pollychromatic

the world through rainbow eyes


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Who Killed the Bill?

So the proposed health care bill from the GOP is DOA.

Which feels like a win. And it is. But there is a deeper story here that is troubling. I really want you to think about this.

This happened yesterday. “This” being the Koch Brothers (and a few other high donor players) saying they will not back legislators that pass it.

Now while we all have known for quite a while that we are living in a plutocracy, this is an absolute confirmation of it. I really want you to consider that this bill was slated for more tweaking. That it was a campaign promise from Trump (who has been very swift in attempting to fulfill campaign promises). That it was a planned for and expected thing for seven years now.

And the Koch Brothers simply killed it with one fell swoop.

So, while I’m happy that this iteration is dead, this is a disturbing way for it to be killed.


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Never Forget, or the Rise of the Alt-Right

We don’t say “Never Forget” to memorialize the people who were killed. Their memory is important. Desperately so. That’s not why we say it, though. We say it because it must be understood that this is a thing that happens. That humans create holocausts. That they can happen anywhere. That humans can easily find themselves willing to send their neighbors to death through their own lack of vigilance, awareness, or even belief.

This is horrible and not okay. Absolutely none of this is okay. The German people were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Russia were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Cambodia were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Belarus were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people of the Soviet Union were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Armenia were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Rwanda were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in East Timorese were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Burundi were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Iraq were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Guatemala were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Bosnia were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Pakistan were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Bangladesh were not especially bad people. They were just people. The people in Syria were not especially bad people. They were just people.

These people and countries that I list here are not all the genocides in history. They are just a majority of the ones from the 1900’s onward. Not. Even. All. Of. Them.

It happens. Not because people are bad. But because people commit genocides when they are desperate. Because when things don’t make sense we tend to say become insular and say it’s “them” or because we need to return to “good values.”


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Stop Equivocating

Dear Trump voters, third party voters and non-voters, I get that you have not really been affected by what has happened and see all of politics as mostly theater. So it feels mostly inconsequential to you.

You’ve listened to media pundits who literally have made their living hyperbolizing that the media is unbalanced to such a degree that things like “Jade Helm” went beyond the tinfoil hat circuit and became an actionable item by a state government.
We have internet sites that hyperbolize from the left to the right, and hell, even in the middle.

It’s easy to get stuck in the middle and equate all of it as a big ball of bullshit that is impossible to detangle.
Critically analyzing information as being divorced from confirmation bias, peer reviewed, and reputable, is difficult in this time and age.

So what can be done is look at the actual history of people. Pence has a political history. It’s verifiable. Sure, people hyperbolize it, but honestly nobody needs to. His political actions have been disastrous for women, trans people, the disabled, the poverty stricken, and gay people in Indiana.

Trump has a recorded history as a political pundit and political financier. He also has a recorded history as a business person.

These are known quantities.

The campaign promises of both are ugly and dangerous. Nothing much may come of them, except for the SCOTUS appointment that Trump will assuredly make. Likely to be multiple SCOTUS appointments because of the current ages of the sitting SCOTUS, too.

Now, a lot of what a POTUS does is standard diplomacy mixed with some directional jazz for the country. The SCOTUS part is much farther reaching, though, because of the nature of the job.

We have a carefully balanced federal government that relies on the checks and balances of President, Congress, and SCOTUS keeping each from unbalancing the country into dictatorship and danger. With the terms of each position being a careful part of that balance.

Hyper politicizing the SCOTUS is an incredibly dangerous direction to go in. SCOTUS appointments are lifelong appointments, and the SCOTUS are supposed to be people dedicated to keeping the long term balance of civil rights and the rule of Constitution from overturning on the citizens of the US and our foreign relations (including immigration).

There can be no equivocation that the Republican party has absolutely opted out of that careful balance. They refused the process, and when faced with the possibility of an elected Democrat POTUS declared they would refuse the process for an entirely unprecedented four years (or longer).
There is not and has *never* been an equivalent on the Dem “side.”

So there’s no equivocation.

The Republican goal is absolute ownership of the country. Which is dictatorship. Their stated goals from *there* have been to enact the rule of Christian law (which upends the entire history of this country), and to deregulate all financial and business doings in this country. This is not hyperbole. This is their stated purpose. You can read it straight forward in their statements on actual published by them platforms. You can see the history of it in their actions.

They also intend to reverse Roe vs. Wade, which would similarly have very little historical precedent. There have been very few SCOTUS rulings that have been reversed. The Republican party as a whole has been driven to office over and over in the last 20 years on this promise alone. It’s why preachers and priests stood in front of their congregations on November 6th (and before that) and told their congregations that they would literally be committing a mortal sin and go to hell if they did not vote Republican in the recent election.

There’s no equivocation there. If equivocation is too hard a word, let me use a different one.
This is not a matter of sides that both have points of view that are favorable and unfavorable for people and everything mostly equals out so it’s kind of a wash.

This is a matter of a party that has a stated purpose of upending the careful balance that keeps the stable government of this country from descending into dictatorships and fiefdoms, and another party that likes for it’s citizens to have access to the rights and privileges of the Constitution that our government is founded on.

Those two things aren’t equal.

If you don’t like the direction that the government is going in, and it’s two party system, then you have a possibility of working on that. You have the ability to get involved and help steer us away from First Past the Post voting, and away from Winner Takes All Electoral College elections (and towards population proportional Electoral College appointed votes that create proportioned third party representation).
You can’t do any of that with a party in office that has literally gerrymandered districts so hard that it’s continued small voting pool has dominated US politics (because Trump got even less of the vote than Romney, and yet won the Electoral College). You can’t do that with a party in office that has as a stated purpose to refuse to act with any other party.
They don’t want balance.

And that’s dangerous.

It’s not equal.

Whether or not you combine that with their actions and their stated goals is up to you, but that alone shows that they are actually more dangerous than Dems. No equivocation.

That we keep pushing forward with the idea of media balance and “it’s all the same, why bother?” is ridiculous. Be a grown up and take a hard look.

Just because it hasn’t affected you yet doesn’t mean it won’t.

To paraphrase Neimoller, just because you aren’t trans, or gay, or muslim, or poor, or a woman, or whatever, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t speak out.

This is how that happens. This is how it begins. When you complain about the whining of your countrypeople in speaking out you are advocating for them to be good Germans and sit down.

So either you don’t think you are in danger, or you believe you will be stepping in time with them.


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Why?

I’ve spent the last four days listening to many different opinions about this elections.

I don’t think most of this is getting it right.

It’s worth thinking about the fact that Trump got about the same amount of the conservative vote that has been voting for the last 4 elections. More than half of registered voters didn’t vote at all.

Most people aren’t actively supporting Trump. They aren’t supporting anything. They’re passively giving consent for everything to just continue on as it is, get worse, get better, and no willingness or belief in an ability to get better.

So I want to talk to those people. For real. Why didn’t you vote. This isn’t a statement piece. This is me asking some questions. I’m not going to listen to a lot of equivocation. Just state your reason and move on.

Because those of us that did vote, and lost, want to know what we can do better next time.

We can not afford your passivity. This is your country.


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Water

On August 11th a storm with no name hit Louisiana. It dropped almost three feet of rain in under 48 hours, about 7.1 trillion gallons.

Baton Rouge and it’s surrounding areas have historically been a no-flood zones,
so the residents and infrastructure was not prepared to deal with the horror
that followed. Residents do not have flood insurance as these are not flood areas.

Though this is one of the largest natural disasters to ever hit the US, very little media coverage has made the national airwaves.

Attention brings much needed help in this aftermath. With the media more widely focusing on the Olympic Games in Rio, little of that attention or help has been coming to the people of Louisiana.

These are the words of my friend Randall Flint. His home, along with over 110,000
others in the area, has been damaged by the flood. I asked if I may share them with you all, along with a link to donate to the Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s Louisiana Flood Relief Fund. 
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Water. I’ll need water.

It was about 4:00 AM. Six hours ago, I was sitting in a folding chair, like one you’d bring to the beach. I was watching some local kids play basketball in the parking lot, while I was sucking on a bottle of vodka.

Two hours before that, I was in a local bar, watching flood stories on the news, talking with my fellow patrons about how bad this looked. Even then, I didn’t think it would come after me. I’d never even come close to flooding before, after all.

Now, however, I had been awake for a little bit, due to the commotion in the parking lot, and had moved my car to higher ground. The front of the complex was already too deep for my Civic, so I hopped the curb with a metal on concrete grating, and gotten it to the highest ground available. I went back in the house and started piling everything I had down low, up high. My books. Speakers. My dryer, on the couch. I was still half drunk and half asleep, and for some reason that didn’t exactly make my decision making skills top notch. I’d done the best I could in the time I had, and now I needed to pack. Wallet, Phone, Keys. The essentials. I’d just gotten contacts a little more than a week before, so no glasses. I ate a banana. I figured I could use the potassium. I took a swig of vodka. I don’t normally day drink, but water was seeping past my door into my kitchen, so it seemed like a good idea.

Then I left.

My mother bought this townhouse in 1998. She did it so me and my girlfriend could have an affordable place to stay while we worked though college. I’d moved out long ago, then moved back in. She developed cancer, gave it to me formally, and died. It’d been my home for off and on, 18 years. I had to leave it to the water. Not only that, I had to take water with me. As it puddled around my feet while I stood in the kitchen, I filled a plastic bottle. It would soon be hot out there, and I didn’t know when I’d find shade.

I headed out, and it got to my waist. I was wearing a green pineapple bathing suit, and a black and gold Saints Tshirt, and I had a ziplock bag with everything I had on me. No shoes. Two older women across the way for me were under their covered parking. I walked one of them through the water, it was getting deep. We headed to Old Hammond, seemingly the only high ground around. The other wasn’t about to be lead by anyone. I got to the street, and I decided I was going to walk the few miles to a friends house. Turns out my soles were less tough than machismo. So I went back for my shoes.

I waded though my first floor and tried to ignore it. The water was to my ankles on the tile. I don’t know, I was just saying ‘It’s not there. Don’t worry about it.’. I stomped up my stairs, pointedly ignoring how I was getting them wet. I put on my shoes, then went back down. I pointedly ignored it when I stepped into brown water. It wasn’t river water. It was nothing, you know?

There had been some sort of sleepover in one of the nearby units, they were filing out, so I showed them where to go. I sat in the grass, and was determined to rest. Athletes run through water. Fat IS management types, not so much. Ants had other ideas. There were more than I expected, so I ended up walking back into the water, to get them off. I was getting tired of carrying around all my stuff in a double ziplocked bag, so I went back for a backpack. This time when I came out, it was the Indian…maybe Pakistani couple from across the way.

The older girl always smiled and waved at me when I was checking mail. She was always so shy. The wife of the couple was pregnant, and carrying the little one. The guy seemed unwilling to do much. It’s hard not to judge, I don’t know what his issue was. So I picked up the older one. She’s all bones. Not in like an unhealthy way, just a skinny little kid. It wasn’t so bad, we got back to Old Hammond, she was so shy but she was all grins. Made me smile.

There was more of that, but by 9:00 AM the water was to my chest and the current was swift. I didn’t want to go into my home again. I didn’t want to see any more. Last time I’d gone, for the backpack, the water was over my first step to my stairs and halfway up the next and I wasn’t sure I could just ignore it again.

I walked towards the Ideal Mart. I’d been drinking of my water bottle, and it was getting low. I was tired and just dragging my carcass along the blacktop, feeling like a drowned rat. A pretty latina girl handed me a water bottle from a tub from the back of a truck. It wasn’t like she was asking me, she saw me and shoved it into my hand. It was the first, but far from the last time something like that happened. I made it to Ideal Mart and got ahold of friends, who came and basically rescued my ass, but not before more people came by with more water, which I drank greedily.

I sort of expected water would be scarce and hard won, and everywhere I went people were handing it out as freely as air. This is the part where I should have had some sort of cry and heartbreaking revelation about the inherent goodness of my fellow human but it wasn’t like that. I just…appreciated it I guess.

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If you would like to help the people of Baton Rouge rebuild a donation can be made directly to The Baton Rouge Area Foundation’s Louisiana Flood Relief Fund. 
Help is desperately needed.


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I’m Here From the Future

I’m going to tell you something that I find personally embarrassing and shameful. It’s not a thing I generally discuss, and when it gets brought up in discussion I generally talk around it rather than admitting it.

In November of 2000 I was 28 years old, and I voted for George W. Bush.

I had floated into Libertarianism for a while and was steeped heavily in the values there that big government was a big bad. That the Federal government was overreaching, and that it kept people from acting in their own best interests.

I wish I could explain how I got there, but I’m not entirely sure I could recreate the twisty logic that led me to there. I know what led me out, and maybe I’ll talk about it some other time. Suffice it to say, when I was Libertarian D.C. “business as usual” was a deeply upsetting thing to me.

I found politicians as a whole duplicitous and absolutely not concerned with people like myself, nor most average US citizens.

To my distrustful and cynical eyes, George W. Bush looked somewhat refreshing. He looked kind of aww shucks. His words seemed unscripted, and genuine. I didn’t like all of them, but at least he seemed to be saying what he wanted to say rather than what had been passed to him by various speech writers and spin doctors.

I felt sure that if he made it to the White House, he would shake things up, at least. He wasn’t in the pocket of Washington, despite his own familial ties. Everybody everywhere has a father, but not all of us agree with our fathers, and he certainly did not seem to be echoing his own father.

At the time I had no idea who Dick Cheney was. I knew a bit about politics, but I didn’t research that much. I just had my own ideas and felt like I had a logical head on my shoulders to interpret the information I had without too much additional delving.

This was not really pre-internet, mind you. I was on the internet in 2000, but the 24 hour news cycle had not really gone into full swing yet, and being able to research a candidate, their legislation, and their history more fully was not a thing easily done by non journalists. Most of political talk on the net in 2000 was homegrown usenet style debate and discussion.

So Dick Cheney was pretty much an unknown to me, and just a guy who was picked as a running mate, without a lot of news cycle time devoted to him.

I’m pointing all this out for a reason.
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It’s 2016 now. My 20’s, and even my 30’s are behind me. As the internet has grown, so has my ability to do my own research. I love reading legislation first hand. Love reading deliberations. The vast majority of news has gone from journalism to opinion rags. So my opinions have longer legs, for sure.

Here we are again at that same type of crossroads, though. A presidency is winding up. A new president will take his place and make it their own. Once again we were given the decision of a career politician who seems to represent “more of the same,” an upstart crusader who wanted impossible social justice, and a guy who seems to be an outsider that is ready to shake things up.

In 2000 it was Gore, Nader, and W. In 2016 it’s Clinton, Sanders, and Trump. Sanders has been eliminated and his platform has been integrated into Clinton’s. So what we have left are Trump and Clinton.

One represents a lifetime of politics. One represents an outsider who says what he wants to say and is poised to shake things up.

________________________________________________________________

I want to travel back in time and tell my 28 year old self to look behind the man who is talking in such ludicrous ways that I take it for honesty. Look at Cheney. Cheney was everything that I thought W wasn’t, so why did I not see that W’s choice of Cheney was simply a continuation of the policies of the GOP. I know that because I can look at Trump and see Pence behind him.

Trump doesn’t seem truly interested in the work that goes with being the President of the United States. Other than the ego boost of saying “President Trump,” the man doesn’t seem to care at all about the actual issues. He certainly hasn’t researched any of the myriad things he makes daily gaffes and attacks on. No more than he was interested in actually doing any of the work of any of his businesses. He sticks his name on it, makes some deals, then walks away leaving others to manage or mismanage.

Pence, on the other hand, seems deeply interested in the GOP platform. He also shows it’s serious shortcomes and pitfalls.

One in three Hoosiers families live at or below the poverty line.

Pence’s record investment in education was made by finally making a pre-k program for the state. Not one that serves all children, but some, at least. Pence turned down federal funding that would have served all of the children.

Indiana does not feel thankful in that lack of concern for their future citizens and workers. Indiana ranks 40th in adults getting an education beyond High School.

Indiana had a budget surplus. It created this surplus through a complete lack of investment in social services and infrastructure. Such a complete lack that when the infrastructure critically failed, the surplus had to be tapped so deeply to aright the crisis that Pence is now also claiming out of the other side of his mouth of a record investment in infrastructure.

That investment never would have reached the penny wise-pound foolish point if the Pence administration had been invested in infrastructure slowly and surely along the way. You can save a lot of money on your household budget by not getting maintenance or repair work done on your car, too.  Eventually that bill will come due, and it will be larger and more critical for the care you neglected along the way.

I see the echoes of Cheney, down the halls of history, in Pence. Pence will not focus on foreign policy, though. Pence wants to focus on domestic affairs. With his abysmal record in Indiana, that makes me worry greatly for the US. We are already in a critical state with infrastructure, and the US educational system is quickly falling behind in a global market that is expanding it’s reach. Innovation comes from education, and we are not educating.

The educational policies begun under President Obama have not been in place long enough to take root and produce new results. We must push forward now, and Pence is not looking forward. Trump surely isn’t either as he has said that the Department of Education can largely be eliminated.

Ask a hiring manager how they look at applications from people who have attended non Federally accredited schools. A system of regulating and ensuring that a standard benchmark is true of a graduate from any state of the Union is precisely why we have a Department of Education.

So I want to go back. I want to shake my 28 year old self. I want to tell her to look at the man behind the man who speaks so outrageously that he must be “shooting from the hip.”

I want to show her sights from her future and tell her what came of an administration with that fool as the figurehead. It’s not enough that she won’t repeat her mistake in four years. She needs to understand the deep shame she will feel that she ever made that mistake to begin with. That she will feel she has blood on her hands. That she will have blood on her hands.

I want to tell her that in just a few short months the worst foreign attack on US soil will happen and that buffoon was utterly bereft of the ability to soundly engage in the subtleties of foreign policy that would limit the loss that will reverberate for decades to come. That we are still suffering, 16 years later, from a man who didn’t understand the difference between fear of threat and reasoned threat.

I want to tell her so much.

I can’t. She’s gone.

Instead the wheel has come round and this time it has spiraled yet tighter. As it does. Trump is not just a fool. He’s a fool with a temper. Pence isn’t just an opportunistic warhawk. He’s a deeply flawed fanatic.

Clinton may represent business as usual to many, but to what is left of the 28 year old in me I can also see Hillary as the continuation of policies that were going right back then. Of policies that are going right now.

The deeply cynical hunger for upheaval that led me to longing for the outsider that W seemed to be led me to starvation.

It took me years to see the outcome of that bad decision. Please do not repeat my mistakes.

I’m here from the future and I have to tell you something. Look to the man behind the man.


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Compromise and Compassion

Never before have politics, both social and electoral, been as engaging, enraging, and divisive as they have been this year. Not in my lifetime.

It seems clear that social media and the easy click reading of the internet is to blame for it, too.

Parts of that are fantastic. Small grass movements can become massive and up-end the status quo in a way that is both terrifying and exhilarating. It’s truly engaging to know that little voices can potentially have as much impact as big voices.

It’s a tightrope walk, though. While there is much hopeful about knowing that you are not alone in feeling like the things that you particularly care about are particularly cared about by others, it is also isolating to know that those you care about have views that are harmful to you.

When people say “unfriend me if you think/will do xyz” it’s a stark contrast line in the sand of “support me and what I say that allows no compromises, compassion, or empathy.

Which is not to say that some views or actions are not so divisive themselves as to invite a lack of compromise.

I’m not going to repeat the many things that you shouldn’t compromise yourself on. All over social media and the internet those things can be found.

Much harder to find are calls to compromise, and intense compassion. A movement is not made by a line in the sand that divides sister from sister, brother from brother, child from parent, friend from friend. Those things are more likely to be in line with self-identity.

I won’t go into self-identity and the many strong things social media and the internet have done for that, either. You can find them. Everywhere.

What a movement is made up of are thoughtful and compassionate discussions. Find the common ground and work from there. If we are to bridge the gaps that are wedging between so many of us in our lives, these discussions must happen.

The divisive memes and rants are an easy device to turn to when someone uses one that is rejecting the things you hold true and dear. Snark is an easy answer when you feel pain or fear.

Dividing yourself when someone takes an action or stand that divides you from them is easy. Much harder is to hear their thoughts and ask them why. Show your pain. Attempt to understand why someone has a different point of view, and allow yourself to consider that their point of view has merit.

Don’t abandon principles, but respect people and their experiences even if they are completely foreign to you. You don’t have to agree with them, but you don’t have to reject them, and the slow growth of healthy compromise can arise from nothing else.

Compromise is our bridge forward, and we must find it. We must make bridges between us all or the gaps will engulf us all instead.