Monday, February 27, 2017

Why do they keep putting the Rats in Democrats?

Before I say anything else, let me make it clear that I am not a partisan of any of the people that will be mentioned below. I'm merely making my observations as an interested observer. I am not a Democrat, or a member of any political party at this time. At this point in our evolution, I think that the Democrat/Republican duopoly of "choice" does far more harm than good to our political system - which then does far more harm than good to our country overall.

Now, having gotten that out of the way...Isn't it disappointing that the Democratic National Committee has voted to install (in every sense of the word) loyal, corrupt and uninspiring Tom Perez as their chair? Mind you, as I stated above, I am not necessarily a Keith Ellison partisan by any means. He was not a perfect candidate, and didn't actually excite me all that much.

BUT...He had the support of the two national Democrats who still can inspire something close to, well, inspiration, Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. As a black man, and the first Muslim elected to Congress, Ellison also could have served as a potent symbol of the Democratic Party's (supposed) inclusivity, especially in the time of Trump.

Instead, the DNC chose to elevate former labor secretary Tom Perez, someone who elicits little if any excitement from the progressives who are literally out on the streets protesting and fighting the Trump agenda. So why Perez? I mean, why was he even in the race for DNC chair in the first place? Let me quote Zaid Jilani's recent article in The Intercept to answer: "Perez was widely perceived as being brought into the race by allies of President Obama, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and other members of the party establishment."

All of which would probably be fine, if. That is to say, if Obama had not presided over a party that spent the last several election cycles shrinking and becoming ever more marginalized. If Clinton had won the election, or could even be said to have run a campaign that was meaningful and inspiring and tapped into something, anything, other than her desire to be president. I would also throw in if it had not been shown that the DNC conspired with the Clinton campaign to hobble the Sanders campaign. You know, the one that generated genuine excitement and enthusiasm, and, in positive ways, challenged the status quo.

Well, the status quo has struck back - again. Corporate lobbyists and Haim Saban can now officially rejoice. As for the rest of us...

...As for the rest of us, I certainly hope that people don't just fall into line. I hope that people won't be silent. The Democratic Party is laying there bleeding, having been viciously beaten for the past few years, and the DNC is the police officer waving us to move on, saying "Nothing to see here, nothing to see!" The fact that the "party establishment" sees Tom Perez as a good choice should be alarming to progressives and Democrats alike - not comforting.

Trump has authority, but no legitimacy. Currently, the Democratic Party has little of either. And so long as the DNC keeps pretending that nothing is wrong, that there are no internal problems, they will be unfit to serve as the opposition to the Trump agenda, and could even serve as a threat magnifier. Much of his strength is built on a foundation of their weakness.

Stop being weak, Democrats. Please.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Banality of Evil

As our entire nation...No, wait, as the entire world tries to deal with the unceasing gusher of lies coming out of the Trump administration, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. So many lies, so many distortions, so many intentional omissions...Who has the time to keep up with them all?

A central theme of these many mistruths is our supposed "at risk" status, coupled with Trump's hollow promises to "keep America safe." Trump knows it's easier to sell the safety when you give 'em the fear, and the minority of the population that believes him eats up fear like it's candy. They can't get enough of it. (Some other time we'll have the conversation about how so many people of a conservative political persuasion are so susceptible to fear...)

And so, following the KISS principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid), Trump would have us all believe that we are all in imminent danger from radical Islamic terrorists who may be hiding in our midst. This introduces the element of danger, which, when paired with the unknown ("Gosh, maybe my neighbor is a radical Islamic terrorist!") creates a low bar for proof, but a high degree of unease.

Never mind that, statistically speaking, it's all a bunch of nonsense.

Now, mind you, I readily admit there are likely to be radical Islamic terrorists within our borders, plotting ways to do people harm. But, the fact remains, those who are statistically more likely to do Americans harm are often able to hide in plain sight.

Above you'll see a mugshot of Benjamin Thomas McDowell, then 23 years old, of Conway, South Carolina. This mugshot is from April 4th, 2011, when he was charged with Burglary and Criminal Conspiracy. Now much to look at, is he? Just another nondescript, pudgy white boy.

Here's McDowell's mugshot from May 21st, 2013, when he was, once again, charged with burglary. Nothing seems to have changed. Same double chin, same orange jumpsuit. He was 26 years old.

Later the same year, on August 27th, McDowell was arrested again, this time for Assault and Domestic Violence. He was still 26 years old, still living at home. By this time, he has had some racist right-wing tattoos inked onto his doughy body. You have to wonder...Did his mom even notice?
And here is Benjamin McDowell just a day ago, after the feds arrested him for planning to commit a racist massacre in "tribute" to fellow disgruntled white racist murderer, Dylan Roof. Not necessarily what you'd guess if just shown this mugshot of someone who still just comes across as a nondescript, pudgy white boy.
But that's the point. There absolutely are dangers in our midst, especially for people of color, gay, lesbian and trans people, immigrants, Jewish people, and, yes, Muslim people. Statistically speaking, you are much, much more likely to be a victim of a homegrown right-wing terrorist than any other kind. In other words, essentially all the groups that Trump is trying to make you afraid of are actually groups who, in the distribution of violence in America, have much more to fear themselves.
Trump's already infamous seven nation "travel ban" was pitched as a safety measure. Yet, in the last 40 years, how many Americans have been killed here by attacks perpetrated by people from those seven nations? That would be zero. As in, zero deaths. None.
In that same time period, hundreds of people have been killed by homegrown right-wing terrorists. And those terrorists could often be described as nondescript white guys. The type of white guys who have started acting out in even greater numbers since Trump's election. So, yes, Americans are at risk, and a great deal of it is Trump's fault. He blows the whistle on a daily basis, and the dogs come running...
In closing, let me say that I don't want this to come across like I'm also trying to sell "the fear." (Being that I'm also a fairly nondescript white guy, that would potentially be counterproductive.) All I'm trying to do is inject a note of reality, a few facts, into the discussion about what we realistically have to fear living here in the United States.