283. glocal

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DevinCook, and Jacobolus. Today I am taking a respite from the wonderful world of mental health, apostasy, and AD/HD to talk about the sujet du jour:

The shitshow that is American politics.

In general, I try to avoid discussing politics on this site, seeing as political news is pretty much unavoidable most places these days, and nobody wants to hear about it.

To my readers outside the United States, I probably follow your coverage of American politics more closely than I do American news, so I’m aware of what most of the world thinks of the United States and of Americans in general.

It’s humiliating to be reminded every day that an ignorant bunch of racist, homophobic, gun-toting xenophobes living in isolated pockets in the most conservative (and least populated) states throughout my country handed an incompetent nitwit the election thanks to the arcane, wibbly-wobbly math of the Electoral College¹, which apportions…

… oh fuck it. I don’t even understand.

Nobody understands.

CGP Grey does, thankfully.

So if you’ve been paying attention to the flurry of lies and spin coming out of the White House since the Orange One and his deplorable band of criminals took over, one of their favorite lines is to insist that “the American people” voted for Donald Trump, as if his winning the Electoral College vote grants him the mandate to ban Muslims from entering the country, building his fucking wall along the U.S/Mexico border, pulling out of the Paris Climate Accord… etc.

Except that we didn’t. Here’s how it breaks down.

How Did Americans Vote in the 2016 Presidential Election

That “Voting-Eligible Population” is particularly important because it excludes anyone under age 18, along with non-citizens, convicted felons (depending on state law where they reside), and mentally incapacitated persons².

Roughly 1 in 40 Americans are prevented from voting due to a felony record, and thanks to racial disparities in policing and sentencing, many of them are non-white. Something as simple and non-violent as copyright infringement or possession of marijuana without intent to distribute (i.e., for personal use) can land someone with a felony conviction.

Thus, permanently denying them the right to vote.

According to Michael McDonald’s website analyzing the results of the 2016 election votes, 3,249,802 Americans were ineligible for this reason.


If you’ve been paying attention recently, one of the Mangled Apricot Hellbeast’s primary obsessions since the election is the fact that he lost the popular vote.

By roughly 2.9 million votes.

It appears to literally be driving him crazy—which is terrifying when you consider that this is the man who holds the nuclear codes.

Since November, he has repeated the baseless claim that he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

Besides the Russian hackers operation, there is no evidence of any voter fraud, let alone three million votes. That’s insane—and yet, that is precisely the narrative being peddled by the current U.S. administration.

So this “witless fucking cocksplat” of a president has ordered the formation of a commission to look into supposed voter fraud.

And this past Friday, that commission released 112 pages of unredacted emails of public comment in response to their request to the states for hand over voter information, including sensitive personal data such as birthdates, partial Social Security numbers, party affiliation and felon status³.

My favorite response was the Mississippi Secretary of State responding that “the commission can ‘go jump in the Gulf of Mexico’.”

But what is especially frightening about this recent initiative is the unprecedented move by this administration to cast doubt on the integrity of the results from the popular vote, seemingly in order to lend themselves the appearance of legitimacy that will allow them to carry out their reign of reckless incompetency unopposed.

However, the most striking feature of the results from the 2016 election is the fact that nearly 94 million Americans did not cast a vote for president. They may have voted for their local representatives, but 40.7% of the voting-eligible population essentially cast a vote of no confidence in how Americans elect their president.

It speaks to how disconnected many people feel from Washington, D.C., and how fed up many are with the divisive partisanship, lack of effective leadership, and utter lack of appealing candidates that were the hallmarks of the 2016 American election cycle.

The upset that resulted in the Republican victory speaks to the reality that the concerns of Americans in many (especially rural) parts of the country have gone unheeded for too long. Life is a struggle for significant parts of the population while a disproportional minority at the top enjoy undeserved tax breaks and kickbacks.

Clinton’s loss speaks to the influence of Russian meddling, yes, but also the reality that the Democratic party has lost touch with a majority of Americans in the middle and working classes, to the point that it cost them many states that traditionally go blue in elections—namely, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Ohio, Michigan, and Florida.


The point of all this is that although the United States government is currently helmed by a sexual predator and racist Cheeto, the reality is that he does not speak for a vast majority of Americans—72.7% of us, to be precise.

He does not speak for us, or represent the type of American ideals set out in documents like the Constitution (which he clearly hasn’t read). He is the ugly face of an ignorant minority who are desperate to turn back the clock on progress towards realizing the dream of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness for all.

He is Not My President.


Endnotes:

¹ None but a handful of Americans understand the Electoral College, which was ultimately established in 1787 to preserve the institution of slavery in the United States by way of the Three-Fifths Compromise, wherein black slaves were counted as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of census taking in order to grant states with high slave populations more votes in the electoral college.

² McDonald, Michael P. “What is the voting-age population (VAP) and the voting-eligible population (VEP)?” United States Elections Project. July 7, 2017. Accessed July 17, 2017. http://www.electproject.org/home/voter-turnout/faq/denominator.

³ Neuman, Scott. “Vote Fraud Commission Releases Public Comments, Email Addresses And All.” NPR. July 14, 2017. Accessed July 17, 2017. http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/07/14/537282309/vote-fraud-commission-releases-public-comments-email-addresses-and-all.

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157. canonize

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I started this as an email to my friend Christy, but figured I’d share it as an open letter instead.

Basically, here’s my pitch for voting NO on the constitutional marriage amendment in Minnesota — even for Christians.

Contrary to how it’s framed, this amendment isn’t about voting to legalize same-sex marriage. If it doesn’t pass on Tuesday, it still won’t be legal on November 7. There will still be a law in place. It’s about limiting the rights of citizens in order to enshrine a religious doctrine: i.e., God’s design for marriage is 1 man + 1 woman. It’s forcing the Minnesota constitution to take sides in a religious debate. This is a violation of the First Amendment, as well as the Fourteenth Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

If there were secular reasons for banning same-sex couples from marriage, it would be one thing. But there aren’t any.

I’ve been through the “evidence” from Minnesota for Marriage, and it’s highly suspect.

  • Churches won’t be forced to marry same-sex couples. (Actually, in every state where same-sex marriage is legal there is specific language in the laws prohibiting religious institutions and clergy from being forced to perform same-sex ceremonies.)
  • Christians won’t be fired from jobs for speaking out against same-sex marriage or gay people.
  • Children won’t be taught about same-sex marriage in school any more than they’re already being taught about heterosexual marriage.

It’s all scare tactics.

The CDC released a study in 2010 on the results of a 6-year study that found that the only factor researchers could identify for raising healthy children is a two-parent home. The gender of the parents was not a factor for success. Children of same-sex parents were just as happy and healthy as those raised by opposite-sex parents.

If this were about protecting marriage, we’d be banning divorce. If it were about protecting family, we’d be incentivizing marriage by limiting it to couples who are able to or choose to produce children. But infertile couples are free to marry, just as couples who don’t get pregnant are also free to. And they’re free to marry and divorce as many times as they like. Yet same-sex couples can’t even get married once.

So for me this is about returning sanctity to marriage. When I want to make that kind of commitment, it’s not because I can. It’s because I will want to share my life with someone in a very meaningful way. After all, what is it that has kept same-sex couples together for decades when there was no incentive to do so? Most had to keep their relationships a secret, or had to live in insular communities where they could be safe. If anti-gay conservatives are right and relationships are just about sex for gays, why shackle yourself to one person when you could be out enjoying the smörgåsbord?

When a heterosexual person gets married, they are unwittingly bestowed with over 1,138 federal rights and benefits from the government. (There are 515 laws in MN that discriminate against same-sex couples.) It’s like the government sneaks a huge binder in amongst all the wedding present.

  • You can’t be compelled to testify against your spouse in court. I would be compelled to testify against Jay since the law would consider us “roommates.”
  • You’re entitled to the disposal of your spouse’s body and property in the event of death. If Jay and I bought a house together and his parents didn’t approve of our relationship, they are legally entitled to swoop in and take everything if he were to die, and I would have no legal rights over how to bury him. There are awful, heartbreaking stories about this. Heterosexual couples don’t have to have lawyers to ensure this doesn’t happen.

There’s more. Believe me. (Check out www.project515.org.) So how is all of this not discrimination against committed, same-sex couples? Why is the relationship between a man and a woman so different that gay people need to be excluded from marriage?

Marriage will NOT be redefined when same-sex couples are permitted to marry. (Yes, I said when.) Predictions made when Loving v. Virginia hit the Supreme Court in 1967 are being made today — and society is still standing. Bottom line: we’re not asking the government to redefine anything. We merely want to be included, the same as everyone else. The Supreme Court even called marriage a civil right:

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival.

Last night during the Minnesota Public Radio marriage amendment debate, Kerri Miller asked Brian Brown what the consequences would be if same-sex marriage were legalized. He kept changing the subject and speaking in generalities, but he couldn’t name specifics. Instead, he kept kept bringing up the Bible — but this isn’t about religion. It’s about law.

Constitutions should expand the rights of citizens, not limit them. This amendment not only expands the role of government in permanently banning same-sex couples from marrying, it also enshrines a religious belief and the prejudices of those who hold it, enabling them to discriminate with impunity.

This is about the Golden Rule: do to others as you would be done by. Would you want someone voting on who you can’t marry? I don’t think so.


Resources:

American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota:

Marriage Matters

Minnesotans United for All Families

Project 515

RationalWiki

Southern Poverty Law Center

153. velleity

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“Immediately after the [9/11] attack, seeing the [American] flag all over the place was moving, endearing. So when the newspaper I subscribe to published a full-page, full-color flag to clip out and hang in the window, how come I couldn’t? It took me a while to figure out why I guiltily slid the flag into the recycling bin instead of taping it up. The meaning had changed; or let’s say it changed back. In the first day or two the flags were plastered everywhere, seeing them was heartening because they indicated that we’re all in this sorrow together. The flags were purely emotional. Once we went to war, once the president announced that we were going to retaliate against the “evildoers,” then the flag again represented what it usually represents, the government. I think  that’s when the flags started making me nervous.”
— Sarah Vowell, The Partly Cloudy Patriot, p.158

A few days ago I finished listening to Sarah Vowell’s Unfamiliar Fishes, an account of the American annexation of Hawaii in 1898. As a public radio listening, I’ve had the biggest crush on her voice since being introduced to This American Life and hearing her work on that show.

In case you’re not familiar with the story, the annexation of Hawaii came about through the deliberate intervention of the grandsons of American Christian missionaries. The Kingdom of Hawaii occurred five years previously in 1893, led mainly by anti-imperialist American citizens. Basically, it’s another chapter in the all-too-real horror story of imperialist manifest destiny and American exceptionalism; this notion that America has been called by God to “Christianize” other countries and bring their peoples under the authority of Christ—i.e., rich white men armed with the certainty that their theology is the right one, and that their cause is the only just one.

In other words, “Might makes right” (i.e., the Bush doctrine).

The same belief that led the United States to invade and occupy Iraq for 8 years, 8 months and 3 weeks, and Afghanistan since 7 October 2001, is the same one that led nineteenth century American columnist John L. O’Sullivan to remark of Oregon: “That claim is by the right of our manifest destiny to overspread and to possess the whole of the continent which Providence has given us for the development of the great experiment of liberty and federated self-government entrusted to us.”

Stand there with a straight face and tell me that the current American foreign wars (i.e., occupations) aren’t experiments in American democracy.

A nineteenth century cartoon of a schoolhouse overseen by a glowering Uncle Sam scowling at childlike representations of rebellious Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Cuba has this written on the chalkboard:

The consent of the governed is a good thing in theory, but very rare in fact.

England has governed her colonies whether they consented or not. By not waiting for their consent she has greatly advanced the world’s civilization.

The U.S. must govern its new territories with or without their consent until they can govern themselves.

And when I hear Mitt Romney saying things like, “God did not create this country to be a nation of followers. America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers,” I hear the boats being readied again, as they were in  1820 when the first Protestant Christian missionaries arrived in Hawaii, to dispatch his manifest destiny theology like a virus to foreign shores.

I am becoming increasingly ashamed to be an American. Not only are our students some of the least educated in the Western world, but we’re also the most strongly religious Western country. Every time a Republican opens their mouth to say that women can’t get pregnant from rape, or that homosexuals are the cause of hurricanes, I feel as though the country I was born and raised in is being pulled from my hands just a little bit more.

In 2006, Grace Church Roseville, the church I grew up in got a new pastor. He was young, with fresh, new ideas about how to engage the community and “grow the flock.” At first things were okay. Like any new relationship, we knew it would take time to get to know him and adjust to the change in leadership. But then things started to change in a not-so-exciting direction. Sermons were watered down to appeal to a wider demographic. (The senior pastor now apparently delivers talks from an iPad.) Thousands of dollars were spent refurbishing the sanctuary, with special attention paid to lights in order to “enhance the worship experience” (i.e., put on a flashier show). The point at which I checked out was when they wanted to buy a professional barista machine. I remember sitting in church one Sunday, and as though I’d just woken up, I thought: “This isn’t my home anymore.” The physical room was the same, but it had changed to the point where it was unrecognizable as the place I’d known.

So now conservative Christians are trying to force their anti-gay agenda on this country, attempting to overturn the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and derail efforts to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. They claim to not hate gays, and perhaps they truly don’t—which makes their work all the more hideous for throwing LGBT Americans under the bus in order to further their political agenda and pander to an ultra-conservative voter base. Because the truth is that there’s a lot of money to be had from evangelical Christians—money that isn’t going to feed the hungry, help the poor and sick, or relieve global suffering.

Apparently stopping those godless faggots from not hurting anyone is more important than being like their Christ.

Regardless 0f what happens in this election, this country is less of a home to me now thanks to conservative bastards like Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Tony Perkins and Maggie Gallagher. The fact that they’re still being taken seriously makes me wonder if there’s anything left to fight for here.

Sic transit gloria mundi.