Trump’s Political Success – what it really says

No matter the current polls and rhetoric about the Republican race and ongoing surprise about the early and ongoing dominance of Trump, there should really be no surprise.  It isn’t really about Trump the man – who in reality is pretty much a know nothing, self centered, bullying narcissist.  Sadly, it is really about the people who make up a good deal of our country. A sad commentary indeed.

The vehemence shown by his supporters is driven to a great extent by those who represent the worst of who we, as a country, pretend to have moved past as a people and society.  In many ways we are less prejudiced, more tolerant, more accepting but it is really more generational than anything else.  However, we still maintain a large contingent of racists, bigots, haters and uneducated slow thinkers who feel that anyone on whom they can trounce only makes their squalid existence look more palatable.

Trump has zeroed in on the same people who drove the Tea Party phenomenon several years back (take a look at some of my earlier posts to get a better look at that crew).  It is a group of people who want everything  for themselves (because they are the only ones who really work hard and deserve it) and nothing for anyone else who disagrees with their views.  He feeds on those who, not surprisingly, are led around by many of the those religious giants such as Jerry Falwell, Jim Bakker, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen and Pat Robertson – all (including Trump) willing to live a life of luxury on the backs of the ignorant and stupid.   They all prey on the unquestioning among us.  They all throw around sound-bytes, little snippets of “wisdom” that hook into people’s doubts and insecurities.  The one group continually cites the Bible but does little that really demonstrates they live it.  They make these unimportant people feel important and that their wants and desires will be answered despite the evidence to the contrary that those like Trump are really taking it to the bank.  I strongly doubt that Trump (or any of those beacons of religion I cite) have ever stepped foot in a Walmart or a McDonalds.  Not likely any of them ever had to put Christmas purchases on layaway because they were living paycheck to paycheck.  But this is only evident to those who aren’t among this group – not that we are necessarily better (although we really are) but we are definitely smarter.  We see the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes.

Einstein

The good news – many of these people are the elders among us so they have a limited shelf life.   In reality it has already begun to impact the religious institutions in our country.  Look at the numbers of those who consider themselves aligned with a religion and the future is pretty obvious.  For those who will be around for awhile longer, since they aren’t really the movers and the shakers, their influence, like sound-bytes, have no real depth or longevity.  They will continue to make news as the next Trump shows up because we are always looking for the next flavor of the day but at the end of it all, they add no value and only detract and diminish what we want to be as a country.  Time cures all ills.

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I Lost a Good Friend Today…

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We had our ray of sunshine and spark leave our family today.  Gunther, who has been a full-fledged member of our family for the last 13 years finally reached that point where we had to say goodbye.  No good way to do, no easy way to deal with it.  It sucks, it hurts, we’re all lost – you can’t spin it to make it feel better.  We feel good he is no longer in pain or discomfort and we know we did the right thing…but it still sucks.  I can’t say enough about what he added to our lives other than he was a key part of it from that day my son and I drove 3-4 hours to get him to the very long morning we had today knowing it where the day was going to end up.  I’ve become a weeping idiot, not knowing when in the middle of a sentence I’m going to get hit with it and the waterworks start. I don’t think that is going away any time soon – good thing I work from home.

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Gunther was special to us – I can’t recall anyone who met him that didn’t love him immediately – and he was equally ecstatic to make your acquaintance.  He protected our house from everything you could imagine – from other dogs to deer to snakes and even those evil bunnies (which made us all cringe a bit) but he was doing his job.  He was fearless – 100lbs of dog in an 18lb body (at least for most of his life).  He was a role model of “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog” – but he was gentle with people and he was truly a people dog.  In some ways he was the core of our family – he watched my kids go thru school and college, as they left (and returned) as adults.  He was there with my wife for all those years I worked on the road and he was the first one to always greet me when I got home.  He loved the kennel when we went on vacation – we called it his “trip to the spa” – he would walk into through the door and immediately forget who we were and run to get in the door to the back.  Inevitably, when we picked him up he was hoarse for a couple of days as he was quite the barker with all the other dogs vacationing with him.

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I’m going to miss him quite a bit. While he slowed down quite a bit as a result of several bouts of pancreatitis and age, his spirit never dimmed.  It was in his eyes and in his stance.  I no longer will be greeted with that short Jack Russell tail going 100mph.  We won’t see him frantically and unsuccessfully going from one deck planter to the other trying to get those pesky chipmunks. He’ll never take on another snake, grab it with a quickness that you had to see to believe and then complete a shake or two or three of his head snap it in two and then walk away after again protecting his family.  I’ve lost my driving buddy – I’ll have to go get my afternoon Dunkin Donuts by myself.  I have a feeling my reaction when the Dunkin Donuts people ask where my friend is not going to be a good one.

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But I’m better for Gunther being in my life.  I know this pain and hurt will fade and the memories and stories of the last 13 years of Gunther will slowly begin to help ease the hurt.  He was my friend.

Structurally Sound | It’s the randomness that keeps me going.

http://structurallysound.wordpress.com/

I don’t normally re-blog the writings of others but as always there are times where exceptions are called for. As parents of two great kids our feelings of pride are easily elicited. Then there are the times where one of them does something that drives it up even more. My daughter has the gift of words I will never approach but it becomes even more special when she writes of her childhood made more special thru her now adult eyes – and I get even prouder. This is her blog I’m attempting to re-blog made even harder as I attempt it over my cell phone. Thanks for sharing, Erin.

Best of the Best and Worst of the Worst

There are very few people I really see as really good people.  I was lucky enough to find one of them who actually agreed to marry me 31 years ago – definitely a crap shoot on her part but no doubt great for me.  I don’t think I’m one of those good people – I’m not a bad person but I come no where close to membership in that group of those who are truly good from the heart.  So when I see one of them (and I think in these times it is relatively rare), I notice and appreciate.  There is one person of whom I consistently see as an appropriate role model as one of those rare people.  I’m never sure what brings someone to be truly good but I have to believe that a part of that is overcoming some adversity (beyond the norm) at some point in their life that opened them to an awareness, empathy and caring most of us will never realize.  Could only be me but just watching what these people do and the ease with which they do it somehow makes me feel better in general and gives me hope in times where I often wonder what happened to us as people.

 

Credit: “Just be Nice” Facebook page

 

So, in following a recent theme of also trying to recognize people in a positive way instead of only focusing on the jerks and low-lifes (no that won’t go away – that’s one of the benefits of not being in the group of good people), I want to add someone to that list of day-to-day heroes.  This person has been someone I have often seen and commented on how nice she is.  I was again reminded this morning as I did my time on the treadmill and wandered around the TV channels and found myself settled on watching the Ellen DeGeneres Show.  This is after watching CNN and MSNBC for awhile amidst the current rising tensions and anger against America on the other side of the world.  Ellen has got to be one of the nicest (and bravest) people out there.  I don’t watch her show often but given the number of times she reaches out to help others in the shows that I see, I can only imagine it happens all the time.  I get no sense of self-aggrandizement (which I see in many other celebrities – I’m always suspect of Oprah ) – more a sense of probably how good it makes her feel that she makes others feel.  Ellen has no doubt gone thru some tough times in her career and the treatment she has often received has been shameful but here she is looking outward and past those who would put her somewhere out of sight, and trying to add positive to the world, one step at a time.

So today, the Hero of the Day award goes to Ellen – thanks for being one of those people who can make us all feel good and set an example the rest of us should strive to match.

Ellen DeGeneres – One of the “Good” ones

 

I would like take a moment and mention the tragic events in Libya yesterday.  I am sure all our thoughts and sympathies go out to the friends and families of Christopher Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya and the others (at least one who is American) whose lives were so needlessly taken yesterday.  These are brave people (in each embassy we maintain around the world) who are all too often at risk.  While most of Ambassadors face a good deal of risk, Chris Stevens put himself unselfishly at risk taking on this role in Libya.  He is a hero in his own right.

Given the murder of our citizens in Libya, I have been moved to create a new award I’m putting out there that will sit alongside the current “Head in the Butt” award.  (See, I said I wasn’t going to be going entirely positive.)   The risks our ambassadors and their staffs face just as a normal course of business should not be further increased as a result of actions of people who stay safe back in the US.  To look at this in the broadest sense, any US citizen that leaves the relative safety of our shores is actually put at increased risk as a result of these people who are more focused on personal attention and influence than demonstrating broader concern for others.

While I hate to give this person any more attention than needed (which is really none), in reading thru the news this morning, I picked up on a name I haven’t seen in a few months who has again stepped into the limelight to further his own intentions, again without concern for how others are affected.  Pastor Terry Jones originally gained both national and international attention when he notified the world he would be burning the Quran (or Koran – multiple spellings are out there) on the 10 year anniversary of 9/11.  He initially agreed to not complete that act and managed to wrangle a new car or two out of the deal but then apparently could not do without the attention and went ahead a completed the burning around six months later.  This resulted in the first blood on his hands as there were 12 people killed in the ensuring violence that predictably followed his actions.   This lowlife, who has announced his candidacy for President in the 2012 election, made a very public endorsement of this anti-Muslim film that has led to the increased violence we are now seeing in Libya, Egypt and Yemen.  While maybe not directly attributable to his support and advocacy of this film, I would offer he carries more blood on his hands for these latest killings as it is at a minimum felt that the increased violence was possibly a cover for the attacks on the US Embassy.

I would suggest the actions taken by Jones borders on historical limits to free speech, the classic being you can’t yell fire in a movie theater and maybe it is time we, as a country, look a little more at our assumed freedoms and take these people to task.  As it is, Pastor Jones (there’s that religious connection again), you are lower than whale shit – only matched by the Westboro Baptist Church who I expect will slink from whatever holes in the ground they inhabit to share views similar to Jones at some point.  For today, though, Pastor Jones, you get the honor of being the first recipient of the “Shitbag” award.  This is the only area where I hope my views as an atheist are wrong and you actually get to spend eternity burning in hell.

 

Pastor Terry Jones – Shitbag of the day

Why is it always these religious assholes?

I strongly doubt that I am on the front edge of putting out there the recent news about a Maryland politician and local pastor, Emmett C. Burns Jr. and his letter to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens regarding statements made by one of the Raven players on support of gay rights but the news and particularly the supporting letter back to Burns from a teammate were so impactful I thought I’d re-post it in case anyone reading this blog missed it.  I apparently did (sometimes too busy to keep up with the news and not a strong sports news person) but as soon as my wife pointed this news item out to me, my immediate response was “need to get it out in my blog”.

Quick facts –  Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has spoken out in favor of a Maryland ballot initiative that would legalize gay marriage.  Burns shot off a letter on Maryland House of Delegate letterhead to Ravens owner Steven Bisciotti seeking action against Ayanbadejo.  That letter follows.  An NFL teammate of Brendon,  Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe’s, then shot off a response to Burns – and it has to be one of the best letters/responses to an asshole of Burns caliber that I have ever read – I can only dream of writing so clearly and thoughtfully.  Not a whole lot more comment necessary on Chris Kluwe’s note – pretty much sure most thinking people would pretty much read it and go “f”ing A” – nice response.

So, first, Pastor Dimwit’s letter:

Credit: Yahoo Sports

This is even better given Burns is black and should be a bit more understanding of prejudice and equal rights – but then again, many of these small thinkers don’t take it that far – pretty much a view of “I’ve got mine – time to shit on others”.

Now the best part.  The reply from Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe:

Dear Emmett C. Burns Jr.,

I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of Maryland’s state government. Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level. The views you espouse neglect to consider several fundamental key points, which I will outline in great detail (you may want to hire an intern to help you with the longer words):

1. As I suspect you have not read the Constitution, I would like to remind you that the very first, the VERY FIRST Amendment in this founding document deals with the freedom of speech, particularly the abridgment of said freedom. By using your position as an elected official (when referring to your constituents so as to implicitly threaten the Ravens organization) to state that the Ravens should “inhibit such expressions from your employees,” more specifically Brendon Ayanbadejo, not only are you clearly violating the First Amendment, you also come across as a narcissistic fromunda stain. What on earth would possess you to be so mind-boggingly stupid? It baffles me that a man such as yourself, a man who relies on that same First Amendment to pursue your own religious studies without fear of persecution from the state, could somehow justify stifling another person’s right to speech. To call that hypocritical would be to do a disservice to the word. Mindfucking obscenely hypocritical starts to approach it a little bit.

2. “Many of your fans are opposed to such a view and feel it has no place in a sport that is strictly for pride, entertainment, and excitement.” Holy fucking shitballs. Did you seriously just say that, as someone who’s “deeply involved in government task forces on the legacy of slavery in Maryland”? Have you not heard of Kenny Washington? Jackie Robinson? As recently as 1962 the NFL still had segregation, which was only done away with by brave athletes and coaches daring to speak their mind and do the right thing, and you’re going to say that political views have “no place in a sport”? I can’t even begin to fathom the cognitive dissonance that must be coursing through your rapidly addled mind right now; the mental gymnastics your brain has to tortuously contort itself through to make such a preposterous statement are surely worthy of an Olympic gold medal (the Russian judge gives you a 10 for “beautiful oppressionism”).

3. This is more a personal quibble of mine, but why do you hate freedom? Why do you hate the fact that other people want a chance to live their lives and be happy, even though they may believe in something different than you, or act different than you? How does gay marriage, in any way shape or form, affect your life? If gay marriage becomes legal, are you worried that all of a sudden you’ll start thinking about penis? “Oh shit. Gay marriage just passed. Gotta get me some of that hot dong action!” Will all of your friends suddenly turn gay and refuse to come to your Sunday Ticket grill-outs? (Unlikely, since gay people enjoy watching football too.)

I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won’t come into your house and steal your children. They won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won’t even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population—rights like Social Security benefits, child care tax credits, Family and Medical Leave to take care of loved ones, and COBRA healthcare for spouses and children. You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails. Do the civil-rights struggles of the past 200 years mean absolutely nothing to you?

In closing, I would like to say that I hope this letter, in some small way, causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot in mouth clusterfuck you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I’m fairly certain you might need it.

Sincerely, Chris Kluwe

P.S. I’ve also been vocal as hell about the issue of gay marriage so you can take your “I know of no other NFL player who has done what Mr. Ayanbadejo is doing” and shove it in your close-minded, totally lacking in empathy piehole and choke on it. Asshole.

So today, I’m going to begin a new award.  In the spirit of trying to be more positive than my usual negative intent, I want to actually recognize these two NFL players who have taken that step forward and taken us a little bit forward to progressive thinking on one hand (Brendon) and calling an asshole an asshole when deserved on the other (Chris).  In both cases a role model that is critical in moving this country forward.

Brendon – congrats on being the first recipient of the “Hero of the Day” award –

Brendon Ayanbadejo – Baltimore Ravens

We have a “twofer” today as I would also like to recognize Chris for his elegant and impactful response –

Chris Kluwe – Minnesota Vikings

Of course, given this attention and what would seem to be extra outrage back at the man, Pastor Burns has now done a quick turnaround and has made statements supporting Brendon Ayanbadejo’s right to state his opinion.  Of course that goes without saying (or should).  However, no apologies for recognition of his obvious step over the line.  In any case, here is an person whom deserves some extra attention.  And of course, it wouldn’t be me without doling out a “Head in the Butt” award when so obviously deserved.

So here you go Pastor Burns – no doubt Jesus would be proud –

Maryland politician and minister Emmett C. Burns Jr.

And thank you for re-affirming my decision to embrace atheism and for also showing that the Republican party doesn’t have all the miscreants.

A Kinder and Gentler Convention

I had no plans originally to watch the Democratic National Convention last night but as it turned out we watched a good deal of it beginning with Tammy Duckworth and following it thru Michelle Obama.  I figured that I, like most people, would hear the speeches and since I usually lean towards the side of the Democrats, I would basically hear the counterpoints and arguments as to why the Democrats were different, where the Republicans were wrong, how out of touch the Romney-Ryan ticket is, etc., etc.  I did hear all that but I think there was one obvious and important difference that in my mind pretty much says it all – and is really why I just can’t find much common ground with the Republicans. And it is actually pretty simple.  While the words and positions were obviously different, when I really thought about it, what really stood apart in my mind and in my heart was the tone last night of almost everyone who spoke.  They were all real.   I didn’t hear hate.  I didn’t hear an intense anger.  I didn’t hear speakers attacking other’s character.  I didn’t hear an “us vs. them”.  I didn’t hear the viciousness I have come to expect from the Republicans.  I heard a kinder and gentler message.  I heard people who actually cared about those in this country not as well off.  I heard leaders who found it important to not just look out for their own interests.  I heard from people I would actually want to know and who did not embarrass me as a fellow American.

I know it is too simple but how great would it be if everyone could stop for a few minutes and try to link into the energy and the type of emotion put out by each party.  It would help at this important turning point.  I think people need to look past the “rules” they have in their heads.  We need to start to begin to work at getting the more subjective nature of us as human beings more in focus.  I learned along time ago that one must learn to gauge that which is around them at two levels.  What you think is right and what you feel is right.  The intellectualizing of much of what we do is a result of what we think we should do – not always what really feels right.  Most of us have an innate ability to know what is right in our heart.  In most simple terms, most of us know what is right if we really take the time to listen to our inner self.  Who among us hasn’t started in one direction with a decisions or action and then shifted direction or changed in some fashion when we paid attention to our heart.  Who among us hasn’t made one decision that we really knew just didn’t feel right and then, after things went bad, looked back and really knew then what that bad feeling we had was really telling us.  I know it isn’t really our heart we listen to but our inner psyche is always there to help us also “feel” the right answer.

Does the Democratic Party have it all right?  Are all the Democratic leaders “good” people who don’t have a personal agenda?  No, I’m not that stupid or idealistic.  But I do believe we have people on this side of the aisle that actually care and want to do the right thing.  How can that be bad – even if it doesn’t work 100% for everyone every time.  I know I get snarky and I get a bit too intense and personal in my anger some times.  Hard not too when the frustration gets too intense and you get scared of what can potentially happen.  I think the speakers last night made that all too clear.  And they did it pretty gently – and with class.  And they made me feel better.  These were people not spitting out talking points – they were speaking from their hearts.  I know we’re not done and there will be more intensity and more lashing out (as there should be) but what a great start.

Last point – Michelle Obama – can’t say I’ve heard any other First Lady (or potential First Lady) be as elegant, forthright, and genuine that what I heard last night.  What a great speech and what an ability to make it all real.  I might be naive but I really believe she cares.

 

The Awards of the Day

There are times that stretch one’s imagination when you have to wonder how far out of touch an individual (or even a group) can be from reality.  I’d like to say that today was one of those special days but, to be honest, there is no dearth of days where it is relatively easy to find one of those special people.   Looking back just a few months, it was Ricky Santorum who could be counted on to get the “Head in the Butt” award. Unfortunately (not really), he has pretty much disappeared from the public eye so it is time to look for other deserving souls.

Today, there was one obvious person who has positioned himself as an obvious contender.  A man who has continually stepped up to become a folk hero to those who have obviously lost their way – the Tea Party.  He continues to demonstrate phenomenal short-sightedness and baseless self-importance.  Aside from trashing the Supreme Court today for their decision on the Obama health care law, he gets this award for his continued attempts to basically blackmail the Senate by halting bills that are actually relevant and important with amendments that have no bearing or relationship to the issues at hand.  Paul has repeatedly insisted that Senate leaders schedule votes on amendments he’s pursuing on issues such as abortion or gun rights — or he’ll delay major, bipartisan legislation.  This week, Paul demanded a guaranteed vote by the Senate first on defining life as starting at conception, as part of a bill renewing national flood insurance.  Will this bring the country to its knees?  Not by a long shot but it is one of the reasons that Congress has an approval rating barely above 10%.  Without question, Rand Paul gets today’s “Head in the Butt” award.

Rand – take a bow!

 

For all those who might take offense and feel this is a bit over the top, I would submit that you too have likely made that journey where things look bleak and it is time to return to the past.  For those, I offer this thought –

credit to: StickerGiant.com Inc.

 

Time to buy some Oreos

As a followup to my last blog it makes sense to continue to recognize the companies that take a stance in this critical area of diversity.  While I believe it is increasingly important to not spend time and money on those anachronistic and medievil thinking companies, it is probably even more important to frequent and support those companies who take the risky stand of supporting the LGBT community.

For today, it is really all about Kraft Foods –

Image credit: facebook.com/oreo

 

While I have always loved Oreos, this has been one treat that hasn’t played well in trying to keep the pounds in control – my issue being if one or two are good, then 9 or 10 are even better.  When I make the choice of where I spend my calories, I’ll have to admit it usually goes to ice cream and jujyfruits.  In staying true to my commitment to support those companies who support this cause, I’ll buy a package of oreos (one of the smaller ones given my lack of control) and have a few with a glass of milk.

 

Inspiration – Beyond the Hype

I spend a considerable amount of time either sitting on an exercise bike or on a treadmill and have done so for a good number of years.  While the health benefits are obvious, that is not the point of this post.  While at some level I enjoy this often uncomfortable 45-50 minutes, it isn’t something that I could successfully maintain without some other form of diversion to take away some of the discomfort it inevitably brings.  While I have often managed to use my iPod to take away complete attention on the minutes or miles remaining. it is really having a TV in front of me that helps the time pass most easily and I often find myself viewing programs I might not typically watch at other times – mostly a result of channel surfing given the time of day varies and  the TV offerings also are usually varied.  I’ll usually give most any show that looks interesting (and that could also mean different) as shot for at least a few minutes.  As a result, I often find shows early on in their run, often before they become “hits” – like Pawn Stars or Deadliest Catch.   I also sometimes stumble across something that piques my interest, intellect or emotions enough that it stays with me beyond my exercise routine that day.  Today was one of those days.

I have often felt I could have done more with my life if I had more motivation or drive.  I’ve done great and have accomplished much beyond anything I ever imagined.  But, as an individual, you always wonder about what more you could have done with a bit more discipline, less excuses, not as much rationalization.  I think we, individually and as a society, find no shortage in reasons why we can’t do something or why things aren’t different.  We imagine obstacles to be bigger than they often are.  We find excuses at every turn.  And I am not that different.  When things are tough and I think a situation or problem is really a big deal, when I’m thinking clearly I manage a perspective about how easy I really have it and how lucky I really am in most every aspect of my life.  I try to teach my kids the same thing – when you think you have it bad, look around.  It’s not hard to find something or someone who really has challenges and whose attitude and approach to life is one to not only admire but from which to take inspiration and perspective.   Today on the exercise bike I watched one of those shows that made it very clear.

As I moved up the channels as I got into my routine, I stopped on one of the ESPN channels this morning as I saw on the TV screen a young man in a gym wrestling.  Not something I would usually spend a second on.  But this young man had an obvious physical disability.  He is an amputee – not always immediately obvious but this one was as he is a congenital  amputee.  He has no forearms and no legs.  But here was an person who overcame something that would have been a great excuse for not achieving most anything.  I won’t try to share his story as there is entirely too much I would likely miss.  His name is Kyle Maynard and he now works as a speaker for the Washington Speaker’s Bureau, specializing in motivational speeches.  He spends considerable time with our severely disabled from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.  I suggest a stop at his website to get the entire story – http://kyle-maynard.com/ .   His story and the triumphs in his life are food for thought and lessons and perspectives we can and should keep in front of us when we think times are tough.  For the vast majority of us, they never really are.

Here is a video that should start your inspiration….