We Are Right To Demand Better.

“Alina of Cuba” is based on the real-life story of Alina Fernandez, who is one of Castro’s nine known children. Fernandez is known for being critical of the Cuban government and her father’s rule. Actress Ana Villafane will star in the film as Alina.

John Leguizamo is correct that casting James Franco as her father, an aging Fidel Castro, is a cultural appropriation mistake for any movie producer to be making in our current day an age, especially when there are plenty of Latino/Latinx actors capable of giving a far more authentic performance in the role.   Leguizamo is wrong on one other aspect though, more on that later.

ABC news

The producer, John Martinez O’Felan, gave a response which actually makes all aspects of this worse.

For example, he defends the casting by saying Leguizamo, one of the more successful Latino actors working doesn’t understand what being Latino in modern America actually means.  Despite the fact that the character being portrayed isn’t a modern American Latino, but a historical figure who was the President of a Latino country.

“For one, let’s take a historical look at true Latinism in today’s mass culture of Hispanics, because a territory does not define a person’s blood trail. What I mean when I say that is that to be ‘Latin’ means of Hispanic, Portuguese, Italian or Latin American heritage and roots, all of the branches of the root of being ‘Latin.’ So to me his statements can create a great talking point for our people, because his comments represent the confusion and identity crisis in Hollywood right now within the Hispanic community in America who claim to only identify as Latin.”

But his response is made worse yet, by falsely claiming that Leguizamo’s public complaint is an attempt to cancel him and his movie by being an attack on feminism as a whole because the film is focused on a female character (Castro’s estranged daughter).

 “Moreover, I’ve also spent 16 years developing this around and with the support of Ms. Fernandez, and took the time to find a female as the lead with Cuban roots, so he’s also attacking the feminine focus on this title unfairly. This is a film based on a Latin female immigrant living in America who is of historical importance, led by a Latin woman, and I’m just an underdog who is making it, so it’s kind of disappointing to see our work getting attacked by someone we thought would celebrate it. If he hates it and wants to ban it, oh well, I’ll still probably watch his movies because he’s been one of my favorite actors for the last 30 years.”

This despite the fact that Leguizamo clearly stated:

“I don’t got a prob with Franco but he ain’t Latino!”

He should though.

Franco has in recent years been so credibly accused of sexual harassment/assault by five different women that his presence on set of any female centric film is, in and of itself, an attack on modern feminism.   Those accusations have been so credible that several of Franco’s long-time friends, costars, and filmmakers have refused to work with him on future projects.

Finally, O’Felan states that he isn’t a “Hollywood producer”:

“Moreover, I’ve never met Leguizamo but felt the calling to address the fact that he’s attacking me and my work based on false information because I’m actually not Hollywood as he’s insisted: I was born as a 4th generation Hispanic from Texas from an Iberian/ Indigenous Mexican, and have been the visionary behind this project since its beginning.”

John Martinez O’Felan is the CEO of Mankind Entertainment, the lead producer and manager of the film, which is being directed by Miguel Bardem from Mankind Entertainment, and produced in association with Maven Pictures and Redbud Studios.

Movie makers can do better, if they want to.  

We are right to demand better in all aspects of our culture.

If you think that entertainment news, such as this, isn’t important, consider two things. 

First, any society’s entertainment choices directly reflect that society’s interests and tolerances, as well as offers a chance to push the boundaries of both and create shifts in the #Culturalinertia.

Second, attempt to go any single calendar month without allowing any professional arts/entertainment in your life. No books, no audiobooks, no TV that isn’t true news broadcast (no opinion shows), No streaming shows or movies, no music, no professionally made paintings or portraits.  

Then evaluate the impact that eliminating the arts and entertainment had on your emotional well-being.

Freedom

About 15 years ago now, I spent a few years working with the San Antonio chapter of a charitable organization called “SERTOMA” (SERvice TO MAnkind). Each year, I served as either a Committee Chair, Judge, or both for a scholarship essay contest local middle school kids on their summer break were invited to enter.

It was the same essay prompt every year: answer the question “What does Freedom mean to me?”

Every year we’d get a range of answers from kids of all walks of life.

It was amazing, thought provoking, and sometimes heart wrenching to see the differences between what freedoms some of us take for granted and what freedoms some among us are still having denied to them.

One young Black girl wrote about her great-grandfather and grandfather fighting across World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam in service to this country, only to be denied the freedoms they were sent overseas to defend upon returning home.

One young child of both Hispanic and Native Peoples’ heritage wrote about what it meant to his family to have established here in what is now known as South Texas before America was even colonized. The cycle of losing and regaining freedoms as six different national flags have been hoisted over the land they have always occupied creates an entirely different perspective.

A first generation female immigrant from a war torn country in West Asia and North Africa (a region most Americans incorrectly call the “Middle East) offered an entirely different perspective.

A Muslim boy who often found himself persecuted by his public school peers, and even school staff, had yet another viewpoint to offer us.

All stood in contrast to those of multigenerational American families of North European descent.

Today my teenage daughters — who share very recent Hispanic and Germanic heritage through their mother’s genetics and a true multigenerational melting pot mix of Northern European and multiple of the Native Peoples’ tribal nations from my side — would give you a very different answer than they would have a few years ago.

So, this Independance Day, I am going to assign you the same starting essay prompt:

“What does Freedom mean to me?”

After you have answered that question either in writing or at least as a thought exercise, I’d like you to be honest with yourself about your answers to these follow-up questions:

1. Have the recent Supreme Court rulings on voters’ rights, womens’ rights, and health care rights and religious freedoms changed your answers at all from previous years? If so, how?

2. Should all Americans have the same freedoms?

3. If you answered “No” to question 2, what specific freedoms do you feel should be denied to which specific people; explain why? (Do women have a right to personal body autonomy? Do women have a right to Health Care Privacy under HIPPA protections or not? Do interracial couples have a right to marriage, or not? Do same sex partners have a right to marriage or not? etc…).

4. If you answered “No” to question 2, do you have the moral fortitude to be open and honest with your answers to question 3? If not, why not?

5. If you answered “Yes” to question 2, what are you willing to do to ensure all have access to them? Would you vote at every opportunity no matter how inconvenient it is made to do so? Would you help those being denied their rights to circumvent unjust laws? Would you use your privileges or even give them up to help others attain equal access to the same rights? Would you offer you time and/or money to candidates working towards securing those rights for all? Would you run for office yourself? What tangible commitments are you willing to make today so we an all have true freedom?

Photo credit: Glen Le Lievre

When Failed Insurrectionists Rewrite Laws

There are several important things to note regarding the sweeping 6-3 party line ruling of the Trump tainted Supreme Court on New York’s concealed carry law (New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen) today.

The single most important one being that the majority opinion was penned by the Justice whose wife just helped plan, fund, and carry out — with multiple seditious domestic terrorism militias — an armed and murderous attempt to overthrow our halls of Congress and assassinate the Vice President and Speaker of the House along with other members of Congress.

As justification his ruling states that we must honor America’s long history of unrestricted gun access while disregarding the fact that the NY law being challenged has been on the books for nearly 120 years and has been upheld by the SCOTUS bench before. It also disregards the long history of American cities and states attempting to curb gun violence stretching all the way back into the “old west” when visitors to many towns had to turn their guns in at the Sheriff’s Office upon arrival.

As such this will overturn similar laws in at least 6 other states, and will lead to Red Flag laws being challenged and more perpetrators of domestic violence attacks being allowed to obtain firearms again.

But wait, there’s more.

The ruling actually contains this sentence:

“After reviewing the Anglo-American history of public carry, the court concludes that respondents have not met their burden to identify an American tradition justifying New York’s proper-cause requirement,” meaning that a review of American history (where British law holds influence and English is the primary language) says we cannot put a law in place that requires a person to explain why they need to carry a concealed firearm in public to be permitted to do so.

The ruling was issued the same day that the federal Congress prepares to vote on its first major (although weak) bipartisan gun restriction bill in decades, signaling to members that the court will likely strike down any law they pass regardless of how they vote, giving Republicans an easy excuse to back out of their pathetic attempt at compromise.

More importantly though, the ruling will negate many public safety laws and protocols that have been or may be introduced by federal, state, or local authorities throughout the nation by placing a new and ridiculous bar that must be hurdled before safety restrictions can be implemented. If this ruling had been made 3 years earlier it is likely an additional million people would have been lost to the COVID pandemic.

The end result is that this ruling will make all of America less safe, and do so in ways for which a gun in your purse or holstered to your side won’t provide any viable protection.

And that is exactly what Ginny Thomas and her co-conspirators wanted.

Clarence and Ginny Thomas putting the coup back in couple.

Shocking Revelations?

For a moment, let us set aside the few new revelations that were given to us as part of the House Select Committee’s first public hearing on the insurrection attempt led by Donald Trump and his coterie of sycophants, and engage in some real talk about the primary underlying issue.

Based on the reporting and social media commentary following the hearing, everyone seems remarkably shocked at the extent of the conspiracy aspect behind all of this.

I cannot fathom why.

We knew it was a conspiracy all along, long before Donald J. Trump became a part of it.

How did we know?

The short answer for the “TL:DR” (Too Long: Didn’t Read) folks is simply:

History has shown us time and time again that it is impossible for a single person to gaslight hundreds of millions of people into intentionally harming others and themselves for what appears to be the personal benefit of only that one person. Doing this requires a massive support group engaged in coordinated implementation of a well organized, thorough plan. In this case, that plan was generarions in the making. Trump wasn’t its architect, he was just the newest face of the movement.

If you’ve been reading the books and articles of people like Timothy Snyder and following people like Dr. Heather Cox Richardson on social media, you should already have a good idea of what the long answer is going to be. If you’ve been following me on social media at all since 2011, the same should be true. But most people haven’t been putting the pieces together.

Here is a detailed look at what helped get us here.

After the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln wanted to “heal” the divide between what at the time were the Northern Republicans and the Southern Democrats. So, he made several concessions to those southern land owners and former slave owners who had led a treasonous insurrection against our own government. They took every opportunity to systemically entrench support of their “Lost Cause.” It went beyond just putting the failed treasonous military generals in high government positions, which was bad enough.

The 13th Amendment which made the freedom of the slaves a Constitutional Right was itself amended to allow that slavery could legally continue as long as people were convicted and imprisoned first.

This immediately led to the creation of laws that criminalized being Black and started the racial disparity in our justice system. When the 14th Amendment gave them the right to citizenship, many states went further making it illegal for former prisoners to exercise their consitutional right to vote or hold office, so once they managed to get out of prison they’d have no means of working within the system to enact necessary changes.

Thus began the Dredd Scott and Jim Crow eras.

This continued until well into the 20th Century and the Civil Rights Movement.

Then in 1964, Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson dared to sign the Civil Rights Act. The bill enraged and disenfranchised the southern White “DixieCrats” so much that they abandoned the party.

Richard Nixon saw this as a path to power. He would bring Roger Stone along with him.

He immediately began recruiting them to the Republican party by pandering to their racism and Evangelical religious bigotries. This movement of the southern White elite essentially forced both the Republican and Democrat parties to completely swap their social and political ideologies and policy platforms. The sudden Evangelical embrace of anti-abortion politics as a wedge issue was part of Nixon’s courting of the racist White religious right.

Nixon began the dismantling of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal which had helped end the Great Depression and for the previous 50 years ensured that America would become the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world by taxing corporations and elevating the middle class.

It was during the Nixon era when Congress separated the minimum wage from the inflation rate so employers no longer had to provide cost of living wage increases when necessary.

However, Nixon got caught committing illegal acts from the highest public office in our nation, a position commonly revered as the “Leader of the Free World.” When the coverup failed to keep those acts from reaching the public eye, his party members knew the only way to save themselves was to force him to resign before the impeachment trial exposed them too. So they did. His condition for that resignation was a full pardon, which was granted by his VP and successor to the presidency, allowing him to avoid any and all legal repercussions for his actions. And also preventing him from testifying as to whom in his party, and the government, helped him commit those crimes and helped him try to cover them up.

Then Ronald Reagan came along. As Carter successfully negotiated the release of the American Hostages being held in Iran, Reagan was working through back channels to ensure that release didn’t happen until after his inauguration so it would appear his administration secured it rather than Carter’s. This was the foundation of the Iran-Contra hearings that came later, that led to Oliver North’s immunity deal on three federal charges in exchange for his congressional testimony.

While in office Reagan spent a few years intentionally ignoring the HIV/AIDS epidemic because the primary victims seemed to be intravenous drug users and people who were labeled at the time as homosexual. It wasn’t until powerful and influential people, who were formerly closeted members of what is now the LGBTQQIP2SAA community, began announcing their own diagnoses that he could no longer ignore it. Countless people needlessly suffered and died because of his administration’s intentional mismanagement of the early years of that epidemic and the false narratives about how the disease could be transmitted.

He also enacted the nationalization of Trickle-Down economics that has disempowered much of the middle class created by FDR’s New Deal.

And, this will be important later, he vetoed journalism’s Fairness Doctrine Bill. Organizations like FOX News, Breitbart, Rush Limbaugh, and Alex Jones’ InfoWars, couldn’t exist today if he had allowed it to pass.

But the worst thing that came from Reagan’s tenure was pushing the public narrative of individual American exceptionalism and the belief that everyone who was successful became successful on their own through nothing but hard work and determination instead of through the help of supportive friends, family, and community. This became even more destructive with the conflation of all social service programs as “SOCIALISM” and just to be sure they managed to lump all the varying types of socialism as well as communism together under that one “evil” label. This had been going on for quite some time, but dismantling the fairness doctrine really accelerated the way conservative media outlets could package their propaganda.

Then came the the first of two Bush Presidents. The first was pretty much just an extension of Reagan. He did appoint Justice Thomas to the Supreme Court, although it wouldn’t be until decades later that we would learn that Clarence was only serving as his wife’s proxy on the bench.

Before the second Bush came Bill Clinton, who after playing the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall Show embraced being called America’s “First Black President,” despite not being Black. His entire campaign was about embracing Corporatism in compromise with the modern Republicans and forcing all of American politics just a little bit further right with each of his political compromises as he tried getting conservative independents to support him.

Clinton and his administration became embroiled in multiple personal and professional scandals, including Bill’s workplace infidelity with interns which led to an impeachment hearing that would teach American teens that committing sexual acts without intercourse doesn’t legally count as sex, the Whitewater scandal, and the fact that they used Black prison labor [see 13th Amendment’s continued legalization of imprisoned slaves reference above] to staff the Arkansas Governor’s mansion while in residence there. That last might well explain why he was so willing to push the center right while compromising with the former DixieCrats.

During Clinton’s tenure, House Speaker Newt Gingrich would take full advantage of both Clinton’s desire to compromise with Republicans and the various scandals to further the only Republican policy platform agenda that had been in place since Nixon. That was to subversively support White Nationalism, Toxic Misogyny, and Religious Discrimination to keep the people divided, to use the War On Drugs and the War on Poverty to wage war on all marginalized people suffering from drug addiction and poverty in the world’s wealthiest nation instead of providing them the resources they needed to improve their lives; because doing so made them easier to control under the guise of maintaining “Law and Order,” “The Rule Of Law” and protecting “Family values.”

It was at this point FOX News was founded by Australia’s Rupert Murdoch. Murdoch weaved White Nationalism and misogyny into everything he did at the network and everything the network put on the air. He created a 24/7 entertainment empire that would serve as a recruiting and indoctrination service for violently angry White men in exactly the same way that other multinational terrorist organizations recruited and indoctrinated their own terrorist cells.

Following Clinton was the second Bush administration.  Which would capitalize on the American media’s conflation of all Muslim ethnicities into one giant anti-democracy terrorist organization.

“W.” would use the well established Republican relationship with American Evangelicalism to stoke the religious bigotry of our nation’s militant right after the 9/11 attacks of 2001 and unleash the world’s greatest military power on the wrong country so we could secure the oil reserves of that nation.   Considering his family’s fortune and power was built upon the oil industry, this was no doubt a remarkably self serving action that cost millions of lives of all those involved and entagled us in a war that would span decades.

He would also use the incident to justify creation of Department of Homeland Security and issue executive orders that would later be codified into law by Congress to bypass the 4th amendment rights of any and all citizens it wanted if it could meet the lowest possible standards of suspicion of a national security threat.   This would be used by increasingly militarized police departments around the nation to wage war on increasingly marginalized communities of color.  It was at this time, that privatized White Nationalist militias really began to see a surge in their membership as angry White men took up arms to protect our country from Black and Brown people attempting to immigrate here both legally and illegally.

Meanwhile, Roger Ailes became CEO of FOX News, Fox Television stations, and 20th Television.  Ailes had served as media consultant for Republican presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H.W. Bush as well as for the first mayoral campaign of Rudy Giuliani.  He would maintain Murdoch’s history of racism, religious bigotry, and misogyny in every aspect of the business, but he was also instrumental in turning the outlet into nothing more than a Republican propaganda machine.   The company’s own legal team would argue in court, against slander and libel lawsuits, that the outlet was nothing more than sensationalist entertainment and could not seriously be considered a legitimate news source.

It was the George W. Bush administration that appointed John Roberts to the Supreme Court as Chief Justice.   The Roberts’ court would almost immediately begin stripping away the political power and civil rights protections of the populace and relocating it into the hands of the world’s wealthiest people and corporations.

Then a mostly unknown Black freshman Senator did the unthinkable.  

He galvanized the nation’s people of color, most especially the women of color, to overcome the centuries of efforts to prevent them from having any political power to not only show up, but to do so in such numbers that those efforts would be rendered meaningless.   Even more miraculously, he did so without disenfranchising the White moderates and liberals who embraced his message of cooperative hope for the future.   And even more miraculously than that, he did it with a decidedly “Muslim sounding” name in the aftermath of 9/11 and the Iraq wars.

Barack Obama was the greatest societal unifying force of a generation.   He pushed social services.  He pushed for getting as many Americans as possible health care knowing he’d never get Republican support for Universal heath care.

The only people who saw him as divisive were the racists who were never going to accept him because of his name and/or skin color.  Many people think he didn’t do enough, but what he and his team accomplished against the most aggressively obstructive Congress was nothing short of astounding.

Prominent Republicans looked at his success and said “never again,” and — probably for the first time — meant it.

The Senate Majority Leader at the time vowed, literally at the inauguration, to do everything possible to ensure Obama would be an ineffectual one term president.  Authoritarian and fascist leaders of foreign governments lined his pockets and that of other Republicans to help him, as did quite a few major corporations and organizations, not the least of which were Russia and the NRA.  

To Obama’s credit, he accomplished much, including getting re-elected to accomplish more.

McConnell and the Republicans fought him every step.   And their biggest complaint, even as he offered them exactly what they demanded in their compromise negotiations always boiled down to “But he’s a Black Muslim,” even though he was Christian.

This is where Donald Trump finally officially enters the picture in August of 2015 to announce the presidential campaign he had been threatening for years. At this point in his life, his one true skill is simply self-promotion.   Russia’s former superspy and current president, Putin, had been grooming him for years.

They funneled money to him and other Republicans through the NRA and his money laundering real estate businesses whose primary clientele was the Russian mafia.  His behind the scenes campaign advisors included Roger Stone, Roger Ailes (and several of his fake news network’s superstars), Newt Gingrich, and media shock jocks Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones.

Publicly, during the campaign, Republicans put up a pretense of hating Donald J. Trump and everything about him.   He had a tendency to talk too much and “say the quiet parts out loud” exposing motives and plans before they could be snuck passed the general populace until it was too late.  He was also at constant risk for sex, ethics, discriminatory, and other legal scandals popping up from his past and present.

However, his donors had much deeper pockets (being mostly adversarial foreign governments) and his advisory team had much more power, experience, reach, and political clout than any of his opponents.

Angry, racist, White Americans loved the fact that he was unabashedly racist and willing to say what they wanted to hear even when everyone knew he shouldn’t be saying it.

Ultimately, when he won the primary, the Republican party agreed to support him for President.  They would protect him from accountability if he would sign off on their desire to stack every federal bench with judges who would be willing to put party platform before their duty to their office.   All three RNC finance chairs from this period were subsequently convicted on various felonies.

The son of a sitting Supreme Court Justice would use his position at a bank to funnel a billion dollars of funding to Trump with a loan no other bank would have made.   The loan appears to have been a funnel of Russian money, not the bank’s own assets.

That Justice would later take early retirement for Trump to seat an additional member on the bench for at least another two generations of furthering the Robert’s court agenda.

McConnell, with the help of all Republicans, literally broke American parliamentary procedures to steal a Supreme Court bench seat from the Obama administration.   Conservative media helped them justify it.

The death of civil and women’s rights champion Ruth Bader Ginsburg would make a third seat available to entrench the Republican agenda on the bench for those generations.

During his presidency, Trump would intentionally damage long standing national alliances, destroy treaties, and court authoritarian regimes as he attempted to remove any and all trace of Obama’s successes from the White House history.   To help accomplish this, nearly every administrative appointment he made was to put in place a person who had already publicly stated that the department they would be heading should be completely dismantled and eradicated.  He immediately began dismantling agencies that performed ethics oversite and civil rights protections.

To further his efforts he would stoke and then dismiss as unimportant White Nationalist hatred and violence toward People of Color and non-Christians.  Drive up the recruitment for White Nationalist domestic terrorism cells (militias) and weaponize them against communities of color along with using ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and the Border Patrol to do the same.  He would also openly encourage more racial policing and police brutality against people of color.

With the help of the entire Republican party and their well established media propaganda machine, he would borrow a page from Reagan’s HIV/AIDS playbook and allow over a million Americans to die as he intentionally mismanaged our government’s response to a global pandemic because at the early stages of that crisis the most effected communities were the ones that weren’t among his support demographic.   They would convince their followers to put themselves and their own families at great risk in an attempt to kill off as many of their opposition voters as possible.

He would be twice impeached, once for attempting to blackmail Ukraine’s president for his own personal reelection efforts and to benefit Putin’s efforts to rebuild the U.S.S.R. and again for leading a violent murderous insurrection against the American government to prevent the transition of power to his rightful successor in the office.   Both times the Republican party did everything they possibly could to protect him from consequence and accountability.

All of this is a matter of public record. 

None of it is part of a big investigative reveal discovered at the Select Committee hearings.

We’ve known all of it all along.

History has shown us time and time again that it is impossible for a single person to gaslight hundreds of millions of people into intentionally harming others and themselves for what appears to be the personal benefit of only that one person.   Doing this requires a massive support group engaged in coordinated implementation of a well organized, thorough plan.  In this case, that plan was generations in the making.   Trump wasn’t its architect, he was just the newest face of the movement.

What we have been up against all along is a small group of kleptocrats enabled by adversarial foreign governments to undermine democracy, dismantle the US government, and erode our international influence to create a society of multinational Corporate Feudalism.  And they have weaponized uninformed outrage, racism, religious bigotry, and misogyny to accomplish it.

If you look at it with that in mind, every single decision they have made over the years makes perfect sense.

Trump wasn’t the mad scientist brains behind the whole thing, he was the monster those mad scientists created and unleashed.

Of course it’s a conspiracy. 

It’s a conspiracy that has been fully entrenched within the #Culturalinertia of our nation’s history.

It will continue until we put an end to it, or it succeeds.

Why Bother?

People have, over the years, said to me “Why bother wasting your time on social media arguing about politics? It isn’t like you can make a difference anyway,”

I suggest they look into the many ways, both good and bad, that social media has had an ever increasing influence on the outcome of each election cycle since its invention.

People have, over the years, said to me “Why bother engaging with the trolls just trying to bait you? You know you’re not going to change their minds?”

I point out that It isn’t about changing that one person’s mind. Every person that hears or reads what we have to say in response to those trolls is influenced by that interaction.

They have the benefit of recognizing the absurdity of the logical fallacy arguments and willfully ignorant stances being put forth by those trolls and a reasoned and thorough rebuttal of them along with correct information.

That influence is more easily attained because they haven’t been subjected to any of the emotional triggers of having any of it directed specifically at them.

If even one is swayed toward a more grounded reality from which to build their own opinions, it has been a worthwhile engagement.

Even on a site that only reaches thousands of people a day, tens of thousands per week, hundreds of thousands per month, just a one percent success rate is a greater circle of influence than most of us can attain offline.

People have, over the years, said to me “Why bother voting, it isn’t like it matters anyway?”

I suggest they look at all the gerrymandering and voter suppression efforts being put into place over the years, especially these last few years, to prevent their vote from being cast or properly counted. If your vote doesn’t matter, why is so much money and effort being spent to block it?

There are many ways to make a difference. There are many ways to protest. There are many ways to stump for a candidate. There are many ways to widen the reach of your influence.

By casting your ballot you’ve done more than anyone doing nothing. By influencing just one other person, you’ve done more than anyone doing nothing.

You are shifting the #Culturalinertia.

If the people you influence are also doing their part, you’ve begun to increase your influence exponentially.

Anyone trying to tell you that you cannot, or that it isn’t worth trying, is actually attempting to silence your voice and limit your reach. Call them on it, make them explain why.

“Never give up. Never Surrender.”
~Galaxy Quest

The Rising Cost Of Greed

Inflation isn’t at record heights because of an increase in production or distribution costs or even pay raises for what were considered menial jobs prior to a global pandemic teaching us who the real essential workers actually are.

Inflation is rising at record paces because the leaders and shareholders of multinational corporations are greedy and price gouging.

Already Americans are paying about $250 more per month, per household, for the same goods than they were before the pandemic according to a study by Moody’s Analytics.

If it were true Inflation the corporations behind it would be, at best, breaking even.  Especially, if production and supply chain delays are preventing them from meeting demand.

However, while many local small businesses are failing — some because they didn’t have the resources or capital to adapt to pandemic business needs — the megacorporations are raking in record profits, undertaking massive stock buybacks, and buying up the resources of the failing local businesses.

What the federal reserve is doing in response to it is; therefore, exactly the wrong solution.

Increasing interest rates now will make loans for individuals and new small business startups with new post-pandemic market strategies even harder to obtain.

As a result people will curtail purchases of non-essential goods and services and be even less likely to invest. It will also curtail new home and vehicle purchases.

The real solutions are easy to identify. They would also be easy to implement if we had a majority of members in Congress working for the people instead of lobbyists.

1.  Establish a minimum wage that is no less than a true living wage.

2.  Tie that minimum wage to true inflation so it remains a living wage.

3.  Establish a national single payer health care system that is completely separate from employment. 

4. Close the corporate tax loopholes.

5. Create a tiered wealth tax on those whose wealth exceeds $3M.

The combination of these things would free employers from the need to pay the employer portion of health care plans. It would free people from the leading cause of bankruptcy in our nation, medical expenses. And it would eliminate the vast majority of the government’s need for public assistance programs like SNaP, CHiP, and others that are currently actually used to subsidize the shortfall between employer wages and living wage requirements.

People would be free to pursue the careers that would interest them most and which they would he best at doing, without fear of losing their health care.

This would stimulate the economy more than anything else we could do.

It would also stimulate the creation of more new innovative small business and free market competition than anything else we could do.

Ultimately, the problem with the Federal Reserve’s approach is that it will punish average consumers even more instead of those driving prices up with their boundless greed.

What It Will Take To Flip Texas Blue.

Beto O’Rourke failed in his bid to unseat Texas Senator Ted Cruz, but the attempt made him the most widely recognized Texas Democrat without any direct ties to the Obama Administration. That last point is more important than most might think. This is simply because nothing will make Texas conservatives overlook a direct link to what man they are determined to make America’s last Black President.

Beto is trying to use that recognition now as he accelerates his campaign for the Governorship of the state. He is running the same platform with one notable exception, which we’ll get to in a minute.

The incumbent Governor, Greg Abbott, has chosen to fully embrace every aspect of White Nationalist Trumpism in the hopes that the state’s aggressive gerrymandering will overcome the staggering COVID death toll among Republican voters, as well as the backlash from the power grid failure last winter, and carry him to another term.

O’Rourke already knows that he’s got the vote of every Democrat who will show up, because whatever Democrat ends up on the ballot running against Abbott does.

That same Democrat candidate will also receive many secret, silent votes from Libertarian and Republican women who will never publicly admit they voted against the Republican incumbent, but who will do so specifically because of the recent anti-abortion bill Abbott pushed through a special session of the state Congress. These votes will noticeably skew the predictions and exit polling.

They won’t; however, be enough to overcome the gerrymandering.

Which brings us back to O’Rourke’s new platform focus.

He has chosen to put legalization of marijuana front and center in this election race.

Every single item needed to cultivate and process the plant from seed to sale is manufactured here in Texas. There is no shortage of land, or financially troubled farms, that could easily and quickly become marijuana farms. That would immediately create jobs working crops for a product that will actually move in today’s economic market. It would also create jobs in all regions for resale shops, at a time when small business store fronts are failing. It would create a massive tax revenue stream for the state that would immediately start paying down the deficit, as it has for other states.

Finally, the legalized marijuana industry has some heavy hitter former Republicans and Republican darling celebrities behind it as owners and investors.

This could be the issue that eventually drives some of the male Libertarian and Republican voters to cast their own secret, silent ballots for a Democrat party candidate, especially the younger ones that want to have easy access without the risk of a criminal record.

Will it be enough to drive Democrat voter participation and Republican/Libertarian defection to levels that will overcome the state’s aggressive voter suppression and gerrymandering of districts?

Unless Congress quickly passes the John Lewis Voter’s Rights Act and makes it enforceable for the 2022 elections, we better all hope so.

This Is Our Fault.

When I was in Jr. High School in Gaithersburg, MD a classmate walked up behind me and held a knife to my throat during a multi-class science lab experiment.

He said he was going to kill me because of something one of his friends told him I had said about him. I had not said it.

Three teachers pretended not to see this happening because they didn’t want to get involved in an altercation with this known troublemaker.

I managed to survive the encounter.

When we were brought before the school principal, this kid was told to dispose of his illegal switchblade knife and was suspended for two days.

My parents were not informed by the school, they did not find out until I told them.

That’s when we got the police involved for aggravated assault charges.

At different points during their investigation this kid tried to kill his mother, himself, and at least one cop. He would spend several years receiving mandatory inpatient psychiatric care.

Meanwhile, his friends decided to jump me one day after school for “ratting on him.”

I did not win that fight.

I also did not lose it.

As a result, the school administration thought my own use of extreme violence in self defense — thanks to martial arts training — against multiple attackers who were close friends with someone who had already tried to kill me warranted the necessity of me receiving psychiatric counseling in order to be allowed to stay in school.

To this day, 4 decades later, I still cannot sit comfortably with my back to a room and ever vigilant threat assessment is automatic.

Thankfully, this — and extreme discomfort wearing a tie with the knot pressing on my throat — is the extent of my PTSD from these attacks which I endured in the 7th grade.

Today, we train preschool kids to look for their emergency exits on playground areas and to not only know, but practice, what to do when bullets start flying on campus.

There is no point in their public lives from that moment on that they are not dealing with the same situational combat awareness stress that makes it difficult for war-time vets to readjust to normal day-to-day life when returning home.

This is our fault.

Because we refuse to reasonably regulate the right to bear arms.

If that boy had a gun instead of a knife, I would have died in a 7th grade science class.

And now we also add the trauma of complete strangers attempting to harm them through anti-public safety protocols — refusing vaccines, social distancing, and masks — during a pandemic health crisis as they cough and sneeze on grocery produce and in small spaces with recycled air. They assault retail and food service workers and flight attendants for trying to enforce the rules. They stand outside elementary schools and scream profanities and threats at educators and kids who are just trying to survive the day.

It’s a miracle any of these kids remain functional.

Some days, I think it’s a miracle I do, and I had it much easier than these kids today.

It’s All So Simple; Really, But Simple Ain’t Always Easy.

Over the past few weeks a lot of different news has been breaking, and the press and the people responsible for it want us all to view each instance as a separate, isolated, and unrelated occurrence, they are not. We have to put some pieces together to put them all in context with each other. If we do that, Things get pretty clear, and the solutions present themselves.

First, lets review a bit of well documented history, that is undisputed by anyone reputable enough to put forth any dispute of merit.

Several years back, multiple foreign interests saw a celebrity conman as a useful idiot they could put in power to serve their interests. They pursued several methods of doing so, ego stoking, funneling money through the NRA, employing a social media troll farm for influence, using hackers to attack our political party offices and election systems, and more. The son of a Supreme Court Justice Antony Kennedy funneled roughly a billion dollars of their money through Deutsche Bank loans that no legitimate bank officer would approve. And, they were successful beyond their wildest dreams.

Their useful idiot became the President of the United States, despite losing the general election by a considerable margin. He spent the next four years stoking racial hatred and political violence. He filled three seats on the Supreme Court with religious zealot personal loyalists with a combination of multiple ethics complaints and inexperience on the bench. One of those seats belonged to Justice Kennedy, who retired early just so this man could appoint his replacement while the Republican party controlled the approval process. He then went on to become personal responsible for more the deaths of more than half a million Americans by seizing on an opportunity to weaponize a global pandemic he thought would be limited to more urban, liberal areas, and controlled before it could spread. His inner circle of kleptrocrats used that opportunity to make a ton of money in illegal and/or unethical investments as they mishandled the national response and created an economic crises. Eventually, though, their misinformation efforts and anti-science, anti-knowledge campaigns backfired, and the virus started taking an even heavier toll on their own support base as vaccines became available. Then when it became clear he wasn’t going to be re-elected, he attempted to lead a violent overthrow of our Congressional system, and seize power for himself. He failed, but he succeeded in further dividing the country with violence, racism, and bigotry. In the process, the Republican senate made a mockery of not just one, but two impeachment trials to protect him.

Now we have a Supreme Court, one third of which was appointed by a violent insurrectionist, rewriting long established and settled law, starting with abortion rights.

During his tenure, the Republicans in state governments around the country have been passing hundreds of voter suppression laws and laws rolling back civil rights, social services, and more.

Republicans are hoping the compromised Supreme Court will uphold their efforts.

Then, after winning back the Presidency, as well as the House and Senate majorities, Democrats wasted nearly a year before pursing real investigations of those that planned and instigated the insurrection attempt, especially those still serving as Congressional peers. They held off on the trials of insurrectionists and cut deals that allowed them to plead out to non-felony charges to avoid more serious punishment, including the, at least temporary, loss of their own voting rights.

Worse yet, the allowed two of their own Democratic senators, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Krysten Sinema of Arizona, to hold the ability to achieve justice and make good on promises of progress hostage for their own personal gain.

The real solutions are simple, and should be bipartisan, if one party wasn’t actively trying to weaponize willful ignorance and hateful bigotry in order to entrench us all in corporate feudalism.

But, simple isn’t always easy.

Here are the things that need to be done now:

Close Ranks and Unify

The Democrat Party leadership needs to steamroll Manchin and Sinema, by taking some lessons of the Republicans to heart.

Schumer and Durbin need to tell them to get in line and do away with the filibuster in order to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the For The People Act.

If the two refuse, then Schumer should strip them of all their Committee seats, severely hindering their power to influence legislation in development. They should eliminate all party support for their re-elections and divert it to candidates who will primary them and vote with the party on these vital issues.

Many people think that the threat of doing so will force them to switch parties, but this won’t happen. Neither of them will switch because doing so puts McConnell back in the Majority Leadership seat and eliminates both or their personal gain leverage as they become the 51st or 52nd member of the Republican majority and of no use at all to McConnell in passing or obstructing anything. They are two self centered and self serving to willingly render themselves irrelevant.

Get them in line and pass the bills required to make sure everything else being accomplished right now remains a lasting accomplishment, and not just a brief respite in the eye of the storm.

Fix The Court

Biden assembled nearly 3 dozen experts to form a commission in response to demands from Democrats to restore what they called ideological “balance” on the currently tainted court. They offered him a 300 page research paper that offers no specific recommendations.

So, here are my recommendations for what must be done:

Change the number of Supreme Court Justices is so there is a one to one ratio of Justices to US Appellate Court Districts.

That number is currently 13. Set term limits to be two times the number of judges, so 26 years.

Appoint one new judge every two years to replace the longest serving judge. If a judge dies or retires early, the President would then nominate, with Congressional approval, a temporary replacement to fill the seat until it would have come up in rotation, at which time the temporary nominee could be reconfirmed for their own term or replaced as scheduled.

This would prevent any one administration from being able to hold an imbalanced sway over the court for generations to follow.

Achieve Accountability

Censure and eject all those who participated in the planning and execution of the January 6th insurrection from both the House and Senate, and any governmental/state agency that they are currently working within.

Hold trials for all those who participated in the planning and execution of that insurrection, on the proper felony charges. Expedite the trials.

Disqualify all of them that are currently running for state and federal offices across the nation from ever holding political office again.

There is established legal precedent for all of the above.

Move On

For years now, we have been fighting against a small group of kleptocrats put in power by an adversarial foreign government to undermine democracy, dismantle the US government, and erode our international influence. And they have weaponized uninformed outrage, racism, religious bigotry, and misogyny to accomplish it.

If you take the time to look at all they have done, with that in mind, every single decision they have made over the last several years makes perfect sense.

Only by accomplishing the things outlined above can we begin to address our collective moral injury as a nation and society and begin to heal from the damage they have caused.

This is how we address the ongoing #StochasticTerrorism of the Republican party and begin to course correct our #Culturalinertia.

It’s Been A Busy Week

Four days ago, for a variety of reasons, I posted a farewell message to my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/timsnews) after nine years of dedicating my blood, sweat, and tears to keeping it going well, and doing so with no real compensation.

There were several private personal issues that played into the decision of how I need to allocate my time and effort going forward, but those were all secondary to the fact that at the beginning of 2016, this page was reaching nearly half a million individual users a day.   Now, with nearly twice as many followers as then, it barely reaches 5,000 a week.  This is a direct result of Facebook’s (now Meta’s) algorithms intentionally quashing the voice of progressive and/or humanist advocates.

As a result of all of this, and other changes to how the Facebook user interface works, the page has evolved a few times over the years, going from a place of user engaged discussion and debate of meaningful issues, to me just posting brief commentary on specific news links, and the few people that still engaged doing so simply by clicking a generalized emoticon reaction button instead of processing their thoughts on the issue for a meaningful response.

Since posting that message, quite a few people who have never openly engaged before let me know publicly and privately how much the page has meant to them, that meant a lot.

Also, several extremely major news stories broke each validating much of my efforts here over the last few years.

Trump’s Chief of Staff published a new book exposing that Trump tested positive for COVID 3 days prior to his live debate with Biden in 2020.  Meaning that he was “patient zero” for the Super Spreader event celebrating his appointment of Amy Cohen Barrett to the Supreme Court and several other events that week, all of which he attended unmasked while hugging the guests.  It also shows that his crowding Biden’s personal space during the debate was an intentional and malicious effort attempting to infect Biden.  And every one of his immediate family members and staff, unmasked in the audience, were doing something similar.   After backlash from Trump, the author, said in a news interview that his own book was “Fake News.”

A former ranking member of the DOJ choose to plead the 5th in front of a Congressional committee rather than answer questions that would expose his own criminal involvement in the January 6th insurrection.   This has been handed over to the current AG for Contempt of Congress charges.

Meanwhile a Supreme Court bench sent the signal that it fully intends to strip women of what remaining personal health autonomy they already have, and in the process set the new precedent for states to completely disregard any and all federal laws and regulations they choose.

You might remember Trump in his debate with Hillary Clinton declaring that he would fill the bench with judges that would overturn Roe v. Wade.   And here we are.

Despite the fact that during his confirmation to the Supreme Court Brett Kavanaugh convinced Sen. Susan Collins that he thought a woman’s right to an abortion was “settled law” calling the court cases affirming it “precedent on precedent” that could not be casually overturned.  And during her own confirmation, Amy Coney Barrett told senators that laws could not be undone simply by personal beliefs, including her own.

In both cases Senators like Susan Collins choose to believe their lies under oath, rather than see the reality of their previous rulings and opinions and op-ed papers, and Trump’s stated intent and confirm them anyway.

As a result, we now have a Supreme Court bench, one third of which, was appointed by a man who attempted to lead a violent overthrow of our government, actively reinterpreting Constitutional law and legal precedent from a fascist White Nationalist perspective.

The legal team Trump assembled to wage his “Stop the Steal” court battles has turned on each other so deeply that they’re publicly exposing each others crimes, and all are now under investigation.  They also lost a major ruling in Michigan as a result of these frivolous lawsuits.   And outlets like Fox News and NewsMax are tearing themselves apart trying to figure out who they’re supposed to support and who they’re supposed to attack.

During this brief four day span, we also learned that the mother of the latest school shooting wrote an open later in 2016 to Trump thanking him for giving her the right to bear arms.  The weapon the boy used was only purchased by the father four days before the methodical and deliberate massacre.   This was a direct result of the incessant #StochasticTerrorism efforts from Trump and his supporters.  The young man is now being charged as an adult with murder and terrorism charges.  His parents are both being charged with involuntary manslaughter as well.

And over the years, each and every one of those things was predicted by the posts on this page, and then discussed again as they were happening in real time.   This, along with your heartfelt responses, further validated my work and effort here and helped me come to a realization.

I started the Facebook page and this blog site for me, they were a place for me to process my thoughts on important and difficult issues, which over the years evolved into an attempt to combat willful ignorance by keeping myself and others informed.   One of the key ways I found to do that was to expose the aspects of our #culturalinertia that were holding us back as a society offering suggestions on how we need to shift them in the proper direction.   At the same time writing about it and informing others became a form of personal therapy to work through my own “Moral Injury.”  If you don’t know what that is, you should.   I strongly believe that we as a collective society are all suffering from this shared PTSD.   Learn more here:  https://www.ptsd.va.gov/…/cooccurring/moral_injury.asp=

So, I realize now, I need to keep doing my writing and sharing it with anyone that I can reach, which means instead of shutting the page down, it is time for it to evolve once again.

I will keep this page open, along with my Twitter page @timelytopics.  Of late, I have been over-posting to Facebook and under-posting to Twitter.  To solve both those issues, instead of posting so many different news articles with their own separate lead in comments, I will be writing a couple cumulative blog entries on this WordPress page https://tims-news.com/ and posting the links to these social media accounts, you can follow on whichever of the three platforms you prefer.

These blog entries will be more similar in structure to the postings I have shared with you recently from Dr. Heather Cox Richardson, and I will allow more of my personal writing voice to be present in my commentary on the issues (as all of my blog posts have done) than my postings here normally have contained.  Expect to find a lot more humor and sarcasm embedded that those of you that don’t know me personally are accustomed to from me.

If you appreciate the work and effort, and are willing to make a donation to cover the expenses of the news subscriptions I use to keep the information here flowing, you can do so at either PayPal: paypal.me/timelytopics or Venmo: timelytopics@gmail.com