Monday, October 17, 2016

Agent Orange

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I hardly even know what to say about this election any more. I start to write about something, the last debate for instance, and before I can compose my thoughts, they are overtaken by the latest round of events.

At this point, I simply think of Donald Trump as Agent Orange, a poisonous herbicide meant to defoliate vast sections of America's entire democracy. Our system of government only works if the great majority of citizens respect it's tenets - the will of the people, the honesty of our elections, the integrity of most of its leaders, the truth of our media, the honor of our scientists, the decency of our businesses - the superiority of our system depend on the strength of these foundation posts. One by one, Donald Trump is undermining all of them.

Are there charlatans and liars and cheaters among us? Of course, we can always find those few examples but are they a small minority of the whole? Yes, I truly believe they are. I think most Americans are good people, be they democrats or republicans. I think most of our politicians try to live up to their campaign promises. I think most journalists try to write the truth. I think most businesses try to give value to their customers. I don't think our elections are rigged.

Donald Trump didn't start this. It started with Obama....or maybe even Clinton. Somehow people on the other side came to believe that if they couldn't win by voting, it was their right to win by other means - impeachment or weakening a president who gave them no cause. Claiming he was not an American or not a Christian, accusing him of treason. It was more than simple disagreement - they fed on loathing and it grew and grew. At the same time, they decided their own government was evil.

It all came to a head with Trump. The ultimate weapon against what America had always been, spraying his enraged venom in all directions, infecting millions of his fellow citizens with the virus of hate.

And win or lose, what will the aftermath be?  Land denuded by Agent Orange doesn't come back in a season. I don't think America will come back from the toxicity of Donald Trump for a long time.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Boys Will Be Boys - "Boys" Being the Key Word

Image result for soldiers partying

My husband was a Vietnam veteran and so were most of his closest friends. They could be, and often were, rude and crude and lewd. Those boys used all the words that Donald Trump said in his latest recording and probably some he'd never heard of. They rarely spoke a sentence that didn't contain the ever-utilitarian "f" word - noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc, etc. Sometimes, it was just there for the sake of being there. "Fuck, yes," or "fuck, no". Among their buddies, being called a cocksucker or a motherfucker was a term of endearment.

And they certainly weren't above being raging sexists, especially when they were drinking. They'd smack their lips when a pretty girl went by and say, "Jesus, I'd like to tear me off a piece of that." Or, ask, "I wonder if her pussy is as blonde as the hair on her head?" Or, moaning, "oh, Cunt, come here to Papa!" Yep, they were boorish and coarse, no getting around it.

But, here's the difference between them and Donald Trump. With them, it was all fantasy. It really was boisterous bragging, or locker room talk, if you will. They never acted on it. They had no power or glamour or celebrity to make any of those desires happen, so the only women they would ever "screw" or "fuck" or "get a piece of ass from" were those who were willing. And even then, the gross talk in front of their buddies was probably not at all the approach they would use face-to-face with a female.

And here's the second thing, most of them were in their 20's when I first knew them and not long back from war. By the time, they were in their 30's and 40's and beyond, the filthy talk had begun to abate. Most of them were married by then and had kids. I'm not saying they gave up the "f" word altogether or that they didn't still make sexual innuendos about a woman among their friends but mostly, they grew up and got over it.

The young men in this picture did what they did to support Prince Harry of England, who himself is somewhat prone to scandal, like allowing nude pictures of himself to show up in the tabloids. But Harry is young and handsome and buff and still sowing his wild oats so perhaps we can forgive him his lapses in judgment.

And you know what else? Some in Britain may disapprove but they can't do anything about it 'cause Harry is a prince. They have no choice in the matter because you don't elect a prince. Prince's don't need votes but presidential candidates do.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

High School Deja Vu

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I took a nap so I'd be sure to be able to stay up for the debate and the post-debate analysis. I was hugely interested in what transpired between the two of them. I figured this debate had the potential to change the course of the election, depending on how it went. In my heart, I figured Hillary would win going away if it came down to being prepared and being cool, calm and collected and having a presidential demeanor. But, as we know from past experience, these virtues don't always rule the day when it comes to Donald Trump. He beat 16 opponents in the Republican primaries who were prepared and cool, calm and collected. So that made me nervous.

Here are just some things that struck me. It isn't an exhaustive list and it's not in any particular order, just some after-thoughts I was left with when it was over.

1) Lester Holt asked Trump how he felt about Obama possibly changing America's current posture on whether we would rule out a "first-strike" for using nuclear weapons. Trump seemed to not have a clue what he was talking about. He first said, we'd never resort to a first-strike but then said, on the other hand, that he would take nothing off the table. Was that a yes or a no? I couldn't tell. I found it stunning that someone who has been running for president for so long hadn't made himself intimately familiar with probably the most important responsibility a president has - the nuclear option.

2) He said rooting for a housing collapse was just good business on the part of a real estate man. Forget how losing their homes would affect millions of families in a heartbreaking way. I guess this is that businessman mentality we need in a president.

3) He said it was smart not to pay any taxes if you could get away with it....and billionaires usually can get away with it. Reminded me of Leona Helmsly, the Queen of Mean, who said "only little people pay taxes".

He said maybe all those employees and small businesses he refused to pay in full after they did work for him deserved it because they "didn't do a good job".  And of course, he almost always wins these types of case because he has the money to keep them in court forever.

4) He once again said we should have taken Iraq's oil - which back in the era of Genghis Khan would have been normal but in the 2000's would be a war crime.

5) He once again tried to protect Vladimir Putin against the charge issued by the FBI with "high confidence" that Russia is hacking our government websites. Hey, it could have been a 400 pound man on a bed! Or it could be Donald's own 10-year-old son who is amazing with computers. But surely not Donald's old buddy, Vlad.

6) He said he couldn't release his taxes as he was under audit which isn't true, as the IRS has stated, so then he said he'd release his taxes when Hillary released her e-mails. But he'd also said that he'd release his taxes when Obama released his birth certificate. The president did release his birth certificate but Trump never released his taxes.

7) And speaking of Obama's birth certificate, Trump denied that he'd kept the birther myth alive long after Obama presented it, but that wasn't true. He never accepted Obama's place of birth until recently and even then he wasn't very convincing. He made it sound as if "okay, I'm going to say this to get it over with but I don't really believe it".

8) He justified calling Miss Universe, Alicia Mercado, Miss Piggy because she'd gained weight and Miss Housekeeping because she was Latina because, my God, she'd gained weight, and we all know how women lose all value if they get fat...although it is obviously fine for men, Donald not being exactly sleek and slim in his old age. And besides that - Rosie O'Donnell, who deserved everything she got! Huh?

9) He repeated that he still doesn't think Hillary has "the look" to be president but maybe that sounded a little too sexist, even for him, so he switched to stamina, wink, wink - because women are the weaker sex, don't you know?

10) He said he would re-institute "stop and frisk" in big cities and confiscate guns that were found. You'd think this would send the N.R.A. berserk but maybe not so much, since it would mostly happen to Blacks and Hispanics.

11) Fact-checkers found that Trump lied or mis-stated facts 34 times during the debate. The count was 4 for Hillary. He said Ford was moving jobs to Mexico. Ford responded instantly, saying they were moving their small car production to Mexico but no American jobs would be lost

He said "stop and frisk" wasn't determined to be unconstitutional. It was. He said crime went up when the "stop and frisk" program was ended by Mayor DeBlasio. It didn't. He said he was opposed to the Iraq War from the beginning. Video of him shows that he wasn't. He said that he was opposed to America's actions in Libya. Video shows that he was all for deposing Quaddafi. He said Hillary had been trying to get rid of ISIS her whole life which is patently ridiculous.

12) He interrupted Hillary constantly. He talked over her. He interjected words like "Wrong!" and "False!". He sniffed. My God, if Hillary had sniffed as much as him, the right-wing would have had her going directly from the debate to Intensive Care! He made gargoyle faces whenever he wasn't speaking.

When it was over, I was ecstatic. I thought Hillary won "bigly" and most rational analysts seemed to agree. The scientific polls agreed. Those on-line polls where people can sit and vote and vote are totally useless but Trump trumpeted them. Of course, he thought he won EVEN THOUGH he had to endure a microphone conspiracy and a moderator conspiracy and a Hillary wearing an earpiece conspiracy! And he said Hillary was mean. Think how majorly he'd have triumphed if it hadn't been for all those strikes against him!

It is still hard to predict this election because the presence and success of Donald Trump had turned it totally weird. This election makes me feel like I'm back in high school. She stays up all night studying and gets an A; he plays around and throws something together at the last minute and gets a D. She organizes the Science Fair; he plays football. She serious; he's clownish. He gets elected Senior Class president.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Can We Sink Any Lower?

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Cute, huh?

Just today I have seen headlines on Facebook telling me that Obama took a knee in honor of Colin Kaepernick during the National Anthem. Not true.

And that he had ordered the Secret Service not to let the press get close to Donald Trump. Not True.

And that he has banned "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance. Not only that, he's banned the Pledge of Allegiance altogether! Not true.

(And we're coming up on the holidays so can the "there is no Christmas tree in the White House" or "he's forbidden White House staff to say Merry Christmas accusations be far behind?)

I've read in recent posts that Hillary may have Multiple Sclerosis or maybe it's Parkinson's or maybe a brain tumor. Who knows? It's something severe though. And those times you see her looking good. Why, that's her body double.

The majority of Republicans still believe Obama is not an American, despite Donald Trump's oh-so-sincere take back of his long-held belief that the President was born in Kenya. They wink at one another. "It's just Donald trying to change the subject, don't take it seriously."

Many of them still believe Hillary and Bill are are serial killers, guilty not just of a couple murders but lots of them, God knows how many.

They believe the Obama/Clinton team literally want to destroy America and turn it over to the Muslim terrorists. Tell them about all the Muslim terrorists the U.S. has bombed how many of their leaders we've killed and they ignore it or deny it. It doesn't compute with their world view. They never explain exactly why they think the President and Hillary would want to do this

Things that were never an issue before are now matters of outrage. Rounds of golf, vacations, trips on Air Force One, clothing worn by presidential children, gowns worn by the First Lady which manage to be 1) way expensive designer dresses insulting to the American taxpayers who pay for them and at the very same time,  2) trashy, cheap "n" word shit.

Oh, I know, we liberals aren't above some crappy little memes about Trump too but I honestly believe we never sink quite as low as the Republicans. Our takedowns are usually satirical and they can be biting but they usually aren't just fucking ugly and stupid like the one above.

It never ceases to amaze me that people I like and respect and consider intelligent can fall for this lunacy. I've never hated anyone as viscerally as they hate Obama and Hillary. My only conclusion is that loathing that bone-deep simply perverts your thinking to such an extent that it becomes a form of psychosis.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Hey, Mr Republican, Are You A Cuck?

Image result for pepe the frog           Image result for pepe the frog

Finally, after decades of living in the shadows, of being excoriated on all sides, of being exiled to ultra-right conservative websites, the so-called Alt-Right has found itself a champion to bring them into the mainstream. Who would have dreamed it would be an American candidate for president who would give them more legitimacy than they have ever had before?

I don't think they admire Trump quite as much as they do Vladimir Putin, who after all, makes sure Russia remains all all-white nation, but he is sure better than any other potential president in recent times....or maybe ever.

The alt-right is a conglomeration of groups, really, but they all share a similar philosophy of white nationalism and a hatred of  "others" and by others, they mean anyone who isn't lily-white. They despise African-Americans, whom they believe are the least intelligent of the various races (with Latinos next to them at the bottom). They detest Muslims and most of all, they loathe Jews. They would like to turn America into an all-white nation, by expelling (or killing?) everyone else.  They have no fear of talking about things like gas chambers and cattle cars in polite conversation.

The alt-right is sexist too but I suppose they don't want to ban women, seeing as how they have their necessary long as they know their places.

They have taken Pepe the Frog as their avatar. They say they like his smug willingness to tell the "truth". Roger Stone (Donald Trump's friend and adviser) as well as his son, Don Jr., both re-tweeted The Deplorables, see above, from an alt-right website.

"Oh, gee," said Young Donald, "I had no clue that the frog was an alt-right symbol." (His father claimed the same ignorance). Really? Did you not wonder who in the heck that frog was there between you and Rudy Giuliani? Weren't you curious enough to question what it represented?

This is all rather strange considering that Stephen K Bannon, the CEO of his father's campaign is the former head of Breitbart, considered the official platform of the alt-right (though privately, a lot of the alt-right consider Bannon a little squishy). You'd think Bannon would inform the Trumps of such elementary information, wouldn't you?

One of the alt-right's favorite put-downs is calling someone a "cuckservative" or just cuck, for short. A cuck represents an emasculated Republican conservative. In other words, they are gutless conservatives without balls enough to take alt-right positions.

This is your candidate, Republicans, or cucks as the alt-right calls you. Makes you proud, doesn't it?

If you want to know more about what the alt-right represents, I recommend reading this article in this link.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

The Wrong Lessons From 911

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Yes, 911. We should never forget, especially never forget to honor all the heroes and heroines who showed incredible bravery on that day and all the families and friends who had to live through that agony.

Beyond that, I think we took all the wrong lessons from 911. Ironically, it was New York we should have followed. New Yorkers were determined to go on with their normal lives as much as it was possible to do so in between the chaos and the heartbreak. It was New York that stood proud, determined not to let the terrorists win psychically even despite the terrible pain they inflicted upon us. It was New York that showed courage in facing the missing heart of their skyline.

The rest of us, not so much. We cancelled our vacations and bought duct tape and gas masks. We nodded our heads fervently when our leaders said we needed a new agency, the expensive and secretive Department of Homeland Security. Maybe they'd have to engage in black ops. "Just don't tell us about it", we said.When they informed us of the need for domestic surveillance, we were all in favor. "We doan need no steenken warrants". We were beyond agreeable when they said we needed to go to war - twice. Once in Afghanistan and again in Iraq, where way more Americans were killed than died in the World Trade Center. All because of 911 even though Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with 911.

When we were told we couldn't afford our principles anymore, we were fine with that. Throw them overboard! Torture, extreme rendition, imprisoning people with no clear evidence that they'd ever done anything wrong, no habeas corpus, no due process, no right to testify on your own behalf. The hell with those core American beliefs. Throw them in Gitmo and let them rot! Waterboarding? No problemo.

And, of course, we turned a skeptical eye on all Muslims. Donald Trump said he watched them celebrating in the streets across from New York, which wasn't true, but it fit into our new narrative. Muslims were now the enemy and hell, let's throw in the Buddhists and Hindus while we're at it. It's too hard to tell those weird-ass religions apart.

Fifteen years after 911, which brought us together for about 15 minutes, we're more divided than ever. We not only don't trust Muslims, we don't trust Hispanics either. We don't trust African-Americans, most especially our African-American president. We don't trust LBGTQ people. Every transgender is a potential rapist because God knows, good American white boys would never rape.

We don't even trust each other. Facebook is awash with vitriolic posts about how awful liberals are or how awful conservatives are. Of course, being a liberal myself, I think the worst of it comes from the conservative side. Donald Trump is a perfect vehicle for their hatred of anything not conservative true-blue American. Even liberal churches aren't considered "real" Christian churches by the fundamentalists. There is only one right way and it is their way.

There was a post on Facebook just today with this very picture at the top of this blog that said to "defend it because liberals were trying to get it taken down". What utter bullshit! This picture is just as iconic to liberals as it is to conservatives. Those things are just posted to provoke, to try to get us turn on one another even more.

These are the real scars of 911. Buildings can be rebuilt and even the grief of losing loved ones lessens with time. The worst thing the terrorists did to us was to turn us against each other.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Other Side of the Story

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I work with lower income people in my job, every week day and sometimes on the weekends. They aren't the so-poor-they've-given-up poor. Rather, they are the still-struggling-to-keep-their-heads-above-water poor. Most of them work. Most of them have kids.

I get so sick of reading negative memes about them on Facebook from people who don't know jack about what they are talking about.

No, they aren't scamming the system. No, they don't buy steak and lobster with their EBT card. No, they don't live in fancy houses or drive expensive cars.  Yes, most of them have cell phones. These are their only phones. A lot of times their phones get shut off. They call me from a friend's phone to let me know theirs won't be working until they can afford to get it reactivated.

Some of them look really nice, not like they are poor at all. They know how to style their hair and wear flattering make up and choose attractive clothes (that they often buy at garage sales or Good Will). Would you feel better if they were so beaten down they no longer worried about such things? If their hair was straggly and their clothes were raggy? Would that allow you to feel superior?

My job is to find them attorneys who'll take their cases pro bono (for free). Their stories of how they arrived at the places they are are in are sad. No, it wasn't stupidity (though it may have been ignorance) and it wasn't drugs and it wasn't laziness. It was sometimes poor judgment. They trusted people they shouldn't have trusted. And it was sometimes short-sightedness. Poor people from poor families have a difficult time planning for the future. To the young ones, going to college and joining the middle class seems as impossible as flying to the moon. They have no experience with goals or delayed gratification to achieve those goals.

Sometimes, the misfortune of life simply caught up with them. Their husbands left, their good jobs left, someone in the family got seriously sick. They slid down gradually and now they fight not to slide any farther.

They get screwed by almost everyone around them. They get cheated by "buy here, pay here" places that sell them pieces of crap that fall apart shortly after the so-called "warranty" expires....but they still get sued for the balance of the debt.

Slum lords take advantage of them with rental agreements that are written totally for the benefit of the landlord. They get evicted, then they get sued for way more than they ever owed.

Banks treat them like second-class citizens by charging ATM fees or check cashing fees. If they can get a loan, the interest rate is higher than yours or mine. If they get a credit card with a $250-$500 line of credit, they end up paying back more than they borrowed by the time you add in interest and late payment fees. Yes, poor people are often late on their payments. Sometimes, it is hard to choose between the getting the car fixed or making the car payment. And, of course, those payday check places are nothing but legalized thievery. They don't have a prayer against the professional institutions that write the rules.

Sometimes, they smoke and sometimes they have pets. Oh. My. God. Don't they realize they are poor and they aren't allowed any of the pleasures that make life worth getting up for every morning?

The holier-than-thou sanctimony of some of their critics makes me freaking sick. Let's eliminate certain foods that are too good for them from the food-stamp-approved purchases. Let's not let them go to restaurants. Let's drug test them all. In other words, let's make being poor as humiliating as we possibly can. Maybe that will make them get off their lazy butts and go to work.

The government is taking our tax money to support them and how indignant that makes many of us even though most Americans are only a paycheck or two away from poverty ourselves. Better hope you stay lucky. You won't like the way you are treated if you're not.