Friday, September 9, 2016

The Rise of Parrots and Thin Baloney

She listens. so why aren't YOU listening? anyone with a few bucks can own a parrot. You wanna be a parrot, go get yourself a cage. I'm tired of people parroting what they hear on fox news, a well-established mouthpiece for the right wing.

They want parrots and you oblige them again and again. and then you believe their sound bytes like that has depth and value. They want to dumb you down and they are laughing at you as they do it. so why aren't you listening? propaganda is easy to recognize and yellow journalism is alive and well...Clinton should smile more? Are You listening to that? What does it tell you? Is that a policy? Is that a belief? Is that depth? Is that substantial? Is that news? Are you LISTENING to the attack by innuendo? Is that good enough for you?

Maybe I'm full of crap. Maybe I'm a liberal, maybe you can place those same labels you have been trained to use on Clinton, maybe you can use them on me too. Maybe you like being a parrot because its easier to repeat a few small words than it is to study the bigger picture. Here's a cracker, now repeat after me, "Hillary for Prison"

Now get back in your cage till they need you again. Sure do hope they remember to feed you too. You're looking a little thin, kinda of like the baloney they are slicing. Too thin.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Same Old Songs - Verse 1 and 2 - Demo

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Donald Trump's Second Amendment People: A Remedy With No Basis in Reality

In 2010,  Catherine Crabill unsuccessfully ran for the representative seat in the 1st Congressional District in Virginia. Catherine was a self-proclaimed member of the Ultra Conservative Tea Party.   At one point the election, she expressed her views on our democracy by stating that the second amendment was designed to protect citizens from tyranny and that the citizens may have to turn from the ballot box to the bullet box.

Around that same time, Sharron Angle, Former Representative to the Nevada Assembly, and current President of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, stated on the Lars Larsen radio show,
 "You know, our Founding Fathers, they put that Second Amendment in there for a good reason, and that was for the people to protect themselves against a tyrannical government. And in fact Thomas Jefferson said, it's good for a country to have a revolution every 20 years. I hope that's not where we're going, but, you know, if this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying, 'My goodness what can we do to turn this country around? And I'll tell you the first thing we need to do is take Harry Reid out."
 Previously, Ms. Angle had told Bill Manders on his radio show that the second amendment is 
 "to defend ourselves. And you know, I'm hoping that we're not getting to Second Amendment remedies. 
After Sharron Angle lost her bid to defeat Harry Reid for a Nevada Senate seat, Congressman Jim Clyburn, as reported in the Miami Herald, lashed out at what he called her endorsement of a ballet box to the bullet box policy of affecting change when he said,
"Sharron Angle's endorsement of 'Second Amendment remedies' in her losing Nevada campaign against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid contributed to the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords."

While there is no proof her words actually incited a mentally deranged man to attack a member of the U.S. Congress, there is a danger is espousing revolutionary rhetoric. The massive majority of Americans have no interest in overthrowing our own government - we live in the greatest democracy in the history of human civilization.  We are patriots. We love our country. We embrace our liberty.  We just don't agree on everything. We are a melting pot of ideas too.

But there is something more to "Second Amendment Remedies" than a few quotes from the radical right wing of the Republican party.  Major candidates and elected officials have suggested that bullet boxes are permissible when ballot boxes fail to bring desired political results.

Just prior to the Gifford shooting Sarah Palin used gun sight crosshairs on her website to identify congressional districts where she felt  change needed to be targeted.  Do you remember whose district was in the crosshairs? Gabby Gifford's, of course.

After the San Bernadino shootings, Senator Ted Cruz defended our right to bear arms but went a  step further saying that the second amendment is even more than a right to bear arms. He stated the the second amendment can also be used as a
"fundamental check on government". 
 How is that possible unless it is a tyrannical government we must overthrow?  A single gun owner has the power to check our government?  I think there may be an even more valid argument for gun control if that is how our national conservative politicians interpret our second amendment.

In 2014, Milwaukee Sheriff David Clark spoke to the National Rifle Association's Leadership forum, Here is what he said about second amendment remedies:

"you have to be willing to resist any attempt by government to disarm law-abiding people by fighting with the ferociousness of a junkyard dog. For it says in the Declaration of Independence that it is our right, it is our duty, to throw off such government and to provide new guards for our future security.”

Do these folks actually believe that our founding fathers wrote one of the greatest living documents of all time and then left a back door for individual gun owners to murder politicians when they don't agree with their policies or when we are supposedly going in the wrong direction?

When Donald Trump tells the crowd at a rally that 'the second amendment people" can take matters into their own hands AFTER Hillary Clinton gets elected so that she doesn't appoint liberal Supreme Court Justices, he isn't speaking "off the cuff" or blundering off-message.

On the contrary, Donald Trump is sending a clear message to his core followers, those angry white people chanting words of hatred at his rallies: he shares their values.  In his view the election is rigged, and in response he boldly infers to what Clark, Angle, Cruz, and Palin have already stated.   Trump essentially suggested that if he doesn't win at the ballot box, his "second amendment people" might want to use their own bullet box.

Donald trump is Ivy league educated and a graduate of one of the highest rated post-graduate business schools in the world- University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. He didn't obtain those degrees by weaving baskets with his daddy's money.

Donald Trump is an educated man. Even his casually placed taunts are calculated for maximum effect. He knows his audience. Sometimes he uses a coded language he thinks only they understand.  This time his words were a direct threat to Ms. Clinton- and to the very structure and core of our democracy. The code was easy to break and he cannot walk this back.  He is speaking to a movement in a language they clearly understand and he has placed his gun sight cross-hairs on the next President of the United States, once she wins the "rigged" election.

Threatening the life of  a US President is a class E felony under United States Code Title 18, Section 871, punishable up to 5 years in Federal Prison.  The Secret Service are in charge of enforcing that law.  If Donald Trump continues to pander to the radical right wing of his party in this manner, he may one day find himself in handcuffs as an accessory to a federal crime.  

Our Second Amendment is simply worded and carries a strong, patriotic message.. Our right to bear arms is to protect us from tyranny.  The democratic party does not currently control the legislative branch of our government.  There are many, many conservative judges sitting on the federal bench.  Our government is not committing  tyranny against us.   I doubt it ever will because WE THE PEOPLE are the government of the United States.

"WE THE PEOPLE in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence..."

There is no such thing as  a Second Amendment remedy in the U.S. Constitution. There is no amendment that calls for the assassination of  elected officials we don't agree with.  A liberal politician isn't committing tyranny. Liberal and conservatives are participating in the democratic process established by our Constitution,

But there are second amendment people who believe in  second amendment remedies and Donald Trump just gave those far-right wackos the green light to kill his opponent if she wins the election .  That is more than unfair and unbalanced- it is a fearfully dangerous precedent spoken by a candidate with morals no higher than the cash in his wallet.

I hope the Secret Service read Title 18 loud and clear to Mr. Trump.  I hope they gave him a warning that was both stern and strong.  He has gone too far and needs to find his own remedy for his dangerous and unapologetic campaign.


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Diner Talk and Terrorism - Remembering Ross Township

Flags Fly at the Ross Township Municipal Building

Two years ago Friday, a deranged gunman attacked citizens and township officials at a monthly supervisors meeting in Ross Township, Monroe County, Pennsylvania   Three people died including the zoning officer- who I had the honor of working with the winter before he was brutally murdered.

I was their alternate sewage officer at that time but was not present at the meeting.  The primary sewage officer was at the meeting and threw himself over a railing on an emergency exit ramp and fell 15 feet onto hard ground.  He punctured a lung and never fully recovered.  He passed away this past year. I count him as the fourth casualty.

His name was Truman Burnett and he was older than me by a few years.   We were never friends but I respected him and was honored to cover for him when he went to Florida for the winter, fishing in the summer, or when he sold headstones at the West End Fair at the end of August. Each time he would call me and say something like, "Hey kid, I'm taking a week off to go fishing.  I'll call you when I get back"   And just like that, I was covering for him.   I miss him calling up and saying, "Hey Kid".

A week after the mass shooting I was sitting at his desk.  There were bullet holes in the wall with small State Police ID tags taped next to the holes.   There was no "Hey kid" phone call.  When I arrived, a security officer was screening everyone before we entered. The carpet in the meeting room was removed- ruined from all the blood.

  I looked across at the zoning desk of Dave Fleetwood, who was mortally wounded that night. Dave was always so careful about making certain we used a buddy system when we would drive to properties in violation.  He recognized that there were some unstable characters out there and that safety in numbers was prudent.  It is ironic he died in a meeting room full of people.

The window the shooter used in the initial stage of his attack was now boarded up. The room felt sad and full of death. It was very difficult to work there those first few weeks.  I kept thinking about how easy this could happen at any township meeting. It doesn't matter if the shooter is a certifiable or a member of ISIS- the result is the same: innocent people who care about their community will die.

Lots of local folks knew the Ross Township killer and  his family.  He was always crazy, they would tell me.   He was the person who sat at the counter of the local diner and complain loudly about the state of the world- government can't be trusted, and other dark schemes .

At our local diner, there are a couple of crazy old men who sit at the counter and complain loudly about the state of our country- how our government can't be trusted, and other dark schemes.

Here is a snippet of the conversation/monologue overheard while eating breakfast at our local diner:

     "They are discriminating against the white man in this country.  We need to fix that.  This is our country, a white country, built by white men and we need to protect our rights.  We have rights too, ya know.  And we have to do whatever it takes to protect our rights!"

Whatever it takes. That is a dangerous statement one should take to heart,  Now at every township meeting (and there are several each month) I scan the audience for strangers and when the front door rings indicating another person is about to enter the meeting room I tense up just enough and remember to keep low and get to the nearest exit as fast as possible and then run for cover.

This is the new reality of local government service.   Then again, I do the same thing at the movies, at a restaurant, at a concert, or a sporting event.   Perhaps it is simply the new reality that we all share- public meetings, movie theaters, schools, concert halls, festivals, races, or simply riding a train, flying in a plane, or hopping on a bus.  Pay attention to your surroundings and be ready to run for your life.

That should not stop us from enjoying our freedom, so valiantly fought for by so many in the name of country, a freedom that others have spilled blood and given their own lives to defend.  That is why their sacrifice must be deeply respected because if it weren't for them, soldiers and citizens alike, there would be no elections in this country, no freedom of speech, no bill of rights, no right to keep and bear arms, no right to assemble, no rights at all.

My thoughts and prayers are with Ross Township this day.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    


Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Presidential Election: A Choice Between Two World Views

A black sports-like car is driving through our local neighborhoods with a very large  American flag hanging out its window and a sign on the dashboard that says "Fuck Your Opinion".

A local businessman walks into a meeting wearing a baseball cap that says "Make America Great Again". He launches into a 10 minute lecture on how we are all being manipulated by mainstream media.  We are political playdoh, easily molded by the great evil forces unleashed upon us by the corporate candidate. Everyone is complicit. It's a huge conspiracy. The election is rigged.

We try to argue our point but he talks over top of us, barely taking a breath and unwilling to listen to another point of view. He does not want to have a conversation.  He does not want to have a debate. He wants to lecture us. Fuck our opinion.

Welcome to the 2016 Presidential election.

The jobs report is released and its good news, wages are up and there are 225,000 new jobs in the economy.  One candidate sees the silver lining. The other candidate sees the dark, ominous cloud.

During the Iraq war,  four American contractors were captured by Islamic radicals, beaten, burned, dragged through the streets of Fallujah and their bodies hung from a bridge. It was one of the most horrific images of that war and brought forward a sense of outrage in our country.  That story on CNN was a completely different story on Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera reported on an opposite view that held a different conviction. An oppressed people were standing up and fighting back against a foreign invader.  They were defending  their families, their culture, and their country from the United States of America.  The attack on our citizens was a culmination of that anger and betrayal.

Two opposite world views is dangerous, the abyss is too wide between the two sides.  There is no compromise.  One group wants to build a wall the other group wants to build a bridge.  One group preaches tolerance while the other group is intolerant.  One candidate believes our nation is great now and the other candidate believes he can make our broken nation "great again".

Two world views as political movements exposes the fragile underbelly of our democracy.  We must stand up and fight for an inclusive dialogue to bring both groups onto the same playing field, under the same rules, But the movements continue to walk on opposite paths to the presidential election and we may simply have to make a choice and decide which world view is best for our country.

The democratic candidate proclaims that we can work together to better our country. The republican candidate proclaims that he alone can fix our broken system.   Hillary Clinton places a detailed plan on her website that explains how she will work to improve our economy.   Donald Trump calls her the devil and his supporters chant at the rallies "Trump that bitch".  

An opposite world view has taken hold with millions of citizens in our country, Theirs is a dark movement with a dangerous candidate to lead them.  His followers don't care what you think. They place signs in their car windows to taunt us. There is no compromise.

I am choosing civility over thuggery.   I am choosing the bridge over the wall.  I am choosing the silver lining over the dark cloud. I am choosing experience over ego. I am choosing our great nation over our broken nation.

On election day, I'm with her.  

Photo Credit: Doug Mills, New York Times