Sharknado Live, Death Throes of the Dominant Male

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The sharks are circling all around the world. Are these the final death throes of the dominant male? Have most men evolved so much that there are only a few of these critters in existence? Are they fighting against their inevitable extinction? The list is long. We have Kim Jong un in North Korea, Vladimir Putin in Russia, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with ISIS, Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines; all sharks, all circling, all trying to preserve a style of government (male dominated dictatorship) that is becoming increasingly obsolete (and good riddance). Even in America we have Donald Trump who wants to swim with the sharks and has a few dictatorial moves of his own waiting to be implemented right here in the heart of our Democracy.

We have plenty of smaller sharks lurking close to home in the tepid waters of the American Congress, still very much dominated by men, some of them scarily un-evolved, most for some reason lurking around in the GOP. These men have made it clear that they like their women submissive or focused on the next life, waiting for the Rapture. They form all male committees to discuss issues that deeply affect the lives of women and they do not find this the least bit unnatural or sexist.

Are the sharks so nervous at the idea of having a woman as the President of the United States that they feel the need to circle closer and closer trying to unnerve the unlucky first applicant for the position? How long ago did they start working on the various conspiracy theories that they have circulated in order to take big bites out of that first hapless female candidate? Of course, you may argue that the sharks had an easy job of it because the Clintons lived in such a target-rich environment, but at least the Clintons have tried to accomplish good things out in the world, even while they also focused on winning the 2016 election. What have the sharks in suits, who have spent the past 8 years sitting in the US Congress pining for power and whining at the loss of it, done for you lately, or for anyone? They have obstructed, that’s what they have done and it has cost Americans lots of tax dollars and, I’m thinking, a good deal of  potential job growth.

 

Hillary Clinton, Up Against Misogyny, is a Fight Girl

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I am looking forward to having our first Madam President. But there are a few things to say about the explosions of misogyny that have characterized a lot of the media coverage of the 2016 election.  You would expect this to be a normal election even though it could end in a landmark historical moment, but it has been anything but normal. At this point many may put a finger (not that finger) in the air to signify “wait a minute” or “I have just one point” and they would say, “if only that first woman wasn’t Hillary Rodham Clinton”. But it is, and despite all the cries of “fixed elections” and “rigged systems” and email and Benghazi and the Clinton Foundation she has wended her way through our complex and overheated election process to be where she is now, and I would say that she did not use the system in any way that it has not been used by men. Even if you are one of those who argue that the system needs reform, it has not been reformed yet and she has had to understand and compete within our election process as it currently is configured, flaws and all.

Psychologists tell us we all have a fight/flight instinct. We need both because there are times to flee and times to fight. But often one impulse is stronger depending on the individual. Women have fight or flight wiring too. Hillary is a fight girl. She doesn’t knuckle under, not even in her personal life. When women succumb to her husband’s charms she attacks. She is a fight girl. Women understand this and applaud it in movies, in commercials, on the internet, and when Carrie Underwood sings about it. Why do they expect Hillary to hold back when her career could be on the line?

Perhaps women resent a woman so focused on success and career. But women have had enough oppression, conscious and unconscious from men; you would think other women would understand Hillary’s ambitions. Do you think Hillary would be running as the first major party candidate for the Presidency of the United States if she hadn’t been pretty single-minded, and perhaps even a bit ruthless? We still expect women to be nice. We all like “nice” people. But there is some proverbial wisdom about this – “nice guys finish last” – and even though it has the word guys in it, the sentiment is generic. Whenever I get a load of her opponent I am glad that this is a strong woman with a well-developed fight response.

I don’t even know if it was by chance or by design that this first and very prepared woman candidate did not get to trade ideas with a real politician but instead had to take part in the Donald Trump side show, which was on the media day and night because no serious talk was interesting enough to compete. The media even replaced women commentators with men who they believed had more gravitas and could get higher ratings, which of course they did. So the only women we got to listen to were the “expert” journalists and campaign people who joined the round tables, and since someone like Kellyanne Conway pulled in higher ratings than any of the Clinton surrogates or supporters the female voices we heard most often were anti-Hillary. How did it happen that Republican men were able to make Hillary the key “monster” exhibited in the DT side show while the really freaky show stopper got away with being treated as nearly normal?

I heard the media people express some guilt about covering Trump events day after day. It is true that he held big rallies and Hillary tended to favor smaller and less spectacular events which did not qualify as “good TV”. Still the media clearly understood that Trump was using them and saving lots of ad money in the process. I suppose their jobs were on the line. But while Hillary slogged it out in a real political campaign the Trump show assailed us all nonstop. Some may not see any misogyny in this but just the fact that a ridiculous and dangerous man like DT was treated better in the media than the woman who had spent her life learning how to be a political leader suggests otherwise. After the displays men have been putting on lately I can’t wait to have a woman in the White House and as many women in the Congress as we can elect. I hope it happens in 2016. After all, Hillary Clinton is a fight girl.

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Read My Book

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You can read my book in manuscript form. It has its own website because it was too big for this website. I would have liked to have had it published but there is not enough time before the election. It takes a long time to get a publisher to even accept a book for publication.

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This is a nonfiction Constitutional thriller and I hope you will read it at:

http://notabene718.com/

The Republicans Need a Huckster

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If you’re peddling junk, you need a huckster. If you have a rival with a better product you also need a smear campaign. This explains what America has been getting from the Republican Party for the past 6 years at least, and what is on offer in this 2016 election.

Republicans have been desperately trying to recycle old policies that don’t work and that aren’t good for America. Their “clients” are wealthy people who want to make the future-America conform to their idea of the “perfect” society, a society that lets them lead a nouveau aristocratic existence with plenty of grateful peons to do their bidding.

They keep trying to sell “small government”. Small government is not some pure fundamentalist vision for recapturing the original America that our forefathers described in the Constitution. Small government is a way to free up tax dollars that we now use to help the less fortunate among us; tax dollars we spend on welfare, food stamps, school lunches, health care, seniors, education, and many other social welfare programs.

Republicans could then use those “freed up” tax dollars to fund a bigger army, navy and air force, to produce newer nukes, to pay for fossil fuel fracking and pipeline operations. Then the whole wide world would fear America and we would be the most powerful nation in the world in perpetuity.

They would also be able to cut taxes on their wealthy “clients” so that they can turn America into a manufacturing giant once again without pesky environmental rules to make production more expensive, without switching to new energy sources. The money would supposedly trickle down to their factory workers in the salaries they would be paid. Corporations are paying about $2/hr. to workers in Asia and Mexico and elsewhere right now. What will American salaries look like if our factories come back right now? If the head huckster applies so many tax penalties on corporations that they are forced to bring the factories back do you think they won’t come up with ways to get even?

Republicans pretend that they can turn back the clock. They pretend that if there is climate change it is not caused by men and cannot be reversed by men, so, they reason, it is fine to continue pumping fossil fuel waste and CO2 into our atmosphere. We can send those guys back into the coal mines.

Small government means that states will no longer be subject to “helicopter” governing by the Federal government. People can take off those seat belts that have saved so many lives; they can throw out the car seats that keep so many children safe in cars.

States will be able to control education within their boundaries. They can require school prayer, the pledge of allegiance, and that schools teach Creationism. Republicans say they believe that when these things were erased from schools the moral fiber of our nation began to rot, families fell apart, and crime escalated out of control. If we can just get these religious family values back in our schools moral slippage will miraculously be reversed.

The GOP has absolutely convinced many Americans that immigrants who came to this country illegally have stolen their jobs and their tax dollars and have made Americas who were born here or who came legally poorer. Our minds feel righteous anger when anyone has committed a crime. These people “stole” a little piece of America. They sit on that piece illegally and they must pay for their crime.

The problem is that there are 11 million of these folks, or more. The fact is that our immigration system is so unregulated that these people could come here without documentation and stay here and make a life here. It is our fault that our system cannot find a way to stick to both our democratic ideals and check documentation of our citizens and our immigrants to separate those here legally from those here illegally.

It violates the rights of citizens to ask them to carry documents to prove their citizenship and to show those documents at various checkpoints in order to catch those who have no documents. Can you imagine having to show your papers every time you left one state and entered another, or got on an airplane or a train? We see visions of a Nazi state in this. It’s a tough one to solve and walls will not do it.

Republicans constantly smear the Democrats. All may be fair in love and politics, but this time they have turned the Democratic candidate for the Presidency, the first female candidate for the Presidency, into a monster. She has been made the apotheosis of all that is evil. She cheats, she lies, she topples governments, she is (and this is stressed as the worst of all her sins) dishonest and untrustworthy. Not many actual examples of her lack of character have actually been proven, but the whispers are still out there and almost impossible to disprove. And if you say anything often enough people repeat it as if it is true because (circular reasoning) everyone says it.

I could go on and on but I will not even speak about what the Republicans are letting their con man try to sell us about foreign policy and trade agreements and NATO and every other topic that matters to America, however, my point is that the Republicans have not offered us any policies that will be helpful to America over the past six years and they are not offering anything valuable now. Which is why they must smear Hillary Clinton and all Democrats – which is why they had to get a huckster to sell their snake oil to America.

Charlotte Perspectives and Figure Ground Experiments

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Sometimes it is brought home to me so clearly that we really do live in more than one America right now. It is as if we are all looking at one of those old Psych 101 lessons where we are shown a diagram and asked what we see. Maybe it’s the one where you see either the Grecian urns or the profiles of two people. Some people see the “figure” first, some the “ground”. My psychology class never talked about which view was preferable as an indication of mental health, or intelligence, or personality. The demonstration simply shows that we don’t all see the same thing when we look at something as static as a still picture. Obviously this changes even more when we are looking at complex human interactions in the real world.

But if I take my Facebook page as a little microcosm of America, which it is not, because it is only family and old friends, I can see how most of my peers see and interpret the news of the day. Today the situation we see differently is the shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina. These folks that I love with all my heart do not see any other side but the side of the police. They see these black folks as criminals and they honestly believe that the lives of these policemen were in jeopardy. They have no empathy for the dead. They don’t question the actions of the police. Their reverence for our police officers is laudable. Law and order gives us a society that allows people to worry about creating positive outcomes in their personal lives rather than fighting to survive. Here is what I saw on my Facebook page today:

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I look at what happened to Keith Scott in Charlotte and I am filled with grief and I despair that we will ever recover from what I see as our bias and our fear. I know that we have a Second Amendment right to bear guns but I also see how the belief that everyone has a gun changes policing. I worry that there are people who hate black folks and who are also police officers, that they are killing black folks on purpose under cover of their badge. I cannot help but suspect that as soon as one of these bad arrests begins that I will soon hear someone say, loudly and clearly, that the “person of interest” has a gun. The problem is that I do not always believe that the person does have a gun. I think guns are being planted. The only way I will ever know whether this is true or not is if we see unedited video of the entire arrest. How will that ever happen? Maybe a camera in a drone could follow each police car or hover over officers on a beat. I don’t know the answer but we sure need one, because what is happening is awful. It is not one isolated incident. It is happening over and over.

I do not understand how the people I grew up with could watch and hear the video that Mrs. Scott made as her husband, who had done nothing, was being apprehended and then killed and only see this from the point of view of the police officers. I cannot imagine having to stand with a cell phone taping the death of my husband, but that is the thing that Americans of African Descent are being told by their peers to do, to make a video record that can fact check the video accounts that are eventually released by the police. (In the case of North Carolina a law will go into effect on Oct. 1 that will no longer allow the public to see these videos. Why are we spending tax dollars on body cams if the public will never be allowed to see what the camera saw?)

This was just one of the saddest things I have ever seen. This woman had to stay very calm and she had to stay off to the side because if she didn’t she could very well end up dead also. Why don’t my near and dear peeps see this side of things also? Must we blindly admire everything our police officers do in order to deserve their protection? It is a difficult job, but we are not supposed to turn a blind eye to any injustice in a free society. How would we ever be able to recognize and rebuff a police state if all we are allowed to feel is total admiration, to never be critical? We know very well that all policemen and policewomen are not perfect. We know there is always the possibility of corruption and cynicism in people who associate so closely with desperate or bad people. A free society requires that we speak up when things do not seem right.

People who are shown figure-ground experiments and who subsequently are able to see both images are never again fooled by that particular stimulus. If people don’t see both sides of this issue it is, apparently, a sign that we live too much in our own bubbles; that we have come to see black folks as others (and perhaps they see us as others also). These terrible injustices could not happen over and over again if there was not still racism at work in 21st century America. Separation may be responsible. So are our perspectives.

Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst – Book

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Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurst is a modern story, a story of today’s America and beyond. The Hammonds fall in love and marry and have a child. They name her Matilda Grace (Tillie). As time goes by, as their child grows older, they realize her brain may be wired differently (my words). She is a very bright child, but she has obsessions. Right now she is obsessed with massive monuments like that Buddha that was destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan. She is also fascinated with inappropriate language, swear words. This may or may not be Tourette’s syndrome, but it sounds more willful than automatic. She has serious meltdowns over situations that seem small, insignificant, and unpredictable. No school has been able to keep her for long in spite of mainstreaming laws.

Iris Victoria, the second child, born two years after Tillie, does not have any of these issues but, of course, Tillie’s eccentricities affect Iris’s life in many ways. Family members take turns being the narrator of this story but often Iris is giving the running commentary of these key moments in the Hammond’s life when they follow Scott Bean, a seeming visionary in the treatment of children who don’t fit within the parameters of acceptable behavior in their neighborhoods or their schools. Josh and Alexandra love both of their daughters. They wend their way through modern theories which blame problems like autism or Asperger’s on things like junk food, or pollution. Alexandra says about her pregnancy, “You’ll struggle to remember details that seemed inconsequential at the time: Did you drink tap water? Did you eat any fish that might have contained high levels of mercury?”

Alexandra tells a tale that is familiar to every parent with a “special” child. She and her husband consult doctors. They consult the internet. They get an alphabet soup of diagnoses. They talk to other parents. They talk to schools every time Tillie does something a bit too violent to tolerate. They do not know what school they will enroll her in next. That is when Alexandra sees one of those flyers with the tear off telephone numbers on the bottom posted by a man named Scott Bean who seems to have insights into how to help these children. She checks him out on the internet and he seems quite legitimate. Finally the family buys into a camp that Bean is setting up for families whose children seem to be modern medical mysteries. He calls the place Camp Harmony.

This is a novel, but it straddles a line somewhere between fiction and nonfiction. Any family who has been through trying to raise a child who does not conform to the developmental expectations of our culture will probably recognize the trajectory of the Hammond’s experiences. They will nod in affirmation at the discussions of possible environmental factors that could be causing these “disorders” to occur more frequently. They will feel quite familiar with the emotional stages these parents go through, with their quest to find a “treatment” that will give their child more positive experiences out in the world. They will try medicines hoping to find one that brings their child’s behavior back within the parameters of normalcy. Will they try something as desperate as the Hammonds who sell everything and move to Camp Harmony? How did that work out anyway? Well, of course, that I cannot tell you. Carolyn Parkhurst”s novel, Harmony, for me, does not make the cut as literature, but as a cautionary tale to folks in modern societies who find themselves in a similar situation it is well done.

The Deplorables, the Republicans, and the Media

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The Deplorables, The Republicans and the Media

I will eventually get to the “deplorables” but you must be patient while I make all the connections I need to make in order to make my points believable. Bear with me while I fill in the backstory. Even though it sounds overly familiar, follow along with it one more time. Recent events have their roots in the past, as is usually true with all human endeavors.

Strange Bedfellow Reprise

I once painted a word picture of a bed full of strange bedfellows with the hardworking average Americans on one side of the bed with their corporate bosses who either still employ them or who have abandoned them on the other side and as the pillow that separates these two normally adversarial groups is the Republican Party.

Nestled in with those hardworking average Americans are some right wing fringe groups of Americans, the militia folks who turned out to start a war over Cliven Bundy, and yes the haters, the misogynists, the xenophobes, the homophobes, the anti-Semitics, the racists, those who never accepted that the Confederacy lost the Civil War, and even perhaps downright fascists and neo-Nazis. I made it seem to be mystifying that these folks were in the same bed but it really isn’t all that surprising.

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Republican Media and the Strange Bedfellows

The ideological glue that holds these people so unnaturally together is what the GOP has been sending out over the radio waves (the radio!) in those Talk Radio shows of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin, and others for more than a decade. Republicans certainly knew their audience. They did not aim for Big Business, they colluded with Big Business. Their party was dwindling in influence and size. They needed voters. So the GOP through their media began saying the things that they knew would resonate with truckers on long distance trips, displaced workers tuning-in in garages or in their cars.

They began to say that America was being ruined, that America was being downgraded to a second-rate nation; that our leaders were knuckling under to China and at the mercy of Islamic terrorists. They took little or no responsibility for our factories relocating to the East. They took no responsibility for helping to pass laws that took away penalties, or at least did not levy penalties on companies who took their factories elsewhere where there was cheaper labor and lot of fresh consumers.

They blamed the Democrats for trade deals and high taxes and too many regulations, for being in cahoots with demanding labor unions, and for environmental regulations, although many of these measures had appealed to our officials on both sides of the aisle. They seduced their listeners by speaking back to them the things that they said when they gathered together. For the most part this was guy stuff, although now husbands have brought their wives along with them and many single women who lost employment have also joined the movement.

Once Fox News went on TV and said in living color, in a format that looked exactly like news (but wasn’t) what the Talk Radio people had been whispering in American ears in black and white, the GOP realized that they had hit on a formula that could well put them back in the White House. When they added in the Patriot talk, the veneration of the flag, and took to the airwaves as the sole protectors of our veterans American was theirs, at least the white, immigrated in the 19th century, bunch.

I watched them grow their influence and it did look like the waves of grain that symbolize the American heartland (another word they latched onto with everyone sending each other little hearts on Facebook.) They hypnotized America, they brainwashed America and they turned workers who had no work into pod people. They occupied their brains and promised them exactly what they wanted. They said they would get their jobs back and they made sure that everyone could own a gun just in case they could no longer trust their government.

That is how people who did not wear suits ended up in that bed with all the suits.

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How Republican Media called out to the Deplorables

The Republican Party has been using their own media to demonize Democrats. Media once tried to go for a balanced approach that sort of gave credence to the policies advocated by either side. The Republicans created a deliberately partisan media that spouted anti-Democrat messaging 24 hours a day. It is probably why the new idiom “24/7” was invented.

The GOP made the Democratic Party the party of immigrants so they could blame job loss on immigrants, especially immigrants who did not enter America through legal channels. They told workers who had to take jobs that paid far less than their old jobs that their tax dollars were being given to these illegal immigrants. Their tax dollars were being given to people who had never held a job or never would, and they painted those people’s skins as black. That is how they fed into and strengthened an image of the freeloading “other” that already existed.

Too bad the intelligence we have about terrorists is not as good as the intelligence the Republicans have about the American middle class. Of course the Republicans are the party that created the NSA with the Patriot Acts. When a black man became our President that was truly serendipity. Implying that he was not a true American, that he was not a Christian, that he belonged to a church that spewed hate about white folks in America – bonanza!

Are all of the white Americans who have been wooed and won by nonstop propaganda deplorable? I don’t think so. Are there deplorable individuals who climbed aboard the GOP train because the rhetoric resonated with their own narrow-minded beliefs? Absolutely. Are there quite of few of them? Sadly it seems that there might be. Do people who are not deplorable hold to some deplorable ideas? I would have to say that that is true.

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Is the tribalism that defines the American social landscape deplorable? Will it lead us to anything positive if we are at each other’s throats? Can you make a better future when people are so invested in their own mindset that they want to lash out at anyone who thinks differently? Will dividing America into tribes who defend their territory, separating us all with hate and bile, eventually produce an America that links arms and unites to produce a more peaceful world in which we all can live? How can dividing into separate camps ever lead to unity, tolerance, and the creative spirit we need to meet the challenges of our tiny planet hurtling through space.

The Republicans have exploited our differences and exaggerated our differences in order to gin up votes because they want, they desire, they must control all three branches of our government. They must truly believe that they can restore America to a former glory that has never really been lost. Although we may be in a down cycle right now and recent developments abroad have given us more competition we are still a great nation and a world leader.

The Republicans profess their policies in almost biblical tones. They are trained to repeat talking points, to talk over their opponents, to obliterate foes with data even if the data is made up. They must think that “trickle-down economics” and cutting taxes and getting rid of regulations on business and investment, privatizing everything and building our military while cutting the size of federal government, that all of these strategies are the Holy Grail to reproducing the America that used to be so powerful and so productive.

But the GOP did not trust the American people to understand how successful their policies might be because so many of us do not agree that these policies will improve America. They still had to use propaganda to win. If you have right on your side why would you create this whole matrix of mesmerizing mind games?

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Will Donald Trump and his band of Deplorables Make America Great Again?

Now the GOP is the party of Donald Trump who is the pied piper of the “deplorables”, regardless of how shocked the Republicans act about what Hillary said. In the future qualities like xenophobia, racism, and misogyny will not help us create the global society, which is evolving whether we like it or not. These feelings are backward and really don’t belong in a nation that espouses equality. They will only produce a more primitive American, not a futuristic America. The fact that these people have found a home in the Republican Party with Donald Trump at its helm is the best reason of all to elect Democrats in 2016. We need to fight these feelings in ourselves not give them free rein.