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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 16,424

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Never Forget

Never forget that in 2008 America elected a BLACK MAN President. By a decisive margin. And re-elected him, in 2012. Again, by a decisive margin.

Never forget that the Queen of Soul sang "My Country, 'tis of Thee" at the Presidential Inauguration in 2009. And that again in 2015 she sang at the national cultural awards ceremony known as Kennedy Honors, and moved that President and an entire auditorium of eminent people to tears of joy.

Never forget that in 2015 a brilliant young musician of Puerto Rican heritage penned a libretto and music based on the life of a Caribbean immigrant who became one of the architects of American freedom, and broke the mold of Broadway, winning every possible award and blazing across the national cultural consciousness like a comet.

Never forget that >>write in your "so proud of my country and its accomplishments in evolving towards greater unity and greater humanity" accomplishment in a response, and I'll update this post with as many as I can<<

Never forget these things because THEY ARE AMERICA.

More than anything since, they represent the truth and the vision of who we are as a nation.

In 2016, a potent foreign enemy won a crushing victory against America. All the more so because although the attack was made in plain sight, Americans would not recognize it for what it was.

During the Soviet era, Russia built a vigorous and all-too-effective disinformation program against its principal adversary, America.

Soviet intelligence fabricated, produced, and disseminated information specifically targeted at two objectives: One was to sow distrust and opposition in the community of nations, toward American goals and actions. Any time America committed a mistake, or ended up with a lesser-of-evils options set, the Soviets would exploit it. If there was nothing to exploit, they would distort and fabricate. They were all too successful, all too often.

The other Soviet objective was to sow disunity and distrust within America itself, to exploit the fault lines in our diverse culture and population to exacerbate tensions already manifest as we Americans struggled to evolve towards universal civil rights, respect, and equity. Racism was a particularly beloved fault line and the Soviets created and encouraged all kinds of sham organizations, events, distorted press coverage, rumors and gossip to exacerbate the fault line.

Of course, in the early 1990s, "the Soviets" were no longer a factor.

But they never went away. They became simply "Russians."

And in the churning smash-and-grab oligarchy-building era of Russian political evolution, they had less time and energy for their old foreign adversary, until one oligarch managed to claw his way to the top.

And once he'd consolidated sufficient power and eliminated potent rivals at home, Putin set about rebuilding the Soviet empire, without the Soviet, of course. But something was standing in his way.

America had been a potent opponent of Russian hegemony for more than fifty years. And America was a big, fat, vulnerable target.

Sure, communications methods had changed a lot since the old KGB days. But the principles remained the same: Sow distrust, use disinformation. Use rumor and innuendo. Exaggerate and exploit real mistakes. Fabricate plausible fantasies. Aim them strategically. Use the new, cheaper, and woefully less secured new digital methods to the max.

Combine that with the same old, same old- exploiting human assets, using kompromat and bribery and subversion to build networks of enablers and useful idiots and willing shills. Move tools into ever-more-strategic positions.

Russia isn't new at this. They have decades of successful experience. Putin isn't new at this, and he's highly motivated.

This attack has been building for a long time.

And in November of 2016 it looked as though he'd won a major battle in his larger strategy.

Here's the deal: I don't think he's as happy with his victory now as he doubtless was in December of 2016.

Because for all the tools he's suborned and nurtured and moved carefully into position, America as a whole remains AMERICA.

We are too big, too complicated, too chaotic, too American to yield tamely and universally to the kind of subversion the Kremlin delivers.

Too many of us know that although darkness may endure for a night, MORNING COMES. And those things we will not forget, do not forget, those things we love and value, they remain.

And with the slow return of Light, those memories will power a renaissance of American evolution:

We will free our scientists to tackle the challenges of climate change, in concert with the world's best minds.

We will invite in the hopeful, the hardworking, the aspirational immigrants who will help us build a new American infrastructure.

We will reinvent health care and education to serve everyone.

We will reinvigorate economic development and evolve new ways to distribute entrepreneurial brilliance and its benefits more broadly.

We will work creatively with allies and even with adversaries to ensure that the whole world sees hope and experiences greater freedom and security.

We can do all of that, if we NEVER FORGET.

Keep the flame, my dear ones.

Keep the flame.


My White Privilege Moment Today

I feel ambiguous and guilty about benefiting from my white privilege in a very specific way today.

Don't get me wrong: I benefit from white privilege EVERY day. It allows me to walk around in a shielded bubble of never having to think about whether a store clerk is eyeing me distrustfully when I stop in to buy a lightbulb, never have to think about whether some ICEhole will ask to see my papers if I'm picking up a kid at school, never have to be conscious of how many of the people in pictures and movies and advertisements do/don't look like me... oh, all kinds of things, every single day.

Like a fish, I don't notice the water I've been breathing all along, except when I try to remind myself. When I try to pay attention. Which, honestly, isn't nearly often enough.

And then today I got my nose rubbed in my white privilege, pretty hard.

I made an illegal left turn. Right in front of a cop car.

Mind you, I didn't realize the left turn I was making was illegal. There was a sign, according to the cop who promptly pulled me over, but I didn't see it. Bad me.

Anyway, I made the left, and the cop car's flashers went on, and I thought, 'WTF? Is that for me?' even as I proceeded to a cutout and pulled over.

And as I was getting my wallet out of my purse, and opening the glove box for my registration, I was thinking, "What would I be feeling right now if my skin was brown?"

(I am so, so very white... Even in the middle of the summer after plenty of work in the garden, no one would ever mistake me for anything but white.)

And I thought, "Instead of being annoyed about possibly being late for my meeting, and about a potential fine for something, and possible points on my license if whatever I did was really horrific, I would be feeling terrified about possibly being yanked from the car, told to lie down on the ground, handcuffed, otherwise brutalized and/or traumatized, possibly arrested, and a whole cascade of other horrors to follow. I'd probably be worrying about that."

Instead, the pleasant-looking, youngish Anglo cop stuck his face toward the window as I lowered it, and asked nicely (with a "please, Ma'am", even) for my license, proof of insurance, and car registration. And let me reach into the glove box for the one, and into my wallet for the other two, and took them from me politely, while he explained that the left turn I'd just made was illegal.

And that there was a sign. And that it was illegal because it's unsafe to make a left turn there because cross-traffic blah-blah and signal blah-blah, and would I please remain in the car in the driver's seat for a 'few minutes'.

To which I nodded, of course. And he walked back to his car.

And I took out my cell phone to tell one of the people I had a meeting scheduled with, that I might be a few minutes late.

And while I was doing that, I thought, "If my skin was brown, would I reach for my cell phone, and hold it up where the cop could see it, and make this call?"

And I thought, "Fuck, no, I WOULD NOT. I would sit still like a mousie with my hands both on the wheel and pray like hell that the cop isn't in a prove-something mood today."

I finished my call, and put the phone away, and after another minute or two, the nice young white cop approached my window again, and told me he was issuing me a 'written warning', which would not involve a fine or a court appearance, and would I sign here, please?

And I thought, for just a moment I thought, about asking the nice young white cop, "Officer, if my skin were brown, would I be getting an actual ticket this time? Or worse?"

But of course, I didn't. #NotAllCops blah-blah and besides I'm chickenshit. I admit it. I chickened on that.

So I thanked the officer nicely, and signed where he pointed, and accepted my copy of the warning and my license and insurance certification and car registration back from him. And promised to drive safely and pay better attention to signs, yes, officer.

And while the officer went back to his car I put the documentation away and folded up the warning and put it away and started my car, and signaled to pull out, and carefully went on my way, driving as safely as I could for the whole rest of my journey.

And I wasn't even late to my meeting.


For me.

Because I'm white.

And I'm feeling so damned ambivalent right now. Of course I'm glad that I, personally, had no negative effects from the encounter.

But I'm sitting here wondering where I'd be, now, at this moment, if my skin were brown. Late for my meeting? Worrying about paying my fine and/or possible points on my license? In a holding cell?

In the fucking morgue?

White privilege sucks. Because I have it, that means lots of my neighbors and friends DON'T have it. They have to live with these calculations and thoughts every single day, and I hate that.

I wish it hadn't been white privilege that made my little encounter so harmless. I wish it were just the way things are for everyone.

I'll stay aware of how and why I benefit as I did today. And I'll do my best to just make it the way things are for everyone, in every way I can.


From now on, [Redacted] true believers are "Mumpsimusers" to me.

Or maybe mumpsimusi? Not sure of the correct plural. But the tag is precise.


A mumpsimus is an action by a person who adheres to a routine, idea, custom, set of beliefs, or a certain use of language that has been shown to be unreasonable or incorrect.


...someone who obstinately clings to an error, bad habit or prejudice, even after the foible has been exposed and the person humiliated; also, any error, bad habit, or prejudice clung to in this fashion

ahhh, the English language. There really is a word for everything!


Current Manafort Trial Isn't Even About Russia. Why is [Redacted] So Freaked?

Trick question, which WaPo answers in the first sentence of this article.

"President Trumpís former campaign chairman Paul Manafort went on trial Tuesday in federal court in Alexandria, Va., where prosecutors charged that his personal fortune was propped up by years of lies to tax authorities and banks."


From the nutshell: "His personal fortune was propped up by years of lies to tax authorities and banks."

THAT'S why [Redacted] is crapping his pants all over the tweeter machine right now. If they can actually prosecute a schlub like Manafort for THAT...

...OMG, whatta they gonna do to him?

He thought he'd get away clean. He's been getting away for decades. And now they're prosecuting someone for exactly what he's been doing all along.

Karma, dude.


Dear GOP: Clean Up Your Own Damn' Mess

While it is always heartening to see a GOPpie have a moment of clarity about the state of their Party, the answer is NOT for them to seek refuge with the Democratic Party.

It's not that we're not sympathetic, if somewhat exasperated ("WTF took you so long to figure it out?" )

It's not that we don't share a deep concern for the Constitution and the democratic process in America.

It's not that we don't appreciate their new-found clarity about the hot stinky mess that the GOP has landed in after the final precipitous slide and splash in the septic pool from their long downslope over the past FIVE DECADES (see "Southern Strategy".)

It's not that we don't want to save the nation we mutually love from Russian attacks and the American treasonweasels collaborating with them.

But no, the Democratic Party does not need more conservatives, even conservatives with functional IQs, a modicum of maturity, and an actual conscience.

Those are all good things, but even so, we neither need them nor will they benefit us in our work to restore American democracy and protect our republic from Russian attacks.

Whether it's the "best system" or not, America has evolved over many decades of Constitutional republican democracy into a TWO-Party system. Our political institutions have evolved to respond to the teeter-totter (or pendulum) model, if you will.

I'm not saying it's the best system. But our best hope for returning to a stance where we have full discretion and control over our own political destiny is to return the two-Party model to a fully American-controlled system, and work from there to make improvements in the electoral and political model.

I am old enough to remember when you could count on the GOP for a few things we could use right now:

1. A deep suspicion of Russian geopolitical influence and an implacable determination to oppose it in foreign and domestic policy.

2. A strong attachment to a free trade model that builds ties across nations and markets to enable stability and a modicum of predictability in economic planning.

3. An unshakeable support for the institutional well-being of America's Rule of Law.

It's hard for me to believe those things are gone altogether from your ranks.

But if you GOPpies having your moments of clarity keep jumping off that creaking rotten vessel, instead of staying there, heaving to, and FIXING YOUR OWN DAMN' PROBLEMS, those things will be gone, indeed.

And the Democratic Party will not be able to help.


A little suggestion for a Resistance action:

Solicit donations to buy a few thousand copies of the US Flag Code. (I believe the VFW and the American Legion have pamphlet/brochure versions available.)

Show up at MAGAt rallies and politely hand out free copies to anyone/everyone engaging in flag desecration.

Including this individual:


It's a subtle strategy, but I bet it would have some very interesting effects.

I got a certification in "Flag Etiquette" way back as a child in Campfire. I memorized Chapter 4, Title 1, Paragraph 8 of the US Code, recited it, and did a display on correct flag display.

That stuff sticks with you. It still sets my teeth on edge every time I see a tattered, dirty flag waving from a truck strut, or see some idiot in a flag garment.

We were careful, in 1976 for the Bicentennial, to ensure that our flag-themed apparel was limited to correct display references- colors, bunting-style trim, etc.

"The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing." Treat it with proper respect, do not weaponize it.


I'm Not Giving Up

I bought postcards today.

Tomorrow we are going to the Families Belong Together vigil here in my home town.

I will continue encouraging young people to register and vote. I will help with GOTV efforts.

I will write and call and march in support of all I believe in.

I will donate more, to causes and candidates.

I will be alert for opportunities to do more.

I'm not giving up.

I won't give up no matter how long it takes.

I will work for the restoration of America, and the progress to equity and diversity, peace and justice, until life leaves my body.

I will bequeathe this work to my daughter and my grandson.

I am not giving up.

No matter what.


I bought a supply of blank postcards today. And postcard stamps.

I will be sending three post cards each day.

One will always go to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The other two will vary.

The ones for Pennsylvania Avenue will always have some variety of this message: "HAVE YOU RETURNED THE CHILDREN YET?"

The others will depend. Ones going to my Democratic Congresscritters, and Dem leadership, will have variations on "WHAT DID YOU DO TO REUNITE IMMIGRANT FAMILIES TODAY?" Or "PLEASE ASK WHEN THE CHILDREN WILL BE RETURNED."

Ones going to GOP Congressional leadership and Federal bureaucrats will be along the lines of the ones going to Pennsylvania Avenue, and maybe "STILL TORTURING CHILDREN?"

You can get 200 printable postcards for about twelve bucks at Amazon. They're a bit more at the office supply store, but it works out to about ten to fifteen cents a postcard.

Postcard stamps are thirty-five cents apiece.

I figured I could afford about a buck-fifty a day to remind those who putatively "lead" us of basic priorities.

For as long as it takes.

When I was about three, we were at summer vacation at the lake cabin. My Mom took me into town with her to do the shopping. She was wearing light blue pedal pushers and white sneakers. When we got to the store, at one point I got distracted by something. I turned and looked for her.

Seeing light blue pedal pushers and white sneakers, I ran after them.

And then looked up.


More than fifty years later, I remember the horror and sense of terrified abandonment that overwhelmed me.

Fortunately, my Mom was at the meat counter at the end of the aisle, not being marched off to a bus to take her to her concentration camp.

To anyone who claims that what is being done to thousands of children is not "torture", I can only say that if more than fifty years later I have vivid memories of that incident, I would not want to live with the memories these children-- and their parents-- are going to have.


Yes, I have other priorities, too. I'm upset about the Supreme Court, I'm doing what I can to encourage young voters to register, I will do my best to combat vote suppression, prevent Americans from losing their health insurance, and plenty of other issues.

Those are all important.

But right now, what matters MOST-- the number one priority for me and (I hope!) for every American who has beein either a parent or a child (that would be all of us, wouldn't it?) is to stop the torture of these children and their families, and reunite them as soon as possible.

It's a PRESENT evil, an IMMEDIATE evil, and an evil we have a clear moral mandate and personal power as citizens with voices to fight, for everything we are worth.


So, it's gonna be a long fight. Did you really expect otherwise?

This is not the first time the Supreme Court has gleefully torched the Constitution. There have been other Courts, other Chief Justices that have done their damnedest to burn down democracy. (see, among others: Taney, Roger)

This is not the first time Congress has been controlled by a majority wholly owned by and subservient to a cabal of greedy, racist, xenophobic oligarchs willing to sell their own grandchildren for a tax break.

This is not the first time a President has betrayed the most basic principles of human decency.

And YES, it's not the first time all three branches of government have looked as though they're the oncoming train of Total Destruction.

And we survived.

And the pendulum swung.

It cost lives, it cost pain, it cost hard, hard losses for generations.

I did not want to see another such fight in my lifetime.

But we have it.

And we can win it.

It will not be a quick turnaround.

In this case, previous generations had the advantage of us because they were accustomed to longer time horizons for change. They didn't have the life experience of breathtakingly fast cultural, technological and economic change that we have seen.

But politics is rooted in human nature, and human nature doesn't turn on a dime. There is no one event, no one factor that will read the same to everyone and make everyone say "Woah! This changes everything!" That doesn't happen. People are invested in this or that aspect of a status quo they find comforting, even if some other aspect displeases them. Loss aversion is powerful. Fear of the unknown is powerful.

This is not a simple battle, it's a complex WAR.

The long game is not won by defeatism, nor is it advanced by unrealistic expectations.

The long game depends on steady effort, on opportunistic flexibility serving a clear and overarching strategy. On the slow building of solidarity. On determination to ensure the survival, not of our generation, but of our children's grandchildren. On willingness to sacrifice.

Those are the qualities we need now.

Yes, we can give ourselves a short interval to run in circles, scream and shout, express our horror and dismay.

The shorter the better.

There's work to be done, lots of it.

How many people have you registered to vote this week?

How many town/city/county council meetings have you attended?

How many volunteer hours have you put in at a candidate or party event?

How many letters to the editor have you written?

How many postcards have you sent to your elected representatives?

How many hours have you been in the streets, carrying a sign?

You're not alone.

If you're feeling alone, do some of those things just listed above-- they'll connect you with the fight.

Connect, and stay connected.

...to be continued...


Liberals "Going High" on the Other Side of the Red Line

I seriously doubt that Michelle Obama, who famously said "When they go low, we go high," is walking around scolding people like Stephanie Wilkinson for 'being rude' or 'descending to their level' or whatever they're calling it today on the liberals-must-be-nice fainting couch.

There is always a Red Line.

That being the term for "beyond this point, imputing moral ambiguity to something appalling is wishful thinking at best and much more probably sheer lazy-ass, conflict-avoidant enabling."

David Roberts explained it, on the Twitwaves (here it is threadified for those who avoid that particular scrum):

7. The most insidious thing about the descent into illiberalism is that it is incremental. There's no dramatic moment, no Rubicon. Every step seems bad, but only a little worse than the previous step. Smart autocrats are careful not to provide that moment.
9. When lefties have tried to draw a line, create a moment, force a reckoning, the establishment has united in a single voice to say: calm down. Let's be civil & work together. Let's not raise our voices or be shrill. Both sides do it. We're still in Normal Politics.
11. By jailing toddlers, Trump has potentially made a mistake. Instead of incremental illiberalism, this seems like a jump, something to shock the conscience. It is yet another opportunity for a Moment, a time for the rest of us to say: no. This is not normal. It's not ok.

The Forces of Evil (FoE) know this: If they can keep us arguing about where the Red Line is, and whether any particular action actually crosses it, they can a) generally escape any consequences of their actions; and b) get the liberals-must-be-nice fainting couch crowd to do their pushback for them. Thus the incrementalist tactics.

Above all else, they want to avoid a consensus coalescing around "THAT was the Red Line, and they have UNEQUIVOCALLY broad-jumped across it in a single bound."

Having done exactly that, they're now frantically looking to the fainting couch for cover.

So, listen up, please, to a few words about "going high" and what that is, once we're on the other side of the Red Line.

"Going high" is not:

    > Acquiescing silently to evil.
    > Refraining from identifying the evil of particular actions.
    > Avoiding calling out those who participate, enable, or defend evil actions.
    > Leaving wiggle room by focusing on the motivation of those participating, enabling or defending evil actions, rather than the evil effects of the actions.
    > Scolding those who shine the light, identify evil, and/or resist evil for being 'uncivil' in doing so.

Is that much, at least, clear?

"Going high", therefore, can be identified by the opposite of what it is not:

    > "Going high" includes speaking out when evil is present, and expressing opposition.
    > "Going high" includes explaining the specific moral repugnance of the evil in question.
    > "Going high" includes calling out those who participate, enable or defend evil.
    > "Going high" includes demanding accountability for the damage of those evil actions.
    > "Going high" includes refraining from discouraging those who would resist evil, unless their methods of resistance are also unequivocally evil.

And it is possible to do ALL of those things from a stance of maturity, clarity, and strength. Going high is exactly that:

Rather than letting moral outrage descend to tit-for-tat name calling and emotion-driven but childish retaliation, going high involves standing firm, stating clearly the evil, and calmly refusing to cooperate, condone, or remain silent in its favor.

Going high is demonstrating the moral principles that have been transgressed-- as when the crowd gathered at the New York airport to express love and support for the refugee children.

Going high can involve breaking rules or even breaking the law-- but doing so using the principles of nonviolent resistance.

Going high is calmly telling someone involved in evil, "You have done/enabled/defended this terrible thing. I will not allow you to escape the consequences of your action by pretending you have not done it. Nor will I enable your attempts to enjoy the normal pleasures available to decent human beings in public venues, untainted by the evil of your actions."

Going high is following through on that moral conviction, with firm serenity.

Yes, when they go low, we CAN go high.

Doing so is the best way to keep them from whining around the fainting couch, and in a media environment tainted by a mistaken belief that bothsiderism is journalistic objectivity and "civility" is defined as "inoffensiveness", it can be a potent tactic.


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