Category Archives: Politics

Trumpsizing Government

cutbacksAs an official self-proclaimed spokesperson for the White House, I’d like to set the record straight regarding certain misconceptions about President Trump’s vision for our government. Many people believe that he cares about nothing except getting a “win,” regardless of how good or bad the underlying legislation or policy may be. Others fear that he has been Svengali’d by Steve Bannon into a project to “deconstruct the administrative state,” destroying all that is good and noble about our nation. Still others conclude that he has no agenda at all and is simply flailing around with logic that only his sick, twisted psyche could possibly comprehend.

None of these are true – well not exactly completely true…

In fact, the President does have a very definite agenda, goal, and vision for our nation and it is not merely downsizing government. Trump’s goal is to “rightsize” America. He wants to “Trumpsize It” if you will.

What does Trumpsizing mean? It means reinventing government so that it works for Donald Trump and only Donald Trump. A truly Trumpsized government is smaller in some places and bigger in other places, depending on whether those particular functions serve Donald Trump. In fact, that’s why Donald Trump became President, to reshape government into one that better works for him, Donald Trump. That’s Trumpsizing!

How is Trumpsizing achieved in practice? Well you have to start by cutting, cutting, cutting. You need to cut out all agencies and services that may pose annoyances to Donald Trump. These would include for example a Justice Department that might launch pesky investigations into illegal Trump activities, Ethical Boards that might question shady Trump dealings, and Regulatory Agencies that might think that they can restrict or restrain his personal business dealings or his Presidential excesses. And of course you also downsize government services that simply do not help Mr. Trump personally and therefore have no purpose. These include wasteful spending like social service programs or environmental protection.

If you cannot control certain agencies as much as you would like, you recruit a team of really, really incompetent heads who will ensure that the particular agencies they run cannot function effectively. But you cannot stop there. Since these departmental leaders are by design so incompetent, they are probably not competent enough to adequately sabotage all effective operations. So you need to cut or gag all remaining staff members who might possibly continue performing their job functions competently.

Once you have dismantled or otherwise neutralized any agencies that could restrain Donald Trump, as well as those wasteful programs that don’t help him personally, then you have the clean slate required to advance to stage two of Trumpsizing. Now you start increasing the size of the government to serve Donald Trump. You can for example create a huge state run “news” organization to promote the Trump brand. You can build up the State Department so that it can pave the way for Trump deals globally. You also beef up your law enforcement division so that it can sniff out and prosecute any Trump dissidents in the population, and of course greatly expand your military so that it can better support your totalitarian allies and cower your democratic rivals into submission.

So you see? The President truly does have an ambitious agenda. It is essential that we help him to succeed in this truly transformation moment, because as we are always told, if the President succeeds, America succeeds! And if you think this is ambitious, just wait until a second term. If “elected” again, Donald Trump will most certainly advance this agenda with a bold new program to “consolidate and streamline” government so that all other branches of government report directly to him and then to the heirs of the Trump line of succession. It just makes good business sense.

That’s Trumpsizing. Barely one year in and so far, it’s going great, fantastic, right on schedule, best hostile takeover of a democratic government ever!

 

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State Deductions are Unfair!

So I flipped my car radio to the Michael Medved show the other day and managed to catch him between commercials for performance enhancement, income tax settlement, incredible investment opportunities, and patriotic booze. As conservative talk show hosts go, Michael is far more objective and fair-minded than the vile blowhards that dominate right-wing talk. In fact, he typically sounds amazingly reasonable, fair-minded, and well-informed. Well, at least until you shake yourself out of the thrall of his sincere, heart-felt admonitions and seemingly irrefutable logic.

Take for example the other day. He was going on about the Republican plan to end federal deductions for state and local taxes and why removing this deduction actually corrects a terrible unfairness. He argued that it is “obviously unfair” that this deduction in effect forces fiscally responsible Red states to subsidize the big tax-and-spend programs of those liberal Blue states. With great rhetorical fervor he asked his audience, how is that fair that some [Blue] states get to enjoy these deductions while some [Red] states do not?

I admit that the “logic” of his impassioned appeal to fairness did sway me for a while. Then I mentally bonked myself on the head when I realized that of course his argument is completely fallacious.

What Michael did there was to employ a rhetorical and logical trick that we must all be alert for when hearing such arguments. Knowingly or unknowingly, he used the persuasive tactic of getting the other party to accept a framing of the issue in relative isolation without considering the full picture.

In this case, many of these “responsible” Red states can only get away with charging little or no state tax because they receive so much federal assistance. These Red states have the very worst standards of living, rates of poverty, and require far more humanitarian assistance from the federal government. On net, these “fiscally responsible” Red states are the takers. Who are the largest givers? A disproportionate amount comes from those terrible tax-and-spend Blue states.

When you consider all forms of spending and taxation, there is no evidence that there is any benefit to living in a state with no income tax  (see here), but the article points out that there are tremendous benefits to living in a high tax state, particularly if you are poor. And I would argue that how a state treats its poor should be seen as a good thing to all people of conscious, particularly Christians. How we treat the least among us, not merely through charity but through government policy and yes redistribution, should be seen as the greatest measure of the character of a people and their state.

FedAidtoStates

Yet Republicans, largely dominated by Evangelical Christians in states like Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, offer the fewest services to their people while devouring disproportionate federal aid. And all the while they complain about those liberal states like New York and California who not only take better care of their own people, but send their dollars to the poor victims of their own fiscally-heartless Red states.

The Red states are takers and the Blue states are givers in our nation. This is not a particularly contestable analysis. It has been shown innumerable times, including the analysis and conclusion presented in “Which States are Givers and Which are Takers” published in The Atlantic (see here).

[W]ho really benefits from government spending? If you listen to Rush Limbaugh, you might think it was those blue states, packed with damn hippie socialist liberals, sipping their lattes and providing free abortions for bored, horny teenagers. …

As it turns out, it is red states that are overwhelmingly the Welfare Queen States. Yes, that’s right. Red States—the ones governed by folks who think government is too big and spending needs to be cut—are a net drain on the economy, taking in more federal spending than they pay out in federal taxes. They talk a good game, but stick Blue States with the bill.

So, returning to the rant by Michael Medved, while in isolation it may seem unfair that Blue states generally get a tax benefit not available to some Red states, it is actually quite fair if you look at the entire cash flow picture. Blue states not only provide their own residents a higher quality of life, they are net givers to Red states who impoverish and abandon their populations while consuming vast federal support to provide the essential health and social services that those states refuse to offer.

If anything, when you look at the full picture, it is even more unfair that Blue states not only have to take care of their own residents but also the residents of your callous Red states. Perhaps, Michael, if you feel so strongly that Blue states should stop receiving this state tax deduction, you must likewise then feel just as strongly that no money should flow from Blue states into Red ones to provide basic services for their desperate and hurting people. In accordance with your ethical logic, it seems unfair that inland states should be forced to send any of their money, through FEMA, to those irresponsible southern states that build homes continually ravaged by hurricanes.

Fortunately, liberals are not this petty and selfish. They understand that it takes a village and that the health and well-being of each of us is best served by caring about the health and well-being of all of us. Liberals in Blue states do not actually complain about helping under-served populations in your Red states, even as you complain about the terrible unfairness of tax deductions that help allow Blue states to help you.

Don’t let conservatives focus you on the “obvious common sense” bits of truth that distract you from the big truth. Learn to watch for and recognize this subtle but detectable form of deceit and manipulation.

News Has Become a Geico Commercial

cavemanGreat advertising works because the advertisers uncannily understand the psychological dynamics of the moment even before it is commonly recognized. Take for example the “Great Answer” series of Geico commercials. In these commercials, a person is put in an impossibly tough spot to which they reply that Geico can save you 15% or more on insurance. This is comically accepted by everyone as a “great answer.”

In “Objection,” faced with insurmountable evidence against him in a courtroom, a thief defends himself with the line (see here).

And in “Undercover Agent” an inept undercover agent avoids certain death at the hands of the mob using a similar line (see here).

Then in “He-Man vs Skeletor” the villain escapes amid gleeful laughter after delivering the punch line (see here).

Finally in “Meteor Crash,” when faced with the imminent destruction of the Earth, the General in charge proclaims that Geico is the answer (see here).

Silly as these are, I sometimes I feel like I’m living in a Geico commercial. When we watch news interviews, we essentially see an unending stream of farcical Geico  commercials. The Geico advertising team gets this at some level. That’s why these commercials are not merely funny but they relate, they resonate, they ring true.

Except being subjected to an endless stream of Geico-esque answers to real, important questions that affect our lives and affect the planet is not funny.

When watching news interviews during the day, the nightly news shows, or shows like Meet the Press or Face the Nation over the weekend, the hosts try to ask meaningful and important questions. But the guests invariably reply with “Geico can save you 15% or more” type answers.

Host: Given all the incontrovertible evidence that your tax plan is designed only to benefit the rich, how can you justify it?

Paul Ryan: We are giving the middle class a huge tax cut.

Host: Every independent analysis concludes that your tax plan will explode the deficit which you claimed is the biggest threat to our nation. How do you respond?

Kevin McCarthy: We are giving the middle class a huge tax cut.

Host: You claim that by giving huge tax breaks to big business and ultra-rich individuals, your tax plan will create jobs and increase wages. Yet this promise has been made many times before and it has never proved true. Why should it work this time?

Sarah Sanders: We are giving the middle class a huge tax cut.

Some people would simply call this “good messaging.” But at some point, good messaging becomes formal or informal collusion in a campaign of misinformation. We are way past the point of innocent and healthy message discipline now. We are moving into carefully crafted propaganda territory.

Here’s the thing. If the person you are interviewing has no shame, no compunction about misrepresenting and “spinning” to absurd extremes, no trace of integrity with regard to facts or truth, then you really cannot and should not talk to them. It used to be that most politicians had some baseline of integrity and self-respect, some desire to be truthful, and some capacity to be embarrassed or ashamed. But no more. While this lack of intellectual and moral integrity has been growing for a long time, particularly on the Right, Donald Trump has normalized this to such an extreme that even the most disingenuous scripted politicians can rationalize they are being relatively forthright and reasoned.

Today we are confronted by immediate and immensely important threats like climate change, wealth inequality, automation, and guns. Yet just like the General in “The Meteor” commercial, even when faced by existential challenges, all that our politicians are willing to respond with is the equivalent of “Geico can save you 15% or more.”

My message to Chuck Todd, John Dickerson, and all the rest of you news interviewers is … just give up already. Your guests have just gotten too good at avoiding answering anything fully or honestly. You are wasting your time and our time. You won’t catch them in a candid moment or a self-contradiction any more. I appreciate that you cannot push harder than you do, so you should just focus on reporting facts and providing independent analysis. Yes, independent analysis may not rate as high as partisan vollyball matches in which canned messages get knocked back and forth. Nonpartisan analysts may not draw the audiences of big-name politicians and spokespersons who cackle like Skeletor as they deflect your questions. But at least you would be using that otherwise wasted airtime with real reporting with real value for the nation and the world.

Or you can just continue to serve as the straight-men and women for those “Geico will save you 15% or more” punch lines. Just know that we are not laughing.

Cosby, Weinstein, Trump and Other Sorry Excuses for Men

Let’s be totally clear right up front. Neanderthals who disrespect, harass, mistreat, or abuse women in any way are despicable. “Men” like Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, James Toback, and yes Donald Trump should be exposed, humiliated, and ruined. If I believed in hell, I’d sentence them to eternal demonic torture right alongside priests who molest children. The people and institutions who enable and protect these men should also suffer debilitating punitive repercussions.

pussyOn a political digression, Trump voters as well as politicians who do not denounce him are every bit as guilty of enabling, protecting, and promoting an unashamed pussy-grabber as those who rationalized that there was some greater good achieved by aiding and abetting Harvey Weinstein or Bill O’Reilly or that it would be improper of them to criticize their behaviors. No difference at all.

That said, I want to discuss the “90% stat.” What I mean by that is the constantly cited stats emphasizing that 80, 90, or even 98 percent of women report having experienced incidents of sexual misconduct at some time in their lives. Whatever the number presented, it is undoubtedly true that most women encounter some pathetic abuser at one point or another. Citing this number is obviously effective in building awareness, creating a sense of outrage, and stimulating action.

And yet it can also be terribly misleading and counterproductive.

When one points out that “90% of women have experienced abuse,” part of the reason this is powerful is because it creates the impression that 90% of men are running around abusing women 90% of the time. Sometimes this suggestion is explicit and intentional, but mostly it is just the unintended impression produced when one hears these statistics. This impression is reinforced when advocates follow up with general comments about how commonplace such conduct is among men and how all men need to receive awareness training and be re-socialized to show proper respect toward women.

But the truth is that most men do not act this way. Nor do they talk this way – no, not even in locker rooms. And since such language has been largely purged from acceptable society, most do not even think this way anymore. I have never acted, talked, or even thought this way. In my extremely wide-ranging life, none of the boys and men I have associated with have done so either. This misconduct is perpetuated by a subset of men and is not typical of men except within certain very dysfunctional microcultures.

Certainly 90% of men do not run around abusing women 90% of the time.

Think about the survey question “have you ever been the victim of road rage?” At least 90% of people would say yes. At some point some asshole on the road gave me the finger, or cut me off, or intentionally slammed on their brakes in front of me. Maybe someone even got out of their car in a traffic jam and came after me with a crow bar. Most motorcyclists – including me – will relate their horror story of that time a car intentionally tried running them off the road. Ask one. At least 90% of us have experienced road rage, ranging from annoying to scary to life-threatening.

But 90% of drivers aren’t running motorcycles off the road 90% of the time. 90% of drivers aren’t even flashing the bird out their window 90% of the time. These acts are mostly performed by a relatively small subset of drivers with anger and power issues who do this repeatedly. For the most part, most drivers are unfailingly courteous, patient, polite, cooperative, law-abiding, and even generous in their driving behavior. But yes, there are some angry, horrible drivers who should not be allowed on public roads in a civil society.

Likewise, reports of sex abuse are best understood as the acts of a relatively small subset of men who engage in this action serially and compulsively. Bill Cosby molested 60 or more women that we know of. Harvey Weinstein is catching up at over 40 so far. A few seriously depraved men can and do impact the lives of large numbers of women with unforgettable and even traumatic encounters. Therefore, a relatively small number of serial abusers can impact, at one point or another, a huge number of women.

But what’s wrong with well-meaning advocates creating the impression that most men engage in similar behavior? Well it isn’t just unfair, but more importantly it’s counterproductive and it lets those truly sick men off far too easily.

First, it just doesn’t ring true to the vast majority of men for whom this kind of behavior is unthinkable. It makes many conclude that the whole problem is overblown. It makes them less sympathetic and unfairly shamed with no call to personal action except to stop doing what they have never done. Exaggeration may in fact encourage some men to attempt some minor abuses that they see as nothing compared to the “rampant norm” they hear about.

Second, it dilutes blame. If Trump and his supporters can create the impression that his behavior is “normal and pervasive” amongst men, then seriously disturbed offenders like our President are shielded from personal criticism and from effective shaming. Trump and powerful perverts like him aren’t pathetic aberrations, they’re just normal guys who happened to get caught on tape. That impression only works to their advantage.

Advocates – Rather than normalizing and diluting bad behavior by focusing on this 90% statistic, focus rather on statistics that marginalize these perpetrators as exceptions – as outcasts, as neanderthals, as throwbacks, as perversions, and as the criminals that they are. Creating an impression that “all men” engage in such behavior may whip up a climate of fear and anger, but it is counterproductive to your cause. Don’t make these perpetrators typical, make them deviants. Continue to cite your 90% statistics, but follow up with commentary about how much damage a few sick individuals can do.

Women – Don’t let well-meaning advocates make you doubt and even fear your husbands, fathers, coworkers – or even construction workers on the street. Be wary and alert of course, but call upon men to help you if needed. Most will take a bullet if called upon for help by a woman. When commenting on an abusive man, rather than saying and thinking “you’re just as bad as all men,” say and think “you’re a sorry excuse for a man!” The latter attitude will not only be far more effective in dissuading bad behavior but it will also make you feel less besieged and endangered and angry in a world with lots of men.

Men – While it may be unfair and even unhelpful to suggest you personally engage in these behaviors, it is not unfair to be tarnished by and held responsible for the actions of the worst members of whatever groups we are part of.  Therefore, I call on you to denounce these sad, moronic losers whenever you encounter them. Defend victims of sexual abuse – or any form of bullying – actively and aggressively. Whether the perpetrator is your best friend, or your boss – or your President – don’t stand by. Don’t look the other way. Don’t excuse. Don’t walk away. Don’t be a cowardly weenie. Step up and step in. Be a man by showing sexual abusers that their behavior is not acceptable and will not be tolerated in your presence.

 

Donald’s Big Little Penis Day

4:17 AM Tweet

“MadCow Madow claims I have a small penis… Wrong! Lie. Fak NEws!!! So Sad.   She is the one with tiny penis. Mine is the biggest ever! Tremendous. I’ll show her…”

4:23 AM Reince Priebus on call from President

Reince: I saw it. Yes Mr. President, I’ll clear our entire schedule… yes even the terrorism briefing. I know, they’re boring anyway. No we’ll keep the meeting with Putin. He makes you happy. Will assemble the full cabinet for an emergency meeting at 6 AM. OK bye.

5:30 AM Melania during breakfast with Donald

Melania: That’s outrageous my love. You need to teach this Maddow a lesson putchkin. Make her suffer tenfold for saying my big strong Donny has a tiny penis… Yes dear you make me SO horny I have to go… <Click and dial tone heard from Melania’s end of the phone>

5:45 AM Personal Valet while lengthening President’s tie to penis level

Valet: Yes sir. Amazing sir. It’s amazingly huge. I can see that sir. Very impressive.

6:34 AM Emergency “War Room” meeting continues

Nikki Haley: No sir, again, we really don’t need to see it. We believe you.

Jeff Sessions: Have no fear sir, we’ll bring the entire Justice Department to bear against this Maddow woman. I never liked her much myself. She once made a totally inappropriate remark about my chin.

Rex Tillerson: I am not sure this actually rises to the level of an “International Incident,” but I’ll look into having that scope broadened.

James Mattis: Just to be clear, Mr. President, we can’t actually “nuke” an individual person. Yet. But we’re working on the technology.

10:03 AM Sarah Huckabee Sanders morning press briefing

Sarah: I’ll just say that the President has the hugest penis ever. No one denies that and it is just totally inappropriate for members of the media to be launching personal attacks like this against a sitting President.

Reporter: Have you seen it personally?

Sarah: No I have not but I don’t need to because everyone knows it’s the biggest. He’s the President after all. Next.

Reporter: How can you stand up there and communicate reports as fact that you have not confirmed to be true?

Sarah: I’ll have to check with the President and get back to you on that. Can we discuss another topic? There are many cancelled meetings today that are more important to the nation than this penis story which is totally fabricated by the fake news media.

Reporter: Sarah, we cannot find any records of Rachel Maddow making any penis comments that could be construed as maligning the President. Can you produce the tapes to substantiate this accusation?

Sarah: Those tapes will be coming.

Reporter: When?

Sarah: Soon. Next

Reporter: How do you respond to the leaks from within the Cabinet that this entire accusation is based on a dream that the President had this morning after eating an entire pepperoni pizza last night?

Sarah: Look, I’m not going to engage in who said what where or whether something was a dream or not or for that matter whether pepperoni pizza was involved. The President’s tweet speaks for itself and he has moved on. We should all move on as well.

Reporter: But it was just a dream!

Sarah: If the President dreams it, it’s real. End of story.

1:12 PM The President in response to a reporter’s shouted question

President: No I have not moved on. I will never move on until she apologizes personally for this small penis comment. I’m instructing my lawyers to file a libel suit against this Madcow Madow. I also have men looking into the size of my penis and what they are finding will shock you, let me tell you. That’s all I have to say. But I’ll just say that I have the utmost respect for women. No one has more respect for women than Donald Trump, OK? But the Madcow Madow isn’t really a real woman if you know what I mean…

3:54 PM Betsy DeVos on call with the President

Betsy: Yes sir, I got the pictures. Umm, thank you. Very impressive. Yes, I’ll definitely work on getting these put into education text books as soon as possible.

5:16 Dinner with Ivanka and Jarod

Ivanka: Well daddy, here’s one idea. We could pitch “The Biggest Penis Loser” to NBC. It would be a great vehicle to launch some new Ivanka Collection merchandise. Plus we could hold it at Trump hotels. Jared dear, what do you think.

Jared: <continues smiling and staring into the distance sagely>

 

Sarah Palin11:48 PM Personal Valet after being called into the Presidential Bedroom

Valet: Yes sir. It’s the most amazing penis I’ve ever seen. No… I mean the most amazing penis ever in the history of penises.

Trump: Ok, if you’re sure. Oh and could you bring me another pepperoni pizza? It reminds me of someone that makes my penis even bigger.

 

 

 

 

 

Trump’s Cabinet of Sycophants

Like the rest of the nation, I have lots of other topics I’d like to blog about, but I instead need to vent about Donald Trump’s pathetic first “Cabinet Meeting” held today. It was a new low for a President who keeps surpassing expectations for how low a President could possibly sink – and that made it a new low for our nation.

donald-trump-cabinet-meetingThere was no actual meeting. No normal business was conducted. No information was exchanged. It began unsurprisingly with Trump touting how he is the greatest President ever. His obscene self-aggrandizement was followed with each of his cabinet ministers taking their turn to genuflect at his feet and pour praises upon him in the most hyperbolic manner they could (see here). Each one affirmed that their lord and master is the greatest president ever, that he has accomplished more than anyone else could possibly imagine, and showered him with their deep gratitude for the singularly great honor of serving under him.

Trump accepted each sickeningly fawning public declaration of adulation and adoration like some cheap fantasy novel King, nodding his approval as each of his Barons pledged undying loyalty with flattery and tributes of gold.

It felt like we imagine North Korea to be, but then again I’m not sure even Kim Jong-un is actually as pathetically needy or that he has a more disgustingly sycophantic group of advisors around him than Trump does. Today, at least in the Executive Branch, we became worse than North Korea because unlike the North Koreans, we chose to empower this ridiculous child-king.

Trump is still not a President. He holds the title but he does not act like one. He rather acts like the winner of a reality TV show – Survivor or Last Man Standing. Or maybe he’s closer to a romance novel Beauty Pageant winner, doing the circuit of required appearances to revel in the applause and envy of all those who called her plain and dull in High School. Dressing up each day only to feed her vanity but with absolutely nothing of any actual substance to offer from atop her throne.

This meeting today dashes all hope that Trump would bring together a Cabinet of distinguished advisors who could competently manage this nation. To be sure, he has succeeded, but he has succeeded in assembling a Cabinet of Sycophants who are willing to debase themselves and grovel to feed the insatiable ego of this egomaniacally compulsive liar.

As long as there have been kings and dictators, the worst of these have found sycophants to serve them. Donald Trump has found his.

Don’t Get Used to It

WeAreHereIn the early 1990’s, a group called Queer Nation came up with the “We’re here! We’re queer! Get used to it!” chant. It was wildly successful and contributed greatly to the phenomenal success of the Gay Rights movement. That movement was so successful that other movements still look to it as the gold standard for both inspiration and strategy. Many of them have adapted and adopted the “We’re here!” slogan-as-a-strategy in form, in spirt, and in attitude.

Arguably however, the slogan has jumped the shark. Even Lisa Simpson, longtime advocate for Gay Rights, eventually shouted in frustration “You do this every year, we ARE used to it!” (seen here). At this point, one could launch a counter-chant “You’re here! We’re used to it! Get used to it!

But the slogan is past its day in deeper ways. I’ll get to that shortly.

First let me point out that the slogan has become much more than a mere rallying chant. It reflects a worldview, an attitude, a tone, and an approach to relationships, both societal and personal that has influenced all of our culture. This message was so successful that it became deeply internalized and enculturated.  It permeated the very thinking of a generation of liberals and conservatives alike. It says, in the most uncompromising terms, that you get what you want by ultimatum. There is no room to negotiate. There is no shared responsibility nor shared blame. The burden is all on the other side. You had better change because I am what I am and I am not going to change or go back into any form of a closet. It is a problem when this no-compromise attitude is generalized beyond the bounds of movements like Gay Rights.

In addition, Liberals were particularly influenced in a much different way. The slogan enculturated the idea that we should not expect others to compromise. We must accept anything and everything no matter how distasteful we find it. We must never criticize other ideas or behaviors, let alone expect or demand anyone else to change. Good liberals chasten each other when they are insufficiently accepting of other viewpoints and differences. This is another unfortunate lasting impact of this movement which taught that it is wrong to judge or criticize.

If this seems confusing to you, I say good! It means you are paying attention! I am suggesting that the Gay Right’s movement in general and the “We’re here!” slogan in particular had two seemingly contradictory side-effects. One was to encourage a destructively uncompromising posture, and the other was to instill an attitude of principled acceptance. These actually reinforce each other.

In current culture this encourages us to assert an unwillingness to accommodate others in any way – even as we chide and criticize those who a do not accept the inflexibility of others. In practice, this is manifest by self-righteous “take me or leave me” declarations when the issue impacts us strongly, and at the same time preachy “you should accommodate others” admonitions when the issue does not impact us as personally.

While it was the right message at the right time for the Gay Rights movement, this confrontational get-over-it ultimatum it isn’t necessarily a good template for other movements. Moreover, it isn’t a particularly good attitude for society in general and it certainly is not a good approach to interpersonal relations. It is a strategy adopted even by the most vile and indefensible groups and individuals.

We’re here! We’re loud and obnoxious! Get used to it!

We’re here! We’re Confederates! Get used to it!

We’re here! We’re Gun-toters! Get used to it

Civilized societies have to cooperate, negotiate, moderate, and compromise if they are to survive. In most cases, an ultimatum strategy is doomed to result in unfortunate outcomes for both parties. When we can compromise and make changes, we can demand that both sides make some effort, some accommodation.

The same is true for interpersonal relationships. If one roommate declares “I’m a messy slob but I’m not going anywhere so you better just get used to it,” it leaves the other party no choice but to walk out. Love me or leave me doesn’t work. Unlike gender identity, most things are somewhat under our control and there are things we can and should do to improve our own behaviors.

In truth, this attitude is dated. Those still influenced by it are blind to the times we live in today. During this Era of Trump, uncompromising declarations and pious acceptance are not as appealing as they once were. People who are making a difference today are people who say “I am willing to change and I do not accept your assertion that you cannot change as well.”

WereHereWith radical crazies infesting the government and with Trump running a for-profit White House, we can no longer accept the “Accept the things I cannot change…” platitude. We cannot accept the fact that Donald was elected President. This picture posted like subversive graffiti on a telephone pole near my house. It reflects the new, more engaged attitude. It reads “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.

We cannot simply accept evolution and climate change deniers in the Congress and Senate. We cannot simply accept a narcissistic lunatic in the Oval Office. We have to criticize. We have to fight. We have to demand change. We have to give up this “liberal principle” of polite acceptance that has lobotomized our brains since the Gay Rights movement launched its famous slogan. We must stop falling for the jiu jitsu logic of Conservatives who tell us that – as we told them about Gay Rights – we now must “get used” to Trump and everything he fails to stand for.

The Gay Rights movement did not intend to teach us acquiescence. Quite the opposite – it was all about boldly fighting for your cause. But it also did not intend to teach that any assertion of an absolute position on any issue must be completely accepted. If both sides take absolute positions of ultimatum, we can only have division and dysfunction.

Apart from basic human rights issues, we do NOT have to accept every card we are dealt. No one should be allowed to build unassailable walls around their intransigence and we should not be pressured by our own peers into respecting and accepting those artificial constructs. “Get used to it!” should not be a principle that we apply in an uncompromising and self-destructive fashion.

Ultimatums are not a strategy, and neither is Zen-like acceptance. In most things, engagement with others and compromise on both sides is how we find win-win solutions.

In realms of faith, many of us conclude that my need for you to respect my crazy belief forces me to respect and support any crazy faith you may have. Truth and belief become inextricably blurred. It’s kind of the same thing here. If we want others to accept our ultimatums, we must then accept the ultimatums of others – no matter how crazy.

We have to exert more nuanced and fact-based judgement in both areas. It’s time to deprogram ourselves away from the old ultimatum-based “We’re here!” thinking of the Gay Rights era and adopt more sophisticated strategies to win hearts and minds and make real change. That starts with not accepting ultimatums or wisdom that tells us to accept what those who profit from the status quo tell us we cannot hope to change.