Making News and Pissing Off The Powerful!

I’m proud to say I was at the Indivisible rally, Rachell Maddow mentioned in last night’s show. I’m not a huge presence, I’m just the guy to the right-hand side of the screen of the Portland rally holding the RESIST sign. However, I feel good knowing that that crowd was one person larger because of me.

We all need to come out. We all need to show up and make our voices heard. Every voice must count, every sign must be held up high if we are going to have an impact on the plutocrats who currently sit in power.

Thanks for the shout out, Rachel.

RESIST!

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Republicans, Where Is The Utopia?

This is a serious question I’m starting to ask conservatives I know (who will still talk to me). With Republicans in control of the US House, Senate, Presidency, and holding a dominant five to four seats on the Supreme Court, where is the utopia the GOP promised the American voter? After all, they are in the driver’s seat, so it’s fair to ask, “Are we there yet?”

Please keep in mind, Republicans didn’t suddenly get behind the wheel in November of 2016. It’s not just at the federal level that Republicans are in control of our national destiny. The majority of state governors are Republican by a margin of 33 to 16 (with one Independent). And in the state legislators, only nine states are firmly in Democratic hands, while seven are split. That’s a grand total of thirty-four states that don’t have to bow to any “libtard agenda” and are free to do things the right-wing way.

So, Republican leaders, I ask, where is the utopia? Now, I know that sounds like a rather vague question, so I’ll be happy to clarify.

First off, I’d like to ask, where are the jobs? Low taxes on the rich and deregulation of our industries were supposed to bring back those high-wage industrial jobs that went overseas decades ago. But when an average guy like me looks at the job market, I see two categories: minim wage and executive salaries with stock options…and nothing in between. And since the demand for business executives is much smaller than the demand for wage-slaves, I’m pretty certain I know which jobs most of us are going to get. So, like I said…where are the jobs?

Secondly, why isn’t the world a safer place for America? Tough talk directed at “little rocket-man” has yet to de-nuclearize the Korean peninsula. The so-called Islamic State is still committing acts of terror worldwide. Afghanistan is losing ground to the Taliban daily. And the Chinese and Russians are expanding their territorial control in the South China Sea and Ukraine respectively. All of this despite our military budget that dwarfs all other nations by leaps and bounds. So…why aren’t we safer around the world?

Also, with the world’s largest prison population, I have to ask, why aren’t we safer at home? Almost every time I hear a Republican pundit speak, their rhetoric is filled with dire gloom and doom about the criminal-aliens and rapists that are currently threatening our citizens. Obama even tried to placate this bombast by deporting a record number of non-citizen taxpayers under his administration (although the GOP willfully ignored that little fact). So now, with the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio and a tough-on-crime guy like Jeff Sessions in the seat of Americans top law enforcement office…why aren’t we safer at home?

And when I ask these questions, I can hear the crickets chirping. So, in my humble opinion, it’s well past time Republicans put-up or shut-up! If they want to push back against liberal complaints regarding their handling of the government, they need to show us all the utopia they promised.

I will not accept that they haven’t had enough time in office to get the job done. Because, when you look at their decades’ long dominance of state government and the US Congress, that argument shows itself for the cop-out it is. Keep in mind that since the dawn of the new millennium, the Democrats have been in control of Congress for only four years (2006 to 2010).

Republicans have had more than ample time to right this ship and sail us to the land of grit and gumption prosperity that they have always promised the American voter. But when you look around, you notice things are not so good. The good jobs aren’t coming back. The world is not safer and neither are our neighborhoods. So it’s long past time we stopped listening to these Pied Pipers of the right, and steer our course in a new direction, or at least put a stop to all the GOP back paddling from utopia.

By Clayton J. Callahan

The Dunning Kruger Effect Meets…The Donald

Okay, first off this is NOT a post to bash conservatives or the GOP per-se (I know, I’m breaking pattern). Actually, I strongly do believe America needs a smart and thriving conservative party to keep our nation balanced. Also, to my fellow lefties, know this is a warning. Please don’t feel smug…it could happen to us too.

So, just what is the “Dunning/Kruger effect and what does it have to do with Donald Trump?”

Basically, Dunning/Kruger is a term psychologist use to describe how people who know very little about a subject believe they know a lot, and how people who know a lot about a subject think they know very little.

Immagine an ancient shepherd watching the heavens as he herds his sheep. He sees the sun rises in the east and set in the west every day with never a miscommunication. To him, it is obvious that the sun revolves around the Earth, and he may scoff at anyone who says differently. This guy would be at one end of the Dunning/Kruger spectrum.

At the other end is a modern astrophysicist. She spends her life studying the mountain of data that has been learned since ancient times and the large hills of data that continue to arrive in her lab daily. In fact, she often stands in awe at how big the universe is and how small her understanding is in comparison. She could explain to our ancient shepherd the true relationship between Earth and its star quite easily. After all, she knows a lot and is still learning more every day.

Now, she could explain to our ancient shepherd the true relationship between Earth and its star quite easily. After all, she knows a lot about it, but suppose instead of just accepting her knowledge he challenges her?

Suppose he argues with her assertion about his own ideas on this whole Earth/sun thing?

The shepherd asks her question after question until the astrophysicist has to give him an honest answer like, “I don’t know why gravity exists, I can only explain how it works.” At this point, the shepherd declares victory. His Earth-centered sun theory is obviously superior to hers because, to him, it explains everything, and her ideas still have a few holes in them.

Throughout this allegorical debate, we learn the astrophysicist was arguing with a crippling disadvantage from the very start. That’s right, the ignorant hold the advantage over the knowledgeable in an argument–every time.

You see, the knowledgeable have to work hard to describe the nuances and technicalities that are often hard to explain to the laymen. The ignorant, however, need only give glib responses that appeal to “common sense” and are unburdened with those pesky facts that need explaining or rules that have exceptions.When was the last time I saw the Dunning/Kruger effect in action? It was the last time I listened to a Republican debate.

Keep in mind, the GOP fielded some bright folks last year. Although I often disagree with the likes of Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Marco Rubio, I will admit these are sharp guys who have thought long and hard about their positions as they relate to American policy. The Donald, however…not so much.

Using glib phrases, insults, and sheer bravado, Donald Trump became the GOP’s 2016 presidential nominee. In debates, he made mincemeat out of his opponents and the crowd loved him for it. This despite the fact that Trump has no political experience, is not a war hero, lacks a basic understanding of international affairs, and can only stand on a questionable business career as any kind of qualification to be the leader of the free world. The educated among the GOP are aghast that this ignoramus is leading their party and form the core of the “Never Trump” movement (and I respect them). Who supports the Donald? Well, mostly the poorly educated, yet enthusiastic conservative voters who never think to ask what he means when he says he’s out to “make America great again.”

Could this have happened on the Democratic side of our nation? You bet your butt. History is full of leaders on the left and right who have galvanized the uneducated masses, assumed power, and then run their respective countries into the ground. And only a liberal who is ignorant of history would say differently.

Folks, I am as certain as a well informed and educated man can be that Trump is about to repeat some history…and I do not wish to stand by and watch. We, the knowledgeable (hampered as we may be by the Dunning/Kruger effect), must, never the less, try to explain to our fellow Americans where this ignorance is leading us. I am not just talking to my fellow liberals either. Conservatives of intellect must oppose Trump, for you righties that have studied history also know what happens when it repeats.

To liberals, I have to say, don’t get cocky. Get educated! Do not let the glib leader with the easy answers ever have sway over our side or we will fall into the same trap. Remember, we are all human folks, and equally subject to the laws of nature, Dunning/Kruger included.

 

Happy Second Amendment Day…AKA another mass shooting in America

As I write this, the news is still buzzing with the fallout of the Texas Church Shooting, where a lone gunman killed twenty-six people in a small, Texas church. Of course, less than three weeks ago we had the LasVegas Mass Shooting where fifty-eight people lost there lives and hundreds more were wounded, again by a lone gunman.

I want to sympathize with the survivors. I want to offer them my support in every way I can, I really do. However, I find I lack the endless supply of emotions that would require for the rest of my life. You see, sad and terrible as these incidents are, I know there will be more, and I have to steel myself against the next one, and the next, lest I wallow in constant despair until my dying day.

Why more shootings, and how do I know there will be a next one? Is it because of some apocalyptic belief I have that society is falling apart?

No, it is because I know we, as a society, will do NOTHING about it. There will be no expanded mental health services, there will be no gun control laws, there will be absolutely nothing done to stop, or even slow down this bloodbath in the United States.

Nothing.

Which isn’t to say we couldn’t do something. As liberals are frequent to point out, Australia instituted strong gun control laws after a mass shooting in the 1990s and has had no problems of that scale since, so we could follow their example. We could also use our tax dollars to fund mental health services so that even poor people could get help before somebody snaps. But I know we won’t do either of those things because the people with the money and the power in this country simply don’t care.

After all, it’s not the rich and influential who die in these atrocities. Just regular folk. Now, I know that sounds harsh, and you may think I exaggerate.

I don’t.

Think back to the nightmare that was the Sandy Hook Shooting. Average Americans of all political persuasions were clamoring for Congress to do something–ANYTHING–to keep that horror from happening again. And yet Congress did nothing because their donors (sometimes spelled owners) saw no profit in it.

Face it, the NRA hasn’t represented gun owners for decades. They represent gun manufacturers, and gun sales always spike when the NRA spreads fear that “the Government is coming to take your gun!” As to mental health services…well, they cost money. Big money owners, oops, I should have said donors, like the Koch Brothers, want their taxes so low they can pay them in pennies. So with that priority in mind, there is no way they’re going to chip in their fair share so some poor sod can get his anti-depressant meds. These powerful people own our Congress, and when they say “jump” Senators are already off the ground before Congressmen can ask “how high?”

Now, if we lived in a democracy where the government was responsible to the people, something would probably get done. Perhaps we would not be as successful as Austrailia, but fewer deaths can easily be viewed as a good thing, right? But we don’t live in a democracy, and nothing is going to be done unless we can change that.

With that in mind, we may as well get used to it.

So, happy Second Amendment Day, America! What the hell? Our newest national holiday might as well be celebrated. After all, it comes several times a year.

 

A Book I Highly Recomend

How The Right Lost Its Mind by Charles J. Sykes may just be the best book I’ve read all year.

Mr. Sykes is a conservative commentator with whom I have almost nothing in common. He’s for “school choice,” the unrestricted ownership of firearms,  “small government,” and has a high opinion of Ronald Regan. And yet, now, in the age of Trump, he and I have something we can and do agree upon.

Specifically, we agree that the American right has gone cuckoo-for-Coca-Puffs.

Yet, apparently, there are still some Republicans, like Mr. Sykes, who continue to acknowledge the existence of facts. Just imagine, conservatives who have yet to abandon their principals in the face of Trump’s constant lying and race-baiting.

And, in his book, Sykes not only holds up a flag and cries that the sensible right still exists, he illustrates how the nutcase fringe took over the conservative movement and thus, the Republican Party. He delves into the negative effects of Fox News, Infowars, and Brightbart, to reveal them for the charlatans they are. And he also provides great insight for a liberal like me, into how this alternative-facts universe works to keep Americans from having sane left to right conversations anymore.

Weirdly, I find myself agreeing with Sykes a lot; because, in the end, he and I want the same thing.  You see, fellow liberals, I actually want there to be a good, strong, and sane conservative movement thriving in this country. And I want those sane, fact-based, conservatives to challenge our liberal assumptions.  Because a free America to me resembles an intellectual jungle, where only the best and strongest ideas survive.

I am confident/arrogant enough to believe that liberal policies can and do stand up to such intellectual scrutiny more often than not. So, I do not fear a strong and sane conservative movement, but instead, welcome the challenge. But to have that, we must first cast out the illiterate arguments of an insane fringe right who have seized control of our government.

Oh, and we must also guard against the insane fringe into our own camp. After all, it does no good to defeat an enemy only to become like them. And that is what happened when the right lost its mind.

.

 

America’s New Civil War: Conservatives vs. Reason

This is by someone called Craig T. I don’t know who he is, but I know he’s right!

You Republicans spent 50 years nourishing a racist beast, and now that the beast has grown so that it’s about to devour your party, you want to wash your hands of it.
No… I’m afraid not… This is your baby.
From Barry Goldwaters anti civil rights crusade of 1964 all the way till today, you knew what you were doing.
When Ronald Reagan talked about “welfare queens”, you knew what he was doing. You defended him.
When George HW Bush ran the Willie Horton add, you knew what he was doing. You defended him.
When Rick Santorum bitched about “making black peoples lives better by giving them someone else’s money”, you knew what he was doing. You applauded him.
When Newt Gingrich referred to Obama as the “food stamp President”, you knew what he was doing. You cheered for him.
When you defended the waving of the Confederate flag and Confederate monuments, you knew what ideologies you were appealing to.
When Republican after Republican took to the stage to say, suggest, or imply that Obama was a Muslim and a Kenyan, you knew exactly who they were trying to appeal to. and you applauded them.
Now, 50 years on, your elected officials can’t even speak out against the KKK and Neo Nazis for fear of a primary challenge from the “Alt Right”.
Donald Trump bitch slapped you and took your party from you and handed it over to the beast that you’d been riding and toying with for 50 years.
You can no longer claim that the KKK doesn’t belong to you…. That the Neo Nazis don’t belong to you.
The gloves are off and there’s no more “code words” and “catch phrases” to hide behind.
I don’t feel sorry for you and I don’t give you “credit” for disavowing them now.
Because you should’ve been disavowing it for the 50 years that you were playing the “Southern strategy” game.
It’s too late. You bore this baby, you weened it, fed it, raised it to maturity….
We won’t let you walk away from it now.
The President that you nominated and elected while watching him blatantly race bait his way to power, has taken sides with the KKK and Neo Nazis over the people who would dare protest against them.
We will NEVER let you forget that you supported him while he was calling Mexicans rapist.
That you supported him while he was bragging about grabbing women’s pussies.
That you supported him while he was calling into question the birth origin of the first black president.
That you supported him while he was saying that a Mexican American judge couldn’t be impartial to adjudicate his case because of his ethnicity.
That you supported him when he wanted a blanket ban on an entire religion from entering the country.
We will NEVER let you forget.
Trump and the racism that he brought with him belongs to ALL of you Republicans.
Craig T.

And So It Begins

As I write this it is May 17th, 2017 and The Donald is having a very BAD day. Not that I consider that a bad thing for me of course 🙂

It started this morning when Congressman Al Green of Texas called for Trump’s impeachment on the house floor. As you may be aware, impeachment proceedings must begin in the US House of Representatives before the matter can proceed to the US Senate for trial. Rep. Green’s brave stand made that now possible, and I was quick to call my representative and encourage her to support Green.

And then the day got better.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special prosecutor overseeing the investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election! This is something I’ve been pestering elected officials to do for months. We have desperately needed an independent legal authority to dig into Trump’s Russian dirt. Someone with the power to subpoena his tax returns and compel witnesses to testify, and now we have such a person.

And then the day got even better.

The Washington Post reported that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy apparently was recorded telling colleagues that he thinks Putin “pays” Trump! The recording has him making the assertion in a conversation with fellow lawmakers ― including House Speaker Paul Ryan ― months before the election! Now the question is not just, “What did the president know and when did he know it?” but “Hey, what about that speaker guy…what did he know and when?” This has the potential to rip apart the entire Republican establishment in Washington root and branch, and I have my popcorn ready.

And then it got even better still!

According to the site Real Clear Politics, Trump’s approval rating has once more dipped down into the 30s. He now has an average approval rating of 39.8, a low he has been at just once before. However, his disapproval is now higher than ever with an average of 55% of Americans giving him the thumbs-down. Keep in mind that every DC politician wants to hitch their trailer to a star, not a rock. If this tailspin is maintained, Trump will lose every ally he has in congress and Mr. Green’s impeachment vote will almost certainly find favor. This is especially true if our new best friend  Robert Mueller finds significant evidence of wrongdoing.

In short, it’s been a very, very good day for the resistance and a very bad one for the Orange Baboon.

So, what am I going to do to celebrate? Nothing! The war is not yet won. The Resistance must struggle on. We now have momentum, and we dare not squander it. We must keep calling our elected officials. We must keep writing letters to our editors. We must keep marching, and we must keep reaching out to our fellow citizens to oppose Trump.

Keep fighting until the fight is won, people. And take strength from every good day!

 

By Clayton Callahan

Hearts and Minds in the War Against Trump

I know it’s amazing to those of us who actually pay attention to what’s going on in this country, but just over 40% of our fellow Americans still think Trump is doing a good job. In fact, he even rates high with this group when asked specific questions like, “Is Trump keeping his promises,” or “Are manufacturing jobs returning since Trump became president.” This is according to the site Real Clear Politics, by the way, which you can find at…

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/president_trump_job_approval-6179.html

Now, I don’t mean to depress you, gentle reader. Rather I wish to inspire you to action! An action that you can take in small ways every day. Face it, senators and congressmen can be hard to reach but a living, breathing Trump supporter is much easier to get in touch with. And that is an opportunity we all must seize upon.

How many Facebook friends have we “unfriended” since November 8th, 2016? If you’re like me the answer is quite a few.  But looking back, I now realize these were tactical mistakes. In fact, we need to be in communication with these Trump supporting friends now more than ever. The longer Trump remains in the White House, the more promises he breaks and the more mistakes he makes. You can rest assured that Fox News won’t make your Republican buddy aware of all Trump’s cockups…but you can. Honest dialog is our best chance to degrade Trump’s support and we need to be engaging in it.

I recommend you keep it as polite as possible. Phrase things in a way that will appeal to the Trump supporter: “You know I’m as patriotic as you, that’s why this Russian thing really has me concerned. What do you think?” Plant that seed of truth and nourish it. As it stands, Trump is too popular for the GOP lead House of Representatives to move to impeach him. We must, therefore, undermine that popularity one citizen at a time until it becomes politically possible for them to kick him to the curb.

At no time in his presidency has Trump been at less than 39% approval. I challenge each and every knowledgeable American to work to get that number to under 20%. This is a war we can win, folks, but to do so, we’re going to have to start talking to people on the other side.

Good luck to us all.

 

By Clayton Callahan

Investigation Theater- Starring Richard Burr

Years ago I took a job as a security guard at a factory, and it counts as my only acting job to date. You see, we guards were instructed to check worker’s passes, make sure doors were locked and keep a sharp eye out for safety violations. However, whenever we did that, the workers would lodge a grievous to management. And as we were only expendable contract employees, management consistently sided with its own workers, and the guards got reprimanded every time.

So we turned a security guard job into an exercise in “security theater.” With polished shoes, we walked the factory halls so all could see our shiny badges. But we did nothing, nothing at all. For eight hours at a crack, we pretended to be performing a function when in fact we were staying out of trouble by hiding in plain sight. And it worked perfectly. No more reprimands and everybody kept their jobs.

And now as I watch our elected officials in Washington, I see the same show performed. Our Senator Burr is head of the senate intelligence committee, and he is a Republican. Faced with the vital mission of investigating the Russian involvement in the election of a Republican president, he realizes this could get him in trouble.

So what does our senator do? He puts on a play! Although the investigation into the demise of American democracy has been going for three months, no evidence has been uncovered by the committee. This is not a surprise as no full-time staffer has been assigned to the investigation, and of the seven staffers (who each sort of work part time on it) none are lawyers. At this rate, I am reasonably sure Senator Richard Burr can maintain the charade for the next four years when he can once again count on the help of a foreign dictator to keep the GOP in power.

Bravo, Senator Burr. Bravo!

 

By Clayton Callahan

Liberals, It’s Time We Came Together…Right Now.

So, last month I gave some of my hard earned cash to a guy named Rob Quist.

Who the heck is Rob Quist you may ask? He’s the democratic candidate for congress in Montana’s special election which will be held on May 25th, 2017.

Now, do I live in Montana?

Nope, I’ve never even been to the Treasure State. So why did I give money to a man who won’t even be my actual representative if he wins? Because, people, now is the time for all of us liberals to band together and FIGHT! Conservatives have been doing this for years and kicking our butts good and hard in the process. Donated money flowing across state lines beefed up the GOP’s congressional dominance that we now suffer under.

We, liberals, however, have not been doing this. Instead, we were content to merely vote every FOUR years and kept our money mostly in our own pockets. We also felt safe in the knowledge that Barack Obama would prevent anything truly crazy from happening in Washington, and we thought it best not to meddle in our “red state” neighbor’s business.

And look where that got us!

Recently, Bernie Sanders has been going around the country with prominent Democratic leaders in an attempt to unify liberals against a common foe. And as he does this, his Democratic teammates get heckled with cries of, “Bernie would have won!” And you know, it’s possible he might have won. And it’s also obvious the DNC played dirty to support Hillary over him.

And you know what…as of this point in the story, none of that matters a tinker’s damn!

The past is over, and if I could magically call a “do-over” for the entire 2016 election, you’re darn right I’d wave my wand to do just that. But I obviously can’t change the past. And, fellow liberals, the future is rushing upon us. It’s a dark future that’s coming too; where our basic rights are to be stripped away along with the natural environment we live in.

Is Rob Quist my specific kind of liberal?

Beats the crap out of me. He’s a friggin country western singer turned political-wannabe for Christ’s sake. However, I do know he’s anti-Trump, and I do know that we need as many men and women of that ilk as we can find in government right now.

Liberals like to chant, “A people united will never be defeated.” Cool. Let us test that theory. Let us unite behind every and any like minded soul who’s out there opposing Trump so that we may push back this darkness and let in the light of a better future for all.

And let’s do it NOW!

 

By Clayton Callahan