politics

What’s Stuck In My Head – 20 September

Sorry, I haven’t been keeping up with this series as of late, but I’ve been up to my you-know-what with my genealogy.

This song runs through my head on a regular basis. I’ve always enjoyed Bruce Hornsby’s music, either solo or playing on other folks records. And this one fits right in line with my social justice thoughts. “Did you really think about it when you made the rules?” Such a great lyric.  Especially when paired with the command “But don’t you believe them!” at the end of the song.

Then this morning I get up and see this tweet on my timeline;

tweet

And that doesn’t just fit in with this song I don’t know what does. This administration doesn’t give a rats ass about folks on the fringe of society. If you’re not a rich white republican male, you do not matter. This country is in a sad state right now. That’s all I’ll say about this, I will get off my soapbox now.

So here’s The Way It Is. I hope you enjoy it. (And yes, I realize this may be a repeat, but this song means a lot to me. Plus I should probably start a spreadsheet or something of the songs I’ve already posted.)

Peace,
B

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A Case For Charity

So on the way home from work this afternoon, there were two people on two different corners asking for help.  The first one was your basic down-on-their-luck looking person, with a sign that was basically illegible. The second guy though had a great sign, “I need a beer” was all it said. Now that is a concept I can get behind (although I am currently on day 6 of no beer while I try to get my cholesterol and triglycerides under control, again).

I don’t bring these encounters up lightly. I take the homeless problem seriously. Especially among my fellow veterans. But today, I couldn’t help these folks. I have basically stopped carrying cash.  Not that I’m afraid of getting mugged, but because an ATM card is just too convenient. There really isn’t any reason to carry cash. Or is there?

This reminded me of an encounter Wifey® and I had outside a local store a week or two ago. As we were leaving the store a young man with his family, significant other, and two small children were asking passers-bys for help.  The gentleman was wearing a clean Subway restaurant shirt and hat leaving to believe that he had a job. Of course, Subway, and similar fast food jobs are usually part-time minimum wages deals. And we all know that a single person, let alone a family can’t live off of minimum wage. I guess it’s obvious I support the $15 an hour minimum wage initiative.

As usual, neither of us had any cash and told them we couldn’t help them. But as we were pulling out of the parking lot I realized I did have a credit card for that store. I could have taken them into the store and bought them at least something that would satisfy at least part of their need. I will admit that I was almost in tears because I failed to help another fellow.

And that leads me to another story (yeah I know, shut up already).

Many years ago, when I did call myself a “Christian”, which I no longer do, this happened at the church we attended.

It was while I was setting up for a Wednesday evening Bible study/reflection time (I was on the soundboard as usual) when a down-on-his-luck gentleman approached me asking for money.  Well, this time I did have some cash on me. I gave him all I had, a whopping $5. After the guy left one of the members of the church, a deacon no less, said to me “Why did you give that bum money? You know all he’s going to do is buy beer with it!” My reply and one I still use to this day when I asked the same question was “Well, what the hell did you think I was going to do with the money?” Basically, I gave the guy my beer money, but I knew I had some more beer at home.

And if I had any beer at home today, I would have given the guy with the beer sign a beer or two. Share and share alike!

I’m sure some folks reading this (there is somebody reading this right?) will disagree with my view on helping folks that are not as fortunate as themselves. And while, as I said, do not call myself a Christian, I believe the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels (and I don’t think they are exact quotes, or if the human Jesus even said anything close to the words) are a good guideline for behavior towards our fellow humanity. Especially in regards to what is usually termed the “least of these”. To me, that means anyone on the fringe or outskirts of society. From what I’ve read of the New Testament, they tend to use the terms widow, orphan, poor, and occasionally refugee. In today’s world that would mean (to me at least) the homeless, the LGBT people who have been rejected, the refugees that have come to live with us (in or from ANY country, of ANY race, creed, color etc.), the indigenous peoples and ALL the other people of color, women, I could go on. But that’s another post.

My dear-ol-mother used to try to stop me from helping folks when I was younger.  Her favorite phrase was “Charity starts at home”. But then the question becomes; “define HOME”.  Going back to the Bible, even Jesus was asked a similar question, “Who is my neighbor?”, his response was the parable of the Good Samaritan. If you don’t know that parable click here to read it.  Of note on that parable is the Jesus Seminar released a book several years ago Sayings of Jesus” where they examine the sayings attributed to Jesus in the four Gospels. This parable was one of the few that all the participants agreed was a very probable saying from Jesus. (OK, I promise no more Bible references. I’m not a Bible scholar.)

No matter your belief system, I bet in some “holy” book you will find a varient of the “Take care of the ‘least of these'” command. I know you will find it in the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Qu’ran because I’ve read all three.

So what are your thoughts on helping today’s “least of these”? I’m not just talking money. It could be time spent with people in the hospital or an assisted living facility. Or visiting people in jail. Helping at a homeless shelter, a food bank, the list goes on. I admit, that I fall very short in this area. I try but fail. So for me, it’s usually a monetary donation. But when I was underemployed, it was time.

So do you do anything to help? Even if you don’t (no judgment here), leave a comment on your views on this subject. I welcome any open and thoughtful discourse. However, I do reserve the right to delete any derogatory comments.

Peace,
B

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Again….

And yet again another mass shooting at a school. This will of course, once again, ignite the gun control debate. Since I am an Army retiree I am a bit conflicted on the whole gun control issue.

When I first enlisted back in 1976, I took the oath and swore to “Defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.” I believed in that oath in 1976, and I still believe in it today.

So does that mean that I have to support private gun ownership? To me the second amendment reads;

“A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Source: Wikipedia

I read that, first as a “Well regulated militia”. If I remember my history correctly when the constitution was written, the “upstart” United States may have had a standing Army, but nothing that could be called up quickly for any local problems, i.e. a sudden raid or offensive by the British Army. Hence the creation of a local militia. In today’s world, we call that militia the National Guard (I know this because my son is in the Guard). We no longer have the need for the local authorities (a mayor of a town, the local council etc..) to call up able-bodied men (and maybe women) to arms themselves and defend their homesteads.

However, the second part of that amendment “…the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” leaves some wiggle room. I have no problem with private, RESPONSIBLE gun ownership. My son has a weapon, as does my brother-in-law, and several friends and neighbors. I, personally do not. In my years as a paramedic in the Army, I have seen all too well the carnage that all kinds of weapons can inflict on the human body. I want no part of that. I am very much a pacifist. If that means, I’m the first to die in some “invasion” or whatever, so be it.

So where does that leave me? Or better yet, what is the definition of “responsible gun ownership”? For me, that means, self-defense for you and your loved ones. Also, for hunting and sustaining lives with the meat from those kills. That leaves out “trophy” hunting. I was so very pleased to read about the poacher that was mauled to death by the lion he was hunting in South Africa. I never find joy in the taking of any human life, but in this case, I feel justice was served.

Does that mean you can use “any weapon”? I don’t believe so. I see absolutely no need for any semi-automatic weapons in the hands of any civilian. Why would you need an AR-15 (or an M-16 – same weapon – for the military folks) to hunt? Knowing the damage that this weapon causes to the human body (and goats, as I had to do a “goat lab” when in training – after knocking a goat out, they shot it with an M-16 in a non-life threatening way, for us to treat the wound). There would be very little meat left to eat if you shot the average deer with an AR-15.

Do you need it for home defense? Not likely. Remember, the Governor would have called up the National Guard before this would be necessary.

And all this returns us to the beginning of this post. More school children have been killed because Congress (and maybe the Office of the President) refuse to do anything other than send “prayers and thoughts”. And as far as I’m concerned “prayers and thoughts” are nothing but bullshit. Pure and empty wishes. Instead, the NRA, which I believe should be labeled a terrorist organization, just gives more money to the congressmen (and women) they have in their pockets, and nothing gets done.

We need legislation, and we need it now. It’s time we vote out everyone who refuses to act on any gun control reform, both Republicans and Democrats. 2018 is the year to get them out of there. Start at the top. I say Impeach him now! But, I don’t think we have anything we can impeach him on (yet). But let’s get the ball rolling even stronger. Maybe we should vote EVERYBODY out and start all over again.

But we need better gun control legislation. I’m not advocating taking guns from people. But maybe, I am. Assault style rifles, semi-automatic weapons, “bump stocks” and other military-style weapons should be removed from the general public. There is no damn need for them in a home. You want to fire one? Go to a firing range. Maybe we could allow them to have them on hand for people to experience shooting them. I know there are ranges that have special licenses for fully automatic weapons. So this would allow people to have the same experiences.

But I doubt any of this will come about until a congressman’s child is killed in a random shooting. Sad to say, but I seriously think that’s what it’s going to take. But even then, if it’s a white person doing the shooting, they will claim its “mental illness” if it’s a “refugee” (especially someone from the middle east), then it’s “terrorism”. It’s never the fact that almost anyone can get a weapon, no matter what their background check says.

I have bipolar type 2 disorder. This should disqualify me from being able to buy a weapon. I could easily turn it on myself, or others with no warning simply if my meds aren’t doing their job that day. But I know, I could walk into a pawn shop or even a gun shop or two in this area and with my military ID, walk out with a handgun. I may not even have to wait the required 3 days.

So, after all is said and done, I’m still at a loss. The carnage will continue. Nothing will happen in Congress, the NRA will get more powerful, and more people will die.  If Sandy Hook didn’t change anything, if Las Vegas didn’t change anything, and if Stoneman Douglas doesn’t change anything, I doubt the other 18 school shootings this year will change anything either.

For those that read this and say “If you don’t like it leave”, sorry no. I choose reform. You can leave if you’d like.

Comments are welcome, just know any “hate speech” type of comments will be deleted. I have no problem if you disagree with me, but let’s keep it clean and honest. I know there are more than one view on this subject, and this is mine. Feel free to express your view.

Peace,
B

Saint Columbus? Not A Chance

Christopher Columbus, the explorer, the great navigator, the man who “paved” the way to the new world, governor of Hispaniola, cruel dictator.  And not the first European to sail to what is now America. The Vikings beat him by years. He was just the first to go back and bring news of a “New Land” even though he still thought he had made it to Asia.

Growing up in Miami, with Christopher Columbus High School right down the street, we were taught what a great man he was. There was never any mention of how he decimated the native Taino people of Hispaniola.

From his Wikipedia article:

Columbus’s soldiers killed and enslaved with impunity at every landing. When Columbus fell ill in 1495, “what little restraint he had maintained over his men disappeared as he went through a lengthy period of recuperation. The troops went wild, stealing, killing, raping, and torturing natives, trying to force them to divulge the whereabouts of the imagined treasure-houses of gold.” According to Las Casas, 50,000 natives perished during this period. Upon his recovery, Columbus organized his troops’ efforts, forming a squadron of several hundred heavily armed men and more than twenty attack dogs. The men tore across the land, killing thousands of sick and unarmed natives. Soldiers would use their captives for sword practice, attempting to decapitate them or cut them in half with a single blow.

Columbus was bent on nothing more than a quest for gold, land and power. He was not an explorer, he was a conqueror. Who claimed he did it all in the “Name of God”. What a load of crap.

And worst of all he opened the door for the rest of the European nations to cross the sea and colonize the New World. The atrocities that have been visited upon the natives of the Americas have been brutal. Between disease (which I think even if the white man only came to trade, the disease they carried would have killed many of the natives. Not as many as history tells us, but still some) and the basic murder of the people and rape of the land, the white man’s legacy, my legacy, is shameful.

We look at the “evil” people of history, Hitler, Stalin, Caligula etc.. and say that’s not us. But if you look, really look, at the near, if not complete, genocide the white man brought upon the Indigenous Peoples of the western world, it is us.

And of course, the colonization of Africa was no better. Again the so-called “Civilized” man needs to bring the “savages” (and by savage I mean someone who doesn’t believe like I do) under control. No different from Rome trying to wipe the Picts off the map (but they didn’t succeed, we were much too different than anyone they had faced before, they could figure us out).

The white man and his “privilege” continue today. Just look at the percentage that a person of color (Black, Native American, any Refugee) has of at the least, of going to jail, at the worse being killed, by an authority figure and you’ll understand.

My “Internet Friend” Kaitlain Curtiss is half Native American (Potawatomi) and a very strong Christian (I am neither). Her insights have led me to become more interested in the indignities that Native Americans face on a daily basis. I say “become more interested” because I have absolutely no Native American in my DNA. Despite the fact that one of my sisters would tell me we were part (insert tribe here – it changed every time). And she couldn’t even get the tribe names right, one time it was Blackfoot (not the correct Blackfeet). I could have understood the Cherokee, mom was from the Carolinas and dad just a bit north in Pennsylvania (but that would probably have been part of the Iroquios Confederacy). I would strongly recommend you follow her a learn a little more about what it’s like growing up as a Native American.  You can find her on Twitter and Facebook.  I also would recommend Indian Country Today on Twitter (don’t know if they have a Facebook presence).

So that was a lot of words to basically say, let’s get rid of “Columbus Day” and rename it “Indigenous Peoples Day” or “Native American Peoples Day” (mainly because if it wasn’t for spellcheck I would get Indigenous wrong every time).

Peace,
B

Playboy and Politics

When I was 17, way back in 1976, there was a certain southern gentleman running for President. A Mr. James (Jimmy) Earl Carter, Jr. to be specific. And I so wanted to vote for him, but I couldn’t. My 18th birthday was about three weeks after the election. So needless to say, all my friends that were of voting age have much fun at my expense. But Mr. Carter won, so I don’t feel too bad that I could not cast a vote.

I was so intrigued with Mr. Carter that I went to my local book stand (not big enough to call it a store) and bought the November 1976 issue of Playboy specifically for his interview. And I admit this is probably the one and only time I bought Playboy for an article. (It should be noted that Wifey® gave me a subscription to Playboy as a wedding gift – which we kept up until about 1999). And I understand if you doubt that I bought it for the interview. My dad didn’t believe me either when I gave him the copy and told him to read the interview. Dad never told me his political views, in fact asked him in 1980 who he voted for, he basically blew up in my face saying “That’s a personal decision. Don’t ever ask me that again!”  I’m pretty sure he voted for Reagan. I will go on record as voting for President Carter, dad is no longer around to state his case, but I doubt he would anyway. We were not on the friendliest terms at his passing.

I would have voted for Mr. Carter in 1976, knowing that I had already signed an enlistment contract with the US Air Force, to go active duty in October of 1976. As little as I knew of politics, I knew that democrats were very strong in the social aspects of life, while being “soft” on military. I knew that promotions and pay raises would be far and few between. I was also certain that the chances of me being sent to some far off part of the world to support some combat mission was reduced as well. Even though as a member of the USAF’s SPEC (Security Police Element for Contingencies) I was deployable anywhere at a moments notice.

It should be noted that when I did register to vote, just after I turned 18, I registered as “No Party Affiliation” and I kept that registration until 2016. When a certain Senator, Bernie Sanders, by name came along. I changed to democrat just to be able to vote in the primary. Something I had never been able to do, ever. I believe in Bernie’s ideas. I have very strong socialist leanings. I believe in everyone helping everyone else. Unfortunately human nature gets in the way. You could definitely call me a “bleeding heart liberal” something I doubt any of my brothers or sisters (including the in-laws) will claim. My mom’s thing was “charity starts at home”. And while I understand that, I feel it may start there, it HAS to go beyond the “home” (whether that be your city, state, nation or whatever – it’s a global mission).

So now we have a most deplorable POTUS. A man who has no compassion, no empathy, no respect for human dignity at all. All he cares about is himself. There has to be a way to remove him from office legally. I understand that impeachment would be difficult as he hasn’t committed any “crimes”, but what about the 25th amendment?  He is clearly delusional, if not down right paranoid schizophrenic.  Lady Gaga, a musician that I do not always agree with, but sometimes enjoy her music, stated it rather nice (and I hope your fibromyalagia doesn’t bother you anymore lady);gaga

It’s sad to say that this may be a big part of the problem. Add into the fact the San Juan Mayor (one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited) is 1)Female, 2) criticizing Trump and 3) Hispanic tells you everything you need to know.

He can’t handle a woman in power, who’s right when he’s wrong and not WASP.

America, we need to get rid of him and do one thing he promised to do that he never did, Drain The Damn Swamp. He has done nothing but make the swamp water rise. I would love nothing better than to see him removed from office, in any legal manner, then exiled from the USA. We do not need his hate and white supremacy any longer. Let America join the rest of the world in open acceptance of our brothers and sisters. Let America stop its “colonization” of the world. We have done enough damage to the Native Americans, the People of Color, the Immigrants (all the way back to the Irish slaves), and more for a lifetime.

Stop the hate. Go read “Letter From A Birmingham Jail” by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I just reread it last month. A true visionary he was. I’ll end with on of my favorite quotes of his;

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/martinluth101472.html

We need Love.  And just in case you’re wondering, the November 1976 Playmate was Patti McGuire (you never forget your first). She was also the Playmate of the Year… Just a FYI…

Enjoy the video:

Sit, Stand, Kneel… Good Dog

Perhaps you’ve seen this picture floating around social media. Now that the NFL season has started again, Mr. Kaepernick is making news.  I read one post that he was a “piece of shit and shouldn’t be allowed to play in the NFL”. That bothered me some.  As I am not a fan of the NFL (stopped watching years ago), I wondered why he shouldn’t be allowed to play.  Is he a bad player? I don’t know. I figure the only reason a person shouldn’t be able to be in the NFL (or any other job for that matter) is if they can’t perform the duties of that job.  I know I don’t belong in the NFL. At 5’10”, 210 pounds (mostly beer belly), I would curl up in a fetal position if I had a 300 pound lineman running at me.

But if the sentiment is he shouldn’t be allowed to play because he does not stand during the national anthem, then I most heartily disagree. As I said on the Facebook post I got the image from, nobody died for his “right” to stand. All through school we were told to stand for the pledge of allegiance, and the anthem. We were not given a choice. That’s not a right, that’s an obligation, a requirement if you will.

I agree with the two soldiers in lower right side, men and women died for his right to protest. If his chosen protest is to sit or kneel during the anthem, HE HAS THAT RIGHT!  I am a retired Army veteran. I dedicated 20 years of my life so that all Americans have the right to speak their mind, no matter how much you agree or disagree with them. Non-violent protest is an accepted form of self-expression in this country.  So much that’s it’s baked into our Constitution, to paraphrase the first amendment;

Prohibits Congress from making any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.” (source: Wikipedia)

It is well within Mr. Kaepernick’s First Amendment Right of Free Speech to take a knee. If I was on the bench with him I would be sitting or kneeling right with him.

After all what is he protesting? Only the discrimination and abuse that people of color (I would include Indigenous People as well, even if he doesn’t) have suffered at the hands of the white powers for centuries.  The colonization of America has been nothing short of either long-term slavery for the black people or near genocide for native Americans.

As a white male, I know I have had “white privilege” all my life. I drove for 14 years on an expired driver’s license. Luckily I was only stopped three times, once the officer didn’t even check my license, once he told me to have someone else drive and once I had to pay a $75 ticket. If I had been a person of color, or an immigrant, I’m sure I would have been in handcuffs all three times.

And just in case you’re wondering, the folks who are yelling at Mr. Kaepernick and calling him names have that right too.  It goes both ways. I may not agree with it, but I support your right to voice your opinion. Peacefully. Once you throw violence in the mix, I believe you lose that right.

But what do I know?

Peace,
B

Image source: The Other 98% Facebook page.

Long Ago On Twitter

There was a time when big corporations paid attention to their Twitter accounts. Some years ago I found a bag of rather old Fritos stuffed away behind some stuff in the pantry. I randomly tweeted that “I hope they wouldn’t kill me.”  Within minutes I had a response from Frito Lay on how to replace the bag at no cost to me. Despite the fact that they were well beyond their expiration date. They didn’t care. They wanted to help.

Another time I asked on Twitter how to remove White Out from a pair of pants. The “Goo-Gone” folks replied that their product would do it. Sadly it didn’t, but at least they reached out.

But things have changed. In recent time Wifey® and I have reached to AT&T (see here), we have tried not only on this blog, but Twitter and Facebook without a single damn response. And now in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, I cannot get our utility company (Florida Power & Light) to answer me. I have sleep apena, as such I need a CPAP machine to help me breathe at night. Couple that with my asthma/emphysema, the possibility of my stopping breathing in my sleep is greatly increased. Not to mention how hard it is to get up when the alarm goes off, provided of course that I’m not already up doing nothing but trying to get my head around me and breathe.

So what was once a great way to reach out to someone in a large corporation has turned to shit. They don’t care. Helping people in need does nothing for their bottom line, so they turn a blind eye and ear.

I feel very let down by this turn of events. I didn’t spend 20 years of my life defending this country in the military to be treated like this.  Not that my congressman cares either. His office staff has been AWOL for a week or more.

So all-in-all, I say “fuck it”.  I’m gonna drink my craftbeer as long as I have gas for my generator to keep the fridges running and money to buy it.

For those of you not in the paths of Hurricane Harvey or Irma, peace to you. Be thankful of what you have. For those that, like I, have been affected by either storm, best of luck. I’m ready to call it quits.

Just how hard is it to emmigrate to Scotland anyway?

Peace,
B

The Case Of The Missing Office Staff

The above picture is the door to the local office of Congressman Ron DeSantis (R- FL) here in the Port Orange city hall. It has been dark and locked for a very long time. The last I remember seeing any of the staff was more than a week ago. I understand they were off Monday September 4th for Labor Day (so was I). I vaguely remembering someone being there for half a day either Tuesday the 5th or Wednesday the 6th.  But I haven’t seen hide nor hair of them since.

Maybe they evacuated for the hurricane, or sustained major damage, I don’t know.  But why isn’t there a sign on the door stating why they aren’t there and how to contact someone if help is needed? Even if they can’t get in to post the sign they could reach out to our city manager’s office and we’d place the sign for them.

I ask, is this any way to run a government? I have had to advise two folks today that they have not been around for a week or so. I can’t really place blame on Rep. DeSantis, but is this how his office treats his constituents?

Sadly, I voted for Rep. DeSantis in November since he is supposedly strong in veteran’s affairs, and I am a veteran. I now regret that vote (the only Republican vote I cast too). And not for this, as there may be extenuating circumstances I am not aware of.  After all one can’t expect our elected representatives in DC to come running home for every little thing (even though the hurricane was a little bit more than a “little thing”), it’s his staff that’s AWOL.

I’ve worked 9 straight days now. My house still has minor damage, my yard is still littered with debris (although Wifey® has done more than her share in cleaning up stuff while her offfice was closed) and we still have no power. I see no reason, barring life threatening injuries, that the office should not be open. As a public servant, the office is there to support and help the public. Or at the very least, a posting with alternative contact information.

You would think a veteran would know this.  I say vote him out and let’s put someone who cares about the local people in his place.

Peace,
B