Tag Archives: trump

Paul Ryan

Dear John Boehner and Paul Ryan: Your country is calling

Will you answer?

I am not going to lie, I was never a big fan of either of you when you were in Congress. In fact, I wrote this about Mr. Ryan’s budget in 2013. The caveat to this is that while I didn’t agree with you, I didn’t ever think either of you was bat shit crazy. Neither of you was the “burn it all down and screw anyone who gets in your way” kind of person that is Newt Gingrich.

Both of you are in an interesting position. No one can really attack your conservative bona fides (though followers of Qanon will). Sane people respect you. If either of you come out against President Donald Trump, you will boost your reputations and give yourself a good platform to return to public life. You both will look like leaders who put the country before party. That’s powerful stuff right there.

Let’s recap some of Trump’s actions in 2019-2020:

Trump doesn’t care about protecting American soldiers

Trump did nothing when he learned Russian President Vladimir Putin has been paying the Taliban to kill American soldiers. Let that sink in for a minute. Rather than confront Putin, he tried to get Russia readmitted to the G-7. Trump has kissed Putin’s ring for the entire time he has been in the White House (and long before that). While Trump’s “excuse” has been that no one told him, reports say that he was briefed in early 2019. It is common knowledge by now that the Donald is not a big reader (he rares looks at the Presidential Daily Briefings he gets) but John Bolton told colleagues that the briefing was in person. One of the most serious jobs a president has is keeping Ameican troops safe. If there was a grade worse than F, he would get it here. That alone should be enough to denounce him but there’s more.

Trump’s response to Covid-19 killed Americans

Trump’s incompetence has killed tens of thousands of Americans. As of today, more than 130,000 Americans have been killed by Covid-19. No, Trump did not create the virus but he did fire the pandemic team that was part of the National Security Council. He also threw away the pandemic response plan that the Obama team left for him. If that wasn’t bad enough, he called the whole thing a “hoax” for two months. Today, you can see how that has impacted people as Trump supporters don’t wear masks and non-Trumpers do. This shouldn’t be a political thing. Now, other Republican leaders are telling people to wear masks. Some reports say that if we took this more seriously and actually did something sooner, between 80 to 90 percent of the people who died from Covid-19 would still be alive. Remember, he was warned about this in January 2020. Let that settle in.

Trump thinks racial tension = better chances to be reelected

Trump is stoking the flames of racial discord and division across the United States. Our nation is at a precarious point. Americans of all races have finally had enough of innocent black people being killed by police or vigilantes. As the nation comes to grips with its original sin of slavery, what does the president do? He goes on the offense.

First, he tried to use the U.S. military to break up peaceful protests in Washington, DC. When he was included in a photo op in front of the church on the other side of LaFayette park from the White House, General Mark. A Kelly, chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, apologize saying “I should not have been there. My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”

Now, he has been giving speeches defending Confederate heroes. First, he was at Mount Rushmore and then the White House. No one has ever claimed Trump is a constitutional or history scholar but this is just more proof that the only Ameican he cares about is himself.

That is just a summary of a few of the things he has done in 2019 and 2020. This list is not exhaustive or complete. If not caring about our soldiers in a war zone or people at home who are vulnerable to a deadly disease or thinking promoting a race war and thinking it is ok to use the most powerful military in the world to quell protests is not enough to make you see how dangerous Trump is to us and the world, I don’t think anything will.

Mr. Boeher and Mr. Ryan, we need your input

Mr. Boehner, from what I had read, you are pretty happy away from the spotlight. I am happy for you, truly. That also means you are not in a position to have to worry about reelection. What do you care if Trump tweets something mean? That may be what passes for a merit badge in 2020. You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. When the rest of the party catches up to you, which they will, you will look like a real leader.

And Mr. Ryan, you are too young to be out of the game for good. Your previous statements about Trump and how you felt after the Access Hollywood tape give you somewhat of a foundation. We need to find a way back to a place where the Republicans and Democrats can talk to each other again. This tribalism, into which we have devolved, helps no one. You know that. I know you do.

Help us, Mr. Boehner and Ryan. Your country needs you.

Here’s a song about another politician who had to make such a decision.

Why so angry, white people?

Last night, I went to a Black Lives Matter protest in Port Jefferson, New York. More than 300 people marched from the railroad station through the village and ended up in front of Village Hall. We stopped midway and all took a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds. It was a peaceful protest. People were respectful of each other and everyone had a mask on. No one seemed particularly angry.

When we reached the intersection of Main Street and West Broadway, there was a counter-protest. This was in front of a bank of shops where pro-Trump banners often hang and where a pro-Trump rally was held a few months ago. None of the counter-protesters were wearing masks. They were waiving pro-Trump flags and playing Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” Being me, I approached them to let them know they were not playing the patriotic anthem they thought they were.

This went over about as I expected. One woman yelled at me, “The song says BORN IN THE USA, IS THAT NOT ENOUGH FOR YOU?” Well, no but that’s beside the point. The people supporting President Trump and opposing the #BLM protest were angry. Very angry. As I walked away they shouted, “Wake up! This is not about black lives! This is about anarchy! You are going to end up needing the police soon!” Their anger was visceral, raw. They are mad and they aren’t going to take it anymore.

The right turns to gaslighting

They are not alone. After Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by police in a Wendy’s parking lot, the place was torched by two white women. A self-proclaimed member of the Boogaloo Bois Steven Carillo killed a security guard in Oakland, California during a #BLM protest. Chevy McGee had a stockpile of weapons confiscated by Denver police. He has said he part of the “Boogaloo movement.”

If you are not familiar with the Boogaloo Bois, they are a right-wing extremist group that wants to usher in another civil war. They are angry and they are armed. They are also not alone. The Proud Boys and American Guard are two other right-wing extremist groups who promote armed conflict and violence.

Meanwhile, in the ultimate case of gaslighting, right-wing groups perpetrate violence and looting and then blame it on the left. Both President Trump and Attorney General William Barr have blamed Antifa (anti-fascist) groups for violent acts even when the FBI has found no such link. Anecdotally, I know people who have expressed sympathy if not full-throated support for the Proud Boys. The people I know are beyond angry. They love Trump because he expresses the same anger they feel. They look around and are angry that white, straight men are no longer the only ones with any control over things. Thousands of years of having power over everyone else just wasn’t enough.

Black anger makes sense

I get black anger. I do. Think about it, if you haven’t already. Africans were pulled from their homes and brought to the New World in the worst conditions. By some estimates, two million died making the crossing.

This is a diagram of a slave ship.

Once they arrived, they were property. This original sin of the United States went on for hundreds of years. Then African-Americans were forced to endure Jim Crow laws, segregation and lynchings. Today, in addition to the brutality they experience at the hands of police and others, we incarcerate more black people than anyone else. The sentences given to African-Americans are much harsher. Dylan Roof killed nine people in a church in South Carolina. He was not killed, he was arrested.

This video is a must-watch if you care about racial justice

Tamir Rice. Brionna Taylor. Amadou Diallo. Bothan Jean. Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Michael Brown. Ahmed Arbery. We know these names because of how they were killed. One of the speakers last night said she was scared of becoming a name on a list. If I thought sleeping in my bed, eating ice cream on my couch, playing in a playground, walking down the street, going to the store and other normal activities could wind up with me dead, I would be angry all of the time.

But people on the side of Black Lives Matter are not plotting against the government and stockpiling weapons. People on the right stockpile weapons. People on the left stockpile books.

Today is Juneteenth. This should be a national holiday. To the people who think, but I’m not racist, all white people have benefited from white privilege. It took me a long time to see how I benefited because my life has not been what people think it is. It is now up to us to move the country past racism and deliver on the promises of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

Me and the #MeToo movement

I would like to think that my opinion about the #MeToo movement is barely solely on the fact that I don’t think anyone should be assaulted or abused. I would like to think that my experience with the matter has nothing to do with how I feel. That would be dishonest.

This is a post that I have been trying to write for the longest time. I have had the hardest time organizing my thoughts. This may not be the most succinct way to do this but I am going to give my experiences and then what I think. This is not to engender sympathy. The time is long past for that.

I am one of the four and more

My mother and I took a trip through Mexico by train after I graduated high school. I was sleeping and woke up because I felt something hot on the inside of my thigh. High up. The man next to me had his hand under my skirt and almost to my panties. I whipped my leg away and gave him a look that said, “Back the fuck off.” This was the first time that the real estate that is my body needed to be guarded.

When I was in college, the stat was that one in four female undergrads would be raped at some point. It happened to me when I was 18. It was a friend of a friend. When I cried, the guys (there were two) said they were “sorry.” “We didn’t mean to make you cry.” When I talked to the police, they told me not to report this because “it will only ruin your life.”

When I entered the workforce, I asked a man I worked with (well, he was a staffer and I was an intern but in a different department) for advice about finding a job. We met after work. He was married, I assumed this was just to talk about job stuff. I was wrong. He hit on me and I rebuffed him. We never talked again. Yeah, I was young and naive.

At one job, I looked over at my boss in the cube next to mine and he was looking at porn. Not only that but he had downloaded a trove of it to the network. He and his boss would walk through with their male friends and point out which women they wanted to screw. I complained. Later that year, I left the company for totally other reasons.

These are a few of my experiences. Not all, by any means. Not all the times I have been looked over, talked to as if my being female made me less likely to understand things (at a meeting about increased security at my college campus, one university staffer asked how a woman could be helpful with such matters), or just subjected to unwanted touching. Whether or not it came from a sexual place, unwanted is unwanted.

The right to be believed is not absolute

This is obvious and everywhere. In my life, I have been raped, mugged, beaten, and almost killed. In each instance, I was told either to keep it to myself. I reported the last time I was beaten by my dad and the cops had the same attitude as when I was raped. When I was mugged, I had to practically beg the cop to take my report. This experience has led to me to believe people when they say they have been assaulted.

This could be the most random analogy I have ever made. In Heller vs DC, Justice Antonin Scalia found that while he supported Mr. Heller’s right to bears arms per the second amendment but, “The right protected by the Second Amendment is not absolute.”

People lie. People make mistakes. I have read that eyewitness testimony is often incredibly unreliable because memory is subjective and not set in stone. People deserve to be heard but when making allegations against someone about serious things like crimes committed, they need more than their word. There are few acts that I detest more than lying about being a victim of any crime. It makes it that much harder for real victims to be heard.

Last year, two acquaintances of mine had consensual sex. The problem was that she had a boyfriend who found out. To not ruin that relationship, she claimed she had been raped. It all worked out and she recanted but the damage to the man could have been substantial. I am grateful that the #MeToo movement happened but that does not give women carte balance to say whatever they want.

Nuance has left the building

This is all too true today. We have no taste for subtlety. That is unfortunate because when we treat all crimes as the same, we lose the ability to provide justice to anyone. When it comes to sexual assault, there seems to be no difference between a bad joke (Al Franken) and rape (Justice Brett Kavanaugh, I know it was an alleged rape, I will get to that). We also seem to have no appetite for forgiveness.

After I was raped, I helped start a women’s center on campus and we had support groups for survivors. One guy friend I had told me that rape was worse than murder. No, it’s not, I am not dead and that is a good thing. Each experience I had was very different and deserved a different response. I don’t think the guys who raped me deserved the same punishment as the guy who put his hand up my skirt. Looking at porn is not the same as expecting sex for help with a job search.

Moreover, if we are to really make progress with the #MeToo movement, we need to have some forgiveness. If the only response to an admission of wrongdoing is expulsion from society, no one is going to come forward. Redemption has to be on the table.

What about…?

If it hasn’t been clear, the #MeToo movement needs more nuance, open minds (on all sides) and a healthy dose of forgiveness.

Senator Al Franken (D-MN) should have had the ethics inquiry he wanted and not been forced to resign. That bad joke photo was not proof of a predator, just a bad impulse by a comedian.

Brett Kavanaugh should not have been put on the Supreme Court because he lacks the right temperament. I don’t know what happened way back in the day but I also believe that acts done at that age should not preclude adult advancement at work. There is a reason rental car companies have different prices for people under 25. I don’t think the guys who raped me so long ago are the same men today. I hope not.

Tara Reade deserves to be heard. I think whatever documents are out there should be thoroughly searched. Mr. Biden should comply with any inquiries. I think he is doing that. Everything I have read about this case and everything I know of the former VP makes me believe him. When I cast my vote for him, it will not be just a vote against President Trump but a vote FOR Joe Biden.

Hate and anger can’t defeat hate and anger

For too long, women have been treated as property. We have been abused and when we talked about it, we were called liars. Rape was a “he said, she said” kind of thing. We were told to watch what we wore and that “boys will be boys.”

As pendulums are apt to do, the #MeToo pendulum has swung a bit too far. When I see the president, who has bragged about committing sexual assault, watching underage girls get dressed and treat women like objects with no consequences, I am angry and sad. Then I see men who do really bad things, ask for forgiveness and not get it, I think we are sending the wrong message here. Repent and be cast out. Double down on your actions and be rewarded. What is wrong with that picture?

I worry about the president’s words because people take them seriously and they act on them. Mark Halperin is a journalist who admitted to sexual wrongdoing when he was at ABC News. This was a long time ago but he was cast off of TV because of it. He has since apologized and done all the things we hope someone in his position would do. It’s time to bring him back. If he is an example, it needs to be of what not to do when someone admits to wrongdoing.

At the end of the day, every time anyone says they have been assaulted or harassed, they deserve to have their allegations looked into and proven or disproven. We need to stop equating small crimes with larger ones. We need to remember, while there are similarities, all cases are unique and should be treated that way. I know this isn’t a popular position now but we need more nuance.

PS. This was a bit rambly and less sourced than other things I have written. No, I do not speak for all women or all anything. These are only my thoughts on the matter.

This is how genocide starts

This was reprinted from Firebrand Left. As that website is no longer up and running, I found it on the Way Back Machine. I think we are past three and have reached five.

Over the past few days, I have been spending some time over at a pro-Donald Trump Facebook group. While I have found a lot of things I have heard Donald Trump say to be upsetting, frightening or just plain confusing, nothing I have heard him say comes even close to what his supporters say. They say the United States Constitution is “outdated.” They do, support the Second Amendment but the rest was written by people who did not have to deal with modern-day terrorism. This is how they justify hating Muslims. Islam, they say, is not a religion but a political ideology.

screen-shot-2016-09-24-at-11-13-03-am

This is not helpful for any real conversation but that is not the real problem. While I do not think it is appropriate to define 1.6 billion people this way but that is not the real problem either. The problem is not even that anti-Muslim rhetoric makes gives the extremists more ammunition to use against us or that it makes it harder to fight terrorism. The problem is that when you start defining this way, we are taking the first step towards genocide. That’s not the America I think we want to live in.

You may be thinking, “That’s pretty extreme.” It is but there is something that people do not realize about genocide. If you look at the phenomenon across centuries and continents, you will see genocide follows a predictable pattern. From Armenia and Germany to Rwanda and Sudan and then to Cambodia, there are ten steps all of these genocides follow. They are (per Genocide Watch):

  1. Classification
  2. Symbolization
  3. Discrimination
  4. Dehumanization
  5. Organization
  6. Polarization
  7. Preparation
  8. Persecution
  9. Extermination
  10. Denial

We are hovering somewhere between step one and three. We have not quite gotten to the point of actual discrimination but there are measures that have passed or considered to ban Sharia law in all but 16 American states. Who is behind all of this? A number of high profile Republicans such as Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann have spearheaded the “anti-Sharia” movement.

This belief, that Americans need to be protected from Muslims, has been advanced by the Trump campaign. HIs famous promises to build walls along the Mexican but not Canadian border and to ban entry by Muslims advance the cause of racism and Islamophobia. We need to be protected from what we see as “them.” Americans are Christian (and sometimes Jewish). That’s the ‘us.” Muslims are not true Americans who pay their taxes, love their families and serve in our military, they are outsiders to be feared and demonized.

Trump and his supporters point out the recent attacks throughout Europe, in Orlando and in New York and New Jersey. They do not mention the fact that the gunman in Orlando was born in New York nor do they talk about the Oklahoma City bombing by a United States born terrorist or the multitudes of shootings by Americans. No one was talking about religion when they looked at the massacres in Sandy Hook, Columbine or at 101 California Street. We are not being killed in mass numbers by Muslims coming into the country. We are too busy killing ourselves.

The problem with the people who think, and my feeling is that they really believe the things they are saying, that we are facing an existential threat. Adolph Hitler really believed that the world was engaged in an epic battle for survival against the Jews.  When people say things like, “there are no good Muslims and bad Muslims…” they are reading right out of the Nazi Germany playbook:

This is not what this country is all about. We cannot become complicit to the mentality that is promoted by the Trump supporters. We are better than that. I hope.

Photo by Gage Skidmore