Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Send A Message

[Ed. Note: I published this on my Facebook page tonight. I’ve heard too many cable-TV-news pundits gleefully point to polls which suggest that only a small percentage of young Americans will actually vote in the midterm elections tomorrow. I’d like to hope – after Parkland, after Kavanaugh, after children in cages, after a host of awful current events that seemed to awaken a great many American high-school and college students, over the last two years – that there are indeed a great wave of new voters who will end-run the corporate media’s bleatings and the various pollsters that only contact landline-based Americans, and give American representative government a well-deserved kick in the rear. May it be so.

[So here’s that Facebook piece, which I wrote while thinking of all the fine folks who have been students at the public schools and colleges and drum major clinics where I’ve taught, all of whom I’ve been able to watch, via social media, turn into people whom I’d trust to run this country.]

 

All right, my fine FB younger friends — a legion of wonderful people with whom I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a music classroom, or a rehearsal stage, or a high school or college football field, or a DMA parking lot: pull up a chair while I do my Wise Old Sage Of The Desert act.

I beg you. I mean it: I beg you — prove the pundits wrong tomorrow. There are people who go on the TV and pontificate because they’re paid to convince you that they know something about the world, who say that only a handful of young voters will actually engage in the political process. MAKE THEM EAT THEIR WORDS.

Forgive me, but I don’t think it’s hyperbole to suggest that tomorrow’s election — at the all levels, federal, state and local — boils down to a very simple idea:

Empathy vs. selfishness.

Regarding virtually every important issue facing our country right now — climate change, health care, gun violence, public education, women’s health and rights, rights of people of color, LGBTQ and transgender rights, freedom of (or from) religion, immigration (CHILDREN ARE STILL IN CAGES), the Supreme Court, simple human decency, and oh by the way Congressional oversight of this corrupt bunch of pirates masquerading as an executive branch …

… the current Congressional majority and many Republican-held state legislatures have consistently and repeatedly demonstrated BY THEIR ACTIONS an utter lack of human decency and empathy.

So vote them out tomorrow (if you haven’t early-voted already). Vote in such overwhelming numbers that Russian meddlers won’t matter, that voter-suppression schemes won’t matter, that the corporate media’s obsession with pretending that “both sides are equally horrible” … JUST WON’T MATTER.

And at this moment in history, I’m sorry, but it’s more important to vote within the context of the political system as it is, rather than as we wish it were. Which means, I’m sorry again, that independent candidates can’t help us in this election. Down the road, perhaps; but not tomorrow.

Mark Twain once said, not without cause, “I don’t belong to an organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

BUT … this time around, Democratic Party majorities in the US House and Senate are the only way to throw the brakes on this miserable Republican-Party-led executive branch (yeah, That Guy). The current Republican Party majorities in the House and Senate have, through their actions, proven themselves willfully incompetent at governmental oversight, and indeed at representative government at all.

So go to the polls. Stand in the lines when you have to. Send a message … to our elected officials, and to the rest of the world (most of which has quite honestly been watching us for the last two years with horror) — that we’re not going to just sit here and take it. That we’re not going to let selfishness win out over empathy.

If you ask me: vote blue. Vote Democratic. But in any case: vote.

My young friends, all of whom I’ve held in very high regard whenever I’ve had the privilege of enjoying your company … this is your golden opportunity, TOMORROW: to take this country back from the (mostly) rich old white guys who have used their control of the government to gather all the riches to themselves, right now — AND to work diligently to make life harder for everybody but themselves, both now and into the future.

Make the Women’s March and the Science March and the March For Our Lives and the Families Belong Together March seem like mere whispering tiny preludes.

VOTE.

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November 5, 2018 Posted by | civil rights, current events, Facebook, government, news, politics, social media, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On Oaths, With Occasional Swearing

Foreword:

(A blog post gets a foreword? Yes.)

With apologies: this blog post has grown like Topsy since just before Christmas, partly because of the careening nature of life here at the home of the Blogge, but mostly because of the careening nature of current events. Think you’ve got a handle on the news? Half a day later, there’s an event, or a quote, or something, out there that eclipses what you thought was at the extreme end of possibility.

This post originally started at the Senatorial oath you see quoted in indented-paragraph form below. Shortly thereafter, the post’s topic (target?) – sure enough – did something that may not have eclipsed his previous achievement but assuredly added to the near-cartoonish sense of are you even kidding me?

So I thought I had a new, fresh beginning to the post, which I could place at the beginning of what I thought was the original essay. That fresh beginning begins with the words, “Okay. First thing”, below.

So … a gentle addition, edition, both, whatever, not too complicated; run that baby!

And then, today, in a classic Friday night news dump, a declassified version of a US intelligence-community report was released. The headline in The Hill read: “Declassified report: Putin ordered election interference to help Trump”.

Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary [Hillary] Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump,” the report reads.

We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.”

The bombshell document details the intelligence community’s findings but provides little in the way of forensic evidence backing up its assessment, citing the need to protect sources and methods. [Italics mine.]

While the conclusions in the report are all reflected in the classified assessment, the declassified report does not and cannot include the full supporting information, including specific intelligence and sources and methods,” the report reads.

and it brought my original post screaming back into relevance.

 

Okay. First thing. This brief moment of utter hypocrisy:

The headline reads, “[Sen.] Mitch McConnell [(R. – Ky.)] Says Americans Won’t Tolerate Democrats Blocking Supreme Court Nominations”. The writer continues, “McConnell’s admonition that the American public may not put up with prolonged Democratic obstruction is curious in light of his own plan to not lift a finger on any of Obama’s nominees.”

Curious” is not exactly the word I would use.

Two words: Merrick Garland. 294 days without a hearing. The longest time for a Supreme Court nominee to go without a hearing in the last 100 years.

Two other words: Sen. McConnell, you really honestly don’t care that you sound like an utter, utter hypocrite, right out in the open, do you? It’s not okay if you Democrats want to do it, but it’s perfectly fine and in fact clever and smart if I do it. Tremendous.

Two other words (I know, I know; go with the joke): there’s something else about Mitch McConnell that is related to that — but much, much more important. And it applies to a comparable number of other Washington politicians.

 

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

     -Oath of office for United States Senators (emphases added)

Lemme see if I got this straight.

You’re telling me that in September … well before the Presidential election … the CIA briefed the “Gang of 12”, an inauspiciously-named group of Congressional leaders from both sides of the political aisle. And in this briefing, the CIA reported that seventeen separate US intelligence agencies felt they had credible evidence that Russian intelligence agencies had carried out cyber-activity intended specifically to support the Republican candidate for the US presidency.

Senate Democrats reportedly were unanimous in their recommendation to release this news to the American public. But Sen. Mitch McConnell, US Senator from Kentucky, United States Senate majority leader, advocated not doing so.

I’ll say it here, although it should be so clear as to not need to be expressed: Mitch McConnell should be charged with treason.

Read on.

He saw evidence that a foreign government was interfering with a US presidential election – not conspiring to generically and non-specifically reduce confidence in our concept of Democracy, but conspiring to AFFECT the election in the favor of their preferred candidate. A foreign power had attempted to interfere with this country’s election. This interference might even rise to the level of an act of war against the United States. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, and did, nothing. No – sorry – worse: he advocated actively keeping this information from the voters who could have used this knowledge; which is to say, all of them. All of us.

So much for representative government. So much for being a public servant.

So much for loyalty to one’s own country. So much for upholding one’s oath of office.

So much for professed love for and adherence to the US Constitution.

Treason.

This is treason.

It is nothing but.

I’d be saying this if it were merely (!) the sanctity of an election that was at stake here.

But there’s another layer to this.

This summer, the Democratic National Committee website was hacked, AND the Republican National Committee website as well, by Russian intelligence organizations. The Russians released what they found in the DNC website. They did not release anything they found in the RNC database. The Russians released, effectively, opposition research for the benefit of the Republican candidate. They did not release anything like that for the benefit of the Democratic candidate.

Just what did they find out about the Republican candidate for president? About other Republican candidates for other national offices? About members of the RNC staff and leadership? About people who are up for appointed (not elected) Cabinet positions within the coming Republican administration, who have business ties to Russian interests? … What did they find out about them, what bits of tantalizing information, which they knew they could hold back, the better to use in an effort to blackmail any of them, in the future? Or to influence US economic and foreign policy to benefit themselves?

And if I know this (thanks to reputable, not fake-news, sources) … surely Mitch McConnell knew it.

Traitor.

Treason.

McConnell knew.

And McConnell’s not the only one.

But we can start there.

If McConnell knew, the rest of the security-clearance-laden Republican Gang of 12 members knew. Trump, the de facto head of the Republican Party (and the loser of the popular vote) knew. And it is documented that not a one of the Republican members of the Gang of 12 wanted the American public to know.

At the very least, Sen. McConnell put the interests of the American public – our interest in knowing that our elections are conducted in a remotely fair way, and our interest in being aware that a foreign country was making cyberspatial war on us – second. He put his own interests – financial and power-oriented – first.

He was willing and happy to look the other way, when he was among the few people who could have looked straight at what was happening, and said something about it.

And for what?

Maintaining his power and personal fortune? And that of his friends, and family?

(“Must make sure that my wife, Elaine Chao, will still receive a Cabinet-level appointment in the coming Republican administration. Must not keep this from happening.”)

This is treason.

McConnell is a traitor.

And again, it’s not just McConnell.

But it’s a great place to start, perhaps to head off or at least shine a light upon what is actually happening here.

We are looking at a coup.

The Russian government wants to control the American government. And this is cheaper than starting an actual shooting war; and they get the benefits of any part of the American economy that any of Trump’s hired minions control. Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, who would have made a $500 billion deal with a Russian oil company if the US government hadn’t meddled with pesky sanctions against Russia, a short time ago … is the current nominee for US Secretary of State. Hmmmmmm. It all starts to make sense now.

McConnell will never be charged with treason, of course. How silly to think so. The US Congress is in Republican-majority hands, and (I would judge, based on my observations of at least the past six years of that Republican Congressional majority) nothing will keep Republican members of Congress from choosing the good of their party over the good of their country. How I know this is: the fish rots from the head down. The head of Republican congressional leadership is Mitch McConnell, and Mitch McConnell puts party before country. What are his Congressional underlings supposed to do, after all, but rot?

They are cowards. Cartoonishly corrupt cowards. Cowards who seem largely willing to be seen as such, and who seem not to care how cartoonishly corrupt they look. They’ll get theirs, and screw the rest of y’all.

And because these cowards are wealthy (you need to be wealthy nowadays in order even to run for national office), and sheltered (tax- and otherwise; thanks to their guaranteed Congressional lifelong salaries and health insurance coverage, they will never know want) … they will likely never be made to feel the repercussions of their cowardice. They’ll even likely be rewarded for it. Again: they’ll get theirs, and screw the rest of y’all.

The list of corrupt, Constitutionally-challenged cowards starts with Mitch McConnell.

And so, he should be called what he is – and so should everyone in Washington who knew something, but did nothing.

Traitor.

Treason.

This is treason.

It is nothing but.

 

[Ed. Note: Two weeks … fourteen days … until we inaugurate a dangerously unstable person – who will have the assistance of a Congress whose partisan majority is comprised of hypocritical, corrupt cowards.

[RESIST. REJECT.]

January 6, 2017 Posted by | current events, government, news, politics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In the Bubble

Tiny update for those who have visited here since Tuesday’s election:

Regarding my thought, two posts ago, that “I think that in any case, I’m not in the right frame of mind, yet, to reach out and try to communicate with the People who will one day need to be reached” … yeah, two days isn’t enough time to get into that frame of mind.

A co-worker of mine said to me today, “good Lord, stay off Facebook for a week. It’s better that way.”

And, you will recall, on Wednesday morning, I completely failed at that avoidance. And I still am failing. But I think at least partly that’s because I have so many friends upon the Facebook machine who are hurting and angry and terrified, and are posting about it, and I don’t wish to ignore them or try to make myself feel better about the world by swerving away from friends.

There are people out there who don’t have that option because every time they step out into the world, now, they risk verbal and physical abuse, just for looking like who they are – or even for looking like who somebody else thinks they are.

So wouldn’t you think the exceptionally, extremely, very very least I can do would be to go and read what they have to say?

I imagine (with no malice whatever on my part, because he’s a fine feller) that my very well-meaning co-worker might say in response to that … you’re a glutton for what? Punishment?

No. I’m not the one who’s feeling the punishment.

And on Wednesday morning, I did step gingerly into the Facebook world, afraid of what I might find but somehow needing to.

And something that I found there in surprisingly great measure … yes, alongside the genuinely frightened and sometimes frightening status posts … was affecting in a different way, and caused me to post, myself, although in no way had I expected to be able to contribute anything.

There are times when it’s not productive to live in a bubble. There are times when it’s important to step out of your bubble, your comfort zone, and find out what the rest of the world is thinking – again, so you can engage them intelligently.

This wasn’t one of those.

My apologies to those of my set of Facebook compatriots who have already read this, but … in the spirit of clutching tightly to something, anything, remotely positive this week … and in the spirit of appreciating the moments in your life when it’s blindingly obvious that you’re surrounded by angels in the form of people who are well-spoken and thoughtful even when they ought to be panicking … who even seem to panic gracefully … who can prop other people up even as they’re needing propping-up themselves …

Here’s what I offered up to those angels inside my bubble, early Wednesday morning.

 

As it turns out, I have gone on Facebook this morning.

Didn’t want to.

Didn’t plan to.

My curiosity got the best of me.

As I was doing so, I forlornly hoped that it wouldn’t be the bad decision that I knew it would be.

Every instinct was telling me, no, no, no, don’t.

Because last night when I signed off, despair was coming off the screen in waves.

And today, the cold morning light was just that. The sky was flat and grey.

Every instinct was telling me, roll over, pull the blankets up over you, get a little more sleep.

But that wasn’t happening.

And my every waking thought about any earthly subject had been, for several hours now, considered through a new and distinctly not-very-rose-colored pair of glasses.

Every instinct was telling me, hunker down, protect yourself, go fetal, put on your crash helmet.

But something dragged me over to the computer and logged me in, here.

And I’m glad.

The despair, of course, is still there.

And I can only imagine what various segments of the population — among them some of my dear friends — are feeling this morning. Despair might be merely a starting point.

But the vast majority of the things I read this morning made me glad to have come here.

The things that I read … reinforced for me that I am privileged to be connected with remarkable people upon this little social media platform — whether we’ve been lifelong friends, or have never actually met in person!, or anywhere in between.

You wrote many things that I could not have written.

That I hope to write.

That I can’t yet.

And I’m not even gay, or Muslim, or Mexican, or African-American, or female, or a journalist. Or a parent who has to guide their kid in this moment.

So I have a certain amount of firewall that others don’t have.

But what was written here … what I’ve read here … will keep me from tipping over until the equilibrium returns.

I have gone on Facebook this morning.

Didn’t want to.

Didn’t plan to.

My curiosity got the best of me.

And I got the best of you all.

Onward ‘n’ upward.”

November 11, 2016 Posted by | blogging, current events, Facebook, friends, heroes, Internet, news, politics, social media, writing | , , , , , , | Leave a comment