Saturday, October 20, 2018

Put Up or Shut Up

According to NPR, Michael McDonald, a professor at the University of Florida who studies voter turnout, estimates that 45% to 50% of eligible voters will cast a ballot this fall. Such a level has not been reported since 1970, when 47 percent of voters turned out for Nixon's second midterm election.

 A voter returns his vote-by-mail ballot in the 2006 General elections in Lane County, Oregon.
Subject: A voter returns his vote-by-mail ballot in the 2006 General elections in Lane County, Oregon. | Date: 10/22/2006 | Photographer: Chris Phan | This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Newscasters and pundits are hailing 50% as a great turn out. I on the other hand am appalled by the numbers.  Half of our population are throwing away their right to vote.

Meanwhile, in Georgia a bus load of the elderly African Americans were on their way to vote early when city officials stopped the bus and made them go home.

If that's not bad enough, North Dakota has a new law requiring an ID card with a street address in order to vote.  The problem is Native Americans who live on the reservation don't have street addresses.  The law was designed to keep Native Americans, who usually vote democrat, away from the poles.

While the African Americans in Georgia and the Native Americans in North Dakota are doing battle in the courts for their right to vote half of us, who are able to vote, are choosing not to.  While it's their right not to vote, as long as they don't I don't want to hear any of them complain that they don't like the way things are.

Voting is not only a right it's a responsibility.  It's a way for a citizen to add their voice to millions of other voices.  Those voices, act together to shape our country into what we want it to be.  Those who vote contribute to the greater whole.  Thus, they have a right to speak up afterwards.  Those who choose not to participate give up the right to belly-ache afterwards.

A little over two weeks democrats will have an opportunity to take control of congress.  If they succeed it will be a big step towards holding our President accountable for his actions.  This can only happen if people of good conscience choose to exercise their right to be heard.

On the flip side those who like the way our country is going have the right to make themselves heard through the vote as well.  I can respect a person I disagree with who votes much more than the person who cannot be bothered to vote.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Trump Fiddles As Florida Struggles

According to MSNBC's Morning Joe, "As Hurricane Michael tore through the Florida Panhandle, President Trump met with donors and held a campaign rally in Erie, Pennsylvania. Trump once criticized President Obama for campaigning in 2012 during Sandy. The panel discusses."

Nero Playing Fiddle as Rome Burns c.1780
Photo Courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
I was disappointed, but not surprised, when I heard about this on the news. Donald Trump has a habit of doing what is good for Donald Trump. Rather than using the office to serve the people he uses it to serve himself.

Since taking office, it's been a well- known secret that the president, "strongly encourages," foreign diplomats to stay at Trump hotels when they visit the United States.  As a result, he is using the job to enrich himself.  The idea of public service is completely foreign to him.

This is a man who does not allow morality to get in the way of a good deal.  Recently, Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for the Washington Post,  went into the Saudi Arabian embassy, in Turkey, and never left.  There is every reason to believe he was brutally murdered on the orders of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Instead of sanctioning Saudi Arabia for violating Khashoggi's human rights, President Trump still plans to sell them one-hundred billion dollars worth of weapons.  While the deal doesn't profit him directly, he's publicly admitted to a history of selling the royal Saudis forty & fifty million dollar apartments.   Keeping Prince Salman on his good side is in Trump's best fiscal interest.

On October 10th, 2018, Hurricane Michael pummeled Mexico Beach, Florida with sustained winds of 155 miles per hour and accompanying rainfall.  As billions of dollars of damage were being done, thousands of Americans were losing their homes, and eighteen Americans (by most recent count) were losing their lives, President Trump was mocking the "Me Too" movement in front of supporters in Eerie, Pennsylvania.

Historically the images of Marie Antoinette suggesting that the starving peasants eat cake and Emperor Nero playing the fiddle as Rome burned have served as illustrations of an out-of-touch leader putting himself/herself their people.  Yet, I fear that the image of a billionaire president making fun of victims of sexual assault, while his people struggled for their lives, will join the aforementioned archetypes within our collective unconscious.

Monday, October 8, 2018

It's Technically Illegal, But...

There are laws which are on the books, but are seldomly, if ever, enforced.  Such laws include:
  • In Salt Lake County Utah it is illegal to carry a violin in a paper bag.
  • In Florida it is illegal to fart in public after six o'clock in the evening on Sundays.
  • In Massachusetts it is illegal to go to bed without bathing, however, in the same state, law prohibits bathing on Sundays.
  • In New York when a person jumps off a building it is against the law and they are sentenced to death.
  • In Alabama it is illegal to wear a fake mustache to make people laugh in church.
  • In Alabama it illegal to throw salt on railroad tracks, and death is the penalty.
  • In Los Angeles courts it is illegal to cry on the stand.
  • In California it is illegal to bath two babies in the same bath at the same time.
  • No alcoholic beverage is allowed within five hundred feet of a cash register in a store that sells both alcohol and gasoline in California.
  • In Saratoga, Florida no citizen can sing and wear a swimsuit at the same time.
  • In all 50 states it's illegal to sexually assault someone.

  • US Supreme Court building, front elevation, steps and portico
    Title: US Supreme Court building, front elevation, steps and portico. | Date: 12/2004 | Photographer: Duncan Lock | This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
    Think that last item doesn't belong on the list? Think again.

    RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization. According to RAINN's Criminal Justice System Statistics, for every 1,000 rapes which occur in the United States 310 are reported.  Out of those, 57 result in an arrest, 11 of those cases are referred to prosecuting attorneys.  7 of the prosecutions result in guilty verdicts, 6 of which are incarcerated.  That's right boys and girls, only 6 out of 1,000 rapes lead to prison time.  Does that sound like a law that we enforce?

    I know what you're thinking.  Why do 69% of rapes go unreported?   Could it be that many people still don't see sexual assault as a "real crime?"  Think about it.  On October 7th, 2016, America heard a recording of Donald Trump bragging about grabbing women by their hoohaws and getting away with it because he's rich.  Four weeks later, we elected him president.  GRABBING WOMEN BY THEIR LADY PARTS WASN'T A DEAL BREAKER!

    Recently, Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, was accused of assaulting three women.  After one of the women was allowed to testify before a Senate committee, and the FBI conducted a perfunctory investigation, Kavanaugh was made a Supreme Court justice.

    While a suspected sexual predator was being considered for a job with the highest court in the land, Dr. Christine Biasey Ford, Kavanaugh's first accuser, was receiving death threats and being made fun of by the president at  a rally in Mississippi.

    When asked about their vote to confirm the new justice, several Republican Senators said Ford's testimony was credible because they still weren't convinced to vote no.  In other words, they believed her, but IT WASN'T A DEAL BREAKER!

    Is it any wonder that victims of sexual assault don't come forward?  The few brave souls who do speak up are accused of "asking for it," ostracized, and put through Hell.  Then, their case probably won't result in jail time for their attacker.

    How can we expect young girls to respect themselves when our leaders are making the clear it's OK to treat them as sexual objects?

    Tuesday, September 18, 2018

    I Don't Usually Agree With Trump, But....

    On September 5th, 2018, an op-ed piece appeared in the New York Times entitled, "I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration".  According to the piece, the author is part of a "resistance" dedicated to covertly undermining the president, from within the White House.

     Mr Donald Trump New Hampshire Town Hall
    Subject: Mr Donald Trump New Hampshire Town Hall | Date: 08/19/2015 | Photographer: Michael Vadon |This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.
    When I first read about this the Star Wars fanboy in me  was thrilled.  I had visions of a noble rebellion working to undermine the evil emperor.  However, as I thought about it the romantic illusion quickly wore off.

    Like it, or not, Donald Trump was elected to the office of President.  While his policies are, in my opinion, harmful to the point of being evil, he was legally elected.  Whoever wrote the article was not elected to undermine him.

    According to the article,  this person has stolen documents off the president's desk before they could be signed into law.   We don't know what else this person has done to covertly circumvent the president's authority.

    Whether you like Trump, or not, the idea of a covert operative taking it upon themselves to work against the office of the President is down right scary.  No matter who holds the office there will be people who don't agree with him.  Even if we don't respect the man, we have to respect the office, or the whole the system falls apart.

    Flip it around, there were alot of people that did not agree with Obama either.  If someone had worked against him from within the office, that too would have been wrong.  We live in a country of laws.  If society is to function we can not pick and choose which laws we will obey and which laws we will disregard.  Nor, can we tolerate being governed by those who would work from the shadows, taking it upon themselves to substitute their own wisdom in place of the intentions of our elected officials.

    I for one believe Donald Trump is a dangerous President who is doing our country real harm.  However, if we want him out of office we have to work within the system.  This November, we have the opportunity to elect a democratically controlled congress.  If we succeed, there's every reason to believe that  Donald Trump will be impeached legally.  We don't need, or desire, a resistance movement working outside the law. Those doing so should be held accountable.