🗯️ Band-Aids vs. Solutions

I woke up this morning to the news of the horrible gunman attack in Thousand Oaks, about 40 minutes away from my house (40 minutes is a nothing drive here in Southern California).

Shit.

If you think this is going to be a post calling for more gun control, think again. If you think it is a post calling for more guns to solve the problem, again, think again. Much as I would love more gun control as an overall risk reduction approach, it won’t solve this problem.

I’m an engineer at heart. Limit weapons is only attacking the symptom of this problem. It won’t stop the attacks, it might just make them a little less deadly. Then again, if they shift to bombs, it makes it worse. No, we need to ask ourselves: Why is this happening? What is causing so many disaffected white men — and don’t kid yourself, attacks like these are predominately by white men (not women, not minorities, not ISIS) — to turn to mass destruction as the solution to their problems? Is it violence on TV, violent video games, violent rhetoric, perceived loss of privilege, or something else that is driving them to do it? Why is it happening more and more frequently? Most importantly: What can we change is society to address the root cause?

Thinking about gun control instead of the underlying problem is characteristic of society today. We think about the band-aids, not what is causing the abcess. We worry about immigrants and building walls, without thinking about why they are leaving their countries, and what we might do to address the need to leave. It might actually be less expensive to improve lives in those countries than to build a wall or to send troops to the border. We worry about trade imbalances and what it is doing to businesses in our country, and attempt to impose tariffs as a solution — when we could address the underlying problems and make American products better and more competitive so that other countries want them, even after the advantages the countries give to their own products. That is ultimately a better solution. We rage on about health care and what the government involvement should be, while forgetting about the people and what keeping them healthy can do for society overall.

We spend so much time, effort, and money addressing symptoms of problems, and so little time actually trying to make the problems actually go away. We’re popping pills to hide the pains and control the condition, never taking the time to actually get better.

Let’s resolve to try to actually fix the problem this time.

/end rant

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🗯️ Pressure Relief Valves

Recently, we had to replace the fill valve in our toilet. We went to our local plumbing supply store and got the replacement part, but called a plumber to install it as neither of us have the mobility to get in the tight area required to install it. That plumber, after going outside to “examine” the pressure regulator, later proclaimed that the pressure regulator had failed and our water pressure was too high. That could result in all sorts of damage if we didn’t repair it. He, of course, could do so for around $500.

We suspected he had played with the regulator and broken it. But our pressure was too high. So we called the plumber we should have called in the first place. He examined it, and noted that once installed, if you adjust it you break it. It was broken, and he replaced it and the pressure relief valve as well. Out the door, just over $300. The pressure in our house is lower, damage averted (hopefully).

***

Recently, I went to the doctor because my legs were swelling. He took my blood pressure: 159/119. Although I had been fighting high blood pressure for years, this scared him. We adjusted meds, added walking, and I’m the winner of compression stockings. But the meds are working. For the last three weeks, my lower number hasn’t gone above 80; my higher number tops at around 140. This morning at work, I was 98/58. I’m now getting to deal with the impacts of lower blood pressure: a bit more fatigue, a bit less energy. I’m told my body will get used to it. More importantly, however, the lower blood pressure will reduce the stress on my systems. I’ve already seen a significant reduction in my migraine frequency.

***

Lowering the pressure in your house, and in you, is a good thing. Society these days, however, is also showing signs of being under too much pressure. Systems are failing from the pressure, and the mechanisms we have in place to serve as pressure regulators also appear to be failing. And so the pressure keeps building and building, to what appears to be an inevitable explosion that won’t be pretty. In fact, just like your plumbing, it could leave shit everywhere.

Luckily, however, you have the power to fix that regulator, and it doesn’t cost all that much. All that it needs is: your vote. By mailing in your ballot, or going to your polling place and voting, you can fix the pressure regulator. You can ensure that our regulation mechanisms that are in the system can start working again. You can hold our leaders responsible, in the same way (and with the same scrutiny) that the previous administrations had been held accountable.

But accountability isn’t the only way voting brings pressure relief. Our government gains its authority by the acceptance of its authority by the people as a whole. When our leadership is elected by a mere 20% of those eligible to vote, can it really be called a government of the people? We need voting numbers in the 80% to 100% of legal, eligible voters. Show that this administration is accepted by the people, or demonstrate that it does not (and needs to be replaced). That alone is your power, and you gain it by understanding and studying everything on your ballot, and voting with your brain (and not doing what social media tells you).

You have the new pressure regulator and relief valve in your little hands. Tuesday, you can install it. Together, we can reduce the pressure in our nation, and make our systems healthy again.

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🗯️ Understanding My Liberal Political Views

A friend of mine recently posted a great summary of what being a liberal means, written by Larry Allen. It struck very close to home, as I was recently accused of being a socialist, just because I’m a registered Democrat. So I’d like to adapt Allen’s piece to detail my views. For the record, “Socialism” includes workers owning the means of production, and in general, an opposition to Capitalism. “Democratic Socialists” believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few.  That includes the traditional workers owning the means of production. Although both Socialists and Democratic Socialists might register and run as Democrats, that doesn’t mean that the Democratic Party as a whole — or even most Democrats — hold those views (just as White Nationalists and Antisemites might register as part of the Republican party, and even run for office as Republicans does not mean that all Republicans are White Nationalists or Antisemitic).* – See the bottom of the post for an even better discussion of this

So what do I believe. Here is Allen’s piece, adapted a bit:

  1. I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. Period.
  2. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Why? Because someone else’s inability to take care of their health can directly affect me and those I love, both in the diseases to which I am exposed, and the costs I pay for medical care. Somehow that’s interpreted as “I believe the Affordable Care Act is the end-all, be-all.” This is not the case. I’m fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it’s impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes “let people die because they can’t afford healthcare” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.
  3. I believe education should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I’m mystified as to why it can’t work in the US), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt, or to have debt service organizations that put money above the students. You want the future of America — you want to make America successful — it is through our students.
  4. I don’t believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don’t want to work (which is a distinct group from those who can not work). I have literally never encountered anyone who believes this. Ever. However, I just have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Further, I have a problem when those who have the ability to pay taxes go out of their way to avoid doing so through corporate structures, shell corporations, and other chicanery. The wealthy are a part of society, and they need to act that way. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating many of our problems. For those that believe this makes me a Socialist or Communist, I suggest you look up the definitions of those terms.
  5. I don’t throw around “I’m willing to pay higher taxes” lightly. If I’m suggesting something that involves paying more, well, it’s because I’m fine with paying my share as long as it’s actually going to something that I believe in. There are many things the government spends money on that I don’t agree with, such as giving tax breaks that increase corporate profits.
  6. I believe companies should be required to pay their employees a decent, livable wage. Somehow this is always interpreted as me wanting burger flippers to be able to afford a penthouse apartment and a Mercedes. What it actually means is that no one should have to work three full-time jobs just to keep their head above water. Restaurant servers should not have to rely on tips, multibillion-dollar companies should not have employees on food stamps, workers shouldn’t have to work themselves into the ground just to barely make ends meet, and minimum wage should be enough for someone to work 40 hours and live.
  7. I am not anti-Christian. I have no desire to stop Christians from being Christians, to close churches, to ban the Bible, to forbid prayer in school, etc. (BTW, prayer in school is NOT illegal; *compulsory* prayer in school is – and should be – illegal). All I ask is that Christians recognize *my* right to live according to *my* beliefs. When I get pissed off that a politician is trying to legislate Scripture into law, I’m not “offended by Christianity” — I’m offended that you’re trying to force me to live by your religion’s rules. You know how you get really upset at the thought of Muslims imposing Sharia law on you? That’s how I feel about Christians trying to impose biblical law on me. Be a Christian. Do your thing. Just don’t force it on me or mine.
  8. I don’t believe LGBT people should have more rights than you. I just believe they should have the *same* rights as you.
  9. I don’t believe illegal immigrants should come to America and have the world at their feet, especially since THIS ISN’T WHAT THEY DO (spoiler: undocumented immigrants are ineligible for all those programs they’re supposed to be abusing, and if they’re “stealing” your job it’s because your employer is hiring illegally). I’m not opposed to deporting people who are here illegally, but I believe there are far more humane ways to handle undocumented immigration than our current practices (i.e., detaining children, splitting up families, ending DACA, etc). I do believe there should be process of vetting immigrants and those claiming refugee status; I think there should be a path to citizenship for those that pass vetting. That’s different than an open door policy. Most importantly, I don’t fear the immigrant, because immigrants have brought so much to America.
  10. I don’t believe the government should regulate everything, but since greed is such a driving force in our country, we NEED regulations to prevent cut corners, environmental destruction, tainted food/water, unsafe materials in consumable goods or medical equipment, etc. It’s not that I want the government’s hands in everything — I just don’t trust people trying to make money to ensure that their products/practices/etc. are actually SAFE. Is the government devoid of shadiness? Of course not. But with those regulations in place, consumers have recourse if they’re harmed and companies are liable for medical bills, environmental cleanup, etc. Just kind of seems like common sense when the alternative to government regulation is letting companies bring their bottom line into the equation. Remember this: Every government regulation is there because some individual or company tried to play fast with what they could do, and someone or something got hurt or could be hurt. Regulations are in place because the people we trusted to not abuse the system abused the system.
  11. I believe there are some in our current administration that behave in a way that can be seen as fascist. This is because I have studied antisemitism, and the history of facism, and I see the similarities.
  12. I strongly believe in consistency: If a particular behavior is wrong, it is wrong no matter who is doing it, and no matter their party affiliation. If you would investigate Hillary for her use of a private server, investigate Trump for his use of private phones. If you would investigate a foreign government being involved in Hillary’s campaign, do it for Trump. Same level, same intensity. Wrong behavior is wrong.
  13. I believe the systemic racism and misogyny in our society is much worse than many people think, and desperately needs to be addressed. Which means those with privilege — white, straight, male, economic, etc. — need to start listening, even if you don’t like what you’re hearing, so we can start dismantling everything that’s causing people to be marginalized. We need to turn down the hate, and ensure everyone has equal advantage.
  14. I am not interested in coming after your blessed guns, nor is anyone serving in government. What I am interested in is sensible policies, including background checks, that just MIGHT save one person’s, perhaps a toddler’s, life by the hand of someone who should not have a gun. Think incremental risk reduction, as opposed to a complete solution.
  15. I believe in so-called political correctness. I prefer to think it’s social politeness. If I call you Chuck and you say you prefer to be called Charles I’ll call you Charles. It’s the polite thing to do. Not because everyone is a delicate snowflake, but because as Maya Angelou put it, when we know better, we do better. When someone tells you that a term or phrase is more accurate/less hurtful than the one you’re using, you now know better. So why not do better? How does it hurt you to NOT hurt another person? Further, how does it hurt you to examine your rhetoric — what you say and how you say it? Why do we need to speak in a way that intentionally hurts others, when we can be sensitive.
  16. I believe in funding sustainable energy, including offering education to people currently working in coal or oil so they can change jobs. Why? Simple. We know that coal and oil are limited resources, and some of the materials produced from them are critical to society, such as plastics. Therefore, it makes sense to conserve them for that use when sustainable fuels can be used for other purposes. Science also shows that the climate is changing (there’s no disputing that) — the only dispute is whether mankind is causing it. We need to prepare for that change, and even if there is the smallest chance we are accelerating it, we should do what we can to slow that down. Placing America first does no good if the Earth is uninhabitable.
  17. I believe that women should not be treated as a separate class of human. They should be paid the same as men who do the same work, should have the same rights as men and should be free from abuse. Why on earth shouldn’t they be?
  18. I believe that any living US citizen should be able to, encouraged to, and has the responsibility to vote. I have no problem with registration of voters to ensure that, with commensurate ID requirements, as long as the ability to get those IDs is not onerous for disadvantaged segments of society: the economically disadvantaged who have limited time off work, the single caregivers who can’t take significant time away from those they provide care to, the homeless and nomadic poor who might not have street addresses, the folks with limited mobility who do not have cars or easy transportation. Make it possible for those folks to get the required IDs if they are indeed US citizens, and I have no problems with IDs. Alas, the ID requirement these days is often being used instead of a poll tax to keep citizens from voting, just because segments feel those citizens might vote in a way they do not like.

This is a living document. Don’t be surprised if I add more, or clarify what is here.

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* Over in another FB discussion, Sam Manning described the political philosophies this way, which I really liked:

Most people are confused about political definitions as indicated in the above. Communism is defined two ways, politically and economically.  Don’t confuse Totalitarian Communist systems with softer systems that are democratic socialist systems and capitalistic. There are benign forms of socialism in Western Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. China is Totalitarian politically and Capitalistic simultaneously. 

Normally, anarchists and radicals are linked to the left. A Liberal isn’t any of the above, they simply believe in change and that government can improve our chances.

Nazis are racist and believe in a state-industrial alliance.  Fascism and Nazism are linked but Nazism is Hardline Fascism. Rigid Fascists states include Italy in WWII, Argentina under Peron, Paraguay under Stroesner, Spain under Franco, Chile under Pinochet. 

Reactionaries are linked to the right and believe in paternalism and a landed aristocracy classically.

Conservatives are linked to the right but are not any of the above. They tend to support the status quo and emphasize the status quo.

Moderates cherry pick from both conservatives and liberals.

Progressives in both the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States support workers, fair elections, and free enterprise.

Americans tend towards moderation, compromise, and civil discourse traditionally. We do have eras where our rhetoric becomes bizarre. Still, we progress when we use evidence and sensible compromises to adjust our nation, slowly or more quickly, contingent on circumstances.

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🗯️ Private Thoughts vs. The Public Square

In Judaism, there is a prohibition against Lashon Hara, disparaging speech. Gossip and slander are serious sins in Judaism. Judaism forbids causing any deception or embarrassment through speech; it is forbidden even if the statement is true. There are just a few exceptions. The following is an excerpt from the excellent Judaism 101 page on the subject (and here is a link to a longer version of the feather story):

Judaism is intensely aware of the power of speech and of the harm that can be done through speech. The rabbis note that the universe itself was created through speech. Of the 43 sins enumerated in the Al Cheit confession recited onYom Kippur, 11 are sins committed through speech. The Talmud tells that the tongue is an instrument so dangerous that it must be kept hidden from view, behind two protective walls (the mouth and teeth) to prevent its misuse.

The harm done by speech is even worse than the harm done by stealing or by cheating someone financially: money lost can be repaid, but the harm done by speech can never be repaired. For this reason, some sources indicate that there is no forgiveness for lashon ha-ra (disparaging speech). This is probably hyperbole, but it illustrates the seriousness of improper speech. A Chasidic tale vividly illustrates the danger of improper speech: A man went about the community telling malicious lies about the rabbi. Later, he realized the wrong he had done, and began to feel remorse. He went to the rabbi and begged his forgiveness, saying he would do anything he could to make amends. The rabbi told the man, “Take a feather pillow, cut it open, and scatter the feathers to the winds.” The man thought this was a strange request, but it was a simple enough task, and he did it gladly. When he returned to tell the rabbi that he had done it, the rabbi said, “Now, go and gather the feathers. Because you can no more make amends for the damage your words have done than you can recollect the feathers.”

Speech has been compared to an arrow: once the words are released, like an arrow, they cannot be recalled, the harm they do cannot be stopped, and the harm they do cannot always be predicted, for words like arrows often go astray.

Which, of course, brings us to Facebook and other social media.

Think about what you post and what you share on the social media you use. Think about what your friends share. Ask yourself: How much of it is, essentially, gossip and innuendo? How much of it is the telling of tales? How much of it is implication without proven fact? How much of it is bullying, the calling of names? How much of it is intentionally designed to make fun of, to “own” a particular side (in a bad sense)? How much of it is harmful speech?

How much of it do YOU originate, propagate, or share?

Remember again: Speech has been compared to an arrow: once the words are released, like an arrow, they cannot be recalled, the harm they do cannot be stopped, and the harm they do cannot always be predicted, for words like arrows often go astray.

This is not just a problem for the Conservatives. This is not just a problem for the Liberals. Both sides do it.

Think what you wish, privately. Think closely about what you post, what you say, and how you say it. Stick to proven facts, not rumors. Let’s get disparaging speech off social media.

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🗯️ On The Horizon

This week has truly disturbed me. I’m not specifically talking about the specific people in the news and what they have done (although that’s been pretty horrific). Rather, I’ve been talking about what I’ve seen on social media in response — and it truly is frightening me. If we look back at the American Civil War in the 1860s, the groundwork for it was laid many years before — some argue it was laid at the time at the founding of this country, and the specific items that led to the actual Civil War were triggered by a number of Supreme Court cases, including the Dredd Scott decision. But that Civil War — horrible as it was — had one distinct advantage. The ideological lines roughly could be drawn as geographical lines. There were clear areas that held one view strongly, and clear areas that held a different view strongly. That led to secession and a traditional ground war.

The foundational problem that led to the Civil War is still around. There is a divide in this country and it is growing, a divide created by some fundamental constitutional decisions. The wounds from the first Civil War are festering and malingering. This week — again, a battle over a Supreme Court justice, and his positions on a number of decisions — are adding fuel to the fire. But unlike the last Civil War, this one will not have clean geographic battle lines. There is no territory to secede, no traditional armies to form, no place for those armies to line up and take aim at each other (except on social media). There is still anger, there is still brother against brother, but this time it is at the level of Shia vs. Sunni in the Middle East: a block by block, house by house, room by room division that can only be fought in the most dangerous way: through propaganda, through terrorism, through mess shootings, through IEDs. It is a something that is not fought by formal armies, but by lone angered crazies, trying to bring a point home, so desparate for their side that they will do anything.

As we have seen, such a war is dangerous not only for the civilians in the middle, but it is a war where there is no clear victory and no one to surrender. It is a war that does not win a cause and destroys a nation. It is a war that stops only when the people arise and say, “Enough!”, and either convince the losing side to  change their mind (unlikely) or find a pocket of the country where they can be kicked out to, to be isolated and live the way they want. The latter, although *a* solution, is not *the* solution. Further, the solution is not legislating one side’s goal, for that just kicks and anger and resentment down the road, to let it fester and grow. The solution may not be compromise either, for that doesn’t resolve the fundamental problems. Ask yourself: Did the Civil War solve the race problems in America? Did the Civil Rights Act of 1965 solve the problems?

Here’s the divide as I see it.

On one side you have what I we’ll call the “Blues”: using the name Democrat is wrong, because the coalition is broader than that; the name Progressive is wrong because of the pejorative nature of the term; the term Liberal is wrong because it has been coopted into an curse word. These folks are libertarian in the social sense: what people do is there own business, and someone else’s beliefs should not be forced upon them. They fundamentally respect the rights of others in a similar way — and argue against discrimination or privilege based upon characteristics — sex, skin color, orientation, gender, social status, religion, and many more. They care about others, often at a personal cost to themselves (and often, they are willing to take burdens upon themselves, such as taxes, to help others). That does not mean they are fiscally irresponsible — they don’t want to spend just for spending’s sake — there needs to be an outcome. They are not universally against war, but I do think there is a belief that when war is waged, it must be just and for the right purpose, and have a clear victory point. They are a bit more against the war machine — the complex that supports war and tends to want to feed itself — and would rather not only those funds, but the talent and intellect to be used for productive purposes and to benefit society (as was done with the DARPANet). They are distinctly against inherit and inherited privilege, believe in consent and the right for the individual to dictate what is done regarding their bodies, and they demand respect for themselves as individuals.

On the other side, you have a few of the same characteristics — a demand for respect, calls for fiscal restraint. Let’s call this side the “Reds”, for it isn’t the traditional Republican Party, and it has gone beyond the Tea Party. The term Conservative is wrong because it too has both become pejorative and coopted, and to call it the party of the Privileged Old White Men is wrong because there are other sexes and races represented. But it does appear to be a party of Fundamentalist beliefs (including evangelical), and all that goes along with them. It does appear to be a party that believes in fixed social and economic strata, and that people have their places therein. It is the party that believes in the divide between the 1% and the rest, in the divide between black and white, man and women, and that each have their place in society. It is a party that believes it is acceptable to mandate their fundamentalist views on people that believe differently (although, arguably, they view what the Blues are doing as exactly the same thing). Thus, if they believe life begins at conception, everyone has to hold that view. If they believe that certain characteristics give an entitlement for a particular behavior and privilege, then that is how it must be. They are willing to fight war — and not only have the guns, but are willing to use them against the Blues whenever and whereever necessary. They don’t understand the positions that the Blues take, and weaponize that mis-understanding. This week was a good example of that: when the Blues get concerns about sexual assault and their victims, the Reds threaten to weaponize sexual assault claims — real or imagined — against the Blues (and that has started). The Reds will figure out a way to weaponize any freedom, and use it to destroy and divide — freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of religion, the 2nd Amendment. While the Internet wasn’t designed for this purpose, they’ve weaponized it as well, using it as a way to amplify their voices, spread propaganda, engender distrust, fan the flames of resentment, and sow the seeds of discontent. They’ve used it to find others with similar feelings, and they’ve begun to organize (and, in response, the Blues have used the Internet for the exact same thing).
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†: Admittedly, this is from my perspective as a Blue, and thus is a bit skewed, and perhaps a bit pejorative. But that is (at least) the perception I have, so if someone wants to clarify or correct my characterization of the Reds, please do so.

This divide is real. The adherents are intransigent. There is more similarity between the two sides than they would admit about wanting to legislate their worldview on those who believe otherwise. The worldviews may, indeed, be incompatible. But both sides believe in their hearts and mind, with 100% of their being, that they are in the right. If there is reconciliation, it is only temporary. Both take advantage of any tool that is given, and use it in the worst way.

[ETA: One of the things leading to that is inconsistency. If some particular action is done, it needs to be done independent of whether it is your candidate or not. So, if you establish the tradition of not considering a Supreme Court candidate nominated by the other side in an election year because — you know, election — then don’t be surprised when the other side wants the same delay when your side nominates a candidate. To not delay shows the original delay to be weaponized political ploy. Or, to use the Ford case as an example, if you bring up sexual harrassment charges, then you must be consistent. Don’t stop the investigation if the accused candidate withdraws the nomination — continue to investigate and either confirm the charges, or clear the name and go after the false accuser. To do anything else demonstrates it was just a political ploy weaponized. Further, you need to be willing to believe as true and investigate any claim made against your side as well. The issue is believing the claim, investigating it  well, and taking actions based on the findings — whoever the claim was against. If you investigate every little claim of bad legal behavior when your opposition is in office, you need to be willing to do the same level of investigation when it is your guy behaving badly. One of the best tools to close the divide is consistency.]

The most disheartening thing is that I can’t see a solution. The anger will grow and grow on both sides until it erupts in warfare. I like to point out one of my favorite books, The Late Great Days of the State of California by Curt Gentry — about the election of Ronald Reagan in 1965 in California — as a warning shot of what was to come. The seeds of this war and anger were planted by the election of Reagan to the Presidency in 1986, and the subsequent election of Bill Clinton in 1992. Each set the anger in motion; each was a dividing point for the country. The election of Bush 43 and the Supreme Court intervention in Florida that gave him his office and the subsequent swing to Obama was the fertilizer, and the election of Trump has combined the ingredients into a weapon.

It’s not pretty out there, except for being pretty disgusting. What is worse: I don’t see an answer. It just leaves me very worried and scared for our future.

If you see a reasonable answer and a way to fix this before it becomes worse, please share it.

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🗯️ Thoroughly Regusted at the Lot

userpic=divided-nationI was working from home today, and in between tasks, I was following the reactions from the Judiciary Hearings. I’m completely regusted at the lot.

From the Democratic side, I’ve seen nothing but support for the folks making the accusations. I heard about the Republicans constantly interrupting Democratic speakers and women. I heard about Kavanaugh acting like a child, crying and shouting. Certainly not judicial temperament. Everything that I’ve seen about this is a clear demonstration that the man doesn’t have the temperament for the Supreme Court, let alone respect for the judicial, evidentiary, or legal processes. We’ve seen the Republicans treat women who accuse men as if they were dirt, and I hope the voters remember come November.

As for my Republican friends: Well, they’ve been sharing memes that slut-shame. They’ve been blaming the women for any attacks received. They’ve had nothing for praise for Kavanaugh and the Republican leaders. They didn’t care about the outburst. They don’t want any investigation; they don’t care about any evidence that contradicts the story they’ve been fed. They believe these women are doing this solely out of political motivation and to besmerch Kavanaugh’s good name. They’ve made up their minds, and they will hold the vote and confirm him, despite what they’ve heard and seen. Oh, and anyone who comments with a different view is attacked mercilessly and mocked.

I had an evangelical friend yesterday write about “Three words”. He was complaining about the three words “He assaulted me. He raped me. He groped me.” and their impact on men’s lives. He proclaimed the women were lying, using the example of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife. In his view, all women were deceitful and temptresses. I didn’t have the energy to point out to him that the Bible was written to support the view of the patriarchy, to build a society where men were in power and to justify that power. This is what led to both the evangelical as well as the Orthodox Jewish view of women and the notion of Complementarianism (which you should understand — it is fundamental to why the toxic masculinity culture is what it is). I didn’t have the energy to point out the impact of three actions: raping, groping, and assault, on women.

The interesting question is: Why? What did Kavanaugh do to be rewarded so handsomely, besides his record of torpedoing anyone with the name of Clinton? It is his Belief that the President is above the law? More likely, it his position on abortion.

I have seen evangelicals touting the fact that Kavanaugh’s appointment to the court will protect the deaths of unborns. They care more about their interpretation of Christian theology and forcing that on everyone no matter what  their religious views. What we have in this country is a compromise between the view that life begins at conception, and the view that human life begins at birth (a more Jewish view). We’ve compromised on the point where the foetus can be viable outside the womb on its own, perhaps with some life support. That is a compromise.  However, in order to enforce their view, they are willing to put one of their own on the court, no matter what it takes. Never mind his temperament. Never mind his past. Never mind that he really isn’t Supreme Court material — that he’s going in to push one ideology.

All this comes from the notion that Trump was selected by God. A while ago, I posted a great article on why evangelicals love Trump, even with his behavior. Read it. Understand it. Be scared.

The divide in our country is growing. Intolerance and hatred is growing. I fully expect that if the blue wave arrives, we’ll see impeachment of Supreme Court justices on top of the President. I don’t know what can be done to stop it (the hatred and partisanship, I mean. I’m all for the impeachment.).

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🗯️ Chickenheart, Chickenshit, Grab Me Some Tail

Yesterday, when I read about the prison sentence for once-comedy-icon Bill Cosby, I sent myself a note with the words “Bill Cosby and Suge Knight”. I had planned on writing a blog piece on a subject I’d touched upon before: What do we do about the art, when the artist is problematic? Or, to be more concrete: What should I do with my Bill Cosby comedy albums (I’ve always loved “Chicken Heart”) now? Did folks stop listening to rap artists when the artist or the artist label committed murder?

But then, during my shower, an interesting contrast hit me: We have a black man attempting and committing sexual assault, who gets those charges investigated, and gets convicted and sent to jail. We have a white man, Brett Kavanaugh, who also has charges made against him from multiple women for sexual assault, and we can’t even get those charges a proper investigation, and the white man will likely go to the Supreme Court as a justice. He was nominated by another white man who has also assaulted women, and those charges were never formally investigated. All three are men of power. So what are the differences? Why do the white guys dodge responsibility? What does this say about our attitudes?

I’m not trying to defend Bill Cosby — far from it. Rather, I’m disturbed by the fact that when the person who has allegations of sexual shenanigans is black and/or an entertainer, we get investigations and prosecutions. When it is a white politician — especially a politician from the party in power — we get … excuses. Oh, why didn’t she bring this up earlier (note: she did). Oh, these charges are politically motivated. Oh, the woman is lying. Oh, she can’t remember every detail, so it must not be true. Oh, he has friends that vouch for him — he couldn’t have done it. The Cos had friends that vouched for him as well. He still did it. Oh, he was drunk, so it shouldn’t count.

What message are we sending to our daughters and sons?

In an interesting bit of parallelism, the LA Times has an article on the impact of the #metoo movement and its connection with both Cosby and Kavanaugh. Interesting reading. These are very different times than the days of Anita Hill, or the days when Bill Clinton was being impeached for lying about an affair. Today, Clarence Thomas might not be on the Supreme Court, and Bill Clinton might have been charged with sexual harassment, abusing a position of power. It is completely wrong that a man with multiple allegations of sexual misconduct is not having those charges seriously investigated, even if he is from the party in power. Political affiliations does not make it right. The Republican members of the Senate Judiciary committee, and the politicians that support them, are sending a message to the women of this country (and the men that stand with the women).

I’m not sure they will want to hear the reply in November.

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🗯️ Anger Makes My Head Explode

userpic=divided-nationYesterday, a Conservative friend of mine began a political post (wherein he shared a link from Fox News) as follows: “Whereupon liberal heads explode…”. This is a style of rhetoric I’ve seen from the right before: Doing things just to “make Liberal heads explode”. There’s so much anger and hatred expressed towards a broad group. It is as if they were _______-ist. But what gets me most is this attitude of hate towards groups.

Further, if you think I’m letting my side off the hook, you’re wrong. I get equally annoyed when I see on the Liberal forums that a read: “Oh, that will piss them off” or other things that express hatred towards all Trump supporters or all Conservatives. Of course, these are Liberals, so we know there’s no hate or _______-ism in them. Right? But for Conservatives? [In fact, there’s a cartoon going around Facebook making just that point — of how Liberals are accepting of anyone … except Conservatives].

Hate. Hate. Hate.

I just hate hate.

Seriously: If we are to move this country forward, we’ve got to get past this hatred of groups of people. Yes, people can choose their politics, unlike their skin color, sex, gender, orientation, or other protected classes. But that’s not a reason to hate people as an entire group. Hate and protest ideas and political positions. Dislike individuals. But don’t do things just because you don’t like broad groups, or just to piss off broad groups.

Doing things to piss of groups of people — doing things to make others angry — that’s just being a bully. You are better than that.

Just stop it. In Jewish tradition, tomorrow is the day of repentance — a day to commit to make changes in your behavior. Take advantage of it, and vow to stop this senseless hatred of groups, and doing things just because it will piss someone else off. You’re better than being one of the “Get off my lawn” nasty old men.

G’mar Chatima Tovah.

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