Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Saturday, January 21, 2017
There is a regular refrain which springs up from one person or another anytime that any variation of sentiment surrounding Trump's longevity in office, whether that longevity is tied to his own longevity or his will and/or ability to stay in office, and that is that "Pence is worse."
I used to think that might be true. But I am just not buying it anymore.
Mike Pence is hard right conservative and a fundie. Neither of these appeals to my worldview. I cannot imagine I would be a fan of a Pence presidency. But he would have been worse than an imaginary Trump, a Trump we hoped might emerge. The Trump who people on the left who urged on November 9th "to give him a chance" had their fingers crossed would rise from the ashes of a dysfunctional election to show true colors which included turning his back on vast portions of his rhetoric, and who, being the obviously inconsistent bag of shit he is, would return to supporting all manner of progressive policies he years prior spoke in favour of. We got the tiniest sliver of that Trump. He cavalierly ditched his plans to throw Hillary in jail, and then appointed Bannon to his staff and things spiraled into bat-shit from there.
With Mike Pence, there would be a civil human being in the Oval Office. With Mike Pence there would be someone with an understanding and appreciation of the political process. With Mike Pence there would be someone who has read the Constitution in the highest office. With Mike Pence there would be someone who has actually considered the realities of foreign policy and national security and the intelligence community. With Mike Pence there would be someone who considers what he says before he tweets. With Mike Pence, the state of complete assholerry would not be actively normalized and empowered and all over the news demonstrating to our kids that being a childishly self-involved liar is a viable course to ascension.
I see nothing - no policy, no appointment, no process, no dictate - that Pence would clearly make worse choices on.
Fuck WYSIWYG. We saw and we got it. I no longer accept that putting up with the abject incivility of it all is the least of evils.
Mike Pence is still crap. But at least not one is pissing on the crap before they have us eat shit.
Thursday, December 22, 2016
Saturday, November 05, 2016
Barring any huge changes in the state of things, this is going to be the last thing of any substance I'm going to post beyond some possible snark and observation on Election Day. It's NaNoWroMo and I am 6000+ words in and don't have time to be writing this - except I couldn't live with myself if I didn't say it all one last time in as clear terms as I could muster.
I know you are disaffected and you think both the other candidates are as bad as one another. (They aren't - see #3 below.) I know you are tired of the status quo. I got it. I heard it. I am even with you for the most part... except one critical thing... NONE of the options other than the nominees of the two major parties are actually going to win, so don't waste your vote. Its practically as bad as not voting. No. I take that back. It's worse, 'cause you actually got to the polls and then wilfully did something asinine.
"But how will the third parties (the fact that that is plural is hilarious and just goes to show how ineffectual the alternate options are) ever get enough traction to compete, if we don't vote for them for realz in a Federal election?" Well for starters - this simply isn't the year. It's not. And not because this election is "soooo" historic - I'd have said that for each of the last four elections too, and at this point imagine I will in 2020. But because the foundation has not been set. The third parties need to work from the small up. You get traction locally. Then Statewide. THEN Federally. Here's the bad news - it takes a long time. I am pretty confident that I will never see a real third party in a US election. It took the NDP from before I was born until 2011 to get so far as being the official opposition in Canada. Our "fourth" party in Canada has been at it since I was 13 and has won ONE SEAT in the House of Commons in Ottawa. It grew from 11 independent candidates in Atlantic Canada with common ideals to the fledgling Federal actor it is today. If you want a third party to bloom, it takes time, and it has to build up to relevance from small winnable contests before it can legitimately challenge for the title. Sorry. It would be great if reality was different. But this isn't the year. Go out and run locally under the third party banner of your choice in 2018 if you want to see that change. But vote Democrat (or Republican) on November 8th 2016, 'cause when you get right down to it, you DO care which of the real options prevail.
3) Vote for Clinton. You probably are voting for Clinton if you can vote and are reading this. SO, feel free to stop here. If you are voting for Trump... please work through the following... (but you won't because, I just might say something that clashes with your dearly held position and makes you uncomfortable.)
- Are you rich and have your ability to get richer at the top of your "must haves" list when picking a candidate? Well, go fucking vote Trump then. I still think you are making a mistake. I imagine that you are making a mistake if you game-out the long-haul, but who am I kidding, you aren't listening to me anyway.
- Are you any one or more of: homophobic, racist, misogynist, war-mongering, or sociopathic? No? Then you have no reason to vote for Trump. Just stop it.
- "Second amendment, YAR!" Your guns are safe... or rather... your guns aren't going to be taken away from you, no matter who you vote for. Really. REALLY. But let's talk about the second amendment in more detail next week, okay? Go vote for Hillary.
- You think Clinton is worse than Trump, no matter what he is. Okay... I know it is really late in the game to be working this angle, because none of us have much time, do we? And there is SO much to unpack here. But seriously. Take your pet argument and its reasonable counter argument and go and look at the facts. Don't take the word of either candidate as gospel. Identify any element of the argument where the two sides disagree and do some hard Googling. Google keywords about the argument. Add "pro" and "con" and "debunk" and "fact" and "explained" and "Republican" and "Democrat" to the key word searches (separately) and read more than one article on BOTH sides of the debate. If you see an article that opposes your view - definitely read that one. If articles don't provide specific references to verifiable facts, then give them less weight than those that do. (Way less, honestly.) Sleep on it all. If you still think Hillary is worse than Trump, I'm going to want to rescind point number one above about voting... but I have integrity. If you are thinking maybe there is something to the alternate viewpoint - take your second favourite argument and see how the facts stack up.
- You aren't racist. You aren't a misogynist. You aren't a homophobe. But the US is going to hell in a hand-basket and Donald is the first candidate who is really saying it like it is. Look. This is going to be hard to hear, but he is taking advantage of you. He is. He is saying exactly what you want to hear. He is playing upon your fears (and other emotions) without any regard for reality. He is inciting you to look at everything in your life that you aren't happy with and he is blaming it on other people and promising he can fix it without saying how. "He has plans. Big plans." But what are they? You can't tell me that. "He's going to deport all the illegal immigrants." Well, that is what he says... but how does he plan to do that? You don't have to go far along his intended course of action before things become vague and unformed and unactionable. He has no interest in you. He only has interest in his own empire and the next step in building it even bigger is to be President, so he can tweak the laws further in favor of him and his kind - who have been preying on you for generations. He is turning you against people who have been preyed upon even harder than you, making you think they are the problem, when they are being victimised by him and his sort just like you. He wants you to blame someone other than him, so he shouts that he can fix the problem and points at people not too different from yourself and claims they are at fault. AND then whenever he can get away with it, he tells them similar things. He has claimed that things will be better in the United States for various minorities under his Presidency and then told other groups of people how those minorities are the ones to blame for how shitty things are. For starters, things aren't half as shitty as you imagine they are - I know that's hard to believe, but just watch a few YouTube videos about life in Guatemala or Mogadishu or Mosul or Bangladesh or really, most of the places on the planet that aren't North America, Western Europe, Japan or a handful of highly functioning metropolises scattered elsewhere on the globe. America is totally great. Still and already. And yeah, it could be better, but not by making it worse for the people below you. That is only going to make America a contemptuous place inside and out.
FOR FUCK SAKE. DON'T DO THIS. DO NOT LET THIS MAN BE YOUR PRESIDENT.
I assure you that if you do, we - the REST OF THE PLANET - are finished with America as the accepted beacon of hope and light and the global leader of what human civilization can aspire towards. Honestly, you may not easily be able to undo the damage you have done in that direction already. The world may well have passed "Peak 'Merica," it is certainly worth debate, but if Trump is in the White House, the debate is over, you will have, with irony, made a mockery of everything that was ever truly great about the United States.
So vote for imperfect, not-a-criminal, well-prepared-with-a-staggering-amount-of-relevant-experience, first-female-to-hold-the-position, Hillary. And if that is not "good-enough," then get to work on Bernie 2.0 or Paul Ryan back-to-the-GOP-log-house or Jill Stein for Massachusetts' 5th Congressional District 2020, or whatever your version "better future" is.
Friday, August 19, 2016
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
By the time you read this, it will be old news. In fact it was practically old news by the time it happened. Yesterday something pretty amazing happened. Something that was a foregone conclusion by the time it happened. But something that had taken far longer to happen than it rightfully should have.* For the first time in history a woman was nominated to run for the President of the United States.**
It didn't happen here. Canada has already had a woman as Prime Minister, but we have yet to have a woman lead a party to victory, so we ourselves have some ground to cover. But the US is not only our (get ready for a few cliches) the big dog in the yard and our closest ally, but also totally fascinating - and fascinated with itself, so its hard to ignore. For all its myriad failures, it does get a lot of things right... or it least it has been - we shall see what happens in November.
Come November we will be witness to one of two things - either a woman will be President of the US for the first time, and that is pretty exciting; or the most objectionable candidate ever*** will be in office and while I don't want to be one of the historical cycle of sirens of the end-times who think the Golden Years are behind us, if Donald Trump becomes President, things are sure going to get interesting and while its likely to be entertaining, it isn't likely to be the sort of entertainment the world wants.
I really want to believe in this moment in our better angels. I want a world for you where you can reflect back on the day your Dad told you that this amazing moment in history had just happened and how it meant nothing to you at the time, and that though you hardly recall what it was like before you are so blessed to live in a true Golden Era where the bounds of equality are more inclusive than any generation before, where you, as a woman know no limits to what you may achieve. Where the men at your elbows are friends and colleagues and equals and no-one bears a false imprimatur of value based upon birthright of any measure.
Anyway... when you read this in whatever future manifests, the day I just spoke of - that was yesterday for me.
*Note that Hillary Clinton losing the Democratic nomination in '08 should not be considered a social failure. Everything that was lost in women's causes was gained and more by people of colour.
**I acknowledge that other women have been in contention in the past as Vice-Presidential candidates, running for nomination without achieving it and running as nominees of parties that are politically irrelevant in terms of their ability to launch a campaign with any (let alone realistic) chance of success. Being didactic about this diminishes the impact of the actual achievement, I don't want to delve any further into it at this point.
***Yup, even more so than Nixon - his pinnacle of vilification came after he was elected.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Bring it All Back – from Road Apples
Sunday, November 08, 2015
Remembrance Day Musings on Lieutenant-Colonel Harjit Sajjan, Minster of National Defence - Guest Post by C. Scott John
A good friend of mine posted a really fantastic reflection about his experiences in the military reflected in the light of Harjit Sajjan being named Minister of National Defence. Scott entered the military at the same time as Sajjan (as is outlined below) and had some experience with Sajjan over their years of service. I'll let Scott fill in the details.
Scott posted this on Facebook and it immediately had a response from people that they would like to share it - I heartily agree, and thus I am doing my part here with permission of the author.
Over to Scott...
My semi-regular Remembrance Day musings ( I know I am early, but I have toddlers so have to take advantage of any free time I have).
I am thinking of current affairs this year. I am sure everyone has heard of Harjit Sajjan being appointed as Minister of National Defence.
While I certainly can't claim to really know him on a personal level, I met and had conversations with him on a professional basis quite a number of times.
I joined the military at the same time and place he did,1989 in Vancouver and was able to bear some witness to his experiences firsthand. The community of soldiers in Vancouver was and is quite small and most of us knew each other to some extent.
It might be shocking to think that at that time turbans were not allowed in the RCMP and were effectively unheard of in the military. Even years later, Sikhs were not even allowed to enter Canadian Legions because of a rule insisting that they had to remove their headdress. He would have been allowed to march in the Remembrance Day parade and attend festivities which almost certainly terminated at a Legion, but not come and sit with his colleagues for the many hours of stories and celebrations afterwards (even if he didn't drink alcohol). I wish I could sit down and ask him about how it felt for him on that most important of days for a soldier to feel unwelcome and excluded from the camaraderie of those who had donned a uniform.. Was there a place for him where he was welcomed in those early days? I hope so.
The Forces at the time were not exactly bastions of individual liberty that embraced uniqueness. Heck, it took a decade to convince them that my desire to have a left handed holster for my pistol (which as a Military Police officer could have been the difference between life and death) wasn't just me wanting to disrupt good order and discipline. Even then I had to go buy it myself as it would have been unseemly to actually issue me one.
Minister Sajjan was one of the first to test those rules and the institutional intolerance and racism. I have heard that he was refused from one army regiment before he was "allowed" to join another.
His being allowed to wear a turban with his uniform was big news in every mess around the area, and universally decried as offensive. Comments ranged from mere condemnation of him not wanting to be "like us"... all the way to threats of violence.
I wish I could say I was a bigger defender of his rights, I largely ignored it as just talk. The only time I remember calling someone on their crap was when someone was making the comments that it was unsafe to allow him to serve because he couldn't wear a gas mask and helmet... I recall shrugging my shoulders and saying that they have somehow managed in the Indian and British armies for the last couple hundred years.
My first impression of him as a young officer (I don't recall having spoken with him before he was commissioned) was that he was cold and unfriendly... as an MP that wasn't too odd of a reaction to my presence so it never really occurred to me that it could have been a result of battling daily against near universal disdain for his turban from low level soldiers, all the way up the chain of command to the most senior officers.
As time passed, it seemed like everyone just got used to seeing him, though in my own experience I didn't see a lot of overt acceptance... I wasn't a part of his regiment and left the military in 2005, so I only have an observer's perspective. I can only assume that within his own unit, he more quickly just became another soldier to be judged on his merits.
Fast forward to a few days ago. He was appointed as the Minister responsible for the entire Canadian Military (what the hell did I do with my life if we both started at the same time and he managed that).
I have many friends who served in the military and belong to a number of veteran related groups. The response to his appointment has been effectively universally hailed as a major victory by soldiers of all political persuasions. One of "us" (an actual soldier) was now in charge. ONE OF US... let that resonate a little.
In my own experience, I can tie a thread from my first days in the military where he was considered an unwelcome anomaly... all the way to him being lauded as a standard bearer for all soldiers.
I feel like I was a witness to history, something that will or should be in textbooks for students to learn in every high school social studies class.
I think it is important to remember that some of these battles are recent, some yet to even be fought. At the same time I amazed at how far we have come in my own time. While it may seem to be glacially-paced to those living it, in the perspective of history it will be considered to have happened at lightning speed... within the arc of a single man's career.
This Remembrance Day I will be scanning the faces of the soldiers walking by on parade and will be paying special attention to the various colours of skin, diversity, and whether there are a few more turbans on the heads of young Sikh warriors. I will see it as a trail blazoned by pioneers such as Minister Sajjan and others. I will stand a little straighter in my own uniform because of it.
Wednesday, September 02, 2015
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
I'm not going to try to gloss over the fact that he made a metric fuck ton of shit in his career - perhaps even more shit than good - but the good, the great was game changing. I say this as someone who was unmoved by Garp, Mrs. Doubtfire, Good Morning Vietnam or Dead Poets' Society. Take those four off the board and there is still Jumanji, Aladdin, Good Will Hunting, Awakenings and that time he broke how situation comedies worked... Mork and Mindy. With that kind of resume, who cares that he also did Toys, Jack, Death to Smootchy and, yes, The Crazy Ones? He had plenty to take pride in. And yet... Fame, fortune, awards and accolades, respect and love meant jack shit in the end.
It wasn't exactly a secret that he was troubled, yet most of us managed to ignore it. But looking back... Mork's smile seems pretty forced, and most of his most brilliant (and even joyous) roles (even those I felt unmoved by) were all deeply steeped in melancholy. He was the Charlie Chaplin of the turn of the 20th/21st Centuries. A genius comic, whose comic insight was born in an immortal sadness that also made him a great dramatic actor.
All of a sudden it seems a miracle we had him around as long as we did.
This is going to sound bad at first, but perhaps his death by his own hand was the right way for him to go - his last blessing upon the world. Perhaps the spotlight that his death is putting upon depression is what the illness needs. A bit perhaps like Rock Hudson did for the AIDS crisis. It's not quite the right comparison, but its about as close as we are likely to find.
I never met Robin Williams, but I do have an odd and ironic connection to him. Ask me about it some day - this isn't the place. But none the less, when I got the news, I quit thinking of Robins Williams in terms of Hook, Club Paradise, RV and the other detritus that fills up his body of work - 'cause that stuff doesn't matter. Those are the performances that happen when someone is willing to take a risk - and his entire career was built upon taking those kinds of leaps. Every now and then his leaps would lead to something like The Fisher King - a performance of divine beauty... and that (to be selfish for a moment) is what we are really being robbed of. And for that I cried. In public. It was small, but I couldn't hide it. A cashier at the toy store I was in brought me a tissue (I credit her for being really observant) and I coaxed my daughter outside, where she asked me "Daddy, why are you talking funny?" I don't think I could possibly explain to her the loss I felt - so many of us felt these past two days. I urged her to go play in the waterpark, while hundreds of other people also ran about gleefully too - clearly none of them had received the news....