Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Culture of Swine

“Buy the ticket. Take the ride.”
Hunter S. Thompson

It is the morning after the nastiest, most divisive presidential election ever. Not just in our lifetime. EVER. And while banshees scream about the death of democracy, the dogs of hell are already barking and howling a victory song marking the beginning of what may very well be a long, nasty period in American history.

The Trump years will be a horror. Now that the Republican Party has sunk its talons into the heart and soul of Washington, the repercussions will be painful and long-lasting. Generations will feel those effects.  Trump-ism will allow the Republicans to pass massive regressive tax cuts, yank access to medical care from the poor and sick, deregulate the financial industry, gut the EPA while looking away as polluters and fossil-fuel emitters rape the environment, and promote racism disguised as patriotism under the banner “Making America Great Again”.

What a load of shit.

As if America ever stopped being great.

And sadly, that is just the beginning.  Trump is a monster. He is an impulsive, egotistical bully, intolerant of any and all criticism and attracted to power like a shark to blood (or maybe in his case – a fly to shit).

HST’s comments about an equally evil individual once in power (Richard Nixon) are appropriate: Trump represents that “dark, venal and incurably violent side of the American character that almost every country in the world has learned to fear and despise. Our… president, with his Barbie-doll wife and his boxful of Barbie-doll children is also America's answer to the monstrous Mr. Hyde. He speaks for the Werewolf in us; the bully, the predatory shyster who turns into something unspeakable, full of claws and bleeding string-warts on nights when the moon comes too close…” 

The fifty-nine million Americans who elected Trump will not be helped by his agenda nor any of his programs – he avoided policy specifics in every debate, so it’s difficult to say for sure what those programs might be, except that they will all be “tremendous”.  To the people who bought into his bullshit, Trump-ism represents the opportunity to rebuild our nation and renew the American dream.  Tremendous potential. It’s going to be a beautiful thing. Every single American will have the opportunity to realize his or her fullest potential.” 

Except that they won’t.  Not if they are Black. Or Hispanic. Or women. Or Muslim. Or refugees. Or LGBT. The only people who might be satisfied by a Trump presidency are the ones who voted for him because of racial and cultural resentment.

The depths of a Trump presidency defy any sane, rational person’s imagination. Based on the seismic divisions within our country – race, cultural, religious, and gender  – that his candidacy preyed upon like a vulture eating road kill, it’s safe to assume his presidency will not be popular. At least not for long and not with everyone.  And Trump, his henchmen, and gnarly co-horts will most likely respond with vicious anti-democratic measures that threaten the basic tenets of our Constitution and the freedoms it guarantees. But fighting for democracy is part of America’s heritage – it’s what we do.  We fight to make things better and stand up to racism, bigotry, misogyny, discrimination, and oppression. It may take us a while to get it right, but we stand up for the rights of others.

No matter who is in the White House, we need to fight hard for all people of color, LGBT rights, religious freedoms, a woman's right to choose, medical care for people who cannot afford healthcare, etc. - maybe now more than ever. We are stronger together.  And we need to keep fighting.

It is the morning after the nastiest election ever. The sun still came out. Many of us still woke up next to the person we love, surrounded by family or friends who matter. Still hopeful for a better future than the one our parents gave us.  I love this country. I believe in it. I still believe in America.  I’m not leaving - I’m going to stay and defend truth and democracy. There are a lot of people just like me, who feel the same way I do.  We are not going anywhere. 

We are going to stay and fix this.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Things We Lost On Tuesday

“America counts millions of Muslims amongst our citizens, and Muslims make an incredibly valuable contribution to our country.  Muslims are doctors, lawyers, law professors, members of the military, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, moms and dads. And they need to be treated with respect. In our anger and emotion, our fellow Americans must treat each other with respect.”

                                                                                    President George W. Bush        9.17.2001

Fifteen years. 

A lot can happen and change in fifteen years.

It’s been fifteen years since two planes ripped through the Twin Towers in New York, another slammed into the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. In a single day the face of our nation changed in ways that went beyond the gaping hole in the Manhattan skyline where the Twin Towers once stood.

Yesterday we again mourned what was lost - social media pages were filled with images and memes commemorating a day in American history that still gives everyone pause.  Ask anybody about the date and they will tell you where they were and what it means to them, and then share their experience - as if what happened is somehow about them and not about the people we lost in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania.

In the days and weeks that followed the events on 9/11, Americans came together in shock and pain, and found comfort in our spirit and collective unity.  We mourned with dignity and decency – joined in pain, hurt, loss, and patriotism while determined to be as one….”indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  For the first time since grade school, Americans actually understood what those words meant.   We shared a common bond that transcended the inconsequential differences in skin color, language, where we worshipped, and who we chose to love. Political ideology became less important; working together for common goals was all that mattered. We put aside differences and focused on unifying our country and strengthening our ideals. The carefully measured words of our leaders mattered as we embraced ourselves and our values after the attack.

President Bush spoke of Islam and said, “The face of terror is not the true faith of Islam.  That’s not what Islam is about. Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace. They represent evil and war.   When we think of Islam we think of a faith that brings comfort to a billion people around the world. Billions of people find comfort and solace and peace. And that’s made brothers and sisters out of every race –out of every race.”

But fifteen years is a long time.

Words like the ones President Bush offered fade and disappear in fifteen years.

The America we live in now is one that is more fragmented than at any time in recent years.  Torn apart by differences in skin color and sexual orientation. Distrustful of other religions. Fearful of immigrants seeking a better life than the one left behind in war torn and oppressed countries. Instead of celebrating the election of an African-American to its highest office, we became a nation that questioned whether the president was actually a Christian or even an American.  We filled our political stage with candidates adept at name-calling and hate-mongering.  The Republican Party that openly embraces fear and loathing, is led by a presidential nominee, Donald Trump, who claims that he saw footage of thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrating the attack on 9/11, even though that never happened. The same nominee who wants to build a wall on our southern border and with few specifics on how to do it, force all immigrants to go through an "extreme vetting" that would attempt to establish whether applicants' beliefs match US values on gay rights, gender equality and religious freedoms. One of the tenets this nation was founded on (a republic – not a democracy-  in case anyone missed that in high school civics class) is freedom for all. We are a land of opportunity and a land that opens its doors to all who need freedom from persecution – there are no qualifiers about that. No gray areas.

As a nation, that’s not what we’re about. Except in the past fifteen years, that’s what we’ve become. So much for values and principles…..

We can’t agree on solutions to any of  the problems that face our country.  We haven’t fixed our schools. Too many families struggle with poverty, finding meaningful work, and putting food on the table. Inner cities are a mess and our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling.  We’re spending too much time hollering about Colin Kaepernick and not enough time talking about the issues he is protesting – as if there are only two sides to the debate and choosing one eliminates open discussion of the problems and possible solutions.

The America I value is the one where we start to look beyond our differences and work together. The one where the former President said, “This is a great country.  It’s a great country because we share the same values of respect and dignity and human worth.”

It’s sadly ironic that the people who scream loudest that “we will never forget” are in many ways the same ones who want to “take back our country.”  The ones who have forgotten the ties that brought us all together and the promises we made to work together to make this a better nation after the attacks.  To regain our values. To stand as one with respect and dignity for each other.  The same voices that want to take back our country seem loudest from the people who have divided more than they have unified in the past fifteen years.

What we lost on 9/11 goes deeper than the friends, relatives, neighbors, and strangers in the Towers, four planes, Pennsylvania field, and Pentagon. We lost the vision of what America should be.

Fifteen years.  A lot can change in fifteen years.  America could have been have been better than what we are now.

We need to be better.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Higher Ground

So once again it’s that time when I look at the calendar and realize  weeks/months/years have passed since I last vented and railed against the world…. For first timers, this is my periodic rant against injustice … think of it as a documented soul cleansing. 

I believe that reading, writing, and literacy are the foundations to success, and that not enough of us read.  Really read.  You need to read more. If you get all your news from one source – whether it is Fox News or the New York Times or the National Enquirer, you are hopelessly uninformed.   Read newspapers and magazines and learn to form well-rounded opinions based on facts – not thirty second sound bites picked up from Fox or NPR.  Because one source cannot possibly give you that complete and well-rounded basis to form an educated opinion anybody wants to hear or discuss.

I believe there is not enough accountability and personal responsibility in the world today. 

And that there is a lack of reasonable, intelligent political debate and conversation.  I’m not sure when everything changed and compromise went out the window, but it’s hard to have faith in either political party or the direction our country is going when they are unable to work towards common goals. Maybe part of the problem is that people are not reading enough to form educated opinions required of politicians.

If you support a candidate who is a bigot – especially one who is a misogynistic racist preaching hate under the banner of “making America great again”, than most likely you are a bigot too.  We need leaders who unite- not divide.  I cannot support any candidate who is consumed with hate and neither should you.  We are better than that.  America is better than that.  We don’t need to take back America because it’s still here – moving forward, evolving, and changing.  If you believe we need to take back America, you need to explain where exactly it’s gone and what those words “take back America” really mean.  Immigrants aren’t the enemy – we are a nation of immigrants.  

The Founding Fathers knew this when they wrote the Constitution and it is one of the cornerstones of who we are as a nation (check out the words inscribed on that cool green statue the French gave us – the one that sits in the middle of New York Harbor and welcomes “huddled masses yearning to breathe free”).  The Constitution protects all persons from governmental deprivation of life, liberty and property without due process.  And if you want to argue that the Founding Fathers could not have foreseen terrorists hiding as immigrants so that changes everything, then you can’t argue that your 2nd Amendment rights are protected by the Constitution because a “well-regulated militia” trumps the intent those same Founding Fathers had when they wrote that passage. You can’t have it both ways. 

And by the way, stop being scared of American Muslims. The guy who is pissed off because the Starbucks barista got his double mocha cappuccino wrong or the road-rage fueled driver who cut you off on the way to work are more of a threat than any American Muslim.   American Christians are not under attack either. Nobody is persecuting Christians and nobody is trying to take away your Bible (83% of Americans identify themselves as Christian –tough persecuting any group with that kind of majority).  Stop whining that Christians are being persecuted because it makes you sound stupid. And uninformed.

If you want to connect religious fanaticism to terrorists, start with Christians.  White Christian males kill people will alarming frequency in this country – more than Muslims and Jews do.  That is a fact. You can read more right here

Speaking of facts... there actually is a difference between facts, opinions and propaganda. People need to learn the difference.

Another fact: Domestic Violence is a national health crisis. It affects people across all races, religions, and income levels in ways that are seen and unseen.  If you don’t understand that, you need to read more about it.  It’s a scary topic and although many of your friends would rather not see posts about it on Facebook because pictures of kitten are safer and less threatening, you need to put it in their faces and make them deal with it.  No problems are ever solved by ignoring them.

Same with sexual violence. If you’re a parent, start by teaching your sons not to rape. And to respect women.

And speaking of Facebook, stop sharing Facebook memes that tell me to share/like a Jesus post or else Jesus won’t bless me or answer my prayers or start my car on a cold winter morning.   That’s not how prayer works. God and Jesus don’t log onto Facebook or Twitter or Instagram to check the prayer registry.  Maybe while you’re reading, you can add the Bible to your reading list.

And stop trotting out Bible passages to support inane arguments- especially when you take them out of context.  Because in the same book of the Bible that right-wing religious conservatives use to support bullshit anti-gay agendas is a passage about stoning to death unruly children.  If you believe in Jesus and have spent more than fifteen minutes in church or Sunday school, you should know that he would have embraced gays, the poor, etc.  

Gay people aren’t the enemy and neither are transsexuals, no matter how you want to interpret the Bible.  

Guns kill people. That’s what they are designed to do. But it is possible to maintain 2nd Amendment rights with reasonable gun control laws – background checks, banning semi-automatic weapons, etc- if we are willing to not only use some common sense, but stand up to the NRA and do what’s right for everyone. The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness (which includes safety in my house, my neighborhood, and the places I shop) is not superceded by someone elses right to own a semi-automatic.

That’s all for now. 

Thank you for taking the time to stop by.