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.

 

 

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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.

Of Common Sense and Half Truths

I often wonder what has happened to common sense.  I’d like to think my father emphasized common sense as a key foundational element in my upbringing.  Let’s go with that shall we?  I believe I have some because in a previous position, my good friend Dr. Starr used to say, “common sense isn’t.”  And then he followed that up by making me the VP of Common Sense.  I am far from perfect, as several of you can easily attest, but I think I’m pretty solidly filled with common sense.

As I take BART (aka the train) to and from work each day I’ve learned to both read and give visual clues about  needing to disembark.  People often signal their intentions.  Me, I tend to put my tablet away, put my reading glasses in my pocket and shift my murse (my nieces believe my messenger bad is really a murse, not a European carry-all) and glance toward the seatmate that will need to move.

Today, I went through my routine and the person next to me didn’t ask, they just immediately stood up.  I rarely like to stand up prior to the train stopping but I did a few seconds prior to that shake that pushes people uncomfortably together.  I moved into the aisle and she sat back down.  It was crowded, like a mosh pit at an oversold Foo Fighters show.  There was nowhere to go and the doors did not open.  2 seconds into this slight delay, a big guy pushed past me with a terse, “ ’scuse me!”  As I recovered from his shove, another woman pushed by, pushing me backward (like the mosh pit).  I politely said, “I want to get off too.”  And she cast a fearsome scowl my way.  I think whatever common sense there was lay bleeding at my feet.  30 crowded seconds later the doors opened.

Common sense has been heavy on my mind.  Yesterday as I waited for the train I stopped and wondered, “What are they thinking?”  Lines and queues are governed by common sense.  Much like stopping at a traffic light.  There is a 12 inch strip at the platform you need to stand behind while waiting for the train.  The spot the door opens is clearly marked.  But, there is no written rule of how far to stand behind that strip.  I tend to stand 6 to 12 inches behind the strip.  Keep in mind by the time the train comes there will be 20 or more people in line, curving toward the line for the next door.  Oh, and I go to the last door on the last train.

Sometimes people stay 2 or 3 feet back from other people. 12 inches is really the least you can stand back, respecting personal space and helping to make the line efficient.  Sometimes you see people much further apart as if the person in front of them is an Ebola carrier.  Yesterday, the person at the front the line was a solid 12 feet back from the stip.  And the person behind them another 5. This is a lot like the person at the stoplight who stays more than 2 car lengths behind the care in front of them.  5 or 6 feet is good at a stoplight.  35 is not.  If you need that much personal space, you should probably stay home.  It should be a law.

And then there is a new phenomenon I’ve noticed – people who believe that lines serve no purpose.  The hover around the line then push into it as it moves.  This applies to waiting for a train at commute hour, at the escalators and the turnstiles.  For the record, Chaos may be the state everything devolves to, but it is not helpful.  Common sense people:  pretend you have some.

I was debating things with my father the other night.  This was noteworthy because while it was heated and the volume went from 3 to 6, there was no yelling or name calling.  That never happens with us.  I first recall him yelling at me during the Clinton-Lewinski scandal as I had pimped her out.  I consider myself a semi-enlightened liberal, near the center and he is just to the right of Attila the Hun, parroting everything Rush, O’Reilly and Hannity tells him is true.    As you know, I believe as the good professor Jon Stewart has taught us, Fox News is Bullshit Mountain.  Of course most things those three pundits put forth (or more appropriately, spew) have their basis in fact, but they are rarely completely true.

My father and started debating social change in the US.  He pounded me for wanting to see the rate of change increase.  In his mind there is a natural speed of change and I think everything should change now.  No, I just believe that the rate is increasing and it should continue to increase.  He gets so lost in the hype that common sense gets lost.  This is sad, because I’ve always looked to him as fountain of common sense.

The rate of change in technology keeps increasing.  Why should our understanding of societal issues and civil rights not move as well?  Are we a static society content to keep things as they have been?  Using that logic, we might have prevented the auto industry from taking form to protect the buggy whip business.  We might just now be learning to build factories and decreasing our dependence on the manual loom.  As information grows and we our capacity for learning increases with each new baseline, the rate of change speeds up.  I’m not looking to change the world today.  But I am looking to support the good changes that are taking place and help move the needle forward, not back.

As the topic shifted to racism and police killing blacks unnecessarily in this country, he pulled out what I’m sure came from Bill O’Reilly, “More whites are killed by the police, than blacks.”  Of course I researched it.

Well hell, that’s true.  Or should I say half true; it is totally misleading.  Let’s look at the facts:

  • From 1980 to 2012 44% of people killed by police where white.
  • From 1999 -2011 2,151 whites were killed compared to 1,130 blacks.

Washington Times 4/21/2015

So yes, in gross numbers more whites were killed.  Lies, damn lies and statistics, right? But since the black population of the US is less than one fifth that of the white population, Blacks are almost 4 times more likely to be shot and killed  by police than whites.  Think about that.  That is not a nominal statistical fluctuation; that is a trend!  That, gentle reader,  is racism.   An indicator of the institutional racism that Fox News wants us to believe doesn’t exist.  I disagree.

Now, do I believe all police are racists?  Absolutely not.  Do I believe some are?  Without question.  The issue is how many and what do we do?  We’ve seen too many occasions where the police abuse or use unreasonable force with blacks.  Choking a man for selling cigarettes.  Shooting a man in the back for running from a broken tail light citation.  Everything in Fergusson!   Where are the examples of police abusing white people?  I don’t recall seeing those.  I’m sure it happens, but much more rarely than with minorities.  You may not believe there is a larger problem, but I believe there is.

Part of me is beginning to think that perhaps local law enforcement is beacon to the power hungry, to the racists in our society.  We even see horrid examples of racism in the liberal city of San Francisco.  So when my father asks if I think more than 5% of the police nationally are racists, I immediately answer yes. I hope I’m wrong, but I sincerely doubt it.

As a counterpoint, he immediately points to Baltimore and the riots and looting, while the police were told to stay back and let things happen.  We all saw it on TV, but did we see the same thing?  I saw an oppressed group reacting as the only way they felt they could.  I didn’t like it; I didn’t excuse it.  I understood it.  Common sense sometimes means seeing things from someone else’s point of view.  Seeing that racial oppression has not benefitted this country, is this really where we want to make our stand?  I believe most of us see there is problem in this country.  It is uncomfortable to acknowledge, let alone talk about.  We as society, as a loud single voice need to make sure the needle keeps moving, that change keeps taking place.

I say we have a problem in the country.  We are finally ready as a nation to see it for what it is and, as a country, are ready to acknowledge it.  We need to fix it and it will take a strong majority.  You may disagree, but my common sense says this is needed and is coming.  Why don’t you help be part of the solution, rather than perpetuating the problem? It’s only common sense.

Myriad Randomness – Drought Edition

As you may have heard, there is drought in California.  What does this mean to me, specifically?  I’m glad you asked.  Here’s what I’ve changed.

  • I have a bucket in the shower. I catch the “warm up” to water the tomatoes.  That’s new.
  • I reuse my shower towel “many” times. It is 85+ most days and it dries quickly.  That cuts down on washing.  I did this in college and in my younger days.  No longer is my hamper full of towels.  (You know, that subtle status symbol of being economically stable.)
  • I only run my sprinklers 2 days a week. Usually after 9pm when the sun goes down.  My once envied super green lawn looks like every other sad, green lawn in the Nor Cal.  I haven’t decided to kill it yet.

What does this mean?  We are mandated to cut our usage by 25% from 2013.  May I was down about 50%.  No earth shattering changes.  Just lots of little ones.

I know I’ve been a bit outspoken politically lately.  Quite honestly I’m both thrilled and heartened by many (but sadly, not all) of the responses I have gotten.  Don’t go by the comments here, there aren’t many and I delete all the “I want to kill Ashley” or “I want Ashley to host my Bukakke party” comments.  Most are far worse.

But seriously, how can things continue to unravel in our world?  Pope Francis works hard to bring the Catholic Church into the 20th Century and Fox News calls him the most dangerous man in the world?  People I know on Facebook call him “EVIL”.    I guess the world still must be flat, the sun revolves around the earth and Torquemada was misunderstood.  Really?  You know what I think.  I just can’t understand how some conclusion could be reached, held so tightly and preached so violently.  We know the gene pool is flawed, just saying.

I still love my coffee.  Have you had Equator Coffee?  I’ve been buying their stuff on line (their roastery delivers for free for a $50 order and I have it in 2 days) and now they opened a shop next to the Warfield.  We know mid-Market is on the upswing, but this is huge.  Granted it’s a mile walk from the office, but I get exercise, the coffee is great and they have food too.  Check it out.  Only downside is that their bean selection is limited.  No fear here, I don’t mind the online thing.  The sweet spot is the 2 pound bags.  I’ve been drinking the Brazil 45 Espresso (it makes a mean, well rounded regular cup).  $13.25 for 0.75 lbs.  That’s $17.67/lb.  Or $30.05 for 2lbs.  $15.03/lb a savings of 15%.  Compare that the various coffees at Peets’. They are $14.95-$16.95.  So the same price or less and much more complex and delicious.  And honestly, smelling Major Dickasons at home today, it smelled burnt.  Fantastic coffee doesn’t always mean expensive.  But there are expensive options too.  Ping me if you need coffee advice.

Sandra Bland was in jail for 3 days.  She was arrested for an illegal lane change.  Later, she hung herself in her cell (allegedly).  She was college educated.  She was back in her college town for a job interview. And she was black.  I have about 400 questions.  If you don’t, stop reading this now.  You probably shouldn’t ever come back to this page. I’m sure incidents like this have happened far more often than “white” America realized in the past.  It is glaringly obvious now.  Our blinders are off.  They need to stay off.  I’m not going to pontificate on this today.  But I am outraged.  You should be too.  How can you not be?

I’m pondering a long piece on the death of middle management.  Clearly, I’m not in the top 2% and I see so many fixable issues that are allowed to fester.  That’s what 30+ years of working in corporate America will do for you.  Of course I worry about being to self-centered and whiny.  And that you won’t care.

And for those of you that don’t know, R+L=J.  It is known.  It always has been.   Three words: Tower of Joy.

I’ve read a few things lately that you should might enjoy.  I loved the latest James SA Corey Expanse entry Nemesis Games.  It is getting mixed reviews from my friends, but I’m firmly on board and can’t wait for the show on Syfy.  It looks fantastic.

Tex Thompson’s second book Medicine for the Dead builds on her debut, One Night in Sixes and shows vividly what a fantastic writer she is.  Seriously, in 10 years you’ll wonder how you missed this.  She’s going to be huge.   Trust me.

Did you like Flowers in the AtticJR Johansson’s Cut Me Free builds off a similar premise.  It is defiantly YA, but sometimes I act as if I’m 14, so it makes sense.  I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to reading more of her stuff.  Especially those that are painted in horror tones.

I’ve never given Leigh Bardugo column space here.  Her Grisha Trilogy is fantastic.  Shadow and Bone, Siege and Storm and Ruin and Rising are all great reads.  Her next novel, Six of Crows, is set in the same universe with new characters.  It is scheduled to come out later this year and I’m excited for it.

In the kitchen this year I’ve mastered hummus.  Who’d have thought?  But homemade is so much better than store bought, especially when you can spice it to your tastes.  More lemon? Yes.  More harissa? Yes.  More fresh onion, garlic and herbs? Yes.  Hummus it’s not just for hippies anymore.  No need to wear the tie dye today.  Tomorrow you can.

I’ve also kicked up the frequency on my bacon jam. Bourbon Maple Bacon Jam.  It goes well on crackers, bread, grilled cheese sandwiches AND on your burger.  I made a huge batch and my guests inhaled it.  Guess I’ll need to make more soon.

The view from my building

And I love working in SF.

Let’s Not Stand by Idly and Allow This to Continue

As a child, my father forbid me to watch Hogan’s Heroes.  I didn’t get it then, but I do now as an adult.  The Nazis were not bumbling clowns.  The horror was real.  The show, in a very subtle way encouraged the belief that the Holocaust wasn’t so bad, perhaps it didn’t happen.  Is that what we want remember?

Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it, they say. They are right.  Growing up Jewish in the 60s and 70s, the Holocaust was a key event to learn about – to make sure it never happens again. One key piece by Pastor Martin Niemöller was often referenced

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

I’m not black. I’m not in the least bit implying that blacks are being rounded up and murdered.  But then, is that really too far from the church burning we are seeing (or in many cases NOT seeing) in the south?  Have we forgotten the violence of the 60s?  Did we really notice or did we turn aside and pretend not to see?  It is easier to believe that lynching no longer occur.  But isn’t that what effectively happened in a South Carolina church recently?

It is time to speak up.  To be heard.  To say “No! This is not OK.”  More than once I counselled to my son’s friend that the Confederate Flag (I’m sorry – Battle Flag) is symbol of racism and degradation.  I stand by that.  I’ll repeat it as often as necessary.  Bill O’Reilly says (probably for ratings) that there is no systemic racism in the US.  He won’t stand up and speak to our racial problems.  He encourages them.

Today I watched a few good ‘ol Northern boys get upset on Facebook that TV Land pulled Dukes of Hazzard reruns.  (I believe I mentioned that should happen a few posts back.)  They didn’t, or wouldn’t, understand the difference between history and perpetuating systemic racism with subtle and tacit approval.  I’m not saying that the civil war didn’t happen.  I’m just saying that perpetuating the pride in treason and slavery is not acceptable in a civilized society.

Still don’t understand? Well, let me help you.  There are always multiple sides to a story.  (You did see Rashomon, right?)  One side is racist and the other is education.

Here are two well written pieces you might peruse.

The Confederate Flag:  Giving Blacks the Finger (2013)

Why the Confederate Battle Flag is Even More Racist Than You Think (2015)

Educate yourself.  Racism requires our approval.  I’m removing mine.  When I see people whining about how PC and silly the uproar over the flag is, I’ll correct them.  It is time to stop allowing people to not see the damage they are encouraging and approving.  I’m speaking out whenever I see this.   I’ll lose friends.  Real change takes work.  I’m in.  Are you?  Let’s all speak out and make a real difference.  We can be so much greater than we are.

A Flag Over South Carolina: Your Pride, My Outrage

I sit here, feeling doubt creep in.  Who am I to write this?  I am no one.  I’ve not been elected, pushed forward to lead or showered in celebrity.  I might be smarter than the average bear; then again I might not be.  Who am I? I am you.  Not all of you, because if I was, this would be unnecessary.  Yesterday, last year, last century this was necessary. And we did nothing. Today it is necessary to act.  Change is never easy.  And bluntly, it is rarely welcomed.

In the employment sphere, I tend to be tasked with driving change.  Processes, systems and paradigms – the wheels progress rolls upon – have been my tools for years.  People resist it.  Corporations sometimes fight it.  If you look, it won’t be hard to find the company that squashes new ideas that work, because it doesn’t fit it the current ideology.  You think business is about making money? Not really, business is generally about people holding on to what they have, working hard to keep things the same and not rock the boat.  The boat rockers are often tossed to the sea.  It doesn’t matter if they are showing others a better, more productive, more profitable way to do things; there is always someone who wants to resist change and maintain what is the status quo and THEIR happiness.

For the last 25 years, I’ve held on to one key phrase. One tenet that makes sense to me.  No, not “perfection is the enemy of the good.”  That one is the paean to mediocrity, permission to accept less than the possibility of success.  I am referring to the always ignored, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”

You can eat ice cream for every meal.

You can ignore the drought in California and save your lawn.

You can drive drunk, ignoring the consequences.

You can enable increased corporate profits (and your bonus) by outsourcing middle class jobs overseas.

You can ignore the issues and not vote.

And you can continue to believe that racism doesn’t exist because it is not your problem.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

The mind space for racial change has come to a head over the last few years.  I believe we – not just you and me, but everyone – need to do what we can for a positive change.  I don’t to come to this lightly and I am not a sudden Johnny-come-lately bandwagon jumper.

In 1980 I made a conscious decision to move away from a group of friends.  It was made easy because I was away in college and they were still in my hometown.  On my first or second trip home I was appalled at the reactions of my friends when they found I was dating a black girl.  It was uncomfortable and I pulled away from them over the next several months.  Did they over react? Did I?  Being Jewish, I was the minority in my High School. In the 70’s the area of San Jose I grew up in was as white bread as could be.  At least it was to my mind.  Did I say this is “racist!”?  No, but it was not in line with where my mind was and I shifted friendships.

In 1992 we saw several white cops beat Rodney King.  Was this racist? No, it was another criminal being beaten by the police.  He probably deserved it.  If he didn’t, it was probably an isolated incident.  I’m sure many of you thought similarly.

I assumed Oscar Grant in some way put himself in a position to be the victim of a sad accident.

Then George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin.  A horrid mistake.  It couldn’t have been on purpose.

Then came Ferguson.  And Cleveland.  And NYC.  And Baltimore.  And the cop sitting at the teenage girl at the pool party in Texas, ignoring the Caucasian teenagers.   Not accidents, but a pattern

And now Charleston.  He even announced how he wanted to kill African Americans.  He was proud.  How many times must we see the same thing to realize that we have a racial problem in our country? Even if Fox News tells us that shooting a man of the cloth is an attack on Christianity, we know it was not.  It was completely racially motivate.  And the gunman told us so.

We could ignore the evidence and keep our heads in the sand.

Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.

My friend Shay writes a fantastic blog Black Girl in Maine.  I don’t always read it, but I am always glad I did. It makes me think.  Her plight is not my fight.  Right? But it is.  She has written on white privilege several times, which used to confuse me.  There is no such thing, right? I don’t’ feel privileged.

I know that last month I was outraged (or worse) because I was given a warning from the water company due to a complaint from a neighbor.  What I had I done?  Nothing.  On deep reflection I realized that MAYBE my sprinklers were on 5 minutes past the 9 am end point for allowable watering.  I can’t describe the rage I felt and I screamed to the water company’s voice mail.

That’s the worst thing that has happened to me in several years.  Let’s compare that to how African Americans fear the police.  We are taught the police are our friends and there to help.  Really?  If you are black, you can get stopped, arrested and hassled because of the color of your skin.  I cried the other day when I read one woman’s twitter feed.  Her 13 year old son was riding his bike in HIS NEIGHBORHOOD when a woman who didn’t recognize him (because he was black) called the police.  The police came and hassled him.  Shook him up.  More than rattled his family.  He was afraid to leave the house. My empathy overflowed.  Sadly, I know this is not uncommon.

That’s white privilege.  I don’t’ have that worry about being stopped and arrested just due to the color of my skin.  People don’t look awkwardly at me when I go into a nice store.  Neither my sons nor I nor most people I know or grew up with worry about this.  You follow the law, be a good person and life is good.  Sadly, this is not the case for everyone.  Wasn’t this country founded on equality?  Words and actions often differ.

I’m not naive.  I know that most stereotypes are rooted in some reality.  I know people that focus on the looting that took place in Ferguson and ignore the underlying issues.  But there is an underlying issue.  There are racial issues that divide this country.  Hundreds of years of abuse (lynching, Jim Crow Laws, segregation, discrimination, elimination of opportunities for starters) have reinforced and increased the racial divide.  While many people speak out and protest others look and destroy. It doesn’t matter what ethnicity you are.

In the 60s the country protested the war.  Protesters didn’t differentiate between soldiers and the leaders that put the US in war we shouldn’t have been in.  Later we protested the Iraq war.  We learned and didn’t blame the soldiers.  We blamed the leaders that lied to us to get the approval to invade a country we should never have been in.  We grew.

It is time to grow again.  This is the United States of America.  A country founded on the premise that “all men are created equal.”  This is not the United States of America, and a few ex Confederate States that believe

“… its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition.”

I know in my soul that most of us do not believe these words.  Yes, some people still do.  It is their right to be ignorant and hold on to outdated racial beliefs.  I believe we must stop allowing them to believe it is OK to believe this.  Free speech is a right in this country.  I will defend it.  I believe Nazis can assemble and march.  I defend that right.  I believe racists can believe what they want

But I also fucking believe that it is NOT OK.  .  I believe it is my right to protest and decry all they stand for.  We, as a majority, need to stop cow towing to the few.  Symbols of oppression and discrimination are not acceptable.  They may not be illegal, but they should be not encouraged to be used with impunity.  Of course the Federal Government can’t ban the Confederate flag (or battle flag as the hair splitters want to call it).  But we can.  We can and must take action.

The federal government can and should ban any Confederate items from being flown at national, state, city and municipal locations.  Would we allow any city to fly the Nazi flag with pride?  No, we wouldn’t.  We have power and I don’t mean violence.  Encouraging racism and hate must stop. Now is the time to act, for our outrage to be heard.

Protest. Be vocal.  Post in social media.  It is not OK to be racist, discriminating or hateful.  Stop pretending the symbols of slavery are a source of pride.  You want pride, do something prideful and throw down these symbols. Enable change, and release our shameful past.  We shouldn’t forget, we don’t forget.  But I’m not celebrating the holocaust.  Are you?  Do something worthy of pride.  The fact that you live in the land that fought to keep slaves is should never be a source of pride.  Perhaps consider a move to Qatar.  They encourage modern slavery.

If a store sells Confederate merchandise, I won’t shop there, neither should you.  If a state like South Carolina believes the Confederate Flag is a source of pride, we must remind them constantly that their pride is in discrimination and racial hatred.  That is wrong. There should be protests, Op-Eds and outrage daily, without violence.  We speak with our will, our voice and our spending power.

If I owned a business, I wouldn’t do business with people in Confederate insignia. I won’t spend money where I believe it benefits racists or those that enable racism.  And I’ll protest any network that shows Dukes of Hazzard reruns.  General Lee might have been a great leader, but I will not glorify his war to ensure blacks remained slaves.

Change is never easy. I’m going to offend many people with this.  Good.  Get angry, but fucking think for yourself.  If you really believe there is nothing wrong with flying the Confederate Flag, rethink your values. I’ll defend the right for free speech, but that doesn’t mean I won’t use my right to let you know that I believe, that WE believe you are wrong.  I’m not going to any place that flies swastikas. Why do we allow states to fly the reminders of slavery above African Americans in the South?  It is insulting and increases our national shame. We insult a good portion of country daily with this behavior.  It is unconscionable and we MUST not allow it to continue.

It is 2015.  We shouldn’t hate people for the color of their skin or continue to turn blind eyes to the subtle forms of oppression.  The time to act is now.  I will.  Will you?

This time, just because we can we should. We must.