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Conscience and Consequences

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)


(Ed. note: when I speak of any group, such as white males or young women and so on, I do not mean ALL of the members of that group, but as a generalization that may or may not be true for any particular individual. Cut me some slack, Literal Lizards.)


The Presidential elections are over. (Along with any down-ticket candidates, as well as state referendums.) I suppose we have to congratulate those who voted for the winner; their voices were many and they were heard. I live in California and we voted for a variety of referendums, but the one that will be most often mentioned is the one for legalizing marijuana. Gods know we’re going to need something to calm us down.

This blog is meant for those who voted for any party besides the Democrats or the Republicans. Let me be the first to congratulate you for “voting your conscience”. I assume that you feel pretty darned pleased with yourselves. I just want to be sure that you understand that I also voted my conscience — and lost.

I am a huge (“YUUGE”) fan of consequences and truly hope that you get to reap yours. They are probably not at all related to that for which you voted. I tried, for the past 2-3 months, to explain why the 3rd party option was not a viable choice. I gave you historical references and scientific explanations. I pointed out that the last candidate to actually win as a 3rd party offering was Abraham Lincoln–and he was bringing the Republicans in as a new political party. (Out went the Whigs, never to be heard from again–so to speak.) I shared with you that I HAD voted 3rd party in 2 elections which both went to the “other” party instead of the most likely. (Ross Perot handed the win to Bill Clinton. Ralph Nader handed the win to GW Bush.)

I also tried to explain how HRC was not the “evil, criminal, corrupt” person that the GOP has been slandering for the past 25 years. The so-called “scandals” were all found to be nothing more than unsubstantiated rumor. If you believed everything bad that was ever written about her, then you also have to agree that she wouldn’t have had the time to do the real work that she did accomplish. I’ve heard that she’s left a trail of bodies, up to 46 of them. Trust me, serial killers do not get away with that sort of funny business these days, with all the new forensic tests–especially DNA. But you believed what you wanted to believe and insisted on saying that “there’s no difference between them” or “she’s just as bad as he is”.

If you want to know what the differences are, check out my earlier blogs. I’m not going to waste my time repeating all the arguments I’ve made before. No, I’m going to share the analysis I have worked on most of this day, to see if the 3rd party votes affected the outcome. Answer: Of course it did. I told you it would. I wasn’t kidding. I did the math; I compared HRC to DJT on a state-by-state basis. I looked at the actual results and then I figured what the results would have been if all of the 3rd party votes went to one or the other. I even figured the results if the 3rd party votes had been evenly split between the candidates. I also figured the changes in the electoral votes for those conditions.

So let me tell you the results. Obviously, if DJT got 1/2 or all of the 3rd party votes, he would have won. If HRC had gotten all of the 3rd party votes, she would have won instead. If she only got 1/2 of those same votes, she would have won enough electoral votes to win the election for all but 2 of the states she had won with all of the 3rd party votes. And if she had only had Gary Johnson’s votes, she would have won. If the winner was chosen by popular vote, HRC would have won. (1)

Don’t ever tell me that 3rd party voting doesn’t affect the elections. I TOLD you it did and you wouldn’t believe me. I don’t care if you believe it or not. You will NEVER tell me that it doesn’t–and didn’t–happen exactly as I said.

Now here we are, with the GOP in complete control of our government. They have the President and Congress. And they WILL fulfill various agendas they have been pushing for years. Let’s talk about some of the things that will change.

First and probably the single most important action will be the replacement of Supreme Court judges. They were content to let the court sit with 8 Justices for Mr. Obama. Don’t be surprised when they start loading that up with Republican, conservative judges who will affect decisions for 30-40 years. (Through about 10 more Presidential elections.) This could very well mean:

1. Reversing the marriage act, thereby NOT allowing LGBTQ people to marry and have the same civil rights as the “one man-one woman” (Christian) marriage

2. Reversing Roe v. Wade and making abortion illegal nationally. Again.

3. Reversing or allowing the reversal of every progressive, inclusive action, such as transgender use of bathrooms, LGBTQ rights to adopt and so on.

4. The addition of Fundamental Protestant (Christian) religion into our government, at all levels. This will affect all of us — if religion has a higher status than the laws, the laws will be ignored and the elected officials will do “what God told (them) to do”. This will cover all topics, but will have special influence on such things as birth control, family planning, IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), surrogacy, miscarriage, and marital rape. It could possibly overturn the individual state’s laws on the right to assisted suicide and marijuana legalization.

(What makes that particular possibility so ridiculous is the complete irony of the “religious” lives of most of the GOP elected officials. DJT has been married 3 times, committed adultery, and has consistently broken laws. Gingrich has also been married 3 times. Christie may be going to jail for crimes (Bridgegate). Palin, who advocates abstinence only as birth control, has an unwed daughter with two children, by two different men. I’m not talking about the normative of “being human”, I’m talking about having laws that will only apply to some people (non-Christians) and don’t have to really be adhered to, if you say that you’re a Christian–never mind your actions.)

5. I do not put it past the Republicans to create laws that essentially replace the Jim Crow laws, forcing the black population once more into a LEGAL second class status.

6. I am fairly certain that we will see more onerous and demeaning legislation for all of women’s rights, particularly for healthcare choices. Women will not see equal pay or equal opportunity during this Presidency.

Which brings me to this astounding statistic: about 42% of women voted AGAINST their own best interest and voted for DJT. (2) That is close enough to being half which makes me wonder just how that many women could really believe he was the best choice. Besides the obvious legal moves (reversal of Roe v. Wade), women can now expect to be sexually assaulted on an even higher rate; it’s just become Presidential to grab pussy. (Who knew?) It’s possible that EOE might disappear, but even if it isn’t overturned, reported incidents may just be ignored because there would be no penalty to not purusing corrective action. We may see an upswing in women being catcalled–with a vocabulary of filthier and nastier words to describe us. DJT has made that all right. And promotions beyond the lowest management levels may cease to exist for women as men feel entitled to disrespect and debase them.

I don’t know if those things will happen, but they do seem possible now in a way that they haven’t since…oh, about 1975?

Among the others who stand to lose from a DJT Presidency, about 12% of the electorate were the black voters, a drop from the elections in 2012; 8% of that number voted for him. Latinos as a group did not grow as much as predicted from 2012, being only 11% of the electorate; out of that number, 29% voted for him–even though he has promised to “build a wall” (and have Mexico pay for it) and “deport all the illegal immigrants”. (3) Even the Asians produced 29% of the votes for him.(4)

I can understand the white males voting for him; he will be their savior from “giving up rights” to the others who are not white males. But why on Earth would anyone vote FOR someone who has promised to make their lives miserable? The Muslims in this country are now worrying about becoming the Jews in our version of Hitler’s facist government. And even if DJT wants to “send them all back”, where, really, would they go? Is it ethical to return civilians to a war zone? Possibly. Is it the right thing to do, is it the moral thing? Absolutely NOT. But we know that That Man doesn’t have normal morals.

Let’s talk about what could be some consequences with that lack of a moral compass or any altruistic traits he might have and how they could then affect all of the country:

1. The FBI investigation into Comey’s behavior with his announcement last week? Probably will not even happen.

2. As President, DJT is now protected from criminal charges, at least for the next 4 years. That is one hell of a stalling tactic to prevent jail time for RICO violations and raping a child, if he were found guilty of them.

3. Federal agencies designed to keep us safe and the environment clean may very well be removed. No more OSHA, no more EPA.

4. Rumor has it that he will select Sarah Palin for Secretary of the Interior. You know, the person who is responsible for land management, national parks, and such. She could do such things as allow unlimited hunting (from helicopters); destruction and subsequent commercialization of our national parks. This is an action that if done, is completely devestating and irreparable. There would be no going back. She could also authorize pipelines and fracking. Resources extracted, leaving severe, perhaps unfixable, environmental damage, as well as spiritual (Standing Rock camp and the Dakota pipeline).
Yet another action with permanent consequences and no possible way to make it right again.

5. With both a Republican President as well as a Republican Congress, you can expect the GOP and the Koch Brothers/Robert Mercer/Heritage Foundation and etc, to push through laws that meet their ongoing agendas. Look at any GOP candidate’s platform specifically for the past 8 years, but also the past 20, even 30 years.

But there are some other (possible) consequences that will be hallmarks of DJT’s Presidency: he has made it acceptable to say “Nigger” again. He encourages violence against those who disagree (with you). Women are to be objectified, nothing more than breeders and trophies, beyond even the current levels of misogyny. He has set the stage to have several “sets” of citizens: the white men, white privilege, white “superiority”, white SUPREMACY, as the first class, all rights, no worries subset. Then will come, in varying degress of second class status, the women, the blacks, the Latinos, the immigrants, the Muslims…anyone who is NOT a white male.

The whole world has watched this election and the results with growing horror. As I have heard said, “We have embarassed ourselves in front of the world.”. While I agree with that at one level, I don’t agree completely.

There is NOTHING new in this “embarrassment”. It’s not a momentary faux pas, to be quickly passed over and a fresh round of drinks for everyone. What we are seeing now: racism, misogyny, xenophobia, and bullying, are all parts of who we are AND have always been. I would suggest that DJT appeals to so many precisely because he’s not afraid to be the ultimate example of all that is wrong between humans. You have heard me say before that he is a Narcissistic Sociopath–he also encourages the Narcissistic Socipath’s way of thinking and decision making processes. And this occurs even in people who are neither Narcissists nor Sociopaths on their own. We should thank him for showing us the real face, the real collective personality, of our nation.

There are still people alive who remember the violence and fury of the Civil Rights era. There are still people alive who remember the corruption of our government by Richard Nixon, the wars we never called “war” but fought in, the “war on drugs” which was the excuse for the minimalizing the effects of blacks and “hippies”.  Our whole damned history, from day one, has been nothing BUT divisions, unrest and outright rebellion against inequality–and the often violent response to quash those rebellions. We have always had a first class and a second class–and sometimes that second class was a legal reality, not just a social one.

This country was founded by rich, land-owning, educated white males. The Declaration of Indepence and the Constitution were written by rich, land-owning, educated white males. The first government was a selection of rich, land-owning, educated white males. The entire framework and processes for that government were put in place by rich, land-owning, educated white males. Of course they set it up to benefit themselves!

With this election, we have returned to 1776 overnight. As DJT selects his cabinet, his words to his supporters just 3 days ago have already been proven…”not so” true. Far from “drain(ing) the swamp”, he has gone straight to K Street for appointees.(5) (For those not familiar with DC, K street is where all the lobbyists have their offices.)

Welcome to the oligarchy,with a definite theocratic air–but money over God, every time. Except for Michael Pence, whose own definition of “who he is” begins with Christian. Before Conservative, before Republican, the other terms in that chain.

I offer you the fantasy of Pence, as VP and Trump’s foreign policy handler, going to Saudi Arabia and trying to convert them before talking about mutual trade agreements. (Or borrowing money from them.)

Yes, children, the money, the money, the money will ALWAYS come first. Remember, Trump is a businessman! It’s ALL about the Benjamins. And with corporate lobbyists in cabinet positions, the corporations have won open control of our government. As has been pointed out to me, the last time Republicans held control of all three parts of government, we had this little party, known as the “Great Depression”. (Great for the rich; Depression for the rest of us.) I see no reason to not anticipate a repeat. After all, the economy will almost assuredly tank.

When I speak of “the economy”, I am NOT talking about Wall Street with their pretend (electronic) money and profit margins. (That’s another blog, for another day.) I am speaking of the real economy, the one that affects you and me. The economy of working 2 or 3 jobs to have a bare subsistence. The economy of having to choose between buying diapers for the baby or feeding the rest of the family. The economy of the middle class finally disappearing in a mountain of debt and over-extended credit cards. As I tell people, if your business model is “Buy one, Get one”, it means two things: your original prices were set way too high, and (surprise!) no one is buying things. Why not? Because they can’t bloody afford it, you git.

In 2013, 47% of our nation lived one major catastrophe from poverty.(6) Things have improved over the past three years: “In 2015, there were 43.1 million people in poverty, 3.5 million less than in 2014.”(7) Keep in mind that those two numbers are for people who are IN poverty, not just scraping by and barely beyond poverty themselves. Recent statistics for those who are in poverty put it at 13.5%, or 43.1 million people. The ones who are living on that danger line are another 31.7% (100.9 million people). So the two groups together come to 44.8%, or 144 million people.

The country as a whole has 324,968,153 citizens as of Friday, November 11, 2016.(8) That means 44% of our fellow Americans STILL have a poor (literally) standard of living. That’s almost half. A better way to imagine millions in a more personal way is to look at a line of people. It doesn’t matter how many are in the line; our brains can really only hold onto the personal knowledge of about 150 people. More than that and it’s no longer a personal concern to you. Looking at your line, you can figure that every other person is living either at poverty level ($24,250) or “twice the poverty level” ($48,500).(8) Those dollar amounts are for a family of four, two adults with two children and the data is from 2015.

Let’s put those numbers into an even easier way to handle the concepts they represent. Poverty level means that a family of 4 is living on roughly $2000/month, or about $400/week. “Twice the poverty level” (meaning the poor who are not considered to be “in poverty”) means that the same family of four is living on $4000/month, or $1000/week. The MEDIAN income, meaning the average from the highest and the lowest households is $55,775 or about $4770/month, or $1143/week.

There is not much of a margin between the median income and “twice poverty level”. $143 is all that separates the two. I believe we will see the income go down and the number of families on the edge go up in the months ahead. Incidentally, you would need an income of over $87,000 to have exactly the same standard of living (on the edge) in Washington, DC. Or perhaps this will make it easier to imagine: in 2016, “Children were food insecure at times during the year in 7.8 percent of U.S. households with children (3.0 million households), down significantly from 9.4 percent in 2014.”(9)

That is over 13 MILLION children who go to bed hungry regularly. HERE, in America, “Land of Plenty”. My ass.

That’s just one item that will have changes (for bad, or if we’re lucky, for good); I am not going to enter into a discussion about how the USA’s new President and his Congress might have a negative influence for the rest of the world. Although I do want to mention that if we really back out of the climate change agreements, so will everyone else. There goes the planet. If the oceans continue to warm up, all life within them will die. (Except for those weird things that live on the volcanic vents, down in the Stygian depths.)

There is a lot of fear in our nation now; those who did not vote for Him are now anxious about what this Presidency will mean. We know what he’s said he will do; now we are concerned that he will, in fact, actually do those things. You know: build a wall on our southern border; deport the immigrants, walk away from NAFTA and NATO, and et cetera.

Those are the obvious fears. This election brought out ALL of the cockroaches (so to speak). It has shone a light on how deeply racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and xenophobic far too many of our citizens truly are. These are entrenched world views, based on upbringing, tradition, and misinformation; they really all boil down to this: HATE. I even have to add religious beliefs to that hate because so many people believe that God told them it was just fine to have this hate for others who are different. My greatest fear, and deepest sorrow, is that we will never be able to get past the hate, that we will always be “us against them”, with various names put into that equation.

Will we ever have a truly UNITED States of America?

I seriously doubt it. That’s a consequence I’d rather not have to live with.


Sources:
1. Excel worksheet by author, available upon request.
2. CNN Elections Results
3. CNN Politics
4. USA Today Demographics
5. Cabinet Selections (CNN)
6. Poverty Statistics 2013 (Salon)
7. Census Statistics on Poverty 2016 (US Census)
8. Basic Statistics (From Talk Poverty)
9. Hunger in America (From the World Hunger Organization)
10. Cost of Living (Career Trends)

unCivil War 2016

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)


From Newsweek:
Right-Wing Extremists Are a Bigger Threat to America Than ISIS
By Kurt Eichenwald, in the 2-12-16 issue

Before we start, I would like to point out that the author, Kurt Eichenwald, is an epileptic and the journalist who was targeted by extremists and sent a video specifically designed to trigger an epileptic seizure. In other words, someone tried to hurt him via e-mail with the technical equivalent of anthrax. (Seizures can kill. From the CDC: Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy ) He also receives hate mail attacking him, his family and their home, as well as the fact that he is Jewish. He refuses to stop writing and has chosen to keep on educating us about the problems as he sees them.

Onward.

I am writing this with only 3 weeks left to the election and believe me, I’m counting the days down. I am actively avoiding political news–I don’t seek it out and if it shows up on my timeline, I may read it but I am no longer making minor wall o’texts explaining my view about whatever new atrocity comes out of the GOP camp. I want to be informed, not inflamed. So when the link above showed up, I read it but without any real surprise. It just confirmed my thoughts about the subject.

If you don’t want to click on the link, let me give you the short story: “…the right-wing militants who, since 2002, have killed more people in the United States than jihadis have. In that time, according to New America, a Washington think tank, Islamists launched nine attacks that murdered 45, while the right-wing extremists struck 18 times, leaving 48 dead.” This does not include Timothy McVeigh, also an anti-government extremist, whose attack in 1995 killed 168 people.

Also from the article: ” These Americans thrive on hate and conspiracy theories, many fed to them by politicians and commentators who blithely blather about government concentration camps and impending martial law and plans to seize guns and other dystopian gibberish, apparently unaware there are people listening who don’t know it’s all lies. These extremists turn to violence—against minorities, non-Christians, abortion providers, government officials—in what they believe is a fight to save America. And that potential for violence is escalating every day.”

I am NOT going to try to list all of the times that Donald Trump has lied to his supporters and actively encouraged them to take up arms and fight against the government. The term is “sedition” and I believe that he will be the main reason if the “deplorables”, to borrow a term, do mount an armed insurrection. If he loses, as it appears he might, he would not care about bringing down the Federal government in order to assuage his anger and regain “face”. (The Chinese term for pride or appearance of power.) Narcissists are like that. He is a perfect textbook example–and in fact, some psychology/psychiatry professors are using him to explain Narcissism to their students.

There are places that will provide you with that list of his words. Keith Olbermann (The Closer, on GQ online) talked about more than 170 of them, several weeks ago. I’m sure there’s at least 10 more now. Trump is feeding his supporters exactly the kinds of things they want to hear: the government is essentially crooked, the election is rigged (for HRC, not for him, of course), they will have to give away their rights to “those others”–blacks, LGBTQ, uppity women. They are “what will make America great again”, ignoring the facts that we are actually still pretty great. We are not at the edge of some dystopian apocalypse, there are still jobs to be had, and if the government is that crooked…well, that’s another blog. And Trump’s new campaign strategy is specifically to suppress voting. Excuse me, I need a moment to put my brain back on its track. A candidate, for the highest office in our land, is actually trying to keep people from voting. His suggestion that the election is rigged is particularly heinous and strikes at the very heart of “government by the people”. Our voting system is actually very free of fraud, as shown in this:
ufo_voter

So there were 3600 TIMES more UFO sightings and almost 34 times more deaths by lightning than there was voter fraud. Thirteen credible cases of voter fraud in 649 MILLION votes cast. I think it’s a fair conclusion to say that voter fraud is NOT a “thing” in our elections. We do not need to fear that our elections are “rigged” within the voting population. Is there some “rigging” elsewhere? I’d say yes, such as gerrymandering our districts to increase the votes for their candidates. (For a detailed analysis, see Princeton author Sam Wang in his 2012 paper) I’d also agree that there was rigging with the whole “hanging chad” issue in the 2000 Presidential race–and not in the ballot forms themselves, but in the recount. (And if not rigging, then some serious finagling.)

So here we are, fall of 2016, in the midst of one of the most incredible, most disgusting races for President that I think our country has ever seen. I still can’t decide if we should decry the Republican candidate for his racist, homophobic, misogynist, and other disenfranchising, dehumanizing views, or thank him for showing us just how much of our country still clings to those ideas. The cockroaches have had a flashlight shown on them, as it were.

This isn’t a new group, this isn’t a modern uprising.

From the long view, standing back and looking not only at today and the near future, but also back to the origins of our country, it seems pretty clear that those who would try to overthrow our Government have tried at least twice before–with the War between the States (Civil War–what an effing misnomer; was is never civil–The War of “Northern Aggression”, whatever) AND the refusal to sign the Declaration of Independence unless slavery was kept in. They may not live in the “Deep South” any more, but the mindset is the same.

What is one of our greatest strengths is also a bit of a problem child–we have extreme diversity, and part of our diversity were the extremists of another country. Remember, GA began as a penal colony. Religious persecution, lack of opportunities (for jobs or for living), famines, and the poor fleeing–or serving as indentured servants–onerous debt laws are just some of the reasons we had immigrants to our shores. They came from every walk of life, for every reason, to the New Land. And America gave this promise, found at the bottom of our Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

We ARE the “wretched refuse”. As Bill Murray says in the movie “Stripes”, we’ve been kicked out of every country in Europe. And some of the very characteristics that kept us alive and helped us succeed are the ones in play now, albeit in extremis. The idea that one can be whatever is possible, that the opportunities are plenty, that we have a say in our government to the point where the government answers to the people. (Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work. Don’t blame me if it doesn’t.)

So we have this group of people, people whose ancestors argued about how the new country was going to run…who waited a mere 90 years before trying to create their own country where they could keep their status quo, which included the denial of basic human rights to an entire portion of their population. We now have generations of people who are so blindly proud of a vile heritage, one that they actually take pride in…and who truly believe that they are somehow outside of the Federal system.

Most of them don’t even really understand what they are longing for…for every grand plantation the South can show off, there were many, many more small farms, with the white “massa” working right alongside of his one slave because working together was the only way to make a living for all of them. A return to the days of plantations and Simon Legree is not possible because it was never real. It’s just an ugly fairy tale. And it was a fairy tale even in the days it existed.

The only people who lived that idyllic life were white men of property and education. It does appear that modern white males are the ones pushing to return to the days of owning slaves, sipping mint juleps on the porch, those days when they were the unchallenged dominant–and dominating–force. Those days when their word was the first and last law on their own lands, and when it came time to vote on government at every level, theirs was the only voice that spoke.

Acknowledging this highly idealized view of the “glorious South” — even for those who are from the Midwest states — we also have to add the realities of their situations. Many of them are poor, un- or under-educated; the farmers who count on the soil — and Federal Grants to help them, because farming is not answerable to laws, only to Nature — are being bought out by Big Agra. Where there used to be many farms, growing a variety of things, we now have millions of acre of corn.

There are quite a few members of this group who rely on the government’s social services, either as food stamps, disability benefits or welfare. They apparently see no irony in wanting to bring down the very system that sustains them — and perhaps anger at having to rely on the government, the faceless, impersonal government, is a reason why they are ready for things to change.

However.

I understand there are many reasons why someone would become a right-wing extremist. To our collective shame, there seems to be only one major reason: to prevent the equal rights for anyone who is not white, and preferably a white male. They seem to feel that “equal rights” are a “zero sum” contest, where one person wins and the other loses. All, or nothing at all. This is simply NOT true. The white (men) will not lose any rights they have had. They will not become the new “blacks” or any other group that has been denied rights. But the united power of white domination will be diluted to a point where they will no longer dictate policy and make laws that favor only them. When they scream about losing rights, what they are really doing is have a temper tantrum that they can’t automatically win and by playing only their previously rigged game.

It is not right, in any society as homogeneous as our is, for any one group to have the majority of power over the rest of the population–and at every level, not just within the government. We were established as a democracy, with the government for, by and of the people. The people were explicitly given the power to make sure that the government kept this covenant with them. If it didn’t, it was their duty, as the people, to change the government. This meant even to the point of removing the entire government and establishing a totally new government which would then answer to the people. But “the people” in that context means the entire population–again, not just one small group of disgruntled citizens. And the warning was also given that it was better to deal with a government that had some problems but was salvageable,rather than chucking the whole thing out to possibly end up with something worse.

Maybe our Federal government has failed the folks who are now getting more and more extreme in their responses. We’re seeing very public showing of “thumbing the nose at the Feds”, with the stand-off at the Bundy Ranch and the illegal occupation of Malheur Wildlife Refuge. We’re having more and more bombings and killings perpetrated by those who do identify with the right-wing, who are trying to “take America back”. The kettle is already at a boil. If the election results are not what they want, chances are good that the lid will blow off and people will die.

I cannot imagine being President and having to call the military to subdue your own population. We’re Americans. We don’t do things like that. Using the military to subdue the civilians is the tactic of dictators and “President for Life” leaders. Even in our own Civil War, the war was fought between the soldiers for each side. And when General Sherman “Marched to the Sea”, he did not kill civilians as he decimated their homes and land. All he took was their ability to wage war but not their lives. Considering the predominance of fundamental Christianity and its attendant mindset within the military, they might not fight against the revolution but join with them.

Oh yes. Fundamental Christianity. I will try to keep this part brief. Having come from a family that prides itself on its Southern heritage, I have the background to make some observations.

Many, if not most, fundamental religions, Christianity included, have a very strict hierarchy, whereby the Bible and perhaps God Himself speak to the pastor, who then interprets the message to the congregation. This creates an atmosphere of simply accepting what you are told, no questions allowed unless they are the “right” questions, along the lines of “How do I get to serve?”. Many of the fundamental Christians are hereditary members, with 2 or more generations attending services together, and for all their lives. I personally attended church with my parents and my grandparents for many years.

Having been introduced to absolute obedience from a very young age, with a family tradition of “Father Knows Best” and he only defers to the pastor, who only defers to God…means that there is a population of what we call “sheeple”–those who blindly follow without understanding why they do so. “Being Saved” is never a choice but an inevitable ritual in the life of the a child within the fundamental church. They are people who need to be told what to do, who need to be led by a father figure to the Promised Land, whatever their concept of that may be.

The male dominance of their lives would explain why so many of them cannot, let alone will not, vote for a woman in the Supreme Top Job. They simply cannot fathom it. It’s a concept outside of their ken. So when a man stands up and says that the woman running for that office is evil, a liar, corrupt–they are more than ready to believe it, all the way to their toes. And of course “she” would try to rig the election; after all, Eve tempted Adam with the apple and led him into sin. <sarcasm font>Women are by nature devious creatures and need to be kept in line by the men who own them. I mean, by their fathers and then their husbands.<end sarcasm font>

There’s also the infamous injunction from Paul the Apostle which says that “women are not to be over men” and “they are to remain silent in the (church)”. Which begs the question: how many of the women who are involved in right-wing extremism really understand what they are protesting against? Do they really choose it, or do they just accept the Word of Man?

I do not understand how anyone can hate, can choose to hate, any one else, let alone an entire subsection of our population–or multiple subsections. Even with the despair of poverty, the hopelessness of employment beyond a certain level (based on personal skills and education), I do not understand how violence becomes the answer–and apparently without too much consideration of any other form of change. I do not understand these things, but I can see how they might drive someone to use any means to change their situation. So who’s fault is it that we have this portion of our citizens at a point where they believe that violence is the solution? How do we reach out to them and try to offer alternatives? Can we even reach out–it’s almost impossible to change the mind of someone who KNOWS their version of the truth to be The Truth, no questions asked.

As with any problem that deals with people, there are no simple answers. But it does seem very possible that we will have more extremists, not less, if the election goes to HRC. And for that, we can blame the Republican candidate with his propaganda and inciting statements and lies.

We need to prepare for the revolution, because the right-wing extremists certainly are.

 

 

 

Sense and Sensibility With Regards to the 3rd Party Option

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)


Jim Wright (here) opens for me with this posting:

Folks, I’ve gone out of my way to be respectful of your views.

But if you are now sending me angry messages about Jill Stein and Gary Johnson, then I must speak bluntly to you.

Neither Johnson nor Stein are going to be president. Ever. Never ever. Get used to that idea.

Neither should be president.

Neither Stein nor Johnson is in any way qualified, both are less qualified than Trump, and their party platforms are goddamned ridiculous fantasies. Dangerous fantasies in some cases that are fantastically ignorant of how the world actually works.

Now look, I’m NOT saying that the idealism of the Libertarian or Green Party platforms is not in some cases admirable. Nor am I saying that those ideas aren’t something we should work towards, some of them anyway.

But we are now out of time.

Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, one of them, is going to be the next president. This is simple fact and if you can’t wrap your head around that, distasteful as that may be for you, then you’re in the wrong place.

We are out of time and you must now face it.

You want to call it voting for the lesser of evils? Fine. I think that colors your thinking, but if that’s what you want to call the situation then fine by me. Here’s the thing about evil: if you have the opportunity to make the world less evil and you don’t take it because you just can’t get your hands dirty, because for you it’s all or nothing, then you’re the problem. Society, humanity, civilization, doesn’t work that way and never has.

Now, if you write to tell me it doesn’t matter, that your state is all tied up one way or the other and so YOU can vote however you like and it doesn’t matter, but swing state voters of course must vote for Clinton so YOU don’t end up with Trump and you can’t see what a fucking selfish asshole you’re being, then I am very likely to speak rudely to you as I have now reached the limit of my patience with this nonsense.

Yes, I am very much aware that I will right now lose readers over this post. So be it. I’ve pulled my punches on this subject long enough and we are now out of time.

We are out of time.

Clinton or Trump. These are the choices.

Face it.


From De-fund the Komen Foundation:

I think our piece about third parties should have included the mention of a presumption of progressive desires. If you are a true progressive and you do anything that assists Donald Trump in going to the White House, you are really not a true progressive.

Yes, that means if you do not vote for Hillary Clinton.

Actually, it did say that. It mentioned the Supreme Court. And still there are those who will dig their heels in the sand and insist that they have the best interests of the country at heart, but are too stubborn to vote for one of the two people who have a mathematical chance of winning.

Neither Jill Stein nor Gary Johnson has a mathematical chance of winning.

So pardon us if we don’t believe that you are true progressives. Electing leaders can be a strategic practice at times. A Clinton administration will not kill the country. That’s four years. Eight if she does OK. The 49ers’ losing streak is longer than that.

A Trump administration could be the most devastating event the United States of America has ever faced. Well beyond its time, it could seat three or four hostile Supreme Court justices and lead to a slew of catastrophic rulings that set events in horrible motion for three decades.

Donald Trump is not your Joe Average Republican. He is not just objectionable with respect to policies. He is a monstrous human being with virtually no knowledge of how government systems work. He has zero boundaries. His potential for damaging international relationships is frightening. His idea of resolving personal issues is staying up all night and drunk-tweeting female reporters. He is wholly unfit.

This is not a difficult choice. And your “ethics” are a personal luxury for you that could be life-changing in a very negative way for others.

So again, please vote as you wish. But don’t expect anyone to believe that you are voting with a sound progressive conscience. Part of being an adult is understanding that your options may be unfavorable and distasteful to you, but because your actions have consequences for others, you choose the option with the lowest potential for disaster.

If you have followed our page for the nearly five years we’ve been operating, you will know that our main focus is women’s reproductive justice. Abortion rights are hanging by a thread in 2016. The thought of anyone who claims to share our values actually refusing to vote for the Democratic nominee is infuriating and unfathomable.


Ok, 3rd Party option voters, let me try to mansplain something to you. (“Mansplain” seems to hold more power than “explain” for some reason.) Let me try to explain just how your voting for the 3rd party candidate can cause the loss for Hillary and ENSURE that DTNS (Donald Trump, Narcissistic Sociopath) will be our next President.

I have attempted, in other forums, to make sense of our political circus and how the contest is between Donald Trump (hereafter referred to as “DTNS”, or (Donald Trump, Narcissistic Sociopath) and Hillary Clinton (HRC). I hear the reasons for wanting to vote for the 3rd (or 4th, or 5th) party. As they say, I *get* it.

(More on 3rd party candidates and the results)

And from Bill Moyers:
“Abraham Lincoln — who ran as a Republican during the era of Whigs and Democrats — was America’s last third-party candidate to successfully win the presidency. Although the two-party system leaves third-party candidates little hope of being elected into office, such candidates have continued to run — and by doing so, have sometimes influenced the outcome of elections and shifted the national conversation.” (And the party that Lincoln brought into being was the Republicans, which of course became one of our two main political parties.)

So that means it has been 156 years since the 3rd party candidate has actually won the election. But plenty of them have influenced the outcome by drawing a sufficient amount of votes away from one candidate that the other wins. I am not at all willing to suggest that “this is the year” for the 3rd parties because there is too much at stake. Let’s be very clear on this: I personally HAVE voted for the 3rd party option, not once but twice in the past 20 years. I voted for Perot and we got Clinton. I voted for Nader and we got Bush43. I have seen the historical results played out.

The 3rd party option is a noble cause–however, it is a pipe dream that can end our government by splitting the vote and letting DTNS win. I understand the reasons why the 3rd party option people are so set on their candidate. Hell, I even agree with some of it. BUT we’re not talking about the situation wherein someone not in either major political party could end up leading the country. We’re talking about a group of people who do not seem to understand how our government processes actually work in real life.

I completely respect your right to vote for whomever you choose. However. It seems like a lot of you are living in some other country than I am, some place where the not known, not campaigned, not in the public eye person truly stands a chance to become President. I’ll be honest: I’m not sure I want the current choice of 3rd (through 14th, or however many “other” parties there are) candidate simply because I know NOTHING about them. I have no idea where they truly stand on the nitty gritty details of running a government. Wanting a cleaner, safer world? We all want that. Wanting a change in how our government works? We get that about every 4 years, maybe 8. Not all of your candidates have any political experience. Showing up at the polls every 4 years thinking you have a chance to be President is naive, at best.

If the 3rd party folks are so enthused about their candidate/s, why aren’t they out there, raising money, putting out information, having their guy/s on national news shows, giving interviews, and all the other circus acts that go into the elections, at least 2 YEARS before the election they want to run in? It’s a given that if you want to be elected to the highest office in our land, the people need to know your name and what you’re about. It feels to me like the 3rd party option is a secret club, where they know what will fix the country…but no one else knows about it. And then the candidate/s are popped out of a box just a couple of months before the polling date and we’re expected to consider them viable alternatives.

We are not at a time where voting “our conscience” for the 3rd party is going to do a damned thing–the 3rd party candidate/s will lose and the votes that could have gone to sanity and competence will be lost to the walking joke of the Republican candidate. Please don’t argue with me about the “will lose”–history has proven, time and again, that the 3rd party option is a fallacy. The 3rd party candidates may run, but the only result is changing the government without getting their candidate in office.

Part of the issue is not the count of the popular vote but with the way the electoral college works. DC and 48 states have a “winner take all” rule for their electoral college. In these states, whichever candidate receives a majority of the popular vote, or a plurality of the popular vote (less than 50% but more than any other candidate), takes all of the state’s Electoral votes. So the 3rd party option will remain a fallacy until the parties beyond Democrat and Republican actually get out there, get on the down ticket elections, gain some obvious political experience and then actively campaign AGAINST the Dems and Reps during the campaign season. They need to establish themselves as well-known as any other candidate, and do so long before voting day.

In the meantime, I personally cannot, WILL not, put my bets on the 3rd party this time around. This race is not about “not voting for (even) the lesser of the two evils” — as a nation, we have far too many variables that might suffer as a result of this election, depending on who wins. This election cycle is not just about printing up new White House stationery with the winner’s initials. It is about how our nation will exist under either of the candidates. And to be able to choose our President, we need to understand the possible outcomes. I tend to make my decisions based on consequences: if I do A, then B,C, and D will follow; if I do Z, then W, X, and Y will follow. Which set of consequences do I want?

Ergo, based on what we have seen from both candidates for the past 6 months and especially after the debates, we can make some intelligent hypotheses for what could occur for either of them if elected. It is important to note that nearly all of the scandals and bad press surrounding HRC is from a well-crafted cottage industry that has been trying for almost 30 years to find something, anything, that would stop her from continuing to “seek power” (a man in that position would be called “ambitious”). Here is what the Wikipedia says about HRC; it’s long, detailed and while I know that it is written by us (anyone can edit or add to an entry), I felt that it was reasonably fair and seems to be the facts. Feel free to search for scandals on her — she’s had the murmur of them, but after unbelievable amounts of hearings and inquiry, there is proven to be nothing more than normal human mistakes (like the classified emails she sent; she received them without the REQUIRED notification in the subject line that marked them as classified). She has made mistakes, but unless you have never made one, you cannot judge her for being human.


From an essay by Caroline McCain, John McCain’s granddaughter: “And I started to realize that for some, “voting your conscience” has become a euphemism for protecting your own self-interest. An exercise in privilege.

If I’ve heard anything from my friends who are gay, my friends who are black, my friends whose rights have been pushed against and infringed upon while mine have been neatly protected, it is this: there is a real fear that a “vote your conscience” movement could siphon #NeverTrump votes away from Hillary, and in a cruel turn of events, a nation’s conscience is sacrificed to elect a clown.”


We are talking about “An exercise in privilege” that many, many people do not have–and those people are the very ones who will be discriminated against, vilified, pushed into second class citizenship if DTNS wins the election. Please consider that voting “for her” is  not a “hold my nose” vote, but as an honest move to help protect those people YOU KNOW; your gay friends, your black friends, your immigrant friends, your disabled friends, your female friends: wife, mother, daughter, granddaughter, aunt, niece, grandmother…


From Bruce Tenenbaum:
I keep hearing that this election is about choosing the lesser of two evils. Not to me it isn’t. To me this election is about this – there is only one candidate qualified to be the president of the United States, one candidate with the experience, skills and policies to lead this nation. The rest are freaking clowns.

Now, before we look at the clowns, let’s look at the one candidate who has actually made a positive difference in the lives of Americans. As First Lady, Hillary Clinton helped the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the largest expansion of taxpayer-funded health insurance in three decades, become law. As a Senator, she was a key architect of the $21 billion federal aid bill that helped rebuild New York after 9/11. And she is well remembered for the health bill that served first responders in the first 48 hours after the attack, fighting the EPA to admit the air wasn’t safe to breathe. She also helped put the Lilly Ledbetter Pay Equity Act into law and authored the Pediatric Research Equity Act.

As Secretary of State she negotiated ceasefires in Israel, set a record by traveling to 112 nations, advocating for human rights, development, and equality, helped bring down Osama Bin Laden, got the EU, Russia, China and other world powers to participate in the crippling sanctions on Iran that forced the country to negotiate its nuclear plan out of existence and became a symbol of women’s rights and women’s progress everywhere.

What’s her competition? Clown #1, Donald Trump, is a racist, sexist, xenophobic, know nothing, loudmouth with no experience, who lies 75% of the time, can’t talk in depth on any issue, says creepy sexual things about his own daughter and has never done anything to help anyone but himself. After 9/11 he bragged that his building was now the tallest in New York and he bragged about how the housing collapse in 2008, that destroyed American lives, was an opportunity for him to make money.

If you call yourself a liberal or a progressive and you think voting for clown #2, Gary Johnson, is a viable choice, you haven’t looked at the issues. Look at them, there they are below. Besides being wrong on almost everything, in recent interviews, Johnson had no idea where the center of the Syrian civil war was and could not name a single foreign leader. Previously, he justified not spending much money on fighting climate change because “in billions of years, the sun is going to actually grow and encompass the Earth…So global warming is in our future.”

Lastly, there’s Clown #3, Jill Stein, the perennial candidate who is always running but never getting elected to public office, would have no idea how to get anything done once in office and would have no help in Congress to get any of her policies made into law. She has no chance of doing anything but siphoning votes from the one liberal who CAN make a difference, Hillary Clinton. A vote for Jill Stein can only help Donald Trump get elected. Unless you’re a right wing racist, sexist, xenophobic, climate change denier who is opposed to lessening the burden on students, providing health care to all and raising minimum wage, a vote for Jill Stein is a vote against everything you believe in.

I am posting this on Throw Back Thursday because it is my firm conviction, that a vote for anyone other than Hillary Clinton will throw back the clock more than three decades, to the Nixon-Reagan era when appointments by those men began to push the Supreme Court conservative, leaving the era of Miranda Rights, Voting Rights and Women’s Reproductive Rights and taking us into an era where the Court blocked gun control, stripped Civil Rights legislation and told us corporations have the right to influence our elections.

So, look at the positions of all the candidates below and make a sensible choice this November. Only one candidate can make a positive difference in our lives. Only one can push the Supreme Court in the right direction, reverse some of the terrible decisions of the last 30 years and protect the good decisions like Roe V. Wade from a conservative assault that would almost definitely happen under Donald Trump.

Thanks to Mike Ross for his help with the chart below.

candidatepositions

(I apologize that it’s not clear; you can right click on the image and it will open large enough to read in another tab. It is also available here.)


This chart is the side-by-side view of the top three candidates, based on polling. (Jill Stein doesn’t have enough support to be a viable candidate.) And for those liberals who think that Gary Johnson is the best candidate, please read this very carefully. Once you get past “pot for everyone, let the gays marry and abortions are okay”, you’re looking at a platform that very closely mirrors David Koch’s 1980 platform when he ran for VP. What does he think of climate change? Find out here.

Be sure to note where Gary Johnson thinks that Citizens United should stay active–he is being funded by the Koch Brothers and their ilk. Remember, he was a Republican governor. I’m not saying that he’s some sort of election counter-agent. But it is just a little too much of a coincidence that the majority of his platform is the Republican line, opposing anything that helps the people and lowering tax rates for the rich, to include getting corporation taxes down to zero. Most of the corporations are already getting tax credits back. Imagine what would happen if they were having to pay no tax at all–that extra money would NOT be shared beyond the boardroom, trust me.

Let’s look at the Green Party platform: “Committed to environmentalism, non-violence, social justice and grassroots organizing, Greens are renewing democracy without the support of corporate donors.

You do realize, don’t you, that DTNS doesn’t believe in climate change (he thinks it’s something China is doing to us); he has not only proven he believes in the violent means of retaliation for just about anything, he has actively encouraged his followers to violence against those who speak out against him. He has ZERO concept of social justice (so fuck everyone who is not a corporate white male). He is a Narcissistic Sociopath, which means that he is the center of his Universe and no one, NO ONE, can criticize or challenge him without immediate and extreme, often verbally abusive, reaction. His response to the DNC? “I wanted to hit them”, repeated in several different ways. Violence is his answer to anything he doesn’t like. And if he doesn’t like it, it needs to go away. Like immigrants, foreign allies, Democrats, uppity women and anyone else who won’t bow down to him. Add to that his choice of VP, who, as DTNS says, will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the Presidency as well as our foreign policy. Google Michael Pence and see what he has voted for, what he has voted against, and what kind of influence he has had over Indiana and their laws. Now imagine that on a national level. Makes me shudder.

If DTNS wins, everything you stand for will be shat upon and trampled by his “Brown Shirts”, aka his campaign team and Brute Squad–and his followers. Is THIS worth risking to “vote your conscience”? Can you afford to risk splitting the vote sufficiently to lead directly to his Presidency? Are you prepared for a country that will become everything we have tried to eradicate? I’m not fear-mongering, I’m telling you this based on everything we’ve heard out of DTNS’ pie hole.

This election has reached the point where instead of just blindly screaming your candidate’s name, you need to look at the CONSEQUENCES of their election and look at it closely. Who truly has the best possible outcome for all of our citizens if elected?

It’s time to set aside “conscience”, or as the more accurate term, “privilege”. If your life isn’t going to change regardless of which candidate becomes president, good for you. But there are millions of Americans, predominately those who do not have a fleet of lawyers or a gold toilet, who will suffer greatly–and not just in a sad moaning that their guy didn’t win. We’re talking those who are the least able to take care of themselves, who need the help from social services, from fair labor policies, not “Right to Work”. These are people who count on public education, having a good infrastructure–roads, mass transit, etc. These are people who need to have healthcare that will not pauperize them.

And as I’ve said elsewhere: on November 9, start the campaigning and organizing your 3rd (4th, 5th, whatever; there are 43 registered political parties in the US) party option, from the town dogcatcher all the way up to the White House. Get your candidates political experience; release ads explaining who they are and what they stand for; campaign as assiduously as the Democrats and Republicans. Find yourself a reliable source of donations. I understand not accepting any corporate money, but you’ve got to get a lot of money from somewhere to mount a viable campaign with a candidate who truly stands as good a chance to win as either the Democratic or the Republican candidates.


For those of you who think that DTNS and HRC are two of a kind, please read this:

From Mark Amore:

Listen, I’m not going to change your mind and you’re not going to change mine.

If Hillary’s emails bother you but the 22 million deleted emails during the Bush/Cheney administration – also on a private server – don’t, I can’t argue with that.

http://www.pbs.org/…/w…/web-video/missing-white-house-emails

If Benghazi bothers you, and the 13 embassy attacks during Bush (where 60 people were killed) doesn’t bother you, I have no argument for that.

http://www.politifact.com/…/prior-benghazi-were-there-13-a…/

If you think the Clinton’s running their charity (a charity with an “A” rating with CharityWatch.org, that has 88% of its contributions going out to charity and not overhead and has a higher rating than the Red Cross and United Way) is a conflict of interest, while having no desire to know where Trump’s money comes from – which is now from all foreign sources, because no US bank will loan him money anymore – AND if you had no problem with the conflict of interest with Dick Cheney running Halliburton and making BILLIONS during the war in Iraq, then I have no argument for that.

http://www.factcheck.org/…/where-does-clinton-foundation-m…/

https://www.charitywatch.org/…/bill-hillary-chelsea-cli…/478

If you have women and girls in your life who you want treated with respect and don’t have a problem with Trump’s rampant misogyny, I have no argument for that.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/18-real-things-donald-trump…

If you don’t find Trump’s praising of Putin and Kim Jong-un alarming, I have no argument for that.

http://abcnews.go.com/…/controversial-dictators-lead…/story…

If you’re OK with voting for someone who is against LGBT rights and has stated that his supreme court pick(s) could overturn marriage equality, I have no argument for that.

http://www.hrc.org/…/donald-trump-opposes-nationwide-marria…

If you have no problem with someone who has gone on and on and on about Bill Clinton’s infidelity while he has cheated on his first wife with his second and his second wife with his third, then I have no argument for that. ALSO, BILL CLINTON ISN’T RUNNING FOR OFFICE, HIS WIFE IS.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/8e31fe68-834a-11e6-a3ef-f3…

If the list of proposed Supreme Court nominees that Trump put forth doesn’t scare you enough to crap your pants, I have no argument for that.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/new-trump-supreme-court-l_b…

If Trumps history of racial inequality doesn’t bother you. I have no argument for that.

http://fortune.com/2016/06/07/donald-trump-racism-quotes/

If you have no problem when you hear Trump go on about how companies are shipping their jobs overseas and how he will stop this, while his suits are made in Mexico and his ties in China, I have no argument for that.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/how-many-trump-products-w…/

If Trump’s use of his charity’s funds to pay personal debts and buy paintings of himself don’t give you pause, then I have no argument for that.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/adc88f9c-7d11-11e6-ac8e-cf…

I you think that Trump’s a good businessman and will be good for our county’s economics, when knowing about how many of his companies failed, I have no argument for that.

http://www.rollingstone.com/…/donald-trumps-13-biggest-busi…

If the charges of fraud on Trump University and the scandal of his “donation” of $25,000 to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, after which she stopped her investigation into Trump University don’t bother you, then I have no argument for that.

http://www.newyorker.com/…/trump-university-its-worse-than-…

https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/trump-pays-irs-a-penalty-…/

If you buy into the smear campaign against Hillary and don’t get that so many on the right have – and have HAD – a hardon to get Clinton for what… 30 years now? And have spent MILLIONS of tax dollars to get her on something and have gotten NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH, ZERO. 30 years of half-truths, lies and some bat shit crazy lies (my favorite being the one where she has killed so many people that it would make Hannibal Lector seem lazy!) repeated incessantly until the gullible and uneducated take it as truth, then I have no argument for that.

http://www.dailykos.com/…/6/…/1541728/-The-Thirty-Year-Smear

And if you think Trump is the better candidate, I have no argument for that either.

And the reason I have no argument with that? Because as I wrote earlier… I’m not going to change your mind, and you’re not going to change mine. 

SO IF YOU HAVE A CONTRARY OPINION TO ANYTHING THAT I’VE WRITTEN HERE… POST IT ON YOUR OWN DAMN WALL!

We’ll have to agree to disagree.


The 3rd party option crowd needs to stop and really, really think about what voting for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson means. I hate to burst your bubble, but a snowball stands a better chance in Hell than either of those candidates stand to win. Why? Nobody’s heard of Stein–she has no political experience; there is no media coverage nor a long-term campaign process for the Green Party–except showing up to vote every 4 years. As I mentioned before, Johnson may say he’s a liberal, but he sure has a Republican platform. We’re not going to keep talking about “two evils”, “there are actually 3 or 4 parties” or any other pat and rote Green Party platitude.

Let me tell you again, flat out:

IF you vote for Donald Trump, he will become President and that will be the end of the world. Really. In his first national security briefing, DTNS asked THREE times why he couldn’t use the nukes. He is already recognized as world class for being a racist, misogynist, liar, arrogant, out of control so bad his own party is trying to figure out how to get him out of the race. He is facing rape charges from a woman who has a witness(!) to the rape. He SAYS that he’s a billionaire. I say that’s a lie, considering that he has thousands of lawsuits pending against him as well as being $630 million in debt. To the Russians. (There’s no conflict of interest there. <sarcasm font>)

With the appearance of the 2005 video that demonstrates DTNS’ contempt for and objectification of women, including the now-popular phrase, “grab them in the pussy”, it is very apparent that women will suffer disproportionately if he is elected. Any man who treats *all* women like they are his belongings (regardless of their marital status); who uses his position as the host to ogle the contestants of a beauty contest as they change; who has consistently insulted a broad variety of women; who is a serial adulterer; this man is the very definition of a misogynist. And if this man has no particular connection to the women that are in the same room, how do you think he act towards all the women he’ll never see? We cannot afford a President who does not represent all of us, who treats 51% of the population as nothing more than Barbie dolls, to play with and discard. You should also remember that he is against any abortion.

A man who can be that callous towards women is also going to be callous towards any group of citizens that are not “like him”. LGBTQ, color folk, the disabled, and the elderly will all be similarly disenfranchised, ignored and belittled. The only group that will not be affected will be the white males. White males represent only 31% of the population. However. They hold 65% of the government jobs, local and national. That means approximately 70% of the population is not proportionately represented in our government, at all levels. But that also means that the rest of us outnumber “them”. Something to keep in mind if you think that voting for HRC is unbearable.

BUT. IF you vote for Hillary Clinton, she will become Madame President and that will mean the world will keep on spinning. I understand that she has a bad reputation–most of it manufactured by that multi-million dollar industry whose product is making her look bad. She has served our government faithfully and to her best ability for 25 years. She has consistently worked for the rights of women and children. Does she have her faults? Don’t you? Most importantly, she doesn’t consider the nuclear option to be the starting point of foreign relations.

IF you vote for Jill Stein or Gary Johnson, you WILL split the votes and Donald Trump will win. If that concept doesn’t bother you, enjoy your privileged status. Then watch as women, the elderly, people of color, the poor, and the disabled lose all of the rights and laws  that we have achieved in the past 60+ years, specifically meant to protect the vulnerable. Enjoy living in a country where the worst of mankind is the highest level of achievement. Enjoy living in a country where there are currently 47% of all our families living on the brink of poverty–that number will only increase. Not slightly in debt, but in POVERTY: no home, no surety for food or safety. (25% of our children do not have food safety.) Once you don’t have an address, it gets hard to get a job that actually pays a LIVING wage. Oh, and that LIVING wage will never be made as the MINIMUM wage will be gone and you’ll be glad to have a job making $3 an hour. If they aren’t all outsourced…or have foreign workers brought into the country, which is the same thing. Wave good-bye to the EPA, FDA, OSHA and all other protective governmental departments. Good bye to National Parks. Wave good-bye to a safe and assured infrastructure. Good-bye to minimum wage and no benefits.  Although you can say hello to “right to work”, which only serves the employer, never the employee.  Good bye to the ACA, the best healthcare provision the Congress would allow and could be (have been) the first step towards truly universal healthcare, where each citizen would receive the medical treatment(s) they need to be healthy without fear of the cost.

You’d better be a part of the 1% to avoid all of that–or you’re going to be part of the rest of us and have to reap what you are trying to sow. Everything that you believe in, that is a part of your own party’s platform will be gone, shattered into dust, never to return, if DTNS wins the highest office in this land. There may not be any more elections after him…he’s just that crazy.

So, absolutely vote your conscience. Vote for the candidate you truly believe will bring about the consequences you are seeking. But be prepared to answer for your choice if this country ends up in the (tiny) hands of DTNS, liar, braggart, homophobic, racist, misogynist, failed businessman, serial philanderer, sexual assaulter and narcissist, looking out only for himself. Where is your conscience then? How will you explain your vote to the millions of people who will be adversely affected by a Trump presidency? How will you explain to your children why you didn’t vote for the greater good, but by “your conscience”, without considering the consequences of ignoring the obvious?

Be sure, be very sure, that your vote does represent you and your contribution to this nation, that its casting acknowledges the realities of this presidential cycle, that you are doing your part to keep this country democratic — with Liberty and Justice for all of her citizens instead of only for the very rich.

We’ll have to agree to disagree, but in the meantime, I won’t stop trying to inform and open conversations that might cause some reconsideration on both of our parts. I have shared my part of this conversation. I look forward to hearing from you.

Why We Are So Afraid, 15 Years After the 9-11 Attacks?

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I walked into the Facebook world this morning to be greeted by a posting that absolutely qualifies as a “Complicated Conversation” and knew that I wanted to share it here.

It starts with a short explanation from a poster in a group that I belong to and that is where we shall start:

“Advisory: I’m about to use one or two NSFW words. Steel yourselves.
Regular readers know I frequently repost comments from retired Navy Master Chief Jim Wright.
He wrote a 9-11 post this morning that I set aside to consider later whether to repost since I wasn’t coffee’d up enough yet to decide if it fit the tone of the day I’m trying to go with.
Well, I’ve just learned that decision was taken out of my hands. Because the Facebook standards police bots have taken it down (which usually means they’ve been complaint-bombed by the right wing social media patrols).
Fortunately, since I was undecided I had left a browser tab open with Jim’s post. Which I now copy and paste below.
I strongly encourage you to repost, or copy and paste yourselves. Because fuck you pseudo-patriots, that’s why.
Credit Jim Wright (https://www.facebook.com/Stonekettle):
~~~~~~
You’re expecting some kind of obligatory 9-11 post, aren’t you?
Here it is, but you’re not gonna like it.
15 years ago today 19 shitheads attacked America.
They killed 3000 of us.
And then … America got its revenge for 9-11.
Yes we did. Many times over. We killed them. We killed them all. We killed their families. We killed their wives and their kids and all their neighbors. We killed whole nations that weren’t even involved just to make goddamned sure. We bombed their cities into rubble. We burned down their countries.
They killed 3000 of us, we killed 300,000 of them or more.
8000 of us came home in body bags, but we got our revenge. Yes we did.
We’re still here. They aren’t.
We win. USA! USA! USA!
Right?
You goddamned right. We. Win.
Except…
Every year on this day we bath in the blood of that day yet again. We watch the towers fall over and over. It’s been 15 goddamned years, but we just can’t get enough. We’ve just got to watch it again and again.
It’s funny how we never show those videos of the bombs falling on Baghdad today. Or the dead in the streets of Afghanistan. We got our revenge, but we never talk about that today. No, we just sit and watch the towers fall yet again.
Somewhere out there on the bottom of the sea are the rotting remains of the evil son of bitch who masterminded the attack. It took a decade, but we hunted him down and put a bullet in his brain. Sure. We got him. Right? That’s what we wanted. that’s what our leaders promised us, 15 years ago today.
And today those howling the loudest for revenge shrug and say, well, yeah, that. That doesn’t matter, because, um, yeah, the guy in the White House, um, see, well, he’s not an American, he’s the enemy see? He’s not doing enough. So, whatever. What about that over there? And that? And…
Yeah.
15 years ago our leaders, left and right, stood on the steps of the Capitol and gave us their solemn promise to work together, to stand as one, for all Americans.
How’d that promise work out?
How much are their words worth? Today, 15 years later?
It’s 15 years later and we’re STILL afraid. We’re still terrorized. Still wallowing in conspiracy theories and peering suspiciously out of our bunkers at our neighbors. Sure we won. Sure we did. We became a nation that tortures our enemies — and our own citizens for that matter. We’re a nation of warrantless wiretaps and rendition and we’ve gotten used to being strip searched in our own airports. And how is the world a better place for it all?
And now we’re talking about more war, more blood.
But, yeah, we won. Sure. You bet.
Frankly, I have had enough of 9-11. Fuck 9-11. I’m not going to watch the shows. I’m not going to any of the memorials. I’m not going to the 9-11 sales at Wal-Mart. I don’t want to hear about 9-11. I for damned sure am not interested in watching politicians of either party try to out 9-11 each other. I’m tired of this national 9-11 PTSD. I did my bit for revenge, I went to war, I’ll remember the dead in my own time in my own way.
I’m not going to shed a damned tear today.
We got our revenge. Many times over, for whatever good it did us.
I’m going to go to a picnic and enjoy my day. Enjoy this victory we’ve won.
I suggest you do the same.”

I’ll give you a moment to absorb that.

I agree with this post. Wholeheartedly. This worship of 9-11 is a ploy to keep us afraid, to keep us in the state of terror, so that we will go along with the war plans the MIC (Military Industrial Complex) has so that it will continue to generate revenue. War has become an industry, with corporate interest taking priority over common sense and sane people’s desire for no more war. So we are literally bombarded with the pictures of that terrible day, which keeps our PTSD / fear / terror alive and kicking.

I’m not going to get into whether I agree with our continued “boots on ground” in the Middle East. I served 4 years in the USAF, during a time when there was no war. I would have gone into combat if allowed (this was in the early 1980’s) but fortunately, the situation never came up. As a sane person, I abhor war. I consider it to be one of the worst ideas we ever came up with. I am especially concerned about the increasing technology–and the lessening human contact between enemies. It’s already become more like playing a video game than actually killing someone. (Drones, “smart” bombs, etc) I realize this sounds like I don’t agree with the “boots on ground”…but what I have just said about war is just that, about war. Military decisions are not always right, but they are followed out. I stand as a comrade with those soldiers who are over there, putting their lives on the line, doing their duty.

A quick “Google” search will give you the numbers for the costs of making war an industry. I’ve opted for pie charts, rather than lists of those numbers. You don’t have to understand high finance to get it; think of these pie charts as pies, with the wedges representing the pieces of the pie that are handed out.
First pie: the often quoted, but wrong, explanation that our defense takes “57% of the budget”:
wrongiechart

Our second chart shows the actual portioning of the entire budget:

adjustedpiechart

Please note the terms “mandatory” and “discretionary”. As with anyone’s budget, the US has bills it MUST pay before using “leftover” money to cover everything else. Defense/Military ends up being about 16% of the overall pie. So let’s remove the mandatory spending. That will take out the bills that must be paid and leave the rest of the budget to make into a new pie, called “Discretionary spending”, as this:

defensespending

“By far, the biggest category of discretionary spending is spending on the Pentagon and related military programs. Examples of other well-known programs paid for by discretionary spending include the early childhood education program Head Start (included in Housing & Community), Title I grants to disadvantaged schools and Pell grants for low-income college students (Education), food assistance for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), training and placement for unemployed people provided by Workforce Investment Boards (in Social Security, Unemployment and Labor), and scientific research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF), among many others.”
(From: National Priorities)

“In fiscal year 2015, military spending is projected to account for 54 percent of all federal discretionary spending, a total of $598.5 billion. Military spending includes: all regular activities of the Department of Defense; war spending; nuclear weapons spending; international military assistance; and other Pentagon-related spending.”
(From : National Priorities)

One more pie chart, this time with the actual dollar amount for each slice of the discretionary spending pie:

dollaramounts

The discretionary budget for last year was 1.11 TRILLION dollars. The military got 54%, or 598.5 Billion (or 598,500,000,000). Everybody else has to share 511.5 billion (or 511,500,000,000). Just imagine how much more all those other programs could do if we just take the difference, 87,000,000,000 OR “just” 87 BILLION more dollars than they are making do without. Now let’s imagine a nation with a military spending of just 30%.  That’s about 300 billion. (I’m not doing precise math any more. All those zeroes hurt my head.) Think, oh think!, of what these other programs could do with 7 TRILLION dollars! We could help so many more people who need food stamps, education, housing. We’d be taking really good care of our veterans. And the science/energy & environment would have the funding to help wean us off of fossil fuels and provide new, better ways to live within this biosphere we call Earth.

It’ll never happen, of course. Not with as deeply entrenched as the MIC is in our government. It would require more effort than one President can make, or even one Congress might offer. (If you could even get them to go along with the idea; where do you think their money comes from? Not that generous paycheck!–no irony there; their paychecks are generous–but they also get rich-er from the “donations” they receive. Why else would their personal worth grow, almost exponentially, while they are serving the government?)

So having discussed military spending and why we are still afraid (because the MIC needs us to be fearful, so that we don’t have an uprising over 54% of our budget going to war) let’s turn back to Jim’s words.

He is a Navy Master Chief, retired. He served most of his life in the military. He has seen the horrors of war. So when he talks about terror, when he talks about how we are being bamboozled by the media, he knows of what he speaks. (Incidentally, so we’re clear on this: our media is not (not, I repeat) about actual news reporting. Facts are actually irrelevant in the stories they tell. It’s all about the entertainment factor, keeping people stirred up emotionally — and thereby, keeping them watching. It’s better for ratings to show the towers coming down (again!) than it is to show how people’s lives have gone on. It’s better to monger (defined as “a person who promotes a specified activity, situation, or feeling, especially one that is undesirable or discreditable.”) continual fear and uneasiness, hatred, terror, and especially fostering the idea that somehow, we are not “great” anymore. It’s all about being outrageous, trying (and unfortunately, succeeding) to keep the American public misinformed about the reality of our country and overwhelmed with ideas of government corruption, that people who are different than (the average white male viewer) are going to take away your rights…”Be afraid, be very afraid” pretty much covers all of the media coverage, regardless of the topic.

Jim speaks both from his experiences in the military and the wisdom he has acquired along the way. He is passionate in expressing his views (duh!) but always backs it up with facts, real facts, provable facts. He is a political writer and he shares his thoughts on a regular basis. He can also be very controversial, as seen in this post.
(If you’d like to see more of his writing, his blog is here, at Stonekettle Station)

As a man of deep thoughts and the ability to share them, he gives his readers a lot to think about. He gives his detractors a lot to argue with, except that I have yet to see any comment against him that doesn’t read like a child’s nanny-nanny boo-boo. Yes, he receives death threats. Death threats, for words! Why should disagreement with Jim’s words give you the right to kill him? (Clue: it doesn’t. Grow up.) As the OP pointed out, FB took this posting down, almost assuredly because it was, as his wording goes, “complaint-bombed” by the people who do not agree with him.

Guess what? I completely support Jim’s First Amendment rights. He has every right to say what he damned well pleases. If you don’t like what he’s writing, there’s a real easy solution: DON’T READ IT. Just because someone doesn’t agree doesn’t mean they have the right to shut him down through the FB complaint process. His rights for free speech are exactly the same as theirs: he has them, too. Getting his post taken down rates right up there with burning books that offend someone.

I have some news, Sunshine. No one has appointed someone as the Word Police, they have no special powers to block any words, written, spoken, printed–just the same as they can speak their words. To those who want to listen to them. We’re back to the easy answer: if they don’t agree, they should stop listening/reading/trolling Facebook.

I am not advocating the complete boycott of 9-11. It’s not a bad thing to remember that something that historical took place–but like other historical events, it needs to be kept within the context of its occurrence. Because of 9-11, we have changed some of our ways of doing business. TSA and the whole rigmarole to get onto a plane is just one of them. But we still have, and I believe should always have, an open society. We have a reputation as the Great Melting Pot, a place where anyone can come and fulfill their dreams. Let’s live up to that reputation!

We ARE still a great nation, with many opportunities and many luxuries that great parts of the world do not have. We are still a nation where you can call the leader of that nation by any bad name you want–and you don’t go to jail for it, or die for speaking it out loud. One of our greatest strengths is the idea that We The People can control our own destiny, that we have influence on those who rule us. Unfortunately, that’s also one of our weak points, because those who rule over us have lost sight of the fact that they are directly SERVING the people. The reality is that far too many of them have become corporate shills and not only do not vote in the people’s interest, but often, directly against the people’s interest–and their will.

We need people like Jim Wright, who will point out when our emperor of the day has no clothes on. We need to hear his voice, listen to his words–I was going to say, even if we don’t agree with him, but I think it’s better said as “especially if we disagree with him”. It’s hard to learn something new when you all ready know about it and go along with the general idea of the topic. But it’s way easier to learn from someone whose views or information is different–it provides an new insight onto whatever you’re talking about.

I scold FB for failing to recognize Jim’s right to express whatever he wishes. I scold those who sent complaints; don’t read his posts. I hope that by sharing this in as many forms as is possible — because believe me, I’ve already shared this on my FB page–we can continue this very complicated, but very worthy, conversation. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. Comment below with yours!

(PLEASE REMEMBER: DO NOT COPY THIS BLOG WITHOUT EXPRESS PERMISSION AS NOT ALL OF IT IS MINE. JIM WRIGHT IS THE AUTHOR AND OWNER OF THE POST I SHARED.)

The Lesser Evil, The Third Party Option or the Final Solution?

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)


This began life as a posting on FB, responding to this post and the comments that ensued like a college food fight.
DTNationalEmergency
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s VERY easy to make a choice for who our next President shall be. Let’s list the potentials:
1. DT, a racist, homophobic, Anti-Semitic, misogynistic, FAILED businessman. NO political history to show us how he would function within the Federal Government or any government at any level. He has the attention span of a gnat and the willingness, shall I even say the eagerness to use the nuclear option. He is also facing possible (edited) criminal charges of sexual assault and rape; he has 5500 lawsuits pending against him. Both of these things prove that he is a liar and a man who does what he wants and refuses to accept the consequences. And he has visible, traceable connections to Vladimir Putin–and money is the majority of that connection.
His Vice Presidential candidate is a known politician–and known for making laws that mirror DT’s views. For the gods’ sake, Pence voted “no” on the hate crime law. And this is the man who would be the President, DT has already said so. Pence would be managing the daily affairs and our foreign policies. (And DT is already talking about pulling out of NATO and the WTO.)
(Here’s a link that will show how DT has consistently lied to America.)
(Here is the link to Mike Pence on the Wiki. And here is his website. Feel free to compare the two sites.)
2. Hillary Clinton. A career politician, former First Lady and Secretary of State. Consistently smeared by the GOP and her detractors so much so that you can’t even tell what is a lie and what is not. She has been cleared of wrong doing in the Benghazi debacle; the email scandal was created by others and she has been shown to be no more wrong about them than any other politician with a personal email server, Colin Powell and Condeleeza Rice to name two. Her associations with Wall Street are known. Her husband, First Dude Bill, couldn’t keep his pecker in his pants while he was President but that doesn’t mean HC had anything to do with that. She was successful as the Secretary of State, meeting with our international allies and discussing things rationally and to mutually acceptable conclusion. Her political history very strongly supports the view that she would do everything else before ever pushing that red button. She speaks the language of the government. She has experience, she is extremely smart, and she behaves like an adult.
Her Vice Presidential candidate is Tim Kaine. He is the junior Senator for VA in Congress. He has a political history that is easily checked. He is for women’s rights, LGBT and black equality, and helping the people he was elected by.
(In the interest of fairness, here is a link that discusses the various “scandals” for HC. I would like to point out that this article specifically addresses the continued “scandals” and attacks on her with this: “With Hillary Clinton leading the field for the Democratic nomination for president, every Clinton scandal—from Whitewater to the State Department emails—will be under the microscope. (No other American politicians—even ones as corrupt as Richard Nixon, or as hated by partisans as George W. Bush—have fostered the creation of a permanent multimillion-dollar cottage industry devoted to attacking them.)”)
Here’s a link to Tim Kaine on the Wiki. And here is his website. Feel free to compare them and then compare them to Mike Pence.)
3. Third party candidate. Apparently Jill Stein is one. I haven’t heard of ANY others. Regardless of their ideology, their political history and their personal character, they are UNKNOWNS. We have as much idea about their type of Presidency as we do for DT. Historically, any third party candidate splits the votes and the least-wanted candidate usually ends up winning. From Bill Moyer: “Abraham Lincoln — who ran as a Republican during the era of Whigs and Democrats — was America’s last third-party candidate to successfully win the presidency.” Folks, that was 1860. 150 years ago. With a MUCH smaller population and without Fox, CNN and MSNBC all barraging us with lies, half-lies and statistics. Since that time, all the 3rd party candidates have done is split the ticket and upset the apple cart, leaving the other party’s candidate as the President.
So as Amy said, you “just want someone who can row.” In this case, that means someone who has the ability to do the job, who has the background and education to handle the complexity of the Chief Executive’s workday, someone who can meet with our allies and not insult them to their faces. We need someone who will be a representative on the world stage that we can be proud of and support. We need a President who will continue the work for equality and healthcare and improving people’s lives–and not undoing the last 60 years of equal rights for all.
We need a President who will select the best person to sit on the Supreme Court, not just rubber-stamp the person chosen by their corporate Overlords. (Or the person who gives them the most money.) The SCOTUS will be there long after the President has gone to retirement, even after serving 2 terms, should it come to that. And they have, if you didn’t know, an ENORMOUS influence on YOUR daily life by making decisions on laws and court cases that deal with the issues we all face, such as the right to our own bodies, the right to love whomever we love and to marry them if we choose; the right to a living wage, to education and how it is presented, and many other topics of what we would call “daily living”. The SCOTUS should represent ALL of the people and that requires a court that has a diversity in its members.
At this point in the election process, insisting that you’d never vote for HC OR DT, but will vote “your conscience and select the 3rd party candidate” is a childish, thoughtless way to make your choice. It’s just like the Brits who voted to leave the EU–many of them were protest votes and they were shocked to find themselves cast out into the world on their own. (Economy wobbled worse than it was already wobbling, pound crashed, general bad stuff happened.)
This is NOT the time for petty “I’ll show you!” voting. And I’m sorry, but it’s not even time for “I truly believe in this 3rd party candidate and all they could do” because they will NOT be elected. For one thing, nobody has heard of them until like Election Day…
And mostly, it’s because they don’t know how to row. If you’re that attached to your 3rd party candidate, then begin the day after Nov 8th and start building your campaign for the 2020 elections. Get their name known, get them on the national media, get them the same type of publicity and campaigning that DT and HC have been doing for the past…8 months? It seems like forever.
But please, please, truly and deeply consider each candidate’s worth and how each of them would be as President, based on what we know now. And DT is apparently a train wreck waiting to happen–but if that’s who you want to vote for, then do it. But if you do not to see That Man in the White House, don’t spoil HC’s chances by not voting for her. A “not vote for her” is simply a vote for DT. It really comes down to that.

EDIT
Another person on my FB feed posted why we should be voting for the 3rd party option. My reply to him includes some additional information about how that extra person on the ballot doesn’t get them elected to the Presidency but certainly changes who would have won.

I said, “Lovely sentiments. No real argument with your statements. HOWEVER, let me share something I read yesterday: “Donald Trump is a national crisis. You do not get to choose who is in the lifeboat with you, but you certainly want someone who can row.”

Your Green candidates only show up on Election Day. If they’ve been campaigning, it was very quietly done because there was no (ZERO) coverage that I could see. I can’t even tell you who the Green candidates are. Which means that most of the nation has also not heard of them. They have no visible public presence. As near as I can tell, they have little actual political experience in anything approaching the national level.

The fact of the matter is really quite simple: we are a two party system. Sorry, your party isn’t one of them. And a 3rd party candidate in this race will only split the vote and give the victory to the very candidate who would be the single worst selection for our President ever. The last time a 3rd party candidate won was in 1860. In the intervening 156 years, not a single one has–but they all split the votes and caused a great change in history. You only have to look back as far as the Bush-Gore-Nader campaigns in 2000. It’s called the “spoiler effect” (See here).
We simply cannot, cannot afford to let that happen. Now is not the time for a protest vote. Look at how well that worked out in Britain.”

A Changing World (and not for the Better)

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)


So Britain has voted, by a relatively slim but significant number, to bow out of the European Union (EU). Apparently many of those who had voted to leave are now Googling “EU” to find out just what exactly it was that they are getting out of. Also apparently, the propaganda machine (“Britain First” is the one I know about; there must be others) convinced a bunch of people that it was in their best interest to exit the EU. The main reason seems to be stopping immigration. (Britain First, policy page)

They also want to keep the UK and not allow Scotland, Ireland et al to have their own sovereignty. “British Unionism”, they call it. That’s okay. But NOT European Union-ism. (I guess adding the “ism” makes the difference.) They want the UK to be a Christian nation–meaning that the government should be Christianity-based. This is a country that has “Jedi” as a recognized religion. What are the odds that many religions are already present on the island? (Hint: a LOT.)

The 5th principle for Britain First read thus: “Britain First stands opposed to all alien and destructive political or religious doctrines, including Marxism, Liberalism, Fascism, National Socialism, Political Correctness, Euro Federalism and Islam. Britain First is a movement of British nationalism, patriotism and democracy.” I don’t think “Political Correctness” is actually a political or religious doctrine. But the sentence serves as a fine example for choosing the words you would use to sway public opinion. Sounds really…stirring. But when carefully read and parsed out to find the real meaning? “We won’t have anything that is different from what (those who voted to leave) we want for our country.” The whole policy statement, with all of its $1, even $5 words…boils down to “we hate anyone or anything that is different and we won’t allow it here.” Regardless of the consequences–which the people are just beginning to understand. Like a 90 Billion pound fall on the stock market. Like not being able to go to any other EU country to live and work freely. Back to visas and paperwork to move addresses. Which I am sure also works in the opposite way: no one coming into Britain for work or to live. They already had a fairly draconian policy; this will make it even harder and worse for those who would like to emigrate to the UK.

I’m sure there will be lots of other unexpected consequences as Britain goes to being just an island nation without the cohesion of an EU to provide support. I understand that each EU nation is expected to assist with the overall health and running of the EU, so it seems like “our” money is going to “them” instead of “us”. Other countries are already beginning their push for leaving the EU, so it will almost assuredly fail and Europe will go right back into its tribal behaviors. Each country will want to do what is best for that country, to hell with the rest of them. Sounds like a recipe for war. You know, like WWI and WWII.

Britain’s action of leaving the EU has started a conversation in my house about what it can mean and how this situation relates to the state of our own country’s union (or lack thereof). I may not live long enough to see it, but I am of the mind that eventually, there will be not just national, but global, chaos and anarchy until the strong achieve victory. (And it may not be the wealthiest, one can only hope.)

We have our own population of misinformed and misguided people, who prefer the pie crust promises (easily made, easily broken) of various groups (politicians, the NRA, the corporations) to the reality of what is occurring right now, right here. For example:

Our financial system is built on fairy farts and sunshine, rather than solid (real) worth. Most of the “money” is electronic potential and not an accurate assessment of a bank’s true capital. (Had a friend who closed an account at TD Bank. They offered a cashier’s check; she refused and asked for cash. They didn’t have enough cash in the branch to pay her. And we’re only talking about $10k, not really a “huge” amount of money.) The stock market and Wall Street are completely based on very pretty but totally fictional stories. It’s either making money from things that haven’t been made or haven’t happened, or it’s “making” money from the appearance of a company’s worth, whether that truly reflects its worth or not. Point of fact: Wall Street has said several times that Blackberry (RIM) is failing…because it is showing lower numbers. Well, figures lie and liars figure. When Blackberry first arrived on the scene, it was the only “smart” phone and has stellar contact and time management software. Which is why it ended up in the hands of many company’s employees. Being first, and pretty much only, at that point RIM was making, let’s say 95% of the profit for that type of product. Then Apple and Google come along with their versions of smart phones and add themselves to the market. RIM’s numbers go down because they are sharing the pie. Never mind that they are still making millions of dollars and doing very well, thank you. Wall Street is not interested in your profits; they are after the “profit margin”, which is how your company compares to the other companies within your product line. And with Wall Street “experts” saying that a company is going to fail…becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as investors remove their money from that company. Even though it was still making money in profits for those investors.

It’s all just a carnival scam; tell me which can contains the ball and I’ll pay you back twice the money paid to play. “Hedge” funds? Shouldn’t even be a term. There are two types of hedges: the green one you have to trim, and the financial kind. That’s defined as “a limited partnership of investors that uses high risk methods, such as investing with borrowed money, in hopes of realizing large capital gains.” One of the key words in that definition is “hope”, the hope that it will lead to big money. It’s got another name besides hedge fund and that’s “Ponzi scheme”, named after the first hedge fund manager shyster who came up with the idea of borrowing people’s money and then using it to make more money. It may work for a while but if your dreams of big pay-offs don’t materialize, you are in deep doo-doo. (Unless you’ve managed to figure out how to keep YOUR money out of the investment hedge.) Eventually, your investors will want their money–and their share of the gain–back. Just ask Bernie Madoff. (Side note: I personally know someone who lost ALL of their money, designed to pay for retirement, because of Mr. Madoff. My friend is working as a waiter and doesn’t figure to ever be able to retire.)

Our government is the best money can buy. Unfortunately, the money was not from the constituents but from corporations and special interest groups. The current schism between the Republicans and Democrats points to the real possibility of the collapse of our political system. At which point, the Brexit vote will look like a walk through the park–our states will each one declare themselves a discrete and autonomous “country”…except maybe the deep South and Texas shall arise as the CSA, something they have wanted for almost 240 years. We have one of the most intransigent, heels dug in, Congress in pretty much our entire national history–not since the Southern States blackmailed the Continental Congress into agreeing to their terms (keeping slavery) or they wouldn’t go along with the revolution. Politicians at every level of government are starting (and in growing numbers) to declare that the US is a “Christian” nation and we need to ignore the Constitution’s rules about a federally-mandated national religion. There is a growing number of Republican white males who think that women’s vote should be taken away. There is too much fuckery with the voting process, between gerrymandering the precincts and not counting all of the votes to every other kind of interference that can be done to keep people from exercising their civil right (and duty). There is no established system to stop and punish the most egregious corruptions of elected power, such as spending millions of taxpayer’s money to repeal an in-place and active law…62 times. Or refusing to even talk to a candidate for the Supreme Court. Or consistently opposing the President on everything, just because. Maybe our “democracy” (which is really a republic, read the definitions for each) should die, so that some form of government that is more inherently equivocal for all citizens can take its place.

Our economy sucks. Sorry to use such a technical term, but it does. When the apparently standard business model is “BOGO”, it means several things: the items are VASTLY overpriced, AND they aren’t selling. McDonald’s is having to close 700 stores because of the loss of income. Almost half of this nation’s citizens live one major catastrophe away from poverty. The middle class only exists as long as the credit cards and multiple mortgages are permitted and not called in to be paid off. I remember 11% interest on Certificates of Deposit and 8% interest on credit cards, as well as checking accounts that offered a decent rate on interest, based on how much you kept in the account. Now it’s considered great if you get even 1% of interest on savings, most checking does NOT give interest and the interest rate on credit cards is usury–or would be if the credit card companies hadn’t lobbied and gotten the usury laws repealed. Our economic issues are not just about taxes on the rich (which essentially are zero). It’s definitely about the off-shoring of jobs and capital investments that could have been used here, in this country, to make our own economy strong, instead of providing Third World countries with smart phone knock-offs and factory deaths. It’s about a minimum wage that does not even begin to cover the true cost of living, leaving those earning it barely enough to scrape by. There is no extra money for anything, so the shopping done is of a bare, subsistence nature: food, home, and car (with its attendant gasoline consumption). It’s about large, influential corporations controlling the prices of necessary items, such as the aforementioned gasoline, to inflate their profit (margins!) and keep their CEO pay levels in the millions. While the people who are really doing the work are making minimum wage. There’s something seriously wrong with a system that pays the CEO in just 1 or 2 minutes what it takes one of their employees to earn in a year.

For a “United” States, we are appallingly divided, along all sorts of lines: gender, gender identification, sexual orientation, age, religion, race, and any other descriptive but separating word. The first three refer mostly to what bathroom you use. Nothing more. They should not be the subject of laws, protests or hate. They are. Religion is the other “hot” divider as too many neo-christians stand up and while pretending to talk for all Christians, deny non-Christians the same right to *their* religion as the neo-christians have. They scream that their religious rights are being ignored or shattered. Well, your right to religion (and religious freedom) does NOT give you the right to hate. And in your hating, to then discriminate, subjugate, endanger or even kill those who have a different religion.

This division between “us” and “them”, whichever description those refer to, is the leading reason we are not really a united country. There is an active but somewhat shadowy presence in our nation (in the world, but we’re dealing with US) that is very carefully crafted to create hate, and its Siamese twin, fear. You hate what isn’t like you, and you fear those who are different. Hard to tell which one comes first, but they do end up together. And this fear-mongering, hate-creating presence (it’s actually made up of a lot of people and groups) leads the less-informed sheeple by the nose, to do whatever it is seeking to achieve.
Ignorance and apathy are its allies. “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” (Joseph Goebbels) Or as Agent K said in “Men in Black”: “A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it. Fifteen hundred years ago everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.”

Given all of this doom and gloom, what are the chances of this nation of ours being a truly united country? Unless things change (and they have been know to do that), I would predict a painful splintering into the various state-nations or clump-of-state-nations. The chances for bringing all 50 states back into a cohesive country becomes almost impossible at that point. Any method of uniting would require conquering all the independent sections. It’s not 13 colonies in a single, relatively small geographical space; we’ve grown to cover this land from sea to shining sea. And even our Founding Fathers had some in-fighting: the Declaration of Independence originally had a paragraph that would have abolished slavery. The Southern states, particularly South Carolina and Georgia, were so adamant about its removal that they refused to ratify the document it it wasn’t taken out. There was also some Northern support for removing it–from men who were slave traders and therefore had a vested interest in maintaining the slavery status quo.

We have (naturally) settled into specific areas; the East Coast, the South, the Midwest, the West Coast and so on. While we have tangible separations, such as rivers and mountains, we have many, many more intangible ones. And these are the things we are seeing in our daily social life: urban “jungles”, police killing civilians without verifying any wrong-doing prior to shooting and a distinction I particularly abhor: intelligence is vilified. Simple answers seem more than suitable for problems that are actually quite complex and will not take a one word or one sentence answer to solve. Hatred and fear are being fomented on many fronts, but particularly in the gender/sexual orientation identity and the same old racial arguments. We have a large–and apparently growing–population that is racist, sexist, homophobic and rabidly, religiously, zealots. They do not see the large picture, or the long term effects of the things they want to change now. People who know me, like my kids, will tell you that this is one of my favorite sayings: “In Nature, there is no right or wrong. There are only consequences.” I think that this group of stupid, hateful, and fearful people have no concept of the consequences of the things they think they want. Like the British subjects who voted to leave the EU because they thought it would keep immigrants out, our own haters want to dismantle the Federal government, limit the state governments and make their rules the ones that count.

There is no way that it cannot lead to violence and the shattering of a 240 year old nation that began with violence. I saw the fact mentioned that the US has been in some kind of war for 222 years, or 93%, of its existence. What does that say about us ‘Murrricans? I could say that it means we are a violent people, accustomed to using violence to solve any differences. That’s apparently true. But I also think that we can be better than that, that we can grow up and stop using fistfights to end disagreements. We have the potential, as does every nation, every being, to set aside violence, fear and hate as being unnecessary and a hindrance to meaningful and thoughtful agreements. We have only this planet (at the moment) and we need to stop dividing ourselves into essentially futile groupings, and stop using insignificant terms of description for that splintering. We are part of our nations, to be sure. But at the end of the day, when all the reason for division is removed, we are, at our very core, human beings. Every single man, woman and child on this planet. Just amazing human beings–which are so much more than our plumbing, our skin color, how long we’ve been alive or what god or gods we believe in.

As our elections draw nearer, we’ve each got some decisions to make. Who will be our best hope as President? Who will we choose to represent us on the international stage, to be the leader of our goals (living wage, different tax laws to keep the rich people from hiding their wealth in the Caymans,) and to work with the entire Congress to keep our country running? This also means that we have to vote for the Congress critters who will adhere to the promise of serving their constituents and will work with the President for us and the US. Don’t vote to leave the nation. Vote to stay together, to work together and keep this country to the ideals we have about it: democracy, equal rights, compassion, and working together, no matter our differences.

Religious Terrorism in the US

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)


TerrorismisMade

“My GOD is bigger than your government.” I wouldn’t argue with that viewpoint. Christians believe that God created everything, so of course he would be “bigger” than anything else.

HOWEVER. Your God has nothing, zero, zip, nada, to do with the government at any level. Not a damned thing. (So to speak.) America was NOT founded to be a Christian country. The forefathers made it abundantly clear that the land’s government was to be separate from any specified religious association. From the US Constitution, Amendment 1: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”. Important enough to be the first amendment made. “Shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion…” seems easily understood as “the government is not a religious entity”, period.

Enter the fanatical Religious Right. Right as in “right wing”. From the Wikipedia: “Right-wing politics hold that some forms of social stratification or social inequality are inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically defending this position on the basis of natural law, economics or tradition. Hierarchy and inequality may be viewed as natural results of traditional social differences or from competition in market economies.” And this from the Urban Dictionary: “Right Wing refers to conservatives who, by their nature, favor a small limited government with little power and little control over the people, with most of the power residing within the local state governments. Basically anti-federalist. In other words, the politicians who DON’T want more government involved with your everyday life. They don’t want the government to get too big and have a lot of control over the people.” Notably, from the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics, “in liberal democracies, the political Right opposes socialism and social democracy. Right-wing parties include conservatives, Christian democrats, classical liberals, nationalists and, on the far Right, racists and fascists.”

It’s the definition for the “far Right” (Fascists and racists) that best describes the Religious Right we are seeing these days. From dictionary.com, Fascism is defined as “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.” I believe that if the Religious Right has its way, we will end up with a religious Fascism as our national government.

We are already seeing individual states enacting laws that completely ignore Federal law concerning equality and individual rights. Most of those laws are based on the religious beliefs of what I refer to as “neo-christians”, lower case “c” intended. These are people who believe that their book overturns or surpasses the law at every level of our governmental system. Their God “tells” them what to do and they do it. Odd, isn’t it, how their God mimics their own racist, sexist and hateful views? And when someone KNOWS they are right, there is no argument or knowledge that will remove that bullheaded belief in being right.

This group professes to believe in Jesus Christ, yet they prefer to cite (and use) the Old Testament (Mosaic) law systems and examples of “what God wants”. And if  you point out to these wankers that what they are advocating is Sharia law, they will spit and sputter and burst into (righteous) flames. Not just bad enough to force your religion on others, but to not even realize that the people you hate, you hate for the reason that they are forcing their religion on others. (Not really, but that’s the view of those who think all terrorists are Muslim.)

These people are not Jesus-followers…they prefer the violent and angry God Jahovah/Yahweh who ordered entire villages destroyed–men, women, children, animals and all plunder. This type of warfare is referred to as “the ban” or the Israeli word, “herem” From Wikipedia, “Herem or cherem (Hebrew: חרם, ḥērem), as used in the Tanakh, means ‘devote’ or ‘destroy’. It is also referred to as the ban. The term has been explained in different ways by scholars. It has been defined as “a mode of secluding, and rendering harmless, anything imperiling the religious life of the nation,” or “the total destruction of the enemy and his goods at the conclusion of a campaign,” or “uncompromising consecration of property and dedication of the property to God without possibility of recall or redemption. J. A. Thompson suggests that herem meant that in the hour of victory all that would normally be regarded as booty, including the inhabitants of the land, was to be devoted to God. Thus would every harmful thing be burned out and the land purified.[5]” The Arabic word for this is “haram”, which we have heard about with all the problems in the Middle East. (Incidentally, this concept can also be applied today by the Israelis in reference to the Palestinians.)

THIS is what the religious fanatical freaks in the US would do: “secluding and rendering harmless, anything imperiling the religious life (of their nation)”. ANYTHING imperiling the religious life…would include legislation at every level of government, as they are already doing. But I believe it would also include things like, oh…burning witches, throwing Pagans to the lions (or some modern version thereof), deporting or killing Sikh, Hindu, LGBTQ people, Muslim, Buddhist, Taoist and etc. It could mean just stripping those who were not “believers” of property and assets and using them as slaves, unpaid labor with no political, social or legal rights of their own.  They have already established a second class of citizens with their illogical and dangerous laws about women’s right to their own bodies.

Because they cherry-pick their Biblical references, they completely miss the part about “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”…which really sounds to me like, “obey the government wherever you are living”. But that could just be me. The full context of rendering unto Caesar, from the New American Standard Bible, Mark 12:16-17: “16They brought one. And He said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” And they said to Him, “Caesar’s.” 17And Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” And they were amazed at Him.” What does that mean, “render to Caesar”? Render is to give or return; Jesus and the people had been discussing taxes by the Romans on the Jews. So pay your taxes. That seems pretty straight forward. But I think it can be broadened to mean “follow the laws of the government” while “following the law of God”. If you have conflicts within the two, that’s something for you to take up with your spiritual adviser and a lawyer. It’s not a war cry to take over the government.

I would also be more willing to listen to these people if they weren’t continually proving that they are not Christians in any sense of the word. Jesus gave his followers two commandments, upon which all of the Mosaic laws were based and could therefore be followed by remembering just these two things: “Love your God” and “Love your neighbor”. They do not even follow just these two simple commands, let alone the hundreds of Mosaic commandments. They eat unclean food, they wear multiple types of cloth; they cloak their hate of anyone different under the guise of “persecuting my religious beliefs” even as they “become drunk with wine” (a no-no) and commit adultery, false witness, even murder. Too many of the (male) legislators who espouse this view of Religious Right-ness, who vilify the homosexual population, are caught with their sexual organs near another man. And if not that, then they are cheating on their wives or sexually abusing children.

You do know that Jesus also said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” That means if you are sin-free (impossible), then and only then can you condemn anyone else. Matthew 7:2-4: “…2″For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. 3″Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?4″Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?…” This was Jesus’ strong admonition against his followers holding others in judgment. It’s not part of the Christian list of responsibilities to worry about what anyone else is doing/saying–or not doing/saying. The only person anyone is responsible for is themselves.

That injunction is not met, many and many times per day. And not just by those who follow the carpenter and his dad. I speak for myself as someone who consistently fails to NOT judge others. It’s a “normal” reaction, to make assumptions about others as you pass them. But even though it happens a lot does NOT make it right–not even for those of us who are not Christian. I would just suggest that it’s more a sin for those who say they are God’s children because they’re supposed to know better, to be more familiar with Jesus’ words to them.

Based on what I see online and hear or read about in the news, it’s rather apparent that many folks claim the Christ, but are not living according to his words. Jesus never said a word about homosexuals, people of color, or abortions. The first person who saw the risen Christ was a woman; that was a great honor! He wanted all people to come to him; he often ate meals with the outcasts of Jewish society: tax collectors, harlots and lepers. He often flaunted the failure to follow Jewish protocols (like washing the hands before a meal). He frequently chastised the Pharisees (the Joel Osteens of their time). He reached out in love, without condemnation, to anyone who was trying to reach him.

How did his words and examples get lost over the past 2000+ years? Why do people scream their devotion and yet spew hatred and venom at others? Why, oh why on this green Earth, are people using the Bible as a battering ram and the words from that book as spears and swords? Is it because they think doing so validates their own vile and unloving behavior? We come back around to this: if you think you are right, if you think that your god has given you some sort of credentials to run this world, there is no compromise possible. Using “faith” as your winning card only means that you are stupid (ignorance can be educated; stupid goes all the way through) and have no right to tell anyone else what to do.

Persecution? Go to Iran and be Ba’hai. Go to Tibet and be Buddhist. Go to Africa and be a woman. Go to America and be black or brown or anything than white. Christians? Are not persecuted in this country. They are allowed to speak out, even in protest of the government (a rather uncommon thing in this world). The only “persecution” that’s present in our nation is the misguided concept that knowing your God is bigger than the government gives you the right to control that government, according to your Bible, carefully picked and chosen verses that will allow you to persecute all others to a lesser status than your own.

I believe, completely, in the freedom of speech and religion. I will defend, to the death, your right to say and believe what you will. I will fight, to the fullest extent, any attempt you make to enforce your words and religion on me–and my nation. And it all boils down to this reason: Religious rights do not mean you have the right to hate. I will do everything that I can to keep your hate from spreading and do it in the name of love.

A Discussion of the Societal Concepts of Beauty

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)


KatieMeade

Please start with the original article: Katie Meade

This was shared by Unite Women, and the comments that followed were what you’d expect: “isn’t this great?” and “she really deserves this” and so on. There were a couple of comments about objectifying her and this one really hit the mark: “While I appreciate the sentiment…and “get” what they are doing and support them. I’d prefer to see a world where we were not all day long, making the comments to girls and women, and the pretty and the not pretty about their looks!!t We’re in a constant state of trying to make girls and women feel pretty. FOR WHAT PURPOSE, for crying out loud?? To feel good about ourselves for OUR LOOK?? Think about that! Sigh. We just keep feeding into lookism day in day out all day for everyone, pretty by standard beauty or not. I envision a world where we stop focusing on looks AT ALL. Dear God let it be so! lol Can you even imagine if a man where to hear all day long “your hair looks good, your suit looks good, you look good today, your skin looks great, your legs are great, your nails look great.” It’s just ABSURD.”

I completely agree with the author. BUT…there is a primitive biological reason for making these distinctions: good looks often means good health, aka, good breeding choice to perpetuate the species. Women also have this imperative, but i think that theirs is based more on a combination of things. Men go for those good health indicators and for the other signs of good motherhood, while women check out the male’s appearance for his health status, they give greater weight to his ability to provide the resources for having children. Pregnancy is the beginning of a major commitment, the time and effort spent caring for an infant, a baby, a toddler, a child, etc until the young one is capable of taking care of itself. A female wants her male partner to also commit to an extended period of time, with his resources and abilities to ensure that the offspring have the best possible chance to reach adulthood.

Now step forward from the dark recesses of history to our modern world. In the simplest breakdown, our current dating and mating still occurs in pretty much the same way. It’s still about being healthy enough to breed healthy children, ergo, some level of beauty; and having a mate who can provide the food and shelter required to bring the children to maturation. We’ve thrown in the societal change of women earning their own income, which increases her choice about having a child. If she has sufficient resources, she can have a child without having a male around to provide what she already can.

Studies have shown that males are still biased in favor of women with ample hips, a sign of whether a child (and she) could make it through childbirth. Our society, on the other hand, has decided that the female beauty is not the original archetype. This requires grown women to have purposefully reduce or remove the primitive signs of heavy thighs and extra weight (in case of a famine), and so on. I would say that from a scientific viewpoint, these women literally become trophies. This works in both directions, with the young, socially designated beautiful women gaining status by being with males who hold greater resources–either physical resources like money, or the more intangible, like his fame. But for the purpose of our discussion, I will keep it simple and we discuss the females. Just remember, anything that pertains to the women can also pertain to men, albeit in different ways.

One of the requirements for today’s beautiful woman is disturbing in its implications: removal of genital/groin hair. Having genital hair is a sign of maturity, a visible signal of being ready to mate. When added to the other requirements like being impossibly thin, this only makes me think of prepubescent females. Girl children, not mature enough to procreate, being placed into the status of most desirable mate. Anyone besides me think there’s something wrong with this?

The women who work to achieve this concept of female beauty soon discover that starving your body to be “fashionably” anorexic uses up fat supplies (needed to survive, thank you) such as…your breasts. How many of those girl-child “beauties” have natural, un-enhanced breasts? Far too many of them obviously have implants, which are almost grotesque in their perfect roundness. And don’t even talk to me about the fat lips thing. It seems to me that while their bodies are made to look too immature to mate, they have resorted to turning their facial lips into surrogate labia, showing obviously red and swollen lips to the world. Guess what? One of the obvious signs of female arousal is an engorgement of the labia as well as a change in color. What a bunch of mixed signals: a child’s body, thin beyond the norm, with large, thrusting imitations breasts and visible labia arousal (ready to mate) as symbolized by their medically modified lips. Which signal should you believe? Don’t get me wrong, sexual intercourse does happen (of course, it’s another trophy milestone checked off)…but I’m not seeing that much of an increase in the population as a result of this status posturing. So it isn’t sexual intercourse for procreation. Just recreation.

We have created this concept of “beauty” and we cater to it without thought. However, when it comes time to procreate, I think other choices would be made. I can’t cite you specific studies, but consider this: when you see famous people (whatever their reason for fame), the males have this accepted form of beauty on their arms. But when you look at long term relationships, and especially relationships with children involved, we revert to the old ideas as far as our modern society will tolerate. Actors who marry/procreate with other actors may make “beautiful” children, but they don’t tend to stay married. Obviously there’s a lot of other things going on within that relationship like the type of ego it requires to be an actor, times two; the parity of fame and the societal requirement for the female to closely mimic the accepted norms of what is beautiful. (Which having children successfully can make it very difficult to do.)

I can offer you several suggestions to show that most of this kind of bonding is done for display to the society; it’s a male with the “ideal” beauty on his arm, showing how great HIS resources are that he owns this beautiful trophy; it’s the female with a proven “Alpha” type male, which increases her status. Donald Trump is a great example of that…he has married a series of women who look oddly alike…but as one ages and is no longer the “perfect” look, he replaces her with another who looks like her, only younger. To the point of being willing to “date” his daughter…who exemplifies this ideal. We are back to the primitive brain, where the male who has sufficient resources can mate with anyone HE chooses, rather than the female choosing him for his ability to hunt and forage and make arrows.

TrumpsWives

On the flip side, we can see that long term partnering is not based so strongly on that societal view of females. Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward were married for over 50 years, even while both of them were actors. Mrs. Newman would fail the current requirements for “beauty” in our society. She was beautiful, make no mistake. But she was not otherworldly in that beauty, she looked like a “real” woman. She didn’t require surgery, shots and a workout schedule that precluded holding a job to be beautiful. In other words, she lived her life without trying to meet nearly impossible demands to look like what society thought she should.

Let’s face it: there are far more “normal” people than those who can make a living off of just their looks. So within the mainstream of society we may be shielded from the horror of a beauty regimen that requires your soul. Of course this constant barrage of “this is beautiful” from adverts and TV shows and movies…affects us and our children. Which makes it the responsibility of their parents to discuss how utterly useless, even dangerous, trying to live up to this stream of impossible that it is–for daughters AND sons. We need to educate both genders (all genders) of children to understand that beauty, as the saying goes, “is in the eye of the beholder”, and as such is a personal choice. It should not be a choice made based on someone else’s ideas. (And you can seek ways to lessen this impact on your own life.)

Which brings us back around to where we started, with a beautiful young lady who just happens to have Down Syndrome. The genetic signs of her disease have created a face that is…well, alien. It’s not a “normal” look, even among the masses. It is different. Which is, in the long run, the simple thing we, as a society, need to learn. There is no “ONE” look, a single measure to determine beauty. Don’t let Madison Avenue fool you, with its army of 6 feet tall “heroin chic” walking toothpicks. These are examples of a body type that is not normal in any sense of the word, which causes a reaction from us by being different. Take off their makeup, remove those designer clothes, comb their hair and don’t “style” it…and they look a lot more like the average woman in the street.

This directly leads to the need of understanding that the average woman in the street has beauty, in at least one of its myriad forms. Even someone not blessed with full body beauty may have exquisite shoulders, or graceful hands, or just a presence that makes you take notice of her. There is nothing wrong in acknowledging any beauty. The sin, the terrible wrongdoing, is in objectifying “beauty”, insisting on certain specific hallmarks in order to be considered beautiful at all–and thereby having any worth as a human being. Worse yet is that these requirements are all physical, so there’s no “worth” assigned to a great sense of humor, intelligence, compassion, or any other other possibilities for beauty without a thigh gap.

ThighsTouch-Mermaid

We are also responsible for learning, and teaching our children, that beauty has as many definitions as love, different for each person and yet somehow still understandable to someone else. Physical beauty can be an actual handicap, with the “beautiful” person not having to develop intelligence or personality or the myriad of other kinds of interaction because all they have to do is “be beautiful”. Physical beauty is lost in the passing of years. Some retain it, some actually become more beautiful the older they get–but usually, someone who has their physical beauty be all that they needed…lose that after 10, 20 or 30 years. And if they didn’t think they needed anything else to get by in the world, they are sorely disappointed as they age. Skin wrinkles, age spots appear, the body moves slower, weight may attach itself to you. In that same amount of time, you should learn to be more loving, more accepting of others; you should be getting wiser and able to see things from the broader viewpoint only time can give you. My grandmother was beautiful, but not especially so. She was never a model, although she did win a local beauty contest once… I was born the year she turned 45 years old. I always loved her, of course…but it took until junior or senior high school for me to understand why everyone thought she was beautiful. It wasn’t about her physical appearance, although she was still very attractive. No, what made her so beautiful was her kind and loving heart, her willingness to listen, her immediate offers of help to those in need. These things never leave the one who has them.

As a society, as human beings, we need to learn how to recognize and appreciate the beauty of every person, female and male, without regards as to how they measure up to an artificially created paradigm of beauty specifically designed to sell things to you. We need to look for things beyond the physical, the things that will last beyond the physical, look for the beauty in others that makes us feel good, causes us to say, “(They) are beautiful.” We need to learn and hold onto the idea that Ray Stevens sang about: “everything is beautiful, in its own way”. And that means everybody, as well!

I thank you, beautiful people, for letting me share my thoughts with you. And here’s a photo of one of my “happy” (and beautiful) places:
cropped-img_20140413_144204.jpg

 

Death with Dignity

Any topic that qualifies as a complicated conversation generally contains a lot of heated passion from every side, regardless of the topic being explored. I will of course be talking from my own point of view, so go with the assumption that it’s my opinion. When I give facts, I will also provide the appropriate links so that you know it’s NOT my opinion.
So before I wade into the fray, I remind my gentle readers that regardless of how much of a twist your knickers get into, this is still a POLITE conversation. Anything less than polite (flaming, obscenity directed at the author or the other comments, hate speech, derogatory remarks without real substance for an alternate view, or sheer stupidity) will be deleted and the user will be blocked.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more…” (Shakespeare, “Henry V”)


Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
~~Mary Elizabeth Frye

Too many people are uncomfortable, even fearful, of talking about death. This is a (relatively) new view of the end of life, compared to the knowledge of its inevitability in older, generally agrarian, societies. When your whole life is tied into the cycles of nature, you know that death is just a part of that cycle. Now, with technology, science and pharmacology, death has become a somewhat hidden and mysterious action. I do mean on a personal level; we are all too inured to mass deaths, whatever their cause.

It’s a shame that we have purposefully turned to making death, or the discussion of it, almost taboo. We have cloaked it in secrets and somehow try to make it not a natural part of the order of things, including our own lives. We certainly do this with celebrity lives, as shown by the recent deaths of David Bowie and Alan Rickman. Comment after comment talks about we thought they would always be there. Somehow.

Death is a natural event. Every person you know will be dead eventually. Even you shall die–and that’s the death that scares us the most, I think. We are so afraid of dying, of not being here on Earth, not existing. But while death is inevitable, it is also nothing, NOTHING, to be afraid of. There are things worse than death. Like being in terrible, untreatable pain. Having a disease that is shutting down the body; limiting your life little by little until it finally traps your mind in a shell that cannot function.

All right, so let’s say that we can all understand the concept of our eventual death. Now let’s talk about voluntary death, sought after and desired death. Whether you call it suicide or euthanasia, it’s still the end of life. Why then would anyone willingly choose to kill themselves? There are many, many reasons why someone would seek death. The two examples above, of things worse than death, are only two reasons for suicide. Clinical depression is another. When you’re depressed, you are NOT sad. It’s not a feeling that will go away on its own. It is a particular chemical state of being within the organ we call the brain. Being chemical means that it can be treated with the right medications–which may or may not have side effects that can actually make the depression worse, or side effects that are so bad, you’d rather live with the depression. Or the medications make you feel good enough, you don’t think you need them any more…and stop taking them, to then crash, face first, back into that depression.

But let’s talk about physical causes for choosing suicide. Great pain and/or a terminal disease. Imagine someone you love deeply, someone you have had in your life, being told, “You have about 3 months to live and the pain will only get worse.” Imagine it’s you. Now what? Do you just live out the time, and let the disease kill you on its terms? What if endless burning waves of pain is a part of this disease? And the doctors cannot give you enough morphine to stop the pain without killing you? (And they won’t, you know.) What if this disease takes away all ability to live the life you had, or want to have? It slowly removes each ability for living: you can’t dance, you can’t walk, you can’t feed yourself, you can’t control your bladder or your bowels.

I am not just making these examples up to scare you. I have seen each of these happen and more than once. I was a nurse’s aide, dealing specifically with the geriatric population, for about 5 years, 3 years of which were served in a skilled nursing facility, aka “nursing home”. We had space for 40 residents and were always full. And in the 3 years I was there, I saw 50 deaths. You might say that I have more than the average person’s experience with death.

Fifty deaths in three years. Not one of those deaths was dignified, or how you’d like to see your grandmother or grandfather’s death…or yours.

It is not “dignified” to scream in pain for 6 days before dying, the cancer so wide spread that it can be felt under the skin. I watched a woman go through this. (The <very bad word> doctor of the nursing home refused to give her anything more than Tylenol.) It is not “dignified” to be catatonic, in the fetal position, with only a feeding tube providing energy for the body to keep ticking; with not even the movements available to a newborn baby. The saddest part of that was the fact that this resident’s (also elderly) spouse thought that their beloved was going to get up and walk again. It is not “dignified” to look younger in death than alive because the lines of constant pain are gone.

Death in our modern society has lost all semblance of dignity. Doctors who refuse to accept the obvious inevitability, insisting on medications and therapies to keep the person alive beyond what their body would have been able to do alone. Families who keep their loved one alive by insisting that the doctors do ALL they can to keep that person breathing. Death, gratuitous or “comedic” or gory, is perpetuated in films; we see people die all the time. But those people are actors. They get up after the filming is done, they go on to “die” in other movies. (Like poor Sean Bean.) We do not see death, the inevitable end of life, in the setting of our specific surroundings very often, perhaps not at all. I don’t mean no one in your family and friends has not or will not die–I just mean that you do not witness the moment of their death.

Having experienced this, I can tell you that death (for the elders) doesn’t usually come quickly. It’s generally not “one minute he was fine, just talking and eating, and the next, he was dead.” I know that that kind of death can occur, but it has been my experience that there is a real process to dying–and it’s not unlike being born. There is a “labor”, a particular pattern, to a person’s dying. As their body begins to shut down, they withdraw into themselves. It’s almost a dream state or deep meditation. They are less responsive, will stop eating, and may even be comatose.

The entire process takes a certain amount of time but may not have been recognized as end stage until the person has already reached the withdrawn/comatose stage. Their bodies also make less oxygen, so it’s not uncommon for them to feel cold (even while sweating). As the heart becomes weaker, circulation fails to adequately reach the hands and feet and they will become cool to touch and the nails maybe bluish, while the arms and legs may be pale, grey, mottled or purplish.  As they get nearer to death, there is a change in their breathing pattern (called Cheyne-Stokes breathing) consists of shallow quick breaths followed by spaces of no breathing; this can continue for a few days, hours or minutes before the person actually stops breathing, but rarely does a person improve from this stage.

The mysteries of death are like the mysteries of birth. Only those who are actively participating can know how it really felt. The rest of us, standing by and watching, experience the deep feeling of “something amazing happening”. Obviously for death, it may not be considered amazing, but both are an act that is beyond the comprehension of the watchers. It’s a spiritual, sacred event. How you frame that within your religious or spiritual beliefs is yours. Not everyone follows exactly the same set of beliefs we call “religion”; so your response to birth or death is a very personal one, of course.

But, again I tell you, there is nothing mysterious about the physical process of dying. Each stage can be noted and measured. Each “labor unto death” follows a documented and known order. Understanding the physical process can help with accepting the death of loved ones. Generally, it’s with the elders that we first experience death, which makes it somehow a little easier to accept–they were old, they were sick, they had lived a long life. Death at that point “makes sense”.

My first actual contact with death was not until I was almost 30 years old. Older relatives had died, but I hadn’t seen them do it. My family and I were at my grandmother’s side for her last weekend on Earth. Friends stopped by as the word got out that she was dying. She would struggle long enough to see who they were–and to all of them, she said, “I love you.” It was the most gentle death I have ever seen. She wasn’t in pain, she just slipped away from us as her own body knew it was time to shut down. It was, I think, a “dignified” death, done on terms that kept her humanity and soul both recognized and honored.

But…back to suicide and a chosen death.

I find it disgusting that we are allowed, even encouraged, to euthanize our pets, our beloved furry family members, when they are old or sick and have no quality of life. But gods forbid we should seek to do that for ourselves or for family members who have asked to be released from their body. Death is such a personal thing, why do we not have the power to make our own decisions about how? Or leave legal instructions for the manner of death we choose?

How many stories have you heard where one partner kills the other–at their pleading, because of great, untreated pain? And the one left behind then goes to jail for fulfilling a dying wish. We need to stop telling people how they will die, dictating the “correct” method of ending a life. We do not tell anyone how to be born, or arrest women who deliver the “wrong” way, whatever society decides is unacceptable.

Dr. Kervorkian (“Dr. Death”) offered a way of making the choice about death for oneself, at any point of  life. It was gentle, it was infallible and it was a vastly preferred method to dying in unending pain or the gradual, but inevitable and fatal loss of bodily function. Anyone who wants to use his machine has to have psychological therapy prior to being approved for this method. (So people who are merely (ha!) suicidal would not be given the chance.) The hallmark of an “acceptable” form of suicide is that it must be absolutely ensured or it fails as a method of dying. Guns can miss, pills can be pumped out of the stomach; hanging may end being a long struggle as you are slowly suffocated, instead of an instant death with the neck being broken; cutting your wrists is frequently nonfatal. We need the same assurance for suicide as we do for the euthanasia of our pets: to die without struggle and to DIE. No chance of resuscitation, no botched attempts at all. Suicide needs methods that are absolutely final.

After all, who are we, to judge another person’s choices about their own life, or the ending thereof?

It’s very easy for someone who is not dying, who is not in intractable pain, to say that God will banish them to Hell for killing themselves. I also acknowledge that there are those who are dying, in terrible pain, that believe they must live this way “until the Lord calls them home.” I respect everyone’s spiritual paths; I also respect each person’s right to make decisions about themselves based on their own beliefs. I don’t respect trying to make decisions for others, without regard to their personal situation and spiritual path. I have found several sites here on the Interwebs that try to use various Bible verses to say that suicide is just a form of murder, so it’s a no-go. That God made you as His temple and you shouldn’t destroy God’s temple. But those verses do not say, “Thou shalt not commit self-murder or suicide.” If this was so terribly important to God, one assumes that He would have stated it specifically and as plainly as the other commandments (there are a lot more than 10; there’s several hundred–and none of them say “no suicide”).

But even if you can find a verse that would support the “kill yourself, go to Hell” reason, what about this one:”God’s temple”: what is the temple? Is it your physical body, or is it your immortal soul? How is it evil? Evil people kill others. Someone who wants to kill themselves is not evil–just in terrible, terrible pain, physically or mentally. I view those who do this as passing a judgment on that person. And when someone says, “If you commit suicide, you will go to Hell”, they are judging another person, taking Jesus Christ’s role as if it were their own. There are some pretty direct verses that address judging others.

To live or not to live is probably THE most private and personal decision anyone could ever make. I don’t care what your point of view about it, what your religion says about it, or (most especially) what society says should happen. It’s nobody’s business but the person whose life is in question–and only theirs, even if they are married, have a big family, lots of friends, whatever.

When it is done successfully, there is no more pain, no more failing body, no more overwhelming depression for the person who has committed suicide. Those who are left behind are the ones who are left suffering. I believe that the loss would be easier to bear if we knew that this was their decision for their life and we support them in that decision. If you know that you have done all that you could to help someone but they still choose suicide…don’t think that you’ve failed. We come back to this simple statement: they CHOSE to end their lives. It is NOT a reflection on you, on anything you did or didn’t do; it has nothing to do with you.

An unforeseen suicide often is shattering for those left behind. Perhaps they weren’t given the opportunity to offer comfort or help. They may not understand the reason for choosing death. It is still that person’s choice and needs to be accepted, if not honored, for that reason.

Anything that can help someone make the choice that offers a better way then eating a gun or taking pills, has to be, at the very least a step in the chosen–and right– direction.

And to close, a brief essay that I share when someone’s pet dies; this could also hold true for a human’s death, if you believe in an afterlife:
(my changes to make it apply to a human appear in parentheses)

The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal (someone) dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet (person) goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends (loved ones) so they can run and play (exist) together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends (loved ones) are warm and comfortable.

All the animals (of those) who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals (They) are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone (people) very special to them, who had to be left behind.
They all run and play (exist in joy) together, but the day comes when one (your loved one) suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend loved one) finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head (hold onto them in a hug), and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet (loved one), so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

~~Anonymous