Monday, November 28, 2016

Audit The Vote

Three Wisconsin counties reported more votes cast for president than ballots received.

Anyone, including Fearless Leader, who claims that is not cause for concern is out of his or her GODDAMNED MIND.

Donate to support #AuditTheVote here.

A Gallery of Photos Trump Doesn't Want The News Media to Use

It is my pleasure and honor to curate these special portraits of Fearless Leader. He has apparently threatened journalists who circulate them.

Please email additional public domain images that fall into this category to me so we can create an authoritative archive. Thanks.

Friday, November 25, 2016

DEADLINE: Donate TODAY to Audit the 2016 Vote



Ukraine's voting machines WERE hacked by Russian agents, changing the result of elections. NOTICING THIS MAKES YOU A PATRIOT.

If we find no evidence of undue influence -- fine, at least we conducted due diligence. But there are serious questions from qualified computer science experts that need addressing. Now.

Just to be clear: if you oppose #AuditTheVote, what you're saying is: "I'd rather not know whether Russia hacked US votes." 

Friday, November 18, 2016

No Direction Home

Several prominent figures, including the comedian and talk show host Stephen Colbert, have, with what I am sure is good intent, gently ridiculed those American citizens who have chosen to remain outside the borders of the United States following the 2016 presidential election. As one of those citizens, I want to offer a respectful dissenting voice.

Shortly after the election, Colbert compared staying in the US following the Republican victory to enduring a Thanksgiving dinner with a racist relative in the habit of making offensive remarks when drunk. It was a funny bit, one that made an effective appeal to a favorite progressive  theme: America as family. But Colbert’s routine was a joke, not a decision, and decisions are now what matters. Each of us has to make our own.

I am a Muslim born in the United States. I voted for Clinton. I know my side lost. I also know what that means: We have just elected a fascist Islamophobe with a habit of inciting violence to the highest office in the land.

That fascist Islamophobe has installed another Islamophobe, Stephen Bannon, one of the nation’s leading white supremacists, as his chief strategic advisor, and he has chosen yet another notorious Islamophobe, Michael T. Flynn, as his senior national security advisor.

With these two early choices, the president-elect has eviscerated any remaining hope that he was merely an ambitious, loudmouthed pragmatist whose actions would, unlike his campaign rhetoric, somehow manage to coexist with twenty-first century democratic values. He has forced us all to confront a painful reality: The president-elect is a threat to the Republic.

Complacency in the face of such a threat is, I believe, immoral. It is now time for massive, peaceful organized resistance, within legal boundaries, on a scale no one has yet seen or imagined, using tools no one has yet used. One valid expression of that resistance, and something new to American political history, I think, is the formation of a peaceful, effective, articulate expat opposition community in support of democratic values, which I now invite Muslims and non-Muslims alike to join.

You know what kind of community I mean. I'm talking about that wave of eloquent expat dissenters all the very best tyrants (Stalin, Khomeini, Mugabe, etc.) get. And, I suppose, target. The time has come for us to create such a forum for these dissenters and to share their voices.

That is an appropriate and, I believe, necessary sign to send the nation and the world of how serious things have become.

It is not the only appropriate sign, of course, but it is one we should not apologize for sending. Taking a seat at the Thanksgiving table is, for some of us, no longer healthy or safe. We need to notice: That drunken uncle now has a shotgun on his lap.

Colbert's family metaphor is apt, but it is under-explored. Sometimes families are dysfunctional. Sometimes there are abusers. And when there are, you don't have to stay.

I don't know when I'm going back to the States. But I'm glad I'm in Ireland now. The home I used to have has changed beyond recognition.

Eight years ago, I began work on JIHADI: A LOVE STORY, a novel about, among other things, an Islamophobe with outsized political ambitions -- and an extremist “caliphate” movement in the Middle East that appears to materialize out of thin air. Both of those notions were sheer fiction when I began working on the book in 2008. They are chilling reality now. I sometimes feel as though I have somehow managed, without meaning to, to summon up something evil, by daring life to imitate art. Please accept my apology for that dare.

Following the presidential election, hate crimes are up sharply. That is no surprise. I suspect hate crimes will continue to rise as unrepentant bigots congregate ever more openly in whiter and whiter, larger and larger mainstream gatherings. In recent weeks, the safety pin has become a symbol of support to all those threatened by racists taking their cue from the man we just elected president.

I write to America now from Ireland to suggest that the nation as a whole deserves that support ... the notion of American diversity deserves that support ... and that some of us are indeed justified in choosing to offer it from abroad. Notice that we do. Notice that this is not normal. Notice that normalizing racism is not acceptable. Notice that absence, coupled with effective advocacy, is protest, too.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of Anti-Defamation League, Pushes Back on American Fascism

Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, said that a registry for Muslims would almost certainly be unconstitutional. “The day they create a Muslim registry is the day I register as a Muslim,” he added.

(From the Washington Post.)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A few thoughts on SETTLED HISTORY with NO BEARING on current events

Looks like Hitler didn't MEAN anything he said in order to gain power, according to this contemporary New York Times article.

I guess he must have been a harmless loudmouth who made a successful adjustment to a leadership role.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Notes from a Republic In Exile

Thoughts from Ireland, at the moment a saner, safer nation than my own, and a haven for which I am grateful to God:

The prevailing post-election wisdom from various beloved tribal elders is that Americans should now find a way to unite behind Feckface Von Clownstick. Respect him. Praise him. Follow him. I am sorry. No matter how many times I hear that kind of speech, no matter how earnestly it is delivered, I still feel this wave of visceral disgust rising from the pit of my stomach.

After what has gone down, he has to earn that respect. He does not get it automatically.

To the extent that HE respects democratic values, human rights, the principle of equality, and the norms of civilized behavior, I will RETURN respect.

In the event that he doesn't, this particular presidency may consider itself on time out. And I curate the official archives of the League of Intrepid Readers as a proud member of the Diaspora.

Protect the Future: Abolish the Electoral College

Yes. It's over. Those of us who voted to support values of tolerance and inclusion in 2016 lost. We are entitled to our grief and our anger about that. But now that we are on Day Two of whatever new era this is going to be, let's channel that grief and anger into something constructive that will protect people. Let's notice that the reason we lost was that the rules under which we were operating are antiquated and unworkable.

Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the election. That fact needs discussion.

Despite this election result, we are not an ugly country. We are not a country devoted to oppressing minorities. The US election system, with its disaster-prone Electoral College, has simply failed us. It has done that by electing a president who did not receive the most popular votes five times out of a possible forty-five, and twice in the last sixteen years. That is too high a failure rate for a modern democracy.

We need to update the Constitution.

Sign this petition as a first step.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

If You Are an American ...

 "If you are an American, you must allow all ideas to circulate freely in your community, not merely your own." -- Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

My Pet Peeve: Adverbs

My pet writing peeve is my own dangerous propensity to rely on cheap adverbs, which I consider the linguistic equivalent of junk food.

It happens, from time to time, that I find myself tempted to stick cheap adverbs into my fiction. When that temptation arises, I remind myself of Stephen King's admonition to avoid them. Here is the relevant quote from ON WRITING, a marvelous hybrid of memoir and how-to book, and one of my favorite nonfiction books of all time:

“I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops. To put it another way, they're like dandelions. If you have one on your lawn, it looks pretty and unique. If you fail to root it out, however, you find five the next day... fifty the day after that... and then, my brothers and sisters, your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions. By then you see them for the weeds they really are, but by then it's—GASP!!—too late.”

Now, Mr. King is an authority I respect, and I hope you will hear him out on this. Of course, I would understand if you preferred not to be lectured about such things. Lectures are no fun, and the older I get, the deeper my own skepticism becomes about hard-and-fast writing "rules." In this case, though, I have to note that King is not promulgating such a rule, but rather stating a useful principle that can guide writers in making good decisions.

Notice that he's not saying one should never use adverbs. (Indeed, he uses three of them in this paragraph, and to good effect.) He's saying we should avoid them, and, by inference, I hear him asking us to make sure they are essential if we do choose to use them.

I find my prose tends to be strong, disciplined, and specific when it avoids adverbs. Showing, dramatizing, embodying the action in question tends to deliver better results than me telling people how I, the writer, think the action is unfolding. For instance: "Your lawn is teeming with dandelions" seems preferable to me to "Your lawn is totally, completely, and profligately covered with dandelions." Take out any two of King's silly adverbs, and mine will still work better. Yes, "better," which I just used, is an adverb. Note that it's the only way to get the idea across. It's not a cheap, pointless, easy-to-work-around-with-a-basic-rewrite adverb, like "totally."

The urge to use cheap adverbs can feel overpowering. I don't know why. If I fight the urge off, though, and find another way to express the idea, the sentence improves.

There are any number of adverbs to be found in Mr. King's fiction, even in books that he completed after ON WRITING. And there are plenty of great writers I admire who rely on adverbs more than King does. (Dickens and Rowling come to mind.) But for me, the operating principle Stephen King proposes remains a sound one. When in doubt, rip that dandelion out of the soil .... or don't plant it in the first place ... so something better can grow. If you do decide to leave one growing in your lawn, make sure you know why you made that decision.

Some people like dandelions, of course, and I realize it's impossible to get rid of all of them. Not even Stephen King can manage that. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't make the effort. Anyway, I like the way the lawn looks when I do.

This is part of a blog hop about writing peeves. My dear friend Richard Gibney tagged me.

Thank you, Rich. He was tagged by Larysia Woropay.

I hereby tag for this blog hop Rich's friend Carissa Ann Lynch, who is the author of the Flocksdale Files trilogy, Horror High series, Grayson’s Ridge, This Is Not About Love, 13: An Anthology of Horror and Dark Fiction, and Dark Legends: A Collection of 20 Paranormal and Urban Fantasy Novels. She resides in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with her husband and three children. Besides her family, her greatest love in life is books.

I was supposed to tag a second person for this blog hop, but I wimped out. So I tag myself again. Watch this space for another pet peeve of mine: writers who wimp out when it comes to tagging other writers for blog hops.