A Unique Opportunity to Cut Off Our Lunatic Fringe

Most of us can agree on much more than we think.

I know you’ll find this hard to believe, but I genuinely believe that not all Republicans are bad. But if we have learned nothing else from the insurrection in the Capitol a few days ago, there are definitely some on the absolute lunatic fringe (as are some democrats, of course). Most of us watched their actions in utter horror. I genuinely believe that includes the average Republican, too.

There are many things most humans can agree on. Violence is unacceptable. Our democratic process should be inviolate. We need to protect our planet as it’s the only home we have. Basic human rights should apply to everyone. We need to improve our healthcare system and our schools. Murder is unacceptable, as is rape, sex trafficking, and theft. We need more invention and innovation. Hate gets us nowhere. Facts are facts.

I think both parties should add the above, with mutually agreed upon wording, to our national platforms. We should rename ourselves the Rational Republican Party and the Rational Democratic Party. If our members can’t agree with all of the above, then they should not be considered part of our membership. They should be rejected outright. “Your hate and violence are not who we are. You do not speak for us.” Let them form their own insane little cohorts and self-destruct.

Each party, of course, still has room for a lot of planks in their platform that the other party may disagree with, and that’s okay. But we have got to agree that we can no longer turn our backs on basic human morality. The lunatic fringe does not deserve our support.

I think if we did that, we might discover that we all agree on much more than we think.

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Let’s Do Away with Political Parties

Political parties are like gangs.

“Impeach the president!” everyone shouts. Well, heaven knows there are plenty of reasons to do so. But it seems as though many Americans have no idea what impeachment truly means.

Here’s what it does not mean: bye-bye Trump. Nope. Impeachment is what the House of Representatives does to bring charges against a federal employee. It’s like being indicted by a grand jury. Bill Clinton was impeached. But he remained president. Nixon, on the other hand, was never actually impeached. He resigned before the house voted.

Once impeached, the person remains in office. The next step is the trial. That’s conducted by the Senate. The Senate at the time did not find Clinton guilty, and the majority republican Senate today would not find Trump guilty. I guarantee it.

Because, you see, elected officials rarely vote on the facts or their conscience. They vote along party lines. It’s really rather disgusting when you think about it. The truth has nothing to do with it. Morality has nothing to do with it. For example, I’d like to assume that every human being would be against pedophilia. But political pedophiles are given a pass all the time.

The crux of the problem with our political system is that we allow political parties. They’re like gangs. You have to pick a side. You are either with us or against us. There’s no compromise.

There’s more strength in numbers. There’s more money in numbers. It’s easier to intimidate your fellow gang members to do what you want them to do in numbers. It’s easier to label someone as a friend or an enemy.

But what if everyone had to be an independent? What if all political funding came from the people, and there was a cap on the amount a politician could raise from an individual, and also in total? What if that cap were 10 percent of what is spent now? What kinds of people would then run for office? Not these rich fools who have absolutely no idea how most Americans live or what they care about. And once elected, they could actually focus on the task at hand, rather than desperately fundraising.

What if you had to judge a person not by their party but by their actions and the content of their character? What if it were a little less obvious who you should not work with, politically? What if you had to work on bills only with people who agree with you on that particular cause? What if there were no aisles to cross? What if there were no minority or majority leaders who were bullying you to vote a certain way?

Something to think about.

By the way, I also long for unicorns to roam our forests. Wouldn’t that be nice?


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An Open Letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. President:

I remember crying tears of joy when you were elected back in 2008. It felt like this nation had turned a very important corner and that we, as a society, were becoming enlightened. I was very proud.

I also cried tears of relief when Obamacare was passed. It meant I’d have health insurance for the first time in over a decade. I was finally able to sleep through the night, no longer having to worry about what would happen to me if I got sick or injured.

I also watched as you brought the economy back, kicking and screaming, after the human wrecking ball that was George W. Bush. You had to start 30 yards deep in your own end zone with that one. But you did it. You also overturned his torture policies. Well done!

You reduced restrictions on stem-cell research, thus allowing science to take several important steps forward. You also strengthened the Endangered Species Act, and were the first president to openly acknowledge climate change.

I was particularly proud when you repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and made it legal for anyone to marry the person whom they love. This allowed many of my friends and family to live the happy lives they deserved, and share the rights that I’ve always had.

And you had the most diverse cabinet in American history. That was impressive.

We all know that in a Trump administration there will be a roll back of many of these accomplishments. It’s heart breaking. It’s frustrating. It’s the dark side of democracy.

But you have a chance to do one last, epic thing before leaving office, a last good-bye, if you will, to show the American people that the Democratic Party is still the party for all of us, it hasn’t totally sold out, and that there is hope for the future.

You could stop the travesty of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Show that we respect the sacred lands of people who have been here much longer than America has.  And speak out against police violence during these protests.

Yes, I realize you aren’t a dictator. But you can suspend construction until a proper environmental review is done. You can have the corps of engineers actively make efforts to reroute it. You can be the nation’s moral compass one more time. You can stand up. You can speak. Reagan wasn’t a dictator, but he said “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall,” and lo, the wall came down. If he could do that in Germany, you can do this right here in our own country.

I beg you. Speak up for peaceful protest, human rights, and the environment! And for God’s sake, do it before winter sets in. Let me look at you, one last time, with respect, as you take your final bow.


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Respect for the Presidency

During Obama’s recent State of the Union address, there was a moment that made me sick to my stomach. Don’t get excited, Republicans. I actually agreed with everything he had to say, as predictable as most of it was.

No, what made me sick was the way some Republican congressmen reacted to something he said. Toward the end of his speech, and less than 7 minutes after he talked about the need for politicians to set a better example for the American people, this happened:

(For those of you who can’t see the video, Obama says, “I have no more campaigns to run.” And you hear applause. Applause. To his credit, Obama retorts, “I know, ‘cause I won both of ‘em.”

The reason I was sickened was that, call me old fashioned, I still think that even if you disagree with the man who holds the office, you still should have respect for the presidency. This is the man that the majority of Americans elected to be the leader of the free world. Twice. That counts for something. That matters.

I despised President Bush (both of them, actually), but I was still horrified when someone threw a shoe at him. And every sane person should be shocked at assassination attempts, whether they succeed or not.

You don’t have to like Obama in order to realize that we are lucky as hell to have a president rather than a dictator. We have been changing leaders every 4 or 8 years since this country began without a single military coup. That’s pretty freakin’ phenomenal. Our country is one of the few that can say that. And a lot of people have fought and died to allow us to maintain these rights.

There seems to be a growing cynicism and lack of respect in this country. If we can’t even maintain it for our chosen leader, then all hope is lost. Obama had a point. Congress needs to set an example. What they did with their applause during that few moments of the State of the Union address tells you all you need to know the next time you consider voting for one of these people. We need to restore more dignity to the political process. If our representatives can’t even do that much, it’s time for a change.

Security Guard Blues

Times being what they are, I was feeling the need to expand my career skills, and Security Guard work seemed the way to go. As the economy gets worse, crime goes up. As crime goes up, there’s more need for security. That was my thinking, anyway. Here in Florida, even unarmed guards must take a week of training to get licensed.

The first day of security guard class was surreal. The place was locked, so we were all waiting in the hallway. Then this guy comes in wearing a sleeveless vest over his polo shirt, and the vest was covered in patches. Auto patches, swiss army knife patches, things like that. And he said, “If you’re here for security guard school, follow me. March!” And I’m thinking, “Okay…” And it’s just me and three other students. The first guy I’m calling KGB. He’s this big Arnold Schwarzenegger- sized Russian guy who doesn’t say anything. Then there’s another guy I’m calling Bull Dog. He’s retired Marine. Then there’s the guy I’m calling “Twitch”. Now Twitch worries me. He’s fresh out of Afghanistan with such a bad case of PTSD that the poor guy practically jumps out of his skin if you even sneeze. And he keeps asking the instructor how much deadly force he can use in various scenarios. And then there’s little ol’ me. WHAT THE HECK HAVE I GOTTEN MYSELF INTO????

The class was predictably easy, but it was often an assault to my sensibilities. The instructor peppered every lesson with personal stories that often had nothing to do with the subject at hand, and were almost always offensive. For example, stories about how his wife, the “little woman” is such a bad driver that she can’t be trusted. How he thinks having to teach a sexual harassment module is ridiculous, but he has to make “those politically correct types” happy. But he just HAD to show us a hilarious foreign commercial in which a father was worried about his son because he played with Barbie dolls, but he grew up and was lying in bed with two blonds. Whew! What a relief. Oh and those damned Democrats! Don’t get him started on them!

Twitch and Bulldog were eating this stuff up with a spoon. KGB, I suspect, didn’t understand a word that was being said. During the first aid module the instructor was giving medical advice that is contrary to all current medical thinking, and he was drawing from his experience in war time. He suggested that you write what treatment you performed on the victim’s forehead, even if the patient was still conscious and was likely to remain so! As if a helicopter would drop out of the sky at any moment and whisk them away. Can you imagine how well that would go over? “Sit still, ma’am, while I write on your forehead.”

Once I figured out that the class was really all about celebrating what a hero, what a raconteur, what a guru, what an all-around great guy the instructor was, I was able to just disassociate myself from all of it, pay the hundred bucks, get through the week, and get my license. We all did. Even KGB.

License in hand, I quickly discovered that Security Guards in this state are paid for shit. It would cost me more to get to work than I’d earn while there. Never thought I’d say this, but I’m better off being a bridgetender! But before I discovered that, I did go on one disastrous interview. It was for a gate guard at a gated community. I pulled up at the gate and they told me to pull through, do a u-turn, park across the street and come in for the interview. I’m halfway through the u-turn when I see a Mercedes barreling toward me. So I try to speed up the turn to get out of the way, and my old land yacht takes out a plastic decorative light post with a big glass globe, which, of course, shatters into a million pieces. I pull into the parking space and I have one of those interior conversations. Maybe they didn’t notice. But if they did, and I don’t speak up, I definitely do not get the job. But if I do speak up, I probably won’t get the job. Oh, hell.

So I walk in and say, “In the interests of good first impressions, I just took out your lamp post.” Crickets. Okay, so no sense of humor at all. That’s good to know. We spent the next 10 minutes filling out an incident report. I considered making a quip about instant on the job training, but thought better of it.

Then he asked me if I had any military experience. “No? Oh, then you won’t make a good security guard. You probably wouldn’t know the difference between day patrols and night patrols.” “Does this job include patrol duties?” No. Then I told him my experience dealing with the public, and working traffic accidents and dealing with the criminal element on the bridge. And I told him the time an old lady got stuck on the rising bridge and I had to rescue her from the equivalent of an 80 foot cliff. (That’s a story for a later blog entry, come to think of it.) He scoffed at that, and said that was something any good Samaritan might do, but that wasn’t security guard material. Mind you, this is a man who had seen my resume and called ME to drive an hour for this interview in the first place.

At that point it was fairly obvious I wasn’t going to get the job (to my everlasting relief), but he asked if I had questions, so I asked about benefits. That sent him off on a rant about “obamacare” and how none of these people (indicating the staff who were across the room, listening to every word) deserve health care. His face turned beet red and spittle was flying from his mouth.

I left there feeling as if I was crawling out of the rabbit hole. I don’t think Security is the field for me. I could never be that humorless or self-obsessed.