20 May, 2017

Dealing in Democracy—The Consequences of Not Voting

[Dealing in Democracy grasps at, wrestles with, questions, critiques, and explores mere tinges of the brittle and broken bones of American politics through my admittedly biased eyes and offers me an outlet through which to fumigate the horrors both presently presenting and ever-present.]

-=: I originally wrote this right after the election, but got caught up with school or writing something else and so left it unpublished. Cornell West, on Bill Maher the other night, tried to argue that voting for Clinton was almost as bad as voting for Trump, and so reminded me of this argument I kept pressing on people torn over their votes. Since the cult of the individual still reigns mighty in the USA, it is still very relevant, and so here it is.:=-

Many people considered this election as a choice between two evils, or at least two distasteful individuals. As I've written before, I used to dislike Hillary Clinton until I investigated my reasons for disliking her and discovered that the few reasons I actually had were based on zero facts, and when I searched for facts I found myself respecting her much more. But all of this is beside the point.

We treat presidential elections as popularity contests between individuals instead of establishment of the policies those individuals represent. Briefly, here are the policies each candidate represented:

Hillary Clinton, et al.

  • Maintenance or expansion of the Affordable Care Act, possibly extending health coverage to the more than 33 million Americans who still have zero access to any health insurance; the costs of emergency care and crisis management for the uninsured is astronomical.
  • The social safety net (unemployment insurance, food stamps, medical care for children, education for the disabled, social security, medicaid, medicare, homeless shelters, and all the other programs that try to ensure that every citizen can at least survive in this country).
  • The supreme court should have filled its vacant seat under Obama, as it is his constitutional right to do so, but Republicans have set a very dangerous precedent by first denying Obama's overly-reasonable nomination a hearing, and now by establishing simple-majority voting for confirmations—this will, eventually, bite them in the ass, but they got their stolen seat because people didn't consider the next 20-40 years of American history when they voted. At stake in the Supreme Court are some of the following issues:
    —Citizens United (unlimited dark money buying more of our politicians)
    —Voting Rights
    —Workers' Rights
    —"Religious Freedom" as a cover for legal discrimination
  • Fair minimum wages
  • The right for cities to make their own laws
  • Education
  • Lower/zero college tuition
  • War
  • Building the future instead of some imaginary past
  • Campaign finance reform
  • Banking reform
  • Equal rights act—equal pay for women
  • Fair(er) taxation

Donald Trump, et al.
  • Repeal of Obamacare, which means:
    —Over 20 million Americans may lose coverage immediately
    —Reversal of Medicaid expansion
    —Preexisting conditions no longer covered or priced out of affordability
    —Insurance companies first, patients last
    —Increasingly higher premiums
    —Humans treated like cars or other merchandise 
    —No more mental health and birth control coverage required
    —Loss of basic services in many insurance packages
  • NO TO SOCIAL SERVICES: Gutting the safety net, food stamps, unemployment insurance, ETC
  • CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL: No clean energy investments or research, trying to purge the EPA, appointing climate change deniers in every office relevant to the climate and energy, going to expand coal, oil drilling, and fracking
  • NO FREE PRESS: Believes the press should be sued for writing "negative" stories, which is anything Trump disagrees with
  • WAR: Wants to expand the military and has signaled a potential war with Iran, intentionally provoking China, now North Korea
  • ANTI-CONSTITUTION (freedom of speech, of press, of religion, unlawful search & seizure)
  • He IS those "elites" he keeps screaming about.
  • Will do his damndest to pass massive tax cuts on the wealthiest among us
  • Believes in the debunked voodoo of "trickle down" economics, or says he does
  • Will do absolutely anything to save face, to stay in power, to be the "tough guy." Anything.
Whoever you voted for in this election, you did not vote for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump as much as you voted for the policies associated with them. If you did not vote, by default you voted for Trump's policies. 

So the next time there is a fucking election, look at the policies. Look at the consequences of those policies based on which hold sway. Because of this vote, or many non-votes, there is a chance that Roe vs. Wade will be overturned. There is the chance for another war in the Middle East, and Iran is no scattered backwater like Afghanistan or divided dictatorship like Iraq—Iran would be worse, and America would lose any remaining global support for tearing up a deal for peace that America itself created which would be seen as nothing less than provocation for war. It means even greater fiscal and social inequality among our citizens. It means the rejection of science on a whole. It means the enthusiasm for more countries armed with nuclear weapons. It means everyone in this country, from a union boss to the CIA itself, has to fear personal reprisal from a president who takes any and all criticism as a personal attack, and his only response to perceived attack is to destroy. It means dissenting view is not only dismissed, but forcefully put down.

That's what this election was about. Whoever you voted for, I hope you voted for the policies that come along with them. If you don't think about politics in this way, you should. You must. This is the reality, no matter how many attendees Trump envisions in his head or how many times his court of sycophants keep admiring his new clothes.

I think that's the point Bill Maher was trying to make: yes, Clinton may be a corporate shill, but she wouldn't have repealed the ACA or spilled state secrets to the Russians in the Oval Office or hired a National Security Advisor on the payroll of a foreign power or gutted the EPA and the State Department or have all references to climate changed purged from government websites. She wouldn't have hired her daughter and her son in-law or launched systemic attacks on poor and immigrant communities. She would have nominated a forward-looking voice to the Supreme Court who might have given us a chance to fight against the numerous and monstrous iniquities that plague this country.

I know it's almost impossible to argue facts anymore—people are scared and pissed off and it just doesn't get anywhere. So look at the ACTUAL POLICIES they want to enact and then imagine how those things will AFFECT YOUR LIFE. I know Trump wouldn't reveal any actual policy during the campaign—BECAUSE HE HAD NONE. A man who says he knows how to do everything and shows you nothing is selling snake oil, and he pulled off the biggest con in American history. 

So ignore the man, the woman, the person, and figure out what their power means. Then decide if that's power you can afford. We have less future to bargain with than we know.

18 May, 2017

Verse—"Bedtime Rituals"

"Bedtime Rituals"

You put a leg in your pajamas, NO—.
First (as things go) you must
divest that leg of previous attire, and
the other, and arms, too, and belly/neck/
chest—to prepare for pajamafication.
But why? Do dreams have a dress code? Does
sleep come quicker to the clothed? I confess
to scant preparations for sleeping, as such, just
what I was already wearing or some
soft cotton shift or nothing at all, but
the ritual changing-of-the-clothes is a con-
cept completely lost on the likes of me. On
my dislikes, too.

Perhaps it is closer to a custom—some-
thing you do because it is something
you do—or propriety—something you
do because if you don't, people or God or
whoever blah blah will think etc. It is
probably much more mundane, about
laundry or the likelihood of lice, which
not at all alters my perception of the

23 February, 2017

The Regurgitated—Why Everyone Wants to Strangle a Book Purist

[The Regurgitated is...exactly that.]


This story is a tragedy, made more tragic still by all the warning signs present, the ready explanations, the reason and forethought and practical common sense so readily, so easily apparent and available for counsel. And yet, our Lady Claire of House Williams—Denier of Sense and Photoshopper of Shite, chose instead to follow her heart, a heart that wailed at such length and at such a volume that even David and Dan could hear her despair from the deepest of the seven pits in the lowest of the seven hells:

WhhhhhhhhHHHHHYYYYYYYYYY don't the FUCKING TARGARYNS have VIOLET fucking EYES on the SHOW? WhhHHHHYYYYYY?????????????? It's an INTEGRAL PART of their FUCKING CHARACTERS, you mmmmaaaaAAAANNNIIIIAAACCCASS!!!!!!!!!!!!

Let me explain. 

So I accidentally clicked on one of those "sponsored content" click-bait links, and on the buffet of desperate acts seeking ad revenue I found this gem:

How the cast of Game of Thrones should really look by one Claire Williams. It lists 35 (!!) characters from the story, describes their show character, and points out the various "problems' the show suffers by not paying close enough attention to the text when deciding dye color formulas and prosthetic makeup. There is then a description of each as quoted by GRRM, a "rating" system, and sort of before and after photos: the first shows an actor in character from the show, and the second is photoshopped with the changes she thinks are necessary to fall in line with the books.

I hate things like this for a number of reasons, first and foremost being a complete inability to grasp that movies and television do not exist simply to make illustrations of books and stories. It fails to comprehend that written stories have strengths and weaknesses that are different from a visual representation, and the two must thus access vital components for themselves. Lady Claire of House Williams may think that, because television is a visual medium, it should get the visual stuff "right," which leads me to my next point.

Perhaps more important is the presumption of descriptions of appearance as the purest way to judge likeness of character, and anyone who has ever known another person, ever, knows this is not the case. There are times in this list when Lady Claire admits so-and-so's characterization is spot-on, but the problem is that he really has longer hair in hue closer to copper than blood. The real problem is thinking that is the real problem.

Which leads me to this little project. This list is so offensive to my sensibilities of writing, story, character, open-mindedness, and not being a quibbling fistula that action must be taken. It is the annoying humorlessness of book purists like this—the grotesque elitism—that has caused some people I know to swear off the reading of these books entirely. A grievous sin, indeed.

I do not know this Lady Claire of House Williams, by the way, and toward her I bear no animosity. This is just my way of coping with Things that Bug the Shit Out of Me on the Internet. All photos are as-is from the list itself. So here is my answer to "How the cast of Game of Thrones should really look" with "How Game of Thrones fans should really sound," replicated in style and spirit, fully attributed to the author. The title graphics, for better or worse, are my own.

20 January, 2017

The Regurgitated—Guns-n-Balls-n-Inaugurations, oh my!

[The Regurgitated is...exactly that.]

-= “I’m a white male who owns firearms. At least for the next four years I get to keep my guns and my balls.”=-

That was Richard Pease, a 53 year-old executive from New Hampshire, quoted in this article from the Guardian about the inauguration. Mr. Pease is also a shining example of the fact that if you repeat favorite lies to yourself over and over again, you're in no danger of recognizing reality or common sense. 

Mr. Pease, on behalf of bleeding-heart liberals everywhere. allow me to apologize for all those times we outlawed and then confiscated your firearms. Remember that? Especially that one time when it has never fucking happened? Sigh, alas, O' me. 

According to the logic of those two statements, he lost his balls when he was oppressed by society for being a white male, now widely recognized as great sufferers of discrimination imposed by all those women and brown people. But Mr. Pease read right through all those elitist calls for "equality" and "opportunity." His white scrotum has been sidelined for too long! We now have a president who boasts of sexual assault on camera! Who calls out Mexicans for what they really are! Who finally recognizes all Muslims are terrorists!

I mean, think about it. We now finally have a president who doesn't sit around and wait for reality and data and science and experience to tell him what the truth is. Our president jumps boldly into the Twitterverse and decides on what truth is by himself. That's so damn American it probably completely voids the selection of the most un-populist cabinet say, ever, and they probably just mean the cabinet by Trump's bed where he keeps Hillary Clinton's uterus encased in Kryptonite and guarded by a battalion Trucknuts modeled from life, all self-portraits. I've heard the real set were used as security on the loans that financed his casino bankruptcy. 

Seriously. Fucking genius.  

26 December, 2016

The Digest—Tuesday-Monday, 20-26 December, 2016

[The Digest is a collection of articles, videos, and other media I've viewed and found significant throughout the day. It is a way to divest myself from other social media that is more reliant on likes, click-bait, and peer-approval rather than quality, intelligence, and diversity of opinion, which are the qualities I find important. It is also a way to devote myself to daily contributions to this space...at least in theory.]

-=Summary: Bill O'Reilly's "white establishment," that white establishment in action, romcoms and stalking myths, Trump demanding info on "women's programs," lead exposure and criminality, time management, Trump's nukes, losing democracy in North Carolina, Twitter freaks over interracial ad, counterproductive voting, and the climate denial of Trumpism=-

Yes, I fell behind again, so I'm condensing since I have all these tabs open on my browser and don't remember when I read what and I'm more likely to publish this in one than write 4 more. I blame insomnia combined with homework to ignore my tendency toward procrastination and childish, I don't feel like it! inner demons. And I'm basically writing this to myself since I have 1 whole subscriber (hi there!) which I'm not even sure isn't myself. 



CNN pundit likens O'Reilly's race comments to apartheid rhetoric

Leinz Vales from CNN

I'm not shocked O'Reilly said these things. Example:
"The left wants power taken away from the white establishment," O'Reilly said.
I am surprised that O'Reilly would be so brutally honest on national television. This has been the largely unsaid, though sometimes screamed, subtext of Trump's whole...Trumpiness for a year and a half. 

Bakari Sellers states:
"We have to talk about the simple fact that, African-Americans, we don't want anything from white people. It's not as if we want to take something from white nationalists, or take something from white supremacists."
This makes sense, of course, but what Sellers either does not mention or does not understand is that, to the O'Reilleys and Trumps and Richard Spencers of the world, just claiming equality of opportunity and education and employment is itself a taking-away from these jackknobs. What does it take away? The superiority of vantage, the edge, the privilege they feel entitled to by virtue of white birth. 

So, props to Bill O'Reilly for his honesty. It's despicable and hateful and hideous, but they've been dancing around this for so long, it's a relief to see it laid bare for the world to see.

20 December, 2016

The Digest—Tuesday, 20 December, 2016

[The Digest is a collection of articles, videos, and other media I've viewed and found significant throughout the day. It is a way to divest myself from other social media that is more reliant on likes, click-bait, and peer-approval rather than quality, intelligence, and diversity of opinion, which are the qualities I find important. It is also a way to devote myself to daily contributions to this space...at least in theory.]

-=Summary: Anti-cat propaganda & Richard Spencer, fame whore doucherag extraordinaire=-


'Mysterious power over humanity': How cats affect health
Alice Robb from CNN

Apparently the author and the expert in this are both cat people, or at least the "expert," but they're both pretty negative about cats, and this almost reads as anti-cat propaganda. 
They're a disaster for the environment: One conservancy organization has called cats the "ecological axis of evil." 
Nearly half of house cats have physically attacked their owners.
But nearly all of these attacks result in, at worst, superficial scratches. Cats are not dogs that can maul you to death, unless you're an idiot who keeps a panther in a 10' cage and is then surprised when it takes a swipe at you.

Discussing reasons for domestication, the expert states:
We also tended toward animals that had social hierarchies that we could dominate. Dogs and cattle have lead animals, and we can control them by acting the alpha dog or the lead steer. But cats are solitary animals that don't have social hierarchies. They're hard to physically control, and they don't tolerate confinement well.
First of all, I think cats domesticated humans, not the other way around, but this person speaks as though the only reason to interact with an animal is to control it to perform some laborious task. I don't want to dominate my cat. I don't want to control her. I marvel at her world of 1 that is occasionally eclipsed to allow me in its presence. 

This is the reason she gives for us accepting cats in our lives.
Cats have big round eyes located right in the middle of their faces, because they're ambush predators and need good binocular vision. They have little noses, because they don't hunt by smell. They have round faces because they have short, powerful jaws. This set of features, which is actually just an expression of the way the cat hunts, looks to us like our infants.
Again...seriously? I agree we tend to show more affection for animals that remind us more of ourselves, as we're species self-obsessed, but she says more in a bit that confirms why this statement drives me nuts. I'll quote it here:
There are some interesting ideas from evolutionary psychologists -- that a woman might use a cat to hone her parenting skills or, before having kids, to demonstrate her fitness as a mate.
Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuccckkk yooooouuuuuu.
People who have cats are less likely to be outside in the world, walking their cats, meeting other people in cat parks. And cats may not be as good a substitute for human companionship as other kinds of pets. Dogs and their owners have this lovely synergy -- they gaze into each other's eyes, and both of them have this flow of oxytocin going.
Maybe your cat doesn't like you very much? Very frequently, when my cat comes for cuddles and pets, she demands I stare into her eyes. She will even reach up with her paws and try to turn my head to force me to do so. Eye contact is very important to her, and then there's all the squinty-face and nuzzles and other overt expressions of affection this person apparently lacks.

And no, I don't walk my cat because cats are not servile little imbeciles you can put on a leash and drag around wherever you want. Cats do what they want, which is why I think so many people do not like them.
Somebody who is socially isolated to begin with, or unable to do the rigorous care that a dog needs, might be more likely to get a cat -- but having a cat can be isolating in and of itself.
Cats don't require rigorous care? I've tried 10 flavors of food this month for my cat. I'm not incapable of taking my cat outside to relieve herself, but she doesn't need me to do that. Instead of preferring more independent creatures, we're "unable to do the rigorous care," yet somehow use this as practice for having kids. As I said, this is a self-described "cat person." And then there's this:
From my experience drifting around the cat world, it does seem to be more of a female-centric passion. The simple, slightly sexist explanation is that cats' infantile-looking features prey particularly on female instincts.
And then, about cats living with humans:
There's evidence that to prevent cat-human violence, we need to go to more extreme lengths than I'd ever thought. Experts say that you need to give an entire room of your house for the cat's exclusive use. That you should make sure the cat has multiple litter boxes, one per floor, and extra ones for extra cats. That you should never rearrange your furniture. That you should try not to wear perfume. That houseguests are freaky for your cat.
Oh give me a freakin' break. Yes, some lunatics might go to these extremes, but, as is mentioned earlier in the article, cats are incredibly adaptable. Yes, moving stressed out my cat, but now she's happy as a fuzzball can be curled in her bed in front of the fireplace. She has also never attacked me. The only cat I had who attacked was formerly feral, incredibly traumatized, and only attacked in response to unwanted touching by me. She never ambushed me or scratched/bit unprovoked, and she was the most violent cat I've ever had. "Attacks" are also often expressions of play from cats, as with many other mammmals, as play-fighting is how they learn fighting skills for later life. 

I know some cats do "attack" their humans, but just like all people don't get along, I think some cats just don't like some people. They choose who to spend their time with. They don't care who feeds them, who changes their litter; if they don't like you, it doesn't matter what you do for them. Some people don't like cats because they view this as disloyalty. They want the unconditional love of a creature absolutely dependent on them for survival. 

I think it's about control and self-validation. If this is what you need from an animal, a cat who doesn't come when you call or respond with affection to every touch or sometimes doesn't want to be touched at all must be wounding to the ego—I can't force this creature to love me! Whaaa!

That's one of the things I love most about cats—they are individuals, their own masters, and if you kick them out (you evil bastard!), they can make it on their own. Their instincts persist. But when they do come to you for touch and affection and pull your glasses off your face trying to get you to gaze endlessly into their eyes while they drool and purr and fall into that half-sleeping squint and then you go back to what you were doing and OH NO YOU DON'T WHO GAVE YOU PERMISSION TO LOOK AWAY fuck there go my glasses again. So precious!

19 December, 2016

The Digest—Monday, 19 December, 2016

[The Digest is a collection of articles, videos, and other media I've viewed and found significant throughout the day. It is a way to divest myself from other social media that is more reliant on likes, click-bait, and peer-approval rather than quality, intelligence, and diversity of opinion, which are the qualities I find important. It is also a way to devote myself to daily contributions to this space...at least in theory.]

-=Summary: Francine Prose on the evaporation of truth, "White Supremacy Is Not an Illness." more evidence that voter fraud is a myth, Paul Krugman finally recognizes the signs from Ancient Rome, the Not Normal, Trump's likelihood of outsourcing intelligence gathering to the peril of all, Trump's press attacks giving journalism much-needed aid, New Jersey's governmental attempts to censor journalism, Ben Carson is the worst person to run HUD=-

So I missed the last few days in an insomnia-induced stupor wherein I hallucinated a bic lighter as a pepperoni stick (and tried to eat it) and awoke abruptly pouring coffee into my lap. Yes, I'm quite a catch!

But I'm back...with a mutha-flippin' vengeance!


Truth is evaporating before our eyes
Francine Prose from The Guardian

I love Francine Prose, and there are so many crucial points in this article I feel compelled to quote it at length. 
More recently, Newt Gingrich, among others, has been informing us that facts and statistics no longer count so much as feelings, suspicions, prejudices and anecdotal evidence. The fact that violent crime is down, Gingrich explained on CNN, is of less import than the fact that “people feel more threatened. Liberals have a whole set of statistics which theoretically may be right but are not how human beings are. As a political candidate, I’ll go with how people feel, and I’ll let you go with theoreticians.”  
This is a major crux of the problem. "Liberals have a whole set of statistics which theoretically may be right but..." WHAT?! Oh, you silly liberals and your SCIENCE. That they so flagrantly admit manipulating people's feelings and then bank on those feelings instead of evil liberal facts is testament to just how much people don't care that they're being manipulated. The GOP has been saying, quite openly and for quite some time, that they're lying about a bunch of stuff, that the truth is irrelevant, and because of their emotional manipulation those that support them still consider the left less trustworthy. Perhaps "trust" has nothing to do with honesty anymore. 
As a consequence, we have begun to hear that we are living in a post-truth era, a period in which (to paraphrase Gingrich) those in power get to decide what is true and what isn’t. When, just before the election, a friend in upstate New York confronted a neighbor with evidence of Donald Trump’s misdeeds, her neighbor’s only response was: “That depends on where you get your facts.” 
This is partly the fault of the media who bought into the accusations of their "liberal bias," and in eating that bullshit-pie determined to be "fair" by treating opinion as equal to fact, promoting years of false equivalency that culminated in one presendential candidate's videotaped admissions to nonconsensually grabbing women by their genitals as of equal importance and scandal to the other candidate's use of a private email server. Supporters of the pussy-grabber changed LOCK HER UP! while the concept of prosecution or imprisonment for the man with lines of women accusing him of sexual assault was "politically incorrect." That's not politically incorrect; that's criminal.  
It’s dismaying to see how accurately George Orwell’s 1943 essay on the Spanish civil war predicted the present moment. Orwell feared “that the concept of objective truth is fading out of the world … I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our own age is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written. In the past people deliberately lied, or unconsciously colored what they wrote, or they struggled after the truth … but in each case they believed that ‘facts’ existed and were more or less discoverable.  
“Nazi theory indeed specifically denies that such a thing as ‘the truth’ exists … The implied objective of this line of thought is a nightmare world in which the Leader, or some ruling clique, controls not only the future but the past. If the Leader says of such and such an event, ‘It never happened’ – well, it never happened. If he says that two and two are five – well, two and two are five.” 
Climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China. Millions of illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton. This is the biggest electoral landslide in history. No one respects women more than I do. I know more than the generals. Obama was born in Kenya. Obama is the founder of ISIS. Unemployment is way up. Mexico sends us their rapists. Crime is way up. You can't walk down the street in America's inner cities without getting shot. "The number of murders in our country is the highest it's been in 45 years." The election is rigged unless I win. I'm an outsider. I'll cut taxes most for the middle class. My hands are perfectly normal. I know the best words. I love Hispanics. The jobs report is a lie. The unemployment report is a lie. GDP growth is a lie. The deal with Iran is the worst deal in history. Obamacare will raise your premiums more than 100% next year. The judge presiding over my case is Mexican. We're allowing thousands of refugees in from the Middle East without screening them. Illegal immigrants get better care than our military veterans. Hundreds of thousands of people are shot by illegal immigrants. More than 90% of people arrested are here illegally. We have the highest taxes in the world....sound familiar?
If we look for the reasons why Orwell’s dire presentiments threaten to become our everyday reality, we might consider the idea that Trump and his cohorts are reaping the benefits of the gradual (and, I would suggest, intentional) undermining and dismantling of our increasingly overcrowded and understaffed public education system. 
In school, we learn to distinguish truth from speculation, to value facts, to assess evidence, to evaluate information, to identify propaganda – to think. If what worried Orwell was widespread skepticism about our chances of writing history with any resemblance to the truth, how would he feel about a populace and a leadership that no longer values history at all, that has no respect for science, that believes the only subject worth pursuing is the how-to of uncontrolled capitalism?
How would we feel, or how do we feel? The GOP has been undermining science, education, and intelligence for years, especially since George W., when "truthiness" was born. It used to be common sense in this country that you seek the most qualified and educated people for their expertise on related studies, tasks, amd professions. Now, to know something about anything is "elitist" and how dare you think your "data" is more honest than my feelings

The biggest joke, though, and the most insidious lie, is that Trump and his people are guilty of everything they accuse others of being, only they are much, much worse. I can only hope the reality of his Presidency bullies some sense into the population, preferably before the world is destroyed.