On the state of the Republic and my uneasy heart

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The last two weeks have left me angry, sad, afraid, and completely scattered. I have so many thoughts and feelings about the events of January 6th and its aftermath, my mind is skipping from thought to thought, and my emotions are all over the place. I need to get a handle on these things, since I'm jumpy and on edge, and it's interfering with my work and my relationships. So here are my thoughts and fears, my rage and concerns, my grief and reactions, in no particular order. 

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Lipstick on a Pig

Let's not mince words and refer to the group who invaded the Capital building as "rioters" or "protesters." They weren't. The correct word is insurrectionists. And just in case you need a refresher, here's the relevant Title: 

§2383. Rebellion or insurrection

Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

In the case of these particular insurrectionists, they were attempting to prevent the United States Congress and the Vice President of the United States from following the Constitution and executing their duty under the law in certifying the electoral vote. Insurrectionists

Language matters. Using "soft" language to describe the events of the 6th deescalates the seriousness of the crimes committed in the Capital building, including the murder of a Capital Police Officer who was killed for doing his duty.

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This is why we can't have nice things

While my rage has diffused somewhat since the 6th, it has only gone from "apoplectic with rage" to "rage." The people who chose to breach the barriers of the Capital, and those who gave aid or comfort to those people, are fucking traitors to the Constitution and the nation it created. They claim to be patriots, and try to romanticize their bullshit by comparing themselves to the American revolutionaries who precipitated the birth of our nation, but they are wrong, spectacularly wrong, on both counts. Patriots don't attempt to hunt down and kill our political leaders because a legal and fair election didn't go their way. The American revolutionaries of our history rebelled against the Crown because they believed they were being treated unfairly and wanted a say in their government. Do you see the difference? The insurrectionists of January 6th do have a say in our government. They just didn't get the outcome they wanted - in other words, they lost. And in their mind, that means they're justified in throwing a temper tantrum of epic proportion, attempting a coup against the legally elected government of the United States. Traitorous motherfuckers, the lot of them, and all of them should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and given the maximum sentences. 

And I'm also going to indulge in some "I told you so." On November 15, 2016, I wrote:

To those 47% of you that voted for Trump, I have to say - this is your dumpster fire. He has shown the country and the world who he is, again and again and again. But you wouldn't believe him. So when he continues to be who he is, I don't want to hear about how "you didn't know." Of course you knew. You just didn't care because he appealed to your baser instincts and you fell for it, hook, line, and sinker.

You knew. You didn't care. And so you own this criminal piece of shit administration, this insurrection, this four years of lies, corruption, bad behavior, and mishandling of the epidemic. I hope you enjoy being on the wrong side of history. And if you voted for this reprobate twice? I don't even know how to respond to such an incredible display of poor judgement and White supremacy. 

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Accountability: It's not just for the "low-class" anymore

So tRump finally became the bestest President in history by getting his ass impeached not once but twice. He's winning!

Actually, he's really not. He's a big fat loser and the walls are closing around him because he finally went too far even for Vice President Pence and Majority Leader McConnell. He miscalculated his ability to act with impunity, and now he and his ill-begotten children are going to pay, and pay, and pay. Whether he wins or loses, he'll pay with the humiliation of another Senate trial. He's already paying with a loss of allies, advisors and champions. He'll pay as investigators continue to dig into what exactly happened on the 6th. He'll pay when the state and city of New York and the state of Georgia indict him. He'll pay when he has to declare bankruptcy (again!) due to his lost relationships with other businesses. His retRumplican sycophants will pay with a loss of political contributions for their complicity in enabling him. His shitty, entitled kids will pay with the loss of their social standing and reputation (like they needed any help on that score). And you know what? Fuck him. Fuck him and all his smug, criminal family. I have no sympathy for these immoral Marie Antoinette wannabes - they deserve far worse than what's going to happen to them. Nothing would please me more than for every damn one of them to disappear into the obscurity they so richly deserve. After their legal and financial troubles are widely reported, scrutinized, and commented upon, I mean. 

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IDOR got your tongue?*

I find it funny (in a "Can you believe this shit?" way rather than a "funny haha" way) that the insurrectionists were So. Fucking. Stupid. I mean seriously - they filmed themselves going into the Capitol building, they took pictures and filmed themselves actually committing their crimes, and then promptly posted all this to social media where any old body could see it and use it to identify them as insurrectionists. Way to out yourself, genius! 

Did they think this was a game, and their goal was to be "seen" being a big, bad tough guy on social media and the news? Wrong answer, idiot. The FBI, the Capital Police, the Metro Police and the Secret Service aren't laughing. At all. And now you're shocked - shocked you say! - to discover that your group is being rounded up and arrested for your part in this travesty? Get the fuck out of here. Your misanalysis of the situation does not excuse your acts. 

And to add insult to their injury, these dumbasses had previously flocked to a social media platform that marketed themselves as a private, secure, unmoderated platform championing unfettered free speech. Here was a place where the right-wing extremists could exalt in their hate and also plan their misdeeds without interference from the "liberal media." However, Parler didn't hire the best or the brightest or even the minimally competent to architect their platform. Which led to the platform having such a basic, giant security hole in its software that you could launch a Saturn V through it. And people did. Prior to AWS shutting down their servers, hackers waltzed on in and scraped every bit of data they could find, including all the messages, photos, and videos on the site, which included the metadata associated with each object. For those who don't work in technology, this means the people who have archived Parler's data now have a treasure trove of information that will help law enforcement identify and analyze the ringleaders of the insurrection. Parler's technical team made it easy for them, and you can rest assured that ALL of this data is now public, right down the GPS coordinates of where the posts were made. You can even find out what your neighbors have been posting, if you're so inclined.

I could make a "stupid is as stupid does" or "we deserve a better class of insurrectionist" joke here, but it seems like shooting fish in a barrel. 

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Dishonor before Death

I have a special kind of hate in my heart* for the veterans who chose sedition on the 6th. These are the same hypocrites who are constantly parading around their veteran status with grand announcements about how their "oath never expires" and then turn around and join the "Oath Keepers" or "The 3%ers," or other extreme militias/hate groups who participate in domestic terrorism. Make no mistake - these people have absolutely betrayed their oath, no ifs, ands, or buts. Their oath was to defend the Constitution, and here they were, shaming their service by attempting to stop the Constitutionally mandated duty of Congress and the Vice President. I am ashamed of them, and ashamed that their previous "service" lumps them in the same category as me and the other honorable, patriotic veterans of my acquaintance. They even wanted to kill their own Vice President for the heinous crime of following the Constitution in the execution of his duties. Yeah, you're keeping your oath, all right, you piece of shit. 

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Business first

I have mixed emotions about the way Twitter, Facebook, Google, Apple, AWS and others have basically shut down the social media presence of extreme and far right activists, including retRumplicans. I understand exactly why they did it, of course. These companies currently occupy four slots in the Fortune 50, and the one who didn't make that cut - Twitter - is extremely powerful in this context because tRump relied on it so heavily to stoke his populist flames. But let's be honest, here. They're in business to make money, regardless of what their PR folks would have you believe. Their fiduciary responsibility is to their shareholders, not some nebulous ideal of protecting democracy or whatever. And having the federal government in an uproar and forcing citizens to become even more uncertain about the future of our nation is not good for business. A stable society that respects the rule of law is a much better business environment than chaos and insurrection. The second these companies started to consider tRump and his ilk a liability rather than an asset to their business plans, they made a business decision and dumped him and his hard-core supporters like a hot rock. 

On the one hand, speech encouraging violence and sedition should be banned by private companies. But then it raises the question of who gets to decide? Big Tech executives? Why are they empowered to do so? What makes them more qualified to determine what crosses the line and what doesn't? How would I feel if the current "banning" bias was against liberal thought and opinion rather than conservative? These companies represent a huge market share in the areas where they do business, and I'm not sure I want private corporations to have this much power over political discourse. 

Yes, yes, the 1st Amendment does not apply to corporations, only the government. I took a college level civics class, unlike actual retRumplican politicians who have presumably passed the Bar. But this is not the 18th Century, and I'm not sure our Founders had an instant information society driven by private industry in mind when they wrote the Bill of Rights. In this specific case, I'm starting to think some measure of government regulation over these issues might be in order, or at least worth discussing. I miss the Fairness Doctrine. 

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Worn out, worn down

I've spent the last four years on a slow boil from a politics perspective, wondering when this nightmare would end. And the answer appears to be "Not in my lifetime." Anonymous sources have been telling reputable media outlets for weeks that the reTrumplicans in Congress knew full well the election wasn't "rigged" or "stolen." But they continued to support this nonsense because tRump's base and their base have significant overlap, and it's more important to them to get reelected than to be honorable people and fulfill their oaths to the Constitution. 

And I don't really see any way to bridge this gap. Almost half of American voters chose White supremacy over character in November, in spite of all the evidence that proved tRump to be dishonest, misleading, incompetent, stupid, ego-driven, entitled, and generally a person of poor character. They were convinced by a con man that creating an egalitarian society is actually an abrogation of the rights of White people. He brought to the surface and stoked the idea that the Blacks and the browns and the wimmin were coming for their guns, their money, their place in society, their privilege. 

Well, that last item IS actually true. 

It makes me throw up in my mouth that these selfsame "patriots" who only wanted to ensure the election was "free and fair" are calling for national unity now that their tRump has come home to roost. You're four years too late and 74 Electoral College votes too short, you corrupt, dishonorable wretches. This is your legacy now -- an armed insurrection inside the Capital building, enabled and tacitly approved by you, in service to your ego and your ambition. 

So I'm sad and exhausted. I'm sad about what tRump's manipulations, lies, authoritarianism and fascist tendencies have done to people I know and care about. I'm exhausted by a political system that allows the minority to dictate policy to the majority based on shenanigans and greed. I'm sad about the no-end-in-sight polarization of our political parties which will probably continue until well after I'm gone. And I'm exhausted by my own cynicism about the country I swore to protect with my life. 

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*"IDOR" stands for insecure direct object reference, the security hole that hackers used to scrape Parler data from their servers.  

**My intense feelings surrounding this small group bothers me. Hate is a vile emotion, and poisons people from the inside. I have work to do in order to get a handle on this. 

Belief

Monday, January 4, 2021


I gained 3.8 pounds over the holiday based on my weekly averages, which is how I measure such things. I expect they'll come off pretty quickly (like this week), and then the hardest work begins: Losing the last 20 pounds. I believe I can do both these things in the 14 week timeframe I have set for myself. 

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I believe President-Elect Biden will be inaugurated to the office of President on January 20th regardless of what tRump and RetRumplicans want or do. I also believe this is absolutely the correct and legal course of action, because the accusations of RetRumplicans have absolutely no merit. They have presented no legally admissible evidence to any court of law (including SCOTUS) which proves their assertions of voter fraud in any state. Their strategy has been to follow the tactic of "If you say it often enough, it becomes true, regardless of the facts." And that strategy is working, and has been working for the last four decades, which makes me fear for the long-term future of the Republic. 

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I believe I will no longer engage in conversation or commentary, or invest emotional or intellectual labor regarding the Conspiracy Theory de Jour, regardless of who brought it up, what their political opinions are, who they support, or the motivation behind the bull-pucky. Bring me provable facts, or get thee gone is the new mantra. I have to thank my pal Juan for this one. Sensible advice at any time. 

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I believe Mitch McConnell is the single greatest threat to the Republic since the Civil War. Thanks, Kentucky!

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I believe the key to my mental health in 2021 is being honest with myself and others about gratitude, mindfulness, and letting things go. Then I must make emotional and intellectual decisions based on this honesty. I think I can more easily make gratitude a habit compared to the other two, but I have some work to do in all three focus areas. For me, the hardest part is achieving "forgiveness" along with "letting go." I'm afraid that's going to take a while. 

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I believe tRump's blatant attempt to fix the election in Georgia is a clear violation of the law. I also believe he won't experience any consequences for his criminal behavior, because at this point in our Republic's history, NO ONE is held accountable if they have enough power and/or money. NO ONE. It's all just political theater to appease the base rather than a true application of the law and justice. 

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I believe I need to continue to invest in my health after I achieve my goal weight, including an appropriate maintenance diet and regular exercise. 

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I will be taking the COVID vaccine one it becomes available to low risk individuals, because I believe in the power of science and the results of vaccines in saving populations from deadly disease (see: Polio, Small Pox, et al). 

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I believe I am deeply afraid for the law enforcement officers who will be trying to keep the peace on Wednesday in our nation's capital. It's going to be a long and dangerous day for these folks, and unlike the violent whackadoos who choose to be there, these professionals have no choice. Stay safe, y'all. Seriously.

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I believe I have never admired our judicial branch of government more. Throughout these election shenanigans, they have, without exception, upheld the law as they understand it with integrity and courage regardless of who appointed them. The judicial is our last line of defense, and their integrity has, in many ways, saved the Republic. 

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I believe 2021 will be a year where I spend more time and money on charitable acts/agencies. Charitable giving has always been a part of our budget, but this year I want to get more personally involved, for a variety of reasons ranging from mental health to a way of paying rent on the bit of earth I occupy. 

My Reasons for Gratitude, 2020

Friday, January 1, 2021
This has been a tough year for gratitude. Between politics, the pandemic and the deaths of people I've long admired or who mean the world to people I care about deeply, I've found myself despairing for the future more than once. And yet, gratitude during such times is more critically important than when things are easy. 

So here's my 2020 gratitude list, and while I had to dig for things to be grateful for, it behooves me and my mental health to meditate on these things, now more than ever. 
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This year the Smart Man and I decided we really needed to accept our status as middle aged people and take better care of our bodies through nutrition and exercise. While we haven't met all of our health goals, we've come a long way this year, and I'm grateful to have the means to join a gym and buy fresh, healthy food to eat.
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During the COVID-19 pandemic, our livelihoods were not negatively impacted by the shelter in place and social distancing orders. We both work for companies that supply telecommunications infrastructure. and we work from home even during healthy times, so we really weren't affected economically by the crisis. I know many, many people were not as fortunate, and I'm grateful to be a member of the former group, and to have the means to help those in the second group.
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This year was tough from a mental health perspective, so I decided to start counseling to see if I could achieve some level of peace with my life's circumstances and the world around me. I'm grateful to have this opportunity due to the fact that we have excellent insurance and the ability to save for co-pays without sacrificing our quality of life. 
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This year has been especially difficult for those who work in the healthcare industry, especially those individuals who have cared for COVID patients 24x7. Your dedication to duty, compassion, and fortitude is not unnoticed, and I'm incredibly grateful for you in all that you do. 

Bonus gratitude: These folks keep coming back, day after day, month after month, in spite of the fact that a significant percentage of the population deride them for the scientific knowledge, accuse them of lying and killing people when a patient dies from COVID, and show such an extreme refusal of the scientific facts of the pandemic that healthcare workers feel unvalued, depressed, and despondent. I see you, healthcare workers - your work and generosity of spirit humble me. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all you've done, and will continue to do in this most terrible of times. 
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I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to once again act as an election judge for my county during the November general election. This year I was assigned as an assistant poll manager, and this work brought home to me how very important is the process of representative democracy. I live in a county where my political views are in the minority, and yet it is always a privilege to ensure people get to exercise their franchise in a legal, non-exclusionary way, regardless of their political beliefs, ethnicity, income level, or any other characteristic that is not their status as a citizen of the United States.

Bonus gratitude: Colorado citizens volunteered in record numbers to act as election judges in this election cycle, including many volunteers in the 16-35 age group. As citizens of a representative democracy, we will ever get the government we deserve by exercising our franchise in whatever way our consciouses dictate. Knowing so many Coloradans understand this fundamental truth makes my heart happy. 
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I'm grateful that our country has reached a point where we will elect a BIPOC woman to the Office of the Vice President. When Kamala Harris took the stage to give her victory speech wearing a white suit, I wept with pride and joy at her accomplishment, and reflected with gratitude on all the women who paved the road she walks on. 
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I'm grateful to live in a state whose population voted to enact a state-wide Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program to ensure Coloradans who experience personal or family medical issues will continue to receive a partial salary when they're off work. This program is expensive - .9% of a worker's wages, matched by their employers - but Coloradans passed it with a margin of almost 15%. This was a mandate on supporting the well-being of others, and I'm so grateful to live in a state that cares about such things. 
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I'm grateful that in spite of the obstacles put before him and the lack of collaboration from the previous president, President-Elect Joe Biden will be sworn in on January 20th, 2021. He was not a perfect candidate by any stretch, but he was a smart and civil candidate, with the character needed to heal our great national divide. If I wasn't an atheist, I would pray for his success. 
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I'm grateful for the vaccines that are becoming available for those in our population who are at the greatest risk. Science is an amazing thing, and vaccines are the single greatest achievement of humanity in the history of the world. 
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As ever, I am grateful to the friends and family who lift me up when I stumble, catch me when I try to fall, look out for my physical and mental wellbeing, and can be counted upon to show in word and deed they are kind, considerate, generous, moral people of good character. I'm so lucky to have all of you in my life, now more than ever. 
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I'm grateful that the dumpster fire of 2020 is over, and look with hope and optimism to the new year and a opportunity to do more and be more of the person I want to become, unencumbered by a deadly pandemic or the poison of the last election cycle. 


By the Numbers

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Colorado Secretary of State certified Colorado's 2020 General Election results yesterday, and then published the statistics regarding how Coloradans turned out:

Total voter turnout:     3,291,548                                 

Mail ballots:                3,092,903 
In-person ballots:       198,645

Democratic:                1,020,321 
Republican:                941,313 
Unaffiliated:                1,276,834 
Other:                          53,080

Female:                       1,683,598 
Male:                           1,554,730 
Unknown:                    53,220

If you're a visual learner, the SOS office also has a handy document with all kinds of charts and additional detail on the statistical values above. 

Things I find interesting: 

  • This election had the largest voter turnout in Colorado history. Hurray! We give a damn!
  • According to the WashPo, Colorado's voter turnout was fourth in the nation at 75.5%. Only Maine, Minnesota and Wisconsin turned out more voters as a share of the voting eligible populations. That's a record, but that still means 25% of eligible voters in Colorado didn't turn out to vote either via drop off ballot or in person. Boo! 25% of us don't give a damn! (Mandatory voting, anyone?)
  • In my own county, the voter turnout was higher than the Colorado average. Douglas knows how to encourage citizens to vote, and then makes it easy for them to do so.*
  • Unaffiliated voters had the largest number of votes cast, and we're also the largest percentage of active registered voters at 40.9%, 10+ points above both the Democrats (29.95%) or the Republicans (27.31%). People are tired of the two-party system here in Colorado, and I think this trend holds nationwide. This makes my heart happy. 
  • More women than men voted in the 2020 General Election, in every age category. Please don't tell me you need me to explain why this was the case. 
  • Younger people (18-34) represented 26.8% of the votes cast and the 25-34 age range returned more ballots than any other cohort. This also makes my heart happy. I'm sick to death of old, white, rich, CIS-gender, straight men having almost exclusive control over the decision-making process for our country. 
So that's the Colorado 2020 General Election by the numbers. I can't wait for the Inauguration, and after that, a return to normalcy. (ARE YOU LISTENING, FOURTH ESTATE? ONCE PRESIDENT ELECT BIDEN TAKES OFFICE, PLEASE DISCONTINUE THE NON-STOP COVERAGE OF THE LYING LIAR OF LIES DIAPER-BABY WHO CURRENTLY OCCUPIES THE WHITE HOUSE. 

I'M BEGGING YOU. 
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*NOTE: Colorado's drop off/mail in ballot program is considered the Gold Standard for this type of process. Not so coincidentally, it was first deployed in Douglas County under the leadership of County Clerk Merlin Klotz. After the new process was deployed, Douglas County ended up with the highest voter participation rates of any County in the nation. So the SOS decided that they needed to get them some of THAT, and therein lies history. Please note that Mr. Klotz is a Republican in a largely Republican county. Election integrity isn't a Republican thing or a Democratic thing, or an unaffiliated thing. It's a Democracy thing, so sit down and STFU about imaginary voter fraud. There is no evidence that it's true, all the cases have been tossed into the dumpster fire that is the tRump Presidency by responsible Judges, and the Loser's attempts to coerce election officials into disenfranchising their entire populations have fallen on deaf ears. IT'S NOT TRUE. And as the Georgia Secretary of State, an elected Republican official says, "Truth matters, especially around election administration." I remember a time when the Republican Party as a whole actually believed that, and I hope they throw tRump into the dustbin of history and return to their pre-Reagan intellectual roots. But leave the racism with tRump, please. 

Really? Let it go, you guys

Monday, November 16, 2020

You'd think by the title of this post I'll be talking about tRump and his pathetic refusal to admit his loss and proceed with the peaceful transfer of power to President-Elect Biden. You'd think that, but you'd be wrong. I'm past being shocked or even surprised by that misanthrope's behavior, and so will probably never write about it again. He lives for attention to stroke his ego and massive inferiority complex, so like Mary MacGregor in Rob Roy, "I will think on you no more."

No, this post is about the counter-protesters in Washington, DC over the weekend. 

I read that approximately 300 counter-protesters showed up to the MAGA March on Saturday, and - surprise, surprise - violence ensued

Here's the deal, liberals. This "Million Man MAGA March" or whatever they called it consisted of tens of thousands of die-hard, incendiary, violent tRump acolytes. These were the true believers, the Proud Boys lunatics, the frothing at the mouth hero-worshiping cultists that consider tRump the second coming, the racist non-critical-thinking brain-washed followers, the believe anything he says enablers. There certainly wasn't a million of them, but the ones that were there were convinced the election was "rigged" and "stolen," lack of evidence to the contrary. They believe the lies and the spurious claims without question or analysis, and here's the thing: You will never change their minds, no matter what you do, no matter what evidence you present, no matter how many election legal challenges are thrown out of court, no matter what happens. You will never, ever change their minds. The most you can hope for is some publicity for your cause, and even that's a double-edged sword, as shown by the coverage of the altercations. 

Why, exactly, was it necessary to personally confront these people as they railed against reality? To rub in the fact that Biden will be our next President come January 20th? To try and force them to admit their hero is, in fact, a big fat loser? To gloat? What possible good would come of that strategy, especially if you incited violence? 

Here's the thing. If you think tRump was a classless, lying asshat of a President, and his supporters don't know how to act, why are you yourself acting in such a way that echoes his cult members' behavior? 

From where I sit, the time has come to try and rebuild. As I said in my post-election blog post, I have hope for a Biden presidency. I think bridging the division in our country is the one of the primary tasks of the next four years, and I think liberals have an obligation to lead in this. It's up to us to behave fairly, respectfully, and compromise with the loyal opposition. I'm not talking about the tRumpism cult of personality members - they will never try to find common ground with people they oppose. I'm talking about the individual citizens who voted for tRump for what they believe are economic reasons, or policy reasons, or single-issue voter reasons. I'm talking about the reasonable conservatives who held their noses and voted for tRump because they couldn't bear to vote for a Democrat. I'm talking about those who continue to be misled by tRump's lies, and may be convinced he was nothing but a grifting demagogue if presented with the evidence. Why are you deliberately antagonizing these people by inciting violence against people who are "on tRump's side" on national television? 

You're not helping the cause. You're hurting it. If you have ANY expectation of tRump voters accepting defeat graciously and moving on to focus on governance, then you have to be gracious winners. 

Thinky Thoughts about the Election

Monday, November 9, 2020

I have thoughts and feelings about the election because of course I do. It's been hard for me to describe my feelings in an articulate way, so as is my custom, I've come to HCDSM to write in order to clarify my thoughts and get a handle on my feelings. This is how I calm the bagful of cats that resides in my brain. 

Please note: I am not looking for a debate, or for trolls to come and inundate my space with their whataboutism and all lives matter obtuseness and her emails and conspiracy theories and other general fuckery. Questions or comments posed in good faith will be answered in the same way;  shittiness in the guise of a question will be met by the Shovel of Doom.™

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When CNN called Pennsylvania for Biden/Harris, I cannot express my relief. It literally felt like I had dropped a weight I'd been carrying around for so long I'd forgotten it was there, and then I cried, more than once, in both relief and joy. And if I, a middle aged, CIS, straight, white woman who is a member of the 10% felt that way, I cannot even imagine how BIPOC felt. Well, actually I can, as expressed by the (normally) articulate and thoughtful Van Jones of CNN:


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Kamala. Madame Vice-President Elect Harris. 

I’ve worked in male dominated fields my entire life. And when Kamala Harris took the stage to introduce President-Elect Biden in her white suit, I wept. She's my age, and she's the first woman elected to the Office of the Vice President. Women still have so much work to do to achieve equity in this society, but she broke a pretty big glass ceiling, Nothing but respect, Madame Vice-President Elect. 

How I wish Moe had lived to see this day. 

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I am still registered as unaffiliated. There has been nothing in the last four years (or in this election cycle) that has convinced me to change my mind on this score. Just because I'm a liberal doesn't mean I'm a Democrat, and I have some serious issues with the way the DNC has constructed their platform and selected their candidates. I also have some issues with the current Speaker of the House, who decided it was better to deprive the American people of the relief they so desperately needed in the Time of Covid so she could score points against a President she hates. She failed in her duties to her constituents because of an emotional, partisan response, and that's just not okay. Get your shit together, Nancy - you lost some credibility with that move, and you'll have to work pretty hard to get it back. 

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Speaking of losing credibility, after the last four years, I am absolutely furious with the GOP. I have voted for Republicans in the past, even after I left the party, but right now, that seems like a pipe dream. After the entire GOP tacitly accepted tRump's constant violations of the law, his racist policies, his hateful rhetoric, his bloody incompetence, I will never again vote for a Republican who was in office during tRump's administration unless there is documented proof that they showed some moral fortitude in trying to stop tRump's egregious behavior. A short list, to be sure. The list of Republican candidates I'll consider will get longer as time and attrition removes the cowards from office, but for now, fuck you, you line-towing, immoral, party first lickspittles. When push came to shove and the time came for you to prove that your constituents, the rule of law, and the concept of character is what mattered to you, you failed in the worst way imaginable. You are without honor and courage, and your oath to the ideals you swore to uphold have been suborned by your own ambition and greed. Fuck you. Character matters, and you proved, over and over again in the last four years, that your character is fundamentally flawed. 

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I am shocked and saddened that the margin of the Biden/Harris win wasn't higher, but really - I shouldn't be. If the tRump presidency has shown us anything of value in the last four years, it's the flashlight it's shone on the deep, dark corners of American white supremacy. From a statistical, systemic perspective, there is only one way to interpret the data: white America as a group is racist AF, and white people who try to vote thoughtfully, who try to vote only after educating ourselves with reputable sources, who try to vote with empathy for the well-being of others, are far fewer than we'd like to believe. The data doesn't lie, and the bottom line really is that if you choose to vote for a mean-spirited, racist, bigoted bully, then you're supporting mean-spiritedness, racism, bigotry and bullying as cultural norms for our country. At the very least this constitutes passive racism in my mind. To the tune of 70 million Americans. Angels and ministers of grace, defend us.

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There is so much work to be done. The destruction of our historical and current system of white supremacy will probably take generations. But this is positive work; work that proactively makes our society better and more equitable; work that is rooted in love and empathy, and supports the well-being of all of our citizens. 

The anticipation and commitment to this work is invigorating and positive in a way that the work of the last four years wasn't. For the last four years I've written countless letters to my Congressional representative and Senators and I've made donation after donation to organizations and groups who support fairness and equity in public life. I've marched and I've railed. But that was work that felt like sticking my finger in the dike - I only wanted to stem the tide, to keep things from getting worse before an electoral solution could be found. 

The work of my lifetime will be incredibly difficult, and so, so worth it. After we decompress for a bit, we will start working on a plan to be more proactive in our contributions. We need to research how to be better allies to BIPOC communities, and then act on those findings. We need to help police our own cohort, and call out racism and white supremacy when we see it. No more "passes" based on age or region, no more remaining silent in order to keep the peace. I have benefitted from the white supremacy of our country every day of my life, whether I asked for it or not. I owe it to BIPOC communities to use some of that privilege to support the equity of those who have been denied what was freely given to me based solely on the color of my skin and my socioeconomic status. 

________

Because I live in an extremely conservative district, my U.S. Congressional Representative, my State Senator, my State Representative, and my local officials are all Republicans. There's nothing I can do to change this except to try and vote them out, year after year, until a) a Democrat wins; b) a Republican comes along who isn't a complete, lying douchecanoe; or c) I choose to leave the District. I'll continue to fight the good fight, but I've resigned myself to this truth, for good or for ill. 

________

In spite of my Republican local representation, I'm proud to be a Coloradan today: 

  • We now have two Democratic Senators, sending a message that Colorado as a whole will not stand for moral cowardice in the upper house. 
  • Biden/Harris won our state by 13 points, and our state has gone blue in the last four Presidential elections. Based on our demographics, this will probably continue to be the case as the state becomes more and more liberal. 
  • We repealed the Gallagher Amendment. Gallagher is an extremely complex issue, but the bottom line is that Coloradans agreed to pay more in personal property taxes so that non-industrial communities would have sufficient tax dollars to support fundamental services such as public education, fire and police, and hospital services. Will urban homeowners pay more so that other members of our Colorado community will have a reliable tax base for essential services? Yes. Yes, we will. And good for us.
  • Colorado voted against a ban on late-term abortions by 18 points. Colorado routinely slaps down anti-choice legislation, and in this case the terms were especially egregious - only one exception was included, and that was to save the woman's life if she was in immediate danger. So if you're carrying a fetus that is absolutely nonviable, you get to carry it to term whether you want to or not, and then watch your baby die immediately after birth with no hope whatsoever that they'll live. There may be some couples that make this choice for their own reasons, but it should still be a choice. 
  • Colorado passed a proposition to create a state-run Paid Medical and Family Leave program by 15 points. This one made my heart sing. This is a REALLY expensive program - .9% of workers' salary plus matching funds by most employers - and it passed with a significant mandate. So Coloradans as a whole voted to significantly increase their state tax so that members of our community won't become homeless or have to declare bankruptcy as a result of an illness or injury, and will also have a chance to receive paid family leave when a new child joins the household. Our household will have to revise our budget in order to accommodate this additional expense, as will most Coloradans, but we agreed to do it anyway, because we care about the well-being of others. 
Of course there were other initiatives which passed (or didn't) that I don't agree with, such as approval of Colorado joining the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC). Sometimes I think that both parties are pretty short sighted when it comes to this type of legislation. Just because such a compact would benefit the Democrats at this time in our history doesn't mean this will always be the case. States are not blue or red forever (as the tRump campaign is discovering), and when deciding on these issues, you have to remember it's a double-edged sword. 
________

I'm so, so glad that his dark chapter in American history is almost over, and I hope for a better future. I hope President Elect Biden and Vice President Elect Harris will be able to convince both parties to work in a non-partisan way to better our country and stop the incredibly hateful rhetoric. I hope they're able to restore America's place on the international stage, and work towards making us a respected ally once again. I hope that America will evolve into a country where BIPOC communities don't have to fear for their lives simply because of the color of their skin. I hope we, as a country, can bury the hatchet with our fellow countrymen and women, and try to work together civilly and without hate, rancor, and bigotry. I hope our Armed Forces are used wisely and thoughtfully when such becomes necessary. I hope respect for the rule of law becomes not only popular again, but expected in all our public servants. I hope we find a way to embrace a value system where character is what defines a person, not money, or race, or religion, or who you know. I hope we grow into a country who protects and cares for ALL its citizens, and understands that basic human rights such as having enough to eat and basic medical care is a standard for a modern civilization, and can be easily achieved if we value it enough. 

I hope. 


Politics - A Civil Discourse

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

DISCLOSURE: Please note the title of this post. CIVIL discourse. If you are so emotionally hooked that you cannot discuss candidates and policy without resorting to name calling, personal attacks and other incivility, please do not engage. I will be summarily deleting comments that I consider uncivil, regardless of who posts them, nor will I tolerate any "whataboutism," "Fake News," or other logical fallacies. You don't have to keep it clean (have you met me?) but arguments must be well-thought out and defensible with facts and references from reputable sources. So if you want to engage in poo-flinging monkey fights, please redirect yourself to Reddit, that seething den of scum and villainy. 

__________

The other day, a 45 supporter on Facebook asked a question. He said he didn't understand why anyone would vote for Vice President Biden, and he wanted to know why people would make that choice. Understandably, he wanted answers other than "He's not Trump."

I've been thinking about this question since then, because I think it's a good one. While most elections end up being a contest between a bad choice and a worse choice, I have always tried to select the candidate who most closely aligns with the ideals and ideas I find most important. But since 45 came into office, I have found that I have been less likely to try and find commonality between me and my selected candidate. This is especially true of 45, since I hold him in such contempt, but after the last four years, my antipathy has spread to the entire GOP.

Such knee-jerk reactions are part of what has made American politics so divisive, personal, and nasty. And I want to be part of the solution, not the problem. 

So I want to articulate the reasons why I think Vice President Biden is a better candidate than the current resident of the White House. Buckle up - this is going to be a long one. 

CAVEAT I: I am a tax and spend liberal. For those of you keeping track at home, this means that if the American people want a specific service from the government, then we must pay for it, i.e., taxes must be raised to cover the cost of the program. I'm okay with paying more taxes for more services for the general population, and yes, I also believe in a progressive tax rate. It's obscene that there are people in the United States who suffer from food insecurity and homelessness while our wealthiest citizens are rich beyond the dreams of avarice. I pay my taxes each year if not gladly, then at least with the satisfaction of knowing I'm doing my part to enhance the standard of living for everyone in my community, not just myself. YMMV.

The American healthcare system. The United States spends more on health care than any comparable country - a whopping 17% of GDP, compared to an average of 8.6% for other relatively wealthy countries. And yet, measurements of life expectancy, infant mortality, and unmanaged diabetes show the United States lagging significantly behind other relatively wealthy countries. 

There are a variety of reasons for these outcomes, but it seems apparent to me the main issue is that America's political machine is far more interested in healthcare for profit than in healthcare for people, and this is not okay with me. In a country as wealthy as ours, everyone within our borders should have access to basic healthcare. No one should have to choose between getting life saving medication or feeding their kids, no one should lose their house and have to declare bankruptcy because of a catastrophic illness or injury, and no one should be left to die because they couldn't afford to seek care. We can afford this. We just choose not to. 

While I personally do not think Biden's healthcare plan goes far enough, I believe it is a step in the right direction. A public option for all should be available if people need it in order to get care, and Biden's current plan is comprehensive enough to increase the number of people who will be covered. We can argue for years about the best methodology to accomplish this goal, but we can't, because I really haven't seen a comprehensive healthcare plan of any sort, good OR bad, from the current Administration. They've had four years to create one. The fact that they've done nothing regarding this critical issue (except try to repeal current protections, I mean) tells me something about their priorities, and I don't like what I see.

Foreign policy. Like it or not, the United States is a part of the global economy, and our economic health is tied directly to our trading partners. Additionally, the United States' standing as a leader of the free world is largely dependent on our relationships with like-minded countries. By acting in concert with our allies, the U.S. is capable of effecting global change for the better. 

Vice President Biden is a master at establishing, maintaining, and deepening these relationships. During his tenures as a Senator and then the Vice-President, he spent many years working with the leaders of foreign governments, and has earned the respect of other wealthy (and other not so wealthy) democracies/republics by doing the necessary diplomatic work to establish his credibility. 

Whether or not you agree or disagree with the current Administration's foreign policy, everyone can see that our standing on the global stage has diminished in the last four years. The free world no longer looks to the United States for leadership and consensus. They roll their eyes when our chief executive enters the room or tries to speak. Instead they look to Germany, led by Angela Merkle in Europe and New Zealand, led by Jacinda Ardern on the Pacific Rim. We have spent the last 80 years establishing ourselves as one of the last remaining superpowers, and sadly, it doesn't take long for that social capital to deteriorate. I believe Vice President Biden can repair our relationships, establish new ones, and hold global bad actors accountable when necessary.

I trust science and the scientific method. If anything has highlighted the difference between the candidates in this race, it's their vastly different attitude regarding science and scientific experts. There is consensus among credible scientists that climate change is real, that it is caused by human technology, and that there will be catastrophic results if we don't work to alleviate the effects, especially in low-lying areas. But that is not what the current administration believes, based on their withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, while climate change and environmentalism is a part of Vice President Biden's platform.  

The most obvious example of declining scientific advice, of course, is the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our current administration has ignored advice from recognized experts in favor of magical thinking, and has shaped their policies accordingly. The administration couldn't have been in better hands during this crisis, having Dr. Anthony Fauci as their primary advisor, who has served as the Director of NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. And yet, the current administration continues to spread falsehoods and half-truths, and enacted policy that has resulted in the U.S. having the largest COVID infection rate and death rate per capita in the world, and that includes third world countries. 

Based on his published platform, I believe Vice President Biden will handle this ongoing crisis in a much more effective manner, because he doesn't think he knows more than a recognized expert whose life's work has been the research and treatment of infectious diseases, and he won't pander to those who think their high school diploma or bachelor's degree makes them a qualified epidemiologist and/or infectious disease specialist.

I believe in the rule of law, the dignity of the Oval Office, and our social norms. Vice President Biden believes in these things, too. 

Character matters. While I am fully aware that the vast majority of politicians in this country equivocate or mislead the population during their tenures, the last four years have been absolutely extraordinary in this regard. Based on the number of verifiable falsehoods 45 has uttered since entering the White House, it does not appear that he can speak on ANY subject without throwing in 10 (or 20) superfluous lies. 45 is a chronic, constant liar. I'm not going to speculate on why this is the case because I really don't give a damn why he lies. The bottom line is that he can't be trusted on any subject, and I require at least a minimal level of honesty from the U.S. President. 

Does Biden also periodically lie? Yes. Yes, he does. He's a politician. But his lies are periodic, and at this point in our country's political life, I think that's the best we can hope for. 

I will not accept misogyny, racism, bigotry, bullying of the weak or disabled, white supremacy, sexual misconduct, or incitements to violence from a candidate hoping to occupy the highest office in the land. While I concede that Vice President Biden is not a person of unerring character, it is my opinion, based on 45's own words, that Biden is miles and miles above 45 in this regard. This may not matter to you provided he delivers on issues you think are more important, and that's your privilege. Just as it's my privilege to eliminate 45 from my consideration based on these character flaws. 

Intellectual honesty, curiosity, competence, and a desire to serve. To be frank, I don't think anyone is "qualified" to be the President of the United States when they begin their first term. It's a job like no other, and the weight of responsibility has prematurely aged every president in history. But there are personality traits that can predict whether or not an individual may be a good or a poor president. In an ideal world, I want a President who is smarter than me. Better educated than me. Has intellectual curiosity about the world. Has shown sustained competence in their chosen field. And I want a President whose impetus to run is to serve the people. Not serve themselves, not seek immunity from prosecution for their misdeeds. not to engage in nepotism, not to make themselves rich by violating the emollients clause. I believe Vice President Biden wants to be President for the right reasons. 

My political values are rooted in the Constitution I swore to protect and defend with my life. This means any candidate I choose to endorse must also have values rooted in our Constitution. I'm especially devoted to the 1st Amendment, 

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.

As an Atheist, my own moral code is dictated by philosophical paradigms I have personally chosen that are outside of (but not necessarily contrary to) Christian teachings. The Constitution guarantees my right to reject religion, and when politicians try to force their non-secular belief systems down my throat via executive orders and judicial appointments, I consider it a violation of the 1st Amendment. 

The 4th Estate is the only commercial enterprise specifically called out anywhere in our Constitution for special consideration under the law. That's because the founders understood that the government required watching, and it required watching by institutions who could not be silenced by the very people they were holding accountable. 

I believe Vice President Biden shares these values. I believe 45 does not, as characterized by his constant berating of reputable news outlets, his cries of "Fake News" and "Alternative Facts," and his absolute obsession with his own press and inability to take responsibility for anything that has occurred on his watch. 

I could go on, but I won't. I think that's quite enough for one post, and to tell the truth, I'm really, really tired of politics. For good or for ill, I want this election cycle to be over.