Those Who Study History Choose to Repeat it

In 1945 the world ended the hateful, genocide driven Nazi regime.

And we said, “Never Again”.  And we meant it.

In 1965 the US enacted the Civil Rights Act.

And we thought we saw progress, but it was fought tooth and nail, and much of what was gained for those that needed it most was fragile and resented.  And we didn’t do enough.

In 1986 Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was deemed too racist to be a federal judge.

And we thought we made progress.

In 2011 Donald Trump lied that the President of the United States was not an American.

And in the right wing support of that lie, we saw that racism was alive and well, and we did not do enough. We allowed the right wing propaganda machine to tarnish a great president.

In 2015 Donald Trump began his campaign on a platform of hate and bigotry.

And we thought he could never win.

In 2016 Donald Trump continued to advocate hate and violence toward people of color.

And you said, “…But her emails”.

In 2016 it became obvious that Trump had ties to Russia, and ran, at minimum, ethically bankrupt companies and lied without end

And you said, “… she’s just as bad”.

When Trump was supported and cheered by every white hate group in the US,

You said, “I’m not a racist and neither is he. She’s worse.”

When Trump dog whistled the white supremacists and circulated their hateful memes,

You said, “It’s innocent.  He’s not a racist.  She’s worse.”

In 2016 when tapes were found of Trump confessing to be a sexual predator,

You said, “It’s locker room talk.  She’s worse.  And HER EMAILS!”

In 2016 when Trump “won”* the election,

You said, “You don’t understand angry white men” and “there was no Russian Interference, give him a chance.”

In 2017 when Trump kept lying and escalated his attacks on the mainstream media and their first amendment rights,

You stayed tuned to Fox News and agreed with him.

In 2017 when it became evident that Trumps main policy was to overturn President Obama’s social policies,

You stayed silent as rights were trampled and ICE was sent out as an agent of fear in the immigrant communities.  The parallels to Nazi Germany seemed irrelevant to you.

In 2017 we found there was Russian Interference, there was communication and collusion and there may be many more crimes that are yet to be uncovered.

You said, “It doesn’t matter, he won.  Besides, it wasn’t that bad.”

In 2017 When Trump began alienating the US’ traditional allies that help defeat the Nazi’s in WWII,

You reinforced your support for America’s adversary Russia, because liberals don’t understand.

In 2017 when Trump failed to mention Jews in his Holocaust Remembrance speech,

You weren’t bothered, let alone outraged.  Many people did die.  You thought it was a fine message, ignoring the echos of Holocaust deniers and white supremacists.

In 2017 when Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was not deemed too racist to be Attorney General of the United States

You said, “The president can pick his cabinet, stop over reacting”

When Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III decided that civil rights for people of color no longer needed protecting, but the repression of white Americans needed to be litigated.

You were silent, because you are white.

When Trump added Stephen Miller to his administration to write policy,

You didn’t care too much because you are white, you trust the process.

When a white supremacist drove his car into anti-hate protesters and Trump placed blame on the “violent leftists”,

You nodded and ignored the use of the same language Hitler used.

When the KKK and Nazi’s cheered Trump’s words,

You shrugged and said, “He can’t speak for all his supporters.”

When Trump read the words others wrote for him condemning violence and hate groups with the passion and fury of a dandelion,

You said, “See! He is a good man.”

When Trump went further and said there were many “fine people” marching with the Nazis,

You didn’t question it.  Marching with the Nazis and KKK doesn’t make someone a racist.  You ignored the marchers’ chants of “Blood and Soil!” and “Jews won’t replace us!” and their roots in Hitler’s regime.

When Trump equated the armed Nazis to the anti-hate protesters,

You might have said, something, meekly. You did nothing.  You picked party over country.  You picked power over the welfare of our country.  You picked silence over the uncomfortable feeling of doing what is right.  You supported racism and the desire for a new genocide.  Perhaps you need to look in the mirror and really reflect on who you see.

It turns out, we didn’t mean Never Again.  It has begun.  Pick a side.  Many of you are on the wrong side of history.  Hate will not win, we will not let it.

 

 

 

*Until there is a thorough audit of all voting results in 2016 results, it is impossible to say who won the election.  It has finally been acknowledged that Russia attempted to hack at least 21 states on Election Day.  It seems naïve to think they failed completely.  And since the government has refused to look close at results and even took the drastic step of eliminating the commission that oversees and protects voting procedures, don’t you think it smells at least a little fishy?  Seems like the unending of chorus of “we never talked to Russia” which has been proven false.  You make up your own mind, while you continue to ignore the (approximately) 75k votes that were not “counted” in Michigan.

 

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Will We Let Hate Rise Again?

 

In the wake of Charlottesville my heart aches as I stand astounded by the hate and destruction on full display.  What seems clear to me is, inexplicably, nebulous to others.  The hate and violence has been rising for over a year.  It is hard to miss, but it seems many still do.  Information overload may be partially to blame as we now live in a world where lying, contradictions and multiple crises come at us constantly.  Sadly, it is clear that many people have checked out.

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Let’s lay out some facts.

All of the white supremacist groups in the USA (the various neo-Nazis, the KKK, etc.) supported Trump for president.  Trump has never initially denounced them.  He has offered some weak words when called on this fact.

Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, the Attorney General of the United States, was deemed too racist in 1986 to be a federal judge.  He is on record as saying the Civil Rights act is not constitutional.  Coretta Scott King provided strong testimony in 1986 that was squashed in 2017 by Mitch McConnell.  It is interesting the government standards for racism have suddenly become more lax after 31 years.

Since becoming AG, Sessions has

  • Killed many, if not all civil rights suits that were in motion.
  • Ended suits related to police oversight and assistance where police brutality and violence has been found
  • Refused to take on any new cases related to police brutality
  • Has spoken out against legal immigration

A mosque was bombed in Bloomington MN, the president of the United States has not commented on it.  He only commented on a similar event in Canada when he thought it was done by a Muslim.  When it was learned that it was done by someone who supports him and white supremacist groups, he became silent.

A man drove a car into police in France (ultimately. with ISIS taking credit).  The president of the United States could not condemn it as terrorism fast enough a before the facts were known.  After 2 days, he still has not directly commented on the car driven into to counter protesters at a White Supremacist rally in Charlottesville, killing one and severely injuring many more.  The man arrested is known to be a supporter of white supremacist groups.

The rally in Charlottesville started with a torch march, reminiscent of KKK marches.

Many of the members of the Charlottesville march work flak jackets and military gear.  They carried guns, clubs, and other weapons.  Many wore the iconic “Make America Great Again” red hats.  They also wore Nazi and Confederate symbols.  Ostensibly, the point of the rally protest the removal of the statue, honoring the confederacy, of Robert E. Lee.  This was not a rally.  This was a flashpoint intended to be violent.  Thinking otherwise is naïve once you see how locked and loaded, ready for violence the protesters were.

The civil war was indeed fought to end slavery.  The south lost and slavery was eliminated.  As a compromise a few years later, the south was allowed to enact the various Jim Crow laws, which effectively became Slavery 2.0, as Blacks were considered less than whites.  As the rally showed, many still feel that way.

As of this writing, the president of the United States has never really called out Nazi’s and White Supremacists.  In fact, he has 3 in his administration: Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, and Seb Gorka.

As of today, there are 917 Hate Groups being tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center.   Our government wants to ignore those run by whites, like the KKK.

Here we sit.  I believe I have all the above facts straight.  We allow free speech.  But you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater – it is dangerous.  Perhaps, like Germany, we should consider the type of hate speech that is being bandied about by Breitbart, the Daily Stormer and even Fox News as dangerous.  I believe in free speech, but perhaps we’ve gone too far if we’ve allowed everything we fought for in WWII to spring back to life and become a serious threat to our democracy.

The president of the United States did offer some wishy washy comments on Charlottesville.  The Neo Nazi’s celebrated those comments.  I include one here, showing the joy at least one member feels at being supported.

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Since writing the previous paragraph, the president of the United States after waiting 2 days for an aide to write him a stronger speech, made a more pronounced condemnation of white supremacists and their kind.  These were words written for him.  The words he chose on Saturday did not condemn anyone.  He spoke his truth on Saturday.  Today was what happens when smart politicians convince a racist he needs to say something else.  As Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”  That was the non-condemnation.  That was every speech and dog whistle he has made for the last 2 years.  The racists are still celebrating.

So great, we have a problem.  We have lots of problems, where do we start?  What next?  As rational human beings, we need to prioritize what is and isn’t important to us, yet many of us keep our head in the sand.  Do you really know what is happening? Do you care?  If you don’t care and don’t act, you are silently supporting the hate.  Feel free to disagree with me, but if you aren’t calling out the hate and aren’t in some way trying to make the world a better place, you are one less barrier the racists have to worry about.

The more I read and pay attention, the more I realize I know nothing.  I took 2 friends from the south wine tasting a while back.  It opened my eyes.  Afterward, they were emotional because it was an experience they didn’t they could ever have.  They were treated with respect.  Their questions answered without judging their experience.  For me, it was what I expected, but they were moved.  And yes, they are African American. We talked about how they are commonly treated as second class citizens.  I do not claim to know their experiences. I do not believe it is right to suddenly don the mantle of Social Justice and eradicate the behavior to which many minorities are subjected.  Noone has nominated me to be in charge.

But I can be aware.  I can make sure my words and deeds are consistent.  I can call out the casual racism around me.  I do not have to sit by and make sure that family and friends are comfortable in their intolerant attitudes and actions.  I’m not going make a big deal, but I refuse to sit by silently any longer.  People will feel uncomfortable.  Learning is uncomfortable.  Let’s be clear, I’m far from perfect. I’m sure I have a few tendencies and views that need to be modified.  A great journey starts with one step.  Where will your journey start?

What else can we do?  Quite a lot, actually.  I write this to relieve the pressure in my brain and the sadness each new day brings.  I don’t write this to shame anyone, but to provide viewpoints and education.  Hold yourself accountable.  We have a race problem in this country, are you doing anything to help or are you hoping someone else does something for you?  Are you making it easier for racism to flourish around you?

Will you change the channel the next time the news shows you a police officer has killed an unarmed black man like Philando Castile? Or when rogue police officers railroad a teacher to jail because of not using a turn signal like Sandra Bland, who died a mysterious death in jail?  Contrast that with Dylan Roof, who was treated relatively gently while being arrested for murder -the murder of several African Americans in a church.  Will you continue to believe that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist group as Fox News wants you to believe?  Or will you be open to the fact that it is common for the Police to kill unarmed black men and face no consequences.  On one hand we have the police holding African Americans to a higher standard of behavior, while simultaneously they are not help accountable for their actions.  Shouldn’t more of us be outspoken about this?  Or would you rather condemn the quarterback that knelt in protest?  Seems like the focus is entirely in the wrong place for many.

We need to hold our elected representatives accountable.  What are they doing to both end the hate and increase the understanding of our different cultures?  I am appalled that our Justice Department wants to sue colleges for discriminating against whites because of Affirmative Action.  It is ludicrous, but since the AG is a clear racist, what did we expect?  We need to put legislators in place that will uphold our values, the values of the America that is a melting pot, taking in immigrants and refugees without regard to their wealth, their job or their ability to speak English.  Unless you are Native American, your ancestors were immigrants too.  I’m pretty sure many of mine didn’t speak English.  I intend on understand and pushing my local representatives on their agenda to improve racial inequality.

A first key step is to understand white privilege.  Being Jewish, I’m not white, but I’m close enough to have plenty of privilege.  I watched a friend and her son reflect back on their first “talk” when he was 5 or 6.  The talk young black men get to help them understand how to act around authority and not be killed by the police.  They continued on the first time he was really hassled and cuffed by the police at 13, because he must have been a thug.  I’m pretty sure I behaved no differently than this man in my younger years, but I have never been hassled by the police, let alone put in cuffs in the back of a car.  I’ve never made sure I was below the speed limit, so I couldn’t be pulled over randomly.  I most certainly never worried about a broken taillight or headlight.  But then to a drive passing by, I’m white.  This is white privilege in the simplest of terms.  If you are white, you have it.

The next time you see a person of color doing something different than you would do, change the context.  How has their life been different than yours?  What hardships have you avoided so you make different choices?  If they are being treated unfairly will you watch silently or will you walk away? What will it take to move you to action? What are you going to do to build a bridge and make this a better world?  It is no longer enough to wait for someone else to do it.

Finally, I leave you with the final status post of Heather Heyer. She was killed as a result of the terrorist act of driving a car into the crowd in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017.  “If you aren’t outraged, you’re not paying attention.”

Liberty? Who needs Liberty?

Last week 20 world leaders met to discuss a great many concerns at the G20 conference.  What became clear is that the USA, “..the land of the free..” is no longer free.  Oh, we may look free, but in reality we are not.  The question becomes, are we working to be free again or are we happy in chains that allow us to continue to pretend we are free?

Let’s start with some basic facts.

  1.  Russia attacked the USA with fake news, propaganda and cyber warfare to help the current president win.  This is a fact backed up by every USA intelligence agency.
  2. The current president has done everything in his power to color item one so that many people believe it is a false statement.
  3. People will tell you that there is no evidence that the Russian attack swayed votes.  Of course if you are pelted with misinformation made just for you (times 200 million), it would be pretty hard to state no one was swayed.  Many were swayed.
  4. People will tell you that there is no evidence that the Russian attack CHANGED votes.  This is a bit trickier, but there is no evidence because no one looked for it.  No one thought to look for evidence that Jeffery Dahmer was a killer till they did.  Don’t let people tell you it can’t be done.  I believe it was and while it was a large scale, difficult effort, it is hard to believe they didn’t succeed to some extent.  Do not discount social engineering.
  5. The Republican party believes heavily that the minorities and the poor shouldn’t vote.  They enact strict voter ID laws that adversely affect the poor.  They enact horrible laws meant to kick people off the voter rolls, so they cannot vote. (You should read up on Chris Kobach and his operation Crosscheck.)
  6. Many, if not all, GOP members of congress were funded by Russian Oligarchs.  The downside of Super-PACs and dark money is the money from foreign governments that buy your politicians.

Meanwhile, the illegitimate president will tell you there was not contact between his campaign and the ANY Russians.  Meanwhile, here is the list of people involved with the dishonest campaign who have neglected to mention their meetings with Russian officials or emissaries:

  • Michael Flynn
  • Jared Kushner
  • Jefferson Beauregard Sessions
  • Paul Manafort
  • Roger Stone
  • Carter Page
  • Michael Cohen
  • Donald Trump Jr.

Each of these people lied about meeting with key Russian officials before ultimately “remembering” that they did.  In Kushner’s case, he lied to the FBI about it and left it off his security forms.  There were at least 3 different meetings, so spare me the “forgetting” bullshit.  It looks willful from here. Both of those are felonies.

Sessions lied when questioned under oath before the senate.  Oh, and he had multiple meetings that that he forgot.  Really?  If you believe that, I have some magic beans to sell you.

Over the last 3 days Trump Jr. has announced in the press he attempted to commit “treason” or at minimum a reasonable facsimile, but its ok, because he didn’t really do it.  He just tried.  Don’t take my word for it that comes from a legal scholar.

I don’t want to bore you.  Let’s make sure we are on the same page so far.

  1. The Russians attacked your liberty
  2. The current president says “nah uh, they are our buddies”
  3. Every top key player in the campaign met with Russians and then lied about it.

Cool.  I don’t think I need to remind you the current illegitimate president will yell that the news media (unless they are praising him), but has never, ever said a bad word about the Russian President, who is accused of killing journalists and adversaries.  It has only happened more than 20 times, so it could just be a series of coincidences.  (see:  magic beans above)

Now the Russian President assures our stupid, illegitimate president, that “nope, Russia no hack”.  And that is good enough.  It is too bad that Charles Manson, Bernie Madoff, and Al Capone didn’t use that defense.  Seriously people, will you starve while your magic beans lose their sparkle?

But we are not done.  We are going to start a cooperative task force with Russia to work on Cyber Security.  Seriously?  We they attacked us and we want to give them the keys to the kingdom?  They have nukes, but they do not have an army that could beat the USA’s without ending the world.  But your government wants to let them beat us electronically.  And you still be believe there was no conspiracy with Russians to win the last election.

Don’t call it collusion.  It was a conspiracy.  A criminal conspiracy. Don’t fucking normalize it.

Now, I know you are saying this is too far-fetched. Our leaders wouldn’t do this.  Let’s hit some more facts.

  1. Donald Trump defrauded Americans though his Trump University, though there was no “admission of guilt”. Common sense says otherwise.
  2. Donald Trump has paid fines for using his casino for continued money laundering
  3. Donald Trump has been fined more than once for discriminatory business practices
  4. Donald Trump has said that it is not illegal if the president does it (in regards to EVERYTHING)
  5. Donald Trump has lied about his wealth
  6. Donald Trump is obsessed with wealth
  7. Donald Trump uses Russian government talking points from RT and Sputnik in his speaches
  8. The number of Trump owned properties sold to untraceable shell companies has gone from 4% in 2015 to approximately 70% since the election (and that’s not suspicious either)
  9. The head of the government Ethics office resigned because of the continued unethical actions in the current administration. (Before you trash him as an evil liberal, Mr. Shaub was originally put into office by George W. Bush)

Compounding this is the efforts the right wing media go to normalize this.  Let’s call it what it is, propaganda.  Breitbart, Fox News, The National Enquirer all take a grain of truth and add a bit of misinformation mixed with the omission of key facts to get you to believe what they want.  The current agenda is that the corrupt Trump family is saving America and that Russia is our great friend and ally.  And 30% of the country not only loves this, they beg for more.  It sickens me because it is not about politics.  It is about crime and loss of liberty.  We can argue about left vs. right. Guns and butter.  That is not what this is.

I could go on and on.  But take two facts with you

Suddenly it is important to give the federal government all your personal voting information (including your social security number) and we need to give the Russians more access to our cyber security technology, what little there.

Trump wants to be king and you may not care.  Personally, I want to be free and these are the continued steps of turning the USA into a Russian (or Turkish or Venezuelan or Cuban or North Korean or Syrian) style autocracy.  If that’s what you want, please move there.

Here’s what I see coming

  1.  Elections will no longer be free.  They really are going to be rigged, like Russia and Turkey
  2. The movement to make the USA a Christian country will continue to gather momentum (and if I have to explain why this is bad for democracy, let alone wrong, we’ve already lost)
  3. Education will be for the rich.
  4. Healthcare is a privilege for the wealthy – sick people should wallow in their poor life choices
  5. The NRA will make strides towards a civil war, continuing to target liberals and people of color
  6. Our government will essentially become a monarchy.

So if you think you have liberty think again.  It is going fast.

Follow the money

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Welcome to our new banana republic where the government runs roughshod over the people, and many of the citizens are thankful they can be abused.  It seems so wrong, people gleefully surrendering their liberty, yet here we are.  There are so many moving pieces, so much that is wrong, that it becomes easy to feel numb, easy to start thinking this is the way it has to be.  Life does not have to be like this.  It is incumbent on all of us to understand what is really going on and daily remind those in government that this is not ok, we are not going to sit by silently while our country and liberty is destroyed.

There is one basic principle that that we need to understand; one core motivation that brings almost everything into focus.  It is not power or religion, though those are key enablers.  It is money.  This is all about money.  Everyone in this horrible power grab is doing so for the money. Well some are doing it for bigoted reasons, but that a topic for another day.

Let’s start with the horrible healthcare bill in the senate that is about to be jammed down the country’s throat.  There is nothing about this bill that improves healthcare.  Yes, it will probably lower premiums, but this is accomplished by lowering coverages and raising deductibles.  So for less, and in many cases basically no coverage, premiums decrease.  That is not for the public good.  Isn’t that what our government is supposed to do, support and increase the public good, even when difficult.

What this bill really does is move the funds used to defray healthcare costs for the less fortunate of society and move it to the top 1-5%.    The people that can least afford to lose their healthcare are funding a tax reduction for the people that need it the least.  And this is retroactive – the tax reduction for capital gains (the taxes on buying and selling stocks) is retroactive.  This rewards the wealthy for past transactions.  How is this related to healthcare again?

But wait, there is more.  Insurance executive pay (including bonuses) over $500,000 will be receiving a large tax cut as part of this.  Again, how is this related to healthcare or the common good? It is not.  It is about making the rich richer and the poor poorer.  This is key.

But our elected leaders don’t benefit in this, the money doesn’t go to them you say.  Whoops, our elected leaders are either funded by the people who want these laws or actually benefit themselves.  If you don’t know who the Koch Brothers or the Mercers are, it is time to learn.  The Koch brothers spend nearly $1 Billion (!) on national elections to make sure the government is filled with people who will follow their agenda.  Like lowering taxes for the wealthy and eliminating regulations.  Let’s be honest, Koch Industries makes A LOT of money ($100 billion in sales according to Forbes) and these brothers make plenty.  They just want more.

The Mercers on the other hand seem just plain wacko.  You can get a good idea of who they are here and here.  Here’s a few key take aways.  They are the reason Breitbart, Bannon and Conway are behind Trump.  They had thrown their weight behind Cruz, but he is so vile he failed.  They have a few key agenda items.  One religion.  The other is a pending $7 Billion (!) dispute with the IRS.  What’s a few billion if you can save 7?  Their money and their goals permeate many of the actions you see taking place.  Like a tax cut for the rich being called healthcare improvement.  He’ll save 100s of millions with if this legislation passes.

 

So stop and think.  Why do these GOP politicians want so many laws that hurt so many citizens?  They have been paid handsomely to enact this legislation.  Or in other cases, they are just greedy.  Take Tom Price, the HHS secretary.  He was submitting legislation that benefitted companies he owned stock in.  In some cases he was buying the stock at a reduced priced prior to submitting the legislation.  This is text book corruption.  Or if you choose, he was stealing from you, because the stock market is a zero sum game.

Let’s not forget the DeVos/Prince families.  They donate so much money, its not secret they set the agenda for many politicians.  Betsy DeVos, the incompetent Secretary of Education, made no bones about deserving her cabinet post based on her contributions.  So her money is everywhere.  Her agenda is to get the money that goes to public schools funneled to private and religious schools (who cares about the separation of church and state?).  Oh and she also has large stakes in student loan COLLECTION organizations.  She’s rolling back regulations on these types of firms so she can profit.  Money to the church, taken from the public schools.  Money from highly indebted students going to her and her cronies.  She makes money while the haves get richer and the have nots are oppressed.

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And then there is the would be Royal Trump Family.  Every action they take is designed to make money for them.  Every trip to one of Dishonest Donald’s property is a tax payer paid infomercial.  Oh and he’s getting paid for going.  That’s stealing from you and me.  And we as tax payers pay for renting space in his gaudy, golden tower so his family can be protected.

His daughter, how is as evil as her father, attends meetings with national leaders.  Then, amazingly, she gets business favors, copyrights, licenses and donations.  Her husband is just as bad.  He has a debt load that is off the charts.  It is hard to tell, because he keeps leaving his debts off the governmental forms he is forced to fill out.  These loans come from banks under scrutiny from the US government.  Well, mostly the previous administration.  If this scrutiny can be dropped, the money saved will far exceed the hundreds of millions in loans outstanding.

Which brings us back around to Dishonest Donald.  He wants to be the wealthiest of the wealthiest.  When he was on the Comedy Central Roast, the only topic off the table was his wealth.  He once sued a writer who said (and later proved) that the orange one was not a billionaire.  Being wealthy is all he cares about.  Every action he has taken is motivated by the need to enrich himself at our expense.

And if you haven’t read this article on what looks like Trump Organization money laundering, you should.  I didn’t elect a man who seems to enjoy funneling money to Iranian causes.  Why yes that is illegal.  You know he was fined for “continued money laundering” too, right?

Let’s look at his evil travel ban.  It is a Muslim ban, because he believes, wrongly, that all Muslims are evil terrorists.  But if that was the case, why aren’t Saudi Arabia and Egypt part of the ban?  It is because there are Trump properties there.  When Iran and Somalia suddenly need a Trump golf course, remember this.

Follow the money.  It is enabling greed, corruption and oppression.  It is the motivation for everything you are seeing.  I thought we were better than this, but a vocal minority in this country loves it.  I weep for our future.

 

 

 

Implicit Value

Today I woke up to hear that GOP congressman in leadership was shot on a baseball field.  This is not normal, but yet it is.  We will not hear a call for gun control, because the NRA wants to make sure the gun manufacturers can sell as many guns as possible.  We will only be marginally outraged because it was done by a white man.  That is normal.  It would be far worse if a black man shot the southern white congressman.

A vote in house today was cancelled due to the shooting, which again is normal due to the tragedy.  It is also ironic because the vote was on deregulating gun silencers, presumably because Donald Trump Jr. told us his ears hurt after going hunting.  Really?  Silencers, the accessory of choice for hitmen and spies, needs to be a topic for our lawmakers?  We are finally in an upside down world.

A friend trolled me recently.  In a debate over issues he declared himself a secessionist. Appalled, I didn’t understand.  And then he made his point.  I think he’s right.  What do I, a liberal, open minded Californian, have in common with the typical adult from Mississippi, Alabama or most of the old south?  I believe all people are equal and deserve their civil rights.  In the south, they work hard to suppress the votes from minorities and the poor.  They see people as classes and objects and many are not afraid to say hateful things in public and glorify the days of slavery.  What do liberal Americans have in common with those who glorify and embrace hate?  Are we really one country?  Will we ever agree?

The last election wasn’t about emails or making America great again.  America was great, and we are doing our best to tarnish that shine.  The last election was about the soul of this country, it was about values, the values of our country.  Let’s put aside Russian interference and propaganda for today.  It was there. It had an effect; it is naïve to think otherwise.  One candidate made sure you knew it was ok to hate.  He had a history of unethical behavior – from racism to fraud to sexual harassment.  These are facts.  And they are facts that did not bother 43% or so of voters.

He held Nazi Germany style rallies where he incited hate.  He called for his opponent to be jailed over her use of a private email server.  He asked the people at the rallies to pledge their loyalty to him.  Not to the country but to him.  He suggested that people in attendance beat protestors and people of color and they did.  He demonized Muslims because of ISIS.  He made the press stay in a pen like cattle, belittling them.  He campaigned using slogans and images taken directly from white supremacy hate groups.  Anti-Semitic images and tropes were sent out regularly.

He embraced misogyny and encouraged his supporters to do so.  He made sure we knew he thought he should be king.  Many cheered for it and the loss of freedom.  Perhaps they did because people of color would be hurt more than the average white American. (Note:  I’m Jewish.  I’m not considered white by these hate groups.) And amidst this bonfire of hate he won.

So when the unethical self-styled dictator wins, the old normal is out the window.  Since the election we have seen several things that may seem normal now, but are not.  Actions that should make everyone take notice and scream “this is wrong!”  Yet, many people do not.  Here is a short list:

Immediately Congress tried to nullify its Ethical oversight department.

The justice department took every white hate group off their terror watch list.  But only the white ones.

The president/dictator decries every possible crime by Muslims and people of color and ignores hate crimes by whites.

The president/dictator made a holocaust memorial statement that never mentioned Jews.  It was straight from the Nazi speech guide.  They cheered.

The president/dictator has declared the free press an enemy of the state and the people.

The president/dictator ignored nepotism rules and placed his family on the white house staff.

The president/dictator refused to divest any of his assets and continues to profit as he takes money via his ventures from foreign governments.

The president/dictator includes his daughter in key international meetings.  Amazingly enough, she gets funding, licenses and copyrights from these governments after the meetings as if by coincidence.

The president/dictator installed a known foreign agent as his National Security Advisor.

The president/dictator fired the acting attorney general that made sure he knew NSA was comprised.

The president/dictator installed several cabinet members with the stated objective of destroying the areas they oversee.  The Environment, Health, Urban Development and Education to start.

The president/dictator installed other cabinet members that look corrupt such as Treasury, Commerce and Health.

The congress believes it is important to deny health care to the less fortunate so that the rich can get a tax break (Note: while I’m not in the top 2%, I will receive a significant tax break) and the middle class and poor can pay more for health insurance AND taxes.

Congress has decided that transparency is no longer needed.  They work behind closed doors and hold votes before the public and the Democrats in congress can see, read and understand the bills.

The president/dictator glorifies outlets that promote propaganda and hate.

The president/dictator plays golf at a property he owns every weekend, having the government (that’s you and I) pay him for the privilege.

Customs and Immigration officials now routinely hold, question and hassle people of color coming into the US.  This includes green card holders how are legal residents.

The president/dictator’s son in law left off meetings with Russian officials from his security forms.  Since we all know what these meetings were about, this was not an oversight.  It was purposeful and a felony.  Nothing has come of it.

The attorney general lied about meeting with Russian officials in his confirmation hearings.  Later he claimed he forgot.  He forgot a great many things in testimony recently.  If you forgot that many things you’d be fired from any job.  But today it is ok.

The Secretary of Education made sure we knew she paid for her appointment.  She wanted to get her money’s worth.

A man running for congress assaulted a reporter.  Many people now believe the press deserve to be beaten. And he won.

The president/dictator has his spokespeople lie to the press daily.

The president/dictator lies to the American people daily.

The president/dictator used a showy missile strike (it really didn’t accomplish anything) as dinner theater.

The president/dictator had alienated traditional US allies such as Germany and France, while glorifying dictators in Russia, Turkey, North Korea and the Philippines.

The president/dictator openly supported the racist, fascist candidate in the French election.

The president/dictator took the US out the world wide climate accord because, he wanted a better deal.

The president/dictator lied about the previous president spying on him.

With all of this, and I’m sure I have forgotten a few key items, it is no wonder our country is divided, with what seems like few common values.  To many, hating people of color is natural.  Hate crimes are on the rise.  Ethics have gone by the wayside.  Corruption by politicians is now open and accepted.

Recently a man started yelling at two Muslim girls on a Portland train.  When 3 men stood up for the girls, they were stabbed and 2 died.  There was no outrage from the president/dictator.  Race traitors like that deserve death, the white supremacists would claim.  He only made a statement days later when the outcry was loud.  No worry, the racists know he didn’t mean it.

I’m not a huge LeBron James fan, but the man has talent.  He’s also rich.  Yet his Los Angeles mansion was spray painted with hate recently.  It is becoming normal to see this and the outrage is less than it would have been a few years ago.  How can we not be upset?

When white men shoot others, it is an aberration.  When people of color do it, it is terrorism.  This is not new, but now it is more prevalent. Regularly we see videos of people screaming at minorities to “go home” and that they aren’t welcome here.  These are people who were born here, Americans.  America has always been a melting pot. What we didn’t know is that so many people resented that fact.  We now see that many just hid their racism and hate; they are thrilled to be invited into the light.  Racism is part of the new normal.  We have gone back to the 50’s.  How long before someone proposes segregation again?

We can see that the ethics in our leaders have fallen off.  Senators’ wives are given plum administration jobs and their criticisms stop.  We are a partisan country, where one party is about winning at all costs, ethics are for losers. And losers have no say.  We are seeing one party trying to rule, not govern.  This is wrong.

There have been more than 15 ethics waivers for White House staff members, including the one that allows Steve Bannon to continue to have input (let’s be honest, direct) Breitbart, a noted hate site.  When our leaders no longer care to at least pretend to be ethical, what happens to the populace’s idea of right and wrong?  Our societal norms are being destroyed.

Our shared values are no longer shared and we can’t ignore it any more.  One third of the country approves of the job the president/dictator is doing.  This includes inciting hate and removing our freedoms.  Ask the peaceful protestors facing long jail sentences for protesting the inauguration.  This includes the reporters in the area covering the protest.

This was a country founded on religious freedom.  You can believe and practice whatever you choose.  Currently, there are many initiatives underway to change that.  Allowing hate and discrimination under the guise of “religious freedom” is the first step.  This is a major religion forcing everyone to abide by their ancient texts.  Well, at least the portions they choose to read and accept.  This is troubling.

Ask the green card holders tricked into signing away their rights by ICE agents as they returned home.

Ask women in congress who are shut down by their male counterparts.  Women, especially black women, should know their place is the message being sent.

The power in Washington is enacting policies and procedures to redistribute wealth to the wealthiest, harm the poorest and keep minorities held down.  While our nation has never been perfect, and it has a very dark history in regards to race, this bodes poorly.  Our national values are disintegrating before our eyes.

Sadly, I saw this coming.  So did many others.  The majority of the country did not vote for it, yet many are excited by it.  We are about to become a banana republic, ruled by the extremely wealthy.  We now have to acknowledge that as a country we do not have shared values. Freedom was traded for hate.  Blind eyes cast for enrichment.  Many people’s values are formed and honed by the propaganda they chose like Fox, InfoWars and Breitbart.  Don’t be fooled each is based on and steeped in hate and oppression.  Each is an official propaganda outlet of the president/dictator.

It’s hard to ignore the fact that people I know both voted for this and still think it’s the right thing for the country.  I won’t embrace hate and I won’t embrace those that empower hate.  Its ugly now and it won’t end well.  History is written by the victors.  We may have to hope our history is written by another country.

 

 

This is Not Normal

This is not normal.  It is far from normal yet, in order to get through the day, we must each determine how we process and internalize this information.  Some of you ignore it.  Some of you will not believe what I write.  Many of you are repulsed and have been moved to action.  This is not normal.

The president of the United States is a liar.  Period.  I should not need to prove it to you.  It is well documented that he tells roughly 5 new lies per day.

The president of the United States loves dictators and killers.  Again, this is well documented.  He even invited Duterte of the Philippines to visit, knowing that he has personally killed people and ordered many other deaths.

The president of the United States breaks the laws and constitution of the United States each day.  He believes he is above the law.  He decided the anti-nepotism law did not apply to him and appointed his daughter and son-in-law to key posts.  Oh, they are volunteers you say?  Well she has a Chief of Staff and staff.  She sits in meetings with every foreign dignitary that can help her business.  The son-in-law seems to be responsible for everything.  Way more authority and responsibility than a volunteer.  Did I forget to mention that he lied on his security forms?  He’s left off meetings with Russians and business dealings and debts that should have been included.  As one person noted recently, a barber’s license is denied for less.  This goes beyond ignoring a law,

The president of the United States does not know shit about U.S. History.  Again well documented.  See his remarks on Fredrick Douglass and (notes racist) Andrew Jackson among others.

The president of the United States encourages racism and hate.  No?  Haven’t you seen his supporters taking pictures in the White House with the White Power sign?  I have, they aren’t hard to find.  He often uses the language of the neo Nazi’s and White Supremacists.  He is quick to comment on the perception of Muslims (even when he’s wrong) committing violence, but NEVER comments on white radicals killing people of color.  If you don’t see this, it is either because you hold similar feelings or choose not to.  Oh, and don’t forget the multiple fines he paid through his business for racial discrimination.  Just because the decree had no admission of guilt doesn’t mean he’s innocent.  And recently he endorsed the racist candidate in France for Prime Minister.  The US president does not generally comment on the free elections of other countries.  But since this one is known, outspoken racist it is particularly appalling.  Consider taking your blinders off, he is the Racist in Chief.

The president of the United States has worked hard to alienate our allies.  Mexico, Canada, UK, Australia and Germany among others.  That’s the trade he’s made to become a puppet of Russian authoritarian Vladimir Putin.  Hard to miss this.  He has never ONCE criticized Russia, where critics and loose ends are often killed.  Like several this year.  Of course you can choose not to see this and determine its normal to try and ruin the relationships with our neighbors and long time allies.

The president of the United States has not nominated over 500 people to key posts.  He blames the opposition party of stonewalling them.  You can’t stonewall what doesn’t exist.  He also fired every ambassador on his first day in office.  This is not unusual, but not hiring any more is.

The US Attorney General is a known racist.  He is anti civil rights.  He was too racist to be a judge under Reagan.  And for good measure, he lied to congress.  Twice.  Nevertheless, he is still the attorney general.  This is not normal. This is criminal.

The president of the United States fired every single US Attorney well after his inauguration. Probably because one of them was investigating him.  Nevertheless he hasn’t hired any replacements.  This is not normal.

The president of the United States appointed a spy to the top national security job in White House.  It is probable that he knew this when he appointed him.  When the issue was raised to him, he waited until it appeared in the national news to act on it.  I guess it normally takes 3 weeks to fire a traitor, that the previous president had fired. A+B=C  Nope, this is not normal.

The president of the United States requires us, the taxpayers, to pay $500,000 per day for his wife and child to live in a golden tower, away from him.  This is not normal.  It is very excessive.  As a “billionaire” a rational person might  think he would work to defray some of this personal expense.  That silence you hear is a “no”.

The president of the United States requires us, the taxpayers, to spend $3 million most weekends so he can play golf and entertain at his private club in Florida.  How much of that $3 million goes to his club and other business concerns?  How much more is generated by Foreign Governments spending money to meet him there?  I’m guessing at least $1.5 million each trip.  This is a clear violation of ethics and the constitution. This is not normal.

The president of the United States has declared today that the government should shut down in September to teach the opposition party a lesson, because hurting the citizens is the best way to help the country grow and prosper.  Seems more like a move a dictator would make.

The president of the United States thinks it is important to roll back the regulations that help keep our water and air clean.  I don’t.  I think this is criminal.

The president of the United States blames all his problems (and even some that are made up) on the previous President of the United States.  He says something along these lines several times a week.  Can you think of another president that criticized any of his predecessors?  Me neither.  This is not normal.

I could go on for a few thousand more lines.  You see what you want to see.  This is not normal and this needs to end.  Pay attention, this is the worst scandal of many lifetimes.  He can’t suppress everything.  He has no power over state laws.  The congress is clearly compromised. But the courts (other than that one illegitimate SCOTUS judge, the seat was stolen and more will come out) is not beholden.

You can choose to drink the cool aid.  You can choose to be an ostrich.  I value my freedom and yours.  What I’ve described above is not freedom.  It is the slide into authoritative fascism.  It is the need to recreate White Power.  You don’t have to listen to me.  But that is the choice you make.  You are still mostly free.  Today.  Will you still be free tomorrow?

 

 

The GOP Hates You

The GOP hates you.  Well, not if you are rich and white.  Not if you are a white woman that likes the fact old men want to control your health care.  But they hate pretty much the rest of us.

Women’s Healthcare

Somewhere along the line, the GOP decided that Planned Parenthood was the enemy.  Yes they facilitate and perform abortions, but making it illegal for PP to use federal funds for abortion was not enough.  They are intent on obliterating them because women should not have access to healthcare focused on their needs.  They want to make sure you can’t get birth control, cancer screenings and other key services focused on women’s needs.  Yep, they hate women who use Planned Parenthood. Why else would they work so hard to destroy this asset to women?

Death via Trump/Ryan care

Right now there is a huge debate going about the new health care initiative.  Let me boil it down simply.  The GOP (mostly Paul Ryan, but the leadership is behind him) need you to lose your health insurance.  That’s right you.  If you are older and have health issues, you know the population that needs health care, they are working hard to raise the rates beyond where you can afford them. They call this freedom of choice.  You can choose the health insurance you want, but if you can’t afford it, that’s your choice.  See what they did there?  The screwed you then made it your fault.

Then, one of two things happens – you lose your insurance and/or you die.  Period.  That is the goal.  Once you lose your insurance and die, there are fewer people buying insurance.  Those that do buy it are younger and healthier, lowering the risk.  As the risk reduces, so do premiums.  Paul Ryan thinks it’s a great plan to help you along to the grave so that insurance premiums can do down.  Yes, I’ve simplified this, but this is the core of what’s going on.  Insurance premiums go down, the rich get a tax break and the government saves money because they are not subsidizing the sick.  They want you to die. Period.  I’d call that hate, no matter how they spin it.

The air you breathe, the water you drink

Have you seen the water in Flint Michigan?  Yes, it is brown and full of lead.  It is dangerous and deadly.  Luckily the EPA, well mostly Dishonest Donald and Scott Pruitt, have decided that cleaning up the water supply anywhere in the US is a luxury we can’t afford.  They have cut the budget for the Great Lakes clean up drastically.  In fact, they are so ecstatic they have repealed a law so that the creeks and water supply in Kentucky can again be fouled with coal waste.  Yes, there might be 10-20 new jobs for people to dump the waste, but thousands if not millions of people will be exposed to tainted water.  Let them buy bottles right?

But why stop there?  Let’s ignore climate change and pollution.  Do you remember what NYC and LA looked like in the early 70s? I do.  Smog, smog, and more smog.  A lot like China now.  Luckily for us Trump and Pruitt think you deserve that again.  They must surely hate us if they want to poison our water and our air.  I think they believe it won’t be bad in their lifetime, so fuck your grandkids.  The rich will buy filtration.  Yes, they hate you.

Good Bye Civil Rights, Hello Corruption

It was very important to confirm Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III as Attorney General.  In fact 20 or so Democratic Senators voted for him.  (You should vote them out.)  Do you recall Mitch “call me turtle” McConnell telling Elizabeth Warren she could not read a letter from Coretta Scott King from 1986 about Beau’s rampant racism and civil rights violations?  I do.  From here on out, no one is to discuss what a racist Beau was in the past.

Instead, let’s focus on the racist views and actions of Beau today.  We are seeing a rise in hate crimes.  Brown people are being attacked and killed while being told to “go back to your country.”  Interesting.  All are legal residents and some are citizens.  You know what he has said?  Nothing.  Bob threats are made to Jewish centers every week.  What is being said?  Nothing.  Are you brown or Jewish?  Are you appalled at what’s happening?  He hates you.  Why else would he act this way.  By extension, so does every person that voted for him.  They all hate you.

Do you know what has being said?  That the DOJ will not support/pursue cases involving voters rights.  Since most voting rights cases involve those pesky brown people, it is a good thing.  If you value voting rights, they hate you too.

The DOJ will also not pursue the consent decrees with law enforcement agencies that were found to be guilty of excessive force.  Let’s pretend that never happened.  It is now wonderful for gung-ho cops to shoot first and ask questions later.  So what if few more undesirables get hurt or killed.  So what if brown people get profiled and hassled more.  They hate you.  They don’t care what you think.

But at least the DOJ will work towards the benefit of the country right?  Nope.  Doesn’t it seem odd that they fired all 46 US Attorneys nearly 2 months into the administration?  Doesn’t it seem odd that the one attorney they assured they would keep on was summarily fired as it came to light he was working on some corruption cases?  Oh and that his jurisdiction included Trump Tower? It’s a silly coincidence right?  You don’t care if corruption is taking place.  But if you do, like I do, they hate you.  This administration, supported by the entire GOP is about self-enrichment, not improving the country.  They hate you.  Don’t be naïve, even though they think you are.

Welcome Back Klu Klux Klan

Just this week, Representative Steve King of Iowa made several comments about how America is a white country and white culture.  I won’t repeat them, you can find a summary and analysis here.  It isn’t a secret that King would be more at home at KKK rally than at my Seder table, but the response from Washington is appalling in its silence.  Not one member of leadership has censured, rebuked or taken action on this disgusting behavior.  To make matters worse when King is questioned on it, he doubles down, affirming his position.

We shouldn’t be surprised that 1800 Pennsylvania Avenue is silent.  The white house wants  to “keep immigration levels, measured by population share, within historical norms.”  This is from a speech Trump gave in late 2016.  Make no mistake population share is about what immigration to the US.  None of those pesky brown people or Jews, let’s just keep the nice white Western Europeans.  Jews aren’t white.  Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, Dishonest Donald’s key advisors and policy makers, have not been shy about their feelings toward non-whites.  They hate them, believing other races and beliefs to be a cancer on white society.   Don’t be surprised, but if you aren’t white or actually care about the other people in our country, they hate you too.

The silence and tepid statements of “oh, we don’t like that” are dog whistles to the haters in the country.  The KKK and their ex Wizard David Duke applaud the White House often for their inaction and racist actions like the Muslim ban.

I could go on for days.  I haven’t even touched on Russia, the destruction of the public school system, the end of the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities and the 24/7 commercial for Mar-a-Lago, filling Dishonest Donald’s pockets.

The GOP wanted this.  The GOP support this.  Make no mistake, they hate you.  The sooner you die, the better this country will be for them.

Is this what you want?

The High Cost of Change

You’ve read enough of my humble blog by now to know I’m far from perfect.  I’m opinionated and perhaps too direct too often, but I do believe at my core my ethics and morals are solid.  I’ve never needed to be bailed out and I try to do the right thing, as opposed to doing things right.  That last sentiment lead to the end of employment more than once.  That being said, I would take the same actions again in similar situations.  I want to be able to look in the mirror and be happy with who and what I am.

I sit here, troubled, as I am sure many of you are.  I think back on how I was raised.

I was taught to compromise, it is not my way or no way; it is not all about me and my desires.

I was taught it was wrong to lie.  Too many lies and you won’t be believed.

I was taught that honor meant something.  My word was important.  I’ve tried to keep it.

I was taught that people deserved respect, regardless of color or religion.  This included tolerance for other religions.  Just because I didn’t share their beliefs didn’t mean those beliefs were invalid.  We share a world.

I was taught that women were to be respected.  The words “equality” and “consent” weren’t used, it was a different time.  But I was not brought up to think I could paw (that was the word used) women just because I wanted to.  I wouldn’t be using pressure to extract consent.  I’d like to think I lived up to that standard.

I was raised to help.  I’d like to think I work to help others before thinking of my needs in many situations.  Again, I’m not perfect, but that thought is there.

I was taught that we don’t know everything.  Sometimes you have to wait to see the truth or facts that are beyond your knowing.  You aren’t always given all the information to process at once.

I was taught not be a bully.  I was bullied a bit at young age.  More than once I’ve stood up for those that were under some sort of attack.  Sometimes, the defense was ill timed or unwarranted, but I’d rather be wrong trying to help someone than stand by and let a bully take advantage of another.

I was taught it was important to try and leave the world a better place than you found it.  If I’m cleaning up my trash, I’ll clean up some of yours.

I was shown what prejudice and hate do to the world.  Being Jewish the Nazis, their values and their genocide was taught yearly and passionately.  Never again.  Never again.  I didn’t think it only applied to Jews.  It applied to all people.

Somewhere along the way, I learned it was important to stand up for what I believed in.  It is not always easy making a stand, but it is part of having integrity.  I’d like to think I have some.

It was hard for me to realize the people that raised me, provided me values and moral compass have disavowed each and every one these of things.  In one 90 second exchange, my father’s disgust for my views illuminated his position.  We’ll ignore the unsubtle racism he lead with.

“You are probably one of those people who says ‘not my president’,” He barked, each word dripping with revulsion and bile.  It was clear. His president.  HIS.

The one who lies.

The one who knows everything and makes sure he tells you he is smarter than you.

The one who is a bully and uses his position to embarrass others and manipulate the stock market, creating fear in any business he attacks.

The one who assaulted women and bragged about it.

The one who has used his wealth to intimidate others by being overly litigious.

The one who routinely doesn’t pay his bills, forcing others to endure endless lawsuits and  potential bankruptcy to attempt to gain the payment promised.

The one who had to pay $25million dollars to settle a fraud claim after raking in $175 million or more via a “university” that was more of a seminar selling the veneer of success, targeting those that could least afford to pay.

The one who’s integrity is void, showing conflicts of interest and corruption each and every day.

The one who claimed Mexicans were rapists and Muslims needed to be banned, showcasing his racism.

The one fined more than once for discriminatory business practices.

The one that was fined for on-going money laundering.

The one that wants to eliminate the EPA and ruin our water, air and climate.

The one that sold our government to Goldman Sachs and Russia.

The one that sold your children’s education to the highest donor, crippling public education so that that rich can get a discount on private school.

The one that sold women’s health and the right to choose to the religious right.

The one that will inevitably take away LGBTQ rights to appease his religious donors.

The one that insults our allies and embraces other bullies and dictators, ruining our reputation in the world.

The one that slanders the previous president regularly.

One that dog whistles hate.

The one that made common cause with Nazis and White Supremacists.

While this laundry list is overwhelming, it is far from complete.  For those of you that didn’t believe this last election was for the soul of our country and for the definition of who and what we are – read it again, slowly.  Each and every item takes away more of our freedom and future.  Each item on this list makes us less as of a productive, peaceful society and reduces our influence and leadership in the world.  Each item tears away some of my soul. But the last item is the final straw.  It is the final saw stroke on the frayed foundation of my being.

You might not know this, but growing up I was not allowed to watch Hogan’s Heroes.  It presented the Nazis as buffoons. It was impressed upon me that the threat and danger was real and should not be allowed to return.  Yet today, the man that said that embraces the administration that give life to the views and policies of Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller.  And their hate is not subtle.  It is about being white and Christian.  Nothing else.

So, in this abyss that I find myself, trying to decide what to do.  There is no discussion to be had.  Those that have fully embraced Fox News as their one and only source for news are lost to rationality.  I see no need to bang my head against that wall. I’ve tried and failed. After all, Obama was the devil. He gave us death panels and took away your guns.  You know, the guns you never bought.

We aren’t discussing taxes or foreign policy. This is not business as usual. Hell, we aren’t even discussing why withholding hearings on a Supreme Court nominee until “the right candidate” won was a major brick through the window of our government.  No.  This was everything.  It is everything.

I alternate between sadness and anger; it haunts my dreams and limits my slumber.  It’s my problem, but I don’t want to pretend that selling away the soul of our country and reducing our civil rights for the potential tax break isn’t evil.  It is to me.  I won’t visit and pretend that all is well.  I won’t call and act like I haven’t been betrayed.  I have.  Others have also been betrayed.

For now, I’ll remove myself.  Every action has a cost.  Sometimes you gain in karma or experience.  Other times you lose something precious.  No one said life was easy.  Neither is believing in and acting on your principles.

 

My Last Election Rant

As with most days, today I find the 2016 Election troubling.  I hear about how horrible Hilary Clinton is, how she’ll bring about a constitutional crisis and that her email server is the worst thing ever.  IT IS WORSE THAN WATERGATE.  We aren’t talking about taxes or the size of the government, we are hearing how she’s terrible and there will need to be a violent revolution.  Exaggeration?  I’ve heard two different sound bites of Trumpers saying they are willing to take up arms, be a patriot and “do what needs to be done.”  You tell me if I’m overstating the potential.

And then today the KKK newspaper, the Crusader, endorses Trump.  The “Trump  Campaign” repudiates the KKK endorsement.  Has Cheeto Jesus?  Has he ever said he respects all people and wants to see harmony in the USA?  No.  He wants the guys with yarmulkes counting his money, not the blacks.  He retweets people who espouse hate, anti-Semitism and see the diversity of our country as “white genocide.”  How is this a thing?  If he doesn’t support it, he sure doesn’t dismiss it.

I see too many references to Clinton as “C*nt”.  Really?  Let’s be honest, Everything Cheeto Jesus does encourages hate.  He calls on people’s fears and assures them at only he can save them.  He’s working by the axiom that no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American Public.

He hates everything the Clinton has done in her career as a public servant.  Ok, he’s entitled to an opinion.  What has he ever done for the public good?  I cringe when he talks about being a job creator.  If he wasn’t making money off the backs of others there would be no jobs.  And how do we hold someone up as a “job creator” who refuses to honor contracts and proudly threatens to bury in people in legal expenses when they are upset about not being paid.  This is not about quality of service, it is about his need to increase his profits, or lower his losses when he mismanages his business.  After all, no successful business person will hold up a man with 4 bankruptcies as a role model.  That is the model of failure that got lucky.

But let’s get back to how bad Hilary is.  Yes, she used a private email server and was less than forthcoming about it.  I know as you read this you are perfect and never did anything wrong.  But, let’s be clear.  She wasn’t selling state secrets.  She wasn’t trying to make confidential information easily available.  In fact, the State Department Information Security processes were described as woefully inadequate.  So other than originally trying to stay out of the press, what the issue?  It wasn’t an ongoing criminal conspiracy.  Watergate was.  There wasn’t an order to break in someplace.  That was Watergate too.  There wasn’t illegal wiretapping?  Again that was Watergate.  So, let’s stop the uneven comparisons.  It’s demeaning and ridiculous.

Then there is Benghazi.  While I’m tempted to tell you to go fuck yourself, let’s look at a few facts.  4 lives were lost. That was a tragedy.  Congress cut the security budget; that was not on Hillary.  Trey Gowdy and his misfit witch hunt team have found no smoking gun.  There have been more inquires here than Watergate.  Oh, and many, many more State Department employees were killed under George W. Bush, but we don’t talk about that.

But, you say, Hillary is untrustworthy. Got it.  Let’s look at your heroes.  George W. Bush?  He and Cheney lied to get us into the war in IRAQ.  They abused the public’s trust by manipulating fear to start a war that we did not need to be in.  Thousands of lives lost.  No, I don’t think she’s fallen to that level.

How about George H.W. Bush?  Meh.  But he does bear the burden of knowing about Iran Contra and saying he did not.  I think that’s pretty bad.  Oh, you don’t remember Iran Contra?  Let me remind you.  The US government funneled money Nicaraguan Contras by selling weapons to Iran.  But Hillary negotiated with Iran.  Stop it.

Reagan?  He was President during the Iran Contra affair and it was shown he knew about it.  But he, like Cheeto Jesus, was Teflon, so the public ignored him while Oliver North took the fall.  Of course during Reagan’s administration over 130 officials were investigated, indicted or convicted.  That’s a record to be proud of.  Remember, Clinton has not been charged with anything.  Even today there may be nothing, but people are talking like she’s a mass murderer.

But I digress.  Trump blasts Hillary for “pay for play politics”.  Seriously, people, what other type are there?  What are pork barrel politics, if not a version of pay for play? What was Trump’s donation to Biondi about?  He brags about paying politicians.  Mitch “I’m a turtle” McConnell holds up the Supreme Court nominations because “the NRA needs to approve” them. And that’s not pay for play? That’s not corrupt?  Remember Hillary is accused of quid pro quo, accused of having a few meetings.  There is no proof. There is no indictment.  There still is no smoking gun.  But still the Republican Congress looks for it.  Clearly the Republican Congress thinks this is a better use of our tax money than infrastructure, creating jobs or embassy security.  Pay for play hints at bribery.  There is no proof of bridery.  Shit, there may not have been any meetings.  Next you’ll tell me the Clinton Global Initiative (where nearly 90% of every dollar goes to saving lives, not admin – check that against The United Way) is evil.

How about we stop talking about the monsters under the bed that Hillary must have put there.  There are no fucking monsters so stop acting like you are 6.  Own up and admit that you just don’t like an uppity woman that deigns to think she can be president.  That’s 90% of what bothers you about her.  You think she’s overreaching her station. She’s not in the kitchen making you a pie.  She thinks for herself and **gasp** she listens to others in a world where we prize men that stand and talk about themselves.  Yes she’s not perfect.  But she’s way better than most of our politicians.  And on political matters she’s far more truthful than most.  Of course Rush, Hannity and Alex Jones will poo poo Politifact.  Think for yourself.

I know, she’s no role model like our past Speakers of the House.  You know, pedophiles and serial cheaters.  Those are the people that judge her.  Glass houses are breaking all over the country.

Unlike most, I actually like Hillary Clinton.  There are aspects of her you don’t like. There are aspects to my personality you don’t like either and sometimes I’m not your biggest fan, but we get along.  Why is she held to a different standard? She’s not Teflon.  She cares.  She tries.  So don’t like me. Don’t like her.  But stop dragging her through the mud with half-truths and witch hunts.  Because, let me remind you about the alternative.

Donald Trump is facing a civil suit over the the alleged fraud he perpetuated with Trump University, stealing the money from those who could least afford it.  Fraud. That’s like lying isn’t it?

Donald Trump is going on trial for allegedly RAPING a 13-year old.  I know it is hard to fathom.  He only grabs them by the Pussy.

Donald Trump admits to being a sexual predator (he’s bragging about it) and more than 11 women have stood up to say that he did it to them.  I know that a partisan conspiracy.  Taking him on his own merits, isn’t this troublesome?  If we can open our eyes to the Evil that was Bill Cosby, why do we dismiss these egregious acts?

Donald Trump was indicted twice over racial discrimination practices with his company.  Paying large fines and “not admitting guilt” is not the same as being innocent.  I don’t believe he is innocent.

Donald Trump loves to repeat and retweet anti-Semitic and White Supremicist memes.  Last I saw, it was reported that he had retweeted 75 different people who believe in #whitegenocide.  And I’ll never believe his picture, taken from a racist website, with Hillary and the Star of David was not meant to be Anti-Semitic.  I believe Donald Trump is a Racist dog whistler, at the minimum.

Donald Trump support violence if he doesn’t get his way.  Remember when he encouraged people at his rally to incite violence, take them out on a stretch, etc.?  I do.  What about suggesting 2nd Amendment people to “take care of it” if Clinton gets elected?  No, I have never believed that was a joke. All the talk of a “rigged election” has people wondering about the potential violence after the election from his most ardent supporters. Words have consequences.  Cheeto Jesus doesn’t believe those consequences apply to him.

I don’t think it’s a stretch to think Donald Trump is at minimum being played by Russia to affect their goals.  He won’t say a bad word about them.  In light of National Security Agencies announcing Russia was behind the DNC and Hillary Campaign hacks, he says “I don’t know.”  But no one near Trump or his campaigns was hacked.  I do not believe this is a coincidence.  We are all vulnerable to hacking. Period.  Ponder that. (edit: and now we have been told the Campaign was in frequent contact with Russian officials…. why do we let that slide?)

Remember how Trump is engaged in a  (civil, class action suit) trial over the Trump U fraud?  Doesn’t it seem odd that NOW he wants to help the common man, the disenfranchised worker?  Why yes, he is offering the middle class a 1% tax cut.  He’s also offering the very wealth a 10% or more tax cut.  So if you make $50k, you will get an extra $35-50 a month or thereabouts.  But if you make $5m, you get an extra 40k (and probably much more) per month in benefits.  But let’s say you are that 1%, you know the people making $500m (you know, like all the Trumps), you just earned an extra 4-6m in tax breaks.  Really? Like they couldn’t survive the 400m or so they already took home?

When Trump brags about not paying taxes because the government would squander it, think about how he spends his money.  His home was described as the tacky furnishing of an Iraqi hotel lobby.  Have you seen his bathroom, covered in gold?  Who squanders what?

Donald Trump hates global markets.  But his clothing line is made in China and Mexico.  He’s not announced any plans to bring jobs back, just that he will.  And I want to be 6’2”. Wanting isn’t a plan.

Donald Trump wants to close our borders.  Not to illegal immigrants, but to all immigrants.  He wants to go back to racially proportionate norms.  Let me translate that.  No more brown people, but white people who want to come from Europe, you folks are ok.  And you wonder why the KKK supports him.

Not all Trump supporters are racists.  But to my knowledge all Racist groups support Trump.  That should bother many more people than it does.

Donald Trump runs a charity that he stopped funding in 2008, according to various press reports.  The charity was used to settle lawsuits, buy personal items and pay personal expenses.  Funded by donations from others, it seems.  And it was shut down by the NY Attorney General.  Hell, he’d never even filed the right paper work to make the charity legal.  But he’s smart enough to be President.

Donald tells it like it is.  He mocks the disabled.  He calls a beauty queen that gained a few pounds Miss Piggy and humiliates her on TV.  He tells Hillary “you’re the puppet.”  Whose puppet I wonder?  He mocks his political rivals (Lyin’ Ted, Little Marco, Low Energy Jeb – what is it with ‘L’?).  He has told us that Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers (oops a few of them might be good people he supposes).  He told us a Federal judge, born in Indiana, wasn’t fit to preside over a case because he was Mexican!  Seriously.

His battle cry is “LOCK HER UP!”  This is the fitting end for a woman guilty of the crime of being a woman who challenges him.  I wonder if he should have been locked up?  He’s been found liable or settled over 200 law suits over the past 40 (or so) years.  Remember he doesn’t settle.  That’s some sort of judgement or payment every other month.

I get it. There is so much shit swirling around Cheeto Jesus you’ve blocked it all out.  But should you? have we as a country lowered our standards so low that we would even consider this selfish, egotistical blowhard to babysit our kids, let alone the President of our nation?

So when you go to the polls, do you want to vote for the woman continually investigated and never charged (because mistakes aren’t criminal) or do you want to vote for the man about to go to trial fraud (the rape suite has since been dropped).  The man with what seems to be a fake charity so that others can pay his expenses.  The man who brags about degrading and assaulting women.  The man that lies, lies, lies – but it’s ok, he doesn’t mean it.  How much actual bad judgement, illegal behavior and selfishness will you ignore while you hold another to the standard that suspects she is evil?  Think about the world you want to create.

The Coffee Brined Rib, Why Not?

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It seems the world is on its head these days.  People are being paid to hurl insults at rallies and others are openly talking about a revolution.  One is rude and unethical and the other is treason.  Both may be illegal. Up is down and down is sideways.  Let’s shuffle off to realm of food.

I’ve been playing with a coffee brine for my ribs.  I’ve seen recipes that say to soak your ribs in coffee for several hours prior to smoking.  Nope too simple.   I have done this twice and I think I have a good feel for what works.

A brine is a salt water solution that imparts a great amount flavor to meat while keeping it moist.  I almost always brine my chicken breasts.  A brined, smoked and grilled pork chop is to die for.  But I haven’t brined my ribs often.  Brining pork, especially ribs takes time.   A short marinate or brine is just that, short on flavor.  I have brined my ribs for 36 and 72 hours.  I will stay with Alice Waters’ recommendation to brine chicken 24 hours and pork 3 days.  I’m pretty sure there is never a time NOT to take her recommendation.  There was a remarkable difference going the full 3 days.  Don’t skip on time.

I hear you; you don’t like coffee, blah, blah, blah.  Ok then.  Move on, this isn’t for you.  But if you stay, you’ll have some mighty fine eats.  I promise.

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I cut the racks of ribs in half, because my brine buckets won’t really handle the length of a full rack (that’s what she said).  I prefer to remove the silver skin from the ribs, you might not.  It’s a matter of personal taste.  I also rinse of the ribs prior to brining to remove excess blood and stuff. There is always stuff.

Coffee Brine
1 pot of hot coffee (Philz’ Jacob’s Wonderbar)
1 cup kosher salt
1.25 cup sugar
1 tsp Cumin
8 Allspice berries, crushed
10 Juniper berries, crushed
6 whole Cloves
10-20 whole, peeled cloves of garlic
1 bunch of thyme
3 Bay Leaves
1 TBS Honey (add after the coffee to help disolve it)
1 TBS ground pepper or 10 – 15 whole pepper corns.  I like the ground better for more heat
1 TBS Fermented Pepper sauce (recipe on my blog) you could use some tabasco or other hot sauce
Water to cover, Ice to chill

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I like Jacob’s Wonderbar for this as it has a very rich flavor and chocolate tones.  I set up all my ingredients in my brining tub, while the coffee is brewing.  I have a 12 cup pot and I make it strong.   Pour in the coffee and stir to dissolve the salt and sugar.  I like to let everything steep for 30 or 40 minutes after the salt and sugar are dissolved.

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The brine should be cool.  At this point I add some ice and cool water to roughly double the volume of liquid.  I add in the ribs slowly as not to make a mess; this is no cannonball pool party.  At this point I add more water so the liquid covers the ribs by 1/8”.  I put a plate on top to keep them submerged.  The brine goes in the fridge for 3 days, so if like me, you are smoking on Sunday, I start the brine on Thursday so I get 3 days plus a bit, instead of less than 3 days.

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About 2 hours before the ribs go on the smoker, I take them out of the brine.  I remove any bits that are stuck to them (like the cloves) and rinse them off.   I let them drain in a colander for about an hour.  Then I rub them heavily with my rub on all sides and loosely cover them with saran as they come to room temp.

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Lee’s Coffee Rub
0.5 Cup Dark Brown Sugar
0.25 Cup Smoked or Hot Paprika
1 TBS Coarse (Salad Grind) Black Pepper
1.5 tsp Chili Powder (I like the New Mexico chili powder specialty sellers like Berkeley Bowl or Whole Spice or the Chili Powder from Rancho Gordo)
1 TBS Granulated Garlic
1 TBS Onion Powder
1/4 – ½ tsp Chipotle Powder)
1 TBS Kosher Salt
1 tsp Ground Oregano (I crush dried Mexican Oregano)
1 TBS unsweetened Cocoa Powder (I like Scharffenberger)
¼ cup whole coffee beans, ground semi-fine.

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Ground coffee. Not the full amount in the rub

Mix the brown sugar with the paprika, until fully incorporated.  I prefer a manual whisk to my stand mixer.  Then add the ingredients 1 at time, mixing fully at each step.  Most of the salt in this recipe comes from the brine.

I get the fire started and smoke as I normally do.  I try to keep the fire at 225, using mostly oak, with some apple and cherry mixed in.  I rotate the ribs every few hours for even cooking as I’m cooking on two levels, one slightly hotter because heat rises.  I don’t use a water pan.

I do spare ribs for approximately 5.5 hours and baby backs for 4.5.  I think that’s because my heat spikes a few times throughout the cook.  It’s a manual process filled with human imperfections.

I often spritz my ribs every other time (every 45-60 minutes) I stoke the fire after the first hour.  My spritz is approximately 4oz apple juice, 2oz apple cider vinegar and 1TBS liquid margarine (seriously). Mix it up and spray liberally during the cook.  This keeps the rub from burning and helps create a nice color.  Totally not necessary, but it does make the ribs a bit prettier and tastier.

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I generally serve my ribs dry, with a sauce on the side.  In this case, the saltiness of the brine in the smaller ribs plays well with the sweetness of the sauce.  I coat the ribs 3 times in the last hour or so, letting each layer caramelize for 15-20 minutes.

Lee’s Coffee BBQ Sauce
2 Cups Ketchup
0.25 Cup Molasses (I like the heavier Brer Rabbit, you might need more with other brands)
3 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
Juice from 0.5 Fresh Lemon (or more if you like the tang)
1/4 tsp Tabasco® Brand Hot Sauce
3/8 Cups Dark Brown Sugar
1 TBS Honey
1/4 tsp Cayenne (Red Pepper)
4-6 Cloves Minced Fresh Garlic
1 TBS Coarse Black Pepper (the pepper adds heat over time as the sauce sits, you may want less)
0.5 Cup Strong Coffee (again, using Philz’ Jacob’s Wonderbar)

Add everything to a pot over low heat. Stir to combine.  Bring to a simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Let the ribs sit for 15 minutes or so prior to cutting.  Enjoy.

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