🗯️ Do The Math

Yesterday, writing about the importance of a free press and depending our mainstream media, I emphasized the phrase “follow the evidence”. That’s what scientists and journalists do. Today, I’m encouraging you to do the math. This is because our free press, which follows the evidence, is highlighting the fact that online trolls are using immigration as a wedge issue for November elections. Here’s a slightly edited (to add context) quote from the article:

In a new report, the Digital Forensic Research Lab at the Atlantic Council, a nonpartisan Washington think tank that partnered with Facebook, concludes that the shuttered pages and accounts [that were part of a covert operation to stoke racial tensions in the United States] were run by or linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency, the troll farm in St. Petersburg that U.S. officials say meddled in the U.S. presidential election in 2016.

One of the pages had an administrator from the Russian agency — “the most direct link between the recent accounts and earlier troll farm operations,” the report states. Two of the pages, including Aztlán Warriors, were also linked to Twitter accounts believed to have been created by their operatives.

The Russian agency and 13 of its employees were indicted in February on charges brought by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on allegations that they sought to interfere “with U.S. elections and political processes.” U.S. officials have since said that Kremlin-backed groups have continued to spread mayhem in American politics.

The nation’s volatile immigration debate has amplified online, researchers warned, and foreign operatives and homegrown trolls are using it as a political wedge ahead of the November elections. The report said the online disinformation campaign was likely to grow more sophisticated, with bad actors tailoring their posts, videos and other content to target communities of color — and to hide who is controlling the message.

“Covert influence campaigns, some steered from abroad, are using disinformation to drive Americans further apart, and weaken the trust in the institutions on which democracy stands,” the report warns.

During the upcoming election, you will see Internet sources and politicians urging you to fear the immigrant. They will make you fear that they are coming to take your jobs. They will make you fear that all sorts of evil people are streaming across the board, hoards coming to do unspeakable things, and that they are the only people standing between you and the unthinkable them. They will try to make you believe that only by electing them will you keep your communities safe. They will play on your fear. They will play on your nationalism. They will play identity politics.

But do the math.

Ask yourself how many immigrants — legal or otherwise — have come across the border over the years. Look at the percentages of documented vs. undocumented, and how they have changed. Look at the overall percentages of good immigrants vs. bad. When you look at the “bad” category, make a distinction between those whose only crime is crossing the border without papers vs. the more violent crimes of the MS13 variety. I believe that you will find that — with the extensive vetting we do — the amount of “bad actors” in documented immigrants is minuscule. There is probably greater risk of getting hit by a car when crossing the street, or getting in a car accident. For the undocumented immigrants, the percentage is likely a bit higher, but I do not believe it is a large percentage of those crossing. The fear is being magnified out of proportion to the risk.

Are they coming to take your jobs? To answer that, ask yourself: Why would an employer hire an immigrant over you? If it is because they have more skills or are harder working or have a better work ethic — can you blame the employer? That’s something that is in your power to fix — capitalism means the employer wants the best employee possible. They also want that employee at the lowest possible wage. Are you willing to work for that low wage? If not — don’t blame the immigrant, blame the employer. Just as you’ll order from Amazon rather than patronize the local merchant because of price, the employer is simply being a capitalist. Do you want to solve the problem? Raise the minimum wage to something that you will work for, making the playing field even.

What about those undocumented immigrants? Surely they want your job? First, note that an employer is taking a risk hiring undocumented workers. What makes it worth the risk? The fact that they can use fear to exploit them further: not giving them legal benefits or legal wages, making them work longer hours, locking them in buildings, giving them bad working conditions. You wouldn’t work under those conditions, so they aren’t taking your job. But what the employer is doing is wrong. Again, blame the employer, not the undocumented worker. The worker is just trying to feed themselves and their family. It is the employer that is taking advantage of them — again, doing what employers do under capitalism: get the employee who does the most work for the lowest price.

Immigrants have built this country. All of your major companies and industries in this country were started by immigrants (or (children of)n>0 immigrants). Immigrants run your corner markets and restaurants. They bring new ideas and hard work, and truly appreciate the freedoms that we have. They may come from different places, and may workship in different ways, and may speak different languages, but that diversity gives this country strength. Do the math. Don’t fear the immigrant.

Do, however, fear the politicians that play on your fear and try to manipulate your emotions. Fear the Internet sites that do the same, for an agenda that they do not publicize. Follow the evidence, and the sunlight and wisdom it brings. Don’t give in to the fear.


🗯️ Follow the Evidence

Reading today’s non-editorial about the importance of a Free Press in the LA Times this morning* got me thinking about journalism and science. Both are evidence and science based (which is perhaps why the President hates both). Both go wherever the evidence takes them, even if it goes against the theory they are trying to provide or the story they want to tell. Both focus on fact, not fiction. Both respect peer review and independent confirmation of facts. Both encourage others to verify their results and findings.
(*: Wherein the LA Times said, a free press is important, but dammit we’re so free that we’re not going to let anyone else tell us when to editorialize about it)

Both also have factions that push fictional science for agendas, that publish papers where the evidence is questionable or the conclusions are unsupported by the data, but that purport to be true (cough, anti-vaxxers, cough). These factions have ardent believers, who through intricate conspiracy theories believe the world is against them because the non-believers dispute their fraudulent findings. Even when confronted with evidence from multiple independent reputable sources, they cry “fake” at the truth, put on their tin-foil hats, and continue to march along the path of ignorance.

But focusing on the evidence, following the evidence, is the hallmark of both. So let’s follow the evidence:

  • Hillary Clinton. “Lock her up”, they say. “Investigate her crimes”, they say. “Follow the evidence”, I say. There have been numerous investigations — both Congressional and FBI — into her purported crimes. There has been Congressional testimony. However, there has been no sufficiently strong evidence uncovered — evidence that will stand up in court — to indict and try. Without evidence, in this country, we do not lock people up. Without a trial, with sufficiently strong evidence to convince a jury, we do not lock people up. But Congress is free — if there is sufficient evidence — to start up a new investigation. Congress is also controlled by the party that ran against Hillary. But they do not start the investigation, even though they have the majority to do so. What does that evidence say about the evidence they do have? Conclusion: There is insufficient evidence to investigate further.
  • Robert Mueller. “It’s a witch hunt”, they say. “It’s a fake investigation”, they say. “Kill the investigation,” they say. “Follow the evidence”, I say. If, as with Hillary Clinton, there is insufficient evidence to indict, there will be no indictments. If there was nothing wrong, why fear the investigation. After all, did Hillary Clinton say “Stop the investigation, it’s a witch hunt”? Hillary Clinton knew she did no wrong, and thus had nothing to fear from the investigation. Donald Trump is surely better than Hillary, and should be able withstand a deep investigation. After all, if he did nothing wrong, then there will be no evidence he did nothing wrong. Follow the evidence. [Never mind that the evidence is certainly finding indictable offenses from those under him, and it is certainly finding evidence of contact between the Trump team and Russia, and it certainly finding evidence that Russia wanted to elect Trump and manipulated — through propaganda and cyberattack — the election to that end. There may not be collusion in the end, but they were working towards the same goal, and the evidence uncovered is certainly troubling and would be a major problem is any other President had done it — and that should be the standard.]
  • Fake News. There have been numerous cries from the President that any news media that reports unflattering stories about him is fake. However, the hallmark of a strong democracy is its free press that investigates its leaders, that reports on their follies, foibles, mistakes, and yes, crimes. It has been that way in America since its birth — some press more muckraking and sensational than others, perhaps. But is mainstream media fake? “Follow the evidence”, I say. If the press was fake, there would be ample evidence that what was reported was false. There would be no videos or reporting to back it up. There would be discrepancies in the various reports — after all, if it is false, then multiple parties need to come up with the exact same lie and stick to it, without variance. There would be no corroboration from multiple sources. But that’s not the case. The essence of what is reported is based on evidence from multiple sources, and multiple journalistic outlets investigate and come up with the same stories. That’s preponderance of the evidence. Sure, some outlets may have more spin on the news than others, and some spin left, and some spin right. But spin is not falsehood — it is reviewing the evidence and drawing a conclusion. And even then, the spin can be confirmed with evidence, and one needs to look at how the same evidence is interpreted by multiple sources, and look at where the consensus is. Doing that make clear that the bulk of what is out there in the news — I’d guess 80% to 85% percent, with the fringes being non-journalistic internet sources — are not fake news. That also puts the President’s claims — and the claims of groups like Infowars — into the fictional category.

If you take away something from today, it should be the importance of evidence-based reporting — be it science or journalism. It should be the importance of peer review and independent confirmation. It should be that our news media is not fake, and those making the claim are doing it to both push their particular agenda, and to create a smokescreen to hide the truth of that agenda from you.



📰 Lighting the Political Fires

As I continue the process of clearing out the news chum, here is a collection of articles that should serve as political incendiary catalysts, sure to light that political spark of discussion:

  • Nobel Laureate Economist Says American Inequality Didn’t Just Happen. It Was Created. Quote: “Those with power used that power to strengthen their economic and political positions, or at the very least to maintain them. They also attempted to shape thinking, to make acceptable differences in income that would otherwise be odious.”
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Democratic Socialists of America member. Here’s what that means. Just as Trump was a whistle to the hard right folks, Bernie Sanders was a whistle to the hard left. We’ve seen the growth of a subgroup in the Democratic party called the Democratic Socialists. This isn’t a particular party, and it isn’t your father’s socialism. Further, it doesn’t add up financially.
  • Why Are Jews So Pro-Choice? Abortion / Choice. It is one of the driving forces of those on the right to oppose it. But it is also one of those areas where those who aren’t that ilk of Christian feel they are having a Christian moral shoved down their throats. Here’s an explanation of the Jewish position.
  • I Was Fired For Criticizing Trump. We have a President who seems to feel any criticism of him is fake, and he’s convinced some in the news profession that criticism is not allows. What happens when a liberal editorial cartoons runs into a change of ownership at his paper?
  • How to be an uncivil Trump resister without leading a vigilante mob. We’ve all heard the calls for civility. But when should you be uncivil, and how?
  • Immigration in America. Think immigration is a new problem? It is both what made America, and what some claim is destroying it. But do you understand it? Here’s a visualization of immigration to America as the rings in a tree trunk.
  • Trump’s Republican Party, explained in one photo. A real T-shirt at a Trump rally read: “I’d rather be Russian than a Democrat”. This captures what Trump’s identity politics has done to America, and how it can destroy this country. Since when has the Russian system of government with its dictatorship, false democracy, and draconian laws been better that what we have in America, even with the opposition party? I wrote about this with respect to Israel and their new National law about Jews coming first a few weeks ago. Identity politics — in which one group is 100% right and the other group is subhuman — is destructive.
  • Remaining Trump Supporters. What camp do you fall into: (1) Too arrogant to admit Trump was a mistake; (2) Too embarrassed to admit it; or (3) Too dumb to see it?
  • Fake News (no link here — just look at any Trump tweet). A challenge of the day, for those who purport that the news is “Fake”: Find multiple verifiable sources demonstrating a pattern of false news from the source claimed to be fake, other than the one making the claim that it is fake. A couple of times is human error: there needs to be a verifiable ongoing pattern of falsehood, from sources across the spectrum that can be verified.  Note: Bias is different than Fake. Biased news can have the bias filtered out, but is ultimately based on the truth and that underlying truth can be verified. Fake news is false and untrue, and cannot be verified.

As I say, “ready, set, discuss”.


🗯️ Urban Privilege

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working on adding maps to my highway pages (I just finished). As I do this, I’ve been essentially seeing both urban and rural corridors in the state, and my mind has been thinking about the entire state. I mention this because of an interesting phrase that popped into my head recently while on the van to work: “urban privilege”. The notion arose when I was thinking about all the building of freeways, and all the proposals for freeways in all these rural areas that had no need for them. It popped into my head as I thought about all the moves away from individual cars and car ownership, into shared ride systems, commuter trains, and pushing people to bicycles and other forms of personal transportation that are perfect for dense, urban areas. It popped into my head when I thought about the state routes and the road system, and how much of a lifeline that is to rural areas of the state. It popped into my head as I thought about the push for electric vehicles, which have a limited distance they can go on a charge: great for dense urban commuting, not so great for longer rural distances.

In the urban areas, there’s a lot of talk and a lot of thought about “white privilege“: the implicit, inherent benefits one gains by being white in American society. Examples abound, from the shampoo that is given out in hotels that is perfect for Caucasian hair, but less so for ethnic hair, to the fact that there’s no question when a white jumps ahead in line, but not for someone whose black. We’re well aware by now about the “white privilege” in the interaction with law enforcement. For this post, I’m concentrating less on the “white”, and more on this notion of implicit privilege based on a characteristic.

So here’s the premise: Is there such a thing as “urban privilege”? How much of this notion of “urban privilege”, and the unconscious resentment it engenders, be a contributing factor in the rise of Donald Trump?

Think about it: Under the Obama administration (translation: Under an administration perceived as liberal and progressive), there were loads of actions that encouraged things that worked well for those in urban environments. Pushes towards increase ride density and housing density. Pushes towards services in cities. Pushes towards the Internet. Even the Affordable Care Act worked better for people in cities with larger sets of providers and insurers. And because those who have the privilege don’t see it, we were blind to how this played in the rural areas — who were feeling forgotten, neglected, and that no one was listening to their concerns.

And, just like the “Black Lives Matter” movement was an expression of: WE ARE NOT BEING LISTENED TO. Just like Occupy was an expression of WE ARE NOT BEING LISTENED TO. … the rise of Trump was the rise of an electorate and a constituency that was no longer being heard to say: WE ARE NOT BEING LISTENED TO. Donald Trump, for all of his faults, was listening to them and they responded. They, in turn, and responded to being loyal to a fault. [And, by the way, one might argue the same is true for Bernie-crats, who were being ignored by the Clinton wing of the party, and the party was giving an implicit bias towards the Clinton wing]

I’m not writing this to try to apologize for Trump, or excuse his behavior. Rather, this is what we might call “a learning opportunity”. With our eye on the prize — getting Donald Trump and his offensive ideas and behavior out of office — we must learn from this. Here’s what I see we must learn:

  • We must take off our urban privilege blinders. We must think about how our progressive ideas play throughout the country.
  • We must listen. We can’t think that just because we might be urban and better educated, that we are some how smarter or better than the rest of the country. We must hear the concerns of all, and design solutions that work for all.
  • We must realize segments that feel wronged or ignored can choose to work for us, or they can choose to work against us. We’ve seen what happens when they work against us; we must figure out how to turn that energy in a different direction.

The “12 Steps” teach that the first step is recognizing the problem. Then you work on changing your behavior, and making amends for what you’ve done wrong in the past. That is what we as liberals and progressives must do. We can’t, with blinders on, think that we weren’t (at least partially) a contributor to this mess. We have to recognize that to start down the path of fixing it.

So (to bring this back to highways): How do we address this issue? How do we ensure that tax dollars and other funds raised for transportation purposes benefit not only the urban commuter, but the rural transportation user? Is it more effective trucking of goods to lower costs? Better design and maintenance of rural roads to prevent closure during adverse weather conditions? Is it figuring out how to make the notion of ride sharing work in a less-dense environment, or an environment with more on-demand vs. regular usage.

I don’t have the answer. But the question is worth asking.


🗯️ Flaws in the American System

While eating lunch the other day, I was reading an article about the rolling back of EPA regulations, and it got me thinking. Specifically, it got me thinking about how the current Republican administration has shown the danger of governing through regulation and executive order: it is far too easy for a subsequent administration to roll things back. The administration has also uncovered a number of other flaws in our systems — ways that the rules are being exploited in ways that do harm, or ways that allow manipulation of the system in ways that are… less than good. Here are some stream of consciousness thoughts on this:

  • Governing by executive order or regulation is proving far too easy to undo, or too easy to institute. It is also particularly one sided. There should be a requirement (likely a constitutional amendment) that Congress needs to consent to the Executive Order — or reject it within a specified number of days — for it to take permanent effect. Regulations currently require publication and review before they go into effect; there should be similar requirements before they are removed or modified.
  • Recent elections have highlighted flaws in the current Electoral College approach. Our current system has become a cascade of winner takes all — from districts to electors to the White House, and the voice of the people (i.e., the majority) gets lost through manipulation of the process. The system needs to move — at least at the Presidential level — to the winner of the popular vote. Smaller states can still make their voice heard through the Senate.
  • Gerrymandering has gotten ridiculous, and has seen district boundaries drawn to benefit parties, not the people. The requirements for district determination should change to require them to be drawn by an independent, politically balanced board, with the goal of having compact districts. One would like to have commonality of interests, but that can be easily exploited to serve one group and disadvantage the other. However, diversity can and should be a goal within compactness — and that diversity includes political diversity to have competitive districts.
  • The 14th Amendment promotes equality, but has been problematic with the categories of equality. It must be clear that equal protection under the law — equality — covers a broad swatch of protected categories: skin color, sex, gender, religion, orientation, size, and other characteristics out of control of the individual.
  • The 1st Amendment has shown itself to be badly written in a number of ways. Looking at Freedom of Speech in particular, it has been used to achieve freedom of hate speech. There needs to be some specific categories of speech with limitations — specifically, speech advocating violence or hatred based on “protected categories” needs to be limited. The flip side of this, alas, is that haters will always find a way to exploit the rules. Hate, unfortunately, is like water — it always finds a path.
  • The 1st Amendment expression of Freedom of Religion needs to be similarly clarified. It needs to be clear that the government must not establish a national system of beliefs, nor give preference to one form of belief expression (or lack thereof) over another. Citizens must explicitly be free to practice their belief system as individuals, but that freedom only extends to them, and cannot impinge on someone else’s practice of their belief system. In other words: I cannot impose my belief system upon you, even thought I believe I’m doing it for your own good. That also means we need to learn to not judge others based on our beliefs; reserve judgement for whatever higher power you believe in.
  • The 2nd Amendment has proven equally ambiguous. It must be clear that gun ownership is allowed, but that gun ownership is subject to reasonable regulation to protect other citizens. In general, the type and quantity of guns permitted must be appropriate for their intended use, there should be requirements for training and securing of weapons, and the weapon owner must be responsible for any crimes committed by someone using their weapons. Only legal gun owners and registered gun ranges should be able to purchase ammunition. Yes, this won’t stop criminals, illegal weapons, or weapons already out there (although ammunition restrictions might), but risk reduction is better than doing nothing.
  • The Supreme Court has become politicized. The intent of life-time terms was that justices might become independent of politics and judge based on the law alone (similar to academic tenure), but that hasn’t happened. To address that, justices should have term limits that don’t cleanly align with Presidential terms — I’d suggest 21 years.
  • The Constitution has shown itself to be far too weak when faced with a deranged President. There are also Constitutional issues with respect to disputed elections, and elections that are subsequently determined to have been subject to tampering. The Electoral College was supposed to be able to address this, but the power of party politics have destroyed that. There needs to be a recall and reconsideration process instituted other than impeachment or the 25th Amendment. My thinking in this area has two prongs: First, the ability for a joint session of Congress to examine the past election, declare it void, and select new temporary executive officers from the remaining candidates of that election (who were running in the primaries) until a special election can be held within a specified time frame. Second, the ability for the people to initiate a recall through a cascade of recall requests from some greater-than-majority percentage of the states, using state procedures; again, this would invoke temporary leadership until a special election.

All of these would likely require constitutional amendments. I’d rather these changes go through the amendment process; opening up the entire document to revision would be disastrous. But this administration has highlighted some areas that truly need addressing in light of the changes in society.


Nationalism and Democracy

Yesterday, I read an excellent article in the New York Times by Max Fisher about Israel’s new law restricting national self-determination to the Jewish people (making the non-Jewish population second-class citizens in their own country). The article started by noting the path Israel chose after the 6-day war in 1967, and the warning by David Ben-Gurion:

But Ben-Gurion insisted that Israel give up the territories it had conquered. If it did not, he said, occupation would distort the young state, which had been founded to protect not just the Jewish people but their ideals of democracy and pluralism.

The article had a very interesting note — almost prophetic:

Above all, the law may be a choice between two visions of Israel that have come into growing tension. American diplomats have long issued a version of Ben-Gurion’s warning: If Israel did not make peace with the Palestinians, they said, it would have to choose between its dual identities as a Jewish state and democratic one.

Polls suggest that Israelis have come to agree: Growing numbers see their country as facing a choice between being Jewish first or democratic first. And for many on the political right, the choice is identity first.

This is, in many ways, the same dilemma America is facing  — and has face, after 9/11. There are those in this country who feel the “traditional” identity of this country is being lost (this identity typically being defined as “white, European, Christian, predominantly male”, although that is hardly constitutional, and has been changing since the end of the Civil War). They feel the battle is being lost, and thus elected a champion to preserve that identity. He is making the choice of identity first, democracy whatever. This is clear from his policies and his practices and his statements.

The article I read noted the tensions we are facing:

The modern era endowed countries with two rights, supposedly unassailable, that turned out to exist in tension. The right of national self-determination envisioned states as unified collectives; one nation for one people. And the right of democracy prescribed equal participation for all, including in defining the nation’s character.

Idealistic world leaders who set out those rights a century ago imagined countries that would be internally homogeneous and static. But reality has proved messier. Borders do not perfectly align with populations. People move. Identities shift or evolve. What then?


Civil rights movements challenged countries to broaden national identities long associated with whiteness. The end of colonialism saw mass migration of non-Europeans to Europe; within former colonies, conflicts erupted over who belonged and did not.

The democratic world arrived, in the 1960s, at an informal consensus: If the requirements of democracy and national identity clash, the first should prevail. That didn’t mean abandoning national identity, but it did mean softening how it was understood and maintained.

The article goes on exploring the situation in Israel (which is well worth reading — and troubling, for those of us that supported the Israel of the 1960s, but are less sure about supporting at least the government of the Israel of today). It concludes on this note:

Democracy’s growth has stalled globally. Though the causes for this are not fully known, the trend is marked, in part, by once-healthy democracies rolling backward. Conventional wisdom holds that this is because of mismanagement or the self-interest of leaders. But maybe this is wrong.

Forced to choose between putting democracy or identity first, people may not always pick democracy.

Here in America, we are at that crossroads. Do we put identity first, or democracy first? Do we do whatever we need to do to preserve the power and privilege of white – Christian – heterosexual – male – European, which is the path of Trump? Do we preserve that which makes America strong — and makes America America — its democracy, and the melting pot of cultures that move and morph over time.

Me? I’m choosing Democracy. America is that Chicken Tikka Quesedilla I love from Indy-Mex. It is sushi with cream cheese and lox. It is a pastrami taco. It is a combination of cultures, all equal, all contributing.

All welcome.

P.S.: This Vox article shows my impression of Trump supporters is not wrong: “And the last line, about “the survival of the Christian nation,” is crucial to doing that. Because this sense of existential threat is, according to the best research we have, a vital reason why Trump’s brand of white identity politics has attracted so many followers — and will likely continue to attract more in the future.” Essentially, the upturning of what groups are in the “majority” in America has previously-majority groups facing an existential threat.


Do the Right Thing

userpic=divided-nationThis is a note to all my Republican and Conservative friends, in response to some posts that I have seen this morning about the Democratic reaction to the meetings in Helsinki.

I want you to set aside, for the duration of this post, all your hatred of the left. Set aside your seething anger, your belief against anything Democrats might have to say.

I want you to imagine it is 1980, an election year, with Jimmy Carter vs. Ronald Reagan. The FBI and CIA uncover evidence that the Soviet Union has been meddling — not attempting to meddle, but actual meddling through our media outlets and manipulation of Americans — in the election. It didn’t sway the results, but it is clear that a foreign government — one that has a history of working against the US — has been interfering in our democratic process.

What would have been the reaction of the Republican party?

I want you to imagine that President Reagan held a meeting afterwards with President Gorbachev General Secretary Brezhnev, and after the meeting, said he believed Gorbachev Brezhnev‘s statement that the Soviet’s were not involved, and that the FBI and CIA were untrustworthy?

What would have been the reaction of the Republican party? Remember: This is the party of Eisenhower and Nixon, a party that was renown for going after Communists and Soviets, a party that felt “Better dead than red.” This was a party that did not accept its politicians working for the Soviets. How would they have reacted?

I want you to imagine that President Reagan had insulted our allies in Europe such as the United Kingdom. That he had implied that the US didn’t need NATO.

How would the Republican party react.

I could go on and on. Just imagine how Republicans at the time of President Bush would have reacted to tax cut proposals that drastically increased the national debt?

Here’s my point: Out of hatred for the left, and out of a desire to retain the power of the Presidency, Republicans have abandoned their principles and joined the Cult of Trump. They have abandoned their love of the nation and their principles for a lust for power (and for many, money).

I’m not asking you to vote for Democrats, or to take up progressive causes. But you need to TAKE BACK YOUR PARTY from those that have stolen it from you. Condemn Trump. Condemn his ideas. Condemn his relationship with the Russians. Condemn the Russian interference in American politics. Condemn his abandoning of the norms of the Presidency and Presidential behavior.

TAKE BACK YOUR PARTY. Work to elect Republicans that express the ideas that have been consistently in your party platforms for the last 60 years. Elect Republicans that hold those values, and clearly reject those that blindly express hatred based on skin color, national origin, sex, and other factors. Elect Republicans that hold with Republican fiscal policy of not increasing the national debt. Elect Republicans that understand foreign policy and America’s role in it, that understand which countries are working against American interests. Elect Republicans that believe in the integrity of the National law enforcement and Intelligence Community — almost all of whom are hard working honest individuals have work across administrations for our great nation (I know, I’ve worked with them). Elect Republicans that understand international trade, and how to use it to help — not hurt — American business.

Even though I’m a Democrat, I respected what the Republican party was. They were a good adversary, and working together we found compromises that moved this nation forward in strength. Trump has hijacked your party; your current party leaders have been blinded by his charisma and power. YOU MUST TAKE BACK YOUR PARTY.


I’m Tired

I’m tired. So tired. Here’s what I’m tired of:

  • I’m tired of Trump. I’m tired of dealing with his hate and intolerance, especially of anyone who holds a different view, or didn’t vote for him..
  • I’m tired of the Trump followers — and the Trump haters — who feel that screaming at each other or that making fun of each other will accomplish anything. It might make you feel better in the moment, but it won’t change any minds. It could even do harm, cementing the view of intolerance of the one doing the screaming. Just shut up, and use your energy to actually change the situation. Yes, this goes for both sides.
  • I’m tired of memes. Taking an arbitrary quote, pasting it on top of a picture from a completely different time, and spreading it around the world is meaningless. The picture is out of context and often intentionally misleading. The quote is often out of context. It is, to use an overused term, fake. I want real news, with real context.
  • I’m tired of Whataboutism. If an action is wrong, it is wrong no matter which side of the political spectrum is doing it. Just because “the other side did it” doesn’t make it right. Just because you have the right to do something, doesn’t make it right. Going along with that, however, is understanding the context of the action. Just because sound bites or memes make something seem similar that doesn’t mean the context is the same, or that they are actually similar.
  • I’m tired of oversimplification. The political world is intensely complicated. Things that seem the same may be completely different, depending on context. Social media pushes us to oversimplify for sound bites, tweets, or memes. Resist the urge to do so, and actually study and understand the differences.
  • I’m tired of people seeing other people as a single, one word label. Life is complicated. People are complicated. Rarely can a person’s views be summed up in one word. Note, however, that if you insist on seeing me as a single label; the same may be true.
  • I’m tired of people calling each other names, like we were children in a schoolyard making fun of someone’s big ears. Grow up. How someone looks or dresses or even how they speak makes not one whit of a difference. It is their actions and behavior — what they do and what they say — that matter.
  • I’m tried of Trump: what he does, what he says, how he views as acceptable behavior that was unacceptable before the election (and vice-verse), how he oversimplifies, how he views people as labels, and his calling people names.

I’m also getting fearful:

  • I’m fearful of the hatred that this President has encouraged to come to the surface. Hatred based on origin. Hatred based on skin color. Hatred based on orientation. Hatred based on religion. Hatred based on political orientation. Enough already. This country has had enough hatred over its history. It was shameful then, and it is shameful now. It is time to accept others, in the spirit of freedom that this nation was built upon.
  • I’m fearful of the hatred that hasn’t come to the surface, and what it will do.
  • I’m fearful of the growing anger in this nation.
  • I’m fearful of the fear of the immigrant. I’m not, however, fearful of the immigrant, because almost all are good hardworking people, looking for a better life for their family, safety and security, and to be a part of this great nation. The percentage that are not is quite small, and is likely smaller than the percentage of citizens that wish others harm.
  • I’m fearful that the exhaustion that is setting in from this President will lead people to give up, and not fight to bring this nation back to its ideals of fairness and justice and equality for all. It is easier, after all, to give into the mob and not fight for what is right.

Most of all, I fear that society is getting a collective case of PTSD, although I don’t know how much “Post-” there is. There is certainly a traumatic stress disorder that is growing with every day of the continued partisanship and hatred, and the continued attack on our senses and sensibilities. Recovery for society — once we eventually move past the mishegos — will be slow and painful.

When you get the urge to lash out and scream, to share a meme, or to do any of this, ask yourself the simple question: Am I just doing it to make me feel better? Will it change any minds to help my position? If you are only doing it for yourself, and it won’t advance your cause, don’t do it. Take that energy and redirect it into something that would actually make a difference: fundraising, getting out the vote, and so on. Just imagine how much more good work the non-profits you support could do if you donated the price of a cup of coffee each time you got angry reading something, or wanted to lash out.