Category Archives: Uncategorized

Holiday News Observations

Conservatives who enjoy calling liberals “snowflakes” need to realize they elected the “King of the Snowflakes” as PEOTUS.  

Israel is enraged at the UN resolution against settlements. It claims the U.S. orchestrated the vote despite 50 years of anti-settlement stance and cut off ties to 12 countries who voted for the resolution (but not the U.S.). Problem is, if it cut off ties to all countries against the settlements it would cut off the entire world. Plus, does anyone else find it odd Bibi seems to support our new PEOTUS who is also supported by Neo-Nazis and white nationalists?  

All those up in arms when President Obama visited Hiroshima seven months ago need to learn the definition of “diplomacy” after PM Abe’s historic trip to Pearl Harbor yesterday.  “Diplomacy” is something I’m sure will be but a fond memory four years from now. 

When I heard about yesterday’s bomb scare at Trump Tower, and how it turned out to be just a bag full of toys, this immediately popped into my head as his reaction:


If you grew up in the 80s, love the 80s, and weep for all your heroes and stars who passed away recently, you need to blame….the 80s.  Yes, the deaths of George Michael and Carrie Fisher added to the long list of 80s stars “taken too soon.”   But like Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Prince, Glenn Frey and David Bowie before them, it was 80s stardom that killed them.  The rise in popularity of cocaine and the following crack cocaine epidemic the drugs plus prescription drug use took its toll on their bodies.  Bowie supposedly survived six heart attacks before dying from liver cancer.  Even Vanity, Prince’s protégé, died earlier this year from renal failure caused by a drug overdose years before.  It’s fitting 2016 also claimed Nancy Reagan, the person most closely tied to America’s “War on Drugs” campaign.  

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2017 Political Resolutions

Well, 2017 finally arrived.  For some of you, it’s a chance to pour gasoline on 2016 and light a match.  For many, it’s a chance to once again make yourself or your life better.  But what about your country?  Whether you like it or not, we can’t change the 2016 presidential election.  While you’re working on giving up chocolate or alcohol, how about resolving to help bring us together by giving up these bad political habits we’ve picked up over the last several years:

Protesting–Stop protesting protests.  Yes, I know. Americans don’t think it’s a good protest until they throw a cinder block through a plate glass window.  Complain about that. But protesting remains a fundamental piece of American democracy.  Plus, the reasoning behind hating protests is always flawed, be it after a police shooting or a presidential election as contentious as this one.   If you’re a Trump supporter saying,  “I know he said some hateful things, but I needed to do what’s best for me and my family.  Why can’t you guys unify behind that” you need to work on your unification skills.

“To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men” Abraham Lincoln

Patriotism–This goes hand in hand with protesting. If you stand at attention every morning, hand over heart, as your pet bald eagle raises the flag while your children read the preamble to the Constitution that’s tattooed on your back, you definitely love our country. Guess what? So do people who kneel or sit during the national anthem. Or burn or step on the flag. Or protest wars. Stop calling those people “un-American” or telling them to leave the country. They are just as patriotic as you. They’re just showing it in a different way.

“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism” Howard Zinn

Name-calling–I’ve done it. You’ve done it.  Hell, our politicians do it.  But if you want to win a debate or change someone’s mind, calling them a “racist” or “libtard” usually isn’t a good way to go about it.  You may call someone names who is NOT involved in the conversation.  But don’t attack your opponent. Any “kumbaya” moment around the campfire usually ends when someone tosses around “xenophobe” or “stupid.”

“When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser”  Socrates

Political correctness–You morons don’t even know what this means (see the political incorrectness there?)  Originally, liberals used it to mock each other for using “correct” terms about a group for political gain. Then, somewhere in the late 80s, both sides weaponized it. The GOP began calling it the “thought police” in an attempt to peel away working-class whites while the Democrats used it to appeal to minorities like women and African-Americans.  Now, everything offends everybody and we must always apologize even if it’s completely insincere.  We really need to purge it from our vocabularies.  Lefties, stop getting offended if I say “fireman” instead of “firefighter” or when a celebrity wears a Native American costume.  Righties, stop calling liberals “snowflakes” while at the same time wailing about the lack of them on a Starbucks cup.

Compromise–People constantly bring up how this word doesn’t exist in Arabic.  Well, it doesn’t really exist here either.  A Pew research poll shows most Americans believe compromise means getting at least 60% of what they want.  I’m pretty sure this describes both our Congress and marriage.  If we, the people, can’t even agree on what compromise is, how do we find ways to compromise politically? Maybe the Arabic language got it right.  It uses the word “taaradhin” [tah-rah-DEEN] which implies a positive “win-win” mentality.

Religion–Religion should be a personal relationship with your God.  Go to church, post Bible verses on Facebook, pray.  But stop with the Darth Vader “I find your lack of faith disturbing” public tirades.  Stop voting for fringe evangelicals like Dr. Ben Carson and Pat Robertson.  Stop re-electing politicians who try to pass overtly religious bills like State Rep. David Moore of Montana (who wanted to add yoga pants to the state’s indecent exposure law) or Arizona state Sen. Sylvia Allen who suggested making Sunday church service mandatory.  Stop blaming the country’s problems on a loss of faith.  Our problems stem from the lack of faith in government and lack of acceptance of others beliefs, not the lack of acceptance of God or Jesus Christ as your lord and savior.

“Religion is like a penis.  It’s perfectly fine to have one and take pride in, but when one takes it out and waves it in my face, we have a problem.”  Author unknown

Diversity of thought–Did you know the FBI agent suspected in the Hillary Clinton email leaks  committed “suicide?” Or that Donald Trump was born in Pakistan and his real name is Dawood Ibrahim Khan?  Well, millions of you believe it despite factual evidence to the contrary.  That’s called “confirmation bias” and it’s killing diversity of thought in America.  “Confirmation bias” means people search out or interpret facts in ways to back up their own beliefs.  Enter slanted commentary and “fake news” websites.  We surround ourselves with re-enforcers of our beliefs. Our friends, news, and politicians must say what we already think, otherwise they are biased or liars or pinko Commie bastards.  This is the single biggest destroyer of unity in our country.  You need people around you who think differently and push back against each others’ preconceived notions and beliefs. Being a Democrat shouldn’t mean you can’t be pro-life or pro-gun rights just like a pro-gay marriage stance shouldn’t disqualify you from being a Republican.  Remember, 2+2=4.  But so does 3+1.

“Diversity: the art of thinking independently together”  Malcolm Forbes

Voting changes–Yes, we need to make some changes.  But getting rid of the Electoral College is so 2012 (Fox News and Forbes both published anti-EC commentaries when they thought Romney may win the popular vote and lose the presidency.)  Pushing for term limits shows desperation:  “Hello, Congress?  Hi, it’s ‘We, the People.’  We’re too stupid and lazy to vote senators and representatives out of office.  Could you handle that for us?  Thanks!”  Neither of these will pass.  Plus, we need to find ways to get MORE people to vote. Why not set up a national voter registry like most advanced industrial nations while changing all Congressional terms to four years.  All federal elections would take place in the same year, when most people come out to vote because it’s a presidential election.  Weird, I know.  That way, we can overhaul the White House and Congress, and everybody starts fresh at the same time.

Blame–This is the single biggest reason we now call Donald Trump President-elect. He played the blame game, plain and simple.  Illegal immigrants steal jobs and drive down wages. Muslims scare us because they’re trying to sneak in and kill us.  The media is biased.  Our elections are corrupt.  Many of you drank it in like a Bill Cosby cocktail, complete with the memory loss of who to really blame.  We did this. Let me repeat myself:  WE DID THIS.  I’ve said it hundreds of times:  “Government is a reflection of the governed.”  Any problem in this country can be traced back to what we as citizens, voters, and consumers do or allow.  We blame Obamacare for job loss instead of blaming the business owners who actually cut the jobs or the insurance companies who hike rates.  We want illegals kicked out until we have to pay $20 for a watermelon.  We complain about our crumbling infrastructure while refusing to pay more in taxes to fix it.  And we complain about government gridlock while re-electing the politicians perpetuating the gridlock.  Time to stop blaming everything else and start fixing the real problem:  We, the people.

“In a free society, government reflects the soul of its people. If people want change at the top, they will have to live in different ways. Our major social problems are not the cause of our decadence. They are a reflection of it.”  Cal Thomas

 

WTF happened?

Donald J. Trump is President-Elect.  Let that sink in for a bit.  Thanks a lot, 2016!  Now, as we begin dissecting why the pollsters missed it and the political pundits missed it and the media missed it and the Clinton and Trump staffs missed it, this is the first thing I thought of:

I think I know what happened. But none of us want to admit it.  

Everyone will admit Hillary Rodham Clinton is an extremely flawed candidate. Voting for her is like needing a colonoscopy–you avoid doing it until you have to.  I told my wife there was a 50-50 chance I’d vote Republican this year until Donald Trump became the nominee. To me, a smart potential presidential candidate doesn’t set up a personal server as Secretary of State.  You don’t project an arrogance about the democratic process. You don’t act like the candidacy is a coronation.  You don’t attack voters who believe differently.  But I still believe in the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” in our country’s judicial system. So I willed myself to vote for her based on her policy ideas, or Trump’s lack thereof. I’m like a kid on Christmas when it comes to Election Day.  But this year…ugh.  

I don’t believe this election was about that. Nor do I believe those who #feelthebern would be celebrating an election victory today.  Bernie Sanders’ socialist message inspired millions of Democrats and millennials.  But could he seriously  beat a GOP candidate who presented a similar populism without the negative connotations associated with socialism?

I honestly don’t believe this election was about Donald J. Trump either.  How can you after seeing the results?  Many of you think Hillary is a criminal. And you may be right. But does that explain how evangelicals overlooked the flaws of an ungodly man?  Does it explain how some women overlooked the flaws of a perceived sexist?  Does it explain how many Republican leaders overlooked the flaws of a candidate they not only disliked but many downright despised?  Does it explain how many of us claimed to want change in Washington and then overlooked the flaws of Republican incumbent senators who spent six years perpetuating gridlock?  Does it explain how Hillary Clinton could very well win the popular vote and lose the electoral college a la Al Gore after her husband’s two-term presidency?  Does it explain how pollsters and pundits from every political spectrum completely whiffed on this outcome?  Nope. 

If you really loved Trump, polls would show it.  The GOP would have won more seats in the Senate.  White college-educated voters would have voted in bigger numbers for him.  President Obama’s approval ratings wouldn’t be in the mid-50s and consistently going up since Trump won the GOP candidacy.  A conservative in Utah, a former Republican governor who eats marijuana edibles and a Cincinnati Zoo primate would never impact this election.  People focused on jobs and the economy would have demanded a more extensive plan.  He would have released his taxes. 

So WTF happened?  Whose body lies on the election autopsy table?  Mine.  Many of yours.  About half the country’s.  This wasn’t about the candidates or the issues or the political parties. As Trump likes to say, this was about YOU.  And your revenge.   

Remember, revenge is a dish best served cold.  You don’t want the other person to see it coming, like the outcome of this election.  Well, this dish cooked for eight years and fed many of us a heapin’ helpin’ of Clinton crow.  Look at all that’s changed since 2008.  This is revenge against all of us who voted for a “Muslim-Kenyan” twice and a “criminal” once. This is revenge for marijuana legalization, abortion rights, and a rise in atheism. It’s revenge for LGBT rights, gay marriage, and transgender bathrooms. It’s revenge for believing in policies like single-payer or universal healthcare and free college.  It’s revenge for wanting a path to citizenship, wanting to get out of the Middle East and the rise of ISIS. This is revenge for the Supreme Court rulings, political correctness and “Black Lives Matter.” Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan backs up my argument. To me, the “again” refers to both a time of economic prosperity but also a time before all of this happened.  Just look at the divisiveness of the election campaign. We just fought a political civil war. Brother vs. brother. Friend vs. friend. Tweeting vs. unfriending. Most of you voted for Trump out of anger. Some of that anger is directed at Washington, D.C. and the establishment.  Some of it is the economy, jobs, and trade.  But nearly all of you are pissed off at the rest of us.  

If you truly want us to come together, you need to admit that.  I believe in conceding when you lose and getting behind the new President.  If “Crooked Hillary” won, it would have upset many of you.  However, over time, that emotion would dissipate and we would return to relative calm.  But how do you ask an African-American to support someone whom he or she believes is a racist?  How do you ask Muslims to support someone whom they believe is a xenophobe?  Or women who believe he’s a sexist or misogynist or sexual predator?  How about Hispanics who believe he wants to split up their family?  That doesn’t even include the LGBT community, atheists, progressives, people who may lose health care if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, etc., etc., etc.  And perhaps, most importantly, how do you ask someone like me to support Donald Trump?  I am a white male largely unaffected by the outcome.  I dislike Hillary. But I am a former journalist. And not only did Trump consistently attack the media, some of you did too.  

This picture personifies the problem we face moving forward as a severely divided nation.  When you ask Clinton supporters to now get on the Trump train, you’re asking us to sit next to this guy.  You’re asking minorities to overlook Trump winning 58% of the white vote while attacking nearly everyone else.  You’re asking her female supporters to forget the gender gap in this election was the largest in the half-century history of exit polling.   That’s why some took a Trump victory to mean this:


I don’t believe that.  These types of allegations upset me just as much as they upset you.  The question is–why didn’t Trump’s remarks upset you as much as they upset me?  This feels an awful lot like someone who says, “Why are you blaming me?!  I’m not the one who committed the murder.  I just helped bury the body.”  Is Trump’s child-care policy, repealing Dodd-Frank or filling the Supreme Court SO important you’re willing to overlook every, single hurtful thing he said about some of your friends?  In our eyes, Trump left bullet-riddled corpses strewn all over 5th avenue.  And as he predicted, you just looked the other way.  That’s what makes this election personal.  Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama can all ask us to unite.  But as I said earlier, it’s not about them. It’s about you.  It’s why people are crying.  It’s why you’re losing Facebook friends.  They need to know you don’t believe in everything coming out of Trump’s mouth. If you really hope for a less divisive America, don’t gloat. Don’t tell the grieving to get over it.  Reach out.  Explain yourself.  Make the effort to understand and accept why she won the popular vote.  Listen to why we didn’t support him. It’s the only way for us to accept why you did.

Finding Mr. or Mrs. “Right”

We need to talk.

I know you hate those words. They send a shiver down your spine.  Nothing good ever follows that statement.

But we do.  I wanted to talk for a while.  I’ve attempted to blog several times about the craziness of these past few months.  I sat down at the computer, poised to start a real conversation about the “Summer of Trump” vs. #FeeltheBern.  Or the Hillary e-mails and recent Republican Benghazi blunders.  Or Jeb.

I tried.  I failed.

I blame you for this.  When I heard Vice President Joe Biden say Republicans “aren’t our enemies” I suddenly realized why I suffered from “blogger’s block.”  It’s not me.  It’s you.

You probably want to know what’s hurting our relationship.  It’s complicated.  I love many of you.  I treasure our relationships.  But I realized many of you are not “Mr. or Mrs. Right” because, well, I’m tired of you always believing you are.  Right, that is.

Good Housekeeping says someone thinking they’re always right is one of the 15 sneaky signs a marriage will end in divorce.  With our divorce rate hovering around 50%, I’m guessing that’s a big reason.  Another sneaky sign could be political views.  In 2010, a study found 40% of us would be “upset” if our child married someone of the other political party, up from just 5% 50 years earlier.  Apparently, many of you answer the question “Do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right?”  with “Right and angry!”

Just look at the 2016 presidential race.   The media perpetuates the myth of the rise of the “outsider” buoyed by an “anger at Washington, DC.”  I believe the early leaders just stroke your ego and say things you want to hear. “Birther” Donald Trump screams about deporting illegal immigrants and calls everyone names.  Dr. Ben Carson says the pyramids were Joseph’s grain silos, he wouldn’t back a Muslim for president and President Barack Obama is a “psychopath.”  Carly Fiorina rails about Planned Parenthood, abortion, and Hillary Clinton.  Even beloved Bernie Sanders’ wild ride continues because he blasts greed, corporations, and the rich.  Most of you backing these candidates don’t do it because you agree with them.  It’s because THEY agree with YOU.  We now want candidates who reinforce our own beliefs instead of candidates we believe in.

The proof is in the papal pudding.  How many of you are Catholic yet cringe when Pope Francis speaks?  He says weapons manufacturers are hypocritical for calling themselves Christian.  He blames “a selfish and boundless thirst for power and material prosperity” for man-made climate change and the destruction of the environment.  He even stood up for godless heathens like me.  Of course, some Catholics spoke out against their leader.  Catholic GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum said Francis should “leave science to the scientists.”  When the Pope addressed Congress last month, a Catholic congressman and three Catholic Supreme Court Justices failed to show up.  While the justices never said why,  Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona said “when a Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.”  Like religion, politics now feels more like a faith.  Instead of thinking you are right, you FEEL it.  You KNOW it.

I know I’m right when I say government is the reflection of the governed. Take a look in the mirror when dysfunction in Washington, DC angers you.  Or simply post something on Facebook.  Whether it’s politics, sports, music, movies, where you eat, how you raise your kids, we no longer discuss and debate.  We cuss and defriend.  If you are not with us, you’re against us, right?  Debate begins with anger and name-calling over where we disagree when we should start with where we agree.  A recent Pew Research Center survey found liberals and conservatives  view compromise as getting at least two thirds of what they want.  We no longer WANT to learn and understand why others think differently.  Now, we simply CAN’T understand it.

That leads me to an article I read recently, revealing a little-known story about three Freedom Riders murdered for registering black voters in Mississippi in 1964.  While the movie Mississippi Burning focused on those murders, this story focused on the shocking confessions of two of the Klansmen.  They told investigators they kidnapped the teens at gunpoint and marched them into the woods.  They said the shooter then asked one of the teens, Michael Schwerner, if he was “that nigger lover.”  Schwerner replied, uttering words the Klansmen said changed their lives.

“Sir, I know just how you feel.”

Let that sink in.  Let me repeat it:

“Sir, I know just how you feel.”

Many of you can’t even say that today when we talk about guns, let alone with one pointed at you.   This teen found the courage to follow Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s mantra that “love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into friend.”  Today, we lack the courage to even listen to what our “enemies” have to say.  And many times, it’s not even our enemies but people we call friends.  Schwerner knew the only way to save his life was to find common ground and understanding in the same way Dr. King’s nonviolent resistance changed the nation.  As I said in this recent blog, change and compromise only happen when you GIVE something.  Trying to stop someone from believing whatever they want only emboldens them to fight harder.  That’s why King fought to change hearts and minds while others fought with dogs and water cannons.  King believed the system created injustice, not the people.  In waging a war for civil rights, he believed being civil was more important than being right.

He was right.

PC in the USA

A black guy, a Mexican, a redneck, an attorney, a guy in a wheelchair, a guy who likes to party, and I walk into a bar…..

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.  While it sounds like the beginning of a very complicated joke, it’s actually a description of “The Brethren,” a group of guys I hang with on Thursdays drinking craft beer.  I love these guys like brothers.  Great people.  Great friends.

And unbelievably politically incorrect.  We target everyone, especially each other.  Black jokes.  White jokes.  Hispanic jokes.  Handicapped jokes.  Hell, the best ones usually come from the person you think would be offended.  Yes, sometimes we can take it a little too far.  But it also shows how comfortable we are with each other.

And miraculously, after all the drinks, all the jokes, and all the laughs, none of us ever end the night in handcuffs, arrested by the “PC police.”  In the last couple months, their “Quit it or ticket” political correctness campaign nabbed several high-profile criminals. They caught comedian Amy Schumer telling racist jokes.  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump hates Mexicans.  A college student wrote an op-ed teaching notorious shitstorm stirrer Jerry Seinfeld how to do comedy after Seinfeld complained college campuses were too “pc.”  Seinfeld….think about that.

South Carolina lawmakers passed a bill to stop flying the Confederate flag at the statehouse after a racially-motivated shooting at a Charleston church, a move I wholeheartedly agree with.  However, the “PC police” now want to make it a hate crime to fly the flag, much like the swastika in Europe.  There’s a warrant out for Kid Rock’s arrest because he uses a Confederate flag in his shows.  Oh, wait.  He hasn’t used it in five years.  Never mind.  Obviously, the 1st Amendment right to free speech clearly means “If you can’t say something nice, we won’t allow you to say anything at all.”

Let’s cut through the confusion with these visual aids, shall we?

Pretty simple, right?  And that doesn’t include Muslims, illegal immigrants, and overweight people.  The “PC police” dragnet ensnares more and more offenders, so much so two libertarian authors recently published this book calling out liberals :

endofdiscussion

That’s right, libs.  They blame you for this.  And I agree with much of what they say.  Look, I’m all for political correctness when it involves ending the use of hateful words and derogatory stereotypes.  But somehow, it evolved into outrage over anything that hurts anyone.  Saying or doing something someone finds “offensive” must be followed with an apology.  Your right never to be offended now trumps my right to offend.

But I disagree with putting the blame ENTIRELY on the “Left.”  Those of you on the “Right” need to admit you suffer from your own “PC police” problem.  It also involves a flag, outrage, and apologies.  I call it “patriotic correctness.”

I touched on it in my February blog after former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani questioned whether President Barack Obama “loves America” because he criticizes it.  Last week, the Right’s “PC police” began a manhunt (Is that politically correct?) for pop singer Ariana Grande after security footage from a doughnut shop caught her saying “I hate America.”  Yes, that same video showed her licking the shop’s doughnuts.  But we must denounce Grande for her anti-American sentiment before someone takes her seriously!  A North Carolina pastor and former Army Ranger raised a Christian flag above an American one, and the “PC police” hauled him into Fox News court for judgement by a jury of his peers.

And it happens time after time after time.  Remember this:

muhammad

The organizer of this event claimed there’s a “violent assault on free speech” after a Texas traffic cop killed two gunman trying to stop the event.  And she’s right.  Because if you do this–

Flag_challenge

You receive death threats from Americans.  I’ve seen some of my Facebook friends, people I respect, people of intelligence, post those threats.

Singer Ted Nugent said this about President Obama:

Nugent also said he would either be “dead or in jail” if President Obama won re-election in 2012.  The outpouring of strong comments like “I don’t agree” from the likes of Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Rick Perry forced Nugent to apologize.  Compare that to the 2004 Dixie Chicks comments about President George W. Bush:

Man, after saying that, I completely understand all the death threats, and yells of “traitors” they received.  Much like a Virginia photographer who posted this photo on her Facebook page in March:

And let’s not forget the reaction to Coca-Cola’s multilingual “America, the Beautiful” commercial aired during the 2014 Super Bowl:

cokesongcokesong1

That wasn’t the only tweet accusing Coke of changing the “national anthem.”  I’m sure some of those people lick doughnuts too.

After seeing these reactions, I think you can understand the need for a real political conversation in this country.  These type of emotional reactions not only “shut down debate,” as the book above says.  They give power.  Think about the Confederate flag.  The Civil War began after the election of President Abraham Lincoln out of fear Lincoln would abolish slavery.  Many historians believe the turning point of the war came when Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.  It’s power is that it did not abolish slavery.  It made all slaves in rebellious territories FREE.  It didn’t take away someone’s right.  It GAVE a right to those who did not have it.  And now, those calling for an end to flying the “Stars and Bars” only emboldens the people who want to fly it.  You see it time and again historically.  The Temperance Movement.  Gay marriage.  Civil rights.  Women’s rights.  Change and compromise can only occur by giving something, not by taking something away.

That’s why I fight for the right to offend.  So I leave you with my favorite joke–“What do you call a black person who flies an airplane? ”

“A pilot, you fucking racist!”

It makes me laugh every time.  Why?  Think about it.

Mexican Standoff

I suffer from a Game of Thrones hangover.  My wife and I love the show.  I read all the books.  And now, with season 5 ending last month, I flip through television channels aimlessly looking for something to fill the void.  A little True Detective.  Some Penny Dreadful.  Lots of political shows. And in doing so, I realized I’m watching a real life GoT right now.  Every day, we see another person enter the ring, vying to sit on the “Iron Throne” in the Oval Office.  Homosexuality continues to be a contentious religious debate.  Everybody hates the rich family.

And of course, Winter is coming.  And the wildlings need to move south.  Or in our case, winter is a few months away.  And the illegal immigrants keep pouring in from all directions.  Some of you, including most Republicans, believe we need to close the southern border with Mexico, like the Night’s Watch protecting the Wall keeping the wildlings out.  Of course, it didn’t really work on the show.  But….still.  Others, like most Democrats, side with the Chamber of Commerce, believing any reform must offer amnesty for the nearly 12 million illegals already here.  Yes, liberals are teaming up with the arch-enemy of unions.  It’s like Sansa Stark saying, “Look, I know the Lannisters cut off my father’s head, paid the Boltons to kill my mother and brother, and left my other brother paralyzed by throwing him out a window.  But I really think they are the best choice to lead Westeros.”

This is why Congress can’t seem to agree on a reform bill.  At least, that’s what it looks like on television.  However, a recent Pew Research Center poll shows 72% of us think reform should allow illegals to stay legally.  Nearly 50% want a path to citizenship.  And a little over 50% think “a lot” more can be done to improve border security.  In other words, we’re the Season 5 cliffhanger–let the wildings in, put more “Crows ” on the Wall, and prepare for a White Walker attack.  Easy compromise, right?

Not when we don’t treat ALL illegal immigrants the same.  Just compare the two largest groups–Mexicans and Asians.  As of 2012, 11.2 million illegal immigrants lived in the United States. Mexicans make up about 52% while Asians about 12%.  Spanish ranks as the second most spoken language in the United States with Chinese third.  While immigration from Mexico remains high, deportations keep their numbers flat.  But the Asian invasion continues, making it the fastest-growing immigrant group in the country.

Yet, you don’t hear cries for a wall at Los Angeles airports.  No one yells at them to “Speak American!”  They’re Mr. Miyagi from the Karate Kid films.  Intelligent, quiet, hard-working people with small families who run dojos out of their homes.  Over 50% graduate with a Bachelor’s degree or higher, the highest percentage of any ethnic group in the United States. They bring in a median household income of a little less than $71,000 a year, higher than any other race, including whites. Our interactions with them usually involve dry cleaning our clothes, making our sushi and Thai food, and giving us mani-pedis.  “Wax on.  Wax off.”

But Mexicans are Cousin Eddie from the Vacation movies, right down to the white, patent leather shoes.  An uninsured Hispanic illegal once hit my wife’s car.  Turned out the woman just left a store after a quick shoplifting trip.  Our Mexican neighbors like to spend their weekends with 30 of their closest friends and family eating, drinking and singing Spanish songs with a live mariachi band until the wee hours of the morning.  We look at them like the rednecks of Hispanic immigrants.  Loud, obnoxious people who sneak into the country.  Many are Catholic and don’t believe in birth control, leading to large families.  Only six percent graduate with a Bachelor’s degree or higher, meaning most come here dirt poor. Once here, they earn a median household income of less than $37,000 a year. Mexicans steal from us, literally as criminals, or figuratively, taking jobs and government benefits.  They like tiger and leopard prints.  They set off fireworks to celebrate EVERYTHING. “Shitter was full!”

These personal experiences not only shape our beliefs, they shape the entire immigration debate.  That’s why you can’t turn on the television right now without hearing about Mexicans.  Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump blasts them as criminals and not only gets air time, but goes UP in the polls.  National networks play up and dissect last week’s story about a Mexican illegal, deported five times, who shot a 32 year old woman in San Francisco.  Every immigration reform story starts and ends with the southern border.  Asians are boring.  If you want viewers and votes, it’s all about the Mexicans, baby!

These beliefs cloud our judgement and create a literal Mexican standoff on immigration.  By definition, it can only end when “an outside event makes it possible to resolve it.”  In my next blog, I’ll explain why that outside event needs to be a change in all of us.  Because, in the immortal words of the wildling Ygritte–

“You know nothing, Jon Snow.”

 

 

Exceptional criticism

I love America.

Our republic is unlike any other.  With my mouth, thank goodness for freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  In our country, you can be who you are, and dream of being anything you want to be.  We have a say in who our leaders are, and what they do.  And in how many countries can I spend a weekend sitting on my ass watching four straight episodes of Undercover Boss?

But this blog proves I’m also critical of my country.  I think the Iraq war was a huge mistake.  I believe universal health care is a right, not a privilege.  I absolutely abhor the divisiveness, name-calling, and lack of real debate.  And I wish the hyphenated last names fad was just that.  I prayed for years Joseph Gordon-Levitt would marry Jennifer Love-Hewitt just to see if she would take the name Jennifer Love-Hewitt-Gordon-Levitt.

Please don’t tell Rudy Giuliani.

Apparently, the former mayor of New York City believes President Barack Obama doesn’t love America because he criticizes it.  Giuliani said it at a private dinner event last week featuring Wisconsin governor and potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate Scott Walker.  He believes the President does not love you. Or me. Or him.  And what’s not to love about “America’s Mayor,” right? (Thank you for that one, Oprah!)  He seems so cute and cuddly.  Giuliani backed up his claims by saying President Obama never talks about America’s exceptionalism like past Democratic presidents did.

The backlash towards Giuliani’s comments honestly surprised me.  It’s like attacking Kim Kardasian for talking about her butt.  What else does he have to talk about?  Giuliani’s just taking a page out of the GOP playbook–“Paint Democratic candidate (blank) as ‘not one of us” if they are rich, went to an Ivy League school, criticizes Israel, may be non-religious, refuses to accept American exceptionalism, etc.  Interchangeable with the words ‘elitist’ or ‘socialist.'”  It’s red meat for those of you still pushing Obama’s Muslim, Kenyan, not born in the United States myth.  Giuliani didn’t address you directly.  But we all knew what he meant.

And what he did NOT mean is black.  Some of you need to stop using that “dog whistle.”  Yes, some Republican voters are racists.  And by some, I mean those few who still deck out their Ford F-150s with a Confederate flag, camouflage and Truck Nutz.  But you can’t continue to defend Muslims with the “all Muslims aren’t terrorists” card, while playing the “If you pander to racists, you are one” card.  As I said in a previous blog, it’s not him. It’s us.  President Obama represents a changing of the guard, if you will.  He gave marijuana smoking, gay-marrying, tree-hugging, immigrant-loving, non-religious voters a voice.  And the GOP hates him for THAT.

And American exceptionalism is just another weapon to attack him for that. Republicans have a long history of tying the belief of our exceptionalism to “love of country” while using criticism as proof of the lack of love.  Remember the political fight over whether you support our troops if you do not support the war in Iraq?  It works because we naturally respond emotionally to it.  As an “exceptional” child “unfairly” criticized by his parents, I always wondered how you could criticize something or someone you claim to love.  I found a way to get a “B” in my high school Composition class without having to write one of the major papers assigned to me.  Instead of using my library time to research and write, I read the newspaper right in front of the teacher.  Pure genius.  But my parents believed I was better than that.  And gave me a tongue lashing for it.

And guess what?  They were right to do so.  They loved me and believed I was better than that.  They told me I wasn’t living up to my full potential.  They wanted me to use the DNA they bestowed to me to be the best I could be, not to find ways just to slide by.  As Voltaire said, and Uncle Ben reiterated to Peter Parker, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

I believe that.  And I believe the President does too.  And that’s why I criticize our country.  I receive the benefits of one of the best emergency health care systems in the world.  But the Commonwealth Fund ranks our health care system dead last among developed countries, despite spending more money on it than anyone else.  Eight of the top ten universities in the world reside in the U.S., but overall, our education systems ranks 17th.  Similarly, eight of the top ten richest people call America home, causing one of the most unequal income distributions among developed countries.  At least we rank #1 in incarcerated citizens.

That’s why we need to stop criticizing the criticism.  We need to embrace the fact nothing is perfect, including our beloved America.  We should want people to find ways to improve our systems instead of attacking them for not accepting the status quo.  Let’s have a real conversation about what we do and how we do it by giving everyone a seat at the table and allowing all voices to be heard, critical or otherwise.

That’s what’s so ironic about Giuliani’s criticism.  American exceptionalism begins with the right to criticize our leaders without retribution.  Yet, he believes our leaders shouldn’t openly criticize the country giving him that right.  No one doubts this country has done, and continues to do, exceptional deeds.  But those deeds, from the Constitution to the creation of the Internet, from the end of slavery to the election of our first black president, sprung from a want for change or improvement.  Our greatest leaders, inventors, capitalists, and athletes prove it to us time and again.

You can only be exceptional by believing you are not.