Monday, February 13, 2017

Give us Barabbas!

(Part II in a III Part series) 

I have heard some say, “Where were all the marchers on Election Day?”

To that I would have to say the same place the majority of Americans were – disenfranchised and believing that their vote really did not matter; believing that the dust would settle and we could all go back to our lives once the machines o either party fizzled out after Election Day was over.  After all, it had always been that way.  America could pick up and move on.  That’s the way a representative republic works.  The trouble with this is that there has never been an election cycle like the one experienced in 2016.  How did we get here?  Well, let’s simply say it was unprecedented. 

The machine on the left failed itself and the nation for the treasonous act of continuing business as usual.  Their machine was running just fine and there was certainly no need for change.  No, Hillary was going to be their candidate and the DNC made certain that Bernie Sanders popularity and grass roots movement were suppressed.  They anointed Hillary.  She wasn’t an outsider – she was part of the machine and the machine on the left worked quite well, thank you very much.

Bernie Sanders was betrayed.  He was the only candidate on either side who could honestly make the claim that he was for the people.  He was and is, I might add, the only one of the big voices who could say that he was in touch with the common, every day, working American.  Hillary couldn’t say it and it is ridiculous to even postulate that Trump has ever been for the common man.  It should have been Bernie.  Bernie was an outsider that the machine on the left was not comfortable with and so he was suppressed.  Big time.  It took WikiLeaks and it’s hacked emails to break the story but there it was, the truth behind the transgression.  The Washington Post had good coverage of the events.  As a result, then President Obama called the Democratic National Convention’s leading Chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and asked her to resign.  She did but the damage was done.  Hillary was anointed and the blame for what happened in the election can squarely be lain right here.  Hillary had been part of the machine for the last 30 years, give or take – she was an insider.  The same machine that people had grown tired of.  One that was oiled by PACs, special interest groups, and lobbyists.  For this contravention, this treacherous act, The DNC can be called as to being the reason why we now say, President Trump instead of President Sanders.  The reality of the situation, as it stands, Donald Trump is the President Elect.  They didn’t simply let down Mr. Sanders, they let down the nation.  People’s faith in the entire system was now suspect – more now than it ever had been.  

But what of the machine on the right?  This machine had similar problems.  Things that had always worked were showing strain.  As the potential candidates assembled – a field strewn with the typical schmendricks that had always rallied to the political “pick me – pick me”, baby kissing, ilk.  As they gathered they ignored the very same thing that their left leaning counterparts did – the outsider.  They were simply not prepared for the ‘reality TV’, circus who was/is Donald Trump.  He said and did things that none of the other candidates would ever dream of saying or doing.  “Such behavior would never win an election!”  Trump’s audacity made people take notice; more to point, it made a lot of disenfranchised white people take notice.  Trump, who was now considered and outsider of the GOP, played on their fears and weaknesses.  During the election cycle Trump went from one sound bite to another; “I just grab ‘em by the pussy”, concerning women that he’d like to bed, in relation to protesters at his rallies he pined for the “old days” when people like that would be beaten up – effectively encouraging his followers to crank up the violence, he made light of a disabled reporter, he talked of banning Mexicans & Muslims, and during his campaign he said, “I could shoot somebody in the middle of the street and they (his followers) wouldn’t care.”  He was right.  Trump had tapped into an undercurrent of resentment that was closer to festering than a lot of people realized – including the GOP.  Referring to his cabinet if he were to become President, “I would hire the BEST people.”  Who they were did not matter.  During one of the nationally televised debates and referring to his taxes that he has NEVER revealed he admitted that he did not pay his taxes saying, “It was smart,” not doing so.  And it didn’t matter.  Discarded were questions about his character or his mental fitness – after all this reality TV star is going to make America great again.  Trump the outsider was now the GOPs candidate.  He courted the ‘religious right’ and a very large number of them supported him since he has become a “new Christian”.  The Christian faith is built upon Christ changing the lives of the people who accept and believe in him; then, those people move forward, being others driven, working towards being more Christ-like examples to bring others to the Lord and light to the world.  That’s a thumbnail sketch.  Redemption & change.  I provide it because there are those who claim the name of ‘Christ’ and, much like an alternative fact, are not acquainted with him at all. Matthew 7: 15-20 says...

 15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

Trump’s example did not matter.  His deeds meant nothing.  The evangelicals did not care for fruit, they only wanted to win and shape policy in their own image.  They ignored seeking the fruit in the life of their candidate and put off producing it in theirs.  Moral character no longer mattered to them.  They were too concerned with Trump’s kingdom and not so much with God’s.  False prophets are on all sides of this, left & right, and, historically, politicians use the ‘flock’ for their own means on a routine basis.  It is a given.  So, is Trump a Christian?  The only person who can truly answer that is Trump – that’s between him and God.  The evangelical right said he was.  Trump didn’t disagree.  The evangelicals did not care about any of the empirical data or his history – all of the things that clearly should have raised some flags or mattered did not.  They shouted, "Give us Barabbas!" and that is exactly what they got.  Pharisees.  This, too, gobsmacked the GOP.  As other candidates continued to fall they didn’t know whether to distance themselves from the Trump brand or to throw their arms around him.  They chose the latter. 

So the machine on the right retooled before the big showdown in November and it beat the machine from the left.  Trump won the Electoral College while Hillary won the popular vote.  Donald Trump is now the President of the United States.  This is how we got here.  The American people chose between two horrible choices and it will be up to history to decide just how horrible things will get.  If the first few weeks are any indication then the adage is more than true, we live in interesting times.  Here is a quick rundown of what has happened thus far and, please note, we are three weeks into the 45th Presidency. 

The GOP, who now run both the House and the Senate, voted to disband the Office on Ethics (hey, who need those?), they have started to deconstruct the Affordable Care Act, and – with a few pen strokes from the President, will make healthcare for about 15 million people disappear.  These are real human beings, right here in America, who will not be able to afford surgeries, therapies, or their chemotherapy meds.  People will be effected.  People will die.  Certain sites have disappeared from the White House website such as climate change, homosexual rights, and the entire “Spanish Language” section.  There was Trump’s inaugural speech where he underlined his “America first” ideology and, as a bonus, insulted each of the other living presidents.  Sean Spicer, the President’s press secretary attacked journalists during his first outing in the role and picked an unnecessary fight with the National Parks Service over the amount of people in attendance at Trump’s inauguration.  Trump is upset that the numbers at his inauguration are not as high as were at President Obama’s.  He is in denial of this and has taken great pains to say that his was much better.  The next day, the President’s counselor, Kellyanne Conway, on a news show claimed that Spicer did not misrepresent the numbers and that he was only presenting, “alternative facts”.  Note: Alternative facts are also called lies.  The next day Conway mentions Trump’s taxes that he has still not released saying, “If they (the people) cared they wouldn’t have voted for him.”  Trump forbids the EPA from sharing any information with the public or press concerning any scientific research on climate change.  The Department of Agriculture is silenced too.  We the people, however, have PAID for this research with our tax dollars.  This will certainly be reviewed once the system of checks and balances start to push back against Donald.  Trump signed the paperwork to start building the wall between Mexico and America.  He is still in full confidence that the Mexicans are going to pay for it.  He wants to bring back torture.  He believes that, “it works”.  His top military advisors are against this because they remember the Geneva Convention.  It is hoped that it will be explained to Donald shortly.  He wants to open more “Black Site” prisons offshore so people deemed to need them can disappear.  Stocks for concrete and private prison companies are up because of the wall for the potential need for more black site prisons to oppress others.  The President of Mexico cancels a meeting with Trump saying that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall.  Trump is upset.  He renews pressure on the National Parks Service to find proof of the inaugural crowds.  Meanwhile, sales of Orwell’s, “1984” have put it onto the NY Times Bestsellers list again.  CNN is a “Fake News” site as per the Whitehouse.  Trump placed a ban on Muslim majority countries from entering the United States for 90 days.  The only countries exempt from this ban are countries that Donald Trump does personal business with.  Let me repeat that, the only countries exempt from this ban are countries that Donald Trump does personal business with.  People who have green cards have been turned back at airports.  A green card is how workers and students are able to be fast tracked to become legal United States citizens.  Up until very recently, America was the ‘Great American melting pot’, the “land of opportunity.”  A Federal Judge put an end to this ban which caused Trump to stop and ask his cabinet, “What are checks and balances?”  And then there is the Dakota Access Pipeline, which Trump financially benefits from is back on which will drive the oil pipeline through Native American lands and tunnel underneath the Missouri River near Standing Rock – but, seriously, what’s more American that pushing native people off their own land?

...It hasn’t been a month yet.

One thing is becoming clearer and clearer, it does not matter if you were on the left or leaning to the right – this past election we all lost.  In the first part of this series we admitted that we have a problem and we discussed the concept that freedom of speech must apply to everyone.  Here, in Part II, we discussed how we arrived at this time in history and where we are at present.  In Part III, coming soon, we will discuss the future – what may come to pass and what may not.   

 "May the wings of Liberty never lose a feather."

* NOTE: For the sake of accuracy, the pipeline runs through disputed Sioux Territory.  Lands promised to them by the U.S. Government in the treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851.  These lands were taken away.  Who’s lands are they?  It depends on who you ask or who draws the maps.  The pipeline is buried underneath Lake Oahe and the Missouri River is the primary outflow of the lake.  The Missouri River is the primary source of drinking water for the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.  They have a right to be concerned.  The citizens of Bismarck were too.  The pipeline was moved for them.  It was not moved for the Sioux.  The pipeline itself is almost completed.  Here’s hopin’ that pipes never burst.
See you next time, Gentle Reader.      

Sunday, February 05, 2017

What Have We Done?

It's been a while since I have been here.  I'll do better.  Honestly.  

You see, I've been distracted by the things that have been happened in my country.  I'll go into that and it's genesis at another time.  For now know, Gentle Reader, that we live in a very dangerous age of "Alternative Facts" and Orwellian "Newspeak".  A time ruled by fear and characters that prove the old adage, "The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense."  An age where "The Great American Melting Pot" has been replaced by an iron boot.  A time where scientific papers have been removed from public websites so that research can be suppressed because it does not fit in with the twisted reality that is presented to the American people.  You see, we have a malignant narcissist sitting in the oval office.  He wants to be loved and when he is brought to task on any inconsistency he blows up like a spoiled child whose behavior cries, "Why don't you love me!?"  He perseverance on what he perceives as past slights against his "greatness".  He's enacted a "Muslim ban" for traveling into or out of the country (more on that next time too).  He's going to "build a wall" between the US and Mexico and, as he has said time and time again, "Mexico is going to pay for it".  Mexico feels quite differently on the subject.  Also, there are these things called airplanes and, from what I can gather, these machines care very little about how tall or long Trump's wall will be.  He is more concerned over the ratings on "The Apprentice" than he is with running the country.  He is picking fights with the current host of a TV show that he use to host at a prayer breakfast. 

Let me say that once more.  He is picking fights with the current host of a TV show that he use to host at a prayer breakfast.

This is the President of the United States.  And POTUS does not appear to be mentally well.  Seriously.  Something is not right with Mr. Trump.  There are a multitude of things that should be occupying his thoughts but this is what he is concerned with.  Then there are the people that he has surrounded himself within his cabinet who are truly dangerous.  They present lies as the truth, muddle the conversation, and point fingers blaming the media when they don't like what the read or hear.  Journalism is under attack.  So is free speech and science.  The Women's March on Washington the day after Trump was sworn in was the largest one day protest ever.  It wasn't just for the multitude of issues facing women today; it was a march against tyranny.

How did this happen?  How did this come so far?  There are reasons but too many for the scope of this particular return blog.  We'll talk about that soon.  Promise

What I would like to talk about is how the seeds of misinformation and distrust have started to bear fruit.  Protests need to remain non-violent.  For a protest to become violent it only supports the oppressor ultimately showing that we have become the thing we loath.  We need to be better than that.  The pendulum of free speech swings both ways and to paraphrase Jonathan Pie in his latest video, "We should never give the high ground to Donald Trump and his ilk."  I love Mr. Pie  His language can be harsh but his passion is honest.  Here is his latest video concerning the recent violence at Berkley when Milo Yiannopoulos was going to speak; Protest Pie.  Milo is a senior editor of Breitbart, Gamergate ground floor misogynist, has been linked to the Alt Right, and, for you D&D players out there, would probably be classified as chaotic evil.  But freedom of speech is not only enacted for people you or I agree with and universities should be places where ideas are free to be heard and argued.  As the Atlantic's article titled, Milo Yiannopoulos Tested Progressives - and the failed states, "Not letting him speak on campus just makes their point. It lets Yiannopoulos depict himself as a victim of "'political correctness.'"  So, by all means, protest but don't be manipulated.  These folks are use to manipulating people.  Don't let it happen to you.

"Nobody told me there'd be days like these.  Strange days, indeed." - John Lennon

Next time we will ponder how we entered into this brave new world.  Give Us Barabbas - coming soon.