Remember who the REAL enemy is

Yesterday in my beloved home state of North Carolina our Governor, Roy Cooper, signed a compromise bill into law that would remove the discriminatory law, HB2, off the books.  In exchange, the Republican super majorities in the State House and Senate added provisions prohibiting local non-discrimination ordnances until December 1, 2020.  While Governor Cooper wanted a “clean” repeal without any strings attached, he had to deal with the reality of the current political landscape and take what small step he could get.

Unfortunately, many of my friends and allies on the left have considered this move a betrayal and have gone as far as calling for the ouster of any Democrat who voted for the compromise.  I’d like to speak to my friends directly (If you have little children, now is the time to cover their ears).  Are you out of your fucking mind?  Do you have no concept of reality?  Let me break this down for you because your arguments are so irrational and absent from reality you are starting to sound like Republicans.

1)  Have you looked at the makeup of the NC State House and Senate. Republicans hold SUPER majorities in both houses.  Combined with the most gerrymandered districts in the nation the General Assembly is essentially a cesspool of bigoted conservative idealism.  Don’t forget, this is essentially the same body that passed HB2 in the first place.  Our new governor was able to broker a deal that removed this law from the same right-wing super majority who enacted the law.  Let that sink in for a second.

2)  “…but Governor Cooper said he’d sign a clean repeal.” You are correct…and he would have and still will IF HE COULD GET A CLEAN REPEAL.  Do not forget, he’s dealing with kamikaze politicians who legislate from their ignorant and bigoted ideologies, not from any sense of fact based reality.  The Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly are not going to change; they are the last vestiges of a backward mindset that those of us from this millennium are trying to rid from our state.  The only way to change the General Assembly is to remove them from office.  Think about it this way, the governor who signed HB2 into law lost the last election, but the majority of the legislature who enacted the law got reelected.  Why is this?  Simple, the Governor’s race is a statewide contest not hindered by gerrymandered districts while the General Assembly is an absolute product of gerrymandering.

3)  Thank you for your energy and passion. We must absolutely do everything we can to enact legislation at the STATE level that protects EVERYONE.  Equality for all is the only moral path forward.  However, to accomplish this, we must do what is almost impossible, defeat Republicans in heavily gerrymandered districts.  This task is daunting, but it is the only one based in reality.  Why in the world would you think that removing elected Democrats from office would help in the fight for equality.  Are you delusional?  Do you truly think that MORE Republicans in office and adding back a Republican governor is going to improve LGBTQ rights?  That’s exactly what will happen if you try to primary Democrats with unelectable, ideological pure candidates who can’t win a general election.  Just stop that nonsense right now!  Grow up, wake up, and realize that our energy should be focused on defeating Republicans!  It will be hard enough as it is with the way the districts are laid out, we don’t need irrational thought to take over and inflict more pain on our state.  DO NOT let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Repeat that to yourself, then repeat it again and share it with your misguided friends who have taken a break from reality.

4)  Governing is hard and imperfect. Justice is rarely a fast process.  Both take large amounts of effort, and yes at times, a pragmatic approach.  However, pragmatism is not an evil word, it’s a useful tool in a democratic republic.  Although it sometimes seems we are coming closer and closer to a totalitarian fascist state with our reality television president, we must keep fighting for our democracy.  That fight, that effort, that sacrifice, must be channeled constructively; we must fight SMART!  Let your idealism drive your passion, but do not let it blind you to reality.  There is a reason that the arc of the moral universe is LONG…it’s hard work and requires an enormous amount of effort.  I’m asking you to stop your bullshit arguments and help us bend the arc more swiftly.  Stop fighting against progress because you didn’t get 100%, all the time, every time.  Governor Cooper clearly stated this compromise was “a step” in the right direction, he didn’t proclaim that our work was done.

Most importantly, Remember Who the Real Enemy Is!  The real enemies are the morally bankrupt Republicans in the General Assembly.  Ignorance and bigotry peddled by the Republican Party, at both a national and local level, are our opponents.  Don’t be distracted by the shiny objects Republicans throw our way that try to divide us and slow down progress.  Fight smart, fight hard, and whatever you do, stop any asinine feeling of political cannibalism that is creeping inside.  Save your vengeance for those who peddle bigoted ideas and deserve your wrath at the ballot box.

Quick Observations – Rampant Ignorance

  • There is a war against intellect, and stupidity is winning.
  • We live in an era where Public Service Announcements are given on how to spot fake news because, for far too many, it’s not obvious that the information is untrue.
  • People buy and share images of Santa Claus and snowmen as members of the nativity, yet cannot understand the irony, and their ignorance, when they declare that there is a “War On Christmas”.
  • We live in a nation where the individual who wins the most votes for president does not win the election.
    • In the last quarter century, 6 out of the last 7 elections, the Democrat has won the most votes, yet won only 4 of those elections.
  • A man walks into a pizzeria with an assault weapon, looking to break up a supposed child sex operation, ran by Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, that was being conducted in the torture dungeon of the restaurant’s basement.
    • Of course none of this was remotely true, but that didn’t stop the man from traveling hundreds of miles and firing his weapon inside the restaurant, which, on the most basic factual element, didn’t even have a basement.
    • This conspiracy was even peddled by Michael G. Flynn, former member of Trump’s transition team and son of Trump’s pick for National Security Adviser, Michael T. Flynn.  The elder Flynn has also openly touted multiple fabricated stories.

I don’t claim to be perfect or that I have all the answers.  However, I do my homework and I’ll admit when I’m wrong.  I make no apologies for trying to seek out the truth and I most certainly do not apologize for doing all that I can to point my moral compass towards the direction that makes no distinction between bigots and those who enable them.

Research has shown that many who believe in falsehoods are much more likely to continue believing in those falsehoods with more conviction when presented with evidence that they are incorrect.  No one wants to be proven wrong, but at some point we have to address factual inaccuracies.  The world is not flat.  Facts don’t care if we like them or not, they are still facts.  The same goes for those who want to give a pass to people who claim not to be racists or bigots, yet enable the bigots and xenophobes with at best, indifference, or at worst, their most precious democratic right, their vote.  I wrote about this topic a few weeks ago.  The bottom line is that we have reached a point to where there is an all out assault on reason.  Now is not the time for complacency or an acceptance of ignorance just to pacify the enablers of misinformation and bigotry.  Now is the time for action by all those who believe that the truth should prevail and that facts are not a mere inconvenience, but the foundation of a functioning human society.

It’s time for honesty…even if the truth hurts

The most popular phrase uttered in the last ten days has been, “Well, not ALL Trump voters are racist” or some variation of this sentiment.  The conventional wisdom, even from those who supported him, seems to be that while he did have a contingency of followers who have racist, bigoted, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, or misogynistic views, the vast majority of his voters don’t believe in such horrible things.  The problem with this viewpoint is simple: personal prejudices and enabling those who promote prejudice should not be treated differently.

Donald Trump ran a campaign fueled by hate, lies, fear, and all of those horrible elements mentioned above.  There are mountains of data that support this claim and it is absolutely true.  If you can not, at the very least, concede this point you should stop reading now and go renew your membership to the ‘flat earth society’ because this point is not even debatable.  Now, the question exists, how can a candidate using a modified Goebbels playbook get elected President Of The United States in the year 2016?  He/She can’t.  While the number of openly proud racists, bigots, misogynists, etc. is way too large, there aren’t enough of those votes in America anymore to win a Presidential Election.  So how did Trump do it?  He did it by creating a coalition of enablers.

en·a·ble – verb

  1. to make able; give power, means, competence, or ability to; authorize
  2. to make possible or easy
  3. to make ready; equip

(emphasis added)

This is crucial because it is time for us to stop splitting hairs and making exceptions for those who are bigots and those who enable bigots.  In a democracy, there is nothing more sacred than a person’s right to vote.  When you vote, or even if you choose not to, you are exercising the most important action a citizen of this great nation can take.  There were millions of qualifiable candidates available to you when you cast your ballot.  You could have voted for one of the two major party candidates, a “third party” candidate, written in your choice of candidate, or even chosen to not vote for the presidency at all like our 43rd president and his wife did.  If you voted for Donald Trump, when there were literally millions of other options, you have to accept the responsibility of your actions.  You knew who this man was, who he represented, all of the horrible statements and actions he had committed, and the prejudicial ideas he would pursue as President.  In spite of all of this, with all of the other options available, you chose to vote for him.  With your precious vote, you “made able; gave power, means”, “equipped”, and “made possible” his path to an Electoral College victory, and the presidency of the United States of America.  You are culpable because you have enabled him.  Without your vote, he would not have become president.  Trump voters, you had your chance to run away from his “other” supporters, but you chose not to.  So stop running, and embrace what you have enabled…you are one of them now!



Pep Talk For Democrats and Hillary Clinton Voters

Here’s a pep talk for my fellow Democrats and Hillary Clinton voters.  I know Tuesday’s election was brutal.  I’ve felt depressed, angry, despair, anxious, and helpless just in the last few days.  I have tried to find any silver linings that I could and I wanted to share them with my fellow Democrats, Hillary voters, and anyone scared about Trump being our next president.  While things could be better, when we take a step back and look at the big picture, we are not as defeated as we may seem.  In fact, we’ve done quite a bit of winning…even winning more votes than the Republican candidate.

Clarifying what the “Marginal Tax Rate” is, and is NOT

The other night at dinner I was sitting beside a man (talking very loudly) who said he could never vote for Bernie Sanders because Bernie wanted to raise taxes to 90%.  I believe his quote was on the lines of “…so I’m supposed to work each week and have Bernie take 90% of my paycheck?  No way!”.  That would be something to be mad about, fortunately though, this man had no idea what he was talking about.  It was, yet again, an error in understanding what a “Marginal Tax Rate” is with regards to income taxes.  Neither Bernie, the IRS, or the Easter Bunny were going to take 90% of this (loud) man’s paycheck.

Just to clarify, I’m not voting for Bernie Sanders in our state’s Democratic Primary.  I don’t technically have any “skin in the game” with hopes that this man will vote for Bernie.  I do however take issue with willful ignorance, and regardless of who the gentleman is voting for, I fully believe he should base his decision off of facts and not some anecdotal talking point he got from a misleading source.

In America we have a progressive tax system.  This basically means that as you earn more you will pay higher taxes on the “next dollar earned” in an increasingly staggered tax bracket.  The “next dollar earned” is where the term “marginal” comes into play.  It appears what confuses many Americans is that they know that they make “X” dollars, they look at an income tax chart, find where that falls, and assume ALL of their income is taxed at that rate.  This is simply not true.  Here is a visual that should be able to help explain:

progressive tax

What this means is that you, me, and your angry Uncle Joe, all pay 10% for the first $8,350 we make, 15% on the next amount up to $33,950, etc, etc…  This picture comes from a great article that does a much better job of explaining the Marginal Tax Rate than I can.  It should take you all of two minutes to read so I recommend highly checking it out.  It also dispels another myth you hear frequently, the “…I turned down that other job because it paid more, but my take-home pay would have been less because it bumped me into a higher tax bracket”.  Yes, like the above example, this is equated to three-headed unicorns crapping fairy dust.  It’s just not true because, it also, looses sight of the “marginal” component of our tax rate.

One last point, we have to remember that the greatest expansion of the middle-class in this country, in which we had the longest sustained period of overall economic growth, came during a time when our marginal tax rate was above 90%.  In today’s terms that means families making about $3.5 Million dollars or more (in income) would be impacted…and remember our lesson from above; they, you, and me, all pay the EXACT same tax on the first $8,350, and so on and so on…  Also, keep in mind, families making that kind of money are normally earning that amount in capital gains, not working income tax (meaning, they are making most of their money off of investments which is taxed at a much lower rate).  If you’d like to look for yourselves with regards to past marginal tax rates, here is a link to that information.

I hope this helps clear up some of the myths and misconceptions that are associated around income tax here in the United States.  I have always believed that the most powerful force in any election is an informed electorate.  Also, voting is the most fundamental piece to a democracy’s foundation.  While there are those out there who want to make it harder for citizens to vote, remember that we must all remain steadfast, and exercise our most fundamental task – Go VOTE!

My First Meme

After years of enjoying countless memes on social media, I decided that I wanted to take the plunge and make one of my own.  It was very easy to make and I used imgur as the tool (it’s web based and has an app).  So, for my first meme, I put a Mark spin on it…funny, political, with a nice hint of smart-ass truthfulness.  🙂  Hope you enjoy!

Honest Abe, Now Embarrassed - Imgur