Seeking Solace

Today is the big day. An new era full of uncertainty starts with the inauguration of Donald Trump.

God save the Republic.

I firmly believe it is critical to take the long view on this, since we are about to settle in for what is likely to be a tumultuous four years. We will have to pick our battles, declare victory where we can, and always keep our eyes on the prize. For this reason, and to keep our sanity, the wisdom of the ancients should be a primary source of comfort. Today’s readings are from the Tao Te Ching, as translated by Stan Rosenthal.

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2016: The Rot at the Core

What can be said about 2016 as it winds down? Certainly, something has gone horribly wrong. What could it be?

I believe that ultimately what has broken us apart is a destructive selfishness which has metastasized into a cancer.

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Resistance

What will 2017 bring in politics? An easy prediction is that there will be chaos, given the reign of President Trump. This is an easy prediction to make given his constant stream of wild statements on twitter, at rallies, and in the media itself. The potential war with Congress, starting with an investigation into Putin’s role in the last election, is also a given. But there may be even more to it than that.

Can the left form an effective organization to stop anything at all from happening? Is it possible for progressives to effectively block any change at all? The short answer is yes, it’s entirely possible – and a few unnamed former staffers have outlined exactly how to do it. The 23 page document is very much worth reading as something of an updated “Rules for Radicals”, tailored to the situation at hand.

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Dealing with Crazy

Given the speeches, tweets, and cabinet picks of Donald Trump since the election, one thing has become very clear: we are in for a whole lot of crazy.

This term may not sit well with many people, especially those in the psychiatric field. Though it does appear that Trump himself has Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), a diagnosis from afar is rarely accurate or even reasonable. Furthermore, much of the damage we can expect in the coming years comes from those he has surrounded himself with. Many are also crazy. There may be schizophrenia, bipolar, psychopathic tendencies, NPD, or simply substance abuse in play for any of these actors.

So throw away the DSM V. We are dealing with people who have their own version of reality, and that is the point. This is about coping with crazy, regardless of where it comes from.

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Throw it to The House

With less than a week to go before the Electors vote, there is a sense of urgency. Something is up, certainly, but what exactly? What can be accomplished ahead of the December 19th vote?

Probably nothing. The Trump presidency may yet be a done deal. But there is a way out – for the Republican Party, that is. It requires only abstention, not a switch to Clinton.

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Civics 101

Driving down the interstate, your safe travel and even your life depends a lot on the competence of many other people. Sure, there is a body of law and court precedent and paid agreements with insurance companies that enforces the basic codes of decency and safety. But in the end it really comes down to the skill and attention of comrades in gasoline and steel being at their best not just casually but constantly.

Of course this fails from time to time, but considering how much time people spend behind the wheel it’s amazingly seamless and simple. The system largely works – we all get there nearly all the time. We depend on each other to not be stupid and the vast majority of the time it comes together.

This basic lesson in civics is a good place to start as the nation unravels into some kind of dark hole that frankly promises to only become darker with time. It’s a thought experiment, a self-taught lesson worth thinking through by malcontents and eggheads alike, by both those in power and those in pain.

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Bloated Pentagon Revealed

How much waste is included in the $580 billion dollar per year Defense budget?

Critics of President Obama’s reductions in the military will tell you that we have cut beyond the bone. The reduction from nearly $700B in 2008, achieved largely by reducing personnel in combat zones like Iraq and Afghanistan, has been impressive. But does this leave the military starved and incapable of doing its primary job of defending the United States around the world?

It’s been hard to tell because the Pentagon has proved unauditable for decades. But a new report shows that at least $25 billion every year cannot be justified no matter how you look at it. And the details of the report suggest that even a modest restructuring can save tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars without in any way hindering the men and women on the front lines.

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