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

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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.

If We Were Having Coffee-Dang

imagesIf we were having coffee I might spike my own but politely ask if you would like me to spike yours. I am good like that. It has been one hell of a summer, I mean that on many levels. I think I will start with a song, do you mind? My friend and frequent inspiration Kim at My Inner Chick left this for me the other day, I added it to my Writing Playlist and now I am playing it as we sip our spiked coffee and chat.

First, how have you been during my absence? Talk to me! I am certain there is much to catch up with in your life, I have been terribly remiss failing to read your words, talk to you and keep up. I have watched all of you, truly I have just failed to acknowledge your outpouring of thoughts on life and the world. For this I can only offer, I will try to do better and ask you to talk to me, before I ramble off into my own little world of chaos.

Before we get started, can I top you off? Well then, let me pour some more into both of our cups. I am tempted to switch to a nice tall Bloody Mary, I think we might both need one.

Last Monday was my fifty-ninth birthday. Yes, I am embarking on my sixtieth year on this earth. Most days I don’t feel that old. Truthfully, I can remember when I believed sixty was ancient, one foot in the grave and ready for the retirement home. Sixty years on earth? Good grief, my mother use to tell me if I kept it up I wouldn’t see past thirty. Do you think I lived this long to spite her?

If we were having coffee I would tell you what frightens me is the two candidates for President are not much older than me and I wonder if they should be running for President, I wonder if they aren’t too old for the office. Should we be demanding new standards for this critical office and all our other government officials, standards that include term limits, mandatory retirement ages and top ages at which a candidate can run for office. Am I being ageist? Yes, perhaps I am; nevertheless, when the Constitution was written Life Expectancy was significantly lower, as in thirty-six, living to the age of seventy and beyond was almost inconceivable, though a few did. I would like to call attention to the ages of those we call our Founding Fathers (and Mothers) who conceived of and fought for our liberty.

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Well, I will tell you no matter who wins in November I am not leaving the country. I love America, I may hate the politics and the politicians. I may hate the state of the nation, our horrifying injustice and our failure to thrive across so many measurements. But truly, I love the dream that is America and believe in my heart we have the ability to do better. Our utter failure to even present acceptable candidates from which to choose is only one measurement of our failure, there are so many others; Donald and Hilary are simply the face of the lethargy and fear we feel right now.

If we were having coffee I would tell you I am finally working to complete the move into my new home. It has been challenging. Maybe I needed it to be challenging so I didn’t settle on ‘good enough’ but instead worked on the details, looked at the small things that would please me over time and spent my budget wisely, ensuring each expenditure was specific and exactly what I wanted. Every time I unlock the front door, I struggle with what is still needed before I will be happy, yet I sigh with relief knowing it is mine and an empty palate waiting my touch.

To say very little has gone right would be a vast understatement. This entire process has introduced me to a new level of patience, a new level of please just stop dancing on my last nerve, a brand new level of I will not kill a human being today. Yes, this move has taught me a great deal about myself, my desire for privacy, perfection, my own way and ultimately my willingness to bend where needed to achieve my goals.

When I started this hunt for new digs, I wanted a woman cave that encompassed an entire home with every room an extension of who I am. This was the first home I have purchased where there were no children, no husband nobody but me to consider in decorating, I wanted what I wanted; it was an act of pure selfishness an act of self-love. I perused real estate websites endlessly, I watched home improvement and remodeling shows for hours. With each marathon, I had a list of ‘love notes’ of things I wanted, things I loved. Additionally, I knew where I wanted to live; what city in the Metroplex even what zip code.

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If we were having coffee I would tell you all those plans went to hell the minute I walked into the house I bought. It was a 1976 rambler that someone had partly flipped, badly. The Professional Inspector, well let’s say he should have his license examined he missed so many obvious things that are now costing me before I can even start on the fun stuff. Even as I work through problems, contractors are running away, or seeing a woman and giving me bad pricing. Things are going slow or at least not as planned. I thought I would have all my projects done before I moved in; that didn’t happen. Now, I am moving in two stages. This one is hard, but it will get done hell or high water. I had great help yesterday to empty a 10X20 storage unit out, now everything is stacked floor to ceiling in the back of the house as we couldn’t put anything on my newly finished stained concrete floors. I am still in my apartment till next week, I will have to figure out how to move my apartment at that time. Packing throughout the week then moving over the weekend, of course how to get that done without movers will be a different challenge. Budgets are now starting to get challenged!

This week I will be meeting with a new set of contractors, maybe I will finally find some who will paint and stuff. Wish me luck.

I you ready to put your feet up? I surely will be by the end of this coming Sunday. Wish me luck.

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If we were having coffee

 

 

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.

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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.

 

Chelsea Manning Faces Indefinite Solitary Confinement for Possessing Toothpaste and Magazines

In all cases, whether we agree or disagree with the act, we have to consider justice.

The Progressive Cynic

© Josh Sager – August 2015

Apparently, the US government is not done making an example of whistleblower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning. Today, Manning’s lawyers revealed that their client is facing numerous “disciplinary” infractions and a hearing on Tuesday will decide whether she is sent to solitary confinement, possibly for the duration of her sentence.

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Remembering Manning’s “Crime”

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in August of 2013 after being convicted of 20 different charges related to her leaking of classified information. Her leaks blew the whistle on a variety of bad acts committed by the military during the Iraq and Afghanistan war, including an incident where American soldiers opened fire on unarmed journalists from a helicopter. Additionally, she exposed that the estimated “civilian casualty” numbers being publicized by the US government was intentionally falsified to conceal just how many non-combatants our military had killed.

Obviously, these leaks…

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No Success Without the GRIND

Finding new inspiration, always a great way of starting any day. Struggling with writers block, blogger block .. hell everything block then reading this brings things into focus. Worth the read.

Kristen Lamb's Blog

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike. Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anamorphic Mike.

What do you want? How badly do you want it? What are you willing to sacrifice? These are the questions we must ask not once, but daily. There is no success without the GRIND.

Or perhaps, the G.R.I.N.D.

Give

Every day we have something to give that will keep propelling us forward. I love, love, love the movie Rocky. This is among my favorite quotes:

The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and…

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On the Floor: Reprise and Challenge

Frank’s fabulous challenge. Read the original, read all the alternative endings, comment or write your own. Such fun.

A Frank Angle

The story below is the revised version of my first attempt at fiction. I issued a challenge to develop a new ending: a) after “The music ends” and b) in 75 words or less.

New endings will either be posted as comments on this post or as the whole story with the new ending the reader’s blog with links to this post. See the Challenge page for more information as long as it remains published.

I  encourage others to read all the endings. Do you have a favorite ending? Thanks for participating.

aFaShortStoryChallengeThe music starts – its tempo and rhythms define the dance. He approaches her table, and extends an inviting hand. She accepts. They take to the floor. He offers a hand and a frame. Again, she accepts, but looks away while in hold as if to say, “I’ll dance – but I’m not interested.”

They move to…

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Opinion: Washington Needs To Tell The Truth About Police Violence

It truly is time, until we begin to demand an accounting nothing will change. Perhaps it is easy to ignore the one-off, certainly seems this is the case. But when we start to see more people killed in the first half of the year in the US by police than in a decade in other nations, shouldn’t we start to demand change?

The Militant Negro™

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Jueseppi B

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From The Washington Post By DeRay McKesson

Opinion: Washington needs to tell the truth about police violence

There have only been 9 days this year when the police have not killed somebody.

Some news outlets put the number as high as 500 dead in the past six months, according to both The Guardian and Killed by the Police.Net.The Washington Post’s own investigation showed nearly 400 dead as of the end of May.

We know these numbers because activists have searched tirelessly to find instances where the media has reported that someone was killed by police. Yes, newspaper articles are currently the most consistent source of information on nationwide police killings because police departments are not required to collect or report this information.

We live in the age of big data and analytics, yet we have no systematic way of collecting even the most elemental data…

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The Names

This is stunning in its horror. Something has to change.

The Militant Negro™

Mr MilitantNegro™ Jueseppi B Mr MilitantNegro™
Jueseppi B

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This post/list will be updated daily.

Michael Brown
David Parker
Michelle Cusseaux

Kajieme Powell
John Crawford
Ezell Ford
Eric Garner
Clinton Allen
Roshad McIntosh
Oscar Grant
Sean Bell
Miriam Carey
Tamir Rice, 12

Akai Gurley
Vonderrit Myers
Walter Scott
Eric Harris
Freddie Gray
Brandon Lawrence
Daniel Howard Davis
Renisha McBride
Rekia Boyd
Felix David
Gary Timmie Collins
Mark Cecil Hawkins
Karen Jenks
Hector Morejon
Samuel Harrell
Joseph Potts
Ervin Leon Edwards
William L. Chapman II
Dontrell Stephens
Natasha McKenna
Terry Lee Chatman
Jonathan Efraim
Christopher Lee Lucas
Jose E. Herrera
Carlos Saavedra Ramirez
Lue Vang
Kimber Key
Reginald McGregor
Luis Molina Martinez
Daniel I. Covarrubias
Daniel Wolfe
Stephen Gene Davenport
Santos “Cuate” Cortez Hernandez
Dana Duwane Hlavinka
Richard Brian Reed
Norman Cooper
Michael Foster
Erik Tellez
Grover Zeno Sapp Jr
Thaddeus McCarroll
Jeffery Kemp
Elias Cavazos
Darrell Lawrence Brown
Abner Louima
Leonard Pitts
Amadou Diallo
David…

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Comparing Punishments for Fraud: Atlanta Teachers vs. 2008 Banksters

Perfect example of what we value, not saying what the teachers did wasn’t wrong it was. However, it did not deserve this outcome.

The Progressive Cynic

© Josh Sager – April 2015

Last week, eight Atlanta teachers and school administrators who were involved in test-fixing scandal were sentenced to significant prison time. This conclusion to the Atlanta test-fixing scandal is an unfortunate illustration of the inequities that have characterized our modern criminal justice system.

The state argued that these educators constituted an organized criminal organization that sought to artificially increase student test scores in order to gain personal bonuses. Put simply, teachers and administrators looked over high-stakes standardized testing sheets submitted by their students, erased some incorrect answers, and re-submitted them to be graded. These erasures boosted the average test score dramatically in some schools, creating the false perception that students were improving. As student scores were tied to incentive pay for educators, this resulted in thousands of dollars in bonuses for teachers.

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Georgia prosecutors invoked the RICO anti-racketeering law—which is usually reserved for organized crime…

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By The Numbers: What Does Gun Violence Really Cost?

Just to add to our ‘proud’ heritage of guns, violence and turning a blind eye to both.

The Militant Negro™

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THE DATA BELOW is the result of a joint investigation by Mother Jones and Ted Miller, an economist at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. Based on Miller’s work identifying and quantifying the societal impacts of gun violence, the annual price tag comes to at least $229 billion a year (based on 2012 data). That includes $8.6 billion in direct spending—from emergency care and other medical expenses to court and prison costs—as well as $221 billion in less tangible “indirect” costs, which include impacts on productivity and quality of life for victims and their communities. (See the rest of our special investigation here.)

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More From Mother Jones:

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It was a mild, crystal clear desert evening on November 15, 2004, when Jennifer Longdon and her fiance, David Rueckert, closed up his martial-arts studio and headed out to grab some carnitas…

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