Wednesday, February 7, 2018

You Can't Get There From Here

I am an American citizen of Mexican heritage, born at General Hospital in East Los Angeles, California.

My Father was born in Gallup, New Mexico to immigrant parents.

My Mother was born in Los Angeles, California to immigrant parents.

My Grandfather was born on the road somewhere between Mexico City and the US border in Texas.

My Grandmother was born in Gallup, New Mexico to immigrant parents.

Before my Grampa died at the age of 94 years young, he loved to tell a story about our family heritage that many relatives weren't sure was true, but he swore it was. 

According to Grampa, his parents decided to take a chance for a better life by WALKING from Mexico City to the Texas border while he was still in his Mom's belly.  Along the way he was born and his Father died, so when the clan arrived at the border, Mom was carrying newborn Grampa in her arms and had several other children in tow, all hoping to cross into The Promised Land.

There was only one problem: she arrived at the border without a husband, and therefore would not be allowed to cross into the US as a single Mom.

Her distress was noticed by a man also planning to cross over, so when he found out why she was being denied entry into the US, he offered to claim that he was her husband and the Father of her children.  She agreed, took his last name as her own and they crossed into the US of A successfully.  She decided to keep the last name of the man who helped her reach this country, a name my family still uses today.

Is this story true?  Several of my relatives state he told them the same story, and since we don't have any living relatives to refute or corroborate the tale, we gotta take it at face value as mostly true.

What I know for sure is this: I am borne of a family of immigrants who came to this country for the same reason most immigrants still do -- to find a better life, to do better for their families, to become something more than they could in their own country.

The story of immigrant aspirational movement is the same in 2018, only much more vital and (in some cases) desperate. The United States of America remains one of the most desirable places on Earth for people to aspire to live, and people from other countries continue to stream towards us via both legal and non-legal methods.

BTW, you will NEVER EVER catch me referring to undocumented immigrants as 'illegals' because even if an immigrant breaks laws to enter our country, that human being is still a legitimate human being and cannot be denigrated as 'illegal' simply because he/she broke a law. It's what refugees do. 

Being of Hispanic lineage gives me a unique viewpoint about our current national Conservative freak-out over non-legal MEXICAN immigration by those who would 'build that wall' or restrict legal immigration only to those we deem worthy. The funny part about the freak-out is that IT'S ALL BALONEY and the issue revolves almost exclusively around MEXICAN immigrants, although immigrants from other countries are also now being impacted.

A few factoids to consider:

1. The rate of undocumented immigrants crossing the border from Mexico has dramatically decreased over the past decade (Thanks, Obama!).  In fact, more Mexican Nationals left the USA in the years 2015 and 2016 than came into the country during that same period due to increased border patrol, stricter US hiring laws, violence in Northern Mexico and the Great Recession of 2007.

2.  Undocumented MEXICAN immigrants are responsible for FEWER crimes of any type than non-immigrants, across the board. If this fact shocks you, then you're not paying attention. Google it if you don't believe me.

3.  Undocumented MEXICAN immigrants pay lots of taxes in this country, and almost half of them pay Federal Income taxes even though they get none of the benefits of having paid those Fed taxes. Sales taxes, excise taxes, State taxes, gasoline taxes, property taxes... all gladly paid by undocumented immigrants who understand that taxes are the price we ALL pay for a civilized society.

4.  Undocumented MEXICAN immigrants do not 'steal' jobs from anyone. The people who employ them choose to GIVE them those jobs because they will work for less money, don't complain about working conditions, don't demand raises, don't demand vacation days or any of the myriad headaches typical 'Murrican employees cause their bosses.

5.  Undocumented MEXICAN immigrants are the hardest-working people you will ever meet.  They will gladly work one, two or even three different jobs at once because they understand and appreciate the benefits of working hard to get ahead in this country, even if they get paid shit wages and work shit hours and are treated like shit by their bosses who chose them to pay shit wages to because they will gladly work for shit wages that 'Murricans would never ever accept.

Honestly, it's not that hard to understand the plight of undocumented immigrants if you spend even a little bit of time thinking about how YOU would deal with the same issues they do, every single day.

Imagine that you have no documents to show that you're in this country legally, and how much that single fact will impact every aspect of your waking hours.

It would suck, right?

Every time you walk down the street... every time you drive to or from work... every time you stop at El Pollo Loco for dinner... every time you go shopping... every time you go out to visit your friends... you are a target for arrest and deportation, which will rip apart your life and separate your family and cause wrenching upheaval in every way.

Won't matter that you're a model citizen.

Won't matter that you work hard and pay every tax that's imposed on you.

Won't matter that you contribute your hard work and life's energy to making a better life for yourself and those you love.

You'd be branded as a criminal and forced to return to a country that holds no future for you.

Real World Story #1: on the way home from work one evening last Summer, I stopped at a well-known local eatery to pick up some awesome roast beef and pastrami sandwiches for dinner. I entered the drive-thru in my dirty hippie van, placed my order and rolled up to the service window.

I looked through the window and into the area behind the counter, the place a madhouse of activity involving food prep, packaging and serving for the crush of people lined up at the counter... and I noticed something.

Every single person I could see working inside were obviously Mexican (don't worry, I know these things), and they were RIPPING IT UP in order to keep up with the mad crush of hungry customers who'd lose their shit if they had to wait even a second longer than necessary to fill their pie holes with savory cured meat sammiches.

Those workers were hustling, shouting, spinning, cleaning, folding, packing, pouring, stuffing, grilling, stacking... all in a whirlwind of dinner rush frenzy... and they were all SMILING and laughing, obviously glad to be gainfully employed and making money among like-minded people with the same focus:  work hard and feed the customers.

Now, I watched this for all of 4 or 5 minutes while my order was being whipped up by those Hard Working Mexicans, and found myself filled with a combination of appreciation and gratitude and pride. When the (obvious) Manager came to the window with my food, I gave him my money and when he handed me the change I shook his hand and said:

"Thanks... you know what? You have a really great group of people working in there. You and your crew are truly what Makes America Great!"

He froze, looked me right in the eyes, grabbed my hand with both of his and shook it vigorously saying "THANK YOU, AMIGO... it means everything to me to hear you say that.  I wish more people would tell us that, but you just made my day!" Yes, his eyes got a little damp and his smile was YUUUUUUUGE.

His eyes and smile made MY day.

When I drive past the sprawling strawberry fields alongside the freeway and see the MEXICANS out there, working in the hot sun for slave wages for the benefit of the business owners, I feel humbled at my good fortune and silently thank each and every one of them for their efforts.

When I'm travelling and I meet the MEXICAN maids or MEXICAN gardeners or MEXICAN janitors in the hotel, I always stop and thank them personally for their hard work.  BTW, a great way to show your appreciation to the long-suffering maid is to dump all your pocket change into a glass and leave it as a tip each morning.  Believe me.. they remember when you do that.

When I'm walking through my client's six-story office building during one of many daily visits, you can bet your ass that I say 'HI' and acknowledge every single MEXICAN janitor and MEXICAN gardener that I meet. And every time I do, they smile wide and respond in kind and know that I appreciate them being there.

When I'm working on my yards and the truckloads of MEXICAN gardeners roll into the 'hood to start working on my neighbor's yards, I make a point of waving and smiling and offering my visual appreciation for how hard they work and their efforts to keep the area looking great.

When our Racist President demeans and degrades and belittles and vilifies hard-working, tax-paying, America-loving MEXICANS, he shows just how small-minded and ignorant he really is. He shows us all how easy it is for him, a pampered and entitled and wealthy White Male Master of the Universe, to spew hatred and bigotry and stupidity when he's never done a single hard day's work in his life.

Fuck that guy.

If your response to all this is 'Yeah... well, they're here illegally and broke the law, so deport them all!"... well fuck you, too.  No, really... I MEAN IT.

Real World Story #2:  in order to comply with the draconian rules of our Homeowner's Association regarding lawn maintenance, I needed to repair the front lawn irrigation, rip out some massive overgrown tree roots from the lawn and re-seed the grass, a big job. It was a recent Saturday morning and I'd started to chop away at the tree roots but soon discovered it was waaaay outta my league.

I remembered Rosalindo, the guy I'd hired last Summer to trim a bunch of overgrown trees, and contacted him to see if he could stop by and offer a quote. He said he'd be over after another job, so when he arrived around 1PM and provided a reasonable quote, I asked him "So when can you do this work?" He said 'Well, how about right now?" Once the CFO approved, it was ON.

Rosalindo had arrived with a young boy that I soon found out was his son and another older gent. Within 30 minutes, the broken sprinklers and pipes had been identified and the tree roots had been exposed.  Rosalindo and his son took off to buy parts and the other guy set to chopping out the tree roots... ALL of them. It took him over an hour but he removed those nasty roots and, within a few hours, they'd completed all the work.

I asked Rosalindo's son if he enjoyed working with his Dad and he said "Yes Sir... I hope someday to have my own gardening business so I can use what Dad has taught me so I can be successful and take care of my own family." Rosalindo is exactly the kind of role model every kid needs in his life. 

They arrived at 1PM, offered a good price, started work and were finished by 5PM. This was on a Saturday and I'd called him out of the blue, never expecting he'd be able to do the work right away. That's what I call dedication.

Rosalindo, his work ethic and being a great role model for his Son is what Makes America Great. His immigration status is literally of no consequence because his words and deeds define the kind of person he is, and why we should all be grateful he's chosen to live among us to raise his family... his AMERICAN family.

So the question I'm left with is this:  how do we resolve this issue of so many citizens hating on undocumented (Mexican) immigrants who actually DO Make America Great? I have a few ideas about that.

1. STOP THE HATING. This should be a no-brainer, but our national psyche has been so infected with bullshit racism and bigotry that people don't even think twice about hating on 'them damned illegals'. Every single one of us (with the notable exception of Native Americans) are immigrants or borne of immigrants. That reality doesn't change simply because someone is a few generations beyond that immigrant status. Ignorance of history is no excuse for ignorant racism.

2. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Unless you're a MAGA hat-wearing dumbass, try to educate yourself about the real situation around immigration reform and the challenges faced with enacting serious but empathetic changes to our current system.  Yes, our immigration system is broken, but it can be fixed if we choose to do so without all the hate and stupidity. There are people with selfish, self-serving and sinister goals who do not want to reform the immigration system. Those people suck.

3. TRY SOME EMPATHY ON FOR SIZE. Think about every service industry you rely on to get through your daily life. Every. Single. One. Then imagine that instead of all the 'illegals' doing those low-wage jobs, they're being done by you, your kids and Grandkids. It's a thought exercise that will totally mess with your head because once you place yourself in the same situation as the millions of undocumented immigrants whose efforts we take for granted, you might just view their plight in a different way.

4.  VOTE!!!!!! The reason we still have a broken immigration system is because politicians think we can be scared with bullshit stories about scary illegals raping our women and takin' our jerbs. We gotta stop being such sheep and being manipulated so easily. Pay attention, educate yourself on the subject and VOTE, BABY. 

I have no allusions about how this will all shake out, and I'm only one Born In East Los Angeles Mexican-American. But I know the facts, and I know where I stand: in support of every single human being who works hard, plays hard, loves life and loves others with verve and abandon. Let's work together to lift up everyone we can, no matter where they came from. 

Never forget: we're all Earthlings.

Lead image, gracias de; 'A Day Without A Mexican' video clip y The Youngbloods 'Get Together' music video, muchismas gracias de

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Distant Drummer

It was just supposed to be a visit to the museum… nothing more. But it became something more, purely by accident.

Oh sure, there’s lots of mind-numbing activities one could enjoy in Las Vegas, and for sure The Artist and I partake in many of them, both banal and bizarre. But come on... a museum of natural history? IN LAS VEGAS?!!?!?!?!?!

Come ON.

But it’s true. There we were, on one of our many trips to that dazzling burg in the blanched desert to celebrate our wedding that took place on The Las Vegas Strip back in the far-away year of 1986. I know, Las Vegas in July is just insanely hot, but we really don’t spend that much time outdoors anyways, and we both hate blistering by the pool.

So to make the anniversary trips more fun, The Artist does something that always makes for an interesting and enjoyable time for when we’re not sexing up in our room or playing the slots.

In the weeks prior to an upcoming journey into the Vast Hotness, she searches the intertubes for alternative LV activities. There’s lots of really cool things to do that don’t involve slot machines, alcohol or endless foot travel. Recent side trips included the Ethel M Chocolate Factory (she of the M&M Mars Family), the Pinball Hall of Fame (500 machines from vintage to modern), the Bellagio Hotel Gallery of Fine Art  (world-class art is there if you can find the place), Frankie’s Tiki Room (a genuine hard-core tiki lounge, darkest bar I’ve ever been in), and the King Putt indoor/Egyptian-themed/black-light miniature golf course(!?!?!).

This trip found us sweating outside of the Marjorie Barrick Museum of Art on the campus of UNLV, which was hosting a gallery exhibit of ceremonial masks from the indigenous peoples of the West spanning almost 2500 years. She thought it sounded intriguing, so one stifling weekday morning after we roused from the hotel room sexing bed we made our way out to the campus, the place literally abandoned for Summer break.

We arrived just before the museum’s 10AM opening, which allowed us the chance to walk the small but excellent desert foliage garden out front, grabbing whatever shade was available. Natch, we were the first (and only) people to walk in when they unlocked the doors and were almost knocked over by the arctic air blasting from inside.

The gallery exhibit of ancient masks was simply breathtaking. Displayed on a timeline, it was stunning to see how long-dead hands had lovingly formed these avatars of ancient peoples, fabricating and decorating them in a way that would exalt their ancestors, their spirits, themselves.

But something else grabbed my attention, dragged it away from those beautifully symbolic masks. It was sitting there, in the literal center of the gallery, waiting just for me.

A giant American Indian pow-wow drum, easily 4 feet in diameter.

The moment I saw it, drumsticks leaning all around the side, surrounded by empty benches, I looked over at The Artist who was already looking at me with an expression that said 'You're not really going to, are you?' She knew what was in my head, but she also knew it would be impossible to prevent the inevitable.

Remember, we're the only people inside this museum gallery on a weekday morning. I walk up to the drum, sit down, grab one of the drumsticks, and begin to softly drum.

"bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum hum bum..."

A steady, even cadence, not the made-up Hollywood drumming that everyone thinks is real.  You know:

"BUM bum bum bum BUM bum bum bum BUM bum bum bum BUM bum bum bum..."  

That's a fake drum cadence, and only a very few non-American Indians know the difference.  

But I do.

I sat there, drumming with my eyes closed, hearing the echoes bounce around in the empty gallery, filling the place with an ancient sound, and in that instant I was transported through time and space to other moments in my life.

"bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum hum bum..."

I traveled to my performances of the Eagle Dance at many Boy Scout ceremonies celebrating a Scout's achievement of the Eagle Badge, the highest award in Scouting. I wore my dance costume without the large feather bustle on my shoulders or the horsehair roach on my head, replaced by a set of feathered eagle wings and a ceremonial Eagle headdress, dancing and spinning and flying across the stage, at one with the moment.

"bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum hum bum..."

I traveled to one of the many Indian pow-wows our Order of the Arrow dance team was invited to attend, REAL pow-wows replete with women and children and youth and elders, all dressed in their finest costumes, dancing around and around and around the drummers in the center, all drumming and singing ancient songs of the Original Americans. I even met Iron Eyes Cody once and he shook my hand and thanked me for being there.  I danced for hours in those circles with Original Americans.

                                                       Iron Eyes Cody

"bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum hum bum..."

I traveled to another pow-wow, dressed in my completely handmade costume, a Modern Oklahoma Fancy Dancer, with my bells ringing and fringe flying and feathers swooping and my head roach tossing back and forth, and then the drumming became more insistent and we youth, we Fancy Dancers, began to dance even faster to keep up with the drumming cadence.


Faster and faster we danced and spun to keep up with the beat, and on each heavy beat we'd either bounce in the air or drop to the ground and bounce right back on the beat, each and every time, faster and faster and faster.


                     Modern Oklahoma Fancy Dancers, circa 2016

As is typical of time travel, I was only drumming there for a few minutes, but it felt like I'd been there for much longer. Eventually The Artist begged me to stop because I was prolly getting the docent angry, so I stopped drumming, put down the stick and waited for the echoes of the past and present to fade away.

I love time travelling.

We finished our gallery visit and decided to head out to another weirdo non-gambling Las Vegas activity. As we started to leave, I veered off and went over to the museum office where the docent who let us in was doing some paperwork.

Me: (peeking my head into her office) "Hi there... many thanks for the really great exhibit. I'm glad we made the trip out here."

Her:  "Oh, you are most welcome!" (Brief pause) "By the way, was that you drumming in there?"

Me: (highly embarrassed) "Ummm... yep, that was me.  Hope I didn't make too much noise on this quiet morning for you."

Her:  "NO NO NO... your drumming was amazing! It's nice to hear someone drum who knows what they're doing with that wonderful instrument.  Thanks for that!"

Me:  "Oh, OK, you're welcome. Thanks again!" (head swells to ten times its normal size)

Out into the Stoopid Hot we walked, into the sunshine and mindless excess that typifies Las Vegas. However, I left something important behind, something that was a part of me, and I was glad to leave it.

I had punched a hole in the time/space continuum, stepped through and went for a stroll with a drumstick in my hand, an ancient beat in my heart, and the memories of a joyous time paying homage to the Original Americans in my mind's eye.  That hole was still in there, exactly where I left it, waiting for someone else to peek through.

I will always be grateful for those formative youthful years communing with Indian spirits at pow-wows, dancing for hours around and around the drummers, singing their ancient songs to their ancestors, who were swirling all around them.

I will always be grateful for the chance to participate in such a singular and special activity, accorded to me by the Boy Scouts of America, the Order of the Arrow, and My Father, without whom none of it would have been possible.

                    My first Indian dance costume, circa 1969, fabbed by Dad

The same Father who spent hours and hours fabricating my costumes while I sat at his side, watching and reveling at his skill with needle and leather and feather and bell.

The same Father who spent countless hours carting our dance team around from one show to another, giving up his time and energy to allow us to fulfill our Scouting dreams.

The same Father who cheered me on at competitions, soaking in the success when I won, consoling my broken heart when I didn't, but always showing me that my efforts were valued nonetheless.

The same Father who watched as I took possession of a set of amazingly beautiful Fancy Dance feather bustles hand-made by a Real Indian, complete with Cloud Eagle feathers, from the son of the man who made the bustles and wanted to see me compete in them.

And yes, the same father who I railed against as I grew older and decided I didn't need Scouting or Indian dancing or any of that stuff, but stayed silent anyways.

That Father.  The Best Father Ever.

To this day, I am always thanking that guy for all the things he gave me as a growing, obstinate, fickle youth. Especially the chance to dance with feather and bell, around and around the giant drum, honoring The Original Americans.

"bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum bum hum bum..."

Lead image gracias de; INFP Fancy Dance and Red Eagle 'Song of Survival' videos gracias de; first costume image Muchismas Gracias de Mi Padre

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Anatomy of a Murder

“Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think.” -- Martin Luther King

Donald J. Trump is set to become the 45th President of the United States of America.

He will be my President.  I'm not happy about it, but that's how politics and elections work sometimes.

A large number of us are still mystified as to how and why Donald Trump defied the odds and snuck away with enough electoral votes to move into the White House.  

My standard answer is: it didn’t just happen. It took almost a decade for us to get to the point where a racist pussy-grabbing tax-cheating scumbag like Trump could con and lie his way into the Oval Office.

It's no secret that Donald Trump, a pathological liar, murdered Truth as a pathway to his electoral success, but there were many accomplices in this murder. Each in their own way, with their own agendas, conspired to murder Truth as a means to an end that they held as Most Important, moreso than their citizenship or civility or decency. They lied about facts, lied about their motives and intentions, lied about reality, lied lied lied about everything they could think of to generate a reality we now refer to as ‘post-truth’.

And guess what?  IT WORKED!!!

I knew trouble was brewing a few weeks before the election.

I had a conversation with an elderly fellow who, for the sake of all involved, will remain nameless.  We were talking about the upcoming Presidential election and he made it very clear that he was voting for Donald Trump. This is just a small sample of how the entire stupefying conversation went:

Me: “You realize that he’s wholly unqualified and unfit for that job, right?”

Him:  “It doesn’t matter. He’s going to make America great again. He’s a successful businessman and knows what he’s doing.”

Me: “Does a successful businessman claim a billion dollars in losses and file for bankruptcy multiple times?”

Him:  “That’s not true. Where’d you hear that?”

Me:  “Ummm… yeah, actually it is true. So what exactly is he gonna do to make this country great again?”

Him:  “He’s gonna bring back law and order to stop all the riots going on.”

Me:  “Which riots are those?”

Him:  “Well… the ones all over the place, those riots where all those blacks are destroying property and killing cops!”

Me:  “Surely you’re not referring to the civil unrest over indiscriminate police shooting of unarmed black men?”

Him:  “Yeah, those riots.”

Me:  “Riiiiight… OK, what else is he gonna do to make this country great again?”

Him:  “I forget, but I know that I knew and I agree with everything he says.”

Me:  (incredulous, eyes bugging out) “Come ON… he’s a racist and a bigot and a sexual predator! He’s a tax cheat and a pathological liar!”

Him:  “No he’s not! Who says that?”

Me:  (eyes narrowing, throwing a sideways look) “What news shows do you watch?”

Him:  “Well… mostly Fox News.”

Me:  “Any others?”

Him:  “Nope… don’t need to.  They’re the only ones who tell the truth. The rest of the lamestream media are liars.”

Me:  (head explodes and launches brains all over the walls, body falls into a twitching heap on the floor)

Congressional Republicans Murdered Truth

From the moment Barack Obama announced his run for the Presidency in 2007, the latent racism and bigotry bubbling just below the surface of our national skin spewed out like a ripe pimple being pinched. It didn’t matter that he was an American citizen, a Christian, a public servant, a Harvard graduate, a constitutional law expert. The GOP and Congressional Republicans would seek to de-legitimize and destroy him because they could not and would not allow a Black Man to be President.

They lied about his heritage. They lied about his faith.  They lied about his education.  They lied about his family. They lied about his politics. They lied about his qualifications. They lied about his patriotism. They lied about everything pertaining to him and they never stopped lying, not even once.

When he won the Presidency, they lied about his intentions. They lied about his motives. They lied about what he would do.  And on the day of his inauguration, a group of powerful Republican liars met in a Washington DC restaurant and developed a strategy to destroy him. They agreed to obstruct, delay, stonewall, obfuscate, slow-walk, deny, torpedo and sabotage anything and everything he tried to do. 

Don't believe me?  Go look it up.

They wanted to teach that uppity Black Man a lesson for thinking he could make things better for Americans. Their guy W had spent the previous eight years destroying the very fabric of our country and left a smoking mess for Barack Obama to somehow fix (which he eventually did), and that just would not do. And they would be damned if they’d give the uppity Black Man a single solitary win, so they enacted their plan to do just that, as only Republicans can do because they are inveterate liars.

If Obama was for it, they were against it. Didn’t matter what it was, who it would benefit, how right or fair or just it was.  They objected to every single thing he tried to do. From rescuing the economy to providing affordable healthcare to creating a more just legal system, they dug in and stood their ground.  NO NO NO to everything.  And then they lied about it.  They refused to govern and became the Disloyal Opposition, sabotaged everything he tried to do, and then blamed him when the results weren’t as successful as they could or should have been. They even shut down the government based on lies and blamed that uppity Black Man for it.

They lied about the economy even when it revived and thrived.  They lied about the Affordable Care Act even though it dramatically lowered the costs of healthcare, reduced the Federal deficit, provided 20 million Americans with coverage and dropped the number of the uninsured to historic lows.  They lied about unemployment even though it was reduced to the lowest rate in decades. They lied about a lack of jobs even though millions and millions of new jobs were created.  They lied about his foreign policy even though he ended two illegal wars and rebuilt trust and admiration from around the globe that had been squandered by his predecessor. They lied about the federal deficit, claiming it had skyrocketed when in fact it had been lowered by two-thirds.

They went on Fox News, the most popular ‘news’ channel ever, and lied and lied and lied. Every time they were in front of a camera or reporters or constituents, they lied and lied and lied.

And guess what?  IT WORKED. The unthinking and incurious masses of Americans who watched Fox News night after night, lie after lie, believed the lies and started to blame that stinking liberal Obama for all the bad things that were happening, for the inability for Congress to get anything done, for the stagnation of job creation and the skyrocketing crime rate, even though it was all based on lies.

Those ignorant Americans didn’t bother to think about whether or not their single source of information might be lying to them because it was too much trouble to check other sources, to use critical thinking about what they were hearing, to weigh facts against hyperbole and lies. They bought the lies hook, line and sinker.

And here we are.

A Compliant And Weak Media Murdered Truth

When Donald Trump announced his candidacy in the Summer of 2015, his speech was filled with lies and racism and unhinged insanity, but the mainstream media slavishly covered every single minute of it.  Oh sure, they chortled and guffawed at his obvious stupidity, but... no one came right out and called him a liar, nor would they.

They couldn't, and he knew it, because he is a Master of the Universe, an entitled celebrity asshole with wealth and power and influence. Someone who spent his entire life supping from a gold-covered chalice, shitting in a gold-encrusted toilet, demeaning and insulting and degrading everybody else because he could... always had, always would. And NO ONE would ever be able to tell or show him otherwise.

The mainstream media both craved and feared Donald Trump.

They would enable and embolden this pathological liar because regardless of how insane he might be, they wanted to make sure he would always give them what they craved most:  ACCESS and RATINGS. His incoherent ramblings were ratings gold, and they would never EVER do anything that would jeopardize access to the fountain of stupid that is Donald Trump because he is a Master of the Universe.

What they didn't realize is that a massive number of Americans had been pre-conditioned to believe the lies he was spewing each and every day, because they'd already been brainwashed by the incessant lying of Congressional Republicans.

The very same Republicans that had been lying and lying and lying in front of every camera that would point in their direction. Access is key, and any reporter or media that questioned them on their lies was immediately cut off from access to the Lying Republicans. No more interviews, no more quotes, no more access... so a decision had to be made. Maintain access by glossing over the lies, or question the lies and suffer the consequences.

Guess which one they chose?

And here we are.

An Ignorant and Brainwashed Public Murdered Truth

"If a nation expects to be both ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be" -- Thomas Jefferson

In the weeks leading up to the election, it was obvious that we had already entered the 'post-truth' era. The lies and bullshit being spread about Hillary Clinton were unbelievable, but a huge swath of the public believed the lies because they had been preconditioned to think that way. They loved the lies, and what Grade-A Quality Bullshit the lies were! For example:

"Hillary lied about Benghazi and purposefully allowed the embassy to be overrun and burned and did nothing while the staffers were murdered."

"Hillary lied about her e-mails and server."

"Hillary suffered a stroke and is barely able to stand on her own."

"Hillary is a crook."

"Hillary has never done anything positive during her time in the public sector."

"Hillary is sick and hiding it from the media."

"Hillary is a secret lesbian."

"Hillary profited from The Clinton Foundation."

"Hillary is involved in a child sex ring run from the basement of a DC-area pizzeria."

"Hillary is responsible for the civil wars in Syria and Iraq and civil unrest throughout the Middle East."

And yet... rather than try and analyze these statements to see if there were any facts to bolster them, the Ignorant Public that loves to not think swallowed the lies whole, without hesitation, without a single thought given to the notion that maybe... perhaps... possibly... the lies were actually LIES.

Nope.  Didn't happen. They swallowed the lies whole like a carp sucking down a mayfly. Didn't even taste it going down. Sustenance.

There's a popular meme that says 'If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs.' And make no mistake, a large swath of the American electorate is 100% USDA Grade-A Select ignorant. It starts with the watering-down and elimination of high school Civics and Social Studies and History and Political Science courses, allowing students to whip through to graduation without ever thinking... even once... about their civic duties and responsibilities, or How Things Work.

Then the semi-ignorant students are allowed to swim through college (if they go at all) without ever knowing the most basic facts of American Citizenship or American History. Those who don't attend college become Diploma'd ignoramuses with no critical thinking skills or the ability to reason fact from fiction, ripe for the picking by Lying Liars.

And here we are.

Does this seem a bit harsh? Am I being needlessly cruel or caustic or otherwise unfair to those mediocre students who, through no fault of their own, become dim adults lacking the capacity to think for themselves without their spacephone?

Well, harsh is pretty much all I have in me right now, because one of the best parts about getting old is that I've stopped giving a diddly-fuck about what others may think of my opinions. I've stopped worrying about the delicate fee-fees of the vast swath of Ignorant Americans who can't think their way out of a paper bag, who can't be bothered to educate themselves about their world, who are as incurious and bereft of context and contrast as our new Asshole-In-Chief.

As an adult trying to navigate the vast ocean of life, I've always tried to fall back on the meaningful brilliance of the many fine teachers I had in junior and high school, along with my years as a Cub and Boy Scout.  It was all of a piece, and among the most important things I learned to strive for are:  

Be truthful, no matter what. 

Treat others with the respect they deserve. 

Call 'BULLSHIT' when it's obvious. 

Question everything, and be prepared to deal with the hard answers. 

Don't be afraid to ask questions or admit you don't have all the answers.

Give everything you can to the benefit of others.

Never ever stop learning.

Truth is easily lost in the blaring reality we all share, but we gotta keep our eyes on it at all times or it becomes obscured, shaded, hidden from view. I've opined before that we have so much information flooding into our lives that it becomes almost too much to bear, allowing facts and truth to be lost the fizzy reality cocktail we drink deeply from every day.

Don't let it happen. Don't let Truth be murdered right in front of your eyes.  I know it's hard, but you gotta weed through the noise and keep looking for the hard-nuts Truth about what is meaningful and important.  Otherwise you'll become just another American Ignoramus, calmly feeding on the radioactive pablum that suffocates Truth in a thick layer of bullshit.

As a Boy Scout, I had to memorize and try to live by the Twelve Scout Laws:

"A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent."

These weren't meant to be hard and fast rules, but instead goals to strive for, to achieve in order to be a Better Scout, a Better Human Being, a Better American.  Little did I know that as I grew into Adulthood and Curmudgeonhood, those very same laws would guide me in my world view, in my interpersonal relationships, in my understanding and treatment of others.

Trustworthy is the first Scout Law.

trust-wor-thy -- (adjective) -- able to be relied on as honest or truthful; synonyms: reliable, dependable, honest, upright, principled, true, truthful, ethical, virtuous, incorruptible, unimpeachable, above suspicion, responsible, sensible, levelheaded, staunch, steadfast... "a trustworthy citizen".

Maybe this is why I'm so unbelievably angry with the Lying Republicans, the Lying Media, the Ignorant Americans who lie to themselves. I know it may be too much to ask that other citizens try a bit harder to be more truthful, more honest about the things that affect us all. I'm not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I really try hard to be honest and trustworthy in everything that I say and do, every single day.  

Why can't they at least try to do the same?

Actually, I know why... and so do you.

Lying is easy. 

Lead image, gracias de; 'Politically Challenged' and Rollins Band 'Liar' video, muchismas gracias de; todas mis gracias y alabanza a Carlos Magallanes, Los Boy Scouts de America, y Mi Papa.

Monday, November 21, 2016

A Clear and Present Danger

Heh heh heh... I love that image right there.

Classical music has been my savior of late.  For some reason, the depressing facts of our latest Presidential election are eased a bit by music that touches my heart and soul like no other. Classical music can be both inspiring and calming at the same time, no small feat.

Now that we've lost our collective minds and elected Donald J. Trump as the President of The United States, I feel compelled to make my position on this result crystal clear: 

I will offer to the Trump Administration the same level of respect, consideration and support that the GOP, Congressional Republicans and conservative Amerikkans have given to Barack Obama since the day he was elected in 2008.

In other words, less than zero.

IMHO, based on the record, Donald Trump is a racist, a bigot, a misogynist (go look it up), a fascist, a pathological liar, a self-professed sexual predator, a tax cheat, a climate change denier, an intemperate man-child, and a pathetic excuse for a human being.

He was a scumbag before he became POTUS, and he's still one today… the election changed nothing. That so many of our citizens saw this with their own eyes and decided to choose him anyway is just madness. How anyone would consciously make such a willfully ignorant decision forces me to question every relationship I have with those who did so. 

It’s become painful to realize that yes, some of my family and friends are also racists. Perhaps not outwardly, but it’s there, and I can no longer deny it. They saw his horrible natures and voted for him anyway, and somehow I’m gonna have to figure out how to move forward from that startling realization.

Many of our semi-intelligent leaders have accused Barack Obama of dividing our country, but that's a childlike interpretation of the actual facts. Our nation is chock-full or racism, and has been since the beginning. While it's never been eradicated or eliminated, it was kept under wraps, shrouded by fake smiles and words and the notion that overt racism is only for troglodytes and mouth-breathing morons, an example of their latent ignorance.

No longer.

Even before Barack The Kenyan Usurper became POTUS in January 2009, the Proud Amerikkan Racist Underbelly turned sunny-side up and started belching out hate and anger and ugliness and it never stopped, never relented, never lessened for the entire time he's been in office. Yes, we became a divided nation because the racism was normalized, flaunted and highlighted by those fuckers in the GOP and the idiots that let them get away with it. 

Remember:  Donald Trump glorified and promoted the 'birther' movement, claimed over and over that BTKU wasn't a citizen, was hiding his true identity, and should never have been allowed to run for office.

Many people believed him because they are Proud Amerikkan Racists. And here we are.

If your guy is roundly cheered and wholly supported by the KKK, white supremacists and neo-Nazis, that should make you question your choice a bit, si?

I said before the election that no matter what happened, I would accept the outcome, and I have.  However, unlike the Trumpanzees who were threatening violence and bloodshed if he didn’t win (even before the first vote was cast), I'd never resort to or condone violence. Only cretins and morons use threats of violence against others in a representative democracy like ours, and I feel so sad for them. I can only hope that Mr. Trump is able to figure out WTF he’s doing and not damage our nation beyond repair.

I will never offer my support for Donald Trump in any way, shape or form, as I hold him and his philosophy in contempt as antithetical to the progressive foundations of our country. He may be my President, but he does not represent me, my ideals, my view of America or the things I hold closest to my patriotic heart.

What goes around... comes around.

I will not wish for Trump's failure as so many have done against Barack Obama. Trump’s success will be our success, but I totally believe he will instead tear down our collective values and the result will be a reflection of his stunted, sick and selfish ideals, which I will never accept.

If these statements upset or anger you, that's your problem, not mine.  Block my Facebook feed, unfriend me, delete my number from your smart (stupid) phone and my presence from your life if you cannot accept my disagreement with your choice for POTUS. I choose not to endorse or normalize the sickening behavior that Mr. Trump displays with seeming impunity, and I will continue to speak out and protest against his disgusting persona and complete lack of compassion or consideration for anyone but himself. 

As a newly-unchained Radical Progressive Liberal DemocRat, I hereby state my belief that Donald J. Trump is a Clear and Present Danger to the progressive American way of life.

"The true civilization is where every man gives to every other man, every right that he claims for himself." -- Robert Ingersoll, political leader, orator (1833-1899)

Lead image, Muchismas Gracias de; Samuel Barber's 'Adagio For Strings' video, Muchismas Gracias de; Fuck Donald 'Cheeto Jesus' Trump and the horse he road in on; RESIST!!!!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Donald Trump Is A Good American

"If a nation expects to be both ignorant and free, it expects what never was and never will be." -- Thomas Jefferson

I'm not surprised that The Donald has risen so far so fast to become the Republican nominee for President of the United States.

Will he succeed?  After all that's happened over the last few weeks, from pussy-grabbing commentary to rejecting possible election outcomes to debate performances worthy of unending derision and pity to a refusal to release his tax returns, my gut says NO, but these are Strange Days indeed and anything is possible.

When he descended that gilt escalator in Trump Towers in the summer of 2015 and announced his candidacy while savaging Mexican immigrants as rapists, murderers and criminals, I knew he would strike a chord a certain voter demographic.

My initial reaction was to laugh out loud and view him as a ridiculous figure, but I immediately began to think about who exactly he was speaking to.

Then I knew. This was no joke. 

After the last eight years of GOP-enabled and supported racism, bigotry and hatred against Barack HUSSEIN Secret Commie Muslim Anti-Christ (black guy) Obama, coupled with the generalized stupidization of so many willfully-ignorant Amerikkans, seeing Donald's puckered visage so close to the highest office in the land fills me with a combination of mirth and dread, coated in anxiety, powdered with disbelief and sprinkled heavily with pathos and black humor.

As true as all that may be, I still feel that no matter how corroded and corrupted his soul and brain may be, I firmly believe Donald J. Trump is the epitome of what many would consider as a Good American.

Not me, of course. But this essay isn't about me.

It's a simple reality that drives many Liberals (and lots of Conservatives as well!) completely bonkers, but it really shouldn't.  All you have to do is take a good hard look to see how easy it was for The Donald to bully, insult and bum-rush his GOP competitors, the same way he's operated his far-flung business dealings over the last several decades.

He's the Stuff of The American Dream.

Think about it: born into a wealthy family, raised with every benefit and entitlement a human could want, schooled at the most prestigious facilities money could buy, fronted with millions of dollars by his Father to start his business at the highest level, married to supermodels, living a Large Life and being answerable to no other human being.

I mean... COME ON. Who wouldn't want to have all that?

Many people slave away their whole lives seeking a whiff, a taste, the tiniest morsel of the life that Donald Trump has lived. Yet no matter how hard they try, how hard they work and sacrifice, they end their lives broken and wanting, never having achieved that which they sought: The American Dream according to Donald Trump.

The American Dream is all about he Benjamins, doncha know? It's all about the Moolah... the Dough... the Scratch... the Samolians... the Sheckels... the Grease. Don't laugh... you know it's true.

But this whole politics thing... it just doesn't seem to make sense as to why someone like Donald J. Trump would bother with it all. I mean, the guy is 70 years old, claims to be worth billions of dollars, has all the power and fame and notoriety he could want.  Why run for a thankless job like being POTUS?

Revenge is what's at play here. Donald Trump ALWAYS seeks revenge for those who he thinks have wronged him.

Remember, he's a self-professed counter-puncher, and he exacts his own brand of revenge on whomever he trains his sights on. It's his signature modus operandi, and has played out in the media during the entire campaign.

Revenge for being humiliated at the 2011 Annual Correspondents Banquet by none other than the Kenyan Muslim Usurper hisownself, Barack Hussein Obama. Because if there's one thing that DJT simply cannot tolerate, it's humiliation and embarrassment.

Go look it up if you don't believe me. After months and months of being the progenitor of the 'birther' movement, demanding BHO's birth certificate and claiming that BHO simply wasn't an American citizen, Don got a faceful of diss from Barry in front of the assembled banquet crowd, with the sharpest barbs played endlessly on the teevee for days afterwards.

There he sat, Mr. Donald J. Trump, (alleged) Billionaire, who (supposedly) owns many mansions and many yachts, forcing himself to remain emotionless while his nemesis, that Black Guy, roasted his ass with a smile and one sharp joke after another, all at Don's expense. Those in attendance said that you could practically hear Donald grinding his teeth while Barry sliced him up with a smile. And it was that single evening, say those who know things, that convinced Donald to eventually run for the POTUS job to teach that uppity Black Man a lesson.

Amerikkans know about revenge.

I'm sure there's lots of other reasons for his seemingly ill-fated attempt to move into far less gilt-laden digs at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Power... (more) Fame... Personal Enrichment (his over-arching motivator)... all the things he's lived his singular life to achieve via ruthless ambition and wealth and endless White Privilege.

But the truth is, regardless of how much I personally reject everything that Donald Trump is, says, does and (allegedly) stands for, I have an admiration for him that is undeniable. It doesn't matter that he was personally broke and in debt to his eyeballs when 'The Apprentice' fell into his lap and helped him to re-establish his brand as the gold-covered standard for American Excess.

It doesn't matter that he started his rise to worldwide fame and fortune halfway between third base and Home plate, because the end result is what some of our citizens yearn and strive for, so they accept him as who they perceive him to be.

It doesn't matter that he refuses to release his tax returns, because we have a strong anti-tax bias among our citizenry that cheers him on for sticking it to The Man, even though, as Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, "I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization."

It doesn't matter that he proudly waves his freak flags of racism, bigotry, misogyny, hatred of The Other and willful ignorance of the reality we all share, because many Amerikkans feel the same way and cheer him on for exactly those reasons.

To those among us who applaud and support and defend Donald Trump's regressive ideology and self-professed Awesomeness, he is the quintessential Good American.

I can't argue with that.

I can totally disagree with his world view, offer verifiable and substantiated reasons why he's wholly unsuited for government office, cite documented evidence of his financial misdeeds, racist tendencies and predatory sexual behavior, but NONE OF THAT MATTERS to his acolytes.

They love that he's an inflamed, bloated, narcissistic asshole who could give less than a fuck about what anyone he doesn't like thinks about him.  It's how he's led his entire life, because he was born into the life he lives. To a not-insignificant portion of our country, that's what The American Dream means to them. They wanna be like Trump.

And who the hell am I to deny them that dream?

I have many family members and friends who I love and respect and cherish who are 100% supportive of Donald's insane view of the world. I can offer them factual information about his insanity all day long but it doesn't make a single iota of difference to them. They love him, they believe him, and that's all they need to know, case closed, don't bother to try and dissuade them.

Facts?  They don't need no stinking facts, because they're all lies anyway and the vote is rigged and the government is rigged and it's all a giant conspiracy to prevent True Patriots from gaining the power they feel has been lost to them.

I know many of these people have almost no understanding or knowledge of how government works, how politics works, how the economy works, what really happened in Benghazi, why Hillary's e-mails are a non-story, that voter fraud is non-existent, that Congressional Republicans have been sabotaging the Federal Government for the last eight years, that climate change is real, that racial equality is a necessity, that LBGT people need their civil rights protected, that women should be in charge of their own uteri.

I know all of this, and it sometimes makes me crazy to figure out how they manage to get through their days with so much of the world around them out of their understanding's grasp.

But then I remember:  MANY Amerikkans live their lives that way.  They have too much to deal with... spouses, kids, mortgages, taxes, dead-end jobs, poor health, never enough shekels in the bank.  It can be daunting to deal with all of that AND try to have an educated world view, so that expanded world view gets left behind.

IMHO, left behind at their own peril, but that's only my opinion, and opinions are like assholes because everyone has one, right?

So.  There it is.  Donald J. Trump is indeed a Good American.  I don't have to like it, but I accept that reality and don't hold anything against him because he's a genuine individual with a highly-visible status and millions of fans.

Will he win in the upcoming election? My visceral reaction to that thought turns my stomach, but unlike his rabid fans who are already threatening to start shooting up the place if he doesn't, I'm a Big Boy and can handle defeat without resorting to mindless violence because I too am a Good American.

I'm voting for Hillary Clinton, and I think she'll make an excellent President. If you're voting for Donald Trump, and you accept and support his ideology and worldview, well... that's what elections are for, and that makes this already-great country even greater.

"Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Lead image, gracias de; 'Donald Trump is a Dinosaur;' video, muchismas gracias de; GO HILLARY!!!!.