Monday, December 26, 2016

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff When An Elephant is in Room

I trust everyone had a wonderful Christmas and I’m happy Santa and his reindeer made it off the North Pole and was able to deliver all his toys for the children.  I was worried about it for a while.  You see, I made a joke last week about SantaLand may flood if the polar ice caps melt.  The day my column came out in the Reporter, I heard a news report that the temperature of the North Pole has risen 50 degrees above normal and temperatures will be at, or above 32 degrees by Christmas time.  I had no clue my joke was actually a true statement.  Sad.

One year ago in this column, at this same time as we approached the New Year, I warned everyone to “Buckle up!  2016 may be a rough ride.”  Rough ride?  That turns out to be an understatement. It was like we were shooting white water rapids, without a life preserver, on a thin inner tube, while trying to protect eggs of an endangered species. (Something I actually experienced one time, without the eggs, of course.)  

It was a wild ride and very educational.  What we thought was normal changed each day.  What I learned that surprised me the most is Americans are quick to sweat the small stuff but show little indignation over the big stuff, as long as it’s self-serving, and done in the name of patriotism or religion. 

We’ll never forget 2016!  The year something happened so shocking that all America was outraged.  Ariana Grande licked a doughnut in a shop in LA!  This caused a backlash that nearly ended her career. 

What about Colin Kaepernick of the Seattle Seahawks who first sat, and then kneeled during the playing of the National Anthem at a football game as a protest for Black Lives Matter?  Boy, that caused quite a stir in America!  The backlash to Kaepernick was swift.  He received death threats and was harassed.  He just may be the most hated man in football today.

Then something happened in 2015 that carried over into 2016, which caused arguments between friends, families, and co-workers that monopolized the news for weeks.  “Is that dress blue, black, or gold?”  Everybody had an opinion; different people perceived the colors differently.  That was a vexing time for everyone.

We’ll remember 2016, as the year a powerful man helped make twitter a mainstream mode of communication.  Joaquin  Guzman“El Chappo,” the Drug Lord King, made his second daring escape from a Mexican prison.  Before he was caught, he tweeted threatening messages to a candidate for the U.S. presidency. 

This is the year that an election defied all logic and all the polls.  Nobody thought that it could happen.  The entire world was shocked.  People voted without considering the serious ramifications.  Immediately, people wanted a “do-over.”  The voters in the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (Brexit!)

Oops!  This slipped my mind.  The People Choice Awards were held this year.  Hillary Clinton won!  She received 2.8 million more votes than her runner-up, but our Founding Fathers knew best 240 years ago when they said, “That doesn’t matter.” 

Now we have a man calling for unity of the American people.  This man represents everything that the normal America abhorred in the past.  He unabashedly advised Hillary Clinton supporters to “accept their failure,” and “stop scapegoating external factors.”  He further stated, “You need to learn how to lose gracefully.”  This, from a man who punishes anyone who disagrees with him—Vladimir Putin.

In 2017, I feel Americans should stop sweating the small stuff that does nothing to protect our country or affect our lives, and speak out more about the big stuff. 

This is my third New Year’s Column.  I would like to thank all my faithful readers for your support and kind words.  I would also like to thank Editor, Will Davis, for giving me a voice that is often (if not always) contrary to his ideology.

P. S.  Did you notice I made it through this column without talking about the “elephant” in the room?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Trump Doing Nothing to Unify

Have you ever wondered how I decide what to write about each week?  I didn’t think so, but wanted to share anyway.  I write about whatever is weighing the heaviest on my mind.  It’s not always what I want to write about, but it’s things that make me feel satisfied that I have imparted what is screaming from my brain that needs to get out.  For instance, this week I wanted to write something light and appropriate for the Christmas season. I wanted to write about joy and peace on earth kinda stuff. It was not to be.  My brain would not cooperate. 

I lamented in my column last week about the Russian interference with our election and that I was waiting for someone to yell “Fire!”  Finally on Friday, President Obama did.  Well, kinda, sorta.  It was more like being in a crowded theater and someone saying calmly, “Hey guys, “There’s a small flame over here.”  With all due respect to my President Obama, I wasn’t satisfied.  I understand that Obama was trying to avoid more deeply dividing our country.  However, based on the premise that we are bigger than partisan politics and are all loyal, patriotic Americans, one would think that since Russia effectively waged war on our democracy, it would bring us all together to fight this common enemy. 

Make no mistake about it.  Putin is an enemy, no matter how much Trump admires him.  He is now, and never will be an ally of America, no matter what Trump tells you.  If you think there’s a chance he will change, think about this… A butcher will cut his own finger off but continues to butcher. 

Obama said in his press conference on Friday, “Russia cannot change us.  Russia cannot make us significantly weaker.”  Yes they can.  They already have!  By influencing our democratic process, over half of our electorate have doubts about the legitimacy of our President.  Those that voted for Clinton or an alternative to Trump, represent 54% of Americans.  Trump won the majority of Electoral College votes by only 100,000 votes spread out over three states.  We are deeply polarized in our country.  There is a not just a divide, but, a gulf so wide with our people that we are significantly weaker as a country. 

Trump is the only one that can bring the nation back together.  His teleprompter words about unity fall on deaf ears.  If Trump really wants unity, he will start addressing concerns of 54% of the voters.  He has chosen the majority of his cabinet and most are a slap to the face of 54% of the people. Trump has a cabinet of extremes:  Extreme wealth and extreme views.

Trump says he has an “open mind.”  So why appoint people who don’t; people who are extreme and strident in their thinking?  Like, Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency.  Pruitt, an attorney, is a climate change denier and has spent most of his life fighting the EPA.  Or, Georgia Congressman Tom Price, as Secretary of Health and Human Services.  He has always been a big proponent of cuts to Medicare, repealing the Affordable Care Act, and Planned Parenthood.  And, like Andrew Puzder as Secretary of Labor.  Puzder’s experience is in the fast-food industry.  His contempt for minimum wage and benefits for America’s workers dissipates the hope of the working poor in this country.  There’s Jeff Sessions, Attorney General, who has made his career as a racist. He’ll be investigating hate crimes and voter suppression.  Oops!  I almost forgot the man that couldn’t remember the name of this agency that he wants to abolish:  The Department of Energy, Secretary Rick Perry. 

I have seen nothing from Trump thus far that will bring any of the 54% of the people into Trumplandia.  If he truly wants unity, he needs to give more than lip service to the 54% of the people.  Speaking as one who knows her way around the Internet, I can tell you that those who voted for Hillary Clinton are not assuaged and are ramping up more every day.  It’s comforting to know that we are not in the minority, because we represent 54% of the people.

There!  I feel better!  Now I can make my brain think about Christmas.  Uh, oh!  All that comes to mind is my fear that the polar ice cap will melt and flood Santa Land.  What will happen to Santa, his wife, and all the little elves?  What about the reindeer and poor little Rudolph? What will we tell our children?

Have a great Christmas, and I hope you make a memory!

Monday, December 12, 2016

What is Putin's Plan for America?

I didn’t feel well this past weekend, so I decided to avoid what was making me sick—the news!  When I finally tuned back in I realized when you miss a day in this Trump world, you miss a lot!  I feel like I’ve missed an entire episode of the television series, 24 starring Keifer Sutherland.  People you thought were dead are reappearing, people you never saw before are now center stage, and our country is drawing closer and closer to the edge of destruction as the clock ticks on.

Remember Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager way back in the first episode?  When the public outcry over Manifort’s ties to the Kremlin became unbearable, Trump fired him and he was not heard from again during the campaign.  But the latest episode reveals he was hiding in Trump Tower and is still one of his closest advisors.  This is a reveal that becomes relevant when coupled with the other news of the latest episode.

After a month of different names being considered for Secretary of State, the tension mounted.  Different day. Different name. Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York who has made his living off of 9/11.  Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, Chair of Foreign Relations Committee, General David H. Petraeus, who would have to visit his parole officer every week.  Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah and former Ambassador to China under Obama.  The biggest teaser was Mitt Romney, the loudest Republican voice against Trump.  Remember when Trump said, “I could tell Mitt to get on his knees and he would.”  Well, Trump did, and Mitt did!  It appears that Mitt Romney failed in his bid to be Secretary of State but he did manage to get his niece, Ronna McDaniel, appointed as chair of the Republican National Committee.  Romney sold his soul and now he will be forever quiet about Trump.

Since October, when 17 national security agencies announced it has been proven that Russian agents hacked into the Democratic National headquarters’ server and that of Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Manager, John Podesta, the smoke has gotten thicker.  I keep waiting for someone to yell, “Fire!” This weekend, it was released that a CIA detailed report exists with intelligence from our intelligence agencies that Russia sought to influence the election of Trump.  Just one day after this revelation, Trump reveals his favorite for Secretary of State.  It is none of the names we have heard for a month.  It is the name of a man whose relationship with Vladimir Putin is unprecedented for an American.  It is Rex Tillerson, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Exxon Mobile. Tillerson brags about his fifteen-year friendship with Putin. He is so close to Putin and the Russian Oligarch, in 2013, Tillerson was presented with the highest award by Putin-- Russia’s Order of Friendship.

Exxon Mobile, with Tillerson’s leadership, received a contract to explore for Russian oil, made possible by the melting sea ice.  In 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea, the U. S. instituted sanctions and froze Exxon’s agreement with Russia.  That leaves little doubt that with Trump as President and Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, the sanctions will be lifted and the deal will go forward.  Adding insult to our injury, Trump has nominated this billionaire, this climate denier, as the first Secretary of State in U. S. history that has zero experience in the public sector. 

Tillerson joins the ranks with General Mike Flynn, Trump’s National Security Advisor, and Paul Manafort, Trump’s advisor, as Putin’s bff’s.  In light of the CIA report confirming Russia’s involvement to get Trump elected, and in light of Trump’s timing of dropping the Tillerson’s probable appointment as Secretary of State at the 23rd hour, this would lead any reasonable person to believe that this was the plan all along.  Putin’s plan. This was not Trump deciding on the spur of the moment to appoint Tillerson.  This deal was solidified on election night, if not before.  Wonder what Putin has in store for us next?  The clock is still ticking down.

So much smoke.  FIRE!  FIRE!  Let’s face it folks, we are in a mellava hess! 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Did President Obama Unwittingly Elect Trump?

It has been nearly a month since the election.  After many sleepless nights asking myself the same question, I finally had an epiphany today.  The question I kept asking myself was not “Why did Hillary lose?”  She didn’t lose, she got over 2.5 million more votes than Trump.  Was it “Why did Trump win?”  Not that either.  I know he won because of the Electoral College system.  The big question that kept shooting through my brain like lightning bolts was “How could so many people want to have a President like Trump, with his lack of experience and knowledge, his temperament, his lack of moral compass, and one that suffers from an obvious personality disorder?”  Today I realized he received most of his votes for just those reasons! 

Trump received all those votes because of President Barack Obama!  After eight years of a scandal-free presidency, a President who was careful to measure his words and his actions, a predictable and steady hand, Americans longed for drama and unpredictability.  The reason was stated to us many times by Trump backers.  Perhaps you even said it.  “I’m voting for him because I want someone to shake things up.” “I like that he tells it like it is.” People get bored easily nowadays.  People love drama.  People want entertainment every day.  This is evidenced by the hours people spend online each day watching cat videos, funny dogs, and pranks gone bad.  Trump offers a President that will do or say anything for attention and will provide an unending stream of entertainment. 

I admit that there were times during Obama’s presidency that I thought his responses to things could have been, and should have been, more aggressive in nature.  For instance, from the git-go when Mitch McConnell stated he would do everything in his power to make Obama fail, instead of telling him what time it was, Obama ignored it.  Instead of aiding Obama in crafting the Affordable Care Act to make it the best possible insurance plan, they coined it “ObamaCare” and went so far as to shut down the federal government and brought law suits to stop it.  Obama didn’t castigate them as I thought he should.  Instead, he did what he could from the back door.  Obama tried to avoid drama at all cost and he understood that every word a President utters matters.

Another prime example of a statesman being too careful was Obama’s response to the birtherism campaign by Trump.  Trump was relentless in his insistence that Obama was born in Kenya and was a Muslim.  We have experienced Trump’s brainwashing technique of saying something over and over; until people believe it, even without one iota of proof.  As late as August 2016, a poll showed two-thirds of Trump backers believed Obama was born in Kenya and only 13% believed he was a Christian.  Obama’s response about birtherism “I have watched with bemusement.”  Not exactly what I would have said!

Obama is everything Trump is not. For starters, Trump is white.  The phenomenon of Trump’s election was a protest, payback vote to those Americans who had the nerve to vote for a black man, not once, but twice.  Their anger has simmered for eight years before boiling out on November 8.  Not all people, just the 63% of Trump supporters who still believe that Obama was born in Kenya and is a secret Muslim.

I believe that Hillary did not get the votes from the black community she expected because of Obama.  I believe black people felt Obama let them down and did not “tell it like it is.”  He never called out the racism that was the root cause of the hatred and bigotry that he experienced for eight years.  I believe the Black community had high hopes when America finally elected a Black President.  When they experienced more, not less racial bias, many just gave up. 

You will never get bored or fail to be entertained by Trump.  He’s not even President yet and he has already made a serious diplomatic faux pas by disrespecting China in favor of Taiwan.   Look for more of these, and worse, because he shows no interest in learning.  He’s not taking his daily intelligence briefings.  He is not availing himself to the State Department on matters of protocol, and he’s still tweeting whatever pops into his mind. Trump is the star of the biggest reality show in the world.

For those of you who wanted a President to “shake things up,” you got him!  It won’t be long before you will be longing for the days of “No Drama Obama.”