Me and American Patriotism

I originally published this a few years ago but I decided to take it down for reasons of my own. Now it’s back :3

Please excuse how outdated it is:

As a Native American, I’ve found it hard to have a straightforward way of identifying as an American.

Before I get into a bunch of personal stuff let me clarify what I do not mean.

Clearly, I have no doubt of my legal nationality.  That might sound too basic to bare mentioning but we’re all familiar with how idea exchange on the internet works and sometimes basic stuff needs to be clarified.

I am also not claiming to speak for anyone’s experience but my own.  My use of the personal pronoun I in that first sentence looks a little clunky to my eyes but I did it anyway.  I’ve held onto a few basic assumptions about writing and grammar from college English classes and one of those is that, since your writing is authored by you, there is no need to attribute your own conclusions and chains of reasoning to yourself.  Nonetheless, I’m leaving that sentence as “I’ve found it hard” instead of “it is hard” in order to emphasize that I’m only speaking for myself.

(I’ve never broken anything like that down before now, and I’ve definitely been way less careful when talking about books and video games, but I suspect this is a topic where the reasoning behind word choice might be looked at closely)

A third thing that I am not claiming actually segues into the rest of what I wanted to write about: I am not anti-American, although throughout my life I’ve found it hard to be well disposed to America emotionally and morally.

So, getting back to me-

Early in life, like many Native Americans, I learned that the nation my family has historically belonged to had it’s autonomy wiped away for no better reason than that white people wanted their land.  Said white people were also guided by a moral force that made land piracy innocent so long as it happened to non-Christians.

If I wanted, I could take this into a bigger argument about the annexation of Native America in general, but as this is a blog entry about my personal feelings I’ll confine my scope to my own heritage and my own thoughts. The history of my ethnic group has a lot in common with what happened to a lot of Native American nations.  When rampant disease broke out upon initial contact with white people, a missionary led a handful of us to a place to start a new settlement.

It is documented that this missionary wanted to abolish the rank of chief, largely because our chiefs were believed to be the descendants of divine, supernatural beings.  The chiefs were considered representatives of the spiritual world which made them religious authorities.  In his letters, he wrote that he intended to replace the authority of the chief with Christianity.

Now, this missionary is justly celebrated in my community as someone with genuine good intentions and a worthy legacy.  He wanted the settlement to be an economically and socially self-sufficient community and today he is remembered as one of its essential founders.

But it all came at the price of forfeiting our historical spirituality and replacing it with Christianity.  And the movement to the new settlement happened in reaction to rampant disease and economic displacement, which makes the moral framing of this missionary as a great founder really questionable.  If someone offers to save you from death and disaster if you do whatever they say, is that person really a hero?

This is a minority opinion among the Natives I grew up around and I’m well aware of it.  Once, as a teenager, I attended an anti-suicide event with a handful of other kids from my hometown with family ties to the reservation that the settlement became in the end. A few community leaders chaperoned. One of those adults accompanying us mentioned once that conversion to Christianity was the one undeniably good thing to happen from white contact.  Many rural Native communities in Alaska are strongly Christian as are many rural communities across America.  One night, during a summer-camp trip organized by the local Native corporation that I was a part of, a few adults and a few kids decided to assemble a traditional sweat lodge.  Many of those participating helped build this and participated in a sweat, while many others refused on the grounds that it was “witchcraft”.

While many in the Native community I grew up in are heavily invested in our traditions, language and culture, Christianity is given priority whenever it clashes with those traditions.  The moral sanction that Christianity gave to the American conquest of Native Americans was the main reason why American patriotism was emotionally and morally repugnant for most of my life, to say nothing of the emotional and moral repugnance of Christianity itself.

While, as a thirty year old adult, I am not anti-American, this is not because I think any of these things turned out to be good in the end.  Nothing can ever exonerate or justify the erasure of Native American culture and spirituality and nothing can diminish the role the Christian Church played in it.

In spite of that, my distance from  being anti-American even extends to being pro-American.  This is because, in many substantial ways, America has set important moral and historical standards.  The moral elevation of freedom of expression, religious and intellectual pursuit and democracy are all essential steps forward for both the West and the rest of the world.  I absolutely believe that the existence of a global standard-bearer for democracy and the steps the Enlightenment helped us take away from monarchical autocracy and religious tyranny is necessary on the world stage.

Make no mistake, like any other huge developed nation, I think America harbors an inevitable degree of confusion and animosity.  While there is always a rational-to-irrational spectrum within public opinion, I feel like many sides of many common conversations agree on the right things.

For example, the importance of individual autonomy.  In spite of what many Libertarians claim, they are not a besieged minority.  Most people in America think the individual is a basic cornerstone of our values and any politician who wants to get elected will need to say so.  You could be a corporate Democrat with everything that makes them repugnant, the kind of person that Republicans think of whenever anyone brings up big government or political correctness run-amok and Progressives think of as a Hilary Clinton-style bad guy who gets cuddly with Super PACs and is totally okay going to war with whistle-blowers like Edward Snowdin and Chelsea Manning…and you would still have to at least pay lip-service to the individual.  Sorry for the ugly run on sentence, lol

To illustrate this a bit more: my values as a libertarian made me a feminist.  For me, feminism has been a logical expansion of the values had back when I identified more strongly as a libertarian.  As far as defending ones right to control their own bodies and govern their lives as freely as possible while not disenfranchising anyone else, feminism has done way more heavy lifting.

I’m not gonna waste my time defending second-wave feminist insanity any more than a self-proclaimed Libertarian will defend Timothy McVeigh.  I don’t think any transsexual (such as myself) or anyone who is a sex worker or thinks that sex workers are human could ever get behind second-wave feminism.  Those who espoused second-wave feminism were also disturbingly willing to ignore the autonomy of large groups of women and queers, this would happen along the lines of “you’re too saturated with internalized misogyny to be reasoned with”, with transsexual women being especially likely to end up on the receiving end.

With the freak-bin safely out of the way, I feel like the link between feminism and libertarianism is pretty hard to avoid, at least in terms of moral reasoning.  No one is wed so much to the sanctity of the individual and self-determination as feminists and libertarians.

(if I seem inconsistent about capitalizing things like proper nouns, it’s because I know there is a difference between those who identify as Libertarian with a capital ‘L’,  as a proper political party, like Republican or Democrat, and those who use words like ‘libertarianism’ and ‘feminism’ as generalized categories like ‘liberal’ and ‘conservative’)

What I’m saying is that, a lot of the time, we agree on many of the essential and necessary things even if we disagree on a million other things.  Lately, I’ve become less convinced of this.

While I feel like many people are aware that the press has been profit-driven and manipulative in the past, it has never really bothered me as much as it does now.  While presidential elections in America have often been a personality competition, I don’t feel like I’ve observed anything like the 2016 election in my lifetime.

Before 2016 I feel like there was this threshold for cynicism, within which was permissible irreverence and a somewhat hopeful spectrum of possibilities for an elected official.  Before 2016, if your choice for president made it to office, you might be resigned to the fact that they will play ball with the big money on the other side but still confident that some of things you voted them in for might reasonably happen.  Now, I’m not altogether sure if that threshold still exists.

At least a little bit of my doubt began when Donald Trump began his relationship with Alex Jones.  A presidential candidate had chosen to validate someone who thinks all mass shootings were false-flag operations carried out by NWO puppet masters to trick America into surrendering its guns.  Trump validated a group of people who don’t think mass shootings even exist.  So far from introducing a specific side in the debate on gun violence, the American mainstream was now embracing people who are willing to dispute whether one even exists.  Perhaps involving disagreement over the nature of reality itself was meant to provide room for a positive view of how an unobtainably expensive border wall will impact our economy.

My doubt grew a little more when anti-SJW internet trolls unanimously fell in line behind Trump.  These are people who felt like a hypothetical anecdote from Anita Sarkeesian was the same as an attack on all male gamers and the panic surrounding non-binary individuals.  I think, inevitably, the hysteria over genderqueer people within alienated nerd subcultures has some link with the stigma of furries and otherkin.  A ton of Anonymous and 4chan groupies had already built something of a subculture over ripping on otherkin and furries and the second someone got confused over the concept of “non-binary” it became an intuitive lightening rod for these people.

I mentioned in my very first entry in this blog that I have, for a few years, anyway, followed Sam Harris’ Waking Up podcast and considered him the last remaining good guy among pop-atheists (I might include Ayaan Hirsi Ali in that as well but she’s not very invested in theism versus atheism).  And even Sam Harris mentioned “nude pronouns” as one of the things that alienated people from the left and contributed to the election of Trump, as if it was a clearly insane priority that the left should have known better than to get involved with.

The reason I’m mentioning trolls is that Trump validated a whole movement of people with a ton of anger and no inclination to map that anger onto anything that exists in the real world.  Within internet troll culture, ripping on feminism in gaming and gender non-conforming people didn’t beg any further explanation because, within its own culture, it was understood to be supported entirely by malicious humor.  After internet trolls were embraced by the alt-right, though, they were empowered  by the realization that they were taken seriously without an explanation.  Feminism and queers were accepted as illegitimate and threatening on their face and that position could not get called out in public without drawing censure and ridicule.

The generalized dismissal of feminism and queer equality also had a smooth consistency with many men in Trump’s fan base who showed up to rallies wearing t-shirts saying ‘grab America by the p****y’.  The whole ‘p***y grabbing’ buzz phrase evolved from a sexual abuse allegation.  Not infidelity, not being a closeted gay or bisexual, not for being a closeted kinkster or any number of morally innocuous (in my opinion) things that politicians have been discredited for in the past.  The allegations were about sexual assault. Soo…within mainstream right wing culture, the people who claim to support individual autonomy no matter what, up to the point that they think you should be able to shoot trespassers on your property…these people, so many of whom being self-proclaimed Libertarians, have ceased to consider sexual assault discrediting.

Remember when I said that we are generally aware that the press has a history of being self-interested and manipulative?  Strictly speaking, I think shifting popular conversations away from policy and facts toward generalized attitudes is nothing new.

But maybe, now that I’m thirty, it’s really sinking in for the first time.  Or maybe this time it really is different.  Presidential addresses have definitely been very suspect in the past for similar reasons.  How many former presidents, though, have called the American press the “enemy of the people” and mentioned political fads in popular sports (at least) twice?  The Independent recently published an article about spent casings from artillery used by ISIS has been tracked to nations and groups that America supplies with weapons.  And yes, the casings and the weapons the ammunition goes to are of American make.  The rebel groups and nations that we are supporting in the Middle East are openly playing ball with ISIS and Trump is making stupid little pot shots at sport stars who support BLM.

All that can be simplified as: the American president is now openly attacking the press while at the same time using it to establish links between pop-culture and the attitudes of his base.  What sort of political leaders attack the press outlets that aren’t being bent to their will?  While also hijacking attention away from things our government is doing that has real consequences?  Where in history or contemporary geography have we seen things like governments that go to war with the press while using it for misdirection and propaganda?

Again, manipulating the masses through buzz-words and oversimplifications is nothing new.  But I can’t help but think that America has never had a president that is as openly cynical about it.  And sure enough, whenever some stupid new outrage catches the ire of CNN some talking head is going say that this isn’t going to happen a second time, that this isn’t the new normal.  They’ve did it more than once, every time CNN or some other big name news outlet compiles a list of lies spoken by Trump they’ll also add some comment about how this is just a contemporary anomaly and that Trump definitely is not setting a new standard.  I find it very hard to believe these optimistic claims…but if they’re as wrong as I think they are, then what does that suggest about our future?  Have we actually passed the threshold from political cynicism to political nihilism?  Have our disagreements over the nature of reality passed beyond the attacks the religious right makes on science into something even more ubiquitous and destructive?

AAaaaaaaaaand now we’re full circle regarding my own personal feelings regarding patriotism and my beliefs about America’s role in the world and what being an American is even like.  I mean, I’m not gonna say right now that America has abandoned its moral and cultural vitality, but I’m definitely closer than I’ve been to thinking that than I’ve been in a very long time.

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/syria-missile-arms-deals-west-us-uk-saudi-arabia-a8459731.html

https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/why-wall-wont-work

Trans Rights & America’s Modern Left

I first began to legally and medically transition a little over a year before Trump was elected President. While my entire social group knew I was trans before that point and I had spoken to individual family members about it, I then had to make sure every person I cared about was on the same page. The reason why most LGBTQ people come out is because we get tired of living with the pain, humiliation and alienation of double lives and secrecy and want to live more complete lives with our whole world- not just a part of it.

When faced with the need to reach out to family members I had not yet spoken to and to come out at my work in order to plan appropriately, I began to feel the enormity of both the release of being out as well as the attendant risks. As someone with a public-facing job, there was simply no way around broaching the subject at work. There are many important things about us that are not visible on the surface- our values, psychological states, religiosity, spirituality, political commitments, etc. -so many things that can be sorted into a segregated private life that need not have any bearing on a public life. Transitioning from one gender to another cannot be one of them- at least not while you are transitioning.

I felt a very powerful sense of achieving real participation and control with my world. Perhaps for the first time ever, I began to grapple with the possibility that the world I live in has a place for me as well as everyone else. For an adult who never viscerally encountered this, the experience is dizzying and surreal. While the feeling of emancipation is nearly dream-like in its’ unprecedented power, the darker possibilities are equally powerful.

I had dealt with harassment on a more indirect and secretive scale before: once, while at a bar I frequented on weekends, I went to the bathroom and made no secret of it. This was a place where many people knew me as my authentic self and I felt no need to avoid using the women’s bathroom. Later, after a full night of drinks, I predictably had to use the ladies’ room again, only that time there was semen all over the toilet seat and the walls. A group of men cackled at me on my way out. At that point in my life I was no stranger to men behaving badly but this was the first time where something uncalled-for was known about and laughed at by a large number of people.

If this is what harassment can look like when a transwomen is still closeted, I began to seriously dread what might lay in store for me after openly transitioning. As I child, I heard stories about friends’ of friends’ who committed suicide and were found dressed in women’s clothing, which for my childhood left me too terrified to ever think about coming out in my hometown. It was a terror I had to overcome in order to come out, but I was now faced with fears that were all the more daunting for their shapelessness.

I had serious moral objections to Hilary Clinton as a Presidential candidate in 2016- Sanders, Stein and Johnson all reflected my values better -but I voted for her on the strength of one thing: her verbal commitment to trans rights. Clearly, I was a one issue voter, but this one issue carried all of my peace of mind with it. Hilary Clinton was one of two potential Presidents and her shot at the oval office alone was enough for me to take her dedication to trans rights seriously. An American President who was unambiguously committed to trans rights was simply too urgent of an issue for me not to vote on. Even Obama, during his first run for President, said that his view on LGBTQ rights was “evolving”- more frank support at that time may have cost him his Presidency. On the historical scale, American LGBTQ equality is new enough to be fragile and is absolutely not to be taken for granted- not then and not now.

At present, these stakes are no lower, but my view of American politics is less clouded by haunting and personal panic. For now it is, anyway. It’s not like there isn’t anything to panic about. We still do not know where the consequences of Trump’s assassination of Soleimani will lead in the end and nuclear war is a clear possibility. We may be mere decades (or years) from global catastrophe due to climate change. And right now the world is in the grip of a global pandemic. The industrial military complex and the fossil fuel industries now constitute existential dangers. Many Americans were already living the reality of our broken health care system and now COVID-19 has made it’s failings absolutely unavoidable.

The stakes right now are absolutely urgent and are complicated by the corruption, amorality and incompetence of the party that is faced with the task of running a candidate against Trump. Issues that I consider too important to ignore- such as the green new deal and avoiding nuclear war -were championed by candidates that the DNC acted together to thwart such as Tulsi Gabbard and Bernie Sanders. Elizabeth Warren seemed like a promising bet as well until her pivot on universal health care made manifest her willingness to be bought. If someone can’t stand up to big pharma, then they have zero potential to resist Wall Street, the fossil fuel industries and the military industrial complex.

Big money carries all of the weight on the mortally threatening sides of issues like climate change and global war and only Bernie Sanders made it clear that he was financially beholden only to ordinary people. I already mentioned in the last entry that, during the last debate before Super Tuesday, Sanders was the only candidate who said he would not defer to the prerogative of the DNC and the super delegates.

It’s been said that the Democratic Party worked harder to defeat Bernie Sanders than any Republican in recent memory. And it’s unavoidably true. Polling data predicted a clear victory for Sanders before Super Tuesday. When the rubber hit the road that night, there were several surprise endorsements and the attendant shifting of their respective bases. Pete Buttigieg, initially committed to sticking it out until the bitter end, received a private phone call from none other than Barack Obama telling him that, if he dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden, then Sanders could be defeated.

Biden, who continues to run on his status as Vice President to Obama, was anointed as a one-man Sanders spoiler. Ever since the very earliest debates there has been a clear institutional preference for a non-threatening “electable” candidate who would be generic enough for widespread appeal. This approach has proven itself unreliable in the last two decades. Bill Clinton won in the early nineties by working across party lines and ever since then bipartisanship has been treated as a path to certain victory for Democrats. In 2016, Hilary Clinton was perceived as approachable to conservatives and independents and less polarizing than Sanders, and therefore a safe choice to run against Donald Trump.

If an institutionally anointed centrist loses against a candidate with the blessing of a social movement, it should not be that hard to do the math. After this latest Primary, though, it’s clear that the DNC still fails to do so. In addition to Biden’s indifference to most issues that I consider urgent, his presumed route to victory is based on a proven failure. If the lessons of the 2016 election aren’t enough, there is also a depressing resemblance to the 2004 race between John Kerry and George W. Bush. Or even the 2012 race between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. Incumbent Presidents have the built-in credibility of their first term and the validated passion of the base that elected them. In 2004 and 2012, institutionally-vetted “safe-bet” candidates failed to win against incumbent Presidents, and this is the strategy that the DNC is poised to implement now.

There is one issue, though, that Joe Biden appears to be firmly committed to that I find difficult to ignore. The Human Rights Campaign recently published an article on their website surveying Biden’s stances on LGBTQ issues. Not only does he express clear support for trans rights but the record of the Obama administration cannot be ignored. The State Department, during the Obama administration, made it significantly easier for trans people to change their names and gender signifiers on passports. In the HRC article, Biden is quoted as saying that he will do anything he can to make legal transition as easy and efficient as possible. He has even gone so far as to say that trans and non-binary people will be able to mark X for their gender on legal documents- no small thing, considering that support for non-binary individuals is frequently perceived as discrediting by the right and political independents.

Joe Biden also said that he would commit to not allowing trans people to be assigned to the prison for their birth sex. The Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was issued guidance during the Obama administration regarding the high risk of rape faced by incarcerated trans people. This was the Transgender Offender Manual, issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, and was rolled back during Trump’s first term in office. In addition to undoing the set-backs implemented by Trump, Biden says that he would even commit to making medically necessary transition-related care such as hormone replacement therapy available to prison inmates and the Justice Department will be tasked with enforcing national compliance with PREA standards. The White House under Joe Biden would also update the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports Supplementary Homicide Reports to record sexual orientation and gender identity, in order to bring more scrutiny to bear on anti-LGBTQ violence.

Considering the threat of violence and harassment many trans people live under, these promises deserve to be taken seriously. At the same time, progressives on the left have begun to perceive left-leaning social issues as distractions or consolation prizes to be offered in the absence of economic, environmental, medical or military policies. When Elizabeth Warren began to lose her clout as a progressive after welching on Medicare for all, she accused Bernie Sanders of being a secret sexist, contrary to his entire political record. This was (correctly, in my opinion) dismissed as an attempt to distract voters from her policy concessions. Warren also began to take up the cause of transwomen placed in men’s prisons shortly before gambling away her credibility.

This had the unfortunate consequence of giving progressives the impression that trans issues and women’s issues are lip-service that neo-liberals use to disguise their willingness to be bought on matters of climate change, foreign policy and economics. Using leftist social issues as a way to pacify the progressive movement that the Democratic establishment attempted to dismiss could have disastrous long-term consequences for the party. As monstrous as the ideas and policies of Trump and his movement are, Trump still knows enough not to alienate his base. The Democratic Party may have scattered its base to the four winds on Super Tuesday while telling them to suck it up and vote blue in the end.

Is it possible to use trans rights or feminism cynically as misdirection or a persuasive bit of lip-service? Absolutely. And I’m certain that Biden is hoping that his commitments to social issues will make up some of his lost ground with progressives. What’s more is that Biden had a pattern of supporting rigid and punitive drug laws in the eighties and remained an enthusiastic supporter of mass incarceration throughout the nineties. Joe Biden also collaborated with Strom Thurmond (yes, Strom fucking Thurmond) on a bill that expanded civil asset forfeiture in relation to drug crimes and, for those convicted, removed the possibility of parole at the federal level. I find this deeply disturbing, especially considering the unconstitutional nature of civil asset forfeiture- for those who don’t know, civil asset forfeiture is when the government seizes money or property because they suspect you are going to use it to commit a crime. The Biden-Thurmond bill expanded the use of civil asset forfeiture in relation to drug crimes.

This record cannot be ignored. But neither can the gains for LGBTQ individuals achieved under the Obama Administration and the extreme to which Trump has advanced anti-LGBTQ legislation. While I may have had a coming-out experience that was way less traumatic than what was endured by my queer elders, there are still vast numbers of American trans people who routinely face housing and employment discrimination and violence. I remain extremely doubtful of Biden’s ability to win against Trump and the pro-Trump social movement and there was never any reason to think that Biden would support a green new deal, anti-interventionism or Medicare for all. If his commitments to LGBTQ equality are to be believed, though, I’ll be happy to see him beat the odds. This is something I would very much like to be wrong about. If Biden was sincerely speaking his own truth in his forward to Sarah McBride’s book, when he stated that trans rights is the Civil Rights issue of our time, I think this deserves to be weighed seriously in balance with the rest of his record. I am disturbed by his lack of serious interest in a green new deal, easing us away from nuclear war or universal health care, but I cannot in good conscious ignore a candidate that may make serious gains for me and those like me.

This expressed support for trans people may drive me to vote blue again. Yet I cannot shake the possibility that this is part of an angle- recently, someone told me about a sales technique in which a customer is allowed to hold an item they want and then have it taken from their hands, or told to put it back. The idea is to give the mark a sense of ownership of the merchandise before they have paid for it, so that they will pay in order to keep the feeling of ownership. Values in an election can be used similarly: we will remove all of your values from our platform except for one- and that one may tempt you to pay with your vote. But with so much at stake that is not being addressed by such a candidate, I might wonder: am I giving my well-being and my dignity as a human being- and all those like me -the serious consideration it deserves, or am I fool?

https://www.hrc.org/resources/joe-biden-on-lgbtq-issues

Sooo the HRC article on Biden’s stance on LGBT issues has been taken down. Because that’s a good sign 😢

Trump Legitimizing Corruption & Democrat Incompetence

So yesterday my girlfriend showed me a Huffington Post article (link below) about Trump owning a stake in Sanofi, the French company that makes a consumer-grade version of hydroxychloroquine, the anti-malarial drug that Trump has repeatedly recommended to fight COVID-19.

The consensus among experts is that hydroxychloroquine is in no way effective against Coronavirus. To get other pertinent facts out up front, Trump has three family trusts and each of them has investments in a mutual fund whose largest holding was in Sanofi. This was quoted at length from a New York Times article- the Huffington Post piece also quoted the financial news site MarketWatch which stated that, while the actual value of the shares collectively owned by his three family trusts ranges somewhere between 100$ and 1500$, those same trusts “hold broader European stock-market index funds”, which means that his holdings in Sanofi could make him far more money. The New York Times source also stated that Wilbur Ross, the Commerce Secretary, also has financial ties to Sanofi.

So it looks like the American President is hawking an anti-malarial drug to treat COVID-19 that he stands to profit from. This is the same President that has made billions from arms deals with the Saudis and has openly used his hotel chain to launder bribes from the Saudis as well (to name just one of his documented clients). Aaaand back in January, Trump coordinated the assassination of a high-ranking Iranian general during peace negotiations in Iraq with a drone, which resulted in Iran openly defying the centrifuge stipulation of the 2015 nuclear agreement and taking part in joint military operations with Russia and China. Shortly after that, Trump deployed 3500 troops to the Middle East.

Consider the scope of criminality that is now being openly legitimized by America’s head of state.

If describing this as legitimizing criminality sounds like a lazy or sweeping generalization, what are we to make of the last Democratic debate among prospective Presidential candidates before Super Tuesday? The candidates were told that, because of the high number of people seeking the Democratic nomination, it was entirely possible that none of them would receive enough Primary votes to constitute a majority. In electoral jargon, a majority is over fifty percent of the votes. If no single candidate receives fifty percent of the votes in the Presidential Primary, but one of them still receives more votes than anyone else, the one with the most votes is said to have a plurality.

On that last debate before the Primary, the candidates were asked if they would be satisfied to concede the nomination to a candidate that got a plurality and, if not, would they be okay with the DNC or the super delegates making their own choice. Remember, a plurality is more votes than anyone else even if none of them has over fifty percent. Like, someone has forty percent and everyone else has less than that. That would be a plurality.

Anyway, every candidate except Bernie Sanders said they would defer to the DNC and super delegates in the event of the plurality. Meaning, even if one candidate clearly had more votes than everyone else, every candidate but Sanders would be okay with the DNC and super delegates making their own decision regardless of the votes. In a Democratic debate on national television, every candidate except Sanders frankly stated that the DNC and super delegates should make the final decision even if one of them got more votes than everyone else.

One of those assenting candidates, of course, is now the presumptive nominee. So that person, who told America on national television that their votes do not matter, is now going to ask for those votes in November while running against Trump. This was on national television and none of the big news stations, MSNBC and Fox and the like, could be bothered to comment on it. I mean…is this a unique depth of cynicism? Openly telling voters that their decision does not matter? It seems that way to me. Does this or does it not mean that Trump has moved the Overton window so far in favor of corruption that Americans have completely ceased to care? Like, not even the barest fig-leaf pretense of not being corrupt?

I know, I know, I know: Ailix, you were just talking about how horrible Trump is, with his profiteering off of COVID-19, accepting massive bribes from the number one state sponsor of Jihadi terrorism and galvanizing a military alliance against America? Surely you’re gonna vote blue in November no matter what? Even if the Democratic nominee openly thinks that democracy is bullshit and will happily play ball with anyone rich enough? Who cares if he shielded his son from the law, Ukraine doesn’t extradite to America, just let them make their own call. Ukraine is a sovereign country, they don’t gotta extradite to anywhere they don’t want to, just mind your own business and vote blue. Surely you can’t be impugning the leadership of the Democratic party? Can you, Ailix? Are you seriously gonna split hairs over a little harmless nepotism after a President who openly launders money, commits war crimes and was known to visit Jeffery Epstein’s private jet?

Sorry, normally I don’t get that bitchy. But on top of being corrupt, I’m also impressed by the sheer incompetence of the Democratic party during the last few years: the Mueller report didn’t effect a damn thing and then they decided to roll the impeachment dice on the phone call to Ukraine over Biden’s son. I mean…they seriously ignored all the emolument shit and collaboration with Saudi Arabia and their support for Jihadi guerillas? They ignored so much legally actionable crime in favor of the phone call to Ukraine? I mean, either the Democratic party has the worst leadership ever or they’re deliberately staying out of Trump’s way.

I also have to admit to how naïve I feel just now: doesn’t everyone know that institutions always serve their own interests in the end? On what grounds am I acting like America is now in a uniquely bad place? I’m Native, aren’t I, surely this can’t be news to me? That the country that carved the faces of its leaders on a mountain range that was the most holy location in an indigenous religion might not be perfectly moral? Aren’t you descended from people who eagerly converted to Christianity because of all the horror stories they heard about those that did not?

I never thought I’d live to see a time where I, of all people, turned out to be too hopeful about America’s moral backbone.

https://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5e8c41d7c5b6e1d10a696280

The assassination of Qasem Soleimani via American drone

Sooo as a lot of you are probably aware, an Iranian general named Qasem Soleimani was recently killed with an American drone. At the time Soleimani was assassinated, he was attending a peace talk with Saudi Arabian representatives hosted by the Prime Minister of Iraq.

An NPR journalist named Jane Arraf tweeted that this peace talk was actually initiated by Trump in an exchange with the Iraqi Prime Minister. Later, the American media ascertained that Soleimani had a travel ban imposed on him that prevented him from entering Iraq: his presence at the peace negotiation was therefore a violation of the ban.

So it’s possible that Donald Trump not only orchestrated the event at which Soleimani was killed, but indirectly caused him to violate his travel ban and place himself beyond the reach of legal and military protection.

When I learned about this nuance I had this huge depth of “what the fuck” going on in my head.

To keep my reaction somewhat concise: I think the American public has underestimated Donald Trump. Specifically, they have overlooked the difference between lacking wisdom and possessing base cunning. I don’t necessarily think this level of planning is terribly sophisticated, but it does show a little bit of thoughtful calculation. In addition to the obvious moral bankruptcy. Donald Trump lacking wisdom or morality should not cause anyone to think he is not dangerous. At the very least, this reveals a depth of malevolence that goes beyond ordinary self-interest.

My level of shocked incredulity also for awhile made me forget something both terrible and obvious: Trump never made any secret of his disposition. He said over and over again, prior to his election in 2016, that he wanted to “go after” the “families” of terrorists. In essence, making it clear that he is prepared to kill civilians in the Middle East. He even crassly expressed support for police brutality during a Bill O’Reilly interview. He never gave us any reason to expect anything else from him.

I also felt like an idiot because we’ve all known that warhawks in Washington have been jonesing for a war with Iran. But I’ve been assuming that they would seize an opportunity to go to war with Iran if one presented itself. I was too naive to consider the possibility that they would actually orchestrate it on their own. And this brazenly. I mean, if Trump wasn’t suggesting the peace talk to get Soleimani to violate his travel ban so he could kill him then why did he suggest it?

Think I’m catastrophising? Let’s consider the arguments to the contrary: Mike Pence has since stated that the White House has intelligence that Soleimani was involved in 9/11 and he therefore needed to die. When pressed for clarification, Pence said that the information they received suggested that it was possible that troops trained by Soleimani may have fought against America during the 2003 Iraq invasion. You know, that thing that occurred after 9/11 and later proved itself pointless when it was made clear that Saddam never co-operated with the 9/11 hijackers. So no, the information Pence was referring to does not hold water or even any relevance.

Oh hey, while we’re on the subject, do you know where the majority of the 9/11 hijackers came from and were radicalized? Saudi Arabia. You know. The country that Trump has made multi-billion dollar weapon deals with. The country that executed an American journalist and had nothing but co-operation from Trump. That is the country the hijackers were from.

Not to sell short the bottomless loss and mourning that’s bound to ensue from these events, but I wanna talk about my personal reaction. For me this is the latest in a series of “what the fuck” moments. The one before this was learning that we might, optimistically, have maybe a few decades before the real consequences of climate change start ramping up. That has been my highest political priority ever since then. Now, in my dark moments, I wonder if homo sap will even last long enough to die from floods and hurricanes before we vaporize ourselves.

Oh yeah, and Iran is now participating in joint military operations with Russia and China. Iran is also now ignoring the centrifuge stipulation of the 2015 nuclear agreement. Sooooo I….don’t want this to mean that we’re walking right up to the brink of annihilation…but….but….but…but…

What if we never sufficiently internalize the possibility of our shared extinction until the moments before which it is inevitable? This is the price of avoiding the possibility of death and catastrophe. Death is scary and it’s therefore tempting to act like it doesn’t exist.

The problem with such indulgences is that they can add up to cumulative disasters. I remember after Trump got elected a lot of friends on social media were saying things like “Your world won’t end, this doesn’t have to be a disaster, we just have to ride it out.” If every bad political decision is an innocent mistake then what do you do with a million innocent mistakes? Are we always gonna say “we’ll do better tomorrow” up until the point where there is no tomorrow?

I want these thoughts to be mistaken so badly. I would like nothing more than to be proven wrong on this in the long run.