Top of the Ticket

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-20-04-04

Clipped from the SAMPLE ballot in my home jurisdiction of Santa Clara County, Calif.

My choices in this state for the next President of these United States on Nov. 8 (or before, if I choose to vote early):

Gloria La Riva, Peace and Freedom Party – This party is farther to the left than the solidly progressive Green Party. La Riva makes Jill Stein look like Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump, GOP – [sigh] Where do I start? You know what, I won’t. Next ticket…

Gary Johnson, Libertarian Party – While Johnson has the right idea on some issues, he has some misguided views or has waffled on others. If Bill Weld was at the top of this ticket, I would have given this team greater consideration.

Jill Stein, Green Party – I was for her, albeit reluctantly, as she is closer to being a progressive as Bernie Sanders than Hillary. While I uneasily put up with Dr. Stein’s reluctance to fully denounce people who are against mandatory vaccinations and her openness to clinging to certain nutty conspiracy theories on a variety of issues, there came a point where I could no longer reasonably support her.

Hillary Clinton, Democratic Party – She’s always been a strong, well-qualified candidate. My interest in her declined upon Sanders’ entry into the race and after learning about her insufficiently progressive credentials. My distaste for her became even more pronounced when the Democratic National Committee, in those leaked emails from Wikileaks, revealed how the party establishment was unsurprisingly in the tank for Clinton while trying to undermine the Vermont senator. I don’t care that much about the emails, Benghazi and a bunch of other issues surrounding her like the Right does. Some of them are problems in their own ways but she has settled those issues in various ways. Still, I’m unsure about throwing my support around her just yet.

______________ (write-in candidate) – The California Secretary of State says I have these five options for this line. It’s good to see Bernie as a legitimate choice although it was not organized by the senator himself. Even if I did write in Bernie, he has virtually no chance of winning. In the off-chance he did win this and enough of other states to receive at least 270 electoral votes, there’s no guarantee he will even accept the offer to serve as the 45th President of these United States.

I didn’t struggle this much with the down-ballot races and propositions. Never have I struggled much about voting for anyone of any level since I began voting in 2008. You can easily deduct who I might gravitate toward at the top of the ticket but even I’m still not sure if it is a done deal just yet. I also know there are at least two candidates I definitely will not be voting for. I know, I live in a solid blue state so it doesn’t matter what I think.

I’ll be glad when it’s finally Nov. 9.

On This Sunday: It’s No Joke

Of all the horrible things the bigoted orange twine ball that is Donald Trump has said and done, his long-documented mistreatment of women has drawn the greatest deal of attention as of late.

We all know by now Trump’s penchant for publicly talking about his supposed sexual conquests, demeaning women for being too old or too fat, how he wants to bang his own daughter Ivanka among a whole host of horrendous things he’s been known to say. Within the last week, several women have come forward to allege that Trump has sexually assaulted them in the past. I have no reason not to believe these women, as with most people who have experienced something as horrific as this by anyone else.

Sexual assault is a serious matter that sometimes takes having to know someone who has experienced such a thing to truly understand its impact. It’s also through different yet fundamentally similar life events that help to tangentially apply one’s understanding of sexual assaults in general.

Within the last few months, two female friends of mine directly told me they have been sexually assaulted in their lives — both instances marking the first time anyone has ever told me such a thing. One told me she was once date-raped while the other was not specific about what happened but I was able to easily deduct it was something terribly bad. I suspect there are many more women in my life — friends, former colleagues and maybe even relatives — that also have stories like this but I have either yet to know or will never know. Although difficult in nature, I hope to have more private conversations like this from people who are willing to share their own experiences so that I can better empathize with them, cope with them and heal with them. It truly makes a difference.

I never experienced sexual assault myself although growing up, I have been abused in other ways to understand the trauma and horror that victims undergo. They all share common traits — a seemingly powerful person taking advantage of someone seemingly indefensible.

Such was the case when I grew up as a child, living with a physically-abusive father. It was horrible at each turn — the fear, the pain, the trauma, the feelings of defenselessness. I finally escaped all that when I entered foster care at age 13, although one of my subsequent foster parents engaged in psychological abuse with the same effects as what I went through with my father. It was under their care I once attempted to commit suicide. Bottom line, my father and that particular foster parents can rot in hell. I wish the same or for some kind of justice for those who engage in sexual assaults. There is no rhyme or reason for any of this type of behavior.

Oh, and screw Trump. Anyone but him on Nov. 8.

On This Sunday: 15 years ago

Everyone is often asked where they were and what they were doing at the moment when they heard about several hijacked commercial airliners crashing into the World Trade Center towers in New York, the Pentagon and a field in western Pennsylvania on this day in 2001. My story is about as unremarkable as anyone else’s but it is worth sharing in this space or in any online platform for the first time.

On Sept. 11, 2001, I was 12 years old and just started 7th grade at John Burroughs Middle School in Los Angeles. At the time, I was living with my biological father in the Koreatown neighborhood of the city. It was during the 6 a.m. PT hour when I was awoken to audio from our television set in another room. It was morning and tuning in to local news seemed like a customary thing to do. When I came over to see what was on the television, it was bad. It wasn’t like a live aerial footage of a traffic accident on one of L.A.’s many freeways tying up traffic somewhere or a wildfire breaking out in the hills. By the time I saw what was on the television set, one or both of the hijacked airliners crashed into the Twin Towers. Being more than 2,000 miles away from where this and the attacks in Pennsylvania and the Pentagon happened, I saw no reason to feel scared about what was going on and neither did most around me in this West Coast city where I grew up.

I went to school shortly after. Coincidentally, the Los Angeles Unified School District scheduled in advance that very day to be a half-day for students at JB — what students often referred to the school. There were certainly discussions among the students, faculty and staff about the events that occurred earlier that morning on the East Coast although nothing else seemed out of the ordinary about the day. No stepped up security or anything. All the students including myself were still trying to process what was going on while being somewhat gleeful over the fact it was a half-day anyway.

Using my LACMTA student transit pass, I took some buses around the city to see how this second-largest city in the nation was responding to the morning’s terrorist attacks on the other side of the country. At least from my own recollection, the Starbucks near my school closed its doors for the rest of the day. The Metro Red Line subway service was shut down and stations shuttered (I specifically remember going to the Wilshire / Vermont station where the gates draped over the portal to the station).

Later that day, I came back home to watch more of the television news coverage. All the major broadcast stations were still on this story — reporters and anchors from their network news divisions helming the nonstop coverage with occasional local news cut-ins to update viewers on local responses and reactions to the terrorist attacks. Even a local broadcast affiliate of the Home Shopping Network at the time (now a Spanish-language network affiliate), which normally didn’t air any news or local programming, was feeding in live rolling coverage from either CNN or ABC News. Then-President George W. Bush gave a televised address to the nation that night, vowing to hunt down and bring to justice the individuals responsible for the attacks.

For that day, that’s all I could recount. Again, nothing remarkable.

Nine years later on Oct. 18, 2010, I would find myself visiting the first of the two 9/11 memorial sites on the East Coast. While on a trip to Washington, D.C. for a PRSSA Conference, I took the Washington Metrorail with some friends to the Pentagon. While we didn’t go in the facility, we visited a public space outside of the Pentagon that included a memorial for the victims killed at that site.

Two years later on Sept. 29, 2012, I visited the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York. I also captured a shot of the One World Trade Center tower, which was still under construction at the time.

On this day back in 2001, after the nation realized what just happened and began to process it all, I still didn’t know what to make of the morning’s events. I also never expected that years later, I would find myself visiting two of the three sites that collectively came to symbolize the worst moment in our nation’s history. Having visited the memorials at the Pentagon and World Trade Center, it puts a lot into perspective. Being at those sites in person to observe what these places look like, what they feel like and picturing the sheer loss of life that had taken place years before, I felt that I finally understood the true impact 9/11 has had on the country as a whole. Even though I didn’t know anyone that died in these attacks, I can better empathize with the families and friends of the victims who did.

These visits in 2010 and 2012 aren’t anything remarkable either. It’s also just like any other story you might hear from anyone else. However, the main takeaway is that I finally can make something of all this — 15 years to the day since I began to process what just happened.

Winners and Losers: It’s Not a Normal Year

It’s been about two years since my last edition of Winners and Losers. Had to bring it back as so much has gone on in the world since my last edition. As always, I’ll be highlighting people who deserve our deepest respect as well as those who should be called out somehow.

Winners

Team U.S.A. – I did not watch the Rio Olympics, which continues my long-standing happenstance tradition of not watching the Olympics. However, the U.S. Olympics team often leads the world in the medal count including gold medals in these games. If those athletes were able to deal with competing in a country dealing with rampant political and socioeconomic turmoil as well as one of their own ruining some of the glory for the rest of our home team, I say they deserve all the credits and sponsorships they can possibly get. Except Ryan Lochte. The man is a douche.

Ellie Goulding – Only because I’ve become a big fan of her music for a full year now. I went to her concert in April at the SAP Center in San Jose and I still listen to her songs on Spotify. I just wanted to throw this in here to vainly make that point clear.

The mother and daughter at this Bernie Sanders rally I attended in Oakland on Memorial Day

Losers

Roger Ailes and Bill Cosby – These men both established themselves as monumental figures in news and entertainment, respectively. Their fame, wealth and power allowed them to allegedly mistreat women in such unspeakable ways that, at the end, we see them both in a much different light.

Before their misdeeds became public, I always thought Bill Cosby was generally an okay actor and comedian. Roger Ailes, on the other hand, launched Fox News — a platform that I would say is the worst if not for more rabid right-wing outlets Breitbart that have emerged since then. Nevertheless, I have no respect left for any of these men although I never had an opinion on Ailes anyway.

Bernie-crats – Yes, I was among the millions that supported and voted for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary here in California back in June.

I always admired Bernie for his genuinely populist streak that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump only pretend to have. I was disappointed but not surprised like everyone else that Sen. Sanders didn’t get far but I have no regrets as I truly believed in his message and still do. I’m skeptical that Hillary Clinton will even care to pursue the same vision and policy proposals Sanders put forth during his campaign. Very, very skeptical.

The American electorate – Oh, what the hell. In this instance, we’re all losers in this election cycle. Unless you are among the handful of people who are genuinely enthusiastic about Trump or Clinton, none of us will get any real satisfaction no matter who gets elected. Even if you’re voting for Jill Stein, Gary Johnson or some other third-party or independent candidate, we all still lose. I’m voting for Stein to break from my usual tradition of voting for a major party ticket. I’m not entirely thrilled about it but it is an option I am choosing to exercise this time around.

If only Pres. Obama could run for a third term in office. I always liked him and probably more now than ever before. His approval ratings in his final year in office is no joke.

What’s your take on these subjects? What’s your take on what I have to say? Chime in below. I’d love to hear from you.

On This Sunday: Stalling Tactics

Same rhetoric currently employed against transgendered individuals repurposed from earlier debate over whether gay men could use restrooms. Can’t we all just get along?

More on Vox. Watch this below.