October… Surprise! Surprise, Surprise… Surprise…

surprise-loading

This month has been the ULTIMATE microcosm of the 2016 Presidential Election.  And I am as tired of it as I am of this entire ridiculous election.  Ridiculous not because I’m tired of hearing about an election between two bad candidates or a bullshit argument of this being the lesser of two evils(hint: it isn’t).  I’m tired because of the exact opposite.  I am tired of people thinking this election is anything close to two equals of anything.  I’m tired of seeing an overly qualified female compete with a shitty male for a job he is uniquely under qualified to do.  I’m also tired of the media putting the things Hillary Clinton might have done on the same level as all the ignorant, egotistically, morally and politically corrupt crap Donald Trump has said and done.  This is NOT a real comparison.

But this month is especially stupid.  Last Friday, the Director of the FBI, James Comey informed congress of a new cache of emails linked to Hillary Clinton.  These emails(which they found out about a month ago BTW but waited until a week before the election to say something) were found on a computer belonging to former Congressman Anthony Weiner.  Weiner, who is being investigated because of a child sexting scandal, is married to Clinton aid, Huma Abedin.  So because of this, Donald Trump, who had literally the day before claimed the FBI(like the election, every primary state he lost, U.S. District judges, Emmy Awards and everything else that doesn’t benefit him) is rigged.  The very next day he changes his mind and says maybe it wasn’t rigged.  All because the FBI found emails that may or may not be relevant to an investigation that was closed months ago.

And over the last few days, the media has gone a batshit crazy over this, talking about this being the “October Surprise” that could ruin the electoral chances of Hillary Clinton.  For those that aren’t familiar, an “October Surprise” in politics is a news story that breaks a few weeks before an election that has a chance to affect voter perceptions enough to sway said election.  Like an aid of President Johnson getting arrested for “disorderly conduct” in a restroom with another man or Mitt Romney’s 47% comment in 2012.  So here we sit, just barely a week until the election and this story breaks and it’s like Mana from Heaven for Donald Trump’s trainwreck of a candidacy and a media that’s needing something else to feast on other than Donald Trump’s trainwreck of a candidacy.

And the news is calling this the October Surprise… the October Surprise of 2016.  Except it ain’t.

Of course if this were any other presidential election, Hillary Clinton, who may or may not be as typical of any presidential candidate we’ve seen, might be waylaid by this “surprising” find.  But she is running against, of all people, Donald Trump.  And before anyone should dare give a stank eye to ANYTHING Hillary Clinton did in the last days of October for her surprise, there is LITERALLY an entire MONTH of surprises that Donald Trump surprised voters with from the very first day!

It’s been a long month. So… In case you forgot…

SURPRISE!  The month could hardly begin with Trump in a Twitter War(of his own making) with a former pageant contestant.  Yeah, but…

SUPRISE!  The month actually starts with the New York Times releasing a story stating that Donald Trump, who has dogged people not paying taxes, has not paid federal income taxes in 20 years, which he would actually confirm.  Not sexy enough?  Well…

SURPRISE!  A week later Access Hollywood releases a video of Donald Trump BRAGGING about sexually assaulting women.  And to no one’s surprise…

SURPRISE!  Since Donald Trump’s on-camera admission no less than TWELVE women have come forward to corroborate Donald Trump’s own story about him grabbing them, shoving his tongue down their throats, cornering them and bursting in on them while undressed.  Oh by the way…

SURPRISE!  One of those women was a 13-year old girl who has a claim that Donald Trump and another former associate and convicted child molester raped her for which he was given a court date for.  Also, let’s not forget…

SURPRISE!  Donald Trump is stoking the Birtherism fever he kept alive for five years by questioning the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s Presidency yet again.  But wait, there’s more…

SURPRISE!  Donald Trump has set his own reality where not only did he state that if he loses the election it was because someone cheated by claiming it’s rigged or if he wins he has vowed to pursue a criminal investigation to jail his opponent, Hillary Clinton, thereby threatening the entire fabric of what the United States of America is built on.  Democracy.

All of this is just one month, folks! Any ONE of those would have wrecked your typical campaign.  But Donald Trump and his candidacy has been so ludicrous and abysmally wretched that we’ve become irritatingly desensitized to the detestable shitshow we see on t.v. every night.  And I’m supposed to be worried about some emails that Hillary Clinton DIDN’T send being found on someone else’s computer!?!

That isn’t an October Surprise.

Donald Trump IS the October Surprise!

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Aborted Conversations

Abortion

On Sunday, May 31, 2009, morning worship services at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas had just began.  Dr. George Tiller, an usher at the church, was handing out bulletins to parishioners as they entered when local activist Scott Roeder approached Tiller from behind and shot him in the side of the head, killing him instantly.  This was the end of an intensely controversial career of Dr. Tiller. For years, Dr. Tiller was one of the very, very, very few doctors in America that would perform “late-term abortions” or abortions that take place during the latter part of the 2nd trimester of a pregnancy and after(18< weeks).   Inheriting his father’s clinic upon his death in 1970, Tiller left his dermatology residency to continue the practice after learning of a woman who died from an illegal abortion, which of course at the time prior to Roe v Wade was only legal in certain cases, no matter the time.  It would not be long after that Tiller’s clinic became the focal point of anti-abortion activist nationwide that saw him as one of the gravest threats to life allowing to operate in America.  Other than the daily protest outside, the clinic was firebombed in 1986.  Tiller himself was shot five times in 1993 by activist Shelley Shannon.  All of this was done in an effort to prevent Tiller from performing any further abortions and by their belief saving the lives of those that would come to his clinic.

Despite the completely interesting questions of moral absolutes that come to mind when one is trying to do a right by doing a wrong in of itself, Shannon and ultimately Roeder held the belief that what Tiller was doing not just murder, but because of his willingness to perform abortions late-term, they believed his actions to be barbaric enough that further action needed to be taken to stop him.  It was as simple as he committing murder and those being murdered had to be protected.  It was black and white, no equivocation, an absolute belief.  Unfortunately, there are absolutes in the human experience that isn’t visibly seen.

For hundreds of years, the absolutism of abortion wasn’t what you may think.  Before 1973, our laws dictating abortion were actually rooted in English Common Law, which said abortion was not permitted after quickening.  “Quickening”, historically derived from “quick” also known at the time as “alive”, which established fetal movement as the demarcation of when abortion could be performed for a given reason.  This guidance set the laws for early America as well, which varied state by state.  However, it wasn’t until the late 19th and early 20th Century that women began to recognize their personal individuality and gender.  They began to enter the workforce and own property.  And by the turn of the century, the sensation known as “feminism” had arrived in the United States and began influencing popular society.  Women gained voting rights, pay equity and the idea of birth control and family planning also begin to gain acceptance.  This would include the right to have abortion.  Prior to the rise of feminism, abortion was seen as a societal ill.  Whether it was a sterilization view or a “punishment” men would force upon women who had an unwanted conception.   It wasn’t until this time in American society that the campaign to link women’s rights to issues of morality began to surface.

For the next four decades, along with the expansion of medical sciences, the issue of birth control became less of a social issue but more of a religious issue.  By the 1970s, when the fight for civil rights and human rights reached its peak, women started to believe that in order have full equal rights that meant having full control of their own bodies and everything in it, specifically their reproductive ability.  These themes would control the abortion debate in each individual state until 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court made it’s decision on Roe vs Wade, declaring abortion, a Right to Privacy, legal during the first two trimesters of a preganacy(24 weeks) prior to the viability of a fetus to live on it’s own apart from the mother.

This decision, however, did not end the abortion debate, but arguably intensified it.  Over the last 43 years, the Pro-Life movement in the United States has gained strength in response to changes in Abortion Law.  Last week saw the latest salvo launched in this battle during the 2016 Presidential Debate when Secretary Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were asked about Roe vs Wade and their intentions for protecting the rights of women.  Hillary Clinton had to explain her defense of her stance against a ban of “Partial Birth Abortion”, which of course Donald Trump characterized as terrible that she supports “ripping” a baby out of the womb prior to birth, which of course wasn’t what she said.

When the U.S. Supreme Court made it’s decision in Roe v. Wade, abortion was made legal in all 50 states prior to the point of viability, which has been medically stated at 28 weeks, but the law extended to 24 weeks.  Despite the fact that virtually all abortions are done prior to 13 weeks, the anti-abortion rhetoric and activism espoused by Donald Trump and the like continued to focus on clinics like that of George Tiller due to his willingness to perform abortions well after, often late in the 2nd trimester and even into the 3rd trimester.  If you’re reading this and are doing basic math you’re probably thinking that due to the Supreme Court’s decision, Dr. Tiller is admittedly performing abortions post 24 weeks, which is supposed to be illegal, right?  I mean even the most liberal of liberals who think abortion should be legal to the age of six will readily admit that this is a child at the 2nd and 3rd trimester.  However, what the pro-life side won’t tell you or could even begin to realize about those that are pro-choice is that there is virtually NO support for late-term abortions.  Even the most conservative of polls taken shows 84% of Americans oppose abortion after the 1st trimester, that’s 12 weeks.  And 7 of 10 of that 84% would identify themselves as pro-choice.  It drops far less by the end of the 2nd trimester to an irrelevancy of support.  But these were the abortions being done by Dr. George Tiller.

Would anyone like to know why?

If you’re daring and have a few tissues handy, read a story from one of Dr. Tiller’s patients:

“In 1994, my wife and I found out that she was pregnant.  The pregnancy was difficult and unusually uncomfortable but her doctor repeatedly told her things were fine.  Sometime early in the 8th month, my wife, an RN who at the time was working in an infertility clinic asked the doctor she was working for what he thought of her discomfort.  He examined her and said that he couldn’t be certain but thought that she might be having twins.  We were thrilled and couldn’t wait to get a new sonogram that hopefully would confirm his thoughts.  Two days later, our joy was turned to unspeakable sadness when the new sonongram showed conjoined twins.  Conjoined twins alone is not what was so difficult but the way they were joined meant that at best only one child would survive the surgery to separate them and the survivor would more than likely live a brief and painful life filled with surgery and organ transplants.  We were advised that our options were to deliver into the world a child who’s life would be filled with horrible pain and suffering or fly out to Wichita, Kansas and to terminate the pregnancy under the direction of Dr. George Tiller.”

He went on to say that he can only imagine the pain a woman who happily carries a child for EIGHT months only to find out she had to make a decision to go against everything she believed and wanted.  That’s actually really heartbreaking.  Almost as heartbreaking as this:

“A routine ultrasound on October 26-meant to be a time of great joy, revealed terrible news: one of the twins had died, probably about a week before.  We went from the ultrasound appointment to my obstetrician’s office and were met with even more grim news. My weight had spiked up about 18 pounds, my blood pressure was soaring, and I had protein in my urine… After that, everything happened very quickly.  I was put on medication in an attempt to treat [preeclampsia] and save the remaining twin until he reached outside-the-womb viability- a mere two weeks away.  But I got much worse overnight; my blood pressure couldn’t be controlled, I had a massive headache and was vomiting uncontrollably.  My kidneys shutdown.  I was moments away from seizures, coma and death when the doctors came and told us the bad news: my remaining twin could not be saved.  My pregnancy had to be terminated or both the baby and I would die.”

This patient, after being advised to have a “partial birth abortion” that would be less stress to her body than an induced pregnancy, she felt abandoned by God with a “gulf of grief” and emptiness like of which she has never felt before.  I can’t even begin to imagine what this mother was feeling.  It’s actually pretty similar to another patient who had two partial birth abortions due to a genetic abnormality she had, which caused her twin babies to develop without faces and no way to eat or breathe.  As a twin myself those stories are probably a lot harder for me to write than it is for you to read.  But those born without a twin aren’t free of tragedy.  Another patient describes her account during her pregnancy:

“I could feel my baby’s dead body inside of mine.  This baby had thrilled me with kicks and flutters, those first soft tickles of life bringing a smile to my face and my hand to my rounding belly.  Now this baby floated, limp and heavy, from one side to the other, as I rolled in my bed.  And within a day, I started to bleed.  My body, with or without a doctor’s help was starting to expel the fetus.  Technically, I was threatening a spontaneous abortion, the least safe of the available options.”

None of these women could even dream about wanting an abortion when they first realized they were pregnant.  The happiest moment of their lives has turn to one of the worst decisions they would ever have to make.  I’m not going to pretend that the majority of abortions are excruciating stories of stillborn babies, malformed children and infants born with abbreviated yet short and agonizing lives, but that is exactly why we don’t live in a world of absolutes.  What the pro-life movement will often repeat is their blanket reasoning that women choose to have an abortion are doing so out of selfish or frivolous reasoning.  The reality is, that’s hardly ever the case.

During last week’s debate, Hillary Clinton said that in many cases, particularly in those cases of late-term or partial birth, are some of the worst decisions any women and her family have to make. She went on to say that she’s been to countries around the world that forces women to have abortions or even forces them to bear children, unwanted or otherwise.  In either case, these are not decisions that should be forced upon women by government.  Moreover, even in the minds of those who see abortion as an absolute are not without exception.  9 of 10 that identify as pro-life would even allow for abortion in cases of rape, incest or to save the mother’s life.  This is why we have the law.  Life  is never absolute.  These aren’t easy decisions, nor should they be.  Especially when one’s happiness turns into unspeakable tragedy.  But given our current level of debate, we can’t even talk about those truly unfortunate cases, let alone be able to provide for those in need.  Those conversations always end before they even begin.

The Lesson of Two Evils

hillary trump

In the early 15th Century, a Dutch priest in the Holy Roman Empire named Thomas à Kempis wrote a book called The Imitation of Christ.  The book, which was immediately almost as popular as the Bible itself, was a guide on a daily devotion to Christ while living in the here and now of everyday life.  To convince readers to master their passions, despite any of life’s sufferings, he wrote, “If you say that you cannot suffer much, how will you endure the fire of purgatory? Of two evils, the lesser is always to be chosen.”

That was the first documented use of the principle of “The lesser of two evils”, which has since been used often to describe any given situation where there’s a choice between two extremely horrible options, one of which being slightly more tolerable than the other, but both are undeniably bad.  This is a common thought in modern American politics, in particular electoral politics where a Two-Party system is often dominant giving voters a binary choice of candidates they perceive as equally poor choices.

The 2016 Presidential Election features such a perceived choice.  The two major parties have nominated Republican, Donald Trump and Democrat, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Donald Trump, who is as morally and politically insensitive of a Presidential candidate the country has ever seen and Hillary Clinton, who has had a trail of investigations follow her over the last five years, both have unfavorability ratings well above 50%.  Many feel the temperament of Donald Trump and untrustworthiness of Hillary Clinton makes both equally bad or as often suggested evil.  Some suggest that choosing either will net the same result for America or at best, the damage done by one is slightly more bearable than the damage caused by the other.  But of course both will be damaging.

This sentiment, while it often causes voter apathy, this year is causing many voters to strongly consider voting for third-party candidates, like former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson or Massachusetts activist, Jill Stein.  Now, despite the fact that such a decision in of itself would show that the choice this election actually isn’t a binary choice, but if voters paused and thought about what they valued and why they were voting they would realize this also isn’t a choice between two evils.  Nor is it much of a choice at all.

Much has been said about Hillary Clinton throughout her public life.  Some true.  Some self-inflicted.  A lot of just a bunch of smoke.  But I want to clear up a few things about her candidacy.  When this Presidential election season started, I did not support Hillary Clinton.  And this was effectively due to the EXACT same reasons why I did not support her in 2008.  For one, I found it quite unconscionable that for the entirety of my life, there was someone named “Bush” or Clinton” on the ballot in every election.  It was just a recycle of the same experiences and knowledge and I strongly felt we needed new ideas and a new perspective.  I still do.  Additionally, I realized then as I do now, even more so now, that Republicans have fermented so much angst and detraction of Hillary Clinton for years, it will be extremely difficult for her to govern functionally.  Over the last eight years, we’ve seen how paralyzed our government can be with leadership and congress unwilling to work with each other.  It will be just as bad or worse with Hillary Clinton as President than those before her.

However, with that said, I am a progressive and my goal in voting in this election, in any election, is to vote for the candidates who will progress what I believe to be right and just.  I believe our government should do all it can to help the least among us.  I believe in a higher minimum wage.  I believe women should be paid equally.  I believe my gay and lesbian friends should have the same rights and dignities that I do and I believe we all should be able to freely express those rights and receive just and constitutional treatment by the authorities.  I believe healthcare should be expanded to those who do not have access to it.  I believe educational pursuits should not be limited to those who can afford it only.  I believe immigrant families should not be separated and being able to live in America should be easier.  I STRONGLY believe that firearms should not only be made safer but also restricted from certain individuals who have abused their right.  Hillary Clinton supports ALL of that.  Is she in lock-step with every single tenant of my beliefs?  Absolutely not.  We have differing priorities.  But if anyone searches for ideological purity from any candidate then you will always come up empty.  That said, if you believe as I believe, feel as I feel, then you too will do what you can to see Hillary Clinton elected President.

Meanwhile, if I were to begin writing about all the objectionable behavior from Donald Trump, you would be reading this well into the next morning.  He has literally insulted, mocked or spoken with unfiltered ignorance of practically every sort of American that make this country possible.  His proposals are an antithesis of what made America the nation we are today.  The language and psychological profile dispersed by this man should set off every alarm bell of authoritarianism, despotism and sociopathy with nearly every American that has had to watch this act over the last 16 months.

To be clear, anyone who sees fit to compare Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump on an equality of evils should be embarrassed to make such a comparison.  Make no mistake about it, Hillary Clinton definitely has her flaws, like all candidates do.  But Donald Trump, in actual comparison, is in a class of his own.  To simply say that he lies would be an insult to the art of deception.  To even lie, one would have to actually know what is true in order to engage in the act of deceiving.  Donald Trump’s lies rarely have a basis in truth, mostly due to the fact that he doesn’t possess the wherewithal to know what truth or facts are.  It’s not that Donald Trump doesn’t what to know what is truth, he simply doesn’t care.

Sadly, if his blatant and flagrant dishonesty wasn’t bad enough, it barely begins to scratch the surface of all he has done.  If Donald Trump isn’t fat-shaming immigrants he’s calling them rapist and murderers.  He stigmatizes veterans as being weak or “losers” for standing up and fighting for a country he couldn’t bring himself to fight for himself.  He has spent years trying to delegitimize the education and nationality of America’s first Black president, all the while retweeting commentary and imagery of white nationalist and racist the whole time.  He has mocked people with disabilities, spoken with ignorant vulgarities about women and suggested banning an entire religion from living freely in America.

And what has Hillary Clinton done?  She didn’t flag a couple of emails the right way.

The horror…

Seriously though, if you really believe one of these persons is the “lesser of two evils” then you probably should reclibrate your definition of the word evil.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned during this election cycle is that there is no depth of which some will rationalize the wretchedness of humanity.  However, if there’s one thing you’ve learned from reading this you should fully realize there is no real comparison between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  There are valid reasons to support Hillary Clinton.  There is no rational or believable reason to vote for or support Donald Trump.  He doesn’t deserve your vote.  He has not earned your vote.  He has shown absolutely NO capacity of understanding what the Office of the Presidency entails.  All he has shown is the capacity for ruin, humiliation, pettiness and distasteful behavior.  If you are a progressive and like progressive things, there is plenty to like about Hillary Clinton.  To deny that is to deny what makes you progressive.  However, if you are conservative, you actually do have a binary choice in this election.  You can rather quietly endorse and continue to enable ignorance, hate and spite by voting for Donald Trump.  Or you can fully reject him, his campaign, his rhetoric, his antics and behavior.

This isn’t choosing the lesser of two evils.  It’s a lesson to reject the only evil in this election.

Choose wisely.