Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The great pretender

Did you watch Mr. Trump's address to Congress last night? I saw but a scant few minutes.

I did not watch or listen to most of his speech--and I wouldn't have listened to any if I had not needed to see the severe weather warnings scrolling across the bottom of my TV screen (my hometown was in a tornado warning at the time). 

My impression of what I heard? If I wanted to take the easy road, I would say he seemed more residential than in any time since he assumed office, but I am not so easily fooled. He certainly did a good job of pretending.

Again and again, he said all the right things and meaning none of them. How do I know that? He made so many claims of what he planned to do and in the short time since his inauguration did just the opposite. Drain the swamp, he said. Hardly. I think he meant the septic tank.

He has and surely will contradict his previous promises. Yes, I know, a lot--heck, most politicians do that. It's called pandering and man, did he serve up a deep dish of cheese last night. In any case, I needed my wading boots while reading his speech today.

A family member, someone who I respect, but rarely agree with, told me last night I need to give him a chance and that sometimes if we elect the wrong man (or woman), we'll get the chance to correct things four years down the road.

Thing is, what damage can this man and his political comrades unleash in four years? I shudder to think. If the GOP has their way, they are going to wreck everything just to appease their corporate masters and to the rest of us, screw you!

There is an old maxim that respect is not given but earned. Resident Trump has not yet crossed that chasm in my book.

Let's not mince words. I don't like Mr. Trump. I don't believe a word he says. I don't respect him. As such, he is merely the man occupying the Oval Office, but he has done absolutely nothing to deserve that honor (The same goes for Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. None of these men have shown me that they share one concern for the people they claim to represent).

With no disrespect intended to Jackson Browne, he is the great pretender. I pray we don't suffer for it.

Another friend told me to knock it off by calling him "not my president." Sorry dear, but you do not get to tell me who shares my values AND this man definitely does not share mine. How could a man whose home is adorned with gold covering almost every inch? What can he and his billionaire cronies possibly know about you or me?

So I ask the question again, did Mr. Trump look presidential last night? Does it matter? He sure did a good job of pretending to look and sound like it. His supporters will lap it up with oohs and ahs, he's our savior. The press, still embarrassed that they built him up, will scramble to say he did, all the while he has yet to prove he has one single iota, one single shred of empathy for the average American...

For the foreseeable future, RESIST is my mantra.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Subversion in plain view

I'm not paranoid. Normally, that is. But I tell you we must stay aware, stay focused. I think our government--without mincing words, the GOP--is up to something. In the 10 past days, announcement after announcement has been made, multiple rushed hearings, and with more than 17 executive orders issued, and I tell you something is up.

And to be frank, I do not like it.

Operations in the Capitol are happening with lightning speed and you can definitely see how the GOP slowed things down to a snail's pace during the past eight years.

With each passing day, the Republicans' movements have been eliciting reactions that moved many of us to outrage to "now what?" And to "again?" and if we're not careful, indifference. I swear, the government, again the GOP, is planning on sneaking things through while no one is watching.

Don't believe me? In the past two weeks, the GOP tried to sneak a bill through late at night that would have limited the powers of the oversight watchdog committee while they thought no one would notice.... and they got their hands smacked for it.

But mind you, the party of no, who practice the maxim of "tell a lie often enough, and it becomes the truth," are up to no good.

The party who found 50 some odd ways to attempt to repeal the ACA is now sitting on the perch salivating as they pull the rug out from millions of Americans, leaving them without health care. 

"Trust us," they say. "We have a plan, but no details." This sounds suspiciously like a move right out of Donald Trump's playbook.

And they are hoping you and I are not watching what they are doing.

It seems DT and the rest of the GOP seem intent on digging a hole deeper one shovel load at a time, I am wondering how long the Not My President is going to be the Resident of the United States? Or if the party will go too far and alienate the American people. And I
find myself hoping, not long.

We must keep our eye on the ball. Our freedoms depend upon it.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a change

I know many friends who do not call themselves Democrats... or Republicans. There are many who say that neither party is any different than the other. For the most part, I disagree with that assessment.

BUT one thing that is apparent AND vital if the Democratic Party is going to gain ground after the 2016 elections, changes are are essential,,, imperative even.

We Democrats MUST prove we are different. We MUST hold the Republicans accountable for the policies and wholesale changes they are working so feverishly (in the dark of night even) to implement. 

We MUST get lobbyists' hands out of our pockets. Yes, I know that sound idealistic. We all know politics is not cheap.

We MUST build a unified message and stick to it. If we are to prove we are the party of the people, especially those who are in need the most, we must show them that. 

We MUST not let the Republicans divide us. And when the Republican policies hit the sh** fan as we know they will, we MUST not let them divert attention or blame us for their stupidity. 

Obviously, the Democratic Party has not done a good job getting our message out, but we MUST prove to the American people we are better. We must build a party that has roots, not only on the east and west coasts but the center of our country too.

My friend Matt says we must get as down and dirty as they have. One thing is certain, we cannot always play nice, but even when not, we MUST hold the moral high ground (you know, when they go low, we go high). Matt would say being nice has done nothing to promote our cause. He feels getting in their face is the only answer. Usually, I am a bit more pragmatic, but in this case, I wonder if Matt is not right? And I think he is.

That's a lot of ifs and we MUST start looking at the lower end of government appointees. We Democrats have gotten caught with our pants down all the while the GOP quietly took control of our school boards, our local city and county offices and our statehouses. It is going to take a long time to get ourselves back on equal ground. 

My hometown's mayor, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, is a candidate to serve as the Democratic National Committee chair. Mayor Pete is young, focused, charismatic, smart and very perceptive. The DNC would be well served to elect him. He has been a godsend to our city and has a lot of ideas to rebuild the party.

They always say change is hard. This is true even for political parties and completing these tasks is not going to be easy. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Cutting their throats

Today the N.Y. Times ran the article "Why rural America voted for Trump." Illuminating, disturbing, disheartening are three words I would use about rural attitudes.

From the article: "People in red counties resent the attention cities get - and [they] don't care for liberals."

My first reaction is we don't like them much either. From our viewpoint, they'd rather cut their own throats than accept any views differing from their own. But that is my first reaction. I don't like saying I do not like someone. I really don't. 

BUT I do not understand the "convicts." I jest about the nickname. Sort of. I look at one my brother's Facebook page and the word libtard is hurled around dozens of times. The venom is staggering.

To be honest, I cannot visit his page for all the bile. I suppose he might view my bleeding heart liberal stances just as offensive.

Second reaction: reading that sentence from the article, and I cannot help to detect an element of jealousy.

If the article is correct and rural folk think we city denizens get all the attention, they surely must know that their attitudes drove a large number of us to cities they claim to hold in contempt.

I know many conservatives think liberals are stupid. Just like many liberals think their opposites are backwater and ignorant. Do I think that? I'll be honest, some of them, I do.

It appears to me, that neither side wants to get to know each other AND listen to one another. It's easy to dismiss the other side; it's easy to dismiss minorities; it's easy to dismiss gays, lesbians, it's easy to dismiss Muslims; it's easy to dismiss lowly women; it's easy to dismiss [fill in blank] because no one is willing to get to know those they disagree with.

THAT is why we are in this boat we are in in Washington.

Bob Dole, not a man I have the greatest love for (but I do respect--at least before he endorsed the great divider, the Donald), once said something that pretty accurately describes the climate in Washington. He said in his day in Congress, members of both parties thrust and parried against the other side and when the day was done, they went out and had drinks, dined together, worked out at gyms together. He continued by saying none of that happens in DC anymore.

So we are polarized. We don't know one another. We don't trust one another. We don't hang out together. We don't talk. We don't listen. Which makes it so damned easy to say, "I don't like you."

Sad thing is: As a gay man, demonize me all you want, but I work. I pay my taxes. I pay my bills. I struggle to get ahead, just like a whole lot of us Americans, AND I put on my trousers one leg at a time. Just LIKE my conservative brothers and sisters do.

So until this happens. Democrats will be dismissive of Republicans. Republicans will do everything they can do to smack down members of my party. Conservatives will call us libtards (which, as I said is probably my brothers favorite insult) and liberals will view conservatives as dumb rednecks.

AND nothing will get done. Ever. We'll spin our wheels. We'll deny a President his chance to appoint a Supreme Court Justice and the new resident-elect will most likely find a Democratic Party taking the same tact that the GOP did with President Obama.

One conservative Navy Senior Chief with whom I have the utmost respect and I talk constantly. He has pointed out on numerous occasions that both parties treat (or mistreat) the others much like the old childish chant "you started it." We disagree often. We talk often but I think we have a golden rule. We LISTEN to one another.

Both conservatives and liberals... and let's not forget the moderates who are punished by both sides for straddling the fence... I believe want the same thing. We want security. We want peace. We want the best for our children and families and friends. We rarely agree on the means "of getting there," though.

My brothers went out of their way to torment me about the election. One wanted to tag my page, mentioning I felt butthurt (his words); another said they'd miss me at family gathers; another threatened to disown me. Odd thing is, my conservative Navy friends went out of their way to console me, even though they were happy with their candidate/party's victory.

The difference? I hate to admit it, but I am not close to my family. My Navy colleagues practice a long-held maxim: We in the Navy ARE family (I imagine the other services act accordingly). We may disagree but we respect each other and opinions are cherished.

When I mentioned to my brother Scott that Trump followers liked him because "he speaks his mind," I said I would appreciate if I was afforded the same courtesy. His response was he would if my opinions made any sense. Yeah, I just love the respect there.

THAT is why conservatives and liberals rarely get along. Even though we both harbors fears about the future, both sides would rather focus on differences and weakness and attack than work together.

While these are words I preach--believe me--I find them just as hard to practice.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

75 years

As much as we might like to think, we Sailors do not own Pearl Harbor. The attack, that is. But you might not know it when talking to any Sailor, past or present. We still take the attack to heart. We still shed tears at the thought of our brothers perishing in the attack. We cry when we see the photos and videos as the Arizona exploded in one huge hellish fireball.

If you didn't know (and I cannot imagine anyone not), today is the 75th anniversary of Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.

Today is a day we Sailors remember. We remember to never forget.

I think for the modern reader, especially those living in New York or Washington, D.C., Pearl Harbor serves as a reminder how vulnerable we all can be. It's personal.

This date in 1941, as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, said before Congress the following day, "a date that will live in infamy."

To Sailors, Pearl Harbor's "Battleship Row" is hallowed ground, and year after year, when December 7th nears, news sources reach out to the survivors and their families. Millions of tourists travel to Pearl Harbor to see, to experience and imagine what it was like to have been there that fateful day.

Each year, news teams travel to Hawaii to document the survivors who have gone to memorialize their lost shipmates whose lives were snuffed out that sunny Sunday morning all those years ago.

Each year, we listen to those tales from the men who were there.

Now, 75 years later those Sailors, Marines, and soldiers are an endangered species. Most, if not all, are now more than 90 years old and their numbers dwindle with each passing day. Each year, news crews find fewer men and women to interview. Soon enough, they will only live in our memories.

All those 75 years ago, we Americans received an unexpected wake-up call that thrust us into a war President Roosevelt sought to keep us out of (at least publicly). America's days as an isolationist nation had come to an end.

That surprise attack at Naval Station Pearl Harbor, Hickam Field, Wheeler Field, and Bellows Field temporarily left our Pacific fleet crippled. Nearly 2,500 Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Soldiers were left dead, another 1,178 troops wounded.

Until 7:48 that morning, America sat in an uneasy state of peace, unaware that the Japanese Navy was silently approaching Hawaii. Still, America got caught with its guard down.

By morning's end, the fleet was all but destroyed and nearly every warplane burned, bombed, before being able to fend off Japan's attack.

Remember Pearl Harbor" became the rallying cry leading more than 10 million men to enlist (or were drafted) into military service to fight in two war theaters (Europe and the Pacific). Because Japan so misjudged how America would react to this attack, their nation was led to near ruin.

While we remember those who died at Pearl Harbor, both military personnel and civilian alike, we cannot forget that 405,399 servicemembers died during World War II... and millions more worldwide.

Pearl Harbor remains the costliest attack (of loss of life) this nation has suffered. The attack forever shaped the role America plays in our world.

To this day, Pearl Harbor's allure draws Sailors like a magnet to steel. No Sailor stationed in Hawaii or one making a port of call has not found his or her way to stand on the deck of the USS Arizona Memorial, a solemn reminder of those we lost that day.

No Sailor worth his uniform has not toured the decks of USS Missouri. Berthed barely 300 yards away from the ship's bow, thousands of Sailors have also paid their respects to the honored dead at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, informally nicknamed the "Punchbowl."

Each year, the major TV networks pay respects to remember that day, that date in infamy. I doubt there is not a Sailor out there who watches those solemn reports and are not in tears. I know I find myself drawn to watch each story, each Sailor recalling where they were that fateful Sunday morning.

Today, when visiting Ford Island at Honolulu, visitors are ferried out to USS Arizona Memorial or USS Missouri (BB-63). 

I have often noted that the two ships define the war effort. The first chapter and the last, the beginning and the end.

So, today 75 years later, we honor and render our respects. We remember and we never forget.