Rocking the Hard Place

It is my sincere hope that you’re having a good day, or at least are looking forward to doing something nice today, since I’m about to become thoroughly Debbie Downer on y’all. Short version: Settle in, because this administration isn’t dead, yet, and won’t be for a long time, but don’t give up the fight!

Since he announced his candidacy, the Trump-as-politician story has never lacked for something outrageous, often multiple things each week—or even each day. Just when it seems like we’ve reached outrage fatigue, he ups the ante. Some probably have already gone into a complacent state of new normal, but many of us are still paying attention. We wake up, check the news to see what terrible thing he’s done today, and then spend the rest of the day stumbling around in numb horror, a vague sense of queasiness coloring everything we do. It should be no surprise that we’re all eager to believe any hint that somehow, there’s been a break: something has been discovered that will finally, this time, get him out.

Folks, don’t hold your breath. Continue reading

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Blame Olympics: Finals

My previous post on this topic has gotten some good feedback (yay!) but something else has come up this week that’s making me revisit the question: Some rather good data crunching  pointing up the effects of voter suppression on turnout, particularly among Black voters. There’s some really terrific stuff in that thread, and I highly recommend reading it all.

Unfortunately, further analysis doesn’t bear out an assertion that correcting for this would have changed the result. While I don’t at all mean to imply that voter suppression is insignificant—it absolutely is, it’s horrific, and it needs to be stopped—in this particular case, it’s unlikely that it affected the outcome on its own. It factored in, definitely, as I’ll illustrate, but even if we isolated that particular variable, we’d still have the same result.

Let’s take another look at the spreadsheet I assembled for this project: Continue reading

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Blame Olympics

For some reason, we seem to have gotten a fresh round of “this is why she lost” blather of late, so please allow me to weigh in–with some actual data, pulled from CNN’s exit polls. Tl;dr version: Dudes. Primarily white. Primarily young. Primarily without a college degree. Primarily voting for Johnson.

First off, let me be perfectly clear: The biggest factor in this and every other election is race. White folks, about 70% of the electorate, vote Republican by about a 60/38 split, whereas people of color vote Democrat by even more lopsided percentages. This has been the case pretty much forever, and there can be no discussion of WTF happened without acknowledging that reality. Religion is also a big deal: White Christians, who make up ~57% of the electorate, split about 65/35 for Republicans, but everyone else votes Democrat. Lastly, education also factors in, though again race tells part of the story: Whites with less education tend to be more conservative, while people of color don’t change their votes all that much relative to education.

Gender, however, is also an enormous factor, and as I’m going to illustrate here, it was a bigger factor this time than it has been in the recent past–bigger than anything else. Continue reading

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New Short Story!

In addition to all the graphic work I’ve been doing lately, I’ve also done some writing. Still working on sequels for both Harper and Tesserae, as well as two more standalone novels, but I also recently banged out this:

The Man Who Drained the Sea

This project started as a bedtime story I made up for my son. He liked it so much I decided to tweak it for a more grown-up audience and get it out there. It’s contemporary fantasy/magical realism, though a bit different from my usual stuff. Check it out, and I hope you enjoy it!

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Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Not that there aren’t dozens of other things to flail about, but in the past couple of days, one of the ones I’ve seen people most agog about is Steve Bannon talking about wanting “deconstruction” of the government.

Coming, as I do, from a family steeped in the “patriot” movement, I think I might get this better than some who aren’t familiar with it first hand. Allow me to try to explain:

First off, yes, there’s a crapton of sheer bigotry and violent, toxic masculinity going on here. That’s the driving psychological force behind all of it. Above the Id level, however, this is all going according to plan. This is exactly why people voted for 45 and why they keep calling his reign “successful.”

The right wing has wanted to dismantle the federal government since the Civil War (and there’s also always been an anti-federalist faction going back much farther.) Everything they’re doing right now is designed with that goal in mind. They’re aiming to all but break up the U.S. in to 50 nation-states, with us sharing only very big things like currency, military protection, interstate transportation and border security. They want the U.S. to be more like the U.N., or at least the E.U. Most of these folks are also isolationist (at least in terms of our responsibility to help stop dictators, etc.) Aside from the desire to actually invade and take over oil-producing countries, and return Israel to its Biblical borders so the Rapture will come, this is all about total sovereignity: Much the same impulse that led to a lot of Brexit votes. Obviously, xenophobia and racism are behind much of this sentiment, but in their minds, that’s incidental. They’re looking to give each state the ability to self-rule as much as possible, because they believe centralized government can’t properly serve diverse states.

For those of us in blue states, that probably doesn’t sound so bad. I do occasionally entertain the idea of Pacifica, really. But the net effect of this is that marginalized people who are stuck in red states are absolutely screwed. We could set up our own little refugee programs–sponsoring the poor schlubs in red-state cities or whatnot–but that would still leave the children of these creeps in dire straits, and frankly, people shouldn’t have to move to a whole different state just to have their basic human rights recognized anyway.

There are legitimate debates to be had on whether centralized government is really capable of efficiently providing public services to 300 million people scattered across a very broad geographic area and cultural spectrum, but at the very least, Constitutional rights have to be protected, and if these asshats get their way, that’s going to collapse. Appealing to them on the basis of compassion and anti-racism isn’t going to work regardless, but if we really want to stop them from doing what they’re doing, we have to look at what it is they’re really aiming to do, and challenge them on that, too. Continue reading

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She Persisted

I did another graphic thing. (Zazzle link above, or you can hit my store on Café Press.) Because it’s appalling that Elizabeth Warren was denied the chance to read Coretta Scott King’s letter about Jeff Sessions. (And while four other senators were allowed to read it later, all four are men. Grrr.)

It’s heartening to me that more and more Democrat senators are getting the intestinal fortitude to stand up and make noise about this mess. Most of them are the usual suspects who did things like the post-Pulse gun-control protests, but even the mild-mannered ones are getting in on the act, now. If only Bernie would stop acting like a) Trump has any intention of actually helping workers and b) that doing so is the biggest priority over, y’know, basic human rights, we could present a pretty united front on the left. I wish we could do more to drag the wishy-washy moderate Republicans into the light (c’mon, Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham!) but it is what it is for now. They can’t risk pissing off Trump supporters or they’ll get primaried out (though they’re also going to have to tread carefully with regard to more-moderate voters, too.) Our only hope for getting him out of office is if he somehow gets convicted of something that requires jail time, so the Congressfolk who actually do dislike him don’t have to get their hands dirty. They can just tell voters that it was the will of the courts and thereby skate on having to take responsibility for opposing him.

I think we’re still kind of in shock-and-awe territory. It’s been less than three weeks, and I suspect he’s going to be there for a while, yet. Probably time to gird our loins for the long haul, horrific as that sounds.

In the meantime, two suggestions:

-Assemble an emergency kit/go bag. If you think you may be targeted, make sure you have a way to get the heck out if you need to. Also, if you live somewhere that’s prone to natural disasters (especially a blue state), make sure you’ve prepared and planned for that. I wouldn’t at all put it past Trump to withhold FEMA and other federal disaster aid to punish misbehaving states. Make sure you have calorie- and nutrient-dense non-perishable food, plenty of water, a few changes of clothes, toiletries, a first-aid kit, a flash drive with scans of important docs and any pictures and other things you want to save, batteries, a paperback or other non-electronic way to pass time, etc. Keep one in your car and one at home.

-If you have the money, donate (and see if your employer does matching funds!) Here’s a list of places I’ve sent money to recently, if you’d like some ideas:

  • International Rescue Committee
  • ACLU
  • SPLC
  • Planned Parenthood
  • Lambda Legal
  • Anti-Defamation League
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
  • RAINN
  • Native American Rights Fund
  • Council on American-Islamic Relations
  • Earth Justice
  • Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • NAACP
  • Trevor Project
  • Trans Lifeline
  • Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
  • National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
  • Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
  • American Immigration Council
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Amnesty International

Plus some Standing Rock funds and a couple of individuals who are doing good work (the person who runs Medieval PoC, for instance.)

(Also, if you’d like to push some funds my way, please buy one of my books–link to the right–or shop at one of the stores linked above!)

Lastly, if you’re someone who is on the GOP’s target list–queer, PoC, PWD, etc.–you’re probably going to get overwhelmed and burned out. Take time to take care of yourself. Don’t do their dirty work for them by neglecting your health and well-being. And if you’re someone who’s NOT on the target list, or only has one or two relatively mild disadvantages, do what you can to care for the folks around you who are in more danger right now. We can survive this, but only if we work together.

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WA v. Trump

Didn’t directly listen to it, but I followed the play-by-play of the court hearing today in WA v. Trump. Fascinating stuff, and Washington State Solicitor General Noah Purcell, who gave the state’s argument, is a damned superhero.

One of the biggest things the argument hinged on: Whether the EO was an unconstitutional direct ban on Muslims. While the text of the EO (as argued by the DOJ’s bumblefuck counsel) doesn’t specifically single them out, there’s plenty of evidence that yep, that’s exactly what this was.

One of the biggest bits of that (which wasn’t directly brought up by Purcell) is the fact that the CBP has been profiling in who they choose to detain. They’re not just stopping people from those seven countries. They’re also stopping people with Arabic names, Muslim religious dress or who were born in or just entered from Muslim-majority countries that aren’t even on the list (one ACLU lawyer reported today being detained/grilled because she’s from Pakistan.) If the people charged with enforcing the EO believe it’s a Muslim ban, then that’s what it is.

Likewise, if you scroll through the Twitter chatter about the subject, it’s also obvious that the people who support the ban also think it applies to Muslims, because they conflate them with terrorists. Which brings me to the other key issue being argued here: Whether there’s a pressing national interest in issuing the EO. And, well, there isn’t. Though there have been a few arrests of people from those countries who were up to no good, and Daesh is active in some, the vast majority of major mass-murder attacks on American soil are not being committed by people from those countries–especially refugees. On the contrary: Most cases of mass murder in this country are committed by white men with a history of domestic violence, stalking, and/or violent sexist rhetoric. Moreover, the few cases of attacks committed by others didn’t involve people from the nations covered by the EO. They were either from other countries (such as Saudi Arabia, in the case of the 9/11 attackers) or were born here and later radicalized. It should also be noted that in the case of the “lone wolf” attackers who happened to be Muslim, most of them also had histories of domestic violence. If we genuinely care about protecting the public from being victims of a surprise mass-murder attack, making sure we take DV and stalking seriously, and get guns out of the hands of people with those histories, will do considerably more than keeping a five-year-old Syrian refugee out of the country.

Of course, what scares me is that if Trump loses this case and the EO gets completely scrubbed, we’re probably looking at a Reichstag fire. Because his massive ego demands it, he’s gunning for absolute power, and a major attack would give him the excuse he needs to get that. Not that I think he or any other Republican would deliberately stage an attack (though honestly, given the other crap coming out of this administration, it’s possible I’m wrong), but I do think they’d ignore intel to let one happen. After all, 9/11 worked to give Bush unquestioning loyalty from a majority of Americans, and won him a second term. Trump would have a harder time with that, but he could still use the whole “united against enemies” boilerplate to declare himself Supreme Leader.

On a more-pleasant note: It fascinated me that at one point, the YouTube stream of the audio from this hearing (it was a conference call) had ~110,000 listeners. The Twitter hashtag for it also went kind of haywire. That, in combination with the other evidence of zeitgeist shift is pretty awesome. People are considerably more engaged with civics now–because it’s directly affecting a lot more of them–and that’s going to present Trump with a formidable opposition. He can try to silence pro media all he wants, but people are now engaged with politics and news on a grassroots level that he has no hope of stamping out–even if he does try to kill Net Neutrality. The fact that virtually the entirety of the tech community opposes him is also evidence that this is an uphill battle for him. They’re not going to do his bidding–not when a massive chunk of the US economy is based on relatively-free internet communication and commerce. This isn’t North Korea. Americans are used to having a free exchange of ideas, and even if he manages to use the FCC to strangle CNN or newspapers or any other pro outlets (not that they’re going to stand for it, either, except the places that are already Trump-branded Pravda), he’s not going to be able to shut the entire population up. We have hackers on our side. We can get past anything if we need to. More importantly, this level of public and political engagement is popular right now. Even people who may have been lulled into complacency by eight years of a popular president facing a recalcitrant Congress (thereby having little movement on either side) are waking up again. Active engagement with actual political reality is the new reality TV, and Trump’s “show” is on the verge of cancellation.

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