Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Republicans' Forty Pieces of Silver


I think I'm going to have to back off on politics and Facebook for a while. Watching what is happening to my country is just too depressing as a daily diet. I belong to a group called The Deplorables. I don't know how that happened. I certainly never "liked" their page and I never share their posts. Still, for some reason, they are always the first posts on my timeline....sometimes six or seven in a row....or more. How does that happen do you suppose? Do they pay Facebook to get preferential placement? I've often thought that a significant number of them must be Russian bots trying to sow distrust and division among Americans. If so, they are doing a great job. We all know, as the old saying goes, "politics ain't beanbag." It can be rough and dirty. If you are thin-skinned, you might want to stay out of the political kitchen. But The Deplorables are beyond rough and dirty. They are vicious; they are vile; they are malevolent. They are hate-filled in a way I've never seen in America before. They are frightening.

And, oh, do they love themselves some Donald Trump. The nastier he is, the more they adore him.

For all my early years, I loved the political skirmish. Ronald Reagan and George Bush were my least favorite presidents but I didn't despise them and I didn't despise their supporters. I didn't think they were traitors. I didn't think they hated America. I believed politics was a cycle. You win some and lose some. When you lose, you fight to win the next time and the other side does the same. We all had America's best interests at heart, we simply disagreed on how to achieve them.

Now, I'm sitting here in mid-America thinking America has totally lost it's way and that has been going on since long before Trump. He is just the culmination of it.

I believe it started with Bill Clinton's impeachment. The Republican's knew what Clinton did was not a high crime or misdemeanor but it seems that this is the time they decided they would no longer play by any rules. They just wanted to win....period. Ken Starr had been the special prosecutor for 14 months before we heard of Monica Lewinsky. It was an investigation in search of a crime. And putting all Clinton's most personal information on the internet was just an extra humiliation. They did it because they could add that extra jab, not because it was "the public's right to know", as they claimed.

And then came Obama and again the Republicans put all the traditions and rules and customs and honor of Congress behind them. They obstructed everything Obama tried to do, even things they believed in before, like the Individual Mandate and Cap and Trade. They engaged in endless, expensive investigations that went nowhere although they got tons of mileage out of their scurrilous allegations.  They held up Obama's nominations so there were judgeships and leadership positions kept vacant. The last straw was holding up the nomination of a Supreme Court justice for an entire year.

During the Obama years, it was the Tea Party that made the false claims about the president not being born in the U.S., being a Muslim, hating America and those of us who voted for him got tarred with the same brush. I guess they've morphed into the Deplorables. In the last few years, I've been called a communist, a socialist, a libtard, a traitor and an America hater.

That brings us to Donald Trump. We have actually elected a man totally unfit to be our president. He's erratic and unstable. He's cruel and corrupt. He's ignorant and crude. There is not a single molecule of class in his entire bullying, braggartly soul. Our allies hate him, our enemies love him. He's a racist and a misogynist.

And again, it is all down to the Republicans. He belongs to them. They could exercise some semblance of control over this monstrous man but they don't because they need him to rip off our healthcare, reward their donors, and screw us on "tax reform". It's too late for them. They sold their soul to the devil long ago and now he's come to collect our democracy. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Where Is Your Dividing Line?

I'm ashamed to admit, I've always been a somewhat self-indulgent political activist. While others were out carrying signs and boycotting various businesses, I wrote some words about my views and called it a day. Boycotts have always been around but we seem particularly prone to them now.

I never get pizza from Papa John's, not only because I can't stand him, but because I think his pizzas are crappy. I've only had Chik-Fil-A a couple of times and I thought they were about on par with every other fast food chicken sandwich I ever ate. I've never patronized Hobby Lobby but it is because I've never been able to make a flower out of  tissue or a cute little pipe cleaner guy.

I have the opposite problem as most conservatives when it comes to sports. I favor the side of the kneeling football players but I don't like watching football. NASCAR is my sport and they have warned the drivers not to kneel, not that I think any of them would anyway. Why would they? We will have an African-American driver in 2018 and that will bring us clear up

But, it doesn't matter, I'm not giving up NASCAR. It would be cutting off my nose to spite my face and I'm too selfish to do that.

There are liberal websites that will keep you up to date on all the places you're suppose to boycott but its too hard. Take the Koch Brothers. Every liberal despises the Koch Brothers but they make about half the stuff in the United States, from energy to plastics to paper towels to plywood and on and on and on. Good luck not adding to their bottom line.

I'm supposed to boycott Amazon. I'm not exactly sure why but it is irrelevant because it will never happen. I love Amazon. I buy lots of books there and I got my last microwave and my last printer (after reading all the reviews) from them...delivered right to my door.

I detest Walmart but I still go there sometimes because it is conveniently located here in town. I'd like to support Target's bathroom policy but Target is 40 miles away. I'm sorry, but my political passions don't extend that far.

And not everything is all black or all white. We are currently going through allegation after allegation of sexual harassment and trying to decide what to do about them. Do we vote for harassing politicians anyway if they espouse the causes we believe in? Do we continue to watch the comedian if he makes us laugh? Or do we boycott the producer's movies even though past experience tells them we will enjoy them.

I was asked once what movies I watched more than once. The answer was: The Lethal Weapon movies and Braveheart. All of them starred Mel Gibson, who I realize is a detestable human being. Would I watch them again in light of his ugly behavior? Yes. I would have voted for Ted Kennedy every time he ran for office if I lived in Massachusetts even though his personal life was a yuck. I thought he was a great senator. Hell, I'd vote for Bill Clinton again. When I found out George Michael was a gay alcoholic hot mess, I loved his music just the same.

So how far are we willing to go with this and where is the dividing line?

There are people who are mediocrely good and mediocrely bad. They do a few good things and a few bad things. That's most of us. But other people are spectacularly good and spectacularly bad. If a famous artist is a total jerk who uses and manipulates the people around him, is his art still praisworthy? Should we burn his paintings or can we separate superior talent from being a total ass?

I guess we all have to decide these questions for ourselves.

Friday, November 17, 2017

One Extreme to the Other

America runs everything into the ground. Take sexual harassment. When I was 15, I was the victim of attempted rape. The perpetrator was my cousin's husband's cousin. I couldn't talk about it because the boys, his friends, threatened to tell everyone at high school I was a slut. I was a sophomore and afraid. I kept my mouth shut.

It was not a defining moment in my life.  I did not have PTSD because of it. I could talk about it, then and now, without crying. I mostly forgot about it.

I worked as a bartender/waitress in a rowdy rock and roll bar. There were many instances of milder forms of harassment - unwanted kisses, breast touches, butt grabbing. I, like most of the women I knew, simply shrugged those situations off. 

Not every incident is the same. I felt not much anger at some of our customers whom I liked when they weren't being drunk and stupid. I'd give them a little push and say, "will you stop it?"

There were others from whom I sensed more malign intentions.

"Do that I again and I'll get you thrown out of here," I'd say....and they knew I meant it.

It doesn't matter what industry you are in. Doctors do it, lawyers do it, teachers do it, actors do it and politicians certainly do it. It's been going on forever and we didn't care...until recently. Now we've decided to get hysterical about the subject. Now we want to re-litigate every accusation. Well, unless the accused is someone we like, that is. I'll admit, I thought President Clinton got a raw deal. Certainly, it was true about Monica but the others? I don't know. Most of them were paid hefty sums by right wing conspiracy groups like Judicial Watch who'd been after the Clintons for years and still are. I thought he was an excellent president so I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Monica didn't even come up until 14 months after Ken Starr had been appointed Special Prosecutor to find something - anything - to nail him with.

Now people are saying - "he should have resigned." Well, that's over and done with. What about the serial predator we have in the White House right now? Should he resign? I despise him and I wish he would resign but not necessarily because of sexual harassment.

We've flipped the switch in how we regard the women. We used to brush them off. Now we hasten to say we believe them.

If it is a recent case with some evidence behind it, I think we should believe them at least to the extent of doing an investigation. But I'm sorry, if it is years old, they should not be able to simply decide to make a charge and be believed if they have no proof except their word. 

I worked in the legal system for many years. I emerged from that experience with somewhat less faith in both women and men. They will both lie at times for venal reasons. She will accuse him of molesting their children because she wants custody. He will swear that she physically abused them because he wants custody. A man was just released from prison after six years when his accuser recanted. No one deserves to be believed just because they say so.

Companies and institutions like Congress need to have programs that give women support and encouragement. The one Congress has now is a pathetic joke. The law needs to take women more seriously. Co-workers need to back her up if they too have been harassed or have at least heard the stories a la Harvey Weinstein. Surely there were powerful women who could have taken him on long before now.

Women need to be more courageous about telling their stories. It isn't good enough to decide to speak out 15 years later. We need to be willing to do it now when we can nip it in the bud and not let a man go on for years preying on less powerful women.

I personally think we should set a statue of limitations, say, seven years. If you haven't spoken out by then, too bad, so sad. You lose.

But beyond that, we should let the men know that we will no longer tolerate them behaving this way. Congress, law enforcement, prosecutors, the judicial system and groups that represent professions should get serious and all should declare their willingness to throw out members who persist in being sexual harassers.

So be warned - our new attitude starts now.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Needed: A Hero

                                                        Image result for revolution

Well, get ready, Folks. According to all the far-right websites, Antifa (or maybe it's Black Lives Matter or maybe both) are going to start the revolution on Saturday, November 4th, only a few days away.

And the Righty's are positively gleeful about the prospect. They can hardly wait.

Some of their comments:

"Bring it on!"

"Finally, we'll get to kill some of those commie bastards!"

"Locked and loaded!"

"The streets will run red with liberal blood!"

Of course, I went to the websites of both Antifa and Black Lives Matter and I didn't see anything about revolution. They may be planning protests but why is this any different than White Nationalists and Nazis having protests in Charlottesville, Tennessee and Florida?

I have a couple of guns - a pistol and a Glock. I have high capacity magazines for the Glock but I doubt either is the weapon you'd choose for staving off a full-fledged revolution. I don't think I'd ever shoot anyone unless they actually broke into my house. I don't expect that to happen in Wabash, Indiana.

I never know on websites, such as The Deplorables, whether the people making such vile comments are really Americans or Russian bots trying to sow hatred and division among us. If it is mostly Russians, they are sure doing a  hell of a good job. You can almost see and smell and touch the hatred that oozes from these sites.

But no doubt many of them are Americans. Do they really think revolution would be fun? Do they really think bleeding bodies of fellow Americans would be cool to see? Do they really think this is the natural result they wanted when they bought all those guns?

What do they see as the end game? Do they honestly believe they can wipe out all us liberals or at least decimate us enough that we'd have no power to fight them so they could rule America as they please?  Donald Trump - Dear Leader for Life?

What we really need right now is a hero. A Franklin Roosevelt, a Bobby Kennedy, a Martin Luther King, Jr, a Nelson Mandela, a Ghandi. Obama tried to be that hero but the other side wasn't having any. This country that I thought was making progress obviously isn't ready for a Black or a female president. We crucify the first and turn the other into an evil witch.

I can't even imagine where we'd find a man with the integrity and powers of persuasion and eloquence and honor to be our hero. I don't see the man who can bring us together under the banner of American ideals anywhere on the horizon but I hope he's out there.