Burning Fields of America

This was not the post I had intended to publish after such a long period of time since my last contribution. It’s needs to get said though.

There was a time not so long ago in my life that I would have been all over the news commenting on posts, following people on Twitter and putting my strong opinions out on the Internet for anyone who cared to read. I was writing a lot online for multiple sources, ran a few sites for myself and others, and even had a decent following for the short period of time I was regularly active. Free time was consumed by constant thinking about what I was going to write next when I got home and sat down to the computer. I would go through news sites and pin articles to my browser bar that I wanted to comment on later that day more often than not never getting back to them again because something else peaked my interest.

All of this wouldn’t last of course and didn’t all crash and burn at the same time, as it was more of a gradual decline and general loss of interest. Days turned into weeks which turned into months where I wouldn’t even think of writing. I stopped following mainstream news sites, stopped following a lot of my regulars on Twitter, deleted a lot of the news feed apps on my mobile phone too. Focus in my life started to become local instead of global and I worried about things around me and in my neighborhood, town, and local city. In hindsight this was very much an introverted reaction to getting overwhelmed and not knowing how to process or deal.

I recently was up way too late a few nights ago seeing how deep the Internet hole went only to get to a dead battery on my mobile phone never getting remotely close to the bottom. I was left with an odd feeling of hopelessness and dread mixed with anger and frustration similar to how ice and fruit are mixed in a blender to make a smoothie. See, a conversation I had with an old friend I had not seen or heard from in years brought into sharp focus just exactly what has been happening the last few days in this country. He was still very much the same person I remembered from so many years ago who got behind the cause du jour of the day and rallied with the followers of said cause. Through the course of this conversation I came to the conclusion that while he was the same person I remembered, he could not say the same about me as I had changed significantly.

Not sure when it quite happened exactly if I’m being truly honest. All I know is that the way I think about the world around me now is not how I used to think about the world around me in previous years. One really good example of this is when the topic of the president comes up in conversation, now always by someone else and never by me anymore. I listen to comments, hear the negativity spewing from people that I know and most of the time respect, and am left thinking about how obvious it is they don’t read half the articles that give them the “facts” now being spoken. We were always going to get to this point, it was inevitable, a country can only take so much stress before things pop off like a bottle rocket.

A global pandemic keeping people inside, away from social contact for weeks on end is enough to drive most people over the edge. I personally had several weeks back in April where I didn’t think I’d make it this far but I did. Now adding on a horrific event of police brutality that kicks off the worst protesting this country has seen likely since the 1960’s, people are just fed up and done. They’re just done. Things are broken and millions of people across the country are peacefully protesting for change that is decades overdue. I personally am in a weird head space emotionally and I’m having a difficult time processing anything significant in general let alone about protests, government, or a global pandemic.

We need to adapt as a nation to survive I think. The best way I know how to start to do that is by making sure we get someone new occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Violent rhetoric begets violent rhetoric, lets break that cycle.

#coronavirus, #covid-19, #george-flynn, #trump

Three Things Thursday – 03/09/2017

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Yes, still using Winter.  We’re expecting snow tomorrow!

Inspired by Nerd in the Brain

BRING THE HAPPY!

Facebook

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I’ve had an on and off again relationship with Facebook through the years.  I decided, after much thought, to sign back up and ONLY create a page to attach to my blog.  I did that, but in the 2 weeks since I had my account re-created, it has been disabled for 10 of the 14 days it’s been created.  I’m back on at this point, but it’s a only a matter of time before they disabled me again for some other random reason.

New Painting

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Another work of art from my wife’s Girls Night group.  It’s in my office, where all the other ones are.  It’s funny she doesn’t think she’s good, but I think it’s actually brilliant.  I certainly can’t do this.

Trump “State Of The Union”

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I streamed the Presidential address on my Roku, and it was ironic that it was FOX News that was streaming the broadcast.  I added the laser beams from Trump’s eyes and added the bubble “FAKE” if you’re wondering.  Just some humor for today.

 TTT Weekly Music Choice

rockondaughterCorsten’s Countdown 505 by Ferry Corsten

Bans, Russia and Trump Tweets

Reading the news this past week, I’m left wondering who is actually in charge of the country? It’s an odd feeling to have seeing signs that the country you’re living in is actually being coordinated by a loose group of people who may or may not understand truly how government works. I’ve found that BBC News does a good job of covering American topics without a lot of bias, you may feel differently, but the sources in this post are all from BBC News.

On Tuesday, Virginia’s U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema issued a preliminary injunction on the travel ban because it violated the U.S. Constitution in what amounted to a “Muslim ban”. Despite the fact that those words weren’t implicitly written in the travel ban from 7 middle eastern countries, those countries are overwhelmingly Muslim with a very small contingent being other religions.

In her 22-page ruling, the Virginia judge cited several of Mr Trump’s campaign statements including those in which he promised to create a “Muslim ban” if he were elected president. “The president himself acknowledged the conceptual link between a Muslim ban and the EO (executive order),” Judge Brinkema wrote. She also criticised the president’s statements that persecuted Christians may be permitted entry despite the ban, which she said amounts to a religious test. She also referenced a Fox News interview in which former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump adviser, said that the president wants a “Muslim ban” and that he had been instructed by Mr Trump to put together a commission to determine “the right way to do it legally”. Judge Brinkema sharply criticised lawyers for the justice department, who she said did not present any evidence except for the president’s executive order. “Maximum power does not mean absolute power,” she wrote. “Every presidential action must still comply with the limits set” by the separation of powers laid out in the US Constitution.

SOURCE: Trump travel ban hit by new legal setback | BBC News

As if the news coverage and protests on the travel ban weren’t enough to keep us on our toes, Michael Flynn announced that he was resigning as National Security Advisor this past Monday. Only 24 days or so on the job, there has been controversy surrounding this guy regarding his son and Pizzagate weeks prior to his appointment by President Trump. Now he is allegedly involved with conducting phone calls with the Russian Ambassador over the Obama Administrations actions towards the 35 Russian intelligence officers in December. He claimed he couldn’t recall or remember such events, something right out of the Watergate playbook.

Mr Flynn is said to have misled officials about his call with Russia’s ambassador before his own appointment. It is illegal for private citizens to conduct US diplomacy. US reports said earlier the White House had been warned about the contacts last month and had been told Mr Flynn might be vulnerable to Russian blackmail. The national security adviser is appointed by the president to serve as his or her chief adviser on international affairs and defence.

[…] In his first public comments about the controversy, President Trump tweeted on Tuesday: “The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on N Korea etc?”

SOURCE: Michael Flynn: Trump’s national security adviser resigns | BBC News

Do I need to go into detail over the fact that Trump is having an issue with the leaks coming out of Washington when he himself tweets out information that no previous President would have dared send out? I’m a proponent for transparency, but using Twitter as your platform of choice to assist with transparency is eliminating a large group of Americans that don’t have or can’t afford the Internet.  Are we on the verge of our centuries “Watergate” scandal? Time will tell, but the signs are all there and the actions of the White House now will have a huge impact on the mid-term elections in 2018.

From inauguration to full-blown scandal and a high-level resignation in 24 days. That simply has to be some kind of record. Donald Trump never does anything small. If his administration is going to have a political crisis, why waste any time? Mr Flynn has now been cut loose but that may not be enough to staunch the bleeding. Congressional Democrats – and perhaps some Republicans – will want to find out who was informed about Mr Flynn’s contradictory stories and why nothing was done earlier. How far up the chain of command does it go? All of this has some observers dusting off language from the mother of all presidential scandals, Watergate. What did the president know, and when did he know it?

SOURCE: Michael Flynn: Trump’s national security adviser resigns | BBC News

The tweets of the President go a long way in demonstrating that his operating knowledge of the Constitution is limited and he doesn’t have a full understanding of how the systems of government truly work. If he did, he would understand that an Executive Order is subject to the same checks and balances as any law passed by the Congress and it’s the Judiciary that determines constitutionality when a case is PRESENTED to them, never before.

Day to day, it’s the 94 District Courts which deal with interpretation of US laws, treaties, and public officials – powers devolved to them from the Supreme Court. But the courts do not offer opinions on government policy unless they are asked – they only interpret law when a case is brought before them. The other two branches of government make and enforce the laws, and the judicial branch interprets the laws when there is a dispute. That is the issue here – a presidential executive order has all the force of law, and is subject to the same checks.

SOURCE: Taking on Trump: Is the US facing a constitutional crisis? | BBC News

checksandbalancesus

As the Constitution states: The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made…  US Constitution, Article III (2)

Someone should send President Trump a copy of the U.S. Constitution so that he may reference it before singing anymore Executive Orders. With all the negativity that has surrounded this administration the last four weeks, one thing is for sure, we’re living through what will likely be a dark time in our countries history.

I’m a Libertarian, officially

This past Thursday, I wrote that I had submitted my voter registration change form to switch from the Democratic party to the Libertarian party.  Here is the screen grab I made to signify the change.

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There were ONLY three choices, another example of how we’ve been forced into a two-party system with no real choice.

Years ago I had been registered as an Independent and revelled in the calls and visits to my home practically begging me to switch to the Republican or Democratic party. The only real argument that really had any weight with any of these people is that I didn’t have the ability to vote in primaries and was “stuck” with who won both parties at the regular election in November. It wasn’t until 2008 that I decided to switch to the Democratic party so that I could vote in the primaries for the next President. Out of both parties, which I now see more similar than different, I aligned more with the Democrats (at that time). I’m going on record here that I actually voted for Clinton in my state primaries and in my defense, I had no idea about our political system in 2008, my eyes were still covered. When she lost, I ended up voting for Obama and 4 years later, voted for him again. If I had known then what I currently know now, I probably would have not voted for him in 2012, but still would have voted for him in 2008. Obama’s challenger in 2008 did not appeal to me in any way and his policies were old-fashioned.

Well, fast forward to this past Friday and my state election board accepted my voter registration change and is sending me out an updated card. I feel this is the right choice to make right now for several reasons that I’m going to go into shortly. I had a long conversation with my wife over this weekend about this change as she used to be a Republican but recently has been questioning the political system as I have been. It was a spirited conversation that had its moments of raised voices and interruptions to make points, mainly from her as I kept myself rather reserved in tone and volume. I’ve invested significant amounts of time reading, learning, reading some more, observing, more reading…… My wife is more the “did you see this on Facebook?” kind of person that asks questions about whether what is posted is real or not. I’m working on her, but it’s a slow process as politics is so not her favorite subject to talk about let alone read about. She did admit that she voted for Johnson in this past election based on the conversations we had leading up to the election. My views and supporting detail of those views convinced her that neither Trump or Clinton were good choices and I’m sure she checked up on some of them.

At this point you’re probably wondering why I would remove my ability to vote in the primaries. The blunt and simple answer is that I think the primaries are ineffective. As voter turnout is public record, I did some research on the recent elections for my state and was shocked to see the numbers for voting-elegible population (VEP):

  • 14% Primaries (2012)
  • 59% General Election (2012)
  • 36% General Election (2014)
  • 33% Primaries (2016)
  • 62% General Election (2016)

SOURCE: United States Elections Project

Looking at the 2016 general election, across 50 states and the District of Columbia, the average turnout was only 60.5%! In raw numbers, an average of 39.5% of VEP did not vote for our current President. This represents a 20 year low in voter turnout that has been showing a down trend in recent years. Nearly 40% of the country that is eligible to vote doesn’t bother to show up and actually vote? That is just sad. I personally refuse to be so jaded that I stop voting all together because damn, it’s still my right in this country and hasn’t been taken away (yet).

I changed my party because I want to bring awareness to the people in my small circle that a two-party system is no longer effective anymore and in some arguments is just broken. It has been warped and altered, slowly, over the last few decades, to become something of a trivial formality that is constitutionally required but rigged for the candidates that named their number and are now playing the game as pawns in the oligarchy that has emerged. All the emails leaked leading up to the general election painted a picture of corruption, manipulation, media control and a general lack of accountability to the American people. Would Bernie Sanders have won the Democratic nomination if there wasn’t corruption and fair coverage in the media? We’ll really never know as it’s doubtful that he will run in 2020.

libertarian_party-svgBy my being a Libertarian, I’m rebelling against the status quo and sending a message that I’m not a sheep that can be placated and condescended into thinking that my life is only worth as much as I can spend at the store. I have joined the revolution that is questioning the system, interrogating the system, researching and learning all the details that the system doesn’t want me to know. Changing my party to Libertarian is a signal that I’m now aware of the game that has been perpetrated for at least the last 40 years. I’m going to encourage others to do the same; whether Libertarian, Green, or even Independent. Choosing anything other than Democrat or Republican on the voter registration form is sending a strong message to the ones that are in control. The sheep have seen the wolf and word is spreading.

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Unofficial logo of the Libertarian Party, a porcupine, symbolic of just wanted to be left alone (from the perspective of government)

Tech only a President could love

I bet with a new Monday/Thursday schedule, and the touted “inauguration to end all inaugurations” now over, the first Monday post I make would be about that.  Well, I’m a geek, and an introvert, so I need time to process the circus from this past weekend.

Given that all the attention has been on the inauguration, I was extremely happy to see an article published on the Presidents use of his smartphone late last week.  Trump currently uses a commercially available Android device that became a massive national security threat once he became President.  Any device the President uses that is connected to the Internet and not behind the government’s network firewalls is an opportunity for information to leak into the world and undermine his and most likely our countries security.

The question of what phone a president carries — and what he or she does with it — is a serious matter of national security.

Take a president who likes to make policy announcements on Twitter at three in the morning and the matter becomes even more urgent.

After all, when Donald Trump tweets, the stock market shifts. If someone were to read what he was preparing to tweet by breaking into his smartphone and using keylogging software, even with just a 30-second head start, it could make some people very rich and potentially cause serious damage to the national economy.

SOURCE:  For the sake of national security, Donald Trump needs to trade in his cellphone

Considering that my current phone is encrypted, requires a pin to even boot the phone before the system is unencrypted AND requires both a pin and fingerprint to unlock, I consider my device to be relatively secure.  If this same phone were in the hands of Trump right now, and a state sponsored attacker knew what it was, they could most likely crack through all that security relatively quickly.  There is hardware in the phone that I don’t have control over and therefore, is vulnerable to an attack that I’d never knew happened until it was too late.

Despite having access to some of the best technology out there, President Barack Obama still uses a Blackberry.

According to the New York Times, Obama “carries a specially modified, highly secure” Blackberry, despite the fact that many White House aides now use iPhones.

SOURCE:  Obama Still Uses a Blackberry

I’m sorry, but there is something wrong with the most powerful person in the United States still using a Blackberry.  It’s irrelevant that it’s a specially modified version that is highly secure.  Don’t take my displeasure as negative though, I loved my Blackberry and if they were still a relevant company, I’d still be carrying one.  The technology being used at the White House should be the best in the world in my opinion and there is no excuse for it not to be.

Trump, 70, rarely uses a computer and sifts through stacks of newspapers, magazines and printed articles to read the news. He panned candidates’ reliance on data and technology in presidential campaigns, preferring to make decisions in part based on the reaction from audiences at his rallies. While Trump’s tweetstorms are already legendary, he utters some of his messages out loud and leaves the actual typing to aides.

SOURCE:  Obama boosted White House technology; Trump sees risks

No offense to the older generation out there reading this, because you’re reading this from a computer and already light years ahead of Trump in the use of technology.  I actually respect that you do a lot more than I can ever put into words.  I don’t see how Trump, not using a computer, will be able to continue his tweetstorms when his smart phone is locked down like Obama’s was.  Trump doesn’t have a choice here as, by law, he has to accept the technology and protection given to him by Secret Service, White House Communications, and Dept of Homeland Security.  To continue using Twitter, it will have to be with a laptop/desktop until a suitable compromise can potentially be made.  As much as I like to see his ranting at 3am being done from the gold toilet he no doubt brought with him to the White House, as President, there is a certain level of individual composure expected from the world stage.

Sean Spicer, named the White House Press Secretary on Dec 22nd and White House Communications Director on Dec 24th, has his hands full with President Trump.  Who knows, with an unorthodox President, there may be some radical changes to how the Office is handled going forward.  Trump’s lean towards anti-technology in favor of human couriers doesn’t give this geek a warm fuzzy feeling on the inside.  I’ve discovered that the loudest and strongest supporters of technology (and the Internet) are usually the ones that have never used and therefore don’t understand.  I see that as sort of screaming about climate change and having a coal fired furnace in your house, a bit of an oxymoronic hypocrite.

We’re only in the third day of the next four years.  What happens is literally in the head of Trump, cooking, ready to be served to the American people.  Should we close our eyes while going over the first drop on the roller coaster or throw our hands up in the air and scream?

Deadly integration of militarism and capitalism

I didn’t mean to start out the new year of 2017 with a downer and most likely opinionated post. That is what has happened though as I decided to read an article with an unassuming title that ended up pissing me off. If you’re interested in reading the source article for all the quoted text:

SOURCE: America Deconstructed: the Great Unraveling

This is what started getting me pissed off…

American GREATNESS is code for world dominance in all areas of life; arguments to the contrary are matters of unjust defamation and internal subversion.

As if we’re so awesome, in our privileged arrogance, to believe that we’re superior to everyone else in the world. What is an American anyway? British, German, Irish, Russian, etc. We all have multicultural roots as hundreds of thousands immigrated to this country from the 1400’s to the 1700’s most often as a punishment. A lucky person was considered to have survived the trip to the “new world” only to be met with conditions worse than the ones they left. I submit that America is not great anymore, we’re not #1 in things that matter, like education and industry, but in things like gun ownership and incarceration. We’ve spent the last 15 years, at least, pushing a military agenda to fuel our capitalist machine to grow wealth for a relatively small portion of our population. Our elite have managed to transform our country into an Oligarchy. Head here to read a good post about oligarchy on In Saner Thought.

Business has been allowed to expand practically without limit, banking even more so, but it is the military factor that has given American capitalism its particular identity, a capitalism bent on solipsistic force-feeding, the ingestion of world power at the expense of other nations and our own people (upwards of 90% of them). Militarism and capitalism comprise a heady brew: the martial spirit turned inward, to ensure conformity with the System as it is, and complicity with its criminal activities (as in war crimes, or more difficult to discern, legitimated violence, in which society’s upper groups enjoy a privileged status, the violence practiced on those below).

The gold standard stopped being a standard in 1971 thanks to the Federal Reserve and Richard Nixon. Ever since then, there has been a slow erosion of policies and law that hindered business and banks from making more money at a quicker pace. The repeal of Glass-Steagall brought banks and lending institutions into the financial market mix as well in the 1990’s. The Fed ran with a 0% interest rate for several years leading up to the financial crisis of 2008-09, where no one in business or banking was held accountable, but Lehman Bros. was used as a scapegoat. My opinion is that they were used to show other businesses what would happen if they didn’t fall into line with the oligarchy that had taken control of our financial systems. The far-reaching powers granted to the President to use military force abroad to protect national security and punish terrorism and those who are harboring terrorists further fueled the capitalist machine.

Finally, don’t judge Trump too harshly, unless of course one is prepared to judge his peers by the same standards as well. Obama is Trump, without the hotels! He is Cheney, without the Wyoming twang, or Bush, the Texas ranch. He is what may be termed, an ultra-imperialist statesman, using liberal cosmetics to disguise policies of repression (targeted assassination, a blip on the radar screen of evil, outweighed by policies, e.g., nuclear modernization) which can bring down the house. Trump is not thereby exempt from criticisms and responsibility; he is a distillation of American political culture (and US culture in general), rashly opinionated, inflated in self-esteem, reactionary in political-economic core beliefs, hateful of those who do not see things in the same way he/she does. This is the start of a bleak winter—not for ourselves alone, but for everyone on the planet, as America’s destructive tendencies come more and more to the foreground.

The eyes of history will be the true judge of Trump and the U.S. democracy in the coming decades. We’re living through an interesting time, faced with a fork in the road, we chose to go with the wildcard candidate hoping that things will get better. The problem I see though, is that corporations, banks, and lobbyist purchased government officials are actually running the country. The President is just the lipstick on the pig that the American people are allowed to see. When media is controlled by the oligarchs, when the financial systems are controlled by the oligarchs, when the government is controlled by the oligarchs, are we not therefore, living in an oligarchy?

It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better if, and when, the American people decide that they’ve had enough of the current system that is systematically favoring the wealthy.

Call to Action: Electoral College Reform

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This isn’t the first time I’ve complained about the Electoral College (EC) on this blog. It’s an old idea that has endured the test of time and survived into the modern era where we have had at least two elections now that produced a victor that didn’t win the popular vote. There are two ideas that I am going to float and why I think that one or both of them are valid ideas to overhauling the EC rather than abolishing it. The election comes out different on one plan than it does on the other, however I think the first plan is the most fair and most efficiently removes the stranglehold our current two-party system has on the country. That is the larger problem we face and a change to the EC is one step in eliminating that two-party system.

Option 1 – Electoral Votes by State Popular Vote

Source: What if Electoral Votes Were Awarded Proportionately This Year?

Hypothetical 2016 Presidential Result: Clinton 261 / Trump 259 / Johnson 17 / Stein 1

With a change to the EC that awards EC votes based on State popular vote, the difference between Clinton and Trump is much closer to result of the actual popular vote. If this system had been put in place in 2000 during the election of Bush vs. Gore, Gore would have won. I don’t have the actual numbers on that election, however some quick math would back up that statement. Both of the elections with Obama would have also been much closer to the actual popular vote and in this case, he would have won both 2008 and 2012 elections, but by much smaller EC margins. In the spirit of the EC and how it was intended to be used, a change in how the votes are awarded is a small change that doesn’t fundamentally alter its function.

I was not a supporter of Trump or Clinton, but would have accepted this result (as I have accepted Trump) none the less. The main road block I see with this potential change is the current two-party system as a whole. Everything for the last 240 years has been based (and gamed) on having only two parties existing. It would no longer be a race to “270”, rather, it would be a race to see who can capture the most American votes in an election. The Republican and Democratic parties would, for a short time, still hold most of the seats in Congress and capture most of the popular vote, but as more candidates enter in from other parties their control would slowly erode away. As a result of this change, the primaries in each state would have to allow everyone to vote, regardless of party, to choose who will stand in the elections. My belief is that making these changes in the spirit of modernization will better help our country into the future and strengthen our Democratic process and stop it from weakening.

Option 2 – Electoral Votes by Apportioning Congressional Districts

Source: What would happen to the electoral college if Congressional districts were apportioned evenly?

Hypothetical 2016 Presidential Result: Trump (math not given, not verified)

This option wouldn’t necessarily change how the EC works, however would make the population more representative in the House. In short, the 1929 Act that limited the House to 435 seats would be repealed and replaced with a new amendment that changes the maximum size of a congressional districts to somewhere around the size of Wyoming.

By fixing the maximum size of every House district equal to the size of the smallest district—currently the entire state of Wyoming and its 563,626 residents, according to the 2010 census—proportionality would be returned to the House. Under this system, called the Wyoming Rule, the House would grow to 545 representatives, with California gaining 13 new seats. Texas (nine new seats) and New York (seven) would also be among the big winners.

The benefits of this change would be a more representative government based on population:

Rebalancing the House would be healthy for lots of reasons. Among them, urban areas would finally have equal weight, and federal dollars might start flowing in proportion to where more people live.

And while small states would lose some clout, as long as they all send two senators to Washington, they would still have an outsized say in government.

In this scenario, Trump would have still won the EC. This option also doesn’t reduce the reliance on a two-party system as instead of 270 to win, it would require 325 to win. As with the previous option, any change in the right direction is a good change in my opinion. As the system currently exists, smaller populous states have much more power than larger populous states that in 1910 wasn’t a problem, but in 2016 has unbalanced the system of representation.

Final Thought

I think both of these options are necessary to bring balance to the system of representation. An election of President that mirrors more closely the actual popular vote would go a long way in restoring American’s faith in a system that has consistently shown it can and does fail them. As with any proposed amendment to the Constitution, it is important to note that the process is complicated and requires support from at least 38 states. The uphill battle is just starting and this year I don’t think it will fade as it has with previous years.

What are your thoughts?

Human first, American second

I’m not feeling Three Things Thursday this week. Having been absorbed into election coverage, reactions, and getting over my own brief shock yesterday morning, I have a renewed sense of purpose and see an opportunity for us as American people to stand together. This country is divided, decidedly so, but what’s done is done and the 45th President has been selected through one of the last vestiges of democracy we have left in this country. We have spoken, loud and clear, that we’ve rejected mainstream media’s attempted manipulation of this year’s election. Almost all news leading up to the election proclaimed an almost certainty that Clinton would win, ignoring the level of anger and rage people have had building up across the country.

I have chosen to accept our next President despite the fact that I didn’t vote for him. He is deserving of the same level of respect and open-mindedness that I grant to everyone. While I do know quite a bit about Trump already, becoming the President is just about the biggest life change any one person can have. I’m skeptically hopeful that he realizes this and uses this opportunity to become the President that this country desperately needs and uses his position to guide the government so that the American people come first, not the socialist elites. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that he won’t treat this like another reality show and media circus that his primary and campaign ultimately turned into.

I have chosen to be optimistic of our future for the sake of my daughter, who turns 10 next month. She has been asking a lot of questions about the election and has heard some really crazy statements from her friends at school. Some of the parents that I see and talk to on a regular basis have not been so optimistic and their children are feeling the negativity and anger of their parents without the context to completely understand. I took the time to sit down with my daughter and teach her about democracy and freedom in a way that she can understand and opened the dialogue for her to ask questions without fear of repercussions. We have had a few of these conversations with her friends over as well, and I’ve been careful and aware of the words that I use and how I explain things so that it’s heard without bias (not always easy). We have four years until the next Presidential election, it’s going to go a lot faster if we’re working together.

I have chosen to not be as opinionated when talking with people who already have strong opinions. I now understand that strong opinions often cause a knee-jerk reaction to dig your heels in and not listen to what is being discussed. My approach has been more subtle and fact based with sources cited as often as possible. I’m trying to encourage people to do their own research and start to understand the system that’s in place right now. You really can’t begin to change anything if you don’t understand it completely first, which is something that I’m still struggling with daily. Although I know a lot more now than I did 6 months ago, the system we currently have has been four decades in the making and mostly hidden behind mainstream media spin and misdirection.

This piece, written by a Canadian, is more American in spirit than how most Americans are their entire lives. It’s a call to arms to reject the hateful and disrespectful practices of the past and finally fight collectively for human rights. Human rights regardless of who, what, why, how we are. I have had a difficult time understanding how someone can be angry at someone else for something that happened before both their lifetimes. George Santayana said “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” and it’s as true today as when it was originally spoken. We moved past British oppressive rule and created our own country in 1776. We ended slavery in 1865 and the Civil War ended. We survived the 1960’s and appeared to have moved past racism and hate in this country; we elected an African-American President in 2008. I’ve always treated others as I’ve liked to be treated, but am offended when I’m judged by others that don’t know me except for my external appearances. I don’t trivialize or dismiss the pasts atrocities and do not pretend to know what its like to live anyone elses life. Without civilized communication and mutual respect, we’re doomed to continue repeating past injustices.

The air is thick with anger. It’s up to us to come together and work through our differences once and for all. It’s up to us to figure out how to accept our differences because it’s the differences that make us stronger as a species on this planet. Let’s do this!

Open letter to Commission on Presidential Debates

I would like to offer my congratulations to you for once again stifling the opportunity of the American people to learn about more than just two candidates.  This year I believe is going to be the last year that you’ll have the opportunity to operate in the shadows quietly supporting the Republican and Democratic parties and the two-party system.  There is a growing sentiment in the American public that believe that a two-party system no longer represents them completely.  The favorability number on Trump and Clinton are clear indications of this sentiment.  In addition, the arbitrary rules that you have created to prevent another Ross Perot 1992 incident from happening appears to be in contradiction of your own mission posted on your website.

The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) was established in 1987 to ensure that debates, as a permanent part of every general election, provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners. Its primary purpose is to sponsor and produce debates for the United States presidential and vice presidential candidates and to undertake research and educational activities relating to the debates. The organization, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) corporation, sponsored all the presidential debates in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012. (Source:  Commission on Presidential Debates:  Our Mission)

According to your own mission, you “ensure that debates … provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners.”  The requirement that a candidate (not part of the Republicans or Democrats) meets 15% support in allegedly random polls selected by your organization is unfairly biased and restrictive to anyone opposing the two-party system.  Two of the five selected national polls were owned by the same company.  I wrote about that here.  This 15% rule was enacted, I believe, after the 1992 election cycle where Ross Perot had secured 20% of the popular vote that year and threatened the two-party system as an Independent.  The 15% rule is too high, and, if a candidate is listed on the ballots for all 50 states, should automatically receive a spot in the debates so voters can be given the best possible information on a candidate that is statistically able to achieve 270 Electoral votes.

The CPD obtains the funds required to produce its debates every four years and to support its ongoing voter education activities from the communities that host the debates and, to a lesser extent, from corporate, foundation and private donors. Source:  Commission on Presidential Debates:  An Overview

As I’ve not reviewed the tax records for the CPD, I’m only theorizing as to the sources of funds required to produce the debates.  It’s stated here that corporate, foundation and private donors provide a smaller portion of the funds required.  Corporate donors as in large mainstream media corporations?  Foundation donors as in The Clinton Foundation?  Private donors as in oligarchs such as Rupert Murdoch and the Koch brothers?  I’ll leave this one for others to think about.

The final sites and dates for the debates are chosen by the CPD board of directors and announced approximately one year in advance; this allows for complete logistical preparation by the CPD and the media, and for the sites to take full advantage of debate-related curricular additions. (Source:  Commission on Presidential Debates:  An Overview

Although the dates were selected for this year over a year ago, they interestingly fell on dates that traditionally had other major events going on:

  • September 26th: Monday Night Football
  • October 9th:  Sunday Night Football

Why wouldn’t all the debates take place on a Friday or Saturday to maximize complete viewership and accessibility?  It just seems odd to me and I’m sure I’m not the only one that has made this complaint.  Case in point:  Trump Complains About Debates Conflicting with NFL Games, ABCNews

As a registered voter and an American, I’m disappointed with the CPD and their obvious manipulation (with their own rules) to ensure that the people don’t have everything they need to be as informed as possible.  I agree that the CPD is required, however it should have membership with people who are not affiliated at all with politics to remain as nonpartisan as possible.  I support Gary Johnson’s and Jill Stein’s fight against the Commission on Presidential Debates, however the system had prevailed and blocked them from being able to participate unless they met the 15% polling requirement (which they didn’t).

It would appear an informed electorate is frightening to the rulers of the “used to be” Democracy.

Real news makes me nauseated

 

counterpunch Inside the Invisible Government; War, Propaganda, Clinton & Trump

So, I read this over lunch today.  I stopped eating, having gotten sick to my stomach.  What I can’t figure out is whether the American people are so trusting that they believe everything they see on mainstream media (MSM) or they just don’t want to discover the truth through a collective TL;DR mentality.  I read Counterpunch.org on a daily basis now.  I choose now to not fall into line with the rest of MSM and what they’re feeding the American public because I think its important we know what is actually happening.  If all the details aren’t known, the opinion you form on what *is* known is fundamentally flawed and incomplete.

MSM is so good at delivering news to us, usually in the background, that broadcasts almost have a lulling type of cadence to them.  Speech is measured, tone is even and dull, anyone listening is lured into a false sense of security and understanding.  Where is all the reporting of even half of what’s in the above article on Iraq, Iran, Honduras, Syria, Yemen?  Why aren’t people angry over the fact they’re getting played for idiots?  Well, not being one of them, I can’t give an honest answer; I’m reading real news, I’m angry, I’m talking to anyone who’ll lend me half their attention to shake the fog that has descended over the American public.  Knowledge is the power the MSM, government, politicians, and rich white privileged people don’t want “commoners” to have.  The propaganda spin machine is full throttle and speeding along faster than ever in the last 100 years.

counterpunch Roaming Charges:  Comfortably Dumb

Here is the opposite side of MSM and it’s minions.  When things are happening that are hard to hide from, you just ignore them.  No comments, no reports, no opinions.  Just play “dumb” to the few scant reports that actually get through the paid-off, sort of self-imposed, media blackout of the events.  HRC has a long and verifiable history of dodging claims of impropriety, greed, war mongering, and the such.  When you know the media is owned and controlled by people that are in collusion with you to feed the propaganda machine, it’s frightening easy to make up whatever story that suits your needs.

I think I’m going to create the CounterPunch diet.  Read real news, everyday, and you’ll lose weight because you won’t WANT to eat anything.