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.

Paging Mr. Pot to the meeting room

Oh my goodness.  I don’t intend to spend the next four years talking about Trump, but I honestly wish someone within his circle of influence will remove any and every piece of technology that has access to Twitter from his reach.  I don’t follow Twitter, but it’s hard to not know what’s going on when the President-elect has diarrhea of the fingers on a regular basis.

Today, he decided to lash out at the intelligence community and the media about the allegations made against him in regards to Russia having potential blackmail information on him.

I’m guessing that either he has Alzheimer’s or he has completely forgotten about his own adventures in phony allegations.  As I seem to recall, he’s Tweeted and spewed false and phony allegations in the past himself.

“I have people that have been studying it and they cannot believe what they’re finding,”-Donald J. Trump to Meredith Viera on NBC April 7, 2011

On top of that, there’s his penchant for firing off tweets, many of which involved President Obama’s birth certificate.  Salon has compiled a list of all his birther tweets.  Looking at the list, something tells me that it is not 100% inclusive, but I’ll have to go with them as that’s the most comprehensive list I’ve seen.

Given how Trump himself has fanned the flames of ludicrous, incendiary, and patently false information, I have no sympathy for him if or when people return serve to him.  He had loads of fun poking at President Obama, but now he’s in the hot seat himself.  It’s his turn to be the center of attention, both good and bad.  I personally believe in the adage that you get what you give.  He’s flung fecal matter at others for years, so it’s only right that he gets it flung back at him.

Enjoy yourself Trump.  You deserve all the ridicule that you get.  One word of advice for you, though.  Learn to respect people and treat them with respect.  Otherwise, it’s only going to go downhill from here.  You haven’t even taken the oath of office yet, and you already appear to be on your way to stroking out of office.  Money can buy many things, but it doesn’t buy class or respect.  Even being president only gets you so much in respect.  Think about how you and others treated President Obama while he was in office.  It’s your turn.  I hope you’re ready.

Searching for that silver lining

As the incoming Trump administration is still coming together, I’m trying to search for signs of how things will go.  I’ve heard both sides argue how Trump is going to do what he said he was going to do, and I’ve also heard the doom and gloom predictions of what’s coming down the pipeline.  Personally, I like to see who the president picks to make up their cabinet and advisors before I try to predict what’s going to happen.  I did that with both Bush and Obama, so I will extend the same courtesy to Trump as well.

Given his picks so far, the one thing I can come away with is that we’re going to be in for a long, long 4 years.  Trump rode populist anger against “elites” yet his picks are all pretty much elites and/or billionaire donors of some kind.  I don’t see any earthshaking “drain the swamp” picks as much as I see standard right-wing ideological picks that any Republican ideologue would choose.  From the pick of Steve Bannon as a White House advisor to Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education, this country is going to swing so hard to the right that NASCAR may have to switch to running races in the opposite direction to avoid having to make left turns.

There’s also the issue of ethics that the administration will have to come to terms with.  Many of his picks have deep and varied investments that would likely face scrutiny during confirmation hearings.  As for Trump himself, he’s already stated “As far as the, you know, potential conflict of interests, though, I mean I know that from the standpoint, the law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”  Trump’s businesses make their fortune from the marketability of his name.  Add the title “President” before that name, and the marketing potential shoots through the roof.  What person or company in any country would refuse to engage with any Trump related business now?  I don’t think anyone, the Founders included, ever contemplated such a complex issue to ever reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

To further complicate things, America will also have to deal with whether outside influence tilted the balance of this election.  I read a story today from Philly.com about Russian influence in American politics this year.  It’s quite interesting, and I included a link if you want to check it out.  A Google search for Russian troll factory returns numerous articles about how Russia used social media to spread propaganda, including fake news stories.  America probably got taken for a ride this year in more ways than one, and only time will tell whether that’s true or not.

Maybe that’s the silver lining in this election.  We’re going to hit rock bottom so hard on ethics that people will realize that the government is not a business and being an expert in business does not make one an expert in running a government.  Maybe Trump will indeed make America great again by ensuring people become civic engaged and we find some ethical people who actually care about running the country.  I’ve already been working on my playlist for the next four years.  I’m starting off with Zoom by The Commodores because a brother can still have a dream nowadays:

I’m searching for that silver lining
Horizons that I’ve never seen
Oh I’d like to take just a moment and dream my dream
Dream my dream

Rational fear, irrational reaction

Map showing all terrorist attacks in 2014. Click image to see full details including links to report.

Russia, Beirut, Paris, and Nigeria have all been targeted by terrorists recently with deadly results.  It’s perfectly rational, and I’ll say reasonable, for people to respond to such heinous acts with fear and trepidation.  Acts like blowing up airplanes, shooting up concert halls and restaurants, or blowing up markets where people shop to carry on in their daily lives tend to open our eyes to the notion that a terrorist act can take place anywhere at anytime.  People respond to fear in different ways, but we all react to it whether we acknowledge it or not.

Fear of the unknown is something we all have to deal with at one time or another.  Everyone has something that their afraid of or have been in a situation where fear has entered their mind.  That’s human nature.  Most people are also aware of the human “fight or flight” response to stimuli that causes fear.  There’s nothing wrong with having a fear of something or being afraid in situations where you are.  How you deal with that fear is where people differ, and that is to be expected because we are not all robotic clones of each other.

For those who think the best course of action in light of recent events is to stop Syrian refugees from entering into their countries, I offer one question.  What will that stop?  When you have an organization reaching across borders using technology to reach people in countries they’ve never come close to setting foot in, what good does stopping people fleeing from getting killed do?

I understand the idea and even acknowledge there’s the ability for terrorists to blend in with refugees escaping death and traveling to other countries to do harm.  Our politicians are all jumping on that bandwagon that stopping Syrian refugees from coming to America is going to keep us safe.  State governors are saying they won’t accept any refugees from Syria in order to keep their people safe.  Some politicians have what I would call dumbass reasoning, but that’s their prerogative to do so.  They represent the people who elected them.  I offer a short list of names to these politicians:

  1. Christopher Lee Cornell
  2. Daniel Patrick Boyd
  3. Adam Gadahn
  4. Abdul Rahman Yasin
  5. Anwar Al-Awlaki
  6. Omar Hammami
  7. John Walker Lindh
  8. David Headley
  9. Colleen LaRose aka “Jihad Jane”

If any of the names sound familiar, that’s because they’re all terrorists or have been arrested for terrorist-related plots.  They were not Syrian refugees.  They were not even immigrants.  They were all Born-In-The-USA Americans, every last one of them.  Stopping immigration would not have stopped them.  Shutting the borders would have done nothing.

I’m not posting this to suggest that nothing can or should be done.  My point is that irrational reaction does nothing to make any of us safer than we were the day before yesterday.  I’d even go as far to suggest that caving to anti-immigrant and/or anti-Muslim rhetoric does more to aid terrorists in indoctrinating new terrorists than anything we can do to stop them.  Our irrational reactions do more to aid and comfort the true enemy than what we realize.

Bombs and bullets cannot kill ideas.  I am a firm believer in that.  One idea can only be defeated by another idea.  For example, we defeated Hitler’s Germany in WWII, yet Stormfront still exists.  There are still anti-Semitic, White Supremacist organizations around pushing the same ideas that Hitler did with his Aryan Nation idea.  Assassinations and bombings did not stop the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s either.  I can remember hearing about Middle Eastern terrorist organizations when I was in grade school, so it’s not like the current groups originated this whole thing.

We need to stop those who wish to do harm to innocent people, not just us.  It doesn’t matter what nation, religion, or ethnic group those innocent people are a part of.  We have to think about our actions in how we go about fighting these groups because the things we do can end up leading to us having to fight a larger group in the future.  Bullets and bombs are short-term remedies for short-term problems.  In the long run, you can’t bomb an idea out of existence, so we will have to beat the idea with an even better idea if we want to win this battle.  The anti-everything rhetoric isn’t going to be a winning idea when the opposition uses that to further entrench their idea that we’re at war with each other.  Hopefully mankind will soon realize this and change pathways.

Map of cities at risk of terrorist attack in 2015 as compiled in a report by Verisk Maplecroft which was released on May 25, 2015. Click on image for more info.