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Our New National Anthem

February 2, 2017

Per executive order 432.1, dated February 2, 2017, I, Donald J.Trump proclaim the following as the new national anthem of the United States of America.  Heretofore to be sung at all public gatherings, sporting events, and school assemblies.

The Nationalistic Banner

Oh, hey, can you agree, that The Donald’s so bright.

And so proudly we hail at all of Trump’s streaming.

Whose broad ban and bold strokes, we promise not to fight

And under Bannon’s constant watch, we’re so gratefully beaming.

With the borders secure, the Muslims no longer here.

Giving proof thro’ the night that our flag is still pure.

O hey, does that nationalistic banner show our might

O’er the land for those like us and the home of the right.

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The New Pledge of Allegiance

January 25, 2017

The esteemed president of the United States, Donald Trump, has designated January 20 as Patriot’s Day, to hereafter be celebrated by all loyal Americans. By executive order president Trump has declared the removal of the old pledge of allegiance from all buildings, schools, and historical records. The old pledge is to be replaced by the following new alternative pledge, and is to be recited daily by all citizens of these United States.

The Pledge of Allegiance

I pledge allegiance to Donald Trump,

Ruler of what was once the United States of America,

And to the “Make America Great Again” slogan for which he stands.

Although we are a divided nation, no longer under God, split asunder by hatred and bigotry,

We have liberty for all, except Muslims, the LGBT community, immigrants,

and anyone he disagrees with,

And we have justice for all, except blacks, Hispanics, women, and reporters.

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Trying To Make Sense Out of Nonsense

January 24, 2017

nonsense

 

Regardless of one’s political bent, the proliferation of fake news is perplexing. It is hard enough to find an unbiased news source without having to vet news to determine if it is valid. How many times have you seen a post on Facebook or Twitter that goes viral, only to find it is not accurate. A great example of this was the news story about voter fraud in Ohio which was a fake news story created by Cameron Harris.

At the same time, to be accurately informed a person needs to get news from more than one source. This is probably the best defense against fake news or biased reporting. If you only  watch Fox news or only read the New York Times, the information you have will be leaning right or left, while the truth lies somewhere in between.

The media has not helped this problem. Often, a news headline will be nothing like the story that follows, or the story will not be as sensational as the headline promised. An example of this was a recent story that had headline – “Reverse mortgages cost some surviving spouses their homes”. The article then describes a woman who lost her partner and is now in danger of losing the home they shared. They were not married and the house was only in her partners name.  Our news sources have stepped away from the who, what, when, and why of solid journalism and have traded in-depth reporting for sound bites. Social media has not helped, as it has been training all of us to think in 140 character sentences or quick, short posts.

All of this has led to opinions that are uninformed or biased, or just not valid. Yet, we all have them and seem to not hesitate to express them. Again, social media has not helped, giving us not only a platform to express ourselves, but allowing us to express opinions virtually anonymously. This last factor has the negative impact of people posting some pretty vile comments. Pick a topic, post an opinion, and watch the responses. Those that agree with you will say so, and those that don’t will too. The scary thing to me is those that disagree can get mean and hateful to a degree that almost feels life-threatening.

The election of 2016 has brought all of this out in dramatic fashion. Trump supporters can’t wait to get Obama out. Clinton supporters can’t believe Trump will be our next president. Many people voted for the lessor of two evils, and many chose not to vote at all. There were Democrats and Republicans who voted for their party’s candidate reluctantly. Both sides asking, “Is this the best we can do?”

Now that Trump has actually become president things have gone from bad to worse. As if fake news was not bad enough, now we have alternate facts. Trump’s spoke-person, Conway, used this phrase in defending the new press secretary Spicer, who lied about the turnout on inauguration day. Pictures don’t lie, unless photo-shopped of course, but the ones on CNN were real. The theme of this presidency seems to be, if we don’t like the truth, we will make up alternate facts (insert lies) that keep us looking good.

David Brooks wrote a New York Times commentary and called Trump a bumbling Captain Chaos. He said, “We’ve never had a major national leader as professionally unprepared, morally compromised and temperamentally unfit as the man who took the oath on Friday”, (meaning 1/20/17). He ends by saying that “with Trump it’s not ideology, it’s the disorder.”

So with fake news, alternate facts, and an incoherent, ranting president, how do we make sense out of nonsense?  Now is the time for all of us to stay as informed as possible. Read! Question everything. Check several sources. Do as a newspaper would do and get at least two verifiable sources before believing information. Read and listen to opinions that differ from your own, try and understand where someone who disagrees with you might be coming from. Don’t retweet or repost anything without checking it out.

Challenge falsehoods, counter with facts. Hold our elected officials accountable. I find it interesting that with 100 senators and 435 representatives, we only hear from a few on any given issue. There is an old saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”. We need to be squeaky wheels.

If we fail to keep the nonsense separated from sense we will fall into the trap that George Orwell spoke of in the novel 1984. (Interesting that January 21st was the anniversary of his death).

“The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command….And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed – if all records told the same tale – then the lie passed into history and became truth.”

On The Eve of Destruction

January 19, 2017

Twas the night before the inauguration, and in almost every house
People were asking themselves, “Who elected this louse?”
Those who had been insured through Obamacare
Were worried it would no longer be there.

The children were terrified, their parents afraid,
Bills were piling up, there were debts to be paid.
They knew the rich would be the only ones to see,
The tax breaks that had been promised to you and to me.

Everyone began to realize the lies that had been told,
A bill of goods we all had been sold.
There was never an intention of draining the swamp,
The “make us great” had all been pomp.

The reigns were being passed from one with class
To a narcissist who is totally crass.
A misogynist, a con-man, a bore,
One who may cause a nuclear war.

The furhrer had gathered his cabinet,
Although they hadn’t been approved just yet.
There was Tillerson, Zinke and Sessions.
Chao, Puzder and Carson,
Mnuchin, Shulkin, and McMahon,
Pruitt, Mulvaney, and Haley,
And let us not forget who brings up the rear,
Trade representative, Robert Lighthizer.

So as darkness fell awaiting the dawn.
We all laid awake, not even a yawn.
The next four years were full of doubt,
A buffoon is our president, only one way out.

So prayers are lifted hoping to God to reach,
Our only hope is for Congress to impeach.
So to all on the left or the right,
Sleep well, have a good night!

Abnormal Can Never Be Normal

December 16, 2016

abnormal-psychology-online

 

The dictionary defines abnormal as, “deviating from what is normal or usual, typically in a way that is undesirable or worrying”.  If there is anything that can be said about the 2016 election and post election, it is that it has been abnormal.

Beginning with Trump becoming the Republican nominee, to the surprise of just about everyone, to him becoming the president-elect, as an even bigger surprise, nothing about any part of the election has been normal.

Debates, normally designed to reveal a candidate’s position on issues, became displays of inane rhetoric. Media coverage, normally digging into a candidate’s qualifications, became simple reports of outlandish statements and tweet analysis. A voter’s choice, normally between qualified candidates, became the choice between two evils: the devil you know, or the one you don’t.

In the introduction the the Federalist Papers, published in 1788, Alexander Hamilton wrote:

“It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force. If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.”

While Hamilton was talking about whether or not the States should ratify the new Constitution, the quote can be applied to our current situation. Now that the results are in, the question for us is whether or not we are going to allow things abnormal to become normal.  One of the most troubling issues is the seemingly “normalization” of Trump.

Degrading women is abnormal. To set aside remarks as “locker talk”, to say “get over it”, is not normal. An example is being set that is to the detriment of not only women, but society as a whole.

Mocking the handicapped is abnormal. Not only that, it shows an ignorance and lack of humanity of anyone who engages in it. To let it slide is inexcusable.

Categorizing anyone, based on race or religion, as criminal or un-American is abnormal. The fundamental rights of just being human, have been attacked and denigrated.

Ignoring the truth, by making false statements, is abnormal. The rise of fake news is bad enough, but when supporters don’t care if a candidate blatantly lies it’s deplorable.

To believe himself to be smarter than our intelligence services and not needing their expertise is abnormal. This is exactly how Bin Laden was able to attack us, by George W. Bush ignoring intelligent experts.

For a foreign government to interfere in any way in our electoral process is abnormal. Yet, there are those who either deny it or just say “let us move on, we are past that”. Not only is it an act of war, but is solid grounds for dismissing any person involved (see Federalist Paper #68).

Anyone of these are unacceptable in a country that prides itself on freedom, liberty, and justice for all. But to see all of them becoming normal is not only extraordinarily worrisome but undesirable to the max.

A portion of the nation has elected a man who by all accounts, including the above, is abnormal. What is scary to me, is the attempt by so many to normalize him.

Opponents who once described Trump as unfit, a joke, are now groveling at his feet. A media that should be digging deep into so many reasons Trump is a joke, are hovering in a corner afraid to challenge him (although that may be changing). Democrats and Republicans are playing a wait-and-see game, when they should be demanding accountability for his actions, even before he takes office. Leaders in the tech industry are meeting to “build a bridge” with him. Unfortunately that will be a one way road going in his direction only.

It is normal for a candidate to make promises he/she may not be able to keep. It is abnormal to completely back pedal on all one’s promises by simply saying, “That was for show”. He’s making fools of the American people.

This is not about the election per se, nor the electoral process, nor being Democrat, Republican, or any political affiliation. It is about what we as a nation are going to consider normal. What we want our nation to stand for. It is about whether we will remain silent to the detriment of the very foundation on which this country was built and allow abnormal to become normal.

One last thought:

When I was in the military we had to follow the chain of command. We had to memorize the chain and obey orders from any superior. We were taught to salute any officer above us, not the man/woman but the insignia on their shoulder. This was and is the norm in the military, to respect the authority of the position. Thankfully, I am no longer in the military. The Commander-In-Chief is at the top of that chain. The one about to take that position does not have my respect nor am I going to normalize him and address him as president. Abnormal will never be normal.

 

High Treason

November 20, 2016

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This election has been one of the most divisive in our nation’s history. Yet, history tells us some have been worse as far as rhetoric and consequences (the election of 1828 has been labeled the worst).  On the surface, the battle between Trump and Clinton was one of Republican vs Democrat. Scratch just a bit and it is easy to see Clinton lost because she failed to address middle America. It is easy to forget as a Californian, how different a large part of the country feels about the government. When you have lost your job and your family, friends, and town are all struggling, and you blame the government, you are ready to vote for something different. States who in the past voted Democrat, voted Republican.

All of this would be fine if the winning candidate had been just about anybody but Trump. Because of his campaign rhetoric, he exposed the dormant hatred, racism, and bigotry that has always existed, but is now legitimized. The race for the oval office became a vote for the soul of America. Who are we as a nation?, became the question that needed to be answered. The answer goes against what this nation has always been, not only to its citizens but to the rest of the world.

The mantra today is “the election is over, let us unite and move on”. Leonard Pitts Jr. in his column on 11/15/16 responded to this call better than I ever could. As he says, if this were just about politics, then maybe we could unite and move on, but it is not.  To quote the last part of his column, “It’s time the majority that believes in a progressive, inclusive and compassionate America did more than just tweet about it. Nothing wrong with tweeting, but forces of exclusion, hatred and rage have overtaken the highest office in the land, so it’s also time for some old school activism. Time to march. Time to assail lawmakers. Time to boycott. Time to stand and be counted. Enough is enough. Let’s take our country back.”

While I agree with what Leonard said, to me many who voted, or failed to vote, undermined the country. In my mind they committed high treason.

If you are black and voted for him not her, you are a traitor.

If you are Latino and voted for him not her, you are a traitor.

If you are female and voted for him not her, you are a traitor.

If you did not vote for him or for her, you are a traitor.

If you did not vote at all, you are a coward.

If you are a Christian and voted for him not her, you are a hypocrite.

Black is a traitor to all who have gone before, who suffered to fight for civil rights, for justice, to Rosa Parks who stood her ground. You have sent yourself to the back of the bus.

Latino is a traitor to all their countrymen, so easily labeled rapists, murderers, criminals. To those who wish a wall will never be built you have told them, “I have mine, too bad for you, amigo.”

Female is a traitor to all who have gone before, the women that fought for your right to cast your ballot, the women who fought for your right to choose. The women who refused to be less, refuse to give up their dignity. You have sent yourself back to the kitchen.

The voter of neither him nor her is a traitor, your ballot was wasted, you really voted for him, your moral stance was for naught, morality lost. Your message is silenced.

The non-voter is a coward, how dare you sit on your ass, the nation deserves more, the founding fathers are appalled, you gave up your right to be called an American.

Christians are hypocrites, for you have denied Christ. He loves, you hate. You have crucified Him again. You quote His Word, His Word quotes back, “Jesus wept.”

Treason is defined as betraying one’s country, but it is also betraying someone or something. Sadly, if you are in one of the above categories, you have also betrayed yourself.

America: On The High Road or Making A U-Turn

October 30, 2016

highroadMy first encounter with politics was in 1960. Kennedy was running against Nixon and I was in eighth grade.  We were assigned a candidate, had to watch the debates and write a report. Mine was Nixon. The thing I remember most was the controversy of Kennedy being Catholic. The big question was, would he abide by the constitution or take directions from the Pope?

Then in 1964, my senior year of high school, Goldwater ran against Johnson. I spent many a night in our local Sambo’s  (yes, it was a real place – kind of a Denny’s) arguing politics with a few friends. Most of the country was afraid of what Goldwater was saying, ironically much of what he spouted came true. Especially about Vietnam.

In 1968, when Nixon beat Humphrey, I was in the army on a Nike missile base outside of Philadelphia. What a year that was – Martin Luther King had been shot in April, Robert Kennedy in June, and George Wallace was a strong third party candidate. Vietnam was hot, the civil rights movement was struggling, and the Democratic convention was marred by riots. It was interesting that Nixon ran as the “law and order” candidate.

Over the years I have seen and heard presidential candidates from all sides as they try to win over the people of this country. What a president can do, or not, depends a great deal on his/her relationship to Congress. It seems that over the last twenty years there has been more division than cooperation.

This election is the most divisive of my life time. Not so much Republican versus Democrat, but who we are as a nation. This election can define what it means to be an American, what America stands for, and what lies ahead for this country. I do not recall any other election that had the potential of destroying the foundation on which this nation was built.

We have been, and hopefully will continue to be, a diverse nation. Yes, there have been times when groups were segregated, minorities maligned, those different persecuted. But, while some of that exists, and probably will as long as humans do, overall we have moved past those divisions and coexist as Americans.

We, as I love to do, can argue viewpoints, disagreeing on issues, but then turn and work side by side to accomplish that which needs to be done. This is one of the things that has kept America strong.

Our rights, regardless of gender, religion, sexual orientation, race, or politics are protected in word and the more diverse we become, the more we all need to see that protection is ensured in reality and does not erode.

This country has a lot of issues. Issues that need to be intelligently discussed and solved. But like the song says, “if everybody is talking and no one is listening”, solutions are impossible.

For me this election comes down to a choice. Continue to work on issues together, respect each of our differences, protect individual rights, and take the high road. Or, make a u-turn and give in to bigotry, hate, fear, divisiveness, essentially erasing all that has made this country great.

And here is the crux of it all. No matter what you think, our next president will either be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. I know there are other people running that seem more appealing to some and I agree the top choices may not be the best. I understand not voting for either, or even not voting is sending a message. The truth, however, is that this race is closer than anyone could have predicted. If this nation is to take the high road then Trump needs to be defeated. A vote for anyone other than Clinton, makes that too much of a possibility  to even think about.

When all is said and done, I hope we will be on the high road. U-turns never get us ahead.