Anything More or Less

I have pondered this question for weeks. Watching the public forums and media for soapboxpilecracks. I have asked questions of friends and foes alike. I have broken my determination not to enter into the ugly on-line battles this year simply to see for myself if there are further erosion in our ability to communicate, compromise and more importantly, treat each other with some modicum of dignity and respect.

While not surprised by what I found, I was nonetheless terribly disappointed.

Even those people who I thought might be somewhat sane, somewhat reasonable could not find it in themselves to think for two minutes of a single thing they could compromise with the other side on. Not one single solitary thing.

Here was one of the questions I randomly posed:

This is a test:

Okay all my friends Right, Left and somewhere in the middle. Name one thing you can meet in the middle on. Just one thing you can extend your hand to the other side on, just one where you can say…”I don’t hate that, I can live with it; or forfend I don’t disagree”. Just one.

Now of those that actually answered, they first identified where they stood on the political spectrum; Right, Left, Middle. Then, without hesitation they proceeded to identify their own pet issue. Not an issue from the other side they would consider the possibility of compromise being reached, not something there could be discussion on. Nope, instead they threw out there the issue they wanted the other side to come to the table on. Stunning really. I should say, one of my Right leaning friends followed the question, actually put on the table something he was willing to discuss, willing to compromise on. One, out of many.

I wasn’t surprised, I was dismayed.058a84ba7d1093b3672befaf9b66ca28

Was the question unclear? I didn’t think so. I read it again, no the question was clear as could be. The problem is, the chasm is wider today than it was even six years ago. We are further apart and our willingness to listen, to reason, to consider alternatives and ultimately to reach compromises that are good for the nation, good for the greatest number of Americans not just our own tribe, our own self-interest is further diminished.

It is disheartening.

We are tearing ourselves and each other apart. We are being torn apart. We are allowing ourselves to be divided further. We have coalesced around special interests and forgotten we are first Americans, first One Nation. For all our problems, for all our terribles and yes, we have many to account for we are one people, one Nation. There is no one of reasonably sound mind who does not recognize the need to make real and fundamental changes. There is not a single person with a reasonable sense of history who does not understand there is much to be accounted for in our current social structure built upon the wrongs of the past. There is not a single person today, with a modicum of emotional intelligence who doesn’t understand we have a history that is fraught with baggage. The real issue for many though, is how to unpack that baggage and create a more perfect union, a more equitable and balanced society for our future.

What do you do? What can you do? Where do you even start? The worst part of this is whatwehearyou cannot take reasonable stands, it is impossible to say no. If you do you are labeled by one side or the other, this is the age of immediate offensive. No matter the issue, no matter the stance someone will take offense and there will be outrage somewhere and it will explode. We seem incapable of listening to anyone make a statement or ask a question without taking offense these days. We seem incapable of demanding others think as we do, speak as we command and ultimately march in line with us.

This is the age of immediate outrage, we no longer seem to have the capacity or an interest in civil and reasoned debate.

The problem with this? We do not all think alike, we do not all see the world in the same way and certainly we do not all experience the world similarly. Perhaps we have empathy, compassion for others but with the way we are speaking to each other, we are killing both. With the way we are defining our tribes today, we are further dividing ourselves and further minimizing our ability to build bridges toward a collective future that benefits us all.

I watch and listen, constantly. I must admit I fear for us as a nation and a people, I fear for our democracy. As each group rises up demanding their own slice from an empty pie dish, I fear for us all. As each small political voice gains their place at the podium and is pandered too for their votes, I fear for us. As the middle becomes an echo chamber and the fringe becomes the common voice I fear for us. I fear because the voice of reason seems to be disappearing from our national debate and the cults seem to be rising up around those would be leaders of our nation who have no ability or room for compromise in their range, who stand against everything this nation has stood for and call it ‘right’.

We are becoming more rigorous in our demand that others follow the dictates of new rules, new standards of behavior, new definitions of ‘right’ thinking. Never questioning who created or agreed to these new rules. Both sides have built walls with no room for the centrist, only for the fundamentalist, for the extremist leaving the majority of Americans without standard bearers, without political homes and without a voice in this new and frightening world of changing norms.

I am sad as I watch this nation torn down and torn apart. I am sad as I watch hate rise up and take its place center stage. I am sad as watch our progress be ripped away and in its place a denial to need. I am sad as I watch us repeat history because we failed to learn history. Mostly, I am sad because in place of coming together, we are tearing each other apart, we are pointing fingers and laying blame.

There is a piece of me that continues to hope, continues to wear my rose colored glasses and think we will come together, fix this mess and find our soul. I only know we have to first remember who we are, as a people and stop being so damned ridged and inflexible. We have to start listening, reaching across to others and bringing them in to our circle even if they don’t look like, sound like, or entirely think like us.

The Truth About Primates

The Democrats are all in, or should I say the party is floating their balloons seeing how many will stay in the air. There are women, men, old and young. There are Black, Soapbox LogoHispanic, White, Gay and Straight. There are some from the House some from the Senate, there are Mayors, Governors and those with zero public service experience. So far, there are twenty-one people who have thrown their hats in the ring, I am betting before the end of June there will be at least three more making it an even bakers dozen. I find it fascinating, there is very nearly a rock concert excitement leading up to the first debates, which are June 26 and 27, 2019.

In the meantime, the House pursues an agenda of who can out crazy the crazy (i.e. the Republican pursuit of all things Obama and Clinton under the sun without a single result except conspiracy theory and innuendo). Knowing they will get nowhere with their demands they make public displays of ‘doing their job’ of policing the criminal enterprise led by the current President and his band of corrupt and easily corruptible merrymakers. I am uncertain which is worse, the constant barrage of lies and terror tactics by the Administration or the inane competitiveness of the House with their investigations to nowhere. We all know these are investigations to nowhere because the President and his band of sycophants are only trying to run the clock out, hoping like hell his base will be enough to carry him into another four years. Depending on who the Democratic nominee is, it just might be given the mood of the nation at the end of eighteen months of bickering, dog fighting and one-upmanship.

Something to consider when as we view the field, most of us do not use our heads when we vote we use our emotions, our hearts. Most of us, when it comes right down to it are not logical thinkers, we are primates, we are Cro-Magnon. Most of us are truly not using our brains when we go to the polls to mark our ballots, indeed we are reacting with our85254449 basic instincts and this is why we have Donald Trump today and why we may have Donald Trump for another term, don’t hate me for saying what is the truth of this nation today. Hate what we have become. Hate that Donald Trump found the secret sauce. Hate the GOP elected officials for lining up behind him and protecting him. But do not hate me for pointing out the obvious; we do not use our heads, we do not use our logic, we do not use our power.

For just a minute, before you go away mad please consider the following:

Statistics Donald Trump Joe Biden Bernie Sanders Average American
Political Affiliation GOP DNC Dem. Socialist 50% Lean DNC
Age 73 76 77 38.1
Race White White White White
Gender Male Male Male Women
Net Worth $2.8B $900,000 $2,000,000 $224,000

In age bracket

Marital Status 3X 2X 2X 2X
  Divorced 2X Widowed 1X Divorced 1X *
Children 5 4 4 1.9**
Military Service No No No 7.3%

* 10.4% of 38 year old people have been married two times and 20.8% of 75 year old people have been married two times. Most recent available statistics.

** Average number of children per family today is 1.9

There is more, much more regarding the issue of how the three main candidates for president in 2020 stack up to the nation at large. But first, do you know what a generation is and which you fall into? It is important information, because social generations or ‘cohorts’ are far different than archaeological generations and depending on how we view this phenomenon our cohorts are either shortening or lengthening. Since we truly begin measuring Social Generations, these are the cohorts and their oldest member:

Cohort Name Birth Years Cycle Oldest Member Youngest Member
Lost Generation 1803-1900 17 Deceased
Greatest Generation 1901-1927 26 Deceased 92
Silent Generation 1925-1942 17 94 77
Baby Boomers 1946-1964 18 73 55
Generation X 1961-1981 20 58 38
Millennial 1980-2000 20 39 19
Generation Z 2001-   18 -1

With this information in mind, we have as our top contenders for the next POTUS two (2) members of the Silent Generation and one member at the high-end of the Baby Boomers. elderly-gangWe look at these men and think yeah, they look like us and without thinking we say YES.  Yes, despite they have nothing in common with us, despite they don’t represent our best interest, despite they should have long ago retired to a park bench; we pull that lever and say YES. Time and again we say yes, because we are primates rather than logical thinking beings.

We have all the evidence we need to say no. We have all the evidence and the power we need to make real change. We have a Constitution that enumerates the Powers of each branch of our government in finite detail, yet most of us would rather watch talking heads on our favorite television shows lie to us about those powers and then repeat those lies as if they were gospel. We fail, time and again to hold our employees accountable and responsible for doing their jobs, instead rewarding them for their failure by sending them back to do more damage, yes every single member of Congress (House and Senate) are our employees, Hell every single member of Government is our employee.TImeClock

We are primates, ruled by emotions, ruled by fear. We have allowed fear to destabilize our nation. We have allowed fear to turn us against friends and family. We have allowed fear to place us in harms way, turn us ugly and turn back the clock decades. We have allowed fear to seep into every single crevice of our lives, where now innocent conversation can become full blown battles for primacy in a matter of seconds. We have failed as a nation and a people to stand up to violence, to dog whistles, to constant barrages of lies. We have failed to demand better and now, with this next election around the corner we are being driven over an edge we may not recover from.

I am not going to apologize for my disdain of offering up three old White Guys as the best we have to offer this nation in the way of potential Presidents, I believe we can do better. I am also not going to apologize for my issues with the ignorance of those whose only offering is ‘FREE’ stuff as if this will solve the problems of this nation, have they looked at the out of control debt? I want real policies, real solutions for today’s problems and it is not ‘Free’ stuff, it is how to lift us all up to succeed. I want the candidates to address the issues of today with thoughtful answers, not Socialism wrapped in ribbons, sorry boys and girls I am an American fully invested in the Free Market and Capitalism, so correct the current problems with our Markets. I want all of us to get a grip on the issues, grow the Hell up and start using the brains we have, demand real answers because the truth is, we are not Primates we only act like it and that is why Donald Trump is President today and will be elected again if we don’t pay attention.

Here We Are

soapboxpileI have been reminded lately that perhaps I am too old to have a legitimate opinion regarding the state of our nation. Well, I am fine with this perspective coming from young people. I once held the same opinion regarding my own parents, grandparents, teachers and anyone over the age of thirty (30). Then, as I approached the age of thirty (30) I realized I was very wrong headed, at that age I was still very naive about the world, about so many things despite my place in it and my life up to that point. So now at the ripe old age of 61.5, I am perfectly fine if some young thing wants to tell me I don’t know shit, it is all good. The funny thing about this assessment of my knowledge and experience is this (Y=Yes, N=No, M=Maybe):

Experience Me Them
Been hungry and homeless Y N
Put myself through school twice Y N
Supported myself for forty-seven years Y N
Raised Children Y N
Fostered abused children Y N
Been gainfully employed Y M
Been unemployed with no fall back Y M
Been broke and couldn’t pay my bills Y M
Made money and lost it Y N
Been discriminated against due to my (Gender, Race, Orientation) Y M
Voted in eleven Presidential elections Y N
Traveled the world Y N
Lived without instant gratification and social media Y N
Lived outside of the country Y M
Survived violence Y M
Volunteered my time to social causes Y M
Read books about the world Y M
Talked to people who are not like me Y N
Remember Vietnam Y N
Remember 9/11 Y M
Had living relatives who were victims of the Holocaust Y N
Was alive when miscegenation was still illegal in the United States Y N

I could actually go on and on with the list above. It is simply a way of showing how our experience matters. How the visceral parts of our brains absorb the world around us, what we see, hear and do becomes a part of who we are and how we interact with the world and those that inhabit it. Without experience, we tend to ignore its very real value and think only terms of self. Without experience we focus on our own narrow views, wants and desires, disregarding the rest of the world and what the rest of humanity might know and need. Thus, by the reasoning of the young those who reach the age of +50, do not have a legitimate right to a say in the political state, the world is moving on without them.

Now we do have some young firebrands today and they have some hefty ideas about where the nation should be going. Setting at their head is an old dog, leading with his brand of Social Democracy and his own ideas of what is going to lead this nation to ‘prosperity’ and a new better living for all. The problem with all these ‘new’ ideas is they are unsupportable in a nation of three hundred and twenty-seven million (327,200,000) with a current National Debt of $22,246,547,690,900 ($22 Trillion) and rising every minute (US Debt Clock). These young ones, with their ideas of what is ‘right’ and what is ‘good’ have zero sense of history and apparently zero understanding of the real economy. I don’t doubt their sincerity, only their ability to process information in a meaningful way that makes sense to and for all of us. Lets just take two of their favorites, Health Care and Climate.

Here is my first problem with the direction of these young and old firebrands:

  • What works in Sweden (Population 10.2 million) will not necessarily work here.
  • What works in Canada (Population 37.3 million) will not necessarily work here, though with their public / private solution it is a better option.

Why? There is an enormous difference in the size of our populations. Nevermind, the difference in the make-up of our citizens. Pick any of the other nations these young ones compare us to, the same will apply. The only countries with larger populations than ours, India and China face similar challenges to ours, how to provide accessible medical care to their massive populations without incurring even more debt. Each time someone says to me Healthcare is a right, I agree with the caveat; how do you intend to pay for this right? I only want to know the answer to this question, I want to know that this has been thoroughly considered.

Now let’s take on the issue of Climate, those of us who have been on this earth for more than a couple of short decades might remember the rivers burning, the beaches as unusable and more than a few truly catastrophic oil spills. Some of us might remember the creation of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) by President Richard Nixon in December 1970 by Executive Order. These young firebrands might not know our

oilslicksurroundsthestatueoflibertyinnewyorkharborfromthesitesexhibitionforotherimagesinthis-nara-553862

New York Oil Slick, 1969

generation passed the Clean Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act and amended the Solid Waste Disposal Act. All of this and more was part of a much bigger push to make this nation safer and more environmentally aware. We were not unaware; we did not ignore the warning signs or the science even back then. It is only in recent years we have gone backwards in our acceptance of science in favor of dollars.

So yes, my old and unaware self might not know ‘shit’, but I know history and have a fair bit of experience and knowledge under my belt after all these many years. I know we have a true crisis on our hands with a President unfit to serve and a GOP enabling his every whim and lunacy. We have a Democratic Party who helped put him there once, not just at the polls but inside the black-and-white-trumpparty. I know if Democrats don’t stop with their purity tests, their inability to come together on key policy issues that fit the majority and the middle we will put this lunatic into the White House for another four years and if that happens this nation will be perhaps irretrievably lost. I know the firebrands are fun to watch, even have some interesting ideas but they are not the whole fabric rather they are the sparkly fringe around the edge and we need to calm them down and stop giving them so much of the attention they crave.

What else do I know? I know we currently have twenty (20) candidates running for the Democratic Nomination for President of the United States. Do you know who they are all are? What their platforms are? What differentiates them from each other? What qualifies them or for that matter disqualifies them? I know some people are already picking the horses they want to ride to the White House and tearing down the rest, not me. I want to hear them all in debates. I want to know who they are and listen to them talk about the issues. I want to investigate them. I don’t want to hear about their transgressions of thirty years ago, I do believe as humans we evolve. God knows I wouldn’t want anyone digging up my dirt from my thirties or worse, my twenties.

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY FIVETHIRTYEIGHT / GETTY IMAGES

The candidates – do you know their names

I know there a couple of the candidates I can drop from consideration without pause. They are entirely unqualified for the office and I have zero understanding of why they would throw their names in the ring except for personal ego.

Unlike 2016 I do not want the media picking my candidate and I don’t want super delegates telling me who the candidate is before I have an opportunity to cast my vote. Let me choose the one I believe has the best solutions, the best policies, the best opportunity to beat Donald Trump. I might not know shit but there is one thing I do know, we will not beat this President at the polls with purity tests and idiotic unsupported ‘ideals’ that appeal to a small but loud number of the electorate. If we don’t dv1954038get those who left the tent in 2016 to come home we are lost as a nation and we may never be found again.  So to all of us, we need to get a grip. We need to make certain we don’t toss out the old folks or the new ones. We need to make certain we grab the middle hard, we need to stop playing games with Race, Gender and all the other special cards we sometimes pander to. Let’s play hard and let’s play for keeps. This is our one and only chance to win the heart and soul of the real America, the one that counts, the one that includes every last one of us.

Deafening Silence

My silence is deafening, even to my own ears. It is not for lack of anything to say rather it is that there is far to much to say and the voices in my head keep whispering, arguing even that I should remain silent if I cannot find anything nice to say. I have nothing. This is the truth, I have a thousand voices in my head whispering, arguing, fussing and fighting and most of the time I sit on the sidelines listening. But me? I have nothing to say, or possibly it is I have so much to say it is impossible to place my thoughts into a cohesive, coherent and manageable context. But as the year meanders forward I am trying hard to write, just write outside of my journals.

What do I think? I think we, all of us in this nation are on the very brink of disaster. I think we are staring into the abyss I am afraid for us all. I wonder every single day if our systems will hold. Thus far, they have been falling apart without so much as a whimper from those we elect to act in our best interest and who take oaths to uphold the Constitution and our systems of government.

Speak truth to power is not new in our lexis, coined by the Quakers in the 1950’s, it is a commanding challenge, intended to be nonviolent, intended to codify our voices in our First Amendment and challenge injustice. Yet somehow this has become lost, somehow the courage to stand up, speak truth to power has been replaced with sniveling, groveling and speaking for power with no concern for truth. Somehow, somewhere in the past two years we the people have determined it is acceptable to set aside all moral reason and enable personal cowardice, political expediency and corruption as the new norm. Somehow, somewhere our new norm has become mean, no matter what side of the aisle you sit on mean is celebrated, activism encapsulated to mean agree with me or else and ugly is valued.

Oh, yes I am aware there are those who speak out, yet even they are speaking out for their own truth rather than a national truth, a national best interest despite the mantle they drape themselves in. Then there are those who question just where the national conscious disappeared to, yet they do so loudly and at every opportunity they seem to be part of the problem sometimes. So many of these new young guns are so far to the other side of the argument they are difficult to ‘hear’ without questioning their motives, their values and their ultimate goals. As these standard bearers of the ‘new’ age come into their own they are fascinating to watch, somewhat like a snake charmer is fascinating but one wonders always when that Cobra will strike, killing the Charmer and everyone else within range. With their sincerity and passion for breaking the middle and demanding their way or no way, they are the new Tea Party, ready to destroy everything in their path, throwing out everything and everyone they deem irrelevant or out of step.

Lately, my voice has been silenced by my utter dismay at the fervor some have shown to take on the any and all who are not aligned to them. What I mean by this is those who were once ‘normal’, once compassionate, once willing to listen, once willing to argue and debate even if passionately for their positions are no longer willing to do these things. Those who once cheered Michelle Obama saying, “when they go low, we go high”; now reach for the lowest point and swing with glee. The world is upside down, inside out and without boundaries. Those who once stood for something, even if I disagreed stand for nothing at all but the very ugliest of our nature and our common history. Those who once believed in something believe in nothing at all but are sheep following their ‘belief’ into disaster, willing to believe any lie so long at it is told by their side of the great divide.

I don’t just say this about one side or the other of the political spectrum, but about both sides. It seems we are at a breaking point, we have dumbed down the populace to such a degree it is better to believe a lie than to demand truth, better to inflate invention than hold not only our elected officials but ourselves to a higher standard. We willingly deliver into social media every single day memes that insult our friends and then ask, ‘what?’. We fail, miserably and frequently to understand what we say and do affects our relationships not just today but forever, or maybe we have sunk so low we don’t care. We willing defend the indefensible at the expense of life-long friendships and family rather than consider the consequence of our jumping into fray.

I must be honest, I do this myself. React to something I find offensive, then regret my actions and words immediately. Thus, my silence becomes deafening, even to my own ears. Afraid to speak, afraid to defend, afraid to react. Never have I found myself without words, never in my entire life have I found myself afraid to offend. Now though, today and in this toxic and terrible nation we have allowed to thrive around us all, now I am terrified.

Aren’t you?

The Wilderness

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Abraham Lincoln

Soapbox LogoI find myself sitting, sometimes for hours, with nothing in my heart but despair for a nation and a people that seems to have lost all semblances of good, all impression of humanity and all appearance of what was at one time something to polish and throw across our shoulders like a mantle of hallelujah and can’t touch this. We are too frequently a sorry lot these days, pathetic because if you are old enough to know better, old enough to remember real heroes, you know today we fall far short too often we are not anywhere near what we once were. This is not wishful thinking or a desire for a past that was not all that grand for many of us; it is a desire for what was good about our people and our nation a wish for our better angels to rescue us.

Led by fools wrapped in false patriotism and draping themselves in more and more elaborate regalia of power, hanging their sense of victimization on the cross of rotting hypocrisy with the Prosperity Gospel as their guiding principal of pretentious faith, we lap up the Reality Soap Opera our government has become. We hang on the Tweets, flip channels seeking the most salacious version of the latest utterings and engage in on-going debates of what, why and who which grow increasingly heated even breaking families and decades old friendships against the debacle of the current political maelstrom. In the process we play into the hand of those who spent years and worked hard to dumb down a nation, distracting us from the real issues to focus on a clueless, classless buffoon with a big button, three baby mama’s and a lifetime in the tabloids. Trailing behind him tails dragging and equally indefensible are his mind-numbing minions digging in to do his will as we watch in dismay the nation brought low by their treacherous acts.

There is no calamity which a great nation can invite which equals that which follows a supine submission to wrong and injustice and the consequent loss of national self-respect and honor, beneath which are shielded and defended a people’s safety and greatness.

Eldridge Cleaver

I am stunned. Where once stood heroes now the stage is filled with an assembly of

45 and others

GOP with 45 celebrate Tax Bill

Fiends and Brutes, all jockeying for the front row wanting to take credit, be the first to claim the honor of destroying what is good and sane about us, replacing it with cruelty, banality and sometimes even evil. Where once stood heroes we are left with these slavish servants of duplicity and ignorance spewing their toxic venom on friend and foe alike.

Yet here we find ourselves today, in this once great nation led by cowards and calling those who are tasked with keeping us safe, who place themselves at risk to do so, those who swear oaths to uphold the laws of this land “Nazi’s”, “Jackbooted Gestapo”, “Stormtroopers”; was there anything else? I am certain I missed something, nevermind that should suffice. Looking out on the nation turned upside down and on its head, smiling as the real new generation Nazis march down our city streets waving swastikas and shouting slogans snatched directly from a history seeped in the blood of our grandparents and the horror of mass graves and genocide. These modern day radical nationalist can do nothing but nod their empty heads as they proclaim there are fine people in those mobs.

This President with every act makes us less than what we once were. I am stunned at the level of corruption we are sunk to. This nation cheers as this president tears up every treaty, destroys every alliance, gleefully pisses on every norms. What once saw a nation torn apart to its roots is now the forth column on the fifth page of the weekly paper as a cartoon.

What will ultimately demand our attention? Finally force us to take stock at what we have done to ourselves with this self-inflicted act of ignorance. What will finally break s836329897140350377_p90_i2_w288the cloak of silence around our better angels, cause them to unfurl their wings and unsheathe their swords to fight for what remains of the good in us and this nation.  Will we truly simply allow this side show to play out, praying the Democrats find their missing backbone and at a minimum perform their duties and stop this administration and their fellows in Congress from the worst of their actions? Or will we instead continue to submit to what is the very worst in what this nation and its people and have been.

I personally pray this is not the only solution we have. At this rate we are in for another six years of this Horror Show, by then it will truly be too late to save us.

Game Over

One hundred days, really it has only been just over one hundred days. I am not going to rail against the current President of the United States, it is not worth my time or the click-clack of my nails against the keyboard. There is too much to say, too much to rail against and many others have made it their lives work to pound their heads against that immovable object. Instead, I am going to take on the other side of the house, the other apparently immovable object….the DNC, the Progressives, the Liberals of this nation.

My first question, just what the hell is wrong with you people?

Do you think I am asking this question in a vacuum?  It is an honest question, what the hell is wrong with all of us? We are shrinking the tent, making ourselves smaller and less interesting to the common man and woman in the streets. We are in fact scaring the bejeezus out of many of the everyday people we say we represent. So I have to ask, just what the hell is wrong with all of us.

People who say they represent our interests, say they are Progressives / Liberals / Democrats are rioting in the streets of cities, tearing up businesses and personal property and we say nothing. We say not one single thing at all. Instead, we sit back and allow the Anarchists to run wild in the streets and we shrug our shoulders.

People who say they represent us, our interests are standing up in public making the most ridiculous statements, including the idea of ‘purity tests’ on seated Democratic Congress men and women and Senators in secure districts. Yes, that’s right purity tests. Let me help you on this one, we don’t all have to think exactly alike, we don’t all have to tow the line on every single issue, we are not the Tea Party or the Freedom Caucus. We are, I hope, the party that invites those who are from many walks of life and who seek to be represented by intelligent, thoughtful people who will vote their conscious and in most cases vote in support of a platform we can agree on, one that is representative of a wide range of people from many walks of life.

I need to point something out right here, we do not all vote for every Congressional Representative or Senator. The people of their district or state vote for them, in state elections. The duty of the Congressperson or Senator, even while voting on legislation that affects the entire nation is to also represent their own constituents in the best way possible. If they are doing a good job, they are representing all their constituents, not just the ones who voted for them, not just the ones who scream the loudest, but all of them!

So let’s have a conversation about why we find ourselves where we are. Maybe first we should define exactly where that is, before we move on to more esoteric discussions.

  • 33 States have Republican Governors, which amounts to 60% of the population
  • 25 States Republicans have a Trifecta, where they control both Legislative Houses plus the Governor’s Mansion

This brings us to Washington, that quagmire of corruption.

  • White House, Independent Donald Trump spent his entire life as a Democrat until he decided to run for president. He picked up on the worst of the rhetoric, appealed to the lowest common denominator and hijacked the Grand Old Party.
  • Far Right Wingnut Mike Pence is his loyal lap dog, went along with him. Colluded in every scheme and made excuses for his madness. All to be one step closer to the office chair he would never have gained on his own.
  • Congress and the Senate swept in on his coattails. Where usually we would have checks and balance instead we have nothing but more complicity, more turn the other way and hope like hell you aren’t caught in the coming storm. They are falling, slowly and one by one, they are falling.
  • Supreme Court, we lost it already. Be fully aware it is gone unless something dramatic happens to bring this entire administration down to its knees SCOTUS is gone for a generation. Shame on all of us.

So how did we get here? It wasn’t in a single election. It wasn’t because we blinked in 2016. It wasn’t because White Women voted for the wrong candidate (Trump). It wasn’t because not enough people got out to vote. Stop, stop here and now with the blame game and the finger pointing. Really? It makes you look unintelligent, every single time I read some post or blog blaming everyone but the true culprits, I cringe.

Trump is President of the United States because he won the election according to our laws, according to our rules. The fact of the matter is we, every single person who calls themselves a Progressive, a Liberal or a member of the corrupt Democratic National Party put him in that office just as surely as those who voted for him.

We blinked. We didn’t fight at the state and local level when the RNC was pouring money into those elections and gerrymandering those states to ensure the future. We didn’t pay attention as we slowly bled Governors and state legislatures; as cities flipped and one by one congressional seats flipped, we ignored the signs. We thought the only important thing was the office of President so that was all we paid attention to. We allowed the DNC to unwisely pick battles, withhold much-needed money from winnable battles, losing fights we could have won had we just had a little more help from a national party with more than enough money to spend.

We didn’t complain when the DNC put up a bad candidate. Yes, I said it Hilary Clinton was a bad candidate and she ran a bad campaign. She lost because she shouldn’t have run. She had too much baggage, she may be an accomplished woman but she should have bowed out, recognized it was not her time, would never be her time. She should have given this nation a fighting chance. She put herself ahead of us. That should have been our first clue she was a bad damned candidate. Then she had the audacity to ignore entire states, believing she could afford to not campaign, to not show up.  Now? Frankly, I wish she would sit down and shut the hell up for just a little while.

Purity tests? What do you, the DNC and others exactly want to test for? Oh, yeah I know what these tests are don’t get me wrong. You all want to be certain Senators and Congress people are Left enough for you. You want everyone to be exactly aligned with some mythical party line, voting records so pure as to require sunglass to be read. But that isn’t realistic, is it? We don’t all align on every single issue, we disagree on many issues truth be told. The reality is, what we should want is a loosely built coalition of like-minded individuals who will vote in the best interests of the nation, seeking common ground with the other side when possible and demanding the best solution for our national security, economic health and civil rights and freedoms at all times. The fact of the matter is, we need strong, independent men and women who will help us frame the future. We need those who are not afraid to take on party politics when those politics are not in our best interests. We need those who will speak from the floor of Congress for the people of their district and their nation, against injustice from wherever it comes.

Frankly, we need new blood. We need to flush the two houses of Congress of all those who have made of living off of swimming in the quagmire that is Washington politics. We need to demand term limits. We need to demand those term limits extend to the Courts, including the Supreme Court. The only way we quash corruption is to take the issue into our own hands. Purity tests? Really?

I am an Independent for a reason, I could not pass a Purity Test. This is what I look like:

60% Progressive

20% Liberal (yes there is a difference)

10% Conservative (did you guess that?)

10% Libertarian

Really think about your politics. Can you honestly say you are all one thing, entirely one thing? That you cannot find common ground with your opponents, ever on any issue. We have come to an impasse in this nation and it is frightening. We, on the Left though, we are hypocrites and we need to get our house in order before next year. We need to stop our hand-wringing and whining about the last election and start figuring out how we are going to take back at least one House in Washington and some of the States. How we are going to undo some of the damage done over the past twenty years that allowed this disaster to take place. If we don’t step up our game, it is over for a very long time to come.

Whether I Like it or Not

Soapbox LogoWith a flick of the wrist, a twist or a pull we have introduced into our nation the most openly corrupt, venal and hostile administration we have ever been witness too. On 9 November 2016 many woke thinking their worst nightmare had been realized, never thinking they hadn’t seen anything yet. It was only just beginning.

Some thought, I will just wait and see.

Some thought, hurray my side won now it is my turn.

Some thought, this is the end and all I have and all I am will be lost.

Me? I am in the middle of one and three. I am a pragmatic Progressive Independent who believes in America, Americans and the US Constitution. I long for this nation to be the best it can be and recognize there is a very long way to go. I also realize many of us, most of us will disagree as to what ‘best’ looks like and therein lies one of our most fundamental problems.

What is the best we can be? As that icon of Conservatives Ronald Reagan said in his farewell address;

 ‘I’ve spoken of the Shining City all my political life. …In my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of rreaganfreeall kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.’

What few mention, these words are lifted from John Winthrop, the first Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony and despiser of all things Democratic or even having a whiff of religious tolerance. Yes, when our presidents and president’ wannabe from both sides reference that shining city, they show their ignorance of history, this is who they are quoting:

  • Massachusetts Body of Liberty, 1641, this is a special document and I urge you to pay special attention to Women’s and Children’s Liberties and Capital Laws. Scroll through all of them though since our friend Winthrop had a special love for torturing accused witches.
  • Governor John Winthrop, I urge you to read other letters and links. He was at best a piece of work.

I use this historical reference only to define a back-to-the-future moment. Our current President used the slogan “Make America Great Again” to stir a base that felt left behind. Donald J. Trump stepped into and took advantage of the maelstrom, he reaped what the DNC and the GOP had sown, and he did it gleefully. We shook our head and said, “He can’t win”, meanwhile he sucked up airtime and all the oxygen in the room, surrounding himself with sycophants and psychopaths willing to do his bidding.

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN

Strip Civil Rights from those who don’t look like me, worship like me, love like me. Which includes anyone who doesn’t fall into all of the following:

guy-with-moneyCaucasian, Male, College Educated, Christian (at least in name), Heterosexual (at least publically), net worth at least +$500,000 (yes this is real, though you will be forgiven this one if you are working toward it and someone vouches for you)

Everyone else? Your value is limited too:

Labor, photo op, votes (while you still have voting rights)

President Donald J. Trump and his co-President Stephen K. Bannon are everything we should fear. Each in his own way are the antithesis of who we say we are as a nation and a people. They are the very worst of us, bundled together and running our nation by edict from the Oval Office. Surrounding them are those willing to turn a blind eye on their worst actions and blatant lies by calling it something else, Alternative Facts or someone else’s error.

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN

By whose standard? Based on what criteria? When America is great again, where will you be in the pecking order?

Today, those of us on the Left are protesting everything and demanding of our representatives in Washington they should block everything. This demand is tantamount to shutting down how government functions. Do we really want to take a page from the GOP playbook? Are we really going to be guilty of the same bad behavior as our ideological opponents? What others see, ‘disrupters’, ‘anarchists’, ‘rioters’ and worse hypocrites. What they hear? “Do as I say, not as I do”. We are protesting Donald J. Trump instead of his policies, instead of his actions, instead of his corruption, instead of the specific issues though we react to the immediacy of the issue at hand we are not, in fact, doing anything more than reacting to Donald Trump. We have frankly, not moved off our disappointment at losing the election and continue to beat that drum; STOP IT!

political-spectrum

 

Am I suggesting we should not protest? Not at all. I am suggesting we should not protest every single thing, every single nominee, and every single uttered word. I am suggesting we should pick wisely our battles. I am suggesting we should stop blocking roads, blocking access to hearing out the other side, I am suggesting we should be speaking up when college students prevent free speech on campus. I am suggesting we come together, stop bitching about our majority win and use that to our advantage to win back state houses, governor mansions and Congress in the next two years. I suggest we start playing Checkers, the long game, the next census is in 2020, if we don’t have critical governor mansions in our hands by that time, we will never regain Congress, state legislatures or the Supreme Court before 2030.

The America of the future will be isolated, will be great no more, and will be dull and frightening. Stop playing Tit-for-Tat, this is not the way we win! Stop focusing on short gains and start looking toward the future we all want for our nation and the world. Sure this President is not who I would have picked, nevertheless, he won by our laws so he is who we have either for the next four years or until he does something so egregious even his own party can no longer turn a blind eye. I just remind you who is standing in the wings waiting to take the oath of office, be careful what you wish for.

inthewings

Make America Great Again? Start with our own behavior lead by example, stop following the example of the opposition.

Just for a quick giggle: By State Most Questions Asked Since Election

How Now

Soapbox LogoI am the enemy. Yes, I said it. I am the enemy. I don’t live my life with this intention. I don’t wake in the morning thinking, “what can I do today that will harm another person, create chaos or stranger danger”. Nevertheless, I am the enemy.

Why do I say I am the enemy? I will answer you in as succinct a way possible. I am the enemy because many have identified me as such. Not because I have done or said anything specifically, not because of my beliefs or my political ideology, which have not changed in 40 years. I am the enemy because of my demographics.

Appearance/Race: White

Gender: Female

Age: 59.5

Orientation: Straight

Economic Status: Middle Class (not really)

Ignorant? Yes. Foolish? Yes. Nonetheless, since waking up on 9-November-2016 many of my friends, some of my neighbors and many strangers have identified me as ENEMY.

The 2015-2016 election cycle has been harsh and ugly. It has brought out the worst in the American people. It has unleashed every single thing that is ugly in our psyche and without a backwards glance said, ‘there you go, have at it’.

In 1956 W.E.B. Dubois condemned both parties and made an argument for why he would not vote in the upcoming election between incumbent Dwight Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson. This eloquent and damning indictment of American politics is as relevant today as it was then, it was published in The Nation, October 1956, read it here.

For me, the most significant statement of the entire essay is this;

I believe that democracy has so far disappeared in the United States that no “two evils” exist. There is but one evil party with two names, and it will be elected despite all I can do or web-duboissay.

We have drawn a line in the sand and erected walls to our absolutes. The very things we condemn in others we adopt for ourselves and call good. We do not see our own hypocrisy, we do not acknowledge our own terrible for what it is, both Terrible and Tragic.

The problem in how we are reacting to the election of Donald J. Trump? We are looking for excuses, seeking to lay blame anywhere we can, enemy and ally alike. In doing this we looked first to the easiest target, anyone ‘not exactly like us’ which included allies and with broad brush strokes, we named Enemies. We have refused to look in the mirror, at our candidates and the past eight years and accept we have significant work to do at the grassroots; if we ever wish to regain moral authority, political power or the ability to move this nation towards better days for all citizens, we must begin inside the party of supposed progressive thought and make real change.

Having the Presidency simply isn’t enough. The past eight years should have proven this, clearly though we didn’t learn a damn thing. We lost State House after State House, we lost Governorship after Governorship, we lost the House and the Senate and we lost our standing on the World Stage. We paralyzed a Democratic President through our failure to pay attention, through our focus on the specialty and special needs rather than looking at the overall needs of the nation, listening to the voice of the nation cry out. We failed the nation and the world, not just the few but the many. Donald J. Trump may be the culmination of years of GOP talking points, fear mongering and baiting of all kinds; but, we own him as much as the GOP owns him, we own him through our inattention to the bigger picture.

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There are several examples of our inattention, or better our attention to the specialty while ignoring the larger or overarching issues. We failed to look at what is critical:

  • The real economy
  • Real American jobs
  • Fear in Middle America

We failed to pay attention to word on the street about

  • Immigration, both legal and illegal and the cost of American jobs
  • Crime and Justice in America, the real cost to America
  • Rising cost of Healthcare

We failed to address the issues that mattered to Americans, such as:

  • Growing poverty across the American landscape
  • Ongoing War and our returning veterans
  • Our International reputation

We did not listen and speak to the heart of America, we did not address their fears of a failing American Dream.

When the only answer to a question that disagrees with your point of view is the following, “You are (Pick One and Insert: White, Heterosexual, Above the Poverty Line) you are not allowed an opinion regarding this subject”, you are over the line and you have turned an ally into at best a disinterested third party. At worst, you have turned an ally into the opposition. When the only answer to dissent or disagreement is name calling or labeling, you have turned a potential ally into an enemy.

When the voice of the minority becomes larger, louder and more important than the whole we lose. This is a simple fact proven with the election of Donald J. Trump.

When we demand strict adherence to ideology without question or dissent we lose, proven by the election of Donald J. Trump.

When we name enemy those who question or speak out, where they see potential danger or unrighteousness we lose; proven by the election of Donald J. Trump.

When we veer so far off course, forgetting all but those representing the special interests and demanding adherence to their interests alone we scare the rest of the nation. When we name any and all who question or disagree, “Bigots, Racists, Homophobes, Xenophobes, Sexists, Misogynists….”, we lose, proven by the election of Donald J. Trump.

So now we are two (2) days away from the inauguration of Donald J. Trump. Not my choice for President of the United States of America. I am greatly afraid for this nation. I pray we will find a way to manage this man who will be POTUS, who does not seem to understand the gravity of the office he will hold. Who has nominated to his Cabinet men and women who adhere to positions that are destructive and against every tenet this imperfect nation is built upon.

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If we are to answer this Presidency with real solutions and ensure the least harm we must begin to heal ourselves, we must see beyond the ‘not like me’ to the common ground. If we are to find solutions, we must start with the open hand rather than the closed fist. It must start with the reminder, we are Americans first, we have common goals and all the other labels do nothing but set us back, play into someone else’s desired outcome to keep us separated and screaming rather together and talking.

I am not the enemy, though some have labeled me as such even those who once proclaimed to love me.

Really America, WTF

Soapbox LogoI simply can’t imagine how we got to this place in time. I know, I have watched it all and often railed against it all; yet still I simply am unable to wrap my head or heart around why we are here, at this place as a nation, as a people. My only real and heartfelt reaction to it all is, REALLY JUST WHAT THE FUCK.

I am struggling to make sense of it all. Trying to understand the definitions and terminology. What we say and believe and just how quickly we erase history so we can pretend something new is the only thing that is true. My heart weeps for Orlando. There are no words to express the tragic and terrible of what has happened, for those gone and for those left behind who must now pick up the pieces of and move forward.

160615121206-02-orlando-reax-0615-exlarge-169

CNN: Mourners at one of many makeshift memorials in Orlando

The human lives lost, the human lives changed forever these are what our focus should be. It didn’t take long though for our focus to change to labels and politics. It wasn’t but mere minutes before we discovered and begin to shift through the blood and anguish, searching for the agenda to latch onto; depending on our own deep-seated and personal design. Never mind, the humanity and need of those in the center of this terrible tragedy, those ‘who knew best’ saw the opportunity and like leeches they attached and attacked.

There are those who see this as an opportunity to raise the flag on gun control. Well yes, there is a need to have this discussion. Most reasonable, thinking people agree. But did you need to flood social media and my inbox with reminders within 3 hours, before bodies were removed from the streets? Before loved ones were informed of their loss? I am on your side, truly I am but I would prefer if you would show some empathy and compassion. I would also prefer it if you would stop using the same tactics as the opposition, stop using fear. Get your facts straight, start calling things what they are rather than what suits your agenda, stop using hyperbole, please. Don’t misinform, inform.

imagesThen there are those who want to raise the flag of Islamophobia (Donald). This really is a red herring and thinking people know it is. We know there is an element of violent and radical Muslims in the world, just as with any religion there is an extreme element and they commit terrible acts. We see their horror stories and hear their latest atrocities screamed at us, constantly. We need only turn on our television to hear about their latest acts of violence against those of their own faith (their primary victims) or be reminded how they hate us by the talking heads of the Right. We need only listen long enough to hear commentators tell us how they are representative of the entire Islamic faith, all 1.6 billion of them. In our minds, we know this is a lie. We know, yet we are afraid because we listen and we can’t help ourselves.

The reality is each and every single time another tragedy happens we look for a reason, beyond the obvious. Another asshole, another disenfranchised, miserable human being murdered innocent people. Maybe they were Christian (Dylan Roof, Timothy McVeigh) Extremist who wanted to strike a blow for their religion or race or gender or maybe all three or any combination. Maybe they were Radicalized Muslims (Tashfeen Malik and Syed Rizwan Farook) who wanted to show their loyalty to their religious ideology. It doesn’t really matter, does it? Terrorism is exactly what it is, no matter where it comes from. We shouldn’t apply a different standard when it is committed by Christians versus Muslims, it is one and the same thing ultimately; it is a violent act against Americans, against America. It is a tragedy costing life and freedom.

 

What I know is the person who shot up Pulse was sick, a lost soul and we as a nation shouldn’t focus on him, shouldn’t give him status in our dialog. He wasn’t a terrorist rather he was a single human being, he hated himself and sought to murder what he hated most in himself. He attacked those he feared and hated; murdering what he hated. He claimed allegiance to a terrorist group in his final hours, he self-radicalized over the months prior to his terrible and tragic act, yet in truth by all the accounts of those who knew him he wasn’t religious. He was, simply self-hating, racist, closeted and lost. He struck out and destroyed lives in his self-hatred. Remember though, he wasn’t an immigrant, he was an American he was one of us.

What I know, there are forty-nine innocent Americans dead. There are fifty-three innocent Americans wounded. There are one hundred and three families who will have to figure out how to put their lives back together, how to get up out of bed every day, make it through the day and live with the horror of lost lives, lost loved ones, lost futures and what ifs.

I weep for Orlando. One more community that must pick up the pieces. I weep for America, once again we must look at ourselves and it seems we will turn our backs on what is so obvious. Our refusal to fix what is so terribly broken. The great divide and our failure to act, to stem the tide of hate and fear and the violence it invokes.

We must ask ourselves, are we one people or many small communities?

Do we come together, working for common cause and finding compromise or do we continue to dig the trench wider and deeper?

Are we Americans or do we continue to place the hyphen in front to create the definition of who we are, separate and apart from each other; always. Do we stand up together and build one America for all of us, no matter our differences. Do we search for ways to come together or do we finally fail as a nation. Do we allow the hate-mongers, the monsters to win, to finally draw the lines of segregation back into place, build the walls so high we never see over them again or do we stand up, as a single people in solidarity and say no more, never again and stop what is causing us to fail.

I weep for America, I weep us all.

 

Lambs to Slaughter

635522618755355850-AP-Women-In-Combat-001My people, my people. My fellow Progressives, Liberals, Democrats, do-gooders, my sisters and feminists in the trenches ….what the fuck is wrong with you?

Yes I just said it and now I am going to explain it.

Women in combat. I cannot be silent on this one any longer. Those of you who believe we, that is women, should do anything and everything men do can demand my Feminist card be returned in the mail immediately and I will send it back postage due. The fact is men and women are different, we simply are not the same. Some of those differences are of course socially imposed, I get that and agree. Yet, some of those differences are natural, they are bone, spirit, heart and mind; they are the truth of our being.

Yes, I know many nations have had women in combat for decades, if not more than decades. The problem is, if you look at their records you will find there are very few women actually serving in combat units. I fear we will not follow these vanguard nations, no we will instead throw young women to the wolves both our own and those of the enemy.

tammy-duckworth

Tammy Duckworth

I grant you, some women want to be warriors. Some women want the privilege of standing up and fighting for this nation. Some women can earn that privilege with no special quarter given, they should be able to do this with no walls or glass ceiling standing between them and their dreams. Those women who have this wish, should be given every opportunity, without barriers including the right to advance to the highest levels in every branch of our military and I say more power to them.

With this being said, are you aware the Generals have asked that our daughters just like our sons should be made to sign up for Selective Service on their eighteenth birthday? Did you know Armed Services Committee of Congress is considering this, so far there has been NO decision? Do you know what this means? Do you know if a Draft is reinstated your daughters, just like your sons could be called and they will not be given a choice where and how they serve?

Is this what you want for your daughters?

Maybe some of you are too young to remember Vietnam and the Draft. Maybe you don’t remember thousands of flag draped coffins being unloaded every night on the news, coffins filled with young men who didn’t want to fight and die on foreign soil, in a war they didn’t understand or didn’t agree with. Maybe some of you are too young to remember, I am not.

While we don’t have a draft today, who is to say we won’t have one in the future. Each of the GOP Presidential candidates want to build a bigger, stronger military so who is to say one of their solutions wouldn’t be to reinstate the Draft, so all our children, all our sons and daughters could be cannon fodder for their dreams of World Domination. Keeping in mind, it won’t be their sons and their daughters, just as none of them ever served a single day fighting or bleeding neither will their progeny, but yours and mine, yes they will fight and they will be returned without limbs, unsound in their spirits and minds or in flag draped coffins.

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What is wrong with us, by us I do mean women in particular but all of us in this nation?

Why do we sit idly by as our nation is torn apart and say nothing? We do we sit idly by as our children are put at risk and say nothing? What is wrong with us?

We are not the same, the genders are different physically and emotionally. I am not ever going to change my position on women in combat, I do not believe they belong. If a woman wants to be there, can perform in these positions without putting others at risk I will support her right to do so, but I don’t believe it is a natural setting either physically, emotionally or mentally for most women.

I have two young grandsons and two young granddaughters, I don’t want any of them to ever see a war up close and personal. Not ever. I want those I love to be safe. I want the next generation to have futures that are bright and full of promise unlike those of my generation who returned from the rice paddies and jungles of Vietnam broken, addicted and forever changed.

I am bothered that neither of the Democratic candidates have addressed this issue. I think we all should be bothered as the election year progresses that these issues go under the radar and no one says a word. The GOP stomps their feet and screams bloody murder to the infidel. The Democrats stay silent.

Silence is not golden, it is a death knell.

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