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"Is there sanctuary for the disenchanted Republicans in THIS Democratic Party"

One pundit asked rhetorically, after Hillary's acceptance speech. And then answered (quelle surprise) with a critique I'm sure he thought was scathing, of the agenda she laid out.

So, let me expand a little on the issue of "sanctuary" for Republicans, in the Democratic Party that nominated Hillary Clinton for President, in 2016.

If you want a refuge from the thin-skinned ego, the unprepared narcissism, the uncontrolled temper, of a man who has never done a day of public service, welcome.

If you want a refuge from the terrifying thought of a man who honestly believes "I, alone, am the answer", in spite of not one single day in any kind of elected office, welcome.

If the notion of that orange-tinged finger on the metaphorical nuclear button gives you the jimjams, welcome.

If the scams, the bankruptcies, the stiffed contractors, the bilked 'students' of "Trump University," the hypocritical cheap-labor underpinnings of his clothing empire repel you, welcome.


Here's the deal.

You take us as we are.

Progressive platform and all.

You don't get to re-make us into your vision of what a left-ish, center-ey, sort of moderate-oid, 'acceptable' party with an 'acceptable' agenda SHOULD be.

If you're looking for refuge from a GOP that's become a hot mess, in the hope you can push and twist and leverage and maneuver and whine and insist and shove the Democratic Party into your box, fuggedaboutit.

It's a harder job, maybe, but what you should REALLY be doing, is heading back to your hot mess of a party and cleaning it up, turning it into what you think a party should be. And if that's "adult, deliberate, respect-worthy, conservative, thoughtful, practical, and successful," more power to you. I'll never love ya, people, but you could regain the small amount of respect I once had for some of you.

In the mean time, yeah, you can take shelter here, temporarily.

We get it, you don't like us, you don't like what we want to accomplish for this very great nation, but we're less awful than what your party's become, and right now, between today and November 8th, we ALL have to make some hard choices and compromise some passionate desires to preserve us from something infinitely worse.

The coffee's hot. Help yourself. Remember you're a guest, and we will try to remember that, too.

Guests don't get to redecorate or remodel the host's home.

But they get shelter from the storm, and respect for their humanity. We're up for that.

Stick with us through November 8th, then head back to the smoking ruins of your own party and rebuild THAT.


#RNCinCLE: America's Red Hour

It is rumored that tonight, Republican nominee for President Donald J. Trump is going to pull out all the stops to remind those in the audience of how terrible they have it and why voting for him is the only answer.

I've had a hard time understanding the Trump phenomenon all along. I'm reasonably savvy about both history and sociology, and I do grasp the basic strategy that got the Republican Party to this point. If you mong enough fear to release the Inner Terrified Predator of your desired electorate, focus them on appropriate scapegoat(s), then promise to hand the scapegoats to them all hogtied and ready for a bloody kicking by those Inner Terrified Predators, you build a hella momentum.

But... Trump?

The solons of the GOP knew the weakness as well as the strength of that strategy. It's how they got so good at the Dog Whistle. There's not enough of any one type of voter for this strategy to work without obfuscating it behind the nudge-nudge, wink-wink that will allow several different segments of the electorate to feel the fear of the Awful Other, all at the same time. You have to keep what would otherwise be natural opponents of one another all riding in the same cart.

Your out-of-work middle-aged blue-collar stiffs, your misogynistic alt-right manboys, your retirees piously wistful for the never-was Mayberry of their fading memories, your wannabe Galt misfits, and so many more. They really don't have that much in common with one another. How do you unify them? Attract enough more to credibly steal an election?

The last thirty years have demonstrated exactly how. You mong the fear with subtle skill, allowing out only flashes, with plausible deniability, for each segment, wooing them into a warm sploogefest of 'we all understand what's REALLY being promised but we're not gonna talk about it here.' And as the fear and the hate build up, you front puppets outside your organization, via hate radio and other tools, to provide confirmation and the occasional catharsis, while you maintain your own appearance of respectability.

And the sense of fear builds. It gets channeled productively (for the GOP) into scapegoat-hatred, and you cleverly gerrymander and game the system to maximize the effects. You throw just enough biscuits to each pack to keep them in your vicinity, while reminding them of the 'unreasonable' oppression and control being exercised over their "freedom" by the Vile Scapegoats (be they Democratic office holders, Social Justice Warriors obsessed with politically correct speech, minorities grabbing free stuff, immigrants taking jobs, whatever...)

You tell them they're oppressed, over and over. You tell them that the seething fear inside them that you've been ginning up isn't fear at all, but justified hatred of the oppressors curtailing their freedom.

But you always have to do it in dog whistles, by proxies, by second- and third-hand means, because there must be a core of control, the planners, the exploiters, the true beneficiaries, to direct things.

Then comes the Red Hour.

No one is in control anymore. No one is in charge.

I wanted to understand this phenomenon, especially after reading this Huffpo post about why women support the man who's loudly and proudly exhibited his contempt for them, calling us "dogs," "slobs," "fat pigs," "disgusting animals" and more.

Here's a couple of quotes:

Ive said things like that about guys ― Oh, hes short, or look at his little feet. But [Trump is] just on the surface about it, and thats the refreshing part for me, is that he can speak his mind, because weve been so inhibited,

Im a woman with a loose mouth so I get myself in trouble,

And of course, we're all familiar with the oft-highlighted "I like Trump because he's upfront and tells it like it is" cognitive dissonance.

Essentially, Trump is the promise of enshrining the right to be an asshole in public, into the Constitution.

Mind you, all too many of the GOP's perfervid shock troops think it's already there, a nebulous conglomeration of the First and Second Amendments that guarantees them not only the right to be assholes, shoot anyone who disagrees with them, and be granted unrestricted tolerance and public forums for the display of their assholery. But those Vile Oppressors enforcing politically correct speech, denying them their rights to roll coal on the roads, brandish military-grade ordinance at Wal-Mart, and force baby-factories back into the kitchen where they belong need a real ass-whoopin', and Trump is just loud enough, obnoxious enough, and uninhibited enough to deliver it, with their help.

And so, the clock is striking six in Cleveland, and the Festival begins.


Black Lives STILL Matter

They mattered 300 years ago when European merchant imperialists fetched up on African shores, massacred those who resisted, and hauled the rest off as cargo, because people who looked like that couldn't possibly be as human as the greedy shitheads killing them.

They mattered 250 years ago when Africans were brought to American shores to be sold as property, beaten, abused, separated from family members and killed with impunity.

They mattered 200 years ago when the people who'd penned the words "All men are created equal" and fought a war to prove it, decided that the ones with dark skin were only 3/5 as equal as all other men.

They mattered 150 years ago when Confederate veterans formed terrorist organizations to harrass and kill newly-freed slaves and prevent them from holding the lands, jobs, and benefits promised as part of Reconstruction.

They mattered 100 years ago in the Jim Crow era when lynchings, beatings, home-burnings, and 'separate but (certainly NEVER) equal' were used to keep black Americans from presuming to the rights of citizens and equal status under the law.

They mattered 50 years ago when black churches were bombed, black schoolchildren were killed, dogs were set on peaceful protesters, and activists working for Civil Rights were assassinated.

And they matter today when law enforcement officers constitute themselves judge, jury, and executioner for anyone with black skin they consider any kind of threat-- and GET AWAY WITH IT.

So when you're tempted to remind us piously about how "all life matters," just stop and think.

The reason it's important to keep reminding everyone in America today that Black Lives Matter is because it's a lesson we apparently have failed to learn, for THREE HUNDRED (plus) YEARS.

It's the lessons we DON'T learn that have to be repeated over, and over, and over.


"Officer, Can You Help?"

A friend of mine who's now long, long retired from a police force told me once that those words were why he chose to apply to become a police officer.

He wanted to help.

He wanted to protect.

He wanted to make neighborhoods and communities safe and strong.

I asked him, "Was your life ever at risk?"

A few times, he told me. But rarely because of "bad guys shooting at me." Cops get exposed to a lot of dangerous situations.

Once he dove into a lake to free a dog trapped in a sinking boat, which was the only thing close to a bona fide 'hero story' he'd ever tell about working as a cop.

I suspect he could tell more.

He is white. There were "black neighborhoods" in his city and sometimes he was assigned there. He said he didn't feel extraordinarily alert or threatened or risk-conscious there. He was just doing his job.

He knew there was racism on the force he worked for. He knew there were racial tensions in some of the areas he worked. He did what he could to address that, including spending off-time in some of those neighborhoods, volunteering at community centers, participating in pick-up basketball games, eating out at local joints, getting to know people.

But that was then. Forty-plus years ago, when SWAT teams hadn't yet migrated eastward from the West Coast, before President Nixon declared "War on Drugs", before the manufacturers of military hardware decided domestic law enforcement was a fruitful new profit center, before the Endless Oil War supplied police departments with so many recruits with military training and rawly traumatic urban warfare experience.

Forty-plus years ago, when the Civil Rights movement had just accomplished a series of victories and the assassination of Martin Luther King heightened consciousness of just how dangerous racism was for all concerned. No one wanted to set off more Long Hot Summers. De-escalation of racial tension remained a priority even in an essentially racist mostly-white police force in an oh-so-politely racist white northern city.

I've been trying to parse out what I know about the corner law enforcement has backed itself into, with its increasing militarization, paranoia, hyperactive threat assessment reflexes, and above all, racism. How all of those things have combined into a powerful bunker mentality, an us-versus-them stance, empowered by good-old-boy unions complicit with City Hall lawyers.

It's not going to be easy to change.

The present calls for unity, for de-escalation, for finding common ground, for making change, etc., aren't exactly unprecedented.

But the reality is that until the police departments of America take steady, consistent, and observable actions to change their culture, their recruitment and training practices, their operational doctrines, and their willingness to be accountable to ALL the people in ALL the communities they serve, the spiral will continue in the wrong direction.

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