Not Reality

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I created the above image on my desktop computer in just a few minutes. It is a showcase of how simple it is to create a false image. Just like the man who now jokingly occupies the White House. The image show how easily one can choose a spangled background to project the notion of patriotism, how easy it is to scowl into the camera as though the subject possesses formidable skills or resolve, and in the end, just like a reality television personality, it all means nothing without proven worth.

You boasted many promises for your first 100 days in office, Mr. Trump, and you have yet to deliver a single one on the scale you professed so loudly during the debates.

You claimed not paying taxes made you smart. If so, why do you display such cowardice toward the legal proof of that wisdom? For a man who is forever threatening to see people in court, why do you shy away when its simply defending your own boastful claim?

Even if I didn’t vote for a particular candidate, I could still respect staunch resolve and innovative thinking in the effort to reach the lofty goals you promised. Instead, I see a man who must hire people to cheer for him, a man who banishes the press who disagree with him, rather than intelligently, resoundingly taking the opportunity to express your new ideas and possibly win new hearts and minds. But you don’t, and that makes you a pale excuse for a man, much less an international leader.

The mighty seat that you may have likely bribed, lied, and rigged to sit in is not your fake board room on television. You are not the absolute boss wielding absolute power, and no amount of strong-arm threatening will change anyone’s mind about you.

Your statement regarding the complexity of health care is a glaring yardstick for how woefully under-prepared you are for the task at hand. The task that holds the future of a nation in the balance, not another of your disposable, ill-fated companies.

You, Mr. Trump, have ascended, and I use that term as loosely a possible, as in the context of falling up the stairs, to the highest office of PUBLIC SERVANT.

There has never been a time in your life when the focus of your effort is NEVER  on YOU. If you didn’t understand the complexity of that concept, then step down now before you make the most disgraceful mockery of the presidency in history. If there is one shred of brilliance and reality anywhere in your selfish hull, have the stamina to admit this country deserves better leadership than you are able to provide.

If you persist on your present course, you will never make this country “great,” not here, and certainly not in the eyes of the world. If anything, you have emboldened the leaders of enemies because they do not respect, nor will they, as you display your tantrums through social media.

This is world-wide reality, not for ratings, not for points, and not for profit. Not keeping promises at this level isn’t about money, its about the deceit you exercised to earn the vote of a citizen. There is no bankruptcy that balances that loss, and you, sir, are losing…rapidly.

Confessions of a Democrat

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If I wanted to hire a lawyer, I would look for one I felt would best serve my purpose. I would expect him to do the job I asked of him at the price we agreed. I would also expect him to act professionally when he dealt with me and when we were in court if it so required. What I’d think of him on a personal level or what he did with his private time really wouldn’t matter (unless he raped and looted villages of course.)

I say this to make a point; before Donald Trump ever dreamed of running for president (or at least said so out loud) I never liked him. From his younger days, he always struck me as a self-absorbed, pompous ass who only married beautiful women because he paid them. The older he got, and the more he got fingers into all manner of business ventures that one-by-one went down the tubes, my opinion of him never changed. Needless to say, when he announced he was running for office, it did nothing to change my outlook on him.

Now that he is the duly elected, 45th president of this country, all of us are forced to look at him with a different perspective. I still don’t like him, and probably never will, but I do expect him to do the job he campaigned for, and that is no small task for anyone.

Suddenly, Mr. President-Elect has risen to the seat aspired to by many, but it comes with unique conditions. There will be many standing in the Oval Office with him, waiting for his decisions, and there will be no one else to blame for what happens after the stroke of his pen.

I recently read his proposed agenda for the first 100 days, and it is without question, an ambitious list. There are more than a couple of items that will not be popular with the Congress that must vote to make his proposals law, and he may find his usual “threat and bully” tactics won’t go far. But however it goes, I wish him luck, because now is when all of his blustering must be backed up with real action. This is part of the hot seat he is now on, and to deliver on campaign “promises” is a demonic beast every president faces without fail. In this regard, Trump will be no different than any of his predecessors, especially since his party holds a majority in both Houses of Congress. With that in mind, his burden to succeed actually triples, and as always, how long will his electorate be patient for results?

With the advent of smartphones and social media, more than ever, America has become a country that demands almost instant gratification. Virtually every politician will tell you the process of making law is like turning a battleship at flank speed…it doesn’t happen on a dime or without leaving a wake.

It would be easy for me to say I hope he fails miserably, but honestly I don’t. While I don’t like the man, I know when he fails people will suffer. It doesn’t matter that I don’t agree with many of his ideals, or that I think his running mate has no business being anywhere near the White House. What matters is that he must succeed on some level or the country will suffer as a whole. Given his background, its highly possible we could see a scandal to make the adventures of Bill Clinton look like a playground dance, but I don’t want to see any president go down in that kind of disgrace. Getting voted out is job related while getting impeached is an insult to everyone.

I also fail to understand why Mr. Trump never laid out any of his 100 day proposals during the debates or the National Convention rather than the virtually incoherent repeating of, “It’s all going to be great.” Had he spoken intelligently about such points maybe his image might not have suffered the way it did, or there would at least been less focus on his lewd behavior.

I don’t believe in, or agree with the Electoral College. Its process simply doesn’t represent the true majority vote, and that is what democracy is supposed to be based on. Nevertheless, for now it still remains law and must be agreed upon. I feel the argument that it doesn’t give fair chance to less populated states is poppycock. If a candidate can’t convince people in the most populated areas then maybe their ideas don’t serve the public trust. The House and Senate are the arm of government specifically designed to address those interests of the states, allowing them their voice. For all the recent debate over the Constitution, I see no place for the Electoral College.

All that aside, America faces a very familiar set of problems. Even if Trump won by a clean 51% of the popular vote, there would still be almost half the country not in agreement with him, but their interests and welfare are still the duty of the president to serve.

Donald J. Trump has risen to the highest spotlight of his life, and never have the stakes been higher, more realistic, and without passive consequences that can be bankrupted or swept aside by a tax write-off. It is because of these enormous stakes, directly impacting the lives of millions that I hope the new president will find the capacity to think of others before himself, to forget about political points for the sake of all citizens, not just his supporters. Leaders always preach unity but nothing is harder to achieve in the face of stark opposing ideology.

I still believe we should do public education and healthcare better than any other country in the world, but we do not. I believe we should want our nation as a whole to be healthy, our elderly cared for, our children not hungry or living in poverty, and their schools safe and state of the art in every community. We aren’t even in the top ten around the globe on these things, much less leading the world. I don’t think those things make me a “communist or socialist” but I do think they are things God and Christ would approve of, and I sleep sound in that belief. If there is a better way to reach those goals, the present GOP establishment hasn’t shown us how. I hope Mr. Trump has some answers as great as he claims them to be. I’m gladly waiting for you to prove me wrong about you.

I find it ironic that a gay man is attributed with a quote that most fits President-elect Trump.

“Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.” – Oscar Wilde

Mr. Trump, in spite of my personal feelings, I wish you good luck. God knows you’re going to need it, because the biggest job of your life also comes with the most harsh education known to man. After this, your star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame will be meaningless by comparison.

 

 

Sexism Counterpoint

This is a blog post in response to a blog post by Gretchen Kelly on Huffington Post.

Men don’t know? About many of the things you describe? Maybe so, but sexism is not a one way street.

I’m probably going to be skewered and set ablaze on the front lawn for my following comments, but so be it. I’m not going to say I deny or that any of the situations described by Gretchen Kelly aren’t real, because I very much believe they are. I am also in no way excusing the behavior of the men described in the text because I have witnessed such behavior firsthand. But I will also say this, men are not the only ill-behaved gender out there, and there are many women just as lewd as any man.

She says the de-escalation technique is learned at a very young age, and I don’t doubt that, because the formation of male behavior also begins very young.

The worst part is that bad behavior is far too often rewarded and made the prime example of how to reach goals, and yes, females play a role in this as well. The term “nice guys finish last” didn’t fall out of thin air because in far too many cases it’s the absolute truth.

I know because I have lived it.

Unfortunately, the attraction between male and female (we’ll leave gays out of this equation at this juncture since they have a whole separate set of hurdles to overcome.) is something built into us by nature, but how the process is cultivated is entirely up to us. Like so many other things, we observe the examples we see around us and watch closely how they succeed or fail. Even if success is attached to a bad example we are tempted to follow that path in the hope of our goal. We can be told repeatedly that path is a bad one to tread, but when we continue to witness success by others those values are called into question.

We’ve probably all read books, watched television shows or movies on the subject of young love, first love, or simply exploring those emotions. We also know happy endings are most often orchestrated by the writer because unhappy endings as a rule don’t sell. But the truth is these rituals of young interaction are rooted in fact, and the ugliness of it all is shined over in the name of entertainment.

Let’s get down to raw elements. I can’t count how many times I was told in my youth things like, “If you want somebody, you have to go after them.”

Then a classic female statement such as, “Of course I’m going to say no the first time you ask. You don’t think I’m that easy do you?”

We aren’t talking about a proposition for sex, I’m simply talking about a date. But it gets better. If young women are taught de-escalation, it certainly wasn’t in the realm of personal insults.

Such as, “Why would I go out with a guy like you? There’s nothing exciting about you, for God sake you’re as polite as my fucking English teacher. Nobody wants to date a pussy like that.”

If women are taught de-escalation at such a young age, why on Earth to they persist in chasing the worst male examples possible? It certainly isn’t because the guys bully every last one of them into dating. I’ve seen this situation play out more times than I can count, and not just in youth but in full blown adult life. I’m sorry but oldest saying in the world of “If you play with fire you’ll likely get burned” applies here, so women are not always the victims.

Let’s get one thing straight before this goes any further. Rape is a brutal crime of revenge, hatred, and sadistic punishment. Any way you slice it, when rape takes place it is a violation where one person has popped their cork and stepped way over the line. You can be mad at someone for all manner of behavior, but nothing justifies that kind of outcome.

That being said, there are a huge number of women that exercise and use their sex to their advantage at every turn. I have personally seen women who screw their boss on purpose just to gain favor. I even had a female supervisor who despite being married with a child, openly admitted she kept a boyfriend at work because it made things go smoother.

Are all women like this? Absolutely not. Are all men as valueless and crass as Gretchen Kelly describes? I don’t think so. Is it a man’s world where women are at a disadvantage? In many cases I believe that is true because the culture in this country was formed that way. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t have been so many years before women even had the right to vote.

The bottom line is men are taught by many different sources how to deal with the opposite sex, and in too many cases those examples are not the best ones, but they are too often reinforced by the few who stand out.

Our society has often made heroes out of rule breakers and women have been contributors to those instances as well. For every list of poor behavior by men you don’t have to look far to find a female counterpart. I’m not excusing the men by any means. I watched behavior between my own parents that I would have stopped as a child if I thought I could.

I believe Gretchen Kelly is right. Men don’t know, because we are taught very differently, and yes, maybe young women should speak out much more often than they do. If they did, maybe the behavior of the few might be thwarted and a different example set.

Maybe then, the nice guys won’t finish last, and in the long run maybe there will be a lot more of the men you think there should be. Chivalry didn’t die, it got laughed at until it became a joke.

There are still men who have standards, but they don’t wear shining armor or ride white horses. That’s only in Disney movies.

 

Division and Misconception

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For as long as I can remember, America’s two-party system has waged war on each other. While a similar clash of ideas exists in other countries, there are certain things they still agree on for the general benefit of their population. I often wonder how we have celebrated 240 birthdays and still lag behind the advances of other nations in the last 70 years.

I count myself as an American before a Democrat, but when a Republican questions my patriotism; I am compelled to ask the same of them for various reasons.

Personally, I think conservatives have taken the concept of individual responsibility too far, to the point it now resembles, “every man for himself.”

From our jobs, to the military, to organized sports, an enormous list of things in our lives extols the benefits of working together as a team. We so often hear about the strength of numbers, doing our part, and while that includes personal responsibility it doesn’t mean going it alone.

While other countries have adopted better public schooling practices, public health care, and better working hours and conditions for its citizens, America lags behind. I don’t mean a little behind, I mean numbers like 29th in public schools and even farther down in health care. Many argue we have the best health care in the world, and we do have a tremendous number of high quality professionals, but we fall flat on our noses because they are only accessible to a portion of our society.

I think Bernie Sanders made a large mistake during his campaign by announcing so many programs as “free.” There is no such thing as free health care or education, but there absolutely can be public-funded, non-profit versions of both. Many other countries do so effectively while still offering a private option for those who can afford that choice.

 

PREMIUMS VS. TAXES

Republicans immediately cry foul over any public program, and usually do so by screaming “socialist or communist” as if they were spitting blood. Let’s clear something up here; the term “socialist” by definition does not quantify government programs in a free society. A socialist society is one where there is no private property in either business or personal aspects. Local, state, and Federal governments already own public school buildings and many other pieces of real estate, none of which has plunged us into anarchy or communism.

Hot off the voice of socialism, if not before, comes the war cry of higher taxes. I think this is an area where huge misconceptions take place on many levels, and since Republicans stand for fiscal responsibility, it becomes even more confusing. Is there some reason a public program cannot be both well-funded and efficiently run? Efficient doesn’t mean run on the cheap or by a shoestring, it means well organized and competent. How could we not want that for our schools, our children, and our country?

Another misconception I see regarding taxes is the notion that the more you make, the more breaks you should get, therefore the less you should pay. The single reason the tax scale is so high on upper income brackets is the effort to combat the rampant loopholes the wealthy take advantage of since Wall Street was de-regulated.

I have no doubt many of these people have labored long and hard to achieve their present status, but the math is simple. If you make 10 times more than I do, and I have to pay my 28 percent, then you can pay yours. Not your loophole Capital Gains tax rate of 15 percent. Your take home pay is still 10 times higher than mine, and that is your reward.

The top tier of this nation has taken greed to new heights. Getting tax breaks with one hand while they cut jobs, wages, benefits, pay lobbyists, make political contributions that shame family salaries, and stash funds in off-shore accounts to keep from contributing to the nation they live in. When all these exist, stop complaining how they can’t afford to pay their percentage share. I have no problem with the scale being lowered, but all the breaks and loopholes need end.

The other concept is the one behind insurance. America pays more for health insurance by a wide margin than any country bar none, and we get less for our dollar, so how is that efficient? It isn’t, but once again, the greed of the health care business machine is happy to milk the cow until its dead. These corporate moguls have turned health care into a business that could care less about the actual health of the country as long as their stock is profitable.

What is truly strange is that a public health program would basically work the same as insurance without the need for profit, instead making its focus the health of its citizens. If other countries can do this then we should be leading the world by example and not making our children and elderly choose between food or loss of a home versus seeing a doctor. Public health care should put decision-making in the hands of the doctor, where it belongs, not in the hands of an insurance adjuster.

Republicans demonize the welfare program, but when they let CEOs cut jobs and wages, more poverty is created, then they reward them with tax breaks? Where is the logic in that? If Republicans don’t approve of welfare then why don’t they reform the programs as opposed to eliminating them, letting the citizens in question suffer with no regard.

The Republican Congress has tried 60 different ways to repeal the Affordable Care Act, all to no avail. Yet they haven’t submitted a single piece of legislation that outlines a better plan? Why? Henry Ford was famously quoted for saying, “Instead of finding fault, find a remedy.”

Another famous quote by Ford that conservatives love is, “Any man who thinks he can be happy and prosperous by letting government take care of him should take a close look at the American Indian.”

Let’s set aside for a second that this nation screwed the eyeballs out of the Native Americans. They made treaties in good faith and we took their lands, butchered their resources, and drove them away like animals. They never vested an interest in our government, and once again, the greed of money behind railroads, the gold rush, and the resources the land offered paved the way to capturing the West. Not a very good analogy to our present day situations.

Publicly funded education, college, and health care are not free, but we already pay more for the benefit of a few than it would take to benefit many. Non-profit hospitals that operate in my hometown pay staff better, have lower patient-per-nurse workload, and still deliver top level care to the benefit of everyone involved. The only difference is no stockholders are getting rich off the operation. This alone is proof the concept can work on a large scale.

How can we have the largest military budget on the planet (as much as several other nations combined) yet still offer such low pay to our soldiers? The fighting force is smaller than ever but the funding is historically high. Yes, hi-tech equipment is costly, but large corporations fight for government contracts, and they don’t do it for the honor, they do it for the insane profit. How can we as a nation abide such action when our veterans are neglected in such manner?

Every election I hear the Republicans shout with their evangelical supporters about reverence for Christian values. What “proper Christian value” says we should neglect our sick and elderly? Which says we should subject our children to such poor standards of schools and health? Which says we should ignore the plight of our wounded and disabled veterans? Which says we should coddle the wealthy and condemn the poor for not working hard enough? Which value says we should disregard the golden words of, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?”

I can find no scripture that Christ taught the concept of “every man for himself,” and if that is the way of the Republicans, then I question why any religion would support such an ideal. I also question how it could be better for a democracy and for the majority of a nation.

Our government was designed to be an extension of our voice, to represent the people, and to act for the common good. Those are not socialist or communist ideals, they are American, and they stand for unity.

If Republicans think the words “Under God” is the problem with our schools and children, I challenge them to read the words that follow, “Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for ALL.”

This country is far from fulfilling that pledge. The demonized misconception that if our government acts for the benefit of the majority, to do things smaller groups or communities struggle to accomplish on their own should be forever dispelled. This is not a crime. Successful public program models exist all over the globe and it’s high time we got on board.

 

 

Clinton vs. Trump

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Political name-calling is nothing new, and the modern media loves a nickname better than the cure for a deadly disease. They also seem to love controversy better than substance and there has been no shortage of either in the 2016 Presidential election campaign.

Republicans and conservatives love to call her, “Killary,” or “Crooked Hillary,” while Democrats and liberals call him, “Lying Trump, DumbTrump,” or any of a long list of colorful metaphors I’ll leave to your imagination or social media feed.

Hillary Clinton has certainly been accused of lying more than once, along with virtually every member of Congress, but I think there is a large difference between changing your position on a particular issue, qualifying your remarks, and outright lying.

Clinton has changed her position on more than a few points over the years, but after forty years of dealing with law, public issues, and government service I’m not surprised.

I don’t think there are any lawyers or politicians alive who haven’t withheld information, so she isn’t spotless, but who is? If you think that is too passive a statement, then I recall a passage from scripture, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

I’ll freely admit Hillary was not my first choice for a Presidential candidate, but then many saw Bernie Sanders as far too radical to ever win or hold the high office. I saw Bernie as everything Trump is not, as if they were matter/anti-matter particles.

Honestly, it was unlikely the majority of Sanders reforms would ever have passed Congress into law but I’m sure his effort would’ve been valiant.

Trump, on the other hand, is the epitome of the worst kind of salesman. The kind you are forever suspicious of being swindled by before the deal is over. Just in the last few months, not a lifetime, he has contradicted himself repeatedly. This hasn’t been informed change of consideration on particular issues but more saying what goes over well with whoever happens to be in the room.

His list of business failures is equally troubling. In fairness, every business mogul takes on a risky venture at least once and a bust or sell-off isn’t unheard of, it’s simply part of the game. However, the list of ventures that have crashed and burned under Trump’s guidance does enormous damage to his credibility.

The concept of a former Republican mayor from New York City taking the stage at the Democratic Convention is an oddity, but Michael Bloomberg did just that. He sugar coated nothing by saying neither party held all the answers or owned a monopoly on proper solutions, and he gave a bold opinion on his experience with Donald Trump.

Being mayor of the largest city in the country for twelve years provides a well honed perspective, and given Trump has prime property there means his business practices were closely scrutinized by NYC government. Bloomberg blatantly called Trump a con man, citing his bankruptcies, his lawsuits, and his abuse of immigrant work visas. The last point being rather hypocritical given his outspoken plans to deport millions. Bloomberg is easily ten times as wealthy as Trump, and his track record both business and political shames the GOP nominee, which drives home the point he knows from whence he speaks.

Even if you discard the business failures and the rampant, repeated change of opinion, Trump still displays a volatile temperament reminiscent of a schoolyard bully. There is a large difference between a person of strong, assertive character who would stand tall for our country on the international stage, versus a man who holds a press conference after the Democratic Convention to announce how much he wanted to hit people that disagreed or insulted him. Once again, given the brash and lewd terms Trump has publicly thrown at his opponents, a petulant level of hypocrisy becomes clear.

For all of Clinton’s detractors, I am reminded of the words of Franklin Delano Roosevelt who said, “I know my Republican opponents hate me, and I welcome their hatred.”

Roosevelt was branded as a socialist, a communist, and a fascist dictator for his “New Deal” because he supported projects where the government acted in the interest of the middle class and the poor. He supported and pushed forward reform to end what he called, “business and financial monopoly, financial speculation, and reckless banking.”

FDR’s middle class supporters believed their candidate understood and sympathized with them, as one worker put it in 1936, “Roosevelt is the first man to understand that my boss is a son-of-a-bitch.” Despite the unending stream of labels by his opponents, he managed to get elected by wide margins three times.

While much has changed since 1936, many of the accusations laid against Clinton echo from history. For all of the Republican efforts via Congressional committees to State and FBI investigations, not a single charge has been convicted against her. I also find it ironic that for all the claims of lies and wrong-doings, I have seen zero evidence of her so-called crimes. Former Secretaries of State Powell and Rice both publicly admitted using private email for classified information, and fifty-three embassy members died during conflicts under Former President Bush, and there hasn’t been the slightest hint of criminal implication to any of them. What makes their action non-criminal and Clinton’s worthy of punishment?

Few people can put forth the kind of life-long resume of working for the benefit of children and equality that Clinton has in spades. Frankly, I’m amazed that with eight years of complaint and criticism over the Obama Administration, the best the Republicans could muster is Donald Trump? Where are the giants of their party? Where are the people of extraordinary class and character that stand for fiscal responsibility, sound business practices, families, and efficient government? None of those qualities are embodied in Trump.

By contrast, Clinton has spent a lifetime in public service, and the ideals put forth in her nomination acceptance speech covered more ground than many who have already held the Oval Office. She has seen the world and knows we get farther on “we” rather than “me.” One line of her speech gave the great summation of our democracy in that progress is made through compromise, not isolation. She knows we are the melting pot of the world and our diversity is our strength and our future. This country has a long, ugly history of fearing and demonizing every influx of immigration, from the Irish, to the Italians, the Jews, the Blacks, the Japanese, the Middle Eastern, and the Mexicans.

The bottom line being unless your ancestry is pure Native American Indian, we are all a product of someone who came to this land seeking a better life. If we don’t believe in that simple principle then we need to tear down the Statue of Liberty and the words inscribed on the pedestal on which she stands.

Republicans constantly cry reference to the Founding Fathers of our nation, who by the way, were immigrants. We came here seeking freedom from a singular ruler controlled by a national church. We are a plural society, which is what freedom is all about.

Hillary Clinton understands we should not be ruled by Wall Street, the wealthy, or the fear of health care costs. She knows the education of our children is paramount and the safety of our communities is essential. She knows when the Middle Class thrives and grows, people are lifted out of poverty, the economy is stronger, and the country as a whole is better for the majority of its citizens, and that is the essence of a democratic nation.

Hillary Clinton may not be perfect, but the last I checked, I surely am not, but I believe she is the best choice for this moment in history.

 

I’m with Hillary.

 

The Battle Within

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In a time of incredible unrest, where the clash of ideology, poverty, and corruption has turned fear into both violence and death, America is displaying the ugly side of freedom. In a place so often called “the greatest country in the world,” the face of ugliness has become more prominent than ever before.

All of this has not stemmed from the actions of a singular despot seeking ultimate power, it is battle from within. I don’t mean some kind of core group acting within the borders of our country, I refer to a battle within ourselves, and those are undoubtedly the toughest to win.

If everything we faced were a physical challenge then we would follow the path so often found in books and film. The character seeking victory would ultimately lose enough conflict to train them to get better. They would follow the example of winners, gain counsel from learned colleagues, and progress toward their final goal.

The ancient Japanese Samurai trained diligently in the art of weapons, warfare, and the mastery of their technique, but they also sought spiritual and inner peace. They sought to bring balance to their lives in every aspect, and those are qualities long missing in our present world.

As a parent I have tried to serve my children and family while setting an example worthy of following. Only the end of my days will eventually prove its value since our legacy seems to so often outshine our actual time of labor. Yet across all those years, the capacity for understanding and compassion will stand tall over anything accomplished through anger, rage, or vengeance.

We remember the wars fought and the battles won, but the most lingering after effect is the loss of life. We call it sacrifice to remind ourselves of the reason why, to console ourselves over the absence of a loved one, but in the end the sting of death still strikes home. All loss and pain because people were too unwilling to reach an understanding, too stubborn to compromise, and too greedy to care.

All war ends in a room with leaders, not on a battlefield. The taste for killing is filled to overflowing as many a soldier has returned home tortured by nightmares after coming face to face with killing another so much like themselves. They are the ones who truly bear the burden of the decisions made by idle leaders in the safety of their lofty rooms.

But today, in our hometowns, the battles are raging between our own citizens, and those charged with keeping the peace are caught in the crossfire. How many of us could effectively do our jobs each day if it meant fearing for our lives? These men and women are not facing a clearly uniformed, identifiable enemy, but the people who live and breathe around them each day. They are also people who chose to serve, and do so for a shameful salary given the risk. How have we become a society so tilted that we glorify professional athletes that are paid millions while we demonize those we call on to protect us from unruly harm? How is the entertainment of a game worth so much more than the security of our communities or the schools our children attend?

America will never live up to its proclaimed greatness until it learns to win the battle that is raging between its own citizens. Not its immigrants, not its enemies across the oceans, or its competitors around the globe, no, America must first and foremost achieve its own title…

“The United States of America”

As we stand today, it is a title we are not worthy of, and before we will ever reach the potential to truly lead the world we must first find accord and unity from within. Not by the means of any singular religion or leader, we must embrace each other and find the places where we all can contribute. We must make our nation as a whole stronger than any one person or group, because it is only through the strength of all that we can ultimately become… United.

Race, creed, gender, origin, young, old, rich, poor, etc…we are all made up of a diverse background. We all came from two hundred years of mixed ancestry, but that is exactly what makes us American. This is the common denominator we must hold most dear. Let us win the battle within and leave a legacy for generations to come that will be told with pride, and not a tale of woe.

The Useful Idiots?

I was recently shown the following newspaper article and I honestly have no idea when it was published. I have no idea who Garret Geer is but this whole text sounds like it was scripted for Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or some other talking head on Fox News.

What I dislike most about the article is the blatant failure to be accurate. The central goal is to paint both President Obama and Hillary Clinton as communists in the vein of Lenin and Stalin by linking them to Saul Alinsky.

For starters, Alinsky was a community organizer, not a communist. Lenin and Stalin never advocated labor unions or various ways to combat poverty. The author of the article also fails to note the works of Alinsky have been distributed to Tea Party organizers by Republican Congressmen just as often as by Democrats. The work most often cited is Rules for Radicals, and its list of rules does not include one single topic listed in the article below.

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For the sake of comparison, the Rules for Radicals list is as follows…

  1. Power is not only what you have, but what your enemy thinks you have.
  2. Never go outside the expertise of your people.
  3. Whenever possible, go outside the expertise of your enemy.
  4. Make the enemy live up to its own set of rules.
  5. Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.
  6. A good tactic is one your people enjoy.
  7. A tactic that drags on too long becomes a drag.
  8. Keep the pressure on, never let up.
  9. The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.
  10. The major tactic is the development of operations that will maintain pressure on the opposition.
  11. If you push a negative hard enough, it will push through to become a positive.
  12. The price of a successful attack is a constructive alternative.
  13. Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, polarize it.

 

In an inverted attempt to smear both Hillary Clinton and President Obama, the author of the article either inadvertently or intentionally listed all the things Republicans already support that are serving the purpose of the list of goals, not by socialist means (that benefit many) but by private means (which maximizes profit and only benefits the wealthy)

  1. Healthcare –  The GOP have repeatedly made certain to turn more control of prescription drugs and medical procedures away from doctors and into the hands of insurance companies. The cost of rising premiums are constantly blamed on the poor and elderly rather than insane profit margins.
  2. Poverty – The present poverty level can easily be traced to the GOP de-regulating and allowing, if not encouraging through tax breaks for corporations to export jobs, cut jobs, cut benefits, plunder pensions, and generally drive the cost of living ever higher while keeping wages low. Most notably the minimum wage.
  3. Debt – Ever since Reagan began deficit spending the GOP hasn’t looked back. Under Bush they repeatedly vote to raise the debt ceiling while cutting taxes. Yet we still support the largest military budget in the world by a wide margin.($0.60 of every tax dollar) Bush borrowed funds from China to fund war efforts rather than eliminating tax breaks to corporations or closing loopholes that allow the wealthy to abuse the capital gains tax at only 15% while upper middle class families suffer under the alternative minimum tax and rates almost twice as high. Any efforts to reduce the debt are always targeted on Social Security and Medicare with complete disregard for the citizens who paid into these plans all their working lives. Funding that even Reagan pronounced as being completely separate from the national debt.
  4. Gun Control – Conservatives and other GOP supporters have no argument here since the Congressmen bought and paid for by the NRA dutifully strike down any measure to regulate or curtail gun sales. While the death rate continues to spiral, they see no problems with the lack of training, licensing, or registration, all while we stand alone as the only civilized, developed country in the world with such a problem of mass shootings and gun deaths.
  5. Welfare – While the welfare system is constantly singled out as the source of our debt and poverty problems, why hasn’t the GOP put forth one single piece of legislation to reform the system? Why hasn’t there been more focus on creating more jobs to provide a path out of welfare as opposed to attempting to repeal the ACA sixty different times? The single biggest cause of welfare is the same as its always been. The wealthy don’t want to pay people to work a job, and just like the plantation owners of the old South or the greed-mongers who knowingly employ illegals for pennies today, they would have slaves do their work if they could get away with it.
  6. Education – This is another area where the GOP fights to keep from paying teachers and forces both states and communities to fund their own programs with minimal help. Our schools should be the envy of the world and not 29th overall, and Republicans have fought much harder to keep any kind of courses from being taught that contradict Christian teaching, all in direct violation of the First Amendment. The wealthy want schools to be poor so that private schools for their children are the only ones producing better education. Heaven forbid we as a nation should produce solid, open education that would allow a more intelligent, informed child the freedom to choose for themselves.
  7. Religion – “One Nation Under God” was added to our Pledge of Allegiance in 1954, NOT 1776, as was “In God We Trust” on our money. Freedom of Religion is part of the Bill of Rights. In communist countries such as Russia, religion as a whole is virtually forbidden and no such laws against churches exist here. Religion is taught both by word and deed in the home, in your churches, and in your lives by example. No religion has the right to rule this country, and if you aren’t teaching your children then no amount of Pledge, prayer in school, or ritual on the floor of Congress will do it for you.
  8. Class Warfare – Nowhere has the GOP excelled any more than in the constant way it plays to the wealthy in exercising power over the poor and working class. The term “redistribution of wealth” is constantly tossed into the ring as some kind of unholy rite, yet none of them have spoken out against the redistribution of wages, jobs, benefits, premiums, and cost of living. All of which are driven by the so-called free marketplace and Wall Street constantly juggling everyone’s investment for the sake of trade commissions and personal profit. They cry foul over government regulation but have no problem expecting bailouts when they run the ship aground.

 

Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals bears no resemblance to Lenin or Stalin in the guidelines for creating a communist state. That point of view is however a constant train of thought with Limbaugh, Beck, or others of their kind. On the other hand I’m not surprised given that Glenn Beck believes the artwork on Rockefeller Center is communist in nature. I get the feeling if John D. Rockefeller were still alive to debate the topic there might be disagreement.

I would also like to see this “list of nations” that has been destroyed by Alinsky and his “Useful Idiots.” Although the title to the article is cited as a term used by Stalin, I would think the break-up of the Soviet Union along with the destruction of the Berlin Wall might be old news that the influence of Stalin is not spreading.

One last thing to the author of this article, the final quote, “It is difficult to free fools from the chains they revere,” was not made by Alinsky, Stalin, or Lenin. It was made by Voltaire, a French writer, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state.

I guess the idea of the “useful idiot” depends largely on your point of view, but the argument of Alinsky fostering communism in America is an idiotic one.