Hemorrhaging the Moral High Ground

I have actively tried to keep this blog away from political posts for the last several months, but today I want to talk about something political.  Something that I think does need to be discussed.

While it is in the news everyday that there are major party problems on the right with Republicans, it seems to me the left is facing a similar (smaller-scale) crisis.  The problem that we’re facing is the what the party is in the eyes of everyday people supporting it, and those of power within it.  It’s two different perceptions that are causing a rift.

Milo Yiannopolous last week in an interview, talked about how Kevin Spacey’s “coming out” amidst allegations of being a sexual predator, and he said that Spacey used his homosexuality to become “untouchable” and part of a “victim class,” which liberals will not attack. I think Milo is right (I should note that I’m aware he’s made some really controversial statements in the past and carries with him a whole bunch of specific connotation, but still I think on this he’s right).  I don’t think that liberals seem to have fallen for the bait, but clearly that’s what Spacey was hoping to do.

Last month, when all of the Harvey Weinstein news was breaking, there were reports that Weinstein explained that he was going to use his money to go after the NRA, in a sort of ploy to not face the consequences with the liberals holding much of his ‘fate’ in their hands.  Again, fortunately, it seems as if they didn’t take his bait.

The fact liberals (I don’t want to say Democrats as that’s a party and more of an identity and not necessarily in line with what these people might consider themselves) aren’t taking the bait, is a good sign.  Unfortunately, it’s clear that there is some reason why they feel there is a possibility of these tactics working, and if it weren’t for a preponderance of claims, I’m not sure their diversions would not have worked.  People have continued to work with Roman Polanski despite being a convicted rapist, and Woody Allen despite allegations that don’t seem unfounded, so I think there is some reason to think “hey if I say this buzzword/phrase this will blow over.”

After those two incidents, comes the Donna Brazile story, about how the Hilary Clinton campaign overstepped what she considers the ethical bounds when it comes to the DNC, and how they were basically allowed to take over the party early in exchange for financial solvency.  I think some of Brazile’s story seems logical and honest, although I am suspicious of her own complacency at the time, and whether or not coming out with this now is a way of distancing herself.

So the DNC didn’t operate as they were supposed to based on their own guidelines and rules (technically if they so chose they could have changed the rules to nominate anyone they wanted, but in doing so risk alienating the base).  The DNC went along in order to ensure financial stability, and many of the American people went along because they wanted to defeat “the boogie man.”  Hilary, and the party thought they knew what was best for us, and decided that she was the anointed one sent down from on high to defeat Donald Trump, and well, we know how that ended.

The problem was, they assumed they’d know how we thought, and even worse, they tried to make us think that way when many of us told them we didn’t.  The Democratic party in many ways this past election cycle neglected democracy, and unfortunately lost itself in the process.

You may think that this is justified that “well Trump is the boogie man,” but perhaps you should consider that when thinking about people who didn’t Trump but voted to keep Clinton out of office.  This was a tale of two “boogie people” and while each side thinks the other is obviously worse, we need to stop judging each other on these ideas, and start realizing that ultimately we’re the ones who suffer.

I know that to some extent, Spacey and Weinstein seem far removed from Clinton and the DNC, but the cause is the same.  These people did what they wanted, gave some feeble attempt at manipulating us into accepting those actions, and ended up losing what they saw as preordained.  Will this slap in the face teach anyone in power any real lesson so they become better?  I’m personally not sure it will.

I am a Fucking Coward

Most of us like to think we would be the hero in a crisis, we think we would be the person to stand up to a bank robber, or to risk our own lives for the sake of our families or the greater good.  Most people never are faced with a choice like that, and those who are often don’t act the way they hoped.

Today, not in the face of anything that personal, but something I believe to be as important, I found out that I am not a hero, I’m not even an ordinary man willing and able to do the very bare minimum.  I’m a coward.

Over the last several years, there have been protests that I’ve believed in, but I was able to justify not attending because it was always ten or not hours away.  I lived in Massachusetts, so when the protests were going on in Ferguson, it was easy to justify not going because it was too far.

Now I live in North Carolina, and so I’m closer to where a lot of the protests are happening.  Today, in Charlottesville Virgina (which is only about three hours away from me) the Klan, Neo-Nazi and an other white supremacy groups were organizing a rally in a park called Emancipation Park.

I should be going to counter protest, to lend my body to the ranks of people trying to show they have more support than the literal haters.  But I haven’t gone, and I’m not likely to go.  The reason for my absence isn’t moral ambiguity, or lack of time, instead it’s fear.  The truth is, if there are beatings, or pepper spraying, or God forbid worse violence, I’m scared of the personal impact.

All day today, the more I have heard about this ongoing event, the more I have been overcome by guilt and shame.  I cannot think of any argument that I have been more clear on in my head, and yet my convictions aren’t enough motivation to go stand for what is right.

It may seem less obvious to many of you, but to me, it seems today’s events are a clear movement in a worse direction.  There has been a lot of talk about the ’emboldening’ of racists in this country over the last two years, but this is coupled with a federal government unable to accomplish anything, and talking now about possibly suspending the 2020 elections due to illegal immigrants voting.

I’m terrified and ashamed.  Edmund Burke said “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  I think right now to do nothing is disqualifying from being ‘good,’ and I have done nothing, and make no mistake I do not kid myself for one second that this post or Facebook memes are doing something.  Something real must be done, by everyone possible.

My intention in writing this, is that maybe I will be told about something I can do that I will be brace enough to do, or at the very least to shame myself enough to act.

Trump’s Long Game, and: How It Will Benefit the Whole Planet

(This piece was an op-ed story I wrote for a website that felt it wasn’t right for their website, but I still think the points I make are valid.  Let me know what you think.)

What would you say, if I told you that world peace was within your grasp?  You have to admit it, that sounds pretty good doesn’t it?  Well, it can be a reality.  In order to achieve world peace—pretty much making the dreams of every pageant contest come true— all we have to do, and it is pretty simple, is let Donald Trump continue to be President.

You’re skeptical right?  Hear me out.  We cannot impeach him, and in 2020 we need to reelect, President Trump.

He hasn’t even been President for 150 days yet, and people are freaking out.  That’s because you’re all short-term thinkers, but President Trump is basically a Chess Grandmaster (or as he pronounces it ‘Grand Wizard’) because he’s playing the long game, and he’s so many moves ahead. That’s why he’s able to fire off tweets at 3 A.M. so deftly, because he’s planning ahead. If President Trump is unencumbered for the next seven and a half years, he is going to give us the best world peace that money can buy.

Do I finally have you on board with the premise?  Now you want to know how right?

Keeping Trump as President is going to continue to piss off pretty much everyone, there’s not stopping that. What we need him to do is lean into it even harder.  As he’s pissing off literally every person and nation, North Korea is testing nukes, and working on how to get them to the US.  Meanwhile, Trump keeps things going with ISIS, and giving bills to Germany, and frenemy-ing Russia, keeping those pots at a nice simmer.  Finally North Korea manages to nuke Guam—this may be pretty soon— and that’s when Trump’s plan takes effect.  After the first conflict nuke is launched, Trump goes responds in typical Trump fashion with the biggest greatest nukes. 

Now we’re in full blown nuclear war, and you’re thinking “what about mutually assured destruction?”  Well, in order to make this world peace omelet, President Trump is prepared to crack all of the eggs—other than those of him and his family, who are now all White House Staff members (except for Eric and the second girl one) who get to go into the underground bunkers with them.

When the radioactive dust settles, there in the midst of a barren wasteland will be world peace.  Trump will emerge (years of over tanning have made him impervious to radiation) and declare that the Earth shall be renamed Trump World.

Is the plan perfect?  No, but the goal will be accomplished.  It’s all outlined in the Art of the Deal, people just didn’t bother to look for President Trump’s subtext.

Trans Bathroom Politics Examined

So, today bathrooms became a key piece of political discussion—again—as the Trump Administration repealed some of the protection guidelines that the Obama Administration had put in place for the Trans community in regards to public restrooms.  I should mention that I am a white cis-gendered male, and so that is where my particular opinion is coming from on this issue.

As I said, I am cis-gendered (meaning that I identify with my birth gender), and therefore have not had much insight into the needs and struggles of the Trans community.  I also have very limited insight into women’s restrooms, as I only remember going in them a few times when I was pretty young, and was out with just my mother.  So please take all of that information into account when weighing the merit of my opinions.

I understand the desire to have privacy from another gender when using the restroom.  Personally, I want privacy from the same gender, the opposite gender, trans gender, and really everyone else.  When using the restroom, I don’t want to share that experience with anyone.  So in this sense, I get why people are uncomfortable—however, our public restroom system that we still use (for men the urinal/stall combo, for women… I assume just a stall system) doesn’t really afford us any privacy.  The system is flawed, but keeping groups of people away (rather than having individualized bathrooms which is the best option) doesn’t solve the problem.  Opponents of trans men and women using their identifying gender’s restroom want to cite protecting women and children, even though there has been no statistical evidence, of any problem based on gender identity.

This argument breaks down—as far as I can see— for three distinct reasons.  First is the statistical evidence I mentioned before.  There isn’t any evidence to suggest that trans men and women are more likely to commit violence.  The second reason, is what we saw last year when this issue was raised, in which you have people identifying as men, who look like men, who may have to use a female bathroom (and vice versa) which in itself can create two distinct problems, one that it makes the people who ‘wanted everyone in their birth gender bathroom’ uncomfortable because honestly they’re the ones most likely to take issue, and second that it endangers the trans people by exposing them to potentially bigoted people.

Now, the third reason that I think this argument breaks down, is more inherent of people’s understanding of what it is to be trans gendered.  There is a lot of confusion, and this is both with the prejudiced and those trying to be allies.  There seems to be a lot of confusion between gender and orientation, which based on how our society has expressed the two for the past several hundred years makes sense.  We have come to associate masculinity and being manly with heterosexuality in men, and femininity with being a women.  We have difficulty when someone does something that doesn’t fall into those rigid gender roles accepting that they may still be heterosexual.  When you think more specifically about some of the things we’ve correlated within that dynamic, it can seem absurd.  Why does drinking beer, or loving sports, or cars get associated with gender dynamics?  And more importantly what do those things have to do with orientation.  The truth is they don’t really have anything to do with each other, but we have been raised in a largely binary society, and so we conflate these concepts.  This binary mode of thinking is what leads us to think that different is bad, and ‘normal’ or common or accepted or whatever best describes what used to be the status quo is good.  There isn’t much difference between this type of thinking and the old thinking that a tattooed person is more likely to be amoral or criminal, but somehow our brains have been wired to see different, and standing out as inherently negative despite the evidence.

Most of us, even those of us who are white, straight, cisgender know what it feels like—to some extent—to be ostracized or mistreated, and if we can keep that in mind, and start seeing whatever way we were made to feel ‘less than,’ perhaps we won’t have to be dealing with this issue in ANOTHER year.

My Thoughts on the Possibility of States Seceding from the US

First I should start off by stating, that this isn’t for Trump supporters, so while you are welcome to read, I doubt many if any of you are thinking about/hoping for your state to secede.   Secondly, these are just things I want people to consider before voting for secession.

Alright, so it’s been almost two weeks since President Trump was inaugurated, and I’ve heard talk of states seceding from the Union.  I heard that California has put the issue on the ballot for 2018—Calexit as I’ve heard it being called— and that Washington state is considering it as well.  I should mention, that I’m not sure of the legal process or possibility of success.

I get the urge.  I understand the idea of ‘hey we don’t want this guy, and we feel that democracy of this country doesn’t work because of the electoral college system, and so we’re just not going to play.’  Many of us feel the frustration.  I’m just not sure this is the solution.

The first big problem that I see—if California leaves the Union— is that the rest of the United States becomes significantly more likely to have Trump as a two term President.  California was one of the states going to Hillary in this election, and they have 55 Electoral College votes, more than double of all but 3 other states.  Yes Hillary lost, but it was relatively close, and without California it would have been a landslide.  Also it would probably shift the popular vote in his favor as well.

So you’re probably thinking ‘but if I’m in California as a separate nation it doesn’t matter to me if Trump is President for another 4 years.’  The President of the United States affects everyone, clearly this election has shown us that the rest of the world cares and worries.

Here is the second reason I think there will be a problem if you try to secede (and I’m not just picking on California it applied to all 50 of us).  If you secede, the United States isn’t going to just let you go, this could be the start of a second Civil War (or Revolution depending on the victor).  With all of the issues, and all of the uncertainty facing the world, and the country a war on American soil, let alone a war between states would be worsen anxieties and raise uncertainty.

I think that the Civil War concept is less likely to be a full blown war, because I really don’t see an individual state being able to stand up to the might of the US government, and I think it would be over before it began, but do we even want that?

If all 50 states stay, things are a little uncertain, but we’re almost evenly balanced between liberals and conservatives, and we tend to have one then the other representing us like a pendulum, and I think that Trump feels like that pendulum has swung too far, but it will return, but it can’t do that if we don’t stick together.

Also, can you imagine how much longer the border wall will have to be if they decided to wall off California?  It would be impossible…