Excuse Me, Your Fly is Open

Fresh  off the dirty laundry pile!

Fresh off the dirty laundry pile!

I haven’t wanted to talk much about Trump and the upcoming election here on Mrs Fringe.  Why feed the fire and all that.  Or not, maybe if I’m honest, it’s because I was hoping to cling to my default defensive position of burying my head in the sand, thereby pretending he’ll go away.  Surely Americans will come to their senses long before an election?  Surely his blatant lies, manipulations, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and generally abysmal record as a human being will send him straight to the peanut gallery.  Apparently not, heh.  And let’s face it, you don’t come to Mrs Fringe for political analysis.  I’m not that objective.  I’m not that good with the straight facts and figures.  As I’ve said before, I’m not that smart.  If you want a blog with reasoned analysis, I recommend this guy, Benjamin Studebaker.    (I know, not completely objective, but smart, backs everything up with facts, and straightforward.)

I’m still not ready to talk big picture, address my fears re who the GOP has put forth as viable candidates overall, but.  Today I’ll talk about Donald Trump.  First, a bit of background on me.  When I was younger, I worked in social services.  My very first job in the field was with a camp that served autistic, psychotic, and what was then termed “emotionally disturbed” youth.  (I don’t know why kiddos with autism were in that grouping, it was a long time ago, autism was even less understood, and it was considered rare–well before the epidemic it is today.)  In retrospect, it was a dumping ground for kids no one knew what to do with.  I know of three who were institutionalized not long after, but I’d guess that’s what happened with the majority of them.

One of the campers was a teen I’ll call Joey.  I don’t remember exactly how old Joey was–he wasn’t in my group– somewhere in his upper teens, already looked like a grown man, with limited verbal/comprehension skills complicated by English being his second language.  Joey had an obsession with his penis.  Every time he wasn’t actively engaged in something else (and often when he was), his fly was down, schlong out, and masturbating intensely, while shouting his catchphrase.  Between his catchphrase and obsession, I’m guessing there had been a serious injury and/or abuse in his past.  Obviously, for all the reasons, we couldn’t allow Joey to walk around masturbating all day (not least of which the injury he was causing himself with such frenzy).   So in addition to songs, chants, directions and redirections, hoots and echolalia, the command of “Joey, put that thing away!”  was a constant refrain.   We shared the campgrounds with other camps, and the other camp directors and counselors were forever threatening to get us kicked out if Joey continued whipping it out.  We smiled, nodded, made the right noises and then turned away rolling our eyes.

At the time Joey was considered harmless.  The majority of these kids, and the adults I ended up working with, were “harmless.”  I was passionate in my defense of these children, wished with all my heart I could protect them all, always.  When one of the kiddos broke my nose that summer, I argued on his behalf when the director kicked him out of the camp without a chance for me to meet with him and let him know I was ok.  I was so angry, so indignant I wanted to quit.  It hadn’t been an appropriate setting for him.  I didn’t quit because I also met my first autistic kiddo there.   I was idealistic, young enough and brash enough to romanticize what I was doing, but I was good at what I did.  The child with autism?  I was over the moon excited when I was able to get him to play one round of duck-duck-goose after weeks of trying.  I called his mother.  When she understood who was calling and why, she called to her husband, “Magic Fringe is on the phone.”  That’s what they called me, and thinking about it still warms the cockles of my heart.  There’s no magic, though.

Non violent, these children and the adults they become are a million times more likely to be the victims of predators than predatory themselves.  I just made up that “statistic,” but the intent behind it was a fact then and a fact now.  But the majority doesn’t mean all.  I did work with some people who were violent, on occasion a danger to others as well as themselves.  And as I grew more experienced, and now as I’ve gotten older, I see the nuances I didn’t see then.  It’s still heartbreaking, but not quite harmless to have a young man walking around hooting, yelling, and masturbating in public.  The potential for danger; the potential for violence caused to him, by him, or to those just too close to get out of the way was real.

When Donald Trump hoots about immigrants, about building a wall between Mexico and the US, when he calls women “bimbos,” when he trumpets that sexual assault in the military is to be expected, when he calls a woman “disgusting” for needing to take a break to pump breast milk, when he says he would eliminate gun free zones in military bases and schools, when he says the answer to our broken mental health system is to find a way to arm more of the “good guys” to take out the “sickos,” when he calls for banning Muslim immigrants from entering the US, when he brays about plans to bomb the shit out of Isis (does he know Isis isn’t a country?), when he shouts that he will force Nabisco to produce Oreos in the US, Apple to produce their products here–while at the same time his clothing line is manufactured in Mexico and China…I could go on and on.  The point is, when he spouts this nonsense, he’s whipping it out.

He has no filter.  He isn’t honest.  There’s a difference.  With all the lies he vomits, it’s shocking to me that anyone, anywhere, perceives him as anything other than a dishonest buffoon.  I’m also shocked when people talk about him as a businessman, how good that would be for America.  Umm, America isn’t a business.  It’s a country, made up of individual citizens, with varying needs and vulnerabilities.  Trump is indeed a good businessman, if good here is defined by  selfishness and the amount of money accrued.  He’s so good, he was able to declare bankruptcy multiple times–wipe his debts clean at the expense of thousands of jobs–and still make money.  He’s so shrewd, he’s got people supporting him who represent those he screwed with each and every bankruptcy.  By the way, that whole idea of businessman as politician?  We did that here in New York City, with Bloomberg.  He fired those who disagreed with him (oh, those pesky checks and balances) and when his term was up, he changed the term limit laws so he could stay.  Get ready to hand Trump a crown and scepter.  You may or may not want someone you consider a “bleeding heart” at the helm of this country, but do you want someone who is actually morally bankrupt?

The very same things that make me unqualified to be a political pundit–lack of filter, lack of understanding of the nuances in policies, inability to grasp the ramifications of decisions made today for 30 years from now (it’s true, I’m a lousy chess player), selfishness and general hotheadedness–are what make Trump unqualified to lead this country.

When people cheer him on, use him as validation to let their inner racist come out, their not so underlying faith that women are less-than, their complacence with ignorance of how the world works, when they vote for him–they aren’t just turning away from nuance and rolling their eyes, they’re handing him lube and inciting potentially dangerous situations.

Put that thing away, Mr. Trump.

She Said What?!

Angry-man-rights illustration

Angry-man-rights illustration (Photo credit: HikingArtist.com)

Can we talk about the human side of this election?  Yanno, the post-voting fallout?

I’m stunned by the numbers of people posting complete vitriol–from both sides. On my personal Facebook page it’s been limited, but frankly I think that has more to do with having a small circle of friends than anything else.  Even within that small circle, I’ve seen plenty of people unFriending each other.  Is the shrinking middle class being reflected in shrinking moderation in all areas?

If you’re new to Fringeland, let me tell you now, I’m broke and lean left. If you’re already offended, this blog isn’t for you.

I have friends on both sides, listen to opinions on both sides, see the same facts and figures get skewed by both sides. To me the choice, if not all of the issues, was clear. For all of my reading and listening, I don’t really understand how some of my  friends have the beliefs they do. Some, I think I get it even if I disagree, based on clues and things I know are true in their lives.

My Foot is Slipping

My Foot is Slipping (Photo credit: Old Shoe Woman)

Others, I don’t get it at all. It seems to me they’re fighting against their own interests, one foot in the same muck mine is in and the other heel grinding into the dirt to be buried alongside the first one.

But here’s the thing. I know they’re looking, listening/reading, and thinking the same about me. They believe our country, our values, and our basic rights are slipping away under Obama.  And no, I’m not talking about any of the hateful, ignorant worms we’ve all seen photos of and quotes from online– you know the ones, those who proudly held up signs saying “Bring the White Back into the White House,” or any of their despicable cohorts.

I’m talking about people who aren’t in the 1%, people who are intelligent, reasonably well read, often highly educated. Maybe they have children they’d like to send to college, maybe they have children with significant chronic medical needs, maybe they work union jobs, maybe they’re on disability, or collecting unemployment benefits, maybe they’re women, maybe they’re people of color, maybe they consider themselves caring and moral people (with or without religion), maybe they’re gay, maybe they’re counting on help from FEMA, or the Federal government to rebuild the infrastructure of their community in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

In my opinion, these are all people who have the potential to benefit more from Obama than they would have under Romney.  Some of them disagree. Fine. I accept that, I was raised with and am quite comfortable with our two party system. Frankly, I’d like to see some teeth from one or two of the smaller alternative parties in addition, to keep people thinking and evolving along with the world.  I don’t have enough hubris to write all of these people off, blanketing myself in the assumption that they’re all either dim, heartless, or evil.

Some people ranting, roaring, and picketing is good.  We need people with that level of passion to get everyone else paying attention. I admire those who fully devote themselves to the causes they believe in, and I thank them for putting their time and energy into these causes, caring enough to keep up the work and attention when elections end, and others might think there’s no more work to be done.

I rarely, rarely see honest, potentially helpful political discourse. The closest is Real Time with Bill Maher, which I’m sure will have 2 of my 3 readers screaming at the computer screen when they read this. The third will wail that I’m rolling over and giving in, not passionate enough.

But. When did it turn into everyone screaming?  If everyone is screaming, no one is listening.  I see rants, misleading partial quotes, and a whole lotta lalalala.

Franz von Stuck: Dissonanz Heliogravur von Han...

Franz von Stuck: Dissonanz Heliogravur von Hanfstaengl. Plattengröße 53 x 46,5 cm, (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I grew up in a home where there was a lot of political arguing. My father would rant, calling my brother a fascist and my brother would bellow back, calling my father a communist.  I would go hide in my room, wishing they would both shut the fuck up. The past year has felt like old home week. Except I’m not hiding in my room and don’t want everyone to shut up. I care very deeply about my life, your life, and the world my children are going to live in. Just lower your voices so I can hear your words, and the intention behind them.