Category Archives: politics

A word about why American politics are so f—-d up.

Warning: this post may be offensive to everyone on earth. Better to close it now and get it over with.
Since the inauguration of Donald Trump as President, protests and riots have swept across the nation.  The new President has signed executive order after executive order, and the country is more polarized than ever.  The more I look at things, the more I can see the origins of a lot of these issues and it comes down to a saying by the late pro football coach Vince Lombardi:

“Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”

Somewhere along the way, both the left and the right decided that their way was the not only the right way, but the only way to run things.  Instead of being open to new ideas and practicing moderation, extremism took root, aided by the absolutism made fertile by talk radio hosts, many of whom have turned out to be, themselves, outright hypocrites.  Both left and right pointed the finger at each other, decrying the other’s way as “evil” and “corrupt,” tossing about buzzwords like “income redistribution,” “globalism,” “market freedom” and “indoctrination.”

In the end, both sides are guilty of fomenting national discord for the sake of their own ambitions and avarice.  Both extremes are akin to fans of opposing teams in the Super Bowl who use the exact same offensive and defensive strategies.  The only differences are the cities represented, team colors and the one massive variable:  personalities.

This year’s Super Bowl is a great example. New England’s Tom Brady is a person who draws absolute reactions.  You either love him or you hate him.  You either admire his guile for exploiting lax rules enforcement with “deflategate,” or he is a cheater.  For Atlanta, you either love Matt Ryan for his stoicness in games and his ability to heave the ball downfield with stunning accuracy, or you hate him for his occasional post game showboating and arrogance or the demands of owner Arthur Blank.  Long story short, team affiliation and cults of personalities determine the fan base.

America’s political landscape is much the same way anymore.  It’s no longer about “what’s right for America.”  Rather, many citizens have become so fed up with the demands of either side, their rhetoric, and the approach to life their supporters take, the “win at all costs” attitude has permeated American politics.  You either love Donald Trump and what he espouses, or you loved Hillary Clinton.  Anyone who isn’t on the side of an extreme allegiance is a gutless moderate, or an independent who is immediately picked apart for which side of the ideological aisle they most identify with, regardless of if their heart is good.

We are no longer a nation which compromises for the good of all; we are a country obsessed with winning and being “right,” even if being right means may the good of the nation be damned, so long as our side prevails.  We no longer see shades of gray, or the empty spaces in between the argument where facts get lost in the name of victory.  It is now black and white terms:  good and evil, order and chaos, life and death, left and right….and zero in between allowed.

Both sides are guilty on this one.  The far right has pushed gun rights, the far left gun restriction.  The far right pushes free market and free will as the answer to everything, while the far left pushes government as the solution.  Both sides point the finger at each other when something goes wrong.  A great idea is only a great idea of our side came up with it.  If one side comes up with a truly great idea, the other side will do everything they can to stop it, and vice versa.  Why?  Because it wasn’t their idea. They can’t take credit, so they want no part of it.

This is where our nation has been taken. Compromise is death.  Bipartisanship is evil.  The left will destroy the rights of all.  The right will destroy the rights of all.  They are both the same, but they are different.  The left wants people to be lifted up, but so does the right.  The only difference is the means it happens and who at the very top benefits.  It’s old money family rivalries on a global scale.  The same monster with two heads and the same master manipulating both heads, in this case the people are the brains inside the heads, to fight each other.

But why?

Did it not occur to anyone here that if a world leader with access to nuclear weapons gets into a pissing match with another world leader with nuclear weapons in this age of “pride before prudence,” things could end VERY VERY BADLY? This is not the old Cold War era where world leaders understood the concept of mutual assured destruction. In this era where all that matters is winning, regardless of the cost, MAD isn’t really so crazy anymore.  It’s considered “acceptable risk.”

That said, here’s something think about:  all the protests and guns on earth won’t mean shit if there’s nothing left to protest or no one to kill. Yes, people are angry at each other and there are powerful people making a ton of money off pitting us against each other, but do you really think any of them give a damn about YOU when the mushroom clouds start rising? They already planned for this years ago.  At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, anyone who thinks those in position of true power haven’t found some way to gain from a world atomic holocaust are sadly mistaken.  They get to rebuild the world, only the way they see fit.

We can stop all this madness, but we need to focus on what we see happening, not the rhetoric being said or the memes being posted. Focus on what’s real instead of what is imagined. We still have a judicial system and civilian control of our military. I know people are saying we need to strike “just in case.” What is that going to accomplish? To all of you wanting a civil war to settle it all, do you really think that dying for SOMEONE ELSE’S CHECKBOOK is more important than the ideals espoused in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence, because I guarantee you that most of your radio and television pundits and commentators, liberal or conservative, couldn’t remember the Bill of Rights, much less which state first ratified the constitution.  They CAN, however, remember their bank account number and safe combination, easily.

Those want to die, or are okay with friends and loved ones dying, to impose their worldview of America on everyone else, are EXACTLY the sort of danger George Washington spoke of in his farewell address. We need to take a long hard look in the mirror as a nation, stop worrying about who is offended by who said what and what injustice was committed by people long dead, and instead focus on the injustices being committed right now, against us by each other. We need to look at our current immigrants who may not have gotten here legally, but are law abiding otherwise and a great source of tax revenue.  We need to look at our homeless and see how much of it is true laziness and how much of it is actually mental illness which, once treated effectively, can unlock the minds of potential geniuses.  We need to feed our hungry children so they can feel compassion and grow into compassionate adult instead of bitter children in adult bodies vying for the power they never knew in youth.  We need to help our veterans who our leaders have come to view as similar to sanitary napkins; something to absorb political blood in photo ops and rituals, but disposed of once they’ve outlived their usefulness.  We need to address the reality that racial tensions exist not so much as the result of what happened over a century ago, but the mistrust formed between races because of old fears turned into old wives tales, which have in turn become cultural norms.
Finally we need to remember and accept that assimilation does not mean elimination.  A people can become law abiding productive citizens without being forced to abandon their cultures and customs.  Immigrants should have to learn our language, history and abide by our laws but should not be required to abandon their heritage and culture in their own homes.  

Yes, there will always be those who wish to harm us, but we should never do the work for them, and our current political climate is doing just that.  We are truly doing our enemies’ dirty work.  We can, we must, learn to listen to the better angels of our nature.  That is what a “more perfect union” is about, after all.

FRIENDSHIPS:  Healthy, and unhealthy things which end them

If only all friendships could be this strong

One of the hardest lessons we ever learn is that not every friend we regard as “close” or “best” will be there for us through everything.  You can wish upon a star, mash bloody fingertips together, and pinky swear all you want, the fact is people change, and that means friendships evolve or end.  Usually it is the latter.

There are a ton of theories and hierarchies about friendships and relationships, all of them based in some sort of study.  Here are just some observations of my study of the greatest teacher of all, life.

Most friends are seasonal:  Yes, some friendships can be lifelong, but most friendships only last a short amount of time.  Everything from professional associations to changing tastes can affect a friendship.  People often drift apart as time goes on, and it’s a natural rhythm, just like a season’s change.  Let them be them and you be you.

Money does end friendships:  Let’s be honest – money can and does affect friendships.   Those of means can do things and meet people others can’t.  They often have very different world views and when friends who started out the same financially end up in diametrically different positions, the relationship is often strained.  Resentment can and does often take root and, despite the best efforts friends often make, even the strongest relationships have failed when others plant the dread “why is he/she your friend? He’s not like us” seed in our minds.  The scene in Pretty in Pink where the one rich boy says to the other about Molly Ringwald’s character “she’s not from our world” is, sadly, quite accurate in many cases.

Politics often end friendships, too:  If there is anything this recent election cycle has proven, it’s that politics can fracture and end even the best friendships.   No amount of “besties” could save many relationships affected by vehemently oppositional opinions.  Liberals and conservatives often like to associate with like-minded folks and, as much as this is a detriment to our society as a whole, it is a reality which has destroyed many a good friendship.  In addition, politics often bring out the worst traits and prejudices in people, which also end friendships.

Romantic relationships are nasty things:  A boyfriend or girlfriend can end a relationship with a close friend faster than almost anything.  When you hear them whisper or say directly to you how they don’t like you, that’s a signal you’re on borrowed time.  Your friendship may reboot later but, chances are, with a massive loss of trust and vastly changed circumstances.

Unrequited feelings:  Well, this is a big one.  There are a lot of people who decry the “friend zone”, but it is based in a sound, common sense concept.  Some friendships develop into romantic relationships which are extremely healthy while others, not so much.  In same cases, there is an attraction in both sides but, for whatever reason, one of the friends is either afraid to pursue or wishes things to stay “status quo” because they are afraid to lose the friendship.  It’s time for a reality check:  a friendship with admitted romantic, unrequited feelings on one side are nearly impossible to maintain.  The emotional pain and damage caused can last for years and talking about other relationships only causes further trauma.  It is, actually, better to end the friendship than it is to keep it dragging along despite the wishes of either side.  This is the one instance where an ending of the friendship is usually in everyone’s best interest.  It’s all about growth, and one person cannot grow when they are pining for the other with no hope of anything in the future.  It is truly unfair to the one who has the feelings and if the one who doesn’t can’t see that, there’s even more profound issues which need to be addressed.

May your friendships all be rich and joyful and may you all enjoy a wonderful happy life.  Remember this one quote:  if you aren’t losing friends, you aren’t growing as a person.

Clinton’s defeat is a lesson in the Law of Unintended Consequences

President Barack Obama’s term is winding down, and there is much apprehension about President-elect Donald Trump, and a ton of “why’s” about Hillary Clinton’s defeat.  Washington Post writer Christopher Ingraham, in a rather insightful article, focused on – pardon the pun – the political elephant in the room:  those rural white voters who, rather than supporting Donald Trump, flipped to Hillary Clinton, bucking the national demographic trend.  What one voter gave as his reasoning for voting for Hillary was stark – Trump struck him as being like a “bomb,” and hoping Congress holds the new President accountable.  Another voter, Ed Dahle, a retired school teacher in rural Red Lake County, Michigan (61 percent of their citizens voted for Trump), gave the Washington Post an honest, yet brutal, assessment as to why Clinton lost.

“When Hillary was up to speak (during the debates), some of the people just did not feel that ease of conversation,” he said. “They felt there was like a screen or something between them and her. And that’s why so many people turned.” – Retired teacher Ed Dahle, speaking to the Washington Post.

That quote really cuts to the quick of the matter.  Yet there is another factor which many folks simply refuse to acknowledge, and that is that Clinton’s loss may have, indeed, been the result of the Law of Unintended Consequences, particularly President Obama’s administration and governing style.  Obama’s own administration had been reeling from a series of policy gaffes and “activism through inaction” with regards to the wave of attacks on police offers throughout the nation.  Also, many in the media openly lamented how the President seemed to have “checked out” over the past few years, and experts feared Obama’s trademark stoicism was fostering an impression of indifference to the problems faced by rural and working Americans, especially those suffering from skyrocketing health insurance premiums caused by the Affordable Care Act’s numerous provisions and loopholes.  There were also pundits who warned Obama’s body language and attitude towards Republican voters, and even moderate independents who supported him in 2008 and 2012, could badly damage Clinton’s chances of victory.

RELATED:  Right and Left agree – Obama has “checked out.”

In short, President Obama had a historic opportunity as president and, frankly, became Hillary’s own worst enemy.

Let’s be fair; President Obama, beyond his status as the “First Black President,” actually accomplished some pretty impressive things.  Even Trump admitted parts of the Affordable Care Act are useful and must be maintained.  Obama was the President who gave the order to eliminate Osama Bin Laden, and did have a hand in deals to keep General Motors and Chrysler afloat, saving thousands of American jobs.  His administration also maintained or expanded programs to help mortgage holders navigate the troubled waters of the Great Recession, extended unemployment benefits to keep millions out of poverty, and his administration was able to turn the economy around, albeit slowly, to a trend of relative growth, even if it remains sluggish.  His work continued the job of cleaning the Wall Street-produced economic dog poop, which began under former President George W. Bush.  In the hyper-partisan political environment he faced, those things were no small potatoes.

Unfortunately, Obama committed a major error; he surrounded himself with many advisors who were disciples of the Saul Alinsky philosophy of radicalism.  Though Obama’s term began with an inauguration speech reminiscent of the days of JFK’s Camelot, it quickly devolved into an administration steeped in arrogance, leftist ideology, and an impression of condescension towards everyday Americans.  Naming GE CEO Jeff Immelt, who openly campaigned for Obama during his 2008 campaign and dangerously blurred the lines between media objectivity and political activism, as a policy advisor was bad enough (GE had over a billion dollars in government contracts in their interest), but bringing in noted 60s radical Van Jones as another policy advisor further damaged his credibility.  Polarizing figure after polarizing figure visited the White House, and it only solidified the impression, however misguided, many conservatives shad of Obama being a left-wing globalist who didn’t care about mainstream Americans.  Obama’s attitude towards this appeared to be one of “I’m the boss, deal with it,” which only made things worse for him.    In fact, statements made by Obama about Republicans having to “eat your peas” over the 2011 debt ceiling crisis, and statements about being able to bypass Congressional authority through Executive Actions with his statement of “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone” further cemented his image as an elitist insider who was completely out of touch with average Americans.

RELATED:  2014 article – Obama speaks about Executive Actions

Then there was the matter of Hillary Clinton being his Secretary of State.

When Hillary’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, made Madeline Albright the first female Secretary of State, she was regarded as capable, respected and not a ladder-climbing political elitist and egomaniac.  Albright’s term may not have been the most stellar in American history, but she held a “first woman to…” distinction.  Hillary was not a “first anything,” which absolutely chafed her, and she was determined to show how tough she was as Secretary of State, but that rubbed many international leaders the wrong way, particularly Russia, which accepted Hillary as a matter of course, but took her about as seriously as the Soviet hockey team took the Americans in 1980.  The “reset button” moment between Russian’s Vladimir Putin and Clinton was regarded by many in Moscow as a joke and, for that reason, Hillary later appeared to have been hoodwinked.  Further, Clinton’s reactions and answers at Congressional hearings about the Benghazi attacks, and the subsequent email controversies involving her use of a private email server, further painted her as an out of touch elitist, which dogged her to the very end.

Where President Obama figured into this was a character flaw he suffered from; an extraordinarily awful sense of timing and proportionate response.  Though he may have had myriad good intentions, Obama picked the worst possible times to stay silent or, when he acted, did so with either far too much or far too little authority.  In the case of Clinton, Obama appeared to be protecting a fellow Democrat and heir-apparent to the Oval Office in his lack of action while, it the cases of police shootings in Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore, he appeared too aggressive towards reigning in rogue officers and departments.  When riots hit those and other cities, and later, a rash of murders of police officers hit the nation, his responses (or, in some cases, lack thereof) created an impression, justified or not, of a President enabling a culture of vengeance for what African Americans, and other minorities, suffered over the years.  Despite the historical facts of race relations in America,  Attorney General Eric Holder’s approach, which was portrayed as and, in some ways was, indeed, activist, did little to help Clinton’s campaign. In fact, it is possible that Obama’s own stubborn loyalty to the activists within his cabinet gave Americans the impression he was blinded to, or simply ignored, the greater issue; that his responsibility to maintain calm and the rule of law as President outweighed his personal desire to seek justice for those who had been oppressed and targeted.  Worse still, Obama’s own staff displayed a historic ineptitude with the media.  A President who had the opportunity to bridge the racial and economic divides between Americans instead embraced an open policy of activism and radical transformation.  In short, rather than taking a moderate approach, President Obama went for too much, too fast, too soon.

This did more than just empower Trump supporters, it galvanized them as never thought possible.  Those whom embraced Trump’s bombastic and oft-bigoted rhetoric – did so because of a feeling of his being able to relate to them. Feelings of anger and blind rage over being abandoned by their own country transformed into action, and it led to a movement whose goal was singular in approach – strike back at, and destroy, anything which even carried a stench of political correctness.

The pendulum had begun to swing from one extreme to another.

Now for a dose of uncomfortable reality:  Trump pulled off the greatest marketing ploy since Davey Crockett, packaging himself as a larger-than-life, all-American business hero who could pull the nation out of what supporters felt was a cesspool of moral relativism, liberal softness, and political correctness, and back to the “good ol’ days,” reminiscent of a time when everyone “got their hands dirty” and “knew their place.”  It also, sadly, unified and motivated hate groups and bigots who believed a Trump victory would give them license to act out in their interests and “take back America.”  Hillary’s campaign  approach, which flip-flopped between elitist stoicism and firebrand speeches, some of which sounded more like shrill temper tantrums than cohesive calls to actions, gave Trump an easy target.  Knowing it was in its twilight days, Obama’s own administration seemed to have checked out as much as the President, leading to wise decisions, such as re-investigations of Clinton’s activities while running the State Department, being made at ridiculously bad times for the Democratic nominee.

Clinton’s loss may have also illustrated a cruel irony; that being her defeat was, at least in small part, the unintended consequence of an administration which was in the most out-of-sight, out-of-mind mode anyone had seen since the final days of the Nixon regime.  Had Obama’s cabinet and Hillary’s campaign displayed more tactical wisdom and taken Trump more seriously in the early going that it did, it is very likely Trump might not have even locked down the GOP nomination.  Of course, sadly, hindsight is always 20/20.

It is said it takes at least a generation to even begin a fair assessment of an American President.  Jimmy Carter is regarded as one of the worst, but better than James Buchanan (sorry, if you allowed the nation to fracture into civil war, you will always be at the bottom) and Nixon (you can’t overcome resigning in lieu of impeachment).  Ronald Reagan is listed as among the best, but Abraham Lincoln, FDR and George Washington will always beat him (you can’t beat presidents who held the nation together in its first days, a civil war, or a global conflict against fascism.)  So where will Obama likely end up?  The smart money says somewhere in the upper middle; after Reagan, Ike and Jefferson but well ahead of Clinton, Bush “43”, and Wilson.  He was not the best by a longshot, but far from the worst.  Call him a divider if you will, but so was Hoover, LBJ, Jackson and Nixon.  You can also call him a radical, but so was FDR, Jefferson, and Lincoln in their ways.  What’s required is objectivity and perspective, and that will not be easily achieved for at least a generation.  In the meantime, Obama and Clinton both need to take a long, hard look in their mirrors and ask themselves the classic JFK question.

Rather than what the country did for (or against) them, but what did they truly do for their country.

What those without long-term careers understand 

The current economic climate may look bright, but millions of people are discovering their jobs are, in fact, disappearing before their eyes.  Many who are in professions which are high demand are having little trouble finding work, but that is the exception rather than the rule, and not everyone has the mental, emotional and physical aptitude to be in medicine, law enforcement, engineering or information systems.  For those of us who don’t possess those skills, the job hunt can be a daunting one and careers can be hard to build.  Here are some things those of us who have not been able to enjoy long term careers understand:

Any change which makes us stronger or wiser is good, regardless of the pain involved.

It’s always a battle to prove ourselves:  like it or not, many folks who aren’t able to create long term careers find ourselves in situations where we are constantly having to show our value to an employer. We have to scrap for everything and have had very little handed to us.  We truly earn our keep.

Our “black book” has only a few trusted connections:  people with long term career generally enjoy tons of connections and develop relationships with several influential decision makers.  For those of us who don’t have this, networking becomes about who we can trust instead of who can get us ahead.  The people we know will “come through” mean more than someone who promises the moon, but can’t deliver.

Hobbies often add to our value:  some of us write, some draw, some sing.  We all have one thing in common – we have a hobby, an interest, which rounds us out makes us a valued commodity.  Our outside pursuits are often determined by what they bring to the workplace and how they can make us feel more comfortable in our job and keep us relaxed and centered.  Many folks with long term careers become “the job” and don’t deviate from it; for those of us whose career experience is diverse, it’s our outside interests, not our careers, which define our sense of self.

We RARELY get shackled by the “golden handcuffs”:  we all know that person who had the chance of a “dream job” but committed the cardinal sin of personal finance:  they became reliant on bonuses or overtime.  Those of us without long term careers learned something around the third or fourth new job – anything over BASE is “found money.” You never, ever rely on it.  That sort of mentality is a sanity killer and burnout guarantee.

We can relate to many different types of people:  being in one career for a long time has great stability benefits, but it also makes it difficult to relate to someone who doesnt speak your “professional vocabulary.”  I know several people in long term careers who do not associate with people outside their work much, simply because others don’t “get” their job or understand the myriad jargon they use.  It’s sad, but true.  Those who don’t have long term careers learn how to relate to many different people from different professional backgrounds.

We adjust to change more effectively:  those of us who have not been in one career our whole lives tend to accept change much more readily because we know change is a constant.  It’s life.  When a career is the same for long periods of time, upheaval can be very traumatic and it can even wreak major emotional and mental havoc.  Those of us with multi career lives are able to “shift on the fly” with relative ease.

Finally…

We are not married to our job:  loving your job is great.  Having a profession which gives you satisfaction is beautiful.  When you feel tired or burned out, career satisfaction is no longer relevant.  It become a just another paycheck.  Service oriented jobs are a chore, and professional work is all about the benes and the scratch.  Those of us without long term careers can bring a sense of perspective to others because we don’t allow our work to define us, we define ourself through who we are and what we love.

I hope this post offers some solace to those without long term careers.  On a personal note, I had felt that not “finding my place” in the career world was a detriment, but I’ve discovered these factors actually make me a very strong person from a career standpoint.  I found it healing to write.  Comments are always welcome.

Fifteen things men need to start doing right now.

Well fellas, I’m about to make fifteen statements I’m sure will piss off “traditional men” or “men who pee standing up.”  This is a list of things we, as a gender, really need to start doing today and if we can’t figure out why, then we are our own worst enemy now. 

Face it, the “gender war” is a lost cause.  The reason we can’t win is because of our own stupidity.  Rather than actually thinking with our hearts and heads simultaneously, we chose to think with our gonads.  That never ends well.  So here we go, with fifteen things we men need to start doing right this very second:

  1. Quit bullying each other based on whether we are “real men.”  For Christ’s sake, last I checked, a “real man” is as subjective as political ideology.  There is no real absolute except basic decency to others. 
  2. Accept there is a gender pay gap and figure out where and why it exists.  Look if we don’t set the damn example, nobody else will do it.
  3. Quit saying “whatever” during an argument with a woman and walking away.  Our strength is supposedly poise:  let’s show it, dammit!
  4. Get the hell away from “crazy” women (or men), asap!  News flash:  if there’s nobody interested in their behavior, they have to eventually look in the mirror and say “maybe it really is me,” right?  Well, we can get away anyway.
  5. Quit justifying every insult of a peer on “moral” grounds.  If you claim to be a Christian, remember Christs prime commandment; love your neighbor as you would love me.  Everyone else, Golden Rule applies.
  6. Stop expecting anyone to “complete” us.  It won’t happen.
  7. Focus on the good things we do in this world.  There are enough stereotypes; let’s actually tell the stereotype creators where they can go.
  8. Quit denying “rape culture” exists.  Instead, listen for once and do nothing but listen.  More important, remember what was said and use it to make you better.  If you are already a “good guy,” keep being good, but call out those who hurt others.
  9. Don’t be afraid to tell a woman when she’s wrong.  Sorry ladies, you’re just as wrong as we are.  We just never figured out how to tell you “you’re wrong and you know it” to your face in a civil manner.
  10. Accept that in most cases, we will be portrayed as pigs and lying sacks of crap.  We haven’t helped our cause. But take some comfort in knowing the many of the very same people who scream that often do the exact same thing.
  11. Stop thinking life’s not fair.  Life is what you make it.  Sometimes you lose for a long time, then hit a crazy patch of winning. 
  12. Remember that losing isn’t bad unless it’s your freedom or your life. Otherwise, losing simply is.
  13. Stop blaming a woman (or another man) for rejection. If you made a mistake, correct it for next time.  If you didn’t, take the punch and move forward and accept it’ll hurt like hell sometimes.  Let karma handle the rest – the more class you show, the more you attract the person you want.
  14. Realize that some men will be stronger, faster, smarter, better looking, richer, or better in bed than you.  However it is almost impossible to find someone who is better than you at all those things put together.
  15. Finally, quit worrying about finding a mate.  The saying “let the game come to you” is applicable in everything in life.  The harder you try, the less it’ll happen.  Relax and unfocus yourself – our wildest dreams in life usually happen when we aren’t trying or stopped caring.

And yes I am expecting some screaming about this from both men and woman.  Fire away!

Penalties offset, replay the election

Football season is in full swing, the World Series is nearly the final gun, and our elections are almost decided.  With that extremely mixed metaphor out of the way, it’s time to pull out the most non feared weapon in my writing arsenal, the Political and Cultural Penalty Flags.

You’ll put your eye out! Oh wait, wrong blog!

Unsportsmanlike Conduct:  Donald Trump for claiming a system is rigged and fixed before those who rig it have a chance to rig it.  Loss of quiet time with Melania, automatic media scrunity.

Illegal Procedure:  Hillary Clinton for multiple email server infractions.  Half the distance to Weiner, loss of credibility. 

Holding:  President Obama for not taking numerous opportunities to thank good police officers for their work.  Loss of legacy.

Pass Interference:  Bill Clinton.  You do the math.  Ten grope penalty loss of flirting privileges.

Unnecessary Roughness:  North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple for his treatment of native lands with the Standing Rock situation.  Loss of respect and ton of bad karma.

Holding:  Media for refusing to allow third party candidates in the presidential debates.  Five rating point penalty, still in business.

Roughing the quarterback:  Congress for overriding a veto.  Five seat penalty, automatic “Who cares?”

Intentional grounding:  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for the whole “BridgeGate” mess.  Loss of respect from voters.  Automatic end of career.

Offensive pass interference:  Joe Biden for saying “oh GOD” about Anthony Weiner during a CNN interview.  Half the distance to the end of his term, fourth down.

Illegal formation:  Debbie Wasserman-Schultz for her role in Bernie Sanders defeat in the primary.  Donald Trumps questionable charities and donations to Florida attorney general Pam Bondi.  Penalties offset, replay the bonehead moves.

Booth reviews:

  • Election machine issues in multiple states.
  • Dakota pipeline treaty violations.
  • Obamas legacy.
  • Hillary Clintons email server.

Illegal procedure:  Vladimir Putin for talking about our election.  Ten warhead penalty, loss of next guerilla war.

Face mask:  Anyone wearing a Suicide Squad or Deadpool costume this year.  Loss of action, turnover on downs.

Too many men on the field:  Game of Thrones.  Walking Dead.  Deadpool. Oh wait, that’s too many LIVE men on the field.

Encroachment:  This blog for ripping off too much of Dave Barry’s style.  By rule, this post is over.

My greatest fears for America realized, my greatest hope still possible

This is what I’ve feared ever since I left college in 1997.

We’ve reached a crescendo of anger and partisanship in our nation.  Those who we once believed were our best and brightest, offices which we once looked to for inspiration and hope, are now becoming synonymous with scandal and mistrust.  We have a media which is so steeped in ideology on both sides, common sense has vanished.  The notion of an America where anyone can become a success with hard work, a little luck, and some smarts is beyond endangered.  It’s been eviscerated.

Everyone is angry at everyone.  Family and friends are no longer speaking to each other, separated by ideology, preconceived notions, income disparity and occupation.  Ours was a nation once admired for its ability to take the best features of any culture, any religion, and race, and make it our own.  The ability to merge, to meld it all together into one made us the envy of the world.  Today, we have allowed those who wish to do us harm to claim the ultimate victory.  We’ve allowed them to drive us apart.

Worse still, we have allowed others to profit from our divisions.  We have embraced them and entrepreneurs and innovators instead of what they really are:  unpatriotic predators.

We are better than this.  We don’t need tolerance or safe zones now.  We don’t need gun control or fear mongering or opportunistic politicians.  We don’t need platitudes, slogans, investigations, accusations or organizations.  We don’t need moguls taking advantage of situations to enrich themselves.  What is needed is what we fear the most, the hardest possible thing we could ever do as a people.

We need to wake up and accept that fact we cannot live In the past anymore.

Progress happens.  Forward movement is part of life.  Change is reality.  Regression is what backwards societies such as North Korea and Iran have done.  It’s what ISIS wants. Regression, for a nation such as ours, is death.  The question for us is why we resist change so fervently.  Why are some changes so embraced, while some are so repellent, and the only thing I could think of was an analogy I once offered a longtime friend.  This man, who is an avid tea connoisseur, was asked a practical question; if your doctor told you that tea is lethal for you and that you must stop drinking it now and never touch it again, could you handle it?  He admitted it was a very disturbing idea. 

This is where we are now.  We are a people facing tough choices we don’t want to make because it upsets our lifestyles, our narratives, or our worldview.

We’ve gone from a society of reasonable people to a society of folks who have been told what they must do or can’t do.  We have a President who once told Americans we had to “eat our peas,” like a grouchy father scolding oppositional children.  We have a slew of pundits on talk radio accusing the party in power of everything short of killing puppies.  Whether it is true or not is irrelevant – the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” is gone.  We have become a society governed by our passions, those passions fomented by those co-opting the message of well-meaning, passionate citizens, and twisting them to fit a very profitable narrative.  Rather than listen to the better angels of our nature, we are now embracing our greatest demons, both past and present.

Our Founders were skeptical of the People governing directly, and I can see why.  We are no longer a nation of individuals who have the greater good at heart.  Ours is no longer a nation which asks what we can do for our country, as President Kennedy once called upon every American to do.  Nor is it the nation which once saw morning dawning again, and President Reagan once declared.  We aren’t even a nation which only has to fear fear itself as FDR once declared our only enemy to be.  We are beyond a nation by the people, for the people, and we have allowed ourselves to become too involved in foreign entanglements.  We are no longer a nation of laws, but of men and women.  Ours is a people captivated by cults of personality, enthralled by fantasy, obsessed with scandal, and unable to move forward out of a desire for vengeance and bloodlust.  We no longer forgive; we retaliate. We are near nihilists, but accept everything told by so-called “leaders” as gospel.

We can come back, if we want.  We can focus on the good in our nation, if we would stop looking at each other with suspicion.  We can end the hatred if we stop wondering how we can “get over” on each other.  We can rebuild if we start focusing on rolling up our sleeves and working on repairs.  We can stop the insanity if we realize that our greatest strength is the very thing which many regard as our greatest weakness – our differences, our seeming inability to agree.  If our nation was to collectively awaken from its slumber and see just how badly we are being played for fools by both sides of the political aisle, the consequences would be as an earthquake destroying a major city.  Anyone who wonders the veracity of this assessment need simply read this quote…

“A military man can scarcely pride himself on having ‘smitten a sleeping enemy’; it is more a matter of shame, simply, for the one smitten. I would rather you made your appraisal after seeing what the enemy does, since it is certain that, angered and outraged, he will soon launch a determined counterattack.”

That quote was not by any American, but by Admiral Yamamoto of Japan in 1942 as the war in the Pacific intensified.  Three years later, Japan would lay in ruins, and America would have displayed what the collective will of a truly free people, properly directed, can do.

My hope is that my fear is only short-lived.