My biggest takeaway from the midterm election.

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I’m condensing and editing this from a Twitter thread I wrote the day after the midterm elections.  

Now that the midterms are finally over (although they aren’t really:  there are still votes coming in in some places, and there may even be recounts in states like Florida and Georgia),  my biggest takeaway is this: we can never, ever take democracy for granted.  We can’t assume it’s a gift that once given, just stays.

Because that is not the way democracy works.   It must be constantly maintained, not by politicians, not by pundits on TV, not by activists.  It must be maintained by regular people like you and me.  Unfortunately, for many years, we took democracy for granted and thought we could stay uninvolved in politics and let others do the hard work.  But once a large percentage of the population ceases to care to the point that they don’t even vote,  democracy is in trouble.   The very term democracy indicates that its existence depends on The People.   It depends on us.

Republicans were able to seize so much power because we let them.  Although other factors played a part in Trump winning, in 2016, we didn’t turn out in sufficient numbers at the polls to overcome everything that was stacked against us.   But those things were never insurmountable.   There are just too many of us.   Yes, Hillary won the popular vote (and I’m one of those people who think the electoral college should be abolished), Russians may well have influenced the results, gerrymandering and voter suppression  in some states is out of control, etc.  But, in spite of all the obstacles the GOP tried to set against us, the results in 2016 were still close.   Had we all voted (and not voted for third party candidates like Jill Stein), Trump would have lost and instead of becoming POTUS, today he’d be just another washed up and forgotten reality TV star who once ran for president.

But he is president, and now that we are stuck with him (for now), we are all learning an extremely sobering lesson in just how fragile democracy is, and just how easily one despotic man with too much power can start to dismantle all our checks and balances, and destroy democracy itself.   Many Americans, including myself, used to think about Nazi Germany and wonder how it could have happened.    We are now seeing in real time how it happened:  specifically, how seemingly normal people could come to support a murderous fascist tyrant.

We woke up, perhaps at one minute before midnight, but still not too late to flip Congress back to Democratic rule, which will mean there will be some vital checks put back on this presidency.  As a result, Trump, though he will still rage and threaten and bully the free press, our institutions, and everyone he doesn’t like, won’t be able to push through his tyrannical and cruel policies the way he has been able to over the past two years.  We will be able to relax just a little.  But we can never again become complacent.

Were it not for the efforts of the Resistance, and even more importantly,  regular folks of all races, creeds, religions, income levels, and lifestyles, turning out in record numbers to vote (many voting for the first time because they realized democracy itself was on the line) and had this election drawn a tepid turnout like other recent elections, we would have lost the House.   Instead of feeling hopeful and relieved, we’d be staring down into a black abyss of unfettered tyranny right now.

Had we lost, we would now be freefalling into fascism and Trump would have unchecked power, free to do anything he wanted to do. We would have lost our democracy and would soon become a dictatorship.

Things are far from perfect. We still have a heavily Republican Senate and a Judiciary that is moving further to the right and will most likely continue to do so as long as Trump retains the presidency.  But the good news is, Trump can no longer just do anything he wants, and he can’t break the law, because the new Congress will hold him accountable if he does.  The Russia investigation will continue, and the new Congress will make sure Trump doesn’t get to run away from or obstruct justice, unlike our current GOP Congress, which enables his crimes and lack of ethics.  He can also be forced to show his tax returns.  So even though Republicans are still top heavy in the Trump White House, we are in much better shape than we were before the election. Trump can scream and toss insults and threatens all he wants, but at the end of the day, he simply  won’t be able to get much done.

A Democratic Congress can also start impeachment proceedings. Before last night, Democrats had no power to do anything. The only power we had was our vote. And we exercised it in record numbers. Had it not been for us using that hard won right, and sitting at home, democracy would have died.

We’re not out of the woods yet though.   This isn’t over.  We still have a lot more work left to to do. Trump has done incredible damage which may take generations to repair.  Republicans (which has become a fascist party since Trump) still have too much power. But we, the People, took back some of that power with our votes, and that is a good beginning.

I hope we all learned a lesson that democracy takes WORK.  We have the right to vote, and we need to use it — or possibly lose it!   Losing our right to vote can happen much more easily than you think.  There are people in high levels in government that would love nothing more than to take away our right to vote.   We can never assume others will do the work of democracy for us. The responsibility falls on us.  A government run by the People requires the input of the People.   There’s no way around it.   Voting in record numbers is essential.

If we continue to vote in the kinds of numbers we had on Election Night, we can eventually overturn this entire sorry regime  and finally have the kind of inclusive, compassionate, prosperous, caring, honest, and fair government WE, not the oligarchs and religious extremists, want: one that works for the People, not just the ultra rich and corporations.

If you voted, you should feel proud that you helped to save democracy. I think last night proved that no amount of voter suppression or GOP cheating is enough to overcome huge numbers of people voting.

We still have a long road ahead of us and a country to save.  Let’s get going!

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Rest in peace, John McCain

ripjohnmccain

John McCain finally lost his battle with brain cancer and passed away today.

While I disagreed with much of John McCain’s platform,  I never doubted that he was a good and noble man with integrity, a dedicated American, a war hero, and a true patriot who deserved to be treated with respect and dignity by the party who went rogue and abandoned him and his legacy in favor of the corrupt politics of Trump.

RIP, John McCain.  You lived a life of service to us all.  Thank you.

Earth Day 2017 — March for Science

Today is almost a year since the first March for Science. Here’s an article from USA Today about this year’s March:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/04/14/march-science-2018/517294002/

It doesn’t seem like a lot has changed in a year, as Trump and his minions continue to dismantle the EPA from within, destroy laws that protect us against pollution, push fossil fuels over sustainable clean energy, and double down on their climate change denial even as our polar ice caps melt and our weather becomes more extreme and dangerous.

I’m reblogging the post I wrote last year when I attended the March for Science in my city.

Lucky Otters Haven

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In these days of dangerous lies called alternative facts and facts touted by our leaders as fake news,  the celebration of Earth Day has never seemed more important.  All over the nation today, people in cities big and small gathered to defend science and scientific research.  Scientific knowledge and education is important to keep our water and air clean, our food healthy and safe, and keep our young people educated instead of indoctrinated in ignorance.

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The organizations that sponsored our event.

In one important sense, the Trump presidency is the best thing that could happen to our country, because it’s forcing people to wake up and finally take a stand for the things that really matter.   I doubt there would be this level of activity had Hillary won the election.   People would remain stuck in their apathy and cynicism.

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It’s encouraging that so many cities had such a big…

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March for Our Lives!

There is a new Moral Majority in America. And it isn’t white evangelicals, the NRA, or the supporters of Trump. It is the majority of the country who believe in integrity in government, compassion, the rule of law, and justice. They are raising their voices daily. Especially today. — Matthew Dowd

Millions of people gathering to peacefully march against gun violence in every city in the country, and across the globe.  The enthusiasm and passion of the kids leading the movement gives me hope that maybe America will be okay after all.

Listen to 11 year old Naomi Wadler.   Hear this young woman roar.   THIS is what democracy looks like.

Here is Emma Gonzalez’ powerful speech and 6 minute moment of silence.  If you aren’t moved by this, you don’t have a soul.

Watch out, GOP, you old dinosaur.   The new generation is going to change things, and they are NOT going to vote for you.

 

#044–Why don’t they call white male mass shooters “terrorists”?

Please leave comments under the original post.

The Chatty Introvert

(Photo Credit: nbcnews.com)

I am so sick of this crap.

I’m sick of these killings.

I’m sick of these “woe is me” stories of a guy who can’t hack it and says “screw the world, I’m taking you all down with me.”

I’m tired of white men (NOT BOYS, DAMMIT!) who haven’t figured out that sitting on your ass and being a white male isn’t going to get you very far anymore, be it job related or dating related.

And I’m really sick of the media and government not calling it like it is. I’m tired of them not calling these white male shooters “terrorists.”

I think its a simple formula: if your object is to maim or kill complete strangers that mean nothing to you and have never personally wronged you, because of some supposed belief you hold (whether nurtured, cultural, religious, etc.) and you find a way to…

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The insanity of being a news junkie in the age of Trump.

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Every day when I wake up, I check the news headlines. Maybe it’s just hypervigilance and wanting to reassure myself that Trump hasn’t started nuclear war yet.   This presidency makes me feel like I’m back in an abusive relationship and as a result I feel on guard all the time.

But at the same time, there’s a certain thrill I get from reading stories that seem like they would have been headlines from The Onion just a year ago.   It’s not a good kind of thrill, but the kind of thrill you get from doing something you know might kill you but feeling compelled to try it anyway — like, oh, maybe sky diving or trying methamphetamine.    Only the sick thrill is always accompanied by that awful, sinking, helpless feeling you get when you realize you are totally fucked and there’s not a thing you can do about it.    Maybe it’s a familiar feeling to me and somehow comforting, but I know people who didn’t come from narcissistic families or abusive relationships and report they feel exactly the same way about this presidency and the endless stream of unthinkable news that it’s unleashed.

I want my news to be boring again.

On the plus side, more people than ever before are getting an education in basic civics (now that civility is a thing of the past) and how government works (now that it doesn’t).

I think we’re also learning to be more discerning about which news is fake and which is not.  Sometimes it’s hard to tell, especially when the president is waging war on truth.

If you can get angry and stay angry instead of allowing the news to make you depressed or emotionally numb, then there is  hope.    Every revolution in history began because a lot of people were mad as hell and weren’t gonna take it anymore.

Please stop calling suicide victims ‘selfish’ or ‘weak.’ (reblog)

One of the best blogs I’ve recently discovered is John Pavlovitz’s blog “Stuff That Needs to Be Said.”  Pavlovitz is a Christian pastor, but he is different because he abhors what has become “conservatism” and is an active member of the resistance.  Like Jesus himself, he is compassionate and bravely defends all those who are vulnerable or “different,” including groups many fake Christians hate and fear, such as the LGBTQ population and Muslim immigrants.

Every day, Mr. Pavlovitz writes impassioned, brutally honest posts calling out the darkness and evil so many of us see in the new White House and in the greater society.   I love what he has to say and I love the way he writes.  But he doesn’t write exclusively about the political situation.   In this post, he calls out those who accuse Linkin Park’s frontman Chester Bennington as weak and selfish for killing himself on Friday — and in so doing, defends all people who have sunk into such despair and hopelessness that they think suicide is their only way out.

Please Stop Calling Suicide Victims “Weak” and “Selfish”

By John Pavlovitz

Chester

Soon after news broke about the death of Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, amid the flood of condolences and the raw expressions of grief and shock—came the others; the ones who are never far, always hiding just out of view, ever ready to crawl from out from the cracks.

In moments like these, they surface to offer flippant, callous, armchair sermons about how selfish suicide is, about how cowardly the dead person was, about why he or she should have thought of their children, spouses, loved ones.
They add insult to fatal injury by heaping shame upon a suffering that had already proven to be too much to bear for someone.
These people somehow feel fine critiquing dead strangers, before they’ve even been buried.

I’ve come to realize that there is only one kind of person who says things like this about those who take their own lives: a person who has never been where Chester Bennington was in his final moments, or where Chris Cornell was, or where 121 people in the US are every single day—where many are in the seconds it takes for you to read these words. The people who say such things, are those who’ve never (because of mental illness or acute trauma or severe addiction), been pushed to the precipice of their very will to live. They are people who (fortunately for them) have the luxury of their ignorance, who’ve never walked through this unrivaled internal Hell and wanted nothing more than to get out.

Read the rest of John’s post here

And follow his amazing blog!

 

 

Sean Spicer is suffering from PTSD and that’s why he resigned.

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Sean Spicer has resigned as Press Secretary.  The reason he gives is because his boss Trump hired Anthony Scaramucci as his new Communications Director.

This video explains Spicer’s decision.  He feels that Scaramucci lacks experience (what else is new in this White House?) and Spicer would wind up doing two jobs for the price of one:

I guess this was the last straw for Spicer, who was obviously crumbling in his thankless role of having to lie for his boss all the time.   The job of Press Secretary is generally one of the easiest cabinet jobs, but in this White House, under this president, it’s probably one of the hardest.

Personally, I think Spicer was looking for a way out and this was the best opportunity for him to escape from his hellish role.       I don’t despise Spicer the way I despise 99.9% of Trump’s staff.    Sure, as a conservative, he accepted the position, but I don’t think he had any idea of what he was signing up for.    Every time I saw Spicer speak to the press, he seemed more angry, more defensive, and more nervous, even to the point where I was sure he was going to run from the podium in sheer panic.    He seemed to really hate his job, and I don’t think it’s because he hates the press.

But his boss does hate the press (most of them being the truth-tellers in this hot political mess), and undoubtedly instructed Spicer  to lie to them about what his intentions were and the things he was doing (and I’ll even speculate he may have threatened him if he didn’t lie).

In spite of his combative manner, Spicer doesn’t strike me as a bad or immoral person. He strikes me as someone suffering from a bad case of PTSD.   In other words, he’s a victim of narcissistic abuse under the most malignantly narcissistic, sociopathic president this country has ever seen.   PTSD often manifests as anger and defensiveness.  What gives him away is his jitteriness and what often appears to be terror in his eyes.   He carries himself around like a whipped dog.    We all remember when Spicer hid in the bushes to avoid having to speak to the press.   It was farcical, but also a sad indication of a man completely unsuited to be doing this type of dirty work for a blackhearted boss.

There was also some evidence that the vulnerable Spicer was in a scapegoat role in Trump’s cabinet.   White House Chief of Staff Steve Bannon said the reason Spicer was appearing less in public (replaced by the insufferable Sarah Huckabee Sanders) was because he was “getting too fat.”  I think that was a lie and smear tactic.  Bannon ought to look in the mirror at his own bloated, unhealthy-looking body before he fat-shames someone else.

I rather like Spicer.  Or more accurately, I feel sorry for him.  He seemed to crumble more by the day and lose his composure easily.  Imagine standing in front of reporters from major newspapers, TV news stations, and other news outlets, most of them hostile to this president, having to field their pointed questions that flew at him like bullets.  Imagine having to answer these questions with grace and intelligence, without losing your cool or sounding like you’re lying your face off.

Spicer tried, but he couldn’t do it.  That’s because I don’t think he’s like the rest of them.   I think he still has some semblance of a conscience and sense of right and wrong.  I don’t have any proof of this, but I sense it from him.   He knew he was lying for a boss who is trying his damndest to be dictator-in-chief and dismantle democracy, and he hated it.   He couldn’t deal with it anymore; if he continued doing it, I think he knew he would be spiritually destroyed.    That’s the danger in not breaking away from a malignant narcissist like Donald Trump and the cabal of flying monkeys and enablers he has surrounded himself with.    Spicer had to go “no contact” with his boss before he lost his own soul.

I also think Spicer knows a lot he’s not saying — yet.   But I think he will, when the dust settles.     I’m waiting for his tell-all book.

I just saw a clip of him on the news leaving the White House, and he was smiling like a man who just won the lottery.    It’s the first time I ever saw him look happy.

 

The Children of Manchester

A sad day for the world…sending thoughts and prayers to the families, friends and victims of this appalling attack.

The Tony Burgess Blog

The children of Manchester are wondering why, like all of us. A rising pop princess puts on a concert designed to bring people together and to sing for her generation suddenly is thrown into the chaos brought about by hate and terror.

All of a sudden the children of Manchester are a little less safe than they once where and the same could be said for the Children of Chattanooga. Now is a time to keep calm and to blame those who did this and not those who by ethnic and genetics are connected to them. We must seek justice for those kids and the others who died on May 22, 2017 but not at the price of the souls of England or elsewhere where terror has wreaked its ugly head. Perhaps we should look inward too as to what we can do to calm our own communities so things…

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17 ways you know you’ve become a news junkie.

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It sure seems a lot longer than four and a half months since Obama was president, doesn’t it? Like maybe a whole decade or twenty or even a hundred years ago.   With so much insanity bombarding us every day that has dire implications on our lives and those of the people we love,  it’s easy to feel like a Bobblehead toy that keeps getting sucker-punched by hard, cold reality.  These days, you might get trolled for even believing reality is real.   I think for many of us, staying glued to the news is the only way we feel like we stay connected to what’s real (even if that reassuring feeling of groundedness is just an illusion) .

Our favorite pundits and news anchors and commentators are the heroes we look up to for some idea of what unspeakable dangers might be coming down the pike.  You just never know anymore.   Things really could get THAT BAD.   Conspiracy theories don’t exist anymore because they’re our new reality.    Hyperbole is dead.     Anything that you can imagine, no matter how unimaginable, very probably will happen — and we’d better be ready for it when it does.   History itself seems like it’s become oddly pliable like wet clay and might even dissolve completely if we don’t stay constantly plugged in.   Let go of that lifeline for one minute or one day or a week, pretend like it’s the old days when you pretty much ignored current events and didn’t know (or care) what the difference was between a filibuster and a gerrymander, and you might fall into a bottomless void where reality doesn’t exist anymore and then it’s all over for you.

So, after fifty plus decades of not really giving a damn about current events or politics and being only intermittently and mildly interested during important historical moments such as Watergate, the Challenger Explosion, 9/11, the housing crisis, or even the OJ Simpson trial,  I’ve become a news junkie.    In fact, it’s reached the level of an obsession (I am an obsessive sort of person anyway).   I soon realized I wasn’t alone.  Suddenly, we’re a nation of amateur pundits and political commentators.    While we may annoy or disturb those few folks who are still blissfully oblivious and don’t follow the news,  one good thing can be said for this national obsession:  while we may have slept through high school civics class and had no inkling of how government worked before, now we can write entire dissertations about how government works — now that it no longer does.

So without further ado, here are 17 ways you can tell you’ve become hopelessly addicted to the news.

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1. Rachel Maddow (or Lawrence O’Donnell or Chris Hayes) is your latest crush.

2.  You feel like the talking heads on TV are your friends.

3.  You keep checking your phone during the day for new tweets or Facebook posts about the latest debacle being unleashed from the White House.

4.  The President gives you that same wary, uncertain, triggered feeling that your ex did, and you have to keep checking to make sure he hasn’t taken away your healthcare or started World War III yet.

5.  You check for new tweets during your bathroom break.   All the President’s most outrageous tweets (which is most of them) are like cigarette burns in your memory.

6.  You scream profanities at the TV every night.

7.  You obsessively Like and share every article you find about the most current abomination or opinions that fit yours pertaining to said abomination.

8.  If you have a blog, all your posts start to be opinion pieces about the political situation.   At first you try to make them fit the theme of your blog somehow, but after awhile you don’t even bother with that anymore.

9.  You can’t tell the difference between a Saturday Night Live sketch and whatever political debacle the sketch is parodying, because reality has become as insane as anything a comedy show can come up with.  Real headlines are indistinguishable from headlines in The Onion.

10.  You wrote a song and called it “A Comey in the Curtains is Worth Two Spicers in the Bush.”

11.  You look at strangers and in your mind, decide if they are Trump, Bernie, or Hillary supporters — and judge them for it.   Or if someone is a jerk to you, you label them as a fan of whatever politician you hate the most and judge them even more harshly than you would have because of course, only a total jerk who supports X could do such a nasty thing.

12.  You actually care about what happens to the people employed by the FBI

13.  You find James Comey sort of sexy.

14.   You let off steam by troll-tweeting Trump even though you know he’ll never see them.

15.  You spend time reading comments on Breitbart News to try to understand how the other side feels — and you just can’t.

16.  You finally decided to subscribe to the New York Times because certain people think it’s failing (even though you know it isn’t).

17.  You have hours-long conversations debating whether it’s MSNBC or CNN that’s veering into Fox News territory.

If you can stand to tear yourself away,  I highly recommend taking vacations from the news and having news-free days just doing things that make you feel good.   Your sanity depends on it.   Chances are, taking a break won’t be fatal.  World War III probably won’t start while you’re watering your petunias or reading a spy novel on the beach.  And if it does, you’ll probably never know it hit you because you’ll already be dead.  It’s not as if you could really do anything about it anyway.