Everybody sing along to the Troompa Loompa song . . .

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Troompa Loompa dipitty-dee

We’ve got an orange presidency

Troompa Loompa

Liar in Chief, a two-bit gangster

A thug and a thief

What do you get when you vote for a schmuck?

A science-denying know-nothing fuck

When the guy at the top

Doesn’t know how to think

The world will always be on the brink

 

Troompa Loompa dipitty-dense

The orange-faced-moron

never makes sense

Troompa Loompa dippy-dang

Be better off with a President Yang

What do you get when you vote for fool?

A monosyllabic orange-faced tool

When the guy at the top

is a know-nothing hack

We never move forward

We always move back

Troompa Loompa dipitty-dump

We’ve got a guy who likes to flag hump

Troompa Loompa dipitty-shit

Aren’t Troompa Loompas tired of it?

What do you get when you vote for a dick?

An immoral moron who makes you feel sick

When anger and fear get spun into hate

We’ll never ever

Make America Great

 

Troompa Loompa dipitty-doo

To get rid of orange, you gotta vote blue

Troompa Loompa dipitty-dye

Trump is worse than a stick in the eye

What do you get when you fall for the ruse?

A burnt-orange menace who parrots Fox news

We’re deep in the weeds

Stuck in the morass

Still republican’s kiss that sorry fat ass.

Troompa Loompa dipitty-dee

We’ve got an orange presidency

Troompa Loompa dipitty day

Can’t wait for November to vote him away

The Threat

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The threat is existential

the rhetoric is real

hate can hinder progress

when a liar lies with zeal

Democracy’s a drunk

she teeters on the curb

and every day’s a day

we have to reckon the absurd

America’s in chaos

she’s lost in discontent

fertile ground for revolution

discord and dissent

Ask who stands to gain

when the country’s split in two

the ones who gain the most

are never me and you

Time to take her back

put her proudly on that hill

let her shine

 the way she used to

before the Russians

found their shill

You, me, Facebook and our dickhead President

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Facebook friendships are tenuous things. Examine them closely, and you’re bound to notice some cracks in the foundation.

How many times over the past 3 years have you been stunned at posts from Facebook friends, wondering to yourself why the hell are we friends?
If you use Facebook regularly, you’re forced to reconcile the word “friend” with a fuck-load of posts that are diametrically opposed to the values you hold. Still, we hold on to our Facebook “friendships” – why is that? I suspect it has something to do with our relationship to the word “friend” itself and the social context it holds (outside the realm of Facebook).

In life, we’re taught that friends stick together through thick and thin. Being friends means accepting each other’s differences. We’re taught that friendships are a thing to value and that we shouldn’t dismiss them capriciously.

We’re hemmed in by the meaning of the word “friend.” We feel the weightiness of its definition and the social-contractual obligation that comes with being a friend.

So, we stick.

For a lot of us, our Facebook friendships are based on a shared high school experience. We became “friends” on social media because we shared the same teachers, coaches, classes, dances, parties, proms for four years. We suffered together, and we exalted together. So when Facebook came along, I guess we thought that sharing 3rd period Spanish some 30 years ago was a good enough glue and something we could build on.

Then, along comes Donald Trump, and with him, a strong need to express ourselves (both for and against). And now, when we read each other’s posts, we realize that 3rd period Spanish some thirty years ago is the only thing we have in common.

Nostalgia is pleasant, but it can’t bridge the gap between bigotry and tolerance, so let’s stop thinking it can.

I want to live in a country that welcomes the stranger and demands equality under the law, has a healthy respect for dissent, and always strives for truth. As a child, these values were instilled in me as “American values” and serve as the pillars of democracy. And because of that, these values became part of my “American identity.” Thus, these values are at the heart of who I am as an American.

When I see “friends” treat these values fluidly or as something to skirt around when they come in conflict with one’s politics or religion, it pisses me off. When President Trump employs fear and lies to chip away at these values to shake our citizenry’s confidence and divide us, it pisses me off even more.

The continued support of this President puts my “friends” in an ugly light. If I were to meet you for the first time today (as opposed to 30 years ago in 3rd-period Spanish), I would choose not to associate with you, and I certainly wouldn’t consider you a friend.

Americans who were paying attention in 2016 knew that Donald Trump was dishonest, morally deprived, and vacuous. That’s why most of us didn’t vote for him. But because of the electoral college and the help of a hostile foreign nation, we have a national security threat sitting in the oval office.

After nearly 4 years of this egotistical ass-hat, still no replacement for Obama Care, no progress on fixing our infrastructure, no bold initiative to combat climate change, and no relief or reform on the high cost of college education and student loan debt.

What we do have is 34 indictments related to Russian Interference in the 2016 election, overwhelming evidence of obstruction of justice, a tax cut for the wealthy that failed to trickle down to the middle class, a lot of cozying-up to dictators, thugs, and autocrats, an increase in hate crimes and white nationalism, a cabinet built on nepotism rather than competence, a divided nation, a dismembered Washington Post journalist, and a lot of brown children in cages.

What happened to us? Under this President, America has been transformed from that shining city on the hill to an unstable tenement house, its occupants at each other’s throats, all to the glee of a narcissistic, petulant man-child rapist.

The President is petty, dishonest, vindictive, unethical, and shallow. For the last 3 years, these traits have been on display for everyone to see. In addition, there is video, audio, and text evidence that the President is demonstrably uninformed and a shitty human being.

And yet, so many “friends” turn a blind eye to it all. As long as abortion rights are being restricted, immigrants are being punished, unemployment is low, who cares about character, truth, honesty, and integrity.

If you decide to vote for this President in 2020 because the economy is doing well, unemployment is low, and “USA, USA, USA!”, then you are no friend of mine.

I’ve never ended a friendship over politics – but let’s stop pretending this is about politics. It’s about values – decency, competency, and respect for truth, honesty, and integrity.

I won’t put friendship above these things.

That’s not compromising; that’s compromising my values.

The Malleable Beliefs of Evangelicals

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What happens when your political idol’s actions and words diametrically oppose what your religion promotes?

Do you stand firm by your faith, or do you bend to political idolatry?

Is it worse to be ostracized by your church or shunned by your political, social group?

Oh, the pain and discomfort of internal conflict!

But wait, there’s another way!

With the advent of Republican Jesus, you can stand by your religion AND swear allegiance to a demagogue who espouses the opposite views of your lord and savior!

Isn’t America Great?

Republican Jesus is no less wonderous than the birth of Original Jesus (or Extra Crispy Jesus, for that matter).

People have been bending religion to fit their world and political view since the beginning of time. All gods are man-made. When you start with that fact, everything you see in today’s Evangelical community regarding politics makes perfect sense. And let’s face it, it becomes easier to bend and contort one’s religious views in a world where god is less visible than ever before.

Fuck being uncomfortable with contradiction; let’s be Christ-like and Un-Christ-like in the same breath! Once you start, it’s easy! After that, it’s a brand-new, all-encompassing, carpet-bomb-the-caravan-and-fuck-the-disenfranchised religious freedom!

Step 1. Cherry-pick your favorite bits and pieces from that book written in iron-age ignorance.

Step 2. Infuse it with a political ideology that suits your worldview.

Step 3. Well, you get the gist.

Before the first charlatan saw religion as a money maker and a kingmaker, religion’s primary purpose was personal and somewhat benign (at least initially). 

Religion eased our fear of death and explained the unexplainable. In the hardware store of life, you could find religion in the aisle for caulking and other “gap fillers.”

Now that politicians know just how fluid the beliefs of Evangelicals are, they are taking full advantage. And the President is leading the way.

To politicians, malleable faith has become the low-hanging fruit of our electorate. Evangelicals’ susceptibility to authoritarianism and an innate fear of different people represents political opportunity, money, and votes at the ballot box.

Today’s Evangelicals are evolving (how ironic!) before our very eyes. In a swirling tsunami of hypocrisy and verbal gymnastics, Evangelical leaders dismiss adultery, kidnapping, and murder, so long as political bed-mates deliver favors unto them or to their America. And the Evangelical flock follows blindly. Their relationship with the President is like a loveless marriage – purely transactional in nature. 

They give him support; he packs the court. 

All the contradictions of the President’s behavior to their faith get dismissed or obfuscated.

I suspect, like the rest of us, Evangelicals understand if Donald Trump (or either of his sons) knocked up the help, there’d be an abortion doctor on the doorstep faster than you can say “fetus.” 

But Evangelicals have struck a Faustian bargain with the Orange Devil, simultaneously turning their heads and supporting his un-christlike policies.

Anyone with an ounce of intellect (and intellectual honesty) knows Trump is less Christian than a salamander or a turd. Instead, Trump uses his relationship with Evangelicals in a quest for power and money.

To the skeptic and realist, all of this is as clear as day.

Our best hope for turning this shit show around are young people, who are generally less religious than their parents, and who see the marriage of politics and religion for what it really is, a marriage of convenience that benefits the few and endangers the rest.

Let’s hope they get out and vote because the longer this goes on, the harder it is to stop.

Resist

The orange one

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With sheer vanity he glows

like a bulb on a tree

It’s always “I, I, I”

or “Me, ME, ME”!

He’s a whiny wall-building

science denier

A thin-skinned, fear-mongering

Orange faced liar

He’s the tear in the fabric

that holds us together

He’s the bend in the hose,

and the blood on the feather

He’s an embarrassing blowhard

shallow and loud

A stain on the world stage

all cocky and proud

He’s the America we hoped

no longer existed,

Bigoted, intolerant, fearful, and twisted

With a stroke of the pen,

He poisons the water,

He willfully separates

Mother from daughter

He belittles anyone

who dares to oppose him

He stomps up and down

and screams America chose him!

With no sense of history

spewing nothing but junk

He’s an arrogant gasbag

a scoundrel, a skunk.

Now it’s up us

to form the resistance

To push back on the orange

with steadfast persistence

Engage in the process

hold his feet to the fire

Because facts are the enemy

of the orange faced liar

American Sniper and Michael Moore

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I like Michael Moore. I like his movies. I share many of his views. Though I don’t know him personally, from what I have seen of him on television, he likes to argue – – he is a bit of a provocateur and I think he enjoys being the stick in the eye of conservatives. A few weeks ago, he riled-up a lot of those conservatives with some comments about snipers being cowards.

Michael is not dumb. I’m sure he is aware of the tactical value of snipers. In addition to being highly skilled marksman (as highlighted in the movie American Sniper) snipers use their abilities to sneak behind enemy lines to provide command with information about the enemy’s size, strength, and location. The information they provide and the actions they perform can save lives. If you’re a soldier heading into a hot zone, you want good snipers on your side — And by most accounts, Chris Kyle was one of the very best.

Michael Moore relies more on the definition of “snipe” than the tactical role of a sniper to try and strengthen his argument that snipers are cowards.

Here is the definition of the word snipe:

a shot, usually from a hidden position.

to shoot at individuals as opportunity offers from a concealed or distant position.

to attack a person or a person’s work with petulant or snide criticism, especially anonymously or from a safe distance.

And here are Michael Moore’s comments about snipers:

‘I think most Americans don’t think snipers are heroes’

“My uncle was killed by sniper in WW2. We were taught snipers were cowards. Will shoot u in the back. Snipers aren’t heroes. And invaders are worse.”

That last sentence – – – “And invaders are worse” – is most telling.

I suppose if you look at the definition of snipe, then sniping can be seen as a cowardly act. The sniper is almost always protected (by distance) from retaliation. His enemy is almost always unaware of his presence, there is rarely any direct confrontation with the enemy – there is no dodging machine gun fire to rescue a fallen comrade – no being overwhelmingly outnumbered while holding off an advancing enemy — and no ultimate sacrifice by jumping on the proverbial grenade to save your buddies – – all of which we (in the traditional sense) consider “heroic”.

Clearly Michael Moore’s remarks about snipers and the movie American Sniper are by proxy a commentary on the Iraq war itself – I think he felt compelled to speak out because of all the fanfare that the movie is receiving – he is likely appalled and disgusted at the possibility that people who see this movie will forget that the invasion of Iraq was, at best, a horrible mistake, and at worse a criminal act (. . .And invaders are worse.”).

As expected, his remarks set off a predictable response on social media – those on the right lambasting him as a Hollywood-elitist-scumbag (while canonizing Chris Kyle as the ultimate Patriot) and those on the left criticizing the movie as propaganda and some even attacking Chris Kyle’s character.

There is a scene in American Sniper where an adult woman hands a grenade to a child so that it can be used against an advancing American Convoy – – In Chris Kyle’s book, there was no child –  the film makes this Iraqi woman more evil and inhumane by having her send a child to his death. Simplistic caricatures that dehumanize Iraqis as savages in the movie probably rubbed Mr. Moore the wrong way – not because he loves Iraqis, but because he feels such portrayals obfuscate the bigger picture of the Iraq conflict – of which he has very strong views.

In my eyes, all the hubbub from Michael Moore’s comments highlights the differences between liberals and conservatives when it comes to how they view the Iraq war.

Many on the right can overlook the complexities and ambiguities of everything that led up to the Iraq war. To many of them, Chris Kyle is a hero simply because he is an American Soldier at war – end of story.

Those on the left tend take a more nuanced comprehensive view of the war – – and therefore have trouble disentangling Chris Kyle the soldier, from the misguided decisions that put him in Iraq. Those on the left get angry when they see a movie like American Sniper that disregards the bigger and the messier questions about how we ended up in Iraq in the first place.

To me, anyone who volunteers to serve deserves our gratitude and respect. I can understand how Michael Moore’s comments might be interpreted as disrespectful to American servicemen. And although I agree with his views on the war – criticizing snipers as a way of reminding us that invading Iraq was a huge mistake feels a bit strained – even to a lefty like me.

The boulevard of the unsuspecting

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A mentally disturbed and delusional kid – spurned by others – sitting behind the wheel of a BMW – firing a legally purchased 9 mm semi-automatic pistol into a crowded café and deli – killing and maiming – just as he promised.

On any given day in America, any one of us can get cast for the role of the unintended victim in the twisted wreckage of someone else’s tragic life– like we are all just a trigger finger away from a becoming a profile on CNN’s website.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun – is a good guy with a gun, except that almost never ever happens – even though Americans are armed to the teeth – we still wake up (on average) to a mass murder every two weeks – and in most of these cases, the only thing that stops the bad guy with a gun, is that very same bad guy, when after killing a slew of people, he decides to eat a bullet.

Unfortunately, many American’s are as delusional as some of these shooters – as they continue to tell themselves that more guns make for a safer society, when the data tells us the exact opposite is true.

We are immersed a culture that glorifies violence, where too many believe that violence and aggression are the solution to problems – we have inadequate and often ineffective mental healthcare and way too many people who should not have access to guns – –  have access to guns.

I am sick and fucking tired of the NRA denying the role guns play in mass murder – there is clearly a gun component to this problem – but any time anyone even mentions, considers, whispers that maybe we should look at gun regulation along with other components of the problem, the NRA ratchets up a campaign of lies and fear.

We need to wake up.

Dear Mr. President

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Dear President Obama:

Over the last several weeks I’ve tried to remain above the political fray with regard to the crisis in Syria.

I could care less about the back-and-forth commentary from pundits regarding the red line comment, or whether or not the decision to go to congress was a good move or a bad move politically.

I am writing as a father of two boys ages 15 and 17, as a proud citizen of the United States, and a staunch supporter of you and your administration.

Why your supporters are hesitant to agree with you that America must act

Let’s face it, after the debacle of the Iraq war, Americans are skeptics when it comes to intelligence reports as evidence for why America must act. The terribly misguided decision to go into Iraq, the fact that the citizens of this country were persuaded with bogus and fabricated evidence to invade that country, and to see that country today – still being torn apart by sectarian violence – created a huge trust deficit and a feeling that regardless of our intentions in Syria, the outcome will not be in our best interest.

When even the most visceral of evidence fails to sway opinion, there is an underlying problem

Yesterday CNN posted horrific video accounts of the chemical attack on Syrian citizens. As I watched people (many of them children) writhing, twitching, frothing from the mouth, the CNN commentator said over and over again that although experts have said the video clearly shows a chemical attack occurred, there is nothing in the video itself that indicates the Assad regime perpetrated the attack. 

Before supporting US intervention in a Syrian Civil war, most Americans would need incontrovertible evidence as to which side launched the chemical attack. According to news reports, such evidence is being presented behind closed doors to members of Congress – but the case against the regime (with regard to the chemical attack) has not been made to the citizens of this country. Perhaps you Mr. President will make the case when you address the country on Tuesday night.

Another issue that makes even your most ardent supporters hesitate to back a strike against Syria is the nature of the players involved in this conflict. Ideally such distinctions should not matter when children are being gassed in their sleep – but when we also see numerous video accounts of rebel forces brutally executing regime supporters and soldiers, we cannot help but question the humanity (or rather the lack of it) on both sides of this fight.  I understand that America wants to protect the innocent and most vulnerable, but can we do so while not at the same time helping the more extremist elements of the rebel forces?

Regardless of how much the regime and rebel forces hate one another – I cannot help but think they both hate America more. And I have to think that when Assad falls (as all despots do) the forces that rise up in his place will not be friends or allies of this country (regardless of what we decide to do in response to the chemical attacks).

It’s not only about the purpose as you state it, but also how others will interpret our actions

You and Secretary Kerry have been vocal that a strike against the regime is not about taking sides in the ongoing conflict – That any action we take is for the express purpose of punishing the regime and degrading their capability to launch another chemical attack.

You stress that American soldier’s will not set foot on Syrian soil. The argument – that this strike does not constitute a war in the traditional sense – may work on some Americans, but I doubt this distinction makes a difference to Syria and their allies.  I suspect that when missiles are raining down on Syria, they will clearly see this as an act of war and I assume they will act accordingly. Are we prepared to deal with this? Are we prepared to show restraint when Syria, or Iran launch counterattacks? Can you promise that America will not get drawn into a deeper conflict when these counterattacks occur?  How can anyone make such a promise when we do not know what Syria’s reaction will be?

Right now I would not support a strike against Syria. And although initially I thought the resolution would be passed by congress, I no longer think this is the case. If the resolution does not pass, I hope you do not take it upon yourself to launch these attacks.

Also, I am not convinced that having all of this play out through congressional hearings and debates is a sign of weakness – quite the opposite; I think it shows the strength of our democratic system of government.

If we have incontrovertible evidence that Assad was responsible for the attack, let’s build the case against him, present the evidence to the world court and charge him with war crimes. I think this approach, though restrained in comparison to a cruise missile attack, demonstrates a different kind of strength that would garner international support.

We are a war-weary nation, and let’s face it, the nations of the world are weary of us. I truly believe our standing in the world would rise if we hold off on attacking Syria while perusing aggressively the legal case against Assad.

While pursuing the legal case against Assad, the eyes of the world would be on this despot – and if he dares to use chemical weapons during this time, I believe the international community would not be so hesitant to punish him.

Truth, Human Nature and the Internet

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Everyone wants to be right.

We humans yearn for validation. Bestowed our moral compass by our parents, teachers, religion, origin of birth, and ultimately our experiences, we move through life; sewing affiliations with those that share our viewpoint, accept our opinions, and smile back at us assuredly.

We live comfortably unchallenged and quite purposefully so. We get our news from either Fox or MSNBC and we surf internet sites that mirror our viewpoints. We drink from a river of information filtered specifically to our tastes and preferences. We rarely stray from our comfort zone.

Sure, liberals and conservatives cross enemy lines occasionally. Every-now-and-then we liberals turn to Fox news or listen to Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck – but let’s be honest, we do so mainly to validate what we already believe, that Rush is an asshole and that Beck is a deranged mental case. I suspect that conservatives engage in similar excursions, switching from Fox News to give a listen to comrade Chris Mathews, while muttering under their breath what a Communist-Marxist-Pinko-Douche bag he is.

I used to think that free-flowing access to information would somehow lead to less polarization in society; that availability and factualness were cousins in a sense (pretty naive I know). In reality, unrestricted access to information has made us more polarized, more firmly ensconced in ideology, and (it seems to me) less willing to investigate even the possibility that we might be wrong – about anything.

It seems to me that people are more interested in having their feelings validated than searching for substantive truths that might lead them onto unfamiliar shores. And make no mistake, those who create and deliver the content take full advantage of this. Today when faced with information that is contrary to what we hold true, we have a penchant to disregard it, seeking shelter in pools of information that allow us to continue to believe what we believe, and deflect that uncomfortable feeling of cognitive dissonance.

In a way, truth has become a cottage industry –  and we are all the worse for it.

DOMA, Dogma minus the G

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As the date for opening arguments on the constitutionality of the defense of marriage act (DOMA) approaches, we are seeing a flurry of newspaper articles and talk show discussions related to the case.

The defense of marriage act (DOMA) defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman for federal and inter-state recognition purposes in the United States.

Predictably, those affiliated with the Catholic church and religious-right believe DOMA is constitutional, but argue their case mainly on the basis of morality.

On the state level, RI lawmakers have introduced bills to legalize Gay marriage. This week Bishop Tobin, called on Rhode Island’s General Assembly to reject same-sex marriage in the state, stating that same-sex marriage is “immoral and unnecessary” .

Now, in my opinion, the catholic church preaching about morality is akin to the Chinese government espousing the virtues of freedom and democracy – that boat don’t float.

Many hundreds of years ago, the religious powers-that-be saw homosexual behavior as out of the norm and, without the benefit of science or understanding, labeled it as sinful, immoral, and abhorrent.

Now, fast forward to today, where, with the benefit of science (and a slightly more tolerant society) we know and understand that sexual orientation is an innate trait. Homosexuality is not a disease to be cured any more than eye color or hair color is. But still the Catholic church and religious-right refuse to acknowledge science, reason, and basic fairness and instead remain blindfully obedient to dogma.

If we woke up in “bizarro world” tomorrow, where heterosexuals were the minority, would we not fight for our right in the same manner that gays and lesbians are fighting today? I believe we would. Would we naturally continue to prefer the opposite sex? Yes, we would. Would we just accept being labeled as perverted, sinful, and immoral? God, I hope not.

I’ll end with a message and some advice to the catholic church:

You are on the wrong side of this argument. More and more people, especially young people (you know, the ones you should be trying to bring into the church!) understand that homosexuality is not a learned behavior or character flaw. They see hardworking, caring, and intelligent people who “happen to be gay”. Be open to the idea that many hundreds of years ago, when mankind did not have the benefit of science, the church mistakenly characterized homosexuality as a sin. Don’t continue to mischaracterize it, instead, embrace the science, reverse your position (no pun intended) and stick to what you’re good at, providing spiritual guidance and helping the needy and the poor.