The breaking point is near… the breaking point is here.

José Andrés, another famous chef, went to Puerto Rico immediately after Hurricane Maria, to help figure out how to feed the people. Instead of figuring it out, he and his associates found themselves simply doing it, from the moment they landed. Actually before they landed, in calls to as many chefs as he could reach there, the plan was, “Let’s not plan, let’s not meet, let’s start cooking!” FEMA didn’t grasp the urgency of it. It wasn’t about “how to feed the people in the weeks to come.” It was how to feed the people NOW.

I am learning about this from a TED Talk (“How a team of chefs fed Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria”) right now. I love TED Talks. They keep me sane.

So, the first Monday they were there, they did a thousand meals. By the following Sunday, they were doing 25,000. They kept outgrowing their spaces. 25,000 became 50,000. They moved their operation to the Coliseum. They became the biggest restaurant in the world. They were making close to 70,000 meals a day. From one location alone.

Volunteers showed up by the hundreds. At any given moment, 700 volunteers were working on feeding the hungry. This was not plastic food. It was real food, food that people recognized, food that brought comfort, as well as sustenance.

Get this: at one point, FEMA was actually asking him, “How are you able to do this? How are you able to get the food to prepare?” He replied, “Simple: by calling, and paying, and getting.”

And at this point in this Talk, I just paused and cried for a few minutes. I don’t like crying! But every day I’m simply stunned, at some point during the day, by what our current president and his administration are doing to this country. And what they are NOT doing FOR our country. And Puerto Rico is part of this country. What they did there should be enough for every one of them to be impeached at the very least, or perhaps sentenced to death. Instead, they skate by, lying their way out of one accountability after another.

When it comes to people, families, feeding people, making sure that people have roofs over their heads, that the sick are being cared for, that people have at least some glimmer of hope for a meal and a place to lay down their heads… these are the bedrocks of basic civilization anywhere, everywhere. And in this country? We don’t even think about these things, because we take them so for granted. So to look at these people here, in Puerto Rico, or the people (yes, people!) rounded up at the southern US border, separating parent from child so that we can then apply our “unaccompanied minor” handling protocol… these things are NOT the marks of a civilized country, they are NOT something to be proud of, they are NOT Christian or Muslim or Jewish or atheists’ values! They are an absence of values, an absence of morals or ethics, an absence of a backbone or a soul or a heart.

The things that our government is doing (or not doing) are not normal, not acceptable. Don’t be fooled! It’s not anyone else’s fault. It’s not Obama’s fault. It’s not the Democrats’ fault. It’s not the law’s fault. It’s the people in charge, and the people in charge right now, who are causing all of these things to happen, are Donald Trump and his administration, Paul Ryan and his party loyalists in the House, and Mitch McConnell and his loyalists in the Senate. These people don’t need to be impeached; they must be tried for treason, and, once found guilty as they are, sentenced to the same sentence given to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, or to Sacco and Vanzetti. Their crimes have already cost thousands of lives, and have perhaps irreparably harmed the nation’s economy (the real economy, the people’s economy), the environment, and the entire future of the United States.

At this point, there is no idly sitting by, watching it through a lorgnette. To paraphrase even George W Bush – demonized a few short years ago, who now looks like a saint by comparison – “Everyone has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with Trump.” There is no middle ground. There is no “Let’s wait and see,” no “give him a chance.” All of that is behind us now. The wait is over. The chance has been given. At every conceivable opportunity – and more often than not, even before we were aware that there was an opportunity – the path that leads the opposite direction from all grace and goodness has been chosen as the path all of us are by implication forced to take.

Are you comfortable being labeled as the generation, or the era, or the society, that allowed this to happen? I am not. I don’t want to get arrested, or lose my job, or lose my home. I don’t want to die. But I don’t want to sit on my fucking ass either, as if there is nothing to be done. At some point, in spite of the horrendous risks, there necessarily comes a point at which no more can be tolerated. I have a high tolerance, and a lot of trust in “the system;” trust that things will work out, eventually. But this is a terrific test we are being put through. I don’t know how much more bending the entire system can take, without actually breaking. I feel that we are getting precipitously close to that threshold.

When things finally do break, as they ultimately will, it’s never a pretty sight. It’s never better than it would have been had things been arrested just prior to breaking. It’s always better to stop when it’s still bending. But we have to accept that it’s going to break. We have to accept that we are at the limit. We can’t have some say, “No, I think we are not there yet. I think we can go a little further.”

Do we really have to wait till it actually breaks before we all acknowledge that the limit was reached? Granted, there’s still wiggle room while it’s bending. He said this, she said that. “We’re not that close. It’s still in flux. It’s still working. It’s still…”

SNAP!

Is that what we’re all waiting for?

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John Bolton explains travel ban’s rationale

Bolton discusses Trump travel ban
I have yelled at John Bolton on numerous occasions before (well, at the TV anyway). I am not a big supporter. He’s a Republican, after all. So please understand this perspective from the get-go as I post this.

That being said, I was tracing certain political contributions this morning and wound up on this site: John Bolton PAC. I read the article. Here, in a few brief words, he has for the first time (to my thinking) made some bit of sense out of restricting travel to the U.S. from certain specific countries.

In the opening paragraph: “Either they [the countries included in the ban] don’t function as governments like Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, in which case they can’t possibly supply credible information about people claiming to come from their country, or they’re places like Syria and Iran where I wouldn’t trust what they say anyway.”

I agree with this. I also agree with his closing statement, that “[The ban] shows a structural defect in the transition because much of this was done in the White House without cabinet secretaries and key departments…”

If Trump would listen to intelligent people from outside his enclave, people who actually have experience in the areas he’s focusing on, he could begin to play a credible role in setting the direction for the country over the next four years. Further, if he would take his presumed role as everyone’s president seriously, and not just the president to his cronies, and actually tried to engage with people outside of his immediate sphere of influence, people who may not at all be on the same page as him, it would go a long way toward healing some of the divides that he himself has instead fomented.

His refusal to take these steps or to proceed in a disciplined manner is at the core of my personal resentment and resistance toward everything he has done so far. In international politics as well as domestic affairs, our culture has advanced so far beyond “throwing it against the wall to see if it sticks,” we simply can’t tolerate the President of the United States utilizing this caveman-like “method.” It’s at best an ineffective waste of time, and at worst a total disaster, bringing key systems, relationships, functioning processes and operations grinding to a halt while he figures out that what he thought would work wouldn’t work, didn’t work, and can’t work.

Is Trump really the Republican candidate?

Trump - Branson - Clinton
A recent Dailykos article captured Richard Branson’s reflections on two meetings, one with Donald Trump, and one with Hillary Clinton (Richard Branson: Trump said he would destroy those who wouldn’t help him after he went bankrupt). Very telling contrast, which we’ve seen over and over again over the last year. Well… most of us have seen it. There are still those who – bizarrely – fail to recognize Trump for what he is.

I do think however that it is counterproductive to refer to the two individuals (as this article did) as “the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and the Republican nominee Donald Trump.” While Hillary may well be the Democratic nominee, the Republican party (those that have balls), and almost all of the died in the wool Republicans that I know, feel that Trump has usurped the Republican party for his own platform. He has taken the name and run with it, neither understanding nor respecting what the party grew out of.

Sadly, the Tea Party did the same thing previously. Both of these movements have left the Republican party in tatters. It can’t even recognize itself any more, let alone have a commanding presence in the political arena.

I am a Democrat. A sort of independent-Democrat. But I totally depend on there being at least two parties in the national conversation. Without that, we’re too often talking to ourselves, patting ourselves on the back, thinking we have all the answers, and yet leaving wide swaths of answer undelivered.

There are always different viewpoints. The bell curve keeps coming up time and time again because on almost any subject, there’s a mass of people clustered around the middle, with fewer and fewer outliers in either direction. If the goal of a political party is to garner as much support for its position as possible, it would seem that a Democratic party that’s one standard deviation to the left of the center, and a Republican party that’s one SD to the right, would be about the right place to be.

As both parties – but particularly the Republican party – pick themselves up and dust themselves off after this election, it is my greatest hope that the leadership of both parties will consider this reality and try to position themselves once again to be strong, identifiable, cohesive forces, each with an agenda, but not so far apart that they cannot possibly reconcile on the issues before them.

From this perspective, we might still achieve much of the kind of growth the Republicans seem bent on, without losing the care and egalitarianism focus of the Democratic party. In the real world, we can’t afford to have clear winners, because that entails clear losers as well. We must always strive to do the best we can, for most of the people, and not leave any to be sacrificed to “progress.”

Is expectation of men’s solidarity misplaced in light of Trump sex tape?

I don’t believe I have any women friends (or any other friends, for that matter) who are Trump supporters. So I don’t believe this jab is directed at anyone I know.

That being said… isn’t it awfully myopic, selfish and xenophobic for a good number of women to say that now, finally, with the discovery of “the Trump tape,” a line has been drawn in the sand and Trump has stepped over it? To say that “it’s a sign of how under-appreciated we [women] are?”

Don’t you think it was true that earlier statements were signs of “how under-appreciated Mexicans are,” or “how under-appreciated Muslims are,” or “how under-appreciated [insert name of any number of groups Trump has slammed publicly] are?”

Were you not willing to stand behind Mexicans, Muslims, the disabled, or others in solidarity because you are not a member of any of those groups? Why now all of a sudden do you expect men to stand behind women in solidarity? They are not members of that group either.

I know that Republicans especially like to talk about the Bible. But they sure like to pick and choose. We could go to Matthew 25:45 for the very lesson that pertains here:

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for Me.”

Anyone who is only now deciding to abandon Trump or – perhaps worse – remains undecided, has to ask themselves what they truly do believe in. Because it surely does not appear to be “love of neighbor,” or “basic human goodness” that they believe in. It must be something else entirely.

This article is in part in response to:
“You deserve every charge of sexism thrown at you”: a conservative activist quits GOP after Trump tape [from vox.com]

Dallas police attack is the deadliest attack on U.S. law enforcement since …

The Dallas police attack has been alternately called “the deadliest attack on law enforcement since 9/11” and “the deadliest attack FOR law enforcement since 9/11.”

By “for,” what they mean is that among all of those who were killed, the community of law enforcement also suffered its greatest loss.

However, the 9/11 attack itself, of course, did not target the 72 law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the attack along with hundreds of other people.

The previous largest attack ON law enforcement – which I think is far more relevant to discuss – was the attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, an attack in which federal law enforcement officers from specific agencies were specifically targeted.

Bringing 9/11 into the discussion only serves to link Dallas to another image of shock and awe. It demonstrates careless reporting, as it does nothing to further the understanding of the current event. It is regrettable that it – 9/11 – was chosen as the reference point, rather than the OK City bombing, which shared a motivation similar to the Dallas attack.

Fracking Citizens United!

Fracking Citizens United!

Constitutional convention

A growing number of articles are surfacing of late indicating that there is a movement to “overturn the Supreme Court decision on Citizens United.” But that’s not possible, and that’s not what’s happening.

Only a higher court can overturn a court’s decision. As the highest court in the land, however, there’s no higher court to overturn a U.S. Supreme Court decision. It’s the end of the road, the authoritative opinion, on constitutional law.

The CU decision occurred the way it did because the framework, the specific wording and – we trust – the framers’ intent allowed the Constitution to be interpreted in that way by the people we have empowered to make such determinations.

So what do we do? We do what we, the people are empowered to do, following the procedure laid out for us in the Constitution itself: we frack Citizens United. We inject something new into the Constitution by means of an Amendment, so that the very same questions which resulted in the unwanted decision of CU, when asked of this new version of the law, must necessarily be decided in a different way.

I think it’s important to realize this difference. We are not overturning Citizens United. That decision, based on the Constitution as it was (and still is, currently), still stands. Assuming the necessary Amendment becomes law, there could still arise a situation in which the Supreme Court is again charged with determining whether the Constitution allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts on political campaigns. Now, however, they will be holding that decision over a newly revised Constitution, and will hopefully come up with different results.

Our goal in inserting the Amendment therefore is to make sure that it is robust enough that its intent is unequivocal. That for purposes of electoral campaigns, corporations’ spending can in fact be limited, and must be, in accordance with the new Constitution. Order will be restored, people will once again have their voice, and a feeling of wellness will once again settle over the land.

Arkansas Johnny Rhoda gets what’s due

The Arkansas GOP official who claimed Hillary Clinton would “probably get shot at the state line” if she ran for president resigned on Wednesday.

Republican Party Chair Doyle Webb said in a statement that Johnny Rhoda turned in his resignation even though he felt his comments were “taken out of context.”

Amicus forum note: People take things out of context. That’s what we do. Have you ever read the Bible? It really does say all the things that people have ever quoted from it. The extent to which we are not all on the same page regarding that book is the extent to which we take its content out of context.

The art of language lies in the words carrying a context of their own that is relatively unequivocal, or else deliberately equivocal. In short, know what you’re doing when you’re putting words together.

I kind of have a feeling that Rhoda knew what he was doing. And he did it anyway.