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Posted by on Feb 28, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

Revulsion for the Man vs. Respect for the Office

 

 

If someone you absolutely loath was elected President of the United States, if you were to meet that person, would you agree to shake hands?

 

Within a few minutes, President Donald Trump will make his first-ever address to a joint session of congress.

In response, some opposition legislators have announced their intentions to openly rebuke the 45th president.  Some Democrats won’t attend at all.  Others will stand silently in the House gallery and refuse to clap, which is the customary gesture of respect afforded to all chief executives both when they enter and depart the chamber.  At least one Democrat has stated that he will not shake President Trump’s hand, if it’s extended.

That’s what you call a rebuke.

No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, we can all agree on one thing.  American democracy entered unprecedented and uncharted political territory, and the ways things are now headed, the great continental divide may only get worse in coming months and years ahead.  In other words, pretty soon, this might get really, really ugly.

How did this happen?

President Trump has brought this level of ire entirely upon himself.  His outrageous behavior, insulting demeanor, repeated lies, petty bickering, and brazen unwillingness to work with members of the legislative branch (even those within his own party) has alienated representatives on both side of the aisle on Capital Hill.  He’s not exactly been Reaganesque when it comes to charm, either.  He is, to millions, actually billions — a repulsive figure.

This unparalleled rebuke isn’t really partisan.  Party lines don’t explain the intensity of repugnance.  Consider that President Bush was viciously slammed by Democrats, especially during the last two years of his administration, when two pointless wars raged on and the economy finally crumbled into the crapper.  Still, the Democrats always stood up and applauded President Bush at all official and ceremonial events.  He was always treated with respect.  Personal exchanges between partisans were even cordial on every occasion.  Indeed, for all his faults (and they were staggering), most of his political opponents personally liked President Bush — the man.  And so, he was afforded not just common courtesy, but respect because of the office he held and the gentleman he was (is).

During President Obama’s eight years in office, Republicans sometimes took off the gloves when it came to civility.  One attention-seeking Republican congressman even shouted at President Obama during a State of the Union address, eliciting audible gasps from both Republicans and Democrats.  Yet, while Republicans treated President Obama in a vile manner, within partisan circles and when riling up the base, they still afforded the 44th president all the standard courtesies.  They stood and applauded when he entered the House chamber.  They might not have been very congenial behind closed doors.  But at least Republicans acted civil in the presence of the President and in front of the American people.

However, President Trump is a different animal, entirely.  And frankly, I’m not even sure how to react to him.  Many on the Left are also having difficulty coming to terms with this new reality.  The question is — can we revile the man, but still respect the office?  

I don’t know.

Certainly, my personal and professional experience in Washington. D.C. culture strongly influences my view on this.  I’ve spend almost half my adult life living and working in the nation’s capital.  Those years not only enriched my life and afforded me an extraordinary world view, it also exposed me to all kinds of different people with a wide gambit of political ideas.  Throughout my experience in Washington, we were taught to respect those who were in office.  Congressmen were always addressed with the preamble, “The Honorable….”  Political appointees were always afforded some measure of deference.  And, the highest elected official in the land was always addressed as “Mr. President.”  There were no exceptions.  Ever.  Republican or Democrat — the office deserved dignity.  Always.

President Trump makes continuing these proud traditions most difficult.  A man who by all accounts appears mentally unbalanced, who is utterly obsessed with himself, who has displayed unwarranted hostility towards a majority of American citizens, and who is attacking basic rights, protections, and institutions does NOT deserve my respect.  That view is shared by a lot of people, it seems.

I tried hard to give President Trump the benefit of the doubt, at least for awhile.  Like many Leftists, I was initially appalled by the 2016 election results.  But, I accepted them and was fully prepared to move on and make the best of things, presuming Donald Trump the bombastic con-man would somehow grow into the office and come to portend some measure of dignity within the office once held by Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt.

So far, that has not happened.  Until it does, I see no reason to respect either the man, or the office.

For me, as a political traditionalist, what some might even called old-fashioned, as someone with dozens of friends and associates who have been and remain Trump supporters, this isn’t a decision I take lightly.  I do want to believe my elected officials.  I do want to respect them, even those I’m opposed to politically.  I do want to give them the courtesies they would normally be entitled to.

Sorry.  But I cannot give that respect to this man who will walk into the House of Representatives tonight and address the nation.  My respect isn’t a rubber stamp.  It’s not given lightly, nor automatically.  He was given a chance to earn my respect.  So far, all he’s earned is my revulsion.

 

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Posted by on Feb 27, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

Insurance Company Loansharking

 

 

Um, no it’s not, you lying-ass stooge!

U.S. health insurance companies are not, according to this early-morning tweet by President Trump, “provid(ing) great healthcare to the American people.”

Insurance companies are, in fact, undermining health care in America.  They’re doing whatever they can to deny coverage to as many Americans as possible, at the highest possible margins to ensure massive company profits — to the exclusive benefit of shareholders and bonus-whoring company executives.

Yes indeed, great healthcare *is* being provided by some extraordinarily dedicated people in this country.   Allow me to mention them now.

They are called doctors.

They are called nurses.

They are called medical technicians.

They are called caregivers.

They are also called researchers and educators.

These are the genuine heroes of American medicine — not an Oval Office crammed with insurance executives, you morally-bankrupt, dim-witted, anti-intellectual prick!

Add up all the hefty salaries ending in lots of zeroes and the expense accounts paid out just to the 13 insurance industry loan sharks who visited to President Trump this Monday morning.  Their average salary rings in at about $14 million, not including all the bonuses and stock options to be paid out.  Then, there’s all the dirty PAC money spent to keep this corrupt for-profit, milk-the-American public system fully in tact.  These cretins are President Trump’s heroes of healthcare, greedy bastards much like himself with no real objective in life other than to cream their sweet margins off the top at the terrible expense of everyone else struggling to keep up.

Meanwhile, all the medical professionals who actually make the sacrifices for their patients — the doctors and nurses — get stuck with massive student loan debt.  They suffer disproportionate levels of family breakups, including divorces.  They endure considerably more stress than virtually every other occupation, working all hours of the day and night to keep us as healthy as possible.

A Tweet from President Trump thanking the real heroes of medicine would have been nice.  A thought or two acknowledging the dedication of those who willingly chose the medical profession would be a noble gesture.

But instead, the self-absorbed clueless rube sitting at his desk in the most powerful office in the land choose to make an absurd statement that it’s insurance companies which “provide great healthcare to the American people.”

The only thing insurance companies provide is higher costs to all Americans and obscene payouts to their executives.  That’s it.  Nothing more.  Nothing else.

 

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Posted by on Feb 21, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, What's Left | 2 comments

The Tipping Point on Gay Rights

 

 

Last night, I attended a monthly meeting at the Clark County Democratic Party headquarters, here in Las Vegas.

As is regularly the custom, speakers from various organizations show up at these meetings to inform and educate those of us in the audience on important issues of the day.

James Healey was the latest guest speaker.  He’s a progressive activist who also works full time as a casino executive for MGM-Mirage corporation.  Healey previously served as a legislator in the Nevada State Assembly.  He also happens to be gay.

I normally wouldn’t mention that, because it’s no more relevant than if he has blue eyes or brown eyes.  But since our nightly topic of discussion was gay rights, which are now under serious threat by the Trump Administration (and many state legislatures and localities — which lean Republican), his presentation was accompanied by both an added sense of passion and urgency.

Let’s be clear.  To our credit as a nation, American public opinion has evolved rather quickly on the once-controversial topic of gay rights.  Virtually everyone now knows someone who’s openly gay.  Popular television shows and movies feature gay characters, who are usually portrayed in a positive way.  Young people overwhelming see a person’s sexual orientation as a total non-issue.  The stats don’t lie — For the first time ever, a majority of the country believes gay people are entitled to equal rights and protections, including marriage equality.

That’s all a good thing.

After I heard the talk, while driving home, I pondered my own mental and emotional “evolution” on the subject of gay rights.  I’m not proud of this, but as a teenager, I used to engage in the typical pranks of philistine adolescence, which — sorry to say — included making derogatory remarks about those who were suspected to be homosexual.  I used insensitive slurs, including “faggot” and other mean words on regular occasion.  That didn’t make me a bad person.  Those actions were however, a reflection of my ignorance, and to a greater extent — a lack of exposure to the full diversity that makes up the American Experience.

I’m not sure there was any single moment that qualifies as a “tipping point” for me on gay rights.  That is to say, I don’t remember any specific incident that transformed me from the typical brutish-acting macho straight guy into someone far more empathetic and compassionate for people who on other times would have been inviting targets.  Perhaps it was attending college and simply being exposed to new ideas.  Maybe it was getting older and wiser.  Probably, it was working long hours in bars and restaurants, a trade where I regularly encountered people who were openly gay.  That was way back in the early 1980’s, an era that wasn’t nearly as tolerant about alternative lifestyles, as today.  There was also the terrible AIDS scare happening at the time, which certainly didn’t help straight culture to better understand gay culture.

Maturity, I believe, is incremental.  It’s all a gradual process.  Over time, I came to understand that gay rights was to our time as the civil rights struggle was to the generation which proceeded us.  And today, there are other noble causes, and there will me more things to fight for in the future.  The struggle for justice never ends.  There’s always a voice in the dark needing aid and comfort from torment.  Freedoms are an obligation to be protected by all, whether we agree or not with those whom need our support.

What I wonder is this — what made most of us (who are straight) to come around on the subject of gay rights?  Was it watching Will and Grace?  Was it finding out that a friend or loved one was gay?  Was it a personal experience that changed your mind?  What was it?

I think this is a critical question to ask because it provides a list of formulas that are proven to be effective.  If many of us who used to sling cruel derogatory slurs could evolve and ultimately become outspoken advocates of gay rights (which includes many reading these words right now), then we should try to employ those same tactics and with others who haven’t caught on yet in the future.  My belief is this — nearly everyone is capable of being swayed on this issue, dare I say — even conservatives and religious people.  I do believe many conservatives and religious people are good people who want to do the right thing.  Perhaps those who continue to strongly oppose justice and equality for all simply haven’t been approached yet….in the right way.  Our mission must be to find ways to reach them.

To be clear, there is a vocal contingent within the gay activist movement which vociferously rejects the notion of gaining “acceptance” from mainstream society.  Rightfully, their belief is that human rights and legal protections aren’t souvenirs to be handed out by the majority as though they’re providing favors.  In other words, they don’t give a damn whether you approve of them, or not.

Good for them.  Defiance can indeed be courageous.

However, since the potential rollback on gay rights is now very real in this country (and certainly continues to be a monumental problem in many foreign cultures), it would be advisable for those of us who are engaged in the fight to try and better understand on what works, versus what doesn’t.

And so, I ask those of you who wish to contribute to our understanding of this issue:  What, if anything, was the major turning point that transformed you from either opposition or indifference, to being a supporter of gay rights?

Obviously, this question is geared to those who have successfully evolved on this issue.

To those of you who haven’t yet, we’ll get back at you later.

 

[To join the discussion on Facebook, please CLICK HERE.]

 

A final thought:  I would be remiss were I not to point out Mr. Healey’s observation that Nevada, while progressive on many other issues, doesn’t have much to brag about on this issue.  Yet, strangely enough, within the poker culture, gay rights enjoys widespread support.  Many top poker pros who are openly gay, which makes poker way ahead of other competitive enterprises.  That’s something to be proud of.

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Posted by on Feb 21, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics, Rants and Raves | 8 comments

A Moral Dilemma — What Would You Do?

 

 

A MORAL DILEMMA:

Something happened today that’s causing me considerable mental anguish.  Perhaps you will help and might offer some advice.

This morning, I went shopping at the local Costco.  While in the parking lot, I noticed a man loading his SUV with several boxes.  He reached into his back pocket and took out his wallet.  Next, he put the wallet on the top of his vehicle, and then proceeded to load remainder of the cargo.

Just as I walked past, the man got into his Hummer, started the engine, and then began to drive away.  The man’s wallet tumbled off the top of his car and landed on the pavement, right at my feet.  I picked the wallet up and tried to flag the man down.  However, he drove away too quickly and I wasn’t able to get his attention.

However, I did notice something quite interesting.  The Hummer had a “TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT” bumper sticker on one side and an NRA decal on the other.  The car sped away as I was yelling for him to stop.

There was only one thing I could do.  I looked inside the wallet and found the man’s ID, along with his home address.  He also had several business cards which listed his phone number.  Also, to my astonishment, I found $870 in cash stuffed inside the wallet.

So, now my dilemma is this.  Perhaps you can advise:

Should I fire the whole wad of cash tonight on LSU +3, or use it to pay some bills?

 

Writer’s Note:  Most of this story is purely fictional.  However, I did shop at Costco today.

 

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Posted by on Feb 20, 2017 in Blog, Essays, Politics | 0 comments

America’s Biggest Embarrassment

 

 

A SERIOUS QUESTION:

Admit it — he’s America’s biggest embarrassment.

The rest of the world looks at him in bewilderment and wonders how the hell he made it to such a lofty position.

Everything’s so far that he’s done has been a miserable failure.

Nothing he says makes any sense.

Whatever he puts out gets ridiculed by critics.

They trash him unmercifully in the media.

I must admit, that when I watch him on TV, I want to vomit.

He’s not funny.

He’s not entertaining.

He’s a terrible influence on our culture.

I cringe that children might be watching.

Nobody with a shred of self-respect wants to work with him.

He’s toxic for anyone’s future career plans.

He’s never won an award.

His last few projects lost millions.

So, my question is this……

After so many disasters, how’s it possible later this week, they’re releasing another Adam Sandler movie?

 
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