My Father Got Sick and Died

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An audience member who was at my show last Saturday night (6/24/17) offered me some reasons why people should be denied health care: they didn’t take care of themselves; they were lazy; we shouldn’t pay for people who don’t contribute to the system. He had a very hard nosed moral tone in his voice as he offered his opinions. He felt certain sick people should feel shame for what they brought upon themselves.

You know who I think should feel ashamed? A fucking animal who would deny medical attention to any human being who needs it. ANY HUMAN! Whether someone thinks they deserve it or not. The biggest fucking bum in the world should be taken care of when he is sick, no matter how evil or undisciplined he may have been. And certainly any poor people who have had their lives destroyed by the thieving rich should receive care. ANY FUCKING BODY.

When my father was dying he was in hospice. (In 2008 – 2009.) His care plan said he would have no invasive treatment such as radiation, but he would have all he needed for his comfort. He contracted a urinary tract infection which could be cured easily with an antibiotic. His nurse didn’t give it to him. She said with an authority that she had no right to assume, “We decided not to.” We got my father the fucking antibiotic. But he had to live a few of his last days in discomfort because that bitch couldn’t wait for him die.

My father had done nothing wrong by anybody’s standards. He would even pass muster with my stern audience member who thinks human beings should be sentenced to death for gross imperfections like smoking or an improper diet. (People like the audience member believe in two things — markets and punishment. Fuck education, friendship, forgiveness, love or fucking health care! Build another prison and make another judgmental remark, asshole!) Yet, the nurse wanted to shame him for dying slowly. She had to save some money that could be handed to some rich people who didn’t need it. Nothing in her life was more important than pleasing rich people. The shame is on her.

I have struggled to understand what makes people so heartless and cruel. (They so want to be understood. They want praise for being so good and decent — true Americans. They are among the worst people in the world.) The standard liberal explanation is that they have suffered and they carry on the abuse. But I no longer buy that. Their personal lousiness is a choice. Everyone that has had “a tough time putting food on the table” don’t become as ugly and cruel as these people.

My father for example had a very tough life. He was physically abused in fascist schools in Italy. He encountered great discrimination in America as a poor Italian immigrant. He did hard labor in an auto body shop for decades, breathing in the toxic materials that ultimately killed him. But he never gave in to the harsh violence and lack of generosity that the audience member and the nurse embrace. He was confused at times, but never took sadistic joy at the suffering of others. He wasn’t ever a rich man by any means, but he never placed even a needed dollar above another person.

How these assholes lie to themselves and believe that their fear and jealousy are virtues! They resent the world because of their own material and spiritual failures. They hate the immigrants who come to their towns with nothing and subsequently thrive with hard work and initiative, while they themselves mock the educated on their way to the meth dealer’s house.

Trump and Mitch McConnell aren’t the problems. The audience member and the nurse are the problems. Trump and McConnell just manipulate what already exists in these walking suicides. We have this awful, immoral government because we share this nation with these awful, immoral people.

Another audience member told me later that she was struggling with maintaining a long-held friendship with someone who voted for Trump. Well, yes, because they revealed what kind of person that they were. She later apologized for speaking out angrily about Trump. I said that I wasn’t sorry. I’m sorry for all the times that I was silent before this evil, or, maybe even worse, for when I spoke out without confidence in an argumentative tone. I know what is true in this case. It ain’t them! And it’s not up for discussion. Listen if you want, but I don’t want to hear your opposing point of view on this. If you don’t like it shove it up your ass.

I have no tolerance for what these people are. I was originally going to say here “for what these people believe,” but this post has nothing to do with ideas or opinions. I can’t stand what these people are. There is no excuse for it. They have chosen death. I want nothing to do with them until they change.

And I do believe in redemption.

But not compromise. Not with these people. Not now.

Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas

THE RICK BLOG IS ART NOT POLITICS

6/26/17

The Rick Blog (in all of its forms — writing, podcast, stage shows) is not a political blog. It is an art blog. The arts talk about life in a way that political discussion could never reach. The arts are more powerful than politics, even if they don’t seem to be in a material way.

The world is a reflection of our perception of it. I wrote The Rick Blog for two years before Trump announced his candidacy. Since then my writing output and the attention of others have both increased considerably. Trump’s horrible rise has focused all of us on what it is to be human. That’s art. The Paris Review, the New York literary magazine, received more subscription requests than at any time in their history on the day Jeff Sessions testified before Congress recently. Artists and art audiences want some sort of honesty and depth of feeling in the face of forces that they recognize intuitively and emotionally as wrong. We aren’t really interested in Trump. We are interested in ourselves. Ironically, villains who betray our collective humanity and pursue negation and death inspire us to be more alive — and to know how to do it. Making and perceiving art is where we learn how to be human beings. The artist isn’t the teacher. The art is. All an artist does is take his experience and communicate its lessons to others. The skill of the artist is the skill of communication. His ability to experience life is no better than anyone else’s ability to do so. An artist has an openness to the inspiration of what a living moment reveals, because he has a strong desire to show what he discovered to others.

An audience member started talking to me in a political way after my show last Saturday night (6/24/17). He gave political reasons for the use of violence against oppression. He explained to me why Trump voters reasonably chose Trump. He gave many reasons for his positions that you would hear on cable TV.

I listened — I had heard everything that he had said before. But let me communicate my experience. The choice to use violence against another human being transforms who a person is. It distorts their soul. It isn’t an accident that the shooter at the Congressional baseball practice was a domestic abuser. Or that veterans of all wars who saw combat action return home with all sorts of psychological disorders. Or how many terrorists have non-terrorist criminal records. Or how all the “just wars” never ultimately solve anything. Did World War I prevent World War II? Has fascism and genocide been removed from the world? Did the Civil War unite us as a nation? Has the Korean War ended? Etc.

The audience member mentioned self-defense, but misunderstood its meaning. Self-defense is asserted in crimes like assault or homicide when a defendant asserts the need to use force because of immediate physical aggression from an attacker. It doesn’t apply to non-physical aggression like the genocidal Senate “health care” bill.

I gave an alternative to violence — a more powerful way that will not distort our humanity in the show. Art always pushes for answers. It doesn’t just express overwhelming frustrations like the unfinished film that has many admirable elements Beatriz at Dinner. (See my recent blog post on that.)

As to the motivations of Trump voters, they did not support him for any “reasons.” Trump didn’t persuade them with arguments. Trump didn’t put any ideas into their heads. He exploited what was already there. There are many people — rich, poor and in the middle — in America, that have despaired of their humanity. Trump appealed to what was worst in these people because it was very close to the surface. No rational person would choose Trump as an answer to legitimate answer to their problems. But a nihilist would. Trump supporters want “to see the whole thing burn.” I’ve written some on this, but there is a lot more work to do.

The audience member who spoke with me said he was a progressive and I believe him. But he came from the culture that Trump conned in order to get power and he hasn’t separated himself from that culture’s ignorance. He too wants to burn everything down. He rejects the Declaration of Independence because of the genocide of Native Americans. He doesn’t accept the Constitution because of the long history of injustice in America. He seems incapable of distinguishing an ideal from reality, and working in reality to approach the ideal. For him, everything is bullshit.

Burn down the world. Then what? My audience member has no idea.

America isn’t a history. It’s an idea. It has no borders. It belongs to the world. America is freedom, democracy, justice, care for the well-being of all people — their health, safety and education, and the opportunity of self-determination, to pursue happiness as we each see fit. America is the collective hope of mankind.

My audience member asked me why I didn’t run for office. I don’t run because I work in a venue of far greater power than an administrative office or legislature. I work in the heart, mind and soul. I work not for one issue but for all times. I work where my nature tells me to work. When the internal reality of a person or society changes, the external reality follows. What we do is an extension of who we are. Art is the first and most important thing.

Art, for me, has nothing to do with aesthetics. Art is where we converse about life, and stand in awe. We arrive at an answer, and look at a mysterious horizon with wonder.

Watch the video of my 6/24/17 show at the McKaw which engendered this discussion and consideration.

Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas

6/24/17 Video of Rick Blog Live On Stage at the McKaw Theater

 

On June 24, 2017, at The Rick Blog Live on Stage show at the McKaw Theater, Richard Thomas made a great revelation. He suddenly knew what would be the anthem of the revolution. The song — Feliz Navidad. And … after a week of considerable existential darkness when the brazen Republican Senate considered a genocidal “health care” bill, Rick didn’t have all the answers, but knew that truth and joy were two of them. Sometimes cursing the darkness is lighting a candle when many people can’t see how dark it is.

Enjoy — more than this video, but that too!

Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas

WHY I AM AGAINST THE USE OF VIOLENCE IN OUR STRUGGLE

Thoreau1967stamp

I do not advocate violence, and I would never use violence personally in our struggle. I frankly don’t want to be accused of being violent as a matter of self-protection. It is also a matter of personal belief. I can’t say strong things and associate myself with violence. To associate myself with violence would be stupid and self-defeating.

I think large-scale violence may be coming to America — masses of people are going to despair of our political and economic systems and lash out when they are denied the necessities of life and stripped of all dignity and respect. Injustice is reaching a critical mass that will inspire rage acted out on a grand scale.

I think a great bloody chaos is approaching because America is not evolved enough as a culture and is violent by nature.

Can we learn in time?

Eastern Europe at the fall of Communism, ML King Jr., Gandhi — great movements of the 20th Century revolutionized revolution itself by applying Henry David Thoreau’s ideas. This is the way that I advocate.

If it gets violent — we lose. They are much better at it than we are, and they have much more brute force at their disposal. And even if we did prevail, we would lose. Violence is just about power — it is fueled by a frustration that wants to dominate — and then you get the same old shit with new bullies — who in this case would be us..

So i see violence as a real possibility, but I will never endorse it. Violence is Immoral. Violence is stupid, a poor excuse for a strategy. .

I am working towards a vision of a strong non-violent response. I have a lot more reflection to do but we have enough leverage to win that way. We are up against something that can be partially met with the lessons of history, but also requires great creativity in the face of cultural and technological forces never before seen by Man.

Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas

The Republican Agenda is an Act of War Against Us; The Democrats Won’t Defend Us; We Must Do It Ourselves; THE SECOND (non-violent) CIVIL WAR

 

grant lincolnThe Dems will never fight, because they don’t believe in what needs to be done. Most Democrats are corporatists, and Progressive Democrats are too compromised by their alliances with the Corporate Democrats.

We need a new way that is even beyond a third political party.

The Republican agenda including, of course, the hateful health care bill is an act of war against us. They quite literally want to kill us slowly, and ruin our lives while we are still breathing . A large goal for The Rick Blog is to try to see what we can do in our changing circumstances. The people who despise us are now fully visible — all subtlety has dissolved. They brazenly come after us with hateful acts of aggression.

I always now put in a caveat of non-violence into my writing as matter of belief and self-protection, and within that restriction, I say that we must defend ourselves. NO ONE ELSE IS GOING TO DO IT. The situation has gone beyond politics or even morality — it is a matter of survival.

As an example of what I am saying, Nicole Wallace of MSNBC, a Bush Republican quite comfortable in the company of Corporate Democrats criticized the “extreme” Republican health care bill, but cautioned that “everyone shouldn’t have a Cadillac health plan.” What is that supposed to mean? Everyone should have decent health care as a human right. Congressional Corporate Dems keep saying that the Republican plan takes health care away from “hard-working” people. What about lazy people? Should they die in the streets?

The Democrats and of course the Republicans reflect the immorality of Main Street, USA and an indecency that has infected the souls of the white middle class in America. The views of the parties and their voters are just wrong — unacceptable. It has to be stopped. If the year were 1860 before the advent of the Civil War, I would be an abolitionist. We were better off in 1860. We had Lincoln, and Grant was on his way.

We are required now to do something different. We can support the Democratic Party with an initiative here and there, but we must do it ourselves. And we must do it in a new way — a way that has never been done before. This is a time of unheard of cultural and technological complexity. We face many dark forces and we must figure out a way to defeat them.

OR DIE.

Our enemies, and let’s not kid ourselves, that is who they are, there is no unity or common ground left, have vulnerabilities. They can be defeated. But it is going to take all of our intelligence, and especially creativity. We can’t rely on the Democratic Party. We can support the system to the extent that it is a force for good — for example the Mueller investigations — but we must go beyond the system too.

Yes, we are on the brink of something like the Civil War. We must fight it without bloodshed for two reasons: violence is wrong and if we use violence we lose. It is not our strength. Much more to come on this — but if we want the world and personal lives to conform to our values and desires — we are going to have to go war to preserve control of our collective and individual destinies. They hate us. We cannot allow them to murder us and/or ruin our futures.

Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas

The Corrupt Mediocrity of David Brooks

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6/20/17: David Brooks, the conservative columnist of the New York Times, has a BA in history from the University of Chicago. This makes him think that he is an expert on legal evidence, apparently. He writes from an ideological notion that scandals defeat democracy because a prosecutor can always find something on the best of people, and this defeats the people’s will.

Brooks is appallingly ignorant of the law. There is a crime known as malicious prosecution. A prosecutor can’t just go and persecute innocent people. A prosecution can only happen when there is serious cause to believe a party committed a crime.

Brooks keep saying that he has seen no evidence in this matter. That must be because he has his head up his ass. Comey said under oath that Trump asked him to drop the Flynn investigation. Trump admitted that he did so to Lester Holt on national TV. This is evidence but not a full case. A President can ask the FBI to drop an investigation and can fire an FBI Director. But he can’t do those things with corrupt intent.

That’s where Flynn comes in. Flynn is in serious legal trouble. He asked for immunity. It wasn’t granted. It is now reported that he is a cooperating witness for the FBI. Trump was trying to protect Flynn. Why? Not that loyalty bullshit. Trump knows Flynn will flip on Trump in order to save his own ass — or at least mitigate his punishment. Is that evidence? Yes. Is it a case? Not yet, but it will be when Flynn talks and documents are subpoenaed and corroborating witnesses speak too.

Kushner lied about talking to Russians. So did Sessions. Trump couldn’t get credit in US, but got it somewhere. Trump won’t reveal tax records that would show where he got it.

These are just a few highlights — there is a ton of evidence just in the press. Mueller has a ton more.

Brooks, with his awshucks, dopey mama’s boy demeanor is a fucking liar. He talks about democracy when he attacks the rule of law. He uses his status to offer ignorant theories when he should have talked to lawyers so he knew of which he spoke. I won’t trust another word that comes out of this mother fucker’s mouth.

This a Russian thing is a huge criminal conspiracy. Obstruction of justice is the least of it — treason — and then Trump and the other assholes lifetimes of financial misdeeds exposed.

No evidence! You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. There is an avalanche of evidence.

Brooks’ lies — and they are that — he lies when he writes a word with false authority about the law — and he lies with that Pollyanna bullshit about a gangster like Trump being a good person persecuted by the law. That sentimental nonsense works in the self-interest of right wingers so they extol their “hard working ” fraud hero businessmen while they rape the world.

Brooks, your heroes are scum and they need to be policed.

This post isn’t as well written as I’d like. I am waiting for a meeting and getting carpal tunnel typing into my phone.

I try on the Rick Blog. I’m honest. I look stuff up. I admit when I don’t know something. I don’t have a power agenda. I prepared a lifetime to say these words. I’m not some weasel who wormed my way onto the Op-Ed page of the New York Times.

This morning the Rick Blog is s more reliable source than the New York Times, because I am not David Brooks, a mediocrity too stupid to know what he doesn’t know, and a liar too corrupt to care.

I was going to take a morning off from writing.

Aaaarghhhh!

Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas

6/23/17: Democrats and Republicans Reveal Their Character

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Dems show their character by whining about Nancy Pelosi and capitulating to Republican lies about her. To a person they say that they think she’s great, but Republican slime machine has made her a liability to regain the Congressional majority. Here’s an idea Dem wusses — how about not conceding Republican bullshit? The Republicans bully and you lie down and expose your neck to the wolf pack. Fight! And not only with reason. With emotion, fire! Stories as well as statistics. Be outraged and insulted. Don’t always be so fucking balanced. Dems have to talk to people about their problems and talk in their language. They can’t always sound like they just left the faculty lounge. Dems have to know how to be smart and be real. And people aren’t inspired when would-be leaders roll over. You admire Nancy Pelosi? Stand up for her! Be proud of what you did with her! Mock Paul Ryan as nothing compared to her. Grow a pair!

The Republicans showed once again who they are with the Senate Health Care bill. They are thieves and murderers. They want to kill the weakest people — the old, the sick, children, the poor — in order to steal money — all the money — from the rest of us, but that is not the darkest motivation. When you allow bullies to push people around for decades — they become bigger and bigger. And finally they reach their full lousy potential — and become mass murderers.

Some people thought I went too far when I called Republicans Nazis. Hyperbolic, they said. An over-reaction. Calm down. What do you think now? 20 plus million people thrown off of Medicaid. What do you think of that? Hitler made a Holocaust with industrialization — factories of death. This proposed Holocaust is made of financial instruments — insurance denied is care denied.

The men behind this bill are contemporary American Nazis. And the dithering, weak Democrats are complicit in the power that the Republican filth wields.

Democrats, tell the truth and be emotionally true and fight every day. Don’t worry about winning. Do your thing and you’ll win.

God bless those people in wheelchairs protesting in the halls of the Capitol today.

Act like them, goddamit! Stop with this illusion that you are dealing with reasonable and decent people that you can negotiate with — go kick their ass!

Don’t even care about winning in Congress. Use your prominence in Congress to make the Republicans morally unacceptable to all Americans.

Deplore violence, and do every other true and ethical thing that you can to stop these mother fuckers.

They are an enemy to our way of life and lives themselves, not just political opponents. The leaders must be removed from office and punished for any crimes they’ve committed and their followers have to be educated and embraced.

We need the skills of revolutionaries right now, not the arts of compromise.

Nancy Pelosi is disliked by Republicans because she always tells them to shove their ideas up their asses. We need more like her.

Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas

Beatriz at Dinner Is Not Quite Ready Yet

Spoiler Alert: Beatriz at Dinner has the right diagnosis and then is overwhelmed by reality. We need attempts for answers, not under-developed expressions of confusion and hopelessness. The movie is disturbing and has insight into what is wrong. That part is good, great even. The film is defeated by the need to have some climax that a screenplay is “required” to have.

Beatriz’s actions at the end of the movie are not those of a person who feels equal to her oppressors. She is almost equal, and that is dramatically interesting. People really are like that. I was like that. She speaks out, but is frustrated that her words have no effect.

The filmmakers themselves are also like Beatriz presently. They can be better. It is easier said than done, but the first step is attaining said sense of equality. No one has the money or power to determine your worth, values or to legitimately dictate the nature of your life or world. Next you have to accept that attempts of oppression by others are life events that almost no one escapes. Then you have to learn that those times require your strength and integrity. You have to stand up for your life and world. You have to be patient. You have to accept the limitations of your life. Do what you can with the means that you have. Don’t get caught up with illusions of doing “huge” things. Be authentic in the circumstances beyond your control. Use your painful emotions to create and fight.

Don’t retreat to violence or withdraw into an incomplete spirituality untethered to the earth. Let your anger stiffen your resolve, define your limits and fuel your integrity. Let your pity and concern direct your actions. Let your fear and hurt feelings keep you connected to your humanity.

Laugh.

Be patient. Realize that sustained work is all that matters in any endeavor of meaning.

We are engaged in the challenge of our lives. We have to be better than Beatriz, who is a very fine person.

We can do it.

Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas

Donald the Butcher: Trump’s Strategy

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Trump doesn’t have lawyers, he has propagandists. He knows he can’t win within the law, and his end game is to win in the streets.

Trump’s soap opera is a cover for a violent attack upon our lives by the Republican Congress.

Dick the Butcher said, “Kill the lawyers,” in Shakespeare’s Henry VI Part II. Dick the Butcher was a follower of Jack Cade, a rebel who thought that if he disturbed law and order he could become king. The line is often taken out of context and used as a criticism of lawyers. Shakespeare was actually pointing out how dictators attempt to destroy lawyers and the law itself as a strategy to gain power.

Trump’s strategy is to kill the lawyers by slandering them with the aid of his propagandists with law degrees and the ersatz journalism of the right wing “press” like Breitbart and the New York Post, Fox News etc.

Eliminate faith in the law, eliminate the influence of the legitimate press, do large rallies and manipulate the most weak-minded among us with mass hypnosis … this is Trump’s strategy — not attempts to have winning legal arguments.

Trump believes that democracy is a fraud. He, despite his wealth, has always felt that he was an outsider — the gauche boor with money from Queens who was laughed at by the Manhattan social and financial establishment. He hates the people who laughed at him, and obsesses about their hypocrisies and crimes — some real, some imagined.

Trump is the fraud, of course. Democracy is imperfect, but it’s genius is that it doesn’t rely on one personality. Democracy stumbles and fusses and struggles. It frustrates. But somehow it reaches the collective will — and protects the rights of individuals without granting any one person or institution too much power. Trump understands none of this. He thinks that “democracy” is a system that is manipulated and that strong men exist within it, but no one calls them that. Trump thinks that dictatorship is the way of the world and talk of democracy is a scam. He actually feels that he is being honest about it. (We do have to improve our democracy after we get rid of Trump.) Trump wants to burn everything down and then take over. Ironically, he has no idea of what to do once he wins. So he rents the decision making out to Robert Mercer, Vladimir Putin, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan.

We must defend the law, defend the true press, prosecute Trump, defeat the Republicans in Congress, end the sway of the right-wing propaganda machines — Breitbart, Murdoch etc. and eventually meet the army of right-wing zombies that Trump mesmerizes at his rallies and the agit-prop fascists indoctrinate online, on the radio, in newspapers and on TV.

Don’t get distracted? No. Walk and chew gum at the same time. This is a war on several fronts. (Non-violent war — my constant caveat since that crazy son of a bitch shot Scalise. Ah, another thing we have to deal with — their accusations of being violent or crazy simply because we oppose them and won’t bow to them with respect that we don’t have. That’s another thing that we have to do — protect ourselves in the clinches.)

We can do it.

Copyright Richard Thomas 2017

Dissent, By Its Very Nature, Is Non-Violent

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Ben Shapiro, a conservative commentator, talk show host and lawyer on Morning Joe: “Words are not violence unless they expressly advocate violence.” (I am not familiar with Shapiro’s work and this piece is not an endorsement of anything else that he has said or written. I am simply in emphatic agreement with his brief words that I heard as I laid out the breakfast dishes.) These are some of the most worthwhile words that I have ever heard on cable television. Dissent and honest expression must not be suppressed because they are sometimes distorted in insane or criminal minds that conflate social and political conditions with their personal sadness and frustration. The dissent the mad criminal hears is not the cause of the violence. The dissent in itself is non-violent, and not the real inspiration of the harm . The words are a commitment to solve problems and resolve differences without physical force.

Dissent — even dissent expressed in the harshest terms — is a peaceful act.

Violence in the name of any political or social point of view is wrong. Period.

Dissent that is intolerant of opposing points of view, and does not advocate violence, is NOT violent.

An abolitionist could not possibly find common ground with a slave owner at the time of the Civil War. Slavery had to be defeated.

I can find no common ground with the inhumanity of the values and policies of what is currently called conservatism, but is really no such thing. The denial of clean water, good food, housing, education, health care — the necessities of life — from billions of people — to serve the greed and calm the insecurity of a few wealthy people and their conscienceless minions in the professional classes is indecent. It must end as surely as slavery was ended. And the obvious immorality of that denial must be seen by all people as wrong now and forever.

Speaking out with conscience is NOT violent.

We are fighting a new civil war. It need not be bloody like the first one. All wars occur in the collective mind. Ignorance expresses the war in acts of murder.

We must decide to live in justice. We must live in justice, without violence. We cannot reach our choice of justice without dissent.

Our task is not to perform, pretend, persuade, or certainly not to do physical harm to others. Our task is to speak our truth, and to stand immovably upon our words with integrity.

Copyright 2017 Richard Thomas