History to Now

“There is no sanctuary so holy that money cannot profane it, no fortress so strong that money cannot take it by storm.”
-Marcus Tullius Cicero

Since Reagan left office, he has continued to hold an unassailable approval rating of approximately 68%. Despite scandals, voodoo economics, and a host of other questionable issues, the one thing we can hold him to history’s harsh review and still say, “yes, here he led the way,” was 1987. Are you scratching your head and wondering, what happened in 1987 that we should hail Ronald Reagan for?

In 1987, Reagan delivered an openly provocative speech to Gorbachev, then President of the Soviet Union that ended with “Tear Down this Wall.” Two years later, the wall came down. Shortly thereafter, Reagan and Gorbachev embarked on a series of summits to limit nuclear weapons and fully end the Cold War. While Gorbachev was by far the more significant of the two men, given the hill he had to climb, Reagan rightfully continues to be celebrated for his part in ending the first Cold War.

Shortly thereafter, in 1994 the Ukraine, along with Belarus and Kazakhstan signed the Budapest Memorandum, with the US, UK and Russia guaranteeing their security in return for their denuclearization. At the time the Ukraine was the third-largest nuclear power in the world behind Russia and the United States. I am betting they regret that decision today.

This brings us to today. Day twenty (20) of the Russian invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine. Vladimir Putin came to power in 2012 his perspective and style are very different from that of his two predecessors, Gorbachev, and Yeltsin. To be clear, Vladimir Putin is ferocious, autocratic, and entirely outside of international norms. What Putin wants is for Russia to be a world power. He started with his invasion of Georgia in 2008, the West barely lifted an eyebrow. Leading to his annexation of Crimea and Donbas in 2014, originally part of Ukraine, where again the West barely moved from their stance of pacification.

Two things that should be noted by anyone interested in following the line of Russian aggression, in both cases:

  • There was a series of cyberattacks. These were preceded by a sophisticated disinformation campaign and an outright attempt to meddle in domestic politics.

Other Baltic nations have seen these same tactics deployed against them. The United States is certainly familiar with these as well. Georgia was only the practice run at what was to become Putin’s SOP (Standard Operating Procedures).

Now to what is truly terrifying.

Putin is looking to annihilate the Ukrainian people.  The Russian army has no limitations on their targets,  residential areas, hospitals, orphanages, aid convoys. The people in cities are in most cases without food, water, heat; it is a human tragedy of catastrophic proportions. Refugees, mostly women and children, old people are fleeing in the millions to neighboring nations.

In the meantime, here at home what are we doing? We are putting the Ukrainian flag on our Facebook profile while we bitch about the price of gas. We are sending up thoughts and prayers for the people of Ukraine while we complain about our supply chain, our inflation; hell, just about every damn thing. We have a ‘united’ Congress to aid Ukraine, while at the same time, leaders of the GOP hold pressers about how the President should have provided aid more rapidly.

Did something just strike a chord? Did they forget it was their own fearless leader who held up aid? Did they forget so soon the first impeachment of Donald J. Trump, which the entire GOP Senate but one who voted against? But I digress.

We here in America are a selfish bunch. Selfish and stupid in fact. We are led by the nose by our immediate needs and our immediate wants. We have zero understanding of how the real world operates. What we are concerned with is only what affects us, right now. It is this mindset that gives us the dysfunctional government we have today. It is this mindset that provides us with the churn we generally see at mid-term elections. Our inability to understand the real economy. Our failure to look beyond the right here and right now, causes us to elect fools and hustlers to lead what was once the greatest nation and is now something far less.

Every single time some talking head in the Pro Putin GOP talks about the price of gas, the Keystone Pipeline, or inflation they are repeating Russian propaganda and propping up Trump talking points. This is critical to understand. Whether or not your Pro-Trump family and friends will ever grasp these very real facts or not, it is important for these facts to be available and that every average American learn them and start repeating them.

  1. The Keystone Pipeline would have no impact on the price of gas. It was intended to bring dirty tar sands oil down from Canada to be refined and then shipped to China. It would not provide a supply to the US. It did not add long-term economic benefits.
  2. The cause of rising gas prices is twofold, speculation and supply. During the pandemic, worldwide refineries slowed down production due to demand. The cost of gas at the pump is a direct reflection of rising demand and limited supply. Russia is now restricted from the supply chain creating even greater limitations. Additionally, since January when Putin first begin threatening Ukraine’s borders, speculation has been driving oil prices up. Barrel of oil goes up, you and I are paying the price at the pump. While the President could ask the US oil companies to release their reserves to the market, he cannot demand they do so except during War, we are not at this time at war.

The other option the President has at this time is to tap into the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, this could relieve some but not all pressure. It would also cause disruption to already stressed markets which we should want to avoid. This brings me back to the fact; we are selfish and self-serving in this nation. We decry the price of gas for our big trucks and SUV’s. We complain about the cost of food at the grocery store. Some of us though spend our days listening to the ravings of the pro-Putin arm of the GOP and their apologists on Fox and elsewhere while real human beings in Ukraine are starving, while children are dying of dehydration, while bombs are targeted at residential buildings, children’s hospitals and families are simply trying to escape the carnage. While fools with over inflated egos are beating their chests with their pretend versions of patriotism and stolen elections, real patriots are standing in the streets in every city of Ukraine and saying to the madman Putin, “You shall not pass, you will not have my freedom.”

I pity us when I am not simply in a fury. We have forgotten basic human compassion and dignity. We are so mired in our in-fighting, we have forgotten the standards that once held us together, we have forgotten that working toward a better tomorrow for all of us extends beyond our borders. I weep for Ukraine, but I shed tears for the United States of America as well.

Political Purity Tests

Soapbox LogoWill there ever be a perfect candidate? Is it possible we will have some glowing Deity float down from the heavens on a fluffy white cloud surrounded by angels flinging gold coins and smelling of roses and whispering ‘FREE’. Someone we could all get behind, someone with no history, someone with no skeletons, someone with DNA to match this diverse nation who did not offend any of our sensibilities.

The Perfect Candidate, who we can fall all over ourselves in our rush to the polls. The Perfect Candidate who would pass all of our Purity tests. The Candidate with the most beautiful wife, two and half children, a dog and zero sins to their name.

The Perfect Candidate does not exist. There is not a human being alive today, nor will there ever be one who hasn’t collected some bumps and bruises and an imperfect track record. There will never be a candidate, especially one seeking the Presidency that will pass the unreasonable Purity Tests of the Democrats who align to their individual candidates to the detriment of all others. Let us consider the real issues and real outcomes for 2020. What do we really want?

  • Beat current occupant of White House, Donald J. Trump
  • Take back Senate2020_Election_1
  • Retain House

As an Independent Centrist who usually votes Democrat I am committed to voting a Blue ticket this year. Not just on a federal level but at the state and local level as well. I want to see the nation brought back together. I want to see us working together again as a single people, it has been too long that we have been divided. I want to see our government work. I want to see Justice began to work. I want to see our courts work. I want to see real work done for and by the people. Do I think this will happen overnight? No, of course not. What I believe is if we elect the right president and a Senate and House to back that President we can begin to make the nation whole by passing legislation and undoing a dysfunctional federal Courts filled with under qualified and unqualified judges.

I do not do Purity Tests. What I do is listen, I look at history but not just soundbites the full history. I look at everything, what a person has done and hasn’t done. What they have said and haven’t said. When they said it, what context they said it in. What have they written? Many candidates today have a written history, many have books and an on-line presence they cannot escape from either. Some of the candidates today have had decades of public presence, not just one or two, but three to five or even more. It is impossible not to build a portfolio of missteps and misjudgments during the course of a nakedkinglong life and those who wish to serve behind the Resolute Desk must be prepared to walk naked before the citizens of this land, we have no remorse and no shame in exposing our would be Presidents.

It wasn’t always this way, the Presidency of William Jefferson Clinton seems to have opened the door and now we have no shame in peering through the window of Presidents private lives, judging their personal predilections. We, as a nation seem to think it is our calling to judge whether a President is ‘Pure’ enough for us even while we ourselves would never meet this very same test. Just to bring this full circle, the party of family values and moral righteousness elected a President who is an anathema to all they stood for and yet claim he is God’s chosen.

So we stand at the abyss and stare down into the darkness and still instead of listening with open minds, we apply Purity Tests. We allow members of this broken party and non-members who have the audacity to run under the banner to tear down others in the name of their own desire to WIN. We watch idolaters and ideologues tear at others in base terms disallowing any view but their own from being heard, any question being asked, any challenge being made.

Does anyone remember 2016? I do.

Does anyone know how Donald J. Trump got elected? I do.

Don’t answer those questions with baseless bullshit about White Woman, Electoral College, Hillary won the popular vote or other nonsense. Let me give you the real answer.

Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States of America because Bernie Sanders was allowed to run on the Democratic Ticket and many of those who idolized him, followed him did one of three things:

  1. Stayed home
  2. Voted third party
  3. Voted for Trump

Why did they do this? Because they were convinced they were cheated, because Trump was the most like Bernie in his rhetoric and demeanor and because they were revengeful snots.

Purity Tests. Why they don’t work and how to overcome them.

First and foremost, participate. This means vote in the Primaries in your state and vote for the candidate that you believe best represents your interests and the interests in the nation. Vote for the candidate that you believe will put the nation back together. Vote for govote3the candidate that will best influence the down ticket. Vote for the candidate that will put our alliances back together. Vote for the candidate that will represent the largest majority of the people in America, not just a small minority but all of us, keeping in mind there is not a single candidate standing before you without something to explain, without history, without skeletons.

My question to each of the candidates isn’t ever going to be are you Pure, it is going to be how are you going to remedy the sickness in this nation. What will you do to fix what is broken. Do you acknowledge that you might have contributed, what did you learn and what are you doing today based on what you learned?

People learn, people are not the same today they were yesterday, five years ago or a decade ago. Unless a person is a complete and utter moron with the emotional and intellectual capacity of a snake, they grow. I want to know how a person has grown in knowledge, compassion and emotional empathy. I will not hold yesterday against you if today your actions show you have made true changes. If the words you say and the actions you take are in accord, I am going to take you at your word and listen with the openness you deserve from me as a citizen.

snakeTrumpPurity Tests are abhorrent and we need to stop, today. If we do not we can look forward to another four years of Donald J. Trump in the White House and this is something the nation will not survive.

No Celebrations

tears_of_sadnessToday is my anniversary. If I could find a less ‘romantic’ word for today I certainly would, but today I celebrate twenty-eight years since I lived beyond when I should have lived, beyond the day three miscreants tried to take my life with three bullets. Today I woke up and it was my twenty-eighth year of life beyond the day they attempted to take my life and certainly changed my world forever.

I wish I could say today was just like any other day. It is not.

I wish I could say I do not feel it, that I do not know what today is. The truth is, I do know and it affects my outlook and my ability to see the world entirely positively.

I wish I could say today was just like any other day, but it isn’t. Today is different. Today marks the day twenty-eight years ago my world changed. It marks the day my sons, my husband, my parents, my siblings, my nieces and nephews, my friends everyone who knew me or would know me in the future had to embrace a different me and had to face that I might have died. Those are difficult truths.

Those early years, they were hard on all of us. The recovery was hard. The daily struggle to get through the day was hard. Pain sometimes brought me to my knees, begging God to please kill me, don’t demand I live like this with no recourse, no relief. Then, finally learning I could live with pain, it just required adjustments, some days without crushing nrm_1413410111-storm2pain or finally that pain was simply my new norm and we can learn to live with anything. The refusal to resort to pain medications, to live in a haze saved my sanity even when everyone around me thought I was crazy; maybe it was just that I was so damned mean and I was driving them crazy.

Then came the results of those strokes I had on the operating table, the gift that keeps giving. Epilepsy in two forms and the early medications that put me right into the fog I had tried to avoid. Medications I might add that did not stop the seizures only turned me into a drooling zombie incapable of even minimal adult functions. I was finally blessed with a doctor who weaned me off those killers onto something that allowed me to live fog free but mostly seizure free too, I only had to give up alcohol. Fair trade, I guess.

Twenty-eight years, today. There are days I am still furious at the series of events. There are days I am furious at a society that enabled those events to happen. There are days I am enraged at those three young men who are now all walking the streets, free having never shown remorse for their actions. I wonder though, what do they think of their actions, what are their thoughts after all these years? Do they think of their victims and the grievous harm they did in the name of racial hate and wanting to ‘kill white people’? Has their hate changed or was it solidified during the years they were incarcerated?

During the past twenty years I have spent my time trying to do right, trying to work toward peace for my soul and my spirit. Trying to create forgiveness even where there was no remorse. Trying to work for a better justice system, one of reconciliation and growth rather than simply incarceration and warehousing. One thing I have consistently justicereformfound, we are all of us human; there but for the grace of God go I. None of us are without our own choices, our own failures, our own sins. The difference is some of us have been more fortunate in our outcomes. I use to say there could be no forgiveness without remorse, that I did not need to forgive my offenders that was between them and the God they worship. I still believe this. The difference is now, I had to let go of their punishment. I had to stop demanding my pound of flesh and leave that to fate, this was a hard lesson.

Twenty-eight years, they got time but I got life. Their acts shortened my life so all the medical professionals tell me. This may be true. Yet their acts hastened my learning. I have found peace and accepted my truths much earlier in life than many of my friends. Perhaps this is the gift inside of the terrible. I struggle with this day even all these years later, maybe I will struggle with this day for the rest of my life. Today though I will try to be grateful I have had twenty-eight extra years.

To read more:

Crime and Punishment

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