But still they support him

Jesus MAGA

Trump’s bad week has “forced” me to spend, yea I know I wasn’t forced, a lot of time on social media, specially Facebook and Twitter. Now let me explain how I have my Facebook account set-up, I have no friends, no really I have no friends. 50% of the content I receive on my “News Feed” is politically based, probably 10% local news, 10% environmental news, 10% sports related, 10% spiritual and the other 10% fluff and bullshit. Sounds pretty dull I know but I am a pretty dull guy.

I try to balance, at least balanced in my mind, the political sites I subscribed too but as you would expect if you have read this blog for any length of time, I lean from the middle to the left so that is the type of reporting I prefer reading. So no feeds from Fox News or Sean Hannity, or Breitbart or Rush Limbaugh. The conservatives would say how could I proclaim to be getting a “balanced” representation of the story then? Funny, that is the same question I ask them.

So back to Trump’s bad week which I detailed in my post The heat is on, I was reading an article about the Playboy model, Karen McDougal who alleges she had a nine month affair with Trump back in 2006. The jest of the article was about the pattern of powerful men using the National Enquirer to “catch and kill” a story. The publication will pay for the exclusive right to run the story, in the case of McDougal $150,000, and then kill it, never publish it as a “favor” to the powerful man, in this case Trump.

So what we have witnessed, over the last 30 days or so, are two women who have come forward and said that they were in a relationship with Trump and were paid a total of $280,000 to keep quiet. As has been Trump’s modus operandi he denies any and all allegations such as these but given his past, he has been married three times, and current statements, remember what he said about Roy Moore “He totally denies it”, it really isn’t hard to believe these two assertions and all the other sexual abuse charges leveled at him by 20 other women are true. But still they support him.

As I finished reading the article I started scanning through the comments and as you would imagine, there was no middle ground. But I was particularly interested in reading what Trump supporters had to say. Think about when both of the alleged affairs occurred, shortly after his marriage to Melania and months after the birth of his son. Now as both a husband and a father there is never a good or appropriate reason to have an affair but I would imagine no matter what kind of piece of shit you knew you were marrying, after your wife just had your child would, at least in my mind, be the worst time.

So how did the Trump supporters respond to this article? Two ways, by disparaging and vilifying Karen McDougal and proclaiming that “GOD” had changed Trump. Remember what Michelle Obama said; “I’ve seen firsthand that being president doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are.” But still they support him.

I worry about all these Evangelicals, not their souls or salvation, but the toxins and poisons they are filling our environment with. How blind and superficial must you be to exclaim, for all the world to see and hear, that you are follower of Jesus Christ and then align yourself with a miscreant such as Donald Trump. What does that say about you? What does it say about the Christian faith in general? But still they support him.

I thought a Donald Trump presidency would destroy this country and sadly my fears are being realized. What I didn’t expect or anticipate is that a Donald Trump presidency would erode the moral fabric of our country. Honestly, I guess that is what I really should have been worried about. We can rebuild what has been demolished but recapturing Americas goodness, honor and principles may be more difficult. But still they support him.

 

 

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The heat is on

“The heat is on, on the street, Inside your head, on every beat, And the beat’s so loud, deep inside, The pressure’s high, just to stay alive, ‘Cause the heat is on” – Glenn Frey

“Fake news”, “Total hoax”, “Total fabrication”“Witch hunt”, “No collusion”, “The President has denied all of these allegations”“This is an old story”, “Just more fake news” and my favorite “I have never met these women”. 

And some of the women; Jessica Leeds, Jill Harth, Kristen Anderson, Lisa Boyne, Cathy Heller, Temple Taggart, Mariah Billado, Karena Virginia, Bridget Sullivan, Tasha Dixon, Melinda McGillivray, Jennifer Murphy, Rachel Crooks, Natasha Stoynoff, Ninni Laaksonen, Jessica Drake, Samantha Holvey, Summer Zervos, Cassandra Searles, Stormy Daniels and the latest addition to the list, Playmate of the Month in December 1997 Karen McDougal.

And today, a new revelation in the Russian fake news hoax; Special counsel Robert Mueller issued indictments for 13 Russians for their role in a massive election meddling plot that roped in “unwitting” Trump campaign officials in its web. The depth and breath of the Russia strategy to influence the 2016 election runs directly counter to Trump’s attempts to cast the entire Russia investigation as a “total hoax: and a “witch hunt.”

Think about when you have a bad week. Think about the kind of things you have to deal with. Wreck you car, kids are sick, the dog keeps throwing-up on your new carpet, or maybe the hot water heater kicks the bucket. For most of us a bad week is the compilation of several relatively small things going wrong. And what do we do? We deal with it. But think about how you feel. Think about the irritation, the aggravation, maybe even the pressure a bad week puts you under.

Donald Trump had another bad week this week. Some have gone so far as to say maybe his worst week but given how many bad weeks he has had over the last year it is difficult to gauge one over the other at this point.

What is weighing heavy on Trump’s mind this week? I have already mentioned Karen McDougal, and Robert Mueller we can also include the tragedy in Parkland and the push back he is receiving on his very insincere and inadequate response. The reports that Rick Gates, a former senior adviser is nearing a plea deal with the special counsel. Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer acknowledging he made a $130,000 personal payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. The second week of the Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary, domestic abuse debacle. The revelation that apparently no one in the Trump administration has a security clearance. Also, two more instances of Trump cabinet members, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Veterans Administrator David Shulkin, living the high life on tax payers money. And finally, the already chilly relationship he appears to be having with his wife Melania. Certainly the Playmate of the month and $130,000 payment revelations this week couldn’t have helped thaw their marriage.

Despite what you think of Trump, and I realize even this is a point of contention for some of us, he is human and as a human, despite his cavalier responses, he feels the pressure bearing down on him and that is what concerns me most, honestly that is what should concern all of us.

I would not describe Trump as being mentally stable. I would also not describe Trump as very smart at least not as smart as he thinks he is. I also believe that Trump is very isolated, and is increasingly becoming more isolated. There have been credible reports that he spends vast amounts of time alone in his room with his two most trusted advisers Fox & Friends and Sean Hannity basically working himself up into a frenzy and then releasing that pressure on Twitter as he did just moments ago; “Russia started their anti-US campaign in 2014, long before I announced that I would run for President. The results of the election were not impacted. The Trump campaign did nothing wrong – no collusion!” 

What worries me is this, right now it is Twitter, but what will he do or use when Twitter isn’t enough? All the “fake news” outlets agree, Robert Mueller’s latest indictments are just another landmine aimed at Trump and his Administration, one more side of the crate Mueller is methodically crafting to box him in. And what will Trump do when Muller has all four sides, the bottom and the top of box constructed and tries to tape the lid shut, will a tweet be enough to soothe his already fragile ego? I don’t think so.

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A nation of tribes

Tribes have always existed in this country. You remember some of the old names of the tribes that once dominated the landscape SiouxApache and Cherokee. Over the last 300 years, that once cohesive group commonly referred to as “Americans” has split, sub-divided, morphed and chosen a side to the point that it would be very difficult to lump this nation into one category, the classification of an American.

I have contended since the very beginning that Trump was “pushed over the top” by tribes that felt disenfranchised, tribes with names like Evangelicals, Nationalist, Gun Rights Advocates, Alt-Right, Neo-Nazis, and White Supremacist. On the outside, some of these tribes would seem to be very strange bedfellows, others, it makes perfect sense but what they have in common is this, somehow, someway, they all heard or saw some semblance of support for their ideology from Trump.

Like many of you my heart has been broken, once again, by the senseless tragedy at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. 17 dead. 17 human lives wiped off the face of this earth by a child, one child with an AR-15 assault rifle. Sadly the same weapon used to murder human beings in Aurora, Orlando, Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, Sutherland Springs…..

This horrible tragedy has brought the kind of responses we have come to expect from the many different tribes of America and even more surprising, the lack of a response from some. The NRA crowd, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, have asked everyone to take a deep breath and not over react. Don’t let the emotions of the murder of 17 people cause us to make hasty decisions. The NRA’s hope? That next week something else will via for the media’s attention and we, you and I, will forget about Parkland like we have forgotten about Sandy Hook, Las Vegas and Orlando.

But here is the problem with Paul Ryan’s and the NRA’s “logic” one tragedy replaces another with such frequency now that the memories of the old remain fresh in our minds, “our” being the tribe that is demanding tighter gun controls and restrictions. Did anyone else notice yesterday that Trump, in his consolatory address to the nation, one that lacked any resemblance of empathy, sorrow or grief, didn’t once mention the word gun? Ponder that for a moment.

So why didn’t he? Why didn’t he say the word “Guns”? As my Grandmother would say because he knows which side his bread is buttered on. I would bet that the NRA had a hand in crafting that most insincere speech Thursday. I would also suspect that is why it took Trump 24 hours to get in front of the camera. That is the kind of access and input $30 million buys you, leaving the word “Guns” out of a speech to the nation, a speech which is supposed to console us about gun violence.

Gun Violence Archive is a “not for profit corporation formed in 2013 to provide free online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States.” You can click the hyperlink above and look at the numbers to-date (2018) yourself but here are just a few of the gun violence statistics 47 days into the year;

Total Number of Incidents- 6,739

Number of Deaths- 1,859

Number of Injuries- 3,213

Mass Shootings- 30

Number of children killed or injured- 428

The tribes of America aren’t going to come together on the gun violence issue. No amount of dead children is going to move or dissuade the leadership in Washington who the NRA have in their back pockets to make policy changes to protect usWhat I have come to realize is that the deaths of innocents is simply collateral damage for the rights of a few. The right to own an arsenal of weapons under the tribal guise of Freedom.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said yesterday that “This is one of those moments where we just need to step back and count our blessings.” In my community, 700 miles away from Parkland, FL two grandparents mourn the death of their 15-year-old grandchild, one of the 17 murdered on Valentines Day. How do they step back? How do they count their blessings?

For to many years Ryan and other members of the take the cash NRA fraternity have been preaching against “knee-jerk” political responses to mass shootings. I think it well past the time for my tribe, the gun-control, gun-restriction tribe to use our knees for what they were intended for, to knee the NRA and its politicians in the balls. If the bodies of dead children, if the anguish and devastation of parents, siblings, friends and grandparents doesn’t get their attention maybe kicking them in the balls and kicking their ass out of Washington will.

I am tired of stepping back. I am tired of looking at the faces of mothers and fathers who have just lost their reason for living because one tribe believes freedom is spelled “GUNS”. How about you?

 

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The National Rifle Association “applauded” Trump’s action

“So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!” – Trump tweet 2-15-18

Trump Signs Bill Revoking Obama-Era Gun Checks for People With Mental Illnesses 

President Donald Trump quietly signed a bill into law Tuesday rolling back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun.

The rule, which was finalized in December, added people receiving Social Security checks for mental illnesses and people deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs to the national background check database.

Had the rule fully taken effect, the Obama administration predicted it would have added about 75,000 names to that database.

President Barack Obama recommended the now-nullified regulation in a 2013 memo following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which left 20 first graders and six others dead. The measure sought to block some people with severe mental health problems from buying guns.

The original rule was hotly contested by gun rights advocates who said it infringed on Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Gun control advocates, however, praised the rule for curbing the availability of firearms to those who may not use them with the right intentions.

Both the House and Senate last week passed the new bill, H.J. Res 40, revoking the Obama-era regulation.

Trump signed the bill into law without a photo op or fanfare. The president welcomed cameras into the oval office Tuesday for the signing of other executive orders and bills. News that the president signed the bill was tucked at the bottom of a White House email alerting press to other legislation signed by the president.

The National Rifle Association “applauded” Trump’s action. Chris Cox, NRA-ILA executive director, said the move “marks a new era for law-abiding gun owners, as we now have a president who respects and supports our arms.”

Everytown For Gun Safety President John Feinblatt said he expected more gun control rollbacks from the Trump administration. In a statement to NBC News, he called the action “just the first item on the gun lobby’s wish list” and accused the National Rifle Association of “pushing more guns, for more people, in more places.”

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a leading gun control advocate in Congress, called out Republicans over the move.

“Republicans always say we don’t need new gun laws, we just need to enforce the laws already on the books. But the bill signed into law today undermines enforcement of existing laws that Congress passed to make sure the background check system had complete information,” he said in an emailed statement.

The National Rifle Association spends a huge sum of money to defend their perception of the 2nd Amendment. It is opposed to every form of gun regulation, including restrictions on owning assault weapons, retention of databases of gun purchases, background checks on purchasers at gun shows and changes in the registration of firearms.

In 2016, the NRA placed a multi-million dollar bet on Donald Trump and six Republican Senate candidates. NRA, CEO Wayne LaPierre even stated “The NRA stood with Donald Trump during the darkest days of that campaign. We never wavered.” The organization poured $50.2 million into the 2016 campaigns and lost only one race, an open seat in Nevada, vacated by the Democratic Minority Leader, Harry Reid. That race cost the NRA roughly $2.5 million. In North Carolina, the NRA spent $6.2 million on the incumbent Republican Sen. Richard Burr, the most it has ever invested in a down-ballot race.

A wall, a travel ban or kicking undocumented people out of this country wouldn’t have prevented “the Florida shooter” from attaining a AR-15 and slaughtering 17 people most of them children at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Trump, the NRA, Republicans, Conservatives and the Al-right made sure that wouldn’t happen.

“The eight year assault on your Second Amendment freedoms has come to a crashing end. You have a true friend and champion in the White House. No longer will federal agencies be coming after law-abiding gun owners. No longer will the government be trying to undermine your rights and your freedoms as Americans.” – Trump speech in Atlanta to roughly 10,000 NRA members.   

The New York Times Opinion: Thoughts and Prays and N.R.A. Funding

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Suck out all the marrow of life

“I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms…” – Henry David Thoreau

This is the obituary for Mr. Terry Wayne Ward who died on January 23, 2018 in DeMotte, IN;

Terry Wayne Ward, age 71, of DeMotte, IN, escaped this mortal realm on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018, leaving behind 32 jars of Miracle Whip, 17 boxes of Hamburger Helper and multitudes of other random items that would prove helpful in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

Terry is survived by his overly-patient and accepting wife Kathy, who was the love of his life (a fact she gladly accepted sympathy for during their 48 years of marriage). He is also survived by daughters Rebecca (William) Hines and Jean (Jeff) Lahm; sister, Linda; brother, Phil; grandchildren: Alexander and Hannah Hines (The Mesopotamians), Daphne and Erin Pistello (The Daffer and Peanut), Brendan and Owen Lahm (Phineas and Ferb) and Tessa McMurry (Smiley).

He is preceded in death by his parents Paul and Bernice Ward, daughter Laura Pistello, grandson Vincent Pistello, brother Kenneth Ward, a 1972 Rambler and a hip.

Terry graduated from Thornridge High School in South Holland, IL, where only three of his teachers took an early retirement after having had him as a student. He met the love of his life, Kathy, by telling her he was a lineman – he didn’t specify early on that he was a lineman for the phone company, not the NFL. Still, Kathy and Terry wed in the fall of 1969, perfectly between the Summer of Love and the Winter of Regret.

Terry volunteered his service in the United States Army and was an active combat Veteran in the Viet Nam War.

He retired from AT&T (formerly Ameritech, formerly formerly Indiana Bell) after 39 years of begrudging service, where he accumulated roughly 3,000 rolls of black electrical tape during the course of his career (which he used for everything from open wounds to “Don’t use this button” covers).

He enjoyed many, many things.  Among those things were hunting, fishing, golfing, snorkeling, ABBA, hiking Turkey Run, chopping wood, shooting guns, Bed Bath & Beyond, starlight mints, cold beer, free beer, The History Channel, CCR, war movies, discussing who makes the best pizza, The Chicago White Sox, old Buicks, and above all, his family.

He was a renowned distributor of popsicles and ice cream sandwiches to his grandchildren. He also turned on programs such as “Phineas and Ferb” for his grand-youngins, usually when they were actually there.

He despised “uppity foods” like hummus, which his family lovingly called “bean dip” for his benefit, which he loved consequently. He couldn’t give a damn about most material things, and automobiles were never to be purchased new. He never owned a personal cell phone and he had zero working knowledge of the Kardashians.

Terry died knowing that The Blues Brothers was the best movie ever, (young) Clint Eastwood was the baddest-ass man on the planet, and hot sauce can be added to absolutely any food.

Tremendous and heartfelt thanks go to the truly exceptional nurses at Southlake Methodist Hospital Neuro-Intensive Care Unit, who provided much more than nursing care for Terry, but also provided a peaceful and compassionate environment during his transition from this life to the next.

Friends can visit with the family on Saturday, January 27, from Noon until the time of the Funeral Service at 4:00 PM, with Pastor Mark Wilkins officiating, at Geisen Funeral, Cremation & Receptions Centre, 606 E. 113th Ave., Crown Point, IN. Services will conclude at the funeral home.

Memorial donations in Terry’s name can be made to your favorite charity or your favorite watering hole, where you are instructed to tie a few on and tell a few stories of the great Terry Ward.

I think we can all agree that Terry sucked out all the marrow of life. Safe journeys Terry, safe journeys.

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” – Marcus Aurelius

 

 

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I am an American!

A real conversation I had today;

Him- “This little Mexican girl that was working at McDonald’s asked me if I could move to a smaller table and I told her hell no, I was here first not my f*cking problem y’all don’t have enough seats. I wanted to ask her when she climbed over the fence to get here. Shit, I am an American, born here, I got all the freedoms that come with it. Tell me to move. She’s lucky I didn’t turn her in, there was a cop standing right there. I could’ve turned her in and got her little brown butt sent back to Mexico.” 

Me- “You don’t look like a native American.”

Him- “What the hell does that got to do with anything? Oh, well I got some Indian blood in me, not the dot head kind.”

Me- “Right. But like I said you don’t look like a native American to me so somewhere in your family tree not one but two people crossed a border, sailed on a ship, maybe even climbed a fence to get here so YOU could be born in America. So what makes you so much more special than her?” 

Him- “Because I was born here, my mama and daddy were born her. My brother died in Vietnam for this country, he died so I can sit any damn place I want to sit. What has that little brown girl done for this country? Jumped a fence so she can take my order? Nothing, she ain’t done nothing. Hell she shouldn’t even be here. All those people think we owe them something, hell they are lucky to be here, take our jobs and send the money back to Mexico or India, shit don’t get me started.” 

Me- “Sounds like you have already started.”

Him- “What the hell you mean by that?”

Me- “Sounds like you are mad about something else, not her. And how do you know she wasn’t born here? Just cause she is brown? She was just trying to do her job which is to accommodate the customers. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to ask you to move, but I am sure her manager, probably some American, told her to do it. She knew the minute she asked you if you would move to a smaller table there was a 50-50 chance you were going to act like an ass about it, and she was right.”

Him- “F*ck you”

Me- “Have a nice day.”

I wonder who is fueling all this hate?

“So disgraceful that a person illegally in our country killed @Colts linebacker Edwin Jackson. This is just one of many such preventable tragedies. We must get the Dems to get tough on the Border, and with illegal immigration, FAST!” – Trump tweet 2-6-18

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Feeding our fears

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” – Nelson Mandela

Each Sunday morning the Pastor of the church my wife and I have been attending has someone in the congregation come to the pulpit and lead us in a responsive reading of a Psalm. As I have written before, this is a mission church whose focus is on helping the homeless in our community so she typically pulls someone from pews that is or has been homeless.

I know the reason she does this, she is trying to help that person build-up their self-esteem. If you have ever spoken to 100 or 200 people on stage you know it can be very intimidating. I know people, successful, educated people, who absolutely can not speak to large gatherings. Stage fright doesn’t even begin to describe the fear they experience. Imagine though trying to lead a congregation in the recitation of a Psalm with Dyslexia, or an elementary school reading level. For most of us that would go beyond terrifying, it would be both embarrassing and humiliating.

Each Sunday I watch all matter of human beings, white, black, old, young, male and female brutally stumble through these readings and this past Sunday was no different. With the Pastor by their side guiding them, I follow along in the Hymnal as they mispronounce, invert, or simply skip parts of the Psalm. It can be hard to watch but I always think to myself, what courage it took for them to stand-up there and do this. I am sure, for many, this is so far out of their comfort zone that they may see it as some kind of self flagellation. But each Sunday, someone new stands before us, and each Sunday I see the sense of relief and accomplishment on their face when the task is completed.

“When you do what you fear most, then you can do anything.” – Stephen Richards

Despite my out going and self-confident persona I do have fears, things that just scare the shit of me. I have no problem standing in-front of 500 people babbling on about whatever, but I am terrified of heights. I am happy to help anyone, do anything, but I am afraid to ask for help myself. I work diligently to remain positive and focused on the future, but I worry about my past, what I have said, what I have done, and whose feelings I might have hurt.

My senses tell me that a large segment of the American population is operating under a blanket of fear right now and that those fears are being stoked by all sides, Republicans, Democrats, Liberals and Conservatives. Even the mainstream religions are playing to our fears which, for me, is the worst of the bunch.

I saw a survey recently that listed the top 10 human fears;

  1. Failure
  2. Death
  3. Rejection
  4. Ridicule
  5. Loneliness
  6. Misery
  7. Disappointment
  8. Pain
  9. The unknown
  10. Losing our freedom

I am sure over the course of our lifetimes each of us has dealt with one or all of the fears listed above. It’s simply human nature, honestly it’s what makes us human. I would suspect we all have these “fear genes” rolling around in our souls somewhere and some we feed and some we starve. The question we need to ask ourselves is this, why would we feed one or two but ignore the rest?

I mentioned in a post last year that, career wise, I am at a crossroad. Well since that post, I am now standing naked in the middle of that crossroad and when I look right or left, up or down I have no vision of what is ahead of me and I got to be honest, it is pretty scary.

I have always preached two mantra’s to my children; “Things happen for a reason” and “Somehow things always work out”. These two maxims have gotten me and my family through some rough spots over the years. The hard part is believing that they are true and having the patience’s, and the courage to accept the truths and the answers they reveal.

Sunday, a man stood before me and with strength, and grace stumbled through the 50th Psalm. I am sure, given what he already knew were less than perfect reading skills, he was kicking himself for agreeing to do it. But he did it, he survived, “Somehow things always work out”. I hope they will for you, I hope they will for me as well.

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear.” –  Mark Twain

 

 

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