Monday, February 19, 2018

Our Country Has Lost Its Mind!

Emotions are running high here in the Wild West where another mass shooting at a school last week took the lives of 17 students, and where everybody is being encouraged to carry a weapon because who needs their Jesus anymore when we've got that cold, blue steel in our pocket to protect us?

Our country has lost its mind!

Perhaps it truly is time to reconsider this 2nd Amendment thing of ours. I know that's a very unpopular thing to say but it's becoming more and more evident that we're not responsible enough as a society to continue with this failed freedom in its present form. But the cult of conservatism and the cult of the NRA and the cult of Trump won't allow for discussion on the matter. It's guns for everyone, even some suffering from mental illness, with little to no safeguards! Because of the Dickey Amendment (Republican legislation), the Centers for Disease Control isn't even allowed to study the problem of gun violence to help us gain a better understanding for why we're in this mess. To me, it seems obvious: we have a gun culture that has infected us like a cancer and the doctors who could save us are being paid to sit on their hands and do nothing.

The show, 60 Minutes, did a segment a little more than 2 years ago about smart-gun technology and how it could go a long way toward reducing the number of deaths by guns in our society. The smart-guns work in varying ways: they can recognize your palm print; they can recognize the squeeze of your grip, or they can unlock wirelessly through a special ring or watch that the gun owner wears. They're no cure-all but they certainly show promise toward reducing some of the senseless deaths caused by guns that we're seeing. So what's not to like? Apparently, a lot says the NRA. But anybody attempting to make these safer guns available to the public will have hell to pay because of the cult of the NRA.

I'm encouraged by what I'm hearing from several of the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida where last week's school shooting happened. If these students are any indication of the younger generation, I'm relieved, because my generation is failing us in so many ways.

Students across the country are formulating plans for a march on the 24th of next month. I'm supposed to race my bike that day but I'm considering canceling those plans and attending the march instead.

Some additional thoughts...

I remember how one of Trump's* mantras during his campaign for president was, "We're going to take back America!" I believe he's about to be shown the real meaning of that phrase next November. I'm hopeful that a blue wave of Democrats, spurred on by an energized youth vote will send a clear message that what's happening to our country is not acceptable. That the abuse of his position for personal gain, the rolling back of regulations designed to protect society, and the hollowing out of our country's wealth for the enrichment of a few is not okay. And it's destroying our democracy.

We're a country divided in ways I never imagined possible. And it's destroying our democracy.

Just as guns are a cancer on our society, so too is conservative media with their divisive, hate-filled, fear-mongering rhetoric that appeals to many who are only too happy to embrace it because it fits with their prejudices. I'm confident that historians will look back at this time in our country's history and lay the blame for this divide squarely at the feet of right-wing media. It's frustrating to watch so many people who are unable to see it for what it is: propaganda. And it's destroying our democracy.

Don't believe me? Watch Trump* and his constant cry of "fake news!" and his unquestioning followers who believe him. In their world, unless the news is presented from a far-right slant it's labeled "the liberal media" when, no, it's not -- it's the news -- it's what's happening in our world today but because it doesn't conform to their need for hate and fear to pedal it, it's not good enough and so it's discounted as being liberal or fake, or it's critical of Trump* and therefore it must be fake. We've got a large percentage of our population that can't discern right from wrong and they don't care because they've got their conservative media to reassure them that the only truth that matters is what they would have them believe. And it's a lie. And it's destroying our democracy.

All of our intelligence agencies agree that the Russian government meddled in our last election. It's not a stretch at all to say that in an election as close as this last one, their efforts elected Trump*. It's also the reason I will continue to use an asterisk after his name any time I write it. It's concerning that there are no efforts being taken by Trump's* administration to try and thwart another attack on our elections. There's nothing they can point to that they're doing to reassure the public that this won't happen again, and all of our intelligence agencies are telling us that the attacks are ongoing. Sure, our representatives have agreed to a list of sanctions against Russia but Trump* won't enforce them. Can you imagine if it was Obama acting this way and how conservative media would be reacting? Trump* can do little that's wrong in their eyes and we all suffer for their deception and their followers' ignorance. And it's destroying our democracy.

For all of our access to information and ways we can educate ourselves, it's frustrating how collectively dumb we are as a society. As long as people are content to feed off of propaganda that encourages them to scream bloody murder over Hillary Clinton's handling of emails and how that should be disqualifying for her presidential candidacy, but then show no concern when dozens in Trump's* administration are unable to pass background checks to obtain necessary security clearances, and say nothing while they continue to handle the most sensitive data, we have a problem. For that matter, could Trump* himself pass a background check for a security clearance? I seriously doubt it. Unfortunately, there's no such requirement for a president. And he's destroying our democracy.

As for my generation, we're playing into the hands of those who would wish to see us fail. The Russians don't have our best interests at heart -- clearly, their government doesn't. And with the help of conservative media, we have turned on one another with no real meeting of the minds on the horizon.

Like I said, our country has lost its mind! And it's destroying our democracy.




Friday, February 9, 2018

Grassroots

I feel like I'm letting my blog down or that I'm not being true to myself because there's so much that's happening in my/our world today and I'm largely silent about much of it. Sure, I've written a fair amount, but not an amount that's anywhere near proportionate or deserving of the corruption we're witnessing unfold within Trump's* administration. What's happening within our government is of serious concern to me. I would hate to have a grandchild sitting across from me decades from now wondering if I stood up to any of the madness that's happening in our politics today. Clicking on the years 2017-2018 in my blog's right margin to reveal my thoughts would lead one to think my main focus was about riding or stained glass or golfing, with only some passing concern for what Trump's* administration is doing to our country, and that's not enough. I want to be sure there's no mistake as to which side of history I was on when we look back at this mess.

But to do my part it's going to take more than an occasional post in my blog or on Facebook. I've signed on as treasurer with Maggie Williams's campaign for a seat in the Minnesota State Legislature. Maggie and her husband Jeff have two young, smiling, vibrant boys in their fascination-with-all-things-dinosaur-related phase and up until November 2016, they were quietly going about their middle-class, suburban lives. The last election awoke in them a passion and a need to do more. They've been on a path they never intended to walk ever since.

Maggie and Jeff began hosting meetings in their home around this time a year ago for people who wanted to get involved in truly taking back our country, neighborhood by neighborhood, district by district. Tammy got me involved. I've never been involved in any sort of grassroots movement and this is exactly that. It was at one of these small meetings where I first met Jeff Erdmann and his wife Ruth. Jeff is running for Congress in Minnesota's 2nd Congressional District to try and unseat Jason Lewis, but he must first win the party's endorsement over Angie Craig, another very good candidate.

There actually is a blue wave out here with lots of people, some quietly motivated, some not so quiet, all intending to make an impact on this next election cycle. It's never been more important in my lifetime.

I'm buoyed by news of wins by Democrats for State House Legislative seats in elections in Missouri this week in districts where the thought of anyone other than a hard-core republican winning was previously unheard of. But then I turn on Fox News and I listen to an alternative reality that still holds sway over far too many among us and I'm back to shaking my head and thoughts of what I consider to be brainwashed masses.

Millennials now make up as large a voting block as do the people of my generation -- the Baby Boomers. They're the ones who will be picking up the tab for our excesses yet many in my generation are quick to mock them for being only interested in themselves. And to add insult to injury, our conservative politicians have shown no interest in trying to lighten their load by providing low-interest loans to finance their college loan debt, instead, the benefactors of conservative politicians continue to be large corporations and their windfall in tax cuts, tax cuts for the already wealthy and increased spending for an obscenely bloated military. We have to do better by those coming behind us before getting up from the table and walking out on the tab we've rung up.

Probably more than anyone, millennials have so much riding on these upcoming election cycles and it's going to be more important than ever to make sure they appreciate that and that they become involved. They hold the key to our country's future and now more than ever is the time for them to make their voices heard.