Confederate Statues and the Open Sores of War

When the Soviet Union began disintegrating in 1989 my father, a professor of American and Political History, said to watch what happens in Yugoslavia. He had been stationed there at the end of World War II and, always the historian, had consumed as much of the region’s history and culture as he could in the time he was there. He quickly learned that it was not one country but many, not one culture but dozens. And they absolutely despised each other.

“The only thing holding Yugoslavia together,” he told me, “is the iron fist of the Soviet Union. Without it, the region will explode. Just watch.” He said that the centuries of ethnic tensions there had never died and instead only intensified. Though few people alive in 1989 could really say how any of the conflicts had started, they had all been raised to maintain old hatreds, to be suspicious of “the others” and to remain a coiled spring of anger ready to snap when the time was right.

Continue reading “Confederate Statues and the Open Sores of War”

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The Climate Debate: A Thought Experiment

Imagine your neighborhood has a swimming pool to which every neighbor has access. People exercise in it. Children play in it. And as a community, the neighborhood maintains the pool by cleaning it and collectively paying for the chemicals it needs.

Now, imagine that the wealthiest neighbor lets his kids defecate in the pool. Continue reading “The Climate Debate: A Thought Experiment”

The Only Real Way to Repeal


So, “Repeal and Replace” is yet another Trump failure. Why? The same reason why Obamacare is a failure. And the same reason why the system before that was a failure, too. Because, at the end of the day, our legislature wasn’t concerned with The People. They were arguing about money. 

The sad fact here is that healthcare should be a given for all people, just like paved roads, a military, public schools, and Duluth Trading Company catalogs in your daily mail. That America is no closer to making this happen is pretty fucking terrifying by itself. That 35% of Americans — and every Republican and most Democrats in office — are working so very hard against it should tell you everything you need to know.

The fact is, health insurance companies as we think of them no longer exist. They have all become financial institutions driven and measured — as all large American corporations are — by one thing only. Stock value. 

Sick people. Well people. Dying people. Drugs. MRI machines. Hospitals. These are all portals from which a slurry of money flows. Obamacare was a first tepid attempt to break the system. Insurance rates were soaring in the years before it. But, the industry helped write the ACA and that’s why it’s failing.

After some 40 attempts to repeal it — and one wheezy, caustic, ignorant, heartless attempt to replace it — one thing should be abundantly clear to everyone. If the Republicans or the Democrats or the Libertarians or the Green Party really wanted to ensure their dominance in American politics for the next three generations, they would pass single-payer, universal coverage tomorrow.

There are dozens of working models for it already. We’re the strongest, wealthiest, most fabulously awesome country on earth. Seems like a no-brainer. Maybe we need an MRI.