Finding the Silver Lining

With a lot of the chaos I’ve been dealing with, I have to look at the humor in the absurdity of things. A lot of times life is going to do what life does. No amount of trying to force situations to what you want them to be will make them ultimately work the way you want them to be, I believe.

For me, when I start to, in a way, let go and follow the flow, take a few course corrections, things will work out OK for me. Now, that’s not to say I haven’t tried to break my own ideas. Trust me, there have been things recently that have pushed me to places I didn’t want to go, but even with what I’ve considered wrong turns, I can still hold my head up high and considering the alternatives, I’ve come out of the struggles with small battle scars.

There was another health scare with my father over the weekend. It bothers me, but I’ve gotten to a point where I’m not dwelling over the issues coming up. Somehow, someway, he pulls through the episodes. My mother has her own health issues, which she downplays because of father’s issues. I know they’re older and bluntly, it’s just a matter of time before one of those calls will be THE CALL. All I can do is financially prepare for it. Because I have the focus, all of a sudden I’m sacrificing a lot to get the funds in order and getting to the financial goals are within reach. Years of trying to save and get out of debt hasn’t worked but with this pall hanging over me I’m able to cut, pay bills and save.

Crazy that it has taken the tragedy to get myself there but it’s what has to be done.

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Black History Month

Frederick Douglass illustration by John Jennings / Donald Trump photo by Nigel Parry for CNN. Dialog over photo Reginald Mizell

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Gingrich Has No Principles

Said on Fox & Friends by Newt Gingrich:

Schumer could conjure up tears for people being held in an airport but not for the hundreds shot and killed in Chicago?

Hmm, where is your concern Gingrich? Where are your tears for Chicago? When did you march in protest for the killings in Chicago? Did you speak out against it when you were running for President? No, you blame the victims and innocence that live in a desperate environment. You criticize people like Schumer, John Lewis and the millions of people who fear the reckless actions of this President.

What is disturbing to me, Mr. Gingrich is that you denounced Trump during the Republican primaries, knowing he was a loose cannon. You had principles at that time. Now, because of a blind sense of party loyalty, not American loyalty and principles, you support Trump to a dangerous degree. You want to mock and denigrate those who peacefully disagree with the President’s policy. Your mockery suggests that those who oppose the President are disloyal to America. You disagree with that assessment? I would argue that the former acting AG would disagree with you. Since the President fired her because she disagreed with his policy, his actions speak volumes of what happens when he is opposed.

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Reminder that Change is Slow

I read an article today that talked about how a black organization was exploiting the death of a black man, using the incident as “a springboard for an organized hate campaign.” The article talks about how community leaders are trying to promote harmony among the groups, but the “organized pressure group” was stirring trouble. While the writer of the article does admit the death of the black man was tragic, if blame for his death is focused on the people of the state of Mississippi, characterizing the whole state as racist, then those that are arguing that point of view must look to the state of Illinois, Chicago in particular, and blame them for the high crime in their state and city.

See, the young man that was killed was from Chicago.

Now, you might see where I’m going with this. “The city’s murder rate is increasing” was a statement President Trump mentioned recently. He has talked about the “carnage” of the inner cities and the high crime rate in Chicago, in particular. When there is a death of a black man by police, or by misguided citizens in the case of the young man in Mississippi, it seems easy for people to blame the victim. When groups come in to protest the death, the citizens of the cities close ranks. They distrust the outside people, often labeling them as outside agitators and organized pressure groups. There will inevitably be some “community leader” which translates into a docile minister with his own agenda in the town, who will talk about unity and peace. He is the one who will be in front of the cameras. He will be the one that the establishment will shake hands with, who will stand by the police and who can be counted on the calm peacemaker who will say it’s going to get better and we shouldn’t make the incident racial.

Carolyn Bryant, does that name ring a bell? Probably not. The incident I mentioned in the opening paragraph, about the black man whose death was exploited. That was from an article written by Tom Ethridge. The young black man he talked about in the article was Emmett Till. The article was written a few days after his death and in the article, he argued that the crime in Chicago, where Till was from, was far worse and deserved the focus of the NAACP instead of them coming to the South and causing trouble.

He did write “Two white men charged with the brutal crime are now in jail and a speedy trial within the month seems definitely assured.” That did happen and those two white men were acquitted after their speedy trial.

Carolyn Bryant is the white woman Emmett Till supposedly whistled at. I know it’s hard to imagine that a black man could be killed, just because he wanted a stick of gum, but that’s what happened. I say that sarcastically, of course, because we know black men and women get killed by police for all sorts of things. No matter what, when they are shot it takes less than a day for the blame to be shifted to them. I could go on about crime and justice and race in this country and it won’t resonate enough for people to do something. People were shocked and outraged back in 1955, but, as many white people at the time thought, if he hadn’t whistled at the white woman he wouldn’t have been killed.

It was recently reported that Carolyn Bryant lied in court. This is how the New York Post described what she testified to in 1955 in an article today –

She testified that Till had grabbed and threatened her inside the store – and that he had used an “unprintable” word when he told her he had been intimate “with white women before.”

“I was just scared to death,” she said in court.

Her conscious is clear all these decades later, relatively clear I guess.

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Waking Up to Alternative Facts

I woke up this morning, as I do most mornings, listening to the Alan Colmes Show. Even though its on a progressive station, the show is a FoxNews production. The show is the worst example of liberalism. The host comes off as a smug, thin skinned know it all who, at any moment, is willing to insult and berate the callers in a passive/aggressive way.

I listen because I get so angry at some of the callers and his response I can’t help but get out of bed.

Thankfully Colmes had a guest host this morning and he allowed callers to talk without attacking them. The topic was alternative facts and what probably shouldn’t have been a surprise was that most of the callers had no problems with alternative facts. The truth is, they saw alternative facts as the truth. It was the press and those who don’t support Trump promoting fake news to undermine President Trump.

It was enlightening and sad listening to callers talk about the press secretary and the inauguration crowd estimates. The line of justification of the press secretary statements went like this with most of the callers I heard. They believed the media, who hate Trump (they hate Trump was repeated a lot by callers), doctored or deliberately misinformed the public on the photos. The lighting proved that the photo from Trump was done in the early morning said one. The Trump crowd was packed in closer said another. Some agreed with the alternative fact by the press secretary that the white covering highlighted the empty spots and if the Obama photo had the same covering, it would show the same gaps.

If you ever watched the Maury Show when screaming mothers try to prove who is the father of their baby, the hilarious part for me is when the bickering parents, who probably barely graduated high school biology, suddenly are genetics experts who point out nose, eyes and other distinctive features that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt the man is the father of the child. That’s what the callers were like about the photos. The callers were ‘experts’ in lighting and Photoshop, discussing in certainty marks that definitely proved the point the administration was making about alternative facts.

Others used false equivalency to prove a point, just like the press secretary using the mistaken report of the MLK bust being removed to infer you couldn’t trust the press because they lied. Since Obama lied about something, and callers presented some rather weak examples of lies by Obama, that meant the crowd estimates his administration had to be wrong and the new administration was right.

The guest host tried to challenge callers on their assumptions and if the host backed them into a corner, the response was the same. All administrations lie so it doesn’t matter.

I’ve heard liberal hosts wondering why Trump would continue with his lies, just as insisting he lost the popular votes because of illegal voting. It plays to the 40%+ of the voter who elected Trump and see the attack on their President as an attack on them. They don’t want to investigate the information. They’re willing to accept the Maryanne Conway explanation of alternative facts because of the distrust they have of the liberal media. For over 20 years they have been fed concentrated information from right wing radio and FoxNews. They don’t want to question the news they get because it fits into their worldview. When something challenges that view they dismiss it.

First with fake news and now alternative facts, the Trump administration will have no problem in blocking attempts by the press to search for the truth. We’ve seen the blueprints with the crowd estimates. By tweeting that the bias liberal media is making false news and offering alternative facts, those citizens loyal to Trump and, more importantly, those citizens who feel right or wrong, good or bad, you support the elected President of the United States without question, the Trump administration will be able to sell their agenda to the public.

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The Miseducation of Kellyanne Conway

I heard about the Kellyanne Conway “alternative facts” statement. First, I have to say people should stop calling it falsehoods. Its lying so let’s not try to dress it as anything different. Second, I would suggest if all you’ve heard about the issue is the statement, you need to watch or listen to the complete exchange between Chuck Todd and Kellyanne. 

On my commute this morning I first watched the brief press conference that Sean Spicer gave on Saturday. He started off talking about the report about the removal of the MLK bust which was later corrected as being untrue. Spicer, in my opinion, led with the corrected report about the bust to bolster the “alternative fact” that the crowds at the inauguration were larger that the press reported. At one point, when he compared the transit use during the inauguration to the numbers of Obama’s second inauguration, he did, as one reporter said, compared apples to oranges. 

From my desktop computer and access to the internet, it was easy to see where the numbers the press secretary was giving were wrong, but what was incredibly curious was how he said how no one could tell how many people were in the pictures then used the distance and estimates of how many people could be in one space to ‘prove’ that the Trump inauguration had the most people ever.

It was a case of the new administration trying to convince the press and the public that their eyes were incorrect.

His performance was bad but Kellyanne on Meet the Press was an epic fail. At least I thought so. Listening to Kellyanne answer tough questions was like listening to a spoiled, privileged teenager explain how the vase in the living room got broken. First she gave her talking points. When Todd pointed out she didn’t answer the question she deflects the question. When he points out again she didn’t answer the question a few more times that’s when the infamous alternative truth was mentioned. 

By this point he’s frustrated with her not answering the question and presses more and she throws down the ‘you hate this administration you bad press people’ card. It was pure teenager tactics because she was in full you don’t understand us mode. She was you’re being a bully mode. She was in why weren’t as tough to X mode.

From my view she was pathetic and petty but I know supporters of this administration were cheering and giving themselves high fives. Just the quick feeds I saw from FoxNews made Kellyanne a victim. There will no doubt be memes and article links from conservatives I know that will praise her performance and will continue to blame liberals, the press and anti American agitators for the perception of a negative Trump.

There has been this much drama and today, Monday, is the third day of the Trump administration. We are going to bombarded with alternative facts and honestly I don’t think the American public will care a lot about it. Look, I follow the news and politics but I guarantee more people cared about the games yesterday than what Kellyanne Conway said on Sunday news shows. The next weeks, while Trump starts his job, I think people might have some concerns but there will be more talk about the Superbowl teams, commercials and Lady Gaga halftime show than policies and appointments by Trump.

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Trump and The New American Era

I wish everyone would remember from November 1 until now. I want everyone to remember the joy, sorrow or mixed emotions they felt leading up to election day. I want them to remember the day after the election. I want people to remember the days leading up to today, January 20, 2017.

I want you to really remember those feelings, what you felt in your head and your guts all those days between election day and now, because today at noon EST, when Donald J Trump puts his hand on the Bible and he officially becomes President of the United States, you will have no excuses, no more denials or speculations to hide behind.

Get it clear, I’m talking to the supporters and detractors of Trump. Since Trump came down that escalator, Trump has said and done things no other candidate has done. His supporters ate it up, calling him authentic and saying they liked his no-Washington style. Other that straight white men and the devoted female automatons that follow them, Trump has insulted every group in America. For the sake of winning, for the sake of defeating an enemy they felt was so evil, so dangerous to the American way of life, they decided Donald J Trump was the only person who could save America.

Those who dislike Trump, those people who were attacked by Trump, see him just as evil and detrimental to the country as his supporter feel that the Democrats, Clinton and Obama have destroyed the United States of America.

The reason I ask you to remember how you feel now, and it doesn’t matter if you like or dislike Trump, is because every administration comes into office making promises to the people and all of them fall short. Sometimes it spectacularly short. Sometimes they hit a good number of the goals. We forget how difficult a task the Presidency is, what a burden it is and we forget the enormous responsibility the Presidency is.

These last few hours of the Obama administration I’ve watched a lot of retrospectives of his time in office. I’ve come to a conclusion that a lot of people like myself would agree with. When Obama became the first BLACK president, to some he was the magic Negro who would absolve us of our racial wounds. To some he was the representative of Black people and had to be perfect and authentic at the same time. He had to represent not people but Black people. To some, and yes I’m going to be honest and harsh here, he was a nigger that had to be stopped by any means necessary.

Obama was never going to be President of all the people. He was always going to be the Black President, the Other President. He was, from jump, put into an impossible position. Political attacks against Obama would become racially charged, for the simple reason he was Black. Here’s something I’ve noticed on the retrospective on Obama. Before Obama, many of the political pundits were white, unless the discussions were on race. There was an old Cosby episode where Claire was invited to join a McLaughlin Group style Sunday morning show. By the end of the episode, even though she proved to be just as capable as them to discuss a range of topics, they told her she was only on for the black and women’s issues.

You had in Obama a capable Black man who has had a great many accomplishments during his time in office, but people dislike him. It shouldn’t be lost to anyone looking at the last few month that Obama, the Black President, is being succeeded by a man who considered Obama illegitimate. He questioned his citizenship and education. He was leader of the charge that demanded that Obama present a birth certificate proving he was born in America. When he produced paperwork, which was insulting to begin with, he declared them possibly fake and wanted to see a longer form. When that one was produced, again a humiliating thing, he still refused to publicly acknowledge he was satisfied until the closing days of the election. Even then, let’s be real, it was done with a wink and a nod, as if to say he had to say it.

When minorities talk about the struggle, when they talk about having to work twice as hard to get half as much Obama and Trump present the frustration. You can go to the finest schools, have the perfect family, with a loving and devoted spouse and seemingly scandal free children, and with that your still seen as the token Negro. Obama speaking about Trayvon Martin caused conservatives to have Fred Sanford heart attacks, yet Trump has hundreds, hundreds of statements where he crudely insults groups and he gets a pass.

Trump is who America wants. I’ve survived the Reagan administration barely, I struggled through the Bush years, now I have Trump. I’m not happy, but you Trump supporters, this is who you wanted because you disliked Obama and Clinton so much. That’s why I want you to remember this time well. When Trump becomes President, you have no excuse. This is who you wanted. I know you believe a lot on the left are too sensitive, watch what happens in the coming months and years. You have no excuse on what to expect because your brash, bully President-elect has no tried to hide who he is. You want Biff as President, now you have him.

Remember, this is what you wanted years later when you try to dismiss and make excuses for policies and the behavior of this President.

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Good Trouble

Something happened over the weekend, which will culminate on Friday, that demonstrates how frustrating, sad and delusional the citizens of the United States can be.

Over the weekend, Rep. John Lewis said he didn’t believe President-elect Trump was a legitimate President. John Lewis is an icon of the Civil Rights movement. You can read about his story in the graphic novel MARCH. There are countless documentaries detailing his role in the Movement. His sacrifice to the cause is without question.

Something we tend to forget about as Americans is we have the right to disagree with the status quo. If we didn’t rebel against what was status quo at any particular time, women would still have to get secret, back alley abortions. Same sex marriages would still be illegal. I would still have to drink from a separate water fountain and could be refused to be served at local establishments because of the color of my skin. Because we have broken former status quo barriers, many of those barriers broken because of the work and sacrifice of Rep. Lewis and others, we would like to believe America is stronger.

What people like Rep. Lewis reminds us is the struggle continues. The barriers don’t disappear overnight and there will be people who will push back against change. If you don’t continue forward, if you rest when you think the struggle is over, you could find the hard fought for progress slowly chipped away and one day you may find the foundation you thought was solid has been eroded.

When Barack Obama was elected President, many Americans wanted to declare our long standing problem with racism was over. The proof? America elected a Black President.

Remember when George Bush flew out on the aircraft carrier and, with that Mission Accomplished banner behind him, declared that the war was over? We wanted to believe it was over, and if critics said otherwise there were a good number of people at the time who would aggressively defend President Bush. We look back now, still in the war that was declared over and wonder how could we have been so wrong?

When Obama was elected President many were so willing to buy into the post racial rhetoric they were unwillingly to see the evidence against their perception. Let’s disregard the racial prejudice faced by Obama before the election. While he put his hand on the bible, Republicans were meeting to ensure he would be a one term President. Now, the town hall protests against Obamacare could have been seen as public disagreement; a backbone of free speech and democracy. Those people carrying guns at those rallies? They were just exercising their 2nd Amendment rights. The posters of the big lipped Obama with a bone through his nose? Again, it could be reasonably said they were exercising their 1st Amendment rights.

Let me ask you something? Name me 10 times in a six month period where President Obama name called the protesters, politicians, pundits or reporter that disagreed with his healthcare plan? I’ll do one better, name me 10 times in a six month period in his term when he has done that?

You can’t because it didn’t happen.

As every minority knows in this country, when you are the first, like it or not you are an example for every minority and you have to work twice as hard just to be equal in the eyes of the majority.

During the Trayvon Martin shooting, when Obama said Treyvon could have been his son, rhetorically, Republicans politicians jumped all over him, saying he was making the incident too racial. They said the same thing when he spoke out about other racial incidents. C’mon, let’s be real. Because many were so willing to believe racism was gone because we elected a Black President, we didn’t bring focus to the underlying racial and economic issues underneath the American fabric. We talked, we tweeted, we posted but we didn’t talk to each other, we talked over and past each other.

That growing resentment, tension and disillusionment happening under the surface allowed the carnival barker from New York, a person who throughout the campaign had numerous documented examples of bigoted, hateful speech from his own mouth and his operatives, to become President-elect. That does not take into account recent confirmed allegations from intelligence agencies that foreign powers actively plotted to disrupt our democratic process with false allegations.

If we discount the election rhetoric, if we want to say the actions during the campaign was good natured, yet rough politics, we would expect that someone who is being handed access to the White House, the military and the nuclear codes would realized the gravity of what they were inheriting and would act accordingly. You wouldn’t expect that person to be so concerned about what was said about them in a late night weekend show that they would tweet about it hours after the broadcast. You wouldn’t expect a news conference to turn into a shouting match.

When Rep. Lewis, rightfully called an icon of the Civil Rights Movement, after seeing what we all have seen during the current election cycle and the behavior of the President-elect, he exercised his right as an American citizen and declared he didn’t believe the President-elect was legitimate.

The President-elect did something that was jaw dropping shocking. In one tweet he showed himself to be a bully and ignorant. To imply that John Lewis is all talk and no action? Seriously? The President-elect posted in the tweet “All talk, talk talk – no action or results.”

This election and aftermath has provided many it can’t get any lower results but I’m officially over, done, finished. I stand with Rep. John Lewis in saying he’s not my President and furthermore I’m done smiling and trying to get along with supports to find common ground. I’m angry that Trump would actually be so petty to respond by tweet not just to Lewis but to everything. We elected him to the office of President of the United States, not as President of USA Elementary school. For all the people who felt pain from the Democrats, Obama and Clinton, out of all the candidates on the Republicans side, this is who you went with? He is a better choice than Clinton?

The challenge I made earlier, asking for 10 times in a six month in his full term in office Obama personally insulted an opponent? Trump is at 3 this week including Lewis and its Tuesday. Last week it was 4. The man constantly lies about facts documented and recorded on video and his cronies, including Republican officials, go on news shows and with a straight face lie to the American people. You all have computers, you can look up the information to verify but you would rather shout Fake News and plug your ears and cover your eyes.

Well, good luck with that.

I’m going to take to heart what John Lewis talked about and start causing Good Trouble. Since I am an American, not a second class citizen that must drink from a separate dispenser, I have the right to respectfully disagree with the illegitimate President.


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The Creative Struggle

I think this is the crazy realism for most would be creative individuals. If we had a patron who could keep us on track with the day-to-day functioning of society, there would be a lot of creative people who would have the time to comment and reflect on issue that might move thousand and millions of people to become active. The reality is, as socially motivated as we may be, a majority of creative people have to deal, by themselves, with financial obligations including providing themselves with a steady stream of income. It is hard to want to fight the power and report against the system when your income is dependent on an system that is fundamentally linked to the power structure you are against and the system is set up where the only way that you can survive on a basic level is to concede that you have to follow the rules of a system you oppose.

Like many people, I work a 9-5 barely make ends meet job. I would love if I could follow my passion and not deal with what I consider the day to day drudgery of corporate life. I’m an old guy and I’m realizing the passion I have in my heart, the drive I would love to embrace and follow, are not compatible with the reality of being a member of the American society and the compromises and unsaid acceptance I have made to this social stricture. I didn’t make the rules but as much as I resent it I have to follow some of the rules society sets up just so I have the voice to fight against a system I feel needs some improvement. A majority of people are more than willing to succumb to their pre-assigned role in society, unable and unwilling to look past themselves and fight for the ability to break away from the role they have been put into by forces outside of themselves.

It is hard to search within ourselves and take the leap of faith to break away from the social programming than forces us to think that we are cogs in a machine and there is nothing we can due to change our situation.

If we get lucky to get a patron that will support us, in most cases the reality is that patron has focused on us because we support the causes and concerns they have. In other words, the patron isn’t supporting us because of our independent voice and autonomous spirit. They are supporting us because we are, ultimately, an independent source that confirms their established narrative that seems new and exciting. Unknowingly, we are a propaganda arm to their agenda.

I know that if I had a patron that could take care of my basic financial needs, I would feel free to comment, express and dialog with a lot more freedom on subjects I feel passionate about. The reality is there are very few people that can reach that level of freedom and the ability of really being able to speak your mind with someone that has that much control of you is questionable. The bigger reality is, the patron is holding my hand because I ultimately support their worldview. The awareness of the issue stems from does the patron independently agree with my views or is the patron using me as a shoehorned validation of their views? Am I nothing more that a puppet? Even if we agree on basic principles, a person who is linked to me who has overwhelming power and influence over me can replace me if I stray from their agenda.

Another aspect to think about is if you are assured that you are removed from the struggles of survival most of us face, how true are the assessment you make about oppression and injustice? If I have no stake in the struggle, my support in the struggle can be questioned because, and I know this sounds odd, but if someone has you back and you are favored with them, when things go south and your fellows face consequences without support, you feel confident the patron will protect you. You feel apart from the folks who have no safety net, no protector and no advocate. Putting it in recent political term, how realistic is it to assume that a former reality show star and supposed financial mogul is going to understand the struggles I face in my daily life? How much can expect that person to sympathies with the decisions I have to make every day?

The realistic issue creators have to face is many of us will not have patrons and that is probably a good thing because when we are connected to the struggle we understand the struggle on a personal level. Something that politicians have forgotten on both sides of the political spectrum is that the average American realizes is that politicians, for the most part, are less concerned about listening to the average American as they are as securing their vote. When the focus is securing the vote, then using manipulation and using selective information to sway opinion is an acceptable practice. The person can justify using half-truths and questionable information to manipulate the public because the belief is that the ultimate goal is the right direction for the population to follow. The unfortunate path of following that train of thought is the population doesn’t have all the facts and they will base their decisions on half-truths and suppositions based on incomplete information.

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I just listened to 30 minutes of Trump talk from a group of Trump supporters. Funny, right now CNN has something on called why do Trump supporters dismiss Russian hacks reports. The group I just listened to explained that and more.

So this group I listened to, about 15 blue collar solid American workers, were at my job getting ready to do maintenance work. The first thing I heard one of them say was “That Kellyanne lady’s hot for and old lady.” “And smart too,” someone else added.

Yeah. I had to listen to what they were going to say.

It was seriously like listening to talking points spewed by some right wing radio host. The media was behind all the hate against Trump. Like the tag line I saw on CNN they didn’t care about Russia because the media was blowing stuff up. Of course, these guys weren’t fans of Obama. He fucked stuff up was how one guy put it.

Every day I get reminders of how seriously messed up we are as a country and every day I wonder should I just shut up and laugh at people as the world goes to Hell. I’m not that cold yet. I still care and want to let my voice be heard. I’m just seeing a lot of people not caring anymore. That group of Trump supporters were proud of not following the news closely. They were knee jerk reaction folks. 

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