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Good Monday, Widdershins. I hope you had a good International Women’s Day. I saw quite a few women wearing red at my client site last week in honor of “A Day without a Woman.” It was inspirational. I think there are several more actions planned from the organizers of the Women’s March, so stay tuned!

Now to the title of my post. This comes from some research I’ve been doing on the human brain, and the way it works to keep us alive and protect us from threats. This won’t be a super-science-y piece – more of a meditation on the state our country is in, and how it’s possible for sub-human cretins like Drumpf, Bannon and their minions to win even one vote, much less 60-odd million.

As I’m sure many of you know better than I, there are older, more primitive parts of our brains that only exist to make sure we quickly and instinctively respond to threats. From an evolutionary perspective, these parts of the brains are extremely important. They initiate the “fight or flight” response, which actually also includes a “freeze” as well, giving us microseconds to decide either to go to war, or to retreat.

After millions of years of evolution, we actually developed the capability to process these responses and evaluate them. Ah, the frontal lobe! Human beings develop this part of the brain in young adulthood. At least, some human beings do.

…It organizes responses to complex problems, plans steps to an objective, searches memory for relevant experience, adapts strategies to accommodate new data, guides behavior with verbal skills and houses working memory. Its orbitofrontal circuit manages emotional impulses in socially appropriate ways for productive behaviors including empathy, altruism, interpretation of facial expressions. Stroke in this area typically releases foul language and fatuous behavior patterns [bolding mine].

My argument today is that Drumpf and his supporters have either not developed their frontal lobes, or they have developed them, but are unable to use them. Their amygdalae are in charge, causing them to respond unthinkingly to perceived threats without the calming influence of the orbitofrontal circuit. This inability to counter the constant screaming of “Danger, Will Robinson!” makes them extremely susceptible to manipulation by other like-minded people, who deeply understand the constant state of anxiety in which these primitive brains exist.

In other words…they are stupid. And because they’re stupid, they’re evil.

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hrc-reading-about-pence

Oh, No He Dwa – Wa

Good Monday, Widdershins! It’s been another dizzying, crazy-making week in Washington. It’s almost impossible to make sense of all the Republicans melting down in public, including the fact that Mike Pence (currently being marketed as “The Normal One”) used a private email server to conduct government bidness as Indiana’s governor! Yes, that’s Our Girl reading about it over there on the right side.

Let’s take a little break from the cray-cray and talk about some of the good things going on. As we know, March is Women’s History Month, and March 8, 2017 is International Women’s Day. Thanks to the Women’s March, a spontaneous outpouring of love, positivity and opposition the day after Drumpf’s inauguration, women, and those who support us, have been energized for activism in a way they haven’t been in decades.

This year, March 8 is A Day Without A Woman.

In the same spirit of love and liberation that inspired the Women’s March, we join together in making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, recognizing the enormous value that women of all backgrounds add to our socio-economic system–while receiving lower wages and experiencing greater inequities, vulnerability to discrimination, sexual harassment, and job insecurity. We recognize that trans and gender nonconforming people face heightened levels of discrimination, social oppression and political targeting. We believe in gender justice.

Anyone, anywhere, can join by making March 8th A Day Without a Woman, in one or all of the following ways:

  1. Women take the day off, from paid and unpaid labor
  2. Avoid shopping for one day (with exceptions for small, women- and minority-owned businesses).
  3. Wear RED in solidarity with A Day Without A Woman

Ah, but what are we women yammering about, skeptics may grumble. After all, women aren’t that far away from being equal. And it’s true, we’ve made some strides. Maybe we should wait! According to the IWD website, if we continue on our current course, women will achieve gender parity in 2186.

I’ll just let that sit there for a minute.

When I read that figure, I thought, huh. Weren’t we doing better a few years ago? Why yes. Yes we were.

On average, the 144 countries covered in the Report have closed 96% of the gap in health outcomes between women and men, unchanged since last year, and more than 95% of the gap in educational attainment, an improvement of almost one full percentage point since last year and the highest value ever measured by the Index. However, the gaps between women and men on economic participation and political empowerment remain wide: only 59% of the economic participation gap has been closed—a continued reversal on several years of progress and the lowest value measured by the Index since 2008—and about 23% of the political gap, continuing a trend of slow but steady improvement. Weighted by population, in 2016, the average progress on closing the global gender gap stands at a score of 0.683—meaning an average gap of 31.7% remains to be closed worldwide across the four Index dimensions in order to achieve universal gender parity.

Out of the 142 countries covered by the Index both this year and last year, 68 countries have increased their overall gender gap score compared to last year, while 74 have seen it decrease. It therefore has been an ambiguous year for global gender parity, with uneven progress at best.

Sometimes statistics like this can seem dry. This year, in which we saw a feces-throwing orangutan being inaugurated as President, instead of the first woman ever, it’s as pertinent and full of emotional impact as the shameful and terrifying deportations, anti-Semitic hate crimes, and virulent, violent racism flourishing in the Age of Republican Hate.

But damn, I was going to talk about the good things, right? Here are 31 days of sheroes to inspire us. And for those who want to talk about the insanity du jour, this is an open thread.

 

 

Good Monday, all! As we begin the fifth week of the Worst Reality Show Evah (Make it stop, dear Goddess, make it stop…), it has become clear that Republicans in Congress are refusing to admit that the man James Comey, Vladimir Putin and the broadcast media forced into the Presidency is completely, 100% loony tunes. Why? Because they really, REALLY want to steal from the poor and give to the rich. Somehow these evil plans make their tiny Grinchy hearts swell with bile – I mean, happiness. So until they get their way and make tens of millions of people suffer so they can fill their empty souls with more meaningless expensive possessions, they’re going to pretend everything is just fine. Or at least, they’re not going to invoke the 25th Amendment, which it is long past time to do.

Well, one Democrat, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, is going there.

The 25th amendment says in part that the vice president and ‘a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide’ can demand the president’s removal from office if they decide he is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties.’

Blumenauer said in a Wednesday op-ed that appeared on OregonLive.com that the amendment isn’t strong enough.

‘It has inherent flaws that need to be addressed. The amendment’s default decision-makers– the vice president and the cabinet — have a natural bias toward the existing officeholder that would make them reluctant to acknowledge the president’s inability to serve,’ he said.

Oh, indeed.

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Oh my, oh my. What a Super Bowl, what a Week 2 of the Worst Presidency Ever. The atrocities are too many to document, which is why I’ve added a link to the sidebar where you can find them yourself. And, US Uncut is keeping track of the victories against the Drumpf agenda, which are also starting to pile up.

I have to say that this year’s Super Bowl commercials had a very, VERY anti-Trump and pro-Hillary message. This one in particular, from Audi, made me teary. Is it a coincidence that the girl is a blonde? I think not.

And it’s not just people in the streets and courageous judges who are fighting the Mango Meerkat. It’s businesses, too – in particular, the IT sector, which relies  heavily on talent from all areas of the world. And hey, what about those Democrats? Chuck has been everywhere. After Drumpf declined to criticize Pooty-Poot for murdering journalists and dissidents, Pelosi has called for an investigation into the Cheeto’s Russian connections. It’s about freaking time! Meanwhile, civic-minded states and cities are preparing for big legal fights against the Muslim ban. (I refuse to call it a “travel ban.” There’s a religious test, for heaven’s sake!) And the ACLU has received tens of millions in unprecedented donations.

Perhaps the most encouraging thing is the defection of two moderate Republican Senators (Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski). In response to thousands of calls and letters from their constituents, they refused to vote yes on Betsy DeVos, one of the least qualified of all of the feces-throwing orangutan’s horrific Cabinet nominees. Sadly, she’ll probably get confirmed anyway…but remember, it’s only Week 2, and there are already signs of abandoning ship. Even McTurtle is starting to try to put distance between himself and POTUS.

My feeling about this nightmare in the White House is that it’s just too late for Trump to succeed. Had he come in after Al-Qaeda attacked on 9/11, he might have had a chance. But Bush did his damage, and we have at least partially recovered. America has elected and re-elected an African-American president with a Muslim-ish name; we’ve seen a beloved sports figure celebrated for coming out as transgender; we’ve legalized same-sex marriage and seen millions of women march in solidarity across the country and the world. We’ve moved on. Trump is the least popular President since the tracking started, and he’s going down, down, down.

Somehow, some way, I have faith that we will get rid of this existential threat to our democracy and our planet. I can’t tell you how, and if I did, I’d probably be wrong. But I think it will happen, and sooner rather than later.

This is an open thread.

 

 

TW Was There!

TW Was There!

GoooooOOOOOOd Monday all! Despite the inauguration of the Worst Mistake America Ever Made on Friday, it turned out to be a wonderfully hopeful weekend. Why? Because WIMMINZ!

All over the country and the world, millions of women, girls and supportive men and transgender stormed the cities with a peaceful, joyous roar of hope and solidarity. TW was represented all over Murca (did you know there was literally a protest in all 50 states?! Yeah baby, yeah!) Just as our Widdershins in San Francisco, Seattle and Noo Yawk reported feeling after their marches, the march in DC made me feel both inspired and empowered.

I flew out to National Airport in Virginia early on Friday morning, to avoid the crowds going into the city on Saturday. There was no one around – the most deserted I’ve ever seen that place. I thought, wow, no one is going to this inauguration! I spent the day with my dad and stepmom, and we made plans to go to the march via metro the next day.

Our first clue about how YUGE this thing was going to be was when my Dad and I were driving to the Vienna metro station. We were about 10 minutes away when we saw a sign over Route 66: “Vienna – No Public Parking Available.” My dad said, “I’ve never seen anything like that before!” We knew it was because there were too many people using that station to get into DC for the march. We made an alternate plan to go to Ballston (in Arlington, VA) and take the metro from there. Dad parked in the mall to avoid the crowds, and we walked the few blocks to the station.

When we got there, we saw a long line of people waiting for the bus. They said the metro station was so crowded that you couldn’t get onto the platform! So much for our brilliant plan.

12017-ballston-station

Ballston Station, VA, 012117

We checked out the platform, and well, suffice it to say the line to get on the train was backed up to the escalator, which they had to turn off to avoid endangering the would-be passengers. THAT was a no-go! We eventually got on the bus, which quickly filled up with excited people carrying signs (and one particularly cute baby, who was passed around the entire group so Daddy could take a break from holding her). Oh, and when my Dad’s metro card didn’t work because it was slightly cracked, a woman on the bus offered him two dollars out of her own pocket. This was how everyone was: kind, supportive, generous and determined. Everyone cheered when we got underway, and when we arrived, everyone cheered again. I’ll bet that was the most enthusiastic crowd the bus driver had ever transported, anywhere.

When we got to Farragut Square, we were still about 20 blocks away from the march. We poured down the streets with hundreds of other people, heading in the direction of 3rd and Independence. It was chilly and a bit rainy, but it could have been much worse this time of year. I ended up wishing I had a hat after all!

On our way to the march

On our way to the march

Bizarrely, the streets of DC were completely deserted. There was no traffic, and everyone you saw on the street was obviously also going to the march, with signs, balloons, hats or t-shirts proclaiming their participation. I’ve been in DC on a Saturday before, and I’ve never seen it like this. Dad and I were super-excited, so we took a selfie.

dad-and-me

Dad is at his first protest march ever!

As we made our way along the route, we approached the Washington Monument and were almost directly across from the White House. This was about 12 or 12:15, a full hour before the march was supposed to begin. I pointed out the new Museum of African-American History and we both remarked on how stunning it looked. All of a sudden, we heard this powerful, wordless roar of defiance from 500,000 throats. We saw the march coming towards us – this enormous mass of people chanting and holding signs amidst a sea of pink hats. There is truly no way to understand how big it was from pictures on the ground, but here are some of my and Dad’s attempts. This was one time I wished I could add a foot to my 5′ 4″ height.

the-crowd-part-1

the-crowd-part-2

We ended up, through sheer luck and lateness, being at the very front of the line. For those who were concerned that this was not an anti-Trump march, our first chant was “Hey hey, ho ho, Donald Trump has got to go!” The second was “This is what democracy looks like!” And the vast majority of signs referenced Hillary: whether it was “Nasty Woman” t-shirts or signs, HRC hats or the many, many times I saw the words “Women’s Rights are Human Rights.” So yes, it was against Trump…but it was also FOR WOMEN. That was the bigger message, We are against Drumpf because of what he represents, the deep-rooted misogyny in American society that caused a slim majority of white women (and a huge majority of white men) to vote for an admitted sexual predator and rapist as our nation’s leader. On November 8, I felt as though America had taken a giant sh*t all over my gender. On January 21, I realized that wasn’t true. Americans are on our side, and are appalled to their core that this disgusting creature is allegedly our nation’s leader. As this sign read:

the-crowd-part-4We realized that we had reached the end of the march after about 3 minutes, so we turned and started going back around to where we would have started, had we come much earlier. (We left later because Dad’s feet can’t take standing for too long, so we didn’t hear the speeches…but regardless, we probably would have had to leave around 5 am to get to 3rd and Independence via public transportation.) The crowds streamed around the streets. The police presence was basically non-existent, but the few officers we saw were encouraging and positive. (The fact that they were African-American, and many people carried signs proclaiming “Black Lives Matter,” could have had something to do with it.) Here’s a photo of the crowd as we went away from the White House and back towards the meeting point:

the-crowd-part-6Eventually we peeled off from the crowd and took the metro back to Ballston. There were many protesters on the train with us. We were all smiling at each other, tired but exalted and proud. My dad was really happy that he had stood up for his beliefs and made his presence known. It’s not as easy for some as it is for others, as this sign from the Interwebz stated:

So what now? the media kept asking yesterday. Obviously, a movement has been born. Younger women (and the men and transgender who support them) have awakened and realized they can’t take their rights for granted; that there are still dark forces in our beloved country that will happily and forcefully rip them away from us if we let them. So, we resisted yesterday, and will continue to resist: peacefully, vocally and en masse. It’s as simple as that. Whether it’s feet on the street, tweeting or keeping your congresscritter on speed dial, we’ll never stop until this nightmare is over. And when it’s over, it will be over once and for all.

Why do I say this? Well, in my mind, the real division in America is not political. It’s emotional. There are those of us who are passionately engaged by living in a factual reality (as many of us at TW have noted, the “critical thinkers”), and there are those of us who are passionately engaged by living in their own reality.

We, the reality-based, find it anathema to live in denial of what is happening around us. We understand what it takes to govern the country and follow national events with as much objectivity as humanly possible. We are the ones who voted for Hillary. Then there are the fantasy-based. These are the people who voted for #TheBernout, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson and of course, Der Drumpfenfuhrer. They are firmly committed to ideas that have never been tested by reality, because the people they vote for never have to govern based on those ideas. These people live in a fantasy world that allows them to vote for con men and women who make them feel great about themselves, even though their candidates are clearly not fit to run a lemonade stand.

The numbers of the reality-based and the fantasy-based, at least at the time of the election, were about equal, with about 3 million more reality-based voters than fantasy-based. But this is already changing, and in a bigly way. More and more regret is setting in as the fantasy-based see their candidate and their Congresscritters doing exactly what they promised to do. The Drumpf base didn’t listen to his actual words because they were voting with their emotions, and he made them feel good. The Mango-colored Meerkat now has an approval rating of about 32% – he got 46% of the vote in November. That’s his base running away screaming, as they realize their fantasy doesn’t hold up to reality. The media is now calling him out on his lies, directly, and people can see for themselves that his biggest concern, on a day of global protests was the size of his…inaugural crowd. And it’s only going to get worse and worse for them. The high was amazing, but the hangover is going to be a b*tch.

My sense is that if the Democrats don’t f*ck it up, and so far they haven’t, the numbers of the reality-based will have increased by millions and millions by the Congressional elections in 2018. If the feces-throwing baboon even survives till then, the House will flip blue and impeachment proceedings will continue. (I would say “begin,” but that’s already happened.) The grassroots movement to impeach Drumpf will only grow, too. Check it out here!

If we all live through this, we might end up seeing a silver lining from this deep, black cloud. January 21, 2017 could end up being the day that the deplorables began to wake up from their Fox News-induced trances, and realized they are human after all. Ken y’hi ratzon – so may it be.

This is an open thread.

Good Monday, Widdershins. It’s just a few days before the worst mistake Americans ever made begins to dirty the air in the Oval Office with his toxic emissions. But all is not lost. In America, and all over the world, the fight against the Mango Meerkat has begun. And you know what I haven’t heard in a while? “We don’t know what he’s going to do! Give him a chance?” I can’t say I’ve missed that bullsh*t.

One way people are fighting back is the Women’s March. Despite its marketing as “pro-woman, not anti-Trump,” I think we all know what’s up. Clearly there will be few Trumpsters in attendance, unless they’re in it to stand outside and yell at us about what “Losers!” we are and how “SAD!” it is that we won’t accept the Siberian Candidate as a legitimate President. I remember when I marched against the Iraq War in 2003; there were over 250,000 people on the streets of New York, and about 10 morons with signs protesting the protest. I’m guessing this will be a similar percentage.

Here’s some rather surprising news: There are three times as many buses going to the protest, as there are going to the inauguration! This has got to be another “unprecedented” moment we can live without. I had to laugh at this quote from our PEEOTUS:

Trump told The New York Times last week he expects “unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration.”

Hmm, lowest turnout ever? That would be both unbelievable and record-setting, wouldn’t it?

Then we have the resistance led by politicians. Allegedly our outgoing Post-Partisan POTUS, Barack Obama, is going to be doing something or other. I can’t say I’ve got a huge amount of faith, but maybe he’s learned something from his epic failure to make the argument for Democratic vs. Republican policies. Unfortunately, Michelle Obama, who blew me away during the campaign with her impassioned defense of Hillary and her speeches on behalf of women, has said she will absolutely not be running for office. Damn, I would vote for her! Even if her lesser half doesn’t follow through with his promises, though, there are plenty of other people who are stepping up.

Some of the president’s allies are also preparing for major roles in defending Obama’s legacy. The president’s close friend and former Attorney General Eric Holder is now representing the State of California as an attorney, looking to defend that state’s liberal, Obama-style policies if they come into conflict with Trump’s goals.

A group of elected officials in blue states, including former Obama chief of staff and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, have promised to oppose Trump if he seeks the mass deportation of undocumented people that he proposed during his campaign. And young Democrats who worked as field organizers on Obama’s campaigns and lower-level aides in the White House are now exploring their own campaigns for state legislatures and other local offices.

And yes, some people do seem to realize that Obama was largely at fault for the evisceration of the Democratic Party during his tenure.

The Democrats’ huge losses in terms of state legislative, gubernatorial and congressional seats during Obama’s eight years in office may reduce his credibility in telling party leaders what to do in the future.

I sure hope so. He doesn’t seem to know how to elect anyone other than himself, and his victory lap during Hillary’s campaign also seemed to be an epic fail.

One thing that has been very interesting over the weekend is the escalating feud between Congressman John Lewis and Der Trumperer. After Representative Lewis said what we were all thinking – that Drumpf is not a legitimate President – The Donald’s baby hands went right to his phone and tweeted out that Lewis is “all talk, no action.” Can you imagine saying this right before MLK Day?! The Twitterverse has exploded. I understand that a boycott of the inauguration has begun…let’s hope the Democrats keep it up.

Some other things going on are:

We have taken ten steps back from Martin Luther King, Jr.’s idealistic vision that Americans can be judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Although things are really, really terrible right now, I think it’s becoming clear that Trump is not going to be able to push people around the way he has done as the CEO of his own company. Maybe our long national nightmare won’t be that long after all? And maybe the people we should give a chance to, are our fellow Americans. May we keep each other company and stand as lights against the Dark Times ahead.

This is an open thread.

Good Monday, all. Apologies for the long absence. What with the holidays and long, long-overdue vacations, I haven’t been around for more than a minute to expostulate in my usual manner. I have really enjoyed the posts of my co-bloggers, and all of your comments, and I see us getting our fighting spirit back after the still-unbelievable events of November 8th.

I will say that I am gratified to finally, FINALLY see pushback amongst liberals against this ridiculous narrative that because white, male rural voters went for Drumpf, we should all run around pursuing their votes so we can get “back on track.” As you know, TW said “hell to the no” about this immediately. Guess what, those people never voted Democratic, and they never will.

Even more to the point: they are genuinely bad people, whose core values are directly contrary to ours, and who refuse to live in today’s world. The last thing we should do is reward them for this! They just got the biggest prize in the world handed to them – a President just as ignorant, misogynistic, racist, xenophobic and delusional as they are. What more do we think they deserve? Oh, I’ll answer that question for you. They deserve Der Trumperer, who will immediately proceed to f*ck them in their lazy, welfare-loving *sses from here to infinity. And you know what, my soft-hearted liberal side will hope they actually learn from this…but my snarky side will be laughing my head off.

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