Information Overload

It is a crazy world we live in.  What is up was once down and what was hot is now cold.  How can anyone make sense of things, let alone try to care?  I think we are supposed to stop caring.  The amount of information and disinformation flowing constantly is alarming.  Most people can’t handle it all. I know I can’t.  Let’s put a few things out there so they don’t get lost in the shuffle.

We are supposed to care about each other.  It is not politics it is ethics and morality.  It is kindness.  If an enclave of super conservative fear mongering haters endured a natural disaster, I would still help them survive, no matter how repugnant their views.   (Well, not Nazis – see World War 2.)  Life is precious.  We help, we respect, we don’t pander for adulation for doing less than the most we can.  And we don’t tell people that surviving a hurricane is a problem for our budget.  We don’t compare it to other disasters and say it is really good.  And we don’t throw supplies into a crowd like beads at Mardi Gras.  I think we can agree that is disrespectful. Bigly.

Where was the caring in Puerto Rico?  The current president has done far less for Puerto Rico than he did for Florida or Texas.  Is that because Puerto Rico doesn’t vote for president? Is it because they are more liberal? Is it because they are Latino?  One thing is certain – the response was delayed, more lackadaisical, more self-aggrandizing and less effective in a far more devastated area.  But hey, this is the new normal right?  Personally, I’m glad Trump got in 36 holes and solid relaxation before he decided to start fixing to get ready relative to Puerto Rico.

We are supposed to be tolerant.  You might not be a Satanist, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want to kill them because they are.  You just let them be and move on with YOUR life.  But I’m sure you saw that the U.S. voted AGAINST a resolution condemning nations for issuing a death sentence for people who are LGBTQ (or gay, should you prefer to use that word).  With that vote, we can clearly say our current government ADVOCATES killing gay people.  They didn’t vote against it, so they must be for it.  Occam’s razor.  Scary shit gentle reader.

And in a similar vein, the Justice Department has now taken the position that businesses can fire employees for the offense of “being gay”.  Not only is this wrong, the Labor Department is on the other side of the case. The Justice Department just butted in and said, “Hey! Let’s make being gay a crime.”  Good thing everyone in the senate talked about what a really great (racist/bigoted) guy Jefferson Beauregard Sessions is.  Clearly this is the most important thing going on at the Justice Department.  This could be a great victory for biggots.

Remember after 9/11 how we didn’t want to talk about terrorism because it was too soon?  Or how we didn’t declare war three days later?  That’s right those things didn’t happen.  The conversation started immediately.  But we can’t talk about gun control today because it is too soon.  And by today I mean every day since there are shooting nearly every day.

The other thing that confuses is me is the realization that the NRA is running the country.  A majority of the country is in favor of stricter gun laws and background checks.  Let’s not get to specifics, but let’s agree there is plenty of room for improvement.  And support for more back ground checks is in the 90% range.  But remember, one of the first pieces of legislation passed this year was to allow severely mentally ill people to buy guns, by eliminating a background check.  This was important work by the GOP congress.

It is not even subtle.  Mitch “objector in chief” McConnell held up, nah let’s be honest he stole, a vacant Supreme Court seat until the NRA could approve.   Think about this.  The NRA has a bigger say in making laws than the voters.  I don’t recall seeing that in the constitution.

The current head of the DEA just resigned.  Why?  He said that he had become convinced that the president did not respect the rule of law.  Well, that seems normal and comforting, said no one ever.

But the bar keeps getting lower.  The Director of the Office of Government Ethics resigned because the current administration really didn’t care about ethics.  And then the administration didn’t promote the next in line, the dipped down several levels to pick some that had “looser standards”.  Well, that’s not troubling.  No wonder all the cabinet members are taking private planes while screaming their budgets need to be reduced.  For reference, a private flight can cost $15,000 while a commercial flight can cost $2-400 and many cases train would have sufficed for less than $100.  Just saying.

Meanwhile, the GOP pretends that the lack of ethics and corruption in the current administration is a mirage.  Russia didn’t interfere with our elections and the Trump family and campaign didn’t have anything to do with Russia.  Please don’t think about the various meetings that administrations officials “forgot” (I think I can get sued for using the word lie, so I won’t, but Fox News used the word lie) to mention.  And by various I mean lots and lots and lots.  Or the email accounts that are also forgotten until found.  Or the financial disclosures that have to be amended .  29 times by one account.  Not once or twice.  Nearly Thirty!  With signatures.  Perhaps by now it is even more.

But on the Brightside, we aren’t living in death camps.  Yet.

Remember, they want you to stop paying attention because you don’t care.  Care.  Pay attention.  Your freedom depends on it.

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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.