I had a terrifying Uber right in Florida last night.

I spent about 45 minutes in the back of an Uber last night on the road between Jacksonville International Airport and Amelia Island.

It was almost 2:00 AM when I climbed into the back of the car, so perhaps that’s why things got weird.

My driver was quite the conversationalist and had a lot to say. He was also an avid conspiracy theorist who was anxious to spread his propaganda. Among this many beliefs were these:

THEORY #1

In the 1940’s, the United States began cloning human beings to serve as doubles for any human being who needed to be eliminated or replaced. The most famous of all these replacements:

Michael Jackson

When Jackson’s hair caught fire on a Pepsi commercial shoot in 1984, his face was also horribly burned. The only way for the King of Pop to continue to entertain was for the government to activate his replacement clone, and since the technology was not exact, that is why Jackson’s complexion seemed to change over the years.

When I asked why the government thought it necessary to replace Michael Jackson, the driver said, “Michael Jackson was amazing. The world needed him.”

THEORY #2

The Illuminati controls NASA, which is not actually a space exploration agency but instead is instead a secret bunker-building construction company designing hideouts for the wealthiest human beings for when the apocalypse comes.

His proof: NASA in Hebrew (according to him) means “To Deceive” and the Illuminati like to hide clues in the open.

“Why do they hide clues out in the open?” I asked.

“It’s cooler that way,” he said.

It was disconcerting to think that there are Americans who have been fooled into believing conspiracies like this (and so many more), but here was the most frightening of his beliefs:

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, is a terrible human being because when Donald Trump gave tax cuts to corporations, lots of them gave their employees holiday bonuses but Amazon didn’t. He was working for Amazon at the time at a fulfillment center and wanted the $500 bonus that Trump had tried to put into his pocket.

Up until this point, I had only listened. But with this, I had to speak up. I said something like this:

“I’m not saying Bezos shouldn’t be doing more for workers, but instead of a a tax cut for corporations and the wealthiest Americans, how about just a plain old middle class tax cut? You know, the kind Trump promised during the campaign and then lied about prior to the midterms? Remember when Trump said his wealthy friends were going to hate his plans for taxes? They loved his tax cut on the wealthy. A tax cut for the middle class would give you a lot more than $500 in your pocket, and it wouldn’t be a one-time payment. It would help you every day.”

His response:

“Yeah, but when I’m one of the wealthiest Americans someday like Bezos, then I’m going to love me some of that tax cut.”

The man is 34 years old. He has three jobs:

He drives Uber overnight.
He does nails at his mother’s salon.
He repairs cracked screens on iPhones.

He works three jobs and has a 7 year-old daughter to support, and instead of wanting the promised middle class tax cut, he would prefer $500 in cash and a tax cut just waiting for him when he makes it big.

That was the scariest thing he said all night. He is a man who really believes that tax obligations should be apportioned with the thought that he and everyone else will someday be as wealthy as Jeff Bezos.

He’s not the only one. Again and again, Americans vote against their self-interests with some eye to a future that is unlikely for them and impossible for everyone.

Help middle class families who are living paycheck to paycheck or line the wallets of the ultra-wealthy because some day you might be wealthy, too, and until then, $500 will make you feel good.

Give me Michael Jackson clones and an Illuminati-controlled NASA any day.

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Steve Bannon is worried about the future of America. I hope and pray that he is right.

Steve Bannon is worried. He thinks women might “take charge of society” in the coming years.

He's reportedly most concerned by the women-led wave of liberal, anti-Trump activism, fueled by the #MeToo movement.

"The anti-patriarchy movement is going to undo ten thousand years of recorded history," author Joshua Green quoted Bannon as saying. "You watch. The time has come. Women are gonna take charge of society. And they couldn't juxtapose a better villain than Trump. He is the patriarch."

My response to Bannon:

We could only be so lucky.

If I could press a button and eject every member of Congress from power and replace them with a randomly selected American woman, I would do so in a heartbeat. I have no problem with undoing ten thousand years of recorded history. Women account for more than half of all Americans but account for only a tiny fraction of Americans in power today.

Where has that gotten us?

In the words of lifetime Republican Chesley B. 'Sully' Sullenberger, the hero on the Hudson, who recently wrote an Op-Ed for the Washington Post indicating that he will be voting Democrat on Tuesday:

Too many people in power today “are cowardly, complicit enablers, acting against the interests of the United States, our allies and democracy; encouraging extremists at home and emboldening our adversaries abroad; and threatening the livability of our planet. Many do not respect the offices they hold; they lack — or disregard — a basic knowledge of history, science and leadership; and they act impulsively, worsening a toxic political environment.”

And who are these people in power?

About 81% of the members of Congress are men. 88% of governors are men. Every single President, including the incompetent racist currently serving in office, has been a man. 75% of his Cabinet are men. 100% of committee chairmen in Congress are men. 95% of Fortune 500 companies are run by men despite repeated research that shows that companies run by women return more money to shareholders year after year after year.

Men have been in charge for long enough. It’s time to let women fill the halls of power.

A record number of women are running for office on Tuesday, and I hope and pray that a record number of women win their elections and assume their rightful seats at the table.

Not every man is a “cowardly, complicit enabler,” and not every women will perform with integrity and honor while serving the public. But as I look at our divided country today and watch as lawmakers abandon the middle class, erode voting rights, degrade the free press, defend corruption at the highest levels, and ignore the threat that global warming poses to my children and future generations, I think that a change is needed.

Men have gotten us into this mess.

It’s time to see what women can do to fix it.

Steve Bannon has been right before. He predicted a Trump victory in 2016, and that awful prediction unfortunately proved correct.

Let’s hope he’s right about women taking charge of society, too. We need a change, and more women in power seems like a good first step to making that change happen.

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The truth about immigrants and the American economy

As you prepare to go to the polls on Tuesday, and as Trump ratchets up his racist attacks on immigrants and migrants, please know this, and please repeat it to everyone you know:

Every generation of Americans, at every level of government, consumes more benefits from the local and federal government than they contribute in taxes, with one single exception according to the Federal Reserve:

First generation immigrants.

First generation immigrants contribute more to the federal coffers than they receive in benefits in a year, including their dependents.

The numbers are striking:

First generation immigrants to the United States contributed $963 more than they received in federal benefits last year.

The rest of us run a net deficit of $4,364.

Nearly every economist in the world will tell you that immigration is good for a nation’s economy. Immigrants do not steal jobs. They do the work that others will not. They purchase goods and services. Buy homes. Build business. Hire workers.

Immigrants are the fabled job creators.

In 2017, despite Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric, immigrants launched 25% of all new businesses in this country. 216 of the Fortune 500 businesses in America today were founded by immigrants or their children. More than half of all businesses in America today worth one billion dollars or more were founded by immigrants.

Refugees, a subgroup of the foreign-born population, have even higher rates of business creation and entrepreneurship. 

If we want a healthy, expanding economy, we should be welcoming immigrants to our nation with open arms.

Trump has already made it clear that his attacks against immigration are not based upon economic theory or any real data. He is simply a racist who wants to prevent people of color from entering the United States. He has referred to the nations of African as “shit hole countries” and has asked why the United States couldn’t attract immigrants from predominately white countries like Norway.

White immigrants? Just fine in Trump’s opinion.

Mexican or Africans? In Trump’s own words, “drug dealers, criminals, and rapists.”

In truth, immigrants also commit fewer crimes than natural born Americans by a wide margin.

Make no mistake: Immigrants are good for our country. They are good for our economy. They are a driving force in business creation and job creation in America today, despite being forced to operate in a country with a President who openly despises them and a base of Republican supporters who refuse to acknowledge the economics behind immigration and instead continue to cast their votes based upon fear, ignorance, party loyalty, and the color of a person’s skin.

When you go to the polls on Tuesday, keep these irrefutable facts in mind, and please share them with whoever will listen. Trump is hoping that the fear and anger conjured from his rhetoric about immigrants, the caravan, and the “horde of invaders at our southern border” will win him votes in the midterms.

We have to do everything we can to stop a racist President from acting against America’s self interests and against people who have made our country great and continue to make our country great every day.

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Trump can't speak articulately., and it should scare the hell out of us.

The Wall Street Journal, a conservative financial newspaper, recently interviewed Donald Trump about his decisions related to the economy.

Trump was asked about the possibility that the tariffs he has imposed on a variety of products might have a harmful effect on the economy in the longterm.

Keep in mind that since becoming President, Trump has imposed tariffs on steel, aluminum, solar panels, washing machines, and more than $200 billion in Chinese imports.

Trump’s answer to the tariff question is astounding on two levels.

First, he simply lies about the tariffs. This should be no surprise given his record with the truth, but this lie is particularly atrocious because Trump claimed that they do not exist at all. Considering how often he brags about these tariffs, his willingness to pretend they do not exist, especially to a publication like the Wall Street Journal, is unthinkable.

But even more astounding than his lies is his inability to answer articulately. His sentences simply make no sense. It’s a jumble of words, phrases and clauses that confuse and contradict.

The man can’t speak in standard English.

Below is a portion of the transcript published by the Wall Street Journal related to tariffs.

My recommendation:

Read the following aloud. More importantly, vote on November 6.

_______________________________________

WSJ: A lot of people say that tariffs are really the biggest threat to the economy long term.

Mr. Trump: We don’t have any tariffs.

WSJ: But you’re saying it’s the Fed.

Mr. Trump: It’s so much nonsense, OK. This is your story. We don’t even have tariffs. I’m using tariffs to negotiate. I mean, other than some tariffs on steel—which is actually small, what do we have? I didn’t put them on the USMCA. We have a trade deal. I didn’t put them on in South Korea. We have a trade deal. That was the worst deal. That was a deal made by Hillary Clinton. It was a horrible deal. We made it into a sound deal.

But I didn’t put tariffs. Where do we have tariffs? We don’t have tariffs anywhere. I read that today: We’re worried about the tariffs. You know what happens? A business that’s doing badly always likes to blame Trump and the tariffs because it’s a good excuse for some incompetent guy that’s making $25 million a year.

WSJ: Just to go back to the Fed for a second—

Mr. Trump: But think of it, Michael. We don’t have tariffs. Where do we have tariffs? I’m talking tariffs. I’ll use tariffs. I mean it. I’ve said I was going to put tariffs on European Union cars, right? They came to my office. We made the concept of a deal. We’ll see what happens. But they agreed to a deal that they wouldn’t even talk about. There’s no tariffs.

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Terrorists are cowards. Let them know it.

In the past 72 hours:

A man attempted to enter a predominately black church in Kentucky with a gun. When unable to gain access to the building, he went to a Kroger grocery store and killed two American Americans shoppers instead.

A man attempted to kill President Obama, Secretary Clinton, Vice President Biden, several other high ranking members of the Democrat party and a handful of their supporters with pipe bombs sent through the US postal service.

A man entered a synagogue in Pittsburgh and killed 11 people and wounded many others, including law enforcement officers.

The suffering of the victims of these crimes and their loved ones is unspeakable. The damage done to families and communities is immeasurable.

There will be many debates in the coming weeks over the causes of this outburst of violence.

Americans will argue over the hateful rhetoric of a President who just three days ago, in the midst of the pipe bomb scare, praised Republican Republican Greg Gianforte of Montana for physically assaulting a reporter in 2017.

Americans will debate the efficacy of our gun laws.

Americans will rightfully question why the vast majority of these mass killings are perpetrated by white, middle aged men.

There will be much debate, discord, and disagreement. Answers will be hard to come by, and when found, even harder to implement.

But as Americans, I think we can all agree on one thing:

Each of these men were cowards of the highest order. All terrorists, in fact, are cowards. Their stock and trade is the murder of unarmed, innocent people. Their goal is to kill men, women, and children who cannot shoot back or otherwise defend themselves.

Cowards. Ever single one of them. Not a single one of them understands courage.

Serving as a police officer, fire fighter, and first responder requires courage.

Running for political office requires courage.

Living openly as a transsexual person today requires courage.

Standing on a stage and telling a story requires courage.

Serving in our armed forces requires courage.

Caring for an ailing parent requires courage.

Asking someone to marry you requires courage.

Battling cancer requires courage.

Fostering a child requires courage.

Serving as a member of the media - particularly in today’s political climate - requires courage.

Standing up to a bully requires courage.

Sending your child off to kindergarten for the first time requires courage.

Killing unarmed parishioners in places of worship requires nothing more than a coward and his gun.

Mailing bombs to prominent politicians and their supports requires little more than a coward, some gun powder, and a stamp.

As we debate causes and solutions for this senseless violence, let’s also make sure that we let these terrorists and all future terrorists know how history will remember them:

As the greatest cowards of our time. Worthless human beings without an ounce of courage in their bones. Frightened little men who will be reviled by humanity until the end of time.

Cowards. Every single one of them. This is one thing to which every American can agree.

Let’s make sure these cowards and all future cowards know it.

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Perhaps the stupidest thing that America does

Of all the stupid things that our country does, Election Day might be one of the stupidest.

There is absolutely no reason why Election Day is not a national holiday or held over the weekend. Almost every other democracy on the planet holds their elections on a holiday or weekend, and almost every American who wants their fellow citizens to be able to vote agrees.

Tuesday was established as Election Day in the United States 1845 because it did not interfere with the Biblical Sabbath or with market day, which was on Wednesday in many towns. This was also a time in America when many voters needed to travel a full day by horse and buggy to the county seat to cast their vote.

We vote on a Tuesday because of conditions that no longer apply in this country. Nothing in the Constitution is preventing us from changing the day that we vote, yet the stupidity of Election Day persists.

The only reason to keep Election Day on a Tuesday is to suppress the vote. Make it more difficult for people who already have difficulty getting to the polls.

Primarily young, poor, working class Americans.

Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State and the Republican nominee for Georgia governor, for example, was recently caught saying that his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams’ voter turnout operation “continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote,” according to audio obtained by Rolling Stone.

The Secretary of the State in Georgia is concerned about everyone in his state exercising their right to vote. This is about as unpatriotic as you can get. It probably also explains why Kemp has spent the last month purging the vote rolls in his state of anyone who is unlikely to vote for him.

Primarily African Americans.

Yesterday a federal judge put a stop to him, but tens of thousands of voters have already been purged from the rolls.

Just imagine what our country might look like if the Brian Kemps of the world were not suppressing the vote and every American used and exercised their right to vote.

The thought makes the likes of Brian Kemp and the Republican party shudder in fear.

Moving Election Day to the weekend or making it a national holiday would almost assuredly helps millions of Americans to vote.

In 2014, for example, 35 percent of registered voters who did not vote indicated that aid they couldn’t vote because of work or school obligations.

On November 6, only 44 percent of U.S. firms will give workers paid time off to vote on Election Day.

Election Day on a Tuesday in November is stupid. It’s also guaranteed to suppress voter turnout and assist Republicans in maintaining majority control in Congress despite the fact that they represent a minority of Americans in both the Senate and House.

Even the President was elected by a minority of Americans.

Majority control at the hands of the minority. Election Day on a Tuesday assists in perpetuating this reality.

There are a lot of stupid things in America.

The Electoral College is dumb.

The fact that marijuana and heroin are categorized equally under US law is ridiculous beyond compare.

Why the Monday after the Super Bowl isn’t a national holiday baffles me.

But Election Day on a Tuesday? Perhaps the stupidest thing of all.

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Own your domain, dummy

Wondering what kind of information Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh might include on BrettKavanaugh.com now that he has won his confirmation?

We’ll never know. He doesn’t own the domain.

The domain BrettKavanaugh.com is now a dedicated forum for helping sexual assault victims and ending rape. The website, titled "We Believe Survivors," was purchased by Fix The Court, which advocates for judicial transparency.

The domain and similar sites ending in .org and .net was purchased three years ago with the idea they could be "useful in any forthcoming Supreme Court confirmation battles," the organization's executive director, Gabe Roth, said. 

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Why Brett Kavanaugh didn’t purchase this domain years ago is beyond me.

Perhaps he was drunk with Squee at the time, writing crude, sexually explicit, and publicly shaming comments about Renate Schroeder in his yearbook.

Meanwhile, I own matthewdicks.com, as well as mattdicks.com and matthewdicks.net.

I also own my name on MySpace and Facebook, as well as the Twitter handle @MatthewDicks, the Instagram handle @MatthewDicks, and even the Pinterest handle @MatthewDicks.

When I see a new platform gaining steam, I grab my name just in case.

Even Donald Trump doesn’t own his Twitter handle. Instead, he is @realDonaldTrump.

I also own elyshadicks.com, claradicks.com, and charliedicks.com.

Someday Clara and Charlie are going to be very pleased about their genius father’s foresight and planning. To have a domain that actually matches your name is already unusual. It will only become more uncommon in the future, particularly when so much of our lives exist on the Internet.

I recommend that parents do this for their children.

I plan on telling my kids about this great news when:

  1. They understand the value of owning a domain like this

  2. I’ve said something regrettable or horrendous to them and need to find a way to get them to forgive me quickly.

I was a Boy Scout. I believe in being prepared.

Brett Kavanaugh and the photo that will never go away

You’ve probably seen the photo already, and even if you haven’t, you’re probably trying to put the Brett Kavanaugh hearings behind you, but I just couldn’t let the moment pass without taking a moment to highlight this remarkable image.

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I don’t know if Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted Dr. Ford, but here’s what I do know:

  1. The percentage of false accusations against men by women for crimes of this type is exceptionally small.

  2. An enormous number of sexual assault victims do not come forward for many understandable reasons. Remaining silent is tragically common.

  3. Dr. Ford had a hell of a lot to lose (and did) by coming forward and had little incentive to do so. Even if her testimony derailed the Kavanaugh confirmation, Republicans would simply confirm a different, equally conservative justice. She was not going to change the political leaning of the court by her testimony. She’s also had to endure death threats and Trump’s mocking attacks at his rallies less than a week after claiming to find Dr. Ford to be a credible and sympathetic witness.

  4. For centuries, female sexual assault victims have been ignored, silenced, and condemned, so I have made it a point to be as open as possible to their claims. This is not a dangerous time for young men. It is an ongoing and endlessly dangerous time to be a woman.

  5. Even if Kavanaugh is not guilty of Dr. Ford’s allegations, he lied several times during his confirmation hearings, and that alone should have disqualified him from service on the court. Republicans ignored this because they have abdicated all moral authority in this country in favor of power and fear of the Trump base.

  6. This was not a trial. It was a job interview, so the standards of guilt and innocence do not apply here. If a woman had made a credible claim of sexual misconduct against me during my interview to become a teacher, and I had responded to the charges with anger, defensiveness, partisan attacks, victim blaming, and conspiracy theories, I would never have expected to be hired. Temperament is important for a teacher and for a judge, and Kavanaugh did not demonstrate a temperament required for service on the court during his testimony.

In short, I don’t think Kavanaugh deserved to be confirmed, and a majority of Americans in the latest polling agree with me. In fact, since his confirmation, the number of Americans who don’t believe that he should’ve been confirmed has increased.

This is why I love this photo. Kavanaugh might possess the power that he has sought for much of his adult life, but he will never enjoy all of the prestige of the position. He will always be the least popular Supreme Court nominee. A man who lied on the stand and lost his temper during his hearings. And the credible allegations of sexual assault will never be forgotten.

When an Internet search is conducted on Kavanaugh in the future, this photo is likely to come up every time, and happily so. It serves as a testament to the mockery of his confirmation process and the shame that Kavanaugh has brought to the Supreme Court.

Oddly, most of the scowling women sitting behind Kavanaugh support him. They are his wife, two friends, his mother, and a former law clerk, supporting him in the moment but doing him no favors in terms of posterity.

Perhaps this is the best karma could do given the circumstances.

Matilda vs. Donald Trump

This statue of the the classic British children's character Matilda staring down a likeness of President Donald Trump has been erected to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the release of Roald Dahl's 1988 novel.

As the Roald Dahl Story Company prepared to mark the anniversary of the novel, it asked the British public to weigh in on a replacement for Miss Trunchbull, the villainous headmistress. A survey asked who Matilda’s present-day antagonist would be.

Topping the poll by a wide margin was, of course, Donald Trump.

Even in a nation an ocean away, with the likes of Piers Morgan and Nigel Farage from which to choose, the most vile person who immediately comes to the British mind is the same one who Americans despise in historically large numbers.

For the record, Matilda would kick Trump’s ass if given half a chance.

Eric Trump doesn't like me

As you may know, I was a part of the Knight Foundation’s lawsuit against Donald Trump which led to him being forced to unblock me on Twitter earlier this year.

One of the highlights of 2018 for me.

Though I had always been able to see the inane ramblings of the self-admitted sex offender and bigot currently serving in the White House, now I can respond directly to him when the need arises.

It’s usually when I’m so annoyed that exercising my freedom of speech and firing off a response to his stupidity makes me feel better.

Yesterday, however, I discovered that I have now been blocked by Eric Trump, the debatably stupidest of the two Trump sons.

I know most comedians portray Eric as the dumb one, and he certainly has a slack-jawed, mystified gaze about him, but after the enormous number of obvious lies that Donald Trump Jr. told about his meeting with Russians in Trump Tower, the title for dumbest Trump son became a lot less certain for me.

Since Eric Trump is not a public official but only pretending to be running the Trump Organization on behalf of his self-serving, racist father, I am not outraged by his decision to block me.

A little annoyed, perhaps, because he’s so easy and fun to insult (which is why I was probably blocked) but I certainly understand that he’s well within his rights to silence me on Twitter.

I suspect that Trump Jr. will also block me at some point if my tweets rise to his attention, and since he is not a public official but only a possible traitor to the United States who is also pretending to run the Trump Organization, I will not be outraged by his decision to block me, either.

Disappointed but not outraged.

Ivanka, however, is a government official. She has chosen not to take a salary, but she’s still working for the government, so she cannot block me based upon the principles of the Knight Foundation lawsuit.

Unlike her father and brothers, Ivanka is not nearly as stupid on Twitter. She did tweet out this photo of her and her son exactly one day after Americans learned that her father was separating small children from their families and placing them in cages on the border, which might receive the tone deaf award of the century, and she also supports her corrupt, sexist, and bigoted father, but she rarely says something so stupid on Twitter than I feel compelled to respond.

She’s complicit and therefore shares the blame for this disastrous and evil administration, but she’s not nearly as fun to insult.

Eric Trump was good for that, but alas no more.

Apparently my words stung a little too much.

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First words this morning

My nine year-old daughter, Clara, came downstairs this morning, and before saying another word, asked, “Dad, what started the French and Indian War?”

Why my daughter would start her day with this question is beyond me.

“Did you know,” I said, “that the French and Indian War wasn’t actually between …”

“I know, I know,” Clara said. “The French and Indians were fighting the British. I know that. I want to know what started the war.”

Just like that, she had stripped me of my best French and Indian War fact. But I was not to be deterred.

“Did you know that the war was also called..”

“Yes, the Seven Years War,” she said. “I know that, too.” Now she sounded annoyed. “I want to know what started the war.”

I told Clara that I thought the war began over the fight for land. “I think the French and the British were fighting over land in the west and control the fur trade in those areas.”

“You think?” she said. “Let’s look it up.”

So at 6:10 AM, with many other things to do, Clara and I did a deep dive on the French and Indian War. We discovered that I was correct. Though there are always many reasons for war, the control of disputed land in North America was the primary cause.

We also learned that 22 year-old George Washington led the first attack against the French at the Battle of Jumonville Glen.

We learned that the war began in North America in 1754 but expanded to Europe in 1756.

We learned that Britain gained control of parts of Canada, which was populated with 80,000 French residents, and that those people were deported following the war to make the land available to immigrants from Europe and migrants from the colonies to the south. 

“What a bummer for them,” Clara said.

Then I finally taught Clara something that she didn’t know. I explained that the French and Indian War cost Great Britain a lot of money, and to pay off their debt, the Crown tried to impose new taxes on its colonies. These attempts were met with resistance, until troops were called in to enforce the Crown's authority. These acts ultimately led to the start of the American Revolutionary War.

Great Britain won the French and Indian War, but it ultimately led to the loss of British colonies in North America and the birth of the United Stares.

“Cool,” Clara said and then skipped away. It was 6:35 AM, and she had to go learn about the composition of Neptune on Ready Jet Go.

Hydrogen, helium, and methane, if you were wondering.

Americans believe this

A new Reuters/Ipsos poll found that 84.5 percent of Democrats and 51.9 percent of Republicans would support a policy of Medicare for All in the U.S. healthcare system. About 70 percent of Americans look favorably on offering some sort of baseline medical care in the U.S.

The most recent Gallup poll finds that 79% of Americans support a woman's right to choose in some way. 29% of Americans say abortion should be legal under any circumstance, and 50% say it should be legal under certain circumstances. 

When asked, "Would you like to see the Supreme Court overturn its 1973 Roe versus Wade decision concerning abortion, or not?" 64% said no compared to 28% saying yes. 

When it comes to gun control, the most recent Gallup poll find that 67% of Americans want stricter control compared with just 4% that do not.

95% want background checks for all gun purchases and 56% would support a ban on semi-automatic weapons. 

I think it’s important to know and remember what Americans actually think and want in a time when our legislators and the President are so highly ineffective at honoring and respecting the will of the people.

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Trump is many things, but let's not forget this.

There was a lot of things wrong with Trump’s comments to ABC White House reporter Cecilia Vega during yesterday’s press conference. .

If you missed the exchange, you can check out the video below, but this is the pertinent bit of the exchange:

Trump: "She's shocked I picked her, she's in a state of shock."

Vega: “I'm not, thank you Mr. President.”

Trump: "I know you're not thinking, you never do."

Vega: "I'm sorry?"

Trump: "Go ahead"

Obviously Trump’s comment was rude, condescending, indecent, unpresidential, and probably sexist. Nothing any former United States President has ever and would ever say to a reporter.

But that’s just the start.

Also notice the collection of mealy-mouthed jackasses standing behind Trump who laugh at this act of rudeness and condescension. They are complicit in this vile act. They are the meatheads who every bully depends upon for support.

Most important, note the cowardice of Trump. When Vega says, “I’m sorry?” she’s attempting to ascertain what Trump just said. She probably heard the words correctly but rightfully assumed that it couldn’t possible have been those words.

What President - or decent human being - would say something like that? And during a press conference?

But like the frightened, little bully that Trump is, he didn’t repeat his words when questioned. He laughs at the reporter for a remark he has made almost under his breath, and then he tells her to continue while his crew of complicit jackasses laugh along at her expense.

Trump is like the high school bully who calls you a name under his breath and then denies saying it when you try to call him out.

Trump is like the high school bully who says something terrible to you and then says, “Just kidding. God… can’t you take a joke?”

Trump is the kind of human being who tries to publicly humiliate a person on the world stage by mumbling an insult under his breath and then pretending it never happened.

What a goddamn coward.

This is a guy who fires people via Twitter because he can’t muster the courage to fire them in person. This is a guy whose flat feet kept him out of Vietnam but allowed him to play golf for his entire life. This is a guy who falls in love with dictators through letters, praises America’s enemies, and fails to stand up to adversaries on the world stage.

Trump is a lot of things. Crude, sexist, racist, thin-skinned, incompetent, inarticulate, self-serving, and condescending. A self-acknowledged sex offender who pays hush money to porn stars.

A serial liar.

But also, and let’s not forget this, a goddamn coward, too.

The Republican own this self-acknowledged sex offender President

In America today, we have a President who openly admitted to sexually assaulting women defending a Supreme Court nominee who is accused of sexually assaulting women.

This is also a President who has paid hush money to porn stars to conceal affairs and has more than a dozen accusations of sexual harassment and sexual assault pending against him.

Later today, one of the women accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault will be judged by a panel of 11 white, male Republicans, all over the age of 60.

These old, white men won’t be questioning her directly. Instead, they have hired a female prosector to do their dirty work.

This is what happens when you turn your committee into a boy’s club.

In fact, the Republicans have never had a woman or person of color on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ever. In the 80 year history of the Senate Judiciary Committee, every single Republican member has been a white man.  

On the Democratic side, there are currently 10 members on the committee. Four women. Three people of color. Not as representative as I’d like, but at least not as sexist and racist as the Republican side. 

None of this needed to happen. Republicans knew that Trump was guilty of sexual misconduct by his own admission prior to the election, but they refused to pull his nomination and voted for him anyway. They placed an self-acknowledged sex offender in the White House, and now he is in the position to nominate and defend a man accused of similar crimes. 

Again and again, Republican members of Congress prostrate themselves to a man who said this:

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The party of the Evangelical right had allowed this to happen. They have placed an indecent, immoral, self-serving liar in the position of President of the United States.

Again and again, they place party over country.

History is going to remember them as a party of worthless, complicit, transactional politicians who supported a racist, sexist, incompetent, self-serving President, and remarkably, they don’t seem to care one damn bit.

Behold: The inventor of the chocolate chip cookie

I don’t like it when people of import are forgotten by history.

William Dawes, for example, made the exact same ride as Paul Revere on that fateful night. Took the same risks and accomplished the same goal, but because William Wadsworth Longfellow failed to mention Dawes in his famous poem, Americans do not know his name.

I hate that.

This is why I’m also annoyed that Ruth Wakefield’s name is not known by every American from sea to shining sea.

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Ruth Wakefield is the inventor of the chocolate chip cookie. Something that has brought joy to almost every American at some point in their life. Something that I thought had existed for all time was actually invented by a woman known for her baking and cooking skills.

Wakefield was brainstorming about cookie dough while on vacation in Egypt when she first came up with a new recipe, a variation on another popular treat called Butter Drop Do pecan icebox cookies.

Her original plan was to have involved melting squares of unsweetened chocolate and adding it to the blond batter. But the only chocolate she had available at the time was a Nestlé semisweet bar, and she was too rushed to melt it.

Wielding an ice pick, she chopped the bar into pea-size bits and dribbled them into the dough. Instead of melting into the dough to produce an all-chocolate cookie, the bits remained chunky as they baked.

Thus the chocolate chip cookie was born.

Wakefield and her husband owned a travelers inn Whitman, MA. That establishment, the Toll House Inn on Bedford Street (about a mile from where I once shared a bedroom with a goat) became a destination, famous for Wakefield’s recipes, which she eventually included in a cookbook, “Ruth Wakefield’s Tried and True Recipes” that she published in 1931.

Her chocolate chip cookie recipe first appeared in a later 1930s edition of the book.

Her Toll House cookie recipe was later reprinted in The Boston Herald-Traveler, and Wakefield was featured on “Famous Foods From Famous Eating Places,” the radio program hosted by Marjorie Husted (who was known as Betty Crocker).

In 1939, Wakefield sold Nestlé the rights to reproduce her recipe on its packages for $1 and was hired to consult on recipes for the company, which was said to have provided her free chocolate for life.

Soon afterwards, the chocolate chip cookie recipe spread beyond the confines of Massachusetts, thanks in part to World War II soldiers sharing their cookies from care packages with fellow soldiers from around the country.

Today you would be hard pressed to find a single American who has not enjoyed a chocolate chip cookie at some point in their life.

I know it’s only a cookie, but when something interacts with so much of American culture in such a positive way, and we know the name of the American who invented the thing, we should make a better effort to celebrate her and her accomplishment.

Ruth Wakefield, inventor of the chocolate chip cookie: A true American hero.

The people in Louisiana don't suck

This week, Louisiana became the 16th state to file an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to rule that it is legal to fire someone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Louisiana joins Nebraska, Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming, Kentucky, Maine, and Mississippi in seeking to make it legal to fire gay people.

Seeing this list, my initial thought:

Those states suck.

The majority of people in those states suck.

What a bunch of amoral bastards.  

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Then I read this:

An recent LSU poll found 76 percent of Louisianan residents think gay, lesbian and bisexual people should have protections from workplace discrimination.

It was a good reminder that the people in power do not necessarily reflect the will of the people.

After all, we have a President who didn't receive the majority of votes and has a approval rating of 38%. 

Yet I'm certain that there are many people in other nations who look at Trump and think, "Americans voted for that ignorant, racist, sexist hobgoblin? They suck."

And with 62 million Americans voting for him, they wouldn't be completely wrong.  

Donald Trump lost last night, and I won.

On July 11 of 2017, I was walking with half a dozen teenage girls across the quad at Miss Porter's School toward the dining hall. They were my camp counselors - Miss Porters' students who were helping me teach about 25 other girls from around the world about writing, speaking,  and storytelling. We were heading to the dining hall in the waning sun of the late afternoon when I looked down at my phone and saw that Donald Trump had blocked me on Twitter. 

I had sent a tweet at Donald Trump earlier that day that read:

Proposal: If you take healthcare away from 23 million Americans, you must also give up your healthcare until those Americans have coverage.

Less than a minute later, Trump tweeted and then blocked me. I was probably near the top of his feed at that moment. My tweet had received hundreds of likes and replies and had already been retweeted 30 times. I also have a verified Twitter account (the blue check mark), indicating that I am a personality of sorts and an actual human being, making my presence weightier on the platform.

I was so angry, "Damn it," I said. I couldn't believe that the President of the United States had stopped me from receiving what he had already said was "official statements:" from the White House. My pipeline to power had been cut off, and I was enraged.  

One of the girls asked what was wrong, and I explained. Then they spontaneously burst into cheers and laughter, dancing around me, grabbing my hands and twisting me like a maypole. "I'm so proud of you," one of them shouted. "This is amazing," another one said. "You poked the beast!"

They turned that moment around for me pretty quickly. 

In the spring of this year, I joined The Knight Foundation's lawsuit against Donald Trump in an attempt to force him to remove his block on my account. I joined 41 Twitter users, including several journalists and writer (who I adore) Bess Kalb, in this attempt after the Knight Foundation had already won their first case on behalf of seven other plaintiffs in May of this year. 

Last night, on the eve before I begin my 20th year of teaching, I was finally unblocked by the President of the United States.

We won. 

I immediately sent this tweet: 

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It's not much. I can read Donald Trump's tweets with ease and respond to him directly as I wish. Will he ever see my response?

Maybe. He's seen it before. 

But it's not much. It won't help the families who have been separated at the border or the middle class families who are being fleeced by the Republican tax bill. It won't save the environment that is being plundered and destroyed by Republican deregulation. It won't restore America's standing on the world stage. it won't honor the legacy of John McCain or restore the rights of my LGBTQ friends.

It won't keep white nationalists and Nazis off our streets, and it won't bring Heather Heyer back to life. 

But it's something. I agreed to stand up, make my name known, and stand in defiance to this ignorant, racist, self-dealing Presidency, and for a moment, Donald Trump was forced to capitulate. Stand down. Back off.

It felt good to know that a man who seeks authoritarian power and routinely ignores the rule of law was forced to do something he had previously refused to do. I played an infinitesimally small part in the course of his Presidency. For a moment, I made him do something he didn't want to do. I made him follow the rule of law.  

I annoyed him.

It's not nearly enough. But add it to the marches that Elysha and I attend with our children, our donations to organizations like the ACLU, our support of political candidates who stand against this administration, our phone calls and letters, and most importantly, our votes, and maybe it's something. 

Not enough on our own, but with enough of our fellow Americans standing alongside us, perhaps more than enough.  

It also felt good, and that's important, too. In this age of Trump, it's hard to feel hopeless, helpless, and useless. It's easy to hear about the latest atrocity committed by the President and feel like our country is spiraling into an abyss. It's so easy to just give up.  

Self care is important. Finding ways of doing good and feeling good are essential. This was one of those ways. 

I was a participant in a lawsuit against the President of the United States, and we won. 

I can't imagine a better start to my school year. 

N-word bingo

It's not hard to avoid using racial epitaphs. Words that offend enormous swaths of humanity for justifiable reasons.

Despite this, people still do.

Sometimes it's because they are racist, and they use the word as a means of denigration. 

Sometimes they are thoughtless and inconsiderate, and they use the word without thinking about what it might mean to another person. These are the people who toss around the N-word because they hear others using it and therefore assume it's okay. 

Sometimes they are arrogant, ignorant pseudo-intellectuals who use the word to push buttons or claim some right that does not require claiming. These are the entitled white people, for example, who are angry that African Americans can use the word with impunity but they cannot, so they aggressively use the word in an effort to claim some linguistic territory because they have never been denied territory before. 

Think Fox News pundit. 

Mostly, though, they're just racists. People who believe that human beings of a certain skin color are lesser than them. Ignorant scumbags. Insecure, hate-mongering evil doers. Really, really, really stupid people. 

Like the President of the United States, for example. 

A new Quinnipiac University poll has found that 49% of people said they believe President Donald Trump to be a racist while 47% believe he is not. More Americans, and HALF OF ALL AMERICANS, think the President is a racist. The only thing more shocking is that 47% of Americans don't think he's a racist.

Apparently these are the people who don't read, listen, or watch the news, because there are only so many times that a human being can defend the Nazis in Charlottesville, retweet white nationalist conspiracy theories, attempt to ban all Muslims from our country, lie about Muslims celebrating on rooftops during 9/11, separate Mexican children from their families on the border, put brown children in cages, refer to Mexican immigrants as rapists and criminals, question the impartiality of Mexican-American judges, question the intelligence of African American politicians, entertainers, and athletes, and run an administration almost entirely bereft of people of color before the racism is undeniable.  

There may also be a tape of Trump using he N-word while on The Apprentice. If that tape ever surfaces (and when it comes to Trump, it seems as if every tape eventually surfaces), this clever, hilarious, and tragically accurate bingo board might be very useful. 

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It appears that I might be less fallible than the Pope

Good news.

Pope Francis has declared the death penalty wrong in all cases. This is a definitive change in church doctrine. Traditionally, church doctrine accepted the death penalty if it was “the only practicable way” to defend lives, which was a ridiculous loophole exploited by church officials and politicians as a means of justifying the death penalty. 

But Francis said executions were unacceptable in all cases because they are an attack on human dignity.

It's about time. I've opposed the death penalty since I was in high school, which means I was about 25 years ahead of the infallible supreme pontiff of the largest church in the world.

Maybe I should've been named Pope. It would seem that I might be slightly less infallible than the supposed apostolic successor to Saint Peter. 

Just imagine if Elysha Dicks had to refer to me as "Your Holiness" or "Most Holy Father."

Amazing.

The Pope's reason for opposing the death penalty is all fine and good, but the reason for my opposition has always been far simpler and more logical:

Human beings are fallible. We make mistakes. Since 1973, 144 people on death row have been exonerated, which means that it's very likely that the United States has executed innocent people throughout its history. 

In fact. a study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2014 found it very likely that 1 in 25 death row inmates are innocent.

As a person who nearly confessed to a crime he did not commit and came close to being convicted of that crime, I know all too well how insidious the criminal justice system can be when someone believes that you are guilty. 

And I'm white American. Just imagine what might have happened to me had I been a minority or an immigrant.

The death penalty is dangerous. Its very existence endangers the life of every innocent American citizen who might end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

Frankly, this is a no-brainer. A slam dunk. An obvious decision, even though it took the Catholic Church about two thousand years to finally agree with me. The death penalty should be abolished immediately, as it has been in almost every European and Latin American country in the world. In fact, 95% of all known executions in 2017 were carried out in only six countries:

China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the United States, Pakistan, and Iraq.

We keep great company. 

Yet 55% of Americans still support the death penalty because they are incapable of imagining that any one of those 144 men and women exonerated while on death row could ever be them or a loved one. 

How many more death row inmates must be exonerated or even executed before we decide that human beings are far too fallible to allow the state to take our lives as a form of punishment?

I'm happy that the Pope finally agrees with me. Everyone else should follow suit. 

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Insecure cowards are leading the most powerful nations on the planet.

Disney's latest film Christopher Robin has been banned in China. While no official reason has been given, government sensors have previously blocked images of Winnie the Pooh after bloggers used him to parody Chinese President Xi Jinping.

A particularly widely-shared post, which first popped up in 2013, shows a photo of Xi Jinping and Barack Obama alongside an image of Pooh and his friend Tigger.

It takes a special breed of thin-skinned, humorless coward to be so upset and afraid of being compared to a fictional bear that he must prevent a country of 1.3 billion people from ever seeing a film featuring the bear.

It's also so incredibly stupid. Banning the movie from China only brings attention to Xi Jinping's resemblance to the lovable bear. I had no idea that he looked anything like Winnie the Pooh, nor had the resemblance ever occurred to me, but now I can't not see it.  

So dumb.

People who are unable to laugh at themselves are sad and weak, and if they have accumulated power, they can be very dangerous.

We've witnessed this unfortunate truth in our country, too.

People like the Chinese President and Donald Trump do not understand that strength is not demonstrated through bravado, hyperbole, the strong arming opponents, the censoring of criticism, and an unwillingness to apology. 

All of these things are signs of weakness and insecurity. 

Truly strong people are capable of honesty, authenticity, and vulnerability. They are willing to make fun of themselves and are not afraid to speak about their flaws, foibles, and weaknesses.

They don't ban films, dishonor men and women of greater accomplishment than themselves, denigrate opponents through name-calling, and erupt into angry tweet storms every time someone criticizes them.

People of great strength are able to criticize themselves. Laugh at themselves. Admit fault. Apologize. Ask for forgiveness. 

They might not like the fact that they look like a cuddly Disney bear, but they don't shrink from the comparison. They laugh along with us and move on. 

It's tragic that the leaders of the most power countries in the world do not understand this.