I woke up one morning last week thinking about Paul.

It had been two years since my friend Cole had killed herself. When Paul heard the news he followed suit and took his own life. Paul had been struggling with a major depressive period and losing someone he loved was just too much for him.

I lost two of my closest friends in the span of six days, but there was no time to grieve. There were others whom these tragedies affected more and I had to be there for them. There were funerals to attend and arrangements to be made. Everything became a blur and soon two weeks had passed and I still hadn’t grieved.

Well to be fair, I actually did have a few hours of mental breakdown, but it wasn’t until months later that I realized that my collapse was related to my friend’s deaths.

The day Paul died I didn’t cry.

I was numb.

I was debating people in a political forum and several people were attacking my character instead of my arguments, as often happens in these situations. Suddenly, I got really upset and put my phone down. I went upstairs and just laid there feeling dead inside. My girlfriend was scared, as she had never seen me just lay down in the middle of the day like that. When she tried to reach me all I said is

“I don’t get why people have to be so fucking mean.”

After she left I laid there and cried and what’s funny is, the entire time I cried I felt like I was crying about the people who were calling me names on the political forum. I kept thinking about the words they used and they stung me in ways that I could not comprehend. I had been in thousands of political discussions and been insulted by strangers ten thousand times. Never did I cry about it.

It’s strange to me that I didn’t understand that I was really crying about Paul and Cole.

robin-williams-cover-ftr

Cole was a really good friend.

I loved her deeply.

Once when I was staring into the abyss, she came to my house and dragged me out. She took me to strip clubs and bought me drinks that I didn’t drink. She paid girls to dance for me and I ignored them. She did everything she could to make me smile, yet I didn’t smile.

But I felt loved.

And that love helped me to crawl out of my hole and see light again.

Cole was a kind and gentle, yet disturbed soul and I related to her on nearly every level.

But the darkness took her and the black hole created by that consumed Paul.

Paul was one of my best friends in this life and his loss is something that I feel every single day. He would be shocked to hear me say that. He was convinced that his life had no value.

Last week the weather had something in it that felt familiar. As Carrie and I were drinking our morning coffee, I said to her

“This feels exactly like the day when Paul killed himself.”

Hoffman, Philip Seymour

I logged into social media to see what stupid-ass thing Donald Trump had been doing, only to see that Chris Cornell had committed suicide.

I would be lying to say that I was moved by this.

Celebrity deaths wash over me, with some occasional exceptions.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Robin Williams devastated me, because both of them reminded me of myself.

I could always see them struggling with their demons.

When Spalding Gray and David Foster Wallace decided life was too much to bear, I felt a tremendous sense of dread in the pit of my stomach, for I knew these men saw behind the curtain much in the same way that I do.

But I was not moved by Chris Cornell’s death. At least not immediately I wasn’t. Instead I made a comment about how “the Mount Rushmore of grunge singers was now complete.” Layne Staley, Kurt Cobain, Andrew Wood and now Chris Cornell, four of the five most influential singers of their era were all gone by their own hands.

Meanwhile Eddie Vedder was still pushing words through closed teeth somewhere.

And I was still sitting here, trying to make sense of it all.

dfw

Chris Cornell’s suicide had me thinking about Paul even more than usual.

Paul and I used to be in a band that covered Show Me How to Live by Audioslave. I would always make sure it was last on the set list, because after I replicated Cornell’s razor-blade gargling screams, I could barely speak, let alone sing.

Paul was also on my mind because my guitars kept breaking lately.

In addition to being my friend and mentor, Paul was also my guitar tech. I am an ignorant musician who spent his life mastering words and melody, but I know nothing of wood-crafting.

Over the years, I would play the hell out of my instruments and eventually damage them. I would take them to Paul and he would give me a lecture about caring for them better and then he would repair them and then whatever he tried to charge me, I would pay him double.

He would always fight with me about it, but I would insist that he take the money.

Even at double-pay, he was still cheating himself.

Paul wasn’t very good about taking care of his needs and would go long periods of time without eating, because he didn’t have money for food. I finally figured out how to solve this problem. I would go to pawn shops and buy broken instruments and take them to Paul so he could fix them.

He would get very upset when he saw the damaged guitars and say something like

“This crack in the neck. How did that happen?!”

I would assure him that it was the previous owner who had been so cruel, but this did little to calm him. Paul took the mistreatment of musical instruments very personally. He was always so dire. He would shake his head and say

“I don’t know if I can save this, Michael, but I’ll do my best.”

Then he would email me constant guilt-laden updates on the status of the instrument.

“It’s in the wood press and I’m bending the wood back to normal, but it could crack at any moment. I’m really sorry, Michael. I’m doing all I can…”

“It’s fine, Paul. I appreciate your efforts. Thank you so much for trying.”

Paul saved every single instrument I ever gave to him.

But he couldn’t save himself.

kurt

Paul and Cole weren’t the first friends of mine to end their own lives.

My best friend Danny killed himself when he got back from fighting in Iraq and a few years after that I put Billy in the ground.

Billy was supposed to have a closed casket, but we told the minister that we needed to give some things to him, so he stepped aside and we put Billy’s Magic the Gathering cards inside with him.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I’m not sure I ever really processed any of these deaths.

I’m not even sure how we go about processing such things.

Paul and Cole died right after my mother died. My response to this was to hit the road to canvass for Bernie Sanders. It was so exciting to be part of something so beautiful, that I really didn’t think too much about those whom I had recently lost.

Then suddenly a rock singer kills himself and it all comes flooding back.

I’m standing next to my child in a pawn shop, playing a guitar that was probably a beautiful instrument once upon a time.

I hold it up and show them how the wood is bent. Our eyes meet underneath the strings and I say out loud

“Man, fuck Paul.”

“Yeah” they said.

AndrewWood

In the middle of this swirling mess, I am fighting with one of my best friends.

She, a brilliant and reasonable person, is telling me why I need to believe in a conspiracy theory regarding a man supposedly murdered by the government. Politics is a big part of my life, but this simply was not a good time. She kept sending me articles and I kept reading them. It was all stuff I had read before, but I care about her so I read it all again and tried to see it all through her eyes.

I couldn’t get there from here.

It just made me sad and angry.

As I read through page after page, as I watched video after video, all I could think about was how terrible it must be for this man’s parents and siblings. I read about how his mother, father and brother were asking people to stop politicizing his death and I began to get angrier and angrier about it, while at the same time knowing that I was projecting a lot of other things onto the situation and that this was fueling the arguments between my friend and myself.

I know what it’s like to bury a child.

I buried one of my own.

But I cannot compare my tragedy to theirs. My child was a newborn baby. Their little boy was 27 years old, in the prime of his life. Their loss was much greater than mine. I began to feel very protective of the murdered man’s parents. I kept imagining myself in their crestfallen shoes.

It’s actually not fair of me to say that.

I can’t even imagine the hell they must be in.

sethrich2

Alas there was an oasis in the middle of my emotional desert.

Carrie and I had planned a party for Saturday night.

Normally these parties are fun, but this one felt like much more than that. I could feel that I needed the affirmation of living people.

A man I had never met before came to the party in a Feel the Bern shirt. The man kept telling me that I was “the reason why he calls his senators” and to be honest I really needed to hear something like that, because I was feeling pretty down about all the work we had put in and how things had been going lately.

I used to log onto social media and feel renewed by seeing so many activists, but lately everyone seemed to be talking about the murdered man and I found myself getting in fights with people and wondering what the point of everything had been.

Even during the party, Paul was there.

I had intentionally been avoiding reading about Chris Cornell, but everyone at the party was talking about it. Someone told me that Chris took an extra Ativan and then hung himself with the rubber cable from his exercise machine.

That is exactly how Paul killed himself.

Paul took a bunch of pills and then hung himself with the cable of his weight-lifting machine.

The similarities chilled me.

So I just drank more and smoked more pot.

This was my fucking party.

I did not want to be sad at my own fucking party.

layne

A good friend came to our gathering that night and while he was drunk he told me that he had been planning to kill himself a few weeks earlier, but that my visits had stopped him from doing so. He said

“Your friendship was a literal lifesaver for me. I know that you will be surprised to hear this, but when you came by that Friday I had accepted the fact that no one was going to miss me and had made up my mind to kill myself.”

I was not at all surprised to hear it.

I had been stopping by so much because I have now developed a feel for these things.

Once you have four of your closest friends kill themselves, you start looking for signs.

shannonhoon

Can I tell you something that I never told anyone?

Paul killed himself six days after Cole killed herself and during those six days I thought about reaching out to Paul many times, but I didn’t. I didn’t reach out to him because I was in pain and I didn’t want to listen to anyone else’s pain. I just couldn’t subject myself to Paul’s depression, which often triggered my own darkness.

I know intellectually that I can’t blame myself for Paul’s death, but I also know on some level that I may have been able to prevent it. I doubt it. I don’t think my light was very bright during those three days and Paul’s darkness may have been too much for me.

But I wish that I would have tried.

Oh how I wish I had tried.

And now my child has razor blade marks all up and down their arm and they tell me how they feel disconnected and how they “want to disappear” because they feel like they are living in someone else’s body and this chills me to the bone.

Every day I call therapists and try to find one that we can afford and one that also specializes in gender dysphoria, but this is Indiana and there aren’t many resources for transgender children.

But don’t worry.

I won’t give up until we find someone.

The one thing I refuse to do is to give up.

But I don’t begrudge Paul or Cole or Billy or Danny for their choices.

They just went to that extremely dark place I know so well, the place where your mind lies to you and tells you that no one will miss you.

But I do miss them.

I miss them all so much.

I will never stop missing them.

Don’t listen to the darkness.

We all fall on black days.

Things DO get better.

Trust me.

I’m living proof.

heartglasses
Call 1-800-273-8255 if you are thinking about killing yourself. Life’s a painful experience. Of that there can be no doubt. But it can be amazing too. You have to get through the valleys. There is nothing wrong with asking for help.

Hey moron. Thanks for reading my column you stupid looser. I’m surprised some brainwashed MSM-watching sheeple could figure out how to operate a computer or smart-phone. Your so dumb that you probably think Trump colluded with the Russians. Your such a stupid libtard that you don’t even realize that Obama deported more people than Trump. Your opinions are stupid and YOUR stupid. SMDH.

Sound familiar?

Congratulations, you made the mistake of expressing a political opinion on The Internet, where everyone is 100% convinced that they are right 100% of the time.

Oddly enough, I rarely encounter people talking to each other like this in the “real world.” So it begs the question, are people their real selves on the net and just cowards in “real life.” Or is there something about the web that polarizes people and makes them act like angry children?

There’s no need to send me emails letting me know that my opening paragraph is rife with grammar and spelling atrocities. These “errors” are just a few of the insults that have been hurled at yours truly over the last 24 hours.

I have seen these particular mistakes so often, that I have become convinced that there is a strong correlation between not understanding basic contractions like “you’re” and the likelihood that the one who doesn’t understand said contractions will be using them ironically and moronically to insult the intelligence of others.

“Your stupid!!”

“No. YOU’RE stupid.”

“So YOUR calling ME stupid?!?!”

“It’s YOU’RE stupid?”

“I’m not the stupid one. God your such a looser!!”

understanding2

When someone is insulting me for having a differing opinion, I often wonder what they hope to accomplish.

Has there ever been a time in the history of the human existence where one person insulted another’s intelligence and the recipient of said insult said

“You know what? I really am a brainwashed idiot. Thank you for pointing that out. Now I see things your way!!”

It’s doubtful. So I am left to wonder, what is the point of this behavior?

Have we become so bereft of intelligence and humanity that we think that anyone who disagrees with us is subhuman and deserves to be treated poorly? Have we forgotten that on the other end of this exchange that there is another human being who has come to a differing conclusion by taking in and processing different information?

If we are convinced of our own righteousness, shouldn’t we use methods that are likely to deliver the correct information to the misinformed person we are speaking with?

And what about the other person’s humanity?

I have seen people attack others simply for having a different political view, never taking into consideration that the person reading their hateful words more than likely has difficult circumstances in their own life and are perhaps using The Internet to talk to others in hopes of finding distraction from their quiet desperation.

I watched my friend get ripped to shreds on a daily basis from his hospital bed while he was losing (not LOOSING) his battle with cancer. We would tell him to stay off the political forums, because we feared that the stress was accelerating his departure, but it was literally the only thing that provided him respite from the doldrums of spending his final days confined to a hospital bed.

When he died his partner took his phone and typed

“(Name withheld) passed away today. He loved your lively political discussions. It provided him with comfort and entertainment during the final days of his life. Thank you.”

elephant

But let’s forget for a moment the fact that your hateful words could be the final straw for someone hanging by a thread on the opposite end of a fiber-optic cable.

Let me instead attempt to appeal to your pragmatic side.

When you disagree with someone, I assume your goal is to make them see your perspective (which in itself is an act of aggression. Ideally our goal would be to make the other person feel heard and understood, but let’s not ask for the moon here.)

So if your goal is to convince someone that you are right, calling them names and insulting their intelligence is undoubtedly the least likely way to achieve your desired result.

If you actually wanted someone to come around to your perspective you would actually take the opposite approach and try to make the person feel validated. When people feel validated, they tend to like you and when they like you they tend to care about what you have to say.

This can be done quickly and easily by asking a question that summarizes the statement that you disagree with, because when you ask a question it shows you are curious about the person’s point of view and when you are curious it means you care. Furthermore when you sum up the person’s angle inside of your question it proves that you have already been listening.

disagreement-hierarchy (post once in a while)

So maybe you say something like

“So you think Obama was worse than Trump on immigration, due to the fact that he deported more people?”

This is difficult to do.

It requires a suppression of ego.

Many people have a really fragile self-esteem and aren’t willing to entertain the idea that they might actually be wrong.

If our self-esteem is contingent on always being right then we are more likely to lash out at those who disagree with us and even block that person from having a voice. This leads to the creation of an echo-chamber, where only those who believe as we do are allowed to express their thoughts.

Creating an echo-chamber is a guaranteed way to limit our effectiveness, while simultaneously eroding our ability to process information rationally.

like

I am often struck with the awareness that in this world of fake news and alternative facts that otherwise rational actors have become indistinguishable from the religious people whom they often disparage.

I have known many people who have found god and then attempted to convince me that they were now in possession of some great piece of knowledge and if I didn’t read the things that they had read and come to the same conclusions that they did then I was somehow inferior to them.

This is literally the exact same process we see with people trying to force their political views on others.

“Oh you don’t agree? Well read this!!”

Then we read it and are left with more questions than answers and we are attacked for not coming to the same conclusions that the other came to.

We are accused of being willfully ignorant and then the character assassinations begin.

People engaged in heated political discussions are often indistinguishable from religious zealots.

It is no wonder that these exchanges rarely end well.

patrobertson

As Godwin’s Law has been temporarily suspended due to the advent of having an ACTUAL Nazi in the White House, I propose a new law.

We can call it …hmmmm… Sparks’ Law (to be renamed when someone comes up with a better moniker.)

Sparks’ Law states that whenever someone uses name-calling or character assassination (aka ad hominem attacks) during an argument that they have automatically lost the argument and all communication should cease until the time when those in violation of Sparks’ Law admit wrongdoing and can get back on track by summarizing the position of the person or persons that they were debating.

Example:

Person A: You’re being willfully ignorant.

Person B: I’m invoking Sparks’ Law. I’m not going to have this discussion if you are going to attack my motives.

Person A: So you’re going to be a little bitch and run away because you know that I’m right!?

Person B: Sparks’ Law has been invoked. I declare victory in this debate until which time you see fit to calm yourself and stick to the subject without insulting my person.

Three hours later:

Person A: Sorry, I was really upset earlier. Let’s try this again. So your position is that you feel Trump is being unfairly maligned on immigration and your basis for this is that Obama deported more people than Trump has at this point in his presidency?

Person B: Dammit. I thought I had won that one. Now you are going to force me to actually debate it? LOL. Yeah that’s pretty much my point. You disagree?

Person A: Well yeah, I do and here’s my basis for that…

wrongway

I am bookmarking this article and I suggest you do the same.

The next time someone attacks you simply say

“I’m invoking Sparks’ Law.” and drop this link on them and you win.

You win your sanity and you win back the time you were about to waste arguing with someone who doesn’t respect you or the basic rules of debate.

It’s a great tool to let the other person know that you are more than willing to debate the issue with them, but before you do, they must agree to calm down and exercise reason and logic above childish name-calling.

I doubt you will actually use this amazing tool I’ve created for you.

Your probably too much of a stupid looser to even comprehend such a brilliant concept.

dresswithgun
Michael E Sparks is the creator of Sparks’ Law and hundreds of others of ideas that never caught on. If you want to support independent writing you can drop him a dollar by clicking HERE. If he gets enough dollars he will buy himself a new dress.

 

I remember back during the general election. I would talk about Hillary Clinton’s obvious corruption and how this corruption took away any chance I ever had of voting for her and over and over again I would be met with the same ridiculous straw-man argument

“So what?! You want Trump to win?!”

No. Believe it or not, someone can dislike Hillary Clinton and still hate Donald Trump.

It’s like I’m saying “I’m not in the mood for pizza.” and someone starts yelling at me

“SO WHAT?!? YOU WANT BURGERS THEN?!?”

No thank you.

It is possible that I could just want neither.

I like Bernie Sanders.

Gimme some soul food!!

soulfood

But this silliness knows no bounds.

Specifically, I am referring to the left’s inability to grasp that one can accept that the DNC screwed Bernie Sanders out of the Democratic nomination, while simultaneously believing that Putin favored Trump and probably worked with Julian Assange to assist in his election.

“OH MY GOD!! BLASPHEMY AGAINST OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JULIAN ASSANGE!!”

While I am all for freedom of information and LOVE LOVE LOVE (!!) that Wikileaks published the DNC emails, I do not believe for a second that Assange did this out of the kindness of his heart.

The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend and I am far too skeptical of a person to just accept someone’s motives as pure, without a thorough examination of the evidence.

Do you honestly believe that Assange is some huge fan of America and just loves our Democracy SO MUCH that he released the DNC emails just to be really helpful?

Isn’t it much more likely, given his relationship with Putin and the fact that Wikileaks chose to NOT release any negative information regarding Trump, that Assange has an agenda?

Assange’s back is literally against the wall, sitting in an Ecuadorian embassy. He knows for a fact that Hillary Clinton will pressure the Ecuadorians to turn him over into U.S. custody. This gives him motive.

Is it possible that Assange may have been promised protections by Trump and Putin in exchange for publishing information that lead to Trump’s rise to power?

ASKING THIS QUESTION DOESN’T MEAN THAT YOU ARE EXCUSING WHAT THE DNC DID TO BERNIE SANDERS!!

IT JUST MEANS THAT YOU ARE THINKING!!

Assange may hate Hillary Clinton, but merely hating a corrupt politician does not make one pure.

Assange has ample motive to help Trump get elected.

If Clinton were elected, his days were numbered.

assangetarget

“OH BUT I AM ARMED WITH A MEME THAT SAYS THAT WIKILEAKS HAS NEVER HAD TO RETRACT A STORY!!”

It’s not about whether the leaks are true or not.

Wikileaks does not fabricate information.

But why did Assange attack one corrupt candidate while leaving an equally corrupt candidate alone?

It’s a question everyone should be asking.

I fully accept the DNC’s corruption and am personally DELIGHTED that Hillary lost, but that does nothing to alter the VERY REAL possibility that Donald Trump is in collusion with Vladimir Putin.

Putin is the same person who helped prop up Chechnyan dictator Ramzan Kadyrov who is currently rounding up and exterminating people FOR BEING GAY!!

Putin is the same person who usurped the Ukrainian election, in order to keep them from becoming part of the European Union and murdered thousands of unarmed people when they resisted!!

Putin is known for interfering with other people’s democracies.

So why so quick to dismiss this as a possibility?

sethrich

“OH BUT SETH RICH WAS MURDERED BY THE DNC AND THAT PROVES…”

What does Seth Rich’s murder prove?!

Seriously!

He was alone, late at night, in Washington DC, one of the most violent cities in America.

Perhaps he was killed as part of a gang initiation.

Perhaps he was killed by an enemy that he created that was not political in nature (ie a relationship gone wrong, etc).

Perhaps he WAS killed by the DNC or perhaps he was a loose end that Putin needed to tie up to make sure that he was not implicated.

I would not trust the DNC or Vladimir Putin.

Neither of them have earned our trust.

As a skeptic, I would never rule out anything, but if you are CONVINCED that the DNC killed Seth Rich I submit that your overwhelming hatred of Hillary Clinton and the bitterness that you feel regarding the DNC’s mistreatment of Bernie Sanders has interfered with your judgment.

Truth is a casualty for those whose utmost concern is being right.

theoryahead

I don’t KNOW a goddamned thing, but here’s what I think.

I think the DNC is corrupt and that they screwed Bernie Sanders over to insure that they could have their corrupt, corporate candidate in charge, because she was already bought and paid for and would do EXACTLY what her corporate donors wanted her to do.

The DNC used the media to “elevate” Trump, because he was the least likely to provide a legitimate challenge to Clinton. Clinton believed that with such an obvious xenophobe running against her that even those who hated her would show up to vote for her, resulting in an easy win for the Democrats.

When Putin realized that Trump was likely to be the GOP nominee he struck a deal with Trump that he would use Wikileaks to show his opponent’s corruption, while agreeing NOT to expose Trump’s wrongdoings.

James Comey, a die-hard Conservative, refused to prosecute Clinton, because the GOP knew that if Clinton were indicted, then Sanders would be the nominee and that Trump would lose in a landslide. Comey did not make this decision alone, of course, but was under tremendous pressure from the right to allow Clinton to walk away free, while simultaneously saying some version of “Any normal person would be prosecuted.” which of course made the left even angrier and less likely to vote for Clinton, just as the GOP planned.

Since Trump has continued to embarrass the Republicans, thereby making it harder for them to keep their seats in 2018, the same Republicans who pressured Comey to allow Clinton to continue on as the Democratic nominee, now want Comey to implicate Trump for Russian collusion, so they can scapegoat Trump and hold their seats in 2018.

Trump’s tax returns likely show some kind of Russian business connections that would further implicate him with Putin.

Trump fired Comey because Trump is a loose cannon who makes knee-jerk decisions and Trump believes that by firing Comey and replacing him with someone who will stop the Russian investigation he can take the heat off himself.

Trump is wrong.

Trump is not a smart man.

Trump has exhausted his usefulness to the GOP.

The GOP is imploding.

Trump’s days are numbered.

ryan_trump_split

The DNC corruption and the Russian collusion are likely related, but that does not mean that one cannot be absolutely disgusted by the DNC’s shady dealings, yet still be very concerned with the Trump-Putin relationship.

Some would argue that Comey’s firing by Trump, proves that Comey was not attempting to help Trump win in the first place. To believe this would be to take an overly-simplistic view of what it meant for the GOP to face a badly damaged Hillary Clinton.

The reward for the GOP wasn’t simply the fact that a damaged Clinton hobbling through the general election helped the possibility of Trump winning, but what was much more important to the GOP was the fact that the Dems running a corrupt candidate meant a suppressed leftist voter turnout, which lead to the GOP maintaining control over the House and Senate, which of course, is where the real power lies.

While the DNC was busy elevating Trump, the GOP was busy damaging Clinton, but they DID NOT WANT HER INDICTED BECAUSE HER INDICTMENT MEANT A SANDERS PRESIDENCY, WHICH MEANT A HIGH VOTER TURNOUT, WHICH MEANT THE DEMS COULD GAIN CONTROL OF ALL THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT.

These oligarchs play dirty and they play to win.

I’m just a skeptic.

I don’t KNOW anything.

Be wary of those who say that they do.

rockstar
Michael E Sparks is an activist, independent writer and opinionated jerk. If his writing moves you please consider donating $1 by clicking HERE. Your donation buys him time to sit as his computer and spew forth more jerky opinions about politics.

 

Dear Mr Coal Roller,

How you doin, brother?

I’m guessing that you are busy setting liberals straight about Climate Change and other important issues facing our great country.

I just wanted to take a moment to drop you a line and let you know that I understood what you were attempting to say, when you cut me off in traffic and blew toxic smoke all over me and my children today. It would probably delight you to know that one of my children had a really awful asthma attack as a result and became very sick for the remainder of the day.

But hey, that’s a good thing right? Odds are that my kid will grow up to be a liberal and if you can kill them before they reach voting age, then I suppose, in your mind, you have done your country a great service.

Neither of my kids understood the statement you were trying to make. In fact, my youngest thought there was something wrong with your truck and said “Daddy, are you going to help that man with his car?”, because that’s what we try to do in our daily walk through this challenging life.

We try to help people.

coalroll3

My kids didn’t understand your message, but I read you loud and clear.

You wanted to show me your superiority by dangerously cutting in front of my car and releasing a cloud of black soot onto us. You wanted “to let dem stupid libtards know” that you are the superior being.

I have no doubt that you are convinced of your superiority, what with your Trump sticker, confederate flag decal and not one, but two actual American flags protruding on either side of your truck-bed. And to go through all the time and expense to modify your truck to burn off excess foreign-oil the way you did.

You sir, are a true American.

I get it. You don’t believe in Climate Change, because some guy on Fox News told you that the whole thing was a conspiracy dreamed up by liberals or the Chinese. Let’s not bother with the fact that Fox News is co-owned by a Saudi Prince who makes billions off selling you on the idea that Climate Change is a lie. Let’s not ruin your fun with facts. Facts and science are for us stupid liberals, right?

I understand that when you release that cloud of black death into the air that you are not only announcing your superiority, but you are also letting the world know your opinion on science. And your opinion MUST BE EXPRESSED, because you are afraid that you and your voice are being marginalized. You are watching the world slip away and that scares the hell out of you.

I get it man.

Everybody gets it.

We ALL see you for what you are.

We see you as afraid.

coalroll4

Your fear explains your posturing and the fact that you go out of your way to intimidate others. It explains the fact that you not only feel the need to own a gun, but you also feel the need to advertise that fact with your gun stick-figure family in your back window.

You’re afraid.

We get it.

You’re afraid the brown man is going to take your job and do it better. You’re afraid he’s going to fuck your wife in a way you never had the courage or consideration to. You’re afraid he’s going to marry your daughter and gradually breed your race completely out of existence. You’re afraid of EVERYTHING so you posture.

But it’s more than just fear.

There is also the matter of your gigantic, unsubstantiated ego.

You’re a big important man and you feel the need to express yourself. Sadly, you seem to have run out of room for self-expression on your truck. I’d suggest you get a Pinterest account. You could post pictures of guns, truck mods, Jesus and all the spray-tanned women you objectify. You really need to get a Pinterest account, dude. A guy like you, who has a flair for self-expression, would REALLY love Pinterest.

coalroll6

I try not to take your actions personally. But it does bother me that your display of douchebaggery endangers the lives of my fellow motorists. For when you release that amount of smoke on the interstate (these guys always spray me on the interstate) you take away the visibility of everyone behind you and this can cause accidents and maybe even death.

I know you don’t care about the lives of the other motorists, because they are probably just women and people of other races and therefore are less valuable in your mind, but you do understand that some of these cars contain children, right? And we all know how much you love children, because you can’t shut up about how women who have abortions are nothing but “sluts and baby murderers”.

Here’s a little tip. If you love children so much, maybe don’t spray toxic smoke in their faces. Children’s lungs tend to me more vulnerable to that type of thing.

Or is your stance on abortion about something else?

Is it perhaps just another way for you to exercise power and control over women?

Would the pathogenesis of your abortion view be, in ANY way, related to your below-average penis size?

Have you ever entertained this theory?

It might be worth considering.

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As I watch you burn away into the distance, looking for the next vehicle brazen enough to exercise their First Amendment right to post a liberal bumper sticker on their car, I have an imaginary conversation with you where I ask you why you drive a vehicle that gets inferior gas mileage and thereby supports the same Muslim countries that you profess to hate.

I mean, if you really hate Muslims so bad, it seems like you’d drive a hybrid, right?

And while we are on the topic, you should probably do a little research on your “American-made” truck. As it turns out, the Prius that you hate so much, has more American made parts on it than your Ford truck does.

But you aren’t real big on logic and reason, are you Mr Coal Roller? Intelligence isn’t exactly your forte, is it? In fact, you wear your ignorance with pride, because it is only with extreme ignorance that one can muster up such confidence and swagger as to be able to walk around feeling like you are the smartest motherfucker in every room despite ALL evidence to the contrary.

Because you are the straight-white man and you feel very strongly that everybody should listen to you and all of your brilliant thoughts on life.

There’s only one problem.

With each passing year, fewer and fewer people care about what you say or what you think.

The world WILL continue to evolve, with or without you.

Gays will continue to marry.

Women and minorities will continue to demand equality.

And fewer and fewer people will believe in make-believe invisible gods.

Conservatism has been a giant failure.

Enlightenment is inevitable.

The whole world is slipping away from you.

And you are powerless to stop it.

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Michael E Sparks is a good ol boy Leftist activist and independent writer from Indiana. If you like what he has to say, you can throw him a buck or two by clicking HERE. Thank you for supporting Independent journalism!!

It’s cold and rainy here in Indiana.

The sun has been in hiding for a week now.

This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for the contrast.

A year ago Bernie Sanders won the Democratic primary in my predominantly Republican state. It was not something I thought I would ever see, a Socialist winning Indiana. My friends and I worked very hard for this and lately the contrast between the incredible difference between last year and this year has been weighing heavily on me.

A year ago, at this time, the sun was shining and we were out knocking on doors. The heat was stifling, but we were determined. We would finish our canvassing routes then text back to the campaign center for new addresses. Bernie wasn’t resting and we weren’t either. It was an incredibly exciting time. Hope permeated everything.

But these days hope seems to have eloped with the sun. A madman is in power and the world suddenly seems very dangerous. There is a pronounced and organized shift towards fascism all over the planet. Gay men are being murdered in Chechnya. Drug addicts are facing systematic execution in Singapore. And hope is on the chopping block back here in America.

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But I know that there is a heavy price to pay for letting this sadness have its way with me. So I dragged myself into the gym this morning and forced myself to exercise. The gray crept in through the windows, while greater darkness protruded from the televisions mounted all around the gym.

Republican controlled Congress was voting to take healthcare away from our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, while Donald Trump was attempting to provide a smokescreen by signing an executive order that eroded the separation of church and state.

I pushed myself harder. Sometimes exercise helps me keep the darkness at bay. Today was not one of those days. After an hour I gave up and headed to my car.

As I approached the stop light where I usually turn right to go home, I surprised myself and took a sudden left. I knew that my girlfriend, Carrie, would be struggling with her own demons, so I decided that I would take her thrifting. Carrie’s eyes had been red over the past few days and I knew that she was struggling to find her smile. I figured it might be camouflaged somewhere on a thrift-store shelf, cleverly hidden behind VHS copies of E.T. or perhaps tucked in between old Barry Manilow and Lawrence Welk albums. Carrie can find happiness in the tiniest of things and I find tremendous joy in her happiness. We are good for each other this way.

As my car rounded the corner I saw three black youths pushing a stalled vehicle on the shoulder of a busy street. This situation looked to be dangerous. A busy street with decreased visibility could have been a recipe for disaster for these kids, so I pulled my car up behind them and hit my flashers. I had figured that their friend was the one steering the broken down car, but as I approached the vehicle the three youths took off.

The driver was an old white man. I asked him if he was okay and he said he was out of gas. I told him that I was going to push his car up to a nearby gas station and told him to put it in neutral and I’d get him there.

 

I point out that the man was white for the same reason that I point out that those helping him were black. Because I want to correct the lie that media feeds us, that different races should be afraid of each other. Even though I know this is propaganda designed to keep us afraid and tuned in, still I often catch myself falling for it. And on this day, when my heart was in the valley, thinking about all the hatred and fear that are permeating the planet we inhabit, I needed to see this.

I needed to be reminded that there was colorful beauty in the world on a day when everything seemed so gray.

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I started pushing the man’s car and soon a fireman got out of his truck and came over to assist and then another man who was wearing an NRA hat and an American flag T-shirt came to put his weight into the car as well.

Once we got the old man’s car to the pump, I walked back to my own car and continued onto the thrift-store. Carrie and I enjoyed looking around, but as usual, we left empty handed. We don’t really need anything.

When I got into my car and turned the key, nothing happened. My car was dead. As I got up under the hood and attempted to apply my limited mechanical knowledge, I actually thought about how having 19 Bernie Sanders stickers on my car probably made it a lot less likely that anyone would ever stop to help me.

I am often wrong.

After about 45 minutes of working on my car to no avail, a truck pulled up beside me and an Asian man got out with a huge smile. He introduced himself and asked me if it was okay for him to take a look under my hood. He looked for a minute and then said that he had identified the problem. I told him that I was going to have my car towed to the shop, because I didn’t have any tools with me. He said “That won’t be necessary.” and reached into his truck and produced a toolbox.

While he worked he asked me about my Bernie stickers and I told him how I had collected them from different campaign centers all over the country while I was canvassing for the Sanders campaign. He told me that Bernie Sanders inspired him to leave his job in the banking industry and become a full-time mechanic, because, as he put it “Banking was destroying my integrity.”

I told him that I believe our focus has to be on reaching out to people who are different than us and humanizing them by having real life compassionate interactions with those who have differing political viewpoints. He agreed that this was the key and then he said “Start her up.”

My car started right up. As I exited the vehicle I saw my new friend standing there smiling, completely drenched in the freezing rain.

I reached for my wallet and handed him some money.

“No sir.” he said “I couldn’t possibly accept that.”

“I was going to have my car towed to the shop. You just saved me hundreds of dollars.” I said, while pushing the money towards him.

“I didn’t help you for money, Michael. I helped you because you needed help.”

And with that my new friend disappeared into the gray.

And somehow he took my sadness right along with him.

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Michael E Sparks is an independent writer and political activist. If you believe in his words and his mission, feel free to toss him a dollar by clicking HERE.

“Where the hell have you been, Mike?!”

Oh hey, good to see you, glad to be back. To answer your question, I’ve been writing a book, working on local legislation and I had to battle a studio to get the rights to a song I wrote way back in the primaries (the studio was actually refusing to give me the tracks to the song I wrote and paid to record!!).

Anyway, enough about me, let’s talk politics. Today I am taking a break from my book to answer some well-founded criticisms leveled at Bernie Sanders over the past few months.

Let’s get started by acknowledging that the Democratic Party is an absolute joke and that Tom Perez has no business running it. His appointment as head of the DNC is a blatant slap in the face to Progressives. It should have been Sam Ronan or Keith Ellison. The DNC owes Progressives an apology, but instead they kick us while we are down.

Seeing Bernie Sanders out on the campaign trail with pretend Progressive Tom Perez talking about Unity is enough to send many leftists off the deep end.

Myself included.

I’m angry!

You’re angry!!

We’re all angry!!!

But that’s not the point of this article.

What I’m going to do over the next few minutes is attempt to show you a different point of view as to why I believe that Bernie Sanders is still the most Progressive voice in all of politics.

Let’s do this!!

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“Dude, how the hell can you defend Bernie Sanders?!?! He endorsed Hillary Clinton and she is literally the antithesis of everything he stands for!!”

That’s a really great point. Bernie spent months reminding us that we have got to stand up and reclaim our government from the mega-corporations that own and control it. Then after loyal donors like you and I had thrown down $253,000,000, $27 at a time, he suddenly turns tail and endorses this corporate shill.

Even though I knew for a week that it was going to happen, the day that Bernie stood on that stage with the soulless one was one of the hardest days of my life. I went to the gym because I was feeling like I was going to vomit and I didn’t know what else to do. At the gym I grabbed the heaviest weights I could find and just tried to take my anger out on them, but it didn’t help. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I was so angry and in so much pain. At that moment I felt like the last year of my life had been thrown away. I cannot tell you the tremendous agony that I felt. In the following weeks I noticed myself going through the same stages of grief that I had gone through two years earlier when my mother had passed.

It was an awful thing, but it was absolutely necessary.

I will attempt to explain why.

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In order to do so we must first deal with the gaslighting distraction known as Jill Stein. I’ve heard many people say “Jill Stein is just like Bernie Sanders!”, but NOTHING could be further from the truth.

While Bernie Sanders is knee-deep in the disgusting muck of the Washington D.C. Senate floor, Jill Stein is tweeting about the establishment from the comfort of her plush estate. While I do not begrudge Jill her financial success, I do think it is important that we delineate that a non-politician, calling the plays from the sidelines, has certain freedoms that someone in the trenches does not.

PUH-LEASE don’t try to tell me that Jill is an actual politician, just because she has a pretend run for the presidency every four years. Vermin Supreme (FREE PONY PLEASE!!) does the exact same thing and he has nearly the same level of support that Stein does. Stein sitting on the sidelines talking about revolution is like a fat sports fan sitting in his recliner, yelling at the TV about how Tom Brady should have done this instead of that. It’s ludicrous. The Green Party is not a real party in America. They rarely win mayoral seats or governorships. They don’t win Congressional or Senate seats. They rarely even compete seriously for these positions.

They are NOT a real party.

I would like them to be a real party. I volunteered for them. I gave them money. I went to Green Party meetings where three other people showed up. I knocked on doors for them. I emailed them daily when I got back from protesting the DNC in Philadelphia, but never got any replies. I’m the crazy guy that was on Fox News with Jill Stein tattooed on the side of his head. You won’t find anyone who was a bigger fan of Jill Stein, but then I woke up and realized that expecting Bernie Sanders to join the Green “Party” is like me inviting Tom Cruise to come over and play Call of Duty with me. The dude has better things to do.

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Why am I saying all of this?

Because many of Sanders’ biggest critics say “Instead of endorsing Clinton, Bernie should have joined the Green Party.”, a belief that was fostered by Jill Stein playing the victim on every television network that would allow her to speak.

Who can forget how Jill continued to whine “We keep trying to contact Bernie, but he won’t return our calls.” or how she attempted to divide the left against Sanders with subtle jabs like “perhaps because he’s been in Washington, D.C., too long”, insinuating that Bernie was nothing but a tool for the establishment?

These opportunistic slams were effective. As Jill continued to flood the MSM airwaves with her “Poor me, Bernie won’t answer my calls.” agenda that was clearly designed to raise funds for The Green Party, angry Sanders’ supporters gradually started turning against him and wondered why Sanders just didn’t join Stein’s ticket when she was being so gracious as to offer it to him.

Stein used Sanders and his grieving supporters as a tool to promote herself when she knew full-well that she was not running a serious campaign. She took money from the disenfranchised while pretending to run for president and worst of all she tried to make Sanders look bad in the process.

We all know what would have happened, had Sanders been foolish enough to accept Stein’s offer. Sanders’ supporters (about 20-30 million people) would have voted for him. Traditional Democrats (approximately 40 million people in 2016) would have voted for Hillary. And Trump voters would have still voted for Donald Trump and Trump would have won BY A LANDSLIDE due to the left vote being divided.

And who would have been blamed for the Democrats loss?

Yeah you got it!!

This guy!!

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But let’s sail away to the land of rainbows and unicorns and engage in some magical thinking just for fun.

Let’s imagine that Bernie would have actually won as the Green Party candidate. I know this would have never happened, but let’s just imagine that he would have for one second.

If Bernie had won on the Green Party ticket his presidency would have been even more impotent than Barack Obama’s was. He would have been opposed at every turn, because he would have inherited a House and Senate that HAD ZERO GREEN PARTY MEMBERS!! The establishment Democrats and Republicans would have opposed him at every turn. They would have been furious that he had dared disrupt their little corporate shell game and they would have made his presidency completely ineffective.

Top 1% Would Pay Two-Thirds of Higher Taxes Under Obama Plan

“Well he could have signed executive orders!!”

Executive orders for what?!

Literally every single Progressive item on Sanders agenda needs Congressional approval to become law. If you think Obama had it rough with the GOP opposing him, I hope you realize that Sanders would have had it ten times harder with the entire government against him.

So Sanders did what he said he would when he infiltrated the Democratic Party. He played by their rules and endorsed the candidate who “won” the Democratic Primary, not because he wanted to, but because it was the most strategic move he could make in an extremely difficult situation.

It’s also important to remember that he did not just GIVE Clinton his endorsement. He sat down with her team and hammered out concessions beforehand. He TRADED his endorsement for her promise. It’s logical that you would say “Clinton is a liar so why would he even trust her?”, but he didn’t have a lot of options. If someone has a gun to your loved one’s head, you may not trust them, but you had better try to work something out, because you are in absolutely no position to negotiate.

Bernie did the only thing he could do.

He traded his endorsement for platform concessions, then he went out on the campaign trail and attempted to lock Clinton into keeping her word by saying “Secretary Clinton knows the importance of…” night after night, making it to where everyone would know if she lied.

It was an extremely difficult thing to do, but Sanders did what was best for us.

It really angers me that some refuse to engage logic and see that.

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“Okay dude, those are all really good points, but Bernie was being cheated and he just sat back and let it happen. He should have spoken up! When Bernie was cheated, we were all cheated. It’s Bernie’s job to stand up for us.”

Uh…no.

It’s actually our job to stand up for him in this case.

I was there on the ground in Iowa for the caucus and was able to see some of the shenanigans firsthand. I don’t want to get into details about all the election fraud that took place during the Democratic primary, but if you believe that Bernie Sanders is supposed to lose all his power by marginalizing himself against a corporate Democratic Party that is worth billions of dollars and literally controls the media and nearly every aspect of this country, then I submit that you haven’t thought this through.

If Sanders would have been so foolhardy as to say “I’m being cheated in this election.” then he would have given the media exactly what they wanted. They would have marginalized him as a fringe, paranoid candidate and his campaign would have been less effective.

Sanders knew all along that the establishment was looking to discredit him, so he had to walk a very narrow path. Had he called the Dems out for their cheating, then he would have lost any chance he had for platform concessions, while simultaneously diminishing his power in the Senate.

The Dems are a club. Bernie has been finding ways to work with them and get legislation passed for decades. This legislation changes lives and helps millions. Had he returned to the Senate having embarrassed the Democratic Party, they would have kicked him off all of his subcommittees and he would have been completely powerless. As it stands now, they are scared of him. They are trying to pretend to embrace his ideology while he tries to pull the entire party to the left.

People like me and Jill Stein have the luxury to sit on the sidelines and scream the truth about how disgusting the Democratic Party is. If Bernie Sanders does that then he throws away all of our $27 donations and in case you were wondering what all that money you donated got you, it got you an entire party that is shaking in their $500 shoes over Bernie Sanders and if we keep applying the pressure then we might actually be able to get a few things done with that fear.

Bernie Sanders is literally the ONLY person that cannot step up and talk about how he was cheated. If he does that all is lost.

It is OUR job to stop election fraud.

Bernie Sanders is not in a position to do that.

He is our voice on the inside.

He has to play by a different set of rules.

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“Wow dude!! My head is so firmly planted up my own ass that I never even thought of that. Still, I wish Bernie would have just contested the convention.”

Bernie needed 1900 delegates to contest and he only had 1845. That’s not something he could control. The goal was to sway 55 delegates to be able to contest the convention and the DNC knew that this was his goal, so what did they do? They started trying to disqualify his delegates. They were looking for any reason at all to discredit them. At first they started trying to disqualify them by saying that they didn’t have the proper credentials, but Sanders was prepared for that. He brought a team of lawyers with him and they were all over this shady DNC trick, so then the DNC started trying to disqualify Sanders’ delegates for petty offenses like holding up signs. It was an absolute disgusting attack on democracy.

Bernie did everything he could, but he COULD NOT formally contest the convention.

Sanders’ detractors like to use this as a way of trying to make him look like a sellout. There is nothing in the way Sanders handled the DNC that would indicate that he had any inkling of “selling out”.

Do you remember the tremendous pressure that the Dems were putting on Bernie to step down? Do you remember how Congressional Dems openly booed Sanders during his speech? Do you remember how he said “Boo all you want. I’m going to continue to work to transform this country.”? Do you remember how he held a live stream during this intense pressure and everyone thought he was going to concede, but instead he pissed off the Dems even more by calling upon his followers to run for office?

Bernie refused to concede and went all the way to the convention. He even won the morning roll call (please don’t tell me that he didn’t. I was a Sanders state delegate. I was there at the convention when it happened. It was absolute pandemonium!!). But then the Dems used their nuclear option and called in the $uper-delegates.

Sanders used a brilliant strategy. He requested that Vermont go last. I stood in FDR park with 40,000 of my closest friends and watched these professional criminals dismantle the last remaining pieces of our democracy. It was sickening. My girlfriend turned to me with tears in her eyes and said “This is just like The Hunger Games.”

After all the $uper-delegates pledged against Sanders he could have conceded. That’s what any other candidate would have done.

Instead Sanders did something unprecedented. He grabbed the microphone and suspended the rules of the convention. This was a brilliant strategic move. By suspending the rules he put himself in position to take over the nomination should Clinton be indicted. Sanders had no way of knowing if James Comey was capable of actually doing his job or not and by suspending the rules he actually gave himself a chance to win should the FBI indict Hillary.

An interesting side-note; Comey, a conservative, did not prosecute Hillary Clinton.

Clinton fans said that this proved that Clinton was innocent.

Sanders fans said that this was proof that Clinton had pressured Comey and he had succumbed to the pressure.

I have a different theory.

I believe Comey refused to prosecute Clinton because he knew that Sanders would have wiped the floor with Donald Trump in the general election, as well as bringing out a record number of voters and this would have flipped the House and Senate to the Dems.

Comey didn’t prosecute Clinton because she was a weak candidate and she was the Republicans only chance to win.

Comey’s announcement that the investigation was reopening a few days before the election, when they had three worthless emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer, all but confirms that this was the GOP’s plan all along.

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“Wow!! Mind blown!! I never thought about any of this. Still, most of Bernie’s delegates struggled to get the money to make the trip. That really hurt. If he was going to concede, I wish he would have done it before the convention.”

He didn’t concede. He never had any intention to. Sanders’ plan was to contest the convention, but we all saw that the DNC was intent on winning by any means necessary, even if it meant they had to disqualify his delegates.

But the presence of the delegates (as well as the presence of thousands of protesters) gave Sanders some leverage. He needed us there to show the establishment that we meant business. Also, he didn’t know for sure how the convention would play out. He may have needed those delegates should he have an opportunity to contest.

I know firsthand how incredibly difficult getting to Philly was. I was so broke that I couldn’t afford a plane ticket or a hotel room. I actually drove 28 hours and slept on an air mattress at a friend’s house. We exhausted the last of our funds to be there. It was one of the most difficult and rewarding experiences of my life and I only went as a protester (I was a Sanders county and state delegate, but opted to promote more qualified people for the national delegate position. My friends rocked it on the inside while I stayed outside and did television interviews to promote our cause).

It sucks that so many uniformed people blame Sanders for not contesting the convention when everyone on the inside knows that the DNC made this an impossibility, but let’s turn the table on this question and look at it from a different perspective.

Bernie stated repeatedly that his campaign was about millions of people standing up against the establishment. Perhaps the pilgrimage to the east coast was a right of passage for true revolutionaries. Considering all that Sanders did for us, I feel that going to Philly was the least we could have done for our cause. Instead of asking why Sanders asked so much of us, perhaps we should be asking what we can do to have a bigger impact in this revolution.

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“Okay, okay…I didn’t know all that, but still Sanders is a sellout. He even said that he believed the story about the Russian hacking.”

Look. I’m fed up with the left thinking that they know so much about the Russian story. You don’t know. I don’t know. If you claim that you do know then you’re deluding yourself. What we DO know is that Putin has a long history of interfering with the elections of other countries, so it’s not so far-fetched.

For those of you who have went off the deep end with your Putin love, you should do some reading on what’s happening in Chechnya, where gays are being rounded up and exterminated under a dictator that Putin put in place or maybe you should talk to the family members of the thousands of Ukrainians massacred by Putin’s propped up dictator Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych.

The DNC is not to be trusted.

The CIA is not to be trusted.

Vladimir Putin is not to be trusted.

I know that it’s more fun to believe that Julian Assange is just an honest whistle-blower and to hold him in godlike esteem, especially when the US government has basically put a price on his head, but honestly you should ask yourself why Wikileaks released info that hurt Clinton, while making no effort to release anything that could have damaged Trump.

Do you believe that Trump does not have any skeletons in his closet?

Do you believe that Wikileaks could not access anything that could have hurt Trump?

What bugs me more than the Russian narrative is that the people who claim that the Russians DID NOT interfere seem to be just as misinformed as those who blindly believe the corporate media.

You don’t know.

I don’t know.

We may never know.

So let’s stop talking about it until we see proof.

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“Fair enough, but you have to admit it’s sickening to see Bernie out there sheep-dogging for Tom Perez and the DNC.”

Let me tell you about my girlfriend, Carrie.

Carrie is the best person I have ever met. She is open and honest and caring and I believe every word she says. Considering that I am a cynical and jaded person, who is accustomed to doubting everyone and everything, it is kind of amazing that I believe her, but if you knew her, you’d understand.

Carrie is a person of great integrity.

So if I saw Carrie do something that seemed like it was of questionable ethics, I would assume that Carrie had a good reason or was under some sort of tremendous duress.

See where I’m going with this?

Bernie Sanders has literally spent his entire life fighting for justice and equality. He fought when no one was watching. He fought when other Senators and Congressional members booed him and walked out on him. He fought when he was the only one fighting and he fought for us before most of us were even born.

So forgive me if I don’t rush to call him a sellout just because he doesn’t do everything the way I would do it. I fully accept that Bernie Sanders has better information than I can attain through social media and shady news sites.

What I’ve been seeing with Bernie seems like he is playing a strategy game. He goes out on the road with the head of the DNC and talks about unity while simultaneously using their pulpit to preach his Progressive agenda. Then I see him using his newfound fame to talk to the media about how the Democrats need to cleanse themselves of corruption and become a more Progressive party.

Perhaps you don’t understand that America’s Constitution locks it into a two-party system through plurality voting. Perhaps you should read up on that instead of talking out of your ass about the Green Party on social media. Maybe, just maybe Bernie Sanders might know more about the American political system than you do. Maybe you don’t understand that splitting the left into two parties means that Republicans will dominate elections for so long that America will perish in the process.

Maybe this is all new information for you.

Maybe you operate inside of a social media echo-chamber with other misinformed people like yourself, who would prefer to complain about things instead of getting off their lazy asses and actually doing something about it.

Maybe YOU are intentionally naive.

Maybe that makes your life easier.

Maybe you’re the type who just likes to be contrary.

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“Dude! Chill out!! You’re being agro!! I’m starting to see your points. Bernie Sanders is actually out there fighting for us in the only way he can. He is operating inside of a corrupt system while simultaneously asking his followers to infiltrate it! That’s completely brilliant!! But one last thing, you saw that mark Bernie Sanders had on his face at the convention. Clearly this means that Clinton’s goons roughed him up so he had to back down or they would have killed his family.”

OMG!! Just when I thought you were getting it!!

Would you like some Fool-Aid with your Pizzagate?!

Let’s get back to reality. Bernie Sanders has been staring down bullies his entire life. Bernie was threatened for sure. He was threatened with losing all his power in the Senate. Instead he chose to increase his power by staying on the inside and challenging us to fight along with him.

Seriously man, we can’t get anything done if you can’t deal in reality. Saying shit like that just embarrasses all of us and hurts our cause.

“Whatever man, you’re a sheeple. Continue drinking the corporate media Kool-Aid. You’re part of the oligarchy!!”

Okay man. You’re off the deep end. I’ll get you some new tin-foil for your hat. Maybe it will help protect you from chem-trails.

“Dude, you’re stupid!! That’s not even how chem-trails work!!”

You oughtta know, crazy guy.

“I’m crazy?!?! You’re the one talking to yourself and using bold-faced type to make it seem like you are talking to someone else. I’m a figment of your imagination. I don’t even actually exist!! Now who’s crazy?!?!”

Well, you’ve got me there.

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Michael E Sparks is an Independent writer and Progressive activist. If his words help you then please share them with others and consider throwing him a dollar or two by clicking HERE. Michael says that being able to afford to eat actually helps him write better.

 

 

 

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I met the amazing people pictured above a year ago, today, at a Bernie Sanders rally in Columbus, Ohio where I was a volunteer, working the door.

I spoke with them before I took this picture and listened to their story.
They felt a renewed spirit and were overwhelmed with joy that they were fortunate to live long enough to see real change in their lifetimes.
I had the good fortune to spend a year of my life talking daily with such beautiful people and listening to them talk about their dreams for a better America.
As I walked them to their seats, I looked outside and could see people lined up all the way to the horizon.
A girl who was volunteering with me said..
“Amazing, right? The line on the other side of the building is just as long.”
I really enjoyed that day.
As I greeted the 18,500 people that came through the door (they had to turn thousands of others away) I couldn’t help but notice the diversity of races and ages.
At the time the corporate media had been hammering home the lie that Sanders was not a real option for president and basically dismissed him as a rock star who appealed only to foolish white kids who simply just didn’t know any better.
This was their attempt to discourage minorities and the disenfranchised from supporting Sanders.
Ironically, the disenfranchised were the very people he represented.
As I watched Muslims, Christians and Jews enter, united by the common values of political revolution, a cage I had kept around my heart began to rust and fall apart.
As I watched people come in with their “Queers for Bernie” shirts and saw a group of punks with Mohawks enter wearing classic punk t-shirts with the sleeves torn off and the designs altered to indicate their support for Senator Sanders, I was reminded of the stories the elders in my Sunday school classes had uploaded into my malleable young mind about a man who came to represent the poor and destitute, a story I had stopped believing years ago after viewing the daily visage of a world gone to hell, where the rich profit from the broken backs and spilled blood of the impoverished.
Now, my cynical heart renewed by seeing the vision of a people united with a common vision, I choked back tears and continued greeting The People.
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A woman in a wheelchair needed assistance.
I pushed her to her seat while tears streamed down her cheeks.
“I’ve seen so much meanness in my life, but never have I been in a place with so much love.” she said.
I walked back to the front gate, where the Secret Service were checking people in, turned to the girl working the gate with me and naively said..
“I guess we know who the next president is going to be.”
And there it is…
The anger.
I feel it welling up inside of me, chasing away the positive feelings I had from this event, dropping a gray film over the entire memory and then replacing it with red anger that makes me want to crush the “Democratic” Party that pissed on our hopes and laughed at our dreams.
I think about the days spent with incredible people who were naive enough to believe that we could save America and become enraged when I think about how it was impossible for us to overcome the wicked arms of the corporate media..
I remember the dreams put on the shelf, so we could volunteer our time for the greater good..
I remember the belts tightened as millions of poor people skipped meals in order to send in their $27 every week..
I remember these things that once brought me joy and I watch the good feelings migrate into unfathomable anger.
We watched CNN broadcast the $uperdelegate totals 24 hours a day, months before they had even pledged, in their attempts to deceive perspective voters.
I was there during the coinflips in Iowa where Hillary Clinton supposedly won six out of six flips to win the state.
I was also in Iowa when Clinton volunteers showed up in red uniforms to fool the caucusers into…
You know what?
I don’t even want to talk about it!
That’s not why I started writing this.
In fact, I am getting caught up in the very opposite of what I wanted to say.
I’m taking a breath.
There’s too much work to do to allow myself to waste time with anger.
Congressional Democrats Hold News Conference Opposing Fast-Tracking The Trans-Pacific Partnership
Our movement has changed.
What was once a movement based on hope has become a movement based on rage.
And while I fully accept that anger is an important part of our movement, we cannot allow it to consume our movement.
Anger is a fast burning fuel that leaves the vessel exhausted and clouds the thinking of those feeling it and while there is no doubt that our anger is justified, I know that this is not a message that we are going to be able to use to elevate our movement to the place it needs to be.
In short, we need the carrot AND the stick.
We not only need to rage against the fascist, corporate machine, but we also need to be inspired by the greater vision that Bernie Sanders used to wake up the masses.
It is not enough to attend town halls and scare the hell out of our so called “representatives”.
It is not enough to focus on what we do not want.
We must also be constantly inspired by that which we DO want.
It is not enough to oppose tax cuts for the rich.
We must also be inspired to pursue our goal of universal healthcare for all citizens.
It is not enough to oppose private prisons that literally make billions off the suffering of The People.
We must also be focused on our vision of a society that would give every citizen access to clean water, proper nutrition and a top-flight education that leads to jobs that make America an amazing place to live.
Because when we live in anger, we live in reaction.
Real power comes from action, not reaction.
Bernie Sanders brought a vision to America that was inspiring and then we watched as the establishment used all of it’s power to destroy that vision.
But they cannot do it without your compliance.
WE decide the world we create.
WE gave the establishment its power and WE will take it away from them.
The Revolution is ongoing, but it cannot run on anger alone.
It needs a hybrid blend that mixes in inspiration as well.
If we forget that, we lose everything.
Be inspired, my friends.
I know it doesn’t seem like it…
But we are winning.
bernieteering
Michael E Sparks is an Independent writer and political activist. If you believe in his vision and want to support it, you can donate $1 by clicking HERE.
I pulled into a fast food restaurant to use the restroom.
 
As I entered I noticed there was some sort of altercation taking place.
 
I hung to the side to observe and see what was going on.
 
I quickly realized that a white man was yelling racial insults at the Hispanic man behind the counter.

Apparently he had been waiting 15 minutes for his food.

I’m not really sure why he was in such a hurry.

He clearly had acquired enough fat reserves to survive without food for the next several months.
 
Making matters more interesting, a black woman was yelling at the white man saying…
 
“It’s his first day. Give him a chance.”
 
The man said..

“All you niggers and wetbacks better stick together, because Trump is going to round up all of you.”

The black lady got in his face and stated the obvious..

“You’re a racist!!”

He replied…

“I’m not a racist. I just don’t see why they only hired one Mexican. I’m sure he has twenty brothers and sisters that live in his house. Why doesn’t he bring a few of em to work with him? I’ll tell you why, because they’re lazy!!”

The lobby was absolutely full and everyone was feeling uncomfortable and looking down at their phones.

I thought about engaging him verbally.

It would have been easy to make him look foolish in front of the crowd, but I realized that this was just my ego talking. I was angry so I wanted to humiliate him. Everyone would have laughed at him and cheered me on, but I’ve done things like this before and often times it has resulted in me and the person I was humiliating coming to blows. On a handful of occasions I have even had the person I was publicly shaming pull out a weapon.

I imagined myself attacking his logical fallacy by saying something like..

“So Mexicans are ‘too lazy’ to work, but you are saying that the problem with this situation is that the restaurant needs to hire MORE Mexicans. So in effect you are saying that this man is doing the work of several people, but not to your satisfaction. I’m confused. Are Mexicans lazy or is the place understaffed? Because you seem to be making both arguments simultaneously and both can’t be true in this case, so pick one.”

This was a bad idea.

The racist would have just been confused and when people get confused in these situations, they often lash out.
 
If I took this path, I would be engaging in self-deception, as my real goal would have been to make him look foolish and inferior so that when he lashed out at me I could have knocked him out and everyone would have said that it was self-defense and thereby justified.

I would have felt like the big hero for a few minutes (unless I got shot) until the police came. Then I would have possibly been taken unto custody. How embarrassing for me to have to call my family and explain to them how I can’t even be trusted to use the restroom without finding my way into a jail cell. I could tell them how I was just defending the Hispanic man’s honor, but they know me all too well.

They would know that I had fallen back on old patterns and that I had let this tiny excuse for a man sidetrack me and now we would have to come up with money to pay legal fees and that this would undoubtedly prohibit us from doing other things that we wanted to do.

Engaging the man verbally was a ridiculous idea and violence is rarely an option and certainly was not required in this situation.

I’m too aware of my own motives and manipulations to engage in such tactics.
 
Still, I wanted to do something to protect the man behind the register.
 
I felt really sad for him.
 
Imagine starting a new job, using a second language, making garbage pay, only to be treated this way by entitled people.
 
I simply could not stand by without doing something to protect the man.
 
So I did what everyone else was doing, I pulled out my phone.
 
But instead of using it to distract myself from the situation, I started making a video of the racist man.
 
He said..
“You aren’t taking MY picture are you?”
 
I said..
“No. I’m making a video. Carry on as you were.”
 
But of course he didn’t carry on as he was.
 
Suddenly he was overwhelmed with the realization that the whole world was watching him.
 
He went completely silent and became kind of fidgety.
 
The woman next to me said..
 
“That’s a great idea!” and started filming him too.
 
Soon others joined in and the man felt scared and muttered…
 
“You people are the REAL racists.” as he hurried out the door.
 
After the man left I spoke to the black lady and thanked her for standing up for the Hispanic man. I tried to give her some ideas for how she might do this more peacefully in the future, but she wasn’t having any of my approach.
 
She said..
 
“He’s lucky he left when he did, because I was about to pick up that wet floor sign and beat him down with it.”.
 
Everyone else was at the counter telling the Hispanic man that he was doing a great job on his first day.
 
I wasn’t done.
 
I watched the man as he crossed the parking lot and got into his work van.
 
It had the company phone number on it.
 
I called and asked to be transferred to the person in charge.
 
I explained to them what had happened and told them that I would upload the video of the man so they could see who was making their company look bad.
 
His boss said..
 
“No need for that. I know exactly who it is. Rest assured this is the last straw with this guy. This isn’t his first complaint.”
So I guess he arrived back to his job only to be told that he no longer had one.
 
Maybe he can apply at the fast food restaurant.
 
They seemed to be a little understaffed.
plannedparenthood
Michael E Sparks is an independent journalist and political activist. He doesn’t get paid for his work, so if you believe in what he is doing you can buy him a cup of coffee by donating $1 HERE

We live in an era of fake news.

The propaganda is equally deceptive on both sides of the ideological line. More and more I hear intelligent people saying “I don’t know what to believe anymore.”

On one hand it’s wonderful that people are waking up. CNN has always been neoliberal propaganda. Fox “News” and Breitbart have always been alt-right lies designed to capitalize on fear.

On the other hand the underground news sources that people have flocked to in their attempts to gain information are often just as bad as the corporate media misinformation factories that have sought to deceive the American people since Bill Clinton cast the death blow to media integrity in 1996.

It has been my goal as a political writer to ALWAYS speak the truth, but this is a perilous path. I have often sent an article out for proofreading and heard back..

“If you publish this, you will lose a lot of followers.”

 

As if the goal behind writing is to attain popularity.

I am immediately suspicious of popularity, as most of the time it is garnered by appealing to the most number of demographics through spoon-feeding garbage coated in sugar.

 

But there is something alluring to me about integrity.

I am, in many ways, still that same punk-rock kid with the Mohawk and nose-ring who screamed about social injustice and the ideals of truth back when it seemed that no one cared about such things.

One can make a lot of money pandering to people’s fears and integrity is a commodity that not far too few care about, so it saddens me deeply to see people falling for lies, regardless of where they land on the political spectrum.

ppshooter

Rather it’s the Planned Parenthood shooter or the Pizzagate shooter, both men are pawns in a game played to intentionally deceive people for financial gain.

Media outlets are more concerned with getting traffic than reporting the truth and as a result sensationalist stories rule the day and allow small media outlets to gain massive exposure in a short period of time through publishing their own propaganda.

As is often the case, extremes have more in common than they do differences. This can be exemplified by the Pizzagate scandal, which was first floated by alt-right websites in an attack on Hillary Clinton. The story was quickly picked up by those on the alt-left and spread faster than the common cold.

It has all the makings of a successful fake news story. It targets someone who is universally hated, in Hillary Clinton. It is dark and scary. But perhaps most importantly, it allows the believer to see themselves as being on “the good side”. After all, we ALL agree that the wealthy elites passing around children like party favors is something that we must stand against.

The problem is that the story isn’t true.

I could lie and say that it was true and increase my readership.

I could be silent and cowardly.

After all, what is to be gained by pointing out the obvious flaws in this story?

One cannot prove a negative and those who lack the reasoning (or motivation) to figure out that this is fake news will surely use logical fallacies to defend it.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact that those of us who dislike Hillary Clinton for VALID reasons are shouted down by the self-righteous misinformed who have been searching back-channel sources who understand all too well the flaws in human logic that can be exploited by those skilled in rhetoric.

Disagree with Pizzagate and you are accused of being a neoliberal shill who secretly works for Hillary Clinton.

It’s hard to argue with the mentally ill.

It’s impossible to argue with someone who has an agenda.

joneschemtrails
The casualty of these propaganda factories is The Truth and of course this is the very thing that misinformation sites claim to be standing up for.

The challenge is that one out of several thousand conspiracy theories end up actually being true.

 

For example, I know, FOR A FACT, that the Democratic Party stacked the deck against Bernie Sanders in their attempts to further the voice of The People and further the agenda of their corporate oligarchy.

 

But before Wikileaks published the emails showing that the DNC put their collective thumb on the scale for Hillary Clinton, all we had was a conspiracy theory.

What further complicates matters is that it is impossible to prove a negative and those who devour fake news have effectively turned the tables of logic and now use the strategy of making outrageous bogus claims then putting the onus on the recipient to prove its lack of validity.

If someone says that Hillary Clinton was using a body-double, even if you know that the claim is ludicrous, you simply cannot prove a negative. The person who believes this can spend several hours finding sites that will provide “proof” for their confirmation bias and they will do so with completely pure intent.

After several hours of “research” they will think of you as an idiot who is brainwashed by corporate media for not believing what has become completely obvious to them and you will likely lose faith in their reasoning abilities as well.

Thus a chasm is formed between people who believe that they know the truth and those who have the courage to admit that they don’t have any REAL evidence one way or another.

What the propaganda consumer is missing is that their arguments suffer from an extremely emotional pathogenesis. They believe with all their heart that they have discovered some great and secret truth. Then they alienate those who disagree with them in order to create a self-sustaining echo-chamber that will perpetuate their beliefs. As they add more and more “evidence” to support their belief, they become more and more removed from the reality that the rest of us try to function in.

What they fail to realize is that their confirmation bias must be engaged in order for them to fall victim to the propaganda.

For example, if someone says to you that Hillary Clinton actually died in September, but employed a body double and that this body double is part of the DNC oligarchy in their attempts to form a one world corporate government, you will probably dismiss this claim if your feelings about Clinton are either positive or neutral.

But if you have tremendous hatred for Clinton, then this theory fulfills several of your emotionally charged preconceived notions about the entity that you hate and therefore provides the motivation one needs to dive deeper and find the information that confirms this ludicrous belief.

Thankfully not everyone steps into these logical potholes on the back-roads of reasoning.

Many people are excellent critical thinkers.

So how do we know what truth is?

You’re not going to like the answer.

russia-wants-war

The truth of the matter is that often you simply will not be able to find the truth without a master’s degree in sleuthing and even then you will find that often the information is not available and you will have to say the one thing that no ego wants to hear…

“I don’t know”

No one wants to admit that they don’t have the answers and The Internet provides a steady stream of opinions issued as facts for those who are seeking a quick resolution from the anxiety of not knowing.

Why read THIS article that is asking you to use reason, logic and skepticism when there are thousands of websites that will offer instant ego gratification to fulfill your confirmation bias.

Most people will agree that Julian Assange publishing emails that showed how the DNC conspired with corporate media in order to assure that Hillary Clinton attained the nomination for their corrupt party was the catalyst that helped Trump attain the Presidency.

And most people will agree that it appears that Trump and Putin seem to have some sort of preexisting relationship that the American public is not privy to.

But just try to discuss Assange’s motivation behind releasing these emails and leftists who have become mired in identity politics will blindly support the assertion that Assange had no motivation to help the Russians.

What is the basis for this belief?

Because Assange said so.

This is the epitome of identity politics and identify politics is the most prevalent and destructive form of confirmation bias in all of politics.

It is the lie we tell ourselves to gather information to fulfill our own confirmation bias for people whom we believe are on our side.

Am I saying that I believe the six American intelligence agencies that all report that Russia hacked the DNC?

Of course I’m not saying that, because to say such a thing would make me a “sheeple who has been brainwashed by corporate media and is nothing more than a sheepherder for the Oligarchy.”

And herein lies the most insidious part of thinking that your news is better than someone else’s news. The end result is the complete invalidation of the person who disagrees with you.

Bringing it back to the subject, if you were to ask me personally what I think of Assange’s alleged links to the Russians, I would say…

“It’s tough to say. All six intelligence agencies agree, but then again these agencies have lied in the past. They lied about the WMDs in Iraq. The CIA was more than likely involved in the assassination of John Kennedy. Furthermore we know that the United States intelligence agencies have many times decided to keep pertinent information from the people (Pearl Harbor for example). So there is definitely reason to mistrust these agencies. They are not spotless. Having said that, being locked down in an Ecuadorian embassy, counting down the days until US forces storm the building, take you to a blacksite and torture you to death can’t be fun and one could not blame Assange for striking a deal with Putin. Also, these incidents of the intelligence agencies lying are memorable, because they are infrequent. A review of their track records shows that most of the time they seem to be telling the truth. I am left to wonder why Assange did not publish Trump’s tax returns as he once hinted that he would. I am also left to wonder why Wikileaks did not publish hacks of the RNC database. Am I to believe that they could not hack the RNC? Because that is simply too far-fetched to believe as almost any skilled hacker could have infiltrated either party’s system. Then there is the matter of the traces of Russian information in the code itself. Some would say that this is enough to implicate Assange. I would counter that this could be intentionally left behind as a way to throw the intelligence agencies off the scent. So in the end I will have to say the only reasonable thing that one could say in this situation. That I will wait for further information and not make a fool of myself proclaiming to know Truth that is actually just my emotionally charged opinion disguised as Truth.”

But who wants to hear all that?

It’s much easier to just side with the people we like and passionately sing their praises in a celebration of the limitations of identity politics.

In effect, this is a human problem.

We must overcome our own psychological limitations in order to actually find truth and no one wants to accept the ultimate Truth that many times we simply cannot know.

Our “reward” for using reason is ambiguity.

While the rest of the children are off playing with their “facts”, overflowing social media with their poorly argued logic, you have to sit on the sidelines with your “I don’t know.”

Why accept our human limitations when there are thousands of propaganda machines willing to produce something that hacks into these psychological blind spots and deliver something that looks like truth and smells like truth, but is actually one big lie served up to those desperate to know what the actual f+ck is going on?

soros-teaser-3_3

Not everyone who engages in misinformation has been duped so blatantly.

Some have motivations that cause them to abandon logic and reason.

Many use the specter of imagined corruption to justify their slactivism.

It is so much more alluring to know some secret truth about the boogeyman, George Soros and his shadow involvement in the grassroots organization that you have decided isn’t worth your time.

These “keyboard warriors” will jump down any rabbit-hole that allows them to justify their complete lack of real activism. This allows them to hide behind the safety of their keyboards without ever doing any actual work.

These Social Justice Warriors are lured by the idea of knowing some dark secret that the peasants haven’t discovered. Facts are not important to them, identity is.

Tell them that you are going to an Our Revolution meeting and they will tell you that it is secretly ran by billionaires (based on how Jeff Weaver filed the corporation for tax purposes).

Tell them that Justice Democrats is doing so great work and they will tell you that Cenk Uyguy actually works for Hillary Clinton Super-Pac Correct the Record.

Facts and research are not important to these trolls.

Their goal is to shoot holes in the activism of others.

They engage in character assassination and anyone who disagrees with them is a “tool for the oligarchy”.

Even Bernie Sanders himself is not pure enough for these people, who will ONLY accept that which is universally rejected.

These people are contrarians in the same vein as that kid you knew in high-school who hated every band that you liked and only listened to the bands that no one had ever heard of and rejected those same artists when they achieved social acceptance.

For these people it is about being superior, not about being factual.

They are easy to identify as they will use ad hominem attacks to deflect from the fact that on some level they know that they are operating with fabricated data.

Never mind that they have literally NOTHING to back up their claim.

They now want to devalue you as a person and then expect you to prove a negative, while simultaneously dismissing every one of your thoughts as propaganda.

Truth is the ultimate casualty of fake news.

mikeinphilly
Michael E Sparks is an independent writer and hosts of the show Resist/Revolt. If you believe in his voice you can donate $1 by clicking HERE. All money goes towards supporting Progressive activism.

 

 

I love words.

Did you ever pause to think about what an incredible miracle it is that our species developed the ability to use language, that we could come up with these complex series of symbols, that when conveyed to another in our species, can literally alter the neural pathways in the other person’s brain?

The pen truly is mightier than the sword, which is why I find it so sad that so many limit themselves with their communication, even so much as to do harm to the causes that they are so passionate about.

This morning, while perusing the headlines, I made a post on social media that I knew would get people talking.

What I posted would be a distraction from our discussion here, but I made a point to phrase it in a way that was open ended and did not divulge my own view on the subject, while at the same time, pushing my readers buttons enough to know that they would want to chime in.

I promised myself that I would play the devil’s advocate and do my best to argue anyone who attacked my stance in an aggressive manner.

Why?

Well for one, it’s a great way to learn.

When two people are at odds with each other, it is a wonderful opportunity to learn.

“I think the sky is blue”

“Oh yeah! Well I think it’s black!”

“Tell me why you think it’s black.”

“Because I’m looking out my window right now and I can see it plainly, you f+cking moron!!”

“Where are you at?”

“Australia.”

“Oh. I’m in Indiana. It’s blue here.”

“Well I’m blocking you anyway!! I hate people who disagree with me!!”

hart

The above facetious conversation actually went better than many political discussions I have these days.

Often people just tell me that they are blocking me and insult my intelligence.

It doesn’t exactly hurt my feelings, but it does make me sad.

It saddens me that another human being, so blessed with this amazing ability to communicate and change my mind would rather alienate me and disregard me as a human being.

Seems like an awful waste of an amazing gift.

But learning other people’s point of view was not my only reason for making the controversial post.

I also wanted to see what kind of people I have following me, before we launch our new show, Resist/Revolt.

I want an army of activists, because an army of activists all communicating can change the world and to be honest, knee-jerk reactionaries actually do more harm than good to our cause.

When someone who supposedly represents our value system attacks someone else, it makes it that much harder for anyone else to ever reach them.

The greatest hindrance to Progressives isn’t right wing opposition, it’s those self-proclaimed Progressives that lash out at others and make the rest of us look bad.

sjw

Why do I even care?

Isn’t popularity all that matters?

After all, isn’t it just better to have more viewers than to alienate some potential viewers by having an unpopular opinion?

I wholeheartedly reject this notion.

I seek to revolutionize thinking by turning this concept completely upside down.

In fact, I believe that this idea that popularity is king, has completely turned America into a sideshow, where buffoons who know how to walk the line and appeal to the largest demographic are rewarded, while the most brilliant members of our culture are marginalized.

America has become an intellectual wasteland where being “right” means having the most number of people agree with you and THAT is a recipe for fabulous disaster.

When we live in a world of fake news, authenticity becomes a rare commodity.

In fact, while attempting to play devil’s advocate and argue with a few hundred people simultaneously this morning, someone said…

“Why don’t you give up? Can’t you see everyone disagrees with you?”

What a scary thought, that a few hundred people could all be in agreement on something, even if they were misinformed and somehow, as if by magic, a new fact is created out of thin air.

That’s the world we currently live in.

If you want to have lasting change, you must first change the culture.

In order to change the culture, we must first change ourselves.

But be warned. Making actual change is challenging. It’s actually a lot harder than just telling everyone who disagrees with you that they are stupid.

fakenews

“But wait, Michael, didn’t you just say that you trolled your own readers to illicit a reaction?! Where’s the authenticity in that?!”

First off, trolling, in a limited and friendly context is an effective tool to start a conversation.

I might jokingly say to my Republican friend something like…

“I have a an idea. Why don’t we just have all the GOP members of Congress wear white hoods so they will be easier to identify?”

My friend might look at me sideways and say something like..

“Do you really believe that all Republicans are racist?”

Now we have the makings of a good conversation and as long as there is mutual respect, we can both learn from each other and about each other.

But that’s where it all falls apart, right?

Because when these opportunities present themselves, most people don’t respond like my rhetorical friend did. Most of the time people just attack, which is counterproductive and let’s be clear about something very important…

Right now America is engaged in a cultural war and there is only one way to win it.

YOU have to get out of your comfort zone and actually engage those people who think differently than you do.

Ours is a battle for hearts and minds.

somee

Somehow we ended up with a buffoon in the White House even though only 1 in 5 Americans voted for him.

While there are a million articles written about how this happened, I am more concerned with the story that the “news” isn’t telling.

I don’t want to talk about Clinton’s crappy campaigning or how Wikileaks exposed the corruption in the “Democratic” Party.

Those points have been talked to death.

I am concerned about the deeper why.

I am talking about the elitist attitude that allows someone to think that they are superior to others and the anonymity of The Internet that allows them to freely tell anyone who disagrees with their viewpoint to f+ck right off.

This type of behavior is the death rattle of civilization and I request that you rise above it, before it is too late.

To put it simply, I am asking you to become the type of person who can actually affect real change in the minds of others.

berniesmile

How do we go about doing that?

The first step is easy.

Remember when your mom told you that you had two eyes and two ears but only one mouth and that this was Mother Nature’s way of trying to tell you something?

The first step in “winning” an argument is to let go of the idea of winning.

To call upon another platitude, people don’t care what you know until they know that you care.

When you are actively listening to someone, you are passively teaching them about yourself.

People are already bracing themselves to be attacked as they are stating their point of view. In fact, they are probably so used to defending their opinion that they will be caught completely off balance by the simple act of listening.

I am not telling you to pretend to listen. I’m asking for you to genuinely listen.

If you are in a battle and you know where all the enemies troops are stationed then you have a huge advantage right?

If you know their exact plan of attack then you are almost guaranteed to come up with a successful counter.

When you find someone whom you disagree with, have the courage to listen.

Become so intimate with their point of view that you can recite it back to them and then actually recite it back to them and don’t add your own input until two things have been accomplished.

  1. You intimately understand their position.
  2. You find a point of agreement.

Here’s an imaginary example.

Trump Supporter: Donald Trump is the greatest President this country has ever had.

You: Oh yeah? You feel like he’s proven that in just one month?

TS: He kept his campaign promises, unlike Obama (don’t get sidetracked here).

You: I agree with you completely that keeping your campaign promises is incredibly important. What else do you like about him?

TS: He’s going to keep out the damned illegals!! They are taking all the American jobs!! (don’t get sidetracked here either)

You: We are in agreement again! I am glad that Trump opposed TPP. I am completely against these disastrous trade agreements that continue to outsource America’s factory jobs to China and Mexico. What else do you like about Trump? (learn their position. Without it you are powerless. Arguing without knowing what you are arguing against is counterproductive).

TS: Well he’s going to stop Isis by keeping the damned Muslims out.

You: You and I seem to agree on a lot. Isis is a big problem. Neither of us want to see another 9/11. What else makes you feel that Trump is so amazing?

TS: What else do you need? (most people feel like they have more answers than they actually do and will run out fairly quickly when pressed).

You: I just want to make sure I understand your position. You think Trump is the “best President ever” because he is going to keep his campaign promises, keep jobs in America, instead of outsourcing them and stop Isis? Did I understand you correctly?

TS: That about sums it up. Are you going to try some libtard psychology on me now? Don’t bother. I’ve seen it all.

Before we continue on, IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that you remember that your goal can NEVER be to change someone’s mind. That’s simply not how this works. Your secondary goal is to OPEN someone’s mind. Do you remember your primary goal? It’s to understand the other person’s position, which they will willingly give to you if you take a few minutes to actively listen. Now that you have it, you can counter it, all the while remembering that the more the person respects you, the more they are willing to listen.

You: While I agree with you that keeping your campaign promises is important and I also agree that keeping jobs in America is important, I am skeptical that someone who has filed bankruptcy repeatedly at the expense of the hardworking American tax payer really cares about working class folks like us (inclusion – common ground). Trump inherited 3.2 billion dollars from his father. He’s never gotten his hands dirty like you and I do on a daily basis. He attended private schools that you and I couldn’t even begin to send our children to. He also exports jobs to China from his own businesses. Don’t you think that is hypocritical?

I’m not going to have an entire imaginary conversation, but you get the idea.

Once you understand the other person’s position, you can use facts to gradually chip away at the areas in which they are misinformed.

Don’t get caught up trying to “win”. You win by keeping your cool and by caring about another human being. It is particularly difficult to care for those whom we passionately disagree with, but it is the path to enlightenment for both you and your new friend.

This approach is infinitely more productive than name-calling and character assassination.

You probably won’t “win the argument”, but you may shed some light into a previously dark area of the person’s mind.

Even if all they learn is that “not all libs are idiots.” then you have already accomplished something amazing.

Many will not take this high-road, because it requires them to be patient and learned.

Many are so caught up in the gratification of their own egos that they use The Internet to fill in some deep desire that they have to feel superior to others.

Don’t be like that and don’t encourage those that are this way.

When you see someone doing this, simply say…

“I’m sorry that (person’s name) is having a hard time using their words today. Not all of us are like that. So you believe that…” and sum up the person’s position and make sure you understand them.

When someone who confesses to represent the values that you represent is blasting people who think differently, they are alienating that person from new information and hurting your cause.

Don’t be afraid to step in and bring some compassion and intelligence to the conversation.

Your goal should be to make friends with those who think differently than you and break down the walls of your echo-chamber.

If you are trying to build an environment where you surround yourself with those who see everything the way that you do, then you are being weak and cowardly.

If you are engaging in this type of asinine and elitist behavior then please don’t call yourself a revolutionary or an activist, because what you are doing is making it harder for the rest of us who seek to bridge the gap with those who see things differently than we do.

The real battle is with the 1% wealthy elite who control every aspect of our lives.

It is NOT with our neighbors.

Break your lazy embarrassing habits.

Change your strategy.

Change your goals.

Change your country.

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Michael E Sparks is an Independent writer and hosts the show Resist/Revolt. If you believe in his message and want to buy him a cup of coffee, you can donate $1 by clicking HERE