Looking For America (Part 5 of 5): Turning things around

America hasn’t lost its greatness.  Don’t let any grown child sitting in a position of power tell you otherwise.

America isn’t perfect.  It has room to be greater.  But if the last general election and its results have shown us anything, it’s that we’re moving in the wrong direction.

Each one of us has a responsibility in that movement toward righting this ship we call America.  How do we do that?

  • ENOUGH WITH THE APATHY — Yes, politics can be frustrating.  Yes, we feel that our representatives don’t listen to us, and we feel that way for good reason when town halls are held and people demand answers to their questions and they get roundabout answers, if those representatives bother to show up at all; or calls are made to lawmakers’ offices and answering systems inform people that mailboxes are full, or their office people take combative stances; or emails and mailed letters go unanswered or at best are answered with canned responses.  But that’s no reason to give up, it’s reason to fight harder.  We may not be in this position if more registered voters — especially in key states — had paid enough attention, not gotten too comfortable with poll numbers, not taken the easy way out by throwing up their hands and asking “what does it matter when they all stink?” during the last general election.  Which means they didn’t show up to vote at all.
  • ENOUGH WITH THE SHENANIGANS — I voted for Hillary Clinton.  But I wasn’t comfortable with that choice.  And, regardless of what Hillary supporters have said to me and others like me who actually preferred Bernie Sanders, it had nothing to do with her gender.  If Elizabeth Warren had been the candidate, I would have whooped and hollered and cast my vote readily for her.  I wasn’t comfortable with the choice of Hillary because I wasn’t comfortable with how the Democratic Party conducted its primaries right up to the convention.  This “superdelegate” farce has got to go.  Thankfully, the DNC chair during the primaries is no longer there, but is the person in that place up to the task?  Put the best candidates out there and let the people decide, not some “superdelegates.”  Make the vote truly represent the voice of the people, make it fair.
  • SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES, PLEASE LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE AND GET CORPORATE MONEY OUT OF POLITICS — We know how attractive all that campaign money from organizations other than your electorate can be, but seriously.  Click here to see just how staggering contributions can be for just one senator, Utah Republican Orrin Hatch, and why it should come as no surprise that his constituents really don’t mean all that much to him, except when it comes to election time.
  • AS CITIZENS, IF WE’RE GOING TO DEBATE POINTS WITH EACH OTHER, COME WELL-ARMED WITH FACTS INSTEAD OF FEELINGS — If we ever want to have that “civil discussion” we keep hearing about on the issues that face us, it does no good to ask the person on the other side for information, to ask for unbiased links to articles or any publications to back up their opinions, and have it end up with “it’s just a feeling I have,” or “I know the truth when I see things around me in everyday life,” leading to frustration which inevitably leads to personal insults.  If I had $10 for every time I saw or had someone say in any way, “If you don’t like it here then leave,” then I could probably afford to leave.  But, as it stands, we also won’t get to the point of having any civil discourse until we …
  • STEP OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE, TURN OFF RUSH LIMBAUGH AND HANNITY AND ALEX JONES, QUESTION AT LEAST IN YOUR OWN MIND WHAT YOUR FAVORITE MEDIA OUTLET FOR NEWS AND INFORMATION IS TELLING YOU — And, yes, that includes the more liberal side too.  Funny thing is, though, when I question the more liberal side and do my own research, it generally proves what I’m told on the more liberal side.  Not always, but often enough.
  • WHAT CAN WE DO TO MAKE OUR PRESENCE KNOWN AND MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE, SOMETHING REALLY BIG? — A good friend of mine has suggested more than once that we all hop in some mode of transportation and make our way at a specific date and time and a specific location to Washington, D.C.  Every one of us who’s grown tired and disgusted by “politics as usual,” every one of us who’s concerned in any way, just all get together and raise our voices and say to those who are supposed to represent us, “Do your job!!!  Listen to us!!!  Enough of the games already!!!  Enough!!!”  How could they ignore us then?  If that were possible, I’d be there in a heartbeat.  Until that can happen …
  • PAY ATTENTION, GET INVOLVED, AND VOTE FOR WHAT’S RIGHT FOR EVERYONE IN AMERICA — Not just what’s right for you and your beliefs on guns or abortion or sexual orientation or religion or nationalities or race, etc.  What’s right for everyone as citizens of America, as a whole.  After all …

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men (and women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Part 1: It’s getting … tiresome

Part 2: A Vision of America

Part 3: Where America Is At Now

Part 4: The Fakeness of America

Part 5: Turning Things Around

Looking For America (Part 4 of 5): The ‘fakeness’ of America

Don’t tell me about “fake news.”  Please don’t try and convince me what fake news is.  I’ve seen it too long.

Those tabloids you see lining the aisles of the checkout stands at stores, with huge-font headlines about Bat Boy, Bigfoot, space aliens meeting with Newt Gingrich, Dick Cheney being a robot … that’s fake news.  Recognize it as such.  Please.

Alex Jones and InfoWars … Breitbart … Rush Limbaugh … Sean Hannity … Laura Ingraham … Drudge Report … Michael Savage … nothing journalistic about any of them and their ilk.  Each of them, opinionated blowhards who rake in too much money by spreading nonsense too many people eat up, too easily tempted and too easily convinced that what they’re hearing just has to be true without lifting a finger in an internet search to see whether it is indeed factual.  Alex Jones can spout all kinds of conspiracy theories about all kinds of garbage, and he’ll say over and over that he’s “seen the white papers” that back up his claims.  When has he ever produced those “white papers” for closer inspection by his gullible fans?

Here’s what’s not “fake news.”  It’s the work that’s done by people at newspapers large and small, television stations large and small, radio stations large and small, who put aside biases and ask honest questions seeking information from all sides of a story so they can present all sides to the public.  It’s a way of getting at this thing called the truth.

Such a thing does exist.

I used to be one of those people who made a modest living as a journalist asking questions to those on all sides of a story.  I even discovered a bullet hole in the side of a red Ford Mustang I once owned around the time I was asking questions, and I tend to think some people didn’t like the questions I was asking.  I was getting too close to the truth.

Maybe someone wanted to scare me off.  Instead, I kept asking questions.

So you could definitely say it irritates me to no end when the so-called President of the United States throws more credibility to the Alex Joneses and Breitbarts of the world and calls bonafide outlets practicing the craft of asking questions and reporting their findings as “fake news.”  All because they’re getting at facts, getting at truth, and he doesn’t like it.

Instead of grabbing a gun and shooting at a reporter’s car, he takes old video from his days as just a reality TV star, from a performance in which he faked taking down the head honcho of one of the fake wrestling organizations (whose wife is now in charge of the Small Business Administration), has someone superimpose the CNN logo over the honcho’s face, and posts it on Twitter.

And his followers think he’s so tough.

Instead of grabbing a gun and shooting at a reporter’s car, he just comes out and calls legitimate journalists the “enemy of the people.”

And his followers believe him.

This is the so-called President of the United States.  Emphasis on so-called.

Trump supporters whine and moan about anonymous sources in reports from major outlets such as The New York Times or The Washington Post when it comes to information presented on any Trump campaign ties to Russia.  Anonymous sources have been around for many, many years, and they stay anonymous for valid reasons.  There’s nothing criminal about it.  It’s not an act of treason.

If the use of anonymous sources was criminal, then we owe Richard Nixon an apology for sullying his image and former FBI special agent Mark Felt — known during and for a long time after the Watergate years as the anonymous source “Deep Throat” — should be posthumously executed.

Are we okay with the dirty tricks Nixon played?  If not, then why hang the media out to dry for using anonymous sources in trying to dig up information that could make Nixon’s actions look like nothing more than a third-rate bungled burglary?

CLICK: A Look At Journalists’ Use of Anonymous Sources

The major media has some serious blame to share in this mess emanating from the White House or Mar-a-Lago or wherever Trump happens to open up that spoiled, childish brain of his in order to share his latest dim-witted and warped thoughts.  On the television side, Trump can’t say that he was treated unfairly during the campaign.  If anything, he was given gifts that kept on giving in terms of free air time and the ratings that can come from having a talkative sociopath appear or phone in.

Among the worst offenders from that time:  Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski from the Morning Joe show on MSNBC.  I’d like to say I have more sympathy for those two after the Twitter attacks the immature so-called POTUS leveled at them on Twitter recently, but they helped create the monster.

Joe and Mika didn’t present “fake news.”  They presented an open microphone and cameras and phone lines to an outright fool, a bully, someone historically unfit to claim the title of POTUS.  They did it for ratings, not the truth.

We’re paying for it now.  This isn’t how you make America … greater.  Some of the greatest freedoms we have come through the First Amendment, including freedom of speech and freedom of the press.  If you look carefully lately, you can see from Trump and his people ways in which that freedom is being threatened.

CLICK: As White House Cracks Down on Press, Calls Grow for Journalists to Fight Back

That’s how we’re going to make America … greater?

Search out the truth.  Reject the real fakery.  As citizens, do the job that citizens need to do to put feelings and ideologies aside and seek out the truth.

America demands it.  America requires it.  America deserves it.

Part 1: It’s getting … tiresome

Part 2: A Vision of America

Part 3: Where America Is At Now

Part 4: The Fakeness of America

Part 5: Turning Things Around

Looking For America (Part 3 of 5): Where America is at now

Interviewer: What message would you have for the viewers of this film who will loathe you when the credits roll?

Roger Stone: I revel in your hatred, because if I weren’t effective you wouldn’t hate me.

Roger Stone (Image via “Get Me Roger Stone”)

And with those words, the longtime Republican strategist, lobbyist, Richard Nixon “dirty trickster,” and the man who helped propel Donald J. Trump into the White House — Roger Stone — looks out the window in the back seat of a limousine, a scowl on his face, and the closing credits roll on the Netflix documentary “Get Me Roger Stone.”

I watched this documentary a few weeks ago.  I had to break my viewing into a couple of chunks.  Never before has the experience of watching a documentary made me feel nauseous.  This one did.  It nauseated me because the thought struck me: This is what America is turning into, right in front of our eyes.  And too many people are fine with that.

Stone is an egomaniac.  He is without caring, without compassion.  He is only in it to win, to advance himself and his “partners in crime,” which includes time spent lobbying for foreign nations and their leaders with less-than-savory reputations.

Roger Stone doesn’t care.  He’s got what he wants.  He’s been rewarded for helping to pull the wool over the eyes of millions of people who gave Donald J. Trump an Electoral College victory.

Too many people out there are still okay with that.  Too many people think the so-called President of the United States is doing a great job, yet when you ask for examples of what he’s done aside from pushing out executive orders not meant for the betterment of America but to bitterly tear apart the legacy of the previous President, and you push for facts instead of feelings, the best you’ll get in response is “yeah, but Hillary …” or “yeah, but Obama …”

Where are all the coal jobs that were promised?  Not coming back.  What about all those jobs at the Carrier plant in Indiana that Trump said he saved before he was even sworn in?  They’re still leaving.

Any jobs being created right now are coming as a result of the previous President’s policies, because that’s how the transition of power works.  Trump will never tell you that, but too many will believe him when he says it’s all because of him.

And what about that “repealing and replacing” of the Affordable Care Act?  It wasn’t that long ago that Sunday morning news programs had commercials from AARP reminding us with words coming from Trump’s own mouth on the campaign trail that things like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security wouldn’t be touched.  Those ads have gone away, because Trump made a promise he couldn’t keep, because our lawmakers are coming up with a plan to screw over average Americans, from the oldest to the youngest.

Like I told a relative of mine a couple of days after the election, a relative who voted for Trump:  “You bought yourself a lemon.”

Let’s face it, we have a Roger Stone protege in office.  We also have a Roy Cohn protege in office.  Remember Roy Cohn?

(Warning: The following video contains brief crude language.)

So, here we have an egomaniacal, sociopathic influencer helping to push an egomaniacal sociopath into the White House, and they both looked up to a weasel in the form of Roy Cohn.

That’s where America is at.  How comforting is that?

But let’s go beyond Stone and Trump and their heroes (aside from themselves).  Where are we at when it comes to representation in the halls of Congress?

For so long, American citizens have felt a disconnect with those who represent them in the House and Senate.  Trump campaigned on “draining the swamp.”  But out of the last election, the only result we’ve seen is choosing which alligators inhabit the swamp, and those alligators only have sharper teeth.

We’re not represented as American citizens any more.  I’ve tried calling the offices of Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch a few times.  On two occasions I managed to get through to live people, asking about the last Supreme Court vacancy and the lack of hearings on a health care coverage bill.  Each time, Hatch’s people have refused to provide information that I’ve asked for and invited me to look it up myself.  Each time it’s ended up with his people arguing my points.  The last time, the “scheduler” I talked to audibly sighed like she was disgusted as I was giving my views.

That’s not listening and thinking about what I have to say.  Inviting me to look up information on Hatch’s website (where I didn’t find it) about Senate health care hearings isn’t about his people doing the jobs that they’re paid to do by taxpayers, it’s inviting taxpayers to do their jobs for them.

The way it stands now, we are not represented in Congress, at least not by the majority and there are still too many questions about the minority party’s motives as well.  We keep sending people to office who represent companies giving to their campaign war chests to represent their interests more than they represent citizens.  Is that how it’s supposed to be?

Where is America at right now?  It’s like we’re living in a three-ring circus, and Donald J. Trump is the ringmaster.

If this circus gets any bigger, a fourth ring will be required.

Part 1: It’s getting … tiresome

Part 2: A Vision of America

Part 3: Where America Is At Now

Part 4: The Fakeness of America

Part 5: Turning Things Around

Looking For America (Part 2 of 5): A vision of America

My vision of what America is and should be all about was formed in my childhood years.

I’d go to school and we’d stand in the classroom, face an American flag, put our hands over our hearts, and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  We’d have pictures of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln framed and hanging from the walls to remind us of where we came from.

I came from a small town, in rural America, that part of the country that’s truly “fly-over country.”  And there’s a part of that which will always be with me, no matter where I am.

In my formative years, I believed in America, with every fiber of my being.  I believed in what it stood for — freedom, equality, our voices meaning something to those who were supposed to represent us, the Statue of Liberty welcoming everyone from every nation and every walk of life, a sense of compassion.  I believed in that thing called the American Dream.

I believed in hard work, and being compensated fairly for that work.  I’d spend childhood years driving a Ford tractor pulling a trailer through a field, hauling irrigation pipe, turning bales of hay so they could be picked up by newfangled machinery and stacked neatly, being rewarded with a cold drink of tapped well water from an old glass A&W root beer jug covered in burlap, stuck in a cold stream to keep it ultimately refreshing on a hot summer day, watching my grandfather resting on the ground in the shade of an International pickup truck after he’d finished smoking some hand-rolled cigarettes.

As my grandfather slept for a bit during some break time, I’d dream of the future.

The work included climbing the stairs of a milking shed to the top, shoveling grain into a barrel with the grain being distributed below into bins for dairy cows being milked in the parlor.  In the heat of summer days, roasting under a metal roof, the work was far from easy.  But it had to be done.

My grandparents wouldn’t put up with slacking off.  I learned about earning your keep early in life.

On the week of July 4th, my hometown threw quite a party.  Salmon River Days.  Stores would display their wares on the sidewalks all along Main Street.  There were parades, patriotic music, motocross races on Dump Hill outside of town, and fireworks that most small towns could only dream about because our high school band teacher was very serious when it came to pyrotechnics.

Yep, I’ve got stars and stripes and red, white and blue coursing through my veins.  I’ve believed in what I believed to be American values of treating others how we’d want to be treated my entire life.

I haven’t always been perfect in that, but any mistakes I’ve made I ended up learning from.

In later years, after my grandfather had passed and my grandmother was still alive, I’d see at least one con man calling himself a politician preying on my grandmother’s conservative beliefs.  I could see his games, but she couldn’t.  I don’t know how much monetarily she’d bought into it, but I felt sorry for her.  She bought into “patriot games.”  That con man ended up going to prison for defrauding two Idaho banks and at least 100 individuals in a $30 million investment scheme.  

My grandmother was among the people who helped instill values into me that were priceless — honesty, compassion, trusting to a fault, believing that everyone’s equal, regardless of religion or whatever.  I saw the values of America.

Where are those values today?

Part 1: It’s getting … tiresome

Part 2: A Vision of America

Part 3: Where America Is At Now

Part 4: The Fakeness of America

Part 5: Turning Things Around

Looking For America (Part 1 of 5): It’s getting … tiresome

I’m tired.

This grand American experiment is 241 years young now.  It’s been quite a struggle to build it up, right from the beginning.  Wars have been fought to buy and hold on to a nation’s independence, to make men and women free no matter the color of their skin, to look upon each other as being equal.  That’s among the truths that are supposed to be self-evident.

It wasn’t always evident even among America’s founders, some of whom had slaves of their own.  And years would pass before that practice was abolished.  And many more years would pass and too many lives would be lost before a thing called the Civil Rights Act was passed.

Still, does that mean as much today as it did back in 1964?  The struggle within this country for true civil rights goes on.

It goes on when the lives of blacks are lost during a traffic stop, when a black man tells a police officer he has a weapon not as a threat but as a precaution and yet he loses his life anyway, yet white men can carry around semi-automatic weapons and actually act in a threatening manner, and they are negotiated with instead of being shot.  And the movement that says black lives matter is still mocked by some.

It goes on in the continuous struggle over sexual orientation, even after the Supreme Court settles the issue.

It goes on over religion, with an entire belief system being condemned because of the radical ideology and violent actions of certain groups claiming to represent that otherwise much larger peaceful group of believers, and we hear the shouts of “Bomb ’em all!”

It goes on over gender.  It goes on when the vast majority of women aren’t paid on equal levels as men in the workplace for equal work.  It goes on when the debate over what a woman chooses to do with her own body rages on, even after the Supreme Court settles the issue.  It goes on when misogyny goes on at the highest levels of the land, yet even women of a certain ideological bent somehow see fit to defend it when it happens.

I’m tired of it.  Are we a people who believe we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness?  Or do we just want to force-feed a particular belief system on everyone based on our particular beliefs, and if someone doesn’t go along with our beliefs, then — by God — they can just pack up and leave or die.

Is it better to force-feed our beliefs on those who disagree with us, no matter what the highest court in the land says, or is it better to work out our differences in the halls of Congress, no matter how long it takes?

I’m tired of believing that it’s possible to work out differences that way.

I’m tired, and yet I still hold out hope.

I don’t want to believe that all the blood that’s been shed and all the lives that have been lost over the past 241 years of American history in order to make a more perfect union has been shed for nothing.  I still believe there can be a more perfect union, but in order to make that happen we can’t be afraid of progress.

I believe in progress.  I believe in moving forward, not backward.  I believe we are still a great nation, but we can be greater still.  Whether that happens is up to us as a people.  We have to open our minds, to each other and the possibilities that are in front of us.

I’m tired.  I’m getting more weary by the day.  I’m looking for America.  I’m looking for the America that I’ve believed in for a long time.

How about you?

Part 1: It’s getting … tiresome

Part 2: A Vision of America

Part 3: Where America Is At Now

Part 4: The Fakeness of America

Part 5: Turning Things Around

Looking For America: A special July 4th message

I haven’t been saying nearly as much lately as what I’ve been thinking.  Life tends to get in the way when all you’re trying to do is survive.

The last time I published anything in this blog was President’s Day.  And that’s way too long when it comes to the thoughts that have crossed my mind and what’s been happening in our American lives since then.

My lovely wife might say that I’ve been too focused lately on worldly things and current events.  But to me, there needs to be a balance between focusing on what’s happening around us in the present tense and what we need to be watchful of in a more spiritual sense — what’s happening now, because if we don’t pay attention to what’s happening now, we will be deceived in a spiritual sense.

Deception is all around us.  The ones who pay attention to and really think about what’s happening will come out just fine.  The ones who fall into “the trap” of deception that is way too prevalent now will be in trouble.

With the week surrounding America’s Independence Day upon us, I’m taking some time to put together a series of five articles starting July 3 that take a look at where we as a nation were meant to be, where we are, and where we should be if we are going  to live up to where America was designed by the founding fathers.

I encourage you to follow all five parts of my upcoming 4th of July week series.  Stay tuned. Believe what you want to believe. All I’m offering is food for thought — some individual choice.

Part 1: Tired of It All

Part 2: Vision of America

Part 3: Where America Is At Now

Part 4: The Fakeness of America

Part 5: Turning Things Around

Happy Presidents’ Day, right?

Presidents’ Day has taken a hit.  It’s taken a big hit.  How do we celebrate it now without the guy sitting at the desk in the Oval Office for the past month thinking it’s all just about him and him alone, as he’s prone to do?

argumentWe could engage in arguments over social media with supporters of the guy at the desk.  Unfortunately, no matter how many well-researched facts and articles and informative charts we present, no matter how balanced and impartially we try to present ourselves, we end up looking like dogs chasing their tails.

We can point to conflicts of interest in business dealings, we can point to the guy’s close ties to Russia and the fact that Russian officials admitted to communications with the guy’s people during the campaign, we can point out Cabinet appointees’ lack of experience in the areas they’re supposed to lead, we can point to areas where actions appear to be or are outright ruled to be unconstitutional or illegal, and all too often the responses to the well-thought-out and valid, not always barbed points we make end up in one of a few different ways:

  • “Yeah, but Obama …”
  • “Yeah, but Hillary …”
  • “It’s all fake news.”
  • Personal slams.
  • Etc.
  • Etc.
  • Etc.

Happy Presidents’ Day, right?

rushmoreWhat’s happened to the party of Lincoln, the President who brought us a movement meant to point us in the direction of freedom and liberty for all?

What’s happened to the party of Teddy Roosevelt, who worked to fight corruption, political machines and monopolies as hard as he led the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill?

What’s happened to the party of Dwight Eisenhower, who led during a time of prosperity when taxes on the wealthy were much higher and as he stepped away he warned against a thing called the military-industrial complex, who opposed McCarthyism, continued New Deal agencies and expanded Social Security?

For that matter, what’s happened to the party of Richard Nixon, who wasn’t exactly known as the straightest of shooters but who at least saw fit to start something called the Environmental Protection Agency, only to see it being set up to be gutted today?  And what’s happened to the party of Ronald Reagan, who stood so firmly against the Soviet Union only to see renewed displays of authoritarianism in present day Russia seemingly met with games of patty-cake?

What’s happened to the moderate conservatives?  The ones we may not have agreed with on everything, but we could at least find some common ground by sitting down and talking together in a reasonable fashion?  They’re out there, and now more than ever they need to step up, speak out, and be heard over the din of those who prefer their conservatism in loud and unreasonable doses from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Alex Jones, and anyone associated with Breitbart, to name just a few.

Just how many people did the guy bring to the White House from Breitbart as advisors anyway?
And when the guy holds a press conference and looks for “friendly questions” from the likes of Breitbart, you have to know the state of things in this White House.

Happy Presidents’ Day, right?

We could celebrate Presidents’ Day by hopping on social media and engaging in useless arguments with supporters of the guy.  Or we could think about doing something more positive, more constructive.  We could search out any of a number of grassroots organizations that are truly “grassroots” and not some big bankrolled campaign like the Tea Party with its links to Americans For Prosperity and Freedomworks, well funded by the Koch brothers.

indivisibleAs for me, I’ve been looking into the Indivisible movement.  I’ve gone so far as to attend the first meeting of Utah Indivisible over this weekend, a gathering that was packed with over 300 attendees of all ages, and I think it’s a safe bet that it wasn’t just filled up with liberals.  They didn’t check party affiliation, but people were urged to list what congressional district they lived in.  Yes, there are conservatives who are genuinely troubled by what they see coming out of the White House and beyond over the past month of the guy’s presidency.  And they’re not too proud to join in raising voices and flooding the mail bags destined for their local congressional leaders, even if it means opposing someone representing their own chosen party.

That’s how it needs to be.  Country over political party.

The Utah Indivisible meeting didn’t feature anything in the way of people shouting over each other.  It was filled with ideas, concerns, suggestions, possible solutions, ways to work together as citizens to fight this trend of lawmakers ignoring the phone calls and letters and attempts at face-to-face visits from constituents.  It featured people saying that they’d never truly been politically active before, but they are now because of their concern for the direction their country’s taking.

townhallWhat it didn’t feature was someone with deep pockets willing to dig far into their bank account to pay the attendees to protest, as some congressional leaders who’ve tasted the wrath of their constituents at town hall meetings recently have sadly and wrongfully suggested.

George Soros was not in attendance.

Yeah, we can celebrate this Presidents’ Day by hopping on social media and arguing with the Breitbart and InfoWars fans.  But where does that get us in the long run?  And we can expect a long haul.

We need to stand united, as liberals and conservatives and independents and other political flavors to find a strong, sustained voice.  Emphasis on sustained.

Happy Presidents’ Day, right?

Reflections on a bad dream

There are so many thoughts running through my mind after seeing Donald Trump elected as the 45th President of the United States, I don’t know where to begin.  Sometimes I feel nauseated just thinking about it.

trump-speechRight now as I write this is one of those times.  But that’s just one of many negative adjectives that describe the feelings I’m going through.

I’ve felt shocked.  Stunned.  Disgusted.  Amazed.  Deeply saddened.  Betrayed.  Angry as I can be.  Several hours after the victor was announced in the wee hours Wednesday morning, I went to a grocery store to buy a few things we needed.  Just before approaching the cashier to pay for the items, I prepared myself for a simple question that the cashier might ask.  I gave it some thought and came up with a couple of simple words close to what Read more

Oh, someone, please stop this crazy ride! I wanna get off!!!

You know the feeling, right?  You’re on some crazy carnival ride that’s twisty and turny with lots of ups and downs and loop de loops, putting you upside down and sideways.  The kind of ride where you get so dizzy and disoriented, you just feel a nearly overwhelming need to upchuck.

coasterSometimes you’ll laugh your behind off.  Other times you’re teetering on the edge of being overwhelmed with fear.

The 2016 election’s been a lot like one of those crazy carnival rides.  It’s at least promising to stay that way right up to the time winners are declared on Tuesday night, and the way just the presidential race has gone, the ride might not even stop then.

After all, one orangeish presidential contender even said for the world to see that he’d keep people guessing on whether he’d concede if he didn’t come out ahead.

Oh, someone, please, for the love of all that’s good and decent and holy, for cryin’ out loud, stop this crazy ride! I wanna get off now!!! Enough!  Or I’m gonna hurl!

My lovely wife and I have already done our civic duty.  We sat down on the same day in the comfort of our couch with black ink pens in hand and filled out our mail-in ballots.

Into the mailbox our ballots go. (Photo By John G. Miller)
Into the mailbox our ballots go. (Photo By John G. Miller)

The next day, during some break time from my job, I found a convenient U.S. Postal Service mailbox and dropped those ballots in, with a feeling of accomplishment and pride.  Just a couple of days ago I took an extra step and checked online at my county clerk’s office just to make sure those ballots had been received.

Who did I vote for?  You’d like to know, wouldn’t you?  Well, I’m going to take a page from the orangeish candidate’s playbook and “keep you in suspense.”  I could throw you off even more by honestly saying I was a strong Bernie Sanders supporter, and I didn’t appreciate Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s games during the Democratic primaries which helped hand a nomination to Hillary Clinton.  And, no, I’m not throwing my vote to Gary Johnson when he comes across looking like an idiot by not knowing what Aleppo is, among other zany stunts Johnson’s pulled.

Here, I’ll let HBO’s John Oliver pretty much sum up my view on this election’s third party presidential candidates, including Jill Stein.

So, who did I pick for president?  For all you know, it could have been Joe Exotic.

One thing you can take to the bank, though.  There is no way in hell I’d vote for the orangeish candidate.  That’s one candidate that truly makes me want to barf out a multicolored rainbow, one candidate I’m so sick of that I’m doing everything in my power not to even mention his name.

The reasons why I’m sick of the orange-tinted candidate increase by the day.  Why, just in the last couple of days we’ve seen how this (lack of) character can take a speech where the sitting President can be interrupted mid-speech by a protester, strongly urge the crowd to show the protester some respect while having to raise his voice over the noise, and have the tangerine guy turn it into the President shouting at the protester.

But this one item is less than a tiny blip on the radar screen when it comes to why the Tang-tinged one can make me laugh and turn my stomach at the same time.  Just like a wild carnival ride.

And then comes the fear.  Just like the face of that kid on the roller coaster.

I fear a candidate who can pull the kind of strings that it takes to get the chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to ignore things like the Hatch Act, guidance from his superiors, and common sense in general by getting voters riled up by Anthony Weiner emails that probably have nothing whatsoever to do with the grapefruit-colored candidate’s opponent in order to try and influence the election in the final days, making puppets out of people like Rudy Giuliani and Jason Chaffetz in the process.

I fear the logic of followers of the apricot-colored one — people who once feared that the Soviet Union would swallow the world up whole, but now seem to totally ignore the growing evidence that the flame-colored egomaniac they feel so great about has been playing a bit of patty-cake with Russian leaders.

I’ve never been a fan of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, but that’s changing when I listen to what this truly successful billionaire has to say about the citrus-stained one.

cubanA (Vladimir) Putin, or an (Julian) Assange, would say to him, ‘Donald, if you do this, I will give you $20 billion.’ What is 20 billion to them? What is 30 billion?” Cuban asked. “For them, that is nothing. If Donald Trump, who rips off people for thousands — do you think he is going to do what is right for the country, or do you think he is going to take the money?

“Do you think he has the temperament to do the right thing? Do you think he has the fortitude to do the right thing? Do you think he cares about you or his bank account?”

Anyone who searches for the truth and looks beyond the candy-colored one’s cons and knows his history is awfully nervous right about now.  Just as frightened as they’d be if they were riding on the wildest damn roller coaster in the world.

Wild rides can make us laugh, or turn us a ghostly shade of white with fear.

Hell of an election, isn’t it?

I can’t wait ’til the ride’s over, and the joker’s fans give up any foolish notion of a real civil war should things not go their way.

This ain’t funny.

Hey, Donny defenders! What the h*** is wrong with y’all?

Let’s do something a little creative with words, shall we?

My aggravation with anyone defending Donald Trump and his recorded pride while he was boasting about forcing himself on any and all females who strike his fancy because he’s a “star” — lame apologies notwithstanding — has reached a boiling point. I swear, if I see one more Donny defender saying his critics are hung up over mere words … well, let’s just say my adrenaline level’s at a definite high lately.

locker-roomI feel the need to vent, and in order to get my meaning across I may need to come across like I’m sinking down to Donny’s level.  Bear with me. You’ll see a lot of asterisks here, making it appear that I’m using the same kind of “locker room talk” the orange one claimed he was uttering when he bragged to former Today Show fractional host Billy Bush in 2005 about how he could get away with grabbing women by the genitals after sucking on Tic Tacs because he’s, well, Donny Trump, and apparently that makes him entitled (in his own f****** ** mind) to do whatever he pleases.

The question you need to ask while reading this is … am I diving down into the Trumpian pit of misogyny and predatory behavior by showing a side of me with a potty mouth, or am I actually using real or nonsensical but clean words in the potty mouth’s place?

hulkYou should see what I’m getting at more clearly when it’s all said and done. I’ll confess, I’m no angel when it comes to language, especially when I’m angry. Even when I’m angry, though, I can be fairly capable of controlling my tongue. That’s more than can be said for a certain Oompa-Loompaish presidential candidate.

Donny defenders cross a broad g****** spectrum. They include men and women, people of no religious affiliation and a select group of a****** evangelists who fall back on the “we’re not electing a pope or a saint here, we’re electing a President” argument. Well whoopty-f******-doo, Religious Right evangelists, I guess that argument of yours in this case pretty much blows a big hole in your claim that you’ve used for years that you’re supporting candidates with the finest moral values now, doesn’t it?

carsonAnd along those lines, how about that d****** Ben Carson, a guy who’s a member of the same religious faith as me, twisting himself into a new pretzel shape by saying on CNN that Trump’s “locker room banter” is wrong, and then turning around and suggesting that maybe the problem is that such talk isn’t heard more often.

Okay, Trumpians, can any of you explain that logic to me and have it make sense, or do I just need to face the fact that Ben Carson is looking more like a d******* all the time, especially since backing out of his own candidacy and offering up his **** and selling off his values for the sake of the orange muppet?

Don’t go thinking that all women all over the land are wishing they could line up and kick Donny in the n*** for offering up the stupid-*** testimony that he can grab ’em by the ***** any ol’ time and get away with it either.  In fact, some are outright encouraging him to do it to them if the opportunity ever arises, as is shown in this sad-*** display that’s gone viral over the past few days, part of the renowned “Trumpettes” …

trump-shirt

Yeah, I get it, Trump defenders. You’re mad at the f***** government, mad at the p**** liberals, mad at Mexicans, mad at blacks, mad at Muslims, mad at this h******** concept known as “political correctness,” and that’s why you’re tossing aside any sense of your own decency to support an a****** who has not a shred of decency to show for himself. I have my own frustrations over the way things are, the games that are played in Washington and how it affects the poor and the shrinking middle class. I wasn’t thrilled with how things turned out on the Democratic primary side and the games that were played there, but I’m not about to sell my a** to the devil because of it.

And, please, your “hero” is a ******* coward. When the heat gets turned up by female accusers who say that the apricot-toned ******* actually did force himself on them, he runs around saying the election’s rigged a few ******* weeks before it even happens? Grow a pair of *****, Donny, and while you’re at it shut the **** up (like the latter suggestion will ever happen), Donny.

I’ve seen excuses for Donny like “yeah, that stuff’s said all the time in locker rooms” (been there, heard it all, but not the way Donny said it), or “if you’re offended by Trump’s words, try working in [insert male-dominated career here].”

There was a time when I worked for a brief time in car sales, new and used. Yeah, the ******* language is rough, to say the least. Pretty much every other ******* word is a ******* expletive, and among the “bombers” was a young man who’d soon go off on a church mission. Glory ******* be! The worst “bomber” was the sales manager, who’d tear apart salespeople for inspiration and congratulated me on my first big sale by saying I’d “popped a ******.”

For that matter, in my current line of work driving people around, I still run into people where every other ******* word is some ******* form of crude language. Like I say, I’ve been around the ******* block in this world a few times, heard a lot of **** spoken, and depending on my mood or the passenger load I’ll let some of this **** slide. On the other hand, even if I’m the only person around who’s not involved in a particularly crude conversation, it can wear on me and I’ll advise the offender to knock that **** off, just give it a **** rest, I’m tired of it.

I have that ******* right.

But not once — NOT ONCE — in any locker room or any workplace that I’ve been around do I recall any “locker room banter” reaching a point where anyone ever boasted about forcing themselves on anyone who wasn’t open to it, or groping anyone, or anything like what Donny bragged about to **** near equally offensive Billy Bush. And here we are, just weeks away from deciding whether this ****** Donny Trump should be elected as the “leader of the free world.”

Are you ******* serious?  You have got to be ******** me!

Listen up, Trumpheads, and listen up good. I don’t give a flying **** whether spoiled brat Donny Trump uses foul language. He’s a ******* salesman, therefore it pretty much has to be part of his ******* DNA. I’ve lived 50-some years listening to and speaking foul language myself. Not something to brag about, but my ears aren’t ******* virgins.

My point when all is said and done is this: Like an edited version of the notoriously foul-mouthed “Glengarry Glen Ross,” you can take out all or most of the asterisks in what’s being said. You can take out the words, whether they offend you or not. What’s the message that’s left behind?

Now, Trump defenders, repeat after me until it sinks in …

With Donny Trump, it’s not the words, it’s the message.

With Donny Trump, it’s not the words, it’s the message.

With Donny Trump, it’s not the words, it’s the message.

With Donny Trump, it’s not the words, it’s the message.

Show your values. Don’t sell your a** to the monster in our midst.