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An Open Letter To Kamala Harris

February 16, 2019

Dear Senator Harris:

First, let me say you would make a great president. Your intellect, demeanor, and political savvy would not only be a refreshing change to the current occupant but would serve you and this country well in your two terms. In a field that is getting crowded, you are my number one pick for the office of President of the United States.

Second, if I can be so bold, is a small bit of advice, if you are planning to rise above the crowd and take your seat in the Oval Office. Having heard you speak, both in interviews and in Senate hearings, there is one thing you need to change if you are to convince the nation you are the best candidate.

When you speak or answer questions there is no doubt as to your grasp of the facts or your stand on issues. The problem, one which Hillary Clinton had, is that you sound like a politician reciting talking points. I do not doubt you believe what you are saying, but there isn’t passion behind your responses, they do not sound as if they are coming from your heart.

Alexandra Ocasio Cortez is an example of what I am talking about. She comes across as genuine, passionate, and heartfelt. Watch an interview with her and see what I mean. Another example is Chris Christie. While I may not agree with most of what he says, he too sounds like he is speaking from his heart.

Third and last, is that having heard your interviews, you, sometimes, fall into the trap of not answering the question. In a recent town hall, you were asked about solutions to DACA protection, and your answer talked about the broken promise to the young people and their parents by the current administration, but not your solution. On the positive side, in that same town hall when asked about student loans you had specific answers to solve the problem. This for me is a big issue in that when any politician launches into a diatribe in response to a question, it makes me feel they are not listening and are just trying to push their agenda.

In her book, “Becoming”, Michelle Obama said she did not realize how stiff she was being until she saw clips of her speeches. She then went on to being herself and speaking more from heart. For you to pull in the nation to rally behind you, my hope is that you will do the same.

I am looking forward to 2020 when I can enter the voting booth, place an X next to your name and see you take over the office of the President of the United States.

Sincerely,

Don Grant

 

 

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If Only We Believed the Pledge of Allegiance.

February 11, 2019

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Ironically, it was in January 2017 when I blogged about the new pledge of allegiance under Individual #1. What I did not realize, was just how prophetic it was, and how many purported United States citizens would live as if they believed it over the real one.

Now, in 2019, I think it is time to remind ourselves what the original says and what it means for this country. Thirty-one words that define what it means to be an American, words that if we really did believe them, would go a long way to healing this nation.

Stop any ten people on the street and I doubt any one of them would know the history of the pledge and I am not sure just how many would be able to recite the words.  The pledge was the brain child of Francis Bellamy, a minister, who in 1892 wrote it hoping citizens of any country could use it. The original simply said:

“I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

In 1923 it was changed to read:

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

And finally in 1954 the words under God were inserted giving us the version many of us recited every day in school. One thing I did not know, is that the controversy over making students recite the pledge started as early as 1935, long before these two words were added. There have been many challenges over the years, but today one does not have to stand nor recite the pledge if they so choose. That however, is not the point of this blog.

Let us examine what the words say and is the pledge worth preserving!

It is fitting that the first word is “I“. Each of has a responsibility as to what kind of country we are. It is easy to sit back and let other people take the reins, but as individuals, we each are responsible. The most significant way this manifests itself is in voting. The adage, every vote counts, could not be more true than in today’s political environment. It is tempting to want voting to be mandatory, like in Australia, but more important, is an informed electorate. In 2016,  58% of eligible voters went to the polls, while high for an election, it says a lot about the apathy of the other 42%.

The word pledge is from the Latin, plebium, to undertake, to make a serious promise to do what comes after. Obviously, 42% per cent of citizens did not take it seriously in 2016.

Allegiance: loyalty or commitment to a superior or to a group or cause. This one is the biggie. It is what caused the first challenge to be brought before the Supreme Court (see the link above). If we are to be honest, what this means is more of a commitment to one’s country, again voting being a good example of showing commitment.

To the flag: this is where the rubber meets the road. While our flag is special and there are rules about its use and care, it is a symbol. The problem is the meaning of that symbol has changed and been compromised. The link is to a blog I wrote on July 4th, 2012. Sadly the division I described regarding our flag has widened. Once a symbol of a country united it is now used to rip us apart.

of the United States of America: As the flag has become a symbol of division, this country is no longer united, but split into red and blue, and like the wall 45 would love to build, it seems we are unable to get over our differences.

and to the Republic: This may be one of the more important parts of the pledge. It reminds us that we are not a democracy, but a republic. To know the difference is to understand what is wrong with our current political mess. The key being a constitution that guarantees the same rights to all citizens, which currently is not the case, at least in practice.

for which it stands: Where once this meant that America was a place that the world could look to for leadership, inspiration, support, and hope: the last two years have eroded that image. Maybe it is time for all of us to take a knee!

one nation,: As has been said in many ways above, we are far from being one nation and have definitely been divided. One nation does not mean we all have to agree, but when those disagreements tear into the fabric of who we are, then we have a problem. When we refuse to listen to opposite opinions or fail to try to see the other side of an issue, we are beyond repair.

under God: i am surprised that this was allowed to be put in. The Constitution is clear regarding the separation of church and state. The problem as I see it is that while God is not defined, the implication of it being a Christian God has taken hold and perpetuates the false idea that this is a Christian nation.

indivisible: This word means unable to be divided or separated. In the current political climate, this small word is almost laughable. We are more divided than ever, at least more than I can ever remember. Yes, we had division in the Civil War, and have always had differing view points, but the gap today seems almost wider than ever. For the United States to be what it was meant to be, this is the biggest hurdle to overcome.

with liberty and justice for all: The irony of this is many who would insist the pledge be recited, who stand up when we play the national anthem, are the last to live by these final words. White supremacy, anti-immigration, anti-Muslim, love it or leave it, are ideas and beliefs that undermine the concepts of liberty and justice for all. The us and them mentality takes the wind out of the sails of the ship of liberty and justice. As Leonard Cohen says in his poem, “Democracy” –

Sail on, sail on, O mighty Ship of State! To the Shores of Need Past the Reefs of Greed Through the Squalls of Hate Sail on, sail on, sail on, sail on.

Imagine a country where the words to our pledge were taken to heart, implemented and practiced in everyday life. A country that raised the flag as a symbol of hope, equality, justice, respect, and liberty. A nation, undivided, indivisible. A country that symbolizes what a people can become when all are treated fairly. Imagine the United States of America as it was meant to be. That will be the day the pledge of allegiance becomes worthy of recitation.

 

Trump’s Letter To His Successor

December 3, 2018

George Bush Sr. wrote a great letter to Clinton at the end of his term. We just discovered a draft of #45’s letter to his successor.

Dear Next President (who won because 5 million immigrants voted illegally),

When I walked into my office ,I realized I am the best President ever, no doubt, believe me. You will never be as great as me.

You will wish you were as great as me, but sadly, there is only one Donald and that would be me. I never felt alone here, because I was always with me, and who could ask for a better companion. Plus I had a direct line to my best buds Vladimir and Sean.

There will be many fake news stories about me and people who were not loyal (most of whom are now in jail).

My advice would be to listen to your gut. I know my gut knows more than my brain and I can hear my gut talk to me (especially after I eat Big Macs and fried chicken)

When you read this you will think I am gone, but not really, I will never leave, don’t tell anyone (especially Melania) but I am hiding in the Blue Room which I am painting gold.

You will never be as successful as me, so sad.

Good luck with that umbrella

DJT (the best president ever)

We Have Forgotten

September 11, 2018

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Today is September 11, 2018. If you have been on Facebook, Twitter, other social media, or god forbid, read a newspaper, you have probably seen the remembrance of 9/11/01 with the slogan, “We will never forget”.  The only problem with that is we have.

When the two planes struck the towers at the World Trade Center, and we heard the news of the third plane going down in Pennsylvania, and the plane hitting the Pentagon, the country for a short time was united. We grieved for the loss of life,  we were outraged that America had been attacked, we turned to each other for comfort, strangers shared emotions and racial lines blurred. We wanted to know who was responsible and we wanted to avenge the deaths of so many.

Our emotions blinded us into believing the government when we were asked to go to war. So once again we sent sons and daughters into battle. The world stood by us and joined in the fight for retribution. Little did we know, that like Vietnam, we were being duped. The weapons of mass destruction were non-existent and we found ourselves in a quagmire that continues even today.

The event that brought us together has been forgotten. Our nation is divided more than it ever was. The world no longer looks to us for leadership. Our government is failing on so many levels. And we have a narcissistic moron in the White House.

Hatred, bigotry, racism, and division are worse than ever. Actually, that is not true. They are simply more obvious and blatant. Fueled by the rhetoric of an ignorant con man, groups and individuals who lurked in the shadows or under rocks have come out in the open. They spew hatred and division as much as they can. People are openly disrespecting each other based on skin color, accent, or for just being different.

Even the definition of what is an American patriot has dissolved into whether or not one kneels for the national anthem. A nation built on debate, compromise, and unity has become a nation of bitterly divided opinion, lack of respect for each other, and unwillingness to compromise. We have forgotten.

September 11, 2001 brought out the best in the people of this nation. It is sad that only a short time after we are seeing the worst.

 

 

Why I Play Golf

July 9, 2018

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One of the funniest comedy routines I have ever heard is Robin Williams explaining the origins of golf.  If you have never listened to it, take a moment and do, then come back. Even the name Golf is funny. Legend says that originally it meant, Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden. Some believe it came about because all the other four-letter words were taken. If you have ever played, you can relate. The actual origin is a bit more complex and likely came from a word meaning “club”. In any event, to play golf, you need a sense of humor.

There is a story about JC Penney, that when he would interview prospective managers, he would do so over lunch. If they salted their food before tasting it, he would not hire them. If I were to be in a position to hire someone, I would play a round of golf with them. I can think of nothing better as a test of one’s temperament. If you have ever watched the pros play, you have heard four-letter words even from them.

A few years back a friend and I played and being only two they put us with another player. When we got to the third hole, a long par four, it was backed up because someone had a heart attack about halfway down the fairway. The medics were there already. The guy with us starting cussing and telling the people ahead of us to go ahead and tee off, they could just play around the medics. At that point, my friend and I excused ourselves and said we would play another time. Golf can bring out the best or the worst in people.

969070_10151720270399131_1279878903_nGolf requires patience, concentration, honesty, and above all else it is humbling. Over the years I have been lucky enough to have two holes in one, but I have also caught two of my drives off the tee. The first hole in one was the first hole at Sunnyvale Gardens, a par 3, 155 yards. The second at Deep Cliff in Cupertino, a par three, 120 yards. The first drive that I caught was when the ball hit a tree and came straight back, the second hit a fence rail and came back. The point of me telling you this is golf can be rewarding and extremely frustrating.

What I like most about it, is it is an individual sport. Anyone can play it, it is a leveler of differences in age, athletic ability, and gender. People who are good at other sports can either be good or bad at golf. Like any sport, it does take practice, but even then most of us are mediocre at best. Just when you think you have mastered it, you watch your ball disappear into water, or grass so high you will never find it.

Playing eighteen holes usually takes about four hours. That is four hours of being out in fresh air, getting some exercise, and spending time with your spouse and friends. Some people think that golf is expensive. This is only partially true. Yes, you can spend a lot of money on equipment and courses like Pebble Beach, but you can also spend less than say a ski trip to the mountains. And best of all, in California at least, you can play pretty much year round.

The game is a metaphor for life. You do your best, the results are not always good, but no matter where the ball lands, you have the potential of what the next shot will bring. They say golf is eighty percent mental and twenty percent skill. Golf and life are more about one’s attitude than anything else. Both require a positive mindset if you are going to enjoy either.

I started this with Robin Williams and to end, I offer another hilarious view of golf.  The majority of us will never be at the level of Tiger Woods or any of the professional golfers, so all we can do is hope to play bad golf well. Leslie Nielsen made a film about just that.

So keep your head down, count all your strokes, and enjoy life, even if you never play the game of golf.

 

The Great Tea Adventure!

July 2, 2018

cg49VTy4hZQjJYpFj93W7RU9HJW3YQ_iwVae8j6PHTEiCGMgl2YdCF9xUfZN0DmdgRHK2w=s170To my surprise, after over fifty years of drinking coffee, I was able to kick the coffee habit and switch to green tea. Coffee used to be my kick-start every day. We had an electric pot that I could preset, so that every morning a fresh pot was ready when we got out of bed. My habit was to drink a few cups at home and continue drinking at work until 9 am.

I drank my coffee strong and black, buying ground beans that were a combination of expresso and dark Colombian roast. Guests in our home would always comment on how strong our coffee was. I tried once before to quit, but the intensity of the headaches that followed were too much, I gave in.  This time I weaned myself slowly, decreasing the amount each day until I switched completely to green tea.

5666EB8A-ABC4-E28A-4C90-94D0F94436E6-5278We buy Yogi Pure Green Tea now and I don’t miss coffee. If we go out for breakfast we bring tea bags and the temptation to have coffee has disappeared. While we originally bought our tea at places like Whole Foods, I discovered a better price through Amazon. We could buy six boxes, and being Prime members received our order in two days.

At least that was until my last order. For whatever reason, the order was filled by ProDepot and not direct from Amazon. The order was placed on June 11 and since this was not Prime, the shipping estimate was for the week of the 23rd. This was not a problem as we had a couple boxes left. The week of the 23rd came and went and still no tea. We ran out, but I luckily our local store carries it.  We then received a new estimate of delivery of July 5th.

This was nuts! I contacted the seller and said why is this taking so long, only to get a reply that said that was how I had ordered. What? My first thought was maybe they were making each teabag by hand, handcrafted especially for me in China, boxed in the Philippines, and shipped by row boat into San Francisco where the package would be transferred to a delivery service using bicycles to ride down Highway 1 to our house.

The truth became even stranger. According to the shipping information, the package of green tea was on its way via FedEx from the ProDepot facility in Michigan. Having a tracking number, I was now able to follow the progress of the package and here is where things got weird.

The package supposedly left ProDepot on June 12 but did not arrive at the first shipping point until June 22. The first shipping point was in Livonia, Michigan. Why did it take ten days to start the journey, who knows? Did shipping and receiving at ProDepot print a shipping label and forget to give it to FedEx? Did the employees decide to drink the tea and had to refill the order when the new stock arrived? Did the FedEx driver leave the package on his truck behind his seat under his winter coat he hadn’t used since the last snow? Whatever, this was not the strangest part of the tea’s journey.

The package left Livonia at 10:21 pm on the 22nd and arrived at the next stop at 1:21 am on the 23rd in Perrysburg, Ohio. Now according to Google Maps this is a one hour nineteen minute drive, it took three hours. Maybe Gilligan was driving the truck.

At 8:12 am on the 23rd the package left Perrysburg and arrived in New Berlin, Wisconsin on the 25th at 5:58 pm. I guess the drivers don’t work on the weekends as this is about a five hour drive.

Here is where things get even stranger. Originally, as I tracked this package it left Wisconsin, went back to Illinois, then to Kansas, to Texas, to New Mexico, and finally to California. Why in the world it went back to Illinois, I have no idea. Now, when I look at the history, it shows it left Wisconsin on the 26th, arriving in Sacramento, California on the 29th, and delivered to me on the 30th. Why the history changed from the day to day tracking I have no clue other than to assume it was fake news.

We did receive the package on the 30th at least. So it took nineteen days to get green tea from Michigan to California. Needless to say, I won’t be ordering from ProDepot again and if I do order from Amazon, I will make sure it is coming from them direct and not a secondary source.

What a headache! Almost makes me wish I had a cup of coffee!

Why, Why Did America Die?

June 24, 2018

It doesn’t seem that long ago
Even though it’s hard to remember now
That this country was doing okay.
Things weren’t perfect by any means
Back when I was in my teens
But things have changed since that day.

But January 2017 made us worse
That’s when we came under a curse
Fake news became a reality
Truth and facts a casualty.

I can’t believe things are this bad
To see democracy fall is so sad
One man who constantly lied
Has caused democracy to die.

Oh Why, why did America die?
Drove my Honda to the station
But gas was too high
And fascists were spewing prejudice and lies
Yelling make America white again
This was the day democracy died.

Hypocrites quote the Bible with ease
To justify positions as they please
Taking verses out of context
Ignoring all the rest
They believe God is on their side
But forget why Christ died.

Well, I know it won’t be that long
That Trump-ets will sing a different song
Cause what they fail to remember
Is we will all vote come November.

Teenagers are mobilizing in mass
Signing voters, kicking ass
Politicians no longer get a pass
Maybe democracy doesn’t have to die
But we’re still singin’

Why, why did America die?
Drove my Honda to the station
But gas was too high
And fascists were spewing prejudice and lies
Yelling make America white again
This was the day democracy died.

Now, for two years they have been in control
The hate and division are taking their toll
But, that is not how it needs to be.

The clown is sitting in the Oval Office
Orange and fat, hating all of us
But now it’s up to you and me

While he’s spending time playing golf
Taking way, way too much time off
The voters will return
His kingdom about to burn

He likes to court Putin and Un
And wants us all to march to his tune
But forgets deep inside,
We will not let democracy die
We won’t be singin’

Why, why did America die?
Drove my Honda to the station
But gas was too high
And fascists were spewing prejudice and lies
Yelling make America white again
This was the day democracy died.

He wants a parade in his honor
While affordable healthcare is a goner
But his policies will not last.

More players will refuse to stand
When the anthem is played by the band
Until prejudice is a thing of the past

The classroom was filled with shattered glass
The sound of gunfire, no one had a chance
Valentine’s Day, cancel the dance
The only safe place, out on the grass.

The NRA stood steadfast.
Gun control will never pass
We will keep our guns at all cost
No matter how many lives were lost
And the students started singin’

Why, why did America die?
Drove my Honda to the station
But gas was too high
And fascists were spewing prejudice and lies
Yelling make America white again
This was the day democracy died.

So now we’ve come to this time and place
To ask what will the next generation face
Will democracy live again.

So hickory dickory dock
There is time left on the clock
The lies will come to an end

While he hides in Mar-a-Largo
It is time for him to go
The curtain will fall on his show
Just as winter brings the snow

And while he thought he was flying high
The voters will shoot him out of the sky
And he will crash and burn and that is why
we won’t be singin’

Why, why did America die?
Drove my Honda to the station
But gas was too high
And fascists were spewing prejudice and lies
Yelling make America white again
This was the day democracy died.

The country will no longer sing the blues
and it will be the death of all the fake news
We all can laugh and play.

The people will go to the polls
And will find their names on the rolls
Democracy will be here to stay

And across the land the people cheered
No hate or prejudice appeared
Not an evil word was spoken
No one seen as just a token

And the values we hold so dear
Truth and justice once again were clear
Across the land you could hear
Democracy had not died

The people were singing’
My, my America didn’t die
Drove my Honda to the station
And gas was not high
Fascists no longer spewing hatred and lies
This will be the day
Democracy does not die!

Written by Donald W Grant
(with thanks to Don McLean)