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Sunday, October 28, 2018

Can we try to "Make America Good Again"?

Far be it from me to lay claim to any special abilities to see into or predict the future. It's not like it was difficult to anticipate events of the past week (or indeed, all of the vitriol and atrocities spoken and committed by Trump supporters over the past 2 years).  Anyone with a pulse and two functioning brain cells could have foreseen this 36 months ago at the start of the campaign season, could have offered guarantees of the outcome if they'd only been paying attention and applied the smallest inkling of critical thought to the last presidential election. What we've seen in the last week, is the culmination of all that #DonTheCon campaigned for--to make anger, ignorance, and lies in defense of stupid white men the law of the land. Yep, that was the entire platform.
Image result for idiots
#MAGA "Morons are Governing America."

As I said, I can't claim to have any special skill in prognostication, but I did write about this way back in June 2018 HERE, about how our current #NotMyPresident "leader" and the GOP are creating homegrown terrorists. And HERE writing about the beginning of the end of the US as a beacon of freedom.

I just didn't go far enough in shouting out a warning about what was coming. Perhaps I was in denial--we'd never let the racism, hatred, bigotry, and discrimination get so bad in this country that we'd ever again see two black people hunted down and killed, as they'd been back in the civil rights era, would we? No! We'd never sit idly by while some maniac wound up his sycophants to such rabid heights that they'd attempt to murder political opponents. Of course not! Not in the USA. That sort of nonsense happens in third world countries, banana republicans, and Russia, but never here. And certainly, as the champions of freedom around the world, the country that charged in and liberated the concentration camps, freeing the Jews, gays, political dissidents, academics, and all the other thinking people that Hitler had to suppress and murder so he could continue to spread his evil and lies, we would NEVER allow persecution like that in our country; never allow attacks on and the murder of Jews in Synagogue. Not here.

Until now. Until the past 3 years---starting with people accepting this insane man as a viable candidate to the highest office in the land. Our slide down this slippery slope into the hell our country has become began with people making excuses. "Give him a chance." Despite there being zero evidence that he deserved a chance as he belligerently railed against and made fun of liberals, the media, the disabled, women and anyone and everyone not an old, white, conservative male. Those still holding out any defense of him by the time the election rolled around were delusional. There was no other possible reason to continue supporting him after the vile campaign he ran.

But some still did, and when he won, they offered, "The office will change him, he'll rise to the dignity of the position." Within days, he shouted down reporters doing their jobs, urged his crazy followers to attack those reporters (and indeed, anyone who questioned his propaganda), and blathered on about "fake news" each of the many times he was caught in a lie. By November 15, it was clear to everyone (again, everyone with the capacity for thought) that no, he isn't going to rise to the expectations of the office. He's lowering the bar for our country and the position to the least common denominator--his supporters.

As if "Pizza Gate" wasn't ridiculous and pitiable enough for every single person in the world to see what a lunatic was in that office. Didn't we all laugh and say, "no one could possibly be stupid enough to believe that!" But his followers did. One even charged in, single-handedly, rifle at the ready, to save the day. What sane person could believe such a preposterous and obvious fiction, much less act on it?

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Words to live by.

And yet, here we are. It's difficult to fathom how far we've sunk so quickly. Did the majority of the German citizenry feel like this in 1933? Had they spent the previous few years thinking "He'll change," or "Someone will do something about this"? Did they feel terror when they knew Hitler's  claim that communists were behind the explosion at the Reichstag was false? That it was just a means to an end, allowing him to easily manipulate a willing legislature--through fear and promises of "greatness again"--into turn over power to him and the Nazi party? Did they feel a terror similar to what so many of us here and now feel when similar claims--"it was the liberals," "it's the democrats"--echo from the mouths of lunatics like Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and anyone at Fox News? They spew their blatant lies, misinformation, and innuendo, casting blame and aspersions on those of us who are mortified by these events, those who are targeted by the GOP's new brand of "nationalist" nuts, decrying as victims the criminals behind these attacks.

Let me state this in no uncertain terms: every single one of these acts was perpetrated by a Trump supporter, by "nationalists" like Trump proudly proclaimed himself to be just a week ago. That's what the EVIDENCE and FACTS--and even the words of the perpetrators themselves show. Yet, there are those who will still believe the conspiracy theories spewed by the propaganda machine that the White House has become because it feeds their anger and justifies their violence and hatred of their fellow human beings.

Will we, the people, act in time--in mere DAYS--to save our country from them?

I certainly hope so.

Until then...as I've asked in astonishment many times before: How can anyone still support or defend this immoral, lying narcissistic lunatic? While each time I've asked in the past, I've been amazed and disgusted to hear people still suggesting he and his supporters deserve the benefit of the doubt, this time, there is no doubt. If you still support this man, this party, and this direction for our country, you are not a good person. You are an evil, mean, despicable person with a black heart and soul. You can no longer hide behind the shield of "voting for my beliefs." Your beliefs are clear and what you believe in is being a spiteful, violent bigot. Your vote shows what you believe, and it's ugly. It's shameful.

I will never again underestimate the depths of ignorance and hatred rampant in this country.

Perhaps in the upcoming midterm election and in the next presidential election, we should elect a leader who wants to "Make America Think Again." I'd even he happy with someone who wants to make America GOOD. It would be lovely if we could live the way we perceive ourselves to be, as we break our own arms patting ourselves on the backs for being "God-fearing" and a "Christian" nation. How about we get back to just not going out of our way to hurt anyone and every who doesn't look like us? How about we at least stop proudly striving to be idiots?


Monday, July 9, 2018

It's BAAA--AAACCCCKKK

What do hurricanes have to do with Kentucky? Find out in my essay, "Searching for Kentucky After the Storm" up at Sunlight Press.

It's Back! Hurricane Season, that is. Time (well, past time, actually) to start thinking about those things we all meant to do, promised we'd do, had every intention of doing as the storms were barreling at and over us last year. You know the list: buy and install hurricane shutters; get a tune-up for the generator; get solar panels; have the trees pruned and remove damaged trees; clear leaf litter from the drainage ditch in the front yard.

Barnacle Bills after Hurricane Klaus (1984). Alas, it didn't survive Marilyn (1995).

Expert procrastinator that I am, I haven't done those things yet. I'd better get a move on because Hurricane Season 2018 is upon us.

As always, hurricane season puts me in a reflective mood. I used to be able to rattle off the names of the 11 hurricanes and tropical storms I've been through, but with time, the order and names are getting fuzzy. The lesser storms get forgotten. Those storms that became minor inconveniences in the larger scheme of things fade. A few days of candlelight, rerouting around flooded streets, work, schools, and businesses shut down for a few days. Then life goes on.

Crown Bay Marina, post-Marilyn, 1995. (Where some nice crew on a megayacht let me
use their satellite phone to call my mother and assure her I was safe.)

It's the big impact storms that are never forgotten. The ones that leave us without power and phone for months. Those that rip the roof off the house like it's a toy. Those that leave body counts. Marilyn. Georges. Maria.

Even from those storms, eventually, recovery does become recovered. Sunlight Press has published my personal essay Searching for Kentucky, about that process of going from recovery to recovered after hurricane Marilyn in the US Virgin Islands. I hope you'll stop by their site to give it a read.

Along the same lines, this poem, "Hurricane," by Mary Oliver, captures a similar sentiment on her hurricane and recovery experience in 2017's Hurricane Harvey.

One for the "great minds" category: once we were able to make it from our houses to town after Marilyn (1995)
my bestie Julie and I pulled into the parking lot in FrenchTown at the same time. We're pointing to our miraculously unscathed vehicles, and drinking tepid beer from Cafe Normandy, where they were trying to drink all the stock from the coolers before they got too warm.

Finally, please don't forget that although we're now in the 2018 Hurricane Season, there are still a lot of recovery efforts going on throughout the Caribbean. Here are some links to some worthy organizations that could use a hand. Please consider making a donation to one of these.

In the US VIRGIN ISLANDS

Humane Society of St. Thomas helps to rescue, care for, and find homes for stray and abandoned animals on St. Thomas.

Animal Care Center of St. John was destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, but are still working to help the animals of St. John as they rebuild.

St. Croix Animal Welfare Center was also destroyed by Hurricane Maria but is in the process of rebuilding.

In PUERTO RICO

Defensa Animal de Rincon is a Puerto Rico nonprofit working to help the dogs, cats, and horses on the island. It is 100% funded through donations.

Second Chance Animal Rescue of Puerto Rico is a nonprofit that rescues, rehabilitates, and finds homes for abandoned and abused dogs rescued from the streets of PR.

And this blog post at The Conscious Cat lists some other organizations that are working to help the animal population affected by Hurricane Maria in PR.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

How to Grow Future Terrorists 101


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Over the past 17 months, the world has been astonished as it watches the slow and complete unmasking of the United States. The administration, elected by the American people--although not by the majority of them--has revealed the dark underbelly that the country has always kept hidden behind flags, Bibles, soaring eagles, and amber waves of grain. Yes, the PR image of wholesome goodness and morality that the country so proudly showed the rest of the world has been revealed for what it is: smoke and mirrors.


Somehow, through a history that includes the genocide of native Americans, the brutality and immoral centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, the KKK, setting up violent puppet dictatorships in the Caribbean and Central America, and a host of other embarrassments, we've managed to maintain our reputation as the world's beacon of freedom and morality. Stepping in at the last minute to help win the "war to end all wars" and the one after that does have some redeeming value and makes up for a lot of poor choices. Everyone needs a second chance to make-up for errors in judgment and save their reputation.

Can we ever recover from the egregious errors of the past 17 months, though? In that time, conservatives on the right who have made a platform of "family values" and won support by pointing out the moral failings of their opponents have: decided that extramarital affairs are ok, as long as you ask for forgiveness, or continue to deny wrongdoing. Unless you're a Democrat. Just talk that contradiction away by saying, "But Bill Clinton LIED. That's what we were so mad about." Or not. They'll even embrace lying about those illicit affairs, as long as it's the right person doing the lying. Isn't that a far cry from he hell-storm of self-righteous fury we saw from that party in the 90s, as they fiercely and persistently went after Clinton (while turning a blind-eye to Newt, Limbaugh, and so many others' dalliances)? But be careful, they'll also turn on you like rabid dogs if you find that you draw the line at lying and step up to call out further wrong doing within the party, as Mark Sanford just found out

If you're keeping count, so far, here are the things the GOP has revealed it stands for--embraces--now that their leader has said, through his actions and words that they no longer have to hide behind some cloak of morality. In the past 17 months, we've witnessed the party's true positions that all of these things are AOK (at least for the GOP): extramarital affairs; lying; pussy-grabbing; lying; making fun of the disabled and elderly; getting other people to lie for you (I'm looking at you, Sarah Sanders); nepotism; the KKK; hate-groups; slavery; lying; dictators; human rights violations; and, lying.

Now, because I guess below-rock-bottom isn't deep enough for the GOP to sink, they've started shoveling: taking children and infants from their parents and putting them into concentration camps, er, "tender age shelters" while they prosecute their parents. Where the guards, keepers, handlers, babysitters aren't allowed to touch, hold, or comfort the children. Not even to comfort a frightened and screaming toddler.

Slide 1 of 28: People who've been taken into custody related to cases of illegal entry into the United States, rest in one of the cages at a facility in McAllen, Texas, Sunday, June 17.
AP photo, from: https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/apnewsbreak-youngest-migrants-held-in-tender-age-shelters/ar-AAySDHH?li=BBnb7Kz

While the right contort themselves into bizarre arguments supporting the brutal policy ("the Bible says so"--seriously?  WTF is wrong with you people??!) Here's what the Bible says about immigrants: 

Leviticus 19:33-34 “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

Exodus 22:21 “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 23:9 “You shall not oppress a sojourner. You know the heart of a sojourner, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.



Thankfully, the Bible also tells there will be repercussions for the GOP and all their supporters:

Malachi 3:5 “Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.

Deuteronomy 27:19 “‘Cursed be anyone who perverts the justice due to the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’






Let me reiterate that last one from Deuteronomy: CURSED BE ANYONE WHO PERVERTS THE JUSTICE DUE TO THE SOJOURNER..." Here illegally or not, good people don't treat other people that way. A party that screams about "right-to-life" and the evils of abortion, but has no qualms about tearing children from parents' arms, mistreating children in this way, has no claim on ANY moral high road or any kind. EVER.

Remember when the US was attacked by terrorists from the Middle East and so many people, looking for answers to how anyone could justify such horrifying behavior using religion? How horrible the Koran and Islam are that their religion allows that. And it must allow it, because where's the outrage from the Muslims who don't support that kind of behavior? How do supposedly Godly people turn into terrorists?

Look in the mirror, conservatives. What the "good people" of the GOP, the good, God-fearing supporters of this administration and its policies are doing is no different from how the Taliban and ISIS use their religion to justify terrorist acts. Life in #DontheCon's America is like being in an episode of the Twilight Zone. We--the United States of America, former beacon of freedom, tolerance, and goodness--have become a nation led by a party of terrorists.

How are terrorists created? How could those young men from the middle-east have so callously and unconscionably attacked men, women, and children in New York. You're looking at it, watching it happen, as those children held in detention centers and (soon) tent cities in the desert, suffer trauma, separation, fear, and absolutely ZERO compassion from the people of this country. That will stay with those children. They won't grow up with a warm and fuzzy feeling about this country, but the first-hand knowledge of our reality. They won't flood the border because we're a beacon of hope. They'll flood the borders for revenge.

And THIS is how to grow a future terrorist.