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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.

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.

Trump is the true enemy of the American people

Donald Trump tweeted yesterday that the “Fake News” is not his enemy, it is the enemy of the American people.

This tweet comes after his disaster of a press conference on Thursday. Trump did what he usually does when asked reasonable and intelligent questions, he talked about himself. His electoral college win (though he was knocked down a peg when a journalist pointed out that he was lying about how great a victory it was). How he’s a good guy. How Russia is “fake news.” (I have yet to figure out what “fake news” is.) How the leaks are real but the news is fake. (A journalist did say, point blank, that that makes no sense. Trump ignored it.) We also got a pretty clear display of casual racism.

And of course, what would a Trump presser be if we didn’t get to hear how horrible the media is? He talked about the tone of hatred that extends from the media to him.

Then, when he’s got a chance to get his tiny fingers back on his phone, he tweets about how the “failing” news media is the enemy of the American people.

I would like to say, for the record, that the media isn’t the enemy of the American people. Freedom of the press and the need for it is as old as our country. When independent journalists do their jobs, the American people get unbiased facts they need to make critical decisions when they enter a ballot booth. Without the press, we wouldn’t have learned the extent of Richard Nixon’s treacherous behavior. In fact, Nixon also declared the press an enemy.

Eliminating freedom of the press is one of the main features of fascism. The goal is to turn it into a tool of the state and use it for propaganda.  We can disagree about many things on how the US is governed, but I think we can all agree that we are not interested in a fascist state. Fascism is the antithesis of American values.

There are those who say that Trump is doing what the people want. His executive orders have come in a flurry. The reality is that those may have little to no meaning in the long run. But it looks great to his core supporters. Outside of his core supporters, there are many across the political spectrum who are willing to give him a chance. They give him tacit support or are opposed, but still willing to take a “wait and see” approach.

I am NOT one of those people.

We don’t have the time and luxury for that. We are already progressing quickly on the path to fascism.

People have outlined the traits of fascist regimes differently, but regardless of how it’s viewed, we’re in trouble.

By Rense
1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism – “America First” says it all
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights – Wanting to employ torture, denying religious freedom, eliminating federal funding to so-called “sanctuary cities,” travel ban
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause – ISIS, Muslims, Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals
4. Supremacy of the Military – He’s repeatedly said we’re going to have the best military, talks about nuclear holocaust, blowing up the Russian spy ship, emphasis on new military spending
5. Rampant Sexism – “You can grab ’em by the pussy,” women needing to dress “like women,” refusal to take on equal pay issues
6. Controlled Mass Media – Calling all news outlets that don’t blindly support him “fake news,” guiding us to Breitbart and Fox News, only calling on conservative outlets for questions
7. Obsession with National Security – This is Trump’s #1 priority right now
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined – Fortunately we haven’t gone too far down this path, but his preference for Christian refugees all over any others is troubling and telling
9. Corporate Power is Protected – Trump is using his presidency for his own personal gain, deregulation was one of his first executive orders, and he’s looking for breaks so his friends can get loans
10. Labor Power is Suppressed – Trump is unlikely to back any laws that support any kind of minimum wage increase, that is just the beginning of undermining the labor force
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts – Trump has attacked Meryl Streep after her unflattering awards speech, he references the “elites” as though he isn’t one
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment – Trump has repeated stated that he doesn’t believe we have enough laws regarding drugs, to protect police and has called for law enforcement departments nationwide to re-evaluate, and for legislatures to revise their laws to protect police. Law enforcements agencies have said there is no need for this.
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption – Most of Trump’s political appointments have been donors, he wants to revamp regulations on lending institutions so his friends can get loans, and well, RUSSIA and Rex Tillerson
14. Fraudulent Elections – Despite winning the election, Trump has repeatedly called into question the legitimacy of the election – alleging that there was rampant voter fraud with “illegals” voting (against him, naturally). He wants an investigation into voter fraud issues. This lays the groundwork for him to ignore the 2020 results, should he even last that long.

By Umberto Eco
1. The cult of tradition – “Make America Great Again” was the rally cry for Trump. He wants to throw us back into the 1950s and his supporters are delighted to travel back in time when they didn’t feel so oppressed.
2. The rejection of modernism – Rational discourse will not be tolerated under Trump. He seeks “peace through strength”
3. The cult of action for action’s sake – This concisely summarizes Trump’s executive orders, most notably the travel ban. Without consulting relevant agencies, he issued the executive order, which they are now abandoning because of a “bad court”
4. Disagreement is treason – While he hasn’t actually stated this, he’s had staff fired for having written things in the past that were not favorable to him, fired Sally Yates for not simply doing what he told her, and generally refuses to call on medial outlets that are likely to challenge him
5. Fear of difference – Trump surrounds himself with people who look and act like him. He wants to let in Christian refugees primarily and block others from entering, wants to keep Mexicans out of the country, and can barely interact with other racial minorities
6. Appeal to social frustration – This is probably what won Trump the election. He spoke to groups who felt marginalized and rural areas turned out in record numbers to support him.
7. The obsession with a plot – Perhaps more times than he’s done anything else, he’s attacked supporters of Hillary Clinton and the media for sabotaging his election (which is why he lost the popular vote). Even now he still speaks of Hillary though the election has obviously ended. Everything is a liberal conspiracy against him.
8. The enemy is both strong and weak – ISIS is powerful, but HE can defeat them. Russia is powerful, but he is the key to our salvation.
9. Pacifism is trafficking with the enemy – “Peace through strength” (i.e. military force)
10. Contempt for the weak – This is probably best seen through Trump’s continuous struggle to identify himself as being powerful and strong, and identifying the United States as the strongest nation.
11. Everybody is educated to become a hero – It seems we have yet to see this play out, but it is still early in his presidency
12. Machismo and weaponry – I laugh at the idea of Trump as macho, but I am fairly certain that is how he sees himself, as best defined by his sexual prowess. We already know he wants to cultivate the strongest army, building it up beyond where it is even now.
13. Selective populism – Every time he is on air or tweeting, he’s talking to his core supporters – those who truly understand his message. His supporters believe he should focus only on them, not on those who disagree with them. This is counter to the Constitution and American values (at least recently)
14. Newspeak (impoverished vocabulary and elementary syntax) – Trump’s tweets certainly exemplify this point and his speeches are not far off. His speech has been compared to that of an 8th grader’s.

It is clear that we are much farther down this path than we should be. The Resistance is strong, but in order to win against fascism, we must STAY fighting. It will be long. It will be exhausting. But it IS necessary.

1

Been a while…

It’s been so long since I wrote here that I actually forgot my username. I’m not sure what that says about what’s going on in my life. Now I do know that I’m overwhelmed what’s going on in the world. Between trying to have several direct sales businesses (I have a reason for having more than one – I love what they all mean to me) and what’s going on with the United States government, it’s just all too much.

One one level, I’m just overwhelmed by trying to figure out how to make what I see as two different sides of my life work together. I have my personal life, which seems small and insignificant. Then there’s the Lyndsy that’s trying to figure out how to save my country. With so much going on, I’m drowning in trying to figure out what I can do to stop the madness. I don’t know how to balance the two. I also feel weird for having personal successes and joys.

I’m so disgusted by the President. He swept into office completely unprepared. I don’t think anyone can truly be prepared to be President of the United States of America. It’s an incredible responsibility and until that responsibility is sitting squarely on your shoulders, you can’t know what it will mean. I was looking through pictures of inaugurations over the years and the outgoing presidents and first ladies all wear smiles, while the incoming presidents and first ladies look panicked and/or very reserved.

However, Trump came in with a special lack of preparation. He had no idea that he would need to fill out the staff. He wasn’t attending briefings the way you’d expect of someone who would be the Commander in Chief for one of the world’s foremost militaries. He didn’t even seem to know who he was nominating for Cabinet positions.

And oh those nominations. It was like he went looking for everyone who was the antithesis of the department. Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. She who champions charter schools and voucher systems, who has never worked in public education nor sent her kids through the public education system. Rick Perry for Energy – the guy who forgot the department existed when he was running for President. Jeff Sessions for Attorney General – a guy who hates all the current policies and has fought against the legislation that protects minorities and who wants to undermine it. Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State with his questionable ties to oil, Russia, and Putin.

Trump lied to the American people. A lot of us didn’t buy what he was selling. More of us voted for Hillary than for him. But enough people in the right states listened to what he had to say. They bought the message of hope he conveyed. They believed him when he said he was going to return the country to the American people. That he would “drain the swamp.” That Wall Street wouldn’t run the country.

What they got was a man who’s got Goldman Sachs everywhere. He’s appointing millionaires and billionaires to posts. They’re completely out of touch with the majority of America. He almost has no problem admitting he lied to get what he wants.

Trump agenda so far seems to have been to try to push things as far as he possibly can to see what he can get away with. His executive order was challenged almost as soon as he issued it. It was done without consulting the appropriate agencies to make sure it made sense, that it was rational and logical. He’s throwing a fit because a judge (let alone 27) would dare defy him.

He fired Sally Yates, the Acting Attorney General, for doing her job, because he didn’t like what she had to say. That’s completely inappropriate. The last time that happened it was Nixon trying to cover up Watergate. That’s pretty clearly an issue.

He’s tweeting about how Nordstrom is treating his daughter Ivanka so unfairly. As President, that’s completely inappropriate. He shouldn’t be using the position as a bully pulpit to make money for his daughter. He still hasn’t separated himself from his business interests and conflicts abound. The military wanting to rent space in Trump Tower is ludicrous.

And yet, I still sit here, at a total loss for what I can possibly due to help. There are so many problems I don’t even know where to begin. It makes me want to throw my hands up in the air and just give up. But there’s a part of me that just can’t. I went to law school because I love the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The idea that these are in jeopardy is horrifying to me. That we didn’t learn from European history terrifies me. I’m embarrassed at how we look internationally. It’s shameful.

Doing nothing isn’t an option. We all have to do something. My hope is that a lot of small somethings will lead to something huge. Something that can’t be ignored by Trump and his administration. We don’t have a choice if we ever want to have the United States we know and love back.

2

Snow isn’t real

A Conversation

Person 1: Man, I hope the President and governors do something for the people in the Northeast who are getting pounded by those snowstorms.

Person 2: I don’t want my tax money going to help any of them.

Person 1: What? Why?

Person 2: Snow isn’t real.

Person 1: Um, excuse me?

Person 2: It’s all a government conspiracy to take my tax money and use it on those stupid Northeasterners. Like they don’t already get all the money.

Person 1: What do you mean it’s a conspiracy?

Person 2: Are you thick? Snow. Isn’t. Real.

Person 1: Yes, it is.

Person 2: I’ve never seen it.

Person 1: You’ve never seen snow?

Person 2: Nope. Born and raised in South Florida. Snow doesn’t exist.

Person 1: You’ve seen it on the TV and in movies.

Person 2: Like I said, government conspiracy. And, excellent sci-fi stuff.

Person 1: (points to himself) I have seen snow.

Person 2: No, you just think you have. It was an elaborate ruse.

Person 1: No. I lived in the Midwest. I’ve played in it. Made snowmen.

Person 2: Nope. I don’t believe it.

Person 1: (grabs a passerby) Is snow real?

Passerby: (looks around for a hidden camera) Are you serious?

Person 1: Yes.

Passerby: Yes, of course snow is real. (runs away)

Person 1: See, I told you. Snow is real.

Person 2: None of my friends have ever seen it.

Person 1: But other people have.

Person 2: But I haven’t. And my friends haven’t either. So it’s not real.

Person 1: (shakes head and walks away)

Sounds ridiculous, right? What’s really ridiculous though, is that this is basically the discussion I’ve had with people after Colin Kaepernick decided not to stand during the national anthem to protest the conditions of black Americans. All you have to do is substitute in “injustice against blacks” where I mention “snow.”

People (mostly white) keep insisting that blacks aren’t having problems. They’ve never seen it happen, so it isn’t happening. They work with black people, so black people can obviously get jobs. They have black friends who agree with them that the Black Lives Matter movement is overblown.

I have yet to figure out why people cannot admit there is a race problem in the United States. What is the harm in admitting there is a problem?

Is it an ego thing? A need to feel superior?

Or perhaps it’s economics? The (erroneous) belief that there isn’t enough for everyone to have a good share?

Of course, I fail to see how anyone could derive ego satisfaction for achieving more under these circumstances. It’s like being excited about winning a race when you never told your opponent when the race would be. Sure, you won. But who did you really beat?

There IS a race problem in the United States. People can continue to deny it, but that only means that some day, perhaps not a day far in the future, it will all blow up. We will have to face it. And, because we tried to sweep it under the rug for so long, it will be bigger, messier, and much harder to eradicate than if we’d just dealt with it properly in the first place.

 

Book Review: United by Cory Booker – Must Read

I didn’t want to read this book. I’ve a general lack of interest in books by politicians. I feel most of them are disingenuous and I assume their books follow suit. However, I’ve been following Cory Booker on social media for probably two years now and done some research of my own on him because he’s a rising star. I thought I’d give his book a chance.

To say that I was impressed would be an huge understatement. First and foremost, the book is believable. I’ve never met Senator Booker in person, but he comes across as trustworthy. Human. Caring. In the Introduction he emphasizes that the book is less about what he’s achieved, and more about the people who helped him do it. Throughout the book he demonstrates just how true that is.

The book is divided into chapters that seem to focus on a particular person and part of his life/political process. His parents and their values feature prominently throughout the book. Lessons like not taking credit for a triple when you were born on 3rd base and reminding him that he was standing on the shoulders of a great many giants who made his life possible. He seems to never have forgotten that.

Each of the steps he’s taken politically, he did at the urging and with the support of Newark community members. He learned a lot of hard lessons on the way, readily admitting that he fell short of where he wanted to be. He asked for the forgiveness of those he harmed as it happened. They gave him that forgiveness and continued to stand by him.

His commitment to public service and the public was probably best exemplified by his 10-day fast to bring about changes at the low-income housing buildings where he lived. The residents in that community had been forgotten and left behind, but Senator Booker wouldn’t stand for it. He got the whole community involved during his fast, holding prayer meetings and strategy sessions. Finally, the mayor of Newark deigned to appear and tae with him. The promises made by the mayor at the time were forgotten, but not by Senator Booker.

Living in Newark, particularly as mayor, Senator Booker witnessed the destruction crime wreaks on the people who live around it. He literally watched people die. He went on ride alongs with the police to better understand the issues they face and the issues the community had with the police. He even tried to stop a fleeing criminal on his own once. Those events touched him deeply and through his words it’s easy to see that continue to affect him today.

Senator Booker never lost sign of the privileges he had and how they affected him as he interacted with the citizens of Newark. Sometimes it blindsided him, how different his world was growing up from those he served. He worked hard to keep that at the forefront of his mind and it prompted him to work to end the injustices faced by black and Hispanic men at the hands of the criminal justice system.

As senator, he’s reached across party lines to get things done. He remembers who elected him and who he serves, pushing him to overlook party politics to make sure the people he represents are taken care of. It may not make him popular among the party, but for him, that’s not what matters. He seems to reflect deeply on his actions and in order to sleep at night, he’s got to do what’s right.

The real reason to read this book is that Cory Booker IS a rising politician. It seems almost guaranteed that he will run for President of the United States one day. As interested as I have always been in politics, I never saw a candidate I was willing to attach myself to. That always bothered me greatly. I was always willing to serve on someone’s staff, but it had to be someone I could believe in. Someone I could trust. Someone I knew would do the right thing, even if it made him or her unpopular.

All that being said, Senator Booker IS someone I would work for. I believe he has the best interests of the American people at heart. I believe that he would stop at nothing to see the right thing done. He has compassion, empathy, and a deep understanding that not all of us have it so good. Those things are critical in a leader.

To Senator Booker, if you read this, I wish you the best of luck in a messy political world. I hope your heart and soul propel you to great things.

Super Tuesday… was it so super?

I have been watching elections with fascination since 1992 when Bill Clinton was elected. I majored in political science because I find it so interesting. But I have to tell you, I have no idea what Super Tuesday ended up meaning.

As far as the Dems are concerned, it seems like the Clinton people are treating this as a major victory. The reality is that the battle isn’t over yet. Clinton doing well in the South isn’t particularly a surprise. She’s Christian, more conservative than Sanders, and she’s from the South(ish). There are places for Sanders to make up some of the delegates. At this point in 2008, Clinton seemed to have the momentum, but we all know how that turned out. Obviously the question of the Superdelegates looms. I would be surprised if they went against the will of the people in the event that Sanders manages to overtake her in delegates.

On the Republican side… well, I just don’t know. Trump won a lot of states, but none with more than 49% and that 49% was in Massachusetts. Cruz winning Texas was no surprise. That’s his “home” state. Rubio won Minnesota, which also makes sense. Rubio isn’t as far right as either Cruz or Trump and Minnesota isn’t a super conservative state.

As a friend has pointed out, Trump has a lot of opposition. He’s average 60% opposition. So, while he’s winning, he’s not really winning. There is plenty of room for Cruz or Rubio to overtake him. But where? According to The Atlantic, Cruz expected to do a bit better in the Southern states. Cruz is calling for others to leave the race, but I’m not entirely sure why. He hasn’t proven to be a much better candidate than the rest of them.

Between now and March 15 there are 15 more primaries or caucuses. Florida and Ohio, both swing states, have their primaries on March 15. That may provide some additional insight. Many expected to have a clearer picture after yesterday, but so far, we’re staring at one big mess.

I’ve seen some friends who aren’t sure who to vote for in the primary/caucus. My advice is to pick who they want to be president, ignoring what the media has to say about who the likely nominees will be. If nothing else, the nominees will have a lot to think about as they go forward into the general election.