#politics

Happy MLK Day. I Can’t Wait for America to be Great Again. Can You?

This is not my fight song.  This is my sorry song.  During this weekend of reflection, while I watch the MAGA Covington Catholic High School kid/Native American war veteran Nathan Phillips story unfold, I am filled with great sadness.  The blind and tone-deaf comments, from both sides (myself included), which used to fuel me, impassion me, now show me who I have become.  I wish everyone would take responsibility for their actions, and stop the vicious cycles of hate begets hate, and hate excuses hate.

I am sorry for a lot of things.  Genuinely.  I am sorry to the people I forgot and who feel forgotten (*this and all following apologies do not apply to those who are actual racists, bigots, and assholes).  I am sorry they are still forgotten.  I am sorry for the times I took a side just because it was “my side.”  I am sorry for the unkind things I have said, though, I am thankful for my right to free speech, which I hope we all continue to take advantage of as a vehicle to voice our frustrations and differing views.  I am sorry it has come to this.  This is not who we are as a country, and I am heartbroken.

I did not vote for Trump, but like everyone (statistically), I know and love some people who did.  Sometimes I am filled with so much frustration and anger towards them, it feels like hate.  But, I know and try to remember that when my day or theirs comes, I may not be thinking of the political choices and missteps I felt they took, but how they treated me, how they loved me.

It is difficult to know who represents me in the ivory tower now, certainly not the extremes or the fringes, maybe sometimes the outraged, but not always.  I grew up a “Republican,” became a “Democrat,” but now, I don’t know what I am or what those terms mean anymore.  What I do know, is that I miss the character and leadership of President Obama, even though I did not agree with everything he did.  I am inspired by Senator McCain.  Just as he called Obama “[m]y President,” McCain was my representative, though I have never lived in Arizona.  He was a war hero who fought so I could enjoy my rights, freedoms, and safety as an American citizen.  He conducted himself in a way that made it clear he put our country before himself, even when his love of country was not reciprocated.  I find comfort in President Bush Sr.’s words, “I am a quiet man, but I hear the quiet people others don’t” because it reminds me that there are people listening.

To the members of Congress, I know it is hard.  Hard to do the right thing, hard to do your job, and hard to keep your job so that you can do your job.  I hope that you will dig deep and find the strength to do what is right for our country, and to learn to have compassion and understanding before you are personally visited by what you oppose.  The federal government employees that are affected by the shutdown are not pawns, they are mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons; they are public servants whose job every day has been to protect and serve all of us.

It is becoming clear as additional details come to light that the Covington/Phillips incident is more complex than initially reported. As this investigation progresses, I hope we fight the instinct to double down on what we think we already know, have the humility to put aside pride to seek the truth, and do the right thing. Apologize, where apologies are due. Learn from the mistakes that were made. Own and take responsibility for our actions. It will be cathartic, and show credibility. For their part in any wrongdoing, the Covington High School kids involved and their parents should suffer shame and remorse and face consequences, as we all should when we do things that are wrong.  As this story unfolds, same to whoever else may have had a part in instigating or otherwise cooperating with what culminated in the showdown caught on videoHate cannot excuse hate.  Shame is a minimum cost of doing business when we make bad decisions, but also a motivator to be better.  It was an important preliminary step for Covington High School and the Diocese of Covington to apologize and clarify their position as they did.

Despite the current confusion of what actually happened and whether it could be a mutual misunderstanding that escalated, every time I watch the video, the confrontational intent behind that smirk seems so clear. Even if the video only captures a single moment in a larger context, the visual of that single moment as experienced through that particular angle/point of view, fuels a desire to personally expel the kid with the “punchable and untouchable” smirking face, physically wipe that smirk off his face with my fist, and watch him cry. Admittedly, if the kid’s account is true, this is probably undeserved. Even if the kid’s account is false, however, there is a last, minuscule, struggling spot of optimism left in me that still wants to believe that compassion begets compassion, that education will matter, and reform is possible.  My hope is that this is a turning point for the kid and he becomes a champion for the people and issues his recent actions appear to oppose.  I know that a hope like this may sound naive, but I also believe that it is this type of hope that is the thread of the fabric of our society, and that which may inspire this kid and others to do better.  We cannot give up hope.

I implore everyone (including myself) that while we continue voicing frustrations, to not be lost in them.  That instead of being stuck in “remembering how we got here,” we reach forward for the strength to act effectively.  Or at least, strategically.  Because we need to get out of this massive ditch.  For those of us who know and have the ability to do better, actions such as “going low,” calling people stupid, and constant reminders of the difference in education level between those who support Trump and those who don’t, with certainty (and even under the rules of logic), will not win the discussion or alter beliefs/positions.  These actions may, however, distract from the objectivity of “real” facts that are presented, and isolate and push people more extremely into their beliefs–just as those in Jim Jones’ cult, who may have been reasonable people, but became so isolated that they only had each other as sounding boards and to guide their behaviors.

My hope is that we open our arms and our ears, if only ajar to start, and have the tolerance to accept opinions we cannot change for the benefit of moving through this dark, divisive time.

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Raving Rants: 2,100 photos, ISIS, and Einstein

Have the 2,100 Abu Ghraib photos been released yet?  I don’t know, but I am so sick of reading how these photos do not endanger American lives.  And yes, I understand that a federal judge much smarter than me disagrees.  Although it will never be the right time for the photos, I am fairly certain now is a bad time.

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We’ve seen what 3 beheading videos have done in the US.  I did not know James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and David Haines.  Most of us did not have the chance.  But we feel the disgust, the heartbreak, the hate when we see the images.  Thoughts of killing the executioner in various fashions undoubtably cross many minds.  Now imagine seeing 2,100 more videos.

What if we only saw:

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And read the full transcript of the beheading video here.

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The facts do not change.  Isn’t the death of James Foley just as egregious?  Just as disgusting?  Just as heartbreaking?

Americans are being picked off solely because they are Americans.  The Brits, because we’re friendly with them.  Men, women, and children in Syria because “they don’t follow Sharia Law.”  Violence is never rational.  You think after seeing 2,100 new photos, ISIS will be like, oh, no problem, it doesn’t change a thing…different time…different people.

It’s important to understand that you can’t argue with crazy people.  The rules of reason cannot apply.  And every normal functioning person has something they are crazy about–try converting a democrat to republican, or a Christian to Islam…resolve science and religion, Palestine and Israel.  Convince the Pope that birth control is A-OK.  Or simply, persuade a vegan to start eating meat.  There are plenty of more intelligent and accomplished people than you and I, on both sides.

The torture at Abu Ghraib–it’s disgusting, revolting, and people must be held accountable.  Maybe the ACLU and the Department of Defense can stipulate to the contents.  Maybe some of the greatest minds and humanitarians out there can figure something out.  Want to protect our troops?  American lives?  Bask in the warmth of the Freedom of Information Act another time.  You don’t have to be president to help win this war (ok, it hasn’t officially been declared but whatever).  Tone down the entitlement.  As if in another country you could find things like the FOIA or a little thing called the Bill of Rights.  Wait, you know of such country?  Well don’t waste time telling me about it.  Move there.

Google will show you the photos already public–the images of abuse, torture, rape, and murder.  Abu Ghraib is not a secret.  Tell me even 1 more photo like this will not endanger American lives.

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Every situation is different, even if imperceptibly.  This isn’t about a media black out or preventing ISIS from having veto power over what we see or don’t.  It’s about doing the right thing.

Rant over,

BTB

PS Oh, and if you want to crap all over my point of view, that’s fine too.  I would be crazy to argue with you about it.  According to Albert Einstein: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results = INSANITY.

Thought of the Day: Suing the President is Such a Good Idea, Said No One Ever

It’s official.  The House of Representatives has voted that Speaker John Boehner (not to be confused with sext offender, former US Representative Anthony Weiner) can sue President Obama.  Although Boehner asserts “[t]his isn’t about Republicans and Democrats…,” he is, of course, wrong.  The 225-201 vote on Wednesday was down party lines.  Only 5 Republicans had the sense to side with the Dems.

Speaker John "Side-Eye" Bohner and President Obama

House Speaker “Side-Eye” Boehner & President “Stop Hating All the Time” Obama

This particular hot mess is over executive orders, essentially where the president writes something down that has the force of the law.  Roosevelt issued 3,522 orders and George W. Bush issued 291.  Obama is at 183, which is actually fewer per year than any president since Grover Cleveland in the late 80s.  Hey Congress, you gridlocked?  How about a little executive order in your face?  Republicans are not on board with any of it.  Some orders, such as the negotiating with terrorists one, are toughies.  However, Republicans are focusing on the President’s “unilateral changes to the Affordable Care Act, known (now ironically) as Obamacare.”

Republicans, I get it, you’re caught up in the moment.  With a country so divided, it’s tough to jump off the party boat.  But, you’re losing me on this whole Obama is bad enough to sue but not bad enough to impeach action plan (uh but I also don’t think you should impeach Obama).  What are you hoping to happen?  That Obama learns his lesson and stops making executive orders?  Spoiler alert: he won’t.  And hold up.  Does Obama’s salary come from taxpayer money?  Are you using my money to sue me for more of my money?  #wtf.

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Setting aside any opinion about the war in Gaza (pray for #peaceinthemiddleeast), I’m going to offer a solid quote by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu “…a society is tested not by the extreme fringes of that society, but how it takes care of them.”  To clarify, moving towards the fringes is frowned upon.

Republicans, your move to sue Obama, real fringy.  FYI–when people call you fanatics and/or fringy, it is not a compliment and it is not because they are jealous of you.  Our President isn’t perfect.  He is, after all, just a man.  But 99% of you are probably lawyers or have sued someone or have been sued.  Or at least read the news or watch TV.  You know how much money and time lawsuits consume.  Appeal the orders, negotiate, there are other options–we’ve resolved more and less serious issues without this lukewarm resource-wasting lawsuit junk.

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Especially with everything going on in the world, you’re doing exactly what you are trying to prevent.  When thinking about the oaths you took–57% of Americans do not agree with what you are doing–and this is something totally in your control.  It’s hard to believe that at any time in the future, any one will look back to reflect, wow, that move to sue President Obama…really outstanding, so tremendous.  Think about that Republicans.  You can still do the right thing.

#dotherightthing,

BTB

P.S. To cheer you up….a mom took the most adorable photos of her 10-month-old baby and their rescue dog:

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