Sunday, June 30, 2019

Weekend Diversion: Videos with homages

There’s an endless number of ways to make music videos, which makes it kind of surprising that so many seem to similar and interchangeable. But there are also videos that step outside their box a bit, sometimes with great creativity, other times for the way the video reinforces or complements the song. And then sometimes a video will recall other music videos or movies. Like this week’s videos.

First up is “1999” by Charli XCX and Troye Sivan:

The song was released in August of 2018. The music video, released in October of 2018, features a series of visual homages to music videos, movies, and TV shows from the late 1990s. They’re very well done, and most of them are obvious enough that most people will get the references if they were aware of pop culture in that era.

The song reached Number 18 in Australia (Platinum), 10 in New Zealand, 13 in the UK (Silver), and 30 on the USA Billboard “Mainstream Top 40”.

Next up is “Thank U, Next” by Ariana Grande:

The song was released in November, 2018, and the music video was released at the end of that month. It features numerous references to the movies Mean GirlsLegally Blonde, and also Bring It On. I saw the first two, so I got those references, but since I never saw Bring It On I didn’t get those. Nevertheless, I thought it was fun.

The song was a huge success, hitting Number One in all the countries I write about: Australia (2x Platinum), Canada (5x Platinum), New Zealand (2x Platinum), the UK (Platinum), and on the USA’s Billboard “Hot 100” (Platinum).

• • • • •

As I’ve said several times, a lot of the pop songs I like are ones that I first encountered as music videos, so it’s not surprising that I’d notice music videos that pay homage to other music videos, or pop culture generally. I didn’t buy these two songs, and unless it was part of some sort of compilation it’s unlikely I would—not the first time that’s been true, either. Even so, pop culture paying homage to pop culture? That’s my kind of thing.

Same as it ever was

Here we go again: Rightwingers have started promoting another round of birtherism, echoed by bots primed to sow racial discord—and hatred. This time, at least, the reaction has been strong and fast. Maybe this time we can cut out the cancer once and for all?

It all began when a rightwinger Tweeted that Sen. Kamala Harris wasn’t a “black American” because her father was Jamaican and her mother was Indian. Racists piled on, declaring that not only was she “not really black”, she also wasn’t a “real” American (she was born in Oakland, California, for the record, and attended some of her schooling in Quebec). Donny Jr. retweeted one of the racist Tweets, thereby buying into the same sort of birtherism that helped make his father famous in the 21st Century. Apparently the apple really doesn’t fall far from the tree.

This is part of an old and very tired tactic, this saying that she isn’t “black enough”. I’ve read that it’s a common attack line among certain activists (including, maybe especially, white Leftists). I know that I’ve seen them make a similar silly attack against Pete Buttigieg, that he isn’t “gay enough”, something I mentioned in a ”Political Notebook” post back in April.

We need to stop both levels of bullshit—the bald racism of birtherism, and the judgemental attack that a minority isn’t minority enough. In this particular case, her fellow Democratic presidential candidates—including Joe Biden, who was schooled by Harris in the second debate—joined in condemning the racist attack. Caroline Orr, a reporter for Canada’s National Oberserver, who focuses on “disinformation and the rise of hate”, connected the dots:

Ending the silly attacks against minorities for not being minority enough will be much harder to do. For some it’s about protecting their political turf, or their personal political power. Other times it may actually originate from good intentions.

I’ve personally known white Leftists who had as their default position always deferring to minorities—well, racial minorities, anyway (they tended to dismiss the demands of LGBT+ people out of hand and these days, that means trans* people especially). It’s good that white, middle class activists want to take their cue from people who are directly affected by issues like racial and economic justice, however, that shouldn’t mean giving someone a free pass when they’re spreading racist attacks. Shouldn’t we be able to evaluate the claim being made based on their merit? For example, claiming that Harris “isn’t really black” is offensive and racist, so why shouldn’t that be condemned instead of championed?

Reforming our politics will take a lot of work, but we have to begin somewhere. It was heartening to see so many Democratic presidential candidates condemning the racist conspiracy theories being used to attack Sen. Harris. More of that is needed. As for people—real people, not bots or rightwing troublemakers—we need to be a little more thoughtful and careful about the positions we take, and how we respond to the latest Outrage of the Day. But, then, I’ve been saying that last part for years; apparently it still needs to be said.

Still, the response to this latest birtherism conspiracy theory was slightly encouraging. Maybe this time we can cut out the cancer once and for all.

Update July 2, 2019: "Social media trolls try but fail to give Kamala Harris the Obama-birther treatment"ThinkProgress

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Stonewall 50

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion, which launched the modern LGBT+ movement for equality. It profoundly changed things in the USA and around the world because it meant that for the first time in the modern era, LGBT+ people were standing up to discrimination and oppression and asserting their right to be fully human and to live authentic lives. That struggle isn’t over yet.

I don’t remember hearing about the events of June 28, 1969 and the days following until I’d been at university for a few years, possibly as late as 1981. That was 12 years after the rebellion, and the following year I took part in my first LGBT Pride Parade in Chicago, and the year after that my real activist career began. All of that happened because of those June 1969 events, even though I couldn’t know that until I came out, more than a decade after Stonewall.

It’s not unusual for people not to know their own history, or the names of the trailblazers who came before them to clear the path. Each of us has to find our own path through life, after all, and that’s as true now as it was in my day or in the aftermath of the Stonewall Rebellion. The important thing, I think, is that when we find out what we didn’t know, we look for more of the story that we never even knew existed.

When I came out, I had a friend who gave me lots of books to read, especially history and fiction. I practically inhaled it all. Part of me was angry that all of that had been hidden from me—essentially denied to me—by a society that not only saw the stories and histories of LGBT+ as unimportant, but even as illegitimate. But I was also thrilled and excited to discover the stories of people who were like me, the first time in my life that had ever happened.

When I became an activist, I had two motivations. First, to make life a bit easier and safer for me and the rest of the LGBT+ communities. My other goal, or maybe my hope, was that doing so might one day mean that other LGBT+ youth wouldn’t discover their true nature and think they were the only one in the world. Much of the first part was successful, the second part somewhat, but more so after I left activism.

While I was proud of what I accomplished in my activist years, I was also keenly aware that I was standing on the shoulders of those who fought the battle years before I came on the scene, the people whose stories I’d finally learned. Those who began their activism after me have done and are doing the same. We are all inextricably linked, and always will be—even if sometimes it’s in spite of ourselves—in a great chain linking us all back to Stonewall, and to all the pioneers in the many decades before that.

So Stonewall is, for me, an intensely personal anchor, of sorts, a touchstone, even. The courage of those who struggled before me gave me strength to continue the fight, but they also helped me keep things real: It was never about me, it was never about my ego, and it sure wasn’t about what I could personally get out of it all. Other people, with the same general starting point I had, took a different path, and many became professional activists or politicians. That just wasn’t my path.

I’ll admit, there were times I regretted not becoming a paid activist, even though comparatively few actually did that in those days. The people who rebelled in June 1969, most of them, never made a professional career out of what they did then, and I didn’t from my time, either. That doesn’t make me (or them) “good” or whatever, it just means I was true to myself, to my nature, and to my path in life. I was being the most authentic me I could be—the very lesson I’d taken from my predecessors in activism.

At this major anniversary, as probably seldom before, I’m keenly aware of the tenuousness all the progress we’ve made over the past 50 years. Even now, there are people who want to turn back the clock and force us all into closets (or worse…), and some of them are very powerful, and some are even succeeding in starting to undo our work.

That’s precisely why it’s so important to remember Stonewall, and all the people who struggled before it and since, all working for the simple justice that LGBT+ people should have had as a birthright. Remembering them and what they did is one way to keep their work secure, and to honour the struggle that continues to this day.

That struggle isn’t over yet.

Pride and parades

LGBT+ Pride is about a lot of things, and even within our LGBT+ communities we don’t always agree with each other about what those things are. In fact, we have people in our communities who reject the very need for Pride Parades at all, or who say they’re “embarrassed” by them. Even so, it’s neither kind nor helpful when our adversaries belittle our very right to feel pride or to have a parade, and they often do that. One of our adversaries’ favourite old stunts is about to be revived, yet again, and it’s as offensive as ever.

In August, Boston may have to endure a “straight pride parade”. It is a massive trolling operation, stupid, childish, and offensive. As a veteran of the fight for social and legal equality for LGBT+ people, it would be natural to expect that I might be deeply offended by the whole “straight pride” nonsense, but I’m not. I feel sorry for them, sure, and shake my head at their shallowness, but if they want to act like idiots, that’s their business—and their own idiocy to wear—as long as they act entirely within the law, of course.

In the case of the “parade”, the city has no choice but to issue a permit for the “parade”. Boston’s mayor, Martin J. Walsh, explained it on Twitter:
I know everyone has read the news about the "Straight Pride Parade" group that's looking to host a parade in Boston. We want to clear a few things up.

First, Boston's values are clear: respect, diversity, and acceptance of all. As Mayor, I'm proud to host our annual Pride Week, where our city comes together to celebrate the diversity, strength and acceptance of our LGBTQ community.

Second, permits to host a public event are granted based on operational feasibility, not based on values or endorsements of beliefs. The City of Boston cannot deny a permit based on an organization's values.

This "Straight Pride Parade" doesn't yet have a permit, but is working to amend their application for permits to host a public event.

Whatever outside groups may try do, our values won't change. I invite each and every person to stand with us, and show that love will always prevail. Join us in celebration this Saturday for the @bostonpride Parade and in the fight for progress and equality for all.
Case law—including some very recent cases—is very clear on this: No unit of government can suppress free speech unless they can prove it poses the risk of imminent lawlessness. The possibility that the "parade" might inspire people to go out and commit acts of violence against LGBT+ people—as long as it's outside the "parade"—is not risking imminent lawlessness, and so, cannot legally be suppressed.

However, that doesn't mean that the phoney “parade” has to be treated as legitimate, and the city is free to ignore it after the permit, if any, is issued. There was separate talk by the organisers of having a "straight pride" flag, whatever that is, and having it flown from Boston's city hall, but doing that or not is clearly discretionary under law, and the city doesn't have to fly whatever flag they come up with. City decoration, as a nonofficial flag actually is, can be whatever the city wants.

The organisers know all this, and they're trying it on to push the city as part of what's actually a massive trolling operation (as they always are), and it may very well never happen (they usually never happen—have they ever?). Most of the time the sorts of people proposing a “straight pride” parade are merely seeking publicity and attention, giving the middle finger to LGBT+ people, and/or trying to cause trouble, probably for the first reason.

We know that this is just a stupid stunt because the reason there’s no such thing as “straight pride” is obviously that it’s completely unnecessary: Straight people don’t risk being fired or evicted from a rented home if someone finds out they’re in a relationship with or even—gasp!—married to someone of the opposite gender. Gay people still face that sort of discrimination in most of the USA and most countries in the world (not in New Zealand, not legally, anyway). Straight people are never beaten up or killed for being straight, but that happens to LGBT+ people throughout the world, including New Zealand (and trans* people are murdered at a much higher rate). Straight youth are never rejected by their families and churches merely merely for being straight, but LGBT+ youth often are because they're LGBT+.

All if which is why LGBT Pride is actually about celebrating the fact we’ve survived despite all the attempts to keep us down—or even to kill us. Sure, we’re as proud of living genuine and authentic lives as anyone else would be, but the main thing we’re proud of is that they haven’t defeated us. Straight people have never experienced anything similar.

Having said all that, the reason I’m not offended by the “straight pride” bullshit is simple: I fought long and hard and sacrificed WAY too much for one simple thing, namely, the absolute right of people to live their lives authentically. My fight was to make the world safer for LGBT+ people so they could live their true lives. All of that would be for nothing if I didn’t back the right of pathetic losers to act so petulantly and childishly.

They're definitely “pathetic losers”, too, because we fought hard for our rights, and we paid in blood, sweat and tears—and too often our lives. They had those rights handed to them at birth. They fought for absolutely nothing, but they get all weepy because an oppressed minority fought for and managed to win some of the rights straight people were born with, and because we dare to celebrate what we’ve achieved and our freedom to be fully human. It's their own shallowness and bigotry that makes them pathetic losers.

As the saying goes, though, instead of asking why there’s no “straight pride”, they should thank the universe every damn day that they’ve never needed it, and never will. We can't say that we don't need it, because our rights exist on the edge of a knife.

And THAT is why we march in parades, and why still we need to.

This post is a revised and greatly expanded version of a comment I left on a friend's Facebook post. The graphic up top is a meme that pops up on social media from time to time.

Friday, June 28, 2019

The historic second night of the Democratic Debate

Tomorrow is the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall, and tonight the United States made history. Mayor Pete Buttigieg was on the Democratic Debate stage, the first openly gay presidential candidate ever to be included in a nationally televised political party’s primary debate. Whatever anyone thinks of him, and whatever happens in the future, tonight was groundbreaking and it was incredibly important.

Most of the debate wasn’t particularly memorable because of the sheer number of candidates and the format of the debate. Later debates will become more enlightening as the field narrows—after we all start paying more attention. Still, it was what it was.

I didn’t think there were any clear winners tonight. The minor candidates didn’t win, but they mostly avoided hurting themselves, although I saw that one of the fringe candidates, Marianne Williamson, who the news media usually refers to as “a bestselling spiritual author,” was openly mocked on Twitter for saying that love would defeat the current occupant of the White House.

Here’s my take on the he top polling candidates, listed in their current polling rank: Former Vice President Joe Biden probably came out worse for wear, which isn’t surprising: He had a large target on his back. He didn’t fire as much as could have, and he should have been prepared for an exchange on race, but he didn’t seem to be. Sen. Bernie Sanders was, well, Bernie. He didn’t always answer questions, sometimes talked too long, and a lot of the time—I gotta be honest here—he came across like a grumpy grandad. Sen. Kamala Harris was Biden’s chief antagonist, and scored some major hits against him on race. Biden was clearly weakened by that exchange. On the other hand, her first one-liner didn’t seem spontaneous, which annoyed me because of that. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg was pretty much the same as he always is—well spoken, on point, and quick on his feet. He also had some great lines.

Among the minor candidates (again, in polling order): Tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang didn’t impress me. I wasn’t actually clear what he was advocating or how he’d do it. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand scored some good points, and probably did the best I’ve seen her do, which, as a low polling candidate, was important for her. Sen. Michael Bennet did similarly, but I wasn’t clear how he differs from other, better known candidates. Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper was all over the map on the issues, sometimes not even making sense, in my opinion. He attacked “socialism”, but what did he even mean? Social Security? The national highway programme? Dunno, but to me he sounded an awful lot like a Republican. Maybe that makes him the most conservative? US Rep Eric Swalwell is a candidate I’ve often thought was good, but I thought he did a really poor job on his MSNBC Town Hall. He redeemed himself tonight, doing much better, and he may have helped himself tonight. I’ll freely admit that when I first heard about Marianne Williamson, I assumed she’d be pretty loopy, however, she made some good points—all of which were undone by her “love will win” bit in her closing remarks. That was loopy.

Last night, none of the female candidates talked over or interrupted the other (male) candidates, but tonight they definitely did that. Was that better or worse? Well, neither. I wish ALL candidates could have resisted doing that.

I don’t think that any of the candidates changed my view of them very much, though Gillibrand may have a little bit. However, I liked both Bernie and Biden somewhat less than I did going in, in part because I think Swalwell was right: They should pass the torch. I didn’t really know anything about Yang going in, and I still don’t. I didn’t like most of Harris’ performance, though she was great when she took on Biden, though I recognise it could have been a contrived performance, and no one took her on for her criminal justice record, the thing that makes the Left, and many black voters, dislike her. Is that fair? I don’t know, and nothing tonight pushed me one way or the other about her. The one candidate who I liked going in and afterward was Mayor Pete, even though Swalwell scored a hit against him. In a debate like this, not changing opinions all that much may be the best that can be expected.

All in all, neither tonight’s debate nor last night’s changed anything for me. But it’s still very early in this campaign, after all, so that’s probably to be expected. I do know that I’ll vote for the Democratic nominee, no matter who that is.

All that aside, and regardless of the debate results, tonight the USA made history. On the eve of the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall, the first openly gay presidential candidate was included in a nationally televised political party’s primary debate. Whatever anyone thinks of him or the other candidates, tonight was groundbreaking and it was incredibly important—no, actually, it was fucking important.


“Race flares as dividing issue in Democratic debate”ThinkProgress

“Winners and losers from the Democratic presidential debate’s second night”Washington Post

“4 winners and 3 losers from the second night of the Democratic debates”Vox

“Harris stops playing it safe, and 5 other takeaways from a raucous debate”Politico

“Takeaways from night 2 of the Democratic debate”Associated Press

“Buttigieg and Biden acknowledged an important truth about undocumented workers”Vox

“Fact-checking the first Democratic debate (night 2)”Washington Post

Still producing in winter

The tomatoes are still coming, even as we near midwinter. The Instagram photo above shows today’s haul, and there are still more on the plants. Nice as this is, it’s certainly unusual: I’ve never seen anything like this.

Earlier this month I posted a photo of our tomato harvest at that time. Because it was already winter, I thought that we were near the end of our harvest. But the tomato plants just keep going, though they are starting to look a little bit ragged. Still, they’re not done quite yet. That’s nice.

This is the oddest thing I have seen happen out in the garden. It probably won’t be the last time I say that.


"Productive holiday weekend"
– When we planted the tomatoes.
"The tomatoes are growing" – The plants were growing well by December.
"Gardening work" – When I noticed the tomato plants were in bloom in late autumn.
"Winter produce" – Our first winter harvest.
"Photo Trial" – They were even the subject of a photo experiment.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Political Notebook – 2019 Pride Edition

Four years ago today (US time), the US Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land in throughout the USA. Since then, the Radical Right has been working hard to reverse that and all other gains made by LGBT+ people over the past 50 years. Every single day we something in the news about (mostly) political attacks on LGBT+ people. The current regime controlling the White House has been waging a war against trans* people, and theocratic extremists in the Republican Party are working hard to turn the clock back on the human and civil rights of LGBT+ people. These are not all good days.

So today, as an important anniversary, is the perfect time to summarise just a small sample of all the bad currently going on in the USA—and some good things, too.

The enemies in government

The longterm plan of the Radical Right in the USA is to abolish marriage equality and to end protections of the civil and human rights of LGBT+ people. They have some “creative” solutions: “Alabama lawmakers pass bill to end marriage licenses” so that they don’t have to issue any to same-gender couples. That’ll show ‘em who’s boss! The main way Republicans are working to end LGBT+ equality is appointing extremist radicals to federal courts. This takes time, but it’s easy enough to do with Republicans constrolling the US Senate: “Senate confirms Trump nominee with anti-LGBTQ rights
record for lifetime federal judgeship”
. This is their way to undo marriage equality and other advances for LGBT+ people because that happened afater positive rulings from federal courts. Meanwhile, there’s a detective with a sherrif’s office in Tennessee “called for the execution of LGBT+ people”. He didn’t have any reason other than his peculiar religious beliefs, and “on no more grounds than a cell phone photo of a person participating in a Pride event.” That went too far even for Cracker Barrel, something that may have surprised some LGBT+ activists.

Political and religious extremists are enemies, too

The current regime is controlled in many areas by extremist, far-right “Christians”, and that affects much of their domestic policy [see: “‘Brought to Jesus’: the evangelical grip on the Trump administration”). One of the strongest radical, extremist “Christian” supporters of the current occupant of the White House defended the regime of his Temporal Lord when they banned the Gay Pride Flag flying at US embassies. The charming guy declared it was “offensive to Christians and millions of people of other faiths”, which is pretty hilarious, really: The only time that those radical extremists ever care about“people of other faiths”is when they try to use them as props in their propaganda. That’s not just silly, it’s also yawn-inducingly boring, since religious crackpots attack the Gay Pride Flag all the time; in fact, I blogged about it way back in 2010. Still, it’s not all smooth walking across the water for them: “Mike Pence: Why his role as Trump's evangelical ambassador is facing new pushback”. Good news, indeed.

A bunch of fake “pastors” took part in a “death to gays” stunt in Orlando, Florida, chosen and timed deliberately to mock the anniversary of the Pulse massacre. Outside the event, one of the evil hoards declared, “Pray that if they do any protests, that it gets violent. They have Stand Your Ground in Florida. So we’re allowed to fight back.” A loving Christian, huh? A Missouri man threatened to "kill every gay person I can" at St. Louis’ PrideFest.

The Roman Catholic leadership cut ties with a school that refused to fire a married gay teacher, which is pretty awesome. But another school in the same archdiocese followed its orders and fired a gay teacher.

Community without unity?

The LGBT+ communities aren’t a monolith and more than Christians are. There are good Christians who stand up to the bigoted hate mongers on the Right, which means there are two sides even among Christians. So, it should be no surprise that there are divisions among the LGBT+ communities, too. “In Praise of Identity Politics and the Long History of Desire” looks at a different focus for Pride. “A match made in heaven” talks about the struggle between the two factions. The “corporatisation” of Pride events has long been a flash point in the LGBT+ communities. “These rainbow flag-waving corporations donated millions to anti-gay members of Congress”, which is a common enough criticism, though—in my opinion—unfair: Plenty of corporations give to both parties.

Despite it all, there is good news

Appropriate for today’s anniversary, Gallup reported that ” U.S. Support for Gay Marriage Stable, at 63%” . Sure, it should be higher by now, but a minority will still oppose it decades from now—after all, some still oppose interracial marriage. Meanwhile, as smaller majority, 53%, told Gallup that new anti-discrimination laws are needed to protect LGBT+ people. Gallup also found that “In U.S., 71% Support Transgender People Serving in Military”, which is stark contrast to the actions of the current regime controlling the White House. On gthe other hand, they also reported that "Americans Still Greatly Overestimate U.S. Gay Population".

Gallup also reported on the change over time: “Gallup First Polled on Gay Issues in '77. What Has Changed?”. Overall, things are much better now—but there are dangers looming. Finally, for a geeky take on it all, their Methodology Blog Blog answered the question, "How Do You Measure the LGBT Population in the U.S.?"

A couple last related pieces

There were a couple more things worth checking out, starting with "Stonewall at 50: stories from a gay rights revolution". An article that was unusual and targeted also answered a question more people ought to consider: "Here’s what a good LGBTQ ally looks like".

• • •

This is only a small sampling of the sort of stuff about LGBT+ people and our rights that I see all the time. On this special anniversary, and as we get closer to the 50th Anniversary of Stonewall, it’s worth the Notebook and putting in a page just about these issues.

First 2019 Democratic Debate, Night One

Today I watched the first night of the first debate among Democratic presidential candidates. I wasn’t sure I was going to, since I’m still not yet paying that much attention to the race, but then I thought, “Why not?”, and so, I watched. There were some surprises, and things that weren’t (like that at some points my mind and attention wandered). Overall, it was interesting and produced interesting results.

The leading candidate on the stage was Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is polling higher than any of the candidates. I thought she did well, and maybe more importantly, wasn’t harmed by the debate, either. At one point I thought to myself, “she’s the smartest person on the stage”. On the other hand, she sometimes came across as university professor, and, while I have fond memories of many of my professors, do US voters want one as president? I honestly don’t know. It doesn’t bother me, of course, but other voters may not be so, ahem, liberal.

In my opinion, the biggest winner of the night was Julián Castro who displayed an impressive and deep understanding of his signature issue, immigration, but also poverty, women’s rights, and even trans* rights, too. He also took former US Rep. Beto O’Rourke to task, which suggests that if Castro was the nominee he could stand up to the Republican candidate in debates—assuming that party’s nominee is brave enough to debate, of course. My favourite part though was something he said that doesn’t seem to have been noticed by pundits: He said that the US should have a sort of a “Marshall Plan” to lift up poor Latin American countries so that their people won’t need to come to the USA. I’ve been saying that for some 40 years now because I think it’s the best long-term solution to the problem.

Among others who did well, Cory Booker was good, but he talked a lot and didn’t really catch my imagination. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio did surprisingly well, I thought, and made some good points. But I didn’t especially care for him. The best lines of the night come from Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who said, “I don’t think we should conduct foreign policy in our bathrobe at 5 in the morning,” and from Washington State Governor Jay Inslee who said, “The biggest threat to the security of the United States is Donald Trump,” getting the loudest cheers of the night.

Among those who definitely did poorly were Beto O’Rourke who failed to launch, and he desperately needed to. None of the other candidates really stood out, though some got in good points that were well received. John Delaney was too conservative for my liking, and didn’t seem to connect with the audience, in my opinion.

The two most annoying to me were Beto and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, both of whom ignored the first question they were asked in order to make campaign speeches, something that insulted those of us watching and listening. Gabbard did better on other questions, and so did O’Rourke.

The questioners did pretty well, including, I noticed, asking Gabbard about her past record as being anti-LGBTQ, which she had an acceptable answer for, but then Booker chimed in, saying she should have also talked about transgender rights, which undercut what she was saying. Was that good, bad, or indifferent? I’m not sure—for either one of them.

On balance, I think Warren and Castro did the best of all (it’s absurd to talk about “winners” in a debate with ten candidates, especially since they’re only half of those participating in the two nights). Booker probably helped himself, but most of the others didn’t, though only O’Rourke seemed damaged by the debate.

No matter who wins the Democratic nomination, that person will get my vote, no exceptions. But it’s early days yet, and I have no idea who I’ll vote for in the primary. There will be a lot fewer candidates by then, though.

Tomorrow’s debate will feature another 10 Democrats, including frontrunner Joe Biden, plus the other top-polling candidates Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, and Kamala Harris. It will be interesting to see whether any of them will be picked on, or the current occupant of the White House, or maybe none of them.


“4 winners and 3 losers from the first night of the Democratic debates”Vox

“Winners and losers from the Democratic presidential debate’s first night”Washington Post

"7 big takeaways from the first Democratic debate"Politico

“Fact-checking the first Democratic debate”Washington Post

“Search interest for Julián Castro surges by more than 2,400 percent during first debate”The Hill

It’s just cake

The photo above is from NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Instagram account, and shows her right after she finished making the birthday cake for her daughter Neve’s first birthday. It’s a charming and perfectly ordinary photo of a mother who’s managed to conquer her child’s first birthday cake. It showed something most people could simply like without thinking about it at all..

Sadly, that wasn’t true for everyone.

New Zealand, like every other western country, has its share of hard-line partisans, and also like everywhere else, they can be found all over the political spectrum. But when it comes to pure churlishness and perpetual grumpiness, no one can beat our friends on the Right. A simple birthday cake became their latest object of fauxrage.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern posted her photo a few days ago. This was the reaction from one of her “critics”:
That was mild compared to this bizarre criticism:

That was a bizarre and churlish reaction, given that National Party Prime Ministers were not always depicted in serious situations:

As stupid and churlish as the criticism is, it’s simply routine for some of our friends on the Right: They seem to always look for the worst, most cynical possible view on every conceivable situation—but only if the Left is associated with it, of course. John Key was occasionally at the receiving end of such treatment, and the Right called it “Key Derangement Syndrome”, a dismissive term they used for quite literally any criticism of Key, no matter how legitimate, focused, or on point.

Welcome to the corollary, “Jacinda Derangement Syndrome”, in which they usually don’t even bother to attempt to offer legitimate criticism of policy or agenda, and instead they attack cakes (or similarly superficial things). It’s petty, it’s childish, it’s mean-spirited, it’s trolling—and it’s ever-present. This is only one example, and I’m highlighting it because it’s frankly so stupid.

There’s an obvious large serving of rightwing hypocrisy here. They attacked Jacinda because her photo wasn’t of a serious situation when, in fact, their own party leaders have all been depicted by the media in similarly non-serious settings. Jacinda’s photo was also her own personal one, posted on Instagram and NOT a media portrayal. Are they really trying to say that a politician can never post something light-hearted on their social media accounts? Seriously? Do they really want to go there?!

I can remember a social media photo of John Key standing next to his then teenaged son Max who was “planking” (anyone remember that fad anymore?). Bill English also posted photos with his kids. The current leader of the National Party has probably done the same (I can’t be sure; I don’t follow any social media accounts he may have). What the Right seems to be saying is that there can never be a non-serious portrayal of a Labour Party leader at any time, anywhere, whether in the newsmedia or shared to their own social media accounts. But for a National Party leader? Well, that’s obviously different, right? That’s called hypocrisy.

The bottom like here is that if New Zealand’s rightwing truly wants me or anyone else to take them seriously, they need to grow up first.

New Zealand, like every other western country, has its share of hard-line partisans, and, like everywhere else, they can be found all over the political spectrum. But when it comes to pure churlishness and perpetual grumpiness, no one can beat our friends on the Right. Their birthday cake fauxrage was just their latest example.

Despite that one thing should be clear to all rational people: It was just a cake.

Footnotes: The two Twitter screengrabs are redacted. The first one is from someone with a non-public account, and the Tweet may have been deleted, surviving only as a screengrab. Perhaps they realised how awful they sounded and thought better of it? Let’s give them a chance to repent and go and sin no more. The second one is redacted somewhat against my better judgement: It’s from a public account, but someone who could be a bot or foreign troll for all I know. In that case, it was about not giving any oxygen to someone who may or may not even be real. Neither screengrab was among the worst examples of the fauxrage I saw, but unlike so many other examples, they were neither defamatory nor obscene (and people wonder why I avoid Twitter nowadays…). The comparison image contains examples widely shared on Twitter at the same time, and copyright for those the images lies with their respective owners; they are included here for purposes of example and illustration in the context of robust political debate in matters of public interest.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Stonewall Forever

The video above, Stonewall Forever, is a short documentary from New York City’s LGBT Community Center. Directed by Ro Haber, it “brings together voices from over 50 years of the LGBTQ rights movement to explore queer activism before, during and after the Stonewall Riots.” It’s one of the most balanced documentaries I’ve seen.

Films like this make it easier for young LGBT+ people to learn their own history, and how they got to be as free as they are. I hope that it will also alert them to how fragile those freedoms are, how politicians can take it all away. Which is why it was so appropriate that the film begins with a rally protesting the current White House regime’s war on trans* people. If the regime remains in power, they won’t stop there.

As a veteran of the fight during the height of the Plague Years, I really want young LGBT+ youth to know what we did, how hard we fought, how much we won, and how much we lost. I want them to understand how vital it is that they continue the fight, that they never—ever—allow them to erase us, because certain people absolutely have that as their goal.

It all begins with knowing where we came from and how we got here.

Then, it’s time to get busy.

How to spot manipulated video

Yesterday, I posted about “head lies”, which was mainly about how written words can reveal partial truth that, intentionally or not, is misleading or even deceptive. These days, however, a lot of the disinformation we see is delivered by video. The video above was released today by The Washington Post, and attempts to lay out some of the techniques used to alter videos and some tips on how we can tell they’ve been altered.

This video is good, as far as it goes, though by necessity it can’t go into any great depth about the various techniques. One thing that’s very good is that they show the same video, both unmanipulated and manipulated. At the very least, that helps us understand what they’re talking about.

The video manipulations they show were done to promote rightwing propaganda. That’s not to say that the Left never do it, however, most of what gets spread on social media, and becomes viral, really is from the Right. That may very well change in the upcoming election campaign when propaganda is theoretically more useful because more people are paying more attention. However, there’s likely to be so many video memes, including from foreign countries trying to influence the election, that it’s at least theoretically possible that none of them will be very effective. Lemons into lemonade?

As with avoiding “head lies”, the fight against being manipulated requires us to be sceptical and wary, especially of video, given how accustomed we are to believing and trusting video evidence. This video is a good contribution toward giving us the tools we need to be better guardians of truth.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

More of our history

There are so many untold stories about the pre-Stonewall days, and these two videos present some more of them. There also plenty of stories about what happened after Stonewall. Most of those sorts of stories, both pre-Stonewall and post-Stonewall, still haven’t been told. It’s important to document what we can.

The video above is about the pre-Stonewall years, as well as a bit about the first few years afterward. It includes about some eyewitness testimony about things I’ve only heard about as reported history, not as lived experience.

The video below is about the larger picture, starting with Stonewall and the ripples that spread out form that event. It mentions that Chicago had the USA’s first Gay Pride Parade, and I knew the main guy who’d helped organise that. Another Chicago colleague of mine is pictured in one of the photos of Mattachine Society protests. This provides me with a very personal connection to events that happened when I was far too young to know about, or understand, any of it.

Taken together, the two videos talk about the history of of those who made my own later activism possible, the people whose bravery and bravado led inevitably to the freedom I later had—and could work to expand. It’s no understatement to say that I will forever be in their debt.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it", as George Santayana put it. If we study our history we’ll not only avoid repeating it, we can also forge a better future. When I was young, most of my community's history was still well-hidden. One of the greatest changes over the past 50 years is that more and more that history is finally being revealed.

There are so many stories left to tell. We’d better get busy.

Hidden truth and lies

It’s not uncommon for us to see a thing that’s true, but misleading. In the Vlog Brothers video above, Hank Green talks about three examples of things that aren’t completely as they seem. Hank calls this a “head lie” because it takes a true thing and makes us believe something that isn’t actually, literally, true, or not completely so. While this isn’t always deliberate, it’s certainly common, and we need to be mindful of that. I certainly try to be.

Hank and John Green have both frequently talked about the lack of reporting or even awareness of good news. That's usually been in the context of the fact that good news often gets buried with so much reporting about things that are bad. Hank’s video is sort of an extension of that, in this case, that the news presented isn’t exactly what it seems to be, maybe not even accurate or true. But, who’s to decide?

Way back in 2014 I decided to try an experiment looking for the good news buried on otherwise negative reporting of a story, and I didn’t have to try hard to find an example of what I was talking about. The thing about that particular example is that it, too, was creating a “head lie”, and most people would have no idea it was happening.

For that 2014 post, I had the time, the resources, and, obviously, the inclination to dig deeper to find out what the wider story was. Most of the time most of us don’t have one or any of those things for most stuff we see in the news or from PR agencies. But if don’t look deeper ourselves, no one is going to do it for us.

This all raises an important question: Who’s to say that the version presented in the news, or even from PR companies, isn’t the best, most accurate version? Ultimately, we have to decide for ourselves. We can look to see who has a vested interest in the way a story or statistic is presented, something I did in that 2014 post. But we can be as limited by our own biases in that regard as are the people packaging the information for our consumption. The problem here is confirmation bias, the human tendency to view all information as confirming what we already believe, and ignoring or discounting all evidence that contradicts our beliefs. This happens most often and predictably on issues we care deeply about and also beliefs that are central to us. That means that, at least sometimes, the information presented may actually be the most accurate version.

Unfortunately, the only way to know for sure is to see all the facts and to know the larger context those facts are part of. If those aren’t given to us, and if for whatever reason we can’t investigate the matter for ourselves, that still leaves one last tool: Scepticism.

I’ve often said that whenever anyone (media or PR company, politicians, whatever) tells us something, especially stuff that results in a strong reaction within us like outrage or indignation in particular, then we should ramp up our scepticism and doubt what we’re being told.

Personally, I try to get the story from multiple sources because that often helps me see if the facts are true as reported. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen a headline for a story about an issue I care deeply about (usually about LGBT+issues, but it could be anything, really), and I have a strong reaction to it, only to find out that story doesn’t back up the rhetoric of the headline (clickbait, in other words). If the linked story does back up the headline, then another source often presents a fuller, better context. Either way, I can dial down the outrage meter. This isn’t foolproof—the additional sources may be downplaying something that it’s appropriate to be outraged about—but it’s better than accepting everything presented to us as factual and accurate and outrage-inducing.

As it turns out, Hank talks about this in the description of the video on YouTube, something I don’t normally read, but did this time as I was making my final edits to this post. He made a particularly good point, too:
Once I started thinking about this video, I saw more of these lies at every turn. They're common in political speech, and insidious in their usefulness. Often, once you click on the headline or watch the video, you even find out that you had taken the wrong message from the headline. And then, in that case, you feel like it's your fault that you misunderstood… but let me tell you, no one thinks as much about headlines and titles as the people who write them. They know exactly what they're doing.
And you might think, "But if it's explained in the article.… no one got hurt, right?" Except that the vast majority of people who see a headline do not read the article… the headline IS CONTENT and needs to be treated that way.
He’s absolutely right, and it’s another reason why scepticism is so important. When we remain sceptical about what we’re being told, especially about stuff that reinforces what we already believe to be true, then we’re far more likely to be able to evaluate the information being served to us. That, in turn, makes it much harder for a “head lie” to take up residence in our brains, which, in turn, will make new facts and evidence easier to evaluate fairly.

As always, the power is ours. We just need to use it more.

Monday, June 24, 2019

History of us

Friday, June 28 (Saturday NZ time) is the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion that launched the modern LGBT+ liberation movement. Like all events in recent history, not everything we “know” is necessarily true, and for a very good reason: When historical events happen we seldom know it at the time, so we can’t be expected to record every detail.

The video above from The New York Times talks about the history of the Stonewall Rebellion correcting some myths, rebutting others, and, ultimately, arriving at the obvious reality: There’s a lot we’ll never know for sure, but what we do know about the events that night is based on several sources—just like long term history.

The video also correctly points out that the first gay rights organisation in the world, The Scientific-Humanitarian Committee (German: Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee, WhK), was founded by Magnus Hirschfeld in May, 1897, in Berlin. The Nazis burned its library and shut it down in 1933.

What the video doesn’t say is that the oldest gay rights organisation in the USA, The Society for Human Rights, was founded in Chicago in 1924 by Henry Gerber, who learned about Hirschfeld’s work while serving in the occupying forces at the end of World War I. It only lasted a few months, ending after several of its members, including Gerber, were arrested.

The Mattachine Society was founded by Harry Hay in 1950. That was the movement that was the first gay activists group.

And all of that was before Stonewall—whatever that really was all about.

The video below looks at Stonewall through the eyes of LGBT+ seniors, and some of that they said directly contradicts what the first video said. Does that matter? I don’t think so, not really. Oral history is always fraught, of course, because people’s memories are imperfect.

When historical events happen we seldom know it at the time. But we can always remember the spirit—and how far we’ve come—and that’s what this week is all about.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

2019 June Solstice

The 2019 June Solstice arrived in New Zealand at 3:54am this morning. That means that today was the shortest day of the year, and we being the long march back toward summer—woot! Despite the fact that winter’s been pretty mild so far this year, summer still can’t come soon enough because the worst is yet to come.

The graphic up top is a screenshot of my Google main page yesterday, and hovering the mouse over the graphic revealed the “Happy Winter 2019!” wish. It was put there yesterday to acknowledge the solstice here in the Southern Hemisphere, which would be later that night/the next morning (depending on your point of view) here in New Zealand. Clicking on the graphic went to this:

As I always say when a solstice or equinox arrives, it has little meaning in this part of the world. That’s because we always say our seasons begin on the first of the month. So, in this case, winter began this year on June 1, 2019. The problem, though, is that the first three weeks if June aren’t necessarily very wintry, and, in fact, the worst, coldest weather can being in July or August. This is similar to how some of our best summery weather happens early in our autumn, which begins March 1.

Today we had the second astronomical event for this year, after the March Equinox, which I didn’t write about because we were all focused on the terrorist attack a few days earlier. Clearly, the Equinox just wasn’t important.

Nevertheless, time and the seasons continue on, and here were are at another astronomical event, with two more yet this year, as listed by TimeAndDate.com:
  • September Equinox: 7:50pm NZST on September 23, 2019
  • December Solstice: 5:19pm NZDT on December 22, 2019
Astute readers will note that I use the month the event occurs in to describe them. That’s because the season that begins here is the opposite of the seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. So, when people in the North refer to the “Vernal Equinox”, it’s the wrong season for us—it’s our Autumnal Equinox. That difference can be very confusing when we read such a reference without context, and that’s true for people in both hemispheres. It’s much simpler and clearer to refer to “March Equinox, June Solstice, September Equinox, and December Solstice than to mention the seasons. And that’s why I do that all the time now.

Whatever you call what happened today, and whenever you say a season begins, it’s winter here (and summer in the Northern Hemisphere). We all know that the seasons will change, continuing the dance they’ve done for millennia, the two hemispheres always separated by six months and all the differences that means.

Personally, I’ll be more excited about the midpoint of winter next month, because it’ll mean that we’ll be halfway through the long march back toward summer. Summer can’t come soon enough. Because.

Related: My 2016 YouTube video about seasonal change and New Zealand:

Internet Wading for June 2019

Pop music and culture, history, interesting (or just odd) stories in the news, science, art—those are the things that get into these Internet Wading posts. And since I share a lot of pop music, why not start there?

“Hit Charade”, a 2016 story from The Atlantic talks about “the bald Norwegians and other unknowns who actually create the songs that top the charts”. The article says: “ If you flip on the radio, odds are that you will hear one of their songs.” And most of us would never know that.

When Dr. John (the stage name of Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack died earlier this month, I read the obituary on the NBC News site and was surprised to learn that he sang the Popeyes Chicken jingle ("Love That Chicken From Popeyes"). That was one of those things I never knew, but also something that was so obvious once I knew. But, then, I seldom pay attention to music used in commercials, unless it’s a current pop song, so there’s that. Like most people, I probably know him best for his biggest hit, “Right Place, Wrong Time” [Listen to the official audio on YouTube], a 1973 song that seemed impossible to avoid—or bop along to—in its day.

What about Movies? “Remake My Day” compares movies with their remake(s). There are many ways of looking at it: What critics thought, what audiences thought, and their profitability. They also compare rankings and then divergence in opinions.

On to history! Runner’s World (appropriately enough…) published “The Surprising History of Streaking (Yes, the Naked Kind)". Because we should know our history, right?

Similarly little known history is that of Joan Jett Blakk, the story of a performer and activist who ran for Chicago Mayor and US President. A new play, Ms. Blakk for President, has opened in Chicago and tells one of the many LGBT+ stories not often remembered these days—though I do because I was still in Chicago during the first two campaigns. As the Windy City Times review puts it:
“Whether the effort was performative or real, Chicago witnessed history in the early 1990s when Joan Jett Blakk, an African American drag queen who was the creation of activist Terence Smith, ran not just for Chicago Mayor, but in 1992 ran for president of the United States.”
“The Extraordinary ‘Cookbooks’ Left Behind by Prisoners of War and Concentration Camp Victims” is about what the title suggests. It’s also fascinating.

Similarly interesting is "40 Years of New York City Captured Through a Taxi Driver's Photos”, which combines history and photography. Can’t go wrong with that.

Interesting, sure, but also kind of alarming is “When 20,000 American Nazis Descended Upon New York City”, a 2017 story from The Atlantic, about a short film (up top), about that evening. I knew about that night, and about the American “bundists”, but it’s still disturbing to see so many Americans gleefully embracing Nazism. These days it seems it could happen again.

Some science, history, and pop culture all in one! “The English Word That Hasn’t Changed in Sound or Meaning in 8,000 Years", which is both not what I expected, and fascinating all at the same time. Obscure history, science, and pop culture all rolled into one—what’s not to like?

Speaking of pop culture and history, The Atlantic’s 2016 story, “The Hot New Millennial Housing Trend Is a Repeat of the Middle Ages”, seems likely to have overstated its case a bit, but there are millennials who do similar things—just most don’t not necessarily due it to the extent or in precisely the way the article suggests. On the other hand, it’s been suggested as something that would be good for senior citizens. They might actually be more likely to embrace it.

About older people, sort of, how about ”The rise of granny panties”? “High-waisted underpants made a huge comeback”. We all needed to know that.

“Forget fast fashion: slow style pioneers on the clothes they've worn for decades” from The Guardian. There was even a Kiwi in the mix. There’s nothing I’ve had for decades (apart from a couple things from my childhood that I keep for sentimental reasons), but I do have some shirts I’ve had for maybe 15 years. They’ve lasted because they’re seasonal (I only wear them over the course of a few months), and because I take care of them. There’s an advantage in this: Clothes that one buys from a big retailer are everywhere when first purchased, but unique a year or two later when everyone else has moved on to The Next Fad. Being thrifty has fashion advantages, it turns out.

Fads are something that come and go all over the place, including, these days, in health and food. “There’s no such thing as ‘bad food.’ Four terms that make dietitians cringe”. This Washington Post story covers terms that I can’t stand, either. Don’t be get started on “detox”!

Technology is sometimes hard for people to wrap their heads around, especially if science isn't their "thing". Lately I’ve seen a lot of utter nonsense about the upcoming 5G cellphone spectrum and its supposed harm to people. Yeah, social media helping to spread disinformation and misinformation yet again. Surprise! Well, it turns out that there was one story that was actually worth reading: “Debate rages over 5G impact on US weather forecasting” from Physics World.

On another technological note, “The Catch-22 That Broke The Internet” from Wired. In early June, “Google couldn’t fix its cloud, because Google’s cloud was broken.” Oops.

Space’s final frontier—madness! I always thought it was a joke, often perpetuated by satirists, but apparently believers in “lizard people aliens” are real: “It looked like a simple domestic murder. Then police learned about the alien reptile cult.” It's from The Washington Post, so it’s apparently for real—though for a story like that, I wish it was real “fake news”. It’s kind of disturbing to know that people who believe in that are real and walking among us.

Well, maybe a real story about actual space instead: “Views From Above: The Past Eight Months in Orbit”. Earth is pretty awesome, really.

• • •

That’s it for this wading adventure. Time to get back to winter and hibernating—I mean, um, wading around.

Friday, June 21, 2019

When the war is over

Sometime in the future, perhaps decades from now, the United States’ war with Iran will have ended. Tens of millions will be dead. The world economy will have been destroyed and hundreds of millions of people throughout the developed world will be plunged into abject poverty, the sort that once was seen only in countries they called “the Third World”. Millions of refugees from the war and economic collapse will be moving across borders seeking refuge, food, and water. Most will find none of that. Parts of the planet may even have been rendered permanently uninhabitable. And all of this will be because of the stupidity of one man exploited by the religious lust of other powerful men.

Naturally, that’s not how this story needs to play out, but it’s clearly the direction the USA is moving.

It’s clear that the current occupant of the White House is utterly clueless about how foreign policy actually works. To him, it’s all an ego-driven game in which he must “win” and others must “lose”. It’s what his whole life, personal and professional, has been built on, something his parents clearly taught him.

So, the current occupant of the White House will bumble into war with Iran merely because doing so will flatter his planet-sized ego. He doesn’t care who dies, or how many, as long as he gets to feel like he “won”.

The far-right extremist “Christian” nationalists in his regime are playing on his vanity—and stupidity—to get him to do their bidding. This is precisely why they all overlook his adultery, cheating, lying, and other “sins”: Doing so gets them what they want, namely, the end of the world.

When I talked about their utterly insane “vessel theory” back in March, I talked mostly about domestic policy, but also foreign policy, noting:
“…the radical “Christian” extremists think that the current occupant will “save” the Jews (Israel) from Persia (Iran) by solving a problem the current occupant himself created in the first place. Their Lord (temporal and spiritual alike) moves in mysterious ways, indeed.”
Israel matters a LOT to these radical extremists because they see it as key to bringing about the end of the world. What they hope to do is trigger their mythological battle of Armageddon, which is supposed to be the final war between “good” and “evil”, and when it’s over, Republican Jesus will rule over the world. Details on all that do vary a bit.

The place is located in modern day Israel, which is part of their fanatical devotion to the country, and also because they believe that if they can provoke a massive attack on Israel, it will lead to their fantasy of a “final war”. So, those radical “Christians” live to see others die—and they intend to bring it about, and as many deaths as possible, as quickly as possible.

Another layer to this is that a shrine claimed to be the tomb of Esther is in Hamadān, Iran. This no doubt helps fuel their obsession with Iran.

So, we have a stupid and vain man who can be manipulated into starting a war with Iran by Dominionists hell-bent, so to speak, on destroying the world by causing a war against Iran. Behind the scenes, the PR puffery, the lies, and even his Twitter tantrums are all happening because he’s being played like a cheap violin by those radical “Christians”, and, of course, he doesn’t even know it.

It seems inevitable now that the current regime will either attack Iran or manipulate them into attacking someone in “the West” so that the regime can use it as a pretext for all out war. The radical “Christians” have been spending their lives waiting for that and working toward it.

Even if the current occupant of the White House was capable of understanding how he’s being played, he couldn’t do anything about it: He needs the support of far-right “evangelicals” in order to have any hope of winning the 2020 election. If he turns on them, or if he deliberately turns away from the war those extremists so desperately want, they could well abandon him. That much he does understand, as shown by his constant pandering to them. His ego cannot allow him to create the possibility of electoral defeat, so he will do whatever the radical “Christians” want him to do. His ego must be served.

This can all be avoided if good people do something. Right now, they need to contact their members of Congress to make it clear and unambiguous that they oppose any war with Iran. Most members of Congress are cowards, particularly when an election is looming, and they will even oppose the current regime IF the pressure to oppose its war against Iran is strong enough.

That could delay their war long enough to have the chance to throw them all out in the 2020 elections, but doing so will take an utterly massive voter turnout, bigger than anything the USA has ever seen, if there’s any hope of getting rid of this gang and their religiously inspired war lust. Anything less than a massive turnout, and the regime could win the election, or they could simply refuse to leave and overthrow the republic—AND start their war.

Sometime in the future, perhaps decades from now, people in the United States will look back in anger at one stupid man’s ability to bumble into war with Iran, enabled and manipulated by those with fanatical lust for religious supremacy. Will that be before all the other dire consequences, or after?

The choice is ours.