pollychromatic

the world through rainbow eyes


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The Wolf Is In The Valley

I used to listen to tons of conservative talk radio. I guess it was a habit I picked up when I was Libertarian.

After 9/11, when Libertarian Atlanta talk radio turned into Libertarian, but naw, actually Conservative talk radio, and I slowly started rolling more and more liberal, it became something of a reminder of why I’m not a Libertarian any longer. The periods of time I could listen to the hateful speech coming from the speakers got shorter and shorter.

They were punctuated by an interesting growing awareness, though. I noticed more and more that what I was hearing was propaganda.

More and more, that the very things the pundits accused the Left of doing, the conservatives were doing.

They would make these outlandish accusations and it would be followed up in a few days, weeks, or months time with literal proof that that was actually something that was happening on the Right.

I was washed in an awareness listening to the listeners that were calling in that what was happening (whatever topic it was for that show) was a product of the leftists! That they actually fully believed every word and more that was said.

Like… like the ACA is making healthcare absolutely unaffordable (actually that was lobbying and legislation passed under GWB and coming into effect several years after his term ended).

It literally didn’t matter. The reality didn’t matter, because the pundits had set the stage for whatever Big Lie was being told.

It got to the point where reality seemed subjective as hell to the listeners and followers of the Right pundits. I eschewed Left pundits for worry of similar happenings and started following direct legislation publication. Direct sources. Science journals rather than news about science. Looking directly at studies rather than the stuff about the studies that was released.

What I had learned is that you can habitually cry wolf so many times that the village has no idea how to tell a wolf from a house cat. Hell, they are so primed for “wolf” that the house cat literally looks like a wolf to them. It’s a predator, no? It slinks about in darkness, no? Well then obviously it’s a wolf.

Except, no.

Each year the Big Lies have gotten bigger and bigger and nobody knows at all what a wolf is, or what a cat is, or if this thing “wolf” even exists.

But dammit if this isn’t the damn wolf right the fuck here, right the fuck now.

The actual most likely scenario of Donald Trump coming into office is that he will mostly do a whole lot of nothing and really screw some diplomacy for a while. Pence will be doing the practical work of it, and he is enough to be worried about on his own if you take a gander at Indiana. We can live through that. Or at least some of us can. I can tell you for sure a lot of us can’t. You might want to look closer at Indiana again to see what I mean.

Seriously.

For absolutely sure, though? Trump will appoint between 2-4 Supreme Court Justices. Poor RBG will try her damn hardest to outlive Trump and maybe she’ll succeed. She’s tough as nails and has eaten worse than Trump on the daily for breakfast. So I wouldn’t bet against her succeeding.

But it’s not really a thing for her to decide, either. Death will unfortunately come to her when Death chooses to (and I’m sure RBG will have a nice pat for Binky at that point, too).

Those Justices will be enough to completely tumble the Court into Conservative hell for the next 20-50 years. Literally. Which means that the rudder to the ship that is the US will be damn broken off.

And that’s absolutely letting go of the worry that Trump’s famous impulsive temper and ego doesn’t just decide to push a button and nuke a country to prove he can. Which is a real worry, btw.

So I know we’re used to hyperbole being used in every political discussion for the last ever, and it’s gotten so bad that none of us know the difference between a house cat and a wolf when the cries of wolf come ringing in the valley.

But sometimes the wolf is real. Forgetting that would be awfully dangerous.


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Why Your Protest Vote is Wasted and Dangerous

thirdparty

I blocked out the person’s name and image to prevent anyone from finding them and harassing them. These are their feelings and their statement, and they have a right to them without people bullying them over it. Here’s my reply.

Here’s the thing.
 
With much compassion and respect: a vote for a third party candidate for POTUS without any third party being built throughout the country does not create a third party.
 
There are four years to every election cycle, with elections that are local and federal in every single year.
 
Create a viable third party throughout the country. It’s quite possible. You can effect change within your local elections pretty handily, and if you do it with coordination (something that should be possible considering how the Sanders support coordinated online through Reddit, Facebook, and other online resources), then you can create a national grassroots uprising that elects senators, congress people, and even presidents.
 
The push every four years for a third party candidate is a push just to get heard on the debate floor, and frankly that isn’t what creates a third party at all.
 
There are local elected positions within nearly every county throughout the country that are ran for unopposed. It would be a simple thing to note these, and strongly work towards running for these positions.
 
So the stated purpose of supporting third party viability when choosing a third party candidate for POTUS instead of the “lessor of two evils” isn’t really a thing.
 
Instead we are left with the very real choice of either Donald Trump for office, or Hillary Clinton for office. One of those things will for sure happen. No way around that. No amount of wanting something else will make that something else happen, and voting for a third party will not make that not happen.
 
You can leave the country, or you can vote third party, or you can write in Bernie Sanders, or Ted Cruz, or Mickey Mouse, or choose to not vote at all. Nevertheless, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is going to be elected President of the United States.
 
When making ethical decisions they must be firmly rooted in the facts of reality as they truly stand. Not as we want them to be. As they are.
 
Donald Trump is a dangerous individual who lies not in part, but in whole. He does not have the ability to hold his temper in check whatsoever. He is impulsive with his temper and bullies without regard to consequences. He wants to literally create a holocaust for immigrants documented and undocumented. He wants to literally register every Muslim within the US. His GOP platform wants to roll back civil rights liberties for the LGBTQ community. He is violent and uses violent rhetoric. He has said, literally, that parts of the actual Constitution may need to be adjusted because of the “danger of the times.”
 
He is danger. Literal danger. Present danger.
 
The other option that could really happen is Hillary Clinton. Clinton was not alone with the tough on crime policies. NOR DID SHE EVEN WRITE THEM. She did not run for political office until 2000. These policies are largely overturning throughout the country, and Hillary Clinton prolifically denounces them. You can talk about tacit approval of things left undone, but Trump literally approves of warfare and dictatorship.
By and large Hillary Clinton has mostly been a politician who is opportunistic and yet still progressive. Her voting record is one of supporting progressive policies and legislation again and again. One of the literal strongest progressives to have been in major office in the last two decades, frankly.
 
Do I like everything she’s done? Nope. I wish she had supported marriage equality. I wish she had not supported war in the Middle East after 9/11 (though nearly everyone did, and it was a horrific time).
Again and again the things she’s supported that I don’t agree with are largely things that were going to happen anyway. Because, again, she is largely opportunistic while still largely progressive.
 
This can actually bode well for the country because if the social zeitgeist is there to uphold her progressiveness, she will ride that way.
 
And yes. Yes, I will gladly have a rational conversation about it, with compassion and empathy with people who have been victims of her few unjust policies, or lack of action.
 
I strongly believe that while Hillary Clinton may not be the best candidate that exists for POTUS, she is the best one that is capable of winning. That she is not morally equivalent to Donald Trump. Or ethically equivalent.
 
I believe voting for a third party candidate instead of Hillary Clinton is a lot like choosing to not get chemotherapy or radiation when you have cancer because you want research to be made for a better therapy that is less dangerous, and more thorough, so why not just let the cancer kill your body?
 
Yes. Donald Trump is a cancer. The things that you are against and are railing to change are not going to be changed by not voting for Hillary. If she wins, something may or may not happen to change those things. If Trump wins all of those policies are doubled down on plus, new and more horrific policies and legislation are passed. Because that’s literally what he wants and what he says he wants. That’s what the GOP platform says.
 
You can vote for Hillary Clinton and change the US system to one of viable third parties. Or you can put your protest vote in, and hope that your vote wasn’t the swing vote that voted for not changing anything but making everything worse.

I don’t think you’re a horrible person for wanting better. Or more. You are clearly a compassionate person.

Rage and rail against the machine and create change within the next four and a half years. I think we can do it. The Tea Party didn’t manage to create a third party so much as take over one of the two, but they did it in rather short order, and we can, too. They also didn’t do it by lodging protest votes. 


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Orlando

Can we please stop with the mentally ill comments about the Orlando massacre?
The mentally ill are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it.

Legal competence and mental illness are a wholly different thing than the mental illness with which you’re trying to label people who do these abhorrent crimes.
We have a culture that is absolutely driven by bigotry and violence. It is absolutely not surprising (though still always shocking) when someone is susceptible enough to that messaging that they do something horrific.
That most people do not is testimony to the overwhelming triumph of compassion and empathy in most humans.

Look around and you will hear and see so many examples of bigotry and violence being encouraged and lauded. You will see people, under the banner of their god, claiming that other people are unfit to exist.

Don’t pin it on Islam, either, because I can pull far more headlines about Christian leaders who have called for the punishment or death of those who are LGBTQIA than Islamic leaders.
I know that’s because we’re in a Christian nation, so it’s more likely to be Christians here than Islamic people, but in this the two faiths are fairly united.
Yes, large swaths of Christianity are now or have been already accepting of LGBTQIA people, but that is also true in Islam. Just as there are gay pastors, there are gay imams. Just as the gay imams are hated by some within their own faiths, the gay pastors are hated by some within their own faiths, too.

This is our culture. You feel the need to repudiate it. YOU SHOULD. Don’t pin it somewhere else, though.

I will not name the gunman, because he should be forgotten though his deed will not, but you should know that he was not a foreigner.

He was a US citizen. He had been to the nightclub several times prior, according to witnesses. He had used Grindr to chat with at least one of the witnesses.
His ex wife says he was abusive. His coworkers thought he was overly violent in his comments.

This was definitely someone who was deeply troubled, and used the banner of religion to attempt to make his cowardly actions noble.

Don’t give him excuses. Don’t explain away his actions.


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Grammar and communication

Hey, so like, just between you me and the fence post? I totally have to fight myself on editing out my grammatical crimes when I rant.
I know that using “and,” and “but” at the start of sentences is awkward and fairly incorrect in a general sort of way.
I use them that way on purpose.
The rhythm of the breathless scream is one without true pauses.

Grammar is a workbeast that helps us plow the fields of nonsense into communicative sense.

Sometimes the world is nonsense and words will sort of reflect that, though.

I know that the work of communicating and bridging the gap between those who want better and those who have not yet found themselves on that path is not built on the back of grammatical frankensteinean monsters. It will be done piece by piece and act by act in slow and quiet conversations that lovingly embrace. It will be in midnight revelations over cups of coffee. It will be done by loving and firm interaction, followed by loving and firm interaction, followed by loving and firm interaction. Ad infinitum. Ad astra.

A rant will not change the world. It does not heal the hurts. Scales have never been struck from the eyes. They have always fallen on their own because healing happened.

Outrage does not oust rage. It does not slay the monsters.

Outrage does see the the damage, though. It follows the path of destruction. It is the acknowledgement that the monster is there, and the will to stand in it’s way.

So be outraged. Be gentle, also, though.

Please do not destroy in your efforts to change. You are noble and strong. Be courageous. Stand against the monsters by facing the monsters within yourself.

Instead of distancing yourself from the monsters in others by raging about that gap, bridge to the humans on the other side.

Humanity.

It’s this gift that we all have.

It’s hard to see through the thicket of monstrosity that surrounds it, but we will find the humanity in others when we deny the monstrosities within ourselves that seek to flail and break others.

So, yes. I am angry. I am so angry. Anger tells me there is a threat. The threat is real and I thank the anger for coming. I must face it with love, though. We all must.


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Eaten Alive

All the trigger warnings, friends. Talk of rape and racism and social injustice that is wearing me down and eating me up.
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I feel so wiped by the Stanford rape trial, friends. So personally violated.
This can not be how we address rape. How we address violence. How we address anything.
I feel like, as a culture, we have spent the last few years saying that it’s pretty okay to kill a black man for stealing cigarettes or a black child for simply holding a toy gun, or a black person just for being black.

I feel like when people have said no to that, and rejected it, they got shut down and told to calm down and told to act reasonable and people would come around because the injustice is so clear.

But then we see a white man go into a church full of praying black folk and shoot them all and get a careful police escort, complete with a stop for fast food to make sure he’s well fed.

This woman is a woman. She is a human. She is your sister, your mother, your friend. She is the daughter who is taught when she starts to date to always have money for a ride home because you know that at some point she will have a date where he will not drive her home unless she gives in to his coercion. She is taught to never have her drink out of her sight or left uncovered in case some person puts something in it. She is taught to not walk in parking garages by herself, or dark streets alone. She is taught to look in her back seat before she gets into the car. To carry her keys in her hand as a makeshift weapon. To carry pepper spray. A knife. A taser. A gun. To scream for help.

To scream.

To literally not scream “RAPE!,” but to scream “FIRE!,” because nobody will respond to rape, but everyone will respond to fire.

She is taught, by her very school dress code, that wearing tank tops and shorts that show some particular amount of skin, that it is literally her fault when the people around her can not control themselves.

And it is her fault. Her fault, friends. She is taught that her sexual being is a carefully guarded valuable that is so irresistible that she should simply accept that some people are going to be thieves and take her if she is careless. Like she’s a purse left on the front seat of a car with a window open. Like she is a thing.

A thing.

A thing.

And Brock Turner’s father expresses remorse that his son has lost swim titles. Has to forever register as a sex offender. Won’t express pleasure at eating steak.
Won’t we please think about this poor boy and the future he might have had?

This was just careless drinking and sloppy consensuality.

Just a mistake, and it shouldn’t follow him forever.

And never once does he address the girl’s future. Let’s fall within the tight confines of Christian values and say this girl waits for a wedding night to again have sex. Will she find pleasure in that act? Or will that pleasure be gone to her the way Brock’s pleasure in steak is gone?

Where is the regret for that?

Does that father stay up late at night and ponderously weep about the monstrous act his son committed, or does he only weep about an Olympic dreams he feels have been wrongfully denied his son?

And what about David Wise? A man fully convicted of drugging his wife for three years, regularly raping her while she was unable to defend herself, of taping the rapes on his phone for his own enjoyment. He says he liked her better when she was drugged. She was less snippy.

And the judge tells her, after a jury unanimously convicts him of doing this, this unemployed man will serve no sentence for this but instead remain on house arrest for 8 years. And you should forgive him.

Mandy Boardman should forgive her husband, she is told, to make herself feel better. But Wise? He shouldn’t have to go to jail for doing this.

And I am told that our culture somehow cares so deeply about keeping me and my children inviolate that they will protect me from someone peeing in the stall next to my own stall who happens to be trans because maybe they are a monster?

Our culture does not care about the monsters. They do not care about the potential of black people. Or people of color. They do not care about the potential of women.

Clearly they do not care.

Our culture, our legal system, is not here to protect us.

It is here to protect these men. These white men. If we, their obvious inferiors and simple potential objects that rightfully, or wrongfully, but somehow definitely subjected objects to be owned or used by these white men, if WE somehow catch the white men up in the legal system that was never about protecting all of us but really about protecting and abusing us, the peasantry, if WE catch them up, then they will lament at the loss.
A white man taken down by a mistake. Horror. Lamentation. Flagellation. Are you not ashamed at this loss of potential?

I am being eaten alive, friends. And if you are white, and male, why are you not screaming that this is not okay? Why are you not standing up and saying, “this is not me. I am not this,” the way that you insist that all Muslim people must do for the handful of monsters that they also have within their ranks.

We hide monsters. We excuse them. Stand up. Are you being eaten alive or are you the one eating?

Where are you?


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… and Hope and Charity

I feel very overwhelmed with this US presidential election year.

Usually politics concern me, but do not worry me. I watch and comment and get involved where it seems prudent or useful.

This year feels different. I see the hate speech and violence ramping up at Trump rallies. The machine that the GOP made using the Southern Strategy has been so successful that it created a vacancy that Trump stepped into seamlessly.

His charisma when people feel ill prepared, financially, to achieve and sustain basic life needs appeals to people. His charisma when people feel entirely Future Shocked also appeals to the masses.

I seem to be mostly surrounded by people who do not see the appeal of Donald Trump. Most of us have sat helpless and hopeless watching his effect grow.

Yesterday was Super Tuesday in my state of Georgia and I watched my state’s conservative Primary voters turn out to support Trump. My own feelings of hopelessness grew. I listened to Trump talking about ‘Making America Great Again’ and heard echoes of other similar historical promises made.

I woke up with my mind ruminating on this and spoke with a friend about it. How do we fix this? How can we fix a world where cutting one’s self off from others seems the safest solution, or the only viable solution.

The answer we finally came up with was charity. The world is broken, and the only way to go about fixing it is to directly apply ourselves.

People do not feel hopeless when there is hope. They do not feel helpless when they are helped or helping. They are not prone to the charismatic and empty promises of hatred that are simply an act of cutting one’s self off from compassion and empathy when they have been directly touched by compassion and empathy.

So the question of what to do is charity but the question of what charity is and how to do it remains.

Maimonides said acts of charity are:

  1. Giving an interest-free loan to a person in need; forming a partnership with a person in need; giving a grant to a person in need; finding a job for a person in need; so long as that loan, grant, partnership, or job results in the person no longer living by relying upon others.
  2. Giving charity anonymously to an unknown recipient via a person (or public fund) which is trustworthy, wise, and can perform acts of charity with your money in a most impeccable fashion.
  3. Giving charity anonymously to a known recipient.
  4. Giving charity publicly to an unknown recipient.
  5. Giving charity before being asked.
  6. Giving charity after being asked.
  7. Giving willingly, but inadequately.
  8. Giving out of pity or sadness.

This seems like a reasonable accounting of the ways of doing charity. It even lists the ways that are imperfect, but still doing charity. Life is not perfect, and I am not perfect, so I can do this.

So I am going to dedicate myself to [at least] one act of charity a week. My friend agreed and we will hold each other accountable.

In this way I can help restore the world. No empty promises of making America great, but actual work toward humanity.

Join me?


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8 Gun Debate Stoppers That Have To End

We can not have a reasonable discussion about guns until:

1) we stop saying guns don’t kill people.
– This is literally what guns are for. Even hunting is killing. It may be quite reasonable killing, and a good use, but it is killing. Guns are for killing.

2) we stop using the fallacious argument that owning a gun will somehow stop the tyranny of the government.
– Even local police stations have tanks and riot gear for all at this point. Unmanned drones can kill from the sky. The people in Waco and Ruby Ridge had entire stockpiles of guns. These guns did not save them even a little bit.

3) we collectively let the NRA dictate even researching gun violence.
– There isn’t even a national standard for collecting the data on gun deaths.

4) we can embrace the fact that more things contribute to gun violence than simply owning guns.
– Things like the poverty gap, the drug war, institutionalized racism, a culture that fetishes violence (if you think I’m talking about rap music, step back, I’m talking about our entire culture), etc., all may contribute to rates of gun violence. We know there’s correlation, but is there causation? Hard to know. See point 3 again.

5) we stop putting the buck on “the mentally ill.”
– Mentally ill people are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators. Putting this all on the mentally ill is just another way to say it’s not really “your” problem. In the wake of Sandy Hook, it was literally suggested that we make a national registry of the mentally ill. Not a national registry of gun owners. A national registry of the mentally ill. No. There’s a reason that HIPPA exists.

6) we come to grips with the fact that white dudes who attack people in the name of “freedom,” “anti-feminism,” “white supremacy,” or whatever are actually terrorists.
– Terrorism is not just brown dudes screaming, “Allah ackbar!”* These are forms of fundamentalism. Each one. This dovetails into point 5. We write it off and say the shooter was mentally ill. No. What they were is hysterical. Hysterically driven into a fervor by a culture that promotes fundamentalism. Of all sorts. We say we’re going to “take America back!,” or that “it’s a war on white Christians!,” or “a war on men!” These types of wording are meant to make you feel immediate fear and danger. For goodness sake, the entirety of the Texas government thought that the Obama administration was literally going to attack US citizens in Texas and ship them off to concentration camps. For real. Is it shocking that some people feel like they are in life and death situations? They aren’t “crazy” for feeling this way. Turn into Fox News any night and you will be told that people are coming for you and your way of life.

7) we understand that atrocities happen all over the world at all times, and we figure out how to lessen the reach, and perhaps frequency of these atrocities.
– Rwanda, Syria, Nazi Germany, Cambodia, Armenia, Bosnia, Darfur, the indigenous people of North and South America: all of these were genocidal atrocities. They show how atrocities are not simply carried out by the mentally ill. Whole people get caught up in them. Shootings at schools, theaters, malls, churches, etc.? These are all much smaller scale, but if you look at the media that the shooters left behind, you see that nearly always they hoped to ignite just such a genocidal war. Do guns contribute to the reach? How so? Does it contribute to the frequency? The fatalities? Oh hey point number 3.

8) we stop saying that it’s too soon to talk about this after each and every one.
– Can we talk about it now? No. Too soon. It just happened. How about next month? No, a new one just happened. The month after that? No. Again and again we defer the argument for “later.” Later never happens. “Later” is simply “now” tomorrow. If “now” is always too soon, then we will never move anywhere.

*note – Let’s really also confront the fact that a truly small percentage of Muslims are fundamentalist, and an even smaller subset are terrorists aimed at destroying the US.