You Can’t Stop Progress

 

As I said in my last post there are many words that can be used to describe my political views: democrat, liberal, snowflake, libtard, loon, nitwit and hack. Personally, I like to think of myself as a progressive. I’m for progress. Things are going to change and I don’t see much reason to stop them.

One of the weirdest things I hear people complain about (and put on billboards) is the “war on coal.” It seems strange to me. Did people cause as much of a ruckus when cars became available? Was there a war on the horse and buggy? What about canals or railroads? Did the interstate highway system wage war on them?

I’m old enough to remember DVDs never waged war on VHS tapes. The internet never took up arms against libraries. Cellphones weren’t demonized by long distance telephone services. Vinyl records, cassette tapes, 8 tracks and CDs all moved aside peacefully when the newest technology came along.

My biggest question is who would want to be a coal miner’s daughter? That’s not a job I’ve ever heard glamorized. It’s dirty, dark and dangerous. There are cave-ins and black lung. I can’t say getting into the coal industry is something I would want my children to do even if it wasn’t a dying industry.

Even neglecting environmental or health concerns the future seems to be in renewable energy. General Electric recently announced plans to restructure their operation and focus on renewables because they weren’t making enough money with older technologies. Elon Musk is making batteries to store the energy harnessed from wind and sun in a way to compete with power plants. Clean energy employs five times more people than the fossil fuel industry with some worrying about negative ripple effects if those jobs were to disappear.

It also says something that President Trump and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry are struggling to bail out the coal industry. Fossil fuels are already on track to become fossils themselves. It sucks to lose a tradition, but this may be the best way for us to regain our energy independence.

So why all this hubbub to bring back coal? Just like with the military-industrial complex, healthcare and reality TV many very rich people stand to lose a lot of money if it goes under. It’s not about putting miners back to work; if you want to put miners back to work focus on retraining. It’s a war to make lobbyists and political contributors happy. They want to earn on their investments. 

It’s disheartening that the United States pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord. I think we could have been a great leader. It’s nice to see states standing up and following through without the federal government, but it would have been nicer to have all of the states united.

Was there this much confusion about the hole in the Ozone Layer? I’m too young to remember if there were questions over the science or doubts about whether or not it posed a threat. Was it like climate change? I’ve always heard that the global community came together, banned the harmful chemicals and solved the problem together.

Is that true? It’s pretty hard to imagine in this day and age.

I also think about the reaction to the destruction of the rainforest. I’m not sure if that had any direct government interaction. From what I understand people began boycotting companies that supported the practice. The best way to get corporations to listen is to hit them in the wallet.

There are so many more hot-button issues that people are arguing about today. LGBT rights, racial discrimination and immigration to name a few. But I think someday these issues will be looked upon the same way as woman’s suffrage, Jim Crow and slavery. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

What should we do? We’re already doing it. Just wait. It’ll happen

Let Us All Unite!

 

It’s depressing how divided my country has become. I look around and see more than just two different political views; I see two different realities. I’m not just living in a different country than those I disagree with; I’m in a different universe.

Has it ever been this bad before? Was it this bad during the Vietnam War? The Cold War? The Civil War? The Revolutionary War? I don’t like the fact that when I think of periods with intense division they are all periods of ‘war.’

A few months ago I did something I thought was really cool. I had to fill out a form to take a hearing test and it asked for my nationality. After thinking for a few minutes I put down what I felt was most appropriate: American. Sure, my ancestors came from western European countries, but that’s been over a hundred years ago and I never met any of them. It doesn’t make sense to say I’m ‘Irish’ or ‘English’ or ‘German.’

For better or worse I’m an American.

But now is a strange time to be an American. I don’t feel that I need to add a pronoun to say I’m European American. It’s only somewhat important at the moment whether someone is African American or Asian American.

What people care about is that I’m a Liberal American. An American Democrat. A Progressive American.

I have a part-time job writing for a local newsweekly. I try to focus on local politics in the area. I usually do a preview of county elections and I’ve covered the Mayor’s State of the City. It’s important stuff that doesn’t always end up in our local daily paper.

Something I notice about local politics as opposed to state or national level politics is that the D and R behind people’s names don’t matter quite as much. I can safely assume someone’s views and priorities by that letter, but it doesn’t define them to the point where I feel they’re an enemy. I know what talking points I’ll probably get during an interview, but they don’t seem like boogeymen in a lightly colored mansion hundreds of miles away.

Maybe that’s because the mayor is more likely to be my neighbor. A city councilman could be my waiter. If I want to say something to a county commissioner I can pick up the phone and dial the number. These aren’t people that are far away who I can easily dehumanize.

Maybe at the local level it’s just easier to remember that in spite of our differences we all want to make our community a great place to live.

It can be frustrating to browse Facebook anymore. A lot of the time I want to get into arguments. I want to know why people hold their views. I want to know where they get their information.

But for the most part, people don’t want to share that sort of thing.

So my New Year’s Resolution is that the next time I see something I find completely ignorant I want to write a bitchy comment to on social media I’ll ask “how does this help anything?”

Seriously, how does bickering about whether Democrats want to raise your taxes or if Republicans want to allow corporations to run the country help anything? You’d think having cellphones that connect us with every newspaper on the planet would make us more informed, but it’s still just the same thirty-second sound bytes I’ve heard my whole life. Only now they’re memes.

A good example is the recent tax cut. I don’t understand how anyone making less than $75,000/year can be happy about it. I’ll see my taxes raised within four years at my income level. Everyone under that threshold will see an increase at some point in the next few years, but I have coworkers who make the same wages as I do who are tickled pink by this.

What’s even crazier is that sexual assault and foreign interference in an election have also become partisan issues.

And you know what? They’ve already won. We’re arguing about whether Obama or Trump is better while they pick out pockets.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s work together. Let’s bridge that gap.

Like anything else in this world, I may fail. But goddammit I’m going to try.

A Few More Thoughts on Current Political Developments

Oh shit

After last week Friday, it is impossible for anyone to deny that the Trump campaign administration tried to collude with Russia.

I’m not implying Donald Trump was personally involved or is directly to blame, I haven’t seen enough evidence to make that kind of judgment yet, but I do have something I think everyone should consider.

Trump either knew his campaign chairman National Security Advisor was up to some shady business that could possibly lead to a number of charges, and either didn’t care or thought he could get away with it…

Or he had no idea Paul Manafort Michael Flynn lied to the FBI.

I’m not sure which is worse. That he knowingly hired someone who would engage in unethical behavior or that he would hire someone without knowing enough about them to be certain they wouldn’t engage in such unethical behavior.

Either way, is this the kind of guy we want having input on how we manage our tax code? For all we know he might be embezzling our taxes and social security to gild the White House and have prostitutes pee on the Obama’s old bed.

High School Dropout Thoroughly Convinced He Is Smarter Than Harvard Professor

Gadsden, AL – Robert Hodge, a busboy/dishwasher at a Denny’s in Northeastern Alabama, took to Twitter today to call former Harvard Professor and current Senator Elizabeth Warren a “stupid fucking libtard cunt that’s should get a refund on her JD degree.”

“Yeah, I let that liberal Liawatha bitch have it,” said Hodge during a smoke break during the dinner rush. “I’m just so sick of these people with educations and degrees acting like they know it all. It’s just a piece of paper ya know?”

He also took to both Twitter and Facebook to call Democrat candidates things such “DemoRats,” “Feminazis” and “Snowflakes.” He has managed to troll many opponents of current Senatorial Candidate Roy Moore by calling them “Blue-Pilled Sheeple.”

“All these coastal elites think they’re so smart,” he said. “But it’s just that they’re so brainwashed by the mainstream media. I get my news from the real media. I watch and read stuff from Breitbart, Fox News, and Infowars. Those are the only sources telling people the truth!”

Despite never attaining at High School Diploma or GED, Hodge is completely convinced he could do a better job running the country than some of our  former leaders.

“Barack Obama was nothing but a lazy, stupid ni- black guy,” he said. “Well, I shouldn’t say that. He was pretty smart for a black guy, but he’s still dumb compared to me.”

“I’m just glad we finally got a president with some sense. One who’s going to lower taxes, ban Muslims and execute queers.”

When it was pointed out that President Trump hasn’t been able to do any of these things despite his party controlling all three branches of the federal government, he shouted “Fake News” before reentering the Denny’s to clean up chocolate milk spilled by a toddler.

A Few Thoughts on Current Political Developments

Oh Shit

After last week it is nearly impossible for anyone to deny that the Trump campaign tried to collude with Russia in swaying the election.

I’m not implying Donald Trump was personally involved or is directly to blame, I haven’t seen enough evidence to make that kind of judgment yet, but I do have something I think everyone should consider.

Trump either knew his campaign chairman was up to some shady business that could possibly lead to a number of charges, and either didn’t care or thought he could get away with it…

Or he had no idea Paul Manafort could be indicted on counts of conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

I’m not sure which is worse. That he knowingly hired people who would engage in such unethical behavior or that he would hire someone without knowing enough about them to be certain they wouldn’t engage in such unethical behavior.

Either way, is this the kind of guy we want making lifetime judicial appointments? For all we know Neil Gorsuch could be a Russian spy, a Filipino prostitute, a transgendered person or even Ruth Bader Ginsberg in disguise!

Patriotism

Everyone keeps talking about patriotism as if it’s a basic need like air or water or a basic emotion that should have been portrayed in Inside Out.

But patriotism isn’t an emotion. It’s not an instilled value or a feeling of pride in one’s homeland.  Patriotism is a product; like computer chips and tampons.

Patriotism is a way for mediocre companies to get you to buy gaudy t-shirts, buttons and bumper stickers. And then wrap yourself up in a flag and pretend it’s fashionable. It’s the reason a two-hour Navy commercial called American Sniper was nominated for an Oscar. It’s the reason people buy watered-down hard rock from a band called 5 Finger Death Punch.

Patriotism is a way to get people to vote for something they might not agree with by saying it’s for ‘the good of the country.’ Or to get people to suffer some unnecessarily because their country requires it. Or to kill some poor sap who never did anything wrong but feel patriotism for a different country.

It’s a way for people who never contribute anything to society to feel good about themselves. Patriotism is a way to make people who were born in one area feel like they’re superior to people born in another area.

Patriotism is all of this and more. Available for only $19.95

 

Trump Blames Obama for Hurricanes, Wildfires and Drought

Palm Beach, FL – President Trump held a press conference yesterday amid the blowing winds of Hurricane Irma where he blamed his predecessor for multiple natural disasters facing the U.S.

“Look at this crowd, this is a great crowd,” he told the hundred-some people gathered in a shelter to escape the rains and winds outside. “This is a bigger crowd than Obama ever got for a photo op in a disaster area, but the lying media won’t tell you that.”

Trump then lashed out at ‘fake news’ outlets for about twenty minutes. He told the crowd that they could believe anything positive that was written about him in the press, but that any criticism was ‘fake news.’

He then made the statement that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were part of a deep state conspiracy to try and undermine his presidency.

“You know,” he said. “There are a lot of Obama appointees still working at the National Hurricane Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. After all  that I’ve been through with my microwave being tapped and this fake Russian witch hunt it wouldn’t surprise me if some bureaucrats cooked up these storms to try to make me look bad.”

(From the Wisconsin State Journal, Madison.com)

He then stated that wildfires in the American West were started by Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails, droughts in the Dakotas were started by Bernie Sanders and a giant fan, and his high cholesterol is the responsibility of former Commissioner of Food and Drugs Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.

“Everything is a conspiracy. Don’t trust anyone! Except me. You can trust me. I’ll sell you the best car. It’ll be the best used car you’ve ever had. Definitely not a lemon. You’ll get tired of how not a lemon this car is.”

The president continued to speak for about an hour and a half and never seemed to notice the water seeping into the building and rising. Threatening to engulf him and his entire administration.

So Confused

Am I the only person who gets confused when I hear about Donald Trump sticking up for Christian values?

I’m really starting to worry that I bought a fake bible. Or maybe I just really fucking misunderstood the one I bought. I didn’t read it in the original Hebrew or Aramaic so maybe something was lost in translation. But you’d think the big points would carry over. You don’t figure there would be this much debate.

“A sex scandal led to his resignation from the ministry. Subsequent revelations of accounting fraud brought about his imprisonment and divorce. He later remarried and returned to televangelism.” -Wikipedia

I guess conservative Christians are saying a Trump impeachment will spark a second American Civil War. And a bunch of churches got together to write something called the Nashville Statement that is just some sort of anti-gay manifesto.

I know there’s a lot of war, smiting and other unpleasantness in the bible (Including homophobia, spousal abuse, incest and absolutely NO eating of pork), but I thought the general message was supposed to be “Love your neighbor as yourself.“*

I believe it was Haruki Murakami that wrote “Either I’m funny or the world’s funny. I don’t know which. The bottle and lid don’t fit. It could be the bottle’s fault or the lid’s fault. In either case, there’s no denying that the fit is bad.” Something is definitely not fitting with what I learned about Christianity versus how the Christian world is acting.

Can we just start using the term “so-called” in front of terms like “Conservative Christians,” “Televangelists” and “Religious Right.”

Murakami also said, “It seemed to me that this world has a serious shortage of both logic and kindness.” **

Current political rumblings have me in agreement.

 

 

 

 

*Mark 12:31

** Both are from his great novel 1Q84

 

Unite or Die

I was really excited a few weeks ago when the Trump Administration announced “Infrastructure Week.” I thought, “Great, here’s something everyone can agree on. Republicans and Democrats can work together on a plan to get our roads, bridges, and utilities up to snuff.” Of course, that’s not what happened. 

 

It’s really sad that every issue in this country is now political. You would think there would be a few things we could all agree on. We’re all Americans right? We all want to make our country a great place for ourselves and our children right? So why is it that we cannot work together to solve these problems like adults. I think bipartisanship would help us to make a better world if we could just find some common ground.

 

I have absolutely no evidence to back me up on this theory because I can’t remember the last time we had any bipartisan issues, but I’m going to stick with it until someone proves me wrong.

 

I really don’t understand the question of whether or not we should protect the environment. This seems like a no-brainer. Sure, profit and money are nice, but it doesn’t do a whole lot of good without air to breath or water to drink. We shouldn’t look at the EPA as the bringer of job killing regulation; we should look at it as an entity that challenges us to create jobs while protecting the environment. I don’t see why we can’t do both.

 

(Courtesy of Yes! Magazine)

I have to give props to my Republican Senator who has fought for the Great Lakes Restoration Fund to help clean up Lake Erie. He and many other senators resisted Trump and Obama’s efforts to cut funding to the program.

 

I can understand why there is some friction in the health care debate. This is where I’m reminded that Democrats are for working people and Republicans support big business. I just don’t understand why they can’t get together on a plan to make healthcare more affordable for everyone. I constantly read politicians say Obamacare is not working and we have to do something so we can make insurance more affordable while also fighting the current opioid epidemic, but then Mitch McConnell presents a bill that would do the exact opposite. This shouldn’t be about helping mega rich corporations make more profit, it should be about helping people.

 

And it doesn’t help a whole lot when the president is talking about “victims” of Obamacare. We’re all aware that the law hasn’t worked for everyone, but words matter. If you paint your predecessors biggest legislative accomplishment as something working to hurt people it doesn’t instill a lot of good will to unite people to work on a solution.

 

I’m glad I can say that both sides are starting to stand up to the Russian meddling that occurred during our last election. Many people don’t believe this (or simply don’t care), but unless you’re working for some sort of intelligence agency please don’t argue with me. It’s nice to see bills on Russian sanctions passing Congress with only a few brown nosers voting against them. It’s great to see the Senate working on a bill that would make it harder for President Trump to fire the man investigating him. I will say that it’s taken too long for everyone to get on the same page about this, but it’s great that we’ve all finally gotten there.

 

I just hope we can find some common ground on other issues. We all want to see America succeed and be great, we just disagree on the methods of getting there. But that’s no reason we can’t all come together. 

Words vs Actions

I’ve often heard ‘actions speak louder than words,’ but like with many other things in life I’m finding this does not extend to the world of politics. In politics it doesn’t matter much what you do so much as how you speak. If you aren’t able to accomplish your goals there are plenty of scapegoats, and then you can just go right back on your speaking tour.

 

I didn’t notice this until Donald Trump succeeded Barack Obama. The thing that really brought it to my attention was the way both men deal with terrorism and the ongoing Syrian conflict. From what I can tell, the only difference in their approaches is that while Obama would quietly execute drone strikes and remain low key about American involvement in the area, Trump is full of bluster and bombast about “extreme vetting” and “radical Islamic terrorism.”

 

From what I can tell Trump’s method of referring to ISIS as “radical Islamic terrorists” hasn’t been any more effective than the drone warfare conducted by the Obama administration. And I’m not sure where the idea that we are just letting refugees into our country like through a revolving door came from. They were already subject to extreme vetting. It would be ridiculous to not look into the background of people we invite into our country and I haven’t heard anyone say we shouldn’t be cautious. The only difference in the approaches has to do with the rhetoric, which now makes us seem like total assholes.

 

Something I’d like to see more from Republicans is pragmatism. Maybe I just haven’t come across bloggers and pundits with critical thinking skills, but it’s hard to take the Trump cheerleaders seriously. I couldn’t take Obama cheerleaders seriously. His expansion of drone warfare, the massive surveillance of the NSA and his avoidance of releasing documents under the Freedom of Information act were a few of his policies I didn’t completely agree with, but I don’t regret voting for him.

 

But Obama never went on television and lambasted the media, the intelligence community and anyone who disagreed with him. Most of his actions aligned with his words and any policies I disagree with he had good reasons for pursuing. Trump is actively seeking to destroy the working-class voters who put him in office. He’s championing a healthcare bill that will charge more for less coverage, rolling back environmental and labor protections and working on tax reform that I’m sure will disproportionately benefit the upper 1 percent.

 

The crazy thing is how many people still support him because of what he says. And will continue to support him no matter what he does.

 

It’s important to look at what politicians do, especially the ones we’re prone to agree with. We can all agree that Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information with her private email server. I’ll admit that was a massive mistake on her part though I supported her in the last election. However, it’s important to note I didn’t support the guy who appointed someone working for the Turkish government to the National Security Council.

 

Whose actions were more detrimental?