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.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

My parents, birthdays and love

Last week on Thanksgiving Day was my Stepdad's birthday. He turned 74. Today is my Mom's 77th birthday. Happy birthday to then both.

And my Stepmom turns 71 on December 13. My two Moms are the most beautiful, giving women I know. Both are fiercely maternal and each would do anything for their children. Mom has six kids, my Stepmom has four. I have fantastic childhood memories of them both.

My Dad passed away when I was 27. He was 47. He would have been 79 on November 8th. 

I cannot imagine life without these four people. I love you all.

White House government slum housing


So the Donald is making noise, whining about being forced to live in that shack we all know as the White House.

Too low brow, I assume?

Oh. Wait, right. It is government housing, don't ya know? A black man lived in it after all.

So he wants to spend as much time as possible in Trump Tower. This, of course, means the Secret Service whose job it is to protect the new resident and his family will have to rent apartments in Trump Tower so they can be as close to them as possible.

I don't know how many of you have been in the White House. I have. It is beautiful, as it should be. The president's quarters are every bit as extravagant in which we would like for our President to reside. But evidently not good enough for the Donald.

Now, think about this for a minute. The man who has not paid a dime in income taxes for the past 20 years is going to charge the government for the right to protect him because it is too inconvenient, too low brow for him to live in the people's home, the one that has been good enough for every President since 1801. 

It has been estimated it will cost more than a million dollars a day to host Secret Service agents in the Trump Tower. So much for a smaller, more efficient, less costly government.

Way to go, voters. Ever classy. If only the Electoral College had enough of a conscience and courage to refuse to confirm the election results.

Come January I will still be saying "not my President." It sure is going to be a long four years.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

I got mine

Funny thing, a good deal of the Americans who elected the Donald did so with the thought and the hopes that as an outsider, he will bring about a new attitude in Washington. You were promised change. Be that it as it may, you can bet your salary that that is not what we are going to get.

You wanted an outsider? Yet the House of Representatives and the Senate was anything but a change. The changes we are in for are far from what the middle class wanted nor deserve. What we will see when the new Congress convenes is more of the same.

With the Republicans seemingly holding the cards in the White House, the House and the Senate, Paul Ryan and the rest of the GOP are salivating, giddy even, over the prospects of destroying Social Security, the only safety net that millions of Americans have. The GOP now will have the ability to severely impair Medicare and Medicaid... and of course, the Affordable Care Act. 

The question is, why? Why do this? Only someone who is blind cannot see that GOP plays slave to corporations, to the banks, to big oil and to we the people, we are remembered only as an afterthought come election season.

So the millions of Americans who previously had no access to adequate health care and then received it with the birth of the ACA, can now expect to be tossed out on their asses. The GOP made it plain from day one, and after 50 some attempts to destroy the program, that insuring millions of Americans was never their concern.

No one denies that the ACA is flawed. During the campaign season, Mrs. Clinton said the same, so did Senator Sanders. They had a plan to implement a fix. The GOP, on the other hand, have no plan... other than screw us all.

The party of small government never quite succeed at that. So many of them forget their roots.

Does anyone even remember that Paul Ryan's education was paid by his father's social security survivor benefits? Can you say "I got mine?"

Hypocrisy much?

Environmental law? The GOP has never met a coal power plant that they didn't like. During the eight years that President Obama has been in office there has been a concerted effort to develop new energy sources. Clean energy. Solar, wind, harness the ocean's waves and currents to generate electricity.

What does the GOP have to say about wind turbines? "They kill birds." Might I ask exactly what does coal dust spread far and wid by the winds do to the environment? And on a much larger scale? Let's not forget that coal dust also affects the health of millions of Americans... animals too.

The GOP has already made it plain that environmental protection laws will no longer fly. They plan to dramatically curtail the power of the EPA. In other words, the GOP is going to open the doors wide open to the oil, gas, natural gas, and coal lobbyists, "They're ba--ack!"

Yeah, Trump promised he was "going to drain the swamp." I guess lobbyists weren't part of that crowd. Special interests are going to rule once again.

You want clean water? Shall we forget that it was Republican Governor Rick Snyder that poisoned thousands of Flint, Michigan residents? And like all good Republicans, he has not faced a single charge... he probably will not either.

Each day we are hearing news of who is being considered for cabinet appointments in the Trump White House and the news gets worse with every passing day.

In the opening years of the President Obama administration, he often reluctantly mentioned the mess he inherited from Dubya's eight years. Ask and Republican and they would admonish the president to stop whining, stop laying the blame at President Bush's feet. 

Never mind that the party of no made up their mind on the day after Obama's election that they would drag their feet on every single thing President Obama suggested. Their plan? To make President Obama a one-term president.

Thankfully, President Obama did not play their game.

Now eight years later, come January, President Obama will be handing over the keys to the White House to a pretender, a con man and a cheat. Trump will inherit an America in dramatically better shape than the one President Obama assumed.

If Americans feel that things have not happened quickly enough, one should remind them that Rome was not rebuilt in a day.

Consider this: 15 million more Americans are now working than at the lows of the great recession our country has known in more than 80 years. 14 million Americans now have health care insurance who did not before. Detroit's auto industry still exists. Have people forgotten in the opening days of Obama's presidency the auto industry was on the verge of collapse.

Countless other wonderful things have happened in the past eight years, yet somehow the GOP masterfully painted a picture of gloom and doom, repeatedly painting a picture of gloom. Remembering that a lie told often must be the truth. 

It boggles the mind... and the heart.

So as we approach the January inauguration, President Obama is going to present the White House to a man undeserving, unprepared and most of all, unfit for highest office of the land.

President Obama is going to hand over a better America with the knowledge the GOP is going to do everything they can to destroy his legacy.

I'd like to think the American people are smarter than this, but then look who they elected two weeks ago and at the time of this writing, resident-elect Trump lost the popular vote by more than 1.3 million Americans. Try as he may to convince us otherwise, Trump received no mandate and the GOP has no right to destroy the good work President Obama accomplished these past eight years. 

So what can we expect from a Trump residency? Tax cuts proportionately larger for the rich. Less environmental regulation. Less regulatory oversight in business affairs. The GOP will try to pass legislation that will allow religious concerns to trump over personal rights and we should expect little help to the average middle class or poor American. Laws benefiting corporate interests with little regard to worker's right.

Remember how the Bush tax cuts to the rich would result in more jobs? Me either? In the waning days of Dubya's second term, malaise had set in the signs were on the wall. Unemployment was beginning to increase. The housing and banking debacle was a dam waiting to burst, and the promise of good jobs never materialized. 

And now the GOP wants us to forget those days. They want to revisit those failed policies. Believe me, change is coming, but not to the middle class--at least not change we can live with.

Get used to it, folks. The new trickle down economics is going to back soon enough and it's not going to be pretty. Mark my words, come mid-term elections in 2018, the American people will realize they have been duped. Hopefully, the GOP will not have destroyed the hard work of the masses.

But then, the GOP believes, if one closely scrutinized their actions, "I got mine (fuck you, now get out!)."

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Quacks like a duck

A recent internet article took we readers to task for relying on faux news sites. Problem is, some of these sites are so expert, so convincing, that it is difficult to discern the real from the fake.

Sites such as Occupy Democrats, Addicting Info, USUncut, Newslo, Blue Nation Review, and then the same type from the far right. 

They all have an agenda; they all have an audience, and they all want you to share their point of view. And they want you.

I have become concerned that too many of us are relying on false news sites in favor of the more traditional newsrags. I have been addressing this exact same article on my Facebook page over the course of the past few days. 

I used to frequent a number of the sites I listed above. I have backed off on trusting them big time. Why? Because after realizing I was being expertly duped and no one likes feeling that way, I decided to give these sites less credence.

As a former Navy journalist for 21 years, I should have known better. 

I have always prided myself for permitting differing point of views on my Facebook page and encourage intelligent discourse. Offer your side, but do so with tact and intelligence.

In recent times, I have gotten burned a number of times using articles from "news sites" that turned out to be false. One has to wonder if too many of us fell prey to this and became complacent in regards to the recent presidential election.

Bad on me for not verifying their stories, but ya know, if it is on the internet, you know, it must be true. I am fond of using the adage "if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it must be a duck."

On the internet, this adage can be further from the truth. What looks like the news, can all too often not be factual, but it is way too easy to write something, use quotes and give the appearance of "just the facts, ma'am."

These days, if you insist on using such sites, you can either: take your chances that every word they say is true, or use their sites selectively but verify the stories first. Sadly, this is becoming increasingly difficult.

We all look for news sites out there that share our point of view. And some of the sites on the list in the article are right down my alley, and I know for certain there are plenty out there for those of an opposing frame of mind.

My advice these days? Do your research. Sure, it's not as fast, in this day and age, it's so easy to "share" with the click of a button. I know, who wants to take the time? Who wants to spend the extra effort? Unless you want to wipe egg off your face, the answer should be "you do."

If extra effort takes time, so what? Slow down. If a news story is really the news, it will still be there after you've looked for some alternate reputable sources to verify. The old phrase "go ahead. I'll wait" nicely applies here.

I wholeheartedly endorse using the old tried and true news sources, ones that didn't appear overnight with the advent of internet news. I'm talking Newsweek, Time Magazine, the BBC, Aljazeera, the Guardian, the New York Times, NPR, PBS, CBS, NBC, ABC, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and even USA Today.

What about that damned liberal media? Hate to say it but for the most part, aside from MSNBC and Fox News, there really is no such thing.

News organizations are in the business of making money. Let's face it, Americans are not all that liberal (sadly). If all news organizations were a part of that liberal left wing agenda, and they presented all of their articles with that slant, they'd lose money after alienating the masses, their customers.

Sure, some of the news sites publish articles with a leftist slant, but for every left-ish article, I'd bet my meager salary that there are 8 more that have a conservative... or even *shudder* a middle of the road approach.

One of my brothers recently told me I should get my nose out of relying on CNN. I had to laugh as I do not have cable. I've been disgusted with CNN for quite some time. I find them nearly as objectionable as Fox News.

Are they slanted? I suppose so (most definitely MSNBC and Fox). Every site has an agenda, but the old-school news organizations didn't get where they are without some foundation in pursuing the truth (which seems to be increasingly harder to discern). 

Remember, these faux news sites' mission is to inflame the reader. Coerce. Influence. 

Another of my brothers is fond of saying, "look at the facts." Funny thing is, some facts are not facts; my facts are not your facts; etc. Any fact can be twisted to the way you want. 

All facts are just laying around waiting for a good spin doctor. Tell me you have not seen an event covered by both the Democrats and the Republicans. You can bet your life the stories they tell will not remotely resemble one another.

And if you want to go it alone and present your own opinion, I'd suggest you read. Read a lot... and then read some more... and not just everything that agrees with your point of view. If you want to come across intelligently, read things that challenge your point of view.

I work in a rather well known bookstore chain. Whenever I see someone buying an anti-full-in-the-blank book, I want to tell them I will not sell them that book unless they agree to buy one that posits the opposite (of course, that would get me fired). The funny thing is, if I were to follow my own advice, I guess that would mean I need to read some books from Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck, a proposition that even I find hard to stomach.

So my advice? Use the old school journalists. Verify, verify, verify. Don't assume. The old brick and mortar news sites have a duty to present the news responsibly. Let's face it, we know where they live. Can you say that about internet news?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

An Uncivil War?

So I get a text message tonight from one of my brothers (I have seven brothers so I'll let him remain nameless) that "my ass beat your bitch. ha ha."

Seriously? Can we be any more mature?

I just do not think my family understands how betrayed I feel by their vote for Trump. They act like this is all one big laugh. One big joke.

Yeah, funny. Why am I not laughing?

We now have a new resident-elect of the United States who told America he is going to appoint judges that will overturn gay marriage equality. He has a vice resident-elect who thinks it is okay to apply shock treatment to gay teens (maybe adults too) to "turn them straight." His VR-elect tried to pass laws here in Indiana that made it legal for businesses to discriminate against gay citizens.

Is it any stretch of the imagination to think that if marriage equality will be under attack, is job security also in further endangered?

AND my family thinks I should be happy, understanding even, for this man who is one of the least (if not the least) qualified presidents EVER... and to get there, he tapped into the anger, the intolerance, the bigotry, even misogyny of millions of Americans who ganged up together to vote for this horrible man.

Does this make me feel like my family cares one little bit about this family member? Even after a few comments to the contrary. Not really.

I'm sorry. But I am supremely disappointed in my family.

We have heard talk from politicians this week that we, as Americans, must work together to heal our differences. But how do we heal families torn apart by this man?

Saturday, November 12, 2016

When you wish upon a star

I made some comments on my Facebook page this morning that went like this:

"Do you remember when Rush Limbaugh and countless others said they couldn't wait for President Obama to fail?

I'll let that thought lay where my reminder sends you."

After saying that I want to make something clear about those comments. I do not in any way, shape or form wish a failure upon the Trump residency (sorry, I still cannot afford him that title that so many good men have earned). 

I do not wish to be construed as a cheerleader for doom. You see, I believe that a president's failure is America's as well. It is really too bad that Washington's politics during President Obama's two terms did not observe those same sentiments.

My comment was merely an effort to call out all the Republicans saying "stop being such a big baby" and "let's all get along."

And just where were these same Republicans the past eight years? And talk about playing nice? Don't even get me started....

All I can do is laugh at the utter, utter hypocrisy. Except this election still makes me want to cry.

That said, I predict that Resident Trump and the GOP are going to piss off the American people so badly by the time the midterms roll around in two short years that the Democrats will be derelict if they fail to take full advantage of GOP arrogance.

Just wait when all those throngs of angry voters realize when the GOP move to destroy Social Security and Medicare; when the GOP cuts the taxes of corporations and the rich but not the poor; when the GOP do nothing to bring jobs back to America. You think trickle down economics works? If so, I hope you enjoy golden showers.

Do evangelical Republicans recall being horrified when God let "that Kenyan, that horrible socialist Muslim and *gasp* black man" in the White House?

First off, God could care less who our President is and more to the point, if you prayed that God would put the right man in the Oval Office, and then President Obama was elected, not once but twice, would that not be a sign from God? Heaven forbid if you believe Satan was more powerful than God and let the anti-christ be elected.

Personally, I do not see how evangelicals will ever be able to forgive themselves for condoning Trump, the religious pretender; Trump, the thrice-married adulterer; Trump, the man who plans to turn this nation's back against those in need; and Trump, the cruel misogynist, xenophobe, homophobe (and more) into the White House. They regularly called President Obama the anti-christ.

Again, oh the hypocrisy, the irony, not to mention, SIN.

Imagine the anger when the voters who put him in the White House realize they've been duped by Trump, Pence and the rest of the sorry lot sitting in a Republican-led Congress. 

I'd love to laugh, but we, the pawns of Washington, are going to be the ones that suffer, of that you can be sure... Congress always finds a way to protect itself... at out detriment, I might add.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The horror

Last night, America as I thought I knew it, died.

It appears the fiasco in Britain earlier this year was a harbinger of today. Who would have thought we could jumped off the cliff with them?

I am sad how I misjudged the American people. I really thought, with all my heart, that intellect would win out. That people's moral outrage about the Donald's immoral behavior would give him a rebuke and send him packing back to his gold-plated towers.

I cannot even bring myself to write the words of who 'Murica elected last night. I just can't. I am hurt, and I feel wounded.

Evidently, America thinks it okay to vote for a President that:

is a misogynist, a sexual predator, anti-American worker, a tax evader, a military evader, an alleged rapist, a bigot, an opportunist of the absolute worst kind. How women could vote for him; how religious folk could vote for him; how any minorities could vote for him is soooooo beyond me. You have fucked us all.

If any of you who know me--claim to care for me, yet voted for Donald Trump, you have wounded me and those like me:

* Trump has said he will appoint judges that will undo the ACA putting in doubt the health of millions of Americans.

* Trump has said he will appoint judges that will repeal marriage equality laws, making millions of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people second class citizens yet again. AND if Trump feels this way about marriage laws, it is by no means a stretch to believe he will not protect us in the workplace as well.

* Trump has said he does not believe in the consequences of global warming and will change the laws that have been strengthened to protect our environment. If you live anywhere near a coal-powered plant, all I can say is, I am sorry. In the end, we all will suffer.

* Trump has said he cut taxes... but you can bet it won't be yours and mine.

* Trump talks of bringing back jobs to America. Why should you believe that knowing his product lines are NOT made here in America?

*Trump has talked about ending the status quo. hahahaha!

Not only will Trump have to prove himself to me as a President worthy of my respect, but those of you who voted for Trump now must prove YOURSELF to be worthy of my respect, my friendship, and my love because, if you voted for Trump, you have proven you do not care for me.

Most sadly of all, this applies to my family as well.

I can list all of the things now endangered by this man's election, but this is hard for me, It is personal. Mark my words, the Donald (nope, I cannot even say president-elect attached to his name) will bring this nation closer to ruin than in any time in our history.

I weep for America. I weep for us all.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Stronger Together

Tomorrow's the big day. After a brutal campaign, the end for the Donald (I hope) is near.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Influencing an election?

The past two weeks have become a nightmare for the Clinton campaign as they scramble to do damage control after FBI Director James Comey's little stunt a week ago. His announcement that the FBI has reopened its investigation of Mrs. Clinton's emails is sending ripples across the political scene and his actions have provided the Trump campaign a wedge that it already had without the director's assistance. 

Saying the word "thud" might be an understatement.

What should have been Clinton selling her vision for America has now become a campaign putting her, instead, on the defensive. 

So what is going to happen? Will Mrs. Clinton become President of the United States? I still think so...  but nothing is as certain as I had once hoped. 

Will James Comey survive? I think not. 

I do think the President is going to demand (privately or not) that Comey resign. If not, he will most assuredly be fired. I also believe that the blade will fall shortly after the election. Smartly so, says me. If the President acts before the election, he could definitely tilt an already contentious electorate.

Some are complaining that the President is attempting to influence the election. So?

Now, what some may call "influencing" is what we used to call campaigning (I still do). Campaigning for one's party. Campaigning for one's party candidate. Campaigning for one's colleague. Campaigning for one's friend. AND in President Obama's case, perhaps, he is campaigning for his legacy and campaigning for the party's vision of the future.

If Trump was not such a repugnant person, you can bet your bottom dollar that George Bush, Dick Cheney, and other high ranking GOP members would be out there campaigning for Trump. 

BUT any sensible Republican of conscience has vaguely said they support their party's candidate, but are nowhere to be seen in the same room with Donald Trump. If they really wanted anything to do with the man, don't you think they would be out there on the trail FOR him? But they're not.

Funny, none of them can bring themselves to even say his name. All I have heard from Republicans is, "I support the party's candidate." Not that they support Donald Trump. What the hell does that say to the American people? That they think he is slimy beyond reproach? They'd be right (in my opinion).

Now, about FBI director James Comey.

It is not his place to be trying to influence an election. It is not his place to be issuing generalized vague statements that are little more than innuendo. The Department of the Justice correctly said, "we do not make comments on undergoing investigations." Comey was advised NOT to make any statements about the department's investigation. 

He did so anyway.

IF Mrs. Clinton is found to have broken the law, and she may well have, it is for the Department of Justice to decide how to act AFTER the process is completed. Comey has shown disrespect to his title, to the FBI, Mrs, Clinton, to the President and to the American people by taking it upon himself to paint a picture before it is even complete.

He has shown a bias that is improper--maybe even illegal--for a law official. Point in hand, if he felt it proper to tar and feather Mrs. Clinton with innuendo (or maybe even the facts), why has he not also done the same to Donald Trump, who is also being investigated by the FBI?

Personally, I think what Comey did little better than what Edward Snowden did. Some may disagree with my assessment. So be it.

Whether Comey resigns or is fired, his days are numbered. If Mrs. Clinton is elected, and I still think she will be, she will definitely move to name her own director for the FBI. If Comey survives to the end of the Obama administration's end, I will be immensely surprised.

So again, I ask what is going to happen? Will Mrs. Clinton win the election next Tuesday? Will the Democrats survive this election? Will the Republicans finally come to their senses and start acting for the people (and not their corporate masters)? One thing I think is certain is this:

Comey must go!

The year of the Cubs. Finally!

For all the years; for all the tears; for all the chances the Cubs had to win in the past; for all the dashed hopes; for all the times we wept (cursed too) for bad plays and lost chances; this year has made it all worthwhile. Finally! After 108 years!

This was truly the Cubs' year! Game by game they won! They won their division. They played and overcame in the playoffs against other powerhouse teams. And still they kept on coming on. Perseverance! Talent! Good coaching! it all came together this year in a perfect storm.

For we Cub fans, this season was one of cheers, fears and finally exhilaration. What a year and what a way to end the season. The Cubs are very deserving of this title. And now I present, the Chicago Cubs, 2016 World Series Champions!

Harry Caray must be smiling, wherever he is!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Where are our families? Don't Ask--Don't Tell

This month is Gay History Month, and yesterday was National Coming Out Day. As always, this leaves me thinking of life in general, family and where "we" stand with those that mean--or should mean--something to us.

I read an article today about a man who died in an automobile accident in 1959 at the age of 24 and unbeknownst to his family, he was gay. After his death, a young man approached one of the young man's sisters and shared a truth that would become the family's dirty little secret.

As I poured through the words, I began to ask myself if things are all that much different 58 years later here and now in 2016? 

How many of our families don't "know" us? How many don't try or want to or are afraid to? 

I made a reference to this the last night when I spoke at our local Coming Out Day Stories event that some families, mine included, are quite expert at practicing something the military did for 20 years.... Don't Ask, Don't Tell.

Some families do not try. Worse, some gay family members are excised from their families when acceptance is nowhere to be found. One of my former students came out to his parents a few years back and in the aftermath, his parents have virtually cut him out of their lives. 

You have probably heard the phrase "it's complicated" yet when it concerns families, why must this be the case?

The title of this article "The Uncle I Never Met" hit me rather hard. I often think my nieces and nephews--even my brothers and sisters--merely know me as their brother, their uncle, a long-time bachelor, the guy who visits during the holidays but know little else about my life. 

I often think I'm the man my family has never met. 

I once mentioned (a few years back) in a conversation with my brother Scott that not once in the 30 years + since I came out has the family ever asked, "hey, you seeing anyone?" or anything else that remotely approaches a personal question.

And it is not that I have ever felt unwelcome. Far from it, but what I have felt is not included or that we put on the white gloves when we talk. I have always felt family members only ask what they want to know, pulling pack just shy of anything important... you know, it's the usual "how's work? how's your car running?" That sort of thing. 

If my family feels uncomfortable inquiring about my life, they've, in turn, given me little cause to feel comfortable sharing in kind. I suppose this is the proverbial quandary "which came first? The chicken or the egg?" 

Some members of my family have not once visited my home where I have lived for 20 years. Surprisingly--at least to me--I do not feel anger about this, just some sort of detached reticence about it all. Oddly enough, I don't feel that my family and I have a poor relationship. Instead, I feel that we barely have one at all.

I guess I don't feel anything, which in all honesty if I let myself dwell upon it, makes me sad. 

My son and my friends here in South Bend (and my Uncle Garry and his wife Martina) are the only ones who I feel a familial connection, but I do have to wonder: Is this unusual? Is this how other families live their lives? I know I would certainly like it to be more than it is. 

My son Wes often jokes with me about an event that happened close to 20 years ago when my brother Bryan, on a number of occasions, asked me to move back to Rochester (our hometown) to teach and to be closer to the family. I've always said no, that I didn't wish to live in a small community where prying, judgmental eyes are too privy to my life, where everybody knows everything about you whether you want them to--or not. 

Gay people, born and raised in small towns, for decades, know the hows and the whys they flee their hometowns for larger communities. 

Yesterday at the Coming Out Stories night, roughly a dozen people (myself included) recounted their recollections of coming out. It struck me that even after all the inroads the gay community has made since I came out in 1982, people today still experience a great deal of trepidation when seeking their family's love and acceptance. Why is it we find acceptance from our friends far easier than we do our families? 

For the author of this moving piece (this article can be found at yesterday's The Huffington Post), broaching the subject just was not possible in 1959, so why is it so hard for some families to do in 2016? 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Debate number two, King Donald showed up minus any clothes

Tonight was the second debate between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump. Everyone who was watching was in suspense as to which Donald would show up for the night. A vengeful one? Contrite? Boastful?

Well, the answer came within seconds. Donald was on the attack from the word go, and it wasn't pretty. He was Donald at his worst. Interrupting, bombastic, lies, boasts, threats and nary an apology for his comments about... well, um, well, about pussy. He opened by saying he has apologized to his family and that the words he used "are not him." But what about us Americans?


Like Mrs. Clinton said, "Oh yes it is, Donald. Those words are you." Mrs. Clinton pointed out if this incident were just a one-time event, we could accept his contrition, but, again, as she pointed out this was but one more string of hateful words he has used.

Anyone who has decided who are they are going to vote for in 28 days probably saw nothing tonight to change their vote. 

Undecided voters, I suspect, are leaning more towards Mrs. Clinton in light of events unveiled on Friday and based on Donald's threats tonight. Yes, threats. Donald has seriously confused the role of a President. His threats to throw Mrs. Clinton in jail are more the rants of a dictator, and less of those of a president. 

But I want to address another subject. 

I keep hearing comments, "I don't like her."

So what? You don' have to. It is sad if you think running for President is merely a likability contest.

I realize charm and charisma is important when considering the recipient of your vote. BUT skill, knowledge, temperament, the ability to work with others, trust, experience all should play a far more important role in choosing a president. Mrs. Clinton has these qualities in spades.

I will, however, grant Mrs. Clinton has a number of shortcomings, but I am still waiting for someone to show me Donald possesses any of the things that would make him a good president. 

Hillary is not Bill... nor does she need to be. Personally, I think she has the abilities to run rings around Bill when it comes to being President. Yes, Bill.

You may not like Hillary, but her qualifications far outweigh her negatives. Sometimes you have to weigh the plusses and negatives and come to a conclusion that you, the voter, will have to live with.

I can be critical of Mrs. Clinton too. Sometimes she just cannot answer a question with forthright candor. Her response regarding her private versus public opinion was lame beyond words. At times, I think Hillary does not know how to answer succinctly without offering too much information. Sometimes, a simple 'yes' or 'no' will suffice.

Donald's performance tonight showed me nothing that would indicate he has any of the above-mentioned qualities that would qualify him to be the leader of this country. If you do, please enlighten me.

When Hillary wasn't having to respond to Donald's lies about her tonight, she did a pretty credible job presenting her vision for our future. Given the format of tonight's debates and the time constraints, neither candidate could devote much time to really address the issues.

Given more time, Hillary could have said more, offered more. Given more time, Donald would still have squandered his (when he wasn't complaining that the moderators were treating him unfairly) blathering on and on about himself and repeating more of his delusions about the Clintons and the failings of our country.

Problem is, Donald doesn't believe a word of what he says and he's hoping you do. Hillary, in contrast, may not believe everything she says, but she has the skills to affect a change for the better.

Look at the competing messages. Donald is running on the belief that America's days are waning. Hillary's, in contrast, are of hope and working together to make things even better.

You may not like Mrs. Clinton, but you don't have to. What you do have to do is this: your vote should go to the candidate who can do the most good for the most people. 

In the end, it is your conscience you have to wrestle with.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Let's go forward

I'm With Her

I had a very interesting conversation tonight with a Navy Chief with whom I used to serve. She was running a meme on her Facebook page that read "I am more disturbed by what Hillary has done than what Donald has said." 

The problem is we are not merely talking about Donald's words-- ugly as they all too often are--but his actions. 

His trail of dirty business dealings over four decades is pretty well documented. He has stiffed company after company who provided products and services in good faith. His behaviors are unconscionable. 

The list of his misdeeds are well known, so forgive me if I do not cover them in great detail.

You can call Mrs. Clinton guarded; some would call her tactics questionable, and some would say she is an opportunist (show me a politician who is not), but there is absolutely no doubt that Trump's corruption is unparalleled. We cannot permit him the seat in the Oval Office.

I am still scratching my head that the Republicans couldn't come with someone better. It may be a fair assessment the Democrats could have done better as well (however, I believe Mrs. Clinton is eminently qualified to be President).

The chief mentioned how much the media loves Mrs. Clinton, something with which I vehemently disagree. Just two years ago, Mrs. Clinton, along with First Lady Obama, sat at the top of the most admired women's list. 

In that time, partially due to her lack of judgment regarding the usage of her email servers and yes, Benghazi, the press has done a pretty good job of putting her through the meat grinder. I find that the media has had a way of building up a candidate and then pulling out the rug.

Today, she polls hardly any better than Mr. Trump.

I will be the first to admit we have two troubling choices this election year. Mrs. Clinton has baggage. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, is wearing concrete boots.

I would have preferred Martin O'Mally and I know others would have preferred Bernie Sanders, but that is not how things played out. It appears we Americans like our drama laced with drama and that is what we got--in spades. 

Again, the Chief tried comparing Donald's tax woes to Clinton's, saying she is no different than Trump. She continued by denigrating the Clinton Foundation. 

Thing is, Mr. and Mrs. Clinton's tax returns are on public record, I believe more than 25 years worth. Trump's? Zilch. Donald recently stood before 84 million Americans and alluded that he is a "smart man" by not paying taxes, which, I guess, makes us average slobs pretty stupid.

The Clinton Foundation has done this world a great deal of good in many third world nations. Due to Clinton's commitments, HIV infections have greatly diminished in Africa and southeast Asia due to the foundation's efforts in getting life-saving drugs to the poor.

The Trump Foundation, in contrast, has been little more than a funnel for Donald's personal bank account, so much so, that in the past week more than 16 states have ordered the Trump Foundation to suspend operations due to questionable, if not illegal proceedings.

And Benghazi? I refuse to place blame for Benghazi at Mrs. Clinton's feet. When a child breaks your favorite vase, you don't blame anyone else but those who did it. The bloodthirsty animals who broke into the American compound are to blame for the carnage they unleashed and for the resulting deaths. 

If you would like to characterize it otherwise, fine. But think of this, if Mrs. Clinton was guilty of dereliction of duty as Secretary of State as the Republicans would like us to believe, where are the indictments? They spent more than eight million dollars trying to bring her down.

The Republicans dragged Hillary through the proverbial coals for more than three years. In the end, they could not find cause to charge nor arrest nor prosecute (but not from a lack of trying).

I don't know where the Chief had gotten the idea about our national debt doubling since President Obama took office, but considering that President Bush's Iraq-Afghan War was not paid for, is it any wonder our national debt has increased? 

From what I have found, the deficit has dropped dramatically and if the national debt is increasing, let's just say that is a fact of life that has existed ever since World War II. But oddly, I thought our conversation was about Clinton and Trump, not President Obama's administration. 

I have always found it amusing how when people have trouble defending their viewpoint, they resort to dragging in extraneous topics. It's called diversion. It's called deflecting the light. It's called changing the subject. I call it disingenuous. 

The Chief offered that Gary Johnson is her only viable choice for her vote. I would counter that neither Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are qualified to serve as president. 

Yes, I would rather we voters have two other candidates from which to choose, but that is not the cards we were dealt and to that, a large part of the blame falls at, we the voters, feet.

I offer this: When the current and last four former living Presidents have made it clear they oppose Donald Trump's election; when every major national newspaper (except for the well-regarded National Enquirer--yes folks, that was sarcasm) is endorsing Mrs. Clinton; when more than 30 high ranking Republicans just today announced they are voting for Mrs. Clinton; when Barbara Bush--and I am not certain, but I think Laura and their daughters have also lined up behind Mrs. Clinton as well, maybe a lot of people who harbor such ill-will toward her might want to examine their views. 

Or maybe, these aforementioned people cannot bring themselves to see a monster like Donald Trump elected. 

Here is a fact of life: we do not have to find our presidential candidates likable (it helps, but it is not prerequisite), but we DO have to find them qualified for the job.

While I respectfully give the Navy Chief her due, I totally disagree with her characterizations of Mrs. Clinton. In the end, however, what I cannot understand is how a Navy Chief, a female no less, can defend Trump's horrible behaviors which are completely contrary to the Navy Core Values we have espoused since the Navy began back in 1775.

No, Mrs. Clinton is not perfect, not by a long shot. Who is? But with 31 days out from the November election, our choices are Donald or Hillary. Personally, I find the choice pretty easy, if not a bit unsettling. 

To vote for Donald Trump is tantamount to turning your back on the Constitution, turning your back on veterans, and turning your back on this country's principles we have held dear for nearly three centuries.

No one who knows me will be surprised, but I'm with her.