, we get slammed. 9-11 pounded us in 2001. The subprime mortgage/derivatives blowup hit us even harder in 2008-9. And now in 2020, the COVID lockdowns have put us back into a steep recession. I know someone on Facebook who spent the last ten years rebuilding her business after the depression of '08, and now her business has been destroyed again by the depression of '20. At a certain point, people just give up.

Are we seeing the Great Unraveling? Some say nah, it's just a Trump thing, and once Biden takes office, everything will get back to normal. I'd like to believe that. If I thought Biden could get us back on track, I would vote for him. But I think we are far past the point where we can fix things that easily.

\\"Are we seeing the Great Unraveling?" - Michael Prescott//
----------------------

No, everything is happening exactly the way it is supposed to. Stuff to teach us what it means and how it feels to be separate, unique, individual. What time and space look and feel like. What it feels like to be in a body and control of that body, what "out there" looks and feels like, and make memories of what it was like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe.

"There is no distance here. So time does not exist."
Mark H NDE description, https://www.nderf.org/Experiences/1mark_h_nde.html

"It taught me that everyone, everything, is in its right place. Always will be, no matter how much we try to change, or try to destroy, or try to create, we're simply doing exactly what was planned."
James E's NDE, https://www.nderf.org/Experiences/1james_e_nde.html

"I felt an understanding about life, what it was, is. As if, it was a dream in itself. It's so very hard to explain this part. I'll try, but my words limit the fullness of it. I don't have the words here, but I understood that it really didn't matter what happened in the life experience. I knew/understood that it was intense, brief, but when we were in it, it seemed like forever. I understood that whatever happened in life, I was okay, and so were the others here."
Michelle M's NDE, https://www.nderf.org/Experiences/1michelle_m_nde.html

"At its deeper level reality is a sort of super hologram in which the past, present, and future all exist simultaneously."
from The Universe as a Hologram, http://www.earthportals.com/hologram.html

I like the way my comments have seemed to enliven you a bit, Michael.

I also like the way (sarcasm now) that no one is addressing the key point I have been making - that it is no coincidence that social division within America has been increasing with the (at least) 2 decade rise of the conspiracy breeding Right wing media and social media, and the way capitalist such as the Murdoch family (and the Koch family) has seen that there is a buck to be made in pandering to increasing the outrage quotient of (primarily) ageing White Americans and spreading appalling conspiracies (such as climate change is a myth, and/or a socialist program of the Chinese.)

I used to get Fox News on cable about 10 to 15 years ago - of course it was Right wing then, but nothing like the pure, 100% aggressive partisanship of its evening line up now. And not just in their slavish support of Trump, but in their active demonisation of everyone on the Left. (Bearing in mind that "the Left" in American politics has generally been more centrist than the Left in most other countries, too.)

All I get in response is a "you don't know what you are talking about" from Amos Doyle, and a "you don't live here how would you know" from Eric; rebuttals which I find, shall we say, less than convincing.

IMO, there's still plenty to discover in the realm of the paranormal, and your blog has been a great resource. Let others bicker about politics.

Yesterday, I got my first psychic/medium reading. It was exhausting because I was trying to prevent her fishing and doing cold reading. I think I caught a bit of both, but she also got some things correct in a very uncanny way that I couldn't explain. And yet was she trying to draw information out of me? It was a weird experience all-in-all.

And then the question is why do have mediums at all? If our loved ones want to communicate with us, why do they need a stranger to do so?

These and many, many other questions must still still be addressed.

Steve from Brisbane:
Steve writes, “All I get in response is a "you don't know what you are talking about" from Amos Doyle, . . . “

Steve, are you aware that what you have quoted as a response from me is an outright lie? Anyone can search all of the comments I have ever made on this blog in the past 10 years and they will never find the quote you attribute to me. Are you so dense that you do not understand that you cannot participate in public discourse in an intelligent way by lying about what someone said and making assumptions, generalizations and exaggerations? - AOD

Kathleen, I understand your point, but I’m afraid the situation in the US has gone far beyond "bickering about politics" at this point. It's true that there are many issues left to explore in the realm of psi and postmortem survival, but I’m not sure I’m up to the task these days.

Steve, I simply disagree that the right in the US has been radicalized more than the left. Both sides have become more extreme, but as I see it, the left has gone completely crazy in the last few years, starting with the Occupy movement and proceeding through the rise of Bernie Sanders and socialism, Antifa and BLM, "Russian collusion" and other conspiracy theories, cancel culture and new calls for racial segregation, and now widespread social disorder, violence, and anarchy. Whatever Trump’s faults, and there are plenty, he’s not actively trying to bring down the country and replace it with a Maoist or Stalinist dictatorship, which appears to be the goal of the "progressives."

We’re unlikely to see eye to eye on this, I’m afraid. And I don’t think it was wrong for Eric to point out that as someone living on the opposite side of the globe, you're not in the best position to know what’s going on here, just as we in the US aren't in the best position to understand the politics of Australia.

I live in the heartland of America and where I live and in a large number of the adjacent states, absolutely NOTHING is happening. It’s a beautiful summer day and people are going about their regular activities, sometimes wearing a mask sometimes not. No one is terrorizing or destroying businesses in the center of town or anywhere else. What happens in Portland or Seattle, Minneapolis or Atlanta, New York City or Baltimore is far removed from us here in Springfield. The United States is a very large country (perhaps difficult for people living in small countries to acknowledge the difference between 50 states and their small country) and what happens in a few isolated cities on the east or west coasts of the fifty united states does not represent the beliefs or behaviors of the common/normal working people of America. -AOD

Two points stand out. First, this complete breakdown happened in the USSR because people (both ordinary folks and those in authority) had stopped believing in the system and no longer felt it was worth preserving. It seems that in many parts of the US, the same holds true today. Second, the speed with which the USSR came unglued was shocking. It did not take years; it took weeks.

A reader from Eastern Europe here: I think I have some things to say on this. When talking of the breakdown of the USSR, I distinguish between the territorial breakdown, and the system's breakdown. The territorial one happened rapidly. And it was opposed by over two thirds of the Soviet population (sources : bellow). The breakdown of the system, OTOH, developed slowly, over a better part of the 1980s. The attitudes toward it are complex. While the people were deeply critical of the system, they were – and still are - also critical of Gorbachev's 'reforms.' In the ever popular view, Gorbachev’s team deliberately dismantled the system’s functioning elements without improving the malfunctioning ones.
As a result, Gorbachev, - who appears to me an exceptionally charming person! - is nothing short of held in utter contempt by the vast majority of the former citizens of the USSR. ... I guess they know best.

People (both ordinary folks and those in authority) had stopped believing in the system and no longer felt it was worth preserving. It seems that in many parts of the US, the same holds true today.

That is right. It is a powerful factor. At the same time, some of what we're seeing now presents clear signs of top-down intervention.

That can seem extraordinary…. but, when put in historical context, it stops being so. Ever since the French Revolution, in country after country, evidence has been appearing that … apparently spontaneous anti-establishment outbursts are - not what they appear. Michael Billington's account Fire In the Minds of Men springs to mind.

The said sources :
On popular views about the USSR and Gorbachev: (1) the Soviet Union referendum in March 1991, (2) regular public surveys of popularity of public figures in Russia, (3) informal contacts with ex-Soviet citizens. e.g. Andrei Martyanov.
On the ongoing unrest : A video of police officers placing bricks goes under the title "Provocateur Agents Staging Riots Areas with Bricks." George Webb goes into more detail than anyone else. His general view is independently supported by many external observers, including the retired British diplomat experienced in unrests in the Middle East, Alastair Crooke.
Americans have largely lost touch with the crucial aspects of their social reality, argues in detail Matt Stoller. Concretely: they stopped worrying about tyrannical powers. The oligarchy is pretty well briefed by Gregory Mannarino (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P33HS9D8Grs).

In times of chaos, how to cope?
It may be just me, but in my own life, I think I save myself from a lot of disorientation, anxiety, insecurity, by consulting Quigley’s map of civilisational crisis https://archive.vn/g39Y7

Koalas look cute, but accounts of their lives make us wince.

Elle MacPherson : I like her appearance, but... place her among several other tall blonde models, I would be hard-pressed to determine which one is her.

[Men in combat] simply tell themselves, "I'm already dead." Oddly enough, this reduces their anxiety about the future [….] If I say, "I'm already dead, and civilization is already dead," then nothing can seem too important. [....] Basically, to survive psychologically, you need to detach from events. Otherwise, you'll be emotionally swept away.

I use the same approach. But, ex-therapist Daniel Mackler points out that gradually getting back ‘in touch with yourself,’ though painful, is the only way, vastly beneficial for one’s inner growth. In any case, from a “I'm dead” POV … I’d say this website was a quite small part of my life, but of a quality that has often filled me with wonder and delight. Not that it was any kind of perfect. But I have often told myself that I should be quietly grateful for this place.

Michael, I won't go on after this comment, as you say we are not going to see eye to eye, but let me add a few more observations:

* Amos, I thought my summary of what you said about my post was an accurate and pretty obvious paraphrase. Sorry if you took it literally.

* Michael, for all of your fear about where the Left has gone or is going, look at the actual politicians and what they are saying. Can you imagine the country breaking up under Joe Biden and a Democrat controlled house and senate? It won't happen. I predict that even if Trump went completely nuts with claims that the election was rigged and unfair and he wasn't leaving, and a bunch of boogaloo nutters went out on the streets with guns, there would be enough senior Republicans (not to mention Generals and media owners) who would say that enough is enough and he needs to leave for the good of the country.

We know that everyone who has worked closely with him thinks he's an ignorant fool - it is a disgrace that the Republican politicians bite their tongue about it at the moment. But they are not going to let the country dissolve over a chronic narcissist not accepting an election result, no matter how many postal ballots are used.

As for your panic about the current civil unrest - there have long been Left wing, often student, idealistic radicals in all Western countries; they sometimes get caught up in protests and riots but when was the last time they seized government or cause any real structural changes - they are not that well organised. Nor are they particularly known for arming themselves to the teeth with military style guns - that's the American Right's speciality.

Your prediction of 8 June :

"...total anarchy, civil war, a dictatorship of the right or left, invasion and occupation by a hostile power, or a peaceful dissolution into two or more smaller countries (perhaps with an overarching authority similar to the European Parliament for dealing with national defense, the national debt, and monetary policy). Of these, only the last holds out any hope, and it’s the least likely of the five."

reeks of right wing paranoia, and I predict that in a short space of time (2 to 3 years even) you will look back and be embarrassed by it.

* As for my lack of credibility in knowing what is going on in America - let's be real here - the analysis I have given in broad terms would be supported by a huge swathe of commentators in American mainstream media and on the internet. As for comparisons with Americans not being the best judge of what's going on in other countries, like mine - well, there is an obvious imbalance in information available - the smaller number of media outlets here mean less commentary and with a smaller international profile. I suspect most Americans get their commentary and make their judgements from pretty much the same sources as me.

That's all - I think...


I shouldn't get drawn into this but ... I am a progressive and know plenty of progressives, and not a single one is "trying to replace it (our government) with a Maoist or Stalinist dictatorship, which appears to be the goal of the 'progressives.'" Not a single one. Of course there are a few oddballs everywhere, but you can't smear an entire group of people. That would be like me saying all Republicans are racists and want to enslave black people again.

The progressive movement seeks to bring back some balance to a U.S. economy that's now experiencing the greatest income inequality since the Great Depression - and made worse by the Fed bailing out the stock market (that's socialism for the rich and picking winners and losers, and is hardly the "free market.") All other civilized countries have universal healthcare and somehow the U.S. "can't afford it." But can afford trillions for needless wars and huge tax cuts for corporations and the super-wealthy.

Meanwhile, we have a sitting president who have the time really sounds like he has dementia or should be in the loony bin. I've interviewed and listened to corporate executives for some time, and Trump would have never lasted a minute with his crazy nonsense. He is NOT a well man.

As for the violence today, the majority of the time, the police are starting it, attacking peaceful protesters who have Constitionally guaranteed right to protest. Should we scrap the Constitution just because some cops are annoyed?

There are two sides to this, only side one is true, and it's not the crap on Fox News.

Interesting thoughts, JR. Thanks.

AOD, it's true - America is a big country, and the street-mob craziness is mostly confined to Seattle, Minneapolis, Oakland-San Fran, and DC, for now. OTOH, there's a nationwide movement to tear down statues (Teddy Roosevelt is being taken down in NYC, not by a mob, but by the city government) and a comprehensive effort to "cancel" any public figure who speaks out of turn, as well as a continuing attack on language (even the words "chief," as in "chief engineer," and "master," as in "master bedroom," are now being ruled verboten).

Steve, we'll see what happens. You're a bit behind-the-times on the gun thing; in recent years the far left has acquired quite an arsenal, some of which is on display in CHAZ. (Look up "the John Brown Gun Club.") I'm not sure the left is as unorganized as you believe; it used to be, but Antifa and BLM appear pretty well organized to me. However, the greater threat is not from street thugs but from the media and political types who give them aid and comfort. The thugs are serving a role similar to Hitler's Brownshirts in the years leading up to the Third Reich — intimidating opponents into silence and creating an impression of disorder that requires a crackdown. The fact that Hitler was right-wing and today's brownshirts are left-wing is a detail; strategy and tactics are the same.

I'm not worried about Trump refusing to leave office — what worries me is the general trend, which (like a boulder rolling downhill) will continue no matter who wins the election. Can I see the country falling apart under President Biden and a Democratic Congress? Sure. But I can also see it falling apart under President Trump and a Republican Congress. To misquote Thoreau, "Events are in the saddle and ride mankind."

Maybe I'll look back and think I succumbed to paranoia. If so, I won't have been alone. Last year, a poll "showed that when voters were asked to rate divisions in America on a scale of 0-100, with 100 being the 'edge of a civil war,' the mean response was 67.23." This was before the latest insanity.

https://thehill.com/homenews/news/467143-voters-believe-us-two-thirds-of-the-way-to-edge-of-a-civil-war-poll

Then there's a poll from a few days ago. I don't know how accurate it is, because it's described as a "telephone and online survey"; still, Rasmussen has a generally good reputation, though they do lean to the right. FWIW, the "survey finds that 34% of Likely U.S. Voters think the United States will experience a second civil war sometime in the next five years, but that includes only nine percent (9%) who say it’s Very Likely. This compares to 31% and 11% respectively two years ago. ... While Democrats were more worried about pending civil war in 2018, now Republicans (40%) are more likely than Democrats (28%) and voters not affiliated with either major party (38%) to see a second civil war on the horizon."

https://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/social_issues/40_of_gop_voters_think_civil_war_likely

To the extent that these numbers can be trusted, they indicate that even 28% of Democratic "likely voters" expect a civil war in five years.

//I am a progressive and know plenty of progressives, and not a single one is "trying to replace it (our government) with a Maoist or Stalinist dictatorship, which appears to be the goal of the 'progressives.'"//

They should talk to the founder of Black Lives Matter.

https://disrn.com/news/video-surfaces-of-black-lives-matter-founder-saying-were-trained-marxists

//That would be like me saying all Republicans are racists and want to enslave black people again.//

That's exactly what the left is saying, every single day.

//As for the violence today, the majority of the time, the police are starting it, attacking peaceful protesters who have Constitutionally guaranteed right to protest.//

Couldn't disagree more. In my opinion, the police should have responded much more forcefully to the rioters. In most cases, they are standing back and watching while crowds topple statues, loot, and burn. Meanwhile, prosecutors are releasing the rioters as soon as they are arrested. In Washington state, the governor laughs off the occupied zone and the mayor of Seattle says it's another Summer of Love (five shootings so far).

The modern left is not the left of 50 or even 20 years ago. They do want to destroy America, which they see as a racist, patriarchal, imperialist, oppressive power that needs to be erased from history. The fact that they're toppling statues of George Washington should be a bit of a tipoff.

Steve,
Obviously if one uses quotation marks then that means that whatever is contained within the quotation marks is verbatim what was said. Quotation marks are not used around something that is a paraphrase. Perhaps a review of the Chicago Manual of Style is in order or more likely you would prefer Wikipedia. - AOD

Kathleen:
You must not be paying attention when you say that, “As for the violence today, the majority of the time, the police are starting it, attacking peaceful protesters... “

I am not aware of police starting violence by breaking into multiple stores, looting them and setting them on fire. I am not aware of police starting any violence by defacing statues, pulling them down and throwing them into the bay. Are you suggesting that police in general started violence of this sort and actually attacked “peaceful protesters”? How so?

I appreciate your opinion that, “...[W]e have a sitting president who have [sic] the time really sounds like he has dementia or should be in the loony bin. I've interviewed and listened to corporate executives for some time, and Trump would have never lasted a minute with his crazy nonsense. He is NOT a well man.”

Everyone is welcome to her opinion but don’t expect any intelligent person to believe that any of what you opine has any semblance of fact or truth. Actually your assertion of dementia, crazy nonsense and being a “not well man” is a factual description of Joe Biden on display to everyone on almost a daily basis---not Donald Trump.

You write that, “All other civilized countries have universal healthcare and somehow the U.S. "can't afford it."

Well, I don’t know if all civilized countries have universal health care but being a long-time provider of health care I don’t see many people in serious need of health care in the United States of America going without it. Maybe not everyone has the ‘platinum’ plan but everyone has available to them basic health care. Unless of their own choice, no one is languishing on the street in need to health care. It seems to me that those who speak of ‘Universal Healthcare’ really mean free health care, including any and all treatments---regardless of the medical necessity or positive outcomes---for all. - AOD

I was encouraged by Kathleen's comment, then further dismayed by your (Michael) proving her point - by making a massive generalisation about "the left", and talking about its rhetorical radicals as if they have actual support in the polling booth and in Congress. It is just as credible as if I were to say the right wants to see the USA turned into a version of The Handmaid's Tale.

I’m sorry, Steve, but the situation is far more dire than you think.

You say, "It is just as credible as if I were to say the right wants to see the USA turned into a version of The Handmaid's Tale." But a substantial portion of the US left does believe exactly this. A 2019 poll offered two choices: ""The dystopia shown in The Handmaid’s Tale is grounded in truth and could become reality someday" or "The dystopia shown in The Handmaid’s Tale capitalizes on people’s irrational fears and won’t become a reality." Result?

//Democrats were substantially more likely to agree with the first statement, with 29 percent of Democratic men and 26 percent of Democratic women selecting it, while just 8 percent of Republican men and 9 percent of Republican women agreed that Gilead could become reality.

Alternatively, 25 percent of Republican men and 18 percent of Republican women selected the second statement, saying the events of Handmaid's capitalized on irrational fears. 14 percent of Democratic men and 14 percent of Democratic women also agreed with this statement.

Categorized by ideology, the contrast is just as stark. 32 percent of liberals and just 10 percent of conservatives agreed with the first statement, while 17 percent of liberals and 20 percent of conservatives agreed with the second.//

https://mashable.com/article/handmaids-tale-democrats-republicans-survey/

So we have between one-quarter and one-third of Democrats/US liberals stating that, yes indeed, The Handmaid's Tale could be America’s future.

The realities of US politics are changing with frightening speed. Positions that were totally outside the mainstream even five years ago are de rigueur for today's left. The "progressive" (Bernie Sanders, AOC) wing of the Democratic Party is on a tear, and things are only going to get worse.

AOD, good points about the rioters. Somehow I don’t think police coerced them into looting the Nike store. Yesterday a mob tied ropes to a statue of Andrew Jackson in DC and spent hours trying to pull it down. Police just stood and watched. Maybe by standing and watching they provoked the crowd? The mere fact that much of the country makes excuses for violent anarchists is sufficient proof that the social fabric is unraveling. In a healthy society there would be general agreement that mobs running amok in the street are a bad thing. We can’t even achieve that consensus. How many leading Democrats have denounced the toppling of monuments? I can’t think of even one.

AOD: "Quotation marks are not used around something that is a paraphrase."

There's a need for a new punctuation mark to indicate a paraphrase. I've been using the carat (caret?) symbol, atop the 6 on the keyboard: ^

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