Twisting Political Beliefs Into Rage & Intolerance


screen-shot-2016-09-22-at-11-37-39-am

I recently had to unfriend someone on Facebook. Someone I’ve been close to for over 20 years. Someone I know to be a terrific, smart, creative, generous and kind person. But since the election started, she has moved to a place that can only be described as outwardly and openly hateful toward anyone who does not agree with her politically. It’s one thing to be critical, to disagree, to be passionate about one’s beliefs. Lord knows I am. Daily. It’s a very different thing to display hatred and intolerance and to create the “other.” Unfortunately, this is also a political strategy used by candidates to “rally support” against a “common enemy.” We certainly see Trump using it every day.

Unfortunately, in my opinion, it’s also a tactic Hillary Clinton has given into on more than one occasion. Whether it’s old comments like “Super-predators” or more recently “Deplorables,” or the flames she stoked (if not outright helped create) of the “Bernie Bros” narrative of violent, misogynistic men. And yes, my friend is someone who latched onto that particular narrative and is still running with it with a violent insistence that those who don’t see Hillary as “progressive” or consider her “hawkish” on foreign policy, are vile, moronic, and deluded, if not outright woman-haters. It’s not fun to be on the receiving end of that level of intolerance and unbridled hostility. I’m all for heated political arguments, discussions, disagreements and opinions, but this is something that overflows into another area altogether. It feels, to me, far too close to the kind of bigoted hate and intolerance displayed by many Trump supporters. It’s not rational, it’s not logical, it is deeply emotional. And incredibly damaging to other human beings in myriad ways. But it also does not define all they are.

This person, I am certain, still also holds all those qualities that I loved about her and kept us friends for so many years. Anyone who reads my posts knows that I am very vocal and passionate about my political views. And I have had many discussions on Facebook and elsewhere with like-minded individuals, fellow liberal friends with whom I have disagreements, and even Republican and Conservative friends who see things very, very differently from myself. But the conversations I’ve had with them, even at their most heated, were civil and respectful.  Continue reading “Twisting Political Beliefs Into Rage & Intolerance”

Twisting Political Beliefs Into Rage & Intolerance

Facebook Impressions: An Open Letter To My Friends & Loved Ones Struggling This Election Cycle


Dear friends,

I’m not trying to paint a picture of Kaine or Clinton as monsters. They are not. Nor are they Trump. Not even close. But they also do not represent the values of the Democratic base, which feels continuously irrelevant and disregarded and I think there’s a real danger in that. More immediately to the outcome of the election come November, but even more globally and long-term in what the Democratic Party stands for and how it can and desperately needs to affect positive change. I want the Democratic Party I believed in back. It is not that anymore. And I obviously do not stand alone in that deep desire and commitment. And there is no easy or faultless path.

I do not believe being silent now and waiting till after the election will change things, In fact, from where I stand, we may lose this election if we cannot get Hillary Clinton to up her approval rating by directly embracing her base. The center/right, the moderates, are not the Democratic base. And right now the base is being made to feel like they are more of an annoyance than anything else. Even though they are fighting so hard and in the face of so much criticism from many of their friends and neighbors and a near-complete disregard from their own Party’s establishment. This is not a fun road, nor is it a straightforward one. There are many unknowns in every direction.

Continue reading “Facebook Impressions: An Open Letter To My Friends & Loved Ones Struggling This Election Cycle”

Facebook Impressions: An Open Letter To My Friends & Loved Ones Struggling This Election Cycle

Facebook Impressions: Our Current Political Landscape, July 6-24, 2016


102165565-facebook.530x298

Just after I decided to start posting some of my Facebook commentaries here, Tim Kaine was picked by Hillary Clinton as her choice for VP. Much of what I’ve been posting lately addresses both that possibility and reality. I’m gonna lay out some of my thoughts below as originally written for Facebook posts and commentaries. There’s definitely some overlap of ideas, here, but I wanted to share them nonetheless. There are some insightful articles attached to the comments below which I think make for some thought-provoking and informative reading:

July 6, 2016: Despite the title of this article and many others like it (“Bernie Sanders Booed By House Democrats For Refusal To Endorse Hillary Clinton” by Sam Stein), there were FAR more Democrats, apparently, who did NOT boo Sanders and were respectful.

But those who DID boo… Those are the very ones that make this journey all the more important, all the more crucial. I understand that what Sanders is doing is out of the ordinary step-aside deal-making that happens at this junction in an election cycle, but if Bernie were to abandon his ideals and whatever leverage he has now to simply fall in line, then he would be no better than most of the intimidated, for-sale politicians he has been criticizing, who are now, of course, trying to intimidate him and his supporters to be more like them. 

This is why Bernie Sanders represents the conviction, the integrity, and the alternative of genuine ideals that speaks SO loudly to SO many of us and that goes so far beyond the outcome of a presidential race. And this is why his supporters remain so committed and see him as walking the walk. Unlike those we know who just talk the talk.

I’ve never seen Hillary Clinton display the courage of her convictions. So I get that when her direct challenger does, it makes her look bad. As it should.

Continue reading “Facebook Impressions: Our Current Political Landscape, July 6-24, 2016”

Facebook Impressions: Our Current Political Landscape, July 6-24, 2016

Facebook Impressions: July 19, 2016


Clinton, Trump pick up big wins

Like many people, Facebook has pulled me away from my daily blog as a source of expression. I still post here, but so much of what I think and feel about what is happening in the world gets lost in the fleeting panorama that is Facebook.

So I thought I would start posting some of my shorter thoughts and essays, as well as my responses to particular articles or others’ comments and commentaries. When separate thoughts are contained in one space, they often reveal a much larger, deeper narrative. If nothing else, they tell a story. So long as my own story continues to unfold, I’d like to share more of it here.

From July 19, 2016:

Continue reading “Facebook Impressions: July 19, 2016”

Facebook Impressions: July 19, 2016

Gender-Shaming & Scapegoating: It’s Not Just For Republicans Anymore


6a0148c7b55aa3970c019b028bfea0970dThe presidential “race” in America has turned into something that has been brewing for decades and is finally coming to a head. But it’s not just the Republican Party that is crumbling under the weight of its own shifts to the right and its years-long stoking the flames of discontent and anger.

The Democratic Party has also been wildly divided this election cycle and age-old resentments and indignations are surfacing and the vitriol surrounding it is immense. Which isn’t to say that the anger isn’t justified. It is. On all sides, if you ask me. It’s what we do with that anger, that outrage, that will define our future.

We’ve seen the anger and discontent on the Republican side play out in the form of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, fascism/intolerance, and misogyny. This is, in my opinion, a wildly misdirected and highly manipulated response. But the emotions that lie at the base of it – the social, cultural, and political disaffection – isn’t imaginary. But where the powers-that-be point their fingers and exclaim “It’s their fault!” is. That kind of manipulation has been with us since the dawn of recorded history. From Aaron using fear and distrust to convince the Israelites to embrace false idols and reject Moses at the base of Mt. Sinai, to the Salem Witch Hunts to Adolph Hitler to Joe McCarthy to the age-old gross manipulation by entire governments and political and religious parties across the globe that so effectively and efficiently turn neighbor against neighbor.

Continue reading “Gender-Shaming & Scapegoating: It’s Not Just For Republicans Anymore”

Gender-Shaming & Scapegoating: It’s Not Just For Republicans Anymore

Authentic Experiences: Embracing or Rejecting the Grateful Dead


grateful-dead-532017267eb36

I recently posted a comment (shown below) on a friend’s Facebook wall in response to a conversation happening there addressing the “validity” of the Grateful Dead as musicians and their music. It’s not a new topic for me, I’m afraid. This time, the conversation began in response to a particularly small-minded and troll-like article by Joe Queenan in The Wall Street Journal titled, “Please, Grateful Dead, Don’t Keep Truckin’ On.” It’s a pretty nasty and inflammatory piece that does its part to transplant journalism to the latrine. Queenan’s desire to invalidate and devalue the Grateful Dead, their music AND their fans simply because he doesn’t personally understand it is, in my opinion, grossly irresponsible and, I would have thought, far beneath The Wall Street Journal’s integrity requirements. Clearly I was mistaken.

Continue reading “Authentic Experiences: Embracing or Rejecting the Grateful Dead”

Authentic Experiences: Embracing or Rejecting the Grateful Dead

Jesus Was Not A Jew! Good Ol’ Fashioned American Common Sense


JesusUSAI can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to argue with acquaintances to convince them that Jesus was a Jew. “Jesus was not a Jew! He was a Christian!” is the answer I most often get. It takes me a full 3 to 4 seconds before I recompose myself, lift my jaw back into a closed-mouth position, and explain how all this actually works.

But no matter how often I find myself in this strange predicament, I’m always just as horrified and saddened by the lack of education and basic intelligence so often flaunted by some of my fellow Americans. And I’m no genius, mind you! Just some dude with a basic education who’s trying to keep up and always feeling one step behind. Sometimes two! But, man-o-man, the ignorance I’ve bumped up against on my own little journeys.

I remember taking a poll once on how many people believed in god and, if they did, what their personal definition of god was. I remember there was a significant number of responders who, when asked if they believed, answered unequivocally “Yes!”. When asked as to their definition, I was often repelled with the angry response, “I don’t know! Who the hell thinks about that kind of stuff?!”

So maybe it’s not stupidity, but a lack of thinking that so many suffer from. Maybe it’s just laziness. I don’t know. But whatever the cause, the symptoms terrify me. Especially when faced with life or death decisions like war and health care.

So when I question the intelligence of some Americans and get the occasional angry response, I simply have to shrug. If you want me to think more Americans are smart, stop acting so stupid. When people I know vote for McCain because they believe Obama’s gonna take away their guns even though they don’t have the proper medical coverage, barely earn enough to buy the food they need, own a home that is in a mortgage crisis, complain about their kids’ education, can’t afford private school, have two family members with disabilities, live just above the poverty level, and want the right to have an abortion if need be, I have to wonder if they have a clue what they’re actually voting for.

Then add the fact that Obama’s a Muslim, was born in Kenya, hates whites, is a Nazi, and eats babies for breakfast… I start praying (and I’m technically an atheist) that some of the smarter individuals I know start spreading some facts around. I’m not saying you have to believe what I believe, but at least understand what YOU claim to believe!

Perhaps this is why I enjoyed Bill Maher’s rant SMART PRESIDENT ≠ SMART COUNTRY in The Huffington Post today. Here’s an excerpt:

headshot…On the eve of the Iraq War, 69% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Four years later, 34% still did. Or take the health care debate we’re presently having: members of Congress have recessed now so they can go home and “listen to their constituents.” An urge they should resist because their constituents don’t know anything. At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to “keep your government hands off my Medicare,” which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways.

I’m the bad guy for saying it’s a stupid country, yet polls show that a majority of Americans cannot name a single branch of government, or explain what the Bill of Rights is. 24% could not name the country America fought in the Revolutionary War. More than two-thirds of Americans don’t know what’s in Roe v. Wade. Two-thirds don’t know what the Food and Drug Administration does. Some of this stuff you should be able to pick up simply by being alive. You know, like the way the Slumdog kid knew about cricket.

Not here. Nearly half of Americans don’t know that states have two senators and more than half can’t name their congressman. And among Republican governors, only 30% got their wife’s name right on the first try.

Sarah Palin says she would never apologize for America. Even though a Gallup poll says 18% of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth. No, they’re not stupid. They’re interplanetary mavericks. A third of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen, and a third of Democrats believe that George Bush had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, which is an absurd sentence because it contains the words “Bush” and “knowledge.”

People bitch and moan about taxes and spending, but they have no idea what their government spends money on. The average voter thinks foreign aid consumes 24% of our federal budget. It’s actually less than 1%. And don’t even ask about cabinet members: seven in ten think Napolitano is a kind of three-flavored ice cream. And last election, a full one-third of voters forgot why they were in the booth, handed out their pants, and asked, “Do you have these in a relaxed-fit?”

And I haven’t even brought up America’s religious beliefs. But here’s one fun fact you can take away: did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That’s right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which one came first.

And these are the idiots we want to weigh in on the minutia of health care policy? Please, this country is like a college chick after two Long Island Iced Teas: we can be talked into anything, like wars, and we can be talked out of anything, like health care. We should forget town halls, and replace them with study halls. There’s a lot of populist anger directed towards Washington, but you know who concerned citizens should be most angry at? Their fellow citizens. “Inside the beltway” thinking may be wrong, but at least it’s thinking, which is more than you can say for what’s going on outside the beltway.

And if you want to call me an elitist for this, I say thank you. Yes, I want decisions made by an elite group of people who know what they’re talking about. That means Obama budget director Peter Orszag, not Sarah Palin.

And just to put the proper tag on all of this, Sarah Palin brought my point (and Mr. Maher’s) home beautifully today on her Facebook account by writing:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Yes, Sarah, not only is the moon made of cheese, but so is the space between your ears. I’m not sure which is more terrifying, the notion that Sarah Palin, like her protege Joe The Plumber, really has no clue what she is talking about, or that she knows very well what she is talking about and is purposefully misleading her brand of “followers” and other Americans for reasons other than their own best interests.

Ignorance or greed? Both are extremely dangerous and can lead to the same destructive end. And when lives are lost, they are not brought back. Not even by Jesus.

Jesus Was Not A Jew! Good Ol’ Fashioned American Common Sense