Losers and Suckers.

I would like to say that I read the article in The Atlantic with horror and disbelief (click the link for the full article). However, the current administration continues to raise the bar on “can you believe this shit?” so often that honestly nothing surprises me any more.

To serve in the military carries with it one of the highest responsibilities in this country: to defend and protect our freedoms. What they deserve in return is a country and a leader who believes in them, who supports them, and who honors their commitment and their sacrifice.

What they currently have is a Commander-in-Chief who mocks and belittles them, who is incapable of understanding—let alone honoring—their service and sacrifice, who looks the other way when he learns Russia has bounties out on their heads, and yet who threatens to use them at his discretion for his self-serving purposes.

Where are all the flag waving patriots loudly proclaiming that anyone who disparages against the Constitution and Military is Un-American? When are they going to start holding the President accountable for his disrespect and unpatriotic rhetoric that he loves to spew forth while pretending to care about the country?

Freedom is not free. But that price is not meant to be paid for just by our soldiers. All citizens have to contribute—by voting, by speaking out, by letting your elected officials know where you stand on the issues, by staying informed.

There is a price we pay for our complacency: we elect a sycophant and watch as he completely destroys our democratic ideals, mocks that which we hold dear, and publicly yearns to be an autocrat.

Our continued complacency begets a bigger price: we allow him to slide towards autocratic rule while watching other elected officials kowtow to him just to keep themselves in his good graces and the Department of Justice sweep the entire Constitution under the rug at the President’s convenience.

Make no mistake, we are at a tipping point in our country’s history where our democracy hangs in the balance. Our complacency for not ousting a corrupt government will lead to the biggest price to be paid: a diminishing democracy that hurdles us straight towards a dictatorship.

If that happens, every single soldier who served, who lost a limb, who still struggles with PTSD, who gave their lives in the pursuit of our freedoms will have done so in vain.

If you think that’s not possible—or can’t happen here—please look around to what is happening around the country. Constant threats of using the military on American citizens on American soil. Peaceful protesters being attacked and taken away in unmarked vans. Photo ops with the President clearing out a peaceful protest and walking through the area with what looked like a full military escort.

Rather than uniting the country—as any competent President would do—Trump has played off our fears. The biggest one? The fear of losing our liberties. What he doesn’t want you to notice is that while you’re so busy accusing the other side of wanting to take away all your liberties and freedoms, he is quietly positioning himself to stay in a position of power so that he can continue to use the country for his own personal—PERSONAL—gains and couldn’t actually give a flying flip about you or your liberties.

But who is out there still fighting to defend the Constitution and your freedoms? Those so-called by President as “losers” and “suckers.” They know what true patriotism looks and feels like. They swore an oath to the Constitution and the American people, to serve and protect without sway for either political party, and, if necessary, to die doing so.

When you vote this November, please remember them. Remember the ones who served. The ones who died. The ones who lost a part of themselves because they ran towards the bullets instead of away from them. Remember that they deserve a president who knows what that sacrifice means. Remember that they do not deserve to be called losers or suckers. Remember that they do not deserve being belittled or held in disgust for losing a limb in battle.

I know there are so many reasons to pick the person you vote for President, but I’m asking you to stop and truly consider how important it is for our country to have a President who can defend, honor, and protect our troops the way they defend, honor, and protect all of us.

Melting Into Oblivion

I know I tend to keep the politics away from here, but it feels wrong not to say something. Not to say anything.

Today is July 4th, which should mean something more than just backyard BBQs, baseball, and fireworks. However, it seems odd to celebrate the birth of a nation when that nation is on fire and seems to be slowly melting into the oblivion of all former great empires.

We are watching the GOP—the Grand Old Party, the party of Lincoln, the party who loves to take the moral, god-fearing high road—literally destroy itself from within by refusing to rein in a man who couldn’t care less about the party and its platform any more than he cares about the American people and what they need. The only thing he cares about is himself. And if you think otherwise, you have not been paying attention.

Let me say that again: HE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOU. OR YOUR FAMILY.  OR YOUR BUSINESS.  OR YOUR HEALTH. OR YOUR DOG.  OR THE CONSTITUTION. OR THE BIBLE HE LIKES TO POSE SYMBOLICALLY WITH. None of it.  He only cares about what would bring him fame and fortune.

Oh, wait, I lied.  He also cares about tweeting and the Dow Jones Average.

Now, before you leave in a huff, I would like you to consider two things:

ONE My Granny always said everyone was entitled to their own wrong opinion. We live in America. We have freedom of speech. We are allowed free thought. If someone thinks differently than you, it’s OKAY! It is something I always try to remember when conversing with people (including friends and family), who have dramatically different opinions than me. That is getting harder, however, to continue with some people because of the lack of respect they give me in return.

It is possible some of this is due to the fact that I’m older and less likely to cajole them into talking. My internal conversation goes something like this: if you want to be an ignorant asshat, have a nice fucking day. My external conversation is to raise an eyebrow and stare at them blankly, blinking slowly. It’s not because I don’t want to hear what they have to say. However, there is this growing trend—not just in politics, but in a lot of different things—to not explain why you believe something. I know why I believe x. Why do you believe z? Instead of I believe z because [insert reason here], the response is more along the lines of: because I do and if you don’t agree, tough shit, you’re wrong.

I think a lot of it is laziness—and this is not directed at either party—it is rampant everywhere and I know that I’ve certainly done it. To clarify: by laziness, I mean that we the people like to believe whatever is spoon fed to us on the news, on social media, from the ladies we overhear at the bus stop. We tend to share information without checking sources or accuracy. It’s just so damn easy to click share or repost or retweet without thinking…click, click, click. It is equally as easy to believe what we hear on our favorite news station without bothering to check their facts or if the other stations are saying the same thing. And if they’re not, why not? It’s the news, it must be fair and impartial. Right? Right?

With the exception of the few on the very far left and very far right, we used to be able to talk about politics without hating the person who didn’t agree with us and I would really LOVE to bring that back. Desperately. I love hearing the other side. I love learning why people think the way they do. When you hear their why, you start to understand. When you start to understand, you can work together to fix things. If you disagree and tell me why I’m wrong, GREAT! But bring your reasons and let’s have an open and honest and respectful conversation.

TWO Please don’t think I’m saying in any way, shape, or form that the Democratic Party is perfect or even good. They’re not. There is a lot of in-fighting about what the party should look like and believe in. Honestly, it was very disappointing to see that the party that touts themselves as celebrating diversity nominate an old white man (sorry no offense, VP Biden) because they think it is the only way to beat Trump, since Hilary couldn’t beat him. Newsflash: it wasn’t that Hilary is woman that led to Trump’s win. It was that Hilary was Hilary and the DNC ran a very sloppy campaign because they seemed to be completely oblivious to the political climate that was desperately searching for change from the political dynasties of the Bushes and Clintons. The masses (at least the masses in a few key electoral college states) wanted something different and, quite frankly, the DNC refused to support that ideal. They felt they owed the nomination to Hilary and thus did everything in their power to help her get that nomination. Once that happened, they then sat back on their laurels and watched Trump promise the people the change they thought they wanted—to drain the swamp of corruption, stagnate elected officials, and pork barrel politics. And people who were sick of all it, went out en masse and voted for change.

I understand why people wanted change and I understand why they might think that Trump could bring it. I think everyone hoped he would walk around screaming vociferously at Congress and lobbyists and DC in general “You’re fired!” But alas, no.

What I truly do not understand is how no one seems to want to hold him accountable for anything (US Senators and Department of Justice, I’m looking at you). It is as if the Republican Party has completely checked-out and are just holding their breath until he is gone. You know, like you used to do when your mom served those nasty, over boiled, lifeless brussel sprouts and wouldn’t let you leave the table until you ate 6 of them? Actually, no. It’s worse than that. It’s an abusive relationship, where they tiptoe around him, fearful of his reaction, and accept the consequences of whatever he does because in their minds it’s easier than dealing with the aftermath of confronting him and the invariable Twitter barrage that follows. They’re just closing their eyes and praying it will be over quickly.

Except that it won’t be over quickly. And you’re sacrificing our country in the interim.

The Republican-led Senate had the opportunity to take back the train-wreck of their party with Trump at the helm and restore it to some semblance of normalcy to their ideals, but they didn’t take it. They said there was no solid proof. But how can there be if you’re not allowing witnesses and holding other people accountable for what they are claiming? Senator Graham announced at the beginning of the process that he would, of course, support the president because—even though he hasn’t heard all the evidence—he didn’t think that an actual crime had been committed. This is the same Senator Graham who railed on and on and on during the Clinton impeachment trial that an actual crime didn’t need to be committed; the only consideration for removing an impeached President from office is the President using his Office to hurt people. If that’s the case, we should have impeached Trump the moment he took office.

We the nation seem to have lost count of all the times that Trump has defiled the Office of the Presidency. On the record. For the whole world to view. Each more egregious than the last. Too many for me to fully list because honestly, I can’t remember them all.

I mean, you certainly have to give him credit: he never lets one story blow up too much before creating a new cycle of stories to tell. And the old stuff? Well, it’s just gets lost in the shuffle. So let me remind you of but a sampling of the things in my humble opinion that Trump has done in the last 3.5 years to, as Senator Graham said, hurt the people:

  1. It’s okay to assault women.
  2. It’s okay to separate children and babies from their parents and put them in cages on display until other countries expressed concerns about the cruel and unjust ways of our immigration system.
  3. It’s okay to practice nepotism.
  4. The KKK is A-OK!
  5. It’s okay to tell United States Citizens and members of Congress to go back to their own countries, never mind the fact that if you’re not 100% Native American, you’re from a lineage of immigrants.
  6. It’s okay to ask other countries for help in your reelection campaign (ohhhh…Nixon must be rolling in his grave).
  7. It’s okay to use the Department of Justice to give all your cronies a free pass for their felonies.
  8. It’s okay to politicize a pandemic and allow hundreds of thousands of people to die because you don’t know how to handle a crisis—or at the very least listen to people around you who DO know how handle a crisis.
  9. It’s okay to not wear a mask and potentially give a deadly disease to someone else.
  10. It’s okay to encourage your supporters to protest wearing masks and social distancing because it infringes on their person freedom, but discourage people from protesting the racial inequalities and police brutality that is systemic throughout the country.
  11. It’s okay to force people to chose between voting in person and their health, even though you vote by mail.
  12. It’s okay to use tear gas and flash bang grenades to clear out a peaceful protest for a photo op at a church, where it’s okay to pose with the Bible upside down.
  13. It’s okay to threaten to use the military on American citizens on US soil because they oppose you.
  14. It’s okay for your friends to put bounties on lives brave military men and women who are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to defend our nation and it’s okay for you not to do anything about it.
  15. It’s okay to label anything you don’t like to be a hoax or fake news.

Colluding with other countries? Threatening to use the troops on Americans? And then not doing anything about reports that Russia is paying the Taliban to kill our troops? This is nothing NOTHING short of treason. If any other president—Democrat or Republican—would have done half these things, he would have been pressured to resign. And he would have done so out of respect for the country and the office of the Presidency (read up on Richard Nixon if you don’t think this is true).

Calling out your President does not make you a bad American. Holding the President accountable and at a higher standard does not make you a bad American. Channel your inner John McCain because, honestly, I can’t think of anyone who embodies the spirit of being a proud American and serving his country the way that he did.

The only reason to continue to support Trump is because you condone his behavior. This is not one single oh shit moment that he could walk back with some smooth talking and a bit of eating crow. We are way beyond that. The country is at a breaking point and instead of giving it a lifeline—which is what a good President would do—Trump is adding fuel to the fire and clapping while it burns. This is a shit show. This is deplorable. And this is treason.

Is all hope lost? No. Millions of people are fighting to change the system, to change what is acceptable, to change what it means to have justice and equality. True justice and true equality for every American, not just a select few.

Look, I’m not here to tell you how to vote. I’m just reminding you not to be a robot—you have a brain, you have a voice. Use them. You don’t have to cross party lines and vote for Biden. Hell, write in a vote for George W Bush and let him be President again. I did not agree with many of his policies, but never once—NOT ONE SINGLE SOLITARY TIME—did I ever question his loyalty to the citizens of The United States of America. I may not have liked what he did, but I knew that he did it because he truly believed that it was the best thing for America. That is what you do as President—you put the country and its citizens—ALL OF ITS CITIZENS, not just its rich, white, male citizens—first.

Our founding fathers were far from perfect. Their beautifully worded documents declaring that “all men are created equally” did not apply to women or people of color. But I believe the country they envisioned and wanted to create was one that was ever evolving into something better than the one they left behind. A country of the people, by the people, and for the people is going to be messy because people are messy. But we should never stop striving for equality, liberty, and justice—not for a select few—but for all.

The Price of Freedom

Today we give thanks and celebrate all the men and women who have fought to protect our freedoms and our values–and it has been a very tough week for that.

lady liberty

If you don’t mind, I’m going to do something I rarely do publicly and share my thoughts.  If you do mind, you should stop reading now because I can guarantee you that you’re probably not going to like what I have to say.  If you’re not sure, read on–I can assure you that while you may not agree with me, I’ve done my best to keep my thoughts respectful and if you’re going to weigh in, I ask you to do the same.

For the last year, I have watched people that I know and love spout some truly hateful things on social media and I let them because while the 2nd Amendment of our Constitution tends to get a lot of air time, it is the FIRST Amendment, which allows us freedom of speech.  We get to debate and argue and disagree openly.  We get to love, we get to hate and it is all okay because we are extremely lucky enough to be born in a place were we are allowed that privilege.

Yesterday someone I love said the following words: you lost, get over it.  And it made me so angry because he did not get it.  He did not understand why people are upset and protesting–and even more frustrating is that he did not make any attempt to understand.  All I wanted to do was reach through the phone and smack the shit out of him.  But I refrained, mostly because I couldn’t actually reach through the phone…

I didn’t lose.  I voted.  My voice was heard.  I can’t say that I’m shocked that the Republican Party won: political history usually shows that when a President serves for 8 years the next election usually goes to the other party.  It is what keeps our country moving forward.  It is how the other voices are heard and that is a good thing.  I truly believe that.

The Republicans pulled off a political upset that will be talked about for as long as America is a country, and maybe even longer than that.  What I am upset about is that it came at a very high price.  It came with whom they chose to be their leader, to be our next President.   I am not upset that the conservatives won, I am upset because they chose someone who openly makes fun of people who are different and promises to ban them from this country and/or punish them for being different.

I absolutely get that they did not want to vote for Hillary.  I absolutely get that they are extremely dissatisfied and distrustful with politicians and all the political bullshit that comes out of Washington.  I get that it would have been so hard to vote against their party, which they supported and believed in the majority of their lives.

I share these sentiments with them and I will happily discuss, debate, and brainstorm ideas to overcome the distrust and disenchantment with our current political system.

But I truly do not understand how anyone could support someone so hateful, so racist, and so misogynistic.  There were other options, but it was the person with the most amount of hate who won.  I do not understand that and I don’t know that I ever will.  I have always chosen to see the good in people and what this week has shown me is that a lot people in this country are not capable of doing the same.

You are entitled to your beliefs and your vote, as I am to mine.  But like you, I am also allowed to speak my mind and in the spirit of fairness, if you want me to listen to your side, you will listen to mine.  I am allowed to be upset; I am allowed to be angry; I am allowed to be worried for the direction where our country may be heading.

You cannot tell me that if your daughter, sister, mother, aunt, cousin, best friend came to you and said that a man grabbed her inappropriately (pussy is the word President-Elect Trump used), you would just let it go. And yet whether you meant for it to do so, if you voted for Trump that is what your vote has said.

America is a nation of immigrants.  If you are not 100% Native American or Native Hawaiian, then you are from a family of immigrants.  And ever since the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, these shores have welcomed people seeking freedom from persecution, usually religious persecution because again our FIRST Amendment allows us the freedom to practice the religion that we want.  But if you voted for Trump, whether you meant for it to do so or not, your vote said that this no longer matters.

The second paragraph of The Declaration of Independence begins with:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

We have spent the last 200 hundred years moving in the direction that all men and women could and would be treated equally, regardless of whom they believe their Creator to be.

People are angry and protesting because as a country, we elected a new President who has openly stated that “all men” equals white, rich, straight, Christian men.  Not even white, rich, straight, Christian women get to be equal because our new President has said that it is okay to treat women like they are property and he will punish any woman who wants to control what happens to her body.

On Election Night–or rather at 1am the following morning–I was on the phone with my BFF and she asked in earnest “What are we going to do?”  I couldn’t give her a good answer because I was too saddened by the history that I was watching and the backsliding of our country 50, perhaps 60, years.

We have seen a lot of hate and we have seen a lot of violence and never once has it solved anything.  So, BFF and anyone else wondering, what we’re going to do is this:

We are going to continue to fight to protect our freedoms and our values that so many have fought and died protecting.

We are going to continue to standup for those being persecuted for their beliefs, their religion, whom they love, how they look, or any other reason that makes them a target.

We are going to respect the office of the Presidency and our new President, BUT we are also going to push Congress and remind the Supreme Court of their duties to moderate the Office of the President.

We are not going to abandon hope.

We are going to hold our new President accountable for the promises of unity that he made in his victory speech by consistently reminding him that we are a nation of immigrants and every last man, woman, and child matter–despite the color of their skin, whom they love, where they were born, and what their beliefs are.

That is how we all win.  That is how we all move forward.  That is how we all can truly make America great again.