Tag Archives: politics

On the Need to Make Great Things Great Again

Among my plans for the day, today, was to put together a quick writeup congratulating the staff of Penguicon for throwing an undeniably successful convention—the 15th in a series! Instead, I’d like to take a moment to respond to a long-time attendee’s paen to modern divisive politics; a blog post with the snappy title “Make Penguicon Great Again.” In his post, Jay “Tron Guy” Maynard makes the assertion that Penguicon has fallen to the “leftists” and resulting event is no longer one that is comfortable for people like him.  Continue reading On the Need to Make Great Things Great Again

Posting Problems

I’ve been having a lot of trouble actually posting anything here. It’s not that I don’t have tons to write, it’s the opposite: I am constantly inspired to write things, but they’re all about politics.

I really don’t want to just blog about politics all of the time.

To begin with—and contrary to the makeup of this blog lately—I’m not really exceptionally politically active usually. As a result, I’m not an ideal person to write about politics. I’m rabidly moderate and unevenly informed, not the stuff from which political screeds should probably be derived.

I try to keep generally up to date on the news, and sometimes that process results in my having a strong opinion on a specific item. On those occasions, I write about it—as much to make sense of it to myself as to spread my thoughts to others. Sometimes, those posts spawn a great conversation on Twitter. Less frequently, they spawn a great conversation on Facebook. I enjoy that, but not enough to make it the bulk of what is posted here.

So I’m having trouble writing anything of substance that isn’t about politics lately (I wonder why?) and I don’t really feel like posting most of the political posts that I jam out each week. I’m sort of caught between what I’d like to do and what I’m actually doing.

Hopefully, before this posts tomorrow morning, I’ll have come up with a solution…but I doubt it. I suspect I’ll just post less often until things normalize a bit or until I get sufficiently sick of our political scene as to feel like writing about something else instead.

Kill the Messenger

I had a friend when I was in my early 20s named Dave. He wasn’t a great guy, but then, neither was I at the time. Among his other less-than-stellar qualities, Dave was constantly cheating on his girlfriend.

This had been going on as long as I’d known him. His girlfriend spent most nights at his place, but on those nights once or twice each week that she stayed at her place he invariably had one of a handful of women over instead. He rarely spent a night alone.

Dave also enjoyed antagonizing his neighbor. For some reason, he thought it was hilarious to park half in his own driveway and half on his neighbor’s lawn. Most of the hilarity was probably derived from the red-faced, apoplectic approach his neighbor had to informing Dave that he had “done it again.”

Ultimately, the two avenues of my friend’s dickishness collided: the neighbor let Dave’s girlfriend know of Dave’s extracurricular activities. Tammy came by for an unexpected visit one night, and after the requisite fireworks, it was over.

What I remember most, though, was being at the bar that weekend commiserating with everyone over Dave’s terrible fortune. Dave—for his part—was incensed; his nosy neighbor had no business interfering and his girlfriend was an asshole for breaking his trust and coming over unannounced on the say-so of his neighbor.

I found myself thinking about Dave quite a bit last week while I watched President Trump melt down on Twitter and even more while I read the coverage that followed.

What we know, at this point, is that Flynn did talk about the sanctions which may or may not have been illegal. Obviously Flynn found it shady enough to lie about, and that lie is where the trouble really begins, because that lie is what makes him susceptible to blackmail. While Flynn has resigned, it’s fair to guess we haven’t heard the last of this particular issue.

Like Dave, Trump is focused very intently on how he was wronged…about how someone is leaking to the press, how those complaining are sore losers, and how it’s all overblown anyway. The entire thing is “fake news” despite it being based on leaks that Trump confirms are accurate—a feat of mental gymnastics that should defy the imagination but somehow lands with an unsettling number of people.

Neither Dave nor Trump are especially good at taking responsibility, and as it turns out, their supporters seem reluctant to hold them responsible for their own actions in general. There is a reason for that.

Dave and I didn’t speak for a decent while because I had the temerity to, after listening to the same whines for the millionth time, blurt out some truth at him—to hold him responsible for his actions.

“Who cares about the neighbor, you were cheating on her you idiot!”

I hope someone in Trump’s circle is doing the same for him.

But I doubt it.

Politics as Usual?

I made the mistake of logging into Facebook this evening and reading the general mishmash that shows up on the timeline. Typically–on the rare occasions that I sign into the site at all–I have a restricted list of people that I skim through and then I go on with my day. Facebook is mostly an outbound mechanism for my Tweets to visit.

Today, though, I ran into a political post that I just had to respond to. Because these things on Facebook have an alarming tendency to just magically disappear (weird, eh) I thought I’d reproduce my rant here. I’ll not provide the original post (it’s not my post to share), but I will say the following:

  • It was a link to this article with a clickbait intro saying something to the effect of “this dude won’t go to the inauguration, and his reason will infuriate you.”
  • The post sharing it opined that “America has spoken” in electing Trump, that “America has had to deal with 8 years of this sort of thing”, and that Trump is our president and we should deal with it.
  • The post further opined (and I’m not exaggerating here) that this must be racism because Trump is white and the representative is black–since the reason that things like claiming Obama wasn’t an American was called racist was because a white person said it.
  • The post ended by pointing out that Trump’s election is a sign of the thoughts and feelings of the American people, so we should get over it.

The problem that I had was not with any of these individual points on their own–I’ve seen and scrolled past far more egregious examples in these past few months. My problem wasn’t even with the sum of these snidely delivered opinions in aggregate. No, the thing that struck me as compelling enough to write a knee-jerk rant was the implication that this is just politics as usual. That sentiment is driving me mad, and I’m seeing it everywhere. People saying “Clinton supporters are upset that they lost” or “we dealt with Obama, now you can deal with Trump” as if, by pretending that the problems are merely disagreement with a political agenda, it would erase the actual issues in play.

Insanity!

At any rate, my response was as follows:

First..and this is a pretty key point: the American people have not spoken…at least not in the way you imply. The American people (which would be indicated by the popular vote) have spoken in favor of Clinton. I bring this up not to indicate that she should be President, but to ensure that you don’t get mired in a grossly inaccurate statement right from the top. The American people have spoken, we instead chose to listen to the American electoral system.
And that is the right call. We should have listened to the American electoral system. It’s how this all works. So you’re right (even if for the entirely wrong reason); he’s our President-elect by virtue of the mechanism we should be using.
 
Your conclusion, however, is beyond flawed. First, you seem to think that the reason people said that various racist things were racist was solely based on the fact that the two folks in question were opposite races. That shows that you don’t listen. That’s fair, in reality most of us do an abysmal job of escaping our filter bubble (and that includes me), so it makes sense that you wouldn’t have heard much from beyond it’s noisy walls. Wrong, and excusable.
 
The inexcusable wrong, though, is to think that Americans have put up with 8 years of what is going on now. As a Republican until just a few months ago, I think I’d remember 8 years of active attacks on the ability of the press to do it’s job in holding folks accountable. I suspect I’d recall 8 years of increasing suspicion that our President was an agent of (or at least entirely too cozy with) an unfriendly foreign government—I further believe I’d recall our President spending 8 years preventing the investigation of that relationship. I’d definitely have some hazy inklings in the deepest recesses of my mind if our President spent 8 years threatening to make databases of people of a given religion, expressing approval of religious tests for citizenship, and appointing actual white supremacists to various roles in the government.
 
I disagree with MUCH of what Obama did, and I disagreed with much of what Bush did. This is not that. This isn’t political disagreement. This is genuine concern being expressed by a man elected to express exactly this sort of concern. This is the result of the FBI asking to be allowed to investigate a troubling relationship between a candidate and a foreign power and being denied the ability to do so. If Woodward and Bernstein had as murky an understanding of current events as you’re conveying here circa Watergate, Nixon would have had a much easier go of things.
 
So, you fumbled the mount, had a good time on the uneven bars, and completely blew the dismount…but I will say this, you ended exactly correctly: Trump represents the thoughts and feelings of a huge number of Americans, so if you’re paying attention, that should be absolutely terrifying.
 
I invite you to start paying attention.
 
* Brought to you by a lifelong Republican that recently broke to independent based on the party’s willingness to court this exact human being. This isn’t partisanship, it’s sanity.
This isn’t politics as usual people; and characterizing it as such says one of three things: you aren’t capable of recognizing the differences when they are posed to you, you aren’t willing to listen to the differences when posed to you, or you’re lying. Disagreeing with the sentiments expressed is rational (I mean, I think you’re wrong for disagreeing probably, but it’s rational). Hand waving a potential program of interference by a hostile foreign government off as “sore losers” is egregiously and dangerously stupid. Be better.

Disastrous Deciding Toward Fascism

In the spring of 2004, Pulitzer Prize winner Jared Diamond  delivered a lecture entitled “Why Do Some Societies Make Disastrous Decisions?” in which he discusses the plight of the Easter Islanders. It seems that1 the when the Polynesian people settled the island, it was covered in forest that they relied upon for their way of life. Over the course  of their limited time on the island, they slowly forested their way to societal collapse despite the inherent obviousness of what they were doing; a classic application of the frog-in-boiling-water allegory.2

In the US, our Polynesian lumberjacks are facilitating a slow slide into fascism4; death by a thousand axe cuts.

Continue reading Disastrous Deciding Toward Fascism

An Electoral Theory

I would like to apologize before you attempt to read this. I’m naturally pretty verbose, but this got out of hand even by my lofty standards. I’ve attempted to trim it back some, but, it remains quite the slog. I, personally, think it’s worth it. I’m also pretty biased.

I would like to begin with a few postulates—a few things that we can assume to be true for the sake of argument. I’m not trying to play any rhetorical games here, so I’ll attempt to show my work as I introduce each postulate (after a few up top that I hope to be relatively uncontested).

Continue reading An Electoral Theory

A Note on Election Results

We are just under 13 days until the election here in the US, and I would like to remind everybody of one simple fact that will remain true no matter what happens:

The person that is elected in roughly two weeks is our President-elect and will be our President starting in 2017. Regardless of whether or not you voted for him or her, regardless of whether or not you agree with his or her policies, that’s our President. Full stop. End of story.

Continue reading A Note on Election Results

Presidential Debate #1

Debates happened, in so far as you can call what was televised a “debate.” I think that heated argument would be a fairer characterization, but that might just be needlessly pedantic. Nothing especially surprising took place, that much is certain. While I live-tweeted my reactions to much of the proceedings, I thought I would take a minute to elaborate now, having had a day to process (and having watched it several more times).

Continue reading Presidential Debate #1

Heterosexual Pride Day

It appears that the sort of folks that always have to find a way to make everything about them (AllLivesMatter, anyone? NotAllMen right a bell?) have gotten #HeterosexualPrideDay trending on social media. At this point, it’s hard to muster anything more severe than disappointment in such a predictable set of actions.

Rather than get upset, since my upset is going to accomplish nothing productive, I’m choosing to observe Heterosexual Pride Day in my own way. I invite you to join me.

I choose to recognize that while there are zero states in which I can be fired for being heterosexual, you can still be fired for not being heterosexual in more than half of the states in our country. I take pride that it isn’t 100%, while continuing to do what I can to make it 0%.

I choose to take pride in the fact that while heterosexual people can assume that they will get joint custody of their children when they separate, it is only now becoming a possibility in some states. I recognize that we have a long way to go in order to resolve that disconnect.

I choose to be proud of the fact that there are increasing numbers of non-heterosexual people in the media that are not stereotypes, while still remembering to call it out when I hear someone referred to as “gay” or “faggy” for being different or for enjoying hobbies traditionally associated with the opposite gender.

I choose to recognize the fact that, while I can take pride in the fact that we have come a long way in terms of gay marriage, there are still states in which it is not legal.

This is how I choose to celebrate Heterosexual Pride Day; to take pride in how far things have come while recognizing how terribly far we have to go. #heterosexualprideday

Death Before Dishonor in the GOP

The news last night was aflutter with the fact that Jeb Bush’s campaign is over; he is no longer in the running for the GOP nominee for President in the 2016 race. It took perhaps two hours for the media to set upon his still warm corpse for the last bit of sustenance that his campaign could provide their hungry news cycles with articles discussing his flubs, detailing his downfall, and—perhaps most painfully—listing his saddest moments. It’s weird to have gotten to watch his flame-out in more-or-less real time. Continue reading Death Before Dishonor in the GOP

American Horror Story

I’ve been thinking an awful lot about this post lately. According to Evernote, I first bookmarked this for myself almost 2 years ago, but if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve almost assuredly seen it come across your social media feeds from time to time.

It’s worth a read; take a few minutes and do so. It’s certainly a better expenditure of your time than continuing on here. I’ll wait.

Welcome back. I have thoughts… Continue reading American Horror Story

History Repeats Itself

A few months ago, I wrote a lengthy post describing the various ways that I found Donald Trump’s deplorable campaign to feel eerily reminiscent to that of a circa-1920s Adolf Hitler. As I wrote and rewrote my post describing the way that both of them tugged very similar chords within a very similar group of people, I just couldn’t find happiness with the wording. At its core, no matter how you slice it, I’m essentially calling someone ‘Hitler’ which has become a lazy shorthand among ignorant people for ‘someone with whom I disagree strongly.’ Continue reading History Repeats Itself

Building a Theocracy: Step 1

My social media is fairly bipolar. By any rational standards I’m fairly centrist in my views, which leaves me appearing fairly liberal in an America that keeps trying to skew itself radically to the right. By virtue of being a pretty mixed bag of liberal and conservative views (on a Nolan scale I tend to land fairly consistently near the center of the bottom edge of the north-east quadrant) the folks that I read and that I follow are all over the map. So when some ignorant bigot named Kim Davis has opted to “follow a higher law” than the SCOTUS and not give marriage licenses for religious reasons, it has made the divide amongst those I read even more apparent than usual.

This is troubling, because there are some pretty simple concepts at work here, but the most obvious one is stupidly simple: this is protecting you, you fucking religious nutbags!

Freedom of religion not only doesn’t give anyone the freedom to foist their religious beliefs off on others, but it very specifically prevents the government (or officials acting on behalf of the government) to foist their beliefs off on patrons of the government’s services. Let’s think about it this way: would it be acceptable for a person of Muslim faith to deny liquor licenses for religious reasons? Or one of Jewish faith denying a business license to a restaurant serving bacon? Or one of Catholic faith denying a marriage license to a divorced person (*cough*)? Or one of Hindu faith denying a business license to a restaurant serving beef? These are also the purview of the same sort of government officials that you want to have the ability to not fulfill their duty on religious grounds.

So you, Christians who were so inattentive in grade-school social studies as to believe that our founding fathers—who fled religious persecution and who specifically separated church and state repeatedly throughout the formation of this republic—actually had the intention of making it a Christian nation, are being saved from having to kowtow to the whims of anyone with any other religious beliefs by the very law this woefully under-informed elected official is publicly flouting.

It is BECAUSE of our separation of church and state that the Sharia Law that conspiracy-theorists claim is poised to be shoved down our throats can’t take hold. If we weaken the separation of church and state—perhaps by allowing some braindead bigot to ignore it in favor of spreading her very Christian message of hate—then we are doing precisely what is necessary to allow for religious law, for some form of theocracy, to start to happen.

And let’s make no mistake, there are almost as many Muslims and Hindus in the world as Christians, and their numbers are growing far more rapidly than yours. I have little doubt that if religious zealots manage to wedge their beliefs into our legal system, it won’t be solely based on your mythology.

So, ignore the fact that the hatred you espouse is far from Christian. Forget, for a moment, that your Christian religion specifically indicates that you are to follow the laws of your land. You can even put aside the concept that you are cherry picking the pieces of your own book of rules that suit your views and ignoring those that do not. Instead, consider the consequences of continuing to flail about in ignorance and judgement—I suspect that your bigotry and hatred has perhaps made you act outside of your own best interests. Again.