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Freedom of Speech and Freedom from Consequences Aren’t the Same Thing

What happened in Charlottesville this past weekend is disgusting. However, people are fighting back. One man’s father told him he’s no longer welcome at family events. Someone else has been fired from their job. As more and more men are identified through the photos that were taken I am sure more will be fired.

These men ran around screaming about their First Amendment rights, like that makes it okay. What they fail to understand is that the First Amendment does not protect them from consequences in the private sector. The First Amendment only applies to protect people from government action taken against them.

It seems hilarious to me that these tiki torch carrying, khaki clad men would think that they would be immune from consequences for their action. 1. They have to realize that they are the minority. Not only do non-whites not support them, neither do most whites. 2. Most states are at-will employment states and you can be fired for just about anything. It should be obvious to them that most companies don’t want their customers to know that they employ NeoNazis. 3. They’ve railed and screamed at people on the other side for their beliefs (like when Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem)  – did they really thing it wouldn’t happen the other way around.

Additionally, speech that incites violence is NOT protected by the First Amendment either. When their stated purpose is to start violence, it’s not going to be protected. Perhaps they should have paid more attention in the government classes or actually read the Constitution they think they’re being patriots for.

Just because someone has the right to say whatever they want doesn’t mean anyone has to like it or support it. It doesn’t mean that they can skate by without anyone responding to their hate-filled rantings.

If you’re going to stand up and denounce every race but your own, you’re bound to run up against some opposition.

But, since it doesn’t seem like they can step outside of themselves for even a few minutes, I don’t think this realization will ever hit them.

In the meantime, we can all sit back and watch as consequences rain down on them.

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Trump should serve as a warning to all of us

I haven’t been even a little coy about my contempt for Donald Trump. He’s a tiny-handed, narcissistic, man-child still seeking his daddy’s approval and ruining our country in the process. But, he can do something positive for us. He can show us all how living a life filled with expectation leads to unhappiness.

It’s my belief that the happiest people are the people who have learned to live with no expectations. They don’t expect life to be easy, they just expect it to be what it is. Life isn’t fair. It’s not easy. It’s not filled with happiness all the time.

However, Trump and people like him expect that life will just unfold before him perfectly. I don’t know if it’s how he was raised (but I suspect so), but he acts like he expects everyone to just do what he wants them to. Like he’s what the world revolves around. He expects that his worldview should be or is the dominant worldview. He expects that money should get him whatever he wants. I mean, maybe it got him his wife, but I don’t think that’s working out for him as well as he expected it to.

And that’s the problem. Expectations rarely work out the way we think they will. We see things from our limited perspective, discounting the people around us, who all have their own motivations and expectations. We also can’t predict the world of larger events – things like natural disasters, the criminal or nasty intentions of others.

Our expectations also imply that we know what’s best on the grander scale. When we get focused on a set of ideas, and it blocks us from being able to see other possibilities. These possibilities could bring us rewards we never dreamed of because we couldn’t comprehend them, but we’ll never see them because expectations clouds our vision. It’s truly sad for us.

Because Trump has expectations, he acts out of fear that the expectations will not be fulfilled. Acting out of fear is rarely (I would say never) a good idea. It’s more short-sighted than allowing life to unfold, which means precluding a whole series of other potentialities. Fear is the greatest liar in our lives. Nothing cuts us down faster than fear.

And we can see what it’s doing to the United States. Fear leads to unrealistic nationalism, racism, homophobia, etc. It’s not the United States I love so much. It’s not a United States with possibility. It’s backward-looking and limiting. With our resources and population, we should be leading the world in science, technology, mathematics, economics, etc. But we’re not. Until our Dear Leader gets his head out of his ass, we’re going to continue to skid, out of control, backwards, to an era where equality was a dream.

Dear Dems, please get it together

Dear Democrats,

We’re at a very critical junction in history right now. For as fucked up as we thought things were under George W. Bush, this is a whole lot worse. Trump’s approval ratings hit an incredible low, one that usually takes people at least a year to get to. The question is, what are you going to do about it?

True talk right now, radical honesty: You’re not very good at winning elections. There’s rarely a unified strategy. You wait until the last minute to pull something together. There is a lot of information that should be coming from the top down, and you don’t do it. You should be reaching out to college kids on a constant basis, training them on the party values, getting them into communities to talk to people, and you’re not. That’s a golden missed opportunity right there.

You seem to have forgotten who made the party strong. You’re catering to elites instead of to the working class. I have no idea where the principles of FDR have gone. We need progressive ideals if you want to win the people over and push the party forward. A lot of the time, you’re sort of just left of center. As this past election has shown you, that’s not a safe place to be. It alienated MANY voters. And, the wrong voters – the young voters. They are the future of the party. Unless you want to become what the GOP has turned into, you better make some changes, and fast.

The party does have a broad base and that makes finding consensus hard. At times things will have to be broken down to location. Not supporting a candidate who doesn’t like abortion even though he’s in one of the most conservative states in the nation is stupid. The reality is that we have to find a way to cater to everyone, not just a portion of the voting population. Will more liberal voters dislike it? Absolutely. Does that matter in the long run? No. They aren’t voting in those states. They’re focusing on what’s happening with their race at home. There you can pick the more liberal candidate.

You need to work smarter. You need to find a way to get people involved much earlier in the process. Like right now, for example. You should have boots on the ground all over the US registering people to vote when the pressure of an election isn’t on them. You should be communicating with people, showing them why what the Republicans are doing harms them, AND why what you’re proposing is better.

It’s time to be aggressive. It’s time to show the nation that you mean business. No more sitting back on your heels waiting for the Republicans to do something so you can respond. That’s not going to win you support and it’s not going to win you elections. If you have any hope of becoming the dominant party, you have to make those changes. Now.

Stop letting the party fracture. Reach out. Build consensus. Get more moderate people talking to more progressive people. See where the compromise is. Because none of us wants to lose to the GOP anymore. We’re sick of CheetoSatan, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, Jefferson Sessions, Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon, Steve Miller, Ivanka, and Jared.

DO SOMETHING.

Dear Everyone “With Her”, move on

Dear Everyone With Her,

I said yesterday that I Felt the Bern, and it’s true, I did. I love progressive ideals and I think we need them to move this country forward. However, I’m also pragmatic. Since Bill Clinton was POTUS, I’ve recognized how brilliant Hillary is, and what she could do for us as POTUS herself.

So when the election rolled around, I was out canvassing.

The thing about Hillary though is that she’s a terrible candidate. People can’t help but make comparison to Bill, and he’s practically the definition of charisma. Voters like charismatic people. In one-on-one settings Hillary is reportedly fantastic, but that doesn’t get you to the presidency. It gets you elected president of the PTA. Hillary did look great compared to Bill when it came to morality though, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, Russian bots ruined that for her and voters disinclined to do any homework ate it up. That was truly a travesty.

I think Hillary was a better candidate than Bernie because what she was pushing for seemed achievable. We weren’t going to get to Medicare for all anytime soon. People aren’t ready for that kind of change, especially since they never fully seemed to understand the Affordable Care Act. It was too much, too fast.

Also, not everyone is as progressive. Running Bernie would have pushed people into voting for Trump or a third-party just to feel safer about the possible changes. Government has gone so far over most people’s heads it’s frightening. Politicians aren’t taking time to explain what’s happening in layman’s terms. Not only that, bills are stuff with so much pork, it’s hard to know exactly what someone is really voting for. That’s something we need to change for sure.

Obviously something weird happened this past election or the person who won the popular vote would have won the presidency. This isn’t the first time it’s happened, and given our system, it may not be the last. However, we can’t let that control how we do things going forward. We can’t sit back and be pissed at everyone we thought was stupid because they voted for Trump. They did and it’s done. We can’t sit back be pissed about everyone who voted third-party. They did and it’s done.

Now we have to find a way to work with the rest of the Left to come up with something that is progressive, but also achievable. Not working with progressives is not an option unless we want Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and others of their ilk to continue to win elections. Their party has gone straight off the rails. Reasonable conservatives (yes, they exist) are at a loss now. They’re working to understand what happened and looking for where they belong in this new political landscape. Now may be a chance to grab them.

I hope going forward that Everyone With Her and the Bernie Bros can find a way forward, together. It’s going to take everyone to stop the evil that’s infected our democracy.

Dear Bernie Bros, move on

Dear Bernie Bros,

Look, I get it. I was Feeling the Bern too. I thought the primaries and caucuses were a little sketchy. I thought Mother Nature herself was telling us to vote for Bernie.

It didn’t matter to me that Bernie Sanders hasn’t been a Democrat in a really long time. Democrats wanted him as their candidate, that’s all that mattered to me. I think we need a progressive platform to move this country forward. I also think Democrats have forgotten who they should be representing.

That all being said, the election is over. Election 2016 was a giant clusterfuck. But anyone who plays sports or enjoys them knows that if you can’t play with the refs, don’t play at all. There has probably never been a refereed game where the refs got all of the calls right. People walk away pissed off. But, if you’re relying on the referees to win a game, chances are good you haven’t played well enough to earn the win.

So yeah, what I’m saying is that Bernie didn’t do enough to win the game. People of color had issues with him that never got resolved. He pushed hard on economic issues, but didn’t speak to racial issues enough. A lot of people who are older than 30 or 35 felt like he was *too* progressive. While that sounds ridiculous to us, there’s a point to be made there. Our government can only accomplish so much at any given time. If we want to see massive progressive changes, that CANNOT happen from the top down. It has to happen at the local and state levels first. It was NEVER going to happen just by electing Sanders.

What Bernie was able to do was bring Hillary to the Left, which was tremendous. If she even wanted a shot at winning, she had to get Millennials to believe in her, at least a little bit. She moved Left enough to bring people in and stayed where most her base could stay with her.

We need to accept the fact that Bernie wasn’t the nominee. Would he have beaten Mango Mussolini? I think so. But, as much fun as that mental masturbation is, it wasn’t how it fell out. If you want to keep jerking off over it, do it privately. Don’t waste space on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or wherever else doing it. We don’t have time for that shit anymore. Sorry. It’s the truth.

The 2018 mid-term elections aren’t that far away. If the Republicans can’t get find their fucking morality between now and then, we need to get people elected who will do something about. People who are committed to progressive ideals. People who will do what they promise to do. THAT is what matters now. Not what happened to Bernie months ago.

Unless we want a repeat of this awful fucking election in 2018 and 2020, we need to get with the program. And fast. Otherwise, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and their cluster of evil will beat us again. And again. I that what you want? I know it’s not what I want. I’m tired of losing to soulless, self-absorbed, greedy, conservatives who don’t exhibit any of the values they claim to have.

Let’s join together and talk about the things we all have in common, the things we all want to see happen. Economic prosperity for all. Social equality for all. Healthcare for all. If we focus on those things, we should not only be able to band together with everyone on the Left, we may even be able to pull in people on the Right.

What do you say?

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Comey: 1, Trump: 0

I wasn’t going to, but I ended up watching part of James Comey’s testimony yesterday. Here are my takeaways:

  1. This Russia business is serious shit. They ramped up their campaign against America in 2016, and it’s not over with yet. I was a little concerned when Comey emphasized that it wasn’t about Republicans or Democrats, because that could weaken the argument that Trump’s team was colluding with the Russians. But, the reality is, Putin is interested in destabilizing the US and will align himself with whoever he needs to accomplish that. In Election 2016 that clearly wasn’t going to be Hillary since she was warning everyone what Russia was up to.
  2. I’m less pissed about Comey’s commentary regarding Hillary’s email issues in the last election. I don’t know why he bothered with anything in the days leading up to the election, since that clearly hurt Clinton, but the reality is that Russian bots were already hard at work spinning whatever they could for the MAGA crowd, so I don’t know how much of a difference it really made.
  3. Our elected officials are not looking out for our best interests. The questions about Hillary’s email issues were a complete waste of time given the point of the hearing. They were looking to give FoxNews some soundbites they could use, and they got those. They didn’t get to the heart of the issue at all: Russia’s interference and whether Trump obstructed justice.
  4. John McCain is out of touch with reality. I have serious questions about his ability to do his job. He kept asking about why Clinton was cleared of the Russian investigation. Try as he might, Comey could not get it through to McCain that they were separate investigations. McCain tried to clarify after the hearing what he was getting at, but he still missed the point. The email investigation was OVER. That’s why Comey could comment regarding whether Clinton had done anything criminal. At no point during his tenure at the FBI was the Russia investigation concluded to where Comey would have been free to comment on Trump’s culpability.
  5. Our elected officials aren’t looking out for our best interests. I want to throw this one out there again. The questions about why Comey didn’t stand up to Trump, resign in the face of questions about the administration, and why he didn’t immediately pursue an inquiry against Trump for his pressure to end an investigation completely miss the point. They’re illogical. The best way to stand up to Trump and defend America against Trump was to stay quiet and in his position to start that investigation. Resigning wouldn’t have left him in a position to do any of that.
  6. Comey knew from the beginning what most of us have known about Trump – he cannot be trusted. One of the senators on the panel brought up the excellent point that in the law, writings made contemporaneously with a meeting are given great weight because they’re seen as being more accurate. Comey knew what a snake Trump is and knew that, should he display any form of disloyalty, he’d be out on his ass. Basically, he did exactly what every law student is taught: He covered his ass. CYA is one of the first things you learn in law school, and if not there, definitely in practice.
  7. Trump obstructed justice. Some of the senators appeared to try to suggest that Trump saying he “hoped” that Comey would let the Flynn thing go (since he’d been asked to resign) wasn’t really a directive to Comey. That’s a damn big reach. Trump boots everyone out of the office and one-on-one has a serious conversation with Comey? That’s got to raise some eyebrows. It doesn’t matter that Trump has publicly shared his disapproval of the Russia investigation. He met with Comey, by himself. Comey said he felt like Trump was giving him a directive, under those circumstances. If he wasn’t trying to issue a directive, why say anything at all? Trump was attempting to influence an investigation that affected members of his team. That’s obstruction. It doesn’t matter that he (may) lawfully has the authority to direct who or what should be investigated.
  8. Comey did the right thing by sharing his memos. Comey testified that he shared his memos with a friend who shared them with the news in the hopes that a special prosecutor would be appointed. He knew that shit stank to high heaven in the administration and that the only way anything would truly be investigated is if there was a special prosecutor. The only way to make that happen was to drop a huge bombshell. Well done.

Of course, none of these hearings matter if Republicans won’t get their shit together and do what’s best for the country. Democracy as we know it was attacked and will continue to be attacked unless we do something. If Republicans don’t stand up now, who knows if there will be anything left to fight for.

This presidency is an unmitigated disaster

The US President is no longer the leader of the free world. The US isn’t even viewed as a full democracy anymore.

The US is no longer leading the call for a cleaner and more sustainable world. It’s fallen to mayors and other leading city and county executives to ensure the health and well-being of its citizens and work with global leaders since the federal government can’t do what’s right.

States are passing single-payer health systems because the federal government can’t come together and do what’s best for its citizens.

The Attorney General reportedly offered to resign because Mango Mussolini won’t give him the freedom to do his job (not that I love what Sessions was trying to do, but still). Can’t accept the resignation though because he wouldn’t be able to push someone else though and the guy waiting in the wings actually wants to do his damn job.

It’s now completely and openly known that Putin interfered in our election and gave the victory to Twitler. Yet no one seems to want to do anything about it. Of course, we shouldn’t expect Republicans, like Paul Ryan, to do anything about it since so many of them either knew about or participated in the fraud. (Russians are also hacking internationally and screwing with international relations.)

It feels like the United States is falling apart. Racism is back in the open with more attacks on minorities than before. People feel emboldened by Trump’s lack of humanity and unwillingness to tell people to respect each other. Our elected officials seem to have absolutely no regard for their roles and are acting in only their best interests. The government that was supposed to be FOR the people is gone.

And what can we do about it? We’re resisting as best we can, but that doesn’t seem to be having an effect. Even Democrats can’t seem to get their shit together to do anything to move us forward. Popular officials, like Cory Booker, have been taking money from Crooked Jared Kushner, and aren’t responding to calls for explanations or promises to stop.

The 2018 elections aren’t far away, but it’s going to be a long time until we get there. We must keep being active. Speaking out against the wrongs and in support of each other. It’s time to make new connections with those around us. We must start caring about each other’s stories. We must start validating each other’s lives.

If we cannot do that, the US will surely stop existing as we knew it. We cannot let Trump and his cronies do that to us. To what we’ve built. We need to bring back the hope.

Violence is Counterproductive

This post was prompted by the attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester. My heart goes out to all of the victims and their families. It’s such a tragedy.

I think Brian May makes some good points in this video.

The only thing violence does is beget more violence. The attacks on 9/11 were horrible. Since I wasn’t part of the planning, I have no idea whether they achieved their aim. The American response was to stand stronger together. It didn’t change the American way of life (except to allow the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act – a horrible invasion of privacy).

What it did do though, is cause the United States to respond with violence. Ultimately, people not directly involved in 9/11 were affected by later attacks by the US. This led to the radicalization of people who may have been sympathetic to the plight of the American people. But, once they saw their families murdered for no good reason, any compassion or empathy they felt for us disappeared. Belief that the US attacks rescue workers to prevent any lives from being saved would lead anyone to hatred. I’m sure that if the situation were reversed, and American rescue workers were targeted, or if it seemed that way, I would be furious. That goes well beyond any called for behavior, even in a war. (Which we were not involved in.)

Violence won’t get us where we want to go. Hell, half the problem is that we don’t know where we want to go. If we’re seeking domination of the world by Western ideology, there will never be a resolution. Americans simply do not have any other perspective by which to judge how governments in other places are run. Our government was founded on the idea of religious freedom. Of course, that was fairly limited in scope since it was essentially one form of Christianity over another, but most of us have extended that idea to all religious beliefs, of the lack thereof. There are those who don’t seem to agree with it, like Marmalade Mussolini, but I don’t believe he truly represents most Americans. (Or, I just desperately want to believe that.)

Because we can’t get our heads around it, we will always want to change it. That is extremely unlikely to happen. For many, a government that is intertwined with religion is the only thing they know. Indeed, it’s the only thing that makes sense when religion is a core aspect of life. Regardless of whether we understand it, that’s how it is.

What we really need is to react with compassion. We need to at least TRY to understand someone else’s perspective. American exceptionalism makes me insane. We act like we’re the best at everything when evidence points to the contrary. We have people who have insufficient health insurance for their needs. Kids graduate from high school barely able to read. Our elected officials have forgotten what it’s like to be just “one of the people” and are acting in their own best interests all the time, to the detriment of probably 98% of the country. Our college graduates aren’t necessarily the world’s leading scientists and researchers. We have open and obvious racism which continues to oppress millions of Americans. We haven’t figured out how to let people be who they are, and want to tell people who it’s right to love and which bathroom to use.

I think I can see where outsiders think we have over-inflated opinions of ourselves. Who are we to judge someone else and tell them how to live?

At some point, to stop the pointless tragedies, someone has to be willing to be the first to say, “This cannot go on,” and move forward with compassion.

I’d like to think it could be us. But our recent election and current behavior leave me gravely concerned that it is not likely to be us.

The Right needs to get real

A couple of thoughts first: 1. The Left has its own issues. I’ll get to those later. 2. This isn’t ALL of the Right – but really the people who live and breathe Fox News and Breitbart.

Headline: President Fires FBI Director Investigating Him

Were this any time between Jan 20, 2009 and Jan 20whatever, 2017, Republicans would have been on this like white on rice. Salivating, licking chops like an animal that’s HUNGRY. It would have been added to the list of things Obama was attacked for – allegedly being born in Kenya (though that wouldn’t have mattered anyway since his mother was an American and he would have been a natural-born American), being a Muslim (though I don’t understand what that hast o do with anything either), attacking only certain right-leaning groups for IRS issues, etc.

He fired the man investigating him? OBVIOUSLY TRYING TO COVER SOMETHING UP.

Trump does it and it’s like, “Comey didn’t even write that,” “Did he write it before or after he left?”

Come. The. Fuck. On.

Comey knew what was coming. He was doing what EVERY lawyer does CYA – COVER YOUR ASS. He knew that his relationship with Trump was tenuous. Trump’s personality is volatile and you never know whether he’ll consider you a friend or foe. I would hope everyone in that administration is doing a lot of CYA. Though people like Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon, Steven Miller, and Kellyanne Conway are beyond redemption. They will forever and always have the stink of Trump on them.

What I really don’t understand is what is the point of this delusion with Trump? Sticking one’s head up one’s own ass only leads to getting shit in one’s eyes. There’s no other way to describe the broadcasters on Fox News who insist that this is not an issue.

The way I judge whether someone’s absolutely just full of shit is to ask them how they’d respond if the party affiliations were the other way and see how much they trip over their tongue to say “Of course it would be the same thing!” Yeah, right. If I can’t honestly say that I’d treat things the same way if it were the “other side” I know that I’m just being a partisan asshole and re-assess. It’s not rocket science.

We aren’t going to get anywhere if we can’t get through that basic kind of thought process. And if we don’t get anywhere, we are going to be stuck in this shithole place of nothing getting done that benefits the majority of Americans.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I certainly don’t want to live in an America that’s like that.

The Glorious Sound of the Call for Impeachment

It may not go anywhere, but you know what, I’ll take what we’ve got so far.

Thank you, Representative Al Green. You’ve done your constituents a service.

Everyone – Republicans and Democrats alike – are now stepping back, claiming we need more evidence. I think Trump gave us everything we need himself, but I guess we can get some more.

He fired Comey because he didn’t like that he was investigating. And admitted that. To everyone. Thanks for making it easy.

He’s giving information to Russia that he shouldn’t be, likely because he’s too interested in appearing powerful to Putin.

It’s about time people are taking this shit seriously.

Onward and upward!