The GOP’s Phantom Opposition

“Hillary Clinton and aides had access to classified State Department information after she left office” (Fox & Friends, Washington Times, March 31)

“Why doesn’t Fake News talk about Podesta ties to Russia as covered by @FoxNews or money from Russia to Clinton – sale of Uranium?” (Donald J. Trump, March 28)

“Hillary Emails: Top Clinton Aide Plotted to ‘Help’ News Media ‘Figure Out How Things Work’” (Breitbart, March 30)

This is what happens what the GOP has spent the past 8 years perfecting the art of being the Party of No: they are stuck, permanently, in opposition mode. Let’s give them credit where it’s due – they have certainly fueled up a beautifully-running machine of angry opposition. Fox News, right wing blogs, Breitbart – even, and perhaps especially, the wider reach and considerably more pointed messaging achieved through social media — all critical to the generation of it.

The problem, as it appears, arises now that the Republican Party finally got the power it has so desperately yearned for after all these years. It’s evident now in the Oppo-Machine: all the Fox News personalities, the right wing commentators who built their brand on drumming up hysterical anger at the elites in power – they simply don’t know what to do with themselves anymore. They’ve succeeded, more or less, in their prior goal: getting rid of all those pesky Democrats in power, those liberal elitists, those (insert terrible descriptor) who spend every minute of every day thinking of new and innovative ways just to screw over the rest of us (true) patriots. Oh yes, they’re all gone, and now in place is a Republican held majority in not one, but two houses of Congress, in addition to the presidency.

So now what?

If the current state of programming and content output is any indication…basically…the same stuff as before? It’s bewildering, to say the least. Hillary Clinton, who lost the presidential election now nearly 5 months ago, is still a prominent target on the GOP hit list for “People Who Are Evil in Government.” She literally has no role in government.

After the embarrassing defeat of the miserable excuse for a GOP health care bill last week, WH Chief of Staff Reince Priebus said that the Republican Party needs “to start governing.” In this statement, at least, Priebus is right: the GOP needs to get out of the constant cycle of demonizing Democrats and figure out how to govern the country effectively. Get the Fox News perma-press on Democrat-bashing off the air, start producing actual news content, evaluate policy choices in reasonable ways, figure out what might actually be GOOD for constituents (shocking, I know), maybe even approach some things in a bipartisan manner, if hell doesn’t freeze over before that time – do all of this, and more, and shut up about Hillary Clinton (and Obama, for that matter) already. For a party that claims Clinton supporters are obsessed with the election results, today’s GOP sure has a funny way of letting go of its own obsessions.

Shed your demons, GOP. It’s time to move on. And it’s most definitely your move.

The Outrageous Inanity of Devin Nunes and His “Great Surveillance”

I will admit that I don’t read much Fox News coverage. The little I’ve seen usually leans less in a direction of “fair and balanced” and more in a direction of “unhelpfully partisan.” And for the record – I do not subscribe to the notion that mainstream media news sources are similarly biased. Some may lean left, especially in Op-Ed pages, but as an objective reader of a wide variety of journalistic sources, I have observed that the major news sources are by and large more effectively non-partisan than Fox News.

So I will say that, when I opened up the Fox News homepage last night, I did not expect to see objective coverage – but I also did not expect to see this article on Devin Nunes featured as the lead story. When I opened the piece to read it, my jaw dropped.

I’ve been following this story since the first reports on it started to come out earlier this week. And it’s abundantly clear that this lead piece – LEAD PIECE – on FoxNews.com was about as far from journalism as you can get. It was straight-up propaganda. Let’s review the reasons why:

  • Devin Nunes is the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee
  • The House Intel Committee has been tasked with investigating Russian involvement in the 2016 election, including the Trump campaign’s ties to this involvement
  • Devin Nunes was also a member of Trump’s transition team
  • Devin Nunes is VERY reluctant to investigate Trump and his associates
  • Devin Nunes prefers to investigate leaks of classified information instead of (and definitely not in addition to) any potentially incriminating evidence that leaks might suggest
  • Devin Nunes chaired a hearing earlier this week in which James Comey, FBI Director, made the shocking decision to publicly confirm that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia during the election
  • Devin Nunes, upon hearing such a shocking revelation, opted to pepper Comey with questions about leaks, instead of Trump/Russian connections
  • James Comey also publicly confirmed during the same hearing that there was no evidence of Obama wiretapping Trump Tower
  • None of this looked good for Trump. Or for Devin Nunes.
  • Two days after the Comey hearing, Devin Nunes held an impromptu press conference in which he referenced “sources” who came to him with info that said that legal incidental collections from intelligence surveillance had picked up some Trump campaign communications before Obama left office; claimed that this was “alarming,” and raced off to brief Trump himself before showing anyone else on the committee – oh, but also briefing Paul Ryan on it earlier in the day. Which is not even close to standard practice for disseminating that kind of information.
  • Hence, this article.

So here, taking just one sentence from this hack job of a piece from Fox– to state that there is “no doubt the Obama administration, in its closing days, was using the cover of legitimate surveillance on foreign targets to spy on President-elect Trump, according to sources” is LITERALLY INSANE. That is the most convoluted, twisted and straight up WRONG spin of actual events that I have seen in a long – LONG – time. The fact that the president’s (possibly) or the president’s associates (likely) communications got swept up in the course of legal surveillance on a foreign target means a couple of important things. 1) The president or his associates were communicating with someone, or someones, who were under surveillance from a legal FISA warrant – meaning that there was probable cause, considered and ruled upon by a FISA court, to monitor them – leading to, 2) WHY are the president and/or his associates communicating with such people????? THESE are the questions we should be asking!

There is literally no way former President Obama (or anyone) could have constructed a system wherein they anticipated (telepathically?) which foreign agent Donald Trump would contact, then devised a way to make sure that those people engaged in some kind of questionable behavior to the point where a FISA court would issue a warrant for their surveillance, and then monitor THOSE people, in the malevolent hope that Trump’s communications with them would be picked up that way. It is ludicrous, and downright stupid, to even suggest it. But that’s exactly what Fox News does! And puts it on the front page! What. What. What.

Not to mention the additional fishy points here of WHY Nunes did not share this ‘explosive’ new intel with his committee members before running off to the White House (an extreme—unprecented, in fact – breach of protocol for him to do so), WHY he is even running to the White House to share information that pertains to an ongoing investigation WITH THE PERSON UNDER INVESTIGATION, and WHY he is holding press conferences about this information, AGAIN, before even sharing it with his committee members or offering it for any sort of review? Where did he get this information? Anonymous sources? Oh, so these are cool now? They weren’t a few days ago. Why are we leaking information about any FISA warrant – is that not illegal? Did we not spend hours upon hours earlier this week listening to Nunes himself lament about the wretchedness of leaks, and how disgusting and despicable (not to mention criminal) the leakers are? Not to mention the wretchedness of using anonymous sources as a basis for reporting information. WHAT IN THE EVER LOVING HECK IS GOING ON??!! And WHY, for the love of God, is Fox News proclaiming that this is ANY kind of a “smoking gun” in terms of Trump’s ludicrious, outrageous, completely 100% (still) false claims that Obama “tapped his wires”??? EVERY SPY AGENCY HAS DENIED THIS AS EVEN BEING POSSIBLE. Good God. Are you that desperate to give Trump some shred of plausible cover for his preposterous, embarrassing, defamatory tweets that you are willing to push “news” articles like this onto your Trump-hungry, desperate-to-justify-his-every-word, still- frothing-at-the-mouth-at-the-mere-mention-of-Obama reader base?

Even for you, Fox News, this was low. You owe your readers real – ethical – journalism, not shameful partisan propaganda. Maybe your next piece should be some actual journalism to investigate the seriously shady circumstances surrounding Devin Nunes, his connection to Trump, and how in the hell he could ever be expected to lead a credible investigation into this matter.

Sad, Fox. Sad.

The Ideology of Healthcare Reform

Back in 2009, when the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare) was making its way through Congress, a debate was making its rounds amongst the American populace: “Is healthcare a right, or a privilege?”

This seemingly simple question spread through social media like wildfire at the time; today, it’s still around in some circles, but doesn’t seem nearly as prevalent as it was 8 years ago. The reason for this, I would suggest, is that the adoption of the ACA also ushered with it an implicit acceptance among the populace of its logical basis: that healthcare is indeed a basic human right, and that people of all income levels deserve to have it.

Unfortunately for most Americans, this premise of healthcare as a basic human right is not one that is yet ingrained in the dogma of the Republican Party. Healthcare as a privilege – or as Republicans frame it, as a market-based commodity – is still the reigning ideology of the right. The clash of ideology here, then – in viewing healthcare as a privilege as opposed to a right, described in operational terms as a market-based commodity as opposed to a social good – serves as the fundamental difference between Republican and Democratic visions for healthcare reform.   And now, with the slow-creeping acceptance throughout society of the view that healthcare does serve as a social good, Republicans find themselves faced with a conundrum: either they accept and adopt this mentality (or pretend to) and work towards a revision of the ACA that uses this as its framework, or they continue to push aside this view and present their entirely market-driven (if morally bankrupt) position that healthcare should be available to those who can pay for it.

This problem is highlighted when Donald Trump promises things, as he did on the campaign trail, that align with the Democratic vision of healthcare in America – universal coverage, low premiums and deductibles, minimum standards for what coverage plans must include. When he pledged, prior to taking office, that his vision for healthcare would lead to “…insurance for everybody,” that will be “much less expensive and much better,”  these talking points likely struck a dissonant chord with his Republican colleagues in Congress.

The ideological schism in the healthcare debate is on public display in the proposed ‘repeal and replace’ plan put forth by House Republicans earlier this week.   The proposal essentially serves up a massive tax cut for the wealthiest Americans (and donors) upon whom Obamacare relies to fund its keystone provisions, removes ACA protections for lower-income and elderly Americans, requires these same vulnerable populations to pay a significantly higher cost for less care, and spins this as some kind of a positive by alleging that the plan will increase “access to” care — giving that ever so slight nod of acknowledgement to the moral implications of recognizing healthcare as a social good (while still refusing, counterintuitively, to formulate a proposal that takes this into any kind of serious account). If these Americans can no longer afford health insurance or out of pocket healthcare costs, having access to such care is entirely meaningless.

If the GOP actually wants to fix the problems with Obamacare (which are plentiful), it must first accept the premise of its passage: that every American, and indeed every person, deserves healthcare – and that affordable health coverage is essential to attaining this end. If it accepts this, as well as government’s role in procuring it, then it can begin to work with Democrats toward a bipartisan solution to fix the ACA. If it does not accept this premise and remains unwilling to budge in its commitment to free market principles alone in the consideration of healthcare, then this “survival of the fittest” worldview will be entirely out of step with what most Americans want in terms of healthcare reform.

Healthcare is a social good. It coincides with the ideology enshrined in our Declaration of Independence, where “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are affirmed as our “unalienable rights,” which governments are instituted to secure. There is no right to life without healthcare. Any ideology which denies this fundamental truth is, quite simply, wrong. Now is the time for Republicans in Congress and the White House to work for the good of the people – their people – instead of continuing to push for the interests of big donors and insurance executives. For them to remain on the current path will lead almost certainly to the severe detriment (and likely death) of many vulnerable Americans.

The Problem with Partisans

There is no denying that today’s world is rife with hyperpartisanship. It’s everywhere, and it seems to infiltrate everything. One need look no further than to contrasting headlines from Huffington Post and Fox News (or similar examples) to describe a hot button issue in current events:

 

 

And the general public reading these sites? They tend to fall in line with the opinions put forth by the publications they like. If the views are hypocritical – to the point where you could literally swap out one prominent party figure’s name for another and spur an entirely different reaction – it doesn’t matter to them.

We’ve become a nation where it is party, not country, before all else. It is a trend that is endangering our democracy.

When citizens lose the ability to be discerning in a meaningful way about what they read, we enter an era in which critical thinking is set by the wayside. What do I mean by critical thinking? Let’s take the Google definition, to start:

The key word in this definition is the one that often eludes us most: “objective.” We can easily find and make analyses of issues, and even more easily form judgments, but to do so objectively requires something different. This involves more than a gut feeling, or a quick look at a few varying opinions, or even (perhaps especially) a propensity to look to certain public figures for their take on a given issue in order to “know where to stand” on it. If a news story comes out on a political matter in today’s world, how many Americans simply digest the information first – taking the facts and reports for themselves, processing them, trying to grasp and grapple with them – before heading over to a popular website to get the partisan “spin”? Very few, I’d wager.

And this is where we wade into the modern-day problem with prominent figures – many of whom are not reporters, journalists, or otherwise credentialed seekers of truth (not that all of the aforementioned can be characterized as such, but at least most profess as much in practicing established journalistic standards while they dig for stories and work with sources and editors to ensure accuracy) – who are, for lack of a softer term, purely partisan hacks.

Take, for example, Matt Walsh. A blogger who rose to fame from his “real-talk” takes on controversial issues, Walsh refers to himself as a “professional truth sayer” and often relies upon his self-identification as a Christian and conservative to defend his (often bombastic) contentions. Walsh is just one of the more prominent modern examples of a person who gained popularity primarily through the medium of blogging, but he is especially noteworthy because his central gimmick – that of being a straight shooter about things that others are perhaps ‘too hesitant’ to discuss – joins the ranks of a larger movement that has veered away from objective analysis and moved closer to the deep personalization of, seemingly, just about everything in contemporary culture.

The problem with this isn’t necessarily in blogging – obviously – or even in sharing one’s personal views with every willing participant within the world wide web. The problem arises when these personal views become conflated with objective analysis – or “truth,” as Walsh claims to have sole access to and ownership of – and readers begin to equate subjective, often impulsive rants with carefully researched evaluations.

I’ve written before on climate change; this is one serious issue where the gap between subjective feelings and scientific evidence could not be more prevalent, or consequential. The volumes of data and reams of peer reviewed research that forms a behemoth of clear support for climate change, along with its man-made acceleration, is countered in the virtual world with words of “belief” and “common sense.” It is the scientific equivalent of a mathematician stating that 2+2=4, and a random respondent replying that well, “perhaps YOU might think so, but I choose to think that 2+2 cannot really ever equal ANYTHING” – and then expecting for his opinion to carry equal weight in the matter. (And also of course, due to his presentation of a dissenting view, he will also now frame the issue as constituting a “debate.”)

For Walsh and others of his ilk, similar difficulties arise when they construe the mere virtue of their own popularity as a valid basis for presenting personal opinions as objective truths. And this is not only disingenuous; is it dangerous.

A couple of days ago, Walsh weighed in on the controversy surrounding Attorney General Jeff Sessions amid revelations that Sessions had met twice with a Russian ambassador during the campaign season, yet had not disclosed this information when questioned under oath. The story had broken less than a day before Walsh opted to weigh in with his “expert take” – Walsh, who is neither a political operative nor a legal expert, who is not a player in any aspect of the situation, who has not engaged in any form of actual journalism in uncovering details of the story, who has no access to any data or intelligence beyond what has been presented in the media, who is most certainly not an independent special investigator into the issue – and decided to announce with an air of unequivocal ‘truthiness’ that “there’s nothing strange” about any of these revelations and that we all need to “get a grip.”

One needn’t be a rocket scientist (or even a popular blogger) to understand that serious matters of national security are rarely, if ever, issues that can be easily condensed into simple black-and-white narratives. It is even less likely that these narratives can be clearly discerned in a span of fewer than 24 hours from when they were first revealed.

What *should* be clear to all Americans after the Sessions revelations is that the story constitutes one more among a string of incidents tying Trump associates to Russian operatives in less-than-forthcoming ways. What *should* be the response of the average American is one that demands further, and exhaustive, inquiry. This raises questions – many questions. A plethora of questions. And to dismiss these revelations offhand, with nary a glance in the direction of the objective pursuit of truth, is a dishonor to the very duties of basic American citizenship.

There is literally nothing to be lost from appointing an independent investigator into the slew of odd connections that are popping up between Trump associates and Russian operatives. If the billows of smoke in fact lead to no fire, then let us all rest more easily in the comfort of that knowledge. If there are deeper and more serious connections involved…then the integrity of American democratic institutions is at stake. The only clear truth is here that we all need more answers.

I certainly don’t have those answers here. I don’t pretend to have them, either. I don’t think anyone does, yet – not even Matt Walsh, blogger and Keeper of Truth.

We must fiercely guard our democracy against external threats, but also, we must guard against internal threats. This includes blinding ourselves with the harsh rays of partisanship. No one benefits when critical thinking becomes a last, rather than a first, resort. We may be a nation divided, but let us not be divided on that.

Review: Joint Address to Congress

Last night, the president gave a speech to Congress. In any other presidency, that would be the extent of the news story and headline (perhaps with a tweak or two from especially right or left leaning sources). In a Trump presidency, this qualifies as earth-shattering news that dominates every outlet and Twitter feed in America for at least a full 24 hours. Much of the mainstream media, seemingly desperate to escape constant accusations of anti-Trump bias, clamored over one another after the speech’s conclusion to extol its deeply presidential tone. Right-leaning commentators called it a “slam dunk” and issued such incisive reaction statements as, “now THIS is a president the Democrats can no longer ignore.”

(I’ll leave aside for the moment the laughable implication that ANYONE has been able to ignore this president since he took office.)

But here’s the reality check: the president read a speech off a Teleprompter for about an hour and half without messing up. That’s the extent of what happened. It wasn’t masterful oratory and the speech itself wasn’t anything particularly great. (It also was riddled with the usual flurry of falsehoods and concerning nationalistic undertones.) There was one noteworthy moment, of course, when the president brought up Ryan Owens, the Navy SEAL who perished last month in the Trump-ordered Yemen raid, and pointed out his widow in the audience. The two minute standing ovation and applause for Carryn Owens, and for the memory of her fallen husband, was a powerful scene. Unfortunately, the media’s extolling of Trump in this moment as mind-blowingly presidential (with a capital “P,” as one pundit exclaimed), was once again off the mark.

Let us not forget that earlier in the same day, the president blamed the military for the loss of Owens’ life – taking no personal responsibility whatsoever for the operation that was carried out under his direct authority.

Let us not forget that that reports indicate that the president’s hastily-given command – decided over dinner – was what set in motion the monumentally disastrous raid that wound up costing Owens his life. And that it still has not, as of the most recent reports, yielded any shred of significant intelligence.

Let us not forget that the president, for the first military raid ordered under his command, could not be bothered to oversee the mission in the Situation Room – choosing instead to Tweet about an upcoming television appearance while the raid was underway.

Let us not forget that Owens’ father made news headlines for questioning the raid, demanding answers, and criticizing Trump for using his son’s death as a shield against those calling for an investigation.

Let us not forget that the president aimed to clear his name of any raid-associated wrongdoing and needed desperately for public opinion to view the mission, and by extension his order of it, as a success.

Let us not forget that the president’s speech was designed to characterize the mission precisely as such: highly successful, generating “large amounts of vital intelligence.”

Let us not forget that the president followed this carefully crafted characterization with his cheap exploitation of Owens’ wife and her pain – not primarily to honor her husband’s sacrifice, but to score political points for himself.

If no one follows up on the questions surrounding Owens’ death that had emerged prior to this speech – and make no mistake, that was the intent – it would be a grave disservice to Ryan Owens and his grieving family. They deserve answers.

But yes, overall, the president succeeded in showing that he can appear quasi-presidential for a brief, prompted, carefully orchestrated period of time. Is this the metric for what makes a great president now?

I’ll wait and see what comes next. My cautious warning would be to prepare for colossal absurdities, questionable policy goals and a whole boatload of poor governance. But do keep lauding that speech – or sorry, just the fact that he read it.

“Slam dunk,” indeed.

How Much is Trump Costing Taxpayers?

I was going to write a detailed post about this, but that would require a lot of effort to dig up specific facts that no one really seems to bother with too much anymore.

So the short answer is: a $hitload.

The slightly less short answer is: a $hitload, because he keeps jetting off to his luxury Florida resort almost every weekend — a slightly more than a month into the job — and also has us paying for upscale NYC security accommodations for his wife and youngest son, along with security accommodations for his older sons’ business ventures around the world, along with what I can only assume are a massive number of assorted additional personal luxuries to accommodate the opulent lifestyle our billionaire president is accustomed to living.

The long answer is: a $hitload…and counting.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Meanwhile, the World is Burning

It seems like every day – and often more frequently than that – a new scandal erupts from the White House. From appointments, to resignations, to Russia, to botched executive order roll-outs, to immigration crackdowns, to declaring media “the enemy of the people,” to an array of other fast and furious things that I can’t even remember at this point, it’s certainly been an eventful 5 weeks (??!!) since Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Maybe that’s the price we pay for having elected a political novice into the most important political role in the world.

The president does not seem overly concerned about too many of these scandals – but then again, he does not seem overly concerned about much beyond his own self-image. He has a Republican-majority Congress content to sit on its hands to keep its own party in power. He has all the billionaires and Wall Street tycoons he wants perched happily atop his Cabinet, ready to swoop in and nix regulations to benefit himself and his fellow rich buddies. He has determined that his masterful skills in comprehension don’t require him to engage in virtually any on-the-job training, including reading in-depth security briefings (“graphs and succinct bullet points” are reportedly necessary for any intelligence information the president receives). Rather than actually work for the people who elected him, the newly inaugurated president of the United States spends most of his time watching cable TV news, reading a selection of news articles about himself and impulsively Tweeting furious insult-laden responses toward whatever (or whomever) particularly offends his fragile ego. And the man who criticized Obama while on the campaign trail for taking too much time for vacations and golf games has already racked up millions of dollars on the taxpayers’ dime to jet off to his luxury Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida not once, not twice, but three times – spending 11 of his first 33 days in office playing extended golf games and enjoying some fine dining to decompress from all the hard work of halfheartedly attempting to do his job for a few days.

But I digress. I’ll admit, it’s hard not to. The stories coming out of the current administration are frenetic and prolific. The president himself appears to be a one-man circus.

Did you know, though, that all this insanity isn’t even the point of this post? I know. Crazy. The president seems to highjack every story these days, and apparently my own thoughts play out no differently.

So…what is the point? You may be wondering. More or less, it is this: that despite all the current turmoil in American (and global) politics, there is a huge looming crisis on the horizon that doesn’t give two poops about Donald Trump, Congress, American citizens or any other global inhabitants. And if you haven’t guessed it yet, please don’t let your eyes glaze over when I tell you that this crisis is climate change.

Yes, climate change. Climate change. CLIMATE CHANGE. People must be sick of hearing about it by now. It’s been a talking point for decades, including when it was described in the more narrow terminology of global warming. “Stop talking about climate change!” is something I imagine many people thinking in their internal monologues, especially after happening to click into some article or another about starving polar bears or melting ice shelves. “I don’t want to hear about the stupid polar bears! I just want to live my life! LA LA LA.” (That’s kind of the rest of the internal monologues I imagine, in case that wasn’t immediately clear.)

The problem, at present, is that the reason climate change keeps coming back as a topic point (and an ever increasingly insistent one) is that we largely HAVE just been ignoring it – and that, unless we are all content with complete and total worldwide destruction and chaos, is simply not something we can continue to do.

I hate to be a downer about this. Reading just one of these articles on the calamitous effects of climate change can lead a person to just wallow in despair. I know, because I do this just about every day. It literally keeps me up at night. And unlike the current stories dominating most of the news cycle, it’s not flashy and scandalous (as far as issues go). It doesn’t have immediate who-what-where implications that can be discerned and dissected. Rather, it’s an issue based in long-term trends, with a ginormous number of contributors, and the only path to combating it is one based in both national and global coordination and action – drastic action. It’s the exact kind of issue that makes an average everyday person sit down and go, “Damn.” And then assume nothing can be done, so let’s just have another beer and think about something less depressing.

I get this, I really and truly do. But the problem is that now, things are happening. The past few years, even to casual observers, have not been normal in terms of our weather and climate. The predictions that scientists made – that climate change would lead increasingly to more severe and dramatic weather events, that sea levels would rise and threaten low-lying areas, that overall warmth would dramatically increase – are all coming to pass.

It is happening, no matter how much climate denialists (who tend to be either well-funded apologists for the oil industry or incredibly gullible/stubborn people who believe their demonstrably false and criminally deceptive claims) want to wave their arms and direct attention literally anywhere else.

It’s happening, whether politicians choose to admit it or not.

It’s happening, whether or not YOU want to keep hearing about it.

It’s time to end the political hand-wringing about the “scientific debate” and to make serious policy steps toward fixing this massive impending crisis. Gutting the EPA and ending climate research is literally the worst thing our country could be doing right now.

I want the arctic to remain. I want the oceans to remain vibrant and full of marine life. I want populations threatened by drought and rising sea levels to be able to survive.

And selfishly, I want my children to be able to walk outside of the house in 20-30 years, during the height of summer, without facing blistering heat at every step. I want them to know seasons, and sea life, and what it’s like to have relatively stable weather patterns for the majority of the time. I want air conditioning to remain a luxury, instead of a necessity for survival. Right now, we are heading straight for a path where all of this may not be possible. And it’s terrifying.

BREAKING: Universe Pledges to Put an End to Rhetorical Questions, Once and for All

Amid a noticeable uptick in the frequency of rhetorical questions it has been fielding recently — including “What’s the worst that could happen?” and “Come on, how bad could it get, really??” — the Universe has issued a scathing rebuke in the form of its decision, which some opponents have called “sadistic,” to actually answer them.

“I just got really tired of hearing these questions over and over,” the Universe explained in an exclusive interview.  “Like, you really think I can’t make things any worse for you people?”

Citing “an annoying degree of nonchalance” about circumstances that were clearly designed to evoke reactions of fear, shock, horror and disgust, the Universe has abandoned its previous policy of nonintervention and has now pledged to exacerbate any and all conflicts — particularly those that are political in nature — in order to “teach these idiots a lesson.”

No word yet on what steps might be taken by the Universe should rhetorical questions of the same ilk continue to persist, nor of how other affected parties will respond to this dramatic shift in policy.  Reality, for its part, has remained remarkably quiet despite massive numbers of rhetorical questions inquiring as to its whereabouts in recent weeks.

This is a developing story.

American Dreams, Into the Ether

This is not the America I know.

The America I know is represented by the words engraved on the Statue of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

The America I know represents not only freedom, but empathy; its people may be divided on many things, but in one certainty they never waver – that America is the home of the free, and the land of the brave. Is it bravery to close our door to those in desperate need? Those refugees, countless children among them, fleeing war, persecution, and the constant threat of death? Those who have been vetted exhaustively, who have endured hardships most of us will never conceive of in our lifetimes, who held on to one final shred of hope that a new life might be possible for them in America, who are now crushed by the weight of one man’s indefensible decision to shun them at the very hour of their entry?

These are people. These are human beings. They are no more a threat to the safety of this country than any of its native citizens may be — likely even less, given the level of scrutiny of the already-painstaking vetting process.

And to take such drastic, life-altering action without any regard for the repercussions not only for those who are immediately affected, but for all Americans – for our standing in the eyes of the world, for the inevitable consequences that will be thrust upon us from those countries who interpret such action as an (understandable) affront – it is to act on impulse; it is to act without concern. It is to act in a manner that is undeniably dangerous for us all.

I believe in our country. I love our country. These actions do not represent the greatness of our country.

This is not the America I know.

 

Inauguration Day

Today is a momentous day. A solemn day. A day of reflection on not only a personal, but a national scale.

On today, the Inauguration Day of our 45th president, I find myself deeply introspective about the state of American politics and the citizens of this great country.

The post below represents my immediate thoughts on the events of not just today, but the future of America.

In a world with Donald Trump now officially at the helm, we must all take the time to figure out how to proceed.  We must discern what, ultimately, our American identity will be.

I hope you’ll consider my post below with the same kind of honest evaluation that I tried to put into writing it.

God Bless America.