Saturday, April 2, 2016

Be the friend they need

We (my colleagues at our Barnes & Noble) lost a very special young man this week. 20 is too damned young to leave this world. Needless to say, today was a hard day for us all.

Christian was loved by us all. Today we saw a loving community and those of us from our store who was present to say their goodbyes. Our managers worked very hard making sure that all who wanted to go to his viewing be afforded that opportunity. I thank them kindly.

Easily, more than 200 people (I would say, maybe 300) from his life made their way to say farewell.

As we looked at the photos of his life that lined the funeral home, we could see a smile in almost every picture... and I think that is how all of us in our store will remember Christian.

He was always smiling, had a soft ready laugh. He was a talented, funny young man whose presence lit the room... and he seemed to be a man with a bright future ahead of him. I often spoke with him about school and his hopes to join the Peace Corps.

Christian, you will be missed... and on a personal note, one that each of us should carry with us at all times. We are a very special family and if any of you know of someone who is suffering from what his pastor called "inner demons," please make sure your friend, your loved one, your coworker, knows that they are loved and not alone.

If only Christian could have seen all of us who came today. I wonder if it would have been enough.

In loving memory
Christian Turner
June 5, 1995 - March 26, 2106

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Let's have a three way

Historically, I have long resisted the notion that America needs to have a three-party government. Throughout history, our nation has flirted with this notion numerous times.

Over the course of the past 30 years, we have had the Green Party, the Independents, the Tea Party, etc. Ross Perot, anyone?

This election, thus far, has been rather contentious and some people believe this election may lead to a fracturing of the Republican Party (if not an implosion), something I would welcome with glee.

We have had the Populist Party, the Progressives, the Prohibition Party, Greenback Party, Jeffersonian Democrats. Perhaps the most striking example was the Bull Moose Progressive Party, a party that Theodore Roosevelt was a member of when his own party rejected him in the 1912 election.

In some circles, many people believe Ralph Nader's run on the Green Party ticket cost Al Gore, Jr., the 2000 election. I, for one, DO blame Nader for the asinine situation our country has been in since President Bush was handed the election.

My reason for questioning whether the U.S. should have a third party has become apparent since President Obama has taken office. Let's face it, our two-party political system is badly broken. Irretrievably so remains to be seen.

Stalemate. Obstruction. Tit-for-tat. I poke you in the eye, you poke mine. Seriously, our current leaders have ripped a page out of a Three Stooges movie.

Listen to Donald Trump and you'll hear a five-year old spoiled brat whining. "They did it first, They treated me badly." The only thing he has not yet said is, "Ma, he's looking at me (but he's come close)!"

If you listen closely to Sen. McConnell, when he said he would refuse to entertain President Obama's nominee to replace the late Justice Scalia, he went on to say "if the Democrats were in control, would they act any different?"

Probably not.

McConnell believes the people should choose, but didn't we do that when President Obama won the Presidency, not once but twice?

So, the question is, is it time for a three-party political system in America?

I'm not certain. It'd probably take us a decade to acclimate to it and one problem with a three-party system is that no one will have a majority. But it would force both parties to play nice with the third party (it's called sucking up) and then maybe, just maybe something would get done in Washington. Maybe.

Personally, I'd rather our two parties grow up and do their jobs, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

So, what do you think? Would our country be better off with a three party political system? And if so, what should it look like?

Monday, March 14, 2016

Bernie and Hillary

I am seeing a disturbing phenomenon occurring among we Democrats that is really leaving me disappointed in my fellow Democrats. Tonight and over the course of the past few weeks, I have seen some of the most vile comments in print made about Mrs. Clinton--and they're not coming from the Republicans. Oh sure, the Republicans are too, but those are to be expected. However, the ones from within my own party are troubling.

I have been pretty clear I am not stating a preference on which candidate for whom I intend to vote for in May. I also will not take sides NOR will I publicly make ugly statements about either candidate. I will not be a party to providing ammunition to the GOP come November.

If the two candidates make remarks about the other, that is between them and also to be expected. I have wonderful expectations of both and will be proud to vote for the party's candidate come November.

For the followers of both, I think it is great when we can find a candidate for which we can admire and campaign, but I would like to think we can do that by building up our candidates without tearing down the other.

I have noted that in the past few days when I have made comments about Mrs. Clinton, friends of mine who are Bernie supporters have swooped in en masse with remark after remark as if to convince me what an awful person Mrs. Clinton is. All I can say to that is, knock it off.

When it comes time for me to pull the proverbial lever in May (and November), I will make up my own mind, thank you.

Here's the thing, both Hillary and Bernie have baggage that can give the GOP a perfect opportunity to take the White House. To ignore that truth can invite disaster--and in spite of that, both are infinitely better candidates than any that the GOP have offered up.

That is my opinion and good luck to any who think they can alter that viewpoint.

Until then, I would like to think the members of my party would quit acting like Republicans. We'd sure better... there is too much at stake come November--and beyond.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Is it a Revolution?

Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been stressing that he is spearheading a revolution on behalf of the American people. Thing is, that is not going to happen in the White House, but it sure as hell NEEDS to happen in Congress.

Congress no longer is beholden to the voters--they haven't been, not for a long time now. When Congress is constantly out panhandling for money to finance their next campaign, how can we possibly be surprised that our laws are written by--and for and to benefit--their corporate masters?

Just look at how are laws are passed today. There is no such thing as partisanship anymore.

Riders are hidden away, tucked safely AND sneakily inside where Congress hopes no one will notice. One way to rectify this is giving the President line-item veto, but that is never ever going to happen.

Recently, Michigan legislators faced the prospects of rectifying a horrible injustice unleashed upon the citizens of Flint, Michigan (by the governor) AND instead, what did these brave Michigan state Republicans do? They passed a law outlawing sodomy and oral sex! Yes, children, that pressing need demanded immediate attention to save their state from oblivion.

And speaking of Flint's water crisis, when Governor Rick Snyder was summoned to Washington to testify about the situation, he declined.

I ask you, since when can a governor refuse a federal summons to stand before Congress? Believe me, if Congress was not packed with one party firmly in control, and that said governor was not of that same party, he (or she) would never have gotten away with this. Mind you, if Snyder were a Democrat, he would have been slapped with a contempt of congress citation--and why has he not yet resigned?

A dirty little secret in our town halls, state houses and in Washington is that today's legislation is largely written not by our elected leaders, but by rich corporations and their paid lobbyists.

Corporations write the bills with their interests in mind and hand it off to our leaders--be it on a local, state or national level--and the pretense of addressing our needs is done with a wink and a nod.

Recently, both Michigan and Indiana states legislators have worked to pass laws making it impossible for Tesla to establish dealerships in these two states. Who do you think pressed for such legislation? General Motors, that's who.

I guess GM can't stand the heat of competition, something the GOP claims to publicly encourage (bah!). One has to wonder how much money GM has given to our elected officials to see their bidding done.

Think of it this way. Imagine that Congress is Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown. With each election, we see our candidates (of both parties) dangling the hopes and prospects that they will act on our interests. Charlie Brown charges the football (our hopes) only to have his dreams dashed as Lucy yanks the ball away at the last second. This IS how Congress operates today, don't you know?

It is imperative we demand that lobbyists with their seemingly unlimited bankroll get out of Washington (and out of the courts, too).

Until this happens, change benefitting the common man is just a pipe dream. Bernie Sanders is right. A revolution is coming.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Can you hear me, Major Tom?

When I woke up this morning, I saw a blurb on a friend's page that David Bowie had died. I could hardly believe it. In fact, I thought it was one of those cruel celebrity death hoaxes and for a brief two seconds, dismissed it. After all, he had just released a new album last Friday and on his birthday, no less. BUT then I saw the breaking news email alerts from the New York Times, the Huffington Post, NBC News and CBS News, and my heart sank as it became apparent Bowie really had passed.

All day long those of us at work moped around as we mulled over the news. I know I was numb to it all. Before I helped Ben set up a "Life Remembered" display to honor him, I set aside a copy of his album "Blackstar," released just last Friday on Bowie's 69th birthday, for purchase. I'll be listening to it as soon as I think I can handle the emotions I know I will feel knowing of his passing.

I don't really know how to express this, but the man was more than just a hero to me. From the first time I heard his "ground control to Major Tom," to "Fame," I was hooked. His songs "Suffragette City, Fame, Space Oddity, Modern Love, Changes, Young Americans, Under Pressure (with Queen), Blue Jean, Let's Dance"... and so many more are all part of my life--and forever will be.

I will leave it to other artists to address his place in the entertainment world, but no one can doubt how he has influenced the music and film industry.

If you didn't think the man move to the scene, you would be right. Bowie didn't follow, he LED the scene! If he didn't pioneer glam, he sure took to the max. If he didn't pioneer character-persona driven music performances, he sure fine tuned it. And if you didn't think his personality crossed all lines, you obviously have never seen him sing Christmas songs with Bing Crosby.

Coming home from work today, NPR's Terry Gross was rerunning her 2002 interview with him. She obviously was in awe of him and was surprised when he said he didn't really enjoy doing live performances "in character," but he much preferred writing and recording, always moving forward.

I was surprised too. He made the appearance of performing look so effortlessly. I think one thing that made him so appealing is that he was never the same guy twice.

If music wasn't enough, he broke in the movie scene and took it by storm (more than 25 films and countless TV appearances). His performances included The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Hunger, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, The Prestige" and "Labyrinth."

I do not think it a stretch by any means by saying that David Bowie was to the music industry what Robin Williams was to Hollywood. Needless to say, his passing is a bitter pill to swallow.

I've always considered myself lucky. My son took me to see Bowie in concert (with Moby) for my birthday in 2002. It was one of the highlights of my life. It was an utterly fantastic performance and I am so glad Wes and I got to see them both.

David, Ziggy, and countless other personas, I--we--will miss you. There'll never be another you.