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Name: Mister Rea
Gender: Male
Hometown: Houston
Home country: Moon
Current location: afk
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 47,373

About Me

mostly harmless

Journal Archives

While we get upset about Trump's words, they're going after Medicaid and Social Security

...and putting the fix in on the 2020 Census.

Trump isn't the "useful idiot." Republican voters are.

Trump is the magician's left hand and you reacting to the latest Twitter feud or Fox News interview of his are the glitter the magician throws to distract us from what the right hand is doing.

"Interested in the job in the White House?"


That's right, the Trump Administration is so desperate for employees, they are recruiting at job fairs now.

As staffers stream out of the White House like water through a sieve, the small contingent remaining is getting desperate.

According to a Wednesday Politico report, flyers are circulating emblazoned with “interested in a job at the White House?” encouraging conservatives to apply at a Friday job fair on Capitol Hill.

It advertises the presence of Trump administration officials eager to meet with interested parties “of every experience level.”

Along with the White House, the flyer lists openings in agencies like NASA, the Department of Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services.

Really? tff!!

I took an Ambien last night. I woke up wearing the sheets.

I'm unimpressed by the *idea* of royalty. But QE2 has done an impressive job.

I reluctantly concede that there is some utility to having an aristocracy with a vested interest in maintaining a facade of civic virtue and celebrating important social justice causes like environmentalism and public healthcare, as the British royals do.

In comparison, most of our upper class tends to just self-indulge in their youth and then gleefully exploit the working class once daddy dies and leaves them the corporations to run. So they got that on us.

Sarcasm is the language of the powerless. It trains our thinking to embrace powerlessness.

I was reading this article:

The Day I Ditched Sarcasm

“It’s not helpful right now to get sarcastic,” she said, and then continued, “You’re better than that, Natalie, more clever and kind.” I had been blindsided, completely unaware I was even being sarcastic. It had been a habit, a well-worn pattern for me when tension was high.

In the moment of our conflict, I felt threatened and afraid. But rather than acknowledge the fear (which requires way more vulnerability, thank you!) I chose a more dominating route: I picked up my sword and lashed out before my fear turned to helplessness. Obviously, this was not the first time I made this move.

Flashes of childhood moments when I felt powerless came to mind. Sarcasm was not foreign to me. I was drawn to this cunning form of combat – an effective way of protecting myself and demonstrating superiority at the same time. So, in the instant with my friend, I reached for what I knew and had used in order to survive. I rolled my eyes in disgust and secured myself, as if to say, “I’m above you and I refuse to be hurt by you.”

Words are powerful. They're important. They don't just express what we're thinking, but also shape how we think. The fancy word I'm looking for is paradigm, my frame of understanding. But too much of a frame becomes a box. And if I box in my thinking, I limit myself. I limit my power and I limit my room for growth.

Don't get me wrong. I LOVE sarcasm. It's great for popping balloons, for accepting my helplessness and sharing the moment with a fellow oppressee. It's economical, which as a writer I adore. I think of the Spartan warrior who was threatened by an invading army with the boast, "Greek, our archers are so many that when we rain our arrows down upon you, they will black out the sun." The Spartan laconically responded, "Then we shall fight in the shade."

It was a brilliant response. But then all the Spartans died. In such a small dose, it sweetens a bitter moment. It can offer a little smirk in the face of death. But the soul of sarcasm is, like the plucky Greeks, embracing defeat. It's a surrender of hope for a better situation. It's not the dark side of humor; it's the lighter side of despair. So I like sarcasm in tiny doses. It can give perspective in tiny doses. But I loathe defeatism.

Sarcasm is a linguistic sugar, a syrupy sweet that rots the teeth if overconsumed. And yet it gives a certain rush of energy. But like sugar it weakens the muscles. Overused, it saps our natural anger at injustice. It too quickly festers into resentment and diverts our will to change. It turns off optimism, which I've always found to be the soul of the Democratic party. Our best moments come from when we as a party have inspired hope and progress.

I think of FDR and the New Deal, laughing at fear of starvation while 25% of the workforce was unemployed. Kennedy pointing at the moon and saying "Go there" when our totalitarian adversaries were already circling the Earth overhead. Johnson defying a generation of Jim Crow centered in his own backyard (and personal past) and proclaiming "We shall overcome."

Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama grounded their winning campaigns on the simple message "HOPE" against smarmy Republican tactics of division and distraction. And sure, these were all imperfect administrations. Government spanning across a wealthy vast continent is always going to be messy and imperfect; it will have pockets of terrible abuses of power. From Roosevelt's internment policy to Obama's drones program relabeling every dead civilian a terrorist. From Johnson's Vietnam to just about every one of them supporting some pretty rotten human rights abusers around the globe.

But that only means the work of progressives isn't done. We need the fire of anger at injustice and we need the real muscle of determination to fix what's not yet right. Anger, if not balanced by hope and moral rectitude, can easily fester into hatred, as today corrupts so many conservatives. Or it can crust over into a resigned sarcasm, as unfortunately plagues too many embittered progressives.

I suggest to yall that sarcasm, if overindulged, becomes a self-weakening habit of mind. It's a sugar fix when your political body is craving protein and veggies. We need a good cause. We need clear and shared goals. Hell, we have great things to accomplish right before us if we can only find the way to see them and plot a steady path.

Democracy is a messy business. We're going to have to argue with each other a lot as we fumble our way toward a righteous cause. But I ask that we all belay the sarcasm--particularly if it points at our fellow pilgrims. But even temper it when it comes to those who stand in the way of a better country. I don't find the work "Rethuglican" to be any more obnoxious than what the Republican Party has come to represent. I don't tarnish Trump more by calling him names. I find the name "Trump" to be enough of a term of derision.

Okay, "Don the Con" is kind of funny. But I'm gonna need to practice the rhetorical habits of civil debate in coming months. I want this website to be a place to practice. DU is a great resource for arguments. But I need the wheels of my arguments to not be so caked over with sarcasm and scorn that I can't maneuver when it comes time to reach out to swing voters. As Michelle Obama reminded us, "When they go low; we should go high." That's not just about legalizing marijuana arguments (sorry) but good advice when the time comes to play to our core strength as a party this fall and in the spring and fall of 2020. Let us uplift. Let us inspire. Let us win over those who despair under Republican misdirection and hate-mongering.

Let us be Hope.

Kansas cops bust a man for having tree pollen on his car


Can you guess the skin color of the man with "suspicious vegetation" on the outside of his car?

Quit saying "white people"

It's "people of white." Or perhaps "person of whiteness" in more formal settings. Out of a sense of human dignity, the personhood should always come first.

In my head, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan are the same person

They are separate people. I'm pretty sure. But I honestly couldn't tell them apart.

No hate. I can't tell any of those Republican senators apart

TPM: Silly RW hagiography painter Jon McNaughton is a sign of a deeper problem in our Republic

(posted to GD because of editorializing by the posting DUer)

You've seen his ridiculous paintings before, well-executed cross-bastardizations of medieval hagiography and Soviet-era rigid didactic style, but selling post-Reagan partisan Republicanism as holy cause under seige from an unholy alliance of Islam, secular humanism, and moderately left-of-center politicians. This is the work of Jon McNaughton. TPM just wrote an editorial about his surging popularity in the Age of Trump. You need to read it to the end. Maybe not from the beginning, but certainly don't miss the end.

Here's the artist, painting James Madison, seemingly about to field an Obama poop like it's a line drive past third

For year's we've all had a good yuck at the child-like simplicity of his admiration for the views of the GOP hard right, at apparent odds with his undeniable talent at detailed portraiture (but which somehow stills falls short of true naturalism for his seemingly deliberate refusal to paint his characters in natural poses). In terms of balance and composition, he might as well be doodling zoo animals for his mom's refrigerator. If you google "McNaughton+golden ratio" you won't get any results.

... which is not to say there's not a kind of genius at work here.
Like remember that poor cop who had to have a beer with Obama after arresting a professor for being black in his own home?

But this post and the editorial I'm pointing you at is not really about selective renaissancism in the art of the Post-Rational Age. It's about the sociological features of the American populace in the Post-Rational Age. It's about how (and more importantly why) McNaughton's audience doesn't mind the rejection of Renaissance Humanism and Rationalism in their art--conflating schlock with ideology. In the minds of McNaughton's (and Trump's) target audience, Jefferson and Washington and Madison are figures, not of the Enlightenment, but of American Nationalism, just a few more saints to be dyed into the stained glass.

Hey, Scalia!! The fuck you ripping up there?

You got to give him his due. Like a well mannered Mormon (a background that might have led the painter to conflate politics with salvation), he's making an effort to bring all races into the Big Republican Tent with a healthy smattering of actual black historical characters (Harriet Tubman, Gen'l Benjamin Davis) and nameless American Indian stereotypes peppered into the crowdshots. Middle Americans need reassurance they aren't becoming that kind of conservative. We still like the "good ones."

Let me emphasize the word "becoming" before I send you off to read the TPM article itself. I hope it's thought provoking. The thoughts it provokes sure are scary to me. The thing I've gotten wrongest about the Reign of Trump was my view that he is only the logical result of Republican dumbstanding on a range of issues over the past four decades--from the racial dogwhistles to win over Southern whites to support tax cuts to the false-faced moralism on abortion and gay-panic voting to maintain corporate control over Congress. I thought he was the culmination of what you get when you convince millions that tax cuts lead to balanced budgets and marijuana raids lead to small government. It's all lies, of course, but I was wrong to think Trump is the final equation in this psychohistory trigonometry.

Trump is the herald of American Tribalism. It's not that he and his allies are giving the people what they want, and just ripping off the treasury in the meantime while they accomplish little. He's just the loudest siren warning us of an approaching (and in most cases, already situated) cultural shift away from the core American principles of tolerance, inclusion, opportunity, and the expansion of liberty. These people embrace their identity politics in ways that obliterate the traditional notion of American identity. They are Yugoslaving the United States. They embrace the notion of Trump as benevolent pater noster, teacher, prophet, deliverer.

Yeah, pretend you're not the one who shredded it, asshole

All evidence to the contrary, they see Trump is an honest patriot, a godly husband, a peace-seeking defender of ethical order, a product of divine intervention. The next step in this social evolution is clear. The post bronze age, monotheistic notion that divine order is universal, rather than just an extension of our god's protection of our nation, is up for rejection. In our cause, torture's okay, adultery is okay, bombing children and rejecting refugees (be they from Syria or from New Orleans) is perfectly moral because they are not us and our God protects only us.

It's only a happy coincidence for them that such a reductionist trend dovetails well with the old Republican philosophy of small government. For decades now fundamentalist Republicans have only favored small government on a case-by-case basis. Isolationism is not a rejection of preening militarism in the Pentagon budget nor in the targeting of selective adversaries in the Middle East. Philosophy quit mattering a long time ago. This is the world Trump and his apologists--from Fox News to your uncle Ernie at Thanksgiving dinner--are helping to create. Democracy, as illustrated by Jon McNaughton and embraced by his fanbase, is fundamentally at risk.

Go read this and brace yourself for the future.

As a teacher, let me tell you why arming teachers won't work. (a rant)

(1) It's dangerous. It's not a stretch to say most teachers would be gun wielding newbies. And newbies make mistakes; accidents will happen. And sure, most teachers will just say, "Not me" and refuse to go to class armed.
One reason we have to make public policy is that people sometimes exercise bad judgment. We have unemployment insurance because people pick the wrong jobs for themselves. We have homeless shelters because some people fall into poverty and can't maintain a home. We accept people into emergency rooms, even if they can't pay, when they've made dumb mistakes on motorcycles or while using pruning sheers.
To err is human. To be unforgiving and say, "Screw you for being irresponsible; you don't deserve help" is to stand in polar opposition to basic human civility.
And so, when inevitably, when you hand a bunch of noobs DOE approved classroom guns, even if they've gone through a 10-hour two-weekend course in basic gun safety, you're gonna have incidents--including accidentally discharged weapons around minors. You're gonna have lawsuits, you're gonna have injuries, you're gonna disrupt the fundamental relationship of in loco parentis that defines a teacher's care for their students.

(2) It's reckless. Teachers are role models. Yes, even to recalcitrant teenagers, they behave in ways that students will inevitably emulate. And students emulate teachers not just because they're young, but because students are humans. In a society, we constantly renegotiate norm references. When a leader does a thing, it sends a message to all those in their community that that behavior is normal, acceptable, desirable.
Historians often wonder why there was a resurgence of the KKK during World War One, particularly when this was still the middle of the Progressive Era. One critical answer was that there was a reform minded, otherwise liberal president who also just so happened to be a complete racist. Wilson perversely thought both his good government initiatives and his nationalizing of Jim Crow standards, including the full segregation of the civil service. In stark contrast to his two equally progressive predecessors, Wilson sent down the message from high office that racism was a-okay. The populace followed suit. When a minister of a church embezzles, when a president inveighs against official corruption, when a mayor steps up and says "let's be compassionate to our city's homeless," when a company says either "let's give to our community's charities" or "let's lie on our annual reports," the people whom they lead tend to follow suit. Role models matter because humans are a gregarious animal.
And so if teachers model packing heat on campus, their young charges will follow. The example alone will encourage students, other staff, parent & community volunteers to do the same. Guns are powerful alluring things. If teachers conceal carry, others will conceal carry, even if the rules forbid it. That's how people are. And conflicts over those rule violations will happen--unnecessary conflicts. And other normal school-based conflicts between teens or between students and staff, will turn into armed conflicts. Normalizing guns on campus is chumming the waters.

(3) It's stupid. Students are rules testers. They are boundary testers. It's what immature adolescents and pre-adolescents do. Schools are little sociological sandboxes where young people discover what it's like to exist as a person within a bureaucratic organization. And one of those rules they test is 'Thou shalt not steal.' Kids steal things all the time. And of course they usually get caught--but not always. And a gun, being the alluring, powerful thing that it is, will draw the attention of many young kleptomaniacs. This happens even in "safe" and "nice" schools, cause Five-Fingerism afflicts representative cross sections of American society.
Ask any teacher. Kids steal art supplies. They steal dry erase markers. They steal books from the lending library and calculators from the plastic shoe tree hangers in the class closet. They sure as hell go after any cell phones the teacher has confiscated from other students.
Can you imagine a middle school classroom where one or two guys aren't distracted by their teacher's gat peeking out of her coat? Or where the art teacher, needing to quickly switch over to a smock for the next project, somehow forgets to lock his desk when he temporarily moves his Sigsauer into the file drawer? It'll be a daily, unnecessary threat to classroom safety, multiplied daily by 10,000 classrooms across the country. Shit will go down and conflicts will ensue.

(4) It's uninformed. Think about all the minority youths and young adults who've been shot by police, many of whom were unarmed. But often even an armed civilian can and should be interdicted by the law without the police resorting to legal force. The internet's replete with images of armed white suspects being detained and cuffed. It's the oldest story in human civilization; the armed force of the state being used to control the unruly or nonconforming individual. But there's something in the American character that makes race a major determiner of how lethal a force the police are willing to exert to maintain order (tho not always law and order).

Do you image that teachers, gifted with the tools of tolerance and a philosophy of inclusion and equality, are going to behave with less racial discrimination than police will? I fear you imagine wrong. But it gets so much worse when you arm a bunch of teachers. Like it or not, police and teachers share one characteristic in the range of job duties they perform. Both professions require a public employee to assert control over a variety of civilian situations. A good cop will be in control of street confrontation, should the need arise. The good teacher is in control of her classroom while students pursue often individual learning events.

But the critical difference is that when confrontations arise, the police officer usually has the luxury of giving 100% of his focus on the individual needing to be contained, controlled, or corralled, when the peace of the community is at contention. And yet even with all their training, all too often police officers go into territorial mode and use too much force, too much lethal force, to control the people they confront. All too often the result leads to a hail of bullets flying about the open street. Sometimes the wrong innocent bystanders get struck by.

Now translate that same dynamic to a classroom. Only where a cop is charged with controlling a single situation with one or two agitated people (and even then, often reacting wrong and resorting to force), the teacher is often in a purposefully and creatively chaotic environment with multiple distractions, a plethora of moving parts, a thousand distractions going on simultaneously in enclosed space. -Great self-directed learning occurs in situations that may look (and often come close to) true chaos. Good teachers are taught to toe up to that line because that is where actively learning happens. Good teachers know how to still keep it safe, but of course sometimes things don't work out perfect. Kids are still kids. Should a heated incident arise, as happens with younger teens and their rollicking hormones, then reasserting control becomes important for the safely of the students that the teacher's responsible for.

And so, inevitably, when some kid with issues at home or some poorly controlled rough-housing slips in among the 30 active learning arcs playing out simultaneously, some teacher, with only a tiny fraction of the armed peace officer's training and experience, amid the confusion and the need to redirect the chaos, is going to over react.

And sadly, the human character is such, that if you put a tool in a person's hands, they will use that tool--even if it's very much the wrong tool. This human propensity is why the militarization of police forces since 2001 has led to the occasional, but periodic, misapplication of force. If you give cops urban assault vehicles, they'll use UAVs to resolve street situations even when hindsight discloses that a lesser application of force would have been better. This are all too frequent errors of judgment made by experienced, senior police officials. A rookie teacher with a gun trying to function in a stress-filled rambunctious class in a desperate moment will inevitably, tragicomically, and periodically make the same mistake. They'll have that perfect storm moment that all new teachers experience several times in their young careers and the gun will come out. Or a kid will grab for it. Or it'll fall from their holster. Or, if it's locked up, it'll be nudged out of the broom closet or off the book shelf and the box will pop open.

They'll be trained not to overreact, they'll be trained how to defuse these moments... and some times the training won't work.

How often will it happen? Once or twice a year across the country? Once or twice a month? I have no idea, but how many people are killed by armed curious toddlers every year? It sounds like a ridiculous premise, right? And yet in a typical year more Americans are killed by toddlers than terrorists. I know it sounds like a joke. But dumb things happen all the time in life. Especially in schools. I can't count the number of idiotic (and in hindsight laughable) incidents that could have been dangerous over the course of my 20+ year career. All teachers know what I'm talking about. Those moments are rare, but there are a million classrooms in America. Putting a gun in even 10% of them will inevitably produce, at regular intervals, needless tragedies.

And of course doing so won't do anything toward preventing yet another mass-shooting incident like we've saw in Florida last week. The worst part of the president's suggestion is that it's irrelevant to the problem we're all worried about. It's not just a band-aid on a wound; it's a band-aid on a wound put on the wrong knee. To sum up:

* Arming teacher won't prevent any shootings
* It's highly unlikely to even foreshorten any shooting sprees.
* It's damned likely to create circumstances in which new shootings occur.
* It's going to encourage a lot of people who shouldn't have gun to try out carrying one anyway.
and finally
* It's just another Republican thoughtless dodge ginned up without any thought applied to consequences or scale of funding.

Don't give me a gun.
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