Two Of My Favorite Things

Despite the fact that I had never heard of Rep. Mike Quigley before a month ago, he quickly became one of my new favorite American politicians when I came across this little gem of a story in the Hill.

As you are all painfully aware by now, there are fewer and fewer US politicians who are worthy of respect these days. However, Mike Quigley stole my heart, if only for a few minutes, when I read that he had decided to introduce the The Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement Act.

Well, that sounds a little clunky, doesn’t it? That’s because it is, meant to spell out COVFEFE Act.

You all remember the whole Covfefe bananza, right? When Trump posted an obvious typo in his tweet, it went viral, and then the Administration in it’s infinite inability to ever admit to a simple error, tried to pass it off as a secret code word meant for Trump’s inner circle?

Despite the fact that I love me a good smart ass, the naming of this Act went further than a mere jab at the POTUS.

Presidential records must be preserved, according to the Presidential Records Act, which would make it potentially illegal for the president to delete tweets.

“President Trump’s frequent, unfiltered use of his personal Twitter account as a means of official communication is unprecedented. If the President is going to take to social media to make sudden public policy proclamations, we must ensure that these statements are documented and preserved for future reference. Tweets are powerful, and the President must be held accountable for every post,”

At the end of the day, Trump cannot have it both ways. His Administration has repeatedly stated that Trump’s use of his personal twitter account should be considered as official statements. If that is so, you can’t then turn around when it is convenient and shrug it off as unimportant when Trump uses twitter to stick his foot in his mouth. Far beyond making silly typos, Trump has also used his personal twitter account to undermine his own staff’s credibility, contradict himself and, of course, stoop to petty insults and sniping. So, if we are supposed to take him and his twitter feed seriously, then let’s make this official. Let’s get some accountability.

Politics and snark with a valid point? Two of my favorite things in the world. Without knowing anything else about Mike Quigley, I knew I’d at least respect him for his sass. More of this.

COVFEFE marks Quigley’s second use of an acronym to jab at President Trump. His Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness (MAR-A-LAGO) Act would force the president to make the White House visitor logs, as well as the visitor logs at Trump’s resorts, public.

Yup, it’s official. Mike Quigley, I like you.

Complaining for Getting Beaten Up? What a Nuisance

I have mentioned before that I am a TYT fan and member. Generally speaking, I watch TYT because it is refreshing to watch a news program that states actual facts, and then proceeds to voice their own progressive opinions. While I do not agree with them on every opinion they state on the show, the presence and separation of facts from opinions at least allows me to differentiate between the two and come to my own conclusions, regardless of whether or not they coincide with the hosts’.

I also watch TYT because they often cover stories of injustice that are not extensively covered by other media outlets, and often those stories are incredibly important to share because they highlight some deep flaws in the way the justice system is set up which need to be addressed, but will only be addressed if enough people know about them and make a stink about them.

Today, I want to share one such story that raised my hackles considerably, as it touches on a culture which I think everyone on this network despises. This video is about victim blaming in the extreme: a police-enforced victim blaming that almost cost a woman her life. It will also detail the domestic violence that this woman suffered, so be forewarned.

 

Do not be fooled by the thumbnail in this video (in fact, I have no idea why they went with that particular picture), the victim in this case was a black woman, which in part explains why she was treated so abysmally.

For those of you who cannot watch the video right now, here is the gist:

[Read more…]

I Agree With… Franklin Graham?!

There has been a lot of chatter about the current Trump Administration, the sweeping executive orders that he has signed, including what is or is not considered by many to be a “Muslim ban”. So far I have steered clear of this conversation, partially because I think that no one on this network disagrees that Trump is a loathsome human being, and partially because my recent crazy schedule has made me unable to properly update myself on current events from sources more reliable than facebook statuses.

However, some of the shared articles on the subject cannot help but catch my eye, and one such heavily commented article popped up on my feed yesterday, entitled “Franklin Graham said immigration is not a Bible issue. Here’s what the Bible says“.

I groaned.

The article is an opinion piece from the Washington Post. Despite the right wing leanings that the WP has been taking so far, I still allowed myself a little glimmer of hope that this piece would go on to explain how this argument has no place in politics. So, I clicked on the link, and read on.

Attempting to defend the ban from a religious point of view, evangelist Franklin Graham declared, “That’s not a Bible issue.”

He could not be more wrong.

Both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament are clear and consistent when it comes to how we are to treat the stranger. Across the books of both testaments, in narrative, law, prophecy, poetry and parable, the Bible consistently spells out that it is the responsibility of the citizen to ensure that the immigrant, the stranger, the refugee, is respected, welcomed and cared for. It is what God wants us to do, but it also recognizes that we too were immigrants — and immigrants we remain. “Like my forebears, I am an alien, resident with you,” says Psalm 39.

The piece gets no better, and I’m going to stop you right there.

This argument is completely moot. I don’t give a flying rat’s fart what the Bible says about this issue. Even if the Bible only contained a whole lot of love and peace, and none of the sticky bits about conquering and enslaving different tribes, I still wouldn’t give a rat’s fart.

Whether or not the immigration ban is consistent with the Bible has no bearing on whether or not it is consistent with the United States Constitution, founding principles, or common human decency. How many times do we have to repeat that the United States Constitution is great because it establishes a secular nation. Religious people can debate amongst themselves about whether or not they like the immigration ban because of what they think the Bible says, but that conversation is appropriate to a religious forum, not the Washington Post. I would also not begrudge nerds worldwide debating whether or not they favor the immigration ban based on the principles of Star Trek, but I would likewise raise an eyebrow if such a discussion was brought up in the New York Times, rather than at a Star Trek convention.

It is precisely this special privilege that the Bible holds that makes this discussion not only moot, but counterproductive. Giving this debate a platform on one of the most established newspapers in the United States simply reinforces the idea that conflating religion and government is perfectly legitimate in the United States. We’re now arguing over whether or not the Bible condones Trump’s immigration ban, instead of focusing on whether or not the immigration ban is consistent with what the United States is and should be about, regardless of what the Bible says about the issue. If the Bible said “There will come a Trump and the faithful should oppose every executive order he ever signs” I still wouldn’t care, because the US is not Vatican City, or Saudi Arabia, no matter how much the religious right want it to be.

So thank you Washington Post. In a bizarre and extremely ironic twist, you’ve made me agree with the loathsome Franklin Graham. The immigration ban is not “a Bible issue”. It is an issue of politics, legality, human rights, and Constitutional principles. Now, please, let’s bring the argument back to a place of common sense, and let’s stop allowing the Christian right to normalize the conflation of religion and government by allowing this nonsense debate to continue any further.

Forgiveness and Respect

I have mentioned before that I am a TYT member, and as such I had heard that Wes Clark Jr. was bringing a group of veterans to stand with Standing Rock. Cenk referred to it as “the cavalry has arrived”, indicating the power of the support and the hope that the police, who have been routinely brutalizing the peaceful protesters of Standing Rock, might think twice before doing so to veterans, as they might even lose the support of Fox News if they did so.

I was excited about the strong message and curious about the outcome, but I’m embarrassed to admit that I had not considered what kind of message that would send to the Native Americans themselves.

Just like many people forget that not everyone sees Thanksgiving as a fun family holiday, I completely overlooked the horrible history that Native Americans have towards the US military, and how badly they have been brutalized by them in the past. While the presence of veterans at Standing Rock might help to keep the police brutality in check, the irony of veterans coming to help a Native American cause was surely not lost on many there.

I am so glad to say, though, that Wes Clark Jr. and the veterans did not overlook this history in the slightest, and made a gesture that both surprised and moved me.

Jon Eagle Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has reported something wholly unexpected happened at the Standing Rock Reservation today. The veterans gathered to join the Dakota Pipeline protest stunned the gathered tribal members when they took a knee and asked for forgiveness

They report that there was not a dry eye in the house, and I believe them. While asking for forgiveness does not right the past wrongs, this humble gesture and mutual respect was moving to say the least.

While President Obama has finally blocked the DAPL for now, the fight is far from over given the upcoming Trump Administration. Now, more than ever, it is critical to not let the media forget about this issue, and to stand with Standing Rock.

Not To Be a Party Pooper…

Today the US celebrates Thanksgiving. I know that it is many people’s favorite holiday there, and I have had Thanksgivings in the past that I enjoyed and remember fondly. However, I still think that the historical context of the holiday needs to be remembered, regardless of how it has morphed over the years, especially in the light of the continuing suppression of Native American rights and the military tactics that are being used against people of Standing Rock.

 

I’m really not trying to be a party pooper. If you enjoy gathering with your family, eating awesome food and taking a moment to be thankful for what you have in this life that’s great. I’m just asking for some awareness of what has been done, and what continues to be done to a cultural minority in the United States. You have to start with an acknowledgement of such things if you ever hope to change them, and to not repeat historical mistakes and atrocities.

America’s Stolen Generation

I didn’t know this happened, and yet I am completely unsurprised. I’m not sure which of those statements is more depressing.

I knew that the US had done numerous things to the Native American population to put them down and steal their land. However, I did not know that there were thousands of children ripped from their homes and forced into boarding schools, in order to create a generation of Native Americans deprived of their culture and heritage, to be beaten and raped in the process.

 

The process of “getting them young” is not a uniquely American idea, of course. This was also done most famously in Australia, are is known as the “stolen generations“. I don’t really have too much to say or add, as the unfairness of it all, and the blatant disregard for humanity of it all, just makes me tonguetied and angry.

One thing I will say. Any show of solidarity or justice towards the Native Americans at this point is surely too little too late, but you can’t start any earlier than today. If you think that enough is goddamned enough, and it is about time to start treating Native Americans fairly and with dignity and respect, you have to stand with Standing Rock.

Having to State the Obvious

Most of us live in a bubble of one kind or the other. Sometimes it is a cultural bubble, if the people that we interact with on a day-to-day basis were all born and raised in the same culture. Sometimes it is a class bubble, if we do not know anyone who makes significantly more or less money than we or our parents did. Sometimes it is a liberal or a conservative bubble, if all of the people that we speak to happen to generally share the same views.

Regardless of the bubble you live in, it is important to be aware of it as the limited view of the world that it is, and that many if not most people in the world do not share your perspective and experience. Sometimes, this means having to share and state things that seem so obvious to you that at first glance you think they barely deserve a second one, let alone repeating.

It is my liberal bubble that almost made me skate over a blogpost published by the ACLU entitled “No, Seeing a Transgendered Person Is Not a Reason to Call 911“. Yeah no shit, I thought, and kept scrolling for a few seconds before I recognized this for the nearsighted reaction that it was.

No. Most unfortunately, it is not obvious to many people. While that may be an incredibly sad truth, it is still a fact, as one Meagan discovered when someone called 911 and had her arrested for trying to check into a hotel on her way to a funeral while being transgender.

[Read more…]

They Said It Far Better

I don’t really want to post endlessly about the US elections, they are over and done and we all need to accept the fact that Trump is President. A few days ago, I also posted about how annoyed I’ve been at the finger pointing and bickering in the wake of the US elections, putting forward my thoughts as to who this whole mess actually happened. Today I’ve watched a few back episodes of TYT and, I realized, I should have just posted one of their videos instead, as they are the professionals and they’ve explained what I was thinking far, far better than I.

 

If you don’t have 17 minutes to dedicate to political analysis, this parody video also sums up one of the core reasons Hillary lost in just a few seconds.

Let’s Play the Blame Game

America’s been shot through the heart. And who’s to blame?

OK enough of that.

Yesterday, I posted about how the people of various nationalities reacted to the news that Donald Trump is now the President. As of yesterday the sheer magnitude of that fact had not sunken in yet, as I proclaimed 2016 to be the most bizarre year of my lifetime, thus far. Today, as I take to Facebook and see how my American friends who live in the States are reacting, I can’t help but get slightly annoyed at the whole lot of them.

After the initial and completely understandable cries of shock, there immediately followed a squabbling of the sort barely fit for a second grade schoolyard.

Deport the Bernie Sanders supporters! It’s all their fault that people don’t like Hillary!

Those of you who voted third party are no longer my friends! Fuck you this is all your fault!

No, it’s the people who didn’t vote! It’s their fault! How could you not vote in such an important election!

It’s all old people’s fault! Young people voted Blue! Fuck old people!

No, it’s young people’s fault, for not having voted more!

How dare you care about principles? Being principled is being privileged! It’s the hipsters’ fault!

Stop talking about Bernie Sanders! Us moderate Republicans who never wanted Trump in the first place are going to rally to him now if all you talk about is a Commie who promises free stuff for everyone!

People. Enough.

Yes, Trump being President is a scary reality that few people anywhere thought could ever have been possible. But now it is a reality, and this squabbling will get us nowhere. Do you know what else is a reality? There is a giant portion of the country which is outraged, and wants to make sure that Trump is not able to enact his vile, hateful policies and campaign promises, destroying the world economy in the process. That is also a reality, and squabbling over whose fault it is, raising hackles and alienating every single person who shares your goal of opposing Trump, but did not decide to vote exactly the way that you did, will get you precisely dick.

There are a million reasons why Trump won. For decades, the US has had one of the lowest voter turnout of the developed world, due in large part to the fact that it is an incredibly complicated voting system, as well as intentional measures to suppress voter turnout, exacerbated by the repeal of key parts of the Civil Rights Voting Act. Meekly letting that skate by, and accepting it as a fact of life, does not then give you the right to turn around and scream at people who didn’t vote in this particular election. Maybe, instead, acknowledge that the voting system is at best flawed and at worst designed to have as few people as possible voting, and make fixing it a cornerstone of your platform going forward.

Do not condescend to progressives who didn’t like Hillary Clinton. Some voted for her, some voted third party, and some didn’t vote at all, but they are adults who made their own adult decision. The American political system allows for third parties and for people to decide whether to vote their conscience, or vote for the lesser of two evils. Do not pretend to love democracy, and then scream at adults who choose to not employ their democratic vote the way you see fit. Maybe, instead, acknowledge that the United States was founded to get away from monarchies and aristocracies, and that in this election people finally had enough of it. Enough Bushs, Clintons and Kennedys. Enough telling us that it is this person’s “turn”, as if anyone has a fundamental right to the Presidency. Acknowledge that it is time to return to actual representatives, who represent the people, and listen to those people when they have concerns, instead of telling them to shut up, heel, be a good dog and vote no matter how poorly represented, or how ignored you feel.

I do not think that the majority of the country actually wants Trump to be President. I think that Trump (accidentally) capitalized on this fragmentation, and bickering, and squabbling, and rode a wave of extreme right wingers who came out to vote for the very first time and tipped him straight into the White House. If you actually want to prevent him from enacting his loathsome policies, continuing the very squabbling that won him the Presidency is most likely not going to do it.

Putting aside left vs right policies for one second. Can we all agree that it should be easy for every eligible voter to vote, across the entire country? Can we agree that it should be no more difficult than buying a cup of coffee? If my pathetically organized home country of Italy can make it that easy, the US certainly can, if they have a mind to.

Can we all agree that allowing giant corporations to buy elections is the antithesis of democracy?

Can we all agree that people actually want to be heard, and represented, rather than insulted, and condescended to?

There is a unique opportunity here to unite rather than to fragment further. Regardless of how differently you would have acted if you were in another’s shoes, I beg you to not let that stand in the way of uniting with those people under a common goal. This has happened, there is no going back, so maybe you can use this as a lesson and an inspiration to fix a broken system. You can find so many allies and together, stronger, you can fight for a political system in which people participate, and feel included, and feel represented. United, you can put enormous pressure on your representatives, whether they have an R or a D next to their name, to not allow Trump to run roughshod over the country.

Or you can keep pointing fingers at each other and bitching until you’re blue in the face, while Trump skips along unawares doing whatever he wants in the face of a fragmented thus nonexistent opposition. There’s that too.

The Foreign Reaction

As the news of a Donald Trump Presidency sinks in, I am watching my family, friends and colleagues react to the news. The first reaction was just a blanket shock all-round. No one actually believed it would happen. They joked about it, the could-you-imagined about it, they you-never-knowed about it, but no one actually truly thought it would happen. I was the one that gave the possibility of a Trump Presidency the most credence and even I didn’t think it was going to happen, I was playing more of a Devil’s Advocate than anything else. Then it did. There was a general nervous laughter, and then the true reactions started to come out.

[Read more…]