Watching the decline...

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This…

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776
The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

http://www.ushistory.org/declaration/document/

 

Pot Will Bring Us Together?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have just done more for the legalization of weed than almost 50 years of lobbying by NORML. In the recent memo reversing an Obama era stance virtually leaving states alone to decide whether to legalize marijuana use, Sessions has inadvertently set up a showdown between the federal government and a quickly growing industry of growers, material supporters in non-legal states (shares of a few companies that produce fertilizer dropping more than a few points is a portent) and weed specific financial startups, not to mention users both medicinal and recreational. Those users are not the lazy dirty hippies who have so been the caricature of note.

Many users, surprisingly to statisticians, not just of the medicinal variety, cut a swath across the political spectrum and cross the great rural/urban divide. In other words, this odd little issue might have the possibility of being one of a few “rights” issues that cuts across party lines.

Politico suggests that this action may lead us down the path of legalization as a country though I’m not so sure it’s as simple as that. Yes this is the first time in a long time that Liberals as well as Conservatives are on board with “states rights” but just as those of us on the left are not a unified force on any issue, I fear that religious conservatives my still have enough pressure left in their tank to delay if not derail serious talk about legalization at least until 2018.

My feelings are mixed, honestly. Unlike many people I do believe Pot to be addictive, maybe not chemically but at least behaviorally. But by the same token alcohol abuse runs rampant through every demographic. What has always made marijuana different in my mind is the social stigma attached and the racial dog whistle that always seemed to accompany discussion of legalization.

Put it this way, when alcohol prohibition was enacted it became clear that people were going to drink regardless and organized crime, perpetrated largely by Italian Americans ran rampant. The same can be said for the drug war on urban America, people of color mainly were the recipients of both the benefits and the punishment for the weed trade.

While alcohol prohibition lasted 13 years, Marijuana prohibition, has lasted effectively over 80. Prohibition began with the influx of Mexican immigrants into the country in the 1930’s and the attached stigma spread throughout communities of color through exaggerated stories of  sexual aggression in minority groups.

Basically, if you are “colored” pot makes you chase white women and when white women smoke pot they cant help but be attracted to over sexed dark-skinned men. I shit you not.

What’s different this go round is the power behind the trade. No longer is it enterprising young Black and Brown men benefiting from “selling drugs” weed has been legitimized by “start-ups” and made acceptable by “dispensaries.” And though the occasional colored weed ambassador makes his rounds, marijuana sales will largely be taken over by white dudes in suits (or at the very least colorful button-ups).

 

It’s continued application to a population whose power hadn’t increased like that of Italian Americans is telling to say the least. That component, the one that lessens the burden on petty drug offenders serving time, which largely affects communities of color and the poor, is heartening to me. The idea that someone reviving public assistance would not be moved off because of a test shows THC in their blood, or that the whole idea of testing for “drugs” (a clear code word for pot) would be another bone to throw at people who already believe all recipients of public assistance to be lazy.

Is there the potential for abuse, yes. Does that potentiality and actuality already exist in legal alcohol, abso-fucking-lutely.

Regardless of my own reservations it will be interesting to see how much common ground civil libertarians and economic libertarians can find in this issue. It will also be interesting to see how the issue will play out in November. We shall see.

Eating Our Own

As the Oscars continue on the road to death from taking itself way too seriously the Golden Globes, its hipper more loose moraled cousin, continues to follow it down the rabbit hole of irrelevancy. From what I saw, the well meaning and relevant protests and discussion about sexual violence, predation and under representation of women in Hollywood was a resounding success, i.e. its trending. I suppose that my mention of it would, like a dimly lit star in the night sky that mostly goes unnoticed, be a part of the chorus of discussion about the issue.

The attention brought to Women who have been harassed, stripped of power and dignity through violence or implied violence and the inequities in power in this one industry is well deserved, it is supposedly shining a light on the greater, even less empowered world below it. Women feeling constantly threatened, or conversely those who feel empowered to use that to their advantage, are all affected by this imbalance. The different approaches to this end and the varying ways individual women have reacted to the issue has left me again wondering if the multiplicity of voices, many on the same side, can be heard through the noise.

Susan Sarandon, who I respect not only as a actor but as much as one can someone they have never spoken to, a human being, is the latest victim of the reactionary left’s (words I never hoped to ever have to say) group-think.  Somehow, in 140ish characters, the twitter-verse has managed to shame her for not letting her gender dictate her conscience.

As twitter logic goes, regrettably, this is fairly benign, but as the greater trend toward vanquishing the twin dragons of balkanization of any outlying opinion and identity politics are concerned it is another example of the stoopid factor, eating your own when it comes to small differences in opinion, when we largely agree.

Its so absolutely fucking insane that because Sarandon did not follow the part line and support Hillary Clinton (her ABSOLUTE right as an individual, I might add) in the democratic primaries and then dared to support Stein (a woman?!?!?) she is somehow solely responsible for the downfall of the black dress movement and a far worse offender than any male who presided over the casting couch Hillary’s victory would have surely completely demolished.

Here are a few dumb-ass responses to her being an individual with her own voice and position (IRONY ALERT!)

– Oh and by the way, thank you Huffington Post for finally beginning to show a little backbone in calling out stupid, although subtly.

SO what was her major crime? Refusing to support a candidate that very few people were truly happy with for one who was screwed out of party support because he WASN’T a woman? Aside from not making a lick of fucking sense, its entirely counterproductive.

Shit like this pushed into leaving the Democratic Party without abandoning my liberal principals, so am I now a traitor, sexist and bigot for respecting the opinions of others who are largely in line in principal with mine?

When do we stop sniping over small differences and finally begin unifying on GP and figure out the minor shit later? Not that we should swing far in the other direction and support raving idiot’s who are clearly unfit for office simply because they are the official party candidate, but nor should we feel we have to support someone who was clearly a member of the political class, didn’t do shit for Black People yet pandered for our vote simply because she is a woman. An absolutely well qualified woman, but also a woman who allowed her own ambition to let her turn a blind eye to the obvious corruption in her own party.

A vote for Stein or Sanders WAS NOT a vote for trump, it was a vote for the soul and conscience of the Democratic party and a test that my former party failed miserably.

Sarandon is still a hero to me, not as an actor, or as an activist, but for being the target of everything wrong with the left, the lack of serious self criticism, the lack of any real ability to soul search, and the mimicking of everything the right has represented to us since college, robotic reactionary proto-facisim.

Are We Really That Divided?

The more people I encounter, the more it seems the difference between the political poles is a social construction. Aside from the prominent examples of ideological contradictions (Liberal Racists, Conservative Welfare Cheats, etc., and everyone knows at least one), there are some very real reasons that people seem to adhere to beliefs, act upon impulses and support policies that may do them harm in the long run.

We are manipulated, especially the bottom third of the economic scale, into believing we belong with those in power but are being sold an ideological package labeled “Liberal” or “Conservative”  and anything that falls outside those preconceived broad definitions is filtered out of choice.

There are some hot-button issues that are determined by our closer communities. If you are White and rural, you are more likely to feel X, or Urban Black and Gay, Y, but after that, I’m always surprised at the level of nuance people show when they have discussions with people with opposing views who are willing to engage them. Being able to have conversations between my fiscally conservative friends about a topic like gun control is a whole lot easier than being able to talk about the subject with a rural hunter, but not impossible.  Speaking to a Melinneal liberal arts college kid about not understanding the new gender definitions or why “safe spaces” exist is a hell of a lot harder than discussing it with a moderate, but older LGBTQ ally who is still in the process of understanding all of the above him/her/themselves.

As a friend of mine recently said “I don’t talk about politics on social media anymore, It’s all a matter of where you come from and how you see it” truer words…. But we need to have those conversations, preferably face to face, in each others presence without our “Hi I’m a Liberal” or “Hello I’m a Conservative” stickers attached.

There is no doubt that we are what we are primarily because of where we grew up and what we were surrounded by.

There are other factors,

But, I’d say, mostly you have to be exposed to new people, and new ideas to at least know they aren’t the monsters you have running around in your head.

Even if Conservative, Libertarian, and Liberal brains are “different” don’t we all need each other’s perspective to live with each other?

I think that even when we come up against issues that we are steadfast on, especially so in some cases, we need to listen harder and assume less.

I think its the only way we’ll ever possibly learn to live together.  Our existence as a species depends on it.

Life Lessons 101 – Fair and Equitable

Consider for a second a painful problem. It could be personal, professional, political… Whatever it is though, it causes you some mental or physical anguish. It could occupy your thoughts or take away precious hours of sleep. It could be one issue, one hundred separate ones or a host of interlocking things. It could be something that to outsiders means little to nothing, but to you and your internal struggles, it means the world.

Consider a different perspective.

I realize sometimes I get so wrapped up in myself and my goings-on that I forget to consider the feelings of others. There are other times which I just don’t care and feel entitled to just my own and wonder if anyone really and truly gives a shit about me and how I feel.

Politically, ethically, emotionally, socially, it all comes down to trying hard to phase shift when we get caught somewhere between these poles. To try and pull back from being too empathetic or too entitled to our own little worlds.

Sometimes, on some days I feel like a huge dick for just wanting some peace and quiet. Some days I feel like an entitled brat for wanting someone else to simply be understanding and do something selfless for my sake. Some days I want to be the random actor of kindness and on some days I want to be the one acted upon.

Regardless of whether it is deserved or not.

This comes up because someone did me a huge solid a few months ago, and I’m only finding out about it today. Someone who has my back in a way that I recently dismissed, someone who I havent seen in years yet I’ve ben told is constantly praying for me. Someone who I gave a gift and then took that gift from and never said a proper thank you.

That person isn’t reading this, I can guarantee it. Regardless, I want to say thank you. Thank you for being to me, more the way I envision myself than I ever truly was.

Thank you for being an example and an inspiration.

Maybe I’ll just tell him and send him here.

Its the least I can do.

Tyranny Comes on Little Cat Feet

  • with apologies to Carl Sandburg

It’s becoming more and more apparent that we are losing our democracy of voices and opinions. Just as we seemed on the verge of becoming the ideal that we’d believed ourselves to be as Americans, that model was obliterated.  At this point it doesn’t matter who shot first, or why, but the decreasing number of us in the no mans land between the constructions of “the left” and “the right” regardless of how we lean, is troubling for democracy, and for the very survival of our country.

Tyranny doesn’t only come from the right.

I make no bones about how I lean; I make no apologies for my liberal cultural background and my progressive politics. I also do not wear that label as a bulwark against letting opposing ideas sink in, mixing with my own and changing me. This approach is my definition of what being Liberal means, being open to ideas, allowing them to mesh with my experience and trying to understand what lessons shape others. It’s a word that’s been twisted to mean inflexible and turned into an epithet, so much so that I go back and forth on whether I should call myself one anymore.

My definition of self is mine and mine alone. I know what the word means to me and also know that some of the other words I call myself are only shorthand for the complexities that I keep in those boxes.  Like anything, I think we get so wrapped up in the labels and the shorthand that we forget what the words mean.

It’s not always easy to hear through our filters, its never comfortable to be challenged, especially when that challenge comes from someone who you’ve already built a persona around.  But those problems are often the most powerful. Coming to grips with the fact that someone who comes from an entirely different background or had a very different experience in their life than you’ve had in yours yet you are still able to connect in a meaningful way is one of the most gratifying experiences you can have.

That is part of the reason it makes me so angry to see people put up walls, especially those who label themselves with monikers that define them as just the opposite. I spoke here about the Yale nonsense that happened a few years ago, and there have been numerous other newsworthy incidents, mainly on college campuses, that reflect an unwillingness to be self-reflective in the face of opposing viewpoints. The Milo incident at Berkeley or the Charles Murray incident at Middlebury college in Vermont are two big ones that spring to mind.  While I find Yiannopoulous a repugnant, showboating, self-promoting buffoon, I also found it ironic that the protestors, who became violently agitated over this clown, didn’t understand the legacy they were trampling on at that institution. Murray is also a cultural accelerant, but a more thoughtful and one who has been maligned in a way that makes me sad for the state of academic and cultural discourse.

When I look across the Millennial landscape and see the hairs-on-end sensitivity, the jumping at shadows and accusations, real or imagined, of triggered talk by folks who just haven’t caught up yet, it terrifies me to think that they will be the ones making some of the harder decisions about what speech will be allowed and what will be censored by shout down.

I’m so incredibly sick and tired of people being so offended by what they think they hear that they’ve become the monsters they, without a shred of irony, finger-point to daily. Sick of the fucking crybaby, triggered nonsense, sick of the proliferation of safe spaces as places NOT to be confronted on your bullshit instead of real and genuine refuges from psyche destroying trauma.  Let me make this clear; there is shit in this world that is so horrible, so psychically damaging, so mind-fuckingly severe, that it requires years of intense therapy to get over. Let me also make this clear, about 10% or which happens here in the United States, and about 5% is genuinely worth isolation from.

At this point a clear distinction has to be made, we all experience trauma, and unless we talk about it respectfully we never really know how difficult another’s existence is. BUT what is also true is that we’ve created a culture that condenses each of our experiences into little nuggets that cling like leeches to the identities we create for ourselves. In no way do I discount anyone’s stories of abuse, be they sexual, psychological or emotional, but when we are so deeply wrapped up in our traumas that we can’t see what someone else has gone through, see our universal personhood, we put another nail in the coffin of this grand experiment.

When we don’t dispense with our hegemonies of our experiences over other’s, when we refuse to listen, to hear what others bring to the table however flawed it might be, we lose a bit of that connectivity to each other. When we start pulling outward into the human instead of backward into an identity, into white, male, female, cis, gay, trans, straight and queer, we remember our sameness isn’t opposed to our uniqueness. When we stop the ridiculously insane push to be right all the time and be wrong at least some of the time, we gain it back.

We’ve all gotten too sensitive in all the wrong ways, instead of being sympathetic to how others may feel (which requires asking them exactly how they think and why) we hold way too tightly to our identity constructs.

I’m calling out so-called Liberals an Progressives on this as well as gender rights activists, queer theorists, and feminists, mainly because I feel allied or am a part of those loose identifications. I’ve called out the prevailing myth of white supremacy as a historical fact, women’s struggles as history and the benefits that come with being of a privileged class. My bonafides are there.

Yes, I find it amazingly ironic and annoying when ego-driven when people like Ann Coulter decry Liberal Fascism, when members of the alt-right claim their free speech is being violated, and when self-promoting attention whores like Milo Yiannopoulous and Mike Chernovich point out the hypocrisy of the left.

It’s annoying and ironic, but also, sadly, right.

 

On Approval

Edited on 8/8 for glaringly obvious typos.

Have we just become a bunch of approval seeking heroin rats? Are we so wrapped up in other people’s lives that we forget to have our own? Why are we so able to share the intimate details of our lives with relative strangers on Social Media yet can barely look each other in the eye on the street.

We are so focused on getting our opinions across and our relationships “approved” that sometimes we forget the reasons we have relationships and beliefs in the first place. I love the people in my life, and I love to share them with my wider circle of friends but not at the expense of my relationships with them. I’d much rather have a relationship than the appearance of one.

Through trial and loads of error, I’ve learned that there are some pretty standard principals for governing yourself, and your image, online. I try my best to adhere to them as closely as life and occasional emotional upheavals, allow. Use what you find useful, discard what you don’t.

Love and Relationships:

If you want to share a happy moment, please do so, you shouldn’t have to worry about who’s watching, but if your “sharing” is covering up a flaw in your relationship, or worse, causing one, promptly stop. I have someone in my life currently whom I adore, no pictures of us exist online together. Not to say that they never will, but for the moment we are not on social media as a couple. This is a mutual choice. It is one that not only protects our relationship, but also our relationships with the rest of the world as individuals. Friends who know us as a couple see the hints, others just see us as people.

Politics, Loss and Assorted Other Opinions:

I’ve contemplated leaving, Facebook, in particular, sometimes, usually when the loud opinions of a few people drown out he animal videos, kitten pictures and real life cries for help from people I care about that need answering.

When someone loses someone they love, or a national event requires a collective sense of empathy that platform is a wonderful way to feel cared for and a bit less lonely, it’s no substitute for real arms and real tears, but it is a comfort.

When we suffer depression or a disease, this format is a perfect place to feel less alone in that, but it isn’t a replacement for a real ear or a real shoulder.

When the needs of a few people to be the center of attention crowd out the compassion (in my feed it’s not usually my friends, but THIER friends who do this), I seriously think of cutting the cord. Life is too short, don’t worry about other people’s happiness unless you intend on sharing it. And if you plan on sharing, do so with an understanding of the potential consequences, try to be gentle. People will be looking from the outside in, exes and friends who disagree with you. Unless you are passive aggressively trying to sever those connections, be understanding of how they feel or make it explicit that there will be something following that might hurt or offend. In other words, try to play as fair as you can.

Reactions to all of the Above:

Life is also too short to worry about people’s petty hatred. Sometimes the most reasonable argument can seem like a torch to a powder keg, or the slightest mention of a new relationship can be (of course) painful, but that is the cost of keeping oneself out on social media.

Don’t let anyone else’s fears and anger get you down and don’t believe that every single smiling face doesn’t have its share of pain.

Ultimately we present the face we want the world to see, in my case I’m living the vast majority of my life offline now. Life isn’t perfect, but it is damn good.

Bring On the Whiny Liberals

Edited on 8/3 for horrible misspellings.

I like reserving judgment in all but the worst circumstances. Artistic endeavors especially require a delicate and deliberate middle of the road approach.

Watching Jericho, for example. I knew of the shows obvious right of center bent, and it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of it one bit. I didn’t feel that it was shoving any ideology down my throat, even when the Republic of Texas was the hero figure, because the story was so engrossing and the acting (save Mr. Ulrich who was at best passable, at worst incomprehensibly ticky) was great. despite or maybe because of his well-known conservatism I love Gerald McRaney, he reminds me fondly of my ex’s dad, and that association humanizes him beyond a political label.

Lately, though, many of my fellow lefties have become so amazingly, insufferably, annoyingly reflexive, that I sometimes feel the need for a new language because the Liberal tag seems more and more like a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head than a badge of reasonable honor.

The reaction to the proposed alternate reality show “Confederate” is one example of an illiberal dousing of a completely fascinating premise (what if the North and South fought to a stalemate and slavery became a institutional part of half our American identity).

This show could be an amazingly rich and disturbing look through “what if” allegory at how little we’ve progressed about race in this country. Of course, it wouldn’t treat racism kindly, what we know about human bondage now would inform the narrative, shape the dialog and create a space for allegory that could be so deeply mined.

Not if the whiny among us have their way.

Let me retreat a bit…

Charles Murray
Milo Yiannopoulos

Usually, I wouldn’t put these two people in the same post, nor think about them in the same context, one is a beleaguered but respected researcher the other a provocateur “journalist” who’s contradictions are so legion he’s incredibly hard to take seriously. Both, however, are proving to be unmistakable examples of actual liberal fascism. Yep, I said it.

There used to be a rule in more liberal circles, and honestly just civil society, that said that regardless of how outrageous and sensational what you had to say was, it should be at least heard.

So, okay, that part is bullshit.

That time never fully existed.

There were fights in Congress, speakers were shouted down, and crowds never behaved in ways we think they did, but my view as a Progressive, Lefty, Liberal etc. et.al. whatever has been that as open-minded individuals who are ideologically inclined to share equally heart and head and argue passionately yet logically would allow even the most heinous speaker his or her due platform.

How we can claim to be liberal-minded and not accept the difference of opinions of other without reading their books or hearing them out astounds me. I am guilty of this as much as anyone else. I have often made opinions of things that had no basis in fact, I have allowed the crowd to determine my feelings about a book or a film without ever having seen it, I have held biases against people I do not know and would never condescend to know, I have been judgmental and prejudiced in my assessment of cultures I have not tried to understand.

I’m sympathetic to people from other countries but not to those living in the borders of my own. I am guilty of feeling like people who live in the “flyover states” are backward and inherently racist.

Some of these things may be, and probably are, true, but why are the assignments made before the exposure? Do they assume that my educated black ass feels somehow superior to them? And why, in some cases are they right. Yes, deep-seated racial, sexual, cultural and regional dynamics play a role and make these biases and divisions a deeper crevasse, than they otherwise would be. I know the history of division and the use of racial tropes that the powers that be have always used to fracture bonds that make more sense than not. But why do either of us pre-define each other before ever setting foot on the same ground?

I firmly disagree ideologically with many folks on the right, vehemently, but why? I got sucked into the Manosphere and still subscribe to the mailing lists of at least three of the sites I’d frequented years ago. I look for dynamics that define the person behind the words and recognize that even in Mein Kampf there is something to be learned about struggle, oppression and the view of them through the distorted and diseased lesions over jaundiced eyes, but up until recently I’d never read it. Same, to a lesser degree, with The Bell Curve, which I am reading (albeit slowly) now.

I’ve slammed the book and its author(s) before without really having heard their story. I assumed its purpose was not to advocate, in a traditionally conservative way, for the restructuring or abolishment of academic inclusion policies and social welfare programs, but that it was arguing similarly to my other example, that one “race” is superior or inferior to another and therefore did not deserve help, let alone inclusion.

When you meet someone or hear their voice, they are humanized, by default. Our brains have reactions to certain characteristics in meeting people on a playing field we recognize. Hearing Mr. Murray speak on Sam Harris’ Waking Up podcast was eye-opening in this respect. Although I don’t agree with the conclusions and still feel that the onus and political motivations played a part in the furor, the man seems far from the racist bogeyman he’s been portrayed as. I encourage you to listen to the entire podcast with an open mind and feel free to disagree with the premise and the conclusions but do not miss the salient points made in the margins. The end of the conversation when Murray’s latest book is touched upon is especially relevant and enlightening.

Through the wearing of ideological labels, we have cut ourselves off from opposing opinions and the facts they are based upon. As a good friend of mine told me on a recent visit, he no longer discusses politics with many friends because it’s all about the way you look at things and where you are. So why should it not be about learning where THEY are from and how THEY look at things? Who THEY are.

Yes, there are things that I find unacceptable, that will never penetrate my liberal defenses. Having a protective shin of ideology isn’t always a bad thing. My liberalism doesn’t let baseless claims about superiority and inferiority get through. But it does let me consider uncomfortable propositions. It does not let me lose sight of the fact that behind every label we put on ourselves and each other we are still human beings with a lifetime of experiences that make us who we are. My Liberal underpinnings are both shield and filter in these ways.

Hiding behind a moniker, an ideology that denies you hearing anything you might otherwise let through the filter sitting across the table from another human being is one, Liberal or Conservative, that does no one any good.

Disavowing the artistic creation of a show about a timeline gone awry is the same as crying foul when a female comics editor posts an innocuous picture because the SJWs have taken over everything. Illiberal behavior is illiberal behavior, even when and especially if, it comes out of the mouth or hand of someone claiming to be Liberal.

We can have a plethora of ideas about a plethora of opinions in a way that allows us to see the world from a different perspective. Not allowing a person to speak, or trying to force a show not to air even before the words have been read or the show has been produced is a dangerous form of thought control. It is being practiced not just on the radical right but on the left as well, and it’s sad in either case. It’s more than sad; it’s dangerously fascist.

 

 

Quick Post

It has been an interesting week, that is an understatement.

When you bury a family member you find out all sorts of interesting things about yourself and the people surrounding you.

Some you already know.

Others you think you do.

And still more surprise you.

Lets just say that I have a lot to think about now, and those thoughts parallel much of what is currently in the news…in very interesting ways…

For now…I’ll leave it at that.

 

 

A Disgusting New Low

Edited on 5/12 for Typos.

Let me get this out of the way right now, I believe healthcare, the coverage needed to see a doctor on a yearly basis, health maintenance and elder care are rights we should have in the richest, most productive country in the world. Unequivocally, every man, woman, and child who is a citizen of the United States should be covered either privately or under a public option. There is no logical, rational or economic reason we shouldn’t be able to do this. We’ve completely restructured our society and economy around war, which demonstrates a clear threat to us and our livelihoods (or NOT: i.e. every modern war post WW2) we have mobilized against threats both concrete and conceptual and with all our might, forced our country to conform to a new reality, so why can’t we do this to take care of each other?

We cast doubt on the poor and helpless, on people who supposedly drain the resources of the country and take advantage of all the social programs and “freebies” they get handed to them without the reservations or drug testing so prevalent on Wall Street or in Boardrooms.  Why is it wrong to give everyone the possibility of a long and better life yet still allow employers and bankers who prey on the very same people the ability to do so with impunity with little or no consequences? When the average high school graduate earns about as much as the average undergrad  (yes it’s 2014 data but with rampant income stagnation I highly doubt there is any major movement here) and is saddled with crushing debt its sad that we haven’t made college free as well, but I digress.

We are demonstrating a fratricidal tendency in this country. Instead of being a family, one who takes care of each other keeps each other and tends to each other’s wounds we are poisoning the water of our brother and sisters houses and killing them in the process.

The House’s passing of the revamped, pre-CBO scored so-called American Health Care Act is one of the most disgusting nakedly greedy and soulless pieces of legislation proposed in this decade. It scales back preexisting conditions provisions, creates already fail-proven high-risk pools and removes penalties for not securing coverage with over a dozen more really bad ideas. It does so in the name of “choice” a great buzzword but one that ignores the fact that most of us have none, to begin with. Like the allure of “liberty”, a word so rife with consequential elitism but so unknown in that respect by the average Joe, choice refers to something only really the financial elite possess.

But it is the dream of all of us that we can achieve this freedom. Within the already paralyzing revelation that we really have none, within our increasing levels of control exact 1/10th of 1 percent of our destinies outcome we try so hard to use each other as a measure of that little control we have over our universes. We try, and ultimately fail to become famous, or infamous, we try to be forces for good or notorious, we try to become immortal but in the end, the briefest of times ticks records our deeds.

We believe that our small eternities, our families ticks on the clock, our minuscule appearances upon the universe’s stage actually amount to something grander and we personalize that time to mean “us.”  Instead of living like a giant organism and accepting that we all have sympathetic and, dare I say symbiotic, responsibilities.  Accepting that our limited choice can be used to serve the greater good or destroy goodwill, makes us vulnerable, and we don’t like that one bit.

So what does all this have to do with snatching health coverage from millions of people, many of which voted for its removal in the first place? Everything.

Our mindset in this country is very different from it is in the rest of the world. We value a strange mix of things that are often at odds with each other, often conflict and sometimes contradict. Our collective identity is at once strong and fragmented, we use patriotism as a blunt object to both unify and divide and we have a national identity that is as much myth as it is fact. We are also very, very young.

Transcending this is a tough task, the reactive tendency to believe what we feel without fact checking what our words actually mean, has put us in a rhetorical bind. We cannot seem to get past the fact that we should be treating each other as family and not warring tribes. We are all Americans. Every man, woman, child, everyone of their decided gender or the genderless, every person who walks as a born or naturalized American citizen is our brother, sister, sibling…

We need to take care of each other, as families often do. We need to look past the Thanksgiving our cousin Guido ruined the family rug with his cigar, or the time Auntie Carol got so drunk she threw up in the newborn’s crib, we have to forgive our nephew Amir for falling in with the wrong crowd and getting caught with a pack of Newports in the school bathroom, we have to stop blaming Xiang for forgetting our birthday, most of all we have to honor not only Crispin and Gary for their commitment to each other and recommit to our family again.

Just because we look and sound a bit different, doesn’t make us any less family.

We should start treating each other that way.

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