Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Category Archive: 'rant'

Disturbing Trends

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Nov 25, 2016 @ 10:13 am PDT

userpic=headlinesToday’s collection of news chum serve to highlight some disturbing historical and societal trends:

  •  Fake and Satirical News Sites. If this election has demonstrated anything, it is that they will believe a headline as long as a friend shares it on Facebook. The impact of fake news and satirical news has been potentially significant, as is the blurring line between journalism and opinion pieces (I’m looking at you, Borowitz). If it sounds too good to be true — if it confirms your biases — then check it before sharing. Here’s a great start at that: a list of BS, fake, or biased news sites.
  • Manipulating Historical Images. Lehrhaus has a very interesting article on the trend of photoshopping historical photos. The example they use are some historical images of Orthodox girls photoshopped to reflect current modesty norms in the community, but the actual concern is much larger. The manipulation of history — the notion is that history is what I say it is, not what the historical record proves — was, so to speak, yuge, in this election. With photoshop, we can change that historical record. Did you know there were four shooters at JFK’s assassination?
  • I Can Fix That. When I was growing up, if something broke, you would fix it. Ovens, washers, TVs, and all sorts of things — even toasters — were such that when they went bad, you took them to a repair shop where they were fixed for a reasonable cost — certainly, less than buying new. Our oven failed earlier this week, and the bad part along was almost $600 — had it been in stock. That’s half the price of a new oven. Our disposable society wastes resources, and creates waste that often will never degrade. The latest example: The new MacBook Pro. The new MacBook Pro, like its earlier Retina designs, has a glued down battery and has RAM that is soldered into the computer’s logic board. Unless you’re an expert microsolderer, the specs of the computer you buy are the specs you’ll have until the end of its life. Kiss those repair shop jobs goodbye. Here’s what the article says about that: “Apple has little incentive to help them, and arguably has little obligation to build computers that can be repaired and resold on the secondary market. That said, a computer that can be salvaged from the scrap heap and used for several more years is many times more environmentally friendly than one that has to be shredded into a million tiny pieces because it has a bad stick of RAM or because you can’t buy an affordable replacement SSD.”
  • Shopping Shopping Everywhere. An abandoned sanitarium in La Crescenta is becoming commercial space: Gangi Design LED Build will renovate 14 buildings from the 1920s-era institution and convert them to “retail and nonprofit use.”  A friend of mine recently complained about the loss of manufacturing and manufacturing jobs, and here’s why: we’ve shipped those jobs overseas because we didn’t want the polluting factories, or labor was cheaper even after the tariffs, [ETA: or automation has replaced those jobs] and we’re left with more shops trying to sell overpriced imported crap to people who no longer have the jobs to pay for them. I’d say this sounds crazy and those proposing the idea should go into a sanitarium, but we’ve been closing the sanitariums.

 

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Thanksgiving, America, and Antisemitism

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Nov 24, 2016 @ 5:27 pm PDT

userpic=schmuckToday is Thanksgiving day — a day when, in America, we share what we are thankful for. One thing I am thankful for in this country is the freedom to practice my religion, as well as the freedom to not have others force their religion on me. I hope that, in years to come, I can continue to be thankful for such things.

However, what has happened in 2016 has given me some reasons to doubt. Today’s news chum brings together a collection of articles I’ve seen related to this doubt. Part of me said, “Don’t post this on Thanksgiving”. Another part of me said that it was important to do so, precisely because being thankful for something doesn’t mean we should be complacent about it. We have numerous freedoms in this country for which we are all thankful. We must fight for these freedoms every day; the forces that want to take them away make it a constant struggle. So let’s fight, so that we can continue to be thankful for what we have (and not be remembering what we have lost).

Let’s start with a post by Mayim Bialik, who wrote a letter to her haters. This was in response to her posting “a very disturbing article reporting that the New York City Memorial of Beastie Boys frontman Adam Yauch had been desecrated. All of the Beastie Boys were Jewish, and Yauch’s memorial had swastikas and pro-Trump graffiti scrawled all over it.” In it, she writes:

I’m going to state this very plainly, America: many people in this country are racists. Many people think that the Nazi party was correct and they are part of organized organizations that seek to continue the pledges of the Nazi party for white supremacy and the elimination of minorities. Is it 50% of this country? Absolutely not. Is it enough that we should be concerned? Absolutely.

She goes on:

Don’t you think it’s time we stop pretending, America? We have problems. If you are not one of the problems, that’s great. And I’m going to keep posting about things like this to as many people as I can. Not because I’m a celebrity. But because I’m a citizen of this country. I’m the granddaughter of immigrants. I am a Jew. And I am offended and disgusted that people are doing things like this while so many of us don’t want to believe it’s really happening.

But that’s just one example. A few days ago, CNN actually reported a debate on the question “Are Jews people?”. Here’s what Boing Boing said:

Here’s us, suggesting that media people stop using the cutesy term “alt right” to describe Sieg Heiling white supremacists. But they’re already moving onto panel discussions on whether Jews are people.

Would you ever think such a discussion would be on CNN? But it’s there, because Trump’s election has emboldened the white supremecists who make up the euphemistically-titled “alt-right” — and Trump has gone so far as to appoint someone they see as a leader, Steve Bannon, to be a chief advisor.

The Forward explored the question in a different way. There, they looked at the reaction that ensued when Mike Pence was addressed by the actors of Hamilton, reading a statement from the producers, writer, and actors. They asked: “What if this had happened at Fiddler on the Roof?”:

Picture this: It’s a lovely evening at the Broadway Theater and “Fiddler on the Roof” is nearing its finale. Soon, the little village of Anatevka — beset by pogroms and the disruption of tradition — will be little more than a memory. Some will try to adhere to the old ways, others will try their luck with America and assimilation.

The lights go down, then come back up. Applause clatters through the theater, then Danny Burstein, the actor playing Tevye, steps forward and tells the audience that Vice President-elect Mike Pence is in the house. Burstein silences the boos, then reads from a prepared statement:

“We, sir, we are the diverse America, who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir,” Burstein says. “But we truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

What would the reaction have been?

Would the actors had been booed? Would there be demands for an apology? Hamilton was a target because it has “the efftrontery to present unapologetically a vision of a wholly diverse America. It’s an America where founding fathers engage in rap battles, and employ the sort of language that the president uses in the locker room but finds filthy when others use it, particularly those who come from different backgrounds and have different visions of America than he does. “Hamilton” represents what America truly looks and sounds like today”. Trump voters want it back where it was in 1964. The Forward continues:

What if there really was a #BoycottFiddler movement? What if Breitbart News declared the “Fiddler” cast to be “whiny Jews?”

A new sense of fear would right now be coursing specifically through the Jewish community, the same way it is coursing through African-American, immigrant and LGBTQ communities; it would be the same fear that is both chilling and galvanizing artistic communities throughout the country as we see grim portents arising from a president-elect who demands safe spaces for himself and his followers and none for anyone else.

Given the reaction of Trump followers, should we be worried about safe spaces for Jews?

By the way, if you think you can leave the US to be safe, think again. The Jewish Journal is reporting that Francois Fillon, a leading contender in the upcoming French presidential election, suggested Jews do not respect French law. He talked about how the French are fighting Muslim sectarianism, and “We fought against a form of Catholic sectarianism or like we fought the desire of Jews to live in a community that does not respect the laws of the French Republic.” If they come to register and restrict the rights of Muslims, what religion is next?

Let us be vigilant about increased antisemitism — and more importantly, remember that we are in a common battle: that racist attacks on any group for a religious, racial, gender, or sexual characteristic is an attack on us all. An opinion piece in the Washington Post from over a year ago opines:

America is unique in Jewish history because the social construct of power and oppression in this society came to be based more on skin color than on religion or ethnic identity. Because of that, along with the best of American values and our own hard work, we now find ourselves as another privileged white ethnicity. Despite our only good intentions, we are — all of us — full participants and beneficiaries of the American evil known as racism.

The brilliance of being Jewish, though, is that we stubbornly refuse to fit into any social construct of power or oppression. We are simply Ivri’im, people from “somewhere else,” people who struggle with God and justice, who demand that the rest of the world does, too, and see every human life as sacred because we are all in the image of God. And the truth is, we have never belonged to one race alone. The Torah tells us that we left Egypt with the “erev rav,” with a mixed multitude of peoples. Around the world there are Jews of color, Asian Jews, Jews of all kinds. The idea that Jews are white is not only ridiculous, it’s offensive to who we really are! Yes, societies like America come along sometimes and give us privileges and powerful labels like “white.” In America’s racist social construct, Jews are very much white people, but we must never again think of ourselves that way — it’s time for us to opt out of that racist paradigm, because we are Jews.

Imagine what we and our children could be like if we associate our Jewishness with an essential statement against racism and discrimination. Even though we and our children have benefited from the best schools and jobs and housing that whiteness affords, we can be the ones to challenge the system from within. We can be the ones who change business practices, housing codes, policing, correctional facilities, social policies, unequal schools — motivated by our values and our Jewish historical experience. Indeed, so many progressive leaders in this country have been Jews (including some Jewish founders of the NAACP), motivated exactly by this vision. But so many more of us need to own our real power, which is not our whiteness, but our Jewishness, our Torah and our tradition that motivates us to remember the stranger, for we were strangers in Egypt; that calls on us to lift up the cause of all those who are oppressed.

We must all work together to ensure that what we are thankful for this year is not taken away in the coming year: the freedom to practice our religion, the freedom from other religions and their values being imposed on us by the government, the freedom to marry who we want, the freedom to control our bodies and our minds, the freedom to speak against power when we see injustice, and the freedom to fight for justice. We need to make it so next year we can be equally thankful.

 

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Theatre Is Never a Safe Space — If It Was, It Wouldn’t Be Doing It’s Job

Written By: cahwyguy - Mon Nov 21, 2016 @ 11:07 am PDT

userpic=dramamasksThe big news over the last weekend was that the Vice-President-Elect, Mike Pence, attended the musical Hamilton. The news wasn’t that he somehow got seats at the last minute, but that at the end of the show, the actors pleaded with him to protect diversity. This elicited a response from the President-Elect that the comment was wrong, and that theatre should be a “safe space”. The President-Elect has continued his war with the musical, calling for a boycott thereof. Broadway is not backing down. Nor should it.

Mr. President-Elect, study your history. The theatre has never been a safe space. From an active shooter making a commentary on the Presidency in 1865 (the last active shooter in a theatre — what? too soon?), to annual collections for Equity Fights Aids, actors have always been passionate about the ideas in which they believe. Further, theatre has never been a space devoid of “dangerous ideas” — in fact, theatre often provides a space to explore those ideas — especially in times of turmoil in our nation. (Vox also has a nice summary on this point)

Don’t believe me. Perhaps this will refresh your memory.

  • Showboat, in 1927 during the “roaring 20s” was a commentary on the tragedy of race relations and mixed marriages. It was a theme revisited again by Hammerstein in South Pacific, when we learned that racism and hatred had to be carefully taught.
  • Sound of Music may have seemed light, but it was a commentary on the rise of Hitler. Hitler was also explored in Caberet, which also touched on the themes of antisemitism even more explicitly. Another musical exploring antisemitism in society was Fiddler on the Roof.
  • Finians Rainbow was far from a love story — it was a hard hitting commentary on race relations. Similary, Lil Abner was a commentary on nuclear proliferation and the automation of society.
  • Hair, of course, was an anti-war musical — again, a commentary on the politics of this country. Coming out in 1967 as the war was picking up steam, it also commented on the free love era and the impact on race relations there.
  • Chicago, a long running hit, was a commentary as well — a commentary on our media driven celebrity driven society — a commentary on how Razzle Dazzle can distract from what was really going on.
  • Rent, of course, was a commentary on the AIDS epidemic and its impact on society, as well as a commentary on redevelopment.
  • Avenue Q, developed during the Bush administration, was a commentary on how society was hurting economically; how trickle down hadn’t worked, even for gay Republicans.
  • Wicked — you know, that popular musical — isn’t just the Wizard of Oz. Listen to author Greg Maguire — it is a commentary on the rising power of an evil leader (something that becomes clearer in his second book, which was intended as a direct commentary on the Iraq war torture). The dangers of evil meglomanic leaders is a popular topic, from Lion King to Hamlet (which it was based upon).
  • Fun Home explores growing up lesbian in a closeted household, and the dangers of being closeted.
  • The Book of Mormon confronts the issue of what is behind faith.
  • Spring Awakening confronts the issue of teen sexuality and its impacts.
  • Allegiance was a reminder of the wrongs of the Japanese Internment.
  • Hamilton, of course, is a celebration of the impact on America from immigrants and diversity. “Immigrants — We get the job done!”

These are just musicals. Commentary in plays is even more, from Death of a Salesman to Angels in America to The Laramie Project to…. I, of course, could go on and on. Theatre has long reflected the concerns and worries about society, and actors have long spoken their feelings. That is the beauty of America — that such feelings can be expressed without fear of reprisal or jail. That’s often not true in other countries, where actors risk their lives to express opinions from the stage.

So, Mr. President-Elect, please kindly shut up about the theatre insulting you, or TV insulting you. You are a better man than that; free speech cannot hurt you. Do your job — be a president for all America, even the greater-than -half that didn’t vote for you. Make wise selections for your advisors — advisors that are respected by all, not just rewards for those in your inner circle. Simply put: You want to avoid criticism? Then govern in a manner that does not invite it from large segments of the people you govern.

P.S.: I did hear a rumor that Mr. Trump was so upset, he vowed to build a fourth wall in all theatres, and to make the actors pay for it. Like that will ever happen.

 

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Belief and Government

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Nov 18, 2016 @ 11:15 am PDT

userpic=levysWhile eating my lunch, I was reading the headlines about Trump’s selection for Attorney General. This got me thinking. We should all write to our senators, and insist that any nominee what takes precedence when determining government action or policy: the written law and any legal precedents for that jurisdiction, or their belief system.  If they answer that their belief system takes precedence, they should be denied confirmation. Why? To give a belief system precedent when determining government action is to impose that belief system on others — which is the government essentially establishing a religion and enforcing it on others. But, some will counter, that denies the nominee the freedom to practice their religion. It actually doesn’t. They are free to practice their religion in private times, and even when not performing government actions. But government decisions should not be enforcing one religion or belief on another.

If this makes it difficult for Trump to nominate certain individuals to positions such as Justice or the Supreme Court, that’s how it works. The same Bill of Rights that gives them the right to spew whatever hate speech they want and to practice their religion protects the people of this nation from imposing their religious beliefs or discriminatory practices on the populace. This is a nation ruled by law, and laws that are difficult to change. Sometimes it works to their advantage (such as the Electoral College); sometimes it doesn’t (they can’t discriminate, they can’t register — beyond what would be done for the census — based on religion, they can’t undo gay marriage, they can’t even easily undo Roe vs. Wade). We need to constantly remind them of this. We cannot discriminate in hiring based upon belief. We can, however, insist that they follow the law even when it conflicts with their belief.

[And, by the way, this applies to Steve Bannon as well. He may or may not hold white supremacist views. He cannot, however, act on those views when they are contrary to our laws — that is grounds for requesting his removal from office.]

The key point we must continually make: The President, Congress, and his advisors are not above the law. Their followers are not above the law.

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Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Written By: cahwyguy - Wed Nov 16, 2016 @ 7:57 am PDT

userpic=soapboxGoing into this rant, I want to note that I was not, and am not, a Trump supporter. You know this if you read my election posts: I was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton. You should also know that I was on the net in days when we elected Bush 43. I remember the rants on Usenet; I particularly remember the reactions in the 2004 election over on Livejournal. Back then, I used to think it was fun to make fun of President Bush with all of our “village idiot” memes. The good old days, so to speak. Since then, however, I’ve gained a bit more wisdom and perspective.

Then I read Facebook before heading off to work, and got disgusted. So much so, that this rant formed on the drive in and insisted on being written.

I am not saying we should quietly lie on our backs, spread our legs, and get fucked by the new administration (how’s that for graphic). H0wever, I don’t believe that spreading false news stories helps. For example, Trump is only trying to get his son-in-law cleared for briefings, not his entire family. We (that is, progressives like me) complained when the Trump side was spreading false stories and believing anything they read on the net about Hillary. Why are we so quick to do the same about Trump? We need to keep our mantra as “verify, verify, verify”. Many of these stories about Trump are overblown exaggeration, often spread by excessively political media or false news sites. Know which sites are real and which sites are not.

Fellow progressives: spreading false stories on Facebook — or even the funny Biden/Obama memes — does nothing to combat Trump or help those who will be vulnerable when he takes office. Actions speak louder than memes, and we need to be doing, not sharing:

  • Physically write, call, and/or email your Congressional representatives, and let them know that nominating unqualified individuals is unacceptable. If those individuals are subject to Congressional approval, they should be turned down. If not, they should be calling on Republican leadership to stress the harm employment such individuals could bring to the country, and to appropriately encourage the President-elect to select someone else.
  • As for individuals such as Bannon: Much as I would like to say “Don’t hire him because of his views”, would we want a person’s political views or religious views to prevent them from being hired? If the shoe was on the other foot, probably not. For such individuals, we need to press our Congressional representatives to stress to such nominees that one’s personal views must be set aside when they are in Government service, and they must work in the interest of the Nation, in accordance with the constitution and its values of equality, fairness, and justice for all.  If they cannot do that — if they can’t separate the personal/religious from National responsibilities — they must be pressured to decline the position.
  • We need to work to protect those most vulnerable, if we are in a position to do so. We need to let them know we have their backs — and then be there for them. We need to remind anyone harassing or threatening someone that Trump’s election has not changed the laws. Violence against others is not legal, nor is hate-oriented speech (except where constitutionally protected). We need to pressure our public service officials to enforce the law against *any* such speech/actions. We were doing this when we were battling for #BlackLivesMatter, so why should we stop now? Our law enforcement must be neutral in its enforcement: what is wrong is wrong, and having alt-right or equivalent views does not give one a pass, even with Trump’s election.
  • We need to push to ensure the election results are correct. This does not mean pushing to have the electoral college follow the popular vote this election — that won’ t happen, and would create an even greater crisis if it did. However… we can press investigations of vote tampering, vote suppression, miscounts, etc. in those states where the election was closes and whose electoral votes are critical – WI, MN, PA, MI, NH, etc. While we can’t get the electors to follow popular vote, if we can discover sufficient fraud for a state to flip, that can make a difference. But there isn’t much time — this needs to be done before electors meet.
  • We need to set an example. Protest is one thing. Vandalism during protest is something else. We should not let this turn us into thugs.

In short, instead of sharing false news and silly memes, we need to pressure Congress to do its job, and ensure the President-elect selects qualified advisors who are working in the interest of all the country, not their personal agendas. Given the lack of Government experience in our new leader, this is critical if we are all to survive, let alone succeed, in these times.

P.S.: Here’s a good article on how to really make a difference.

 

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Fear (fear ear) and the Echo (echo cho) Chamber

Written By: cahwyguy - Fri Nov 11, 2016 @ 5:56 am PDT

userpic=socialmediaEveryone is attempting to adjust to the results of this election differently. Those who have been marginalized for whatever reason — sex, color, orientation, etc. — are reacting in fear for what might happen with Trump (even though he is not yet in power, and won’t be in power until January). Those who have crawled out of the shadows and the gutters, emboldened by the man, have taken to harassing and abusing those marginalized (even though the laws have not changed, and likely will not change, making what they are doing illegal). Some, like me, who have been fortunate enough (dare I say privileged, which I do recognize) have been coping by hoping for rationality — believing (perhaps unrealistically) and hoping that the weight of the Presidency will change the campaign demagogue into a reasoned man concerned with his legacy, suitably constrained by our Constitution, the opposition Democrats, and our system.

We all have been taking to the streets and social media. Social media has done its job: amplifying the small fringe voices and actions so that they feel like a national groundswell; amplifying the resulting fears to make everyone more fearful; echoing those who have the same fear while hiding the reasoned voices on both sides. The reasoned people who supported Trump more to blow up the system rather than to support his behavior see only the riots and vandalism in response to his election, not the fear. Those who support Clinton only see the fear and the hate response. And it magnifies, like a mirror looking into a mirror, reflecting on and on forever deeply, even though we’re really only talking about perhaps a quarter-inch of glass.

And those who operate the social media — the Mark Zuckerbergs, the folks behind Twitter, etc. — where are they in all of this? Silent. They are silently allowing the echo chambers they created – and the algorithms they curated — to spread the fake news, to spread the parodies, to spread the words that amplify and isolate. They are not taking responsibility; they are not helping to heal. When we look back at this election, we’ll see much of the ultimate blame belongs with the Internet and Social Media for building up the hate and fear between both sides. For those us on the Clinton side, ask yourself: where would we be if Trump had been unable to tweet, but could only go through the news media, if we weren’t seeing the fear-mongering fake news on FB, if we weren’t seeing the parodies and believing them real. For the Trump supporters, the same question: how might your picture of Clinton differ without FB spreading the stories, and Wikileaks being enabled to spread overly sensationalized innuendo?

Those of us who were there in the founding days of the Internet: What have we wrought?

Shortly before the election, Vox ran an article about how the Internet is harming our democracy. I saved it planning to post and comment upon it the day after the election. The election occurred, and other reactions came first. But the article remained, and deserves to be heard. The article talks about the impact of fake news on the election; about how Facebook considers itself to be a technology company, not part of the media. Quoting from the article:

But that’s wrong. Facebook makes billions of editorial decisions every day. And often they are bad editorial decisions — steering people to sensational, one-sided, or just plain inaccurate stories. The fact that these decisions are being made by algorithms rather than human editors doesn’t make Facebook any less responsible for the harmful effect on its users and the broader society.

Further on, the article notes:

Facebook hasn’t told the public very much about how its algorithm works. But we know that one of the company’s top priorities for the news feed is “engagement.” The company tries to choose posts that people are likely to read, like, and share with their friends. Which, they hope, will induce people to return to the site over and over again.

This would be a reasonable way to do things if Facebook were just a way of finding your friends’ cutest baby pictures. But it’s more troubling as a way of choosing the news stories people read. Essentially, Facebook is using the same criteria as a supermarket tabloid: giving people the most attention-grabbing headlines without worrying about whether articles are fair, accurate, or important.

Post election, this algorithm is showing us the fear and the attacks because that is what our friends are sharing. It isn’t showing us the reasoned voices. It is isolating us, and not allowing us to confront the hate directly online. We’ve defriended the other side long ago. And so it magnifies. The following excerpt from the article points out why things feel so bad now:

This dynamic helps to explain why the 2016 election has taken on such an apocalyptic tone. Partisans on each side have been fed a steady diet of stories about the outrages perpetrated by the other side’s presidential candidate. Some of these stories are accurate. Others are exaggerated or wholly made up. But less sophisticated readers have no good way to tell the difference, and in the aggregate they’ve provided a distorted view of the election, convincing millions of voters on each side that the other candidate represents an existential threat to the Republic.

And now that that existential threat has been elected, look at the reaction. Facebook built that fear, folks. Facebook elected this man, folks. One in five people — that’s 20% — say that they changed their vote because of social media:

In a recent survey of 4,579 Americans, Pew found that most people who are exposed to political content across their social media feeds react negatively to it. Nearly 40 percent of respondents described themselves as “worn out” by political debates on sites like Twitter and Facebook, and 80 percent of respondents said that when they see political posts they disagree with, they usually choose to ignore them. Meanwhile, 40 percent reported blocking or filtering political content and/or fellow users who posted political content on their feeds; the vast majority said it was because they felt the content was “offensive.”

But that doesn’t mean said political content has no measurable effect on Election Day. In Pew’s study, 20 percent of respondents admitted that they had changed their minds about a political issue or candidate after seeing the issue or candidate discussed on social media.

Think now about all how all those stories about Hillary and her email server, about how Hillary was dishonest, changed minds about Hillary. I heard an NPR story last night about how Democrats were voting in large numbers for Trump because they didn’t trust Hillary. It was social media that built that distrust. It is also social media that permitted the White Power groups and other haters to be heard in much larger numbers than they actually are. Combine this with the fact that even a single percentage point difference in each state — one in one hundred shifting from Trump to Clinton — could have given the election to Clinton instead of Trump:

Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Florida flip back to Clinton, giving her a total of 307 electoral votes. And she’d have won the popular vote by 3 to 4 percentage points, right where the final national polls had the race and in line with Obama’s margin of victory in 2012.

NPR asks: Did Social Media ruin this election? They note:

This is our present political social life: We don’t just create political strife for ourselves; we seem to revel in it.

When we look back on the role that sites like Twitter, Facebook (and Instagram and Snapchat and all the others) have played in our national political discourse this election season, it would be easy to spend most of our time examining Donald Trump’s effect on these media, particularly Twitter. It’s been well-documented; Trump may very well have the most combative online presence of any candidate for president in modern history.

But underneath that glaring and obvious conclusion, there’s a deeper story about how the very DNA of social media platforms and the way people use them has trickled up through our political discourse and affected all of us, almost forcing us to wallow in the divisive waters of our online conversation. And it all may have helped make Election 2016 one of the most unbearable ever.

We need to realize the impact of social media on this election. We need to realize that the hate voices we are hearing are an overly magnified and emboldened fringe. We need to realize that our fear and loathing of the President-elect — and indeed, much of his behavior and excesses — have been magnified through social media. It will continue to magnify, until we make the decision to stop letting it do so.

We need to take action. We need to speak up for the majority, not amplify the fears and behaviors of the minority. Remember the following:

Get away from the fear. Step away from the keyboard before you share that article about yet another hate attack. Use the amplifying power of Facebook not to share hate, but to share hope. Speak up and say: THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.

It is not acceptable, because Trump campaigned so as to amplify hate, to take that hate out on others in society.

It is not acceptable, out of your fear of and in protest of Trump’s election, to vandalize and destroy.

It is not acceptable to lose faith in our American system, to believe that its checks and balances and restrictions will not serve to temper the behavior of our Chief Executive. It limited Obama, and it will limit Trump.

We are the best of America. We need to show it. We must remember the words of Franklin Roosevelt — the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

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To The Democrats / To The Republicans

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Nov 10, 2016 @ 6:29 pm PDT

userpic=bushbabyTo My Democratic Friends: Take a deep breath and calm down. I’m seeing folks reacting just like the Republicans did when Obama was elected. He’s going to be a dictator! He’s going to take away all our rights! He’s going to undo everything the previous administration did! We thought the Republicans were unrealistic when they said that then, so why are we acting that way now? The same constraints exist on the office. Appointments must be confirmed by 60% of the Senate. The Constitution is still in play, and can only be changed by an amendment or a case that goes through the court system. The President is limited in what they can do. Here’s one good article on that. Congress will limit him further, because they have their jobs to protect. Further, Mr. Trump is going to be hit by the enormity of  the task he has taken on, which is very different than running a business. He’s going to want to win: which means not destroying America, but going down as the Best President Ever™. He’s probably feeling like a dog that has captured the car. I think we’re going to see the office change the man. It has happened to everyone else that has held the office.

To My Republican Friends: Just because Mr. Trump has been elected does not give you the right to act like he has in the past. There are still laws on the books regarding sexual harassment, sexual abuse, hate crimes, discrimination. These laws derive from the constitution, and are not going away even after Mr. Trump becomes President Trump. ACT LIKE ADULTS. Don’t gloat. Don’t be dicks. You’re only making it harder for our government to have a peaceful transition. You’re only making it harder for Mr. Trump to become a better man and this country to be strong. You are exhibiting the worst of America. Further, forget all this gloating about Sarah Palin and other unqualified people becoming cabinet officers. It didn’t happen with Obama, and it won’t happen with Trump, because the Senate cares about this country, and are part of the process to ensure that the right people go into office.

To America In General: Candidates change when they become President. The office changes them. They rarely achieve everything they promise; to do even 25% is remarkable. We all need to calm down, take deep breaths, hug our friends and be there for them. We need to let a peaceful transition occur, because that’s what America is. We need to have confidence in our system of government. It may zig-zag to goals, it may be slow, it may seen byzantine, but it is survived long beyond both good and bad Presidents, beyond honest and corrupt Presidents. Our founding fathers designed it very well, and that is why it has lasted so long.

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Don’t Panic

Written By: cahwyguy - Thu Nov 10, 2016 @ 8:10 am PDT

userpic=stressedI’ve been seeing a number of my friends on Social Media seemingly panicking over the election results (not to mention the protests in the streets). Please folks, if President Obama, Secretary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren aren’t panicking, why should you? Please keep the following in mind:

  • Mr. Trump does not take office until January. Until then, he is just a private citizen. He still has to testify in his upcoming fraud case, and he is not shielded from his legal problems. He still has to figure out how to address his conflicts of interest.
  • All those wild messages you see about proposed cabinet officers and Supreme Court Justices. None of them have been ratified, and they have to get through the Senate, where the Democrats have the power of the filibuster. Sen. McConnell, Majority Leader, has indicated he does not want to get rid of the filibuster. This means that the Democrats have the power to keep unqualified candidates, and those too far to the side ideologically, out of office (just like the Republicans did with them).
  • Trump cannot repeal Obamacare wholecloth immediately. He can do a partial repeal, but many regulations will remain in place.
  • The Military does not support everything Trump says. In particular, they will follow the Constitution, not unlawful orders.
  • Trump will be hamstrung by the nature of the Federal bureaucracy, and the ways the Congress works. He will discover — as Obama did — that the powers of the President are very limited.
  • All the existing laws on the books at the Federal, State, and local levels regarding hate crimes have not instantly gone away. His followers who commit hate crimes can still be prosecuted.
  • Trump does not have the full support of the Republican establishment. It is likely that in many areas they will not support his proposals, or will join with the Democrats to moderate them.
  • Trump will be held to task by those who elected him. What do you think will happen in two years when he hasn’t been able to “blow up Washington” as he promised? Remember, other Presidents have promised the same thing, and have been unable to do so.
  • Trump will also be held accountable by Congress. If he commits clear crimes or even somewhat crimes, the spectre of impeachment will be there. Moderate Republicans would be eager to do so, especially to get the more normative Pence into office. Further, Trump likes to win — and at this point, winning means going down in the history books as the greatest President. That won’t happen if he gets impeached or cannot get anything done. There is a high likelihood that the office, combined with the place he will leave in history, will change him.

I didn’t support Trump; I didn’t vote for him. However, he has been elected, and I respect the office of President even if I don’t like the man (a lesson I learned in the Bush years). I remember the transition from Clinton to Bush in 2000, and from Bush to Obama in 2008. It was peaceful, and we survived. Our nation is stronger than Trump, and we can survive at least two years. Now is the time to start finding those Democrats — future-Congresscritters and Senators — and getting them elected into office. Now is the time to elect Democrats to state offices and the Governorships so that when the redistricting happens, we can make fair districts. The pendulum will swing back. It always does. As they sing in Sweeny Todd: “Wait…”.

As for the people most in danger under Trump’s administration: That is the reason not to run away, not to give up. We must stay here and help them, and defend them. What the Government chooses not to do, we can. We can show the power of the people of America.

PS: Gene Spafford also shared this interesting “Don’t Panic” link. Here’s another on why you shouldn’t be worried.

PPS: Here’s an interesting link on how the checks and balances can prevent Trump from becoming a dictator.

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