I am a writer, a musician, political activist and a father of two.
Yesterday being Father’s Day, I made a post on social media that simply said
“For all you single mothers out there, doing the work of two parents, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day!!”
Simple enough, right?
Of course it’s not simple.
At first my post was well-received. Women began to say how nice it was to feel appreciated for doing the work of two parents and the whole forum was kind of a nice little love-fest.
But then, as you might expect, the white males came in to tell everyone that “a woman can never be a father.” It was very important to these white males that they remind everyone that their gender is decided by the genitals they had at birth and therefore women could never be fathers and men could never be mothers.
I don’t so much care about their arguments. People are allowed to believe what they want to believe. What bothers me is that suddenly it seems that we are not allowed to express ANY opinion on ANY subject without white males reminding us that we are wrong in such a forceful way as to make everyone wonder why these white males are so invested in a topic that would seem trivial to any normal person.
But nothing is trivial to the white male.
A thousand year reign of global dominance is not enough for him. Now, as our nation and our planet takes baby steps towards equality, the white male is here to remind us, in every public forum, that they have a voice and that their voice should be recognized as important.
And before I get too worked up, I want to say that not ALL white males are opinionated ass-hats, but whenever you see someone on a soapbox telling everyone else how they should live their lives, what religion they are allowed to practice, what gender they are allowed to be, what they can do with their reproductive rights, what flowers they are allowed to inhale or who they are allowed to have consensual sex with, it is always an entitled, blowhard, self-important white male standing front and center sermonizing to the rest of us.
These white males, having never faced any of the struggles that others face, are somehow experts on what everyone else should do.
It’s a bloody miracle!!
How did this one group of people become an expert for all of us?
I’m not sure why this one group has become so much more important than all other people combined, but we would be wise to listen to the white male, because he is basically a giant, well-armed toddler. Instead of throwing himself on the ground and banging his fists, the modern white-male throws their temper tantrums with violence and pseudo-violence.
If you choose a religion that isn’t Christianity, the white male will be there to harass, beat and maybe even murder you.
If a woman has the audacity to dress in a way that the white male doesn’t approve of, he will be there to tell her how offensive her choice of attire is. Sure, the white male can walk around in camouflage pants and no shirt, showing off his C-cups, but if a woman dares to show the tiniest bit of cleavage there will be a white male there to tell her exactly how she should be dressing, while simultaneously hitting on her, of course.
White males seem to be everywhere, letting us all know their opinion on nearly every subject under the sun. If you are colorblind do not fret, you can do an auditory identification of this breed from a distance based on their booming voice and improper use of the word FACT.
White males often use the word FACT to mean MY OPINION WHICH NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO QUESTION. They seem to think that if they say their opinions loud enough and often enough then their opinions magically transform into FACTS. They confuse the glazed over look of their audience with compliance when in reality it is boredom.
Some of the white male’s favorite catch-phrases are
“FACTS are FACTS.”
“Those are just the FACTS.”
“I’m sorry if you don’t like FACTS, but I didn’t make the rules.”
But actually you did make the rules. Or at the very least, one of your ancestors did. And with all due respect, (which is the EXACT SAME AMOUNT OF RESPECT THAT EVERYONE ELSE IS ENTITLED TO!!!) we tried your rules and they worked out pretty great for YOU, but they kind of sucked for everyone else.
So maybe you can just sit your #AllLivesMatter ass down for just a minute and let women decide what to do with their own bodies and maybe keep your opinions off of them, as you literally have zero idea what it’s like to be female.
Perhaps you could STFU for a goddamned minute and allow people to worship as they see fit.
And perhaps you could actually READ that Constitution you’re always quoting, because when you do, you will find that it was written by some very intelligent white men, who understood that color and gender weren’t as important as every human being’s inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
So, in spite of it offending all the white male snowflakes out there, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you once again to all the single mom’s who raised children by themselves and did the work of both Mom and Dad.
Happy Mother AND Father’s Day to YOU every day of the year.
You deserve to be celebrated.
White males who don’t agree with my opinion on this matter, feel free to express your thoughts and feelings, but you’ll have to do it with your noses in the corner, because I’m putting you in timeout.
After that, I want you to head over to the chalkboard and write 100 times
“I promise to stop commenting on things I couldn’t possibly understand.”
Time to grow up white boy.
The world is changing.
You better start changing with it.
THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION. IT IS FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY. THE AUTHOR WANTS TO STRESS THAT HE BELIEVES IN NON-VIOLENT PASSIVE RESISTANCE. THE AUTHOR DOES NOT CONDONE VIOLENCE AGAINST GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS IN ANY WAY.
It all started at a baseball diamond.
Baseball had once been called America’s pastime. Before anger, hatred, poverty and desperation had consumed the lives of the populous, back in a simpler time, people gathered in fields to throw a horsehide covered ball, perchance to hit it with a wooden bat and run with wind in hair towards the promise land 360 feet away from where they began.
But times had changed.
It all started at a baseball diamond.
Where rich, corrupt government officials gathered to play the grand ol game, but were interrupted by man with a gun screaming about healthcare between shots.
A Congressman was shot and wounded and the assailant killed.
Everyone said the right things. Everyone publicly denounced the action as insanity. Everyone agreed that times were desperate, but that violence was not the answer.
But somehow this was different.
In living rooms across America normally peaceful people said things like
“I abhor violence, but when you take away people’s healthcare you technically are murdering them, so I see why the man was angry.”
Peace-loving leftists had begun saying things like
“It’s wrong to use violence, but the Congressman who was shot voted for mentally ill people to be able to buy firearms so…”
Then a shot rang out during a press conference.
A Senator was there speaking one moment, then a moment later a gruesome visage filled television screens as the man’s head was somehow severed in half. Reporters scrambled for safety, but a second shot never came.
News outlets announced that the Senator had been killed by a sniper. The city came to a grinding halt as police searched for an assassin they knew they would never find. Over the next several days the FBI brought in many people for questioning. All of them were military trained snipers.
The media was loving it.
Behind fake displays of sadness and compassion from TV anchors there was excitement. Everyone was watching as they said the most exciting words in all of journalism
“We want to warn you. The images you are about to see are very graphic and disturbing. Parents please have your children leave the room.”
But no one left the room.
People watched the man with the disappearing head with the same rubbernecking, macabre interest children show towards a bug trying to escape the piercing ray from their magnifying glass on a hot summer’s day. Everyone had a theory about who the shooter was. People talked about it on the Internet and around water coolers.
A week later everyone stopped talking about the Senator.
There was a new story.
Something more exciting.
Congressmen all over the country began to get sick all at the same time, seven of them in total. All seven were rushed to respective hospitals. Six died the first night. The seventh succumbed the following morning.
A group of nurses, calling themselves The Sisters of Mercy, took responsibility for the murders. They even explained how they had orchestrated the event. Each woman had went to visit their Congressmen and simply shook their hands. During the handshake each woman had brought their other hand over the top of their Congressman’s hand encompassing it and sliding a tiny needle into it.
Each man had felt a tiny prick, but ignored it and continued to lock eyes with his would-be assailant and pretended to listen to their concerns. A few hours later the Congressmen all fell ill. By the next day the coroners had all found the toxin and the by nightfall all seven women had been taken into custody.
They did not resist.
A viral video was released that explained their motives.
The Sisters of Mercy said that they were reluctant to kill, but that they had each watched far too many innocent people die while under their care, due to lack of affordable healthcare and that they wanted to make an example out of the men who had taken that healthcare away from those they had sworn to protect.
In the video, the group’s leader, Mary Ingram showed her father deteriorating towards death and dementia as she tearfully explained that she had lost her job when she had been caught stealing medicine to keep her father’s pain at bay.
In the video, all the women cried while they explained to their children that they were sorry. They all said that they knew they would be caught and that being caught was part of their plan to shed light on what they called “an epidemic of greed that was killing innocent people.”
But it was not the only video going viral.
The Internet became flooded with videos of people in Guy Fawkes’ masks, hiding behind VPNs who used voice changing software to announce to the world that more murders were coming and that more representatives would be made examples of unless certain conditions were met.
There were so many of these videos that it became impossible to distinguish real threats from fake ones. In Omaha, Nebraska a twelve year old was arrested on live TV for making one of the videos. In New York city a man who “mainly kept to himself” was captured (also on live TV) and incarcerated as well.
This pattern repeated all over the country. There were even arrests made overseas. But the videos kept on coming. All fit the same pattern. It was impossible to tell where the enemy was coming from, but no one was actually being attacked.
It had been ten days since the Sisters of Mercy killings and things were returning to normal.
But it was the Town Hall in Alabama where things really went south.
Most Congressional members had canceled their Town Halls in light of recent violence, but not Billy Tubbs. He wasn’t one to be “pushed around by a bunch of do-nothing liberals.”
Billy showed up at his Town Hall surrounded by armed police officers and announced to the room that he “was not afraid and would not be bullied.” The crowd was angry at the police presence and things became heated. Screaming lead to pushing and shoving, which lead to a young officer pointing his gun at the crowd. Which lead to the crowd storming the stage. Which then lead to shots being fired into the crowd.
Tubbs escaped unharmed, but damage was done.
Several police officers were badly beaten and about forty members of the crowd sustained significant injuries, most from being trampled, a few from gunshot wounds.
There was one fatality.
Shayla Reid, a 19 year old political activist, had been struck in the chest with a bullet and died before ambulances arrived.
In the days following, cell phone footage of Shayla’s tragic death circulated and the nation was in mourning. Shayla struck a chord with people. She was everyone’s child.
News outlets showed childhood photos of Shayla around the clock, along with tearful interviews with her parents.
The collective consciousness of the nation was altered by Shayla’s death.
The insanity might have ended right there if not for a statement put out on social media by The President in which he said that Shayla’s death was “what happens when paid protesters show up and ruin it for everybody else.”
This rubbed salt in the country’s open wound.
Vigils for Shayla sprang up all over the country.
Shayla’s parents encouraged everyone to take one day off work and “stand in silence for Democracy and to honor Shayla’s memory.”
One day turned into two, which turned into three…
The nation’s productivity ceased.
Life would have probably returned to the normal after a week or two if it weren’t for the bomb.
The bomb changed everything.
(WRITER’S NOTE: THIS IS JUST AN IDEA I WAS TOYING AROUND WITH. THIS IS JUST THE FIRST CHAPTER. IF THERE WERE A HUGE DEMAND FOR IT, I MAY CONSIDER WRITING MORE. I JUST WANTED TO GET IT OUT OF MY HEAD AND INTO SOME TANGIBLE FORM. I KNOW I SAID IT AT THE BEGINNING, BUT I REALLY WANT TO STRESS THAT THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION AND NOT MEANT TO BE TAKEN LITERALLY. VIOLENCE IS BAD MMMMKAY? DON’T KILL PEOPLE. YOUR MOTHER TAUGHT YOU BETTER THAN THAT.)
I awoke this morning to news that a man took a gun to a baseball diamond and began shooting people.
But this was not your ordinary every day American spree shooting. This was not a white supremacist shooting up a black church or mosque. This wasn’t some moron shooting innocent people in a movie theater or a homophobe targeting young people in a nightclub.
This shooter was a liberal.
And to make matters more complex, he was not shooting innocent people.
He was shooting Republican Congressmen while shouting about healthcare.
While my knee-jerk reaction is to renounce this incident and while my heart certainly goes out to the brave police officers who risked their lives to subdue the shooter, I really have trouble feeling bad for the GOP Congressman, Steve Scalise, who is recovering nicely while receiving the best healthcare that our tax dollars can buy.
You see, Mr. Scalise and his colleagues believe that they deserve to have their gun shot wounds treated and that you and I should foot the bill. But when it comes to our healthcare, they feel radically different on the matter.
These bills cause real pain and suffering in the lives of real Americans. These bills cause the deaths of innocent people on a daily basis, not to mention that the continual outpouring of NRA propaganda, spewed forth by these so-called representatives, results in gun violence routinely directed at our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
These Republicans are big on thoughts and prayers, but don’t seem to care about passing meaningful gun control legislation or protecting the rights of those gunshot victims to receive the same level of healthcare that Mr Scalise received today as he was carted off the field.
With all due respect Mr. Republican, your thoughts and prayers did nothing to help the victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre in Orlando.
Your thoughts and prayers did nothing for Dylann Roof’s victims, who only wanted to participate in a peaceful Sunday morning church service.
Your thoughts and prayers did nothing for the little babies murdered at Sandy Hook.
Your thoughts and prayers are useless to us.
In fact, to be completely blunt about it, you can shove your thoughts and prayers right up your ass.
What Americans need are sensible gun control laws and Universal Healthcare. You instead choose to spew rhetoric designed to confuse The People while lining your pockets with our tax dollars and NRA lobbyist money.
So forgive me if I do not feel sorry for you, Mr. Scalise. I know, as a liberal, I am supposed to be above it all. But I have watched you and your cohorts dismantle my country and directly contribute to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people and I have grown numb.
And now, The People have become so desperate, so disenfranchised, that ordinary citizens are finally desperate enough to begin taking desperate measures.
When we were suffering all you offered were thoughts and prayers, so that’s all I have for you in return.
We have been the victims of your inhumane policies for far too long.
All of our sympathy and good will has been used up burying our own friends and family.
We have none left over for our oppressors.
I am reminded of the immortal words of great Americans John F. Kennedy and Thomas Jefferson.
Kennedy said “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
While Jefferson said “When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”
And we have been living under tyranny in this country for far too long.
When we watch our loved ones die by the hands of the very people who were sworn to protect us, there WILL BE RESENTMENT. While I stop short of condoning the actions of the gunman, I believe that many Americans are feeling the same desperation that he felt when he woke up this morning and decided to head out to the baseball diamond.
They are feeling scared and desperate.
Violence is certainly not the answer, but let us never forget that it is an option to be used when ALL OTHER options have been exhausted. We do not condone violence. We stand for peaceful, political revolution and we believe in exhausting all peaceful means to attain that revolution. But let us not forget that our founding fathers spoke of our DUTY to take up arms against a tyrannical government.
When you take away healthcare that WE PAID FOR WITH OUR TAX DOLLARS and innocent people die, that is tyranny.
When you continue to take millions from corporate lobbyists and lie to the very people that you are sworn to protect, that is tyranny.
Your ivory towers can only protect you for so long.
Your town halls should be an ample reminder that the citizens are fed up and on the verge of revolt.
You cannot run.
You cannot hide.
You’re going to have to do something radical if you want to quell the insurrection that is brewing in this country.
You’re going to have to actually represent your constituents for a change.
You’re going to have to actually do your fucking job.
The gym I go to is largely Republican.
Good ol boys.
I like those guys a lot. And they like me. I think I’m a novelty to them, the guy with the Mohawk and the Bernie Sanders tattoo.
They are always introducing me to their buddies with
“This is the guy I was tellin ya about.” and then they want me to show their friend my tattoo.
Usually their friends will whip out their cell phones, take a picture and say something like
“My kid will get a kick out of this.”
Then they always try to get me to discuss politics with their friend.
I think it’s their way of saying
“Hey look. I met a liberal that actually makes sense when it talks.”
I could see how some people would get offended by that, but I know that these guys are just like I am, in the sense that they live in an echo-chamber and the only time they get exposed to ideas from the other side is when they see sensationalized corporate “news” or some haughty bumper sticker that says something to the effect of “I’m right! You’re wrong and stupid!! So sit down and shut up, MORON!!!”
Because that’s the level of discourse that America has allowed itself to sink to.
We have become a culture where “cash me outside” is not only accepted, but rewarded.
We are led to believe lies by those who profit from our strife.
We are repeatedly told that those with differing views are here to take away our rights and freedoms.
Corporate media bombards our senses with nonstop messages of fear and entitlement. Our entire nation is gripped in an eternal panic attack, wondering where the next threat will come from.
I was told that these Republican guys were supposed to be my enemies.
But I talked with them and they seemed to have the same hopes and dreams that I have.
They’re good guys.
We learn from each other.
We refuse to let fascist lies divide us.
Today I was getting in my girlfriend’s car, after my workout, when one of the guys stopped me and asked in his Georgia twang
“Where’s the Bernie-mobile?!”
“Blew the transmission yesterday.” I volunteered.
“Gotta get her fixed.” he boomed “That’s more than just a vehicle. That’s a war machine. That thing’s been all over God’s beautiful United States spreading the gospel of Bernie Sanders. If it’s coming off the road then it needs to be in a museum. I think you oughtta get her fixed, Mike”
“I thought about it.” I told him “But it’s got 170,000 miles on it. I think it might be done.”
“Mike, I’m not talkin’ practicality here. I’m talkin’ from the heart. I’m about this close to takin’ up a collection. If I come to the gym and don’t see the Berniemobile, somethin’ just don’t seem right.”
Can I tell you that this man was being completely sincere?
Because he was.
Even though he believes pretty much the direct opposite of Bernie Sanders core Socialist values, he doesn’t hate me for standing up for them.
In fact, he respects my passion and I respect his.
We often end our short, entertaining discussions with him saying
“Man. Every time I think I can dismiss the Democrats as a whole, I talk to you and I feel like there may be hope for them yet.”
And me, with my stock reply
“I ain’t no goddamned Democrat.”
We both smile.
Recently one of the guys at the gym, who was born poor and now owns a huge construction company and is always talking about trickle-down economics and how important they are to America becoming dominant globally again, found out that I was considering changing gyms.
“What’s this I hear about you defecting?” he inquired.
“That new gym that opened charges half what they charge here and they have better equipment. It’s that simple. I like working out here, but I have to save money.”
“Mike, you’re missing the point. The reason why you pay twice as much here is because you are paying for all these programs for people who can’t afford them.”
He pointed at a group of kids playing basketball in the gym down a level from where we were standing.
“You save $20 a month and these kids lose their programs. Is that what you want?”
“Wow!” I said “You’re starting to sound like a Socialist!”
“Well, maybe you’re rubbing off on me.” he replied, smiling.
If this story has a moral, it is to get outside of your echo-chamber and disengage from corporate media.
They sell fear in a time when we need love more than ever.
Find people who see things differently than you and just listen to them.
Don’t try to change their minds.
Just listen and get curious.
Ask them questions and try your best to be nonjudgmental while listening to their answers and you will discover that even those people who have views that are radically dissimilar to yours are still fine people.
I know it’s scary, but there’s the possibility that you could even learn something.
You may also be given the epiphany that if you were this other person, who was born in the environment that they were born into and had received the same data that they had received over their lifetime, then you too would believe as they do.
That’s kind of a big juicy steak of a thought.
I’d advise chewing on it for a while before trying to swallow it.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m living proof.
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.
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.
“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!!”
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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!!
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.
“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 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?
“OH BUT SETH RICH WAS MURDERED BY THE DNC AND THAT PROVES…”
What does Seth Rich’s murder prove?!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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!!
“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.
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.
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!!
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.
“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.
“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.”
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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?!?!”