Death of a legacy

I enjoy talking politics and history.  Whether separate or combined, there are always some interesting stories to be learned.  Watching the brouhaha over the NFL protests has led to quite a few different discussions online, at home, and at work.  After watching an online conversation where I saw a few conservatives trying to school blacks on the issue of slavery, I had a moment of clarity that made me realize how much things have changed.

The Republican Party, or the Party of Lincoln, has always advertised itself as the Party of Civil Rights.  There’s no stopping any Republican or conservative when they decide to preen on their laurels of yesteryear.  Even Black Republicans love to talk about how the Democratic Party is the home of racism and racists while they’re the Civil Rights party.

While indeed that is the history of the GOP, the legacy that began by the founders has died.  I’m not saying that it is dying.  I am suggesting that it is dead, not coming back like Jason Voorhees dead.  How did I come to that realization you ask?  The reaction to Colin Kaepernick and the NFL.

See, the parties have become more ideologically pure over the past century.  Right after the Civil War, there were liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats.  In those days, it was the liberal wing of the Republican Party that pushed much of the progressive issues forward.  As time moved forward, progressives migrated towards the Democratic Party and conservatives towards the GOP.  Now, the parties have completely switched when it comes to civil rights.

Now that the parties are so ideologically different, there are very few Republicans left to take up the mantle of Civil Rights.  That’s why you have state GOP parties enacting voter laws that adversely impact minority and poor voters.  You have a GOP president who is barking orders to the NFL as though he’s a dictator as opposed to someone who would advance equality under the law.  You have a GOP Attorney General who is backing away from consent decrees with police departments who have shown themselves to be less than upstanding when it comes to the civil rights of minorities they have sworn to protect.  And finally, you have an entire conservative movement that is so out of touch with civil rights that they’re angry that NFL players are allegedly disrespecting the flag, the military, and the national anthem, when the players are actually protesting for the respecting of civil rights of Americans who lack the platform to protest on a national level.

Indeed, the “Party of Civil Rights” is actively and aggressively trying to fight a protest that is actually seeking equal civil rights for all citizens of this country.  If you don’t believe me, ask any conservative about why the NFL players are taking a knee or sitting during the anthem.  I will put money that 90-95% will come with some response about disrespecting the country, flag, anthem, or military.  Very few, if any at all, will mention anything about civil rights or police brutality.

On the other hand, ask any liberal or progressive about the protest, and you’re more likely to hear them mention police brutality or civil rights.  That’s not even to suggest that the left overwhelmingly supports the protests.  There are many on the left who disagree with the protests, but they will also acknowledge the right to protest as being American.  They also realize the protest is not done to demean the service of our military personnel or to disrespect any part of this nation.

When these two guys get what the protest is about and can participate, why can’t the rest of America catch on?  When the Party of Civil Rights cannot take the mantle of pushing for civil rights when the issue is being served up on a silver platter, then that party’s legacy is dead.  It died and those who rest on those laurels have yet to acknowledge it.  I guess it’s better to live in a glorious past than to address a bleak present and future.  As sad as it is, I am glad to see the liberals pick up the mantle and carry on with the challenge of pushing for equality.

 

Advertisements

The president America rightly deserves

I had to take a vacation from writing this summer.  Work was a bit more hectic.  Life in general picked up a bit of speed.  But mostly, I grew sick and tired of President Trump’s ability to suck the oxygen out of the atmosphere and manage to be THE attention whores of all attention whores.  So, instead of posting daily “tributes” to Trump, I unplugged and refocused on my personal well being.  Silly me for thinking that would solve everything.

Love him, hate him, or indifferent towards him, Donald J. Trump IS the president that America rightly deserves now.  In the seven months that he has been in office, he has simultaneously energized and angered the masses.  He has worked hard to change the definition of what’s presidential in terms of actions and behavior.  His administration and governing position is the living, breathing definition of chaos.  And, in my honest opinion, he is the embodiment of the worldwide perception of America, Americans, and Americanism.  He is famous, attention getting, controversial, wealthy*, and arrogant all wrapped up in one package.  *true amount of his wealth is not known

One of numerous political cartoons about Trump. Click to open a Google Image Search to see others.

Trump is what America deserves because we rightfully need to have an open and honest dialogue about who we are and what we stand for.  In the 1940s, our parents, grandparents, and even great-grandparents went to war against Nazis and the belief of white supremacy abroad while we openly engaged in the same practice at home.  We’ve always considered ourselves to be a society where anyone can achieve that “American dream”, but we’ve continually fed into a political and business class that continually make that dream more impossible to achieve by each passing generation.  We love to tout our society based on freedom that every other country should emulate while constantly fighting to curtail the freedoms of those we don’t agree with.

Based on what we claim to be about vs what we actually practice, America is a fraud.  What better way to perpetrate a fraud than to elect one to run the fraud?

Now, before I get accused of being anti-American, I am not.  I am 100% red-blooded American as it gets.  I work to defend the country of my birth, and I take my oath to defend the Constitution very seriously.  I simply call things as I see it.  America preaches one thing and practices something altogether different.  Sometimes, it is for the better, and sometimes it is not.  It also varies from person to person based on their beliefs and perspectives.  That’s just how life operates.

The reason for me writing this is because of the Charlottesville fiasco.  I’m of the belief that he blew a serious chance to get America into a discussion to heal animosity and racial strife.  I also believe that he did not intend to lead America down that pathway as he showed himself and his beliefs on race in the words he chose.  His history has shown his racial attitudes, and I doubt very seriously that you will get a 71-year-old man to suddenly change now.

That said, this does not prevent the rest of America from engaging in that dialogue on our own.  We don’t need the president, a rabbi, pastor, or even a parent to give us the permission to start that conversation.  We can do it on our own.

At some point, we have to be honest that America was founded on the belief of White Supremacy.  It was written into the Constitution as a compromise to get slave dependent states to ratify it.  White Supremacy drove America’s westward expansion as well as our world expansion of influence as well.  Some people may not agree with that, and that’s their right to do so.  It does not change the history that has already passed.  None of us can change that.  We can only change the future.

Destroying statues and memorials does not erase history.  History is only lost when it is not taught and passed down in its entirety.  We have to learn to love our warts as much as we love our exceptionalism.  We are not a perfect country, and all of our actions in the past were not honorable.  That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t learn from the past in order to better shape the future.

I’ll go on record as being one that believes the statues and memorials in question still have a relevant place in our society.  They simply do not belong on public grounds or areas where our current government operates.  We do not erect any remembrances to the British, French, Spanish, Mexicans, or Native Americans who previously ruled lands that now belong to America.  We should be the same across the board for all nations.

Private property and museums should be free to display any and all remembrances of their choosing, without controversy, so that we can study and learn from history.  There will always be someone who will feel hurt by such displays.  That is unavoidable.  What we should be doing is ensuring that we understand and empathize with that hurt so that history does not repeat itself.

If we cannot talk openly and honestly with each other about this, then we will never learn the lessons of the past and will continue to repeat them time and time again.

 

America needs an enema

That was one of many great lines delivered by Jack Nicholson in Batman.  At one point, I would have suggested that Washington DC was that town.  Now, I think this entire country is constipated.  Just look at the way people interact with each other.  Check the differences in how media is disseminated or viewed.  We are in a state of utter chaos, and much of it is of our own doing.

For starters, VOX ran a very interesting article on the difference in news coverage on the Trump/Russia issue between the right-wing media outlets and everyone else.

The past week of Trump scandals for people reading mainstream news outlets has gone something like this: President Trump fired the FBI director who was investigating his campaign’s connection with Russia — and then the next day, Trump shared classified information with Russian officials.

But on conservative news outlets, the narrative was very different. It was about an FBI director whose firing was long overdue, and a liberal media desperate to take down Trump.

You can find the entire article here, and it is well worth the read.  The gist of the article shows that we are living in two different realities.  People who only get their news from one source or from within their own safe zone are talking entirely different incidents with people in other news circles.  When you hear Trump supporters dismissing the news reports, it’s not a defensive measure in as much as they believe something totally different because of what their media is telling them.

Then, there’s the sheer flood of “leaked” information.  As a federal employee, I find it difficult to believe that my colleagues have suddenly found it impossible to do their jobs without potentially violating the law by discussing classified information or other things.  When administrations change, the appointed positions change.  The rank-and-file workers don’t.  I was hired in under GW Bush, and if I remain until retirement, there’s no idea of how many other presidents I’ll serve.  That said, the person sitting in the WH doesn’t change my work ethic one bit.  I still try to do my job to the best of my ability now as I did when I was first hired.

The amount of the leaks makes part of me think it’s intentionally done to sow discord.  Let’s face it, there is enough discord in America right now to circle the world about a dozen times.  People are literally at each other’s throats.  A right-wing white supremacist killed two people on a commuter train in Portland after hurling slurs at two passengers who were thought to be Muslim.  There’s all kinds of crap going on everywhere, and it seems like it will only get worse.  The pejoratives fly out of people’s mouths like breath on a cold winter morning.  We’ve found out that even the FBI had false information that was meant to disrupt the system.

This country needs to take a massive dump.  We need to purge all the bulls**t out of our system.  Some of us need to be reminded that, regardless of ideological beliefs, we are not enemies.  I cringe whenever I hear Americans referring to fellow Americans as enemies.  I don’t even refer to football rivals as enemies.  That word carries powerful and dangerous connotations.  Someone needs to find an equivalent to a giant bottle of Fleet, shove it up the figurative ass of America, and squeeze that mofo until it turns to powder.

We’re full of sh*t, both figuratively and literally.  We cannot continue as a country like this without doing damage to our society as well as relationships to our allies.  If we don’t unclog the system, something is bound to happen.  We’ve gone from being an example of democracy to looking like a disturbed red ant hill.

I don’t like it.  I don’t like it one bit.  I honestly hope that the investigators take thing seriously and act appropriately on their findings.  If nothing has occurred, then everyone should be able to see the information from the investigation to see where that conclusion was drawn.  Likewise, if there was any bad behavior between Americans and outsiders to influence the election, there should be no sparing of the powers of the judiciary to give America the justice we deserve.  That’s the only way we will begin to remove this sh*t from our system in order to recover to what we were before.

Dueling truths

I just happened to take two screen shots of the home page of the Daily Mail.  On their home page is two articles that are so diametrically opposite that one has to be an outright lie.  I’ll let you decide.

 

A few stories below, you find this article.

So, which is it?  Did we reduce the airbase to rubble?  If we did, how could Syria launch attacks from the same airfield in less than 24 hours?

I’ve not wanted to accuse the president of wagging the dog, but even that would be better than making our military look like an abject failure that’s incapable of carrying out a basic attack.

Every time I think we’ve hit rock bottom, we manage to roll over the edge and fall even further.   This is a damn disgrace and a complete disservice to the men and women who make up our military.  They deserve a straight answer about what the hell is really going on, and so does the rest of America.

The Baffled States of America

I try to be respectful towards the Office of the President.  The next four years will be an endurance test, one unlike any that I’ve ever embarked upon in my time alive.  Let me set the record straight first and foremost.  I have no personal animosity towards President Trump.  None at all.  That said, let’s get started.

First, he’s not a politician.  That’s why many voted for him.  That was the “appeal” that many Americans saw.  He wasn’t an insider in Washington, and he said all the right things in front of the right crowds*.  People seriously thought that he was listening to what they wanted and needed from the head of the Executive Branch of our government and have not been getting for decades.  He’s the one who will fix everything as he claimed that he would do, right?

Well, I can say that I have not been dazzled by his brilliance thus far, even though it’s only been a month.  Actually, not even a full month yet.  It hasn’t been a full four weeks at this point, and we already seem to be witnessing a 2mph train wreck happening during the evening rush hour.

We got warned about this long ago, but we didn’t heed the advice.  Dr. Seuss showed us how to avoid being taken for everything by a con man, a bullshit artist.  Trump is that, and then some.  Look at his history if you don’t want to take my word for it.  He has a record of stiffing businesses out of money on already agreed to contracts.  He’s avoided paying taxes for decades by assuming liability for an absurd amount of debt.  He reminds me of the guy on the street corner taking people for their money playing three card monte.  The problem is that he doesn’t know when to turn the bs off and has no idea of how to not bs people.  If there’s any one job in this country that should not be filled by a bs artist, it’s the job of being president.

We’ve been witness to this through the outright lies and doublespeak coming from people within the administration.  The apparently thin-skinned POTUS has attacked people personally or through spokespeople from everything from the size of the inauguration crowd to the portrayal of him on Saturday Night Live.  This has also been evident from the attacks on the media, the intelligence community, and pretty much everyone around the world except for Russia and Putin.  As things are beginning to show, we’re getting a good education on why he hasn’t attacked Russia or Putin.  The problem with the “breaking news” stuff about Gen. Flynn is that the only thing that’s new about the reporting is that we now have actual names of people with government positions who were communicating with Russia.

There were early reports about Paul Manafort and a server in Trump Towers that was communicating with a server in Russia.  There have also been rumors and such of other people involved with his campaign that had ties to Russia.  The Secretary of State is well-known to have strong business ties to Russia and Putin.  Individually, the rumors and innuendo don’t amount to anything that points to outright malfeasance.  At the same time, you can create an avalanche when you get enough things piled on top of each other.

At this point, there is permanent damage that has been done to the credibility of people in Washington.  It’s not like there was a vast amount of credibility to begin with, but I don’t recall any administration in my lifetime having a beginning like this.  It hasn’t been a full four weeks yet, and there’s enough stuff floating around to do about 8 years worth of Congressional investigations.  I don’t expect to see Republicans do anything at this point, as they’re likely going to try to wait things out.  It appears that Trump tried to wait things out on Flynn, and look at what it got him.

It’s not wise to try to pick a fight with the intelligence community that has taken an oath to protect the Constitution of the United States.  Especially when the intelligence community is full of people who take their oath seriously.  In case people forget, foreign enemies are not the only ones listed in that oath:

I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.

5 U.S.C. §3331

Those who focus more on the leaks than the information leaked should stop long enough to consider that oath.  If the federal employee thinks the actions rise high enough to be considered as an enemy act, they have a responsibility to take actions to defend the Constitution.  I’m not saying that leaking information is always a good thing to do, but we do have some whistleblower protections for a reason.  It’s dumb to think that you could communicate with foreign adversaries and our intelligence community wouldn’t pick up on those communications.  I also saw that some of our allies also picked up communications on their own, and they have their own concerns about American leadership as a result.

If Hillary Clinton’s email investigation was so important that we had to have a press conference by the FBI about it, why wasn’t the American public told about the communications between Trump’s campaign and Russia?  Remember, Democrats left a classified briefing on Russian hacking and were furious with Director Comey.  Middle, rural America elected trump because he said that he would bring jobs back to their communities.  If they’re farmers, they will have enough manure over the next four years to keep fertilizing crops for generations.  If they’re not farmers, there’s always a need for someone to shovel the bs.  If the first four weeks are any indication, we’re in for record amounts of bs in short order.

Welcome to the Baffled States of America.  This is what some of  you voted for, and this is what we’re all going to get as a result.

*I think it’s entirely possible to say the right things to the right people.  That still doesn’t mean that you’re correct in what you’re saying, or that the people who believe you are also right.