Sadly, Being Nice Rarely Changes Things

While I’m usually pretty nice and well behaved here on my blog, it has happened a time or two in real life and on social media that I have been criticized for being too harsh, too dramatic and too provocative. The way I communicate has been called vulgar, bombastic, hateful, angry and divisive. More than one person has tried to plead with me (or shame me) to tone it down. Typically they claim that no one will listen to me because I’m alienating people. Clearly, I have not found these arguments or criticisms particularly persuasive.

To demonstrate why, take a look at these fascinating charts:

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Between 2009 and 2014, the percentage of white people claiming that we have done enough to give blacks equal rights vs those who say that more needs to be done remained stable. Most white people had declared mission accomplished. But by 2015, the positions had completely reversed with most white people suddenly deciding that we needed to do more to give blacks equal rights. What happened? Well, Black Lives Matters happened. Conflict happened. Protests happened. Arguments happened. Roads were blocked, events were disrupted, people shouted and refused to back down. A few even set shit on fire.

Much like me, BLM was criticized for being too harsh, too dramatic, too provocative. They were called vulgar, bombastic, hateful, angry and divisive. They were told that all they were doing was alienating people.  Right wing media engage in a demonic smear campaign against them to make J. Edgar Hoover do a jig in his grave. The leaders of BLM, however, had studied the history of non-violent social change and they knew better than to give the calls to simmer down and be nice any credence. And for all the criticism and complaints, people’s eyes started to open and their minds began to change. Their denial became less sustainable. In a very short amount of time, opinions flipped quite dramatically.

You see, the idea that we can get people to change their minds about important issues, come out of denial and recognize the error of their ways through civility and dialogue sounds high minded and reasonable. Except reality doesn’t actually work like that. It could, if people were better at listening, less defensive and less invested in victim blaming. But they’re not.

Which is why it is both good and necessary that we have some people who are willing to be obnoxious, piss everyone off and refuse to back down. People who are willing to have people think that they’re a jerk and talk shit about them and say nasty things to them. And while not everyone can or should be that sort of person, I am quite happy to be one of those people at this moment in history. I get that at any given moment. I have a fair number of people mad at, disgusted by or appalled at me. That’s OK. I’m a mom; it’s not a novel experience for me.

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Just How Out of Touch Are Trump and the Radical Right? Here’s the List

Image result for signs women's marchIf anyone is confused about why the country is in an uproar right now (aside from the fact that cheeto Mussolini just took office), consider the difference between what the American people want and what is being forced on us by our government and the radical right:
I’m sure there’s more, but those are the issues I could think of off the top of my head. If you would like to suggest other topics for me to research or know of polling on other topics you can direct me to, please leave a comment and I’ll add it to the list.
At any rate, the point is that right now we have a government pursuing policies which the majority of Americans disagree with, often by huge margins. For whatever reason, these people and their supporters seem to be under the impression that they matter more than the rest of us and that they are entitled to force their will on us. How did this happen, you ask? Seeing as we’re supposedly a democracy of the people, by the people and for the people and all. Well, it’s not because they’re winning more votes, that’s for sure:

Your Simple Act of Resistance For the Day 1/23

We’re in a bit of a quandary here with Trump. He is giving every appearance of being a despot in the making. It’s possible, he’s just an idiot savant who is going to be one of our worst presidents and we’ll recover. And maybe our institutions are strong enough to withstand any attempt by him to step too far outside the lines. But after the last year in particular, that seems like a foolish thing to put our hopes in. Institutions haven’t been doing so well for quite some time now.

So, for now, we do what we can figure out to do, learn what works and what doesn’t and stay alert. Not everyone will be willing or able to see the threat and respond to it, unfortunately. But I really do think that if those of us who are aware enough to be alarmed keep showing up, join forces and resist, we will come out on top. So it’s in that spirit that I’m giving you your simple act of resistance for today.

A group of former congressional staffers have put out a guide for best practices to get our legislators to listen and respond to us. It’s called Indivisible. Your assignment for today is to go to their site, bookmark it and download the guide. If you’re ready, you can also sign up to receive updates on calls to action and find groups forming in your area. If you’re not, you will have the guide available and be able to easily find the site again when/if the time comes that you know you need to get involved.

One of the reasons I’m sharing this site with you is because, unlike other advocacy groups, these folks are truly working from the grassroots. They’re not asking for money or compiling a list of email addresses to sell or solicit from. They’re just trying to provide an easy way for people to learn best practices, connect and keep abreast of what’s going on.

Alrighty then? Ready, set, go!

Trump Declares His Inauguration Day a “Day of Patriotic Devotion” #notajoke #notadrill

I’ve been arguing for months that it’s Trump’s intention to turn us into a Russian style oligarchy. So far, he’s done nothing to convince me otherwise. And now there’s this:

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Yes, that’s actually declaration, signed by Donald Trump, declaring the date of his inauguration to be “A Day of Patriotic Devotion”.

Honestly. I don’t even know what to say, except this is not a drill. This is really happening. I believe that if we the American people, who still believe in our values, constitution and way of life, continue to show up, we will stop this. But it’s definitely going to be a fight. Sigh.

Update: Apparently Obama also made a declaration regarding his inauguration day, except with a completely different, service oriented, non-fascist tone:

As I take the sacred oath of the highest office in the land, I am humbled by the responsibility placed upon my shoulders, renewed by the courage and decency of the American people, and fortified by my faith in an awesome God … On this Inauguration Day, we are reminded that we are heirs to over two centuries of American democracy, and that this legacy is not simply a birthright — it is a glorious burden. Now it falls to us to come together as a people to carry it forward once more.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 20, 2009, a National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation, and call upon all of our citizens to serve one another and the common purpose of remaking this Nation for our new century.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.

I wonder if this is going to be Trump’s tactic: to ape action’s Obama took while giving them a scary, fascist twist. His supporters are so far in denial that they’ll just point to whatever precedent Obama (or whoever) set and ignore the substance of the matter. I mean, I’m literally involved in an argument online right now with people advocating for jailing someone for sharing a dark fantasy, even in jest. Uuuuuuggggggghhhhhh.

What’s the Point of Protesting? #womensmarch

Image result for women's marchAfter the shudder and wretch inducing inauguration, the incredibly successful Women’s March on Saturday was balm for a lot of our souls. A reminder that Trump does not have the support of the American people. Which is all well and fine,  but what good does protesting actually do? Especially when the aims of the protest are so nebulous and ill defined? Even if we have the numbers, the bad guys have the power. Does all this marching and protesting actually matter? Are we just yelling to the wind as some critics have charged?

Well, I would argue that protests – especially large, noisy, hard to ignore protests do matter and will make a difference. And this is true even when there’s no specific policy goal or demands being made. Heck, the Republicans have spent the last 8 years (or longer) demonstrating that protest works, even when no one actually agrees with what you are trying to do.

The reason that protests work and are worthwhile has to do with the way that most people think about politics and the political process. Which is to say that they really don’t. Most Americans are what are referred to as “low information voters“, meaning that they aren’t keeping up with all the ins and outs of what’s going on in the political and policy world. And let’s face it, with the complexities and competing narratives surrounding politics, a lot of people are going to struggle to make sense of what’s going on even if they did paying attention. So what most people rely instead when forming their opinions are called heuristics, or rules of thumb, in evaluating the political sphere.

One of the important heuristics which people use when deciding whether a president (or party, but mainly the president) is doing well or not is the presence of open conflict. If there’s open conflict, that sends a signal to voters that the president is not doing his job well. If there’s relative quiet and things are getting done – even if they are things that voters don’t necessarily agree with – that sends a signal to voters that the president is doing a good enough job. This is a well documented phenomena which has strongly influenced which party holds power in the legislative branch for the last 30 years.

Typically, the conflict is created by the politicians from each party on capital hill. But given the Democrats’ demonstrable inability and unwillingness to provoke and sustain conflict, the work of creating conflict has fallen to the American people. While conservatives have been busy having a meltdown over the protests which basically amounts to screeching “shut up stupid women” over and over, this massive show of discontent and opposition sends a powerful signal to the average low information voter that there’s a problem. And when there’s a problem, it’s the president and his party which gets blamed.

Of course, one protest isn’t going to change things, popular though narratives about “protests that changed the course of history” are. In order to bring about change, there needs to be sustained efforts, protests and confrontations which keep the conflict front and center in the public’s eye. At this point it seems likely that those of us who oppose Trump aren’t going to settle quietly back into normal life. The election of Trump has already radicalized a significant number of people. And Trump appears determined to do his part to keep the movement motivated and active.

The problem we face is that Trump and the GOP are authoritarians who don’t much care what the public thinks or wants. And the GOP has managed to gerrymander and essentially cheat their way into a permanent grip on power. Which just makes it all the more important that we continue to engage in frequent, highly visible displays of opposition. While our opposition may not move Trump or lawmakers, the public has the expectation that the president will create peace, not turmoil. Really, there’s nothing that the average Joe blow wants less than a breakdown of social order and the ongoing presence of this conflict will send a powerful signal to them that the president is failing in his most basic tasks and duties.

The danger of pursuing a course of action which maximizes conflict is that Trump’s authoritarian impulses will lead him and/or his supporters to respond with a show of force meant to shut down opposition. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that the kinds of state violence which we observed against Standing Rock water protectors will become common place throughout the country.

However, a president who essentially goes to war against his own people will be signing his own resignation papers. Americans value peace and order (at least within our own borders), but at the very core of our identity is that we are a free people. We can be manipulated, but we’re damn hard to exert control over. No president who openly turns on masses of his own people will long endure. And when that president seems to be going out of his way to be as divisive and unpleasant as humanly possible, people are not likely to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I mention the possibility of provoking a dangerous, repressive response because we need to be honest with ourselves about what we’re dealing with. However, I don’t think it will come to that. While it’s been criticized by the “give cheeto Mussolini a chance” brigade, the fact that there is such intense opposition right out the gate will work to our advantage so long as we maintain it going forward. Donald Trump is a thin skinned, vengeful billionaire who isn’t used to engaging in fights that he can’t just buy his way out of. He’s also a megalomaniac who has to bring his own cheering section with him where ever he goes. Either he’s going to start trying to placate us (getting rid of his appointees and advisers who have ties to white nationalists would be a great place to start). Or he’s going to continue to misstep badly. Either way works to our advantage.

Never forget: both reality and the will of the American people are on our side. So protest away! It’s going to make all the difference.

Your Simple Act of Resistance 1/20

Image may contain: 1 person, textAlrighty, peeps. This is not a drill. Here’s your simple act of resistance for today. Use this website to look up your lawmaker’s phone numbers and program them into your phone. You’re much more likely to actually call them if you don’t have to look it up.

You’re going to be needing it. According to former legislative staffers, phone calls are the most effective way for constituents to be heard. They have to answer the phones. At least for now.

Ready, set, go! Get those numbers programmed!

Do You Think They’d Let Me Pet Their Unicorns If I Asked?

Many Trump supporters literally voted for a person who exists only in their head.

I first realized that there was something strange going on with Trump and his supporters during the primaries when a seemingly normal man I’m connected to on Facebook shared a Trump ad saying, “this is amazing! Wow. If everyone saw this, Trump would win in a landslide. Finally, someone who gets it.” (Or something like that, I’m working from memory.) So I watched the ad. All it was was Trump making declarative statements like “I’m going to make America great again. I’m going to create so many great jobs. Defeat terrorism. Stop crime. Balance the budget. Etc, etc, etc”. And that was it. Just Trump listing things that would happen if he was elected. No explanation, no context, no nothing.

Normally I have quite a knack for seeing things through other people’s eyes, but I was at a complete loss. What in the world did this guy think he was looking at? Was he under the impression that other politicians were campaigning on making America terrible, handing it over to terrorists, destroying the economy and increasing crime?

My suspicion is that Trump has triggered deep, deep authoritarian programming in people who are susceptible to it. Some of this comes from his strange manner of speech. But my sense is that once this authoritarian programming is triggered, it pretty well puts people into a child-like trusting state of the sort that they experienced as children growing up in an authoritarian setting. (Researchers have found that Trump supporters tend to have strong authoritarian impulses which typically result from growing up with authoritarian parents.)

But whatever is going on here, it’s just bizarre. Maybe the zombie apocalypse is real. Because these people are not in their right minds.

The Most Iconic Pictures of Donald Trump Ever

If I were in charge of a media outlet, these are the stock photos I would run alongside stories about him.

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Looks about right.

Might be light blogging today. My ankle’s not feeling great and these pain meds are making me feel kind of bleg. I have an appointment on Friday to switch the splint I’ve had on for the last 2 weeks for a hard cast and supposedly this will make me feel like a new woman. Here’s hoping. Prayers, good vibes, incense or whatever welcomed!

To All the Good, Decent People Supporting Donald Trump

16143192_1277634628970695_4412907211557642267_nTo all the Trump supporters who feel that the negative, nasty reaction you’re on the receiving end of from the left is unfair, here’s the thing that I don’t think some of y’all understand. There are bad people in this world. Really, really bad people. There are people who are just hateful. There are people who believe terrible things about innocent people merely on the basis of appearance, religion, opinion or whatever and would do those people harm if they could.

Not everyone means the best. Not everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. It’s not a majority of people who are terrible people. Not even close. But it’s not an insignificant number of people either. Those people are dangerous. They can and have destroyed individuals, families, organizations, communities and, when given enough power, entire countries. They do not care if they are an unpopular minority, if they can get their hands on some power, they are going to use it in ways that harm people.

Even if Trump’s not one of those people (and based on the evidence, I find that assertion doubtful), the fact still remains that he – and you – have shown a willingness to play alongside and empower really terrible people. And that’s scary for a lot of us. That’s what we are reacting to. And of course we’re going to fight tooth and nail against anything that further emboldens or empowers such people.

I am 100% confident that most people who voted for Trump are not terrible people and I’m sure it feels uncomfortable and unfair to be receiving so much blowback, especially given the options we had to choose from. But if y’all don’t take some responsibility for the fact that you and Trump have shown a willingness to play alongside and empower really terrible people who do not play by rules and do not have any real regard for the rest of us, you don’t get to be upset that you’re being caught in the crossfire. It’s what happens when you’re a corn snake in a copperhead den.

At this point it really is up to y’all to reach out to bridge the gap. You’re going to have to make the effort to see what things look like to those of us who are scared shitless to have a white nationalist as the president’s closest adviser. To see things from the perspective of those of us who worry about the consequences of decades of pure, raw hatred being directed towards so-called libraturds, feminazis, sjw’s, intellectuals and others who the rest of us know as neighbors and fellow countrymen.

During and after the election, at least a bajillion think pieces were written saying that we need to understand the concerns of Trump supporters, but I have seen zero, zip, nada, nunka, zilch talk of Trump supporters trying to understand the concerns of those of us who believe that Trump is going to destroy our country, take our way of life with it and potentially cost a lot of people their lives in the process. Relationships are a two way street. And from what I can see, the effort to make peace, empathize and understand is running one way and has been for quite some time. I’m done with it. Either the subjects of all those think pieces are going to take some responsibility for mending the divide or we are going to be in conflict. And I’m going to be belligerent about it. And I’m going to be relentless. And so are millions of other people.

If you don’t like the conflict, if it makes you uncomfortable and bewildered, then do something about it. Instead of dismissing people out of hand, denying their concerns and ridiculing them, how about you actually try to understand? Resist the urge to respond with a stock answer, to fall back on “s/he did it first/worst/to” or an attempt to find hypocrisy. Learn to absorb the blow from time to time when something you feel is unfair is said or you don’t like our tone or language rather than melting down and withdrawing – you’re an adult too, you can do that. Give those you disagree with some credit rather than assuming the worst about them. How about you assume that our concerns are genuine and not just attempts to dominate over you?  Maybe assume that there are really valid reasons that things look so different to those who disagree with you instead of writing off as media, ideology and what-not. Instead of just standing on your belief that you are right and those who disagree with you are wrong, how about you make the effort to actually engage in order to understand? We deserve it just as much as you do.

Oh, America, How Do I Love Thee?

It’s good to remember that one of the hallmarks of American character, going right back to the very beginning, has been that we tend to be uncooperative when we see fit. We enjoy a strong rule of law, but that’s never been one of the markers of our identity as Americans. Throwing tea into the harbor, running underground railroads and putting up speakeasies is more our style.

So, in that grand tradition, and because you deserve a laugh, allow me to share with you the response of the American people to Mike Pence’s attempt to get people to come to Trump’s inauguration. I’ve linked to it, but given the tenor of the comments, I expect it will be taken down at some point. So if the link doesn’t work, enjoy some screen shots of loyal Americans being assholes for the cause.

First we have the “things I’d rather do” category of comments:

id-rather

Then there’s the cracks about the Russians:

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more-russians

The political sniping:

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And it appears that many people have other engagements on that day:

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Many people plan will be available for future events, however:

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And then there’s the matter of your everlasting soul to consider:

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America. Home of the free and the land of the smartass.