Major rally at Texas Capitol to stop anti-trans SB6

By Jonathan Riley, 3/8/2017

The Texas State Legislature is pushing through the most oppressive "bathroom bill" of any state so far. LGBTQ+ activists and allies rallied on the steps of the Capitol to stop it. I went to take pictures and video to amplify their protest on social media.

(Click "Read More" to see all the pics and video)

One Missile Strike Does Not a Syria Strategy Make

By Jonathan Riley, 3/6/2017

I am not going to rush to oppose this latest US missile strike on a Syrian airbase just because Donald Trump is President. There had to be a response to Bashar al-Assad's horrendous chemical weapon attack on his own civilians, and this strike seems like literally the least we could do to punish Assad besides nothing. Frankly, I am relieved the Administration is taking this seriously at all and not claiming the sarin gas attack was "fake news" (that's what Russia and many alt-right conservatives in the US are saying.)

For now, I support this missile strike. This will not bring the war in Syria to a close. This will not turn the tide against Assad. But if this action helps deter further use of chemical weapons in Syria it will have been worth it.

Nevertheless, many questions still remain:

1) Will the Trump Administration stop appeasing Putin who supports Assad and allowed this war crime in the first place?

2) I'm glad images of children dying of sarin gas poisoning moved Trump to act, but will it move him to throw out his cruel refugee ban and grant those children asylum?

3) Is this missile strike part of any kind of a larger strategy in Syria? Or was that it?

We have seen that Trump’s idea of an economic plan is to take credit for a single factory remaining in the United States. Is his idea of a grand strategy in Syria a single missile strike? This military action is easy to understand and simple enough to explain in 140 characters. But today the task of the President of the United States of America is not to win one news cycle, but to stop a genocide. History will judge Trump’s response to the humanitarian disaster in Syria not by what he did today, but by what he does next.

Trump Caught in Contradictory Lies on Russia

By Jonathan Riley, 2/16/2017

The Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek points out that sometimes the more justifications you provide for your actions, the more it seems you are hiding something. He uses the metaphor of the borrowed kettle. [1]

Imagine I borrow a kettle from you and when I return it, the kettle is broken. I argue I shouldn’t have to buy you a new one for three reasons:

  1. The kettle isn’t broken — it works just fine!
  2. That stinking kettle was broken before you lent it to me!
  3. Kettle? What kettle? I never borrowed any kettle!

While each of these reasons might be persuasive on their own, the more reasons I offer the more obvious it becomes that not all of them can be true, and so probably none of them are true. Looks like I owe you a new kettle.

This is the situation Donald Trump has gotten himself into with this Michael Flynn scandal. The more defenses he offers, the more he contradicts himself, and the more it looks like this potentially treasonous collusion with Russia goes right to the top.

Unity. What does it look like?

By Priscilla Wagner, 2/7/2017

Some of us may be happy, disappointed, or somewhere in between with the state of our current political situation. No matter where you are, one thing I truly hope that comes out of the next two years is that I see more people getting & staying involved with government. Run for office! Get involved with your community! School board! Committees! Subcommittees! Make calls! Write letters!

It is absolutely CLEAR that we cannot continue to only show up one day every two years. I truly, TRULY believe that we are all more alike than we all think. We all want the same basic things; however, may have different ways and ideas on how to get there. I find that more and more we bind ourselves to particular elected officials who will fight for us on our handful of personally important issues, but then these elected officials we get behind make us believe we are so much different than we actually are.

Obstruct Like A Republican

By Jonathan Riley, 2/4/2017

Thousands of protesters surround Chuck Schumer’s house day and night with signs that say “Chuck’s a chicken,” “Get a spine, Chuck,” and “Obstruct like a Republican.” These protesters demand the minority leader use the filibuster to block the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. 

Why wouldn’t he block Trump’s nominee, you may ask? After all, Chuck Schumer opposes the judicial philosophy of Gorsuch, which is said to be a carbon copy of the late Antonin Scalia’s, as much as anyone.

The argument against using the filibuster goes like this: if Democrats filibuster Gorsuch, Republicans will use their power as the Senate majority to change the rules to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees and then put Gorsuch on the Court anyway. It would be preferable, the argument goes, to preserve the filibuster for the next time Trump is given the opportunity to put someone on the bench. After all, Gorsuch would be a conservative replacing a conservative (Scalia), but next time we may be talking about Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s seat. Better to have all the tools of obstruction at the Democrats disposal at that point, when the balance of the court may actually shift rightward.

The obvious problem with this argument is that if Republicans would be willing to eliminate the filibuster now they would be just as willing to eliminate the filibuster later. This tool is not worth fighting to preserve if it will be thrown out the moment it is used.

The important thing is that Democrats take back the Senate, and to do that they must prove to their base — those protesters outside of Chuck Schumer’s house — that they are willing to go to the mat to fight for them. Preserving the filibuster for Supreme Court appointments is already a lost cause. Prove to those who are willing to turn out to protest that if they turn out to vote in the midterms it will make a difference if more Democrats are elected.

Get a spine, Chuck. Obstruct like a Republican.