Sunday, December 25, 2016
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Monday, December 12, 2016
So, in the final analysis, it doesn't really matter. Nothing really matters.
So what if America just elected a real-estate-mogul-cum-reality-tv-star with absolutely no governing experience to be its president, a man who ran a scorched-earth, smear campaign of divisiveness against Hispanics, women, and Muslims (others, too, but I'm trying to keep it brief here), who is so arrogant that he doesn't feel a need to attend daily intelligence briefings ("I'm really smart"), who China has already accused of acting "impulsively," who Russia already is playing like a pawn and has in their back pocket (there's a theory that Putin is actually developing him as informant), who has nominated climate-science deniers to the EPA, the Department of the Interior and the Energy Department, whose Education nominee is opposed to public schools, whose HUD nominee has already acknowledged that he's spectacularly unqualified for the position, who is likely to place some appallingly inappropriate zealot to the Supreme Court, and who, given all indications about the hawkish generals with whom he's surrounded, his temperament, and his astonishingly bad judgement, is showing every indication that he's going to get us into a nuclear war, there's little we can do about it at this point.
The question the Buddha asked is not whether what happens to us in the world is fair or just or kind, but how we deal with it. Do we increase our own suffering by indulging in anger and hatred, complaining that the world is not fair? Or do we allow the suffering of those around us to increase by passively doing nothing and allowing the forces of oppression and intolerance to crush those they despise?
The Buddha pointed to a middle way between these two extremes, and left it to us to find our own path on the way.
Friday, December 09, 2016
Tuesday, December 06, 2016
Friday, December 02, 2016
Thursday, December 01, 2016
ICYMI, a company controlled by Donald Trump secretly conducted business in Communist Cuba during Fidel Castro’s presidency despite strict American trade bans that made such undertakings illegal, according to interviews with former Trump executives, internal company records and court filings. Source
"Good riddance to Fidel Castro, that lying authoritarian pro-torture false-populist thug who betrayed his supporters." -Trump fan on Twitter, per John Fugelsang
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Fact-checking web site Snopes.com today refuted the allegation that the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) was re-routed toward the Standing Rock Indian Reservation because white residents of Bismarck, North Dakota feared for their water safety.
As Snopes explains, there was once a route under consideration that was subsequently rejected in favor of the Standing Rock route. According to a Bismarck Tribune article cited by Snopes:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers evaluated the Bismarck route and concluded it was not a viable option for many reasons. One reason mentioned in the agency’s environmental assessment is the proximity to wellhead source water protection areas that are avoided to protect municipal water supply wells.
In addition, the Bismarck route would have been 11 miles longer with more road crossings and waterbody and wetland crossings. It also would have been difficult to stay 500 or more feet away from homes, as required by the North Dakota Public Service Commission, the corps states.
The Bismarck route also would have crossed an area considered by federal pipeline regulators as a “high consequence area,” which is an area determined to have the most significant adverse consequences in the event of a pipeline spill.
The fact that it was an Army decision and not the white population of Bismarck that made the decision scarcely makes it any better. Both routes pass through hydrologically vulnerable areas, Bismarck's wellhead-protection area and Standing Rock's limited tribal land. Both routes pass through "high consequence areas" in the case of a spill, Bismarck's residential areas and Standing Rock's sacred sites and burial grounds. The justification for the Standing Rock route appears to be 11 fewer miles on a 1,172-mile-long pipeline, or 1% of its total length.
This doesn't make me feel any better. Army bureaucrats and engineers apparently took it upon themselves to reroute a pipeline away from white resident's vulnerable watersheds to Native American's vulnerable watersheds, and away from white residences and toward Native residences, all to save 11 miles of pipeline cost. And when the Native Americans protested, they were met by a militarized police using brutal repression tactics.
America's, and really the world's, scarce freshwater resources are being threatened by development, pipelines and pollution, by fracking, by rising sea levels and salt-water intrusion of our aquifers, by overuse and unwise water management, and by the politicalization of the problem and of the remedies. There are alternatives to natural gas and oil - there are no alternatives to water.
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently passed a resolution, introduced by Board President London Breed, in response to the election of Donald Trump. The resolution reads as follows:
WHEREAS, On November 8, 2016, Donald Trump was elected to become the 45th President of the United States; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That no matter the threats made by President-elect Trump, San Francisco will remain a Sanctuary City. We will not turn our back on the men and women from other countries who help make this city great, and who represent over one third of our population. This is the Golden Gate—we build bridges, not walls; and, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That we will never back down on women’s rights, whether in healthcare, the workplace, or any other area threatened by a man who treats women as obstacles to be demeaned or objects to be assaulted. And just as important, we will ensure our young girls grow up with role models who show them they can be or do anything; and, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That there will be no conversion therapy, no withdrawal of rights in San Francisco. We began hosting gay weddings twelve years ago, and we are not stopping now. And to all the LGBTQ people all over the country who feel scared, bullied, or alone: You matter. You are seen; you are loved; and San Francisco will never stop fighting for you; and, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That we still believe in this nation’s founding principle of religious freedom. We do not ban people for their faith. And the only lists we keep are on invitations to come pray together; and, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That Black Lives Matter in San Francisco, even if they may not in the White House. And guided by President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, we will continue reforming our police department and rebuilding trust between police and communities of color so all citizens feel safe in their neighborhoods; and, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That climate change is not a hoax, or a plot by the Chinese. In this city, surrounded by water on three sides, science matters. And we will continue our work on CleanPower, Zero Waste, and everything else we are doing to protect future generations; and, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That we have been providing universal health care in this city for nearly a decade, and if the new administration follows through on its callous promise to revoke health insurance from 20 million people, San Franciscans will be protected; and, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That we are the birthplace of the United Nations, a city made stronger by the thousands of international visitors we welcome every day. We will remain committed to internationalism and to our friends and allies around the world—whether the administration in Washington is or not; and, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That San Francisco will remain a Transit First city and will continue building Muni and BART systems we can all rely upon, whether this administration follows through on its platform to eliminate federal transit funding or not; and, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That California is the sixth largest economy in the world. The Bay Area is the innovation capital of the country. We will not be bullied by threats to revoke our federal funding, nor will we sacrifice our values or members of our community for your dollar; and, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That we condemn all hate crimes and hate speech perpetrated in this election’s wake. That although the United States will soon have a President who has demonstrated a lack of respect for the values we hold in the highest regard in San Francisco, it cannot change who we are, and it will never change our values. We argue, we campaign, we debate vigorously within San Francisco, but on these points we are 100 percent united. We will fight discrimination and recklessness in all its forms. We are one City. And we will move forward together.
Monday, November 28, 2016
So if I've got this right (and please tell me if I don't), the people of Bismarck, North Dakota objected to the planned route of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) out of concerns that it might affect their water supply, so it was rerouted through the Standing Rock Indian Reservation.
When the various Sioux tribes residing within the reservation expressed similar concerns about water quality, as well as claims about tribal sovereignty, self-determination, and quality of life, and construction workers went ahead anyway and bulldozed a section of land that contained documented historic and sacred sites, protesters encountered attack dogs and a militarized police that most recently used water cannons on protesters in sub-freezing temperatures, destroying one woman's arm.
Apparently, if you're white (Bismarck is 92.4% white) and don't want the pipeline - no problem, it will be rerouted for you. If you're Native American and don't want the pipeline, then there's going to be trouble.
Please tell me how this is just, how this is fair, how this is remotely democratic, how this is even legal. Hard mode: tell me how this is compassionate.
Oh, by the way - DAPL is a joint partnership between Dakota Access, LLC, a fully owned subsidiary of Energy Transfer Partners LP, and Phillips 66. According to federal disclosure forms filed in May 2016, Donald Trump, who well may have the final say on whether or not the pipeline is completed and where it will be routed, holds between $15,000 and $50,000 in stock in Energy Transfer Partners and between $100,000 and $250,000 in Phillips 66.
Trump stands to profit by the pipeline being completed, creating a clear conflict of interest that the senior Democrat on the Public Resources Committee, Raul Grijalva, has called "disturbing."
But wait, there's more: Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren contributed $103,000 to the Trump campaign.
Sunday, November 27, 2016
A Loyola University study found only 31 alleged instances of voter fraud out of some 1 billion votes cast in U.S. elections between 2000 and 2014. According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, "Voter fraud is so incredibly rare that it has no impact on the integrity of our elections." You are more likely to be struck by lightning, more likely to see a UFO, than to be a victim of voter fraud. The Brennan Center study found that many reports of people allegedly voting twice or ballots being cast on behalf of dead people were largely the result of clerical errors that suggested wrongdoing when none had actually occurred.
Despite this, Donald Trump, who is on track to lose the popular election by some 2.5 million votes, claimed today that “In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,”
There is absolutely no evidence to indicate that there was a significant number of people, let alone millions, who voted illegally in the election.
The idea of "voter fraud" has been haunting right-wing imaginations for years now, but the real crime is not voter fraud but voter suppression. Trump won narrow victories in several states, and since this was the first non-incumbent election since Congress and the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act and allowed states to implement their own "safeguards" against "voter fraud," untold numbers of people, perhaps millions, found it too difficult to cast a vote this year.
For example, here in Georgia, one has to show a picture ID to vote, and the most common picture ID is a Driver's Licence. To renew my Driver's Licence this year, I had to produce 1) a certified U.S. birth certificate, a valid U.S. passport, or a certificate of naturalization, 2) a Social Security card, a W-2 form, or a pay stub showing my full Social Security number, and 3) a utility bill, a bank statement, or employer verification of address. Obviously, all that would be difficult for those without a job, without money in the bank, or without a utility account in their name. All for the sake of combatting a virtually non-existent problem called "voter fraud," the most vulnerable, the most unfortunate among us had quite a difficult time this year exercising their Constitutional right to vote. I don't think anyone deludes themselves that this suppression of the vote will make the income inequality gap any better.
But speaking of delusion, Donald Trump is trying to delude his supporters that there were literally "millions" of cases of voter fraud this year, but as his audience was stupid enough to have voted for him in the first place, they're probably stupid enough to believe that, too.
Saturday, November 26, 2016
As the horror shock of realization that the U.S. really, actually did elect Donald Trump to the presidency starts to recede, the deeper realization that this won't last long materializes. Everything is impermanent and nothing lasts forever, and between the latest election recounts, the impeachment efforts already starting to form, and the staggering old age of the President Elect himself, I don't believe he's going to last a full four years. A reasonable prediction is that within the next 12 months, he'll claim some reason or another to have to step aside, possibly due to some alleged attack on his business interests that requires his full attention (he's always playing the victim card), and he will end his garish and damaging occupancy in the White House.
Of course, a Mike Pence Presidency doesn't promise to be much better, but we can only awaken from one nightmare at a time.
Also, ha, ha, the police crashed their own cars into each other. LOL!
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
|Projection from unknown source, downtown Atlanta, November 2016|
I listened as they called him and his family a pack of monkeys.
I listened as they said he wasn't born here.
I watched as they blocked every single path to progress that they could.
I saw the pictures of him as Hitler.
I watched them shut down the government and hurt the entire nation twice.
I watched them turn their backs on every opportunity to open worthwhile dialog.
I watched them say that they would not even listen to any choice for Supreme Court no matter who the nominee was.
I listened as they openly said that they will oppose him at every turn.
I watched as they did just that.
I paid attention.
Now, I'm being called on to be tolerant.
To move forward.
To denounce protesters.
To "Get over it."
To accept this...
I will not.
I will do my part to make sure this great American mistake becomes the embarrassing footnote of our history that it deserves to be.
I will do this as quickly as possible every chance I get.
I will do my part to limit the damage that this man can do to my country.
I will watch his every move and point out every single mistake and misdeed in a loud and proud voice.
I will let you know in a loud voice every time this man backs away from a promise he made to them.
Them. The people who voted for him.
The ones who sold their souls and prayed for him to win.
I will do this so that they never forget.
And they will hear me.
They will see it in my eyes when I look at them.
They will hear it in my voice when I talk to them.
They will know that I know who they are.
They will know that I know what they are.
Do not call for my tolerance. I've tolerated all I can.
Now it's their turn to tolerate ridicule.
Be aware, make no mistake about it, every single thing that goes wrong in our country from this day forward is now Trump's fault just as much as they thought it was Obama's.
I find it unreasonable for them to expect from me what they were entirely unwilling to give.
- Author unknown.
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Stay informed. Be honest. Exercise your First Amendment rights.
And love each other like there's no tomorrow.
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits the making of any law establishing a religion (even Christianity), ensuring that there is no prohibition on the practice if any religion (even Islam), abridging the freedom of speech (even criticism of Trump), infringing on the freedom of the press (even the NY Times), interfering with the right to peaceably assemble (even Black Lives Matter protesters), or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.
Stay informed. Read the real news of what actually is happening. Support real journalism and join or subscribe to The Guardian and The New York Times (I did both last weekend). Check the references of any news story that presents an outrageous, one-sided view, even if it's posted here.
Be honest. Tell others what you know, based on your staying informed. Don't spread false rumors and don't mistake what you wish were true, what sounds "truthy," with what actually is.
You do those two things are you're well on your way to exercising your First Amendment rights.
All that's left then is loving each other.
Monday, November 21, 2016
I never really liked the punk-pop band Green Day very much, but I do admire them for breaking into their variation on the "No Trump! No KKK! No Racist USA!" chant during last night's American Music Awards. Here's how it's done down in Atlanta:
I've been wanting to use this space to point out Trump's many failures and shortcomings as already evidenced during his brief tenure as the President-elect but there are just so many that it's hard to choose where to start, but let's begin with his Trump "University" fraud cases.
First a little bit of history: back in 2012, the Florida Attorney General's office received at least 22 fraud complaints about Trump "University," and the Florida A.G., Pam Bondi, announced that her office was going to look into joining a class action lawsuit against Donald Trump for tax fraud. But four days after the announcement, And Justice For All, a SuperPAC supporting Bondi's reelection campaign, received a $25,000 donation from the Donald J. Trump Foundation. A day later, Pam Bondi announced Florida would not be joining the lawsuit after all.
In 2016, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the IRS, alleging that the Trump donation was a violation of Federal Tax Law. The Trump Foundation responded by saying the donation was made in error -- despite the fact investigators discovered Bondi herself had solicited the donation personally, had endorsed Trump for President, and made repeated public claims that she and Trump had been friends "for many years." The state had no choice but look into the matter.
Last September, investigators concluded the donation had indeed violated laws regarding political contributions from nonprofits such as the Trump Foundation. Trump was forced to reimburse the Foundation from his own money and pay a penalty to the IRS in the form of an excise tax.
Then, as we now know all too well, Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States. He lost the popular vote, but won the Electoral vote. There are 19 Electors from the State of Florida, and all are expected to cast their vote for Donald Trump. Pam Bondi, as it happens, is one of those Electors. On November 20th, Pam Bondi joined the Donald Trump Presidential Transition Team.
So much for draining the swamp.
|A bit dated, but still makes its point.|
But meanwhile, up in New York, some plaintiffs claimed that they had each paid up to $35,000 in tuition to Trump "University" for very little in return, and New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman filed a complaint. Although he said he would never settle, in the end Trump finally had to agree to pay $25 million to settle the suit. Following news of the settlement, Schneiderman said,
"I am pleased that under the terms of this settlement, every victim will receive restitution and that Donald Trump will pay up to $1 million in penalties to the State of New York for violating state education laws. The victims of Trump University have waited years for today’s result, and I am pleased that their patience — and persistence — will be rewarded by this $25 million settlement.”
However, Forbes Magazine today pointed out that most business settlements are fully tax deductible. The only part that arguably may not be is the $1 million in penalties, although many penalties can be deducted, too. Despite their punitive sounding names, some fines and penalties are considered remedial and therefore deductible, and companies often deduct "compensatory penalties." So Trump may be able to use the full $25 million settlement as a tax deduction, and possibly continue to avoid paying any taxes at all. But at least he didn't use a private e-mail server like "Crooked Hillary."
It's going to be so much fun impeaching this bastard for high crimes and misdemeanors during his first month in office.
Sunday, November 20, 2016
"Bullies are often thin-skinned, quick to overreact when challenged, and undone when people are no longer afraid to speak truth to their face. Great presidents are almost always the opposite in all those categories.
Reflecting on Donald Trump's complete overreaction to a statement made at the end of a performance of Broadway's Hamilton: An American Musical, I couldn't help but think - doesn't this man have more important things to worry about? Hasn't the theater long been a stage for political art? And isn't this a man who broke so many norms as a candidate, insulted so many people - individually and as groups - that he now has the nerve to demand an apology when he never gave one himself?
I know there are many who say that this incident shouldn't be blown out of proportion. Yes, when compared to cabinet posts or paying out $25 million in a fraud case against 'Trump University,' a Tweet maybe might not seem that important. But being president is to have every word you utter scrutinized. And these words are intimidating and unfitting of the office of the presidency. But more importantly, they show a real weakness of vanity and small-mindedness that our enemies abroad will likely look to exploit. I can also imagine that Trump's political foes at home are noticing - once again - how easily he can be rattled.
I imagine this is not the last we will see of these kinds of incidents."
- Dan Rather
Hillary Clinton was right - we can't trust the nuclear launch codes to a man who can be baited with a Tweet. How thin-skinned does a man have to be to fire of a Tweet at 5:56 a.m. on a day where he should be preparing for his Presidency, staffing the Oval Office, appointing a Cabinet, and writing a $25 million check to settle the fraud charges against his so-called Trump University? Trump the man is all surface and appearance, but beneath that shallow surface, there's no substance at all.
Also, for the record, Mike Pence is not a "good man" at all. He's advocated "gay conversion therapy," an outdated practice that has been banned by law in five states (California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, and Vermont) as well as Washington, D.C., passed a "Religious Freedom" act which basically legalized discrimination against the LGBTQ community, and signed legislation that would have required that aborted or miscarried fetuses be buried or cremated (the U.S. District Court suspended the law a day before it was slated to take effect).
Mike Pence's legislative record is stridently anti-woman and anti-gay, and in my opinion the cast of Hamilton let Pence off lightly by merely noting that "we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights," and asking him "to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us."
And Donald Trump is not even President yet, and he's already attacking the First Amendment rights of artists.
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Well, this used to be such a nice blog . . . but then the events of Election Day, November 8, 2016, changed this country in ways beyond even September 11, 2001, and it no longer seems appropriate to post pictures of toy lambs or Pokemons, or to leave cryptic Zen aphorisms and koans as posts.
About a week and a half ago, a little less that a quarter of eligible American voters decided to vote for the same man that had been endorsed by the KKK and by white supremacists, and essentially decided that it was okay to validate their desire for some sort of poorly-defined "change" at the expense of the safety, wellbeing, and civil rights of women, blacks, Latinos, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, the poor, and just about any other minority. It doesn't matter that about 2 million more Americans actually voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump - what matters is that some 61 million Americans decided to overlook the bigoted, sexist, and intolerant remarks of the Republican nominee and elect the candidate that appealed to their basest, most vile instincts and that somehow, despite the popular vote, Trump won.
I'm not female, Muslim, or hispanic, I don't identify as L, G, B, T, or Q, I'm not black or brown, and I'm relatively affluent, but if you think I'm going to just stand around and do nothing while some of the most vulnerable people in this country are ostracized, persecuted, and prosecuted, then you don't understand me at all.
I'm constantly being advised to just relax and give Trump a chance. "The election's over, don't be a cry-baby," I'm told. "We need to reunite as a country," I'm told. To that, I say that mass deportations, ethnic and religious registries, and rape culture were never American values we were ever united behind, so there's no "reuniting" with these reprehensible and deplorable (yes, I said "deplorable") policies. And if you have any doubts about that being where we're headed, then you only need to look right now at Trump Towers, behind the gilded doors of which the worst of the nation's racists, fear-mongers, and extremists are being appointed to the highest levels of the Executive Office.
There are going to be some changes on this blog, and if those changes are not to your liking, you're free to go away and this blog was probably never for you anyway. This is no longer a time for self-indulgence or whimsy. It's time to get serious.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Another protest rally and march in Atlanta against the bigotry of Trump tonight (Wednesday), the fourth since the election.
More details coming soon.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
How to survive the next four years: Stay informed. Be honest. Exercise your First Amendment rights. And love each other like there's no tomorrow.
Inauguration Day 1-20-2021 is a palindrome (if you ignore the hyphens). I don't know what that signifies, but I think it may be the most significant omen in modern history.
2016 is going to make 1968 look like 1954!
Monday, November 14, 2016
I've been asked how I can take such partisan views of politics, what with being a Buddhist and all. Not getting into the issue of whether a label such as "Buddhist" is even meaningful or not, I can truthfully reply that I take such partisan views, and get so involved, because of the very fact that I am a Buddhist.
The person asking was under the impression that Buddhism teaches acceptance, a passive submission to the way things are. That limited viewpoint doesn't take into account that among the things to be accepted is our own innate desire to act and to make wrong things right. It also doesn't consider the Bodhisattva vow to save all sentient beings.
Donald Trump, a racist, xenophobic, misogynist bully in his own right, is already loading his administration up with the worst of the worst, most recently announcing the appointment of white nationalist Steve Bannon as White House as a senior adviser and chief strategist. The FBI has reported that crimes against Muslims surged by 67% in 2015, and already this year we're seeing an epidemic of assaults and confrontations by people identifying themselves as Trump supporters against Muslims, Latinos, the LGBTQ community. If we as Buddhists don't stand up and protect and defend some of the most vulnerable among us, then who will?
There is a time for sitting still and meditating and there is a time for standing up and taking action. They go hand in hand, and the mindfulness gained in meditation helps one take the right action when necessary.
One of the first Zen teachers I met told me, and I'm paraphrasing here, "Action without meditation is beastly behavior. Meditation without action is just warming pillows."
Sunday, November 13, 2016
Love Not Hate is the name of a peaceful, non-violent protest/march in Atlanta on Wednesday, November 16, beginning in Piedmont Park at 7:00 pm and ending at Centennial Olympic Park. The aim is to continue the series of protest/marches which have occurred throughout Atlanta during the past week, and the ultimate goal is to promote the safety of minority groups and their rights in the wake of the hatred which is spreading across our country.
Saturday, November 12, 2016
We, the organizers with A World Without Police declare the protest on Friday, November 12th, 2016 to be triumphant. We came together with over a thousand confidants to declare that this genocidal system, which Donald Trump represents, has no room for us. We refuse to accept this presidency, despite pleas of unity and peace. It is not peaceful for us to accept a president who has committed sexual assault, who wants a ban on Muslims, who has called all Mexicans rapists. We also do not endorse Hillary. We do not believe that either candidate has the true interest of most of the people in this country at heart. We refuse to be tricked into choosing between an overt evil and a muted one. If nothing else, Trump’s presidency has made it clear that we need to build alternative systems which are conducive to us, the environment, and those that are most marginalized. We cannot trust an electoral system which allows paid leave for cops who murder Black people, funding for kidnappers named ICE who break into peoples’ homes in the middle of the night, judges who allow rapists to get off constantly with no charges. We are done with “business as usual”. This system is nothing but genocide sold to us as democracy. Tonight was just the beginning. We will continue to raise hell until we liberate one another and this earth. We will continue to fight and we will not give into arguments, be they conservative or liberal, to slow down or quiet down. We will not be content with being told that the elections are the only legitimate way to express ourselves. How can we be expected to respect a system which does not respect us? To all our fellow marchers, freedom fighters, dreamers, and artists, we love you; we will keep fighting; you inspire us. We are, #TheUngovernable.
Wednesday, November 09, 2016
"We do not respect the fact that Trump is president of the United States. This country has had its endless share of bigotry and racism, even under the most seemingly progressive of leaders. There is, however, a nakedness to Trump's racism, sexism, and classist opportunism that has made us all wake up to the path this country is on. We have not been okay with it, and we will no longer be tricked into sitting still and quiet, so that the 'lesser of two evils' can reign supreme.
No to Trump and no to any future leaders who prey on our fear and lie to us plainly be they dressed as friends or foes. No to a president that wants to ban all Muslims. No to a president who calls Mexicans rapists. No to rape culture. No to a president that not so subtly romanticises white supremacy and mourns its loss though we all know it has been alive and well. No to leaders who propagate the destruction of our environment.
No also to submitting to the Democratic Party's wishes to give Trump a chance. We won't. These political parties have failed us. We are sad, we are angry, and we are powerful. We will not just submit to business as usual. They've had their chance.
Trump is not our president.
Please join us in anger, despair, triumph, and resilience as we refuse this farce of democracy. We will meet at 6 pm this Friday in Historic Fourth Ward Park at the North Avenue entrance (across the street from Ponce City Market and beside the Masquerade).
Then, we will march."
Monday, November 07, 2016
When confronted with the overwhelming evidence that Donald Trump is spectacularly unqualified to be President of the United States, many of his supporters tell me, "Well, I don't trust Hillary. She's not very honest."
That perception doesn't hold up very well to scrutiny.
According to the Pulitzer-prize winning, non-partisan Politi-Facts web site, 51% of the fact-checked statements by Hillary Clinton were either "true" or "mostly true," while about half that, 24.5%, of the statements were either "mostly false" (11.7%), "false" (10.2%) or "pants-on-fire" false (2.6%).
That's a little bit better than President Obama's 48% "true" or "mostly true," and 26% "mostly false," "false," or "pants-on-fire" false. Even Bernie Sanders, whose statements are 51% "true" and "mostly true" like Clinton's, still gets a 28% "false" and "mostly false" score, although to his credit, no "pants-on-fire" false statements. Still, it seems that politics is a tough game for keeping it 100.
In other words, although no one's 100% accurate, Clinton tells the truth as often as Bernie Sanders and more that President Obama, and makes fewer false statements than either one of them.
On the other hand, 69.6% of Donald Trump's fact-checked statements were either "mostly false" (19.9%), "false" (33.7%) or "pants-on-fire" false (17%). Only 15.7% of his statements were "true" or "mostly true."
These data suggest that Hillary Clinton is 3 times more truthful than Donald Trump - well, 2.8 times to be precise.
Even though Politi-Facts is non-partisan, it is possible that there may be some cherry-picking among the statements selected for fact checking, as well as what constitutes a "false" claim versus a "pants-on-fire" claim. So, in fairness, let's get a second opinion and look at The Washington Post's Fact Checker, which rates statements on a scale of 0 (for mostly true) to 4 (for mostly false) "Pinocchios." Of Clinton's 49 rated statements, 7 received no Pinnochios, 3 received one Pinnochio, 17 received two Pinnochios, 15 received three Pinnochios, and 7 received four Pinnochios. That seems like a lot of Pinnochios, even if they do fall into a bell-shaped distribution, with seven each at the zero- and four-Pinnochio ends, and 17 and 15 near the middle.
However, of Trump's 92 rated statements, 3 received no Pinnochios, one received one Pinnochio, seven received two Pinnochios, 22 received three Pinnochios, and, get ready, a whopping 67 received four Pinnochios. No bell-shaped distribution here - the curve is highly skewed toward the "whoppers" end of the scale.
Compared to Clinton's 7 four-Pinnochio statements, Trump's 67 indicates he tells 9.5 whoppers for every one of Clinton's.
Trump supporters seem untethered to reality, and likely will look at these data as just more evidence of a biased media and a "rigged" election. But those of us who make our decisions in consensus-based reality realize that the actual media bias is the perpetuation of the myth of Clinton's deceitfulness, a perception left unchallenged in the news despite evidence to the contrary.
But yadda yadda yadda - numbers, math, and science - the election's tomorrow, so please get out and vote. Vote for the candidate of your choice, but please don't make me have to take a slow boat to China (actually, to New Zealand) ("pants on fire").
Sunday, November 06, 2016
I had an interesting brunch with Britney today where we discussed, among a great many other things, the pros and cons of staying in Trump's America and trying to change things for the better in the event that he's elected, versus moving away and giving up on this nation. My feeling is that Trump is an idiot and if you vote for him so are you, and I don't see the point of staying and trying to save a nation full of idiots. Besides, if we've learned anything from history, we've learned that once tyrants take power (and trust me, Trump will be a tyrant), they don't relinquish that power readily, so the chances of trying to have a positive impact during a Trump presidency will be very slim indeed.
New Zealand reportedly has more sheep than people, but if Trump is elected, we will learn that America has fewer thinking people than sheep, and by "sheep," I don't mean the four-legged kind.
Saturday, November 05, 2016
Apparently, from what I've learned so far, people aged 18-30 can get working holiday visas for New Zealand for up to 12 months. Us older folks have to get temporary work visas that let us live there for fixed periods of time. Alternately, one can get a skilled worker visa that lets one live there indefinitely.
In other words, you have to get a job in New Zealand before you can move to New Zealand, but you have to live in New Zealand before you can get a job there.
I'm sure I can figure out a solution - I just need a little more time,
Meanwhile, how to get there? Sure, you can just fly over, a 24-hour or so flight from North America, but there are better options. It's not cheap, but the adventurous way seems to be to take a freighter over and arrive by sea, just like old Captain Cook did centuries ago.
There's a freighter that leaves Charleston, South Carolina, and travels down through the Panama Canal. From there, it stops for a few days in Cartagena, Columbia before the two week voyage to Aukland. It's uncomfortable, expensive, dangerous, and time-consuming, and sounds like the perfect thing to get one's mind off of the potential travesty of democracy if Trump is elected president.
Thursday, November 03, 2016
If Trump is elected President, I'm moving to New Zealand:
- I speak the language there, so that's one less obstacle.
- It's located in the Southern Hemisphere, so there will be less wind-borne fallout from Trump's inevitable nuclear mistakes.
- It appears to be quite lovely, and has a varied enough terrain to adapt to sea level rise and climate change.
- It also looks like the kind of place that a geologist can find a way to make a living.
- Cost of living is somewhat higher, but after the catastrophic effects Trump will have on world economies, that may not matter.
Tuesday, November 01, 2016
Monday, October 31, 2016
Saturday, October 29, 2016
And after four days of field work in Eastern Pennsylvania, through rain, through sub-freezing morning temps, through cold blustery days, I'm finally back, safe and sound, and warm in the company of my cats and the comforts of home.
You can see my shadow in the photo above, lower left, just above the word "days."
Friday, October 28, 2016
Thursday, October 27, 2016
The weather in Eastern Pennsylvania lived up to its 100% chance of rain forecast all day today, plus it was chilly (40s), but still, it was a unique experience on a unique day. Another experience survived, another challenge risen to and met, another day that's now but a memory and a pair of wet shoes.
Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Monday, October 24, 2016
Even though it's inevitable that Trump will lose the national election, there's even a possibility that he will lose red-state Georgia. Georgia hasn't selected a Democratic Presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992 (then quickly switched back to Bob Dole in '96), but the latest polling here has Trump up by a mere 2.5% over Clinton (48.3%-45.8%). They were dead even for a couple of weeks back in August, and as Trump's campaign self destructs, Clinton may climb back up again.
Friday, October 21, 2016
Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Why, then, am I losing my equanimity and criticizing one presidential candidate so severely, while giving the other a free pass? Why am I showing preference for one thing over the other, and not just accepting what is for what it is?
Because, if Trump were to be elected, which is looking pretty unlikely now, but if he were and years from now someone were to ask me what I had done to try and stop it from happening, and then asks why I didn't use this public forum to alert whomever I could about the clear and present danger, what would I say if I don't speak out now? What could I say? As a matter of fact, I might not be permitted to say. . .
But Trump won't win. One of the world's biggest bookies, Ireland's Paddy Power, is so sure that Hillary Clinton will win next month's U.S. presidential contest that it has already begun to pay out more than $1 million to people with bets on its books in favor of Clinton.
As asteroid passes closely but avoids hitting the earth. The San Andreas fault and the Cascadia subduction zone hold off for another day. The sun doesn't explode and go all red giant on us. Trump isn't elected president. We gave praise for these small miracles and express gratitude for the avoidance of disasters.
Tuesday, October 18, 2016
To all my Republican friends and readers: Trump is right. This election is completely rigged and there's not a thing you can do about it. Your vote is meaningless. You might as well just say home on Election Day and not even bother casting a vote. Don't vote for the President, don't vote for Congress, don't even vote for as much as the Dogcatcher - maybe a complete and total boycott of the polls will send a message to the corrupt system. But if you do insist on voting, be sure to show up on November 28 and cast your ballot.
To all my Democratic friends and readers: Hee, hee, hee! Shhhh!
Monday, October 17, 2016
According to the Tampa Bay Times, around 200 people walked out of Amy Schumer's Tampa show on Sunday night when she called Donald Trump a “orange, sexual-assaulting, fake-college-starting monster.”
Schumer was met with loud booing about halfway through the show when her routine switched from her trademark self-deprecating sex jokes to more topical matters, including gun control and the upcoming presidential election. "Stay the hell out of Florida," an angry audience member yelled.
Really, folks? You couldn't have guessed Amy Schumer's political position before the show? You never saw her act on television? Amy Schumer, the distant cousin to Democratic U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer? The survivor herself of sexual abuse? You didn't think she'd take a swipe, like just about every other comedian these days, at The Donald?
Or were you just waiting for the opportunity to display your fake outrage, and walk out, flash-mob style, in a choreographed protest?
Good gracious, how is this nation of ours going to pull itself back together after all of this?
Sunday, October 16, 2016
Regarding our previous posts about Presidential candidate Donald Trump, let's be completely clear about one thing: it would be incorrect to say that Trump has buddha-nature.
Donald Trump is buddha-nature, and there's not a single cell in his body which is not a pure manifestation of the buddha. Every word that comes out of the Donald's mouth is itself a direct expression of the buddha-dharma.
I'm still not voting for him, though.
Saturday, October 15, 2016
Shhhh! We're hiding from Uncle "Small Groping Hands" Donald!
The ninth woman publicly accusing Donald Trump of groping and inappropriately kissing her has now come forward, bringing his numbers up into the Bill Cosby levels. Frankly, we're not surprised - we've always suspected him of being a serial abuser.
A Facebook friend and Trump supporter (yes, I'm still friends with people I disagree with politically) noted on line that he thought it was more than a little suspicious that people "only now" start accusing Trump of lewd behaviour, being as it is just 30 days before the election. "No one was calling Trump a sex offender before this, just like no one was accusing him of racism up until the election."
We'll set aside the issue for now of why women are reluctant to come forward with allegations of abuse, but really?, you think no one was calling him racist before this election? What about the Federal prosecutors way back in the 70s who filed suits against him for racial discrimination in apartment rentals? How about the millions of Americans disgusted and offended by his racist "birther" claims against the American president? Your ignorance of the facts, my friend, does not exonerate him from the accusations. We've long known Trump was a racist - we just didn't know he'd ever get so dangerously close to the Presidency.
As for the sex abuse claims, I lived upstate New York in the 80s and frequently heard him on the Howard Stern Show boasting about his "success" with women. We've seen him go through a series of trophy wives, and watched, appalled, as he even sexualized his own daughter. Everyone knew he was a dirt bag - no one did anything about it because until recently, no one thought he mattered.
Donald Trump is a hateful, disgusting, incompetent old man, unfit not only for the Presidency of the United States of America, but for life among polite company and society.
Friday, October 14, 2016
Thursday, October 13, 2016
It appears, at least right now, that Trump's presidential campaign is over. The tapes of his bragging about the unfettered privilege of the wealthy and his groping of women, all of the women coming forward saying they were victims of said groping, his inability to talk about anything other than himself, all appear to be his undoing. It's hard to imagine how any candidate, even Trump, can come back from all this.
But while all this is deplorable, these aren't the reasons I'm so appalled that he got so dangerously close to the Presidency. I'm not offended so much by his vulgarity, his xenophobia, or his greed as I am by his narcissism. Not only is every rally, every debate, every speech all about him, but he's the only candidate I've ever seen in my lifetime who so blatantly appears to want to use the authority of the most powerful office in the world solely for the benefit of himself.
He claims to have no financial backers and thus is beholden to nobody, but how has no one noticed that he's very much beholden and interested in the fortunes of the Trump Organization? He's the only presidential candidate I know of who refuses to put his business into a blind trust if elected, but instead admits that his children will run the company while Dad's away. Even Cheney's ties to Halliburton were less obvious than this.
With regard to his dispute with the judge assigned to his fraudulent Trump University case, he's not only stated that the judge is inherently biased because he's got a Hispanic last name, Trump's also said that if he becomes President, that judge had better watch out. No candidate before has ever, as far as I know, threatened that he planned to use the Executive Office to settle old scores, or would interfere with the Judiciary for the sake of his own business interests.
He's said that he would jail his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Not only does this sound like the actions of a Banana Republic dictator, but it also sets a very dangerous precedent - while many before Trump have claimed to be all for "law and order" (cough, Nixon, cough), no candidate has ever threatened to use the Presidency as a punitive tool against an individual American citizen.
It goes on and on. It's clear that Trump has absolutely no idea about the Constitutional separation of powers and that he thinks if elected he will be some sort of tyrannical "Boss of America." It makes me think his supporters don't want to be governed so much as ruled. It makes me think that fascism is very much alive in America.
It makes me think . . . .
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Like a great many weary Americans, I cannot wait for this Election Season to be over. I don't know how much more braying I can tolerate from that jackass of a short-fingered vulgarian from New York, or the racist, misogynistic, and homophobic, not to mention just downright counter-factual, support offered by his mouth-breathing, deplorable followers.
It was once mildly entertaining and even funny in a cynical sort of way, but now it's just painful to behold and embarrassing to contemplate.
I've resisted the temptation to offer counter-points to his off-the-wall accusations because the failings of his logic and positions are so obvious to even the casual observer, but now I'm angry that my resolve has left me and I'm at the point of writing even this much.
Godspeed and quo vadis, America. We'll get through this eventually, look back, and wonder "what the f*#k was that all about?"