So, What Are You Going to Say to…

trumpaccostingliberty

In what passes the monumentally stupid vote by the United Kingdom earlier this year to depart the European Union, the United States – riding a wave of Bubbas, white nationalists, racists, gay-bashers and just enough people that didn’t like seeing someone beneath them rise above their situation – elected a total buffoon to the leader of the free world. That’s right, if you’re just waking up…Donald Trump – he of “grab them by the pussy” fame, who said “why don’t we use nukes? We got ‘em?” who says he knows more about a foreign terrorist organization that those who have been tasked with fighting said organization (and I’m just getting warmed up) – will, come January 20, be inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States. To say the U. S. shot itself in the foot isn’t enough…it literally shot itself in the head and spattered the White House with cranial goo.

Let’s get this out of the way first. The Democratic Party was somehow blindsided in the 2016 elections, much like the GOP was in 2012 with their insistence that Mitt Romney was going to win in a landslide. Instead of being aware of the level of vitriol from a frothing, rabid pack of hyenas, the Dems instead thought they could get by with Hillary Clinton. Clinton’s list of issues too numerous to mention here became the albatross that eventually strangled her, and the party, for which there wasn’t a method of recovery. Like Al Gore in 2000, Clinton can sit back and say she took the popular vote, which she can use with a $1.50 to get a cup of coffee at McDonald’s.

And before we move on, the “Bernie Bros” can sit their ass down, too. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was spared the “oppo research” that a serious candidate would have faced in an election. Clinton went gently on him and, if Sanders had reached the General Election, the GOP machine would have ripped open the seal on every vote Sanders had cast in his 35 years in Washington, D. C. Then there would have been the opportunity for Trump to rip him with the “socialist” and “communist” labels, dog-whistle words that still have a bite in today’s world.

So now we enter the alt-right world, that where everyone is wrapped in the flag and carrying a Bible. So, what are you going to say to…

marriageequality

Your LGBTQ friends – One of the major platforms of the Republican Party – and supported by Trump – was the rescinding of LGBTQ rights that have been earned over the past couple of years. Marriage equity, workplace rights, such things that made members of the LGBTQ community equal legally among the rest of us will be torn away as soon as Paul Ryan (well, maybe not him…he’s probably pulling a Boehner and saying “fuck this” as soon as possible), Mitch McConnell and the Bible thumpers can pen the bill. And then there’s the point that Mike Pence – now the Vice President-Elect – is a supporter for allowing for CONVERSION THERAPY for gays, something that has been proven to be inconclusive at best, harmful to the person at worst and ILLEGAL in five states.

What do you say to those – your friends, family, co-workers – that will become a second-class citizen again? Do you think your “Make ‘Merica Great Again” jingoistic slogan is going to work when your gay brother can’t see his significant other in the hospital (or make decisions on his care) because he isn’t “married” to him? Do you think that, when they’re being marched to the conversion camps, your lesbian co-worker is going to think “boy, my friends really had my interests at heart?”

aca

20 million newly non-insured people – Once the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare” is rescinded and the Republicans provide exactly nothing to replace it, what do you tell that five-year-old cancer patient who lost their health care because of Trump’s election? What do you tell that Muscular Dystrophy patient that, after finally getting the health insurance necessary to be able to afford their medications and be able to function in their daily life, they no longer will receive insurance? “Well, I’m not paying anymore for them…let them eat cake!”

Pregnant women – Hopefully for those of you who have daughters they don’t make a mistake – or have a pregnancy that is life-threatening – in the future. The reversal of Roe v. Wade has been the goal of the GOP and its Moral Supremacists since the 1970s, that the ability of a woman to make choices regarding her health care should be taken by the federal government because a group of men whose only experience with a vagina is having emerged from one that “they know best.” Get ready for the increase in back-alley abortions performed by charlatans who can’t even enter medical school, let alone be licensed as a physician!

libertarians

Libertarians – So you don’t like “big government?” Well, the entry of an entirely GOP dominated Executive, Legislative and potentially Judicial branch only ensures that there will be laws mandating what you can do in your bedrooms, what you can and can’t say regarding the leaders of the country (Trump himself supports weakening the First Amendment to allow for jailing of opposition and has “jokingly” supported the murder of journalists) and that you must prostrate yourself when you’re in your living room and “The Star-Spangled Banner” comes on.

There’s one truth to the GOP – they are only for small government when it is things that they object to…they’ll enact every law possible to take every right from the people if it is necessary to maintain power (Patriot Act?). So, you don’t like a couple of environmental laws to protect the sand newt? That will be the least of your concerns.

There is a litany of other things, but let’s not give the StormTrumpers any ideas about who to attack next.

americantaliban

The date 11/9 will go down as the last stand of the American Racist. It will also go down as the birthdate of the American Taliban, one that will look to rule by religion rather than logic, that will castigate anything that’s darker than its alabaster melanin and will, when presented with 21st century change and challenges, will return us to an 19th century age when children were fodder for the meat grinders in the slaughterhouses in Chicago, women were a subjugated class that shouldn’t be heard from at best and insignificant at worst and minorities, foreigners and “Muslims”  knew to get their asses out of town – or to their “section” of town – before sundown.

It is also oddly ironic that today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Kristallnacht, or the “Night of Broken Glass,” was the destruction of Jewish properties by both agents of the Nazi Party in Germany and German citizens who believed that the Jewish population was to blame for the demise of their nation in 1938. Over two days of rioting, 1000 Jewish synagogues were burned to the ground and 7000 Jewish businesses were destroyed. The estimate of the number of Jewish people killed was 91, although some historians state the actual count may have been higher. There were also 30,000 Jewish people who were “taken into custody” and sent to the concentration camps. We may not have as much broken glass but, since we’ve elected a fascist, we’d better get used to what they can do once in office.

kristallnacht

Is it possible that this was all just a ploy by Trump to get elected and he’ll magically change once he is inaugurated (I’ve had a supposedly intelligent person say that to me)? No, 70-year old men – and the vapid followers who will be looking for their own piece of meat from the vulture feast – don’t change their spots when presented with great power. They become more entrenched and see what else they can steal before they are told they can’t have any more. We’ve allowed the American Taliban to take over and woe will the nation be in the future.

(And, as a final note, get ready for the upcoming pardon from President Barack Obama to Clinton in one last “kiss my ass” to the American Taliban, because it’s coming.)

obamapardon

Advertisements

As Syria Burns, the World Simply Watches

The Middle East is a powder keg of differing religions, different religious factions and different viewpoints on pretty much everything, including whether the sky is blue or not. Many in the United States and Europe, far removed from the turbulent area, think that it is the issues between the Muslims and the nation of Israel that are the major problems. Far from it…the major problems are between the Muslims themselves.

Much like Christianity in Europe and the U. S., there are different factions when you discuss the Muslim faith. In Christianity, you can be Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist or Protestant…the list is quite lengthy. Each of the sects has their own particular take on the subject of God, Jesus, the Bible and how to worship as a whole. The same can be said for Muslims as well; there are the Sunnis, the Shias, the Kharijte and the Kurds, and each of those sects have their own subdivisions to make it even more confusing. And, much like Christianity in the Middle Ages (and some would argue even today), the Muslim sects fight with each other, albeit between the Muslims it is a legitimate life or death fight, not one of simply words.

The civil war in Syria is a synopsis of the problems in the Middle East. Three different sects, the Sunnis (the Islamic State – call them ISIL, ISIS or IS), the Kurds and the Shias (some from Iran), battling for control of one of the richest supplies of oil in the world, destroying their own lands and people over the past 4½ years to the point that refugees are fleeing from the country while Syrian President Bashar al-Assad plays the role of Nero. The warfare in Syria is of the utmost cruelty:  gas bombs, poison and nerve gases, phosphorous weaponry and a variety of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). These weapons are used most frequently, but the armies of all the combatants can simply walk into a village and execute its male population. As Syria continues to burn, the world has simply watched and, with the refugee situation, it cannot watch much longer.

Since the beginning of 2015, the United Nations estimates that 366,000 refugees have left Syria and Iraq, heading for Europe for a new beginning. There are plenty of problems with this situation. The situation is in the Middle East, but few nations in that area are stepping up to take on some responsibility to help a neighboring country. Nations like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey or even Iran have not even stepped forward to welcome refugees into their countries, content to sit back and watch even further while al-Assad continues to murder his own people and IS continues to destroy the remainder of the country. This refusal to assist in lessening the tragedy leads to desperate people making desperate moves.

Without the ability to remain even close to their own region, many refugees are heading for Europe by any means necessary. Europe – and in particular Germany – have welcoming regulations when it comes to those who are politically oppressed or are leaving war-torn areas, but the issue is getting to Germany or one of these other nations. Over the weekend, the nation of Hungary, which has accepted roughly 130,000 asylum requests (of which roughly 38,000 were Syrian, according to the Wall Street Journal) was the roadblock, holding up thousands of refugees to the point where many Syrians started walking rather than waiting for transportation. The reason for Hungary’s decision to block the refugees? Fears of the refugees being sent back to Hungary once they reach another European Union country and they are not allowed entry (under the rules of the European Union, a member nation can send a refugee back to the last EU nation they went through if they are not allowed asylum).

The problem that Europe is facing regarding the influx of Syrians is twofold. First, the sheer number of incoming refugees means that several nations are going to have to step up and take on an appropriate number of the refugees. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that Germany can handle a certain number of refugees but that, in the future, other countries would have to be willing to allow the refugees into their countries without issue. France is refusing to allow refugees inside its borders, fortifying their defenses with more troops and catching refuges as they try to cross and sending them back to Italy, while Greece (having its own issues since its near default on its financial debt earlier this year with the European Union) hasn’t stepped forward either.

The second issue is a matter of security in the countries where Syrians are headed. Analysts with the Central Intelligence Agency have stated that the potential for terrorists to embed themselves with the true Syrian refugees is quite realistic, even to the point that it is “conceivable” that a terrorist attack could occur in Europe within the next few months from someone that is a part of the Syrian refugee situation. While we would like to think that this isn’t possible, it is a potential reason why the United States hasn’t stepped up further itself other than humanitarian aid in the region and one that has to be in the minds of security officials in the European Union also.

The main thing that many are overlooking is that more could have been done from the start of the conflict. Instead of looking for resolutions, many saw an opportunity to remove a powerful dictator from power (al-Assad is the only leader who survived the “Arab Spring” protests of 2011, watching as Libya, Egypt and other countries saw their leaders toppled). When that dictator stepped over the line in using poison gas on his own people, world governments failed to keep the dictator in check and do anything about it (potentially President Barack Obama’s biggest mistake in his term in the White House) or allowed it to continue through denying it even existed (Vladimir Putin in Russia and Xi Jinping in China catch the blame here). Now we have a situation in Syria that is volatile at the least and a threat to the world’s security at its extreme.

The images on our television screens may seem far away as those Syrians who are looking for a new home, a new opportunity or even a new life traipse across a continent far from their homes, but something should be felt and done for the people who haven’t asked for anything like this to happen to them. The deaths of men, women and children while trying to flee the ravages of war shouldn’t be happening, nor should the villainous charlatans who fleece these people and then leave them to sickness or death in a truck or a cargo hold of a ship (those bastards just need to be executed). We also need to see what we can do as people, even for those who may not think like us religiously or philosophically…the first step to bringing the world together would be to get beyond simple divisions such as skin color or religion and look at each other as we truly are, flesh and blood humans looking for the best for our family’s futures or for the best out of life.

What Does hitchBOT’s Destruction Say about the U. S.?

hitchBOT

It was a story that I had heard about a couple of years ago and thought was pretty cool. Researchers in Canada were building a robot that was incapable of movement but, through usage of linguistic programming and some limited conversation skills, would be able to traverse long distances. How, you might ask? Through the kindness of the human race, which would transport the robot around for nothing. A GPS system would keep track of where it was and, at 20-minute intervals, would snap a photo of its surroundings.

Christened hitchBOT, the robot – a gangly looking creation that still had some charm to it (as you can see in the photo above) – was able to get across the expanse of Canada in 2014, a 3700-mile trip that saw hitchBOT endear itself to the Canadian people. Earlier this year, hitchBOT got much the same reception as it crossed the Netherlands and Germany without as much as a scratch on its metallic frame and no damage to its sensitive computer systems.

So what would happen if hitchBOT attempted to cross the United States? The result is a saddening thought on the human – or perhaps the U. S. – condition as it aims straight at the heart and ignorance of people in the U. S.

Starting in Boston two weeks ago, hitchBOT had slowly been able to work his way down the Eastern Seaboard, taking in a Boston Red Sox game (probably should have headed to Yankee Stadium to see a real team play) and other “events.” The goodwill ended for hitchBOT on Saturday, however, as hitchBOT was found decapitated outside of Philadelphia, its useless arms and legs ripped from its body (the appendages were added to give hitchBOT a more “human” appearance) and the “head” nowhere to be found. From photos of the scene on Sunday, hitchBOT looked no different than the trash that fills the gutters of a major U. S. city.

“Sadly, sadly it’s come to an end,” Frauke Zeller, one of the robot’s co-creators, told the Associated Press after learning of hitchBOT’s demise. Zeller hasn’t committed to rebuilding hitchBOT and taking another shot at the U. S., but it seems that others working on the project are at least open to the idea. In a note on hitchBOT’s website, they say, “Sometimes bad things happen to good robots. We know that many of hitchBOT’s fans will be disappointed, but we want them to be assured that this great experiment is not over.”

The better experiment might be how shitty is the United States that some jackass/es gets their jollies out of the destruction of something they don’t own?

Sure, there are other countries where hitchBOT might not have had a really good time either. Some of the more criminally active areas of South America or Africa probably would have sent hitchBOT back in pieces also. The Middle East would have been difficult, too, but the place is a fucking war zone; humans have trouble getting out of there in one piece literally, mentally and emotionally. But this happened in the United States, where we are supposedly so civilized that we are the GREATEST NATION ON EARTH!!!

There is a brilliant video clip from the HBO show The Newsroom where Jeff Daniels, playing a television anchor, is on a discussion forum at a university. After a coed asks what makes the U. S. the greatest country on Earth, Daniels’ character Will McAvoy rips into her with a three-minute diatribe that says the only things that the U. S. is Number One in is number of persons incarcerated in prison, the number of people who believe angels exist and military spending (all correct, by the way). He then laments that we used to be a country that did good things and for the right reasons, to the utter silence of the auditorium.

(Would have liked to have embedded the video of this clip here, but HBO seems to have stretched their tentacles out and removed that capability. You can find it on YouTube, however.)

We used to be a country where people could depend on each other despite their differences. We used to be a country where you could potentially even work your way across the U. S., doing small jobs to earn some cash before heading onto the next town. Up until probably the 1970s, people freely traversed the continent and seldom met with any issues. Now, we can’t even exit our doorways without a feeling of dread, wary of those we see and willing to destroy anything we don’t understand.

How many of us actually know who our neighbors are? How many would see someone from the subdivision they live in needing some help getting back home from the grocery store and offer a ride? As a nation we’ve cocooned ourselves to the point that we refuse human interaction, settling for a virtual version across smartphones and computers instead of the real thing.

The destruction of hitchBOT is an extension of this malady. When faced with something that we might not understand, we choose not to engage it. Worse yet, someone with a brain the size of a walnut thought it would be better to destroy the robot rather than just let it be. That’s right, U. S. citizens…we let the equivalent of the “flour bag baby” with a microchip die and it didn’t even reach the 30-day mark of the experiment.

I certainly hope that the researchers in Canada make another run at hitchBOT. Maybe hitchBOT II will have some defense mechanisms that will keep it better protected. Then people in the U. S. can stupidly complain about Canada using “militaristic robots” to invade the country.