I dislike kneeling protesters; but I dislike racist murderers more

Often, the choice isn’t between something you like and something you dislike. It’s often between something you dislike and something you dislike more.

I dislike national figures protesting during the National Anthem. But I dislike more a president who has harsher words for them then he does for white supremacists. I dislike failure to properly show respect for our nation’s symbols. But I dislike more when people, especially those who never served, misinterpret a silent demonstration as a direct insult to those who lost their lives or abilities to preserve our right to protest.

I also dislike the lack of respect for our nation’s many police officers, most of whom are self-sacrificing public servants who risk their lives for the protections of others. But I dislike more the idea that innocent people killed by racist murderers in uniform isn’t a problem that needs to be addressed.

So as unpleasant as I find Colin Kaepernick’s decision to publicly shirk his show of respect for our National Anthem, I’ll take his side over the side of people who would rather he didn’t do so and also rather the issue he has brought attention to not receive that attention.

It’s unpleasant taking the side of people who get payed much more than they should for playing a game. It’s not the side I like. It’s the side I dislike less.

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Last Leper in the Colony

I hope I can be forgiven for being a little apprehensive when a friend or an acquaintance who is not an author asks me to read a book that he has written. But ‘Last Leper in the Colony’, by Wynne LeGrow, MD is clear and engaging, and an important read for anyone interested in religion and politics. Wynne has a knack for describing the ironic and an honest way of describing his own fears and shortcomings that will warm the reader to him and keep the reader looking forward to the next page. No matter what your faith or how strong your convictions are, the influence of religion on politics despite the founding fathers’ efforts to keep them separate, is an important topic that should not be ignored.

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If You’re Not Freaking Out about Net Neutrality…

(image is just text) Urgent: If you're not freaking out about Net Neutrality right now, you're not paying attention

I let July 12 sneak up on me.  I meant to do more to get ready for the Net Neutrality protest but today is July 12 and I hadn’t mentioned it to my friends or even brought it up at the Democratic Committee meeting last night.  Part of the reason – but only part – is none of my family or friends are talking about Net Neutrality.  I don’t see much about it on my Facebook feed.   Net Neutrality is way in the back of people’s minds and a lot of folks aren’t even sure what stand they should take on this issue.  Right now we’re obsessed with Junior’s collusion with Russia to dig up dirt on Clinton.

For those who aren’t ready to jump on the left side of every issue, Net Neutrality might seem like just another case of Liberals asking government to step in and regulate something which might better be guided by the invisible hand of the free market.  I understand that argument.  I think we on the Left generally want too much regulation and before the Right went insane, they provided a rational voice of opposition to our excesses.  There’s nothing  wrong with having someone say, “Don’t you think you’re spending too much money on this issue?”, or “Don’t you think those folks would be better off solving their own problems?”, or “All those regulations are going to make it too hard for people to do what you expect them to do.”

But that rational voice of opposition has gone rabid.  And without that rational voice, people on the Left should occasionally ask themselves, “Is this something that requires more government regulation?”, and we need to train ourselves to say “No” more often than we currently do.  But when our primary source of information is in danger of being overtaken by corporate interests who would be in control of what news and opinions we get to hear, then we should fight to keep that from happening.  I believe our Founding Fathers would agree.

Article 1 Section 8 of our Constitution gave the Federal government the power to establish post offices and post roads.  Early on, the leaders who shaped our nation knew that the government had a role in ensuring that the people had fair access to information.  That role still exists now that the Internet has become our primary postal route.  Allowing corporations such as Comcast or Verizon to throttle the route for some sources of information while keeping it wide open for others would be in violation, at least in spirit, of the guarantee of free flow of information that the framers wrote into the Constitution.

If corporations control our information, they can control us.  We can’t protest abuses of power if we don’t know about them.  We can’t organize if we can’t communicate.  We’re about to cede control of our information to the companies that own the routes through which that information flows.   

Imagine not being able to access the Washington Post or the New York times to learn that Donald Trump Jr was told, in an email, that he would be meeting a “Russian government attorney” to provide dirt on Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump”.  Imagine not being able to read how Republicans are “Taking a sledgehammer to Medicaid” .  

This is why we have a 1st Amendment.   If we lose fair access to information, we lose one of the most fundamental aspects of a free society.  Let’s not let that happen.  It’s easy to let the Net Neutrality issue slip by.  It’s wonky and technical and hard to directly equite to such issues as health care, voter suppression, the environment, or war.  But it’s central to all of those issues.  

So do me a favor.  I’m feeling pretty guilty for not doing more up until now.  Go to www.BattleForTheNet.com and sign the petition.

Thank you.

Update (7/13): Comcast says they support Net Neutrality, but not “reclassification of broadband as a telecommunications service under Title II”. The verge says Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T want Congress to make a net neutrality law [ as opposed to regulation ] because they will write it.

Five possible outcomes for health insurance under Trump and the Republicans

1) Republicans repeal ACA and replace it with something that sucks.  The rich get richer.  “Real Americans” lose their health coverage, get sick, go bankrupt, and die happy because they defeated the liberal agenda.

2) Republicans do nothing to the ACA.  People stay home and watch the next hit series on HBO.  Republicans stay in control and their supporters blame big government for all of their problems.

 

3) Republicans give the ACA a minor tweak.  They rename it “The America First Health Care Act” and declare victory.
4) Trump gets us all killed.
5) Republicans come up with something good and everyone is happy, but it’s still no better than anything we could have had years ago if Republicans had worked with Obama instead of obstructing him.

Spicer’s Lies Mean More Than You Think

There is a post that’s been going around on social media explaining the purposes served by the blatantly dishonest press conference given by Donald Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer.

Sean Spicer at Press Room Podium

Sean Spicer. Uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by user GrahamHughey

I’m worried that the significance of the crazy lies is greater than most people realize, and that the outrage over the new normal will fade.

For most of us (two thirds, according to the post), Spicer’s lie wasn’t meant to convince. It was meant to establish. It’s not like a guy with pockets full of jewelry telling the police that he had nothing to do with the jewelry store that just got robbed. It’s more like the same guy with a gun telling a witness, “You didn’t see a thing”.

With this new normal, Trump can tell us that the economy is booming even if it collapses. He can tell us that public schools are working even as public school students slip further behind their wealthier peers. He can tell us that he has actionable evidence of crimes committed by his political adversaries (“Lock her up!”), and it should go without saying that he can start wars on false pretenses for economic gain or to distract from domestic issues.

Trump and his team know that there has been and will continue to be a backlash against this new normal. They’re prepared for it. Which means that we have to give them more than what they’re prepared for. The resistance must be greater than what any of us have expected. Introverts and TV addicts have to start getting active. People who have never voted before have to start taking an interest in political activity, and it would be great if Sanders and Clinton supporters could come together.

Below is the post that I referred to. It was originally tweeted by Anna Rascouët-Paz, but written by “someone who worked in a past administration”. I transcribed the text ( using Google Drive ) because the original was in a graphic format, so any grammatical errors might not be from the original.

If you are puzzled by the bizarre “press conference” put on by the White House press secretary this evening (angrily claiming that Trump’s inauguration had the largest audience in history, accusing them of faking photos and lying about attendance), let me help explain it. This spectacle served three purposes:

1. Establishing a norm with the press: they will be told things that are obviously wrong and they will have no opportunity to ask questions. That way, they will be grateful if they get anything more at any press conference. This is the PR equivalent of “negging,” the odious pick-up practice of a particular kind of horrible person (e.g., Donald Trump).

2. Increasing the separation between Trump’s base (1/3 of the population) from everybody else (the remaining 2/3). By being told something that is obviously wrong – that there is no evidence for and all evidence against, that anybody with eyes can see is wrong – they are forced to pick whether they are going to believe Trump or their lying eyes. The gamble here likely to pay off is that they will believe Trump. This means that they will regard media outlets that report the truth as “fake news” (because otherwise they’d be forced to confront their cognitive dissonance.)

3. Creating a sense of uncertainty about whether facts are knowable, among a certain chunk of the population (which is a taking a page from the Kremlin, for whom this is their preferred disinformation tactic). A third of the population will say “clearly the White House is lying,” a third will say “if Trump says it, it must be true,” and the remaining third will say “gosh, I guess this is unknowable.” The idea isn’t to convince these people of untrue things, it’s to fatigue them, so that they will stay out of the political process entirely, regarding the truth as just too difficult to determine.

This is laying important groundwork for the months ahead. If Trump’s White House is willing to lie about something as obviously, unquestionably fake as this, just imagine what else they’ll lie about. In particular, things that the public cannot possibly verify the truth of. It’s gonna get real bad.

It’s Not Hypocritical To Review the Election

A commenter on an article in the Independent about how the election might have been rigged wrote this

Liberals lost, they should accept the result. They slated Trump when he said he may or may not accept the result. Severely damaging to democracy to challenge the result they said…except when liberals do it eh.
Turn the result around now, legitimately or not, and all hell would break lose.
This is the most hateful election I’ve ever experienced.

Bullshit. The problem with Trump’s accusations of rigging are that he had no evidence. Even before the election, as he was dropping in polls, he was said the only way he could lose was due to rigging.

We’re not even making accusations yet. Looking at evidence before making accusations while condemning someone for making accusations without evidence is not hypocrisy. It’s the opposite of hypocrisy.

People who Did Less than Clinton, According to Political Insider

There’s an article in the Political Insider, by Rusty, with the headline, “10 Times People Were Punished for Far Less Than What Clinton Did”.

Here are two examples: A sailor who got 34 years for trying to sell classified documents to a Chinese agent, and a man who knowingly passed classified information to the Baltimore Sun for an article on the NSA. For that crime …

Charges were dropped and the NSA manager pleaded to a misdemeanor, in what was called a victory against the Obama administration whom had attempted to use dated laws to prosecute leakers of classified information

So, according to Rusty, attempting to sell classified information to the enemy is less offensive than being careless with emails, and having all charges dropped is the same as being punished.

This article was picked up by Breitbart and other right wing blogs.

This article does more to support the decision not to prosecute Clinton then it does to refute it. Of the ten people listed in the article, the pattern seems clear: People sometimes get convicted for knowingly compromising classified information, but almost never for carelessness.

The list includes:

  • Sandy Berger:
    Violation:Knowingly removed classified information from a secure compartment.
    Penalty: Pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Lost secret clearance. Fined $50,000. No jail time.
  • Peter Van Buren:
    Violation: Violating orders by posting a link to classified information on Wikileaks.
    Penalty: Fired
    Note: Yea, Ok. This guy seems to have gotten a pretty raw deal. But still, no jail time.
  • John Deutch:
    Violation: Having classified information at home, on a government owned computer, after he left the CIA
    Penalty: None. Pardoned.
  • Bryan Nishimura:
    Violation: Removing and keeping classified information at home.
    Penalty: Probation, fined $7,500, loss of security clearance
    Note: This is the best example they can come up with, but unlike Clinton, he deliberately took the classified information home. Clinton did not intend to receive classified information on her server.
  • Bryan Martin:
    Violation: Stole classified secrets with intent to sell to a Chinese agent.
    Penalty: 34 years.
    Note: Way worse than what Clinton did
  • Kristian Saucier
    Violation: Taking photos of a classified space, then destroying evidence while under investigation
    Penalty: Still Pending
    Note: This case, like Nishimura’s is often compared to Clinton’s. But again, this was willful. Also of note, similar violations rarely result in harsh penalties. From a Salon article

    “Two guys in our boat were caught taking photos in the engine room on the nuclear side of things. Basically, all that happened to them was they … lost a rank,” Pitcher said. “I’ve seen quite a few cases like this and never seen any handled like Kris’.”

  • Jason Brezler
    Violation: Personal storage of classified information
    Penalty: Pending
    Note: We cannot use this as an example until we see how it turns out
  • Jessica Lynn Quintana
    Violation: Deliberate removal of classified information
    Penalty: Up to one year and a $100,000 fine but I don’t know what the actual penalty was.
    Note: I bet she didn’t serve time or pay such a high fine, but again, this was the deliberate removal of classified information
  • Thomas A. Drake
    Violation: Giving secrets to a newspaper
    Penalty: 1 year probation. No fine.
  • Donald Willis Keyser
    Violation: Willful removal of classified documents and digital devices from the Department of State
    Penalty: 1 year in prison

This is the top ten list that Political Insider could come up with. None of these examples involved storage or transmission of classified information without knowing it was classified, and several were dismissed.

String ‘Em Up

Scientists, Professors, Librarians, Journalists. Anyone who has dedicated their life to discovering or disseminating knowledge. String ’em up.

photo of man wearing t-shirt saying 'Rope, Tree, Journalist.  Some assembly required'

Photo: Posted on Twitter by Patricia Zengerle (@ReutersZengerle)

Linda Johnson Just Lost My Vote

I was happy when Mayor Linda Johnson showed up briefly for the Don McEachin meet and greet at LeOtis Williams’ center last month, but now I’m pissed off that she sent a flyer out saying, “Endorsed by our Republican delegate Chris Jones.”

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If Mayor Johnson is trying to be a Democrat for Democrats and a Republican for Republicans, then she is indeed a hypocrite. But it’s not hypocritical to appear at a Democratic event hosted by a well loved local businessman and later accept the endorsement of a popular local Republican.

What bothers me so much about this flier is the word “Republican”. I’m not bothered by the endorsement by Chris Jones. Delegate Jones has served his district well and has the support of many local politicians who are, otherwise, Democrats.

But by putting “Republican” in bold letters at the top of the flier, she’s not just appealing to those of us who like and respect Chris Jones. She’s courting low information voters who don’t even know who their delegate is and are only Republicans today because they’re pleased with the nationalism, racism, and all around viciousness that has defined the Republican campaign this year. “Deplorables, I’m one with you. Vote for me.”

Suffolk has a rule that councilmembers run as independents, and for a long time they have honored the spirit as well as the letter of the rule by avoiding such overt appeals to partisanship in their campaign literature.

It is harmful to our city for our mayor to choose this year, when the Republicans have sunk so low that even long term party elites are disgusted, to bring partisanship to the front of our local elections. Shame on her.

So who’s left? I’m suddenly undecided.

Edit: I posted this with “Bishop” Staten’s name at the bottom because I had started to list all of the other candidates, then decided not to, but accidently left Mr. Staten’s name there. In fact, I’m currently torn between Kerry Holmes and Brian Bass, leaning towards Mr. Bass.

Milteer Campaign for Suffolk City Council: Stop Putting Signs In My Yard!

The first time I found an uninvited Milteer sign in my yard, I chalked it up to a simple mistake and moved it down to a spot not in front on anyone’s house. The second time, it went into the can, as did the likelihood of me voting for councilman who held his position for 35 years.

My vote will go to Vanessa Harris. Ms. Harris is a businesswoman who owns a funeral home in the borough, and is also a teacher at Kings Fork Middle School. And those middle school students can be a lot to handle, so if she can teach them and run a business, I think she has the civic mindedness and the ambition needed to represent my borough.

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