Trump and the blowing wind

Clete Wetli, Contributor

“If Hillary got in you wouldn’t have that stat, I can tell you right now. You would be doing wind, windmills and if it doesn’t — if it doesn’t blow you can forget about television for that night. [Laughter] Darling, I want to watch television. I’m sorry, the wind isn’t blowing. I know a lot about wind. I know a lot about wind.”- Donald J. Trump, MAGA Rally, Grand Rapids, Michigan – March 28, 2019

Yes, if Trump knows anything, he is undoubtedly an expert on blowing wind. Many people are saying that, believe me.

He has blown wind for his entire life and he knows more than his generals and scientists about it.

So, here we are. Two years and thousands of lies later. Our debt at historic levels and our institutions under a constant, corrosive attack by people whose only motivation is preserving their power and increasing their personal ill-begotten wealth. In truth, that is where we are.

In science, every human eye has a blind spot that corresponds to the placement of the optic nerve within the retina where there are no photoreceptors. In all their wisdom, the Founding Fathers never anticipated the blind spot of Trump in our democracy. It seemed that they thought that the electorate would never choose someone who was so hell bent on wreaking havoc on our political norms or who was so uniquely and blatantly unqualified to lead. In fact, it was never even considered that we might elect a leader who was intrinsically incapable of coherent thought or formulating complete sentences. Yet, here we are.

Listening to the blowing wind and suffocating on the stench it brings.

This week, I spoke with gleeful Trump cult followers that were simply drunk on the idea that Barr’s shameful initial synopsis of the Mueller Report seemed to clear Trump of Russian collusion.  I listened to their cacophonous illogical explanations and obtuse justifications of Trump’s obvious lies and unethical conduct. Ironically, without exception, each Trump zealot would reluctantly admit that they thought he was a terrible person in one capacity or another. They would cite his continual lies or his infidelity or his lack of ethics or his obvious criminal financial self-dealings. Yet, they would always circle back to supporting him because they thought he was on their side.

They were overjoyed to suck his wind.

Yes, a third, to perhaps half of our country gleefully breathes the foul air that blows from Trump’s rank wind-hole. They seemingly can’t get enough. They find it liberating, intoxicating, and elevating. They are like addicts who make any excuse for another hit of Trump; no matter how insane and no matter the consequence.

We’re two years in and I’m not exactly sure how to fight this effectively. Initially, I thought the truth might be an antidote, but it has sadly failed.  I am slowly coming to the realization that this is less about changing them and more about galvanizing those who refuse to breathe in the wind he blows. That, maybe, we need to put aside our single issue causes and learn to fight together for a greater good. The Republicans figured that out when they employed Grover Norquist’s strategy of, “We know what direction to go. We just need a president to sign this stuff. Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to be president of the United States.”  Well, he may have small digits, but they got exactly what they asked for. A useful idiot who can blow wind and sign decrees.

So, I write this tonight because I feel it’s imperative that we continue to resist and continue to fight for what we know in our hearts is true and right and American.

Trump may know a lot about blowing wind, but we know a lot more about truth and what it will really take for America to find its soul again.  2020 is coming and, soon, a fresh invigorating wind will blow from a different direction and it will bring a new season of hope and desperately needed change.

Who said women can’t Google?

google, women, misogeny

Clete Wetli, Contributor

Recently, a Google employee released an anti-diversity misogynistic manifesto that would have made other notable manifesto authors, like Ted Kaczynski and Karl Marx, ever so proud. They’d be proud because it follows the tradition of other bat-shit crazy manifestos in that it’s a phenomenal, but delusional, syllogism that attempts to justify institutional oppression and marginalization. It’s the same line of warped reasoning that Francis Galton used to promote eugenics.

The funniest part of this clown’s ten-page tirade is that he feels that conservatives are being alienated and that, “(they) feel like they need to stay in the closet to avoid open hostility.” Well, that’s definitely an interesting choice of words considering how most conservatives feel about staying in the closet! Frankly, this asshole obviously hasn’t paid attention to any of the things that conservatives have tried to do that harm women. Things like blocking measures to eliminate the gender pay gap, restricting abortion rights, limiting access to women’s healthcare for the poor, and fighting against childcare subsidies. In fact, I’ll bet his conservative take on sexual assault probably can be distilled into, “that wouldn’t have happened if you hadn’t been drinking and wearing that mini-skirt.”

Our white-privileged male genius goes on to say, “Alienating conservatives is both non-inclusive and generally bad business because conservatives tend to be higher in conscientiousness, which is require for much of the drudgery and maintenance work characteristic of a mature company.” First, I’m gonna have to really question this statement about conscientiousness because his grammar sucks. Second, maybe people who feel that women and minorities are second-class citizens ought to feel a bit alienated. Perhaps, they should spend that time, whilst alienated, to reflect on their worldview that normalizes prejudice, bigotry, and oppression. Perhaps, forget about reaching a higher level of conscientiousness and, instead, work toward attaining a higher level of conscience.

This is just one more example of how rampant sexism is alive and well in Silicon Valley. The sad part is that it’s going to get worse before it gets better under the knuckle-dragging leadership of our Pussy Grabber-In-Chief and “no one loves the women like me” President Donald Trump.

So, we’re real sorry that this white guy at Google is feeling so oppressed because of diversity. We’re all broken up about how he feels attacked when he voices his racist and misogynistic views. In fact, the tears are flooding out as we try to feel his pain. Oh, wait, he said don’t do that because he also wrote in his brilliant manifesto that, “I’ve heard several calls for increased empathy on diversity issues. While I strongly support trying to understand how and why people think the way they do, relying on affective empathy—feeling another’s pain—causes us to focus on anecdotes, favor individuals similar to us, and harbor other irrational and dangerous biases. Being emotionally unengaged helps us better reason about the facts.”

Seriously? Well, let’s see if we can parse some of these “facts” in an “emotionally unengaged” way…

Like the fact that you’re an entitled asshole that feels threatened by high-achieving women in your workplace even though you make more doing the same job? Like the fact that you’re all upset because you feel excluded from programs designed specifically for women and think it’s some sort of reverse discrimination? Like the fact that you think trying to put diversity into a cost/benefit model will make people think you’re less prejudiced or misogynistic?

Oy vey! Look, Mr. Faux Victim of Diversity, women have every right to be software engineers at Google and get the same pay for the same job. Also, if Google wants to promote diversity in the workplace because it’s the right thing to do, you have every right to whine, but you may want to do a little introspection regarding your own masculine insecurities.

In the future, don’t waste our valuable time trying to rationalize your misogyny and prejudices. Maybe, if you’d spend more time actually focused on your job instead of writing stupid, poorly written manifestos, they just might have promoted you instead of the woman in the cubicle next door.

Civil asset forfeiture is just legal theft

Clete Wetli, Contributor

Although most everyone in America agrees that the War on Drugs has been a tragic failure, Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to reinvigorate every aspect of it including the much derided D.A.R.E. program and, most alarming, the expansion of civil asset forfeiture by police.  For those unfamiliar with civil asset forfeiture, it’s the ability of law enforcement to confiscate money or property they believe was obtained through criminal means even if the suspect has not been charged or found guilty of a crime.

Essentially, the police claim is against the money or property itself and not against the criminal suspect, which means that for a person to retrieve their money or property they must prove that these things were acquired legally. Well, so much for “innocent until proven guilty”!

Over the last several years, there has been bipartisan support to curtail civil asset forfeiture because studies have shown that it is abused regularly by law enforcement and because of cases that have gained notoriety showing just how difficult and expensive it is for innocent people to recover their money or property.

In some states, like Alabama, the only thing law enforcement needs to confiscate assets is to meet the legal low bar of “probable cause”. Worse, law enforcement agencies are incentivized to engage in these forfeitures because they get to keep the lion’s share of the money. In most cases, the forfeitures are never challenged due to the significant expenses involved, the substantial burden of proof on the plaintiff, and the time it takes to have the case heard in court.

This whole misguided idea was part of the War on Drugs’ strategy to penalize suspected drug dealers by having a legal mechanism to seize their ill-gotten gains. But, like so many aspects of the Drug War, it was an assault on constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties. Things like no-knock warrants, racial profiling, excessive sentencing, and legally ambiguous entrapment and surveillance.

After spending mountains of money on the War on Drugs, America finally realized that the only thing they had to show for their effort was a prison system bursting at the seams and a law enforcement community that looked like military Stormtroopers that increasingly shoot first and asked questions later. During the Obama years, there became bipartisan support to spend more resources on drug treatment instead of mass incarceration. Also, many of the laws that were passed during the War on Drugs were repealed, softened, or dramatically changed to ensure fairness in the judicial process.

All of this long overdue progress came to a screeching halt when Trump picked Jeff Sessions as his Attorney General. Much like the advocates of abstinence-only sex education, Sessions doesn’t rely on evidence-based practices or analytical studies for his policy agenda, instead he relies almost exclusively on his archaic instincts and prejudices. Further, Sessions hasn’t the least bit of compassion and views the criminal justice system as a mechanism to deliver only the harshest punishments.

So, it’s not a surprise that Sessions would attempt to reverse the tidal wave of restrictions that are being placed on civil asset forfeiture in most states. Who knows, maybe he’ll be advocating tar and feathering next.

It’s time that we put some common sense into our nation’s struggle with substance abuse. It’s time that we start holding police accountable for their misdeeds when they occur. As a nation, we cannot afford to revive the epic failures of the War on Drugs. A good place to start would be to eliminate civil asset forfeiture altogether and only seize assets in the case of criminal convictions. Isn’t that what the Constitution was referring to in the first place?

Right now, civil asset forfeiture is nothing more than government sponsored theft regardless of its intention. Yeah, we remember the name of the road that’s paved with those intentions, don’t we?