Monday, June 27, 2016

Brexit an example of why referendum power is usually a bad idea

In the days since British voters opted for “Brexit,” I haven’t heard (or read) anyone who knows what they’re talking about say that it was a good move. To the contrary, it’s now widely being condemned as a wide-reaching, historic mistake.

As the New York Times reports, last week’s vote has left “many Britons wondering if there was a plausible way for the nation to reconsider its drastic choice.”

Meanwhile, there’s already talk of another Scottish independence referendum and possibly even a vote on whether Northern Ireland should rejoin the rest of Ireland. Both of those places voted against leaving the European Union by large majorities.

The United Kingdom as we know it could soon cease to exist.

The Brexit vote was, at its core, a pronouncement of widespread anger, resentment, and xenophobia among Britons who felt that their way of life was being threatened and their country’s sovereignty dismantled. The sentiments behind this campaign were unsettlingly similar to those here in the United States that have enabled the rise of Donald Trump.

And the results of last week’s referendum in the U.K. underscore the risks of subjecting hugely consequential policy questions to the whims of a public vote.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

How tribalism can degrade humanity

As I’ve mentioned a number of times, I’ve spent most of the past year interning as a therapist at the world’s oldest LGBTQ-focused community mental health agency. There are a couple of interesting factors brought to bear by working at such a place (actually many more than just a couple, but two in particular that are relevant to my current train of thought).

First, most of my clients assume that I’m gay because I work there. (I’m not, though it doesn’t bother me when people think otherwise.)

Second, many gay clients who enroll in services at this agency will insist on having a gay therapist. Their belief, of course, is that only a gay therapist could truly empathize with what they’re going through — or what it’s like to be them.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

This gun owner is right: Guns should be regulated like cars

In the last post, I mentioned that a gun shop owner in Indiana recently asked President Obama at a town hall meeting why he supported gun control. This guy might as well have been a paid representative for the NRA. Indeed, there’s a good chance he was. He certainly did a masterful job of parroting their talking points in puppet-like fashion.

At any rate, here’s exactly what he said:
Knowing that we apply common sense to other issues in our society — specifically like holding irresponsible people accountable for their actions when they drink and drive and kill somebody, and we do that without restricting control of cars and cell phones to the rest of us, the good guys — why do you and Hillary [Clinton] want to control and restrict and limit gun manufacturers, gun owners, and the responsible use of guns and ammunition to the rest of us, the good guys, instead of holding the bad guys accountable for their actions?
In light of the recent tragedy that has since occurred, I feel the need to dismantle the entire basis for this guy’s question. (Spoiler alert: It’s not hard to do at all.)

Sunday, June 12, 2016

What President Obama said just days before the Orlando tragedy

Just a couple weeks ago, a gun shop owner at a town hall meeting in Indiana asked President Obama why he supports gun control. The question itself reeked of the NRA’s faulty talking points, of course, but that’s a discussion for another post.

What’s most remarkable in light of the latest gun-related tragedy to strike our country is how the president answered the man’s question. Here is part of his remarks:
I [President Obama] just came from a meeting today in the Situation Room in which I’ve got people who we know have been on ISIL websites, living here in the United States, U.S. citizens — and we’re allowed to put them on the no-fly list when it comes to airlines, but because of the National Rifle Association, I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun. This is somebody who is a known ISIL sympathizer, and if he wants to walk in to a gun store or a gun show right now and buy as many weapons and ammo as he can, nothing’s prohibiting him from doing that — even though the FBI knows who that person is.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

It’s time for Sanders supporters to stand down

I supported Bernie Sanders from the beginning. I made that quite clear on this blog. I also made clear that I was never excited about Hillary Clinton. But I never left any doubt that I would support her over any Republican if she became the Democratic nominee.

That, of course, has finally come to fruition. No, it’s not because the system is rigged, as many Sanders backers would have you believe. Rather, as Nate Silver points out, it’s simply because more Democrats voted for her. (What an outlandish idea!)

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

This is why I’m over Seattle

All around the city, there are not-so-subtle signs of protest against the gentrification wrought by Amazon, Microsoft, Expedia, Starbucks, foreign investors, and [insert name of your preferred boogeyman here]. By the way, the above sign should have credited the revolutionary 1980s group Starship for inspiring its messaging.

Any kidding aside, though, when I read articles like this one, I’m reminded of why this place has run its course for me:
The line that stretched down First Avenue in Belltown this weekend wasn’t for a trendy new restaurant, a hot new gadget, or even Seahawks season tickets.

It was for a condo building – one that won’t break ground until later this year.

“We opened at 11 a.m., but people got here at 11 p.m. the night before,” said Dean Jones, president and CEO of Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty, which represents the development. “People were wondering if we were giving away iPhones or maybe the Adele concert tickets were returning here. In fact, it was a real estate development.”

Some people waited for more than four hours to put down deposits, Jones said, for the new Nexus building, which is scheduled begin construction in October. The 41-story building at 1200 Howell St. will contain 374 condo units, according to plans filed with the city of Seattle.
No, thank you. No offense, Seattle, but you’re not nearly as cool as you think you are.

Monday, June 6, 2016

I really have no idea about almost anything right now

Photo by Kelsey Paulsen.
This is me, pictured in front of the entrance to the institution from which I’ll graduate this month with a master’s degree in counseling psychology.

By many accounts, I’ve been monumentally blessed. I have a ton working in my favor. (For some reason, Joe Walsh’s classic hit “Life’s Been Good” is going through my head at the moment.)

I won’t leave the program with any student debt. I paid cash for it. I don’t have outstanding debt of any other type, either. No car payments. (I don’t even own a car anymore.) No mortgage. No outstanding credit card bills. I still have money in the bank even as I wrap up a year-long unpaid internship. That gives me time to look for a new job without panicking.

My apartment is small and humble, but it’s also clean, quiet, and in the center of one of the most coveted and expensive neighborhoods in Seattle. (Heck, I live less than two blocks away from where the latest series of The Real World Seattle will be filmed this summer, so it must be a hip area, right?)

And look at my graduation portrait. Doesn’t it just look so…perfect? Those who don’t know me well (or at all) might see it and read about my circumstances and conclude that I just really have my shit together.

I hate to spoil the facade — but I don’t. At all.