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      Mr. Slim goes to Washington… “Painting non stop for over a week I cut my finger on Thursday cutting cardboard with a knife. I could then literally say I put blood, sweat and tears into making paintings for over 100 women from Savannah who went to the Women’s March on Washington.” “Some of the Savannah […]
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      One of the more interesting pieces of writing over the weekend was Robert Reich’s report on his meeting with a friend who had been a Republican Congressperson. I had breakfast recently with a friend who’s a former Republican member of Congress. Here’s what he said: Him: Trump is no Republican. He’s just a big fat […]
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Ascendant Madoka Help Us

Even if you actually believe (without any merit whatsoever) that America is going to hell in a hand basket with shoot’em ups in every city, sexual predators behind every tree and libtards and feminazis scheming to gay marry everyone on the way to the abortion mills, this report on Trump’s terrible horrible no good very bad inauguration has to make you concerned.

Of course, if everything not glowingly positive about Trump is fake, then never mind.

Still, the guy seems very obsessed with his Nielsen ratings…

Announcing your Solidarity. 

My friend Barb sent me a ping this morning:

Solidarity Tie!! We could start a revolution to tie one on every home in Unity for our world, and Human Rights!

I like this.

One of the best outcomes of yesterday’s marches and demonstrations is that we got to see just how many people are as determined, compassionate and angry as we are.

Trump won by .38% of the vote. I’m embarrassed to say the majority of those determining votes came from PA. But here in Pittsburgh, the turnout was spectacular. The organizers expected 400 people to show up. The final number: 25,000. I’m proud to have been one of that number, surrounded by good, decent people whose love of country can not be questioned.

It’s so easy to feel lost and sad and out of step with the country that gave us Trump. But yesterday showed that we are the majority. We are legion. We are ready. We will not go back. Trump does not speak for us. And his supporters should know now that we’re not ready to make nice and accept what is anathema to all that we believe in.

“They tried to bury us only to find out that we are seeds”

Here are some of my pics from yesterday’s Sister March in Pittsburgh.




N

 

(sorry I turned the camera vertical at the end. I keep forgetting this means I have to edit in iMovie later and you all know how much I love to edit)

Barb sent me this option:

Call it “The Pussy Bow”.

I like.

{{wicked grin}}

Self-Mutilation of the Majority

da47274618e8904d435e29d16f9cb3c8I debated going to Washington for the Womens March today but for one reason or another, I decided to stay in Pittsburgh and go to the local Sister March instead that starts at 11am.

It turns out there are *two* womens marches in Pittsburgh today at the same time but in different locations. I would like to be at both but the egos involved have mandated that I make a choice. The first, the Sister March, is the blessed satellite version of the DC event:

Organizers of a Downtown “Sister March for Pittsburgh” have obtained a permit for a demonstration beginning at the City-County Building at 11 a.m. Organizers expect 400 participants. Among them will be City Council President Bruce Kraus, who said, “Part of the foundation of our democracy [is to] hold authority accountable. I’ll be there to do that.”

Across town, the “Our Feminism Must be Intersectional Rally/March,” also begins at 11 a.m., starting at the site of East Liberty’s Penn Plaza apartments, 5704 Penn Ave. The march, which will end at an all-day Summit Against Racism at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, stems from a dispute about inclusiveness with organizers of the Downtown march.

“There was no black woman leadership” even though “black women have been doing organizing work in this town for a very long time,” said Alona Williams, an organizer of the East Liberty event. “People talk about inclusiveness, but we get erased from the narrative a lot.”

After a heated dispute on social media and a fractious meeting, Ms. Williams said she and other organizers “decided we would take this moment to celebrate. … This has turned into something beautiful” — a chance to affirm black women and their allies.

Organizers of the Downtown march could not be reached for comment about the dispute Wednesday. The East Liberty march, for which the organizers have no city permit, is backed by groups including Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania.

So, to recap, these two groups of women’s activists can’t march together because they don’t feel that their own grievances are getting the priority attention they deserve. I was afraid this was going to happen.

Feminism is already intersectional by its definition. Feminism is about the equality of all women. I will never understand why we needed to slap adjectives on feminism. By dividing ourselves into african american feminists and hispanic feminists and lesbian feminists and pro-life feminists (is that an oxymoron?), we have diluted the strength of being the majority of people on this planet. Isn’t it enough to just be women?? Why isn’t that cause for solidarity all in itself?

So, here we are. Two marches in Pittsburgh. I hope the turnout is as good as the day the ERA died and I went to a protest at the Point with a 6 month old strapped to my back, clinging to me with her tiny fistfuls of my hair. I can’t remember different factions that day. We were all grieving together for what we were about to lose. Then came the backlash. Now we are divided and out numbers will look small even though we are many.

The Trumpests are laughing at us. This is why they refer to us as Snowflakes. Our own individual uniqueness will prevent us from presenting a united front.

And that’s a shame. Because we are The Majority. Even here in election day ground zero Allegheny County. Clear thinking, dedicated, hard working, patriotic Americans outvoted Donald Trump here by quite a lot. We bested Obama’s 2012 numbers by 14,000 votes. In fact, anywhere in America where people outnumber the antelope, Trump voters are outnumbered. They shouldn’t be getting too comfortable. They should feel very nervous.

So why are we doing this to ourselves?

Six years ago, Occupy Wall Street burst into fruition in a matter of a few days. Occupys sprang up all over the country with a very simple message: We Are The 99%. It was a very powerful memorable statement.

We are still the 99%. We are now going to be ruled by the 1%. We have given them the keys to every branch of government. There is nothing we can do to stop them until 2018. This is not the time to disintegrate into an aerosol of particles fighting for recognition. This is the time to coalesce and recognize that we need to stick together in order to be effective advocates for our own lives. Otherwise, they will eat us alive.

The clothes you wear are of little loss if you escape from drowning.

 

Have Courage 

Choose Something Like a Star

By Robert Frost

O Star (the fairest one in sight),

We grant your loftiness the right

To some obscurity of cloud—

It will not do to say of night,

Since dark is what brings out your light.

Some mystery becomes the proud.

But to be wholly taciturn

In your reserve is not allowed.

Say something to us we can learn

By heart and when alone repeat.

Say something! And it says, ‘I burn.’

But say with what degree of heat.

Talk Fahrenheit, talk Centigrade.

Use language we can comprehend.

Tell us what elements you blend.

It gives us strangely little aid,

But does tell something in the end.

And steadfast as Keats’ Eremite,

Not even stooping from its sphere,

It asks a little of us here.

It asks of us a certain height,

So when at times the mob is swayed

To carry praise or blame too far,

We may choose something like a star

To stay our minds on and be staid.

Masha Gessen and the Coming Autocracy. 

Let’s just dispense with the chit chat, shall we? The next four years are going to be devastating to many Americans, especially Americans who have not yet retired. So to those of you who have retired and will watch most of this as somewhat passive observers, those of us who are still years away would like to say, “Fuck you very much”.

If we’re lucky, the Republicans will do the shock and awe treatment and the majority of us, including the casual Trump voter, will vote the bastards out of office in 2018.

To recap, Republicans are in charge of every branch of government. They control the Executive Branch with Trump, the Supreme Court and Congress. Do not believe the tripe that Congress can not pass anything without Democrats helping. This is a lie. Procedurally, both the Senate and the House have enough votes to render Democrats non-players even if the numbers by party are close to parity in the Senate. It’s time for everyone to read up on how motions can disarm your opponents.

So, with that being said, here is Masha Gessen, journalist, who was born and worked in Russia. This is what we have to look forward to. She is not exaggerating.


Have a nice day. It might be the last one until Election Day 2018.

Twitching tin foil antenna

Something doesn’t feel right about the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. Consider the following:

1.) Obama’s administration has been notoriously secretive and pursues leakers and investigative reporters with zeal. The Obama years may have been boring because no one was willing to step out of line knowing that they would be ruined financially or imprisoned. 

2.) Regardless of her motives, Manning disclosed some important documentation and State Department secrets to Wikileaks. The disclosures may have compromised assets. We’re not talking about casual emails between political operatives. We are talking serious leaking. 

3.) Julian Assange wanted Manning’s release. We already know that Assange is vindictive asshole. He doesn’t want Manning released out of the goodness of his heart. 

4.) Obama has been weirdly passive about the Russian hacks of the DNC server. He seemed to be perfectly content to bring a knife to a gunfight before the election. Now he’s accommodating Wikileaks after we know there was collusion between the Russians and Assange. 

I’m not saying that Manning’s sentence was fair or that as a transgender woman in a male prison facility that her life isn’t exceedingly difficult. I’m going to guess that anyone who is incarcerated has had something devastating happen to his or her life. Transgender adds a layer of complication but may not be harder than giving your kids up after birth. We should have more compassion for prisoners in general. 

But something about this scenario just doesn’t fit. Is it possible that Assange has something bigger on Obama or the US government?  What is it? 

Because otherwise, this doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. 

Proudly Defying Consensus Reality Since 2008

cjsnmttLong time readers know that I started this blog in response to the ridiculous, over-the-top, pre-accomplishments hagiography of Barack Obama during the primaries in 2008. The man could do no wrong. Don’t even get me started, I’ve written War and Peace over that primary season. And what did we learn from his eight years in the White House? We learned that the media and Obama’s fan base will do almost anything to obscure his flaws. That was fatal for us because if we weren’t allowed to be critical, we couldn’t correct when he was on the wrong track or hold him accountable for poor policy making.

For that early assessment of the media and his mysterious well-heeled fanbase propping him up in 2008, many of us were labeled “racists”. I hope that the left has learned a painful lesson from the last election about throwing that word around. Yes, there are racists. Real racism exists but it isn’t all about Barack Obama, who is a class based aspirational president and not John Lewis. But there many voters who were sick to death of having their perceptions invalidated by that cynical accusation. Unfortunately, some of them did not know when they were being played. We’re still trying to figure out what separated the casual Trump supporter from the lefty voter who simply didn’t like Obama but had no problem voting for Hillary. The Nate Silvers of the world who crunch their models can point to surface causes but I think the answer is buried in how labile we are to pressures to conform and adapt to consensus reality. We may need to find new descriptors for that model.

The purpose of this blog is to defy consensus reality. Commenters here feel safe to say what they think is really going on. The way we do this is by avoiding mental short cuts and slogans and buzz words. If you have a problem with out of control capitalism, calling a politician a “corporatist” is not going to cut it here. You need to say exactly what you mean, think it through, choose your words to convey their intent clearly.

Choosing carefully where we get our news and touchpoint with actual reality will also make a difference. Here are my tips for finding reality based news. Do with them what you will:

1.) Avoid any news source that provokes an immediate emotional response, especially if that response is fear or anger. People who are provoked to anger or fear do not make good decisions. It is difficult to reason with someone who is enraged. Don’t believe me? Think about the last time you tried to have a reasonable conversation with someone in a rage state.

2.) Avoid television news. This means ALL television and cable news programs. The combination of audio with visual cues is very powerful. It doesn’t matter which network you choose. Some are worse than others but they all do it. Just don’t watch it. Give it a week and you won’t miss it. Get to know your family again, take up the guitar, go for a walk. Make the TV a special thing where you binge watch Outlander and oogle Jamie Fraser in a kilt.

3.) If you need to get a quick news fix, try radio. Again, some radio is better than others. NPR used to be my go to. Now, I can hear the narratives built into the scripts. So, be careful with this. Again, if you find yourself becoming fearful or angry, stop listening.

4.) Find reliable sources in print journalism. Even this is getting increasingly difficult to do. There are some sources that are more reliable than others. I read a wide variety of sources like the NYTimes, Washington Post, ProPublica, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Conversation, The Guardian. If it seems like my choices are left leaning, that’s because truth does seem to have a strong liberal bias. That being said, the NYTimes and Washington Post have been lax with their standards in the last decade or so. I wouldn’t necessarily call either paper “left”. But occasionally, you can find articles that are less biased and better investigated. Also, read foreign news sources, like Der Spiegel for an outsider’s perspective. Google translate is amazing.

5.) Try alternate sources for news. I like podcasts. In 2016, we saw a bumper crop of good podcasts, some more analytical than others. Among my favorites, The Weeds from Vox, Five Thirty Eight from Nate Silver and his data modelers, and my current favorite, TrumpCast with Jacob Weisberg from Slate.

6.) Apply the Cindy Lu Who test. If you see a green imp in a Santa suit stealing your Christmas Tree and he tells you a story about taking it back to his workshop to fix a broken light, ask yourself why he couldn’t have come by during the day when your parents were awake. In general, the simplest explanation is the most likely. Conspiracies are rare. Most people are motivated by simple things like greed, revenge, arrogance. (I’m looking at you Rudy Giuliani) Those deadly sins can lead them to do a number of unethical things. But if your favorite news reader starts spewing an improbable scenario, and if that scenario makes you mad before you can figure out if it’s true or not, apply the Cindy Lu Who test and start asking questions.

7.) Read non-fiction. Read history, science, paleobotany, it doesn’t much matter. Find a well reviewed non-fiction book and learn from it. It’s especially good for learning to analyze and that can be applied to the here and now. Some of my favorite non-fiction include, A Distant Mirror by Barbara Tuchman, Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond, anything by Michael Lewis, In the Garden of Beasts by Eric Larsen, SPQR- A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard.

Lastly, check out this diagram of where news sources fall on the left-right, reliable-unreliable spectrum. If you are confused and distrustful about what and who to believe, stick to the top layer in the middle. Even the Wall Street Journal, as crazy as its opinion pages are, has a very good news bureau and high quality reporting.

7xhauxf

We’re about to be bombarded by a high volume of issues and controversies all at once. We will be disoriented. We may have a hard time keeping track of what is going on. Many people who have studied authoritarian regimes say that citizens quickly learn to accept the unacceptable so you are encouraged to write down what your beliefs and principles are right now and check them periodically to see if you are slipping.

Hold hands, stick together, look out for one another.

SWAK!