Friday, March 03, 2017

Rant!

I'm giving you a warning. I am not going to be nice in this post. I'm going to be giving my opinion on this country and the people in it, and it will not be pretty. I will most likely be using words that my spiritual leaders have told me to not use (although, there are two truly profane words that I just can't get mad enough to use, so I'll spare you those).
If you are easily offended stop reading right now.
You have been warned.


A little over one month into his Presidency and Mr Trump, aided by his cronies in congress, has achieved one thing. He’s driven this country into chaos.
People are demonstrating and rioting.  Citizens in other countries are shaking their heads and wondering what the heck is going on over here. Government shock troops are attacking indigenous peoples who just want clean water and their sacred lands protected.  The Congress just passed a measure that will allow coal companies to dump their crap into rivers and streams. The borders are (or rather, were closed, a decree that was thankfully stopped by the courts) closed to a particular religious sect, in defiance of the constitution.  Republicans are trying, and probably will succeed, to take the teeth out of the EPA, because they must like dirty air and water, as long as it puts a few bucks in their offshore bank accounts.  The President and the Members of Congress don't believe that the people are angry with their actions and blame all the ruckus on “paid protesters.”  Liberals are angry. Conservatives are being mean. Those of us in the middle are frightened.
A quick scan of social media will show you three kinds of Americans: The Truly Crazy Dividers, The Come Togethers, and The Unpluggers.


The Crazy Dividers are those who post news articles that show how right they are or how wrong the other side is, all while proclaiming in their posts that the other side is the side that is dividing us. On few occasions, they actually get their news articles from real news sources. They don't seem to want to see, or are too blind to see how terrifying and crazy they sound. The other day, I got into a Facebook fistfight with some people over whether or not to run over protesters who are blocking the road. The consensus seemed to be, “I have places to be, they are in my way. Run them down!” We’ve seriously come to a bad place when citizens of this country should be killed if they are an inconvenience to others.
Disgusting and horrific.
The fact is, protests should be inconveniences, otherwise they'll have no impact.


The Come Togethers are the people proclaiming that we need to come together as a country to, either, fight Mr. Trump or to support Mr. Trump. In other words, what they are really saying is that YOU need to change YOUR ways and join THEIR side. They won't be the one to change. It's a kind of, “join us or shut the hell up” proposition. Don't get me wrong on this. It's happening on both sides.
Unite on Mr. Trump’s side or we'll run you over with our cars you unAmerican commies.
Or…
Unite with us against Mr Trump or you're nothing but a Nazi loving hate monger.


I admit, when Mr. Trump was elected, I was on a side. I never called anyone a Nazi. At least not to their faces.


Then there are The Unpluggers. (This is who I became, once I realized that nobody gave a shit about anything that I had to say, about anything.) They’re the ones on social media who are proclaiming that we all need to stop paying attention and get back to posting cat videos. Maybe if we ignore them, they'll all go away. (The politicians, not the cats. Cats never go away.)


The thing is, I believe that we need a 4th category. The Truthers.
The Truthers would be the ones to point out where Mr. Trump and the Republicans have done something good and where they’ve stepped off the reservation, without resorting to name calling. Unfortunately, I'm afraid that something like this would be impossible, for several reasons.  1) People on all sides don't want to hear the truth. 2) I’m afraid the truth is uncomfortable for people. 3) In politics, the truth can be quite subjective.


I am so digested by my country right now.
Let me clarify. I've been disgusted by my government for well over a decade, but today I find myself disgusted by my countrymen.  People advocating violence on the other side. I'm afraid that if we keep walking down this path it will change from talk into action.


I’ll tell you this much, in my mind, if you are advocating violence on another person because of their beliefs, feelings, religion, color, or anything like that, then you are a piece of shut and should be shunned from society like the scum that you are. I don't know how else to say it. Violence is NEVER good or justified. This includes bumping people out of the way with your car.

This morning, a song came on the radio, it was one of those patriotic country songs. It ends with the phrase “... we'll put a boot in your ass, it's the American way…”
This phrase disturbed me because so many of my countrymen believe that boots belong in the asses of people that have done you wrong, or more correctly,  they belong in the asses anyone that you think has done you wrong.


Before you tell me, “but that song is about 9/11.” Yes, I know that the song is about 9/11, but my point still stands. We were so pissed off about a small group of extremists that had done us a hurt (and we were right to be pissed off) that we didn't just go out and destroy the extremist bastards who did it; we invaded the country from which they operated, and then we invaded another country that had nothing to do with 9/11, but who had looked at us cross eyed or something. And then, after causing so much damage, and failing to put stable governments in place, we caused the rise of another group of extremists, and then we closed our borders to the very people that we displaced.
Have you ever seen the movie Better Off Dead? “Gee, I’m really sorry your Mom blew up, Ricky.”


“Gee, I’m really sorry your country blew up, Middle East. But you can't come to us for help.”


Like most Americans, my ancestors came here looking for a better life. At least two of them, that I know of, died during the crossing from Europe and we're buried in the Atlantic.  One was a baby.
They sacrificed because they believed that things would be better here. That they could practice their chosen religion in peace. That they would be able to have their own land, and live according to their beliefs.  What did they find here? Peace, for a time. And then they found mobs that drove them off their lands, who killed their church leaders, who burned their crops, and a government that would do nothing to stop it.
In fact one government leader, Governor Boggs of Missouri, signed an executive order that effectively made it legal to kill any Mormon in the state. An order that was in effect until the 1970’s.
My ancestors, were forced to walk 1300 miles, to leave the United States and enter, what was then Mexico,  to fund their peace once again.


But that's all ancient history and could never happen again. Right?


You can't see this, but I'm shaking my head.  I might even have a disappointed look on my face as well.


Just a few weeks ago a white house memo was leaked to the Associated Press that proposed that 100,000 National Guardsmen be activated to chase down and arrest undocumented immigrants.
POTUS and Spicy the press secretary categorically denied that the memo was real, but they have denied alot of things, so their denials don't really mean anything anymore.
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
Where would they have put all these people, had the memo become an executive order?  Camps?
Boy there's a great visual.


For some reason, this has stayed in the news, I’m not sure why, because it should be a surprise to no one.


Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) decided that it would be good to have a town hall meeting in his district.  Over a thousand people came, so many that they could not get most of them into the building.  The people who came were so angry with Chaffetz’s actions and so frightened of the President’s executive actions, and they wanted answers.
Chaffetz listened to none of them.  I’ve seen the video.  He didn’t care about any of their concerns, he offered no real answers, and in the end, the Town Hall meeting became a shouting match between the arrogant politician and his concerned constituents.
In the end Chaffetz went to the media to complain about organized, paid, protestors.
He could have scored serious political street cred by saying, “You know what? There are some seriously upset people in my district, maybe I should listen more to them.”
But no! Chaffetz has the White House in his sites, he can’t be distracted by a little thing like his voters!  I really hope that the midterms are a wakeup call for people like Chaffetz and his voters, vote him out.
I live in Mia Love’s district.  Do you think that she is going to have a town hall meeting? Hell no! She’d have to interact with the people, she can’t be doing that.  She’s much too busy to even send out response mail to the dozens of comments I have sent in. Or maybe she's afraid.


There are times that I think that the Republicans are trying to not be in power for long. That if they screw this up well enough that we will all vote them out of power. There are times that I think that their losing power in 2 years is quite likely, and then I look at my conservative friends who are very likely to reelect them and think, yep, we're screwed.
We're screwed as a people and we're screwed as a world.


Am I defective as a person because I don't see the world as a bunch of borders?
That I can see how our actions affects other parts of the world.
That I don't give a shit if you are a Christian or a Muslim or a Jewish or an unbeliever. I only care if you are a good person. What ever happened to Christian love for our neighbors? We, here in America, are still (for the most part) a Christian country, but we treat people from other countries and faith traditions like dirt. We profess to worship a being who while on Earth was a refugee and yet we turn away the refugees of the world and pat ourselves on the back for doing it.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

So Long Princess


I am heartbroken.

On Tuesday I learned that Carrie Fisher passed away.  And how I learned of her passing was probably in the worst way possible.

An office mate of mine, an odious individual who has the sensitivity of a half eaten jelly-fish, turned around to face me and asked, "So, Murph, do you think that they will hire another actress to play Princess Leah in the next Star Wars?"

Hire another actress?

"What are you talking about?" I asked. When I checked the news feeds the night before, they said that she was stable and improving following her heat attack.

"They just said on the radio that she is dead." He, not being a very observant individual, must have recognized the look on my face which must have been enough to make him want to turn back around to face his own computer screen.

I jumped onto my news feed and was alarmed to find out that my oafish office mate was right.
Carrie Fisher had, indeed, passed away.


I first became aware of her in 1977, when at the age of 8, I was successful in talking my Dad into taking me to the Center Theater to see Star Wars (later subtitled, A New Hope).
I thought that she was lovely, but I was 8.  Girls were still yucky in my mind, and there were Blaster Pistols, Space Ships, Robots, Aliens, and did I mention Blaster Pistols, which were far more interesting to the 8-year-old mind of a little boy than a lovely young princess.


Things were a little different in 1980 when The Empire Strikes Back (still the best episode in the saga, in my opinion) came out. I can safely say that at that point, Carrie Fisher was my first Hollywood crush.
And then, at the age of 14, I was able to see Return of the Jedi.  Ya... I won't use the term "Slave Leah" because I prefer "Hut Slayer," but you know what I'm talking about.


Through the years, I continued to notice her in other movies: The Blues Brothers, Under the Rainbow, The Man with One Red Shoe, When Harry Met Sally, Soapdish, Drop Dead Fred, and probably a few others that I am forgetting, and every time I thought that she was brilliant, even when the movie itself wasn't that great.  She was so funny in Drop Dead Fred.

I've never felt real loss at the death of a celebrity, but with Carrie Fisher, I do.  There is a hole in my heart that I don't know can ever really be filled again.

In the Star Wars saga, she played a strong, independent woman, who was capable of leading men into battle, while still being tender and loving toward a scoundrel like Solo.
In her real life, she battled addictions and mental illness, and was able to overcome them, but those battles left her weakened, and in the end, her body just could not go on.

She came to Salt Lake FanX a couple of years ago.  I so wanted to meet her, but I was a volunteer and could not get away long enough to do that, a regret that I will have for the rest of my life.  I was able to catch sight of her from across a crowded hall, a fleeting glimpse is all, but it was enough for the day, and must be enough for my lifetime.

So, to Carrie Fisher I must say, so long, adieu, God Speed you on your journey. We, who are left behind will miss you always.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Flag Burning!

The first amendment of the United States Constitution states:
 
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

In other words, it is perfectly legal and perfectly within the rights of ordinary citizens to protest the actions of the government of the United States by burning the flag that symbolizes that government. The Supreme Court of the United States, even said as much in their 1989 (5-4) decision in Texas vs. Johnson. In the decision  (quoted from uscourts.gov) “the majority of the Court, according to Justice William Brennan, agreed with Johnson and held that flag burning constitutes a form of "symbolic speech" that is protected by the First Amendment. The majority noted that freedom of speech protects actions that society may find very offensive, but society's outrage alone is not justification for suppressing free speech. In particular, the majority noted that the Texas law discriminated upon viewpoint, i.e., although the law punished actions, such as flag burning, that might arouse anger in others, it specifically exempted from prosecution actions that were respectful of venerated objects, e.g., burning and burying a worn-out flag. The majority said that the government could not discriminate in this manner based solely upon viewpoint.”
This ruling was later upheld in the 1990 case United States vs. Eichman.

I live in one the reddest of the red states. Utah, where most people stop thinking on election day and vote for party over person in elections. A state that seems to be full of flag wavers, and where descent is dealt with harshly and often with meanness.
 
 

The funny thing is, so many people here also believe that the Constitution of the United States was divinely inspired and absolute. They say that you have an absolute right to your religion, the absolute right to say or write or act according to what you believe, but, if you believe or act differently than them, you’d better just leave or be prepared to have your “ass whooped.” I had a family member threaten me with just that kind of punishment when I pointed out to him that flag burning was protected speech under the constitution of the United States. Sometimes people just don’t want to hear the truth when the truth conflicts with their world view.
 

Here in Utah, supposedly one of the states with the nicest people, folks seem to lose their minds when it comes to the right of free speech and expression.  After Trump won the presidency (I still want to hurl when I hear that) there was an anti-Trump march here in Salt Lake, a flag was burned.  The woman who did it received death threats.  DEATH THREATS! From nice, church going (probably) patriotic Utahans, who profess to believe in the constitution, but are willing to threaten a woman’s life for exercising her RIGHT to free speech and expression under that same constitution.  Where is the logic in that?
 
 
Social Media has opened up so many avenues for self expression, for speaking your mind, and for sharing ideas.  But so often, the sharing of those ideas are met with harsh criticism from those who you have a connection with. Like many of you, I have friends who are very conservative, friends who are very progressive, friends who are very moderate, and friends who really don’t care or have an opinion.
 
 
Me? My political leanings vary depending on the topic. Some things I stand with the conservatives, other things I stand with the liberals.  On the topic of flag burning I say that if you feel that strongly against America and the government “for which it stands” then, Burn baby, Burn! As is your right.

I’m not quite to the point of burning the flag, even though I can’t quite imagine that the government could become any more corrupt.  But then, Mr. Trump hasn’t taken office yet and we have much further to fall, potentially.

Every day, I see memes on facebook and other social media sites that say things like, “Flag burning should be illegal, Share if you agree,” or “If you don’t love America, you should get out, Share if you agree.”

Well, I don’t agree.  But, I also don’t dare say anything in the comments because I don’t want to cause an argument or poke a hornet’s nest, even though I think that those memes and like statements are designed to do just that, and that good people post them naively believing that their “friends” believe similarly, after all, we are in conservative Utah, Right?.

I’m also not saying that they shouldn’t be able to post such statements, they are perfectly within their rights to do so, all I’m saying is that if they are happy with possibly offending others, who may not share their views, then post away, but in doing so, they should not get offended if I decide that I want to post something that may offend them.

As for President-Elect Trump (Gag), What does he have to say?


Loss of citizenship? Where do I sign?



Monday, November 14, 2016

President Friggin' Trump!



 

It’s been almost a week since the election that made America a complete joke to the rest of the world.
 
Face it people, all those who marked their ballots for Donald Trump, marked their ballots for a hateful, misogynistic, race baiting, islamophobic, ultra-nationalist, blow-hard, reality show star.  FOR PRESIDENT OF THE FRIGGIN’ UNITED STATES!
 
I'm just waiting to wake up from this nightmare, or waiting for the machines to reset the matrix, something like that, because this is just to wacked out to be real, you know what I mean?
 
People on facebook and other social media are flipping out.
 
I understand the sore losers; Those who are protesting the outcome of the election.  I mean, seriously, they have got to be crapping themselves for fear of the future.  We may be on the verge of  the day when liberals start stockpiling guns and food. Talk about tables being turned.
 
But what about the sore winners.  You Trump voters who are pissed off because you won and no one seems to like you now.  I tell you what, why don’t you all get together around a campfire, toast some marshmallows, and commiserate how no one likes you anymore.
 
There was a time in America, when we would tell our children that they could be anything they wanted to be, if they wanted to be President some day, all they had to do was work hard and be a good person. Do you know what Trump’s ascension to the Presidency is telling our children now?  To become President of the United States, all you need to do is go on TV and be a total dill weed.
 
Now, before you go thinking that I was a Hillary supporter, let me tell you this, That lady scared me almost as much as Trump does.  Almost!
 
Between the two of them, Trump and Hillary, the lesser of two evils was Cthulhu.
 
Trump has the possibility of being one of the most unpopular Presidents in history.  Maybe even worse than Nixon.
 
Let me explain.
 
Fully half of the country’s voting public already think that he is Hitler’s cousin.  The rest of the country is expecting him to bring jobs back from other countries, destroy ISIS, deport 11 million people on Saturday, January 21st, 2017 and build a wall on Monday morning.  None of which is he legally authorized or able to do at all, let alone in the first 100 days in office.
 
He will get rid of the Affordable Care Act, and when he has nothing with which, to replace it, people will flip out when their health insurance is taken away.  After all, bad insurance, is better than no insurance at all.
 
Oh yeah, this is going to be a fun 4 years.
 
So here’s my take away:
Trump folk, you had better toughen up your skin, because when Trump fails, and he will fail, in spectacular fashion. The non-Trump people are going to blame you.  It will happen.
 
Non-Trump folk.  Be nice.  The Trump voters were taken in by his lofty promises and slick campaigning. Like me, they wanted reform in Washington D.C., they just hitched their cart to the wrong horse.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

I am Afraid

I am afraid.
Afraid for my country and the road that we are slowly, steadily, joyfully walking down.

On Monday, a bomb went off in New York City’s Chelsea Neighborhood injuring 29 people.  Thankfully, reports are that no one was seriously injured.

Trump (and Hillary as well) has used this event to cast more aspersions on Muslims here in America. He called to close the border to Muslims, again, and to propose greater security on the members of that most maligned and misunderstood of non-Christian sects.

Never once did I hear him say that oh, by the way, the accused terrorist is a naturalized American citizen. That a closed border would have done nothing to stop this particular tragedy. Or that, quite possibly, the accused was radicalized after becoming a citizen. No! He simply continued to show his hatred, prejudice, and ignorance against a religious sect whose vast majority of members simply want to live in peace.
 

Instead, his followers, a staggering 42% of the US population (according to the latest New York Times poll) are calling for a total ban on a religious sect. When will they call for the same against Christians because of the Westborough Baptist Church I ask you?  The result would be the same.

How long before they decide that all of “them” and “their kind” need to be watched or maybe forced into abandoned walled up cities?  Detroit anyone?  They all seem to like walls so much.

Or maybe forcing all of the Muslims into camps would be easier on all of us.  “Arbeit Macht Frei”?
 
 


Am I being unfair to 42% of my countrymen by jumping from proud American to Neonazi so fast? How do you think it started in Germany all those years ago?  Financial crisis, followed by ultra nationalism, followed by scapegoating. Sound familiar?

Yes, a Muslim made and set off the bomb, allegedly. (Innocent until proven guilty, right? It’s a fundamental human right and has been since Roman times, but we seem to forget that here in the land of fundamental human rights.) But does that make all Muslims culpable?

So yes, allegedly, a fellow American who happens to be a Muslim is accused of the bombing and Trump is complaining that since he was shot during his arrest, that the accused is not allowed to have basic health care. In fact Trump said "Now we will give him amazing hospitalization. He will be taken care of by some of the best doctors in the world. He will be given a fully modern and updated hospital room. And he'll probably even have room service knowing the way our country is.”
 
Let's analyze this quote for just a second and see it for what it really is.

The accused  (not convicted, and so presumed innocent, for now) will be taken care of and have the best doctors, which is his privilege, as an American. In a fully modern hospital. Unfortunately not everyone in America has that. Some of our inner-city hospitals are lacking, but they are still far better than what you would find in the 3rd world. But I digress.
“And he'll probably even have room service knowing the way our country is.” Are you kidding me?


  1. He has a gunshot wound.
  2. He's most likely handcuffed to the bed since he is under arrest.
  3. Who has ever been made to get up out of their sick bed, and walk to the hospital cafeteria for meals?  Answer: Nobody!


How else is he supposed to eat? Trump has got to be one of the most ignorant and asinine people I have ever heard of, and 42% of my fellow Americans are mindlessly agreeing!

“Ya! He’s getting special treatment!” As if they have ever been in the hospital and been made to walk to the cafeteria for meals. How often does that happen?

So yes, I am afraid.
I am afraid of what this country is becoming.
I am afraid that 42% of the voting public are so mindless that they would vote for a buffoon like Trump.
I am afraid that 48% of the voting public are so mindless that they would vote for a criminal like Hillary.
I am afraid that if Trump gets in, he’ll have my children spying on me and reporting my statements to the secret police (I guess that they could just read my blog).
I am afraid that soon there will be camps for the unwanted, the undesirables, the "other.".
I am afraid that soon there will be an entire generation of PTSD victims from our endless wars.
And.
I am afraid that there is nothing I can do about it.


In his book 1984, George Orwell wrote:

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

I think that my next post will be about how true these words have become.


Monday, September 12, 2016

My view on Kaepernick



 
It seems that everyone has an opinion about Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the National Anthem.  Any quick google search of “Kaepernick” in the news feeds will reveal extreme opinions on both sides of the debate.
 
Some see him as a traitor to his country and condemn him in the strongest possible terms. Others support him and agree with his protest.  And still others, do not agree with his protest but understand that he is simply exercising his right to free speech and expression as guaranteed by the first amendment of the constitution.
 
It’s funny, though, that those who are condemning him as a traitor are, usually, the same people who are the first to proclaim the constitution as being divinely inspired and absolute.
 
 
Strange how things work sometimes.
 
As for me, I will willingly take a knee with Kaepernick.
 
I have been silently protesting the Pledge and the National Anthem by non-participation for 5 years now.  Why?  You can read more about my protest Here.
 
It’s pretty simple.
 
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that cares nothing for its people.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that actively denies the right of solemn franchise to many of its citizens.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that actively disrespects and discards its veterans.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that routinely sells its influence to the highest bidder or highest donor.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that harasses and guns down its citizens because of their race and color.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that will tax its middle class into poverty while giving the top 1% (ie. themselves) a pass.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that strives to keep the masses uneducated and deceived by making college education expensive and therefore unattainable by a vast majority of the populous.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that gives greedy corporations a pass on price gouging life saving medications to its people.
I will not pledge allegiance or give honor to a country that has turned its back on God, whatever God may be.

What frightens me the most, is the anger heaped upon Kaepernick and those of us who agree with him or maybe think like him.  It’s an instantaneous thing that seems to ignite with furious force.

"If you aren’t going to honor the flag then you'd better get out of my country!"
"If you aren’t going to honor the flag then I’m going to kick your ass."  

It reminds me of a grade school game we used to play where we would change the words to songs to make them funny.

“This land is my land,
It isn’t your land,
I’ve got a shot gun,
And you ain’t got one…”


So on and so forth.  Isn’t very funny anymore. Is it.

Those of us who conduct our silent protests by not standing for the National Anthem are well aware that there are consequences to not conforming to the nationalistic norms around us.  That there are consequences to exercising our rights of free speech.  We do not intend to demean or  disrespect the sacrifices made by the men and women of the armed services.  On the contrary, we hold them in the highest regard, we only want to make their sacrifices mean something by bringing awareness to the problems that the US has, and seems unwilling to fix.

The first step to fixing any problem is in recognizing that there is a problem to begin with.
 
Phrases like “The USA is the greatest country in the world,” “Land of the free and home of the brave,” and “The shining light on the hill,” are all denials of the problems faced by this country. 
 
Maybe if we could let the nationalistic pride go for just a few minutes and humble ourselves enough to recognize that the USA has some significant problems, that we are no longer the shining light on the hill, and that we are not the greatest country on the planet, then maybe we could actually fix a few things.
 
And maybe, if we actually took some time to consider our votes, that we actually voted for someone instead of against the other.  If we disregarded party and elected good people who would actually roll up their sleeves and work for the good of their constituents instead of the corporation with the largest check-book.
 
Maybe if we all worked for the good of the country instead of the good of ourselves, maybe we could relight that shining light on the hill.
 
Until then, I will sit through the national anthem and take the abuse from the flag wavers.

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