Apocalypse, T-minus 71 Days

I finally watched Hillary’s concession speech, He-who-must-not-be-named’s victory speech, President Obama’s post-election speech, and the 3 minute photo op after President Obama and He-who-must-not-be-named met today to discuss the start of the transition of power.

Hillary looked really sad and like she was struggling mightily to not say, “F— you, America!” She looked very presidential, even in defeat.

He-who-must-not-be-named tried to look presidential as he gave his speech. Knowing what he has planned, I find it difficult to give him any points for trying.

President Obama was his usual inspirational self. He will be missed.

But later, after the meeting with He-who-must-not-be-named, I could tell he was struggling to be charitable.

How is everyone doing today? I was hard into my Anger stage this afternoon, which mostly manifested as me lashing out at my family. Sorry, family.

The most important thing to do right now, survivors, is to take good care of yourself. We have to stay healthy if we are going to fight. That means keep grieving, because that must be done. Don’t hold it in.  Get plenty of rest, drink plenty of water, eat good, healthy foods. Get some exercise: go for a walk, do some yoga, play with your kids.

Also, stay vigilant and alert. The walkers always show up out of nowhere when you least expect it. You need to always expect it. We are no longer safe. The president-elect has published his plans for the first 100 days and is starting to pick his cabinet (more on this in my next post). We are about to see how bad it is really going to get.

Stay safe and well out there, survivors.


Apocalypse, T-minus 72 days

So, last night as I watched Hillary’s path to victory get narrower and finally disappear, I kept thinking to myself, “Tomorrow, I start zombie apocalypse boot camp” (It turns out that’s actually a thing). I’ve become too complacent and comfortable, and in denial that what happened could actually happen. Also, I’m a little squishy around the middle.

Life as we know it is about to change. Are you prepared? I don’t think I am.

I don’t think most people are, and then disaster strikes and it’s too late. They’re just walking down the street minding their own business, they turn a corner and an undead walker starts chewing on their face. It’s not pretty.

Fortunately, we’ve been given a 72 day warning of when everything will start turning to shit. Let’s take advantage of it.

OK, so we just witnessed the undead hoard chew off Hillary’s face. The zombies are all around us. What do we do?

The first thing you should do is make sure you and your loved ones are safe. I know a lot of people have been checking in with people, especially their LGBTQIA+ friends/family as well as friends/family of color. See how they are are doing, make sure they are safe, and let them know you have their backs. And then actually have their backs.

Next, take time to grieve. You just saw your friend taken down by the zombies. OK, maybe you didn’t particularly like Hillary, but losing what her presidency would have represented (compared to he-who-must-not-be-named) is devastating. And the thought of all the things we are going to lose (and we are going to lose A LOT) in 72 days is enough to make the most dedicated activist hide in a dark room curled into a ball. You need to take the time to pass through all the stages of grief:

  • Denial: This can’t be happening! The polls predicted a landslide! There’s no way he has enough supporters to pull this off! Hillary won the popular vote! This has to be a bad dream! There has to be a loophole that will give it back to Hillary.
  • Anger: WTF! How could people be so stupid! We have a sex offender as president now! Why didn’t Hillary listen to people’s real concerns? If only we had picked Bernie in the primaries!
  • Bargaining: If we can find a way to keep him out of the White House, even if it means Pence becomes president, I promise, I’ll be the most dedicated activist and work to flip the senate in the mid-terms! Please let him be indicted before he’s inaugurated! The electors don’t have to vote for him in December!
  • Depression: This is the worst thing that could have happened. There is no hope for the US. We’re going to be a third world nation in four years. Or worse, a police state! What’s the point anymore? I’m moving to New Zealand and living in a Hobbit hole.
  • Acceptance: He is the president. There is no denying it given our current electoral system. We survived W, we can survive this. But we need to work like crazy to minimize the damage.

While it is important to process your grief, it is equally important to do it with intention and not linger on it. We don’t have much time to organize and prepare.

In the movies and shows, the zombies take over quite quickly and civilization breaks down. The population is decimated and without the living, utilities and internet can’t be maintained. Humans are cut off from one another and eventually band together into tribes for safety. Some tribes want to rebuild civilization. Others want to make a grab for power in the vacuum left when reasonableness has been left to rot.

He-who-shall-not-be-named has followers (not all of them, of course, but more than a few) who have only been looking for the opportunity and implied permission to attack people they have deemed as “other”. We may see an uptick in discrimination, overt racism, and violent hate-crimes in the coming weeks. Be alert and be ready to defend your loved ones against such attacks.

I realize that I have in essence cast the Republicans in the role of the zombies, and part of that is I’m still in my Anger stage. But really what I mean is that we (yes, Liberals included) have created the monster that is this movement to “shake things up”. Or rather we have created the corrupt society that has made the movement necessary or desirable. And it is that which we need to struggle against if we still want to have a recognizable civilization in four years.

Be safe out there.


Bernie or Bust?


Bernie or bust?

I’m currently reading a book to Ani… the second book in a series that has to do with the fight against a power that has corrupted a once beautiful land. In it, the main character is reflecting on her own life and the life of one of the supporting characters and how they are similar. How they were both plucked from their good lives and thrust into a dark world that has irrevocably changed who they were. She reflects and wonders what their lives might have become had the horrible circumstances never occurred. Ultimately, they both conclude that they would not change anything, that the people they have become are actually a better version of the people they have always been, and instead of giving up, they will continue the fight.

This fight… The main character finds herself in this dark world and is quickly drafted into the revolution to fight for their world. Her mission is to take out the villain. She fails, not once, but twice. The first time is because she did not take an opportunity when it presented itself, and the second is because we learn that her mission was doomed to failure until other actions are taken to weaken the villain (Is this starting to sound like the end of Harry Potter? We thought so, too).

We are at a crossroads. The revolution that Bernie Sanders was leading has failed to achieve one of its objectives. Bernie Sanders will not become President as we hoped. The DNC has awarded the nomination to Hillary Clinton. We are in real danger of having a Trump presidency. It’s not like when Bush II was ”elected” and we thought the world was coming to an end. This is so much worse. His presidency could mean our hard-won progress could be set back decades.

There are those who say we should let it happen. “Break the country. Burn it down and rise again from the ashes. Hillary Clinton is just the left-leaning representative of the villainous capitalist oligarchy that is ruling our world. It needs to end and be replaced by a better world.” Flashes from The Matrix and Terminator come to mind when I think about the kind of world we would live in and the struggles progressives would suffer during a Trump presidency and beyond. Can you say ”police state”? How about “apocalypse”?

Then I come to my senses and rationalize that it couldn’t happen. There are too many checks and balances to prevent the rise of another Hitler, right? But my rationalization falters there and I am not so sure.

As a father, I think about the world that I’m leaving my daughter. Am I really willing to subject her to the dark world that could be? To force her to suffer and fight to regain all of the progress that we as a society threw away? There is the possibility and hope that it will make her stronger, a better version of the person she already is. But I can’t bring myself to subject her to that. Is that a cowardly decision? Shouldn’t I be willing to step up and fight the darkness, to tear down the corrupt world and rebuild a new one for her? Yes, I would be willing to do that for her if I thought that I could also protect her from suffering at the same time. We will all suffer if we go down that path, and if it comes to pass anyway, I will stand and fight and tear down and heal and rebuild. But I cannot bring myself to be responsible for that suffering.

So, I am opting for a holding action. Maintain the status quo, which currently leans progressive, until we can make real change. The revolution never belonged to Bernie. It started long before he came along. And it will continue long after he is gone. But he has awakened us. We know what we need to do. We need to do the other work, take the other actions, start building the foundation of the world we want, so that when it comes time again the villain will be weaker and we can overcome. We need to get involved by supporting progressive candidates up and down the ballot, and running for office ourselves. We need to hold the President, Congress, and our local politicians accountable. And if we want to keep our government left-leaning and moving forward, we need to deliver a liberal House and Senate. Freedom isn’t free… You have to pay attention.

And in the meantime, we need to elect Hillary Clinton. And we need to stop with the negative rhetoric. The portrayal of her as a lying monster was started by the Republicans decades ago. For some reason, some Bernie supporters took up their chant to distinguish her from Bernie during the primaries and the seeds of distrust were sown. But the thing is, Bernie has always liked and respected her, though not always agreed with her, and has said all along that she would make a fine president. She is not as progressive as we might want, but she will continue the slow incremental steps toward our ideals until we create the mechanism by which real change will occur.

I’m with Bernie and I’m with her. And the revolution will go on.

It’s time to stop

It’s time to stop

It’s time to stop and mourn the dead,
speak their names,
comfort their families and friends,
pray for peace.


It’s time to stop and consider how this happened,
how it could have been prevented,
how these people,
these daughters & sons,
these sisters & brothers,
these mothers & fathers,
these dear friends,
could have been spared.


It’s time to stop offering our children,
our siblings,
our parents,
our friends,
to the next bad guy with a gun
as a sacrifice
to appease the god of a fractured freedom.


It’s time to stop bickering with those who demand that
their rights
our lives.


It’s time to stop letting the angry minority
$hout over the apathetic majority,
defending the interests of corporations,
lining their pockets
with the blood of the innocent,
with the fear of the complicit.


It’s time to stop letting
self-proclaimed “patriots”
intimidate us
with their power strapped to their backs,
with their dangerous fantasy
that they can protect us
when the shit hits the fan.


It’s time to stop reading
the abridged version
of the 2nd Amendment,
and remember that rights are not absolute
and must be tempered with wisdom.


It’s time to stop electing politicians
who fear the moneyed interests,
who conspire with them,
who make backroom deals,
trading our safety for cushy jobs,
leaving their integrity
in shreds
on the campaign trail.


It’s time to stop thinking
to stop praying,
to stop succumbing to inertia,
to stop forgetting that love is a verb.


It’s time to stop feeling powerless
as our people are taken by mad men.

And again.
And again.

It is time to wipe away our tears.
It is time to lift our heads
and help each other up.
It is time to find our courage
and our voices.
It is time to be angry.
It is time to join together
and speak out.
It is time to remind our leaders
and ourselves
where their power comes from.

It is time reclaim it.

It is time to stop this.

An open letter to Senator Mike Enzi and the Republican majority (for now) in the Senate

So, I wrote to Senators Enzi and Barrasso of Wyoming, urging them to do their job and consider the nominee President Obama will put forth soon:
As your constituent, I strongly urge against joining the handful of ultra-partisan senators promising maximum obstruction, and ask you to provide fair consideration to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee.
The Senate has a constitutional duty to provide “advice and consent” on Supreme Court nominees. The senators refusing to give any nominee a vote until the next election are placing partisanship ahead of their moral and constitutional obligations — I hope that you do not join them.
Americans deserve for the highest court in the land to be functional and fully-staffed — not long-term vacancies borne of political gridlock.
I urge you to make sure that any Supreme Court nominee receives a fair hearing and timely vote.
He responded with the canned statement that he posted on his website. I felt like I needed to say something back.

Thank you for your response on February 25th to our concerns regarding your decision to not even consider a nominee for the Supreme Court submitted by President Obama. I appreciate you getting back to me so quickly.

But I must respond. I find your reasoning so full of half-truths and hidden agendas that I feel I must address each one individually.

The lifetime appointment of a Supreme Court Justice is not a decision to be made lightly.

I couldn’t agree more. And I believe President Obama takes this duty very seriously. The death of Justice Scalia came as shock to everyone and I sympathize with his family and friends. But your next comment reveals what I believe is your real motivation for obstruction:

History has shown that a justice’s role in shaping our legal understanding of the Constitution is immensely powerful and should not be underestimated.

Supreme Court justices have a tendency to interpret the Constitution one way or another depending on their political ideology. This is the case despite the assumption that they should be fair and impartial, and that Justice is blind. But Conservatives and Liberals use this tendency to their advantage whenever they can.

And that’s really what is comes down to, isn’t it? You know, at best, President Obama is going to nominate a Liberal-leaning Moderate. You and your Conservative colleagues were hoping that this moment, when it came time to appoint a new Justice to the bench, would come when there was a Republican in the White House.

But claiming that President Obama should not nominate Justice Scalia’s replacement because it is too close to the end of his second term, or because it is an election year, is ridiculous and a shameful abuse of your position. With nearly a year left in his Presidency, the timing may be unfortunate for you, but there is more than enough time to get the job done. In fact, more than twice the amount of time than it has ever taken to confirm a Supreme Court Justice.

The President has a Constitutional duty to submit nominees to fill vacancies on the Supreme Court. The fact that it is his last year, or it is an election year is irrelevant. The Senate has a Constitutional duty to consider any nominee the President puts forward and vote on whether to confirm or reject. And I think this brings up another interesting point. I think certain Senate Conservatives are afraid, despite holding the majority, that if they allow an Obama nominee to come up for a vote, they still may not be able to block the appointment. And that is why they have come up with this scheme.

President Obama has ignored the Constitution when it has suited his agenda and he’s expanded executive power at the expense of the legislative branch.

First, even if this was true, this does not change the fact that the President has a duty to nominate and the Senate has a duty to consider his nominee. You make it sound like you are trying to punish the President for some imagined crime. This is a very childish move.

Second, President Obama, a constitutional scholar, has not ignored the Constitution. He is exercising legitimate powers that are granted to him by the Constitution. The fact that the Legislature – which has done nothing but obstruct the President at every turn – is unhappy with the actions the President has taken because they run counter to their Conservative agenda is irrelevant. President Obama has tried to work with the Legislature for seven years, but when it has remained clear that the Conservative majority refused to compromise with him on important issues, he was forced to take the only other legal actions he could.

The Supreme Court has recognized these abuses and has played an important role in reigning in President Obama’s excessive executive actions.

I assume you are referring to the debunked claim that the Supreme Court has time and time again voted unanimously to overturn the President’s overreach. This repeated rhetoric of misinformation is an insult to the American people, especially when your outrage is conspicuously missing when President Bush did far more of what you categorize as “executive overreach.”

Congress is set up to be an equal branch of government to the executive and judicial.

Yes, I understand that the three branches of government provide checks and balances to prevent any one branch from becoming too powerful or abusive. The flip side to that is that the three branches work cooperatively to make the government work smoothly. Please don’t insult the American people by pretending that the Legislature is the victim in this scenario when you and your colleagues have done nothing of significance to advance the country, but instead have been intensely obstructionist at every turn.

The Constitution gives the Senate the right to make decisions on a Supreme Court nominee.

The Constitution gives the Senate the right to advise and then to consent (or withhold consent of a nominee before you). Despite the patronizing tone you take in lecturing us about the branches of government, either you are mistaken or you are being willfully negligent in your duties. In order to fulfill the role you actually have, you must act on the nomination the President of the United States puts before you.

“[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.”

~ Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the Constitution — AKA the Appointments Clause

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has announced the committee’s intention to exercise its constitutional authority to withhold consent on a nominee submitted by this president.

Senator Grassley and the other 10 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee have made an unwise and possibly unconstitutional decision. But there is no doubt that it was a decision born of Conservatives’ typical partisan obstructionism and nothing more. There is no other good reason and there are members of your own party in the Senate who agree.

I believe the American people should decide the direction of the Supreme Court.

The American people elected Barack Obama as their President in 2008 and again in 2012. He is still President until January 20, 2017, nearly 11 more months. You seem to be under the impression that we are sitting in some constitutional limbo land where the rules no longer apply.

I implore you to end the childish games and do your job.

But if you prefer, we can wait until January and let President Bernie Sanders nominate the next Supreme Court Justice – perhaps President Barack Obama?

The Liberals are coming! The Liberals are coming!

I keep hearing this one-liner: “Liberals want to take away our guns.”

Now I may have missed a liberal planning meeting or two, but I’m pretty sure that has not been on the agenda. Ever.

Except if you are a convicted felon or have a mental illness that makes you a danger to yourself or others… then, yeah, we want to take your guns away. But then most conservatives agree with that position also.

Here’s the thing… The existing laws on the books are ineffective. They’re badly enforced and full of loopholes. And many people, both liberal and conservative (but, yeah, mostly liberal) want to strengthen the laws and close the loopholes.

You would think that most people would be all for having our laws be effective. Most, except, hmmm, maybe those who would benefit financially from keeping them watered down. Who would that be? Gun manufacturers? Gun dealers? Politicians who receive contributions from the gun lobby?

But believe it or not, I’m not really here to talk about gun control. Not specifically, anyway. The thing is, when I hear people say things like, “Liberals are trying to take away our guns!” or “The liberal gay agenda will destroy families!” or “Liberals are baby murderers!” , what I really hear is that this person is not really interested in having a conversation and they have not actually taken a long hard look at the issue. Instead they have been listening to rhetoric fed to them by pundits and TV/radio/Internet personalities who are only interested in muddying the waters, engaging their listeners on the level of fear, and perpetuating an “us vs. them” mentality. By demonizing the opposition, they hope to rally their base to their own agenda.

Here’s what I believe: most citizens are intelligent, caring people who have more in common than we think. I also believe that some of us get lazy and complacent at times and prefer to let the rhetoric wash over us after a hard day and we don’t do the work of finding the truth on our own.

Here is my challenge to you. The next time you hear something about how “liberals” or “conservatives” are ruining the country, instead of jumping on the bandwagon, try doing this instead: go up to someone of the opposite persuasion and say, “I heard you believe/want to do this. Is it true?” Or if that is too touchy feely for you, try looking up the facts online. You might find out that what you heard is inaccurate and that you actually have more in common than you thought.

It’s time for Marriage Equality in the Equality State

So, today I was happy to sit as witness as the US District Court, District of Wyoming, heard the case brought by 4 same-sex couples and Wyoming Equality, asking the court to grant a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction so that marriage licences can be issued to same-sex couples in Wyoming.
One of the defendants was the Laramie County Clerk, whose interest in the case was solely to seek the court’s guidance because since the ruling of the 10th US Circuit Court was effectively upheld when the US Supreme Court declined to hear appeals brought by the states of Utah and Oklahoma, it has been unclear as to whether she should continue following the state law, which states that “[m]arriage is a civil contract between a male and a female person…”, or follow the decision of the 10th Circuit.

But Wyoming governor, Matt Mead, does not believe he needs to acknowledge that decision, and has instructed his Attorney General to continue defending the state law, claiming he does not “have the ability to say that I’m declaring something is unconstitutional.”

Technically he is right. As the head of the executive branch of the state government his job is to enforce the laws of the state of Wyoming.

There is a case pending in Wyoming court that is scheduled for December 15 that seeks to have that law declared unconstitutional, and Gov. Mead would like to reserve the right to see that case through.

But, effectively, the Wyoming law has already been declared unconstitutional and no longer can be enforced. It is Gov. Mead’s job now to acknowledge the ruling of the higher court and stop enforcing the law and stop defending it in court. To continue doing so will only serve to delay the inevitable.

But maybe that is what he wants.

He has already gone on record as saying that same-sex marriage goes against his religious beliefs. But if he takes his job as governor seriously, he knows that his personal religious beliefs are not relevant in civil matters. The Wyoming law is in violation of the US Constitution. Therefore he must stop defending it, regardless of how he feels about it.

But I think it is more than that. The election is less than a month away. I think he would very much like to believe that if he can keep defending the law until the hearing in December then he can say that he stood his ground and fought the good fight or whatever other stupid cowboy euphemism would work to rally his conservative base. He knows that as long as he is seen as struggling against the Federal Government, that makes him more electable in Liberpublican Wyoming.

I can hardly imagine that Gov. Mead or his Attorney General has found the magical defense that no other state has found that will stymie the courts and make them see things their way. So I can’t think of any motivation other than the political one that would make him waste taxpayers time and money with this futile effort.

Watching the case unfold this morning proved to me that the Governor doesn’t have a leg to stand on. The Attorney General’s office has hardly given this topic any thought at all. Their main defense is that they would like more time to prepare to defend the law, saying that the US Supreme Court decision to deny the appeals only happened 10 days ago, even though the 10th Circuit made their ruling in June and they knew full well that decision would affect Wyoming. The defense attorney looked very nervous about his role today and gave the vibe that he was going through the motions only because it was his job, and looked as though he knew there was no way to win.

But despite the seemingly cut-and-dried case, the judge refrained from giving an immediate ruling and said he would provide his decision by 5pm Monday.

So we are on pins and needles here today.