The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.

January 3, 2017

http://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury/2016/11/06I went dark on November 9 after enough people voted for an eminently unqualified, racist, misogynist, homo-hating, xenophobic, anti-Semitic, narcissistic, criminal con man and Putin puppet to give him the majority of votes in the electoral college and force those of us who are not white, straight, christianists to live in fear for our lives.

The election results were disappointing, horrifying, nauseating, frightening, outrageous, and disgusting. The one thing they were not, at least for me, is shocking or surprising. I suspect the more marginalized someone is by our society, the less surprised they were by the vote.

Make no mistake, if you voted for Trump, if you stayed home and sat the election out as a protest (or just because you couldn’t be bothered), if you voted for Stein or Johnson or anyone else but Clinton, your actions contributed to people suffering and dying because they are queer, trans, POC, or just can’t afford health care. (No Clinton would not have been worse, she wouldn’t have hired billionaire white supremacists with no experience but plenty of conflicts of interest to run the government or worked to destroy any progress made in reproductive health care and LGBT/POC civil rights or left many of us trying to figure out whether we should flee the country.)

White nationalists emboldened by Trump are thirsting for blood. That blood might be mine, or your gay cousin’s, or the Sikh gentleman’s behind the motel counter whose mistaken for a Muslim, or the African-American boy’s playing in the park, or your neighbor’s who wears a hijab, or your trans co-worker’s. (You didn’t know she was trans? But you insist she should use the men’s restroom?)

As far as I’m concerned, every single person who voted for Trump is a racist bigot. You can say whatever you want about how you voted for him to protect your guns (Clinton wasn’t going to take them away). Or because the economy is in the toilet (it was the best it’s been since Bush destroyed it in ’08). Or because he’ll bring back manufacturing jobs (he can’t, automation has already replaced those jobs even if the factories move back to the U.S. and those jobs he claimed — at the cost of millions from taxpayer– to bring back either were staying anyway or will be used to create further automation). Or because he’s a successful business man (he’s lost more money than he ever made, routinely rips off people he hires as contractors, paid millions to get out of fraud charges against him, etc. etc.). Or because Clinton did whatever (outrageous misogynistic fabricated conspiracy theory) you’ve cited as an excuse not to vote for her. Or whatever other lies he told that you were gullible enough to believe. I do not care what “reason” you give to salve your conscious, you voted for toxic sludge and should be judged by what you did, not what you say.

I’m so very tired of inane statements about the majority of people voting with genuinely good intentions for what they honestly believe is their country’s best interest. The majority of those voters don’t give one rat’s ass for the best interest of the U.S. They deliberately voted to prioritize their straight white cis privileges over basic civil rights for POC, LGBTQ folk, and those who don’t worship their particular brand of consumerist christianism. They didn’t care about the consequences as long as they got what they wanted (and they will be genuinely shocked, blaming anyone but themselves and the man they elected, when they lose their jobs, their homes, their health insurance, and/or their savings and retirement as a result).

I find it more and more difficult to believe that even a small majority of people are genuinely good when so many of them are willing to deprive others of health care, a safe place to live, enough food to eat, a decent education, the ability to earn a fair wage for their work, agency/autonomy over their own bodies, a partner in life, etc.

Trump voters will eventually pay the price for their hubris. Racism is one of the ways the ruling class one percent keeps the poor white working class in line, enabling the rich to turn them into wage slaves while raping the planet, destroying our water supply and making the air impossible to breathe. No matter how bad it gets, at least those wage slaves can believe they’re superior because they’re white, straight christianists.

Racism has always been the primary motivation behind the white nationalism white evangelical movement and remains at its core. The GOP deliberately used the evangelicals to create the noxious atmosphere that allowed Trump to ascend to the White House by pandering to racist, xenophobic, fears of privilege loss.

Wherever you claim to stand on civil rights for women, POC, immigrants, or those who are LGBT, if you facilitated Trump’s election with your vote (or lack of) you are condoning both the violent racist/xenophobic attacks of his followers and your own exploitation at the hands of their billionaire masters. The overt anti-Semites in Germany didn’t enable the Holocaust as much as all those middle class Germans who wanted to Make Germany Great Again and who were willing to overlook their missing neighbors, the broken glass in the streets, the stench from the ovens, and the racist, xenophobic rhetoric. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good people do nothing.

This naziism of America is the result of your sharing fake news, giving racists the benefit of the doubt, avoiding political discussions with family members who actively support venal politicians, staying silent in the face of misogyny.

Now what are you going to do about it (whether you enabled Trump’s election or not)? Will you sit silently with your head down and ignore the slaughter or will you step up to stop the colleague making racist jokes, refuse to allow your relatives to justify their Trump votes, call out the guy yelling at the Mexican-American on the bus to “go home,” video record the white cops harassing an African-American for minding their own business, stand in front of the woman threatened for wearing an expression of her faith? Will you donate and volunteer for organizations fighting for civil rights and reproductive health care? Will you call your Congressional representatives, daily if necessary, to let them know you won’t tolerate evisceration of the Office of Congressional Ethics, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, etc? Will you recruit, support, campaign for, and finance candidates for public office who believe in civil rights for all?

Or will you proceed with your daily life while everything that made America great is destroyed?

I know where I stand. I may have been silent online, but I never stopped fighting. What about you?


Medical Inequality

April 21, 2015

In the past two years, I’ve been horrifically exposed to the inequalities in American medicine.

I’ve lost my father, two aunts, and three dear friends. Of those, all but two involved cancer. And half of them were a direct result of medical neglect or outright malpractice deriving from inequality.

Almost every civilized country on the planet (including many considered “third world”) provides health care for its citizens. Canada, Australia, Japan, Russia, most of Europe, most of South America, Cuba, etc. But, in the United States, people are brainwashed into protesting the minimal assistance ACA (Affordable Care Act) offers, ignoring the death, debt, and despair caused by the lack of universal health care here.

Faux News, the tool of the 1 percent, convinces these delusional dissidents that somehow government assistance will reduce the quality of care they receive, ignoring the fact that government-run Medicare offers the most cost-effective and highest quality of care available in this country.

In reality, the quality of health care in the United States is surpassed around the world. Even Mexico offers its citizens better health care in terms of outcomes than that available here. And the high quality care that these absurd activists are so worried about losing is available only to those who have money and privilege.

Even if you have privilege, you still can leave your family indebted to the medical establishment. The number one reason for bankruptcy in the United States is medical bills.

But, without money and/or privilege, the medical establishment condemns you to death. I lost two friends in one week. The first, a white, upper middle class, cis woman had her life extended by almost a decade after her cancer was diagnosed as Stage IV. She was monitored constantly, getting CAT scans at regular intervals. She had access to experimental treatments which gave
her several additional years of high quality living. When the end came, in her seventh decade, it was peaceful, expected, and at home with her family.

The second, a trans woman, also had a history of cancer. But, she did not receive adequate monitoring. She had been ill and in pain for weeks, but no CAT scan was ordered, just an x-ray. Her doctor told her she had pneumonia. She was admitted to the hospital on a Tuesday because the pain had become unbearable and the treatment wasn’t working.

By the time her provider got around to paying for a CAT scan all it could do was confirm her death sentence. In her early fifties, she died the following Monday of Stage IV cancer.

The women of privilege received medical care from a non-profit medical center that put forth a heroic effort to preserve her life. She had time to prepare her family, her affairs, her finances, and to say goodbye to her friends over lunches and chocolate.

The trans woman was neglected by a for-profit company that has a history of killing patients rather than spending money on expensive tests and treatments. (That same organization worked systematically for three years to kill my aunt — not white, not privileged — through neglect, malpractice, and over medication.)

With no warning, the trans woman had to say goodbye to her friends in the hospital. For those further away who couldn’t make it there quickly, they only were able to spend time with her after she lost her ability to speak clearly. Instead of spending quality time over months with each individual or family, she was mobbed by the many who loved her over the course of a few hours.

Because she had no time to prepare her finances and affairs, her extended family may lose the home they shared.

You can help them out at the gofundme account their friends set up for them. That Americans must create crowdfunding campaigns to beg for assistance with medical bills is seen as bizarre in more civilized parts of the world.

But, the GOP is determined to strip away what little relief the ACA offers. Republicans prefer to allow huge mega corps to make obscene profits by allowing people to die rather than provide adequate medical care and then billing their families for hundreds of thousands of dollars, sending them into bankruptcy.

The rest of the world has figured out that providing citizens with affordable health care makes economic sense. But we’re still trapped in a paranoid delusion that somehow government interference will reduce access and quality even though the opposite is true.


Vote Blue

October 28, 2014

For the past four years, the House GOP has wasted taxpayer money with frivolous votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the GOP-created legislation which has resulted in millions more Americans getting access to health care. GOP legislators, in session less than half the year, call struggling minimum-wage workers who sometimes work three jobs to feed their families lazy.

While our infrastructure crumbles around us, we have seen no meaningful legislation from the 113th Congress. Republicans got elected by promising jobs, but they have only voted to restrict women’s access to healthcare, impose Christian believes on the government in violation of the First Amendment, and shut down the government, costing taxpayers billions.

If you’re not outraged by the behavior of elected officials who care more about impugning the Black, Democratic President than helping Americans recover from damage done by his White, Republican predecessor, you haven’t been paying attention.

All 435 members of the House of Representatives, 33 of 100 Senators, and governors in 36 states are on the ballot. Voting out the Koch-brother-funded, Tea Party idiots would give us the opportunity to end obstruction, filibustering, and constant gridlock in Washington and see laws passed raising the federal minimum wage from $7.25, eliminating tax breaks for companies that send American jobs overseas, reforming campaign financing, and giving Veterans expanded access to health care, education, and job training, etc.

But, the combination of Koch-brother funded lies (they’re paying for 44,000 advertisements in swing states alone), gerrymandering which has drawn ridiculously configured legislative districts to consolidate all left leaning voters in mostly right states, and voter suppression laws created solely to prevent the poor, people of color, students, and women from voting, could exacerbate the obstructionist House by creating a Senate that will waste time trying to impeach the president while stealing more from the American public.

If you don’t want to see Social Security, highways, state parks, public schools, etc. privatized so billionaires can make more money, if you don’t want to see income inequality continue to widen, if you don’t want to see another ALEC shill willing to destroy the civil liberties of the many to further empower the 1 percent on the Supreme Court, you need to Vote Blue in November.

While I would very much like to see a progressive third party take hold in the U.S., the reality is that takes time and work. It’s telling when you’ve never heard of any of the third party candidates on the ballot. We can’t build a serious third party by only putting candidates for national and state-wide offices up for election. In order to run viable campaigns for national and state-wide offices, third-party candidates need to start the same way their Democratic and Republican opponents did: at the local level.

“The race for the United States Senate is going to be close — in fact it’s going to be so close that a handful of voters may decide who controls the Senate in Washington,” admits one Republican supporter. “People of like-minds need to stick together so as to avoid the rise of a government that is in complete conflict with their values.” He wrote those words to scare GOP voters into forking over money and getting to the polls for the midterm election.

But, unless your values are Tea Party ignorance and obstructionism, you must Vote Blue. If you don’t vote, or you vote for Republicans or third party candidates, you are handing the United States government over to right wing nut jobs who can’t spell, but are determined to take away your health care, your reproductive rights, your ability to earn more than slave wages, your weekends, your vacations, your home, and your retirement funds.

If you want to take our country back from the corporations, the 1 percent, the racists, misogynists, homo haters, trans attackers, and forced pregnancy movement proponents, please Vote Blue next week. If you don’t, you will empower those who want to make sure you never get a chance to vote again.

Also on the Ballot

In addition to the lies generated by and on behalf of candidates, supporters of amendments on the ballot in a number of states are spewing forth deliberate falsehoods and misinformation about legislation that will cause even more harm.

For example, several states are voting on “personhood” amendments, but since the majority of voters do not support “personhood” these are worded to prevent voters in those states from figuring out that’s what’s at stake. Forced pregnancy movement proponents frame their campaign around stories of pregnant women killed by guns or in auto accidents whose fetuses were destroyed as well. The fact that these laws could make abortion and many forms of contraceptive illegal is conveniently never mentioned.

And in Oregon two critical amendments are getting misrepresented in the media and advertisements.

Opponents of Measure 92 — which would require labeling of foods containing GMO — claim it will cost consumers money. In reality, the labeling will cost very little, about $2.30 per person per year. What could prove costly is if food manufacturers decide to eliminate GMO food from their products to avoid the labels. And, we’re told if we want to avoid GMO foods, we can just buy organic.

The reality is there have been no scientific studies done to show whether GMO foods cause harm to humans. But, there is ample proof that they do result in harm to soil, song birds, bees, and water because of the increased used of chemical pesticides. Buying organic foods for individual households won’t prevent the massive damage that Monsanto’s pesticides used with its GMO seeds do to the environment and to small farmers.

Monsanto and DuPont are throwing millions of dollars against this Measure. They’ve gotten much of the state’s media to agree with them. Given that those media are reaping big bucks in advertising dollars, their reasons for voting against Measure 92 are at best specious. Given the low cost of labeling, which would be added to the existing labeling requirements, you have to ask what Monsanto and DuPont stand to lose if we simply notify consumers what’s in the food they eat.

If you vote in Oregon, vote YES on Measure 92

Proponents of Measure 90, creating a top-two open primary, claim this will give voters more choices. In reality, it will simply make it easier for corporate money to buy elections. Right now, the two-party primary system hurts the smaller third parties the most. When THEY say no, Measure 90 will make things worse, we should listen. Most telling about the impact of Measure 90 is who’s signed on to oppose it including Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, The Oregon Bus Project, Oregon League of Conservation Voters, the Pacific Green Party of Oregon, and the Oregon Progressive Party.

If you vote in Oregon, vote NO on Measure 90

Given the length of this post, I won’t go into further details about additional measures on the Oregon ballot, except to urge you, if you vote in Oregon, to also vote YES on Measure 88 (drivers’ cards for qualified Oregon residents) and vote YES on Measure 91 (legalizing recreational marijuana).


Forced Pregnancy Movement

June 19, 2014

Let’s call a spade a spade and stop granting the right-wing, evangelical, misogynists their self-preferred, and totally erroneous, title of “pro life.”

You can’t claim “pro life” if you spend time, money, and energy fighting to prevent people from getting life-saving medical care resulting in thousands of deaths each year.

You can’t claim “pro life” when you actively try to eliminate one of the best, proven methods of preventing unwanted pregnancies and therefore abortions: fact-based sex education in schools.

You can’t claim “pro life” when you campaign against allowing womGynoticianen access to the most significant abortion prevention option: contraceptives.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you don’t work to provide pre-natal care for women so they can deliver healthy babies.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you argue against paid family medical leave that allows parents to care for their children when they’re newborns, sick, or injured.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you advocate cutting programs to feed, clothe, house, and educate those children you force into this world.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you justify laws that prevent same-sex couples from adopting the children you forced into the world then abandoned, preventing them from having a stable home because (and only because) homosexuality squicks you out.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you don’t support realistic minimum-wage laws that would eliminate the oxymoron “working poor” — poverty kills.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you refuse to take action to prevent the slaughter of children and other innocents and keep it legal for any idiot, criminal, and nut job to carry automatic weapons and enough ammunition to take out a municipal police force into schools, theaters, restaurants, etc.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you promote “Stand Your Ground,” police brutality, urban warfare, rape culture, and trans hatred — all of which cost people their lives.

You can’t claim “pro life” if you favor the death penalty.

In short, you can’t claim “pro life” if the only thing you do to “protect” life is use lies, outrageous and unnecessary procedures, and inappropriate clinic-closing regulations to stop women from terminating pregnancy … even when it means their lives are at risk, even if the fathers are rapists, even if they’re brain dead, even if the fetuses probably won’t survive.

If that’s all you do you, aren’t “pro life,” you’re a hypocrite who is part of the forced-pregnancy movement which only has the one goal of coercing women to deliver babies, babies you don’t give a rat’s ass about once they’re born.

So, if you’re pro-choice, pro-women, pro-freedom please stop using the term “pro-life” to describe members of the forced-pregnancy movement.


Cacophony of Gossip, Fabrications, Deceptions, etc.

March 13, 2014

Once upon a time, not so long ago, a newspaper (or three) delivered information to your doorstep (or you grabbed a copy from a kiosk on the way to work). You might have listened to snippets of news on the radio during your commute. And if you lived long enough ago, in a large enough community, you might have also received (or picked up) an afternoon paper.

You might even have read a weekly or monthly news magazine delivered to your mailbox or selected at the newstand. But, except for Uncle Walter or David Brinkley on the evening news that was it. A finite number of words, pieces of paper, and broadcast signals, devoted to delivering information each day.

Now, thousands of mainstream “newspapers” and “magazines” (some of which no longer have print editions) post information online. Access to international news organizations for an enlightened perspective on the inanity and inaccuracy of U.S. media reporting is a few keystrokes away. You can read about the same event from a dozen different perspectives eliminating the concept of “objective” reporting from your vocabulary.

And, then there’s the blogs, many offering better researched, higher quality reporting than the once-respected standards such as the plagiarizing New York Times or the right-wing-slanted Wall Street Journal. This is especially true for obscure topics or ones that require significant, educated analysis to understand their subtleties.

(Of course some blogs are just soap boxes for ill-formed, unsubstantiated opinions, but that’s another post.)

If you don’t want to cycle through numerous publications or constantly refresh the ones you’ve chosen as your standards, Twitter and other “streams” offers you instant access to almost everything published – including rumors, innuendoes, parodies, satire, and outright falsehoods.

Now, rather than accept what some (usually white, middle aged, male) editor decides is newsworthy, you can select the sources that provide the information that’s of interest or is useful to you.

Unfortunately, this inundation of material has created numerous problems. The primary one is the proliferation of misinformation. U.S. and foreign media outlets too often pick up false rumors and parodies and pass them off as facts. How many times have some celebrities’ deaths been reported, before, and decades after, their demises? How many iterations of the same urban legends have been disseminated via Facebook, G+, and Tumblr?

No one is fact checking even though resources to do so are readily available such as Snopes and about.com’s Urban Legends (as well as others). Even previously reliable sources have posted and printed inaccurate and, sometimes blatantly false, information.

Anyone who shares knowledge gleaned from the Internet, whether with just friends and family or with hundreds/thousands of Twitter followers and Facebook friends, should take responsibility for the accuracy of what they disseminate. But, too many tweet, tumble, and pin articles based only on the headlines or someone else’s post, never verifying or sometimes even reading the actual content. And, not only is a picture no longer worth a thousand words – it provides no proof. (See “John Adam” aka action figure “Cody” above.)

Those who don’t get confirmation from more than one “reliable” source, just pass along false information (sometimes inadvertently, at times deliberately) and add to the cacophony of gossip, fabrications, urban legends, deceptions, constantly recycled old news, etc. increasing the dilemma for everyone.

Of course, the second most problematic result of information inundation is the sheer volume of data now available. (Although not everyone can retrieve everything, a fact driven home by academic friends pleading for someone to share papers they can’t access because of their location.) No doubt, one could spend every waking moment reading online reports, updates of reports, analysis of reports, and localization of reports or trying to confirm whether the article posted on your favorite site bears any resemblance to the truth.

So, where do we draw the line between well informed and news junkie? How do we tune out the lies and innuendos to find something resembling the truth (assuming we aren’t angry old white men just looking for confirmation of our right-wing nut job fantasies)?