100 Days+

Source: nitro-nova

What I really can't get over right now is the abject stupidity currently on display with this administration

I mean, members of his campaign staff could have been on the phone with lots of different foreign countries. It didn't have to be that one. They could have been on the phone with friendly foreign countries like England, or France, or Spain.

They could have been on the phone with countries that we're not particularly friendly with that we don't take especially seriously as a threat. Like Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia, or North Korea or something like that.

But no. It had to be Russia. They had to pick the one country that literally every generation of voting Americans is going to think of as the biggest baddest most ENEMY enemy country that we have.

It's like a caricature. It's like a cartoon of people being evil and corrupt. It's like they thought if they were bad enough, they'd be so bad no one would take any of it seriously, because it all sounds so ridiculous.

If this were an espionage novel, no one would publish it. It's ridiculous; it has every terrible trope in it, executed poorly, and obviously.

And it's only chapter 3.

On Punching Nazis, part 2

Yesterday, I shared a thing regarding hate speech and how it is/isn’t protected under the first amendment, then I said:

Always. Punch. Nazis.

And I stand by that.

However, Dave made some good points about how that sort of thing is going to look to thus-far neutral people, observing the whole mess. It’s hard to look like heroes, when you’re clearly not being very nice.

And I see the point about winning the hearts of bystanders, but when some guy is arguing for the “benign genocide” of my family, I feel the situation has moved past Diplomacy checks.

Debate isn’t available for those talking points and, if necessary, I will personally deny that option to the speaker.

Neither do I consider it “hitting a guy cuz he said something that made me mad.” (People do that ALL the time, and I don’t hit anyone over it.)

I consider it defense. Pure and simple.

I mean… there’s a lot more I could say about it, but I said most of it already, mostly about how none of this makes me happy, in the least.

To be clear: saying “punch nazis” isn’t bravado on my part, or some kind of machismo. It’s probably not even a smart option for someone in his mid-forties.

It’s a line in the sand.

Everyone’s line is going to be somewhere different. I understand that.

Everyone sees the country and our people in a different light. Some (many, probably) don’t see it in the same light (or darkness) that I do. Some look and think we’re near a precipice.

I think we’re ON the precipice, and it’s crumbling.

My niece lives in downtown Denver (a very progressive, blue area of the country), and she walks to work every day constantly trying to avoid notice, to be invisible, because of what can and does happen, even here. She’s 25 with a master’s degree and she’s averting her eyes for fear of giving offense as a black woman.

My niece was punched by an old white guy at a Broncos game this year, because she was there and he was mad, and my other niece, standing there, couldn’t do anything, because everyone nearby was mad and old and white and she’s none of those things, so she just had to let it be. To stand and take it.

To be obedient.

Because if she ISN’T that, she’s instantly an angry (uppity) black girl who dared to go into a public place, and there are points in time right now in this country where that is a death sentence.

The America I see today, close at hand, is just fine. Yes. Fucking incredible, but yes. There are not-so-distant storm clouds I can make out regarding civil rights and education and the environment, but really are they going to affect me and people like me? To judge by the reactions of those around me… no. Things are fine.

I can imagine a lot of bad, or project forward far enough to see the bad coming, even pretty clearly, but that’s it. It’s not around me.

So I look at things with my nieces’ eyes.

In my nieces’ eyes, some of the most progressive areas in our country host skirmishes in a race war most people don’t even acknowledge is happening.

In Ferguson or Flint, that war has been going on for years, the government is providing aid to the inarguable BAD guys, letting American children drink poison, letting their parents face beatings and worse for speaking out, and there’s no help coming.

So maybe someone doesn’t get why I draw a line in the sand in the first place.

Some nod, but they think my line is drawn too far. I’m overreacting.

Some people want to know what took me so long, because they’re already bleeding.

See, THEY have been trying to win the hearts of bystanders for years, and those bystanders don’t even hear them, let alone help.

Maybe the person on the sidelines who needed to be convinced was me, and I finally am, and that’s IT: there aren’t any more allies coming. Maybe everyone who was going to listen already has.

So I’m taking the opportunities to help that present themselves: volunteering, donations, learning more about public service, and lots and lots of “Trying to make people more aware of what’s going on.” I don’t, though, know exactly what to do to help, or if I’m doing enough.

But I do know what I’m not going to do.

I’m not going to be nice.

“Nice people made the best Nazis. My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly, and focused on happier things than “politics.” They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away.”

“You know who weren’t nice people?”

“Resisters.”

Naomi Shulman

We still live in a mostly polite society, mostly under the rule of law, but that is (as was chillingly demonstrated during the first days of the Muslim Ban, by the CBP) a fragile framework – perhaps no more than a fiction, when push comes to shove.

I want that polite society. I want that rule of law.

But I also know that there’s a point where, history has proven time and again, you either Hit, or you Obey.

Maybe we’re not at that point. Maybe we never get there. I sincerely hope so.

But when I hear “the world is better off without the people in your family, and here’s how I propose to remove them…”

That is not when I choose ‘Obey.’

No Time To Be Nice: Now Is Not The Moment To Remain Silent
Naomi Shulman makes the post-election case for speaking out.

The DeVos Appointment to Secretary of Education is Extremely Disappointing

But here are a few things to understand about Federal involvement in K-12 education.

1. The Constitution leaves the responsibility for public K-12 education with the states.

There is a compelling national interest in ensuring the quality of the nation’s public schools, so the federal government provides assistance to the states and schools in an effort to supplement state support, and thereby get a say in what goes on – without that funding, they can’t really (or at least easily) say much about it.

2. States and localities are the primary sources of K-12 education funding, and always have been.

In the 2004-05 school year, 83 cents out of every dollar spent on education came from state and local levels (45.6 percent from state funds and 37.1 percent from local governments). The federal government’s share was 8.3 percent. The rest was private sources, usually aimed at private schools.

3. All federal education funds are dependent on the recipient school districts’ adherence to federal guidelines.

The Feds CAN’T dictate mandates without attaching those mandates to money, because the Feds are constitutionally NOT in charge of K-12 education.

In short:

YOU CAN STILL HAVE TREMENDOUS IMPACT ON EDUCATION AT THE STATE AND LOCAL LEVEL, SO GET INVOLVED.

Funding comes primarily from State and Local sources. Policy decisions come at State and Local levels, including the decision to take Federal money and abide by the associated mandates. If a federal mandate is bad, the related money can be rejected and the mandate ignored. This would hurt, but it is manageable, with preparation, planning, and determination.

Every call you made to an unmoved Senator about DeVos can become a call for local support, local tax dollars, state legislation and support – it’s the same work, and potentially (even probably) far more effective.

DeVos’ appointment just moves the fight to somewhere we have home court advantage.

It doesn’t mean the fight’s over.

Conservative

This is going to meander a bit.

I'm not a conservative. I doubt and, in fact, hope I never 'age into' becoming a conservative.

I mean no offense if you happen to identify as conservative – you do you – but for myself, I can't see the value.

Conservative thinking, really by definition, focuses on conserving the status quo – either that, or actively reverting to the way something was in the past. So, to me, that whole mindset demands backward movement, either culturally, politically, or intellectually. Or all of the above, or whatever.

That doesn't work for me. Especially because the "conservative" umbrella is, today, often used to shield really shitty people who want to go back to a point in time that was demonstrably more terrible for groups that Aren't White (or Aren't Male, or Aren't Us).

Now, some folks might say "When I say Conservative, I'm talking about Fiscally Conservative." Sure. Okay. Except even back in those times (Eisenhower? Let's say Eisenhower.) there were still a pile of bootstrap infrastructure things going on that helped people out through government programs and project spending. So… I don't think the name really matches whatever they're talking about, but whatever. I can leave that alone, maybe.

But when people talk about conservative social policies, there's is just no common ground for me there.

There is no point in American history where people were more equally treated than we are today, and we are still Absolute Shit.

EASY EXAMPLE, WHICH I HAVE HANDY: In Denver, in 2015, the average black household made 57% of the average white household.

So, either there are unacknowledged biases that make it twice as hard for black people in Denver to earn a living, or black people are roughly half as intelligent and hard-working as white people.

(I'll give you a hint: there's a right and a wrong answer.)

Native American families in Denver only make 37% of the white family average. The same two explanations for this are available. Look HARD at yourself if you think answer is different than in the previous paragraph.

In Denver, most ethnic groups' mean income went up about 20 points from 2000 to 2015, which sounds great.

… except cost of living went up about 37%, if I'm reading data.bls.gov correctly. (Disclaimer: I may not be.)

Whites' mean income went up 52 points in that same time frame.

Native Americans went down 25.

That's comparing households. Per capita comparison is actually worse: per capita, only Asians make more than 50% of the white average, in Denver. They make a whopping 60% of the white per capita average. Everyone else is at or below half.

The report (this one: http://www.city-data.com/income/income-Denver-Colorado.html) doesn't talk about women compared to men, but I know from other reports we get that it's equally shitty.

I mean, teachers used to get GREAT pay until it became a largely female-dominated profession – now it's terrible, and layered on to that gender discrimination, there's this weird undercurrent of bias whereby being a male teacher in anything other than college is KIND of like being a male nurse to people outside the profession? It's a 'female' job now so OF COURSE that's bad? WTF?

We just suck. We're terrible, collectively.

And this is the BEST we've ever been.

So… no, I'm not conservative. There isn't one thing behind us worth going back for.

Take your rosy memories, if you have them, and build a better version up ahead.

Credit Where Credit is Due

My new normal includes calling my Reps and Senators about important issues every day, and making sure they know there are people out in the world who care about this stuff. Bit by bit, it's having an effect. [http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/317379-gop-senator-to-vote-no-on-betsy-devos]

First on the list today was Mike Coffman, my rep. Now, Coffman's a Republican, and I'm not, and honestly I'm not expecting a lot of headway.

But.

Here's the thing: Coffman did distance himself from Trump during the election – did say he wasn't voting for him, that Trump should withdraw, that he would hold Tan Dumplord accountable for his actions if he won.

And, so far, he has… kind of done that. [https://www.denverite.com/republican-rep-mike-coffmans-28334/] – It's a little weak, certainly open to interpretation, but it's there, and right now you take the wins you can get.

So, credit where it was due: I got a live person (wonder of wonders) and made sure to start off by commending Coffman on his statements regarding the Muslim Ban, and how glad I was to see him take that stand.

THEN I went into "And since he's made such a principled stand on the Muslim Ban, let's talk about what he needs to say about the White Supremacist civilian who just replaced two experienced, core members of the National Security Council…"

Republican Rep. Mike Coffman says he doesn’t support a travel ban based on religion. But how does he feel about Trump’s executive order? – Denverite
Update: The Denver Post caught up with Mike Coffman in D.C., and he had some stronger words. He called the executive order an “embarrassment” and said it was poorly thought out and poorly executed. Presumably this is a statement in response to President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugees, but it doesn’t actually refer to the order … Continue reading “Republican Rep. Mike Coffman says he doesn’t support a travel ban based on religion. But …

Jinkies

In pretty much any story – any fiction, that is – the amount of blatantly greedy and/or evil shit being pushed out by Trump's administration would see him shut down and tied to a chair by a group of plucky teenagers days ago.

And yet, nothing. He just keeps adding to the pile. Old Man Withers isn't even wearing the swamp monster mask – he doesn't think he needs to, and so far it looks like he's right.

Nobody listens to the hippies in the van.

And even if they do, they don't (or can't?) do anything.

Trump and his cronies took a look at the board and decided the other side just flat-out doesn't have enough pieces in play to stop one. goddamn. thing. they do.

"Work out what you’re best at, and act."

Politics and News stuff is, right now, pretty goddamn painful.

It may not seem like it, but I really do try to balance the doom and gloom stuff with things that, while maybe still newsy, are a little less horrible.

So, here's this piece I just read.

I think you can learn a lot from history. “Don’t be complacent” is a good lesson. “Yes, this is really happening” is a good lesson. “Little events can spiral out of control almost in an instant” is a pretty good one, too.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm intensely, nauseously worried about where things are are right now, but I do appreciate a realistic take on events that is a little more optimistic about our chances, so I thought I'd share.

https://medium.com/@zacha/history-is-about-the-past-thats-kind-of-the-point-d89e0fd9b995#.97au40a95

Don’t buy into the inevitability […]. That goes double if you feel like Trump is the end of the world.

Germany after WW1, Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, Russia during and after the Communist regime — they didn’t have strong civil societies and a strong tradition of government. The United States does. Despite how it may appear at the moment.

Believing that disaster is inevitable helps allow it to happen. Don’t be blinkered about what a Trump presidency means, but don’t believe that disaster is inevitable.

History is About the Past, That’s Kind of the Point
Why you shouldn’t buy into Tobias Stone’s end of the world article