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.

 

 

ennui

I drive to work; the train is no longer an option. Later, I drive home.  The round trip is at least 3 hours, often closer to 4.  It gives me time to listen to sports talk and generally the presidential debates. Satellite radio is a wondrous thing.  But my mood has shifted.  I am reverting back to listening to music.  My mind collapses around the sadness that is the 49ers.  The Warriors are a bright spot and the Giants exude yearly hope.

But then there is the election, still 8 months out.  Am I the only one that see’s Trump inciting violence?  I was appalled when he suggested that if he didn’t get the nomination with plurality votes, which he will surely have, the people might riot.  Might?  Isn’t he telling them to?  I took it as a signal.  A blatant call to arms.  And we wonder why he is compared to Fascists.  There are no good choices.  My politics lean liberal and as bad as Trump would be – and he would be—Cruz is worse.  The manipulation of the media for air time, the cultish feel of some candidates.  Wondering if Cruz would really like to start the end of days as his father suggests.  And then I’m reminded the next SCOTUS depends on how the NRA feels.  It all makes me weary.

And Brussels, following Paris.  Some days it is indeed too much.

So I move to music.  And the lift I’m looking for is nowhere to be found.  Sad songs.  Reminders that Bowie and Kantner passed on.  That Morrison, Hendrix and Joplin died too young.  That Duane Allman cut a swath through the south but left it searing and incomplete.  John had me imagining, but even that leads down dark hallways in this year’s context.

Today, there is no joy in Mudville.   I’m sorry I’ve neglected you, my 3 or 4 dedicated readers, but most things haven’t gotten past my filters.

Here’s a little spot of joy. Maybe it will help, at least for a moment.  Who doesn’t like power pop about teachers spiking the punch of wee ones?

 

Let’s think outside the box, shall we?

The political debates in the country are driving me crazy.  It seems like every day the level of angry diatribes on Facebook for conservative causes gets louder, crazier and more rabid.  I tend to remove people from my timeline daily. Clearly, the free speech movement of the 60’s showed that free speech, demonstrations and perseverance can change the world.  Maybe not quite as much real changed as they might have wanted, but it does contribute to change.  Sadly, it seems that has translated into yelling, fanaticism and personal attacks.  It seems the lesson was lost.

I don’t mind debate and I acknowledge that my opinion might not always be right.  But let’s have discussions and compromise.  In today’s partisan politics, compromise has been lost.  During the fiscal cliff fiasco, the Republicans vowed to not compromise.  That’s one sure way to encourage debate and compromise.  All it does is make deep chasms deeper.  To my way of thinking, it is no better that a 3-year-old boy who won’t share his toys.  Nothing good comes from it and the behavior needs to be corrected.

Fox News, my favorite whipping boy, spends hours per day on topics that are ridiculous.  President Obama is ruining the country is generally the basic theme.  During the election, I was constantly amazed on how Fox harped on “Obamacare.”  It was a good idea when Romney did something very similar in Massachusetts.  Is it because it is ok if a state does it but the not federal government?  Personally, I am not sure that every state in south knows the civil war ended and they lost.  I don’t dislike southerners, but I am wary of the “old ways.” Let’s be honest, many people still fly the Confederate flag and think it isn’t offensive.  It is.  I believe, regretfully, we are still generations removed from racism and classism being eliminated in this country.  Isn’t Arizona still protesting the MLK Holiday and looking for reasons to stop minorities?  It is in the name of curbing illegal immigration of course.  I think a strong federal government has to something that some states probably won’t do.

That’s not to say there is no room for debate or compromise.  I believe there is.  But, is there a debate if each side yells, “no compromise!”  I’m not a fan of pork barrel spending or ever increasing entitlements.  But, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Let’s make plans, as complex as they may be, to cut spending.  Not everything today.  Real change is needed, but it’s not a light switch change and there is no magic bullet.  Discussion and compromise are needed.  If you see it, please let me know, because I do not.  That bothers me.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in Democracy and Capitalism.  I also believe in compassion and more butter than guns.  But I do believe in a strong defense system; we are the watchers on the wall so to speak, let’s not abandon that.  Let’s be smart about it.

While I believe that we need to arm and outfit our military appropriately, I do not believe in nuclear weapons vis a vis mutually assured destruction.  We have some, ok.  So do a few other countries.  I am very bothered by Iran and other countries developing them.  I’m not saying let’s go invade Iran.  But it’s not the worst Idea I’ve heard either.

What is the worst idea I’ve heard lately is that the best defense against a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.  Color me stupid, but this not the old west and the good ‘ol USA is not Tombstone.  We are not all Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.  Some of you must be the Dalton Gang, by definition, of course.  Aren’t you puzzled about how much power the NRA has?  I saw a poll that 84% of the US wants some sort of increased gun control.  84%.  Even if that is an exaggeration, I think we can agree it is 84% likely that MOST people want some sort of gun control.  But there seems to be two sides:  people who want to talk about it and those that refuse to entertain the thought.  The people who believe this will ruin the country seem to be yelling the loudest.

I’ve seen some people go as far as declare the president a criminal or tyrant for the plans and objectives he outlined on gun control this week.  Is it really that different from the legislation, now long expired, that Regan put into place in the 80s?  Not to my mind.  But something is different.  Probably the Fox pundits spewing hate all day every day.

Last night I saw a clip of some idiot proposing that if European Jews had assault weapons, there wouldn’t have been a holocaust.  Really?  To paraphrase John Stewart, France couldn’t stop the Germans and it took the US and other countries over 5 years of WAR, but giving civilians guns would have prevented WWII.  Lunacy.

People are screaming that taking away semi-automatic, high capacity killing devices is in violation of the constitution.  The constitution that was written when weapons (or arms) meant muskets (manually reloaded, of course), knives, bayonets, and cannons.  I would never thing to propose to take away one’s musket or bayonet.  Other than Rick Harrison (and his high profile customers) on Pawn Stars, who do  you know that has a cannon?

In 1729 Jonathan Swift published “A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burden to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick.”  I often recall that piece and think of its great logic.  I have a new modest proposal.  Clearly, hand guns and hunting rifles are not enough for the gun enthusiasts.  Perhaps they are right that we need more good guys with guns.  I would propose the following.

  • Every dwelling must have at least 1 hand gun.  People will be on the honor system to keep it away from children and encouraged, but not required to take a gun safety course.
  • People will be encouraged to have as many rifles and hunting gear as they can afford.
  • On each block, at least one family will be required to have and AK47 (or more powerful weapon)
  • In each 4 block area, at least 1 family must have a machine gun or other killing weapon to use against the bad guys.  The blocks will vote on who is the good guy
  • For every 100 families or dwellings there will be one family with a crate of hand grenades.
  • For every 500 families or dwellings, there will 1 ground to air RPG or rocket launcher with at least 3 rockets.
  • Cities larger than 50,000 will have 1 tank per 50,000 citizens.  These will be housed at the homes of the city council.
  • Cities larger than 900,000 will have at least 1 nuclear bomb.  Cities over 2million must have at least 3.  The head of the city’s garbage collection agency will be in charge of the bombs or rockets.

I believe this is a great course of action.  It will put lots of weapons in the hands of good guys and will force everyone to be careful how they use their allotted weapons.  It logically follows that if the killers at Columbine, Newtown and Aurora had known they could be easily killed they would have thought twice about the consequences of their actions, they wouldn’t have pulled the triggers.  Right?  Thank god for the NRA.