Let’s Play Pretend

What do you think the right wingers would do if they got their wish? If they managed to completely take over the government and implement their plans to turn us to a “Christian” nation? How long do you think it would take before it got just as bad for nonbelievers and gays and other “undesirables” as it is in Russia, or Uganda, or, hell, Nazi Germany?

Judging by how extreme their language could be, what do you think they’d do if they had their way? We know what you get when liberals get their way. You get higher wages, better working conditions, sick leave, healthcare, and a government that actually gives a crap what happens to you.

A government that fights for the rights of ALL people, not just the “chosen ones.”

I can imagine this. Actually, I’m working on imagining this, because it’s the background of my next novel. They don’t get the U.S. Just Texas.

Personally the notion scares the FUCK out of me. And it should. The Handmaid’s Tale was, to me, more frightening than anything Stephen King ever wrote. And I never forgot it.

Don’t fool yourself thinking they’d be all that much kinder than Daesh if they got their way. They hide their savagery behind masks most of the time, but you can see it online. I’ve seen it all. Especially when they get all misogynistic and rapey. And you KNOW they do.

This might SEEM like a rhetorical question, but it’s not. If you have an answer, please feel free to offer it.

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Radical? I don’t think so.

Some might call me a radical, which is amusing since “radical” is pretty much the farthest thing from what I am.  Radicals usually have a end goal that they want to get to, some utopian idea that they think will make everything better.  Fact is, I’m rather conservative in this respect.  I believe not in radical change, but in incremental change.  Incremental change allows for small adjustments should they be needed.

I’m not an anarchist, who believes that we can live without leaders.  One thing I’ve noticed about people is they really, really like having someone else to blame if something goes wrong.  And some people don’t really want to make monumental decisions.  They’re happy to let someone else make the decisions and take the blame.

I don’t want to nationalize the oil companies.  In fact, for starters pretty much the only thing I want from them is, first, to actually be held financially liable for their “accidents.”  If a fine isn’t actually painful, it’s not a fine, it’s a payoff.  When they dump millions of gallons into the oceans and get a slap on the hand and apologies for even that, there’s a problem.  They have no motivation to make the kind of mistakes that lead to the oil spills if it doesn’t hurt them when it happens.  Oh, sure, their PR takes a hit, but their profits don’t.

Universal healthcare isn’t really a radical idea.  Not when every other industrialized nation has some form of it.  Health insurance companies, before Obamacare, were little more than bloated leeches that didn’t have to actually serve their clients.  If individuals got screwed over, that was just too bad.

I’m even moderate on guns.  I don’t have a problem with the 2nd Amendment.  I have a problem with people who don’t grasp that there are people out there who should not be encouraged to purchase or carry firearms.  Your chronically unemployed, drunken brother in law might have the right to own a gun, but no one in their right mind would suggest he needs one.  I have a problem with irresponsible people who leave weapons where children can find them, people who would, up until that moment, likely argue exactly how responsible they are and curse anyone for questioning it.  And I have very little patience for those who would argue that it’s only a few children killed… more are killed in swimming pool or car accidents.

Yeah, and laws are passed to prevent such things.  If a kid wanders into your yard and drowns in your pool, you’re held responsible.  You can even be civilly sued for it.  If a kid finds a gun and shoots someone, they write it down as an “unfortunate accident.”  Nothing accidental about it.  It’s negligent.  If a guy showing off his weapon to his friends accidentally shoots his daughter, it’s not really an accident.  It’s incompetence.  It’s complacency.  And it’s damn irresponsible.

Not everyone needs a weapon, not everyone should be encouraged to own a firearm.  No one with any class at all would tell a suicidal person to go buy a gun, yet the rampant promotion of gun ownership quite likely puts them in the hands of those who might be suicidal.

Not everyone needs to own a gun.  I’d be happy if the NRA just said that for a change.  “Yes, you have the right to own a firearm.  But do you need one?  Are you someone who will properly care for it and not use, store, or carry it improperly? Have you had firearms safety training?  Do you know how to assess a threat and determine whether lethal force is necessary?  Are you frightful and jumpy?  Do you have a problem with anger management or impulse control?

But, no, the NRA will never do that.  Why?  Because the NRA stopped representing responsible gun owners a long time ago.  Now they’re just a sales and justification arm for the weapon manufacturers.

See… here’s a little secret. Not everything needs another law to deal with it.  Sometimes we just need a sea change in attitude.  If your hillbilly dumbass of a brother likes to get drunk and play with his guns, maybe he shouldn’t have them.  It’s just a thought.

Complacency kills just as quickly as malice.  Except when it’s malice that kills you, at least someone will come along and bust the person who does it.  If complacency kills you, you’ve only yourself to blame.

I will admit, this last might be a radical notion, but only in the sense that I’m a lone voice saying something no one else is.  I’m not saying change the law as much as I’m saying change our attitudes.  Change our perspective.  Guns belong in the hands of those responsible enough to handle them with respect and care.  They do not belong in the hands of idiots and assholes.

I don’t think raising the minimum wage is a radical idea.  Oh, I know… they argue that only a small percentage of our workforce is making minimum wage, so what’s the big deal?  Well, here’s the thing.  A lot more people are making just over minimum wage.  There are people out there who’ve gotten tiny raises and who are lucky if they manage to stay ahead of any minimum wage hikes.  You raise the minimum wage, you help them too.  In fact, if you raise it enough, you might be giving a lot more than just the minimum wage earners a boost.

The first couple years at Target I got decent raises.  And then they got stingy.  They actually went so far as to change a performance review after the fact to keep within the guidelines from the home office to keep raises to a minimum.  Six years later, I wasn’t even making a dollar more than minimum wage, and that was after being a peer trainer (that’s like a trainer who doesn’t get paid any extra for extra work) and acting as an effective supervisor when they didn’t have anyone else to do it.  You know, people who were actually paid for it.

So, yeah, I think the workers on the bottom are getting hosed.  Radical?  Not really.  At least, I don’t think so.  It’s not radical to want these companies to share a little more of their profits with those who make it possible.  If profitability and productivity have gone up, but wages remain static, they’re getting those profits from the increased productivity of those they refuse to reward for it.

I think war should be our option of last resort.  We should never seek a war.  That doesn’t mean we should back down from those who’d confront us, but if we engage in wars of choice, we lose any moral high ground and give others the excuse to do the same thing.  Crimea is Putin’s Iraq.

Diplomacy isn’t always talking to people you like.  Sometimes you have to talk to your enemies.  Sometimes you want to talk to your enemies, especially if by doing so you can keep them from making decisions that might be harmful to your interests.  Gunboat diplomacy is very limited, and rarely works the way some people hope it will.  You rattle your saber at someone who knows you can’t afford to engage, you just end up looking like a jackass.

Before I really got into politics I considered myself a moderate.  Many of my views haven’t really changed, though they’ve grown more nuanced.  I believe that there are some industries that shouldn’t be profit driven because it’s actually detrimental to their purpose.

I’m on the fence about term limits.  I’m not sure it’ll solve what I see as the main problem, which is the revolving door between Congress and the industries congress is supposed to regulate.  I’d actually put a five year moratorium on moving from government into the private sector.  You have to leave government completely for five years before you can take job with any industry you were involved in regulating.  No quid pro quo allowed.  And don’t tell me this isn’t an issue.  It’s obviously an issue when a congresscritter loses an election and heads off to a job as a VP of a company that was under the jurisdiction of a congressional committee on which the congresscritter served.

I want this country to be a place of hope for every citizen, not just the fortunate ones.  I want everyone to feel as though they have an equal chance to succeed, not to be limited by their gender, their race, their economic class, or even their traumas and invisible wounds.  I want to see people become bridges rather than obstacles.  I want to see people reaching out to help others, not strike them down or push them away from their goals.

I may be a liberal, but I’m no radical.  Incremental, thoughtful change is what I advocate.  Change for the better, allowing the option to change directions should the need arise.  The only goal is improvement, not some defined end point where things will be great.  I distrust that sort of thinking.

Of course, there are things that I don’t think can be handled by government.  They can only be done by individuals.  Being a bridge rather than an obstacle is a personal choice.  You can be a hand-up or a backhand.  That’s on you.

It’s pretty simple

This country is supposed to work for all of us, not just the most advantaged and the most fortunate.

Gay people are people and deserve the same chance at happiness and/or misery as the rest of us.

If most “conservatives” had been born in Mexico, they’d be trying to cross the border too.

A gun in the hand of a moron is just as dangerous as a gun in the hand of a criminal.

Diplomacy involves talking to people you don’t know and sometimes conceding things they want to get something YOU want. Gunboat diplomacy only works in certain situations. If you approach every diplomatic situation as if saber-rattling will solve it, you’ll cause more problems that you solve.

If you think poor people don’t pay enough in income taxes, double the starting wage. The problem will solve itself.

The only reason a Congress with a 10% approval rating has a 95% rehire rate is because too many of your friends don’t bother to vote.

My Password? Oh, it’s GOFUCKYOURSELF all in caps.

Listen people, they always come up with a good excuse for the bullshit they promote. “Oh, if we initiate zero tolerance policies in school, it will make your kids safer.” Funny thing. We didn’t have that crap when I was in school and, oddly enough, we weren’t in anywhere near as much danger as the kids are now.

Kids have been expelled for butter knives, and completely fake keychain firearms. Hell, toy guns from ACTION FIGURES.

Or if that’s not enough, how about three strikes? Sounds good on paper. Put the dangerous people away, right? Except what happens when they start throwing people in prison for life for stealing BREAD?

Every time someone proposes a law, there should be a question raised. “HOW MIGHT THIS BE MISUSED? Or “how might this go awry?” We’re punishing kids for trying to defend themselves from bullies, giving them the same punishments.

This Illinois anti-bullying laws where they want to force kids to give their social media passwords to the schools is just another example of fascist bullshit they’re trying to get past us. “Oh, but it’s to protect the kids.”

Where have I heard THAT before?

Privilege

Look at privilege this way. You’re white guy. You come up to the starting line and settling down to race wearing nothing but your running shorts, your running shoes, and a tee-shirt or tank top. You can burst off that line like a shot from a gun.

Next to you is a young woman. She’s dressed like you, but she’s got two extra pounds strapped to her wrists and ankles and she’s wearing skirts. She could conceivably beat you, but she’s weighed down. She has to work harder to keep up, much less win.

Next up is an African American man who’s dragging a old-style ball and chain and trying to keep up. Oh, he might be able to lift the ball into his arms, but he’ll never get a full stride. In fact, he has to run just a little crouched over because the chain’s too short.

That’s what privilege is.

The good, the bad, and the fucking clueless.

Got my nose tweaked today.  Telling kids that they shouldn’t look up to sports figures and entertainers (no argument here) but should look up instead to Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.

Manning I have a little respect for.  You decide it’s necessary to break the law to do the right thing, you take your lumps for it.  That’s what civil disobedience is about.  Accepting that when morals and legalities clash, it’s the fact that you did the right thing that is your salvation, not any hope of reprieve from the powers that be.  Plenty people of conscience have suffered imprisonment and walked out all the stronger for it.

Snowden stinks of an operative, someone who was sent into the system to sabotage it, then flee from the natural consequences of his actions.  He ran to Russia and China, two nations on Earth with systemic human rights violations that make many of ours look like mere bad judgement rather than a concerted effort to fuck people over.

For those who want to put them on the same pedestal?  It’s well known what Snowden thought of Manning, before he went and did basically the same thing.

And the revelation that the government was spying on us?  NOT A FUCKING REVELATION.  Anyone who didn’t know that after the Telecom immunity vote in ’06 is a moron.  I knew.  To be honest, I’ve always assumed as much.  I imagine I’m on a few watch lists, just because I take my 1st Amendment rights seriously and fuck ’em if they don’t like it.

Do we need to do something about it?  Yes.  But as long as 2/3 of the electorate doesn’t give a shit that they’re responsible for our government, regardless if they educate themselves or vote, we’re not going to.