Toxic Comments: Normalizing Atrocities, a Resistance Post

Bomb-Cool-iconHave you ever been in a public place minding your own business when a stranger makes a rather loud offensive statement?  They didn’t make a statement pertaining to you, but it was a sexist, prejudice, or propagandist statement.  It’s a statement so offensively toxic that it even offended you!

Words were on the tip of your tongue.  You wanted to tell them their rhetoric was hurtful, wrong, and disrespectful of those around them.  Yet, you didn’t say anything.  You think they had a right to voice their opinion.  Besides, if you confronted them, something bad could happen.  Then you have the worst thought of all:  It wasn’t your problem.

Guess what.  It was your problem.  Furthermore, if you’re an American in the age of 45, it’s most definitely our problem.

As it happens, I heard an educator (unrelated to my academic institution) talking at a Starbucks and she made a horribly disagreeable comment:  I make students stand for the Pledge since my husband fought in Vietnam for their right to say it.

I forced myself not to comment, and yes, it was the worst thing I could have possibly done.

Bio-hazard-icon

In the current climate of highly charged hateful rhetoric and actions, I’m learning from my inaction, and I encourage people to calmly and logically shut down ignorantly toxic comments.  Call them a gateway drug to homegrown terrorism (or for a man to stab their fellow countrymen and call it Patriotism).

~Continued after video~

While the educator’s comments aren’t hate speech per se, it’s still a dangerous comment specifically for pure ignorance, which happens to lead to dangerous nationalism, authoritarianism, indoctrination, and even brainwashing.

Paraphrasing from the above Huffington Post video, Americans let those comments slide, we are helping to normalize such thinking.  Kids who hear it will think that toxic perspective is fine, or normal, and we encourage those few of like, small-minds to voice the same opinions.

Here is why that educator’s comments are so disagreeable.

First, the part claiming her husband fought in the Vietnamese war so American students can say the Pledge of Allegiance is revisionist history and has absolutely no basis in fact.

France-Flag-iconThe Vietnamese War had nothing to do with American freedom nor the Pledge of Allegiance.  America entered the war to help the French retain control of their Indochina colony.  When the French lost control and Communists took over Northern Vietnam, the American government found the situation disagreeable and stayed to help Southern Vietnamese take back the North.

Second, anyone who claims they, or their spouse, fought for the American right to say the Pledge drank the crazy people Kool Aid.  Our government’s Enlightenment Era Creators in the American Revolution were those who truly fought for our freedom.  They fought for the colonists’ right to have an equal say in government as part of a living document that also includes instructions for two methods of revolting against those in power.  Not of the idiocy to say a simple Pledge.

Hypothetically, in some bizarre dimension the Vietnamese War had been about American freedom, that freedom would encompass a wide range of freedoms we enjoy in the real world.  They would include the freedom to choose to say or not to say the American Pledge of Allegiance.

As Americans, we take pride in our First Amendment:Paper-icon

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

These days, Americans refer to the First Amendment as freedom of speech or freedom of religion.  In the 80s and 90s, I remember it was referred to as freedom of the press.

The original Thirteen Colonies were formed on the promise of religious freedom and a haven from political upheaval.  Basically, their own countries persecuted (i. e., imprisoned or penalized) them because of their beliefs either in religion or politics.

Even today, there are countries – a few more liberal than America – that still penalize people for criticizing their leaders.  Here are twelve of them:

  1. Azerbaijan
  2. Lebanon
  3. Venezuela
  4. Poland
  5. Turkey
  6. Netherlands
  7. Cameroon
  8. Bahrain
  9. Kuwait
  10. Thailand
  11. Iran
  12. Indonesia

The American Constitution was written so all American citizens have governmental say without the threat of persecution, which is also covered in the First Amendment (…to petition the Government for a redress of grievances).

We have the right to protest peaceably.  If Americans wish to take a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance, they can without penalization.  Hell, even in the 20th Century, people burned the American flag at protests without legal repercussions.  Why?  Because that is also covered under the First Amendment.

When I substitute in a classroom, I don’t force the students to stand and recite the Pledge.  Any students who choose to sit, respects the rest of the class by staying quiet through the Pledge.  Those who choose to say the Pledge, respects the classmates who choose to sit – as in not shaming those who sit through the Pledge.

Personally, I stopped saying the Pledge because I disagree with the under God part, which wasn’t added until the 1950s as a convoluted way to combat the political concept of Communism.  (Anyone else confused by that?)  Plus, I don’t recite the Pledge as a protest against the current political stupidity in the White House and Congress.  Although, I still stand and face the flag out of respect for my family history.

(By the way, anyone else think it’s overkill to say the Pledge everyday in school?!  Why don’t we say it once at the beginning of the Academic year or each semester?).

Typically, I resume working after the Pledge and ignore the moment of silent reflection.  I think taking a moment to silently reflect – which is code for pray – is a waste of time when people should do that in the privacy of their own home before going to school or work.  In addition, the Pledge of Allegiance is a prayer since it incorporates under God and was originally written by a minister.

I’m not saying the misguided educator was a follower of the Far Right, but I’m going on the assumption based on her comment.  Aside from the confusion over the term freedom, the Far Right (who proclaim themselves Patriots) get a lot of things wrong.

The Far Right likes to take their Nationalism to the extreme.  Perhaps, they believe the Pledge was always recited by school children at least once everyday across the country dating all the way back to America winning independence from England.

bag-books-iconActually, the Pledge wasn’t a classroom ritual until 1892, and America didn’t have an official pledge until the first half of the 20th Century.

It was not until 1942 that Congress officially recognized the Pledge of Allegiance. One year later, in June 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that school children could not be forced to recite it. In fact,today only half of our fifty states have laws that encourage the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in the classroom!

Forcing children to say the Pledge in school is not Patriotic since it’s considered a form of authoritarianism in a country that’s supposed to be a Republic.  While forces are attempting to change the foundation of our government to an oligarchy and 45 treats his position as a dictatorship, I believe wholeheartedly that this country will always remain a republic, one nation, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

I wish I would have said something to that educator, yet I would have done more harm than good.  Unfortunately, I would have yelled at the woman instead of calmly explain to her the wrongness of her statement with logic.  Perhaps, it would have been a futile attempt.  At least, I would have demonstrated that there are Americans who won’t stand for a dictatorial revisionist history.

However, I’m mainly writing about this experience to encourage other fellow Americans with cooler heads to curb both hateful and blind nationalist propaganda.  The more we make these comments abnormal, the less we have to deal with open hate, Patriotic stabbings, and the fear of homegrown terrorists.

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A Resistance Post: Is anyone else scared?

star-trek-the-next-generation-iconFrom people displaying memes of the character Jean Luke Picard from Star Trek the Next Generation that reads “Every morning I wake up, I’m like ‘Damage report'” to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s epic Trump burn saying if he were president, maybe most Americans can once again sleep at night.  There is truth in both those statements.  Since Mr. Trump has taken office, the sale on sleep aides has likely skyrocketed.

Tea Partiers always seem angry and negative.  Before the inauguration of Mr. Trump, they spent most of their days listening to blow-hards peddling false news to an audience who lapped up every word.

Then there are other Americans who simply spend their lives in a constant state of negativity.  Unfortunately, that is life.  Unless they find the courage to change it, negativity will always be a part of them.

So far this president has worried Muslims (Americans and immigrants alike), refugees (at home and abroad), Latinos (legal and illegal), most women, the LGBT Community, and other American’s for various reasons.  Unlike some of my fellow Americans, I can still sleep at night, but reading the daily news keeps me in a near constant state of anger and worry.  An American president, his cabinet, and Congress should not cause the American people sleepless nights, anger, worry, sadness, and any other strong, negative emotions.

dazzled-iconI am sure that past presidents have caused these emotions.  Former President Andrew Jackson creating the Federal Banking System likely caused some American negativity along with Abraham Lincoln overseeing troops during the Civil War, or Franklin D. Roosevelt prior to World War II.  Have they done it to this heightened extent, or to so many American people?  It seems the only people who are not worried are apathetic Americans and Tea Partiers.

Monday (February 13,2017), I gained a new, intense negative emotion caused by Mr. Trump:  Fear.

America has come close to nuclear war before.  There was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and close calls with the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) now known as Russia.  How many times have we come to nuclear annihilation by our own missiles?

As a former GOP candidate, Mr. Trump stated he would not take vacations.

“There’s just so much to be done,” Trump said after winning the presidential election. “So I don’t think we’ll be very big on vacations, no.”

Not only was the weekend before last his third straight weekend taking a vacation, his trips cost the tax payers $3 million dollars each time he travels via Air Force One to his Mar-a-Lago golf resort.  I do not care if he calls it his “Winter White House,” he is playing golf, which – to me – definitely counts as a vacation.  Perhaps he thinks it does not count because he brought the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe with him.  Although, dragging a Prime Minister around a resort to show off to his Super PAC mega donors, schmoozing with his one-percenter pals, and rubbing elbows with other CEOs willing to “pay to play” for a top government position (Betsy DeVose anyone?) is known as a huge conflict of interest.  Do not forget the $200,000 membership to Mar-a-Lago includes an up close and in person view of Mr. Trump being “president” on the weekends.  They can pull Mr. Trump aside to have a say on policy and who he should choose as a Cabinet Member.  If they are super lucky, Mr. Trump will ask their advice on how to cheaply build his pointless wall.

Real estate executive Bruce Toll told the New York Times that he does occasionally discuss national policy issues, particularly when it comes to Trump’s plans to increase spending on infrastructure projects, when he sees Trump at Mar-a-Lago. According to Toll, Trump sometimes receives advice from other club members about what to do policy-wise.

Developer Richard LeFrak, a close friend of Trump’s, recounted a discussion at Mar-a-Lago last weekend during which Trump asked him for help with the proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico. Trump was unhappy with the projected cost of the wall, wanted to come up with a way to build it more cheaply, and suggested that the head of the Department of Homeland Security would give LeFrak a call to talk about it.

And according to an audio tape obtained by Politico from one of Trump’s New Jersey clubs that was also published on Saturday, Trump has asked his club members for their guidance selecting his cabinet appointees.

Smilie-money-iconA member can even take pictures with his cabinet members out on the scenic patio.  If a member is really lucky, they might watch Mr. Trump handle a National Security crisis usually requiring the White House Situation Room, or a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF).

SATURDAY EVENING, NORTH Korea launched a ballistic missile that traveled over 300 miles before crashing into the Sea of Japan—far enough to hint at the ability to drop a nuke on one of the US’ closest allies.

Naturally, President Trump discussed the matter with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was visiting the US, and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. But here’s the problem: He did so in full view of guests at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, with smartphone cameras and flashlights pointed at presumably sensitive material.

It was perfectly fine for Mr. Trump to discuss matters of National Security with the Prime Minister of Japan since it does involve his own country, and we are allies.  What is not okay are the Mar-a-Lago civilian guests who were present with their cell phones, flashing pictures, and possibly capturing sensitive material for the world to see.  That is correct.  Not only are there pictures, but they were posted to Facebook.  I will give my readers a moment to reread that last sentence.  If that was not bad enough, a guest also posted a picture of him and someone who should never have his picture posted on social media let alone his name.

…Mr. Trump’s military aide responsible for carrying the nuclear “football” — the briefcase that contains codes for launching nuclear weapons.

So there is now a picture of the guy in charge of carrying our nuclear weapons codes floating around the internet.  It does not matter that the photo is now “sanitized.”  When it was first posted, it was not.  What is placed on the internet will always be on the internet.  Several media organizations and – I am sure – nefarious people likely took plenty of screen shots of the original picture.  (Anyone else notice that it was an old rich white dude who posted that picture to Facebook?!)  I do not know about you, my dear readers, but after reading the above quoted line I turned white from shock.  Later, I definitely felt a fair amount of fear and extreme anger.  I am not even afraid to admit I cried over the egregiously blatant disregard for our Country’s wellbeing.

Mr. Trump appears to enjoy presenting the spectacle of his presidency to those at his privately held club…

Mr. Jackass Trump is basically putting us all in danger to make a buck.  I feel completely justified in my fear when an idiot and his rich (also morally questionable) cronies are leading the country.  (I guess you have to be severely stupid and greedy to have more money than most of the globe).

Smiley-grumpy-2-iconWhat makes my blood boil are the aides, cabinet members, Secret Service, National Security Members, Speaker of the House, other members of Congress, and even the civilian guests.  None of them thought this was a problem?  Not one person spoke up.  No one said, “Gee, this is a national security issue, those documents and the whole scene I’m witnessing seems serious so I really shouldn’t take a picture”?  Not one security member or aide thought to mention to Mr. Trump, “Hey, this deals with the security of the American people.  Maybe we shouldn’t discuss these things outside?”  How about the aide carrying the nuclear “football?”  Why did he not say, “No you cannot take my picture because of National Security” and perhaps, “I don’t want to die”?  Whatever happened to the power of a simple “No”?

More and more people are losing respect and trust in Mr. Trump.  Those last two quotes I presented are from the New York Times.  Notice they use “Mister” as Mr. Trump’s title and not “President?”  It is not just corporate print media (excluding Faux Fox News) have little to no respect and trust in Mr. Trump.  Neither do American Intelligence agencies.  We are talking the spy community, people.  They alert us to potential threats so we can be ready.

There is more consequential IC pushback happening, too. Our spies have never liked Trump’s lackadaisical attitude toward the President’s Daily Brief, the most sensitive of all IC documents, which the new commander-in-chief has received haphazardly. The president has frequently blown off the PDB altogether, tasking Flynn with condensing it into a one-page summary with no more than nine bullet-points. Some in the IC are relieved by this, but there are pervasive concerns that the president simply isn’t paying attention to intelligence.

Everything I have laid out is worse than a horror movie or a particularly chilling thriller.  If this does not make most Americans more concerned, apathetic Americans start to get concerned, or raise a flag or two to the white supremacist Tea Partiers, maybe a nuclear fallout with our own weapons will.  That is, if anyone other than the one-percenters survive.  (Seriously, people might have found money to build bunkers in the 50s, but who can find that kind of cash laying around these days)?

Furthermore, there is the issue of the potential Russian ties to Mr. Trump, his cabinet members, and the Republican party.  On Valentine’s Day, Michael Flynn was “forced to resign” (a. k. a., fired) from his National Security post for calling the Russian Ambassador the day former President Obama placed sanctions on Russia for hacking an American election.

Mr. Trump blamed news media leaks for Michael Flynn’s dismissal.  He might think media leaks are bad, but in this budding “worse than Watergate” situation, media leaks are my new favorite thing in the world.

This whole circumstance brings up one big question:  How many of America’s top government officials are involved in the Russian conspiracy?  The government is controlled by the Republicans who, I suspect, also have ties to Russia.  The Senate did launch an inquiry into the Russian hacking allegations, which will take a while.

Republican leaders are not promising a quick turnaround.

Burr surmised that it would take months to “aggressively” comb through all the intelligence pertaining to the suspected hacking, given that the scale and extent aren’t yet clear. And Republican leaders are clearly waiting on the intelligence panels to take the lead.

As for the Michael Flynn case, Senate Republicans are oddly reluctant to investigate.  Now, the American people are starting to ask who knew about Flynn’s Russian involvement.  Enter Rep. John Chaffetz (R-UT).  Last post I mentioned his accusations that his town hall meeting constituents were replaced with liberal organization paid rabble rousers.  Their main purpose was to bully him.  Surely, none of his constituents would be disappointed in his work?

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said Tuesday that his panel won’t investigate the circumstances that led to Michael Flynn stepping down Monday as President Trump’s national security adviser.

Instead, Chaffetz deferred to the House Intelligence Committee, which is already investigating Russia’s attempt to influence the presidential elections, a scope that includes campaign communications with the Russian government.

“I think that situation has taken care of itself. I know that the Intel committee is looking into the hacking issue,” Chaffetz told reporters.

Since the House Intelligence Committee is already looking into the Russian hacking case, why not give them more work?  Where is the passion and drive?  Where is the righteous indignation that Russia might have a big influence on top officials within the American government?  No worries, “that situation has taken care of itself.”

What does Senator Rand Paul have to say about the situation?  Surely, he would have something scathing to say about the Trump administration and demand swift action?

Republican Sen. Rand Paul said Tuesday an investigation into the resignation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn would be excessive and it would not make sense to investigate other Republicans.

I guess not.  Lately, Sen. Paul has been going against his Libertarian leanings by voting for Sen. Jeff Beauregard Sessions as Attorney General.  Sessions is for the “War on Drugs,” and he is a staunch supporter of mass incarceration (which means he is likely being paid by the private prison industry), and Libertarians are generally against the War on Drugs and mass incarceration.  I thought they would also be against a Russian influence on the American Government.  Apparently not.

While growing up, American children learn a lot of things:  Respect the flag, American military service members are heroes (even though the government does not treat them as such), and Russia is bad (even though the Cold War ended in 1991).

Now we have a president who ignorantly endangers the safety of the American people for money, has possible ties to Russia, has aides communicating with Russia, Republicans obviously unwilling to investigate any of these travesties appearing to aid and abet these treasonous people, and people staunchly supporting Mr. Trump.  None of them see any reason to “Drain the Swamp” the 99-percenters live in.  Please tell me I am not the only one concerned.

The argument against apathy in a time of Resistance.

anger-iconIn the past, I have had problems regularly writing a blog post for my readers.  It was due to lack of passion and motivation for any topic that entered my mind.  Lately, it is too much passion and far too many words crowding my reeling mind.

Since the Oval Office Orange (changed from White House Orange because alliteration is cool) started his dubious dictatorship, my anger has been inspiring as it has been for millions of Americans.  I am not the only one inspired by his questionable leadership.

Saturday Night Live has made an impressive come back from comedy that rarely inspires a chuckle to laughter that leaves a person gasping for air.  The Orange’s administration has helped Trevor Noah fully integrate into The Dailey Show.  While Jon Stewart retired from the show because – face it – politics was frustratingly depressing topic, he appears sporadically with Stephen Colbert to make us laugh.  The passion of these comedians is felt in their jokes (especially Alec Baldwin), and they are fueled by the same anger that fuels me.  Furthermore, comedy is their entertaining way of protesting.

Most other Americans have the ability to march, protest, and literally stand against the fascist pigs in the process of tearing our government down from the inside out.

In my last post, I stipulated some people were not able to get out and physically protest for various reasons (i.e., job, physical disability, children, etc.).  They are people who want to help, but do not know another way other than walking the streets with a sign.  I used my own experiences and readings to provide a handy list, which I would like to add a little something to that list now.  Every little chance to resist helps the greater cause.

If it seems like I am writing about a war, I am.  It maybe a metaphorical war, but it has all the makings of a vicious fight.

USA-Flag-iconWritings from the 18th Century Enlightenment Era Founding Fathers exist to emboldened the reader as they are the very foundation of our country.  It is important to hear their voices when we need them most and learn from them.  I always thought and felt their patriotic passions and beliefs flow in the veins of all Americans whether they are natural born or naturalized.  The words life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness echoes in our hearts because it is our right.

Apparently, that was most Americans.

There are some Americans (e.g., Matthew McConaughey) who do not seem to feel that calling, who are not angered by the actions of our government.  Those particular Americans are not happy about it, and they only seem to care about anything that pertains only to their existence.

At least the Oval Office Orange’s base, The Tea Baggers Partiers, are patriotically passionate albeit woefully misguided and embarrassingly undereducated.  I can find a sliver of admiration for that despite their crazed white supremacist attitude.

What I cannot stand are the clueless Americans who – in my livid and most valid opinion – stand aside and simply do not care to understand because of their indifference.  Either that or they think that skimming the surface of American life is fine.

Apathetic Americans are the people who compare the Muslim Ban to locking the doors of a house at night.  Not to keep people out, but to keep your loved ones safe (per some deranged meme going around Facebook).  They never bother to look at the exact details or realize that “Muslim” is a religion and not a country, which makes the ban obviously unconstitutional (1st Amendment).  Apathetic Americans must also think that the Ban will solve our terror problem most of which stem from American terrorists.  Furthermore, they do not read enough news to realize that Muslim Americans are not the only ones who are targeted by this administration.

Illegal immigrants from Mexico who have lived here for a few decades are targeted.  Then there is the issue of an environmentally dangerous wall proposal that will cost billions and be paid for by the tax payers – not Mexico.  The Mexican President pretty much told the Oval Office Orange to f**k off (in the most diplomatic way possible).

Apathetic Americans breezily wonder why their fellow Americans – in their opinion – needlessly leave their homes almost every weekend to protest these horrifying changes the administration’s attempting to enact.  They ask why people do not work with the Oval Office Orange rather than fight against him (see the link attached to Matthew McConaughey above).  Apathetic Americans do not want to understand that working with him is equal to allowing a near treasonous administration the right to create an American style Nazi Regime.

For those fellow Americans, I give you the words of Patrick Henry who said it best in On the Resolution to Put the Commonwealth into a State of Defense, which was delivered before the Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775.

They tell us, sir, that we are weak, unable to cope with so formidable an adversary.  But when shall we be stronger?  Will it be the next week or the next year?  Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house?  Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction?  Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?  Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which … nature hath placed in our power.  Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us.  There is a just God who presides over the battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave…

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter.  Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace, but there is not peace…  Why stand we here idle?  What is it that gentlemen wish?  What would they have?  Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to slavery?  …I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

UK-iconFirst, note that this was written in the 18th Century Enlightenment Era.  It was a different world not only for the obvious lack of electronics, but for the blatantly unchecked patriarchal mentality and racism.  Most of the written works of the Founding Fathers (and the Constitution) are white dude centric since the Founding Fathers were – ironically – rich white dudes.  They were amazing Enlightenment visionaries when it came to building a government, yet unsurprisingly short-sighted in other areas (product of the times).  While the Founding Fathers were painfully aware they were all from mostly European immigrant and outcasts, people of color were not considered as a factor and slaves were PROPERTY.  Besides, the landed gentry considered themselves British citizens until Benjamin Franklin was laughed out of Parliament.  Then it became painfully clear that New Englanders (us) would never be afforded the rights of citizens from the Mother Country.

Second, the most published and read book at the time was likely the Bible.  I would not be surprised if 18th Century children learned to read from it.  The Founding Fathers were very much for the separation of church and state, but still have reference to God in their writings.

Third, America was gearing towards a battle with the British (for those of you who attended a school where Social Studies was considered “expendable”).  In the 21st Century, we call the epic underdog story the American Revolution.  At the time they referred to it as a Civil War between England and New England (us).

As we have grown as a country, our Constitution (a living document) has grown to be inclusive of all sexes and races.  I would like to think our Enlightenment Era Founding Fathers would be straight forward thinkers – despite being rich white dudes – if they were alive today, and I will interpret their writings as such: inclusive.

They tell us, sir, that we are weak, unable to cope with so formidable an adversary.

In this section of Patrick Henry’s speech, he says the people are not as weak as, likely, some of the world – including the British – believed they were.  Today, this nation is still not weak.  The Oval Office Orange and his Legion of Doom (i.e., Cabinet Members) believe most Americans are weak because they equate power with wealth.  The more money in the Cayman Islands account (the one they all have to avoid taxes), the more political power.  Additionally, the Galactic Empire (i.e., Republicans) that currently controls the House of Representatives and Senate are using the Orange’s antics to ram through governmentally corrosive and populace-hurting legislation thinking no one will notice.  (I am channeling comic books and Star Wars as an analogy.  Sue me).

Henry goes on to tell people to not be fearful or apathetic.  Sitting down and watching events unfold will not make anything better, having their fellow country people march and cry out in their stead while they shrug it off makes the Apathetic American, in my livid opinion, an awful person.  I would go so far as to call Apathetic Americans, Un-American.  Unfortunately, it is their constitutional right to be a jerk.  While I disagree with their idiotic mentality, like I said – our Constitution gives them that right and I must defend it as I denounce their idiocy.

Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house?  Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction?  Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

agt-runit-iconHe likens inaction to submitting to slavery, which still holds true since the Orange and the Galactic Empire are interested in Right to Work legislation.  This law is known as the Union Killer, or Right to Work for Less.  Unions are responsible for the wages we currently earn, decent working conditions, and weekends.  Without unions to arbitrate, employers could lower wages and demand their employees work weekends.  Why do you think fast food workers want to unionize?  Because, among other things, they want to put in a 40+ hour work week and not rely on food stamps and Housing and Urban Development assistance.  Either way, without the protection of Unions, we would be very close to slaves.  It also does not help that the Orange’s Secretary of Labor pick CKE CEO, Pudzer, is known by his employees for wage theft and sexual harassment.  He also has law suites pending from those hard working employees.

As Henry so passionately states, we are not weak.  Already, the Galactic Empire has temporarily backed away from repealing the Affordable Care Act (famously known as “Obamacare”) because of the public backlash.  Although, that backlash is continuing since the Galactic Empire still vows to “repeal and replace,” which every replacement idea sounds exactly like the system we had before the Affordable Care Act.  They insist that Americans should have access to healthcare.  As the lovely Sen. Bernie Sanders (I – VT) stated, every American has access to healthcare we cannot afford.  What we need is affordable healthcare.  Fortunately, most Americans are not accepting the Galactic Empire’s dog and pony show anymore.

Bully-Scholarship-Edition-1-iconThe Republican Congressmen have full voicemails from angered constituents.  They are canceling or running away from Town Hall meetings because they cannot face those angry constituents.  Even though, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R – UT) is convinced the angry town hall attendees are not his constituents, but pretenders who were paid to bully him.

For a short time in December, the Native Americans convinced the government to stop building the environmentally dangerous Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).  Then Orange took office and ordered the immediate easement for the pipeline violating more laws.  These are admittedly small victories, but they are still victories which can lead to bigger victories.  The American people will have a long hard road to get those big victories, and some of us may feel a little fatigued yet we will keep fighting.

The American Revolution was fought with muskets and cannons.  Our war is fought with protests and social media.  We are using the Judicial system as our front line, and we are pouring money into the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) – who are recently getting impressive donations – for that purpose.  This is the beginning of our fifth week of fighting, and we will not back down till we win.

It is clear the Orange and the Galactic Empire would like us to lay down so they can peacefully trample us and enslave us.  Yet, we refuse to make anything easy.  Some of the American people may remain apathetic.  I choose to fight with the weapons of sharp words and vicious rhetoric.

I will not abide a president who is worse than a child, one who is obviously illiterate and lead by an undereducated white supremacist who walks around with a never-read pocket Constitution.  Even if he tried to read it, he would not understand it.

It is repugnant for billionaires, Congressional Republicans, and spineless corporate Democrats to expect the American people to stand aside as they ruin our air, drinking water, and the ground beneath our feet.  All for the corporate bottom line and appeasement to their so-called friends.

Last, the efforts of the Galactic Empire in attempting to force women into, or maintain, a subservient role is beyond disgusting.  The “men know best” attitude is harmful to the women of our nation.  They refuse to realize that while women’s bodies have a few things in common with theirs, there are still vast differences.  They specifically shut down women for having an opinion like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) on the Senate floor when Struggle-iconshe attempted to read Coretta Scott King’s letter in opposition to Sen. Jeff Session’s U.S. Attorney General nomination.  Meanwhile, two other white male Senators who read the letter were allowed to do so without reprecussions. 

This is why it is more important for women to lead the charge, especially women of different races and ages and transgender women.  We should be seen as equal and not be defined by our sexuality and race for we are all Americans.

Alternative names for Trump (More fun than Alternative Facts)

Want more?  HERE is a site that lists much more and nicknames for his friends, family, movement, etc.

For the People Who Cannot March: A Guide to Resistance

orangeAs so many reporters, columnists, bloggers, and (I am sure) some representatives have said since Friday, Welcome to a new world.  Although, it is not a new world.  This is the exact same world it always has been and the exact same country we have always resided.  The only difference is the American people have a misogynist, racist, and xenophobic Orange with a bad combover in the White House.

I can understand why it feels like a new world to most Americans who oppose an Orange representing America.  He has already issued executive orders impacting mortgages, international reproductive issues, and a hire freeze for the Federal Government.  That is only in the last few days.

If you happen to like the Orange (I refuse to call him by name nor will I call him President), than this post is definitely not for you.  Now, some of my fellow Americans of like mind or semi-like mind may feel a little despondent.  They have no clue how to resist the upcoming changes that may negatively affect their lives.

While marching is a great way to show solidarity and dissidence in our country (it seems Struggle-iconlike it is the favored way), not everyone can go out and march.  I feel your pain because I could not join the throngs of people that marched this weekend.  Unfortunately, I did not have the money to go to Washington DC nor could I take off work since I am paid hourly and have no benefits.

Instead, I thought about what I could do to show my objection to the current governing body or any law they would like to pass.  This is the information age where the answers are literally at our fingertips.  Here is what I came up with:

  1. Call or e-mail your representative to let them know what you think.  Are they passing laws you hate?  Are they repealing your right to affordable healthcare also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?  Let them know!  It is relatively easy if you have access to the internet.  (If you are reading this, you do).  Simply Google Who’s my representative.  Fortunately, I did the dirty work for you.  Just click HERE and you can even contact the White House HERE.
  2. You can use social media.  The Orange is always blowing up Twitter trolling whoever sneezes in his direction.  If you have a Twitter account and use it regularly, why not troll him and your disagreeable representatives?  Do you follow news organizations on Facebook?  I do.  Facebook is where I get all my news conveniently condensed into one convenient app.  I read through the news titles, click on the ones that interest me, and read the article.  If it is something that makes me angry and I think my friends should know, I share it with them.  You can do the same.  With the dog and pony show that has been going on through former President Obama’s years and the circus we currently have, the media is all over it.  Although, I would suggest making a specific friends list for anything political unless you welcome an all out verbal fight with your friends who just so happen to like Oranges.
  3. Start a blog.  Writing is a great way to help feel better.  If you want to feel better AND express your opinion in a public forum, I suggest blogging.  Getting a free blog is easier than you think.  If you are not picky about the details and find all the pesky personalization tedious, then pick a template and start writing.  I would suggest at least setting up the social media aspect of your blog page so a notice automatically goes out to your friends and family every time you post.  Plus it gives them the opportunity to like and share your posts through a myriad of social media options
  4. This next suggestion is more being a decent human being than resisting an authoritarian regime.  Remember your fellow Americans that will be affected by future government policies are those who are the most vulnerable.  No matter what their political preference, try to help them out.  Sometimes cooking a little extra food and sharing a meal with your neighbor is a big help.  Other times, it’s being there to listen or offer a hug.  There are small gestures that can make a big impact.  Depending on your perception, being nice to strangers is a type of resistance to a government who refuses to do the important duty of caring for the people.

Now these are things you can easily do at home or in your neighborhood.  What you should never do is talk politics in the workplace.  Frankly, it’s unprofessional.  I know that not all coworkers adhere to this one solid rule and it will piss you off.  Trust me, I had to live through it January 20th when a few of my coworkers just couldn’t keep a lid on their unwelcome political and insulting opinions.  I could not walk away for some of it so I zoned out, which is the advice I give you.  If a coworker decides to express their unwelcome political opinions, pretend to listen and zone out their voice.  I also do work through their diatribe so I can use the excuse that I am super busy.  Sometimes, my coworkers will get the hint I am not interested and walk away.

Most important, we must remember that this crappy government (even the Orange) works for us.  If they do not do what we say, we can oust them next election.  Food for thought and a note of positivity in this questionable time.

Articles of Interest

Newspaper-iconThe Morning After

How to Survive Trump

How to survive and resist in the Trump era: practical things you can do now

Your survival guide to living in America under President Donald Trump

 

Book Review: Burning Glass by Kathryn Purdie

Review News

 

If you’ve noticed, I’m putting out one book review a day until I get caught up with them.  Recent (maybe not the most recent) books are reviewed first.  Then I’ll get to the older books I’ve already read.

Burning Glass

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

 

Burning_Glass_coverAmazon described this book a cross between Red Queen and Shadow and Bone.  I’ve read both and I would have to disagree with at least one.

Red Queen is a post apocalyptic novel that has no relevant relation to Burning Glass.  I have no clue why they made the reference, unless they were comparing the complicated love triangle between a girl and two brothers.  If that’s the case, I’ve already covered the fallacy of comparing one small aspect of a novel with another in my Red Queen review.

Shadow and Bone is a better comparison because Shadow and Bone and Burning Glass are steeped in worlds based off Russian culture.  Also, both heroines struggle to control extraordinary powers while battling handsome, crazy evil dudes who think they’re doing good when they’re actually greedy.

The truth is, this book doesn’t have a second adequate comparison.  At least, none that I’ve read so far.

Sonya, our lovely heroine, has spent most of her young life ducking the Riaznin government.  She has an empathic gift, which means she can sense other people’s emotions.  The government uses such people to sense threats to the Emperor.  This position is called Sovereign Auraseer.

This novel starts after Sonya is captured and sent to a special convent that trains seers to control their gifts so they can be used for the good of the country.  A few months into her stay, tragic circumstances made Sonya the new Sovereign Auraseer.

Politics and court intrigue begin when Prince Anton does a little coup planning during their journey.  He doesn’t want Sonya to know, but he’s not exactly smooth with the subterfuge.

Anton and Emperor Valko were separated and raised apart as young children.  Each were taught to be emperor of the land, Valko became emperor because he was the oldest.  This is the basis for the strained relationship between the brothers.

Sonya’s situation brings her into the brother’s strained relationship.  Valko sees her as an understanding confidant among people who couldn’t possibly understand his situation.  While he doesn’t perceive Sonya as an equal nor does he entertain the possibility of raising her station through marriage (that’s just preposterous to marry a commoner with no dowery), he mistakes maniacal dependance for love.

Meanwhile, Anton, the brother Sonya is actually in love with (or so she guesses), exhibits contradicting emotions whenever Sonya is around.  One minute he’s hot, the next he’s cold, and most of the time he avoids her so she can’t read him at all.

As Sonya attempts to control her powers, she must make a moral decision between duty and revolution.  The first will lead to madness and possible destruction of the country.  The other will lead to love and chaos.

First, I have a small technical issue with the book before going into my critique of the characters.

The author’s mistaken use of the word aura to describe Sonya’s abilities.  Purdie confuses the term’s public use as an instinct most humans possess.  For example, When Jane stepped closer to Sam, she could feel is tense aura.

To describe a highly developed sixth sense few people possess, she should have used the word empath.  Aura, in terms of a developed sixth sense, has everything to do with sight.  Someone who has this sixth sense views the energy surrounding each person in terms of colors.  These colors depict what a person is feeling or the state of a person’s health.  Hence, Purdie’s term Auraseer.

The term Purdie should have used for the Auraseers is Empathics.  An empath – person who can feel another person’s emotions in depth – is a more apt description of Sonya’s powers.

I know, it’s a little nitpickie and a debatable topic, but I had to get that out or obsess about it later.

Now to the characters!

I liked Sonya as a heroine.  She was thrown a quagmire of difficult situations and managed to come out stronger for the experience.  Anyone who can handle those two brothers without committing suicide and keeping her sanity is virtually superhuman.  Someone weaker would have given into the Emperor and ended up lost within his emotions.

Valko was a complicated character.  Like Sonya, a reader doesn’t know what to make of him when he’s introduced.  Yet, he allowed greed to make him mentally unstable and blamed everyone else for his actions instead of owning his insane greed.  As an older brother with the weight of a country on his shoulders, I found him very childish, weak, and manipulative.  Furthermore, his irresistible vortex of emotions had a hint of sleaze throughout the book.

Anton was only slightly better than his brother.  He obviously would make a better emperor because he cares for his people.  Unfortunately, the man is confused when it comes to trust.  In my opinion, he trusts normal people easily.  When it comes to a Sonya, he has trust issues.  The author explained this little issue between Anton and Sonya by blaming his upbringing and basically saying he had trust issues with everyone.  That was an extremely faulty explanation.  While his brother didn’t own his greed, Anton didn’t own the fact that he thought Sonya was mirroring his own emotions.  That her love for him wasn’t actually hers.

Honestly, there were parts of the book where I wanted to kick one or both of the brothers in the nuts.  That’s how frustrating they were.

Despite my frustration, technical pet peeves, and wondering why Sonya doesn’t walk away from both brothers, I liked the book.   It started slow.  The story picked up in Chapter Five and I couldn’t put it down after that.  (Usually, I only give a book three chapters, but these chapters were relatively short, which is why I stuck with it longer).  It has earned it’s rightful place on my bookshelf.

I don’t think this book is the start of a series.  Although, I said the same thing about A Court of Thorns and Roses and it’s sequel, A Court of Mist and Fury is due out May 3rd.

Future Book Reviews

***Will not be reviewed in this order.Books-2-icon

  • Insanity (Mad in Wonderland) by Cameron Jace
  • The Glittering Court by Rachelle Mead (April 5th)
  • A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses Book #2) by Sarah J. Maas (May 3rd)
  • Ruined by Amy Tintera (May 3rd)
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts I & II by J. K. Rowling (July 31st)
  • The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles Book #3) by Mary E. Pearson (August 2nd)
  • Witch’s Pyre (The Worldwalker Trilogy Book #3) by Josephine Angelini
  • Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas
    • The Burning Sky
    • The Perilous Sea
    • The Immortal Heights
  • Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
  • Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan
  • The Shadow Queen by C. J. Redwine
  • The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
    • Ruin and Rising

Want to see what I’m currently reading or curious about past book reviews?  

Go to my Reading Common Sense page.

My Bid for the Presidency

My name is R. K. Bishop. Today, from my sick bed, I am announcing my candidacy for President of the United States (US).

I am of age, born in the US, and meet the citizen and age requirements. Lately, I began to realize that no candidate with a legal degree, business experience, or political background exists to perfectly represent 98% of America. I am infinitely better than most of the Congressional body that only represents the top 2%. Furthermore, I am announcing the formation of a new political party.

As a voter, I do not affiliate with the current two party system. The Democratic and Republican parties no longer stand for the interests of the poor, working poor, and the middle class citizens. Most Democrats give into their frustration and have stopped fighting for the health and well-being of the American people. Some are Democrats in Name Only (DINOs) who will vote with the tyrannical Republicans to keep their salaries and benefits following upcoming elections. Republicans are interested in money and power, which has them pandering to their religiously extremist base and their greedy corporate donors.

Author_LogoWhile I could run as an Independent, I feel America needs a new party, a third option that stands behind basic facts. A party that places the inalienable rights and well-being of Americans first. My party is the Common Sense Party.

I can write a litany of promises, everything I would do on the first day in the Presidential office simply repeating Mitt Romney’s favorite line in his 2014 bid. During the course of several speeches, Romney promised to change the American way of life on his hypothetical first day in office.

Yet, in the heat of a general election, candidates often forget, or would like the American people to forget, our government is a Democracy and not a Dictatorship. (Lately, it has turned into an Oligarchy – a government controlled by the uber-rich). A majority from the House of Representatives and Senate pass proposed legislation, and the President signs it into law.

Aside from signing laws into the fabric of American society, the President can suggest laws and fight to get certain laws passed. That is what I promise to do: suggest and fight for the passage of laws.

The following list is a brief sample of the laws I will champion. In later posts, I will introduce more laws and detail each idea.

dollar-iconFirst, I will fight to strengthen the Wall Street regulations championed by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D- Massachusetts). While many important issues need immediate attention, we need to control those who would squander our money and prey on the weak. We must stop the two key causes (i.e., consumer debt and risky financial practices) of the Great Recession from happening in the future. We must end Too Big to Fail banks and their monopolies returning to smaller, manageable factions. Credit card companies and bank interest rates must accept federal regulations or they will continue to create an undue financial burden to the consumer. Financial institutions like JP Morgan will never receive tax payer money to bail them out of their own financial messes, especially when the corporate bailout money was used for CEO golden parachutes, bonuses, and vacations.

Second, I will fight to close tax loopholes for the wealthy and corporations. Taxing the top 2% of American earners and big corporations would allow the government to strengthen social safety net programs for the most vulnerable citizens. Senior citizens and the disabled should have enough money to pay for life sustaining utilities, vital medications, and an adequate food supply. The unemployed should never worry over the starvation of their families because of insufficient unemployment compensation as they search for gainful employment.

Third, I will fight to raise the national minimum wage to a living wage that will increase with the cost of living. If a citizen finds full- or part-time employment, it should be sufficient to support their families, reduce their dependency on social safety net programs, and increase local economies.

Categories-applications-education-university-iconFourth, I will fight for affordable education. America should have Universal Childcare and K-12 education. Many nationwide schools offer fee waivers for needy families. Yet, education should be free for families of all incomes. Hence, money normally spent on education would be spent on extracurricular activities, which provide many enhanced academic and psychological benefits to the students. The Federal Government would pay for the first four years of college tuition for students who maintain at least a 2.5 GPA. The money does not need to be paid back if the student has completed a four year degree. If a student wishes to continue their education, student loans will be available at extremely low interest rates in addition to grants and fellowships. All internships will be minimum wage employment rather than free labor.

Fifth, I will fight for the protection of unions. Any activity designed to dismantle, diminish, or disable unions will be unlawful. Workers have a right to organize and negotiate with their employers regarding wages and working conditions.

Sixth, I will fight for mandatory paid family leave, maternity leave, sick leave, and vacation time. As a nation, we should expect reasonable leave when we have immediate relatives depending on us, are sick, or to recuperate from injury without the added worry of wage and job loss. Currently, fast food and restaurant workers will work while sick since they are paid on an hourly basis. If they do not work, they do not receive a salary. They are likely to pass their illnesses to paying customers. Maternity leave is essential for the health and safety of the mother and her unborn child. Plus, the first six months of a child’s life is important to establish a bond with the parents meaning that maternity leave will be offered to both parents. Mental health is as important as physical health. Paid vacations are necessary to help reduce stress, which can consequently affect physical health. A healthy workforce is a more productive workforce.

Health-Sign-iconSeventh, I will fight for restructuring the American Healthcare System and Universal Healthcare. Restructuring the healthcare system is daunting, but something that our society desperately needs. As it stands, the health of the American people are primarily in the hands of investors of the insurance and health industry. Their mandatory bottom line removes medical decisions from the doctors working directly with their patients and gives authority to people with no medical background (e.g., insurance companies). A Universal Healthcare system (or single-payer system) is a big step towards repairing the system and ensures that patients do not have to choose between dying or living their life under a financially debilitating medical debt.

Eighth, I will fight to reduce the defense budget and redirect the funds to house the homeless. America spends more in defense than the next thirteen countries combined. That is 20% of our national budget. Redirecting a portion of that funding will go a long way in providing and building homes for the homeless. In addition, 12% of America’s homeless are veterans. In an advanced society, no one should be homeless.

Ninth, I will fight to protect the health of sustainable natural resources. I will work to reform the 1872 Mining Law by ending the billions in subsidies companies receive and establish fair royalties that they have never paid. All government revenue from mining operations will fund abandoned hard rock reclamation costs. I will place a permanent moratorium on hydraulic fracturing (i.e., fracking). Also, I will strengthen and vigorously enforce all environmental laws and tirelessly work to improve them. Responsible stewardship is in the best interests of our national security and survival on this planet.

Train-iconFinally, I will fight for infrastructure. Our nation’s roads and bridges are subpar. The U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has rated almost 200,000 bridges or one of every 3 bridges in the U.S., as structurally deficient or functionally obsolete. Furthermore, investing in far reaching, reliable, and fast public transportation will drastically reduce the need for constant road and bridge upkeep while reducing the country’s carbon footprint and increasing the health of our ecosystems.

America once led the world in education and innovation. It is time we do it again.