Sunday, July 31, 2016
|Then-Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R)|
Giving POTUS Some Love
Did you hear that Patrick Rushing, the Mayor of Airway Heights, Washington, reportedly called President Obama “Monkey Man” and First Lady Michelle Obama “Gorilla Face” the other day? The city council is appalled. The police chief is appalled. Many of his constituents are appalled. He refuses to step down, though, in spite of threatened sanctions from fellow city officials.
I don’t get it.
I’m not the most evolved or enlightened man on the planet. I’ve made mistakes, some little and some not-so-little, and I haven’t always kept my mouth shut when I should have. I've been known to slip and spread more hate than love. Sometimes we all say and do things that we later regret. (Just ask my two ex-wives.) But many – though not all – of my transgressions can be attributed in part to alcohol consumption. I doubt Mayor Rushing was drunk when he typed over 70 racist and derogatory posts on his Facebook page. And the men and women who leave hateful, caustic, ignorant, offensive comments online under YouTube videos and newspaper articles can’t all be drunk. Some of the opinions they express must really be what they believe. And that’s as depressing as finding out that your wife is leaving you or your winning lottery ticket is a practical joke.
I watched the Democratic National Convention on television last week. (I also watched portions of the Republican National Convention but I’ve successfully repressed the hatred, ugliness and vitriol that sullied Cleveland.) There were two moments in particular that I thought were nothing short of fantastic. One was when the Reverend William Barber II of North Carolina brought the delegates to their feet with a fiery, rousing speech that will hopefully be long remembered. Reverend Barber is my kind of Christian.
|Captain Humayun Khan|
The members of the Kahn family are Muslims. Patriotic, America-loving Muslims. Mr. Kahn carries a copy of the United States Constitution in his left breast pocket (and kindly offered to loan it to Donald Trump, who clearly hasn’t read it and probably doesn’t carry a copy around in his Made-in-China suit.) The Kahns are the kind of people the GOP wants to block or deport – yet they’re perfectly fine with Ted Nugent, David Duke, Ann Coulter, Wayne LaPierre and Martin Shkreli staying where they are.
I really don’t understand that at all.
I share this clip because Hillary Clinton’s right about the Kahns. They do represent the best of this country. Not only should we not ban or expel people like this; we should recruit them to settle within our borders.
Yes, there is beauty and kindness in the world, as the Kahns prove. Yes, hundreds of people, young and old, black and white and red and yellow, have been known to line up outside of collection centers to donate blood for victims of accidents and tragedy. Yes, celebrities visit sick kids in the hospital without cameras in tow and teenagers still help old ladies across the street. But sadly, these efforts and events can leave less of an impression on us than the incidents of nastiness and evil, the moments of despair and tragedy, the times of loss and sorrow, wars and shootings and crassness and intolerance and the poor treatment of people based on how much melanin is in their skin.
But Washington D.C. became an even larger, deeper cesspool, a place of pessimism and negativity even before the inaugural flags and banners were returned to their storage cages in the White House basement. Cordiality and compromise were replaced by distrust and animosity; coarseness and invective soon became the norm. (To add insult to injury to many progressives, this President did at times seem spineless and wishy-washy, too eager to take the high road and give concessions to the enemy even before they were demanded – but that’s for another post.) Many of us wondered why things had changed so drastically and rapidly. We were afraid to conclude that it was related at all to the new president’s skin color. Hadn’t we gotten past blatant racism in the last few decades? Hadn’t ignorance been replaced, at last, with tolerance and understanding?
Here we had a man who was intelligent and eloquent, even-tempered and ambitious, someone to whom we could point with pride, someone who could string sentences together and wasn’t beset with scandal and corruption. Here was a guy whose privileged offspring didn’t stick their tongues out at the press once they were safely ensconced in the presidential limousine. President Obama didn’t make horrendously bad decisions or display embarrassing behavior. Why was he jeered by editorial writers and radio personalities and insulted by so many Americans? Why did he become Public Enemy #1 at Fox “News” when he was making things better, trying to bring us together? Why was he derided and mischaracterized for trying to do the right thing as opposed to taking orders from Cheney and Rove? Why did politics become so distasteful and unfair?
I don’t know why.
I don’t know why people despise one of the most amiable and unassuming families ever to occupy the White House. I don’t know why the President’s many achievements are downplayed and his few failures amplified. I don’t know why Michelle – who I love and want to dine with before I die – and Sasha and Malia aren’t praised now and forever for meeting the challenges of their lifestyle with class and grace. I don’t know why a man who tears up when talking about the almost inconceivable slaughter of 20 little kids in Newtown, Connecticut on December 14, 2012 is mocked and ridiculed. And I don't know why people write and say angry, hostile, nasty, ugly, groundless things in public forums.
Many historians expect the guy to go down in history as one of the most successful presidents ever. Why? Maybe because during his presidency, homicides have dropped 13 percent. Fifteen million fewer people lack health insurance. The number of long-term unemployed Americans has dropped by 614,000; the economy has added more than nine million jobs and the jobless rate has dropped to below the historical median. Corporate profits are up 166 percent; real weekly wages are up 3.4 percent. Wind and solar power now account for more than five percent of U.S. electricity.
There were 229,078 fewer violent crimes in the U.S. in 2014 than in 2008, a drop of 16 percent, according to the FBI. The Dow Jones, GDP and Consumer Confidence are up. Gas prices, the number of oil barrels imported, the teen pregnancy rate and the number of prisoners at Guantanamo are down. Marriage equality is the law of the land and this administration convinced Iran to give up 22,000 pounds of uranium without firing a single shot. The Obamas are even great with kids.
What the f*ck is Trump talking about when he says, “Make America Great Again” anyway?
The many photos that accompany this post notwithstanding, it’s not a fawning fan letter to POTUS. I’m not pleased with his use of drones, his reaction to the crisis in Syria and his refusal or inability to reduce the obscene amount of funding that gets swallowed up by the military-industrial complex each year. I’m disgusted that he’s chosen to continue our long tradition of kissing Israel’s ass and decided to remain silent when that nation unjustifiably went to war with Palestine in 2014. (More than 2,250 Palestinians were killed, including 551 children, and 11,000 were injured; 18,000 homes were destroyed.) I think it was wrong of the Nobel Committee to honor him in 2009 when he hadn’t earned it – and in fact failed to end the Iraq War for years in direct violation of a campaign promise. And I didn’t like the timing of his endorsement of Hillary Clinton as his successor; Bernie Sanders was still in the thick of things and I thought the President’s announcement was premature.
But I don’t think he’s earned a quarter of the resentment and loathing that he’s engendered. (Republicans were probably tickled pink that he was re-elected in 2012 so they would have four more years in which to do nothing and then blame it on him.) I sure hope the awful online detritus I stumble upon regularly is the desperate ranting and raving of a dying minority, the exorcising of demons, the tough talk of keyboard warriors who live in their parents’ basements and have nothing better to do than rail at those who they’ll never meet, know or be. Because if a significant number of Americans actually believe even a little of what I’ve read and heard, then the world we leave our children will be more deeply flawed and dysfunctional than Sarah Palin’s family or Jim Jones’ church camp. (Not hatred, y’all. Just a joke.)
We’re all neighbors on this Blue Marble. All of us bleed red blood and cry when we’re sad. Together, as they repeated again and again at the Democratic convention, we’re stronger, happier and better than when we’re alone. Why don’t we all send the kind of good energy into the universe that Khizr and Ghazala Khan sent out last Thursday night?
Rest in peace, Captain Khan. Thank you for your service and sacrifice.
P.S. As my Facebook pals know, I’ve unfriended and been unfriended a lot during this campaign season. This includes people I know in real life, people with whom I’ve worked, played and communicated for years. I’m counting on the hatred and ugliness that have taken over the Land of Lord Zuckerberg to subside and our friends lists to stabilize once voters have banished Donald Trump to his Manhattan penthouse.
P.P.S. Right after I finished writing this and signed into Facebook, I ran across this clip of a choir singing Bruno Mars' “Just the Way You Are” to a woman with MS whose husband organized it as an anniversary gift. Thanks, Deb. I needed this.
Note: I was just informed that Mayor Rushing resigned a year ago after a vote of no confidence by the city council. Apparently, the story has been resurrected. The hateful online comments and Donald Trump's arrogant cluelessness are current.
Sources: Politico.com, ThinkProgress.org, Occupy Democrats, Huffington Post, Heavy.com, UNOCHA, FactCheck.org, Buzzfeed.com, Seeking Alpha, DemocraticUnderground.com, Centre for Research on Globalization.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
If politicians can do it, so can I.
I’m talking about changing my mind. I was, up until very recently, determined not to succumb to fear and pull the lever for Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, November 8th. I wasn’t sure if I was going to vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, write Bernie Sanders’ name on my ballot somewhere or sit on my hands and watch old episodes of “Welcome Back, Kotter” but I was sure I wouldn’t capitulate and choose someone who represented the status quo, the opposite of hope and change, another ‘less evil but still evil’ choice.
I was wrong.
Yes, Bernie’s messages resonated with me. I like the idea of free public college. I think we should raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, end the war on drugs and raise taxes on the 1%. We do need to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and support gay marriage. We should oppose the Trans Pacific Partnership – which Hillary once described as the “gold standard” of trade agreements – and the Patriot Act. I want to demilitarize and retrain the police, overturn Citizens United, stop endless military spending and quit kissing Israel’s ass like a cheap hooker.
Additionally, I like how Bernie usually flies coach. I like how his net worth makes him one of the poorest U.S. Senators in office. I like his Columbo-like persona and his obviously real, heartfelt dedication to making life better for everybody regardless of skin color, religion, sexual orientation or financial wherewithal.
The best I can do, I realized, is to step back a bit and listen to my friends who remind me that a revolution is like a whole movie, not a single frame. I need to think of this as an effort that’ll span years, not months.
These friends have been fighting me for a while, some more gently than others, and insisting that a vote for anyone but Hillary is...well, let’s just say “silly.” I unfriended and was unfriended more than snakes eat mice. (I'll probably lose more pals after this post.) Too bad I wasn’t receptive to input that I didn’t want to hear because after I watched the first night of the Democratic National Convention, I finally saw that Sanders has no chance.
I was more than a little troubled by the revelation that staff at the DNC – including top dog Debbie Wasserman Schultz – actively tried to torpedo Bernie’s campaign and stack the deck against him. (I haven’t read the actual e-mail proof but this is what’s been disclosed.) What many of us felt and suspected – that the process was rigged and Bernie was not getting a fair shake – was proven true. And some media outlets were apparently found to have colluded with the Clinton campaign to report favorable things about her while disparaging Bernie’s candidacy. This really, really ticked me off.
My good friend David told me this in Facebook:
The Republicans are dying. The Democrats are getting old and moving to the right. The empty space on the left will be filled by someone who wants to speak for the young people who were energized by Bernie. If we haven't totally screwed the geo-political pooch, a new party will form on the left and do the things we dreamed we'd do this time. Let's hope that it has better legs than so many movements before it. Let's hope that the rampant corruption and dirty dealing of the DNC haven't soured all those folks on standing up for what they believe. And in the end, remember that 13 million people had the same dream.
My second good friend John provided this input:
Not only do Clinton’s and Sanders’ voting records in the Senate match 92% of the time but he has pulled her official positions far enough to the left that we have the most progressive major party platform ever. He got her to say she supports a public option in the Affordable Care Act, tuition-free public college for 83% of college applicants, and now she opposes the TPP. He’s won the heart of the Democratic Party. We’ve won!
And my third good friend Mark added this:
The very first Sanders/Clinton debate was telling. Sanders was a master of the issues that he spent decades drilling into. However, his breadth and scope were limited when considering ALL of the many skills required for the top job. I loved the guy but Clinton ran circles around him. She was the complete package. Sanders was an incredible specialist who’s better suited for any number of top jobs, just not THE top job. We now mythologize him precisely because he hammered away at his theme relentlessly. But he was rarely dragged out of his comfort zone. A better analogy is Obama. Does anyone really think that Sanders has the multifaceted toolkit of Obama?
These comments should convince Anita – who enters the Land of Lord Zuckerberg about as frequently as Hetty Green picked up a tab – that Facebook friends can be helpful and persuasive.
I’m trying not to dwell on the fact that our process of choosing our nominees is so seamy and scandalous, so undemocratic and unconscionable. I have to tell myself that all politicians benefit from our incredibly-flawed system to some extent, that the ugliness can’t be attributed solely to the woman who’s become our Democratic nominee.
Speaking of women, one of the two things that finally cinched this for me was a thought-provoking article by Michael Arnovitz entitled, “Thinking About Hillary – A Plea for Reason” that I ran across yesterday. Not surprisingly, it spurred some internal analysis that resulted first in eye-rolling and then in an uncomfortable realization I hadn’t expected: I am sexist. I was holding Hillary to a different standard than other politicians, including our word-parsing 42nd President, Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer and even the late Ted Kennedy.
How can a guy who grew up in the 1970s when Mary Tyler Moore was making it on her own and feminist Gloria Steinem was frequently on television be sexist? How can someone who was raised by a strong and resourceful single mother treat women differently than men, even subconsciously? I don’t know the answer to this, other than to acknowledge that sexism, like racism, is insidious and far-reaching. I was incognizant; no one is impervious. I wish I knew then what I know now.
The last thing that broke through the wall that I had erected around myself – yeah, Trump, you’re not the only guy who can build a wall – was Michelle Obama’s convention speech on Monday night. I like and respect her so much and it’s clear that her husband’s not the only one in that family who knows how to deliver a frikkin’ speech. She had me at “Oh.”
Now let’s take a second to address this “NeverHillary” and “Bernie or Bust” stuff. I was with this contingent a few days ago but I’ve just come to my senses.
I can't compare Donald Trump's and Hillary Clinton's records because he doesn’t have one. He doesn’t deserve to be seriously considered; he hasn’t earned it and a large bank account doesn’t compensate for a small mind. He is not a former children's advocate, First Lady, United States Senator or U.S. Secretary of State. He’s a joke, a carnival barker, a liar, a fraud and an asshole. (Yes, I'm name-calling. Complain in the comments below and I'll refund your money.)
here to read, "The Warning.")
It's as clear as a glass straight out of the dishwasher that Trump cannot be allowed to win this election. And any idiot who votes for him because they can't vote for Sanders shouldn't be allowed around children or heavy machinery.
Tim Kaine – but I see that respecting her past achievements while deriding her attempt to ascend to the ultimate level of power is contradictory and unfair. I promise to try harder to judge people solely by the content of their character and not the contents of their underwear.
And to my fellow Sanders supporters: I’m not being a fickle comrade – see what I did there? – or betraying you. I’m not abandoning my principles. What I’m trying to do is what makes the most sense which is to do everything I can to keep The Orange Devil out of the White House. I don’t like the non-progressive stances that Hillary’s taken but it doesn’t make sense to petulantly refuse to do what makes the most sense just because I didn’t get all I wanted this time.
Now I’m with her.
|Posted in a Facebook group|
by David Michael Barrett
Want information on Sanders’ and Clinton’s positions on issues? Click here to read, “Why I’m Voting for Bernie Sanders” and click here to read, “Why I’m Not Voting for Hillary Clinton.”
Sources: Public Citizen, ThePolicy, Sanders campaign material, OnTheIssues.org, PBS NewsHour.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
“History repeats itself, especially when you ignore it.”
I watched some of Donald Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention a few nights ago. I could only watch some of it – not even half, to be precise – because my shouting at the television alarmed my 11-year-old daughter and our two five-year-old Maltese pups.
The man lies. He lies and omits and misleads and spins and uses platitudes and pandering to fire up his audiences, to induce pro-American, pro-Christian sentiments and divide people into acceptable and unacceptable groups, Americans vs. Muslims, Christians vs. the Godless, the Good Guys vs. the Bad Guys. He oversimplifies complex issues and pledges to “fix this” and “stop that” and “make America great again” although he offers no specifics and isn’t asked to, either by the stooges and cretins in his audience or the fawning media who report his every belch and fart as if it’s earth-shattering information that school kids will one day study.
Our corporate media outlets are fine with elevating this obnoxious bigot, this ugly, arrogant, unlikable, disingenuous, name-calling twit who shouldn’t be given the time of day, let alone 24-hour coverage and the trumpeting of each and every piece of garbage that spews from his mouth, to the level of serious presidential contender, the nominee of the Grand Old Party who deserves millions of votes and massive support because…well, he tells it like it is, man. He’s the real deal. He’s bombastic and nauseating and about as likable as the guy who intentionally drives through a puddle when you’re riding your bike and sprays you with what seems like gallons of cold, dirty rainwater but he’s rich and white and a businessman so he must know what he’s talking about. And he’s an outsider so he’ll shake things up and make things better. Whatever that means.
Yes, some media are reporting the truth and some pundits and politicians are expressing disdain that Trump has ascended to the extent that he has but a case can be made that this is the exception and not the norm. And there is cause for concern beyond the fact that Trump is a liar and a fraud. He got more votes in a Republican nominating convention than anyone else on record. Over 14 million people voted for him in the Republican primaries. He polled nearly even with Clinton following last Thursday’s speech. And her numbers have been dropping of late.
Think none of this relates to perceptions being shaped and altered by external forces? Think again. I’m no tin foil hat-wearing conspiracy theorist; I’m just a longtime political observer who thinks for myself. (By the way, interesting tidbit: Clinton got more votes when she lost in 2008 than she got this year when she won.)
Referring to 21-year-old Sarah Root, who was killed in a car crash involving an undocumented immigrant early this year, Trump said, “I’ve met Sarah’s beautiful family. But to this Administration, their amazing daughter was just one more American life that wasn’t worth protecting. One more child to sacrifice on the altar of open borders. What about our economy?”
He blamed Secretary of State Clinton for Bush Administration mistakes that set the stage for the current unrest in several hotspots, saying, “Let’s review the record. In 2009, pre-Hillary, ISIS was not even on the map. Libya was cooperating. Egypt was peaceful. Iraq was seeing a reduction in violence. Iran was being choked by sanctions. Syria was under control. After four years of Hillary Clinton, what do we have? ISIS has spread across the region, and the world. Libya is in ruins, and our Ambassador and his staff were left helpless to die at the hands of savage killers. Egypt was turned over to the radical Muslim brotherhood, forcing the military to retake control. Iraq is in chaos.”
Nope. No inflammatory hyperbole there.
He said a bunch of other empty, stupid or nasty stuff:
“This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction and weakness.”
“Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.”
“I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people that cannot defend themselves.”
“Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”
“When I take the oath of office next year, I will restore law and order our country.”
Perhaps my favorite incongruity was when he said this: “Only weeks ago, in Orlando, Florida, 49 wonderful Americans were savagely murdered by an Islamic terrorist. This time, the terrorist targeted our LGBT community. As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.”
Because we know how hard the GOP fights for the rights and safety of LGBT individuals.
I have to stop writing about the speech now because I’m starting to alarm my dogs and daughter again.
Click here for a transcript of the speech. Click here to read, “Factchecking Trump’s big speech.” And click here to read, “Donald Trump speech fact-checked; results prove little to no truth from start to finish.”
As the following meme that’s been circulating in social media conveys, bad things don’t start with their climax. They start with seemingly innocuous actions and unchallenged accusations that are advanced, expanded, exposed and built upon, used to scare the masses and whip us into a frenzy, to get us to turn on each other while we ignore the warning signs along the way.
Here’s a similar one:
Think it’s wrong of me to equate Donald Trump with Adolph Hitler? Hey, I’m just telling it like it is.
Consider yourself warned.
Sources: Hollywood Reporter, Politico.com, Google Images, Washington Post, Telegraph, Reuters, Factcheck.org.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Some people just won’t give up.
This includes people who identify as Progressives, Democratic Socialists, Liberals, Democrats, Independents (and even Republicans) and are dissatisfied with – or downright disturbed by – the selection of Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Democratic Party’s “presumptive nominee” for president.
I added quotation marks to “presumptive nominee” because many folks object to the fact that this title was bestowed upon Clinton before she actually secured the number of delegates – 2,383 – needed to earn it.
Clinton emerged from the primary process with just 2,205 pledged delegates; it’s only when the 602 superdelegates who’ve indicated that they support her are factored in that she exceeds the magic number. And superdelegates – who can say they’ll vote for whomever they want and can change their minds as often as they want – don’t actually vote until next week’s Democratic Party convention in the City of Brotherly Love.
Yes, Clinton’s numbers are higher than Bernie Sanders going into the convention. (He has just 1,806 pledged delegates and 48 superdelegates in his corner.) But lots of Sanders fans complain about how the pledged delegates were allocated; in some states where Sanders won, Clinton still left town with a stuffed piggy bank.
From the New York Times:
Mr. Sanders expressed frustration that Mrs. Clinton had won superdelegates even in states where he won the primary. In Washington State, where he won almost 73 percent of the vote, Mrs. Clinton has 10 superdelegates while he has none. In Colorado, Mr. Sanders won 59 percent of the vote, but again Mrs. Clinton has 10 superdelegates from that state and he has none. Sanders aides handed out a list showing similar situations in states like New Hampshire, Kansas and Maine where he won more votes but has fewer superdelegates than his rival.
Sanders supporters also point to voting irregularities and party machinations that the media have neglected to report or investigate as justification for their refusal to fall in line behind Democratic Party Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz and work for HRC. (Yes, some say Sanders endorsed his rival last week at a joint appearance in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. But others say he really didn’t.)
Click here to read, “Voters Report Suspicious Irregularities in Three Different Primary States” and click here to read, “New York Attorney General Investigating Primary Voting Irregularities.”
More from the New York Times:
Mr. Sanders urged superdelegates in states that he has won and those who came out in support of Mrs. Clinton before he declared his candidacy to switch their support to him. He also said other superdelegates should consider supporting him because in many polls he beats Donald J. Trump by more than points Mrs. Clinton does, and that they would be more likely to do so if he won further primaries.
President Obama’s recent nod and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s unexpected endorsement notwithstanding, Clinton is seen by more than a few voters and political observers as the more flawed and weaker of the two candidates. If polls are any indication – and yes, I still hate polls – she isn’t clobbering her general election opponent, Donald “Ugly, Lying, Stupid, Racist Piece of Dog Excrement” Trump, as painfully as some assume she should. A recent Rasmussen Reports poll found Trump beating Clinton 44 to 37 percent; a CBS News/New York Times poll found Clinton tied with Trump at 40 percent each. I saw something the other day that said he’s ahead in Florida and Pennsylvania. In other polls, her leads are within the margin of error. (Click here for comprehensive Clinton vs. Trump polling information.)
How can an attorney who served as First Lady and U.S. Secretary of State, is running for president for the second time, and has been a top tier politician for decades be running neck-and-neck with the most bombastic, ill-tempered, thin-skinned, unprepared, obnoxious, bigoted, immature jackass who’s ever sought the highest office in the land?
Trans Pacific Partnership or that she used to be against raising the minimum wage and now she’s for it. Maybe it’s because she’s a pro-Israel hawk who trumpets her friendship with diplomat Henry Kissinger, a war criminal right up there with Dick Cheney and Dubya. Or maybe it’s because she’s seen as a pro-corporate, pro-Wall Street member of the one percent who would serve the same players and institutions that Sanders has identified as being part of the problem, those who are fine with economic injustice and a shrinking middle class, with income inequality and helping the rich get richer while the rest of us slip and fall.
Click here to read, “Why I’m Not Voting for Hillary Clinton” from April of 2015.
So just who and what are the superdelegates? They’re the sitting Democratic governors, senators and representatives. They’re “distinguished party leaders” like current and former presidents and vice presidents, retired lawmakers and past chairs of the Democratic National Committee. Most are officers or members of the DNC. Nearly six in ten are men, close to two-thirds are white and their average age is around 60. They’ll account for just fewer than 15 percent of all delegate votes at the convention.
One disgruntled blogger has this to say about them:
The superdelegate system is rigged to protect establishment politicians and shut down populism. Superdelegates by their very nature diminish the value of the vote by giving an elite constituency of representatives, party leaders, and even lobbyists extra power. The Superdelegate List exists to help voters challenge this undemocratic system. Contacting our elected representatives and party leaders and holding them to account is an American tradition. This is the only way to keep the voter base from being patronized or ignored.
Want to contact these people and give ‘em a piece of your mind? Want to tell ‘em you think they should support the person who energizes voters, brings new life to the party and the system, and represents hope and change instead of more of the same? Want to urge them to endorse a revolution rather than to embrace the gasps and shudders of an old and no-longer-viable status quo? Click here for a spreadsheet with contact information.
I’m really not trying to help send The Orange One to the White House. I’m not trying to further damage an already-bruised candidate, ignore the many reasons why she absolutely must emerge victorious this November (if she’s indeed the Democratic nominee), or further irritate HRC supporters who find my denunciations exhausting and unwise. What I am doing is trying to prevent the light that is Bernie Sanders from being extinguished by a corrupt system, one that protects entrenched politicians, myopic millionaires and sheeple who settle for what they’re fed instead of demanding to see the full menu.
We shouldn’t go down without a fight.
Sources: Superdelegatelist.com, TheGuardian.com, HuffingtonPost.com, PewResearch.org, Usuncut.com, New York Times, RealClearPolitics.com, NPR.org, Associated Press.
Friday, July 15, 2016
He did it again.
Rick Snyder – I don’t use his title because I like to pretend that he’s not my governor – flipped the bird to the citizens of our Great Lake State by appointing an oil and gas industry lobbyist to head the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
This is the same state department that remains under fire for contributing to the poisoning of the water in Flint, an hour northeast of my home, and sickening its 100,000 residents who are largely African-American and economically disadvantaged.
And now she’ll be heading up the state agency charged with “promoting wise management of Michigan’s air, land and water resources to support a sustainable environment, healthy communities and a vibrant economy.”
I’ve written about the Flint crisis before – see F*ck You, Flint, Slimy Snyder and the Water Crisis, Part Two and Pure Michigan My Ass - and I’d like to not write about it again. But as long as Snyder keeps slapping his constituents in the face, I’ll keep slapping back. I never liked arrogant assholes and I sure don’t like it when they pick on people who can’t defend themselves.
By the way, did you know that according to a group called Progress Michigan, Snyder has received roughly $90,000 from the oil and gas industry since running for and becoming governor? I’m sure that wagonload of cash had absolutely no bearing on the appointment process in the Executive Office.
As I discussed with a Facebook friend, it’s easy to bemoan and criticize; the hard part is knowing what to do about the problem and doing it. In this case, it’s simple, we agreed. V-O-T-E. Rick Snyder never should have been elected with 58 percent of the vote in 2010 and re-elected by 51 percent of those who voted in 2014. (If I believed in god, I’d thank her for the fact that he’s term-limited and will only be able to screw shit up for two more years.) If more people would get off their asses and spend five minutes of Election Day helping to select their leaders, we just might save the state – or at least loosen the GOP’s grip on Michigan’s State Capital.
My friend Lisa Wozniak, who heads up the Michigan League of Conservation Voters, responded to Snyder’s insulting move thusly:
“While we are committed to working with Ms. Grether in this new role, we do question the Governor’s priorities in appointing someone with deep ties to the oil industry to the task of rebuilding Michiganders’ trust in our state environmental protection agency. After the Flint water crisis clearly demonstrated there were cultural problems within the DEQ, this appointment is a concerning development."
And Progress Michigan’s Lonnie Scott said, ““Tapping a former executive of the fossil fuel industry, which has been the chief engine of climate change denial and the degradation of air and water quality in our country and around the world, is not what Michigan needs at the head of the MDEQ. This is another example of Snyder choosing his corporate donors over the well-being of Michiganders and the communities where they stake their livelihoods and futures.”
That about sums it up.
Note: Readers might notice that I’ve started using uncensored versions of bad words in my writing. I was told that because we’re all grownups and it’s pretty obvious what words I’m choosing, I might as well stop being a pussy and spell the damn things out. So that’s what I’m doing. If you’re offended by the new me, don’t just bemoan and criticize. V-O-T-E.
Sources: Detroit Free Press, U.S. Census Bureau, Progress Michigan.
Saturday, July 9, 2016
This is another one of those times when I doubt I’ll be able to share anything that hasn’t already been said or written but I feel compelled nonetheless to post about the recent gun deaths that have fueled the fires of distrust and distress in this country.
Two black men, 37-year-old Alton Sterling and 32-year-old Philando Castile, were murdered by police within a day of each other (Sterling was shot last Tuesday; Castile was killed the next day.) Then last Thursday night at a peaceful protest of police brutality against people of color, at least one sniper shot 14 people – 12 police officers and two civilians – and killed five of the cops. The few hundred people who were in Belo Garden Park in downtown Dallas had a night they won’t soon forget.
|Sterling and Castile|
I, like millions of others, have seen the videos. They are jarring and alarming. They’re like movies – R-rated action flicks with more gunfire than plot – only Bruce Willis or Jason Statham never appear and the end credits are missing. They’re like episodes of Law and Order only there’s no order. I now know exactly how gunfire sounds. And I know that I probably lack the courage to film these events as they’re happening.
It’s downright risky to live here. Even if Trump steals the election and builds his wall, it’ll do nothing to prevent what's in these clips. I could almost feel how scared people in Dallas were. I could feel Sterling’s fear and surprise and the shock and disbelief that Diamond Reynolds, Castile’s girlfriend, felt as she filmed the chaotic aftermath of his shooting. I could feel four-year-old Dae'Anna Reynold’s terror and confusion as she tried to console her distraught mother. (Is it standard police procedure to fire your Glock 22 into an automobile when a four-year-old kid is sitting in the back seat?)
When I shared my concerns with Anita, she told me I was being too dramatic and I should stay away from Facebook lest my view of reality be skewed. I told her I’d take her input into consideration but that it’s a fact that Sterling was shot to death in the parking lot of a convenience store by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for selling CDs. It’s a fact that a cop shot Castile after pulling him over for a broken taillight in Falcon Heights, just northwest of St. Paul, Minnesota, and he died of his injuries. It’s a fact that African-Americans are dying at the hands of police at an alarming and devastating rate. And it’s a fact that my view of reality is probably already skewed and I’m very afraid.
I’m not going to write another post exclusively about guns (see “Shoot! So Far Nothing’s Changed!” or “So Shoot Me” or “Pistol Packin’ Yahoo in Aisle 4” or any of my other “What’s the Diehl?” posts about this issue). Given that there are more than 300 million guns in private ownership in this country – more guns than people – the horse has left the barn. Instead I just want to acknowledge how much harder it seems to be to find the beauty in life, the positive aspects, the love and kindness and compassion and tolerance that I thought we were known for and told my kids is all around us.
I want to acknowledge that people of color have had to live with fear, doubt, loss and violence – and the sense of being victims, hated and ignored by those in power – for too long. Based on data compiled by The Guardian, black males between the ages of 15 and 34 were nine times more likely to be killed by police officers than any other demographic. This group also accounted for 15 percent of all 2015 deaths from law enforcement encounters, despite making up just two percent of the U.S. population. Last year alone, The Guardian estimates, at least 306 black people were killed by police. (Sadly and unbelievably, a Google search of Africa-Americans who were killed by cops resulted in more names and stories than I can count. Literally.)
I want to pay tribute to just some of the men, women and children who’ve lost their lives because of bad cops and bad gun policies: Allison Wyatt, Benjamin Wheeler, Victoria Soto, Mary Sherlach, Lauren Russeau, Jesse Lewis, Sandra Bland, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, AnneMarie Murphy, Eric Harris, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi , John Crawford III, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Michael Brown Jr., Chase Kowalski, Catherine Hubbard, Madeleine Hsu, Dawn Hocksprung, Walter Scott, Dylan Hockley, Ana Marquez-Greene, Josephine Gay, Rachel Davino, Olivia Engel, Daniel Barden, Charlotte Bacon, Trayvon Martin, Andy Lopez, Jonathan Ferrell, Aiyana Jones, Oscar Grant, Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Clementa C. Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, and Myra Thompson. (There are multitudinous others; these are the individuals who received media coverage.)
And I want to honor Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, just the latest – but regrettably, probably not the last – victims of unjustified violence at the hands of our Boys in Blue.
Including the names of all the victims of gun violence in Chicago, Detroit, Orlando, San Bernardino, and other cities would make for too long a list.
A Facebook friend from an Asian country wanted to know why we don’t do something about gun violence in America. This was my reply:
Because our lawmakers work for the gun manufacturers, not the voters. We have a part of our Constitution that says "A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to bear arms shall not be infringed." Some people interpret this - which was written in the 1770s when single-shot muskets were the weapons of the day - to mean that anybody can have as many guns as he wants and any effort to control guns or stop gun violence (or even to study the issue) is a violation of the Second Amendment. So with gun makers giving money to politicians, the police being able to do whatever they want and a hatred of black people on the part of some, things aren't getting better. They're just getting worse.
Am I wrong? Are they really getting worse? I'm really not sure.
You’ll notice I don’t suggest remedies, provide names and numbers of organizations and politicians, or offer next steps to my readers in this blog post. I’ve done this before and nothing’s changed.
I know all cops aren't rotten. I know not all white people are racist and not all black people hate white people. But the ugliness, the negativity and resentment and unfairness are so loud and dark and big. They're so debilitating and disgusting. It's hard for most people to move on from the horror of what we do to each other. Needless death, murder, violence and betrayal are hard to ignore, especially when they occur more regularly than the ebb and flow of the tides. It's not easy to spot flowers in a field of old tires, used diapers, fast food wrappers and condoms. We need more flowers.
At the risk of skewing your reality, I’ll share just a few of the many relevant memes and images that have appeared on my Facebook wall in the last day or two:
For more information, read “Here’s a Timeline of Unarmed Black People Killed By Police Over Past Year,” “Guns in America: By the Numbers,” “15 Statistics That Tell the Story of Gun Violence This Year (2015),” “There are Now More Guns than People in the United States,” “Why Alton Sterling and Philando Castile Are Dead,” “Philando Castile shooting stirs anguish from Shonda Rhimes, President Obama and others still reeling from Alton Sterling's death,” “Why It’s Impossible to Indict a Cop” and “Why Most Police Shootings Don't End With Prosecutions.”
Sources: National Public Radio, CNN.com, TheDailyBeast.com, Heavy.com, New York Daily News, The Guardian, Washington Post, The Nation, BusinessInsider.com, Buzzfeed.com, Gawker.com.