Monday, November 14, 2016

You may not want to hear this, but it's your fault

This weekend was not a happy weekend for the Zymog. Two of my close friends, and a friend of a third close friend, suffered what can only be called racial harassment. The nature of the harassment, and the things that were said to them, make it clear that this only happened because of Donald Trump being elected.

I got a lot of my friends mad at me when I reposted on Facebook a blog article that says, more or less, "if you voted for Donald Trump, then it's partly your fault, and you need to fix it."

A lot of people don't want to hear that. Bear with me here, okay? Don't close your mind and get all upset yet.

Let's start with a scene from Disney's Aladdin

Jafar used his third wish from the lamp: "I wish to be an ALL-POWERFUL GENIE!"

So the genie said, "Way to go, Al" and granted Jafar's wish. Jafar became this huge, red genie. 

"Yessss. YESSSSSSS! The power! THE ABSOLUTE POWER! The universe is mine, to command, to control!" 

He was reveling in his power, when suddenly Aladdin said, "Not so fast, Jafar! You wanted to be a genie? Well, you got it. AND EVERYTHING THAT GOES WITH IT. Phenomenal cosmic power —"

Suddenly two two bracelets of slavery were clamped onto his wrists, and against his cries of "No! NOOOOOO!" he got sucked into his own tiny lamp.

"— itty bitty living space!"

Hang onto that story. It will become immediately relevant. (You gotta admit, I did a pretty good job reciting the scene from memory, didn't I? I'm sure that my grandchildren can do better than I did.)

Now, follow this logic:

Many voters in this country fell for the Supreme Court scam: they voted for Trump or for Clinton because they wanted to preserve the conservative or liberal majority, respectively, on the Supreme Court. I have heard from a lot of people who voted for both candidates, who told me that that was the only reason they voted for them. Well, that and all the other stuff they didn't like about the other candidate. They were both awful.

But, the Trump supporters told me, they didn't like Donald Trump because of his racist, misogynist, reactionary, petulant, et cetera, ways. They ignored, or pretended that they didn't see, all of the radical right-wingers who were chanting at Trump's rallies and posting hateful garbage on the Internet. Or they hoped it would all go away after he got elected.

(If, at this time, you want to tell me "Yeah, but Clinton supporters were the ones who actually committed violent acts at the rallies," I'm going to ask you to stay with me here. Don't distract yourself. I'm not talking about Clinton.)

Way back in June 2016, Mitt Romney warned that Donald Trump's hateful rhetoric, if he were to win the election, would change the face of America. He warned that the extreme racists would consider themselves legitimized by Trump's victory, and somehow authorized to practice their nasty racism. "Emboldened" is the current term for it. (See this CNN article, entitled "Mitt Romney says Trump will change America with 'trickle-down racism'."

So Donald Trump got elected. (And the extreme liberals - I mean progressives - Clinton supporters, anyway - rioted. That's also a post for another time. I don't want to dwell on it here. It's a distraction. Let's keep focused on Trump and his supporters, okay?)

In the three days following his election, these three things happened to friends of mine. This isn't something I'm reposting from a remote newspaper or blog, okay? Two of these are first-hand, and the third one is second-hand, but it still counts because I know these people and I know when it happened to them.

These things really happened.

1. This first one is from one of my former math students. Her parents immigrated to the U.S. legally, before she was born. She and her two sisters graduated from college. This woman is working as a teacher in a downtown Denver elementary school (which Donald Trump disparagingly referred to as "inner city," because he didn't want to say "black" or "Hispanic" or "low-income" or "crime-ridden") while she is pursuing a graduate degree. Someone left this comment on her FB page, the day after the election: 

Try to convince me that this was not a direct result of Trump being elected. Go ahead. I'll be glad to call you an ostrich.

2. This second one is from one of my parishioners. This woman is from Saipan, an island in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Saipan, and the other islands in the CNMI, have been part of the United States since 1944, and its inhabitants are natural-born U.S. Citizens. Got that? Not immigrants. Citizens, just as much as native Hawaiians and Alaskans are citizens.

She works at a large nationwide retail store here in Colorado, whose owners were yuge donors to the Trump campaign. This happened to her on Friday, three days after the election:

Again, try to tell me that this wasn't a direct result of Trump getting elected. Try to tell me (or her) that it would have happened if Clinton had been elected instead - or that it would have happened if this weren't an election year.

3. This third one is a friend-of-a-friend. One of my friends works with a Muslim man, whose brother lives and works in Seattle. This extended Muslim family immigrated legally to the United States years ago, fleeing an oppressive regime in the Middle East, and looking for freedom. They bought into all the ideals which constitute the American Dream, and have been working hard at becoming Americans. On Wednesday morning, the guy in Seattle found this piece of paper under his windshield:

I'm sure you will agree with me that this is despicable. You will even tell me that you would never do this yourself, or condone anyone else doing it. You might even point out the cowardice of the perpetrator, since he didn't leave his name or contact information on the paper.

But you cannot convince me that this is not a direct result of Trump being elected. When the message starts with "We won! Now ...", it's pretty clear and undeniable.

Now, here's the part that you don't want to hear. And you may get offended by this. If you voted for Trump, and if Trump won your state, then these racist incidents are partly your fault.

Follow my logic here. And remember that scene from Aladdin.

1. If you voted for Donald Trump, and so did a majority of voters in your state, then you were part of that majority. That's an important distinction.

2. If the majority of voters in your state voted for Trump, then all of the electoral votes in your state went for Trump.

3. Donald Trump won in 31 states, giving him over 300 electoral votes and winning him the election.

Okay so far? You can take part of the credit for electing Donald Trump. You can loudly proclaim, "My candidate won!"

4. As a result of Donald Trump's election victory, many racists and extremists, lowlifes who had been hiding in the shadows for years, muttering to themselves on their racist blogs, suddenly felt empowered. They moved out into the light and began openly harassing and threatening minorities and immigrants. 

I have given you three examples in support of this fact. Do you want more? Are three witnesses not enough for you?

Now, I know you weren't voting to embolden the low-level racists and hatemongers. You were voting to preserve the Supreme Court majority, or to keep the Clintons from looting the White House for a second time. You had no intention, with your vote, of causing pain to my former student, my Saipan friend, or that Muslim immigrant in Seattle.

And yet, just like Jafar, you got Donald Trump - and everything that goes with him. You don't get to pick and choose which consequences of Trump's ascension you voted for. You voted for all of it.

You can't say "I just wanted the Supremes, not all the rest of it." You knew, going in, that you were going to get all of it. But you squeezed your eyes shut, held your nose, and voted for him anyway.

And, just like Romney said it would, the "trickle-down racism" happened. And, whether you want to admit it or not, even if it wasn't your intention, it's partly your fault.

On Sunday, November 13, five days after the election, Donald Trump was interviewed on 60 Minutes.  Leslie Stahl asked him about the harassment that had been taking place, and in typical Trumpian reality-distortion mode, he said:

Donald Trump: I don’t hear it—I saw, I saw one or two instances…
Lesley Stahl: On social media?
Donald Trump: But I think it’s a very small amount. Again, I think it’s--
One or two instances? I have told you of three real instances, and I'm just one person - a white male person, no less.

So then, to his credit, Trump said:
Lesley Stahl: Do you want to say anything to those people?
Donald Trump: I would say don’t do it, that’s terrible, ‘cause I’m gonna bring this country together.
 Lesley Stahl: They’re harassing Latinos, Muslims--
Donald Trump: I am so saddened to hear that. And I say, “Stop it.” If it-- if it helps. I will say this, and I will say right to the cameras: Stop it.
So Donald Trump told everyone to knock it off with the racist stuff that's been going on. Do you think it will work? The horses have left the barn, Mr. Trump. There's no use locking the door now.

Now, if you are a white person who voted for Donald Trump, what are you going to do about it? You voted for him, what are you going to to do fix it?

John Pavolovitz, a white Christian blogger, pointed the finger at all of the white Christians who voted for Trump, and told them what they need to do to fix the situation. Basically, he told them that this mess was their fault. He gave them two tasks:
1. Reach out to the victimized minorities, tell them you're sorry, and try to make amends.
2. Stand up to the perpetrators. Protect the victims. Do your part to bring an end to the harassment.
And he suggested that this should be done, live and in person, person to person.

For some reason, a lot of white Christian voters reacted poorly to his article. He was very blunt, he did point the finger of blame, and it made a lot of people uncomfortable. In reaction, there was a lot of "It's not my fault" and "I don't have to fix anything." (Remember Jafar.) And, even in the face of what he said in his blog, many people insisted that it was up to the victims to reach out, to establish a dialogue, and to be forgiving.

The Latinos and the Muslims aren't the ones who need to have a change of heart. And it's time that everyone who helped to put Donald Trump in the White House take their share of the blame and do their part to make amends.

Some of the white Christians didn't take kindly to be singled out. They say that's not fair. Some of them, not really understanding what "racist" means, have told me that it's "racist" to single them out like that. Then I challenge them to explain away this article from Religion News Service, entitled "White evangelicals, Catholics and Mormons carried Trump", or this one from World Religion News, entitled "Why the majority of Christians voted for Donald Trump".

This is where I'm supposed to put down two or three pithy statements and a final zinger, to make a powerful concluding paragraph. I don't have any. I'm too tired.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Four Years is a Long Time

Four years is a long, long time. Whatever the American public does to survive these four years, we need to make sure that this never happens again.

The Republican party needs to start now to seek out men of integrity and wisdom, something that was sorely lacking in 2015 and 2016. They need to be prepared to replace Donald Trump in 2020 - or before then, if impeachment or resignation is a possibility.

On the Democratic side: if that party ever wants to be in power again, they need to find someone with the integrity of Jimmy Carter and the savvy of Ronald Reagan. It looked like Hillary Clinton had this one in the bag. She should have won by a landslide, instead of being edged out by a mysoginistic, bombastic, lying windbag like Donald Trump, but the people rejected her. What message should the Democrats take from this? It is as follows:
The American people have said in this election is they don't want someone in the White House as corrupt and nasty and greedy as Hillary Clinton.
On the third-party side: Americans need to look deeply inward, and ask themselves if it was worth it, compromising their morals to vote for "the lesser of two evils" this year. I still maintain that it wasn't worth it, not even from the beginning. I'm realistic enough to know that we will never have a perfect, flawless candidate to vote for. But these two were so badly flawed that neither of them was qualified for the job.

Something that needs to be said: I don't think that this election was a rejection of the idea of a woman as President. I think it was a rejection of the person, Hillary Clinton.

As evidence of this, I point out that nobody, not even Donald Trump, intimated that she should not be elected simply because she was a woman. Maybe our society has made some progress after all.

One final word: if you have spoken out against Donald Trump in the last 18 months, and if you have not changed your tune yet, you would do well to find someplace to hide. Your name is probably on his enemies list (here's a link to another one), and either his secret police or his storm troopers will be coming for you.

The Biggest Losers of the 2016 Presidential Election

At this point, it is clear that the third party wasn't a factor in this presidential race. It could have been. All of the advocates of the third-party vote were just shouting into the wind. Everyone else was locked into the two-party mentality and didn't think a third party would make any difference.

Are you kidding me? Donald Trump was pronounced the winner with just 276 electoral votes. If only one third-party candidate had won seven electoral votes, it would have made all the difference in the history of the world.

So the most obvious losers in this contest were Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. But the American people were also losers. We were losers as soon as Clinton and Trump were nominated by their respective parties.

But no - this post celebrates three other losers, three First Class, Grade A Idiots, three long-eared jackassses, who by their actions managed to royally screw up the campaign. Like Grover Norquist four years ago, nobody voted for these people, and yet they managed to insert themselves into the election process and make a royal mess of it. If they had just used their brains, things would have happened differently.

Here, for your reading enjoyment, are The Biggest Losers of the 2016 Presidential Election.

1. Reince Priebus

This is the chairman of the Republican National Committee. In a totalitarian state like the USSR, the chairman of the ruling party is the Man Behind the Throne, and the most powerful man in the country. By hitching his wagon to the Trump star, Priebus may have really enhanced his cred, and he may yet become the most powerful political figure in the country.

But with Trump, Priebus is like a little kid taking a Great Dane for a walk: the dog drags him around wherever it wants to go, despite the child's cries of "Heel! Heel!"

In the days before the Republican national convention, and in the days that followed, Priebus missed several opportunities to take Trump behind the woodshed, give him a good whipping, and make him fall into line. Instead, he was cowed and bullied by Trump, and both blindsided and intimidated by Trump's popular support, and he chose to follow instead of to lead. He has allowed Donald Trump to lead him around by the nose since July.

Reince Priebus surrendered his brain, his spine, and his manhood to Donald Trump. He may yet come out ahead, politically speaking, but as a person, he is an idiot, and a loser.

(UPDATE: On November 13, Trump named Priebus as his White House chief of Staff. He resigned on July 27, 2017, having served the shortest term of any White House chief of Staff in the history of the republic.

For the record, Priebus was actually forced out of the White House by Anthony Scaramucci, Scaramucci was the newly-appointed White House Communications Director, a position which he held for only six days — also a historical record —before being fired by the new White House chief of staff, John Kelly. This makes Scaramucci an even bigger jackass than Priebus.)

2. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

This is the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. She is also a member of the House of Representatives, representing a district from Florida. (Florida, by the way, voted for Trump, so that makes her a loser already.) Since she is still in Congress, she may consider herself a winner, but ...

What makes her a loser is that she and other DNC executives were exposed as having been instrumental in denying the other candidate, Bernie Sanders, a fair shot at the party's nomination. In fact, she fumbled the whole pre-convention campaign effort, and was responsible for an unelectable candidate getting nominated. Here's the way Wikipedia puts it:

2016 Presidential election

Clinton's opponents, Martin O'Malley and Bernie Sanders, separately criticized the decision by Wasserman Schultz to schedule only six debates in the 2016 Presidential Primary, fewer than in previous election cycles, as well as the timing of the debates.

In May, MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski called on Schultz to step down over the DNC's bias against the Bernie Sanders campaign. The 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak revealed that Schultz was furious at the negative coverage of her actions in the media, and she emailed [NBC News political director] Chuck Todd that such coverage of her "must stop". Describing the coverage as the "LAST straw", she ordered the DNC's communications director to call MSNBC president Phil Griffin to demand an apology from Brzezinski.
ResignationSee also: 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak

After Wikileaks published Democratic National Committee emails which suggested that DNC staffers had inappropriately backed Hillary Clinton in the primary campaigns while criticizing the Bernie Sanders campaign, Wasserman Schultz tendered her resignation as the head of the DNC, to become effective as of the close of the nomination convention in Philadelphia. According to reports in the Washington Post, Wasserman Schultz strongly resisted suggestions she resign, requiring a phone call from President Barack Obama to finally force her resignation.

Following a speech at the convention before the Florida delegation where Wasserman Schultz was "booed off stage" the DNC announced she would not gavel open the convention. She was subsequently appointed honorary chair of the Clinton campaign's "50 state program."
It wasn't gettting caught that makes Schultz a loser. It was engaging in those blatantly preferential and, frankly, self-centered and childish, activities in the first place.

The rest of the Wikipedia article about Schultz is not very complimentary either, She may be an elected member of Congress, but as a person, she is an idiot and a loser.

(UPDATE: Debbie Wasserman Schultz is still in office. But she won the Young Turks' 2016 Jerk of the Year award.)

3. James Comey

This is the director of the FBI. He was appointed to the office in 2013. He will serve a ten-year term, and he cannot be removed from office except by voluntary resignation. Well, perhaps he can be fired.

He came under fire in July for his mishandling of a criminal investigation against then front-runner candidate Hillary Clinton. Then he inserted himself into the political process in the last 10 days of the campaign. He was alternately praised (by both sides) for his professionalism and his integrity, and criticized (by both sides) for his partisanship, his poor sense of timing, and his clumsiness. Whether he was praised or criticized depended on who benefited from his public pronouncements.

By making any public announcements at all, he flouted FBI and Justice department protocols and interfered with both due process of law, and the election process. Someone said that he was "putting his thumb on the scale," one hamfisted man tilting the election first one way, and then the other way.

There is no doubt that he got too close to the action, stuck his nose where it didn't belong, and influenced the election. Clinton may be able to lay the blame for her loss squarely at his feet. Maybe he deserved the praise for his professionalism, maybe not, but as a person, he is an idiot and a loser.

(UPDATE: James Comey was fired by Trump on May 9, 2017, in a move that was both clumsy and controversial on Trump's part. That's par for the course.)

So there you have it: Three Big Losers

Many other people lost something in this election, but Reince Priebus, Susan Wasserman Schultz and James Comey have all earned the right to walk around in public with giant paper dunce caps on their heads, proclaiming to all the world: "THIS PERSON IS AN IDIOT. THIS PERSON IS A LOSER."

Congratulations, Utah. You blew it.

Congratulations, Utah. You blew it. You had a chance to make a difference in this election, with your 6 electoral votes. But you chickened out.

As of this morning, with two states still uncounted, Donald Trump had exactly 276 electoral votes. That's six more than he needed to win. Six electoral votes. That's Utah.

If Arizona and Michigan swing for Hillary Clinton, Trump will have won by only six votes. If one other state, say Arizona or Idaho, had swung for Clinton, and Utah had voted for a third party, it would have forced an Amendment 12 election and we would have been spared both of these losers.

This election was a squeaker. Neither major political party can claim a mandate. Trump won by the slimmest of margins, the Republicans hold a slim majority (18 seats) in the House and only a one-seat majority in the Senate. It was more or less a coin toss.

Whether Clinton or Trump won, either way, we would have awakened to despair on Wednesday morning. There had been a glimmer of hope from the Rocky Mountains. This was a race in which a third party could have made a real difference. Instead, the Mormon majority in Utah decided to align with the Evangelical Christians in the Deep South, to abandon their principles and vote for what was expedient instead of what was right. They wanted to save their precious conservative majority in the Supreme Court.

You people have it all wrong. Haven't you seen how Donald Trump has used, abused, and manipulated the justice system for his personal gain, since 1973? Nothing's going to change. Trump is going to appoint judges who will enrich him, who will help him to amass wealth and power, and who will help him to punish his enemies, even those whose only crime was to speak out against him.

Let me put it in words you Mormons will understand: You have elected King Noah. (Now is a good time for everybody else to go and read the book of Mormon.) Of course, your other choice was the Gadianton robbers - but again, that's only if you buy into the fallacy that the election was an either/or, two-option choice.

Again for the Mormons, there are two scriptures that matter, although it's too late for you to apply them to this election:

From Doctrine and Covenants, 98:8-10:

I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.
Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.
Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil.

And from Doctrine and Covenants, 121:39:

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

Utah (and Idaho, and Arizona), you could have taken a moral stand, however futile it might have appeared. You could have stood on principle. And, in hindsight, now that the numbers are in, you would have made a difference in this election. But you abandoned your principles in favor of expediency, thus joining the evangelical Christians, who threw in the towel months ago. You're no better than them.

And you have reinforced the tautology that a third-party candidate will never win an election because nobody will vote for him, and nobody will vote for a third-party candidate because he will never win an election.

Let's all try again in four years, okay? Stay tuned for the next two posts.