Is BSA adopting a new Scout Law?

A boy carries out suggestions more wholeheartedly when he understands their aim.
— Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts Association
I’m a former Boy Scout.  In fact, my Scouting life started when my mother volunteered to be a Cub Scout pack leader.  I went on to Webelos, then the Boy Scouts.  I only made it to Second Class, but I had a lot of fun, made good friends, and there are memories from those days that will last a lifetime.
Donald Trump at the national Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia July 24. (Image via telegraph.co.uk)

I’m starting to feel sorry for today’s Boy Scouts after what the world saw out of the national Jamboree in West Virginia Monday, when the so-called President of the United States got up in front of tens of thousands of boys, Scout leaders and other adults and presented the statement, “… (W)ho the hell wants to speak about politics when I’m in front of the Boy Scouts?”

Then, in true Donald J. Trump fashion, he proceeded to talk about politics.  A speech that could and should have been non-political, downright non-partisan, and inspirational (if that were even possible for Trump) became just another Trump campaign rally.
Sadly, tens of thousands of Scouts and adults seemed to eat it up judging by the roar coming from the crowd, such as when Trump mentioned whether his predecessor attended the Jamboree during his time as President.  How many times in your life have you ever seen Boy Scouts encouraged — nay, downright set up — to boo a former President?
It broke my heart as a former Scout to hear them do it.  It angered me to see some Scout leader in full uniform behind Trump appearing to go right along with it.
 Did Barack Obama ever go to a Jamboree?  Maybe not.  Personally, I don’t give a damn.  At least Obama did appear via video, and gave a better speech than the current sitting White House clown did.  At the very least, he stuck to the aim and meaning of Scouting.  He stuck to celebrating and honoring Scouting on its 100th anniversary instead of whining about Hillary and the health care bill and “fake news” while boasting about a “record” crowd size.
Apparently Trump felt the need to pat himself on the back for what’s a pretty typical crowd size for a national Jamboree.  Again, it’s all about Trump.  Some things never change.
How about a look at how it could have been if this so-called POTUS didn’t let his ego get in the way?
 Instead, a lot of boys and adults fell right in line, acted out against what should have been better instincts (especially for Scouts), and cheered on a con man.  Maybe that’s the problem: They were so thrilled to see and hear the con man they didn’t understand his aim.
I realize this left the Boy Scouts of America in a sticky situation.  It’s an organization that’s supposed to be non-political, that’s supposed to honor the office of the President, and how’s it going to look if the BSA slams the so-called POTUS.  But to my mind, as well as the minds of at least thousands of others — former Scouts and parents of current Scouts — judging by comments to the BSA on social media, the BSA’s response has been a bit weak.
As long as the con man has a place at the White House, maybe the BSA should adopt a new Scout Law.  You know, something to fit the example set by the current occupant.  I’ll go through each piece of the Scout Law and offer replacement suggestions, because this guy is none of these things.
A Scout is …
  • Trustworthy (Dishonest as the day is long)
  • Loyal (Demanding loyalty to himself, never willing to give it himself)
  • Helpful ( … Yeah, he helps himself to whatever he can get away with)
  • Friendly (When it benefits him, otherwise he’s a raging monster)
  • Courteous (Rude, disrespectful, heedless, impolite, inattentive, inconsiderate, mean, thoughtless, uncivil, unkind, unmannerly, unmindful, unrefined … take your pick)
  • Kind (Never one to let an opportunity go by to insult someone when the urge strikes)
  • Obedient (Demanding of obedience, and heaven help those who aren’t)
  • Cheerful (Bitter and whiny as all get out)
  • Thrifty (Willing to take advantage of anyone — contractors, senior citizens, etc. — if it’ll earn him more dough)
  • Brave (Cowardly, on a daily basis)
  • Clean (Someone who loves to play dirty as long as it’s to his advantage)
  • Reverent (Two Corinthians walk into a bar, they see an attractive woman, and the first Corinthian says to the second Corinthian, “Hey, watch me grab her by the …”)

Yes, as a former Scout, I’m weeping.  And I don’t think Robert Baden-Powell ever foresaw a con man like Donald J. Trump pulling a fast one on his Scouts.

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

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.

The monster in our midst

There are memories from my life that haunt me to this day. They’ve shaped the way I view things going on around us today.

It’s like facing monsters, both real and imagined.

The first “monster” I faced popped up nearly four months before I was even born, when my father died an accidental death while working to support a wife and 2-year-old twins — a girl and a boy — with me in my mother’s womb.

My father, John, with twin babies, Lynda Kay and Curt.
My father, John, with twin babies, Lynda Kay and Curt.

My brother suffered with cerebral palsy. His disability was severe. He could only say one word — flower. He couldn’t walk. I remember his smile, it was bright. I remember countless visits to hospitals in Boise and Salt Lake City. His body wasted away. A “monster” visited again in 1968 when my brother died at the age of 10. I don’t even have to close my eyes to remember the scene the morning he passed away: the bedroom we shared, the glare of a light waking me up while it was still dark outside, the screams coming from my mother as she found my brother’s lifeless body face down in his bed.

For whatever reason, the thought came to my mind then that I needed to be the man of the family. I called an aunt down the street to start spreading the news. I was 7 years old when that “monster” came along.

Maybe it was from loneliness after living around eight years without my father, maybe it was from a deep need to feel some happiness after my brother’s death, but my mother remarried in 1969. That’s when the next “monster” came along.

There was nothing fancy about my mother. She was raised on farms. She rode a horse to and from school. She wasn’t big on dresses and styling her hair in a fancy way. But she married someone who expected those things on a daily basis. I remember calling the man “dad” on their wedding day, but it didn’t feel right. That was the last time I can remember using the word with him.

Heated arguments between my mom and her second husband were common, even starting during their honeymoon to the San Francisco area to visit — of all people — the man’s first wife, who was “more stylish.” My mother soon got the impression that she was being shown an example of how her husband wanted her to be from then on — hair piled high, perfectly neat; dresses, there had to be dresses worn daily; dinner served promptly after getting home from work, right down to salads being served in a black plastic bowl. If salads weren’t served in that black plastic bowl, there’d be hell to pay.

The man seemed to look at himself as God’s gift to humanity, or at least a gift to members of the opposite sex. He’d look at himself often in a mirror, and if any hair was out of place he’d lick his fingers and put it back in place.  He’d take me out to breakfast at a coffee shop on Saturday mornings and flirt with the waitresses.

I learned to pray late one night when I almost lost my mother during a particularly heated argument. Maybe she was tired of being objectified by the “monster.”

On more than one occasion, my mother, my sister and I spent the night sleeping in our car out in the woods or in a motel room when the “monster” got to be too much.

abuseThe haunting came to a head one night in 1972. I was around 11 years old at the time, my sister was 13 or 14. A particularly frightening argument made its way from the master bedroom to my sister’s bedroom. The abuse was both mental and physical. When my sister stood up to the “monster,” she was slapped down. At that point, I felt the need to be the man of the family again.  I was big for my age.  I stood face to face with the “monster,” not saying a word but looking at him in a way that dared him to try something with me.

The “monster” apparently got the message and left the house. The locks were changed the next day. I still remember him yelling at that discovery, demanding to be let in. That was the beginning of the end of that “haunting.”

I swore that I would never allow myself to become like that “monster,” and if I ever showed any signs of it in me I’d vow to change my ways.

That experience alone brought about an anger in me that lasted into my teen years. I’d find myself imagining beating that “monster” to a pulp.

I lived most of my formative years around my mother and sister. It gave me a respect for the opposite sex that a lot of men will never know.

It’s that respect that makes my blood boil when I see anyone objectifying women in a blatant way.

This all leads me to Donald J. Trump.

Trump’s actions have made my skin crawl for a lot of years. His run for the presidency of the United States has been … monstrous.  He has become the monster in our midst.

Trump needs to experience a loved one with a disability dying and the horror that surrounds it before mocking someone with a physical ailment. I remember my brother whenever I see Trump acting the fool in mocking someone with a disability.

I remember the abuse my mother and sister suffered at the hands and words and attitude of someone acting like less than a man when I see and hear the way Trump views women, especially with the 2005 video released last week which found Trump boasting about how he could get away with being a sexual predator.

I can honestly say at the risk of being contacted by the Secret Service for publishing threats against a presidential candidate that if I heard Donald J. Trump speaking that way about my wife or daughter or any woman I loved, I would kick his butt around the block numerous times. And he’d deserve it.

I’m sick of people falling for the Trump excuse of this being “locker room talk.” I’ve been around that setting enough to say there’s bawdy talk in locker rooms, and then there’s boasting about making unwanted moves against women that classify the person doing the boasting as a sexual predator.

Women should look at Donald Trump this way, only not with adulation but disgust instead. (Esquire photo)
Women should look at Donald Trump this way, only not with adulation but disgust instead. (Esquire photo)

Trump fits that mold. And yet some people buy into his excuse. I’m sick of this game.

I’m sick of hearing people talk about how refreshing Trump’s “not-so-politically-correct” approach is. To hell with the term “politically correct.” How about just practicing common decency? What’s political about that?

It’s amazing to have people talk about American values and morals eroding, and yet so many of those same people defend Trump over “words.” It goes well beyond words, it goes to an attitude of entitlement that people like Trump haven’t even come close to earning throughout his drama-filled life.

trump-nopeIt’s humorous to find people who get up in arms about a fear of transgender people using women’s bathrooms because women and children could be groped, yet so many of those same people still support a presidential candidate who’s been caught on a hot mic encouraging the act of groping women.

This monster is in our midst, front and center. It needs to be rejected.

This is a strange frontier.

Oh, the times we live in this Presidents’ Day

To whom it may concern,

Here’s a question for Presidents’ Day: Would George Washington and Abraham Lincoln have approved of the current political landscape?

MountrushmoreFor that matter, let’s step through the rest of the faces found on Mount Rushmore and ask a couple more questions.

Would Thomas Jefferson have approved of the role religion has taken in American politics?  Come on, now, if anyone’s initial response is to answer in the affirmative, please do some seriously objective research.  Really.  I mean, how weird is it that such an obvious non-evangelical candidate as Donald Trump is topping the polls among evangelicals in the Republican lead-up to the South Carolina presidential primary?  That should be all the proof anyone needs that politics and religion — like oil and water — don’t mix.

How would Theodore Roosevelt — a Republican — have felt about something like Citizens United?

teddy

How messed up are we when we see Republican leadership and conservative pundits claiming that a sitting President should not nominate a replacement for a deceased Supreme Court justice (who helped give us Citizens United) during an election season because they’re so afraid of the balance of judicial power suddenly shifting to the “dark side” of evil liberalism, only to find that the truth is it’s been done before under presidents like William Taft, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, and a guy named Ronald Reagan?

yogiAnd let’s not save our questions just for the conservative side.  On the liberal side, you’d think Hillary Clinton would have learned her lesson about the end results of not being totally honest about her fiercest presidential opponent’s actions after seeing what happened to her chances in 2008, wouldn’t you?  Check out the video below from just over eight years ago and see if an old Yogi Berra quote still applies today.

And Hillary thinks Bernie Sanders is out of line to criticize Barack Obama?  Really?

Or how about the Democratic National Committee deciding it would be a good idea to roll back a ban on donations from federal lobbyists and political action committees?

Meanwhile, as political games are played, middle class America is still being hit squarely between the eyes by reality.  Such as when United Technologies executives announced that 1,400 employees of Carrier Heating and Cooling Systems in Indianapolis would be out of a job starting in 2017 so they can move production to Mexico.  But it’s all just a “business decision.”  Right?  And if you think Trump is going to turn that all around, I’ve got some nice parcels of swampland to sell anyone who wants them.  Make me an offer, I won’t refuse.

It’s political business as usual.  Are we up to the challenge of changing that?

Happy (censored) Presidents’ Day.

— Sincerely, Angry Americans Not Supporting Donald Trump

Demanding more from Americans, and from each other

All too often, I feel the need to weep for the people of America.  It hasn’t always been like that, at least not to the degree it’s at today.

All too often, I find myself getting into discussions that have to do with politics and the person on the other side ends up saying something like “I really don’t follow politics, I just go by my feelings/emotions.”  All that tells me is that the person on the other side hasn’t taken enough time to search out some basic facts to help form a logical conclusion which could lead to a more informed decision.  How often do feelings/emotions betray us?

argumentAll too often, I find myself getting into discussions with people so deeply locked in to their political ideology that they refuse to allow themselves to look at any other view, even when that view is based on facts and not opinion.  It would be nice to discuss something like raising the minimum wage and have the main argument against it not come from some far right-leaning opinion website saying that raising the minimum wage in Seattle cost 1,000 restaurant workers their jobs, so it can’t be a good idea.  I then reply with some fact-checking — including information from a source in the Seattle area who’s also not in favor of a $15 minimum wage — showing the argument about Seattle job losses was not true.  Do you think the facts made any difference in the discussion?  No.  I often wonder if people that locked in to their ideology even bother to read the information I share, simply because it’s felt that I’m “too liberal,” one of those “libtards.”

All too often, we find ourselves getting into discussions involving politics in which the other person ends up saying something along the lines of “All politicians lie.”  This happened most recently in a discussion about Donald Trump, coming from someone who’s been supporting another candidate for President but who now seems prepared to throw their support behind Trump should their first choice not make the cut.  So I try to wrap my brain around this: This person is sick of politicians lying, yet they’re ready to back a lying, bloviating real estate mogul with the persona of an egotistical used car salesman who’s played a large role in multiple bankruptcies involving his business holdings, flushing a professional football league (remember the United States Football League?) down the toilet through serious misjudgment driven by his own ego, etc., to be the leader of the free world?

Bill-Clinton-I-Did-Not-2Yes, my friend, politicians can and do lie.  Politicians on each side of the aisle have been known to lie — from “Tricky Dick” Nixon to Bill “I Did Not Have Sexual Relations With That Woman” Clinton and beyond.  But not all politicians lie, and that’s where a tremendous responsibility falls upon each one of us as citizens — the responsibility to put in the research, the effort to seek out the facts and the truth, to put aside political ideology and personal biases at times, to ask ourselves whether our feelings and emotions make sense, and make the most logical choices possible.

Are we up to that task?

“Better politics doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. This is a big country, with different regions and attitudes and interests. That’s one of our strengths, too. Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security.”

— President Barack Obama in his final State of the Union address, January 12, 2016

 Speaking of lying …

Here’s a challenge.  Can anyone name one President (at least in recent memory) who’s had more lies spread about them than Barack Hussein Obama, had them shown to be untrue, only to have the lies not just continue but grow?  He’s Muslim … he was born in a foreign country … he’s going to declare martial law and appoint himself dictator … he’s going to take everyone’s guns away … he’s been the biggest spending President in history … he’s misused his executive powers … he’s always on vacation …he’s been terrible for business … he’s tanked the economy … Benghazi … Operation Jade Helm … all just the tip of the iceberg.  Can anyone offer any factual evidence to support claims like these without going to some far right source?

 Even when honest facts are presented, they get heavily discounted.  It’s that “Alex Jones mentality” that’s way too prevalent in America’s political discourse today.  That’s what makes me feel the need to weep.  We used to be a better nation than this.

Obama closed out his last State of the Union address with his most important point, issuing a challenge to the American people that should be seen as the equivalent of JFK’s “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” demand.

“(D)emocracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn’t work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice, or that our political opponents are unpatriotic. Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us. Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get attention. Most of all, democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn’t matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest.

Obama-State-Of-The-Union-2016-640x427Too many Americans feel that way right now. …

And if we want a better politics, it’s not enough to just change a congressman or a senator or even a president; we have to change the system to reflect our better selves.”

Trump’s mantra is “Make America Great Again.”  Yet it’s candidates like Trump who bring out the worst in Americans.  It’s candidates like Trump who play on people’s fear and anger, offering no sensible solutions.  The truth is, America’s still great.  It’s great in the fact that we are still free to disagree, and if we’re smart enough we can work through those differences and find solutions.  But we are on the crest of a slippery slope.  “Compromise” in government is becoming a dirty word.  Not only can Democrats and Republicans not seem to agree, but Republicans can’t agree amongst themselves.  And they’re the ones holding the keys to solutions to the problems that face us with control of Congress.  So is it any wonder Obama feels the need to push through executive orders on issues like immigration and gun control, only to see criticism for him doing so?

We look to our politicians to fix things, and then gripe and moan when we elect people incapable of even trying to fix things.  We look at people like Trump and get excited because he’s “not politically correct,” he “speaks his mind,” and we ignore the question of whether the man is capable of showing so much as a shred of common decency.  We look at people like Ted Cruz and get excited when we think of him as someone who’s not afraid to piss off leadership on both sides of the aisle, and we ignore the question of whether he can come up with any solution to a problem other than a costly and useless government shutdown.  And, yes, we look at someone like Hillary Clinton and get excited by the things she could do, and we ignore troubling signs coming from her camp when a race gets tight and untruths come from her or her daughter about Hillary’s main opponent.

Yes, it can come from both sides.

So, what do we do to make things better?  How do we go about “fixing Washington?”  Too many people get the urge to throw up their hands, and either refuse to participate in the process or just go with the lesser of the “evils.”  They refuse to believe there is truth out there, when it can be staring them right in the face if they’d only wake up and do a little searching.

Obama said it himself toward the end of his State of the Union address.

“If we give up now, then we forsake a better future.”

And that’s true not just on a national stage, but on a global stage.  The truth is out there.  We need to find it with our own eyes.  We need to put aside preconceived notions, strip away biases, and take a look at what’s really going on around us.  There’s too much at stake.