Respect for the flag and country

“The trip by @VP Pence was long planned. He is receiving great praise for leaving game after the players showed such disrespect for country!” – Trump tweet 10/9/17

In 2016, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began protesting by not standing while the national anthem was being played before the start of games. His decision was motivated by what he viewed as the oppression of people of color in the United States. He stated that; “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”

As with all things Trump he has turned this into a self-serving circus. For Trump this has nothing to do with respecting the flag or this country. This is a show for an audience of one, a distraction, a way for Trump to prove to the world and himself that he is relevant. Is it racist? Oh hell yea, as racist as any action or statement he has made in the past and will make tomorrow. It has two targets, disrespecting and marginalizing people of color and giving his lily-white fan base something to wave their red baseball caps in the air about, flag and country. It is a simple-minded formula for the simple minded masses. It worked for Lenin, it worked for Hitler, and it worked for Castro.

As Republican Senator Bob Corker noted yesterday “the White House has become an adult day care center.” There is no question in my mind that Trump is mentally ill but as terrifying as that my seem here is the thing that bothers me the most, what does that say about the mental stability of his 30-35% base?

In his book The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump, clinical psychologist Craig Malkin noted that Trump displays signs of “extreme present hedonism” the tendency to live in the moment without considering consequences, seeking to bolster one’s self-esteem no matter what the risk. He also exhibits “narcissistic personality disorder” which includes believing you’re better than others, exaggerating your achievements and expecting constant praise. When you combine hedonism, narcissism and bullying, you get “an impulsive, immature, incompetent person who, when in the position of ultimate power, easily slides into the role of the tyrant.” Seems like an apt description of the man we “call” the President of the United States.

Trump has positioned himself as the “Patriotic President” protecting the symbols of this country and the rights of its citizens but never forget what his ultimate intentions are, to divide this country and appeal to just one segment of the population, white Americans and more specifically, white Christian Americans. We should all be less concerned by the perceived threat of North Korea and more concerned about the internal class and race war he is trying to drag us into. The battle lines are drawn with every tweet, every Facebook post and every interview on Fox & Friends. This isn’t about the flag, or country or protecting a particular way of life it is about what it has always been about from the very beginning, the ego of Donald Trump.

“Nobody could have done what I’ve done for #PuertoRico with so little appreciation So much work!” – Trump tweet 10/8/17

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When failure is disguised as success

“I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos.” – Republican Sen. Bob Corker

I had lunch with a very old friend of mine yesterday. Though we live just a few miles away from each other aside from the occasional text or email about someone dying that we know I really hadn’t spent much time with him over the last four or five years. The reason we lost touch is less about him and more about the “former friends” he and I used to share.

You see my view of the world changed about ten years ago though I kept those views bottled-up for both social and economic reasons for a number of years. Once I began acting on and sharing my thoughts about politics, and social issues friends soon became “former friends” and I became isolated and labeled a liberal, a socialist and worst of all a DEMOCRAT (cue the thunder and lightning).

My friend is a smart, sweet man. His pleasures are simple, drinking beer and fishing either together or separately though he can’t fish without drinking beer but he can drink beer and talk about fishing. Where once we had a few things in common, today, other than our shared enjoyment of a cold beer, we have few. Politics is not something we agree on at all.

He voted for Trump. When pressed for the reasons why he spews what most Trump supporters hang their red MAGA baseball caps on, Republican, conservative, and a businessman. Sadly, there is one other reason my friend voted for Trump, he is white. For him there is just something very comfortable, and stable about having an old rich white guy sitting in the Oval Office and he uses the stock market as the barometer to prove the point that Trump is and has been good for the country.

Like me, my friend knows little to nothing about the workings of the stock market. I do know that the market increased a staggering 230 percent during the Obama years but nobody talked about it because most sane, and rational people realize that the stock market is not an indicator of how we are doing. But when your administration doesn’t have a plan for success, no victories but plenty of chaos you resort to inventing successes that you can take “credit” for hence tweets like; Stock Market hits an ALL-TIME high! Unemployment lowest in 16 years! Business and manufacturing enthusiasm at highest level in decades!

The bottom line here is this, nine months in and Trump is an unequivocal failure. The chaos that he has and continues to create at the top has filtered down throughout his administration. Millions spent on private flights is just the tip of the iceberg of abuses occurring in a Trump White House. Why? Because there aren’t enough grown-ups supervising the actions, words or thoughts of Trump and key department heads. Cronyism and nepotism is alive and well in the White House which is why so many government oversight and environmental regulations have been rolled back. Big money speaks and I wonder when the Deplorable Nation will catch on to the fact that more money in his and his family and friends pockets is the only thing their President is concerned about.

My long overdue lunch with my friend ended quickly. Once we covered the activities of our kids, and updates on different people that we knew the conversation lagged. Though we are the exact same age we are in two very different places politically and socially. I am sure he will go back and tell my “former friends” that I am a Obama loving, left leaning, liberal nut and it will confirm for everyone while they sip their lukewarm Budweisers why I became a “former friend”.  

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What is a human being?

Paper Towels

“As democracy is perfected, the office of president represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” – H. L. Mencken, the Baltimore Sun (26 July 1920)

Human Being – a man, woman, or child of the species Homo sapiens, distinguished from other animals by superior mental development, power of articulate speech, and upright stance.

As I watched “our” President throw paper towels to a photo-op ed assembled crowd in the hurricane ravaged U.S. territory of Puerto Rico I wondered to myself, what is a human being? The Merriam-Webster definition is not very rigorous, Homo sapien, mental development, speech, and an upright stance. A pretty low bar and certainly, given that definition, “our” President qualifies to be considered a human being but is that it, shouldn’t we be asking for more from each other than just the bare minimum?

After Trump’s performance in Puerto Rico and the ugly tweets he put out denying what everyone on the ground has categorized as a lack luster and very unsympathetic response to the needs of the Puerto Rican people Joe Scarborough summed it up best for me; “We see once again…another example over the past week what many people have always said about him (Trump)…a basic lack of humanity.”

I don’t know Donald Trump. I know that I don’t like what I see on the outside. I know that I don’t like the vast majority of his words, his actions or how he treats people. But what I don’t know is what is in his heart and despite how I feel about him I know that he has a heart. Trump is as Parker Palmer describes “a person just like me, with strengths and weaknesses, hopes and disappointments, joys and despairs”. Despite my feelings about him, we are interconnected because of these shared qualities.

The problem with Trump, the issue with his humanness is that his ego only allows him to display one side of his humanity. He shares what he perceives as his strength but none of the weakness. His hopes but no mention of his disappointments other than “fake news”. What brings him joy while shielding his despair. In my mind this confirms what I have known about him from the very beginning, he is only half a human being, a stunted 71-year-old adult, a “moron” as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, on the verge of resigning back in July, described him.

Sadly, this lack of humanity is what draws the Deplorable Nation to Trump like a moth to a candle. They want John Wayne, Rambo, not the Dalai Lama or Mother Teresa. They view the world as a cruel, and unforgiving place. A universe where morals and truths are reserved for human beings that look like them, act like them and believe in what they believe. This is the very low bar they have set for themselves, for their leaders, and for their President.

I am convinced, when the history books are written many years from now, this era, this Presidency, and this chapter in America will be viewed with dismay and scorn. Chroniclers will wonder how we came so close to the self-indulgent edge. Why we would allow such an inexperienced, narcissistic, egomaniac to preside over this great country. I hope I am around to read their conclusions.

Trump has unweaved the basic moral fibers so many of us hold true and dear. It will be up to each of us to braid back together what he is so hell-bent on destroying. We will need all of our human traits, compassion, empathy, and love to make it happen, basic human goodness, characteristics “our” President lacks. In my mind, these are the qualities that should define every human being beyond an upright stance.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” –  Dalai Lama

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The right of the people to keep and bear Arms

 “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” – 2nd Amendment

Authorities found 23 guns in the 32nd floor suite of the Mandalay Bay resort and casino in Las Vegas. Several were assault-style rifles with scopes that appear to have been modified to convert them into machine guns. At his home in Mesquite, Nevada police found another 19 firearms and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

I get it, there are people in this world that like guns. They collect them like my wife collects shoes. But guns mean different things to different people. For some, believe it or not, guns are an investment and they own expensive safes to keep their investments in. Others use guns for hunting, or shooting skeet. Their interest in guns is purely for sport. And then there are those who view guns as both power and freedom. It is their constitutional right to “keep and bear Arms” and by god they are going to exercise that right. They see firearms as the great equalizer, protection against a world trying to suppress their rights and their freedoms.

I have zip, zero fascinating with guns. In my younger days I did some hunting, mostly birds, and squirrels. I have even spent some time at the crack of dawn sitting in a cold tree stand waiting for a deer to gently poke its head out of the woods so that I could fire a 30-06 bullet and blow its brains out. Thankfully that never happened. I don’t like the way deer meat taste, yes I have had it cooked every way imaginable and I still don’t like it, and I think they are beautiful and graceful animals. I haven’t fired a gun in twenty plus years but somehow my manhood has remained intact.

My view of the 2nd Amendment is very similar to my view of the Bible, you read into it what you want to get out of it. Want to find a verse in the Bible that supports segregation or the sin of homosexuality, if that is your intellectual predisposition you will find it. If you want to own 40 automatic assault-style rifles and enough ammunition to start a war the NRA’s view of the 2nd Amendment is very clear, you can and better yet, hell you should.

Of all of the Bill of Rights none have been dissected and picked over more than the 2nd Amendment. Honestly I don’t know if James Madison was simply trying to save paper and ink with the brevity he employed but what he ended up doing was creating a never-ending debate on the point he was trying to get across using just 27 words.

Here is thing, at least it is for me, in my mind the 2nd Amendment does not give nor does it protect the right of someone to own 40 automatic assault-style rifles. At some point the “common sense” rule needs to be applied. But that is not what is happening. As we speak Congress is moving forward on a measure that will make silencers more easily available, and make it more difficult for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms to categorize some types of ammunition as armor-piercing. Imagine for a moment the murderer in Las Vegas using a silencer and armor-piercing ammo. If it appears that we are moving backwards rather than forward, we are.

So I guess we just need to get used to these deadly mass shootings, Las Vegas-59 murdered, Pulse nightclub-49 murdered, San Bernardino-14 murdered, Sandy Hook Elementary School-26 murdered, and Columbine High School-12 murdered. Apparently the price of freedom is more expensive, and more deadly than the founding fathers could have ever imagined.

“Guns make small men feel big.” – Oliver Gaspirtz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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His motive is unclear

“He was just a guy. Something happened, he snapped or something, he was just a guy.” – Eric Paddock, brother of Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock

I am tired of waking-up in the morning and hearing about another massacre. For the next week or two this will dominate the news and then sadly disappear. It will be forgotten by the rest of the nation except by those who lived through it until the next incident occurs.

All the networks will bring in their experts to analyze and dissect the who, what and why. Questions will be asked and answers will be theorized about. Gun rights will be debated as will the mental health of those buying weapons. The search will be for who and what can this be pinned on. What set this old white guy off? What was he angry about? Who was he mad at? What was he trying to accomplish? Why?

The Democrat, Republican, conservative, liberal, left, right, Trump, Obama blame has already begun. So has the where was God, it was God’s will, and God already knew game. Honestly, I don’t feel like playing any of them.

Here is what I know, one man has destroyed countless lives and families. His actions, in ten minutes, will reverberate for generations to come. He has altered future outcomes and the course of the universe with a flurry of bullets. Think about that. Children won’t be born because of this man. Common, everyday events won’t occur because of this man. College graduations, weddings, careers, hugs and kisses won’t happen because this man pulled a trigger. In my mind that is the real story, that is the tragic truth, that is the ripple effect this man has created. Do you feel it?

“The idea that everything is purposeful really changes the way you live. To think that everything that you do has a ripple effect, that every word that you speak, every action that you make affects other people and the planet.” –  Victoria Moran

 

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Sweet home Alabama?

Dear Alabama,

Judge Roy Moore is the Republican nominee for US Senate in Alabama. I was wondering, does your organization share Judge Moore’s views on religion, race, women’s rights, and same-sex relationships? If you are unclear on what Judge Moore stands for let me help you. Some of Moore’s more memorable quotes;

  1. “Homosexual behavior is crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it.”
  2. “False religions like Islam who teach that you must worship this way are completely opposite with what our First Amendment stands for.”
  3. “We have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It’s going to be God.”

If this man is elected to the Senate he will be speaking for and representing the views of the state of Alabama. His views and beliefs, by default, become the states views. As an organization doing business in or promoting the state of Alabama what are you going to do? Staying silent, in my mind, makes your organization complicit with this man positions.

I look forward to your response.

Feel free to use and send to:

Mercedes-Benz

Honda Facebook

Hyundai

Toyota

Walmart

Regions Bank

Airbus

Birmingham Business Alliance

Huntsville Madison County Chamber

Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce

Economic Development Partnership of Alabama

Alabama Republican Party

 

 

 

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Choosing between death or a new tax plan

Death and Taxes

I have a sad tax tale. Once upon a time I owned some Apple stock. I bought it cheap using some roll-over IRA money that I had when I changed jobs in the late 1980’s. Sometime in the 1990’s I had a good income year, at least, that is what my accountant told me though I couldn’t find that “good income” in my checking or savings account. So when April 15th rolled around and I saw what I owed the IRS I was scrambling for money. The only place I did have some spare cash was in my IRA.

Now if you remember anything about Apple back then, they booted Steve Jobs out, brought in the Pepsi guy and pretty soon, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, the stock began to tank. Of the four or five stocks I owned Apple, at least according to my stockbroker, seemed to be the most logical one to sell since it was slipping and my “gain” would be less since I would have to pay a penalty for dipping into my IRA.

Long story short, if, and this is the big-ass IF, if I still owned that Apple stock today, with splits, it would be worth in the neighborhood of $1,500,000.00. Am I bitter? Just a little a bit. Bitter enough that I sill keep track of it almost 20 years later. Bitter enough to know that retirement should be right around the corner and I don’t have a pot to pee in. But hey, I still got my health and some of my hair although most of it is growing out of my ears.

90% of Americans don’t understand anything about taxes except this, it seems like we pay too much and to many. Between Federal, State and Sales taxes it would seem that there is plenty of money out there to keep this country going. But here is the thing, the convenient truth that average Joe and Josephine Deplorable doesn’t know or don’t want to know, the vast majority of the tax burden for this great country falls on the shoulders of 90% of Americans, that’s right me, you and Joe and Josephine Deplorable.

You see rich folks, the other 10% do pay a lot in taxes, but as a percentage of their overall income, as compared to the other 90%, they really don’t. It isn’t and never has been an equitable system. So why is that? Tax codes, tax laws, loopholes, paper losses, stuff H&R Block can’t and won’t be able to help you and I with.

I am not a fan of taxes and I have Apple to thank for my continued bitterness, but I understand that our government needs money to run. I know that there are people out there that genuinely need the governments help to eat, stay warm, and keep the lights on. But I also know that there is government waste like, Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price spending $400,000 on private charter planes over the last few months. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt spending $58,000 on military and private flights, $25,000 to build a private phone booth and for whatever reason he feels the need to have a ten person, 24/7 security detail. Have I mentioned that the Secret Service has requested more millions of dollars so that they can take care of the royal family in the manner in which they are accustomed to living? Let’s all say it together, “Drain the swamp, drain the swamp”. I feel better don’t you?

This very vague new “tax plan” is all about optics, smoke and mirrors. Rest assured the big winners will be the 10% and corporations. The theory is that the savings the 10% and the corporations will realize will be plowed back into the economy. That has never happened. It didn’t happen in the past and it won’t happen today or tomorrow. Trickle down economics is a proven flop unless of course the government is doing the trickling. Individuals and corporations will simply hoard the extra cash this new “tax plan” provides them just as they are hoarding it today. Apple has a cash pile of $261.5 billion.

So Joe and Josephine Deplorable hear “largest tax cut in our country’s history” and “protect millions of small businesses and the American farmer” and “the tax strategy that Ronald Reagan used” and wave their red baseball caps in the air and scream “Hell Yeah!”. But they have no idea what they are hell yeahing about, none of us do. You see they are just being spoon fed words and attention and neither of those are accepted currency at their local bank.

As that great sage George Carlin once noted, “The upper class keeps all of the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes, does all of the work. The poor are there just to scare the shit out of the middle class. Keep ’em showin’ up at those jobs.” That is and has been the true story of America and this new “tax plan” isn’t and won’t change that tale.

 

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