Suiting up for the fight

It’s been a long couple of weeks here, there…pretty much everywhere. Everywhere I look I see people who look exhausted or shellshocked or wary. They’re beaten by the US election results and unable to look ahead. They’re exhausted thinking of the fight ahead.

Some of us have taken self-imposed breaks from social media. In a world where we all use our social media platforms for different reasons to different audiences–some simply for community interaction, some for self-promotion, some for work–many of us have hit a wall. We can’t deal with any more speculation on what went wrong or what is ahead of us. We can’t deal with assignments of blame. We can’t deal with the rightwing supporters lurking amongst our own family and friends who now feel safe to come out into the light and to glory in the Bully’s win.

But we’re trying to find our way back… we’re trying to find the strength. We’re trying to gear up for the fight ahead. And in so doing, we’re seeing that others on social media are proclaiming, with a slight edge of hysteria, that it’s so important to keep the fight up at all times, from the beginning, every day for the next four years. They urge everyone to understand that they cannot stop the fight or take breaks from it at all.

And they’re probably utterly confused by my anger.

They’re right:  it’s going to be hard keeping up this energy and fighting for four long years. But many of us are very familiar with that very dilemma. For the former, the fight is how to keep the media and public focus on the President-Elect. Their concern is to reduce his affect on the country, to prevent re-election. For me, for too many others, the fight has always been there…it’s just more visible now. Misogyny, sexism, Islamophobia, transphobia, homophobia, anti-intellectualism, right-wing bigotry:  these are not new. They have always been there, and we’ve always been fighting them.

Don’t tell me how important your fight is. The fight has always been important. The change is that now you can see what we’ve been saying all along. All those years, all the decades we’ve spent saying:  this is a problem. Racism was a problem before the recent Presidential election:  it will be a problem after the next one. All the isms, all the bigotries:  they are not new. They will not disappear no matter how vigilant you are. If a different President or a different party is elected in four years time, they will still not disappear. We will still need to be aware, to be vigilant, to fight. You are willing to see one person or his followers or his supporters as the problem:  you haven’t yet figured out that the problems are as insidious, as much a part of the culture as we have always said. We’re not paranoid, we’re not professional victims, we haven’t been imagining problems that don’t exist. The President-elect is not the problem:  he is a part of the problem, a living walking example of the problem.

Don’t ask me to join your fight:  understand that you have joined ours. We’ve been here a long time.


Today’s Helpful Lesson from Social Media: how we’re allowed to react

I need to take a break from social media. I thought I would have nothing to say today but, golly, suddenly got inspired. So I will shout one thing then leave.

Don’t: just DON’T.

Don’t tell us not to be upset. Don’t give us the “Don’t complain; do something!” speeches. Don’t tell us that anger doesn’t accomplish anything. Don’t explain how you’re so able to be rational and calm and so you can tell us how to react when we’re clearly just being emotional.

If you can do all that? Congrats on you man, clearly that’s important to you. But if we want to grieve, if we want to mourn, if our hearts are fucking breaking for what this means for acceptance and equality then we get to be as loud and messy and as emotional as we want.

People identify men as rational and women as emotional. It’s used as control: if women are emotional, they’re told that they’re automatically being irrational. Maybe if men were able to accept that emotions are not automatically negative, that emotions are not character flaws, that women are not just emotional creatures and emotions are not automatically irrational and hysterical, maybe just maybe the world wouldn’t be in this fucking mess.

Go enjoy your rational intellectual discussions and your thoughtful considered plans. Don’t tell me to be silent. Don’t tell me how to behave. This day of all days, don’t tell women how they should behave for your comfort.

Why is Donald Trump doing “so well” Part 2

In the last few years, we’ve watched as GOP controlled states have rolled back abortion access, defunded Planned Parenthood, brought in punitive measures for women who try to access abortion services, threatened healthcare providers for helping women, have brought in Bathroom Laws, have tried to protect the right to persecute people based on their sexual or gender identity… We’ve watched confused as the states have fought to protect gun possession laws no matter how many people are shot on a daily basis in the US. We’ve watched as dozens of schoolchildren were shot dead by assault weapons and yet, lawmakers insisted that the right to bear arms trumped all.
And yet, people keep bleating, “Why is Donald Trump doing so well? It must be because Clinton is such a terrible candidate!”
If Clinton were to promise to outlaw abortion, to promise to deport all illegal immigrants, to promise to ban Muslim refugees, to promise to crush the rights of women and LGBTQ people and other minority identity groups, I can guarantee you she would be doing very well with Donald Trump’s voter base. When she talked about half his supporters being “a basket of deplorables” what she meant was that they are deplorable human beings because they have deplorable beliefs. They’re bigots and very loud and proud to be so.
It’s not a mystery that Trump has 30% support in this election. What you’re actually asking is how someone whose exterior appearance, whose life is as messy and untidy and ugly as his interior beliefs is doing “well”. You’re asking why it isn’t Pence, or Bush, or Romney or any of the other Republicans whose exterior does not visibly demonstrate how ugly they truly are inside.
And thus, you perpetuate the problem. The solution is not to have ugliness disguised by an attractive, neat, discreet exterior appearance and life…the solution is to loudly advocate against all of it. Bigotry is bigotry. You really seem to be asking why you have to acknowledge the bigotry in this election because it’s impossible to avoid. Yet, it’s the same bigotry that was in play in the last two elections. It’s the same bigotry that has been known to all who are women or minority identity groups.
Don’t ask why Trump has the support he has. Don’t find excuses for those who support him. Understand that there are Americans who are very happy with their bigotry, whatever it’s subject. And when they look at their country, when they look at the laws being passed, when they look at what some of their political leaders are saying, they see no reason to change.

Why is Donald Trump doing “so well” Part One

I am sooooooooooooooooooooo tired of the rhetoric that Sanders’ voters were smarter than everyone else and picked him because they know how to research on the internet and they found out All the Things and so picked him. Clinton voters are just voting for her because she’s a woman or because she’s the Democrat. ButTrump voters? Oh, that’s because The System has given them no choice and he’s the only way to express their frustration with The System.

Yes, I’m sure the KKK are really frustrated with The System and he’s their only choice to express that. I’m sure all the homophobes are really frustrated with The System and he’s their only choice to express that. I’m sure all the misogynists, the sexists, the transphobes, the Islamophobes, all of those are so frustrated with The System that they have no choice but to vote for the man who tells them that he’s not part of The System. The System that is supposed to respect the Constitution, Human Rights, the Geneva Convention and more…

Here’s a radical thought: accept that people are supporting Trump because they agree with him. He is not a symbol of their lack of choice but a symbol of their complete and utter choice. In the past they’ve had to content themselves with a Republican Party that used such coded language that they weren’t always sure that the Party is as racist and sexist and misogynist and bigoted as they hoped…now, they know it for an absolute fact.

Many polls have suggested that Trump has the support of half of the Republican Party…and polls have shown that 43% of Republicans to this day believe that Obama is a Muslim who was born in Kenya. Stop giving these people an excuse, stop blaming everyone but the actual people voicing their support for Trump. They haven’t been fooled or conned or trapped by economic despair. They’re angry that being white and male is no longer a guarantee of privilege.

Tire Fires and Clouds of Smoke

Donald Trump is a tire fire, the slow endless version; incredibly dangerous, toxic, polluting the world around him, difficult to deal with, and slowly, perpetually burning. Every day we have new details of the fire but people begin to feel after such a long time that there is no point in reporting on any of it…after years and years, in the end, no matter what new details there are: it’s just the same old thing. So people shrug and ignore it.
Hillary Clinton is not a tire fire. She’s not any kind of fire, and yet people insist they have no idea who she really is because, they insist, she is difficult to see for all the smoke that clouds their vision of her. They nod sagely, where there’s smoke there’s fire.
Tire fires can burn slowly and so long that visually, other than the horrific smell and the slow release of chemicals into the air, all we see is the smoke. But even the most inexperienced person can follow that plume of smoke and point and say, “The fire is there.” With Clinton, everyone explains that they haven’t found the source yet. It’s there; they know it’s there. After all:  smoke. Where does the smoke trace back to? Well, there’s too much smoke for anyone to see clearly.
For decades, the GOP spent millions upon millions of dollars to find the cause of the smoke they smelled around Clinton. They never find the source of the fire or even that there ever was a fire, but they smell smoke…so they look again.

Perfectly intelligent left-wing people post about Clinton and say, “Where there’s smoke there must be fire…” They don’t know what the fire is either. “There’s just something about her,” they muse. “I just know that she’s corrupt,” they justify to all.

A tire fire is a real actual known thing. The details of all the things that are questionable, dubious, spurious, actionable, distasteful about Donald Trump are all actual real facts. They are things that are known, that can be proved. Over and over again, those facts are ignored in favour of questionable, dubious, spurious, actionable, distasteful debate about imagined, posited, speculated opinions about Hillary Clinton.

This US election pits a failed incompetent businessman/reality show star against a qualified competent career politician. And every single day people who loathe and fear the former try desperately to suggest that the latter has a deep dark secret hiding somewhere that will disqualify her. Because they would rather live with a tire fire than that hint of smoke.


There’s a very simple truth here. You do smell smoke:  it surrounds you. As you point out, where there’s smoke there is fire:  the fire of the slow burn of sexism so deep-seated, so ingrained that you don’t see it. Or you pretend you don’t see it. Or you’re not willing to acknowledge it because you know that sexism is wrong. You are a person who has supported equal rights all their life. But the truth is you are standing in the middle of that smoke and that is why you cannot clearly see Clinton.


And that is why Clinton is so confused by the hatred and distrust of her. She sees clearly because there is no smoke in her eyes. Wave your hands…wave the smoke away. And take another look. Stop insisting that your opinion of imagined possibilities is as valid as actual facts.

Appealing to a basket of deplorables…

“You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.” –Hillary Clinton, Sept 9 2016
An interesting and bizarre rhetoric of the US election: Clinton is not completely crushing Trump in the polls because SHE is doing something wrong or blah blah blah. Somehow, magically, it is not that people are actually really truly CHOOSING to express support for him. Sure, we all see the polls that show us how racist people are, we understand how misogynist the country is (the GOP didn’t start trying to crush Planned Parenthood just as a fun hobby), sure we see all the Islamophobia, the homophobia, the transphobia (Bathroom Bills, anyone?). But nope, it’s because Clinton is failing.
Please explain to me how you feel she could better appeal to the bigots? Because Trump’s supporters are bigots. Some are loud and avowed and proud bigots. Some are silent bigots pretending that they’re not because they do understand that there are those who think that bigotry is bad; they don’t want to be labelled as bigots, but by gods, they do NOT want to stop being bigots and have to live in a country overrun by thems heathen Muslims and with some woman pushing the button by accident when she has a hot flash.
But yes, do continue with the rhetoric of how ‘badly’ Clinton is doing by not appealing to those who have intentionally willfully chosen Trump.
If you take a look at one of the biggest sweeps in US history, it was when those on the left fell for the alleged folksy appeal of movie star Ronald Reagan and voted for him in incredible numbers. THAT is when you see huge changes in numbers: when those who lean left think that maybe, just maybe, this guy on the right won’t be completely dangerous. Those on the right ALWAYS think that those on the left will be dangerous; you see a sea-change when they become terrified that the guy on the right is actually too dangerous to let loose on the government. Hence, for all the argument that Clinton is not appealing to the voter base…everyday we see Republicans announcing that they are supporting her over Trump.

If the media tried reporting facts rather than feelings and faux ‘both-side-erisms’ y’all might have a very different take on this election. You might see that Clinton isn’t failing by not appealing to ‘the other side’: it’s that a basket of deplorables isn’t actually ashamed of being deplorable. They’re right where they want to be; champing at the bit, desperate for a shot to be in charge and to wreak damage over those they hate and despite. They’re happy to stand behind the man who says out loud what they are shamed for thinking; he validates their every belief. For Clinton to appeal to them, she too would have to express those beliefs… Clinton isn’t failing by not appealing to them. Clinton is staying the course.

And, for the record, this is how Clinton continued the ‘basket of deplorables’ speech:

“But the other basket — and I know this because I see friends from all over America here — I see friends from Florida and Georgia and South Carolina and Texas — as well as, you know, New York and California — but that other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for change. It doesn’t really even matter where it comes from. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead-end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.”

Necessary medicines and unnecessary trolls

Imagine you have a job where you must have use of a car. Imagine that gas prices suddenly increase to five times the cost. Imagine joining in online conversations complaining about this and wondering aloud if the government can do something to regulate the industry, if anything can be done about it.
Now imagine that those conversations fill with people pointing out that a bicycle is a perfectly valid form of low-cost transport. And that once they have made that statement they will hear no counter. They will not listen to your explanations of how you need substantial space to transport goods, or that you need to travel hundreds of kilometres in a day. No matter what you say they will sneer, “bicycles.”
And that is the conversation about Epi-pens with all the people blithely announcing how cheap syringes and adrenaline are. Ta dah! They have solved the problem. Anyone still complaining about the cost of Epi-pens just wants to whine and complain.
And that is how we know those people don’t actually have need of an Epi-pen or its like…that is how we know that they probably don’t have anyone in their immediate circle who has need of one. Or that they don’t use insulin so they’re unaware of the other story about unexpected increases in the price of medicine. Or that they have no need of any other medicines with incredibly high prices compared to other countries.

This chart reveals the inhumanity of US drug prices compared to other countriesWhen Martin Shrkeli raised the price of his company’s unique AIDS medicine by 5000% the protest was immediate and loud. Although the patient base for the medicine was small (intended for ttreating oxoplasmosis in patients with cancer or HIV ) people understood that there was no other suitable substitute. And the medicine had gone off patent protection which is when you generally have generic versions at much cheaper prices. All in all, people were able to easily see that this was a terrible difficult thing for patients to deal with.

Yet, oddly, now we see a similar situation with Epi-pens and there is a very strong counterreaction already in place. Epi-pens are an efficient substitutes for syringes and adrenalin, which are much lower cost. But there is a reason why Epi-pens were developed and why they (and a few alternate versions) have become so ubiquitous:  they are designed to be used by non-medical personnel, and by people with no training whatsoever. Although people can obviously be trained to use syringes (insulin users, for example), that has been in cases where a person will be using the syringe on a regular basis. Most people with an an extreme anaphylactic allergy reaction can go their entire lives without ever needing the adrenaline. The Epi-pen is an preventative for an extreme emergency. Many other patients may only need to use adrenaline once or twice in their lives. Any training that a person received can be quickly forgot over the years, particularly in the stress of an emergency life-threatening situation. Rather than risk a patient unable to administer their own, or that there is no one around able to deal with it quickly and efficiently, Epi-pens were designed to be opened and jabbed into a thigh with next to no thought or need to read labels, checking of amounts, checking that there is no air in the syringe, thought for where to jab, etc.
It is a not uncommon reaction on the internet for some to offer their advice on a solution to whatever discussion is in place. However, it is not helpful when it is by someone who does not understand the issue. And their insistence that they have found the solution so the conversation is over is not at all useful. If you do not wish to join the conversation about the problem of the incredible increase in the cost of US drugs (and some in Canada, if not to the same level), then walk away…  We promise not to treat you with the same contempt when you are someday personally affected by this problem and suddenly understand its importance.