Saturday, December 3, 2016

Tony the Tiger vs Shere Khan, Letter #17


12/3/16

Dear Assailant-in-Chief,

As promised, I dropped off a bunch of Kellogg's cereal at a Muslim food pantry this morning. ("We're already grrrrrreat!")  The people there were very nice, and we had a long conversation about the state of things.  As so often happens, those whom your fan base think should be pushed to the margins of American life because of their birth, circumstances, or beliefs...or out the door altogether...have a lively and passionate love of this country and their community.  One I find much more real than your rants about an "America" that is unrecognizable to me, so full is it of despair papered over with meanness.

For some reason I keep thinking of The Jungle Book.  Not the Disney movie, because I never liked it much, but the Rudyard Kipling original.  You may remember that in the very first story, "Mowgli's Brothers," when Mowgli is first adopted by the wolf pack who call themselves the Free People, Shere Khan the tiger demands that Mowgli be turned over...for his dinner.  He is thwarted by Bagheera who buys Mowgli's life with a bull, but naturally Shere Khan does not give up.  He flatters the younger wolves...feeds them his scraps...and slowly stokes their resentment and hatred of the adopted "man cub" in their midst. He leads them in a plot to unseat the pack leader, Akela, then demands that Mowgli be turned over to him once more:

“A man! A man! What has a man to do with us? Let him go to his own place.” 
“And turn all the people of the villages against us?” clamored Shere Khan. “No, give him to me. He is a man, and none of us can look him between the eyes.”
Akela lifted his head again and said, “He has eaten our food. He has slept with us. He has driven game for us. He has broken no word of the Law of the Jungle.”
“Also, I paid for him with a bull when he was accepted. The worth of a bull is little, but Bagheera’s honor is something that he will perhaps fight for,” said Bagheera in his gentlest voice.
“A bull paid ten years ago!” the Pack snarled. “What do we care for bones ten years old?”
“Or for a pledge?” said Bagheera, his white teeth bared under his lip. “Well are ye called the Free People!”
That is how all this flag-waving talk of "freedom" sounds to me in the mouth of certain people.  What do they care for a debt of blood paid two hundred and forty years ago, or a Constitution two hundred and twenty-six years old?  Why should they allow our democratic institutions, traditional rights, or for that matter common decency, constrain their actions?  Well are they called the Free People.

I can't say that I know who the tiger in this scenario actually is.  But he came to a bad end.

Yours sincerely,

Sara Amis
Citizen of these United States of America


From Dorine Jennette:

PLEASE JOIN ME IN WRITING THE ASSAILANT-IN-CHIEF
Please join me in bombarding the Assailant-in-Chief with letters: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact. I will write to him every day through his first 100 days in office, maybe longer if momentum holds. I am asking others to write just ONE letter. Let's not just vent our grief to each other--let's speak truth to power together. Please WRITE and please SHARE this plan with your friends. Pass it on!
You do not need to be a woman or an assault survivor to address the Assailant-in-Chief as such. If you are a man who has a daughter, a sister, a wife, a woman colleague or friend you respect, or a mother (hint: that last one is all of you!), then you have something to say to the Assailant-in-Chief. Your letter might be a brief one-liner. That's great! Please send it! Women need our allies now. Here's the link to DJT's contact page--this might take you one minute or less! https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact
Or, maybe you will start a related project addressing any one of the many groups Trump has already harmed . . .
As we talk with each other, let's break the bubble and also send our complaints straight to the source. He won't read them and won't care if he does, so probably this is a placeholder action while we figure out what we're really going to do . . . but it's something.

Dorine's posts can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/dorine.jennette

PS from Sara:  I've taken to just tweeting these at him.  He's not going to read them anyway, but I might as well use the platform that he actually responds to.  *snort*

Friday, December 2, 2016

Pop Tart Politics, Letter #16


12/2/16

Dear Assailant-in-Chief,

Your Minister of Propaganda's alt-Reich buddies seem to be in a bit of a tizzy.  It seems Kellogg's along with a few other companies took a closer look at what Brietbart publishes and decided that their content did not align with company values, since Kellogg's values include over-sugared breakfast treats and don't include ragey tirades against women, black people, education, goodness, and puppies.  By upholding those values, they are in agreement with the majority of America.  Except you, I guess.  And your appointees.

Predictably, Brietbart and their fans...reacted.  I would say they lost their minds, but you can't lose what you never had to begin with. There's a boycott.  There's a hashtag and stuff.  They are gleefully claiming victory in that Kellogg stocks have dropped infinitesimally, ignoring the fact that Kellogg stock has been dropping for the last four and a half months from a high of $86.98 and none of that has anything to do with a bunch of hashtag heroes. But then, logic. "#DumpKelloggs" has worked about as well as the Hamilton boycott and that embarrassing Starbucks thing. Turns out that when people who think all liberals are stupid try to copy nonviolent resistance strategies like boycotting, they tend to screw it up.

I called Kellogg's up to congratulate them on their courageous display of normal human decency, and it appears that they are getting a lot of calls like that.  I also told them I was planning to go buy a bunch of their products and donate them to a food bank.  After I hung up the phone I started researching food banks, hoping to find one closer to me than the big Atlanta Community Food Bank downtown.  It turns out there's one right down the street...run by Muslims.

So in a little while I am going to go out and buy a bunch of hate-rejecting Pop Tarts and Frosted Mini-Wheats, and donate them to a Muslim charity.  I'll be sure to post some photos, just to rub it in. I'm interested to see who your fan-base decides to ineffectually tilt at next.

Yours sincerely,

Sara Amis
Citizen of these United States of America


From Dorine Jennette:

PLEASE JOIN ME IN WRITING THE ASSAILANT-IN-CHIEF
Please join me in bombarding the Assailant-in-Chief with letters: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact. I will write to him every day through his first 100 days in office, maybe longer if momentum holds. I am asking others to write just ONE letter. Let's not just vent our grief to each other--let's speak truth to power together. Please WRITE and please SHARE this plan with your friends. Pass it on!
You do not need to be a woman or an assault survivor to address the Assailant-in-Chief as such. If you are a man who has a daughter, a sister, a wife, a woman colleague or friend you respect, or a mother (hint: that last one is all of you!), then you have something to say to the Assailant-in-Chief. Your letter might be a brief one-liner. That's great! Please send it! Women need our allies now. Here's the link to DJT's contact page--this might take you one minute or less! https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact
Or, maybe you will start a related project addressing any one of the many groups Trump has already harmed . . .
As we talk with each other, let's break the bubble and also send our complaints straight to the source. He won't read them and won't care if he does, so probably this is a placeholder action while we figure out what we're really going to do . . . but it's something.

Dorine's posts can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/dorine.jennette

PS from Sara:  I've taken to just tweeting these at him.  He's not going to read them anyway, but I might as well use the platform that he actually responds to.  *snort*

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Dear Assailant-in-Chief, Letter #15


12/1/16

Dear Assailant-in-Chief,

Sarah Palin????? For the...Why??? You know...maybe you could pick someone who has actually ever served.  That Flynn guy.  The one who thinks Muslims are scary.  Or do I have him confused with someone else?  It's so hard to distinguish among all the varietals of crazy in your wine cellar/fallout shelter.

Put Sarah Palin in charge of looking at Russia.  The FBI doesn't seem to be doing it. They are too busy having séances with the ghost of J. Edgar Hoover.

Yours sincerely,

Sara Amis
Citizen of these United States of America


From Dorine Jennette:

PLEASE JOIN ME IN WRITING THE ASSAILANT-IN-CHIEF
Please join me in bombarding the Assailant-in-Chief with letters: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact. I will write to him every day through his first 100 days in office, maybe longer if momentum holds. I am asking others to write just ONE letter. Let's not just vent our grief to each other--let's speak truth to power together. Please WRITE and please SHARE this plan with your friends. Pass it on!
You do not need to be a woman or an assault survivor to address the Assailant-in-Chief as such. If you are a man who has a daughter, a sister, a wife, a woman colleague or friend you respect, or a mother (hint: that last one is all of you!), then you have something to say to the Assailant-in-Chief. Your letter might be a brief one-liner. That's great! Please send it! Women need our allies now. Here's the link to DJT's contact page--this might take you one minute or less! https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact
Or, maybe you will start a related project addressing any one of the many groups Trump has already harmed . . .
As we talk with each other, let's break the bubble and also send our complaints straight to the source. He won't read them and won't care if he does, so probably this is a placeholder action while we figure out what we're really going to do . . . but it's something.

Dorine's posts can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/dorine.jennette

PS from Sara:  I've taken to just tweeting these at him.  He's not going to read them anyway, but I might as well use the platform that he actually responds to.  *snort*

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Dear Assailant-in-Chief, Letter #14


11/30/16

Dear Assailant-in-Chief,


I was a little mean in that last letter.  I won't guarantee that I won't do it again, because having my civil rights threatened, my country looted, and the Constitution disdained all makes me a bit cranky.

However, lest anyone think I'm just rooting for you to fail miserably so that Democrats can swoop in and save the day like FDR on a white charger (recalling what happened the last time Republicans had all the marbles)...here's some straight-up, honest advice:
  • Romney is all right.  I don't agree with him, but he's competent and seems like a decent enough person.
  • DeVos has no idea what she's doing.That could be said of many people you are offering jobs to, but education is my wheelhouse.
  • Mnuchin does know what he's doing, but all of it is bad.  He is another economic meltdown waiting to happen. This isn't just how you wind up with another Great Recession; this is how you wind up with the populace sharpening up their guillotines. Don't do it.
  • Likewise, that victory lap you want to take?  Don't.  Governing is very different from campaigning, as you are discovering. Also, Americans traditionally hate our government and believe any yahoo could do better...that's why you ran for President, yes?  Except now you ARE in the government and now get to be in the hot seat. That's what you asked for. Don't run away.

Yours sincerely,

Sara Amis
Citizen of these United States of America


From Dorine Jennette:

PLEASE JOIN ME IN WRITING THE ASSAILANT-IN-CHIEF
Please join me in bombarding the Assailant-in-Chief with letters: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact. I will write to him every day through his first 100 days in office, maybe longer if momentum holds. I am asking others to write just ONE letter. Let's not just vent our grief to each other--let's speak truth to power together. Please WRITE and please SHARE this plan with your friends. Pass it on!
You do not need to be a woman or an assault survivor to address the Assailant-in-Chief as such. If you are a man who has a daughter, a sister, a wife, a woman colleague or friend you respect, or a mother (hint: that last one is all of you!), then you have something to say to the Assailant-in-Chief. Your letter might be a brief one-liner. That's great! Please send it! Women need our allies now. Here's the link to DJT's contact page--this might take you one minute or less! https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact
Or, maybe you will start a related project addressing any one of the many groups Trump has already harmed . . .
As we talk with each other, let's break the bubble and also send our complaints straight to the source. He won't read them and won't care if he does, so probably this is a placeholder action while we figure out what we're really going to do . . . but it's something.

Dorine's posts can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/dorine.jennette

PS from Sara:  I've taken to just tweeting these at him.  He's not going to read them anyway, but I might as well use the platform that he actually responds to.  *snort*

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Liars, Traitors, Cheats, and Thieves: Dear Assailant-in-Chief, Letter #13


11/29/16

Dear Assailant-in-Chief,


Elliot Lusztig was talking about Hannah Arendt's The Origin of Totalitarianism and its applicability to you and yours. Specifically, that fact-checking you is useless because you aren't dealing in facts; you are framing the narrative for what you want to do next.  The Nazis knew the Jews weren't to blame for Germany losing World War I, they were just ginning up a reason to murder them.  Likewise, you know millions of people didn't vote illegally in the election. You're just ginning up a reason to suppress the vote. As Lusztig says, "What Trump is saying is not that 3m illegals voted. What he's saying is: I'm going to steal the voting rights of millions of Americans."

But why would you do that?  The answer is the same reason Jim Crow laws were passed, the same reason Republicans want voter ID laws and are against early voting but for closing polling places.  You know you will lose if everyone who is eligible to vote actually does, so you machinate to take their voting rights away.  You can't win any other way, so you cheat. You...along with every Republican colluding with you...are a liar, and a cheat, and a thief who wants to steal democracy itself.

I cannot imagine anything more deeply un-American. To wave the flag and conspire to undermine the Constitution is more than hypocrisy; it's a kind of idolatry in the worst possible sense.  The symbol is nothing; the thing itself, the country, America, the Republic, that is everything. America isn't a flag.  America is us.

Yours sincerely,

Sara Amis
Citizen of these United States of America


From Dorine Jennette:

PLEASE JOIN ME IN WRITING THE ASSAILANT-IN-CHIEF
Please join me in bombarding the Assailant-in-Chief with letters: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact. I will write to him every day through his first 100 days in office, maybe longer if momentum holds. I am asking others to write just ONE letter. Let's not just vent our grief to each other--let's speak truth to power together. Please WRITE and please SHARE this plan with your friends. Pass it on!
You do not need to be a woman or an assault survivor to address the Assailant-in-Chief as such. If you are a man who has a daughter, a sister, a wife, a woman colleague or friend you respect, or a mother (hint: that last one is all of you!), then you have something to say to the Assailant-in-Chief. Your letter might be a brief one-liner. That's great! Please send it! Women need our allies now. Here's the link to DJT's contact page--this might take you one minute or less! https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact
Or, maybe you will start a related project addressing any one of the many groups Trump has already harmed . . .
As we talk with each other, let's break the bubble and also send our complaints straight to the source. He won't read them and won't care if he does, so probably this is a placeholder action while we figure out what we're really going to do . . . but it's something.

Dorine's posts can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/dorine.jennette

PS from Sara:  I've taken to just tweeting these at him.  He's not going to read them anyway, but I might as well use the platform that he actually responds to.  *snort*

Monday, November 28, 2016

D is for Defiance: Dear Assailant-in-Chief, Letter #12


11/28/16

Dear Assailant-in-Chief,

 Today is a study in contrasts.  There's a nasty creature, one of your fans, who has spent years harassing and intimidating local politicians in his best (not very competent) Brietbart/O'Keefe style...deceptively edited videos, belligerance, outright lies.  He tried to pick a fight with me online.  I called him out, stood my ground, and he scurried away like a cockroach when you turn the light on. 

And then my friendly acquaintance Catherynne Valente wrote this story, a fairy tale about politics (what else are fairy tales about?) and deception, and despair, and defiance. 

I say No.  No to your corruption, your bluster, your lies, your callous disregard for the Constitution, your tacit encouragement of bullies, your poisoned sweets.  And Yes, yes to my friends, yes to my glorious diverse and joyful American community, yes to freedom and music and poetry and love, yes to stories, yes to truth.  Yes to the Republic, as it should be.  Yes to every item on the Bill of Rights, but especially the First.  I defy you or anyone who tries to encroach upon it.  I am full of defiance, and I am turning on the light.

Yours sincerely,

Sara Amis
Citizen of these United States of America


From Dorine Jennette:

PLEASE JOIN ME IN WRITING THE ASSAILANT-IN-CHIEF
Please join me in bombarding the Assailant-in-Chief with letters: https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact. I will write to him every day through his first 100 days in office, maybe longer if momentum holds. I am asking others to write just ONE letter. Let's not just vent our grief to each other--let's speak truth to power together. Please WRITE and please SHARE this plan with your friends. Pass it on!
You do not need to be a woman or an assault survivor to address the Assailant-in-Chief as such. If you are a man who has a daughter, a sister, a wife, a woman colleague or friend you respect, or a mother (hint: that last one is all of you!), then you have something to say to the Assailant-in-Chief. Your letter might be a brief one-liner. That's great! Please send it! Women need our allies now. Here's the link to DJT's contact page--this might take you one minute or less! https://www.donaldjtrump.com/contact
Or, maybe you will start a related project addressing any one of the many groups Trump has already harmed . . .
As we talk with each other, let's break the bubble and also send our complaints straight to the source. He won't read them and won't care if he does, so probably this is a placeholder action while we figure out what we're really going to do . . . but it's something.

Dorine's posts can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/dorine.jennette

PS from Sara:  I've taken to just tweeting these at him.  He's not going to read them anyway, but I might as well use the platform that he actually responds to.  *snort*

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Blue Staters in Trumpland: A Survival Guide

Back in May of this year, Kyle Whitmire over at AL.com wrote a column about "the Alabamification of America."  He described the state of affairs in Alabama thusly:  "Our governor is under investigation. Our House speaker is under indictment. Our chief justice is suspended from duty and awaiting trial, again. We're one of the poorest states in the country, living off the federal dole, and we sit at or near the bottom of most empirical rankings of quality of life. Our leadership is non-existent and our government is on the brink of collapse."  This is, I wish to note, what happens when you let crazy take the wheel of governance.  And it is not a solely Republican phenomenon...I do live in DeKalb County, Georgia...but since Republicans have been riding the fact-free crazy train for years now, and have currently reached what I dearly hope is the apotheosis of same, we are going to talk about that for a little bit.

He went on to warn, "don't think for a minute that you're better than us. Donald Trump is the Republican presumptive presidential nominee, and you put him there. You're closer to Alabama than you care to think."

And so here we are. 

Many of us are wondering what the hell just happened, and feeling a combination of disbelief and betrayal by our fellow citizens that is, alas, somewhat familiar.  I felt that way in 2000, when "F for Fiasco, L for Lord help us" Florida happened. However, if anything 2004 was worse.  Not only did the country re-elect George W. Bush, thus removing any brake on the trainwreck-on-fire economic collapse that was already barrelling down the tracks, but the Georgia legislature put a same-sex marriage ban on the ballot.  That drew the haters out in droves.  Democrats lost twenty-five seats overnight and their previous majority in the state House of Representatives; the governorship and both houses in the state legislature have been held by Republicans ever since. That means twelve years of, as Whitmire puts it, "stuck on stupid." Though I would argue that Georgia has avoided some of the excesses of foolishness exhibited by some of our neighbor states.  Some of that is because we have Atlanta, which is the largest city in the Southeast, and a loud and boisterous liberal minority.  That last part is important...especially since, nationally, liberals are NOT the minority but the majority.  In other words...things are pretty bad.  But this fight isn't over.  It is just beginning.

So, my left-leaning friends in Democratic majority states who are contemplating the appalling prospect of a Republican Congress being the only thing between them and Donald Trump's apocalyptic notions of Presidency, including his hair-raising policy proposals, I have a few words of advice that will help you get through the next four years, especially the next two:

  • First, you CANNOT lose your mind over every reckless, hare-brained, bigotry-codified-into-law idea that they float as possibilities.  That well is inexhaustible, but you are not, and most of it won't go anywhere.  That is because they are throwing red meat to the seething tank full of piranha who are their base, to keep them interested. They propose laws to make English the official language, or to outlaw hijab, so they can go back to their constituents and say "I TRIED but you know how politics goes..."  If they don't, they are subject to primary challenges by Republicans even crazier than they are. This is why even moderates will do a little two-step with the Devil every so often. 
  • However, it IS worth your while to oppose all of it, by letting your opinions be heard loud and clear.  Because...
  • The more sensible among them realize that if they let too much crazy through the gate, the public will recoil and they will get creamed like an eclair in the next general election. This is what happened to Pat McCrory in North Carolina, for all that he's fighting it like mad.  The consequences did not, alas, extend to their legislature.  Being vocally opposed to ALL of the stupid helps drive home the message there.  I am just saying you don't need to pull the fire alarm every single time...since wearing you out is part of the strategy, too. 
  •  They also, after beating the drum of "government is bad" and being the party of obstructionism for so long, now have to actually govern.  If they don't, they own the screw-up.  And while their base will just rationalize that away, they know many of us...especially those swing voters they need to stay in office...will not.  Here in Georgia that means some surprisingly practical and useful things have emerged from the legislature, alongside all the voter ID laws and abortion bans. 
  • They must therefore thread a careful path between the Scylla of their own base and the Charybdis of the rest of us.  Your job is to make sure the latter part of that double threat has some real teeth to it. 
  • You do this by learning the best way to apply pressure, to whom, and when.  Let your own representatives know how you feel, reward them for standing up to stupid, and call them out when they don't...that's important.  Politics is about horse-trading, and you want to make sure that your legislators (who WILL need Republican support to get anything done) are not tempted to cave on anything you find important.  Nobody wants to go out on a limb that won't hold their weight. 
  • Some Democrats will sell us out.  That 2004 ballot measure I mentioned above was passed because of a handful of quisling bigots with a D beside their names.  It needs to be clear that if a Democrat in Congress does something like that, a primary challenger will appear.  Be ready, which means getting involved. 
  • Beyond that, find out who the gatekeepers are.  That means learning what legislation goes through which committees.  Either call up Democratic members of those committees and/or the chair (who will determine whether a committee even votes on a bill).  Because the Republicans hold the majority, those seats will all be held by Republicans. In most cases they will be pretty secure in their seats, but...not necessarily.  Depending on where they are from, you may have some leverage, especially with Republican senators from liberal-leaning states. If you are a constituent in one of those states, be all up in their business, all the time.  Have them on speed dial.  You are their new best frenemy. 
  • Figure out whose seats may be vulnerable in 2018 and, if they are anywhere near you, start helping the effort to unseat them now
  • Help the ones who aren't near you, too, if you can.  I can tell you right now that some of these supposedly "red" states are shifting under the Republicans' feet; I live in one of them.  Six counties went for Hillary Clinton that were held by Romney in 2012.  Three of them were in Georgia.  In the same way that supposedly Democratic strongholds proved to be volatile in 2016, lots of supposed Republican strongholds are not so solid going into 2018 and 2020.  If you have a little extra dough, Cobb, Gwinnett, and Henry County Democrats could put it to good use.  
  • Encourage your state and city governments to push back against the stupid as well.  The city of Clarkston, Georgia recently decriminalized marijuana, and several municipalities around the state offer non-discrimination ordinances for LGBT residents. Even when those measures seem like gestures of defiance, that is worth something in and of itself.   Because...

    • The overall principle here is that behavior that has a political reward will be repeated, and behavior with a political cost will not be.  There are powerful forces rewarding certain kinds of nastiness and stupidity; we need to be a counter-weight providing an equally powerful pull in the other direction.  We have the advantage in that we actually ARE in the majority, and the left is motivated right now in a way we haven't been for a pretty long time...maybe not in decades.  That provides an opportunity to break the stale-mate we have been in for a while.  What we do with it remains to be seen.   

    Be kind to each other.  Take care of each other.  The biggest thing we need to do, if you ask me, is to show that all of that "stronger together" stuff isn't just a slogan; that there is a vision of American society as a community made up of many different people from diverse backgrounds who actually do care about each other and the country as a whole which is far more compelling than the poisonous daydream being sold by Trump. We need to live it.   There are quite a few people who are about to have a rude awakening, when they figure out just how badly they have been lied to.  That is going to be one hell of a hangover and we need to be kind to them as well, while still standing up for the values I just described, and the value of every American. 

    An observation I have made before is that conservatives seem to love "America" the abstraction, while we love Americans.  America is us.